All her life she had wanted legs. Proper legs with feet, ankles, calves, knees and thighs. Yet circumstance had afforded her nought but wheels, small wheels at that. Little wrought iron ones. Wheels that required constant care. Oiling and such like.
Notwithstanding her shortcomings, she got out and about best she could. That is, until the day the local authorities had something of a retro brainwave. They cobblestoned the market square. She lived in a house on market square. So now she prayed for tarmac, as well as feet, ankles, calves, knees and thighs.
Then one day, quite out of the blue the sailor arrived in town. Breton shirt, beer belly. He drank vast quantities of rum, farted constantly, belched with pride, with gusto.
They met in a smoke laden bar, she in a wheelchair (Her wizened auntie had taken her out for some fresh air. Why she chose to go to a bar no one ever knew). The sailor was singing a ribald sea shanty at the time to the accompaniment of an accordion. He amused her. She caught his eye. The accordionist noticed too. A deafening silence ensued. A galaxy of drunkards turned about face embarrassing her more than a little.
A harlot, hanging on to the sailor’s arm for dear life flinched at his rancid breath, yet still held fast. Such is the fate of a girl short of gilders (Perversely, she cast a jealous eye at the girl with no proper legs with feet, ankles, calves, knees and thighs). Regardless his ‘Popeye on spinach’ forearm thrashed the harlot to Kingdom come.
In an instant, the sailor sobered up. Whereas he should have stumbled he straightened himself, walked over to the girl, planted the mother of all kisses upon her virgin lips, clicked his fingers, bellowed skyward at the heavens, and miraculously the girl had legs with feet, ankles, calves, knees and thighs.
With great care and eyes shut tight the girl ran her hands over her new limbs. They felt ever so fine.
When she opened them again she found herself on a yacht on the wide-open sea in the company of a handsome young man in a Breton shirt. From his place at the helm he winked and blew her a kiss.
All was well in her world.
The Man in the Breton Shirt, to be found somewhere in my book ‘Gentlemen Prefer a Pulse’ and was originally posted on WordPress 3 years ago in the format of a poem. I thought I would give it some fresh air as a short story.
As a musical accompaniment, Scott Walker’s rendition of Jacques Brel’s song, ‘The Port of Amsterdam’, to me the most ‘complete’ song ever written. It’s translation from French has done it no harm.