Brooks ended & Frankie returns from the mists

Elvis Presley

I should probably explain to a lot of people who have stumbled into Shitsville accidentally drunk or simply stupefied by the insane rants of the illiterate on Twitter that although it seems I skip from one thing to the next it will all come together in the end. If you were wondering whatever happened to my old Shitsville aunts and to Carl Brooks who wanted to take their house then I will tell you now. Apparently I am in a generous and expansive mood.

After we left the court Brooks and I (in my sling backs and polka dot dress remember) drove through the atmospheric rain while the surface of the road was a mirror of the platinum sky; the puddles made the crab grass lawns look like they were dissolving. Brooks had for weeks beforehand been stuffing the corners of the aunt’s house with high explosives and now standing before it in his appalling suit he lit a cigar with a book of matches and smoked it with long post-coital-like exhalations. Unfortunately in his self-satisfied reverie he failed to shake out his match sufficiently and returned the used match to the box, and thence to his pocket. Lying side by side the matches smouldered like Lesbians with a secret passion. Finally the entire box was aflame and ignited the last stick of dynamite that he had also absent-mindedly stowed in his breast pocket, thinking it was a cigar.

While my aunts and I watched the house went up in a puff like a mushroom cloud and so did Carl Brooks; eloquently fizzing he shot up into the clouds and left a diminishing line of smoke and the rank smell of burnt hair. Meanwhile his suit remained standing where he had been, perfectly intact but empty, proving that it was, in fact, indestructible, like he’d said.

Beatles and Elvis

I have had to wait some months before posting this because there had to be an inquest.  In the end dear cousin Frankie Shitsville returned from the mists, patting his suit pockets to find a handkerchief and claiming to have overslept because the alarm on his mobile had been set to 7pm rather than am. But I bare him no grudge, he is my cousin, after all; if ever in the long, cold, dark nights, high up in the hills on Shitsville Ranch, I begin to feel that he let me and the aunts down, it helps if I think of him as a kind of handsome simpleton. In the days since I shot my cousin Roger I have mellowed quite a bit.

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Pepto pink & the Shitsville aesthetic

Recently Cadbury have patented a new slogan which is “Welcome to Joyville.” Joyville apparently is the Disneyfied version of Shitsville. Everything there is absolutely wonderful. Oh gosh, yes. Let me tell you, that is true. It is a never-ending holiday.  In Joyville the sun never sets. The roses bloom in unison.  Water tastes like cocktails but nobody ever gets drunk. Fantastic!

Shitsville on the other hand is the last place on earth that anyone wants to be. This makes it the perfect place for people such as  I who detest human company.  I have decorated the whole town to my very individual tastes, namely in shades of Barbie pink and aqua-mint green. There is no colour more beautiful or disgusting than pink; it is the colour of the womb, flushed lips, spring flowers, raw meat, spliced birds that have been massacred by gorgeous fluffy cats, albino’s eyes, broken veins scattered across alcoholic noses and Pepto-Bismol, which one takes for upset stomachs. Coating the interior of one’s home in pepto pink may indeed have the same soothing, gas retarding properties as the original medicine, where soda and alkalizers would not work. Likewise aqua-mint has pleasing connotations of dental clinics and chewing gum; I’m not sure if the colour actually exists in nature or if it’s some miracle synthetic concoction like Benzedrine for which we must thank the Modern Age. In any case it sets off the stonework and wood panelling in Shitsville Ranch wonderfully.


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Archie Shitsville calls while still slightly sober

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When Brooks indicated that he intended to continue our conversation in the privacy of the taxi the unexpected hero of the hour turned out to be my unfortunate papa, Archie Shitsville, calling long distance from Las Vegas. He’d gambled away his last dime for the one hundredth time & refused to believe he’d ever been card-sharked, but his annual check from the government had saved him again. [There are photos of Archie, former teen idol & singing cowboy, shaking hands with Nixon; the U.S. government has been secretly floating him since the Sixties on the assumption that you can’t trust an alcoholic or the tell-all memoirs of the children of old movie stars.] He’d used the money to place an inspired bet and come up aces. And so he phoned to tell me all about it — the rush he got being in the money again, etc. — it is really a much longer story we shan’t go into.  On the phone he sounds far away & stoned… “Showgirls last night… 8000 bucks later… this morning my tie was so covered in glitter I had to throw it out.

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“Daddy,” said I. “On a normal day it would be all very well for you to call from Vegas to boast about the high-life. (How are the Mafia treating you?) But today of all days, daddy –” (tears were making speech difficult) “when Brooks wins & the aunts lose their house & worst of all they will have to live with me in Shitsville Ranch…” (Brooks loaned me his handkerchief from the front seat of the cab, sniff, sniff) “We are going there now to see the house exploded…”

“I must’ve done a lot more than I remember last night because there are bruises all over me, some queer thing with my arse and you don’t make a lotta sense, darlin’,” said papa. “Who are the aunts?”

“Your aunts,” I said, articulating. “They are your aunts.”

Elvis and Priscilla Presley

I’m sure he was about to deny he had ever had any aunts when he was overcome by the shakes and his voice became cloudy at the other end of the line, which runs fragile but taut between us like the fine silver lineament from a spider’s rectum connecting Melbourne, OZ to Las Vegas, US and also Palm Springs where he occasionally goes to dry out when he remembers his mama (my grandmama Gladys Marylouanna Pleasance-Shitsville) lives there.

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Continued here.

Frankie is gone & the rain comes down in sheets

Needless to say, Frankie never showed, but this was not entirely unexpected. Dressed up in sling backs & a white polka dot dress like Joan Crawford I stood smoking in the tropical rain on the Cinderella stairs of the courthouse. I waited until five past nine, which I think you’ll agree is long enough to hold out hope for someone whom you knew was never going to come in the first place.

Carl Brooks (the enemy of the piece) arrived at ten to nine and kept me company on the stone steps in his indestructible & unfathomable check suit, which had been freshly brushed for the occasion and so was now crackling with static electricity and chances are conducting the coming tropical storm; a lot of dry cut grass had stuck to his back where he couldn’t see it. I don’t know if he wanted to chat out of interest or spite, or if (possibly) a lifetime of parsimony & working for the Council meant that he was now incredibly lonely: anyway, his casual comments on the passers-by were worthy of the dustbin of history. Frankie’s failure to appear meant that we were in & out of the court hearing in five minutes, so by 9.10 Brooks had been awarded every legal right to possess my old aunts’ house, and was in fact encouraged by the magistrate to destroy it. This too was only to be expected: every Shitsville knows that it never takes long for your dreams to die & savour of ashes in your mouth. It is in our blood. I must say my aunts accepted it with a lot of grace. They admitted the house had seen better days – where there now hung think curtains of slimy moss in which you could hear the green snakes rustling they’d once spent idylls playing ping-pong in white Summer shorts, as sweet smelling sunshine came in through the latticework. (In any case there had always been some contention about whether the house really belonged to them or to the Russian people).

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Straight afterwards Brooks said he was on his way to light the sticks of dynamite that he had been placing around the house for a week in preparation & asked me if I wanted to share a taxi since we were going the same way (to the same place) (tho I suspect he really wanted to split the cost). His victory had put him in a good mood and he giggled, “He, he, he…” more than a few times, making his suit squeak at the seams. It was really too much to bare.

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To improve the collective gene pool, more folks oughter marry their cousins

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The humorist in question was in fact sitting at the next table over from us, we had had the misfortune of overhearing him all night. Now his book club had departed and he was left alone looking around for a woman to bore & disgust.  Finally his astute eye fell upon me. Sometimes I fear I am too beautiful. There is no other reason why I should constantly fall victim to misguided attempts to ‘cheer me up’.  He made a pun. I did not allow any expression to register. He believed himself to have ‘crossed the line’ in his attempt at mirth (how easily & erratically women are offended) and so apologised: “I’m joking.” Meantime two girls had encroached upon Francis to beggar a cigarette, then to thank him for the cigarettes they stood smoking and swaying in such a way as to communicate the fact that Negro music could step up their passion by degrees. To win his heart they made a few entertaining remarks about the appearances of the other girls. “Friends of yours?” asked the man.

“No, they are tarts,” said I. A little later, when it occurred to me to ask, I said, “Don’t you know a tart when you see one?”

“I’m a doctor,” said the man who was the death of everything funny in the world. He was being serious & professional when he said, “Most of the girls I’ve seen naked are dead. And horribly diseased or disfigured. It is truly terrible.”

“It’s not a happy situation,” I agreed.

After many diversions of this variety Miss Malice came around calling “Closed!” and turning  on the lights. It was the time of night when women tend towards melancholy. The doctor scurried off into the mists looking for someone to rip. On the street again, Frankie & I stood in the winking blue anti-injecting light of a HMV sign, which, if you’d like to know, shows a little dog named Nipper whose master died & left Nipper & his phonograph & voice recordings to his brother (the artist) who noticed Nipper sitting up and listening whenever his old master’s voice came on. I mentioned this story in a casual fashion & Francis had tears dripping down his face. There is an Asian guy who busks playing keyboard on Bourke Street  – at every moment it is the soundtrack to the best Hallmark Postcards Telemovie you’ve ever seen & as the tram crawled towards us from the Elizabeth St stop seemingly in filmic slow motion the heart strings swelled and it was a terribly poignant scene.  “I never cry,” said Francis. “Except once when I thought I lost my phone. But it was on the table in front of me. I was just sad about something else.”

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“There, there, cousin,” said I. “Be a man. It is only the gin crying. Now you will remember to come tomorrow. At 9 o’clock sharp. To serve the writ on Brooks.” He had offered to help me and the aunties (for love, not money; I had promised to introduce him to my show business Mother & maudlin papa Archie Shitsville, though their claims to being show biz people is pretty tenuous after all these years of masterful slovenliness & dedicated soaking). In fact that was the real reason we were out celebrating with the bottle. “You have saved us from a terrible fate, Francis,” said I, really meaning he had for a while put off the prospect of me having to live with old aunts in Shitsville Ranch. “A fate worse than death,” I embellished, to make him feel important. His tie was askew. He had confessed tonight he was frightened of Armani models because they reminded him of SPORT. (“The look in their eyes is so intense and they are covered in so much sweat they might as well be in an ad for Gatorade.”) “To you we will be eternally grateful, cousin Francis. And so. 9 o’clock.”

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“9 o’clock,” said Francis. “On the dot. I promise.” He tipped an invisible hat to me & (stumbling) followed the doctor into the mists.

The Thrill Of It All

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By the end of the night, when the prehistoric bar flies had become encased in a warm amber light, we had worked out between us that a fashionable murderer would of course be reluctant to spill blood incase it got on his shoes and hence the preference for strangling. One of the advantages of having your liquor habit largely floated by a lawyer’s Amex is that seeking employment ceases to be an imperative & so you can always find the time to work through these sorts of problems in detail.

“Every jerk thinks he’s entitled to an opinion,” said Francis. “So here’s mine.” Francis’ beef was with a certain type of utterly ordinary chap, entirely devoid of natural charm, who after ten years in accounting turns into a guy who thinks he’s one pun away from being a prodigal stand-up comedian. You don’t want to be stuck at dinner next to such a man on any given Tuesday. “Every sentence they utter contains word play,” said Francis. These are the kind of ‘jokes’ which we are all capable of making but never do because they’re not funny. “When really,” said Francis, “your true comedian only needs to sit quietly and listen to other people talking to come up with their material.”

“They are labouring under a misapprehension,” said I. “And that is, assuming that comedians are buoyant & happy people. When really it is no joke thinking up jokes all of the time & depressing too as I think you’ll agree looking around us now that there’s little here that could be considered amusing.”

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Frankie Shitsville

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To the rogue’s gallery of Shitsvilles I’d now like to add Francis Matlock Shitsville. Frankie is my fourth- or fifth- cousin. He is one of the only Shitsvilles in the book who is not dead or in gaol for penury-related crimes, though he’s probably come pretty close. Francis is a lawyer. It’s hard to know whether he is not a very good lawyer or if he just can’t be fucked. He admits it’s a vicious cycle of inability & indifference.

In any case he seems to only represent hopeless people: bored rubes who want to argue over perfectly reasonable speeding fines and other traffic infringements, such as driving drunk or on drugs and parking on a curb outside of a school, on top of a small boy, &c.  And so he loses all of the time, which does not endear him to powerful law firms.  Consequently his ‘look’ is what I would term shabby-geneteel: he is enough of a lawyer to have that pimpish preference for a silver sheen in suits which are almost-Armani; he has long hair which makes him look a bit like a drug pusher of the 90s; he is well-known in court circles for his wan look and aloof nature. Every now and then he will sleep late and have to run into court up the long centre aisle in front of all the Ladies & Gentlemen of the Jury with his gown billowing & face buried in a white silk handkerchief because his nose is bleeding – more often than not a lawyer’s lunch will consist of a selection of fine wines and escargot presaged by five little lines of cocaine cut neatly with an Amex card.

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Francis Shitsville also goes by the name of Frank Garland, but please don’t judge him for that because he is trying to get a foot in the door of the world of show biz. Apparently Frank finds it disheartening to lose cases all of the time and so he can’t wait to start auditioning…  He told me all about it at the bar on Thursday while we were waiting to hear back from the coroner. We were there after a long day and for the hell of it (I admit) and because it was my birthday. It was a sort of old man bar where old men & the kind of people I rightly despise (dressed universally as cowpokes) sit around having the type of conversations you find in Hemingway: “O hell. Go to hell. Damned Jew. You’re drunk. I’m not drunk, you’re drunk,” etc.

My best advice to Francis, if I dared to give it, would be, “I think you should abandon your acting pursuits. You are 28 now. Too old to dream. Your good looks are becoming akin to a faded sunset.” Instead I said, “I like your shoes Cousin Francis,” and he said, “Thanks cousin.” Then I said, “Something I’ve noticed is that most murderers in films – stranglers especially – will show a preference for stylish loafers.” Francis wiped his nose. Stuffing the kerchief back into his top pocket he said, “Far be it from me to claim to understand the workings of the criminal mind.”

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