by mikesteeden

In the sizzling humidity that only the rainforest knows, a coverlet of brazen shadows hold sway. Albeit a pain in natures arse, here and there, scintillant chinks where razor sharp blades of sunlight cleave their way ever forward attempting to invade the battlefields canopy. Nearby, a peacock hoots, parakeets screech and in the far distant a lonely baboon barks. The constant pitch of the song of the cicadas, millions and millions of them, always together in an ensemble staging a white-noise concerto. Only when they heard the gunshots and the bombs did they call it a day.

In the ruins of a broken temple, now a makeshift infirmary in this time of conflict, there was nothing new about mortality. Skin and bone, organs surrendering, starvation and neglect, scratches and incidental bruising, the order of every bloody day.

He was found naked in the rainforest, already knocking on heaven’s door. She left him that way, such was his fever, let alone what was left of his black and blue body. Who was he? She hadn’t a blind clue. One thing she did know was that he was one of her own, an Englishman. Annoyingly, his age indeterminate, perhaps mid-thirties? His name? Fuck knows.

She sits at the end of his make-do bed offering circumspect words of sympathy spoken through a veil of guilty indifference. She was drained of all emotion, more so when talking to the unresponsive. False compassion would have to do. Long, long ago, or so it seemed, she’d tired of impending death all about her. There was nothing she could do to help. She could see it was his turn next, just not quite yet. Tomorrow most likely. Who knows?

Surprise! He stirred. Was it a death rattle? She couldn’t tell at first. Then, he spoke. It made her jump. He said he wanted his clothes. “What clothes? You arrived here as you are. Sorry about that,” her shameless, apathetic reply.

She left him for a moment, then returned bestowing her own sweat-ridden dressing gown. He bemoaned the fact that it was girly pink and likely too short. She explained it is all there is. “Take it or leave it.” He took it. Insisting he dressed himself, he almost succeeded yet his fragile grasp gave up on him. Even then he refused assistance. He stayed as he was.

Then, in her further absence, he spilled the water she had given him when his tumbler detonated on landing. His own trembling hands surprised him, he really thought they were still functional, hence his thirst endured. Where the fuck is she? He thinks to himself, ‘fiasco’. She’s ‘an accident waiting to happen’. Pointless cruelty had got the better of him.

As best he could, he inspected his scrawny legs. What had happened to his strong soldier’s legs? Muscle wastage meant ‘abort mission’; he remembered that.

On her return, he once and for all declined the garb on offer. Too much effort. Having calmed a little he tells her his life story. Unique to him; commonplace to her; she’s listened enough of it lately. To her, he was just another combatant, bereft of dignity, left to die. A jungle can never be a hospitable. That alone had her thinking, ‘Why waste my time when he’ll be dead shortly.’ At that she hated herself. There was a time when she’d do anything to save a life.

Later, after dusk, she gathered he is a poet-turned-conscript. A man in abstract. While listening to his ‘off and on’ strained voice, she wiped his brow. The word ‘epilogue’ came to mind. In the twinkling of an eye, he shut listless eyes and drifted away. For keeps. No fuss.’

Out of unfeigned guilt, she screamed for this God person she once trusted for help; to allow her just a single teardrop, for the soldier-come-poet. Nothing came. Whatever soul she had had hardened. Her belief in anything, zero. She wanted to be a human being again, but wars don’t permit that. Only when they carried his pulverised carcass away did she weep.

My new book, THE OUTRAGEOUS ‘MISS APRIL FOOL’ will be alive and out there very soon. It’s a ‘Risqué romance betwixt an English gentleman and an untamed provocative mademoiselle, both of them living within a time-travelling mystery born of an evil beast, to unravel.tome. Below, the book covers put together by my son, George. He’s done me proud

Un comentario sobre “MAN IN ABSTRACT

Deja una respuesta

Introduce tus datos o haz clic en un icono para iniciar sesión:

Logo de

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Salir /  Cambiar )

Foto de Facebook

Estás comentando usando tu cuenta de Facebook. Salir /  Cambiar )

Conectando a %s