Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Of Hygiene and Prophylactic

Vigo Darzere sleeps under old lady Tregonwell’s stoop, his long gamy legs woven into the latticework. When he is not striking wooden matchsticks off the stone foundation he can be found sitting in front of the public library across the street from the alms man. Written in emerald ink on the foundation stone of the library was the following,

Of hygiene and prophylactic to which should be added suggestions concerning preliminary wetting of the head and contraction of the muscles with rapid splashing of the face and neck and thoracic and epigastric region in case of sea or river bathing, the parts of the human anatomy most sensitive to cold being the nape, stomach and thenar or sole of foot?... Dietary: concerning the respective percentage of protein and caloric energy in bacon, salt ling and butter, the absence of the former in the lastnamed and the abundance of the latter in the firstnamed”.

He sat four feet to the right of the bust of King Olaf, just enough to ensure an unobstructed view of the sleeping prince. The sleeping prince, his eyelids aquiver with holystones and torturous dreams, had fallen asleep while awaiting the arrival of the circus. Feet unshod and sockless, his oxcart tethered to the lamppost unsteadily, he fell in and out of sleep like a drunken chump, the sort of sap men of good measure avoid at all cost. Vigo Darzere struck a match against the sleeping prince’s oxcart, and holding the flame jittery over his hatless head intoned, ‘always loafing on the job, those crazy Jesuits’. Tossing the extinguished match onto the ground in front of him, Vigo let out a long drawn out yawn, the back of his throat scabbed with tapeworm bites and pokes from the stick he used to clear his throat, a milky dribble collecting on the pad of his tongue. Rapidly he shoed the oxen and hightailed it northward, the oxen’s dung-scabby tails trailing behind them. As tomorrow was the day the Deacon gave his perennial exegesis on the Icon Rasputin, every one was in a rush to get home before dark, even Vigo Darzere who had no interest in Russian sexpots or iconography.

[1] James Joyce, Ulysses

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