The Moustachioed Gent: Sponge Industry

The dayboat surged along the river, ripping through the water and the winter fish like a zipper making its way up a long coat.  There were a lot of fish in the river, and the water seemed to offer thick resistance to the dayboat.  A Moustachioed Gentleman stood at the back of the boat and tried to remember a statistic he had read – it concerned the percentage of which the river consisted of fish and the percentage of which it was water.  It was something along the lines of – 34% fish, 65% water, 1% miscellaneous.  The Moustachioed Gent did not know much about rivers but he assumned that 34% was a lot of fish.

“You know, you should never fall in love with a sailor,” the tall, dark, handsome woman advised him from behind a sombre-looking veil.  She had sidled up to the Moustachioed Gent as he stood at the back of the dayboat and watched the river, and now she was so close that he could taste every cent of her hundred dollar cigarette.  “I did once,” she continued, staring at the water.

The Moustachioed Gent was unsure of what to say to that and so merely noted: “I think I read somewhere that the river here is actually around 33% – no, 34% fish.”  Silence.  “Well, something like that anyway.”

The pair stood in silence again.  “Yes, never fall in love with a sailor, that’s what I say…”

The Moustachioed Gent excused himself and headed inside.  There were not many people on the dayboat, it being a gently cold winter’s day and mostly the cabin was alive with the shouts and movements of the dayboat crew as they made sure that everything was shipshape and going in the right direction.  They also made each other cups of tea and coffee from a comically small kettle.

The dayboat crew, it should be explained, were an offshoot from a biker gang which had started out some decades earlier.  They started out as a biker gang but had since diversified into van hire and dry cleaning and dayboatery.  The crew of the dayboat had probably never ridden bikes before in their lives but nonetheless they chugged up and down the river every day under the banner of the biker gang.  The Moustachioed Gent wondered whether if they ever left the boat or just lived their, going back and forth, back and forth forever.

The Moustachioed Gent himself was no part of the biker gang, though this may have been different had the biker gang ever diversified from biking, van hire, dry cleaning and dayboatery and included pest control on the list of services they could provide.  The Moustachioed Gent thought how this could have been of benefit to him, could have given him some authority because, it should be explained, he was a very young Moustachioed Gent and this lead to a number of his clients disbelieving that he could be proficient at pest control.  They always seemed to expect someone older, as if the young pest controller would fall for the first trick the pests tried.  Yes, inclusion in the biker gang would have assuaged the doubts of his clients.

Still, the Moustachioed Gent was confident in his ability and knew that he had all the necessary tools of the trade in his satchel.  He sorted through them now – torches, traps, bait, even a catalogue of equipment just in case he required anything further.  He would see.

Just then a shout went up from one of the dayboat crew and the Moustachioed Gent made his way to the front of the boat to see their destination hove into view.  The great factory surged up towards the sky, all fake-stone steel walls and plumes of pink smoke billowing up into the clouds.  A fine building.

“Sponge Industry,” noted the Moustachioed Gent to no one in particular.

It was not much longer until the boat reached the factory and the Moustachioed Gent and a few other passengers disembarked.  He noted that the widowy figure with the hundred dollar cigarettes did not leave the boat and he watched as the boat turned and then headed back down the river, through the thick and fishy water, the widow’s cigarette smoke and thousand yard stare heading back from whence it came.

He shuddered.

It was a short walk from the disembarkment point to the Sponge Industry factory and whilst the Moustachioed Gent trudged uphill, bearing the weight of his pesty satchel, he thought about cakes and about Sponge Industry’s gift to the world.  For who had not eaten a Sponge Industry sponge cake at least once in their lives?  Of course they had, everyone had.  They were available in every shop on every street in every city in everywhere.  They were the people who made the cake and the citizens of these cities would be lost without them.  It was as though the Sponge Industry had made a promise – a commitment – to supply cakes now and then and forevermore indefinitely.  And this is what troubled the Moustachioed Gent.

At the gate to the factory the Moustachioed Gent was met by a tall and worried-looking man who shook him by the hand, invited him in, eyed him warily – as if, thought the Moustachioed Gent, he was unsure of why such a young pest control man had been sent – and offered him some cake.  The cake was a classic Sponge Industry cake, one of their best sellers – the sponge cake.  The Moustachioed Gent ate it up quickly whilst he listened to the man.

“And there is definitely something, we can hear it, getting in under the butter ducts.  We have no footprints or anything but we can hear them.  In the sugar vats there have been problems for many years but we thought we had seen off the last of those pesty pesks – they seem to be back, unfortunately and…  Are you sure you are old enough to be pest control?”

The Moustachioed Gent sighed and assured him that he was plenty old enough.  He was sharp, he was on-the-spot, he knew every trick in the book and if he saw a new one he wrote it down in his trick book and it never caught him out again, yes sir he was old enough and clever enough.  Don’t you worry.  He was the man for the job.

The worried-looking man nodded to show that he accepted this statement, though he kept his eyes narrowed as if holding back some of his reservations for later.  It would all depend on whether the Moustachioed Gent did a good job or not.  “Come on, I’ll show you where the problem is,” and the worried-looking man led him through the factory, past the sugar vats and the flour halls.  As they passed these areas the Moustachioed Gent thought about the possibilities for problems as regards wasps and weevils and was already thinking about what kind of pest might be tempted to cause trouble in butter.

The butter ducts ran in helter skelter spirals around a circular room, starting at the top and making their way down to the bottom of the room where the butter was pumped into the mixing station.  The Moustachioed Gent scurried around the room like an inquisitive mouse, examining the duct with his eyes and his fingers, shining his torch and looking through his magnifying glass.  He did not know exactly what he was looking for, but looking for it seemed like a good way to start.  Once he saw it, he would know what it was.

But he could not see anything – no cracks or nibbles in the pipework, no footprints or messes, none of the usual tell-tale signs.  Usually there would be something to show who or what had managed to get in, something not too obvious – not so obvious that a civilian would notice – but something there all the same.  Perhaps were he an older and more experienced pest control officer he would be able to find something…  He pushed the thought from his mind.  In the butter duct – maybe he needed to look inside the butter duct?

He peered into it.

“Be careful not to dribble into it, we don’t want anything contaminating the butter,” the worried-looking man worried.  The Moustachioed Gent knitted his lips together and continued to monitor the yellow substance.  He was careful to step back before asking, “Do you put anything else in here?”  At this point the worried-looking man began to look affronted, becoming the affronted-looking man.  “What are you suggesting?”  “Nothing,” replied the Moustachioed Gent.

But then he saw it – some movement in the duct, thick yellow ripples breaking out across the surface of the butter.  He shone his torch in it’s direction and exclaimed, forgetting all about the non-dribbling rule and causing a spray of saliva to splash into the butter.  “There it is!”  And now he began to chase it around the room, following the butter-drenched pest as it made its helter-skelter way around the room, the worried/affronted man chasing him round and round in worried/affronted circles.

At the point where the butter left the room the Moustachioed Gent, realising that this was his last chance, stuck his hand deep into the butter duct – much to the disgust of the worried/affronted/disgusted man – and fished out the pest with one quick movement of his highly-trained pest control arm.

The pest turned out to be a fish.  A fish with scales and fins that flapped and squirmed and struggled in his grasp.  A fish.  Which raised all kinds of questions.

“How would a fish get in there?” asked the Moustachioed Gent.  “You’re asking me?” squealed the man, still fussing over the butter into which the Moustachioed Gent had plunged his arm.  “We’ll have to suspend production immediately – fish and arms in the butter!”  But now it was the turn of the Moustachioed Gent to be affronted and he countered with, “What else goes in the butter?  Answer me that – what else goes in the butter?”  At which point the worried/affronted/disgusted-looking man put up a defensive silence and simply walked off into the mixing station to bring production to a halt.

But the Moustachioed Gent was already formulating a hypothesis, detecting a new trick which he would have to write down in his trick book.  Fish in the butter + Fish in the river = River water in the butter?  For a moment he dared to think the unthinkable:  Sponge Industry were watering down the butter they put in their cakes.

He shuddered.

His mind tried to hold that thought for a moment and then it cracked and a tide of disbelief broke through and he could feel himself losing everything he had previously believed in.  Sponge Industry and all the values with which he associated them – integrity, responsibility, tastiness – had been a part of his life for as long as he could remember.

The Moustachioed Gent followed the man into the mixing station, the fish still flapping about in his hands.  The man that he found was now worried, affronted, disgusted, furious and accompanied by a group of hefty henchman in corporate-branded Sponge Industry suits.  “Oh,” said the Moustachioed Gent.  It did not look good for him.

=+=+=+=+=

Back on the dayboat, the Moustachioed Gent watched the thick, fishy water as the factory of Sponge Industry disappeared from view.  He cursed the fish but also sympathised with them – it was not their fault.  They had only been unwitting partners in his downfall.

So there he was, standing on the back of the dayboat, smoking a cigarette and thinking about fish and mice and Sponge Industry values.  One of his own values was persistence.  Many were the times on which he had lain in wait outside a mousehole, a piece of cheese in one hand and a hammer in the other.  Perhaps what Sponge Industry had been looking for was a more discreet service, a pest control man who would fish out their problems and not ask any questions.  Maybe they were not looking for someone who would pursue the truth so persistently.  Maybe he did still have a lot to learn.

He thought about how he would write it down in his trick book when he got home, but soon realised that there would probably be no need for it any more – there was little hope that his career could survive the blow to his reputation that Sponge Industry would surely strike.

Perhaps if he had been a part of the biker gang’s van hire/ dry cleaning/ dayboatery empire, things could have been different.  Someone from the empire could have explained to Sponge Industry that he was a young and talented pest controller – and very persistent – albeit it a little indiscreet.  They could have saved his reputation and then explained to him that all he had to do was catch the vermin, that he did not have to ask such pertinent questions.

That was the way things could have gone, but this was the way things did go: the Moustachioed Gent had been escorted from the premises and marched back to the dayboat.  His life fell a different way, and there was no going back.

“You know, they put water in their cakes… and… and the fish get in and so you’re really eating fish,” he said to no one in particular, announcing to the dayboat at large a change of career.

“Yes,” said a tall, dark, handsome woman from behind a sombre-looking veil.  “And you should never fall in love with a sailor.”

The dayboat surged back down the river, ripping through the water and the winter fish like a zipper making its way up a long coat.  And all along the way the two uttered their truths to each other.  They continued as the boat set off on another length, and they continued as it journeyed back and they continued the next day, and they continued on forever.

… and here is the final moustache, up close and creepy (and a little delayed since we are now well into December).  Thanks to everyone who sponsored me for Movember – and if anyone out there is reading this who hasn’t done so, and would like to do so, please do do so.  Thanks.

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The Moustachioed Gent And The Tale Of The Explorer’s Tale

Once he had finished waxing his moustache into the crescent shape of a waning moon, The Moustachioed Gentleman put on his top hat, checked his suit for lint and then went to see how the animals were settled.

The owl was perched on light fittings high in the ceiling, looking down through eight mezzanine storeys to the living room where the orang-utan sat in an arm chair, half-covered in sacking and watching the beginning of the evening film with eyes wide with widescreen interest. It was eating roasted peanuts out of a bowl using a teaspoon as it had seen some human do, once upon a television program.

The Moustachioed Gent pulled on his coat, opened the door and stood on the front step, looking out into the snow. “Well, I’ll see you later,” he told the animals. “I’ll be very interested to see what he says… It should be very interesting.” He was not sure if the animals every really listened to him but he carried on talking anyway. “I expect that the Philanphropist will be there and the Gamekeeper and the Lumberjack and more gentlemen as well.”

He gave the ends of his moustache one last careful tease. “Yes, I shall be very interested to hear what the Explorer has to say.”

He left the house and scurried through the froze-cold cobble streets, avoiding the dollops of snow pitched around the sides of the road. The evening sky was starless under the heavy cloud which covered the town like benevolent alien ships above the earth.

A few streets away from the Explorer’s house, the Moustachioed Gent met the Lumberjack lurching woodenly along in the same direction. The two men exchanged pleasantries and with silent hirsute manners the Gent’s moustache cautiously greeted the Lumberjack’s beard. It was a bearded copse which cut across the whole of his face and was forged out of necessity in the long, cold days of forestry management. In contrast the Gent’s moustache was a finely drawn thing raised on the comfort of fireside chaise-longues and lunchtime brandy, so when it greeted the Lumberjack’s beard it was with the wary regard of a Jack Russell encountering an Alsatian in the street.

The Moustachioed Gent and the Lumberjack chatted as they walked together saying things like, “I really am very interested to see what the Explorer has to tell us this time,” and, “Yes, he’s been gone a long time in adventure and dangerous travel,” and also, “But I do not think that he will be without appetite, I hear that he is serving roast lamb and a dangerous number of parsnips.”

When the two men reached the Explorer’s house he welcomed them with words like, “Welcome, welcome, please do come in,” and, “let me take your coats,” and also, “your beard always looks magnificent at this time of year.” The Explorer himself was clean-shaven as he became so often upon returning from an adventure. It had something to do with the process of acclimatising back into the way of the city and shedding the past, at least that was it as far as the Moustachioed Gent understood it.

The Explorer’s house was surprisingly conventional. The hallway was not a maze of labyrinthine corridors and the doors to other rooms were not secretly obscured in the walls, nor did they require the completion of a puzzle in order to enter. The three men progressed through the welcoming hall and into the sitting room where another four men were already seated. Beyond the sitting room was the dining room with its olfactory promise of roast lamb and parsnips. But that was for later.

The four men who had arrived early were: the Philanthropist and the Gamekeeper (as predicted by The Moustachioed Gent), as well as the Wax Man (in the business of candles) and the Fax Mechanic (in the business of faxes). They became seven men with the addition of the Moustachioed Gent, the Lumberjack and, of course, their host the Explorer. Seven smart men in modern suits with the promise of roast lamb and parsnips to come. They sat together and took an aperitif and said things like, “how are you keeping?” and, “of course, this weather is no good for the wood,” and, “so when I woke up it had melted all over my arm.” Next they said things along the lines of, “that’s the place that does the boullabaise isn’t it?” and, “I’ll tell you more about the mountains later,” and also, “well, if it is broken I could do you a very good deal on a new machine, faxes are very important nowadays.” And they said some more things besides.

Then the Explorer stood up amongst them and cleared his throat and announced to the gentlemen that they should all pick up their glasses and make their way through to the dining room, in which would stand a large oak table and seven fine chairs. They were to be seated and soon there would be roast beef and a lot of parsnips and tales of adventure and derring-do.

As the gentlemen moved through to the dining room, they said things like, “oh no, after you,” and, “did he say roast lamb or roast beef?” and, “anyway, I’ll finish telling you about that later.” They took their seats, with the Explorer at the head of the table and the other gentlemen set out with three of them down each side. The Explorer’s staff soon arrived with roast beef and a towering pile of parsnips for everybody. They busied around the gentlemen, making sure that they all had sufficient in the way of food and that they were all ok for drinks. The gentlemen ate and drank and there was some small conversation whilst they did, but not enough for it to be worth reporting.

When they had mostly finished, the Explorer spread a map across the table and began the tale of his latest adventure. He said things like, “I was absolutely tired by the time I got to the top of that hill,” and, “then I had to abseil down the ravine using a spare pair of trousers,” and, “I looked at the jellyfish, the jellyfish looked at me.” Some of the gentlemen still had some scattered remains of their dinner on their plates and they picked with their fingers as they listened.

The Moustachioed Gent sat back in his chair, full of beef, parsnips and a feeling of disappointment that the roast had not turned out to be lamb. It was not that he did not like beef, on the contrary he was very fond of it. But he had been looking forward to eating lamb – which he considered to be an under-appreciated meat and one which was not served enough at gatherings such as this. He had found it very interesting when he heard that the Explorer was going to be serving lamb because he knew that there were often people who disliked it and he wondered what had happened to inspire this brave decision by his friend. In the end it turned out that he had been misinformed, and the roast had been beef and had been served with a sauce marked ‘disappointment’ when it should have been ‘mint.’

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Moustachioed Gent’s skull, away from his roast lamb fantasising, the Explorer had begun to tell the group of diners further tales, saying things like, “but that was when I came across a most strange group of people,” and, “out there in the wilderness they had made their own rules,” and, “it seemed that they had taken a strong dislike to the humble moustache.”

He carried on: “The first I knew of them was when I heard the sound of snapping twigs from somewhere beyond the fronds. I turned and – in hindsight – left myself at the perfect angle for the shot. For before I knew it a bullet was passing under my nose and – whoosh – it had taken my moustache with it. The rest of my face remained completely unscathed, they had barely touched a hair on my head, but my moustache was gone. Utterly gone. A remarkable piece of marksmanship.”

The Explorer went on to explain that he had accidentally wandered into the territory of a tribe of people who strongly disliked moustaches and had begun a campaign to rid the whole world of them. They had perfected the art of shooting a moustache right off somebody’s face, for they had no intention of killing – and thus martyring – the moustachioed in the act of removing the moustache. They had also managed to train some of the more intelligent members of the animal kingdom in the art of creeping into the bedrooms of Moustachioed Gentlemen and shaving their moustaches without waking them.

All of this would have been of great interest to the Moustachioed Gent had he not still been brooding on the whole lamb/ beef palaver. Was it a palaver or a rigmarole? He preferred palavers but knowing the Explorer he would probably promise to serve up a palaver and then change it to a rigmarole at the last minute. Perhaps , he thought, he should mention the whole lamb situation to their generous host. Hey Explorer, I thought you were serving lamb tonight? Where’s the lamb? Where is it? Best not – the Explorer was talking about something else. What was it he was talking about?

The Explorer had by now concluded the tale of his adventures and invited his guests to ask any questions they might have about his tale. They took him up on this offer and were now asking him things like, “What kind of wood were the trees made of out there?” and, “Was it a very deep ravine?” and, “What is your favourite colour?” The Explorer sat through the barrage of questions patiently, giving concise yet satisfying answers to all.

Once this stage of the gathering was over, it became clear that this was around the time that everyone should really be making their way home to their warmed beds, and they began to say things like, “well, thank you very much for a lovely dinner and most interesting talk,” and, “well, I don’t think I’ll be able to eat tomorrow – those parsnips were lovely,” and, “well, I’m glad you enjoyed your travels but stick around here for a while won’t you Explorer?” And soon the Explorer was showing them out of his house and onto the cold cobbled streets of the wintry night, telling them things like, “I’ll be in touch about the fax machine,” and, “tell your housekeeper I say hello, won’t you?” and, “you’ll be careful around any intelligent animals won’t you Moustachioed Gent?”

The Moustachioed Gent, glad to be heading back home to a house where he could choose which meat he ate and when, assumed that the Explorer’s final comment to him referred to a joke he had missed at some point in the evening so gave a little laugh and a wave and headed off into the night. From behind him he could hear the sound of the wooden lurching step of the Lumberjack and exclamations like, “wait up!” and, “hang about, lets walk a way together,” and so the Moustachioed Gent slowed his pace a little and let his friend catch up with him.

As they walked they said things to each other like, “what a disappointment, I thought you said there was going to be roast lamb?” and, “what interesting stories though – you will be careful with your moustache won’t you?” and, “yes, my moustache is very important to me – I have three showings tomorrow alone.”

They watched a drunk stumble backwards and land sprawled in a dollop of snow by the side of the road. The Moustachioed Gent began to laugh, but the Lumberjack had noticed what the drunk had been looking at and pointed up into the night sky where the cloud had cleared a little and there were now stars visible in the sky again.

The Moustachioed Gent, previously eager to hurry home to his abode, found himself pleased to have found this distraction. He had suddenly been gripped by an eerie feeling that some great disaster was soon to befall him. One – the owl and the orang-utan had been behaving very oddly recently. Two – the whole palaver with the beef and the lamb had affected him more than he should have allowed. Three – the Lumberjack’s concern for his moustache had chilled him. Had he missed something?

He stared up at the stars in the sky and the stars stared back at him. And then the Moustachioed Gent turned his gaze back to the earth and rubbed his hands together. It was cold and it was late and the street lamps were beginning to go off. It was time to go home.

He and the Lumberjack continued on their way through the frozen streets whilst the narrator scrambled desperately for more distractions to stand between the Moustachioed Gent and his inevitable demise.

Thanks to everyone who has sponsored me for Movember so far.  If anyone else would like to, please visit my Mo Space Page.  I will hopefully be putting up another Moustachioed Gent story before the end of the month, if that is any incentive.  Or you could sponsor me not to if you would rather.  Thanks either way!

The Moustachioed Gent On The (Moustache) Ride Of His Life

Down one long and blameless silvery corridor after another, a Moustachioed Gentleman ran, his feet pounding the floor, the men on his heels the whole time. They were shouting but he wasn’t listening. This was a different part of the complex, a part that the Moustachioed Gent did not recognise. He took a left and then a right and found himself in another corridor, one that ended with a locked door.

He cursed under his breath. The two men had slowed to a walk and were stepping menacingly towards him.

“Ooh, we’ve got you now,” said one, teasing.

The Moustachioed Gent knew that there was only one way out of this. He reached into his trouser pocket and gripped the razor with his right hand. This movement did not go unnoticed by the two men and their movements became more urgent as they stepped towards him.

“Why, you-“ began the first man. “Get him!” shouted the second.

The two men flung themselves in the direction of the Moustachioed Gent’s right hand as he brought it up to his face but it was too late. The tail ends of their leaps turned to slow motion dives and they found themselves grasping at thin air as so much of the Moustachioed Gent’s moustache hit the ground beside them.

For the Moustachioed Gent the world began to spin anti-clockwise as thirty of his years fell away with his discarded moustache, spinning and shrinking until he finally stopped somewhere around age eight, tangled in sellotape but safe.

The birthday present sat on the table, a mess of half-paper wrapping and discarded bits of tape. The eight year-old Moustachioed Gent stood over it, his moustache little more than a fuzzy ghost slug above his boyish mouth. His hands were unfathomably stuck together in the messy tangle of tape that young children have a habit of becoming. He sighed and lamented the fact that he always ended up stuck back in the same moment of the past.

“Why do I always end up here?” he asked no one in particular.

And when his Mum shouted through from the next room to check he was ok, he just padded through to see her and got on with the job of being eight years old and having his hands clumsily stuck together with tape.

“How did you get like that?” she asked, quiet and forlorn.

“It just happened,” he said, eight years old but weighed down with the hirsute wisdom of his future self and somewhat embarrassed by this tapey tangle.

She unstuck him tenderly and then they got on with things as they had done before and before and even before that.

The years passed by and the Moustachioed Gent grew taller and older and his moustache grew too, thriving in a linear manner, always progressing forward with time. Thicker, bigger, bushier, lushier. As a teenager it grew in length until it comprehensively covered his top lip, developed a more muscular thickness in his youth and as he became a man it added depth and a vibrant personality all of its own.

It was a slow, pedestrian kind of time travel but the Moustachioed Gent rarely manipulated the hirsute time line. On the occasion of his first kiss for example, he rode back in his moustache time and again to enjoy it over and over. He and his girl would kiss. He would pluck a single tiny hair from his moustache. Time would reverse. They would kiss. He would pluck the hair again. Time would obediently reverse. He just wanted to feel the same thing again.

For most of the time he allowed time to run parallel to his own life. It was best that way.

The Moustachioed Gent had spent his teenage years aspiring to be an astronaut, to travel in space rather than time, but then in his youth he reconsidered and decided to train as a chef. After a short period of professional turmoil he did indeed become a chef and secured a position in a kitchen which employed a total of 20,000 chefs, which at the time was approximately 1.546% of the population. In this kitchen, being a chef did not involve wearing an apron and a big white hat, turning tomatoes under a grill and shouting at waiters. Instead it was a job which involved spending a lot of time sat at a desk and working the food from there.

A typical day for the Moustachioed Gent went something like this: walk to work, swipe his ‘carrot’ card at the entrance to the complex and make his way down a series of long and blameless silvery corridors until he reached the kitchen which he shared with 156 other chefs, sit down at his desk, take out his chopping board, turn on the oven underneath his desk, take the food – usually vegetables but also sometimes pork or fish or beef but never chicken – out of the fridge on the other side of his desk and peel and chop and prepare the food in whichever other way may be called for, perhaps use his desktop hob or cross the office to use the communal pasta machine or the blender.

What happened to the food once he had finished the cooking was a bit of a mystery to the Moustachioed Gent, despite the fact that he had been taken on a tour of the whole complex – as all the chefs were – as part of his induction. The process involved magnets and steam and fax but beyond that he was not sure how it worked. Somehow the food was taken and made into the final product which was a series of little round white pills – each one blameless and anonymous. They would be packaged in little silver foil packets – rectangular futurestuffs that would then be sent to the supermarkets.

The general population would then buy the packets of pills and be able to get all the nutrition from the tasty meals cooked by the Moustachioed Gent and the other chefs without any hassle of cooking or chewing or even loading their fork. They would also get all the enjoyment of the fine ingredients sent straight to the necessary section of their brain, without bothering their taste buds about anything. There used to be another way of doing things but this was better, more efficient.

At the end of the day the Moustachioed Gent would switch off his oven, clean his utensils and make sure that his work station was ready to be used the following day. All the chefs were given a packet of pills on their way out, that night’s supper. And so life continued.

Maybe the Moustachioed Gent was just different or maybe it was an effect of the accumulated wisdom of having lived several times more life than most by way of his back-and-forth moustache time travel. But it seemed to him that there could be even more joy to be had from eating the food directly as it came and not in the new and efficient pill-packet form.

And so he began to experiment in secret, hiding small portions of his meals under his desk for consumption later on. Into his shirt pockets he tucked tiny squares of lasagne and he filled the hood of his coat with shepherd’s pie. Back at home he would try and choke down the meals in their pure form.

It was not easy. Having lived on the food pills all the way on his moustache ride through childhood, teenagehood and into adulthood, he found that his mouth was completely unused to crunching, chewing, tasting, swallowing and the effort it took to force down these un-processed meals left him a quivering, sweating, exhausted wreck. How he wished that he could force time forwards, just as he could pull it back.

Slowly, very slowly, he got better and better at it. And, once he had mastered the art of eating properly, he began to savour the taste of his creations and found that the real thing tasted better. A hundred marvellous times better.

And then the question became – how could he convince other people to try? This Moustachioed Gent was no young fool and he was not so naive to believe that if he took this idea to his employers they would cease production of the pills. He would have to strike out on his own. But who, in this day and age, had any kind of kitchen utensils at home? Who, for that matter, was able to purchase raw ingredients? The answer to both of those questions was “nobody.”

So the Moustachioed Gent began to experiment at work. “Bring down the system from within,” he thought, but did not say out loud. Every now and then he would cut his finished bakes into tiny squares and try to tempt some of his colleagues to have a go at eating real food. Those that accepted his challenge, believing it to be some kind of attempt at worktime daredevil japery, struggled. But a handful of colleagues who came back for another try began to admit to him: “You know, this might be better than the pills.” They seemed amused by this, as though the Moustachioed Gent was playing some kind of trick on them. And, of course, at the end of the working day, they headed home to take their food pills.

He had undertaken these experiments discretely, careful to elude the watching eye of the corporation. Still, the fear that they were watching his every move kept sneaking back into his thoughts. Were they on to him?

*****

Of course they were on to him. In the control centre, two men – two men whose interests were not best served by the Moustachioed Gent inventing an alternative to their very profitable food pills – watched his ilicit taste tests on one of the televisions which made up a huge bank of chef-monitoring screens.

He was not the first. There had been other chefs who had tried to bring down the corporation. It was understandable, they spent all day working with real food and occasionally – just ocassionally – there must have been a temptation to try. Understandable, but not acceptable.

And, of course, they had been watching the Moustachioed Gent right from the start. All the other chefs who had tried to eat real food had worn moustaches. It was a strange fact, but there it was – all the chefs who had tried to bring down the corporation from within had worn moustaches. This meant that the job of monitoring the chefs who were likely to cause trouble was very simple – all that the men in the control room had to do was keep a watchful eye on those chefs who sported moustaches. They had considered the idea of refusing to employ any chefs who wore moustaches, but this idea had been rejected on the grounds that it would let the moustachioed chefs in on the fact that they were onto them.

It had become a kind of sport amongst the men in the control room. They watched the Moustachioed Gent as he began his experiments, let him build up some momentum and then – just as he reached the point where he was about to put some bigger plan into action – they moved to quash it.

“Nearly time?” Said one of them as they watched the screen.

“Yup. Nearly time,” the other agreed.

The first man drained the last of his cup of tea in one swift, gravity-defying slurp.

The second made a fist with one hand and punched the palm of the other.

As the men left the control room, the Moustachioed Gent was still packing up his things for the day, surreptitiously slipping some raw ingredients into his pockets and some utensils up his sleeves.

The two men stationed themselves at the door to the complex, ready to catch the Moustachioed Gent when he came to swipe out with his carrot card and make his way home for the evening. Except, he would not be going home that evening. They were going to make sure of that.

As the Moustachioed Gent rounded the corner and headed for the front door to the complex, walking with the strange gait of someone who has food and utensils secreted around their person, the two men spotted him straight away and began to make their way towards him.  He must have noticed something in the menace of their facial expressions because as soon as he saw them he turned and made off in the opposite direction. And then the two men were pleased because it meant that the chase was on – and if there was anything they liked better than drinking hot drinks and watching things on screens, it was chasing.

Down one long and blameless silvery corridor after another, they chased the Moustachioed Gent, their feet pounding out cops-and-robber rhythms.

“Wheee!” shouted one of the men as he skidded to take a corner, enjoying himself a little too much.

They were into the bowels of the complex now, a set of corridors which seemed to go on forever and seemed to lead nowhere in particular, as if they had been created purely for the purpose of chasing itinerant chefs.

The Moustachioed Gent took a left and then a right and found himself in another corridor, one that ended with a locked door.

The two men slowed to a walk. One of them made a fist of one hand and punched the palm of his other hand, his signature move.

“Ooh, we’ve got you now,” he said, teasing.

They watched as the Moustachioed Gent put one hand into his trouser pocket. They knew what that meant.

“Why, you-“ began one of the men.

“Get him!” shouted the second.

The two men flung themselves in the direction of the Moustachioed Gent’s right hand as he brought the razor up to his face, but it was too late. The tail ends of their leaps turned to slow motion dives and they found themselves grasping at thin air as so much of the Moustachioed Gent’s moustache hit the ground beside them.

The Moustachioed Gent had disappeared, whisked off back in time to his childhood.

The two men got up and dusted themselves down. They looked at each other and gradually broke into chuckles. The chuckles became laughs and then graduated to guffaws. Their guffaws were big and hearty bear-bearded hilarity.

Where the Moustachioed Gent had ended up he was no threat to anyone. He was neatly tidied away somewhere else in time, which was a less messy ending than some of the other conclusions the two men had had prepared for him. This was best for everyone. They would just go back to the control room and watch the monitors until the next Moustachioed Gent would attempted to bring down the corporation.

“Come on, lets get back to the control room,” said one.

“It’s your turn to make a hot drink,” said the second.

“Why you-“ joked the second, shaking his fist.

The two broke into another round of guffaws which tumbled around them and bounced down the long and blameless corridors, echoing into the past and present and future.

Throughout the month of November, I am growing a moustache as part of Movember – a charity event supporting prostate cancer and testicular cancer initiatives.  To find out more, look here, and if you would like to sponsor me, please look here.  Thank you.

The Moustachioed Gent And The Mystery Of The Missing Moustache

‘You can go swimming any time you like, any day of the week.’

It was a Wednesday and a Moustachioed Gentleman cycled past a lake-side billboard as he made his way home from his latest television appearance as a presenter on ‘The World’s Least Memorable Telephone Numbers,’ a programme on which members of the public tried to prove that they had telephone numbers that were really difficult to remember.  It had become something of a ratings hit and as the Moustachioed Gent cycled he basked in the sun and his minor fame whilst puffing on a cigarette and pretending to be a steam train.

WHAM!

Some clean-shaven member of the public, as fresh-faced as a boy band member, hurtled into the side of the Moustachioed Gent’s bicycle and sent him sprawling.  The clean-shaven man wrestled him to the ground and began to tug at his moustache, a swollen ginger handlebar with carefully cultivated curls like Norwegian fjords.  The Moustachioed Gent stared up at the man as he tried to protect his moustache,  noting the man’s mad-wide eyes which were encircled with deep-set brown worry circles as though someone had used his face as a coaster for their cup of tea.

Suddenly the clean-shaven man stopped.  “Oh… oh… I’m sorry.”  He let go of the moustache and tried desperately to unruffle the now-ruffled ginger moustache.  “I am so sorry me laddie, please accept my apologies.”  The clean-shaven man got to his feet and walked away, still apologising under his breath.

The Moustachioed Gent lay on the ground for a moment, wondering what had just happened and then a realisation hit him like a man knocking another man of a bicycle.  That was no clean-shaven face!  He thought.  That was no fresh face!  That was a face, if ever he saw one, a face that was crying out for a moustache.  Crying out for one, or mourning the loss of one.

“!”  The Moustachioed Gent leapt up, righted his bicycle, lit up another cigarette to resume his impersonation of a steam train and set off like a locomotive in search of the clean-shaven man.

When he caught up with him, the clean-shaven man was still apologising over and over as he went, breathing sorries into the air in the direction of no one in particular.  When he saw the steam train/Moustachioed Gent approaching him, steam/cigarette smoke clouding above him, he spread his arms and declared:  “Pardon me Monsieur, I am so sorry for my indiscretion.  It shames me to interfere with such a bonny moustache.”

The Moustachioed Gent, a frustrated detective, de-saddled from his bike and let his curious train head lead him into a tunnel.  “Why don’t you tell me all about it,” he said with his best TV smile.

“Well…”  The two men had taken off their shoes and socks and placed their bare feet in the cool water of the lake.  As the clean-shaven man talked, the Moustachioed Gent primped and primed his moustache, restoring it to its pre-trauma state.  “Monsieur, I must apologise again for disturbing your moustache, I know how this is for I too once had a fantastic moustache-“

“Surely not quite as fantastic as my own?”

“Well, that is beside the point.  I had one once, once upon a time… on Monday to be precise.”

The Moustachioed Gent burst:  “You shaved it off!”

“Worse than that, monsieur.  It was stolen.”  The colour drained from the Gent’s moustache until it was a transparent handlebar some way short of its previous beauty.  “Stolen monsieur.  Wrenched from my face by a devil man with strong hands and… half a baker’s dozen other moustaches on his face.”

The Moustachioed Gent gasped.  “A serial offender!”

The man nodded.  “Six and a half moustaches.”

The Moustachioed Gent had nothing to say to this.  The two men sat in a dejected silence, the time coming and going, spidery second hands ticking by and every second another potential moustache crime.

Eventually.  “We have no option.  We must go after this man.  We must find him and bring him to justice.”  The Moustachioed Gent’s face was set to stern and grim determination and his moustache twitching with investigative fervour.  “We must start right away.”

“Monsieur, may I suggest that we begin by searching the lake.  It seems a likely way for him to go.  We could hire a pedalo and make an afternoon of it.”

For a moment the Moustachioed Gent was unsure – there was nothing to suggest that this criminal would be found on the lake.  But then he reasoned that it was a nice day and that a trip on a pedalo would give him the opportunity to impersonate a steamboat, and so he agreed.

On their way to the pedalo shack he stopped at a stall and bought a melon and a black marker pen.  “So that we can build a photofit profile of this rogue,” he told the clean-shaven man.  They paid for three hours pedaloing up-front and set off across the lake.

The lakefish dipped and dived and breaded themselves in the light foam which trailed the pedalo-speed pedalo across the lake.  The clean-shaven man had embellished the melon with seven and a half moustaches so far – some in the traditional upper-lip moustache location, some on the chin, some on the cheeks, some on the forehead – and every now and again he would take the melon and add a few more details as the memory of the attack returned to him.

“That’s a lot of moustaches,” noted the Moustachioed Gent after a time.

“He was one hell of a Moustachioed Gentleman.”

“He is no gentleman.  Please do not ever use that word for- ice-cream!”

The Moustachioed Gent had flung his arm out and was pointing away across the water and when the clean-shaven man followed his pointing finger he saw, bobbing on the lake, a floating ice-cream parlour.  With ice-cream now in their investigative minds, they pedalled faster towards the dinghy and the sound of the solitary waltz playing like a bugle call for ice-cream.

The floating ice-cream parlour was really an old fishing boat with the fish knocked out of it and ice-cream installed in its plaice.  It was run by a moustachio of the Moustachioed Gent’s acquaintance who could usually be found leaning cockily out of the window and supplying ice-cream to dayboaters.

But as the investigative duo charged closer in their pedalo something seemed not quite right.  There was no sign of the moustachio in his usual pose.

The Moustachioed Gent felt the ice-cold hand of ice-cream dread in his stomach and on his moustache.

“We must be careful,” he warned as they got closer.

“But Monsieur, it is only a wee ice-cream boat.”

The Moustachioed Gent did not reply.

When the pedalo reached the boat the Moustachioed Gent stood up, rocking the boat from side to side until he was able to steady himself by putting his hands on the counter of the ice-cream parlour.

The place was a mess – ice-cream splattered everywhere, ice lollies melting slowly, strawberry sauce sprayed up the window.  The Moustachioed Gent ran his finger through the sauce and then licked it.

It was not strawberry sauce.

It was raspberry sauce.

He pulled himself up onto the counter and climbed through the window, ice-cream and sauce muddying his trousers, and then slipped down into the boat.  He landed thumpily on top of the prone body of the moustachio.  There was raspberry sauce everywhere and the moustachio’s moustache was nowhere to be seen.  His face was an awful empty thing.

The Moustachioed Gent could not bear to look.  He climbed back over the counter with quiet movements and keeping his eyes under careful control so as not to accidentally see the moustache-stripped face of his old friend the moustachio.

Back in the pedalo, the clean-shaven man drew another moustache on the melon, by now a strangely crowded marker pen face.

“Onwards,” called the teary Gent and they set off again, sure that they were somehow on the right track but with no idea of where they needed to head next.

“Oh monsieur.  I cannae tell you how sorry I am.  But we will find him, oui.  Oui will find him.”

The Moustachioed Gent was silent again.  There must have been twenty thousand moustaches in the towns and villages around the lake – the thief could be anywhere by now, harvesting more, sating his freakish thirst-

“What’s that?”  The clean-shaven man had spotted something in the water, something small and orange.  They pedalled towards it and found an orange ice lolly.

“Ah!  We cannot be on the wrong track now!”

The Moustachioed Gent fished it out of the lake, disturbing the afternoon snack of a small lakefish who was licking the orange ice enthusiastically.  He peered at the ice lolly through his magnifying glass but could find nothing of note.

Still, a few minutes across the lake they found a lemon lolly, floating innocently.

And after that, a strawberry one.

A whole trail of frozen treats leading across the lake towards the rocky shore.

The Moustachioed Gent was beginning to bristle.  “He may be strong and he may be canny but no one steals moustaches from gentlemen and gets away with it.  Who does he think he is?  Can he not grow his own?  When I get him…”  He was beginning to tear.  “No one gets away with this kind of thing!”  He stood up and raised his fist to the sky.  And then sat back down and continued to pedal.

At last they reached the rocks and found a whole heap of ice lollies bobbing around in the water like hungry fish.  The Moustachioed Gent looked up the cliff and gulped, nervous of the scramble upwards.

“But monsieur, you are looking the wrong way.”

“Pardon?”

“I happen to know that there is a hidden cave, see how there is a wee gap in the rocks down there?  I do not believe that the thief has escaped up that way at all but has instead retreated to the caves.”

“How can you be sure?”

The clean shaven man ran his fingers along his bald upper lip.  “Monsieur, I cannot be sure.  It is a hunch.”

“With all respect, you no longer have a moustache.  Perhaps this is fuddling your hunches?”

“Weeell… ok.  What would you suggest, monsieur?”

The Moustachioed Gent looked up the cliff and down to the gap in the rocks and he listened to the rational thoughts in his head and the hunches coursing through his moustache.  Something in the confidence of the clean-shaven man told him that he was right, that he knew something the Moustachioed Gent did not.

“Ok, we will try the underground caves.  I trust you know the way?”

“Oh yes.”

The two men clambered from the pedalo into the water which stung cold like a freezer.  The sun was falling out of the day and taking with it the light and the heat and all comfort and enthusiasm.  The Moustachioed Gent touched his moustache carefully and worried about taking it under water before deciding that it was a small price to pay.

“Okay monsieur, follow me.”

The clean-shaven man ducked under the water and began to swim down, deep deep down, about ten feet under the surface of the water to the gap in the rocks.  The Moustachioed Gent followed, noting the strange and exquisite beauty of geology and promising himself a trip back some time, in happier circumstances.

They swam through the narrow gap, their elbows grazing the rocks.  The Moustachioed Gent’s moustache now  thoroughly drenched.

It was not a long way through the passage before the cave began to open up ahead, high-domed doom caves which ran black with darkness so that when the two men broke the surface of the water they could only tell the cave’s height by the echo of the sounds they made.

The Moustachioed Gent gasped for air and shook his hair and his moustache dry, reaching out with his hands and finding the clean-shaven man a few feet away.

“This is it?” the Gent asked eventually.

“Yes, we are here.”  The clean-shaven man’s voice sounded different in the cave.  It seemed to have lost its strange Franco-Scottish sway.

The Moustachioed Gent was cold.  His moustache again drained of colour.

“Yes, here you are.”  A third voice.  And then a light, a lit match from up above.
The Moustachioed Gent, treaded water and looked up to see a man perched on a ledge.  He saw him with his eyes and his eyes tried to describe to his brain exactly what the man looked like.  He was not tall, though he may have just been crouching.  He did not look strong, but in the darkness it was difficult to tell.  His face was not large but that may just have been because it was crowded with so many things…

So many moustaches.

A long, loping Confuscius across his upper lip, a Poirot on each cheek, a Zappa running like a scar on the left hand side of his chin.  A scraggly and unidentifiable thing was fitted across his forehead and beneath his right eye a strange half-moustache wiggled evilly.  The whole thing was a bizarre freak show gallery of hairy appendages, a fearsome thing which for a moment made the Moustachioed Gent feel pale and small.

But in the next moment he was once more full of virtuous anger and he went to raise his fist to the many-moustached man.

The clean-shaven man was holding his arms in a strong grip.

“What are you doing?”

The clean-shaven man just laughed, badly and madly and not good news.

The Moustachioed Gent stared at his face again, at the vacancy on his upper lip and at the brown circles around his eyes.  As though someone had used his face as a coaster for their cup of tea.  It all clicked!  The phoney accent, the fake worry rings, the oddly-prescient suggestions.  It had all been a set up.

The many-moustached man lit a torch high on the cave wall and then dropped down into the water.  Despite his moustachelessness, the clean-shaven man was stronger than he looked and try as he might the struggling Gent could not break free of his grip.

His moustache was pale and dripping, its vitality all drained, suddenly the centre of attention.  Nowhere to run and hide.

“This will make an excellent addition to my collection,” sneered the many-moustached man as he swam across to the tussling duo.

“You will not find it easy to take.”  From closer up the Moustachioed Gent could identify a moustache on the thief’s right temple as the one belonging to the moustachio who ran the floating ice-cream parlour.  “Thief!  Scoundrel!” he shouted.  He bit and kicked but found nothing he could reach.

“You may think of me as a thief,” said the many-moustached man, now treading water by his side, “but I like to think of myself as a curator.  I do this for the benefit of moustaches everywhere.”  He raised his hands up towards the high ceiling of the cave in a gesture of world dominance.

In his left hand was a contraption which looked like a cross between a razor and a butterfly net.

“Come here my pretty.”

The Moustachioed Gent looked for a way out.  There was no way out.  Nowhere for his moustache to go.  He wished that his moustache could grow wings and fly off, or arms and fists with which to put up a fight, but that was not going to happen and what was going to happen was that this evil man was going to steal his beautiful moustache and keep it on his face, the wrong face.

“No!” shouted the Gent.  “No!”

“Come here, aren’t you a gorgeous thing?”

The many-moustached man was closing in and the clean-shaven man shifted quickly so that he was restraining the Gent from behind, one arm strapped across his torso and the other holding his head deadly still at the top of his neck.

“You’re going to be a lovely addition to my catalogue,” said the many-moustached man and the eight and a half moustaches on his face all twitched with what was either joy or outrage.

“I’ll never stop looking for you,” whispered the Moustachioed Gent.  “I’ll never give up.”  He could have been telling his moustache or the many-moustached man but since the two were going home together the point was academic.

The moustache-removing contraption was startlingly close.  The Gent tried to kick out, tried to struggle in any way he could.

“The more you struggle the more it will hurt,” the many-moustached man informed him.  “The more likely that I will remove the moustache imperfectly, that I will accidentally wrench it in two or twist it out of shape.”

The Moustachioed Gent struggled against his impulse to struggle and finally stopped his body still.  “Confucius said,” he began, looking straight into the devilish eyes of the many-moustached man.  “He said that, ‘a man without a moustache is a man with no soul.’  You may have eight… eight and a half moustaches but you have no soul.”

He surrendered.

The cave spun with the sound of the excited chuckle of the many-moustached man accompanying the sound of snipping and catching.  Once the moustache had been removed, the clean-shaven man held the gent under the water until he bubbled frantic breaths and then blacked out in the black water.

When the Gent awoke it was to a sore head and pains running through most of the rest of his body.  The first thing he did, before he had even opened his eyes, was to run a finger across his upper lip to feel nothing but the tiniest bristles growing to form a new moustache.  And when he opened his eyes he found himself staring up at a bright sky, the ground wooden and moving beneath him.

He sat up and spat water.  He looked down and saw strawberry sauce everywhere.  He corrected himself – it was raspberry sauce – and then scooped some up with his finger and tasted it.

Blood.

“Right chump, where is it?”

More unfriendly words.  He looked up and saw a friendly, though somewhat changed face.  It was the face of the ice-cream moustachio.  No longer a moustachio.  Now just the owner of a floating ice-cream parlour.

“What have you done with my moustache?”

TMG//A One-Armed Horse

“Wahey!” shouted the young man, modern and clean-shaven as the cart bounced over the bobbly road, dragged speedily onward by healthy, wealthy horses.

A Moustachioed Gentleman, old-fashioned and moustachioed, looked puzzled.  “In my day we always said yee-ha.”  And then he demonstrated into the wind:  “Yee-Ha!”

The young man did not say anything else.  When they reached the ranch they disembarked and the Moustachioed Gent tipped him generously.  “Wahey,” the young man could not help but say.

The Moustachioed Gent let it pass.  He hadn’t come all the way just to argue with a man who was younger and less moustached than he.  “Which way to the stables?” he asked and the young man pointed.

He found his old horse easily, standing on his hind legs and leaning on the stable door with his one good arm.  His second arm was missing, not there at all.  You couldn’t call it a stump as such.  It just ended at the shoulder.  The one-armed horse nodded a greeting.  He had been silent since the early Eighties.  Still, it was not a bad life at the stables.

The Moustachioed Gent leant on the stable door with one of his two good elbows.  He didn’t like to leave his second arm hanging unused by his side, not when he was visiting the one-armed horse and so he fidgeted around with his moustache whilst the two of them stood in silence.  He liked to visit once every six months and reminisce in silence with the one-armed horse, hoping that his old partner was reliving the same memory.  The two of them had spent a good deal of time together in years gone by.  Yee-ha!

There really was no way of knowing but the Moustachioed Gent knew that to speak about these things would betray the silence that the horse had worked so hard for.  That one-armed horse had hooked around him a deep silence so decades-strong that it would be a betrayal for the Moustachioed Gent to break it just for old time’s sake.  He was just an old one-armed horse and the Moustachioed Gent had no intention of taking away from him the one thing he had.

He would have liked to tell him some new things, that would have been good.  But maybe history was the only thing the one-armed horse was interested in and maybe his silence was a big full stop to time, a one-hoof held up like a stop sign gesture.

“Hey buddy, you know how we used to ride around and when the sun was out and the wind was good and everything was fine and dandy I would stand up and shout ‘yee-ha’ as we belted about here and there and you would neigh,” the Moustachioed Gent did not say.

The horse did not nod to tell him to continue.

“Well nowadays, you’ll never guess what but they don’t say ‘yee-ha’ anymore,” he didn’t continue.  “They seem to say ‘wahey’.  I don’t think it sounds as good but then that’s nowadays for you.  I just thought you might like to know.  It’s odd how times change.”

It was a pity.

TMG//Black Deeds

At the pelican crossing a Moustachioed Gentleman stopped to press the button and wait for the green man to show him the way across the road.  He looked down to see a small dog at his feet, a look of gratitude in his dog eyes.  The dog had been waiting to cross the road but could not reach the button that made the cars stop.  The dog looked grateful and wet.  That was another thing – it was raining.

The Moustachioed Gent had countered this by wearing his yoga coat as he hurried home.  The yoga coat was perfect for performing yoga in but could be used for other things, like walking in the rain.  It was a loose and unstructured garment flowered with a long-gone garish pattern which had been planted long before yoga.  It is probably not necessary for me to tell you anything more about yoga coat except to report that its warterproof credentials were questionable and that the Moustachioed Gent could not remember the last time he actually performed any yoga.

The Moustachioed Gent hurried through the rain with the small, grateful dog at his feet.  Despite his yoga coat the patrol cars still pulled up next to the Moustachioed Gent and offered him umbrellas.  He declined, pointing out that he was wearing his yoga coat and was really ok, thanks.  The dog had no coat though, who was going to keep him dry?  He looked so soggy that he was close to crying.

“Come on dog,” said the Moustachioed Gent to the dog and he followed wetly.  He always liked to have company when he was walking and thinking about his investigations, even if it were just a small, wet dog.  He was close to completing the case, solving the puzzle.  He had already named this particular detective novel ‘Black Deeds.’  All he needed was a few more pieces of information and then he could pull it all together to a tidy completion, and then all he would need was someone to write the novel.

“Tomorrow,” he promised himself, or the rain, or the dog, or no one.

At the door to his house he apologised to the dog and then left him outside and locked the front door.  The dog was by now so wet that it seemed that he could not  possibly get any wetter.  Nevertheless, the rain continued to land on him and make him more wet.  Within five minutes of being shut outside he wandered off, hopeful that somewhere he could end this soggy chapter of his life and start a drier, brighter one.

Inside, the Moustachioed Gent undraped his sodden yoga coat from his frame, hung it up to dry and switched on the kettle.  A black cat sat on the kitchen table and looked expectantly at the Moustachioed Gent and so he took down two mugs and made a two cups of coffee.

“There you go black deeds,” he said as he set the mug down on the table and stroked the cat around the ears.  Black Deeds watched it for a moment and then began to drink, lapping the milky coffee with his pink cat tongue.

“So,” said the Moustachioed Gent when he had given the cat time to drink.  “Have you got any more leads for me today?”  The cat said nothing.  “Well, I’ve decided that I’m going to name this mystery after you, so that is something to be pleased about.”

The cat said nothing again, repeating the exact same silence.  The Moustachioed Gent decided to forget about his investigation for the night and concentrate on what was going to happen next.

He dressed smartly in front of the mirror and teased his moustache through with a comb.  He considered applying eyeliner too but, given the weather, decided against it.  When he left the house again a few hours later he was carrying an umbrella, promoted above the yoga coat for the purposes of keeping him both dry and presentable.  His platform shoes kept him high above the puddles.

At the downtown bistro he found his Moustachioed Girlfriend sitting in the window and already enjoying a brief aperitif already.  He watched her for a moment and wondered if he could describe her as his Moustachioed Girlfriend yet or whether they were just Moustachioed Dating.  Perhaps he would ask her tonight, or maybe he would detective the answer out of her.  In his pocket he was carrying his fingerprinting kit.

His Moustachioed Girlfriend had presented her moustache – a deep red sexy curl – standing attention on her top lip.  They greeted each other and when she smiled at him the Moustachioed Gent knew that it was a good job he had not worn his yoga coat to dinner.

“So, are you any closer to solving this one?” she asked.

The Moustachioed Gent studied the menu instead of answering.  The menu was the immediate puzzle to solve.  The spaghetti was beautifully described but he worried that it may prove too messy for a date, especially a moustachioed date.  And what about the veal?  It sounded lovely but he knew that veal offended some people.

“Have you nearly solved the case, the black deeds?  Tell me all about it.”

The Moustachioed Gent listened now as her question coincided with his firm decision that he would try the yak.

“You know, I don’t want to spoil the ending.”  He felt very dapper saying that, very reserved and clever.  He had learnt so much from Black Deeds.  With this confidence he made sure that his cheeks did not redden as he fielded the stares which were inevitable whenever they were out together.  As if people had never seen a moustachioed couple before.

“Please.”  His Moustachioed Girlfriend was leaning across the table, insistent.  “I want to hear about your trip to the farm, did you find the tunnel?  And what about the last will and testament… I really can’t believe that it all came from that.  Did you go undercover?  Did you find footprints?  Did you copy them down?

“I want to hear everything.”

The Moustachioed Gent squirmed but only within his own body so that from the outside he continued to appear as calm and nonplussed as a cocky black cat.

“I, er, I’m not sure… shall we order?”

As the Moustachioed Gent waited for his yak to arrive he tried to avoid his moustachioed girlfriend’s pleas for information and he began to dearly hope that he would find an end to this case, that it would all come together.  Because at that moment he did not have a clue and if that was how it ended he was going to look pretty stupid.

TMG//The Missing Internet

The sky lay weakly yellow like an ill-begotten handkerchief.

The captain stood at the window and watched as a Moustachioed Gentleman got out of his van and entered the house.  He could tell that he was a Moustachioed Gent because the tips of his long, droopy moustache fell out of the bottom of his helmet, though it was impressive that the captain could see anything at all through the tears which fell endlessly down his face.  They ran like waterfalls, beginning in his eyes and running down over his nose and cheeks until they reached his lips and were sucked back into his body to rejoin the water cycle of sorrow.

The ingestion of tears made it difficult for him to speak but the Moustachioed Gent seemed uninterested in what he had to say anyway, he was already busy at work.  Lying flat across the living room floor, he began to tap at the skirting board with a pencil, then proceeded to thump the carpet with the flat of his hand and to test the sound of the radiator with a tuning fork.

Below the black and anonymous insectoid bubble of his motorcycle helmet, the Moustachioed Gent was fitted entirely in tweed from the pads of his shoulders to the softly-furnished soles of his feet.  The captain watched him as he worked in a creepy silence.

The Moustachioed Gent’s partner was stood outside the front door, smoking in the rain.  He was a Moustacheless Man, his face like a dusty desert scrub, and he wore a coat with a huge black collar like a dead bat stretched around his neck.  The Moustachioed Gent enjoyed his investigations and the Moustacheless Man enjoyed smoking in the rain, and although it was not his job the cases afforded him some good time in which to pursue his hobby.

He looked up and down the soggy terrace which soaked in the rain and then warped and then squeezed it out through the gutters and gullies.  The whole system set up and run by an internet in every home.  Scurrying through the houses invisibly and tirelessly.  The Moustacheless Man was not sure how it worked exactly, but that was ok, it wasn’t his job to know.   His job was to link the helmeted confusion of the Moustachioed Gent with the requirements of the real world with regards to the investigation into errant internets.

He did this by smoking in the rain until it was time to explain what the Moustachioed Gent had found.

Inside the house, tears were still gushing down the cheeks of the captain who had lost his internet and if the rain were not a problem then all the water coming out of his face could soon cause a catastrophic flood.  He was a young, blond captain and he was used to having the internet buzzing and rushing through his home.  What would he do now?

That was not a question that the Moustachioed Gent could answer.  Looking for the internet was all that he needed in his life.

Eventually he took a hot drink having concluded his investigations.  His helmet remained on his head and no safety could persuade it off.  He had been trained hard, tracing loose internets in walls and floors, in the air.  Out in the wilderness tracking was easy but in the jumble of connections in a street like this it took real skill.  He could find a fleeing internet… but he also knew when one had gone.  He explained this to the Moustacheless Man and now it was time for him to do his work, explaining to the captain just exactly what the Moustachioed Gent had found.

It would not be an easy time for the captain, his home life would not be easily run without his well-trusted internet.  The Moustacheless Man wondered if the captain had loved his internet.  Maybe he would never love again.  With some helping, consoling and cajoling the Moustacheless Man did what he could whilst the Moustachioed Gent waited in the van.

These conversations always made him nervous and so he had retreated quickly.  But he was not alone in the van.  The air cracked and fizzled with information and then sat still for a moment, calm and peaceful like an infinite gravity.  And the Moustachioed Gent knew that even though he had found it, there was no point in trying to persuade it back.  From under his seat he took a jiffy bag and held it open until the nervous, shaking internet finally slipped in, away from the damp terrace.  And, in the first post tomorrow, to a new life in South America.

TMG//Cakes With Teeth

In the lounge, introductions were being made.  A chauffeur wearing pristine white gloves stood next to a Moustachioed Gentleman and gestured towards a gateau on the table.  The Moustachioed Gent gazed at the gateau and the gateau gazed back at him.  It made him feel about two inches tall, even though he was closer to seven foot.  He had never seen a cake before that intimidated him the way this one did.

Its beauty was indescribable.

Feeling out of his depth, the Moustachioed Gent blushed and whispered in the chauffeur’s ear: “But that cake is far too good for me.”  The chauffeur, who had recently quit driving in favour of presenting cakes had brought to his new profession all of the wisdom and grace he had learnt in the previous one.  He straightened his gloves and replied: “Au contraire sir, can you not see how she is looking at you?”

The Moustachioed Gent thought for a moment and his blushing receded.  That evening he had applied wax to his moustache so that it curled perfectly to his preferred mathematics and he had also applied wax to his leather shoes so that they shone like black holes on the ends of his legs.  Certainly he had seen more shambolic men here with quite impressive cakes… though he had seen no cakes quite so impressive as the beauty which sat coyly on the table before him.

Finally he coughed, and then nodded to the chauffeur.

The chauffeur picked up the cake and carried it in his studied, stately manner whilst the Moustachioed Gent followed behind.  Nerves began to flood his nervous nervous n-n-n-n-n- nervous system.

When they reached the room the chauffeur set the cake down gently on the table and then departed as silently as he could, like a valet driving across velvet.  The Moustachioed Gent thought about taking his shoes off and then decided that would be rude, thought about switching the television on but stopped again for the same reason.

He walked slowly around the table until he had seen the cake from all sides.  It was about six inches in diameter, small but perfectly formed.  He had, of course, brought his own spoon and he now removed it from the left breast pocket of his suit and polished it with his sleeve.  He drew the curtains, sat down at the table and switched off his narrative tracker system.

It was half an hour later when the Moustachioed Gent turned the system back on.  He drew the curtains once more and then, leaving the room as he found it, left.  He handed the key in at the desk and walked out into the night.

The air was cold and as he walked down the road he checked in his pocket to make sure his spoon was there.  Yes, of course he had not forgotten it.  He made a mental note to wash it when he got home.

It was absurd, he reflected, to feel as though he had been all alone in the room and absurd too that he felt such little guilt for what he had done.  He had no worries about being found out, the service was discreet and his wife need never know.  But what struck him as he walked through the cold night was how empty he felt.  He began to wonder about the gorgeous cake: had it been too good for him?

And then the empty feeling became a dipping sensation and the thought crossed his mind that this was the pinnacle of his life, that nothing could ever be quite so good again.

When he got home he decided against washing the spoon.  He was never going to wash that spoon again.

The Moustachioed Gent in ‘Mousse and Moustachio’

In the skies above a Moustachioed time, twenty six twenty-sixth century storm clouds travelled back in time overnight to a disarmed twenty-third century with strict weather controls.  They moved together, holding hands, lead by tour administrator cloud ‘Claude’ who carried a clipboard and waterproof map.  It was a long journey and they traversed the three hundred years in question with no delays.  A rest was called and they camped down for a nap in early twenty-fourth century Crumberly Hall, a stately home that they intended to visit some time earlier.  They were just kids, organised kids but kids nonetheless.

Meanwhile in the rolling green grounds of twenty-third century Crumberly Hall… Continue reading