by DF Lewis and Mrs D LewisFirst published in ‘Parasol Post’ 1999
Sun Rising, iridescent, spreading, searching all the available spaces – except in the inner deep of the Vast Complex, where Edel was in gloom. Head bent over a mass of papers, many of them non current, muttering two suicides, three travel accidents, one hanging, nine terminal flayings … or was it two hangings?
“Edel, what you muttering now?”
Edel turned his bronzed handsome face towards the voice …
His wife Myrnath was preening in front of a long black mirror, hitching up her dress in an unseemly fashion–or so Edel thought. The mirror was only black from his vantage point, silver, no doubt, from hers. To do with refraction, incidence, complementary angles … nine rhomboids, five and half pukka polygons, a mutant trapezium…. Myrnath had often done this test on him, ending quite serious talk with things like two tons of elephants in a nabob’s sack. Edel laughed. He had always noticed the point at which Myrnath’s words took a wayward track, even if he hadn’t been listening to them beforehand!
Sun Rising. He now saw that it was daylight outside. New customers would soon be arriving, clutching their black-edged appointment cards. It was only then that they would realise the so-called Vast Complex was not quite so Vast! And that brought him back full circle to complementary angles of incidence!
Myrnath made her way languidly to the reception where already ten customers were waiting, clutching their application forms, anxious to complete their transactions. She was surprised to note that Cornforth was amongst the queue. The factory was still reeling from his last request.
Edel, having finally sorted his mind into a random collection of thoughts, gathered some of his papers and, floating them around himself, proceeded to join his assistant …
“Hey, who let him in?” he squawked, pointing at Cornforth.
The latter was a decidedly plug ugly individual, who mouthed obscenities as a matter of course. He, too, had papers wheeling round him like items of origami chasing their own tails.
Edel snatched one of his own dockets from above his head and proceeded to scan down a long list, sucking the pointed end of his pencil as he did so. The other nine customers had by now collected their own thoughts sufficiently to gather that Cornforth and Edel were not the best of friends.
Indeed, the two men were now neatly folding sheets of paper into geometrical shapes as part of an attempt to create model aeroplanes which, when cast upon the meniscus of an opportunistic laminar thermal, would beat even the distance death needed to go to kill time itself. As the saying went.
Meanwhile, Myrnath was flirting with Someone she knew as Else – a person of ambivalent gender, who was theoretically the head of the raggle-taggle queue. So, Myrnath had no qualms in simply ignoring Edel and Cornforth, who were, by now, engulfed in a veritable dogfight of paper darts. She did not even bother to resort to sarcastic catcalls relating to blunt logarithms or elephant timetables or, even, radices multiplying like rabbits.
Else had, it seemed jumped the grumpy queue by using another entrance of which the others had been entirely ignorant – poor blighters, that they were, who had kicked their heels outside whilst Else had been sitting in relative comfort on the floor reading a newspaper. Having even had the nerve to complain about the lack of a proper chair in the reception area, Else became nervous, what with stares stabbing his back and his own reason for being at the Deathworks today being more than just a little unusual.
Myrnath slowly established – by means of piecemeal implications – that Else wanted death from a falling-in-the-sky, not like Icarus but from being tipped out of a chair which had a vast collection of balloons attached to it. He had – Myrnath inferred – read about it in his newspaper, an article concerning posthumous silly death awards of the last millennium. How much would that cost? A paper dart flew past Else’s ear, the perfect symmetry of which cast a beautiful shadow across the opposite wall. If such a shadow could be bottled, Deathworks Inc. might sell it to the Tate gallery for more than a mint.
Myrnath interrupted these elsewhere disorders: “Now what can I do for you, Darling.”
She had spotted that the rest of the queue was growing even uglier. This despite Cornforth having quit its ranks amid further diving dockets, foolscaps of angry air and multi-angular folds of non-Euclidean physics. Edel was beating a retreat in face of such a barrage … only to stumble backwards into Else’s bodily territory which also happened, at that time, to be occupied by Myrnath’s own territory: a Venn diagram with overlapping tangents of surreptitious passion.
Within a single bubble of interconnecting triangles or various illicit emotions such as rage, sensuality and pre-menstrual tension, Edel, Myrnath and Else floated from the Vast Complex – via an exit which, inadvertently, had also served as the erstwhile clandestine entrance by which Else had earlier pre-empted the queue – towards the sky where the Trinity joined the Sun Rising in labyrinthine curvatures of astrological pre-determinism. The Myrnath third decided that nobody was listening to it and, as legend tells us, spoke for eternity about potatoes and elephants and nothing else. The Edel segment muttered of the misalignments of travel accidents and other such concerns relating to the recession-hit factory. But, before the bubble finally polyploded into a panoply of smaller bubbles worthy of being exhibited on the same Tate Gallery wall as the previously bottled shadow – both of which works of death Cornforth later claimed as his own – Else’s falsetto voice could be heard complaining about the lack of a chair.