Camillus John, With Suspicious Blinds

A low tinny Elvis we heard within. Like the buzzing of a swarm of buff-tailed bumble bees in jumpsuits. They were suspicious blinds. Very suspicious blinds indeed. But no matter in which direction we spied or how close we squashed our noses up against her front windows, we could see absolutely zilch inside. Nada.

Mrs Parsley hadn’t been seen in over a month. But unfortunately, there wasn’t really a bad smell coming out her house. It was more like peanut-butter and banana, rather than a decomposing-corpse sort of a vibe wafting. We oh so wanted to be heroes on our road. Or normal. That would do too. Thank you very much. We needed a second chance after getting kept back in fifth class last year and being beaten by a priest because of that stupid, smelly essay, stinking out nostrils still.

The evidence wasn’t really saying that Mrs Parsley was decomposing inside her house and slowly turning into a billion white-maggots wriggling or trapped in acute pain on her floorboards somewhere unable to move, either. But like, she hadn’t been seen for over a month, everyone agreed. No answer when you knocked on her door. That was good enough for the likes of us. All our boxes ticked off goodo. Or at least, the boxes we were able to carry in our heads at the time.

Darren raised the baseball bat and I started counting in whispers beside his face on the window ledge. He was supposed to whack her front window hard when I whispered, ‘three’, after which we would rush in bionically and rescue her, call an ambulance and the job would be oxo. We would be superheroes on the street for the next five weeks guaranteed. Everyone would slap our backs joyously in vibrant supplication to our massive righteousness as if our smelly essay had never existed and had been dropped into a black hole with a sick-sucking splash. But before Darren was able to even lightly graze any glass with his baseball bat, the front door opened wide and a stern Mrs Parsley stood there akimbo dressed as Elvis Presley in a gold-studded jump-suit. Dazzy-white and shimmering. There was also two very thin and creeping pork chops Sellotaped below her ears for his locks. They didn’t look raw. Very well done is what I’d hazard a guess. Peppery too. Spiced to the max.

She bum-rushed at us and before we knew what was happening we were pushed and shoved into her living room. She locked the front door behind and pulled tight all her suspicious blinds. Every single suspicious blind she had in the house. Because by God they were suspicious now alright as each had a hand-painted image of Elvis Presley on the inside. Very good likenesses too. Who knew she was such an important artist? But then again she did do a very fine portrait last year of that priest who meted out all that corporal punishment on us after our fragrant essay was brought to his pop-eyed attention in school. Abstract but true to the shape and colour of his face. Malevich’s Black Square, eat your heart out.

‘Glad you could make it, boys. Welcome to your second chance.’

She turned the stereo up full-blast, Elvis of course, don’t know which song but it was making her legs go all shaky and shakier and shakier. She done the splits at one stage interleaved beautifully with axe kicks. The living room was flavoured like a Las Vegas hotel, The Sands, I think. But it was hard to think at all on account of the volume of the music and her two legs shakying and shakying and shakying at us ferociously.

It turns out she hated her job and had taken a month off to do an extended tour of Las Vegas in her living room. She wanted us for roadies. You see, because her Vegas tour had gone so well, she’d now had an offer to do a tour of the east coast, in her living room. She said she was calling in sick to work next month to do that tour. Nothing could stop her. We were on school holidays for that period as well, she pointed out, we’d have plenty of spare time. It’s a great plan, she said. The music got louder. Her legs shakier.

She broke Darren’s two legs with a karate-chop special soon after we got in the door and reiterated that we would be her roadies before flicking a switch which brought iron bars down on all the suspicious blinds and doors in the entire house. Trapping us inside like two blind mice.

I think we’re in Mississippi now – the east coast tour played a blinder and now we’re in the heart of Dixie. We’re getting sick of all the peanut-butter and banana sandwiches at this stage, but to be honest it’s the least of our worries. Darren’s still very ill. I did my best to fix his legs after she broke them, but I think I just made it worse. He can hardly talk now for the gangrene pain. And the priest visits every couple of days to administer more of his beatings. Our smelly essay is still in his nostrils, he says.

Mrs Parsley has said that she might die suddenly one day on the toilet eating a hamburger – it was her destiny – so be good to her, and take care of her in the meantime because if we didn’t how would we get out then, eh? We’d starve. That’s how. Only she knows the password to open all the locks, iron bars and suspicious blinds in the house. The priest would leave us here alone to die, she said, and besides, he’d never get access to her passwords, they’d die on the toilet with her and her quarter-pounder with cheese.

However, it might be for the best that we’re locked up here because between whip-cracks the priest has told me not to hate the Germans in the way I do – and to stop calling Mrs Elvis and himself Nazis. But I’ve been listening to my parents for too long now and maybe that’s why I deserve everything we’ve got. Whip crack after priestly whip crack. You see after Greece’s negotiations for a loan from the European Union and Germany’s subsequent invasion of Greece, I have this uncontrollable urge to call any German tourist I see a Nazi. Real loud. ‘Fuck off back to Germany where you belong. Stop invading other countries.’ And then walk away. I’ve picked it up from my parents, they get very upset about that sort of thing; injustice. I can’t help it. I’ve never actually done it outside though, don’t worry. Nazi is always kept locked up tightly in my throat.

This behaviour is even worse than our pungent essay last year, says the priest, when he’s assaulting and abusing us. So, I’m better off in here with Mrs Elvis and himself in case I commit some great anti-German crime of the century on the streets outside and harm tourism. It’s banned in Germany to say Nazi, says the priest, and it might be banned in Ireland too if the police or the German bankers want it. Just saying the word. Elvis was stationed in Germany for a while when he was in the army. Maybe this is my own equivalent national service and I just have to bear it with patience and diligence and everything will work out fine at the other end of the tunnel; I’ll get to star in Hollywood movies. A roadies’ life is not really that tough when you compare it to other things we could end up doing outside on the Dublin streets – sure there’s no decent jobs or houses out there anyway.

For the moment though we’re frightened. It’s very scary. So, if you find this note – please call the police and get us out of here –it’s criminal what Mrs Elvis and the priest are doing and we’re terrified we won’t make it out to see sixth class in September. Or maybe September is long gone at this stage. I was looking forward to the poetry.  I’m already reading ahead in the textbook – or I was. I don’t understand everything in the poems, but I will when I get to sixth class and Mister Hooper explains them to the class through the medium of conceptual art like last year. And I’m sure I can grow up into Eminem no bother at all. With a chain-saw. Coming at Mrs Elvis and the priest – in a mask. So the blood doesn’t splash or stain my face when I slice through bone. Don’t tell the priest I said that, for we promised we’d never do anything smelly again. Me and Darren are now planning to do an Eminem European tour in Mrs Elvis’ living room, after she’s been sliced up good and proper – and freezered in small plastic bags.

Camillus John was bored and braised in Dublin, Ireland. He has had work published in The Stinging Fly, RTE Ten,, The Lonely Crowd, Thoughtful Dog, Honest Ulsterman, The Cantabrigian, The Bogman’s Cannon, The Queen’s Head, Litro, Fictive Dream, Silver Streams and other such organs of literature. Recently he killed the Prime Minister of Ireland in fiction in the Welsh literary magazine, The Lonely Crowd, with a piece entitled, The Assassination of Enda Kenny (After Hilary Mantel). He would also like to mention that Pat’s won the FAI cup in 2014 for the first time in 53 miserable years of not winning it.


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