Few’s Exit, Stage Left. Chapter 11.

Van’s singing, mumbling to himself

“The elm from which false dreams cling
Ding a ding a ding ding ding”

Then he’s grunting again. It comes to mind that a lot of his tunes end up in a grunt exposition. He’s got song apnoea. It’s unsettling, like Maria Sharapova’s on board. I try to break the silence.

“Hey Van…”

“Shut up, I’ll have nathin a do with you – for all I know you’ll be releasing an album of songs you stole from me next week”

Not bloody likely you grumpy old bollix.

Few’s catatonic. Staring ahead, his fisog all swollen up, looking like he’s paid one too many visit’s to Mickey Rourke’s plastic surgeon. I can feel things moving in the water, sometimes one comes to the surface, fish with human faces, children. Dark, dead eyes. Purple lips. There’s fires lit on the shores, creatures dancing around them, shape shifters, unburied souls.

The river is huge now, wider than the eye can see, the gloom is deepening, the murk. The mood. The ties that bind, the glue, the twine. “I wrote that ye wee shite” says Van. Few speaks, for the first time in hours.

“How are we going to get out of here?”

“I don’t know”

“Just make some shit up”

That’s what I’m doing”

“Do it better, do it faster”

“Faster I can do”

We’re drifting across a lake now, Van has stopped pushing but we keep moving nonetheless. There’s a fog rolling in on the shores, a real pea-souper. There’s another boat tied up, the Army Dreamer. Van pulls the boat ashore and we jump out, wading through the shallows, following the flames and smoke through the brush, until we see the pyre ahead, there’s three figures dancing around a pit, Kate, Denis and another bloke who’s carrying a big fuck-off rifle.

“Who’s that?”

“That’s Linden Arden, I wrote him too, no fucking loyalty.”

La Bush is throwing honey, milk, wine and some kind of metal into the pit.

“That’s fool’s gold if I’m not mistaken” opines Few, “I’ve heard tell of it being used by witches to summon spirits in ancient times.”

She’s chanting

“Spiritus sanctus in nomine”
“Spiritus sanctus in nomine”
“Spiritus sanctus in nomine”
“Spiritus sanctus in nomine”
“Poor little thing,”
“Red, red roses,”
“The blackbird!”
“Pinks and posies.”
“Wings in the water,”
“Red, red roses, Go down,”
“Go down.”
“Pinks and posies.”

Now she’s holding up the fool’s gold and the topaz box, high above her head – her final offering. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, shadowy figures start to form from the fog, there’s Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, Phil Lynott, Nico, Sterling Morrison and scores of others. Buddy is speaking “Is that you Peggy, Peggy Sue a –hoo – a – hoo- hoo?”
Van has seen enough.

“I’ll never let her steal their tunes, Never!”

He rushes at her (well sorta), Linden sees his master and pushes Kate into the pit, grabbing the metal and the box from her.

Yeah, that’s right – Linden Arden stole the pyrite.

He throws them across to me and aims his gun square at Kate down in the hole. As he fires, Van is sliding down the side, out of control. The bullet hits both of them. They lie dying, the spirits all around them fading away. Denis is nowhere to be seen. Linden, horrified, mad with grief, falls into the pit in despair. Van is grunting again but I guess you wouldn’t hold it against him this time. He looks at Few and says, with his last breath “All good copycats go to heaven”.

I hand the box to Few, he’s tight-lipped and ashen-faced. We sit there for a long time after we clamber down and pull Linden up. He doesn’t say much, finally he gets up. “Come on, it’s time you left this place”.

He led us on for days, through the Vale of Mourning, the Palace of Hades, The Elysian fields, the waters of Lethe. We see things men just ain’t supposed to see. But this story has gone on long enough.

(This story has gone on for far too long. Ed.).

We reached The Gates of Ivory. Long goodbyes and group hugs with Linden. We’d become fast friends now, he really was a brick. I said BRICK. We went through and found ourselves in some kind of old well shaft. There were iron rungs hammered into the side. We climbed for some time till we came to a loose manhole cover. We climb out onto a beautiful tree lined avenue, into the autumn sunshine, all gold and amber. I checked a street sign. Cyprus Avenue.

As we shuffled down the empty places Few said “Thank fuck that’s over.”

I think we can all agree with that.

Then he looks at me, “So, I’ve been working on this film project…..”

*Catch up on all Too Few’s adventures here –


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