Tale #35: The Lonely Man’s Tale

I was, O Lord, deep in thought in the garden of my house one afternoon when I was awakened from my slumber by a calling from above.

A cat sat in the cherry tree and it said down to me, “You look all alone. Would you give me some dinner in exchange for an afternoon of my company?”

And of course I said yes and the cat leapt down from the tree and settled on my lap. And she purred as I stroked her and the afternoon passed in contentment for the both of us.

As the sun began to set the cat leapt from my lap and went through the back door and into my house. Inside, I found in my kitchen not the cat but an anteater. It was a huge beast, and with its long snout it snuffled through my cupboards and opened up my jars of sugars and sweets, and with its long tongue it licked out the food within until the jars were spotless and clean.

Once it had finished eating the anteater turned to me and said, “You look all alone. Would you give me somewhere to sleep for the night in exchange for an evening of my company?”

And of course I said yes and the anteater sat at the kitchen table and together we played cards for the rest of the evening. And time passed pleasantly for the both of us.

As the clock chimed midnight, the anteater played her last hand and said goodnight and got down off the chair and went into my bedroom.

Inside my room, I found not an anteater but a woman lying in my bed. And she looked up at me and said, “You look all alone. What would you give for a night of my company?”

I said, “All that I own,” and she pulled back the covers and invited me in.

The next day, O Lord, I was alone again. And I was deep in thought in the park of our town when I was awakened from my slumber by a calling from above.

A crow sat in the peach tree and said to me, “I watched you all day, and I watched you all night. If you would give up everything you have for a dream of a woman, what would you give to truly end your loneliness once and for all?”

And I said to the bird, “I may have given her all that I own, but not all that I have, for I still have my heart. And to truly end my loneliness, it would not be enough to give it away. It would have to be taken.”

The crow listened to what I said. She hopped down from her perch and opened my shirt with a swish of her wings and with her beak she cut open my chest and tore away a tiny sliver of flesh from the corner of my heart. Then she took wing and flew high up into the sky.

And, O My Lord, I followed.

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Notes:

1. Written May 27th, 2016

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blood

There was blood in the garden
thick across the stepping stones
and paving slabs
echoes of a fight here last night
or the aftermath of one elsewhere

between
what?
cats
and foxes
cats
and birds
cats
and cats

or a hedgehog perhaps
dragged out of the dead leaves
beneath the bamboo
carved open
by tooth
and claw
and carried away
from this fenced-in prison
to someone else’s lair

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Notes:

1. Written on September 15th, 2017

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Trick Or Treat

I’d never been trick or treating before. It wasn’t really a thing when we were kids. Instead of trick or treating you’d just run around in the dark throwing eggs and flour at each other over the park until the park keeper chased you away.

There was nothing more frightening and exhilarating when you were 14 than the beam of the park keeper’s torch sweeping through the trees and all of us scattering away into the night.

So this year, as my 40th birthday treat, we decided to go trick or treating. Proper trick or treating, with costumes and little buckets for the sweets and everything.

The most terrifying thing I could think of was being a teenager again so I was dressed up as myself from 1992: long greasy hair, a ned’s atomic dustbin t-shirt, an awkward straight limbed stance, a neck dotted with shaving cuts, several thousand suicidal thoughts per second.

My sister was dressed up as some sort of cat, and my mother was dressed up as the log lady from twin peaks.

The log lady isn’t frightening, I said to my mother. She said “Well, you can’t hear what the log’s saying.”

“I suppose,” I said, and shrugged in non-agreement agreement.

Cats aren’t frightening, I said to my sister. She scratched at my eyes and bit my throat out and then dragged me back to the house and left me on the doorstep for my father to find.

I didn’t really have an answer for that.

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Notes:

1. Written on September 9th, 2018

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Tale #12: The Old Woman Who Lived In The Woods

There was an old woman who lived in the woods.

“Are you a witch?” asked the crow.

“I am, my dear,” she said, and the crow cawed and shared with her its breakfast.

“Are you a witch?” asked the cat.

“I am, my dear,” she said, and the cat purred and shared with her its lunch.

“Are you a witch?’ asked the priest.

“I am, my dear,” she said, and the priest fell silent and kept for himself his dinner.

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Notes:

1. Written on August 9th, 2014

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Oil

The oil soaked into the carpet in an ever-widening circle of shame around us both as we copulated on the living room floor.

When we reached our climactic finish, our cries caused the cat to jump down in fright from the settee and run obliviously through the mess and out through the half-opened door, leaving a trail of black footprints behind him as he ran into the hall and up the stairs.

“Oh god, I’m sorry,” I said, looking at the mess. “I’m getting old, these days. It’s my knees. If I don’t lubricate them they seize up. But then when I do, I leak.”

“Urgh,” said the scarecrow. “You could have warned me. I’m flammable enough as it is.”

He felt his back and grimaced in disgust at the feel of himself. He rubbed his fingers together in front of my face, my thick black fluid oozing down them towards the grubby palms of his hands.

“How the hell am I going to get all this out? It’s disgusting. Christ, I can feel it soaking through me, soaking into my heart.”

He emphasised that last word and gave me a withering look while he waited for me to respond to his cutting jibe.

The wind suddenly gusted through the open window and the curtains billowed extravagantly. The daylight cast a tawdry brightness across the room, which left both of us deflated.

On the other side of the window, I caught a glimpse of a face peering in, emotionless, wizened, more like a mask than living flesh.

“Please, carry on,” he said, when he noticed me staring. “Don’t mind me.”

But by now the scarecrow had already left, and I was too self-conscious to continue on my own.

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Notes:

1. Written on August 7th, 2018

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