ABSURDIS EXTREME // Case Study #32 [12/01/2109] by B.A. Loney

This is the story of three proofs: the biggest one, the blue one and the round one.

One of my assistants left them on my table without any identifying labels, and after this made a kerplunky little hole in the water. That’s right, she stepped into the loo bowl and sank out of sight. She never did return. Perhaps this nightmare ordeal had gotten too much. Not that I blame her.

Anyway, I had to work.

The biggest proof had more than a whiff of arsine sulfide about it. I sneezed, and placed it back on the table. Didn’t want to mess with that one.

I decided not to smell the blue proof because it looked like a dead Smurf that’d been put through a blender then snap frozen in the shape of a bow tie. I licked it instead. It tasted like… a dead Smurf that’d been put through a blender then snap frozen in the shape of a bow tie.

The dots were starting to connect.

Oh, the round proof? The less said about that the better, I guess. Let’s just say that when you squeezed it, it sounded like an asthmatic gerbil dying in an iron lung. It gave me such a fright that I nearly dropped the thing.

Did I mention that everything was becoming much clearer now?

I snapped on rubber gloves and protective goggles, took a rack from the storage cupboard, and cautiously placed the proofs upon it. Then I squelched through watery loo muck to my supervisor’s office and put the rack with the proofs on the table in front of him. He looked askance at said proofs, then at me as if I’d played an extremely offensive practical joke.

I shook my head in a helpless ‘no’, and added a shrug in case the head shake wasn’t enough. I was deadly earnest. What were these proofs actually proof of? And how did we know that they were proofs in the first place? Wasn’t the burden of proof upon these proofs to prove that they were proofs?

So, at that point I did what any sane scientist would have done: I made a kerplunky little hole in the water and stepped in. Yes, that’s right, I stepped into the loo bowl and sank out of sight as my supervisor looked helplessly on.

And the proofs? Well, no one knows what’s happened to them since.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019

100 WORD SKITTLE // Plantocracy in Action

Tasha Quatro’s head was ready to burst. She’d spent the last few hours trying to find something unambiguous to write about, but every attempt brought only further disappointment. Pineapples weren’t fruits. Tomatoes weren’t vegetables. And now she wasn’t even sure if she was Tasha or a big, fat potato-head.

This homework was killing her. Botany was her least favourite subject, and it hung above her head like the sword of Damocles. She looked over at the nearest table where students from the law faculty worked casually on their own homework. They were laughing like crazy, discussing Nix v. Hedden and sharing sips from a flask of what she imagined was alcohol. Tasha felt a bad attack of envy.

The next day, Tasha went to the Dean’s office and handed in an application to change faculties. Botany was too vague a science for her taste. The world of law seemed much more exciting, more stable and reliable with its facts. It couldn’t be misinterpreted or distorted.

[Though this has 165 words, the case of T&T v. Common Sense decrees that it must be classified as a 100 Word Story. The court records cannot be shown because much of their contents have been redacted, but you can bet your sweet bippy that our arguments were watertight and completely valid. Ergo, this is a 100 Word Story. We’re the ones with the big wigs, fancy gowns and gavel, so what we say goes! Dixi.]

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019

CALIXIAN // Fishing for the Truth

“Look at this bloody thing…”

Calix didn’t look.

“Amazing. The way it uses its foot to get the garbage into its trunk, then from its trunk into the bin…”

“Darwin, I get it. You’re quite able to find one million and one reasons for procrastinating. I’ve asked you to take out the garbage at least…” she counted in her head “…four times in the last hour. It stinks like hell in here! Or are you too busy watching ‘Taking Out Trash for Dummies’ to notice?”

“What can I say?” shrugged Darwin. “Instagram’s so damned addictive. And this elephant video…”

He held up his smartphone for Calix to see. She, of course, made no attempt to engage. Maybe she could get him to drop dead of boredom. That way, he’d finally leave her alone.

“Seriously, it’s funny!” Darwin was trying to wave it beneath her nose now. “Don’t you like funny?”

Calix stuck her nose further into the laptop and kept typing. Nope. There would be no stupid comedy animal videos for her. No way! She had better things to do than watch dumb animals be stripped of their dignity for human amusement.

Her lack of response only put Darwin in a foul mood. He was like a petulant little child, swivelling on his chair and pouting. Then he stopped, and continued to fuss a finger about his phone’s tiny screen. “Fine. See if I care,” he muttered to himself.

Calix sighed inwardly. After an evening of this infantile behaviour, was he now going to leave her be?

Then suddenly: “Calix! I just remembered!” Darwin jumped out of his chair.

Calix nearly wiped the laptop clear off her desk in surprise. And the ballpoint pen. Panting, she turned to Darwin, her look promising nothing but retribution. “What the fuck, Darwin…”

“The goldfish! I found it in the toilet bowl yesterday.” He flapped his arms a little, as if this would aid in her comprehension. It didn’t.

“You… What?!”

“In the en suite. My toilet bowl. It was having a good old paddle. Happy as Larry!”

“Who’s Larry?”

“Dammit, Calix. It’s an expression. Do you have to take everything I say literally?!”

“On the contrary, I feel a powerful impulse to not listen to anything you say at all.”

Silence. It was the only decent response. Anything else would have been a waste of words. No matter what Darwin said, Calix would have a counter. So, no words. He’d clamp his mouth shut, flick through his Instagram and ignore the hell out of her.

Calix, for her part, didn’t give a damn. It was all the same whether her friend spoke or stayed quiet. Sure, she betrayed the faintest hint of a smile but that was only because she loved to annoy him. The rest of her face was kept scrupulously impassive as she positioned the laptop back into its correct place and resumed typing.

“Anyway, it’s a free country,” Calix said evenly. “Everyone can be wherever they want whenever they want. I don’t tell the whole world about your visits to the restroom and that sometimes you spend hours in there. It’s your legal right. What I don’t understand is why you don’t think the fish should have this same right?”

Darwin couldn’t help but bite. “I didn’t say it couldn’t! What I’m saying is how the hell did it get there?”

“Are you sure it was a fish? Or maybe you didn’t flush well enough and it wasn’t exactly a… you know… fish?”

“I do not shit orange turds, okay?! Jesus!”

Surprisingly, Calix started to look interested by this point. She shut her laptop and turned to give Darwin her complete attention. It was as if her inner Sherlock had suddenly activated. Yup, she was ready to pick up the trail of the murderer.

“Okay, let’s start again. What did you do in the toilet?”

“I didn’t do anything!” protested Darwin. “Well… I was going to. A number one to be precise.”

Calix nodded, and marked something in her notebook. Darwin blinked in confusion. Where the hell had she suddenly whipped that from? And was that his pen she was using? His favourite pen! Why wasn’t she using her own pen?

“Could you give me more details?”

“Hey! That’s mine!” He indicated his pen. “Get your own! The one you were chewing on!”

“Please. Don’t try to confuse the investigation.” Calix kept writing in the notebook. “Now, tell me, what did you do in the toilet on the 11th of September between 6:30am and 7:15am?”

“I said I didn’t do anything!” Darwin was flapping his arms again. (Perhaps for emphasis?) “I was going to take a piss but then I saw the goldfish in the toilet bowl and decided against it. Look, how many times do I have to say this?”

“Are you sure you’re not hiding some important details?” Calix squinted at him with suspicious eyes. “I’m certain I heard sounds at the time that testify you were not using your nether or nozzle exit. And leave the pen alone, scrooge!”

She snatched the pen away from Darwin’s grasping hands, and shot him a frosty look.

“Okay, so I chundered a little bit,” he sighed, dropping his arms to his sides. “Are you saying that’s a crime? It didn’t hurt the goldfish any!”

“And why do you think the goldfish appeared in the bowl before you started to barf, and not after? Hmmm?”

“What?” Darwin spluttered. “I don’t know! How about you tell me? You seem to know more than you’re letting on.”

Calix guffawed like a horse. “Because I saw how you were drinking water from the aquarium the day before, you idiot! You were as drunk as a fish!”

“I… what?! No! I think I’d remember doing something like that…”

“I tried to talk to you, but got only mooing and bleating. It made no sense to try and persuade you that an aquarium wasn’t the best way to tame your thirst! So, I left you alone.”

Darwin was shaking his head in an emphatic ‘no’. He wasn’t speaking now, just forming words with his mouth and making no sound. Much like a goldfish.

“By the way, you can find a video of this on Instagram.” Calix poked her phone under Darwin’s nose. “You want to like or comment?”

Darwin’s mouth was now a flat, tense line.

“Seriously, it’s funny!” She gave the phone a mocking little wiggle. “Don’t you like funny?”

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019

DARWINIAN // Fish ‘n’ Chips

“So, she’s telling her friend that her vagina’s beginning to smell like potato chips.”

Calix looked at him with a straight face. “Which brand?”

“What do you mean, which brand?” Darwin gave a rueful shake of his head. “Does that even make a difference to genital fragrance?”

“Of course! Every detail matters.”

“Well, they didn’t cover that, strangely enough.” He rolled his eyes. “If anything, I was more concerned with the fact that two women were openly discussing chips and vaginas on public transport!”

“I’m more concerned that you care about the bullshit people discuss on public transport.”

Darwin bristled at this. Calix had a special knack for turning his statements back on him, and he hated it. He made a point of sniffing haughtily but she took no notice. She was being all nonchalant instead, sitting there writing the next article for ‘Hooves, Horns & Rhododendrons Monthly Digest’ like she didn’t have a care in the world.

“Well, it was hard not to listen!” he muttered defensively. “They were talking loud enough.”

“Darwin, you’re lucky enough to be deaf! You get to choose if you listen or not.”

Calix’s nose was wedged firmly in her laptop. He watched her absentmindedly nibbling on a ballpoint pen, intermittently jabbing at the keyboard. How on earth had they even become friends? They disagreed on everything! And yet Darwin couldn’t imagine life without her. God, he hated that.

“I’m too dependent. That’s my problem.”

Calix looked up from the laptop and fixed her eyes on his.

“Shit. I said that out loud, didn’t I?” His cheeks flushed with embarrassment.

“On what?” Now Calix seemed almost interested. “What are you dependent on?”

“Erm, nothing. I’m just rambling again.”

Darwin backed away and turned to leave the room. It was time to make himself scarce before the conversation got too awkward. But Calix wasn’t having a bar of it.

“No, hang on! Where are you going? Don’t you want to talk about vaginas and chips any more?”

Darwin slumped his shoulders. Yup, that had stopped him in his tracks. She always had to have the upper hand, the final say in everything. He hated that so much. In fact, this friendship had too much hate going on. Was that normal? Perhaps ‘hate’ was too strong a word to be using in this context…

“Let’s start with chips. Could you go to the kitchen and bring me the paprika chips? I think I left an open pack on the table.”

Nope. It was the right word.

“And feed the goldfish. I think it needs to eat more than twice a week.”

“Yes, mum,” he grumbled under his breath. “Three bags full, mum.”

And suddenly Darwin recalled the night before… How had that damn goldfish ended up in his toilet bowl anyway? He wanted to ask Calix about this, but her unbearable acerbity would beat reason out of anyone. Perhaps he’d ask later when he was feeling up to the challenge.

With these thoughts swimming in his head, Darwin shuffled to the kitchen. He took up the open pack of chips, sniffed it, and shrugged his shoulders. No vagina he’d ever encountered had smelled like this. He sniffed again. Yeah, this was completely ordinary.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019

Today’s Special (March 4)

“Don’t faff around, Sally! She’s harmless, I tell ya!”

It’s a perfect spring day, shining like a new penny and smelling like a wild honey wind. On such days, sunlight reflects into people’s eyes, they’re late to work, and everyone falls in love at a glance.

Two young waitresses chirp near the back door of a little café. Cigarette smoke blends with the aroma of coffee and the smell of fresh baking. A big cat sprawls in delicate sunbeams, sharing a timeworn bench with some perky sparrows. There’s enough sun to go around!

“Hey you, young ladies! Quit slacking off! Come on, get busy!”

The manager’s shrill voice crushes this idyllic scene in the space of a clap. It shatters into a myriad of tinkling colourful pieces. The waitresses flit into the café. The sparrows scatter away like spilt sugar dragées. Only the cat continues to enjoy itself, correctly supposing that it’s busy enough anyway.

“Look! Look, Molly! It’s her again!”

Sally tugs on her girlfriend’s sleeve. Molly brushes her hand away. The new barista with his bright sapphire eyes and dazzling smile is working his magic near the old coffee machine. No one understands how he manages to get such a divine taste from third-rate beans. Every day, Molly’s all eyes and bated breath, spying on him. It feels so very close, but again and again the secret slips past Molly like a cheeky little Casper to hide in the vanilla steam puffs. The barista flashes her a wink and places some cups on a tray. Order’s up!

Molly takes the tray and rushes out into the street. She’s almost skipping. No one wants to sit inside a café on such a wonderful day!

She’s here. An old woman in a worn coat and a ridiculous straw hat, standing near an empty table. Some visitors have just left, and there are empty clay cups, dirty saucers and cutlery on the table. There’s also an ashtray with two stubs, and one of them has left a tip. The old woman carefully sweeps something from the table into a handkerchief, which she then folds and puts in her pocket. Molly looks at her. The old woman notices Molly, offers a shy smile and a nod, and walks away.

Molly stands there for a little while longer, enjoying the sweet air and its symphony of vehicle horns, then goes over to the table. She places the empty clay cups onto the tray, as well as the dirty saucers and cutlery, changes the ashtray, and drops the coins into her apron pocket. After ensuring that none of the other visitors needs her attention, Molly goes back inside the café. And just in time to see the barista grinding a new portion of coffee beans too! Another chance to distill his secret…

Sally and Molly walk down a sleepy street, eating mint ice cream and talking a mile a minute like they haven’t seen each other in ages.

“No, Molly, I can’t make it out. What is up with her?”

“Silly chickadee! I tell ya, she’s sweet. I’ll prove it to you. Let’s go!”

The girls turn into a narrow side street. It is adorned with small lanterns, sweet peas in big garden pots, and clotheslines. Sally and Molly approach a tilted shabby fence and find a hole to step through. Of course, the gate is right there—only a brick throw away—and it’s wide open, but who cares about gates when there’s such an alluring fence hole?

The old woman is here. She’s writing something on a scruffy blackboard. When she steps back, Sally and Molly see… a menu. It reads: ‘Madam Maganti’s Bird Pastry. Twenty kinds of the freshest every day cake crumbs!’

Sally stands open-mouthed. Molly smiles, pulls a small package from her pocket, and approaches the old woman.

“Twenty three, ma’am.”

Madam Maganti nods, and goes to the kitchen to put the kettle on the fire.

Day rolls under the bench, jumps one more time, and settles itself in the cozy warm dust. If you ask the cat, it tells you that the day lays tails-up. However, no one really cares.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2019