Sunday, January 7, 2018

Fiction #76: Robert Lake

A Suture in Time

During the reading of stingy Aunt Hattie’s  will by her corrupt lawyer, mouthpiece Alastair Capon, Pinocchio quivers like an arrow’s shaft in a dying deer’s haunch. His long needle-thin nose dribbles. He panics! He faces pitiful prolonged poverty. His dream of wedding and bedding Eurydice, so far above him in stature, social class and purity, her petite nose erotic, becomes road kill, a porcupine squashed by a Harley Davidson.  Eurydice’s the widow of his best friend, Orpheus, who was shredded by furious women for making love to only men, although never to Pinocchio, who believes that Eurydice is a virgin. Maybe so, but Eurydice hides from Pinocchio that she has many lustful suitors.

Nickel-nursing Aunt Hattie had been a repository of self flattering smug quotes “only an aunt can give hugs like a mother, keep secrets like a sister and share love like a friend” and left to Pinocchio only a factory, Tiffany Threads, in bankruptcy protection. Once Tiffany Threads, white, gold, black as an assassin’s heart, and red as fiery as Hell’s furnace, were found in homes everywhere women mended. Tiffany Thread catalogues had been collectors’ items. Now Pinocchio is liable for stingy Aunt Hattie’s estate’s debts. Alastair Capon recommends the services of Angus Heap, an Inuit descendant of Uriah Heap, Charles Dickens’ smarmy villain.

Angus is tall, glib and spindly, despite gobbling large portions of Neapolitan ice cream. He’s constantly in heat, ghostly white, not at all like Pinocchio’s expectations of an Inuit from Greenland. Angus speedily identifies the hazards facing Tiffany Threads

“Nobody sews or mends in our go go world. I shall call you Piny, rhymes with tiny, which you are, except for that ludicrously extended nose,” he says in a broth of Scotch accent, scrubbed of any stains of Greenlandic . “Fashionistas buy clothes they wear for two weeks and trash. The poor buy disposable clothes at Wal-Mart. Hand me downs are so last century.”

“You mean mending’s passé?” asks a gobsmacked Piny, who hates being called Piny although Eurydice thinks it cute. Meadow, squat, swarthy, pig nosed and devoted to Piny, often asks if he loves Eurydice. “No!” he replies, his nose growing with each denial.

“By the way, who is that hot babe?” wonders Angus.

“Eurydice. Don’t call the purest women alive a hot babe!” replies Piny.

“Pure? What a waste, “says Angus.

“She’s a widow.”

“Fantastic. She can’t be pure.”

“Is so!”

“Does she insist on rubbers?”

“Rubbers? What are they?” asks Piny.

“French letters. Condoms. Hate them,” replies Angus.

“My goddess has no need of them,” insists Piny.

“Oh, sure. Let’s move on. Garbage dumps overflow with castoff clothing. I recommend an advertising blitz to extol the virtues of thread, particularly candy cane coloured,” says Angus.

“What if it doesn’t work?” asks Piny.

“Failing means you’re playing. It will only cost three hundred thousand. If it works you’ll be rich. If it fails, what’s another few thousands to a bankrupt short man?”

Piny, who still bears the scars of his aunt’s gibes that he’s a stunted dwarf, stifles his holy urge to head butt the scrotum of Angus, who promises the advertising crusade will exploit the time-fatigue of 21st century serfs of capitalism.  “They’ll do anything to snatch a few minutes of free time. We’ll make them believe that buying Tiffany Threads’ stitches, particularly marigold yellow, will save them time. I’ve already got a slogan: a stitch in time saves fourteen!”

“How about a suture in time saves thirteen?” replies Piny. Meadow thinks that correction classy

“Yer bum’s oot the windae,” says Angus.

“What’s that mean in English?” asks Piny.

“You’re talking no sense, wee guy,” grins Angus.

Once again, and not for the last time, Piny resists his righteous impulse to head butt Angus’ scrotum and pierce it with his long sharp nose. Angus surmises that Piny is thinking of sacking him and regains lost ground by saying, “Guid gear comes in sma’ bulk.” Piny no longer asks for translations, merely looking up Scots’ language expressions on the internet, where he reads that good things come in small packages. Meadow, who distrusts Angus like poison oak with autumn red leaves, suspects that’s where the phony Scot gleans Scottish lingo.

Angus smacks his forehead. “A stitch in time save fourteen won’t work. Nor will thirteen or fifteen. They don’t rhyme. I’ve got, I’ve got it.” He hoists Piny over his head and gleefully whirls him on an extended arm. Meadow begs Angus to land Piny on solid ground.

“Can’t set Piny down. Ye make  a better door than a windae,” says Angus.

“Stop whirling me like a sea sick helicopter,” pleads Piny, who wants to blow his long needle-thin nose, difficult under any circumstances, but impossible while being twirled by a spindly Inuit.

“I’ve got it, I’ve got it. A stitch in time saves nine,” exults Angus. “We’ll swell the thread market to include not just women, but men and transgender sorts.”

“Suture in time saves nine!” says Piny. Meadow thinks suture is terrific.

“If she’s a Meadow, watch out for thistles,” warns Angus, who agrees to try Piny’s version and launches  an advertising campaign on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and every social media thread buyers surf. Angus doesn’t ignore traditional media and buys two-page spreads in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle and more. Soon the slogan “suture in time saves nine” prances brightly through the dreams of fashionistas and welfare freeloaders. Piny gleefully orders Tiffany Threads’ workers to labour overtime to fill the avalanche of sales he anticipates. They refuse. They haven’t been paid for months.

“Fucking arsehole socialists!” says Eurydice. Piny’s shocked. Where was such vulgarity forced upon a pure goddess? Eurydice informs shop steward, Stuart Stuart, that she wants Piny to move Tiffany Threads to Pakistan. “Workers there don’t demand benefits, other than a daily bowl of rice with lentils.”

“We may be arseholes, but not socialists, we’d vote Trump if we were Americans,” shop steward, Stuart Stuart, replies.

“Hey, Piny, Eurydice wants to know what a suture is,” Angus interrupts. He’s bought her a kilt, a very short kilt, an immodest kilt, a tam and Highland dancing shoes, a vision that arouses Piny mightily. Meadow shudders with jealousy.

“That Meadow’s going to seed,” observes Angus.

“Angus, you bogus Scot, you’re fired.. Stuff those Scottish sayings and shun Eurydice!” exclaims Piny.

“It’s a lang road that’s no goat a turnin,” replies Angus. “Scrap up another five hundred thousand and I’ll launch another advertising campaign using a stitch in time saves nine.”

Piny has no chance of raising half a million, he confides to Eurydice, a canny investor. She buys a chunk of Tiffany Threads, despite Piny’ worries that this might eat into the insurance settlement she’d scammed from the women who shredded Orpheus. 

“I’ll chat up anybody I like, including Inuit Scots,” Eurydice saucily announces, inflaming Piny’s jealousy, reddening the tip of his nose, limping his erection and heartening Meadow. She naively believes Piny will finally see through the artifices of Eurydice and welcome her to his bed, despite her pig nose.

Once again Angus posts ads on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and every social media thread buyers surf. Angus doesn’t ignore traditional media and takes two-page spreads in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle and more. To attract male stitchers he buys time on the World Series and the Superbowl. He places ads in Frock magazine and in FTM magazine. Soon the slogan “a stitch in time saves nine” dances vividly through the dreams of fashionistas and welfare freeloaders, men, women and the transgendered.

On line orders for threads, pink, purple, chartreuse, black, white, brown, and a new colour, Neapolitan, named by Angus after his favourite three-coloured ice cream, crash the webpage of Tiffany Threads. Fortunately, Meadow, a computer nerd with a nose like a snout, rescues the webpage, ignored by Piny who catches Angus sneaking Eurydice spools of Neapolitan thread and blowing her kisses. Surely, goddess Eurydice won’t be seduced by a Greenland Inuit, who is often short of cash and borrows from Piny to pay his credit cards. But canny Angus is raking in filthy lucre in buckets: he’s established with Eurydice a line of clothing, called MendMeNow,  that needs urgent mending, jeans with knee holes, blouses with missing buttons, ripped leggings, Cardigans with dangling zippers and most enticingly blouses with ripped bodices. Fashionistas buy racks of MendMeNow clothes, which they need to use all their thread.

Though now incredibly rich, Piny despairs. Angus and Eurydice flourish. Meadow in her melancholy brainstorms for projects to rescue Piny from his slough of despond.

“Sutures! Sutures! Dissolvable sutures!” she exclaims.

Piny has never heard of dissolvable sutures.

“Doctors will call them absorbable sutures after you invent them.” Meadow urges.

“Why doesn’t Eurydice answer my text message?”

Meadow ignores Piny’s still simmering infatuation with Eurydice and explains the need for absorbable sutures. Sutures are stitches used in surgery to bind wounds and joints. But they require follow-up appointments to remove the stitches and robust stitches can hurt the wound.

“If you could invent a stitch that would dissolve, you would be a benefactor of humanity,” says Meadow.

Piny enlists the help of Stuart Stuart, shop steward at Tiffany Threads, who loathes Eurydice and her surveillance cameras that limit workers trips to the john for snorts of cocaine. She plans to wheedle Piny into agreeing to shift Tiffany Threads to Bangladesh, where workers don’t lodge complaints or seek raises. Stuart Stuart realizes that inventing dissolvable sutures might distract Piny from pining for Eurydice and finds a secluded area of the factory, free of Eurydice’s surveillance cameras. Piny works feverishly without success, still pining for Eurydice, who bombards him with email for his agreement to shift Tiffany Threads to Burma or wherever workers come cheap. Stuart Stuart intercepts these emails and deletes them.

Meadow is struck by lightning, not really, just metaphorically. “Try silk thread!’

“Why?” ask Piny and Stuart Stuart.

“Silk is foreign to the body, which will produce toxins to dissolve the silk.”

“Piny, you should marry this genius. Who cares about her snout?” says Stuart Stuart.

*

Eurydice and Angus, filthy rich scammers of fashionistas, live gleefully ever after.  Well, except for a few abortions, Angus still refuses to wear rubbers. They live less and less happily until the consequences of self indulgent booze and diet ends their brief swagger upon the stage.

Pinocchio and Meadow, contributors to human welfare in a minor way, live in the turmoil and torment of genuine achievement. Meadow accepts Piny will always pine for Eurydice, but never asks him if he still loves that petite-nosed erotic beauty. This prevents him fibbing and so his needle-thin nose gradually shortens. Meadow finds contentment in her twins, whose noses are normal, neither long nor snouts. Stuart Stuart is their godfather. The twins cremate Pinocchio and Meadow, mingling their ashes in a single urn, when their longish strut upon the stage skids to a halt.

*

Robert Lake emerges from senility frequently to publish creative nonfiction, speculative fiction and realistic fiction. He's not sure what kinds of fiction his scholarly articles and journalism are. He writes contentedly (somewhat) in Ottawa when not travelling. Alas, a jaunt last year was to hospital for 20 days, three of them on life support.

Photo credit is Carolyn Lake

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