Sunday, October 28, 2007

Leida and the Swan

The phone rang. It was my sometimes Marketing Manager. He sounded cheerful. 'Hi Joseph - did you see the review?'

'Yes I did, Mark', I said, flatly.

'Not bad, eh? Should boost sales a bit'

'I doubt it - that reviewer described my writing as "car-crash literature". Who wants to buy into that?'

'She also said it would make an "excellent" gift. Christmas is sown up, my friend. So, what have you been up to? Haven't heard from you for ages. Was your phone off or something? I was trying to get hold of you last week.'

'It's a long story. Have you seen the blog recently?'

'Aah, not as such Joseph. I've been rather busy trying to keep things going here. Very hectic at the moment. So, anything interesting?'

'If you really want to know I suggest you read the last few entries and phone me back.'

'OK. Will do. Stand by'

Thirty minutes later the phone rang again.


'Hello Mark.'

'You got yourself into some deep doo doo there mate, for sure for sure. But here we are talking on the phone, so I guess it all worked out in the end, yeah?'

'yes and no. Do you want to hear what happened?'


OK. Well, the next day was a Monday. I went down to have breakfast as usual with Mrs T, but she wasn't there. All I found was a note which told me that she would be back in the afternoon. I assumed that she must have been called away, so I had breakfast and went outdoors. I was tidying up one of the rose beds about an hour later when it started raining, and I popped indoors to get a waterproof. It was then that I heard a a muffled scream coming from upstairs. This struck me as odd in a number of ways, not least because the house should have been empty...'

'It was the housekeeper!' exclaimed my quick witted Marketing Manager

'Not as such. I walked inside to hear another scream, and quickly ascertained that the noises were coming from the first floor landing. Ascending the stairs, I heard what sounded like a moan coming from the gallery.'

'Oh yeah, let me guess they were all...'

'As you can imagine, my curiosity was piqued. So anyways, I walked down the landing and put my ear to the door. I'd never been inside myself, but Dolores had told me how it was full of erotic artefacts. Of course, she'd never been inside herself, being a bit of prude...

'Too much information my friend!'

'Sorry. I just...anyway - I tried the door and to my complete suprise it opened. The first thing I hear - before I can even get my head round the door to see what's going on - is someone swearing very loudly. Next thing - loud footsteps of someone running towards the door. I barely get my head out of the way before - bang - the door's slammed shut.'

'Ooh, could have been nasty...'

'Messy, for sure. My first instinct is to call the police. But then I think about my previous encounters with them and suggest to myself that might not be the best idea. Also, I didn't have my phone, and I'd never seen a landline in the house. So then I think about running from the place, but have no idea whether that security guard would be watching.'

'Let me guess, you tried the door again?'

'How did you guess?'

'You have a knack of launching yourself into unsustainable situations on the pretext of acting rationally, but really as a result of your intrinsic inability to correctly understand the warning signs.'

'Er, do I? Anyways, I had to really, to find out what was going on. So I turned the handle and opened the door. This time, no swearing. I peek inside and see the contents of the gallery. You ever been to a museum of erotic artefacts, Mark?'

'No, not many of them in Cambridge, as it happens.'

'Well anyways, it was full of what you might expect. Statues, phallic symbols, paintings, etcerea. Moderately interesting if you are into that kind of thing, I guess. Now, like you I expected something to be going on in that very room. But no. Whatever was taking place was happening beyond the gallery. You see, Mark, there was a door at the other end that closed as I stepped into the gallery. I just had to find out...'

'You are either braver or more foolish than me, Joseph.'

'I jogged through the gallery - stopping I must admit, but only once, to admire an original painting of Leida and the Swan - you know the one where..'

'I am aware of the story.'

'Of course. It was a very fine painting - very graphic but very well painted. Anyways, not what I was there for, so I moved on, and finally reached the second door. It was unlocked!'

'No shit - it's like they wanted you to follow them...'

'Well - let's see. So I try the door, and it opens into a completely dark room. I can't see anything for a moment, but then a candle is lit and the whole scene is laid out in front of me...'

'Huh? What scene?'

'OK - how do I describe it - you've seen those old horror films, yes, where the hapless maiden is laid out on a sacrificial altar whilst the high priest is poised with his dagger to make the sacrifice?
'Good wasn't...was it?'

'No. Not quite. But Mrs T was there, lying on a bed, and Stonemason was standing over her, carrying a knife. He was also holding what appeared to be a watermelon. Without even acknowledging my presence, he stabs the watermelon three times and let's the juices dribble onto Mrs T - who, by the way, is fully clothed and in no way restrained.'

'Er, right...'

'He then points directly at me and says - and this is exactly what he says - "Approach, stranger, and make the sign of the order in remedy of the original sin". Do you mean me? I say to him, assuming he must have mistaken me for someone else. At which point he looks over at me and shouts "What the f**k are you doing here?". The door was open, I say. At which point he throws the melon in my direction and tells me to f-off. His aim was so good that the melon caught me right on the forehead, and I fall backwards out of the door. To my complete and utter suprise the back of my head doesn't strike the actual floor, but the knees of someone standing immediately behind me.'

'Good grief...'

'As I fall on the ground I hear the word 'arseschlok' and realise I've just hit the knees of the chef. He bends over and hauls me up to my feet. By this time both Mrs T and Stonemason have left their positions in the room and are standing in front of me. They don't look happy. Stonemason then says to the chef 'You are late, you German idiot. To which the chef says " ja, sorry master - I had food from village Indian last night and today got some bad diarrohea and could not leave the toilet". Mrs T then points at me and says 'he's ruined it. He's seen it, and ruined it. We cannot continue. Under rule 27c, if any employee witnesses the remedy of the original sin, we are tainted once again and must scatter to the four corners of the Founder's Field.'

'A cult!' exclaimed my excited marketing manager.

'Exactly that, Mark. I knew something was up all the time I was living there, but just couldn't put my finger on it. Now, there I was, the central figure in the dissolution of their order.'

'So what happened next?'

They started talking amongs themselves about what to do. This clearly hadn't happened before, and none of them knew what it meant to scatter to the founder's field. Or where the field was. They started getting annoyed and pointed at me a lot. Stonemason suggested they take me with them, wherever they went. I told them that would count as kidnap, to which Mrs T said - "how do you think the rest of us got into this?". Finally, the chef says "This is a complete arseschlok. I'm leaving. Anyone going to stop me?". To which Stonemason says "Under rule 19a, no employee is allowed...". But he doesn't get any futher because the chef punches him to the ground and runs off. Stonemason gets up and thinks about running after the chef, but then Mrs T says "I've had enough aswell. Let's just leave. The owner won't bother to look for us". So then Stonemason holds up his hands and says "OK, that's it. We can't break the rules, so we must disband. Well done, McCrumble. You were destined to join us, but by some unfortunate twist of fate originating from a dodgy curry, you have destroyed us. Leave, before I change my mind. Your belongings are in my room. Tell no-one what you have seen here, or we'll be back.'

'But you're telling me!'

'I'm telling the whole world, Mark. I mean, it was hardly normal up there. They were going to actually kidnap me! I also know they won't be coming back in a hurry.'

'How come?'

'Well, I didn't hang around. I went upstairs for my things, then went to the security hut for my phone. It was on Stonemason's desk, alongside copy of the house rules. I picked both up. Rule 28b clearly states that once the ritual has been tainted, the fellows of the order may never visit the site again.'

'Phew, that was a lucky escape then!'

'Yep. Fortunately Dolores believed my story - I met her on my way out as she was on her way in to start cleaning, and explained everything. She didn't go into work, not surprisingly.'

'So you are back with your family?'

'For now, at least. Penniless again. Dolores remarked at one point that we'd still have an income if I'd let them kidnap me. Well, must go. The twins want me to watch their archery practice. Bye.'

So yes, dear reader. As you may have deduced, I have finally returned to the barn, after uncovering a cult within the manor. I am going to endeavour to put my marriage back onto the right tracks. Dolores has put me on probation, but really I think she might be just a little glad to see me home again. How do I know? Because when I got to telling her what was inside the museum of erotica, I didn't manage to finish my description of Leida and the Swan...



Gorilla Bananas said...

It's an odd way to liberate yourself from bondage, but the proof of the melon is in the head-butting. I think you need to see both a careers adviser and a marriage counsellor.

Anonymous said...

Leida and the Swan. Inspired by Swan Lake and the music of Tchaikovsky how beautiful.... However the sacrificing of a melon in such a manner most disturbing. Hope Delores had your slippers warming by the fire with a box of dates and glass of sherry.


Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

GB - I just can't help getting into such situations, despite my best efforts. Maybe you are right.

Plum - I don't yet understand the significance of the melon. Maybe it was symbolic of the original sin - whatever that was. We can't afford either dates or sherry. The fire was at least lit, until we ran out of firewood.

Anonymous said...

JMC clearly you don't shop at Icelands. Two box of dates for the price of one and a bottle of sherry thrown in for free. Made in China.
As for the Melon well that's probably another story....

Mungo Borealis said...

You clearly need help. Come to us. we have the answers you seek.

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

Plum - If there was a branch of Iceland within striking distance, I probably would make use of it, as our own cold storage is non-existent. We have to use the local stream to keep things cold

Mungo - welcome. I probably do need help, but not in any kind of way I would feel happy about revealing to a stranger.