In the sizzling humidity that only the rainforest knows, a coverlet of brazen shadows hold sway. Albeit a pain in natures arse, here and there, scintillant chinks where razor sharp blades of sunlight cleave their way ever forward attempting to invade the battlefields canopy. Nearby, a peacock hoots, parakeets screech and in the far distant a lonely baboon barks. The constant pitch of the song of the cicadas, millions and millions of them, always together in an ensemble staging a white-noise concerto. Only when they heard the gunshots and the bombs did they call it a day.

In the ruins of a broken temple, now a makeshift infirmary in this time of conflict, there was nothing new about mortality. Skin and bone, organs surrendering, starvation and neglect, scratches and incidental bruising, the order of every bloody day.

He was found naked in the rainforest, already knocking on heaven’s door. She left him that way, such was his fever, let alone what was left of his black and blue body. Who was he? She hadn’t a blind clue. One thing she did know was that he was one of her own, an Englishman. Annoyingly, his age indeterminate, perhaps mid-thirties? His name? Fuck knows.

She sits at the end of his make-do bed offering circumspect words of sympathy spoken through a veil of guilty indifference. She was drained of all emotion, more so when talking to the unresponsive. False compassion would have to do. Long, long ago, or so it seemed, she’d tired of impending death all about her. There was nothing she could do to help. She could see it was his turn next, just not quite yet. Tomorrow most likely. Who knows?

Surprise! He stirred. Was it a death rattle? She couldn’t tell at first. Then, he spoke. It made her jump. He said he wanted his clothes. “What clothes? You arrived here as you are. Sorry about that,” her shameless, apathetic reply.

She left him for a moment, then returned bestowing her own sweat-ridden dressing gown. He bemoaned the fact that it was girly pink and likely too short. She explained it is all there is. “Take it or leave it.” He took it. Insisting he dressed himself, he almost succeeded yet his fragile grasp gave up on him. Even then he refused assistance. He stayed as he was.

Then, in her further absence, he spilled the water she had given him when his tumbler detonated on landing. His own trembling hands surprised him, he really thought they were still functional, hence his thirst endured. Where the fuck is she? He thinks to himself, ‘fiasco’. She’s ‘an accident waiting to happen’. Pointless cruelty had got the better of him.

As best he could, he inspected his scrawny legs. What had happened to his strong soldier’s legs? Muscle wastage meant ‘abort mission’; he remembered that.

On her return, he once and for all declined the garb on offer. Too much effort. Having calmed a little he tells her his life story. Unique to him; commonplace to her; she’s listened enough of it lately. To her, he was just another combatant, bereft of dignity, left to die. A jungle can never be a hospitable. That alone had her thinking, ‘Why waste my time when he’ll be dead shortly.’ At that she hated herself. There was a time when she’d do anything to save a life.

Later, after dusk, she gathered he is a poet-turned-conscript. A man in abstract. While listening to his ‘off and on’ strained voice, she wiped his brow. The word ‘epilogue’ came to mind. In the twinkling of an eye, he shut listless eyes and drifted away. For keeps. No fuss.’

Out of unfeigned guilt, she screamed for this God person she once trusted for help; to allow her just a single teardrop, for the soldier-come-poet. Nothing came. Whatever soul she had had hardened. Her belief in anything, zero. She wanted to be a human being again, but wars don’t permit that. Only when they carried his pulverised carcass away did she weep.

My new book, THE OUTRAGEOUS ‘MISS APRIL FOOL’ will be alive and out there very soon. It’s a ‘Risqué romance betwixt an English gentleman and an untamed provocative mademoiselle, both of them living within a time-travelling mystery born of an evil beast, to unravel.tome. Below, the book covers put together by my son, George. He’s done me proud

Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved save for Dire Straits music and the featured image artwork. Unauthorised copying, reproduction, hiring, and lending, prohibited.


44 thoughts on “MAN IN ABSTRACT

  1. A powerful story Mike. One I was very sick when I was station in Honduras. Three nurses took care of me in a Army Honduras medical location. Easy to adore the nurses. A outstanding story shared my friend.

      1. That’s very kind of you, young Ms. S. As it happens I’ve just finished my new book. What with unpleasant IBS and the new addition, namely a heart issue…one of the heart pills battles with the IBS and sends me insane…that kicked in in the autumn, to the extent that we cancelled Christmas this year, it’s taken me 15 months to finish writing. Rachel is on the case and it should be ready to launch shortly. May I send you a copy? It’s a risqué tale…most of mine are…with a good chunk of romance. I’d never realised just how hard writing believable romance is. All the best, for you, the mistress of romance, and yours. Regards, Mike

      2. Mike, I will happily buy a copy when it is out. i saw that too and I know ti’s been a difficult time for you healthwise so hats off cos it is not easy writing any book whatever the genre. Writing believable romance is incredibly difficult. At the end of the day a reader has to feel that this pair are going to make it and are meant to be but they don’t want their intelligence insulted along the way. Looking forward now to seeing your book. Congratulations. It is none of it easy. Not with all the distractions life throws our way.

      3. Please don’t buy it. I would never have gone into book writing were it not for your crucial advice etc. I’ll post it your way once it’s up and done. Illness wise I’ve had a few laughs on the way…Carry On films style. I will never forget the young Indian…lovely girl…nurse popping into the room pointing out that I’d put my gown on ‘back to front and inside out’. That day, I’d not slept for 48 hours, nor eaten anything either, per the hospitals request. I was on a different planet, yet I found myself chatting away to her, then realising I’d nothing on, while she was trying to dress me properly given that I’d failed the task. How embarrassing was that! She and I certainly had a good laugh. Me, the old fool, she, the nurse with a sense of humour. Over all, I’m OK; my only curse the IBS when it’s in a bad mood, because that means I get into an equivalent mood. It’s a strange old world the older one gets. Such is life. All the best, Mike

      4. Mike, you’re so talented you’d have well done this without any advice. You also pick up on all the small details in life,m the things like you’ve just talked about. Vital for a writer. Wishing you many good days re the IBS xxx

      5. Kind words, appreciated. I’m thinking of using this post and turning it into a story. I’ve got the nurse in this blog already. She can lead the way, and ensure my sanity. Thanks again…the April Fool, daughter of Mayday, book will be on its way when it’s put together.

  2. Sometimes these things work so nicely. Loved the paintings, so looked up George on Google. Led me back to his WP blog. Now I just downloaded his Rainbow’s End album off Apple Music. Hugely talented young man.

  3. Your story was very moving, Mike. It and the song brings my older brother to mind. He was drafted right out of high school and ended up in Vietnam. A long way from home for a farm boy. He came back home, but his time over there yet stays with him.

      1. When my father went bonkers at the end of his long life he did the one thing he’d never touched on previous, namely his time in a prisoner of war camp in Poland. He’d been captured outside of Dunkirk and at just 19 years he spent 4 years plus a few months there. We’re talking horrible things, even worse his camp was next to a well-known concentration camp. I won’t go into that. It breaks my heart to even think of it. I can understand your brother’s own take re a war. All the best to him. Mike

  4. Brilliant story! It is very sad that ever since before and until today war is still the society public enemy and destroying countless of innocent soul.

  5. A harsh tale, TOF.
    It seems like a war long ago. Yet, if it were not for the rainforest setting, it could be one of many places today.
    War is like some horrid, mean practical joke humans play on themselves.

    However, the book covers are FAB! George is quit talented.

    1. My thanks, young Resa. The setting is WW2, but I deliberately made no mention of that. I’ve already started turning this one into a book. It’ll keep me vaguely sane for a tad longer. To end that war when the two atomic bombs went off they instantly killed an estimated 214,000 humans…innocent humans, children especially, for the main part. That’s no way to end a battle twixt soldiers. TOF

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