some lives are worse than others but the stories are all the same

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.

anything is good for something in the end

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.

we don’t like days and are at odds with nights

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.

a legend is born

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.

somewhere would be something else now

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.

stand up and be counted

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.

some incidents are just for nothing

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.

on rain and being rained on

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.

angst is not fear from but fear to

i’m afraid nothing will happen, sooner or later, said sponge and then said nothing. i couldn’t say why, but definitely, nothing will happen, we just don’t know when. so, there is this feeling, somewhat stuffy and dark, but definitely there. i told you know, you can quote me on that.

be good and do right

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.

a queue is all we need for good order

look at that, said sponge, they are all waiting. peacefully in peace. not a bother.
a queue, said breadroll.
i can see that, said sponge.
proper order, said breadroll.

dada is cheese on breadroll for those who can afford it

it took a long time to be still not finished. we should have started to finish earlier. right after finishing preparations to discuss the next step or two. between meeting to form the committees and before the blustering speeches and long, long before the biting speeches, right after the initial throat clearing to, as a bare minimum, have the stage before the previous one finished but this way it’ll take some time to be at the planning stages.
i’m aiming to have tuna then, said sponge.

thankfully ability is not all

he was well able, said sponge, but he still failed.
you keep refering to the title straight away.
i’m not. anyway, it’s not about ability at all. the next one is good looking and seems to be reasonably happy, may he’ll sell us a ticket. if it’s within reason.

literature is the summary of words within a story

they can kiss my dactylion, which i’m more than happy to extend in their general direction. sponge paused. continued to talk about a christmas party some years ago, where he hadn’t been. ranted. raved. on and on. more to be said.
so many fullstops, improperly parting words, assuming full sentences where there are none. that’s it. round bits of chewing gum are the stars in a pavement universe. if only the man with the lucozade knew what worlds he’s stepping on. what difference would that make? he would be walking as before, having no alternative.
so sponge was stuck for a cue, what next, you tell me. a story is only good of it has a story in it, a string of event or thoughts or opinions, spirited or spiteful, for readers to pick and mix. maybe they make a film out of it or a tv show, a late night special. the setting is a platform of station between two other stations, straightforward. someone could push the guy over thee in front of a train, he looks innocent enough to make it into the news as a father of four or a well-liked neighbour of sorts, one other neighbours remember, old-school character. but that won’t happen. there won’t be a train for ages and if one comes it’ll be crawling along so the man would have to be tied up or drugged or otherwise immobilised but then the train people might intervene, they always do, they think they can,  so they need to be dealt with and how do you do that? train people can be dealt with, they can be talked out of and into things but that requires time and time is what the villians don’t have. the train, albeit slow to arrive is often swift to go. what then? load the now immobilised man into a car, a black van perhaps or some boxy builders’ transport (white), handcuff and muffle him, ask a few questions, the man might know something, easy ones, we don’t know him very well, try to catch up with the train at the next station, that is one option; let him have it at the next station. to wait for the next train here, there another, trying not to draw a lot of attention. the job can drag on, hours pass one could put to better use, the fence needs mending, ages since a coat of protective paint had been applied, five years they say it’ll last and we started thinking about a new coat five years ago, we were talking, joking almost that five years on we’d still be talking and joking and here we are, talking and joking, but what can we do? we kind of stuck.
the first option adds rapid action to the story whereas the second introduces a time element, characters can be developed better in the rather static setting of a platform. (that theory, however, is not entirely proven to be correct). some cigarettes, smoked angrily, with haste, impatience, the wait tears nerves, they get to know the victim although he would have to be muffled. they stomp on their cigarettes, flung to the ground unfinished, no time to finish before the next. they might reconsider. maybe they beat him. or they go home altogether, the victim plodding along, it’s all delayed. they should have planned to push him in front of oncoming traffic. push and done, but no, it’s all delayed instead. the victim goes home with them, lives with them. it’s all delayed, how to get rid of him now.
that won’t happen here, said sponge. he wondered what the first sentence (they can kiss…) was meant to mean. that’s the thing, he said, when you pack too much into a story – it makes people wonder why.

a close one is many words

a round man sat down, preparing himself for things to come with a bag of crisps and a diet coke. his movements were swift and efficient. the task to be done. we whistle songs, that’s all, quietly in the wind. not much has shown up so far. we wait. we whistle. no song in particular, songs that’s all, just that. the pidgeon shat on the man’s shoulder. he grabs for the coke and holds it safely.
shat is an awkward word. but words don’t really happen, so nothing happened really.

almighty be mine

all these cheeses in the world and all we’ve go is cheddar, said breadroll, that’s what we stuff between our cheeks. and pork arseholes, with a scrumptious exotic sauce.
i could draw an asshole in the sand, it’s very easy, said sponge, really. would you like to see it?
breadroll did not want to. i do it anyway, said sponge. he drew an asshole.
they sulked.

for all it is worth

they did ask me, said breadroll to make the first line and that is exactly what i did — right now i did it. not that i did not do exactly the same thing before but that is a second line now which i believe everyone has been waiting for. we should get something out of it.
what, train folks asked. he was a stout fella, red around the nose, eyes bloodshot, contained movements, a bull about to enter a china shop. what, he says. ticket, he says, points towards the clock. shortly, he finally snorts. lifts his shoulders. eats.

that is no more an option than the other option

it was good, said sponge, even i find the thought revolting now when i come to think of it.
although it did happen all a bit of a sudden, said breadroll. no build up to it really. normally there is a hint of some sort. something at least. and we could have found other ways of entertainment.
i don’t think people liked it much, said sponge.
probably not, said breadroll. we do tend to labour on about things.
yea well, but are you going to do. ring in some cabaret?
phone would be outside.

train people are what

train people can be creepy, call themselves train staff or something organised. many encounter them without knowing who they are. they tend to inflict pain. they do. they want to.
they apologise for inconvenience caused.

shortly is a word of great compassion

train people are required to say shortly with a certain drawl. it must not sound threatening, it should sound both empathetic and helpless but yet suggest strong confidence in things working out well eventually at the same time, you don’t want a panic, panicking passengers are the worst. they shout and complain and want to speak the manager, who almost always does not want to speak to them. who do they think they are? others are not so lucky; others don’t even have permission to wait for a train, let alone see the arrival of one. years of training went into that and some never reach the degree of skill and seniority required to be suitably prepared to talk to the customer.
for budgetary reasons the management had recently started to employ young ladies who clearly did not the their pronunciation right but were hidden behind enforced glass; and wore nice dresses.
shortly, said sponge, shortly.
you have a certain arrogance, said breadroll, as if you wouldn’t want a train to appear at all. your fake tan is showing as well.
that’s my impertinence, said sponge.

the economy is running hot

people in dun laoghaire do not feel a lot of sympathy for people from offally, said sponge after all they used to sell offal and overcharge greatly. back in history that was. nowadays they don’t sell much at all. they have been bombed recently.
yeah, said breadroll, as a sidekick i obviously agree but anyway, the town is full of refugees.
the prices they charge for sex are appalling, says block of wood.

there will be more rain eventually

it is raining, said sponge, raining rain. i thought that would be something different to say about the rain. but there is room for improvement, certainly.
a different shade of grey over there, said breadroll and pointed. ove there. they took a long time to examine the other shade with no conclusion.
maybe other drops, said sponge.

apologies for that is what to say when attempting to apologise

what was that?
an apology, to apologise, apologies, i apologise. in general means apologize: defend, explain, clear away, or make excuses for by reasoning; “rationalise the child’s seemingly crazy behaviour but coming to the conclusion that it was just crazy behaviour”; “he rationalised his or hers”; but also: acknowledge faults or shortcomings or failings or blunders; “i apologised for being late”; “he apologised for the many lesser things in life”. that’s me, said sponge, any second now. but if we were to provide them with a detailed account of inconveniences caused, would they feel worse? the same? better?

yet to arrive the train is

well i don’t see much, said sponge, but that doesn’t mean much and certainly not that it certainly isn’t there. it may well be arriving any second.
any second, said breadroll, that’s why they have churches beside train station; when people are desparate they would be driven to religion.
prayer, said sponge, the last resort for the commuter.
the time display announcing the train’s delay was adjusted. some-one apologised on behalf of others.

© the Book of Sponge and Others.