The Straight Road / Chapter 8 / Johny Brown


We have reached March and the wedding bells of bliss are ringing Susan for Sam . So how do those  memories of that night down at the quarry chime ???


On the day the wedding ceremony was the usual social travesty illuminated by sparse moments of hilarious awful brilliance and thankfully done with inside the day. The next two months passed by in unremarked domesticity for Susan and Sam. They explored alternative lifestyle choices, perused various causes and debated the many demos they read about. They began trying for the child.


Sam hand fed her vegan foodstuffs. Susan nourished his mind and managed to articulate his outsider worldview in a way he could never have imagined. Their spirituality flourished. They felt a deep sense of sensual well-being. Like any young couple finding out things about the world and choosing to make a shelter for themselves at home they were relatively happy.

It was a beautiful spring of sharp mornings hazy afternoons and fiery sunsets every night. Always a wood pigeon cooing at the end of the garden sometimes a flash of Goldfinch descending from the trees to dance on the lawn. Skin turned brown as proverbial berries and dazzling eyes were dazzled in turn by the sun. Minds were set adrift. Every hour was honoured by lazy beauty.


One day they wandered down to the Quarry together. Sam wasn’t sure if Susan should do this, but she felt she wanted to face up to the ordeal she had suffered no matter how traumatic it might be. It was a beautiful clear day and many birds sang

 out from the trees and none of them the harsh shriek of the Butcher Bird that so penetrated her ears that night.

The building work had been put on stall almost before it had begun and if anything the foliage was more abundant, the proliferation of nature more profuse. They felt good within the space. It was a beautiful day to be alive. Susan kept having quick flashbacks to the previous experience but the flashes were more memory than vision, more thought than halucination.

They got to a place at the waters edge and before Sam could do a thing about it Susan threw herself into the water and disappeared under the surface. Sam overcame his shock and dived in to save her. There was a watery kerfuffle and commotion and when they surfaced amidst the thrashing of arms Susan was smiling, crying, grinning and laughing.

The sun shone with an intensity neither had experienced before and they opened up body and soul to absorb the beautiful rays. The universe itself sparkled in a drop of water that rolled down Sam’s cheek and just for a moment Susan grasped the truth of Her before that elusive truth slipped away again. It was enough of a moment’s satori to be going on with.

A tear of joy and the smile in their eyes and the hope in their hearts and understanding they had a propensity for bad but knowing and choosing to embrace the good, oh the choices we make and the great thoughts we have and just this flowing ecstasy right now of Sam and Susan and Susan and Sam and all the things they were capable of doing together as Her and Him.

Susan’s arms were free of her back and she proceeded to wave them in the air. The shock of water seemed to have achieved what many nights of prayer could not. She grabbed Sam and ran her hands over his body with joy and held his

 face in wonder and then the arms dropped for the muscles were flaccid with lack of use. Oh but that would surely change.


And they did indeed grow stronger. Susan started writing. Thoughts and memories at first, then dreams and from these things came thoughts and ideas, notions of how she thought life could and should be. She used her new arms to bake and cook a little but domestic chores could never be enough. She longed to do something bold and unique but also something most ordinary.

She went and swam in the quarry every day and she got herself a job working behind the bar at The Stag. The parents and Samuel were united in their shock that Susan would want to undertake such a menial task for such a meagre wage when she was now so firmly ensconced in the family but it meant a lot to Susan to do something for herself.

The barmaid’s job gave Susan a glimmer of independence she’d never experienced before and she enjoyed serving people and listening to the craic even though most of it was bullshit. Big Kath the landlady could be a bit awkward but she was a good woman for all that and never leched over her like Cecil the Priest or Sam’s father did after they’d had their third drink.

She liked to watch Kath go about her work, how she would be diffident, soft or depressed and surly before the doors opened and then would grow into the landlady role as she served up the first few pints with a big cheery smile or a withering show-business put down to a leery customer. She had been in the trade all of her life though she feared the pub would be shutting soon.


They talked about the future a lot, about putting down roots, just to have them torn away, the value of good friendship, the need to always have something in reserve, but also to have that capacity not to worry too much when things did go wrong, for they would go wrong, to be fearless, to know your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Susan liked talking to Kath.

Samuel did not like Susan talking to Kath at all. She kept that side of her life to herself. She was a good wife though and threw herself into the task of carrying on the bloodline with vigour, nothing was happening as yet though, and Sam or Mrs Samuels often got a bit tetchy around the time of her period arriving and mean looks could be thrown around the room.

Though wasn’t that the same with all young couples? They attended a few social gatherings with family friends and these were awkward affairs, Sam, despite his anarchist stance surrounded by tall willowy blonde girls of long legs and tight jeans and shades pushed up on their foreheads, laughing easily and charming Mrs Samuels to the very death.

Susan would stand in the corner and smile and say nothing, but it would nag away inside of her just a bit, the feeling of social inadequacy that boiled within her. Talk would be of going up to the Notting Hill Carnival or Wimbledon or gap years abroad, through Thailand and Bolivia and a thousand other places. Everyone was bright in dress and temper and knew where they were going.


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