Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Guangzhou Twins of Guangdong

The man in the hat stood facing Lords Laundry, the lamplight flickering on and on and off. He dare not step foot inside as he owed the proprietor 27 cents for two laundered shirts, a blue one and a pinstriped one. The blue shirt he wore on Thursdays and Fridays, the pinstriped one Mondays, Tuesdays and every other Saturday. On Sundays and Wednesdays he wore a sweater, knit for him by a woman with whom he was presently unacquainted. The woman who knit his sweater, with whom he was currently unacquainted, was wed to one Albert Simms, an ashen fleshed man with bitten down fingernails.

He wore a whores’-breath nosegay in his jacket lapel and a pair of down-at-the -heel shoes, much to his wife’s moroseness. When Albert Simms was a boy his mamma told him that bad boys go to hell and good boys get to go to the moving picture show. He disliked his mamma, preferring candy allsorts, which he stole from the convenience shop on the corner of 5th and Seventeen. The man in the hat, his hat cradled in his lap, sat next to a man whom he believed to be a bicycle thief. The man was carrying a pair of wire-snips and a can of clean all, for scrubbing away telltale fingerprints, or so the man in the hat believed.

The Oost-Vlaanderen brothers of Sint-Niklaas made saltboxes, one per person, two if you could argue them to the ground. The Guangzhou twins of Guangdong lived off whatever they could salvage from the dustbins behind the Guangdong Grocery, the eldest foraging for scrap paper, as he fancied himself a poet. The Bayern triplets of Munich were, all three, skilled at ball the jack, playing the game wherever they found themselves to be. The Brno sisters of Jihomoravsky Kraj lived off the avails of whoring, all four sisters well versed at knavery and giving men what they desired. No one knows what they desire until it hits them in the face, the men of Jihomoravsky Kraj being no exception. Dejesus, on one of his many treks outside the outside, met the Brno sisters when visiting a sick aunt who lived, and perished, in Jihomoravsky Kraj. Availing himself of the sisters travails, Dejesus found what he desired, Jihomoravsky thighs jiggling on top of his smiling face.

The sun broke through the clouds like a thief through a locked door, filling the blue morning sky with a fiery fieriness. The man in the hat sat facing Lords Laundry, daring himself to retrieve his newly laundered shirts, a blue one and a pinstriped one. The proprietor of the laundry, a fat man with fat fingers, sat behind the counter chewing his cud, his face starched stiff, his thoughts hoodwinked with uneasiness and sad reverie. ‘…never underestimate the power of bare…’ said the proprietor to his assistant, a courteous young lad with pockmarked skin and a French moustache. ‘…don’t you mean prayer…?’ inquired the assistant, his moustache twitching. ‘…prayer is for ninnies…’ said the proprietor, his voice booming. The assistant crept to the door leading to the back of the shop and slid unnoticed into the back room, the proprietor quibbling with himself about too much starch and too little bleach.

Treacle Sweet

Dos Campos Deus sisters from Los Paso Los Pesos distilled treacle sweet wine from apple skins and sour bulbar, the sourness hard-pressed from the skins with a hand-cranked churn. The sisters slept in a bunkhouse with four cots and four billycans, one for each of the four sisters. Mortimer Gall worked for the Dressers Meat Packing Co. where he was in charge of headcheese and unsavory viands. The Dressers Meat Packing Co. was in business with the Dos Campos Deus sisters (from Los Paso Los Pesos), the sisters providing the Dressers Meat Packing Co. with treacle sweet wine, the Dressers Meat Packing Co. supplying the sisters with viands and headcheese.

It was Mortimer Gall’s job to ensure that the Dos Campos Deus sisters met their obligation, and if they didn’t, to cajole and sweet-talk them into it, something he did more oft than not as the sisters had no mind for business or quibbling. The Liepaja Stepbrothers (of Latvia) were in cahoots with the Kista Brothers (of Stockholms Lan) who were in cahoots with the Jacosta Bollocks Sisters, who were in cahoots with the Helsinki beggar who was in cahoots with Dos Campos Deus sisters who, not caring a tinker’s cuss about forthrightness, were in cahoots with Mortimer Gall, who’s job it was to cajole and sweet-talk them into fulfilling their obligation to the Dressers Meat Packing Co., where he was the head of headcheese and unsavory viands.

When she was a girl Lela’s grandmamma told her about Dos Campos Deus sisters and how they stole little girls and put them to work in their distillery. She said that when the little girls got too frail and weakly the sisters sold them to Mortimer Gall, who put them to work cleaning the floor of the slaughterhouse. Those girls who were fortunate enough to sneaked away told tales about pins the size of railroad ties and men with massive heads and droopy eyes chiseling away at cows’ heads with cross-saws and cleavers. Lela promised she wouldn’t stray too far from the house, her grandmamma cautioning her against wearing pretty dresses and high-heel shoes, as Dos Campos Deus sisters fancied treacle sweet things and unbridled flesh. In the town of Bury Saint Edmunds, behind the Taegu-jikhalsi Apothecary, the Daegu sisters sold scented handkerchiefs and silky gloves, the sisters singing the claims of sweet smelling toilet water and calf-soft leather. Lela never went out when the sky looked like it would rain, not wanting to ruin her favorite shoes or get splashed by a wayward listing oxcart or a bicycle thief.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Taegu-jikhalsi Apothecary

The Waymart sold greatcoats and smallcoats, boots (cobbled from cowhide and rubber), fishmonger sweaters (knit from goats’ wool and hair) and a range of hats, all of which the man in the hat owned or would one day own. From behind the Waymart, hidden in between the dustbins and bailed cardboard, a voice yelled ‘…¡pare eso hollering, por favor!...’ then a second ‘…einde dat dat, tevreden schreeuwt!...’ and a third ‘…stoppen sie brüllendes das, bitte!...’ Then a moment of calm, after which a voice hollered ‘…wo ist der Mann im Hut?...’ then a second ‘…ja, waar is de man in de hoed?...’ and third ‘…sí, el hombre en el sombrero…’. Dejesus, standing cocksfooted under the Waymart clock tower, said ‘…away with you; this is a place of commerce, have you no manners...’.

A scream came across the sky, einde dat, tevreden schreeuwt! With nowhere to run, nor legs to do so if he had, the legless man crawled under the Seder Grocer’s awning, his heart pounding. Stamped on the box next to him, sopped with water and vinegar, was Ballester’s Red Leaf Beets, Ein Gutes Borscht! Gerade Wie Mutter Bildete! Rooted in with the discarded boxes and trash the legless man sat thinking of the why’s and what for’s of his legless life. A second scream came across the sky, stoppen sie brüllendes das, bitte! the legless man tightening his grip on the cuffs of his belled trousers. In the town of Bury Saint Edmunds behind the Taegu-jikhalsi Apothecary the Daegu sisters were in cahoots with the Arkhangel'sk sisters. Both sisters were in cahoots with the man who laid sod at the Mágoa dor Coração Bowling de Gramado e Campo de Golfe.

Why the legless man thought this now, hunkered beneath the awning tugging on the cuffs of his trousers, was a mystery, peculiar. But then again thinking was something he did as a last resort, a way to bide his time when nothing else was at hand other than his thoughts, which he thought recklessly and with little regard for proper grammar or syntax. Had he an option, any option, he’d have done something other than think, as thinking led to thoughts and thoughts led to other thoughts and thinking to more thinking until he felt like deaf man with an unwanted tune in his head or a blind man with an image in his mind’s eye that won’t go away, blink as he might.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lucian Freud - Interview (Part 1/5)

The Kyonggi-do Twins of Bucheon

The man in the hat awoke to a Nile brown sky, the morning air thick with bluebottles and winged gnats. A cigarette left smoldering filled the lean-to with a croupade of gray-blue smoke, his eyes squinting to see beyond the pale. Awaking in a fug the man in the hat began his day as he usually did, with little effort and slowness of wit, his thoughts on extinguishing the smoldering cigarette, pounding it into the billycan, ash to ash, then preparing a simple breakfast which he ate from the comfort of his cot, spooning mouthfuls of gruel and cream into the trap of his mouth, the room abuzz with bluebottles and winged devils.

That morning he was to meet with the rector Rezekne to discuss to whom should go the job of repairing the roof in the sanctuary: the dogmen, who no one in their right mind could trust, or the Vaslui twins, known far and wide for their skill at roofing and taxonomy. The Kyonggi-do twins from Bucheon, though good hands at tiling and retarring, spoke very little English, and what English they did speak was pigeon and illogical. Today was the day that Dejesus was due back in town with news of the Feast of Don Sebastián and Morelos Yautepec Morelos, who’s booth was two booths down from Fernando De La Mora, known for her mouth-watering Lisboa Cod and savory mincemeat pies. Ships Day 1957 Morelos Yautepec Morelos set up her booth in the town square in front of the Waymart, where she sold lo puede salsa tomar ne diabético, par sirve para bajar de peso and flatbread sandwiches, making a fuss over the man in the hat and a dog with a crushed snout.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bartolomé Sureda y Miserol

Telford and Wrekin worked for the Basingstoke Brothers who were in cahoots with the Malsch Balzan Stepbrothers who sold recycled crankcases and engine blocks. Telford and Wrekin lived in a two-room walkup around the corner from the Greek Deli, Telford, the larger of the two, sleeping on the first floor, Wrekin on the second floor alcove next to a picture of Quogue McQuee, the founder of McQuee’s Spirit Gum. Dejesus’ mamma Alma swore up and down that she knew Telford and Wrekin, but not by those names; having met them at The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus where they introduced themselves as Arbuckle and Urmston. The Malsch Balzan Stepbrothers she knew as the Telford brothers, and Basildon Hebei as Basildon Moorhen.

In attendance at The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus that day were: Dona Isabel de Porcel, Bartolomé Sureda y Miserol, Dona Teresa Sureda, Antonia Zárate, Francisca Sabasa y Garcia, Dona María Tomasa Palafox, Marquesa de Villafranca, Count Fernán, Núnez Manuel Godoy, Duke of Alcudia La Maja, Desnuda La Maja Vestida, José Antonio, Marqués de Caballero Maja and Celestina Dona Narcisa, Baranana de Goicoechea, Juan Antonio Llorente, Pepito Costa y Bonells, Juan Antonio Cuervo, Tiburcio Pérez y Cuervo, Doctor Arrieta Tío Paquete, Don Sebastián, Gabriel de Borbón y Braganza, Ramón Satué and Juan Bautista de Maguire, none with whom Dejesus’ mother was acquainted.

Morelos Yautepec Morelos set up her booth at the Feast of Don Sebastián, where she sold lo puede salsa tomar ne diabético, par sirve para bajar de peso. Two booths down from Morelos Yautepec Morelos Fernando De La Mora sold Lisboa Cod wrapped in brown sausage paper tied with a red ribbon. Dejesus looked from side to side then walked genteelly towards the statue of Magot de Valor, his mamma’s tapioca pudding dancing in his thoughts.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Day De Cauca Guacar Died

In Stuttgart-Wurttemberg a man with gambol-leg skips across the midway, not sure which way is east, which west. Lifting himself up from the ground, as he had fallen, teetering, moments before, he opens the door to the haberdashers, the bell over the transom tinkling. ‘…what can I do for you my dear man…?’ inquires the stout haberdasher. ‘…can you measure me for a new pair of trousers please…?’ says the man. Valle del Cauca, the sole proprietor and tailor of the Urmston Men’s Haberdashery, looks the man up and down, eyeballing his former tailor’s handiwork. ‘…perhaps something with pleats and longer in the leg…’ he offers, the man gazing down at his trousers. ‘…or a wider fob with silver threading…’. Turning to leave the man says‘…fobs and longer legs, pure madness…’. Her feet square to the curb the harridan watches the man leave the haberdashers, his feet making quick with the pavement. The man trips ass over head, the door slamming loudly behind him, the sole proprietor biding him a not so fond farewell. Gamboling he heads up the midway, trousers whistling.

Basildon Hebei and Dejesus set out to find the missing whore’s glove, the Witness (the pamphleteer, the desecrator of simple things) hot on their heels. Dejesus met Basildon Hebei at The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus where the Flabiol Cobla Trio played for a salt of foot stomping enthusiasts. The harridan’s sister, sitting in the grove under the statue of Magot de Valor, wept for joy, the flabiol player eying her amorously from atop the carousel stage, the Xeremier striking a manly pose, the tamboril keeping the trio in sync. Turning, Dejesus said ‘…life is a funny old dog…’. ‘…yes, a funny old dog...’ replied Basildon Hebei. ‘…I had a dog once…’ said Dejesus. ‘…a funny old dog…? asked Basildon Hebei. ‘…a firecracker of a dog…’ replied Dejesus, the flabiol player ogling the harridan’s sister from the carousel stage.

The day De Cauca Guacar died Dejesus went hunting for turtles behind the pumphouse. He remembered De Cauca laid out in the saltbox, the deacon sermonizing about De Guacar’s time in Valle del Aizkraukles where he worked for the Arbuckle Steamship Company. De Cauca Guacar died on the 4th of July 1964 from whooping and a persistent fever, further complicated by a rotten tooth left to fester and rankle. De Cauca, as he went by De Guacar, De Cauca and De Cauca Guacar, lived out the last years of his miserable life working for the Liepaja Stepbrothers (of Latvia) loading up the boot of their car with old shoes and heel supports, the stepbrother’s paying him with bootblack and tinned flatfish.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jalisco Bielsko Wadowice

The Babcock brothers made trilbies, fedoras and billycock hats, the billycock being one of their most valued sellers. The man in the hat, now aware of the billycock, went in search of the Babcock brothers, hoping as he did to purchase one of their most valued hats. Were it not for the book he’d never have known such a glorious hat existed; and exist it did, on the heads of men far and wide, all except he, but his good fortune was changing, his destiny in the hands of two brothers named Babcock.

His hat cleverly placed on his lap, the man in the hat waited for the light to turn green. Not accustom to waiting he began to whistle, Jalisco Bielsko Wadowice el Greco God bless amen. He lowered his head, moocowmoocowmoo, his feet skipping gaily, his hat sitting dashingly on the top of his head. He cooked eggs and ham, two slices of rye toast and a glass of Ogeechee orange juice. His granddad liked griddlecakes with syrup.

He worked in the cowshed ciphering the sums that appeared to him as if from God. The Belm sisters sat on a bench outside the cowshed figuring ways to get his granddad’s attention, the littlest Belm sister twirling a baton, the biggest running a comb through her hair. The Babcock brothers sped past, the eldest brother waving from the passenger side window. The littlest dogman, crouching, yelled ‘…Où est le MOO MOO de vache…?’ the brothers gunning the corner at breakneck speed.

The shamble leg man let out a yip, his foot caught between the lamppost and the curbside. ‘…onde é o MOO MOO da vaca…?’ yelled the littlest dogman, his face red with blood. The alms man sat cross-legged in front of the library waiting for the sky to fall crashing into his lap. To the right of him, his mouth rounded into a perfect O, sat the legless man, the pressure in his head exceeding 227½ kilopascals. ‘…why…’ wept the legless man, ‘…why me…?’

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Like an Imbecile's Face

Lela tied her hair up with a ribbon and smoothed the wrinkles in her skirt. Today she was going to visit the man who made whalebone corset stays, his handiwork coveted by corset makers far and near. Her grandmother wore a corset morning noon and night, the weight and heft of her bosoms too much to bare unaided. She cinched the hammock strings round the small of her back, never quite mastering a bow or a stiff knot. She slept on her side, face pressed into the mattress, her bosom ballasted against the bed frame. Upon awaking each morning she rolled onto her back, and levering her arms under her hips hoisted herself from bed, the side of her face quilted with eider feathers. The corset maker, a sober man with blue brown eyes, paid home visits, measuring her grandmother for the latest in corset ware. He drew chalk-lines round her bosom and shoulders, making sure to measure off the distance between her shoulder blades, lest one, being lower than the other, set her off kilter or to one side. The Rosario Corset Co., known far and wide for their fit-to-order corsets and corset accessories, used only the finest whalebone. They hawked corsets and corset accessories from their table at the church bazaar, the basement frantic with bosomy woman and fat children.

The man in the hat found a book under the floorboards. He began reading, his eyes tracing words and squiggles across the page, It was one of those head-gears of composite order, in which we can find traces of the bearskin, shako, billycock hat, sealskin cap, and cotton night-cap; one of those poor things, in fine, whose dumb ugliness has depths of expression, like an imbecile's face. Oval, stiffened with whalebone, it began with three round knobs; then came in succession lozenges of velvet and rabbit-skin separated by a red band; after that a sort of bag that ended in a cardboard polygon covered with complicated braiding, from which hung, at the end of a long thin cord, small twisted gold threads in the manner of a tassel. The cap was new; its peak shone…
[1]. He placed the book on the night-table next to his cot, and musing said ‘…a billycock, I must get myself one of those…’.

[1] Gustav Flaubert, Madam Bovary

Monday, November 17, 2008

Requeijão Checo

He started the day reading from a book with a torn cover and thumb-stained pages. One learns very little here [at the Institute], there is a shortage of teachers, and none of us boys of the Benjamenta Institute will come to anything, that is to say, we shall be something very small and subordinate later in life.[1] The author of the ragged and thumb-stained book, a gloomy depressant, had lived in one of the many insane asylums that bespeckled the mountains overlooking the town below. After he’d read a passage or two, which he did more than once, as he mistrusted his ability to retain what he’d read, he threw the book onto the floor, hissing and grumbling like a cracked water heater. Most days started like this, never with a handshake or a pleasant how do you do, which he’d have happily reciprocated with an outstretched hand and a friendly fine thank you kindly, but with uncommon words and hocky syllogisms.

He liked boysenberry jam and cod cheeks. Most days he ate whatever was in the larder, soda biscuits and tinned fish, sardines and tuna, requeijão checo, which he bought from the Greek Deli, and day-old bread. He ate whenever he felt hungry, filling the hole in his belly until the feeling went away. His granddad ate blue steak and half-cooked mutton, spring lamb and salted white fish. He covered everything in Mickelson’s Horse Radish, cutting his food into bite-size pieces no bigger than the end of his thumb. His granddad drank Irish Porter, a full glass for lunch and supper, a half for breakfast, letting the ale settle before gulping it down, claiming Porter was best drank at room temperature and with no head. He remembered the stern look on his grandmamma’s face, and how she never said anything twice, expecting you to pay attention the first time.

‘…there’s nothing like fresh eggs and ham…’. He often spoke to himself with the hope of garnering an interest in what he had to say. As he seldom said anything of importance, he garnered very little. He once spoke with the littlest dogman, inquiring if he had the exact time. The littlest dogman, seeing that he had been fooled into listening to someone of mean to middling interest, flipped him off with a snicker and a jeer. That evening he skillet fried kidney with onion and wild garlic, forking tiny forkfuls into his mouth, eager to savor the sweet urine tang of organ meat and ground vegetable. He recalled an evening some 100 years past when his grandmamma made a savory meat pie, crimping the edges with a fork, the pie flaking on the bulb of his tongue. He recalled many such things, things not all that interesting, but remembered just the same. Dejesus left the park and headed southward, his greatcoat coattails flapping as he strode.

The day had began with a visit to the overseers to oversee what he’d overseen the night before. In the park behind the Waymart Dejesus saw a man with an overly large head talking with a man with an overly small head, the two comparing the size of each other’s head. Finding this of mean to middling interest, he stopped to listen, paying heed to the words they used to describe their heads. ‘…mine is oblong and squarish…’ said the overly large headed man. ‘…and mine rhomboidal and roundish…’ said the overly small headed man, both men comparing the size of their heads with the aid of a plumb string. ‘…were it to start raining…’ said the man with the overly small head, ‘…I could protect my head with an oak leaf, not one drop of rain hitting the top of my head…’. ‘…and I…’ said the man with the overly large head, ‘…could find refuge under the Seder grocer’s awning, the warm smell of baked bread taunting my nose…’. Having declared the benefits of having a head of their size, both men went their separate ways, heads jaunting as they went, Dejesus heading southwesterly, the sun just below the northernmost tip of the horizon.
[1] Robert Walser, Jakob von Gunten

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Malcontent and the Cretin

The headstone stuck out of the wet earth like a cook's knife, the deceased’s name chiseled into the granite face, the first and last names barely legible. The shamble leg man walked round the grave, his feet sinking into the loose wet earth, the sky puling and wailing like a lost child. The earth cinched round his ankles, grave water and old bone seeping in through a hole in his boot. Overnight in the overnight asylum the shamble leg man played craps with a cretin and a malcontent. The malcontent won sparingly the cretin narrowly and the shamble leg man scarcely. The Waldau brothers watched the men pound the die off the dining room wall. The eldest, Gordy, dressed in a white linen suit buttoned to his Adam’s apple, counting off the number of times the cretin hit double sixes. Horace, the youngest of the two brothers, dressed in funereal jacket and matching trousers, the cuffs frayed and tattered, held his breath every time the malcontent got ready to throw, fearing he might pound one off the wall and into his mouth, whereupon he feared he might swallow it, mistaking it for a sugar cube or a Scotch mint. After the shamble leg man tired of pounding die off the dining room wall, he left the cretin, the malcontent and the Waldau brothers behind, biding them a cold adieu, the cretin pulling at the corners of his mouth like sad clown. The headstone stuck out of the wet earth like a cook's knife, the deceased’s name chiseled into the granite face, the first and last names barely legible. The shamble leg man, stopping to tie his boot, looked down at the wet earth and said ‘…never judge a book by its cover, it’ll only make you sad with regret…’. The next day, at 27½ past the hour, he started out on his daily walk, not quite sure where he was going or when he’d be back, a cold drizzle raining down upon his naked head.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Möbius Twins

The Möbius twins lived behind the Waymart, the eldest, Martin, had curly hair, the youngest, Max, short wavy hair. They plundered the bins behind the Waymart looking for other people’s half-eaten food, some so half-eaten it fell apart in their hands: old sandwiches and pies, soggy mince meat tarts and half-digested cake, half-full pop cans and milk cartons, the dross and leftovers of people with full stomachs and notched down belts. Martin slept with both eyes closed, dreaming of a full stomach, Max with one eye open, thinking of a way out.

The Möbius twins, by way of Wallsend by way of Evington, came from a long line of Nyírség Catholics from the village of Szilágyság in eastern Jókai, know for their strong opinions and even stronger dislike of Protestants and Calvinists. Their great-great great grandfather, a solemn man with a stern outward appearance, was a member of the Jókaiesque’s Brethren, a group of Dadaists who met every second Sunday in the basement of the Church of the Holy Sinner. Between 1878-1933 their great-great great grandfather worked as a porter for the Nyíregyháza Railroad Co., a job he took to support his heavy drinking and fondness for Egyptian whores and ball the jack, a game the Dadaists played every third Sunday, the first and fourth being reserved for pinochle and gin respectively. Their great-great great grandmother, an angry wretch with a full head of shoeblack hair, worked as a scullery maid for the Baumgarten Arms (27½ Unikornis Könyvkiadó, beside the Catalan Apothecary) the only hotel in Szilágyság that offered roasted mutton with mint jelly on the dinner menu.

The day before the sky fell the Möbius twins found a whore’s glove behind the aqueduct behind the Seder Grocer. Martin stuffed the glove into his coat pocket, saying to his brother ‘…this ought to be worth something…’. The twins headed northeasterly towards the elephantine mountains, over the ridge and across the valley below, their thoughts on old sandwiches and pies, soggy mince meat tarts and half-digested cake, half-full pop cans and milk cartons, the smell of burnt hair and piss assaulting their senses.

The Witness witnessed a boy jacking a ball running waywardly across the sideways, a look of bewilderment on his red russet face. The boy, stopping to look both ways, ran sideways, his feet shuffling like a card deck missing a Jack, his face getting redder and redder, the ball and jack swiveling out of control in front of him. ‘…young man…’ hollered the Witness, as he was a good 27½ rods behind the boy, ‘…can I give you a hand…?’ The boy, his face now redder than a plucked apple, said ‘…go fuck yourself, fucking witness bastard…’. The Witness, his face redder than a flaming bush, lowered his head and trundled down the sideways, the boy yipping and laughing as he went. The Möbius twins, standing under the sky, the sun getting heavier and heavier, motioned for the boy to come hither. ‘…what’s with the ball and jack…?’ asked Martin, Max squinting, his eyes focused on sun, which was hidden behind the Waymart clock spire. The boy, stopping to catch his breath, wheezing, said ‘…beat it fuck heads, before I cuffs you both up side of the head…’. At hearing this, the twins, huffing and wheedling, headed southwesterly, the sun falling like a Black Sicklebill into the grave of night.

Rouleau de Beaulieu

That night the alms man slept like a puny weakling, arms and legs tucked into the sheets, eyes fluttering. He dreamt he lived with his great granny and three measly dogs, one with three legs, one with one ear and one with a corkscrew tail. His job was to brush the dogs, untangling burrs and dried shit from their coats. His great granny rewarded him with soda biscuits and jam and 25 cents to buy penny candy. He bought black licorice cigars and Mojos, Popeye cigarettes and sour balls, real Indian chewing tobacco and wax cigars filled with grape juice, whip licorice, in black, red and orange, shoestring licorice, black balls and jawbreakers. He liked cheese, Rouleau De Beaulieu and Saaland Pfarr, Saint-Marcellin, Rabacal and Rocamadour, Petit-Suisse, Peekskill Pyramid and Pave du Berry, Oschtjepka and Palet de Babligny, Menallack Farmhouse, Leerdammer and Le Fium Orbo. His great granny bought mild cheddar and sandwich slices, day-old Swiss and marble, nothing extravagant or savory. He smoked hand-rolled shag and pipe tobacco, stolen from his granddad’s cob, the one he smoked after supper and on Tuesday evenings. He ate as much candy as he could stomach, stuffing his pockets with Mojos and black licorice babies, his waistband courting his belly. He watched his great granny make blood sausage, the kitchen rank with burnt hair and piss, her hands red as slaughter.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Los Casa Grande Cochineal

His head ached like a leg caught in a bear trap. Last night while everyone who could slept, the alms man sat under a fat yellow moon counting backwards to 1000, penance for all those nights puling between saltlick thighs, love-struck with the wound that gave breath to life. He dreamt of los Casa Grande Cochineal and the night he drew blood from a pimp's lip. He dreamt of a time when a lady of the evening was worth a fistfight and a blackened eye. He had memories of bad memories, whitefish salad and stinkweed gin. He dreamed he was falling awake, his eyes spackled to the back of his skull, a paperweight heaviness in his arms and legs.

The alms man awoke with a stitch in his side, his alms cap turned brim-side up, his arms and legs pinned to his cardboard mat. ‘…what a horrid night…’ he said to himself, the hardness of the world biting and stinging and swiping at the top of his head. The florist Beeves makes Quirt-stemmed nosegays, stems and blossoms to tickle the fancy. Ignacio Boston dreamed he was the florist Beeves, pinning together eye-fetching bouquets and nosegays. In his thoughts the alms man thought up imaginary people with imaginary jobs, florists and quay-popes and people with flashy coats and unfashionable shoes. (In Ituzaing children dance round a crackling bonfire, Druid waifs, whore awe whore awe!, madfooting round and round, the flames flickering, crackling).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Flabiol Cobla Trio

When Lela was a little girl her grandmamma met a muleteer on the road leading from there to here. The muleteer, a swine with a colossal head, asked Lela’s grandmamma how to get from there to here. Lela’s grandmamma, her eyes blinking said ‘…its all the same, here or there…’. …Oh…said the muleteer, ‘…neither here nor there…?’ ‘…yes…’ said Lela’s grandmamma, ‘…neither either…’. With that the muleteer went on his way, neither here nor there, nor somewhere or nowhere. Lela remembered how here grandmamma spoke in a low hushed voice when she talked about ‘them times’, times that were neither here nor there, there nor here, but somewhere in the beyond, beyond. ‘…my dear...’ she said grumbling, ‘…you will never get anywhere other than there, and there, no one wants to be…’.

One morning, after rubbing the night’s furies from her eyes, Lela left home for ‘there’. The first place she arrived at was Sapientia, a small northerly village with a population of 27, perhaps 29 people, all of who were goat shepherds except for an old woman with black hair and blacker eyes. After staying on in the village for a few days, where she tended the old woman’s cankers and boils, Lela moved on, arriving at Mrida, a northwesterly village with a population of 29, perhaps 30, the smallest to the biggest no bigger than a lapdog. Leaving the village of people no bigger than lapdogs, Lela arrived at the gates of Norrbottens Pite, a turreted town surrounded by a ditch deeper than the deepest ocean. She stayed on there, helping the people slough the guck and death from the ditch, for 30 days, being rewarded for her toil with a carpetbag full of whore’s gloves, some so striking and bejeweled Lela thought they’d been given to her by mistake, and offering to return them was shooed away by an old woman with black teeth and an impulsive tick.

The village band was made up of a Xeremier, his flabiol player and tamboril, together they were known as the Flabiol Cobla Trio. They played in the square in the middle of town, surrounded by marble statuary and a wildflower garden. The flabiol player, Don de Monde, played facing the courtyard, the tamboril, Vivo Vico, crouching under a winding hibiscus bush, and the Xeremier, Ibanez the Great, standing with his back to the crowd, all three playing with joyous abandon. The Flabiol Cobla Trio were to play at The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus, a great honor, so the Xeremier told his compatriots, but on their way they came across a muleteer and an old woman kibitzing over which way was here and which way was there. Confused as they were, already having made a wrong turn here and a wrong turn there, the Trio failed to pay heed to the warning, ‘never trust a man with a colossal head’, and fell in with the muleteer who lead them astray, to places and people they never dreamed existed, here or there.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Begetting Begat

The Witness claimed that he could trace begetting back to the first begat. ‘…its all there, in the pamphlet…’ he said, ‘…the begat of begetting…’. The assemblage, many of whom had assembled to be the first to get a plateful of potluck, ignored the Witness’ presentiments, hoping he would simply go away, back to wherever he came from. ‘…go away you bastard…’ hollered a woman, her sickly children in tow. ‘…yes, away with you…’ yelled another, her hair done up in a banquet bun. Dejesus, sitting beside a man with a sawtooth smile, lit a match, and throwing it at the stack of pamphlets said ‘…that’ll be enough of that…’.

An osseous stench issued from the mouth of the sewer beside the assemblage, a woman in a calfskin hat and matching gloves covered her mouth with a handkerchief, the sky black as burnt molasses. The Semana brothers, who had just arrived by hook and crook, stood next to the twins stamping their feet and waving their hands, the Witness looking weakly and faint. The man with the sawtooth smile, bent over double with a panging ache in his guts, shivered like a March lamb, Dejesus watching him out of the curb of his eye. ‘…away with you, you bastardly man…’ yelled a woman with a chin mole, the sawtooth man retching, a coppery piss of corn and mutton spilling onto the tips of his shoes.

Once everyone’s belly’s were fed and their thirsts slaked The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus came to an end, a yellow moon simmering in the cauldron of the black, black sky. The Ushuaia brothers of Tito del Fuego, the Meth sisters, (born to the Lorraine twins, Eberth and Alva from Dombasle-sur-Meurthe), the Mulch cousins of Rheinland-Pfalz, the Jacosta Bollocks Sisters, the Sibu Brothers of Sarawak, the Chelmsford twins, Rood and Simon, Dejesus, the Witness and the man in the hat, reading from Livro do Comerciante Arrogante, went their separate ways, some north some south, some east some west, some northeast others southwest, leaving a beastly mess in their wake. In the distance, where the eye sees chimeras, not people or decipherable things, the dogmen climbed the hill leading into town, the littlest pounding his chest, the eldest humming in a low gravelly voice, the night sky lagging behind them like a spoiled child, face sticky with sweet sugar and tears.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus

The Ushuaia brothers liked corn fritters with churned honey. Albemarle ate like a starveling, his jaw working like a coin press. Labrums ate like a thief, grinding like a gristmill, the corners of his mouth turned in. The eve before The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus the brothers starved themselves, the Sheepshead Inn heavy with stink and spoil. ‘…put that down…’ insisted Albemarle, Labrums’ fingers doughy with seed bread and churned honey. The proprietor of the Sheepshead Inn, a stout man with horned teeth, sat behind a window, all that separated him from a world of savage depravity. On the second floor the Chelmsford twins, Rood and Simon, ate purled mutton and boiled potatoes, the twins having arrived two days earlier for The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus. On the third floor, above the twins, the Meth sisters sat collecting their thoughts, a feat of such enormity (their parents, Eberth and Alva, never taking the time to explain to their daughters what thoughts were and how to collect them) they could barely keep their wits about them. On the fourth floor, at the end of the hall, lived a man with a weigh-anchor foot, his back covered in sores, his good foot bowed like a cudgel. He lived at the Sheepshead Inn year round, arriving for The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus in 1927, and finding the room to his liking, never setting foot outside it again.

The Ushuaia brothers (of Tito del Fuego) ate dinner at the cafe Les Deux Magots around the corner from the Sheepshead Inn. They ordered skillet-fried eel, a baguette and a bottle of Tic-tac, paying for their meal with 27 one $ bills and a ½ crown. As they were anxious to get ready for The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus they ate hurriedly, the youngest brother dropping a tail-end of fricasseed eel onto his lap, the oily meat staining his newly pressed trousers. The Meth sisters, Irma and Erma, ate an elegant, albeit delicate meal in the comfort of their room, pickled herring and glazed carrots followed by vanilla mouse with almandine treacle. The Chelmsford twins, Rood and Simon, dined at the cafe Les Deux Troas, a small but stylish taberna next to the Auvergne de la Fontaine. The cudgel-footed man ate a pork knuckle sandwich with Gibb’s hard mustard, a runny egg and a wedge of rotifers’ blue cheese.

The man in the hat watched the goings on from atop the Seder grocer’s awning, his cap titling on the top of his head. Tomorrow he would don his Rubicon cap, the one with the chicken feather hatband, and sit by his lonesome in the park beside the aqueduct on his favorite lattice-backed bench, counting capped off clouds and unmannerly ducks. When the sun had set, the sky a caramel otherness, he would pick himself up, dust off his hat and wander aimlessly home, his thoughts on funeral dirges and bargemen hymns.

Friday, November 07, 2008

O Livro do Comerciante Arrogante

That evening, a whale of an evening, the man in the hat read from O Livro do Comerciante Arrogante by Bruxo do Cosme Velho. ‘O Comerciante Arrogante sold fruit fit for a king, boysenberries and blackberries, colossal plums, pipless pomegranates and seedless grapes, succulent peaches, mouthwatering ice- berries picked from the highest branches of the tallest ice-berry trees...’. O Livro do Comerciante Arrogante was a book of lies and fleeces, chicanery. The author, Bruxo do Cosme Velho, was a counterfeiter, a sham artist. The author lived in a 27½ room walkup in Rhondda Cynon Taff, a town know for its sweet brandy and gristle sausages.

On the eve of The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus Dejesus bought a hooker’s cap and a box of all-sweets. On the eve of The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus the Witness wove his eyebrows into grasshopper wings. Unbeknown to one another both men prepared for the upcoming feast, a spectacle of the rarest debauchery. The Witness put on his favorite stockings, the heels and toes tar belled. Dejesus angled his favorite cap on his head, garlanded with wildflowers and ostrich feathers, then bending at the knee bowed crookedly in front of the Waymart clock, the littlest hand on the 27, the biggest on the ½. The Witness, who’d witness more than he could bear, gartered his stockings to his belt, cinching them taut with his thumb and forefinger. Unlike Ships Day, which was celebrated with flags, crab-cakes and whiskey, The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus was a solemn affair, the celebrants eating bluish cheeses and drinking draught pail water. The Ushuaia brothers of Tito del Fuego celebrated The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus every year, traveling by oxcart from Tierra de la Volga, a small corn-fed town where the denizens wore cowlick hats and bolero chaps. The Meth sisters were born to the Lorraine twins, Eberth and Alva, from Dombasle-sur-Meurthe. The Meth sisters traveled by pushcart with the Ushuaia brothers of Tito del Fuego, each taking turns pushing the cart.

Dejesus the Witness the Ushuaia brothers (of Tito del Fuego) and the Meth sisters (born to the Lorraine twins, Eberth and Alva, from Dombasle-sur-Meurthe) arrived the eve of The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus. In honor of Bruxo do Cosme Velho the man in the hat was to read from Livro do Comerciante Arrogante, thus commencing The Feast of Octave of St. Camillus.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Mulch Cousins of Rheinland-Pfalz

The Mulch cousins of Rheinland-Pfalz lived meagerly. They wore their eyeglasses, tapped together at the bridge, low, evidence of their lowly meagerness. The Mulch cousins of Rheinland-Pfalz were friends with the Al Iskandariyah cousins, both cousins were friends of the Deacon’s assistant, to whom they owed a debt of gratitude for purloining them a copy of the Colusa Book of Whoring. The Sibu Brothers of Sarawak shared an interest in the Jacosta Bollocks Sisters with the Mulch cousins of Rheinland-Pfalz, all three, the Sibu Brothers of Sarawak, the Mulch cousins of Rheinland-Pfalz and the Jacosta Bollocks Sisters sharing a fondness for peach cobbler and orange sherbet.

‘…stop that infernal banging…!’ quailed the shamble leg man, ‘…or I’ll subject you to my lowly wrath…’. The Mulch cousins of Rheinland-Pfalz took a step back and stared, having yet to be acquainted with the shamble leg man they felt his unruliness was uncalled for. ‘…I beg your pardon…? queried the second cousin, ‘…to whom are you referring…?’ The shamble leg man took a step forward, his eyes black with rage. ‘…I am whomever and whatever…’. ‘…so you are…’ said the third cousin, the second and first cousins inching nearer. The shamble leg man took a step backwards then forwards then stopped. ‘…and who are you…? ‘…we are the Mulch cousins…’said the first cousin. ‘…of Rheinland-Pfalz…’ said the third cousin, the second cousin standing shoulder to shoulder with his two cousins.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Dooley’s Unguent

The shamble leg man grew up in a house with three woman, his great aunt Alma, his greater aunt Alma-May and his grandmother. His great aunt Alma wore a painters’ smock and linen gloves, his greater aunt Alma-May wore a tinkers’ vest and too-tight shoes and his grandmother wore whatever was laid out on her bed, syphilis having eaten away half of her brain. His aunt Alma bought stool softener and calamine lotion from the Comalcalco sisters. The sisters ran the Gates of Hell Apothecary, doling out tablets and morphine, scented oils and rocket-shaped suppositories for the weak bowelled and incontinent.

The Comalcalco sisters dispensed azithromycin (orally) ceftriaxone (intramuscularly) penicillin (parenterally) acyclovir, valacyclovir and famciclovir (orally, intravenously and in tablet form), and beetroot salve for nongonococcal urethritis. His grandmamma took Benzathine penicillin by injection, Tetracycline ad orally, Aqueous crystalline penicillin dissolved in warmish tea, and Procaine penicillin (baked in a date and nut loaf) with a probenecid chaser.

His grandmother contracted syphilis, treponema pallidum, from a one-night stand with a cooper by the name of Crapper Simms. His greater aunt Alma-May came down with Cervicitis, for which she was prescribed Dooley’s unguent and a mild pyloric. His great aunt Alma was fit as a fiddle, never having to fend off Chlamydial trachomatis, gonorrhoeae or the ague.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

La Puerta es Cerrada

The Silverfish truck rounded the corner at breakneck speed, the driver’s assistant hanging off the door hinge, arms flailing out the passenger side window. Rounding the corner, the engine screaming, the Mercury Fish truck careened into oncoming traffic, the skinner leaping out of the way a second time, the truck keeling like a rudderless ship. Lela skipped across the pavement like a one-legged ragdoll, the Silverfish truck leaving a spoil of fish oil and exhaust in its wake. ‘…Thuringii…!’ hollered the eldest Arbëreshë brother, his face reddening. ‘…Marcomanni…!’ yipped the youngest brother, ‘…come…!’ The littlest dogman shimmied down the fichus tree and stood beneath the Seder’s awning. ‘…Maringgii…’ he bellowed, ‘…sit…’.

They gathered in front of the Waymart to celebrate Día de los Muertos, the man in the hat standing furthest from the front, Dejesus standing next to the Witness, both men standing beside the legless man who, seated on his pushcart, flailed his hands in the air signaling for everyone to quiet down. ‘…where’s the damn dog…?’ yelled a man at the back of the gathering. ‘…yes, the infernal damn dog…?’ yelled another man hidden behind a man carrying a twisted umbrella. ‘…you must all quiet down…’ yelled the legless man, ‘…today is not the day to be bickering about lost dogs…’. A man with a bearish face yelled ‘…and when is that day…?. ‘…yes, when…? bawled a woman in Kurdish sunbonnet, her misfit child wailing beside her. Dejesus spoke up, the Witness casting a desecrated gaze on the gathering, and said ‘…enough of your squabbling, we have more important things to do...’. From the back of the gathering, his favorite Día de los Muertos hat on his head, the man in the hat whispered ‘…he was good, skillet fried with pearl onions and sweet briar…’.

A vicar from Saint Bonior de Bournemouth gave a eulogy for all those souls lost to purgatory and the depths of hell, stopping briefly to swat a fly that had alit on the bulb of his nose. ‘…blessed are the dead, for they shall disinherit the dirt…’ said the vicar, the gathering pushing closer. ‘…the sky is falling…’ screeched a woman, her lips trembling. ‘…falling faster than a fast…’ screamed a second woman, her eyes red with fear. ‘…the dog…’ said the eldest Arbëreshë brother, ‘…we must find the infernal dog…’. ‘…fuck the damn dog…!’ yelled Dejesus, the Witness fiddling with the button on his shirt pocket. ‘…Día de Los Muertos…’ bawled the legless man, ‘…Muertos de la Vega...’. Dejesus listened to the vicar deliver his sermon, the Witness mumbling ‘…la puerta es cerrada, la puerta es cerrada…’. ‘…de deur is gesloten…’ whispered the man in the hat, ‘…open de deur, tevreden…’. ‘…dove è il cane…’ yelled the youngest Arbëreshë brother, the eldest brother throwing stones at the vicar, the sky over the Waymart clock black as tarpaper.

Scramaseax and Seaxe

That evening after the children fell asleep, the dimmest to witless, the Liepaja Stepbrothers arrived in town on the back of the Sibu Brothers’ oxcart. They had come to collect a debt, 27½ laying hens for a loan of equal value, 17½ red breasted fighting cocks, having waiting longer than the debt allowed, 272¼ days, 25 of which were spent trying to remember who the debtor was and where he lived. Perched high in a fichus, eyes pealed, the littlest of the dogmen stood guard, his hands rubbed raw with eel gore and tanning salt. Lela, having found her way free of the dimwits and halfwit, encouraging them to play in a pile of leaves in the backyard, watched from afar, curious who these stepbrothers were and why they had such ungodly faces.

A skinner by the name of Kruibeke stood in front of the Waymart whetting his whetstone. In a pile in front of him were a flaying knife, a tanners’ scrapper and a tin of linseed oil. He sharpened his knife until it sparkled, the sun unspooling like a fiery thread in the midday sky. Lela watched the skinner from afar, rivets of sun-boiled sweat dripping into the barrow of her skirt.

Out of the bend of her eye she saw the dogmen, the littlest dogmen drumming his fingers against the tight skin of his chest, rat-tat-rat-tat-tat. She flicked her skirt sending a cockscomb of salty warm sweat into the air, the skinner espying her out of the crook of his eye. A stray cur yipped, a man in a cobblers’ fedora fiddled with his hatband, and the sky, bluer than the bluest bluestone, stood still. The skinner pulled a Thessaloniki penknife out of his greatcoat pocket and fondled the hilt in the palms of his hands. The knife was given to him by the proprietor of the Greek deli on his 27th birthday, which fell the day before Ships Day 1967. The skinner cut a half inch notch in his thumb, paring the flap of skin with his flaying knife. At one time or the other the skinner had owned a Laguiole folding knife, a Lajinaa paring knife, a Puukko flick blade, a Opinel flip blade, a Scramaseax blade, sometimes referred to as a Seaxe or Seax, and a Gaelic sgian.

The Silverfish truck rounded the corner at breakneck speed, the driver’s assistant hanging off the door hinge, arms flailing out the passenger side window. Rounding the corner, the engine screaming, the Mercury Fish truck careened into oncoming traffic, the skinner leaping out of the way a second time, the truck keeling like a rudderless ship. Lela skipped across the pavement like a one-legged ragdoll, the Silverfish truck leaving a spoil of fish oil and exhaust in its wake. ‘…Thuringii…!’ hollered the eldest Arbëreshë brother, his face reddening. ‘…Marcomanni…!’ yipped the youngest brother, ‘…come…!’ The littlest dogman shimmied down the fichus tree and stood beneath the Seder’s awning. ‘…Maringgii…’ he bellowed, ‘…sit…’.

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"Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth". Bruno Schulz

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