“Well, if we’re going to get up, we’d better get on with it.” They were both lying on their backs, eyes wide open with post-dream drones, dogtired breath pooling in the air above. They hauled themselves up and away from the mattress, leaving the unmade bed strangled with sheets and clothes like the abandoned last act of a transvestite drama.
Chariot dressed whilst watching herself in the mirror, shaping her black formless clothes around her like an existential princess. In the holes in her ears she placed earrings which did not know what they were doing there, they had once been pearls and now they were hanging from a human ear like some kind of sick seaside joke. Mungle did not dress at all, he just stood up to his height’s full height of six feet, stretched and then patted down the fur which covered his very human body until he was presentable.
They breakfasted on brioche laid out across a mammoth table. The breakfast table was a relic of a time when everything was larger and more impressive and it had sat in a house where not just breakfast but also lunch and dinner were treated with the same gargantuan importance. Chariot and Mungle could only afford to keep such a table for breakfast. They wolfed down the brioche gladly and when they were done it was ten o’clock. “Well,” said Chariot finally, “if we’re going to get on, we’d better get on with it.” Mungle nodded.
In another room of the house there was nothing but red balloons, all butting the ceiling like seaweed at the sea’s surface. As Chariot and Mungle left the house one red balloon lost its battle with gravity and dropped slowly and sadly to the ground where it rolled aimlessly like bop pity.
The old man was about as covered in bourbon biscuits as it was possible to be. Chariot carefully picked them off as though she were a child searching through earthquake rubble and shouting, “Father! Father!” Hoping that when she found him he would still be breathing and then rejoicing when she finally uncovered his nose. Mungle watched from the corner of the room and once the old man’s face was mostly clear of biscuits he exited to the kitchen.
There he began to brew coffee, black and deep like the tallest tree in the forest. He liked to think about, and decide upon, the direction in which the coffee was moving as it made itself from the automatic ingredients of freeze-dried instant coffee and boiled-up water, and a smile played around his lips as he lost himself in the act. The coffee moved forward in time five minutes and Mungle separated out these five minutes like days of the week. It started off on Monday and by Friday the week in miniature was over and the coffee was ready. He let his nose enjoy it, then his mouth and then his stomach. By the time he returned to the living room the old man was almost entirely free of bourbon biscuits.
“The nurse won’t be happy if she finds you like that,” Chariot was saying. “You could be dead.” The old man scowled at his daughter, picked up a burial bourbon and ate it. “I was young once and knew everything there was to know,” he told her. He had just woken from the dreams he ran under his rubble of bourbon biscuits and his brain was full and shaped by their drones.
“Come on, we’re taking you out.”
Mungle drove the car, his fuzzy hands wrapped around the steering wheel, with Chariot in the passenger seat and the old man in the back. They listened to the news on the radio, spelling itself out like the trouble it was. The format of the news was: “here is the problems we are facing today and here are some possible solutions…” Something in the news reader’s voice suggested that even if these problems were solved there would be a whole new set of problems tomorrow which required solving. And so on.
Soon the old man cut across the sound of the news with a monologue of his own, an insistent thing building and falling and building and falling again and again until Mungle and Chariot had no choice but to take note.
“We should stop off at Zynbrynth’s whilst we’re going past…” it began, and then, “… it’s been there a long time and every week I buy my bourbons there, you young people probably don’t realise but it is a very important place… it’s good to support the old shops, less and less people bother but old Zynbrynth keeps on going… he stocks the new biscuits as well but I prefer the old ones, I think that Zynbrynth probably understands them better than any other shopkeeper nowadays… you know, he even stayed open during the ban, hid his biscuits under the counter, kept us all going…” On and on and on until they reached Zynbrynths and Mungle pulled up outside and did not say a word.
The old man slowly opened the car door and got out like a glacier and made his way across the pavement towards the shop. He seemed to build his life in such ways – biscuit glaciers, biscuit mountains and earthquakes – a whole biscuit geography carefully evolved over his many years.
A bell rang as he opened the door to Zynbrynths.
In the passenger seat Chariot opened her biography of Roy Orbison.
Soon Chariot was well away, reading deeply, breathing deeply in the life and times of Roy Orbison. Her eyes sought the gap between the lines on the page and she found herself travelling off to another black car in which she sat next to Roy Orbison. She touched Roy’s thigh. “Well, if we’re going to get on, we’d better get on with it,” she said again, this time to Roy Orbison. The car they were in was baritone black. “Anything you want,” was the reply from Roy Orbison, “you got it, baaaaaaabbbbbyyyyy”
Mungle knew that he should be worried about his wife’s fascination and infatuation with dead pop stars but it was too much trouble to deal with before he could have some coffee.
Leaving Chariot to Roy Orbison and the old man to Zynbrynth’s, Mungle set off down the high street in search of coffee. A whole heap of modern distractions, none of which were immediately coffee, filled his senses and he decided to keep trudging on until he could right this wrong.
Coffee, he thought. Our savage little utopias and our bop pity. Coffee, he thought.