The Dorley Cycle III

Part: I and Part: II




As I walked outside I kept hearing Eli call my name, call me back in, asking what was going on, (was he not hearing the song?) and I thought he’d be waking up his father with all the yelling, or maybe his father was already dead and couldn’t hear a damned thing.

Good, I thought, he’d go crazy if he was to hear this.

There were no words anymore, only a low frequency throb in my ears and my head.

I kept thinking about the old fisherman and how he deafened himself, because the siren silenced her song to him. But now I was sure although he didn’t ever hear her, the memory of the vibrations lived inside him, knocking from inside his head. He didn’t die in peace.

I wouldn’t die in peace.

She wasn’t anywhere to be seen; only her sickening melody hung in the air like some sort of premonition.

I walked aiming at the night, half-mad, half-sober. Her song had me tightly gripped in a haze that tempered with the volume of her voice altering it each time I changed my course, making me sick with nausea.  It corresponded with me in its own way, buzzing low whenever I drifted and booming loud, a thousand small wings flapping altogether in an echoing chamber that was my head whenever I came closer. My knees bumped into something solid in the dark and I found the wooden body of a small boat pushed onto the shore. No doubt my ride.

I left the speargun inside and pushed the vessel into the sea, climbing over inside, dislocating the paddles and smashing them inside the water, sailing onwards.

Soon enough the darkness swam with me and I swam with the voice, desperately clinging to notations. I looked up and saw stars and I no longer knew which was up and which was down, because their reflection was my sky and their true selves were my bottom. I thought the stars were singing; when I looked ahead I thought the gaping void of the night was singing, symphony of the strained. But as the song began to escape my grasp, my hearing of it slowly disappearing into my surrounding, I moaned and I lost my directions, my sense of the present.  It waved such a lonely goodbye, leaving me mentally deaf.

I sat in the darkness, middle of the sea with the twinkling windows of the cabins, dots in my background and I waited for the song to start again, humming it’s melody to my rocking body and my vague mind. The ring in my ears was all that remained. She had taken away every other noise the world had to me, and I realized, never before had I addressed the frightening possibility of not knowing anymore how the water buckling against the boat sounds. I listened, hearing nothing. I listened and I felt myself sob, my stomach clench and feeling my heart give in to fear and paranoia. The boat rocked ever so lightly and I clutched the speargun tightly to my chest, grazing my finger over the trigger.

When the fuck did these old nightmares of mine become real and carnivorous? I wasn’t asking for them, I didn’t need a proof. I needed them to stay here and stay fake.  I laughed. I was waiting with a loaded spear into a fuckin’ handmade gun to shoot it through the head of a siren, and I was liking the idea of that happening. She had robbed me of some imaginary sweet emotion and I…I was…

It wasn’t long before I noticed how dry my throat and my mouth were and how much I longed for water to wash down the dryness. I had slumped down, lying in the boat, and it was nearly the break of dawn, the sky lighter.  My limbs were cold and numb when I urged myself up into a sitting position.

Something disturbed the balance of the boat sinking it lower. It jerked my body, and I looked up to see an enormous figure hovering over me. Large claws had now dug into the edge of the boat, crunching it, peeling it off as it maneuvered to steady itself and I followed up the large, strong bird legs, feathered in brown and black. It was a she, a woman, at least her torso was. Though feathered from her tights up, her breasts were uncovered as were her neck and face. From the elbow down she had no hands. Her skin extended into a ruffled feathered limb that ended with a clawed hawk-like grip. She stepped into the boat and the planks groaned beneath her weight.

She looked at me, mouth agape, her tongue nuzzling her lower lip. She was hungry, wasn’t she?

“You killed my lover. You murdered my soul mate.”  It was all she said, and unlike the little mermaid, this being held grudge and anger in her voice, a voice that kept me concentrated on her words towards me, but isolated me from knowing anything else. The walls of my eardrums bled again. Warmth spread down my neck.  She wasn’t singing for my pleasure but for my torment.  Every word she uttered was clothed in a hushed version of the melody of her song.

Shaken I lifted and pointed the speargun at her chest, putting it right between her breasts.

“Fuck you.”

She pushed it aside, sending it flying from my numb hands into the sea. Her foot came into my face, clawing each sharp nail to skin. She dragged it down peeling off skin from my forehead and cheeks and I screamed in pain, pushing her backwards, feeling the wrath of her battle cry slam me down.  She kicked me in the gut and tossed me off board, and I splashed in the cold water where her song spread like cancer and choked me.

I half expected her to plunge after me and when she did she circled me like a predator. I saw only blood and nothing as she clawed into me pushing me down.  The salt stung on my wounds like a bitch.

“One little mermaid on the shore with a man, one little man with a rock in his hand, one little mermaid with blood in her hair, one little man swimming dead.”

She was cruel, my brain told me, as my lungs began collapsing.  The siren persisted at her torture.

“Look at what you’ve done!”

A corpse floated over me, the damaged head hanging low and the wounds oozing light pink pus. The mermaid’s whitened eyes stared into me, her mouth contorted, and then the crystal bright eyes of the siren stared into me as she clawed herself tighter to my shoulders and pushed me down.

I tossed my head back closing my eyes, letting death and legends kill me, but in the flash of shutting my lids I glimpsed the slender form of the speargun sinking ahead of me.

I stretched my hands looking for a grab. The siren screamed and beated her wings causing typhoons underwater. As she made choice to tear my torso I made one final attempt having the speargun in my hands.

I shot the spear.

Blood encircled me in a burst and I saw her head tilt back her eyes flip and her song cease. She fell into the darkness, an ugly bird in the flight of dead, her face frozen in the grimace of her fury.

I saw her disappear to the bottomless sea, before all faded to black.

Chapter IV



The Dorley Cycle II

Part I




 “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.

“ Aaaaaaaaaaooooouuuuuuuaaaaaaa”

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.


Chapter III

The Dorley Cycle





When I was a boy, I knew a fisherman who took his own hearing after he came ashore one night. He never sailed again, and I watched him just sit on the rocky beach, deaf and mute by the drowsiness of the liquor, watchful over uneasy waters.

I couldn’t understand what made him hurt himself and didn’t buy the local stories of sirens and mermaids and fuckin’ Lovecraft sea monsters. This here, a little fisherman town called Dorley, is full of old legends enough for the whole North Shore and I’ve sat through pub talks and old drunk’s tales plenty of times. I never liked them, those stories of lonely beings with lost souls, drowning in their own insanity before being drowned with force by some entity of the depths. Nor I liked the poeple who told them. Sweet seduction in the quiet of the waves, they called it. I stayed away for a long time, until now.

I knew that fisherman before he went deaf. He had a mad sparkle in his eye and madness is all a crazy idea needs. The sea makes you mad sometimes and I often imagined I’d strangle myself if I worked on a boat or tie a weight and jump overboard. The sea here is different, that I’ll tell you. I saw it ten years ago and I see it now, and it’s the fucking same.  It’s old as the men in this town and unsettled as their women. It’s absent, just a background picture, just like their children.

So when a fisherman goes mad and pokes his eardrums with a fish gutting knife it’s no shock. It’s a mild disturbance that lasts until the next day. It turns the people colder and makes the mad even madder.

I’d be quitting here today, right now, get on the bus to Boston and sleep all the way through the ride if it wasn’t for a dying uncle and a money spending cousin stuck in one of the small fisherman cabins a few yards off shore. I had to come. There was no one else. Dying the uncle, probably he was, coughing and smelling of death and fish and sea weed, or maybe he was like that forever and I was just made notice, but the cousin, he was an obnoxious little shit that took my wallet and cashed a twenty on booze and cigarettes. I’m not rude nor lose my temper fast, but he did that for me and I broke his pinky finger and gave his whole body a new aching sensation. He sat put for the next week boiling water and eggs, gutting fish and cleaning his father’s pot.  He knew better the next time he had an idea to pinch and run.

I sat watching him pace around the narrow cabin, a boy in his teens with a red hoodie, and I knew I had to take him with me when I buried his father and left. He had nowhere else to go, definitely not anywhere around his whore of a mother in Milwaukee. I’d set him up, I would. A decent job to earn his living, something in mechanics perhaps.  The kid’s fast and steady with his hands. He’d do well. I’ll let him stay in my apartment until he gets his own, that’s what I’ll do. All will be good.

Until then I’m here with the sick and the dying and the young and the lost, and there isn’t much to do around; if you want to stay away from the people and the fisherman cabins and the small town above, you walk up and down the rocky shore at night. No one else does that.

I walked kicking water and small black stones. The evenings are windy and the wind is cold. It comes from afar, because it smells unlike the wind from the day. It’s more salty on the tongue and harsher on the face.  Away from the cabins and the dim lights the world is another and the moonless sky and the night and the sea are all other, hushed and lullaby like, solid colors and pale silhouettes.

I sat on a rock and threw a few more stones I picked up before. They were momentarily swallowed by the next wave, but the wave spat something back out, something large and tangled in a net.

I dropped from the rock and went ankle deep to look closer at the figure stretched on the shore. A figure it was, I was sure of that because as I drew closer I glimpsed the whiteness of the fingers poking through the gaps in the net.

It was a woman, a beautiful and young woman with long black hairs. Her body was naked and she had perfect small breasts and a flat belly. My gaze traveled down the length of her body and I saw she had no legs where there should be, but a tail, a long and thick limb clothed in scales.  Her skin was dirty by the sand, but I could see how white it was; it illuminated, almost radiant and I felt my breath halt; I fought the urge to stretch my hand and glide it over her shoulders. The scales were translucent in bluish-green that made the tiny droplets of water stuck to her tail pulsate like thousands of pearls glued to her.

The net she had tangled herself in was rusty and old, sunk to the bottom perhaps. It had cut to her neck and wrists, and was slicing into her tail. I grimaced knowing how much it must hurt.

When she opened her eyes, I didn’t flinch nor backed, only stared down at her, remembering all those stories of sirens and mermaids and sea monsters. So, they were true stories after all. Fuck. Instead of being frightened or tempted, and instead of asking how and why, I had another thought on my mind. Maybe I’d gone mad being here where sea legends bred and grow, and maybe I had too much sea air in my lungs to care much about sense and reason, but I knew what I was seeing before me and it didn’t stress me at all. It made me angry.

She watched me circle her, and struggled to get free from the net. It only dug deeper into the wounds and she let out a small moan of pain. It aroused my interest, hearing this creature mutter a sound. I stepped behind her and again she tried to push herself back into the next wave, but I grabbed her by the hair and pulled her further out onto the shore. Hugged between the black masses of two erect rocks, we were alone.

“Do you sing to men until they go mad and kill themselves?”


Chapter II