Did you know that Babinsky, the infamous walrus-moustached serial killer, had an idiot half-brother? This chap – who for the sake of convenience we shall call Babinsky 2 – was officially classified as a “type four cretin” under the official idiot classification system obtaining at that time, in that land, under that regime. I am afraid I don’t know how many numbered types of cretin there were, nor of the nature and number of other idiot types, and I have only been able to ascertain Babinsky 2’s official classification after years and years of fossicking about in mouldy archives, at grave peril to my physical and mental health. That is why I walk with a stick and hold what I delude myself are coherent conversations with birds including linnets and partridges.
As a type four cretin, Babinsky 2 was considered to be a peculiarly high-functioning idiot, deemed suitable for such tasks as using a pointy stick to gather litter from verdant parkland, mopping up filth in long corridors, sitting in a tent outside a cathedral, and writing opinion pieces for The Guardian. Unfortunately, due to fuddled bureaucracy, several doctors had instead recommended that the most effective treatment for him, at that time, in that land, under that regime, was to be chained up in a cellar and fed, very occasionally, on slops, or, if that option was not available, to be chained up in an attic and fed, very occasionally, on pap. Such, then, was his plight in the dying days of the corrupt and despicable reign of the double kings Umberto and Ignatz.
Babinsky himself, walrus-moustached and lumbering and psychotic, knew nothing of his idiot half-brother’s fate. They had been parted since they were tiny, if one can for a moment imagine a tiny Babinsky. Yet like us all, the blood-drenched nutcase was once an innocent babe-in-arms, rocked in a cradle and sung to by his mama, though perhaps we ought not examine too closely the words of the songs that good woman sang to him, nor indeed their tunes, if tunes they can be called, for it is probable that it was those very songs, or hideous caterwauls, that laid the eggs of crime within his brain. She did not sing to Babinsky 2.
Their parting happened, unexpectedly, during a family picnic, at a site of bucolic glory, when Babinsky was three and Babinsky 2 was two. There was a sudden thunderstorm. Mama was struck by lightning. A wolf carried Babinsky off into the woods. His idiot half-brother was left behind, drooling on the picnic blanket, deafened by jet fighters swooping low overhead, and by thunder, until he was gathered up and swaddled in the picnic blanket and borne away by a passing widow-woman. Old Mother Sebag-Montefiore had been reduced to penury since the death of her husband in one of King Umberto’s insane wars, or possibly in one of King Ignatz’s sane ones, and she conceived the idea of selling the child. At that time, in that land, under that regime, they had a primitive version of eBay, so she took a snapshot of the idiot tot and posted it and waited for bids to come in. All we know now is that at least one bid must have been made, for Babinsky 2 was indeed sold. To whom, and for what sum, we know not, and all trace of him is lost until he turns up, some thirty or forty or, god help us, fifty years later, chained up in a cellar or an attic by dint of bureaucratic fuddle.
At which point his criminal half-brother Babinsky reenters the scene. The double kingdom is on its last legs. Umberto is spending more and more of his time, like Baruch Spinoza, pitting spiders against each other in combat. Ignatz has taken to obsessive annotation of back numbers of the Reader’s Digest. Every day, entire flocks of birds are dropping dead out of the sky, and wherever one looks the potatoes are blighted. The land is descending into a state of anarchy, an ideal playground for a villain like Babinsky. No doubt, on that fateful March morning, cavorting with the wolves in the woods, he was plotting further and ever more heinous enormities. But then word reached him, via the primitive version of spam email prevalent at that time, in that land, under that crumbling regime, that his idiot half-brother, Babinsky 2, was languishing, chained up in a cellar or an attic and fed, very occasionally, on slops or pap, and all because of a fuddlement regarding precisely which classification of cretin type he fell into.
It is important for the reader to understand that for all his derangement and dementedness and bloodlust and psychopathology and the echoes of those mad horrible maternal songs ricocheting forever inside his skull, Babinsky was filled with a boundless fraternal devotion to Babinsky 2. How often he had vowed, if once he could find his lost half-brother, to clasp him to his bosom and slobber over him and teach him all the tricks of strangulation and slicing up and bone-smashing and other such murderous techniques as he had mastered! Oh, he had vowed as much at least three or four times during the long insanitary decades of Umberto’s and Ignatz’s kingship.
So now, on this windy March morning, apprised at last of his idiot half-brother’s plight, Babinsky preened his walrus moustache and set off for the grim bleak vile border outpost where Babinsky 2 was confined. On the way, he killed and killed and killed again. Close to the border, he stopped in a post office to ask for directions, and while he was there he bought some postage stamps. Well, to be more accurate, he did not so much buy them as steal them, having first snapped the spine of the postmaster and chopped him up with an axe. Having wiped his hands clean on one of his many rags, Babinsky was disconcerted to note that the heads of both Umberto and Ignatz had been scratched out on the postage stamps, and in their place was a hasty potato print of quite a different head, a head which bore a distinct resemblance to Babinsky himself.
“What can this mean?” he shouted, in vain, at the bloodied body-parts strewn across the post office floor.
What it meant was that, only the day before, the regime had finally collapsed. Umberto and Ignatz had been helicoptered into exile on a faraway sea-girt atoll. The revolutionary council had freed Babinsky 2 from his chains, and his cellar, or his attic, and installed him as their puppet leader. From that day on, for untold years, Babinsky 2 ruled the land, idiotically, chained up, sprawled on innumerable soft plush cushions, in the presidential palace and fed, copiously, with fruit ‘n’ fibre breakfast cereal and smokers’ poptarts and Feroglobin vitamin supplements.
Babinsky himself was never granted an audience with the puppet potentate, but he had other fish to fry, and bones to break, and throats to slit, and gore to spill.