6000 times 1



Alexander Prophet

Above the tram-stop near the Chestnut Court Hotel the curtains in a certain flat are drawn. Microscopic movement! Peeper at the creases. I know he’s there, with the binoculars pressed against his tireless eyes, inspecting the nymphs of the day, discretely searching for ‘artistic content’ for the morrow; Tommy 6000. Legend. Photographer. Master of Projects. Weaver of delicious tales and celluloid delights. Distinguished gentleman. Big heart beyond reproach, filled with generosity and genius. Exploding. Supernova.

The supernova’s light. Late fifties. Battered. Subdued by alcohol. A gibbering monster after a few measures of the spirit. Lusty. Reprehensible. Hyde. Spy the dark thing lurking in the man, and love him still, for he has no equal.

Stroll across the street here. Apply the secret buzz-code. Two. One. Wait. Two. Debt. Collectors hiding in the cracks. Double-knotted ties and pleated pants will impound your balls for auction if you leave them in plain sight. Tommy hides his behind the moon, rocket booster range, far away from those evil men.

Raspy voice pouring through the intercom, living proof that Sour Mash and Single Malt can co-exist. 

Come on up you schemer.” Grating noise. Long buzz. Up the peeling dingy stairs. Smelly. Suspicious face with scraggy white beard peeks out the door with binoculars hanging off the neck. Hustling me in, and the locks sliding quickly into place again. Scraggy-faced man smiling proudly, happily. There’s love in those eyes.

Alex Ferry!” Squeezes me firmly around the shoulder, a kiss on the cheek. Fumes, 12-40% volume, riding wind through smiling dentures.

What a nice surprise. Come, my friend. Come. I made tea.” Moving slowly, heavy body lumbering with great effort over a beautiful, stained carpet to a director’s chair near the window. Pointing, to a flowered armchair covered in used clothing. Alex Ferry lifting the heap towards the sleeping-room where another two piles face off at opposite ends of a mattress on the floor. Gift boxes ceiling-high filling the room, and the things to go inside, all manner of things, exquisite to bizarre, priceless, sentimental, useless; the building blocks for The T6000 Gift Installation, an emotional, truly unforgettable experience for the chosen recipient.

Tommy 6000 reaching in the top shelf of a cabinet for porcelain, finding, but his free hand not finished. Past the middle shelf filled with wine to the host of whisky miniatures on the bottom, taking several, and out of breath, sitting down. Gasping.

Alex removing a plate of pizza crusts from the small, cluttered table, places it on top of the cabinet, and Tommy resting teacup on saucer where it once sat.

Ferry yet unspoken, observing while the maestro pours and offers honey from a bottle almost at an end, and quite amused to see him lean back satisfied to tug on a paper bin  with no paper inside, only books made of glass with the liquid pages gutted by the unquenchable glutton reader opposite. Thud.

Obselete and working equipment, knick knacks and sheets of paper scribbled with ideas strewn everywhere. And in the chaos Tommy mumbling on about some new idea for Tommy TV, in which Alex gets to be the anchor with two Swedish models, an idea that will undoubtedly require a small sum already being calculated in Alex’s head, while being prodded to lift his cup by the confident man scratching the furry balls of curly white hair covering his his chest and stomach, visible, thanks to an opened, completely unbuttoned shirt. Thinking numbers. Seeing the mess. Afraid. Of! Bacteria. Fuck me.

Sipping the lukewarm liquid with caution, pleased at the taste, bewildered at the stage on which it must perform.

‘Tommy! Look at the state of this place. My God man. What the fuck is wrong with you? How can you live like this?’ Ferry shaking his head in dismay, knowing what’s coming next, a story about a lady, who turns out to be Ferry, or the next person to visit. Reprimand is part of the routine, a bolt on the wheel of dignity for a friend floundering under the increasing frailties of age and other ailments of more ghastly disposition.

‘Ah, don’t worry about it Alex. The lady is coming later.’ Reaching for another of the miniatures, spiking his tea. Alex objecting. Overruled by a wagging finger. Party on! Indeed. And the rampant cancer in his stomach does just that, burning down the house, a sadistic anarchist with a suicide vest and ambition. The silver maned, silver bearded man cares not, resigned, and determined, to enjoy what remains, certain that there is no God, thus, no miracles.

‘Sobriety makes me aware of the pain; not good’ he says, as another Lilliputian Scotch is drained from existence. Wise eyes bulging with philosophic clarity, index finger hanging in the air. ‘Alcohol allows us all, me and the malignant fuckers down under, to enjoy life, and embrace death, on equal terms.’ He offers to spike my tea, and this time, there is no objection, just a smile, and the clink of porcelain.

 copyright2013A.N Herbert.

Not to be reproduced in any form without the the author’s consent.

3 Responses to “6000 times 1”
  1. penegrinshaw says:

    Great writing style – short, sharp and punchy, like a midget Thai kick boxer getting creative. Amazing image at the top of this and vivid bits n bobs woven throughout. Love! Love! Love!

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