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Institutional Life - comedy short story
Institutions, satire, comedy, short stories,
Institutional Life - comedy short story
The Saga of Eckt & Bodi
(The Nirvana Home For Elderly Folk Who Like Central Heating & Frequent Laundry)
By Honda Prelude
(Researched from Honda's archives and abbreviated (considerably) by Roland the Tramp)
Honda Prelude - Hermit / Philosopher
This is believed to be the first 'saga' or fiction written by Honda Prelude. It seems to have marked the beginning of a new phase in her life, shortly after the penopause (the particularly bleak period when all her astral travels seemed to take her to Planet Ertia and her philosophising ground to a halt). Yea, it came to pass that Honda Prelude's output parable-ised - that's like caramelised but attacks the brain rather than the teeth.
Honda's parable-ology commenced thus, and a certain inclination towards footnote-itis is still clear . . .
* Once upon a time, on Planet Ertia, there were two little boys. It seems essential to point out at this stage, in order to prevent subsequent confusion, that in no way were they undernourished or neglected. Neither did they suffer from dwarfism, nor had they been at the back of the queue when chromosomes were handed out. The only reason they were small, both of them, is as follows. They were young. They hadn't been alive very long, compared to, for example, fully grown people.
Right, that's clear. Two fully nourished, potentially normal, young boys; only small because they hadn't finished growing yet.
They got on quite well, as young boys often do. Possibly because they had lots in common, maybe because they were uncorrupted by the big, bad world or perhaps just because they lived close to each other and there weren't many other lads around of the same age.
Their names, as you may have guessed from the title, were Eckt & Bodi. Francis Eckt & Malcolm Bodi. As time passed and they grew larger, older and possibly more belligerent, they found they had less in common than they had once supposed. Their disagreements commenced in very small, some may say petty, ways - which football team to support, for example.
As the years passed this developed into more fundamental disagreements, such as whether to support a football team at all, maybe music is more my scene.
'Your scene! What's a scene, you bleeding hippie?!' Francis enquired.
'A life style of peace and love, you aggressive little tosser!' Malcolm patiently explained.
These debates had commenced in each other's homes when they were very young, and by their mid-teens had migrated to the large field maintained by the city council which featured pitches for football, headball, handball, racquetball, netball, wallball, basketball, bicycleball, batball, clubball, Beckhamball(*) and a climbing frame.
(* A 4 a side variation of football - with each side having a goalie, a centre half, a centre forward, and a STAR. The goalie throws the ball to the star (on the touchline, by the half-way line) he tries to hit the head of the centre-forward with a curvy ball from 50 yards away without doing anything too strenuous and the opposing centre-half and goalie try to stop the forward from scoring. If they do score, they earn another go; if not, the ball goes to the other team).
Honda Prelude Astral Traveler
Gangs of youths roamed the field with axes and saws, lopping branches from the remaining hedges and trees to make bonfires to celebrate the successful burning of the previous government in the Houses of Argument, and the upper chamber, The House of Party Donors, by the Gay Forks militia.
The youths hurled litter at Francis and Malcolm. They also hurled insults along the lines of 'nerds, creeps, eggheads' and such, since Francis and Malcolm had something of a reputation for endless argument and nit picking. And scored far too highly in history exams at their local school, The MicroLimp-Ertia (TM) Comprehensive. And they never began sentences with 'And'. And so on . . .
At first the disputational duo didn't notice the insults streaming in their direction, so immersed were they in their debate. When they did realise they had unwelcome company, Francis spoke thusly -
'Depart, uncouth youths, for you are interfering with serious conversation.'
This advice engendered the suggestion from one youth that Francis and Malcolm may like to experience at first hand the reality of Ertian political life, and be burnt. The bonfire was ready . . .
One may think that such an experience would cause M&F (not to be confused with M+F (TM) Manky & Fragile Home Furnishings - www.m+f.ertia.com ) to reassess their habits, but it didn't.
By the time their paths finally diverted, the disagreements had developed into the most radical form of disagreements. Francis went to the big city to pursue a career as a political activist. Malcolm chose a quieter life as a religious retreatant after his spell of detox, rehab and surgery for repetitive strain injury on his plectrum-operating finger and thumb.
Fifty years later they met again in the Nirvana Home For Elderly Folk Who Like Central Heating & Frequent Laundry, in the town where they were born. They had a delightful view over the park, which was much the same as in their youth, except the trees had all gone, there were many large signs banning fires, and an enormous statue of Sir Beckham of Bender had appeared by the entrance.
'I was wrong to try to change the world,' confessed Francis over tea and biscuits. 'All the time I was living out my unresolved anger at my father and mother.'
'No, you were right. I was wrong in hiding away from life and trying to sort out the unresolved anger at my father and mother!' Malcolm replied.
'Well it turns out that all my father's problems were created by the social inequalities of the society he lived in. I should have gone into politics!'
'But if you hadn't resolved the problems with your father & mother, you'd have made all sorts of mistakes, like I did!'
And thus their arguments recommenced. Independent observers suggest that they look forward to such arguments, which they call 'debates'. The principal difference between their present day ranting contests and those of their youth being the easy chairs, the supply of tea in cup and saucer, and a selection of biscuits - ginger, rich tea, digestive, and chocolate.
The chocolate ones are rationed. Francis Eckt monitors how many Malcolm eats. Malcolm Bodi monitors Francis' consumption.
The other residents of the NHFEFWLCH&FL tend to turn their armchairs away from Francis and Malcolm, and turn up the volume of the TV. On a particularly bad day, missiles of the newspaper or soggy biscuit variety are inexpertly launched in their direction. Francis examines the hurled biscuits to see if they are edible and has tried laying a clean sheet on the4 floor to protect the airborne biscuit-missiles from contamination with hairs, and worse, from the NHFEFWLCH&FL's resident cat, Hairball 2nd.
This experiment failed because Hairball 2nd immediately decided the sheet was its new bed.
By way of contrast, Malcolm collects up the newspaper-missiles whilst making sighing noises and martyr-like gestures (overdone somewhat).
The rich tea bikkies hang around the longest and sometimes go limp if the lid of the biscuit tin isn't properly secured overnight. Malcolm has aired the possibility that this is symbolic, while Francis is convinced its just a combination of physics, the weather and entropy, though he can't be bothered to argue about the relevant proportions, and neither can Malcolm. Is this a promising development? No doubt Honda will ponder this very question.
Note- The Gay Forks movement acquired their popular name following their insistence on their inalienable right to hold gay picnics in very public places, usually outside Teskos in case they ran short of consumables.
No-one ever complained, or questioned their inalienable right. Many observers didn't even know what an inalienable right was, except the local homeless who liked to use the steps outside Teskos as a meeting place. And it's still something of a puzzle how (and why) the Gay Forks felt the need for a militia.
Copyright Peter Fairbrother
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