January 28, 2007

The Crane (3 of 19)

Thread: Alpha and Omega

Mr. Alpha said, ‘We should take a boat. Commandeer something.’ He moved the handkerchief to his face, something was brewing.

‘We don’t need a boat, boy. It’s a lovely day,’ Mr. Omega said.

They stood on the northern shore of the lake and although Waterhead pier was within reach, it was clear they weren’t going anywhere near it. The pier looked lonely at this time of the morning, dark and uninhabited, reaching out on wooden struts into Windermere to support ferry passengers that were yet to make an appearence. The lake’s choppy surface reflected the deep blue of a nude sky and hills splattered with greens of varying shades caressed its lateral shores into the distance. Ducks congregated near the Clothmen at the water’s edge, assuming they might receive nutritious gifts from the humans. The selfish bastards were already quacking disappointment that nothing had been offered yet.

‘Yes, it’s very blue, very cloudless and hence very cold. Have you heard of “wind chill factor”?’ Twitching inside his face; any moment now. His teeth chattered and he wanted to go back to the Ambleside hotel.

‘Whiney fucker. Call yourself a Clothman?’

‘You–‘ Mr. Alpha started and then sneezed.

Rather than offering ‘bless you’ or ‘gesundheit’, the old man took a step back and glowered. Don’t you even think about sneezing in this fucking direction.

Mr. Alpha blew his nose into an already sodden handkerchief. He could not grasp why, at the ripe age of 23, he had still not learnt to take a dozen handkerchiefs out with him instead of one when labouring under a cold. ‘We’re going to be late if we walk it,’ Mr. Alpha said, his voice nasal.

Mr. Omega clapped whilst maintaining his skilled scowl. ‘Bravo, bravo. Smart argument, boy. But considering the reason we’re fucking late already is that you couldn’t get your arse out of bed, I think the onus is on you to keep the pace up. Yeah?’

Mr. Alpha tightened a fist in response to the abuse. ‘Look, I needed a Lemsip before we left. This suit of yours is not the best for this sort of weather. I wouldn’t be in this state if you’d let me wear something decent.’

‘Will you just shut the fuck up about the coat? This was discussed ad infinitum yesterday.’ Mr. Omega scalded him with a fiery glare. Although Mr. Alpha had been popular at the school for his own fearful stare of despair, Mr. Omega’s gaze always raised goosebumps on his arms.

‘Okay,’ Mr. Alpha said, ‘let’s go.’ Another sneeze blasted its way out and the sudden throb of numbness around his beleaguered nose felt like his face had been blown off. He blew his nose again and something thick and massive invaded the hanky; for a second, he thought perhaps his nose really had come away.

As his hanky was already too far gone to be of any use he was stuck. Clutching the hanky to his face like he was some sort of amateur highwayman, a congested Dick Turpin, Mr. Alpha looked to his partner with a hand out expecting help.

Mr. Omega’s expression switched from glare to disgust, but said nothing.

‘Mate,’ Mr. Alpha said through his sodden highwayman disguise, ‘have you got a spare tissue or something?’

Mr. Omega walked away. Once he had put several metres between them, he shouted back, ‘Use some leaves. We’re in the countryside, shithead, improvise.’

Posted by: The Harbour Master @ 1930

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