It was the end of another soul destroying day working for a bearded bore in a bleak and depressing warehouse. The bus was late as usual and the driver added to the general heaviness of the day with his funereal expression and indifference, as if the bus was his tomb and we, the passengers mere mourners at the procession. I climbed the stairs wearily and settled into a seat three behind a mad junkie-looking character (who appeared to have just spent a hard day thieving from unwary workers) the ideal spot for keeping an eye on the back of his unwashed head for any indications of trouble. As the bus trundled its way through the estate, I watched with revulsion as the weak autumn sun struggled to highlight the decrepit features of the ugly and shoddy monuments to man’s folly and greed, as they opened their mouths and spewed streams of grey humanity on to the streets. The beginning of the end of a repetitive ritual.
The mad junkie sat grunting in his seat, then suddenly started to hack at his throat for all he was worth. The thought of the magnitude of jellied phlegm which would soon slap onto the floor and wobble gave me the dry-boak and it was with difficulty that I managed to switch him off and turn back to the mindless soap opera unfolding on the screen. We turned another identical corner with as yet no interesting twists to the plot when without any warning, something zoomed out of the screen and slammed directly into my eye.
I sat dazed for a moment, unsure of what had happened. I became aware of the mad junkie noisily adding to his collection of blood-streaked goo but my mind was disturbed and distracted and he could have coughed himself inside out for all I cared as I frantically searched through the window in an effort to find the cause. To my surprise, I discovered that my moment of dazed confusion must have lasted longer than originally appreciated as by this time the bus had wound its way out of the estate and had entered the maze of housing blocks infested by wild weans and
big fat window-leaning mammies.
I could have cried at that moment, for there I sat with a feeling that something profound and inspirational had occurred and there appeared to be no way of discerning what it was. I looked at the junkie’s neck and down to his Magnum opus on the floor when suddenly revelation slapped my brain. As bold as a wean with a stick, right before my eyes, surrounded by flashing lights, stood the word ‘FLANGE’.
I looked at it for a while, studying it’s form, rolling its sensual texture around my tongue, getting to grips with its construction and flavour, nudging it gently to see what it would do, but there it stood, quite motionless and without any apparent reason to its being except to intrigue my mind. I began to toy with it and tease it to see what it was about, throwing it around, jumbling its parts to solve its puzzle, but to no avail, as it relentlessly sprung back to its original defiant stance.
It began to mock me, as donning a top hat and cane it danced and cavorted and prodded my brain, forcing me to flinch and retreat. I beat it off as best I could gaining valuable time to prepare my offensive, then during a lull in the attack I caught it unawares by slamming a word into its side. Context, I reasoned, was the key to its defeat as again and again I continued my onslaught barraging it from every angle with possible solutions. ‘Archibald Flange and Sons’ I tried ‘Purveyors of Fine Industrial Thumps and Grinding Noises’, ‘New Biological Flange, Gets whites whiter than white’, ‘At that moment we knew, that soon we would flange in the moonlight’, ‘My love is like a red red Flange’, ‘I Flange therefore I am’. Nothing it seems could tame the beast as it scattered my strongest weapons with gleeful kicks and danced the dance of victorious insult.
No longer joyous in victory it came for revenge. It needled with my reason and taunted my confidence as it gradually transformed into a menacing evil, filling me with dread and tearing at my sanity. I pleaded with it, offering a permanent fixture in my head if only it would leave me alone, but it laughed and tortured my mind with all the more vigour, apparently enjoying my suffering.
On the brink of despair and total defeat, the junkie suddenly hacked with an extraordinary force, succeeding in jarring me from my state of unreason. I quickly glanced through the window and saw that my stop was fast approaching. Tentatively I dodged the blob on the floor, thanked the bewildered junkie, hurried down the stairs and leaping from the bus ran as fast as I could for home.
Breathless and with my head thumping, I grappled with the door, ran inside and frantically searched the bookshelf for the final hope of my salvation, ‘Collins Modern English Dictionary’. My hands clawed at the pages, perspiration running down my cheeks, what if it wasn’t there? What if the page was missing? ‘Flammable’, `flan’, ‘flange’. There it was, the cause of all my grief. It cowered and shrunk and finally sank from my head onto the page. ‘Flange n. A radically projecting collar or rim on an object for strengthening it or attaching it to another object’.