The Governor haunted by horrid exposure to haddock pie. ‘Big Boys gutted the files o’ the juicy stuff and I can’t sniff for what he got nicked.’
‘You leave it to the experts — berk!’
‘And next week our Big Fish breaks free. Judges’ horders.’
‘Weir shull we free meet again?’ enquires demon dick Whitelaw. ‘Masons’ Arms or Pig & Whistle?’
‘No. Hush-hush tsch-marra night. ‘Slaughtered Goat.’
‘Hare be hood as a wink to a blind goat.’
[EDITOR’S WARNING: READER BEWARE! THE FOLLOWING SCENE LIES CONDEMNED AS A LITERARY TOXIC DUMP OF CHEMICALS AND METAPHYSICS]
Halfway House between the Gutter and the Stars.
The last of Chef’s regular peasants to risk body and soul on a prize-scoop of Chicken Surprise drags guilt-riddled gravy-dripping dreadlocks up the Stairway to Heaven. Or the other place. Contents of the plastic dinner tray congealing the coolest of burnt offerings to the gods.
C46664 Benjamin Samuels slopes along the starboard landing to the end cell. Room 102.
Pot plants breathe for a better Life on the window ledge and on tops of books.
Beneath the barred window the black box blooms Blancmange’s Living on the Ceiling.
The dinner tray festers deserted to the ravages of mutant insect wildlife. Slumped on the portside bed Benjamin constructs a scholarly spliff — three skins long and smooth like a submarine — lined with five grades of nuclear-powered skunk and a passing of pollen.
Wasps of cirrus and the honeysuckle waft of pot plants commingle a peaty aroma.
Seahorses of smoke prance upon a filmy pool of blue.
Shadows shallow-hop a shingle reef of white bricks.
Low hungry clouds howl from a wild tent of black.
Your skin creeps so cold Bumps as Big as Buoys bulge to bursting.
Brace yourself, Gentle Reader, for a seedy confession. For behind the closed thick steel door a man of unusual tastes, and thirsty for the Meaning of Life, bad-Boy Benjamin for a first course feasts fruits from the forbidden tree of English literature. He picks the bones of chop-fallen Hamlet, lusts for the day he can clod country lanes with new friend Hardy, and longs for the drinking of more than a day’s worth of Ulysses.
A body blow to the Author who wishes to devote good time to the car chase, the prison riot, and the bonding of body and mind to the green herbal gifts of Mother Nature.
Twisted Benjamin sinks nuggets of literature paying no heed to the borehole of learning shafting mind and body. We monitor the student for fallout: dormant library fines, late nights between the sheets of some imaginary maiden, loss of decent smoking time.
Had your mother uncovered the odd specimen from your mattress when you were of tender years she might have stamped out this perverted habit.
O, Benjamin, how can you let down the Good Reader coughing good money to learn more of the drugs score at Springwood? The Good Author’s Nobel Prize for the Advancement of High Hippy Culture up in smoke!
(Greedily the Governor outlawing the books and ramblings of the way-out Professor on penalty of Solitary and an improved diet of bread and water. A sluice-bucket of rumour awashing the Ones that the Governor is bumrush for a nervous breakdown, a red-tape effluent of directives, regulations and rubbish rubiconning the Ones like rotten confetti.)
But mankind cannot live by Bacon and Shakespeare alone.
Now hunts Benjamin bigger fish for his game.
The Meaning of Life.
Forty days and forty nights flatly refuses the recumbent Professor to be drawn.
Benjamin’s thirst for a River of Life tonic unfathomable!
For the Meaning of Life should not be taboo. Food for the chosen few. And Life should not be lived under a blanket of guilt. With that ever-present stitching to your soul. Never to fill a private hole.
The scholar Benjamin waiting — waiting — way longer than the White Hart Lane faithful for a home win.
We wait for the shaggy-headed Professor to return from his CCCUNT. Wait for the early evening nap. Wait for the sucking of hoar-blue gas. Wait for the shafting of student papers. Wait for a round of Beach Volleyball 6 on the PlayStation 11.
Pick your moment and dive with both feet, aping the nerve of an Arsenal defender against the shins of an opponent.
The sorry lesson giveth that the good soul on the Tottenham Omnibus might abide any evil bar being forced to watch Arsenal play.
The witching hour.
The time is nicely jointed.
The pot-headed Professor so laid back he is given to marking students’ essay papers horizontally, a riot of black fizzy locks backsliding a pillow of fluff. Mushroom tea shaken. Not stirred. Green tongue splays before a crack’d hand-mirror — ‘I’m ill.’
‘Ya not ill.’
‘I’ll have you know I’m suffering mighty litigious lately.’
‘’Tis your own fault.’ Scornful Benjamin dreads the tip of a tongue along the dead-dog-gum of a strip ripp’d from the Lard’s gospel — ‘Ya wailin’ worse tan Woodstock.’
‘How’s Hamlet these days?’
Scholar Benjamin lowers a forcefield of dreadlocks, puts to rest the more-than-pristine copy pilfered from the prison library and settles to a sensible round of skinning — ‘Close your pretty blue eyes — dassit — sleepy — sleepy — and tell me about dis Meaning of Life.’
‘Memory’s blown to pot.’
‘Ya wriggle worse tan Michael Jackson.’
Green graveyard gas gurgles the grill of the window. The black box breakers Saint Germain’s Rose Rouge. Arclights flood the peter with stringy streams of dancing specks. Shadows scatter two-by-two the screen of white bricks. Shelves crammed with pot plants and the odd cobwebbing of a book.
Heavy heavy silence hangs like the devil’s smog over Ashburton Grove on news of the Glorious Spurs banging home a third.
When decided these cruel gods that the Meaning of Life should be taboo and with a free shot at Life for the chosen few the scholar Benjamin is at a loss. Against a granite wall he rubs his face and the skin exfoliates flake by flake.
‘The Meaning of Life …’ Flotsam on a fogbank of blue the cast-off words from a fallen Professor trailing the deep. ‘… is not forty-two.’
'Ha-ha.' Suicide faithful rises from the grave an honourable option. Gloomily Benjamin inspects the swamp of discarded students’ papers vegetating and rooting a new geologic layer between the beds, a stratum of disappointment: overseas private students in search of God, militant new atheists, courageous creationist doctorate students in search of military insects with stocks of chemical weapons, jubilant undergraduates demanding that the powers-that-be indefinitely delay the release of the potty Professor, the Dean demanding new charges be brought, applications for funding, rejections for funding, all composting and composing an earthy infusion of fustiness.
Swears scholar Benjamin he senses a scintilla of compost-mentis from the dead-headed Professor, a suggestion of blue eye, crook’d smile, as though of hemlock he had drunk, and floating the soft words of a tapering vine: ‘My dear chap, the Meaning of Life relies on your ability to pay for the course materials. Have you a credit card? Offshore bank account?’
The soul of Benjamin Samuels sinking quick, not waving but drowning.
‘And for the Meaning of Life you have sign a pledge not to sue the course leader.’
Waves of honeysuckle prickle the nasal passage. The soul of scholar Benjamin longing to set sail to an undiscovered country of culture. Reason. Logic. And where the higher concepts of Life lie like coconuts. Benjamin sucks soft blue smoke deep into the labyrinth of the lungs. The wind whips such a racket to raise the dead. Vapours of evening virga invigorate the mind like a primrose zephyr from Heaven.
Benjamin kills the overhead lamp, curiosity a little more than kindled, and temper a little less than kind.
Barbed hunger haunts the halls of the stomach.
Let out to play, the spooks and spirits of the night cry Whitney in a protoplasmic orgy of howailing.
Kicks to the door. For the sport. For the Hell of it.
He slips shivering beneath the grave-cold sheets.
Tosa-the-Mad-Man-Mountain with the tin-pot hat and riding crop ... and skinheads with big blue tattoos ... They smoke the weediest handrolled butts, and jabber too loudly when you pass their potbellies on the lower landings, about black bastards who take all the jobs. Benjamin never having a proper job. The teachers cuffing a boy of no potential ... Benjamin tries to conjure proper words, and studies the pictures of proper books … and if the end of the Christian world is coming, he is on a mission pro bono to confront this God ... godo-a-mano ... Visions of Tosa and Nazis with potbellies ... God ... Jennifer ... Oh Jennifer ... Scraps of pictures pinball the portals of the skull ... Scholar Benjamin Samuels slides asleep.