Friday, July 23, 2004

The Final Offering: Summer 2003

               She smiled ruefully but he was to have nothing of it.
               “I don’t know where you have placed your field glasses”, now he was beginning to sound troubled and his movements betrayed his thinking quite markedly.
               “Look, you have to understand that I don’t care in the slightest if you have come here straight from Cambridge or anywhere else for that matter”, she was now quite cross and beginning to remember that he was a tiresome monster who would never appreciate her more playful aspect.  Why did he always take her so seriously?  A question she frequently rattled off in her mind.
              Alice was always supposed to be a quiet madam, but somehow the label had miscarried completely, as her late mother had allegedly whispered to her on numerous occasions during her early years that this certainly wasn’t to be the case.  Nowadays, she had a prodigious unstoppable effect around St Cyers where she lived quite comfortably since her unhappy adolescence.  Although Alice was usually quite succinct surrounding her dealings with men, there was hardly ever a time she did not enjoy good provocation if she felt in the habit to govern her senses for amusement.
              Everything within the room in which she sat had a melodramatic sense of lurid extravagance; a kind of perceived playroom for the early Victorian upper classes:  Tall mantels; grainy French polished woods; a yapping dog along with a loud clicking black tail and a white portrait of her uncle who probably had control of yet another inconsequential ‘Rotten Borough’, though it was only for one term before he fell down a renovated mine shaft to his death – supposedly he was inspecting the working conditions down there at the request from a few stray miners with a lethal sentiment for their profession.
  “ I came here to tell you something”, William had begun to speak slowly.
              “Well it is probably something I don’t want to hear anyway.  Honestly, why are you always so dull and intense about everything William”?
              Her eyes sparkled momentarily and displayed a kind of cruel pleasure attuned to her luxurious surroundings.  She shifted herself around delicately on the divan and stared out at nothing in particular – this could be quite dismissive gesture if taken in the wrong way.
              In the distance one large bug crawled along the wainscot aimlessly.  The weather outside was exceptionally hot at this time of year so that the mini-beats roamed freely nearly all the time.  Now the insect ended its journey on the floor with a plop. 
              The conversation tried to refocus on its correct trajectory.
              “I’m not saying that, I’m saying this….”, William then allowed himself to pause briefly, then looking askance at the back of the room, he muttered to the floor.   Alice’s head now turned momentarily but her sequined eyes remained carefully opaque.  Sustaining such a pose was quite a feat for the mistress and she sought to effect a flood of tears.  The train of liquid fled down her linen front in thick glutinous blobs, journeying as far as her clasped hands adorned by a rose ring given previously to her by her grandmother; she warned her countless times against man’s nasty artifices.
              William became an island of distress; her grinding sarcasm had needled him a few moments ago – it would not be long before he spoke his mind.  Momentarily he endeavoured to look quite serious about his intentions before looking directly at her again.  Alice interrupted in an abrupt manner.
              “Do you suppose I’m going to let you blackmail me,” she tried to look dismissive but instead she accidentally winked at him slyly, for the pain seemed to have fled elsewhere for the time being.
              Meanwhile the insect was on its tripod legs moving gradually towards the pretty decorated slippers of the women, guided by its own instincts to join the fray but demonstrably unsure of its ultimate role on arrival.  It opened a pair of large wings set like matching callipered butter knifes, launching it so far into the air that it landed on the female’s head quite safely with another plop.
              “This is my final offer, if you don’t concede, I’ll have to do it all for myself”, he consigned to her left ear, this time with great conviction.
              Her next reaction was over exaggerated:  She stole out of her chair in one sudden movement, inviting him to join her up above shelf height where she dementedly gabbled a dozen more words in a way nobody would be expected to translate into conversation and then after flashing a quick smile at her adversary, she attempted to look angry.  Several books fled from the shelf in reaction to her twitching hand.  The winged beast sped out from the midst of the fallen volumes, landing dexterously on the tea arrangements situated in the far corner of the room.
              “If you do that”, she snapped, “your life could become dangerous because of me, I can make it so hard for you to recoup what you have lost”!  Her voice dropped again at this point as she willed her head to cease rolling about, forcing it to assume a more united front with which the rest of her body could mutually agree on. 
              The moth flew on into the wider panoramic darkness that engulfed the front of the room, covering a larger area, as its flicking wings beat further into wider space, then over countless heads of reacting watchers.
              

              “You played that scene like a maniac”! He decried.  He was the angry producer, waiting to apportion blame where necessary, whereas her snivelling was obviously going to do nothing to stave off the amount of flack being dealt out in a single stream.
              The curtain had finally flopped down at last on a dire performance, which in effect had taken at least thirteen extra minutes running time.  Not only that, the large plate glass window that was placed proximately down stage had been smashed accidentally at the conclusion of the last scene. 
              The stagers firmly believed that it had been she who had displayed this formidable negligence:  She managed to shove her opposite backwards during the intimacy of the last positions.  Furthermore, both actor and actress had displayed many idiosyncratic inconsistencies throughout the last scene, countermanding standardised depictions of the play, ending in an abnormal entwinement and a hospital case beyond the belief of anybody watching. 
              Nobody in the audience was quite sure whether they had seen anything of the closer details of the final accident, although many perceived that she had caused the majority of the chaos.  Unfortunately, most of the house felt that having one’s back to the auditorium, as she did most of the time at the conclusion, might have been a major factor in much of their collective vagueness when ascertaining what had gone wrong on the stage that day.               

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