The fifth horseman

Catastrophe, if given the chance in the hours before closing time, would tell you how he was originally the Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse, his preferred choice of ride was a Shetland Pony. He was none too keen on horses, donkeys could just go fuck themselves, and the other four horsemen refused to let him use his push bike,
“Its just not the right image, not the image we are trying to project” said Death as they try to build their unique brand,
“Hahahahaha, could you imagine him announcing himself with the bikes bell, TRING, TRING….TRING, TRING, make way here comes Catastrophe” Pestilence added, and imitating some one riding a bike, sticking his tongue out as he mimed the ringing of the bell, the room fell apart, up to that point, the grand launch meeting had been serious, looking at the feedback from market research, graphs, Venn diagrams, video’s and endless smarminess from the media company they had chosen for branding advice. As the laughter died down and tears were dried, the meeting continued.

Catastrophe said he had picked up hints from the media guys, that he had not polled well amongst the test group they used. The other guys to their credit, had missed the subtext during the meeting, and had reassured him there was no Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse without him, even if he decided that a pogo stick would be his new mode of transport. This had Pestilence mimicking how he would bounce in on his pogo stick, and again they all fell about laughing, except Catastrophe. He was always the butt of their jokes, and he had began to feel he was not quite one of the crowd, a week later, as he rode his bike down Main Street, they were at the far end of the road, waiting, and as he rode closer they started to throw over ripe vegetables and fruits at him, or more precisely the wicker basket attached to the front of his bike. He had to wash his cloak to rid it of fruit and vegetable matter that had hit him, rather than the basket. Those that had hit the basket had splattered, showering him in purée, as the rest lodged in the gaps between wicker branches, and it took longer to clean than his cloak. He was not sure if it was his imagination or not, but the entire bike felt sticky, no matter how many times he had cleaned it. When he entered the office he found them working out the points score, and winner of, the less than fresh fruit and vegetable lobbing challenge on the whiteboard. There was even a prize for the winner, yet no offer of a hand cleaning up, and what made it worse was when Jesus saw the mess left, its was Catastrophe, and Catastrophe alone who got the blame, a demerit and told to clean it, and a massive crowed turned out to watch him do it.

He saw his ‘friends’ on a first floor balcony, and as he looked at them he saw them all duck below the balustrade only to reappear holding more greengrocers waste. No sooner had he got a patch of pavement clean, than the crew had redecorated it with more vitamin enriched slime. Just as it began to get dark, and most of the audience had wandered off, he finally finished, text Jesus to come and inspect his work, while he sat down and enjoyed a cold beer.

There had been a couple more examples of being outcast from the group, he was no longer in the email chain for meeting dates, one of the media guys had just blanked him in the street a few days later. Then within a month of the ‘fruit burst’ an article appeared in the gospel times, an interview with the Fab Four on their plans and hopes for the Apocalypse, how they deal with groupies and the pressure of the job. Not one word was mentioned about Catastrophe, not one single word, all he could do was set fire to the daily rag and stomp around the house, he was fuming. In all the centuries they had been together, he though he was owed at least a few words explanation on why he was out, what had he done? As he strolled around his house looking for mischief he could not rid those words in the paper or the photographs of them all on their horses, he kicked a door, punched a hole in the plasterboard wall and smashed various pieces of objet d‘art from his mantelpiece.

Padauk bowl. More at Bespoke Woods Facebook page.

After half a day spent stomping around his room he grabbed his coat from the peg and began pulling it on as he opened the door and left the house. He arrived at The Angel and Cherub five minutes later, ordered a beer and a chaser, then a second shot, third and the fourth was taken from the bar to an available booth. He pulled the freshly purchased notepad from the the carrier bag and the new Bespoke Woods water Buffalo horn pen. He opened the pad, removed the exquisitely hand carved cap and wrote on the top line, ‘Afterlife’, and underlined it three times. This became a daily task, pub, write, drink and fall over on the way home. Those who try to enter in to conversations with him get the full, ‘I was the fifth horseman of the Apocalypse’ story, as he drinks his never ending pint and chaser. It has been fifteen years now, most locals know to avoid eye contact with him, just in case they are pulled in to the never ending conversation. He is still on his first notepad, but second ink refill, the book is filled with doodles, the only word on any page is the word ‘Afterlife’ written on top of the first page.

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