a short story

December 12, 2013 § 2 Comments

There once was a clerk, Mr T.

The sir was in fact one Mr. G. but was referred to by his clerking colleagues, unapologetically, by the former name. He held a modest job in the city, where his intellect was left untouched and all his promises lay like treasure, waiting, huge. Fortunately, our clerk had the good sense to fit illicitly into his day some writing, philosophical musings of a sometimes amusing and sometimes most profound sort — and he painted by night.

There was a would-be Mrs T. waiting for him at home. She was perhaps a little difficult, the little woman. One moment in tears and the next quite silent, but in fact she always grinned quite like an imp when she met our clerk at the station. It was, she reflected, one of the happiest moments of her day.

Now, Mr. T’s nocturnal paintings were of particular interest. A series of self portraits, they revealed the most complex and beautiful of natures, but a troubled one, too. It might be noted that no self-respecting self portrait will ordinarily allow a cheery simpleton to inhabit its frame. Nonetheless to look upon these outpourings was to teeter upon the precipice of a mind that delved and twisted and tipped to fathomless heights and soaring bottoms. His writings proceeded in linear fashion, by contrast, and were translated from head to text with a dexterity that I have tried to match since — with no success at all. T, a man of letters, went quite unparalleled.

(It would be easy at this juncture to draw a quick comparison between Kafka, that literary clerk of old and our clerk, here, but there would be little point in the exercise; so widely did their characters and their creations differ. Comparisons are odious, after all.)

The word of the year, that year of 2013, was, I am told “selfie”.

Miss V, as the would-be Mrs T. was at that point titled, also had a thing for words and would cast them off in all directions seemingly at random before hastily censoring at least 80 per cent of the dispatched. On occasion Mr. T. could be seen to quite despair of her, for she lacked something of a rudder and a backbone. Curl-footed with awkwardness and hair vacantly tugged out as she fretted on the chaise longue, it gave one pause to witness the female of an evening. It occurred to her that she might be better off a cross-legged and shaven-haired sort of Zenite of a person, and to give up this desire demand once and for all. But Love made that quite impossible.

What I would narrate here is a love story. This period in their lives has been called retrospectively: a strange time, but I think that might be rather a silly thing to call it. What it was was a sort of beginning, and beginnings are generally difficult. There were frustrations and false starts, fatigue and eye infections. There was the question of money and the state of unemploy that the little woman at that time enjoyed. There was always the quandary of what would go next and what to want next and how to set off, together. But it was a love story that I began to narrate here, and I am told that they were alright in the end.

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