Death Star Crack Stick Blues

Camillus John

Ellen Earth plonked herself down in a huff and stuck two fingers up at Stephen Sun.

‘I thought you loved me but in fact you’re a complete bastard. I’m off. I’m getting out of this solar system the first chance I get.’

Stephen extended his left arm and dropped it into Italy trying to pick up Yerman Galileo and bite his head off.

‘Stop that now, Stephen. You leave my poor Italian man alone. Do you hear me? He’s a proper scientist that knows things – or can work them out with a pencil. Not like you – a complete bastard.’

Stephen took his hand back as if it had been mouse-trapped with cheese and put it back into his pocket.

‘What do you mean by that? Yerman Galileo is talking out of his smelly-cheesed backside.’

‘No, he’s not. He proved it all with equations. What have you ever proved with equations? Fuck all. That’s what. And Parmesan smells gorgeous.’

Stephen removed his sunglasses and shook his head back and forth, back and forth. However, when he saw the vehemence of her finger-poking gesticulations his gob opened into a perfect o shape you could fit your whole head into. Perhaps two. She was sorely tempted but resisted the urge to punch his teeth in.

‘How can he prove anything at all Ellen? It’s impossible. Have you seen the size of his telescope. It’s tiny. You can’t prove anything with something that small.’

Akimbo, Ellen shot him the most cutting blue-planet eyes he’d ever been on the receiving end of.

‘It’s not the size of your telescope that matters Stephen, as well you should know, but how you deal with problems up there in your head that really counts. And his mind-space is bigger than a horse’s cock. You’re just pissed off that he’s ruined the big party you’ve been having for millennia and millennia and millennia.  Because do you know what my Galileo has done? Well, I’ll tell you, sunshine. He’s only gone and proved with equations – yes fucking equations, big hairy equations with gold teeth – that you’ve been sitting on your hole all these years. Yes, you’ve been sitting and swivelling in the one place watching football and eating crisps. You said that you loved me. That I was your Juliette. That your whole life and heart revolved around me, Ellen Earth, the love of your life. Revolved around me? That’s a joke alright. It turns out that I’ve been revolving around you for millennia. You made me think that you were doing all the hard work in this relationship whereas it was me all along. I’m off and out of your Milky Way with the next planet that asks me up, Stephen. You’re a cockwomble. Look, here comes Mick Mars now. I might just say yes this time Steve. I might just do that and get outta here for good.’

‘Come on Ellen, we’ve a month booked away in the Sombrero galaxy next week. It’ll take our minds off everything for a while.’

‘There’ll be no holiday Steve. You’ll cancel. Something will come up. It always does. And it always will. We’ll never go on holidays from this godforsaken solar system. We’re stuck here forever.’

‘So, Galileo has told you everything Ellen. Has he? The bastard.’

‘Yes, he has and he’s not a bastard, he’s a very nice bearded man who loves his coffee.’

‘But Ellen, has he told you why I won’t, or more to the point, can’t move from the spot I swivel and shine upon, has he?’

‘He didn’t get to that bit yet. He’s still thinking about it. But it’s because you’re a lazy bollocks with no curiosity. Anyone can see that. Do you not want to see the universe, travel around and broaden your horizons instead of swivelling in this stink-hole of a galaxy 24-7?’

‘It’s not my fault stuff keeps coming up. There’s lots of overtime you need to continually put in when you’re the star of your own solar system. Everything depends on me. If I –‘

‘I don’t want to hear it Stephen. We’re over and done with now. It’s too painful staying with someone who continually doesn’t do what he says he’s going to do.’

She looked into his eyes. He was trying to control his emotions as best he could. She saw tears.

‘And you can turn off the waterworks, Stephen, that won’t work on me anymore. Get a grip. You’re supposed to be the big-cheesy sun. Learn to sun-up, man, tears do not become you. You look ridiculous. And Mick Mars is on his way over, his eyes are practically dancing slip-jigs at me. Don’t disgrace and make a show of me, Stephen, ok? Don’t ruin my chances of a better life out of here.’

‘But I love you with all my heart and soul. Yerman Galileo didn’t tell you that if I do move, even a single baby step, this whole solar system will be no more, it’ll explode.’

‘Oh Mister big shot. God almighty you think you are. Chief Sitting Bull. Can you not just get one of your sister or brother suns to fill in on your day off?’

‘No, Ellen, please, I can’t ask anyone else, they’ve all got their own solar systems to look after and nurture. Sure, the universe would disappear if we suns took off willy-nilly at the drop of a hat.’

‘Drop of a hat? You call a well-planned holiday I booked on the internet way before Christmas, ‘at the drop of a hat’? Do you? Well you can fuck right off. Here comes Mick now.’

Mick sauntered towards Ellen with the collar of his jacket flicked skywards, hands in the pockets, a crack stick drooping from the corner of his mouth.

‘Ellen, what’s the story? Me and Ursula Uranus and a few of the other heads are going up the Tadpole Galaxy tonight for a few drinks. There’s a great band on. Cinderella’s Left Testicle, they’re called. The new post-punk, apparently. Do you fancy a few swift ones with the guys?’

Mick swivelled to face Stephen when he felt him staring into the back of his neck like molten lava.

‘You too, Stephen. Fancy a few scoops with the guys later? You’re more than welcome. We’ll be there from eight o’clock.’

Ellen walked up to Mick.

‘A few scoops? Sure Mick, when has that asshole ever bothered to go out with you guys? He’s never done it. Something or some sort of emergency always seems to arise that he has to cancel every time. Have you noticed that? He won’t bother his hole for anyone. Never has Mick, never will. I don’t know why you still ask him anymore. And Mick, yeah, yeah, yeah, I think I’ll come out with you tonight. I need a night out – go mental for a change. Insane in the membrane. It’ll do me good.’

‘Good woman yourself Ellen. Fair play. See you later. But don’t go too hard on Stephen, would you? He’s the sun. Hard fucking job if you ask me. I wouldn’t do it. The responsibilities are immense. Mind boggling.’

Ellen asked for a crack stick and immediately started sucking and puffing.

‘We were supposed to go to the Sombrero galaxy next week for a few weeks. He says he can’t do it now, has to work.’

‘He’s right Ellen. You should talk to Yerman Galileo, he was out with us last week on a session. Mighty lad. A devil for the detail though. He said that if Stephen went anywhere we’d all explode, crumble or something even worse. Gaseous anomalies would only be the start of it. To be honest, I’m only asking Stephen out with us to be polite.’

‘You’re Captain Sensible, Mick. And I thought you were so post-punk. Such a let-down. He could get some other sun to switcheroo with him for a while and give him a break.’

‘But he loves you Ellen, everyone knows that. He’s been nurturing and looking after you fastidiously for billions of years. The blue planet. There isn’t another rock like you for light years around here. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right for Galileo to flourish and have deep thoughts. That’s love, Ellen, in my book. He even got you to give up smoking the coal. You were killing yourself for years Ellen with those cancer sticks. You’re better off now on the crack. He saved you. But what would I know, eh? A silly burnt out red planet living too close to the sun. In a few million years Galileo will have the brain capacity to build his own sun. Think. Chin-stroke. That’s not that long away Ellen. Then he’ll be able to take you anywhere in the universe you wish. The Cigar Galaxy perhaps. Or the Pinwheel or the Whirlpool even. He’d be able to do that for you – he’s the brightest sun I know or have ever known. And I tell you, I’ve known quite a few dull ones in my time.’

Mick took another two crack sticks out of his pack and lit them. He handed one to Ellen. They stood there in silence enjoying the suck-and-puff buzz.

Stephen wasn’t listening though. His head was awash with pictures of Ellen leaving him and his solar system with Mick Mars, Freddy Mercury, Ursula Uranus and all the rest never to return. She’d hadn’t left him in years. There was just that brief flirtation she’d had with Sally Saturn and her beautiful silver rings, but she came back to him in the end. Ellen was very young at the time, her first relationship. He’d had a few relationships in his time too. So fair enough. Maybe he should let her go. If you love somebody set them free and all that jazz. She might come back to him in the end, realise how bright he was. Galileo would tell her. In the meantime he could busy himself here making things even better. He might try to get life going on Freddy Mercury again in her absence.

But no, he had to declare himself, try to win her back somehow. Who knew what would happen next. He might not live as long as he thinks. An asteroid or something might kerboom bang boom him. Besides, he couldn’t live without her. Billions of years they’d been together but no holiday. The brute facts. Hard to listen to when spoken aloud like that. Was he that poor that he couldn’t go on holidays ever? Why did he, the sun, work 24-7 if he couldn’t go on holiday with the love of his life once every couple of years? She was right. Galileo was right. Stephen had watched the rave-ups on M1 in the Crab nebula from afar for years. Jenny Jupiter, Ursula Uranus, Mick Mars, Sally Saturn, all the guys – wild mad holidays. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. While he stayed at the centre of his own solar system keeping everything and the love of his life tick-tocking along magnificently.

He went through a dark phase of destroying any planets that went on holiday. Jealousy. By making it much too warm or much too cold for comfortable existence or making conditions perfect for a super race of neoliberal rats to proliferate and destroy the planet from within. They’d been at least another twenty planets in the solar system originally, but, that was a long time ago. He eventually learned to let them have their fun ‘n frolics and accept his hard-working place at the centre of the solar system stoically until he’d nurtured a brain on Ellen Earth that could design his own replacement. Eventually. Galileo would help them get there. A huge step on the ladder. He concentrated on love in the meantime. Pure love. The pure love he had for his Ellen Earth. But now she was going, leaving him – and she might never come back. There was no way he could face another millennium without her. There was only one thing to do – and he had to go boldly and just fucking do it.

‘Ellen!’ he shouted turning his attention to the space outside his own sun mind for a change. She was packing a suitcase. It was heavy already.  All readied-up for post-punking it in the Tadpole Galaxy later that night with Ursula, Mick and the guys.

‘Ellen, we can go to the Sombrero Galaxy this evening. Four weeks not just two. I can’t face not having you near for a single second. Come on, let’s go.’

Ellen looked over her shoulder and dropped the suitcase.

‘Hold on a second Stephen, I need to have a few words with Yerman Galileo first – that’s if he can take his hands off his telescope for a few minutes and talk to me. Mick Mars has opened my eyes. It mightn’t be safe. You might have a point. Stay where you are for a second. I’ll just nip over to Italy for a bit.’

But it was too late. He wasn’t listening. Love-buzzing. Stephen had already stepped towards her undaunted with two arms held out in readiness for a hug. A hug he’d pined for since practically the beginning of time.

Everyone’s orbit was fucked. Ellen veered off to the left. Freddy Mercury dropped like a lead weight. They collided. Exploded into a million smithereens. Into Stephen’s face. Like most of the planets.

Not them all though. Priscilla Pluto, Ursula Uranus, Mick Mars and a few others had only minutes earlier clustered together and headed for the Tadpole galaxy. They’d escaped explosion by leaving for an early pint to catch the warm-up band, Erica and the Earwigs. They’d left for the gig just in the nick.

Nobby Neptune, Sally Saturn and Jenny Jupiter didn’t make it either, I’m afraid. Ellen exploded into smithereens that splintered everywhere like shrapnel. Stephen reached out and managed to save a small lump of her, Italy he hoped. He kissed and cradled her in his arms and went back to his place at the old centre. Which was going to be the new centre as well, he decided. He put her remnant the requisite distance from him, set her in orbit around him and folded his arms.

‘I’m willing to wait for you again Ellen. No matter how many years. And this time I’m gonna do everything better. No coal for a start. And more crack sticks. I’ll love you more. I promise. Stephen loves Ellen forever’ he chanted the last part while hugging himself brighter and brighter and then – even brighter.

Camillus John was bored and braised in Dublin. He has had writing published in The Stinging Fly, RTÉ Ten, The Lonely Crowd and other such organs of literature. You may know him from such fiction as The Woman Who Shagged Christmas, The Rise and Fall of Cinderella’s Left Testicle and Throwing A Sausage Back and Forth for Five Minutes Without Letting it Drop. He would also like to mention that Pat’s won the FAI cup in 2014 for the first time in 53 miserable years of not winning it.


Edited by Maria Omena