this is oh so blue
A MAGAZINE OF FICTION, POETRY & MORE!
|this is black shadow|
ZYGOTE IN MY COFFEE.COM
|***BIO*** Edward Mc Whinney is Irish, from Cork. Iíve had stories published in various magazines such As Cyphers and Salmon. Andyís Feeling is the first chapter of a novel Iím working at, called Talking to Andrea.|
|© 2004 zygoteinmycoffee Ink.|
|Platonic or Pelvic|
|by Edward Mc Whinney|
|I sat with my back to the study wall reading Lord Byron, nurturing the sombre mood that rose up like softly curling smoke from my socks, vaguely aware of the alarm bells that wake everyone in the harbour area in the middle of the night and how it was of no consequence to me now as I would not be going to work next day. I was finished as porter at The Marlborough Hotel. I had enough money in the bank to live on for a month, a glorious month without having to think of going out to earn a crust. Being independent is everything, having the freedom to think your own thoughts that are not the thoughts of the crowd. The softly curling cloud of smoke that rose out of the pages from Byron had now reached my nose and hung around waiting for a reaction. There is a style of life I aspire to, I said to no-one, because there was no-one there, and I added, itís an inner, solitary, independent life, sitting on the study floor, my back to the wall, dreamily reading poems, an alternative charge firing my cylinders, not gauging behaviour or response against a criteria that emanates from the crowd. To avoid all complications being the first principle, how ironic in the light of what was about to happen, to keep matters as straight as possible and avoid any situation that can bring you grief, know who you are and where you stand or sit for that matter, as I was just then sitting with my back to the study wall, quite cool, no longer reading Byron, the book had fallen down between my knees onto the timber floor. Though my voice retained something of the melancholy youth with the whimsical, sometimes flippant tongue, dangerously, darkly proud, independent, following no fixed set of rules made by anyone from the herd, ready to break bones and have bones broken. Without moving much, that is with a simple stretch of my left hand I could turn on the radio, which I did to hear the news as the rains came and began to lash against the window and cut into the garden, I heard tell of the Hurricane that was lashing the east coast of America with devastating effect, and when I heard that it was called Hurricane Andrea, I sat up straight, I tell you, startled. What a coincidence, for I knew that was her name. In the brief conversation I had with Eamonn outside the hotel he told me that she was an artist, his wife, Andrea.
Being of a deeply superstitious nature, I place huge significance in coincidences. They are signs from the forces that control our lives. They cannot be ignored. So from the beginning I knew that I was in for a turbulent time of it and indeed shortly after our relationship began I was out walking when I came upon her in her little red Nissan in a car park and she was crying like the rain.
I tapped on the window. I said; open the door Andrea. Open up. Whatís the matter with you? She looked out at me through tear-filled eyes, and if thereís anything worse, she looked at me, tears sliding down her cheeks. Open the door. Open the window, Andrea, please. Whatís the matter? Did he hit you? She didnít open the door or the window. She turned the key in the ignition and I had to step aside or she would have driven over my foot. It was the same day I walked out onto the pier to see the school of dolphins that had come up the harbour and I tripped over a fishermanís bag and almost fell into the tide. The boys on the pier laughed heartily. Langer, they said. I was so distracted you see, by the incident with Andrea and as usual I had no way of contacting her. I didnít have her number or address, I never had them. We met on her conditions and always only to talk though there was that one time when things nearly got out of hand. It happened in my house. I was rattling on about nihilism and solipsism as usual. Normally she found that kind of stuff interesting or at least funny but that day she said that I drive her mad whenever I refer to any of that shit, the attic dweller, the cellar man. Sheíd rather do a striptease for me than listen to that crap she said. Ok so I said, start off, open your blouse, slide out of your skirt and she began, Jesus I said, stop, I was only joking, if Eamonn finds out heíd kill you and Iíd have to kill him, canít we just keep things as they are, canít we just be friends. It was one of those moments when you sense that the clock has stopped, the salt is stuck in the timer, the fan belts are paused, the planet has momentarily ceased its beautifully lubricated motion through space, Andrea standing with a finger and thumb on the top button of her blouse, Andy with his eyes pinned to her finger and thumb. Iím not a very righteous kind of person. I donít live by any strict code of ethics despite all the old talk, my head is in a cloud of smoke and Iíll laugh as much as Roddy Melchick at the idea of Platonic love. Platonic, said he to the boys at the bar, I know sure, with a grand pelvic thrust in the direction of the barmaid. However, that day as the world hit pause, Andrea ready for action, I said, Jesus, stop, I was only joking, canít we just be friends? And with that I imagined all the machines of Father Time cranking back into motion, imagined, because of course they never stopped in the first place and if they did our little interstellar ball would explode like an atom bomb and weíd all fall off.
That was two months after I was first introduced to her. It was in a gallery on Lavittís Quay. It was the opening of her first exhibition, twelve paintings. Eamonn invited me, maybe he felt guilty about the way heíd brushed me aside when I was door porter at the Marlborough Hotel. Come along to see Andreaís paintings, he said, thereíll be a few bottles of wine. He introduced me to her thus; this is Andy, heís a poet but heíll never sell out. Heís a poet of the silence. Heís an attic poet or a cellar poet, take your pick. The cynical Eamonn swaggered off with his glass of wine swilling around in his hand. Left with her that first time, I became a stammering fool. Her beauty was almost painful to me, no, there are no two ways about it, her beauty was painful to me. I couldnít let my feelings be known and yet it must have been as clear as rain and instantly I felt that she knew what effect she had on me. She didnít ask me anything about myself that first time. In fact she said nothing at all. She stood there smiling radiantly. It might have been a minute. It might have been an hour. Nothing was said. She said nothing and I could not talk.
When I got home I saw her face for just a moment, that smile which was the first thing to bring me out of myself since Deanís death, at least thatís what I thought. I flung my coat over my head and closed my eyes as tight as I could so that everything else but her face would be blotted out.
I vividly recall the first few times we met after that like a day in Kellyís Lancaster Quay, she wore her hair tied back, shiny dark with tints of red. Her eyes seemed dark green in the light thrown in from the river. She smiled. That smile had the effect of an exotic spider spray on me. Not a nice allusion I know. You see she had this awful numbing effect upon me. She asked me a question about Goya and I rushed some kind of vague answer that had her in stitches.
Looking back on it now I realise that it was a situation I could have done without and you know there were days when I wanted to drive right out of the world, feeling intensely weakened by a north-westerly. She had me addled, appearing and disappearing, one day all smiles and talk, the next, not a word, silence and absence. Why donít you give me your number, I asked? Your address? She would not even answer, no doubt to keep my head spinning like that diamond balanced on the blade of grass.
And her striptease stopped, her finger on the second button of her blouse and we began to look at the pictures of Hurricane Andrea on the television. I just couldnít believe the way those houses had been blown across the road into a field and cars like ants lifted up into the air and smashed against bridges and uprooted trees.
I asked her did Eamonn know that she was meeting me like this. Again my question was met with silence but there was no doubt that the answer was negative. Eamonn did not know that she would call me up occasionally and that we met and talked for hours. Sometimes she drove down to my house like that day. She rarely spoke about her paintings but I noticed how she observed certain minor details that captured her imagination to the point of cutting her attention off from everything else. For example that day she did not share my fascination with the pictures of the hurricane but became intrigued instead by a one-legged crow that hopped across the windowsill with a painful caw. She stood by the window staring at the crow. Iíve since seen that crow popping up in the most unexpected positions in numerous paintings of hers.