Now, I know that you have formed an opinion of Peadar Mooney: a scurrilous, garrulous windbag who doesn't do a day's work if he can help it but, yet, is possessed of a remarkable agility of body and mind should the occasion require – though it must be admitted that Mrs Mooney, chatelaine and matriarch of the Mooney Household and assorted dependencies wouldn't recognise the 'remarkable agility' one little bit; but hey, what stayed his left foot before it could score that goal with Martin Elginbrod's rather bashed head? it was the occlusion of his windpipe caused by an unseen hand, the materialising from the night-time gloom of several potential witnesses, and more forcibly even than those factors, another hand using his right ear as if it were the tongue on an African likembe, the entire effect being to produce a strangulated and plaintive: "yeeeow, vaaat eeee fooooock d'yeeeese vaaaaant?"
Now, Peadar Mooney's first thought as he snatched the bundle from the jaws of the Salisbury Crags and the yawning chasm beneath, was that it was an urban fox, but rejected that instantly: there'd been no "Hallooo!" no pounding hooves, no battue with it's army of beaters, and it was too fuckin' cold – say what you like about them, Edinburgh's urban foxes are a canny lot, too canny to bother with Arthur's Seat while there are KFC and Big Mac and Dominoes within a two minute walk of each other, not to mention a dozen traditional Chippies, several of them offering Pizza or Kebab and anything you like between two halves of a roll! - and anyway, now he came to look at it, it was too big for any of the foxes Peadar knew lived within a square mile of his essential triangle: Home, the Burke and Hare, and Easter Road, the Holy Ground to a dedicated Hibbee often encroached on by those few Edinburgh Papes too miserly to travel west to Parkhead when they can cheer on the local Bhoys for the price of a bus; so what the fuck was it? now the born trombenik isn't going to waste too much time on a puzzle when he can slouch away and invent the missing details for the audacious yarn he will spin at The Burke, but something intrigued Peadar, so he lit a fag and then used his lighter to survey the object: a fucking mannequin, probably from a bin at the back of Next or Top Man! but then his eyes were drawn to the head, first, to an ugly purpling bruise with the kind of swelling a plastic head wouldn't sport, next, the face itself and he almost dropped the lighter as if he had seen Ould Nick himself, or an ouphe, exchanged for a human child; no, he knew this face: "in the name o the wee man!!!" he gasped, "sure somebody must want ye croaked, ye ould fuckin bastard Elginbrod!" hissed Peadar, looking at the unconscious face of the arrogant, posturing lawyer who'd represented Peadar's arch enemy, Malachi Pentland, the Jam Tart millionaire over a private parking space and won, costing Peadar thousands and his reputation – he had a good idea of what to do and that started with his left foot drawing back ready to score a goal with the lawyer's head, when it was suddenly stayed!
Now, Peadar Mooney was undeniably a trombenik, on both counts: as a retired horse dealer who never missed a match at Easter Road and spent the days in-between, praising or castigating the Hibs players, Manager and Directors to a man, he was economical with his actions and his money and in point of fact, as probably one of the wealthiest Hibbees in the entire city, he dressed as he had always dressed in his dealing days, as a fair approximation to a tramp; indeed, his exiguity with the spondulux, the lucre, the cash – he never had a bank account and was always a cash-only man, which probably accounted for the fact that he never paid a penny in income tax in his puff, but that's not strictly relevant here – meant that he preferred to travel by shanks's pony rather than an outrageously costly taxi, and alhough he had a home, built of bricks and mortar, and superintended by a Mrs Mooney, his life had always been lived al fresco - except when a man required a pint of draught - and it was also a way of minimising the time Mrs Mooney could order him about - and so, he was ever fond of nocturnal wanderings, never far from his home on London Road and tending to be based on a rough circle with the Easter Road ground at it's centre; and it was thus that wandering through Holyrood Park in the darkling time which comes so early in November and December, he became an unwitting zeitgeber when he spotted a bundle rolling down from the summit of Arthur's Seat and silhouetted against the bright moon: he saw at a glance that it's momentum and direction made it quite possible that it would be travelling at such a speed in it's descent that it could carry on up the slope opposite and tumble over Salisbury Crags onto the rocks below (and if it was of any value, it would be snaffled before Peadar managed his arthritic way down there by the Radical Road) oh, he had learned much from his years contesting Referee's decisions from the safety of the Stands, and the actions of a rolling object were a peach to man with Peadar's eye and speed of calculation honed over fifty years as a buyer and seller of horse-flesh; so it was with commendable reflex for one normally so slow and dignified in his movements, that Peadar hurled himself in an impromptu imitation of a Goalie, not directly at the object, but at that point where his clutching hands would grab it and stop it dead!
Already, his nerves at concert pitch, Martin Elginbrod felt himself thrilled by an ariose which may have originated within his own head, or been sung by his Alien Abductors, but it entwined with a strange booming from a cornucopia or conch, blown on a distant shore, on a distant world, galaxy or universe even – and he wondered if they were going to give him a dose of climatotherapy, take him on the trip of a lifetime; Heaven or Hell, he was in other hands!
I've been abducted by Aliens! screamed Martin Elginbrod inside his head, fucking Aliens! it's true, all those loonies in America and all over the world, it's only fucking true and they've picked ME! for crissakes, ME! and then he wondered how they could have orchestrated the events of that day, which led, inexorably, his steps to the very top of Arthur's Seat, and then WHY? and he remembered the remora, the snake symbol, on his family Coat of Arms – a pretty penny that little slither had cost, and he wasn't thinking of the symbol, but rather the Lord Lyon King of Arms, what was his name? he was a stopgap, just a short tenure because someone was indisposed, but he held out his greasy palm and Elginbrod crossed it with silver, or a wad of untraceable notes to be precise; a right noisome little toad of a man, what was his name? oh, yes, Runne, that was it, Sir Osbert Hamish Runne, a fucking Solicitor Advocate like me! a fellow Writer to the Signet and he copped me for a packet! oh well, partner in Smash, Grabbit and Runne, what can you expect, though old Syd Smash was likeable enough, and Gilbert Grabbit always stood a round, not like Runne, he was always at the bog when his turn came up; wonder where he is now? probably Nyasaland, or whatever it's called now, full of cannibals I hope; and then, the thought struck him: maybe these ones eat People! oh fuck, boiled alive, or roasted on a spit over a fire! oh well I hope I'm zamzawed and they all get sick and die, serve the fucking bastards right!!!
At least, thought Martin Elginbrod to himself, I seem to be alive, so that is something to be upbeat about and he spent some time wiggling his extremities in a rather simplistic belluine kind of way, although as it seemed he was either blind or in a completely darkened place, it was perforce an unsatisfactory exercise, being unable to see them, and he remembered stories of people with phantom limbs, imagining that they could wiggle the toes which were no longer there and then it flashed across his mind like a lightning bolt that his eyes were simply shut and so he suddenly opened them but the glimpse of those who were studying him, perceiving him as simply an othering, a specimen, a fat, unfit, ugly representative of the Human Race made him shut his eyes again as tightly as he could, blush to his scant roots and wish himself dead!
"Where am I?" or at least, that was what Martin Elginbrod meant, but what actually came out was a kind of borborygm, a belch or a fart, and the voice in his ear whispered: "not so self-assured now, without our henchman to watch our back, are we? why, fiddlesticks! not only no Minder, not even your propugnaculum – what is an Advocate sans his wig and gown? an ordinary mortal – if they prick us, do we not bleed? you've bled plenty in your sordid scurrilous life, ain't you dearie?" the voice tone and syntax changes unsettled him even more than the weightless, floating sensation, that reminded him of an afternoon spent – oh, some 25 years ago, he supposed – in the Edinburgh Flotarium, in Stockbridge, but wherever he was now, it was certainly no Flotarium!
Only it wasn't, not really, revealed that is, to Martin Elginbrod after his strenuous climb to the top of Arthur's Seat, discreetly pursued by Riddle Rankine, Felix Rosenstiel, Dixie and Bunty O'Hooligan, all of The Justice League of Auld Reekie, not to mention other eyes and ears in disparate parts of the Universe that just happened to be watching and listening; the Elginbrods were a sept of the MacFarlane Clan and, ever since the first Martin Elginbrod had come south from his home in Elgin – where his body was returned for burial under the headstone with it's famous inscription (look it up for yourself) - to rise to the top of the Legal Trade, Elginbrods had been one of the main powers behind the city: not for them any dreams of becoming a Deacon, Baillie, or Lord Provost, of standing for election to the Town Council or it's more recent successors, they preferred to manage their control from the shadows; Martin remembered a boy in his year at school whose father was Lord Provost and who dreamt for his son the same position, but Martin already knew that his own father owned that boy's father as, in maturity, Martin now owned that boy, the present Lord Provost; this is no flapdoodle, for in a monopsony, a market with only one buyer, the seller is caught by the throat and Martin's grip on the throats of all the men he owned was like a vice; and yet here he now sat, smoking a cigar, on the very pinnacle of the great hill which looms over the city, at the mercy of the one who owned him; the susurrous whisper of the grass in the breeze which gusted around him, the whispering grass, carried messages which he strained to catch, believing that they were of that branch of pataphysics which had guided him through his life; he knew all about Sir Parlane's mastery over Time Travel, and had his own terrifying memories of it, but had preferred to remain here, in his own lifetime, while MacFarlane and Doubleday roamed through the centuries and entertained him at their regular reunions with their tales of adventure, conquest and blood; yes, he was squeamish, always had been, always would be, but at second hand he relished the detail and was always ready to refill their glasses and elicit more; hush, there was a distant click – quite distinct from the natural whispering in the wind, and he turned to peer towards whence it had come, which was when a hand clasped his shoulder and a voice hissed into his ear: "not here, not now, too many eyes and ears," and all Rankine and Rosenstiel saw was a shimmer, like the Aurora Borealis but too close to be that, and Elginbrod was gone; they ran to the top, closely followred by the O'Hooligan twins and the only thing that remained was a still glowing cigar on the ground where it had been dropped!
"I'm a wicked, wicked woman," wailed Sadie Siddons as she wept before Dr Jekyll, "wickedest as ever was, to let such an abomination of a man wind me round his little finger, entice me away from my old Pa's seasteading an teck me to London, interdooce me to a life of vice an depravity, use me an abuse me an meck me find other gels for 'im to ruin as 'ee ruined me, an that bonnie lass, poor young Gracie, the goodest, purest, finest little soul as ye could find who looked to me when she funded herself alone in a strange place, trusted and believed in me as I tinked 'er morals an' b'leefs an' prepared 'er for 'im an' 'is friend Mister Walter to 'ave fer they're pleasure an' makkin' out that they loves 'er an' cares fer 'er same as they done to poor wee Minnie Bannister knowin' full well that when they've lost interest they'll jest 'ave me put 'er on the streets to sell over an' over again to their kind o' so-called gennlemen, an' it's all my fault!" she howled, until Jekyll managed to squeeze his voice in while she took a long and deep breath: "dear Miss Siddons, cast aside a' thon flapdoodle, it is neither your fault nor that o a little moose wha bides ahent the wainscotin; ye can be exculpated o a' blame, ah assure ye – evil men like MacFarlane and his freend hae sich a wey wi theirsels that they impress an deceive wi the facility o confidence tricksters an politicians, they ken fell weel hoo tae spin their webs an' ensnare wee slips o lassies, an grown wimmin tae, an men an' a' iffen they've a devious bent aboot their desires – an they come fae a class as has power an social staunin an money as weel, enuff tae turn ony bairn's heid an iffen they jist spot the tiniest chink in yer armour, even a merrit wummin wi bairns an a husband, that's them through it an ye kin dae nothin aboot it fer like the skilled fisher wi his hook, he's caught ye an there's no a damn thing ye kin dae tae save yersel efter that, no alane that is, an comin here lookin fer Gracie is the first step oan yer road tae self-salvation an self-actualisation!" and through her shining, tear-soaked eyes, Sadie gazed enraptured at the good Doctor who had shown her the truth and the way and the light, had removed the weight of the guilt she had loaded about herself and set her free!"
"Ye canna bamboozle me, Miss Siddons, am urny gien tae sideromancy, palmistry, belief in Bogey Men or aw things supernatural, as a Doctor o Medicine, ye'll ken that ma beliefs are in the Sciences as opposed tae Seances," said Dr Henry Jekyll, not aggressively but rather in that calming voice which has become associated with the term, Bedside Manner but in his case was a natural, innate and comforting way of being; he continued: "ah ken much aboot yer protector, Sir Peveril MacFarlane; ah ken he's whit in common parlance micht be ca'd a high roller, a gadaboot, a big spender, even in some circles, a gentleman, in others a cad, a procurer of wimmin, a ruiner of maidens an the enemy of conjugal love; he resorts wi ither rakes and pursues until he obtains, by seduction, promise, deceit or coin, ony wummin or girl wha taks his fancy, catches his e'e, or simply happens to be in the wrang place at the wrang time; he never taks NO for an answer, regarding it merely as a delaying tactic; but his danger is greater than ony ithers, for he has discovered the secret o Time Travel an has spent the last ten or twenty year in a hunner ither years, past an future, combined wi an ability tae move from ane continent tae anither as weell as movin through Time; somewhaur in the depths of your soul Miss Siddons, ye may believe that he truly does love ye, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that while he enjoys the boadies o ither wimmin an children, he regards yours as his favourite – and perhaps he does, when he is wi ye; but when he's no with you, Miss Siddons, whaur is he? and whae is he wi? the truth is he may be in France in the 17th century, in Russia in the 20th, in the Americas in the 18th, in the East Indies in the 23rd; nane of this is fanciful, a' is documented, ah hae the proof; but whit use does it avail me? this is 1868, a crime committed in 1968 has no happened yet, anither in 1768 cannae be prosecuted when a' the witnesses are deid lang syne! oor courts hae nae jurisdiction ower ither countries, let alane continents, so the man goes untouched, an even if it were possible tae bring charges agin him here, noo, today, what wud happen? shall ah tell ye, Miss Siddons? he wud decamp, as ye micht say, he'd scarper, up sticks, scram. disappear, go up in smoke! for he has that ability, tae transcend Time an Space, which is denied tae the rest o us – although yer young freend Grace Lang is somethin o an exception, fur she wis born Lady Griselda o Langformacus, close tae ma ain faimly hame, but some 700 hunner year afore, so ye micht say ah hae a vested interest in her case, no as a Doctor per se," which was when Sadie, with a puzzled look on her face, asked: "oo's ee then? this Doctor Percy? wot's ee gorra do bout it?" and Jekyll laughed and patted Sadie's hand: "weel said, Miss Siddons, touché! we doctors are ower fond of wur Latin, whether in medical matters or considerin the supper menu, so ah'll try tae stick Latin phrases in my pipe and smoke em! no, ma interest in Griselda is that o a concerned neebour; ah ken the descendants o her brither Gibby, ah ken o the terrible rape an murder of her beloved sister, a nun, Sister Evadne Eglantyne, committed by that self-same MacFarlane in his true name, an ah ken the pain that has tormented her faimly for the past seven hunner year, a rapist an murderer never been confronted wi his guilt, a faimly losin ane dochter in an oubliette in Embra an another simply vanished aff the face o the Earth; so mony questions unanswered a' that time; so a' o thon an mair comprise ma interest an determination tae dae whit little ah may tae gie that faimly Justice!" and to his surprise and some shock, Sadie Siddons fell to the floor before him and wept upon his knees!
"Oh! the puir wee diddy!" cried Nurse Jekyll, Doctor Henry's sister, "whit a whigmaleerie, I never thocht tae hear fi ane sae young!" and she called the housemaid, Phemie, to fetch smelling salts and then run to the fruiterer for a lemon, "that'll bring her tae her senses," said Nurse Jekyll, but Dr Jekyll fixed Sadie with a penetrating gaze: "it's no tomfoolery, is it, Miss Siddons?" and though she wanted with all her being to deny Gracie's outburst, though she wanted to defend her protector, Sir Peveril, she could not face up to the Doctor's inherent honesty and she lowered her eyes, silently shaking her head then threw up her apron to cover her face, hide the red guilt which suffused her cheeks and burst out weeping, though for Gracie, for shame or for herself, she hardly knew; and the Doctor's sister lifted Gracie to her bosom and carried her out of the parlour to lay her on the day-bed in the small sun-room at the garden side of the house, while Henry lit his pipe and waited patiently for Sadie to stop crying, knowing from his years of experience that the dam having burst, the river must flow it's own course and no intervention would succeed until the waters ceased of their own accord.
"In my humble opinion," said Dr Henry Jekyll to Gracie Long – actually, as assiduous readers know, the Lady Griselda of Longformacus, accidentally whizzed by a Wormhole through the Space/Time Continuum from Tavish Dalwhinnie's cloak in 13th Century Edinburgh to a wardrobe in London's Drury Lane in the 1880s, much as a Snake will transport a player's counter from Square 89, all the way down the length and breadth of the Board to square 2 – and her dear friend, owner of the wardrobe and mentor in the Game of Harlotry, Miss Sadie Siddons, who had just half an hour ago knocked at the Doctor's door in search of her missing Ward, "this man Sir Peveril MacFarlane, is none other than the Evillest Man Who Ever Lived, the Fiend of Fiends, that inveterate recalcitrant, the hydrophobic Phantom Raspberry-Blower of Ye Olde Londone Towne, Sir Parlane MacFarlane!" there was a shocked silence in which the ticking of the Grandfather Clock in the lobby seemed to echo around the house, gaining momentum as it swirled through the rooms, and each person's heartbeat seemed to by sucked into it, as lava spouting from a quaquaversal volcano runs down every slope carried by both gravity and it's own terrible momentum until all is obliterated; and Dr Jekyll's delicate but strong surgeon's hands toyed with an old rustic thatcher's legget, tapping it on his desk in time with all those other thuds and thumps until Gracie leapt to her feet, hands to her ears, cried "No! No! the Dastardly Devil! he ravished and murdered my own sister, Sister Evadne Eglantyne! save me from his clutches!" and fell to the floor in a swoon!
You might want to dismiss Hyman Z Kaplan as a huckster, a purveyor of fallalery – albeit in the political arena where he had positioned his candidate as an unabashed heresiarch, a proud non-politician taking on the seasoned politicos at their own game, and going on to lose the popular vote by several million votes but scoop up the Electoral College votes, the only votes that really count, where they counted most, to win by several furlongs; that strategy took chutzpah and Kaplan and Trumpet-Trousers had that aplenty – but remember the old adage that it takes a skunk to smell a skunk in the dark: well,
as he learned a few more details of the double tragedy, the car wreck on the railway level crossing and the home burned to the ground, and read the invitations for companies to bid for tenders to carry out various works as part of the development of a major new Tourist Attraction, smack bang on the site of the burned-out house, Hymie smelt the most rancid skunk he had ever encountered and wasn't in the least surprised when Rose Mitnick carried out a search on the succession of shell and holding companies behind the proposed development and identified the ultimate sole proprietor to be none other than Sir Parlane MacFarlane, Laird of MacFarlane County and owner of the Clan MacFarlane Castle Hotel and Health Spa, in which they were presently resident, together with Sadie Moskowitz, Detective Inspector Isa Urquhart and Detective Sergeant Milly Millican of Police Scotland; now that they had something to work on, the various tasks were distributed and like ferrets, they set about digging!
And while these various devious and nefarious plans were being laid deep under the triple-peaked Eildon Hills – though they had no names other than The Cavern, The Tunnels and externally, The Three Plooks, for Melrose lay well in the future unlike the present episode which took place this very afternoon, November the 9th, in The Year of Our Lord. 2038, when Hyman Z Kaplan, formerly Chief Speech-writer and Huckster to Donald Duck Trumpet-Trousers until the day of his inauguration as POTUS when he was summarily dismissed by Tweet, called a Council of War in his bedroom in Clan MacFarlane Hotel, where he was joined over a pot of arrowroot tea by his good friends, Rose Mitnick and Sadie Moskowitz, together with Inspector Isa Urquhart and Sergeant Milly Millican, both of the Scottish Borders Police; Hyman got the ball rolling be confiding to them that . . . . . which was when he received a phone call from his Scotch friend, and after he ended the call he said: "a couple celebrating heir wedding anniversary and their taxi driver were killed last night when their car was hit by the Quebec Express, a faulty signal on a notorious level crossing – apparently people have been complaining that it was an accident waiting to happen; but that same night the couple's home burned down with their two daughters, the sitter and the wife's mother all in it, at the same time that the train hit the taxi! miraculously all the folks in the house were saved by MacFarlane County Fire and Rescue and are at the hospital; strange co-incidence if you believe in them, eh?" and Sadie commented: "pure boustrophedon if you ask me, Hymie, but who's writing it?" at which Isa asked: "who's responsible for the level crossing? is it the railway or the local authority?" at which Hyman held up a finger: "all roads, crossing, bridges and so on in MacFarlane County are the property of and come under the jurisdiction of the Laird, our esteemed friend Sir Parlane MacFarlane – or whatever alias he's using at present!" and Milly Muttered: "oh, he's such a Nice Nelly, who could possibly doubt his innocence?" and then: "me for one!"
MacFarlane went on to describe in some detail the guardianship he had acquired in a part of Prince Edward Island, off Nova Scotia in Canada – all of which was quite beyond the ken of his audience: Nigel, Digby and Percy; but when he spoke of the feats of derring-do in which he had overcome many obstacles, making extensive use of what he referred to as Worm Holes in the Space/Time Continuum which, he firmly believed, he was to only person, ever, to work out how to use them in a controlled way, they were completely baffled and in danger of sinking into that form of melancholia in which one realises that all is lost, there is no way to turn, and every scent one follows is merely a heel-way, leading one further and further from one's prey! but – no matter: he was proposing to take the entire tribe, genetically Neanderthals with a sprinkling of human genes which he had sown personally during his many visits and extended sojourns in their company; they would form a chain, hand to hand, with Nigel in the middle and Digby and Percy as the fore- and end-members and, so long as the hands are kept tightly clasped right along the line, they would all arrive on Prince Edward Island in the latter part of the 21st Century, where he had already built them a Stone Age encampment in a protected site which would draw anthropologists and tourists from around the world, to watch them live, work and play and Special Honoured Guests would have the chance to become intimately acquainted with members of the Clan according to their personal tastes – a unique offering added to the delights of the Clan MacPherson Hotel and Leisure Centre which was Sir Parlane's personal pride and joy!
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