Thursday, September 01, 2011

THE STORYTELLER and A DARKER SIDE TO DAZZLE

                                        
   THIS IS A TRUE STORY,
   except for the parts that are not.


        ''Razzle-Frazzle-Dazzle I have a story forrr .... Basil,''... announces the old storyteller looking around the small room full of children and the not-so-young-children. It was Basil's birthday today and Basil was more than pleased with himself that the very well known old storyteller from distant parts could pick him out in the sea of faces .. just like magic.
The storyteller now had the attention of all in the small dimly lit room and his rhythmic voice could be heard above the settling-down hum. This was in the time before we knew what was possible what we could do in the future and before man walked on the very moon above. This was the time when stories were spoken and the storyteller, for it was all in his head, was the very 'living-breathing-walking-talking-book'.
The storyteller, settling himself into his chair in front of his small audience was now looking out to some distant far-away place above the sea of heads where his mind body and soul will transport him like a time machine to the extent that he himself becomes involved into the reality of the story he is about to tell .. for this was the way of 'the storyteller' ... 
and so he begins ....

                       ''Everybody gets asked on meeting somebody for the first time as to where they come from or where they were born. It's human nature, they just want to know, you can't stop nature I always say. People are curious but others will say, a general 'busy body', or a need-to-know the info for some reason or other but most don't care as to where you were born but just want to know for that reason only, and when told most will forget what they were told in days or even hours after they got their information. This has always been the way and I for one don't see it changing in the time that's left to me but I am always curious as to why ... well I suppose it can be asked to gain more information as I have said or a time-stretching ploy in a conversation. In foreign countries, far away from our own little island here and being asked for the most 'vital information' .. ah, here it comes now ... wait for it ... 'Place of Birth', ah you cannot hide from it, that's what it is saying, you understand me now ... and way back before this time we are in now it was already asked for, the most 'vital information'. Everyone is born somewhere, but some people don't like to tell where they were born or where they come from. Maybe they are embarrassed of where they were born or maybe just plain do not want to tell you and give some other place of birth ... somewhere maybe far off and more exotic, and when the person is told .. they are happy, everything is O.K., in fact you could say ... 'hunky-dory' between them. Everything is running it's natural and normal course between two human beings but it would be a very different story all together if you were to answer, something like this;
     ''I am not telling you'' ...
                   or  
     ''None of your business'' ...
The outcome of that type of answer would make life and future communication very difficult for both parties to move on in a normal fashion, a divide has opened up and more to the point, anger and even resentment comes into it. As for me when I am asked I have no problem at all in telling people where I was born ..... everybody smiles when I tell them, people are like that ... and yes, I do get a lot of questions then and some funny remarks too, but it's O.K. with me. I for one don't mind in one least bit when I am asked 'where you come from?' ... well that went on a bit longer than expected, no matter for it's all part of the story. I will tell you now the answer I usually give them.''

By now everybody in the room was giving their full attention. They did not want to miss a single word what the storyteller was going to say. They will hear it once and maybe only once in their lifetime and if they were lucky enough to hear the same story again, it would not be told in the same way, no matter how many times the story would be told and retold. It is for sure, as night follows day the same story will always be different ... the same story ... 
and 'the storyteller' continues .....

                   
                    ''I was born in a small town on the coast of a a small island set on the edge of the Atlantic sea called Dazzle. Nobody really knows how it got it's name because in a way it's a 'dull' place at the best of times, more 'dull' now because most of the young people have gone to the brighter lights of far away places across other seas not many young couples move in here to start a family life. The long winter months are gray overcast, like a fog that never wants to move on, just hanging about like the bad odour of feet but the one place of interest in Dazzle is the local cemetery set on a very steep hill. Now everybody ends up in a cemetery at least once in their lifetime above ground amd then below ground     and then cannot leave till the final day of judgement when there will be a mad rush for all to get out. Dazzles cemetery was the highest patch of ground above sea level and looking out to sea .. I called it, the 'dead-watch'. Anybody out at sea can see the outline of the stones in the cemetery even when the 'grayness' was hanging over the small village and I tell you this as air breaths out of my mouth that one of the local stories as to why Dazzle got it's name is that when sailors were out at sea they could see the white headstones on the hill in the cemetery, but it's only folklore because at that time there was no such place for the departed, no cemetery, and no stones. Very few people, even in this day know or have heard of Dazzle and the ones who have heard of Dazzle, it's because of it's 'dark past', that is one of many stories about Dazzle and it's name but I will tell you that one another time in more detail .... there is always time for a story but this is the very 'real McCoy' story about Dazzle I am about to tell you all now and you might only hear it being told once, for it is not written down.''

Now everybody knew they were going to hear a 'real story' of some adventure they never heard of before,  even the very young ones in the room could sense it. The storyteller crosses his arm's and sweeps the room with his deep sea blue hypnotic eye's and in this dim light you could see the deep blue, just like the sea they could hear in the distance eating away at the coast line of the small island that could disappear in their own life time. Everybody is watching, watching 'the storyteller', some with their mouth's open and eyes like plates in anticipation of the 'real McCoy story' to be told. The storyteller lift's his left leg over his right leg with both of his hands, slowly and leans very far back in his chair that they were waiting for it to topple him to the floor. He looks to the ceiling above their heads holding his gaze fixed to that space that even those in that small room looked in that same direction too, some with effort and straining their necks and bodies to that 'spot' in the ceiling. Maybe the very words of the story were written on the ceiling and if so, well, they were only for his eye's. He pulls his shoulders in as a cold chill went up his spine, his hypnotic sea blue eye's still fixed to the 'spot' and letting out a deep sigh for it could be heard at the back of the room, you felt like 'sighing' too with him. He begins the rhythm of the words that now sound more like a chant and could brake into song at any given time ...

                        
                 ''It was September 1588 and the storm was at it's height blowing cold winds and angry waves so high that if you were out at sea you could not see the rugged coastline. Now these were very experience sea-going farers, most not happy men on dry land at the best of times but this storm was the worst they had ever had the experienced of and knew in their hearts of hearts that if they were to survive this they will have some tale to tell when they got back to port but it would need more than a miracle or a boat load of saints to come out of this storm. Their prayers were not going to be answered,   not this day and not in this time. They knew their galleon was been pulled into the coastline but what they did not know was what was waiting for them if they did manage to swim to the shore. No warning was given, no alarms cried out. The two sailors who were in the crows nest were thrown out of the 'nest' just like the way the bold cuckoo makes room for her eggs in another of natures unsuspecting nest. They had no chance of survival in the fall let alone cry out the most vital and all important warning to all on board of the stricken galleon. What with the force of the wind and the sail cloth flapping around like flags on national day trying to out-do each other in maneuvers and noise, it was Hell ... and the end of the world as they knew it. They had no chance. They were in the storm that was to go into history as the storm that Satan himself made and God ignored. The Spanish galleon, violently being thrown around like a cork in water was itself giving up the fight against the 'Diablo'. It was hopeless. They were being pulled into the eye of the storm. Around and around like a leaf into an ever expanding whirlpool, pulling all into it's centre never to see the light of day again, and maybe, just maybe, it was a whirlpool created by God himself to put the fires of Hell out and drown the devil him-very-self.''

'The storyteller' claps his hands together like thunder that all jumped in the room, even the not-so-young, and pauses for the effect to make the impact and everybody gives out a nervous laughter ... and continues with a twisted expression on his face that all sitting in the room thought he was very angry ...

                  
                      ''By now most of the Spanish ships, broken and not-so-proud were slowly making their way down the coastline, but to no avail, most were wrecked on the rocky coastline off the small island, from the north tip to the south end. There were several galleons, but most of the ships were merchantmen, which had been converted to do battle and were now leaking heavily, with most of their anchors missing and with half crews not lost yet to the storm but most having been thrown overboard in the storm and lost to the sea never to be seen again. Not even to this day has the bodies being washed up on to the beaches.Those still alive now were struggling to make sail with severely damaged masts and rigging, it was a very lost cause indeed. As for the rest of the fleet, one hundred and thirty five in all that sailed from Lisbon that year only eighty four made it back in varying states of distress to their home land so it is told, but little can be depended on this information today, because that fog .. that thick soup in the air that smelled of death itself gave no chance of hope of survival to man or fish. It is estimated that five thousand members of the fleet perished off the coast of the island before getting to land. It was so hopeless, the 'Diablo' was taking souls in the great complexity that goes into making such a storm that mankind has not the power to controle and never will.''

'The storyteller' looking to the ground in front of him as if it was going to open up and take him too ... and was that a tear coming from his right eye ... those that thought they saw it were not sure, but the effect of it made a long lasting  impression on those that say they saw it and for the rest of their living days they will come to tell each other that maybe 'the storyteller' himself was really there, in person, in that exact time of 1588 and watching it all unfold in front of him.
Lifting his head slowly and surveying his audience, left to right and back again to the ground in front of him,

He speaks, with a shiver in his voice as if he came in from the cold ... and maybe he did.

                   ''I will tell you this as sure as I am sitting here that it was a lone Spanish galleon from the Armada limping it's way back to Spain, against all the odds of survival of getting back and carrying the worst bunch of blood thirsty cut throats that ever lived and put to sea, they were all there on that very same galleon that was thrown onto the rocks at Dazzle without mercy and just like a child throwing a stone into a pond sending out ripples the very same cut throats sailors were thrown over board. It is not known how many men got to the shore but legend has it that eighty men were killed on the beach that terrible day by the axe of a lone islander known as the 'Defender of Dazzle'. He fought with fury unleashed in his actions like a wild dog turned loose without tiring and without stopping, till all the men who were washed on shore were no longer breathing the foggy air of Dazzle. To watch him fight was like watching the dance of death reaping lost souls running around just like headless chickens. He moved as if it was all rehearsed and in knowing the outcome of such a battle. Now tradition has it that it is the 'dazzle' from his axe while he is standing on the high ground is what you can see from sea just like the lighthouse beacon giving out the warning that danger lies here. The 'Defender of Dazzle' is always on the beach ready to do battle with any deserving soul and at times could be seen at the cemetery hill top watching out for such. He stands alone, strong and fearful of what might come ... and I should know for I am from the 'darker side of Dazzle' .. I am that very one sitting in front of you all they call 'The Defender'.''

Nobody dares to move from their seats when 'the storyteller' gets up from his chair limping badly with his right foot to leave the room and what's more, nobody took notice that 'the storyteller' had no limp when he arrived or that he was taller than he is now ... As for Basil, the birthday boy, 'the storyteller' had marked him for life on that day in that he will spend the rest of his living days in search for this gray place in the fog called, 'Dazzle'. It really started off as a passion that became a life time obsession with him that nothing else and nobody for that matter had a place in his life and if you want to know the truth .. he never did find that small village on the coast of any island or for that matter the 'Defender of Dazzle', nor ever saw or heard of 'the storyteller' again but it's very possible that right at this very moment in time he is still looking for Dazzle and 'the storyteller' in the after life world for Basil died in a storm at sea not unlike the one the Spanish galleons went down-in off the coast of that mystery land they called Dazzle.

''Which reminds of another story in a long-a-bout way .. 'The Coffin Jacket' ... did I ever tell you that story, no .. well, maybe that's for another time''...


                               
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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Daf ..... a fantastic story ...loved reading it again and again .. the way it was 'dramatized' and memories of my childhood..I was one of them ... sitting the closest and right infront of our 'tutor'as he has very interesting stories for the boys and girls always and how we paid so much attention... our eyes gleaming with excitement as though we're part of the 'drama' cos we loved the story-teller ... our teacher ..From JLau

DAF said...

Thank you for your comment ... I would feel in the times we live in now the 'storyteller' as sitting in front of his audience is dying out.