Charles VI in Chinese University land [roaming, stabbing]

In Gupter Puncher/Oli Johns on September 16, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Once upon a time there was a tax form. And an immigration form. And electricity bills. And a whole lot of other things.

Charles VI, once a king, now uncertain, got the tax form on May 3rd and had one month to fill it in and send it back. But every time he opened the tax envelope and took out the form, or the forms, and looked at them all, he would panic, throw up his arms, and quickly put them away again.

I still have time. I’ll do it tomorrow.’

And when he wasn’t thinking about the tax forms, he was thinking about the immigration forms. And the electricity bills, and the other things. But the immigration stuff was undoubtedly the worst of it.

See, Charles VI wasn’t happy in Hong Kong. He hadn’t been happy for a long time, and for a long time he had been unable to think of a way out. Things weren’t the way they were before, those many years ago, when artisans and peasants would bail him out, and bail him out grandly, with swords at their throats.

Now…no. The swords were gone, the throats cut, the artisans dead, decayed, back in the earth.

But then someone had told him about Canada. That country over another sea, where they wouldn’t take your culture and throw it to the waves, but hold it to their chest and say, ‘hey, this is something good. Let’s keep it.’ And all this had sounded so good to Charles VI that he had gone to the website and seen that, indeed, it was good, and, yes, he was eligible, and quickly printed out the forms.

But those forms…Krist!

Just looking at Form 1, he knew there would be a lot of information to collect before he could even start to think about filling it in. In fact, he couldn’t even call it Form 1 as it’s correct name was from R1-00801-REC.

So every time he pulled out the immigration forms he would look at Form R1-00801-REC and say to himself, ‘Krist, I’ll do it tomorrow or the next day.’ And every time he reached for the tax form, he’d say the same thing. Do it some other time.

And things weren’t really that bad anyway as he still had his magazine to deliver. The one thing in his life that could distract him. His lovely, anarchic magaz-…

But that fucking tax form. And R1-00801-REC. Krist!

It was all he could think of. Every night when he lay down and tried to sleep, every time he woke up and reconnected with the real world, they would be there, dancing in front of him. And pretty soon the distraction of the magazine wasn’t enough, as it was always two against one.

By June 3rd, Charles VI was in deep shit.

The tax form had to be returned on that day or they would take him to court. And the immigration forms had to be done in order for him to escape from the nightmare of Hong Kong. But as he couldn’t even bear to look at the forms anymore, it seemed that the nightmare had found its way to keep him.

So he sat down on the sofa and tried one last time to fill out both forms. He took them out of their envelopes and laid them out on the table in front of him and stared at them. And stared. And stared. But as he stared, the table-…the table in front of him started to change and…and then the living room started to change, and he wasn’t sure but he felt-…it felt like the world was revealing itself to him in a certain way, and what it was saying to him was, fuck you, Charles VI, I made it so you couldn’t do the tax form or the immigration form or any form, and now you have no place in this world. In fact, not only do you have no place, you are also made of glass.

And as he listened to this, Charles VI actually believed the revelation had a brain and a set of ears, and he spoke back to it:

I can do the tax forms…’

But there was no answer, only the tax form and the immigration forms waiting on the table for him.

Charles VI looked down at them and repeated one more time, ‘I can do tax…’

But when he picked up the pen and tried to write his name in the first box he found that he couldn’t do it. He didn’t know why, but he was scared. So he tried a different box, the address box, but it was the same.

But they’re gonna take me to court…’ he told himself.

So he tried another box, another part of the form entirely, but it was the same. No matter what he did the tax form would beat him every time.

After an hour of this routine, he got up and went into the bathroom, and as he looked into the mirror he launched a prosecution of himself, a reasoning, that everyone else managed to fill in their tax [except Wesley Snipes] so why couldn’t he? Was he different in some way? And as fast as the prosecution came, so did the defence:

Why are you being so hard on yourself? You’ve got your eyes open, that’s all. And why should you have to do this tax thing anyway? It’s a form of control. It’s a scam, a con, to get you under their cloak, and you don’t really want to be under their cloak, do you?

No, I want to be in Canada…’ Charles VI said.

Well, that’s one place you could go, but…

Charles VI remembered the immigration forms waiting for him on the living room table and shook his head. Okay, what about the magazines?

Yes, the magazines…’ he said then checked himself. ‘But they don’t make any money…’

He went back into the living room and looked at the four remaining boxes all stacked up in the corner, one of them open and revealing the shadowed Nick Nolte face on its cover. That wicked face…

‘Distribute,’ he muttered. ‘Distribute and colonise.’

Through the rabbit hole…

The magazines weren’t the only reason Charles VI found himself walking around the Chinese University of HK campus on his day off. There was also the short film. Yes, it was just a whim really, but he had a camera and the campus would be free to use, so why not, he thought?

So he walked up one of the many roads on the one huge hill that the campus was built on, carrying his rucksack filled with around eighty magazines, and he thought of how peaceful everything looked. There were kids on the tennis courts. There were boys and girls carrying guitar cases and trumpets and posters for forthcoming events. And the things there weren’t. Blood. Limbs. Irish Kerns. English routiers. Men riding back from raids with dead babies hanging from their horse. None of that anymore.

Walking through all this…peace, Charles VI convinced himself he wanted in.

Perhaps if I come back and do the short film, and stay here for a few days…he thought. But why would they let me stay? I’m 642 years old. My student days were many years ago. And suddenly it seemed so impossible, and looking at all the other students, even the western ones, he felt so old, so impossibly old, and he knew there was no way he could stay.

So he dropped off some of the magazines at the Union and then walked a little further around the campus and found a little café, and he put some more magazines there, and every face he saw…Krist, even every tree he saw was like a smack in the face, saying, fuck you, don’t you think about coming back here, you piece of shit…

And Charles VI walked around for another hour or so thinking of himself as an irrevocable piece of shit.

Until it was time to leave.

In front of the train station there was now a wall with an iron door built into the side of it. And on the iron door was a stuck-on piece of paper, saying, ‘No exit [for a little while]. Sorry.’

Wait…my tax form…’ Charles VI said.

But the iron door was resolute and kept up its piece of paper.

So Charles VI had no choice but to turn around and walk back up the hill and into the student union, where he sat down next to two female students and asked them if there was only one way off the campus. They ignored him, so he asked again, and this time one of them stretched out an arm and pointed outside the cafeteria.

Charles VI stood up, muttered thank you, and followed the invisible trail of the arm outside and along the road until the road stopped and the trail kept going, floating out and downwards to the river of Sha Tin.

‘I didn’t know there was a river there,’ he said to no one.

And then the trail dissolved.

At night Charles VI lay down on the forum steps near the Union.

There was no one around after one in the morning, so he could have time to himself. And what he invariably thought about was…

During the day he would wander back to the train station and see if the iron gate had gone. He would do this around eight times a day, but it was no use. The gate was always there.

Yet, all these students kept coming in and going out.


He waited around the gate for three hours to see what was happening when they left, but the thing was, no one left while he was watching. Students would walk near the gate and then stop and talk. They would talk endlessly it seemed, but as soon as Charles VI turned away or scratched his eyes, they would disappear.

It wasn’t natural, surely, but there it was, happening in real time and real space right before his eyes.

In the cafeteria he would think it out.

There was an iron gate blocking the train station.


There was no other way out.


Students were still leaving, despite the iron gate.


They were leaving very fucking fast, when he wasn’t looking.


Things didn’t seem to be obeying natural laws.


‘Unless I’m not in real time or real space anymore…’ he mumbled to his plastic fork, which managed to keep its shape despite everything else being impossible.

And for the rest of the day, and the one after that, Charles VI walked around the campus and tried again to talk to people. But each time they would say less and less, until finally they wouldn’t even respond. And when he waved his hands in front of their faces…nothing. Blank.

‘Like Rouen,’ he mumbled to the vending machine outside the cafeteria. ‘Like Orleans and Compeigne.’

And the vending machine didn’t push him away so he continued…

‘They promised us no quarter, and they kept coming and burning and hanging. Oscar le Roche, the flag bearer, a decent boy, they put up the gibbets and hung him in plain view…and it wasn’t-…that wasn’t-…’

He stopped to wipe his eyes, yet there was nothing to wipe.

‘I’m sorry, I thought I was crying,’ he told the vending machine. ‘crying for young Oscar…but no, never mind…a thousand years ago it was…or seems…I can’t remember, but…yes, they did come, at Rouen…in the marketplace with two thousand put to the sword…the flames…the pickaxe…’

And later, falling asleep with his head against the vending machine, he told it that, even after all these years, things had yet to be accounted for, and one day, he didn’t know when, but one day, things would be accounted for. Absolutely accounted for.

‘But first, that damn tax form.’

After a few months things were a little different.

Charles VI had forgotten about the tax form and the immigration stuff, and was starting to adapt to the way of things.

The iron gate was still there, but it seemed less serious now.

Charles VI had even gone as far as to lean on it, and nothing had happened. And it didn’t really matter anyway as there was no pressing need for escape.

Because he was popular.

And he was having a good time.


He didn’t really understand it himself, as after a month of sitting in the cafeteria every day and being ignored, he’d gone mad. He’d picked up his plastic fork and started spearing people, and when they didn’t react, he’d gone closer and tried to stab it into their necks. Still nothing, so he’d walked outside and accused the first student he saw of trying to shatter him.


I am glass and you are trying to shatter me,” he shouted.

I’m doing what?”

Krist, you’re-…”

And Charles VI was about to continue when he realised…they weren’t ignoring him anymore.

And all it took was madness.

Charles VI encouraged his madness every day for the next two months.

And people loved it.

When he made a necklace out of broken coffee glasses, people came closer to have a look.

When he started touching the women, the men cheered.

When he started touching the men, the women got jealous.

When he raped them both, they watched in silence.

When he stood on one of the tables in the cafeteria and spoke out his plan to lead a chevauchee across campus, leaving nothing and no one alive in its wake, the students lifted him up onto their shoulders.

They didn’t know what a chevauchee was, but they loved him.

So after [roughly] five months of non-motion, of being trapped and bound by a singular gate and its surrounding academic guard, Charles VI was King [again].

And as King he built himself a throne.

A throne made of plastic forks, for the fork was his first subject. And he needed a queen, so he took the first woman he’d ever touched.

And right away she was pregnant.

And Charles VI took his people and led them to the forum steps and drank into the night and gave them a speech in the morning, a speech that laid out his plan.

‘I am the King of France, and I will claim my right.’


‘I am the King, and you are my subjects, my knights, my men-at-arms, and together we shall return and…and we shall give no quarter.’


‘Just like the English, just like Henry and the men of Agincourt and Rouen and Compeigne, we shall spare no one. We shall strike brain with our pickaxe, cut off flesh with our dagger…cut through the gaps of their armour and put them on their knees like crabs…like upturned crabs…and we shall give no quarter, just like Henry…and as they lie crab-like on that field we shall leap on them and open their visors and stab our knives deep into their face…’


‘…and the prisoners, the civilians…we shall put them in tents and burn the tents and watch from the sides…dig trenches and push them in, men, women, children, just like the English, just like their King, and watch them starve and wail in the mud.’


‘And we will loot their wealth, and keep it for ourselves, and burn and cut the rest, and if they try to stand up then we shall cut them at the knees and cut their throats like animals. And no quarter given, friends, for this is the standard…the standard of Henry, the standard of…the standard of any chevauchee…’

And that day he ordered the students to build him an armada, a flock of ships dressed like wolves, and they would take that armada and sail it all the way to France, picking up mercenaries along the way, picking up anything that was willing to fight and seek its fortune, his routiers, he called them, and together they would land on the shores of Calais and-…


I am out of ideas.

Is there any way to finish this?

There’s a limit to this…

You can push absurdity only so far, then it breaks.

No one wants absurd anymore.

But that’s what keeps coming to me.

Into my head.

Can I write any other way?


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