17 Dec


A second part of the prequel-type yarn about the origins of my character, Janie Cobweb, may she rot in Hell!

filthy old woman photo: the wise one/ painting by Sieglinde Hartmann WISEONE.jpgAutumn was brushing the fields with amber and ochre leaves, the days were shortening and a chill was beginning to chase the summer away.

Mistress Cobweb screamed like a scalded cat as the first pains of her labour swept through her body. The sound drifted from her cottage, the best one in the village if the truth be told, and was picked up by the foulest of midwives in her cottage, the smallest and dingiest in the village.

And that midwife, the only one for miles around, was Mrs Myrtle Mongy. She’d not always been a Mongy but had been born a Reaper, Myrtle Reaper of the largest and smelliest family in the whole county. For some reason Benny Mongy had decided to wed her, and she grabbed his offer with both arms, for she had been brought up to believe that she was so unwholesome that no man would go anywhere near her. But Benny not only did that, but he wed her and in due time impregnated her with dribs and drabs of his own smelly semen.

But that was all years ago. Now she was growing old and feeble, especially in her mind, and she wandered about talking to herself about the oddest things, like ringworm. The local children found it a great game, following her and listening to her nonsense, but they were also too much in awe of her reputation to be obviously mischievous.

That reputation was based was based on the simple fact that she was the only woman for miles around who could assist other women in the process of childbirth. She’d had enough offspring herself and knew most of the ins and outs and when to scream and when to push and when to curse all men everywhere, so she was useful.

Her major problem was one of personal hygiene. She knew very little about it, and the wriggling little creatures in her faeces were, to her, more a gift from God than a sign of infestation. And her dingy cottage, only one room and that had a leaking thatched roof and more than its fair share of various pests skedaddling here and there about the place, was no paradise.

Yet she had still-functioning ears and she heard Mistress Cobweb shrieking her labour to the autumn sunlight and decided the time had come to help the poor female. She didn’t particularly like the Cobweb woman because, well, she was attractive and Myrtle wasn’t. And what’s more the Cobweb creature, as she saw her, was a successful whore and the truth was she’d love to follow that profession herself, but for some reason no men presented themselves as potential clients. She put it down to their natural fear of reprisals from her husband, but seeing as he’d died above five years earlier, with bubonic pustules all over him, that was seeming to be increasingly unlikely.

So she rushed to the much posher Cobweb residence and pushed her way in.

“Is your time here already, whore?” she grated through blackened teeth.

“Yeeow!” screeched the agonised prostitute, and confirmed her reply by shouting “Yeeow!” a second time.

“Legs apart, dear, and let me look!” commanded Myrtle.

She pushed her head between Mistress Cobweb’s shaking knees and stared with disbelief.

“Why does your fanoire smell so sweet?” she asked, blinking, forgetting that there was a great deal in the world that she had no knowledge of, like flower-water and fascinating fragrances culled from the blossoms of the dog-rose and other items of personal improvement.

“Yeeow!” screeched she who was about to give birth.

“I think it’s time to push, so push!” commanded Myrtle. “I can see the thatch of red hair that means the kiddie isn’t so far off!”

“You stink!” wept Mistress Cobweb. “You have the foetid stench of diseased diarrhoea about you. And what’s that dribbling down your legs? Get thee gone from my cottage, foul creature! I need no midwife, at least not one with every pestilence known to man crawling down her legs!”

“You ungrateful cow!” shouted Myrtle. “I’ll leave you, then! I’ll get me from this place and your rosy fanoire, and I’ll listen outside where the air is fresh as you scream yourself and your unborn disaster to the next world! See if I don’t!”

“Then go!” snapped Mistress Cobweb. “I can be my own midwife! So sod off!”

“You can still pay me,” sneered Myrtle. “I accept coin for all births in the county! So give me coin before you’re too dead to be able to!”

Then something truly magical happened. The ginger hair that was protruding from Mistress Cobweb’s nether regions became an entire head, and this was followed in absurdly swift time by a baby body, and this baby reached a quivering hand towards the foul midwife and opened its tiny mouth.

“Go away and die!” it hissed, every syllable enunciated carefully and with impeccable style.

And Myrtle Mongy went away, and died half way down the muddy street.

“Well done, Janie,” whispered the exhausted mother, and the baby winked back at her.

© Peter Rogerson 17.12.14



  1. pambrittain December 20, 2014 at 8:56 pm #

    Goodness, I love your writing.

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