28 Feb 2003

I got some rather bad news today. Apparently my lower colon is rife with cancer. The doctor who told me was Dr. Rasheed and I find it nigh on impossible to understand anything he says. The fault is most certainly on my side as Dr. Rasheed is, after all, a doctor. I am only a struggling misanthropist with a shadowy background and suspected links to the IRA who has about two weeks to live. So anyway, Dr Rasheed spoke to me for about half an hour and I imagine he was very tactful and sensitive. It was nurse Sally Baker, an ex girlfriend of mine, who cleared up the matter in about thirty seconds after I left the doctor’s office. Considering the whole incident with me and her sister, I think she quite enjoyed it.

“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’ve just got home from the airfield in Newquay. The trip, as a whole, was rather eventful. As I mentioned yesterday, I was popping over to Sofia to pick up an assignment of Kalashnikovs that Vlad had secured for me. Despite having had my pilots license revoked for party crashing a Mig 31 air show display in my Cessna sometime last year, I have yet to be checked flying in and out of Newquay airfield. Newquay, for those who have never experienced the best surfing beaches in Europe, is perhaps the jewel in the holiday crown of Cornwall, or Kernow for the locals. Anyway, I left there last night in my Stealth Cessna (a Cessna covered in reduced treacle which deflects all known radar) and flew at three hundred feet to Eastern Europe and the cabbage field just outside Sofia where I hooked up with Vlad, my Bulgarian comrade with arms.

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.

Anyway, having landed amidst the Bulgarian cabbages, Vlad drove me to his bunker and stood back as I excitedly began to jimmy the lid off one of the two boxes containing those wonderfully effective and reliable Russian automatic rifles. As the lid fell to the floor and I perused the wares within, it became abundantly clear to me that this was going to be one of the numerous occasions when I would regret that I spoke not a word of Bulgarian and Vlad not a syllable of English. I had flown 400 miles at 300 feet at night and spent over 200 pounds on treacle to come and pick up two crates of Kalamares. That’s squid in tins for anyone who doesn’t know. Incidentally, if you have never tried the delicacy that is tinned Kalamares and would like to (believe me, you won’t regret it) contact me at my email address and I’ll sort you right out with some and at a crackerjack price too. Vlad could tell I was disappointed as I got him in a headlock and ran his head against the concrete struts of the bunker. After we had calmed down and stitched ourselves up, Vlad took me into town.

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.

At this point I would like to make an observation. I frequently find when looking at a fellow human being that I get a sudden flash of an image of how these people will look when they are much elder. The young features of a bus driver will suddenly distort into the grizzled lines of an aging alcoholic. That fine young girl I pass every morning on the way to the Post Office suddenly looks like she’s carrying the sagging facial flesh of a fourty year old with seventeen kids. What I am trying to say is that often I can’t help but imagine everyone I see as they will look in twenty, thirty, forty years. It is never a pretty sight and puts me right off any further commitment to them. I know this is foolish as I too will end up wrinkly, saggy, incontinent and dribbling (Yes, it is true. Those who know me by sight will find this very hard to believe but I insist it will happen. Probably.) but I cannot help myself. I have too much empathy of the crumbly nature of mankind.

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.

Did I mention that the US Airforce has an airfield base in Newquay? No? Well, they do and they have lots of jets and missiles and radar, hence the treacle. I normally like to land right at the end of their longest runway, out of sight and sound, especially at the moment. Listening to the vibes I am getting from my sources, the Yanks are ready to start shooting at anyone and, judging by past history, that includes themselves. When they are riled up like this I find the best way to deal with them is to duck and cover quite close to whatever object they are at that time attempting to destroy. Give it a moment or two and they will have blown so much dust to shit that they won’t be able to see the target and, confident in the lethal combination of their technology and talent, will move onto the next labeled threat. Anyway, that’s not a rant, fair play to them and all that. In this business morality is for the underachiever. So, having clipped one of the radar masts on the control tower with my undercarriage, I managed to avoid the stinger missile fired at me by throwing out three tins of Kalamares, which confused the homing device. If that’s not food for thought Saddam, I don’t know what is. Having landed and hidden my Stealth Cessna, I drove home and made squid pasta. I have another old friend coming tomorrow to visit. She ‘s wonderful and she will be as alluring to me everyday for the rest of her days as she is now.

Sophia arrived this morning looking as glorious as ever. I’ve known her for over a decade and have never felt anything towards her but desire. I desire her, I desire her to desire me. We’ve always been friends since we met in Seattle all those years ago. She was the public defendant for holidaying immigrants who had run afoul of the US legal system. Purely by accident I had attempted to defraud the Treasury out of about 20 million dollars but the hooker I had been with during the night ratted me out to her favourite client during the day, who turned out to be a FBI agent. So there I was with no fiscal resource and relying on Sophia, this dark skinned Mexican fresh out of some dubious Law School south of the border. She looked the part all right, curvaceous legs and hips, a dark tangle of black hair, brown eyes that raised your heartbeat as they swept across you and a wit and intelligence that could draw blood. However, despite how much I wanted to leave myself in her handsome hands, I just couldn’t condone the risk of twenty plus years inside purely for a few days spent in the pleasing company of Sophia, that duskiest of maidens.

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 walked towards the pub she slipped her hand into mine. She didn’t say anything so neither did I but I felt like singing. She had just made me happier than I had been for a long time and I knew then that even when I had analysed her action and possible motives to death, her simple act would still remain clear, distinct and irrefutable. Perhaps she held my hand as great and platonic friends often do. Maybe, just maybe (but God I hoped so) she had started to feel even a glimmer of what I feel for her. But then I consider that it might just be because her hand is cold. Then I realise she has pockets to protect her svelte fingers from the driving coastal winds and I curse myself for my unstoppable analysis. My unending search for the truth of every situation demands such introspection, to give me the security of indubitable knowledge. But how can I know that I am right. Surely the more I search for the truth the further I take myself from it. Perhaps a subjective approach can only ever be but that, an individual’s view of existence. Perhaps the greatest truths are found without looking. For whatever reason, she is holding my hand and I love her. "My God," I thought to myself in a moment of supreme clarity , "I don't half talk some bollocks."

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.

A small and dark village street was no place to fight someone learned in the ways of Ninjitsu. Fuji might move from shadow to shadow with no noise until she could whisper in my ear that the needle she had just stuck into me was coated in some unpleasant poison. I was also worried about Sophie becoming involved so I stood up, moved to the centre of the road where the little moonlight that there was fell, slipped my coat from my shoulders and onto the ground and spoke:

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.

I whispered:

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.”


And then the shadow I was watching gave birth to the diminutive form of Fuji. I cleared my mind of distractions and found my Happy Place. I smiled to myself. I am going to hurt someone now. Fuji is approaching, flexing her legs and arms for the workout she knows she’s about to get. Our eyes meet for the first time in years and hers are green, like creamy jade. I see her coiling her left arm ready to strike and I tense in preparation of evading her attack and breaking her neck in one clean move just at the same time that Sophia falls out of the doorway:

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:

FUJI: “Listen bitch, you stay away from him. He’s mine.”

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.”

FUJI: “See!”

ME: “But my name’s Bruce.”

FUJI: “So?”

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.”

26 Feb 2003

And she did with nothing so much as a disdainful look backwards. Sophia and I never did make it to “Three in a Bush” although we both spent much of yesterday night in each other’s. That is all there is to be said on the matter, as a gentleman never speaks of such things. Especially not when the lady concerned is waiting in the bath upstairs. And I respect her completely as well. Let’s not forget that.

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