We start out dismembered only to die a whole corpse. Death and dying, the trick is to know which to do first. The Witness told him that we die the moment we surrender to God, then are born again and die again and are born again until we can’t die or be born anymore. The trick is in not dying the first time. Stay a corpse, that way dying is nothing more than dismembering until there’s nothing left but pieces. Once a corpse always a corpse he said laying his ink-stained hands on another feebleminded child’s forehead. Long live the weak-willed for they shall inherit this filth. The Witnesses’ father had been summoned by the standing council to bring an end to an outbreak of feeblemindedness that had enfeebled ½ the townspeople. ...said shut up; stop that! I said stop what? ...said pointing a finger; that. I coaly said never. Never. Once a corpse always a corpse. Now sit down and mind your manners. His da wore the same gumshoed boots to work every day, drying them upside down over the hot water ditch. The other fin-splitters made fun of his big round ears, spitting on his shirt when he walked by. ...fin-splitter they said! Get out of here! His father beat his father with a cow whip until he said uncle.
They drank their fill of brown Porter, Dreros and Tartarus did, the proprietress of the Cocytus taverna, eager to relieve them of quid and franc, offering them a third second round. On the mantelpiece above the coaly stove, the slipcase tattered from corner to crook, sat a well-thumbed copy of De Vulgari Eloquentia, a mock-up bust of Frank Duff anchoring the bookends. Bello Monto stood astride his jam jar chest unlocking her whalebone corset, Legion of Mary the paedo priests will have you sent to the laundry, that starchy bastard has a keyhole view. Leopold J Dillon and the not-so Dr. PK Purcell got off Scots free, knifed Annie Mack under the O’Connell bust, his granddad singing,
Leaves an oily taste in the back of your craw, pinch-bleached in boil-remover. His granddad said not to go down to Railway Street. And stay clear of Mabbot Lane, my boyo. Montgomery whores gather under the Burlo sticking out their livery tongues at passersby. Custom House fatties ‘ill beat the living tar out of you, gang up with the Montgomery’s, no shame at all. None! Legion of Mary, seen J. Dillon and that corker PK Purcell on all-fours, can’t get a good soap-down, not on a stub-man’s salary they say. He sallied forth into the night, arms sternly at his side.