THEN: Were it not for the fact the sun singed peasant girl had gifted him that wretched Mozarab chess set, taught him the rules and then left him to his own devices it is likely his sanity may have remained intact. Sometimes the kindest acts miscarry – perhaps equitably so when the gift emanates from the delightful daughter of an evil nutter you have murdered!

It had been ten years or thereabouts since the gruesome fatted gaoler had for an inexplicable reason delivered up to him, the prisoner in the tower the now redundant iron torture chair. He remembers the event as if it were yesterday.

“It’ll serve you well, and as I always say an iron chair without red hot coals all aglow beneath it burning the arse of some poor bleating bastard is just a simple chair by any other name. Besides all you’ve got to your name…well OK you don’t officially own them as such…is that straw mattress and your piss bucket.”

“How come you don’t need it anymore?”

“Got a new bespoke torture chamber down in the dungeon…kitted out like I don’t know what…you name it we’ve got it…Iron Maiden, Rack, the Judas chair, the lot.”

To this ‘one day to be executed, right now a lifer’ in solitary even a chair of dubious history became his cathedra…the envy of the ghosts and lice.

His crime? Attempting to prove that unless you know ‘evil’ it is impossible to know ‘good’. His hands-on philosophical experiment in this regard had backfired somewhat when a body was found in the Tiber. Albeit under thumb screw duress he freely admitted a guilt he would have freely admitted regardless! Still that was a long time ago – even to one who had almost lost track of time.

NOW: This day we find, sat airily and cross-legged within his precious iron chair, the long since unshaven, not recently hosed down prisoner waiting for a rare guest to arrive. He hears the commotion heralding her arrival first. The guards’ crude unruly laughter, a sexual jibe or two as she runs the gauntlet, makes her way up the spiral staircase and along the slate floored corridor to his fusty cell. Those ruffians even call her Miss Clever Clogs yet he is unable to fathom whether or not this is compliment or insult.

“I mean it’s been how long? Seven, eight summers passed…maybe longer…wow how time runs away. Anyway how’s the chess coming along?”

“I don’t know if I’m a winner or a loser…it’s doing my brain in. You should have warned me about the mind game tricks of solo chess.”

“Sorry about that…do you still play though?”

“Addicted I’m afraid…riddled with dilemma’s born of chess…it’s all had a perplexing effect on me. Take today for example…your impending visit…because of the polarities of the end game I cannot decide on an appropriate persona…should I be victor or vanquished; decent or indecent; proper or unseemly…choices, so many choices.”

In idle chat the girl tells him of the goings on in the outside world…the worst harvest ever, the night the citadel burnt down, a rout here, a pillage there, the Black Death, even her seven new tabby kittens, then asks, “Out of all the choices buzzing around in your head which self in your heart of hearts suits you best do you think?”

“A kiss…I want to be a thin air kiss…both chaste and salacious all at the same time…here one minute, gone the next. A kiss is the mayfly of love I think.”

“You really are the oddest man you know…plainly your wish is beyond mortal gift…whatever I have something for you…the thing you wrote of in that message you had had smuggled out yonks ago.”

“No it cannot be…surely not…not…the wool stuffed cushion for my iron chair?”

With that, and from under her flowing robes she produces said cushion and hands him it. Her parting shot as she leaves? “I think I’ll call you the ‘King of Subjectivity’…mind the guards don’t spot it though!”


24 thoughts on “THE ENVY OF GHOSTS & LICE

  1. Weren’t you once imprisoned for some philosophical experiment gone wrong? Well, I seem to remember you in some sort of nut house…In any case, great work although I was a bit disappointed when you got to the whole part about Iron Maiden, which I thought would certainly be followed by Judas Priest wherein the blog would take an entirely different turn.

    1. Metallica fan myself. True enough I was imprisoned back in 1898 for hypnotizing the then Pope so that he address his followers in St Marks Square with the words, ‘Condoms are rather cool things I think’…that’s when The Latter Day Inquisition lot banged me up.

  2. solo chess is one of the maddest ideas I’ve ever heard of, although I have seen people trying to do it. It makes trying to outfox your opponent rely on super natural levels of absent-mindedness. Come to think of it, I might be rather good at one man chess !

    1. I once knew (from a pub I used years ago) an alcoholic nutter – ex Hells Angel – who took it upon himself to defend himself in Court (GBH the crime). The Judge had contempt of Court added to the other within the first half hour of the trial as ‘nutter’ insisted he leave the dock and stand with the barrister when cross examining himself and such like, then making his way back to the dock to answer…bit like the Tommy Cooper hat thing. I recall it made the press at the time. Not quite like solo chess but close.

  3. I love the idea of the prisoner trying to decide which of the two players living inside of him is going to do the talking. It seems like one “hands on” philosophical experiment has led to another. Which of the two players is the real him?

      1. Fascinating question. Is what goes on inside the head better than the events taking place in the world at large? Or is ‘better’ an inadequate word within the question…that’s me bolloxed I think

    1. Cheers…tooth troubles you say…not only that I have blown up my trusty laptop comprehensively and advised beyond repair (told also that ‘beyond repair/recovery’ is almost impossible). Thankfully it wasn’t my new desktop…even so years of photos gone in a wink. Not my week really…still walking about with two heads.

      1. You are kidding. Nothing on the hard drive???? Hell, that is f-not so good. I had a hell of a prob where our PC got totally messed up with an update but they managed to get the stuff. Worth a second opinion?

      2. My son tells me the hard drive – whatever that is – needs taking out and ‘run’ into my main PC. With 14,000 pieces of music recorded from CD into ITunes, plus the family snaps I’m a tad pissed off. Memories and music in peril…mind that could be a line in a poem. My face hurts…told Shirley child birth is nothing compared to this! She even called me a twat…again!

      3. You poor soul. She plainly doesn’t understand you. Sorry couldn’t resist. Now listener the hard drive. It can be. They are like organs that way. Haul em out the corpse and transplant. Our PC broke horrendously broke and we got a new hard drive put in but the guy was able to get everything from the old one. The odl pc broke again and we got a new one and he just moved it all over. Like that Mike I was sweating it. I had two manuscripts which I had backed up on the pc but on elsewhere, so it was a nightmare. But my understanding is all the stuff is there, You just need to get it moved over.

      4. Thank you so much…the young handy man chap who is working here weeks days is a PC wizard so I’ll get him on the case…the thought of refilling the IPod and also losing all those family photos is horrible…at least George my son had the sense to put my book (can hardly call it a book) of poems in a ‘cloud’…I did ask him what happens to the poems when the sky is clear and he looked at me all odd, shook his head and walked off!

    2. the sky is blue
      and so are you
      but they ain’t gone
      to once upon
      Noo you get the next line..seriously Mile they are there and the whizz kid will get em and not charge that much either x

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