Big Bill Backward’s True-Faced Western Tales, 11: Diving for Pearl-Fisher Persons

Recall when I wuz divin fer pearl-fisher persons we used ta find six, seven at a time, each loaded with so many pearls they near drownded.

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We found folks lyin on the ocean floor with their heads stuck in giant oyster shells, folks with pearls where their eyes shoulda been…

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One guy got his head inside a huge pearl n he wuz kinda livin in there: said he wuz breathin ‘Atlantis air’, n he had found the ‘true grit’.

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We’d pull em up n they’d come round n cough up weed n their eyes’d roll n they’d yell ‘I’m a Pearly King!’ (or queen) n dive right back in.

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Those we dragged back to land, we found pearls in their bellies, pearls in their veins, n they allus wanted pearls dissolved in their wine.

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Every full moon yuh hud to tie them down with silken scarves or they’d be flingin themselves in seas, lakes, swimmin pools, or just puddles.

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Used ta ask em what they saw in them pearls: ‘Clouds of oysters, pulsin n singin n chewin – skies of milk n skin goin on forever n ever…’

The Institution

Architecture
The Institution comprises a labyrinthine complex of concrete buildings. No one knows how many there are. Many of the blocks are over twenty storeys high, and all are connected by a network of walkways. The way into a building is never the way out: there are strict rules. Security personnel tut under their breaths.

Work
The purpose of the Institution is widely debated. Some conjecture that it’s educational, while others argue it’s military. It may even be a correctional facility, or perhaps a religious foundation or a spam factory. The evidence points many ways. One thing is certain: the Institution is a place of fierce activity. Employees work long hours and remain connected to their workplace after hours through telecommunicative metal discs implanted just beneath the skin. Encrypted messages requiring urgent responses are transmitted from the Institution to its workforce at all hours, often manifesting in dreams. As a result, all employees with managerial responsibilities are prone to neurotic analysis of their own dreams, sifting through the imagery in case it contains some important memorandum or action point.

Pecking order
Most people who work at the Institution are middle managers. But they struggle to articulate their responsibilities and don’t know the names of those who manage them. There must be dozens, even hundreds of senior managers. But that echelon is a mystery.

Rules
At the Institution there are strict protocols governing use of the staff toilets. Employees wishing to urinate may do so only when it is raining. Defecation is even more problematic: a 20,000 word rationale must be submitted to a special committee at least a month in advance.

Business
The Institution welcomes a constant stream of visitors: clients, customers, consultants, clowns, costermongers, chiropractors, cadavers. The visitors are ushered into meeting rooms, conference rooms, dining rooms, boardrooms, ballrooms, bedrooms, darkrooms, panic rooms, throne rooms, billiard rooms, bathrooms, cloakrooms, classrooms, lumber rooms, showrooms, laundry rooms. There is no record of what happens to the visitors after they have been shown to their rooms. And since no visitor is known to have left the Institution, we can only speculate about the nature of their experiences inside that slate grey labyrinth.

Drumpfulacrum


Citizens of Chimerica, for reasons which, since you removed your own cerebella, we can no longer access, you have elected a Cheesy Wotsit.

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A Cheesy Wotsit, moreover, which appears to be possessed by the demon Drumpfulacrum, long held to be one of the stupidest demons in Hell.

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A demon which, in the comedy clubs of Hell, occupies the position played by drummers in jokes about stupid musicians.

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As in, ‘Drumpfulacrum is so stupid he wasn’t thrown out of Heaven, he tripped.’ As in, ‘When he goes out to buy souls he comes back with haddock.’

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Last time Drumpfulacrum was loose he possessed a hot water bottle. Because he kept it constantly toasty, he wasn’t exorcised for 72 years.

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So far, other than swelling to eight feet high and filling the air with an odour of synthetic cheese malignity, the Wotsit has done nothing.

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However, murmurations of birds across this great land of ours have begun coughing *wanker* in unison before dropping from our great air.

Is it a Brie? is it a Parmesan? No, it’s Supermoon!


Obviously the Supermoon can fly – that’s why it’s in the sky, stupid – but did you know it has X-ray vision and can see your underpants?

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Apparently the Supermoon is allergic to the green green cheese of Krypton which destroyed Supermouse in that unfortunate incident.

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On the dark side of the Supermoon is a pants-shaped region known as the Sea of Pants. In its middle is a solitary telephone box.

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Also on the dark side is the Supermoon’s Fortress of Solitude, but, as it is a structure on its own surface, the SuperMoon is unable to enter.

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Many people ask why the Supermoon doesn’t end all crime on Earth 2 at once, preferably by crashing into us? These people don’t read comics.

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It’s like the way atheists ask why God doesn’t just end all human misery right now – they haven’t read comics either.

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By day the Supermoon poses as a mild cheddar in World of Cheese, the most important cheese shop on the planet. It’s the cheese wearing spectacles.

The poems

The poem exploded in a shopping centre. No one was hurt, except for an adolescent boy who looked into the white blast and went blind.

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He kissed her mouth, her neck, her breasts. She dug her nails into his back. A poem slid over them, pooled in their eyes.

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During their game, they broke the mirror hanging darkly in their parents’ bedroom. A poem hissed through the cracks, into their mouths.

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She wrote the last sentence of her novel, unaware that a poem was hidden in its tangled heart. The poem throbbed, awaiting the reader.

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The banners were red and black. The Bird King’s victory speech shattered all the poems. We collected shards and hid them in our dreams.

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You woke to see a poem hanging from the ceiling like a light fitting like a stalactite like a vampire like a noose like a carcass.

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We tried everything: disinfectant, weed killer, rat poison, bullets, napalm, nukes. But the poems, breeding like cockroaches, wouldn’t die.