Tristan Hazell lives and works in the shadow of the Westway on Portobello Road. What follows is a collection of observations, reviews, social comment, fiction, poetry, art criticism and more. Much of it is fiction and some of it will offend someone somewhere, I hope.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Obsidian eye.




There’s a guy who drinks in my local, Old guy, in his 80’s I guess, small and wiry, looks honest and hard working and always dapper in his black suit, white shirt and black tie, as if always waiting for a funeral or just come back from one.

The only odd thing about him is his eyes; he has one piercing blue eye and one dark brown, almost black. The dark eye is glass and ill fitting.

Last week I plucked up some courage and bought him a pint, sat down at his table, looked into 

the good eye and asked about the other one.

He started to talk without hesitation and with great passion.

In 1947 he said In 1947 I was demobbed and me and 3 mates went to Butlins for a week down Southend, we shared a chalet, all them chalets look alike and on the second night I got so 

pissed I went back to the wrong one didn’t I. I crept in in the dark so as not to wake the others, undressed and climbed into the bottom bunk and fell asleep. I woke meself up with a coughing 
fit and in doing so startled the girl who was sleeping in the upper bunk.

She mumbled something like she had a mouth full of pebbles and a moment later demanded “who’s that?’

I didn’t know then but I know now that she had a glass eye and she kept it in her mouth at night when she slept so as not to lose it and to keep it moist. She had popped it back into the socket, wet with spit, before demanding who I was.

I was pretty surprised to hear a girls voice from the bunk where me mate was supposed to be so 

I leaned out and looked up, as I looked up she looked down and her glass eye fell from its socket.

Our eyes met!

Fuck I said you’ve poked me fucking eye out, well you should have caught mine she said and what the bleeding hell are you doing in my chalet?

She sat with me in the doctor’s office as he scooped out my busted eye with a spoon and replaced it with a marble as a temporary measure. Six weeks later I had a brand new glass eye and a beautiful new wife. We were together for 60 years Trish and me. I buried her six weeks ago.

Before the funeral. He went on. Before the funeral I went to see her one last time.


In her box she looked as beautiful as when I first set eyes on her. A mad idea came into me head and I gently eased her glass eye out with me thumb and replaced it with me own. I put her eye into me head before closing her eyelids. I wanted part of me to go with her you see and I wanted part of her to stay with me.

This brown un was hers, beautiful colour ain’t it. Obsidian the poets call it.

The funny thing is, he said with a chuckle, the funny thing is she was such a beautiful woman people used to say to me. Stan, ugly little runt like you, how the fuck did you catch her eye in the first place and I’d say back with a twinkle in me good un, it’s more of a case of how I didn’t catch her eye what did the trick.

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