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Alt 26 Temmuz 2012, 19:34   #11 (permalink)
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< 11 >
I propped myself up on my elbow, and cast a sceptical gaze through the darkness at him.

"Go on then, what is it?" I asked, and couldn't resist adding, "Summat strange and eerie, summat as will trouble my sleep?"

"Oh forget it, I knew you'd just start making fun ..."

"I'm sorry," I put in, quickly, knowing that I may have just deprived myself of at least an amusing diversion. Ross could take half an hour to win round from a refusal to spill the beans in cases like this.

"Just don't ..." he replied

After some persuading, Ross, who in fact wanted to get a second opinion on what he had seen, told me of the strange patch on Bill Smith's yard.

"I was round Bill's after school, before Mum got in. It was raining, and Bill didn't mind me waiting there," Ross told me.

"When I went into his yard, I saw this ... sort of shape on the ground, about two feet from Bill's back door. "

"Shape? What sort? Flying saucer shape? Ghost shape?"

-once again, I was pushing it, and I knew it, but Ross was particularly gullible when it came to this sort of thing. He had a huge collection of Ghost Story books, and for a few years read little else.

Ross pressed on, he was in his stride now, and wasn't going to be distracted by my poor attempts at humour.

"His yard was all wet, all the slabs, I know how wet, 'cos I nearly slipped as I walked down his path. Then, just a couple of feet from his back door, there's this patch which is completely dry. I stood there and looked at it. The rain was running down my nose, and down the back of my coat and soaking the backs of my legs, but ... this patch, about a foot and a half long, by about a foot wide - it was dry!"






Halbuki içimde senin aşkına dair öyle şarkılar söyleniyor ki.

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Alt 26 Temmuz 2012, 19:34   #12 (permalink)
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< 12 >
I thought his story preposterous. I couldn't see his face, but I could imagine it, his eyes staring widely at the ceiling, his mouth slightly agape. I kept my own counsel, I could at this point tell him what I thought, but I had jibed at him enough for one night. I decided to say nothing. A silence passed, and thickened as it did. I decided that if he pursued the matter, I would let him have a ribbing of epic proportions.

"What d'you think?" Ross asked eventually.

"It's obvious," I replied, "There must have been a hole in the rain clouds - probably one, oh - a foot by a foot and a half, what you saw ..."

But I didn't get chance to complete my smart response. He switched on his bedside lamp, and was sitting up looking at me, a furrow of concern on his forehead.

"Stop it! I know what I saw, I'm not making this up! It can't do that. Rain just can't leave a patch of dry!" Ross stood up, and walked slowly to the window, his hand near his mouth.

"When I knocked on Bill's door, I looked around, and this patch started to get spattered. By the time Bill actually opened the door, it was wet, just like all the rest of the yard."

"Did you tell Bill about it?" I asked, serious because of his agitation.

"No."

There was little further comment, it was late, and we both had to be up early next day. The business was forgotten, I gave it no more thought until perhaps two years later.

*

Part of my degree course was to interview people I knew, and try to create a documentary radio programme using my source material. As ever, I left it very late to attend to, and finally found my way to Bill's house in Victoria Street, armed with tape recorder and microphone.






Halbuki içimde senin aşkına dair öyle şarkılar söyleniyor ki.

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Alt 26 Temmuz 2012, 19:34   #13 (permalink)
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< 13 >
After an initial wariness, and several times being told that I wasn't recording when in fact I was, Bill relaxed a little, and started into his stories. I knew many of these almost by heart, and was able to coax him into telling familiar ones. Including the one about the shooting incident.

When he was a boy, Bill's family had a dog, a mongrel - no one in Basford in the early 1920s could have had any other sort of dog. It had been his older brother's originally, but his brother joined up to fight the Kaiser, and never returned from Flanders, so the dog had to adapt to Bill as a new companion.

Here it came, the story I was seeking - Bill's stories of the dog, how he had been hunting, shooting rabbits, and the dog had gone with him, how the dog had been present when, on an estate nearby, Bill had shot what at a rabbit moving in long grass, only to see a cat leap several feet into the air. To his horror, when the dead creature was found Bill realised that he had in fact shot dead the local vicar's cat. How the dog had won the day by the way it sat on the doorstep of the Parsonage as Bill made his explanation, how it looked more sorry than him. It had caught the eye of the vicar's wife, and had somehow softened the blow of the cat's death. The woman had commented, 'I could swear that dog is in mourning for our cat. If a dog could weep, well, you'd swear that 'un is weeping right now.'

There was an ironic fragment of truth in what the lady said.

The thing was, the dog only accepted Bill as a temporary companion - of course it did not understand the fact that Bill's brother was never coming home. It continued waiting for him. Waiting for the familiar footfall, waiting for the imminent return of a voice it knew and devotedly listened for. The dog regarded the present as a state of waiting. Its life was in a state of suspension - a kind of 'this will have to be got through until everything returns to the way it really should be'. Its pointless patience was matched only by its growing detachment from everything else.






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Alt 26 Temmuz 2012, 19:34   #14 (permalink)
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< 14 >
I sat with Bill for a couple of hours, and I ran out of tape. It was among the last times I ever visited him in his house, having left home myself - returning to Stoke only at holidays.

I took Bill up on his offer of a cup of tea before I left. There was snow on the ground outside, and the temperatures had plunged. I was shown through into the kitchen cum living area in the rear of his house, and looked again at the collected bits and pieces of this man's life.

The old radio with its bakelite casing and valves on a high shelf, the unsliced loaf on the table, the open fire, with a butter dish nearby and the photographs on the mantel.

Bill as a youngster,

Bill as a boy,

Bill's dog,

Bill's dog, lying in a dark yard, more than half a century ago. Lying near to a door. A narrow little yard.

"Typical of him, that was," Bill put in when he saw me looking at the picture again.

"Old Bram, he lay out there every day, come what ever the weather was, you know! He couldn't let go. Waited for Frank to come back. Waited until the day he died himself, that dog. He'd only move when I went and opened the back door, then he'd stroll in, and wait until he could go out and wait again."

Bill stood alongside me, and picked up the little frame. He looked down his nose at it.

"Do us a favour and pass us me glasses," Bill asked, "It'd take me half the day to get over there to get them. My bloody feet are no good to me these days, particularly in this weather."

I handed Bill his specs, and he peered at the dog, tutting to himself as he did so.






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Alt 26 Temmuz 2012, 19:34   #15 (permalink)
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< 15 >
"Aye, Old Bram, lying out in the yard. Waiting for his life to start up again." He shook his head, wistfully.

"Lay out yonder, just outside the door there. If you could see to the sides of the picture you'd see the yard hasn't changed all that much. Well, my mother kept the flower beds better than me ..."

I was surprised, I had always thought Bill's family had lived in Clare Street, a street up from this one.

"Oh, we did, but we moved when I was a baby. I can't remember ever living there."

I looked out of the window into Bill's back yard. I could see the back door. Bram had lain in this yard, just near to the door. Just a couple of feet from the door.

*

On my way home, stepping carefully through the ice and snow, I turned thoughts this way and that.

Ross and his patch of dry path in the rain.

Cats rarely went into Bill's yard.

Bingo's sudden halt in mid attack, and refusal to enter Bill's gate.

I thought of all of us.

Bill, living in his bubble in time, powered by old steam radio and Woodbines.

Bingo - wanting to attack the present, and curl up in his past.

I thought of myself, waiting for my life to start.

One day, I thought, one day, things will be different for me. But only if I make it so. I was no longer a boy, but I still thought like one. I still thought of myself as one. I took myself terribly seriously, but knew deep within, that no one else did. I kept trying to re-invent myself, but I never created a me that could last more than a few months, then it was back to this ... boy.






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Alt 26 Temmuz 2012, 19:34   #16 (permalink)
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< 16 >
How far was I willing to let go and move on?

Perhaps I might find myself a comfortable place, and lie there, and forever wait for the footfalls of my destiny to come and find me. But it could, I thought, take a long time - a lifetime of waiting. Did I want to wait like Bram still did?

Because he still did.

Through winters, through summers - fifty odd of them.

Bram still waited out there.






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