Frederick was amusing today. While not a genius in the general state of things, he is a master poet. I will never forget his Ode to Plughole Hair or his sonnet Thoughts on Decomposing Potatoes.
He was dictating a new poem to Devious. Since he’s a ghost, he has difficulty manipulating a pen and still hasn’t got to grips with the dictation software on the computer Harold bought for him. His meter was exquisite – genuine warmth coming from those gnarled old lips was a delight to behold – but it was a poem for Ada’s birthday.
It would have been perfect except for the last couplet:
No more my tongue can speak the words I wish that I could say
I’m only glad you’re happy, sis, you’re smiling and you’re gay.
He never did get the notification that modern language has changed the meaning of words.
By six o’clock Southend beach was deserted, left for the seagulls to forage among discarded chip wrappers and wasps to seek the sweet delights of seaside rock and forgotten doughnuts. One landed on my arm and I watched its abdomen contract as it attempted to sting me. It couldn’t get through the skin, of course. My skin is just a glamour I use to hide the scales.
It flew off after a while; easier prey would be found clustered around the watering holes of the twenty seven pubs that inhabited the square mile centred on the pier.
I sat on the beach in the same spot where I would sit in fifty years time. Waves lapped against the sand, sucking away the foundations of sandcastles and smoothing away the footprints of children. I waited for my date.
Poseidon rose amongst the laughter of his thousand children.
“Wotcha,” he said. “I haven’t seen you here before.”
“No,” I replied, “We’ve met many times but never here.”
The old god seemed to mull this over for a few minutes. “You’ve got something to show me, haven’t you?”
I handed him the photograph of Lydia. “You said you saw her today. You will saw, I mean.”
He looked at me a little oddly. “It’s a dodgy business, time travel,” he said. “I don’t go in for it myself.”
“Probably wise,” I said. “I try to avoid it when I can as well.”
“It leads to wrinkles in time, you know.”
I nodded. “I have a letter in my pocket that exists here as well,” I said. “I’ve been trying to find its counterpart.”
“Just as well you didn’t.” He handed the photograph back. She lives in that white house that overlooks the beach.”
“Thanks.” I followed his pointing finger, grateful that he had found Lydia for me but not wanting to be too enthusiastic in case he asked for a return favour. He has several unmarried daughters. “What would have happened if I’d found the letter?”
“Time wouldn’t have liked the anomaly,” he said. “Both would have ceased to exist. Is it important?”
“I’ve no idea,” I said. “I haven’t opened it. There’s something a little bit off about reading somebody’s mail.”
He shrugged. “I thought demons could do anything they wanted?”
“Nah,” I said. “That’s angels.”
Until the morrow. X