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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


A Cup of Coffee
Rest in Peace
The Smell of Civilisation
The Old Ladies
Sister Cecilia
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
Pont St Esprit
Mademoiselle Paul
Don Juan and the Goats

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

ISBN 978-1-905946-03-7


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Don Juan and the Goats

She threw herself at him and he caught her. He loved the way she pronounced his name and she pronounced it constantly. He loved her big brown eyes, for she had big brown eyes. And he coveted her lithe young body. Ah, to feel that living body pressing against his own! Ah, Paradise! Paradise that is a woman’s body melting under one’s touch, so that flesh becomes a deliquescence, a throb in the night!

But there was his wife—so solid in her domesticity, amidst children and cabbages and goats, in a dirty pinafore. Oh why, when all the novels and plays and poems in the world spoke of love and its ambrosial sweetness, must he be fastened to a dirty apron? He would snap the strings, with the finality of a fling for Life!

To look at him you would never guess the maelstrom of romantic feelings within him. He was rather short, sturdy in body, and curly-haired; and he walked with his head thrust backward from straight shoulders, with a short neck. Though his eyes were extraordinarily deep-set and blue, he wore big intellectual spectacles, for he was an intellectual. Yes, he discussed books, novels which had a pessimistic slant, which spoke of the inner corruption of ambitious men; and he liked to fancy himself compassionate, broad-minded, humble. Some women found him very attractive.

Lucinda was an extrovert. She breezed through life with the confidence of a fallen angel. She knew she could wind men round her little finger, and she was going to do it, for her own sake and for the sake of women in general—the oppressed sex. Not that Derek was simply her victim. No, she had a passion for him. Anyway, Derek eventually, gradually, became her lover.

After all, wasn’t it Paradise he was being offered, on a plate? Who could refuse the offer but a cold-hearted Angelo? And he was no Angelo. No, he was an eager consumer of Life’s bounties. No hypocrite he. What, “exercise restraint” and, as a consequence, be fed upon by all sorts of unhealthy desires? Be in the lists with Satan every day, taking the blows and rarely, so rarely, being able to return one? No, not he. Had he not learned, even from the writings of that uneven genius D. H. Lawrence, that desire was paramount?

No, he decided that that which bound him to his wife was a mere form, a false bond which must be broken. Besides, he thought, “Am I not now living a novel, and isn’t that worlds better than merely reading or even writing one? Isn’t Life to be preferred to Art?” So, in a way, he felt he was, essentially, on the side of the angels.

Yet he was not happy to see the sufferings of his wife, poor Barbara; and he was not happy in deceiving her. When it all came out there were dreadful scenes. But this, too, was Life, wasn’t it? Oh, if the heart and soul could withstand such storms, how much wiser and deeper would the heart and soul become!

What puzzled him was the indifference of his goats. Now that was silly, obviously. The goats weren’t to know anything, but they suggested a queer continuity in his life. There they were—bleating, nibbling, pissing, gazing peaceably about the world. While the world spun and shook; while the heavens whirled round vertiginously; while Derek’s heart was breaking, then bursting with happiness, then breaking again; while the tears poured down Barbara’s cheeks; while Lucinda was whispering words of love—the goats, the damned goats, went on chewing and pissing and gazing indifferently!

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