Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Life of Samuel Nathan Taylor

Here's an old one, never too sure what to with this. Wrote it in a state of quite spectacular distress, obviously it should be extended but I just can't bring myself to fill in the blank at the end. Of course I know what's going on cos I wrote it but I kinda like the way it's not explicit. Anyway I'm not sure if the dialect could be sustained over anything longer than about 5000 words, even at that length it would get a bit tedious. There's the option of swapping into the 3rd person or a different first person identity, maybe even something epistolic.  I did monkey with idea of a segue into a comic format, kinda gradual with pictures appearing in text first.

No I dun get me no schoolin', none of any account that is. That being so 'cause ah they let me go from school when that boy Charlie Webb done broke ma slate. The teacher told me I had to pay for another. That Charlie Webb he broke my slate 'cause he were jealous of me 'n' that Peggy Tranter. She were a pretty girl and she were kina sweet on me, tell the truth I were kina sweet on her too. Charlie he's as ugly as mules backside see and twice as stupid but he were burly fellow for his age. So one day he took a mind to beat on me. Well he bein' a burly fellow an' me, I was e'en more scrawny then, he beat on me pretty good, then he smash ma slate just for measure. They weren't our slates see, they were the schools but we're kind mindin' them while we learnt to write and sum an' all. Charlie weren't so stupid as to beat on me infruna the teacher mind. When she saw me an' that broke slate she wouldn't take no mind of me tellin' about it bein' Charlie that broke it.

Paw wouldn't stump up fur the slate, when teacher told him how much it'd cost an' that it was slate from Corn Wall England an' he'd hafta get the money. He got so angry he beat my hide as red as cherry on a bonnet an ‘told me I had get to work an' earn the money to pay the school myself. Course he weren't my real paw, my real paw died some while afore.

No don't remember my real paw too good, I were no more'n kickin' at the buttercups when he gone died. He worked at the tannin mill, ya see the air in that tannin mill is kinda salty, it don't do folk no good to breathe it too long. He weren't around much when I was a youngun he'd be spenin' his time at work course he were breathin' that salty air all that time. Well as I say you can't go chasing pigs without gettin' shit on your legs and pretty soon he'd tender for all that time he's a breathin' that air. First he gets kinda yella, which is the way they go, then he gets ill and takes to bed, pretty soon he's gone.

Yeah day o' the funeral ma's sobin' an' a cryin' I tries to comfort her, she looked at me those tears all rainin' down her face I could hardly look in the eye it where such a sorrowful sight but one thing my real paw done learned me was that a man don't weep even if his heart is a burstin' with sorrow. "What are we gonna do Nate?" she sobs. Course I being a bairn an all, I didn't know what she meant, not then anyhow. Some days later we moved home, ma sold most o' our belongins, I recon all that doctorin' paw had when he were ill must have cost a bit so she had to get the money from somewhere.

No we didn't move into a house, it were just a room at the weigh station it were a mite less comfortable than our old home but as ma said it were better'n sleep'n under the crows. Ma paid for water at the station an she were allowed to take as much as she want an' that's how she kept the wolf away, by doing the laundry of folk who worked in the station. It weren't long afore folk in town learn'd about the laundry an' were askin' ma to take it their linen too. It were extra work but with me helpin' as I could and ma paid two of the boys at the station to do the fetchin' pretty soon she were doin' better than keep'n the wolf away.

As I said, I helped as I could but me being a bairn and so scrawny it were of little account. You know sometimes when I'm low I get to thinkin' of those days about me an' ma, in that room. I 'member that smell of soap, we wouldn't speak much. Sometime I used to look at her as she were workin' she'd have her hair tied under a bonnet but it would hang out at the front so when she'd go to the winda to hold the linen to the light those curls of hair would kinda come alight with a red glow an' she'd have this look on her face like you'd see on the statues in church. Anyway those days didn't last long, see the chinamen came along an' started takin' in laundry. Course it don't take more'n a sack o'beans to feed a dozen chinamen for a month, an' they seemed to pull water outa thin air, that were the end of days takin' in laundry.

Things were tight after that, ma she'd pick up some work here an' there but it were more beans than bacon. One day ma pulled on some o' her fine garments an' it weren't Sunday at all. Then she done somethin' I never seen her do afore she paint on her lips I'd seen women with lips like that but I never knew how they got that way, I though they were born like it. Well I must a bin starin' like I were a hungry dog 'cause she looked away from the glass an' caught me lookin' and she just stopped what she were doin' for a while a starin' back at me. Seemed like forever neither of us speakin' a word. Then I saw her take a piece o' cloth to her lip and just as she were a wipin' the red off she looked down at my boots. See when I took 'em off it were my habit to lay 'em on their soles but I must've forgot, one of 'em must've been layin' on it's side so she saw the holes in 'em. "You need new boots Nate!" she said to me, then put that paint back on her lip. When she finished she put a smile on, broader than I'd seen for a long while but as soon as she looked away from the glass that smile dropped from her face like it'd never been there.


  1. I thought this story had potential, the way the character developed over just a few paragraphs was interesting, disappointed that you didn't taken it any further?

    1. Yeah well, I have mulled with it on occasion, you know the kind of thing, dreaming up dialogue in the shower but it's kinda close to the wind the place I wanted to go with it and sort of personal in way I'm that not keen on expressing any more. The little reaction there has been to it had me wondering if could be much common ground for anyone who'd be likely to read it. Maybe it happen, I'm more concerned with earning a crust at the mo though.