Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Love Me Tender

It was a hot August evening on Long Island; the big green convertible was speeding
along; powerfully propelled by its new 303 cubic inch V8 engine.

Slumped drunkenly in the back, Edith was drinking in the night air trying to sober up a little; that damn rummy, who was driving the Rocket 88, had been buying drinks at ol’Moe’s all night for Edith and her best friend Ruth, who had been having a very public affair with the rummy artist for the past six months or so.

Ruth was up front with one hand on the windscreen and the other inside Jackson’s pants and a whisper in his ear. “ do you love me Jackson?” The ‘Old’s engine lost a few hundred revs as the artist, surprised by the question and not a little drunk eased off the throttle. He seemed to consider the question and weigh up the possible consequences of his answer; why lie? “ah guess not” he confessed, he did not love his wife, his drinking buddies, his patrons he especially did not love his critics and regarded his audience with contempt, he realised that he probably no longer loved to paint.

Ruth took her hand out of Jackson’s flies and slapped the radio on, Elvis crooned out.
“Fuck you Jackson” she slurred. He didn’t care about Ruth but the realisation that his love affair with paint was over filled him with a deep sadness and with that realisation he did not notice their speed increasing or the bend at the end of the straight, or, until it was just too late the tree that would stop them dead.

Margaret shaved off a thick piece of yellow cheese and laid it on the slice of coarse bread cut from the loaf that her sister had baked the previous afternoon. She carefully wrapped the sandwich in some brown paper from the kitchen drawer and she put this with an apple and a bottle of water and her paint brushes and paper into the grey canvass pack and left the crib.

She climbed steadily for an hour through the wakening bush the air still cool in front of the heat of the day. She came to the side track and pressed on into an unknown part of the range. She was hot now and took off her coarse woollen jumper and tied it around her waist. The bush was now fully formed in sunlight and alive with the sound of cicadas.

The track was seldom walked and overgrown, it was steep and slow going. Margaret noticed that her socks were coated in long fine hooked seeds, sweat stung her eyes and she was panting like an old dog. At the top of the steep section of track she was brought to a halt by a vertical basalt outcrop. She could see the nature of the stone allowed for an easy ascent, almost a ladder, so she decided to go on.

Margaret reached the top in a few minutes but an overhang made the summit difficult. She reached up and blindly searched for a handhold, a jolt of panic ran through her body as she started to fall backwards. She was hanging; her hand had found a thick tree root that she gripped fiercely and with considerable effort she dragged herself up and lay face down for a time. She considered her stupidity and her mortality and, with a laugh, her achievement at getting there.
The root that had saved her belonged to and old Rata tree an ancient, tortured and stunted specimen but in full scarlet bloom and the view out from under the cool shade of the tree was far and eased to shades of violet. She saw a razor back ridge curving down to the cove where the crib hid, allowing an easy and obvious way home.

Margaret took out her paper and started to carefully sketch the scene and she decided to eat her sandwich after she had laid down her first wash of paint.

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