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The   Manx   Tales


Manx read the letter.  The words stung like a load 
of rock salt, like an ulcer flaring up.  The words were 
harsh and brutal, cruel and vindictive.  Unfortunately, a 
part of what was written had the ring of truth to it.  At 
least, part of Manx wanted to believe it was true, that he 
really was the monster that was portrayed in this missive.  
In that part of his brain, Manx envied the monster, because 
a monster was something to be feared, to be pitied, to be 
caught and studied.  And, most importantly, a monster was 
alive!  A monster had passion and strength!  And ‘Little 
Man’ (as the rest of his brain referred to this part) really 
believed that he needed to be a monster, too.  In Little 
Man’s time, he is always surrounded by monsters.

Manx wishes that Little Man would just grow up!  He 
used to live in a world of monsters, it’s true, but then he 
grew up and the monsters got smaller or just disappeared!  
But there was that part of him that just wouldn’t let it go.  
It was like being attached to a ball and chain, only the 
chain would be morphing all the time into these different 
kinds of nightmarish burdens.  One moment, it’d be a Kenmore 
Washer on permanent spin cycle with a load of  jeans, and 
then it would be a snapping crocodile, and then it would be 
a pallet of quivering bodies fresh from the slaughterhouse, 
then a field of daisies, then a house with a picket fence 
and a couple of brats in the front yard, a dog, a cat, the 
“little woman” waiting... always waiting!  Manx had to snap 
out of it.

The letter in his hand fluttered to the floor, a 
forgotten idea.  Manx leaned against the window and placed 
his free arm across the top of the open sash.  He rested his 
chin on top of his arm and closed his eyes.  The sun warmed 
his face.  He imagined that this was how his mother might 
have hugged him when he was still surrounded by monsters; 
pressing his face into her bosom and squeezing him 
emphatically.  He wondered how he might get rid of this part 
of his psyche.  The rest of the package was pretty well 
balanced, on the whole.  Sure he had his moments, but who 
“Show me a person without flaws and I’ll show you a 
statue.”  Someone in his past muttered this, through the 
haze of memory, like the heckler’s shout in a crowded 
theater.  A disembodied voice hidden in a sea of memory.  

Manx began to drift from thought to thought, like a 
bee drunk on honey, or a woman drunk on love or a monster, 
drunk on blood.  Damn!  He couldn’t let his guard down, 
'Little Man' was always waiting for his shot.  He could ride 
on anything.  And the letter was like receiving an 
invitation to the grand ball!  It left a hole in Manx big 
enough to drive a Brink’s truck through.  He wasn’t known 
as 'Little Man' for nothing.  He’d slipped right out before 
Manx even noticed that he was on the loose again.

“Where is that little monster of mine?”

Manx opened his eyes.  The sun no longer felt 
friendly.  Little pins of ultravio-lence were stabbing into 
his unprotected skin.  That motherly voice and this motherly 
grasp of heated ozone too much for his daydream.  Manx 
squinted, his eyes shocked by the brightness.  Focusing on 
the view from the window, he watched a group of people 
harassing a dog across the street.  They had him pretty much 
surrounded.  It didn’t look good for the dog.  The dog had a 
certain degree of style, though, and wasn’t going to go 
without taking a few memories.

Manx turned inside for a moment, reaching for 
something.  When he turned back, the crowd was closing, like 
a fist, on the poor beast.  He could see their angry faces, 
looking more resolute and righteous  with each step.  He 
adjusted the scope and exhaled.  

The dog lunged forwards, looking up in his direction
just briefly before sinking his teeth into the nearest leg. 
The report of the rifle resonated through the crowd like a 
bad mood.  Order collapsed like a really, bad metaphor, like 
a stupid punchline and chaos stepped up to bat, taking a 
few practice swings.

“Ah!  There’s my little monster!”  Manx thought as 
he chambered another round.  He inhaled, exhaling slowly.  
It was the least that he could do.

His aim was true at last.

A MANX Tale (#13) by Raindog Copyright 1997  
(World-wide Rights Reserved)


	The mind is a strange and wondrous contraption.
	For some unknown reason, Manx had a strange taste in his 
mouth.  Something in the air by the Union Oil Refinery had triggered 
the old memory and brought that acrid taste of  blue steel and machine 
oil back to him, like a dog returning with the stick.  There’s really 
nothing quite like the taste of the gun barrel; the barrel in question 
here being attached to his father’s Colt .45, semi-automatic pistol; 
the famous WWII model that was the standard for many years, for the 
private gun collector.
	Manx was freshly arrived at his father’s apartment, a recent 
graduate of both his mother’s house and the fine institution of higher 
learning known as high school.  His father, himself a recent graduate 
of the same house, was ill-prepared for the joys of raising an 
eighteen year old.  They were strangers, quartered in an old apartment 
building by the beach, just a stones throw from the Scattergood Steam 
	Manx had managed to fulfill his obligation to society without 
cashing in his ticket, but now, in the post-school, pre-job dawning of 
his manhood, he struggled with the demons of his despair nightly. Four 
years of abuse at the hands of both his mom and the school system had 
pretty much taken their toll on Manx. He was a loner and alone in his 
exile, under the distrustful and judgmental eyes of his father.  
	He’d dreamed of going to Art Center and studying painting, but 
daddy backed out of the deal, drawing on his massive knowledge of the 
art world and his son’s gullibility.
	“You’re not good enough.”  And Manx had believed this.
	His mother had tossed him out without so much as a ‘see ya!’ 
He’d come home one day and found his belongings piled by the front 
door with a note scrawled across the cover of The Beatles White Album, 
laying on top.  “GET OUT!”  And that was that.
	Manx tried to spit the bitterness out of his mouth.  It didn’t 
	Back in those days he figured he’d get used to the taste of 
the barrel, get used to squeezing the trigger so he wouldn’t jump and 
make a mess of the thing.  Then he’d put the damned clip in.  It was 
a dirty business  and Manx wanted to do something right before he 
moved along the Karmic wheel.  He’d seen how the Buddhist monks 
immolated themselves on the streets of Saigon and thought; “now that’s 
class!”  But fire made him horny and this didn’t seem like a proper 
state to exit from the living.  Manx was so naive in those days.
	He wanted to slip away from life.  He wanted to ease into a 
nice hot tub and just get paler and paler until he was no longer 
visible.  Until it no longer mattered.  He figured that no one would 
miss him.  Or maybe they would and it would be too late and then 
they’d really feel bad for making him suffer.  But Manx didn’t believe 
that his going would make anyone that upset.  He was the one who was 
most upset with the idea.
	So each night, when his dad would go out to seek his own brand 
of solace down at Duffy’s Tavern, Manx would prepare his “tableau of 
death”, which consisted of some candles, a black sheet and the gun.  
He’d kneel on the floor, pop out the clip, eject the round in the 
chamber and very deliberately place the muzzle of the weapon in his 
mouth.  Then he’d wait, as if he was really taking his temperature.  
After a few minutes, he’d slide it in farther, until it lay flat the 
length of his tongue.  Manx didn’t find out about the psycho-sexual 
implications of this act until years later during a therapy session.  
He merely knew that he got a thrill out of caressing the gun barrel 
with his tongue.
	Manx never did put the clip in.  Before he could get up the 
nerve to do it, he found something else to put in his mouth.  He never 
looked back at those dark days until much later in life and, only then, 
on those days when the taste of steel would mysteriously return.  Only 
then could he slip away, for a little while.

A MANX Tale (#16) by Raindog Copyright 1997  
(World-wide Rights Reserved)
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