The Barbecue

the next 4 weeks will see successive posts of micro stories set in Portrush, County Antrim; i lived there between 1983 & 1986 while impersonating a student at the University of Ulster. while i learned little of concrete value for my subsequent life, i had a real blast. these 4 stories are amalgamations of people, memories & my imagination; don’t sue me…. “The Barbecue” was published in “Lateral Moves” #23 in 1999….

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The Piss was always ill. Not in a hospital or confined to bed way, but in a constantly taking antibiotics sort of way. If it hadn’t been for Alexander Fleming, The Piss’s feet would have finished him off years ago. Apart from his tightness with money, embarrassing attempts at writing comedy sketches, incompetence on the bass guitar and wholly unreliable accounts of his childhood, his feet were the most unappealing thing about him. His toenails were like Brazil nuts; the skin at his heels flaked, cracked and oozed according to the weather. The smell was staggering. His doctor, who got to see him once a fortnight or so, kept prescribing varying kinds of ointment. They didn’t work. The Piss would have been better cutting his legs off. Some people volunteered to do this. He didn’t take them up on the offer.

He kept getting blocked sinuses or chest infections, coughing up his guts every time he lit a smoke.  The doctor gave him tablets for these ailments too. Probably just to get him out of the surgery. The Piss was also incontinent, hence the nickname. He spent a lot of time on his own, which was how he took to making up the little stories he’d bore you with. You could be in a bar or in a cafe, working on or working off a hangover and he’d spot you, taking the next seat, helping himself to your cigarettes and putting a damper on proceedings. After the coughing fit, the monologue would start.  Always the same shit: his dad was a landscape gardener turned Buddhist monk, who rejected him and his brother and handed them over to their uncle and grandfather who constantly raped and abused them until The Piss left home. His uncle had murdered his brother and was on the lookout for The Piss too. According to him, these events caused his health problems.

Once finished, he’d tap you for a beer or a tea, try borrowing money, then disappear.

The Piss shared a flat with his mate, known as The Gecko. He was mad, The Piss just irritating. They got a stray dog, from the shelter. It was alright, as far as dogs go. The Gecko seemed to have some reservations about it, as he reckoned dogs were the third corner of some sort of Satanic Trilogy that he never explained.

After a while, the dog died. It was a blessing really. They never fed, exercised or even gave it a cuddle. It had gone blind, cataracts, and walked in front of a bus. Killed instantly. Instead of burying it, or getting the council to come and collect it, they decided to cremate it. Everyone was in uproar. The animal’s carcass, lying in their back yard, was beginning to rot: flies and an odour were congregating outside the already rancid flat. They did the service themselves, without inviting anyone.

At dusk, they dragged the dog and a bag full of cans along the sand dunes, past the golf course and out to the far end of White Rocks beach. They built a bonfire, drank the cans, dropped acid, took off their clothes and ran around screaming. The Cops were alerted. Surveying the pathetic sight of two pissed, nude losers, tripping off thei.r faces, whilst the decomposing remains of a mongrel smouldered slightly on a miniature bonfire, they had no option but to lift them.

No charges were brought , although The Gecko sported a burst lip for a few days, courtesy of his behaviour in the cells. The Piss embroidered these events when out looking for money and drugs. Drawing hard on one of your fags, he’d allow the heaving, of his chest to subside before beginning with,

“You know when we held funeral for the dog .that time. Well I met the Devil and he’s not a bad bloke, wears a uniform. Likes barbecues as well.”

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