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Jim Edmiston, 28 Oct '12

The Counsellor                                                                        

Karl not only ploughs up front lawns with his motorbike, showering finely-sieved turf, grit and small life-forms in neighbouring directions, he is also a relationship counsellor. He doesn’t need to be asked to drop by. Appointments aren’t necessary. Though attendance is compulsory. You’ll recognise him – the skull on the back of his hand, the serpent on the other, and the metal shield leather-bound to his upper arm, with the insignia of entwining poison ivy and the words Vows Made In Hell.                        

His boot helped the front door to free itself from its lock and double-back on its hinges. His Prussian military helmet hit Michael in the jaw with such force that it unbalanced him, his chair, his scattering pills and the fruit-loaded cereal. Charlie, already flapping, had been about to rush off to work and had just checked her bag for her phone. Shocked to find one of their kitchen knives tucked into an office folder, she grabbed it instinctively and stuck it into Karl’s unshielded arm. Charlie is a woman of action. Her partner, Michael, falls off chairs.

Karl shook his head and cursed his decision to wear the shield on his left arm that morning, but made no attempt to remove the wide blade that had made two rips, front and back, in his sleeve. He appeared to be more concerned about the condition of his jacket as he picked up Charlie and stood her on the table. ‘Stay!’ He glared at her, his face acned and scarred across with the map of his life’s work. One hand was all he need to grab Michael by the tank-top, pick him up from the floor, and place him beside the bread-winner. Michael’s mouth was opening and closing guppy-like, but nothing audible was coming out.

‘Who… what… how did you…?’ Charlie managed to jabber.
A finger in a gauntlet pointed menacingly into her face. ‘Close it!’ Karl’s style was to hurl things around: bikes, feet, helmets, punches and grunting words too came at you gale force.