Scarcely credible at first. Fevered blather, I thought. Dropping from his chops like the spells of a sick wizard. Told me he was all set to sue the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Hyper-Specific Tinnitus and Related Inconvenience.
Can't be done, I said. Flea's swapping cheese with Radiohead now. God knows the power of those two combined. Drive a mournful juggernaut straight up your guts. Never tango in this town again.
But total unconcern.
Ball's been rolling for decades, he said. Calm as a dead dog. And there's a peculiar extra feature.
He waved me towards his head. I leaned in. Round the side he said, ear to ear. Quizzed his muncher and he nodded. So that was it, flap to flap we dallied.
Rum future brewing in the man, I thought. Imagined the swift sink into gathering tics, erratic hours, lengthy corridors. How long before I'd start opting not to visit? Poor tosser. And with little Stanwix on the cusp of the academy... But you know: Wind. Caution.
And he held his breath and put out his hand. I followed suit. And what I then heard fairly scrambled my marrow.
Tinny and gruesome it sailed from his canal to mine: Neh-neh-yer message on the pavement, neh-neh-neh, neh n-neh-neh neh wave meant.
Feather daggers up my spine. I withdrew. Advised the unwiseness of tricks. Law-dodging. Hollow gold. Nodded my finger. But back in he beckoned me.
So I went ear-to-ear again and it hadn't bloody ceased. Neh-neh-n-neh-n-n-neh answers jer-jer-juh jer-juh-belly dancers. Incontrovertible. Obscene.
I stood up. Eel-mouthed. Molten. He laughed his hat off.
You've got them downright spatchcocked, I said. You'll not even need a lawyer. You'll be a bastard made of money.
A stammering set about me. An urge. Shameful, but I have to tell you now as I had to ask him then: How do I get in on this? I must have the method!
He drew his chin to his chest. Waggled his cabbage.
Can't say it's worth it, he said. Worse than the Meatloaf poltergeist. Man of your constitution'd be smashed into paste within the week, lucky I wasn't mangled gormless myself. But Stanwix.
He inhaled deeply.
The injections and the talking cure'll cost us half the settlement at least. I'm not sure why we bothered.
A thing continues not to happen. It's up to me how often it hasn't happened because I find out whether or not it's happened by checking my email. So lots. For a while I was checking it fifteen times a day. Although I hadn't heard the new message ding I thought one might've snuck in while I was thinking about all the insurance I'd have to get for all the stuff I'd be able to afford if the email contained the right kind of news. And then I started imagining I'd heard the ding while staring into the potato cupboard or rearranging the cobwebs in the bedroom. And I'd hurtle to the computer but the thirteen thousand unread emails hadn't turned into thirteen thousand and one. And I'd leave the house and trudge up hills and waddle along ridges and plod down slopes and pinball through copses and springbok over trenches under overwrought javelin rain, hearing the ding come out of passing cars and handbags and tanks twenty times a minute thinking one of these must be a sign, and I'd get home and towel off and microwave a plate of the dauphinoise of the week and kick open the computer, drooling, and the number at the top of the leftmost tab'd read thirteen thousand and one, and I'd click on it, and there'd be an email from someone I'd never met, asking me to throw woe at an overlord to raise its awareness of a disease bonanza or boring old massacre, and I'd eat the dauphinoise thinking things are bound to get better.
There's a new cash machine in the neighbourhood and it doesn't charge one ninety nine. It doesn't charge anything at all. It made the news, obviously, and in the queue we lamented all the one ninety nines we've slaughtered in the name of cider binges and new crisp flavours and emergency unnecessaries. Who did we think we were? Who did they think we were? Who did anyone think anyone was? A feeling of relief slithered round the postcode and the mayor stood by the machine for an hour at dusk to wink at people and pat them between the shoulder blades and say petitions work, petitions fucking work, and we all smiled and punched him on the shoulder and wept.
So I told her basically I'm a pie and there are two more fingers in me today than there were last week. Which obviously was already a few. Not even counting my own. So I'm not really going to have the time to… and my filling is delicious, but why doesn't one of us just get a fork? So it's a pre-employment questionnaire thing they sent to check I'm not diseased, or that whatever diseases I do have are not unfavourable, economically. Well for example like wanting to devote the majority of your waking seconds to doing the thing in the first place, I'd say. But she… yeah condition, alright substitute condition for disease and then tell me I'm wrong. Elaborately-packaged records and holidays in historically significant postcodes, mainly. And she'll just want to appreciate landscapes all week like she's the Ordnance fucking Survey. Well at the end there's a space for previous convictions, confessions and dubious misc, and I wanted to tell them about my butchering the dreams of other people, frying them up in tears and spice and serving them on beds of hope gone cold, which, y'know, I'm still fairly sorry about, but I just can't seem to stop doing it. Like I don't even enjoy it anymore, but I can't stop doing it, and they should probably know that about me, even though it's a night-time thing and won't affect my work, at all. But she said it'd abominably decrease my chances of success, and therefore of terrific holidays and elaborately-packaged records, and then I supposed that this kind of damage-limiting dishonesty is probably why we're still together. So I left it blank.
Efforts have been made. But we can't get an ear into every mouth.
I'm not prepared.
This could be ideal.
You sound uninterested.
We emerged did we not?
I'll be wanting proof.
We can do a spectacular receipt. May we suggest you begin before we finish?
Well, waking up and having to shower. Couldn't the showering be done while the dreams are occurring?
Better hygiene is one of our priorities going forward.
And a reduction in things to look at and think about.
We express alarm at your estimate of the girth of our remit.
And is it alright if I'm not perpetually astonishing myself?
A morsel of gentle improvement is the suggested weekly dose.
Who's doing the measuring?
It's a sort of consortium. We will send you a notched stick to aid you in what people will soon be calling the getting the hang of things thing. Put it in, remove it, return it using the pre-paid envelope and relax.
I don't remember signing up.
May we remind you of the frequency and malignity of your episodes?
And everyone else I know can only remember a lack of consent.
We have lately been skipping it, in certain cases, in order to better quicklify things.
So what were you insinuating?
It was simple concern, sir. Perhaps there was a context issue. For which, in the event of the need arising, we will apologise.
It's a long game and we're in it to win it. This is a notion on which you might dwell.
Have I mentioned my pulverising schedule?
The post-dwelling remains will be far better spent. Might there be something else before we recede?
A red light in my mouth that flashes when I repeat myself.
A similar thing is in the works. It will be on sale as soon as we are politely distanced from all the chokings.
I didn't really mean it.
There's no need to tremble about innovation meeting convenience.