The Wicker Bahm
A rural rampage.
A wedding, a funeral. A recipe for diabolic broth. Moving through time and space using advanced quilt theory. Fat quarters purchased on the hoof.
The Wicker Bahm looms in the dying sunlight. Foul plans and rituals are afoot.
We are all pre-Christians here.
What is time? It’s really meaningless. Some folk thrive on time…go-getters and the motivated 100% bone on the concept of getting things done at the right time and within the correct parameters. I say fuck that. The moment I have to be at the spar at ten to six to buy fags I’ll do anything to avoid the said appointment. Bungalow bill. So anyhow, fuck that.
Its ten to 11 in the darky and inside the Glass community hall all hell is letting rip. A tribal celebration is underway, the joining of two minor families in holy matrimony, the dowry was steep- 200 chickens and a tin of castrol GTX, the deal was dogged by the bridegrooms father demanding “one of them broadband router things so a can look at naked women on the computer”, this was I minor blip, the brides cousin worked in IT so he managed to score the router at trade prices.. All I remember is a home made bar in the back room manned by rural women. See the thing about the country is they all have the same haircut, there’s no choice involved. Country barbers make the decision for you. If you’re male they buzz you,. god knows how they know what level to use those clippers-maybe they look at you and think- shit this boys got good lugs- regal, glorious lugs- the mark of a king or at least a noble savage. And they think- that’s a skull that should be on display at the museum of Scotland, I’ve really got to give him a number two at least,- whether or not he really wants one. A fraction of a second and you’re raped, ears sting from the whirring buzz fucker. Likewise; women in the country get one choice, the pompadour prema-perm- a whispy candy floss tease that just shouts-“sheep!”.
Anyhow. I have to admit I’m tottering under the weight of grandiose whisky downage; bravado for a minute translates to a burning near vomit sting on the stomach. You would think because we are out in the middle of nowhere there would be a laxness to the law, and there is this place is licensed to serve the alcohol till two but things will drag on till dawn probably, the bar shuts and the bottles of single malt come out all bleary and burning the stomach lining. But smoking, well that’s an outside activity, so every time I need one I have to outside- and funnily enough outside in the car park by a big fucked up looking tree is the only place you can get a mobile reception. So I’m out by the tree, smoking and texting. Great.
Cars are spoiling my fun, jeeps, 4 by 4’s that look in the moonlight a bit like sports shoes with last minute additions of wheels, lean and angled for leisure complete with go faster slashes. I smoke, I have to admit I’m getting a bit tetchy and bored. The weddings dragging on, things are getting a bit twatty. Everyone knows everyone and I’m a last minute invite. An old friend or a bad penny I can’t decide. The under current of the rural community is still to all intents and purposes feudal. The local laird is here, red faced and smooth handed, bellowing in his irritating snobby burble at the bar. Deftly he makes his standing in the community obvious. Buying rounds for the local farmers, paying for everything, buttering up the highly strung community secretary, deciding whether he can fuck her in the back room later on. Even though her frightfull ginger rural haircut makes her look like a feather duster.
Cousin Rob works in IT, he’s urbane and witty, he has a footballers haircut and gets on my tits. He saunters over and with a cheap “fit like” launches in to a bizarre rambling dialogue about how there’s nae decent looking girls in the hall and how fucking bored he is. A well , never mind you twit I hear my self mumble.
Turns out he’s not that big a dick head though- he sees me making a smoke- rolling as casual you know and asks for some papers and the other makings so we can smoke some killer weed that’s been burning a hole in his pocket since he got here.
Rob takes a monster drag fae the joint and a huke sparky burp of smoke detonates off the end of the stick, his eyeballs go shiny in the moonlight.
“oof, that’s the stuff, ah feels tonnes better now”
I’m a bit worried he’s going to hog it all to himself and then start biffing on about Microsoft networks or something, but he eventually hands it over.
“cheers min” I say , this could be tricky I really got out of the habit of smoking pot a couple of years ago. But I struggle on.
Wallop. The weed goes straight to my brainbox, jamming it full of great ideas and the like. My brains at it, scribbling things down as fast as it can think of it in a wiry rabid handwriting. Its all fucked up , one minute its neat and slanted to the left, quite elegant ( a bit like the style I use exclusively for job applications and letters to my granny, polite but marching on purposely shining a light of common sense like a torch of no-spakkerness) and old fashioned the next minute I’m getting dangerously aggressive block capitals and hieroglyphic squiggles that for all I know could be alchemical equations or recipes for unfathomably good broth. That’s okay though, I’m used to it- its all coming back, I can’t figure out what the bit in my brain in charge of smell and vision is up to, I’m getting wafts of pine needles and disinfectant and sparkly goof ball dots circling at the edge of my vision. Some of them look like world war two spitfires, a bit, its hard to tell- they could just be bluebottles. Some of them appear to be flying in formations cunningly arranged to spell out some fairly offensive words and pictograms.
Are pictograms made by ancient picts? Fuck-nose.
Me and Rob do a spot of blether, its easier to yap to him a bit pissed and stoned. We were quite good friends for a while when we were kids, building dams, throwing dried sheep shit grenades to each other, killing the local farmers ducks with home made crossbows ( which later on became actual air guns) . Our friendship suffered a bit of a blip when his dangerous instincts got a bit too bloodthirsty and he decided to “open up for inspection” all of my pet rabbits with a spade. I only half bought his excuse at the time that a roaming troop of cock eyed gypsies did it. Allthough I must have been at least semi convinced for the remainder of that visit we scoured the hills armed with a bag of rocks looking for gypsies and other suspicious types bent on indescribable vengeance and possible mutilation. . He apologises for that and explains that some of his darker instincts have made him really suitable for working in IT. His cold indifference to the feeling s of other human beings is a positive boon, people don’t really see him as a person anyway: more like some kind of robotic drone to be summoned from where ever his burrow is. Fix my computer thingumy, its broken…I’ll expect I this issue to be resolved when I get back from the conference call. Poor cunt, I feel sorry for him. A neglected malnourished soul then poor Rob. He skins up another joint and continues to ramble about his fucked up life, a failed relationship here, a failed relationship there, a disastrous flirtation with speed metal , and his currently happily doodering along not really giving a fuck about anything.
It’s a good laugh, turns out he’s staying down the road fae me in the same huddle of hotels and bed and breakfasts so we agree that its probably best that we both drive home together- I was planning on hitching a lift with my folks but they just left as we were yapping so its fine. We totter back inside. The bars closed but the whiskeys out now and some crumpled half recognised face from my past gets way too close with his single malt and splashed a tumbler full for me and also over my nice new brogues. Me and Rob head through to the main room, something’s up the band have mercifully stopped hacking their way through the entire credence Clearwater revival catalogue and the unmistakeable tones of our lord master and benefactor – the Calvinistic Laird of Fuck all and twice knighted wizard of rural stewardship is monologing in dull 25 watt stereo over the cruddy PA.
“ and her fucking kleptomaniac mother. I hope that you both have a long and bearable marriage not marred like my own nuptials by the cancerous rot and infestations of feminism, but I digress and have somewhat meandered off the route had planned to take with this little introduction.
By way of marking this merging of families I would like to perhaps add an interesting aside and perhaps if you would allow me to culturally enlighten you within the parameters of our very own twin town of Ghutang in north west darkest Africa, or perhaps as you may know it thanks to the wonderful piece written by our own local journalist and amateur historian for the fantastic local paper “ the half shut knife” – ungabunga land”. Yes all the way from Africa by easy jet a snip at 3000 dingo’s is Ghutang’s high priest and witch lord Mr. Aufay Jumpay………and as such”
Sometimes I can’t believe the muck that the Laird spouts. Tradition is tradition though. At the B&B my eyes rolled viciously when the landlady persisted in whispering accusations about a guy who had rented the rooms next to mine, he was by turn a “coloured”1 and a “fucking spear chucker”. I’m really not up to this kind of thing, Robs lapping it up- grinning slightly too wide his eyes lost and wavering.
“ to give a wonder full demonstration of traditional wedding blessings in his home land”
The air is filling with sharp smoke, rural women click and adjust for the forthcoming attraction. The pa barks and crackles , strange haunting drones start up, kettle drums and what sounds like the clipped tones of a radio four presenter announcing some sort of programme. I don’t really catch it as I’m well on the way to being cunted. Something’s happening on the stage, the bass player adjusts his ponytail, fiddles with his buck teeth. Gigantic bucko fuckwits.
Things get slightly strange from now on, the music gets going hitting its stride and settling into a driving thump a strobe light cuts through the smoke and then dressed faithfully in an exact reinactment of the voodoo chap from live and let die what appears to be a stark naked high voodoo lord of Ghutang leaps from the stage and starts dancing, gurning and making semaphore signals with two fertilizer bags. I did a bit of those sinals in the scouts, as far as I can make out he’s signalling for the following.
Batteries ( small ones for the sky remote)
200 malboro lights
A vampire on titus
( I may have mis read that, it could have been Librarian)
“ rob this getting a bit much”
He’s not listening. I’m jammed in. people are pushing against my back leering for a better view, I think the two joints and too much nips might have brought on the possibility of a dreaded white out, I can feel a prickly cold sweat hitting my back. Shit. This is nae fun. I can make out a route of escape though, the back doors of the hall have been opened to let the air in and if I’m quick I could get out before I throw up or pass out.
I start shoving, no-one seems to care, that music’s really getting on my nerves, the strobe keeps flashing viciously. Half way there, I hit a clutch of middle aged women, in rapture.
“ och shoana look at his doo-da flapping about like snake…”
“jee-saw, walloping aboot like a fuckin’ bull”
The strobe fires again, and I think I see the priest properly; he’s standing hands on hips, tongue lashing the air like Gene Simmons from Kiss. He’s really working his audience. It jars me, there’s something familiar about those wild loony tune eyes. Its all getting a bit weird and dream like, as I tumble down the steep slope of intoxication I reckon the passing out is closer than the vomiting, the sign for “chirpily pished and sociable” flashed past so fast I barely had time to read the population of the place. I keep pushing, past the hive of women now almost there, I bang hard into a table sending pint glasses crashing to the floor, hand bags and bottles follow close behind. The priest seems to be heading the same way as me. I make it to the double doors, the fresh air starts to sort me out, and before I dive out side I turn for a final look. He’s twisting and throwing awesome shapes now, I reach for my smokes and then in that last flash of strobe I see the famed member, it is flapping viciously- stirring all those tightly buttoned down country women and probably a few men., it’s a nasty snake indeed- but for all my stoned state I’m sure I see an elastic band tied round its root, and secondly I think I see some thing even more irrational. Ginger pubes.
I’m smoking hard. This must be some elaborate pantomime, or at least a sick joke lain on by the witless Laird. Engines now, the dull throb of a tractor, lights flickering through the trees by the bridge. What the fuck, the police or something, a raiding party from the Glenn disapproving of a marriage not between members of the same family. I’m giggling over this wit, when Rob appears grinning like a maniac.
“there all hypnotised by that, I swiped two decent bottles, d’ye fancy anither smoke?”
“grand idea, lets hide by the tree oor ther, I think some late comers are going to turn up”
He raises his eyebrows, catches on the tractor is close now. We totter across the gravel just as the lights hit the steps of the hall. It’s a big old tractor, splattered in shit and mud with a trailer. Three folk on it all jammed into the cab. Wild thrash metal is blaring from the cap. The engine cuts, the lights stay on. I cant place the band, early 80’s though- the height of poodle rock and well meaning working class metal. We’re by the trees. I sit. Rob starts cackling mentalist style,
“oh fuck look at this min”
He laughs hard, kicking a pair of shit stained underpants with his feet.
“jesus, somebody forgot to line their stomach the night”
Funny as fuck. I cant break it to him they belong to me. Dodgy plate of cornflakes this morning I reckon.
“here rob, what the fuck have they got in the back of that?”
Robs eyes squint in the moonlight, he stops fiddling with the bottles and glasses.
“fuck knows, a cow? what the fuck they need to bring that for?”
The farmer mentalists are dragging the cow down from the back of the trailer, rough with it they are too. The animal seems to bee woozy , like its stunned drugged or maybe rotten to the core with terminal cancer. Who knows. All five of the farmers are sporting a severe case of red cheeks and red spazzy hair. They mumble and signal to each other secretively. I’m instantly suspicious, something funny is afoot.
Me and Rob hang back, get battered in to the single malt. The show inside the hall is reaching fever pitch, crazy Wildman shadows blast out through the doors and windows each time the strobe flashes. The tribal beats segueway into iggy and the stooges ( no fun I think but all their stuff sounds the same to my lugs) , between the stamping beats of drums and snarling guitar come the slightly hysterical shrieks of rural women- finally letting their hair down at last…..floodgates open………
The cow is a mess, scared witless by the noise its gone wonky legged, head down, tongue lolling pathetically. The yokels drag its body up the steps, I see flashes and cant be sure but I think they have knives. Big knives. Crocodile Dundee knives. Knives that you would use to gut a deer if you were that way inclined. Or any large animal.
Rob’s past his best now, resigned to his fate under an avalanche of booze. Smiling like a tool he slurs at me,
“ritual sacrifice min. total savages up this way, we’d better fuck off or they’ll burn us like the equaliser…ochfuckit”
The animal has truly turned now. I’m really regretting coming to this do, I could have spent the weekend doing something a lot safer like reading a book or renting some films. Rob keeps mumbling to himself and I start to get a bit worried. Why on earth do they need a cow here, what possible reason is there to drag some scared animal into a wedding bash- are they going to hold a livestock quiz, or is the high priest of unga bunga land going to do something to it. The yokels have the animal by the doorway to the hall now, the laird appears bright red and blustery, all powerfull hand gestures and gibbering wordage. They drag it into the building, its totally freaked now splattering the floor with hot steaming shit, lumps of cack sticking to its twisted bandy legs. The music keeps hammering. My curiousity gets the better of me to be honest, and joint in hand ( and lung) I get to one of the back windows and climb up for a better view. The perch is precarious and difficult but I stick at it, have to see this.
The room is hoaching with smoke. Everyone is sweating and agitated. They form a large circle on the floor, the high priest of unga bunga is on his knees in the middle , eyes rolling back in his head clawing and dashing at his torso with a marker pen- mumbling under his breath
“ hear be the map, here be the legend, past the bp garage and head left, across the bridge, down past the holy spar of the storys, down to the grave yard on the sainted union street, past the chapel of bell-end street, as my faither did I will do also, remaining tuned to the mighty northsoundoneinthemoriningforthebestinhitmusic”
Through the crowd pushes the laird towering above his serfs, behind him come the yokels with cow in yoke.
The Laird waves his hand and the music cuts out. He enters the circle. The holy man has scribbled out a vague version of the Hewlett Packard logo on the floor.
The laird clears his throat, someone passes him a tin of the red stuff.
“as I am to you, you are to me. I am your bag of rocks, you are my handbag”
The crowd nod in unison, and in a weird droney chant reply-
“NOT SINCE THE DAWN OF MASSEY FERGUSON HAVE DOVETAIL JOINTS BEEN SO MASTERFULLY EXECUTED-OHHHHHHHH LORDY”
“ and of the bag of rocks no stranger or outsider shall know, they will be our sacrament of binbags, yes and no, till at least ten past six”
“IN THE MORNING AND NOT AT NIGHT FOR IN THE EVENING BY SIX MOST OF US WATCH THE TELLY AND HAVE OUR TEA-OHHHHHHHH AYE”
“OKAY DOKEY, NAE BOTHER, OHHHHHHHHHHH LORDY”
“ and in the old times, long before the holy see of Buckie was vomited up to land by the ancient underwater king Barry, who was unable to configure his wireless network , we did this doo-da, and every year we go at it, just because.”
“DAMN STRAIGHT HEAD HONCHO, THAT’S THE WAY WE DO IT”
“ and so the mighty KEV says”
“SPOT ON, OHHHHHHHHHHHHH LORDY”
“ meat is murder but bacon is tasty. Mince is also fine.”
“HES RIGHT.NAE BOTHER”
“ so ah says to him, this is me since yesterday. Did you see the game last night.”
“ NO A DIDNAE. DINNAETELLMATHESCOREAVTAPEDIT OHHHHHHHH LORDY”
The five yokels haul the cow in to the circle now, to be honest it looks like its in shock, eyes bulging and drooling like a BSE monster. A spastic apparition of bovine decay. Poor beastie.
The laird greets the yokels with a handshake, which is tricky for him as they really are carrying ten inch or so knives.
He swigs his tin of Mkewans:
“ so its like that programme that was on last night”
“OHA SAW THAT THE EEN ABOOT HITLER”
“on the history channel”
“ AYE. THAT’S IT”
“ he fair sorted them out didn’t he”
“ what was it called again?”
“THE NIGHT OF THE LONG KNIVES”
“ that’s it.”
“ ITS TIME TO UNZIP THE STIRKY”
“ damn straight. On you go…”
“ OOOOOOOOOH LORDY! THIS WILL BE MESSY!”
The yokels circle the cow. Blades winking chirpily in the light. The high priest of unga bungaland makes scary faces and mugs madly. And then the guts, cow guts splatter and loop on the floor, steaming grey and rheumy pink, coil and twist, awfull offall- still digesting the last supper, entrails and all they entail, unzipped like a pencil case full of raw sausages. Viscera and black clotty blood lap at the feet of the women and bleary men. High heels and work boots awash in a tidal wave of gack and splattering shit. Streaming mess, muck and mank, the high priest hoists himself into the huddle and busies himself in some dark task, hacking and jabbering, his bony elbows pumping away. An eager beaver building a dam of meat.The blood seems to get everywhere, absent mindedly the laird wipes his fingers along the breast of his bespoke tweed suit and pops a bloody digit into his mouth, ……………………..
This is more than enough for me, don’t get me wrong I’m a country lad by nature and seen my fair share of bad things, even disembowelled a few rabbits in my time so I’m by know means squeamish. But this……..the high priest holds aloft a queer circular bunch of gristly flesh- like a little life preserver of elastic pinkness,
“POP IT ON YOUR COCK WITCHY WOO BOY! STIRKYS A-HOLE NICE AN SNUGGY WUG BIG CHIEF”
I cant figure this at all, there must be an autocue or a script for this bizarre show piece…………..he starts to insert himself ……………
This is entirely fucked up. Right off the top of the chart min. The black art’s going on within must have some sort of effect on my phone’s reception, no bars turn to four and the first thing I know about it is a queer vibrating in my left leg, at first I think my awkward perch has brought on a session of pins and needles but the ringtone kicks in and I jump out of my skin, waver on my roost start to fall and then last minute grab the window handle, miss it and somehow hook my jacket cuff on to it. I hang a bit confused for a minute, legs kicking like a just hung convict, then all at once the window frame comes loose with a puff of dust and wood chips and I go clattering down, frame follows hitting me square on the top of the head, in various imaginative shapes doing a mean tag team with shards of pre-1970’s vintage glass.
4 Fuck sake.
That sobers me up sharpish. Thick coppery blood is walloping down my head, I thrash about for a minute kicking odd bits of frame and glass off myself, then root about on my head for the gash, it’s big but doesn’t feel too serious. It’s running down my nose and chin in splashy rivulets. I’m definitely dazed and confused, I half arsed reach for my phone- then I realise the noise from inside has abruptly cut- I hear the laird bellowing
“ good lord! it’s the council tax”
“AND THEY MUST BE SMASHED AND RIPPED TO BITS, AND IF THEY HAVE NUT-SACKS AND DOO-DA’S THEY MUST BE JANKED OF AND FED TO THE BEAST OF THE BIN”
“which roams the outskirts of the town, sometimes being spotted nabbing one of my pheasants”
“ BIT IT’S DEFINITELY A BIG CAT”
There is an almighty thrashing of furniture, heavy footsteps.
Panic stations. They think I’m a local government snoop, I’m absolutely fucked now.
“rob! Get up you cunt! We’re going to get the shit kicked out of us”
Its probably to late. He’s spread eagled cuddling a bottle, and already quick as a flash a blood spalttered yokel is on him with a knife, lashing down on him- I edge into the shadows of the window alcove. The blade comes yammering down hard, like a big overblown comic book move-
Robs awake now, the knife’s through his coat, he’s gone straight into beserker mode booting out catching the monkey square in the balls, he piles over and robs up like a wee gazelle booting fuck out of the boys face, he gets six or seven heavy stamps and kicks in and the red head quickly turns to a bruised bag of bloody mince in between down strokes, then the rest are on him- four more of the cow guardians one of them waving a severed cow-leg ready for bovine powered battery.
I’m not eager to get involved to be honest, there’s only four of them, there are more people coming out but they seem to be taking only a casual interest. The Laird is there, and by his side the priest, tugging furiously at his dick. Rob seems pretty motivated. I’m always more inclined to the traditional Aberdonian streetfighting technique- running away declaring you’re opponent “totally deed”.
Seems though, this time I may need to be more pro-active. Action soon as- immediate roll out, FAO all personel.
Robs still busy stamping fuck out of the guys face when the beef club lands him one on the shoulder. He staggers, turns round and casually pops his bottle of malt into his assailants face. Red red red. The other three pile on in, he’s tangled up in their bashing octopus of blows.
I really should text him to make sure he’s okay.
Fuck that, self preservation first.
I scan around, its dark but I reckon I could make the pick up round the corner.
Robs really screaming now, a jumble of strangled expletives and guttural barks- he’s got a pretty good range- not as impressive as Christina Agulera’s- but she’s exceptional. I decide the most honourable thing to do is try and get to the pick up, hide on the back and either phone the police or at least take a video of these mentalist’s trying to kill him. Still the screaming’s a good thing- he’s still up and at ‘em
Good job I’m a decisive lad.
Unbelievable, the door of the Toyota’s half open, I dive in. the keys are in the ignition. I shoogle into the drivers seat- dislodging numerous packs of crumpled silk cut fags and empty half bottles of famous grouse. I’m fiddling with my phone, four bars, great- a torch light slowly loops across the bonnet and I dive down banging my head square on the dash, swearing. The stink hits me, familiar and not unwelcome smell- black Labrador, wet, rain, heather and bags full of warm newly dead pheasants and game- wafting up from the floor. I rummage about looking for something to swab the cut on my head, landing on soft but tough fabric I yank out a length of ragged tweed- torn and blasted and oily with engine swab.
I keep down, mopping the blood from my face, hugging the underside of the dash. A little green air freshner twirls above me. I hear a droning collage of voices, distant and strange inside my hi-lux cave. The Laird leading the quire again no doubt.
I jam myself in as low as I can and bash the cheap plastic buttons of my phone.
Nine nine nine. It rings and rings.
“hullo, which service?”
“police, look my mates getting fucking killed- you’d better send a van and someone that’s good with fire arms or-“
“now son just calm down. Resources are strapped at the moment so I’m really nae sure if the riot squad from Elgin can be arsed scrambling the chopper the night”
“ I’m nae fucki-“
“get a grip sonny, and watch the language tae, where are you? We’ll send a car too you”
“the hall in Glass it’s the-“
“oh aye, the anti poacher unit is up that way- we’ll send it round”
“what? You don’t fucking understand, they’ve all gone gone bloody savage there’s a fucking witch doctor here wandering about with a cows arse ring on his cock”
“ well lady, ah hiv to say that’s jist smashing, you just explain that tae the officers when they arrive, toodle-ooo!”
Bloody hell. A poacher unit? Some doddering old fart with a range rover and night vision? Robs practically dead. Things are piling downhill sharpish, damn straight.
Panic begins to set in now. I really am in deep shit now. If they send Rob to the hospital I’ll get it in the ear from him. He’s got my address and everything. Pish.
I just about jump out of my skin as I here the unmistakeable metallic ring of a barb wire fence being crossed, I cant forget that particular sound after coming a cropper crossing one on a team building exercise at my first job. Still got the scars to prove it. A skaggy skinny shape lurches over the fence, teetering on the top rungs expertly, and lightly springing of to the announcing two wire chord of the fence. Fuck the glass harp, imagine the sales of a barb wire fence and bagpipe symphony. Awesome.
I’m keeping low, the shape is accompanied by a lolloping dog shape. A dog, a bowf, a blacklab. Definitely. The shape looms up by the passenger door, grey scratchy and indistinct like a bad third generation photocopy. The passenger door latch goes, clackety clack, and in folds a long-kint face, ripe and brimming with whiskey fumes.
Ah the good old days.
The dog shape lurches into the back of the truck, seending us lurching like a listing ship. Sailing on the seas of unease.
“allright Angus, nae seen you for ages min…hows it going?”
“don’t call me Angus, they call me Anguish now. I remember you lad. You’re in a real pickle now”
“I thought you were dead”
He eyes me sharply, puffs of silk cut roiling from his nostrils, there’s something unwholesomely rotten and pallid about his skin, stretched to tight over his sharp skull. I think he has butter flecking his chin, squirmy dollops of butter, like little parcels of fat. Yellow, and pustule like. Like.
“dead, aye that’s right, drunk ma ‘sel tae death, tore my innards to fuck, to be sure tho’ the fags would have nailed me in the end. Fifteen years gone noo, I’m still a keeper tho, jist the beasts and land a’ cover are different noo, south o’ here if you catch ma meaning.”
I goggle at him, he’s obviously pissed. I mean the last time I saw him he was pissed. Ten in the morning , swigging Grouse from the bottle, lighting one fag after the other, charging forward leading the beaters and dogs, driving the grouse out from cover and clucking and whirring over the guns in the distance.
He cackles, wheezing, I can almost smell the black lunged rot coming off him.
“ och, I mean I’m hardly around this side to be honest nowadays, the only reason I’m here is because of the high priest and the lairds caperage the night- its hard to rest at all with the racket they are kicking up, heard them all the way up the glenn. They even woke Bob up, so I cum doon, jist tae see..”
The hi-lux rocks slightly,swaying- as weight shifts in the back. I snatch a look over at Rob, hes looking around hopelessly now, splattered in blood and shit. Pink fleshy rural women are wavering their naked bodies at him, leering, fiddling with their gashes. in the mirror, a big lumbering shape footers in the back, just about the right size for a black Labrador.
“ ah, you got another dog then- nae like you Angus? The Laird shot bob that day didn’t he- mind you it was years ago”
He grins at me. A twinkle in his eye.
“oh no, that’s Bob allright, he’s the same as me- kind of working a different beat. Different Laird though. Cannae stand that fucker there, even before he killed the dog, ah never really got over that really, probably finished me really”
I’m kind of lost for words, Rob seems okay….hopefully the poacher mobile will arrive, I feel pretty safe from the mob in the Hi-Lux, all this time we’ve been talking noones so much as looked at us, which is weird as Angus walked right past them……he’s lighting another fag and grinning at me, as always he’s ready for a blether…
“ I resented him till it was over, hated the feudalistic fuckwit…but he’s a fucker we all the power, I mean I’ve a good joab noo, better than working for that pervert, a wee hoose at the top of the glenn, vehicle, ah the perks- the lairds nae a bad sort, funny habits though. For instance, you’ll ken that usually tweed is soaked in piss?”
“aye, I mean aye, ah read that somewhere- makes it waterproof right?”
“that’s it, well the new boss likes to keep things sustainable, renewable onsite resource, as far as I ken he has somebody local make up the suits but he is absolutely insistent that I save all my piss in a big barrel so I can soak it in my own”
“aye, a years worth of pish went into this suit- you’ve nae idea. Its nae to much of a hardship- I mean it disnae smell any worse than usual..”
He’s back fiddling at the bottle now, blasting acrid fag reek out the window. Through the trees, slow and meandering come headlights. The dog rustles in the back, a bow-wowing to its self.
“thank fuck! That’s the police”
Angus/Anguish grins at me.
“ they’ve come to save yer pal then, you jist bide here- I’ll see you later, the boss telt me that.you be sure and watch this thing starting up now, she’ll be crabbit- but dinnae panic. And mine anti-clock wise roon the church, or you’ll go the same way as yer pal”
“erm, okay…. It wis nice seein’ you again…I’ll say fit like to ma uncle fae you”
He leans out,
“h’lowst boooooab, h’loooowst min”
He swaggers off the dog shape doddering after him, off and over the fence.
Lights, and past me comes the police range rover, a bizarre collision of old and new school technology. Perched on its roof is a bristle of aerials and detectors.
It draws up by the door, the mob shuffle about, the high priest tries to remove the stick from Robs arse without looking too suspicious.
Right this will sort these mad fuckers out I think, I’m almost out of the jeep, ready to start yelling at the Laird and the Priest, making sure they go in the van first- but something stops me, call it a side effect of working in sales, it’s the body language- the Police guys looking to pally, he’s talking with the laird- no sign of confrontation, its like he’s seen this all before, ……………all right sir raping a man with a stick?- thirty stark naked people covered with shit and blood, remnants of a cow scattered everywhere? Oh a say someone around here really is a bit of a prude aren’t they. I’m thoroughly sorry to interrupt this law abiding shindig , but we had a call- you understand procedure- it’s not worth my ‘tache to disregard procedure…..
Him and the laird are chatting now, and head to the poacher mobile, the priest gets back to Rob, encouraging a woman to stimulate him with her mouth so that he can discard the stick this time, huge rolls of bubble wrap are procured from the range rover. The back of the Land rover must have been hoaching , he unloads a harpoon gun first and two big storage boxes, and an artist easel, they lie disregarded in an embarrassed clutter in the red glow of the taillights. The powerful spotlight is adjusted, and then switched on, fixing on Rob buckling under the Priest, who’s concentrating thouroughly on his buggerage.
This is getting way out of hand. I turn around and look through the dirty mud splattered window, hoping to see a shotgun or something, but the gun racks empty- I’m a shit shot though, so a rifle would be as much use to me as a spade at this point, anyhow with the police in on the act I’m really stuck for options now.
The laird and a few others spread the bubble wrap out in front of the unhappy couple. the mob begin to clap at a faster and faster tempo, encouraging the priest in his task….this is getting hard to watch.
I don’t know if you have ever seen footage on tv or on the web of people who have been blown to bits, or hacked to bits for that matter, I remember being strangely puzzled by the unhuman –ness of disassembled humans in images I saw of what happened in Rwanda. Well dear reader, that’s how I felt about what they did to my friend Rob. Took him apart, butchered him, un-made him. I couldn’t take it in- for a start people shouldn’t do that, but the reality of the situation would not, and still hasn’t sunk in- it looked fake, like something from an early Romero flick, ketchup squirting and devious mechanical contrivance. Hell, what a relief- Rob wasn’t dead, he’s just a big floppy dummy rigged up to talk to me, god I was so stupid not to hear the little motors and cogs that made his eyes roll and his body toddle about in such a note perfect recreation of his drunken youth full swagger. A facsimile, a copy.
Except, it wasn’t. They tore him up. Smashed and blootered, the knives did the majority of the work, removing limb and tearing the choicest cuts, topside sir, a sirloin? Then later it was all hands on deck, smash and grab.
When I was a kid I had a real destructive streak, I annihilated action men that had failed basic training with a hammer- breaking them up, Minor character action figures from star wars too were given harsh justice, but they were minor characters- maybe it was my fault that Rob got rubbished in such a primeval way, I gave him little depth- he was lightly sketched out and maybe a little two dimensional. I still liked Rob, even if he was a contrivance.
It still looked wrong.
I gagged, and then full bore emptied my stomach in to the floor. Shit, shit, shit
My boke was my undoing. There were big chunks everywhere, thing about being sick is that you just have to ride it out. When I was a small human I used to overdose on cheap asda own brand diluting orange juice, drinking it straight like shots of proto-whiskey. Then I’d get giddy, hyperactive and then when that had run its course I’d be sick. Mother, always handy with advice not fit for my years would sigh and instruct on the knack of being sick. “Jist let it come oot”
Easier said than done.
I’m mid-boke, clattering about. And I hit the horn in the hi-lux. It’s loud enough to wake the dead.
I’m pretty much dead now I reckon. Once those mad galoots have finished with Rob I’m next for meat vandalism. It’s only a matter of time.
Theres a huge thump as a crazy wild eyed woman lands square on the bonnet of the jeep. For a second I think I might talk my way out of this. I means she’s stark naked and covered in blood- but looks like a reasonable woman.
Theres nae voltage in that battery though,
She’s stares me straight in the eyes, and bellows
Right. Fuck it.
I cant really drive, but will wing it. Rudimentary tractor driving is well down my cv, but it’s still a skill. The jeep miraculously kicks into life, the stereo starts blaring loud bagpipe and fiddle thrash- I’d really react badly to that if I had more time. But that’s not a real option now. The mad hag is still on the bonnet, I ram the jeep hard forward, by sheer luck- and she skids down just as we slam into the wall of the hall. Her legs must be pinned; she’s standing up right, making a sound like grinding chicken bones as her legs turn to mince. I give her a cheery wave, no hard feelings. She probably can’t feel fuck all anyway.
Reversing back out, she topples, her bottom half is all squashed and mangled. The top half seems to be holding up much better though, she’s chipper enough to wag a finger at me an tut-tut between coughing up blood. A large chunk of short bread is wedged in her hair, maybe on purpose- I don’t want to dwell on it.The fiddle music’s really getting me motivated. I think quickly, what is the best plan of action?- the rest of them are getting organised behind the poacher mobile, yelling and screaming. I’m not going to get out of this by going through them- that’s just not a viable option. I’m going to have to off-road. Magic, always wanted a shot at that. I do a tidy 180, and full pelt head for the barn wire fence. There’s no-way they’ll follow me, least not through a field of semi-wild cows.
The fence is surprisingly fragile, I pile through it- wires twanging and unwinding as I go. Behind me I see cars starting up, the poacher mobile is lit up like a Christmas tree, blasting searchlights into the dark. Having never been in a proper car chase I had to ad-hoc think out my options. I head for the back road, its an old forestry commission track- basically a dirt track left over from thinning out the plantation of trees. I bump into something, and a blurry sheep like shape sails past the window….they don’t really have any feelings sheep, kinda like IT consultants. The sheep seemed to be smoking, which I’m sure couldn’t really be the case; I mean how would they light a cigarette?2
I reckon if the tracks still there i have a clear avenue of escape. If the hot pursuit mob follows in my wake I’ll have a massive advantage being in the hi-lux, it’s designed for this kind of activity after all. The only real threat is that demented policeman, who seems to have got stuck in the remains of the fence.
I press on, the fact that I can drive fair amuses me- I make a little deal with myself that if I survive this I’ll make a concerted effort to learn to drive when I get home. Ambitions, that’s what life’s about- setting goals and achieving them. First things first, get the fuck out of here.
My memory of the lay of the land is a bit off, instead of hitting the track I tear through another fence and start ploughing through a short patch of newly planted hardwood samplings- the little plastic tubes they are protected by ping over the jeep- flying this way and that, then its pure down hill, thumping and clattering.
Then finally the track, I come down at an angle, slamming on the breaks..just managing to stay out of the ditch. I stop the engine and roll down the window, straining hard for evidence of pursuit. Nothing;distant engines, shouting but far off. Maybe I’m safe enough. It’s eerily quiet, just light from the moon, swishing trees and deep silence. I half expect the whole lot of those maniacs to come bursting out of the trees in battle formation, complete with garish battle banners and a catchy theme tune,but they don’t. I reach down and light a fag, maybe I’d be better of walking from here, leaving the truck might confuse them. I kinda ponder setting fire to the thing, really confusing them- but fuck it, I’m about a mile I reckon from the main road- once I hit the a96 I’m safe enough.
I’m shaking, smoking seems to help. I do a quick check of my situation- eyeing up my superb head wound in the mirror. It’s at least stopped bleeding. I flick a few bits of glass out of my hair. I seem to all intents and purposes to have sobered up. To a certain level. God, what an evening.
I click out the tape of fiddle and bagpipe toss, ping it out the window- even though its got “ do not tape over” written in marker pen across it. I cant think straight with that dirge blaring. I fumble with the buttons, trying to turn the radio off, but it seems to have a life of it’s own. Self selecting channels, weird stuff- I bash about- the radios one of them ancient things with pushbutton pre-sets on them, a real classic of design.
I cant find the off switch, I leave it crackling white noise to its self.
Angus really didn’t look well, he was always a bit scabby looking but this was different. He looked washed out and really ill, and thick sickly rotting smell he had. Does cancer have a smell?, a rot: a self devouring exercise like that must kick up some sort of stink. Poor auld bugger, probably lost his mind. Happens a lot when you cant work, nae structure to your day I suppose, some folk have nothing to fall back on too- no hobbies or interests as such, just work.
He’s probably just lost the plot. That gibberish about going round the church anti-clockwise certainly was eccentric. He was so insistent on the direction. Anyhow, its hardly worth debating. The radios crackling, theres a blast of crabby white noise and static, I give it a petulant lash with my hand- and then suddenly it squeaks into sense. It sounds like CB radio…
“erm, no it’s a hoax. Nothin’ going on , jist a wedding”
“really?, I some thought that, the laddie was fair worked up about something, going on about someone being assaulted”
“och no, you ken fit like, some plank had to much to drink and thought he’d come the cunt”
“righty ho, Aleck- keep us informed”
“will do, someone in a Toyota hi lux smashed a fence, I’m waiting for him by the ross junction, could be the boy that rang you- but do us a favour and post a shoot to kill order on the vehicles occupant, I think he might be a homosexual with a cocaine habit”
“really, who would a thought it aleck”
“ aye, I’ve been speaking to the laird, there was a Wierdy hanging about from Aberdeen, they found a bag of white stuff in the toilets and a picture cut from a clubbie book of a man in his underpants”
“ aye right, well we cannae hae that kind a pish going on- I’ll phone Elgin and get some road blocks set up, I’ll phone farm watch as well- you ken fit like these poofters are like, if they cannae get in aboot’ a man they’ll start on the livestock. I’ll order them to stop and search anyone driving a hi-lux that looks like freddy mercury”
“ten four, photo copy that”
“okay dokey Alick, keep it real an a thing”
“will do, that’s my caperage. Damn straight”
What? This is getting a bit silly. What the fucking hell is wrong with these people. The ross junction is on the end of the track, the other exit is basically just a dead end. That bloody poilice cunt is in with them, probably everyone in the area is. What the fuck, this is no use I’m running out of options. White powder? That must have been Robs, right…I’m freaked now, pile out of the jeep, pure panic….i start rummaging about in the back- tarpaulin, lengths of chain, a big locker at the back under the windscreen looks promising. Inside there is a good haul of weaponry, gutting knives and an old but good quality shot gun and a box of cartridges.
Good that evens the odds a bit. I reckon that dipshit policeman will fill his breeks if I wave the gun at him. Right. Plan. Forward.
The high lux splutters to life, and I roll off down the track, the roads windy and at times just breaks down totally, my memories are accurate though and soon I’m blasting past the big artificial lake as the land flattens out….somewhere up to the left lights are bobbing, torches flash about and I can make out a long line of people sweeping down the glenn. Probably the Laird and the witch-doctor, up ahead I can see more lights- the poacher mobile, scanning the hillside and the road.
I round the bend, fast the road changes to tarmac…a sharp change in tone, from thumpy intermittent roar to smooth comforting drone- tar makes me feel safer, it means a return to civilisation, to some extent. I go belting past the poacher mobile, P.C Aleck stares goggle eyed at me, dropping his sandwich and toppling his thermos….
“stop in the name of fittiver! You bloody arse!”
I giggle to myself, some law man he is. I’m round the bend and the last thing I see is him furiously wiping tea from his breeks and jumping into his jeep. Hot pursuit, the road heads past the hall, but since they all seem to be combing the fields for me by torchlight I reckon its worth the risk. Quickest way to the main road anyhow. Im half arsed whether to stop and get out, unload the shot gun in the face of PC Aleck, the fat useless fucker, but that’s the realm of fantasy squirming under reality. In fact, truth be told in hindsight, dear reader I’m truly flummoxed as to whether the events of that evening actually unfurled as I remember. I was 100% cunted and stoned, my prescription medicine for malaise and vauge levels of depression were also floating willy nilly in my bloodstream- so it all could be shite. Fact, is fact- but I have some evidence, culled from the local press and long since deleted live to web streaming footage. But how much does that count, when I’m reeling you in. I like the cut of my jib.
On wards and upwards, I gun the Hi-Lux, belting along, past the hall- there’s a huddle of cars all lit up and ready for me, a giant red van nearly clips me doing a bizarre circle around the perimeter.Vainly I thrash at the gears and pedals of the jeep without really inderstanding the nature of the mechanism, I know it runs of fossil fuels: layers of dead organic matter decomposed and compressed over staggering vistas of time that we human’s burn in some mystal scientific con-fab. Bugger it, Hi-Lux is a “forrat” motion device, and forrit, out of this fuckwittery is where I’m heading, dear sir.
Having missed red van, and witnessing a swathe of vecicles gathering in my wake I need to hit the road jack- quick as. Before I’m made 100% dead. The radio is still candidily relaying me the polis wavelength, the local yokels are rounding up a posse and me- well I’m for the high jump. Or worse.
Tearing it up is the only recourse, according to the crackling Fm signal in the cabin P.C fuckwit is mustering all available resources under his ‘tache influence- gunships, crack troops and all the local trolley boys in the whole forty mile area have been alerted. I’m not sure which aspects are paranoia, everythings getting crabbit and spazzy round the edges, the locals are behind me now roaring along in a long wavering line of lights and random vehicles. Tractors, cars, fourbyfours, and those in between , special adapted vehicles with dark and mysterious purposes. I can make out the hazy outline of a muckspreader, roaring and spikey….filling me with that age old fear of flying manure munitions, awfull odourous ordinance.
The birds are twittering pleasantly, and all the hellish noise is gone. The Church yard is quiet and empty. Angus bends down to pick up a stone, he rolls it in his hand. A smile cracks his haggard old face.
“think of it like a yale lock, a latch. You opened the door- but not with the key. You jimmied it- snuck in. Three times round anti clockwise had the same effect as swiping the latch we a credit card. Mind you I’m nae locksmith, and neither are you by the look oh things. There’s ways and means of opening it properly- certain ceremonial rites and rituals, time consuming stuff. The boss told me what was on the cards the night, he’s sees things, gets a lay of the land before other folk. I mined you were a guid lad, and a jist hoped the auld trick would work. It did, you’re safe noo. Nae going back though. I did the same thing, fucked out of me face aye night, trying to put in a pin number for the adult channel on sky- missed the wife see, but the pin opened up the wrong channel. Took me ages to figure out what happened- but it worked out for the best in the end…
C’mon, we’re late we’ll hae to get you kitted oot- and the pheasants need feedin afore breakfast”
Bob loups toward me, his dafty Labrador eyes twinkling happily, as full of life as the last time I saw him fifteen years ago.
Ah well, best get on then.
The narrator passes out after doing fifteen anti- clockwise circles of the Glass protestant Church. He is in the company of Angus, the long dead servant of Nick, the devil: obviously, all around him live the dead and damned- those that have commited minor misdemeanors of the flesh, carnal fuckwits, gimps of gambelling, the dishonest, and those that maintain that the whole thing is a fiction, a virtual un-reality gambit generated by the rotton brains and feverish lamentations of the Catholic Churh. The kirk rots eternal, and all must toil in the eternal allotments of the bi-polar plains of Buckie.
Where exactly is this yarn heading. “sax candles I seen the ‘streen” bloated lart cut fae the cunt of a hoor fae Aberdeen. Her gash was a mess, a bag of meat, twisted and snarled up on the way back fae the fuckery shop.
1 This term is indeed a difficult one, as far as I was concerned the use of the word “coloured” has extremely negative connotations- recently though while working in a hellish retail slave ship on the outskirts of Aberdeen I was in formed that this term was by and large much less offensive than the term “black”, I did argue the point- stressing that in pre-civil rights period in the USA the segregation of African Americans was signified by the banning of “coloureds” from certain areas of the public sphere- such as public transport, restaurants, cinemas etc. Personally, I always viewed the term as negative- almost like everyone started out white and then by some mistake of creation some were “coloured in”- like the outlines of a kiddies activity book. Surely no reasonable God would be so slap dash with the felt tips? Anyhow, that’s me off rambling again. By the way, the head of the aforementioned slave colony that I worked at was a fucking dike so what in the name of fuck would she know about minority rights?
2 After all this was over I kept returning to this quandary, after turning down several options I was delighted to find a wee article in the “half shut knife” about a farmer in Elgin that had decided that happy sheep were better than crabby sheep, and they produced better lambs if they were happy. When he fed them first thing in the morning he noticed that they were all interested in getting breakfast but also were keen on getting a hit of nicotine from his fag. As an experiment he gave one of the sheep a fag. It stampted its feet until he lit it, and the happy wool beast gave out a contented bleat. It was certainly better than the daft buggers jumping up on the cairt to get level with his fag and inhaling deeply. He solved the problem of constant maintainance of the sheeps fag habit through trial and error- eventually figuring that he could utilize the natural hierarchy of the flock to keep a fag burning all day in the field. He would distribute 40 Regal King size amone all the Ewes, popping them into their eager mouths in the morning, and light the boss sheeps fag, she would ponce about smoking rubbing it in to the other sheep- but surprisingly as her fag went out she lit her lieutenants fag and then stood about hovering up the fumes. And so on through the day. This seemed like a fairly credible explanation to me, plus the article had some fairly convincing photos. The Farmer must have passed on the tip to one of his mates in Glass.