Gotye feat. Kimbra vs. Rihanna – We Found Somebody That I Used To Know mash-up…
“Is that Justin Time on the speakers?” I ask the darkness, glad that no-one can see me, while I continue to struggle with putting on the clean scrubs.
“In the Nine a.m. Lounge, he is known as D.J. Hammer Time,” Crispin confides, with a sigh. “I am sure that most of the hostilities between the Lounges would be quickly resolved, if he did not find it all so personally lucrative.”
“Let us imagine what sort of conversation Crispin Dry was having with Miss Hot-Limps, before they were so rudely interrupted!” the undercover disc jockey announces, over the tannoy. “‘Oh Crispin, does this shower cubicle make me look fat?’ ‘Hot-Limps, you have no fear of any degrading sexist judgements from me. I am only interested in your braiiinsss…’”
I turn quietly scarlet in the darkness of the air-raid shelter, while bawdy laughter from the field hospital staff follows Mr. Time’s squeaky impersonations.
“Sometimes he goes too far,” Crispin adds grimly.
“Sir, Mr. Dry, sir!” an abrupt voice joins us, and from its general direction, I guess the owner is standing to attention under the low steel roof. “Would you like to file an official complaint, sir!”
“Not really necessary, Corporal Punishment,” Crispin replies. “Sarah Bellummmm, this is my first cousin once removed – Corporal Abandon Punishment.”
“What an unusual name,” I venture, attempting to get an arm through a sleeve before any motion towards hand-shaking is made.
“Full name Abandon – Hope – All – Ye – Who – Enter – Here Punishment, Miss Bellum!” says the hitherto unseen relative. “Adopted by the Dry family in Malawi, Miss Bellum! Where they hope I will some day be President, Miss Bellum!”
“Corporal Punishment was an orphan, raised by a witch-doctor who unfortunately contracted fatal intestinal worms from eating roadkill sacrifice soup,” Crispin explains. “My cousin, Beneficience Vassally Dry, took little Abandon under her wing, and put him through the proper schools, church and… military service.”
“What do you hope to gain from your service here, Abandon?” I ask politely, feeling rather like a consort, being given a tour of the local people.
“Perhaps a nice clerical job, Miss Bellum!” says Corporal Punishment.
“Abandon is very keen on filing things, Miss Bellummmm,” Crispin says. “Complaints, stocktaking reports, daily menus, track requests for the radio station, death certificates… occasionally without checking the remains of the deceased first…”
“Sometimes they get up in the night and run away, Miss Bellum!” Corporal Punishment agrees.
“But you have other talents, don’t you, Corporal?” Crispin continues. “Enemy codes and transmissions, for example?”
“Just a hobby, Mr. Dry, sir!” announces the Corporal, modestly. “I would really like to work in a library one day, sir!”
Oohhh – I wonder if this workaholic jobsworthy imp is the contact Sandy was hinting about? Who would be able to make sense of Crispin’s father’s diary? I’ve most certainly never heard of a rescued Third World orphan discussing their librarian aspirations before… Usually, they want to be doctors, astronauts or lawyers – or sometimes pop stars, or supermodels.
Even future Presidents. Not gray little clerks whose job it is to point at a sign reading ‘Sshhhh!’ every ten minutes…
Before I can venture another enquiry to establish whether this is my contact, the siren sounds again, this time in reverse, winding down in tone and volume.
“It is the all-clear,” Crispin says, patting my knee in the darkness reassuringly. Thankfully, I’ve managed to get a trouser-leg on by this time. “We can head back to surgery and check on Homer and the others.”
The sunlight is dazzling back in the open air of the field hospital, and I can see a number of gunned-down, shattered Six a.m. Lounge rickshaws on the ground, their pilots hanging from trees, or in a few cases being dragging pleading and crying towards the tent marked ORGAN DONORS.
“What a pity,” Crispin notes sadly. “If Homer could have waited half an hour longer for surgery, he might have had transplants of the right gender available to him.”
“Um – what gender would that be, Crispin?” I query.
“Excellent point, Sarah Bellummm.” Crispin’s grim face relaxes a little, and he looks at me kindly. “Errr… You have your scrubs on back-to-front…”
“Never mind,” I reply swiftly, loathe to strip off and rearrange everything again so soon.
“Shall I serve Mr. Time with a formal complaint, Mr. Dry?!” Corporal Punishment’s eager voice joins in.
I turn to look at the ambitious adoptee of the Dry family, and gulp. As black as onyx – only a double-take confirms he is not made of such – with eyes as white as Mother-of-Pearl. A carved bone that suspiciously resembles a letter-opener is through his nasal septum, and human vertebrae are inserted into the expanded piercing holes in his earlobes.
He salutes at my visual assessment, doffing his camouflage peaked cap gallantly.
Crispin hesitates, and the tannoy crackles again.
“As usual, the Nine a.m. Lounge-Lizards pillage and plunder from every Lounger that passes through!” Justin, a.k.a. D.J. Hammer Time announces, from wherever he is concealing himself in the encampment. “On the Specials menu today, the officers will be eating rickshaw pilot liver, with some forearms, and a nice kidney. Followed by castrati of goat, if they can catch the bugger and stop it drinking all the medical alcohol. With any luck, after the interlopers have been battered to death, boiled alive, breaded and fried, there might be enough left for Crispin and Miss Hot-Limps to collect in a small carry-out bag, to resuscitate their friend currently lying dead in the Five a.m. Lounge – so long as she doesn’t mind waking up as a billy goat. Baa-aa-aahhh…”
“Yessss,” Crispin sighs. “Bring him to the General’s office. In one piece, Corporal Punishment.”
“Yes sir, Mr. Dry, sir!” Abandon Punishment barks, saluting stiffly, his glee skilfully under control – and then he turns and scampers away, crab-like, elbows and knees flapping like a voodoo cockerel.
“Perhaps I ought to go with him?” I volunteer, spotting an open window of opportunity for my investigation. “To make sure his interpretation of ‘one piece’ doesn’t mean ‘a piece of’?”
“Good idea,” Crispin nods, still in that asymmetric wonky fashion that so weakens my popliteal regions. “We will meet at the General’s office – in the silver static caravan.”
I waste no time, recover the power of my hamstrings, and hurry after the Corporal.
“Mr. Punishment – wait for me!”
I catch up only by the laws of physics and geography, as Corporal Punishment moves at great speed, but in a randomly zig-zagging fashion – meaning I merely need to travel in a straight line, hopefully of the right direction, that he will eventually bisect.
We collide fortuitously beside what could either be a gunner’s bunker, or a golf bunker…
“My apologies, Miss Bellum!” Corporal Punishment cries.
“Not at all, Punishment…” I pick myself up and spit out as much sand as I can. “I thought I would provide support if Justin – I mean, Mr. Hammer Time – offers up any resistance.”
Corporal Punishment looks me up and down several times, as if wondering where on my person I am storing the physical power and propensity for such services, then beams a toothsome grin at me regardless.
“I am very grateful, Miss Bellum!” he says graciously. “This way!”
I skip to keep up, although by his galloping route, we could be heading anywhere.
“I’m very impressed by your range of extra-curricular interests,” I announce, as we circle the flagpole twice.
“Thank you, Miss Bellum!”
“Are you familiar with hieroglyphs at all? Pictogram writing?”
And I almost cannon into his beanpole spine, as he stops dead, staring beatifically into space.
For a moment, I wonder if I’ve said some magic word that is pre-programmed to put him into a trance.
“The flow of images,” he breathes, for once, his voice now a reverent whisper. “The energy… the life in every line… and yet so refined – so elegantly restrained…”
“Oh…” This sounds positive!
But before my lips can form the start of another question, the radio tannoy seems to clear its electronic throat once more.
“And now we have some guests on our little field hospital radio show!” Justin squawks, evidently enjoying his freedom of speech from behind the safety of his microphone, in its unknown location. “I’d like you all to welcome Mr. Gaylord Lukan from Nigeria, and Mr. Carvery Slaughter from… from… Your Mother’s Back Porch, or so I’m told. Both of whom have some interesting experiences with organ donors that I’m sure they’d like to share – right after this next song. Ben E. King with Stand By Me. But please leave the lights on… a healthy man could wake up minus his wallet and watch, and you don’t know how hard it is to get a good ticker around here. Never mind how good it is to get hard…”
My mouth is now an ampersand of repulsion, instead of a query of hopefulness.
“He’s a shock jock!” I gasp.
“That is not the least of it, Miss Bellum!” Corporal Punishment concurs, with dubious grammatical accuracy. “We must hurry, before he gets carried away and announces a game of Musical Autopsy!”
“What?!” I demand, dashing haphazardly after him.
“Anyone not holding an organ when the music stops is out, Miss Bellum!”
Unlike Corporal Punishment’s sense of direction, I can see exactly where this is going…
Good Morning Vietnam trailer – Enjoy 🙂
More mindless mayhem: The Zombie Adventures of Sarah Bellum
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