Bunkroom 1 – Bottom Bunk


 

Dictaphone looped interview with Simon Piler from Bunkroom 3… September 2009

Knock,

Knock,

Knock..

Hello, Smally, are you around? It’s Simon. Do you have a moment?

Hey. Yeah I’m here, hiding under the bed. It’s… well it’s not important. For you Simon I have as many moments as you need.

I know that words are precious, so I’ll try not to muddle them; would you mind if I asked you a few questions about these things so-called ‘Quixodelic’ in nature? I have been quite curious for some time.

Okay. Let me just get out from under here and get my tobacco. I’m going to try and stop smoking again tomorrow by the way. Twenty-ninth time lucky. Oh, you’ve brought a film crew with you? Shit. If I’d known I would have scrubbed up. Here have a seat on this grubby rum-stained mattress. Haha, this reminds me of “Frost vs Nixon”… “Piler vs Smally”… so go easy on me.

First of all, may I ask you, why Don Quixote? And in that light, what elements of his personality does quixodelia draw from?

Well this was really just an accidental happening of language. The idea to start making free download compilations came to me when I was standing smoking in my back garden in the rain and thinking about The Beat Generation as long ago as March 2007. I was thinking “What kind of generation are we?” and the first thing that happened in my head was “The Daydream Generation”. I think that we have a lot of cultural baggage to be hauling around – many bridges of opportunity that should still be standing were burned in the 1960s, plus we have the weight of environmental, social, and economic pressures that many of our forefathers didn’t have. To counter this I think as a coping mechanism we have a tendency more than anyone before us to escape into our own imaginations, hence “Daydream”. In particular this manifests itself in art, and as I’d been so heavily involved in music for the year previous to this, this idea triggered instantly the subsequent idea to put together music compilations under this name. Actually I’d been pestering the Cozy Home for months previous to this to organise a compilation to no avail, so the idea of making compilations was already floating around in my brain waiting to manifest. It was a case of attaching a home-made sledge to the proverbial bull’s horns and seeing (1) was it possible, and (2) how long I could hold on for.In the summer of 2007 The Daydream Generation was up and running and we had a couple of compilations out. At the time, Tara was helping behind the scenes and whenever we posted on the MySpace blog we would set the mood to “Quixotic”. This in turn led to a discussion of the word “quixotic” and how it had derived from Don Quixote – the original daydreamer. It took me three years a long time ago to read that book, and though it was hard-going I really loved it. Beneath the archaic translated text, was a humour, not just in the words of Cervantes, but also in his lead characters own relentless quest to fly in the face of adversity, a beautiful portrayal of innocent madness run amok, and a shining example of how to live a daydream, irrespective of what other people might think. I think if Don Quixote had been around in the 21st century, then he would have been hunched in his basement recording songs to save the world, using a cheap microphone and a free software programme on his stuttering overloaded computer. In 16th century Spain, the battlegrounds were livelihood and land, nowadays the fight takes place in ideology and imaginations. Also of course there is the absolute calamity that seems to pervade every noble project and lost cause we’ve ever chased – it is undeniably Quixote-esque in nature.

Do quixodelic things have any definite way of being described? Do they glow in the dark? What is their general density? Do these things emit any form of radiation? Can you seal them into containers, or will they escape from containers despite well-formed seals? Do they have distinctive, volatile scents? Or, perhaps quixodelia is not qualitative at all. These things might be good to make a short note of.

Haha! You lost me at “glow in the dark”! The term “Quixodelic” was Tara’s, from a comment she used to leave on people’s MySpace profiles to promote what we were doing – “Visit us at http://www.daydreamgeneration.com for all things quixodelic!” So first and foremost we’ve got her to thank for its existence. For a long time (and even more so now) I’ve been trying to pin down the phenomenon that is happening in the music industry. There is undoubtedly a revolution of sorts taking place – not just in the way that we can record and share our music with each other through new technology, but something much deeper and socially profound is happening too. My understanding of this revolution is still very raw and indefinite, so you’ll have to excuse me if this sounds convoluted and disjointed, but I’ll try my best to explain.Over the last decade, and in particular over the last five years there has been a gargantuan shift in the way we publish, get hold of, and even perceive music. File-sharing over the internet has dealt the corporations a major blow that they will struggle to recover from. They will try and are trying to wage a bloody war in defence of their wealth and supposed position of power (just like any greedy, bloated, capital-orientated creature would do when their very existence is under threat). The thing is, piracy is just one front, and given that these vampires and musical car salesmen have all the capital and resources behind them, I expect that this battle will be increasingly gruesome as they fight dirty for their system and assets, and that ultimately they’ll come out on top. However, while this is happening, they’ve taken their eye off the ball – a second front has opened up and this one is not only pure and driven by the right reasons, but it is gathering momentum by the day. The same technology that people use to illegally download copies of records, is being used by the little guy and girl on the street to share their music with each other. And they’re doing it FOR FREE. The motivation is multi-fold – just to be heard and get their songs out there, because the record company man isn’t listening, or because they make music purely for the love of making music and nothing else. In actual fact the motivation doesn’t really matter. The truth is that you don’t need to pay for another record again for as long as you live. The tidal wave has broken the dam. And let me tell you… it is a myth that they will try to put forward that the reason that this music is free is because it isn’t as good as the music they’re choosing to punt to you through the corporate radio stations, plastered up on billboards, blinking on your television sets and so and so on. The truth is that there is free music out there that will blow your brains clean out of your skull. Songs and sounds getting made in basements and on bedroom floors, around camp-fires and garages and in home recording studios that is unique, that is genuinely saying something about the world we inhabit, that is speaking to you on a human level that those fuckers would dearly love to polish out of existence. Hiss does not sell cars and fluffed notes do not sell shoes. We’re like puppets dancing on their strings, fast asleep on our feet, hypnotised by a bottleneck ideal. It seems like an integral part of this system that you should daydream of fame and fortune, but sooner or later we’ll have to realise that it’s time we started daydreaming about how to change the world for the better. I mean, I’d far rather my children’s children spend their pocket money on a harmonica than a chart topping CD, and I hope that whatever gizmos they use to listen to their music in the future be filled with bands and songs I’ve never heard of. Furthermore I hope they don’t fall for the wolves in sheep’s clothing – you know the ones I mean, right-on corporate websites that host your records for free, but you can sell tracks if you want and they will take a cut, sucking on the teat of advertising, offering you platinum diamond encrusted upgrades. Those fuckers are just as bad as the major labels. If you make music then go out and find yourself a collective, and if you can’t find anyone you can share a website with, then go and form a collective of your own. If WE can do it, then believe me, anyone can do it. In fact, soon as we finish this interview I’m going to go and burn all my Beatles CDs, not because they’re bigger than Jesus, but to remind myself there is simply so much great undiscovered free music out there to be found and loved.Anyway, this movement, still in its embryonic stages is something I’m glad to be a part of. For a long time I searched on the internet looking for references, critiques, other accounts of it but found nothing specific. Certainly it seems to be rooted in the counterculture, and bears a resemblance to the DIY punk movement of the 1980s and cassette culture of the 1990s – yet these both still had financial considerations at the heart of them (an attempt to cut out the corporate middle man). Also it owes a lot to the relatively recent rise of bootlegs and live recordings (Dylan’s “Basement Tapes” and The Beatles “Anthology” are great examples), and the idea of “Lo-Fi” as a musical genre, where the blemishes and rawness of recordings are something to be embraced as human and immediate rather than something that is not up to scratch (or not marketable). But again this movement is not a genre as it is essentially all-encompassing, and I have heard plenty of home-recordings that sound like sonic gold. It was with these crazy notions in my head that I eventually took Tara’s “Quixodelic” and applied it to everything that I perceived to fall into this revolutionary wave, purely for the sake of calling it something. Daydream Generation Records became Quixodelic Records, and I continue to this day to search for a better description that captures it. I hope we find it before the vampires do.
Oh shit I just fell off my soap mattress and came to my senses. What the fuck am I on about? Why didn’t you stop me?
So to answer your original questions I’d have to say no, potentially yes, unqualified, no, yes and no that’s highly unlikely I hope, haha not that I know about, and perhaps yes that’s probably it.

When did you start ‘The Daydream Generation’? For those of us that weren’t around in the earlier days, what were things like in the beginning? Any favorite or notorious moments you’d care to highlight?

This is a very good question. I’ve not really thought about the beginnings for a long while, and it’s interesting to look back at it from the benefit of this vantage point two and a half years down the line. As described previously it was March 2007, and thinking about it now I can’t believe how naive I was concerning both how much work would be involved, and how difficult it would be to actually make an impact. I’d met a lot of bands through both Cozy Home Records (they kindly adopted my own band of 13 years The Wheelies inviting us in from the musical wilderness) and MySpace (back when it was a place to discover new music and not just the rat race stock market cacophony of self-promotion that it feels like today) – and I figured it would be fun to put together a couple of free downloads as a way of helping promote all these songs and artists that I really liked. At the time I didn’t know anyone else who was doing it – obviously there was, but from where I was sitting it felt like a new and very exciting idea: free digital mix-tapes of unsigned bands you’ve likely never heard of. I remembered buying these Indie music compilations when I was a kid and through them discovering bands like The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays, Chapterhouse and Ride, and was aiming at recreating that feeling of adventure putting together a couple of discs of unfamiliar names in the hope that there might be something you could listen to for a lifetime.In the beginning I had to really work at getting people to contribute a song, loads of emails, explanations of what the project was about, “mining” MySpace into the night looking for people that I hoped would fit. Nowadays when I put together a compilation, it doesn’t take a lot of digging. With each DG compilation the core bands that contribute and can be counted on grows, and it has reached a stage where I usually only need to send a couple of group emails and get suggestions from people who are already involved in the project to fill 160 minutes (in fact DG6 was so popular that it ended up being 3 full CDs). There are a handful of individuals and groups that I regret losing touch with over time – more often than not it is about their circumstances rather than me not wanting them to be involved – but generally the people who are here at the moment are the exact people that I want to be promoting, and hopefully this has shown in the quality of the compilations over time. Early on in the DG’s history someone said to me that the personality behind the music is as important as the music itself. I regrettably immediately cut this person loose for their negativity, but they did have a point. Each compilation has been like a filter, or an assault course, and each time we carry over a new handful of really decent people who make great music. Those of you left standing now that have been featured repeatedly are there because of who you are and the songs you play… so give yourself a pat on the back.Again, with the benefit of hindsight I’m probably the last person who should have ever attempted to orchestrate something like this. Anyone who has ever met me will tell you that I’m not a “doing” person, I’m an ideas person – a Grade A daydreamer if you will. I am socially introspective and technologically incompetent, so it makes it even more staggering to think where we’ve got to in such a short space of time. I think we collectively owe a lot to Tim Schram of Transatmospheric and Cozy Home who put together http://www.daydreamgeneration.com for nothing, and has always been an email away for advice or to help turn ideas into reality. The thing that always tipped me over the edge into even attempting to do something I think is my age. I’m an old bastard at 34 now, and would have been 31 when I started the Daydream Generation, so I’ve always had that urgent and impending sense of needing to get as much done as possible while it is still creditable to do so. I was pretty messed up in my early twenties and ended up vanishing back into the real world for eight beautiful years (kind of like a Buddhist monk going up the mountain in search of Enlightenment – only in reverse). Those eight years not only fixed my head, but they also gave me an appetite for wanting to create something really worthwhile – The Daydream Generation I guess was my attempt.The hardest part about looking back to the beginning and remembering that sense of genuine excitement when compilations were getting put together, or when we were trying to work out alternative ways of getting the word out, even simply mining for and discovering like-minded musicians, is that although we’ve come a long way from the clumsily enthusiastic beginnings, I also can’t help but feeling like the project has failed. Instead of the dizzying stratospheric heights of notoriety, actually we barely got our feet off the ground. I’ve learned a lot about people and about the shared pursuit of a daydream through the DG and associated projects. For a start, you can’t engineer a collective. Nor can you expect other people to want to dream exactly the same dream as you. The musical world we inhabit, seems to be a place that we flicker in and out of – some of us seem ever-present, others disappear for weeks and months. Some people see the bigger collective picture easily, and others are only in it for themselves. When all is said and done, I think it comes down to numbers and seconds. The amount of work that goes into each compilation has arguably reduced over time, but the quantity of downloads that each compilation gets remains roughly the same. You can’t change the world if only 100 people download your sampler featuring forty bands. And you can’t connect with a wider audience unless everyone involved gets behind the project, blogging and bulletineering, posting on forums, telling their friends and telling their friends to tell their friends. For me at least, the excitement has gone. Don’t get me wrong – I still love hearing all the tracks back to back from all over the globe, and I like that it is still the same daydream that propels it and the same philanthropic ideal underpinning it… but ultimately I know that I’ve somehow let it down by getting side-tracked and spinning more plates than it could take. That’s not to say great things have come out of it, only it wasn’t the great things I originally hoped for. But like I said… I’m probably the last person who should have ever attempted to orchestrate something like this.

I know that the Daydream Generation, Quixodelic Records and The Utica Flower Company aren’t easily divided, but I also know that they do operate on slightly different wavelengths.

How do the elements fit together in your mind?

I think since The Mardi set sail on the 1st May 2009, the three separate elements of what we’re involved in here have found their own form. Like a great big tree. The foundations and big thick lower branches are The Daydream Generation, where you climb on. The middle of the tree where the juicy fruit grows is Quixodelic Records. And the top of the tree is The Utica Flower Company, where the wind blows hard and the branches are spindly and perilous, that’s where only the really wild ones climb.

No? Okay, I’ll put it less metaphorically…

The Daydream Generation as discussed is essentially compilations of unsigned bands. Usually everyone who appears on Quixodelic Records appears on the compilations, but it is also open to others who are already affiliated with other collectives. It’s pretty much all-embracing and a place where you can hopefully discover new music, even if you already know and love half the bands on it. I like that balance – half are people you will have heard on previous DG compilations, and half are people you will probably have never heard of. Again as discussed, I’m pretty sure this project is royally fucked… or at the very least on its last legs. Every compilation feels like the last. However I would say this: I’m giving up writing songs of my own, so that’s going to free up a lot more time for promoting the music I like. In the greater scheme of things The Daydream Generation is still an infant of an idea, so there’s always the remote chance that life can be breathed back into it.

Quixodelic Records is perhaps the element I’m most proud of. I guess when I put on my reality specs I can see that it is not a record label as such, but I really believe in all of the artists and all of the albums that are in there, and as long as Tim keeps hosting the site, then the Quixodelic store will be open for business. For a while I felt very overwhelmed by the amount of work I was having to put into the DG and decided that I would save the little there is for promotion of the artists and records that we are featuring. At the time we set it up, the only people I knew that were doing the same was Cozy Home, so really this was a way of featuring bands and artists that weren’t a part of that set-up. Over time the lines have blurred (a good thing) and the likes of Fig Mints, The Real Burnouts, and The Wheelies all feature in both places. I’ve since also discovered CLLCT, who in many ways are streets ahead of us in both scale and technology. But the beautiful thing about what we’re doing (giving our music away for free) is that there is no such thing as competition, there are only comrades accidentally finding themselves fighting the same corner. Quixodelic Records in that sense is perhaps more a little shop where you can pick up music for free… actually size-wise it’s more like a wallpapering table laid out at the edge of the world. I’d urge anyone involved in Quixodelic to go out and join CLLCT, find other places to host their records as well as us – you only get one shot at this, so cover as much ground as you can.

If The Daydream Generation is the most well known of the three, and Quixodelic Records is the one I’m most proud of, then I’d have to say that The Utica Flower Company is the one I enjoy the most. Originally it was born out my efforts to collectivise what we were doing, to get people involved with posting on the DG site, and get some dialogue going between individuals dotted all over the globe. Attempts to do this on the main Daydream Generation site were something of a failure – there was definitely interest and I did get some help, but I think the sticking point was probably that people didn’t know how or what to do. There seems to be a perception that these things are my projects, whereas in reality I’ve been constantly crying out for help from the right people for just about as long as I can remember. When this idea to allow anyone within the collective to post directly onto the main site failed, I tried to resurrect the old Daydream Generation forum that had been relatively successful for a couple of months before fading into obscurity. Becky N correctly pointed out that the very generic forum provider we were using looked and subsequently felt pretty generic, so she kicked off a WordPress blog. Now this new collective blog/forum hybrid might have looked a lot better and had much more accessible technology in place, but I still felt that without a different spin on it, that we would be in the same boat as we were with the old forum. So rather than be in the same boat, I went and borrowed some money and bought an actual boat, and the rest as they say is history. Technically I suppose I hijacked the original idea of a collective blog and swam away with it, but I did consult everyone involved and the general consensus was that the ship was the way to go. Going way back, the original Utica Flower Company was a basement in Utica, NY beneath an old florist, where “revolutionary people meet” – artists, musicians, poets, writers, anarchists, beatniks, scientists, cartoonists, urchins, coming together to share ideas and inspire and encourage each other to create bigger and better things. What you see here was an attempt to make the Flower Company an actual functioning workshop. Someday I hope there are Flower Company’s all over the earth. A franchise. Feel free to start your own.

I must know, what do you think of the algaebrew? Have you tried it, chaplin? I think it’s pretty splendid stuff, but then again, I guess it was at least twenty-five percent my idea and being so, I can’t give it a very unbiased opinion, you see.

Honestly Simon, I’m reluctant to try it. I fucking miss my coffee, but I’ve seen the film footage of the three o’clock report and it scares the shit out of me. Remember I have already been incarcerated in an Infinity Cell for two weeks after eating hallucinogenic ice-cream. But if you can assure me there are no ill side effects then I’ll pour myself a cup. Where do I get it? And when will the phone lines and internet be back up and running?

Would you care to cast any light on future blueprints and designs that you have for our Quixodelic dreamship? How do you think people-in-general can best absorb and contribute to this floating pack-of-dreams?

Yes, most definitely.

This is undoubtedly the most important thing you have asked me. Apart from “Do Quixodelic things glow in the dark?”

In the immediate future we’ve got the hurdle of The Invisible Box-Set to negotiate, but after that it is open seas for as far as the open eyes can see. What I’m really saying is that beyond 1st October 2009, the future and direction of these musical adventures is there for the shaping. Will there be more Daydream Generation compilations? Maybe yes, maybe no. In the off-chance that there are, anyone who wants to contribute a track can email me an mp3 at daydreamgen@gmail.com and I’ll try and make some space to listen. The same applies for Quixodelic Records – if anyone has a record they’d like us to host on our wallpapering table, then please feel free to point me in the right direction. The best form of contribution though is to go and download some of the records, leave some feedback, post a bulletin or a blog post about what we’re doing. We can’t buy advertising. But then again you can’t buy a shared collective daydream either.

The most important thing for now is The Utica Flower Company and The Mardi. We’ve been sailing for four months (that’s one third of our voyage around the planet if my calculations are correct). It’s never too late to sign up for the crew and we will of course provide transportation to wherever the fuck we are. It’s never too late to get re-involved either. I remember feeling somewhat deflated a month or so into the journey when Company members began jumping ship (see, I told you these things die a quick death). Here’s an open forum, a place to promote your own creative adventures and help others, and really only a handful of individuals have stepped up to the plate. The thing is, I think it was always expecting too much of people to really get involved in the very abstract idea of the ship itself. Curiously now I feel the complete opposite – amazed that anyone ever mucked in at all. Not all of us are writers, and not all of us have the time to throw at a titanic (haha) project like the UFC. More recently the objectives of the ship have subtly changed – where before it was purely about achieving some kind of group dialogue and taking a bit of the weight of activity off my shoulders, it has now evolved into an interactive collective work of fiction (or non-fiction depending on which side of the ship you are standing). Assuming all goes well and we sail on through to the 1st May 2010, then I’d like to take the bulk of everything that has been written and turn it into a book. It will require some serious editing, but I imagine it will take the following format: beginning of the book – welcome pack, ship roster (I am working on this, but it is heavy going), the ship section itself; the body of the book split into two sections – the Main Deck (posts and comments), and then a second section with each of the individual parts of the ship (the freezer, the imaginary film, cabins and bunkrooms etc.) I’ve put some money aside to get a small run of copies made and then would look to get it hosted through lulu.com or suchlike so that copies could be printed per order. I’m intending on that first run to have a soundtrack CD in a pocket of the book’s inside cover featuring some of the music on the site, maybe “A Soundtrack To Doom Cruise: An Imaginary Film”.

Bearing that all in mind, the way that people can best contribute is to join the Company if you haven’t already, sign up for a WordPress account and let me know the email you’re using and I’ll get you added. From there get involved in ship life if you can. Work on existing pages, grab a bunk, make that space your own, muck in on parts of the ship that look lonely and lost, and push things in your own direction with posts, the madder the better. The rest of us will quixodelically follow. If you can’t write, then don’t worry… at the very least give it a go. And if you can’t give it a go, then a well-timed comment here and there is as good as the wind of herculean posts in the sails.

There are no blueprints. We’ve been making this up as we go along from the very beginning and will continue to do so until the bitter or beautiful end.

Also, do you have any thoughts regarding good practice while dreaming?

Dreaming? All I can think of is make sure and find a safe place to fall asleep.

If you are meaning day-dreaming, then that’s very different. I find a big window helps. Also pulling the idea-trigger immediately before you have time to think about the consequences. As long as your intentions are pure and truthful then you can’t really go wrong – even when you fuck it all up.

Well, that’s pretty much it. Ah, I guess I’ll be seeing you around.

That you will. Cheers for dropping by Simon. And thanks for these questions… the answers might not help clear up any confusions you all have concerning Quixodelic things, but as always they’ve helped me scrub the brain decks clean.

Oh wait! Before you go… the algaebrew…. is it flammable?

****

Oh, and for what it’s worth, this is me – just to put a face behind the nickname.
I am currently a cartoon... it's a long story
I am currently a cartoon… it’s a long story

_______________________________________________________

I open the door and step inside.

Bunkroom 1 is completely obliterated in paint. A blow-up doll lies in a heap beneath the window with a bolt through its head. I kick through the trash – a seven legged pickled tarantula, a phone that has been smashed with a golf club from the wall, broken bottles of absinthe, fake moustaches, to finally fall exhausted into the cloud coffin at the centre of the room.
I think it has been three weeks since I last slept.
My eyelashes flutter and close.
And then I dream…
Daybreak.
Eerily bereft of dawn chorus.
The empty red carpet rolls up the steps to the nuthouse door. Crumbs, corks, and headless dandelion stalks discarded by the cognoscenti flow away with the bathwater. In the distance a lonely bagpiper skirls across the benighted rooftops of the slumbering city.
Hanging on either side of the door are giant nova teeth posters advertising “Smally’s Dream #5: Zugzwang Mousetrap” (Final Episode, screening exclusively tonight).
So up the steps we go, hand in hand, and a brass band plays scrambled singalong feel-good songs from the 1960s. The sensation of impending checkmate intensifies in the belly and the daredevils take aspirins while their bivouacs blow away in the breeze. The watching world is temporarily mesmerised.
Inside the atrium, the abyss of an old abandoned theatre has been recreated with seats ripped out of stock cars filled with apostles snuggling together awaiting the last kiss of gospel on the desolate stage. The aquamarine lights go down and we sit in a trance staring at the audacious holograms that parachute down from the glass ceiling. Destiny is crayoned in space. Words that pulse like distant quasars –

SMALLY’S DREAM #5: ZUGZWANG MOUSETRAP

A PEZ TV PRODUCTION, 2050

31 SMILES EUPHONICALLY
DRAMATIS PERSONAE
KEF / KOLINSKY / BILL WHITE
THE CUBAN / RASMUSSEN THE BALLOONIST
HASHANNAH / CINDERELLA / THE LAUNDRETTE ASSISTANT
RUBINSTEIN (THE SECRETARY OF STATE)
FRIAR TUCK / HOLY JONES
GRETEL / BO PEEP
LAURELIA / ANOTHER GIRL
KOBUS KOB
SIBYL
PENELOPE TWINKLE / THE SQUAW
KAMIKAZE GUBBINS
KRILL
MIDAS
LIEUTENANT VERLAINE / GUY FAWKES
CALVIN
CORTES
McADOO
WILLOW WALKER / NYMPHETTA
SOLOMAN
THE SERATONIN SHEIK
HERB QWERTY
KID GLOVES / NICOT
BEDLINGTON
RICKENBACKER
THE STOOGE
HUCKLEBERRY FINN
DR BLUEJAY
ELVIS EDISON
EDWIN PUSSY
DILMAN SUNDAY
NORMA GODWIN
CLACK GODWIN
GEORGE CINCLUS
THE MINOTAUR
LOUIS HEMINGWAY
MOLLY HEMINGWAY
BREWSKY
STEINBOK
TECHNICIAN
THE BLUETTES
SOFI CISMONTANE
RAGTAIL
BOBTAG
CLACK
PIGMAN
THE CHIMNEY SWEEP
THE BLACK BARON
TOMMY
SLIM
PALEFACE
QUEEN RABBIT
THE SEAMSTRESS
ADMIRAL OF THE IMPERIAL FLEET
MARLENE MIKHAILOVICH
GRANDPA MIKHAILOVICH
FLORENCE MIKHAILOVICH
THE PROVOST
CATHERINE WALDHEIM
MELODY WALDHEIM
THE WELTERWEIGHT’S BROTHER
TV CRITIC
HALLEY KERASKOV
KID IN A PUMPKIN HAT
OWEN McGUFFEY
BUGWIG KNUDSEN
ISHMAEL
SOLICITOR
CHIEF OF POLICE
JULIET WAH-WAH
INTERGALACTIC GOLDILOCKS
RIGHT ON! MAGDALENA
MODULAR MADONNA
>
>
>
>
>
The hologram fades to black and a cherub’s voice counts down from ten to zero while we hold out coincidental breath…………………………………………………

33 thoughts on “Bunkroom 1 – Bottom Bunk

  1. PROLOGUE: COLD ONIONS, JANUARY 1998

    “Once it was all dreamt up it was as good as done – ”

    The Supercool Boho Trinity’s lurching red boneshaker lickety-splits across the fantastic imaginings of highways and dustwynds, traffic jams and subconscious badlands, finally gets caught in a shimmering tailspin coming out of some terrified cesspool they got the nerve to call “a town”. Tommy dog-tired alcoholic lonesome and legendary behind the mighty wheel, dreamin about baked beans and quahogs served up on the great velocity of telepathic plates, hangin on in there for the next roll-up and smoko. Kolinsky up front fiddling with the radio, hairless Julietless fresh from a padded cell where all he’d accumulated was bedsores and for a short time began sheepwalking, speaks strangely quietly about the Lotus Sutra, fuck the literati, bethinks him a vision of a maudlin chorus girl in the maddest green light of the Far West, 70 miles gone and nobody notices he is still suffering stuck in his straightjacket. Slim in back, seraphic moony with comic strip hair falling down over the Universe of his face, everything with him is either white christmas or restless, but mainly plain tickety-boo (pockets overflow with loose change and old lollipop sticks, kindest heart outside of a fictional heaven, gooning around in his asthenic’s classical bone-poppin’ rib-cage baby…).

    …” Fizz-whizz-bang-boom-crunch-etc. [ Snickering omelette of a voice ] …the weather forecast is three-day-oblivion of blood and thunder, ice storms and evil eyes, with brief sunny interludes… but do not despair cold gem children of Dalriada! If you can hold on in there ’til summer, chances are we are in for a diamondiferous scorcher! Miaouw! ”

    Us silent

    Deuced in a sad diagonal, half-submerged in a mud hole. TURN THAT SHIT OFF KOLINSKY, IT’S FLUNKING ME! croaks Tommy, head in the huge pizzaz of his hands, and Kolinsky just sits there, praying for lightbulbs.

    Slim elastic is making frantic gestures in the back seat with nothing to say but …AW FUCK.

    O Doctor!
    Our dreams of America burnt us up
    and we been having… naked thoughts.

    I’m tired of this shit and walk
    forever head bent down
    lost in monkey business:
    “what to wear? who to call?
    why to need? where to smile?
    what watermelon?
    whose woe?” –

    The Sachem, old red face appearing
    in the fantastic lake of my mind,
    leonine roars VERBOSITY!
    VERBOSITY IS THE DREAM-CHRONICLER’S
    FIERCEST ENEMY! NAKED APES DO NOT
    HAVE THE ENERGY TO REACH
    FOR A DICTIONARY! KEEP IT SIMPLE HONKY!

    Oh dear, I think I might be mad… in bell-bottoms, hypomanic in a straw hut, hip to the shrug, to the wink, had wastebasket visions of bras and in the performance was a paper tiger threatening to pounce at Truth’s jugular with blunt leather claws…

    …pressed together , rock-bottom, in a pitter-patter piss-filled telephone box, two miles east of Cumbernauld –

    Tommy is explaining to an electrified Kolinsky ‘the trouble with Paleface’ – THE TROUBLE WITH PALEFACE IS THAT HE IS HIP TO THINGS FOR ALL THE WRONG FUCKING REASONS.
    Kolinksy stuffs his last silver coin into the machine and makes the call.

    Paleface picks up.
    IT’S ME, KOLINSKY… WE’RE IN THE SHITHOUSE AND YOU’VE GOT TO BE OUR SAINT…

    WHAT NOW? haws Paleface irritably.

    CRASHED THE BONESHAKER AND WE’RE CLEAN OUT OF CIGARETTES, says Kolinksy, hopping around on his toes.

    ” This one goes out to all the droobs in Suburbia… ”

    Even in dreams, Life comes apart at the seams

    Unbeknown to Tommy and Kolinsky, Slim is at this present moment desperately trying to rob a nearby McDaylightrobberies armed with tee-hee and a makeshift peashooter. Needless to say, this inspirational plunge into Refusenik territory ends with a burger and a pencil case, which he fills with fries for his disposable comrades, currently sitting their glum behinds down in the undertones of shivering caesious grass by the roadside… waiting miserably for Paleface to show.

    Kolinsky is pulling some crumpled exercise book from his hip pocket and maddened begins to scribble out ‘Cold Onions’ – an isogogic (c)ode, aimed at dustpanning the suburban myth from all directions:

    COLD ONIONS

    I remember that polymorphic girl she crawled
    two-faced, hi on Life from the ashtray and stole
    a golden rainbow from under my golden nose

    I ended up stuffing
    dirty words into her flapping mail-box –
    ‘pussy’ went in with a crump

    Staring down at the bowl of cold onions that were served that night for dinner – Mother at 36 suddenly realising her whole life was a sham, so she’d spent the afternoon down at the flea-porn arcade playing pinball with a mysterious Inca – and Father drones forever on…
    how he got the heebie-jeebies when he was a kid, had ripped up all the floorboards in the house looking for the amphisbaena
    NEVER TRUSTED A GREEK SINCE he says, smiling behind a harelip

    Man, it is mind-blowing

    Her & her “stomach-pump nightmares”, him with his “liposuction fantasies”… I politely excuse myself from the table and upstairs place my throbbing head inside a goldfish bowl. Later a flophouse call from the Sachem:

    SUBURBIA – THERE ARE MURDERERS SLURPING SOUP, WATCHING TELEVISION, IN A HOUSE, ON YOUR STREET,
    SUBURBIA – YOUR CHILDREN EITHER DROP OUT (IN WHICH CASE YOU REJECT THEM), MOVE UP (IN WHICH CASE THEY REJECT YOU), OR STICK (THEY BECOME YOU), CATS ARE BURIED DEEP IN YOUR MIND-GARDEN… OLD POINTLESS SHUDDERING BONES BUT WORM-WALLS.
    SUBURBIA – A LARGE PROPORTION OF YOUR EYES ARE DREAMLESS…
    SUBURBIA – SUDDENLY YOU GOT A DRUG PROB-

    SHUT UP! I scream

    SUBURBIA – YOUR PLAYGROUNDS PARADE THE NEXT GENERATION OF TRANSVESTITES…
    SUBURBIA – YOUR ERECTION IS DOOMED…
    SUBURBIA – RELAX – I’M ONLY PULLING YR HEADSTRINGS…

    I caught a glimpse of myself in a shop window. I looked a lot like Kindness, that kid who caused so many wet-ons Edinburgh flooded, who howled down wealthy decoked poets slurring epyllions of plastic degenerates and leapt from intelligence with a methylenedioxymethamphetamine GERONIMO! only to land in the lotus position upon the summit of a percipient oink

    Same kid who got blackballed by the silent majority for psychobabble
    Same kid who went face-to-face with a bonafide banshee and told her to CALM THE FUCK DOWN…
    Same kid who wound up washing pots and pans in NYC at the turn of the 21st century and rejected Christianity thrice because it was BORING

    Last thing I heard
    he was shacked up with the polymorphic girl from stanza one
    him suffering from self-hatred and solvency abuse
    her sloping off to the ash tray for auto-eroticism, utterly sick of the missionary position, phoning up ex’s in the middle of the night with Kafkaesque fairy stories about how she had sliced her kinky wrists open
    and me a motherf**ker – dwelling upon all the indiginty of Suburbia
    struggling with the goldfish bowl
    but as yet, not panicking.

    As usual the Sachem gets the last word – SWEET BOY YOU MUST TRAIN YR LIPS TO LAUGH… LOOK AT IT THIS WAY: AT LEAST YR BOWL OF COLD ONIONS WAS NOT A BOWL OF COLD SPERM

    AN INTERESTING POINT
    THANKS FOR THAT SACHEM, I say

    …” whiz-pop-pop-cr-ackle-crunch-etc. Weather forecast is no weather at all for the next quarter century kiddies. Time to start reading up on Samadhi… ”

    Just before Paleface drops Kolinsky off at the nuthouse, Slim is convinced he catches him crying – KOLINSKY, WHY ARE YOU CRYING? he asks, throwing his long left bowling-arm over his friend’s drooping shoulders
    I’M OKAY sniffs Kolinsky and shuffles up the 16 outstretched concrete steps that lead to the huge iron door, head bowed to his lipstick shoes, way down deep in his brain, he can vividly picture his maudlin chorus girl somewhere on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, perched on the lavatory dabbing at her eyes with soft pink tissue paper

    Swallows Cold Onions and climbs into the Big White Lonely metal bed to dream again: hears a Beat conversation in the beak of a macaw –

    ” Kerouac : But where’ll all this shit get us?

    Ginsberg : Simply get us rid of shit, really Jack ”

    Mazarine Silence.

  2. 1 – VIEW FROM A VENTILATION SHAFT

    Bopeep screwed up, clanged against the edges of the ventilation shaft
    Below her, Friar Tuck and the Secretary of State all hard-ons and ringlets
    Looked up in the chemical honeycomb light like startled crabs

    WHAT THE FUCK WAS THAT RUBINSTEIN? screeched Tuck, prematurely waddling
    out onto the veranda
    Moonbeams ignite harmonically in front of his eyes as he searches the sky for birds
    and bulbs of hydraulic providence

    Up above, jammed between the floors, Bopeep holds her breath naively
    The colourless air around her head scrunches her up into a hypersensitized state
    She remembers that time she saw Christ and the Personalists, flirting with that storyline
    on Chronological Street – premenstrual, she was shocked at how imperfect he looked
    in his crimson cardigan

    Back when she was a simple matchmaker
    Up to her elbows in survivor guilt and the algebra of love
    She thought of the sub-family: Kodiak Bear and Abraham, Herb, The Cuban and Kid Gloves
    out on the battle-lines, a polyzonal popularity contest, a non-reversible process
    : insurgency of the most cataclysmic kind, to recolonize
    falling into sneaking up on

    Mao and Ceasar’s heads in frequencies on the imperial wall
    Rubinstein – the reptile – weighs up the transmutations
    eating his way into carbohydrate hyperconsciousness
    TUCK YOU FAT FUCK he growls
    BRING ME ANOTHER GIRL
    I WANT SOME BOHOS VAPORIZED

  3. 2 – GEORGE CINCLUS GETS VAPORIZED

    RIDE MY LION IN THE APRICOT SUN says George Cinclus
    THROUGH PARIS DAISIES he adds, imagining
    the nock of another girl on his doormat

    Another Girl sits opposite, nameless
    sketching precipice thumbnails on the frame of a skylight
    a fig leaf on her bare shoulder shows that she
    is Northern Division: “Collectors”, a diabolic
    federalised volume of cheerleader-assassins
    who don’t cut corners…

    With her sexboots and popularity
    white-faced, arctic heart
    she vapourizes George Cinclus
    like clubbing a bug
    and the digital afterglow of his noise tastes
    like butternut when she breathes
    thumbing a green whale brooch
    between her trembling fingers

    Seconds later the bulletin manifests
    direct from The Ranch itself – she can tell
    it’s Rubinstein by the sparrowhawk font
    craving petrochemical solutions to biosocial problems:
    ELECTROSHOCK THERAPY
    TAPEWORM EXPANSION
    TUPPERWARE SCANDALS

    – she’s worn it all before
    glazes out over the shimmering sunsplit rooftops
    of lifestyle and shudders
    fire drill shoegazers are yodelling in the streets below
    electric rays hang from her fingers
    as she picks up a cricket bat and leaps
    into space coolly prepared to batter
    anything that moves right out of existence.

  4. 3 – THE UPTOWN OWL-LIGHT EXPRESS

    Kolinksy sits immobile in the squall of the uptown owl-light express
    All around him schoolkids in pendragon face paint
    shriek and smudge
    He is seventy-five years old and a second class logjam of bones

    Facing him is the third of the Godwin girls
    – the cabinetmaker they call Cinderella
    She looks nothing like her two older sisters, except for
    the same hashish lapdancer hips
    seraphic nipples
    instant vanilla hairdo and
    gap-toothed reversed charge grin

    She peeks at the old man sitting opposite
    He looks like a honey pot loan shark
    a cardboard pop-up ripped from the back pages
    with an arabic skull

    Neither of these know-nothings are aware
    that they have been thrown together by the law of averages
    Outside elephant birds spiral through inevitable crescendos
    and fade-outs

    The Director (world famous kingpin Kamikaze Gubbins) patiently explains how
    in a millisecond the train gets blown from the tracks
    RITES OF PASSAGE he says
    and in the masked ball of the rehearsed wreckage
    as depicted in heroic verse
    dentists and coastguards will haul the bodies onto the boulevard

    Kolinsky and the cabinetmaker are placed side by side
    upon the lunacy of the pavement
    and remain there until daybreak when the ultraviolet flashflood flows
    mechanical skulls paddle furiously in camper vans
    harpoonists float by in astral washing machines
    and the bodies eventually wash up at the abandoned lighthouse in the sky
    to the sound of violas

    Kolinsky opens his office block eyes and coughs up the grog
    he wraps up the cabinetmaker in reams of broadsheet
    to keep her alive, and drags her hand over fist
    to the monoblock entrance
    and to even chances of survival

    AM I HALLUCINATING THIS? he asks himself in sudden unbearable
    recognition of his past, traceable only in old excersize books
    stashed in the catacombs

    IF YOU ARE THEN I AM TOO moans the cabinetmaker
    coming to and gently ripping through the news

    Kolinsky senses the turbo-syzygy between them and looks away
    as the primal tide laps at their toes

    THIS IS HOW ADVENTURES BEGIN he thinks, sinking
    down, down, down into his waterlogged shoes

  5. 4 – BEGINNING THE BALLAD OF PENELOPE TWINKLE

    Unplugged from the missionary position
    Penelope Twinkle pulls the satanic covers up around her chin
    and says softly I JUST DON’T GET IT
    NO
    ACTUALLY IT’S WORSE THAN THAT
    I DON’T EVEN LIKE IT

    Gubbins blows smoke fluff and grimaces
    WHY THE FUCK WOULD I CARE WHAT YOU THINK?

    Her tear-stained almond eyes don’t even flicker
    I MEAN ONE MINUTE THEY’RE ON THE PAVEMENT
    AND THE THEN THERE’S THIS FLOOD
    AND THEY GET WASHED UP AT SOME
    LIGHTHOUSE? RIGHT? she says

    Gubbins gets up, pulls on a t-shirt that says
    “Public Enemy #1”
    some bermuda shorts and goes to the window
    YOU’RE NOT A STOCKHOLDER he says
    YOU’RE A THIRD-CLASS FILM STUDENT
    CAUGHT WITH YOUR PANTS DOWN

    An alternative pause hangs in the space between them

    YOU THINK I SHOULD REDO IT? he asks her

    She nods, so prosaic and potent that he yawns
    OKAY
    HOW ABOUT THIS:

    It was a shotgun marriage
    Kolinsky and The Cabinetmaker
    happened in a third person narrative, town of Cockroach
    He was 75 and just as innocent and unintelligible as he was
    when we first saw him
    She was idealistic and transparently self-immolating
    A one-way ticket
    Of course the major league therapists caught wind of the
    aforementioned syzygy, rumours started circulating
    that old Kolinsky and his twenty-something bride
    were making skin-flicks, and well
    well that’s an anaphrodisiac if ever there was one
    Some started postulating it was black magic
    Conspiracy theorists were suddenly like kingmakers
    Their compartment on Nimbostratus Street got deconstructed
    by the secret service – you know what those fuckers are like –
    it was clumsy at best
    misdirection
    cloak and dagger tactics
    knuckle soup
    and before you know it old Kolinsky gets made to run
    a lap of honour in front of the Pepper Pot Palace
    he’s on his knees
    in a gas mask
    pretty fucking horrible stuff you dig?

    Meanwhile The Cabinetmaker’s umbilical chord gets cut
    [CENSORED]
    and her norks are all over the broadsheets
    some really saturnine sciagraphy
    what can she do?

    She learns to live with the bedbugs cross-country
    Goes to work on the tubular bells in some laundrette and
    at the weekend she’s a sugar-coated folk singer

    She forgets about the spectral Kolinsky
    and takes the bird’s eye view of things
    It’s poetic
    It’s stereoscopic

    THAT BETTER? asks Gubbins, petting his
    beloved rottweiler Skyrocket

    I GUESS says Penelope Twinkle

    WELL FUCK YOU ANYWAY
    I DECIDE says Gubbins, slipping into
    state of the art rollerskates
    DON’T YOU HAVE SOMEWHERE ELSE TO BE?

    The naked student oohs herself free
    from the complementary colour cobwebs
    She feels like a lumpfish as she scoops
    up her muu-muu dress in her arms and makes
    for the revolving door of the control tower
    She has a busy day ahead intends to throw
    herself efflorescently into it to forget about the terrible sex:

    1 a game of table tennis with an upbeat friend
    2 read some more of the wicked bible
    3 eat some scrambled egg
    4 write a letter to the seam bowler telling him
    she doesn’t love him
    anymore
    5 get bespangled
    6 track down this Kolinsky character before
    it is too late
    and everyone gets typecast

    Outside in the lobby her biological clock is ticking
    She glances up at the flag – Hammer and Tongs –
    painted on the universal ceiling and feels afraid
    The skeleton bellboy doesn’t even acknowledge her
    as she adjusts her unshrinkable halo
    and drives off on her motorcycle into the occurence

  6. 5 – THE ZUGZWANG MOUSETRAP

    Herb Qwerty and Nicot (Kid Gloves) are sitting
    in a bobsleigh outside Kolinsky’s appartment on
    Nimbostratus Street, playing the waiting game

    Herb is somewhere between a nervous wreck
    and a cross-eyed gnome, buried under days of trembling stubble
    and five-dimensional scattershot tubthumping
    A maple leaf barely visible beneath his carmine V-neck
    shows that he used to be West Division: a junior technician
    until a clerical error had him passed
    like a buck into night school
    and an imaginary study group on the bright side
    of all that there is.

    Gloves is a puppet of a partner –
    a choir-boy serial killer, all eyelashes and caffeine squirls
    a sycophantic lost cause, claustrophobic in his seat
    FUCK! he goos
    I MEAN HERB – HOW LONG ARE WE GOING TO JUST
    SIT HERE?

    Herb replies like an answering machine
    NOT LONG

    I’M GETTING DEPRESSED says Gloves

    [Contrary to what breakfast television would have you believe
    These guys are a big bang away from badass
    Herb with his little tin spactacles and epicycloid eyes
    Gloves in his hand me down parka, tights and boxing gloves]

    Finally the old man emerges from the rubble
    The epitomy of beatitude
    Faithlessly walking the plank of his life
    With diamante dust in his unfashionably short hair

    GET IN says Kid Gloves

    Kolinsky looks back at the wasteland of memories
    and then at the bobsleigh

    HURRY UP says Kid Gloves
    THIS PLACE WILL BE TERMINAL
    WITH THE PRESS AND FOOT SOLDIERS
    AND CACODEMONS IF YOU DON’T
    STOP GAWKING

    WHO ARE YOU? asks Kolinsky

    FRIENDS OF A FRIEND says Gloves
    NOW GET IN

    PHANTOMS? asks Kolinsky

    WISHFUL THINKING Herb tells him

    In the distance Mickey Mouse sirens sound
    Temporary calculations revolve on a pinwheel
    as the information filters through fibreglass fractals
    Press releases are already loaded into the continuum
    concerning Kolinsky’s psychodramatic demise

    The bobsleigh rockets one way then the other
    to Cumilonimbus Close, Gloves leaning back offering
    Kolinsky a blast of helium
    GOOD FOR MENTAL BLOCKS he pipes
    Kolinsky declines gradually objectifying
    what has just happened THEY JUST
    BLEW UP MY APPARTMENT he says

    WITH A HEAT-SEEKING MISSILE Gloves tells him
    FUCKING BLOODSUCKERS he adds with a grin

    The bobsleigh stops outside number 7
    and they make their way up to a tree-house
    in the back garden, via an oxygen beanstalk
    a puffin standing guard at the nut brown door
    PASSWORD! it croaks

    THERE IS NO PASSWORD says Herb

    PASSWORD ACCEPTED says the puffin

    BET YOU’VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THAT BEFORE
    says Kid Gloves as they duck inside

  7. 6 – HAPPY BANKING

    Kolinsky
    Herb
    Kid Gloves
    pass through the nut brown treehouse portal
    at the top of the wych elm
    and fade-in on the third floor of a call centre

    The sentinal-puffin flaps on a shoestring up ahead
    THIS WAY it woodnotes, and they follow
    Kolinsky
    bewildered
    drowning in cloud-land

    On the wall to his right in big orange letters are the words

    HAPPY BANKING

    the phosphorescent elbows of the colour
    impacts on everything it touches
    Kolinksy shakes the bubblegum from his head
    sales girls murmuring
    HAPPY BANKING
    HAPPY BANKING
    HAPPY BANKING
    HAPPY BANKING
    HAPPY BANKING
    as the bird arcs into an elevator
    and they step inside

    Behind them the trumpet major blows
    a note from under his handlebar moustache
    Four o’clock
    Perhaps another barbaric sale
    THESE PLACES GIVE ME SUNSTROKE
    says Kid Gloves, singing Hail Mary ever so quietly
    as the elevator descends

    WHAT ABOUT THE PUFFIN? asks Kolinsky
    CAN’T ANYONE SEE THE PUFFIN?

    NAUTILUS? HE’S WHAT WE CALL
    A “BLOCKBUSTER HALLUCINATION” says Herb
    ANYONE ON OUR SIDE OF THE PHOTO
    FINISH CAN SEE HIM
    ESSENTIALLY THOUGH HE DOESN’T EXIST

    The lift zizzes open and some theme song plays
    Nautilus flaps down the corridor and lands outside a door
    Herb motions for Kolinsky to go inside

    A schoolboy sits behind a white collar desk
    drinking orangeade
    he motions for Kolinksy to sit opposite him

    I’M SOLOMON the boy says
    AND YOU ARE KOLINSKY

    YES says the old man
    feeling like a Punchinello

    THERE IS NO THYME TO EDUCATE YOU says the boy
    Kolinsky can smell the kid’s bad breath
    and meekly looks away from the jet black eyes
    BUT I’LL GIVE YOU THE CANNED HYPERCRITICAL VERSION
    AND IF YOU’RE NOT THE DIPSHIT I THINK YOU ARE
    THEN WE MIGHT JUST STAND A FIGHTING CHANCE
    He throws an excersize book on the table
    RECOGNISE THIS?

    YES says Kolinsky
    HOW DID?

    YOU WROTE IT? asks Solomon

    UNFORTUNATELY YES says Kolinsky

    YOU ARE A PRECOG
    A TIME TRAVELLER
    A METHOD ACTOR
    A DEEP SPACE HOBGOBLIN
    YOU’RE THE SHOW STOPPER, RIGHT?

    I DON’T KNOW WHAT –

    YOU’RE THE UNDERDOG
    TELAESTHETIC
    A KNIGHT ERRANT IN THE RIGHTEOUS DAYS OF LSD

    I WAS SCHIZOID says Kolinsky, finally
    THEY DIAGNOSED ME SCHIZOID
    THAT STUFF I
    IT’S JUST A LOAD OF SHIT

    Solomon smiles at the top of an invisible diving board
    WELL THIS LOAD OF SHIT
    HAS BEEN OF INCALCULABLE VALUE TO US
    BOOKWORMS AND GECKOS AND UNDERGROUND
    STUDY GROUPS HAVE SECRETLY BEEN DECYPHERING
    IT EVER SINCE IT WAS FOUND IN THE CATACOMBS

    But Kolinsky doesn’t hear him

    Dandelions collide overhead
    Vermin dance at the ringside
    Wormholes and umbrellas grow on trees
    The Velociraptor in a ten-gallon-hat
    Rips him from the bathwater
    and stuffs him in a concrete mixer
    Revolving he sees forked lightning behind his eyes
    Meteoric illumination
    Babbling in the mother tongue
    Going backwards
    Clouds of skunk
    Clinging to the fin of a giant sperm whale
    Symphonic through primordial soup

    He opens his eyes to the desert island
    Not a sound
    The ocean is azure snakeskin
    The sun a popsicle hanging in space
    And the guerrilla inside him is born
    or re-born
    In vibraphone skirls he begins
    to remember everything again

  8. 7 – SHUBUNKINS

    The Daydream Generation was a kooky little smokescreen
    for my real vendetta: namely, directing a sisterhood splinter group
    of lazyboned overachievers, part-time senhoritas
    and tie-dye tin soldiers on a painting by numbers revolution
    that above all else involved us not getting caught

    Some right-wing think-tank called us
    “SHUBUNKINS” after some autobiographically psychotic
    incident involving an Afghani all-night billionaire, an astral harpoon
    and an influential if highly unfortunate fish
    anyhow our unit
    consisted of the following:

    Juliet Wah-Wah
    Intergalactic Goldilocks
    Right On! Magdalena
    Modular Madonna
    and me

    I cannot lie
    In the beginning we were no part-time carpenter ants
    The girls were corvine and repetitively anonymous
    I was like an immobilised sperm whale
    gasping on the pavement at daybreak
    But in time we learned to strut
    Assasination orders
    Near death experiences
    Straight republican flushes

    Juliet killed reality playing pagan paintball
    Goldilocks explored the inner space of the salon
    Magdalena did her own thing splicing
    latex and ventriloquism
    and Madonna ate glaciated raspberries

    I sat up into the collision tapping
    bright music in deep space
    sat in the rocking chair behind
    the poetic absolute of a gas mask

    I took the name KEF

    We were tumbledown and out of pocket
    but in spite of that
    and the fact that the big top just kept getting bigger
    it was an educated flight plan
    with a second wind behind it

    THE BIGGER THE BIG TOP GETS
    THE BIGGER THE BIG TOP BREAKS said Juliet
    sipping dandelion juice at the dolphinarium
    a bird’s eye view of the ceremony
    they were all there in the opalescent water

    The Commander In Chief
    Friar Tuck
    The Secretary Of State
    The 4 Heads Of Division
    The Puppet Billionaires
    The Minotaur
    and
    Queen Rabbit

    I would have strapped a barmaid to my back
    and dived in if it wasn’t just an optical negative imprint designed
    to cover the transient angles of hero-worship
    and keep the grains of majority rule growing over

    WHAT DO YOU RECKON KEF?
    LENIN EXPLODING UNDERFOOT? asks Juliet

    The dolphins escape behind us as we walk
    arm in arm across the whiteboards
    two-faced and twin-engined
    then rapidly in opposite unwitnessed directions

    lifelike dolphin’s pistons expand and contract
    and the medico he stands there
    looking down at the biological pavement
    while lifelike dolphin’s pistons expand and contract

  9. 8 -KEF’S CASSETTE # 318008

    Friar Tuck pads in Coney Island flip-flops to his penthouse throne
    while Huckleberry Finn plays the mandolin in the immaculate kitchen
    I ASSUME YOU HAVE SOME STUNNING NEWS FOR ME he drools

    Bedlington and Rickenbacker speak from off-stage in jugulating prophetic drawls
    WE HAVE INFILTRATED AND VAPORISED THE SHUBUNKINS says Bedlington
    ITS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE A GRAND STAND FINISH says Rickenbacker

    GOOD says Tuck, twinkling with sweat chimes
    absent-mindedly poking Kentucky wonder beans into his mouth
    WHAT ABOUT THE BOY SCOUT?

    SOLOMON IS UNDERSEA WITH HIS STEPFAMILY says Bedlington
    HE’S FUCKED says Rickenbacker
    COMPLETELY agrees Bedlington
    WE’LL HAVE HIM IN THE BOOK OF AGONY BY SUNRISE says Rickenbacker

    WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE BODIES? asks Tuck

    STUFFED says Bedlington
    DONATED TO THE PARADIGM ART MOVEMENT IN MOSCOW says Rickenbacker

    The squaw
    in pigtails and suspenders
    enters and ghosts across the red carpet like a falcon
    she places the cassette
    marked “KALEIDONAUT: 5318008”
    into the player and presses the “PANDEMONIUM” button

    Kef’s voice (upstream and turbulent):

    SPOKE TO BILL WHITE
    THEY ARE ALL DEAD
    KODIAK BEAR
    THE BEAR CUB
    SHUBUNKINS
    THE DOLDRUMS
    CLITORIS BLOCH
    IF YOU CAN HEAR ME
    THEY’VE SYNCHRONIZED VIDEO DIARIES
    NEANDERTHAL GHOSTWRITERS KICKING OPEN OUR COMBINATION LOCKS
    IT’S AN INSIDE FIASCO
    THE SEROTONIN SHEIK ARRIVES TOMORROW WITH A TAKEOVER BID
    THE TORIES CANNOT REFUSE
    STORM CLOUDS ARE GATHERING
    A TERRIBLE TWOSOME THAT GO BY THE NAME OF
    BEDLINGTON AND RICKENBACKER – PRIMAL NIMRODS
    TRANSYLVANIAN COBRAS
    SEXUALLY PERVERSE
    WITH MENTHOLATED EROGENOUS TORCHLIGHT SPANKING
    CHANGE SHAPE LIKE SCARECROWS
    MUST
    THIS IS MY LAST CASSETTE
    NOWHERE IS SAFE ANYMORE EVEN FOR KOLINSKY
    WE MUST FIND HIM BEFORE THEY DO
    SCOTLAND POSSIBLY
    THE BAHAMAS
    MOSCOW
    I DON’T KNOW

    The cassette sputters and unwinds fluting spools of tape into the air
    and the squaw scrabbles around on her hands and knees
    scooping it up in her skinny arms
    LEAVE IT barks Tuck, WE’VE HEARD ENOUGH

    She nods and vanishes like an hour hand

    THIS KEF… says Tuck

    HE WON’T GET FAR insists Bedlington
    WE THINK HE MAY EVEN BE A PHANTOM adds Rickenbacker

    EITHER WAY says Tuck
    CALL ANOTHER GIRL
    SHE’LL TAKE CARE OF HIM

  10. 9 – THE REBIRTH OF ANDY WARHOL

    I must have made that train journey a couple of thousand times over two years and nothing
    I mean really NOTHING AT ALL of any interest had ever happened to me
    Sometimes I closed my eyes and floated on the periphery of sleep
    but mostly I put my knees up on the seat in front and wrote
    and I was like that, knees up, writing when she sat down beside me
    The train was filling up with commuters and I glanced at her
    was shocked to see she was wearing a blindfold
    so I looked at her again – mousy hair and zestless clothes
    early-twenties perhaps

    WHAT ARE YOU WRITING? she asked me in a spectrum of accents

    I paused – how did she know I was writing?

    SO YOU’RE GIVING ME THE SILENT TREATMENT – she laughed quietly

    I’M SORRY I stammered, I THINK YOU’VE GOT THE WRONG PERSON

    She smiled a blistering smile
    WHAT’S YOUR NAME?

    My immediate inclination was to lie but I paused again
    BILL WHITE I said

    The smile continued to tick away on her face
    WELL BILL WHITE, WHERE ARE YOU GOING? she asked me

    I felt increasingly uncomfortable, particularly as the morning carriage was muddily silent
    ergonomic ears pricked up like lions
    TO WORK I whispered

    WHERE ABOUT? she whispered back

    I WORK FOR THE HAPPY BANK I told her, IN A CALL CENTRE

    IS THAT NOT WOMEN’S WORK? she asked me
    and then SO WHAT ARE YOU WRITING?

    ERM… JUST STUFF

    POETRY?

    KIND OF I said

    She lifted the blindfold and peeked down at the exercise book in my lap, pen paused over it, then reached across a palesugarclaw and flipped the pages to the inside cover – “ZUGZWANG MOUSETRAP” she read aloud, THAT’S A CURIOUS TITLE

    I stamped it shut on her retreating fingers and she giggled
    She was looking right at me now with her modest paintbox eyes – I had the sudden horrible feeling that I’d seen her somewhere before
    WHAT’S WITH THE SCRAP PIECES OF PAPER? she asked me

    OH I said, THAT’S JUST WORDS – I USE THEM TO WRITE
    I CHOOSE THE WORDS FIRST THEN I PUT THEM TOGETHER
    TO BUILD THE STORY, IT MAKES
    THESE LIKE JIGSAWS
    FROM DIFFERENT PUZZLES
    PIECES THAT SHOULDN’T GO TOGETHER
    SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO HIT THEM REALLY HARD
    TO MAKE THEM STICK…

    She stood up and beckoned me to follow her with a delphicfinger
    and I don’t know why I did
    but I did
    down the everlasting corridor
    disengaged from the pantomime of being
    and went in through the toilet door after her

    I found myself in the sky of a department store
    wearing a tea cozy on my head while a snowstorm raged around us
    WHAT’S THE MATTER BILL WHITE? she yelled through the spiralling spectrum of flakes

    WHAT HAPPENED?
    TO THE TRAIN?
    I yelled back

    Ravi Shankar was playing somewhere behind me
    an audio track that sounded like it had been recorded into a dictaphone

    WHAT TRAIN?

    YOU WERE WEARING A BLINDFOLD? I shout at her – she looks mosaic in the smog
    but her eyes are crystal clear, like some snowcat

    WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?
    THAT WAS LIGHT YEARS AGO BILL WHITE she shouts back
    NOW GET YOUR BIG TOE MOVING
    DO YOU WANT TO SEE ANDY WARHOL OR NOT?

    A fan club of madcaps have gathered
    at the farside of the compound
    analysts and accountants wearing canary yellow and purple tarantula capes
    some predestined blowby of giftwrapped idiocy
    she blubbers like a ghoul at the sight of the mammoth’s bumhole squeaking open
    and the giant chocolate egg falling out

    Is this consumerism?
    Freaking out in silkworm sunhats
    A troglodyte rides by on the back of an ultraminiature huskie
    waving a brain cell
    and Scandinavian passengers have the last laugh drumming Bank of Poe
    on our skulls until we’re so stoned we’ll buy into anything

    The egg bursts open and Warhol falls out
    albinal and malfunctioning, covered in brown shitty goo
    the shoppers lap it up
    take photographs and fire handguns while he
    resonates spontaneously screaming

  11. 10 – BREAKFAST FOR ALL THE WORLD

    *Dreamer’s Note

    I would just like to take a split second out of this convoluted page-grinder
    to thank you for the statistical backscratching and cylinder head support
    Although words reverberate in slo-mo and ultimately degenerate
    as the firepower darkens, I grasp this periscope in my fictional hands
    and sing you an alchemical song struggling to hit the high notes

    I feel a little seasick and stagger to the piano
    where Bedlington and Rickenbacker have nailed
    poor Nautilus to the face above the monochrome keys

    Our crew is even more whimsical than me, gnashing teeth
    and kicking off absurd chain-mails waiting for a sign
    The last of our elastic maps that blew away
    suggested we were hugging the coast a fifteenth of a mile from
    the Bay of Stockhausen, floating irresponsibly
    through waxy swarming seas

    From time to time Calvin
    jumps up from his finger puppets and shouts sidesplitting zaps
    re INDEPENDENT VARIABLES

    Elsewhere Louis and Molly Hemingway draw diagram circuit
    loops on a conch shell that I find intimidating and actually absurd

    In fact, the more I think about it
    the behaviour of everyone is a concern and
    none more so than Cortes the picador
    who has built himself an obstacle course from sea cabbage
    and spinning wheels

    By the light of the moon we eat
    turtlehead and garlic marshmallow stew
    gives you terrible bellyache
    but at least it is something

    Anyway
    I thought I would tell you that before things really get strange
    Solarized documents are in the post
    We roll an armchair into the centre of the ring
    The Mountain thumbs through a magazine
    stops at a picture of an old man and young woman ice-skating
    alternating between pocketfuls of identity

    At daybreak the unnumbered will come for us
    with lotus flower eyes
    on the backs of logarithmic spiders sniffing at the cinnamon dust
    of the sea

    I look down at the marijuana leaf printed on the underside
    of my arm – shows that I was once South Division
    brawling high school utopists and unicycling housewives

    Yours sincerely

    Captain Kef

  12. 11 – PEPPERMINT KALASHNIKOV

    Let’s just hulahoop back through time for a moment:…

    The Mardi was an abandoned featherweight ship of the empire
    oomphless and almost a couple of thousand Norwegian bookcases

    In the immediate aftermath of the Jumping Jack Massacre
    I dovetailed up with Ragtail and Bobtag
    two transient action painting hooligans
    immersed in dissonant colours

    indigos

    fierce cobalts

    caramel

    we cartooned like crepuscular tomahawk foxes by lantern light
    and diurnally donned absinthe-heavy duffel bags
    bopped with a spuming rotten tourist flock
    up the coast
    such subterranean stunts they explained
    were NOT AN EXACT SCIENCE
    actualizing asteroid tear glands on monocracy shrines
    in between channels

    How and why The Cuban found me is a mystery even to me

    He stopped me at St Stephen’s crypt
    while Bobtag frosted mayhem blueprints
    and Ragtail ghosted like a pond skater in a hurricane of trumpets

    The Cuban was an endangered species
    a battle-scarred Communist from back when
    Communism was Communism and not the hijacked
    bastard monocracy it is today
    and into the bargain
    he is a frightening cardiovascular storm cloud
    all cigar smoke and baritone machete verve
    tells me about an imaginary ship called The Mardi
    about how Bedlington and Rickenbacker
    howled them down there with pocket razors
    and tundra ripsaws said
    he somehow escaped but not before he saw
    them nailing Nautilus to the piano

    I THOUGHT IT WAS CHECKMATE he confessed

    We spike through tempos
    electrified jabbering
    to the coast

    The Cuban has assembled a makeshift crew
    of local delinquents:

    Calvin
    Molly Hemingway
    Louis Hemingway
    and Cortes

    The four of them are waiting
    drunk and high as kites in the silver undergrowth

    We dog-paddle
    through the ice
    disconnect the undulating anchor
    of the ghost ship
    and float into the future

    YOU CAN BE CAPTAIN
    KEF
    says The Cuban
    tossing his penultimate cigar into the scurf
    and climbing up to the toadstool crow’s nest where
    he has been ever since

    72 hours and counting

  13. 12 – THE EVERLASTING PEA

    GRETEL! LAURELIA! HASHANAH!

    The sisters sit like waxworks waiting
    to see who makes the first move

    Hashanah, the youngest
    unplugs herself from the television – a cartoon
    about “The Everlasting Pea”

    Zola, the family mudcat pads through to the dining room
    and the three girls follow
    biological clocks blasting off
    as they take their places at the sky blue table

    A pressure cooker slams and moments later
    Norma Godwin, the mother appears
    a quite unremarkable bottle-nosed monolith
    of a woman
    she carries a fantastic illusion of dishes
    puffin in burger buns
    silverfin marrow and
    scorpio tusk
    her black is dress billowing

    OH! she gushes
    I ALMOST FORGOT THE AARDWOLF
    returns from the kitchen with an unstrung carcass
    peppered with fireflies
    and crashes it down at the centre of the table
    registers 1.1 on the Richter scale
    WELL she says

    A paranoid silence shrouds the four
    All that is audible is the clack
    and groan of forks pushing
    food around plates and the sip
    of absinthe

    Hashanah watches a family portrait that hangs on
    the wall behind her oldest sister Gretel’s head
    Her own face has been blacked out with a thumbnail
    of masking tape
    and her father’s face smiles back at her
    “The Great Architect of Moral Warfare”
    fresh in the ground
    that afternoon

    I’M GLAD YOU COULD ALL MAKE IT says Norma finally
    I THINK IT’S WHAT YOUR FATHER WOULD HAVE WANTED
    FOR YOU ALL TO COME HOME AND
    WELL
    IT’S BEEN TEN YEARS

    ELEVEN says Gretel

    NEARLY ELEVEN YEARS says Norma

    Zola’s teeth grind beneath the table
    and the silence kicks in again

    Now and then you sense a shift of parameters
    A soundless anthem that plays beyond knowledge
    while the girls drink from golden mass-produced grails

    The inevitable
    and all too familair political pop quiz kicks out
    Gretel hostile
    slow handclaps their father
    Opposite her
    Laurelia is anxiously thumbing
    a green whale broach that hangs around her neck
    suddenly

    hysterically leaps across the table and
    swings at her sister with a cricket bat missing
    sending junk food flying

    The two sisters are wailing
    and punching each other
    the mother superhigh on plumweed
    instinctively yells across the room
    HOW IS YOUR FIGURE SKATING GOING HASHANAH?

    I’LL FUCKING KIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLL YOU! screams Laurelia

    I HAD TO GIVE IT UP says Hashanah

    WHAT? yells the mother

    A shotgun is fired
    Smashes some plaster on the wall

    I SAID I HAD TO GIVE IT UP shouts Hashanah
    EVER SINCE THEY DEPORTED ME
    I’M –

    Gretel has the middle sister on her knees in a half-nelson
    and like clockwork is pom-pomming the brilliance of
    genuine state socialism

    I’M WORKING IN A LAUNDRETTE AND
    CONCENTRATING ON MY CABINETS
    THERE’S A GREAT OPPORTUNITY
    TO MAKE A COUPLE OF THOUSAND
    NORWEGIAN BOOKCASES –
    I’M THINKING IT OVER

    Norma Godwin grins with shame
    her plump face is the tip of an iceberg of
    chronicles of terror that bake in her boots

    GOD BLESS CLACK GODWIN! she howls
    standing up and ripping open her widow’s gown revealing
    a helix of bombpods strapped to her breasts
    wires jammed within the rolls of naked flesh
    lifts the diamond of her wedding ring
    and presses the blinking red button beneath

    Another silence of something before the explosion

    And then everything goes white

  14. 13 – GORILLA GORILLA

    Between you and me
    gorilla gorilla is an abstract trigger
    imprinted data/originally suffused within
    the sovietized shipping news

    Upon receiving it
    the xylophonist emerges from the lunar bathtub
    and grabs his skis:
    the trigger is goofproof

    And so my dear Sheik
    please proofread this fiercely scrambled world of ours
    from your homocopter windows as we slingshot
    across The Mountain
    man made rising from the Spoking Sea
    the tapoon ring to the polar tip
    grain by grain of cultural stunts –
    baseball crossed with carol singing
    dry cleaning tokens fused to peace offering bones

    Look closely and you will see
    the railroad engineer is waiting while
    Lachesis spins the bottle
    or boffins paralytic incoherently squeak stuff
    concerning tarantula carnivals
    and honeybees flirting on the internet
    with tyrannical desk clerks submissive and
    sexually repressed by the shadowy subterranean
    hum of the desolate resonator shuffle Rubik’s cubes
    and wave ribbons of discarded season tickets
    to Gubbins’ video diary…
    …the red carpet
    rolls out beneath
    your insanely happy steps
    my dear

    ___________________

    Down the demagogic corridors they go
    McAdoo struts in front of the bandwagon
    a number-drudge with chilling enthusiasm
    for his day job
    behind him the Sheik and a commotion of
    buck-toothed assistants profluently jolting
    at the marvel of everything they can see
    and everything they can see screams:

    ‘THIS IS WHERE IT’S AT!’

    A heavily edited noticeboard on the wall behind McAdoo
    reads VIBRATOR FOR SALE – he spurts and spits
    as they survey a hall of instrumental columnists
    roaring and attacking old iron typewriters
    with flashing claw hammers
    At the far end of the room paramedics
    urgently attend to a bleeding Bugwig Knudsen
    the esteemed literary critic who
    in error
    has been smashed in the face

    No stone is left unturned for the visiting party
    They watch agog
    while zebras devour bloody red rhinos ignoring
    malleable shareholders who play musical chairs
    as their nubile young secretaries twist all around them
    in marigolds

    The Sheik is particularly impressed looking in
    to look out at a young man defying gravity
    hangs suspended above a mosaic molehill
    and when he looks closer he sees both the man
    and the molehill are made from random pieces
    of jigsaw puzzles, colours and shapes forced together
    and Barretesque spectators record their shifting
    impressions onto giant sheets of drug blotter

    GORILLA GORILLA IS THE MOST COMPLETE
    AND CONTAGIOUS VIRUS YOU CAN PURCHASE
    ON THE GLOBAL MARKET MY DEAR enthuses McAdoo
    AS YOU CAN SEE – OUR GOVERNMENT HAVE
    NORMALISED WITHIN A MATTER OF MONTHS
    THE COUNTRY OF COURSE IRREVOCABLY CONTAMINATED
    THUS THE VALUE OF GORILLA GORILLA
    TO ANY ASPIRING DESPOT IS…
    ALMOST PRICELESS

    Kobus Kob (Chief Counsel to the Sheik)
    puts his mangled black fingertips together
    WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR IT? he asks

    McAdoo’s blighted ego fractionally manifests
    as a white shark, pupils dilating WE HAVE A –
    SITUATION he says
    A MAN TO BE EXACT, GOES BY THE NAME
    “KOLINSKY”… WE – AHEM, WE BELIEVE
    THIS MAN IS THE ORIGIN OF THE VIRUS.
    TROUBLE IS, THAT HE SEEMS TO HAVE
    AHEM… VANISHED. AND AS YOU CAN IMAGINE
    MY DEAR, A VANISHING ANTIDOTE COULD
    QUITE EASILY WALK INTO THE WRONG HANDS.
    FAR FROM IDEAL FOR US… AND OF COURSE
    FROM ANY POTENTIAL BUYER’S PERSPECTIVE

    The entire congregation looks sunwards as
    rhythmic kilobytes of homocopter hums by –
    at the wheel are Edwin Pussy and Dillman Sunday
    the be-in specialists, chasing a team of bipolar pixies
    TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH! (cries Sunday)

    WE FIND KOLINSKY AND ASSASSINATE HIM
    IN RETURN FOR GORILLA GORILLA says Kob

    McAdoo flushed with the power of the deal
    and the Sheik nod their heads
    Kob claps his hands

    Like clockwork the Sundial Assassins appear
    in the dark cloud of skin
    their diamond teeth and voicelessness makes them seem
    ominously inhuman

    On the horizon a blink
    of bronze suggests
    that Pussy and Sunday
    have crashed into the sea

  15. 14 ONE MILLION OMS

    Meanwhile
    In dazzling starlight
    Calvin and Cortes lean on the wooden rail watching

    Myopic Cortes frantic with laughing gas
    demands to know what is happening

    SHHH says Calvin, desperately trying to lip read

    Across the aquamarine sea
    On the space age sand of an imagined island
    Two men stand like sitting ducks

    A falling star whizzes overhead
    and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea plays
    The stage manager smiles as steam powered lights
    pinpoint the figure in the toadstool crow’s nest tying
    a white flag to the mast

    Calvin takes a shot of halothene

    FUCK!
    Cortes fidgets in a vacuum
    WHAT’S HAPPENING MAN?
    Takes the bottle back from Calvin and
    takes a shot himself

    As the medication races through his transparent veins
    Calvin begins to decontextualise the situation
    THIS WAS NO ACCIDENT he blows
    IT’S LIKE IT’S BEEN SCRIPTED OR SOMETHING

    How did he even get on this ship that droned
    for patchwork days until it came to this?
    The island

    The humanoid sitting cross-legged on the sand
    like he was waiting
    like he knew what happened next

    They’d watched as Kef had jumped into the water
    and swam to the shore SHIT
    NO

    WHAT IS IT CALVIN?

    THEY… THAT CAN’T BE POSSIBLE

    WHAT?

    IT IS POSSIBLE says The Cuban
    coming up behind them
    THEY ARE AFTER ALL THE SAME PERSON
    lighting a cigar

    HE
    THEY
    SORT OF
    STEPPED INTO EACH OTHER AND
    AFTERWARDS ONLY KEF WAS LEFT
    says Calvin to Cortes

    FUCK OFF says Cortes
    taking another shot
    and the steam-powered lights fade-out
    to muted applause

  16. 15 – THE DEATH OF KAMIKAZE GUBBINS AND WILLOW WALKER

    AND NOW YOUNG OFFENDERS
    THE UNIVERSITY OF LOVE’S PROPAGANDA DEPARTMENT
    IS BOWLED-OVER TO INTRODUCE
    THE ONE AND ONLY
    NOBEL-PRIZE WINNING ONANIST
    THAT IS KAMIKAZE GUBBINS

    A great black backdrop reads Nil Desperandum
    and Gubbins enters stage-right
    wearing only Y-fronts
    weeping crocodile tears

    A ripple of handclaps chases through the auditorium
    until the guest speaker raises a hand, head bowed

    FIRST THING’S FIRST he spits
    WE ARE ALL VOYEURS
    AND THE SUN IS BUT A BIG RED LIGHT
    BLINKING
    ABOVE THE BUBONIC AVENUES OF THE WORLD

    A kid wearing a pumpkin hat in the front row sniggers
    high on Mexican hippocampi juice
    Gubbins silences him with a trigger-happy glare

    The kid’s girlfriend dressed like a tooth fairy shits herself
    and is led away by the mother superior sobbing
    in soiled pink tights
    I DON’T EVEN LIKE HER! shouts the pumpkin hatted kid
    and Gubbins continues

    MY NEW FILM “ZUGZWANG MOUSETRAP” IS LIKE NOTHING
    YOU HAVE EVER SEEN BEFORE – FORGET THE EARLIER
    SCREWBALL ROMANCE FLICKS THAT I AM OF COURSE
    FAMOUS FOR – THIS IS A MOVIE THAT WILL HAVE
    AUDIENCES WRECKING THE TICKET OFFICE AFTERWARDS
    THE REINVENTION OF THE PANTOMIME A PATCHWORK
    MONTAGE OF OH FUCK IT
    WILLOW!
    WILLOW!
    WILLOW COME AND GET ME I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE
    I THINK I’M HAVING SOME KIND OF NERVOUS BREAKDOWN
    THE FILM SUCKS
    I KNOW IT
    THE KIDS KNOW IT
    FUCK EVEN YOU KNOW IT AND YOU’RE JUST TOO FUCKING
    … YOU’RE TOO FUCKING SO-SO
    TO EVEN TELL ME
    He winces in pain
    TENNIS ELBOW he grimaces
    IT’S FUCKING KILLING ME

    A weird little woman scurries out stage right and goes for the jugular
    but Gubbins attempts to sidestep her and they end up falling over
    landing in the missionary position the kid with the pumpkin hat and
    girlfriend who shat herself slides out of his seat with laughter and
    someone else wolf-whistles the kids are all laughing everyone is
    laughing
    except for the two men in the stalls invisible in the shadows

    HE’S LOST IT says the first

    YES says the second

    WE SHOULD TAKE HIM OUT NOW says the first

    MAKES SENSE agrees the second BEFORE IT GETS WORSE

    They raise their rifles in unison and start firing

    The bullets puncture Gubbins and the weird little woman
    in the middle of the stage and they look like
    bloody rag dolls fucking

    A vapour trail of screaming goes up
    It will be the cover story on all the broadsheets
    the morning after the night before

  17. 16 – AN URGENT CALL FROM THE ZEBRA FLOWER COMPANY

    Sibyl picks up line #1 chewing white-knuckled flavoured gum:
    HELLO?

    A man’s voice asks IS KEF THERE?

    NO HE’S OUT drawls Sibyl
    WHO IS THIS?
    (she reaches for some paracetamol
    and checks her blind spot)

    HOLY JONES says the voice
    I NEED TO SPEAK TO HIM URGENTLY
    ABOUT THE FILM

    WELL I’M SORRY, HE’S STILL OUT says Sibyl
    examining the leptodactyl fingers on her left hand
    She opens a desk drawer
    where an imp is hibernating
    and reaching in touches
    the tip of the iceberg to makes sure it is still there
    (it is)

    CAN YOU TELL ME WHERE HE IS? asks the voice

    HANG ON says Sibyl, picking up line #2
    HELLO?

    NIRVANA HAS A VACANCY:
    EDEN GARDENS LUXURY DEVELOPMENT IS PLEASED TO –

    She disconnects the automated message and goes back to line #1
    NO she says
    I COULD HAZARD A GUESS
    BUT THAT’S ALL IT WOULD BE

    IT REALLY IS OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE

    WHATEVER she says
    HOLD AGAIN PLEASE
    Spins in her seat past the tank of piranhas
    THIS IS TURNING INTO A FUCKING WITCH HUNT
    she mutters under her breath

    KEF she calls

    YEAH? responds a voice from two rooms back

    THAT’S SOME GUY CALLING HIMSELF HOLY JONES
    ON THE PHONE, SAYS HE URGENTLY NEEDS TO SPEAK TO YOU

    WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

    HANG ON
    she freewheels back to the desk
    HI, WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

    IT’S ABOUT GUBBINS I’M AFRAID
    HE WAS SHOT THIS AFTERNOON
    I’M CALLING FROM THE ZEBRA FLOWER COMPANY
    WE
    NEED TO KNOW WHERE WE STAND
    REGARDING OUR INVESTMENT, WILL –

    HOLD ON PLEASE
    She picks up line #2 again

    SIBYL? (It’s her mother)

    OH, HEY MUM

    WILL YOU REMEMBER AND GET ME SOME TREACLE
    ON YOUR WAY HOME TONIGHT?

    MUM, YOU ALREADY ASKED ME THAT…

    I WANTED TO ASK YOU AGAIN
    I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE LIKE
    ALWAYS WITH THE FORGETTING

    AW MUM, I WROTE IT DOWN she protests
    picking up a biro and trying to write “Treacle” on the back of her hand
    but the pen doesn’t work

    ARE YOU WATCHING NOAH’S ARK TONIGHT? asks Sibyl’s mum

    Line #3 is now blinking blue as well

    MUM, I CAN’T TALK I’M WORKING says Sibyl
    BUT YEAH I’M WATCHING NOAH’S ARK TONIGHT
    OKAY I LOVE YOU MUM, I’LL SEE YOU LATER

    REMEMBER THE TREACLE

    HELLO?

    HI
    AS I WAS SAYING says the voice

    (wrong line) SORRY, HOLD PLEASE
    KEF! THE PHONE’S PLAYING UP AGAIN she shouts
    On her computer screen a cartoon dragonfly is windsurfing
    and a snake charmer swims with a shark’s fin strapped to his back
    Sibyl picks up the right line

    HELLO?

    AT THE KORADJI COMPANY WE PUT SAFE SEX FIRST
    AND INFINITE PLEASURE SECOND
    OUR RANGE OF STUNNING DILDOS ARE GUARANTEED
    TO DELIGHT EVEN THE MOST TRAUMA-

    She rolls back past the fish tank flicking
    the coffee machine on as she goes
    ARE YOU WANTING A COFFEE KEF? she shouts

    ONLY IF YOU’RE HAVING ONE shouts the voice back
    WHAT WAS THE CALL ABOUT?

    DILDOS… she says

    OH

    She wheels back to the desk while the machine heats up
    All five of the line lights are blinking so she pulls the plug
    On the computer screen the dragonfly is snowboarding
    and the snake charmer is having a seizure in the snow

    She closes the drawer where the imp is still fast asleep
    and reaches for her packed lunch box sticks her gum
    beneath the desk and takes out a dead grasshopper
    Ripping its head off and spitting it into the wastepaper basket
    she remembers she needs to call Edwin about Wednesday’s be-in
    she’s got some ideas about spreadsheets and meat-models
    she thinks he might like

  18. 17 – BUTTERFLY ON A WHEEL

    The city had never seen anything like it before
    All four of the government divisions battling in the streets
    waving graphic flags and dodging bullets
    bloodthirstily hobnobbing and kneecapping anything
    that looked out of place

    At the heart of this sudden lunacy was the subjective belief
    that the world was imminently going to end –
    a rumour started by one Smithy the beach bum
    who was later blugeoned to death with squirt guns
    on railway tracks that ran around the village of Unh

    It seemed almost incredible that such a throwaway joke
    could cause the complete meltdown of society
    but poor Smithy may as well have flicked one of his
    filterless cigarettes into a powder keg on Moneybag Row

    Wafer-thin, stuck-up Sofi Cismontane
    broke the news to Rubinstein
    sitting smoking weed in his penthouse, scoffing hickory nuts
    while a pockmarked advertising executive applies
    exotic ointment to his interchangeable lower limbs:

    SIR
    A TERRIBLE
    A TRULY AWFUL THING HAS
    IS HAPPENING
    she cries
    out of breath
    hands on knees

    At the sound of her see-sawing voice
    Friar Tuck rolls through from the back bedroom
    licking mustard from the tips of his fingers
    behind him Huckleberry Finn plays a glockenspiel
    and the squaw is nowhere to be seen

    Frog-eyed, Rubinstein doesn’t even look up

    Sofi turns to Tuck
    MR TUCK! A TERRIBLE THING… THE QUEEN –
    she bends over and throws up into her cupped hands

    OH HOW GHASTLY! cries Tuck

    IF SHE DOESN’T START MAKING SENSE I’M GOING TO SHOOT HER
    Rubinstein tells Tuck unconsciously, adding I TOLD YOU SHE COULDN’T
    STOMACH A POSITION IN GOVERNMENT for good measure

    (this technically is not true
    in fact Rubinstein was forced to give her a junior ministerial position
    after losing a game of rabies to her father Zhuang and had later insisted to Tuck
    that he had deliberately double-crossed the former Minister of Change
    and lost the game on purpose)

    Tuck slaps the vomitting girl around the jaw and screeches
    PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER FOR GOODNESS SAKE –
    YOUR FATHER WOULD BE MORTIFIED IF HE COULD SEE YOU

    S-SORRY she sniffles
    BUT ITS THE QUEEN
    THEY –
    I CAN’T EVEN SAY WHAT THEY DID TO HER
    IT’S… THEY’RE RIOTING
    THE NEWS SAYS THOUSANDS ARE DEAD IN UNDER AN HOUR
    CHILDREN ARE
    (sobbing)
    LIKE VAMPIRES

    Rubinstein kicks out at the spiderlike executive
    with his well-oiled heels indicating he wishes him to stop
    TUCK YOU FAT FUCK he says
    WHAT’S THIS I WAS READING ABOUT GUBBINS GETTING KILLED
    AT SOME LECTURE HE WAS GIVING AT THE UNIVERSITY?

    Tuck has moved to the maple cabinet and lifts a trumpet-shaped control
    flicks an infrared plasma screen on
    YESSS he whistles
    IT WAS BEDLINGTON AND RICKENBACKER THEY
    DEEMED IT NECESSARY TO TAKE HIM OUT, HE WAS
    STARTING TO LOSE IT YOU SEE –

    The riots splash across the wall in technicolour
    The streets run red with running poster paint
    Bee-keepers and panzoists wearing blue skullcaps are engaged
    in mass delirious cunnilingus in amongst the traffic
    Red snow is falling on the sidewalk as pictures from the volta airship
    cascade in subjective transmissions onto the eyes

    Sofi Cismontane starts wailing when
    a picture of the queen
    [CENSORED]
    is beamed up

    OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE
    WE MIGHT AS WELL RIP UP THE GUIDEBOOK says Rubinstein
    I MEAN YOU CAN’T SHOOT THE FUCKING DIRECTOR CAN YOU?

    ERM NO, I DON’T THINK SO says Tuck
    watching a gang of half-baked skirmishers dump the queen’s body
    in a chalk pit
    SUBLIME he whispers to himself

    Sofi is now pulling her own hair out

    FUUUUUCCCCKKKKKK! yells Rubinstein and rings a bell
    A portal opens and a tiny orange goblin comes running through it
    Rubinstein points at the hysterical girl and looks away
    while the goblin hacks at her head
    stuffs her frontal lobe in an empty cereal box and goes back out
    the way he came in
    I COULD HARDLY HEAR MYSELF THINK says Rubinstein
    YOU NEED TO PHONE HER FATHER AND TELL HIM WHAT HAPPENED
    OR I MEAN
    DON’T TELL HIM WHAT HAPPENED JUST MAKE SOMETHING UP

    OF COURSE says Tuck
    WHAT ABOUT THE GUBBINS SITUATION?

    CALL BREWSKI AND STEINBOK says Rubinstein
    TELL THEM I WANT BEDLINGTON AND RICKENBACKER DEAD
    BEFORE THEY MAKE ANY MORE DECISIONS ON THEIR OWN
    HAVE YOU SPOKEN TO THE WRITER YET?
    CAN WE GET ANOTHER DIRECTOR AT SUCH SHORT NOTICE?

    I CALLED HIM THIS AFTERNOON BUT HIS SECRETARY SAYS HE’S NOT IN says Tuck
    I’LL CALL BREWSKI AND STEINBOK THEN GO VISIT THE WRITER MYSELF
    AND I’LL PUT THE FEELERS OUT FOR ANOTHER DIRECTOR

    WHAT ABOUT ANOTHER GIRL? HAVE YOU HEARD FROM HER?

    NO, NOTHING YET

    FUCK –
    TUCK
    ON YOUR WAY OUT CAN YOU TAKE THE BODY?

    CERTAINLY says Tuck
    Up on screen the camera shows the famous journalist Owen McGuffey
    framed by a chrome yellow sky
    kicking shit out of the sousaphone player
    who gallantly continues to keep playing

    Tuck drags the bloody body of Sofi Cismontane down the hall
    and out through the front door
    Huckleberry Finn continues to play the glockenspiel in the background
    and Rubinstein reaches for another hickory nut, rubbing his oily toes together
    staring into space

  19. 18 – ISHMAEL TAKES A PICTURE

    Beneath the teeth poster on the floor Kef sits listening to The Bluettes
    Sibyl’s head rests on his lap she is wrapped
    in his old parka jacket

    Outside the window in the faraway distance the cathedral blazes
    mixes with moon-rays pouring into the room
    and though the fanfare and cacophony of the earlier riots has died down
    it is still not safe to go out in the streets –
    so they play records loud to drown out the bugle-calls of random car alarms
    abandoned like unwanted toys in the road

    Sibyl picks up the receiver again, stretched through from the front room
    and puts it to her exposed ear
    ANYTHING? asks Kef

    NOPE she says MY MUM WILL BE FREAKING OUT

    WELL YOU’RE NOT FREAKING OUT
    AND SHE’S PROBABLY THINKING THAT YOU ARE
    SO…

    She smiles
    I DON’T MEAN TO BE SUPERMODEST KEF, BUT
    HOW COME YOU NEVER TRIED IT ON WITH ME?

    I DON’T KNOW
    I GUESS IT JUST NEVER CROSSED MY MIND
    YOU’RE LIKE A LITTLE SISTER TO ME he says, suddenly feeling very stoned

    THERE WAS THAT TIME I GAVE YOU MOUTH TO MOUTH she says
    her fingers trace wheel and butterfly patterns on her honey belly beneath the jacket
    I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD

    YEAH he says, grinning
    IT FELT LIKE I WAS

    KEF, I’M BORED, WHAT TIME IS IT?

    He looks at his wrist-watch – JUST GONE NINE

    SHIT! Sibyl sits upright NOAH’S ARK IS ON!
    She throws the jacket away and jogs across the room to the television
    turns it on with one hand switching the music off with the other
    IS IT OKAY IF I WATCH THIS?

    SURE he says, I WANT TO DO A BIT OF WRITING ANYWAY
    He pulls a small black notebook from the discarded jacket’s right-hand pocket
    and drapes it over Sibyl as she lies back down
    On screen the red-headed Marlene Mikhailovich
    is in the throws of an acrobatic feat of rage having discovered
    Nikolay has emptied their savings account to buy the following:

    1 sheep-dog
    1 daw
    1 hoover
    1 jar of tadpoles
    2 marlin and
    a bottle of cheap scotch

    A b-girl oozes sound-bites while Marlene
    throws a bucketful of phosphorescent gunk over her well-meaning husband

    Kef who has been thumbing through the notebook wondering
    whether now would be a good time to abandon “Zugzwang Mousetrap”
    in its present form and start again can’t help but look up
    WHAT’S THIS THEN?

    YOU’VE NEVER SEEN NOAH’S ARK? asks Sibyl, incredulous

    NO

    On screen Grandpa is bellyflopping from the top of a cosmic waterfall
    Knights of the round table hold up score cards and
    oriental windsurfers lounge around on lilos looking dreamy
    when Grandpa doesn’t resurface

    The leading lady (HALLEY KERASKOV explains Sibyl) emerges from
    mission control in slow motion wearing a radioactive suit of camouflage armour
    sniffing that Grandpa’s quixotic drowning has cost the Mikhailovich family
    a curlew and unquantifiable amounts of self-confidence

    Sibyl explains that everybody in the show
    from contestants through to the television crew believe that the world is about to end
    and are competing for places on a fictitious ark by collecting as many animals
    as they can…
    IT’S GENIUS she says
    ALL THESE TEAMS FIGHTING IT OUT LIKE THE WORLD IS
    GOING TO END NEXT WEEK
    … laughing

    And as she does Kef looks down at his hand that holds the notebook
    and drops it
    FUCK!

    WHAT IS IT? SHIT, YOU MADE ME JUMP MAN

    He is still looking at his hand, holding it up in front of his face
    CAN YOU SEE IT? he asks her, wide-eyed

    She looks blankly back at him SEE WHAT?

    MY HAND
    IT LOOKS
    DIGITAL
    LOOK!
    CAN’T YOU SEE THAT? IT’S DEFINITELY FLICKERING

    Sibyl stares at the hand waiting for it to flicker but nothing happens
    I CAN’T SEE IT she says
    IT’S PROBABLY JUST THE FLAMES OUTSIDE THE WINDOW…
    A TRICK OF LIGHT
    YOU LOOK EXHAUSTED

    [CENSORED]
    Florence Mikhailovich is on the television [CENSORED]
    playing wind-up drums gritting her supernatural teeth through frostbite
    Ishmael takes a picture
    and it races counterclockwise around the universe
    flares up in posters on a canned planet on a million walls
    in the middle of summer
    hurtling towards THE END

  20. 19 – INTROVERTED TO A POINT OF BEING INVISIBLE

    The laundrette assistant steps out onto the bluestone pier in her wetsuit
    clutching a clipboard to her dainty frame
    Contrary to the common perception that she is
    “Introverted to a point of being invisible”
    she is actually incredibly self-conscious in her present attire
    and walks out to meet the balloonist utterly convinced
    that the two old fishermen sitting on the harbour wall
    are ogling her ass as it swings belligerently behind her

    Rasmussen the blind balloonist shakes her warmly by the hand
    I’VE BEEN EXPECTING YOU CINDERELLA he says
    smiling from under an authentic smoky moustache and crash helmet
    THIS WAY PLEASE
    opening the basket door and guiding her inside
    – a transistor radio plays Amede Ardoin’s “Blues de Basile”

    Up in the sky she watches
    a turtle-dove reversing through clouds like chalk on the brass
    buckles of the world’s ceiling
    A cello plays in her mind and Rasmussen the manbird from time to time
    skydives in and out of the basket heaving
    heavyweight indigo wings
    She studies the dorsoventral absurdity of his form
    when he isn’t looking

    Eventually they reach the crash-site and Rasmussen the clinician
    circles the balloon down above it before releasing
    a trap door and she
    falls through a tunnel of solar rings before
    breaking the surface of the sea in a blur

    Beneath the sea:
    Face to face with a sabre-toothed porpoise she reminds herself
    to next time hire a submarine
    no matter how much it costs

    *Of course we all know that a sabre-toothed porpoise is
    very unlikely to harm a laundrette assistant in a wet suit
    but this is a clitoral year and inexplicable things have been
    happening in the cerebral vein so on this occasion she was
    in fact following operating procedures by swimming around
    this impassive leviathan and diving down to the remains of
    the bohocopter

    The ocean tasted like photocopied apples
    To her right a milk toothed shark posed in italics
    and to her left a polar bear in a deep sea diving suit makes a cameo
    sauntering across the seabed

    At 2 o’clock that afternoon she had received the message at the laundrette

    THIS IS CATHERINE WALDHEIM AT THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF CONFORMISM
    WE HAVE SOME WORK FOR YOU
    She fumbles around on the line and a cassette begins to play

    : The entire congregation looks sunwards as
    rhythmic kilobytes of homocopter hums by –
    at the wheel are Edwin Pussy and Dillman Sunday
    the be-in specialists, chasing a team of bipolar pixies
    TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH! (cries Sunday)

    I EXPECT THAT FOR AN ASSISTANT OF YOUR CALIBRE THAT THIS JOB
    WILL BE RELATIVELY STRAIGHTFORWARD
    AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO RECEIVING YOUR FINDINGS IN DUE COURSE
    NEEDLESS TO SAY IT IS PARAMOUNT THAT ANY
    FATAL INCONSISTENCIES
    BE REPORTED BACK TO THE ZEBRA FLOWER COMPANY IMMEDIATELY

    In the nanosecond before she hangs up
    she can quite clearly be heard screeching
    FOR FUCK’S SAKE MELODY! I’VE TOLD YOU A THOUSAND TIMES…
    LOVE POTIONS WERE THE DONE THING YESTERDAY!

    It doesn’t take her long to locate Pussy and Sunday’s bodies
    Pussy wears the boom in his marble eyes head disconnected from
    his torso that continues to hold the wheel and legs that appear
    to be running in the other direction
    Sunday is intact with the exception of thumbs
    presently in the belly of a very clever turtle

    As she burls around wrapping them in waterproof kleenex and sad sacks
    she reckons it should be easy to extract the bug and regenerate them both
    An approximate golden flare goes up and with it the two sacks
    They bob on the surface, licked by pert waves
    By the time she has reached the top
    Rasmussen the funeral director is pulling the second
    of the two sacks up into the basket but as she reaches for the rope
    he kick-starts it through her fingerprints

    HEY! she shouts, choking on a sudden mouthful of seawater

    Rasmussen the mandrake shrugs his shoulders as if to say
    JUST FOLLOWING ORDERS
    and the balloon spurts up into the sky again
    blowing like a scrap of crepe paper in the wind away
    leaving her
    treading the fatally constant depth
    of a million miles from explanation
    or the safety of the shore

    There she remains
    drowning
    with exhaustion
    the tiny dark speck of The Mardi accidentally on the horizon
    behind her

  21. 20 – CHRYSALIS

    Intermission:

    It’s an ugly heat – the lurching red boneshaker crawls uphill
    The Cuban, an athletic troubadour at the wheel
    Beside him, pregnant in the passenger seat sits Cinderella
    hiding behind a drastic mohican, nordic finger interlaced across her thankless belly
    and topaz beads glimmer around her neck

    K sits in the back betwixt Calvin and Cortes
    who are wasted and twittering about algebra and elves
    On the radio – a soundtrack of vibraphones
    cymbals, balalaikas, and glockenspiels spin mesmerising whorls

    2 months later:

    They lie low at the songbird’s studio safe-house in the ghetto of nowhere
    and she sings beneath a sombrero, struck down with spina bifida, her song
    like syrup up and down the zephyr

    K waits at the window
    watching the procession bellicose
    can-can-ing through the village square

    In the background, Calvin and Cortes translucent
    drunkly smooch with the Judge’s twin daughters in an envelope of joss-stick mechanics
    glitterballs, an endless supply of tequila, a perdition of delphinium pinions
    and vortex pillows

    In the corner of the room, the antediluvian seamstress stitches hologram shawls oblvious

    K remembers the essence of The Cuban’s last words
    standing on the airstrip bare-chested in ripped jeans and sharkskin boots
    waving a floral machete at ancient aztec mosquitoes
    IT’S JUST UNTIL WE SYNCHRONISE K
    AT MOST A COUPLE OF WEEKS…
    THESE ARE MY PEOPLE
    THE MEZZO-SOPRANO AND PUPPETS OF ZEN –
    YOU ARE SAFER THAN SAFE HERE

    He does not hear Cinderella approach him on the back of a narwhal
    or the solicitor by her side fumbling with ivory keys that rattle on twines
    She looks like a collage of ideas
    questing from probably causes and statistical maxims
    satellite eyes of vapour blinking rapidly inside
    an inconclusive ecosystem of ozone and limbo

    mascara stripes of the gamine tigress are warpainted upon her cheekbones
    she reaches out to tap his shoulder
    pendulous in dark reverie
    and the balance of the wych-elm shifts
    iron knights clash in the Kremlin
    a sitcom of lesbians malfunction in parachutes
    pterodactyls ride in the December sun
    and outside the procession falls over itself having reached the noose

    they drag
    the welterweight’s brother kicking and screaming
    while a billion earwigs are poured into his pants
    down into the centre of the tapestry
    ranting about silhouettes and GDP
    and his destiny is to die at the hands of the contraption
    addled with a sudden unexpected outpouring of guilt
    and the falcon will peck at what’s left of his hangdog eyes…

    It’s an ugly heat
    and an oblique parable that plays out

    The airstrip is daubed with the onslaught of dust
    and K does not hear Cinderella as she turns the narwhal
    back to the divan
    her solicitor lupine noting endless corrigendums at her side

  22. 21 – MIDAS’ MAIL-ORDER WHALING SHIP

    Pigman rubber stamps another brain cell and whispers to Clack across the operating table
    LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT THE SUNDIAL ASSASSINS –
    VENTRILOQUISTS WITHOUT XYLOPUPPETS
    THEY WERE ORIGINALLY GIFTWRAPPED FOR THE AGENCY
    IN THE SUMMER OF BOP, TWENTY-ONE IN ALL
    OPHIDIAN CARTOONS SHARING THE SAME SOLITARY DARK EGO
    THEY MOVE VIA HANDCLAPS THROUGH THE UNDERWORLD
    IN AN ORPHIC SHROUD OF BLACK FEATHERS AND FEED
    ON THE MARROW OF PERSONALITY THAT CLUSTERS BEHIND
    THE HUMAN BLIND-SPOT
    his tomahawk slams down again
    mass producing sky blue nomads and free-lance hooligans
    for this convoluted model of empirical luminescence

    Their line supervisor Goliath, should be on their backs
    but he is far too busy with the witchcraft of canned grass
    chewing absent-mindedly on a mouthful of fireflies

    The office is a warhorse of incohesive strategy
    red pens skating across the lunar turf
    all in the name of escapism

    Subrosa blood brothers do handsprings to intimidate the desk-bound Romanian hired hands
    THIS PLACE IS A PIGSTY! cries an over-sensitive neanderthal in a ten gallon hat
    clocking in early for his shift
    Goliath looks up momentarily with x-ray eyes
    then slumps back to the superstratum –
    in the tiny theatre of coral leaves he watches
    ghouls in sunhats rising on Midas’ mail-order whaling ship
    helixing into the hysterical tundra

    A sudden commotion on the shop floor ambushes the ambience of the moment
    Clack screams and honks the fire alarm as the brain cells on his operating table rpidly
    coagulate channelling the indigo fibres of a neoplastic diagram depicting
    a subhuman mangled version of The Cuban sitting up
    laughing the last laugh and opens an umbrella of storm cloud
    spewing forked lightning emperor moths
    their stonewashed wings sparking and swerving spitting tear gas and exclusion orders
    causing the giants’ minds to expand so much that magma seeps
    from their great hairy ears

    Only Clack escapes by scrambling through the sludge of an open window
    lands on the bonnet of Aureola’s canary yellow go-cart –
    she puts her foot the floor amidst the pantomime of swarming sound waves
    and they thread towards the rendezvous

    Across the planet, not far from Albaquerque, the Sundial Assassins dive into
    the meat of a hurricane
    kinetic and primed for combat, Kobus Kob pirouettes at the head of the monolith
    of the back of a green whale
    down the cycle tracks of interstellar microcosms they go
    cheered on by fidgeting glyphs and stoical hopheads who
    are only in it for the danger money

    They appear
    in a nebulous pocket of space on the outskirts of the village
    and slip unnoticed down the carpeted streets via ancient morality trenches
    Kob
    polishes his tusks and adjusts his suspender belt
    blows a painted bamboo stump

    The villagers stop
    and experience
    sudden hearing loss

    The Sundial Assassins in gas masks are clawing with brute force
    at the tear-glands of a star-studded cast
    In the street, The Judge’s twins lie legs akimbo and covered in ketchup under a macabre gloom
    As invisible chamber music plays, the seamstress is strapped to a dart board
    and choked with get well cards
    Kob has contagiously tipped the songbird from her wheelchair
    and has her in a half-nelson
    spits slingshots like surf from his slippery lips as he howls
    WHERE IS KOLINSKY?
    and she laughs as his grip intensifies
    finally throwing her to the cracked black earth and striking her repeatedly
    with an unstrung mandolin until a spectrum of ink stains the sky

    Calvin and Cortes completely wasted
    are muzzled and mugshots are taken
    their bodies and doused in phosphorous powders
    dismantled with ripsaws and fed to anacondas
    while a carnival of coincidence erupts all around them

    When they are done, the remains of the village is ripped apart
    and repackaged as soft drinks or children’s toys or baskets of butterscotch
    Torpified silver willows quickly grow upon the resulting wasteland
    and the canvas of time is carefully re-tuned to believe
    that none of this ever happened

    Kob takes a handful of wallpaper pills and calls McAdoo
    gives him a blow-by-blow account

    McAdoo is pissed
    YOU SAID THIS WOULD BE EASY MY DEAR!

    Kob sneers and hangs up
    He claps his hands together and mounts the green whale
    the Sundial Assassins falling into line like choreographed insects behind him
    A CHANGE OF PLAN he says
    WE GO BACK TO THE MOUNTAIN
    AND TAKE THE VIRUS BY FORCE

    Meanwhile Midas’ mail-order whaling ship sails from the lunar tundra
    straight into a seashell
    and the ghouls in sunhats are blissfully unaware
    of the man who is two men from two separate universes rolled into one
    and the pregnant laundrette assistant with the cobalt mohican and jangling beads
    huddling together behind barrels of sky in the hold.

  23. 22 – THE SAD PASTEL SONG COLOURS OF THE NIGHTINGALE

    Finally Laurelia scrabbles herself free from the rubble of her parent’s house at the top of Cirrus Street
    dusts herself down and doesn’t look back

    Ten minutes later, Gretel groggy and covered in lesions emerges –
    she stands on the immaculate lawn and catches a solitary snowflake on the tip
    of her saliva-less tongue
    In the background, Zola skulks
    zigzagging away between the cypress trees

    Across the city, dogsbodies wake from the maelstrom of siestas
    and are glued to primal television channels capturing
    the juggernaut of anarchy as it gathers momentum

    In parliament, a room full of megalomaniacs shake tambourines
    and distort the opus of recession –
    the Provost is on his knees bawling about the shortage of bacon
    and the first tanks trickle onto the stage
    Agent provocateurs drape tinsel from the downtown skyscrapers
    print titillating postcards in braille
    disseminated through archetypal continuums

    Laurelia elbows her way through a blizzard of humanoids at the hippodrome
    She exposes her milkshake midriff and fangs
    clinically singling out a handsome young huckster oozing credit in a piebald panamanian hat –
    moments later she is leading the orgasmic George Cinclus through woozy corridors
    to the rooftop, where
    (as we have previously witnessed) she will tenderly
    vaporise him with a cricket bat for kicks

    Meanwhile on the bright side of the city
    Gretel slips off the radar via obsolete sewers
    stripped down to her knickers and frazzled with idealism
    she pads like a panther to the apartment on Nimbostratus Street

    The scene is in the process of being graphically embossed
    by the shambles of the sycophantic paramilitary
    EVERYONE IS DEAD she sings in the sad pastel song colours of the nightingale
    In the abandoned xylem hypermarkets a pianola masquerades
    subliminal indeterminate messages to the very same melody
    There is nothing left to do but go looking for the Stooge

    The Stooge is a Pekinese tetrahedron porter who works as a janitor at the sanitorium
    Overshadowing his scatological needs and diet of gerbils and jellyfish
    he had frequently rescued the commune from redundant stalemates
    Gretel locates him tending to venus fly-traps in the nuthouse garden
    whispers from behind the garbage pile
    her calloused hands clinging to uneaten noodles and discarded rosettes
    from yesteryear’s beauty pageant and a string of rigged elections
    His four faces club foot over to her
    BOPEEP? WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?
    I THOUGHT THE POGROM TOOK EVERYONE…
    globules of gyroscopic black tears drop from his eight eyes
    as he summons the urchins with the twang of an almanac

    They quickly arrive –
    two boys and one girl
    all with identical brown rhesus faces
    ulcers on their big blinking eyes
    in wizened rags

    The Stooge adjusts his toupee and feeds them scraps of sphagnum from his haversack
    tells them TAKE BOPEEP TO LIEUTENANT VERLAINE –
    HE IS A GOOD MAN
    A SURREALIST FROM HIS DAYS AT UNIVERSITY
    AND WILL UNDOUBTEDLY KNOW WHAT TO DO
    The little girl (Dahlia) takes Gretel by the hand
    and they exit through the belly of a maribou at the base
    of the Sanitorium totem pole
    Meanwhile the Stooge plays a tuba out of time
    to fuck up the sensors of the holocaust blimp in case they are detected

    Lt. Verlaine is a lop-eared albino of Eskimo descent
    and a family man with a whizz kid wife and two incredible nova children
    Cross-eyed he reluctantly listens to the urchins explain
    the fundamentals, while Gretel hides in a zirconium keg of vaseline
    lying in the alleyway behind Hoodoo Towers
    (where the Secretary of State resides)

    At the far end of the alley, a Tyrannosaurus Rex sleeps
    in the foetal position, its bowels heaving with hunger
    I SHOULD FEED THE THREE OF YOU TO HIM YOU KNOW says Verlaine
    ONLY IT WOULD BE LIKE THROWING HIM BONES…
    TELL THE STOOGE THAT THIS IS THE LAST FAVOUR I’M DOING HIM –
    I’M OFF THE MANDRAKE FOR GOOD
    He moves with celerity in the shadows
    chinchilla army robes rustling as he topples and rolls the keg
    to the ventilation shaft of the tower with telekinesis
    Gretel whispers a fleck of a THANK YOU as he tips her inside
    and she pulls free from the goo
    splintering soundlessly up the lanthanum ducts

    Outside in the alley, Lt. Verlaine tosses the urchins a hunk of luscious papaya
    and tells them to FUCK OFF

    Undertakers burn encyclopaedias live on pirate radio
    A kid with a dorsal fin rolls out his suburban linoleum and starts break-dancing
    The great dynasty of mistletoe witches mount their sylvan broomsticks
    and take off for El Dorado
    The kung fu master throws the V-sign and nobody is sure
    if he means peace or war
    so they douse him in whisky and set him on fire just to be on the safe side

    This is the sound of the atlas ripping itself apart to start over
    The grail is a virus
    and with it the limits are intuitively shifted somewhere beyond
    the grasping diaphanous hands of predeterminism

    All bets are off

  24. 23 – A TERRACE OF ISOMERS

    Kef and Sibyl untangle themselves from the paragraph the following twilight
    ripping apart like velcro
    Outside everything is numb in the aftermath of the apocalypse
    Ghostly rain reverberates on the mirrored sidewalks

    In matching cagoules they tiptoe
    between the farrago of things –
    a chimera of bruised manikin limbs spilled in the middle of the road
    mechanical rigor mortis in the shape of blurred vehicles and smashed up shop windows
    and orphaned fingertips awkwardly linger inches apart as they turn left onto Myrtle Lane

    At the far end of the street, a demonstration of beggars and baboons
    waving placard poems takes place outside the Elephantine Consulate
    Exhausted commandos intermittently spray the protesters
    with aerosols and pornographic advertising
    – it is unclear what they are protesting about

    They are about to turn back when the ferocious black limousine sputters up beside them
    A tungsten window rolls down and Friar Tuck’s voice tells them to GET IN
    His words are accompanied by an omen of thunderclap
    and the rain exponentially heaves from the firmament
    Reluctantly they clamber in pooling water on the dark plasma seats

    TAKE US TO THE CITADEL Tuck barks
    as the door closes automagically behind them
    fluttering imperfect eyelashes and toying hysterically
    with his pronged moustache
    Huckleberry Finn nods behind the wheel and puts his tiny fiery foot down
    I SUPPOSE YOU HEARD ABOUT GUBBINS says Tuck
    BIT OF A FUCK UP ON OUR PART THERE
    BUT REST ASSURED WE’LL HAVE A NEW DIRECTOR
    IN PLACE BEFORE THE DAY IS OUT

    They pass the Ferris wheel where a congregation of robots
    offer up prayers to a random assortment of Gods
    The wheel itself is in flames
    kindled by infinity
    footprints in the ochre road are a squiggled reminder of yesterday’s mass exodus
    I TRUST THE BOOK IS GOING WELL? Tuck asks Kef
    adjusting an invisible halo as he does
    The young man declines to answer
    too busy listening to the galloping castanet heartbeats of Sibyl in the seat beside him
    She quiescently catches him listening and smiles

    The Citadel is located beneath an acetylene silo in the sadistic district –
    a total curfew has been in place there for the last 24 hours
    while fatalists and identikit guerrillas did battle with the Sundial Assassins
    culminating behind the closed door of the ice rink in a seismic sabre fracas
    Cappuccino blacklegs are reporting that all twenty one of the Assassins have been captured
    and tied to funeral kites, which in turn are released
    to drift into subatomic sunspots –
    Kobus Kob apparently escaped uninjured
    with the assistance of a brigade of scarab budgerigars

    The nymphet receptionist looks up from stroking a gopher
    as Tuck and the two strangers enter the atrium
    An androgynous brunette in cotton pyjamas
    her celluloid sinews strain in Kef’s direction
    NOT NOW snaps Tuck, as she nibbles on the tip of a carrot suggestively
    WHERE’S KRILL?

    She plays a digitalised note on an ocarina and an elderly clown in black threads
    and a deerstalker hat appears
    clunking walnut keys together and slooping over to them
    KRILL, I’D LIKE TO SHOW OUR GUESTS THE CRYPT says Tuck
    The old clown bows ceremoniously and leads the way

    In the Crypt:
    professors and cadet technicians in paisley patterned lab coats tend to embryonic larvae
    Transistors hiss and light bulbs spore beneath a terrace of perspex numbered tanks
    In each of the tanks are translucent forms
    will-o-the-wisps wired up to hydraulic pumps
    Tuck leads them to tank #28, Krill shuffling along behind them playing an accordion
    WE CALL THIS THE LABYRINTH Tuck tells them

    Kef presses his nose to the perspex, pupils dilating as he sees an outline of himself
    WHAT IS IT?

    Tuck twists a signet ring sneering
    WE UNEARTHED THEM SEVEN YEARS AGO
    WHEN WE RIPPED DOWN THE OLD TEN PIN BOWLING ALLEY

    WHAT ARE THEY? asks Sibyl, the fear thick in her voice

    ISOMERS grunts Krill in a thick French accent, OF OURSELVES

    THEY ARE SOMETHING OF A CONUNDRUM says Tuck
    ACTUALLY WE HAVE BEEN MINING THE EARTH EVER SINCE
    WE FIRST FOUND THEM AND UNEARTH NEW ISOMERS ALMOST EVERY WEEK
    he points a pudgy tangerine finger to the furthest end of the line
    SEVENTY FOUR TO DATE…

    SEVENTY SIX says Krill

    Suddenly the translucent form of Kef begins to fit violently
    and a gecko in a silicon body-suit scurries by
    begins to scratch erratically with charcoal on a concave canvas
    spiralling down from the obsidian ceiling
    VIVA LA AUTHOR! whispers a technician
    removing the picture before it makes any sense

    WHAT’S HAPPENING? asks Kef
    freaked out at the sight of his own shuddering clear shell

    WE BELIEVE THEY ARE DREAMING says Tuck
    UNFORTUNATELY OUR EFFORTS TO TRANSLATE THEIR DREAMS
    HAVE BEEN… WELL, FRUITLESS IF TRUTH BE TOLD. COME…

    He waddles down the row, sidestepping a cougar crushing coloured crayons in its jaw
    and dribbling onto another canvas lying flat on the stone floor

    AHA! HERE WE ARE! says Tuck, clapping his sweating fat hands together

    They stare at the crystalized form of Sibyl lying motionless
    in a web of wires inside tank #56
    OBSERVE says Tuck and motions for them to stand back

    He punctures the tank with a rusty fork
    and as a cyclone of oxygen rushes in through the holes
    the outline of Sibyl dreaming
    bursts into flames

    A fraction of a moment passes

    before the horrified actual Sibyl starts screaming
    her hair alight
    and whorling mazarine fire pours from her mouth and eyeballs

    Kef desperately attempts to smother the burning girl with his body
    but in seconds she has become a pile of ash and vapour in his arms

    Krill steps forward with a dustpan and brush and begins
    to carefully sweep up her remains around a sobbing Kef

    A shoal of scarlet scum tadpoles swim by
    collectively nosing lumps of nectar in the direction of an unattended wishing well
    LET’S GET ONE THING STRAIGHT KEF says Tuck
    NOBODY IS INDISPENSABLE –
    NOT YOU
    NOT ME
    THE SYSTEM IS GOD
    AND YOU WILL WRITE US ALL INTO THE HISTORY BOOKS
    THESE ARE THE DAYS
    OF THE EXTRAORDINARY MAN
    AND SIMPLE BEINGS LIKE THIS GIRL
    WILL FADE LIKE DODOS
    SHORTLY WE EXPECT YOU
    TO BE CONTACTED BY THE WASTRELS WHO ARE HIDING KOLINSKY
    I KNOW YOU KNOW THIS NAME
    EVEN IF YOU DO NOT YET KNOW IT YOURSELF
    AND WHEN THEY DO
    YOU WILL BRING HIM TO ME
    DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?
    He cruelly flicks a business card at Kef and waddles away
    calling back over his shoulder
    SEE THAT THE WRITER GETS HOME SAFELY WOULD YOU KRILL?
    YOU BAG HIS LITTLE SECRETARY FOR HIM TO TAKE AWAY
    IF HE SO DESIRES

    YES SIR fawns Krill, bowing to his knees, a buzzard landing on his left shoulder

    FUCK YOU! yells Kef into the shadows
    swallowing Tuck at the far end of the Crypt

  25. 24 – CRETINS

    Melody Waldheim was an eleven year old workaholic
    splendid class president with shimmering teeth in jodhpurs
    she was regarded by virtually all of her peers and lovelorn teachers
    as something of a cretin

    Every day, immediately after school
    she packs up her replica library books and metronome in her bubblegum trudgebag
    and runs swashbuckling errands for her mother in exchange for gymnastic lessons
    That afternoon in question
    she flies from the perceived nest of knowledge and travels
    across town via the transcendental kayak express
    to a predesignated laundrette carefully selected by the Zebra Flower Company

    Blackmail and villainy have been programmed into Melody’s genetic make-up at the embryonic stage
    through a series of privately funded barbaric injections
    (in law the majority of her genes are to this day considered
    the intellectual property of one of the city’s leading high-fashion milliners)
    and thus as a consequence she does not view this as work
    but an opportunity to someday go free-lance
    and own her own public windmill
    This cupidity gene was not artificially transplanted
    but passed down through generations of lionesses on her mother’s side

    The laundrette she enters is called “The Dirty Dungeon” –
    she instinctively bypasses Florin, the owner – a buxom fifty somthing
    gypsy hermaphrodite with varicose veins
    secretly trying to kick a lifelong palmistry addiction –
    and makes for Cinderella the laundrette assistant

    Cinderella sits in the penumbral sarcophagus of life behind the till
    So out of place does this brilliant impish young woman
    with brittle mouse brown hair falling down around her atrophied pale face
    behind glasses reading essays on existentialism look
    that she might as well be a Martian

    Melody approaches the desk illuminated by the mercurial forethought of the outlaw
    and hands the startled assistant the biodegradable invitation
    She clears her throat and aerobically regurgitates
    her mother’s scripted lines
    THE ZEBRA FLOWER COMPANY WOULD BE DELIGHTED
    FOR YOU TO ATTEND
    AN AUDIENCE WITH HIS HOLINESS
    THE MAJESTIC KNAVE
    AND SECRETARY OF STATE
    SIGNOR RUBINSTEIN
    THIS EVENING AT HIS PENTHOUSE SUITE
    AT HOODOO TOWERS FROM 8PM UNTIL DAWN

    Cinderella looks up at the girl and then at the invitation
    like someone has just handed her malaria
    or is pulverising her pale ringless hands
    I – I – IS THIS SOME KIND OF JOKE? she stammers
    and makes to hand the invitation back

    I’M AFRAID NOT replies the girl
    gurgling hideously as she peers over the counter
    ATTENDANCE IS OF COURSE COMPULSORY
    AND FAILURE TO COMPLY WILL RESULT IN YOU
    BEING RIPPED UP WITH MAPLE ONIONS
    TO BE FED TO A PACK OF SYSTEMATICALLY
    STARVED HYENAS IN A CAGE AT MUSTANG MEADOWS
    She smiles like a serpent, tongue flickering around her gums
    BETWEEN YOU AND ME
    I’D PUT DOWN THOSE BOOKS AND GO APPLY SOME ROUGE –
    THIS IS A ONCE IN A LIFETIME OPPORTUNITY YOU KNOW…

    Leaving Cinderella looking visibly upset, job done
    Melody Waldheim clicks her riding boots together
    about turns and exits the laundrette
    goes to hang out with her yes men at the dodgems

    *

    Cinderella takes the eyesore of the old Swiss shuttle
    across the city with the caricatures and bums in the gloaming
    to the spectral alchemical district
    Stars on fahrenheit wires and iridescent orbs slicker
    in the lullaby of sky above her as she pads the ormolu streets in her plimsolls
    to Hoodoo Towers:
    it dwarfs the neighbouring skyscrapers like a great oblong archangel
    the plumage of government
    and a million miles from the ragged teepee she grew up in

    A miniature cavalry meet her at the entrance and escort her backstage –
    in the alleyway, a young lieutenant is throwing hunks of pig
    into the pitchfork jaws of a herculean T-Rex

    He pauses and beckons the young woman forward
    cack-handedly frisks her and lifts her glasses from her nose before leading her
    down lush fuzzy corridors to a golden elevator
    and guides her inside
    tapping a diamante button on the gleaming console for the penthouse suite
    says with a secretive breath GOOD LUCK

    Rubinstein is expecting her
    recumbent on a waterbed
    with a diadem perched upon his head
    He is naked in a yoga position
    filming himself with a camcorder
    An enormous stroboscope engulfs the room
    making everything monochrome
    Sensors ting and the door slides closed behind her
    She tries to escape but the warlock is rapidly
    abseiling across the probably space between them
    swinging from the gallows
    [CENSORED]

    SCRAWNY he says, licking amphetamine lips
    JUST HOW I LIKE THEM

    A cello begins to saw somewhere behind him
    drowning out all known sound
    His emetic enthusiasm causing Cinderella to scream
    and attempt to furl up on the floor
    but he is already dragging her by the hair
    across the spacecraft and she closes her eyes
    as the chilblains cascade on the lexicon of horror
    that has begun to take place

  26. 25 – IN HOBNAIL BOOTS

    AS CAPTAIN OF THIS SHIP
    I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU HUSBAND AND WIFE said Midas
    waving his magic wand

    A one-time thespian, his pidgin lines were as always
    delivered with grizzly authenticity
    YOU MAY NOW KISS THE BRIDE he added
    grinning as the ghouls broke into song

    K and Cinderella flush at the incantation and move awkwardly together
    a cloudburst of razorbills rubbernecking in the sky above them
    So awkwardly horrendous was the fleeting moment
    their cracked sea lips met
    that the vector of time began to haemorrhage its perpetuality
    and Kef was propelled windward across the concatenation of schemata

    Cinderella in hobnail boots merely longed
    for the lightning of love to strike deep and unexpectedly
    into her misshapen heart
    wiping her mouth on the back of her sleeve

    Midas was a mell-meaning captain
    but when the stowaways were caught stealing vodka and orangeade
    from the ship’s kitchen after three days of sailing
    he was left with something of a dilemma

    Unlike his fabled ancestor, this particular Midas did not turn anything he touched into gold
    Raised on the perimeter of a hippy commune by a defeatist father
    and a dentist mother, he grew up believing that the universe was fundamentally diabolic
    and when he smiled, his teeth lit up like icicles
    Running away from home with a troop of travelling zulus aged fifteen, he quickly discovered
    his virtuoso talents on the big stage thanks to an incoherent romance with a serial killer in a burlesque show
    As previously discussed, he continued to pursue this thespian dream well into his forties
    (with public acclaim but no critical recognition whatsoever)
    Finally, one bankrupt day he inherited
    a 60ft schooner called The Mardi
    when a distant and slightly heinous uncle had a terrible and mysterious
    accident with a hot air balloon and rods of green lightning on a sunny afternoon

    He took to the seas like bacteria to a bloodstream
    and had never looked back

    Ordinarily a find like K and Cinderella would have been the simplest of riddles
    Midas would have immediately instigated a jam session
    before putting them to work at the ship’s microwave until their next port of call
    where his size twelve moccasins would flash in the monster sun
    as he kicked their bones efficiently into touch
    But these were no ordinary times
    News of the modern world’s increasingly fraught composition
    and daily transnational skirmishes
    brought to them by The Mardi’s talking porpoise called Shoo
    meant that the situation required a certain amount of genuflection
    before reaching any sort of prognosis
    Being a bedevilled bibliophile, Midas retired to the Captain’s Quarters
    while the ghouls fed the stowaways morphine popcorn
    behind the crescent-shaped sphinx-like pillars of the brig

    There you can see him through that porthole
    kneeling down and sucking on a lozenge while he thumbs
    through manuscripts and manifestos finally
    finding the article he is looking for:

    A cubist WANTED poster with K’s pock-marked face staring back at him in black and white
    He uses a kaleidoscope to read the small print
    FOR CRIMES AGAINST THE STATE it says
    The reward is “A trip on an actual flying saucer and the upper hand”…

    Midas stuffs the memoirs in his pocket
    HUMPH! WHO GIVES A TUPPENCE ABOUT RUDDY FLYING SAUCERS! he shouts
    to nobody in particular, but mostly himself
    He stomps his way onto the main deck
    and cautiously approaches the spaced out stowaways
    prodding them with oriental tonsils tied to the end of a stiletto
    which in turn is tied to a lengthy cane of kryptonite
    TALK! he commands, with the subtlest pinch of wrath
    and holds up the WANTED poster

    The young man grins at his feet like his batteries have finally run out
    but the girl sits forward and tells their story
    for spinning a reincarnation has become like second nature to Cinderella
    She explains to the euphoric Midas (who later
    has the tale recorded word for word by hypnotised ghouls
    into the inside cover of a book of fairytales called “ZUGZWANG MOUSETRAP”
    for posterity and his own reading pleasure)
    how she and Kef met and fell in love
    and how they came to be on The Mardi:

    *

    Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there was a wealthy, but spiritually constipated Maharajah. The wealth was the result of his mighty peach plantations which produced arguably the juiciest and peachiest of peaches in all the peach producing kingdoms of the world. The constipation was caused by the death of his beloved wife, who died during the birth of their first child, a baby girl. So broken-hearted was the Maharajah by the loss, that the little princess was raised by the servants who worked tirelessly on his mighty peach plantations, while the Maharajah remained locked in his room for days on end. The only thing that temporarily pacified the Maharajah’s anguish, was the sound of the tabla, and he frequently summoned the gifted but elderly tabla player from a nearby village to play for him. Sometimes for months, the only person to set eyes upon the Maharajah was the tabla player, but the old man with turbine hands, after many years of being asked to beat out rhythms for hours on end, finally grew sick and died.

    The Maharajah called on the next most talented tabla player in the surrounding lands, and was informed that it was the old tabla player’s grandson, who had inherited his speed, dexterity, and ability to hold a beat. The fifteen year old boy was summoned like his grandfather before him to the palace, and on his way was passing through the peach plantations when he tripped over a girl, the same age as him, spilling a basket of peaches. As their eyes met across the fallen fruit, they fell instantly in love, and since their encounter went unnoticed, there was nobody to tell the boy that this apparently simple and somewhat mucky girl was in actual fact the princess. Each day he was summoned to the palace to play for the Maharajah, the young princess would sit in the branches of a peach tree looking out for the young tabla player, and upon seeing him would smile and wave. Finally she plucked up the courage to speak to him and when she did, they lost themselves in a conversation that carried on through the morning, the afternoon, and right through to twilight. Eventually they shyly kissed and fell asleep beneath a mighty peach tree, exhausted by the bonfire of young love blazing.

    Meanwhile, the Maharajah was furious when the young tabla player had failed to show that morning, and was in a dervish frenzy when he still did not materialise by the early evening. So rich and powerful was the Maharajah that nobody ever dared oppose him or question him. Fusiliers were sent out to every corner of the kingdom to find out what had happened to the boy, and even the Maharajah himself stepped outside his palace for the first time in fifteen years. And as fate would have it, it was the Maharajah himself who found the young tabla player and the princess lying entwined beneath the mighty peach tree. As he yelled furiously at the groggy young man, the princess sat up rubbing her eyes, and her appearance was so like that of her mothers, that it stopped the Maharajah dead in his tracks. Made even more beautiful by the first pangs of young love, the Maharajah fell to his knees sobbing and resolved to make up for lost time. He immediately took the girl by the hand and led her back to the palace where she would sleep in the luxury of a royal room for the first time in her life. He planned to shower her with exotic gifts at sunrise and despatched his servants far and wide to find the most incredible gifts. Behind his bewildered daughter’s back, he instructed a group of fusiliers to take the young tabla player to the edge of the peach plantation and shoot him, primarily for his disobedience, but also intending in time to find a prince who was worthy of his daughter’s hand in marriage.

    But on the way, the boy escaped the fusiliers and ran between the peach trees so that he could not be found. He made his way back to the palace, combining his knowledge of the inner lay-out from previous audiences with the Maharajah, with the same deftness of feet as he had in his tabla playing hands, and quickly found the royal room where the princess lay awake dreaming of her new found love. The young tabla player told her about how her father had commanded the fusiliers to shoot him, and together that night, beneath the peach trees, they ran away together, and have been running ever since.

    *

    Cinderella looked up at Midas’ gnarled face
    spellbound tears hanging on the high-wire of his eyes and said
    I AM THE PRINCESS
    AND HE IS THE TABLA PLAYER
    AND AS YOU CAN SEE, WE ARE STILL RUNNING

    So moved was Midas by Cinderella’s fabrication, that he insisted their odyssey be consumated
    and embellished with an impromptu marriage
    The ghouls were appropriately dressed in straitjackets and bow-ties
    and the ceremony on the main deck was captured on trembling camcorders

    Midas himself forged the couples passports with his finest calligraphic strokes
    and rowed them in a leaking coracle under cover of darkness to the foot of the Mountain
    where he produced one of the most notable performances of his career
    when he was called upon to stump some rather severe gnomes at border patrol
    who called into question the validity of K and Cinderella’s tear-stained passport pictures

    DON’T YOU KNOW WHO THIS IS? he pomped
    red-faced, hands on hips
    THIS IS K THE FAMED CARTOONIST
    AND HIS DIVINE WIFE PEACHES
    (said with a wink over the head gnome’s head –
    which if truth be told was not difficult given the height of the gnome)

    While he distracts the frantic officials with omnipotent juggling tricks
    the newly-weds jump the queue and cross over the border unnoticed
    vanishing into a passing pagan quango

    Cinderella for the first time holds
    her dynamic belly tenderly in her hands
    and decides if the child is a boy
    then she will call him Midas

  27. 26 – BANANA BANANA

    In the experiment we give the monkey a selection of picture cards depicting words, and ask him to arrange them into some loosely structured order.

    In this instance we give him the following pictures:

    PSYCHEDELIC, LAVENDER, SUNBURN, WINDOW, APHRODISIAC, and BUS

    He arranges it as follows:

    (through the) PSYCHEDELIC BUS WINDOW (he sees the) APHRODISIAC (of) SUNBURN (ed) LAVENDER

    Attempts to take the experiment onto the next level allowing the monkey to pre-select picture cards based on his mood or the plot he wishes to project, generally fail as the monkey is predisposed to repeatedly choosing BANANA.

    And nobody wants to read BANANA BANANA.

    Unless of course they are a monkey.

  28. 27 – CONCLUDING THE BALLAD OF PENELOPE TWINKLE

    Penelope Twinkle experienced an imponderable thunderbolt
    lying zipped up in the sprawling bed of Kamikaze Gubbins
    Immediately after leaving is apartment block
    she cycled on her half-empty tandem home
    and spent the rest of the day crying for her apology of a life
    into several chaincups of catharsis

    Her story was as dull as a watercolour painting –
    born and raised a Bolshevik
    her childhood and teenage years were automatic
    and emblazoned with uneventfulness
    The only notable exception was the day she almost got
    her breasts enlarged
    running from the hospital in a green cape at the twelfth hour
    with her bare ass bouncing through the streets
    To this day she is still unable to fathom
    why the fuck she wanted or even needed
    bigger breasts in the first place

    She picked a major from a home-made tombola
    and ended up with film studies –
    something she knew next to nothing about,
    let alone even remotely care about
    Her eldritch resemblance to a dormouse meant
    she had few real friends at the University of Love
    She scraped through first year thanks to the miraculous
    intervention of her own wisdom teeth
    but by the time her sophomore year swung around
    she was resigned to attempting to screw her lecturers
    in exchange for passable grades…
    and this is where Kamikaze Gubbins came in

    Taking her under his pterodactyl wings
    and riding her over the precipice whenever he felt like it,
    this paradigm of a guest speaker in the Periscopic department considered
    poor Penelope to be something of a muse
    (even though he confessed this to nobody, including himself)
    and a potential ingenue for the cartoon-strip movies
    he sort-sightedly imagined making
    when the headache of ignominy passed

    This ignominy was itself caused
    by a raunchy lo-fi science fiction flick called “Lapdancer’s In Space”
    that surgically bombed at every box office desperate enough to screen it
    – but this is by the by

    Finally Penelope Twinkle came out on the other side of a lacrimal stupor
    and resolved to do something legendary with her life
    She lit a cigar
    put on a squaw uniform
    and stepped outside

    Her immediate instinct was to follow the dissonant sounds of chamber music in a nearby street
    that turned out to be a rastafarian jamboree
    The equilibrium of this usually peaceful symposium had been sabotaged by supermodels
    hawking real estate (ideal fodder for the cobweb clergy who
    had fanatically sworn allegiance to the nameless scoundrels of government
    and had even managed to pick up a seat in a nugatory by-election –
    God it would seem, was suddenly up for sale)
    She did not see the anthropod agent leaning on a Belisha beacon
    surfing the piazza for the brightest star in the constellation
    but he saw her
    and quickly outflanked her like a rook around a queen
    on the optical illusion of a chess board

    Perhaps The Cuban’s greatest skill
    (even beyond his accuracy with a kazoo)
    was his ability to swing on the trapeze of auto-suggestion
    Cornering Penelope by the furnace of the old city aviary
    (feathers shoaling like vivid snowflakes from the pyre)
    he persuaded her with ultrasonic footsie to climb
    into the cockpit of vendetta and infiltrate
    the nerve centre of bureaucracy
    As they drink a toast to Trotsky
    a pheonix rises in the background from the flames of kismet
    Penelope Twinkle finally feels the glow of weightlessness
    in a sudden sirocco wind that blows
    the formulae of bongos on a ice-floe
    down the road that rolls out in front of her
    As The Cuban melts back into a paroxysm of hieroglyphics
    painted on a gap in the aviary wall
    Penelope Twinkle pulls her poncho tight around her waist
    and steps into the flash point like a real-life buccaneer

    She enters Hoodoo Towers via a keyhole on the ground floor
    and climbs the ghat to the penthouse suite
    Her nondescript kernel sylphs her under the radar
    and allows her legato passage into the heterogeneous
    and somewhat modest backroom team
    (Rubinstein gets through hired hands almost as quickly as he does hickory nuts)

    Two weeks of following The Cuban’s 10 Golden Rules:

    1 Every day is Halloween
    2 Be pale like a mirage
    3 Keep your panties on
    4 Never microwave eggs
    5 Never underestimate the negligible
    6 Beware of gonorrhoea
    7 Abseil into moments with your eyes open,
    don’t sleepwalk into them with your eyes closed
    8 Gelignite blows things up, cordite knocks things down
    9 Hashish is humdrum
    10 Being a hero is a thankless task

    and she is regarded by all as a part of the permafrost

    The ballad eventually dictates that NOW is the time she should make her move
    Disguised as an illustration
    she begins by taking out the Chief of Police with an ice pick
    as he sits shitting in the penthouse foyer’s rocking chair toilet
    She does not hang around to watch
    the vanilla blood pooling like shampoo on the bathroom floor,
    fawning through the shadows to Rubinstein’s door
    It opens and the Minotaur
    hot and befuddled from his daily security briefing
    steps out –
    his bullseyes don’t even have time to blink
    as Penelope leaps out, pushing a lit serrated enamel sparkler
    through his open mouth
    Even as it POPS like faraway quasar on the other side of his skull
    and he sinks to his bovine knees, she is already inside the penthouse suite
    draped in sable and oilskins
    billowing like an alligator across the spacecraft’s blood-stained floor

    Rubinstein sits with his back turned to her
    indexing a collection of heads he has pickled in formaldehyde
    Jazz music plays as he lifts a lorgnette to his megalomanic little eyes
    and he is blissfully unaware of Penelope rising up behind him with a harpoon
    poised at the base of his skull
    For the anomaly of a millisecond
    she is the precognition of the phoenix personified
    pulling back the harpoon
    blissfully unaware herself of the outburst of cricket bat
    flashing through the air behind her

    The impact breaks every bone in her beautiful head
    and she does not feel a thing as her body dismantles into vapour

    Rubinstein turns round at the sound
    and sees the milkshake midriff of Another Girl
    I’D KNOW THAT NAVEL ANYWHERE he drawls
    looking up at Laurelia
    WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING HERE?

    I’M SAVING YOUR FIENDISH ASS she says
    smiling in manicured fangs as she tucks the cricket bat back in her belt

    She too is blissfully unaware of the air-vent falling open behind her
    or her burned viscous sister wearing only her knickers
    dropping to the floor and hitting her at full speed across Rubinstein
    the two girls an indistinguishable blue of high voltage crashing
    through the formaldehyde jars sending pickled heads rolling
    like giant strawberries in all directions

    As they spring to their feet and stare at each other
    Rubinstein sits back and claps his hands giggling
    says OHO! NOW THINGS JUST GOT FUCKING INTERESTING!

  29. 28 – REVERSIBLE SKINS (THE LAST GILDED MOON)

    Back in Never-Never Land it is like the cosmos is having a nervous breakdown

    Crackpot journalists are court-marshalled for chronological errors
    Everybody you ever liked
    or would have liked if you’d ever met them
    are evacuated in wheelbarrows
    by the vitreous light of the last gilded moon

    All that are left are the warmongers and those who cannot afford a ticket out of here
    Atheists and pantheists are rounded up and spattered all over the small print of the tabloids
    The Viscountess of Ennui makes a speech
    on the halfway line at the packed rugby stadium
    drowning in mink, she drunkly demands
    that anyone with scholarly aspirations be bound in bubble-wrap
    and blasted into space on the back of a highbrow aurora
    The hordes cheer wildly in the stands
    compulsively taking pictures of each other with futuristic mohair mobile telephones
    Up in the north clouds
    the pepperpot palace is broken down into molecules
    and sold off via telesales and merchandise stalls

    K and Cinderella hotfoot it clockwise across this loathsome and loveless new land
    disguised in reversible skins and barefoot over the hoarfrost
    they avoid the hard sell and head back to the city

    Clairvoyant invisible liberals ransack every disfigured village in search of them
    and as the hours tick by, the government calls for reinforcements –
    pirate misanthropes throwing chloroform snowballs
    at anyone who vaguely resembles the fugitives
    febrile tycoons flying the colours of misanthropy
    ripping up socila networking sites
    and winged spooks who yowl and ricochet around in the sky
    small talking suspects into being buried alive in celestial caskets

    At 12:15am the Admiral of the Imperial Fleet makes a deranged phone call home
    and tells his alabaster wife that he is finally sober and has seen the light
    He requests that she immediately start a Mexican wave and hastens to add
    that they have tracked THOSE FUCKERS THAT EVERYONE IS LOOKING FOR
    to the Carnival of Carnivals
    He slams the phone down
    takes another shot of espresso
    and accelerates off on the back of an emu
    buckling beneath the weight of dipsomania

    K and Cinderella twist seraphic in between the waltzers
    while hedonistic aborigines grapple in the dirt for booby prizes
    and the apothecary does some lucrative business
    Polyphonic slogans pump from the carnival gramophones
    while neon lights burrow into corneas
    magnetising nihilists into the trance of franchises
    gorging themselves on grampus burgers
    taking pictures of the prize fighter levitating above the grotto roof
    as he drinks a fifth cup of hemlock to hysterical applause

    Two mangled black hands grab K and Cinderella
    and drag them into the Hall of Myrrors
    Kobus Kob squats in the elliptical light
    his distorted face has been seriously nicked by the slip of a razor
    and his ivory tusks look gangrenous
    in sudden helixing infra-red beams from the helter skelter in the sky outside
    He urges the seraphic couple down to his level
    and up close they can see that he is sweating violently
    mad pupils orbiting his carmine eyes
    When he talks
    his sentences are garbled lambent hisses that imprint on the ears
    LISTEN he says
    THIS IS THE SOUND OF HYPOCRISY
    I KNOW EXACTLY WHO YOU ARE
    THE SUNDIAL ASSASSINS ARE GONE
    ALL GONE
    THE VIRUS HAS OUTGROWN ITS INTENDED…
    TOP HEAVY
    THE THEOREMS ARE FLAWED, HAVE THAWED
    YOU MUST LEAVE TONIGHT
    A MEMORANDUM HAS BEEN FAXED
    FAIT ACCOMPLI, FAIT ACCOMPLI

    A platoon of crystal leeches with flash-lights drift past wading into the bedlam of a hairpin bend
    K and Cinderella make to switch skins again and vanish into the vertigo of myrrors
    but Kob urges them back down again
    YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! he whines
    spitting suicidal cayenne and Iberian jumping beans
    THE MEMORANDUM…
    I HAVE ORDERED THAT THE MOUNTAIN BE NUKED AT DAWN
    SEVERAL TIMES OVER
    AND WHEN WE HAVE DONE THAT
    WE WILL NUKE IT SEVERAL TIMES MORE FOR GOOD MEASURE
    YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND –
    THE DAMAGE IS DONE
    IRREVOCABLE
    GORILLA GORILLA CANNOT BE CONTROLLED…
    OR CONTAINED
    EVEN IF WE HAVE THE ANTIDOTE
    He suddenly springs forward and grabs K’s skull
    starts twisting it violently

    An extravaganza of fireworks temporarily illuminates the Hall
    as Cinderella drives a stylus deep into Kob’s mantis heart
    and the back of K’s head rolls off

    K sits up
    bloodlessly bewildered
    as Kob gasps and gurgles his final gulps of life
    the dolphinarium suddenly reflected in a premonition
    via the convex myrror behind them both
    K feels around the top of his head and pulls apart his own brain producing
    an orb of pure light
    while Cinderella picks up the top of his skull
    and frantically screws it back on again
    WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS? K asks
    more to himself than either Kob or Cinderella

    With his last wistful breath
    Kobus Kob appears to mouth the word AEON
    and then lies still

    K is awoken by the sound of Cinderella’s grunts
    as she lifts him to his feet
    and he unconsciously stuffs the ball of light into his pocket
    as she grabs his hand and tells him COME ON
    WE NEED TO KEEP MOVING

    As per the instructions of The Cuban
    Guy Fawkes is waiting for them on the bright side of the Carnival
    sits on the back of a saddled-up T-Rex
    drinking super cheap cider for some last minute Dutch courage
    lop-ears falling down around his eskimo eyes
    YOU TOOK YOU TIME he says, smiling

    K warily fazed climbs on behind him
    and just before Cinderella follows, she looks up
    sees a giant vandalised billboard advertising the
    state funeral of CLACK GODWIN the following morning

    His face leers out at her
    a portrait picture painted when he was much younger
    and she recalls something that he once said to her
    while she was tucked up in the safety of her childhood bed
    cuddling Zola

    THERE ARE FIVE KINDS OF PEOPLE he said
    THERE ARE THOSE WHO TRY TO WIN AND WIN – THESE ARE WINNERS
    THERE ARE THOSE WHO TRY TO WIN AND LOSE – THESE ARE LOSERS
    THERE ARE THOSE WHO CARE NOT WHETHER THEY WIN OR LOSE – THESE ARE THE APATHETIC
    THERE ARE THOSE WHO DO NOT EVEN KNOW OF CONCEPTS LIKE WINNING AND LOSING – THESE ARE THE IGNORANT
    BUT THERE IS A FIFTH KIND
    SO SMALL IN NUMBER –
    THOSE WHO TRY TO LOSE
    AND WHETHER THEY WIN OR LOSE
    THEY ARE ALL THE SAME

    WHAT ARE THEY DAD? Hashanah had asked

    He shrugged his shoulders and bit his lip nervously
    I DON’T KNOW he told her
    It was the only time she could remember her father
    admitting that he didn’t know something in his life

    She looks up at K on the T-Rex and smiles
    I HAVE TO GO she says
    and then runs off into the undergrowth at the side of the road

  30. 29 – WHICH ONE IS WOODY? (DO IT YOURSELF TELEVISION)

    Up on the giant plasma screen
    The Bluettes sing “Shubunkins” over a series of still images from previous episodes –
    Kef and Sibyl watching Noah’s Ark
    The Cuban silhouetted in a bird’s nest
    Rubinstein eating a hickory nut and leering repugnantly
    Cinderella with her mohican, pregnant in the passenger seat of the boneshaker
    Finally it fades to a CD cover featuring Ishmael’s teeth poster
    and an Australian voiceover announces
    THIS MONDAY AVAILABLE IN ALL GOOD RECORD STORES
    AND DIGITAL DOWNLOADS
    THE BLUETTES SING THE ZUGZWANG MOUSETRAP SOUNDTRACK
    text in the bottom right corner of the screen reads
    SHORT LISTED FOR THE FINGERPRINTS SOUNDTRACK OF THE YEAR AWARD
    and INCIDENTAL MOTOWN HELICAL POP AT ITS MOST ELASTIC ****
    (Haemoglobin Music Magazine)

    Kamikaze Gubbins sits back in the executive nook with his hands behind his head
    and italics his lips
    WHAT DO YOU THINK? asks the technician who
    resembles a leprechaun on crack cocaine
    sniffing uncontrollably and hopping from one foot to the other

    I LIKE IT drawls Gubbins, lighting a cigarette for a second wind
    HAEMOGLOBIN REALLY SAID THAT?

    UM… says the technician, struck down with stagefright

    Gubbins pager starts clanging at his hip
    SHIT he says, yawning and pulls a walkie talkie from his pocket

    He switches it on and the nymphet’s voice swirls rapidly over the static
    THAT’S THE VAMPIRES HERE she says

    Gubbins waits several split seconds and rolls his eyes
    IS THAT OVER? OVER he asks

    The nymphet sighs YES THAT’S OVER she says

    He suspects that she is aiming a perfectly manicured middle finger in his direction
    WELL THEN FUCKING SAY IT’S OVER WHEN IT’S OVER
    OTHERWISE YOU’RE EATING INTO MY TIME
    LEAVING ME HANGING ON WAITING FOR AN OVER he snaps
    turning to the technician who is fumbling imaginary drumsticks moans
    YOU JUST CAN’T GET THE STAFF THESE DAYS…
    The technician nods at the walkie-talkie
    throwing Gubbins off his balcony of indignant rage
    I DON’T HAVE TO SAY OVER spits Gubbins
    I’M THE FUCKING DIRECTOR OF THIS SHOW

    An animated squadron of journalists and Japanese tourists
    are running amok in the atrium when Krill walks in
    The nymphet is dressed like a geisha behind the front desk
    decadently sipping alcopop and thumbing through a sensationalist paperback biography
    of Molotov looking to re-read the chapter where he makes combustible liqueurs

    At the sight of the curator’s painted face, black robes and deerstalker hat
    the tourists jump to attention, cameras flashing and swarm excitedly around him
    Krill opens a death’s head and starts handing out snorkels
    YOU MIGHT FIND THESE USEFUL AS THE TOUR PROGRESSES he tells them
    Solemnly satisfied that everybody is suitably equipped
    Krill clicks his achilles heels together and quiescently enthuses
    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
    MY NAME IS KRILL AND I WILL BE YOUR GUIDE FOR TODAY
    IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS WHILE THE TOUR IS TAKING PLACE
    THEN PLEASE FEEL FREE TO KEEP THEM UNDER YOUR HATS
    He dips back into the death’s head and produces
    several brightly coloured fez’s
    that he again begins to methodically distribute
    visibly grimacing as two happy-go-lucky Siamese twins in matching stripy t-shirts
    have their snorkel-fez’d pictures taken by their saccharine parents
    When he has finished, Krill picks insubordinately at a wart on the tip of his nose
    and begins to speak again
    WELCOME TO PEZ TV
    HOME OF THE CULT TELEVISION SHOW “ZUGZWANG MOUSETRAP” –
    IN A LITTLE WHILE WE’LL BE MEETING SOME OF THE CAST AND CREW
    BEHIND THE MAKING OF DO-IT-YOURSELF TELEVISION’S NUMBER ONE SMASH HIT SERIES
    BUT FIRST I’D BE HONOURED TO ALLOW YOU EXCLUSIVE ACCESS TO OUR RADICAL FACILITIES

    The words YOU LUCKY LITTLE FUCKERS are subtitled in white over Krill’s chest
    and he bats them away like they are vermin
    NOW, IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO FOLLOW ME…
    he mothballs into a loop-hole
    prefabricated into an acrostic contract
    that the visitors complacently sign
    before cluttering them all together in the back of a battery-powered hearse

    Krill speaks:

    ZUGZWANG MOUSETRAP BEGAN ON A SHOESTRING BUDGET IN THE WINTER OF 2049. ONCE WE’D SPENT ALL OUR MONEY ON SHOESTRINGS, WE REALISED THAT WE WOULD NEED TO STEAL AND BORROW ANY RECORDING EQUIPMENT, PROPS, AND WOULD-BE ACTORS

    [Nobody laughs at this and Krill speaks on regardless]

    WE’VE COME A LONG WAY SINCE DREAMS WERE FIRST CAPTURED ON FILM IN TORONTO IN THE THIRTIES AND QUEEN BEE’S GROUNDBREAKING DOCUMENTARY “A WOMBAT’S DREAM”. I’M SURE WE ALL REMEMBER HOW MIND-BLOWING IT WAS TO WITNESS JASPER TCHAIKOVSKY’S ORIGINAL MONOCHROME DREAM SEQUENCES IN THE FILMHOUSES. IN THE EARLY FORTIES OF COURSE WE SAW DREAMS CRUDELY CAPTURED IN COLOUR FOR THE FIRST TIME, AND MORE RECENTLY SCIENTISTS AND FILM-MAKERS HAVE STARTED MAKING TENTATIVE STEPS INTO FINALLY CRACKING THE LATENCY CODEX TRANSLATING PURE IMAGINED THOUGHT ONTO THE SILVER SCREEN.

    OUR OWN PIONEER – PETER PEZ, WAS A VISIONARY BOHO QUANTUM PHYSICIST FROM A LITTLE TOWN CALLED KIRKCALDY IN SCOTLAND. PEZ’S AWARD WINNING POSTGRADUATE THESIS AT THE IDIOSYNCRATIC INSTITUTION OF APPLIED DREAM TECHNOLOGY PROMULGATED THAT COLLECTIVISED DREAMING OR “DREAM FUSION” WOULD BE POSSIBLE PROVIDING AGGLOMERATION THROUGH A SHARED EXTERNAL ALGORITHM OR LANDSCAPE COULD BE ACHIEVED. WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF GLOWORM PRODUCTIONS, IN 2046 HE PATENTED “THE LABYRINTH” – A DREAM FUSION PROGRAMME POWERED BY TWO PART-ORGANIC, PART-MECHANICAL SUPERCOMPUTERS CAPABLE OF HARNESSING THE LATEST CHROMATIC, CINEMATIC, AND DREAM SEQUENCING BREAKTHROUGHS. WE CALL THEM SAM AND NIKO, AND IF YOU LOOK TO YOUR LEFT THROUGH THE GLASS WINDOW, YOU CAN SEE THEM IN ACTION.

    [Pauses]

    NOT MUCH TO LOOK AT I KNOW, BUT I THINK WE UNANIMOUSLY AGREE THAT THE PRODUCT THEY PRODUCE IS…

    [A solitary teardrop of absolute joy wells up in Krill’s left eye and he brushes it away on a sleeve]

    IN THIS ROOM WE CAN SEE OUR TEAM OF GHOST WRITERS AT WORK. IN ORDER TO CREATE AN EVER-CHANGING AND EVOLVING LANDSCAPE FOR OUR ACTORS TO WORK WITHIN, THE LABYRINTH REQUIRES TO BE FED TWENTY FOUR SEVEN. THE GHOST WRITERS WORK A TWELVE HOUR SHIFT, FIVE AT A TIME, AND THERE ARE TWENTY ONE OF THEM IN TOTAL – A FIGURE I’M SURE YOU NO DOUBT EQUATE WITH THE SUNDIAL ASSASSINS…

    [In the back of the hearse, the Japanese tourists are beaming and clutching each other on the verge of cerebral orgasm]

    …VERY LITTLE IN ZUGZWANG MOUSETRAP IS THE PRODUCT OF ACCIDENT OR COINCIDENCE. AS YOU CAN SEE, THE GHOST WRITER’S JOB IS TO SKETCH OUT PICTURE CARDS THAT ARE THEN POSTED INTO THOSE SLOTS THERE. THE CHOICE OF PICTURES – OR INPUT – IS ONE OF INCREDIBLE FINESSE AND COUNTERBALANCE. EACH EPISODE OF ZUGZWANG MOUSETRAP REQUIRES ALMOST ORACULAR FORETHOUGHT…

    [At this point a short, balding journalist in thick black glasses holds up his hand, but Krill shushes him by ramming a barbed finger across his lips]

    …AS I SAID BEFORE, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO KEEP ANY QUESTIONS UNDER YOUR FEZ. OF PEZ

    [he chuckles to himself upon saying this and sighs]

    I SUPPOSE WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO ASK IS WHY DON’T WE JUST USE ANOTHER COMPUTER TO RANDOMLY GENERATE WORDS AND FEED THEM INTO THE LABYRINTH? THE ANSWER IS SIMPLY THAT WE HAVE ALREADY TRIED IT. YOU’VE SEEN HOW VOLATILE THE UNIVERSE OF ZUGZWANG MOUSTRAP IS, RIGHT? WELL THERE NEEDS TO BE A CERTAIN DEGREE OF CONTROL TO MAINTAIN EQUILIBRIUM. LIKE I SAID, NOTHING IS AS RANDOM AS IT LOOKS. HMMM? WHAT DO YOU MEAN I NEVER SAID THAT? LET’S MOVE ON

    [Krill turns a walnut key and the hearse continues precariously along the catafalque track]

    TO YOUR RIGHT IS OUR VIROLOGY DEPARTMENT. AN UNFORTUNATE SIDE EFFECT OF SOME OF THE SERIES’ EARLIER EPISODES WAS AN UNIDENTIFIABLE VIRUS THAT SOME OF OUR ACTORS CONTRACTED WHILE CONNECTED TO THE LABYRINTH. OH, DON’T LOOK ALARMED. AS FAR AS WE ARE AWARE, “GORILLA GORILLA” IS NOT TERMINAL – MOST OF THE INFECTED WERE THANKFULLY BIT-PARTS… FOR EXAMPLE, MOLLY AND LOUIS HEMINGWAY. YES, THAT’S ONE OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS HERE AT PEZ TV – WHAT HAPPENED TO MOLLY AND LOUIS? WELL, PERHAPS ONLY BEHIND THE LETTERS AND PHONE CALLS WE GET FROM GEEKS WITH NOTHING BETTER TO DO THAN POINT OUT KEF’S CHRONOLOGICAL GLITCH. ANYWAY, BOTH LOUIS AND MOLLY ARE STILL IN QUARANTINE, BUT THE VIRUS APPEARS TO BE IN REMISSION, AND THEY’LL BE UP AND RIDING AROUND ON THE BACK OF THEIR MARZIPAN UNICORNS SOON ENOUGH.

    AHA! HERE COMES OUR RESIDENT VIROLOGIST, DR BLUEJAY

    [A scabrous gaoler in a welding mask and blood-stained leather apron ambles over, drinking from a bottle of cheap aftershave]

    ALRIGHT he says, leaning into the passenger window, ENJOYING THE TOUR?

    The ghosts in the back nod vigorously, pulling their fez’s down in unison to protect their eyeballs
    HOW ARE THE PATIENTS TODAY? asks Krill officiously

    Dr Bluejay rocks his hand to indicate “so-so” and asks GOT TIME TO TAKE A PEEK AT THE GODFATHER OF THIS LITTLE DYNASTY?

    Krill glances at the weathervane on his wrist pointing to CLOUDY and shrugs
    I SUPPOSE WE COULD INDULGE YOU FOR A FEW MINUTES he shrills and pops the boot
    the visitors tumbling out like puppets whose strings have been cut

    Through a small round port-hole in the wall of a white cell, we see The Cuban muzzled
    and tied up with kite string, polemically hurling himself against the empty walls spattering
    indigo blood on his blue prison pants leaving imprints of immaculate karma
    wherever he strikes
    The visitors take turns gawking on tiptoes
    ashen-faced and unanimously transfixed by the sight of their hero in quarantine
    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE YOU TO GABRIEL CABALLERO
    OR, AS YOU PERHAPS BETTER KNOW HIM, THE CUBAN…

    The short bespeckled journalist is given a bunk up to the window by a female TV critic from a glossy low-budget high street magazine, wearing dungarees and a groovy bandana
    The little man audibly gasps at the sight and clambers down across the critic’s shoulders
    trembling at the knees
    Krill immediately points to the journalist’s fez and grins from ear to ear

    I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT says Bluejay, shaking his head
    SOMETIMES I THINK WE’RE MAKING CONSIDERABLE PROGRESS AND THEN…
    FRANKLY IT’S FUCKING WORRYING

    Krill nods unconvincingly
    CABALLERO WAS THE FIRST OF OUR ACTORS TO EXHIBIT SYMPTOMS OF THE GORILLA GORILLA VIRUS – INABILITY TO DISTINGUISH BETWEEN DREAM AND REALITY, INAPPROPRIATE USE OF WORDS, RESISTANCE TO EVEN THE MOST STRINGENT PANTHEIST BRAINWASHING PROGRAMMES – HIS ALARMING CONTINUED APPEARANCES IN THE COLLECTIVE DREAM HAVE LED US TO THE ONLY CONCLUSION REMAINING, THAT SOMEHOW PART OF HIS PSYCHE WAS LEFT BEHIND IN THE LABYRINTH WHEN WE RESUSCITATED HIM. ACTUALLY, OUR PRINT OUTS SUGGEST THAT HE WAS BRAIN DEAD FOR ALMOST THREE DAYS. OF COURSE WE HAVE STAND-INS READY TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE, BUT LOSING THE ORIGINAL CAPTAIN COMMUNISM WOULD HAVE BEEN SOMETHING OF A RATINGS BLOW
    He turns to the silent group and grins again
    OH WHAT A MISERABLE LOT YOU ARE! JUST THINK –
    WHAT WOULD THE CUBAN SAY IF HE COULD SEE YOU NOW
    ALL MOPING AROUND WITH YOUR LITTLE SAD FACES…? HMMM?
    THE SOUVENIR KIOSK IS JUST AROUND THE NEXT CORNER SO IF THAT DOESN’T PUT A SMILE ON YOUR FACES THEN NOTHING WILL…

    The visiting party press into the back of the hearse clutching
    stuffed puffins
    replica Kef cassettes
    teeth posters
    Cuban t-shirts
    Cinderella mohican wigs
    packets of hickory nuts
    wind up bohocopters
    and Zugzwang coasters
    drive down the silver sky tracks that run down the centre of the apiary

    On either side are single rows of perspex tanks containing the familiar forms of the cast
    of the television series most of the world has supposedly been following that winter
    Their naked bodies are concealed beneath white sheets
    only their dreaming faces are exposed, motionless except for the occasional fluttering eyelid
    each of them wired to hydraulic life support machines
    electrocardiograms beneath each tank bleeping quietly, tracing erratic heart beats

    From time to time, one of the actors have what appears to be a minor epileptic fit
    and the bleeps accelerate
    Boffins in swimming goggles and white lab coats are immediately on the scene
    noting bulletins on clipboards with squeaking felt tip pens
    intravenously inputting a spectrum of chemicals that instantly pacify the shuddering bodies

    IT’S JUST LIKE LIKE THE CRYPT whispers a ten year old Japanese boy eating an éclair

    The tourists are so awestruck that they forget to take pictures
    WE CALL THIS THE APIARY drawls Krill
    IT’S WHERE WE BRING THE CAST TO DREAM AND RECORD THESE ONTO FILM
    THEY ARE ALL LIGHTLY SEDATED PRE-RECORDING AND KEPT UNDER –
    SOME OF OUR PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS HAVE BEEN HERE SINCE WE COMMENCED FILMING SIX MONTHS AGO
    OTHERS ARE PUT UNDER AS AND WHEN THE STORY REQUIRES THEM
    ALL ARE HEAVILY BRIEFED WITH HYPNOSIS AND AUTO-SUGGESTION REGARDING THE PARTS THEY WILL PLAY, BUT AS IT ALL TAKES PLACE WITHIN A DREAM, WHAT YOU SEE ON YOUR TELEVISION SCREENS IS 100% IMPROVISED… ALBEIT HEAVILY EDITED

    A chubby diarist for a Sunday magazine crammed into an all-in-one lycra body-suit
    remembers to take a photograph just as the hearse is leaving
    but all she captures is the metallic blur of the Apiary doors closing behind them

    The final stop on the tour is a fleeting glimpse into the inner sanctuary of the production suite
    GUBBINS WOULDN’T BE PLEASED IF WE LINGER HERE TOO LONG Krill informs them
    porcupine spikes pricking through the back of his cape
    THIS IS WHERE OUR EDITING TEAM WINNOW THROUGH SPOOLS AND SPOOLS
    OF DREAM FOOTAGE IN SEARCH OF DATUM THAT FITS THE NARRATIVE
    ULTIMATELY GUBBINS AS DIRECTOR GETS THE LAST WORD ON WHAT GETS USED AND WHAT GETS ARCHIVED
    He points at a giant bank of boxes of reels
    labelled and dated and stacked to the ceiling
    THE ARCHIVES STRETCH BACK THERE FOR A NAUTICAL MILE
    AT LEAST THAT’S WHAT IT SAYS IN THE GUIDE BOOK
    He holds up a shimmering untitled brochure
    IT’S A WORK IN PROGRESS

    In the production suite, a team of technicians scroll through digital stills of a black samurai
    sitting in a spitfire pumping the air with his first
    WHO’S THAT? asks the ten year old kid and Krill shrugs

    THE FINAL EPISODE I PRESUME he tells them
    NOBODY KNOWS WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN
    NOT EVEN GUBBINS IF YOU BELIEVE ANYTHING HE SAYS
    BUT WE’RE EXPECTING FIREWORKS

    *

    A conference room inside the building:

    Krill stands on a small stage at the front saying
    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN
    PLEASE PUT YOUR HANDS TOGETHER FOR ZUGZWANG MOUSETRAP’S
    ILLUSTRIOUS DIRECTOR, KAMIKAZE GUBBINS, AND ONE OF THE REAL STARS OF THE SHOW – MISS SIBYL (mumbles)
    before bowing, porcupine spikes now fully visible hijacking the length of his body

    The visitors dotted around on plastic chairs in front of the stage clap enthusiastically
    as Gubbins and Sibyl enter stage left and sit down behind a long desk and microphones

    Gubbins looks pissed off
    hair tied up with weeds in a beige dragon-print dressing gown
    slumped into his seat

    Sibyl looks exactly like she does on screen
    gentle but composed, bottomless eyes taking in the room

    OKAY says Krill
    NOW YOU CAN TAKE THOSE QUESTIONS OUT FROM UNDER YOUR HATS

    A ripple of hands shoot up and Gubbins leans reluctantly forward to the microphone
    YOU –
    THE TWO-HEADED FREAK IN THE FRONT ROW

    The left head of the Siamese twins beams and excitedly stammers
    W-WILL YOU BE M-MAKING ANOTHER SERIES OF ZUGZWANG?

    NO says Gubbins
    OKAY, NEXT QUESTION
    YOU –
    THE FAT CHICK IN LYCRA, SECOND ROW

    The diarist flushes
    UM THANKS
    SIBYL, WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE INSIDE THE LABYRINTH? I MEAN
    GOODNESS… HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED AND HOW ARE YOU DEALING
    WITH YOUR NEW FOUND FAME FROM THE SHOW?

    Sibyl sits forward and laughs shyly
    HI
    WELL, FIRSTLY I GOT INVOLVED BY APPLYING FOR THE SHOW
    THEY WERE ADVERTISING FOR DAYDREAMERS
    AS FOR THE ACTUAL EXPERIENCE WELL,
    TO BE HONEST IT’S PRETTY AMAZING WATCHING BACK THE FOOTAGE
    I MEAN, IT’S JUST LIKE ANY DREAM
    WHEN YOU WAKE UP THERE ARE PARTS THAT YOU DON’T REMEMBER
    AND YEAH WELL, THERE’S SOME PRETTY EMBARRASSING SCENES…
    A titter skips through the audience
    I GUESS YOU KNOW WHAT SCENES I’M TALKING ABOUT
    AS FOR THE FAME WELL, I’LL HAVE TO TAKE YOUR WORD FOR THAT
    THE ENTIRE CAST LIVE HERE ON SITE UNTIL FILMING FINISHES…
    HOPEFULLY THIS WEEK SOMETIME?
    She turns to Gubbins who nods sagely, disinterestedly picking at his fingernails
    I’M JUST LOOKING FORWARD TO FLYING HOME TO SEE MY FAMILY
    AND I’LL BE TAKING BACK SOME TREACLE FOR MY MUM, JUST FOR FUN

    The visitors laugh and spontaneously start clapping and wolf-whistling
    Gubbins points at the ten year old kid
    OKAY YOU…
    I MEAN JESUS CHRIST
    WHAT KIND OF PARENTS LET A KID THAT AGE WATCH A SHOW LIKE THIS?
    GO AHEAD

    The boy swallows nervously asks
    SIBYL, HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOUR CHARACTER DIED?

    She smiles warmly says HEY THERE
    WELL… IT WAS SCARY I GUESS
    AND… DISAPPOINTING?
    BUT SOMETIMES THAT’S JUST THE WAY IT GOES

    ALRIGHT says Gubbins
    WOODY ALLEN IN THE BACK ROW
    [pointing at the journalist]

    The small balding man in thick black glasses sits forward thumbing through a notebook
    HI THERE, ELVIS EDISON OF THE HINTERLAND CHRONICLE
    JUST A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS IF YOU DON’T MIND

    Gubbins shrugs

    YOUR TOUR GUIDE MR KRILL INFORMS US THAT YOU BELIEVE A –
    [he checks his notes]
    OH YEAH, A GORILLA GORILLA VIRUS HAS SPREAD AMONGST CREW MEMBERS
    AND IS OBVIOUSLY CONSIDERED A SERIOUS ENOUGH THREAT THAT IT MERITS
    A VIROLOGY DEPARTMENT, AS WELL AS PATIENT QUARANTINE, AND FRANKLY BARBARIC HOLDING FACILITIES. IS GORILLA GORILLA CONTAGIOUS, AND ARE THE RELEVANT AUTHORITIES AWARE OF THE VIRUS?

    Gubbins’ eyes narrow and he hunches forward
    NO COMMENT
    OKAY, WHO’S NEXT?

    Elvis coughs and shouts out
    I’M SORRY, MR GUBBINS?
    DO YOU HAVE PROOF THAT THE VIRUS IS UNDER CONTROL?
    NO, ACTUALLY SO YOU HAVE PROOF THAT THE VIRUS EVEN EXISTS?

    Gubbins leans into the mic again and shouts over him
    FUCK YOU WOODY, NEXT QUESTION FROM SOMEONE ELSE PLEASE

    WELL LET’S TRY THIS ONE ON FOR SIZE yells Elvis Edison
    CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MOLLY AND LOUIS HEMINGWAY
    WHOSE FAMILY AND FRIENDS HAVE EXPLICITLY STATED THAT THEY HAVE BEEN REFUSED PERMISSION TO SPEAK TO THEM AND –

    DRUGGIES! snorts Gubbins

    – AND, WELL OKAY THEN, WHAT DO YOU SAY ABOUT THE FACT THAT SEVERAL OF YOUR LEADING ACTORS ARE CONVICTED FELONS? RUBINSTEIN? FRANCES TUCK? AND WE’RE NOT JUST TALKING HARMLESS CRIMES HERE, WE’RE –

    Gubbins rolls his eyes and looks to Krill standing off stage
    licking a wriggling newt
    FUCK’S SAKE KRILL, HOW DID THIS GUY SLIP THROUGH THE NET?

    Elvis is punching his notebook in furious indignation
    – WHAT ABOUT CEDRIC BEDLINGTON AND EDWARD RICKENBACKER? OR NATE BREWSKY OR MANFRED ‘MANNY’ STEINBOK? I COULD GO ON…
    At this point he has begun to unconsciously clamber over the row of chairs in front of him in an effort to get close to the director

    Gubbins remains poker-faced, mumbles KRILL…
    KRILL… PLEASE REMOVE WOODY FROM MY FACE

    Krill looks up, talcum powder sticking in lumps to his face as he chews on the head of the still wriggling newt and asks WHICH ONE IS WOODY?

    Sibyl is shooting extremely nervous glances in Gubbins’ direction
    She looks like someone who has just been told that she has been living in a prison for five months
    Gubbins gets to his feet impatiently and points at the mosquito-like little man
    still frantically buzzing away about corruption and theme parks
    KRILL! he barks
    But the clown doesn’t hear him
    he is scrabbling around beneath the chairs and kicking legs of the front row
    looking for a headless newt that slipped through his fingers and wriggled
    out of reach across the conference room floor
    FUCK! shouts Gubbins, his voice vortexing around as it leaps from the speakers
    IF YOU WANT A JOB DONE THEN INVARIABLY
    YOU HAVE TO DO IT YOURSELF!

    He pulls his walkie-talkie from the dressing gown pocket
    NYMPHETTA, ARE YOU THERE? OVER
    [simultaneously kicking Elvis Edison from his elevated position in the head
    sending him shooting backwards over the front row and landing
    in the TV critics’s lap]

    But he doesn’t get to hear if she is or not
    as the static crackle of delay gets broken
    by the leprechaun advertising technician
    bursting in through the rear doors screaming
    RUN FOR YOUR LIIIIIIVVVVEEEEESSSSSSS!

    *

    Outside in the atrium:

    A T-Rex roars surrounded
    by bodies swarming into the building
    and every one of them wears the face of Friar Tuck

    They rip through the building like a hurricane
    into the conference room, where Gubbins pulls a gun
    and bug-eyed points it, trembling as the seats are blown up into the air
    by the onslaught of Tucks
    and the tourists vanish into the sea of masks
    he shoots a Tuck between the eyes
    and the fat man rolls away moaning
    YOU FUCKING IDIOT
    I’M THE REAL…
    but he chokes on his own mortality
    before finishing the sentence
    and the T-Rex swallows poor Gubbins alive
    in one bite

    Tucks swing from a chandelier
    Tucks carry a bewildered prickly Krill on their shoulders singing
    the songs of the revolution
    Tucks in the jaw of the T-Rex weeping with joy
    A small Solomon Tuck standing on the table holding
    his fist aloft
    Tucks rolling on the carpet
    Tucks dragging Brewsky and Steinbok in Tuck masks to the hearse
    Tucks setting fire to the archives
    Tucks slapping each other on the back
    One Tuck with lop ears carrying a Tuck urchin jubilant on his shoulders
    and two Tucks lift a petrified Sibyl up by the elbows
    and carry her through to the Apiary

    Pulling off their masks she sees
    that one is Kef and the other is The Cuban
    both are smiling in the shimmering heat of battle
    as The Cuban pulls on a power handle shutting everything down
    Technicians in lab-coats headlessly screaming around
    as all around the bleeping tanks stop
    and the forms of flesh vanish before their eyes

    Before Sibyl knows what is happening to her
    they pull her to a wishing well at the far end of the room
    and push her down
    sliding in after her

    They run through a tunnel
    splashing in shallow black water towards the light
    and the tunnel opens out onto a white sandy beach at the foot of the Mountain
    the majestic sea
    and a ship
    called The Mardi

    They swim
    And are dragged onto the deck by frantic ghouls
    The Cuban embracing the old captain like they are brothers says
    WE NEED TO BE QUICK MIDAS
    ANY MOMENT NOW THE UNIVERSE WILL WAKE UP

    He reaches into his own chest and pulls out his bloody red heart
    falling like a doll to the floor
    Midas takes it in his trembling hands and says to Kef
    YOU, GO DOWNSTAIRS TO BUNKROOM 1
    AND LIE DOWN IN THE CLOUD COFFIN
    and to Sibyl he says
    AND YOU, GO TO BUNKROOM 8
    AND LIE DOWN ON THE BOTTOM BUNK
    I’LL HIDE THIS SOMEWHERE SAFE
    he says, staring at The Cuban’s heart
    with tears in his eyes

    The three of them stand motionless, while all around them the ghouls
    scurry around, lifting the anchor, rollerskating on tightropes strung up from the sails
    before Midas finally snaps
    WELL WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

    GO!
    GO!

    GO!

  31. 30 – IN FRONT OF A SUNSHINE MIRROR

    The vixens clash in the menagerie of Rubinstein’s penthouse suite
    They whorl and criss-cross like devilish cyclones
    decimating everything they touch
    Years of sisterhood, arguments over boys and lollipops
    teenage tantrums and a philosophical tug of war
    rage in the furnace, finally reaching
    a dysfunctional and inevitable conclusion

    Rubinstein sits nefariously in the eye of vengeance
    [CENSORED] while the girls wraith around him shrieking
    High on E-numbers, he kicks back in a king-sized jacuzzi
    while Laurelia hurls a kaolin basilisk
    and Gretel hits a sensational home run with a crow bar

    Rubinstein applauds in x-ray specs
    pumped full of anabolic steroids
    starts slapping on grease paint in front of a sunshine mirror

    Gretel lands in reflective petals on a rug
    stitched from Yeti fur and tears
    a chunk for a tourniquet, wrapping it around
    a bloody dismembered right hand
    YOU BITCH! drools her younger sister
    ALWAYS HAD TO BE RIGHT
    ALWAYS THE CLEVER ONE
    WITH YOUR LITTLE PHILANTHROPIST FRIENDS –
    WASN’T HARD TO SEE WHY YOU WERE DADDY’S FAVOURITE…

    She is a mangled caricature of her former immaculate self
    hair transmuted and tangled with blood, screaming with halitosis
    cricket bat pummelled into suds at her feet

    Gretel spits out a tooth and pukes up with exhaustion
    panting on the floor
    grabbing a long forgotten cup of cappuccino and catapulting it
    across the room in the general direction of her sister’s head
    YOU IGNORANT LITTLE SHIT she howls
    DAD HATED ME
    HATED THAT HIS DAUGHTER REJECTED THE BULLSHIT
    HE WAS PEDDLING…

    Rubinstein’s ears prick up as he holds his hands up to the light
    of a formidable auric moon in search of stigmata
    WOAH! STEADY ON THERE he evangelises
    I KNEW YOUR OLD MAN PERSONALLY AND HE WAS A GENIUS
    WAAAAAAY AHEAD OF HIS TIME…
    … GRANTED HE HAD A THING FOR CONSTITUTIONAL SWASTIKAS
    BUT LET’S STEP BACK A MOMENT AND LOOK WHAT HE DID FOR THIS BLOATED COUNTRY –
    CORPORAL PUNISHMENT IN EVERY STATE
    PREMATURELY RUBBER-STAMPED THE DEATHS OF NEARLY A MILLION PRISONERS OF WAR
    SMASHED THE TRADE UNIONS WITH SLOGANS AND CLOSET LOBOTOMIES…
    IN MANY WAYS HE KICKED OPEN THE DOORS OF POSSIBILITY
    FOR OUR PROTEAN REGIME OF THE NOW –
    ANARCHIC CAPITALISM KIDS
    IN THE MORNING WE WILL WAKE UP AND DRINK
    THE VERY ESSENCE OF PARADISE
    ASSUMING THAT IS, THAT OUR DEPOPULATION TARGETS ARE MET
    THE LAST OF THE RED TAPE IS CUT
    AND THE WEIRDOS DON’T MIRACULOUSLY TURN EVERYTHING UPSIDE DOWN
    BEFORE THEY BLOW US ALL UP INTO MULCH…

    WHAT DO YOU MEAN BLOW US UP? asks Gretel
    climbing to her feet silhouetted across a luminous roulette wheel
    hanging on the wall

    NUKE US says Rubinstein
    WELL TECHNICALLY NUKE YOU –
    MYSELF AND YOUR KID SISTER HAVE A STRATOSPHERIC PACKAGE HOLIDAY
    CAREFULLY PLANNED
    He glances at the moon dial on his wrist
    WE’RE LEAVING IN APPROXIMATELY ONE MINUTE
    IF YOU WANT TO SAY YOUR GOODBYES

    Gretel distracted senses a sudden shift in cadence
    and barely sees Laurelia on stilts
    floating across the room
    she feels
    the killer blow in the middle of her chest and smashes
    into a hurdy-gurdy losing altitude, sputtering out

    Eyes closed, she hears
    the clicking of her sister stepping towards her
    and the azure ceremonial miasma of shadow
    as a stilt glides over her face
    ready to fall and stamp her out like a flea

    DO IT urges Rubinstein
    the imminent incubus
    releasing a stepladder that leads to the cockpit in the attic

    Gretel feels the hulking ossified shadow immobile
    inches from her sallow upturned cheekbone

    I SAID FUCKING DO IT! barks Rubinstein

    From a billion light years away
    Gretel hears her little sister’s tears
    timelessly pooling in her delinquent lime eyes
    JUST DO IT she whispers
    rolling onto her back exposing
    the damaged catastrophe of a rib-cage

    I CAN’T… whimpers Laurelia
    still poised over her

    FUCK’S SAKE shout Rubinstein
    IF YOU WANT A JOB DONE…

    But he doesn’t finish the sentence
    The lift door whooshes open
    and Cinderella steps out
    dressed as a kissogram
    with plater in her hair
    pregnant and pointing a revolver

    She remembers the smell of the penthouse
    Sliding across the floor
    and the violence of sparks
    in her misshapen heart

    While Laurelia begins to smile, she fires
    Rubinstein watching the bullet in slow motion
    striking the girl on stilts in the face
    hears the footsteps of the laundrette assistant
    quickly across the floor, standing over Gretel
    and fires two more bullets emotionlessly
    into her

    BABY says Rubinstein, holding out his arms

    Cinderella’s head finds a space upon his heartless chest
    and they climb together
    up into the attic

    YOU WON’T REGRET THIS HASHANAH he says to her
    firing up the spacecraft
    I’VE CHANGED
    YOU WAIT AND SEE
    AND I’LL START BY BUILDING YOU AN ICE RINK IN THE STARS

    She leans against the window and watches
    the earth receding
    as Hoodoo Towers collapses away beneath them
    and the rocket tears up through the firmament

    A couple of blocks away
    a little chimney sweep
    covered in soot
    clutching a divining rod and invitations
    stops in his tracks
    and turns back
    implicitly knowing that he was a lifetime too late
    to turn back the hands of fate

  32. 31 – SMILES EUPHONICALLY

    Daybreak

    Eerily bereft of dawn chorus

    The empty red carpet rolls
    up the steps to the nuthouse door
    Crumbs, corks, and headless dandelion stalks
    discarded by the cognoscenti flow away with the bathwater
    In the distance a lonely bagpiper skirls
    across the benighted rooftops of the slumbering city

    Hanging on either side of the door are giant nova teeth posters
    advertising “Smally’s Dream #5: Zugzwang Mousetrap”
    (Final Episode, screening exclusively tonight)

    So up the steps we go, hand in hand
    and a brass band plays scrambled singalong feel-good songs from the 1960s
    The sensation of impending checkmate intensifies in the belly
    and the daredevils take aspirins while their bivouacs blow away in the breeze
    The watching world is temporarily mesmerised.

    Inside the atrium:

    the abyss of an old abandoned theatre has been recreated
    with seats ripped out of stock cars
    filled with apostles snuggling together awaiting the last kiss of gospel on the desolate stage
    The aquamarine lights go down and we sit in a trance staring at the audacious holograms that parachute down from the glass ceiling
    Destiny is crayoned in space. Words that pulse like distant quasars

    A cherub’s voice counts down from ten to zero
    and we hold our coincidental breath

    The words fade to black

    And the lights go up

    We sit there in limbo
    for a fascinating voiceless moment

    The ripples of confusion
    begin in sign language
    a composition of shrugs
    and heads freewheeling around

    A murmur of buzzwords
    malfunction
    malfunction
    it swells in a matter of seconds
    to the brute force of yodelling

    Nobody notices the chimney sweep
    getting out of his seat and walking
    slowly down the corridor between the two halves of the audience

    They are too busy howling like neanderthals at the farce
    throwing screwdrivers and starfish
    using each other as human shields
    while sucker punches are buried in backs

    *

    The chimney sweep kicks open the door of the nuthouse
    and steps outside
    leaving the havoc of hidden agendas
    and the bonfire of a hatchet job cliffhangers behind him

    He breathes the cool air and looks up
    sees the Black Baron passing
    over the sublime morning sun in his spitfire
    pumping his fist as he drops
    a ball of pure light

    It explodes on the red carpeted steps beneath the chimney sweep
    and immediately the flowers start growing

    Up through the marble and asphalt
    a forest of flowers
    swallowing cars in kaleidoscopic colours
    blooming in the graveyards
    in the shopping malls
    in the beds of pawns
    and in all the places that people
    ever forgot existed

    And the chimney sweep sees this
    and smiles euphonically

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