It just so happens that Chapter One of The Unremitting Coldness of Snow is written neither by Rich nor myself, but is composed by Ginsbergbear the teddy bear beat poet. The story opens in the penthouse bedsit where Phoebles and I, two ginger moggies, live above my catnip den in darkest Limehousesailortown. We share digs with Ginsbergbear and Ferdinand ‘Ferdy’ Desai, the very last dodo.
“Let’s go fly the kite.”
A single bare lightbulb hangs above a plain oilcloth covered table…
P sits near the sink deftly rolling catnip spliffs in his left hand and stashing them in an old bacci tin…
FD looks up mid gingerbiscuit… and I slouch in a corner making notes in an old jotter…
Kazan’s on the waterfront is showing on a TV… the sound turned down.
We vacate the bedsit and take the stairs to the whorehouse below. Sam the piano player in shirtsleeves is labouring over a challenging rendition of some Captain Beefheart number… bashing it out on a honkytonk upright. As we pass the bar P picks up a bottle of Spirytus Delikatesowy Polish Vodka.
Out on the street P cracks the seal and we each take a swig against the cutting wind. Glass filament rainstreaks sparkle in the street-lamplight… pewter puddles on dark cobbles downhill to the riverside quays… black-eyed warehouses lean inwards above us.
At the river stairs we board a dinghy… the Dornier DO-X is a dark shape moored out on the river… a cabin lamp illuminates the cockpit windows… shorelights reflect off the silver hull.
B is pulling on a string wound round an ancient Seagull. It coughs and splutters, throws out puthers of bluegrey exhaust, limps into life… drips cooling water.
phut phut phut phut phut
As the little craft approaches the flyingboat B swings her round into the tide and she bumps gently against the starboard stub. We clamber aboard.
P goes forward to cast off the mooring buoy… FD eases into the pilot’s seat… B flicks switches and taps dials… I smooth out a chart, hit on a route and return to my writing.
“We’ll pick up Mary-Lou first and then on to the Land of Green Ginger.” says FD.
“Mary-Lou? Who is May-Lou?” still FD.
“Names have been changed. Jack always changed everyone’s names.” I reply.
“You’ve not changed our names.” B has joined the conversation.
“You all have initials. What’d be the point of changing your initials? Anyway it’s my story and that’s the way it is.”
“Home of Hairy-Moo it is then.” FD pulls up the collar of his flying jacket. “Chocks away… fire her up.”
B flicks more and more switches… engines wheeze, chuck-chuck-chuck and purr. The craft bucks as she is taxied into the main channel, into the wind, and roars forward in an accelerating dash. Spray. The nose lifts and is pushed down to drag the stern free of the river’s grip. We trail river-lets.
Climbing and banking… scribing an elegant silver arc across the midnight sky.
THE VOID IS FULL OF STARS…