Shooting The Breeze With The Devil
‘Shooting The Breeze With The Devil On Bexhill Beach’ .
The view from my gondola
drifting high over Malham Tarn,
in the early morning sun
was more than spectacular.
I focussed my spyglass on a toiling couple
heaving a wicker bath chair up a grassy slope,
its passenger, a elderly gent in a panama,
sat patiently strumming a guitar.
On reaching the top,
and taking a moment to recover their breath,
the couple rushed to the cliff face,
tipping the chair, its contents,
old man, guitar,
over the edge of the limestone pavement.
Strolling by the Hull Marina,
onto the pier, past the Minerva,
I heard a buckled wheelchair in need of oiling
and the same cursing couple pushing.
Its occupant, an off-white suited gentleman,
raised his panama in greeting,
and held out a juicy Adam’s Pearmain,
“Try my apple? It’s organic, grew it myself”
He shrugged and swept his arms wide
admiring the Humber vista
and barked at his flunkies, demanding,
”A better look at ‘The Deep’!”
The pushing woman wiped the pushing man’s
forehead with a fig leaf kerchief,
they chuckled in anticipation
of their imminent emancipation.
“Your wish is our command.”
At the top of the *‘Oss Wash’ they shoved the chair
and jumped for joy as,
slow at first, but gaining speed,
it trundled the ramp
till swept out of sight by a running tide.
Little trace remained, no man, no chair,
just a bobbing Permain and a panama boater.
I strolled the promenade at Bexhill-On-Sea
enjoying the tap tapping
of my silver handled ashplant
and pondering an ice cream.
The three were just ahead,
still pushing, still cursing,
but heaving now,
the bath chair lurching –
a naked axle prong gouged the ground.
The passenger, same man as before,
smoking a Cohiba,
pointed at the beach with his cigar,
“More ozone! Carry me over the stones.”
They tipped him face first onto the beach,
dumped the bath chair
in a water feature just off the pier
and promptly disappeared.
Despite my discomfort from a bodged hip op,
I limped across to offer assistance.
The unsteady old man regained his feet,
shook sand from a threadbare Argyll rug,
dusted grit from his fraying stained
one-time white linen suit,
straightened his petal-bare buttonhole
“Monsieur, a deck chair, s’il vous plaît?”
As I lifted two from a handy stack
and rested a while to ease my back
a sudden dust devil sprung up
ripping the canvas from my grip.
The old man thought it all a hoot,
and shooting a finger gun,
In shrill Navajo – or so he claimed –
commanded the chiindii,
The wind faded away.
We sat together, watching the setting sun,
two ancients sharing our stories,
shooting the breeze – as one.
I asked him about Malham, and the ‘Oss Wash’ incident,
he sighed and replied,
“Bear with me,
there have been so many assassinations
I can’t recall them all.
They try to kill me, they fail,
Then try again, they never give up.
It does not concern me
I accept it’s a necessary therapy.”
He opened a humidor and passed a Cohiba
amid columns of smoke rings stabbing the sky
I inhaled hints of virgin thigh.
I probed for answers to enduring questions;
Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden,
hell and heaven, the crucifixion,
he neatly side-stepped every one.
A burning issue nagged at me,
something needed clarifying,
I had to know.
He read my mind,
“I’ll tell you later – when I go.”
His companions returned, reviling him
hurling apple cores from a trug,
he brushed his lap rug clear of fruit
stood at attention, despite his back,
saluted and marched from the sand.
He smirked at the sight of the sunken bath chair,
put his arms around his tormentors’ shoulders.
“I am become the Ancient of Days –
you must carry me now… and always.”
He turned, tipping his panama,
“Don’t believe everything they tell you, Companero,
Havana ran short of virgins, many years ago.”
* ‘Oss Wash’ = A ramp leading into the Humber used by wagoners to cool and wash their horses.
© coolhermit 2023