:: Article

Revenge of the Mushroom People

By Steve Finbow.

I’m not sure what to do with it, I said.

Don’t look at me, said Frank.

What’s with your name, anyway?



Just a name.

Bit dull.

And yours isn’t?

Mine doesn’t sound like an honest retort, a stamp machine, or some dog-torching throwback song from a road-movie.

So, anyway. The thing.

I dunno. Could just leave it here. Close the door. Pretend it’s not there.

Hope it’ll go away.


It ain’t gonna go away.

Someone might take it.

It ain’t gonna go away.

I swear it has nothing to do with me.

What’s Mayumi say?



Mayumi says what Mayumi says, you know that.

You shown her?

Not so’s you’d notice.

She here?

In the bedroom curling her eyelashes.

You best tell her.

I can holler.

Holler away. This thing ain’t shifting.


Mayumi sits before a mirror framed with light bulbs. Four blown. Dusty grey, holding in their coldness a broken thing that looks a bit like an insect but is a wire filament with attached contacts. Mayumi’s small mouth pursed in concentration. Her eyes wide as if she cannot decide if it’s fear or embarrassment she is unable to feel. Her hand – the shadow puppet of a snapping turtle – holds the eyelash curler. Squeeze and curl. Squeeze and curl. Tweezers, scissors, nail clipper, cuticle pusher. Leaning against the mirror, a furry gorilla with a pink belly leaking kapok. Traces on the tweezers, on the scissors, on the pusher.



Louder, man.




She’s not hearing you, guy.

She doesn’t wanna hear, Frank.

Try again.


How far away is she?

Back in Japan, man.


Nah, man. She spaced.

It’s that eastern mysticism.

Nah, she a bit slow. You know?


She mash up my mind.







Want me go get?

Nah. She be right.




Mayumi stands, leans forward, nose nearly touching the mirror. The unblown lights highlighting skin pores, forming hillocks and mounds, depressions and valleys. Network of veins, underground river systems, the unique flora and fauna, her own ecosystem. Hair bobs elastically in two pigtails. Her reflection pouts, her red-tinged lips. White cotton slip rides up over boyish buttocks, pale pink panties stained with blood the colour and shape of burgundy-blot pansies. In the mirror, on the bed behind her, or in front of her as she looks, teddy bear without a head, pink rabbit minus an ear, calico cat missing a hind leg, droopy dog snoutless.


Mr Fritzl?





Oh… Yeah… Cool.

It’s making that noise again.

I hear it.

You gonna do anything?

Like what?

I dunno, maybe call someone.

Who’m I gonna call.



Just sayin’.

Well, just unsay, Frank.

You could call the police.

Ain’t calling no police.

What about ambulance?

It’s not sick, Frank.

How d’you know.

You seen it?

Yeah, you showed me.

And I ain’t calling no fire brigade either, neither.

What you gonna do?

Have another beer. Think on it.



Mayumi lies on the bed surrounded by de-articulated toys. Pink panties sopping with blood. Duvet beneath her absorbing, cotton density forming patterns, land-locked country, cityscape, child’s drawing of a spider web coloured in with maroon and crimson crayons, watery salmon red in exurbia, the borderlands. Hair upon the pillow like swiftly drawn rubber-insulated cables. Probes her teeth with her tongue, finds threads there, pieces of leather, gums bruised purple, teeth aching. Looks down toward the end of the bed, over swollen nipples showing beneath translucent slip, sag of belly, engorged mound, knock-kneed legs, pigeon-toed feet, spectral glow of toenails.



No problem, Frank.


How long we known each other, Frank?

Dunno. Like years.

Have I always called you Frank?

Far as I remember.

You never had a nickname?

Not so’s you’d know.

Umi calls you fatcheckshirt.

Yeah. Sounds about right. She got a name for you?

Sometimes calls me Tako.

Taco? Cos you like Mexican food.

Nah – Tako with a K.

With a K.

Yeah, as in takoyaki.

Like pachinko?

No, fool. Means octopus balls or some shit.

Ain’t saying anything.

They’s her favourite food.

Uh-huh. Making that noise again.

Hold this.


Mayumi’s sparkled eyelids quiver. Sweat-wet glitter on her cheeks. Lipstick on her chin. Slip completely see through. Panties grown into disco shorts. Duvet aching with cat hairs and heaviness. Beneath the bed, with the dust bunnies and tumbleweeds of black and pale brown hair, two used condoms, wads of tissue, balled towels sit like abstract sculptures kept in museum basements, unwatched, unthought over. Wastepaper basket – two plastic loops cut into straight lines attached to cardboard labels all pink with clouds and ponies. Mayumi’s eyes close, a chill as smooth and as longed for as Malibu on ice creeps up from her rainbow-coloured toenails, along her legs, into her pelvis, her organ tree raspberry ripples, tutti-fruttis, clusterfluffs.


Steve Finbow is between cities, straddling hemispheres. He is the author of the short story collection, Tougher Than Anything in the Animal Kingdom (Grievous Jones Press, 2011). Reaktion Books will publish his critical biography of Allen Ginsberg in 2012. He is working on a cultural history of necrophilia for Creation Books and is failing to keep quiet.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Thursday, August 11th, 2011.