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Jackdaw
&
Other Stories

M. B. Mencher

This book is ideal for snatching a quarter of an hour’s escape from the daily chores or the too familiar journey to work, but, when you put all the stories together, you will find that they amount to a fairly substantial presentation of life in the round.

Jackdaw & Other Stories was published on 1 May, 2008

Cover

Contents
A Cup of Coffee
Neighbours
Rest in Peace
Time
The Smell of Civilisation
The Old Ladies
Sister Cecilia
Simberg
Jackdaw
Ashkenazi
Boche
Nest of Mice
The Sick Man
The Scientists
The Latin Master
The Driver
The Kabbalist
The Fascist
On the bus to Sortino
Mr Doshi
The Angel
A Wrong Word
An Encounter in Riva
Pensione Garibaldi
Parkin-Jewel
Pont St Esprit
Mademoiselle Paul
Don Juan and the Goats
Tamar

This edition is a 272 page 5"x8"paperback.

ISBN 978-1-905946-03-7

 

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A Cup of Coffee

“We started off in one bed, then we had twin beds, then he slept downstairs, now he’s in Brighton!”

The little woman, with the red Caucasian hat, smiled and the young man looked deep into her cloudy brown eyes which were still lovely.

“So you had lovers?”

“Oh, many lovers. I have lived in Paradise, you know. Well, at the beginning of each affair. But then I knew when my men were going to leave me. I could see it in their eyes. Men are such fools! They imagine we don’t know.”

She laughed.

“Oh yes. And then there was the long period of rest.”

“Of rest?”

“Eight years. Yes, I slept for eight years. They tried to wake me up—with ‘shock treatment’ and such-like. It was absurd. Bloody silly!”

The expression sounded wrong in her foreign voice.

“Sleep. I watched the bloody silly television and read scores and scores of pages of trash every day. My work was ruined. I could do nothing. But then I woke up and my life became full of activity. Much fuller than yours is.”

There seemed no point in arguing with her.

“My husband. He was a queer man. Oh yes. Do you know what he did? He made me paint my face, inches thick—”

She made a little gesture, at the side of her face, with her hand, signifying disgust.

“—and I had to wear tight skirts. So tight! And I had to stand at Piccadilly Circus until some man tried to pick me up. Then my husband would walk up and say, ‘I’m sorry, this is my wife!’ It made him feel so good to know that other men wanted me. I don’t think he wanted me himself. But afterwards, we would go home and make love.”

She laughed again.

“But it is a long time ago now. How old are you?”

“Thirty-nine.”

“Oh, thirty-nine. And how old do you think I am? I’m sixty-six and I don’t care who knows it. I know a lot of young men.”

She was petite, yet plump, and wore a long summer dress, with a necklace of beans, yes beans, round her throat. One of her boyfriends, she said, had given her the necklace. It was very attractive. And she had the little, round, velvet hat, red, with nice embroidery on it.

“What is your work then?” the young man asked.

“I’m a photographer, a famous photographer. I represent England at international exhibitions. I photograph nudes.”

He wondered for a moment whether she wanted to photograph him.

“Will you come to my house?”

“Well, that would be very nice,” he said.

“Yes. Tell me,” she said, getting out a little book from her handbag, “what is your address?”

“I do like your hat,” he said.

She laughed.

“Don’t change the subject,” she said, opening the little book and getting ready to write.

He gave his address in a slightly incorrect form, so that she would not be able to trace him; and he wrote down her address on a paper serviette.

And he wondered how much of what she had said was true and whether she was simply a sad old lady trying desperately to maintain an illusion of her sexual potency. Or perhaps she was as well supplied with admirers as she claimed. But, as he looked, deep, into her deep-brown eyes, he thought how lovely they were, how they shone with life, and how they were eyes made in the image of God’s eyes—and how they resembled the eyes of his mother.

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