David Lewis Paget (22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)
The Telephone Box
The footsteps echoed on cobblestones
When a chime rang ten of the clock,
As a sailor making his way back home
Was walking up from the dock,
It was cold and dark for the lights were out
And the street was wet with the rain,
When he came to an old red telephone box
At the side of a narrow lane.
The clouds were black and they opened up
So he stepped in out of the wet,
Dropped his swag as it turned to hail
And lit up a cigarette,
The box was ancient, was George the Fifth
And hadn’t been used for years,
But stood in a lane that time forgot
When the rot set in, and worse.
For most of the houses were boarded up
And the weeds had grown outside,
Some had embarked for a tree-lined park
And some of the others died,
It was lonely there in the dark of night
As the sailor waited, he sang,
But stubbed his cigarette out in fright
When the telephone next to him rang.
He stared at it for a while before
He raised it, stopping the bell,
It had an echoing, ghostly sound
Like you hear in a deep sea shell,
The sound of sobbing came to his ear
And he cried, ‘Who’s there, what’s wrong? ’
‘Oh God, I’ve waited forever my dear,
I’m locked in the basement, Tom! ’
The sailor said that he wasn’t Tom
But she didn’t appear to hear,
‘He’s got an axe, attacking the door,
Be quick or he’ll kill me, dear! ’
The sailor didn’t know what to say
But a chill ran up his spine,
‘Tell me, what’s your address, ’ he said
‘Before you run out of time! ’
‘I’m straight across from the telephone box,
You usually meet me here,
He’s found us out, and he screams and shouts
That he’ll kill you as well, my dear!
He just came home from a spell at sea
And called me a cheating whore,
If you don’t come over and rescue me
He’ll have smashed his way through the door.’
The sailor wanted to say, ‘Enough!
It’s nothing to do with me, ’
But flew on out of the telephone box,
Leapt over a fallen tree,
He raced right in through the open door
And he called, ‘I’m here, just wait! ’
Then made his way to the cellar door
But all he could feel was hate.
The door was shattered, he walked right in
It was dark, there wasn’t a light,
He felt around for a candle, lit
And stared at the terrible sight.
A man lay dead on the basement floor
Where an axe had taken his life,
And there with her throat like an open sore
Was the body of his dear wife.
He staggered, stopped, and fell to his knees
And sobbed like a man insane,
‘Oh God, it’s true, I did this to you,
But my mind’s been playing games.
I thought if I went away to sea
I’d return to find they were dreams…’
As he sliced a razor across his throat
He thought, ‘Life’s not what it seems! ’
5 December 2013
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.