Read My First Colouring Book Online

Authors: Lloyd Jones

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My First Colouring Book (22 page)

BOOK: My First Colouring Book
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Drunk as a lord and pawed wantonly by matelots singing rude hornpipes in the Victoria Hotel, I shed all my inhibitions and dance naked on a sticky table. My toes are crimson with bilberry juice or blood.
Retribution, Benito
. I have a jamjar of gin in my hand and jack tars aplenty to keep me amused. Cuckolded by an eighty-year-old pixie? Not me, not gracefully. Landlord! – pour some more gin in my jar! Slop my future into a bucket and throw it to the pigs!

Twilight and evening bell,

And after that the dark!

And may there be no sadness of farewell,

When I embark …

My dream, Benito, it's my Dream again.

Furiously, I tell them everything, those fuddled fools dribbling into their black porter. One of them raises his shipwrecked eyes from the flotsam beer mats and eyes me as steadily as he can. His voice I don't recognise, but there's something about the twitch in his right hand which reminds me of… yes, it's Cadfan, the town scrivener, missing presumed drowned for fifty years or more. On his eye-patch the Old Testament writ complete in a lovely monastic script. Medieval Welsh – a speciality in these parts. I greet him warmly, fondle his stump. He has been on a voyage to fetch green tiger beetles to make his ink, iridescent and everlasting: he is ready for his first commission. A scroll of calfskin vellum on the table already bears a massive decorated capital in the shape of my naked body caught deliciously in flagrante. The likeness is remarkable, down to the goosebumps.

Take a note, Cadfan, I boom magisterially through my plentiful tears.

Dear Pixie,

I will have my husband back without further ado. Whatever your magic, ancient and horrid hag, unfetter him now and send him home to his beloved (me). Shipwrecked he came ashore and shipwrecked he will soon be again, on the rocks of your lust. It was I who saved him with love and broth, who made his thighs the girth of a small bull and his manly item as big as a fencing post. It was I who bought him his first plastering trowel down the market; it was I who carried his first sack of lime from the kilns on my bent back; it was I who cooked him supper every night, the hod still stuck – with sweat – to my exhausted body, you witch. It was I who tended his manly wounds with waterproof plasters and it was I who bore him twelve children (all of them done well, three of them doctors and one a prophet).

May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your ****.

Yours, Rachel (daughter of Jones the Postman).

Homewards I wend my weary way, in my red Wellingtons, naked in the streets and humbled. Toothless grandmothers, sitting on their doorsteps in black, laugh at me, saying they will be next to woo him. Outside the school Christ is weeping tomato ketchup from his stigmata, and the school kids smirk at me.

Pixie, Pixie, Benito loves a Pixie
they chant in unison. My own little Megan among them, there's no pity to be had. Crouching again under the great incense-burner in the hallway I blub and flay my skin with a torn picture of him, my poor Benito. What I'd give now to hear the clatter of his hobnailed boots in the yard, the roar of his voice in the pigshed. Instead I see a note being pushed through the letterbox, and I recognise the inky green fingers of Cadfan, no less. He beats a hasty retreat whilst I read the scrawl, which glows beetle-green.

Dear Rachel (daughter of Jones the Postman),

I have been to see for myself what they're up to, your husband and the pixie, still on the mountain they are and dare I say it, fallen into sin with night fast approaching and danger at every turn on the lonely moor. The music I don't mind but I draw the line at wine, men should stick to beer. I agree that lawn green suits her exceedingly, and the distressed hemline, slanting from her left thigh to her right knee, was a subtle and provocative masterstroke. Her dancing, like Isadora's at its best, was simply divine. The rabbits were superb and fulfilled their obligations to the letter. Rachel my love, you are radiant, you are sunsparkle on the shimmering ponds of heaven. I include herewith a solution to your problems and a relevant recipe.

All my love, Cadfan ap Iago the Younger.

PS. I am only sixty-seven and carry with me always a diploma in calligraphy from the Benevolent School for Retired and Maimed Sailors.

Naked under my see-through plastic mac, iconic in my red Wellingtons, I skip out of the house joyfully and storm the shops, grabbing goods off the shelves willy-nilly. I career up and down the Co-op, scouring every aisle for delicacies and scattering shoppers with my overloaded trolley. I pay for it all with promises and daisy chains. Soon I am ready to execute the coup de grace. Oh, my beautiful Dream.

Benito, I am writing in my beautiful Dream!

Dear Cadfan ap Iago,

As you suggested, I put the dish before him in his love bower at the height of the revelry; if I might say so, your recommendation – wild mushroom, chestnut and sage penne was a brilliant choice
After selecting the finest ingredients: penne pasta, Umbrian olive oil, Sicilian butter, fresh porcini mushrooms, garlic, sage, parmesan and freshly roasted chestnuts, accompanied by a poignant Chianti, I cooked the feast alfresco on the summit of Dinas, on a fire fragranced with wild mountain herbs. Needless to say, the first mouthful dispelled his fantasy and within seconds he was back to normal. He returned penitent to the lowlands, holding my hand like a naughty schoolboy. After a satisfying and complete repast, three bottles of wine and a nap in front of the telly, he's back to his old self again. I would be grateful if you would send me a bill to cover your costs. Please advise the octogenarian pixie that her cat has fleas. More important, please inform her that my lover has reclaimed his sanity, and that her wiles will work no more. Tell the old witch she's no match for my love – and fresh porcini mushrooms.

Tell her also that the fly she put in my ointment has been disposed of.

Yours appreciatively, Rachel.

Sometime before the chimes of midnight I wake suddenly after a little nap, my head resting on the table, nestling in the crook of my right arm. I'm still holding a knife and my hair's sprinkled with breadcrumbs. It's almost dark in the soft glow of the telly: there are shadows among the crocks and the cruets. The furry taste in my mouth, tinged with garlic and wine, reminds me that we've just enjoyed a large and pleasant meal. My eyes focus, slowly, on a fly. It's dead, I think, lying upside-down on the tablecloth, a small black blob. I flick it away and it disappears among the cups and the plates – a miniature china city, deserted.

My wonderful Dream is over. How long have I slumbered?

My cheek is rosy and numb, indented with the outline of my watch. My hand is wet and warm with the dribble of sleep. I've been dreaming about him again. It's the Dream… about another woman. The pixie.

Is he being unfaithful to me again? Why such dark doubts? It must have been the cheese…

He's asleep, wine glass in hand as usual. Snoring gently. The slob. A Fellini film drones in the background; the one with a dwarf nun climbing a ladder lodged in a tree; in the top branches a haggard madman shouts
I want a woman, I want a woman…

Ample, saucy evidence of my love lies spattered all over his overalls (such a messy eater, but my own true love). Wild mushroom, chestnut and sage penne – his favourite meal. And a lot of wine. Frascati, Chianti. Valpolicella in a red rim around his mouth. Gradually I come to, though my head is still muzzy. Sitting by the fireside, poking the fire, I drift in a calm sea of fuzzy thoughts. How funny he is when he snores in Italian, when the moon hits his eye like a big pizza pie…

The pixie in my Dream is asleep and all is well. Surely he's not at it again. Who else would want him at his age? Such a belly on him too. Bald as a coot and sagging everywhere, even down there.

So foolish to have suspicions again. Love is so wobbly. A wobbly tooth to worry me all day. The tingle. My love is a tingle in a wobbly tooth.

Time for bed. I'll take the glass out of his hand, leave him where he is to sleep.

He can wash up in the morning. My voodoo lover, who dances naked with his pixie on the moors. In my mad, sad, wonderful Dream.


GOOD on the island now, plenty of food again and no killing. Every Season the men come in fast boats to make sure we work, no guns. Since No World we grow food and sleep in the big house. Goog tell us what to do every day. Better since No Hope and I work with my Spade all day without wanting the Old Time again. My Spade is My Friend.

Goog has told me who to Love. I go with the men in the fast boat and they leave me on another island, not so far. They say the woman I will Love sleeps on her own in a tent away from their big house. She has Food Land and a Spade but no Love.

I beat my Spade with a stone and leave Spuds by her tent and Seeds, custom.

Goog says she is my only Love in the world that is left, in all the islands. Nobody else can be my Love, destiny.

In the morning Spuds and Seeds gone, custom. On the tent blue dog picture, I shout Dog and beat my Spade with a stone. She does not come out but smoke and crying.

I am hungry so I root in the woods, sleep in the grass till noon. I go back to the tent and she is in the Food Land, digging and crying. She is ten or twenty years more than me with hair like a rope on her head. She has good tits but legs like a hen, too thin. Her face fatty white with blue paint on her cheeks, pictures. Long green dress, no boots. She digs the Earth, still strong. I beat my Spade with a stone by the edge of her Food Land, custom. She shouts at me, no words I know. She waves her arm, throws stones at me. Custom on this island maybe.

I sit by the edge of the woods, hungry, looking at her tent and her Food Land. I am hungry, but not angry, I am No Hope now. Why is Dog my only Love in the world. Why not Beth in the big house? Goog says so.

Three days I wait eating rabbits and roots, then the boat men come find me. They take me to the tent and talk to Dog, no words I know. Dog's tent is big, made of skins, warm in there. Skins on her bed too, fire in the middle of the floor. Pot for cooking and a loom for clothes, pretty stones from the beach and flowers hanging from the poles, good smell. Child toys and child clothes by a little bed but no child. Dog has many pictures made on slates taken from the Old Homes under the water I think. The boat men shout at her and point to me, they are angry, but no killing. She cries, they go. After, she makes me a bed by a Child Picture, away from her. In the night when I am in bed she goes out and comes back wet, more slates in her arms. She swims for them in the sea, looks like she gets them from the Old Town in the water and dries them by the fire. Quiet now, no crying.

I am No Hope, no matter she does not want Love, custom. Morning she gives me cold food and takes me to the edge of her Food Land. With stones she makes a Square on the Earth, big, and points to my Spade.

I beat my Spade with a stone and shout My Spade is My Friend. She throws a stone at me and hurts. She takes me to the Square and starts to dig with my Spade, then gives it to me and points. I am No Hope, I dig all day in the sun, she brings me Water and sits on a rock to watch me. Smoke from the tent by night, she makes hot food and we eat on a rock, looking at my Square. I make a hole in the edge of the Square for my Shithole, then I shit. She points to the stream and I wash, then bed, custom. No light in Dog's tent so she sits in the tentdoor, under the Moon, with a slate. She makes Words with a nail. She has made Words all day with her finger in the Earth by her tent. Some days she stamps on the Words in the Earth and starts again. In the night when I pretend sleep she goes to the Words in the Earth with her slate, writes them down. Finish, she sleeps.

Days this goes on, I dig all the Square and fence about, spend time in the woods thinking. She has not told me to Love her yet, she pushes me away to my bed. Goog says she is my only Love in all the islands, but she does not Love me yet. New Season and our island is hot, the men come in boats with guns. They ask if she has Loved me but I say no. There is more anger, they hit Dog and I watch them. I am No Hope. I ask what is wrong. They say she is Mad. But she is not, I have seen Mad Dan and Dog is not Mad like him after the World drowned. In the beginning many went Mad from the Silence, Dan went Mad too. Noise all over the place before the World Drowned, but new Silence on the island too much, hurt their heads.

The boat men go away and Dog cries, I put my arms around her but she shouts and runs to the woods. I try to read her Words but only a few I know, Spade and Man and Child.

Dog stays in the woods for three days, comes back Mad, breaks many slates and rips her tent pictures. For a day she sits on the child bed, playing with toys. No Spade work, no planting in the Food Land. No hot food, no Words on the slates, only crying. Next day Dog makes me sit on the rock and she paints me, blue on my face and red on my chest and back, patterns. She rips her dress and paints her body red in patterns, custom. She sings a baby song, then we Love each other. This is my Love, Goog told me. Every day we Love and Dig, she writes Words on her slates and I plant the Spuds in her Food Land, Harrow the Square and fetch firewood from dead trees. One night she goes from the bed and sits in the tentdoor, moon shadow. When I wake she has gone. Maybe she has gone to the big house or the woods again to think. I look at her slates and they are full of Words, there are Words in the Earth and painted on the tent, all over it. They go round and round the tent, red Words painted with her finger. For days I wait for her to come back and then I go to the big house, but she is not there. I look in the woods but it is empty. I shout Dog and there is an eko but she does not come, the world is empty. I am No Hope but I feel again, hot pain in my chest. More days go by and the men from the big house come to the tent, angry. They push me and beat me, I don't know why. I speak to them but they do not understand. They take me to the edge of the water where she went for slates, and she is there, on her face in the water. Dog is Dead, I run in the water to pull her out, but she is blue and the paint has run on her face. Her eyes are not there, her face nearly gone, but it is her, blue and Dead. Her hair like a rope is loose on her back, green with weed. Her mouth a bit open and there is a gold tooth, it shines in the sun, and a green crab in her mouth too. They leave us, I make a hole in the woods and I put her in the Earth, custom. A hot burn in my chest and I am feeling again. Years without crying, now my face wet again. For many days I do nothing, leave my Spade and eat the Spuds I put in the Earth. I try to know the Words but no good, I give up. At the end of the Season the boat men come for me. They ask me for Dog and I point to the Earth in the woods. They go to the big house and come back angry. They tie me up and take me in their boat. I try to tell them but they do not listen. On the way to my Home they leave me in another place, a small island with no people, no trees, no animals, no birds. They are going when I cry for my Spade, I shout My Spade is My Friend. They throw it in the water, I go in and get it. Only me and my Spade on this island, No Hope again and no animals, no birds. I am No Hope. There is no water, for days I suck the leaves at dawn, no food but roots, I sleep in the sand and I feel again, my chest is hot and I cry. I write in the sand with my finger, Dog and Spade and Love. I write My Spade is My Friend with stones, and much bigger, HELP in stones on the sand. For days I sleep, hardly move, a pain in my belly and my Spade is rusty, I look at the brown on its Blade every morning, getting bigger. When I am No Hope again a boat comes, it is Beth and a man from the big house. I cry, I have Hope again, it is an old feeling and it makes me ill. I hold her dress and I cry, there is sand in my mouth which is dry and my lips are big, they will not move. I say to Beth Goog was wrong. Dog not the only Love for me in the world, in all the islands. I say to Beth the truth, Dog is Dead and Love is Dead. She asks what happened and I tell her. There is no Dog for me to Love, she is Dead in the water, drowned looking for slates in the Old Town under the water I think. I tell Beth about the Words and the Pictures.

BOOK: My First Colouring Book
4.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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