The green limpid waters of the African isle. An airplane rests with its wheels on the shore, bathed by the pellucid wavelets – the hovels are bunched together along the coast – smokes from the cooking that takes place here and there waft the way of the walker – voices galore in prandial chitchat and fun.
He thinks: Language is for whoever uses it, and how he sees fit to use it – the point is: are you being understood – or at least half understood – can anyone hope for aught better than that...?
He peeps inside a hut that has a “door” like a tent. He bends up a corner of the flap and peers through the murk. Across the floor of the low-ceilinged hut a cactus at its sharpest. He coughs. His bothering lung again, irritated by the smokes. Pelts and then a few small, dead, as yet unskinned animals hang along the side aisles allowed by the cactus. He is cautious now. A parrot once did its best to rip his nose off his face. And he’s heard a whimper – as of a parrot itching to attack, mayhap? Is the word “mayhap” more sailor-like than perhaps? Well, maybe.
He runs toward the shingle on the shore, a dead end. He relives how the wreckage came about. He was afraid of falling from the tempest-tossed ship into the sea – unclaimed forever. Two brothers were fighting, one had a heavy leather bag of letters with him, the other one wanted to grab it but he only got the blows of it for his pains. That second brother was blinded by a bloody band across his eyes – he never really knew (though he could always try and intuit it) where the blows were coming from... Were the letters their last treasure...? Was the wounded mariner (wounded at the eyes no less) trying to save himself with the last reason for living – a bag of letters of identity which at the same time could have served as a saving raft...? Were the letters from the missing girl, now presumed dead...? She’d fallen from the gunwale’s rim as the ship first got snagged by the craggy shallows.
Crimes of the wife, he thought, that someone still might read about – betraying also your last hope of persisting even if only as a specter: a damaged memory, or a ridiculed name, or just another cuckolded and poisoned figment. In spidery retreat, the laden brother left the blind brother who slowly, realizing he was now alone, unwound. He breathed down, dumped among some unclamped cans, sprawling, slowly falling asleep. The peonies of his daydream were blossoming like blots of blood upon the band above his eyes. “Ere the man Eimeric Despuig arrived, all was well...” – he muttered, and the man, Eimeric Despuig, suffered a fit of coughing – he’d been disgustingly retching all day; he had gagged with a bunch of hairs ensconced in a glass of water that he had tried to gobble up just as he had waken as the ship kept now more loudly sliding to one side.
With the voice disguised, pretending to be one rough sailor, Eimeric Despuig started to sing a hearty shanty. “Ah, those poor bastards for me to hove to... Hey, and blow me to the birdcage where the five-gallon jar a-mourns...” He said, and seeing he knew no more about the song, he started now with a martial ballad, more terrestrial than briny stuff, but what the hell, the point being only that the blind guy wouldn’t recognize his cough and feel further aggrieved. Bad enough as it was for him already, poor doomed mate, and the boat all but ready to capsize.
“Admit it and that’s it, a clean slate...” – the blind guy said.
Eimeric Despuig looked ashore. The lie of the land, bereft now of warriors, looked itself like the corpse of a corpulent woman, all those glutei and tits, a hairless squaw loosened in repose, after all those long hours of drudgery.
He heard his general again. “Clean slate.”
“Shit happens, my friend. You won’t pull me into this asshole theory – ok? About me being bad luck. Death comes to the best of them. No albatros me – fuck you.”
He left the blind witling raving. He decided to slip away tonight. Bound for the African island. And if he should be eaten by sharks on the way so be it.
Now he heard the general admonishing, rebuking, but with the same breath granting a modicum of reprieve, his own fault (the general’s) at the carnage bigger than Eimeric Despuig’s: “I don’t want you to feel sorry, ever, for any of your actions. Actions undertaken under the heat of battle can’t ever be gainsaid, regretted, deplored, taken back... What was done was the best under the circumstances. Always. Ever. Forever. That this particular action caused such mortality with the troops, such mountains of fatalities, is only a sad accident, an aside of little consequence... Grieving is for shits. Crying is for bragging catamites. We martial types are never guilty of a fidgety conscience. Vanish the jitters, man. Loyalty, tenacity, to these we cling... The rest’s flabby turds’ pluckless weaving and embroidering. Under the more fiendish of tortures, we adduce amnesia – same here with the fucking press. All those coffins, we’ll claim, are fraudulent. On the podium we’ll screw our eyes in order to see, not a farty stuffy chamber with a few assholes with recording machines in their hands instead of their tired pricks for a change, but a horizon of knights, a worthy scene of heroic proportions, hordes on the march, wonderstruck, due for glory...! Forget that bundle of silly puppets, whining for our condescension, shitty yokels, a swamp of cosseted clerisy toiling after their cute articles, trying to put in a harsh nutshell how much they hate the military. You won’t be my scapegoat, you hear me...!”
He stirred at last, like dough stirs if it wants to grow. He said: “I’ll do whatever you command, my general.”
“We’ll put on their whachamacallit, sepulchers, whatever the tricky epitaph that our propaganda corps can come up best with by shredding their noggins, all sticky with tacky ruses... Don’t we know them, scumbag scalawags. Nonsense, brittle forgeries, exaggerating the pathos, the camp, the kitschy froth, though not too much of it either, all done with a certain style – beware of blunders – that it not be a strain after all, too much cream and foam cloying the palate. With velvety fingers, not full of the corrupt muck of the grave-plunderers, Christians and Jews and A-rabs with angels and scythes and torches and shits, no, copying instead from the more inferred, taciturn, strict Romans, plus the Etruscans, the Stoics, the Spartans, the Soviets... All those great fearless ancestors. Tapping the ancient layers of epic discourse, and baroque flim-flam. Or even something less obvious. Something on the order of the famous shorthand myths written on the spare tombs of the nastier crazier saints; nothing Egyptian, pyramidal, in unreadable spiral steles, no, fuck, something Homeric: He died flayed..., something like this, when in fact everybody but the chaste, inane rabble knows he died flaying my prick...! Reap and you’ll sow, the dentistry of holy-grailty, the host, the holy ghost, tawdry unkempt billowings from the abyss, howling tombstones, stifled by the coquetry of hate, you can’t wean the populace from the joys and orgasms of their split mind: We want blood but tears too. You can’t bilk them of one or the other, they got to have them both, steady doses... Tears – blood – blood – tears... Nothing else diddles their minds’ clitorises as zealously. Know what I mean...?”
“Sir, I do, with a thud.” Eimeric Despuig answered, irksomely perplexed. He wanted to ask: “What about secretions of the semen-y type...?” But abstained. Enough rubbish already as it was.
Already gone underground the lewd grubs themselves who had been busy under the burel antimacassars that covered the corpses, once the corpses themselves had been removed to the charnel house. And now imagine all those clandestine sinewy goings-on that must be going on underneath...
“Grylli and the rest of the callow patsies engraved over the vortices on the armpits at the columns of the mausoleums: bah, the quick inveigled into carrying the load for the deceased... Not in my watch!”
The man dismissed himself from the presence of his phantoms terrestrial and briny. With the pouts of the waves hissed at his feet the angry glue of the sea. Lugubrious stew, he thought, hungry.
Perhaps he ought to retrace his steps – go back to the huts and tents where the cooking went on. Those savages looked all like flakes and weirdoes. Their ruffled feathers, their organized religion, their fucking devils to whom the food had to be consecrated – the zinger being that whoever touched the offered viands became sacrificial prey instantly. Eimeric Despuig had seen an owl immediately plucked. And a ruminative large animal clocked with a rock and skinned. Its skull smitten, its brains added to some soup in an ebullient caldron.
An apish runt of a fairy godmother was approaching – her invincible drool speckled with dots of tar from the fires. Eimeric Despuig felt cowardly – abruptly, looking awestruck, almost sunk in gloom, he unplugged himself – suasive enough, he leaked out a slapdash apology. The ape caught not a word aright. Her features, of a dumb rapist of a predator gone seedy, turned greedy.
Eimeric Despuig saw himself part of an instant raw meal. Burning with anticipatory grief, he struck at the witch. She must have been seriously flawed someplace about her skeleton for she dismally fell sprawled over the grit. Overweight Eimeric Despuig, whom nobody would have any longer pegged as an old warrior, shrugged diffidently toward the gallery. He had bated but a slight push, he seemed to say, steeped in itching and flabby virtue.
But the people at the village were mildly cheering him. A steed whinnied in what sounded like an elongated fit of weeping; a goat sneezed. Afloat, a case succeeded in landing. Under a broken slab, Eimeric Despuig picked across the foil that lined the objects the case held – a row of twisted arrowheads used to replace those busted at the tips of the harpoons the whaling crew threw at the backs of the frenzied monsters.
Eimeric Despuig’s mind flew back to those gleeful fights that with forks and knives for all parafernalia took often place both among the soldiers in the field and then among the fishers aboard when it was time to cut and share the bacon. All quarreling bastards being akin, no matter the spot of contention. Dislodged underlings besmirched in their severed soul by the searing sparks of the myriad possibilities of a too spacious horizon, where no beacon of constriction flames nonetheless strongly enough.
Always, when the stars were too appalling in number and depth, a convenient brawl ensued. Once even captain Eimeric Despuig got knocked down.
A riddle to his minions, now he erupted in wrath as an dynosaur embryo upset from his egg a little too soon. Incontinently, on the sly, he slunk away, and disappeared behind the latrines, where the thrones were fancifully decorated with art not worth a fart, and where one usually reigns, total master of his body for once, he surreptitiously wrote a poem with a few alien turds.
The man was deteriorating fast. A bitterly bickering retired general of his acquaintance mugged him good at the hospital – the indecently whittled edge of the retired worthy’s crutch wedged itself nothing benignly in the feckless captain’s shorn nape.
Then captain Eimeric Despuig appeared mesmerized by his words of wisdom. The sage Savin Covershame, the reputed, revered abortionist. He tarried for an instant, no doubt gobsmacked by the clarity of the old fellow’s thinking. After such a murderous personal defeat, and now the compassionate old soldier trying to put a spotless shroud on it, and with such keen skill too... It was understandable.
“Sir, I’m sick.” He said.
“Okay, dismissed.” Said the general. And in his mind he started plotting Eimeric Despuig’s court-marshalling, flimsy demoiselle, a dud.
In town the water, though rationed, was free for all. It was a beautiful town, sunny, whitewashed, where the youth were all so clean. The general endeavored to throw in a lecture or two to encourage them to enlist. Brother, the mistrust, though. It was dawn next day before that swarm of rogues hexagonally ensconced in the luxuries the mayoralty afforded at the long last yielded.
“Our civilization,” he had said in his speech, “is a bulwark, epitome of the flawless kernel of excellence, and yet, alas, a last monument about to be demolished by the barbarians. The harbingers, the scourge, the plague, the ash... The complacency clogging the arteries of progress, the flaccidity ripened into a blob of disgusting slimy stinky fried fat... The aim of youth being zilch... The phantom of Armageddon stalking the stodgy, ponderous bourgeois... Too much weight meaning a deeper crumbling...”
All the truisms were there... The scant public seemed well fucking terrorized.
“Our enemy expects from us an immediate unconditional surrender. And we can’t dodge them rescuers, they want to carry us willy-nilly – en bloc – to their tarry and inflamed heaven. As a youth I also swore: Never give an inch. We have a tryst with the succouring devil, soon we’ll we welded to a keener rock in hell, hail of carbons falling on our flayed twisted bodies, our naked thews and peeled sinews briskly pulled until they snap. We are lost. Look everywhere. Afterimages of fear on every marquee.”
Eimeric Despuig, the convalescing captain, was crumpled in the very last row, in a corner, his half-dead lurking; his sickness so apparent, a ghoul now. The wardens in the prison a chorus of witches praying, in crumpled unison, for his recovery.
Suddenly the general barked an order: “Captain Eimeric Despuig, stand up!”
He rose, tottering. His wife, his daughters were there. So pretty, so unnerving, so unmanning.
“You were recently responsible for the death of a whole regiment of our cream shock troops, three hundred thousand of them blown to pieces thanks to your error in assessing the strength and proficiency of the piddling enemy. You were caught eating shit. Was that some type of a worthless pitch at attonement...? Who cares? No dice. Those images of extreme horror can’t ever be erased, not with shit, not with faked folly, not with more blood. Not quite, not for me. I know about those deleted stuffs you dirty parodies of a soldier in the rearguard try to pass to a stupid public for the genuine dirt. I’ve been recently hobnobbing with the less addled of the famous and influential, the cream; talking with them with all frankness; they acknowledge to me their fears, their ills, their hidden cancers... There’s often a party later in the courtyard... I have no hose to freshen the dirt; I only need, though, to take out my prick and sprinkle the whole yard, the rush and push of my piss covering at least twenty yards all round, and the night approaches and the tables are being laid, and my piss serves immense purposes... Well, anyhow, they are confessing their inability to understand how a man such as you yourself, guilty of such an inconceivably large massacre of our own and finest, are, I mean, is still able to go freely about town, with you decorative family on tow, the dainty daughters, the flashy wife, the heinous nauseating monkey-like critters that pass as your venomous dogs... You ought to be shot forthwith, sir; you ought to be made an example of here and now, in front of all those clean youngsters who know the value of rationing... If you’d be a man and a superman, ergo, a soldier, you’d shoot yourself with glee, in front of everybody, so that something you’ve done in your wasted life could at last be applauded by the dignified, commendable masses, witnesses to vastness and greatness – as modestly typified by myself – but also to meanness, mischief and depravation, of which you, alas, are the uppermost representative... You goof, you gaff, you fugging specter of mischance!”
Eimeric Despuig was at a loss, obviously. Under his breath he chewed this loaded word: “Bully...!”
Then, under the sudden ramming-horn of some sort of epileptic fit, he lifted a tiny scarecrow, the garish ungainly diminutive body of her youngest daughter.
“Gladness, yes!” He shouted. “That I’m no longer a bloody soldier. That I’m not a licensed murderer, suffered, ney, encouraged to act crazy, even rewarded for it, and sent abroad, and far and wide to terrify pell-mell, armed to the teeth, dressed as a ferocious clown, in some childish tacky make-believe disguise, unhinged by your reasons for the wars of unreason you wage at all time, just for a fart, or for an imagined fart, suffocating armies, full of carnivorous zombies, all a bunch of ravaging, ravishing vandals and outlaws pretending to righteousness, fucking filthy word you’ve made of it, warty crawlers all over the cratered earth, whacking at terrifying phantoms with the faces of the innocent... But now I’m alive, and she’s my source of vitality. She wants to go potty, yes! I’m going potty, and her eyes are filled with yearning... I shall yield to her needs! For I am human! She’d been bullied, like a soldier, humiliated, put down, horribly hazed all those days at nursery school... I reviewed the little movie the school had provided – and you know what? I noticed immediately that it had been tinkered with – at least cut in several places, and spliced; but I could reconstruct it; and now the phantom images betray the young teacher, prancing, naked, cruel, laughing at my daughter as she tries to go potty in her empty receptacle of a drink carried from home...! She’s being tortured, like a soldier unto a soldier: no quarter, no pity! But she’s just a tyke, a timorous infant... She can’t go potty in public; she needs her privacy... But, ah! She’s been discovered trying to be herself by the young, irremediably indoctrinated teacher, and now she’s being betrayed, ridiculed... Gutted. The lying images of my daughter happy, and at ease, hide the images of my daughter stressed, anxious, in agony... Caught, ashamed, indicted, insulted, mortified, branded, laughed at by the whole cruel class... That’s not what life could be. I’m a military poet: strong, disciplined, understanding, helpful, running nights in long fields full of snakes... My calling would be aiding the others... The famous moribund in particular... Deferentially admired by the young girls as I do my deeds of beauty...”
He remembers with a wince of spiritual pain how he went on and on, rhapsodizing. They had him on tape now, ranting, crazy, antipatriotic... A few erasures here and there and lo, la-la, lo – another basket case for the firing squad.
Like a pokerfaced jar, akimbo, the general at the lectern let the slime of the young captain’s craven words flow on the slippery slip of his shiny surface. Indeed, the old general’s skin outshone even those on the thighs of Eimeric Despuig’s blowsy younger daughters, from whose bewildering groins bizarre whispers grew. Like the shimmering but straightlaced figments spawned by the general’s martial will, those whispers talked of opalescent eggs about to be smitten like the crania of foes or like the sparkling dishes with the faces of a dumb pope and his wife, ornate with a garland of Victorian ribbons and flowers and a chunk of hairy raw monkey meat to be dumped on top. All girls by nature are fascistic – their vaginas lathery, sweating like lingering toadstools for the neat, straight-backed, tough-talking, uniformed commander, so provident, such a prospective suitor of a trump card up one’s sleeve, an unfailingly brutal protector, who wouldn’t need one just right now...?
With a fell swoop of his comet-like hand the old general wiped from his eyes the paradise where all those little girls were so vehement about his masculinity. Due to some internecine long-nailed fights, some of the houris had been lately limping coming down the grassy slopes to meet his aspersing thurible or, more pugnaciously, his shedding rapier whose clout indeed, though long in the tooth, which in itself who says that that’s a downer, still was no trifle.
“At the foot of the spartan chimneys ricochets the scarred gore, and the smoldering tendrils of flesh grow around the sudden orchids of benzene... We laid waste the land of inconspicuous swarms of people whose main concerns before we attacqued were perhaps how to stem the seductive younger rascals from catching charwomen’s gonorrhea, and of course how to knot down the burgeoning prongs of the cocoon of dearth. Now what have we done...? The girlish girls won’t again skip over the snaggled flagstones of the discouraging graves, full of purpose after their freckled sleek idylls, past the rusting fences. Heartbroken, they won’t again have any of those sweet blatant rueful insights as soon as, after they’d been the prettier half of one those loathsome pairs of newlyweds, the fleeting tearjerker of their farther trajectory had billowed and echoed in the bedraggled tangles of the jungle like the cries of the spurned hyena. As we slobs slog through that new hellish desert, in the midst of the whimpers the prosthetic weeds of our bogged down machinery of death send to the deaf heavens, let’s realized that if we had to act, it had rather be against the invincible specter of our own image. Hatted and popular, we belong in the middle of the road, joking and bragging and pushing away any interloper, alas, always undislodgeable, at least until the earth itself has not been charred and eroded into an unlivable no man’s land. For we can’t stomach anything foreign, eager perhaps to partake, lurking at our imaginary borders.”
He remembers, yes, how he looked up now. Nobody placidly loitering behind the balusters of a non-existent round-the-ceiling row of chairs for the audience – no telepathic redhead nicely commiserating, not belting obscenities in a tantrum, not stymied either, but clinging to the banister, her glossy luscious mouth mouthing the magic word “acquittal, acquittal...”
“...for we are nothing but churls and bullies, harnessed in pitiful self denial, striving to botch, wicked lousy faltering mammoths incapable to recant our past crimes, full of chicanery, hiding the old crimes with the new ones, always new ones, always some enemy at the door, always a victim to kill, always an atomic bomb to hurl at..., always ready to rearm, rely only on profit, and the paltry-padding conning sanctimonious evangelical thurifers backing you – ah, so much worthless pablum to burn...”
A younger general, till now seated behind the old one, jumped up, as who wouldn’t, and said: “Enough! Are we just the flunkies of another kakistocracy or rather the buffer zone spooks of a racy taboo state strewn with miscreants? I say bequeath and be one on whom of the bequeathal is bequeathed. I say that there is room for rosy idylls beneath the never niggardly orgies where whips run rampant and the imprimatur of purulent wounds are plastered by ditto bishops on the fleshes of virgin boys whose specter sphincters splinter as did the plumper of my comrades in captivity. I say, and to repeat, that there’s always room enough for hope! We only need to redeem ourselves by casting the rabid shifty pusillanimous apostles from our midst. Let the slanderous slugs harmful to the flock be smashed like splattering sputtering scumbags. That the nauseous splash be the branding of the beast. For they threaten to blow the whole concern to smithereens, do they not?”
I heard nobody objecting, the wrecked sailor silently opines, a finger up his nostril, as the surf splatters on the rock he rests on and the spray rains on his moustaches.
“Am I lying...? They indict and finger-point, and suck the more velvety of the piano keys, and blow our tops and whistle-blow, and murmur of, and yell at, the servitors of the state, and impinge into their endeavors, precisely at the dutiful servitors of the state as they go about accomplishing their tasks, fulfilling their sacred blood-drenched chores... Aloof, as encrusted chiggers, they mutter amongst the interstices of the ruins. Enormous holes, full not of real soldiers now, but of substitutes, of wooden Indians, of dummies full of enormous holes again, created by the underground grubs, empowered by mistake, temporary, provisional, as if wrongly imprisoned, amateurs playing ball, a disgrace to see... Our colossal works now sabotaged... Enormous holes, enormous busted-sphincter holes... In between a horrendous shambles... And then, endemic, those gigantic snakes, a few small ones, asps, eavesdropping asps, twisted, dry, butt-ugly, trying to bite the big ones... The big ones, who erst could’ve swallowed an elephant... Isn’t it ludicrous? You are not going anywhere but to the shooting wall, Eimeric Despuig boy. Awesome glamorous cellophane enveloping a stale tinderbox, you creep, ready to be lanced, due to be cleansed... Damned arrogance. Trying to swallow an elephant indeed!”
He remembered. Was that what? A play in a prison about a hospital. A play in a hospital about a prison? This play with Sade and Marat. Murders justified through plenty arguments.
“Killing – good at nothing else...!” Captain Eimeric Despuig broke in, as well he might. “Slaughtering, and then lovelorn, nancy strong boys, nestling and cooing, and pampering and petting, as scruffy warmongering albatrosses comfy inside a pile of usurped weapons that shall bring doom upon those soulless simples held already in vassalage. Slaying, and then lecherous after ordinance, all those duplicate discombobulated pieces of jagged virtu, you ruefully, so maudlin, engage in sex with! Your murderous sexual exploits etched in brimstone; there you are: imprinted in hellish tones, your cap flew off, its fringes a mess of meaninglessness, your breasts carved with incandescent lungs boiling with rancor, and your iron pricks an anomaly of never properly pistoning machinery. Are your right arms raised in perpetuity? Raucous cries, noisy rallies, choruses of equine viruses squirming in painful unease – you’ve been ridden all the way to your horrid little place of burial. Yes, sir, and who rode you, now gets rid of you, you corroding inconvenience: you killed for him, and he wantonly, even grudgingly, disposes of your by now mostly metallic (and rusted) carcass. He’s made it prune it by some other flunky like erst yourself lest some piece of equipment should still be echt and prolong its time: maybe transformed into bullets with which to mete out injustice into the blameless natives of all those foreign wars...”
“All that sickening hub of lies!” The young general, apparently beside himself, came charging like an impudent behemoth. Neither wry, nor self-effacing, nor cohesive at all (like who would in a fucking court-martial,) he pounded upon the easel. “Heroically circumventing the hail of bullets indeed! Overcoming the charge of dynamite bursting inside your guts. Like Hercules in the guts of the whale: to explode it from within...! Heroically, and unrewarded, unguerdoned, for it is impossible to repay such prowess, we know, and yet here we are, heroic enough, more than enough, superbly heroic! Unacceptable whilst unrepentant, and unrepaired, and yet hard at it... In the bowels of the inimical beast. The miraculous spate of overwhelming resurrections from so many sham suicides, of course. The bereaved, the distraught survivors, like untongued and blinded chameleons, melting in the mud. The excruciating wounds, the insurmountable jitters, the rat-filled stomachs, the constant weepings... All sanitized wimpy fables, all grotesque decoys, this is how it seems, but not a smidgeon of how it was, all gaunt pallid fabrications of poet historians – and not two of them – what’s the likelihood – coming up with the same concept or the just word to define the same fact – rapidly waning – on the contrary, like car racers, each of them trying to outdo the remainder with their worthless inventions and characterizations of what really transpired, not even the carrion stink of it approached within a mile of approximative truth... I was there! All those small pretty towns spared in spite of such sorrow as can’t be measured against a horizon of never-ending skeletons. How quaint!”
“Talking about the nice little unscathed toy towns indeed!” Eimeric Despuig remonstrated, and tried to start anew. “If I could embolden myself into a few auspicious phrasings...”
“Shut up!” The old general said (and every one present cheerfully concurred,) for the disgraced captain was overstepping the boundaries of decency.
Now some of the sharps tips of a few of those hooks intended to replace the wrecked ones at the end of the harpoons, were piercing his palms. For a second, Eimeric Despuig came back to the scene of his last refuge. An empty feeling... Most of the savages had returned inland, to the fields, or who knew, wherever they went to gather, or hunt, or till... He would not have been able to recognize one of them for the life of him – afflicted with acute prosopagnosia in anything having to do at all with the inferior races.
Maybe the crone he had stunned or killed...? Mm. Was the witch still there, asprawl on the shingle, in such a style as to bring to mind a whiff of cryptic artistry...? A touch of garnishry dangling from the neck of a buxom anchorite...? Yep, a lambkin’s dainty reptilian skin wouldn’t improve on it. With the head of a medusa, a harpy, an angry gargoyle, a disturbed naiad...? And indubitably dead.
He had staggered overboard, as erst – but is the word “erst” more maritime than earlier or formerly? Probably not – as had before the flirting girl for whom, or at least for whose bag of letters, the brothers fought, to serve the span of his natural life (how did the formula state if?) in this forsaken African isle full of dangerous nobodies. After he’d survived the execution squad whose wild shots had miraculously misfired – the rifles too old or the shooters, or both, and unsteady to boot with the diseases and the sickening pills. The dalliance of the pretty girl a pain in the posthumous ass of the cuckolded brother, namely who of the both of them...? The blind fellow in regard to whom nothing good could be said, or the other one, the cruel one who always ran such a tight ship, as the old general did with his drumhead court martial high jinks in the subterranean holding halls of the hospital..., until everything went bust, as all has to too eventually.
The nasty brother would had been wondrous in those off-putting slums where the harridans seemed to run the show. With his heinous catchpoll soul he would pinprick their spheres of pride as with his truncheon he would also no doubt their no less rounded croups. He wouldn’t came a cropper as I would, captain Eimeric Despuig thought, shamefully bespattered by the collapse of my former career, shunned by my own family, always erroneous in the lurking witless eyes of the blameless shit-headed lunks, my neighbors and other wounded compatriots. But he, the good nasty brother, must have perished with his bag and his vessel. Swallowed by the ocean beasts.
He had lifted, hadn’t he, a corner of the veil (it felt morbid, like a thick slice of cartilage) at the entrance of the tent of the sacred maniacal parrot. His reception ominous even here, unfortunate, boding but further shit. He had known previously about ambassador parrots – representatives of their simple-spirited lands in the sanctioned international venues. They wore their hair – their plumage or tufts or crests – when in official business, tied neatly at the nape of their necks. No flounces or headscarfs or colored bows like other representatives of the inferior races. Parrots are a lot smarter than that. Was the parrot I met on my arrival the chief here...? I had staggered overboard, he thought, went off in a little dinghy loaded with stolen trinkets...
He came back at the loathful scene of the evening of his disgrace. The death sentence was about to be pronounced. A few of the stalled putty bystanders crumbled in a puff of fetor. Not me, thought he. Before farting mouthwise with the stench of his crippled opinion, the presiding judge, the old general, with his court of younger asslicking ones in tow, aped the close-knit jury, which had gotten up as a weak hirsute wicked man to hie itself with due permission back to the privy. Eimeric Despuig took his totemic cigar out and soaked up smoke until the knobs of his knees reached their goal, which was to bleat like blisters pouring out oodles of balm. He felt dandy all told.
Next his testimony postponed, the proceedings adjourned...? Not a chance. He’d turn into a dead man today, true enough, soon enough, no delays, that’s the stark healthy military way.
Now, again, wrecked sailor Eimeric Despuig took in, squinting, the seared horizon, inwards. Rere the dire shrubs down there, there were mingled beasts and men, the men behind the beasts, in acts of buggery, it appeared in the clearer distance; with a frenzy, there they were, plowing. A squadron of plowing peasants. Atoning, as all peasants, for their misdeeds of past lives. Such fucks!
Eimeric Despuig tried to renew then his brilliant impugnation. He perorated as follows: “It coheres when society’s pretty towns and other soothing accomplishments are by the good and virtuous weapon-tottingly safeguarded... About that I’m in agreement. But then with stupor I witnessed, for I was (secretly) stalking the bumbler commander, how he threw caution to the foul winds of defeatism and handled things as bad as you could. Where I was for caution and letting things rot by themselves (they always do,) he next took the brakes off and assaulted the enemy. I was horrified. What in bloody hell is he doing? He was indeed demolishing our own army by intercession of the self-implicit counterattack...”
How shallow sanity! What’s the point of arguing any point...? All’s predetermined.
There’s no telling them apart – they all look like stinking females full of tacky secretions, some more bulbous than others – a few sick and scrawny, with faces yet of deeper horror. His hands were all sharp shiny hooks.
Who am I? And where am I landing? That’s not the isle promised by my Faria. Wasn’t the name Faria that the count of Montecristo...? Eimeric Despuig looked askance at the whole topography. A mistake of nature, surely.
He sang the song. “The river flows under the bridge, and our loves, let me remember: after the pain always came the joy. Here’s the night, the hour strikes, the days flee, I persevere. Our hands entwined, our faces facing each other, let’s remain so, while under the bridge of our arms flows the wave so heavy and weary of crossed gazes. Here’s the night, the hour strikes, the days flee, I persevere. Love flees as flows the water, loves flow, ah how slow living is and how fierce is hope. Here’s the night, the hour strikes, the days flee, I persevere. Gone are the days, the weeks, nothing returns neither time itself nor the loves, as under the bridge the river flows. Here’s the night, the hour strikes, the days flee, I persevere.”
Apollinaire had been his guide to hell from where the sage Savin Covershame would then help him off. Thus is how it happened. Eimeric Despuig had been a wittol in a previous life – such it seemed.
A wittol, a skimmington, acknowledges that his wife is preeminent. She’s the one fucks away, the one brings the bacon home – she’s the man. Eimeric Despuig, the poet-soldier, had no trouble with the arrangement. He’d been a night-shift armed guard in a weapons factory. Now, with some of his wife’s savings, he’d been able to open a little shop. He was selling cheap regalia for fetishists.
The tropical Sun enlightens his memories. Marguerite Despuig, what a woman! My wife, she’s somebody, she travels the world, she appears, and highly praised too, in the Herald Tribune; with some of her savings, yes, I’m able to open a little nostalgia shop, where nazi memorabilia and such items, like war-dilapidated objects, militaristic paraphernalia, and army accoutrements... – true, such shit as this gets easily sold to creeps and crazies. I only sell the genuine article, though. I’ve been in Amsterdam recently, only to acquire a nazi helmet, a general’s, spiked and all. For secret displays and sadistic court-martials. Mock trials. Unfortunately, upon arriving home and researching the item, I realize it’s a fake. Oh, well. I’ve destroyed it. A helmet made in Hong Kong. The helmet proved a dud, but who isn’t fond of nazi memorabilia...? Plenty of lords and ladies selling big chunks of their posh British states only to fill covert rooms with the forbidden objects – ah, martyring implements of torture – chambers of horrors, why not, nothing posher. I had trouble keeping the little shop open, correct. People not tolerant at all – smashing it with bricks and cobbles; hooligans with gasoline and matches, with home-fashioned little bombs having their whims... It was fun for them, it was fun for me.
After Eimeric Despuig’s convenient trip to Amsterdam, once Pompeu Kigolla, the Lithuanian professor to whom his Marguerite was so devoted, had already gone back to his soviet paradise, the wittol asked, drivel at the ready, “And how did it go that time?”
She’s still dreamy. “He brought me roses – a huge bunch.”
The thoughtful professor, a huge bunch of roses, a huge shlong, and an eminence in the field of economics. Shit, I’m awed, you bet, such a luminary, and pleasing the wife and making her a puppet of complacency and obedience, and...
“Did he ask about me at all?”
“No. You are nobody for him.”
For whom is he anybody...? Captain Eimeric Despuig contemplated the sea whose half-closed red eye was the Sun, a churning as of tears concerted made red mountains on the horizon. He thought he saw a man-bird: was it an incarnation of the sacred parrot...?
Such regalia – couldn’t sell it in his little shop of twenty years ago. The clients, the customers so lame, most of them. Looking for the bloody wrappings from the war wound on Apollinaire’s head – more valued and valuable even than the sudarium of so-called Christ, the Milan shroud, and as bogus too. He flew over with ease – found fake “classical” nazi helmet – destroyed it – made in Hong Kong – not worth to sell – don’t sell fakes – only originals. Shop’s doors always tittering – difficult to prop open – or close – the barbaric “antinazies” always aggressing it. Non-fucking dames the dames that came to buy the trinkets. They never paid any attention to him – as inexistent, not there... He’s got to vacate his matrimonial bed every time the knight-lover, the economics warrior, comes back from the arid fields of monetary wars in the restricted hedonic area where the soviets wallow. Who ever cared at all for him? Ah, yes, his little daughter, Eunice. Just three yesterday.
Marguerite said: “Oh, Pompeu and Eunice became such close pals! He gave her a bath every morning. They went together to buy the croissants. She astride on his bull’s neck. Such domestic bliss! Who would’ve have thought! Your daughter will not recognize you either. Tough luck, meek lackey.”
Or something to that effect.
For Every Tib and Tom Cat
First of Covershame
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