SILHOUETTES - Twenty-seventh instalment - Chapter forty-seven. For more information on this novel, click Here.
Mr Mike Marshall, the head of Clements Primary school he had attended back in Dumfries, had drummed the verse of Tennyson into him, so much so, that his mouth had been washed out with soap on more than a few occasions when he had gotten the words wrong in a recital.
'The words are important,' he would cry, 'the words are the message.'
An eleven year old hadn't a clue what the teacher meant by this, the words were a jumble of old language about times of the past that he knew nothing about. Still, he had been forced to learn, and learn he did, for the one phrase that always seemed to make sense to him was,
'Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.'
So, most of the time at school, Mr Marshall was happy, his parents were happy, especially when he quoted Tennyson to them. It was as if his mother was especially overjoyed, she loved poetry, and Tennyson was one of her favourite poets. She would have him stand upright, back straight, in the middle of the room, when visitors came, and glow with pride as he, by rote, recited a poem of Tennyson she chose at random. His father, he thought, preferred Burns.
It was a late summer afternoon when he had been walking, he had just turned twelve, he was a bit of a loner and tended not to play at football or mix with the other kids in the neighbourhood after school. It was around six in the evening when he returned home, Mr Marshall's car was parked in the street just up from his house, and he thought maybe he was doing one of his occasional visits to Sandra McKinstry's home, as he had noticed before had been the case. His father and mother exchanged glances, of unknown meaning to him, when such occasions as this were brought up in conversation. Now twelve, and beginning to understand gossip and the reasons for it, he now knew these were not home visits to discuss the education of Sandra, and give her advice and her parents guidance, to improve their daughter's prospects in the manner of her studies at school. These home visits were when Sandra's father was away from home, and Sandra was dispatched off to visit her grandmother. Sandra's father was a sailor and was often away from home. He had always assumed Sandra was a bit backward, when in reality she was one of the cleverest kids in the class at school. Her mother was also one of the prettiest parents.
These thoughts going through his head was perhaps the reason he snuck surreptitiously into the house, rather than crash through the front door announcing his entry to all indoors, as was usual. His father was also gone from home, at some kind of conference related to his work for a few days. His mother was not downstairs, and as he heard a quiet thud, and a sense of movement from his parents room upstairs, a new kind of dread came over him, and he began to understand exactly how Sandra felt when teased by the other kids, out of earshot of Marshall of course, about how her Uncle Mickey was?
He crept quietly up the stairs, though there was no need, the sounds of activity coming from his parents room covered well any sound of his approach. When he got to the top of the stairs, fear of the truth almost made him turn and run, but he stepped forward till just outside the door of his parent's bedroom.
He had determined himself to keep both hands in his pockets and steel them there. Without volition, though, his right hand reached over and turned the door knob, and pushed in the door. It was done so quietly that nothing was sensed within, and the action continued for what seemed like an eternity.
His mother was bent over the end of the bed, braced by several pillows, her skirt was thrown over her back, her knickers were at her feet, one leg still through them. Mr Marshall was sweating behind her.
'Ah, Mickey,' crooned his mother, 'hurry, hurry!'
Simon watched fascinated, then kicked the door. His mother looked round then. Mr Marshall looked round then. Simon turned and fled down the stairs and out of the house. The sight of Mr Marshall, with his pants and trousers at his ankles, his shirt fluffed up around him, and an aghast look on his face, haunted him all that evening.
'Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
'I understand you know,' said Tennyson. 'It wasn't your fault.'
Tennyson was leaning over him, a bundle of cardboard under one arm, he gathered more from the area about his feet and threw it over the edge into the skip.
'Time to move on, mate,' said Tennyson, a lilt of impatience.
Tennyson changed into a street sweeper, almost imperceptibly. He rose from the side of the skip and brushed himself down, checked his backpack, then began to walk away. The street sweeper was whistling as he folded bits of board and threw them over the lip into the skip. It was three o'clock now.
He walked a good bit up the alley then realised it was a dead-end. It was taking him nowhere, and he also realised that he could no longer just walk around the town as though he didn't have a care in the world. He was a wanted man now, the authorities were after him, his picture was on TV and in the newspapers. He had no option but to move to another area, but he couldn't do that without carrying out his orders. He reversed direction and strode back the way he came, past the whistling council employee, and with a tinge of dread, and yet an anticipation of excitement, he turned onto the main street and began walking up the hill. When he was adjacent to the office building where Dave Stuart was employed, he crossed over when the traffic cleared enough for him to do so. As he walked up the few steps to the double glass doors of the entrance to the building, he decided that this was the best way, why drag it out any longer. He pulled at the handle to the doors and found they were locked.
Next instalment coming soon...
To read this novel from the start go here.
Copyright © Stevie Mach 2013 All rights reserved