THE RAW BRAIN
A TALL TALE BY DF LEWIS
“There, there,” said the teacher, as she stared in mock antagonism at the upturned desk lids, “Questions are often their own answers”.
One classmate, by the name Idle White, grimaced. Off she goes again, he thought, putting nonsense into words, giving it a false credibility. Ever since growing out of his bratling years, he’d started a pop group called Weirdmonger – a wild thrashing affair of relentless driving clashing chords. His teacher could do with a dose of that to keep her sane, he considered, as he put up his hand to inform her that what she’d just written on the board was a lie – “God is one and God is three.” In any event, she would rub it off with one of those felt pads by the end of the lesson. He’d always thought this was a maths lesson.
“I know,” she replied, “but our God is in ALL things, even mathematics.”
Idle White had his own God – who was simply called Dog. Idle, in fact, liked looking at things from various angles. He’s searched second hand books and magazines, studied human behaviour, threw dice to determine his life’s decisions, collated all the data of the multimedia, encapsulated it into his vision of Dog. The creature grew upon this manuremix of random thoughts and dreams, sprouted into the upper regions (where earlier Idle’d built castles from the dross and gold alike) with all Its roots showing like fibrously knotted stilts. Dog’s colour was so sky-blue that, during those endlessly hot summers of Idle’s childhood, It was more often than not invisible against Its own background colour. But Idle knew It was there, walking with tree trunks – the nagging yaps sounded in Idles brain as if they were coming from the deep well of the sky.
Idle sat in a double desk at the back of the form room, next to a girl he wanted O so badly to want him. But neither had as yet spoken to the other. The tousled heads of the class in front were sunk deep into their cavernous desks, ruffling textbooks, seeking out the chewing gum once, in the forgotten past, stuck in place to hide the embarrassing love-knot graffitti, crooning songs they’d just learnt from the John Peel Show, concealing their faces so that the maths teacher could not ask them questions on the nature of Number.
The girl was studiously copying the sums from the board, as Idle gazed through the grimy window upon the playground (arcanely diagrammatized with white-painted lines for games that were never now played). The sun made it seem as if the concrete was wet. He smiled as he saw, silhouetted upon the town’s humping hills, the imperceptibly shifting tree-trunks in their slow march past. The leading pair must be the stilts bearing Dog, but what of the others? Everyone must have their own particular deity, rather than there being One for all, he said almost out loud. Perhaps, after all, religion DID have something to do with mathematics.
The girl looked at him quizzically. It appeared she’d heard some words rattling at the back of his throat. She smiled. He tried to smile back.
“Would you like to come to the next Weirdmonger gig?” he finally managed to say.
“Idle White!” The teacher was staring sternly. “I hope you’re getting on with your sums”.
He put up his hand to tell her that there was more to life than sums. But she’d by now started to rub with vigour at the board, clouds of chalkdust billowing like the dry ice often used by Weirdmonger in their act. Many of the other pupils were beginning to bang their desk lids up and down as if they, too, had aspirations to be musicians.
Idle was pleased to see that the horizon was now perfectly empty. Dog was of course descending the hill to play with him at break time. The netball posts would be Its wide stance – the unbroken blue of the sky still Its mystery, forging no outline for those with too little faith to trace out upon their Andrex minds.
As the bell went, Idle dashed off to the Boy’s outhouse, a heady cocktail of sweat and piss hanging in the air like hot yellow clouds. He managed to hit the high window, with his pent up kidney tap. Perhaps that girl would like to become a Weirdmonger fan, follow the music around town like a moonshot, dewy-eyed groupie – he need not tell her that the group was indeed a one man band.
The sun shattered his eyesight as he quit the gloomy sanctity of the Boys. Dog hovered above on stilts, unseen, unheard, but ever vigilant of Idle’s well being. Idle wondered whether the Girls’ outhouse was equally redolent as the Boys’, so he wandered over to its entrance, testing the air with upturned nose. Then that girl walked out, still pulling up her knickers, he noticed for a glorious fleeting moment.
“Well, would you like to come to my concert?”
“Nope.” And she stalked off to play rhyming skipping games with her cronies by the netball post.
Tears filling his eyes with swelling jewels of light, he searched the sky for Dog. The raw brain extruded from Idle’s revolving ear like a leash, as the Dog exercised him around the playground – the filaments of tattered grey-matter being tugged as Man and Master went walkies at either end of a perpetuating choke-chain.
Nobody could see Idle’s and Dog’s elongated brain as It alternately expanded and shrunk upon Its enlocked nodules, for the sky, against which It would have been etched, was clouded over with little grey swags.
Sky-blue Dog, now on metal stilts, was however as visible as possible, for those who had eyes to see It. Idle White smiled as he pulled at his own frayed inchwide of a striped school-tie and took himself into the school for some extracurricular work on the mathematical undercurrents of Fate. He felt the weight of his head upon the neck and was relieved that it was still relatively full. Like most kids, his brain benefited from a good airing at playtime and he was now eager to absorb all the knowledge of the Universe. Weirdmonger was not a one man band, after all, for, with Idle on desktop drums and Dog on superwoofer, these two only needed one more member to become a Holy Trinity.
Published ‘Arrows of Desire’ 1994