THE TEXT

The Life of Henry Fuckit
(1950 - 2015)

 

1   He makes his entry

Bang in the middle of the century, on the stroke of midnight, as the moon rose above the African bush, Mrs O'Riley shrieked in agonized panic, raised her knees and parted her thighs, and began to expel Henry from her womb. He had been perfectly content where he was and would have preferred to remain there. But the rules and regulations governing obstetric procedure decreed otherwise. On entering the world he opened his eyes and gasped in horror. For a brief instant his life lay before him, all sixty-five years of it, and in that instant he understood the impossibility of ever going back. He let out an anguished bellow of rage. And just to confirm that the clock was already ticking, Mrs Hildagonda De Groot, housekeeper cum midwife, slapped his face, held him up by his ankles, shook him, and then hacked through his umbilical cord with a meat cleaver.

Exhausted, Mrs O'Riley lay back on the pillows and began to sing in a serenely dreamy murmur.

"Hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny,
Hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny …"

Mr O'Riley, Henry's father, was not present at the birth because he was feeding the little fishes at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean halfway between Cape Town and Southampton. The exact circumstances of his disappearance at sea were never established: was it suicide, or was it misadventure under the influence? All that was known with certainty was that, on the night in question, he had been maudlin-drunk. And with good cause. Regret, guilt and remorse had blended into one powerful emotion. Anger and paranoia had combined to create another. No wonder he was exceeding distraught!

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