Featured Writer: Dave Lordan


Dr Essler’s Cocaine

Let me confide in you. Last Thursday, Betty, my sister-in-law, drowned in the hotel swimming pool. She was out of her mind on Dr Essler’s cocaine, which we at the central committee had been partaking of all afternoon. Poor Betty; she served the drinks and the tidbits and every time she swung by we gave her a little sniff. Central committee meetings are always very spirited affairs and high-jinx often occur, especially towards nightfall as the serious business is dispatched and we begin to bat around minor agenda items in which no one is too invested. Betty has always been our entertainment as well as our host at these events, which we obviously have to close off from the Irish staff and the local musicians we would normally hire. Eventually, with her husband’s approval, we asked Betty, a great beauty, to titillate us by removing one item of clothing every time she returned with a round. As you can appreciate, the periods between when I got up to strike the bong for refreshments became shorter and shorter and Betty closer and closer to full nudity.
        Dr Essler also increased the size and the frequency of his doses. Dr Essler, by the way, is what the English call a card. He has his cocaine delivered to Killybegs in the County Donegal by monthly submarine in the very same briefcase as our Berlin instructions.
        Before long, the amount of pent-up energy in the room could have provided electricity for a small nation. Something had to be done to relieve it. I did not want a repeat of the occasion at the youth camp on the hotel grounds in ’34. We had all had a super evening of folksong and wrestling, buoyed up by an endless supply of Dr Essler’s cocaine. Unfortunately, the hotel and grounds descended into a state of riot because of an insulting comment about Leni Riefenstahl thrown out by a fifteen-year-old oik of a Rottenführer from a marsh hamlet near Kiel.
        It happened that after only half an hour of our game Betty had gone from a concealed ‘French’ maid to a fully revealed ‘Grecian’ one. Naked and positively gleaming, she carried in yet another tray of whiskey thimbles and served each man in turn at his place. I ordered her to be at her ease and to remain with us a while in the committee room. We had had enough to drink and eat for now. Without removing our uniforms or regalia, we took turns fucking her in a most frenzied but comradely cocaine-inspired manner. What pleasure we had of her was indescribable. She too was in her element. She groaned and whimpered and pleaded for us to empty ourselves into and over her.
        After this had been done to everyone’s complete satisfaction I ordered Betty to unblind the bay window. In the grounds and woods the Celtic night was moonlit and mystical and silvery. The hillsides sparkled through their seams of quartz, and the bare granite hilltops were burnished and regal under the moon like the places of ancient worship they most certainly were, places ever-belonging to high-kings and druids and ever-inspiring to the poets of this misty, fact-despising land where I’ve been posted. I fell into a reverie over the trees. The fir trees seemed like enormous vertebrae, like the planted skeletons of whales. Then I thought of the undersides of an ancient fleet, the thousands of galley slaves, rowing, rowing towards the destiny of nations, towards the edge of the world. The yew trees reminded me of tribal statues facing out to sea, outlasting by centuries the people that had built them and yet to remain unvisited for centuries to come. Who knows what these lost people really meant by their statues, heh? When a people dies out in disaster they and their symbols become nothing more than matter for speculation, for poetry. Meaning, too, is a victor’s prerogative.
        The copper beeches were aggressively colourful. They were native pig-chiefs with endless hair and trinkets and too proud by far. I made a mental note to have them uprooted and chopped into firewood. The monkey puzzles were a flagrant picture of inutile disorder. They put me in mind of mangled or failed machinery, of things purposeless, shapeless, directionless and failed. The family who planted and tended the arboretum were aristocratic decadents. Their taste for the sick and the ‘curious’ form is everywhere obvious. Sometimes I think the arboretum, in all its senselessness and disarray, could only have been designed by Edward Lear, the nonsense rhymester, whose work is the clearest expression of what happens to the souls of those with long and cosseted lives and with no heroic quest to pursue.
        The arboretum is proof that the English are a race on which culture has been totally wasted. It is a standing embarrassment to me, but it will not be allowed to last. Dr Essler, himself a woodland enthusiast and a published author on the matter of forest management, is in the process of educating me in the noble tree species and how to source and encourage them. I will fill my estate with the upright trees of the world, the ones that built strong ships and chariots and fueled the ancient furnaces of war.
        Amid all that nature, the swimming pool shone numinously, a defiantly regular shape cut into the earth by human ingenuity. Through genius and graft—genius standing over graft, with an abacus in one hand and a stout whip in the other—we have reached a higher plane than nature alone could ever do.
        I suggested that Betty, to clean herself off, should go and take a swim, and that we would watch her a while cooling off in our own way.
        We all stood wordlessly by the window watching her alluringly enter the pool, like a glimmering nymph sent down as a gift by Diana. She was the colour of and bewitching like the moon and Dr Essler’s cocaine. She was the moon and Dr Essler’s cocaine in human form. Back and forth the length of the pool she went, back and forth, her thrusting arms and legs flashing in the silver light, mesmerising all of us. And then, suddenly, she started to flail. Of course we all thought it was part of the show; Betty was nothing if not inventive in that regard. You know what it looked like to me? It looked like something enormous had hooked her through the midriff and was trying to pull her out of the water, some giant fisher from a hell-fleet in the lunar-tinted clouds, some demon perched on the crown of a cedar with a rod designed for human flesh and souls.
        And then as suddenly, she stopped. She stopped and went under the surface of the pool. As she went down the ripples from her flailing were still pulsing madly and irregularly to the poolsides, and rebounding. Each wave-front met and crashed through the rebound of its predecessor, carrying on weakened but nevertheless all the way to the edge, where it in turn switched its allegiances to attack the oncoming wave. This is what we all were now fascinated by, meditating on such subjects as force and reaction, wave-power as a means of energetic transaction, the great successes and great failures of charge tactics in the nineteenth century, the control of large swathes of territory by transmission from a central point of strength, the endless surging forth of new phenomenon through time, the continuous undulating poem of reality, the submarines bristling with terror beneath pacific surfaces, history as martial narrative with carnival interludes, forgetting about Betty for a little while.
        Until she resurfaced. Maybe twenty minutes had passed in reverie. She was at the centre of the pool, arms and legs spread, as if served to our gazing by giants of the hills. Her stomach had noticeably swollen. I speculated that in her underwater absence, which seemed so brief to us, she had spent months in a Neptunian world and become pregnant by a tyrant of the mermen. As one of the volk in which the race of men intersects with the race of Gods, this fancy of exalted miscegenation greatly pleased me. I shared it with my comrades and they spontaneously applauded.
        Shortly after, having once again indulged ourselves in a steeply uplifting dose of Dr Essler’s remarkable cocaine, we took off outdoors to join Betty. Wouldn’t it be fun to have another howling orgy out there in the pool? Of course it would. Betty would surely agree, given how she was lying there like an advertisement for pool orgies.
        First to reach her in the water was Oberführer McMahon. He yelped with the cold shock of rubbing nakedly against her. Her condition was confirmed by another two comrades, who had already been on the way to her before the yelp, and they dragged her to the poolside and laid her out. For a long time we stood huddled around her not knowing what to do or to think. Of course the wickedest thoughts went through everyone’s heads but we stood our ground against our baser impulses, despite how clear it was to all of us that something extra-licentious was going to have to take place to get us back on our high for the rest of the night. Everyone’s dignity was fully retained.
        As if coming out of trance, after maybe half an hour of gazing at the naked body of a pale and glinting lunar-queen, Bishop O’ Donovan knelt to the body and began performing the last rites. Dr Essler meanwhile went back into the house to retrieve some more cocaine and a death certificate from his briefcase. As soon as we had all had some cocaine to bring us back to our senses I suggested that we carry Betty back into the hotel and have her lie in state there in her own room while we figured out the arrangements. As soon as this was carried out I rang ********** in Dublin and arranged for the discreet delivery of the most ornate coffin immediately available. I also made sure with ********** that there would be no other complications. The death would be legally recorded as accident, we would bury her privately on the grounds, and there would be no public mention of it. I do not wish to exaggerate about the Celts or wax on their sensibilities but I do feel a certain pride and indeed gratitude in having been posted to a country where the techniques of silencing are even further along in some respects than our own. Not only could such a thing as happened with Betty not have taken place in the Irish countryside, it could not even be imagined to have taken place. Mention of it would not be interpreted as political subversion but as mental illness through and through. No official sense would be made of it. No official response except against the person or persons making such obscene and ludicrous claims. In Ireland telling the truth is a symptom of madness. Say nothin’ to no one about nothin’ at all and sure won’t you get along grand is how Paddy the old gardener puts it and it’s almost a national slogan. Some The wit of the Irish is that of the cunning weakling who knows just how weak he really is by comparison. Their commoners work like mules for little reward besides avoiding starvation, and deal with any resentment this causes by drowning it and beating their wives, their children and dogs.
        Really, for our kind of people Ireland is the safest country imaginable. The Irishman does not care what his masters get up to as long as he is allowed to get drunk and lash out at his own. I am going off the point but doesn’t it make you so happy that this race of self-hating inebriates defeated the English? Our war with London will not last long.

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But all this is by the by except to explain how the position of Hotel Manageress has once again become available. I hope your client remains interested. The members of the central committee have examined her credentials, and her photographs, which we thank you most heartily for supplying. We do think that she has all the required characteristics, although we would like to be finally reassured about the matter of obedience. You write that as a young girl she may be frightened of travel and leaving home. Have an extra 200 Marks for the difficulties of persuading her. Besides that, offer 100 Marks to her father and her nervousness will soon fall away. Tell the girl that being here would at least get her away from the war, which won’t be long coming now. Whenever it does get going I and most of the other comrades will be heading in the opposite direction, to join in the fight for the Fatherland. We have already made preparations for that. So things will not normally be as exciting as during Betty’s tenure. We don’t want you to lead your client astray on this matter. Hotel managing is boring drudgery with carnival interludes. However, Doctor Essler, as our most senior diplomat, will be remaining in Hibernia for the duration and will be often at the hotel, where a smaller group will meet under his direction to keep the Irish Party going, with the idea of massive expansion as soon as our total victory becomes clear. Dr Essler will be an important man in the Irish province of the Reich. As the Hotel Manageress’s immediate senior he will be sure to look after her in every possible way.

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Learn More About the Story “Dr Essler’s Cocaine” in the Interview with Dave Lordan >>


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Dave Lordan reads from his newest work, “Kathleen Is Just a Word We’ll Never Settle,” from First Book of Frags, here.  


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Hear Dave read an excerpt from his short fiction piece, “A Bone,” here:


Dave Lordan

Dave Lordan is the first writer to win his country’s three major prizes for young poets. He is a former holder of the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary Award and a previous winner of both the Patrick Kavanagh and Strong Awards for poetry. His collections are The Boy in The Ring (2007) and Invitation to a Sacrifice (2010), both published by Salmon Poetry (www.salmonpoetry.com); “Dr Essler’s Cocaine” will appear in his newest collection, First Book of Frags (2013, Wurm Press). His poems are regularly broadcast on Irish national radio and he reviews for many publications. He can be contacted at dlordan@hotmail.com.

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