Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Campana Orbis

Casnewydd, professional trenchman, shoved his way past the rector’s assistant and into the sanctuary, Poldy eying him from the front pew. ‘smug cunts’ he hissed to himself, ‘offer ‘em a virgin and they take a whore’. Having heard tales of unspeakable cartelism, some so terrifying they made the hair on the back of his neck stand on end, Poldy hid his face in his hands and held his breath. There were cartels for tanners and shoemakers, cobblers and mongers, glovers and sackers; cartelism, the way of the future, so they say, those so saying the very ones who chartered and ran the cartels. None of this, trenching or cartelism, shoemaking or cobbling, which for many were the same thing, had anything to do with Casnewydd, but it did make an otherwise boring day exciting and worth the bother. ‘leave way!’ hollered Casnewydd pushing his way to the front of the church, his coattails flapping wildly, a boy in the front pew frightened out of his skin. Kindly leave your galoches in the sangkchoo-erree foyer; there is a wet mat provided for your convenience. The man’s hell-bent on making out lives’ a miserable mess!

Zeeman Landé stood admiring the dog’s reflection in the grocer’s window, his jaw a pockmark of syphilitic abscesses and scabbed over scars. Landé knew his da and his da’s da and everyone else that ever worked for the Mercury Fish Co. He used to be the night foreman in charge of the fishmongers and gutters, drinking himself to an early retirement and a whorishly large belly. His da’s da remembers slipping him Mickey’s of spiced rum to ensure he got the top slot on the gutting floor, the one next to the toilet where the men took their smoke break and shat stools pale with creosote and fish guts. The creosote was used to ease out the conveyor belt, which was forever getting choked with scales and fish guts, making the pulleys and rollers run awkward and off kilter. He was a lean lavender pale man with apelike arms and feet two sizes too big for his gumboots. This before the spiced rum and clap swelled his belly to the size of an sugarcane orchard. He thought it funny how when he remembered one thing he recalled another and another until he had an entire past present in his head. He hadn’t thought about Casnewydd or Zeeman Landé or the fact his da’s da was a real bastard and beat his da with his cowboy belt, not since the last time, and then he’d remembered things differently, not the way he remembered it now. This was not unusual; remembering things differently. It occurred after he’d spent the night carousing with the fat whores down by the railroad go-round, sharing flasks of oily dark beer and shoddily tamped cigarettes, the fat whores pressing their scarred bellies up against his scrawny chest and tickling him under his buttercup chin. He tried to remember things differently, like he thought they happened before he remembered them. He ended up thinking he remembered things when he had no evidence for remembering or thinking that he had, making him think he hadn’t experienced or remembered a thing at all in his life. His father wore the same flannel shirt to work every day, the one with the snap buttons and asbestos bib. That he remembered.

The sun fell over the rooftops like a gigantic yellow fireball. The ogress, tethering the corresponding foot to the analogous ankle stood admiring the sun’s reflection in the grocer’s window; a radiant ethereal feeling undertaking her just above the knee and below the hipbones. Some days begin quickly, others like an army under siege. Determining which is which, 'qui quae que quod quam', is best left to the Carmelites campana orbis. He generally found bell-ringers annoying; avoiding them at all cost. The Carmelites, they were a different matter; if you chose to shun them they retaliated, leaving you deaf and bleeding from the nose and ears. ‘puerperal’ he said bellowing, the insides of his eyelids fatty with yellowy grease. ‘can’t say as I ever heard of that. Must be some kind of disease: Lyme, Rickets maybe. Never can tell these days… always something new and horrible in the herd. Awful stuff Rickets… hard on the legs, go all bent and crooked. Come up with a cure… a salve or one of them magic potions. Sell it for an arm and a leg… straightened ‘em out by God it would’.

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