Literary Maneuvers July 2018 - Dead Boys Don't Cry - Page 2

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  1. #11
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    A forest in England
    Posts
    34
    Blog Entries
    1
    After My Dog Died
    (650 Words)

    The house was too full of his half-chewed bones and the green-eyed woman's sympathy, so I decided to take a walk. I can finally say that word without a fuss, which is funny, as I'd give anything not to be able to.

    Outside, cars jostle and groan like angry, sweating beasts. Their noise is so loud that it drowns out all else and allows the Silence that he left to drape around me. I hate it.

    The asphalt’s solidity is somewhat comforting, and I become lost the motion of my shoes swinging back and forth. But there’s only two of them.
    In the distance, a woman walks her dog.

    I go back home. I don’t cry.

    The green-eyed woman greets me with pity as soon as I enter the house.

    ~

    The TV is on, but the Silence is too loud to hear anything. Some way off, the green-eyed woman calls me to dinner. When I join her, the Silence becomes a solid, jagged thing we share between us. The green-eyed woman smiles and shifts as she eats, as if she could drown out the Silence by ignoring it. In the clatter of her cutlery it grows teeth.

    “I hear that the animal shelter recently rescued some puppies. Perhaps we can go and take a look. Would you like that, Dear?”

    I would like to strangle her.
    ~

    The stones hold names of people I can't remember and can never meet. The name I was looking for is not here, but I went anyway. Some of the names are soft, nearly imperceptible. It makes me wonder what happens when not even stone can hold a memory. At least it’s better than having no stone at all.

    Yew trees shelter me from the sun. They were probably the first things here; perhaps they’ll live to be the last. They have their own gentle sound, as if someone is cupping their hands over my ears. For a while they drown out the Silence that should have been filled with barks and sniffing. But then, I listen too deep and the Silence breaks though like a crashing wave. For a few breaths, I feel like I'm drowning. But I don't.

    I leave his tennis ball under the trees before I go.
    ~

    The bin is overflowing, but as he isn't here to steal the rubbish I can't be bothered to empty it. After a few more sips, I realise I have no idea what I'm drinking.

    I stare at the green-eyed woman from the couch whilst she shouts. It's entirely my fault and I know I should feel guilty. But all I can think is that she looked better without the lipstick.

    “He’s gone! Get over it for goodness sake. If you carry on like this, you’ll lose me too. Is that what you want?”

    No should be my answer, but it's hidden too far away. So instead of comforting her or pleading her to stay, I sit and wait for her to leave. Eventually she does. The Silence that hid behind her shouting, now spews from my mouth to fill the whole house. I wait for the tears to come, but they never do.

    ~

    The bristly starts of my beard begin to itch, so I stand in front of the bathroom mirror and try not to look at the eyes staring back. The green-eyed woman wouldn't let me have a beard; she said it made me look as scruffy as him. Well, she's gone now. Perhaps I do look scruffy, but he's gone now too, so at least we can’t be compared. Briefly, I wonder why he had to die and leave me here. But then I listen to the Silence that fills the house like treacle, and I realise there’s more than one way to kill someone. I wonder if I'm already dead. Between the flashes of my razor, the Silence waits.

  2. #12

    The Committed

    .
    On the evening of another grey day, His Majesty’s Ship Reliant trimmed her sails and heeled across a westerly breeze.

    Below decks, beside the magazine, a couple of Powder Monkeys sat cross-legged beneath their hammocks. Jack and Tom were on their first ship and after two weeks of constant drills, now knew their duties well enough.

    Jack rolled his eyes. ‘I was hopin’ we were goin’ to Jamaica, but it looks like we’re stuck here on this bloomin’ channel patrol.’ Keeping his voice low, lest he disturb the resting day-watch, gently swaying the length and breadth of the lower-deck. ‘Back and forth we go. I swear, when I’m topside I can’t tell which green smudge is England and which one is France.’

    Tom clapped Jack on the shoulder. ‘If you ever goes overboard, you won’t know which way to swim!’ And they both giggled behind clasped hands before their mirth was quickly quenched by a tin cup crashing into a beam just inches above Tom’s head.

    ‘Keep yer blessed row down!’ A Bristolian accent called out.

    The boys smiled at each other and quietly climbed into their hammocks while the ship’s timbers creaked and groaned in the gathering gloom.


    As dawn approached, any slumber was suddenly shattered by the brittle roll of a marine’s drum. The naval death-rattle of ‘beat to quarters’ - and ordered chaos broke out as the lower-deck was cleared for action.

    It would be the boys’ first taste of real action - but any nerves were tempered by the discipline of practiced routine and they jumped to it, pulling open the heavy magazine door and filling their oversized knapsacks with powder-cartridges for the awaiting gun crews.

    Tom served the port side stations, and was determined to keep his guns supplied…and outrun Jack for once, if that’s what it took. He was doling out the last of his cartridges when Reliant was struck amidships, hurling splinters at the speed of musket balls, ripping into unprotected flesh. From the shudder and screams above, the main deck had also been hit.

    Redoubling his resolve, Tom charged down the deck to fetch more powder. Reliant engaged, and he had to be fleet-footed to avoid the fired guns as they leapt back from their ports like living things, barely tamed by the gunner’s stays.

    Driven and relentless in his duty, Tom only stopped when he heard the call for cease fire and collapsed to the deck. For a moment, all was quiet, save for the soft moans of the wounded.

    Tom’s thoughts immediately turned to Jack, and when he couldn’t find him, feared the worst and frantically headed for the hatchway - only to be stopped in his tracks by the strong hands of Gunner McKenzie gripping his shoulders. The Gunner looked down at Tom and slowly shook his head, feeling the boy tremble in his hands.

    ‘Where is he?’ Tom pleaded, his eyes welling.

    ‘They’ll be time for grieving later, but right now boy, there is work to be done.’


    In a slow rhythmic fashion, Tom swabbed the blood-stained lower-deck, wondering if any of it were Jack’s. While all around him the cacophony of repairs were underway, paced by the steady clank of the carpenter’s hammer.

    That afternoon, all hands were on deck as one by one, the dead were lain under an English ensign and committed to the deep. Once dismissed, Tom rushed to the port rail to look to the sea and hide his tears. Presently, McKenzie came over.

    Tom could only sob, ‘I’m sorry sir.’

    ‘It’s alright, let it all out boy. You have to be alive to cry, just remember that.’ McKenzie smiled grimly, then walked on.

    The Reliant was Portsmouth bound for further repairs, and Tom fixed his gaze on the green smudge growing ever larger on the port-bow horizon, whispering…

    ‘If you can swim Jack…swim this way.’
    Last edited by ned; August 9th, 2018 at 05:36 PM. Reason: what you looking at?

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