Friday, 25 June 2010

Dinsdale the whale - part two

As the ‘part two’ suggests, this is a continuation of an experiment which started when I asked readers for ingredients for a blog. If you’re new here, it’ll make more sense if you start by looking at the blog before last, called A (probably very unwise) challenge. And, for ‘The story so far…’ check Dinsdale the whale – part one.

Dinsdale said she was different right from the start. He was contemplating a poem about horses so he’d been eating nothing but hay for a week and booked himself in for a penis extension. She’d heard him whinny as he waited for a bus and surprised him by identifying him as a piebald mustang which had probably been broken in by a member of the Sioux nation. Everyone else at the bus stop had told him to shut up and bugger off.

I only met her once myself. It was about two weeks after that at our local. When I went in I saw them at a table. She was rolling some leaves into a tight, purplish-green cylinder. The blade cut, sharp, snicking through, releasing an aroma of...
‘Bloody hell,’ said Dinsdale. ‘That smells like dog shit.’
She smiled and, in a low, breathy voice, said ‘No, my stallion. It has the aroma of pungent prairie, the fragrance of soft hidden yearnings’.
‘Ah, right,’ said Dinsdale.
He introduced us. Her name was Peggy Sioux.
‘Ah, Buddy Holly,’ I said.
‘No,’ she replied. ‘Bury my heart at Wounded Knee.’
But there was no aggression in her tone and pretty soon she was telling me, in that extraordinary voice, that Peggy Sioux was only her pretend name. Her parents had been well into their forties when she was born so they saw her as a gift from Manitou and named her Thing Called Love. It turned out to be an apt name because, when she was saving to come to the UK, she had to work and the only vacancies on the reservation were for croupiers or escorts. Escorts earned lots more and so the name Thing Called Love took on an extra resonance.

She’d lit the green cylinder and she and Dinsdale were passing it to one another, sucking in great lungfuls of the dung-flavoured smoke. They offered it to me but I could see the effect it was already having on them so I decided not to risk it. By the time we got back to his place they were well away. But, for Thing Called Love, it wasn’t enough. She went through to the kitchen and called back ‘Dinsdale darling, where did you put the microtome?’

‘By the Bran Flakes,’ he shouted and, almost at once, she reappeared with a lump of whitish meat, a cutting board, some assorted herbs and spices and a scalpel-like instrument. She put the meat, which I could now see was a brain, on the board and began slicing into it.

Dinsdale was clearly excited. Apparently, so he told me later, this was the ultimate high. Depending on what memories the brain’s previous owner had, eating it could take you into all sorts of unanticipated places. I watched as the microtome made a further pass through the brain tissue, barely a whisper as it took a paper-thin slice. She flicked it onto the cutting board and seasoned it with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a hint of garlic and a sprinkling of sage leaves. She then quadranted it, wrapped the seasoned side round a plump sea scallop, stood up, and beckoned us to follow her.

We went through to the kitchen where she turned on the gas. I heard Dinsdale suck in a quick breath.
‘Oh my God,’ he said. ‘Is this going to be …?’
He stopped. Thing Called Love smiled and nodded. I was lost. What was the question? Too many weird things were happening. My brain switched off. I felt foreign and longed for a return to simple phrases, things I could understand. Even some of Dinsdale’s crap poetry would do.

‘What’s happening?’ I said, pointing to the meat. ‘What is this, Thing Called Love?’
‘Sssshhhh,’ said Dinsdale. ‘She’s going to release the phlogiston.’

She stuck a fork into the parcel of meat and held it over the gas ring. The flames licked around it and danced over it, their colour changing as they consumed the fats and oils. Dinsdale, way out of it by now, was making the sort of noises teenage boys try to stifle as they leaf through old copies of Asian Babes in their bedrooms. Thing Called Love was in a sort of trance, too. She trailed her fingers through the flames rising from the meat, muttering ‘Phlogiston’ over and over again.
‘What’s phlogiston?’ I whispered to Dinsdale.
He simply pointed to the flames.
‘They are,’ he said.
‘But … but I thought it was only a hypothetical substance,’ I said. ‘I thought Lavoisier proved it didn’t exist.’
‘Banjaxed,’ said Dinsdale. ‘David Bowie, Guinness, Halley’s comet, eggs.’
They were both in another dimension, neither seeming to know I was there, both transfixed by the look and smell of the flaming brain with its inner scallop. It was when they began eating it that I left. They didn’t even notice. I could see that this woman was very dangerous indeed.

Dinsdale was still being a whale, making those stupid noises.
‘Ever hear anything of Peggy Sioux?’ I asked, trying to deflect his attention from being a tidal behemoth.
‘All the time,’ he said.
‘What d’you mean?’ I said.
He tapped his head.
‘Here,’ he said. ‘I’m with her. She’s with me. Always. Forever.’
‘Bloody romantics,’ I said.
‘No. I mean literally,’ he said. ‘She needed a bit of my brain. I said that was OK. I got the surgeon to take a slice off while I was under anaesthetic for the penis extension. So now, I never see her, but we do it all the time. We’re insatiable, both of us.’
‘What d’you mean?’ I said.
‘Easy,’ he said. ‘I know when she’s eating my brain. I feel it. I know she feels it, too. Even as all trace of sentience spins hopelessly into chaotic darkness I sense her pearly teeth crushing my neurones by their millions, feel her hot impetuous breath which used to caress my skin so softly - when I had a skin - and the thought sparkles into renascent consciousness: by this means I penetrate her very being, leaving her in rapturous melodic spasms that will sweep, soft, sensually over her carapace, a metronome of desire and despair. All sensation a pulsating prelude to a pregnancy test.’
I’d had enough.
‘Dins,’ I said. ‘You’ve always talked shite, but this is more excremental than I’ve got words for.’
I pushed him overboard. That was the last time I ever tried writing on Tantilly.


  1. Breathtaking, literally. :-)

  2. Whew! I learned many things from that discourse. But one stands out. You, Bill, can take pure idiotic babbling and spin a tale. Amazing.

  3. Thanks both. And Marley, idiotic babbling is my trade mark.

  4. Peggy Sioux. *hysterical gigglefit* As a former South Dakota resident, I salute you. That killed me.

  5. Thanks Kari Lynn - it still can't compete with your rodeos, horses and razor wire, though.

  6. I ditto the appreciation for Peggy Sioux.

    A sense of humor is a beautiful thing...

  7. Thanks Linda. I must say I agree with you re. a sense of humour. Life must be awful for those who don't have one.

  8. Would have commented sooner but I've had some trouble getting these dang feathers outa my long braid.

    Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

  9. Considering its springboard was some of your own luscious prose, I take that as a great compliment Diane. Thanks.

    And don't worry about the feathers, they look just like fascinators so you'll fit right in.