Friday, 3 January 2014

The Well-Spoken Corpse

I have always been something of an obsessive walker. Rain, heat or dark, something feels wrong if I haven't got a few miles under my feet.

The time I'm thinking of it was an idyllic summer's evening and I walked a road as dusk was coming down on the chestnut trees, their leaves all dusty and the shadows under them were as the night. There was a rusty rail between me and the trees. The darkening grass was very long and seemed to be turning blue. I was hot and I could see the yellow lights of The Great Western Hotel and the idea of being in there and slaking my melancholy thirst was a very appealing idea except that I was only sixteen and even in those, the good old days, there was only so much you could get away with.

Home was still a long ways off, but as it happened, I did end up in the bar of that majestic country hotel that would suffer the ignoble fate, one day, of being turned into flats. It was getting very dark by now and I saw something that made me jump. There was a white spot like a boiled egg lying in the grass. Then I realised the egg was really the bald spot on the back of a man's head. When I made this connection, I jumped with fright. He was lying on his side, his body almost hidden by the grass. I climbed up onto the rusty rail for a closer look. I could see that he was wearing glasses except that they had been knocked from his eyes and were set at a weird angle running from forehead to cheek bone. He had a brown beard and there was blood on his lip. I had no idea what to do. There was no doubt in my mind. 

This man was surely dead.

I continued to stare at the dead man. There was no way that I was going to go anywhere near him. Who knows what a corpse lying in a field might do to an innocent sixteen year old boy. But I couldn't just leave him there either. The only thing for it was to hotfoot it to the hotel. Oh the blessed light coming from that boozy place of good cheer. But when I went through the old-fashioned wooden door and stepped into the convivial atmosphere of the bar the reaction of the barman wasn't what I expected. 

'Excuse me' I said. 'There's a man lying in the field. I think that he might be dead.'
'Gawd' said the barman. 'Not another one. You'll have to show us where he is.'

I led the way back to the place I had just come from. It was nearly full dark now and no-one could have seen the corpse but for the bald spot, the boiled egg still hanging on to the last vestiges of light. The barman clambered over the rail and pulled the corpse to his feet saying 'come on sunshine, time to get up.'

The corpse said 'it's a funny old world'. 

He was a very well-spoken corpse and I was inclined to agree with him.


  1. --Ha ha--this is really great. What a great title, too, for this!

    1. Well, thanks for reading Susan. I think that this one could be optioned for a film.



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