View Full Version : Whitsnap Comes to Brampton’s for Brunch

September 27th, 2010, 04:20 PM
Warning: Contains profanities throughout.

“Ah. Splendid,” thought Charles Brampton, as he sipped his morning six strength Taylors Hot Lava Java coffee.
“Six Strength Taylors Hot Lava Java Coffee. What a turbid-tongue-twistingly-far-from-torpid phrase,” he muttered to himself. Charles liked to mumble to himself from time to time. He found that when speaking to himself, he didn’t have to worry about other people actually listening, or pretending to listen, or pretending to hear, or him having to pretend he cared about them pretending to hear or listen, or him having to worry about what he said, and whether it would offend anyone, or please anyone, or make any sense at all. That is what he found.
Charles had invited his friend, Harold Whitsnap, over to his apartment for brunch that day. He was drinking coffee to pass the time until Harold arrived.
The doorbell rang.

“Hello Mr. Whitsnap, it surely is fantastic to see you,” he capitulated. “Utterly fantastic. Unutterably fantastic.”
Harold steadied to the couch quite gaily in his gait of good faith so often found in idealistic youths.
“It is magnificent to see you again, my good friend. How long has it been? A few months at least I should think. A few months at the least.”
“I haven’t counted,” said Charles.
They sat down to the eggs, toast, jams, teas and juices that Charles had prepared earlier. Grumpy old men do seem to either retreat into simple foods, or flourish into chefdom. They talked about the usual trifle things, and had a good catch up. It turned out that Harold had recently been hired by a large and important law firm, and was earning lots of money.
“They have beds in some of the offices you know. Beds. Can you believe that? I shamefully admit that I’ve had to use one myself at times. The lawyers have to print out all the papers for the next day, some people finish at one in the morning, some people never get any sleep at all. I think it’s sad. I know that I’m doing it all myself, but when reflecting on it, I realise it’s sad. Awfully sad. But on the other hand I do earn a lot of money.”
“Well, then you have good reason to keep doing what you’re doing,” stated Charles. He was older, retired, and never had experienced that sort of profession. He had been a school teacher. Eight to four. Or, if there had been detentions, eight to five.
“Charles! How could you assent to such a ludicrous idea? Money can’t buy one happiness, you know.”
“But it certainly can buy things which make one happy. Think about it. Money can’t buy anger, despair, anxiety, hatred, or any other negative emotion. So why should it be able to buy positive ones? Only things, events or experiences can invoke an emotion. Nothing abstract like money can buy one. Money is just an exchange value. It’s only in this fucked up and confused society of today, when people seem to think that money is the ends itself, and not just a means to purchasing things which are actually of intrinsic value. Only under the influence of this fiscal society do people seem to think that money is going to buy them happiness. Then they say silly clichs like ‘money can’t buy happiness.’ But think of all the things which make you happy! A nice home, wife or girlfriend, cars, holidays, friends – all those things cost money! Lots of money. And you know it. So don’t go saying silly things like you just fucking said. Your getting bloody rich now and you should just enjoy it. Leave the spiritual philosophising to people like me, retired school teachers who are nearer to their deathbed, and can think the evenings away, and aren’t caught up printing papers all night, sleeping in offices. If you aren’t going to take time to think about these sorts of things, because you’re working all the time, then don’t pretend that you have thought about them.”
“Well, how could you know what it’s like for me? You have never lived as me, been in my shoes.”
“Another clich. Everybody can be read, examined, and worked out objectively. All their motives and life routes can be figured if one knows their situation perfectly. And I know you pretty well. I don’t have to live as you, or wear your stinking shoes or any of that rubbish to work out why you are doing certain things and what it is like being you. I’d rather be you than me. You have your youth, good looks, good job. Everything worth having. I’m just an old retiree who sits around talking to himself and drinking coffee. Inviting friends round for brunch – friends who actually have lives and things going for them.”
They sat for a while in silence. Harold filled his cherub mouth with cherub cigarettes, and Charles hid his gaunt and sagging face behind smoke raiment from his ivory embroidered golden gilded pipe. He took one puff for each thought he conjured. Or at least he appeared to. He knew that it is much easier to appear intelligent than be intelligent.

“I wrote a rhyming couplet the other day,” began Harold. “I want to put it in the card I’m giving to Anita for our sixth year anniversary.” Harold thought Charles a good judge on literature and such things. He thought Charles would be a good person to show it to, to get some schoolboy feedback.
“Go for it,” replied Charles.

“I search my mind for coupled quips,
But you’re the one I’m coupled with.”

“Well, what do you think?” awaited Harold.
“Good use of slant rhyme, but it seems slightly negative, cynical perhaps. As if you regret being coupled to your wife. Rhyming couplets have that effect sometimes, a negative effect, a sense of regret, as if something has gone wrong or stagnant. They are good for ironic topics. Your couplet gives the impression of being trapped in a room with her, as if you were about to go off on some great personal and intellectual enterprise, but then you have been brought back down to earth and the stark realism of your relationship. You began searching for romanticised things such as quips, wit, wisdom, et cetera; then the second line of the couplet grabs your ankles as you try to fly up to the profounder heights, and it pulls you down. It pulls you back down to your shitty boring marriage.”
“I didn’t mean that at all! What I was trying to profess, was how I can look for intellectualisms and epigrammatic wit – be able to write rhyming couplets, coupled quips - but really all I want is my wife. A relationship more meaningful and profound than any idea or philosophy.”
“Here you go again. More rubbish, just like before. Surely love is an idea, a philosophy? So wouldn’t that mean that you want a relationship more meaningful than itself? I think you should add two more lines to your poem.”

“I search my ass for worthless shit,
But really I should read my writs.”

“That is cruel Brampton. Cruel. You really can make anything mean anything can’t you? You’re terribly nihilistic.”
“You see, young Harold, there are different levels of intellectualism. There is the stupid, dogmatic and empty person, who doesn’t spend time wallowing in poetic thoughts. Then there is the person who is searching for meaning. Then there is the person who has been through all that crap, found no answers, so no longer spends time wallowing in poetic thoughts. I am the third type, you are the second. It is so much easier to get on with things once you have accepted a permanent stance of nihilism. Principles just get in the way and limit one. As a nihilist, I look objectively upon everything in front of me – I can quite literally shift words and ideas around to suit my purposes, or just to prove people wrong. Of course you know about doing all that kind of stuff don’t you, being a lawyer?”
“You could be shifting your words around right now, couldn’t you?”
“Yes. I could be. But so could you.”

They continued to talk for a while. Harold went to work that afternoon (and night). Charles drank some more coffee.

Richard Smith
September 27th, 2010, 05:26 PM
I will try to comment more later, but your inconsistent formatting, specifically line breaks, makes this difficult to speed read.

September 29th, 2010, 06:25 PM
I never fancied books that opened with a quote...

"Charles liked to mumble to himself." is a much better opening. Then you can go into the tongue twisting Lava Java thingy. Your first paragraph is very confusing and hard to read...too wordy, I'd say. Try it again and remember less can be more.