by Nick Kipley
(part X and beyond will be published in subsequent issues)
(A variation on John Betjeman’s “The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel”)
Sea cliffs into which are bore’d innocuous porticoes and balustrades and halls and windows splattered like petro-or-heiroglyphs in reflection to cast dark smudges upon the smooth and shiny sea: the rock bare of lichens and cleanly obscene as if portraying the raised mooning buttocks of a taunting god; but within mysteries a-lie. Within this spectacular cliff dwelling and upon a stone balcony shrouded from salt-spray by an overhang of rock stands Paul Simon, naked and scratching himself just below a prominent dueling scar, sleep still encrusting his watery eyes.
“FETCH ME MY ORANGE JUICE!”
To which there is no reply… So affix he does a monocle into the corner of his screwed up eye.
“ROBBIE! Juugo de naranja, pronto! Angale!
There’s a responding screech as into the torchlit and Bauhaus-inspired sleep-chamber swoops a golden eagle on silent wings. In one clenched talon and empty glass, in the other a burlap sack of oranges. The bird alights upon a perch and begins obediently using its verysharp claws to crush the fruit into the glass, its task, the raptor’s master’s thirst to slake and quench.
Paul Simon, unamused, pads the stone floor; his feet damp with sleepsweat picking up crumbs of Moroccan hashish, fragments of peyote buttons, flakes of pure gold…
To his closet he now tarries not, but hurries—hustles and steals away quickly; reappears agleam of face a’smile and pewter-grey musket a’hand. It’s a .60 caliber elephant culling rifle, loaded. Stomping, as if disarming mousetraps in combat boots, across the cool alabaster floor and returning does he now to the balcony and seaview where with one hand on the gun and one eye on the sea, he shakes a final loose cigarette from a stray pack upon a gilded pedestal: Gauloises Blondes.
Through the scope sea-sprites dance staccato tarantellas, myopic to all feelings other than rapturous ecstasy.
“ROBBIE! Sometimes a man’s work in this life is never completed.”
“KRRRAAAA!!!!!!” says the eagle.
“And sometimes, Robbie,” here he pauses to light the cigarette, “ones plans do fall apart.”
“KRREEEE!!!!!!!!” screeches the bird.
A glint of blubber. A flash of fog-colored flesh.
“Liberté toujours, motherfucker…”
Paul Simon fires off both barrels, a direct hit!
A baby humpback whale floats to the surface.
Paul Simon reaches out his hand for the glass of orange juice, sips it, says,
“My GOD, Robbie, you truly know how to make a damn-fine glass of orange juice.”
Out at sea, gulls wantonly pick at the floating blob of warm-grey.
Paul Simon finishes his juice with a satisfied “Ahhhhhhh.”
“AMBROSIA! NECTER OF THE GODS!”
And viciously spikes the Austrian Crystal vessel into the floor.
“Robbie, I’ve written a new song. Just now.”
“KRAAAAAA!!!!!” mutters the eagle, picking up a mandolin, tuning.
Paul Simon picks up a medieval lute.
“It’s in waltz time. Oh, Robbie, you know how I adore waltz time.”
He strums a note, clears his throat:
PAUL SIMON’S SONG:
(Balaenae nobis conservandae sunt!)
I SHOOT YOU DOWN BABY HUMPBACK WHALE!
YOU’RE MADE OF BLUBBER, I THINK THAT A SHAME!
CARNIVEROUS SEAGULLS SHALL DEVOUR YOUR FRAME!
BETWEEN YOUR EYES MY BULLETS EXHALE!
AND DECAY YOU SHALL LIKE SALT TO A SNAIL!
CRIPPLE YOU, SEA-VILLAN, MAKE YOU LAME!
SWIM FASTER NEXT TIME, YOU’VE JUST LOST THE GAME!
SWIM QUICKER THAN CANTANKEROUS SAIL!
I can’t believe
My heart or my li-ver
Will do you any good?
Your head like a sieve,
And I’m all a-quiver.
Cross your fingers! Knock on Wood!
“What do you mean? That’s totally original.”
“There’s no way Brian Eno has a song about killing humpback whales.”
“No. You go look it up on the internet.”
“Fine, fine I’ll change the part about the seagulls.”
Suddenly: the door of aged oak and mahogany splinters karate-chop-inwards: TWO MEMBERS OF THE TRIUMPH TEAM16 WALK IN.
“Paul Simon, your time is up! Your crimes against humanity you must pay!”
“Robbie! Don’t just stand there you fool! Where’s my goddamn shrink-ray?”
Paul Simon looms like a world-wonder, picks up the officers and shakes them like insects or kittens.
“Who sent you! Who sent you!?”
He squeezes ‘till eyes are strained to pop…
“Aggghhhh!!! Algeria! It was Algeria!”
“Algeria….” The monocle drops from his eye, “ROBBIE?”
“Take these Algerians to the slag pit…. I haven’t fed the Komodo Dragons in a while….”
He tosses the Lilliputian spies; the eagle swoop-catches them and disappears from the room like a candle…. blown-up with lots and lots of C4.
Paul Simon, alone now in the quiet thrum of distant surf, rests himself comfortably in a throne of gilded oak-branches from Mt. Vesuvius and weaves a modal vision of lemongrass and upstate New York on an Appalachian dulcimer crafted of fine driftwood and ash-boughs.
“I think I have syphilis,” he mutters to himself.
16. The triumph team is a multi-national police force assembled by the heads of the former world governments after the signing of the Ludwig Papers, Paris, 1971. Their sole goal in life is to terminate the seemingly endless power of former musician Paul Simon after his ascent to world-dictator in the late 1960’s. As a side note, the Ludwig Papers effectively dissolved and merged NATO and The Warsaw Pact against the common threat of “The Maniac Minstrel.”