Nautilus Beanfeast (Yo! Glenn!) was walking along the beach. Just as this thought – How did I get here? – was forming inside his head, another question overtook it. It was this thought – How did He get here?
This thought was directed at the man standing (the walk’s at an end?) next Nautilus Beanfeast; he was clad in turn of the millennium Arab-Israeli gear, straggly hair, unkempt beard and sandles.
I know you, said Nautilus Beanfeast.
“Yes,” said the man.
Jeevus Cripes Almighty Bore, Son of Odd!
“Something like that.”
What the hell are you doing here? I thought you weren’t real, anyway.
“Well, as you can see, I am real and I am here.”
Nautilus Beanfeast decided to ponder this answer; this was a relief – the author was, after all, notoriously bad at constructing passages of dialogue.
I therefore conclude that I am dead, that this is the afterlife, and the journey along the beach is a hackneyed metaphorical cliché for my life. I saw it once on a poster at a flat in Tootin Bec in 1988.
Jeevus Cripes Almighty Bore, Son of Odd, stood there nodding sagely.
Nautilus Beanfeast looked back and saw two sets of footprints in the sand.
So, if this set of footprints is mine, whose is the other’s?
“You have three guesses,” said Jeevus.
Ooh, different from the original allegory. Right, well, obviously I don’t need three guesses. The other set of footprints belong to an invisible gorilla. No? Okay, I’ll stop being tedious; they’re yours, aren’t they?
“Yes,” said Jeevus Cripes Almighty Bore, Son of Odd.
Nautilus looked back at the two sets of footprints and saw that in some places there were only one-and-a-half sets of footprints.
Why are there only one-and-a-half sets of footprints in some places?
“Sometimes I like to hop?” explained the Son of Odd. “You’ve no idea how boring it is to walk with everyone throughout their lives, especially if they’re a particularly well-behaved nun who actually believes all of this shit about stuff.”
Nautilus Beanfeast looked back at the sets of footprints a second time. He noticed that one some occasions, the Almighty Bore’s footprints were facing the wrong way.
He looked quizzically at the Son of Odd.
“Okay! Okay! Sometimes I walk backwards as well; it’s not as if you could see me.”
Nautilus Beanfeast looked back at the sets of footprints again.
How come I can see all the way back to the beginning of a journey which lasted decades?
“It’s a metaphor?” suggested Jeevus.
And, while we’re at it, your use of a set of footprints on a sandy beach as a metaphor for my life is pretty deflating. You’re essentially saying that my life has had as much lasting impact as a set of footprints in the sand, in other words none, and that the ocean of time will have eradicated them as soon as I have ceased to be, reducing my life to nothing more than a transient imprint amounting to nothing.
“That’s correct,” said Jeevus Cripes.
Okay, fine. Well, just before my life’s journey is obliterated by the waves of inevitability , how come, in some places, there is only one set of footprints? Hmmmm? So tedious, so hackneyed, so clichéd! (Mimics Jeevus) “Those were the times when your life was going through difficult patches.” (Nautilus mimics himself in the role of a naïve imbecile) Then why did you abandon me during those times? (Jeevus again) “No – those were the times when I carried you.” (Nautilus as himself again) Ooooh – soooooo profound!”
“Actually,” said Jeevus Cripes Almighty Bore, Son of Odd, “those were the times when I abandoned you. Have you any idea how embarrassing you are when you’re pissed? And, while we’re at it, some of your haunts left something to be desired; I do have a reputation to consider and I couldn’t be seen to hang out in places like THAT!”
So, what happens now? Asked Nautilus Beanfeast.
“Nothing,” replied Jeevus. “This is simply your brain’s deluded hallucination as it goes into its death throes.”
How fantastically unimpressive, thought Nautilus. My dying thoughts – a banal conversation about the journey of life with a pretend deity. I would have preferred a cup of tea with the girl of my dreams.
But it was all over, and Jeevus Cripes Almighty Bore, Son of Odd, the beach and the footsteps disappeared as the last neurological impulses in Nautilus Beanfeast’s brain fizzled out.
* * *
Nautilus Beanfeast was walking along the beach…
(Oh, very fucking unexpected, said the reader)
There, in front of him, was the girl of his dreams. “Fancy a cup?” she asked.