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THE DIARY OF A LIGHTHOUSE KEEPER ‘She came to my bed again last night.’ Said the lighthouse keeper … ‘My love, my assassin, a woman of proud integrity. A waitress, a mannequin, a teller of strange tales. It is so lonely here – that I await her coming with greed and fear. Sometimes months pass, and I am in despair. Sometimes she comes often, and casually takes her place beside me in the bed. I try to control my breathing; afraid to show my fear. – She laughs at me. – She knows me well; too well; better, I think, than I know myself. Above us the light revolves. Above us grind the great gears.


Above out heads, the machine whispers revolution and keeps faith with ancient history. Whilst she and I make complicated patterns of other and ourselves.’ The lighthouse you see – The lighthouse, like all light-houses, houses ghosts. The lighthouse is a place of loneliness Loneliness and mystery! This is why One such as I Unprepossessing, uncomely Attract her And why she Cannot help herself’ But comes to me!


THE VOICE OF AUTHORITY "Put another bead on the thread, And get on with it." said the Production Controller. I looked at him. I made my eyes ‘shine with admiration’, "You're so 'manly', so authoritative, so sexy!" My look - the look I just gave him said. But secretly I thought: "Why do you wear your brains on the outside of your head ?" I grinned the grin of a lower rank, One who expects to be patronised, ‘looked down on', bullied, even despised, but, one who will take a few meagre favours whilst they’re going, say, during the intervals. "Would it not be better to put in an occasional knot ?" I suggested. "Why ?" he said, "What would be the use of that ?" "Then, when a cord snaps….." I replied, "Then, not all the beads will be lost.' "The cords are not designed to break." he said.


I smiled. I knew perfectly well that the beads would all be spilled. I know all about cords 'not designed to break' "Very well," I said, and I added a dry "Sir." to confirm his authority. When I had finished the row, I gave the cord a sharp tug. The beads cascaded over the floor. I looked at him. I widened my eyes to show surprise. He was furious - Too furious to speak. I said nothing. I simply began to thread the beads one by one. At intervals of every three or four, I tied a knot. He saw me do this, he saw alright, - but he made no comment. After all, he is a Controller, - I am just a worker We know each other quite well now. And now we each know where we stand.


THE VANISHING POINT (First published in triquarterly) When the figure, the tree, the building, reach the vanishing-point, they cannot, of course, be distinguished one from another. But here in the foreground we can see thinning hair, the slight sign of fatigue, the scale of each this, every that. Here, in the foreground we can see the tree, the foliage, or the bare branches and also small twigs and even the occasional small bird or flying or crawling insect. This, with the whole context of weather, place, time of day, makes everything contend at once. From all these appearences,this clamour of impressions, we have to select something particular, and make it a finite point of concentration. The more imaginative amongst us can manage two or three of these things at once, just as we can feel a number of simultaneous sensations: an aching neck, a cold wind in the face, and a vague sense of love for some companion. Or some passion in the heart (and maybe, the groin) for the same, or perhaps some other (?). But what it all means is somehow always at the vanishingpoint.


THE VISION Seated on a rock overlooking a rocky bay with snow-capped mountains behind her and the large rollers coming in from the sea, she saw nothing of her surroundings. What she saw in the foam of the waves was her own face frowning. Her lover, or former lover - who could be sure of love for more than few hours at a time? - was there also in the pools between the rocks grinning at her, trying to remove her frown with the antics of a clown. He was a riot, her lover, the way that he would dance up and down with a funny hat on his head and his exceedingly droll 'Jack the lad' smile on his face. It took away everything, that smile. Whilst ever he wore that smile, there could be no anger or hurt felt by anyone else. Whilst ever he wore that smile there was no need to be responsible for or about anything. That smile was a real gas! - A winner, an: 'I'm O.K., doll! So love me, love me, love me,' heartwarming winner!


He was not there- not on the beach, nor on the rocks, but he was there in her vision. The noise of the sea on the rocks was not the noise of the sea, but a heart beating an angry rhythm in time with her heart. Her forehead ached with the effort of keeping back the tide. The unseen mountains behind her were like the distant mountains of unsaid words, the great unsayable things that had stood towering over her and behind her all her life. Her life was a life of walls, of furniture, of paintings, trees, crowds of people, shadows and mountains: - especially of dark, looming, oppressive mountains. The mountains she could not see, and the sea she did not see, were like all those great vague masses which loomed or surged about her. They were like the great moments of history. Themes, great themes and rhythms, great rhythms were behind her, and before her. But she saw neither, felt neither. But they were there as surely, and as palpably, perhaps more palpably, perhaps more surely, than the image before


her which made her head ache from frowning. "He is a fool," she whispered aloud to herself. "I hate him. He is a fool and I was a fool to ever think otherwise. And to think that I thought I loved him once- that makes me a worse fool than he is." She shivered at the sound of her own voice. She heard the sea roaring on the rocks. She stood slowly and turned her back upon the sea and looked at the distant hills. She no longer saw his face grinning at her. She turned back and walked back from the waves and rocks towards her home. She no longer saw her own image before her, just the familiar shapes of houses, cars, shops, people and behind all these, the ever distant hills. The visionary moment was lost, and she went back to her apartment to cook his supper for him. She resumed her familiar life. She had had no vision. – That was gone. – Vanished,


vanished in a cloud of salt spray perhaps? The waves had been just waves and the salt spray had been no more than a mist caused by the sea on the rocks and the mountains were just mountains, and just as as familiar as ever. When he came in he was frowning. Something, or someone had upset him. She asked him what it was, but he did not answer. She smiled at him to try to loosen the hold of the depression she felt was moving about between them. She touched his arm and stroked his hair, and for a time forgot that she no longer loved him. But out there in the darkness, beyond hearing or seeing, the mountains heaved, and the sea lay still, tideless, without motion.


WASHING-UP Washing-up requires hot water Because the spoons have been in many mouths And have, over time, Been shared by those who mutter oaths, By those whose breath spills out laughter And by the silent masticators Who take the meal silently apart. They have been between lips lately lost in kissing Or over vulgar tongues licking out the last Flavours of old quarrels. So washing-up is an art, But it is as well to remember That it also cleans the hands as well as the spoons Although this often requires much repetition If we are to remove All traces of our guilt.

Lovers Relatives and other Enemies  

Short Fiction Volume 5

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