Suggested Audio Candy:
 New Order “Temptation”
 The Prodigy “Poison”
Temptation is all around us. It’s everywhere we look, in every advertisement, on every billboard, everyone’s looking to reel us in whether subliminal or otherwise. It would be a brave person who admitted to never once being tempted and likely one full of shit. Some of us have strong resolve and aren’t easily seduced whereas others, like myself, are just moths to the flame. I strongly dislike McDonald’s cuisine but that doesn’t mean I don’t salivate over whatever new McBehemoth burger they’re pushing this week. I know only too well that the pathetic grilled elbow patch won’t look anything like the picture and the fresh wholesome seeded bap will be nowhere to be seen. But still I lick my lips. Whoever is responsible for these commercials isn’t interested in authenticity, they just want to make you forget your last desperately disappointing McDonald’s experience. If all else fails, they dig up Ronald McDonald and prey on our illogical fear of clowns. “Eat these six McNuggets or he’ll tear out your ventricles and tie them to a clutch of balloons.” I know that’s not precisely what he says but it’s all in the eyes you see. Who do you think is back at the slaughterhouse slaying oxen? Don’t trust him kids, that Ronald’s a wrong ‘un.
Six weeks ago I set myself a challenge. I’m not sure why exactly I decided to undertake such a ridiculous exercise as I knew from the start that the odds would be stacked severely against me but I felt like I needed to prove something to myself. In those 40 days and 40 nights I would not allow myself to be coerced into doing anything which operated outside a strict list of parameters. It seemed like a good idea at the time although, considering that list included outright celibacy, I knew I had a battle on my hands. I was required to alter my programmed way of thinking and read between every line if I was to stand a chance of completing my mission. Every single decision I made would have to be borne of me; no seeds could be planted and no advice taken if I wished to succeed in my plight. In theory this sounds like a cinch; just a simple case of mind over matter you’d think. However, when you are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a mind as convoluted and willful as mine, it’s no walk in the park. Trouble laid in wait around every corner and tested my resistance to the absolute hilt, before the first hour of my test had even passed. From thereon in, it hasn’t gotten any easier. I guess some lambs just like being slaughtered.
I guess we should talk about the elephant in the room as you know it’s never far from being the hot topic. Masturbation, spanking of the monkey, plundering the poultry, however you dress it up it’s still phallic in shape and given away by its child-bearing hips. I make no secret of my stance when it comes to relieving myself of mutinous sailors; better out than in when land’s ahoy. Considering I live with my mother and she has arthritic hands, I perform all duties myself. In some ways it reminds me of my misspent adolescence, daring myself to beat the clock as I commence launch the moment her slipper hits the bottom step. There are many things which appealed to me as a teenager but lost their sparkle over the years. Masturbation kind of remained interesting. There’s a pot of gold at the foot of every rainbow; in that respect you are always rewarded for endeavor. But I would need to cut it out of my daily routine entirely to make it through this phase with my perfect record in tact. One wank and I would be dragged kicking and screaming to the dock to defend my reprehensible actions; thus it would all have been for nothing. How could I come back here with my head held high when relaying that I made it to thirty-three days before buckling. You’d all be disgusted with Keeper and, do you know what, I wouldn’t blame you one iota.
Fear is something which made my short-list. Upon in-depth consideration I considered this to be something ordinarily provoked rather than felt freehand. I would not be afforded one chill down my spine and the hairs at the back of my neck were under constant surveillance. To spice things up, somewhat foolishly I might add, I decided to pick the five movies which affect me most and watch them back-to-back. I’d wait until alone, draw the curtains, crank the audio, and make it through Suspiria without crying like an infant. This proved to be no easy undertaking and, the moment in Sinister where Ethan Hawke picks up the spool that reads Lawn Work, my bravest face was on. But I made it through. Honestly, the things I do to make a point. Trying to sleep while Jerry Goldsmith’s Omen suite plays on loop with your closet door ajar is not something I wish to digress about any further. The reason for this is that I’m writing this live; thirty minutes before official completion of the task. You know me by now; I want you with me at each of my life’s events. Sharing is caring, although right now it feels more like a burden. They could change my name to The Over-familiar Leper and I couldn’t have any complaints at this juncture.
Depression was next up. Historically I feel dejected when life decides to throw me a shit sandwich. I receive no intelligence about the frequency in which said sandwiches are going to be distributed; neither do I know where the next one will wiggle its filling. I just eat them on arrival and, I have to be honest, they taste like shit. At least it’s not false advertising I suppose. Anyhoots, things make you sad, life happens, pain ensues. For 40 days and nights I would be required to be unbreakable; a beacon of positivity, the happiest, go-luckiest cock on the block. I spend probably forty percent of my existence in solitude so I was offered a head start on that front. But certain things are always out of your control; somebody will undoubtedly be looking to dump heartily in your morning oatmeal. It became imperative to dodge the world news as though it were a dose of the bubonic plague; unless I tuned in for the last five minutes in which case I would enjoy the tale of Manny, the spirited hamster who can ride a Segway. There’s nothing depressing about that. But I’d still turn off by the weather reports. “It is going to be cold. Cold and dull. Light rain, potential downpour, and strong easterly winds.” I know the routine; January’s the month where old people die. No weather is good weather; no news, good news. And no form of entertainment for six weeks…a desperately depressing thought.
The first twenty or so days were largely incident free and I was buoyed by the fact that I was bound to prove, beyond all doubt, that I am my own keeper. That is until I began to set my sights on the finish line. Suddenly my mind began to play tricks with me and I started to wonder whether somebody somewhere was banking on my failure. It all began to go wrong when flicking through cable for something to while away a few minutes before bed. All of the porn channels had mysteriously unscrambled and my mother’s hand cream was left conveniently situated beside my armchair, alongside a box of tissues. I removed all potential temptation and tried to take my mind off self-contained pleasure but the seed had already been planted and the wheels of temptation set into motion. I countered any subsequent tweaks in my groin with a frozen bag of garden peas, which I crammed down my jockeys to keep my temperature down. News started breaking on every network, natural disasters began to play out, planes plummeted from the skies with no explanation, and the weather took a turn for the antarctic. Depression reared its ugly head and I found the only way to combat such dour developments was to listen to contemporary pop music to keep myself chipper.
Moreover, shadows danced where previously they had remained dormant. As I laid my head down to sleep each night, my closet door began to shift entirely of its own accord. My mind played tricks on me for its own sick amusement and Ronald McDonald popped up on billboards everywhere I turned in an attempt at hoodwinking me into trying his new menu choices. I fucking knew it; I was being encouraged to fail in my pursuit and the powers that be were rolling out the big guns to ensure the last twenty days were less comfortable than the first. It didn’t help that the finishing line was in plain sight; I was about to prove categorically that I was above temptation of any type and immune to subliminal railroading. There seemed only one logical progression, that being to lock myself away in solitude and see the time out. I made my excuses at the dinner table at Christmas and scurried away to my own devices before any further pressure could be placed and have pretty much remained here ever since. Now my head is in utter disarray; I’m starting to lose any remaining grip on reality and the only conversations I am having are with myself. Luckily I fare well as a conversationalist although I have to admit I’m starting to get on my nerves a little.
Ten minutes left now. The very moment I succeed in my mission I plan to unzip faster than you can say Monica Lewinsky, suffer a dreadful fright and become deeply depressed just to celebrate my victory. However, if things were as easy as forecast, then what would be the point in me scribing this now? We all know there will be a few final potholes in the road to avoid. The once smooth tarmac has become more pitted than Bryan Adams’ face and temptation has closed in as it lodges its ultimate rearguard. As we speak, a naked weather girl with her eyes gouged out is reading a tabloid newspaper on my window sill. I know right? Curse my over-active imagination. I just hope she’s still here come the bell chiming; I plan a genital exorcism the very second my 40 days and nights is up and I plan on filling her buttercup and reading the page three headline about growing fears for the economy while she pulls gnarled faces and sucks my lifeforce through my nostrils. It won’t matter then, my endeavor will have proved a rousing success and I’ll be residing on cloud nine victorious. Ronald McDonald however, has other ideas in mind. He has been peddling his tricycle in ever decreasing circles for the past five minutes and I know only too well that, if I am to perform that victory salute, I shall be required to banish this final demon and thwart his last temptation.
“Ronald. Can we have a minute? It appears you have a burning question and, to tell you the truth, I’m finding your creaking wheels a little irritating”
“Sure. Let me just park this up over here by the shadows in the open closet doorway”
“That’s a cheap shot Ron. But no less than I would expect from such a cruel mastermind”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about? What’s more, I’m not convinced I’m altogether pleased with your tone of voice”
“Don’t give me that shit. You want me to buy McNuggets don’t you? Well I’m not hungry so you’re barking up the wrong tree mate”
“I would never dream of anything so underhand. Granted, our new batter is extra zingy and they’re now made with 100% real chicken breast but I’m not about to play the salesman”
“Then why is there a box of thirty sitting in your tricycle basket with choice of dips?”
“That’s my lunch”
“It’s midnight Ronald”
“I missed breakfast. Care for a McFlurry?”
“No I don’t care for a fucking McFlurry. That’s a cheap shot McDonald, a real cheap shot”
“Allow me to explain myself. I’m drumming up business. You see, profits have been down 40% for the past three-quarters and they’re looking at a corporate shake-up. My position is considered high-risk and I think that I’m surplus to requirements now”
“I get it. You’re here to spin a hard luck story and defeat me in the 11th hour. Do you have any idea how hard it’s been?”
“Alas, I’m no stranger to hardship”
“Cry me a river Ronnie. You must be minted after such a long stint with the most profitable fast food merchant in the world. I bet you pull in six figures every year”
“It’s my gambling problem you see. I’ve got in with some bad people and they’re threatening foreclosure on my circus tent. I stand to lose everything. My wife Rhonda is threatening to leave me, and neither of my kids, Roger and Rhada, can even look daddy in the eye anymore. I’ve even resorted to turning tricks for a little extra pocket-money. Here, wanna see?”
“Thanks but I’ll pass. I don’t find you attractive; sorry it’s the shoes”
“But I haven’t even shown you my nipples yet. Look”
That is a low down dirty stunt to pull. He snagged me at “nipples” and I can’t resist a quick glance at his wares as he drops his dungarees in front of me to reveal McNugget mammalia, crispy-coated and crying out for side relish. Suddenly I feel compelled to lean forward and take a nibble. He looks so dang tasty right now. Moreover, all this revelation has clearly taken it out of him as his tears have washed away much of his mascara and he has delightful skin tone. Kissable lips too. Real plump ones.
“Come hither and kiss away my pain”
“I shall do no such thing Ronald. I’ve decided instead to hold onto my erection for safe-keeping. Another minute should do it. I’m the Keeper of The Crimson Quill, not some five-year old sheep with pigtails”
“Care for a balloon?”
“Oh how delightful, I adore balloons… NO RONALD! Get on your trike and trundle off to peddle your hard luck story somewhere else. Your services here won’t be required tonight”
“And I can’t tempt you with a chocolate shake for the road?”
“Is it triple thick?”
“The way you like it”
“Nice try bucko. I shall have to gratefully decline your temptation on this occasion. Don’t worry, I’ll be at the drive thru by dawn for a sausage and egg McMuffin. For now however, I bid you adieu”
“But my kids. Who’s going to keep a roof over their head? It has been forecast for six inches of snow and a blizzard”
“I’m wise to your skulduggery Mr McDonald. Now if you would excuse me, I have celebrations to commence. You see, the witching hour has just struck my friend. I made it; for all your trickery, I reached my goal. Now about those McNuggets”
“They’re not for sale”
With that, Ronald rides off into the closet and the door closes behind him. A quick glance to the window ledge reveals the naked weather girl is also packing up her gear; dejected at her failure to convert her chances.
“As for you, you saucy little minx. You just stick around”
All at once, my feelings return. I lust over her bouquet of bare flesh, her yearning haunch, rigid nipples and lusting lips. I’m fearful for my life as her hollowed out eye sockets relay potential cataclysm and tell countless tales of desolation. More than anything, I’m as depressed as shit. The nearest McDonald’s is seven kilometres away and Ron didn’t leave a single McNugget behind. I’ve got to come clean, it feels good to feel again. Now I must go and retrieve my washing from the line as we have been forecast with torrential overnight showers.