Felix’s Fortress, Land’s End (Forever Ago)
M C Alves
“Nothing had ever obliged him to do anything. He had spent his childhood alone. He never joined any group. He never pursued a course of study. He never belonged to a crowd. The circumstances of his life were marked by that strange but rather common phenomenon – perhaps, in fact, it’s true for all lives – of being tailored to the image and likeness of his instincts, which tended towards inertia and withdrawal.”
—Fernando Pessoa, from the Preface of The Book of Disquiet
Disquietude. The soul’s silent center. The white noise of the psyche. One can feel this silent whisper in the wind, at times, along the narrow alleys here at Land’s End. Incongruous, contrasting the elan from the surroundings. Along the beach head, the Last Stop of the World, back when the world was flat, this disquietude took hold and haunts still. Far inside, deep within.
The dogs pay no attention to the master’s misgivings, the swallows even less. The alleys of the Old City have many secrets, no longer of interest, long since forgotten. Earth’s Cul d’Sac, where all remains unknown. Nothing to kill or die for, no lie worth telling, no truth which will allow itself be told. Only poetry remains.
Sunday morning comin’ down, softly. Waves thrashing upon the quays. From the Old Church, where ancient fishermen’s wives huddle now and again still, the bells toll. A chipper little ditty, a cherubic Franciscan in a hairy hassock perhaps, playfully pulling on the ropes. Palm Sunday in the House the Templar’s Built. Send in the palms. Bring on the fronds. Can the burro be far behind? In spite of disquietude, for once at least, serenity washes over the alleys and the sound of crashing waves down in the distance. Sunday morning coming down, softly.
A one-legged man makes his way down an avenue, resolute, adept with his crutches, almost effortless march, a man who has done this forever, one who has accepted and adapted to the missing leg. Someone sitting at a cafe calls out, with mirth in his tone: ‘Sebastian! You’re getting fat!’
Napolean, the mangy dog, patrols the esplanade, as he does every day, answers to no man. Hook a brother up.
Youth. Some guys go to school. Some guys go to sea. Some guys go to jail. Discretion, valor, courage, stupidity. Often confused. But there are motlier crews to be found than the lot at D’Artagnans’ pub, a press-ganged crew that absconded with the rudder. No longer young, Lenny rides in his wheelchair, when he is not pushing it himself, proud of being respected in both North and South London, never at a loss for a word, quicksilver wit. Once one of Fagan’s boys. Says everyone should get a wheelchair. Otto, a Last Viking, once of Copenhagen, claims to have been a tanker captain. No one believes him. Not even the tourists. Closer to the truth would be the reason(s) he gives for the three years he spent in Berlin’s slammer(s). A louder popcorn-fart of a man will not be found easily. His is the rustbucket Mercedes-Benz van driven aground in the Old Gypsy Market. His dog’s name is Benny. He is suspected of telepathy. The tea is from Thailand. The hash is from Morocco.
Anchors aweigh. Sunday morning coming down, softly. Up from Land’s End, navigating the entwined alleys of the Old City, gingerly on the cobblestones, slowly meandering past the many ancient chalet’s, ramshackle but standing, cracked but upright, most all shutters closed until their owners finally return from The Crusades. They have been waiting several centuries. They are keeping the faith. In one of the many shuttered windows if you glance carelessly you will note a shadow. Appears to be the form of a cat, a child’s forgotten teddy, an owner’s requiem. Coming closer you will at some point note that the shadow is watching you. Brown eyes, the color of red clay. Long, gnarled fur, fuzzy, speckled with old dust and grey ash, motionless, comfortable behind the glass. He is not a castaway, he is not a refugee. This castle is his. He likes living alone, Felix does. Fears no dog. Shows no sign of disquietude, this feline. He seems to know the secrets. But he is not telling. No one is asking. Sunday morning coming down, softly, at Land’s End. Back when the world was flat … (to be continued)
Bio: M C Alves is a freelance writer and contributor to various publications. A former journalist he is author of a collection of short fiction and has written two books on Information Technology. He lives in New York City.