by Martin Bolton
Whenever I sense the pungent odour of human excrement, I am whisked back to my childhood, and the powerful, inescapable reek of old man Reginald’s prevailing bum wind that hung about our farm like ghostly faecal gossamer. It only takes the faintest waft of an errant guff to transport me back to Little Cackton, the village where I grew up.
My father, Reg, was an inventor of, at best, somewhat mixed success. He spent most of his time in his work shed. Occasionally he would emerge, bringing with him the familiar scent of his noisome trouser draughts and ranting about his latest invention. He would stalk across the garden, audibly releasing blasts of corrosive gas from his rear end that would rattle down his trouser legs and burst from his ankles with the sound of a thunder clap. Then he would disappear into the outside lavatory to relieve his creaking bowels, where he would rattle its corrugated roof with the powerful tremors emitted by his violently undulating buttocks.
Every Sunday, I would help father load his cart with the latest contrivances to emerge from his noxious work shed, and we would trundle off to the market.
Father would attempt to wow the crowds with the ‘creations of tomorrow’. His animated performances were often greeted with jeers and laughter, some would throw rotten fruit, bottles and shoes at us, others would blow raspberries and children would sing “Reggie, Reggie, Dynamite Wedgie” in mocking reference to father’s explosive underpants.
The taunts of the people of Little Cackton would send him into a purple temper, provoking devastating, noxious winds from his heaving briefs. This would invariably spell the end of any hope of anyone listening to his fervent presentations of such ground breaking inventions as the Beautiful Feeling Gravel Enema 4000, the Electric Brain Masseuse, the Gas Powered Top Hat Horn or the ten foot Hydraulic Babysitter.
As dear father slipped further into the depths of madness, his behaviour became ever more erratic. One of the first signs of his slip into the pit of lunacy was his sudden insistence that he must ‘invent’ his own food. From that moment he spent every day and night in his work shed, only appearing several times a day to noisily befoul the outside toilet, which had become a steaming, acrid waist land where all that could be heard was the soft weeping of father in the throws of a mighty evacuation, the thunderous clapping of his scorched cheeks, and the tortured vibrating of the corroded corrugated roof.
We had no idea what he could possibly be consuming in the dark confines of that shed. He had not emerged, except to carry out the afore mentioned harrowing rectal episodes. Weeks went by, and each time he appeared, wild eyed and covered in excrement, he seemed to have grown. I dismissed this as my imagination, but when father could no longer fit inside his reeking out house, I knew I was right. Whatever he was eating was making him grow to gigantic proportions.
I resolved to sneak in to that accursed work shed and discover just what father was up to. I crept down the garden path late one night, eased open the door and slipped inside. What I saw there made my breath catch in my throat.
At the far end of the shed was some huge contraption covered with a cloth. But it was what lay before it that left me speechless. In orderly rows along the floor were vast glass cylinders filled with something I prayed was soil. But my heart (and my nose) told me it was not soil. There, in the pale moonlight, were huge, shiny mushrooms, each the size of a dustbin lid, growing from the ‘soil’ in the cylinders. They hung there, slimy, bulbous and distended.
“I’ve been expecting you, boy,” came a voice from beyond the mystery machine. An enormous head rose from the far end of the shed. Father had grown to gargantuan proportions, his features had become swollen and grotesque. A fat, grey mushroom hung from the corner of his shiny lips.
“You’ve come for a demonstration of my electronic shrieking machine,” he showed me a mouthful of shitty teeth as he cackled maniacally.
“Father!” I ejaculated, “you’ve gone too far!”
“No more will people have to shriek for themselves!” he became animated, waving his massive fists about and spitting bits of mushroom at me.
“Behold! The invention of tomorrow. Today!”
He ripped away the cloth that covered the machine and pulled a huge lever.
The diabolical contraption sprang to life and immediately began shrieking. The sound was deafening. I threw myself to the floor and covered my ears. But the sound lasted for a matter of seconds, then the machine began to sputter and the shrieking slowly died until all that could be heard was the stuttering movement of the machine’s failing mechanism.
As I looked up I saw father climbing upon the machine. Now I could see all of him I was horrified. He had become an enormous, bloated sack of skin. He straddled the shrieking machine and bellowed.
“No! No! My seminal work! Ruined!”
Something told me he was going to blow.
As I hurled myself through the door and into the garden, father’s stinking work shed rocketed up into the sky and exploded, showering the entire farm with a thick layer of shit.