Apprentice

Hels awake ••••
Drifting and voices.
“Greetings my dear friend ever yours faithfully”. He cannot remember
his name. The song comes. Derivation. Himself. Others. Pass by. Pressure. Depth. Density. Ashes. Corpses. Thoughts to be rearranged. Every desert stops somewhere. Hell. Never recognising himself In the mirror. Shadows. Wrinkles. The master who said “Hels only begun •••
a juvenile”. Puffs and sucks and rests his hand. “Few years experience. His Ideas’ II lave dampened.” Enzymes. Saliva In his mouth. Drying up.>. The chamber of digestion. Meat of animals, their milk and the forms
of plants wi I I not last. Feeding under pressure. Old system. Giving out pain when It does not agree. No room for argument. Nature. Thinking. “I derive” said the apprentice.
He’s intent and young •••
The easiest derivation. Himself. Language is too soft. He worries about his heart too often. He eats everybody. Everybody loves him.
The excess of youth. Shall they dance in the bed. He’ll have your swivel, If you take his screw. There Is more to this lIfe. Death ought to know. Perhaps, you’re a boy. Perhaps youlre a girl. Take him Into your gutter. He’ll be your rat, cat or anybody you feel like roiling
up in your cigarette dear.
The song goes.
The waitress laid his cup of coffee on the laminated surface. Slipping from daydream to reality was not easy for him. Whl+e noise gradually would become the rush of traffic and chatter of old men and old women.
“So and so went Into hospital today. So and so passed his exams. So and so Is finally gettIng married ••• “
All these people Involved In the Great Necessity. He wished to Just sit and listen and listen. He could not. Boredom would edge Its way In speaking of death and Inactivity. Daydreaming was for children.
Those without responsibility. Without a mother, grandparents, girlfriend and children.
22
His mother was In “The Groves”. The visit would take place when his wife returned from Marks and Spencers. She had to return some clothes that were too big. The honeymoon had been spoiled. He tapped his cigarette. Watched the ash roll and settle.
Romance Is the story of an elsewhere; a challenging escape. Not from reality but to a rearrangement of It. He loved rearranging reality, rearranging the ashes with his cigarette. ThinkIng of the perfec~ way to kill. The perfect way to love. The perfect way to live. Mere
conjecture. He stabbed his cIgarette Into the tr’av.
His wife surprised him. Tired. Wrinkles. He could not discern her. His mouth was dry. His wife was the woman who had decided to cope with his problem.
“Michael. I got them changed”.
“Oh good. Are we going then?”
He got up quickly. Took the bag she held. Strode purposefully out. Not waiting tor her.
Trees. Bushes. Gravel drive. Middle of a council estate. Secluded. Pass between two high hedges. Brushing the car. All green. Then the house. Assertive. Confident. Solid. Red brick and ashlar. Palatial. Columned. Resting place. A cat dashed. Leaving cream steps. Old house. Old people.
They were Inarticulate and III-informed. It was a new experience. What was to be obtained from It?
His mother was a child. A quiet child. She had come through her adolescent excess. Cutting squares out of new curtains with scissors. Speaking to nobody In the house. Wrapping newly bought food In paper
and placing It In a neighbour’s bin. Never acknowledging the work others did for her. Stuffing paper Into plug-holes and runnIng the taps. Flooding the house. They decided she would be better cared for In 8 home.
23
III:

pressure of responsibi lity. people. Alone. The Desert. other people.
“Are vou we II ? moTher”, he asked.
“Has Michael come veT?” she looked aT him.
“I’m Michael moTher!” he Took her hands to. his.
“You are. 0 Ves, hello Michael!” she felt for his face. “Hello mo+her , moTher!”
“Yes Michael, It Is Michael isn’T It?”
“This Is Julie, mo+her ,”
“Hello Julie. Is she your new girlfriend, Michael?”
“No mother, she’S my wife. Bemember the wedding mother? Uncle Albert
was there. He talked to you. Remember”.
“Uncle Alfred. Your wife. You learn something new everyday. Don’t
you Michael?”
“Yes mother”.
“I’ve been sick again Michael, last night ••• nurse cleaned it up. Can’t keep my food down like I used to Michael”.
She would be a corpse soon.
Pass between two high hedges. Remembering his mother, like daydreaming. Without the responsibility of the present. How she packed him off to _~ch’:Jc’. How much fun she was. Play I ng pooh-is+ I cks from the V!oc~:r.,(lden bridge. Down the path ful I of sunshine summer and green. Mere
conjecture.
“Out of it. Michael, face up to It”. His wife drove with precision, accuracy and confidence. “We’ I I visit her next week”.
Michael sometimes wondered whether the marriage had been a good Idea. Julie sometimes wondered about life married to a Daydreamer. Each could sense the hell in the others. Th.at limit to their Independence -, Always the other person to consider. The depths. The density. The The Great Necessity of coping with other
Where the desert stopped. The hell of
Drifting and voices. The song comes. People eating each other. The need to know. A fork. The need to keep secrets. A knife. Corr~spondence. A table. The children. Those who had to Ieern to cope with responsibility. On a separate smaller Table. Michael was among them. The apprentices. Trying TO remember names of people, of places.
Trying TO be responsible.
24
Otherwise. A wack across the ear. The steel spatula. The wooden spoon across cold bare le9s• Other people had to be able to Rccept you. If they did nOT. The system gave OUT pain. No room for argument. Michael derived pain from other people. It was easy to see the source of his life. Himself. Imagination. The song goes.
Julie drove up the drive. Stopped. Unlatched the door. Jangling keys.
Ashen faces stared out from The cafe with its laminated tables.
“Had a good day?” said a man dressed in white.
”’Fair to middling,” he said. ‘iHis mother was “alright.”
“That’s good. Now come on Michael”, the man said as he opened the
. door.
“My wife?”
“Now M I chae I • No more daydream I ng” • “Coming next week for him are we Julie”.
“Of course” she said. Closing the car-door. Putting the keys In the ignition. Leaving Michael with the man In white staring after her. The car dipped from the drive.
“That letter arrived, Michael. From Uncle Albert”.
The man In white led him into the building. Michael was stil I awake and intent.

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