By sean mcnulty
Do you have a shot?
No, not you. I mean Knox. We’re trying to shoot a film here, not a head off, as is your wont.
I don’t want to do that. But look your devoted arse-lickers are in danger over there. The Long Gully Man has them cornered. I’m not inclined to shoot the fellow, he’s a nice ghost, but you never know with the living dead. If he makes a move, I suppose, I could always clip him and give them time to run.
He’s right. It doesn’t look too good. Maybe we should get over there and help them.
Did you think I meant not to go help them? I simply wanted to get a nice wide shot of the bog and the scene over there. This will make for something incredible in the end. I can’t wait to get back to the screening room, to be honest, and view it.
Let’s get a move on then.
What’s that thing beside it?
It’s Hilda. The sow of all sows. Took a mercy bullet from me yesterday and now up and hopping about as though nothing happened. They’re all at that, it seems.
Truly amazing. We are graced, surely. What did I say? Wasn’t I right all along? The New Man. There he is. Keep that contraption rolling, Knox.
Catch yourself on, ye oul clown.
Devin held Imogen tighter. He was glad she was there beside him. The stench had by now overpowered his nose and was making an utter hames of all his other senses: the odour of bodies long past caring had merged with those of the long past living. The voice in his head suddenly dulled and turned to a smothered hiss and his attention went to strange visions out along the valley. Were they an aftershock of the happy-dolloped pie he’d partaken of earlier? Perhaps. In the near-morning light, the quagmire had a certain nuclear fallout look about it, the greener browner parts now pasty grey; it seemed comfortable with this complexion, as if this was its natural hue and the general sightseer could only be granted access at this hour and in this light with the head this fucked. The bog-sheet appeared to be lined with bones, except ones made from soft pliable clay maybe, for there was a somewhat mushy texture to them, and they floated like white alligators on a casual morning probe of the waters, waiting for the right time to throw up their big jaws and snap at someone. The bog plants around him twitched; a few sparks came off them. Man, he couldn’t handle his drugs at all. Never. Not back behind the house huffing his sister’s hair spray – even then he knew he was barking up the wrong tree. But we were all young. Weren’t he and she still. Listen, if there was no getting his head round these other-worldly substances the way twice-older hippies had, what hope had he or any of his generation in the coming years?
For a moment he entertained like a prize fool the notion it was all a dream, all of it, seeing these things, coming to this place, even meeting and falling in love with Imogen was but a dream, setting his foot in the Free State in the first place, all a dream, all of it. Would it be sinful to wish for waking in his bed in the house on Forest Street now?---Time for school, Dev. Pass the red fences and someone throws a brick. Prayers, maths, geography, prayers. Stub of a Rothman’s. The chase home. Back to the sister’s hair spray. A normal day in Belfast. You might see a dead body in an alley but it wasn’t going to get up and come walking at you. Traditionally that never happened.
Yes, it was a sin to wish for that with Imogen in his arms now, but wasn’t it the most minor of this liar’s litany of sins? No matter how closer he pulled her, still he hankered for that world he’d escaped from. It was a smaller world, yes. Not exactly a kinder one on the outside either but strangely enough a more comprehensible one. At least to him. He had expanded his consciousness far enough. He’d tasted the best hippiedom had to offer but no longer had he the appetite. He wondered if anyone else was under an old head-wobble.
As Devin contemplated all of this, the pig let out another explosive fart, which set fire to some nearby orchids.
Imogen turned to him, having felt the quease in his grasp.
Are you okay?
It’s fine. You don’t have to pretend you’re not scared. I’m not sure how much more of this voice I can stand. It’s like an eel in my brain.
I have that feeling too. Mine’s sort of an electric eel.
I know I said I wanted nothing more than to get away from that house but I hereby scrub those words and admit I wouldn’t mind being there now. In that room with you. With the telescope.
Aye. The telescope.
You’re not going to run, are you?
Course not. I’m just a bit ill-at-ease. Where I’m from we don’t get pigs or corpses behaving this way. Ah, I’m in a world of my own. Thinking about Belfast. And the past.
You made the jump back pretty quick. You were all up in the future not half an hour ago, the next part of your life and everything?
I’m still there. Just...out of sorts.
You’re out of your head.
Yes. The past is...not how I remembered it. Somehow I remembered it worse.
Well, we’re not old enough to romanticise the past yet. It should remain a bag of shite to us as we look to the forthcoming aeons.
She says as she locks arms in a show of reasonable fear. And he says as he tries to shake the eel out of his brain. I believe I’m hallucinating again.
Well, I can see and hear what you can see and hear so are both of us at it? I had none of the Offaly woman’s edibles, to be clear.
Do you see the alligators? The bones...
Ah now. Would you not hold your horses and just make do with the walking corpse and pig? We’ve enough on our plate as it is.
You can’t see that? Out there.
Not at all. But I can see Elder. And Sullivan as well, would you believe?
Oh, you’re right. Looks like they on their way.
I never thought I’d be as pleased for seeing the man.
Well, it appears now he might earn that prophet’s gown after all.
Blind luck more like. Anyway will he be of any help at all, who knows?
He just might. That is if the alligators don’t get to them first.
How are you so clean, by the way, so non-repulsive?
Purity abides, I suppose. Meanwhile you look a bit like your man Steptoe with the muck all over you.
Imogen scrunched up her face in a way she hadn’t done since she was a teenager and her favourite impression was given a new wind of life.
Good mimicry. You should be an actress.
They laughed quietly to themselves. But all the same they couldn’t hide that they were both powerfully freaked out by the whole lot of it.