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The Memoirs Of Cathcart Zen

“Fisting Liza Minelli does less damage to your shirt cuff than you’d expect,” intoned Cathcart Zen, scratching at his elephant-hide penis sheath. It was all he’d chosen to wear today, claiming to his maid that his nipples needed “essential airflow” to “stay operational”. Layla, the maid, cursed the job agency yet again as she tweezered up the nineteenth sheet of skin his scrawny body had sloughed off since morning. If she squinted at him, she could actually see atomised toxins leaking out of his pores in hot little ripples: his personal heat-hazy field of pollution.

“It was 1983,” Cathcart intoned, “and we were all in the basement of the Hearst mansion in California, there to effect a work of Sex Magic. Obviously, Reagan could not be allowed to win a second term. That terrifying old man was going to kill us all. Therefore, the great and the good gathered underground to fornicate like heroes, thence to transmit a pure beam of blistering Fuckpower across the country and directly into the President’s heart, exploding it like a frog with a straw up its bum.”

Layla didn’t get the simile, and didn’t much care to. “But it didn’t work, did it? He got a second term.”

Cathcart sighed, his penis sheath drooping towards the carpet. “I know. And his creature Bush Senior got four years after that. We laboured mightily that night, attempting to kill a President with omnisexual magic shagging. And I got nothing but more of the same, a broken wrist and tongue-herpes. Let that be a warning to you, young lady. Never get involved in politics.”

Cathcart Zen passed out soon afterwards. Layla put a blanket over him when he began to sob quietly in his sleep, and tentatively kissed his wrinkled forehead.

“Liza,” he mumbled in his dreamstate: “I think I know where I left my car keys last month.”

© Warren Ellis 2005, originally posted on my old LiveJournal

Published in brainjuice


  1. […] We all have those days, don’t we…y’know, the ones where you want to crush and destroy everything that offends you, and when everything that offends you is, well, everything? Warren Ellis sure does, and he knows how to lance the boil. I must try this sometime soon, it could save me the effort of having counselling again… […]

  2. That is the single most beautiful opening line I’ve ever read.

  3. I agree. Yet it somehow has the abilty to make all the mental gears come to a screaching halt. Prose at it’s finest.

  4. optical optical

    …nothing but more of the same, a broken wrist and tongue-herpes.

    Sublime. Just read the five pieces and for a moment there, felt like when something spurts out of my mouth: ‘ah, why, these fuckers today, they have no idea…’
    Goood stuff.

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