An Early Childhood Chapter 15 Part 4


An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictional Irish literary figurehead, champion bodhrán player and broadcaster.


Continued from Chapter 15 Part 3.

Photo by Douglas Marsh.

             The fox’s voice became gruffer and more sinister as he said:

            “An old violinist is found hanging from a tree on the plains, his genitals lopped from his personage.”

            I found myself in a museum suddenly, dressed in a tweed jacket and scarf, standing before a violin in a glass display case, frowning in confusion. I could hear the fox’s disembodied voice ringing in my ears:

            “His instrument, donated to a museum, holds the key to a riddle. And only Harvard Professor Drake Seattle holds the key to the ivory box that contains the key to that riddle.”

            I next saw an ivory box with a lock, and a nervous hand with a key opened the box to reveal a second key in the box.

            I was then in a lecture theatre, still in the scarf and the tweed, addressing students despite my confusion – with a conviction and confidence that astonished me.

            “The people of the seventeenth century didn’t have the TECHNOLOGY to create metal FINE ENOUGH to be USED as violin strings. No. No! NO! What they had instead, ladies and gentlemen, what they USED to STRING THEIR BOWS…was the hair…from the tail…of the HORSE!” I looked around the room as my emotional lecture was met with loud enthusiastic applause. Before I knew what I was doing, I was leaving the lecture theatre, shaking hands with students and waving as flashbulbs went off in my face. My dreamscape changed again. It no longer featured me.

            Mad Leopold Cassidy stood at a telephone kiosk on the street, with a long queue of people behind him. He was dressed in a lab coat. My vision zoomed in on his face as he spoke animatedly into the phone, and I realised that he was talking to me.

            “Drake, is this line secure?” he asked me, in a very well spoken voice.

            I found myself answering:

            “Yes, it’s secure, Vernon. Why do you ask?”

            “I’ve analysed the Stradivarius!” shouted Mad Leopold.

            The conversation continued, but again my point of view shifted to an overhead shot of a corridor leading into a high tech laboratory. I saw myself walking down the corridor, putting a plastic card into a device beside the door.

            But bizarrely, without being on the telephone, I was still on the telephone to Vernon.

            “And what did you find, Vernon?” I heard myself saying.

            “What I’ve found could utterly destroy HUMANITY!”

            Drake Seattle put his eye up to an iris scanner, about to enter the lab. But Drake Seattle was ME.

            I was standing in the lab, with Mad Professor Leopold Cassidy sitting at a bench, now badly beaten up and his arm in a sling. He limped towards a microscope as I looked on.

            “What happened, Vernon?” I heard myself asking. “Who did this to you?”

            Mad Leopold looked at me with the one good eye on him squinting at me from Prussia, and replied:

            “Who did this to me? Who did this to me? A cardinal from Rome did this to me, Drake! A cardinal under strict instructions from the Pope, the CIA, the Mafia, the Freemasons and the ghost of Walter Sickert!”

            “But…but…but…Why?” I asked. He indicated that he wanted me to look into the microscope. I saw a black line running across a white circle as Mad Leopold continued.

            “I didn’t know why until I analysed the violin. Does this look familiar to you?”

            “It’s…it’s horse hair,” I declared, “Used for the violin strings. What’s the big deal, Vernon? Why would you get beaten up over the hair from a horse?”

            I looked up at Mad Leopold.

Continued in Chapter 15 Part 5.