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Issue 16 - October 1973
A Gothic Tale
Cherry Angelica was walking home after a night's drinking, along a straight road which had at one point a graveyard on either side. One of the walls had recently erected barbed-wire and rough sacking on it to prevent the prurient gaze of passing pedestrians and bus-stop travellers. The graveyards were of elaborate Victorian architectural design. They had no great deep age. All the tombs were grand and contained the rich. Stone angels stretch out now blackened hands reassuringly to the saddened visitor. As with most good graveyards, ferns were overgrowing freely amongst rich succulent wild plants with purple petals, damp with the tears of the dead. Rodents with sparkling eyes found this an unworried paradise until the plans for the new motorway were put into action. The graves were to be uplifted and taken to another yard and the enormous Gothic gateway to be uprooted and moved also. Angelica was not unlike one of the marble angels which watched over the dead and looked greedily after the living as eventual customers. With these thoughts in mind he noticed a SAFE-CORE guard standing in the shadow of the beautiful arch, armed with a shotgun and dog.

"Oh." Angelica's hands fluttered to his chest. "What a surprise you gave me. What on earth have you a gun for?"

The guard had noticed his lightfooted approach from a distance.

"Av a licence to wound, but not kill."

"But why? What are you guarding, not your virginity?"

"It's the gold and rings they go after."

Angelica gave him an understanding, if sarcastic look.

"They usually do. But is it illegal now?" This passed unanswered. "It must be a spooky job on a dark night like this. Don't you ever get nervous?"

The guard, failing to notice the irony in Angelica's voice, braced himself; "Nar, nar, av a place for a cup of tea and that. Would you care for one?"

The invitation surprised him, but the thought of going through the dank graveyard had a kind of lurid appeal.

"Ee, I don't know, really." Or, 'yes, persuade me'.

"You'll be alright man, the dog's harmless." The huge German Alsatian cowed away from an inquisitive look from Angelica.

"I'm not so sure it's the Alsatian that worries me."

Through the arch the trees and overgrown bushes were silhouetted against a faint skyline. Damp stone angels. Blank eyes uplifted or turned towards the visitors. Mouths agape.

A lifesize marble Jesus with long hair gently flowing over his perfectly shaped shoulders, hands open and a soporific smile; pseudo-Greek tombs with pillars of elegant construction. All were blackened by the rain and industrial soot. Such smooth classical figures reassured the moneyed classes of heaven based on elegance and fine perception. Their houses full of delicate figures with fragile fingers accumulating a consumable value. A taste, or foretaste, of heaven, catches the eye in front of a marble replica of Michael Angelo's David. The perfectly proportioned angels purchased as guardians of the dead. Such peace and beauty made life worth living for the rich wretches trapped in the otherwise hell of the industrial north.

Angelica and the guard were in a small chapel where the last prayers were said for the fortunately departed. Where tears of envy were shed for those of us lucky enough to be transported to the land of light and white robes, of ecstatic Latin choruses and truly transparent smiles, where over the ground under the naked foot was as soft as soapfoam.

"Through here. This one looks a bit like yee eh?" The guard pointed to a marble angel. This was enough. A laugh perhaps, but sufficient assurance that he was actually being taken for what he was. With trembling fingers he stroked the naked thighs of the winged being by the darkened altar. Both hands pushed his immaculate white hair into shape, instinctively using the angel as a full length mirror. Pursed his lips and followed through, to a smaller stone room with tables end to end around it. Harry, the guard, made tea. Angelica volunteered the lie that he was a visitor from London. Harry replied:

"Av been there once before, about five years ago. I had nowhere to stay and I met this lovely fella who let me stay with him. You would have liked him. Made you want to cuddle him he was such a lovely fella." Angelica shuffled on his chair:

"Oh, yes?"

"Oh, aye, I slept in his bed. There was nowhere else. And he was such a nice fella, ah got up him in the morning." The note of confessional crudity delighted Angelica who with comforting simplicity and encouraging inquisitiveness asked:

"Was it nice?"

"Aye." Harry paused: "Do you like it?"

"Well I wouldn't say no."

"Ad betta tell yi, ah divint take it an ah divint hev it in the mooth."

Angelica reassured him: "That's all right, because I do. Both."

With that they set to, Harry up Angelica's cherubic arse, across the table.

"This is where they lay them oot, yi know?" Angelica was a bit taken aback and said sarcastically:

"Thanks very much."

The dawn came through with Harry halfway down Angelica's throat and a chorus from the nearby convent chapel. Harry made some tea and, looking a bit embarrassed, said:

"I hope you don't suffer from post-coital guilt."

Angelica flicked his eyelashes:

"I couldn't afford the stamp."

"Oh aye: if you come back next Saturday we can have an orgy. Bring a few crates of beer."

"Just you and me, you mean?"

"Nar ave got about twenty laid out downstairs. Do you want to see them?" Pulling up his pants and issuing a polite refusal, he strode past the altar to the door. Harry shouted after him:

"Me wife doesn't mind. What I do in me own time is me own business, we've agreed on that. Bring a few bottles next time."

Angelica, delighted with the dawn, left the other angels and walked home.