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About A DARKER MOON Abe Finchley is a damaged man, an orphan with no roots and no family ties. When he finally meets the woman he has been looking for all his life, he finds not just love and passion, but a dark and violent family history that spans generations into humanity’s deepest past. Eve is the woman of his dreams; but dream is just another word for nightmare, and Abe knows all about those. Amidst a confused web of lies and secrets, Abe is trying to discover who he is and make sense of what he may become. More than just his future and his new-found love is at stake. When he discovers that he has a brother, a man bound by divine destiny to kill him, Abe is going to have to make a difficult choice. A choice that might redeem the world. A choice that just might destroy it. A Darker Moon is a dark, psychological fantasy. A mythical tale of light and shadow and the unlit places where it is best not to shine even the dimmest light.


I A small brown owl perches on my cot rail, its huge, yellow eyes like two full harvest moons. It may only be a little owl, but those eyes are big enough to drown an infant, and I have a sense of falling, of being sucked in and down towards two pools of deep moonlight. It is my earliest memory. It is followed very closely, within the variable flow of remembered time, by another in which an elderly woman, whom retrospectively I have assumed to be one of my many carers, taps my lips with an ungentle finger and mutters unintelligible mantras, unintelligible that is, except for one word, “Lilith.” That word and the two luminous drowning pools imprinted themselves on my consciousness and haunted me into adulthood. Even now, I sometimes wake with a start from a dream in which I am forever falling to hear the fading hiss of a whispered “Lilith,” convinced I have been listening to mumbled septuagenarian incantations in my sleep. As for owls, they have a morbid fascination for me, but I couldn’t bear to live within the sound of their call. I think it is fair to say that I did not have a settled childhood and most of my different carers and foster homes have become something of an amorphous blur in the mental album of my recollections. In addition to the early memories, the only other strong image I have from this first period of my life is of my mother, or rather, of the one and only photograph that I have of her. I do not actually remember my mother. When she abandoned me in a basket on the steps of a North London synagogue, the only things she left me with were barely enough blankets, my first name (written on the back of an address card of a less than reputable Soho nightclub of the time), and a black and white photograph of herself. At least everyone, including me, has always assumed that it is a photograph of her. There is no name or inscription on the photo, or any other indication as to whom it is. But why would you leave a photograph of just anyone with an abandoned baby; it must be my mother. It has to be her. In the photograph, she is standing partially side on to the camera with her face turned to look at the photographer. She holds her hands behind her back. And in them is something dark, it is not clear what: a clutch bag or a book, maybe? Perhaps she was studious. Her hair is long, black, and gently wavy. She is wearing it loose and slightly unkempt. Her dark eyes stare directly at the camera, her face unsmiling, but not stern; more quietly confident, mildly challenging, maybe a trifle arrogant. Wearing a long baggy dress and beads, a feather boa draped around her neck and with her tousled hair, she looks like a hippy, a sixties love-child. Sometimes, I wonder if I was the real love-child: a freebie that came with the free


love of the era; an unexpected and unasked for acquisition that she felt equally free to give away and pass on without compunction or guilt. On days when I am feeling somewhat more generous towards her, I wonder if she was a working girl, hence the nightclub card, who fell on hard times and gave me up, with tears and regrets, in order to give me a better life than she could offer. Who knows? I certainly don’t, but at least I have the freedom to create stories that shine a little light on the gloomier and more uncertain parts of my life. Of my father I know even less: no name, no photograph, no nothing. My hair and eye colour are dark like the woman’s in the photograph. Does that mean my father was equally dark, or just that my mother’s were the stronger genes of the two? The fact that I know nothing of my father does not bother me. The little information I have about my mother, as constructed from her possible photograph, gnaws away at me, but over the years I have had to learn to deal with the bite marks. Yet another unknown aspect of my heritage is my faith: Am I Jewish? My mother had dark hair and eyes and abandoned me at a synagogue; little enough to go on, but it might indicate a Hebrew legacy, mightn’t it? I, too, am dark-haired and dark-eyed and my name is Old Testament kosher, though I am not circumcised. This gave the rabbi who found me, like a land-locked, latter-day Moses, something of a dilemma: Should he hand over full responsibility for me to the secular authorities, or ensure I was brought up as one of the chosen people? It would have been nice to have been chosen. My maybe-mother looked as if she might have been Jewish, which should have counted for something, but there was no way of telling. I had been found on a Friday, just at sunset, so the rabbi kept me for the Sabbath and then handed me over, lock, stock and blankets, to Social Services as soon as possible the following Monday morning, and I do mean as soon as possible. One of my old social workers told me he was standing on the department steps, with me and the basket thrust down at his feet, well before anyone had arrived at the office to open up. From this inauspicious start in life I entered the state care system as a doubly rejected child of unknown parentage and indeterminate faith, with only a set of poor quality blankets, an anonymous photograph, and a card from the disreputable Black Moon Club to my name.


II I have other memories; some quite vivid. Those that I can place chronologically, I have built into the story of my childhood. That will come later. But, there are memories I cannot locate in time, cannot anchor to a there or then, or anything that flows with the current of my story. “Bastard! Got no mummy. Got no daddy. You’re a bastard. Bar. Stud.” “I’m not.” “No mummy. No daddy. Bastard. Bastard.” “I’ve got a mummy. I’ve got a mummy. I have.” I had. I have. Then there was the cat. She was little more than a kitten, really, silky black fur, a white line down her nose, little white paws, and she was mine. She adopted me. She took titbits from my fingers and purred when I came near. Then I heard him. “Evie. Evie. Come here, Evie.” “She won’t come to you.” “Yes she will. Evie, come here, Evie.” “She won’t come to you. She’s mine, and she’s not called Evie.” “She’s not yours. She’s not anybody’s, and if I want to call her Evie, I can.” “Can’t.” “Can.” “Can’t.” “What do you call her?” “I don’t.” “Then I can call her what I like. Evie, come here, Evie.” And she came. To him. She took food from out of his hand. And she purred. I never fed her after that. If she came after me, I threw stones at her. Some hit her. She yowled. She never bothered me again I can also remember books. Rows and rows of them. Stacks. A library. Old and dusty. Were they mine? No one else seemed interested in them, so they can’t have been very valuable. I can’t remember what was in them, what they were about. What was the value of them? Only what I remember. And finally, candles. Rows and rows of them, too. Lighting the way down the steps: steep, made of stone, going all the way down into the blackness at the bottom. Dark, moist, waiting. “You dream of candles. You’re weird.”


“No I’m not.” “Weird boy. Weird boy.” “I’m not weird. It’s only a dream. Everybody dreams.” “Weird boy, weirdy boy, beardy boy, bastard. Got no mummy nor no daddy. Bastard. Barst. Ud.” “I’m not. I’ve got a mummy. I have. I have. I’ve seen her picture. She’s mine.”


About the Author

J.S.Watts was born and grew up in London, England, and now lives and writes in East Anglia in the UK. In between, she read English at Somerville College, Oxford and spent many years working in the British education sector. She remains committed to the ideals of further and higher education despite governments of assorted political persuasions apparently trying to demolish them. Her poetry, short stories and book reviews appear in a range of publications in Britain, Canada, Australia and the States including Acumen, Brittle Star, Envoi, Hand + Star, Mslexia and Orbis and have been broadcast on BBC and independent Radio. She has been Poetry Reviews Editor for Open Wide Magazine and, for a brief while, Poetry Editor for Ethereal Tales. Her debut poetry collection, “Cats and Other Myths” and a subsequent poetry pamphlet, “Songs of Steelyard Sue” are published by Lapwing Publications. She has read and performed all over the UK, including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Vagabondage Press

A Darker Moon by J.S. Watts  

Abe Finchley is a damaged man, an orphan with no roots and no family ties. When he finally meets the woman he has been looking for all his l...

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