Words Words Words Blah Blah

Posted: January 31, 2011 in critique
Tags: , , , ,

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The Saturday Afternoon Book Club and Tea/Coffee Slurping Contest was in session. The meeting was, as usual, held at the local franchise of National Chain Coffee and Pretentiousness, and exactly one half of the membership was present.

“Where’s the rest of you?” the poli-sci major barista asked.

“She’s running late,” Wilbur Islington answered. “Gimme a doppio espresso for here and some water, and Bertha’s probably gonna get some Earl Greyer. Lotsa lemons.” Wilbur paid the man, took the espresso and found a seat. Comfy leather chairs. Wilbur looked at home in his chair, looked like someone who would sit in a leather chair in a nondescript coffee house pounding back shots of espresso. In elementary school, his glasses would have been cheap metal frames with temples held in place with paper clips. Now, the frames were expensive black plastic frames, and the temples would probably have to be held on with paper clips at some point in the future. He cracked open his book and started reading as he waited.

It wasn’t long. Bertha Anderson came bustling in, holding her floppy sun-hat on her head with one hand and her book in the other. “I’m here, I’m here,” she panted. Bertha flopped down in the chair across the table from Wilbur. In elementary school, her glasses would be lost someplace, only to be found perched atop her head by her sister . Today, Bertha took off her sunglasses and fished about in her shoulder bag for her indoor ones. Wilbur took them off the bodice of her dress and handed them to her. “Thanks,” she smiled. She looked toward the counter. “I think I’m gonna get a-”

“Here’s your tea, ma’am,” as the barista appeared. The cup was empty on the tray; there was a clear plastic pot with leaves floating in steamy water. A pile of lemons sat beside it. The barista placed the whole affair on the table. Bertha looked after him as he left, then cocked an eyebrow at Wilbur. “I’m that predictable, huh?” she asked. Wilbur shrugged.

“We’ve been doing this for how long?” he answered. “I get espresso and water, you get Earl Greyer. It’s in the name of the club, after all.”

“Speaking of which, when we gonna get some new blood up in here? How you gonna have a club with just two people in it?”

“Makes it exclusive,” Wilbur said, sipping from his glass. He snagged a lemon from the tray, and ran it around the edge of his cup. “You could always ask Toya to join us,” Wilbur smiled.

“Ah, that would be a ‘no’, Ponyboy,” Bertha sniffed. “I need some time away from her. She’s like that joke – ‘what does a lesbian take with her on the second date? a moving van.’ I can’t get rid of her!”

“That’s what cha get for feeding strays. Told you about that. Anyway, I’m not sure Toya likes being around me,” said Wilbur.

“I’m not sure she likes to read,” Bertha responded. “Besides, what about Ellen? She could-”

“Bzzt! Not gonna happen. I got enough problems without having to beat you offa her,” Wilbur cut in.
“Hehe,” Bertha snickered. “You said ‘beat off’.”

“God, you are such a seventh grader,” Wilbur sighed. “MEANWHILE, back at the ranch…”

“Yes, the ranch,” nodded Bertha. “So. We’re re-reading ‘Dune’? Why?”

“Well,” Wilbur began. “I know that it’s one of our favorites, but when was the last time we actually read it? We can liberally pepper our conversations with odd little Dune quotes, but after a while, I forget where certain thoughts came from.”

“Hmm, intriguing,” Bertha said. “Like the Litany Against Fear.”

“Yeah. That’s almost a cliche these days. I’ve seen that on t-shirts, for crying out loud. Or the Mentat credo, or motto, or whatever it is. People change it around so that it’s about coffee beans-”

“-You did that,” Bertha interrupted

“-Aaand my point is still valid. People who never even read the book would probably see that and say, ‘oh yeah, that’s from that Dungeons and Dragons thing they based Star Wars on’.”

Bertha chuckled. “Well, what about the bit about the mystery of life being a reality to experience, and not a problem to solve? That’s always been one of my favorite lines from Dune. It’s kinda been my little mantra sometimes.”

“Yeah, like that. Things that we’ve read before that are just ingrained into us, but where did it come from, and what are they really about? Didja know that right after the reverend Mother gave Paul the Gom Jabbar test, she said a bit about humans spend most of their lives being lonely? I had forgotten all about that part.”

“Right,” Bertha nodded. “She said it should be part of the test. I think I latched onto that back when I was in high school. Back then, it was like, I dunno, a shield or something. You feel lonely, you look at other people and they seem like they’re just fine. I could comfort myself with the knowledge that I was a human, and everybody else not so much.”

“And as you get older, you see that almost everybody you know is lonely,” Wilbur added. “We missed the point that the Bene Gesserit was really kinda a bunch of elitist dicks. Metaphorically speaking, of course.”

“Of course.” Bertha poured a cuppa and stirred in a spoonful of sugar. “So, what are you gonna do with this new-found insight? Write it in your blog?”

“Nah,” said Wilbur as he downed the last of his espresso. “Who’s gonna want to read about that?”

…And scene.

words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

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