Paul Kavanagh

Beach, or a Praxitelean Murder Mystery

An extract

(Within a beachhouse a group of friends are having a fish dinner)

Tom stood up. He had fish on his chin.

Please no, said Viv, sit down you are embarrassing me.

It goes on and on, when the ending appears, it starts again, said Tom.

Everybody was perplexed and exchanged looks. Tom was drunk. Viv was red in the face and blowing.

I blame it all, the whole loop, on my addiction to pornographic movies, said Tom.

Tom, shouted Viv.

Go on, said Henry.

Yes, said Peter spitting a ball of chewed fish onto his plate.

I could not go an hour without watching a pornographic movie. I would watch a pornographic movie while eating, while reading a book, I sometimes fell asleep watching a pornographic movie and so my dreams were full of pornographic movies, said Tom.

I want a divorce, Peter, said Viv.

I tried to kill myself. I jumped off a bridge and onto a highway, said Henry.

He never did said Viv.

I bounced off the truck I had hoped would end my sorry life and was hit by a man on a scooter. I woke up in a hospital bed. My legs were broken. My cries disturbed the man in the next bed. He coughed gently, but I could stop the crying. Women, he said. Yes, I managed. The word lacerated my throat. He sighed. The headache spread down my spine, each knuckle throbbed. I’m a jinn, he said. I looked over, the blur softened. He was a small, funny looking man—he could have been a jinn. What happened to you, I had to ask. The last wish gave me stage four cancer, he said. I laughed so hard I thought I was about to spit out my teeth said Henry.

You’re sick, said Viv and she emptied her glass and before anybody could fill it up she grabbed the bottle and filled the glass spilling much wine over the table.

Jean picked up a napkin and soaked up the wine.

Go on, said Henry.

You’re a devil, said Judy looking at Henry.

Tom removed the fish from his chin and placed it in his mouth. He chewed onerously and swallowed.

He told me that he had the energy for one last wish. I told him I wanted to be in the movies. I wanted to be a star. I wanted to be in a movie with a young girl. I wanted her all for myself. I did not want to share her. She had to be beautiful. I wanted her petite with small breasts. She had to have a beautiful face. She had to have pigtails and dressed in a blue gingham dress. I wanted her in red shimmering high heels. I wanted music. I wanted. I wanted her to love me and only me.

He turned you into Toto, shouted Henry.

Tom barked loudly and stuffed his face into the fish on his plate.

Disgusting, said Viv.

Paul Kavanagh wrote Iceberg.

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