By Mrs Beaten
Kit Cox, dandy and self-proclaimed ladies man got no more than he deserved, if you ask me. He has been flirting his way round the island for some time, making a nuisance of himself and lowering the tone with his immodest behaviour. While his shirts are indeed immaculate, his manners are sadly lacking and his wanton antics have clearly led to his undoing.
As far as Kit Cox knew, he went as he might have wanted to go – dying in the arms of a beautiful monster. For the rest of us, it was a somewhat different experience.
I do not blame the mermaid. They are not human creatures and cannot be held to the same standards. Anyone not ruled by the uncivilized lusts of the body can see them for what they are – hideous, hungry and persuasive. They are not to blame for what men do in response to them. Perhaps they are here to judge us, and bring down those who are too involved with their own base instincts. In this way, I feel some empathy with our water-dwelling neighbours. I would not object to being such a creature.
We had all gone down to the beach to watch the Mari Lwyd’s shout at the sea. It is a perplexing ritual, but a good opportunity to see, and be seen. Kit Cox had positioned himself so as to be seen, in a waistcoat of such bright colours as to be wholly indecent. Standing near to the sea – where all attention was then directed, he was rather close to the mermaids.
She surfaced, turning a terrifying visage towards the land. I thought that her long teeth sparkled. Seaweed tangled in her hair and fell down across her chest, failing to obscure the exposed bones of her desperately thin body. Anyone could see she was hungry. Kit turned towards her, his expression one of rapture. And thus began the most shocking litany of improper statements.
“I love you…. you are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen! What exquisite eyes you have! Will you not come closer? How have I lived so long without you in my life? What are your plans for the evening? Would you like to see my other waistcoats?” And so on, and so forth. Those of us who have experienced his courting behaviour before were all too familiar with these lines.
The mermaid opened her mouth wide so that we could all see her teeth. Several gentlemen rushed forward, while averting their eyes from the sea monster, to try and pull Kit away. To no avail. He walked towards the surf, crying out his ever more ridiculous expressions of love and longing. We watched, powerless to help him. Or too entertained to help him. Or in my case, too delighted by the poetic justice inherent in the scene, to help him. He splashed in the surf, protesting his love, while the mermaid wriggled and gyrated in the water, and licked her lips in evident anticipation.
He kissed her with shocking abandon, right there in front of everyone. It was as well, for the moral defence of the islanders, that the mermaid did not toy with him longer, and we were not seduced into watching anything worse. She plunged with him beneath the waves.
Some hours later, the remains of his waistcoat washed ashore, and we gave it a decent burial on the beach and made a little cairn next to the other little cairns for people who have not listened to warnings about mermaids.
This death was brought to you by the Hopeless Maine kickstarter, in which there are now stretch goals and extra rewards… https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/countrostov/tales-of-hopeless-maine