Gott er að grenja

Mér finnst gott að grenja og hefur alla tíð verið laust tárið, hvort heldur er vegna gleði, sorgar eða bara af því stundum hef ég ekkert betra að gera en að taka hraustlegan grát. Það bregst ekki að ég er yfirleitt eins og nýsleginn túskildingur eftir slíka iðju og mæli með því við samferðafólk mitt að gráta hvar og hvenær sem það telur sig hafa þörf fyrir slíkt.
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Í seinni tíð hef ég orðið talsvert meyrari og eftir að lítil börn fóru að hrúgast allt í kringum mig og mína nánustu reynist mér sífellt auðveldara að vatna músum í tíma og ótíma. Enn telst það á mörkum þess að vera félagslega ásættanlegt að gráta á ákveðnum stöðum í samfélaginu. Það má gráta í bíó, á horninu á bak við Ölstofuna, á sjúkrahúsum og í brúðkaupum. Það er hins vegar litið hornauga að grenja við hannyrðarekkann í Hagkaupum, þegar maður er úti að hlaupa eða með bílinn á verkstæði. Fyrir þá sem ekki vilja láta aðra sjá sig grenja luma ég á nokkrum góðum ráðum. Ef erfiður dagur er í vændum, eða bara ef ég hef stigið fram úr rúminu í óstuði þann morguninn, finnst mér gott að klæðast rúllukragapeysu. Svo rúlla ég kraganum alveg upp yfir hvirfil svo ég geti grenjað í ró og næði án þess að aðrir þurfi uppá að horfa. Annar klassíker í þessum málum er læsa að sér inni á baðherbergi og skrúfa frá sturtunni og tárakirtlunum samtímis og bera við gláku ef farið er að grennslast fyrir um uppruna rauðbólginna augna. 

Á dögunum lagði ég einfalda könnun fyrir vinahópinn þar sem þau voru beðin um að nefna það í daglegu lífi sem helst fær þau til að gráta. Þar deildu toppsætinu bambar sem sleppa naumlega undan æstri ljónahjörð og gamalt fólk að haldast í hendur svo möguleikarnir til að tjá tilfinningar sínar með tárum eru í raun óþrjótandi.
Við leggum oft óþarflega mikið upp úr því að vera sterk og harka af okkur. Það hefur verið talið til galla að grenja og þykir oft bera vott um veikleika í karakter. En ég er með kenningu. Kannski eru þeir sem eru hræddir við að sýna tilfinningar sínar ekkert sérstaklega sterkir. Kannski felst raunverulegi styrkurinn í því að bera líðan sína á borð, teygja sig í tissjú-pakkann og taka góðan grát.

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The Secret Life of Sly Cunningham – part VI

It was not until we sat down at a small restaurant about a ten minute drive from the docks that I first heard his voice. He had acknowledged me with a slight nod and shook my hand as I stepped off the boat. His assistant and driver, a quiet man as well, had handled my luggage and drove us to our destination. The restaurant had long closed and so the three of us were the only ones inside.

– How was your journey, Mr. Whittard, Bedloe finally asked. His voice was croaky and his eyes wandered slowly around the room before they settled on me. Allow me to explain; I had taken the name Arthur Whittard for this particular assignment. My nom de plume, if you will, for the story that was about to unfold.

– Very pleasant, thank you Mr. Bedloe. Very pleasant indeed.

From a dark corner of the room, Bedloe’s assistant chuckled. He had been sitting there quietly but looked up from underneath his flat cap and pointed at me. Said something in Russian. Bedloe smiled.

– Koba here says the journey to Odessa has never been regarded a pleasant one.

I acknowledged Koba’s remark with a slight smile. He was a strange looking creature, short but muscular and no doubt served as Bedloe’s bodyguard as well as general assistant. I noticed he had one leg considerably shorter than the other as he had earlier limped with my luggage to the back of the car. He sat in the corner, away from us so that we could discuss our affairs but close enough to hear every word. He had a perfect understanding of the English language but never spoke it. My eyes stopped at the drink on his table. Unlike any Russian I had ever met before, Koba drank wine and not vodka.

– May I ask where you acquired your taste in wine … Mr. Koba?

He looked up and then at me as if I had done something terrible to him. Turned his gaze over to Bedloe and spoke in Russian. Bedloe chuckled.

– Koba would like to point out to you that he is in fact Georgian, not Russian as I gather you have assumed, Mr. Whittard. He prefers Georgian wine to Russian vodka. Always has.
Koba added something to Bedloe’s translation, to which Bedloe answered in Russian before turning over to me.

– He is asking if you are American.

– English, I answered.

Koba uttered a single word before shaking his head, slowly getting out of his seat and walking out the door.

– A shame he says, Bedloe explained before clearing his throat and fetching a pipe from his breast pocket.      – Koba is a great fan of American cowboy films, he added. I am not sure the genius of Shakespeare and Sassoon would appeal to him, he said as he lit up his pipe.

A good while passed without either of us saying a single thing. I could guess Bedloe was in the process of gathering the words so that he could finally inform me of what was to be my task in Odessa. His instructions had been vague at best in the very beginning. Some talk of merchandise needing to be shifted from one harbour – Odessa, to another – London.

I waited still. Sipped my drink and inspected the surroundings. The interior was dark and heavy, in perfect harmony with the outside surroundings. A photograph of an old man in traditional Ukranian clothing decorated a nearby wall. He looked proud, majestic even. Some words were written in Cyrillic underneath so I was unable to identify their meaning and thereby the identity of the man in the photograph. I did not matter.

– Mr. Whittard. Before I tell you of the task ahead, I have a question to ask you.

I nodded. Saying nothing but already coming up with several suitable answers to the question I was yet to be asked.

– Can I trust you? Bedloe finally asked, fixing his cold gaze on me.

– Mr. Bedloe, I replied, I assure you, you can.

 To be continued.

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The Secret Life of Sly Cunningham – Part V

Once again, I believed her. I believed she never purposely meant to bruise my heart so magnificently, but did so only because inevitable circumstances arose and she could not help it. That was another lie, I later found out. I am somewhat relieved that I was far away in another country when I found out about the extent of her lies. I do not think I could have been held accountable for my actions if I were to have been in London when I got to know the truth. I was called on an assignment in Odessa and set off the day after she had turned up at my flat for the last time.

I was excited to see her, I remember. But then again that was nothing out of the ordinary. I was always excited to see her and waited for her at the top of the stairs, my heart pounding at every step she took. Her walk would be steady, luring as always and I found it difficult not to run down the stairs to meet her to make our time last a little longer, if only for a few more seconds. She would always greet me with a smile. But this time her smile was broken. A thick lock of hair covered her left eye and as I went to try and brush it aside, she pushed my hand away. But she couldn’t hide it. Her right eye that was not colored with a purple bruise even failed to hide it. My blood began to boil. I found myself holding her even tighter but she pushed me away and rushed past me through the open door. Started gathering her things, the few she had left with me. I begged her to talk to me. To tell me something. Anything at all. I have never begged a woman of anything before nor shall I ever again. My head was spinning and my heart heavy. Who did this to you? Talk to me!

With the rumbling force of my emotions I grabbed her by the shoulders and looked her in the eyes. It was a horrible bruise. A black eye made even more vulgar with being placed upon such a delicate face. She asked me to let go of her. Added “please” at the end. Like it would be a favour to her. Said she was sorry. Listened quietly while I demanded explanations.

“But you said you loved me. Jayne? You said so. Less than a week ago you did”.

“I never meant to hurt you”, she whispered.She wiped the tears quickly before adjusting the thick lock of her auburn hair over her left eye again.

I told her she could not leave. Not like that. Someone was definitely out there to hurt her. What if they kill you?, I asked her. Desperately hoping for her to seek to me for protection.

She stopped in the doorway. Looked at me for the last time.

“People don’t ever die. People just float”. Another tear made its way down her cheek. Then she turned to walk down the stairs and out of my life.

I was deprived of speech through shock and surprise. I knew I could not make her stay but how could I prevent her from leaving? Never had I ever found myself in such a condition. Such utter helplessness and uselessness of oneself. I eventually came around and ran to the open window in a sorry attempt of hoping that she had not walked past yet. She had not. But she was not alone. Beside her walked a man in a long, black coat.

I do not remember the journey to the Ukraine to any great extent. I remember longing for her. Aching for her every waking hour and every minute of the night. There were thousands of questions I was forced to put to the back of my mind in order for them not to corrupt my attention for the coming assignment. It was almost midnight when we docked at the port in Odessa. And on that cold, misty night, I met him for the very first time. I could barely see him at first but as we moved closer he emerged from the fog like an omen. Vincent Bedloe.

To be continued.

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The Secret Life of Sly Cunningham – Part IV

My life had become substantially more pleasant after she became a true part of it. I later learned that that is often the case with matters which are false. However,  now there was someone I could converse with, hold and comfort. Not just a flicker in my imagination. A little glimpse of hope, that I was certain nothing more would ever become of, had burst into realization. I was fully aware of the fact that she had had plenty of lovers and still had an abundance of admirers. And understandably so. She was a natural born flirt, although not in a pretencious way. It came to her as easily as breathing. She inhaled men’s admiration, exhaled only to inhale again. In spite of that, somebody had broken her heart . I asked her about it, to gather information about my rival but also to provide comfort and support. But mostly to gather information. She wouldn’t say. Shook her head calmly, gave a coy smile. Claimed it to be a thing of the past. She had spent a few days inside her flat, curtains drawn and not really leaving her bed. Then that was it. And she reappeared in the world with the same gusto and excitement as before.

I convinced myself that what they had could not have been real love. If your heart can mend in a matter of days it could not have been a case of love that shakes you to the core, challenges every fibre of your very being. True love. My love for her was of that variety. My heart is yet to mend and her whispers, words and promises still echo in my soul. If I had not been lead so far out in believing everything she said I would no doubt have been back to my former, lonesome self in a week or so. If she had not reeled me all the way out before she cut the string and wandered off to her former ways, I would not have entered the dark place I found myself in and where I sometimes dwell still.  My drinking habits became considerably worse as a result. I became quite partial to brandy to elevate my spirit and dissolve my memory. Time and again I wished she had never said any of those utterly pleasureable things to me. As much as I cherished every letter, every word, every sentence, revisiting them later in my mind after realising they were all untrue, broke my heart over and over again.  In fairness I only asked her once after it had all ended. I was not going to go down the road of losing my mind and temper over it in public as I was fully capable of doing so in the privacy of my own home. But I did ask her. What about all the things you said to me? What about the things you had planned for us? What about all your promises?

“I’m sorry” she said. Her eyes glum.

“I never meant to hurt you”.

 

To be continued.

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The Secret Life of Sly Cunningham – Part III

I have once been in love and subsequently I have been heartbroken once. I have made sure that never happens again. I have made sure I will never fall in love again and thereby armored myself against the possibility of being heartbroken again. I have taken bullets on the job. A full metal jacket one straight trough my shoulder blade and another one in my knee cap causing me still to walk with a slight limp. But such pain is merely physical. Such pain can be mended, seen to and made better. There I was, face down in the mud in an alleyway, hiding and bleeding. I knew they were out there, a group of Estonian weapon dealers I had been monitoring for weeks before they blew my cover. They were out there to get me and if they were to find me, they would kill me. And there I was, wounded and helpless. And yet I did not fear for my life. They could have killed me but it would have been painless compared to the pain she caused me. The pain only a woman can cause without the aid of any bullets or blades. The pain she can cause by simply being what she is – a woman.

Her name was Jayne. Jayne with a “y” so there was no chance of mistaking her for a plain Jane at any point. Why she finally gave in and agreed to have a drink with me I do not know. After all, I had been in love with her for twenty years. I waited for her at a bar that I knew she frequented. It was the same type of bars that I would steer clear of at any cost with all its pretentious ambiance, glossy tables and interior, which, instead of style, oozed confusion. I looked up to glance at the clock above the bar to realize that she was a good half an hour late. And then the doors opened. With a slight pause in the doorway and her mouth immersed in a mysterious smile, she swanned in , dressed in a beige trench coat with a furry collar and in heels that made a smooth but determined sound whenever she took a step. Just so everyone knew she was there. And they knew. In fact they were all looking at her, waiting for her to grace them by giving them a slight smile or a little nod. Anything at all. They seemed surprised when she took a seat next to me. In all honesty so was I, even though I was there to meet her. She lit a cigarillo before greeting me but then looked at me intently whenever I spoke. She smoked a lot, which was good since it was helpful in diverting the attention from the fact that I drank a lot. I had had five Laphroaig when I made up an excuse to touch her hair. There seemed to be a little leaf stuck there. Or not. Her hair was the smoothest thing I had ever touched. And so I kept running my fingers lightly over it, long after I had disposed of the imaginary leaf. She said nothing but looked at me. To my surprise it was neither a look of disgust nor contempt. It was warm and inviting. And that was it. I was hers. Helpless and vulnerable I found myself in circumstances, which soon turned out to be the life threatening experience of being in love.

I keep myself mentally (mentally of course being the operative word) prepared for running into her. I know it will happen. And I know that, not only because of my detective skills, but because I know how cruel the world’s coincidences can often be. And so I am prepared. I am so well prepared that I know when it will happen. I know what day it is going to happen and at what time. In fact, I can time it to the very second. It will happen at the precise moment I let her go from my mind. The moment I am so preoccupied with a case or deep in thought for some other reason that I am not even thinking of the sheer possibility of running into her. The moment I forget her for a split second. That is the moment. That is when I’ll see her. I’ll notice her hair first of course. Just like the very first time I set eyes upon her all these years ago. Long, soft and auburn, flowing down her shoulders and finally coming to an end, curled around her breasts so you cannot help but look at them too. She likes to wear dresses with a low cut neckline so she will obviously be wearing one of those that day. The white one with the navy polka dots, no doubt. She will be wearing that one out of pure spite of course because that is by far my favorite dress on her. Tiptoeing in her burgundy vintage shoes. The ones with the buckle around her delicate ankle. Smiling. Knowing that she turns heads wherever she goes and loving every bloody minute of it. And so, in order to postpone this dreadful event for as long as I can, I will not stop thinking of her. Not for one minute.

 

To be continued.

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The Secret Life of Sly Cunningham – Part II

My parents are both dead now. They did however not die from meningitis or an unusually unlucky trampoline accident. They just died. They are buried with my three brothers and I visit them rarely. I see no point in visiting the ground where they lie underneath. They are dead. And that is it. I disappointed them greatly by taking the career path I chose. They would much rather have seen me doing research somewhere in an office or at a university, using my brain but above all being safe. Why would you run around trying to catch villains? Why would you purposely want to risk the great gift of life? How could you do that to us?

 Secrets. I had them. I longed to tell them to someone. To a brother, or even a sister. A friend. But there was no one. No one to tell my secrets to and even fewer who had secrets they would share with me and confide in me with all the worldly troubles a child’s mind might possess. As always, one wants what one cannot have. I wanted secrets. But at that point I was mature enough to realize the importance of keeping mine from people but finding out theirs. And so I became a detective. My job evolves around finding out people’s secrets and solving their riddles. The less people tell me, the more I find out. The more I find out, the more careful I am that no one discovers my own secrets.

 Exempli gratia, Augustus Pickle. A half Greek, half Welsh heartthrob, whom I disguised as and became in order to disintegrate a group of Sardinian heroine dealers which I eventually brought to justice. Augustus had his secrets and his past. Kidnapped by his Welsh father he did not meet his mother again until his mid twenties. At which time, he had already developed a rather questionable approach to women whereas he would quite simply love them and leave them. He had even gone as far as staging his own death in order to escape the smothering love of needy women, the latest example being that of a rather lush, young barmaid at Dipnosofistis Wine Bar in Edessa. The most important woman in his life had left him. Or, to be precise, she had not come after him when he was taken away from her. Why in the world should he then be held down by the love of women, as fickle as they were? No. He would travel the world, lead the good life and leave a trail of broken hearts behind. Augustus’s life became mine for I had created him. And so, in order to become Augustus I had to become his past as well. I then had two pasts. Before, as well as after, Augustus there were many more various characters that I made up in order to disguise my own identity. I would remain disguised for as long as it took until my mission was completed successfully. It could take days, weeks, even months. In the end I would be forced to return back to my own persona. At that point I found myself losing more and more of my own identity but instead adapting those of the person I had been for the last while. On the rare occasion a conversation with a stranger would arise I would find myself quoting incidents from my earlier life that were both adventurous and courageous. Incidents, that never really happened to me. But I would very much have liked them to.

 To be continued.

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The Secret Life of Sly Cunningham – Part I

I do not know how or even where to begin. I guess I should start on a conventional note, the cliché if you will. My name is Sylvester Cunningham. To most people I am merely known as Cunningham, DCI Cunningham to others and to others still I may be known as Sly Cunningham. Contrary to what you may believe from the above, I am not a complex persona, nor am I a man of many words. Which might make you wonder why I have chosen to tell you my story. You might even assume that I am a fake, a phony. That I will not be truthful, that I will leave certain things out and make up others to replace them. Believe what you like. I will not justify this act of mine in any other ways than this: I am lonely. I have lost myself.

Douglas and Margaret Cunningham. My parents. I am an only child but my childhood was a happy one and my background was humble. Which of course meant that I was destined to great things in life. In my adult life I discovered that I was rather deprived of friends and general companionship as a child. However, I did not seek the company and it is not until in my adulthood that I look back and miss not having had other children to play with. Children playing together in the balmy air of spring, giggling and galloping around, is a lovely sight to behold. A gawky looking boy, with dark hair and eyes of even darker still, hiding behind glasses the size of his head and with disproportionately long arms and legs, playing all by himself in a fenced off back garden. That is not such a pleasant image to look back on now that I come to think of it.

I was overprotected as a child, no doubt. But I am not angry or disappointed with my parents for doing so because I am fully aware of that I was overprotected for a good reason. Douglas and Margaret had lost three children, all boys, before finally I came along. They were all stillborn and in spite of all the modern technology at the time there was nothing that could have been done. As much as my parents loved each other their genetic composition was appalling. In fact, it was deadly. A death gene, the doctors and the gentleman from the genetic research department said. And so they deprived me of a normal childhood in the sense that I could not jump on a trampoline due to my mother’s fear that I would fall, break my neck and die. I tried my very best to pretend I was fine even though I had a fever and a bad case of the flu, because how upset and worried my father got from the fear that I might have meningitis and die, hurt me far more than aching bones and a sore throat. Our travels were limited to a few hour day trips by train, to minimize the risk of death by car accident. My mother would pack our lunch so we sat and ate it quietly, safe in the knowledge that it was highly unlikely we would catch salmonella from the food at the chip shop down the road. I enjoyed these trips I remember. A shift in realities, if only for a day.

To be continued.

 

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