Lynton Cox’s “What The Dickens?” Part 5.4 – It Ends Here

 

Until Next Time Folks!

Until Next Time Folks!

Episode 5, Last part! (And thanks so much if you have come this far)

They took off over hills now and valleys, across seas, deserts and forests, through clouds into a sunset and the air became warm and balmy and full of the scent of flowers, and finally they landed on a mountain top overlooking a city of white buildings. There was a large columned building gleaming in the orange sunset. It looked vaguely familiar to Cox. They sat there on the hill in the soft grass among the white rocks. There was silence apart from birds singing.

“THE HOME OF DEMOCRACY. OF QUESTIONING AND PHILOSOPHY.”

Said the apparition who sat there next to Cox looking very much human now and as if a weight, if not his muslin bonnet and Confederacy cap, had been removed from him. He looked more like a monk in contemplation now than the original awful apparition and the breeze was blowing the wisps of his greying hair on his lined pink forehead.

[Read more…]

Share

Lynton Cox’s “What The Dickens?” Part 5.3

Is It Finished Yet? My Eyeballs Are Melting!

Is It Finished Yet? My Eyeballs Are Melting!

Episode 5, part 3 (I do hope you are bearing with me.)

The apparition gave the tearful, sobbing Cox no time to gather any argument and once again they took off into the blackness and the tableau below faded away. This time thankfully no demons assailed them and after a short time they alighted at a large wrought iron double gate with two stone pillars set in a high wall overgrown with ivy. It was still night but the whole scene was thrown in stark, eerie shadow by the glimmer of a gas light. The the gate creaked and clanked open and the spectre led Cox along a narrow gravel path. It had started snowing but a mist was hanging low on the ground and swirling as they moved through it. The spectre stopped and pointed and Cox looked at it questioningly.

“Move yah fuckin’ ass! We ain’t got all damned night! Go take a lookee see, I ain’t a pointin’ fer the fun of it asshole!”

Cox moved towards where the bony finger pointed and he saw protruding up through the mist and snow a stone, a headstone, of the cheapest kind. He brushed away the accumulating snow and what he saw froze his very heart.

Ebenezer Cox, born 1820, died….. it was the very next year.

“Yup Coxy it comes to us all sho nuff. Oh yeah, we all thinks we’s gonna live forever, ‘ticularly when we’s young. We push it ter the back of the mind until we cain’t help but think about it. But there you lie Ebenezer Cox like the rest round here. No epitaph, no “beloved father and brother, uncle”, o’ shit like that. Jest another victim of naichur, the eternal war. Did yah think yah’d have anythang else? Some eternal legacy? Look at me. Ah’m no different to anyone else. Ah lived mah life an’ ah done things that ah shouldn’t an ifn those hoody bastards round that table are right, then ah’s well weighed-down with sin jest like you. Within a few generations even those who have epitaphs, big tombstones an’ shit, gits fergotten an nobody brings ’em flowers anymore. Ifn nobody don’t remember them fer the good they did d’yah think anybody’ll remember their sins?”

“B..b..but surely people do good things in their lives sometimes? Does nothing count?” Asked Cox.

The apparition grabbed his hand abruptly and they were off again over the rooftops and shortly they found themselves in a large room full of people. They alighted next to a couple of old crones knitting and gossiping; One said to the other,

“They say ‘e laid there weeks afore anyone found him poor ole bugger”

Her companion replied nodding her head.

“Doesn’t surprise me, ‘e wuz such a miserable old git nobody went near the place, not even the neighbours, till they smelt something funny that didn’t smell of curry and didn’t go away by the mornin’ an’ then called a policeman. They say they found ‘im in ‘is bed strangled by his own nose hair. Curled right round ‘is neck it was and went down to ‘is feet it did! Crawlin’ wiv maggots the place was”

Another voice shouted from a dais at the front of the room

“Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to Snuffit, Clearit and Floggit Auctioneers. Today we have a mixed sale of effects from the, ahem, “estate” of the late Mr. Ebenezer Cox, gentleman of this parish.

Jeers and laughter went up from the room and shouts of “Gennelman?” and “Bloody hateful ole skinflint!” rang out along with boos and hisses.

Cox mumbled forlornly,

“Did nobody like me at all?”

“DID YOU DO ANYTHING TO MAKE ANYBODY LIKE YOU?”

“Now, now, ladies and gentlemen, let us ‘ave a little respect for the er sadl… er .. dearl…. The deceased… purlease!”

Said the auctioneer, bringing the room to order with his gavel, rather too peremptorily, for Cox’s comfort

“We have some, er, um, yes, very interesting lots today ladies and gentlemen. I’d like particularly to DRAW your attention to a lovely set of bed curtains, real moleskin they are, as good as new. Would do someone a good turn those; could make several pairs of lovely fashionable trousers those or a few nice gentleman’s waistcoats.

Groans from the crowd greeted the feeble pun.

“We have also an interesting and rare example of taxidermy; an Owl. Nearly new it seems since one can still smell the mysterious oriental spices used to embalm it. One never quite knows with people what their private hobbies and interests are and Mr Cox seems to have been a dark horse in that department. Quite what it was doing on the ground outside Mr. Cox’s house is a puzzle but, it has nevertheless not suffered at all from the recent snow and would fittingly grace any cabinet of curiosities.

As would likewise this box of er, what looks like coarse ginger hair but, which we have on good authority from the local museum, is genuine Mammoth hair, a very rare item indeed and for which we already have substantial interest and an absentee bid placed by Madame Bitters of the The John of Gaunt public house. A bid, may I say, so impressively high, that anyone who wants it will… and I am giving nothing away here, will indeed have to go it some today to beat her obvious palaeontological passion to possess it.

There are many more items of interest, boxes of assorted slightly stained underwear, gentleman’s hose, a walking cane and stand (the dead mouse comes free by the way), a gold half-hunter watch, etcetera, etcetera, so without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, let us pass to lot numb……”

The scene faded as Cox and the spectre once more shot away into the darkness and they found themselves hovering in the void

“Is this what it all comes down to in the end?”

Bemoaned Cox in a low sorry voice, bitterly shaking his bowed head

“What the hell d’yah think happens when you croak asshole? Where ah come from there are hundreds of charity shops with shelves lined with the books, trinkets and ornaments that belonged ter dead little old ladies an’ men who led blameless, downright evil or somewhere-in-between lives. Ev’thing that they didn’t go to the grave wearin’ is hung up in public view fer sale there. Ever’thin, that is,what their money-grabbin’ relatives didn’t care ’bout an’ others’ll pay good money fer. It all ends up in another charity shop or yard sale when the new owners ‘ventually die an’ so on forever or till each sad l’il trinket smashes or piece o duds wears out an’ in the end not even the least invisible trace of the memory of the lovin’ touch of someone’s skin on cotton or admiring hand on porcelain remains.

“It’s so sad so so so sad”

Cox whispered forlornly.

“I REALLY DO NOT KNOW WHAT PEOPLE ARE THINKING!

ALL THIS RUBBISH ABOUT POSTERITY! FOR GOODNESS SAKE! DO THEY THINK WE’LL EVEN GET NEAR APPEARING IN SOME FUTURE FOSSIL RECORD?

DON’T THEY KNOW THAT ONLY VERY FEW GET REMEMBERED AT ALL FOR ANYTHING REALLY GOOD OR BAD THEY DID?

EVEN THEN NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THE OUTCOME MIGHT BE OF ANY OF THEIR ACTIONS!

GOODNESS KNOWS, DESPITE THE ABE LINCOLNS AND WINSTON CHURCHILLS AND ALL THOSE OTHER SO-CALLED HEROS OF ONE THING AND ANOTHER IN HISTORY THAT WE RAISE UP AS GIANTS IN STONE ON PLINTHS, MY WORLD OF CHRISTMAS YET TO COME STILL FINDS ITSELF IN A SORRY MESS REGARDLESS OF THEIR GREAT VICTORIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE PAST!

“You mean I’m right about all those bloody politicians and celebrities and stuff? That my ideas and philosophy are right?”

Cox interrupted mocking and rather gleefully surprised, but the spectre cut him off

“RIGHT! RIGHT? WHO KNOWS WHAT IS RIGHT?

ALL WE KNOW IS WE FIND OURSELVES HERE WITH NO IDEA OF HOW WE GOT HERE OR HOW IT WILL ALL END.

WE THINK THERE MUST BE SOME PURPOSE TO THINGS. BUT WHAT IS THE PURPOSE, IF THERE IS ONE, OF A BUTTON OR A BEGONIA OR A BEETLE IN THE GREATER SCHEME OF THINGS, IF, AGAIN, THERE INDEED SUCH A SCHEME?

FOR ALL WE KNOW, THE IDEA OF MEANING OR PURPOSE MIGHT BE JUST SOMETHING THAT EMERGES ACCIDENTALLY FROM THE MESS OF CHEMICALS THAT WE ARE MADE OF.

THE WAY OUR BRAINS DEAL WITH THOSE THINGS WE CANNOT KNOW.

JUST LIKE WHEN THERE IS DEAD SILENCE WE THINK WE HEAR THINGS.

OR WHEN IT IS DARK WE SEE FLASHES OF LIGHT THAT AREN’T REALLY THERE.

OUR EYES AND EARS CAN’T COPE WITH NOT DOING THE JOB THEY ARE EVOLVED TO DO AND SO “INVENT” THINGS FOR COMFORT BECAUSE THEY CAN’T SEE OR HEAR ANYTHING. THEY JUST AREN’T MADE TO BE IDLE.

WITH THOSE THINGS WE CAN’T KNOW, IT IS THE SAME BECAUSE OUR BRAINS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO SOLVE PROBLEMS RATIONALLY AND FIND THE HOW OF THINGS. TO WORK OUT PURPOSEFUL ACTION TO ACHIEVE GOALS.

WE THUS IMAGINE THERE IS PURPOSE BECAUSE WE ARE HARD-WIRED TO LOOK FOR CAUSES AND EFFECTS.

BUT PURPOSE IS THE WHY OF THINGS THE GOAL OF AN ACTION.

HOW DID EVERYTHING START? WHERE WILL IT END? WHAT IS THE PURPOSE , WHY ARE WE HERE? WHY IS THERE SOMETHING AND NOT NOTHING?

WE CANNOT COPE WITH UNKNOWABLES – IMPONDERABLES.

JUST LIKE THE ANCIENTS DID FOR THOSE THINGS THEY COULD NOT CONTROL LIKE DISEASE, THE WEATHER, NIGHT AND DAY, OTHER NATURAL PHENOMENA.

THEY IMAGINED THAT THERE WERE UNSEEN GODS THAT DID CONTROL THEM

BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT THAT SINCE HUMANS CAN CONTROL SOME THINGS BY APPLYING PURPOSEFUL ACTION THEN THERE MUST BE OTHERS, SO AGENCY MORE POWERFUL, WHO CONTROLLED ALL THOSE THINGS THEY COULDN’T AND TO THE SOLE PURPOSE OF CAUSING HUMAN FEAR AND SUFFERING.

THEY COULD NOT IMAGINE ACTION WITHOUT PURPOSE. THEY FEARED HAVING NO CONTROL. AND THOSE WHO DID CONTROL WHAT THEY COULD NOT MUST BE FEARFULLY POWERFUL

THEY IMAGINED GODS WHO WERE DISPLEASED WHEN NATURAL FORCES WERE UNLEASHED UPON THEM. THEY THOUGH THEY NEEDED TO APPEASE THEM. SO THEY BUILT EFFIGIES AND TEMPLES AND MADE SACRIFICES TO THEM IN THAT HOPE.

IT DID NOT ALWAYS WORK OF COURSE BUT IT WAS ENCOURAGED BY THE PRIESTS BECAUSE IT GAVE THEM POWER OVER PEOPLE

IT’S THE SAME WITH THE GODS OF TODAY. WE APPEASE THEM BY DOING WHAT WE THINK THEY WANT OR WHAT THEIR PRIESTS TELL US THEY WANT.

AND SOME OF US EVEN STILL LIVE IN FEAR BECAUSE OF IT.

SOME MAY WELL INVENT RELIGIONS AND BELIEF SYSTEMS TO PROTECT THEMSELVES BUT THEY AREN’T PROTECTING THEMSELVES FROM THE WRATH OF SOME ANGRY GOD;

JUST FROM FEAR OF THE IDEA THAT THERE MIGHT BE NO PURPOSE TO ANYTHING. NO REASON. NO LIGHT AT THE END OF THAT TUNNEL OF THE NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE. THE COMFORT THAT, DESPITE ALL THE BAD THAT HAPPENS, THERE IS A PURPOSE TO OUR BEING AND OUR SUFFERING AND THAT THERE WILL COME A TIME THAT WE WILL FINALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT PURPOSE IS.

FOR IF THERE IS NO PURPOSE WHAT OTHER REASON IS THERE TO CONTINUE TO EXIST?

WHY CARRY ON IN THE FACE OF ALL THE PAIN THAT THIS MESS OF CHEMICALS THAT WE ARE ALSO INFLICTS UPON US IN OUR INTEREACTIONS WITH THE WORLD AND OTHERS AROUND US?

ARE WE REALLY JUST THE PRODUCT OF NATURE? THE ECONOMY OF WHICH MANY WOULD VAUNT AS ULTIMATE AND EXQUISITE, WITHOUT WASTE. OR ARE WE THE PRODUCT OF A DIVINE MIND THAT PUT US HERE FOR SOME MYSTERIOUS REASON ONLY IT KNOWS?

WHICH OF TWO SUCH ALTERNATIVE GREAT FORCES COULD HAVE SEEN FIT TO PRODUCE AS AN ABSOLUTE AND NECESSARY PART OF ITS UNFOLDING UNIVERSE; ITS GRAND EXPERIMENT, A SPECIES THAT REQUIRES SO MUCH SUPERFLUOUS TINSEL IN ITS LIFE SUCH AS DEVICES FOR TAKING SPIDERS OUT OF BATHTUBS, JUST TO ELIMINATE MINIMAL SUFFERING TO ITSELF AND ITS FELLOW BEASTS?

IS IT HUMANS THAT ARE GOOD OR NATURE OR GOD?
I DO NOT KNOW, BUT IF IT IS NATURE THEN WE ARE DOOMED ALREADY.

IF IT WAS GOD, HE REALLY HAS A STRANGE SENSE OF HUMOUR AND IS NOT VERY NICE AT ALL.

IF IT WAS MAN THEN PERHAPS THERE IS SOME HOPE AT LEAST SINCE, OF THE THREE, ONLY WE POSSESS THE POWER TO CHANGE THE AMOUNT OF HAPPINESS IN THE WORLD.

BUT WHAT IS HAPPINESS?

Cox was listening intently, warming to this argument since it made him feel far less guilty than he had been up till then;

“So can I be criticised for behaving as I do, bad or good, if it doesn’t matter? How could people tell whether in some so-called “morality tale” about me behaving as I have it gives them some positive direction in which to point themselves in the labyrinth of their lives if it’s all pointless? If self-gratification is the major thing in our lives then why not pursue it good or bad?”

“I AM AFRAID I AM REALLY NOT SURE I HAVE AN EXACT ANSWER TO THAT. BUT THROUGH TIME, IN THE AFFAIRS OF MEN THERE HAS BEEN A NEED FOR ORDER WHEREVER THERE IS MORE THAN ONE PERSON AND PERHAPS EVEN WITHIN US ALL ORDER IS REQUIRED.

WHAT HOPE MIGHT THERE HAVE BEEN FOR THE HUMAN RACE HAD THE FIRST MAN AND WOMAN SEEN FIT TO SATISFY EACH THEIR OWN SELFISH GRATIFICATION BY JUST BEATING EACH OTHER OVER THE HEAD?

TO SEEK NO COMPROMISE? TO COOPERATE?

THAT IS REALLY ALL ONE CAN SAY. WE NEED SOME RULES AND VALUES. SOME ORDER TO RUB ALONG WITH EACH OTHER.

WE MUST IMPOSE ORDER ON EACH OTHER AND ALSO UPON OURSELVES

HOW CULTURES HAVE SOUGHT THIS DIFFERS. IN SOME DISORDER MAY HAVE PROVED DETRIMENTAL AND THUS THEY EVOLVED TO BE ORDERED, BUT, ORDER WE NEED AND MUCH MORE THAN WE HAVE CURRENTLY JUST TO PREVENT OUR OWN PROFLIGACY.

WHAT YOU HAVE DONE IN LIFE EBENEZER COX MAY BE FROWNED UPON BY SOME OR INDEED LAUDED BY OTHERS OF A MORE RUTHLESS BENT; BUT IS IT BAD? CAN ANYONE REALLY SAY WITHOUT SOME SORT OF FRAMEWORK OF ORDER?

YOU HAVE NOT ACTUALLY BROKEN ANY SECULAR LAW. BUT THERE ARE SOME WHO WOULD SAY YOU HAVE BROKEN SOME INNATE UNIVERSAL MORAL RULE ”

“Bloody hell man you’re making no sense! Is it good to be good? or good to be bad? or bad to be good? or bad to be bad dammit?”

“I SEE YOUR MORAL COMPASS HAS BEEN PUT SOMEWHAT IN GIRATORY MODE BY THE LODESTONE OF SUCH PHILOSOPHY.

BUT AGAIN I REALLY DO NOT HAVE ANY ANSWERS FOR YOU.

IF WE AGREE THAT THERE ARE SUCH THINGS AS GOOD AND BAD AND RIGHT AND WRONG AND THAT THESE ARE STATES OF MIND GOVERNED BY THE CHEMICAL SOUP THAT FORMS US.

THEN, SINCE THESE CHEMICAL REACTIONS ARE GOVERNED BY UNIVERSAL PHYSICAL LAWS THERE MUST LOGICALLY EXIST A STATE OF MIND THAT WILL LEAD TO GETTING THE RIGHT ANSWER FOR ANY MORAL QUESTION.

BUT HOW WORSE THAT STATE OF MIND, HOW ABNORMAL, IS THAT STATE OF MIND THAT LEADS TO THE “WRONG” ANSWER THAN THE ONE THAT LEADS TO THE “RIGHT” ONE?

I HAVE NO IDEA. AND IF WE EVER FIND OUT, WHO IS TO BE THE JUDGE OF WHAT BRINGS GREATEST BENEFIT OR HAPPINESS TO THE GREATEST NUMBER?

DOING THE RIGHT THING MORALLY SHOULD ALWAYS BRING MOST HAPPINESS TO THE MOST PEOPLE

EVEN SO, SOME WILL STILL INEVITABLY SUFFER AS A RESULT OF OTHERS’ FINDING HAPPINESS. SUCH THAT THOSE WHO END UP SUFFERING, EVEN IF MINORITY WILL FOMENT DISCONTENT AND CONFLICT.

CONSIDERING ALL THE POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES THAT MIGHT FOLLOW AN ACT “GOOD” OR “BAD”, CAN WE REALLY SAY WHAT THE FINAL OUTCOME OF ANY ACT WILL BE?

IT IS ALL CONTINGENT, LIKE THE REASONS WHY THE BOY TIM DIED.

OSTENSIBLY BAD ACTS LIKE KILLING IN WARS CAN POSSIBLY HAVE GOOD CONSEQUENCES AND VICE VERSA.

FOR INSTANCE IF YOU GIVE A BEGGAR MONEY WHO THEN GOES AND GETS DRUNK AND KILLS SOMEBODY. THAT WAS NOT YOUR INTENTION ONE PRESUMES.

SO CAN ANYTHING BE GOOD OR BAD OR RIGHT OR WRONG THEN?

IT SEEMS WE HAVE A GREAT DEAL OF SKILL AT AVOIDING SUCH DIFFICULT ABSOLUTES.

WE HAVE TO, OTHERWISE PEOPLE WOULD BE AT EACH OTHER’S THROATS ALL THE TIME FIGHTING OVER SOMETHING OR OTHER.

WHY DO WE CONSIDER IT A CRIMINAL ACT IN OUR OWN COUNTRY TO FORCIBLY HOLD DOWN A LITTLE GIRL OR BOY AND MUTILATE THEIR GENITALS, YET IN A COUNTRY FAR AWAY WHERE IT IS PRACTISED BY MILLIONS WE FOB IT OFF AS “CULTURE” OR “RELIGION” AND THUS NOT INTERVENE AGAINST IT AS BARBARITY AND MORALLY WRONG?

SHOULD DISTANCE FROM US MAKE AN ACT LESS WRONG?

IT SEEMS THAT THROUGH HISTORY WE HAVE SPLIT INTO GROUPS THAT HAVE DIFFERENT VALUES AND WHERE SOMETIMES THOSE VALUES DIFFER GREATLY.

WE HAVE NO PROBLEM IGNORING SUCH RELATIVE VALUES HOWEVER DIFFERENT AS LONG AS THET REMAIN WITHIN THE FRONTIERS OF SUCH GROUPS.

IN THE END WE HAVE TO COMPARE SUCH GROUPS AND SEE WHICH VALUES HAVE LEAD TO THE MOST HAPPINESS FOR THE MOST PEOPLE AND COME TO CONCLUSIONS ABOUT WHERE WE SHOULD BE GOING.

ALL I CAN SAY THERE IS I WISH YOU MUCH LUCK!

SO PERHAPS WE SHOULD THANK EITHER SOME GOD OR OUR SOCIAL EVOLUTION FOR POLITICIANS AND PEACEMAKERS WHO HAVE TO DEAL WITH SUCH DIFFERENCES BETWEEN GROUPS. AND ASK OURSELVES IS IT ANY WONDER THEY SEEK NEVER TO BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE DECISIONS THEY HAVE TO MAKE?”

The voice changed.

“’An don’t you go thinking that ah’s goin’ soft neither. Not Francois J. Delamare Abraham, Jefferson, Jackson, Jordan III! Ass hole! Right ‘an wrong good ‘an bad don’t need no goddam Almighty, they’s jest as easy come by with secular ethical philosophy than bah some stoopid idea that they’s dictitated bah some invisible sooperior fuckin’ bein’ that y’all should be afeared of. An evolution don’t have shit ter do with it neither. Don’t forgit neither that them Bible-bashin’ “true believers” reckons you can sin even in thought an’ it ain’t no coincidence that in mah time we’s fought many a war agin countries wi’ governments who tried ter stop their people a thinkin’; an’ those that did think they stuck away in mental institooshuns for it. At he same time all those who think we should all become some world-wide lovey-dovey community all a doin’ o’ the same things an’ havin’ the same values is gonna have a helluva war on there hands!

Obviously thoughtful, Cox said

“Well I have perhaps sinned in thought enough but never passed to the act. And yes I haven’t been particularly nice to my fellow man and there is no secular law against offending people or being reclusive and misanthropic.”

Then he looked up miffed

“But you seem to be forgetting that you and I are here together doing this and that it doesn’t seem to be related to any secular ethic as far as I can make out. There was your mysterious committee remember, talk of Purgatory, Limbo etc., who were they then if not the supernatural guardians of some moral code? Not very secular THAT so what is all that about if you’re so damned sure? What about all the weight of sins you have to shed by this paranormal work-out involving me they condemned you to? You must have been a real bad bastard in life! What did you do that weighs you down so much?”

“’Taint none o’ yo’ fuckin business asshole what ah diyud! Anyhows, ‘taint half as bad as some. I was a Marine an’ proud of it. Got nuthin to regret! ‘Taint my fault ah didn’t manage ter dodge the draft by goin’ into a fuckin’ Seminary but hell Nam wuz nuthin’ compared ter that place! They had just enough time ter indoctrinate me with enough o’ that shit ter have an effect afore I wuz sent out there. Ev’thing ah did wuz right at the time! But war an’ religion both fuck yah up!

You git ter searching fer yer men taken pris’ner bah the Kong you don’t ferkin care ifn you blow the hayud off someone jest ter git yer men out o’ the clutches of those murderin’ torturin’ madmen. Yer don’t care ifn later yer guide some missile ter blow some ragheads on a desert road ter kingdom come. It’s yer job not to moralise yer paid ter do it whether like what yer leaders have gotten yer into or not, yer do it! Someone has to! We’re pieces in a board game, actors in a play. We’s individuals but we has ter act as groups. ‘Taint important what each man thinks, we got not choice, we have ter leave our real selves, our humanity at home.”

He continued, visibly upset despite his protestations of right

“But it wasn’t ME, not ME I tell yah who put cameras on the ends of missiles jest so someone could show some po’ fucker’s face on CNN in front o’ forty million people jest before he gets blown ter smithereens. And what good did that do? Did it change the world? Did it make people think all that fightin’ was wrong all that murder was wrong and vow to never go ter war agin’?

The bastards took the things I love, Cameras and images and they corrupted ’em, they trivialised the horror instead of pointing it out in snapshots that tell a thousand words an’ really make people think! My images are my legacy to the peace I fought for. They tell stories, they affected others in the right way. They were taken with love and good intentions whether a dawg in the street or a baby cryin’ or a couple getting’ married, a vase o’ flowers or jest a turkey in the woods. Fuck this!

Cain’t yah see I wuz weighed down by what others, governments an’ religion loaded on mah back not what ah put there, from mah own thinkin’ mahself. Ah wuz a good man, ah did what ah did an saw as right but also cuz I had no choice. MAH INTENTIONS wuz good an’ yeah, the road ter Hell is paved with ’em. But yer cain’t help not foreseeing consequences good or bad. Yer jest has to have no ill in mind.”

The spectre seemed to be almost weeping but nevertheless seemed to be carrying less of his burden and his features seemed to have solidified into the normal recognisable one of a human being.

“C’mon asshole we got few mo’ thangs to go see.”

To be continued…

Share

Lynton Cox’s “What The Dickens?” Part 5.2

This Must Have Taken Ages - The Author At Work

This Must Have Taken Ages – The Author At Work

Episode 5, part 2. (No, I’m not giving you a recap! this isn’t some sodding TV program made for the benefit of morons!)

At that; sparks and smoke shot from the four feet of the walking frame and they rose into the void like a sky rocket. There was still no noise, just the black emptiness, but out of this to Cox’s horror came flying directly at them the most grotesque figures. The wraiths and phantoms assailed Cox all around, poking him and taunting with fearsome horrible faces thrusting into his, whispering, glaring at him with their glowing red eyes and hissing,

“Repent Cox, repent, repent, repent!”

Other entities, imps and demons, more ferocious still, snapped and harried at his heels and others, each one more horrific than the last, came at him, pinching, poking and biting whichever parts of his body they could reach.

Cox screamed and struggled but Francois J. D etc, etc Jordan III, “Ghost of Christmas yet to come”, gripped his hand so tightly on the crossbar of the frame that it hurt him as much as the bites and scratches of the massed tormenting imps and devils that writhed all around them in that void. With his other hand holding the walking stick Jordan was frantically, very accurately and extremely violently batting away the assorted imps and wraiths and shouting vile obscenities, such as;

“Mo’fuckin’ hoody bastard ass holes can take those fuckers to the taxidermist” and

“Where’s mah Kimber 1911 ah’ll shoot yo’ ‘nuther two assholes, you sumbich bat-winged devil’s shit red-eyed midget!” at them.

Eventually, the Ghost shouted, pointing his stick, which now had disgusting oozing fragments and dripping strands of miscellaneous diabolical flesh hanging from it.

“Look down asshole!”

Cox looked doubtful

“Are you sure you will be alright?

“ Look down asshole! Ah had relatives who whupped ass at Fort Sumpter in ’63; these cotton-pickin’ pointy-eared, red-assed flyin’ Yankee shitbags don’t know shit ’bout layin’ siege ter no wimmin’s fuckin’ panty shop. Git on with it dammit!

Through the gloom Cox could make out some buildings and human activity. He thought the sight was somewhat familiar. As they descended he perceived something written on a wall

“ ‘ollocks”

“That’s Shuttlecock’s place, I’ve just been there!”

The ghost looked at him still waving his stick around ferociously beating off sundry devilish entities

“Shit man look closer!”

There was activity, lots of it. There was a fire engine and people running around, an ambulance was drawn up and people were tending to others who were looking dazed and confused, injured, sitting at the kerbside wrapped in blood soaked bandages.

Cox recognised some of them, Bob had a sling and the Colonel was leaning on a first-aider being led to an ambulance while Sir Derek, uninjured and at full action stations, seemed to have taken charge and was ordering people to do things. Suddenly the bustle stilled and from the door issued two men bearing a stretcher with a blanket draped over it and a sobbing Ma, bent and broken withered to half the woman she had been, walking bereft beside it with two women trying to comfort her.

The ghostly walking frame swooped slowly, the diabolical onslaught now abated, until it hovered about ten feet above and to one side of the stretcher. Bob had stood and walked slowly to the stretcher and lifted the corner of the blanket. It was then that Cox saw the lifeless pallid face of the boy with the grey pussycat toy in his limp arms.

Cox turned his head to the apparition with a questioning look of disbelief

“Yup, sho’ nuff its the rug rat what did y’all expect to see?”

“But b b b b but.” Cox started blubbering, “It’s all MY FAULLLLT! If I’d paid his father a living wage… been more thoughtful…”

“Ha! If if if if if s’always fuckin’ IF!” Exclaimed the spectre, mocking and going on,

“Yah think it’s all about YOU don’t ya? You you, you, you, po’ l’il Ebenezer Cocksuckin’ Cox, you ass hole, yah full o’ crap!”

“But it IS! I’ve been horrible to them all. ALL of them. They hated me for it and they were RIGHT! I gave no thought to the consequence of my actions. I was mean, selfish, full of bitterness and spite because of THAT WOMAN and how through my selfish indifference to her she left me. ME! I was too blind and proud to admit my own failings! I even insulted my OWN brother and those poor charity workers.”

“Cain’t you see nuthin’ bo’? Those beggin’ bastards after money fer the po’ is jest a bunch o’ ass holes. Oh yeah they’s a comin’ round at Christmas a preyin’ on the guilt o’ other po’ folks but they don’t tell yah that their boss gits paid mo’ in one year than the whole o’ the po’ in yo’ country can git in their whole lahftimes. Charity mah ass! What right they got ter prey on peoples like thayut? An’ that sumbitch bro’ o’ yours he’s happy ’nuff. What right he got a judgin’ you, cos judge you he does, a makin a effort ter invaht yah fer Christmas jest so’s he feels better that he tried an’ cain tell evr’body ’bout it! What’s thayut ifn not some smug holier than thou treasure-seekin’ in heaven thang?”

Cox looked at the spirit askance

“Are you sure you understand what you’re meant to be doing? Those instructions? What your spooky committee told you?”

“Sho’s hayull ah am bo’! Ah’s a Atheist, tho’ praps ah”m a startin’ ter think ah oughta change a few o’ mah views on thangs, but th’ain’t nuthin’ less Godly than those bastard ass holes who comes aroun’ a tellin’ yah what you oughta be a doin an’ hows yah oughtta be a doin’ it an’ shit’. Bet none of ’em take mo’ than a glimpse in a mirror ter tittivate themselves, ‘stead o’ lookin’ deep at what the mirror don’t show unless yah’s a real honest mayun.”

The spirit spoke once more, but this time the authority in it’s voice returned

“NOW COME COME COX SURELY YOU SHOULD HAVE GOT ALL THAT SELF-REVELATION AND AWARENESS BIT ALREADY FROM MY RATHER CAMP COLLEAGUE WHO I MET IN THE WAITING ROOM! THINK MAN! BUT ARE YOU TO BLAME FOR EVERYTHING HERE?

HERE, WE HAVE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A LITTLE BOY COSSETTED BY HIS PARENTS AND WHO NEVER LEARNED ANYTHING ABOUT THOUGHT FOR OTHERS JUST THE GRATIFICATION OF HIS OWN DESIRES.

HIS PARENTS PANDERED TO HIS EVERY WHIM AND THEY NEVER TAUGHT HIM THAT SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO DO WITHOUT AND YOU CANNOT ALWAYS HAVE INSTANT GRATIFICATION.

THEY WORKED THEIR FINGERS TO THE BONE FOR HIM, STRUGGLED TO GET HIM HIS PUSSYWUSSY FOR CHRISTMAS AND WHAT GRATITUDE DID THEY GET?

HIS SIBLINGS TOO WERE FORCED INTO SACRIFICE BY CIRCUMSTANCE BUT DID THEY COMPLAIN?

CRUTCHES AND WHEELCHAIRS AND HANDICAPS DON’T MAKE PEOPLE GOOD!

AFTER YOU LEFT HE STAMPED AND STAMPED IN HIS TANTRUM AND THE ROTTEN FLOOR GAVE WAY. THAT WAS AS MUCH HIS FAULT AS THE FAULT OF BOB AND MA THEIR SINISTRALLY BIASED LANDLORD MITCHELL.

“What d’y’ mean?”

Asked Cox, surprised and irritated and a bit confused.

MITCHELL WAS QUITE HAPPY TO GROPE MA’S AMPLE STRUCTURAL ATTRIBUTES AND IGNORE THE OBVIOUS STRUCTURAL DEFECTS OF THE PREMISES HE RENTED TO THEM.

SHE IN TURN WAS HAPPY TO BE GROPED AND BOB HAPPY TO TURN A BLIND EYE FOR THE SAKE OF A CHEAP ROOF OVER THEIR HEADS.

NO, COX, NO ONE PERSON IS OF IMMEDIATE BLAME HERE IT EXTENDS BACK IN A CHAIN AND OUTWARDS IN A NETWORK.

INDEED, SHOULD ONE BE OF SUCH A POLITICALLY CRITICAL BENT ONE MIGHT GO BACK AS FAR AS GOVERNMENT WHICH CREATES THE SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT OR EVEN TO SOME DEITY WHO ALLOWS SUCH THINGS TO HAPPEN EVEN THOUGH HE KNOWS THEY WILL HAPPEN AND SUPPOSEDLY HAS THE ABILITY TO PREVENT THEM. HIS EARTHLY “REPRESENTATIVES” EXPLAIN THAT AWAY BY FREE-WILL (BUT THAT IS JUST OUR WRITER BORING US WITH PHILOSOPHY AGAIN – TAKE NO NOTICE).

NO COX, THE RESPONSIBILITY IS SHARED BY AS MANY AS ONE WISHES TO INCULPATE. WE ARE ALL, IN THE END, ANSWERABLE, FOR THE FATES OF EACH OTHER AND THE WORLD. BUT WE ARE ALSO RESPONSIBLE FOR OURSELVES AND ONLY EVER OUR OWN VICTIM.

To Be Continued…

Share

Lynton Cox’s “What The Dickens?” Part 5.1

 

This Shit's Getting Really Evil Now.

This Shit’s Getting Really Evil Now.

(The really loooong one – soo long in Fact Facebook has to handle in it separate posts (Twats pandering to short attention spans and trivia! Furry pussies? Bah Humbug!)

(You really thought you were going to get away with it didn’t you readers. All I can say is Mwahahahahah! )

Episode 5 Part one (dammit!)

(In which our tale reaches its conclusion………….eventually)

It was dark…

It was still dark…

The spectre of the boy had been gone, Cox knew not how long. He had expected to find himself as before in the familiar surroundings of his own bedchamber, something that had punctuated the flow of the narrative of his spectral visitations this night and which although it had done nothing to allay the dreadful unease and fear that the experiences and events he had witnessed had engendered in him, it had at least given him the convenience of not having to trust his dubiously constructed absorbent oriental underwear. Furthermore, due to the sudden cold, he felt the same oddly sympathetic and urgent male reflex that for some reason also happens when a man comes across running water.

It was still dark…

And cold…

And Silent…

The silence to Cox was that of popular simile- of the cold cold grave. Only this was no grave, he was not surrounded by the cold earth and clay, just dark nothingness, profoundly cold and silent. It was a silence of piercing clarity; so clear it was plainly audible and it drowned even his heartbeat and together with such darkness of striking visibility, annihilated his very being. The only evidence of his existence he had was his flesh, which crept like an anthill. Those same black insects were marching over his skin slowly and invisibly, covering and suffocating him. Insidiously his nerves slow-marched in step with them from unease and uncertainty, and crawled on, bearing him helplessly like some prey, through increasing degrees of anxiety at the feel of those innumerable, relentless little feet swarming over him, and taking him on to fear, then terror and finally to the edge of abject gibbering panic in that overwhelming dark, cold, nothingness.

“AHEM!”

Cox’s horrified near-somersault left him with his internal organs in complete disarray. His heart found itself in his mouth and his stomach hung like wrinkled breeches around his ankles. Yet, his bladder, he could feel was still in its usual location since a warm feeling was now spreading across his lower pelvis like ink on Asiatic blotting paper.

“Who is it? Who’s there? Who are you? Show yourself!

Cox squeaked and squawked in blind panic turning about him rapidly, arms flailing in defence
“AH THERE YOU ARE!”

The disembodied voice boomed again.

It was a deep and sonorous almost-whisper, a voice, possessing great authority. Smooth and viscous but without unction. A voice without menace but one that definitely commanded capitalised attention of the sort one knows that, if ignored, will result in “consequences”, rather than that “shouty” capitalisation Cox was more used to in the readers’ comments sections of the newspapers he tended to frequent.

“ABOUT THIS LATE UNPLEASANTNESS…”

“What do you mean? What do you want of me! Who are you?

Cox was panicky, anxious and trembling still but getting very annoyed; a common result of fear and the fact that the absorbent capacity of his inscrutable oriental underwear had been exceeded and was now somewhat audible and thus very scrutable were there anyone in that place to “scrute” it.

“LOOK, CAN WE PERHAPS BE CALM ABOUT THIS?”

The voice had a definite accent about it. Like an American from the Colonies yet, trying very hard to put on an almost fruity British accent, rather like an American film actor playing an the oh-so-English villain. As if Walter Cronkite were trying to imitate Stephen Fry or Donald Sinden. But it was pleasant and mellifluous, charming; a voice of authority, a voice to be trusted even were it recounting the greatest deceit, slander or untruth. A voice who could convince the Pope himself that the Holy Mother Mary was a common whore, and that this was just a mere matter of universally accepted common fact acknowledged even by the Saviour himself. It was exempt of any shadow or suspicion in its tone or inflection of anything to be understood that was euphemistic, unsaid, cryptic or concealed in its mellow depths. A voice of the sort to be feared. A voice of the “true documentary”, a voice that confirms and affirms the truth deep within you of all those things you didn’t know you already believed. A voice that sends men happily to death and helps them greet it with an enthusiastic welcome; eternally grateful to it for having shown them there and given them such a unique privilege. A voice that kills yet takes no life. A voice of integrity beyond reproach. The perfect criminal voice responsible for and that gets away with all crimes since it commits not one of them.

Even so, in the throes of instinctive fight or flight, the angry, wily old Cox was having none of this voice.

“Who are you? Show yourself! Don’t think I’m going to make a fool of myself shouting into complete nothingness at some disembodied Colonial apparition who for some reason doesn’t want to appear! Damnation!”

He had stamped his foot petulantly, but there was nothing there, he was still floating.

“I AM REALLY DOING MY VERY BEST HERE…”

Sighed the voice with great forbearance but as if speaking to some middle distance or to someone else who might have been watching with a disapproving look.

“You ARE a bloody Yankee! I kne..!”

It seems in his minuscule triumph of blind ethno-linguistic classification Cox had failed to measure his words despite his knowledge of the recent civil troubles that had afflicted those former colonial parts of the world and the sensibilities that lingered as a result. The voice cut him dead.

“Who you callin’ “Yankee” you sumbitch, mo’fuckin’ hoe’s son. You horse ass’d cocksuckin’ Limey faggot!!??”

Came the rather overheated reply in an accent one might surmise to have been a better approximation of the one habitual for its possessor than the language of its first approach. It stopped as abruptly as it started, the resulting silence echoing with the sound of another even more profound. Cox was rendered speechless. A man never lost for a cruel put-down was struck dumb. It wasn’t that cursing, sometimes extremely vehement and vituperative, particularly when it came to shopkeepers and pot-boys with no concept of service (and particularly the latter who allowed body fluids to seep all over his evening meal) was not Cox’s habitual turn of phrase. It was just that his cursing and oaths were more limited in creativity; restricted to those most common Anglo-Saxon expressions considered acceptably profane in a rather repressed Victorian England.

Apparently now having regained some composure the voice came back again

“OH DEAR I AM TRYING MY BEST, I REALLY AM, BUT I’M RATHER A BEGINNER AT ALL THIS.”

Cox eventually found his own voice hiding, somewhat shocked and afraid, and trembling somewhere in a hidden corner of his throat but managed to say,

Am I dead? Is this purgatory then?

“NO, I THINK THEY THREW ME OUT OF THERE”

“Then where the He…. are we there, in that place?”

“NO, YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, I THINK IT DOESN’T QUITE WORK HOW PEOPLE THINK? AT LEAST SO FAR AS I CAN TELL.”

Well where then?

“LIMBO, I IMAGINE. I’M NOT SURE. IT’S AS I SAID, SOMETHING OF A LEARNING CURVE FOR ME.”

“You got thrown out of Purgatory? Ye Gods ! You must have been some sort of monster if you got thrown out of there. Stay away from me, be gone!”

“NO, I SAID IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT AT ALL, AT LEAST SO FAR, TO MY POOR KNOWLEDGE!”

“Are you like that fat angel in that bloody silly film then; got to earn your wings or something? You’ve come to the wrong man if you have.”

“I’VE NO IDEA! WHY DON’T YOU LIST…OH IT’S NO GOOD, I CAN’T GO ON TALKING LIKE THIS IT’S JUST PREVENTING ME BEING ME.”

This was the first hint the commanding voice had given that its owner might possess any feelings like frustration, exasperation or irritation. But whomsoever the unseen bystander to whom this latter comment was directed, they would surely have been left with no other impression than that the apparition was in no mood for playing by the rules of their “silly little game”. If “game” it was.

There was a glimmer from far above and a ray of light came down, rather like in a theatre Cox once visited. He found himself at the edge of a pool of light, the other side of which stood, or rather floated, a figure. Cox could make out in the gloom that it was garbed in a long, hooded, black robe. The apparition’s hands he could not see since they were shrouded in the long voluminous sleeves of its robe but they grasped a silvery metal frame rather like a small table with no top. The apparition seemed to be leaning heavily on this object for support. Hanging from one of the bars there was an object Cox recognised, a walking cane of bent wood, and another he didn’t, a white plaque with a large letter L inscribed on it.

The apparition’s face too was in shade, being covered by the capuchin which came below the forehead and full over the nose so in the penumbra, made darker still by the brightness of the light separating them which shone in Cox’s eyes, he could make out little other than that this was a drab dark figure about his own height that seemed, unless his eyes deceived him, to have a bushy white moustache. He did notice too that pinned somehow to the front of the robe was a small piece of threadbare tinsel that glinted somewhat half-heartedly. The sort of feeble decoration one might commonly find at Christmas in non Christian-run establishments such as, oriental restaurants, Levantine grocery shops and Israelite Tailoring emporia, gracing a minuscule, pathetic, scrawny, Fir tree equally threadbare and bereft of needles. A token and very economical way of making a concession to the season of the religious majority and a signal, that however “heathen” or no the proprietors might think others think they are (but usually don’t), they are still quite magnanimously prepared to take your money even should you wish to part with it in the name of your abominable blasphemy. Furthermore, they might even wish you a Merry Christmas too if they thought it would help their pockets jingle more festively.

Cox continued his bravado.

“What sort of confounded wight are you? C’mon speak up! Thrown out of Purgatory? Only think you’re in Limbo? Explain yourself! I assume because of that tawdry bit of glitter on your rags you’re another sort of spirit of Christmas! You don’t seem to be very professional at it.”

The voice rejoindered more comfortably in its unusual, Cox supposed it to be regional, vernacular.

“I see yah usin’ mo those hifalutin’ words that bastard writer done puttin’ in yah mouth! I ain’t none o’ that fuckin’ man, witch or elf shit. I’m Francois J.D etc, etc, Jordan III and don’t you forgit it! Mess wi’ me an’ you’ll end up gaitor bait you mean, shrivelled, miserable, sinful Limey asshole!”

Cox flinched as there was a sudden movement

The apparition threw back it’s hood to reveal a head, yet not a normal head, almost disembodied, one moment skull-like and the next incarnate; appearing and disappearing alternately as if composed of vapour, with a face lined with age yet, Cox estimated, he could not be much older than himself but aged due mainly to the burdens upon him and many trials and tribulations experienced during life.

“Now yah listen to me ass hole, I ain’t got no idea much what’s a happenin’ here. One minute there’s this guy sticking a mask over my nose and the next I’m in some tunnel movin’ towards a bright light. Then I find myself waitin’ my turn in some room with a bo’ from the hood and some faggot stinkin’ o’ smoke an’ smearing himself with some white gunk, and then at a table with a bunch o’ faceless mofo’s dressed in black a tellin’ me that that I’m, I cain’t remember where an’ ah don’t wanna know either.

Apparently I cain’t be weighed in no balance seein’ as how they ain’t come across nobody with such a soul-burnin’ burden of sins and hows if they WUZ to weigh me then it would likely screw up their goddam weighin’ machine and hows they couldn’t risk makin’ wrong decisions because of the demand for places exceeding the supply since they have ter be fair ter Mankind or some shit like that. They said they wuz goin’ ter put me on a “little diet”, sarcastic ass holes. They tole me that mah mo’fuckin soul needed some exercise – dumb ass pieces o’ dung!” And what better way ter do it than savin’ the ass of some other overweight mofo soul, an’ then they put a paper in mah hand. They dressed me up like some Grand fuckin’ KKK Wizard and pointed out this sign sayin’ “Redemption thataway” an’ then said I’d meet someone an’ I had to show him the way an’ they said I’d better lose the “accent” else it might take longer than I wanted.

Now I’m here an’ you’d better listen to me ass hole, cuz accordin’ ter this paper here we got places to go an’ ah’m in a hurry! And by the fuckin’ way I’m the “Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come” an’ much good may it do for you to know it ass hole that Frankie the J. don’t stand fer no sumbitch shit an’ nonsense from nobody! Speshully a sumbitch Limey faggot like y’all! SEE!”

The apparition stood before Cox in a temper, with it’s moustache bristling, obviously very angry and impatient. Cox noticed for the first time that on its head it wore a sort of strange muslin bonnet on top of which was placed a military cap with a red badge with crossed blue bars with white stars that he thought he vaguely recognised but he had no time to think because the spectre, having gradually got nearer to him with the help of its walking frame, shot out its bony hand and grabbed Cox by his own equally bony arm forcing his hand to hold the bar on the frame saying,

“Git on the hog ass hole we’re a goin’ for a ride or d’yah want ah beats yah like a red-headed child with that stick there?!”

Share

Lynton Cox’s “What the Dickens?” Part One

 

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells etc etc etc

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells etc etc etc

Well friends, it’s December so I suppose there’s no longer a reason for an old misanthrope like me to moan about Christmas decorations in the shops and seasonal stuff going on when it isn’t yet the season to be jolly. But hey, I can always moan about not being able to moan, even being a misery has its bright side! Day by day we can get jollier and jollier and spite miseries like me who continue their miserable shenanigans until such time, as like Gary Cooper, we get sent a wingless angel to show us the error of our ways having first rescued us kicking and screaming from a wintry river where we wanted to end it all.

Anyway my friends I have prepared for you a salutory seasonal tale that warns of the dangers to miseryguts like me and what might happen if we don’t mend our ways. I shall publish each installment in true Victorian magazine fashion, weekly, up to Christmas when the denouement will be published and by which time you will all be on the edges of your seats or have got bored and gone down the the pub . Amen to that!

Here is the first of several installments of:

What the Dickens?

Part1. In which we become acquainted with the parsimonious misanthropic Ebenezer Cox and his activities.

The sign over the door of the backroom of the shop says “Cox”. Well it actually says “Shuttlecock, Frimley and Cox”, but the other two names have been crossed out. Shuttlecock and Frimley were long years dead. That you have to understand, dear reader, for if disbelief you do not suspend, no wonderment can come of this tale.

Cox knew this fact as sure as he knew the tattoo on his left buttock said “I’m the funniest man on Earth” and the one on the right said “Rhetoric rules is that OK?” The one in the middle said “Bollocks” but that was more by way of a reminder than a pithy statement.

The register of their burials was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner, Cox himself, signed it too. Old Shuttlecock, old Frimley were as dead as door-nails. I will not query this simile for, dear reader, you would consider it an odd Victorian pedantry, fit only to be read in pompous tones by an ageing but venerable homosexual actor in the guise of an overly sanctimonious, bearded and coiffed literary “giant” and social reformer who needs to use verbiage and long words as sure as an ursine mammal requires to defaecate in a highly wooded area.

The shop window, grime-covered, allows in, grudgingly, what light is left of this three o’clock snow-rapt, frosty Christmas Eve and outside the gas lamps twinkle into existence as people wrapped against the icy air hurry about their business to carry joy, gifts and seasonal blessings to their friends and loved-ones; halloo-ing and hailing compliments to fellow city dwellers known and unknown with blythe looks of anticipation.

The shop is dark and cold and the cold seeps into each abode and workplace through every crack and crevice in wall, window and wretched damp floorboard. Perhaps this is not quite true for chez Shuttlecock, Frimley and Cox because the cobweb-draped gloom and dust-decrepit misery that pervades this place has a chill of its own that, whatever the temperature, defies nature by flowing; flowing out and polluting everything with its mean frigidity contrariwise to the laws of thermodynamics.

The doorway to the room is vaguely lit from within by the dim glow of candles and as one enters in, the glow of two glass screens makes silhouettes of two men and the only sound to be heard is the scuttle of mice among discarded bread crusts on the floor and the rapid tap tap tapping of long spindly fingers on two keyboards.

A voice is heard.

“Erm… Mr. Cox, Sir? I… I..”

It is the voice of Bob Shuttlecock, Cox’s clerk. A bright cheerful being who, out of grudging pity, Cox took on, contrary to his usual innate spite, since it was a condition of the last Will and Testament of his dead partner Obadiah Shuttlecock. He had been the lad’s ward and Great Uncle, having sheltered him and fed him and saved him from the workhouse after the death of his poor parents who had died during the “Great Stink” of ’31. Shuttlecock the elder and the previous clerk Martin Fuckwitt had met their end together whilst walking in the street when a passing Carpenter’s cart had shed its shed-load of prefabricated sheds upon their unwitting persons who then rather rapidly shed rather than, shuffled off, their mortal coils. Dead they were and so flat they could have posted them to the mortuary for the price of a penny black rather than the exhorbitant florin that shocked Cox who had to hand it over to the undertaker.

“Out with it Shuttlecock! I know! I suppose you’ll be wanting Christmas day off as usual this year. Can’t think what Shuttlecock and Frimley were doing letting clerks have it off in the first place! But I shall expect you in at five the next morning! You can have it off, Shuttlecock , as no doubt you do, frequently, with all those sprogs of yours, but you know the terms, five o’clock! Right? Go on say it! SAY IT!!”

This same scene was played out year on year as Shuttlecock stood head bowed

“Go on Shuttlecock I want to HEAR it!”

A mumbled response

Louder! LOUDER man!

“Five o’clock, Sir, on the dot sir, thank you Sir you are kind and generous to a fault Mr. Cox Sir.”

“Christmas? Humbug! You won’t catch any of the writers or my Facebook friends taking a day off from Facebook, sad bunch of bastards! Oh no! He he he he!”

The frosty rime of this cold cold place was on Cox’s head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He exuded his own low temperature; and with it he iced his office in the summer; and didn’t thaw it one degree at the depth of the Winter Solstice, making no exception for Christmas. Even the candle flames shrunk at his approach.

Cox glanced at the clock on his computer screen, it was ten past three. He glanced at the dull window. It was cold, bleak, biting weather: foggy withal: there was fog on the Essex marshes too, but that was a bleaker story still. He could hear the people in the court outside go wheezing up and down, beating their hands upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the pavement stones to warm them. But what did Cox care? It was the very thing he liked! Fog, cold fog. To edge his way along the foggy crowded perimeter paths of life, warning all human sympathy and frailty to keep its distance. Telling everyone how ridiculous they are and calling people names and spreading vile invective and untruths, being steeped in the misery of the World and its vile people and events, was what the knowing ones call nuts to Cox; as were the consequences and responsibilities.

“A merry Christmas, brother! God save you!” cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Cox’s brother Augustus, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach.

“Bah!” said Cox, “Humbug!”

He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this brother of Cox’s, that he was all in a glow and steaming; his face was ruddy and handsome; his blue eyes sparkled like icicles, and his breath smoked again as he spoke.

“Christmas a humbug,?” said Cox’s brother. “You don’t mean that, I am sure.”

“I do,” said Cox. “Merry Christmas! What RIGHT have you to be merry? What REASON have you to be merry? You’re poor enough. Look at all the misery in the World! All those people on Facebook, bowling along pretending life is good, sticking up pictures of every nook and cranny of their boring private lives to human view, oblivious of the realities of the doom about to fall upon them all.”

“Come, then,” returned the brother gaily. “What right have YOU to be dismal? what reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”

Cox, having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said, “Bah!” again; and followed it up with: “Humbug.”

“Don’t be cross, brother,” said Augustus.

“What else can I be,” returned Ebenezer Cox, “when I live in such a world of fools as this Merry Christmas! Out upon merry Christmas. What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in ’em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could work my will,” said Cox indignantly, “Every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. They deserve it! They can see what’s going on in the world, they don’t care about it and can’t think further than the next episode of the latest bloody soap opera on telly. Bollocks to them all, they don’t deserve saving, nor peace nor goodwill none of ’em!”

“Ebenezer!” pleaded the brother.

“Brother” returned Cox, sternly, “Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.”

“Keep it!” repeated Augustus. “But you don’t keep it.”

“Let me leave it alone, then,” said Cox. “Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you! Much good has it done anyone!”

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say, and there are many ills in the World about which I may not continuously give thought nor cogitate upon the morality thereof” returned Augustus: “ But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round – apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that – as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys and out to wreak evil. And therefore, Ebenezer, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket on Black Friday or any other day, I believe that it HAS done me good, and WILL do me and others good; and I say, God bless it!”

Shuttlecock who had all this time been steadfastly tapping his keyboard, revolved around in his seat and involuntarily applauded. Becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety, he pretended to fiddle around with his mouse and erased a whole hour’s work with one click.

“Let me hear another sound from YOU,” said Ebenezer Cox, “and you’ll keep your Christmas by losing your situation. Testament or no bloody Testament!”

“You’re quite a powerful speaker, sir like many of those misguided souls that haunt Facebook,” he added, turning to his brother. “I wonder you don’t go into Parliament with the rest of the moronic bunch of ’em.”

“Don’t be angry, brother. Come! Dine with us tomorrow.”

Cox said that he would see him in….. – yes, indeed he did, loudly so. He went the whole length of the diabolical expression, and said that he would see him in that extremity first.

“But why?” cried his brother. “Why?”
`
“Why did you get married?” said Cox.

“Because I fell in love and discovered that there was more to life than the Internet.”

“Because you fell in love!’” growled Cox, as if that were the only one thing in the world more ridiculous than a Merry Christmas. “Good afternoon!”

“Nay, Ebenezer, but you never came to see me before that happened. Why give it as a reason for not coming now?”

“Good afternoon,” said Cox.

“I want nothing from you; I ask nothing of you; why cannot we be friends brother?”

“Good afternoon,” said Cox.

“I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute brother Ebenezer. We have never had any quarrel, to which I have been a party. But I have made the trial in homage to Christmas, and I’ll keep my Christmas humour to the last. So a Merry Christmas to you brother!”

“Good afternoon!” said Cox.

“And A Happy New Year!”

“Bollocks and now just fuck off!” said Cox.

His brother left the dingy room without an angry word, notwithstanding. He stopped at the outer door to bestow the greeting of the season on the clerk, who, cold as he was, was warmer than his employer; for he returned them cordially.

“There’s another fellow,” muttered Cox; who overheard him: “my clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife and family, talking about a merry Christmas? Lunatic he is! I’ll retire to Bedlam.”

Walking In A Winter Wonderland

Walking In A Winter Wonderland

This ‘lunatic’, in letting Cox’s brother out, had let two other people in. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood, with their hats off, in Cox’s office. They had books and papers in their hands, and bowed to him.

“Shuttlecock, Frimley and Cox, I believe”, said one of the gentlemen, referring to his list with his finger. “Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr Cox, or Mr Shuttlecock or Mr. Frimley?”

“Er er…that depends”, said Cox, hesitating, “If it’s about copyright, it’s not me you want, I’m not responsible for those idiots who write comments on my page. Anyway if it is, you must be the only ones who read that rubbish because nobody else visits it and all the “friends” and “comments”are completely made up. That’s what Shuttlecock does all day.”

“No it’s for the poor people, the orphanage”, said the most rotund and rubicund of the three.

“Well in that case the three of you mendicants can bloody well fuck off and don’t let the door hit you in the arse as you go out. Go on sod off!”

Cox stamped back toward his desk, only stopping to squat and defaecate profusely into the small earth closet dug into the centre of the floor. “Humbug” he grumbled again. “Shuttlecock! Did you remember to put all the Christmas comments up and the links to Christmas films and stuff?”

“Yes sir”, came the reply

“Can’t have anyone enjoying things like Christmas can we Shuttlecock? Not when there’s so much misery in the world eh? They need reminding now and then! Nice people expecting to be confronted with a suicidal Gary Cooper and some fat wingless angel soaking wet by the side of a freezing river. Likewise, a happy family gathering, grandma, grandad, mum, dad, all the kids waiting for their annual dose of Christmas tear-jerking schmaltz. It’ll wake them up to see Tracy Lords stroking some great big cock all over the screen or to go to some page about human trafficking or female circumcision. Show the kids what their parents really get up to, what all those “noble savages” in far off lands are really doing to each other. Bloody hypocrites!”

His very words thickened the very fog and the darkness so, that people ran about with flaring torches, proffering their services to go before horseless carriages, and conduct them on their way. The ancient tower of a church, whose gruff old bell was always peeping slyly down at Cox out of a Gothic window in the wall, became invisible, and struck the hours and quarters in the clouds, with tremulous vibrations afterwards as if its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there. The cold became intense. In the main street, at the corner of the court, some labourers were repairing the gas-pipes, and had lighted a great fire in a brazier, around which a party of ragged men and boys were gathered: warming their hands and winking their eyes before the blaze in rapture.

“Fuck the lot of them”, thought Cox. But for tap tap tapping, silence descended on the two men and the gloom and darkness closed in once more.

At length the hour of shutting up the shop arrived. With an ill-will Ebenezer dismounted from his stool, and tacitly admitted the fact to the expectant clerk.

“Remember, Shuttlecock, five o’clock!” said Cox..

Cox too donned his coat, hat and cape, scarf and gloves and ignoring the cheery “Merry … er… sorry sir” as Shuttlecock skipped into the night, he snuffed the last candle, stepped out of the door and locked it behind him, before making his way to his usual tavern for a meagre dinner.

Cox was unaware because his back was turned but the water-plug being left in solitude in the horse trough, its overflowings sullenly congealed, and turned to misanthropic ice which flowed and moulded itself, distorting into the glimmerings of words the glows and the twinkles of flares and braziers. The words read, Cha…. and were then swallowed by the fingers of threading fog.

To be continued…

With apologies to Charles Dickens

Share