As I try to board, the old guy at the bottom of the gangway says,

‘Hold your horses, pipsqueak. Where’s your husband?’

I say to him, ‘I’m my husband.’

He looks me up and down.

‘Don’t be a clown’, he says. ‘Two …. or none. That’s what my instructions are. Two or none.’

He folds his hairy arms and tucks his flat face down into his beard.

I’m thinking, ‘I’ve seen the weather forecast, and it’s not good.’ Overhead, clouds are beginning to clog up the sky’s bronchial tube.

‘Look,’ I pleaded. ‘Let’s negotiate.’

‘One question,’ he says. ‘Are you married?’

‘Yes.’ I say this with a firm purpose.

‘Who to?’ he asks with a skewed smile.

‘To myself,’ says I confidently.

He drops the smile and it rolls down his chin like the devil’s sputum.

He points. ‘See there, the sign says Two by Two. Can’t you count? Two …. By…. Two…’ – this said with two fingers held up in front of my stylets * as though I was innumerate.

I calm myself down with long, lung-free breaths, and try again.

‘Imagine, if you would, a creature that doesn’t need two to do …..the ….thing.’ He watches, silently, sullenly. ‘And imagine, every so often… every, say, twenty minutes or so, POOF, out pops a baby, so sweet, so absolutely identical to its mother that ….’

He backs away, shakes his head, turns and staggers up the gangplank, disappearing into a dim cacophony of bestial marital mating.

 

 

* Stylets – Anatomy – ‘Sucking mouthparts’ of Aphids, (as opposed to a little-known Tamla Motown all-sister group, The Stylets, whose big hit, Kiss My Tarsus* was number 7 in the U.S. charts for two days in May ’68.)

* Tarsus – section of insect’s leg.

 

 

 

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