Monday, 6 May 2013





They say my mother was cursed by a travelling gypsy the night she gave birth to me. I can see the truth in that. I gave her nothing but cause to despair from the time I could totter on two legs. My father was a liar, a thief and a black-hearted bastard. He made his fortune off the backs and misery of other people. I inherited his evil streak and nasty temperament, and my, long suffering, mother’s good looks. A combination that was to serve me well, but would lead to my ultimate doom.

Both my parents died just short of my nineteenth birthday. My father was beaten to death, in the street, by a jealous husband. No doubt he is even now supping with the devil, in an honoured spot at the right hand of Beelzebub. My mother died of shame. I was their only son, though I had three older sisters, they were the wrong sex, so I inherited everything. My family was the closest thing to gentry in a pitiful, windswept place at the edge of the world. A few miserable acres on the side of a rocky mountain rented out to desperate men, who dig in the hard barren soil, barely growing enough to pay the rent, let alone feed their families.

There is not a woman between the ages of sixteen and thirty, within sight of the mountain and beyond who has not had promises of love and a better life from me. I take what I want and leave nothing… well, save for a few unwanted gifts, who will likely as not look me in the eye one day and spit in my face. With a sneer and a look of contempt I turn from their tears. I am truly my father’s son.

I’ve never had a taste for strong whiskey… okay, that’s a lie, not the last you’ll hear uttered from these lips. That’s what I am, a fibber, a twister of truths, a bull-shitter, a bloody liar. Not the worst thing I’ve been called either, a rogue and vagabond, a cheat and blackguard.  All true. One lesson I’ve learned, and learned it the hard way, no matter how big of an evil bastard you are, no matter how strongly meanness and nastiness runs through you, there is always someone meaner.

I first saw her on stage, I was transfixed, bewitched, I had to have her. To this day I wonder did she cast a spell on me. She was a dancer with a travelling show, all the way from the US of A, bringing a taste of the Wild West to the villages and towns of this backward land. To me she was exotic, the way she looked, the way she danced, the way she sounded. I sold the family land for half what it was worth, despite the protestations of my sisters, and paid for passage to America. From New York to Chicago we danced and drank, we laughed, we fought and we fucked. It was passionate, explosive passion. She told me she loved me, I told her I hated her, we both lied. We followed the gold trail west, in search of easy money and an easier life. All we found were sad desperate people scratching in the dirt, much like home I suppose. The money ran out, my inheritance squandered on opium and liquor. “What should we do now?” says I. She shrugged and smiled and closed the door behind her.

I have nothing, even the shirt on my back was stolen from a drunken cowboy as he slept in a stupor. “Good enough for him,” I can hear them say back home. They’re right too. I’m stuck here now, where the summers are too hot and the winters are too cold, where the whiskey would rot your gut and every second person wants to steal the eyes from your head. I’ve burnt my bridges and can never return.

Sometimes I conjure images of home, I can almost feel the soft rain on my face, hear the whistle of the wind through the trees on a moonlit night, or smell the pungent earthy smell of a freshly tilled field or an open peat fire. What I usually imagine, what occupies nearly every waking thought and haunts my dreams, giving me no respite even in sleep, is the taste of peaches from her lips, the hint of summer meadows in the air when she passes by. And that is no lie.