Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Day 13. Hanseatic Daze
As told by the nameless, homeless coma patient, waking up years before he was born.
My eyes shoot open to a coffee-coloured ceiling.
What is this? Something smells like diarrhoea.
Around me are scattered obscene torture devices; poles, magnifiers, banners, clamps.
What year is this? The sounds of yodelling drift in through the wooden window.
My dozy eyes begin to focus, and I cast my pooling gaze round an archaic settee;
Blinds of twine, sheets of bramble, a whole gallery of hocus-pocus medicines and a glass jar of leeches blocking the door as a choc.
Is this still Lithuania?
In stiff exertion, I rip the IV from my arm, the catheter from my arse.
Leeches gather, sucking squeakily on the edge of the jar closest to me like tiny tadpoles.
They are watching.
Turning myself off my side, my body creaks like the opening of an ancient sarcophagus. How long was I lying here? Crumbly, off-smelling bandage around my forehead, I lurch like a mummy over to the window frame, and lunge my head outside.
Either I’m in a sanatorium for severe delusions, or I’ve awoken in a different dimension.
Skinny cattle wander by unsupervised, sun shooting between their legs like the flickers of an old movie projector. Bovine belches and permeating odours suffocate the scenery, but I can’t shut my foggy eyes. Beyond the farm animals, turrets of smoke cough their way into the air, the chaos caused by smouldering barbeques. Around these fry-ups dance a collective chimera of weirdos; battalions hiding beer-bellies in suits of armour, slaves screaming from metal stocks, pelt salesmen happily bargain hunting with the whores, jolly jesters pestering a priest.
Judging by the clothing, the headgear, the gastrointestinal drifts in the air; I’ve woken up in either the Middle Ages, World War Six, or some breed of costumed fair.
The afternoon’s shadow is stretching its way out along the cobblestones; I lean out to try and decipher the situation more fully lit, then flip! My wonky hospital bedded body flops through the frame, and plonks me out on to a scabby patch of grass between the mud and the daisies outside.
I pick up my bones and assess this new world;
The plucking of lutes, boiling pans of goose meat, coquettish damsels coveted by cocky princes, potatoes sizzling to the side, and a town drunkard yells dirty proclamations.
Some kind of village festival is turning these peasants into crazed rabble!
Arms were uplifted, clutching torches, pitchforks and digital cameras (?). The crowd were circulating around a hubbub I could only hear, but not see a wink of...
Clashes of metal on metal.
The wild cries of hogs in pain.
Squeals from the bowels of bagpipes.
Fearful bellowing in Lithuanian language.
“Maybe the euros collapsed their economy,” I thought logically, “Maybe it’s not what it seems…”
I climbed a background mound, forehead throbbing behind disintegrating bandages, to gain a proper vantage point.
“ENCHANTMENT!” I yelled it, willing the cease of my hallucinations, these unstoppable scenes before me. “NECROMANTICS!”
Not a soul from the crowd turned to look at this wacko on the hill. The vision for them, two knights in full armour, clanking it out against one another, silver sumos with swords, facing off and spraying out sand, as a jester ran amok, spitting limericks, was apparently more than enough.
Members of the rabble, hob-nosed and pecan-eared, swore unfathomable curses for the destruction of whichever valorous hero their bets were lodged against.
In a 2:1 clean sprawl, it was a clear gambit; I had to escape.
But to where?
I snuck through a sewer pipe, nostalgically reminding me of long nights in London, until grimy and slime-covered, like mornings in London, I burst unto the daylight, which streamed over the city walls as if from a waterfall of liquid quartz.
In stealth, I hurried up a makeshift path, perplexed at where to turn.
A clip-clop of horses trotted toward me, yet unseen. I slipped down a side street, the vibraphone thump of my heart nearly giving it all away.
The gutters skirting my fateful alley held me tight within them, bouncing me along like a ball in bumper bowling.
Upon the fortress wall, a giant mosaic of Medusa, or a hippogriff, or some medieval monster, face twisted in a gruesome growl, startled me to my knees.
Donk- They hit against the cobbles, ricocheting, crick-crack, like a couple of eggs, so long had they been strapped and dormant in the hospital bed.
A pained yelp burst from my guts, betraying me.
Movement sounded from both directions; I had been caught out.
The feathered codpiece of a guard appeared at one end of the alley- and as I span to run toward the river the other way, a platoon of the rat-mothers blocked me off.
I was done for.
Suddenly, I caught her reflection in Medusa’s glare;
A bountiful maiden, combing her silken hair, perched atop her second story balcony. She beckoned me to her sultry side.
Her locks of brunette unfurled, cascading down into my awaiting claws- and as the flurry of primped-up mercenaries prepared to maul me, I scrambled up the locks like a nimble squirrel, up up to her scalp upon the balcony.
Puffing gritty lungs out to the maiden, I raised my shaky digits to thank her-
And her face turned the texture of a scouring pad- she HISSSSSED; her eyes redder than the pisspots of Mars. As I felt and looked for the silken locks between my fingers, I cried;
Cobras were stretching out around my broken body, coiling into my soiled pants and parts. In a flop and a flash I dived from the balcony, into the army of the awaiting guards.
They carried me like a corpse between their codpieces, back to the festivities; and this time, I was the central show-piece; with my neck locked into gallows.
An executioner bit down on a two-by-four, splitting the plank into a shower of splinters.
I was sweating out meatballs.
He drew closer, raising his glinting axe blade to the grimy sky; it flew toward me.
I slammed my eyes shut and dreamed of the pretty maiden, before the snakes, and of all the pretty maidens back on planet earth…
In movie special effects, the sluicing, juicing splitting sound, the quick click of a paper cut, of a dropped melon, of a burst balloon, is what would have been heard.
My head rolled out into the basket positioned underneath.
The crowd erupted into glee, their hungry teeth gnashing in yellow unison, as my basket was carried away.
The bandages had slipped off me now, exposing the ditches in my forehead.
Maybe it explains it all…
Then, in a blur of colour, I could feel my basket tipped; I was tumbling, rolling headfirst, and headonly, down the rivulets of a corrugated rooftop, along with another couple of curious decapitants (Swedes, I figured), until the three skulls plopped into the compost of an animal trough.
The executioner craned his neck and exposed his malformed tonsils, cackling up to the great new moon.
He pulled back his leg, and in one final insult he kicked me like a porcupine.
I flew up through the air until finally smacking down into a pile of pig-shit.
From here I could watch what would surely be my last;
A pair of muddy piglets, racing toward me, fear in their beady eyes- as a couple of gigantic (human) beasts chased them to the pen where my head lay, waiting to be devoured.
Closer, closer they tore, until they were feasting upon my scalp, tearing it to pieces with their tiny piglet teeth, chomping and gouging and ouching every centimetre of what was left of the already banged up head… and a curtain came over my vision, ‘that’s all folks’, and off I beggared, descended into a dreamless sleeping infinity.
As morning rose once more, I grappled for my neck. Still connected? Yes, just! Margarita and the Swedes (of who we will hear more later.) were looking sheepish, straggling and conversing in the hostel reception.
“Did you see those pig races yesterday?” I cracked into peals of laughter, nearly splintering my jaw like the executioners two-by-four, “Damn near thought we’d travelled back in time.”