Thursday 11 February 2010

My Day As A Groundskeeper On Han's Mysterious Kung-Fu Island

Did you know that there are people who do not much more than cut grass for a living? It’s true. Golf courses need them, and football pitches, parks, graveyards, etc. During yet another period in my life in which nothing much was happening on the literary front, and thanks to my “agent” Bjorn, I discovered that mysterious islands hosting martial-arts tournaments need them as well.

As usual, Bjorn seemed rather sketchy on the details. “It’s off the coast of Hong Kong somewhere. You should be able to get a boat out there really easily, just say you’re looking for Han’s Island. There’ll be loads of people heading out there for a curling tournament. Curling, or bare-fisted-fight-to-the-death...I forget which. You’ll be all right, yeah?”.

As usual, the most intriguing mystery was why I gave Bjorn 12% of everything I earnt.

The dockside was teeming with people, and there was an overpowering smell of fish, most likely caused by an overpowering abundance of fish. I waved to an old woman working a boat. “I say, I’m looking for transport to Han’s Island. Would you be willing to take me there?”

“Oh, sure, guv’nor.” answered the old woman, with a surprisingly strong cockney accent. “I’ll take you there and meet you back for sixty quid.”

“Um...don’t you mean Hong Kong dollars?”

“Nah, gawbless you guv’nor. Sterling please.”

“And you’ll take me there, and back again?”

“Yes, guv. God’s honest.”

I handed the old lady sixty quid, and she rowed me out to the island on a journey that lasted approximately four hours – with her being somewhat arthritic and lazy. We were passed by no less than four catamarans full of kung-fu types.

On my arrival, I was introduced to Mr Han, who was stroking his cat with a cat-brush appendage in place of a missing hand. “Pleased to meet you, Mister Bolt-Thrower. I hope you find your stay here most enjoyable.”

Lighting my cigar from a competitor’s Hadouken, I followed him in the direction of the tool shed.

“You will find here all the tools that you require.” He declared, gesturing to all of the tools hung on the walls, most of them with adapted for one handed use. “If you can keep the grass in the principal field very short, and not investigate any of the underground bunkers, that would be enough to start with.”

“Yeah, sure thing.” I said, jumping aboard a lawn-mower, revving across the shed, and out across the field, whooping as I went at both miles per hour.

The place seemed to be in a state of chaotic organisation. People were choreographing some fight scenes, and others were standing around watching disinterestedly.

I pulled up my lawnmower next to Han and his cat (not to be confused with Henry’s Cat), “Hey, um, I’ve done most of the mowing and stuff. Is there anything else I can be doing?”

Han nodded brusquely. “That’s good. You can knock off for now, but I expect you to be re-turfing the Living Forest tomorrow.”

No longer really sure what movie, novel or video game I was parodying, I headed off towards the dorm, only pausing to investigate some secret underground bunkers.

I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what it was that Han was up to here, but it looked ominous. I snuck in past the guard dogs by distracting them with some beef jerky (which I usually carry about my person for just such an occasion). The guards were also easily bribed with salty snacks (pork scratchings, on this occasion). The further I crept into the bunker, the more and more ominousier it seemed.

Encased in rows of what looked like giant incubator-come-test-tubes were nearly fully grown human clones of Bruce Lee. I got a feeling I often get in these kind of situations...a feeling that I needed to get a real employment agency. Bjorn’s a nice guy, don’t get me wrong, but it’s hard to trust an agent whose office is an old burger van whose wheels are replaced with bricks.

As I examined the clone chambers more closely, I realised that each had been given a name, scrawled on a post-it attached to their test-tube. There was Bruce Lei, Bruce Li, Lee Bruce, Bruce Lao...

I stopped when I heard a voice behind me.

“So, Mister Bolt-Thrower...I see you have discovered the secret of our little operation...”

I turned, lighting a cigar by hurriedly rubbing two sticks together. “Indeed I do. Bootlegs, Mister Han Man.”

Han, laughed mockingly, his prosthetic hand this time a small puppet of himself, which he insisted on talking to me through. “Yes, Mister Bolt-Thrower. Since the demise of poor Mister Lee, cinema has been missing a true kung-fu movie idol. Mister Chan descended into self-parody, Jet Li never really had the charisma and philosophy, and no-one but you, me and Blake Harmer have even heard of Tony Jaa.”

I shrugged. “There’s Chuck No...”

“Fuck Chuck Norris!” squealed the puppet. “The only way for the kung-fu movie genre to recover to regenerate Mr Lee, and release a whole new wave of kung-fu movies!”

There was only one way out of this, and I took it. As the puppet distracted Mr Han, I shot him with my crossbow, which I always carried with me for such a purpose.

As he collapsed dead to the ground, I smirked. “You should have shot first, Han.”

“That is pretty a good story.” said Bjorn, handing me my pay-slip, which as it turned out didn't compensate me for Moira’s the Chinese Cockney’s boat ride. “But what did you do about the Bruce Lee clones?”

I shrugged, wiping burger sauce from my P45. “Maybe there’s a secret army of Bruce Lee clones waiting to come to life out there somewhere. Maybe I accidentally killed another perfectly innocent old man due to my habit of carrying loaded and dangerous weaponry with me at all times. There are a lot of maybes in the world. Some mysteries are best left unsolved.”


  1. Congratulations on what must be the single most contrived Star Wars gag ever made!

    Every time I read one of these I want to join Bjorn's employment agency...

  2. I'd own up to it if that was the case, but I never start these with any kind of idea where they're going - I genuinely make them up as I go along. It was only after I'd shot him that the gag occured to me.