another week passed and time stood still in fastslow passing. sponge grew a beard and breadroll a fungus that looked like a beard. that’s how it goes. said sponge, we’ve been good and are being rewarded with growth. bit itchy though, said breadroll. that’s to keep us on our toes, said sponge. we must not become complacent.
rarely do we venture from the vicinity of the station these, to avoid getting lost in the maze of walled pathways. sorry can i help you, a stranger would say, but how to describe this web of lanes before us and around us to a stranger? the stranger would stare in disbelief or shake his head in incomprehension, so we decline politely. the stranger nods indifferently, shrugs and moves on. he has done his bit for today, he mattered. i think that was an idiot, said breadroll. might well have been, said sponge. that was that and so they went on.
with a head in his hat and feet in his shoes he left the house, whistling a tune; he stopped whistling when he was hit by a breeze. that’s in short what happened in the first five minutes. then man joined the first queue he saw. people were queuing for all sorts of things, depending who you cared to ask. in the evening everyone remaining in the queue was arrested for loitering, the man decided to leave the house a bit earlier next time. due to an administrative error, however, the man was flown to an undisclosed location where he had to endure interrogation, abuse, torture, one civil war, two violent uprisings, a series of civil unrest and two general election, the second preceeded by a bloodbath during which the winning party promised to do away with all those responsible for the bloodbath, the only promise they kept after the election, which caused a third bloodbath and the survivors sent the man home. on return he joined the queue outside his house, he felt confident but was arrested again. the story gets a bit repetitive here.
is that a true story, said breadroll.
based on one, said sponge.
the thought of having to come up with something, anything, was too much. i can’t bear that, said sponge. breadroll entered the room and sat down. you are very formal today, said sponge, entering the room, like that. other people just come in. other people, as breadroll replied, also simply had enough, rather than claiming to be unable to bear an event or location. true, said sponge. they waited. perhaps something happens, said sponge, so that we do not have to come up with something. or anything at all, said breadroll, which, as they agreed, was a good way to end the conversation.
that they shouldn’t have gone out today and just stay put, sponge complained, nothing would have happened, that he knew full well that nothing is happening now, but that this nothingness was a different kind, emptier, bleaker, than the nothingness they normally faced with, the nothingness so familiar, so comforting, the old, the nothing-new nothingness. not the as-good-as-it-gets nothingness. that, he added, nothing was the absence of anything at all, although, colloquially, the concept was often used to indicate (or describe) the lack of anything relevant or significant, or to describe a particularly unimportant thing or event. or object, subject, as herr brekst would say. it is contrasted with something and everything.
but, sponge said, this might be a poor description.
breath in, said sponge, you look too thin. your head looks big. breath out. your old self. don’t hold your breath. that’s my advice. then again, you might hold your breath for something. or someone. there’s a queue. wait a minute. that will be a short story, that there is the end.
it is impossible to describe music, yet this is precisely what would be required now, as breadroll whistled, as sponge whistled, both whistled a song. whistling they plodded along, alas, the plodding is not the subject here. let’s focus on the whistling.
can we stop whistling, said breadroll between C-sharp and E.
wait a minute, said sponge. it was a short tune.
and the man was fat and jolly you say? yea, large belly, probably drunk, came in, ate cake, helped himself to a beer, vomited and left. without pay of course, everyone was to puzzled to do anything about it. no pay. he mumbled something about a job to do. a job he has to do, he himself? yea. he himself. with his bloodstock. cattle? don’t know, pigs maybe. or geese? you mean goats? yes, sheep and that sort of stuff. he said delivery. or liver maybe? you said he was drunk, liver probably. no delivery. ponies then. don’t know, he was driving an old banger, said he’d be back tomorrow. ah well, tomorrow then.
sponge said, i can see we’re getting there, but never told us where. if he had said, we’re getting somewhere, the nagging question wouldn’t be one, it wouldn’t be at all. we all need our targets set firmly. a man once went around the world, his target set firmly before him. when he came back to his village he was a much happier man but they didn’t really recognise him so he left again and nobody heard of him again. he was a plumber by trade.
so it is. won’t say more. enough said, spoken more. the artist, specialising in chocolate and red berries, and that’s were the sentence trails off, i assume, says sponge, painting, picture or some other, related word would have followed, if the artist, let’s call him that name, had lead a healthier life, healthy is the keyword here, a lot has been said in that context, and not suffered a heart attack, a stroke or whatever, no need for this sentence to be finished either, we get the drift.
the artist, who had not suffered a heart attack as it turned out, was fine after a good rest, just had generally overdone it a bit, became later known as the author sisal penville, a rather popular author at that. his sentences never trailed off but he started to drink so his speech was slurry. trailed off. he thought of going back into art but that never happened.
just one word: embroidery. said sponge. he added that people should be too concern about an explanation as the morning soon would turn to evening and queues would dissolve and waiting lists would be folded up for the night. he went on to state that embroidery as such had little to no part in the foundation of the united states of america.
no we can’t. really not? no. not a chance? no. you’ve heard it. nothing we can do. nothing to do with us.
the neighbour had left the house this morning. never arrived where he was expected. never returned to where no-one was waiting. never called. we couldn’t tell what happened.
so we’ll never hear the end of it, said sponge. no, we won’t.
the man had sat down of a metal chair outside the cafe. he waited. nobody came to take his orders, nobody joined his wait. the cafe was closed. the owner had declared himself bankrupt. why where the chairs still outside? why did everything look as if the cafe was still open for business? the man asked none of these questions, instead, after a brief glance at his watch, he got up and left and a while later somebody came to carried table and chairs inside as the owner had hung himself in the kitchen. no need to keep up appearances. the man walked for an hour or so until he came to a bridge.
symbolic that. indeed. will he cross it, said breadroll.
the man stood there and waited, crossing a bridge, he thought, very symbolic, who knows what’s to happen, let’s not get excited. he stood without moving and was forgotten about. there was no bridge anyway, but a river or a canal, or a fence. dust caught in his trouser legs and they blended in with the pavement. leaves gathered around him and he saw autumn turning to winter. people ceased running into him and paths showed around a heap of leaves.
that stuff happens only in poems, novels and films. true enough, said sponge. although i read a story once where a man had turned into a slug or a spider or something. some kind of creature. wasn’t a novel.
the man turned left. he walked until he came to a small square, lined with cafés and shops, where waiters were serving people and a grocer spoke to a an old lady. i shall be off, the lady said, and left. she went to the butcher’s for pork chops and the butcher asked whether she could be interested in some lamb. no right now, she said, but later, perhaps. we’ll see how it goes. some customers showed more interest. the old lady left. she didn’t come back. she didn’t make pork chop. she fell on the way home. nothing that could be done. it was a beautiful funeral. most people said so. the priest said some improvements could have been made, some seemingly necessary changes in burial practices, long overdue but not yet implemented. not fully, a working group is currently reviewing the progress. said the priest, and he should know. after all he’s chairing the panel tasked with the supervision of the working group
so, no trace of the neighbour anymore. no. that’s a pity. it’s a shame.
we really can’t do anything. keep trying so.
i think it was a story, said sponge.
short, snappy sentences, said sponge, get you places.
do you think so, said breadroll.
yes, said sponge, anyway, they’ll shorten the wait for the end.
they’ll be through the report in no time and want another one.
here’s the thing: the day has started without delay or complications and is expected to be brought to an end only in the very last minute, give or take a few moments. that is as much as sponge can reveal at this stage. we could say more, says breadroll, but there are rules and regulations. then again that’s just my opinion. there may be other views. within the acceptable limits. there’s also a chair, but we’re not allowed to sit, today.
charity, says sponge.
a flower, said sponge and left it at that.
what else can you say i ask you, said the next next to sponge and stared at the flower. he reached into his pocket and got his sandwich out, tore bits off and threw them at the flower. the flower stood tiny and still. a pigeon landed nearby and waddled over and another pigeon and another one, both closer to the sandwich bits and snatched them. the first storms in, a clumsy fight, sparrows take advantage, the flower looks deranged. not a rose i tell you, the man said, a rose wouldn’t have gotten through the pavement. he carefully put his foot on the flower and moved it back and forth, slowly. the bread’s gone, i’m trying to lose some wait, a minute here, a moment there, he said.
good luck, said sponge.
thank you, the man said, i will need it. there are adverse weather conditions.
i’ve never seen a heart attack, said sponge.
you mean someone having one, said breadroll. of course. the other day, on the train. that man just got sick. oh yes, disgusting, all down his coat. he took it well. until they threw him out. no, he didn’t like that a bit. he was very upset. ran after the train and all. and against a tree. no, he fell. oh yes.
i tried to use that in a presentation or so but it didn’t fit in, said sponge. don’t worry. something else will come up.
doesn’t really look like an office around here.
it never does. that the whole point.
a man. morning sun. a quiet street. scene set. the man leaves the house, turns back to see if the door is locked, really shut, a neighbour returns to fetch the umbrella he has forgotten, it won’t rain when i have it, and the other neighbour, who is not a neighbour but lives 2 storeys up and 3 flats to the right, has not yet left the house (nobody has seen him in a while, i wouldn’t be surpirsed if he’s found stone dead and semidecayed). the man opens the door, locks it again, tries the door knob, the neighbour says sorry, opens the door, goes in. the man waits until the neighbour has left again with his umbrella, tires the door knob, it’s open. he locks the door and leaves.
the other neighbour, the one who isn’t a neighbour at all, was found eventually, dead and gone but fully putrefied. heart attack. apparently. makes you think.
the last sentence is to mention sponge and breadroll who have witnessed many scenes like that, albeit not this particular one, to tell all about it.
distinction rather than extinction, said sponge, is what our company is after. i’ve chosen those words carefully yet there are weaknesses in detail. he looked around the everexpanding room. breadroll sat on a chair that once had been near the middle of the room. why does this room have to grow bigger every minute, he said, i can’t here you. can we not have ideas of our own? in russia rooms used to expand, it happened once, but here?
ah well, said sponge, people don’t know that bit about russia, not many people.
no idea, what to say, said sponge, all words seem to be lost. i had them all laid out, nicely arranged last night, in categories. replies, remarks, questions, answers, comments, small talk, chatter, jokes. all that, you name it. and now, all gone. don’t know what to say.
what about memos, said breadroll, are they gone as well?
haven’t even thought about them, said sponge. that’s another story.
and we are sure, said sponge, that it came to nothing? Absolutely nothing?
breadroll said nothing.
i take that as a witty comment, said sponge. doesn’t really add to the topic. so nothing it is. that’s something. at least we are certain an outcome, a result, something to show with with a precise certainty. for i am going to stop talking right now and here and that’ll be the end.
you weren’t going to trust me, were you. that’s a silly ending, just like that. it has happened before though. nothing to show for it as we plod along, for certain. we could queue somewhere for a rest.
a lengthy dialog develops and fades out. they say nothing.
whenever sack wanted to be a bag he ended up looking like a satchel. there those who cannot, for whatever reason, tell a sachet from a satchel, but they tend not to frequent the places of sack’s bag impersonation. hence no-one ever said sack looked like a sachet when he wanted to be a bag. not that this matters much for our jolly wanderers on their way to the office, happily plodding along, never having met sack. yet still, some curious thoughts: did you ever try to impersonate a bag, said sponge. no, said breadroll, and you? no, said sponge, never thought of it. i was in one once, said breadroll. and, said sponge, how was it? don’t remember, said breadroll.
then not much happened. they went for a coffee, had lunch. what else? i can’t really remember. probably not much, as i said. sack got beaten up the other day, really badly, by some thugs who thought he was a wallet. they would have cut him if they had know that he was impersonating a bag, looking like a sachet or satchel or whatever. that’ll be the end of that.
if anything we should get going soon. we should, soon. we’ve been around an age and a bit. but we probably won’t get moving this time. it was worth mentioning though, it’ll be too easy a way out. way to easy. we’ll stick around for a while until it’s too late to leave in grace.
they won’t throw us out this time, said breadroll, but i’m not sure.
shall we go. said sponge.
we can’t, said breadroll.
that’s right, said sponge, i just wanted to see if you remembered.
you do, exactly.
we don’t have to sit still though.
no. we can do a few things.
a thing or two. exactly.
we should carefully plan our next step.
think it through to make a fully considered decision.
that might be very tiring.
i think we should make a move.
but we can’t.
you said that already.
they went to the corner, hesitated, looked around. time to scratch our backs, said sponge. we keep moving that way, dynamically fast-paced, everything to keep the momentum going forward.
we can’t go anywhere, said breadroll, that’s the rule.
we don’t have to sit still though, said sponge, we do have options.
possibilities, said breadroll, we should consider them well.
we should go, said sponge, the other are gone, too. they looked around, the place was empty. i’d say, said breadroll, they’ve never arrived. or have left early, said sponge.
we can’t go just yet.
this would make old ladies jump out the window just like that on tv or in books, said sponge, but it wouldn’t happen in real life. old ladies are firmly seated and generally to squat to reach the window sill even.
unless there’s something to see, said breadroll.
train people have closed the shutters. they are having tea. train people have apologised for any inconvenience caused and the train was cancelled due to poor rail conditions. there won’t be another one for a while but it’ll arrive shortly.
the doing of any thing in accordance with an authorisation under the train people act shall not be treated, for any purpose, as a breach of any requirement or restriction imposed by any other enactment or rule of law. says the train man and the others nod in agreement. not much we can do, says sponge. we can wait a bit more, says breadroll and is right about that. spot on, says sponge.