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.
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.
and what’s that all about? an egg running down the street? no egg is running down the street, only sponge and breadroll, no egg ever ran down the street unscathed. now we know. that’s it for now.
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.
monday we have lamb, tuesday we have pork, wednesday we have beef. we have a selection of vegetables every day, beans, peas, potatoes, carrots, broccoli. no, it is beef on tuesdays and pork on the wednesday. right. we start again thursday, lamb, beef, no, pork and then beef. lamb, beef, pork. lambeef pork. its lamb again sunday, and we have pork on monday, something else, not always the same. two veg with it, we have to choose, so it’s beans- peas, potatoes-carrots, broccoli-beans, peas-potatoes, carrots-broccoli, and then we have to start again. we had some kind of jelly once but that was not repeated. they usually repeat. they made exceptions. fish. trout, salmon, cod, plaice, haddock, pollock, tiger prawns. mussels, less likely.
that was only posted internally, they never had it. somebody did not arrive. again.
we experimented with other sequences, chicken nuggets, turkey breasts, duck, goose. repeat twice, then skip for one week. nothing worked. there never was duck, not a bit. it would be the thought that counts.
there is something we wanted to do, is there. usually there is, most of the time. what it was? something urgent, something we needed to do. don’t ask, we didn’t ask. something.
sure we lean out of the window instead. they tried. we take a seat. things we do today.
look an egg, running down the street. did we mention that before? we’re sure to mention it again. the egg, its racing down the street. eggs pick up speed on an even surface. should we catch it? don’t be daft, who ever caught an egg?
sponge had bread and toast, breadroll jam and butter instead.
he spoke fondly of his brollie. how he forgot it one day and had to go back to the house, how he couldn’t find it at first and he looked in the kitchen, just to make sure he had explored all options, but it wasn’t there either, at least he couldn’t see it, so he went back to the sitting room, and, and after only a quick search, some swift browsing, as you might call it, while he thought he had to go and search in the kitchen again, under the old newspapers as it had just come to him that he hadn’t looked there previously, there it was, on the sofa, no idea why he hadn’t seen it before. although it didn’t rain that day at all, it would have worked for most types of rain, he said, urban rain of course. in the country they call them bumbershoots, hand carved and knitted they are, else the downpour would dent the farmer’s head. they call it just rain though.
those farmers, said sponge, are not like the peasants of old.
certainly not, the man said, but these bumbershoots can be very good. this brollie is very good, too. i try to bring it every day and most of the days i succeed although i do have to go back to the house every now and then. just like the other day, when i had to search high and low in the kitchen to no avail. i’ll remember next time.
she read a paper, her finger loosely tracing the lines. she smiled briefly from time to time and, more frequently, slightly shook her head in disbelief.
you’ll have to change that, said breadroll, people don’t do that in real life, shake their head and stuff when they read. they don’t participate, they know it is not something one has to do when reading. only in movies, maybe. that little episode is very advanced, i don’t think i can change it like that. besides, people generally enjoy the protagonists to show some animation, a human touch, even if it is not realistic. it is a symbol, it is the realistic power of irrealism. one describes thing in a way they are not to show what they are and why.
that makes sense, said breadroll, but it doesn’t really make sense.
the queue had moved, the were closer to the counter. hope we are in the right queue, said sponge. we’re almost there, said breadroll.
the woman read a paper. a cup of coffee on the table. cold coffee, unfinished by somebody. occasionally the waitress came over to ask, was she, the reading woman, finished with it. no, the woman said, i’m still drinking it. she continued to read. calmly.
a young father of three was shot at after a party, a gathering of sorts, and a head wound appeared as a result. the entire head fell off shortly after, leaving a nasty stain on the carpet. many witnesses felt reminded of the recent warning by the government not to hang on to threadbare carpets. he had already lost part of his leg, and walked with the aid of prosthetic limb (which went missing ever so often) and a chinese prostitute (who always brought it back). wonders, reckons and reasons are out and raving to see if his head will be replaced by a plastic bag, as some say, or a nice cup of tea in the local pub, a solution favoured by most. a woman, who described him as a lovely chap, said he had to have part of his leg removed following a court order not to leave the room before certain issues were settled. offally does not need stories like that in times like this, said sponge, never did. sponge pouted. the man beside him did not. the contrast still did not make for a great picture. sponge always looks big in photographies.
placed firmly on the moral highchair sponge felt smug and in mood for comments. who to comment on when nobody is around? lecture the odd toe? ask whether lecturing fingers may be more sensible? place another question mark in the shortness that is this story? do the right thing, the voice said and ye shall be rewarded.
who are you, said sponge.
an apparition, the voice said. mother mary today and cousin keith another. your shadow and your shade. they are selling tickets over there. thank you, said sponge. 30 euro, the voice said, to support the laden. a bargain. a word for the stricken for only 10 euro extra.
all the sunshine now, the man said, folded his umbrella and threw it away. just like that. how wet he got then in the rain. we laughed. it was a quiet afternoon then, later. nobody said much, to be honest, after that; there’s no denying it.
i remember well, says sponge, although i’d almost forgotten. a rainy day.
herr brekst walked into a cafe (with a short sentence on his lips). these things happen, in a same thing, different day sort of manner. he saw a man. he, the man, drank coffee. a suitable activity but that is another thing; we won’t talk about it now, at this point. they used to celebrate, brekst said, back in the middle ages, more than we would think, if we think about them at all that is. most of the time we don’t. the train people had received some cash as a bonus. the short sentence skirting his lips in brackets had disappeared like a flap dragon.
it’ll be a while now, said sponge, until these train people get back on track.
they are on schedule though. but schedule is a long word, might be a while to be through.
they have a rigid definition, they’ll be on track soon.
so it goes, said sponge, year in, year out, on and on, same syntax.
to go on: on looking back ‘on’, the word, reads ‘no’.
elderly ladies will fall out of windows once more, or twice, will tumble down, go on. get up, swiftly clean their clothes and go about their business, go on, get on with things.
we don’t to worry about that, said sponge, everything will fall in the right place. with breadroll’s agreement they spent the day this way or the other. nothing happened. but that is different story.
an the ass saw the angel, said sponge, and took no notice.
what an ass, said breadroll, if you allow the pun.
i don’t, said sponge, you know.
i know now, and i take it back. was she nude? like in those paintings?
too bad. what a shame.
the ass should have shagged the angel, said breadroll, would have added to the story.
mr. slot was most displeased to find sponge splashed on his seat like a suburban urchin but had he ask the train people, little more than rude insults would have been the outcome.
mr. slot sat somewhere else and that was that.
herr brekst had had a similiar experience once.
during the offally bombing nobody shot, said sponge.
that’s an old story, said breadroll.
that is the face of terror, said sponge, didn’t shot this time, will shot next time. that’s the snot in the nose. what it boils down to. the snot in the nose. it’s there, you don’t feel it, don’t know about it and bang, pops out and causes havoc.
sponge sulked a bit. he liked his imagery, which didn’t ring with the others. rainy day with gust of northerly wind. terror brings security, just as the train people work. a train will come. peace on earth, our pure essence.
the dead bird won’t look more like a turkey, said sponge, when you stomp it. it’s a dead bird.
almost the size of a turkey breast, said breadroll.
that’s because you stomped it, said sponge.
you said that, said breadroll.
they felt very silly. only one was saved, they say. only one, but one is not bad. saved. that means he’s alright. one. saved. imagine that.
yes. a sudden. great now and in a sudden small and crushed. the sudden certainly makes the difference, said sponge. he also said, he didn’t think a phonecall would be necessary but that’s a different matter all together.
o the fun we had, said sponge, that was really fun. we were different then. less grubby. more snappy celery. now we know the right queue from the wrong, as they say. i have never heard anyone saying that but it is important to remember to choose the right queue, one for hopeful things, worthy the disappointment. though it is hard to spot them, requires practice, which one doesn’t get from waiting in the wrong one. but we are hopeful.
a hungry lady wants a bite of me, said breadroll.
she should queue for bread, said sponge. where is an angry mob when you need it.
you are small, aren’t you, the man said for he was big.
that sums it up, said breadroll, what are we going to do about it. i certainly won’t be able to do anything whatsoever, that’s for sure i swear to god, if you know what i mean.
i can see where you are coming from, the man said, and that’s just your luck.
fart. fart, what’s that but a highlighted pee or poo in waiting, not a pee perhaps. i can’t believe anyone wants to know that, said sponge.
the public, after all we are celebrities. says breadroll without meaning it nor clarifying which bit; which bit, said sponge, you know we all tire from time to time. maybe brekst doesn’t but he’s one of those arty types.
sulky silence. just tick yes, we don’t want to cause problems. after all.
the rain has stopped for a while, said sponge, but not for long. i wonder if that is the climate change.
smells like i anyway, said breadroll, i smell a rat when i see one.
that was the most stupid comment in a while.
was meant to be.
that brings me back, said sponge, hours of senseless talk. just speak. he looks around, sees nothing. ya well, he says.
it had to come out. this dramatic entry into a story was written down by a young man from bolton, bath or leatherhead. he sat for a while and contemplated, thought about the meaning of this sentence, the first in a succession of many more that would form a novel rather than a story, he knew that much, couldn’t reach a conclusion, went for a drink with friends, nightclub afterwards, met a girl, drunken sex, awkward conversation at the breakfast table, dry toast, no butter, jam. what had been intended to be a one night stand turned out to be a longer affair, marriage eventually, children, job, mortgage, the template order of things. when, after year the man look at this very first sentence of an otherwise unwritten novel he wrote: it was out. when it was out it was over.
the man was from darlington.