That’s me done now. Packin away the stapler and the folders in the Man U bag and takin me leave. It’s like I was sayin BEFORE, I did me best by yiz. But sure me best wasn’t good enough. Oh no, yiz had to go and turn on the Bertie. Yiz had to go and start pickin on the poor Bertie and there was I, a simple Drumcondra fella, enjoyin me rasher sandwiches with Rocco and Jay on the lap and along yiz come with your cribbin and moanin and tribunalin. Well I’m off. Off out of it I am. I’ve plenty to be getting along with anyway. I’m a busy man what with the talks I’ll be doing around the place and the soccer to be writing about and then there’s the forests to sell to the Chinese. They’re mad for the forests the Chinese. The forests are like Bass to them. I love the forests meself. I was always a great man for the forests. Not the Nottingham Forest though, ah no. I’m a Man U man. A Man U man like yourselfs. Just like yous I am but sure that’s not good enough for yiz is it? Oh no. I win a few quid on the gee-gees and yiz all go mad. Go mad because yiz are crowd of failures. Look at yiz! Failed people! FAILURES! FECKIN FAILURES! THE LOT OF YIZ!
Ah, look. Look what yiz have done now. Yiz have gone and made me lose the cool and all I wanted to do was say a dignified goodbye. Well that’s me done. Packin up the bag. Packin away the accoutrements. I’m proud of meself anyway whatever yous lot think. I’m proud to have done me bit for the nation and thanks all the same. Thanks for votin me in fifteen billion trillion gazillion times in a row. That was great. That was gas and I did me best. I did me best by yiz and yiz can take that to the bleedin bank . . .and put it in my bleedin account . . .if I have a bleedin account (LOLZ-winky smiley face). Now, get out of me feckin’ way. I’ve somewhere to be. Unlike yous lot, I’m actually goin’ places.
(depicted above: the overriding existential experience of being perpetually thwarted)
‘The only desire one should entertain is the desire to overcome desire. Desire is the sole originator of discontent. Most desire is unachievable and clashing desires (between two people or competing groups) are commonplace, ergo desire inevitably leads to animosity, conflict and misery.’
At least, that’s what I said to The Mother as we rode the donkey home from mass. She, needless to say, disagreed and said that it was more common for people to desire things that are readily obtainable without any fear of ill feeling. Although I could see the truth in The Mother’s argument, I refused to admit as much.
‘Well’, I said ‘you might say that but to fulfil one’s desire is to be satisfied and I think it is quite obvious that the majority of people are unsatisfied, just look at the state of the world. For example, we all desire harmony yet we can’t agree on how to obtain it and often go to war over this.’
‘Whatever’, said The Mother before requesting that I stop the donkey so she could get a choc-ice. A choc-ice in the dead of winter! I ask you, how illogical a desire is that? It’d only make her cold. Another example of desire’s detrimental effects upon the individuals that harbour it. I ignored The Mother’s request and instead began to form a manifesto of sorts. ‘What if we could somehow regulate desire on a legal basis?’ I asked The Mother. ‘What if all desires were banned except for harmless desires, like the desire to go to the jax or something. We could list all permissible desires in a government publication. This would prevent potential clashes and alter our overriding existential experience so that it is not one of being perpetually thwarted.’
‘Sure, go get yourself elected and do that then but stop the donkey first because I want a choc-ice’, said The Mother loudly.
‘Of course’, I said ‘the powers that be would probably exploit such regulation to their own corrupt ends. They’d probably just sanction unrealisable desires to keep us striving for the impossible and feeling bad about our lives. To keep us lost and discontented and dependent upon them, like with advertising. Advertising is equivalent to the way we dangle the carrot in front of the unfortunate donkey here. It’s all about making us feel we are missing out so we keep buying and keep working to earn the money to buy.’ ‘I’d like to buy a choc-ice now if that’s OK’, interrupted The Mother rudely. I told her we should keep going as I wanted to get home in time for the Fair City omnibus (Harry Molloy returned from the dead that Tuesday and I missed it) but The Mother completely lost her cool. ‘Choc-ice!’ she roared, ‘Choc-ice! Choc-ice! Choc-ice! I desire a feckin’ CHOC-ICE!’
The Mother’s protestations startled the donkey and he suddenly let out a deafening bray. He then reared up and bucked the pair of us off his back and onto the road. As the beast darted off into the horizon, I looked at The Mother and delivered my coup de grace. ‘Well now The Mother’ I said, ‘look at where your desire for a choc-ice has got us’. The Mother scowled and said nothing. Then, she got to her feet and walked off into a nearby Londis.
I went into the RTE canteen the other day. All the celebs were there: Katherine Lynch, Tubbs, Daithi O’Shea, Derek Mooney and the gang from The Republic of Telly (the ones who eat up all the Rubberbandits time making their own jokes, which, y’know, is fine).
Anyway, there they all were, sat at their tables like you’d expect but the odd thing was that none of them moved. Not a muscle. They were completely still. Catatonic I suppose you’d call it. Their mouths were open and so were their eyes. Wide open. Their faces frozen in expressions of astonishment. Perpetual astonishment. Perpetual horrified astonishment. It was creepy. Creepy in a different way than you’d expect out in Montrose.
There was total silence as I walked around the celebs in their seats. I was the only thing making any noise, or so I thought until strange sounds became faintly audible. It was like the crying of little children but very quite and distant. It took me a while to realise where the noises were coming from. They were coming from the open gobs of the celebs.
No lips were moving. The sounds of the despairing youngsters seemed to be issuing from somewhere deep inside the celebs, as if they were the echoing cries of infants trapped down wells. Cautiously, I put an ear to Katherine Lynch’s mouth. I listened and heard a little voice issuing from below. ‘Please kill me’ it was saying, over and over. I had no time to be scared by this as I heard someone coming and so hid behind a counter.
Men donned in what looked like anti-radiation suits entered the canteen and made their way toward Tubbs. ‘Oh no, not Tubbs, leave him alone’ I almost said aloud as they picked him up out of his seat and flung him into a sound booth that had a microphone in it. One of the men clouted Tubbs hard across the head. Very hard. Harder than even Tubbs might deserve. This clout seemed to awaken Tubbs. Actually, ‘awaken’ might be the wrong word. ‘Activate’ might be more precise. Anyway, Tubbs sprang to life and started yakking into the mic like he does every morning on the radio. You know the type of thing, entertaining insights, witty observations, all that fucking shit.
The men watched Tubbs for a short time before one nodded to the others and they departed. I crept after them, to see where they were headed. I followed them across the car park and down a hatch. The hatch led to a tunnel that went underneath RTE’s massive transmitter. What I saw down there was so utterly awful I will never forget it.
There was a huge industrial control room with dials, steel pipes and plumes of smoke. In the centre of this room stood a massive glass tank and in that tank there was a monster. It was like a cross between a hideously deformed baby and a squid and it was about eighty feet or so in size. It was revolving in the tank, quickly and frantically whizzing around, and emitting blood curdling high pitched screams. It was hard to tell if it was screaming in anger or agony. Its revolutions were generating some kind of energy that manifested itself as beams of electrical light. The beams shot out from the creature’s enclosure and were channelled up into the transmitter. I could have sworn I heard someone mention antimatter and someone else salute and cry out the words ‘All Hail the Void!’.
‘So, this is where telly comes from’, I thought to myself before deciding to retrace my steps and get out of there in case I was detected. I put my pen and little book back into my satchel and snuck off up the tunnel and out the hatch. ‘I won’t be getting any autographs today’ I sadly muttered to myself as I made my escape.
I’ve invented a new language. It sounds very nice. It slips off the tongue in a seductive and convincing way. Each word exudes gravitas and reassurance. It's lovely. The best thing about my new language is that it is grammatically structured so as to make it impossible to speak the truth. You can only lie in my language but it’s OK because when you lie it sounds like the truth. What is ‘truth’ anyway? Is my truth your truth? No, probably not, at least not entirely. It’s all a matter of perception so my language is all about the management of perception and the construction of consensus via elaborate and elegant verbal/literate untruths. With my new language, we will all know we are talking bullshit and therefore eschew the archaic concept of truth, opting instead for the bullshit we find most agreeable. It’s a bit like picking your favourite fairy story. Put short: through lies we will find a new truth. The new truth being the consensus we will reach once we realise we’re all full of it.
Does that make sense? I doubt it but that doesn’t matter because I made the whole thing up anyway. I have not invented a new language. The language I speak of already exists. It is called English. And if you believe that you’d believe anything. Although it may be true but, like I said, what is ‘truth’ anyway and where did it ever get us? Going forward. . . .Slowly. . . .In reverse.
It’s a strange train that rattles out to Salvo’s neck of the woods. A strange old locomotive in which you travel alone. It doesn’t even seem to be staffed. The stops on the way are stranger again. Towns with names like Nearly Nowhere, Stifled Terror, Jaundice, Town of the Angry Dead and Yellow Matter Custard Dripping from a Dead Dog’s Eye. Empty stations are lit in a piss hue by flickering lampposts. The only living thing I saw during the whole journey was a three quarters dead pigeon twitching upon platform gravel. Had it not been for the sedatives, I would have undoubtedly succumbed to the sense of dread that permeated the whole carriage. I considered standing up and repeatedly screaming ‘Take me back to Dublin!’ ‘Take me back to Dublin!’ . . .but it wouldn’t have made any difference. No one would have heard my pleas. I doubt the train even had a driver and I had the distinct feeling that its sole propellant was sinister intent.
Things shuddered to a halt and I knew, just somehow knew, that I had arrived at my destination. Trembling, I stepped out of the door (which, incidentally, seemed to be a devised coffin lid) and stood waiting in the gloom. I waited and waited. I waited some more. Then I heard a noise. A throat being cleared. I looked left and there, in an adjacent recess, I barely made out a figure. It was Salvo. He was holding a portfolio close to his chest and looking wary. ‘Here,’ he said, ‘I done your fuckin pictures now let that be an end to it’. He held out the portfolio and I took it from him. It was deceptively heavy. Salvo turned to go but before he vanished from view he turned back and spoke once more. ‘Something happened with the art in there’, he said. ‘What?’ I asked. ‘Ah, it’s weird,’ he replied, ‘some of the stuff, I didn’t draw it and the stories, well, you didn’t write them’. I asked why he included these pages in the portfolio and he told me he had been instructed to. ‘By who?’ I asked. ‘I don’t know, but we better do as they say’ he answered.
Salvo then left me alone to await the train back to Dublin. As I stood there, I decided to open the portfolio and take a look inside. I saw the pages, the other half of the comic, and at once knew that Salvo was correct. It was just a feeling. Instinct really. The same instinct that tells you not to walk into a dark forest after you hear a growl. That kind of instinct only more so. Much more. I’m sorry. We have no choice. We must bring this thing into the world and you, poor reader, must look upon it.
I put the pages away and zipped them up. Shivering in the murky light, I caught sight of the station’s name upon a rusty plaque. It read: ‘Yonder’.
Supernatural Showcase/Yonder launches this Saturday, December 11, 2010 from 7pm until late, at Anseo (public house of the damned), 18 Camden Street Lower, Dublin 2.
(pictured above: Brian Geoghan and his wife Harold Shipman)
Mary’s eyes narrow as she watches the children at play, running around in the snow all willy-nilly. Free fun. How is such a thing permitted? Couldn’t someone have foreseen this and added some kind of snow levy? If the snow was made profitable, if you could charge children to play in it, it might attract some overseas investor to purchase the snow from Ireland. Then it would be the investor’s job to clean up the white shite too, doing a better job than the councils no doubt and saving exchequer revenue to boot. ‘God I’m good,’ thinks Mary as she bites into another Wagon Wheel.
‘It’s no surprise you’re so fond of them Wagon Wheels because you’re a wagon yourself’ is what Brian often says. He’s such a joker. He loves to tease. It’s not all cut and thrust with Brian. He has room for fun. Mary has nothing against fun. She had fun herself as a youth. She was a little wild, truth be told. She even considered getting a tattoo. A lovely little portrait of Augusto Pinochet on the left buttock. She was such a romantic. In love with the struggle for fiscal rectitude and those who embarked upon it. Whereas her peers all had that corny Che poster, she had Milton Friedman looking down at her from the wall of her student digs. Milton, so much like a kindly uncle. Mary would often lie beneath that poster, winding down from her studies, lost in the pages of The Fountainhead. Dreaming of her very own Howard Roark. And, you know, in a way, she eventually found him. Brian is her Howard. ‘Wagon!’ he roars again from the other room and Mary giggles, her little trotters quivering in her boots. ‘Trotters’, that’s what Brian called her feet. He gazed at them once and suddenly said, ‘you’re like a pig with them trotters’. Mary gave a playful little snort in reply. He’s so affectionate at times. How lucky Mary is to have him. ‘You’re my little efficiency in life’ she often tells him. ‘And you’re a wagon, a WAGON!’ he always responds. It’s their little joke. Mary chuckles at the thought of it as she reaches for another bucket of Wagon Wheels. Munch Munch Slurp. Wagon indeed.