Excerpts ~ Fresh from the Sea


The seawall or sea defence, whatever you cared to call it, was ugly, a long lumbering beast hunching the shore. Local folk referred to it as the Devil’s Pier, a necessary evil guarding land from sea.

Linval Larkin began to mentally prepare for the sight of it as he approached the Crab and Lobster Public House, at the end of the narrow cobbled street he was walking along on a fine June morning. A burst of sea view and then mere yards later there it was. He stopped in his tracks, the early morning sunshine resting on his shoulders.

No amount of mental bracing ever prevented the surge of distaste when Lin sighted the beast. Domineering, it dragged one's eyes away from the tiny beach and the pretty harbour nestling beneath the sheltering cliffs. He hated it, but kept telling himself he’d get used to it. One day he’d get used to it and even learn to love it, or at least grow more kindly disposed towards it.

Every morning, time, weather and his partner David permitting, he walked across the little beach, traversing a natural collection of rocks and boulders before climbing the unnatural stone steps leading up and onto the seawall itself.
The metal safety rails spiked in the beast's back did nothing to instil confidence in him. He still walked its length with trembling knees because he was terrified of heights.

Reaching its head he’d stand for a few moments, staring out across the bay, the breeze lifting his hair. It was more a cove than a bay, a sweet curved little cove, which embraced the sea as it slid in, cradling it tenderly until it slid back out again taking the little fishing boats, the cobles, that went out to fish for whatever was in season. The handful of cobles bobbing the harbour, bravely painted and named, were the last stubborn remnants of a once prosperous fishing fleet.

The wall was necessary. Lin inwardly repeated this fact for the millionth time, as he climbed up the steps and carefully prowled his way along it, not looking down. It was necessary because the sea wasn’t always sweetly dispositional. Bipolar, it could purr one day and snarl and rage another, sinking angry claws into the coastline, ripping away chunks of land along with whatever stood on it.

Wrapping his arms about himself he turned his face to the wind, licking salt sea kisses from his lips, his mind busily trying to convince his emotions he would one day grow used to the huge man made structure, this mountain of rock armour and pre-cast concrete accropodes.

One day its glaring falsity would weather down into something more natural, something that didn’t violate the childhood landscape he still held in his mind.
He ran his hands along the rails as if hoping to find some point of connection, some affinity with the bulky creature employed to safeguard Stanes from the encroaching sea. The rails were as cold and hard as the heart of a religious fundamentalist. He was no closer to forming a relationship with it than he had been at its inception. 
 

Copyright material Fabian Black 2011

 

 “God, that bloody man can rattle on. I thought I was never going to get away.” Lin stumped back into the kitchen, slamming the tray onto the kitchen table.


“Put the tray back where it belongs without banging it. I hope you were pleasant in there? People don’t pay good money to have you be rude to them. This isn’t Fawlty Towers.”


Linval blew out his cheeks. “Fear not, Sybil, I was courtesy itself. I stood there smiling and nodding like a rear window car ornament, as he stuffed toast into one half of his gob and prattled out of the other. Did you notice he's wearing socks with his flip-flops? Bad enough with bloody sandals, but flip-flops! He's cut holes in them where the toe post fits. He's a fucking disgrace. I don't know how she can bear to be seen with him. I mean she's hardly haut couture, but at least she's presentable.”


“What he wears is none of your business. He comes here to relax not take part in a fashion show. Stanes is hardly the French Riviera. Socks with sandals are standard around here, so leave the man alone.”


David turned his attention to packing up the lunch he’d prepared. He slipped neat triangles of wholemeal bread filled with seasoned fresh crabmeat into a sandwich box, garnishing them with yellow and red cherry tomatoes picked from the greenhouse.


“We need more scones,” he carefully packed Stilton and salmon tartlets into another box. “Do you want me to knock up a batch or would you prefer to do it?”


“You do it. I know you want to.” Lin flicked strands of sand gold hair out of his eyes, watching sullenly as David split and buttered the last two scones, filling them with homemade gooseberry preserve before parcelling them into yet another box, along with a pot of thick clotted cream. “I’m not in a baking mood. Just make sure you don’t over knead the dough, or they’ll be dry and tough. You don’t have to pummel it into submission, be gentle, remember you’re baking scones not casting clay pots.”


“Thank you, you made your point.” David put the boxed repast into a backpack. “There’s no need to labour it and I don’t want you hovering over me when I’m making them.”

"If you did it right I wouldn't have to hover."


Ignoring the slight on his scone making ability David made a flask of milky coffee and added some fruit to complete the requested packed lunch. “Do you think it’s enough?”


“Enough for normal people yes.” Lin walked to the open door. Folding his arms he leaned against the doorjamb, viewing the garden. “Porky Prescott might disagree.” He glanced over his shoulder, “know what, I don’t believe they’re a childless couple at all. The big greedy bugger probably ate the kids when the poor cow wasn’t looking. If he continues to patronise our establishment we’ll be running at a loss.”


“Behave, Lin. I'm sick of hearing you gripe and bitch, put a lid on it. I won’t tell you again.”


“Good, suits me.” Unfolding his arms Lin stormed across to the windowsill where the CD player stood, savagely stabbing a finger on the off button. “I hate singing fucking fish. There’s not one of them can do a decent cover of a Lady Gaga single.”


“Thank heavens for small mercies and whales are mammals, not fish. I was listening to it, so it was rude of you to turn it off.”


"It was getting on my nerves. You only listen to it because the bloke who gave you it fancied you."


"He did nothing of the sort, and he gave it to both of us not just me. I listen to it because I like it and you should have asked before turning it off." Grasping Lin's arm David towed him over to the kitchen table. Pulling out a chair he thrust him down onto its seat. “You're still sulking about this morning and you have no right, none at all.”


Placing one hand on the table and the other on the back of the chair he leaned towards Lin, his navy eyes glittering with a dangerous light.

 

Copyright Material Fabian Black 2011 

 

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