who do you want to be?
where do you want to be?
CATHETER HAD TOLD CASSIUS CROON, one dark and dreary night, that over there in Holland there was a man whose skin was green as moss and the scientists were mystified as to how it happened. The man was a Ukrainian but he had fell Dutchward when the EU expanded east and now he was making it as something of a comedian. Cas Croon heard Mr Catheter give his piece and then thought aloud: <<So what? there are freaks born every minute. What's this got to do with national security?>> It was a dark and dreary night, and Croon had plenty of other dark and dreary things to do.
<<The scientists have diagnosed a complete melanin mutation>> Catheter said imperiously. <<Don't you understand what that means? In case you haven't noticed, green skin isn't a trait commonly found in humans. Plenty of green parrots and lizards, to be sure, but human skin is more limited in its pastiche. So why is this guy green? A bit of underground genetic engineering? A biological experiment by some budding Islamic terrorists? You can see the national security implications here, if you only open your goddam eyes!>>
SO IT CAME TO PASS THAT CROON left swinging London for the canals and teahouses of Amsterdam (one of his favourite cities, and not just because of the hash!) First port of call was a pothouse where he was greeted by a creature of dubious sex (perhaps a former eunuch of the Turks, with a glabrous face and a mouth so small you would have said he smiled only by moving his nose.)
The room Croon stole into was frightful thanks to the smuts from a pile of bones burning in a smouldering fire. In one corner a naked corpse was hanging by its feet, secreting a nettle-coloured liquid from its genitals into a mouth-shaped copper basin. Nice look Croon thought, and made for the staircase.
Upstairs there was a hashhouse and iceparlour filled with various imported riffraff (Ethopians, Somali refugees, terrorists.) The room looked like an apothecary's shop, filled with jars of clay, glass, tin, real Norwegian ice and copper. All were filled with substances which served to alter the aspect of their users: crones who wanted to feel young and beautiful, miscreants and homeboy thugs who wanted to contemplate the true nature of the Universe. There were rouges, emoliants, immoliants, asphodel roots, tarragon bark, and a substance made with stag marrow and water of honeysuckle that dissolved the ego. There were also plenty of bodyaltering substances. Tatoeba -- pastes to blond the hair, a mixture of green ilex, rye, white horehound, soda niter, alum, and yarrow; or to change the complexion there were compounds of stallion, bear, camel, snake, rabbit, whale, mare, bittern, doe, wildcat, and otter. Also an oil for the face made of styrax, lemon, pinenut, elm, lupin, vetch and chickpea, and a shelf of bladders with which strumpets could seem like virgins. Croon nodded his head appreciably towards this. For those desperate to ensnare a lover they had viper tongues, quail heads, asses' brains and asses, pilewort, badgers' paws, stones from an eagle's nest, hearts shaped in tallow thick with needles, and real saliva from Chucky Poong and other notables. I kid you not!
Croon was about to take a peep at that green ilex (and hopefully swab some kind of sample) when the eunuch cleared his/her throat, and said: <<May I be so bold, sir, as to enquire the nature of your visit? If you came here to get high, we have a special on nosebleed cocaine tonight. Or if you are in need of a facelift...>>
<<Do you think I am in need of a facelift, eunuch?>> Croon said, really (and actually) offended. No joke!
<<Well...>> The Eunuch twiddled his cufflinks. <<It is an indeterminate face, if you don't mind me saying, me'Lord. I couldn't for the life of me determine where it is you originated from, if you pardon me saying, and all apologies. That swagger of yours, for example, seems deadon New Swinging London, which is why I am speaking this archaic style of English. But you could just as easily be a Chinese rebel leader, so I am not sure how I should react, so as to mould myself to you.>>
Croon thought for a minute that he had discovered his soulmate. What was this, some sort of mirror here? But whereas this dude was Eunuch, Croon was primebeef stud -- everybody knew that. So he said, in an imperious tone: <<My origins are irrelevant, Knave, so I command you to do my biddings. Take me to the chairman of this den. It is not a facelife I require, but a full body metamorphosis. I hear he is the world leader in this brand of magic.>>
<<Of course, me'Lord>> the Eunuch said, and without further ado he was led up a small waiting ladder, to the Alchemist's Loft.
Clocks. Waterclocks, sandclocks, solarclocks propped against the walls, but especially mechanical clocks arrayed on various shelves and chests, clocks moved by the slow descent of weights and counterweights, by wheels that bit into other wheels, as those bit into still others, until the last wheel nipped the two unequal blades of a vertical staff, causing it to make two half-revolutions in opposing directions, its indecent wiggle moving, as balance, a horizontal bar fixed at its upper extremity. Spring clocks, too, where a fluted conoid played out a chain drawn by the circular movement of a little barrel that devoured it link by link.
Some of the clocks concealed their works behind rusted ornament and corroded chasing, displaying only the slow movement of their hands; but the majority exhibited their gnashing hardware, and recalled those dances of Death where the only living things are grinning skeletons that shake the scythe of Time.
"YOU'RE not actually saying>> Willem was reading Pavel's bio over morning tea biscuits, guarana flakes in them to help preserve stamina. Pavel was born in the Ukraine in 1992 and moved Dutchward with his parents when the EC came. In Rotterdam he fell into EC habits like crack cocaine and nosebleed dancefloor. The story about him being a school dropout was true and there were documents to prove it. He had acne as well. When he was 16 he started using Glam facewash to dry out his zits. It was reasonably successful so he kept using it, two times a day for three years.
"The rest is still highly confidential>> Mr Wagenaar said. So confidential, Willem noticed, that Pavel hadn't said a word all morning. "In August this year our client took a daytrip to France where he contracted an especially bad case of sunburn. He returned home, applied Glam facewash as every other night and went to sleep. When he woke up half the skin on his face had peeled away. The skin underneath... well, you can see for yourself.>>
"The specialists have diagnosed a complete melanin mutation," Mr Brugmans said. "As you may well know melanin darkens the skin in a range from white to jet black. For the first time in recorded history, in a mutation somehow linked to your product, our client's melanin has turned chlorophyllic green.>>
"Our skincare range is a simple variation on a recipe which has been around for decades>> Willem said. "Suitably cosmopolitanised, naturally. It has never caused a mutation before.>>
"That's why we want to have fun with it," Mr Kroon said. "Glam makes the world's first Green Man. We'll make a fucking mint!>>
"Of course," Mr Wagenaar said, "there will be dividends enough for Glam to share.>>
WILLEM'S wife was Lisa and she was Israeli. This may puzzle readers who've developed a preconception (in turn founded on stereotype) that Willem is a racist. Willem is not a racist, he is simply obsessed with the ideal of racial integration. The fact this is a racist ideal in early 21st century society is irrelevant. Willem would willingly orientalise his eyes if he felt that would homogenise the global gene pool. Lisa is not a Dutch convert and Willem is not a tryhard Zionist, but when they are together he yearns for some kind of middle ground where everywhere is here, a metaphysical Anne Frank kind of rapprochement.
Occasionally, usually in bed, they achieve it.
"I can only stay an hour or two>> Willem said from the middle of a delicate cunnilingus position. "I've got to stay back all night working on this new promotion.>>
"Oh Christ," Lisa trying desperately not to revert to Hebrew, "an hour or two with you is all it takes." She wrapped her Mediterranean thighs tight around his golden head, his tongue their temporary axis. "Oh God," she said, "I'm exploding!>>
Getting redressed for work Willem dropped as casually as he could, "Fucking hell. I met a green man today.>>
JUMP TO: SECTION CASSIUS CROON (c)opyright Crunch Millennia 1996-2003.
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