The Canal, The Bar and the Artist | By: Mohammed Muneer | | Category: Short Story - Disney Type Bookmark and Share

The Canal, The Bar and the Artist

With three bottles of banana puree and a petrified chaffinch to keep them going, they set off down the dried up canal, en route to the 'Vaults Bar'. The fish under foot were no problem now, they just sighed as their brains squirted out over their boots, seeping into the canal bed. It was amazing how they lasted so long withought water. Mind you, alcohol was so cheep around here, they probably hadn't even noticed the draught. (Fraudian slip. 'What?' Oh yes)
Once a day he would take the time to wipe the sweat from his oversized umbrella. It really wasn't suited to these long journeys and was showing the strain quite badly now. He hoped it would last the trip. Three years was an awfully long time to spend without even a glimpse of a cloud, and he knew how the poor thing must be feeling. Frustrated.

Further along the way, hunger drove him to desperation, and he unwrapped the small bird, taking an experimental first bite. It wasn't too bad really, but would have been nicer with water to re-hydrate it. Later, his stomach screamed for vengeance at the injustice of it's situation.
He had terrible visions of machinegun toting headless chickens, running all over the place, and shooting at anything they couldn't see. He prayed for sage and onion to save his soul.
Three bowls of porridge, placed on a table at the side of their route seemed a bit too much like tempting fate. The two passed them by, kind of like criminals returning to the scene... except they were innocent. So far.
'Tell it to the judge, along with your inside leg measurment and telephone number'. The old fool never could keep his mind on the job. Three hangings, two castrations, and a string of minor offences in the toilets, that was his average day. Ah well, you'll live. Keep your nose clean and stay well out of the way.

They neared their destination. In the distance they could hear an ice cream van, chiming out 'Ride of the Valkyrie' as it wound it's way 'round narrow streets, selling brightly packaged chilled products and the very finest dessicated coconut. But only if you asked nicely.
They entered the bar, purchased refreshments, and took a seat each, near the window. The walls were stained almost black with tobacco smoke and were lovingly adorned with rabbit snares and man-traps... for when times were hard, no doubt. Over in the opposite corner sat a group of residents from the local institute for the psychologically maladjusted. Their minders watched over them patronisingly.
"Yes well you know, I was going to be a brain surgeon, but they said I wasn't quite steady enough with the soldering iron."
One of her charges looked up at her, hopefully, "Can I have a pint?" he said.
"Oh, I am sorry," she said. Such sincerity was totally underwhelming. "But not with your medication. How about an orange juice instead?" Great substitute. He looked at the floor, defeated.

A man dressed in a long raincoat, with upturned collar, walked in shortly after them, glanced around nervously, and took a seat next to them.
"Are you the one's with the book?" he whispered, conspratorially.
"She is." he said. "Are you the agent?"
"Shhh!!" he said, wincing. "Don't let everyone hear. Have you got the papers with you?"
"Papers?" She looked at him, rather confused. Had they made a mistake? Was this even the right agent?
"Your work!" the agent hissed across the table at her. She passed a large bundle of A4s across to him. He began to read, scanning every single word. Searching for hidden meanings?

He was just considering a discussion on the effects of Japanese high art on D.I.Y. furniture with the woodworm in the table, when a man enterd the bar, catching his eye. After giving the eye back again, with some distaste, it might be added... since it could hardly be subtracted (though quite possibly distracted), the man ordered a drink, and sat a few tables away. Continuing to stare at the man, his eyes widened in amazement.
"Oh my God! I don't believe it!" he gasped, and rushed to get up. The agent was quite startled at this, and whilst trying to duck and look over his shoulder at the same time, promptly fell off his chair.
Rushing over to the man, he gasped, "I just can't believe it. It couldn't really be, could it?" He was looking down at the side of the mans chair. The man looked up, quite taken aback. "A nineteen fifty-six Fantasy Automatic Deluxe!!"
The man picked up the battered looking old brolly at his side, patted it, and placed it gently on the table. "Limited Edition, actually. Notice the polished brass banding on the handle". Pride.
"You can't be serious? Do you know the serial number?" He rummaged in his pocket hastily, and pulled out a copy of 'Which Brolly?', flicking quickly through the pages. She came up beside him, utterly astonished. How many other things didn't she know about him?
"1, D, 1, 0, T." The man read out.
"This is just too much to be real. Did you know that there are only three of these left, not recorded as lost or scrapped?"
"Yes. I'm saving the other two for a rainy day."
"You utter, utter, utter idiot!!" She hit him on the back of the head, pointing to their table. Their 'empty' table. "You've scared him away."
He looked at her sheepishly, then at thier table, the papers lying there, ignored. Then he stuck his tongue into the front of his bottom lip, and in a ridiculous nasal tone, like a wildebeast with a cleft palate, he howled at the top of his voice, "Buy me an ice-cream!!!"
The sad people in the corner looked over at him approvingly. One of thier own.
She looked at them, then she looked at him. Bursting into hysterical laughter, she ran for the door. He followed. "Lets go see my friend the painter."

On reaching the artist's house, they found the door already open, and so walked inside. The huge sculpture sat solemnly in the corner, attacking anyone who came near. Such was it's ugliness, spontaneous retinal damage was inevitable for anyone who had the misfortune to glance its way. Thay gave it a wide berth.
The artist stood in front of the bare canvas. Scratching his nose, he suddenly had an amazing idea... one might say 'a braistorm'. He walked into the kitchen and took out the electric carving knife that was kept in the cupboard. It was the nearest thing to a chainsaw that he could find. Standing motionless, he tried to find the courage to carry out his idea. He knew that after this, his creative juices would be spent... this was the ultimate painting, and nothing better, or more innovative could be accomplished after. His piece de resistance.
He took the knife and raised it to his temple, quickly slicing off the top of his head, to reveal his tortured brain. He had to act swiftly now, so the organ would reach it's target.
He pulled his brain out of his head, making sure he severed the optic nerves, so he could see what he was doing. The bloodied grey mass hit the canvas with a massive slapping sound. It splashed against the walls and dripped down the prepared canvas.
"At last, I can say I have truly suffered for my art." he gasped, as his body slumped to the floor. It gave one last spasmodic twitch as his body fluids mixed with the cerebral remains that dripped onto the floor.
Quickly, they rushed over, unable to believe what they had just witnessed, and for a while, they just stared. Finally, it began to sink in.
"It really is good, don't you think? Perhaps his finest piece even"
"I always knew he'd be good on canvas, if he put his mind to it."
After a while, she said "Do you suppose I should call an ambulance? We can't just leave him here."
"No. Call the MacBurger Queen mortuary. They collect for free. I wonder if we should refridgerate him till they get here though?"

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