Monday, February 7, 2011

For Trees Have No Tongues (Muse 4) (Part 2 of 2)

First Muse Part 1
First Muse Part 2
Deep Sleep, Deep Space, Deep Shit
Reluctant Titans Part 1
Reluctant Titans Part 2
Fuck Origami
Ein Plein Air Part 1
Ein Plein Air Part 2

What magic wends its way beneath dew-dropped whispering oaks. Their sighs sing soft to lover's strokes. Dew-dropped as they mirror lustful perspiration on pale skin. Pliant and serene, they sing a sweet arboreal serenade.

He's on the porch in early morning light drawing the tree where a young man once was hanged, unaware of its significance but enamoured, ironically by the beauty of strangling Wisteria around its trunk. Lilac flowers hang heavy like ripened grapes. He hears someone approach. A sulky. A single horse and lone driver, kicking up dust. He rises to his feet and his heart gives way to joy, then disappointment as he notes a mature man, someone he's never met, draw to a halt at his front gate.

"Mr Cartwright?" the man is tall and greying. Well turned out and oozing new money. The horse is petite and well bred, the sulky gleaming and new. "Er yes Sir, and you are?" The stranger begs his pardon and asks if he might present a proposition to Cartwright and introductions are made. "I'm Jonathon Vale. I live in Richmond and pretty well known in these parts. I breed driving horses and raise sheep in the Kurrajong Valley". The men shake hands and Jeremy invites him to sit. "This might seem a little odd but I have a proposition for you." Jeremy is intrigued and begs him to continue.

"You  recently travelled on the Cobb and Co coach from Bathurst and struck up a bit of a friendship with my wife, Eliza." Jeremy maintains composure while within his chest his heart races at the mention of her name and sinks with the dismay that she is taken. He had no idea his companion was married and now feels guilt for the lust he'd felt. Why she had not contacted him now becomes clearer. "Your wife? Well yes, we did strike a few conversations on the road." The grey man continues, "My wife was taken with you. She about you and the trip quite often. She liked your gentleness, your companionship and your talent as an artist. And you've probably already noticed, she's much younger than me and has," he pauses to think of the right word 'er needs.' Jeremy is perplexed and confused about where this conversation is going. "Mr Cartwright, I'm a wealthy man. I have considerable holdings and have amassed a considerable fortune but I have no famil, no heir. Eliza wants for nothing except . . " he tries to discreetly mouth the words, " she needs more intimacy than I can give her and frankly, I need a child." Jeremy now feels that this is far too much information from a man he's never met and tries to interrupt. Vale is persistent and commanding as he continues his conversation, "the crux of the issue is that I'd like you to seduce my wife. I'll pay you two thousand pounds." This time Jeremy does interrupt, "Vale, I . . " The volume of his voice drowned by the forceful presentation of his visitor.

"Please! Hear me out." Vale continues. "She's aware that I've come to see you today. We've spoken long and hard about this but there's codicil to this agreement. She mustn't know that you're being paid, nor must she know that you will disappear once she's pregnant.  I'm willing to let her take a lover, I'm willing to let her have another man's child and I'll call it my own but I can't allow the relationship to continue once she's conceived. Do you understand? If you accept my offer, you have to disappear and never contact her again.  Take your time with your affair but depart once she returns to me.  I'm asikng you to take Eliza as a lover, get her pregnant, treat here well, give her the things she wants and me the heir I need and then vanish."

Jeremy is speechless, all this swimming in his head and waiting for the catch.  "But Vale . ." Jeremy is once again cut down. "I don't want to talk about this any more, it's painful thinking about Eliza with another man but I've worked too hard, built too much to get where I am just to let it to fall through my fingers and into the hands of Government or Squatters.  Besides, she's young and in need more than I can offer in the bedroom.  Take it! Take the money!" He places a wad of notes on the rough table. "Do we have a deal?". Jeremy is fazed. He's long dreamed of a liaison with Eliza but had never imagined it would be under such circumstances.. A wanderer at heart, he thinks about the implications of leaving Maeve's farm. Caretakers are available, the money would allow him to travel and he has the opportunity to bed the woman of his dreams. Is this the time for morals ans scruples? It appears not. He counts the cash. "We have a deal Mr Vale." Solemnly Vale shakes Jeremy's hand but makes no eye contact. He is clearly perturbed by his own suggestion and withdraws politely, leaving an elated, and slightly bewildered potential lover in his wake.

Jeremy trails towards the sandy bank of the Colo River, guided by Vale's map.  Sure enough, she is there. He's come prepared canvas and easel in hand and a small folding stool. She hears his footfall and turns from her easel, "Jeremy?" He smiles and removes his cap, "Eliza, Vale told me you'd be here. Can I join you?" She asks that they don't mention Jonathon, these times should be for them, as far as she's concerned she will take a lover and has no knowledge of the plan for his departure once she conceives.  Reintroduced, they sit, painting the she-oaks on the bank which form stark green contrast to the layered hues of golden sandstone. The filigree trees whisper their sweet seduction. "I was hoping to have seen you before now," he says, "I gave you my address, why didn't you contact me earlier?" Eliza turns. "Do you know what it's like to be married all these years and never feel the touch of your lover?" Not quite the response he had expected, Jeremy feels a pang for her as her tears well.  He's sure she cares about Vale and actually fulfilling his obligation to both Eliza and her desperate husband is not going to be easy given his own enamour. "No, I'm sorry Eliza, I can't imagine," and he brushes an errant curl from her brow. She smiles and kisses his cheek. The seduction begins but it will take time.

Hand in hand they walk along the shallows, shoes in hand and wade carelessly in the clear waters of the stream.  "Have you ever had your portrait painted?" he asks on one of these riverside walks. She replies in the negative and he expresses an urge to try, "I'd like to paint you, out here in the open," She looks down at her soaked feet and agrees. The sun is warm, the spot secluded. She rests relaxed against the trunk of a tree so gnarled it's branches reach perpendicular over the shallows. "Here?" She asks. He positions her in a pose he likes and gently tugs the neckline of her dress revealing alabaster shoulders which immediately turn him on.  Although the word's are unspoken she knows he wants more flesh revealed and twists to give him access to the buttons on her bodice. Her provocation is unexpected but he's prepared and slides the bodice to her waist. She doesn't resist. His fingers glide over both shoulders then breasts, thumbs massage her nipples as she throws back her head exposing a delicious throat. Lips find neck and then tongues as she unbuttons his shirt. He is no longer in control as she forces him to lay into the grass and lifts her skirt straddling his hips without letting him enter. Thighs bared he's losing control and more than likes it. She runs her tongue across his chest, arms reaching up to massage his shoulders and he is powerless to stop her.  The trees have no tongues but they see all as two bodies combine.  Like Crossan's daughter in the orchard, she is receptive as a ripened peach and allows him in. Sweetly but with purpose there's an urgency to her needs. Hands guided by each other, tender yet knowing in their purpose, the scene plays out to the point of exhaustion and both are replete.  Not wanting to move, she folds onto his chest, wild locks splayed loose across his skin.

There are other encounters over ensuing weeks. Some mechanical and contrived, others romantic and unforced but he is always aware that her motive is not love and guards his feelings. But not enough. He is smitten and wants her more than he's wanted any woman. He watches her sleep beside him, the curve from shoulder to hip invisibly traced with wanton eyes. Her breathing slow and steady in the half light of dawn. He wants to keep her, always. She rolls at the touch of his breath and opens sleepy eyes. His hand strokes from sternum to her now slightly swollen belly. "Eliza, stay . . I have money, I have property and now I have a child on the way. Fuck Vale, stay with me."  She props herself up on her elbows, shameless in her nudity and her expression begins to change. "Jeremy you knew this couldn't go on. You knew this was a happy arrangement. He's my husband, my benefactor, my mentor. He's everything to me. I love you but I'm not 'in love' with you. I have to go back, I want to go back, I need to go back." She begins to talk of how he'll find someone else and get over her . . .the room spins and he is rendered momentarily deaf.

Words he knows to be true slice mercilessly through his soul. He's been kidding himself for weeks but hearing the words spoken hits like shook lightening. Flowers fade before his eyes and the welcoming room becomes a cage. He throws back the covers, dresses hurriedly and walks into the crisp morning air to clear his head. He finds himself beside the Wisteria covered tree and feels just as suffocated by her pragmatism. He didn't expect to feel this way.

By the time he returns, she's gone.

Archie Moore is a henchman, there's no other word for his thuggery and dirty deeds are done cheap and with the relish of a madman. Vale doesn't associate with his kind unless he needs a 'favour'. He's been handy in a stoush and does Vale's bidding on occasion. Rich men are targets. Rich men in a rough colony must be ruthless. It's dog-eat-dog and every man for himself. The cliches he often regurgitates to justify sometimes spurious methods in order to get his way. Vale never wanted to sully his own hands eliminating competition or undesirable attention. Moore is summoned and given instructions.

Eliza has returned to Vale who's overjoyed at the news of her pregnancy but livid that Cartright even tried to whisk her away. Her loyalty remains with Vale. The man who rescued her, assured her of a good life and a secure future. A man who has clout and influence and can see her, a scullery maid, become part of 'civilised society'. He never doubted her. Had he, the arrangement would never have been proffered but he doesn't want Cartwright hanging around like a love sick puppy. He's taken the money and needs to be persuaded to leave. And fast.

Moore finds Jeremy, rum-soaked and lamentable sitting on his porch, slumped and grimy, he hasn't shaven or bathed for days.  "Mr Cartwright?" The sorry soul looks up from his bottle but says not a word. "You had an arrangement Sir. You are to leave now that Mrs Vale has returned to her husband. I'm here to make sure it is so." Unfazed by the appearance of the thug, he takes another swig and hurls an insult. "Now now Mr Cartwright, no need for language. On your feet Sir. Saddle your horse and be on your way." Jeremy's expression darkens as he rises to his feet and hurls the half empty bottle which connects with Moore's cheek. The thug wipes the sting from his face and lunges at the inebriated soul, slamming a fist into the side of his neck and hurling him across the verandah. Furious as the bruise begins to form he is relentless. Jeremy tries to rise but fist after fist is brought down like the hammer of Thor upon his face. He is beaten to a pulp, unrecognisable. "There now Mr Cartwright. Perhaps now you'll saddle up and be on your way." Jeremy doesn't answer, blood fills his head and leeches from his ears and nose. Moore has done a number and he'll not see the light of day again. Crossan's farm claims another innocent as the purple blooms of Wisteria weep and fall, sad violet confetti blankets blades of green beneath the slowly strangling gum.

Written for The Tenth Daughter of Memory - River of Mnemosyne Challenge
Continued at:
A Faint Hint of Ambergris 

4 comments:

  1. Heh... not sure about "innocent," but, yeah... ouch.

    So was she aware of the arrangement or not? Early dialogue and description say no, but her actions when he asks her to come with him say yes.

    Or she just a materialistic bitch?

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  2. ouch indeed.

    the first Archie Moore paragraph seems a little out of place, but the whole bit is great

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  3. Mmm hmmm. Every man's dream that he must have sex with another man's wife. How can I win against this? :). Kidding! Really great story unfolding. I like that you brought it back around to the tree from the beginning.

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  4. Wow. I'm entranced by this story. I love surprises, but only if they fit. Yours fit. Can't wait to read more.

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