Monday, 4 March 2013
The Angels of Sandyway Beach: Parts 1 and 2
Sandyway Beach was a little town with no more ambition than the frogs which sang it to sleep at night. It hadn’t really changed that much in the two hundred years it had been in existence but still it was a nice little place to be born, live and die in.
Visitors were few and far between given that it was so far off of the beaten track; the ones who did turn up tended to be lost or pretended that they were when they found they’d driven all that way just to turn up there.
But if you could see the beauty in the place and not ask too much out of life then it was a perfect place to waste away your days.
Wars had been declared and settled, rulers had come and gone, storms had kicked up a fuss and died down again and all of them had never come close to The Beach.
Perhaps the universe was saving up all the town’s triumphs and disasters for one throw of the dice and perhaps that throw came in the shape of Clive Otterman.
Clive had once been a strong, fit man who could take on anything and come good, but little by little, bit by bit, life kicked the crap out of him until he held up his heart in surrender and decided to see out his days just sitting by the sea. He felt that life wouldn’t come looking for him under these circumstances; it would pass over like the angels in the Bible and smite some other sucker.
I guess Clive had always underestimated life, in the way that we all do, because fate doesn’t always attack in big slashes and stabs - sometimes it kills by a thousand cuts and life and fate weren’t done with Clive yet.
He’d lived long enough to know that life sometimes worked in mysterious way, truly mysterious ways – not Biblical, just those little surprises which sometimes happened at the right time to the right people. That’s what occurred with Tommy Speak, who was the man who lived on the beach and whom life had decided was ready for a little miracle.
If one word was used to describe Tommy it was ‘ordinary’ – in the way that all animals clinging to a rock circling the Sun are ordinary. His school report called him a normal kid, nothing outstanding. His Geography teacher had written ‘ordinary’ and left it at that. Except what is ordinary today could have been considered exceptional many years before. If an ordinary man had stood in the middle of the American Civil War with a camera/phone he would have been considered anything but ordinary. But look what you’ve made me do - I’m well off the story. So Tommy was the most ordinary person you could ever meet.
Then Tommy met Clive and the rest, as they say, is one huge, confusing mess.
I’m not telling you here and now that Clive and Tommy were somehow called on by Heaven to do what they did, I’m just trying to say that from where I was standing it very much looked that way.
Tommy never really asked for normal in his life, it was just the way he was put together and I never really knew if Tommy was just plain lucky or if the universe liked him so much that it gave him a helping hand from time to time.
One night, just before he headed back to the beach, Tommy lifted what he thought was his jacket - but in fact it turned out to be the jacket of one Jeremiah Andrews. I think that the fact the label inside said ‘Property of Jeremiah Andrews’ would have been the giveaway.
That was the Grande Night everyone in town had been at the hall for a jig to thank the Founding Fathers for putting Sandyway Beach exactly where it should be – in the perfect location. Needless to say, Tommy had been drinking Archie’s famous Crab Beach Brew and this left him with the feeling like he could take on the world.
There had been stories passed around town for years about the kind of business that Jeremiah was operating; it covered everything from diamond smuggling to selling donkey meat to the Mexicans and everything in between. To be truthful, those were actually some of the better Jeremiah stories; as the others would have made your hair stand on end – assuming that you had hair - that is.
Tommy swayed and swaggered his way down the cliff path towards the beach, something he had accomplished in many conditions (sometimes it was him, sometimes it was the weather, sometimes it was both). He could do it with the eyes closed and he normally did, but this night he had a strange feeling that he was being watched. I think most folks have got that ability to know when pair of eyes are drilling into the back of their heads.
Suddenly right in front of him, like an apparition, was Everard Smithton.
“Howdee, Tomaso,” as that was the way Everard liked to talk.
“You almost made my hair turn white, Everard,” screamed Tommy who didn’t have any hair.
“Sorry Tomaso but I hate walking back this way alone, especially with that thing on the loose,” said Everard in an accent that was hard to pinpoint (and I’m talking about a continent, never mind narrowing it down to a country).
“What thing?” Asked Tommy, who actually wasn’t really caring.
“I don’t suppose you’ve got a smoke?” Asked Everard.
Now here’s the funny thing, Tommy didn’t smoke but he immediately reached into the top pocket of Jeremiah’s jacket and there were cigarettes and a lighter.
“Well I’ll be....” said Tommy and handed the stuff over to Everard.
“Much obliged,” said Everard as he lit his cigarette.
The two of them were just jumping from the last rock on the sandy beach when the thing that had gotten loose moved towards them.
“What are those two eyes?” Asked Everard, nervously
“Well, my guess is that they’re two eyes,” said Tommy sarcastically (Crab Brew always made him sarcastic).
Then the moonlight caught the animal full on. It was a leopard which had escaped from Fanny Gaslight’s Victorian Circus which was exhibiting at Seapoint, two towns over. The leopard was stealthy crawling towards them, the way that cats do just before they go in for the kill.
As the leopard started to charge, Tommy went into the right pocket of Jeremiah’s jacket and there was a pistol which he pulled out and shot at the leopard. Tommy missed but the leopard wasn’t hanging around to try again.
“Well I’ll be..” said Tommy.
When they got to Everard’s caravan, they said goodnight and Tommy and his pistol headed for his home on the beach.
On the other side of town, Jeremiah Andrews was just getting out of his truck when a large leopard jumped him. He went into his right pocket to get his pistol and the last thing that went through his mind was: why had he just pulled out a half-eaten sandwich (one that Tommy had left in his jacket for the walk home). By the time Jeremiah got to hospital he was stone cold dead.
As Tommy entered his boat-on-the-beach which he called home, he put his hand in his left pocket thinking the key would be there and in fact found several thousand dollars all tied up with string.
“We’ll I’ll be...” said Tommy, realising this had been one of his better days.
bobby stevenson 2013