Man’s Willing Accomplice
by A.C. Smith
Doule had to go. A sneaky, slithering serpent who, even under a carpet, wouldn’t exhibit a lump. Hated no more than by Jemmy Jessop.
No easy despatch, for cunning was he, smelling danger at noonday and saw a plotter in the filament of every shadow. Always armed, Doule was a lethal marksman and unerringly accurate with a flick-knife.
Jessop was obese and considered slow of wit. He loathed Doule not merely because of the years of teasing at school or the false rumours spread about his sexuality but the theft of the one friend life had bequeathed him, a wiry border collie/kelpie rescue dog, “Alex”.
He had no proof that Doule was the culprit. Merely strong suspicion after a question saw those irksome eyes bore, mouth curl and yellow teeth spitting, ‘Prove it and die.’
He tried it all: spying on Doule’s miserable abode, and, when that proved fruitless, following him. Never had such a fiend led man to so many subterranean places. Gambling dives, opium dens, bawdy houses, and then homes where Doule preyed on lonely, susceptible widows.
Jessop’s disarming approach to the presentable occupant of one tidy riverside house frequented most by his Nemesis faltered at, ‘Yes, are you lost?’ The riddle of Doule entering but never leaving by the front gate, confounded him, the hours of surveillance crushing.
Six months was enough. Jemmy entered a New Farm pet shop near his flat to look for another dog. It was directly over the other side of the river from the lady’s home. There he spied Doule buying dog biscuits and straightaway his spirits lifted. Doule looked about furtively, as if Jessop’s presence had triggered a sixth sense. Not being seen by his enemy was a feat that not long ago would have been impossible. Pining over his friend he shed fifty pounds. Sliding under the rack storing pet food was easy. Not so simple was following him.
And then, late one night, Alex, dripping wet and dragging a frayed rope, arrived at Jessop’s door. He swept up the thin form. ‘Where’s Doule?’ and away they went. At the river, Alex jumped into the dingy tied to a pontoon.
The Doule solution lay in water and Alex was up for it. “You know what to do, don’t you boy?” He gave an insightful yelp.
‘Bastard outboard,’ the drunken Doule screamed, exasperated at the disabled motor and took to oars. About halfway across, he heard Jessop’s call and recoiled in horror as the dog sprang, tipping him out of the boat.
Doule never surfaced. Alex did, with barely a pant, shook himself, licked Jemmy and they walked home.
I KEEP THE NIGHT by A.C. Smith
My mind mingles with the night;
It hides and leaps amongst its shadows
Dodging, weaving, avoiding light,
It keeps the night.
My spirit clings to the night,
For there is none to greet the day,
On setting sun it will ignite,
It keeps the night.
My thoughts breathe with the night,
For they are dark and unseen
Grappling with all that’s wrong and right,
They keep the night.
My life leaves like the night,
A puny vessel ploughing the sea
That cried alone and reached no height
And is gone with the night.
UNHEARD by A.C. Smith
That silence skimmed the evening hills
Wore no furrows where the plough had run;
That dusk birds fled before its face
Found no ripple on the thumping waters;
That blood should drown the foals at flank
Was swallowed by the blanket of black
And wholesome flesh burnt
To cinderous dust.
That spirits few across the southern sea,
Some would feel them by waters’ edge
Some on golden ground would not tell
Some would find its image in hell.
That silence screamed above the milling mob
Brooked a wafer trail in its wake.
THE DARK SIDE OF SUNDAY by A.C. Smith
He was drained of strength,
Like a lifeless mass of tea leaves;
And lights suspended from a chasmic sky
This rush to nowhere
Like a spent clip of cartridges,
Fired little inner imagination
For feelings were not meant
To brave any heart beyond the wind.
Only time came before death’s call,
Its icy vines wound around
Like chains on a sea chest
Locked away forever
That sacred saying willed to see
This crushed force inside of me.