Bedtime Stories #5.

Blazing Bedtime Stories, Volume VIII: The Cowboy Who Never Grew Up ...

The search for soul…

Down the Adelaide Central Market, between Marino’s butchers and the Samtass fish market, there is a walk-through breezeway to Gouger Street. Years ago there was an arcade type stall there selling second-hand was run by a bloke in his fifties, if I recall…I used to browse there when I was going past.

At the end nearest the street, there was a tray holding hundreds and hundreds of these …”penny dreadfuls” I suppose you’d call them…not even with a cardboard cover, but just some lurid pic on paper with around 50 pages or so stapled in a folded booklet type thing. Many of them so old and dog-eared as to be almost a throwaway item..

I asked the man behind the stall there about them..

“What are all these scribbled, tags inside the front cover?” I asked.

“That’s the personal initial or tag to identify that someone has read the story”. He replied…He then continued on…” I get orders from several old folk’s homes for them, so I bundle up about a dozen or so at the time and deliver them there on my way home. “

The Unloved.

Who will give them kisses, sweet kisses,

Essences distilled from secret sentences.

With touching fingers palpitating the heart.

And..and desire..

Ahh! DESIRE!..that wicked,

Wily, wonderful want! That demands attendance

At just about twilight.

When everyone else but thee is in a clutching embrace.

And then, late at night,

When all the bedroom lights turn off,

Leaving thee with no company…but the “cold, dark press of night!”

And unshakeable echoes of regrettable vanity.

…or pride (O’ the affection you scorned!),

“But they were hopeless, boors, losers!..

Where is that damn paper when you need it?

Ah! ..Here!” :

Read..: “Do apply if you are honest,

Attractive, with positive outlook.

I am an interesting intellectual,

54 years.

Seeking same for intimate evenings,

Sharing thoughts and hot toddy’s

By a flickering fire……………”

“Reads good!..I hope it brings ‘em in…”


“ What do they sell for?” I asked out of curiosity.

“Oh..there’s only sentimental value in them” he informed me “ I sell them to the people in the homes for 50 cents each…they read them over some months, mark them with that special tag and then I buy them back off them for 25cents each..and they go round and round…I know all their tags now, so I send them ones they haven’t read yet…they are slow readers and it keeps them content…”

Ah..growing old has its mercies..but also its regrets…would that one could drink from Ponce de León’s fountain of youth..I’m sure I would not let so many chances slip by…

If only..:

Would my wit be a sage much wiser.
Would my courage be somewhat bolder.
Would that time could take me back yonder,
To de León’s youthful fountain mythical . . .
There in a blush of delight so typical,
Would I and Adam and Eve,
As those children in the garden of Ede’,
Brighten our eyes to that first sight,
Of a new dawn rising over the mountain’s height.

If only. . .

I skimmed through some of the copies…they were mostly blatant romance or westerns with a romantic theme…on the front would be a “gunslinger” type or some “muscled young man”, his sleeves rolled up and a touch of “action man grime” in just the right places, with his arm around a “gal” and that determined look on a “chiselled jaw” face…that type of thing..

“ I wonder what they see in them?” I pondered “ They all seem to be about the same”..and I thumbed a copy..

The Secret.

I first heard its whisper in the wild oats,

Whose husks had shed their seed.

The breezes hustled the golden sheaths,

Where small lizards scurried beneath.

It was hushed to me in the cries of birds,

The scratching bark of the mallee tree.

It was held to me in my lover’s embrace,

When we kissed our anniversary.

The secret came from the other side,

Of the wide, vast universe.

But it really started right here and now,

In the confines of this Earth.

It is nothing strange or unusual,

But it can never really be told.

It is as young as a first desire,

As a drama about to unfold and

As needed and as fought for,

As  the last breath of the old.

“Yes..I wondered on that too once…” the seller said “And I asked this German woman who was a regular customer here at the stall..”

“Do you buy them for the romantic story?” I asked her..

“No, no…I am too old for the fictional romance…though I do like that side of it..but I read them to get …” and she struggled for the right words..” to remember the FEELING…the feeling of the emotion of romance…like when you were young….one forgets the feelings…you can remember the doing of some things..but the feelings of those moments slip away..and I want to still feel the emotion of those times and sometimes…not often, but just sometimes I get that feeling back…”

“I would never have thought of it that way” I remarked…but I was much younger then..Now, a much older man, I know exactly what she means…I too now have the beautiful memories…and I like to at moments hold or “freeze-frame” those moments and to then plunge into my emotions to surround that memory with the appropriate emotions and sensual feeling…to marry the moment with the desire…it is a difficult thing, but sometimes it just works…and it is a wonderful that first kiss.

The Vanishing Door.

Though pleasant enough ;

These days of wine and roses,

When the wash of an evening sunset

‘Purples the fleece’d horizon.’

And yet..yet..does this doubt seep

Over me, like the fevered shiver

Of an approaching cold.

I have everything..and yet the

Small freedoms I have traded

Seem to hark back to me as whispers

From behind a wall..or door!

A vanishing door!

Through which passes every thought,

But I stay.

I see them vanish, but I stay.

Last night’s dreams..I’ve forgotten,

Yet , I still feel I enjoyed them so.

Gone, with my youthful memories,

Through the vanishing door.

And even the door soon will close forever.

But I fear…I will stay…

I think I can add a quote…for better or worse…from F.Scott Fitzgerald is taken from his later writings toward the end of his life…from “The Crack-up”..essay #3..:

“So what? This is what I think now: that the natural state of the sentient adult is a qualified unhappiness. I think also that in an adult the desire to be finer in grain that you are, “a constant striving” (as those people say who gain their bread by saying it) only adds to this unhappiness in the end—that end that comes to our youth and hope.”

But this aging relic must now go to bed and claim some sleep…best if we all close our eyes and dream sweet dreams…goodnight my sweets…  (Everyone’s gone to the moon…Jonathan King )





2 thoughts on “Bedtime Stories #5.

  1. “Ah..growing old has its mercies..but also its regrets…”
    How very true!

    “The search for soul…” I think these emotions are needed even in old age. I too would call it “The search for soul…” As you get older and older it is still important to remember the FEELING, to actually still being able to experience the FEELING, whereas the doing of certain things becomes less important over time. But the FEELING, you really wouldn’t want to live without it!

    There was an old couple. She was 93 and he was 97. They lived in a hostel for the aged. Every afternoon she would go to his room and they would each have a glass of sherry which he poured for them. And they would just sit there in his room enjoying each others company. It was the highlight of their day!

    Once he was wondering that maybe she would expect him to hop into bed with her. But no, it turned out she did not want to go that far anymore. She was just happy with their relationship as it was. He was desperate when one day she was admitted to hospital. He asked somebody to take him to the hospital so he could visit her. When he saw her in her room in the hospital, he was so shocked that he rushed out after just a few minutes. I think he knew that was the last time to have seen her. A few days later he died early in the morning. She died the same day just a few hours later!


  2. Uta..Here where I live in the Mallee, there is a main road outside our property that has a lot of B-Double trucks trundling down the long straight at top speed and those big trucks at that speed can neither brake nor swerve to avoid hitting any wildlife in its that some days it is a veritable charnel house of smashed creatures alongside the road…and the brutality of life and death confronts one…you just cannot avoid it..and it is the same in the wider world as your young experiences in wartime Germany must have shown you.

    It is this brutality that destroys the humanity of mankind…but humanity is “bigger” than what nature or cruelty can throw at in deference to that brutality, we use art to create a better imagined world…a world of fine emotions and ethics…of beauty and love…and we do it well….or at least we once did…for Mother Nature is a jealous thing and she doesn’t like her habits of devolvement being disturbed and so humanity was injected with those “seven deadly sins” to bring us back to Earth…and while there for a while, with the great musicians and writers of the romantic movements through the last couple of mellenia, we have scaled great heights of human civilisation, we have also descended regularly into the depths of depravity..I believe we are at this point in time battling with one of those descents into depravity..and we are no longer listening to the “music” of our greater sensibilities.

    I, you well know…have written many of what I feel are sensitive moments between two people..moments of acknowledged love or shared humanity…but I do not get read much at all, many thinking my stories are but “romantic fantasy”, not aware nor caring that most are based on actually events…like your two aged people above…and it is sad and frustrating to watch a society falling apart and unwilling to alter course to save itself crashing onto the rocks and wrecking..I sometimes think that humanity has become morbidly obsessed with witnessing its own destruction…seeing how far we can go before slipping over the edge..

    In my “Ukelele Opera” of 3 acts, I first show a character “Gemano” lamenting for his lost love left behind and then the 2nd WW broke out and for five interned years he heard nothing of she alive or dead..and he descends into melancholy in his search..but still he remained loyal to her memory..In the 2nd act we have “Artini the woodcutter” searching for a way out of his captive situation, seeking the help of another ethnicity held captive also..the indigenous girl “Tess”..but in trying to escape, he drowns in the Murray River and along with him does the hope also of Tess…But in the third act, we see Enrico and Rosaline escape both their situations and strive to make a new life away from their troubles..the perennial human endeavour..But for the life of me I cannot get the least interest in any art group or musical people to carry the idea further as there is nothing now for art development but the harsh reality of “bottom-line pragmatics”…again, old Mother Nature injects greed into the equation and humanity becomes trapped in a vortex descending into Dante’s Inferno.
    F#ck it!!
    There are many of us doing our level best trying to drag ourselves out of this abyss, but like cloying mud sucking us down with the rest of humanity, it sometimes seems like a losing battle….but of course…we cannot give up…it’s in our nature to strive.


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