THE DORLEY CYCLE
“Why don’t you sing to me?”
She remained silent only hissing at me and watching me go around and around. When I didn’t speak again she did. Her voice was as firm as her gaze upon me and meticulous like her slow painful movements inside the net. It had an accent to it, which I couldn’t pin to a place and a time, but she spoke her English with pauses.
“I am not the singer of the oceans and the seas. It is my sisters, but they have been silent for eternities. They are dead. They sang only to those who begged them to. Sailors out of their path, men lost to their lands. They wanted a good song, a melody that sounded like home so they can die with the sea in peace.”
I stopped walking and knelt before her at a safe distance. Now at one level with her I could see the glimmer of green in her dark orbs. It was like a shard of glass stuck in there, shimmering whenever she moved her eyes. The deepest green inside the darkest black, those were her eyes. Mesmerized I caught myself smiling and bit the smile back. She was no entertainment.
“That’s about fucking stupid. You sing to men, lulling them so they can forget who they are and let you drown them. I’ve heard the stories.”
“Is not me! They are all lies!”
I looked at her awhile longer, at her beautiful wet face contorted by hatred towards me her captor. Then I moved closer, intimidating her, intimidating myself. And I told her a little story.
“Long time ago I knew a fisherman who often sailed in the late hours and returned after dusk. One day though he never made it home and people began talking he’d been taken by the sea. But as soon as the sun touched the water he came back, yellow as an ill man and quiet as death. He screamed that day and the entire town heard him and came down on his door. He’d taken his own hearing, they said. He’d been sitting on his bed with his gutting knife in bloody hands. I used to see him just sit on this rocky shore after that and he’d hum, I remember this melody, what was it “mmmm nana mmmmm nanana”. He hummed that melody and cried. Well one day he spoke to me when I sat next to him on the shore. “I can’t hear her anymore” he said and he cried more. I thought he was crazy. Hear who? Now I know what he meant. “
“So after what I’ve told you, are you going to tell me he didn’t hear the siren’s call?”
As if I had stumbled upon some truth I was not meant to know, her eyes widened and her bottom lip quivered. My view expanded and clouded and I was fog myself for a brief there. My mythology retrograded in a single moment and I knew by the expression on her face and the throb in my chest that she was a lying creature of murder and I had her defenseless and terrified. I had her punishable for all those mythical crimes and sea graves, and for those stories I so greatly despised. The sea was at rage somewhere in the distance, or maybe that was just all in my ears, but the same feeling of rage seeped into me, salty and moist, till it was mingled in the very structure of my bones.
“Let me go, please, I haven’t done you any harm.”
Her voice was now soothing, as he pleaded me to release her. In the darkness I stretched my hand behind me fumbling at the rocky sand.
“I’m going to let you go.”
She looked at me.
“My name is Jackson Dee, and I’m not a bad man.”
My fingers curled around something solid. I kept my eyes on hers and she kept averting hers to somewhere behind me like she was expecting someone. Then her gaze fell on my hand and the pointy rock I was holding for her to see and she bellowed, wriggling inside the net, pushing herself away from me. I stood watching her struggle and plead and promise me no murder was committed by her. But I had the rock and the rage of the sea in my ears.
“I’m not a bad man.”
It seemed to be happening to a another person, a surreal experience that only came true once I had my fingers dipped in a warm red color. It was my hand that swung the rock and crashed it on her head, one, two, three times, until her tail stopped beating at the sand. I looked at the rock, bits of skull and locks of hair stuck to it and threw it in the water. Her body was stretched on the shore, now motionless in the tight embrace of the net. I wanted to touch the illuminating skin before its magic fades away, but then I’d stain it with red. I rejected myself that privilege. I wasn’t feeling alright, and I didn’t know if crying was suitable, or throwing up was, whether my head should feel heavy or my feet should carry me away.
It was quiet and I was grateful. Fuck, I was somehow ecstatic too.
And then I wasn’t, hearing this new type of scream, very close and very loud, a bird shout that sounded human and in pain. A battle cry I thought and I looked down at the lifeless body, thinking how she looked behind my shoulder searching for someone.
Now closer the shout was agonizing; it made my ears bleed.
As I ran my way to the cabin, slipping on wet rocks and fearing the crash of the waves, waves that washed at the body of the mermaid, I could still hear that epochal scream which came from within the sea. I could hear what I thought to be the flap of wings somewhere above me. I closed the door of the small cabin behind me, locking it. Eli jumped to his feet at the sight of me, shite no doubt.
“What the fuck happened to you?”
“Mind your fucking tongue boy.”
He retreated, not wanting another finger broken, and I regretted biting back at him. He looked frighetened and I looked for something to keep me from being so. The unpainted closed door to my uncle’s narrow bedroom stared at me and I remembered something propped against the wall across his sick bed. I got an idea.
“Go fetch the speargun and make sure it’s loaded.”
No questions asked he came back with a homemade beauty longer then my arm and loaded with a sharp tipped spear.
“ Your dad made this?”
He nodded. “ I sharpened the spear. It should pierce through shark skin.”
“You better have sharpened it good enough boy.”
I touched the trigger seeing it sunk easily and lifted my finger off it. My cousin watched my blood soaked hands, thinking fuck knows what.
“ What was that?!”
She screamed and I shouldn’t have led her do so, comforted by the volume of a roaring sea and a faraway deaf town. To answer honestly to the question I would have to answer first to the which soared the skies with the wings of a bird and the voice of a….
He came upon a sight
One night at Dorley’s cove
Down hushed by rocks and waves
He met one lovely lass
She was but a frightened creature
Which looked to be in pain
Her eyes half green half black
Met those of him
Who wandered there
Say, why don’t you just free me
I fear I may be lost
I won’t do you any harm boy
But kiss you and sail home
He smiled at her calmly
And promised he’d do more
But pierced by the Devil
He struck her and fled home
All the instruments of the Greek isles played at the melody of her voice and she instructed them to tickle at my ear, flutes and strings and harps, making my knees weak and my head light, taunting me, while her lips whispered sweetness into my face, calling me to participate in the most frightening myths of all. She sang to me unlike the way she sang to those men at sea. Seduced I probably was, by the lyrical mistress and shocked – I was wrong, I had been all along, and my disbelief had come to punish me, telling me my own story of this night, rhyming my own crime. I had heard the pained scream of the siren, but now I was hearing her song, her calling, and speargun in hand I followed the gentle voice outside.