Monster Dressed as Monster – By John Bolland

The short story Monster Dressed as Monster was published in the Snacks After Swimming Anthology by Freight Publishing in 2005.

For a full list of my previous publications, please see the publications page on this website.

Monster Dressed as Monster

You should have bought the mask.
You saw it in the shop on Byres Road, one of those latex textured things you pull over your head like something that’s been skinned. The mask was wrinkly, witchy, carbunckled but no
– the idea of your face inside the rubber-smell of it – couldn’t dance in that. The hair was nylon and the colour of manky straw from a byre, you know? That green way when the beasts have trampled it. Eyes like something gouged out with a point.


You should have bought it there and then, on impulse. It was Halloween. But twenty seven pounds, you thought – and you’d only wear it once.
Your big mistake was hesitating.

That boy will lose his eye. One comment and your tumbler in his face. No pause for thought. No hesitation there.

You hesitated in the shop on Byres Road – your eye roved – got distracted.
There was an inflatable sheep and you thought of Archie.
You thought of Archie and you thought of Dad and you thought of her and it clicked. Didn’t it?
Archie fell and broke his neck.
Archie was a black-faced ram. Your Dad used to show him at the ram-fair down at Newton Stewart, clipped close, bollocks shaved. The ram got used to all the pulling and pummelling and the snip-snip-snip of shears. She thought it was daft to show that ram. Just so much wasted mutton. He said that ram was worth a lot of money.

It was just as well that Alex dragged you off. You would have killed him.
“Come on!” Alex said.
You’ve never done anything like that before. Just glassed the bloke –
For what?

The smell in the Oxfam shop but. You always imagine that smell don’t you and there it was, that dead granny smell you remember from your granny’s house before she was even dead. The smell of disuse. Hollowed out. Bodies full of gas and sort of washed clean in an unclean sort of way like that black brine on muddy estuaries where they never flush. The volunteers at the counter gave you funny looks. You pretended to check out the second-hand books but actually the stuff on that rail was fascinating.
You realised that what you really wanted was a Playtex roll-on just like she wore – cross-your-heart with fingertip panels and the lift and separate. You’ve got that image of her from your dreams, sitting on the edge of your bed like that, her blurred eyes rubbed
– begging.
The best you could find was an old bra in a rummage bin. You went back into town and bought the panty-girdle new in Markies.
God knows what Alex thought when he caught you struggling with the wee slider-catch fastening the suspender to the stocking top.
You were standing in the living room and Alex just barged in with a carry-out and a Tony Blair mask from the Party Shop.
Mortified, you were.
“You think I’ve lost the place,” you said.
Alex smirked. “Marilyn Monroe?”
“More like my mother,” you said.
Alex looked like he would boak.
You could see his point – no tits and all this flab and awkward bones and trussed-up like a roll of pork bulging round the sides of bra straps, suspenders- flesh rolling out like spilled shit above the panty-girdle.
Your Dad chased her around the house like that. You saw it – took a long-long step away. Remembered the Ailsa Craig.
The Ailsa Craig always seemed to pull down light from any break in the clouds. Across the firth you could see Kintyre and, on a clear day, Ulster.
Your Dad had lost interest in almost everything by then and Archie’s fleece was manky with brambles and dry thistles tangled in its knit.
That bright October day, the ram plodded down the field toward the ewes, picking up speed on the slope, tripped, broke his neck. Your Dad sat down beside you on the turf. He knew, even from that remove, that it was over…

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