4 Sep

PILE OF ROCKS photo: Ancient temple n43702659_30964277_5006.jpg16.

There can be little more confusing than the antics of a blind man holding a gun and determined to shoot someone. Blinky was that blind man and he wasn’t quite certain who the someone might be when he pulled the trigger, but he pulled it anyway.
The bullet missed Angelina’s left breast by a whisker and smashed into the tumbledown stone wall just behind her.
It was then that a few rules involving random chance came into play.
Before Angelina could protest in a loud and very annoyed voice – remember, she was dressed in very little due to the warm nature of the weather when she’d left 221C – the bullet did its work.
Tumbledown buildings are tumbledown for a reason, and that has to do with a combination of age, gravity and general neglect. In this instance the stone the bullet struck was loose and cracked, and the impact loosened it further and completed the crack so that one stone became two stones. One of those stones fell out, nudging the other stone, which also fell out. Other stones – they had been there for centuries, don’t forget, but had been supported down the ages by the newly dislodged masonry – began to descend until the one stone shot by the random pulling of Blinky’s trigger became an avalanche. And amidst that avalanche there was a great deal of dust, dust crafted by time from crumbled rock, human skin (most dust, remember, is human skin, and this was skin that had flaked off human bodies over many centuries and just lain where it had settled like good dust does) as well as other debris that mischance had lodged here, there and everywhere.
The air became filled with the sight of that avalanche, and then the smell of it together with the roar it made.
“Come on!” urged Royston, and before the first half-stone had splintered on the ground he had grabbed Angelina firmly by her wrist and was charging out of the building as though all the hounds of hell (are there hounds in hell?) were after him.
“Whaaaa..” called Blinky, and being blind he couldn’t see one speckle of dust let alone the might of the disintegrating building’s collapse, but he could hear it – and that was enough to send him scuttling for safety as well.
Finally, the peak-capped Gabriel Smith decided that there was little capital to be gained from being crushed to death by ancient masonry, and he raced out as well. His maiden aunt, she who had been thoughtfully buried (by him) under the nave of the church was provided with an extra layer of protection as the building heaved itself to total destruction.
And the four living humans stood outside the chaos of demolition and just stared. At least, three of them stared – the fourth, wearing the pitch-black spectacles of the blind, couldn’t.
When he saw the extent of his near-escape from certain death, Royston felt the familiar darkness descending on him, and he collapsed into a heap on the ground while the last fragments of falling stone settled into place. Angelina was getting used to this weakness of his and slapped his face with the kind of violence she wouldn’t have dreamed of using two days earlier, and he opened his eyes, only to shut them in an instant because the way she was standing over him afforded him a delightful view up her very small skirt, and he was too much of a gentleman to take advantage of it.
“What is it?” she hissed, “falling over all the time like this? It’s a weakness you’ve got to sort out or one day you might fall under a passing car…”
“Just move,” he whispered, “your skirt…”
She looked down, and saw what he meant. “Silly boy,” she said quietly, “that doesn’t matter…”
“Now then!” rasped Blinky, “where’s that loupe thing? Have you got it?”
“Safe and sound,” croaked Royston, pulling himself upright. “In my pocket…”
He took it out and held it for all except the blind Blinky to see. It was a pathetic looking piece of optical equipment. Even the glass lens appeared to be cracked, and the gold-plating on the body of the thing was scratched.
“Good!” snapped Blinky, “then off we go!”
“That’s not my eyeglass,” muttered Gabriel Smith, “mine wasn’t scratched and cracked like that!”
“It fell when you put it in that wooden thing you’d made for it,” Royston reminded him.
“But mine was special! It had belonged to Auntie and it was going to waken her from her long sleep…”
“She’s dead,” Angelina reminded him, and she put one arm round his shoulders, pulling him gently towards her. “Dead people are dead for ever,” she added, “their flesh sort of rots away, their blood dries up or drains away, their bones crumble and in the end there’s no trace of them. No sign that they ever lived. They can’t be woken by a flash of sunlight even if it is focussed through an ancient glass!”
“They can’t?” he stammered.
“Of course not,” she whispered. “Nor can a living man take them in his arms and make love to them… they’ve gone, dust to dust and ashes to ashes…”
“And earth to earth…” mumbled Gabriel. “Do you think I’m a little bit mad?”
“More than a little bit!” snorted Blinky.
“Shut up, sir!” snapped Angelina, and she turned back to Gabriel. “You’re no madder than the rest of us,” she told him quietly. “We’re all a little bit mad, don’t you know? Inspector Curmudgeon is for wanting to wear thick black spectacles when he might one day be able to see again, Royston is for not daring to see what’s there, and blacking out all the time, and I am, for wanting to spend the rest of my life with Royston…”
“What do you mean, might one day be able to see again?” barked Blinky, and he snatched the glasses off his own face … and blinked as a wave of real and natural light, dull because of the dismal corner of the world where they were standing, but bright enough by far, flooded into eyes that had been denied light for weeks.
“Crikey!” he shouted. “I can see!”
“You want … to spend … all the rest of your life…?” gabbled Royston, and he felt the wave of darkness start to encompass him again, but this time he fought against it. He fought, and won.
“Clever boy,” breathed Angelina, “come on, let’s go home – to my place – and I’ll teach you a thing or two about the flesh… just you see if I don’t!”
“But I can see!” roared Blinky, “the world looks a bit … a bit scratched, but I can see it!”
“What about auntie?” groaned Gabriel.
“Here: give this to her…” said Royston, and he hurled the eyeglass towards the fallen piles of rubble that had, until so recently, been a disintegrating old church. And as it slid between the shattered masonry a cloud rose, shapeless, no more than dust, supposed Royston.
But it took the shape of an old woman for a moment, and then, like dust does, settled back to Earth.
“She’s gone…” sighed Gabriel, “and all I wanted, for one more time…”
“What?” asked Royston.
“It… it doesn’t matter…. not now, it doesn’t matter,” whispered Gabriel, shaking his head.
© Peter Rogerson 04.09.14



  1. pambrittain September 4, 2014 at 9:28 pm #

    There are those two little words, but what a great ending. Bravo!

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