Francis Bebey

I first met Francis Bebey when I was feeling a bit low, mooching around the house, moving from room to room like a dust mote.

What is up with you?  asked Neal Cassady, who was lying on the sofa cutting his toenails.

Nothing, I said.

You’ve been clattering about giving me a right headache, he said. Haven’t you got something to be getting on with?  I thought you wanted to hunt the Outer Gods with Earnest Hemingway?

I don’t feel like it, I said, slumping down on my second favourite beanbag.

Come on, said Neal. We could strap ourselves to a couple of kites and head to Cloud Nine. Or, nip down to Templemer for a beer.

Sounds like too much effort, I said.

What about The Crimean War? You’ve always wanted to see that?

I’d have to get dressed.

Or, the edge of the world, said Neal, I’m up for a bit of ice climbing.

I went with Jule’s Verne last week. I yawned.

How about graffiti on the Berlin wall?  Or, some rude remarks on the walls of Pompei? Or, a few three-toed footprints in some moon dust? Neil was getting desperate.

No, nope, and no again, I said.

Come on, man. There must be something.

I’m just feeling low energy.

Have a nap and eat some fruit, said Neal. He went back to clipping his toes.

That’s just it, I said.  I can’t sleep, I’ve been having these dreams.  I lurched off the bean bag and went to the window.  Pigeons on the windowsill preened their feathers and lightly cooed.  The sun was setting.  The windows of the houses across the street burned with the red fire of shepherd's delight.  I caught my own reflection.  Haggard, gaunt, bags under the eyes like a blocked drainpipe ready to burst.  Am I getting tired of this? I asked.

Of what? asked Neal, as he tried to sever a toenail that looked as thick as a bible.

This world, I said.

Neal perked up.  Yesterday, I was down the washroom and I noticed a portal to Hell had opened up, he said. We could go check out one of the next worlds?

No good, I said. I went there. Turns out Hell is New York in the summer of 1978.  I did meet a pretty good beatboxer though.

Neal thought about this for a moment. I think I know how to sort this, he said. He opened his flip phone and started dialling.  Francis?  He said into the handset.  Yeah, it’s Neal.  You good?  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Got a mission for you.  Yeah.  Miserable as a Seaworld dolphin.  Yeah.  East side, near Don Romer’s gaff.  Yeah.  Same place.  He hung up the phone.  He’ll be here in ten, he said.

Who? I asked.

Francis Bebey, he said. You’ll love him.

How come I haven’t met him before?

You don’t know everyone I know, said Neal. You haven’t even met William Burroughs.

That’s on purpose, I said. I heard he’s a twat, and he stole David Harvey’s favourite compass.

Second-favourite, said Neal.

I went to the bookcase and idly scanned the shelves, hoping to find something new, something I hadn’t read before.  No hope. I had written them all.  Do you think we’ll ever get bored of eternity? I asked.

Answer that, said Neal.

Answer what? I asked.  There was a knock at the door.  Following Neal’s premonition, I went and opened it to find a man with a smile that would slice grapefruit.  He was holding a guitar.  Before I could say anything he burst into song, singing The Coffee Cola Song from the album Pygmy Love Song(1982).  When he finished I hugged him.  I ran into the house and hugged Neal.  I ran back to the front door, put Francis Bebey on my shoulders and paraded him around the living room.  Play it again, I said.  He did, and all three of us danced in the evening light, whooping and hollering with the joy of life.

This was exactly what I needed, I said, when Francis finished.

Thanks Francis, said Neal, I can't stand it when this guy is down in the dumps.

A soul in need of music, said Francis, is a soul I can save.  Now, I’m going for ice cream. Do you guys want to join me?  I know a great place in Hungerford Market.

Let’s go, I jumped up, full of energy, my low mood a distant memory.  I caught my glowing reflection in the mirror, my eyes lively as children's poetry.  After that ice cream, I said to Neal and Francis, do you fancy nipping over to R’lyeh to give Cthulhu a good kicking?

He’s back, said Neal, giving me a high five.

I owe you two so much, I said.

I’ll take it in rubies, said Neal.

You owe me nothing, said Francis. What are we here for, if not each other?

This guy, I said, hugging him, and we’ve been friends ever since.

The post that directly follows on from this can be found HERE

Comments

  1. Love the Lovecraft references! Im goin to have to listen to Francis Bebey now!

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