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The Scrivener: Through Darkling Glass: 10 - Beyond The Brink

...He gathered together his strength, grabbed the bottle from the hands of his reeling antagonist, and hurled the evil thing into the fire.

As the flames licked its round belly and long neck, the glass began to melt in the heat....

Briant Barratt brings to a satisfying conclusion his brilliant adapatation of Robert Louis Stevenson's story The Bottle Imp.

Keawe stood and waited. It was the same spot at which Kokua had waited the night before. Her purpose had been the same as his, to save the other from torment. It was a curious twist of fate which brought them separately to this place. It was also curious, though he did not know it, that the poor old man who had helped Kokua was close by. Still sitting beneath his tree, he had lit a fire of twigs and dry branches to warm himself in the night.

It seemed a long time before Keawe heard the boatswain's raucous voice singing in the darkness of the avenue. It was more than evident that the uncouth fellow had accomplished his mission. He came stumbling into the dim aura of the street lamp, clutching the devilish bottle with evil glee.

Keawe could in no way understand the words of his drunken song, so delirious and babbling was the man. It was as though the imp of the bottle had taken control of him, beyond the power of the rum which had already taken his mind, and he had lost all human sense. In his many travels around the islands and to distant lands, Keawe had not heard such a language, nor had he seen any man in such a state.

When the boatswain stumbled to a halt, and his babbling ceased, Keawe demanded, 'Now I shall buy the bottle from you for one centime.'

'You shall not. This bottle is mine.' He lurched forward, his foetid breath causing Keawe to draw back in disgust and alarm. http://openwriting.com/gallery/v/johnburge/ch10_You+shall+not.jpg.html

'Then shall you not keep our bargain?' cried Keawe. 'Does it not concern you that you are now on the very brink of eternal torment?'

The man laughed like a maniac who believed he had the world and all its people at his mercy. 'On the brink, you say? And who are you to make such judgement?'

'Truly,' said Keawe, 'this is what I was told about this devilish bottle, and though I am no friend of yours, I am not a fool. I fain would save you from such a fate.'

'Fate?' roared the man. 'What do you know of fate? Your fate is in my hands. My bottle has returned to me and shall now recommence its work on Earth. I am not on the brink, you fool. I am already beyond the brink. My name is Torment!' He paused to leer again into Keawe's frightened eyes.

Keawe glanced round, seeking escape from this diabolical fiend and his bottle. He caught sight of the old man beneath the tree, and his fire, which was by now burning brightly. He recalled that in San Francisco he had attempted to smash the bottle but to no avail. And yet, though it was not wrought by human hand, it was of glass. And its stopper, which had shot out when the imp had revealed himself, was merely a cork.

He gathered together his strength, grabbed the bottle from the hands of his reeling antagonist, and hurled the evil thing into the fire.

As the flames licked its round belly and long neck, the glass began to melt in the heat. While consumed by the fire, it glowed with a light from no earthly source. The cork blackened as it disintegrated and became mere dust.

Another flame appeared from amidst the molten remnants of the bottle, a flame which Keawe had glimpsed before. As rapidly as it rose, it became a shadow, and was swallowed up by the encompassing night.

The Boatswain of Evil uttered a mighty cry of torment. And then he was no more.

As the fire died down, the old man rose. He took a few steps towards Keawe, gave him a gentle smile, and went quietly on his way.

And far, far away, the souls of the Old Dead were released from their earthly prisons of rock and stone.

After his voyage home, Keawe ran to Kokua, light as the wind. Joyous was their song. Their hearts were at peace. And great, from that time forth, was the love that filled their days in the Bright House. http://openwriting.com/gallery/v/johnburge/ch10PS_Keawe+ran.jpg.html



Brian Barratt has had half a century of professional experience with books and Education. He’s been a bookseller, editor, publisher, author of schoolbooks, private tutor in English and thinking skills, class tutor in creative writing for adults, writing group leader in several schools, mentor to gifted students, judge of many writing competitions, and curriculum editor for Australian national Tournament of Minds... among other things.

He is a moderately/severely hearing handicapped elderly gentleman who explores the history and usage of the English language; writes whimsical articles; researches and writes about his ancestors, including many in the Book Trade during the past 300 years, and an elusive Gypsy; listens to recordings of Enrico Caruso, John McCormack, Kathleen Ferrier and other great voices from the past; relishes Messiaen's Turangalîla Symphony and the music of the erhu; loves dictionaries; digs into the palaeopsychology of religious beliefs; rummages around in people’s minds; talks to dogs and birds, and to the possums that live in his shed.

Since 1936 he’s lived and worked in four countries, in this order: England, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Australia. He's lived in a leafy eastern suburb of Melbourne since 1971, next to where the rich people live. His house is actually a library-museum-art gallery-wizard's lair. There's a sign which reads 'Persons not wishing to see worlds outside or inside themselves are gently advised to close their minds whilst in this place'.

Do visit his Web site The Brain Rummager www.alphalink.com.au/~umbidas/



In 2008 John artist completed his first retrospective exhibition at the Victorian Artists Society in East Melbourne. It had been his first Melbourne show in thirty-six years and ranged from 1975 till the present. The nine panel ' Bluebeard's Castle ' - a free adaptation of Bela Bartok's 1918 opera - was seen for the first time in it's entirety.

He had previously exhibited in Melbourne in 1972 at the Warehouse Galleries in Richmond and, according to some, provided one of the most memorable and notorious openings of the time.

John then moved to Europe and lived for twelve years in the Catalan village of Ortedo, deep in the Spanish Pyrenees, exhibiting in Barcelona during the dying days of the Franco regime.

He later showed in Amsterdam and Munich, exhibiting with Dali, Vasarely, Magritte and Fontana before a critically acclaimed exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum, Alkmaar. Despite forthcoming contracted exhibitions, family circumstances meant a reluctant return to Australia.

Through the mid-eighties and nineties he moved into book illustration and became involved with art education in schools. Over the last four years John has returned to full-time art.

In May 2010, he exhibited a second, more complete showing of ' Bluebeard's Castle ' at the Kingston Arts Centre. It included previously unseen work and as a coda, 'The Don's Last Tale ', a large watercolour on the theme of ' Don Giovanni '. The exhibit was opened by Mr Rob Hudson MP, Parliamentary Secretary for the Arts and a short discourse on Bartok's opera was presented by Associate Professor Thomas Reiner, head of the Monash University Conservatorium of Music.

An exhibition of new and recent work was held from the 16th of June until the 4th of July, 2010 at the Jackman Gallery, 60 Inkerman Street, St.Kilda, VIC. 3182. The gallery continues to carry a wide and comprehensive selection of John's work.

Do visit John's Web site http://www.johnburgeart.com.au/


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