Tom’s Last Wish.

Tom, sobbing, and bloody-nosed, reached into the cardboard box and with frail trembling hands, he lifted the Gull. He cradled Turlok to his chest, rocking him as a mother would her baby.
“Shh, you’ll be ok little Pal.” Sniffed tom, as he gently stroked the gull’s crimson-stained feathers.

Meanwhile, back in outer space: “Sir! Lieutenant Turlok needs help, his alarm is beeping.” Reported 1st mate Zonger.
“Then get our best team down there and help him out.” Replied Commander Zorg, without turning from the communication screen. He had witnessed everything on the Gullcam.

“Tom – make your wish, I’ll put things right here.” Said LT Trillion, leader of the landing party.
After gently kissing the bird on its head, Tom placed it back in the box. As soon as he released his hold on the injured Turlok, the words flooded into his head. I wish to be in between. A second time, much louder, demanding, I wish to be in between.

Tom sat on the grassy bank of the stream, his legs bent bringing his knees up to his chest. The crystal clear water babbled an endless melody. From the leafy trees, warblers sang. High in the blue of Summer, a Raptor stooped, roller coasting for all to see. Tom threw a small twig upstream, then watched it bob past in front of him, it reminded him of a ship on a stormy sea. It disappeared, out of sight.
He looked at his hands; they were clean, youthful and strong. Tom was no longer 68, but 28. He realized someone was approaching from behind him. He turned his head, the bright Sunlight made him raise a hand to shield his eyes. It’s a girl, he told himself. He watched as she picked her way across the Summer filled meadow. Her frock disturbed Dandelion clocks and sent Bees buzzing as if annoyed by the disturbance. Beauty radiated from the young woman. It’s Ethel! He stood and quickly brushed his hands over his trousers, then beckoned her toward him. They greeted each other with a warm smile followed by a tender hug, then they sat, side by side on the grassy bank. Ethel linked an arm through Tom’s, then smiling, she tilted her head to rest it on his shoulder. Tom then tilted his head and gently rested it against Ethel’s. With each other’s scent filling their nostrils and the aquatic melody of the stream filling their ears they both closed their eyes.

“Right, that should do, for now, I want him checked every hour, call me as soon as there’s any change.” Said Doctor Larus, spinning to face the door, then swiftly exiting without a response.
“Do you think he’ll make it?” Asked a concerned voice. It was yuura, Turlok’s wife.
“He will.” Answered the duty medic confidently.

Tom Meets Tulok.

“Bye love, keep wrapped up, it’s still chilly in that wind.” Shouted Ethel after her Husband as he left the house.
“I will sweetheart, don’t you fret.” The late April sunshine made Tom squint, but, as his wife had said: it’s still chilly. So off he set towards their Nest Egg, at a brisk as possible pace.
The Ice-cream kiosk had been his idea, he’d sold the dream to Ethel no problem; we’ll make a fortune, rake it in we will, all I’ve got to do is sell ice cream to snotty nosed kids. His every word swam around inside his worried head: Like heck, we will, if this season doesn’t come up trumps we’re finished, good and proper. He thought.

The first two seasons had been flops, unkind weather and the out of the way location of the kiosk had seen to that. Rhyl was a tough place to make a living at the best of times.
This year WILL be better, I’ll make sure of that. Said Tom’s inner voice with conviction. With renewed vigor, Tom straightened up and picked up the pace, he kicked an empty Coke can that rattled along the pavement, just missing a scrawny Pigeon that searched for food scraps, causing it to hop into the gutter.
First Day of the bloody season and look at it, pathetic hole, even the Gulls look as if they’ve had their fill of the place. Still, it’s early yet, plenty of time for things to pick up.

Morning Tom.” Came the voice from across the street. It was Herbert who owned The Golden Goose souvenir shop, he had just finished putting out his pavement display of kiss me quick hats and shrimp nets. Tom assessed the traffic, picked his moment, and quick-stepped between two slowly moving cars. Safely across he approached the portly figure of Herbert.
“Hello, Herbert, ready for it?”
“Ready as I’ll ever be Tom. I say, did you see that bolt of lightning last night? Lit the entire seafront up it did, and the weird thing is, there was no storm.”
“Saw nothing of it mate, Ethel went to bed early, so I indulged in a few nips of the old Heathen Fire Water, that was me zonked until six this morning. Look, I’ve got to dash, those ice creams won’t sell themselves, more’s the pity.”
“Okey-doke Tom, I hope your day goes well, see you later.”
Herbert watched Tom until he lost sight of him, on the now busier promenade, before he himself disappeared into his shop.

The sea breeze helped thin the dark cloud of depression that hung over Tom’s head, the cry of Herring Gulls coupled with the smell of tourism, cheered him up. This would be the year that saved the bacon. He hummed a tune: zipperdy doo dah…

Earlier that morning while most people slept, a large spacecraft came into Earth’s orbit.
“I don’t care who you send, just get someone down there.” Thundered Commander Zorg of the imperial fleet.
“He’s on his way as we speak Sir, we’ve sent Lieutenant Tulok, he’s chosen to go disguised as a Seagull.” Reported 1st Mate Zonger.
In a bright, violent flash, they transported LT Tulok to earth.
“Right, hold a steady orbit until we hear it’s safe to go in. Keep us cloaked and on RED ALERT.” Ordered Commander Zorg.

Tom’s cinder block kiosk was now in sight, only another 100 yards away. It’s like a prison cell, thought Tom. Even if I charged Ten Quid for a lolly, I wouldn’t make enough to make ends meet. I wish I’d never laid eyes on it.

But this morning there was something different about the place, the hairs on his neck stood up, there was something on the floor in front of the shuttered serving hatch. My God… My God, it’s a Seagull. Tom hurried the last few yards then knelt beside the injured bird. “C’mon little pal, let’s get you inside.” Said Tom soothingly as he picked up the cold, limp body of Turlok. Once inside, Tom busied himself preparing a box for his unexpected guest.
“There there, you’ll be warm and safe in here.” Said, Tom, as he placed the Gull into a nest of fluffy tea towels. Continue reading “Tom Meets Tulok.”

The Christmas Wish.

Little Emily stood in the large bay of the living room window staring out at the Stars that twinkled in the clear Sky.
A snowfall earlier that afternoon had refreshed the white blanket that covered the gardens, and now Jack Frost ran around waving his Wand making the ground glisten and sparkle.
Dark shapes shuffled along the pavement, some tipping their hats in silent greeting, cautious of slipping. The hollow bark of a Dog sounded through the dark still evening. A sleigh drawn by two Horses black as coal drove through the cone of light under the Gas Lamp.

The log on the open fire crackled sending orange sparks dancing up the chimney. Emily could feel its warmth on her back and see its glowing image waving to her in the window.
She could also see the reflection of the Christmas Tree, its branches draped with golden beads, and hung with glass baubles that returned the fire’s glow. Chocolates and candy stripped walking sticks for the Children, were fastened to the green-needled branches with red ribbon.

It was Christmas Eve, but why was Emily so sad?
She was sad because only three months earlier, her twin Sister Judith had died of Polio. Her beloved Grandparents had also passed away that Summer, leaving a massive hole in Emily’s heart. She missed them all so much. Even now on the threshold of Christmas Day, as she stared up at the Stars, she wept. A teardrop escaped and ran down her cheek, leaving a watery trail for the next one to follow. 

Emily stared at the silver slither Moon, her lips quivering with emotion, more tears, silent tears, escaped.

Suddenly! A Shooting Star crossed the inky Heavens slashing the black canvas like a sharpened blade.
Make a wish – make a wish! Thought Emily.
Speaking out loud Emily made her wish. “I wish Judith and my Grand Parents were here with me.”

A shriek of child’s laughter pierced the air, causing Emily to spin round so fast that her pigtails whipped her ears. Her eyes widened and her mouth fell open in disbelief…

There on the burgundy Chesterfield was Gran and Grandad and squeezed between them squirmed little Judith, trying to escape Grandad’s tickling. The room was filled with the sound of playful laughter.

Beaming with joy, Emily ran and threw herself enthusiastically at her beloved Kin wrapping her arms around them. She sobbed tears of happiness into Grandpa’s jumper. He smelt so good. They were all good! The emotions could be held back no more, the four hugged each other tightly, laughing and crying together.

The living room door was flung open with such force that the large brass handle thudded against the wall. Shocked, Emily lifted her face from Grandpa’s jumper and peered over his shoulder… it was Mommy. She hurried into the room, her right hand holding her long dress so that she didn’t trip over it. She rushed past the sofa without so much as glancing at it, and went straight to the bay window, where she fell wailing beside the body of a young girl. Holding the girl’s head to her bosom, she rocked back and forth crying.
Emily’s expression changed to one of shocked concern. Her little hands tightened on Grandad’s jumper and she tugged.
“Grandad, who’s that little girl Mommy’s holding?” Emily enquired.
Grandad’s kind eyes peered over the thin-framed gold spectacles and met Emily’s panicky stare.
“Why that’s you, of course, Princess. – you’re dead!”

Childhood Disaster.

On the 21st October 1966 the Village of Aberfan – South Wales, appeared on the television screen in front of me. 

I was seven years old at the time, two, maybe three years younger than the 116 Children that were taken on that Day.

I wasn’t watching the News purposely, I was sitting ready to watch Andy Pandy, Bill and Ben the flowerpot men or the Wooden Tops.
Our Television was old… black and white only, but adequate to display the images of that fateful Day. Those tragic images were burned into my memory, like a Cowboy using a branding iron.
Until that Day, I had only experienced emotions of love,  kindness, maybe a glimpse of frustration every now and again, but suddenly…only feet from my face: images of tearful Mothers, their eyes wide and wet as they watched Men dig with their bare hands in sheer desperation to find and save their Children.

I wasn’t traumatized by the events of that Day, nor did I cry, but the memory of Aberfan and its lost Children was to stay with me through the years. So much so that last week I had to visit them in their resting place. I’m so glad that I did.

High on the western slope of the Taff Valley above the village of Aberfan, overlooking as if keeping guard of their childhood playground is the resting place of those innocent Souls that lost their lives all those years ago.
The white marble bright as a bonfire burning at night projects its presence along the entire valley making a clear statement: WE ARE HERE!  

I passed through the Cemetary Gates onto an uneven path bordered by large Caledonian Pines, their needles unswept for a long time littered the floor, crooked Headstones covered in lichens, and green with age produced an image of secluded neglect. 
I slowly gazed the steep cemetery and at the very top of the slope, there they were!

The uneven gritty path, broken and crumbling in places was steep, so steep in fact my Electic Wheelchair was struggling for power, I even had to reverse up at times to prevent myself from tipping over backward. Determined to get closer to the Kids I pushed on, literally.

Apart from my Brother John and myself, the Cemetary was deserted. The only noise that of Jackdaws calling from the Village below. Our progress was surely watched by unseen eyes.

I slowly maneuvered my wheelchair along the row of graves, reading the heart touching tributes placed by grieving parents as I went. Short, simple verses that ripped the heart of the reader wide open.
After reading the last verse I turned to look back at the white  row of arched headstones. Now those children of Aberfan, that for so long had been in my mind had names and faces.   

As I sat amongst those graves on that hillside, was it the chilly breeze that moistened my eye?

“Da Boch Chi”.

Pain of Separation

The 60’s were still swinging, the Vietnam War dominated the headlines, and Bugs Bruton had to start School.
How I cried on that first day of separation from Mom.
She ushered me through the large double railing gates, into the noisy mayhem of the playground, then, after a few brief words of reassurance, she turned and started to walk away. My attempt to follow her was halted by a set of towering green railings. Sobbing and sniffling, with my head hung low, I followed their length, stroking the green bars with the fingertips of my right hand as if to reach out for Mom’s hand. Mom was now walking on the on the opposite side of the road, the few yards between us may as well have been a few miles.
Just when I thought things could get no worse, that morning from Hell delivered the coup de grâce.
Mom turned right onto Pinfold Lane and she was blocked from my view by the hedgerow that separated the footpath from Mr. Plant’s garden; and the railings that I was following turned sharp left.
Wide-eyed and panic-stricken, I grabbed hold of the railings and pressed my face against the bars, as if trying to squeeze through the gap, and yelled in a hysterical voice “MOM!”
My knuckles were white, tears ran down my face, the cold iron railings cut off the circulation in my cheeks, making them look pale and sickly, bubbles blew and burst from my nostrils. “MOM!”
She came back and made everything good. Bless her.
This traumatic experience could only have lasted a few minutes, but the memory of it has lasted a lifetime, a wonderful lifetime.

Chalk ‘n’ Cheese.

Newly built, my new home on Pinfold Lane, Cheslyn- Hay, was in a dream location. From my bedroom window – yes, a room of my own, with a built-in wardrobe –  I could view my new World. Gone were the Days of living on the Village High Street, where I used to observe the daily passage of time through the condensation soaked glass. I would see  Women, a shopping bag over one arm, and a head scarf, knotted under the chin to hold it on, heading to Edwards’, the Grocers shop. Men, wearing long thick overcoats and flat caps, heading to the Red Lion.
Greetings were always exchanged as people passed each other, even to folk across the street, and the chirpy pleasantries, quietened and muffled by the wafer thin glass of the window reached into my space.
On one occasion, whilst stuck indoors, I must have been ill or something, I counted three cars, and the number 17 Bus twice.
The 17’s engine, belching out clouds of black smoke, vibrated the windows. The deep, sudden sound would send Mice scurrying under the skirting boards for cover. That always made me laugh, because they couldn’t get any traction on the Lino, causing them to run on the spot, or skid past the hole.
Now, the simple print pattern curtains that hung on a wire in front of my bedroom window, were thrown open to reveal a new World; a World that infiltrated the daydreams of my subconscious childhood mind, asking questions and demanded answers of me, always luring and tempting me with offers of excitement and adventure.
A row of grey slabs, that divided the garden unequally into two halves, led from the front door porch area to a small metal gate. (We were always shouted at for swinging on the gate).
This gate, although I didn’t realise it at the time, was a key feature. To me, back then, its only purpose was to test how high Butch, my Dog, could jump.
Left or right. If the choice was mine, after the gate, I’d go left. Only four houses away was the cinder track that led to weed covered pools, with Moorhens, Mallards and Coots dabbling and pecking for food, and a haunted wood, with paths that turned and twisted through its middle.
A canal, straight as a dye, but no longer in use,  cut through the landscape, its once sharp edges  softened by an overgrowth of Willow and Hawthorn.
The cut, as we called it, was an adventure playground, created by nature reclaiming what the coal industry had stolen from it.
To turn right at the garden gate meant one of several things: School, running errands or joining Mom on the daily tour of the village shops and family.
Left or right – chalk’n’cheese.

The Marl-hole.

How deep is it? It is rumoured that a workman’s hut, telegraph pole and even an old yellow Bulldozer lay hidden in its murky depth. We certainly didn’t know, nor did we care.
Stories of monster Fish, that waited hidden in lairs for a meal to pass by, Animals, drawn by thirst to the water’s edge, soon found themselves stuck in the squelching, sucking clay, death soon followed.
The spirit of childhood adventure erased the thought of such stories from our minds.
On a hot Summer’s Day the cool water of the Marl-hole beckoned. It was a magnet, and us Kids, oblivious to its hidden dangers, were powerless to resist its pull.
After a long  Day in the classroom, we would race home, skipping and hollowing with joy, free at last. Yippee! Yahoo!
Once Home, we would hurriedly change out of our School clothes into our scruffs. Ignoring warnings from our Mothers, we’d race out of the door back into the unsupervised outdoors.
With Skylarks rising in song above the golden wheat, across the fields we’d go.
The excitement evident in our voices.
” I wonder if any big Boys are there.” Said Picnic.
” Hope not, and if those fishermen are there, we’ll just stone their floats.” Proclaimed Bomma.
Yeah! Or torch the Gorse.” Agreed Picnic.
The Marl-hole was deserted, the only sound was that of a singing Yellow-hammer and the buzz of Summer Insects.

Excitedly we ran to our chosen place on the bank, stripped to our undies and one after the other we dived in.
Picnic first. Splash! He surfaced, shook his head, and in a gasping voice egged us on to follow.
Bomma followed. A better dive. He disappeared into the clay coloured water, gone.
We scanned the still surface in silence, expecting Bomma to explode from the depths back into our World.

He didn’t.

Was it one of those monster Fish, or was it a coil of rusty Wire-rope that held him under?

The Yellow-hammer sang and the Insects buzzed, a menacing smile rippled the Marl-hole’s surface.

Holding on.

It is now October, and winter is on the doorstep. We cannot delay or halt its progress, time waits for no man. We can only prepare for the shorter days and long cold nights. The jigsaw of summer past has been completed, and is now, piece by piece, being dismantled. The Swallows have departed, only their old nests and the memory of their presence remain. Young Robins are now moulted into adult plumage, they sing their winter song each morning at the first sign of sunlight. Summer is a time of plenty, a time of beauty. I suppose, lots of other reasons make it everyone else’s favorite too. Sun-glasses and G&T aside, there have been a few mini-disasters, like the daily attacks of the Sparrow Hawk on the feeding station, the lightning fast strikes made by the Hobby, causing alarm and despondency amongst the Swallow community, the Heron deploying its stealth tactics, and picking off the ducklings one by one as they swam past his place of ambush. Then there was the Swallow nest containing four chicks. As the youngsters grew and gained weight, the mud nest fell from the wall, all four birds were lost. Summer is not all about ooh’s and aah’s, it is as violent and aggressive as any other season of year. Already, Siskins, (soon to be joined by Scandinavian Thrushes) have arrived in the garden. Fallen leaves have turned the lawns into golden tapestries. Such beauty. Each season has its own merits, and wonderment can be found in each one. This seasonal transition as been going on for millennia, and will hopefully continue to do so. Now is the time to plan and prepare next year’s jigsaw. As I trim hedges, remove dead plants, and generally tidy the place up, I leave any remnant of summer past, such as the last Rose blooms or the Surfinias in the hanging baskets alone. Maybe I’m trying to hold onto Summer. It is said that the more you hold onto a something, the harder it is to let it go. I like to think that I’m in control of things outside in the garden, but it is nature that will make the final decision, and take Summer away. 20171211_10343520180625_144534

The Crimson Mask

Mornings were always a hectic flap for Rachel, preparing herself for another day in the City, and more so seeing to the needs of Steven, her fifteen year old son, who was presently sat on the sofa wearing only his boxers and a faded T-shirt, playing Call Of Duty.
Rachel was multi-tasking big style as usual stirring coffee, pouring milk on Steve’s cereal and taking small crunchy nibbles from her slice of toast, as she attempted to maintain and keep to her schedule.
The sound of the Eight o’clock pips coincided with the crunch of glass that came from under her new, slightly tight and uncomfortable shoes.
Startled, she dropped her triangle of toast, it seemed to bounce in slow motion before settling butter side down on the trendy cushion floor.
“Aaaaarrrghhhh.” She screamed, as she flinched with shock. “STEVEN! STEVEN! Get in here and clean this mess up. NOW!”
What’s she harping on about now-“comming comming, keep your hair on.”
Steven fired one last burst of rounds, then tossed the control pad to one side before springing up. He sidestepped the Coffee Table, done a long stride over the Poof and made his way to the Kitchen, where his Mom waited with the Brush-pan at the ready.
The sight of his broken and shattered Vivarium stopped him in his tracks.
“OMG! What-how did you manage to break that?”
“I didn’t break anything! I just want you to clean it up before someone cuts themselves.”
Steven took the dustpan and brush from his Mom, and with a huff he started to sweep up the broken glass. He stopped, bent down, and between his thumb and finger he picked up an empty chrysalis case. After staring at it in disbelief, he held it out towards his Mom.
“They’ve hatched, MOM they’ve hatched!”
“What’s hatched?”
The Kitchen’s bright studio light flickered, both Mother and Son looked up.
“Those!” Declared Steven, pointing nervously with the short-handled brush.
Around the light swarmed at least one hundred crimson red moths, each one the size of a one pound coin. Not once did they collide with each other as they bounced around the bright LED light.
Rachel swallowed hard, then shrank back until she met the black granite work surface, where she stopped and used her splayed arms and hands to steady herself. Steven however stepped forward a pace, and extended his arm that carried the brush towards the now obviously annoyed Moths.
Rachel screamed long and loud as the Moths, as if remote-controlled or reacting to a command launched themselves at Steven’s head. In the blink of an eye, the swarm had covered his face with their flapping, crawling crimson bodies.
He coughed and choked as he crumbled to the floor, his attempts to remove his assailants grew weak and feeble from suffocation. The last two things he saw before his life was extinguished were Rachel’s shoes and a half eaten triangle of toast.
Rachel shrieked as she looked down at her now lifeless Son, and realised it was her turn to wear the crimson mask. “Nooooooo!”


Happy Day.

May Day – there’s no turning back day – let’s roll!

Swallows, now numbering six, swoop and playfully chase each other around the Stables, their chattering and twittering the language of Summer. At break-neck speed, and with only inches separating their glossy blue plumage, like young playful Children, oblivious to consequence and full of the desire to show-off, they perform their amazing Ariel display. Is this natural delight pleasing to the observer, you bet it is! But you are not watching a show layed on solely for your benefit, no, you are watching two birds demonstrating their ability to warn of the danger, and possibly out-fly their Nemesis, that has shadowed them on their journey north, across the blistering hot sands of the Sahara Desert, and past the waiting talons of Eleanora Falcons. The lightning fast, sickle winged Hobby.

Of course, many more forthcoming attractions of Summer will find their way onto your canvas of contentment: the chink of bumping ice cubes as you sip your cooling drink. A passing Butterfly, that causes you to daydream as you watch it flutter from bloom to bloom. The list of possibilities is enjoyably varied, enjoy the moments you choose for your spiritual canvas, enjoy your Summer.
This this little chap, was my May Day treat. Spotted by my dearly beloved, Jack. 
Happy May Day.

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