Moon Over The Monkey's Back, Part 1
Within the most immediate range of my unconscious vision something in the white china gamboled and slipped between trees. Then, lizard quick, it darted behind the paint pagoda. All still. With my eyes remaining fixated upon the folded Telegraph upon my leg, I powered all my attention into that most hazy and primitive, yet highly intuitive faculty of the human eye – the peripheral sight. There again! Capering, then dissolving behind a blue brush stroke of bamboo, whereupon the surrounding blank pottery was still as fallen snow again. I locked my eyes directly upon the pastoral themed Ch’an teapot.
A spell had seemingly lifted and the hearty domestic cheer of our young and boisterous family embraced my senses. Helen was making a somewhat battered toast offering to her elder sister, Rebecca, who was sharpening her budding role in the household as the société coquette, at least when confronted with cutlery drilled with red-coated precision and adult supervision, was declining the necessary acceptance rituals. Indeed-the little priss- was far too engrossed in her overt show of (conspicuously papa oriented) haughty innocence to notice. Never having been above tribal politics myself; I beamed an encouraging smile at my eldest and snatched the twice buttered toasted bread with a brisk “view hallo!” as recompense, while briefly making a personal note to scour the house and small coin deposits for proof of Helen’s nascent banditry.
“Ma Ma says Daddy spent too long amongst the Orientals he forgot his etiquettes” chimed the little Cleopatra.
I noticed the rain’s incessant drumming. Water was coating the large windows and turned them to a blurred, liquid viewing medium. A grey clot of cloud lurked over all outside, and my eyes reluctantly dragged over the peaks of conifers from where I had them cut a full fathom away from the house. Listening to the revolutions of rain and wind flung into the wide sheeted glass I became aware of a nauseous, beetling angst assailing me from some unfixed region close by.
I determined myself once again to the print words at my lap while, unmistakably, a presence see-sawed with violent rapidity from miniature tree to tree, dropped - by now my eye was transfixed, taught in my socket straining to the painted pot- and with a hobbled, chucking gait, struck out toward the pagoda! No! It had sensed me! And turning its head as upon the ultimate grinding locomotion of a child’s winding play-thing; ever so slowly was revealed a masque of inexplicable and unrestrained menacing animus. My perception of its existence as being at one remove to my own crumbled instantaneously. The pace of approach, when it occurred, was at such a discord to its previous machinations it caused me to leap to my feet with a curse and strike the pot which punched clean through the sheet window.
In the chaotic aftermath of the unseen attack, my attention was ripped from home, as I stood, slashed with rain and pummeled through with juggernauts of icy draughts rampaging in from over the paddock, silencing the cries of Eleanor. But there! Through the grey wreathes of showers, a body, lurching and frog hopping-grotesquely juxtaposed upon this most English and precious landscape- up a staunch evergreen, flinging itself from trunk to trunk, till rainfall, or bough masked its savage haste. As I turned in to my wife the most pressing of memories wasn’t just the indescribably rage contorted grimace plastered in entirety over the teapot’s surface but the sure fast grip of a claw that I still then felt gripped around my wrist with inhuman power.
With the first boom of thunder that resounded in the parlour and searing flash of lightning outside, my mind was wrenched back to foreign and forgotten vistas of memory; shells thumping below the British Consulate in Takau, to jungle wreathed Ape Hill and the stark pannier of moon glaring over its shoulder, finally to alight upon the long forgotten memory of the last man who had received such a similar visitation, of which its horror was merely a signal, prefiguring his impending and calamitous fate.