Norman Allan
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Art and Fiction


Chapter 1

"Christopher," said the voice. "Christopher Pashanski, you are the Messiah."

A ray from the setting sun squeezed between the high rise blocks of the new and empty commercial complex on Montpelier Road and slipped through the chimney pots. It jigged through the lax curtains into my attic apartment in St. Michael's Place, Brighton, England. The sunbeam flit awhile amongst the mirrored walls, then scooted through the flaps of a tent. A nomad's tent, that had seen better days back in the Saraha, was pitched on the sand covered floor of my room. Outside the tent a small pyramid rose through the sand to be multiplied in the mirrors.

A train of cardboard camels caravaned in and out of the skirting dunes. Inside the tent the sunbeam angled towards me.

go to whole image:21K

"You are the Messiah," said the voice.

"Gnaugh," I said, turning over on my cushions and rolling six inches to the floor. "Aaaafuckit," I spluttered, sand in my eyes, mouth, hair, spitting, lifting and shaking my head. I staggered to my feet to chase the echoing voice from my head. There were butterflies in my dreams. Isador and Elenor were Sunshine.

"If I'm the Messiah, poor bloody world."

Still half asleep I zombie-trucked out of my twilight desert into the kitchen, over to the table, and sat. A bare bulb illuminated me as I smelt the neighbour's cat. Nemesis, my motorbike, cowered squashed in a corner, rubbed her front wheel against my knee. Family.

I yawned and scratched my hair behind the ears. Both sides. It felt good. I brushed the sleep from the corner of my eyes, and emptied the cornflakes into yesterday's bowl. I looked round for the milk. Empty bottles. Since Natasha had walked out two weeks before I could hardly maintain. Oh, and we had had such a nice thing going!

I poured the dregs of yesterday's tea onto the cornflakes. "To the Messiah!" I picked up a spoon and last week's newspaper. I love to read while I eat.

Defence appropriations, again.
Britain to leave the Common Market, again.
Soggy cornflakes, again.
The Queen arrives to rapturous welcome in Tonga, again.
Moroccan nirvanaleaf crop fails. Double take.


"Scientists are baffled by the sudden appearance of the caterpillar, Cannaboblastus, which has proliferated in locust-like fashion in the Moroccan highlands. The Cannaboblastus larvae first came to the attention of entomologists eighteen months ago. Its origins are unknown. Already in this short time it has proved a major pest bringing about the complete failure of Morocco's main cash crop, nirvanaleaf.
According to usually reliable sources, European Nirvanaleaf prices have quadrupled over the last month..."

"Usually reliable sources," I huffed. "Drug squad." But the usually reliable sources were as usual reliable. Of late nirvana in all forms had become elusive.

"Shea... No shit!" I lisped and gasped. "Time to roll a jay." I rolled one, but sparingly. "That's better." I tilted back my chair, feet on the table. "Africa delivers," I mumbled. But for how long?

My head went spinning through thoughts of caterpillars. Caterpillars. It had to be Isador and Elenor. It just had to be. The doom of personal involvement thundered in on me. I cast my mind to the fatal wisps of fate that had brought myself and Isador and Elenor and Morocco together. It had all begun two years before...

detail from frontispiece by the author
illumination of Chris's room by Kano

Chapter Two