On Cav And Pag

Cav and Pag went up the hill to sing a gorgeous aria. Cav fell down and broke his crown and Pag came tumbling after. Cav and Pag lay in the muck at the foot of the hill with dented heads. They sang a siren song, hoping to attract an ambulance with a proper blaring siren. This is a technique known as sympathetic singing. You sing making the sounds of what you wish for. It doesn’t always work, but today it did, and Cav and Pag were halfway through the second verse of their siren song when along came an ambulance. Its blaring siren drowned out their singing.

The paramedics deployed goo and bandages and pills and bundled Cav and Pag into the back of the ambulance. For bureaucratic reasons they were taken to two different clinics, Cav to a rustic wellbeing centre and Pag to a clown hospital. Lying in their beds, many miles apart, Cav and Pag sang a duet. Each could hear the other’s part through hidden earpieces. But other patients on their wards, hearing only half a song, grew restive, and chucked things at them, hoping thereby to shut them up. The rustic patients showered Cav with rotten fruit and vegetables, and the clowns chucked pails of water over Pag.

Both of them stopped singing, and now all they could hear in their hidden earpieces was a low electronic hum. Cav and Pag began to hum in unison, but this served to exasperate the sick and recuperating rustics and clowns even further. The rustics rang their bells and the clowns parped their hooters to summon brutes, who turfed Cav out of the rustic wellbeing centre and Pag out of the clown hospital more or less instantaneously.

The singers sat, with bandaged heads, on pathways many miles apart. They struck up another duet, a gorgeous one, and began, tentatively, to make their ways towards each other. Both had head injuries, and were somewhat disorientated, and discovered, as they staggered along their pathways, that their sense of balance had been affected, and they kept toppling over. Eventually the strain of singing and moving at the same time became too much. Cav lay down to rest in a ditch, and Pag found a park bench upon which to sprawl. They fell silent. Their earpieces hummed.

Unbeknown either to Cav or Pag, the humming of their earpieces was picked up by a Blötzmann mast towering over a top secret national security facility, a cluster of deceptively ramshackle huts surrounded by a tall wire fence. It took an operative sat at his scanner in one of the huts mere seconds to locate, precisely, Cav’s ditch and Pag’s park bench. Mere seconds later, a gate in the fence buzzed open and a pair of bulky armoured vehicles trundled out, their drivers taking them in opposite directions.

They picked Cav up first. He was asleep, and they injected him with a serum to ensure he did not wake. Pag proved less tractable. He had dozed, but was woken by birdsong, and when they came to get him he was clowning around, still bandaged, still disorientated. He tried to escape their clutches by doing pratfalls on banana skins. They had to Taser him.

Cav and Pag were held in separate but adjoining rooms in a subterranean part of the facility. Their hidden earpieces were removed and taken to a lab for analysis. Data was extracted and transferred to old fashioned magnetic tape. The resulting recordings were then piped in to their separate holding cells through huge loudspeakers. Sat on stools, provided with beakers of vitamin-enhanced tap water, Cav was made to listen to Pag and Pag to Cav.

At first, they heard a gorgeous aria. But at the control desk in the Blötzmannite nerve centre, a sinister operative began a series of tape manipulations he had learned from various argumentative German composers in the 1950s. Cav and Pag heard each other backwards, at double speed, with distorted pitch, and with all sorts of other modifications. And always, as a running undertone, that electronic hum.

Their brains were already dislodged from their tumblings down the hill, and the tape recordings served only to derange them further. On day six, when they were taken out of their holding cells, both Cav and Pag, though outwardly right as rain, their bandages removed, were inwardly doolally.

It was at this point they were taken back to the foot of the hill, and injected with a serum that put them back to sleep. When they awoke, in the muck, they would remember nothing. Their tumblings, their broken crowns, the paramedics, the clinics, the rustics and clowns and rotten fruit and vegetables and pails of water and the top secret facility, the manipulated tape recordings, all forgotten.

Cav woke first, and shook Pag to wake him too. They rubbed their heads, in consternation and perplexity rather than from any physical cause.

“I am not sure where we are,” sang Cav, gorgeously, “But I feel curiously impelled, impelled, oh! impelled, tra-la, tra-lee, to go to Dallas, Texas.”

“Me too, me too, me too!” sang Pag, equally gorgeously.

“I shall take a Mannlicher-Carcano sniper’s rifle with me, to the Texas Schoolbook Depositor-eee!” sang Cav.

“And I shall keep watch, holding an umbrella, upon the grassy knoll, fol de rol!” sang Pag.

And so the pair set out on their journey, and they climbed every mountain and forded every stream, singing their hearts out, oh so gorgeously.

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