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Monday, 29 October 2018

ME AT THE PLANET BAR RELAUNCH



                                                                   
   



At  the Planet Bar Relaunch. October 2018

I am the face behind the hand

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

DR. YES AND THE BLUE PREYING MANTIS: Chapter 3 of KISSES IN SATURNS by Thomas H. Leonard


                    
                                                                                    



                CHAPTER 3: DR. YES AND AND THE BLUE PREYING MANTIS

                                               THE BLUE PREYING MANTIS
                                                          by Tom Leonard
It appeared during my dear Hypatia’s wedding
Man-size by the pulpit,
Prancing in prayer-like posture,
Its dark green pseudo-pupils bulging
Out wide
From its bulbous compound eyes,
Its spiky forelegs grasping
The sacred Book of Kells,
Flashing its leathery outer wings
And revealing
The four meaner things behind.
‘I’m Bishop Galloway,’ it cried,
Even though His Grace had gone away to hide.
Not the blue preying mantis!’ I shrieked.
The worthy canon was confounded,
The kilted best man turned around,
The youthful ushers ran up with a bound,
And I was bundled into the Lady Chapel
Where they gave me a rough grapple
And throttled my Adam’s Apple.

It appeared in Café Chaps
Just as the schemy Aussie
From Sydney with a single kidney
Was trying to get off like a toff
With a bent Dorothy from Tranent
Who wasn’t exactly heaven sent.
It tried to pull tricks without feeling,
Its sensors scraping the ceiling,
Its reptilian jaws munching the treats
With a surfeit of crunching.
‘Not the blue preying mantis!’ I shrieked,
And two hefty bouncers from Saturn’s
Ran in, with jagged scars on their faces,
And threw me headlong onto the street.

After forty minutes or so of intensive questioning following the discovery of Ken Reid's much bloodied corpse in the deep freeze, the police officers dragged Ben, his walker, and Malky out of Saturn's and onto the crowded pavement on Greenside Place.

      Clucky the Chicken was smoking a fag outside the doorway with the jolly Irish bouncer and a previously ejected, dope-ridden rent boy.

      “I hope the police shrinks psychoanalyse you two crazy despots stupid,” howled the indignant bouncer, waving his clenched fist, “and that they leave you to rot in the Orchard Clinic.”

      “But the chicken did it!” wailed Malky, struggling desperately to break free.

      The chicken grabbed the rent boy's leather handbag.

       “Oh no I didn't!” shrieked the shrill chicken, pounding Malky's head with the handbag, and the theatre goers on the sidewalk wildly applauded.

       The police officers hauled Ben and Malky across Leith Walk and towards the nearby Gayfield Square. They were within five yards of the square when the chicken took off across the busy traffic and almost caught up with them, claws at the ready, before tripping over the kerb, and falling head over heels into the side of a trash bin.

       At that, Malky went absolutely potty and started to rave apparent nonsense. “Not the blue preying mantis!” he raged. Prancing in prayer-like posture, its dark green pseudo-pupils bulging out wide from its bulbous compound eyes, its spiky forelegs grasping...”

      “You're off to see Wizard of Oz for a Carstairsian lobotomy,” howled the sergeant with the curved nose. “It will take half your frigging head off.”

      “If ever there wiz there was,” raved Malky. “Look! It's sensors are scraping the ceiling, its reptilian jaws are munching the treats with a surfeit of crunching. No!!! It's no chicken. It's the blue preying mantis, that it is!”

      When they reached the much-celebrated Gayfield Square Police Station, Ben and Malky were taken straight past reception into the dark and dingy regions, where some poor soul howled. “Not them! Let me spill the beans! Not there!”, and then hurriedly down an elevator into the brightly lit lower basement.

      “We're taking you to the Sir William Crichton Interrogation Chambers!” announced Officer Paulo Enrique, giving Malky a couple of playful pokes. “They're in the medieval dungeons under Gayfield House.”

      “Sheriff Crichton sent the most evil prisoners in the Edinburgh Tollbooth by St. Giles there during the fifteenth century,” added the detective sergeant, with a grin. “Maybe we should puncture your gas-ridden lungs in the Iron Maiden, Malky, to get rid of some of your hype.

      Paulo flicked a switch, and a moving titanium walkway came into view, lit by a twirling kaleidoscope of flashing colours that put Malky's mind into turmoil. The walkway took the officers and the two suspects speedily down an ageless tunnel, to the distant strains of 'Flower of Scotland'. The ever narrowing tunnel stretched under several nearby residences, under St. Mary's Primary School, and under East London Street, as far as an iron gateway which opened into the candle-lit reception area of the Crichton dungeons. These have always been totally inaccessible from Gayfield House fully fifty feet above.

      “Please take the McLachlan jerk to meet Dr. Yes in the Guelders Gelding Chamber, Officer Enrique,” requested the detective sergeant, “and you can kick off the questioning after Dr. Yes has completed his psychiatric evaluation. You won't need to stick to the rules in this God-forsaken place. But first, please prepare the suspect for his jagging!”

      “No!!” shrieked Malky, in terror. “Please don't let them inject me! Not like they do in the Royal Ed!”

       “This could be the start of a beautiful friendship,” responded Paulo Enrique, seizing poor Malky by the scruff of his neck.

        Daisy McCracken arrived in time to question Ben Hopkins in the Archibald Douglas Memorial Alcove, but Malky was, to his horror, stripped by two smirking, middle age police women, down to his favourite, moth-ridden, yellow vest and a cheesy pair of torn y-fronts which he hadn't changed for a couple of days, whereupon he was incongruously dragged into the Guelders Gelding Chamber without a 'please' or a 'thank you'.

       A wiry man in a white coat was waiting by the Procrustes bed fiddling with his diamond-studded stethoscope (which was totally for show, of course). In his early sixties, he sported a wispy, fading ginger beard, a number one cut, and a sarcastic expression which seemed permanently fixed to his scheming face. Dr. Yes, whose favourite hobby was hunting with for sharks in the Irish Sea, was really the eminent psychiatrist Sir Turnbull McCrae J.P., F.R.S.E, F.R.C.P., the President of the World Consortium of Brain Therapists. His God-like status was revered across Scotland and as far south as Newcastle.

      “What am I to you, little man?” inquired Dr. Yes, smacking his lips.

      “The blue preying mantis!” shrieked Malky, ad nausaeum.

      “A most illuminating reply,” observed Dr. Yes, looking down his Romanesque snout. “Let me ask you two questions while you grovel like the slug-worm you are. Firstly, please tell me when you last saw a dog in your kitchen.”

       “Only last week,” blurted Malky. “I thought I heard a mouse in the trash. But when I went in to throw it onto Mrs. Dickety's lawn, I imagined the outline of a huge alsatian poking its nose through the door.”

      “I understand. And when did you last see Jesus Christ in heavenly manifestation?”

      “Last Sunday in the Cathedral, of course,”answered Malky. “I visualised him landing by the Altar during Holy Communion.”

      “He's referring to transubstantiation, Doctor,” interjected a transgender orderly called Barbara. “The Catholics believe that Jesus appears in the flesh.”

      Dr. Yes puffed his chest, and sneered. Stuff and nonsense! The criminal is clearly psychotic and probably schizophrenic. He should be treated with a course of depixol, by twice daily injections in his left buttock, a centimetre or so below his pelvic bone. If he experiences serious paralysis in his legs, then a pair of crutches should be found for him, and he should be confined to a barred isolation cell for fourteen days if he smiles or giggles too much.”

      Barbara nervously raised her very large hand. “Have you considered the possibility of a depixol-haloperidol cocktail to quieten him down, Doctor?” she inquired, hesitantly.

      Dr. Yes blinked, and rubbed his nose. “Now that's an intriguing suggestion, Barbara. One further question, Mr. McLollypop. When did you first encounter a blue preying mantis?”

      “It was in a p-poem,” stammered Malky, “a p-poem composed by my friend, the retired Bayesian Statistician Tom Leonard who's at some indeterminate point on some sort of spectrum. The poem starts, 'It appeared during my dear Hypatia's wedding, man-size by the altar, prancing in prayer-like posture….”

      “I really can't take any more of this unfounded spectrum nonsense,” shrieked Dr. Yes, grinding his teeth. “However, paranoid schizophrenia is a totally different issue, and we can't be too careful. Parallel courses of depixol and haloperidol seem to be the order of the day. Administer the haloperidol by twice daily injections in the moron's right buttock, orderlies! Go get him, Barbara!

      Barbara promptly picked Malky up, threw him onto the Procrustes bed, pulled down his y-fronts, and smiled.

      A pair of highly experienced, lean and mean orderlies from the notorious Herdmanflat Hospital in Haddington rushed up to administer Malky's very first intramuscular injections, with two thick, lengthy needles of a brand specially manufactured in Bangladesh, which had been subjected to a very thorough clinical trial involving the jagging of n=434 indigenous slaves.

       When the orderlies twisted needle against bone, Malky shrieked in absolute agony and collapsed in a heap.

      “Please let me cosh the mother lover with a dose of clopixol, Doctor,” begged the leaner of the orderlies. “I'm on a commission from Big Pharma.”

      Dr. Yes chuckled. “Now, now Rex! The imbecile's not elderly or demented enough to justify coshing him with that deadly stuff, and the depixol is already earning me a packet from Kundbach of Geneva.

      “Please!” whined the greedy orderly.

      “You'd be welcome to top the lout up with quetiapine a bit later. No more that five millilitres though, or his breasts may start to swell beyond the permissible limits.

      “Wow! Thanks!

       “Do tell me if your legs get to feel a bit rubbery,” said Police Cadet Paulo Enrique, pouring Malky a glass of fizzy lemonade.

       Barbara sighed, and frowned. This is a Procrustes bed! We need to stretch the clown's limbs with the movable pulleys to make sure that he fits it properly. Thank goodness his neck isn't as long as a giraffe's.

      “No it isn't!” howled Malky, in absolute terror.

      “Now this is beginning to all make sense,” remarked Paulo Enrique, seizing Malky by his ankles.

Let's recapitulate, Dr. Hopkins,” said Detective Chief Inspector Daisy McCracken, flicking her throat lozenge sideways with her dainty tongue. “You and your three companions were in the Hex Mirror Room for various periods between about 11.30 am and 1.30 pm last night. You all went for a shimmy in the Steam Room at about 12.45, completely devoid of clothing would you believe? Both Ken Reid and Malcolm McLachlan left the Mirror Room more frequently than you and Dr. Eugenia Pereira, presumably either to visit the Sling Room or to return to the Steam Room, or to languish with dark intent around the dimly lit corridors. But please describe to us, one more time, your grounds for the suggestion (which you expressed to one of my highly efficient constables earlier this evening) that it might be a good idea to check the contents of the freezers in the Cold Storage Room.”

      “That was simply because I overheard a snippet of conversation in the main bar earlier this evening, Chief Inspector, to the effect that there'd been some funny goings on in the vicinity of the freezers. Winnie the Mince said something like that to her straggly-haired spouse.”

      “Not that bizzom again! Are you saying that you had no knowledge last night of anything that may or may not have happened in the Cold Storage Room?”

      “No chance! I didn't even know it was there. They only feed their customers with crisps and nuts in that place.”
And to your knowledge, did either Mr. Reid or Mr. McLachlan take the opportunity to throw their legs in the air for some light relief on the sling?”

      “Not definitely, but Ken Reid did say 'He made me feel like a fluffy bunny wunny' when he returned to the Mirror Room at about 12.30, and Malky muttered 'He was such a sly foxy-loxy' a bit later while he was performing a highly incongruous forwards roll across the artificial turf.”

      “What invaluable information! Now, Dr. Hopkins, you still seem to be insisting that you left the premises through the back door at about 1.30. Were you accompanied by all three of your companions?”

      “Only Malky and Eugenia, I think. I don't remember anything about Ken.”

      “I see. And what happened next?”

      “I can't rightly remember. I was in such a drunken stupor, you see. The next thing I recall is waking up in my flat, with Malky squatting on my chest. The sweat was pouring from his thighs.

      “This is all highly suspicious, Dr. Hopkins. We will be detaining you in this facility, for the time-being at least. Please make yourself at home in the St. Grunwald Self-Flagellation Cell.”

In the meantime, the bear-like retired Bayesian Statistician Tom Leonard, nicknamed 'Sasquatch' by the more caring of his gay acquaintances, left the recently hipsterised Planet bar close to the corner of Leith Walk and Easter Road (following a token kiss and cuddle with an intelligent Japanese lad visiting from Kyoto who'd fled from Saturn's), and returned to his drab first floor flat on Montgomery St.

      When he turned on his Toshiba laptop, Tom discovered that a comment had been left on his Facebook page by the one and only Dr. Yes. It was appended to a post from Thomas Hoskyns Leonard Blog, entitled 'The Blue Preying Mantis', which had been 'liked' by thirteen Facebook friends, and 'loved' by Richard Mantis Strangelove of Los Angeles, Inky Winky, Banana Anna Banana and Malky McLachlan. 

      The comment read:
You doubtlessly feel reassured of the ultimate sanity of your initially warped perceptions, following your much-belated A.D.D. re-diagnosis by Dr. R. E. Canter. However, this horribly irrational poem has distorted the mind of your similarly inane sidekick Malky, who may have perpetrated foul crimes because of it. Your entire blog is away with the fairies. It should be destroyed forthwith and your laptop incinerated.

      Whoops! thought Tom, attempting to re-align his neurotransmitters. I'd better delete this post, quick, from my Facebook page at least.

Malky McLachlan had been left lying spread-eagled on his back on the Procrustes Bed in the Guelders Gelding Chamber, his perspiratious limbs stretched excruciatingly taut by the pulley system around him.

        At some point in time, the two middle aged woman police officers came in with a jug of iced water and a large jar of Schmuckers Sweet Orange marmalade.

      “Look at him!” exclaimed the officer from Musselburgh. “Could be the medication, I suppose.”

      “Let's pull the Motherwell laundry-women's stunt on him,” suggested the officer from New Lanark.

      “Let's!” giggled her saucy colleague, opening the marmalade.

Despite the lingering effects of the injections, Malky was feeling a bit chirpier half an hour later when Detective Chief Inspector McCracken came in to question him, accompanied by Police Cadet Enrique who was gripping a rubber truncheon in his right hand and a taser gun in the other.

      “Thank you for sorting out the Roller from Shotts, Paulo,” said Daisy McCracken. “He seems to have a full alibi in the Queen's Head Hotel in Kelso for the times in question, though. He returned on the bus this afternoon after stopping off in St. Boswell's for a couple of expensive gins in the Buccleuch Arms.

       “But it was fun giving the inebriate the once over,” replied Paulo Enrique, swinging his truncheon gaily around his head. “He admitted to rolling two highly indiscreet clerics from Melrose for a hundred quid each. I'll grill him a bit more later in the Sinclair Trepanning Room, to see what he knows about the other Walter Mittys and their secret agendas.

      Daisy McLachlan grimaced, and slapped Malky's perfectly flat chest. Now then, Mr. McLachlan, if you value your goolies, I'd like to know exactly who laid you last night in the sling in the basement of the Saturn's bar complex on Greenside Place.”

      “That sleazy jerk Eric McVie,” shrieked Malky. “The pretend Lib Dem freak. The God-damned neo-fascist treated me like an obsequious poodle, that he did. I felt like Tony Chenevix-Fettes performing a stunt in the Rose Garden for George W. Bush.

      “How appropriate. Who else?”

      “Dunno.”

      “What!” exclaimed the chief inspector, reaching for the marmalade.

      “My buddy Davie,” purred Malky. “He was so utterly divine.”

      “Davie who?”

      “Davie Pickles, the proprietor, of course.”

      “I see. And at what time did you leave the premises?”

      “Back of two, I think.”

       “Back of two, or back of three?”

      “Dunno.”

      “Who did you leave with?”

      “My lovely Ph.D. supervisor Eugenia. She's a fellow grass roots Socialist, you know.”

       “What happened to happened to Ben Hopkins?”

       “Oh! Slinky Ben caught up with us while we climbing up Greenside Lane. He took us to his place, but I was no longer in the mood for anything more than a relaxing twenty minutes of ninety-six, apart from my pre-breakfast treat of course.”

      “Really? But why did you participate in the foul murder of your love-buddy Davie in the Steam Room before you left Saturn's?”

      “Didn't! The chicken did it.”

      “System Lucky Seven on the pulleys please, ladies,” retorted the Detective Chief Inspector. “I'll be back later to take a formal statement.”

Daisy McCracken returned to the Reception Chamber, only to find MI6 Agent Hamish McLeod standing there panting heavily.

       “What's up, Hamish?” inquired Daisy, straightening her dark blue cravat.

      “Everything's up!” responded Hamish. “With Eugenia Slotsky-Pereira's help we've collated a swathe of fresh evidence, including more accurate assessments of the precise times when Messrs McLachlan and Hopkins left the basement of the Saturn's bar complex last night. Perhaps you should consider modifying your list of prime suspects in the light of our new discoveries.”

      But maybe our dear Eugenia's evidence is suspect too, deliberated the crafty chief inspector. Maybe she's deep in the shit. And maybe this chancer is in even deeper than she is.

      “I'll certainly consider all of this extremely carefully indeed,” replied Daisy cautiously. “Is there anything else?”

      Hamish gave Daisy McCracken a stern look. “Yes indeed. Winnie the Mince's skull was crushed to smithereens in Café Chaps a couple of hours ago after she fell head over heels down the infernally steep staircase on her way to the loo. A suspect disguised as an orange puma was seen fleeing from the scene.”

      Daisy looked flummoxed, but quickly recovered her composure. Was the resident Walter Mitty, 'Judge Antony' in the bar?” she abruptly inquired.

      “Too true. He was wearing his white Cistercian abbot's cloak and cosying up to the Humpty Dumpty barman.”


CHAPTER 4: WALTER MITTYS, VIGILANTES, AND THE LAW