Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Out for a Bite


Gillian was dressed to the nines when she went through the kitchen and picked up her car keys. Harold flicked his gaze from the television, where a frightened American girl ran for her life from a man with an axe, to Gillian and back again. “Where are you going?” he asked, “I thought you were going to spend the night here with me?” She walked over to him, raising one leg onto the edge of the sofa in a display of erotic possession as her dress slid up over the sheer black stockings. “Downtown,” she replied, “I’m hungry and a fancy a Chinese. “Don’t bring me anything,” he said, his teeth retracting; “it’s so hard to get rid of the bodies.”

Monday, October 29, 2007

Raining Cows


Chase’s meeting with the accountant was terminated abruptly by the scream and subsequent squelch. He rushed outside and, upon losing his pint-of-beer-and-Cornish-pasty lunch, wished he hadn’t. The body of his assistant had been spread liberally in a twenty yard radius. Pieces of cow were scattered among the pieces of a girl who had been so full of life that he’d had no time for her, preferring instead the terse business tone of his secretary to Penny’s incessant chatter.

The falling bovine had slammed the girl against the waist-high fence that stopped the goats from getting to Kermit the Pig’s food trough and she’d been sliced – in whatever the word was that meant the opposite of neatly – in two.

His accountant appeared at his right shoulder and surveyed the scene.

Chase turned away, focussing on Mr. Jasfoup’s elegant silk tie. “I can’t believe this,” he said.

The accountant nodded, his eyes calculating damages. “Look on the bright side,” he said. “At least now you have two half Pennys to rub together.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Punning Title



Harold laughed and closed the book, placing it on the table. He leaned back, his hands interlaced between his head. “That was splendid,” he said. “I haven’t read Shakespeare since I was at school and I didn’t have the appreciation for it that I had then.”

“It can be obscure.” Jasfoup looked at the title. “He came up with a different title at first. It took me an hour and three flagons of wine to convince him to change it.”

“Why? What was it originally?” Harold sat forward again and looked at the cover.

“Fussing with Fannies.” The demon gave a snort. “As if that would ever have caught on.”

Harold frowned and scratched his chin, where a fine layer of stubble grew like wiry grass. “What’s that got to do with the play, though?”

“That’s what it’s about,” said Jasfoup. He pulled out a chair and sat. “All these masquerade balls where everybody swaps genders. The only way you could know what sex you were dancing with was with a quick furtle under the codpiece.”

“So how did you come up with the new title? I always thought it rather twee.”

“Easy.” Jasfoup smiled and pulled the teapot towards himself, scowling when he found it far too light to have anything in it. “In sixteenth century English ‘nothing’ and ‘noting’ had the same spelling. Thus it became a pun: ‘Much Ado about Nothing’ and ‘Much Ado about People Watching’.”

“And the… front bottoms?”

“At the time, ‘noting’ was an obscure slang term for a woman’s genitals. Even the Queen didn’t realise the triple entendre.” Jasfoup laughed, lost in reminiscing. “How we laughed at the after-performance party.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Half in the Bag



Lord Belphegor, Jasfoup’s immediate supervisor, frowned at the young demon bent on one knee before his bone desk. Since his desk was a little on the large size, he had to raise himself on four of his legs in order to see over the far side.

“How is your special project coming along?” he said.

“Oh, it’s in the bag, sir.” Jasfoup looked up into the two eyestalks that regarded him. “Well, half in the bag. He’s committed enough sins to be burning in the midnight oil for eternity minus one.”

Belphegor grew another hand with which to scratch his chin. “Eternity minus one? I don’t quite follow.”

“It’s charity, sir. Despite Harold’s avarice, gluttony, lust, pride, sloth and envy, he still does nice things for people.”

“I see.” Belphegor sat and left Jasfoup’s line of sight. All the minor demon could hear for several minutes was the scratching of a quill. The writing stopped and he bade Jasfoup rise. “Here is a letter,” he said. “Deliver it to Mr. Screwtape. Let’s see if a series of mean spirited people cause Mr. Waterman to rethink his charitable demeanour.

“Yes sir.” Jasfoup backed out of the cavern, travelling to his small house on the rim of Circle Six with almost indecent haste. A steaming kettle helped him prise the seal from the parchment and he read it quickly, his lips moving as he translated the Tongue of the Abyss into English. Selecting a number three quill and altering his hand to a claw, the better to reproduce Lord Belphegor’s crabby handwriting.

Dear Mr. Screwtape…

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dread Document


Julie rang through to Harold’s office. The sales of books and antiquities increased in autumn and the winter months, due to the innate nesting instinct of people who hadn’t really evolved that far from just burrowing into a pile of furs and sleeping the winter out.

“Do we have a copy of the ‘Necronomicon’?”

Harold frowned and tabbed into his stock control program. His current game of ‘Apocalypse’ was still running in the background: a glance at the status panel at is flashed past revealed the success of his hell hounds against the Cherubim. It was less of a game, to his mind, than a future outcome analysis.

He typed in Necronomicon and saw that they had two copies in stock; one a facsimile constructed by John the imp and a second, subtly altered one. He picked up the telephone. “Who wants it?” he asked.

Julie flipped open some documentation. “It’s a Mr. Herbert P Lovecraft,” she said. “He’s mortally challenged.”

“Tell him to come back on Tuesday,” said Harold, marking the altered copy for retrieval from the stack. The prospective buyer used to be a writer, and Harold was damned if he was going to give him a real one.

He’d forgotten he was damned already.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Obsession


“Ta-da!”

Jasfoup pulled his hands away from Harold’s eyes so that he could see the shop. It had opened a month or two ago in a village six miles from Laverstone.

“Museum of Junk?” Harold stepped forward toward the gaily cluttered window. His emotions warred between a need to buy it all and the desire to step away lest the house become as cluttered as it used to be. Gillian had been ruthless in reducing him to a state of near Zen living. “It’s just like my old emporium only pricier.”

Jasfoup grinned. “I found it by chance yesterday. One of my clients bought a Ouija board from here.”

“Look!” Harold pointed to a corner. “There’s a mirror that’s lost its silvering, and a teapot without a spout!”

He contented himself with a single purchase: a life-size model of Bela Lugosi as Count Vlad Dracul.

Gillian would have a fit.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Terminal




Harold put his clothes back on, using the folding screen for privacy. “What’s the prognosis, Doc?”

The demon flickered back into human form and pulled on a white lab coat. “It’s terminal, I’m afraid,” he said.

“Terminal?” Harold appeared from behind the hospital green cloth, his face ashen with fear. “Are you sure?”

“Oh yes.” The demon referred to his notes. “You’re definitely mortal, and that’s always terminal.”

“But what about the… you know?”

“Problem with your water hose?” He put his clipboard on the desk. “It’s a little on the small side but I have some pills for that.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hollow Praise


Miss Camberwick leafed through the drawers. “I have the records here somewhere, Mr. Waterman. I’m afraid that since I retired things have become a little muddled.”

Harold took a slow look around the room. Boxes were piled on boxes, every one of them spilling letters and files onto the floor with chaotic abandon. They must have been stacked here for years. “When did you retire, Madam?” he said. “You hardly look old enough.”

“Flatterer.” Miss Camberwick turned and adjusted her glasses to see his expression. “Last July, officially, although I’m still doing the odd day of relief for the the new headmaster.” She tutted. “Head teacher, I should say now.” She returned to the task of finding the school year book for 1994.

A dislodged box dropped a sheet of paper like a falling maple leaf to the floor. Harold picked it up and read the short note.

Deer Missez Candulwik

Thnx sew much 4 ul yr hard work. I got me 4 a lvls an a plaice at Oxfud. I cudnt hav dun it without yu.

Yu r the gradest techr on the hol wurdl. Yu teched me verey much. I lov yu an I will nevur ferget yu.

Yurs,
Herbert Granger Esq.


“Here it is.” Miss Camberwick stood holding a blue large format book. “What have you got there?” She took it from him and glanced at the writing. “Oh! Young Herbert. He did well for himself, you know. He’s the MP for Potter’s Green.”

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Rain Dance

Laverstone High School held a fete every year, where the sixth form students would put on some sort of display. Harold, despite the restraining order made when he proved that God existed (for proof denies faith), watched as the Lower VI performed the Summoning of Rain dance as detailed in Travels in Ubuntu by Professor EW Trawling, 1962.

The youths in their colourful garb finished their performance, the boys’ spears raised at forty-five degrees toward the girls’ feathered head-dresses, symbolising the sun and clouds being pierced by the needs of men. And probably something Freudian as well.

Rain poured down from a clear blue sky, scattering both dancers and spectators.

Harold, still dry under his companion’s invisible wings, tutted. “That was rotten.”

Jasfoup grinned and helped himself to ice-cream. “They’ll be famous tomorrow,” he said. “Their dance worked.”