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The day I (didn’t) meet Talx – Part Three

It’s All Done with Mirrors You Know?

I’m running again, stumbling, struggling and shouting – he doesn’t stop… head down he trudges over a ridge of gravel that stretches in front of us and takes him out of sight.  A fence runs along the base of the ridge – a fence adorned with a variety of no entry signs – KEEP OUT – DANGER – WATERBOARD PROPERTY – there’s a gap in it and I slip through… before me I see the wall is on an island – its about 50 long – 20 feet high and slightly curved… there’s a lake of fresh water around it… next to it – on the island stand two dishes… weather beaten concrete dishes about 30 feet in height – pointing out towards the sea… there is no explanation why they should be there…

These I know now are the acoustic mirrors of Dungeness – somehas put  a photo of them up on Pool.  It turns out that they’re a set of abandoned surveillance devices… post world war I – pre radar – set up and run for a few years to track incoming aircraft – great concrete dishes facing the empty skies – scooping out the sounds of the atmosphere and giving the listener just a few precious moments of warning.  Essential at one time for the protection of the nation but rapidly rendered redundant and now left here,  at the back of a housing estate, weathered and weed strewn – still facing the skies –  but now… now no one is listening…
mirror
Barney is crouching by bushes at the edge of the lake, I can see him, he’s half a mile away now – from a hiding place he pulls out a little round coracle boat that almost sinks beneath the water level when he steps into it… he lifts a paddle and begins scooping at the water – slowly drifting towards the islands and the mirrors…

CORNELIUS:  Barney!  Barney… stop!

I run down the bank of gravel – he must be able to hear me…

CORNELIUS:  Barney!  You get great fat f-

And all the air is blasted out of me and I’m flying and the world is tumbling and then it stops and a crash to the ground.  Someone or something has run into me at full pelt… throwing me… and they are now pinning me to the ground – my legs kicking in the air like an tipped beetle.  I look up and leering in my face is a gap toothed grin framed by long grey greasy hair.

DUDLEY:  You’ve got him Mr Hooklam – you’ve got him there you have…

HOOKLAM:  Oh I’ve got him Mr Dudley… stuck up loike a kipper he is!

DUDLEY:  Don’t let him go… I want to see him up close.

And micro quiff pushes into my field of vision and a hand reaches down and the end of my nose is grasped between two knuckles and is then pulled out and I shreak and Dudley chuckles.

Dudley:  Don’t like that Mr Hooklam doesn’t?  Don’t loike that won little bit.

Hooklam:  I’m not surprised Mr Dudley… not surprised oi think he knows he’s in a touch of a bit of a spot of bother!

Dudley:  Oh that he is… aren’t you Mr Cornelius?  In a bit of toight spawt.

There are knees on my chest and I can hardly breath – my head throbs and spins – my arms pinned down and aching…

Hooklam:  Out the way there Mr Dudley…

Greasy hair is now pushing his face into mine – his breath is acidic and sharp… his teeth yellow stained with brown patches of nicotine.  He leans in close until his lips are almost touching mine.

Dudley:  Give him the treatment Mr Hooklam.

Hooklam (whispered):  Oh don’t you worry oi will Mr Dudley… now you sir, you sir have to learn to leave-well-enough-alone.

Dudley:  Don’t be going prying.

Hooklam:  And sticking your nose in where it don’t belong…

Dudley:  Or you’ll get what is coming to you.

Hooklam mouths is pulling back, I can see his cracked lips above my eyes and to my horror a bead of spittle appears between his lips – holding to them – only just…

Dudley:  Give him the treatment Mr Hooklam… teach him a lesson.

And Hooklam pulls his head back slowly… the foul streak of spittle now extending from his lips… it hovers above my face attached to a cord of drool one, two, three inches long.

Dudley:  You stay away from here if you know what is good for you… you stay away from Barney… you leave him to his business…

I twist my head from side to side gasping but the spittle stays just above me – almost – nearly dropping into my face.

Dudley (laughing):  You stay away now…

Cornelius:  No no… ah no.

And then… it falls… impacting on the bridge of my nose, running in my eyes but I don’t have time to react to know the horror of the moment – because an instant later.

<sound of impact>

Dudley:  Have at him you bugger!

Hookley’s forehead smashes into my face and my blood gouts in a soft arc and they erupt into a whirlwind of West Country violence and blows and swearing until I’m left coughing bruised and broken lying on my side.

Hookley:  Ah that was a good one weren’t it Mr Dudley?

Dudley:  Oh it was Mr Hookley- oh yes it was sir.

Hookley:  Oi think he learned his lesson there.

Dudley:  Mr Barney won’t be getting no more trouble from the like of him.  We’re here to protect his interests sir, we’re here to make sure he is left well enough alone.

Hookley:  And in case your thinking otherwise sir…

And he leans down and put a flat metal square into my jacket pocket…

Hookley:  Here’s something for you to stew on.

With a final desultory kick they leave me… gasping and whimpering… as the sun slowly sets across the mirrors and I slide out of consciousness…

Epilogue

nano
I wake and I have a view of Barney’s trainer from the floor… we’re in Eddie’s shack and Travis is standing over me, looking down on me intently.  I can see he’s bruised but nothing compared to the lumpen mess I’ve been reduced to… he bathes my cuts and then lets me lie down. Head resting back, sleeping bag pulled to my chin… I reach down and feel for the metal square in my jacket.  The one Hookley gave me… it’s an iPod.  An old one.  I pull the ear buds from my Edirol and jack them into the Nano… there’s only one track.

I press play.

And Lucinda’s voice fills my ears.

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