Tug o’ War


Suggested Audio Jukebox:

[1] Paul Engemann “Push It To The Limit”

[2] James Brown “Get On Up”

[3] Swing Out Sister “Breakout”



It’s a tug ‘o’ war you know. Right now I can feel the rope burns and this battle for supremacy promises to go right to the wire. On one team are the well-mannered flower fairies, polite pixies, and obliging ladybugs and, on the other, a handful of bolshy finger monsters hell-bent on causing trouble in the name of…well…being finger monsters. That is to say that there’s a war raging right now and it’s kicking off right beneath my very nose. One minute I’m that nice Mr. Darcy and would be only too happy to share buttered scones with you down at the river’s edge and, the next, I’m Attila The Hun and planning to pillage your livestock and sell them on eBay (not to the highest bidder either). I guess what I’m saying is that I am quite aware that I have a tendency to shock and appal at will and that, for the past few days, I’ve been hard at work perfecting my limbo skills. The tone is something that I lower habitually and sometimes I even sicken myself. The difference is that I know precisely what I mean and what is simply there to provoke a reaction, whereas others may well question whether I’m fit to take that rain check on my bi-daily shock therapy, the way I carry on. As a scribe you have to trust that your message can be conveyed adequately and there are those who know my soul and would never call my character into question. But I do care what folk think, more than it may seem sometimes, and there is a fondant centre in there should you lick away the hard candy.


Right now I’m like a heat-guided missile heading straight for the core reactor’s bullseye and picking up pace like a peregrine falcon on a hand-glider. There are few airs and graces, a fair share of cum faces, and less time for embraces than has become customary over the past three years. I possess a goal and this time is being spent tweaking my style with the intention of altering my trajectory some. If ever there was a time to be unapologetic in my prose, then this would be it and swagger is statutory if I’m ever going to take this show on the road. Now anyone who knows me intimately will attest to me not being Billy Big Bollocks and, instead, a humble man with a humble plan to boot. This is not subject to change and, should I appear vaguely obnoxious on occasion, then I assure you that it’s just a front. That said, it is this front that can break me out of my bubble, this voice that can wolf-whistle above the white noise, this swagger that will carry my weary bones to the finish line. One waiver and it’s a long way down to those crashing rocks below, whereas a few more puffs may just see me reaching that elusive apex and planting my flag. My dear brother Matt O’Keefe did so recently and I hear that Kilimanjaro is still reeling over having its ass handed to it by some rookie cliffhanger. He’s a better man than me, for sure, but he’s also now a bona fide personal hero of mine thanks to his expedition and one whose glory I strive to emulate.


Place me halfway up a dormant volcano and my knees will buckle before you can say “why is that angry-looking baboon wielding a box cutter with intent?” thus my feet remain firmly on terra firma, where I can smell that reassuring compost. Given that my lungs are currently preparing themselves for a congratulatory letter from her majesty, The Queen, physical exertion doesn’t seem the way to go. The mind, on the other hand, has a whole kingdom of its very own and there’s no obligation to pack a rucksack before I set off on my wild adventures. As a self-branded wordsmith, I have my climbing gear right here, and the only murderous primates I have to worry about are the ones that I don’t feed regular bananas. Indeed, I rather enjoy larking about with the gibbons, and never presume that we’re at the point in our relationship where I can suggest an antiseptic lotion for their hemorrhoids. It’s a mutual respect thing – I scratch your back, you agree not to brain me – and it has worked exceedingly well thus far. What I’m saying in my normal roundabout way is that the Crimson Quill represents my hiking boots and, through prose, I’m overcoming adversity in my own unique way every time I extend towards a fresh foothold and it doesn’t crumble away beneath me.


Am I scared? Petrified if truth be known and feel thankful for every last fear nugget prising its way forth in my jockeys. You see, after so desperately long feeling anesthetized, I want to feel dagnabbit. Whether joy, pain, or blind terror matters not and I’ll gladly knock all three back with a glass of tepid tap water. At least I’m no longer numb and that’s a whole host of steps in the right direction as far as I can discern. I’m also an adult (tenuous as that may seem at times) and sometimes write about grown-up stuff just to remind myself that I no longer shave with sellotape. No censorship I said at the offset and, while I’m always mindful of where I keep that muzzle, the necessity to use it is as few between as it is far. The tone has been known to plummet and I’ll take every opportunity begging to soundly strum it, but I’m still fully intending to blow kisses if I ever make the summit. Until that peak arrives or cries off with the bird flu for the umpteenth time, I’ll keep on keeping on and pray that I don’t turn myself into some kind of pariah before lighting up that Havana. For this to happen, I need to trust that skins are thick and always remember to head on back when I decide to “go there”. Offending folk just isn’t a pastime that enthuses me. Shocking them to their very bones yes, but only because it’s great to feel alive and with the most benign of intentions.


I’m quite hot on going where the mood takes me and begin each day with a blank canvas and a plethora of brushes to adorn it with light and shade. Certain brush strokes are broad, others fine, but I’m always looking to fashion a work of art that someone, anyone, would consider hanging proudly over their log burner. My heart and soul are invested to the very hilt, have been since I learned their true significance in all this, and that works out as one for each cufflink when you’re as willing to embrace the firing line as I am. I may resemble a bull in a china shop on occasion, but I vow to reimburse you for any compromised crockery and clean up after me once I slide off those clodhoppers. In the world we cohabit there exist a fair few wrong ‘uns and let’s not go forgetting the right ‘uns as they really are rather marvellous. I guess I’m just content with being a ‘un right now and touching down on both sides of the fence, dependant on which way the sun is facing. Deep down I know they’d despise me down in hell as I’m so frightfully placid that I’d rile those spawn up even further. But I haven’t the vaguest inkling how to pluck a harp and likely wouldn’t be welcome at the pearly gates either. Thus I’m doomed to mince about the middle ground and it ain’t so bad you know.


So the tug ‘o’ war rages on and, at present, it may appear that there is no real clue as to which side will emerge triumphant. However what the ‘lil devil on my right shoulder fails to realize is that, while I glean rather a lot of sick pleasure from lighting his bag of feces so he can fling it while I ring those buzzers and scuttle to the bushes, we don’t bond in the same manner as that ‘lil angel and I, simply don’t share the history. Granted, I may make you cringe on occasion and provide all manner of “did he just go there again?” moments but my heart is in the right place and still beating wildly after all this time. As for any chafing rope burns, well this sure beats auto-erotic asphyxiation any day of the week. Now please be a dear and pass the lemons.

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