I went to Southend today. I packed a small picnic basket and spent the day on Three Shells Beach. Harold wanted to come but couldn’t get away from the shop – just as well, really, for having a mortal with me would have prevented me from using the tunnels and we’d have had to travel in Harold’s van.
Not that I object to Harold’s driving. Far from it. I’ve collected more damned souls – both other drivers and pedestrians – from Harold’s driving than by any other means. Even spam e-mail doesn’t net me as many thanks to today’s spam filters, though I still get a few men suffering from Pride that respond to my encouragements of bigger p3nises.
Three Shells Beach was entirely accurate. Winkles, Cockleshells and Razors. Nothing exotic to be found anywhere. It wasn’t until I’d opened my bottle of pop that Poseidon turned up. I wouldn’t have minded but the greedy bugger guzzled half my Tizer in one go, then ate my banana and mustard sandwiches.
“Thanks,” he said, as if I’d had any choice. I’m only a lieutenant of the sixth circle and he’s a god. “I get so sick of fish sometimes.”
I showed him a picture of Lydia. “Recognise her?” I asked. “She’s half fae so she would have stood out a mile.”
He looked at the photo for a few minutes. It was an old one, taken by Frederick on his Box Brownie in 1955 but she shouldn’t look that much different.
“I think so,” he said. She used to chat to Darlene.” Darlene was a mermaid, Poseidon’s 47th wife. Yes he does take care of them all. He’s a god, if you’ve forgotten. “I haven’t seen her for a few years, though. She moved away.”
“Any idea where?” I asked.
He shrugged. “Inland,” he said. He has no interest for the land and why should he. His sense of direction is accurate to ten thousandths of a degree in the water, but out of the sea it’s limited to ‘inland’. “I haven’t seen her since that day I saw you last.”
No help there, then. I’d try the post office but it’s doubtful that they’d still have anyone there that was delivering letters fifty years ago.
We sat together in silence for a little while, watching the waves. When they got too close Poseidon shooed them away. Not to stop me getting wet or anything, but to prevent them being evaporated by my body heat. Like I said, he takes care of all his wives, and the water is his number one.
He slipped back into the water when the sun began to set, taking with him my thanks for the company and the last chocolate biscuit from my picnic basket. He did leave me a shell, though. A Spiny Murex from the Philippines. I’ll pass it on to Harold when I get back
As the sky turned the colour of home it registered what Poseidon had said. “Since the last time I saw you.” That must mean that I was here in 1955. I’d have to get a purple ticket and travel back in time.
I’m so stupid. That’s how I should have looked for her in the first place.
Until the morrow. X