Last modified 19.04.02020

V: The Van

In which Soviet manufacturing holds up surprisingly well

By Frederick O'Brien

Illustration for Funnyfarm Part V: The Van

The band’s first gig was a riot. Literally. Halfway through the second song the pub’s occupants broke out in a fit of frustration and despair, unwilling to distance themselves from the bar but also loathe to listen to another second of such astonishing drivel.

Theo Stone’s exceedingly broad presence prevented any outright violence being directed towards the band, but on reflection they decided it was best to vacate the premises. Having done so and caught their collective breath around a nearby corner, they further decided it was best that they leave town altogether.

Laina Gould caught up with them just as they arrived at this conclusion. She looked worryingly pleased with herself.

‘Where were you?’ Hazard and Sunshine said together.

‘Talking to the press,’ she wheezed, lighting a cigarette. ‘People deserve to know what happened here tonight. I think it’s time for us to hit the road.’

‘We were thinking the same thing,’ Waltz said.

‘Don’t you have a job at the library to resign from?’

‘Had. My boss was in the audience. He fired me.’

‘Wonderful.’ Gould was already on another plane. Her glitter-framed eyes glazed as a plan of action slid smoothly into place.

‘We’ll need a touring vehicle, but it’s too late tonight. Reconvene here tomorrow at dawn with your instruments and a shoulder-bag’s worth of belongings each. Burn anything you leave behind. You, drummer.’ Stone’s head tilted gently to the side like an obedient dog. ‘Go back to that pub and take the drum kit. They won’t stop you.’

Stone trotted around the corner. After a moment’s pause the sounds of fresh bedlam echoed down the street. Laina Gould turned on the rest of the band.

‘Any questions?’ she said.

None of them said a word. They each turned and began to walk away. Their walks turned into trots, then sprints. Fueled by an incomprehensible blend of ambition and fear they sprinted home to pack. Their bone dry minds were suddenly ablaze with depraved visions of rock and roll. Except Bas, that is. Bas kept to a saunter.


The car salesman saw them coming the next morning.

Leonard Wotsid was a simple man. He worked hard, he loved his children, he was good to his wife, and he was very pleasant to his mistress.

He was also exceedingly sensible, and it was for this reason that he kept a selection of ratty, rusting, downright dangerous vehicles at the back of his lot to sell to young bands. They always fetched him a tidy profit. Twenty-somethings always seemed to see a lot of ‘heart’ in them, which was just as well given they were missing so many parts.

This ragtag group had ‘band’ written all over them. There was a tall drink of water with backcombed hair, another wearing an unbuttoned floral shirt over an untucked floral t-shirt, a top-heavy chap somehow carrying an entire drum kit on his own, a mangy little fellow drifting with the wind, and that nice young man from the library.

Striding out in front of them was–

Wotsid’s mouth fell open. ‘Gould?’

‘Hello Leonard,’ she said, ignoring his evident horror and kissing the air beside his cheek. ‘Good to see you’re still in business. These boys need a ride out of town. Have you got something suitable?’

He did. He showed it to them. It was an old Soviet family wagon. At least, it was once. A patchwork of angular parts and panels, it was certainly big enough. It also looked like a good kick was all the excuse it needed to fall apart.

‘That looks like a good kick is all the excuse it needs to fall apart,’ Waltz said.

‘Let’s find out,’ Gould said. ‘You don’t have any objections, do you Leonard?’

‘Be my guest,’ he said.

‘Good. Theo?’

Stone awakened from the depths.

‘Mm?’ he said.

‘Give the van a good kick.’

Theo straightened up. He was all too happy to oblige. Allowing himself room for a proper runup, he jogged forward and executed with perfect form. The steel toe of his boot hit the van’s bumper with a deep, booming bonging sound. The metalwork shivered, the wing mirrors quivered. The van stayed intact.

‘We’ll take it,’ Gould said. ‘Load up, boys. There’s a world out there just waiting for you to fall into its lap.’

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