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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.

The day I (didn’t) meet TalX – Part Two

On my knees and clinging on

lighthouse dungeness vgood

I leave him to it, reeling in his catch… I can see the cassette body itself gigging and twitching about 40 feet below… slowly being drawn in.

TaLx isn’t coming. I’m at once relieved and disappointed.
I look out across Dungeness, with its flat expanse of gravel strafed with pylons and broken machinery.  The power station stands as a punctuation point at the end of the headland – the artist community, the huts, the feeble tourists attractions all stand in (context) of its scale and brooding intent.  A narrow rail track feeds it… running from Lydd across the flatlands and into the belly of the reactor.

distant trainOne of the line’s perplexingly small trains emerges from the side of the building; tiny and toy like – it looks like a tourist attraction… a joke.

Travis joins me, he’s bundled the tape into a ziplock bag – and tucked it under the harm.

TRAVIS: You notice how it’s nearly always empty on the way in… and yet they’ve always got a full house coming out.

CORNELIUS: You’d think it would be the other way round.

On this occasion the carriages are crowded, the passengers in cream white T Shirts, cramped into miniature open sided carriages… sitting in neat silent rows… facing forward hands on knees.  Except one, at the back… a large figure in dark clothing who stands out… dark clothing with a mass of hair streaming down his back… hair that falls in thick clumps.  Like dreadlocks.

This figure… this huge ungainly figure…

CORNELIUS:  Travis…

Who doesn’t fit in… in his long dirty black coat, with straggling hair… the huge fat figure of-

CORNELIUS: – Barney!  Travis that’s Barney on the train.

It can’t be anyone else.

And we both turn and run as hard and as fast as we possibly can – spinning round the tower – hurling ourselves down the steps – stumbling and tripping and forcing our into the open air… and then running hard across the open ground.  I’m starting to leave Travis behind – maybe I’m more desperate, maybe I’m fitter – but he’s not at my shoulder.

I hear a cry behind me and swing my head round – Travis is on the ground – on the ground and being kicked – being kicked by the two men who were laughing at us – the two men from my party…

Micro-quiff looks up and points at me – grey hair steps away from Travis’ body and they both start after me… chasing me as I chase the train that is now puttering further and further from me…  The train slows at a level crossing – not halting but at least slowing to a creep and I begin to gain on it as the others gain on me… I hear its engine wind up again – it shudders and begins to accelerate.  I’m close now – so are they…
rail dungeness
HOOKLAM:  Have at him Mr Dudley!

DUDLEY:  Indeed Mr Hooklam he’ll soon be ours!

HOOKLAM:  Oh he’s running like a young buck…

DUDLEY:  … but the hounds will have their day.

The train is leaving me.  It’s shuddering away but I’m so- so close.  I kick back hard on my left foot and myself forward, catching hold of the back carriage.  I’ve only got it with one hand – the train is accelerating – my knees are scraping and ripping – I pull myself up… haul myself and topple onto the back seat – onto the lap of a matronly woman… who looks at me with casual disinterest.  I’m bundled half onto the floor and half out of the open sided carriage…

CORNELIUS:  Shit sorry… sorry.

I’m flipping around and desperately spasming in my attempts to hang on, she doesn’t do anything to help me – or chastise me – she looks down on me with a gaze that is distant and cold and disinterested.  Like a fishes eyes but with more mascara.

I’m on my knees now – and scanning along the train – Barney was in the front, I’m 15 carriages back.  I consider working my way along the outside of the train – and then look at my bleeding knees and the ripped palms of my hands… I decide to wait.  Holding onto the outside of one carriage is enough… I look behind but quiff and grey hair are nowhere to be seen.  Neither is Travis.

We’re passing low slung houses, dulled out rows of indentikit bungalows – deadening and 1950s styled… the train is slowing  – pulling up amongst them – there doesn’t seem to be a formal station but we seem to be pulling to a stop.

Suddenly the woman jerks into life.

MATRONLY WOMAN:  Excuuuuse me.
matronly
CORNELIUS:  Sorry what…

MATRONLY WOMAN:  I think… I think ahh ah ah you’ve hurt me…

She’s clutching her knees, which I know I sort of landed on but really I most bounced off her bosum.

MATRONLY WOMAN:  Owwww ouch ouch… what are you doing?

I mean yes I landed on her but there is no way that I could have hurt her that much.

MATRONLY WOMAN:  Ah ah I think you’ve broken something…

The train is starting up again.

CORNELIUS:  I mean I’m not sure – I’m sorry but I can’t see how I can have hurt you that much.

MATRONLY WOMAN:  Oh my god I don’t think I can walk.

I can’t believe this… I look away in despair and flick my eyes down the train.  Barney has gone.

MATRONLY WOMAN:  I need a doctor… you’ve got to help me.

I can’t see him – as the train begins to pick up speed I swing my head around and catch sight of an oversized shambling figure sauntering through the concreted and empty streets.

The woman is looking at me with a mixture of intensity and anger… I think for a moment she is going to hit me.
I take a decision and drop backwards from the train – the O of her shocked mouth disappearing as I fall…

I land and roll into a messy heap – I’ve smacked the back of my head – I’m dazed… I get to my knees and look around.  No sign of Barney.

I hobble run as far as I can, which isn’t very… a hundred yards or so and then stop… the road to my right leads to a patch of scrubland… at the end of which there incongruously rises a wall – a long curved wall… and silhouetted against this is Barney.

the wall

The day I (didn’t) meet TalX – Part One

It’s time I told you what happened the other week – when I didn’t meet tALx – it’ll take a long time to unpack and tell – to tell properly… and resolve everything.  That’s why I’ve left it so long – like so much I don’t know what it means… let me break it down and then start to rebuild it for you…

That way we can start to make a little sense out of everything…

So here we go…

The Laughter at the Lighthouse

There’s a picture on Pool – “Walk away from me” of us approaching the lighthouse, there’s a series of wooden walkways that wend around its base and there we are setting off.  Me in my camo coat and Travis in just a grey T-shirt and jeans.  The day is bright bright bright and crisp – the sky only lightly streaked with cloud and the lighthouse looms to the left of the frame – stripped black and white.

I didn’t hear the picture being taken, which is odd because we were focused, in that moment our senses were razor, everything hyper real and in sharp focus – but someone got there picture and there we are… side by side going to meet TalX.

The woman on the counter takes our pounds and we wend our way round the circumference of the building.  Looping up floor after floor, alternating views of the shacks, the power station and the flat sea – until we reach the viewing platform.

lola on lighthouseThere’s a couple up their with a kid in a blue mac with little apple logos on it – she’s toddling round in circles – unhindered by vertigo or any sense of peril while her parents fret after her, shooing and trying to coax her back onto the stairs.  She resiliently ignores them.

I don’t think they are stalkers… not of the sinister kind.  None of them are TaLx.

We lean on the balustrade and begin to wait – looking inland, searching car roofs and the pates of heads.  The couple shepherd their kid inside and we’re alone.  We arrived early, but taLx… TAlX is late.

Then the woman, the mother, comes back onto the walkway – I hear her heels ringing on the metal and I turn, she is pulling a camera out of her bag.  The hairs rise on the back of my neck, my breath catches and holds in my chest leaving me gasping.  I reach out and take Travis’ arm.

As he turns, the woman leans over the balustrade and starts firing off a volley of shots downwards – I follow the line of her sight and there, at the bottom of the tower, sit two men – one of them with a camera set on a tripod pointing back at us. They are both looking upwards and laughing… at us.

Now at this juncture I should have confronted HER – ask her who she was what she was doing… but I was distracted.  A couple of days later a picture appeared on Pool – “Looking Down Looking Up” – a picture of two middle aged men sitting on grass and looking upwards – laughing.  It must be – has to be her picture…  I didn’t stop her, I let her just walk off, because I was distracted… because the two characters at the bottom of the tower… one clean looking and with brown hair in a kind of micro quiff – the other older – his shoulder length hair, greasy and grey marshaled under a baseball cap – were familiar to me.

I knew them from a party I held over a year back, from my birthday in fact – from before the events of last Halloween – they came to a party, my party in fact, and tried to threaten me – they sort of naively threatened me… they weren’t that good at it.  But they managed to spoil my night.  This a LINK to my old blog with the details…

Anyway this is now a year plus later and there they are, mocking me from a distance of 150 feet.

The younger one was on his back, lying on the tough sea grass, howling, real belly laughs.  The other one is rocking back and forward, leaning into the paunched belly that stretches out his stained blue t-shirt.  He grins up at me – broadly – gapped teeth on display.
lighthouse down view
I can’t hear them but I know their laughter hurts.  It is stabbing, knowing and cruel.

CORNELIUS:  Travis, hey Travis those guys.  I know them…

Travis wasn’t there.

CORNELUS:  Travis?

I walk round to the other side of the tower.

CORNELIUS:  Travis what are you doing?

TRAVIS:  Spooling… Cornelius I’m spooling.

Which is what he is indeed doing… he’s winding up tape.  Magnetic cassette tape that winds around the handrail and then spins off over the edge, spiraling to the ground.  Travis is carefully spooling it back in.

CORNELIUS: They attacked me at my birthday, last year.tape ball

TRAVIS:  He’s not coming Cornelius, TAlX has blown us out.  I think he wanted us to find this though…

CORNELIUS: I Travis I know them.

TRAVIS:  Who?

He looks up – a ball of brown ferrous tape having grown in his hands.

CORNELIUS:  Them.

And of course they are gone.

TRAVIS:  Oh aye.

A wry eyebrow raised and he carries on winding… slowly and methodically… carefully.

It all comes crashing down…

.. my bravado – my “Oh your not intimidating me Mr Talx…” – my detachement has just got re-attached.

Flavius – has just posted a simple picture of a house to the Pool site… and now my nerve has gone and I’ve been drinking and I’m scared – this is the night before I meet the man who has been stalking me – and I’m tired and lonely and all I can hear is the wind hitting the outside of this crappy little caravan and Travis snoring and I’m really scared.

Its is a picture of Lucinda’s house.

Her dad’s house.

I went there once – not 15 years ago as Flavius says – but maybe 8 – turn of the century time.  It’s in North East London, suburbs… we’d been clubbing in town and she insisted we went back there afterwards… we were up in town and had run out of options.  She didn’t want to go at first but then resolved, took a breath and it became the only option.

It was turning dawn when we got there.  It smelt musty.  She clamed up.  We went straight to her old room and slept – or tried to – she wrapped her arms around herself – no – she put on pajamas, of all thing,s and wrapped her arms around herself and we slept on a single bed.  I ground my teeth and listened to the birds…

And then I woke and she wasn’t there.  Her room was part teenage kids room and part box room, everything felt, musty – dust covered – I didn’t want to leave the room… the voices carried on, Lucinda’s and a man’s – at once deep and whining, almost pleading.  She came through and asked if I wanted some pizza.  There was a shit little b&w TV which she turned on and tuned to 1000000 years BC with Raquel Welch and the lizards.  She left the room, more voices, I’m chewing cold pizza and watching the fur and cleavage through the snow of static.

Allstar_onemillionBC460

She returns.

Who’s that?  My dad… you want something to drink.

No registration that anything is amiss.  She watches TV with me.  I put an arm over her, moved closer, she took it off.  Went away.  Voices.

It goes on like this.

Finally I’m getting uncomfortable and irritable, this is a side of her I never knew about , never wanted to see.  She is sexy, confident, wild – directed – all those good things – I don’t want to sit is this fusty museum to her childhood filled with broken dolls and packing cases.

She suggests we leave moments before I do and we start to stalk out.

I glance through the rest of the house.

It a vault.  A timelocked vault of 1970s decor and furniture and fixtures.  Frozen.  Covered in dust and frozen. Pictures of nothing on the walls – it doesn’t make sense.

1970s interior

I look into the lounge, the wallpaper hits my tired eyes, they are drawn to a photo on the mantlepiece.  The frame is new and free of dust.  It’s a blank and white photo of a woman with dark hair gazing at the camera.  Her head is cocked and she smiles gently… knowingly.

Lucinda’s mother.

We leave and head for town.  The tension is gone – Lucinda’s behaving as if she’s passed a trial, overcome an ordeal.  She’s charming and laughing by the time we get on the train, we pick up some wine and soon she’s a little drunk and sits on my lap kissing me.

We never talk of her father’s house again.  She visits sometimes (that’s her car in the photo) but without me – it is an unspoken understanding between us.

I haven’t thought about that house for a long time.

No until tonight.