SHORT STORY by Thelma Laycock: The Green, Green Grass

Fri 12th June 2020
Venice Short Story By Thelma Laycock The Green Green Grass

Looking out at the lagoon, he saw that it was a peculiar shade of bluish green.  Perched on the edge of it, like a large white communion wafer, was the moon.

‘It looks bloody weird!’ thought Rhys, shrugging his fingers deeper into his pockets.  Venice was getting cold – soon it would be the time of ‘Aqua Alta’ and he didn’t want to be around for that.  He strode into the nearest bar, ordering a ‘grappa’.  The atmosphere was warm and he took off his jacket, standing at the bar, bantam-weight, short, and as dark as any Italian.  It wasn’t just the temperature which was warm; the language warmed him with its musicality, counterpointing with the pitch and toss of the rougher Veneziano dialect.

For some reason his mind drifted back to Tiger Bay and to his local, ‘The Red Dragon’, where they’d all be right now, being Saturday see.  Dando would be behind the bar whilst Dave and Huw and the other lads would be watching the match on the big screen.  Then before Dando could call time, they’d sing.  Rhys (when he was there) would do his imitation of Tom Jones, and then he would get up with old Pugh, who had known his grandad, and they’d play the spoons.

A couple of weeks later, he flew to Cardiff and that night headed for ‘The Red Dragon’.  It was empty.  ‘Moved on to ‘The White Swan’, Dando explained, ‘it’s new, it’s beautiful and it’s taking all my bloody trade!’  ‘But Pugh will be in?’ enquired Rhys, pulling up a bar stool.   ‘Pugh?’ said Dando.  ‘Oh, no, a lot’s ‘appened in a year, boy.  Pugh went to live with his daughter.  Up north it was.’  Rhys pulled a face.  Dando went on. ‘Didn’t agree with ‘im, of course.  Now he’s back and they say he’s in a residental ‘ome – one of these convent places – Little Sisters or something.’   ‘Oh, yes,’ Rhys replied, that’s where Grandad was,’ and a lump rose in his throat but he swigged it down quickly.

After that it was just him and Dando.  His mind kept going back to Venice and to Rosa and the night he had first met her at the University disco, wearing some fantastic green concoction.  Oh, Rosie!  He wondered if the lagoon was still that wonderful aquamarine colour and if the moon was sitting on the edge of it, like a silver grapefruit.

Just Beverley