King Size (Extension)

His gun was shiny black. He dropped it on the lawn.

Uncle Fred worshipped the shag-pile carpet Auntie Violet walked on.

Auntie Violet worshipped the shag-pile carpet Uncle Lenny walked on.

Uncle Lenny left Auntie Violet for an air hostess named Liz.

Auntie Violet threw herself under a train.

At her funeral, in the crematorium, all of us agitated in black shiny suits, Uncle Fred pulled out his shiny black gun and aimed it at Uncle Lenny – right between his padded shoulders. Uncle Arthur gently placed his hand over Uncle Fred’s gun, said: ‘Put it away, old son. This ain’t the time or the place.’

At the wake, in Auntie Violet’s parent’s back garden we had a long afternoon. Too much blue sky. Too much green grass. Black miasma of wasps. Food as if we could eat, drink as if we could enjoy it, family as if we could love.

All of this went spinning round, whirling faster, and blurring.

Uncle Lenny fell face first on the grass.

All of this went slow:

The black gun fell out of Uncle Fred’s hand, doilies fluttered under the sausage roll mountains, strawberries tumbled from double cream dollops melting on paper plates, a daisy quivered by his black shiny brogue as he took one hesitant pigeon-step backwards, a slimy alien sixty million light years away sweated under ten purple suns, a ladybird settled on my neck, a vanilla blancmange sailed over the trestle table, I opened my arms for its milkiness, two wasps danced their skinny leggys the length of Uncle Lenny’s lower lip, four silver-grey Jags drove past the privet hedge and down the alley, three more grey cars and a Police car drove by, slow, the curtains on both sides parted, eyes peered out from behind them. A dog barked, I ignored it, Pete shut it up with a mini pork pie, thirty thousand or more long dead plague bones buried under the heath, heaved together, heave-ho, the soil trickled into the ha-ha, Uncle Lenny’s head shifted like continental plates, claret bubbled from his left ear, trickled down his turkey neck, in and around the shrunken black forest of his 5 o’clock shadow, drip, onto a blade of green grass, slid down its bent length, soaked slow into the dirt, and gargoyles in the sudden clouds cracked rotten eggs over Uncle Fred’s up-turned head, thick yolk streamed from his eyeballs, yellow on the red of his nerve-rash.

Everyone reached for their cigarettes.

I sat down and smoked twenty fags on the trot, stood up and chained twenty more, went indoors, locked myself in their bathroom. The toilet was filthy avocado ceramic, enrobed in chocolate brown poo, the toilet bowl was a wide tunnel – I could see right down into the sewer – there was action down there, and plopping noises. The seat was adorned with barbed wire, so I perched my bum on the clammy rim, reluctantly. Hollow chrome rods stuck out from the squat cistern, thin arms either side of me, ungainly devices attached to two funnels with rubber nozzles on each end. A rusty metal bucket hung from the handle, holding bloated dog-ends floating in swamp water.

Uncle Fred was sucking on the nozzle to my left. Sucking in hard, holding the vapour deep in his lungs for long beats, exhaling it in steaming gushes of stink-clouds. He smelt like lost property. He was smoking the toilet, getting wasted on the waste-pipe, savouring the sewage. He unplugged his mouth, swivelled his head, looked in my eye, and he said: ‘Are you courting, yet?’

His face melted into a young man’s face, his lived life disappeared – he was a matinee idol with no past and a soulful future. And he kissed me, full on the lips, long linger. He tasted of begonias and truffles and samosas and birch trees. He nudged his slick, turgid tongue in my mouth. And he tasted of die-back, downy mildew, earwig, eel-worm, root rot, turnip gall weevil, shot-hole, shit-hole.

He told me:

1.Savour the flavour of harm.
2.Self-absorption leads to saturation.
3.Honesty is a spicy condiment, can cause acid reflux.
4.I have walked on rich men’s lawns, admired their ponds of carp.
5.I have raged in poor men’s paddling pools, lost myself in their crap.
6.There is no such thing as a clean break.
7.Death is constantly up-dated and revised.

Uncle Fred’s flapdoodle grew a flagellum, it wriggled and propelled him horizontally – darker and tougher than me – out the bathroom window, into the shotaway sky, floating his boat with blood-shot, crying eyes.

I told him:

I don’t give a shit what you say and I never loved you anyway and I will never love anybody. You are made of flaking layers and ramshackle structures are housing your parts, all divided. I keep myself sealed in a furry purse and there never was a key. You see money and chances to go up in the world. I see dustbins and unmade beds. Your conversations leave me cold. I can’t talk smooth like you and I always get things wrong. The moment I relish, as I pull on my fag, is when I’ve fucked things up so badly, I can just sigh and walk away.

In his vodka-numbed hand, Uncle Fred held his gun, thumped it between Uncle Lenny’s shoulder blades. With his nicotine stained finger, he pulled back the trigger, shot Uncle Lenny in the back.

Uncle Lenny crumpled side-ways and sprawled heavily on the grass. Two tiny spotlights of sun polished the top of his black shiny hair-do. His mouth hung slack, jaw at a broken-necked angle.

Armies of angry wasps came zooming out his big gob, their dense swarms describing the shapes of curvy women, saucy Page 3 blurs, exaggerated arrangements, twitching like strippers, gyrating like lap dancers, knee-trembling teasers in motion, hovering above Lenny’s prone body, spreading frantic massed legs, bending buzzing behinds, their lewd troops scattering far and wide for a brief, gasping moment, before flying back together and forming one solitary black figure: Auntie Violet, five foot four, with her face in her hands, shaking uncontrollably, lurching across the lawn – a staggering column of waspishness, humming with bereavement and stinging with despair.

She was spectacular. I wanted to applaud.

We mummified Uncle Lenny with long, pale loops of loo roll, shouldered him upstairs and rammed him, log-like, down the gaping toilet.

time took a cigarette, put it in my mouth

I pulled on the trigger, then another trigger, then my cigarette

the shag-pile is crawling, it cringes, then I regret

woe, woe, woe, woe –

I’m a toilet roll pesticide –

won’t let the moon fox my brain-box

won’t let the night bus drive me home

I’m so unnatural, sacrilegiously purblind

oh yes love! I am alone

I’ve got my fag all mangled up

but if I could only make you stare –

’cause I’m wonderful (wonderful)

Oh, gimme your fags –

’cause we’re (wonderful)


~ by yearzerowriters on August 29, 2010.

11 Responses to “King Size (Extension)”

  1. Such a vivid description of love and misery. Are you sure you’ve only been writing a few years Pen, this is beautiful, and because of the rich pain both Fred and Violet experience in this tale. Keep it going girl/

  2. I feel contempt for the English literary establishment for wittering on about Amis and Rushdie and ignoring work as good as this.

  3. Yes! Yes! Yes! I don’t know what the hell is going on, but it’s just so good!

  4. This was the piece Penny read on Thursday – hearing it live it was even better still, which is some going given how amazingly this reads. It’s really interesting seeing the lay out of the “drip drip” paragraph. Laid out like that you’d never think of having another “drip” after grass, but having heard it, it feels clear there should be – which makes such an interesting point about the difference between reading aloud and written.

  5. I like how you shun conventional stories and instead give us a tableau vivant of words.

  6. Thanks all! Dan – maybe I should cut the extra drip & simply slot it in for readings? As you almost say, it seems superfluous here.

  7. Surrealism, beautifully done.
    “Savour the flavour of harm.”

  8. This is so good and so pennylicious I can’t properly say anything. But I love the points, 1-7, the thirty-thousand plague bones, the shag-pile.

  9. You’ve got some great lines.

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