December 24, 2022

Damon Ich Talks but Baffles

By aarondkey

Timonthy rubbed his eyes vigorously. “There was a storm,” he said. “I thought I was going to die. Gerard said that it was you creating the storm and then I was here. It’s all a bit much to take in.”

“Follow me,” Damon Ich said. “That’s where I was going before you stopped me.” Timonthy was intrigued and relieved not to have to talk. He followed Damon Ich’s feet: his eyes barely lifting to the impossible, the oppressive white.

Somehow they made it to the centre of the lake without stepping in water. There was no point in worrying about it, Timonthy’s rational mind assured him. ‘I am not here. None of this is happening. Don’t worry about a little walking on water.’ In the centre of the lake there was a white building which looked like wood apart from its colour.

Stolid, damn Damon Ich, went around and through an opening in the furthest side. As Timonthy followed him, instantly colour was restored at least within the building: the cold and white outside was still visible through the doorway. This was the summer house Timonthy had seen before.

This time the bed was replaced with a low table and two low sofas of a sort Timonthy had seen continually advertised in the paper he took at the weekend to keep a button on the soul of his customers and, he was afraid to admit, his own soul. Expensive tat for people with more money than taste he had sniffed at. The thought ran through his head again though he tried to stifle it, as if even the thought was disloyalty to a friend.

He sank into the sofa and admired the comfort with an internal laugh of surprise. Damon Ich was behind him somewhere. He could hear from the sounds he made that he was making a pot of tea. The racing torrent of his blood that the storm and fear had raised began to subside. He concentrated on noticing the rise and fall of his own breathing and how it was slowing down until he remembered for a sudden shocked moment the last time he had seen Damon Ich in this space. It felt intimate: more so than he was completely comfortable with.

In spite of everything; his changed heart, Gerard, everything he had learnt in the last few hours, he still felt desire though he struggled to contain it. Stupid desire! He could do nothing with it even if everything was offered to him.

Damon Ich appeared again with a tea set of delicate china. Timonthy assumed that his mind must have been influenced by the Chinese nature of the summer house to create this. Would he be able to taste this imaginary tea, he wondered even as the smell tickled his nostrils.

He caught sight of Damon Ich’s face before he turned it away again. It reminded him of the stony, grey menacing waves of the storm as they threatened his foothold, his very life and he wondered how he could talk to appease that. Perhaps his words would make the storm worse and then he would be afraid even in this safe place.

Damon Ich sat opposite him on the low fat cushions of the sofa with crossed legs like a teacher trying to be trendy. It was difficult to be scared of him in that position. He carefully leaned over to pour out slivers of milk into the almost transparent cups. Not Chinese tea then, Timonthy thought with a slight emotion of relief.

Then Damon Ich leaned back and stretched out his arms with hands clasped closely above his head. Talking had become a game, Timonthy realised. He did not think that Damon Ich was making it like that for any malicious purpose but because he was struggling to know how to begin. So it would be unfair for him to join in the game and to refuse to talk.

Damon Ich needed help and he could provide this help by some throw-away comment just to ease the start but his obstinate soul wouldn’t let him, at least until he had tasted the tea. He had to be patient for that, as Stolid was cradling the pot and twisting it from side to side. Just trying to avoid the moment when he would have to speak, Timonthy judged, so he let himself relax too. There was nothing else that could be done.

Through a window in the distance he could still see Gerard’s unmoving form and that was comforting: a piece of reality in this unreal place. Finally Damon Ich looked satisfied and began to pour the tea out. The spout funnelled the rosy brown liquid into a delicate and silent, sleek stream which didn’t disturb the surface of the milk it mixed with. Timonthy found himself stretching up a little to watch the effect with a sense of guilt.

Finally Damon Ich put down the tea pot and handed the cup and saucer to Timonthy with a wary smile. It tasted good. As always, he thought back to tea he had tasted as a child and wondered why that taste could not be recreated. He had never satisfactorily answered the question or recreated the taste: at least until now.

Damon Ich smiled as he rested his own cup on the saucer. “There is almost too much to say,” he admitted with a slight hint of self-mocking laughter. Timonthy realised something. This Stolid was not the same man he had seen in the summer house earlier. This one looked older and although he was fully dressed it was obvious he had lost some muscle tone and the golden sun kissed tint to his skin. He interrupted Damon Ich’s stuttering words to say, “Damon Ich, when did you speak to Koa last?”

“You remember Timonthy, you were there,” Damon Ich said patiently. “It was this morning by the lake.” “Time is not what it was,” Timonthy said tight-lipped. “Especially for you. Have you been anywhere since then?”

“I tried to go back to work,” Damon Ich admitted, “thinking it would take my mind off things but it didn’t. It made everything I did seem pointless and petty: every person I was supposed to help, a potential criminal. I had to stop and came back home. Although I didn’t want to talk to him. I don’t seem to be able to control my anger, you see. Possibly I almost killed Koa earlier. He didn’t say anything but as I was imagining strangling the life out of him he turned an odd shade of blue and looked uncomfortable as if I had really done it. He was desperately trying to pretend it hadn’t happened, I think.” Damon Ich looked meditatively out of the open doorway and seemed to be exploring the depths of the water outside with great interest.

“So I sat on the ridge by the waterfall a long way from anyone else and tried to think calmly. Failed as the storm blew up. I don’t know what to do, Timonthy. Can’t even just sit still and simmer like I used to without causing chaos, thought of coming here… but then Gerard called me.”

A fecund river