As you may or may not be aware, The Duke does a fair bit of the old scribbling, writing, yacking in print. A while back, I posted a short story I’d just written for to see if anyone fancied giving an opinion. Some did, and let it be known that The Duke was awash with gratitude and also hunger to some degree, on account of I hadn’t eaten for a while.
Being in the writing stages of a novel (mine third, and yet, hopefully, the first to see light of day outside of the confines of my hard-drive), I decided that, seeing as how The Duke don’t know nothing bout nothing, I would put the first chapter of this work-in-progress opus onto the old web-net, that folks might have a look, and then say, “No, Duke, that bit right there sucks” or “I would change this if I were you, you son of a bitch” and so on. Other literary criticisms.
So, then, I would be very, very grateful if you could offer an input of some nature, that I might know if things are going alright, with regards this first chapter, or if it’s dying on its rancid arse two paragraphs in.
Thanks folks. It would mean a lot to The Duke if you might leave a comment.
The Death Of A Footnote
By Aaron McMullan, The Motherfucking Duke De Mondo
I lay on the street for forty-five minutes before realising that I had died at least two hours previous. The occasional rat scurried past, drunken revellers cheered from alleyways lost to me forever, rain falling with discomforting glee into my opened eyes. Thick, bilious fluid ran from the wounds on my torso, mingling with the piss and shit newly liberated from their intestinal confines. I could taste nothing but grey, my nasal caverns a mass of sickly sweet mucus and rapidly clotting blood.
What to do now? The shock of accepting my fatal condition was somewhat less than that which accompanied the arrival of the knife-wielding malcontent who heralded the whole sorry affair in the first place. In the most cinematic trenches of my cranium, I would romanticise that I was the unwilling recipient of a hired assassin’s wares, that someone, somewhere, had mortgaged their home and put everything they owned up for auction in order to pay for my final shuddering breath. The reality, however, is no doubt infinitely minor. Who would have reason to hate me with such primal intensity? Who, outside of the semi-circle of acquaintances I have accumulated throughout my meagre existence, would bother to acknowledge my passing with even the faintest hint of emotion, much less an orgasmic sigh of hitherto strangled relief?
The truth is, disheartening as it may be, tomorrow’s headlines will tell of another shadow forever lost to daylight. And that same headline, it pains me to relate, will be my epitaph. This is hardly a loss on a par with the Lennon’s or Cobain’s or Churchill’s of the world. Merely one less blurred mass of inconsistencies for a CCTV camera to scan over in a shopping precinct, a theatre ticket sold to another pseudo-intellectual, a seat in a restaurant for another pair of cheeks to inhabit, a census statistic handed on to someone else, a lost vote picked up from the gutter by a thousand fingers. Who will take care of the children I never had a chance to father? Who will impregnate the wife I never met?
A rat nibbling at my exposed and mutilated innards went some way towards convincing me to move, to leave the scene of this dastardly crime, enjoying the comparative freedom my situation brings. The be-suited civil servant who runs from this spot just after dawn will be severely penalised for such actions. I imagine the sight of a clean-shaven, neatly groomed yet unmistakably torn asunder body will be too much for him to take, with his mindful of memos and statistics and transfers and the unwelcome, stagnant echo of the previous evenings revelries.
It is quite something for one to raise ones arm and see that ones arm remains undoubtedly limp on the pavement. Yet the sensations are all accurate; that pre-natural certainty of elevation, that unquestioning faith that ones appendages are doing just as instructed. My arm is raised, and yet it is not. Blood clots form black, distasteful assemblages in the valleys between my fingers, and yet my hand feels clean, like the skin has been replaced with a layer of cling-film so thin that a mild sneeze would be enough to tear it asunder. Rain falls into the minute void of my pupils, and yet I feel no stinging, no blurred vision, even. The eye that was gouged from its socket and relieved of its position to nestle a little further down my cheek, is functioning beyond all reasonable expectations. Not only can I see my own listless and bloody corpse just below me, but if I raise my head slightly, I can see on past the end of this street, and onto the next. Further down along the red-bricked houses I trundle, my vision carried on the back of some celestial pigeon, allowing me to glimpse into each and every one of the windows before me, and to know the faces of those within, and to know the things that go deeper than the particles spread across the bone.
And this must be how it feels to be God, I’m thinking. This ability to know all that is knowable and yet fully accept each niggling detail, each blundering contradiction. To have the intricacies of creation unfold before me, and yet for it all to have the effect of someone telling me that I am Caucasian, that my hair is red, but that I am balding slightly. It all seems so obvious.
At present, I am struck with two decisions. On the one hand, I am craving my first steps, burdened with a desire to move further along, to see what waits for me around the next turning, what junctions brimming with celestial delights am I to uncover? On the other hand, I am quite sure that I could spend eternity rooted to this particular spot, and still always being uncovering something new, something I could spend millennia exploring.
I ponder my situation for some time, before deciding that perhaps I should inspect my own broken shell, lying so elegantly in the spotlight of a dimming neon lamp. I look down upon my tattered remains, all that is left of my earthly wanderings, the final payment placed on a home the resident has since departed. Stricken with a peculiar curiosity regarding my own physical prowess, I’m just about to undo the buttons on my trousers, when I realise I am incapable of doing so. The garments slip through my grasp, my hand emerging cloth-free, like a toddler grasping at his reflection in a puddle.
No, there is nothing left for me here. Granted, I would like to see the reactions of my friends and relations, when the monstrous image is uncovered by the dawn. But, there is much to uncover, much to investigate.
I wander the streets for quite some time, taking a moment to browse through estates I had been too afraid to enter when my breath was a valuable commodity. Now, I can marvel at the murals and slogans my middle class eyes were never meant to see. I gaze upon these rather beautiful declarations of anonymous intent, these glowering eyes and skulls, these gravestones marked with the names of martyrs, the last pillars of a kingdom being torn apart before my very eyes.
Intending to go no further than Central Station, to sit on benches scarred with milky-white pigeon shit, to amuse myself by reading the reams of grammatically disastrous declarations scrawled across the walls by lovelorn adolescents, I instead find myself approaching a housing development to the west of the City Centre, and once within I am slapped with the realisation that now, having set foot across the boundary, I will never leave. The knowledge that whatever is to become of my essence, of this spirit I so gallantly direct, it will take place within this clustered reserve.
‘You alright, there?’, someone says, a landlord opening a public house, scrubbing the quaint, grey-stone step with a cracked brush, and unmistakably referring to myself.
‘Um, yeah, I’m alright’ I say.
He chuckles and lowers his head once more, and I, unsure of myself and, more-so, my surroundings, walk towards the carefully swept stone.
That’s right, cliffhanging like a motherfucker, is what, like when Sylvester Stallone was meant for to save the girl but no, he didn’t, he just let her go.
Let a man know what you think folks.
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