This is from the third book, The Nine Amendments, in the Mining of Lif Trilogy.
(which we are going to be publishing sooner rather than later…I sincerely hope)
I was reminded of this particular scene while reading blogpal Argus’ latest offering about certain things eye-talion…here…
Incidentally, the title, and in fact the core of the book; the ‘flash’ that occurs inside a writer’s mind sending him or her scurrying to a word processor, or in days of Yore, pencil and paper, owes its very existence to a conversation between myself and a dear friend, who is always referred to in any sort of literary forum as Mrs. Aaargh – who has just become a mum,by the way, and will soon be introducing to the world at large, Miss Catherine.
Anyhow the conversation…
At one time, Mrs. Aaargh was attending a bible class, and me being fascinated by all such things, asked her how it was going one evening over dinner.
She expressed enthusiasm. Mindful of the warning looks from the Missus on the other side of the table I asked what she was currently studying?
“The Nine Amendments,” was her slightly flustered but nevertheless enthusiastic reply.
This, as you can imagine, was greeted with Stone Cold Silence from all. But as is dear, sweet Mrs. Aaargh’s unpretentious nature she recovered gallantly, laughed and said, “The…Ten (pause) Commandments.”
Only then were we able to laugh about it, and to this day it remains one of her ‘classics’.
So, for that, bless her, she got the dedication as acknowledgement that without her bible studies this book would unlikely have been written,
Here’s the extract…
‘The palace, like every Royal Residence before it here at Memfis, is built on an area known as the Land of Grace. It originally started life as a simple two-up, two-down affair with brick-outhouse. But over the millennia, it has become what it is now.’
An almighty pain-in-the-bum, thought the man hurrying along the wide, rose-quartz and marble passageway.
The tour-guide came out of her practised routine just long enough to feign a gasp. The heavy door at the end of the thoroughfare closed with a loud thunk as the man disappeared inside the chambers beyond.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. We are truly blessed this afternoon.’
The small group looked at her with expressions varying from mild curiosity to indifference.
‘That was the King. He’s in the building!’
Their response to this announcement was equally as animated.
‘Mummy, I need a pee. Mummeee!’
‘Where are the ducks? You said there were ducks. You promised.’
‘Scluze me? You makey plicture of wife an’ me? Yes? We stand here, an’ when you leady we say, Camembert, alrighty? You sketch vely klickly.’
‘I thought this was supposed to be one of the Wonders of the World? Doesn’t seem that wonderful to me,’ complained a man wearing a knotted handkerchief on his head.
‘We were offered a trip to the Hanging Gardens of Turkeystan,’ his wife reminded.
‘Pah! What would I want to go and pay good money to see them for? Port o’ Bill has its own hanging gardens behind the cathedral. I can visit them any time I like. And they give you peanuts.’
‘I don’t think it’s quite the same thing, dear,’ said his wife.
‘Well I thought the Learning Tower was more wonderful than this place, even though I didn’t learn much. Other than how not to build a tower.’
‘I’m sure it is called the Leaning Tower’ his wife said, fanning herself vigorously with a tour program.
‘Learning, Leaning. Who cares? I only went to see it because I thought that stupid woman at the tour agency said pizza. But they didn’t give us nowt to eat. Not that I could have stomached anything by the time I got to the top. Thought I was gonna throw up. I’ll bet this lot don’t even have cold beer, either.’
‘I thought you preferred warm beer, Reg?’
‘Y’can’t get warm beer here, Doris. This is forun. How many times must I tell you? Don’t you remember anything? I think this heat is making you doolally.’
King Toot at the Moon, the fairest one who is sun, stars and moon, the most powerful god of all gods who shall rule for eternity, or until *bitten in the ass, for ever and ever Amen Corner, sighed.
What a mouthful, he thought. What possessed his old man? Why didn’t he give me his name, like every royal male stretching back to gods know when?
Ramsy. One name. Straightforward. Thank you very much. Nothing you could make of a name like that. If you tried to shorten it, what did you get? Ram. Nothing wrong with that, either. Good strong name. Okay, so one of them went down in history as the ‘Old Goat,’ but so what? He was, wasn’t he? Anyway, they practiced animal-husbandry differently in those days.
Then he recalled that his name had been shortened. Unofficially.
Snatches of whispered conversation, overheard while shuffling aimlessly around the palace, had revealed he was now Toots the Fair O, or just plain Toots. But he had an inkling this was in reference to his penchant for sundowners which he had begun to overly-indulge in of late. But who could blame him? The economy was going to the dogs, crippled by the war. Rampant unemployment was spreading like a plague. Ten plagues, even, with some new industrial-action brought to his ‘Royal Attention’ almost every day. What was it this morning, he mused, taking a long sip of his drink. Regarding the half-empty glass, he tried to recall the name of the cocktail, his mind drifting down a different path. Oh, yes. Slow Comfortable Screw that was it. Considering how fast I’m getting through these things these days, perhaps it should be renamed, Wham Bam, Thank You Ma’am, he thought. Smiling ruefully, he downed the contents in one swallow.
‘Either one I haven’t had since I can’t remember when,’ he announced to no one in particular.
‘Beg pardon, Your Majesty?’ a patient voice enquired.
‘Ah, nothing, Horus. Just an old fool rambling.’
‘Another drink, sir?’ the butler suggested.
‘Excuse me, sir?’
‘The Night Soil Collective. That was the latest bunch that paraded in front of the palace this morning, waving all those placards.’
‘Ah, yes, sir. Striking for more pay. Difficult situation, sir. Not the most pleasant of occupations, Your Majesty.’
‘Pleasant, Horus? It’s a shit job.’
‘Quite, sir.’ Horus didn’t even smile.
‘They deserve more pay. I wouldn’t work for the wages they receive for hauling off all that…’
‘Crap, sir?’ Horus offered.
‘Indeed,’ the king agreed, slumping back in his chair.
‘I am sure that it will all sort itself out, sir. It usually does.’
The king sighed. ‘I hope you’re right, Horus. I really do. I’m going to turn in. Perhaps an early night will do me good?’
‘A good idea, sir,’ Horus agreed. ‘Tomorrow is likely to be a busy day.’
Toot at the Moon shuffled off to his bedroom. Horus trailed in his wake, picking up various items of clothing.
When he reached the bed Horus held out the king’s nightshirt.
‘Thanks,’ he said pulling it roughly over his head as he climbed under the sheets.
Horus arranged the mosquito net then waited. ‘Will there be anything else, tonight, Your Majesty?
The king appeared not to be listening. His eyes took on a glazed appearance. He remembered it all started with . . .
* Some translations say, bitten by the asp.
Copyright ©Douglas Pearce