Sounds Of Darkness' by Jo Derrick
Until my last wife, I was happy.
Until my last wife I drank four pints of Adnam’s ale every night in The Old Ship Inn. I’d then amble out into the night and watch the pewter-coloured sea roll and heave like an old drunk.
“Lean into me, old friend. We can beat the wind,” I say to Arthur, who has been in the pub since five.
The beach has virtually disappeared and what’s left of it is uninviting; too wet, too grey, too slippery.
The old and the ancient emerge from the dusk. The Victorian hotels frown down upon the beach like proud patricians.
We light a fire on the beach. When it dies and night sweeps over us, we move on, staggering like old tramps towards the town.
“Listen!” says Arthur and stops us both dead in our tracks. “Hear that? That, my boy, is the sound of darkness going.”
I nod sagely. “Yeah, man. Darkness. Always goes eventually,” I say weaving my way along the main road.
“Fancy a last one in The Dungeness?” Arthur asks, fishing in his pockets for the last of his cash.
I grin. “Sure thing.”
We approach the bar. The landlady gives us a look that could kill. She’s about to call last orders.
“What’s it to be?”
We order whiskies and carry them to a table near the window and sit in silence before knocking them back in one hit.
Each summer, every summer, last summer. It’s the same routine.
We go back to Arthur’s flat. It’s not sex, nor love, although body fluids are involved. It satisfies. It’s good.
Later, much later, I stagger out into the dawn, before the beach tractors trundle down the sand ready for the day’s work.
One man sings, another man cries.