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A Day At The Beach - Trevor Reeves

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Hello, my name's Sil Neilson. You might wonder what the "Sil" is short for. No, it's not "Silly". Nor is it Silvester because I am a woman and not a bloody cat. It's Silureus because that's the name I made up for myself after my divorce. It doesn't mean anything in particular. It sort of sounds Roman and you have visions of a gallant warrior swaying back and forth on a heaving chariot, dust flying, hooves and wheels thundering helmet flashing and the stipple of gleam and sweat.

Perhaps it is real after all. I just love poetry. They say fiction is the foundation of all reality. Well, I say it anyway. I've had some pretty heavy real experiences most of which have been "poetry" by definition because the other definition that they were all bad, is too awful to contemplate. I'd probably be too big for that chariot anyway, being as I am, an ample 49-year-old of some 20 stone or whatever it is these days under the new weight system.

I'd love the movement though. It would be sexy - heaving - moist. Just because I'm 20 stone it's no reason to assume that I'm gross and flabby. No, just big. And heavy.
My doctor said I had a thyroid problem or something. It never stopped me having fun. I had two sorts of lover. The young student type who often saw me as an easy mark for a diversion but who were amazed at how interesting I could make it for them - returning again and again. I had this little house near the Oval. Just a tiny two-storied cottage with bare thick worn floors, wandering walls and frayed rugs. And my massive bed. It had to be massive. Enough said.

I'd taken on two students. Not ordinary ones either! They used the two little rooms upstairs. Both came from Nigeria and were as black as your hat, and tall, muscular and gleaming. I read poetry to them. Dylan Thomas.
"Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs - about the lilting house and happy as the grass was green - the night above the dingle starry......." Who cared what a dingle was. They loved it.. One was studying computer something at the university. Something to do with the way all the little neurones worked inside those daunting white boxes with flashing lights. I could just see him, leaning over with his broad back and full thighs rippling black under the white gear he mostly wore. His little screwdriver poking and fiddling - pushing all the little neurones into place. I could see him in darkest Africa, running - a sparkling dark form thrusting deep into green brush and past broad flesh-coloured cliffs.


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His name was Jake. You couldn't imagine a better name for him. I continued: "....All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air...."
I'm not too bad looking really. Deep black straight hair and big, big eyes, smooth olive skin and a terribly (sexy?) soft voice.

".....and playing, lovely and watery, and fire green as grass....."
He got the message. Oh, he was fun. The big bed rumbled and rumbled. Robin, his fellow Nigerian, was fun too. That name sort of hinted at British upper class somewhat. He was a bit thinner than Jake and reminded of one of those trim high-shouldered black athletes who dance along for 20 or 30 miles in Olympic marathons in their white gear, furiously perspiring.

"Down the rivers of the windfall light........and as I was green and carefree....", went Dylan. It wasn't too long when his lithe body was mine. Being on the invalid benefit because of my thyroid, I had more than enough time to play with, and I also had a few pennies to spend on this and that. Robin had a car of sorts. He was studying surveying and in the weekends we would go off into the country where I would read to him and he would love me from behind over back seat - it was a very strong car but we used to really make it rock rattle and roll. Oh, the thundering chariot, whips flashing over the rugged Roman road. I was never as good a poet as Dylan Thomas but I certainly knew what he could make you feel!

"Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long, in the sun born over and over, I ran my heedless ways....." The abandonment in our joy was complete.
It was wonderful. I told all my friends. Especially Jack. Now, I've already told you that I liked older men, too. There was something about them. You had to coax a bit to get the right moment. Jack & I grew up together, more or less. I married someone else who happily now, I can say, is no longer married to me. I don't get beaten up any more for having the appearance of being stupid just because I love music and poetry. Jack taught music at high schools all his life. A frustrated composer, he married a very arty university woman and looked for the right contacts who would help him get his A into G. The effort failed and so did his music. He was a splendid teacher though.

After he retired and left his wife, he developed "collectomania". I don't know whether that's the right name for it, my being a poet, not a psychologist. Anyway he collected cars. Old cars. First they were stored in the matrimonial home Jack was supposed to be doing up, to sell as part of the matrimonial settlement. None of them went. Well, only one which he drove around - breaking down often. He would ask friends to fix this and that on it because he didn't really know how to.

Then one day the students went off home to Africa, and my little haven was just so empty and bare. I went to live in a little bungalow behind the pub in Lancetown. Jack would travel there at weekends and we would talk of the old days when we were little. Yes, I used to be quite little though you wouldn't think so to look at me now. The 1940's and 50's were our days of youth.

On days when I was sick at home from school there was the reassuring hum of the vacuum cleaner and Aunt Daisy, in her 9 o'clock advertising and recipes program, would say: "Good morning, good morning, good morning, it's a lovely day to day...."
Wet and miserable really, but tell that to a phonographic record that sometimes jumped tracks for five minutes at a time because the sound engineers at the station were slumbering. "....lovely morning, and I've just been cleaning out my back passage with tanol.... and the sun is shining up it...."

I'd taken my huge bed to Lancetown even though there was no longer big Jake to sprawl across it, and me. Jack and I never drank, but used to watch people coming and going from the tavern shouting and laughing - shearers, commercial salesmen and thin youths with shaven heads and black jackets being towed by large dogs. And the thickset balding men from the masonic lodge, their new Commodores and Falcons gleaming.

Jack was quite good after you'd got him kick-started. After that, a cup of tea and then more talk of the old days.
I remember the bread puddings and pikelets. Just like clairvoyants like to tell their customers their folks used to make, in their attempts to convince them that they knew all about their folks in the afterworld. Jack had got mixed up in the occult. He used to go to meetings with some people he met down the bay. They were well known, and when Jack used to mention them by first name from time to time I knew what he was up to, even though he didn't tell me himself.

It made me quite sad. Jack was getting on a bit. His head was now bright and bald and his hip replacement used to click and his leg wobble as he used to prod himself along with his thick manuka stick. There was nothing much to do in Lancetown when Jack was not there. There was quite a large Catholic community in Lancetown. Their ancestors came with the gold rushes. There was also the Masonic Lodge with its goats and slippers but I kept away from those people because they were sexless and they beat their hapless wives mercilessly. I became a Catholic.
One had to be choosy. I read in the paper about Britain's most famous prostitute who numbered some 200 M.P's amongst her clients and liked even milkmen and dustmen, or milkpeople and dustpeople, just to make feminists who hate all men, feel better. This woman used to get propositioned in aeroplanes sometimes and they used to do it in the toilets. This famous prostitute would never let herself be spanked or whipped though, by high class males of the establishment, who possessed high incomes and low self esteems.

I read poetry to Father O'Leary. He loved the words and the feelings and I often wrote my own words for him as we sat there in the growing dusk after Jack had gone off back to the city crouched over the wheel of his spluttering car. Father and I watched the skinheads and others come and go from the pub and he would occasionally draw a little silver flask from deep in the pocket of his dense black jacket and sip slowly, carefully, the glittering teak-coloured liquid contained therein.

I wanted to tell Father O'Leary that women were something other than objects of worship or just mothers. I think he knew that already. To treat women as a fiction or, at worst, an untouchable concept or creation of God, was very unreal, I suggested. There was to be light at the end of the tunnel created by poetry. I read on.....

"In my craft or sullen art", I read to Father, "exercised in the still night - when only the moon rages and the lovers lie abed......."
Dear Dylan, he knew it all! Brisk autumn dusk after - need I say it - brisk autumn dusk, I read to Father. Pub patrons came and went, like a shop window changing in front of a runaway time machine.
"..........with all their griefs in their arms - I labour by the singing light - not for ambition or bread - or the strut and trade of charms on the ivory stages - but for the common wages of their most secret heart........."

Father O'Leary succumbed. He was like a little boy - crossing himself beforehand and sighing "Oh Jesus, Jesus......." The seed had been saved well. It was in full flight. There now, for a thick-set flabby man with warm, puggy hands, knocking 45 he became a masterpiece of body engineering. The choice was mine!
The reward?

One night we heard a dog barking just outside the window. Legs apart and with Father's bulk across me I saw a pale hairless face at the window. It's pale marbly eyes saw Father's rump heaving and his dog collar lying limp over the back of the chair.

Robust, lithe Nigerians were one thing but sober men of the cloth were another. Jack got to hear about it. The skinhead who peeked whilst chasing after his mongrel happened to be helping Jack move more of his cars into an abandoned shop with a large yard up the main street at the northern end of Lancetown. The matrimonial home in the city had become hopelessly overcrowded with cars and more room was needed.

The arrangement had been that Jack set up there, so that when he came to Lancetown in the weekends we could be together. There was a nice room at the back of the shop that Jack had done out specially for me - for us. Lovely cherry, blue and brown coloured wallpaper, old world lace curtains and a brass chandelier. Being a fine carpenter on his day, he built a rarity - a four poster bed with a gleaming cream quilt cover.

"For old people from the old world", he had told me, romantically. Father O'Leary had beaten a hurried retreat and I heard that the masonic men from the pub had been guffawing about it. Jack took it in his stride. I went back to the city and took on a number of nervous breakdowns. The church took me on readily there but my heart wasn't in it.

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The flat I had taken on was all concrete, damp and the wind threw itself across the densely populated flat in its mad drive to hit the hills on the other side of the peninsular. Marooned in a sea of land as my Dylan would say: "...the mansouled fiery islands! Oh, holier then their eyes, and my shining men do more alone - as I sail out to die...."

I took the bus to Lancetown one weekend. Jack said come, come by all means. Lovely to see you. The yard was filling up with broken down decrepit old cars and the grass was furiously weaving an impenetrable mat around their wheels, unwilling to let them go. I went into the bedroom at the back.
The bed was there..... But there was a big black car engine sitting in the middle of it. Sheaves of newspaper were crushed under it with the black oil seeping through - the light oil yellowing the stains at their edges. It was a quiet weekend. Jack was crippled with his hip clicking and clacking.... things had settled in. There was no help now for him from the local boys. The sun glinted off the dry yellow long grass and there was a sort of low summer hum in the air and now and then a car towing some piece of holiday equipment farted its way up the main street - children with ice creams dripping and uplifted, and pointing through the half-opened windows at the line of decaying shop fronts.

I returned to my awful city flat. Things seemed better. I make regular trips to Lancetown now. Jack bought a pair of narrow camp stretchers for us. Jack is my only man now, do I need any other?
Yes, I do.

The church became boring and instead of going to late morning mass I head off to the beach. In this heat wave, where else? The doctor said I must walk. Otherwise I might never move again. I had purchased a small camping chair in thin tensile aluminium tubing held together by tight strategically placed springs. Made by those clever Chinese or Taiwanese, with a pretty blue and gold beach scene printed on the fabric.

It was wonderful sitting on it there, down on the sand where the "melanoma men" strutted and strode with their beautiful rippling young bodies and enticing floppy penis-pouches in their very brief swimming things. Their ugly thin white females lay about in the sand, their eyes revolving over huge sunglasses like inquisitive lighthouse beacons. But the men?

Sexy man

Or should I say, boys. I did tell you, didn't I? I like them very young and my mind turned to the huge bed I had, and Jake's hot black muscular rump, the starlight sparkle of sweat and the regular thrust and pulse. And now these sand-speckled wonders of physical perfection and pace to look at. Do they know I'm here?
As Dylan concluded... "Not for the proud man apart - from the raging moon I write, on these spindrift pages - nor for the towering dead with their nightingales and psalms, but for the lovers, their arms............."

Oh, wonderful young men...... I leaned forward...
"....round the griefs of the ages, who pay no praise or wages - nor heed my craft or art..."

The chair collapsed under my bulk. The young men turned to peer and laugh. Their thin sand-blown women lifted their eyes above their huge dark windows. Pages in their paperbacks flicked and turned in the slight breeze, their cigarette packs, half buried in the sand, glinted like little tombstones.
The afternoon drifted on. We were at peace with the world.


Trevor Reeves has had stories and poems on Internet and in print magazines over the last 30 years. Lives in New Zealand. Edits Southern Ocean Review.

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