I can hear gulls, or rocks, or one or five machine-guns, or the breathing of twelve men, or one hundred.
I am souped, a bowl for this idiot’s head. There is a last clutch of aftershave about his hair, and the hooting noise of sweat. It irritates me, awfully, when his hair grows. It seems to grow in fits, at night when he is asleep so as not to distress him.
What about me? Why won’t he take me off when he sleeps? Is he afraid of the rocks falling? Will the gulls shit on him, and so instead he uses me as shelter? I hope I have a rim that cuts into him and gives him a blood disease.
I can feel my height; I loop up, am vaulted and ribbed to hold my structure. What about a policeman, a British one, a bobby? Do I wear a badge? I hope I am polished. I can feel him hobble at one side, tipping me on his skull; a lazy walker. I do not think he polishes me.
Though, perhaps I am unkind; there are many places where he would have no time to polish me; maybe he limps from fatigue, a diamond miner, his hair is tightly coiled, maybe in the Congo or Madagascar? I have heard it mentioned, once, or twice. I hope he is not black. Their skin is oily and they do not care for their possessions. Though perhaps I am pithy, a pith helm, witty and white. Maybe I protect a sweaty white head. No matter. He is an idiot anyway.
Something! Something rattles off me! Again! I want to tell him to watch out, to dodge and move. Just because I am far more formidable than his silly little skull, he feels he can do what he likes with me! What if that was a bullet? Or a shell fragment? Or a friend’s skull fragment? Am I in a war? I do hope I am on the side that is winning, or at least the right side. I wonder if God is with us? I have heard his name spoken, sometimes before the idiot lies down, or before he begins to run, as he sometimes does, loping like a great, retarded wolf.
The language the idiot speaks is my language, this language. I might try a different language. I might say – for example – l’shudi pongg jipsum, and there it is, another language, my language, the helmet language.
Occasionally a hand enters to tousle the hair or scratch, and a shudder runs up my dome to the nub. I curse the idiot, and love him at the same time for this.
There is another helmet, a helmet of warmth that melts down me. I can feel some sort of difference all over me; in long lines there is a coolness, a shadow. Are these lines decoration? Mounting for a weapon or flashlight? The heat is gone now, and the noise; I didn’t notice the noise. High and piercing. Gulls. Maybe it is gulls. But why have they stopped? The idiot seems to be moving in zigzags, I rock this way and that.
I think that time will pass again. And it does. It gets colder, and men’s voices get quieter, even the idiot, who usually brays and grunts. There is heat in front of me, a less urgent heat, and it quietly laps and licks into all my crevices, even into the lines that I fancy are embossed ivy leaves. Solid, flat hands grip me, and I am turned. To be lifted! Please! To move away from his stink! Please! To see the world!
No. I am only turned, backwards it seems. My arse, named after his arse that he speaks of often, is warmed by that beautiful warmth, and I face out, where I cannot see.