The Village Above The Moors (short story)
The village above the moors
In seeing the full moon during day, Frank walked home. It wasn’t the type that swamps the night’s body, fresher than a knife, but, a half-way insane kind, that shone above the village shops. Maybe insane is believing that we can be carried further by our feet, by animals, beauty, and change, as we run together, dancing forward, and never, by the dosed mechanics of sight, but within the side-walks of our fur, by the partnership of the moors, the moon is song, the sun is silence.
Frank had just worked a normal day, the kind that only things like moon against blue sky could improve, hanging there moving, corralling him towards the offy, collar up, walking vigorously. And the bus pulled away saying that I’ll see you again in a few days to the worker, but shit, not before I say a wee song for lass, and parlay with June. And several lads too young to drink asked him politely “Scuze me mate, can you get served for us?”
And yes, I know exactly what it’s like here, Frank said, replying no, with a smile. From there, as always, it was quiet, because no-one minds if you pay your way, even a 4-pack of beer and whiskey seem free when you’re off for two days. The farmers celebrate with the raving hares, the horses try to buck less when their riders haven’t been to the gym, and even the drunkards have a song in tune for the police. The storm over Sunday is far away, and there was no reason not to chuckle at how loud the geese spoke, flying over the electric lines, saying & asking: follow us you fool! Follow us you fool!
Frank walked down the middle of a muddy road to his semi-detached, as serious as humour, sepulchre bursting red jets of blue across the sheep in the distance, clouds inside lightening, after a long shift, dressed in a black suit, making a long musical grunt below four days of stubble, and finally, ripping off buttons as he gave up undoing his shirt politely. Whatever happened that day was trying to erase the old testament, bewilder the underdogs, and brand the shifting clouds with rain beyond wind.
So, like all of us, Frank walked straight, placing his fire in his body, knowing that there was a way to traverse it all: the bitching about life, the delirium whine of moaning, the blunt heaviness of saying nothing, but also, seeing song in it all. And, like one of those geese smiling, and opening his gate, swinging his bag of booze, Frank reminded himself of why his lass was still with him, which was due to the fact, he was one of the few that knew his vices so well, that, they never made him do any of those things.
Frank smuggled out his keys and unlocked the door. Closing his eyes as it opened, then opening them, stepping inside. He didn’t sigh like the beast did in the morning, when all there was was a stiff grimace of love, building inside a metallic unit unable to do anything apart from feel haunted, even though they were both alive, and his black haired lass told him not to worry, calmly, as she too had work to come. No. Their home was lit by her perfume. It didn’t plume like hammers under a piano’s hood, it relaxed out, already a place unable to be changed. The home that fits your world whenever you’re on time, have some way of getting through it all, and find the energy to speak again in polite, normal, animal tongues. His, slamming the door, locking that heavy, well made, double glazed, bull shit, behind. Hers, somewhere upstairs, working away at her canvas.
Looking up the stairs, kicking his heel against the door to make sure it was shut, placing his jangling bag on the floor, howling up. Knowing that he mustn’t disturb her, calling, after a short short prayer that he kept to himself, that made his heart human, again.
“Hey, how come you’re not at the door with my pipe and slippers, young lassy!” He shouted up, mocking day.
The normal silence, Sienna’s reply. Frank breathed in. And his body said the thanking prayer a few more times as he bounced up the stairs, three steps at a time. At the top, he calmed. Turning around like a dead automaton, looking down at yesterday, and today’s steps, yes, the work had nearly made him that way. Each of the steps was bad. A trigger in his fury. And he remembered it all, in their blue swaying felt. So easy, to be strange, so, so, easy, in your own home, he thought humbly.
– Knock knock –
Sienna knocked from inside the closed door of their bedroom come studio, just behind him. It was her job to knock on the wood at 6pm, his job to shatter the day with laughter, knock knock my gorgeous bird, knock knock and – – – The “Here!” was silent, as Frank turned around and produced a collection of water lillies, orchids, and white roses, in 180° turn, as his queen opened the door. His head bowed like it used to at the dojo, with one arm stretched forward, offering his gift, a still, tall, statue, looking slowly up. Although lassy, knowing that her birthday came all the time with this one, Sienna merely chuckled quietly, and smiled, gently accepting the flowers.
She turned around, and walked back inside their room, saying nothing.
“Where you going?” Frank said trying to follow her. She slammed the door hard.
Knocking a few times back the door, a few times more, then shouting a few orders about taking a shower because he stank. And only dogs can command dogs, but with a million names for it all, only time knows how to handle the madness of life. And yet, the truest of animals share the next known secret too, the, shower like an ape singing to his waterfall, the, rage until the armies are intact again, after being extinct for a day, type secrets.
Frank opened the door of the shower, able to live because he’d spent the last of his wages on a gift for Sienna. He looked in the mirror. His reflection looked like another man. The type that Sienna preferred. Smiling. Careless. And he knew that that was the reason behind what had happened that day. But equally, that man wrapping his body in a towel, would be the reason his doe would go if he started all this bull again. None of us die alone if the fire is made from dreams. Frank thought, leaning his head on the mirrored cabinet, unaware that he’d hit it fairly hard, making it crack.
Sienna pushed the bathroom door open, as Frank stood there, leaning on the mirror, as blood dribbled down his nose. Somewhere he twitched, behind his eye-lids maybe.
“No more sales.” Frank was mumbling now, over and over, as Sienna snatched the can away from his hand, knocking over his shaving gel, but showing him what fed-up really was, and necking half of it.
“Hey!” Frank said, taking his head off the mirror, and lunging for the can, as they were careful not to slip, and were actually, greeting each other, and saying damn it all, together, in their own way.
And so, when we map our madness, call it hate, or that peculiar memory of battering sea: without a mate to walk in, wet footed, white and dark panther pulse, yes, without that other animal, without the real animal in the mirror, not the reflection of man, or woman, but through the blunt, soft steps of steam, help comes. Waltzing chimera. Toujours chimère, my twin that smells of skin, able to keep up, throughout the long long rivets of twisting trees, able to roar with stars inside the sun, as the moors depart from our dusk, our gallop, our wilderness libretto, the swaying trees open a crater around us, their greeny black embrace becoming the coliseum of our home, as we toast each other’s war, in echoes of storm.
Frank didn’t notice that the hours fell like wings from the bluey moors as they both undressed. One, already naked. Second, doing it just to humour the first. Stranger, stranger, stranger, the weekend allowed them to light candles in glass cups on the floor. Frank knowing that without Sienna, there would be no fuel, Sienna knowing that without Frank, their would be no reason to light the candles. Where stairs lead up to the next floor, the old loft above the bathroom, where, it had been converted into another place.
They walked up the stairs solemnly with dance. Of course, all of the curtains were drawn. It wasn’t a spectacle. It wasn’t anything less usual than the way two humans transform what is not, since in the end, the axis of our thought, is built within the rituals of two, saying to the limbo of work: we have known you well for nine hours, you have tasked us well, to stay controlled within day, but, now the moors speak on their own, our bodies are once more alive, in our home, and in our theatre of only two names.
Frank pushed the door open to the loft room, while standing, holding the door open for his mate. Their skin was different in the way one was darker than the other. Sienna accepted, bowing to Frank, before entering the room first. Their was no music apart from the open moors that spread open below and outside of the window, where, they moved in their undergarments, drawing the long curtains in.
Danger was the first thing to go. Worry, work, and even, the evolution of all the things that one cannot accept alone, went. They went outside of time, and spoke loudly to both of their professions. As if, one was entirely mad, no-one was drunk, and that music was made by accepting that light is created only by remembered palliate, foreseen plans that when me lad comes back he’ll nut the bathroom mirror, non-seen calm for me lass that I’ll be buying some flowers for you, since if I have to sell anymore insurance… I’ll…
Frank looked up at Sienna, they stopped, and she finally asked him, laying on his chest “What the fuck happened to you today love?”
And. Sienna said things in the way that a stylish gramophone spoke. Old school, quiet, grammar school English, a tone undone for animal ears, more of a voice that can chuckle with female bears. And of course, it had been gathering all week, arrows can never turn back, that would take a world, and an archer so adept at their own trade, to grip them mid-air in their arc, and send them onto their Everest desert.
So, in the first time of conversation, or at least, in the first time that he had spoke normally all day, Frank spoke.
“You won’t believe any of it. Shit. Well. Jeez. Well you know this morning… I’m sorry about all that… But like, you know, I fucked it all off, as I always do on the bus when I give you a quick call. Then at work.,. Nothing weird until the meeting. You know it was the group thing today?”
“What group thing? Crazy man…” Sienna said beginning to doze.
“Well… It was the group team meeting. Normal stuff, I dunno, I told you about it. 4 o’clock. I was early… The room was off…”
“What?” Sienna said, moving her eyes over Frank’s.
“Georgey hung himself. Georgey hung himself…” Frank said, closing his eyes, feeling around for Sienna’s thighs around his waist.
“WHAT?” Sienna said becoming fully awake again, like a sphinx feeling a shot of lightening.
“No no no. Not like that. Not like that. I walked into the meeting room, turned the lights on, and he was just hanging there, from a belt wrapped around the fucking lighting thingy. But he wasn’t dead. He was dead. I just stood there. I couldn’t even… For a moment, I ran in to grab his legs and started screaming, I held his legs, I held his legs, trying to push him back up! I was trying but I couldn’t help Georgey, I couldn’t, I COULDN’T”
And being near Sienna helped, but the telling seemed only to enrage him. The lady had already unmounted Frank well before he grabbed for the bottle of wine they were drinking together, which soon became one of many missiles that he corrected parts of their old bloody book-case with with. But. Since Sienna knew that her bull would never do anything to her, and, he had proven it by doing it to others, there was a small amount of trust at least. From outside, and from the ground eye view of their bird-bath, that was shaped with three toads holding a bowl on the lawn, Frank forgot, or began to forget, control. Although, he was still telling his story, the whole time, and eventually, there was a blazing place of stillness within him, where it was time for the police, or, time for a chat.
Since Sienna had never come to any harm around Frank, when he had walked with her, been drunk with her, and mostly, only let her feel the animal inside him, in ways that said this was his nature, uncoloured by the normal states of anger, but obviously fuelled from elsewhere outside their partnership, she felt temperance, and made him calm by walking to their bedside table and picking up her menthols. Frank watched her smoke, and in the flame of their room, and in the death beds of trouble, lassy smoked, blowing rings into the air near the door, big enough for planets to jump through, as Frank rubbed his head, lumbered over to their bed, sat down, and wondered what had happened.
He sat down beside her. “But you know. They killed me. I was standing there, screaming, screaming screaming… It seemed so long. I don’t know what I said love… And you know, I started to do things that were so insane, or at least, I think they were insane… I was trying to force poor old George’s head through the roof, jeez… I like to think that I’m strong, but, when help came, I had made a hole in roof, bust through the light fixture, there was glass laying around everywhere. But. It was good, I’d got him down. Then, they started to come into the room, you know, and Georgey began to kick on the floor.”
“What?” Sienna said, looking at him, and passing him her smoke.
“Cheers, thought I quit, haha” He said numbly, “Aye. He began to dance on the floor. Trying to dig his fingers into the belt around his neck. But I didn’t do anything. I just stood there and watched him. They were singing. Ha-pp-y Birth-day too-you. The divisional manager was there. He had a cake… Poor old Georgey. Why him? I’ve always liked Georgey… Why’d they force him to do it, he could have died, maybe it was his idea… I, I bet it wa-” Frank said standing up.
But where professions are so different there is clarity, especially between two, and when the rivers support the same rent, so, it was easy for Sienna to know how the game was played, why they had chosen to celebrate Frank’s birthday in this way, and this was obvious to her from her years of painting; she trusted Frank, the type that couldn’t understand the game, and the type of shark she loved for his unmixed ways.
By luck, surrounding his shoulders, and the light shining across Siena’s smile, there were more bottles of wine downstairs, and that night, there was wine in the red fields, and, it was impossible to remember their labours, so, there was thanks in the bastion, thanks in their grace, and faith, in the midnight sun.