Big Bill Backward’s True-Faced Western Tales, 6: The Halcyon Kid

The Halcyon Kid & Pal‘They called him the Halcyon Kid back then, because he killed kingfishers, n made a coracle out of their carcasses.’

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‘Used ta sit out there on Lake TooGone in his feather coracle gluing dragonflies into fishin rods. Called it the SS Iridescent.’

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‘When he started stitchin trout tails to the heads of cougars that’s when we knew sumpn was wrong. Called em “catfish” but they wusn’t.’

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‘Made friends with a bear had a bad reputation for twistin folks so their fronts wus their backs. They’d get ugly drunk on pitcher plants.’

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‘Had me some of that pitcher plant moon bug juice once – you don’t even know what century you’re in. That’s some powerful future juice…’

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‘The bear’s tearin up natterjack n raccoon, n the Kid’s skewerin corkscrew spines thru the critter parts. Calls em “toves” but they wusn’t.’

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‘Bear n him had a con-tray-tomp n the Kid had to stitch himself up. Ended up part-bear. Took off to college n next thing he’s some kinda “Doc”.’

from the Chimeric Bestiary

Listen to the manticore
His speech contains much mantic ore;
Instead of words he useth roars
And talketh till a little hoarse.

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Droppings of the hippogriff
Exude a strong deranging whiff;
Another clue, should you not smell it:
owl beaks cloggeth every pellet

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Eyeballing the basilisk
Contains a element of risk;
Whether it looketh with hate or love
Shove your head into a glove.

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Small talk with the unicorn
Inevitably turns to porn;
Its company should be forsworn
Unless you’d like your lacework torn.

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Those who meet the Minotaur
Declareth it a dreadful bore;
But should it climb down off its plinth
Haste ye from the Labyrinth.

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Riders on the hippocampus
Deride it as a senile grampus;
It roameth on Sargasso’s pampas
Where if it sees us it will lamp us.

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Old Stag Head hangeth out in Lascaux
Discovered by Dalziel and Pascoe
Snorting mushrooms with Tabasco:
Le Sorcier or the Man in a Masko?

The Chimeric Theatre

In the Chimeric Theatre the audience wears the most extravagant costumes and the actors dress as they would to go to the theatre theatre.

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In the Chimeric Theatre each member of the audience has memorised a single line and the actors must compel them to surrender it.

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In the Chimeric Theatre no-one knows the order of the speeches or even which play they come from, but everyone has a compelling theory.

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In the Chimeric Theatre props are venerated as though they were great performers and always have dressers and prompters to hand.

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In the Chimeric Theatre no-one waits for the interval and everyone rapturously applauds the women selling ice cream who can do what they want.

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In the Chimeric Theatre everyone laughs at any attempt at tragedy and weeps inconsolably over farces and jokes. Hecklers are given bouquets.

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In the Chimeric Theatre every performance ends with the director receiving a kicking unless he or she can deflect blame onto the dramatist.

Death Shack 2: Fortune Cockles

The Fortune Cockles at Death Shack are to die for! Once you’re dead and can eat there, ask for the funerary steamer of prophetic shellfish.

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When the lid is lifted and the room bathes in the hallucinogenic vapours of the Fortune Cockles, you begin to hear their tiny voices pipe.

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Each cockle tells you what would have happened if, at a certain point in your life, you’d taken the other option. All speak simultaneously.

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Sometimes you hear about something that might have happened when you hadn’t even realised you had a choice. This is really annoying.

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Even worse is the fact that when living you would have strained to hear so many voices at once, but now they are all perfectly intelligible.

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But most galling of all is the fact that in the afterlife there’s absolutely nothing you can do about any of these missed opportunities.

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Nonetheless, every lunchtime, the dead crowd in great numbers outside the Death Shack, and have an insatiable appetite for Fortune Cockles.

Set the Controls for the Centre of the Earth

If you bury your car in the garden overnight, it will eventually learn how to drive underground – who needs stupid flying cars?!

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If you don’t have time to immerse your car repeatedly in earth, you can simply fill it with fresh soil – always fresh, never store-bought!

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Once a car has been properly steeped in humus, it develops a ‘negative’ gear stick. This determines the scrabble factor of the claw shaft.

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The main drawback with Mole Cars is of course the journey length. Your car must claw through tons of undisturbed earth. This can take years.

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When ordering a Mole Cab, always leave a decade for arrival, and, depending on the distance to be covered, another decade for your journey.

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Another factor is that young Mole Cars have a propensity to dive and head for the centre of the Earth. You must set the controls carefully.

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As your Mole Car approaches the centre of the Earth, its radio will tune to Radio Axelbourg, playing the hits of Rick Wakeman, nonstop!

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It will also begin to melt, plastic fittings first, then the rubber coatings on the claws, finally the glass and steel. Pull out of the dive!

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As you approach the centre of the Earth, a cosy drowsiness overcomes you. You’re visited by fond memories of adolescence. It’s so warm…

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Pets, long dead, gambol to meet you. Why do they have worms’ bodies instead of limbs? No, Snubby, don’t wrap yourself around me like that!

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Grandparents lean through the molten Mole Car windows. They are spry again. ‘You shouldn’t have come to the Burning Meadows,’ they tell you.

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The Golden Worm undulates toward you in the cavern at the core. In fact it is stationary, it is the centre. It folds space to bring you home.

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Its hair flows ceaselessly: a gold stream. This is the Fountain of Youth. As you drink, your insides burn. The gilding, the gelding, begins.

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You are Axel, you are Daisy, you are Sebastian, you are Molly. When Rick Wakeman asks if you will join Yes Yes you say yes you will Yes

When you were nine

When you were nine your head fell off in the playground. Dr Mort was called. He pasted it back on with PVA glue. You’d never know now.

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When you were nine your arms turned into trees. Dr Mort worked his magic with the chainsaw. You still need light pruning once a week.
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When you were nine you broke space-time. Dr Mort patched it back together with a bandage made of your memories, printed in 3D.
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When you were nine your pet rabbit turned against you, playing dead whenever you went near it. Dr Mort chuckled from his observation post.
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When you were nine you brought all the extinct animals back to life. Your mother patted you on the head. Dr Mort frowned.
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When you were nine you pretended to be Dr Mort. Dr Mort, meanwhile, pretended to be you. Your mother was nonplussed.
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When you were nine Dr Mort replaced your eyes with marbles while you slept. You still haven’t noticed.
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When you were nine your head started shrinking. You look ridiculous. By the time you’re 44, it will be the size of a pea.
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When you were nine you tried to become a cyborg. Your shopping trolley attachment was risible.
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When you were nine Dr Mort rewired your brain. Even to this day, the only word in your vocabulary is “blood.”
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When you were nine you bullied your imaginary friend. He hasn’t forgotten. He’s biding his time.
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When you were nine you learned that the German word for poison is “gift.” Christmas has had a special meaning for you ever since.