A tale of seaside resorts and crazy golf, It's a reminder that life has a habit of letting you down.
Even after you die.
by Stephen Walker
Born March 9th 2000. Died September 10th 2013.
A beloved daughter.
Rest In Peace.
A hand bursts through the soil.
Another hand bursts through the soil.
And Abigail Meadows is free of the grave.
I'm Abigail Meadows and I know what I want.
What I don't know is how to get it.
So I walk the promenade of what used to be my home town, looking for him.
Is he here?
It's the sort of place he might be, hidden in full view, among the milling throng.
But I don't see him this night, not amongst all the people ignoring the illuminations that're the only reason to be here this time of year.
What I do see is people in a new light. Always letting you down. Never being what you want them to be. Faceless. Pretenders. Fakes and Phonies. Never being what they really are.
I see a man lying dead on the road, having just been hit by a tram, the town's illuminations reflected in his blood as it trickles from his mouth and slowly spreads across the tarmac. Welcome to the club, matey.
But he's not here - the one I want.
I reach the start of the pier. A quick glance tells me he's not on it.
I look across the road, at the amusement park and the roller coaster that rises above it like an anorexic Godzilla. And, this time of year, this time of night, the town looks like nothing else but a ghost of what it claims to be.
Early morning, I find it, the big glasshouse with a café inside whose seats are for 'patrons' only.
I'm not interested in that. I'm interested in what's behind it; the square crazy-golf course that doesn't have any craziness about it.
And there I spot him, the boy, sat on one of the benches that surround the golf course so you can sit and watch people having more fun than you are.
Well, matey, you might elude all others but not much gets past the dead.
I let my backside hit the bench with a force that can't fail to let any observer know I'm not a happy bunny.
I'm now sat beside the boy.
He looks like he's the same age as me but he doesn't look like I expected him to. On the other hand, he also looks exactly like I expected him to.
Whatever his appearance, he's clearly more interested in the people playing crazy-golf than he is in me.
So, lower lip jutted, I watch them too.
I watch them a moment more.
And then a moment more.
I watch them a moment more.
And then, at last, I say it. 'People! For God's sake! What's up with them?'
He doesn't tell me what's up with them.
So I tell him what's up with them. 'Stood there playing crazy-golf when there's a billion different tragedies going on in the world around them.'
'It's not crazy-golf!' a man with a putter shouts back at me.
'It's not crazy-golf! It's miniature golf! Now can you belt up and let people play?!?'
'Well, what's the difference?'
'There's no obstacles! There's no windmills! There's no clown's mouths! Just holes to knock the balls into!'
'Then what's the point of that?'
'It's more grown up!
'Grown up.' I tut at the boy beside me. 'Grown up. And there's not even a windmill.'
He doesn't respond.
So I lean over a wrought-iron arm rest and look down at the ground directly beside the bench.
My frown deepens at what I see.
'I mean,' I tell him, 'look at that. Look at that that maggoty thing down there, being carried off by that ant. Just think how it must be feeling right now. And do they care? Do they eckerslike.'
I shout at the golfers, 'Get off your arses and save that thing, you bone idle-.'
None of them do.
So I again address the boy sat beside me. I say, 'I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, if I care that much, why don't I save it? Well, I don't care that much. Know why? It's because I'm a thing of twisted evil and an affront to nature. Look at these fingernails, matey. Look at the dirt beneath them. You know where I got that from? It wasn't from gardening. Never garden. Two rules in life. Never garden and never go angling.
'No,' I say. 'It came from digging myself out. “Digging yourself out of what?” I hear you cry. Digging myself out of the grave.
'You see, I used to be “people” too – just like them. Maybe I still am. I don't know. Do I look like “people” to you? Or do I look like something else?'
He doesn't tell me.
I start to wonder if he can hear me.
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