The Idyll of the Toad and the Princess
Bulbous-faced Wrigley Wallace gave a snort of contented self-approval; draped, as he was, lazily atop floors of hardwood, stained and coloured as weathered oak. His pale arm, hued as damp cedar, rested on the outstretched brackets of a low-rising armchair. His body was limp and twig-like; anchored in stone weight in a floor-to-chair equilibrium, and from this position he croaked, gravelly:
'Inde genus durum sumus, experiensque laborum--' then, halted, he peered across the long, rectangular walls of his parsimoniously adorned bedroom and out the rounded window. Maw fractured open he shifted his stare to the silent silhouette shrouded atop his chest in a sheen of sheets, and suddenly self-aware, finished smirkingly:
'Et documenta damas qua' -huc!- 'simus origine nata.' He resigned himself to chewing his lower lip as he hiccuped in epilogue:
'Or, as Raleigh rhymes' -huc!- 'in his prickish ways; that Deucalion and Pyrrah made men from stone.'
Now eager, his free arm traversed the pathway from his slender torso and slid along the folds of the sheets that rose and fell in time to warm, wet, breathing. The sheets were sun rays, radiating the near-feverish heat of a girl's body that scorched Wrigley Wallace's damp, cold hand. He grinned and slid his thick creamy sausage fingers into the creased crevice between the breasts where the tiny heartbeat pulsated weakly in slumber.
'Rise up, you bonnie bollocks,' he cried, suddenly stern, and unsparingly, gripped the body beneath the sheets and gave it a firm, pinching squeeze. The opaque cloak stirred as the girl leapt up with a cry. An assuredly oneiric fantasy of Cu Chúlainn and the Morrígan wedged between ranks bristling with pikes and halberds was replaced by a banally arboreal landscapes that she regarded sleepily; the grained armchair, the wooden floorboards, the tiny smudged window; the pale man in loose trousers grayed like cloud who wore no shirt but rather a short green coat only a shade lighter than his disgusting lake-fungus eyes. Stifling flames of the most intense and greasy red hair, a black tweed cap was tipped and firmly situated as to prevent the conflagration from escaping. She noted all these surroundings in the crepuscular haze preluding wakefulness, while infuriating Wrigley Wallace each time she closed and reopened her bulging oaken eyes.
He ignored this deformity and began to voice glottally for no evident reason, choking, smashing the blade of his tongue everywhere in his mouth it would fit, while enunciating:
'Tie usi a' -huc!- 'ghoti' from the back of his throat.
'Christ!' shouted the girl, seized from her partial dreaming, and she lunged, offering Wrigley Wallace a brilliant display of her now bed-cloak-uncovered chest, even closer to the fat-faced man, pounding his chest double-time with tiny fists.
'Pfuiteufel!' he cried, 'impious bitch! Was doest thou' -huc!- 'meanest by this?' He lifted his arm from its stump-perch and backhanded her a thunderclap across the ear. She reeled, abated, moaned but once, and, registering his clear articulation, began to giggle. These actions took her but three seconds.
'How you frightened me, you log!' she said before resuming a couchant position across his body. 'Fish rest not on logs. Find yourself a proper perch for company,' he said, hiccups forgotten, sliding her hand roughly from his chest.
Redoubling, she retorted giggling: 'I'm no fish!'
'Fish,' he said and smacked wetly, anticipating the breakfast that could be had on Eden Quay, less than a hundred meters south.
"Snot-green stew with bits of perch. Served rancid daily."
The same proclamation would be read from a number of cobblestone-side outdoor restaurants: from House Quay or City Quay or Burgh Quay, the latter if he wanted to make the walk.
'Yes,' he said, 'Piscis. Piscis;' then; 'thou art no Piscis:' the determination. 'Piscis es sapiens.'
'Pisces,' said the girl; (realization enters STAGE RIGHT), 'But I'm still no fish! I'm a Libra! That's what mum always told me! She said it means 'virgin'.' At high tide, her eyes (Molly. Wrigley Wallace's subconscious reminds. Molly Mulligan) reflected dark sun rays coloured maroon and violet and ebony; wine-dark eyes, the evening seas where Wrigley Wallace swam or floundered or paddled, and washed ashore upon the white shore circumference blistered with red tears of sleeplessness.
So a virgin. 'Sehr schön ist die Ironie,' Wrigley Wallace said once he had come ashore, now avoiding Molly's eyes. Molly Mulligan laughed: unconcernedly, unknowingly, fallaciously, hardly deceptively. She slipped her tongue into his fish ear, drew it back, circled the outer Pinna, and then whispered; 'yes yes yes, and you have the same hailing day as Father Patrick, don't you my fish?'
'Didst thy tell thou of this gestern Abend, meine wenig Schwester?'
Apprehensively, confusedly, a nod spoke all.
'And if I bade you leave the cavern of my mind, would you exercise in the sunlight and wind? Seek those images that constitute the Lion and the Virgin, the Harlot and the Child?'
'I don't know,' was a response, admitting what Wrigley Wallace knew; admitting the girl's discomfort with this tree-branch of a man.
'And why would you, my child? Leave this minnow of a passage for the schools of poets to devour.'
Molly Mulligan turned to fawning as a means of avoiding response. Her slimy pink muscle thus became a bow sliding legato on a defined red cheek. It traversed the Hiberno-British-concavity with vigor, draped the budding face in a layer of transparent froth, and simultaneously wiped away the slime gathered from the muck of the amphibian Dublin proletariat.
What, from this aforesaid Dublin proletariat, did that pink muscle wipe away before the aforementioned Wrigley Wallace struck its presence from his face?
This circular room in St. Richmond Apartment located at 3-6 Eden Quay, Dublin 2, Co. Seagull-Squawking, Ireland was the invariable petri dish that nurtured Mr. Wallace's scum-covered face. Stale, old music rotted through the thin walls that separated Mr. Wallace from his roommate, Mr. O'Mathers. The notes that had been had curdled, and stunk of an apathy to which neither man attributed concern. Discarded Schoenberg, Boccherini, Saint-Seäns, Debussy scores crowded the bare floors in placid oblivion. Thrown up high and dry was a crowd of gnarled and twisted fiddle strings, festering like moss-eaten twigs; and the rotted rosin like rotted sap. The swollen streams of sound had evaporated into cracks of a dusty dried-out riverbed; polyphonies of bird-song died as self-perpetuating Winter committed the genocide of Nature's Music. Worm-eaten food of thought diseased the rooms; diseased ideas infected a bitter mind should they be consumed, drove to psychosis like inhaled saltwater should they be ignored. Consumption led to the premature death of that child known as Passion whose stench became the redolence of the seraphim's censor perfuming the decaying environment; its postMortem musk filled the room for sixteen days before finally decomposing into the wooden floorboards. The cyclical rainfall that evaporated from the diseased grounds infected Passion's child which became the foggy dew that clouded judgment, progress, and clean idea. Infected ideas ran amuck in the host of the thought-fog; this muck filled the dried gaps that had swallowed music, and thus the room became a swamp. From Wrigley Wallace's face was the dusting of burnt-out music and the sheen of swamp-muck, created by the festering of thought and the gradual succession of the forest of proficiency into desert, then marsh. This is what was cleansed by the Virgin's frothy water, and wiped with the Virgin's labor.
Wrigley Wallace's thick-fingered hand rose and enveloped Molly Mulligan's face until she resigned herself to falling, gasping, naked, away from him. He took the moment she struggled to regain herself and admired the white, curved, small Irish body. White tissue; white cloud; white granite. Fragility; touchable beauty; hewn stone, all in a remarkable one. Wrigley Wallace did not register that she had taken a seat upon his lap because she was the cloud; his unconscious hand dared not touch her because she was tissue; he felt hard stone because she was granite.
'Why you do that, my fish?' she purred. She stroked his chest and planted it with kisses; she tossed away his cap and stroked his fiery mane and kissed his chest, descending.
'Quia nominor "Leo".'
'You speak funny, my fish.'
'We speak lion-tongues. The Motherer and the Conqueror.'
'Tell us what you saying, my fish.'
'Si volet usus. Quid obscurum quid divinum.'
'What you say then, my fish?'
'What we have said already before.'
'Why you not tell us then, my fish?'
Descending, she puckered, rounded. Like a Fish: oob oob oob oob oob oob.
'That which is secret is sacred. Exercise in the sunlight and in the wind, and see those images that constitute the Lion and the Virgin and the Harlot and the Child.'
When she rose, Wrigley Wallace delivered his most powerful blow into her face. He felt the shattering of bone; heard the crepitation of the bent nostrils; felt the warm overflow of gorgeously rich ripe crimson envelop his hand. Molly Mulligan screamed in agony and landed, like brick dropped on wood, hard and prostrate, cupping a lake of blood underneath two chipped teeth and a shattered nose. She reeled, squealed, floundered; screamed:
'You bulluk bastarb! You bulluk bastarb!'
Wrigley Wallace watched all of this with implacable fascination; he diverted his most extreme attention to her every movement and squirm; he watched her agony, her wails, and screams; he heard her curses reverberate a thousandfold throughout the confines of his body. Her tiny fists launched in fury and pummeled his grinning toad-face; stinging blows sunk into his flesh like deep kisses; his own blood bathed him in exquisite warmth; he was pleasured as the bones of his nose, twice-shattered, rattled like rainfall, as the fast forming bruises of his cheeks tenderized his face and enhanced his already swollen cheeks.
He watched as she rose haphazardly, and still shouting, grab an imitation-fur lined mantel and a pair of black tights. She threw the coat across her still-naked self, storm out of the room; her teeth, lips, and shattered nostril swimming in overflowing blood. Her eyes, he had carefully noted, had reverted to sunken slants of disdain.
Gone from his cavern, Molly Mulligan left a comfortable silence that Wrigley Wallace relished. His bucolic paradise, the marsh of festering ideas that hid that cracked clay riverbed, was once again intact, safe from foreign harm. This wasteland where there dwelled the desert-dried-out aftermath of too much music; succeeded by the dead bacteria of too-explored thoughts that lingered in scummy ponds and rose in scummy bubbles, was undisturbed by the mental purity that had infiltrated it, and thickened by the newly acquired wisdom that replaced it. Here there dwelled both Lion and Toad; the adept, slender predator who could be both mother and conqueror; the small rounded creature who defended in blood and self-immolation.
Satisfied in many ways, Wrigley Wallace succumbed to the floor and drew from his pocket a thin cigarette which slipped right between his puffed-out lips. Above the red conflagration of his hair rose gradual white clouds: swamp dew over the marsh; dust clouds over the desert.