Friday, October 5, 2007

Tich Backhouse: Letter to Minerva

Tich Backhouse Esq.
c/o Honey Haven Ranch
Byrne Abbey Hospice
Byrne Abbey

To    Mz Minerva Kutlass
Byrne Abbey Boulevarde,
Byrne Abbey

Dearest Minerva,
      and a deja view. It's Box 911, c/o Her Majesty's Prisons agin! If'n you have read about my confrontation with that Mighty Arm of the Law, Constable Percy, in our gladrag Brother Russell's Gazette you'll already have packed the cake and file, but hang on, darlink, i'm not ready to break out, my soul is flayed with grief and i shall wallow in durance vile till i am purged of the black megrims. Have patience, dearly beloved, and listen to Tich, hiz side o' the matter.
      We are born prisoners. Conditioned to the stasis since we were conjured into a finite cell out of the abyss. Once more i am encapsulated in the womb; tis Her Majesty's confinement, lasting the duration of her pleasure, and the padded walls of this hermetically-sealed environment are designed for those who would kick against the pricks. When shall i be delivered? O pray not for a miscarriage, not that i shall linger out the full term. Better call in the Surgeons General and certify me a phantom pregnancy! How can they libel a crackpot with madness? Tiz illiterate az well as unconscionable: cranks should enjoy special rights. We iz an endangered species!
      I was training Tiffani, my precious tyke, how to cock a leg up at a fire-hydrant. Being a pup and a bitch to boot she prefers the spreadleg stance. I thot to strike back at the Mzanthropic Society, how they thinks we iz outta step with them! Uz males, that is!
      The tyke 'n i had taken on a load at the Forebeers Bar, as per custom. Harry, the tapster, had paid me fer taking the slops out back for the hogs, enough to get me whistle wet. You know how everybody iz two beers short of good humour, especially Tich, an' the strain o' livin' off the avails of everybody's condescension coz you iz on the paupers' roll, and when you're stature matches your own good opinion you haz to rise in the world somehow. A draught or two iz me remedy. O an ugly mug like me wid frowzy beard, five foot in me holey sox, mistaken fer a dwarf, people allus take pity on me – serve 'em right.
      That's why you fell, Minerva, first sight an' you know it, you took it bad, especially as your dog had just got run over by the brewer's dray i were driving. O, you are the light of me one good eye and along with the booze an' Tiffani my only comfort in this worriting world o' precarious come-be-chance. That you iz!
      So i did my party tricks, actin' the fool, which i am. Tumbling like me pigeons do. An' sang a dolorous ditty or two sending round Tiff with the hat. Bowls the ladies over. Though they has to be tipsy to appreciate it.
      By closin; time, i'm as high as a cloudless sky, and as sunny, when Constable Percy pokes his ruddy nose through the door. Now Perce an' i get along together very well when we're sober but he takes dead aim at me when i'm under the influence. "Out!" he sez, jerking his thumb in my direction. And Harry hasn't even sung, "Time, gennelmen an' ladiez, please," yet.
      "Pardon me," i replies, "it's me job," and i picks up the pot of slops from under the bar and, quite by accident, oh dear, as i go past collides with him and drenches his bonny blue uniform. He swole up pompous as a bull-walrus in mid-bellow – so i vamoosed!
      Tiffani follows on me heels, waggin' her stump. People say she looks like me; which is not true. It's not fair to insult a dog. But we do think alike. As we lollop down the bullyvard we gets the urge. Immediate. Trickle down the leg, else. Bladder's swollen like great blood pudden. We musta had more'n one over the eight, she 'n me. Never understood why they call the pub "Forebeers"; shudda been "Ten", give a guy something to aim at. Aiming at is what we did, the fire-hydrant outside the police-station, as i explained, it being the most convenient.
      When we're in full spate – o bad timing, can't nip it in the bud – a great holler: "Stop that!" tis the constable drippin' suds onto his big boots, like he was incontinently in synch with our endeavour. But na, he wasn't! And to cut the caper short (being decently finished) drunk-tank it is, with magistrait's court in the morning. Not Tiffani; she was excused, bein' a minor.
      I pled: "Not guilty, Yer Honour. It iz ascertainable fact bladders an' other eliminatory organz iz involuntary. Besides, i iz volunteer fireman an' fire hydrants comes under me purview, hosed down, reg'lar. There i rests me case, M'Lud!"
      "Thirty days or twenty-five dollar fine, whichever comes first," he intones without looking up at yours unruly. I can't hold back me furious short temper. Tis involuntary, too! I climbs over the railing and standing knee high to the dock drubs me gnarly fists on the panelling. "Cum down here!" i yell, "you topin' ol' tyrant an' i'll present you with a matched set o' black eyes. Ye mither were a drab an' your fadderz unanimous!" With that, i exposed myself.
      The ushers descend like a rugger scrum and i sails into the barney. I bloodied the clerk's nose an' went down fightin'! Tuck six good men an' true to drag me to the hoosegaw. Oh it were a fittin' end to a night on the town!
      The beak, he changes his mind. Consults the police sawbones, finds out i've been committed afore, and here i am, guest and detainee, courtesy Liz Regina Windsor.
      Minerva, dear, here's the bad news. I run into Doctre Bideen at the funny farm. Yes, he's in here, too. Again. You remember meeting him at his lecture given in the hall at Mz McMadamz? Old duffer with bleary eyes an' granny glasses. A beard even the mice won't nest in. Thin long streak, speaks in long insubstantial streaks to match. We got the tickets free cos he couldn't sell any. The topic was: "What does Metempsychosis Mean to You?" Nobody understood a word. Both on us. That's how clever he is! Educated at Ispahan U. in Persia. He's my philosophy tutor when we're in the nick together. Kills the time wonderfully.
      I should say, "He was." Was me tutor, i mean. He's dead. I'll tell you how in a minute when i get to feeling like it.
      The Doc 'n i, bein' old hands at the farm, Honey Haven Ranch for the Feeble-Minded, and unfit for anything else, we gots the pretend-we're-bush-clearing job, like before, back forty by the river at Big Bend. Seems like the bush grows while we're watching it, so we don't try hard to catch up. You know the drill. Chop it down, saw it up into cordwood and burn the debris. We're our own bosses during the day. Who's goin' to escape while we got free meals for doin' nothin'? It's back to the padded cell at night. Locked tight. Don't make sense, guards while we're asleep!
      I'm bein' long-winded cos i hate to spit it out! We're sitting cosily together, on a soft mossy log off in the bush, just the two of us, the Doc 'n me, philosofussin', the old tobacco can hung from a greenstick over the fire, me watching the can cos old doc, he gets caught up in his disquisitions, and i don't want the coffee to boil more than to a head, and there's a pork sangridge in me fist, left over from breakfast – well, the Reverend Doctre Bideen, a corpus he is, finally compiled, no more to be writ, not his'n, they have carted him off, leaving me distraught, with a can of coffee i can't drink and half a sangridge i can't swallow. He keeled over in one of his Caesarean fits, mouth a-gapin' like he needed air badly, but it weren't air wanting to get in, t'were his blessed immortal soul leaving his body. I could hear it keening, i swear, like a babe come raw from its mother, glad to go but unwilling to leave. I bolted up to the ranch for help, but no use. A gonner's a gonner, nothing more certain!
      This is what i want you to do, Minerva. You owe me, and i saved it for a special occasion in case, cos i never said nowt about you and your secret agenda; whoever you visits of a sudden, once in a while, claiming it's your great-aunt. So i've written up notes i made while Doc was lecturin' me on Love with a capital, like he used to. I'll post them and please get them printed up in the Brussell's Gazette.

            Your fond spouse,

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