28 Feb 2003
“Hello Bruce. You’ve got cancer of the lower colon. It’s terminal. You’ve got about two weeks to live. Did you hear that my sister is a lesbian now? See you.”
I had been pretty much floored as soon as I saw Sally so she managed to escape down the corridor without any smart and cutting retorts from me to bother her. Two weeks to live. After I started breathing again, my first reaction was to ask someone if they were sure. They might have made a mistake, a wrong diagnosis, got my name confused with Barry Campbell or Bertha Campig or someone. However, I couldn’t ask Dr Rasheed because firstly, he might take it the wrong way as a slur on his competence and try and stab me with a hypodermic and secondly, I can’t understand a word the man says. And I wasn’t going to give Sally the pleasure so I left the hospital and walked, in a mood of deep dejection, all the way home.
Two weeks to live. I hardly need mention that it came as quite a shock to me, a healthy 26-year-old living by the sea in, what I had presumed to be, a fit and healthy body. How can I have the six-pack of a Greek Adonis and the colon of a ninety-year-old leper from Damascus? I’ve always eaten healthily, exercised regularly, smoked only a little, drunk slightly more and said my prayers, when it turns out that all I ever needed to do was stick a tube up my bottom and colonically irrigate myself twice weekly. Let that be a lesson to you.
That’s all for now as I’ve got to catch a plane to Bulgaria in about twenty minutes. Just because I apparently only have two weeks to live doesn’t mean I’m going to let my business go to pot. Vladimir called yesterday and said that he has two crates of brand spanking new Kalashnikovs for me.
I met Vlad about ten years ago in some shell hole feet deep in mud, blood and crud, situated somewhere near Ruslintingazzak in former Yugoslavia. We were both mercenaries, but fighting for different sides, and we had both expended the last of our ammunition. However, we both still had knives, Vlad a machete from his time in the jungle and myself a Kukhri from the months I spent training with the Gurkhas. Shells were still falling all around us as we circled about each other on our knees making threatening animal sounds and faking sudden attacks with our blades. Eventually we fell upon each other and Vlad chopped off my middle finger of my left hand whilst I lost him a testicle and an eye. Just as we were about to simultaneously impale each other, someone threw a stun grenade into the shell hole with us and we awoke on a French Navy hospital ship to be told that the conflict was over, we were both heroes and had been given the keys to the village of Ruslintingazzak. Since that day we have remained in contact that has proved to be financially mutually beneficial.
I guess Vlad was feeling bad for getting my hopes up about the literal killing I could have made with the rifles and so he started to try and make it up to me. We began the night out at a bar called Wooslettle. If you have never had the pleasure of drinking vodka in Bulgaria then make sure you do. Or possibly don’t. It depends in how much of a high regard you hold the health of your liver. Needless to say, I had cheered up considerably by the time we left Wooslettle and headed to the female flesh market aptly named Woodyz. As soon as we were sat comfortably in one of the private viewing booths Vlad got his American Express card out and started flashing it about. Then came the ladies, flashing about the place, all young, yummy and mine to take home with me, if I so desired.
Anyway, all of which is to explain why I left Woodyz with only Vlad. All the babes, in the dour red light of the stage, looked like my ninety year old Granny Twinky. Also, I knew that the additional unplanned weight of fucking tinned Kalamares would mean that my Stealth Cessna wouldn’t be able to get above 300 feet even if I had wanted and with a gaggle of gorgeous Bulgarian broads on board as well, we wouldn’t make it past Switzerland. Back at the cabbage field Vlad and I punched each other goodbye and I gave him a good hard boot right in his balls to make it quite clear that I held no bad feelings for the futile mission he had made me make. He drove off across the field and through a hedge and into what sounded like deep water. This reminded me that drinking and driving was slightly safer than drinking and flying, and so in a moment of inebriated clarity I ate two cabbages to help me sober up. They must have helped as by the time I woke up I was flying across the lush green fields of Blightly.
Thankfully I had plans afoot even before our first appearance in court when it transpired that Sophia was perhaps the worst lawyer I have ever heard. To start with, her English, which at the best of times was rather more comical than correct, fell to pieces when she was performing under the scrutiny of the wizened old judge. She kept losing pens and evidence bags and vital bits of paper at all the wrong times. Normally a defendant in my position would have been sweating buckets and vowing revenge on this disastrous lawyer. Rather, as I knew I wouldn’t even be in court the next day, I was able to sit back and coolly enjoy Sophia’s performance. I had to stifle my laughter frequently as she did little to win my case but everything to win my heart. Needless to say, the first thing I did when I was comfortably settled in my Venezuelan Hacienda with Colonel Cortez as a dinner guest the next evening was to drop her a line and thank her for her efforts. Since then she has never been far from my thoughts and I was overjoyed to see her in the flesh once again. I decided to introduce her to the local folk band, mysteriously named “Three in a Bush” when there are always at least seven performers, who were playing in my local last night. Cornish folk music always get my toes a’tapping and I was sure that Sophia would lap it up, and perhaps, later, me. This is what happened. Things unfolded thus:
27 Feb 2003
As we rounded the corner by the small library my attention was snapped away from such romantic considerations. The hairs on the back of my neck rose as I sensed a change in the air, a smell of bamboo and lavender oil, and a noise of a shadow approaching. Sophia must have sensed my agitation as she looked sideways up towards my face and squeezed my hand. I looked down and was about to speak when I caught the movement in the corner of my eye. Instead I pushed my hand onto Sophie’s chest with power and just had time to see her quizzical expression and raised eyebrows as she disappeared into the library’s alcove. As I turned back towards the movement my right hand darted up across my face to catch the blade that was mere inches from my nose. I heard another in the air and so dropped to one knee throwing the knife back in the direction it had come from and rolled backwards. The second knife stuck fast into the doorframe of the library behind me and I heard Sophia’s intake of breath. I heard the knife I had thrown hit the wall and clatter to the cobbles. Of all the times to be attacked by a jealous ninja bitch. I was mightily riled by this interruption to my potential love life and immediately decided that Fuji would not see the morning.
ME: “Fuji, get out here and suffer my wrath. See if you can take me. I’m going to fuck you terminally up this time.”
Fuji and I had tussled before, once on an oilrig, twice on a narrow suspension bridge and frequently in bed. She was a master assassin who had never been able to terminate me in years of trying and had eventually decided to bed me instead. Which she did with far more success. Since those few sweaty months in Hiroshima she has viewed me as hers, as Bruce-Who-Shall-Not-Poke-Any-Other-Then-Me-Fuji, or ‘Brucie Babes’ said in her curt Japanese tongue. Needless to say, I don’t feel exactly the same and her incessant interruptions to my attempts to woo the few women I have known whom interest me sufficiently, by attacking me without warning, have become ultimately tiresome. Anyway, I digress. We were going to sort this out once and for all.
ME: “Sophia, darling, do not move, stay hidden. Do not watch, keep your head down.”
SOPHIA: “But Bruce…”
ME: “But nothing sweetness. Be silent. This will not take long.”
SOPHIA: “Eeeeee. Fuck! Bruce!” (She is just so succinct.)
Sophia falls towards me and I turn to catch her and throw her back from whence she came. Couldn’t see she I was involved in mortal combat? Then Fuji spat:
ME: “Er, no I’m not.”
FUJI: “O yeah, well you will be.”
ME: “I don’t think so.”
FUJI: “I’m pregnant.”
ME: “O congratulations!”
FUJI: “You’re the father.”
ME: “I don’t see how that’s possible.”
FUJI: “You remember that night? The one when you told me you loved me and then we screwed.”
ME: “Not clearly. It was ten years ago. Do you remember?”
FUJI: “Hai! You took my cherry.”
ME: “Right. I think this is all a dream you’ve had. Perhaps you ate too much cheese one night before you slept. Anyway, I don’t love you, I love her.”
SOPHIA: “And I love him.”
We take time for an ‘Aside’ during which we look deep into each other’s eyes.
FUJI: “NO you don’t. I love him and he loves me. Here look, look at this tattoo.”
SOPHIA: “Darran hearts Sharon forever.”
ME: “But my name’s Bruce.”
ME: “And isn’t your name Fuji?”
FUJI: “What? NO! I mean, yes. But I love you Bruce!”
ME: “Truly I am flattered but as I have tried to make quite clear there is only one girl in this world for me…”
SOPHIA: “O Bruce!”
ME: “…and that’s this filly standing by my side.”
SOPHIA: “You’re such a charmer. I’m veritably swooning. Check my pulse.”
ME: “Gosh. Check mine.”
SOPHIA: “Golly. Our hearts are beating as one.”
FUJI: “O fuck off you two nonces. I’m going back home to Japan and my husband.”