skulduggery

…to act without scruples     

There is a faction in this city. A faction. It has existed for many years. It has hidden itself behind a veil of secrecy, behind closed doors, behind heavily curtained windows and beneath the weight of hundreds of pages of badly written, cliché ridden, and impenetrable prose. It doesn’t even have a name, this faction, this group of like-minded, dissolute, similarly-sinister, equally-nefarious, completely-untrustworthy, wholly-unscrupulous people. And who are they?

No one knows.

What is most nefarious about this faction is that it doesn’t have any objectives. It has no principles. No constitution. No stated or unstated aims. However, it is against everything. But this isn’t an aim or a goal – that it opposes everything. This cabal doesn’t stand for the destruction of everything. It doesn’t stand for anything. Which is not to say that it stands for nothing.

And there the story would end if it wasn’t for the determination and hard work of this reporter. Having uncovered the existence of this faction, I delved further and further beneath the obfuscating words and facts and pictures and appearances of this world around us. Once I got below the surface I saw the world anew. Everything was at once the same but different. The trams were still grey and blue, but they weren’t. Buses lined up on Oxford Road, but they didn’t. People opened and closed their mouths, words came falling out, the leaves on the trees in Albert Square still rustled – but not in the same way.

I feel I have no other choice but to report that it, this, that, them, those, there, it all… it is, in fact, a different world. Things are not, as many people have suspected for a long time, as they seem. You are wrong. Everyone is wrong. Every sentence ever written is not quite right, every word misses its mark, every number is one or two out. Every thought you have, every generalisation you make, every image you have of the world around you, every person you know, fruit you taste, table and chair you kick, flower you smell, bus you catch is something else, something slightly different, something other than what you think it is.

When things had become clear to me in this fashion, everything began to fall into place. I noticed the signs, particularly those signs which were spray-painted on many walls throughout the city, scrawled into tables in coffee houses, and scribbled on the desks in the central library. These were signs which were always there. However, as with signs throughout history, we have ignored them. Not even ignored them, we haven’t even seen them in the first place. But they were there. But it wasn’t for the want of trying. We were looking for them. They were there. But these signs escaped our notice.

These signs have now taken the conventional form of words, terse statements or aphorisms. One such set of words was “You are wrong”, daubed in grease across a takeaway shutter on Chester Road. That made me think. However, these words were ignored by the people shuffling past in the half light before dawn, just as the signs throughout history had been ignored by the shuffling masses. I felt like pointing the words out to them. I felt I should shout from the roof tops – read the signs. But I did not. I went home.

“The thin veneer will crack.” was written into the dust on the back of a truck parked up at the end of my street. I longed to see beneath the veneer. Though veneers are see-through, I reminded myself. They can only distort what is really there, dull the true appearance of tables and chairs and people’s faces. Give the world a kind of sepia tinge. I looked at things more closely, hoping that this thin veneer wouldn’t deny me the truth. Obfuscation must be guarded against. There’s nothing worse than obfuscation that isn’t guarded against.

And then it dawned on me. The faction wasn’t a faction. It was everyone. Or nearly everyone. In the first place there are several people living on my street who I could easily discount. The old woman living next door was highly unlikely to be a member. She couldn’t even hear someone knocking on her door. The man from the pharmacy had to stick his arm through the window and shake the curtains in the front room. My parents, my uncle Joe, and miscellaneous others could also be discounted. But everyone else was in this faction. Which made it not a faction. But the handicapped lollipop lady on Chester Road was certainly not a member either.

“Wanker” was one of the most common words I noted down, which was sprayed as graffiti all over the city. It appeared with many other words in various combinations; however, it was the only word with any real semantic content in the majority of phrases it appeared in. Of course, masturbation is the perfect symbol for this faction, the only activity which is not only unnatural, wasteful, incorrect and unforgivable, but also rife and widespread. It is everywhere. Many have contended that masturbation is what truly makes us human. What other animals masturbate? Monkeys and dolphins masturbate. But with the same frequency? They’d have been eaten by lions or sharks long ago.

This faction is a faction of masturbators, a faction which promotes masturbation in all its forms. A faction which will not be content until masturbation overtakes all other forms of amusement, leaving conventional sexual congress in its wake. Such a solitary and empty activity is the pinnacle of this faction. Spilling the very stuff of life onto the earth, carpets, and duvet covers in every dark corner of this world.

These so called “self-abusers” know no limits. There are no limits to which they will not go. No depths to which they will not sink. Through the dissemination of masturbation as a way of life, this hollow philosophy of masturbation, the sinister cult of masturbation, they will undermine the very fabric of our society. Why are we here? To masturbate. Is that all we are? Wankers?

“This world is a house of cards.” is written in bright blue paint across the back of a marble and glass office-block just off Piccadilly. And so might we feel at our most vulnerable moments, but to accept the precariousness of our existence and our worth as the central truth of our existence is counter productive. But viewing the world as a house of concrete, marble or brick is not in their interests. There is nothing precarious about concrete, as they well know.

And what will happen after this unavoidable but metaphorical scattering of the cards which makes up our world, cards which are in fact made of concrete? What will it mean for the cards to be scattered across the floor? What of the house we have constructed out of them, the world as we see it, as we have made it, which this faction claims imprisons us? It will be no more. And then will we be free? Are we now imprisoned?

When will this scattering of cards literary manifest itself? We may metaphorically have only days left, maybe weeks, months at the most.

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