Short stories

The Case of the Missing Father

 My mother thought she was Léontine Lippmann, said Henry.

Who, asked Peter.

 If you were lucky to have been invited to one of her, I’ve forgotten the word, you could have found yourself conversing with the Prince and Princess Bibesco; the Baron and Baroness Rothschild; Marcel Schwob and Marcel Proust, said Judy. Bores and windbags were never invited again. A single word could get you banned. Even a huff at a malapropos moment could have you ostracized.

 Right, said Peter, still perplexed.

 Of course, said Henry, one of her man friends met me at the front door.

 Man friends, said Mary.

 My mother had many man friends, said Henry, aided with a wink.

 Lady MauxSmith’s salons always ended in an orgy, said Judy.  William Hogarth never attended one of her salons but he did hear about an incident. Many years later he incorporated the incident into one of his series of moral works. After a very successful salon, that’s the word, Lady MauxSmith decided she would entertain her guests with a little something different. All flames were extinguished except one.

 They were all there 1: Timothy Smith 2: Oliver Woodcock 3: Tom Yews 4: Yann Goldberg 5: Edward Block 6: Bill O’Keefe 7: Simon Monteau 8: Mark Peters.

 My money is on Edward Block, said Tom.

 I think Oliver Woodcock, said Jack.

 Johanna Schopenhauer was the real star of the family, said Judy. Her reputation as a salonnière was wide spread. Arthur Schopenhauer’s hatred for his mother was only matched by his hatred of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.  Some of said the hatred could be the result of Georg being too much of a father figure. I won’t shut up. Fill me up. My Henry. I love my Henry.

Meanwhile, Robert helped himself to more fish and gestured to Jack but Jack pointed to the vegetables.

Meanwhile, Mary passed over the bowl of rice believing Jack had pointed to the rice.

Meanwhile, Jack thanked Mary with a nod of the head and a smile.

Meanwhile, the hot fish air breathed on the walls and stirred the blinds.

All had played a part in my life, said Henry. All had shaped me.

Meanwhile, Judy drank more white and touched Henry, on the legs the arms, around the neck.

 I went upstairs, leaving my mother’s man friends to their discussion on One Thousand and One Nights: Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves: The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor: the Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang by Tuan Ch’engShih: Les 120 journées de Sodome.

 So much aggression, said Viv.

Meanwhile, Peter answered Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714 (1878).

 I crept into the bedroom and saw my mother in her bed. She already looked dead. There was a chair next to the bed. By my shoes were a stack of books. Somebody had been reading to her. Her hand moved. It was a frail, skeletal hand. At first I recoiled. But it was my mother. I allowed the hand to touch my hand. It was cold. I became aware of the deep, ponderous breathing. Each breath I was convinced would be the last. The face had almost collapsed. She opened her eyes, an onerous task. Her eyes were pellucid green. She was not the woman I remembered. Mother, it’s me, I said. She closed her eyes.  I remained, in silence, holding her hand. Each exhalation brought her closer to the final exhalation.  Mother, I said, you have to tell me about my father. You have to. You have to. You have to. A son must know his father.  

 You do hate women, said Viv.

 Let him finish. said Judy. My Henry as to finish. Leave my Henry alone you. You. You. You bitc  Judy belched.

 But, said Viv.

 VIV, said Judy.

 This is wonderful fish, said Tom, holding up a fork full of fish and he shovelled the fish into his mouth,

 She spoke, softly. I had to lean over her and press my ear to her lips. The lips were cold and they quivered.

 I bet the room smelt of Chrysanthemums, said Tom.

 Timothy constructed a musical instrument using his home. It was a two up two down. He was able to play the musical instrument from his favorite chair in the front room using ropes, strings. He tied the ropes and strings to his fingers and toes and movement produced music. His wife poisoned him.

Oliver constructed shoes so he could walk on the Sun. He worked on the shoes for thirtythree years. He was knocked down by a bus.

Mark endeavored to teach his dairy cows to end moo with an n and say moon. After twentyfive years and having no alternative, he was found with his head lodged up a cow’s rectum.

She laughed. I could feel the tepid air careening through the creases of my earlobe.

Yann grew apples using phrenology. He created an apple as idiosyncratic as any criminal’s head. His apples were not smooth like other apples, but full of protrusions that gave the apple a character all to itself. He choked to death on one of his own apples.

Edward wrote a book about all the famous cities and people in Europe and appeared on the television. He moved to Paris with the royalties and whenever he walked down the street the French girls and boys screamed out Edward’s name. Sick and tired of fame, Edward locked himself in a hotel room and drank himself to death with absinthe.

William followed in the footsteps of Francisco Orellana and Gonzalo Pizarro and went in search for El Dorado. He journeyed deep into the jungle and navigated the Amazon River. He fought panthers, snakes and spiders. The Tupinambá tribe found him on precipice of death. They took him back to the village and helped him to recuperate. William made love to all the women of the Tupinambá tribe while the men were away from the village hunting the panthers, snakes and spiders. The men of the Tupinambá tribe caught William in the act. They cut him up into little pieces and so as with Francisco Orellana and Gonzalo Pizarro William never found El Dorado.

Simon squared the circle. He simply placed his coffee cup on the coffee table. Picture Anaxagoras, Hippocrates of Chios, Archimedes, and Antiphon the Sophist crazy with jealousy. It would have had Aristophanes laughing. Simon went insane and was locked away. He died a silly old man.

 Hum, repeated Tom.

Larry Caomhánach

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