An extract from

Obsequies For Lars Talc, Struck By Lightning

by Frank Key


Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in memory of Lars Talc. How can I do justice to the memory of such a man? Let me say this. He owed me a great deal of money. He was covered in dust. He couldn't tell the difference between a heron & a moorhen. He never learned the rules of ice hockey. He was often plagued by mysterious boils. He had a scar on his left shin. He confused the different metallic elements. His hair was often unkempt. He set fire to a bible. His pigs were neglected. Adept at pingpong, he weighted his bat. He once suffered from scrofula. His tent had many holes. He never wore a hat. His gas bills drove him crackers. He spoke umpteen languages. His mother told me he was terrified of swans. Geology was beyond him. He hankered for doilies. He counted toads. His bath was made of tin. His first marriage was disastrous. He could not ride a bicycle. He spat out mayonnaise. He avoided paying for hotel rooms by clambering down fire escapes. Once he built his own bridge. He burned himself in effigy. He loved to eat turnips. He often drooled. His thumbs were deformed. Rust and rime engaged his attention. He was much travelled. He designed his own pen-nibs. He kept a photograph of Ricardo Montalban in his bureau. His eyesight was atrocious. Candles have been lit for him. His credentials were spotless. He punched a fishmonger. He gutted huts. Linctus slithered down his throat. He owned dozens of fret-saws. He thought the moon was his lover. In Didcot he wept. He fed flamingos with cream crackers. In certain circles his name was mud. He kept his gutta-percha in a gunny sack. The sight of geese made him anxious. He smoked cheroots. He re-counted toads. He held aloft a blubber-lantern on the banks of a duckpond. His saliva was bitter. Taxes were levied upon him. He had a zest for crumpled things. In parks he pondered. He bit his fingernails. He chewed spinach. At a pinch he would talk for hours on the subject of straw. He wiped his bottom with leaves. He wrote a book about gnats. He mumbled through a tube. Things dangled from the ceiling of his boudoir. He lost on the horses. He wrapped a tortoise in blankets. As a youth he survived on crusts. His father painted difficult maps. Often he behaved like a madman. Twigs and branches fell unremarked in his garden. Rowing held no allure for him. He dabbed at his brow with ointments. He was fond of cormorants. He coaxed mice from their nooks. He was knocked down by a runaway bus. Clods of earth surrounded him. He could be petulant. He strained things in a muslin net. He pulverised a diving board with his bare hands. Morse code baffled him. He nearly became a marine. He moved his arms towards the lake. Under a cow tower he looked at planks. He overcame his stutter. His sheep had worms. He crossed himself. He played at bagatelle. He spied a crocus. He fainted. He snored. He panted. He sprayed. His stomach. His hearing aid. His cuffs. His gristle. His sponge. His batteries. His hardship. His chutney. His paths. His windows. His calcium. His rudders. His vinegar. His seeds. His nettles. His sores. His stool. His plastic. His incandescence. Autumn. Shipwreck. Curtains. Exile. Frost. Balconies. Pandaemonium. Hedgerows. Banisters. Carpets. Hinges. Remembrance. Hair. Custard. Dribble. Fanfares. Dampness. Bauxite. Trousers. Canals. Boskage. Lasciviousness. Tunics. Spigots. Iron. Cranks. Floozies. Doppelgangers. Tin. Bales. Agony. Loss. Lust. Love. Crack. Bang. Crunlop. Lars Talc is dead.