Excerpt from “The Merc”
……. And that was when the potential disaster began to unfold! Just when the children were furthest from the protection of their father.
It wasn’t an attack by insurgents hidden in the trees. It was the old bull wildebeest. Not only was he still alive, he was pretty darned angry with it! He rose to his feet making a sound somewhere between a snort and a bellow. His blood-shot eyes looked furious as he glared in the direction of the children just a few yards from him. Flecks of blood spattered his nostrils.
The children were several yards ahead of the trackers and the four of them were spread across the direct line of fire between the hunter and the bull that was obviously about to charge! The hunter screamed at the younger man to kill the wildebeest. The younger man, who had never in his life shot anything bigger than a pigeon, yelled back “Where?”
The son-in-law quickly tried to assess the view of the target the other would have and what his options would be.
“Two inches behind the ear!” He shouted.“Quickly!” “Now!” “NOW!” as the old bull lunged forward toward the terrified kids.
More birds suddenly clamored skyward as the big bull dropped a second time and the younger man registered an intense ringing in his ears…….
Excerpt from “Among Incan Ghosts”
…….. Upon reaching the peak where there was room only for one to stand the Englishman took up the book his companion had gifted him knowing his love of poetry. While looking down upon the incredible architecture and masonry of that pre-Columbian civilization he turned reverently to the twelfth poem in the second series of Neruda’s “Canton General” and imagined, as surely had Neruda, the artisans of that era involved in the city’s construction and daily life. As Neruda, himself a son of that continent, experienced his own rebirth through an ethereal connection with that location, that era, those people, the Englishman too became engulfed in the words and the energies of that most otherworldly place.
While Neruda was calling upon the souls of the ancient Incas to tell him of their sufferings that he may speak for them their unheard stories, the clouds rolled down from the snow-clad peaks surrounding the Urubamba River encircling the plateau upon which Machu Picchu was built. And while the great poet detailed their trades and their roles within the structure of Incan society the clouds completely engulfed the city at the base of Huchuy Picchu, enshrouding the buildings and terraces once more in vapour, myth and legend. And while the laureate entreated the dead from that mystic civilization to inflict upon him their pain that he may know the anguish they endured, the Englishman was alone on the summit, standing on the very tops of the clouds that now completely hid the city, gazing in transcendent awe upon the silence that Neruda had asked the spirits of that bygone civilization to grant him that they may speak their unvoiced woes through his mouth, bleed their unseen agony through his veins.
Soon after the poem was finished the clouds at his feet began retreating from their occupancy of the Lost City. The strengthening sun ushered them back across the serpentine Urubamba to the high Andean ranges from whence they came where the great sacred condors soared above the precipitous depths below………..
Opening paragraphs from “The Lambing Shed”
As the world’s human population becomes ever more urbanised and ever less pastoral, what was once very basic, necessary and everyday knowledge is passing from the possession of the many, remaining only in the specialized hands of the somewhat marginalized few. It only takes one generation for such knowledge to be lost and as our cities continue to engulf our countryside (and our country-folk) with their synthetic environments, much that is natural passes from the lives of our children. What once was worthy of little thought or comment in the fast disappearing village is now a matter of ignorance and misunderstanding, even suspicion, in our burgeoning cities.
The Lambing Shed
It was during the trip to England when his youngest was being christened that they’d gone to the farm with all the animals. Some of them the kids were allowed to stroke and his daughter, being who she was, had of course wanted to stroke the ones they weren’t supposed to as well. Having to deny her had been reasonable enough grounds in her mind to release some of the frustrations she, and many other kids, seemed to suffer around that age. They’d had fun with the working model of a cow that you could milk, had watched the otters at play, held the day old chicks and patted the llama on the forehead. His daughter had monopolized the slide for a while and insisted they visited the otter enclosure three more times before she’d allow them to leave that part of the farm. Now it was time to go to the 2 o’clock tour of the lambing shed.
As a lad he’d lived in another village in the same part of the country. Their house was just the other side of the old Anglo Saxon churchyard from the local lambing field. He could remember back then watching several lambs being born. He also remembered the travelling sheep shearers coming by, skilfully wrestling the ewes to prop them against their own shins while they deftly removed the fleeces and piled them in the corner of the old barn. With his sister he would often herd errant cattle back to their pastures from the road or the river bank, and could reminisce about many other such experiences that were quite ordinary for a village lad growingup on the edge of the Sussex Downs.
Times had changed now though. Many of the fields had been subdivided into bland housing estates. A huge bypass spanned the river and cut through the valley where he used to build haybale forts with his mates. Kids turned to the bigger towns for their entertainment, not the country any more. Or worse; they didn’t go out at all but played on computers or watched television and DVDs all day. His kids were more fortunate though. They were growing up on a small tropical island where the outdoors was still the way of life. This was their first trip to the land of his own childhood and he’d wanted to show them, young as they may have been, as much of what it was like when he was a kid, and not how it had become.
Excerpt from “Charity and Inner Conflict”
…… Rats had free rein feeding off the ubiquitous huge black cockroaches under the ever watchful eyes of the kites that hung in the dry acrid air above or lined the rigging of the freighters, awaiting their chance at whatever carrion might be discarded.
He was relieved when the couple of older shipmates with whom he went ashore led the way from the docks and into the town which, although also dusty and unkempt, was, after the rundown port area, relatively endurable.
They washed the ore dust from their mouths and throats at the first bar they found with local rum which cost them next to nothing by their standards. However; also by their standards the rum was undrinkable by itself so they had to purchase a bottle of cola to make it palatable which cost a lot more than the liquor. It was during the second rum that the beggar approached.
She was, he reckoned, seven or eight years old and wore such an expression of pathos standing motionless in her rags at the door, skinny hand extended, that he felt her presence as a physical twist in his stomach. His own hand went to his pocket for change.
“Don’t give ‘er nothin’ lad.” One of the older men warned sternly. The apprentice asked why.
“Give ‘er somethin’ an’ before you know it there’ll be twenty of ‘em.”
The youth leaned back on the rickety wooden chair, looked both ways out of the glassless window behind him to the street and said he didn’t see any other urchins.
“No. You won’t. You don’t see ‘em, see. But they’re out there all right, an’ they got this radar that locks on as soon as one of ‘em finds someone. Then they all come. They all act kinda like scouts for each other.”
The young child continued to focus her silent plea on the teen. His discomfort was palpable. He had more money in his pocket than he needed and she obviously had nothing, was hungry, maybe starving, wore tatters and probably had no roof over her head at night. Her big dark solemn eyes told him so.
“Don’t do it lad.” The older man warned……..