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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

FROM WHAT SIDE DO WE ECHO

FROM WHAT SIDE DO WE ECHO

Hi dear friend, welcome to my blog, I am pleased to see you here. Take five minutes and relax while you read the 2nd part to this story, thank you    
By Iain Cambridge

PART TWO

Twenty-three years had past since that strange time in my life, and since then I had faired a little worse because of it. Solace for me was sought at the bottom of a bottle, and as a result I lost my job having tried the patience of a good man too far.
With no income to speak of I fell to the same fate that befell the previous owner of my home and had it sold from beneath me. I began to imagine that this place was cursed and counted myself as just another victim of its evil.
I wandered the streets for many a year, alone and invisible to society.

Ignoring all, and ignored by all.

Fate is a fickle mistress however and salvation came to me in the most unlikely of packages. Whilst sleeping under a railway bridge just three miles from the Gare du Nord I noticed a small child playing on the railway tracks.


She was nothing but a street urchin, a parentless ragamuffin.

Her long blonde hair was matted and greasy from years of neglect, and her face was smeared with the grime of the city. Her clothes did not deserve the title, as they were mere rags, arranged merely to cover her modesty. She seemed healthy enough having grown a trade of begging and theft, as was necessary to stay alive.

I watched her playing for a while as she walked the rail tracks, involving herself in some sort of balancing game. The poise and grace she adopted in order to stay on the rail-line was a small marvel to watch and provided me with a little afternoon's entertainment, and a distraction from the half empty bottle that never seemed to leave my lips.

‘You seem sad Monsieur’ she said.

I was so involved in her play that I did not register that she was addressing me.
‘I am sorry little miss, were you talking to me?’

‘Oui Monsieur’ she replied. ‘I come here most days to play and I have noticed that you have stayed longer than most. Is it your sadness that keeps you here?'

I smiled at her forthrightness, and at her broken French. It indicated to me that this was not her first language, but a gutter speak derived from a life amongst the human flotsam and jetsam of Europe that had washed up in the streets of Paris.
‘You are correct little miss, but for a brief while you have made me a little happier’

She stopped her play and hopped off of the rail track.

‘I am glad’ she said and proceeded to sit next to me.

I looked down at her for a while and wondered what had invoked her interest in me until a thought suddenly struck me.
‘Are you hungry?’ I said, and with that I fished around in my bag for some bread and cheese. She looked up at me with bright blue eyes.

‘No thank you’

She looked down, and at the source of my comfort contained in that half drunk bottle.

‘Are you thirsty?’ she inquired. I followed her gaze and then looked back at her.

‘Sometimes a little too thirsty’ I said and placed the bottle into my pocket.

‘Then maybe it is time to be hungry now?’

Her words were as an ice shard plunged deep into my soul. Had I become so worthless that I could incur pity from a child? The shame of the image I presented to the world was thrust back at me through the eyes of this innocent young girl. Her comments were not meant to be malicious, but their truth spoke to a part of me that I thought long dead, along with the spectre of Miss Destiny Reigns.

I removed the bottle from my coat and examined its contents.
Another derelict shell of a man, such as I had become, shuffled past at that moment and I thought for a while before offering it to him.
‘For you, sir.’

He looked at me with suspicion.

‘Your need is greater than mine, my brother’ I said to him.

He took the bottle tentatively, and with a slight nod of his head carried on his way, and toward whatever hell had put him on this path.

I in turn took the first steps away from mine.


The young lady went by the name of Monique, and from that day seemed never to leave my side. It was as though she had taken pity on this lost soul and had adopted me, as one would do with a stray puppy. We would stroll together along the banks of the Seine talking of life and of the events that led to our current situation.

Hers was not as selfish a reason as mine, for unlike myself, who had given up on my sanity and had allowed my weak mind to fold in on itself; Monique had been given no such choices in her short life. With parents of limited means, and of limited health, Monique soon found herself out on the streets begging for food in order to feed a hungry family, until one day there was a family no more. With both her Mother and Father taken by illness she left her home and sought out an existence with the underclass and the forgotten.
Years passed and so did my responsibility to this ever-growing young lady.

Due to my reputation in Paris, being that of a madman and a drunkard, Monique and I both made our way across the channel to England, in the hope that I would gain employment under a new name. We assumed the guise of father and daughter and whilst I worked my days in the shipyards, she attended school, funded by what money I could earn during nightshifts taken in the local bars around town.

She had become my atonement for a wasted life and a salvation for my own lost soul.


As she grew into womanhood I began to notice that she had started to gain the attention of several young men. This troubled me greatly, as it would any protective father, and as a way of steering her away from temptation, (and from the admiring glances of varying gentlemen), I moved us to a small village close to the sea - just outside the main city. It was a small dwelling and suited us both. Monique loved to tend to the gardens and stroll along the beachfront, and I, once again, had started to involve myself with my books in the hope that further learning would lead to better employment and a secure future for my adopted daughter.

All was well, and we were happy.

‘Who is Harmony?’

Her question came out of the blue one morning as we were enjoying breakfast.

Such was my surprise at hearing a name that I had not heard for some thirty odd years that I nearly choked on the piece of toast I had already started to swallow.

Having coughed myself to a halt, I wiped the tears of excursion from my eyes and said,

‘Where on Earth did you hear that name?’

She smiled as she sipped her tea – something that had defined her as quite the English rose of late.

‘When you fall asleep after the nightshift, you tend to talk in your sleep’

‘I do?’

‘Indeed, and the name ‘Harmony’ comes to your lips on the occasions when you are very tired. Was she very special to you?’

I stood up and started to clear my plate from the table. I looked at her pale face, with those big blue eyes that seemed to look into your soul.

‘Not as special as you m'amie’

She returned my smile and tilted her head in such a way as to suggest that, for her, this was not an answer. I sat down again and refreshed my coffee cup.

‘I do not know who she was’ I said sadly. ‘But what I do know, is that she only lives within my fantasies’
I proceeded to tell her the whole story, from my first encounter with Miss Harmony Reigns within the gardens of my new home, to the witnessing of her murder, and onwards to madness and depravity.

After I had spun my sorry tale, Monique stood and walked to my side of the table. She knelt down in front of me and put her arms around my neck. She hugged me for such a long time that I felt hot tears of joy run down my cheeks as the weight of all those years fell away. Never in all our time together had she shown such affection, but this simple action secured forever the bond between father and daughter.

Monique came to me a few weeks later with a request to join the school drama club. As she was at the age now of eighteen I was in no real position to refuse, and nor would I have done so, but her request showed me that she valued my opinion and felt the need still to run decisions past me. She had opted to stay on college for further education as she had missed a good six years of schooling, before we had started our new lives together, and so felt the need to catch up. The drama classes were her way of becoming a little more social and to express herself in a way that would be restricted by living with an old man such as myself, for now at the age of fifty-eight I was starting to think more and more of my retirement.

My body was older than my age, as I had abused it terribly over the years, and I was starting to feel the complaints it had started to make in protest to my unforgiving lifestyle. As an aid to dull the aches and pains of the day, I had started to take of a little port at the end of the night in order to ensure a good nights sleep.

But this folly was to ignite old habits, and before too long I had retreated back to my old ways of drunkenness, and on occasion I had seen fit to defend myself against varying protests from those around me.

Unfortunately sometimes this defence would be physical in nature.


At this time Monique had been offered a part in the school play, and had even gone as far to as to be given a singing role. She would come home of an afternoon in order to sing to me before I had to go to work.

Her voice was that of an angel and would bring me to shed tears of joy and of pride.

She explained to me that the part that she had been given was that of a young woman who had been spurned by her lover, and the song she was to sing reflected her loss and sorrow at his actions.

‘There is not a man foolish enough to let you go, and not a woman in the world that could compete against your beauty,’ I said one afternoon.

She smiled at me, and for the first time I saw that she was coy at my remarks.

‘Oh Papa’, she said, ‘you are biased’

‘That does make it untrue’ I said.

She hugged me and kissed me on the cheek.

‘Go to work, foolish old man’

At that I left for the evening, but not before explaining that I would not be returning until the next afternoon as I would finish late tonight and would start the early shift tomorrow. I would sleep at the dockyard bunkhouse as it was easier than coming home at that late hour.

‘I will have a surprise for you then’ she said.

‘Do tell’

She seemed so excited at holding in the secret that I thought she would burst.

‘We will be doing a full dress rehearsal tomorrow, and so I will be in character when you return’

I kissed her on top of her head and said my goodbyes.

‘I will look forward to it’ I said as I left for the night.

Things change – but not always for the better.

My night had been long, with the temptation of the demon drink ever present, and with the following day being harder still I felt the need to stop on the way home in order to dull the pain that had worn away at me all through those long hours.

On my return, I was a little worse for wear, and the liquor inside of me bubbled like a witch's cauldron, with the same promise of a darkness to come.

As I entered the small parlour I looked out into the garden to see if I could locate Monique. The sound of voices wafted in on the warm spring breeze and I assumed that maybe she had asked someone back to the house, in order to rehearse her lines, and the discovery of the script on the kitchen table seemed to confirm my thoughts.

I picked up the manuscript and flicked idly through it until I came across her character, at which point – my heart froze.

On seeing the name ‘Harmony Reigns’ the anger inside me rose and I bellowed at her to come into the house.
She ran to me with panic in her eyes at what could have caused such outrage.

‘What is this?’ I shouted as I waved the script at her, but words caught in my throat as I suddenly saw what she had done to her appearance. In a bid to make herself look more like the woman in the play, Monique had dyed her hair a bright red.


Old memories flooded back like a poison within my veins.

‘Why would you do this?’ I said.

She looked at me with questioning in her eyes.

‘Why would you betray my memories with this cheap imitation?’

‘It was meant to honour your memories’ she said, ‘when I told my teacher about what had happened to you..’

‘You did what?’ I interrupted ‘Do you know how long I had to wear the stigma of madness because of that time? You of all people know what I had to go through to get us to this place – why would you jeopardise our lives here?’

At this she riled against me.

‘It was our journey, and we both had hardships to endure. I have jeopardised nothing. You, on the other hand, seek to drag us back once more by revisiting your old ways – you stink of port and rum. This is our betrayal, not my homage to a lost love’

At this, I am ashamed to say, I lost what little control I had and struck her across the face with the back of my hand.

 From some inner room in my mind I watched in horror as she spun with the force of the blow and dropped to the ground. I ran from the room and locked myself in my bedroom in an attempt to hide from my shame.

What had I become that I would seek to destroy the one beautiful thing in my world?

What monsters lay within me?


When she raised her head I then saw a very large bruise that covered most of her left eye.

I passed out into a fitful sleep only to wake again in the small hours. I was lying on the floor and a man with a well-trimmed beard was leaning over me. Monique sat in the wicker chair next to the doorway, leaning forward with her face buried in her hands. I was relieved that she was well.

I asked the man, a doctor I presumed, what had happened to me, last I remembered I was lying in bed. 'You have suffered a mild heart attack and will need some hospital time for observation', the doctor responded.

It was the beginning of the summer season when I stepped out of the front entrance door of the hospital, there  Monique waited for me, her bruised eye healed. A cab pulled up and we climbed into the back seat for the ride home. 

Monique looked at me eagerly shared her plans for her new career in the theatre. I smiled as I thought that never will there be harm to come to this child who by every right is my daughter. I will end my life before I ever pick up a drink again.


I settled into the newly refurbished cottage that Monique acquired during his leave which ended up more like a three months stay in the hospital.

During the summer, we had reacquainted ourselves and Monique helped me do some research around the area 

I settled into the cottage that Monique had redecorated during my absence which went from a few days' observation to a three-month stay in the hospital.

During the summer, we had become reacquainted and Monique helped me do some research in the neighborhood.

I sought any records for what may have existed on the other side of the fence at 369 Rue Gascoigne in suburban Paris. Nothing came up in recent times, but I was able to get my hands of some old records. They mentioned a property there that had been destroyed by the Germans in retaliation for underground activity. It was occupied by one Clifford Reigns and a girl by the name Harmony...

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ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ

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