Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sisters of Clemency

For the umpteenth time that day it rained cats and dogs. Poldy stood under the Seder’s awning, the shoulders of his jacket soaked through to the lining, a mephitic tail of rainwater running down his back and onto the hump of his arse, a tarn of brackish water swirling and eddying at his feet, and thought about the day ahead. Bathos gave them fair warning: the Sisters of Clemency would never allow a scoundrel to cross the doorsill of the Antechamber of Malefactors. Garzón Hernando stepped across the doorjamb and into the Hall of Lowlifes. Overstepping a sleeping sister and a cat playing with a headless mouse he proceeded into the outer chamber where he said a prayer to the Mabbot Lane Whores. ‘May you, the Lord Our Fader, keep these ladies of gentile nature safe from buggery, the Lot of sodomites, dear Fader, who should be burned at the stake, pedophiles and kisses on the mouth, Amen’. Unbending his knee he lit three candles: one for Our Father, one for the poor and one for everlasting life. He stepped over the sleeping nun, the cat playing with the headless mouse, passed a bust of King Olaf in full Calvary uniform and a dwarf playing jack the ball and back out into the day, his spirits soaring ever higher.

The denturist made a mistake and gave her men’s dentures. Her mannish incisors cutting into her upper lip, her eyeteeth barricading her tongue, guarding it against lolling in the grotto of her mouth and her front teeth hooking anything that got too close to her face. Her watch fit her like an escape artist’s handcuffs, loose around the wrists but firm enough to give the appearance of tightness. A eyebrow-thin moustache grew between her nose and upper lip, making her facial features seem more masculine and hirsute. God bless the bald and tonsured for they will corner the market on hats, sou’westers and panamas, boaters and bonnets, caps in all colours and sizes. ‘May you, the Lord Our Fader, keep these ladies of gentile nature safe from lowlifes, malefactors and the cantankerous... and may you bless them all, in the name of the Fader, the Son and the Holy Ghost... Amen’. Overstepping the steps, lest he misstep one and fall crashing to his death, he stepped out into the day, his favourite hat set at an angle on his stooped bowing head. Safe from buggery and ill-will, two malfeasances he could verily do without, he set out for the Seder deli, his hopes high and soaring. He recalled the first time he felt the unappeasable titillation, the wanton desire that drew him to collect hats. He was with his mother, his da having taken the day off to drink quart glasses of mahogany brown stout with the men from the slaughterhouse. Yanking on his shirtsleeve, which she did when she was in a hurry or didn’t know what time it was, his mother handed him a pair of beige corduroy slacks and pushed him into a changing room. Threatening to take his bicycle away, which she did when she felt she had lost control, his mother finally coaxed him out of the cubicle. Walking like a man to the gallows, his thighs whistling, his mother grabbed hold of him by the arm and turned him around so that he was now facing a fat kid who’s mother was rewarding him with an O’Henry bar for not fidgeting, the even fatter kid struggling to loosen his feet from the overflowing hems of his new slacks, and sticking two finger down the back of his trousers, his mother made certain there was enough room should he eat too much ice cream and fatten up like the fatter boys in the Husky Boys Section. Sighing like a woman agreeing to an abortion, her face creased with exhaustion, his mother took him by the arm, and yanking, pulled him home.

Green Gretna, named for her gangrenous pallor, set out with Matilda Beerbohm for Marloes Road; the untimely passing of Corny Kelleher, bon vivant, taking them far afar from home. Sidestepping a fleering vagrant and a skittish woman the two made their way along Marloes Road, the overhead sky ahead threatening to rain on Corny Kelleher’s burial. A butcher and his polio crippled son who walked with a sidling limp from Mons-en-Baroeul, a baker from Nord-Pas-de-Calais, a trio of vestal whores from Parana Curitiba, two showing signs of tertiary syphilis, a locksmith from Santarem Benavente and the most humble man in the world, a soothsayer from Zwolle Overijssel, came from afar to attend the earthly committal of the bon vivant Corny Kelleher. ‘I had no idea he had so many friends’ whispered Green Gretna clutching her purse-strings close. ‘nor I’ whispered Matilda Beerbohm, her voice quavering with grief. Pointing out the baker Green Gretna whispered ‘that man there, the one with the crippled son... I recognize him; perhaps I once cooked for him or cleaned his son’s diaper’. ‘and that one, there...’ whispered Matilda Beerbohm pointing at the locksmith ‘I swear by all that is holy that he held my head under water until I almost drowned’. ‘--and to think they have the nerve, those two, to spread their vileness outside the five-mile’ said Green Gretna raising her voice above a whisper. ‘yes the nerve’ said Matilda Beerbohm, her eyes dimming like morning stars. After the last shovelful of dirt was thrown upon Corny Kelleher’s grave-box, the gravediggers standing their spades against a burgeoning elm, Green Gretna and Matilda Beerbohm set back out for home, their thoughts on vile men and their vile ungrateful dispositions.

There’s no time for misgivings, you’ll only end up worse off; down deeper into a fenland of your own devices. Once its capture your imagination, and it will I assure you, there’s nothing more you can do. Bon vivant, crablouse or Might Pym, you’re life is over, taken from you by a force mightier and less forgiving than you could ever imagine. So beware my brethren beware, lest it steal into the labyrinth where you sleep dreaming your lustful dreams, your childish fantasies, reaping the benefits of your gonorrhoeal desires. Cinching his chin-string taut Poldy stepped out the door and into the bright morning air, nigh time fading into daylight.

No comments:

About Me

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

Blog Archive