Fishing in Beirut

March 18, 2010

Part 5: Natural Light, Oct 2001 – Jan 2002 (scene 11)

Filed under: Character : Frank, Part 5 : Natural Light — fishinginbeirut @ 10:21

Frank began walking naturally. Unaided by the crutch he would journey around the block, moving at a pace that facilitated correct walking. If he went too fast he regressed to a form of hobbling, but at a slow gait the muscles seemed to work properly. His ankle clicked and protested.
The dogs sometimes accompanied him, in daylight or the evening, and all the houses were festooned and joyful, with Christmas lights, Santas, mistletoe. What they call the holiday season.
In his huge security jacket and his woolly hat and gloves, Frank trudged through the snow tracks delicately. One of the dogs disappeared momentarily, only to re-emerge covered in snow. A car skidded.
In his room Frank warmed himself, rubbing his hands and rolling his neck. He smelt chicken roasting. Rachel and Jack were in the kitchen, Jack banging on a pot, and Frank listened quietly, feeling at ease.
He took the garage route to the basement, entering by the side door, and had a smoke amongst the gloominess. There were mice in the walls.
Their presence had been detected three days previously, when Frank noticed teeth marks in stored Irish chocolate bar wrappers, and had then seen three of them, scurrying across the floor. Dan was out buying poison. Frank looked around carefully, but knew it was unlikely he’d see them again. Their hiding places were infinite.
He stubbed out the joint, but remained seated. He took in the sense of this room. With his eyes closed and his head lolling, he experienced its parameters, sonically, spatially. He heard a dog padding.
“You should go out and get a Yank bird,” said Dan at dinner, and Rachel pretended to scold him with her eyes. “Fly the flag for Ireland.”
Frank smiled in politeness, feeling that this would be a tricky proposition, but unable to deny the fact his body was requesting it. Her nationality would have made no difference. He would have lain her down and turned her around, but his mind was snapped out of this when Dan hit him with a tea towel.
“Finish your chicken or I’m giving it to the dogs.”
Frank washed the dishes with the CD player spinning. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. He saw them in Berlin, nearly saw Tom Waits too. He pushed suds from a Celtic-patterned hotplate.
The kitchen in the evenings had become a special time. He liked washing the dishes with music playing. His mind would drift and float from him, memories, imaginings. Thoughts like slow ponderous beings.
Tonight he was thinking of Dublin, the kebabs and the piss and the puke. Excessive smoking and drinking. Brit-esque slappers in skirts. It was English there, different in token form only. The lager, the aggression, the frantic coupling with strangers in the streets. He’d done that too, like anyone.
He finished the dishes and went to his room, then to the basement to smoke. The bag was certainly diminishing, nearly 300 dollars in his lungs. It was sweet though. It was sweet and chilled and soft melancholic, and slowing. He stretched his arms upward.
“Ah sure now, ceilings are pretty cool.” He sent this remark to the wood beams. He got a can of Old Style from the fridge, and cracked it open with a groan. Then he guzzled from it.

Jack stood up by the fireplace. Terminator 2 was on television, and he rose shakily near the dormant grate. Frank watched him curiously, feeling sure this was the very first time – an unassisted standing being accomplished. Jack waved his arms, shouted, and then folded neatly onto his bottom, like a soft internal implosion, or a tower being felled. “Silence,” ordered Schwarzenegger.
Rachel and Dan were out, and Frank the babysitter was drinking a beer. He smiled at Jack. There was a crash on the screen and Jack’s head swivelled, his eyes as wide as saucers, but not containing fear. It was just instinctive.
“That was a crash,” said Frank solemnly. Jack watched him and listened. “There was a big crash, and Schwarzenegger said ‘affirmative.’” Jack gurgled and coughed.
“This is a remarkable transition the Terminator has made,” opined Frank. “It is akin to Hannibal crossing the Alps.” Jack crawled over closer, whispering utterances to himself.
“If you cast your mind back to the first film,” Frank continued, “he was resolutely, indeed indubitably, an evil character. The truth wasn’t in him. Now however, we can observe a startling transformation, as he hereby battles to save the life of the one he was initially sent to destroy.”
He drank from the beercan.
Jack was well accustomed to this silliness, and, although he didn’t understand any of it, appeared to be enjoying himself immensely. He gripped the edges of the couch. Frank picked him up and they sat together, Jack chewing a toy. Arnie had split for commercials.
“I’m going to be leaving soon,” said Frank. I’m going to be going away.”
Jack went asleep in his arms later, and Frank watched his innocent face, his sighs and his nasal breath-flow. His mind didn’t know of sadness. What would his life hold, what would Frank’s, and if they ever met again, would the sleeping child remember?
Was he dreaming?
Frank turned off the TV set. The walls were painted yellow, but a warm and vivid hue, and he took in the room slowly, deliberately. Jack shifted for an instant. There was pain in Frank’s body, and they had said there would be forever. There was breakage and deformation. He looked at this sleeping boy on his chest, and smiled at the knowledge of his energy. His boundless, shouting glee.
When Dan and Rachel came home the dogs would start barking. Jack would probably wake for a moment, and then sleep again. Would wake without knowing he had done so. One of the dogs ventured over, silent and wagging its tail, and Frank patted the soft dark head, two loving pure eyes regarding him. The deep eyes of dogs.
He closed his mind and relaxed. To his sensations. He was almost holding himself. He almost had his arms around his own sleeping form, protecting it from everything, everywhere. But there are no winners in that game. The barrier of protection can block good as well as ill, and if you aren’t receptive, how can you receive? He felt a pulse throbbing.
The arrival of Dan and Rachel was imminent. It was the future, then the past. Frank sat on the couch with the baby in his arms, the dogs alongside him, and his history like a trail. He had a life to live through.


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