Monday, February 28, 2011



I have failed to mention that I am an extraordinarily robust man. Every Vandemark male, with a notable exception is, whether by natural heritage, or due to a meaty and nut based diet, is impossible to say (My mother was a firm advocate of a high protein diet, which worked wonders for my frame, but not, alas, for my poor brother Homer). Vandemark women bear Vandemark men with broad shoulders, large hands, pendulous feet, columnar legs, rotund heads, high ridged cheekbones atop muscled, prominent jaws and deep clefts in rugged chins.

My bulk had been transported. I was utterly surprised, for few people even in an organized corvee can heft me. I found myself confined to a narrow bed, my shirt open at the collar, my pants removed and folded neatly over an adjacent chair, an extra fancy blanket of pink taffeta and silk fringes tucked demurely under my armpits.

The room was minuscule, colorless and dreary with the exception of little accent pieces sprinkled haphazardly: a Kewpie doll dressed in a sky blue sailor’s suit; an old Victrola phonograph decorated with the colors of the Union Jack about its square black base; a dresser with a faded mirror around its wooden frame with humorous accent pieces of tiny rosettes of pink, red and white ribbons, as if the dresser itself had won innumerable county fairs.

Light filtered through the torn window shade filling the room with flat beams of weak winter sunshine. Somewhere in the distance (London, I’m in London!) a siren was sounding. It was then that I was aware of the quick shuffling of tiny feet, and I thought (for my mind was groping to find a fixed point to anchor the swirl of perception, light, sound, color and movement of the last few days) I thought it was some troll or gremlin.

For in a way myth, in all its manifestations, cracks the seal of reason and opens the box of all gifts (pan-dora) to the world. We take a journey into a dark and unforgiving night and peek at the worst that man can offer us, from its minuscule, earth caked hand, a lonely little gnome, a troll that sits squat in the mud and offers us a dull crust to gnaw upon.

She was in a thin slip or sleeping garment, sheer and gauzy; it seemed threadbare worn and almost transparent in its flimsiness. Her skin, wonderfully translucent beneath the semi-permeable garment, had a pleasant blue-green tint. She was standing at the window and holding the blackout shade (a heavy piece of brown canvas, streaked and scored with innumerable crisscrossed cracks). Her ears were pointed at the very tip. Her chin (I was gazing at her from three quarters view), was recessed ever so slightly beneath her button nose.

That nose, too small for her face, was, however, attractively centered on her oblong head. Her brows were sloping downward into an impish “V”, pointed at the base, but open between its vertical arms. Her chestnut brown hair was resting lightly on her exposed collar bones. A filthy ribbon of lace hung down from her night garment and rubbed the outside edge of her rounded forearm. She surveyed the street below. Somewhere in SOHO a bomb had exploded and the incessant ring and whine of the tandem bell and siren was no doubt what had woken me.

“What happened?” I asked huskily.

“The Luftwaffe again,” she answered flatly.

“No, to me,”

She turned around and gazed at me impassively. For a split second her eyes had an unreal golden glow, but as she squinted to examine me more closely they resumed their old pale pearl gray, like the inside of a dull oyster shell.

“You’ve had a knock about the head,” she said. Then she did something I had not expected at all. She reached out across the hazy medium and lightly touched my head. Her long fingers, cool, green and spidery, seemed to possess an electric charge; she gently shifted the bandage.

“You lost some blood and grew faint. We had one of those medical chaps in the pub look at you and he didn’t even think you passed out from the blood lose. Anyway he said you’d be in tip top shape with a little rest. I couldn’t find your orders and hospital beds are short, so you were brought here.” She pushed her hair behind the point of her ear and abruptly turned on her heels to the bathroom.

“I’ve gotta get to work, as you do, if you’re up to it,” her voice came muffled through the bathroom door, “so if you are, lets get a move on it, shall we?”

I stood up and the bed groaned. I could hear Clare in the lavatory urinating in quick bursts, and out the window, high overhead, the synchronous pulse of an aircraft engine, and the rapid, staccato whine of more concussions and further explosions. Clare opened the bathroom door, elfin body covered in a steel blue uniform. A white haze enveloped her, softening and dampening the lines and counters of her body, until she was, in my addled estimation, something beyond this world…

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