Arthur Broomfield – The case of two handbags

P Arthur Broomfield LE P&W Vol 1 2019

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Short story by Arthur Broomfield

Dr Arthur Broomfield is a poet, short story writer and Beckett scholar from County Laois, Ireland. Influenced by the English Surrealist writer and poet, Hilda Sheehan, and the works of Andre Breton, he turned to surrealism in 2017. The online journal Diaphanous [3.7] carries an interview between him and editor Krysia Jopek where Broomfield discusses his poetics and his turn to Surrealism . He was awarded his Ph.D in English literature by Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick in 2008.

It dawned on Ark Angle Gabriel Rubberboots at that precise moment, or the moment that followed it or perhaps the one that preceded it. His servant, Devilish Compound, had been loading compost into the boot of his 1956 Rolls Royce.

‘Hand me out some newspaper, like an indecent chap’ crooned Devilish, to the air of ‘Four green Fields’.

Ark Angle was in the process of gathering from the plentiful supply of ‘Daily Sports’ that insulated the Rolls’ interior from the ravages of summer sun and winter nightingales when a thought struck him, rather like a rancid onion landing on a lemon cheesecake.

‘And what might you be wanting with precious extracts from the Bodleian library, my dear man?’

‘I want to make sure no residual content from the compost, especially that tainted by fermented or otherwise putrescent, dry or otherwise matter becomes dispersed among the food and clothing washed , laundered or falling into categories as yet unspecified, that may cause injury to themselves, or in a possibility, rare alas, but worthy of consideration, to said food and garments’.

‘That’s it, that’s it you scoundrel. You apricot and mangold stew, you of all the beings to contaminate heaven, and the waters under the earth, you have opened the gates of the cattle crush, you’ve released Beellze the bull into the pastures of mushrooms and dandelions!’

‘I, in all modesty, acknowledge complicity in this happy outcome but only if my partner, the puce moon, can share credit with me.’

‘Return my copies of the ‘Daily Sport’ untarnished, forthwith and ensure that copious quantities of odious compost enhance the contents of the boot, organic and otherwise, with the expressed purpose of enriching the odour that emanates therefrom’.

‘My lord doth speak in divers tongues, he weareth thistledown in his lapel and shites in his soup. What might be the Aristotelian reasoning for such a penalty shootout? ‘

Unknown to Devilish, in what will go down as the worst kept secret since the robbery of gold rings from the elder MacEdlems  corpse at the bewitching hour in Ballylakies Church of Ireland cemetery, by a church sexton, anonymous and the chairman of a town commission, anonymous, Ark Angle  had been  in Geyser,  Arctic, Baltic and Killeshin Hotel sauna  pursuit of the celebrated [ by the 1965 county junior hurling champions ] purloined cucumber cream pie.

‘The pie, you visitator, the pie! I’ll catch the pie!’

‘You may catch a cold, or even a crab, or catch hold, but a pie, if I may bore you with the cliché, can be, if not in the sky, in the eye of the elephant ‘.

‘Desist from your tower of Timahoe babbling. We must move, as a victim of the  most loathsome form of diarrhoea to afflict the human species would move through a crowded shopping mall, before Satanic Sam, who may even now be in lustful pursuit of  our beloved pie, driven, as we know him to be, by the power of a 2.5 litre ride on mower hacking the heather on Rossleighan bog to pulp and eternity.’

Develish knew all that was needed to be known from many previous theses delivered on the subject through the lens of the apple green pupil in Ark Angle’s eye. He had endured many a late night’s misery of home and away performances, dancing at the crossroads to the sweet music of the fiddler of Dooney in the fields of Athenry and the lark ascending in this and sundry places.  So much so that Satanic, at times, appeared to him over his breakfast of burnt toast, cabbage stalks and mug of calves gruel, as the word made foul of the maggot infested genre. Ark Angle had described him as a repulsive, God like creature, who had wormed his way through mendacity and fornication to the pythonic position on the board of governesses of The Times in Ireland as we Pronounce Them to be. Develish had learned to lighten the tedium of the discourse with questions related to Satanic’s character like ‘and has he a tattooed map of Ballyroan on his eyebrow’ or ‘does he sing hymns off the encrusted sheets of his four poster’?

‘For the sake of all the chaste reprobates that cohabitate in the foothills of Saint David’s quarry and all the anointed pigsties of the Kremlin, what has this got to do with the real or alleged baseball cap or the cape he wears that trips him up when he’s lighting the pipe that’s as crooked as his conscience?’

‘Don’t be losing your snotrag with me, my revered lord and master in whom the Ark of the convent may reside… So, he’s a private Dick is he, I had been of the impression that he spends his nights catching moonbeams in jam jars and dancing with the saints of the Black Sepulchre?’

Ark Angle, bored by these few general comments – they were too suggestive of common sense for his liking – lapsed into an exciting explanation of Satanic’s suspected interest in the cucumber pie. ‘It’s a dark secret, so you must tell it to everyone you meet,’ he cautioned Develish.

‘I’ll put it on The Times in Ireland as we Pronounce Them to be, my Lord, no one will read it there.’

Satanic Sam sat hunched on his crimson and gold milking stool. The walls of the crypt beneath Adams and Co’s textile and computer services –  ‘for the good of  miserable mankind’  – that was his  lodgings,  oozed letters and numbers undecipherable to all but Sam. ‘ Come here you creep’ he summoned his trusty aid, Father Followmeuptocarlow, the recently unfrocked priest of the eleventh day and night church of the circumcised dishwasher, in his gushy, overindulgent  tones.

‘Coming honey, c o o m i n g… I hope this won’t be productive.’

Satanic stared at a row of seven carved marble representations of the dark side of the moon.

‘Do you see what’s on that wall, Einstein,’ he asked, his eyes transfixed on the carvings?

‘Well, it’s not all that funny, honey? ‘

Satanic twisted his crushed mustard baseball cap round his head, took it off and absentmindedly perused the embroidered blue inscription ‘Love Satan make hate great’ that adorned it.

‘Those letters and numbers are the lock and locksmith to our future. They spell, if not world domination, vulgarisation of the black and white minstrel choir. But before we can achieve that mood of moon in June we must first find and catch the notorious cucumber cream pie. We will then place it in general proximity to these symbols [Satanic nodded towards the engraved moons] of goodness and retire from the scene for precisely two and a half days or so.’

Satanic glared lovingly towards Followme.

Followme nodded as he murmured the words that have now become an indispensable part of everyday speech;

‘It will unravel the Aran jumper and put spurs on our bicycle wheels. After that I don’t have a clue.’

Ark Angle’s face was knitted in an Aran jumper, his teeth ground like the badly lubricated workings of a Lidl or Aldi watch. He kicked the bag of fairy toadstools Develish had collected by the light of a Tilley lantern the previous, or some other night, across the vast expanse of space that separated him from the fathomless abyss over which, right now, Develish was sharpening his seven-blade penknife.

‘With what overwhelming concept is my Lord locked in conflict, may I be so thoughtless to ask?’  Develish yelled across the dark and sinister divide.

‘Thoughtless, you confounded fool.! If only such a profound disposition were to afflict the cerebral region of your ponderous cranium.’

‘Indeed. I lack the will to be sordid, my overloaded Noah’s Ark. Pray what floating debris may we expect to hurtle our way in the coming years?’

‘You malignant verruca on the face of venereal reason, if only it were within my powers to visit the Bubonic plague on your thatched and merciless keep…I am cursed… my rat-infested gene pool is contaminated by your senseless waterfalls.’

‘Your erudition causes many leaks in my hull, my Lord Noah. Shall we proceed in silence?’

‘We will proceed through diligent attention to your instructions, my devilish Develish, until we apprehend the cucumber pie, lost in deliberations in space as yet undefined, or not’.

It had yet again dawned on Ark Angle that his faithless servant had uncovered a menacing protocol that would not only finance the apprehension of the eminent pie but would continue to provide it with safe lodgings. Nothing to be done until the pie is spotted on its trajectory in a north – south direction. Why a north – south, surely an east – west, or an up down could be as likely, or even a down up, both of them argued among themselves, agreeing it would be north – south because they had said so. They had not to wait long, three or four hundred years, or was it minutes, to experience the realisation of their hallucinations. But as in all dramatic conflicts their supposed inalienable right to a seat at the Olympic games would be contested by a foe of equal honesty, Satanic Sam and his diabolically reconstructed Igor, Followmeuptocarlow. They too lay on their memory foam mattresses, they too pondered the   route of the terrestrial pie and its inevitable destination – the perfume counter in Brown Thomas – if it were not found wanting asap.

And so, the minutes ticked by, minute by minute by more minutes. Tension mounted on piebald ponies in both camps, sweat poured from the rivals open sewers. Bells and whistles created background music of indescribable beauty.

‘There it goes’ the roar of triumph rose simultaneously from both camps as the ball crashed into the back of the Railway end goal.

‘It’s heading for the Church of the Confused Chicken screamed Develish. What will we do, what will we do?’

It’s heading for the Church of the Confused Chicken screamed Followme. What will we do, what will we do?’

‘Let it go fuck itself,’ Ark Angle yawned.

‘Let it go fuck itself,’ Satanic Sam yawned.

© Arthur Broomfield