I.

Richard was working in a bar. He had found the job from a friend who said that he was leaving it for greener pastures, and like hand me down clothing he had assumed the role. The job was nothing special. Working as a barback for a cocktail bar. It involved preparation for the cocktail drinks and during service, he would restock the condiments and glassware to ensure that all of the bartenders could fulfil their duties. Essentially, it was a labouring role that paid minimum wage. The bartenders would all bark orders at him and he received little commendation for the work involved.

Currently the bar was not serving and they had the staff at the venue to do stocktake duties and a deep clean of the bar area. The back shelves of the bar were usually stocked with bottles of spirits. But seeing as they were giving everything a deep clean, the staff had taken down all of the bottles and Richard was given the task of wiping down the mirror glass surface that usually lay behind the bottles. It was difficult to understand why the mirrored glass needed such a deep clean. It wasn’t as if inspectors would look at the mirrored glass surface to determine the functionality of the bar. However, he was stuck with the job and because he was being paid, he did as he was ordered to. As he scrubbed and cleaned at the mirrored glass surface with a cloth and disinfectant, he could feel that the task was becoming more and more redundant. He felt that the bar manager was simply giving him orders so that he could establish some sort of superiority over him. After all, his bar manager had begun on the lowest rank in the hospitality industry just as he. So the bar manager presumed it was his right to give him obsolete tasks, just as another bar manager had once done to him when he was younger. It had its purpose, of course, everything has its purpose. The purpose of such orders was to instill an anal attitude to others in the cleanliness and upkeep of the bar. For the bar manager probably assumed that Richard, as he, would one day work through the ranks of the establishment.

But Richard did not feel the same way as he scrubbed at the glass mirrored surface with the cloth. Repeatedly and with force to ensure that there was not a smudge upon the surface. And upon completion of the task with much endurance and effort he proclaimed to his manager, “I’ve finished.”

The bar manager went up to inspect the surface of the mirrored glass, stating, “No, you haven’t.” The bar manager then went across inspecting the large mirror and pointing out points of fluff that had been left after Richard had applied the cloth to the surface.

And so Richard repeated the task of cleaning the glass mirrored surface once again. With the same piece of cloth and producing the same results.

Upon announcing the completion of his work, the bar manager once again inspected the surface and then in a fit of rage unleashed upon the unsuspecting Richard, “You stupid farkin’ idiot! You’ve done the same thing again. If you don’t do it properly, you won’t have a job tomorrow.”

Richard stood there and thought about it. He looked at the piece of cloth in his hand that he was using. The disinfectant substance that had been brought to its minimum capacity within the spray bottle. The irrationality of the task at hand worked itself into the understandings of his present situation. The futility of it all. The idea that every day he had to work underneath this arsehole. Doing as he commanded, just so he could ensure that he could afford the rent that kept a roof above his head. It was a job and that’s presumably what all jobs do. Taking advantage of people’s desperation, forcing them to act in a mode of servility.

As the anger seethed within Richard, little bubbles of sweat were released over his brow, as his face grew bright red. His blood had begun to boil. So he threw the near empty bottle of disinfectant at the bar manager’s head. The act didn’t exactly cause pain, but it gathered the bar manager’s attention who turned around surprised by the act. “Go fark yourself you arrogant cunt! You can shove the job up your arse!”

You could see the bar manager’s face. The slight twitches in his eyebrows and mouth as he acknowledged what was happening. And then like the eruption of a volcano, came the seething ball of pus and putrid words that flowed from his inner core, “You piece of shit! I’ve done everything that I could for you! You’re lucky that you have this job with all of the shit that I have to put up with! GET OUT!!!”

And so Richard cleaned out his locker and left the cocktail bar, not bothering to enquire about his final pay cheque. After that, Richard went home. His home was a room in a three bedroom apartment that he shared with two others in their twenties. Of them, only Fabian was home. He explained to Fabian what had happened and Fabian told him that he should call up the welfare services so he would be able to make next month’s rent. And so that’s what he did.

Richard jumped through the holes and over the hurdles of the great and grand bureaucracy that is the welfare system. In order to justify his existence to a system that was corrupt and lost all senses of human decency long ago. Standing in line with many others who had lost faith in the system and mankind many years ago. The lines of anger and vile bitterness that seethed when one was left with no other option but to grovel before bureaucrats in an effort to feed themselves.

For the rest of the time he looked up jobs on the internet, applying for them sparingly. He was in no rush to be spoon fed another pile of shit by people who had long ago formed themselves into groups of social cohesion. Oh, he was a necessary part of the group, no doubt. Without him, the group would not be able to function. Every group required that individual who they could shovel shit on and kick down at. Without that person who was being constantly replaced, well, without that person the group would cease to function and cease to be. And so Richard thought about it all. The predestination of being that person. The eternal newcomer. It would often result in a spiral of depression that eventuated into an act of suicide that held no ties to the group, so that the group would not be affected. That was the eventual path that that course of action led to. And there was always a new generation to step into the old shoes of the eternal newcomer. The great and grand design. The churning gears of the system that left a mountain of skulls in their wake. If people were happy with their jobs and that sort of behaviour didn’t exist, then never would there be a need to advertise for another job.

Richard lay in bed, smoking a cigarette and stared up at the ceiling, listening to music. He found himself daydreaming about the futility of his situation. Trying to think up a way out of the constant state of entrapment that was destined to play itself out during different work roles throughout the course of his life. Was there such a thing as a way out of this predestined destiny of doom? A door? A window? A mouse hole?

That was when Fabian knocked on the door of his bedroom, “Hey Richard. Richard? Are you in there?”

“Yeah,” Richard replied, bringing himself to his feet and then opening the door to his bedroom to greet Fabian.

“There’s a party tonight in Brunswick. I know you’ve been down lately, I’ll buy you a six pack if you come with me.”

Without a moment’s hesitation, Richard replied that he would. He had a shower, the first time in days. What was the point otherwise? With no place to be. He used a new bar of soap to scrub at the crevice between his arse-crack. It resulted in a brown sewerage mixture and he watched the brown liquid diluted by water follow its pathway down the drain. Of course he had wiped his arse with toilet paper. But after a week’s build up of dirt, sweat and grime had gathered all over his body. It wasn’t that he was layered with dirt, it was simply the area where this sort of residue built up.

After a shower and a clean set of clothes, he was ready to venture off and into the night. And so the two of them ventured off into the night, drinks in hand, to navigate the Melbourne metropolitan public transport system. Among their fellow passengers were other individuals, already intoxicated from pre-drinks taken at home. Most of them were teenagers or other twenty somethings. Most of them would still be living at home, not having to spend money on rent or bills, they had money to spend. People with family connections that were assured job security that lay in judgment of shitkickers like Richard and Fabian.

Fabian was alright. He worked cleaning and janitorial jobs. His voiced opinion on the subject of work was, ‘It’s all shit when you have to wipe off shit stains from the toilets. But at least you get honest people when there’s no prestige involved in the work.’

The train carriage smelt like vomit and as people exited at the main stops, Richard and Fabian saw why. A group of the nightclubbers had left one of their friends passed out on the train, lying in his own vomit. A couple of ticket inspectors boarded the train and awoke him from a semi-comatose state. The man, the boy, mumbled something non-descript. The two ticket inspectors picked him off the ground and with one of them under each arm, took him outside at the next stop to do god only knows what.

The two of them got off the train shortly after that. They followed different tram routes that were equally packed with night rabble and arrived at their destination. Fabian had made some attempt to explain to Richard that he couldn’t just sit on welfare and despite his apprehension of picking up another job, he would have to submit eventually. Richard batted off the line of questioning and they both decided to enjoy themselves for the night, putting all other obligations aside momentarily.

They arrived at the house party and began to mingle. Richard took a seat in the backyard, rolling himself cigarettes and opening up the six pack of beers. Fabian preferred to venture indoors and danced with the young ladies who were all listening to music that was playing on a hi-fi system. The choice in music wasn’t that bad: a mix of electronic music; old school hip-hop; and pop tunes from the eighties.

Richard kept on smoking cigarettes and drinking beer as other strays took their seats beside him, outside in the backyard to smoke cigarettes and get down to idle conversation. Among those that took their seats beside him were various artists, a lawyer that worked for some unmentioned government department, and some computer programmer working for a corporation. It was difficult to know what to say when surrounded by such a varied group. So they all focused in upon their addictions. Drugs, sex, cigarettes, alcohol… All of them had confronted some sort of substance abuse problem along the journey of life. And when they had finished with those types of conversations they focused in upon the different artists. Their dreams and ambitions. Among the booze, their work took precedence as it was all inconsequential to the larger picture. Despite what political or other motivations prompted them to create their work. There were so many problems in the world that it was difficult to ascertain the implications of taking strong political stances. And so everyone agreed, taking up the different artists political stances without consideration of real world consequences and knowing that tomorrow they would return to their lives without any real effort given to the various causes.

After a while the conversation tired. Richard was four beers down and had started to rummage through the stockpile of different implements that lay in the backyard. Among such novelty items was a unicycle. Upon its discovery, Richard picked it out and made a great speech about the miscellaneous object, “A unicycle! For the love of God, who owns a unicycle?”

“A performer of sorts, I guess.” One of the others replied.

“Give it a try!” Another called out.

And so that’s what Richard did. And with minimal effort and incredible balance, he took naturally to the thing. Riding around in circles as they all cheered him on and gave him minor applause. After a while he grew tired of the act and took a seat as the others set their attempts to ride the unicycle. None of the others had much success, to which they all commented upon Richard’s natural talent.

The comments led Richard to form an idea. Or at least the beginnings of an idea. And when the night came to an end, he asked the owner of the house what they were planning to do with the unicycle. To which they replied, “I don’t know. I picked it up at a garage sale planning to learn to ride the thing, but never got around to it. I’m working full-time now, you can have it if you want it.”

To which Richard accepted and both Richard and Fabian returned home, with the addition of a unicycle.

II.

The next day Richard, having no other obligations, went to the local park to practice on the unicycle. He first mastered his balance on the vehicle in the proper motion. Then he reversed that motion and learnt how to ride the thing backwards, in loops and controlling his distance and speed. He spent days on end riding the thing around in parking lots, learning how to jump around on the thing and maintain balance while remaining semi-stationary.

He fulfilled his job seeker obligations. Making sure that he applied for his twenty jobs every month and attending his appointments with work placement agencies. Every time he went to one of those appointments a small piece of him died on the inside. The place seemed to be full of people with broken spirits and he supposed that he, himself, was one of them too. But all of the people there were disgusted with one another. The place maintained a semblance of order by the psychological trap of individuality. At one point or another all of these people held down a job. And so as each individual looked around, they did not bother to converse with one another, they all saw their own situation as unique. They all saw themselves as unique and they all maintained hope that they would find a job soon enough. But the truth was there was no counter counting down the time until they received their next opportunity. They could get a job any time between a day from now or they could be waiting twenty years. People preferred not to speak with one another in such venues, they were all disgusted with one another, everyone holding their own self-entitled pride. And Richard was no different. He looked around at the people waiting and presumed their sin of sloth.

He sat down with the consultant and answered their questions. With each question the consultant would navigate through the systems on their computer and click the appropriate buttons to determine if he had met his obligations as a job seeker.

And once that was completed Richard would return to the practice of riding his unicycle in various parking lots around the neighbourhood. One day Fabian joined him. Fabian came with a couple of longneck beers in hand to witness Richard’s improved skill. He sat on the parking lot curb, drinking his beers and commenting on Richard’s mastery of the unicycle, “Damn man! I can’t even ride one of those things, but you can do all sorts of shit on it, can’t ya’?”

“Yeah, I was thinking,” Richard conversed as he rode backwards and forwards, “I was thinking that I could start putting on shows for the public.”

“You mean busking?”

“Yeah, busking. Think about it. I wouldn’t have any boss that I would have to report to. I wouldn’t have to deal with those bureaucrats at Centrelink. I’d treat it like a job, buskers can make good money if they offer something unique.” Richard remained semi-stationary and did a couple of jumps on the unicycle.

“Yeah, but just riding a unicycle isn’t going to do it. You’d have to offer the crowd something special.”

Richard got off the unicycle to join Fabian on the parking lot curb, “What do you mean?”

“You’d have to do something with your hands. Like spinning a walking cane around or something, I dunno…”

Richard and Fabian drank beers until the sun went down. Fabian had a lot of venting to do about his work and Richard listened peacefully. In their own ways they had both been working full days. Putting in the time and effort so that they could relax and rest easy, knowing that they had achieved something for the day.

The next day Richard went shopping for clothes. Lacking any suitable funding to go out to the commercial shops, he browsed through opportunity shops and looked around for second hand clothing that was still suitable to wear. In amongst the different clothes and items of a miscellaneous nature, he found himself a bowler hat. Looking at the thing gave him an idea. It had a price tag attached to it that marked it on sale for ten dollars. It was of good quality and he did not complain, he bought the hat along with a few articles of clothing and then went back to his practice of the unicycle.

This time he added the bowler hat into his routine. He started off by throwing the hat up in the air and catching it with the other hand while maintaining balance on the unicycle. It was difficult at first, but over time and practice the action became more fluid. After he had mastered simple actions, he began practicing more complex tasks. Like throwing the bowler hat a great distance up in the air and manoeuvring himself and the unicycle so that the hat would land on his head. He tried and failed that trick many times before he had any success. But over time he managed to achieve the results he desired. And shortly after that he was doing all sorts of complex and intricate things.

After a couple of months of practice Fabian once again came to witness the skills that Richard had accumulated. He sat there with a longneck beer as he had done before. This time Richard was riding on the unicycle, throwing the hat up in the air, spinning the hat on his fingers, catching the hat in his teeth and jumping up and down on the unicycle in a reverse motion.

Fabian was bewildered, “Holy shit man! Yeah, I’d pay to see that. You’re god damned diabolical on that thing!”

“Diabolical, hey?” Richard said, while raising an eyebrow. “I like the sound of that. I think I’ll use that as my stage name.” Richard threw the hat up in the air and jumped on the unicycle in a three-hundred and sixty degree motion, “You may call me, ‘Diabolical’.”

Fabian offered Richard a beer and they both sat and witnessed the sun set in the park. Toasting to Richard’s success and newfound vocation.

The next Friday Richard travelled into the city to perform along Southbank, outside the casino in Melbourne. He carried with him a piece of chalk. He was dressed in a white shirt, black pants, with a black bow-tie, and stars drawn in black make-up around his eyes. With a series of onlookers, he drew out a circle on the pavement and announced to his audience, “Ladies and gentlemen, what you are about to witness can be described in no other way but ‘diabolical’.”

After the brief introduction Richard mounted the unicycle and started riding around inside the perimeter of the chalk circle that he had drawn up on the pavement. After that, he started travelling backwards in the same motion with his bowler hat affixed to his head. He was just laying out the territory, ensuring that the audience gave him space. After the audience acknowledged this, he started jumping up and down on the unicycle in a backwards motion. Then he moved forwards again and threw the bowler hat up in the air and caught it with the other hand. Then he laid his arms out like a seesaw and began rolling the hat up and down the length of his arms as he maintained balance on the unicycle. He began to gather quite a crowd at this point and his hat tricks and motions on the unicycle increased in complexity. He continued to perform until his grand finale where he rode the unicycle backwards, threw the hat up in the air, jumped up in the air on the unicycle, perform a three hundred and sixty degree twist and catching the bowler hat on his head. He then dismounted from the unicycle to the sound of great applause from the audience who had gathered around him. He then walked around the circle that had been lined up in chalk and held the bowler hat out as his audience deposited their donations to his act.

After this he took a half an hour break. He counted the money that he had earned. All up, he had received sixty dollars. Sixty dollars for a half hour routine wasn’t bad, Richard thought. He waited around for another half an hour. Buying himself a bottle of water, smoking some cigarettes and then returned to the circle laid out in chalk and repeated the half an hour act to a different audience of passers-by.

He repeated the act until the stroke of midnight and then caught the last train home. All up, he had earned two hundred and eighty dollars. It wasn’t bad for a single night’s work. Hell, it was bloody fantastic!

For the next week he went to the same area and repeated the routine. Some days were better than others, but each day was certainly worth the trip into town. Sometimes he would perform by daylight, other times he would perform at night. And he was slowly gathering a small fortune while doing so. Richard thought about the good fortune he had come across ever since leaving the bar job. The time and effort he had placed into creating and maintaining his act. It had all been worth it.

But he began to notice something. The more he performed. The less takings he would receive. The crowd was growing weary of the act, despite how fantastic it was.

Then came the day that would end his series of performances in Melbourne. It was during the day and he had gathered a crowd of small children who were looking at the man on the unicycle performing his routine. Then a child, a small girl with ribbons done in her hair in a pigtail fashion, went running into the circle drawn up in chalk. At that point Richard was balancing the hat in a see-saw motion up along the length of his arms. When he saw the child, he lost all control of the unicycle and veered off to the side, collapsing in a heap. Enraged by the incident, Richard lost his temper at the small child and began yelling at her, “You little shit! You fucked up my entire routine!”

The reaction came as an automatic reaction that Richard had felt in the pain of his fall. The girl paused for a second in silence and then Richard could see the tears well up in her eyes. He held up his hands, trying to stop her from the tears. But the tears came, as did the screams, “Mummy! Mummmmmmy!!!”

The audience that had gathered around Richard then began to call out in disgust at Richard’s behaviour. To which there was nothing Richard could do to take back the action. A large, muscular man approached Richard. Grabbing his arm and twisting it behind Richard’s back in what was a painful action, yelling at him, “Apologise to the young girl, ya’ bastard!”

To which Richard squeaked out, “I’m sorry…” in the most pathetic way imaginable, with tears of pain running down his cheeks, making his make-up run.

The little girl stopped crying and started laughing at Richard. The muscular man released Richard from his grip and then pushed him to the ground. The man took Richard’s takings for the day and gave it to the little girl and her mother.

The crowd dispersed, leaving Richard there broken and bruised, realizing that he could never perform in Melbourne again.

III.

Richard returned home that day in hysterics. He kept on yelling and ranting about how he had had enough of this shithole city and that he was moving away to greener pastures. Try as Fabian might to calm him down, he could do nothing to settle his temper. Richard packed up some of his belongings in a suitcase. A few changes of clothes, some of his essential belongings and then went out to Fabian to ask him a favour.

“Hey man,” they were both sitting down at the kitchen table, “if I pay you a month’s rent in advance, will you be able to clear up the rest of my shit. Sell my stuff. Do with it what you need to.”

“Yeah, man, sure.” Fabian looked at Richard, “What happened? Anything serious? Are you okay?”

“It was just farked man! Absolutely farked! I was basically humiliated in front of the whole city. I hate this farkin’ city! I farkin’ hate it!”

“Calm down, just tell me what happened and we can sort it all out.”

But Richard didn’t stick around to bother explaining everything to Fabian. He paid him the one month’s rent in advance. Grabbed his suitcase, the unicycle, everything else that he needed and took the next train into the city. On the train journey into the city, he plotted out his route via his phone. He planned to stop over in Geelong before heading west out towards Perth. He would stop along the road, stopping off at various points like Adelaide and all of the smaller rural towns inbetween. Performing his act and fueling his journey with any money he could. That was the plan.

Hitting the open road, with no responsibilities. He’d pick up a car somewhere along the way, but for now he was appeased with taking the train. He booked a bed to stay in a backpackers in Geelong. A pub called Irish Murphys’ that existed just outside of the central business district of the city. He booked it for a series of three nights, believing that he could perform in the city centre for the next two days before continuing on his journey out west.

The train from Melbourne to Geelong was only an hour’s journey and he soon found himself exiting the train. From there he caught a bus to the backpackers where he made camp for the night. He kept to himself and made sure that his belongings were locked up inside his room. There weren’t many other tourists in the place. There were a couple of middle aged Chinese women who were sharing a room. He ran into them in the kitchen while they were preparing themselves a meal. Some noodles mixed with fried chicken strips and some vegetables. They piled the soy sauce into the saucepan as they cooked the noodles, adding a teaspoon of fish sauce and other spices that were acquainted to their tastes. He attempted to make conversation with them, but they were largely lacking fluency in the English dialect. They looked at him in confusion as he attempted to make conversation. Feeling that his words would not be heard, he went downstairs and purchased a bottle of cheap red wine. He offered them each a glass, to which they refused. They retired to their rooms and he retired to his. He ended up drinking the full bottle of wine and falling asleep in a half-drunk state.

He woke up in the morning at about a quarter past ten. He felt like he had eaten the cork of the wine bottle and the cork was being digested slowly in his stomach, floating in his stomach acids, producing this queasy feeling that was akin to seasickness. He went downstairs. The bar staff were busy preparing the venue for service later that day, so he went next door to the tuck shop and bought himself a sandwich. One of those greasy bacon and egg ones, with the paper wrapping around it that had become transparent because of all the grease dripping off of the bacon. He ate it and bought himself a bottle of lemon soda to wash it all down. It calmed his stomach and the queasy feeling soon disappeared.

After a couple of hours sitting and watching cable television in the lounge room drinking glasses of water, he pulled himself together and prepared to make his grand debut on the city streets of Geelong. He dressed himself up in usual attire and applied the make-up to his eyes. White collared shirt, black bow-tie and black pants. Accompanied, of course, with the bowler hat. He caught the bus into the city. He couldn’t really find any performance space. There weren’t any other buskers and he spied that a group of homeless people had set up some form of encampment outside of the mall. He went into little Malop street where he decided there was enough space where he could perform his act. People walking past him looked at him oddly, not understanding what he intended to do.

He drew up a circle with a piece of white chalk that he kept in his pocket and once more mounted his unicycle. Some people stopped and called out to him, “Hey, what the hell are you trying to do?”

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he called out, raising his voice so that anybody within a fifty meter radius could hear him, “I am the great and glorious ‘Diabolical’ and what I am about to do here today is absolutely diabolical! If you all wish to witness the events with your own eyes, you will not be displeased!” A few people stopped and began watching Richard as he rode the unicycle around in circles. Then backwards in circles.

There was not much of a crowd, but what he didn’t expect was for the encampment of homeless people to come and watch him. There was a small group of them, about five in all came to witness him as the others remained with their makeshift setup of sleeping bags and miscellaneous items. The leader of the group appeared to be a stout Mexican man. The Mexican man was roughly shaven and smoked a cigarette. He wore gloves with the fingers cut off and a dirty grey torn jacket, with cotton coming out of the tears in the material. He began speaking English with a rough accent, “This motherfucker says he’s ‘diabolical’, that’s my name! You ain’t taking my name now are ya’?” Richard ignored the homeless man as he continued on with his routine. Balancing his hat along his arms like a see-saw. “Now I know you wouldn’t be doing that? Taking my name ya’ faggot!” The berating comments began to get on Richard’s nerves. But he held his peace and continued on with the act. “Ya’ piece of shit! I’m ‘Diabolical’, that’s my name!” Other people began to leave the crowd that had gathered around Richard, scared off by the homeless man. And pretty soon the homeless man was yelling at him, “That’s my name! That’s my name! That’s my name!” Over and over again without pause. After all of the potential paying audience had dispersed, frightened by the constant heckling by the homeless man, Richard got off of the unicycle and ceased his act.

He looked at the homeless man and his fellow cohorts, he wasn’t that tall and he was sure that he would be able to at least outrun them on the unicycle if they went to attack him. So Richard began yelling at him, “You worthless piece of shit! You just scared them all off! Fark you and fark this town!”

The homeless Mexican man stood there and didn’t say anything. Instead he flicked the cigarette that he had been smoking towards Richard. The cigarette fell at Richard’s feet. The homeless man didn’t say anything after that, he just kept on staring at Richard. The other homeless people that had come with him lost interest and all walked back towards their encampment. But the Mexican homeless man, he just kept on standing there, staring at Richard without saying a word.

After a while it began to creep Richard out, so Richard decided to walk back to the backpackers. Not looking back to see if he was being followed. When he reached the pub that doubled as a backpackers, he looked back behind him to see if he was being followed. He felt relieved when he found that the homeless man was nowhere in sight. So he entered the pub and ordered himself a drink.

It started off with one pint. A pint of Carlton draught because it was the cheapest drink that he could afford. He would sit and listen to the music. They had live musicians who were performing classic and well-known rock songs. He would sit there alone and listen to songs, ordering pint after pint. Between intervals of the songs he would go outside and have a cigarette. Toking on cigarettes and talking to strangers. They’d offer him tidbits and information on a variety of different subjects. Nothing that mattered to him. He did take an interest in the story concerning how the homeless had all migrated from the larger capital city of Melbourne to Geelong. The police restrictions, they had explained, were less strict than they were in Melbourne. For some reason they seemed to get away with sleeping outside of the mall in the central business district. Richard listened attentively, nodding his head as he did so. Then went back into the bar and continued ordering pints of Carlton draught.

Eventually he ran out of cigarettes and half cut, he asked the bartender where he could buy cigarettes. The bartender replied that there was a supermarket up down the road, about a kilometre. So he finished what remained of his current pint, placed his bowler hat on his head and went off to find the supermarket.

He had been walking for about five minutes when it happened. An unknown assailant surprised him from behind and covered his face with a cloth covered in chloroform. He lost consciousness almost immediately.

When he awoke, he was tied by the wrists and ankles, placed upon a wooden table in some unknown park. He struggled against the bonds, but they were affixed to his limbs tightly. He called out into the night, “Hello! What’s happening!? What’s happening!?!”

From out of the shadows appeared the Mexican homeless man. The same one who had caused a disturbance in his performance earlier that day. “Y’know, I wasn’t lying.”

Richard struggled more intensely against his bonds, but it was of no use, “What the fark are you doing you psycho!? Release me at once. I demand that you release me!”

“That’s not going to help you homie. There ain’t no turning back from this shit now. It’s just me and you, alone here in the park. And nobody else around to hear ya’.”

“Didn’t you hear me!? Let me go!” Richard called out, “Help! Heellp!”

“I wasn’t lying when I said my name is ‘Diabolical’. Except the reason that I had that name was probably different from the reason why you had that name.”

“Help! Heeelp!!!” Richard screamed out into the night without any reply.

Diabolical produced a small knife. It was curved at the end of the blade. He then leaned forward and pressed it up against Richard’s neck. “I said shut the fuck up!” After that Diabolical wrapped a bandana around the mouth of Richard. Tying it around his mouth to act as a gag so that he couldn’t make any more noise. Any more noise that Richard attempted to make was inaudible. “As I was saying. I too am known by the name ‘Diabolical’. I received that name many years ago in my native country. I was a small child, perhaps eleven or twelve years old. I came from a very poor family and was being constantly bullied at school. So much so that for the large part I refused to attend. Instead, I would run around the neighbourhood, stealing food and different things in an effort to entertain myself. There was a group of us. I considered us all friends. Until one day, those friends turned against me and I was ousted from that group. In an act of revenge I kidnapped their dog. I tied that dog up much like I have you tied up here and now. And with that dog I skinned him alive. Back then, I wasn’t very good at it and made a mess of things. But I completed the job and displayed the pet before my old friends. No doubt, they were upset and probably would have killed me. If it weren’t for a man dressed in an all-white suit. He saw what I had done and then shot a pistol to scare off the other kids, my former friends. After that the man took me in and said that he could use someone like me. So he gave me other animals to skin. Feral cats from the neighbourhood, things like that. I got so good at it, that that man gave me the name ‘Diabolical’ in reference to my diabolical skill.” That was when Diabolical approached Richard, tied up to the table and unable to voice any sound of protest, with the knife. He began by cutting open his clothes. Leaving him naked in the cold night. Then after that made incisions up and down the length of his limbs. They were made lengthways, up the length of Richard’s arms and legs. He attempted to scream out in pain. But could not. “That man turned out to be a major drug lord in the city and used me. Allowing me to torture his captured enemies. Skinning them and presenting their carcasses to their family and loved ones. You could be sure that nobody crossed that man.” Diabolical made another incision, identical to the last, down the lengthways of the limbs. Running parallel to the other incision, perhaps three centimetres apart. “I was treated well. With luxury and everything else that I could ask for. This went on for years.” With the parallel incisions, he placed the knife underneath  and began to peel the strip of skin off Richard’s body. Richard attempted to howl and struggle against the bonds, but there wasn’t anything he could do. “Until one day, that man asked me to skin someone who I didn’t want to skin. She was a lover. One of many, but a lover still the same.” After the strips of skin had been peeled, Diabolical had an opening to the rest of the skin that covered Richard’s body. From there he could go about the process like peeling an orange. Placing the knife under the skin and peeling off the rest of the layer. “I turned on the old man. The one who had taken me in and skinned him instead. But that man was powerful and once my betrayal was known, I had to leave the country. Somewhere where I couldn’t be found. So I thought, ‘Australia’, I mean, why not, right?”

For the rest of the operation Diabolical remained focused on the process. Skinning the man alive and ensuring that everything was done to the utmost level of skill. After everything had been done and Richard’s whole body was skinned, Diabolical would tie him and string him up to a nearby gum tree. Singing to himself as he did so, “Give me a home amongst the gum trees. With lots of plum trees. A sheep or two, a kangaroo. A clothesline out the back. Verandah out the front.” All in a heavy Mexican accent. “And an old rockin’ chair.”

Richard’s body would be discovered the next morning. By early morning joggers through the park, with his body strung up a gum tree, hung like a fisherman showing off his catch, by the legs. With his bowler hat strategically placed beneath him.

As the blood dripped from his skinned carcass, dripping into the bowler hat in a little pool.

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Louis Edward Tschampion.. Also known as Arie de Bruyn Born in Sandringham, Melbourne, Victoria (Australia) on the 15th January 1987. Son of Alison and Dirk de Bruyn. Youngest sibling to Kees and Abram de Bruyn. Diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 22. Holds a bachelor degree from Deakin University in Arts (Media & Communication). Attended several high schools. Has lived and worked internationally in New Delhi, India; and Thailand. Currently resides in Geelong, Victoria, Australia. Written several books and self-published them (Check out products and downloads page). Works jobs to earn himself a livable wage. contact: firstofkin@hotmail.com twitter: @firstofkin

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