Rites by Paul Kavanagh


Paul Kavanagh

Now we could travel to the Temple of Imoa. The snow had melted. The wind had died down to a whisper. The Bradford Pear trees were blooming. Henry said that the smell was like that of rotting dogs and cats. Henry had spent some time on the Island of Lorlorlor. The male population of Lorlorlor on the Rite of Trees kill cats and dogs and hang them from the budding trees so that the female population can see how much the male population wants to fertilize their eggs. Henry put forward the idea that we should go to Lorlorlor. But knowing that the Rite of Trees was soon to take place we declined. Charles opened a book and pointed to the Temple of Imoa in the region of Bolokton. Immediately we agreed that we should visit the Temple of Imoa.

“Listen chaps, dear Pappy said we could use the Rolls,” said Charles. “If only the thing could fly,” said Percy, who was readying for his trip to Brazil so that he could interview the great living writer Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis. We were all very very jealous. “One day I am going to write a book about a flying Rolls Royce,” I said. “Yes, that would be super,” said Henry. Percy showed us a trick. Percy is obsessed with magic tricks. “Here is the Invisible Lasso,” said Percy. Percy held up a napkin twisted into rope. He pretended to lasso the rope with an imaginary lariat. He pulled the lariat and the napkin moved NSWE. We clapped, cheered, and roared with laughter. “I can’t wait to show it to Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis,” said Percy.

Charles went out and came back with fish and chips and a crate of champagne. We got terribly drunk. “It says here that once a year the men of Bolokton lodge their heads into the rectums of bulls. There have been many deaths. The shaman reads the dappled faces for signs, caveats, prophecies,” said Henry.

In the morning we waved goodbye to Percy. “He has all the luck,” I said. “Have you not heard, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis is no longer with us, he is now keeping Brás Cubas company,” said Henry. We laughed. “Poor Percy,” I said. For breakfast we had cold fish and champagne.

“Did you know that the men of Imoa all had huge penises and that is why all their statues are missing noses?” I said. I was feeling drowsy. The cold fish lay heavy on my stomach and the bubbles from the champagne were still popping in my head. “Yes, and it says here” — Henry lifted up the book he was reading” — “that for every three hundred men there was one woman.” It seems the men of Imoa were all homosexual, much in the same way as the Spartan men, but whereas the Spartan men bonded because of war, the men of Imoa just enjoyed the act of homosexuality. “They kept women fundamentally for breeding,” said Charles.

It started to rain, so we decided to spend the day drinking gin. Not wanting to waste the day, we took out a map and started to plan our route. We were all very excited. As Henry drew a line, I slept. When I awoke, Henry had set out our trajectory. He did a marvelous job. “Here’s to Henry,” I said, lifting up my glass. We toasted Henry. “Hip hip hooray!” The gin was exquisite.


To reach the Temple of Imoa and not die of dehydration we would have to stop at Phappah. We were very excited. The people of Phappah drink a very strong brew. It is called Troolalalala. Nobody can quite describe the effects of the drink because the drink affects each drinker differently. Some say it all depends on what the drinker has in his digestive system concerning solid food. Others say it depends on what the drinker had imbibed twenty-four hours before drinking the beverage. Troolalalala looks like crude oil. But, surprisingly, the viscosity is like that of cold air. It contains all the colors of the rainbow in movement, but when still it is verdigris. The people of Phappah do not use their legs. They have been called the legless tribe.

I woke up in a terrible position. I had a raging hangover. I opened my eyes and found myself in-between Henry and Charles. It turns out we got crazily drunk and slept in the same bed. For breakfast we had kippers.

We visited Smyrna and Constantinople. From Beirut we traveled to Tripoli and Damascus, followed by a swift tour of Holy Land sites. After an excursion to the Dead Sea we traveled by boat down the Nile.

We had roast chicken for tea and smoked Turkish cigarettes. We were amazed at how quickly our beards grew. Henry had to use scissors on Charles. He was having trouble driving the Rolls. His beard kept getting in his eyes.

“I would hate to be a pawn,” said Charles. We were playing chess. Charles was winning. He could not decide b2’s metamorphosis. He rubbed his chin. Thinking really distorts his face, it is funny to see. “Why?” I had to ask. Charles picked up b2. “Well it’s not much of a reward to reach your goal and then find out you are a Queen.”

The Rolls zipped through the desert sands. The sand had no impact on the engine. A thing we had worried about. We only stopped to sleep. Sleeping under the stars is majestic. We hardly touched the brandy. “I can’t wait to see the Festival,” said Henry. He was hidden under a mountain of blankets. I could not see Charles. The villages around the Temple of Imoa still reenact the Festival of men of Imoa. We did not know about this until we had reached Xenanolpe. On a wall in a bar there was an advertisement for the Festival. We had stopped for a drink. Charles craved a cool beer. I was bitterly disappointed. “Look,” said Charles, pointing to the poster. “What you are pointing to is a great Festival,” said a Xenanolpian. You cannot trust Xenanolpians. They tell dreadful lies. A Xenanolpian dog has two members.

What we thought was a trick of the light, a mirage, a black smudge in the blue sky, turned out to be Percy sitting atop of a tall dune. We could not believe our eyes. Percy was dressed in rags. His face was smeared with sweat and oil; he was holding a bottle of vodka. I’ll allow Percy to tell you what happened. “I was talking to a lovely chap from Xenanolpe. He was telling me that all the dogs in Xenanolpe have syphilis. When I told him I was going to see Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, he tapped me lightly on the knee and informed me that the great Brazilian was long dead. I couldn’t believe my luck. I started to drink heavily. I think I must have stepped onto the wrong aeroplane. I settled down with a lovely glass of red wine. The aeroplane shot into the sky. I finished the red wine. I thought my head was spinning but it turned out to be the aeroplane cycling around over the desert. By the time the damn thing crashed I was seasick and vomiting over myself. If it hadn’t been for the man from Xenanolpe I would never have found you. It turns out he had had a conversation with the three of you only the night before.”

Percy sits in the back beside me. He reeks of oil, sweat, and alcohol. Charles and Henry share the driving. The Rolls engine purrs. The vastness of the desert is only matched in wonderment by the uniformity and color. We are truly amazed that Percy was able to find us. After a while the dunes disappear into the fabric of the sands and all you see are the soft undulations of a silk blanket rippling until it merges with the striking azure that paints the area above our heads. Percy and I play guess the mirage. It is similar to the game we played as child, the only difference back then we guessed the clouds. “The blessed Queen shaving her, O deary me.” Percy covers his mouth and feigns being traumatized. I was never good at it back in school and I am truly awful now.


We arrived in the middle of the night, the rain, the fog a monochrome, shifting veil, reminded us of Salford in late December. The people of Phappah are ferruginous in color and have huge bellies. They sleep sitting up. In the morning we were welcomed with Troolalalala. The King of the Phappah sat at the head of the table. He is an affable chap, old and wise, and has many great tales to tell. He lifted up his chalice and toasted us. We drank Troolalalala. Suddenly, Percy jumped up onto the table. “I want big tits. I want hairy twats.” Henry and Charles removed Percy from the table. They took him to the Rolls. He was still demanding the attention of women. The King was mightily displeased. We had another round of Troolalalala and then left the King and his people. When we got back to the Rolls, Percy had vanished. Too drunk, fatigued, on the verge of sleep, we said we would find him once the effects of the drink had waned. I awoke to the shouts of Henry. “Get up. Dress. We need to be on the move!” Before I could retrieve my senses I was in the back of the Rolls and Charles had his foot all the way down on the pedal. For an hour I struggled to remember how to talk. Finally, I achieved my goal. “What happened?” Henry pointed to the space next to me. My awareness of space started to spread. “They had Percy for breakfast, the buggers. I watched them devour him. They boiled his carcass in a huge pot.” Poor Percy. If only I could have found out how he had lassoed the napkin.

When or why we picked up Otto is still a mystery to me. “Mein Name ist Otto,” he said, shaking my hand. He had been out cycling and had an accident. He showed me his bruised knee. “Ich komme aus Hamburg.” I knew that he was German because of the Lederhosen. “Ich bin kein Spion.” What warmed me up to Otto was the Kirschwasser he produced out of his rucksack. We got merrily drunk and Otto taught us a new song. “Ich bin aus dem großen Penis zu sehen!”


The lane to the Temple of Imoa is rocky, uneven, and very dangerous. Henry took the wheel. Charles had the shakes. I allowed Charles to sit in the back with Otto. “Ich liebe Radfahren. Ich liebe den Wind in meinem Haar. Ich liebe die Spannung auf den Beinen. Ich liebe den Nervenkitzel in meinen Armen. Wenn die Landschaft verschwimmt Ich segne Natur,” said Otto.

We had three days to catalogue all the bricks that once made up the Temple of Imoa. I am greatly disappointed. When I found out the publishers of the book Henry had been reading was housed in Xenanolpe, I cursed loudly. I am not proud of the uncouth manner in which I behaved. I am only thankful Otto was unable to translate the words I had used. The temple was no more than foundations. Henry, being an exquisite craftsman, drew a picture of what the Temple would have looked like. It was a grand drawing.


The uneven streets are packed. All doors have been flung open, all windows are up. There are around thirty thousand drunks walking up and down the small, cobbled streets. It’s a melee of staggering bodies. It is truly exhilarating. We are almost crushed into dust. All of Bolokton has spilled out onto the streets. At dusk I am told the procession will take place. It is a brouhaha of sweating bodies. “Mehr Alkohol!” screams Otto. The colors on display are only matched by the music. There must be around twenty bands all playing at the same time. It is a strange, but wonderful cacophony. “Liebe das Leben!” shouts Otto down my ear. I pull on Henry’s arm. We leave the hub and find a perfect little hill to perch upon. Otto and Charles are having a jolly good time. “Mehr Alkohol!”

The lights have been turned on. The sun is waning. Otto has joined Henry and me. Charles is lost in the crowd. Loud drumming starts the procession. We are awestruck. Around two hundred burly men are carrying a golden… “Harten Schwanz!” screams Otto. “I have never seen anything like it,” says Henry. The Golden Phallus is carried on a sea of hands. It is truly amazing. The gold coruscates as the lights hit it. I am dumbfounded. I cannot even compute the weight, never mind the cost. “It must be a mile long,” says Henry. “7532,5 Meter um genau zu sein,” says Otto. Everybody wants to touch it. There are hands touching it everywhere. The shaft is now totally covered in hands. “Es ist beschnitten,” says Otto. The gland is portrayed as swelled. The girth is hard to swallow. It is breathtaking. The craftsmanship is extraordinary. Each ripple, each fold, the urethra, it is all the work of a true genius. The median raphe alone is worth a thousand Catholic cathedrals. “Karl!” screams Otto, standing up. His knees rub against my left ear. Otto is pointing to Charles, for that silly boy is riding the Golden Phallus like he is some cowboy at a Rodeo. And all of Bolokton are cheering him on. “Karl liebt Penis!” says Otto sitting back down. The Golden Phallus starts to go up and down. Charles is thrown into the air, but miraculously he lands back on the penis. This goes on and on until he finally slips off.


“I think we should go to Amarante, Portugal,” says Henry. We have lost Charles. We have no idea where he is. “Yes, Amarante, Portugal,” I agree. “Ja,” says Otto. We pack up the Rolls. Otto drives. I open a book on Gonçalo de Amarante. Otto is a fine driver. I tap Henry on the shoulder, he turns. “I can’t wait to try those pastries,” I say. Henry smiles. “Yes I am rather hungry.”

About the Author

Paul Kavanagh lives in Charlotte.