A beat up car that brings back memories of Jeannie Yu

March 21, 2013

I came across this old beat car by chance. Bought it from the owner who told me that if I removed it as soon as possible – I would be doing him a big favor. I intend to restore it back to its former glory. I am good with my hands. You could say it brings back old memories. Memories that are both sweet and bitter – but nonetheless, they are my memories.

There are times when I feel many of my readers do not realize how much of what a author writes is based on real life experiences and encounters. If only they knew…..if…. 

The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster in London – Chapters 17 & 18 “An Account of an English Miner’s Wife”

Extracted from the e-novella (condensed version) The Confessions has todate sold 300,021 copies and has been translated into 39 languages – it remains the best seller by Darkness – this has been brought to you by the Brotherhood Press.

In Wales, located some six hundred miles or so North of London – lies the sleepy town of Llanwrtyd Wells hidden snuggly between two towering mountains – hikers often recount to other each somewhere mid- way up those steep valleys, how they could make out every detail of this tiny toy village, with it’s red roof church spire which tilted ever so slightly, to the only red bricked post office building and even the park square with it’s circular lime stone fountain.

On a clear day, one could even see beyond the town square with it’s four sided clock tower and beyond, the only school with it’s white washed walls of Cumbrian stone and open grassy rugby pitches. If one proceeded higher, one could just about make out a row of shops at the very far edge of this little town – one of them located somewhere around the middle, in between a garage and a funeral parlor was the “The Magic Bowl” Chinese take away.

There really wasn’t anything magical about the “magic bowl” – like all other Chinese take away’s, they had chicken chow mein and choy suey in their menu and on Fridays after midnight, they offered a ten percent discount with double servings of sweet and sour pork. Neither for that matter was the young Chinese couple that magical either, the husband with his short cropped hair, limped and had terrible scars on his face, (his wife had mentioned something about a car accident and a terribly vicious one at that, I dare say) he hardly spoke a word, neither did he have much of an opinion except to smile politely from time to time – but it’s like that with those Chinese, they never say very much – his young wife would often be the chattier of the two and exchange pleasant words with the patrons who were mostly made up entirely of lorry drivers stopping for either a rest and some hot and cheap food before they resumed their journey Northwards – the wife took orders from the counter, while her quiet husband cooked behind the kitchen, one could only really only hear him behind clanging on his pots and pans and only see part of his hands in the cut out in the wall, where packed food would be brought out to the counter.

During the day time – when business was slow in the magic bowl and lorry drivers preferred to make the most of their day light hours – the quiet man would often be seen behind the kitchen with his tools fixing motorized wheel chairs or lawn mowers – they said, his workmanship was first class – but really, I am sure those lads were simply being kind, after all he looked hardly like an engineer and more like a tradesman with his soiled baggy overalls stained with patches of mineral oil he hardly ever took off even when he was seen around town doing his errands – so one day, when the clock tower failed to sound and all that the railway tradesmen could do was to take off their hats and say.

“Bloody old girl finally kicked the bucket – she breathe her last, she did – well after all she lived a ripe old age ain’t it, seen, bloody Hitler’s bombs and all that – it’ve be sad to see the old girl go.”

When the quiet man heard there was money to be had in the fixing – he made his way to the town council and asked for the blue prints of the tower clock and though the clerk refused at first – saying only registered tradesmen where allowed to work on council property and it was the law and nothing could be done about it and since he neither had the right papers or was registered, working on the clock was really out of the question- his superior, a barrel chest Welshman overhearing the conversation, simply handed over the dusty blue prints,

“You can keep it mate, those bloody blue prints are in Blooming German, they might as well be bloody written in chinky chink language – you’re wasting your time mate, but go on give it a go, if you like laddie –it wouldn’t half hurt if you gave that old bat a good working over, if nothing else. “

That whole week the quiet man worked on the clock tower even checking out a German – English dictionary from the library to help him make sense of those blueprints – and one day when it sounded as it usually did at twelve – even the railway stewards who maintained the tracks looked up at the tower clock in amazement, some saying quite openly.

“Bloody chink brought her back from the grave – fancy that!”

So after being paid his repair fee by the town council – the quiet man made his way into the only antique shop in Preston and picked out a gold band with oak leaf carvings in relief, I imagined he must have wanted to give this sort of gift for so long to his wife, but till then they hardly made enough to make ends met – According to the Jewish merchant,

“The China man knew exactly what he wanted right down to the words engraved on the inner side of the ring”. The Jew often said, it was strange for such an uneducated man to appreciate such fine poetry, the engraving read.

“To my one and only love – who was always strong.”

Whatever, little he had left from fixing the clock tower, the quiet man spent it on a white evening silk dress with prints of red roses, he would later say to the lady who owned the shop, it reminded him of someone special.

Even the councilor, who had a day job as a the local postman would often be heard recounting in the pubs,

‘Half the bloody town is dropping off like flies – the other bloody half is falling too pieces – and the only chappy who seems to be able to put it all together and make it work again is the chink”

So one morning, when the councilor made his way to the magic bowl, where the quiet man could always be seen with his tools behind his kitchen – the councilor cum post man made his offer for an opening in the town council for the position of a engineering supervisor – to take charge of the towns common boiler, traffic switch board and main supply generator – he was saddened to hear the quiet man declined the offer politely after hearing some forms had to filled up and sent to London for approval since he would be an official employee of the town council. In the words of the quiet man,

“You embarrass me with this offer – I neither have the skills or training for this sort of thing – I am a simple man – and one should not really make a big story of the clock tower either, because all I really did was to strike it with a hammer – but from time to time should the boiler or the switch board go on the blink –you have my word I will be more than happy to take a look at it”

On the weekends the quiet man would be seen climbing the valleys – he climbed alone. Starting off earlier than the others even before daybreak and though he was known as the quiet man who limped a little when he climbed – when he climbed it was not unusual for those who saw him saying, “he climbs like a tormented soul” – for he would often stop and stare defiantly at the mountain with eyes of an uncommon man –

But even these accounts can’t really be trusted, as when climbers often slipped and fall as they often do– the quiet man would always be prepared to patch them up – his quiet manner hardly conveying a trace of anger.

When the quiet man came down from the mountains usually around lunch time – his wife would always be seen driving up to the foot in the mountain in the grayish white Morris van – only six months ago, the quiet man had bought it from the junk yard merchant who said,

“No I wouldn’t consider selling you that heap of rusted rubbish –what do you take me for I am a junk yard merchant, I have you know we English take pride in what we do – no she beyond a junk (the merchant shaking his head) but if you could give me a 50% discount on your take away’s for the next six months– we can call it a done deal”

Though the quiet man bargained it down to 25% with a free wanton dumplings no matter what the order – that same day hardly had he shaken on the deal, he began to work on the junk. Till one summers day, this couple could be seen laughing quite hysterically as they drove round and round our little town in this old car with it’s patchy paint job – and when they finally ran out of roads, because our town was so small – the quiet man came to lie with his wife on the grass – from time to time – he would be see caressing her breast, kissing or whispering into her ears – and just when the sun turned the valley a bright orange splendor, the quiet man simply stood staring out into the vast expanse of the English country side – his eyes conveying the sadness of man who perhaps remembered the passing of a loved one and during these quiet moments which seemed quieter than even the quiet man himself, his wife would slowly come to stand beside him, as if she knew of a terrible secret they both shared.

And the quiet man would simply look at her and bury his scarred face into her bosoms.

darkness 2002

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