An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Monday, May 01, 2006


Gilbert sipped his coffee, letting the steam rise. Lighting another cigarette he looked up and out of the kitchen window. The sky was a dull blue nearly grey. And yet the light, clear and strong, picked out every single frond on the small mimosa tree outside and cast a pin-sharp shadow onto the wall of the potting shed. The potting shed glowed as the light bounced in and around the terracotta walls. This morning he did not sniff.

"How are you feeling this morning - aches and pains?"

"Strangely well - no aches, no pains. Not a thing."

"Nothing? Again? But last night ... "

"Literally - not an ache - not a pain. Just like yesterday."

The silence re-established itself as they both sipped their coffees. A fly came in through the stable door and circled around pointlessly. A wasp followed it and perused the spines of the books and the paintings on the walls. And left as suddenly as it had entered. The fly continued circling noiselessly.

"And you?"

"Oh you know, the usual. Neck and shoulders. Aches and pains that few folks die of. You look good again this morning. Did you sleep well?"

"I think so. Not really sure. That bastard Dick came back. An odd night but I feel really fresh this morning. Lively - and yes, younger. Again. This is getting to be a habit - I hope - or do I? He stretched his hand over to caress hers as it rested there and looked at it. So did she. They looked at each other.

"The liver spots? Gone again! Are these things connected? The Dick appearances and the - the you know ... How could they be?"

"What did Dick have to say for himself this time?"

"There was sense of deja vu about the whole thing - he started the same way and the last thing was that "Sue Graffy" person. I still don't get it. I've never known or even met anyone called Sue Graffy. I wracked my brains all yesterday and I have never met anyone called Sue Graffy. It wasn't someone you worked with was it? I was wondering all day whether it might be a hint of his about who this other writer is. But last night he let slip that it's a guy who's got him - and a few of the others - now. A Greek guy by the sounds of it. Can't think of it now. I just can't bring it to mind. Bugger. Anyway, you know how Dick was always rooting through my notes for the Stew well he's up to his old tricks with the new guy. He reckons it looks like the guy is putting notes together and writing the odd scene here and there but Dick thinks he's working on a parody of the Stew."

"Why would anyone do that? And a Greek at that? Is he writing it in Greek? How could Dick read Greek?"

"No, no, apparently it's all in English. English English too - not American English. I think Dick told me a lot of things last night that didn't appear to make much sense at the time but I'll work on them. Come on lets get the chores done, Chick'll be here soon."

They had finished the first pot of coffee and so Gilbert put the kettle on for another. The idea of facing the day proper without two pots of Guatemalan coffee horrified him. They cleaned the cellar with the precision and grace of an ice dance couple - perfectly in sync and elegant in motion. Gilbert rolled the rugs while Abby swept. He brushed the sofa cover clean of dog hair while she dusted. He cleaned the bathroom surfaces as she put the rugs back down. She cleaned the doormat while he pushed the carpet sweeper back and forth over the rugs - thinking. The paused for a sip of the new coffee and disappeared outside to sort out the kennels and run and to fuss the dogs. Because it was the first of the month the routine was extended by the application of tick medication to Molly and Bridey. They sat down again at the kitchen table when they were done and drank more coffee and smoked more cigarettes. They separated briefly to take leave of yesterdays waste products - he upstairs and she in the cellar bathroom. He stopped at the middle floor on the way back to empty the ashtray and wash and dry the mugs that had held last nights tea. He opened a couple of more shutters now that the sun was coming through.

"When's Chick due", he asked absently, "ten?" "So she said. I'll just get a few things together". "Take a jumper - it'll be cooler up in the mountains - and don't forget the camera. For all those wild flowers and orchids". "Will you please stop fussing?" she responded almost tetchily "I can organise myself you know. I ought to be able to. I organise you most of the time. Are you going to be OK? What'll you be up to? While I'm gone?". "Oh, I don't know. But I'll be fine - you enjoy yourself. I have to do some research and there's the blog to write and - oh you know - stuff! I'll just potter around. Don't worry about me. It's not like I haven't got plenty to think about". Molly and Bridey suddenly started barking - insistently - in warning mode. "That'll be Chick". And so it proved to be. And off they went.

He pottered. It rained on and off. The skies cleared and clouded by turn. Cutting some marble waste that he had found by a bin days before he almost recalled the name of the writer. Almost. But the more he tried the less likely it seemed that he would ever get it. He needed to do something fairly mindless and let his brain get on with it in background mode if active recall wouldn't work. His impressions were intense but badly out of focus. He took the brush-cutter/general purpose strimmer down from the wall in the garage and filled it with two-stroke. "That should do it!" And he moved out into the jungle that surrounded Georgi's apartment, hemming it in, making it all but impossible to get into. The noise rose to near 100 decibels as he dropped his goggles and revved the little engine. "Let battle commence!" he shouted to nobody in particular.

He had stopped to refill the spool when it came to him. He had been cursing himself and his lack of a visual imagination when it suddenly floated up to the top - Dick had given him a picture - a picture in words. He dashed indoors and grabbed a notepad and a 2B pencil and then he sat down next to the cooling brush-cutter and began to jot down fragments as they came floating back to him ... what the hell if it didn't cohere? It must be worth capturing.

An hour or so later he had scribbled the following:

4 boxes, shoeboxes, desk, partner desk, ashtray, old mug with pens in, scalpel, ream paper, Teradata?, book pile, laptop (Mac?), pads (yellow?), cough drops in a tin (?), rolodex, another pile of books (diary?) Bacon?, cigarettes (Greek brand - 25?), black, lamp with green shade (library lamp?), typewriter (are you sure?)

Arrows pointed all over this scrawl. Some items were circled together. Question marks and exclamation marks were everywhere - it looked like some bizarre venn diagram crossed with the illegitimate offspring of a mind map. A mess. Head in hands he wracked his recall paths - something else there. What? He picked up the pencil and, almost automatically he sketched without thought. "No, damn it - it just won't come". But when he looked again he found he had written Lez in a broad italic script that leaned precariously backward - - - but there was something badly wrong with the zed. And the e was squashed.

He decided to call it a day with the brush-cutter and proceeded to clean it all up and put it all away again. He surveyed his work and shook his head sadly. The way was now open to Georgi's cellar that was true: but what was it that he had on the notepad? And Lez - who was Lez? Where had that come from? And a typewriter??

Soon afterwards Abby came back from her day in the mountains, Chick didn't hang around, not wanting to eat with them, and they talked of her day and her adventures. They downloaded the photos and Abby posted a few up to her account at Flickr. He didn't mention the notes that he had made nor did he reveal something else that had surfaced during his afternoon. He knew for certain now - Dick was not warning him - he was threatening him!

(to be continued ... )

1 comment:

  1. The ouzo is particularly strong in your part of the world, is it?