of Watts and the Dwat
Copyright Carolyn Horn 1993
All Rights Reserved
whose head reached in through the window, raised his head from his bucket
and dripped enquiringly over the spotless floor. Apep raised his massive
serpent's head from the lap of one of the smartly-dressed twins who
sat on his coils and Hathor hid behind the sofa.
"My lovely carpet! What's
that snake - who let a bull... How could you, Bryarus," Cicely
wailed, "bringing a circus home with you. Animals are dirty!
It'll take ages to clean up. Shoo! Shoo - ugh!" she made ineffectual
flapping motions with her hands at the peaceful face of Bonasus. He
reached his head in further and slobbered over her fingers.
"Excuse me, dear lady,"
a voice slurred slightly from behind Cicely, and she moved aside to
reveal the Reverend Willey, who sported a very colourful black eye and
a swollen lip.
Cicely was almost sobbing
with rage: "I'm so sorry, Reverend, that you should see the place like
The vicar looked around
in mild surprise. "But surely - these are friends, are they not?" He
dabbed vaguely at his lip.
"Most certainly not-"
Cicely began a hot retort, but Bryarus interrupted with an expansive
wave of his hand: "Certainly, no question. And a fine bunch of friends
too," he said. "Join us, Mr. Willey; we saw you on TV earlier. A single
voice of sanity, if I may say so."
Willey blushed. "Thank
you, thank you. Alas, I fear it only did harm. I had no idea feelings
ran so high." He sighed and touched his black eye.
"This man - Is Creation
of the box-god?" Min was puzzled.
Bryarus turned to him.
"No, it doesn't work like that. The television is only pictures."
"Ah-" Djehuti spoke,
"so it is an art form. I understand. Moving -ah- paintings."
"Well yes, sort of.
But it gives information and advice too, sent through the air; nearly
everyone has a receiver."
Ra wrinkled his brow.
"But then, it's got Power. Who uses it? Can they be trusted with the
weight of it - mere mortals?"
The vicar was looking
from one to the other with a bemused expression, and Cicely flounced
to the end of the room. She plonked a large package before the fireplace
and started to unwrap it. A startling object was revealed; a slender,
highly-glazed figurine stood in white, with glowing green spirals swirling
around it. Its eyes were raised to the heavens and it held aloft a book
on which the letters pograp stood in bold, green relief. "There,"
she said and turned, "Isn't it perfect? Just what that corner needed."
Willey gulped and said:
"Exactly so, dear lady. Perhaps I may just mention the jumble?" he looked
around hopefully. "I believe you did say there might be some items.
I took the liberty - I told the boys from the youth club (so eager,
they were) to come and pick up anything later. I expect they'll be here
soon. And the White Elephant stall? I just wanted to confirm..."
"Oh Mr. Willey, of course."
Cicely strode back to the door. "I'm so sorry, I forgot. Perhaps you'd
like a cup of tea? Not in here, obviously, with all these - animals."
Her gaze swept the room with disdain.
He winced and touched
"I think our good vicar
could do with something stronger," Bryarus' voice was amused, "he seems
to have been in the wars. Join us in here, why don't you?"
The vicar's eyes gleamed
and he turned apologetically to his hostess. "To be truthful dear lady,
I do believe that tea would be a trifle hot for the cut..."
The doorbell rang and
Cicely stormed off to answer it. Her voice sounded clearly through the
house: "Olwyn! What on earth are you doing here?" Her tone sharpened:
"And what do these dirty boys want? Oh, jumble; I see. Well stay there,
your feet are filthy. Agh! Where did that horrible cat come from? Get
it out. Shoo! Shoo!"
The sitting-room door
opened wide and Bast streaked through. She caught sight of the gods,
bushed out her fur, and spat.
"No no Bast, it's okay,"
Bes hurried to say, "we're none of us here after you. We're just checking
on the Dwatters; well, I suppose we'll have to shut the Gate too." He
grinned. "But not until we've had some fun."
Bast gave him a green-gold
stare, twitched her tail, and then leapt onto Apep and began to rumble
out a purr.
Olwyn entered the room
and said to Cicely: "You should listen. I said she tags along with me;
that's the thing about cats. You often don't get a choice." She stopped
on the threshold and looked around, her eyes wide with amazement. "Oh,
I didn't realise; if it's inconvenient I can wait till tomorrow. It's
just that E-L did tell me I had to ask you..."
"Oh go on in," said
Cicely, with a push. She turned, to find the jumble-collectors staring,
round-eyed, into the room. She flapped her hands. "Get away! I told
you to stay back there. I'll fetch the bags for you."
"Sorry, Miss," one boy
replied and followed her from the room, speaking to his mates in a stage
whisper: "Vicar was drinking! Did ya see his eye?"
Min rose to his feet.
He looked handsome and wide-shouldered in his new suit. His warm brown
eyes twinkled as he approached Olwyn with a fluid motion. "Is delectable
lady of this morning! Ah, Madam!" And he raised her unprotesting hand
to his lips.
Olwyn looked stunned.
"W-we haven't met, have we?" her voice squeaked and she cleared her
throat. "I mean, I'm sure I'd have remembered..."
Bryarus was beside them
now. He felt unaccountably annoyed; damn the man, he thought, he's mesmerised
her. He elbowed his friend out of the way. "This is Min; you wouldn't
know him," he glared at the other. He turned back to her and his voice
gentled: "Anyway, what can we do for you?"
"I - well, I work for
Phelonius Televisual Productions and..." Her voice trailed off as she
saw Apep's massive coils move under the massaging of Bast's claws and
she started to squeak again: "Is-is that seat alive?"
"Oh, don't worry about
Apep. He wouldn't hurt anyone. But don't just stand there; come on in
and sit down." Bryarus steered her toward the drinks cabinet. "What
would you like to drink? I think we've got most things, unless Bes has
been at the whisky again; no, you're safe. What's it to be?"
"I don't suppose one
glass of wine would hurt. I'm driving, you see."
"Oh, we can pour you
into a taxi if necessary," Bryarus said casually over his shoulder as
he glugged wine into a crystal goblet. "Now," he said, handing her the
glass, "what was this about Phelonius?"
Olwyn took a long sip
and looked around her. She frowned; Bryarus wondered what was bothering
She said: "They want
to do a cheap art documentary on those new museum pictures of yours.
Then I expect they'll milk the whole area for 'human interest' stories
and make lots of money. If you want to tell us to bug off, it won't
surprise me. Well, cheerio," she put down the half-empty glass, "thanks
for the drink."
She was half-way to
the door when Bryarus caught up with her and put out his hand to stop
her. "Hey!" he said. "Don't run off; we have some discussing to do.
What is all this about new paintings? Come on; sit down. Move over,
"Of course, dear boy,
of course," said Willey. He shifted slightly on the angularity of Cicely's
petite sofa to make room and pushed one of Apep's coils out of the way
with a gentle foot.
The twins were using
Apep as a seat. They both slid closer to the vicar's knees and gazed
up at him with soulful, wide blue eyes. His glance shifted; he lifted
his hand to his collar to ease it and coughed slightly. Olwyn slid onto
the sofa and looked at Bryarus with puzzled eyes. "You know; the new
paintings in the Egyptian..." Her voice trailed away.
In the corner of the
room Drivula and a tall, well-tailored, pink-headed Djehuti had exploded
with mirth: "Aha, ha!" they spluttered. Everyone watched. Drivula wiped
streaming golden tears from her eyes and looked around at the puzzled
faces; then she clutched her stomach and doubled up again.
"All right, what's the
big joke?" Bryarus sounded tired, and Olwyn glanced at him in surprise.
Drivula was still hiccuping,
but she finally spoke in strangled tones: "Oh, aha, - the film people;
Tansy was right! Th-they bought it! Wait'll I tell her! She bet
that this would happen. Great Art. Oh - oh my. The Dwatters; Tansy got
Djehuti to make them to stay on the walls, see, and..." she flapped
her hand helplessly, and burst into laughter again.
It was infectious. Everyone
else started to titter. Bryarus stood beside the sofa, and regarded
them moodily. Then he started to grin and shrugged. He bent down to
Olwyn and said: "My friends have their frivolous moments, I'm afraid.
Tell Effingham-Luton that I'm willing to agree to the filming. I want
to see what they're up to." He jerked his head toward the others. Then
his eyes met hers and concern lurked behind the gleam of devilment.
"But I warn you personally, that if this lot have anything to do with
it, weird things could start to happen to Phelonius Productions. Does
that matter to you?"
Olwyn looked around,
at the fun and chaos; she looked back at Bryarus. "No," she said, "I
don't give a damn."
collapsed from the window. He considered the lawn which revolved around
Nice people, he thought.
Nice stuff; yes indeed. Now, what was it he had to - ah yes. The stream.
He lurched to his feet and tottered toward the water. "Ah!" he sighed,
and a flaming mass of faeces slid into the creek. It wobbled its way
downstream and Bonasus turned his hairy head to view the world around.
In a field opposite,
a cow had lifted her head from the cool grass. She was regarding this
unusual "bull" with alarmed eyes. Bonasus brought her into focus - wow!
What a set of udders! He staggered toward her and sloshed into the water.
She backed hurriedly. "Hrrumph," snorted Bonasus, and at last gave up
his battle with gravity. The gods eventually found him, his head pillowed
peacefully on the bank in the moonlight and four cows watching him from
a safe distance.
was hunched over his microscope. The laboratory sat, bleached and chromed,
around him. Squeaks skittered around the walls from the cages of cringing
rats. Disinfectant fought for nostril-space with droppings and urine.
The telephone rang; the scientist snorted in disgust and looked up.
He'd have to answer it, he supposed. He jerked over to the booth and
snapped: "Yes?" into the receiver.
A weary voice answered
him: "This is Derek Hartman, of the Wold Council. The Improvement Committee
have asked us to look into a matter of pollution in the Creek-"
"Well, what has that
to do with us, yes us?"
"-There's been a complaint
that someone has been burning dung in it," the councillor ploughed on;
"we have to have the stuff analysed. That's your job."
Visect spluttered. "Look,
I'm a busy, yes busy man. Get a chemist to-"
"Do I have to remind
you that your retainer is paid for your help on all chemical
Visect steamed silently
for a few seconds and then he yelled: "Oh, very well!" and flung the
phone down. He turned and glowered at the cages.
darkening streets were lit with sulphur-coloured pools of light. Min
and Djehuti wandered around the town, gazing into the glittering shop
windows and poking their noses and fingers into everything from manhole
covers to shopping bags. The twins were with them, hunting. Daniel just
A large, black vehicle
lumbered past them from Postleton East; its cargo sobbed, or sang lewd
and off-key. The god of travellers looked thoughtful and turned to Djehuti.
"Is transport, yes? Is good for us, also."
They ran after the Black
Maria, and watched it disgorge drunks and disorderlies at the Wold police
station. Min strolled into the building just as the last miscreant was
led away to cell or interrogation room. The desk sergeant had been hunched
wearily over his paperwork. He brightened. "Yes sir, can I help?" The
twins sidled over to him, held his gaze and stroked his hands. His eyes
glazed over and his Adam's apple jerked.
Nephthys felt his biceps.
"This one; yes, I think I'll try him."
He grinned weakly, and
wrenched his attention back to Min, who had asked some question. "What,
sir? The Black Maria? You need the inspector, sir."
The superior officer
rose from his desk as the sergeant led them into the office, and Isis
grabbed him. Her hand slid over him and he tried to fend her off. "Young
lady! Miss! Please, I must warn you..."
Her eyes flashed blue
at his, and his protests ground to a halt. He shook his head, in a daze.
She removed his hands from their defence of his genitals and continued
to check him over. "Yes," she nodded, "I think I'll give this one a
try." She started to strip him. Nephthys got to work on the sergeant.
Min repeated his request
and the inspector jerked out: "Yes, sir. Sergeant - the documents. For
the gentleman. Madam, oh, madam, please. Oooh... You have a licence,
"Ah- licence?" Djehuti
"Like this, sir. Omigod."
the sergeant produced his driving licence, and gave himself up again
"Hmm," said Djehuti.
His fingers flickered over it; it shimmered. The two gods left the police
station. Min fiddled with the controls; then he drove his Black Maria
off with a blare of the horn. Djehuti handed over a driving licence
newly printed with the name: "Min Amon." They left the busy twins behind.
The sergeant and inspector
An hour later the twins
left the station. A constable was shocked to discover his two superiors,
both draped naked over the inspector's desk, and both snoring heartily.
It took twelve hours to wake them.
Postleton hummed under a dispirited sun. Flies bunched around doorways
in which tramps and rats sprawled and blinked. They shared the ageless,
weathered look of experience.
A brazier burned in
the corner of the museum's cobbled square and a strong-faced woman hooked
a turnip from among the coals. She wiped her ragged, greying hair out
of her eyes and sniffed at the man opposite. "It be ready now, Joe.
D'yer want it?"
Joe nodded and put the
turnip on his lap. He cut chunks off it with a small knife. "Some for
you, Nellie - and Nathan; hey, Nathan!" An older man lowered a bottle
from his lips and nodded across at Joe. He exchanged the bottle for
the slice of turnip, with a grin and a twinkle of his grey eyes. He
broke a bit off and threw it to an expectant rat. Nathan had been a
respectable businessman, once, before the booze had got him. He'd been
a rag and bone man. He didn't miss it.
Nellie cocked her head
on one side and listened. "Somethin's comin'," she said, and sniffed.
"Big stuff - mighty odd for this place, eh?"
Nathan wiped his mouth
on his sleeve and nodded.
Seconds later, two vans
hurtled across the cobbles of the square and screamed to a halt before
the museum. They wore festive red and green stripes, with "Channel C"
emblazoned in purple along the sides; the doors crashed open and there
was much shouting and swearing as equipment was hauled out and lugged
up the steps. Several huge cables festooned the pavement and crawled
through the entrance hall.
A gold-edged limousine
slid up behind and Harold Sandiford jumped out; he held the door for
E-L. The director waved his jewel-encrusted hands impatiently at his
art critic and glowered at the vans. He leaned back into the car and
picked up the phone. "Channel C?" he shouted, "What's the OB van here
for? Look, I don't give a damn about your unions! How much is this costing
me? What d'you mean, reduce my fee to compensate for its use? What?
I only get five thousand for this one? Who gave the okay...?
I'll have his guts for garters." He flung the phone down, and yelled:
"Arkwright! Bloody nephew; what kind of accountant is he?"
The Chief Engineer hovered
nearby. "Mr E-L, sir-"
"Yes? What is it?"
"-The crew, they need
a meal break."
"Well, you'll have to
give them the cash." The Chief shifted from foot to foot.
"What?" E-L turned purple,
The Chief stared back.
"Contract, sir." He waved a slip of paper under E-L's nose.
The director winced
and screwed up his face. "Ohhh - here," he dug some coins out of his
pocket. He closed his eyes in pain. "Here, take it; get a bucket of
chips from Marco's." He turned and stormed back up the steps without
a backward glance.
A graffiti-covered Fiat
rattled to a halt outside the museum; Olwyn hopped out and dashed into
the museum with Bast streaking ahead.
Joe fumbled a bit of
turnip as he watched her young body sway up the steps. He sighed. "Nice
girl, hey?" he said and rasped his chin on his tattered sleeve.
Nellie looked sideways
at him. "Fancy that one, do yer?" she said.
He scratched his ear.
"Well, I dunno. Reckon she'm a fine body on her, and them legs is crackin'.
Pretty smile, too. But, well, you know, Nellie - I couldn't share all
this with her, could I?" And he waved a bit of turnip at his friend.
She grabbed it and cackled
A massive pattering
sounded from within the museum and caught the tramps' attention. "Holy
shit!" breathed Nathan, and grabbed the bottle as a swathe of rats from
the attics poured out of the front doors. They leapt, in a quiet flood,
into the large vehicles. The big, glossy, puce rat was a puzzle to Nathan.
He frowned. Perhaps he'd had too much to drink; food could be a good
idea. He settled the dirty, colourful bobble-hat over his weather-beaten
baldness, untangled his beard from his knees, tightened the string about
his waist and shambled off to Marco's. His pal always had some left-overs
tucked away. Maybe he could sneak a scrap or two out to that mutt that
Marco was always chasing away, too. That was a challenge he enjoyed.
blinked as they entered the Egyptian room. It was a scene of jostle
and bright lights. Riggers still connected up cables to leggy metal
constructions and taped them to the floor. A young helper held a white
card up in front of the Dwatters who hung on the left wall of the central
archway. He blinked in the dazzle while cameras aimed their eyes at
him; cameramen fiddled with their tripods and muttered into their talkback
Min and Djehuti were
interested spectators. They had been doing some serious drinking and
had come up from the shop. The others were down there watching Arlo
fix up a TV set, to see how this modern magic was done.
"Is very complicated
ritual," Min murmured.
They wandered over to
the Dwatters who waited patiently on the wall. Djehuti looked very pleased
with the effect. He peered closer and his breath played over the "pictures";
the alcohol wafted gently across their essence.
Min looked around and
saw his empty plinth. Bast stared up at him. He chuckled. Everyone was
preoccupied; he slipped across, dropped his clothes and took up his
pose on it in one fluid movement. Out of the corner of his mouth he
whispered; "Is now you do it, Bast, yes? But not too much; is just for
Bast gazed at him and
his skin grew a thin stone layer. She sat and looked at him with her
head on one side; yes, that was the correct colour of stone, all over.
You had to hand it to her, she felt, she knew her granite. But something
wasn't quite right. Oh yes. Well never mind, maybe no-one would notice
that his tool hung limply down his leg.
She glanced up at where
Olwyn stood leaning against the door. The woman stared at Min and then
at Bast. She was chalk-white.
The goddess frowned
in annoyance. Bother, she thought. Now Olwyn knows about me. Well, what
can I do? She washed.
The Dwatters had never
heard of alcohol; they had never sensed its aether before. As it spread
from the gods' breath, Dwish began to relax. This was nice. He'd been
shivering under the strange dark-light and bright-light, and only his
faith in the great Djehuti had kept him sane. But now life was a gentle,
floating thing. He wouldn't mind a dwivvle, right this minute. He wasn't
the only one.
At last the filming
began. It was to go out live, but would also be recorded for future
use as inserts. Harold cleared his throat, ran his fingers through his
hair and straightened his tie. He faced a camera and waited for the
He indicated the wall
behind him. "As you can see," he began, "Postleton Museum has acquired
a stunning new range of pictures. The simplicity of the green - a luminosity
which speaks of hidden depth - is brought into focus by careful use
of type-styles; you can see that each has its unique character. The
way in which this demythologises the esoteric nature of our communications
today, is in clever counterpoint to an effervescent verve, a spontaneity
of colour, which transcends the whole."
His finger traced one
of the swirls of pink which decorated Dwish. "The artist has reduced
the simplicity of Egypt to its essence, both in colour and dignity of
execution, and the gaps which he has created in the previous display
items," he waved at the end wall, "far from being an act of vandalism,
shows a white-washing away of complexity; a statement of art as a pure
form and a rejection of formal representationality."
One of the "paintings"
twitched. A technician started to snigger nervously. Her eyes were fixed
on the Dwatter behind Harold. He glared at her, cleared his throat and
continued: "You can see that each of these paintings has an individuality-"
The muffled tittering
was becoming general and he hesitated. He waved his hand at the wall
again. He put his hands together in a gesture which described an expanding
bowl. "-and an expression of life all its own, whilst still becoming
part of a whole-"
goggled more than usual and he pointed at the wall. His mouth opened
and shut, but nothing came out except for spittle.
Harold turned slowly.
There, behind him, the Dwatters were rippling gently, merrily down the
wall toward the greater strong-pull of the ground...
"No!" Harold gasped
as he ran along beside the wall, desperately trying to stop the wall-slide,
pressing his hands against patches of light which dripped from under
his fingers. Then he froze. He jerked around and his face twitched in
a rictus of a smile at the camera. He walked toward the other side of
the archway, where the Dwatters were still sober. The technician followed
him, crouching below the line of sight, to ensure that the microphone
cable wouldn't snag. Unfortunately for Harold, her heart-shaped, well-covered
little bottom showed itself beautifully to the back half of the room
as she went.
"As you can see," he
said while he swaggered across, indicating with his hand, "several parts
of the fine murals have been erased. However, the artist who produced
such meaningful work could not have performed an act of vandalism. Consider.
What if he felt that a valid statement was being achieved? And the missing
statue - Min, god of fertility and, so say some, the original demiurge-"
At this point he turned in order to better point out the empty plinth.
His horrified eyes were thus hit by the full force of Min. The god's
manhood rose to the occasion, with a massive crackling of granite, as
the technician's bottom crossed his line of vision.
Harold passed out.
night and the following morning, Channel C were flooded with calls and
letters from people who wished to congratulate them on showing such
an unusual comedy. The only dissenting voices were from the prudish
Women Against Cancer and Indecency Association.