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Title card and visual conception by the exceptional Emilie Flory

 

Suggested Audio Jukebox ♫

[1] Ol’ Dirty Bastard Shimmy Shimmy Ya

[2] Atmosphere Trying To Find a Balance

[3] Ice-T Ya Don’t Quit

[4] Outkast B.O.B.

 

If you’d have asked me as a kid what I wished to be when I grew up, then chances are, there would’ve been a shit ton of head scratching going on, not to mention dandruff in my text book. Some of my classmates expressed their wish to become astronauts, others professional athletes, but when the question was posed to yours truly, I hadn’t the faintest clue what answer to provide. It just seemed foolish to place all my eggs in a single basket when there were years left to ponder this riddle before I came of age. How can you expect a child to have their future all mapped out when adolescence is a far more pressing concern? The hormones were raging, my identity still hopelessly vague, and I was more than happy to place this particular conundrum on the back burner until such time as it figured higher on my list of priorities. Over thirty years down the line and I finally feel able to provide my tardy answer. If and when I eventually grow up, I want to be a warrior.

And why the hell wouldn’t I plump for this vocation in life? Let’s just study the facts shall we? Should you enter warrior into your search engine, then the nouns that will greet you once the page loads include such heavy-hitters as vigor and courage, a pair of attributes that my father possessed in abundance. He was struck down with Multiple Sclerosis when I was barely eight and confined to a wheelchair less than twelve months later, where he remained for the next twenty-five years until heaven claimed itself a bona fide angel almost a decade back. However, while his condition gradually worsened and muscles wasted away, his passion for life didn’t once falter and he showed tremendous vigor and courage right up to the bitter end. Considering pops was my all-time personal hero, it’s only natural that I would wish to one day follow in his footsteps. My dear friends, that day arrived just a few months back when I was introduced to another champion for the human spirit, a lion-hearted young lady you may well know best as ⭐ Kreepazoid Kelly ⭐.

Some people believe it takes many years of hard graft for true friendship to develop and I’m not about to suggest this to be poppycock. That said, I never was one for keeping up with the Joneses and believe there are cases where a solitary gesture is all it takes. Granted, there is so much we cannot hope to know, quirks we won’t yet be aware of, and 1001 mysteries still to be solved. But none of the aforementioned are deal-breakers once a certain other box has been ticked. One of my greatest strengths is the ability to spot superheroes quickly, and I make great haste in gravitating towards these valiant crusaders. This is precisely what happened when my path crossed with Kelly’s almost as though fated. It took less than 140 characters to know that there was something different about her and I wasn’t fazed in the slightest by not being able to put my finger on what that might actually be. One glance at my Twitter bio should clear up what the soul means to me personally and we all know how slippery a customer it can be. When this nifty piece of kit speaks, I’m all ears. And hers spoke as loud as it did clear.

It wasn’t long before I learned the full extent of Kelly’s plight and, I’m not going to lie to you, I hadn’t the first idea how to process the data. Medical jargon has never been my strong suit and I make no secret of the fact that I’d have made a lousy Florence Nightingale. However, while initially somewhat blinded by the science side of things, I was left under no illusion that she is not at all well. Indeed, this two-time brain cancer survivor is currently right in the thick of the fight of her life and bad news is something she has been forced to entertain at pretty much every turn in the road. Only yesterday she was presented with a new 50-page report detailing the challenges she faces and let’s just say it didn’t make for cosy bedtime reading. No sooner has she gotten her head around these latest revelations, than she will have a brain MRI to contend with and no doubt more harsh truths to digest. It would appear that she can’t win for losing right now and, while the wonders of modern medicine never seize to amaze, they also pose a number of problems of their own.

The side effects of Kelly’s extensive med cocktail range from constant fatigue to violent seizures, crippling pain, tissue swelling, compromised organs, scalp scabs and permanent hair loss; and I’m barely even skimming the custard here. In her own words, her body is saying “bitch please fix” and it’s not like a deaf ear is being cocked as she’s taking every course of treatment available to appease it. Yet still the goalposts are constantly moving and fresh hardships introducing themselves in a manner far less than civil. It’s no fun being a lab rat and even less jolly when the maze complexifies just as you’re memorizing the layout. When it feels like life is nothing more than a wicked game at our expense; it’s only natural to contemplate throwing in the towel right? I mean, how much poking and prodding must we realistically endure before we just say fuck it, I’m done? The answer where Kelly is concerned is whatever the bloody hell it takes and it’s that interminable never-say-die attitude that separates her from life’s little victims.

Hence “warrior” has never seemed more fitting a title as she possesses all the qualities of a bona fide crusader and bonus battle tokens aside. A true brave doesn’t vacate the front-line until the battle has been won. You can strike them down with furious anger, overpower and mortally wound them, but they’ll still keep coming at you right up to the bitter end because that’s just what warriors do. One thing they will never be found culpable of is deserting the fray, regardless of how outgunned they might feel, as they’d rather die trying than cease their flags flying. That’s true warrior spirit right there and the kind of bold mission statement ⭐ Kreepazoid Kelly ⭐ lives and breathes by. In many ways, she actually reminds me of my father as he taught me how to fight tooth and nail without ever needing to throw a solitary punch. If I had any words of advice for the cancer currently gate crashing her blood supply then it’d be the following – go suck ya girl bumbo-bloodclaat wasteman. Brrp, brrp – which roughly translates to turn back now you sniveling scourge as you’re entering a house of pain and it ain’t gonna end well if you persist in your vile game, believe you me.

Here’s a trio of words that I feel sum up her stance on endurance – we don’t quit. Just last week I was in a desperate place and fast approaching the kind of point there can be no returning from. Ordinarily I wouldn’t dream of burdening another with my misery but Kelly had made it abundantly clear at the offset that she views friendship as a two-way transaction. My problems may feel utterly insignificant up against hers; but this is no sympathy snob we’re talking of here. In some ways, it probably helps to take her mind off her own pain should she entertain the blight of another and the last thing on earth that she wants is folk treading on eggshells around her. I was rapidly nose-diving, she identified this, and those three magic words were my food for thought that day. We don’t quit. As I returned to the scene of my imminent resign, this cold and bleak palace of my own sole design, I no longer felt beaten down and confined. You’re motherfucking right we don’t quit. What’s more, there are a million baseball caps out there just begging to pimp out that very slogan.

Needless to say, I didn’t quit. Those words wouldn’t have meant half as much, had Kelly not been prepared to lead by example. But that’s exactly what she does on a daily basis. Between bouts of chronic nausea, she flits between two separate social platforms and sprinkles her magical pixie dust over both, refusing to let her illness speak on her behalf. On Twitter, she keeps things nice and simple, dedicating her time to supporting all manner of worthwhile causes and spreading positivity wherever possible. Meanwhile, Instagram allows her to tell her tale one post at a time, minus the restrictions to word count. How she manages this fine balancing act while full-scale war rages on inside her, I’ll never know. But what blows my mind the most is that she does so without once surrendering either her dignity or poise. Kelly isn’t looking for handouts and knows full well that sympathy votes aren’t ultimately going to help her defeat this fearsome opponent. She simply tells it how it is, providing a chronicle of current events, while flat-refusing to be beaten into submission or lose the faith that has seen her this far.

“So this will be very hard. The hardest journey yet. But I have faith in my team that I will be cured”

 

Sound like a yellow-bellied quitter critter to you? Me neither. How about a motherfucking warrior? You’re very much darned in your Sunday best tooting she is. Of course, birds of a feather have been known to flock together, and even superheroes need a spotter on hand to help split the incessant workload occasionally. Fellow Neuro-Twin Sharon Lawson may be situated rather inconveniently at the opposite side of the pond to her bestie but nobody is better positioned to understand Kelly’s plight and do battle alongside her. The way the pair spark off one another is massively endearing, ironically similar to actual birth twins no less. You may have heard the phrase “sharing a brain” on your travels and this dynamic duo take that shit to a whole different level of authentic. One has the left cerebral side in tact, the other the right, making them the advanced human equivalent of Optimus motherfucking Prime bitches. Not to sound like a sentient robot here but “Megatron must be stopped… no matter the cost”. It’s the Decepticons I feel sorry for as they’re prodding the wrong beehive if they think they can steal the Neuro-Twins’ nectar. One more thing before battle commences – had I mentioned the twins are armed with swarms of Wu-Tang Killer Bees? And you’re motherfucking right they don’t quit.

Before this all ends in a scratch card drive-by, let’s get back to da hood and down to some brass tacks shall we? You see, Kelly is truly an inspiration to me and I know damn well I speak for the masses when I state this. Certain souls simply shine extra bright and here’s my theory on the reasoning in a single word – constellation. Once a number of suchlike orbs align in unison, it’s time to grab ourselves a deck chair and get down to some good old-fashioned basking. Together we’re better. That’s no great science and, thanks largely to fierce warriors such as she, I’m shimmy shimmy sure it ain’t fiction. Grind me to a pulp if I’m wrong, but I feel the term “family” needs broadening some as not all that is relative need necessarily stem from blood. Slightly off-topic, you have absolutely no idea how hard it is not to break into a rousing Sister Sledge rendition at this point. And promptly back on cue – ⭐ Kreepazoid Kelly ⭐ is a motherfucking warrior. No two ways about it. Only one needed. With my wide open palm over trembling heart – by golly I’m Napoleon Bonaparte. No that’s not it. My friend the warrior, save a spot for me on the battlefield. And with mild Tourette’s as my witness – you’re motherfucking right we don’t quit.

You have been reading

 

 

Click here to listen to exclusive live reading on The Bazaar Cast

 

Very special thanks to R.M. Martin (The Fear Merchant) and Myra Berkel for the SFX

 

Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,

Richard Charles Stevens

aka

Keeper of the Crimson Quill

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