Thursday, February 02, 2006

H.F.M part 2 chapter 4

Chapter 4
Cocooned in dirty orange blankets, with light spitting through the cracks and onto her tangled hair Catherine sleeps. Inside her head moving pictures and muffled sounds haunt her, but watching this you cannot tell. Her breathing is quiet and slow, her face relaxed, occasionally her nose twitches the first sign that she’s caught a cold after spending the night sleeping under winds breath. Two hours into her sleep she began dreaming about Daniel, first about his body how well she knows it’s movements, and how she’s watched it form over the last ten years or so, yet she barely knows it, she doesn’t know how to make it happy, doesn’t know exactly how it feels when it touches hers. Then she dreams of his mind, and perhaps the shape of his soul, she remembers it’s shyness, how much work is involved in learning it’s workings. Not because of it’s complexity, but because it’s hidden from everything. At least it is to begin with, she doesn’t believe it’s a mind which needs unwrapping, it’s not layered, just takes a while to open up but once it does it spreads itself out before you like the legs of a cheap whore. Of course this is what she believed, and then last night she found that there was a secret door. She’d had a hunch, the confusion and images she saw the last night in her bedroom had made that hunch a little more concrete, but it was only sitting on the hood of the car, surrounded by the night that she saw the door for the first time and tentatively opened it. Now she knows she can go inside whenever she wants, he has all but invited her to discover what lays in there, perhaps it’s everything is dormant, or maybe it’s working over time. She’ll only learn about it if she walks around it for a while.

That’s what she’s dreaming of, she sees Daniel before he is buried beneath the glass, he is walking around the burning forest. He is setting more fires. He walks from tree to tree, kneeling at the foot of each one, and setting the bottom of its trunk ablaze. She stands only a few yards away, unable to get closer, unable to turn away. She is surround by a circle of dead birds, hundreds of them, some are white doves, some are black crows, most are sparrows, finches, and the occasional blue tit. Blood is on her hand, and in her pocket a knife, unable to remember killing them but knowing she has, she cries, she sobs, and eventually lets out a piecing wail which catches Daniel’s attention. When he sees her standing their, face red and puffy, tears streaming from her eyes he begins to walk towards her. Catherine shakes with fear, but wants him to come closer; she wants him to burn her. She wants his attention; she wants him to focus entirely on her. He walks nearer, arms swaying from side to side, a sweet almost Stephen like smile on his face. This is it she imagine, this is where I get to see and know everything about him. When he’s an arms length away, Catherine reaches into her pocket for the knife. A thick silver steak knife with a heavy wooden handle, she grips it tightly and as he takes his final step through the circle of dead birds she thrusts the knife into his throat. She uses all her force, and drags the blade around his neck; blood shoots out into her face, drops of it mingling with her tears.

Catherine wakes slowly from her sleep, she has been sweating badly, and as she sits up the blankets stick to her bare skin. Reaching for her trousers to look for cigarettes, the dream is firmly in her head. She can’t find her packet, and she can’t find the point to what she’s just seen, it’s important she thinks, but what does it tell her? She’s not going to hurt her Daniel, there’s no chance she could. Is there a chance he wants to hurt her? Dead birds, forest fires, all signs of an adolescent mind running wild over its damaged owner. She reaches now for her jacket, and she reaches for reasons to ignore what she’s seen. There are cigarettes in her jacket, but there are no answers for her anywhere. Everything in her head is jumbled, and she’s used to that, but the causes are new. Before it was how do I get out of this home, this city, how can I get Daniel to be safe, will I ever meet my father and how can me and Stephen make a life with one another when his dick dances wildly. Now all she’s been hit by the things Stephen sees, over and over again, sometimes in her sleep, sometimes just when he stands close. She lied the other night when he asked her if she was scared of him, she said no but she really is. She lied again when he asked her if she thought there was something wrong with him. She lied a third time when he asked her what else she had seen beside the forest and the cottage and his burial. Three times she told him what he wanted to hear. Although now she thinks he knows that she denied him the truth. She lights a cig and sees her hands are trembling, she presses them against each other, rubs them together until dead dry skin begins to peel off. She needs a shower; she needs to wash herself clean.

She gets dressed and leaves the caravan in a hurry, forgetting or not caring enough to lock it, and despite her earlier excitement at living and working on a farm she does not look around. She does not take in the early evening views of the green fields, with their braking fences and the blue sky does not go noticed by her eyes. She certainly doesn’t see Stephen leaving the farmhouse; she doesn’t see him leaning against the front door breathing heavily his bloody hand held against his chest, and his eyes watering his cheeks. He does see her, and he runs quickly away from her view, round the back of the farmhouse where he crumbles to the floor. She heads towards the car where she sees Daniel sleeping. Quietly she opens the boot of the car, and reaches into her bag for a towel and a wash bag both of which, she now realises, she has forgotten.

“Fuck!” Catherine shouts and slams the boot closed. “Fuck, fuck, fuck fuck!”

“Something wrong love?” Catherine turns sharply to face Mark, whose beaming his mouth full of crooked pearls down at her.

“Fucking forgot to bring my wash stuff didn’t I? Idiot that I am, and you can bet your cuntin life on the fact that those two muppets won’t have brought anything. Shit” she’s speaking too quickly and aggressively for Mark’s liking but he tries to ignore that, “Damn it, what time did you say people went down to the shops? Are they walking distance?”

Sticking his hands in his pockets he shakes his head, “Well they don’t have a set time I’m afraid, least that I know of they just kinda go, you know what I mean,”

“No I’ve know idea what you mean, far to complicated for me that one.” She starts to roll her eyes then catches herself, “Sorry, bad mood, didn’t get much sleep last night, and when I did get some this afternoon, fuck ya know it wasn’t the best.”

“My wife takes sleeping pills every night, so I know all about bad sleep.” He takes his hand out his pockets, in one is a black and gold Zippo lighter in the other a packet of Hamlet cigars, and he offers one to her, “Better then the shit you kids smoke I imagine.”

She takes one, “Does your wife have any of those pills spare?” she asks making it clear that she’s only half joking.

“Well you see Catherine, I know she does, but only because it’s me who look after those things, her medication, well, let’s just say she has a lot of medication and I need to be the one who makes sure she takes it.” He lights his cigar then Catherine’s, “I don’t trust my wife with her own safety to tell the truth I don’t trust her with anything anymore” He shakes his head and blows smoke hard into the air. “Why am I telling you this? You don’t care.”

She takes a little drag of the cigar, and smiles “Nah I do, as much as I can you know, it’s good to hear about someone else’s worries, and not have to worry about my own,” her sincerity is a little forced thinks Mark, but she’s trying and he sees this as a good sign of her character. The effort is the thing; this is what he’s believed ever since he was a little boy. Too try. Too work at things, if you work at things, then you should get what you deserve. He has worked at his marriage he thinks, he’s worked past betrayal, worked past his wife’s ungodly womb, he’s worked past all her faults, and tried to love her like he did in the days after they first met.

“Well that’s good of you to say darling, real good,” he replaces the head shaking with a nod and wink of the left eye, “You’re a real sweet lass. I’ll tell you we don’t get many sweet lasses around here, the bunch in the village are mostly horrific, cruel and vulgar, giving the lads who aren’t no angels the run around. The last good woman around here, well I married her, and then she spent the next ten years breaking my heart.”

“It doesn’t sound like you really like women.” He sees her voice has developed a tension, and wants to slap her for the cheek.

“No, no, no. I do I love women, I love men. I love anyone who tries to be decent. Who works hard and tries to be decent. Sadly around here those people are few and far between.” He chuckles, “I’ve become a pessimist as I’ve gotten an older, it’s quiet sad, I used to be the very opposite, I also used to talk a lot more. Now I bottle it all up and then blurt it all out when a kind pretty girl asks me how far the shops are,”

Catherine smiles, she thinks this man is an idiot, a very handsome idiot, “Well I’m not pretty. Thanks anyway” she says knowing what his reply will be, and what hers after that will be.

“Oh you are, really very pretty,” he says.

And she says “Not as pretty as my boyfriend though”

He laughs loudly, “Fucking hell, ha, yes you are, I mean your Stephen looks kind of girly but he ain’t pretty, god lads aren’t pretty, they just sometimes look like girls,” he laughs again and continues “I swear to god you kids have got it all back to front, I mean I’m only ten or so years older then you all but I was never like you all, maybe I knew some folks who were, with the whole boy is like a girl and girl is like a boy thing going on. It’s all mixed up, maybe my generation started it all maybe the one before mine, who the fuck knows these things, but it’s all muddled. A man should look like a man, and a woman should look like a woman. This confusion thing is where you all get muddled, and the get fucked up.”

“You think a woman should know her place, and a man should know his?” she asks softly, playing with her cigar as she speaks, knowing how closely she’s being watched.

“Now here, no and I didn’t say that. I think a woman and a man for that matter should be able to live how they want, do whatever work they want, read whatever they fucking well want, and fuck whoever they bloody hell want. What I’m talking about is the look.” He pauses, and then moves around to lean against the car, so he is standing by her side, he figures she has to move to look at him, and if she does that will mean something. “We live in a very looks based world love, you know that, your generation were brought up to think looks are all that matter, and I think they should be kept in order, a thing should look like it’s supposed to. Otherwise you have what we have now, you know what I mean,”

She pauses then turns towards him “Confusion? I guess you might be right, but Stephen can’t change the shape of his face, he can’t help but be pretty.”

They are leaning against the car, facing each other cigars in opposite hands, Mark likes the symmetry, he imagines that the passing motorist would look up and believe they were to young lovers having a conversation about their relationship.

“ Well he can certainly avoid playing up to it. Don’t get me wrong he seems like a great lad, but he’s so damn effeminate, it’s an act as well; you know that as well as I does. The other thing we both know,” he pauses for what he considers effect, all dramatic he thinks like the men on TV, “is that you don’t like it anymore then I do, you want him to be a little tougher. You want to be equal; you want him to stand up to you. Yeah I can see that you’re very much in charge of what goes on between the two of you, hell I’d wager you’re even in charge of what Daniel does as well. I’ve known you all for less then a few hours, spent not an hour with you and I can see this. Also you’re not in charge because they just want in your pants, you’re in charge because they are soft, and you love, you are as tough as shit. I can see it in you’re face, pretty as it is, there’s a real toughness there. Yet you don’t want to win all the time, you want to lose occasionally. Fuck who doesn’t, you need a few defeats to make the victory sweeter.”

Catherine turns away again, allowing her back to rest against the rear of the battered ford, scrunching her neck and tilting her head so she can face the sky. Mark watches her carefully, running his eyes across the faint blemishes of teenage concern, a shake, rattle and a bang come from the front seat, Daniel waking and putting in a cassette. The music drifts out through the cracks in the windows, an American sings
“There's no beast,
The floor just creaks,
The morning with coffee was snowy and sweet,
and there was this small, snow-white dog
that was barking at our feet,

Her eyes fixed on the red sky and the smoke that sails from her mouth up and is eaten by the red. “Do you want to give me a tour?” she says “Do you want to show me around?”

Marks heart beats a little faster, as he thinks what this might mean, and so his cock gets a little firm, he smiles and spits to the ground. “I’m afraid not love, I’ve work to do, you’ll get the tour tomorrow.”

“You promise.”

“Well yeah, of course, but now, work to do.” He turns and walks away, glancing in the side window to watch Daniel mouthing along to the song.

“If you feel weak, leave it to me.
If you need sleep, leave it to me.
Need wool socks for your feet, leave it to me.
Need a walk on the beach, leave it to me.”

Catherine breaths out, thinks about talking to Daniel, wonders where Stephen’s got to, she decides to take a walk underneath the bleeding sky, and across the dirty earth. She might not get a tour but she wants to look around, even if that’s all she seems to be doing these days, as if just searching long and hard enough is the only way to pass the time. She takes the dirt path towards the farmhouse, and it’s surrounding buildings, ignoring Daniel when she passes him, ignoring the pig screams that surround her. When she reaches the fore court, she circles around taking a look at each building. Working out in her own mind what lies inside every single one, she thinks of the life of a farm worker, the twelve hours labour, the loss of control in the tenth when tired muscles begin to strange, and the mind empties itself of clarity, and trouble, those last two hours working could be the fall. The fall she wants, now more then ever, two days earlier her troubles had been about escaping from the boredom of home and her city, she’d wanted to see more colors then the ones that had been painted onto landscape of her mind and Nottingham. Now her troubles were bright, dark and every color in between, she’s seen more then she’d dreamt was possible, it all could have been seen had she remained in the shelter of her family home, now she was unprotected, she was out in the world now more then she’d ever been before. There was no gunfire, or sirens blaring as she went to sleep, there was no human traffic trapping her in the middle of the street, she was out in the open, surround by something transparent filled with ugly thoughts, and a vibrancy that could kill her. This was not how she planned it, within 24 hours of her great travelling things had spun out of control, and she knew she’d never get back the focus that could turn this into something bearable. If it turned out okay in the long run it would not be because of her.

Heading down the left hand side of farmers home, she heard laughter coming from inside, glanced in through the window which had been stained with an image of three small children playing in a jungle, the children were dressed in white cloaks, and each had a bat and a ball. The jungle simply green and brown, had the faces of lions, and tigers and bears scattered around it, hidden behind the plants and trees, peering down on the children. Catherine could not see where the laughter was coming from, so she walked on. Round the back of the house and for the first time she saw the size of the farm’s land, it went on for at least five miles, and was nearly a mile in it’s width. Cut into exact looking squared fields, a dark green and brown chessboard. To reach the first row of fields, Catherine had to walk down a steep gravel incline, she looked around for some steps, or a railing to steady herself as she descended, but saw nothing. She shrugged her shoulders and ran, her legs quickly moving her feet barely touching the ground; control was only briefly an option. With about ten yards to go she slipped, headfirst; her feet were quickly level with her head as she flew towards the fences of the first fields. The momentum carried her for a second, and then as quick as she had moved, she was dropped, flat down on the ground. Loose pebbles and stones were hit hard, and they beat her skin to bruises and blood. Her face, grazed along the right cheek and her nose would soon begin to swell, a little cut on her lip. She hadn’t protected herself with out stretched arms so her torso took the blow, it became tight, as the impact was distributed all around, Catherine felt the pain settle on her breasts, little cuts had been made and she felt every last one. Her knees began to swell immediately. She lay for a while just staring at the floor, tears filling her eyes. Minutes passed by, and then, after a little while, as the tears dried, she began to listen.
Mark’s voice rang out, from behind the fences, far back through a few fields.

“If you don’t finish the work, you don’t finish the day. If you don’t finish the day, then you won’t get paid. You understand you fucking retard, tell the other fucking retards, that if the fields not finished by the time night falls, and then they won’t be getting paid. I want everything in there pulled out, bagged, and in the lorry by the morning when I have to deliver it. Do you fucking understand?”

A deep, slow voice replied, “Yes.”

“Good, I don’t mean to be unreasonable, but work needs to be done, I asked you and your friends to do the work, and now you say there isn’t enough time.”

“We will do it. Mark, we will do it.”

“Damn, right you will. What if I was to say that I didn’t have time to pay you, would that be fair?”


“No it wouldn’t be fucking fair, so you do the work, and I’ll pay you. Like we agreed on when I hired you.” His voice had quickly calmed down,

Catherine pulled herself up, using the fence to support her, her body ached like never before, not even waking up in hospital hurt as much as this, not even taking a knife to her arms hurt as much as this. She scanned the first row of fields, searching for Mark and the low voiced man. She spotted them in the left corner field, Mark had his back to her, and he was watching the other man walk away, towards a mettle shelter. The man lit a cigarette and went inside the shelter which resembled nothing more then the class room of a third world village, four metallic sheets pinned together with a handful of nails and planks of woods placed across the top with a tarpaulin sheet to stop the sun and the rain get in. She watches the door to the shelter shut and lets her eyes drift over to Mark who’s now started walking up the field, every so often he kneels to check the ground or feel the leaves of his crop, winter isn’t that far away in his mind and harvesting takes a long time. He’s hoping desperately that what’s been grown will be could enough to sell. Catherine watches, as he reaches the end of the field and without a run up of any kind leaps the fence easily. He moves quickly and quietly through the next field without pausing, in minutes he is a tiny figure in the distance.


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5:45 AM  

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