Had to see a man about a dog.

Stand all alone, bare beach

Cold hands warm waves sandy feet

Bag of oysters – sharp as rocks – good to eat

but the love, of his life, out of reach

Should she ever coming back forgive the heat of the conversation when they meet last time ?

He really wasn’t sure of that and feeling quite level headed decided that actually there may never be another conversation.  He turned around and stepped southward along the shore walking along the water margin and whistled to his dog to catch up.  At least Oscar would stick with him he hoped.  The stars were coming out and he stopped and looked into the sky.  There was constancy there in the dark with the celestial sphere up there.  Gradually rotating inexorably at the same speed day in day out.

‘Oscar! – he shouted over the sound of the waves.

A bark and the dog was up to him already standing back and waiting for him to throw something.  He picked up a bit of driftwood and through it into the waves. The dog bounded in after it and after some few moments came bounding out of the water, flicking salt slake all over the place and then giving  a good shake after dropping the wet stick at his feet.

“ok you old joker — Oscar, I suppose you’ll miss her as well – eventually.  What if the whole world slowed down and the days got longer and the stars moved slower, he asked ?  Would the moon care Oscar ? Just because the days get longer, doesn’t mean the year would. Still take the same number of heatbeats….. all totally wasted no doubt.  Would she notice ?”

The dog barked – still waiting for him to pick up the stick.

He picked up the stick and started drawing in the sand.  First a heart, then some initials then – the dog sniffed and barked again.  They both sat down and got out the bag of oysters.

Shucks the oysters

wags the dog

moonlight glistens

stars are gone

warm waves sandy feet

suck the oysters – aftertaste – feel the beat

but the love, of his life, out of reach

Sunset with a chance of shark and robot.

Jack was there – looking out at the waves a bit- scraping dampish sand with shells through his toes.  There was a cool breeze coming up from the darkening sea out there, and his mother and older sisters probably wanted him home.  His mum had not come down, so she might have dinner ready when he got there.  Feeling a bit thirsty anyway, he got up, picked up his things and started walking. Down to the shore first where the waves had been, and along the interface between the great continent to the west and the pacific to the east. The sky stars were starting to come out now, there was a guy some distance off to his left just standing in the water, looking outward and a woman sitting on the sand off to his right, just watching the guy for some reason.  ‘Bit strange’ he thought, the woman fidgeting with her hands and with her cell phone for some reason. He kept on walking. Pulled out his small transistor radio brushed off the sand, and turned it on.  It was the ABC702 channel and there was cricket commentary..

“He’s an idiot, a bloody idiot” – she said.

“He’s just standing out there in the water, waiting for a shark.”

Jack stopped, and turned back to see the woman gesticulating frantically with the cell phone to her ear.

“I dunno, I dunno”,.. “I came down here to the beach to stop him,. but he is just standing out there.  Waiting for something.” 

The cell phone cut out, probably out of battery thought Jack.  We walked back to the woman and looked up at her. “Look” said Jack, “I heard you talking, about the guy out there.  Why did he go out ? Why wait for a shark ?”. “Because it meant something to him”.  “He figured that he would be safe, a kind of quantum safeness as he explained it. Some probability that the shark if anything would not be hungry.”. “Stupid guy”.

The sky started lightening with a bit of a red glow, the radio started making a stupid noise, like he had bumped the tuner wheel a bit, – he tried re-tuning it – no good though – just more and more static and stuff and now the trannie started glowing red like the sand behind it. he looked up and was blinded by a massive bright thing and wham before he could think something massive and fast just whammed straight into the sea – a burning smell and ozone – and mate – look at that wall of water  – it was between the beach and the horizon and before he knew it, it was all over him – knocked him and the woman off his feet and pushed him up the beach and kept going. Jack held on fast to the transistor but lost hold of the other things he had.

He tumbled a bit but not too bad – some scrapes… and then the water went back down into the deep and left him there all covered in mud and seaweed. In the meantime there was just black cold dirty rain coming down on him and the whole stars blacked out and a smoky salty electric smell in the air.

Jack got up then, time to go, had to walk, clear his head..  He went down then to the sea, black sea, wanted to wash off the mud, still.. got into the turbulent water, walked out and rinsed off his muddy body and got the sand and mud out of his hair.  The sea, not the same, muddy and dark.  It wasn’t working out.  Had to go back home then.  He got out out of the water then.  He walked back up to the beach to pick up the radio, tried to turn it on, it was already on, but not working, too much water in it perhaps.. he thought. 

He walked along the beach then, determined now to get home.   As he stumbled along he saw the woman and the man, together again, the man lying down, with his head in his hands, and the woman holding onto him, like something she would never again let go of.  By the shore he tripped over something metalic stuck in the sand.  He went back to find out what it was.  There in the sand in the half light was an arm.  It looked like an arm, with a hand on the end of it.  No ordinary hand he thought.  He brushed off the sand from the arm, it was cold and metallic.  Looked a bit like armour like a knights shining armour. But just the arm actually.  Where was the rest of it.   He bent down and worked the sand off the arm and gradually exposed the whole thing, or at least what was left of it.  There in the sand was an arm, but it had been broken off, and instead of bone sticking out, there were wires all twisted up with seaweed and sand. It shone in the face of the streetlights up on the promenade. The arm of a robot then.

A love line in the sandy sky

B72 Snake Nebula

It was getting late in the afternoon at the caravan park.  Tents flung all over the place, with spaces of grass and sand between them.  The beach not far away, flocks of seagulls tearing bits of food apart and squabbling as usual.  For most of the people there too, it was getting time to eat.

Alice was sitting on a rock, overlooking the ocean, and the waves.  Sunburnt a bit, she was munching on an apple, a nice red one and considering her palm, a mystery, but she had been told about love lines, marriage lines, heart lines.  It was mystery to her.  It was cooling down and so she got up and walked back to the tent on the beach, and met up with Ferodo, that infuriating guy boyfriend, whatever.

Alice and Ferodo took off up the track together.  Alice offered Ferodo a bite of her apple, and he took one, but was still thinking of fish and chips after all. He thought of holding hands perhaps.  Who would go first, the woman or the man in the equation ? They often thought about crossing the line, that marks the balance point in a relationship.  When tension increased, the strength and straightness of the line as well.  It appeared impassable sometimes, but other times it relaxed into a kind of curvature not starting or ending, but eminently crossable. Still, her hand was all sticky with apple.  Perhaps he would just kiss her instead.

“Ferodo !. Quick, look, what IS that ? ”

“Can’t see a thing mate !”,…  “where ?” he asked..

“Just there, you idiot !” “Look, It’s a snake!”  she said.

“Na, theres no snakes around here !, it’s the beach, don’t worry” he said.

“OK OK I see it !” he added.

There on the path in the darkening, was a curved black line in the sand,  the line was fixed in the sand but the front extended and the back contracted so that the line seemed to move forward in perfect formation.  It was a Taipan by the way, one of Australia’s most deadly snakes, a bit off track, and who knows where it had come from or why, but too dark to make it out clearly….

Alice screamed, “It is headed for that tent over there”. “quick kill it ! Or something !”

Ferodo, didn’t know too much about snakes.  He figured it was dangerous, and that he should take care, but as the light was fading was pretty sure he didn’t want to jump on it.

“Keep your eye on it, and don’t get too close !.  I’ll be back ” he said.

He quickly ran back to his own tent and looked around for a weapon.  There on the bed, where he had left it, was a hammer, perhaps that would do.  He snatched up the hammer and ran back to where Alice was following the snake up the path slowly but surely without deviation advancing on the lighted tent further on.

Ok, so with hammer in hand Ferodo looked at the snake saw that even though the snake was curved and snaking it’s way up the path, and even though he was kind of shaking all over, vibrating with adrenalin, and not knowing really if this was ok, he got the hammer in his hand.  His right hand. Should he use his left ? Wasn’t real sure, his mind started to optimise the situation, but then he realized he just had to go for  broke, forget the optimization.  If he had had a chance to pre-meditate killing the Taipan he certainly would not have chosen a hammer.

His right hand swung out, with the hammer at the smallish head moving in a dead straight line at constant velocity forward, slightly raised off the ground, and with the little minute tongue flicking the air occasionally.

Whack ! Smash, and then a violent eruption in the sand, of fury of the headless snake, whose head had clean come off all mashed on the end of the hammer.  The snake was thrashing around, and it was not clear it was dead, even though it’s head seemed to have come off.  Ferodo relived the last 200ms of it’s life to assure himself, that that was all he had to do.  He was shaking all over, possibly more than the snake itself.  He felt sick, like , way too much excitement that was unplanned and not part of expectations for this holiday.

Alice was standing there… ” what on earth !” she said, you could have got bitten ” what if you had missed the thing, you can hardly see it even now in this light”

Ferodo got his breath back, and said ” ok, ok but well, it’s dead now and at least it’s not going to get into the other people’s tent, whoever they are. ”

Alice and Ferodo looked at each other with a kind of new understanding.  The line had shifted in the sand between them.  Alice stepped forward to meet Ferodo, and stood with her foot clear on the still thrashing body of the snake.  She was standing there like it didn’t count anymore, with a half eaten apple,  and that there in front of her was another mystery to fathom.

After a while, the stars were coming out, as they turned, with apple and hammer in hand and walked off to get fish and chips.

Attribution : Featuring the Photo of the B2 snake nebula http://www.howardedin.com/wp/ creative commons.