The Elephant’s Head of Ducie Street: A short story

The Head had been having a bit of a life since it left its elephant, apparently. In a gallery, a bar and now up on top of the bay of an empty house in Ducie Street, Liverpool 8.

Or so I was told while on my usual monthly visit to the Granby Street Market, on this grey November Saturday morning in late 2018.

’Thought returning now after a time, maybe a long time, of darkness, echoey, inside something metallic. A cupboard or container?

There was clanking, opening, light and shifting. Then being carried. Up and up by one of them, the Hind-Legs creatures. Up to here then settled down, trunk arranged, outside at last.’

With thought come The Head’s memories. Of the other places, recent and not so. After the longest of the gaps, the darknesses, had come The Gallery, as it was heard to have been called.

’Being talked at, looked at. A white and wooden space. The Hind-Leg creatures staring, long thinking and then:

’I’m not sure how I feel about that?’
And ‘Cruel’ and ‘Shudder’
Also ‘Close to extinction you know?’

Walking away on their pointy click-clack shoe-feet, muttering about:

’They’ who ‘Shouldn’t allow it’
Who should furthermore ‘Do something about it’
And anyway ‘You can’t call that art.’

Did they mean me?’

More Head memories returning in the cold November street air. Of another long space. In a crate? Followed by more shifting, woken, bang bang creak-wrench, taken out. Rough, new smells, music. It’s The Bar.

’Talked to anyway this time, not at. Better. These Hind-Legs talking more as they drink more of their water that’s probably not just water. Questions and a name too:

’You remember don’t you Nellie?
’You never forget do you Nellie?

No. Remembering a song too.

’Nellie the elephant packed her trunk
And said goodbye to the circus…’

The older greyer Hind-Legs that was. Singing it like I’d never heard it before. Grinning at me but with tears in their tiny eyes. At least it was company.

 

More dark, more move and more time happen to The Head. Like has been happening ever since it left its elephant. Until time becomes now.

’Up, out, into light and being carried. A Hind-Leg on a ladder bringing me up. Up here. Openness, emptiness, painted, strange. Hind-Leg houses none of them are living in. But standing and looking at them. And at me.

I like it though, this looking up. I like this height, the feeling of above. I’ve missed that. Missed so much. The moving around, the trees, the walking, the remembering, the who I was, the elephant.

Before here, before coming up here.

So I watch.’

And another Hind-Leg notices from the corner. The corner of Ducie Street with Granby Street. He takes out his phone and, walking forward towards The Head, starts taking pictures. Asking the other Hind-Leg, the one from the ladder, the one he calls Joe:

‘What’s the story here?’

’Maybe he’ll write it down? In Hind-Leg marks on paper? That being how Hind-Legs tell and remember their stories now. Now they’re all down from the trees. The trees I remember. From before I left my elephant.’

Thanks to my friend Mary Earnshaw for suggesting that the first lines of this might be ‘a good beginning.’ And to Joe Farrag of Granby 4 Streets for the inspiration – and the elephant.

 

 

2 Replies to “The Elephant’s Head of Ducie Street: A short story”

  1. So glad you did this. What a strange and sad sight, let’s hope The Head continues to enjoy what his legs cannot let him do now, standing and watching Hindlegs living their strange, unpredictable lives. …

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.