RHYS DAY. A GOOD STORY WELL TOLD.                                                                                             






RHYS DAY aka Seamus Ambrose Gobshaw*.

Partner at Q.LEMUEL TEMPLETON (of Motley, Bojangles, Froat, Motley & Roust.)

[From behind a mahogany desk so expansive that most parts of it are actually in every other room in the building.]

*The fossilised imprints of trilobites, anemone, nautili, fern-furls and snail-shells etc can be superimposed, holographically, to resemble the scrawl that a Martian worm might make in the sand as it is reluctantly dying in it. This was discovered by accident, when eminent engineer Seamus Ambrose Gobshaw clumsily knocked over a cake-trolley.
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We shall not have succeeded in demolishing everything unless we demolish the ruins as well. But the only way I can see of doing that is to use them to put up a lot of fine, well-designed buildings.

—Pa Ubu




♦*




*A superfluous punctuation.

I first met Rhys Day at a pub; I believe it was called the Swordfish & Sundry Object, a lively den of licentious vice and venturous lice.
    It was secreted away in Orangepip Lane, near the docks, and was the preferred watering hole for drunks, serious drunks, teetotallers, jugglers, buskers and other street performers (even accordion-players and mimes), junkies, mystics, madmen, rogues, harlots, jezebels, orphaned chimney-sweeps and their unorphaned siblings, hornswogglers and charlatans, itinerants, iconoclasts, drunks, and drinkers. And people who needed their story told, matter not the consequences (boredom, etc).
    It was a veritable Island of Lost Souls, except that all of the souls inside weren’t geographically lost, because they knew they were in the pub, because they kept ordering drinks. Also, the pub wasn’t situated on an island.
    The Captain was a finger deep into a pint of ale (it was the index) and drinking fast, or slow. All that I recall is that he had the thousand-yard stare, the million-yard glare, or the three-yard I-dare-you. Naturally, I sat at his table.
    “What ails you, old-timer?” I jested.
    When he quelled my jest with a clenched and forcefully delivered fist I shut my mouth because I was ashamed of my suddenly missing teeth.
    “Have I ever reminisced to you about—”
    “No,” I mumbled, or “Nyaw”, due to imperfect jaw movement. “We just met, just now. I have never heard you reminisce about anything—”
    I was interrupted just in the same way that I interrupted him, except that I used words and he used another fist, the same one as before.
    “Have I ever reminisced to you,” he resumed, after glowering for silence, “about my last voyage?”
    “Nyaw.”





    “I stowed away in the galley-cavity of a floe-crusher called the Saucy Sally. Really, it was in the hope that I would be offered a job. I was running away from the circus, and would have been happy had I been made to walk the plank, or perform other functional duties. If I was marooned on an archipelago with nought but a flintlock pistol and solitary lead pellet for company, I would have shot a sand-tiger for signalling purposes and counted myself lucky for the experience. But it all went rightly wrong, or wrong in the left direction...
    “I recall it as hazily as if it were occurring a mere moment hence...
    “ ‘Twas fair tempestuous and mild maelstromic ‘pon the tall high seas. Not a cloud could be found in the sky: it was far too overcast. Embers of lightning were preceded by whispers of thunder. The galleon was buffeted by tranquillity, and stranded upon a coral reef that was actually just a drifting shoal of idle sea otters. They were having a picnic.
    “We were sailing from Tierra del Fuego to Bristol in search of walrus ivory, and as it turns out we were in the wrong part of the world altogether. I knew the voyage was doomed when the botanist, Symes, reached for his toothbrush and inadvertently snagged a passing albatross instead, and didn‟t notice until he was finished gargling.
    “Terrible things began to happen. The deck-swabbing contingent lost their footing upon their own handiwork, tumbling into the ocean like reluctant lemmings through the absent railing what had been ruptured by a stray cannonball just before the Eleventh Parallel.
    “In a brazen act of mutiny, Murphy, the quartermaster, with intent and without remorse, catalysed a hogshead barrel of pickled mackerel, tainted, to be fed to Captain Quill, who succumbed to instant scurvy. This was followed by many occasions for casual cannibalism.
    “We spoke the Lord’s name in vain regularly, with every meal, and speculated as to the consequences by gambling with the grog rations, shag tobacco, beard nets and one-size-fits-all wooden legs that had become the most crucial currencies aboard the vessel. The relative merit of timber limbs mushroomed a hundredfold on the day that Benjamins died of hopping.
    “It was decided that Lemuel, the harpooner, be detailed to scrape the sprawling accretion of barnacles from the underside of the hull, as they had of late been catching on the more solid patches of water. He decided against the traditional scouring trowel in favour of his harpoon, and, distracted by a mermaid, accidentally impaled himself through the face. His harpooning skills being so adroit, he also skewered Symes and one of the albatrosses that Symes had been brushing his teeth with.
    “After a long night of drinking sea water we suspended the cabin boy, nobody could remember his name, by his shackled ankles from the skeins of rigging around the mizzenmast, then forgot about him completely. Somehow a shark got up there and made short work of him. The shark lived there for the rest of the voyage, and became a kind of mascot.