Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hamlet of the Wedding Ring

The adventures of her in her future.

And her claim of an alibi, yes, we took that to be, as we say, a red herring, a wild goose chase. There was, as you saw for yourself, fresh creosote on the back door handle. The same fresh creosote as the fresh creosote on the fence, applied by her husband that very afternoon. Creosote all over the cutlery in the kitchen, fingerprints everywhere. The rain, earlier in the evening, accounted for the muddy footprints all over the floor. He had been stabbed sixteen times.

An incident at the book shop where you, fleeing from the security guard, are caught and manhandled by a group of shoppers. In the face of your obvious guilt you cling tightly to the book you have stolen, a book that is part of the group of books about to be signed by the author. As the author herself attempts to prise the book from your grip, your brazen claim that the book is yours, written by you, leads her to the conclusion that you must be mentally ill. With good grace, and ignoring the protests of your fellow shoppers - myself included - she signs your book. As you turn to leave, you twist the book apart, rip out the pages and throw them towards her as crumpled balls of hate.

Critically reviled, strung up and thrown over the back of a black stallion, you take off toward the horizon but are lost before you reach the horizon, a disappearance over that group of black hills. Back in the saloon the gunslingers are toasting the day’s bad deed: the stringing up of you etc. Boy, we sure did teach her a lesson. Coming in here, shooting her mouth off, challenging us all to a draw, who in blazes does that gal think she is? But in the corner, by the window, his hand shaking the whiskey tumbler, the whiskey spilling all over the table, the old town doctor is loudly reminiscing about the days when. When you were someone, yep, to be reckoned with. And as the doctor talks, a young buck in buckskin at the back of the room takes up his revolver, takes aim and falls – in the nick of time – from the bullet that has been fired through the room from the barrel of the gun that sits firm, steady and proud in your iron-horsed grip. You in the double doorway, Stetson cocked, pushed up by the end of your gun, a wink to the doc and a flick of a coin to Joe the bartender. Another whiskey for the doc, you say. Another whiskey for the doc.

By selling your flowers in the town square you will have the opportunity, every morning, to converse with your customers, enabling you to build a solid customer base that will, in turn, help you to develop long-term relationships that will, in turn, provide dividends by way of increased sales through customer retention and loyalty, and through the acquisition of new customers through the networking and word-of-mouth opportunities that will arise as a result of your prime retail position within this lucrative town centre spot. Your flowers will, of course, be provided for you every morning along with a clean and newly-pressed uniform bearing the company logo and strapline which must be displayed at all times. You will be free, during allocated periods throughout the day, to take toilet breaks, refreshment breaks and lunch breaks. Smoking is strictly forbidden. Please be aware that, no matter how hard you try, you are not, and never will be, the hyacinth girl. However, it is possible that, through appropriate diligence, care and hard work, your sales targets will allow you to don the much sought after mantle of Mrs Cobbett. Yes, we can see you doing that.

The woman, in her late fifties, was described by a neighbour as having a lived-in face. How so? See this horrible old gnarly thing here, said the neighbour - proffering what looked like a prosthetic nose - this was the very best of her.

The laughter was, as they always say, contagious. The table was full of people from work, people she, by and large, despised. But she wasn’t here for them. She was here for him. Him in all his magnificent management glory. So what if he never so much as looked at her? So what if he ignored her every time she spoke? So what if he returned her cards with requests to leave him alone? The main thing was that she was here, in the same room, clutching the knitting needle that she would ram, in a few moments’ time, deep into his left eyeball.

When you come ashore you must be wary of the rocks. Far above you is the Girl of Glaggormouth. She is the ghost of the lighthouse keeper’s daughter.

Terminal Investigator, I, see, never got that thing that everybody has about cockroaches. I been doing this uh job now for two years now and in all that time, you know, fitty percent of the calls have all been about the cockroaches. No, not fitty percent, more like sitty percent, yea. So it’s cockroaches, cockroaches, cockroaches. And every time I have to uh deal with these people who like running scared and you know I always tell them nothing to be afraid of before I take them away. It’s mostly, I, yea, a good job, yea. But most of the time, like I say, is about cockroaches. I mean, and I like cockroaches so it’s no problem for me, not at all.

She didn’t like the crow’s feet around her eyes but couldn’t afford Botox injections.
So what did she do?
Each night she smoothed out the wrinkles and placed a strip of micropore tape over the area to keep it in place - leaving it overnight.
What’s micropore tape?
I don’t know. Like plasters I suppose.
Plasters?
Band-Aids.
Oh.
She did this for a week.
Did what?
You know, with the tape and the smoothing her wrinkles, her crow’s feet.
Yes?
And after a week there was a noticeable improvement.
Really?
That’s what she said. I couldn’t see it myself.

A creator of bookmarks and wooden things with googly eyes. Hand crafted, delicately painted and presented with the kind of tender, loving care you just don’t get in the big, corporate chains. A little wooden shed with hanging dandles and wind chimes. No discount, no haggling. CDs full of excruciating, sleep-inducing crap that you’d have to have no ears to truly appreciate. Your own successful, one-woman business. Well done you. Here, a glowing feature in the local paper. There, a mention at the back of leaflets for things like local walks, animal sanctuaries and God knows what else. T-shirts too with all kinds of cute country nature business all over them: footprints, leaves, Latin named thingies and insects, suns, cats, dogs, various fish and wet mammals, blow clocks, acorns, strawberries, wood bits, larvae, dinosaur bones, trees, exotic fauna, dramatic landscapes, ladybirds, fireflies, mooncalfs, penguins, owls, panda bears, polar bears, koala bears, bamboo shoots, saplings, oilseed rape, seeds, herbs, wild flowers, mushrooms, toadstools, toads, frogs, sperms, dust mites, laughing stocks, breedles, deer, squirrels, boondocks, porcupines, tree monkeys, fibre monkeys, red-arsed monkeys, lickspittles, chimpanzees, dead gorillas, rhino powder, elephant dung, cheese-eaters, belly flops, flying birds, walking birds, rollovers, needlepoints, llama beans, cherry chucks, woodchucks, herman drudes, longpigs, salad leaves, marzipan, turnkeys, raspberries and doily shots.

Your blue pants and the man next door. Hung out to dry on the line. Gone the next morning. The man next door in your blue pants. The man next door, in his garden, erect in your little blue pants. You photographed him and showed it to the police.

The first day of the appointed day and there she is, boots a gleaming, hair a shining, nose a running, and not even the slightest sign of the measles that, for the week running up to the appointed day, had caused her so much grief and aggravation. It’s amazing, as her friend Janice said, what a bit of make-up and a bit of steely resolve can do. So, anyway, there she stands in front of the boss’s desk, waiting for him to finish giving her the old up and down that, due to the fact that Mr Dagger is an older man, is taking a little longer than the ups and downs she has been used to. Unfortunately, this fact, registering in her face as boredom, impatience and pity, causes Mr Dagger to explode, tinily, and order her from the room. Out there, in the vast emporium of the typing pool, surrounded by the clicks and the clacks, she feels lost, stupid and curiously overweight. All eyes are on her and she wonders, foolishly and fleetingly, whether one of the women will come to her aid. A kind word perhaps, a touch on the elbow, some tips on how to cross her legs successfully in a skirt this short. But nothing. Nothing at all.

When beauty rides this tall, what do we need midgets for? Welcome to KCMWD, coming to you live from the Blueberry Beauty Pageant. As you can see, we’ve got the full range of some of the most gorgeous, beautiful, exquisite creatures you could ever hope to rest your tired, dust drawn, poky little eyes on. Look how they glide there, across that polished hardwood floor, lighter than air, floating like angels, like goddesses on high. They glide and fly, and fly and glide, and let no man come between them. Look, in the red corner, it’s Little Miss Pisspants. In the blue corner, the lovely Lucky Lindi. In the yellow corner, a piece of deep fried ham. In the green corner, the red from somebody’s tear-stained, rosy red cheek. And here, with me, in the pink pound, our very own Beatle Babe, with her yeah, yeah, yeahs and her oodles of oooohs, Miss Patsy Clownbucket! And when I say Clownbucket, I just know you wanna fuck it! Yeah, baby! I’m Steve Dash and I’m coming to you live from KCMWD with our beautiful Blueberry beauties.

A lay-by. You selling hot dogs. Me burning the wood out back. A caravan, cooking gear, that’s all we needed. Or so we thought. Three hours we’re out there, doing a roaring trade. And then that fat get from the council turned up. You threw boiling oil into his face. I turned his blubber into ashes.

It was an omen. Sally looked out onto the street to make sure her eyes weren’t deceiving her. Yep, there was no doubt about it – written on the side of the big white removals van, in giant gold letters, were the words: JACK LADD REMOVALS. And underneath, in smaller letters: From old pad to new pad, make sure it’s Jack The Lad. Sally turned back into the room, raised her arms and let them fall as if in defeat. Jack, she said quietly, that was his name. Whose name? asked Martha. My old boyfriend, Sally replied, his name was Jack. So? said Minnie. Well, duh, said Sally, look outside. Yes? asked Minnie. It’s Jack, the same name, don’t you see? Yes, I get that it’s the same name, said Minnie impatiently, but so what? So what? shouted Sally, so what? Yes, said Minnie, so what? Now then, said Martha, let’s not fall out over this. Fuck you bitch etc. and the whole gang – Martha, Sally, Minnie, Hiawatha, Charlie and Beatrice - fell to the floor, fighting, biting and tearing each others’ clothes off. Yum yum. And outside, on the roof of the removals van, stood Jack, Sally’s old boyfriend, with one hand on his binoculars, the other in his trouser pocket.

Here, said the clown, it’s my day off today and, instead of clowning around as I normally do on my days off, I’m going to get serious for a change and get myself down to my local charity shop where I’ll offer myself up for a spot of volunteering. What do you think, eh mum - do you think that’s a good idea? I think that’s a stupid idea, replied the clown’s mum - and I think you’re a stupid red-nosed cunt for even mentioning it.

You are a wisp of ethereal. A moonbat in crystals. To reach you they have to pass through beaded doorways. To touch you they have to present you with a fistful of old fivers. For their money they get fuck-all.

There you are surrounded by trumpets, trombones and a full-scale cardboard model of the Pope. What on earth is going on? You are also, let us point out, naked. Alongside the Pope – who is looking less and less cardboardy as the seconds pass – stand representatives from the small island republic of Serotonin. Their Prime Minister, the little fat fellow in the black bowler hat, is addressing you with words of unabashed admiration. You, naturally, are blushing but do nothing to hide your modesty. The other men in the room, of which there are around twenty (men, not rooms), are gazing at you in silent wonder, their thick, heavy lips hanging open like the spill of boiling milk as it flows over the lip of a saucepan, if you see what I mean. The trumpets and the trombones, the brass, suddenly spring into rapturous life, ta-daing the arrival of yet more dignitaries from the planet Serotonin. Not planet, republic. In walk three Mayors, seven Lords, eight Cardinals, three Dukes, fourteen Sheriffs and eight Murderers. And behind them, close behind, come hundreds and hundreds of gleaming white skeletons who, wielding their shiny cutlasses, hack off the heads of everyone present. Except for you. Carried aloft by these skeletons, you smile, wave and blow kisses to the endless, eternal crowd of other skeletons who await you in the Land of Old Bones.

Had Quentin Tarantino directed Bambi, it would have looked like the film you appeared in, late in your career, that featured the deers being slaughtered by a thuggish hit man/gangster type who was, despite everything, quite charming and likeable. Had Sam Peckinpah directed your straight-to-video The Return of the Railway Children, the resulting film would have resembled that film about those disillusioned cowboys on the train and the bloodbath that ensued. Had George Romero directed that film of yours featuring all the nuns, they would have eaten each others’ brains instead of inadvertently finding the cure for cancer. Had Darren Fisher come anywhere near any of the films you were in – any of them - they would have been even more useless and unwatchable than they actually were.

You are dead. As a result of messing around with yet another love bandit. Who took you in his arms and threw you off the roof. Your head smashed on the pavement, your skirt up around your thighs. The love bandit leaping from roof to roof in search of other hearts to stop.

The face of poetry is now your face, covered in garlands, at the front of the auditorium. In the front row, seated soon standing, are the poets you consider your peers. There’s Bat Eyelid, Foo Turner, Maisie Bansai, To Fu, Lil’ Miss, Bryan Stanley, Poo Fenz, Lonnie Halpern, Dim Shermer, Erik Pankhurst, Lisa Luftwaffe, Tiger Cat, Nistleroy Hoogstraten, Biz Markie, Ten Florin, Hubert Corner, Tillie Oswert, Ny Nong, Lottie Bando and Eve Saint Paul. They are all your friends, here to shower you with yet more garlands and good wishes on this, your lifetime achievement award ceremony extravaganza evening. You are sixty-five years old. Have you really said all you want to say? Have you no more turns of phrase, no more surface sighs, no more verses of ideas that you want to share with your adoring public and grateful pals? Can you leave like this? Are you bowing out gracefully? Or will there be more to come? Will you, for instance, take to the trees to protest the deforestation of your millionaires’ row woodland private garden thingy? Will you, in collaboration with some hip young musician, set all your words to music? Will you become the grand old dame of letters and lists, trotting a new one out whenever the conservatives/republicans get in again? Will you commemorate the anniversaries of high profile chums? Will you speak out against the war, any war? Will you tell us how war/war is stupid/and people/people are stupid/look at the fat Yanks on parade/with their ballads of joy/again?

You are found lingering in the corridor. They invite you in. The hotel room is full of various lowlifes and hangers-on. Brett Blanco is in the bathroom, on his knees, being fucked up the arse by his manager, Linda, who wears a strap-on dildo. You haven’t yet witnessed this act, but you will, later. A hanger-on, let’s call him Tony, offers you a drink. You drink even though you know, because you saw him do it, that the drink is spiked. Another hanger-on, a friend of this Tony, pulls you down on to his lap. Soon you are naked. Tony is naked. His friend is naked. You are had, as the phrase has it, by at least five different men. At a certain point they let you crawl to the bathroom where you see Brett Blanco being fucked up the arse by Linda, his manager. In that instant all of your illusions come tumbling down.

A dog called Dillis and a cat called Carter will be your best friends on this journey into the unknown where you will encounter, among many wondrous treasures, the secret dreams of pirates, mermaids, ballerinas and midgets. You will march with tin soldiers, fly with fireflies and walk the moon with all manner of magical astronauts and spacemen. In the Garden of Greed, however, you will find yourself face-to-face with evil demons of every stripe and hue who will engage you in thrilling, dangerous battles that will put your mind, body and spirit to the test. But fear not, Jesus is on your side.

You’re going to die. We’re going to kill you. They said, as they clasped their hands around her throat. Give us some sweets, they said, and laughed, when she said she didn’t have any sweets on account of her being diabetic. They punched her in the stomach. They held lighters to her hair. They pulled her glasses off her face and stamped on them. They spat into her mouth. They rammed their fingers up her nostrils. They yanked her hearing aid off. They pushed her to the ground. They kicked her in her face, stomach and legs. When she returned home, an hour later than expected, her mother began to shout. But when she realised, when she got the full measure of what had happened to her daughter, she burst into tears. She threw up. She rang the police. She kissed her daughter. She ran out into the street. She undressed her daughter. She bathed her daughter. She rang the police. She hugged her daughter. She wept, bitterly. She rang her ex-husband. She laughed. She wept. She stepped out into the back garden. She looked up at the stars. She lit, and part-smoked, a cigarette. She kissed and hugged her daughter. She helped her daughter into bed. She kissed her daughter. She rang the police. She stepped out into the street. She looked up at the stars. She lit a cigarette.

It is a lonesome spot in a lonesome pub set back from the street by way of a few chairs, wooden and broken, plus the remnants of a table or two and an upturned barrel. Inside, however. The lonesome spot – which, for the purpose of creating extra pathos, could be lit by a single red spotlight – is occupied, first of all, by you. You as you are now and always will be. Next to you, a touch away, but not quite touching, your husband of these past few years, a cliché of violence, bad manners and his stupid thug dog tied, or rather, tethered, to one of the tables outside. You spoke, briefly, a few minutes ago when he went to the bar to fetch you your drinks. You will speak again, in a minute or two, when you tell him you don’t want another drink, not just yet, you haven’t finished this one.

Your first thought, when you came across your father’s long-lost tin of coronation chocolate, was how much money you could get for it. Your face then, when the man at Bonham’s told you it was worth - despite its ripe old age and unusually superb condition - only twenty-five pounds, must have been an absolute picture.

Tell me again about the time you were the drummer for that whatsit, that punk, ah, rock band. Early nineties was it, New York? You know, the year – excuse me – the year that punk broke. Seriously, I’d love to hear all about it.

What was needed, decided the kids, was some kind of intervention. At the agreed time, as she sat down to her dinner - prepared for her, as usual, by the kids - they marched into the front room, stood in line and shouted, in practiced unison: Please give up the drugs mummy! Frozen, her fork caught mid-air on its way up to her mouth, she eventually replied: No, I won’t give up the drugs. Now fuck off, I’m trying to watch the fucking telly.

The Red Blast was a tired and alone. The lonely life of a crime-fighting superhero. Where was his wife when he needed her? Well, she was out with some long-haired mush down the local picture house, her hand in the bucket of popcorn fixed afirmly to his lap.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Shannon said...

This one's a whirligig, a flick-book. or a merry-go-round with flashes of focus. I could read on and on. That phrase 'exploded, tinily'...just two words and you've got the full measure of the man. Wonderful.

6:58 AM  
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