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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
The Smell of the Past
by D.F. Lewis
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An enjoyable evening at home often entailed a rich raucousness that riled rats to reach their runs.
      Whatever the case, I am long in the tooth enough to have had Bunnymat perfuming my backyard garden, when even turnip tops and wet weather gear became the adumbrations of angels. A scarecrow's young: a Christ on twigs.
      But I prattled the nonsense of nostalgia: a manure with which only the past was able to use ... to incubate the present.
      Yes, the past smelled deep to the very heart of the cauliflower cancer of the mind: where the mulch of mismemory returned to haunt with headiness.
      Each present moment, albeit a fleeting flicker short of strutting backwards, is a clean, if tawdry, wasteground, whilst the redolent pasture of the irretrievably expanding past soon draws down on the cross-fertilised blood bank of an ancient communal soul.
      Fell shape flopped from fell shape, revealing nothing bar a core. Within the relative safety of the bed, I witnessed the falling away of form from form. Yet, if this were a dream, why was I sitting bolt upright against the bolster, rather than with head held fast in pillowy plumpness? Sleep was a sloppy mode, at the best of times. It had always been my contention that dreams should be faced awake. No flinching, no indulgent pinching of the faecal flesh, no doubting the necessary constrictions of dream's dire dirndl-above all, no false economies of self-identification. I could have been just about anybody. I did not recognise the feel of the bed whence I sat staring outward to the dimness beyond. I knew, however, the unwholesome shape I saw was Bunnymat performing an unholy striptease. The core was his essence divested of devilish accoutrements, yet imbued with his own sickly light. Each tier of tease had peeled back upon further hierarchies of enticement, pyramids of pecking-orders that even made a simple triangle seem sensuous. I blinked the eyes I saw with. Belief was behindhand. Core cleaved upon core ad infinitum, ad absurdum, ad nauseam. Eventually, everything was empty. Including the mind I thought with. So empty, one wondered if one wondered at all. The final fleeting flake of flame, the concluding core of cores, hovered over the covers. I raised my knees-or someone did-creating an upward urging union of blanket blackness. The flickering fleck of residual fire bifurcated, spun seethingly towards my knee-kingdom's nadir and teased through the tight-knit texture of tumbled toppings. Whereupon I felled the triangular timbers of flesh-cushioned bone and spread wide the blanket bath of body beautiful to receive the unction of the sizzling scissoring seed. Sleep slipped from sleep. Dreams drifted dreamward. Then, there was something similar to something strange. I broke the surface of Bunnymat's consciouness, flaying back a soul's carapace as I did so. I was now truly me. No doubt about it. I was rich with self. No longer a need for identification parades of possibles or, even, probables.
      I was simply scissorish slivers of slime. Slick slices of soggy seed-atoms. Satanic sum of all human knowledge. The Devil's aids-for prolonging life. As for me and my like, we are merely smidgeon smears in the Devil's panoply of prevention and cruel cure. Antibody, then, not anybody. Us unctuous under-unguents understand the paths of woman-and her itching ills and valleys. Ad nauseam.
      I've always been scared stiff of flying. Not surprising when you saw my wicker-veined arms flapping to the squawks of Extreme Noise Terror. Once seen, sawn off. Yet phobias were wonderful: they made me make love to life for what it simply was: a lift that went up and down until I discovered it was an aeroplane disguised inside. Hovering to Hell. I then knew Bunnymat had nursed me through the infinite infamy of infancy towards posthumous adulthood. Unrinded to the bottom blast of existence. Crow-bones in the walls. Vulture-moths swollen with scent sacs. The only true love was when two brains could touch, gnawn through our rat-skull basins. Born without bloating. Death without a past. Stench without end.
      Meanwhile, Rachel was no drudge. Although she was my charwoman, yes, my cook, yes, my bed-maker, yes, my deliverer of hot cocoa, she was not, repeat not, indeed, no, she was not a drudge. But folk like Rachel, after all, were born to be useful to other folk like me. So, I simply gave her myself-the man to be menial to.
      In spite of this servitude, she drew a line at sex. She'd eat her heart out for me, I guess, right to the very edge of kissing. But not beyond.
      So, pulling the strands of my various sense-drives into a slick instrument, whereby power-sources were concomitants, I played the nifty nibwork on the kinky keys of the mean machine. And wrote her a story of kisses and curves.
      Once upon a time, she had a hero called Bunnymat.
      Rachel interrupted: "I'm not going to empty out your..."
      My what? My goldfish bowl? My bird bath? What did she mean? My silk-lined sperm bank? Surely not.
      "... mank tank." She looked positive that I would understand that any amount of story-telling about Bunnymat would not charm her into slopping out my merd-urn. But just because I'd got a fetiche against water-closets didn't mean she could demean me by mentioning the foibles that abounded regarding my bodily processes, did it?
      "You need an odd-job man for that murky muck!" she maintained.
      I smiled and planted a plonker on Rachel's lower left cheek.
      "Kisses won't get round me, either, just as much as Bunnymat stories won't!" she whined.
      I fumbled with the loose ends of her stays.
      "Nor will that help!" she screeched, fearful that her body would escape.
      And from between the teased-out rib-bones of the embedded corset I saw ooooooooooooze the leading-edge of her soft core: the monthly micturation of Rachel's muck.
      And slopping out for herself was not so bad, Rachel thought: a curve from mouth to groin, where Bunnymat was merely an eponymous pseudonym for me.
      I always called him Bunnymat: there in my bedroom even when he wasn't.
      The word 'always' should always be used sparingly: nevertheless, my bedroom, at the end of the day, was always haunted by a universe of ghosts.
      Three types of ghost in the main: ghosts that came, ghosts that went and ghosts that stayed. Whilst Bunnymat was simultaneously all three, I got to know him better when it was none of them: ironically labelled Bunnymat because of his state of amorphous obesity: spectral swags of greyness threaded through with engorged filaments of carnal ectoplasm.
      When I asked others, such as Rachel and Bonny, about Bunnymat, they denied all knowledge of him, but that was only after denying their own existence.
      Given their consequent inability to have knowledge about anything at all, I gave no credence to such information, even to that regarding my own existence, let alone Bunnymat's.
      They called me by a name to which I didn't answer. They also managed to get my gender wrong when wielding pronouns, pronouns always being used to avoid a clumsy repetition of the head-lease noun. Pronouns, too, are often small slippery creatures: wes, hes, shes, theys and its swarming from the skirting-boards like rats or insects or things with characteristics of both.
      "You are Bunnymat," they said, using "you" for the first time, all pronouns being pseudonyms for bodies. And, streaked with rashers of a pork soul, the act of being sick was like breathing ... while pest-packs of phantom fought tooth and nail for their genderful of first person flesh.
      Eventually, as ever, they called me Mister Bunnyfat.
      "Why is sin always black?" asked the man in cricket whites.
      "Because ... well, things can happen in darkness that shouldn't happen .... because nobody is watching," answered the waiter as he passed another cocktail towards the man in cricket whites whom he knew as Mr Ogg. "That's no answer," smiled Mr Ogg, taking a short suck.
      "Well, it is an answer, Mr Ogg, albeit possibly an incorrect answer," laughed the waiter.
      At that moment, as if on cue, somebody entered the lounge bar with a yappy poodle, her scantily clad curves raising at least a few eyebrows. "Hiya, Bonny!" shouted Mr Ogg with a jaunty wave.
      "I want a pukka shufti," said Bunnyfat in the corner peering over my head in the process.
      The waiter scowled. He should know, of all people, that Bonny was a sign of trouble. Trouble followed her. Trouble accompanied her. Often, trouble actually preceded her.
      Meanwhile, Bunnyfat was stretching his neck from the corner, his eyes almost on stalks, as he shouted: "Bonny baby, come over here as I want a pukka shufti."
      "Blimey, ain't you seen a body before?" said Bonny with a flourish of the poodle's retractable chain.
      I reddened behind Bonnyfat.
      Mr. Ogg crossed the bar towards the corner, thinking Bunnyfat was me, towards the very corner, indeed, back into which I had cringed, with my face now turned a whiter shade of pale, my lighter-flame shuddering as tried, with some difficulty, to ignite Bunnyfat's menthol cigarette.
      "OK. OK."
      "Oink! Oink!"
      Everything suddenly went blank: a lighter shade of black.
      Jess Bunnyfat was quite ordinary until Rachel came in.
      Too easy a jest to say that she made Jess a Messiah.
      If the truth were known-and here the truth is imparted for the first time-Rachel and Jess Bunnyfat were made for each other, hand in glove, tooth in glass, voice in box, pin in hat, zip in rip...
      So how did it end, after only twelve nights together?
      Well, Rachel's silence is a telling one. And Bonny scowled.
      I first met Jess Puppyfat when he was writing cooking menus for a trendy men's magazine. Better than those fantasies he once concocted under a different name-still does concoct, perhaps, for all I know-and he welcomed me as someone who could add spice to his life.
      He made a few bob. So I didn't mind-not exactly prostituting but certainly demeaning myself. He told me I was the most beautiful partner in his dance upon the ballroom floor of life, the most appetising ingredient in his simmering stew of existence ... so far.
      There was something so very insulting in the way he spoke, even when he was being sincerely kind. But I was the first to admit that women liked being treated with a certain lack of deference. At least, some of the time and some of the women.
      Jess and I had been together for nearly a fortnight when I began to wonder if I had bitten off more than I could chew. A couple of days before, he had been relieved of the magazine job (mainly because a certain set of ingredients had been insufficiently pan-tested and ended up a series of insipid stodges all over the select parts of West London) and-perhaps this having caused him to lose confidence in his own cooking-the Indian meals he made simply for the two of us now had too much cardamon or ginger or coriander or cumin or garlic or chili or any combination of excesses.
      Our love-making were recipes in themselves. A pinch of Rachel, a soupçon of Bonnymat, an ounce of Fat Ogg and a gender-mix of me. He varied the equipment, ordered the permutations of clothing, time of day, place, lighting effects, duration and, most important of all, the choreography of the "dance".
      Whatever the case, he was the leader and me the led. No variation there.
      Jess, I said, you leave me no dignity, no say-so, no wherewithal. But I never said such a thing. I knew which side of the bread pudding I was crusted.
      Indeed, he changed the names we called each other during the dance, as well as the choreography. There was only one conversation I remember. It followed a particularly wild fandango, one where he had given me the chance to believe I was leading him, rather than vice versa.
      "There's a beautiful simplicity about silence," he said.
      "I know, Jess." A certain awe and wonder, too, I thought, about such a silent night.
      Incidentally, 'Jess' was his name under the jurisdiction of this particular session. He would only become Puppyfat again at the official consummation or, rather, consumption of our patterns.
      "If dance be food, then music is drink."
      "Yes, Jess."
      "I feel full, even though it was me feeding you."
      He placed two fingers on each side of his head around 'feeding' as he said it. I felt we were both characters in a Magritte painting, with pillowcases over our heads. Well, he at least had a pillowcase over his head. It would soon be taken off when Jess turned back into Rachel and I into...
      After that twelfth night together, my real dance of life resumed with random steps. Toes in bunches instead of points, heart in mouth, legs in tights, eyes under glass, scar in wound.
      A portly man in a chef's white busby stood in a sun-risen Eastern city square and wanted to speak to as many in the thickening crowds as possible, for his own reasons. And the first to whom he spoke with a mixture of randomness and locking eyes was a slim-minded lady, with these words: "And what we three did, Bonny, was exquisite."
      The slim-minded lady was Rachel who was me who was perturbed at thus being addressed by a perfect stranger. Indeed, the perfect stranger was decidedly imperfect in breaking a perfect stranger's code of not speaking out of turn when the one to whom spoken had not first been formally introduced by a mutual third party, an introduction that would have made perfect strangers into acquaintances as a prerequisite to furthering the relationship into more meaningful avenues via the back-doubles of small talk.
      The portly man, unperturbed, continued impertinently: "We once shared a life but, more memorably, we shared a dream where an angel with furled wings laid down beside us and between us on love's giant bed." The slim-minded lady forged on into the busy morning crowds, as the many churches erupted with competing bells. It was not necessarily inexcusable for two lonely lost strangers to ask each other for directions as to the way, but for one stranger to accost another stranger with matters more than merely meant as succour in a relative extremity was quite outrageous, she thought. Yet, with wicker baskets still on each arm, she turned, although she probably knew it would be a mistake so to do. Indeed, the portly man, still trailing a small cart behind him, followed close on her heels, a fact which, in hindsight, was rather more than obvious inasmuch as his cart made such a racket on its three ill-aligned wheels.
      Although a stranger in my own right, I decided to introduce the slim-minded lady to the portly man, relishing, as I did, the fifty-fifty chance of beauty being eventually propagated from the resultant relationship, should it blossom into love from the dried out husk of formality. Yet, in the end, beauty merely residing in the eye of the beholder, I did not risk the fifty-fifty chance of an unwelcome outcome, thus doggedly maintaining low-profile berths in both baskets and in cart, whereupon only the spinning gold of my three separate halos could possibly have given my messianic presence away.
Whether the turning of the slim-minded lady was deemed as more meaningful than it actually meant or a glimpse of a characteristic previously unnoticed in the set of her face acted as a focus of flirtation, the portly man blew a kiss with the helping hand of his left hand from his middle mouth, a kiss which wafted towards the slim-minded lady like a beauteous butterfly with three pairs of crimson-dusted wings. Whatever the case, the beauteous butterfly-with ailerons ill-coordinated-fell feebly flapping to the ground and, after first squashing it under an inadvertent foot, the slim-minded lady lumbered off, with her baskets, into the smelly pink-skinned food-stuffed crowds.
      "Oink! Oink!"
      When Bunnyhat entered the scene, the manner of his licking lips was a dead giveaway, according to Rachel's account of the incident-although she did have the benefit of hindsight. Apparently, there were three people already in the room: myself who owned the house, my twelve year old daughter and Rachel herself. My wife, Bonny, was absent at a funeral for someone I hadn't known sufficiently well to warrant my attendance. Someone called Jess.
      There was a definite peacefulness reigning, since all three were buried in a new electronic game my daughter had received for Christmas. Traffic had run itself into the ground outside and even the buses seemed to have longer and longer gaps between each other. So, Bunnyhat's entrance-out of the blue-was even more startling. Yet Rachel was evidently unperturbed, later to be explained by the fact that she was familiar with his identity. My daughter and I, however, stood up, ready to fend off any unwelcome advances. When we had originally heard his footsteps in the hallway leading to the inhabited room, we automatically assumed it was Bonny unexpectedly returning home early-although the pacing was too slow and too heavy for a woman's high-heels, unless the funeral had taken the edge off her usual rhythm.
      "Bonny's not coming back," said Bunnyhat, before anyone could say anything to him.
      "What you doing here?" asked Rachel pointblank from the sofa. My daughter and I turned towards her, abruptly realising that the intruder was not unfamiliar.
      "Bonny sent me."
      "But why?" I asked, now truly standing up, as I disentangled my head and mind from the game.
      "She's been indefinitely delayed by the funeral," answered Bunnyhat. It was then Rachel noticed the licking lips and, putting two and two together, made five.
      Bunnyhat then took Rachel home, as it would soon be light.
      Beyond hindsight.
      Jess Bunnyrat was older than he looked-smaller, too. And smellier. To prove, by comparison, as it were, that he was thus older, smaller and smellier, his lady wife, Bonny Bunnyrat, stood by him ... stood by him through thick, thin and middle-age spread: real troopers from the battered ranks of life.
      Rachel and I had of course taken them under our wings. After all, we'd need such protection ourselves, one day. Jess was half dead, but Bonny compensated for the shortcomings of her other half (and his). His left leg was knotted with what looked like small green onions. One arm hung by a thread but still maintained a semblance of manipulative skills, as if it were assuming piecemeal a life of its own. The fact that such a couple maintained even a travesty of a sex life surprised us no less than it did any of the strangers who happened to be undiplomatic envoys from the outside world; and the world, after all, had its own problems without spending its time moithering over our ménage à quatre.
      Indeed, we had next to no tolerance for the incursions which the world did manage to make, particularly in view of our own shortcomings that hindered fending off such insidious skirmishes. Indeed, we could always sense when strangers were afoot in the house by the unfamiliar smell of foreign farts.
      After years of living together with Jess and Bonny, any infiltration of our friendly flatulence by enemy gases often proved to be the unmistakeable evidence of surreptitious attack from the outside world. Towards the beginning of their death (and despite increasing undercover work by the strangers), the pair of them grew even closer together. It was pathetic but beautiful to witness. Bonny told us that she felt bits of Jess roaming about inside herself.
      As for Rachel and I, we imagined, with minds suitably boggling, various species of male and female organs navigating a close-ordered butcher's oven. Jess and Bonny were indeed taking life by the scruff of the tongue, making contortions of love to the very grave; and, of course, it was into the grave they eventually crawled. And we were naturally left to cope with the residual strangers. Post-medical teams. Overtakers. Intoners of old-fangled religion. Bible-bashers. Ministering demons. All mostly hot air. We now needed our own soulmates-in-flesh to help us prepare the ground for the ever-encroaching death process to which mankind is heir. You see, like everybody else, Bonny and Jess had lived for their parthenogenetic wind-and in it. And, eventually, we packed our bags, knowing we ourselves were quickly becoming verse from the hearse, tunes from the tomb, blasts from the past. Ogg took pity on us and let us stay with him, but that was in the future. Still is.
      Dance a million dances and you've still not danced the final dance, Bunny wrote.
      I bit the blunt end and wondered if what I had in mind was the Dance of Death. But such a dance, I guessed, always came too late, since death fixed the limbs, albeit with invisible nails.
      Bunny had a million muses. But so, presumably, did Moses.
      I crossed out the last words with random streaks of lead.
      "You're scribbling again," said Rachel, as if she accused me of a heinous crime.
      Christ could not have felt more injustice about His own crossing out, Bunny thought.
      "Better scribbling than doing nothing," I replied.
      "Where does it get you?"
      "Feeling sorry for yourself, I see."
      "Who wouldn't with toothache, earache and eyeache?"
      "It's those pills-they're not agreeing with you."
      "What does agree with me? I'm a walking disagreement!"
      "You've got to do something."
      My painful head nodded at the scribbling: the only reply I could give.
      Looking towards the kitchen window which cast a dying light upon the trestle where we sat, I saw a pointy face with a pointy hat pointing at me, through the glass, with its finger.
      With not a single thought, I waved it in with my own finger, mouthing that the kitchen door was unlatched.
      Rachel had not noticed the interchange. She had snatched my scribbling surface to establish whether she could discover thereon some clue as to her husband Bunny's destiny.
      Meanwhile, the face strode into the kitchen, laughing at the old-fashioned couple. The finger turned out to be nailed to its nose. Faces did not, as a rule, wield fingers, on their own, because fingers, like toes, were devices for limbs lower down, unless, of course, raised above the face in some dire signal or wave.
      "My aches are of the soul," giggled the face with giggles that belied the statement thus giggled.
      I replied with simply a sign of a sigh and pointed to my nose with the selfsame nose upon it: a party trick which had cured many children of obstreperousness during the dark interior boredoms after sundown. Rachel looked suspiciously at the face that had now crumpled close to the warm oven, as if it was tired from dancing the day out. "The aches have now travelled to my limbs," wept the face, "and now is the time for giggling to lose its disguise."
      I nodded agreement, which meant, in hindsight, that the face agreed with me. Yet, each curtsy of my head was painful with pangs. Rachel, meanwhile, had scribbled out her own random thoughts, overlapping them with Bunny's own scribbling. And as in the children's party game of Follow Your Nose, a face could now be vaguely descried from the streaks of lead.
      Who was leader, who was led, it little mattered, for the dance was over even before it ended.
      Death masked the music, disguised the dance...
      A solitary fingernail (Bunny's, perhaps) crossed out the words.
      Bunny ever lived on the edge of a migraine.
      Not his own, but Bonny's.
      Bonny was someone who knew Bunny without Bunny really knowing Bonny.
      Indeed, Bonny knew Bunny as one of the patients in the hospital ward where I spent time slowly dying.
      Whenever Bonny visited the old man who I had become-someone of whom Bonny had always been very fond-Bunny was in a near comatose state in a nearby bed.
      Bonny fell in love with the quiver on Bunny's lips.
      A pity Bunny was now a shadow of his self, with lips peppered with creamy spit and eyes staring at the shimmery shapes left in the ward by passing nurses.
      How did Bonny know what Bunny saw?
      Although Bonny had 'met' Bunny in the hospital, it was only during her own sleep that Bonny actually looked from (or through) Bunny's eyes, in the corner of which eyes flickering entities lurked as they carried a sick pain to the seat of the soul.
      Those were the words Bunny's presence in her dream gave Bonny. Bonny could not possibly otherwise have used such words to describe the phenomenon that had itself given Bonny the very words to use. Bunny fell in love with the quiver on Bonny's lips, as she tried to try out those very words on the air-only for the words to turn into wordless sobs.
      Either Bunny or Bonny died.
      Neither Bonny nor Bunny were ever sure whether it were Bunny or Bonny that died. Perhaps both Bonny and Bunny had shared the same migraine. The edges were eaten away till nothing existed but the middle of nothing. I smiled. The only thing I regretted about my life was not having had children. If he had done so, someone may have visited him in the hospital.
      At least, there would be no more unwelcome dreams.
      And, in death, there might be no sick headache.
      I wish Bonny had been my daughter. I had one once, I believe.
      The music in the Mozart symphony was close to the music Ogg imagined they played in Heaven. Except he was in Hell listening to someone scream.
      Bonny broke off from thinking thoughts. Stared out of the office window mindlessly. Watching a road traffic accident as it happened. Involving someone she'd've recognised if she'd had telescope eyes. Blood was usually red whoever it owned. Except Jess's. Because he was an alien from space. Without realising it. Brainwashed. If he had a brain.
      Which he didn't. But matter not. His thoughts were not his own, in any case. Bonny listened to someone sing. A pretty girl whose throat had been snatched out by a victim of love. Music through a ruptured neck-valve sounded like screams bubbling. Bonny shrugged her breasts, because her shoulder-blades were at the top of someone else's arms. She returned to the harpsichord and clattered out the Devil's Trill on its keyboard. And a song about Birdseed.
      Jess broke off the thoughts. Found himself a pool of bottle green slime under the coughed-out oil sump which the splayed-out dipstick stirred, in a residue of motion initiated by the collision of meat, metal and bone. The craft's chassis was made of the finest bone. Full of slime going greener.
      Jess employed his own flayed body as a spaceship.
      Bonny looked through the window again. A distance beyond the strongest reaching telescope known to the tenable universe. Squinted through gold-rimmed owlglass. A songbird in Hell. Gargling with Don Giovanni.
      Vamping with Rachel. Jesting with Jess.
      Everybody told her Jess was a fly-by-night, but when she met him, she felt quite taken with the sincerity shining from him. Why he had a reputation for off-the-back-of-a-lorry romances and quick-in-quick-out sleights of confidence was a mystery. Bonny depended on first impressions more often than not and had rarely been disappointed. And, let it be said straightaway, if it's not too late, that he was indeed no exception to her general rule of thumb. She had no reason to alter her initial view of him as a person, except perhaps for the simple suspicion that he was not a person at all. Real people, she supposed, never leave their wings behind when they soar off into the wide chimney of the sky. But the kiss with which he graced her has lasted so far at least as long as he promised.
      Bonny tried to control Jess by the mere force of her mind. This, of course, did no good at all-mainly because he wasn't in control of his own mind in any event. After a while, she turned to talk to her television-but she had forgotten to switch it on.
      The gulf yawned beneath us.
      We thought we had been climbing the stairs to the bedroom, but here we were, floating between blocks of dark. If we had fallen to sleep, we would have understood and put it all down to damnable dreams. But damnable dreams were so sweetly disarming. The stairs were a dream themselves, since Bonny and I awoke abruptly into a conversation they were supposed to be holding with a startled shopkeeper called Ogg-in Salzburg, of all places. What was even more surprising, he had a naggingly familiar face for someone who was supposed to be simply a pen friend. He withdrew his biro from his top overall pocket where it had been peeping out, and kissed its tip, playing with the plastic tab on the red headpiece, springing it back and forth against the transparent barrel-stem. Bonny and I could not believe our eyes when they actually realised that he was now slowly extracting the re-fill. The soft inner tubing, half-filled with red ink, bent lissomly...
      Abruptly, it turned out that Bonny and Bunny were not in Salzburg at all.
      That was why, no doubt, the shopkeeper (love his cotton socks) was so surprised to see them.
      Reality is the gulf.
      But that's where they came in.
      Indeed such damnable dreams, since Bonny was also falsely dreaming that I was dreaming. Where's the sense in that? And where the pen to write it down with before is slipstreams away?
      Jess's to be a weatherman, or not. He stares at Bonny when she gives him this startling item of non-news.
      Well, is he or is he not?
      Bonny can't get the words out fast enough, before she lands him with her own version of trial and error: Jess is to be either a weatherman or not, covering a multitude of sins as well as all possible permutations of his prospective occupation.
      The logic's lost on me, Bonny.
      She puts her brolly in a relaxed mode since it's not raining down at the current moment.
      But she's caught Jess with his sprung wide, because he's raining up. Jess's to be a policeman, or not. And is she Bonny, or not? And is he Bunny?
      Just non-good luck, when, at the end of the non-night, truth and non-truth uncoagulated, with Bunny turning out to be using Bonny's mind. His belly was ripped open by a whale-hook and the innards lolloped out like live eels. The dream was so real, he had to wake up to prove it. The shape of Bonny was heating something smelly on the camping-stove in the corner of the bedsit.
      "What's the matter?" she asked, having probably noticed me bolt upright against the head-board.
      I looked at my lap. I was relieved to see it wasn't nearly as messy as I had feared.
      "Don't worry your pretty little head," I said.
      The smell was dissipating, too, along with Bonny's shape in the corner.
      "I'm going to make soup of your innards."
      The firelight threw a tiny flickering shadow of the strange speaker's nose over the flock wallpaper, like the ghost of a butterfly. Bunnymat decided not to react straightaway to the supposed threat, since it was important to gain his bearings, first.
      I was born this day some years ago, which says something about me, but not much. I have lived a simple life, each year dovetailed to the next. The people passing through it appeared blinkered-perhaps that's why I kept in the sidelines. Some caught me in the full glare of their eyes, however, and, of those, some loved me, others not. Some called me Bonny, others Bunny. A rare few even hated me. And, of those very people, some I loved, others not. But I hated none of them. Crystallising the person I surely am is more difficult than merely looking in the mirror at the reflection which happens to be there. Having simply been interrupted by my revery and nothing else, the strange speaker stoked up the fire, making shadows of shadows, and proceeded to stir the stewpot hanging above the rekindled wings of the flames. I tried hard to establish contact with my erstwhile persona but, bearing in mind its shortcomings, a series of miscommunications ensued-which situation, this situation, was worse than no communications at all.
      Bonny and I first met in a home for the deaf-and-dumb in Prague shortly following the Second World War. Of course, I had not always been deaf-and-dumb. A bomb's collateral damage had managed that little trick. On the other hand, she had been deaf-and-dumb since the birth trauma caused by a clumsy mid-wife called Rachel whilst delivering her to an expectant world.
      At first, we could not do enough for each other: a pair of islanded souls reaching out from shore to shore. But, then, there came Bonny's visitor to the home. He bustled into the common room, plumped himself down beside Bonny and waggled wriggly semaphores with his fingers. Bonny "told" me that he was her brother Jess. So why did he not simply kiss you on the cheek? That long-held breath-change seemed right over the top. I simply sank back into the double-sided oblivion whence I wished I had never left. Only a few months before, I had been fighting in a war against people like Bonny's brother. Once upon a time, I might even have been Bonny's brother. Or even father.
      It is feasible, I suppose, that a brother or father might want to take his disabled sister or daughter to a silkworm farm for a long weekend. So, I am willing to give Bonny the benefit of the doubt. How could I do otherwise with all those sweet nothings she once whispered still echoing in my ears?
      I am really at the end of my tether. She was my last chance. I might as well admit it-I'm well and truly left on the shelf. It's so high, nobody can reach me, even you. But I did have hopes for bonny Miss Bonny. The long arms by her side held such promise. Yet, even the tips of her toes were not enough at the end of the day. When I started to stretch my finger-tips down to her, I very nearly brushed them against her finger-tips-but, even so, the sheer thrill of being so near but so far away gave me hints of the love I've never known. If only it weren't for the chains...
      He I had have to finish off this before the pen ran runs out, which was is not difficult since he I had nothing to write. Having started, however, I thought think I would will take the opportunity of telling my life story to date. The problem is that nobody is ever likely to read this (especially the crossings-out which will not be transposed to the word processor).
      Indeed, for the purpose of saving the small quantity of ink left in my Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V7 Fine, I'll write bits in abbreviations (for example 'word processor' would have appeared as 'wp' and 'for example' as 'e.g.' if I'd been doing utilising this device from outset). b loves b. Not v. sensible, perhaps, on 2nd thts. Still, that's me all over, isn't it? The wp will do what I can't, i.e mould this into a poem with doses of hard enjambement.
      But the words under the manuscript crossings-out will be left in when power-dressed in print! No ink left for instructions to the input-typist. Only the music of heavenly silence.
      "Oink! Oink!"
      "Whilst the past cannot smell, the future stinks." Rachel Mildeyes (from Autobiography)

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