Much the same content warning as last time. If you can’t stand it, don’t read it.
I worked in Edinburgh when I first left the military academy and the security of my commanding officer’s bed. I was up there as a trapper. The work was easy – since nobody had told me what it was I was supposed to be trapping, most of my days were spent down the pub, crying over love letters from that commanding officer I mentioned. They were actually addressed to one of my fellow cadets, but they’d found their way to me after first being directed to the British Labour Party’s “Saucy Letters of the Week” magazine. Luckily for me, the editor of that parliamentary periodical had escaped from London with four million pounds and a crate-load of the more incriminating issues and had taken the next train to Edinburgh, arriving after some six months because a tree branch had fallen across the tracks. (No wait, not tree branch. What’s the word I’m looking for? Yes: teenager.) A visit to a saucy Scottish brothel later and the poor man was parched, desperate for any form of liquid that didn’t come out of a human orifice. He found the pub I’d taken to calling my own – mainly because I couldn’t remember the owner’s name – and introduced himself to the one man in the place who looked like he might find some personal value in all those magazines. When that man decided to clear off after half a pint, the editor handed me the crate because there was no one else round.
Those letters really depressed me. It wasn’t that I was missing the old C.O., nor even that he’d been sleeping around with every other cadet at the academy. What came as a real shock was his confession that he was actually a shaved panda. Don’t get me wrong – I love pandas, and if there wasn’t a biological incompatibility I’d probably have them repopulated single-handedly. It was that he’d always told me that his father was a Himalayan yak. Now try to make sense of that!
I eventually lifted myself out of that funk – luckily it only took a change of trousers and a splash of disinfectant. When I did, I realised the Edinburgh trapper life just wasn’t for me. Sure, the beer was fine and the sex with the barmaid out the back of the pub was lovely. But on sobering up I quickly came to realise there was no money in it. Literally. Empty traps don’t pay all that well.
Actually, it’s probably more correct to say that on realising there was no money in it that I quickly came to sober up. Beer isn’t free, and my sexual favours only went so far – that being about as far as the barmaid’s husband could throw me across the room. But then he was a polar bear – unshaved – so what do you expect?
Now I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to tell me, “Eddie, what a crock of shit. There aren’t any polar bears in Edinburgh.” To which I’d reply, “It’s not a crock of shit, it’s a story – a crock of shit is a large clay pot with excrement in it, so how on Earth is that supposed to resemble a narrative retelling of remembered events, and would you mind not swearing please.” To which you’ll undoubtedly add, “Fine, we as an audience collectively apologise for the vulgar language, but it still doesn’t explain what a polar bear was doing in Edinburgh.” To which I would conclusively counter, “Trying to save its marriage, why what does it sound like, I do wish you’d pay proper attention to all this.”
Look, ultimately there’s going to be some stretching of the truth here tonight. It’s the truth or foreskins, so I hope you’ll agree I’ve made the right choice. This is the nature of the game – at least five-eighths of me is classified Above Top Secret, and if I told you which parts I’d have to kill you and your chemist – so please bear with any fabrications I may litter throughout this reminiscence. Just rest assured that grains of sincerity are dotted among the steaming bovine faeces. Specifically, all the commas. Especially the silent ones.
Where was I? That’s right, in Edinburgh. Actually no, not any more. That polar bear had kicked me clear over the border, so I took up residence in the Yorkshire Moors, where I adopted the practice of hunting werewolves. I did it so well that after my first night on the job there were no werewolves left anywhere in the whole of Yorkshire. Not that I actually caught any, but I stand by results, and I left Yorkshire absolutely werewolf free.
My next stop was Israel, which is a very lovely spot. I don’t know why everyone keeps complaining that it’s full of religious tensions and suicide bombers and the like. I found it utterly peaceful and relaxing. The sun was always shining, water lapped rhythmically against the shore, and the palm trees were absolutely majestic. The locals have a strange habit of calling the place Vanuatu for some reason, but don’t let that keep you away from this island paradise. If it’s good enough for Moses…
While I was there, I took a night job impersonating the second coming of the son of God. I was worried it might cause a bit of friction with the locals, but they just sat around in grass skirts and drank coconut milk, so I guess those Israelis are a more relaxed bunch than most people give them credit for.
Anyway, that was a terrific twelve years. In fact, I was there so long I ended up pretending I was the third coming just to maintain credibility. It was around this time that a representative from the Senegal government visited the island and gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse: two for one on white sports socks. He told me I’d need them where I was going. I asked where that was. He said he didn’t know but that it was always a good idea to carry spare socks. I thanked him for the advice and entered the time machine he’d bought duty free on the way over. I believe he only saved five percent on the list price, so who’s the fool now? Ten seconds later… was a moment in the history of space-time I wouldn’t have the good fortune to experience.
Time travel is a complicated mess, so I won’t bore you with exact details. Instead, I’ll tell you about the time I turned a 1000 cc Harley Davidson into a crack cocaine addict. (Put finger to ear.) No, wait. The imaginary earpiece in my ear is telling me I can bore you with the exact details.
Okay, so the machine did this thing with time, right? And it was supposed to do something with space as well, but that’s what you get for buying duty free. Then it did something that the best mathematicians in the world might understand if only they weren’t so good at mathematics, and hey presto!
No. Wait. “Hey presto” is for magic. And this wasn’t magic, this was science. Or just something I made up on the way in tonight. That’s what’s so terrific about time travel paradoxes: it was probably all three. Or none of them.
(Finger to ear.) See, I should’ve just told them about the Harley Davidson.
I think the reason I look seven months old is because of that time machine. Which I don’t mind. What I mind is that it undid all the time I spent in Yorkshire. All that work eradicating an entire werewolf population and it’s just been completely undone now. On the plus side, it means I never ate all that deep fried chocolate.
So I did some research, and I found out that the only country in the world not likely to be overrun by Yorkshire werewolves some time in the next eighteen thousand years is Greenland. Which is why I moved to Canada. My first job there was a temporary effort to pay the rent. I was a parking ticket inspector in the breakdown lanes of all the different highways that come out of Toronto. They made me inspect all the highways simultaneously, but that wasn’t the hard part, as I’d long since mastered the art of being in six places at once. No, the hard part was my penis – there’s nothing turns me on more than the sight of a great big broken down car, helpless as all the other cars zoom past it at somewhere in excess of sixty miles an hour. Especially broken down cars without valid parking tickets. Oh, that just gets me so hot… (Getting carried away here!) I’m sorry. Happier days.
Second job in Canada… Remind me to tell you about it some other time.