David Lewis Paget
Strip Jack! - Poem by David Lewis Paget
We'd been caught out in the yacht that day,
A storm blew up in the lee,
The clouds had gathered at four o'clock
In the wake of a rising sea,
'It's looking grim, ' I had said to her
As we spun the bows around,
And headed in to the distant shore
As the first of the rain came down.
The sun went in and the sky was black
As I reefed the sail in short,
While Linda pulled in the spinnaker,
And clung to the rail's support,
She made her way to the cabin then
As my phone began to ring,
I heard, 'It's done! ' and my mind went numb,
It was time to do my thing!
She stood with her back toward me as
I lunged with the marlin spike,
She dropped like a faded butterfly
In search of its last midnight,
I dragged her out to the afterdeck
And bound her up in the chain,
Then sent her down with the anchor where
She never would wake again!
I cast off the anchor chain and then
I retched all over the deck,
It had to be done, I told myself,
And I thought of her cousin, Beck,
She'd done the deed we'd agreed upon,
Had seen off her husband, Ben,
So Beck would be mine to have and hold
As I'd dreamed and I'd schemed, back when.
We'd always been close, the four of us,
Had holidayed in the snow,
We'd sat in a dark secluded bar
In the aftermath of a show,
We'd played Strip Jack in the garden 'til
The women were stripped to the waist,
Then each of us swapped, and went to bed,
And woke to a different face!
We thought we could get away with it,
Old friends, just casual sex,
We'd been together so long, we had
No clue what would happen next,
I thought that Linda was furtive,
Making eyes at Ben in the dark,
And I was caught in a whisper then,
With Beck in our local park.
Then Ben and I found the silences
Embarrassing, hard to bear,
Where once we'd laughed and we'd joked
That camaraderie wasn't there,
Then Beck had told me he'd soured on her,
And Linda, too, went strange,
So when we swapped, we schemed and planned
With our partners out of range.
'I think he's planning to murder me, '
Said Beck, on a tearful night,
When she curled up tight in the sheets and cried,
And seemed in an awful plight,
'I wonder what they're planning now, '
She said, in the early dawn,
Then I thought of Linda's silences,
And Ben, and I felt forlorn.
Then Beck had told me she loved me so,
And drove me out of my mind,
I knew that I'd do most anything
For the wife of my former friend,
She said one day that she had a plan,
To rid herself of Ben,
'But you must do what you have to do
When I phone, and tell you when! '
I tied the yacht to the outer Quay
Drove homeward, just as we'd planned,
I thought to report the following day
That she'd left for another man,
But when I opened the old front door
I saw them sitting there,
Both Ben, alive, in the dining room,
And Beck with a frightened stare!
'Where's Linda, ' Ben was the first to speak,
And I just froze - he knew!
But Beck said, 'I tried phoning her,
I thought she was with you.'
And then she showed me the frosted cake
She'd worked on all day through,
'It's for your anniversary,
She'd planned a surprise for you! '
I pulled the cell phone out, and stared,
The phone had been my wife's,
My own I'd left in the den downstairs,
That message cost her life.
'It's done! ' meant the anniversary cake,
I hadn't said a word,
Now Ben looked long and hard at me,
'Where's Linda? ' - then he stared!
I said that she must be out somewhere,
Then opened a cask of wine,
Sat back, as Ben filled the tumblers full
I knew, for the final time.
'Here's to your anniversary, '
He said, as we drank the toast,
And I thought I could see by the window there
The shape of my Linda's ghost.
But Beck had choked on the wine, and gasped,
Her mouth a purple hue,
She stared and sighed in a faint surprise
As the truth came into view.
'She's dead, my friend, did you think I'd lend
My wife for the sake of yours?
I knew the play and it ends today,
Where's Linda - Dead? Of course! '
There wasn't another word to say,
We sat and drank in the dark,
With Beck spread over the table like
Some rag doll, left in the park.
I read the anniversary card
That Linda had left for me:
'To the only man I have ever loved...
On our anniversary! '
14 February 2010
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