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Notes of a Professional Voyeur VI - Fiction Serial by Benny Profane

Read Part One Here


Slumped beside me in a heavy lethargic malaise is my sometime drinking companion George.

George is a gangly wisp of a man with an unchanging uniform and strict daily routine that you have to admire.

Measuring around 7ft nothing and weighing well below the appropriate accompanying figure as set out by the concept of Body Mass Index; George is all sinew, sag and sunken skin.

Under his perpetually blood-shot eyes rests two dark and heavy pouches. A grubby five o’clock shadow permanently gilds his emaciated face and

his un-lipped mouth holds within it only a handful of still functioning teeth.

One of these teeth pokes out from the upper right-hand corner of his mouth and displays a substantial blackness at the gum. It is made conspicuous by its presence—as most of his brothers have long since succumbed to the contingencies of time, accelerated through the abuse and neglect of their unfortunate parent.

This tooth’s stubborn refusal to let go of its purchase, especially in the light of its past and prospective treatment, reflects neatly the ambivalence to degeneration that it shares with its indifferent owner—my good pal George.

George’s attire consists of items whose tones and condition reflect the less than picturesque portrait I have painted for you so far.

His shoes are forever caked in dirt and dried mud, and the soles have begun to peel off at the heel. There is a large hole in the toe of the right shoe which I imagine is owing to a combination of an unpruned big-toe toenail and the uneven gait George assumes once mobile.

The token by which George may be clearly identified is his bulky, brown-leather bomber jacket. This jacket is frayed and bust and hums with the smell of a thousand smoked cigarettes. Mingled with this is the stale pong of countless spilled pints that have since dried and crusted and become one with the materials of the garment.

I have never seen him without it. Even on muggy summer evenings when the only available air conditioning is a solitary electric fan in the corner of the pub, when the thick stone walls trap in the heat with a merciless efficiency, and everywhere around are brows in need of matting and shirts inconveniencing their owners with their stickiness; George will still maintain his jacket.

The more I got to know George the more I came to appreciate it as one of those objects that are indelibly associated with its owner; like Lincoln’s top-hat or MacArthur’s pipe.

I soon enquired as to its origin, and was not disappointed with the yarn subsequently spun.

It went a something like this:


‘Well in my youth I was, like many others, shipped off to the Land of Opportunity in search of work and a bit of adventure. The only difference with me is that I made my journey on a rickety old cargo ship that set sail out of Bantry Bay in the spring of ’75.

My family, being hard-up, decided that I should forego the usual passenger route in favour of this much cheaper option. My father’s cousin who worked at the port said he could get me safely to New York if I didn’t mind roughing it in the hull of the ship along with the cargo and the rodents and all those creepy-crawlies.

As reassurance, Cousin Mickey promised to check on me regularly, bring me my daily meals and inform me of the best spots in which to take cover in order that I didn’t get crushed by any of the sizable crates that tended to shift about at night whenever the ship hit rough waters.

Obviously I had my doubts; but when my best pal Bertie heard of my plans he jumped on the idea and insisted on joining me.

Bertie was a bit of a loose cannon back in those days ya see; never quite at home with small town life he was always agitatin’ to get away.

So bucked up by the prospect of a travelling partner I decided to forget my doubts and off we sailed.

Our living quarters left a lot to be desired. The damp scoured over every surface and the cold steel of the crates hindered you at every turn. It was impossible to get any sort of comfort. And as for a good night’s sleep! Forget about it.

The cavernous creek of the ship and the precarious nature of the cargo’s position meant that even if you did manage to overcome the cold, noise and discomfort, you daren’t nod off for a moment in case some cascade of barrels come crashing down on top of you.

Bertie took it all in his stride of course, and we managed to keep each other’s spirits up with the help of marathon games of 45’s and speculative talk of the times ahead.

When we finally emerged from the belly of that miserable vessel it was with relief and joy that we breathed our first lungful of Yankee air.

My mother had told my Uncle Tommy that we were on our way over, and so it was Tommy’s job to get us sorted with digs and a few sponds to start us off.



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