This is the best job in the world. Well, it’s not but it should be. I mean I’ve got a free laptop and all sorts of stuff to decorate the place with. Geraniums that people have thrown out because they didn’t know they needed watering and cacti because they didn’t know they didn’t.
I’m typing this on the laptop that someone didn’t want. I’ve been learning English as she is spoken outside of Nithsdale and she’s a real bitch. Not that we’re short of bitches here. We’ve a whole hamlet of them: Crawick – beside the little town of Sanquhar. It’s the witches that terrify me and make this job scary.
It’s wonderful what I get in this recycling facility. I’ve a couple of Spiderman dolls I attached to the fences like they’re trying to escape
Now that’s interesting; the spellcheck fainted when I wrote “Crawick” which exists but recognises “Spiderman” who doesn’t. Someone is living in fantasyland.
Every day I get new stuff. Some of it’s really cool.
Like the three garden gnomes I put beside my cabin. OK, from the back they look like penises: it’s a joke thing. I covered the offending sides with faux fur I took from other rubbish dumped here but somehow I don’t think that really helped. They still look much the same but covered in Stone-Age condoms. My, my, how they had fun in the olden days.
Some stuff that gets thrown out is awesome like the Japanese Samurai armour that’s been arriving bit by bit over the last few weeks. I’ve put it on an old shop dummy in my cabin. It sits between the poster of Jimmy Hendrix and my Barbie collection.
Most waste that comes here is easy to organise: wood, plastic, glass, that sort of stuff. But I don’t look at the contents of bags brought by the witches of Crawick. I hate to think what I’d find. Once a bag ripped and I spent hours wiping up stuff that bubbled even though it was cold. The floating eyeballs freaked me out, especially as they all looked at me. One of them winked.
The problem with witches is that they can’t kill witches without dying themselves. If they could we’d be shot of them in a blast of hexes and flying gin bottles. They hate one another which is good for the rest of the population as it means they’re constantly giving each other grief and ignoring us, well – mostly.
The worst of them is Anne McTavish or as she calls herself now, Yasmin Le Fey. She says Yasmin so we say Yasmin: you don’t mess with the woman who once cursed the entire town with the itchy anal warts just because the post was late.
She drives a posh electric sports car. She likes zooming up behind the town’s residents in silence and slamming the breaks on at the last minute. She’s done it to nearly everyone. You can tell from the little patches of urine up and down the high street.
I swear that every time she comes here she lurks until my back is turned and the first thing I know is the shriek of tyres on concrete. The second is that warm feeling you get when your incontinence pad fills up: yes, I’m prepared.
I hate her – everyone hates her. When she’s in a mood everyone’s milk goes sour or flocks of crows terrify little children.
Well, it’s 11:00; I open late on a Sunday and there’s the usual pile of black bags waiting for me. My routine is to watch them for a while and see which ones twitch. They go straight into the skip bound for the furnace though there’s little room left. The witches have been unusually busy. I sort through the rest. Most of it is garden waste but one long curved package needs some serious inspection.
Wow! It’s a really long and shiny Samurai sword. That’s going straight into my collection. I mean, it was wrapped in black bags so it’s rubbish. I can’t go round the town asking people if they really meant to throw stuff out can I? Can you imagine me saying, ‘Are you sure you don’t want these old nappies? Have you really used this teabag enough?’
Oh bloody hell a witch is coming. Mad Granny Morag on her electric pram thing she uses to go shopping.
Smile, wave and take the offered article. Well tie me up in ribbons and post me to the moon: it’s a mask.
She tells me she’s been clearing the attic and this is the last of it all.
As she scoots away. I turn the thing over and scream. It’s the face of a demon. A demon that’s really annoyed. Either it’s out to make people faint or it’s just sat on an exploding toilet.
Is that a distant cackle I heard?
I tell you, this is the last bit of armour to complete the whole shebang. I’ve never seen anything quite so scary. The Samurai who wore this probably never had to draw his sword as people probably died of horror just looking at him.
Everything would want to escape so fast there’d be no time to organise. Your skin would go one way, heart and lungs another and your brains would fly straight out of your ears.
It’s better to look at it from the back. A bit like me really.
I could just try it on … I could try the whole lot on. It’s quiet on a Sunday.
Trouble is once I get it on I can’t see what I look like and the only mirror nearby is the one by the gates; one of those circular mirrors for drivers to see round the corner of the road. I can take a short cut over the bank and use the sword to clear the hawthorn on the way.
This mask doesn’t let you see much. I don’t think it was used for fighting at all. Not unless tripping over, swearing and crashing into trees can be considered a martial art.
It certainly gets hot in this armour. I’m panting harder than a hedgehog who’s sprinted over the M74 and survived.
How the hell did I get here? I’ve wandered off the bank and onto the top of the “Garden Waste Only” skip. That means I’m three bloody metres up. Hells bells, these containers are high – like the containers they put on ships and lorries. If I jump down to the top of the green glass bin and then to the concrete….
Here goes, only my foot catches so I leap down waving my arms and screaming in terror, bounce off the bin and crash onto the ground.
The mask falls off. Thank God, I can breathe again. My arms and legs still work. This armour is handy stuff.
What’s that noise?
Oh my life, who’s screaming? Maybe someone was passing and saw me. What’ve I done?
Good grief! That’s Yasmin Le Fey’s sports car buried in the incinerator skip and almost totally covered in bags that move with a life of their own. Thery’re slipping and sliding. Now the car is totally covered.
So it seems, witches can’t kill witches but rules can be bent. I do wish they’d left me out of it though.
The screams are muffled now and growing faint. I’ve just time to get this armour off and put it away, make a cup of tea, water my geraniums, consider watering my cacti for a while, readjust my spidermen and call the police.
© Gary Bonn: 2011
If you are interested in the real Crawick witches – take a look at:
Old Sanquhar Tales: A Collection of Folklore:
Written by my friend Rog Wood – who’ll kill me when he sees what I’ve done with his witches.
The illustrations are quite good too – though I had a time limit of 1 hour to produce each one.
I was paid 1 pint of beer for the lot – I think. My memory goes after the second sip.