I want you to know
one thing.

You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
that sail
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.

Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.

If suddenly
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
remember
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

But
if each day,
each hour,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine

Kristi D Sep 2013

Love, the real kind, is never simple.
It is the one thing that makes life worth it in the end,
and something that wonderful and sought-after is never going to be easy to get.
You have to work for it.
Blood, sweat, and tears.
So if it’s easy, yeah maybe you won’t get broken.
But you won’t be truly happy, either.
You’ll be settling.
Don’t get me wrong,
There are lots of things in life that are totally acceptable to settle on.
Sure, Harvard was your dream school.
But you know what?
Going to your state school because its more affordable
Will still get you where you want to be in life.
And I know the hairdresser couldn't match the color you showed her,
But you are beautiful and can rock it anyway, so don’t worry.
But love?
Settling in love is like buying a pair of shoes that are a size too small,
Just because you thought they were pretty.
They may look nice,
But you are dying on the inside. I
f you had just held out a bit longer,
You would have found a pair just as beautiful that fit well, too.
Maybe that nice guy looks good on paper,
But if he doesn’t give you butterflies whenever he looks at you,
Don’t be with him.
You want someone who makes you fall for them every day,
Not just once.

Alissa Rogers Mar 2012

The throbbing headache and nausea
I can endure; I've had worse.
Right now I could cry,
such a raw hope consumed me
as I thought about you, desperate.
It was still dark for me then,
when I needed you. Now it's day.
It brings a true smirk to my face
to know you are nothing more
than a night of binge drinking:
a foolish part of my youth,
a consequence of boredom.
I could not hold your liquor,
I vomited all that bile you said to me
in the hedges outside. Don't fret,
this is not a bad memory, in fact
you might never be a memory at all.
I am well. I will drink better and
far more dangerous poisons.
I am today, you are only last night.

Well, my daddy left home when I was three,
and he didn't leave much to Ma and me,
just this old guitar and a bottle of booze.
Now I don't blame him because he run and hid,
but the meanest thing that he ever did was
before he left he went and named me Sue.

Well, he must have thought it was quite a joke,
and it got lots of laughs from a lot of folks,
it seems I had to fight my whole life through.
Some gal would giggle and I'd get red
and some guy would laugh and I'd bust his head,
I tell you, life ain't easy for a boy named Sue.

Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean.
My fist got hard and my wits got keen.
Roamed from town to town to hide my shame,
but I made me a vow to the moon and the stars,
I'd search the honky tonks and bars and kill
that man that gave me that awful name.

But it was Gatlinburg in mid July and I had
just hit town and my throat was dry.
I'd thought i'd stop and have myself a brew.
At an old saloon in a street of mud
and at a table dealing stud sat the dirty,
mangy dog that named me Sue.

Well, I knew that snake was my own sweet dad
from a worn-out picture that my mother had
and I knew the scar on his cheek and his evil eye.
He was big and bent and gray and old
and I looked at him and my blood ran cold,
and I said, "My name is Sue. How do you do?
Now you're gonna die." Yeah, that's what I told him.

Well, I hit him right between the eyes and he went down
but to my surprise he came up with a knife
and cut off a piece of my ear. But I busted a chair
right across his teeth. And we crashed through
the wall and into the street kicking and a-gouging
in the mud and the blood and the beer.

I tell you I've fought tougher men but I really can't remember when.
He kicked like a mule and bit like a crocodile.
I heard him laughin' and then I heard him cussin',
he went for his gun and I pulled mine first.
He stood there looking at me and I saw him smile.

And he said, "Son, this world is rough and if
a man's gonna make it, he's gotta be tough
and I knew I wouldn't be there to help you along.
So I gave you that name and I said 'Goodbye'.
I knew you'd have to get tough or die. And it's
that name that helped to make you strong."

Yeah, he said, "Now you have just fought one
helluva fight, and I know you hate me and you've
got the right to kill me now and I wouldn't blame you
if you do. But you ought to thank me
before I die for the gravel in your guts and the spit
in your eye because I'm the nut that named you Sue."
Yeah, what could I do? What could I do?

I got all choked up and I threw down my gun,
called him pa and he called me a son,
and I came away with a different point of view
and I think about him now and then.
Every time I tried, every time I win and if I
ever have a son I think I am gonna name him
Bill or George - anything but Sue.

Sarah Spang May 2014

If I was a mountain

That soared towards the sky,

With craggy snow caps

And stormy grey eyes-



Then you'd be the clouds

That swaddled my peak,

That silenced my thunder

When I tried to speak.



If I was the earth

The desert, in fact:

With arid dry soil

And mud, baked and cracked-



You'd be the rain

The downpour that soothed;

The balm to my bruises,

Relief to my wounds.



If I was the Moon

In the indigo night,

With stars as my blanket

And silver; my light-



Well you'd be the Sun

Just always behind

That lent me your glow

And caused me to shine.

Cass was the youngest and most beautiful of 5 sisters. Cass was the most beautiful girl
in town. 1/2 Indian with a supple and strange body, a snake-like and fiery body with eyes
to go with it. Cass was fluid moving fire. She was like a spirit stuck into a form that
would not hold her. Her hair was black and long and silken and whirled about as did her
body. Her spirit was either very high or very low. There was no in between for Cass. Some
said she was crazy. The dull ones said that. The dull ones would never understand Cass. To
the men she was simply a sex machine and they didn't care whether she was crazy or not.
And Cass danced and flirted, kissed the men, but except for an instance or two, when it
came time to make it with Cass, Cass had somehow slipped away, eluded the men.
Her sisters accused her of misusing her beauty, of not using her mind enough, but Cass
had mind and spirit; she painted, she danced, she sang, she made things of clay, and when
people were hurt either in the spirit or the flesh, Cass felt a deep grieving for them.
Her mind was simply different; her mind was simply not practical. Her sisters were jealous
of her because she attracted their men, and they were angry because they felt she didn't
make the best use of them. She had a habit of being kind to the uglier ones; the so-called
handsome men revolted her- "No guts," she said, "no zap. They are riding on
their perfect little earlobes and well- shaped nostrils...all surface and no
insides..." She had a temper that came close to insanity, she had a temper that some
call insanity. Her father had died of alcohol and her mother had run off leaving the
girls alone. The girls went to a relative who placed them in a convent. The convent had
been an unhappy place, more for Cass than the sisters. The girls were jealous of Cass and
Cass fought most of them. She had razor marks all along her left arm from defending
herself in two fights. There was also a permanent scar along the left cheek but the scar
rather than lessening her beauty only seemed to highlight it. I met her at the West End
Bar several nights after her release from the convent. Being youngest, she was the last of
the sisters to be released. She simply came in and sat next to me. I was probably the
ugliest man in town and this might have had something to do with it.
"Drink?" I asked.
"Sure, why not?"
I don't suppose there was anything unusual in our conversation that night, it was
simply in the feeling Cass gave. She had chosen me and it was as simple as that. No
pressure. She liked her drinks and had a great number of them. She didn't seem quite of
age but they served he anyhow. Perhaps she had forged i.d., I don't know. Anyhow, each
time she came back from the restroom and sat down next to me, I did feel some pride. She
was not only the most beautiful woman in town but also one of the most beautiful I had
ever seen. I placed my arm about her waist and kissed her once.
"Do you think I'm pretty?" she asked.
"Yes, of course, but there's something else... there's more than your
looks..."
"People are always accusing me of being pretty. Do you really think I'm
pretty?"
"Pretty isn't the word, it hardly does you fair."
Cass reached into her handbag. I thought she was reaching for her handkerchief. She
came out with a long hatpin. Before I could stop her she had run this long hatpin through
her nose, sideways, just above the nostrils. I felt disgust and horror. She looked at me
and laughed, "Now do you think me pretty? What do you think now, man?" I pulled
the hatpin out and held my handkerchief over the bleeding. Several people, including the
bartender, had seen the act. The bartender came down:
"Look," he said to Cass, "you act up again and you're out. We don't need
your dramatics here."
"Oh, fuck you, man!" she said.
"Better keep her straight," the bartender said to me.
"She'll be all right," I said.
"It's my nose, I can do what I want with my nose."
"No," I said, "it hurts me."
"You mean it hurts you when I stick a pin in my nose?"
"Yes, it does, I mean it."
"All right, I won't do it again. Cheer up."
She kissed me, rather grinning through the kiss and holding the handkerchief to her
nose. We left for my place at closing time. I had some beer and we sat there talking. It
was then that I got the perception of her as a person full of kindness and caring. She
gave herself away without knowing it. At the same time she would leap back into areas of
wildness and incoherence. Schitzi. A beautiful and spiritual schitzi. Perhaps some man,
something, would ruin her forever. I hoped that it wouldn't be me. We went to bed and
after I turned out the lights Cass asked me,
"When do you want it? Now or in the morning?"
"In the morning," I said and turned my back.
In the morning I got up and made a couple of coffees, brought her one in bed. She
laughed.
"You're the first man who has turned it down at night."
"It's o.k.," I said, "we needn't do it at all."
"No, wait, I want to now. Let me freshen up a bit."
Cass went into the bathroom. She came out shortly, looking quite wonderful, her long
black hair glistening, her eyes and lips glistening, her glistening... She displayed her
body calmly, as a good thing. She got under the sheet.
"Come on, lover man."
I got in. She kissed with abandon but without haste. I let my hands run over her body,
through her hair. I mounted. It was hot, and tight. I began to stroke slowly, wanting to
make it last. Her eyes looked directly into mine.
"What's your name?" I asked.
"What the hell difference does it make?" she asked.
I laughed and went on ahead. Afterwards she dressed and I drove her back to the bar but
she was difficult to forget. I wasn't working and I slept until 2 p.m. then got up and
read the paper. I was in the bathtub when she came in with a large leaf- an elephant ear.
"I knew you'd be in the bathtub," she said, "so I brought you something
to cover that thing with, nature boy."
She threw the elephant leaf down on me in the bathtub.
"How did you know I'd be in the tub?"
"I knew."
Almost every day Cass arrived when I was in the tub. The times were different but she
seldom missed, and there was the elephant leaf. And then we'd make love. One or two nights
she phoned and I had to bail her out of jail for drunkenness and fighting.
"These sons of bitches," she said, "just because they buy you a few
drinks they think they can get into your pants."
"Once you accept a drink you create your own trouble."
"I thought they were interested in me, not just my body."
"I'm interested in you and your body. I doubt, though, that most men can see
beyond your body."
I left town for 6 months, bummed around, came back. I had never forgotten Cass, but
we'd had some type of argument and I felt like moving anyhow, and when I got back i
figured she'd be gone, but I had been sitting in the West End Bar about 30 minutes when
she walked in and sat down next to me.
"Well, bastard, I see you've come back."
I ordered her a drink. Then I looked at her. She had on a high- necked dress. I had
never seen her in one of those. And under each eye, driven in, were 2 pins with glass
heads. All you could see were the heads of the pins, but the pins were driven down into
her face.
"God damn you, still trying to destroy your beauty, eh?"
"No, it's the fad, you fool."
"You're crazy."
"I've missed you," she said.
"Is there anybody else?"
"No there isn't anybody else. Just you. But I'm hustling. It costs ten bucks. But
you get it free."
"Pull those pins out."
"No, it's the fad."
"It's making me very unhappy."
"Are you sure?"
"Hell yes, I'm sure."
Cass slowly pulled the pins out and put them back in her purse.
"Why do you haggle your beauty?" I asked. "Why don't you just live with
it?"
"Because people think it's all I have. Beauty is nothing, beauty won't stay. You
don't know how lucky you are to be ugly, because if people like you you know it's for
something else."
"O.k.," I said, "I'm lucky."
"I don't mean you're ugly. People just think you're ugly. You have a fascinating
face."
"Thanks."
We had another drink.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Nothing. I can't get on to anything. No interest."
"Me neither. If you were a woman you could hustle."
"I don't think I could ever make contact with that many strangers, it's
wearing."
"You're right, it's wearing, everything is wearing."
We left together. People still stared at Cass on the streets. She was a beautiful
woman, perhaps more beautiful than ever. We made it to my place and I opened a bottle of
wine and we talked. With Cass and I, it always came easy. She talked a while and I would
listen and then i would talk. Our conversation simply went along without strain. We seemed
to discover secrets together. When we discovered a good one Cass would laugh that laugh-
only the way she could. It was like joy out of fire. Through the talking we kissed and
moved closer together. We became quite heated and decided to go to bed. It was then that
Cass took off her high -necked dress and I saw it- the ugly jagged scar across her throat.
It was large and thick.
"God damn you, woman," I said from the bed, "god damn you, what have you
done?
"I tried it with a broken bottle one night. Don't you like me any more? Am I still
beautiful?"
I pulled her down on the bed and kissed her. She pushed away and laughed, "Some
men pay me ten and I undress and they don't want to do it. I keep the ten. It's very
funny."
"Yes," I said, "I can't stop laughing... Cass, bitch, I love you...stop
destroying yourself; you're the most alive woman I've ever met."
We kissed again. Cass was crying without sound. I could feel the tears. The long black
hair lay beside me like a flag of death. We enjoined and made slow and somber and
wonderful love. In the morning Cass was up making breakfast. She seemed quite calm and
happy. She was singing. I stayed in bed and enjoyed her happiness. Finally she came over
and shook me,
"Up, bastard! Throw some cold water on your face and pecker and come enjoy the
feast!"
I drove her to the beach that day. It was a weekday and not yet summer so things were
splendidly deserted. Beach bums in rags slept on the lawns above the sand. Others sat on
stone benches sharing a lone bottle. The gulls whirled about, mindless yet distracted. Old
ladies in their 70's and 80's sat on the benches and discussed selling real estate left
behind by husbands long ago killed by the pace and stupidity of survival. For it all,
there was peace in the air and we walked about and stretched on the lawns and didn't say
much. It simply felt good being together. I bought a couple of sandwiches, some chips and
drinks and we sat on the sand eating. Then I held Cass and we slept together about an
hour. It was somehow better than lovemaking. There was flowing together without tension.
When we awakened we drove back to my place and I cooked a dinner. After dinner I suggested
to Cass that we shack together. She waited a long time, looking at me, then she slowly
said, "No." I drove her back to the bar, bought her a drink and walked out. I
found a job as a parker in a factory the next day and the rest of the week went to
working. I was too tired to get about much but that Friday night I did get to the West End
Bar. I sat and waited for Cass. Hours went by . After I was fairly drunk the bartender
said to me, "I'm sorry about your girlfriend."
"What is it?" I asked.
"I'm sorry, didn't you know?"
"No."
"Suicide. She was buried yesterday."
"Buried?" I asked. It seemed as though she would walk through the doorway at
any moment. How could she be gone?
"Her sisters buried her."
"A suicide? Mind telling me how?"
"She cut her throat."
"I see. Give me another drink."
I drank until closing time. Cass was the most beautiful of 5 sisters, the most
beautiful in town. I managed to drive to my place and I kept thinking, I should have
insisted she stay with me instead of accepting that "no." Everything about her
had indicated that she had cared. I simply had been too offhand about it, lazy, too
unconcerned. I deserved my death and hers. I was a dog. No, why blame the dogs? I got up
and found a bottle of wine and drank from it heavily. Cass the most beautiful girl in town
was dead at 20. Outside somebody honked their automobile horn. They were very loud and
persistent. I sat the bottle down and screamed out: "GOD DAMN YOU, YOU SON OF A BITCH
,SHUT UP!" The night kept coming and there was nothing I could do.

it's the same as before
or the other time
or the time before that.
here's a cock
and here's a cunt
and here's trouble.

only each time
you think
well now I've learned:
I'll let her do that
and I'll do this,
I no longer want it all,
just some comfort
and some sex
and only a minor
love.

now I'm waiting again
and the years run thin.
I have my radio
and the kitchen walls
are yellow.
I keep dumping bottles
and listening
for footsteps.

I hope that death contains
less than this.

Is it considered a drought, if I'm thirsty for you?

Cascading angel who freely falls soft to rocks

Being that you are the only possible remedy for my parched lips...

Mother of all waters,
I keep praying for you, safety through the devils mountain.
purest and clairsentiant like crystals one scrys into for answers.
playing and bending light several which ways to entertain me.

Famine and debris am I,
to savor your dew would bring me rapture

Cascading goddess who falls with little to no fear

Not even a stream was I,
but I drew in your mist, hoarding it till I became prosperous

Oasis that you are,
much like a water sage to the mirage of my soul

You erode me and shape me like mud and clay.
you're limitless as a moist well, peaking on infinity.
oh, my tongue swells for your never ending glory.

Cast out of Heaven, you are all for me.

http://venezuelanindian.blogspot.com/2007/08/angel-falls.html
For my fiance'

Based Loosely on angel falls, mythology. What fascinating things I find.
Megan McClain Nov 2011

you don't understand at all do you
not truly
you think
I'm a liar
that I still hold the knife
that
stabbed you in the back
[and in the heart]

kinda speechless
that you feel that way
think that way
believe it
untrustworthy? misleading?
false emotions?
can you not read?
here let me try again
maybe I can make it like braille
feel the words

it's like when the clouds stormy eyes
welled up and let fall the
tears of weekend rain
soggy, we laughed along with the thunder
and under our waterfall we let the windows
fog
tell me I lied then

or picture if you will
standing by the tree I
always parked by
it was a starry night, but we didn't see it
we were too focused on our faces
except
why is it I was the only one
drowning in the sadness that overtook my eyes
shaking with each strained, choppy breath
clutching that gray shirt like a life jacket
do you think that was all
for show?

haven't you looked at
my collection of black and white
silly letters scribbled down as fast as possible
trying as hard as I can
to leave it all
on the paper
but it's as if each word I write
is a tattoo
slowly invading every part of my skin
it's sinking in, it's staining everything
do you think this agony I speak of
is fake?

if so
if I am that liar with the knife who
led you astray and "screwed you over"
let you down, kicked you around
if you can't seem to
open your eyes
and notice
just how much I love you
just how much I always have

then you don't deserve it

ill run miles for you when I know I only
have the strength for one
but don't you
dare
watch me run
if you don't even grasp
that I stabbed myself in the back
led myself astray

you have a right to
hate the wound
but if you can't see
what I feel
one day
I will learn
that I have to let go
and I will

then all these silly letters
all for you

well. go ahead and throw them away
on that day
they will carry no life
anymore

during my worst times
on the park benches
in the jails
or living with
whores
I always had this certain
contentment-
I wouldn't call it
happiness-
it was more of an inner
balance
that settled for
whatever was occuring
and it helped in the
factories
and when relationships
went wrong
with the
girls.
it helped
through the
wars and the
hangovers
the backalley fights
the
hospitals.
to awaken in a cheap room
in a strange city and
pull up the shade-
this was the craziest kind of
contentment

and to walk across the floor
to an old dresser with a
cracked mirror-
see myself, ugly,
grinning at it all.
what matters most is
how well you
walk through the
fire.

SweetCindy Jul 2012

Man                                           Woman
He Smiles Curiously                        She Blushes Coyly
He Approaches      Asks her name      She shares it     Asks the Same
Mr Right                              Love at First Sight                    Her Smile is a Delight
"Meet for Drinks?"                            hmmmmmm                      ­        "Pick me up at 8?"
He knocks - 1 rose.                                vase, water                        Her perfume - sweeter.
Politely, opens car door for her                                The night keeps getting better
At the restaurant                                                      S­he sips her red wine
Conversation so easy                    She feels she's known him forever
"Would you like to dance?                "I don't dance very well."
"Indulge me, just want u in my arms."    ~Just a smile~
One hand at her waist, one on her back.
They become one, all others disappear.
Peering into each other's eyes.
No words are needed.
Their bodies
say
it.


© 2012

howard brace Feb 2012

     Inconspicuous, his presence noted only by the obscurity and the ever growing number of spent cigarette stubs that littered the ground.  It had been a long day and the rain, relentless in its tenacity had little intention of stopping, baleful clouds still  hung heavy, dominating the lateness of the afternoon sky, a rain laden skyline broken only by smoke filled chimney pots and the tangled snarl of corroded television aerials.

     The once busy street was fast emptying now, the lure of shop windows no longer enticed the casual browser as local traders closed their premises to the oncoming night, solitary lampposts curved hazily into the distance, casting little more than insipid pools mirrored in the gutter below, only the occasional stranger scurrying home on a bleak, rain swept afternoon, the hurried slap of wet leather soles on the pavement, the sightless umbrellas, the infrequent rumble of a half filled bus, hell-bent on its way to oblivion.

     In the near distance as the working day ended, a sudden emergence of factory workers told Beamish it was 5-o'clock, most would be hurrying home to a hot meal, while others, for a quick drink perhaps before making the same old sorry excuse... for Jack, the greasy spoon would be closing about now, denying him the comfort of a badly needed cuppa' and stale cheese sandwich.  A subtle legacy of lunchtime fish and chips still lingered in the air, Jack's stomach rumbled, there was little chance of a fish supper for Beamish tonight, it protested again... louder.

     From beneath the eaves of the building opposite several pigeons broke cover, startled by the rattle as a shopkeeper struggled to close the canvas awning above his shop window.  Narrowly missing Beamish they flew anxiously over the rooftops, memories of the blitz sprang to mind as Jack stepped smartly to one side, he stamped his feet... it dashed a little of the weather from his raincoat, just as the rain dashed a little of the pigeons' anxiety from the pavement... the day couldn't get much worse if it tried.  Shielding his face, Jack struck the Ronson one more time and cupped the freshly lit cigarette between his hands, it was the only source of heat to be had that day... and still it rained.

     'By Appointment to Certain Personages...' the letter heading rang out loudly... 'Jack Beamish ~ Private Investigator...' a throat choking mouthful by any stretch of the imagination, thought Jack and shot every vestige of credulity plummeting straight through the office window and amidst a fanfare of trumpet voluntary, nominate itself for a prodigious award in the New Year Honours list.   Having formally served in a professional capacity for a well known purveyor of pickled condiments, who  incidentally, brandished the same patronage emblazoned upon their extensive range of relish as the one Jack had more recently purloined from them... a paid commission no less, which by Jack's certain understanding had made him, albeit fleeting in nature, a professional consultant of said company... and consequently, if they could flaunt the auspicious emblem, then according to Jack's infallible logic, so could Jack.  

     The recently appropriated letterhead possessed certain distinction... in much the same way, Jack reasoned, that a blank piece of paper did not... and whereas correspondence bearing the heading 'By Appointment' may not exactly strike terror into the hearts of man... unlike a really strong pickled onion, it nevertheless made people think twice before playing him for the fool, which sadly, Jack had to concede, they still invariably did... and he would often catch them wagging an accusing finger or two in his direction with such platitudes as... "watch where you put your foot", they'd whisper, "that Jack's a right Shamus...", and when you'd misplaced your footing as many times as Jack had, then he reasoned, that by default the celebrated Shamus must have landed himself in more piles of indiscretion than he would readily care to admit, but that wouldn't be quite accurate either, in Jack's line of work it was the malefactor that actually dropped him in them more often than not.

     A cold shiver suddenly ran down his spine, another quickly followed as a spurt of icy water from a broken rain spout spattered across the back of his neck, he grimaced... Jack's expression spoke volumes as he took one final pull from his half soaked cigarette and flicked it, amid an eruption of sparks against the adjacent brick wall.  Sinking further into the shadow he tipped his fedora against the oncoming rain, then, digging both hands deep within his pockets, he huddled behind the upturned collar of his gabardine... watching.

     It was times such as these when Jack's mind would slip back, in much the same way you might slip back on a discarded banana peel, when a matter of some consequence, or in particular this case the pavement, would suddenly leap up from behind and give the back of Jack's head a resoundingly good slapping and tell him to "stop loafing around in office hours... or else", then drag him, albeit kicking and screaming back into the 20th century.  This intellectual assault and battery re-focused Jack's mind wonderfully as he whiled away the long weary hours until his next cigarette; cup of tea, or the last bus home, his capacity to endure such mind boggling tedium called for nothing less than sheer bloody-mindedness and very little else... Beamish had long suspected that he possessed all the necessary qualifications.  

     Jack had come a long way since the early days, it had been a long haul but he'd finally arrived there in the end... and managed to pick up quite a few dirty looks along the way.  Whilst he was with the Police Constabulary... and it was only fair to stress the word 'with', as opposed to the word 'in'... although the more Jack considered, he had been 'with' the arresting officer, held 'in' the local Bridewell... detained at Her Majesties pleasure while assisting the boys in blue with their enquiries over a minor infringement of some local by-law that currently had quite slipped his mind at that moment.  Throughout this enforced leisure period he'd managed to read the entire abridged editions of Kilroy and other expansive works of graffiti exhibited in what passed locally as the next best thing to the Tate Gallery, whereupon it hadn't taken Jack very long to realise that it was always a good place to start if you wanted free breakfast, in fact the weeks bill of fare was tastefully displayed in vivid, polychromatic colour on the wall opposite... you just had to be au-fait with braille.
                            
     No matter how industrious Beamish laboured to rake the dirt there always appeared to be a dire shortage of gullible clients for Jack to squeeze, what would roughly translate as an honest crust out of, and although his financial retainer was highly competitive he understood that potential clients found it bewildering when grappling with the unplumbed depths of his monthly expense account, which would tend to fluctuate with the same unpredictability as the British weather, the rest of Jack's agenda revolved around a little shady moonlighting... in fact he'd happily consider anything to offset the remotest possibility of financial delinquency... short of extortion... which by the strangest twist was the very word prospective clients would cry while Jack beavered around the office with dust-pan and brush sweeping any concerns they may have had frantically under the carpet regarding all culpability of his extra-curricular monthly stipend... and they should remain assured at all times... as they dug deep and fished for their cheque books, and simply look upon it as kneading dough, which eerily enough was exactly the thick wedge of buttered granary that Jack had every intention of carving.

     Were there ever the slightest possibility that a day could be so utterly wretched, then today was that day, Jack felt a certain empathy as he merged with his surroundings... at one with nature as it were.  The rain, a timpani on the metal dustbin lids, by the side of which Beamish had taken up vigil, also taking up vigil and in search of a morsel was the stray mongrel, this was the third time now that he'd returned, the same apprehensive wag, yet still the same hopeful look of expectation in his eyes, a brief but friendly companion who paid more attention to Jack's left trouser leg than anything that could be had from nosing around the dustbins that day... some days you're the dog, scowled Beamish as he shook his trouser leg... and some days the lamppost, Jack's foot swung out playfully, keeping his new friend's incontinence at a safe distance, feigning indignance  the scruffy mongrel shook himself defiantly from nose to tail, a distinct odour of wet dog filled the air as an abundance of spent rainwater flew in all directions.   Pricking one ear he looked accusingly at Jack before turning and snuffled off, his nose resolutely to the pavement and diligently, picking out the few diluted scents still remaining, the poor little stalwart renewed its search for scraps, or making his way perhaps to some dry seclusion known only to itself.
  
     Two hours later and... SPLOSH, a puddle poured itself through the front door of the nearest Public House... SPLOSH, the puddle squelched over to the payphone... SPLOSH, then, fumbling for small change dialled and pressed button 'A'..., then button 'B'... then started all over again amid a flurry of precipitation... SPLASH.  The puddle floundered to the bar and ordered itself a drink, then ebbed back to the payphone again... the local taxi company doggedly refused to answer... finally, wallowing over to the window the puddle drifted up against a warm radiator amidst a cloud of humidity and came to rest... flotsam, cast upon the shore of contentment, the puddle sighed contentedly... the Landlady watched this anomaly... suspiciously.

     The puddle's finely tuned perception soon got to grips with the unhurried banter and muffled gossip drifting along the bar, having little else to loose, other than what could still be wrung from his clothing... Beamish, working on the principle that a little eavesdropping was his stock-in-trade engaged instinct into overdrive and casually rippled in their general direction...  They were clearly regulars by the way one of them belched in a well rehearsed, taken-a-back sort of way as Jack took stock of the situation and was now at some pains to ingratiate himself into their exclusive midst and attempt several friendly, yet relevant questions pertinent to his enquiries... all of which were skillfully deflected with more than friendly, yet totally irrelevant answers pertinent to theirs'... and would Jack care for a game of dominoes', they enquired... if so, would he be good enough to pay the refundable deposit, as by common consent it just so happened to be his turn...  Jack graciously declined this generous offer, as the obliging Landlady, just as graciously, cancelled the one shilling returnable deposit from the cash register, such was the flow of light conversation that evening... they didn't call him Lucky Jack for nothing... discouraged, Beamish turned back to the bar and reached for his glass... to which one of his recent companions, and yet again just as graciously, had taken the trouble to drink for him... the Landlady gave Jack a knowing look, Beamish returned the heartfelt sentiment and ordered one more pint.

     From the licenced premises opposite, a myriad of jostling customers plied through the door, business was picking up... the sudden influx of punters rapidly persuaded Beamish to retire from the bar and find a vacant table.  Sitting, he removed several discarded crisp packets from the centre of the table only to discover a freshly vacated ashtray below... by sleight of hand Jack's Ronson appeared... as he lit the cigarette the fragile smoke curled blue as it rose... influenced by subtle caprice, it joined others and formed a horizontal curtain dividing the room, a delicate, undulating layer held between two conflicting forces.

     The possibility of a free drink soon attracted the attention of a local bar fly, who, hovering in the near vicinity promptly landed in Jack's beer, Beamish declined this generous offer as being far too nutritious and with the corner of yesterdays beer mat, flipped the offending organism from the top of his glass, carefully inspecting his drink for debris as he did so.

     A sudden draught and clip of stiletto heels as the side door opened caused Beamish to turn as a double shadow slipped discreetly into the friendly Snug... a little adulterous intimacy on an otherwise cheerless evening.  The faceless man, concealed beneath a fedora and the upturned collar of his overcoat, the surreptitious lady friend, decked out in damp cony, cheap perfume and a surfeit of bling proclaimed a not too infrequent assignation, he'd seen it all before... the over attentive manner and the band of white, Sun-starved skin recently hidden behind a now absent wedding token, ordinarily it was the sort of assignment Jack didn't much care for... the discreet tail, the candid snapshot through half drawn curtains... and the all too familiar steak tartare... for the all too familiar black eye.

     To the untrained eye, the prospect of Jack's long anticipated supper was rapidly dwindling, when it suddenly focused with renewed vigour upon the contents of a pickled egg jar he'd observed earlier that evening, lurking on the back counter, his enthusiasm swiftly diminished however as the belching customer procured the final two specimens from the jar and proceeded to demolish them.  Who, Jack reflected, after being stood out in the rain all day, had egg all over his face now... and who, he reflected deeper, still had an empty stomach.  Disillusioned, Jack tipped back his glass and considered a further sortie with the taxicab company.

     "FIVE-BOB"!!! Jack screamed... you could have shredded the air with a cheese grater... hurtling into the kerb like a fairground attraction came flying past the chequered flag at a record breaking 99 in Jack's top 100 most not wanted list of things to do that day... and that the cabby should think himself fortunate they weren't both stretched flat on a marble slab, "exploding tyres" Jack spluttered, dribbling down his chin, were enough to give anyone a coronary... further broadsides of neurotic ambiance filled the cab as the driver, miffed at the prospect of missing snooker night out with the lads, considered charging extra for the additional space Jack's profanity was taking...

     And what part of 'Drive-Carefully', fumed Beamish, did the cabby simply not understand, that pavements were there to be bypassed, 'Nay Circumvented', preferably on the left... and not veered into, wildly on the front axle... an eerie premonition of 'jemais-vu' perched and ready to strike like a disembodied Jiminy Cricket on Jack's left shoulder, looking to stick its own two-penny worth in at the 'Standing-Room-Only' arrangements in the overcrowded cab... and at what further point, Jack shrieked, eyes leaping from his head as he lurched forward, shaking his fist through the sliding glass partition, had the cabbie failed to grasp the importance of the word 'Steering-Wheel...' someone wanted horse whipping, and as far as Beamish was concerned the sole contender was the cab driver...

     In having a somewhat sedate and unruffled disposition it had fallen to Beamish... as befalls all great leaders in times of adversity, to single handedly take the bull by the horns, so to speak and at great personal cost, alert the unwary passing motorist...  Waving his arms about like a man possessed whilst performing acrobatic evolutions in the centre of the road as the cabby changed the wheel came whizzing around the corner at a back breaking 98 on Jack's ever growing list... and why, Jack puzzled, why had they all lowered their side windows and gestured back at him in semaphore..?  Rallying to its aid, Jack's head and shoulders now joined his shaking fist through the sliding glass partition and into the cabby's face, "Who" Beamish screeched with renewed vigour ,"Who Was The Man", Jack wanted to know... "and Who-o..." by this time the cabby considered his passenger was asking far too many questions for his own good but said little as he left the meter clocking up the additional fare... "Who-o risked his neck for brother man...", before eventually flagging down a breakdown patrol motorcyclist... only to discover that the cab company wasn't a member, "Who's Fault Was That", screamed Beamish... and that he had choice words to say if ever he crossed that mobile mechanic again, that definitely was not the regulation salute he was required to give, anyway Jack had no intention of paying the cab fare and said as much... and as for a gratuity, No-ooo... that didn't bare thinking about, he'd sooner have his leg chewed off by a rabid Aardvark, no... it was the taxicab company who should be doling out danger money... and plenty of it...  

     With an air of indignation Jack dislodged himself from the glass partition... stormed out of the cab and up the garden path... then stormed back down again, leaving the bemused cabby in no uncertain doubt that he'd by no means finished before storming back, only this time up his own garden path, leaving the red faced driver spluttering in sheer bewilderment.

     Fumbling for his keys Jack let himself in through the front door and promptly stumbled over several weeks mail and the undisputed title-holder of the 'Spiteful Cat Championship Cup' who, having taken a shine to basking on the summit several days earlier was incensed by this sudden intrusion and flew lickety-split full across the hallway, then, recoiling off the hat-stand, hurtled straight back, a malicious ball of thrashing barbs and razor wire.  In attempting to fend off, with only minor mutilation his second contender of the evening Jack noticed his slipper... the other he recalled was still on the kitchen floor where he'd abandoned it earlier that morning, it being worn at the time by a bluebottle, the troublesome insect had been bouncing against the window pane so frenziedly, presumably wishing to let itself out and take the morning air, that it cracked ... oddly enough, so did the fly, at the precise instant Jack's size 9 ceased hurtling through the kitchen void.  Cheerfully, Jack retrieved his slipper and scraped the deceased blowfly into the peddle-bin, 'Game, Set and Match'.

     He'd had a restless night, insomnia didn't help, neither did the persistent monotony of the bedside alarm clock... now any suggestion that it grow wings and take flight would have appealed to Jack at that precise moment as he pictured it touching down on its first solo flight against a distant wall... or should evolving wings be too millennial at such short notice, then Beamish would be only too happy to lend a helping hand and accommodate its transition in achieving the dizzying heights of being at oneness with the bedroom decor... opposite.

     Laying there Jack took stock of the previous day, he recalled the rain sodden fedora weighing heavily upon his mind, he remembered it giving him headache, he recalled the friendly mongrel, he remembered his left trouser leg.  Jack had been down on his luck more times than he could care to remember of late... yesterday had been no exception... sure, he'd had differences of opinion with cabbies before now, disparaging ones, but last night had really taken the biscuit... and that Jack would be giving the cab company a tasty mouthful of it later that morning...  As the rain finally took a well earned breather, so the incessant chatter of the dawn chorus began, Jack screamed... so did the alarm clock... a new day began.

     It would be a little unfair to say the day had started out on the wrong foot... it was nowhere near that lucky... but rather stepped on an upturned thumb tack instead, and witnessed a very exasperated Beamish hopping mad and wrangling on the telephone, being harangued as it happened by a taxicab manager... not 'the' taxicab manager you may have anticipated, whose company logo he'd completely forgotten to take note of, but the 'wrong' taxicab manager, the local business who directory enquires utterly failed to locate for the most obvious of reasons, Jack didn't have its name...  The long suffering switchboard operator patiently enquired as to whether Jack was inviting her to participate in some new game of deduction she had previously been in deficit of, or did Beamish believe her to have the gift of second sight... in which case, should she manage to locate her crystal ball then she would be only too delighted to return Jack's call with the ethereal telephone number, or perhaps he would prefer telepathy instead and that the choice was his...  Beamish thanked her for her professional sarcasm and suggested she might consider a change of career upon more distant shores, Jack then spent the following hour trawling through the subscriber listings before drawing up a short-list, and as painstakingly methodical as ever, he ducked.

     "Yes... yes... no, well maybe not, no ... n-no, well don't let it happen again then ... Good-Day". Beamish replaced the handset, badly trapping his fingers in the process... wrong number.   Gingerly, dusting off the palms of his hands Jack studied the list once again, then took one last stab at pinning the tail firmly back on the donkey... who promptly lashed back and kicked him full in the face.  In the distance, a rumble of thunder foretold the day bode anything but well.

     That afternoon discovered Beamish back in the same dining establishment he hadn't quite managed to be in the day before... Never to be mistaken for a 'More~Tea~Vicar' tearoom, with gingham tablecloths, pretty maids in severe black skirt and matching top uniforms... with white pinafore, bob-caps and Irish lace accessories, but rather a 'sugar yer own tea with a spoon on a chain, screwed permanently to the counter with a 6 inch nail...' Pit-Stop... with complimentary cigarette ash bobbing cheekily on top.  Beamish felt thoroughly at home, it added a certain flamboyance, he determined, to the locale...

     A distinct lack of ashtrays, the absence of which invited the casual smoker to exploit the threadbare linoleum to its utmost possible advantage and lent a certain minimalist feel to the joint, cosy, yet austere... exhibiting great artistic indifference and real back breaking restraint in the petty cash department.  The various mostly empty condiments and communal sugar bowl, stuck firmly to the counter with generous remains of yesterdays 'All-Day-Breakfast' further added to its dash of individuality, it crossed Jack's mind that the outdoor washing facilities were just as individual, giving off the robust and invigorating odour of carbolic San-Izal and a non too subtle hint that having finished whatever it was that you were doing there in the first place, the customer shouldn't loiter.  

     The unshaven proprietor glanced briefly up at the clock, a nondescript grunt emerged from some uncharted region whose geography Jack surmised... as a further contribution of cigarette ash took the plunge and joined its siblings skinny-dipping in the murky depths of the recently unwashed frying pan below, was best left to those with a good working knowledge of Cartography.  Of indeterminate age, he was a man of relatively ample and oily circumference, the few hairs still remaining appeared hastily groomed with some questionable residue you might possibly unearth in the greasier, more remote recesses of the kitchen peddle-bin.  Still in bedroom slippers, his outgoing distinctiveness was further marked by a deficiency of soap powder and the jaunty demeanour of his string vest,  it was his lower extremities however, festooned in snappy, a-la-mode dog-tooth check that finally brought the stunning ensemble to a breath taking conclusion.

     While Jack queued in line to be ignored at, and then have his order casually brushed aside with a...  "if it ain't up on the board chum, then we ain't gorrit..."  then have a tired sandwich, not necessarily of his own choosing, thrown at him by way of compromise, he considered the previous mornings bluebottle would really have hit the big time here, what you might call 'Cabaret au' Slipper' and with all the ambiance of a smoke filled jazz cellar, the venue would've caused eruptions within the Industrial North's show-biz circles.  As the jukebox thumped out loudly in the background... "Papa's got a brand new bag..." "Awww", Jack was rather of the opinion that the now otherworldly fly was striking some new and exclusive rites-of-passage with 'The Almighty' and could be launching its latest debut appearance in the Performing Arts as early as a week next Tuesday, or as long as gestation, or reincarnation would allow, Jack speculated as to whether it would need a road manager or not, one who was worldly in ways of the 'slipper...'

     The day, pretty much as any other trudged wearily on from one sodden rain cloud to the next... Rained off and sat in the same Public House as the previous evening, Jack ordered a pie and a pint while he carefully peeled the racing pages apart from the newspaper he'd purchased earlier for that weeks events at the local racetrack.  The previous evenings taxicab number, once prominently displayed by the payphone was now, strangely enough only to be noted by its absence... whereabouts unknown... and despite all Jack's efforts to the contrary, had little intention of reappearing anytime soon.  The business cards mysterious departure deeply troubled Jack's finely honed powers of deduction as it bore many similarities to his own long overdue expenses, which apparently had little intention of appearing anytime soon either, presumably choosing to 'bunk-off' and go steeplechasing instead.  

     Whilst other far flung people cruised in the cabriolet of a much sunnier clime, unhurried England having nowhere in particular to go, bumbled along in the slow lane, beneath what could only be described as a whirlpool of depression you would normally associate with the BBC shipping forecast for coastal areas... Viking, Rockall and Cromarty, today was one such maelstrom which to its credit was taking squarely on the chin every weather-beaten punch the sky could possibly throw at it... from a refreshing, 'quick morning spar in the bathroom washbasin', to a more exhilarating ,'brisk and vigorous workout under a mid-afternoon shower', then at the final bell, an out for the count 'three coins in the fountain' bath night.

     The three day racing event had witnessed the worst turnout since records began, the outside camera crews, refusing to leave the warm... yet more importantly, dry interior of the mobile studio and put in an appearance, threatened work-to-rule, with menaces and not too dissimilar to the weather... lightening strikes... opting to play Five's and Three's instead over toasted crumpets and a steaming mug of Bovril.  The going had been soft-to-poor the previous day, then rallying its forces throughout the night to become what could very easily be mistaken for  quagmire-to-quicksand... now this should have spurred the promoters to throw in the towel at their earliest convenience and abandon the race meeting outright, but the event, not wishing to be eclipsed by the latest weather front was fast developing into an out-take of the Oxford boat race and had every intention of storming to victory, crossing the finishing line by nothing less than three lengths.

     The final event of the day was coming under starters orders, having made one breathtaking loss after the other, Jack, casting all caution to the wind... in much the same way it seemed as his latest client, was now going all out for broke...  'Aweeeee-screeech'... wailed the commentary box loudspeakers "Aand-they're-off..."  "its-Captain-Clueless-coming-up-on-th­e-i­nsi­de and..." "Oh...  "aand-he's-fallen-at-the-first-fence..." "what-a-spectacular humiliation..." and so it continued...  It had been a fun packed day, Jack fumed, as he clenched a handful of betting slips in his fist and brandished them skywards... simply one great whopping success story after the other, Jack felt certain the same heartfelt sentiments would be leaping through the jockey's mind as the stretcher bearers carted him off towards the St. John's Ambulance  first aid tent.  Captain Clueless meanwhile, playing to the crowd and his newly acquired fan base gambolled off in a frolicsome, catch-me-if-you-can sort of way and in the general direction of a brisk rub down and well earned nosebag... his handlers sliding in hot pursuit.  Jack tore up his betting slips... Jack tore them up some more and littered the visitors paddock, as the confetti floated downstream you could almost catch them gurgling a cheerful little tune to themselves... someone, Jack thought, had to keep the ground stewards employed...

     No... barter was definitely out and as far as bad debts went, accepting a clients moped in lieu of payment was no exception, and yet it had seemed quite pointless to offer a continued service when Jack's unerring instinct once again informed him that to unearth the cause of his clients mysterious insolvency would be to discover something to Jack's distinct financial disadvantage.  Having finally worked free from the hysterics and the desperation with which the impoverished client had clutched at Jack's shirt collar, Beamish wished him bonne-chance and for him to remain assured throughout these troubled times, that should Jack be of further assistance in shouldering any further burden his former client may encounter, then he should be sure to seize the moment with both hands... not too dissimilar to  Jack's crumpled shirt collar... and accept his personal card as an insignificant token of their continued association... they parted company.  Although Jack found his former sponsors death-rattle touching, he considered the fervour in which he displayed it a little excessive, when a simple handshake would have served the same purpose in relieving him of his wristwatch... business, after all, was business.

     A positive outlook in all things, Jack reassured himself for the third time that day since his latest cash-cow had abruptly dried up... and in looking upon every fat pocketbook that fell by the wayside as a potential source of unearned income, a good Samaritan, Jack reasoned, would be offering no disservice in taking upon his own shoulders the straw that was breaking the poor, unfortunate creature's back... and give the poor defenceless animal a helping shove, so to speak, head first through the eye of the proverbial needle... and straight into Jack's superannuated pension scheme... "hallelujah".

     Whereas a pessimist would behold a glass half empty set before them... an optimist, one that was brimming half full, then Beamish would feast his eyes upon a foaming tankard, one filled to capacity with every fermented delight that Jack's indulgent taste-buds could ever be prevailed upon to imbibe.  Of all the plum pies that Jack had his thumbs stuck into... up to the elbows in fact... was one five-star hors-d'oeuvre that would ordinarily send your average County Court Judgement diving for cover in last week's wastepaper basket, then, while the bailiff's were running around like headless chickens, pointing accusing fingers at anyone but themselves as to who'd forgotten to get the legality notarised, then Jack would simply roll his sleaves up and get stuck in, sending all future incriminating disbursements scurrying in the opposite direction, straight into Jack's Cayman-islands tax haven account...

     Were it not for Jack's keen sense of business acumen and a very strong sense of British fair play then Beamish could almost feel sorry for his clients, so sorry in fact that for a mere bagatelle, currently running at five per-cent above inflation... plus commission, Beamish would bring full weight to bear, and for a further modest monthly consideration, make the problem disappear permanently... for a further modest month.  Jack didn't particularly see this as skimming cream from the top of the churn, but rather as breaking into the dairy farming industry and in direct competition with the Milk Marketing Board.

     "Hit the road Jack, Hit the road Jack and don't you come back..." Shut-Up!   Shut-Up!!  Shut-Up!!!  Shut-Up!!!!  screamed Beamish, that jingle was just begging for trouble as the lyrics chirruped on... "no more,  no more,  no more,  no more..." it harmoniously re-joined, limbering up for the next prophetic verse.   Now barking his ankle on the kick-start had been comparatively simple, if not painful compared to the mind numbing complexity of vaulting on or off without tripping the ejector seat, which was also mind numbingly painful and "Hit the road Jack and..."after ripping the seat out of his second pair of trousers that morning, "...don't you come back no mo-o-o-ore" it wailed, seemingly without a care in Creation... and badly needed screwing down, "what you say..?", the song further enquired... badly needed screwing down.  One hour, and an entirely different song later, having explored the extensive array of oil leaks which had apparently resolved any rust problems the moped may have had were also at odds with Jack's willingness to remit blood money to the Petro-Chemical Industry's prodigious profit margins.

     She'd been popping in and out of Jack's mind for sometime now, in much the same way that a friendly neighbour might pop around to borrow a bowl of sugar... well, she could have kept the sugar bowl... and the china tea service that accompanied it just so long as Jack got an invitation to coffee mornings... when, out of the corner of one eye she stood, as though in a golden haze waiting to cross the road, arms folded, a look of pure contempt waxed lyrical, her dainty foot tapping out a military tattoo... quick time when SMACK...  also with utter contempt, only on this occasion for the Highway Code, a speeding wasp slammed straight into the corner of Jack's other eye.  

     Having had just about all  the excitement they could take for one day the now unfettered handlebars finally took matters into their own hands as the moped lurched wildly from one side to the other... and with it lent a whole new sequence of choreography to the expression 'do the Bossa-Nova...' just where were the emergency services when you needed them, Jack's panic stricken senses demanded... he would definitely be pressing charges, then it occured that no, he definitely would not, he didn't hold a motorcycle licence for one thing... which came limping around the corner with a Doctor's sick note third from last in Jack's top 100 most wanted as the jitterbugging moped, frantically looking for someone to mark its dance card struggled to Trip the Light Fantastic solo... nor was he Road Taxed, now that he came to think about it, or Insured for that matter... but it was most certainly a Hit and Run.

     As a matter of some interest, and so as not to get too bogged down over the finer points of where to lay the blame, Jack had absolutely no control whatsoever over the teeth rattling chain of events that were currently raining down about his ears that afternoon, nor did he feel anything other than sheer, abject terror as the moped continued pitching wildly from side to side before plunging into the nearest pothole, thereby performing the nasal vasectomy that brought far more than tears to Jack's bloodshot eyes as it propelled him... "Aaaargh..." over the front mudguard... nor indeed the prodigious feats of derring-do as he selflessly placed the welfare of his underwear above life and limb... but it was Jack's unrehearsed double axel as he cartwheeled unrehearsed through the air in a majestic spiral of arms and legs that finally swept her, the object of Jack's undying infatuation, albeit head on, completely off her feet, after all... how could a girl possibly refuse.  

     The Panel awarded best overall score to the moped, receiving an impressive  5-5,  5-6,  5-6  for Freestyle Jive and amid a standing ovation at first curtain call performed double back somersaults down the road as encore... the aerobic wasp, looking to catapult itself onto prime time television and certain stardom took a well deserved Second for creative interpretation and its extravagant use of the pirouette... while Beamish, for whom the Judges' 'to-a-man' were of one accord over Jack's imaginative application of the English language and with unanimous nods of resentment promptly disqualified him...  If nothing else, Jack surmised, it would certainly be a talking point, something to while away the long Winter evenings together, time would simply fly by...  

     With her foot tapping the same military two-step as earlier, the object of Jack's undying affection glared down at him and began opening her mouth, then thought better of it and simply sneered instead... "Dello", a nasally challenged Beamish sniffled as he peeled himself from the asphalt, "wodda lubly subrize... vancy meedin ooo agaid do dood", Jack squeezed a gelatinous blob of hemoglobin from his neck-tie by way of an impromptu chat up line before dabbing his nose once more with the congealing strip of fabric... thinking it far more judicious to use the softly-softly approach rather than slap her on the back and invite her out for a pint... that would come later, "do ooo um ere ovden" he rambled on unabashed, fumbling with the sodden item of neckwear as in a last ditch attempt to impress, Jack was going all out to kick the scattered remains of his former mode of embarrassment discreetly under the tarmac.

     YES!!!  he'd finally struck gold... it wasn't quite the cosy 'Mills and Boon' coffee morning Jack might have wished for... true, nor even a romantic 'Allison and Busby' bag of chips to go... shared between two no hopers on a balmy Summer's evening, but nonetheless it was a date, of sorts...  9.30 for 10 a.m. sharp, so the Summons read, at the Magistrate's Sessions in the County Court Assizes.  Jack arrived quite early that morning, clean shaven and sporting a fresh elastoplast in anticipation of an amicable tete'-a-tete' with the Plaintiff, before an equally amicable head-to-head with the Magistrate.   Opting to conduct his own defence, the Court Usher finally summoned Jack,  who was led under caution to the dock and... thirty minutes later... "Harrumph" the Justice cleared his throat for the final onslaught...

     And what part of 'Drive-Carefully' the Magistrate spluttered, did Beamish not understand... that potholes were there to be bypassed, 'Nay Circumvented' preferably either side... and not pitched into, wildly on the nose...  the disembodied shadow of deja-vu sat unconcernedly with its feet crossed upon Jack's left shoulder, munching away at a cheese and pickle on rye whilst it warmed to the idea of sticking the boot in this time, rather than use piddling small change... meanwhile, sitting at a neighbouring table the bewildered Stenographer broke into her second mid-life crisis that morning, giving rise to further withering glares from the Clerk-to-the-Court as to where the precipitous mountain of bread crumbs, inexplicably cascading over the Courtroom Proceedings were coming from... And at what further point, the Magistrate shrieked, his eyes leaping from his head as he lurched forward brandishing the gavel over the Bench and straight into Jack's face, had Beamish failed to grasp the importance of the word 'Highway Code...', someone was about to get the book thrown at them and as far as the Magistrate was concerned, the sole malcontent was Beamish.

     Subsequent to the Magistrates final ruling Beamish was awarded a £15 endorsable fine, suspended until such time as Jack actually possessed a motorcycle licence of his own... and no, a television licence would not do, plus a further £15 for contempt of court... and the penalties mounted... £15 for failure to display valid road tax... £15 for non compliance of mandatory motor vehicle indemnity... and that the Defendant should think himself lucky that the Petitioner did not wish to pursue the matter further... and it didn't stop there, he wasn't the registered keeper and he should have been, £15... driving without due care, £15... and for lack of attention... yet an additional £15, Jack wished the Magistrate would stop stuttering and call an early recess for lunch as the gavel struck the block one last time... "SOLD", shouted Jack, to the gentleman with the rosy nos... "and another £15" screamed the red faced Beak as he tipped backwards in his chair...

     The barometer continued to plummet at breakneck speed and had been doing so single-handedly since well before dawn, which Jack, after an arduous day took to be a leisurely 11 a.m. going on noon and Beamish was doing what Beamish apparently did best... he was stood in the rain... Jack then called upon the local theatrical costumier before visiting a well known High Street retailer masquerading as the Gas meter reader and with an HB pencil stuck behind his ear, how could Jack's infallible plan possibly fail...  

     Clawing his way back through the vast, cobweb infested labyrinth of cellars and musty passageways, only to re-emerge into the cheerless light of day under the pretence of having just read the gas meter, a heavily begrimed Beamish who, still incognito, could now be found queuing in the staff canteen for his complimentary cup of tea, when... "oh" she said, "it's you again... I didn't know you worked for the Gas Board, I thought you were an assassin..." and ",why are you covered in cobwebs... is it camouflage?" and that was it, the ice had been broken... her name it transpired was Jenny Bartleby, so the insignia on her pinafore explained and that she'd obviously been playing Jack at his own game for some time, now they could presumably go at it hammer and tongs from that moment on... and would she care for lunch... Jack's off-the-cuff invitation was hardly the offer of a lifetime, yet sprang straight into action nonetheless... and it had to be better than a Smokey Joe's stale cheese sandwich of former acquaintance... whilst Jack was offering a freshly grated cheese and pickle sandwich with fries, the fact that she'd be making it herself, Jack concluded, was neither here nor there... If, she persisted, if he really wanted to show a girl a good time then that was just fine by her... but he was going about it entirely the wrong way if... if he insisted on being such a cheapskate... then turning her attention to the back counter she started grating cheese.

     "There's a vacant table in the corner" she said, "over by the window" gesturing vaguely with her tray "we can sit there if you like", but there again if he didn't like, then that was equally fine by her... he could simply leave and no doubt bump into her at some future date, should he still fancy his chances involving her in a second near fatal incident... in which case her uncle, Magistrate and eminent top criminal advocate of 'Bartleby, Belladonna & Bromide', Barristers-at-Law, to whom Beamish, she was pleased to recall, had been formally introduced during their previous skirmish would be at no uncertain pains to ensure that he made every aspect of Jack's life from that moment on a pure living nightmare as he systematically set about stripping Beamish of every last brass farthing he possessed... Jack's undisclosed Cayman-islands bank account being no exception.  Her uncle's predisposition for judicial larceny, she firmly assured him, knew no bounds within the precedents of legal jurisprudence... and that she was currently employed, if he really must know, choking back a giggle as she cleared her throat, by the local Municipal Constabulary... she dunked into a dollop of ketchup and nibbled thoughtfully on a fried chip, "working undercover" she explained... having the time of her life... "in the staff canteen as a freelance Sous-Chef operative," and that it was all very hush-hush stuff and would probably breach the Official Secrets Act were she to say more... and that if Beamish continued to break her cover as he had been doing of late... and dipped his nose any further into matters that didn't concern him, then Jack's already traumatised nasal membrane would shortly be submitting weekly time-sheets... which as luck would have it came tearing across the finishing line and took a triumphant, champagne popping first in Jack's personal top 100 most wanted... and that yes, leaning over and giving Jack a quick peck on the cheek, she would accept a drink after work... if Jack was paying.

                                         ...   ...   ...
©
    
7117 ish.

Drunk as drunk on turpentine
From your open kisses,
Your wet body wedged
Between my wet body and the strake
Of our boat that is made of flowers,
Feasted, we guide it - our fingers
Like tallows adorned with yellow metal -
Over the sky's hot rim,
The day's last breath in our sails.

Pinned by the sun between solstice
And equinox, drowsy and tangled together
We drifted for months and woke
With the bitter taste of land on our lips,
Eyelids all sticky, and we longed for lime
And the sound of a rope
Lowering a bucket down its well. Then,
We came by night to the Fortunate Isles,
And lay like fish
Under the net of our kisses.

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