Friday, January 2, 2009

The Tale of Horace 1

"I think it's clear."

To Horace Jones everything was always clear. He lived in a place of perpetual certainty, able, with nary a grimace of reflection or strain of thought, to conjure up an effortless, if not admirable, clarity of purpose. Often enough this natural ability was a boon to the young man. While others of his friends might tarry over inconsequential decisions, ruminating with their feeble brains much like a cow might ponder what she was chewing again, straining to find the best possible answer when several possibilities would do just fine, Horace would dive right ahead and choose. And so he did.

"We will have the stuffed mushrooms."

"But I'm not entirely..."

"Silence," said Horace softly to his friend Beltran, "If I wanted to wait until you were entirely sure I would have to start gnawing on my elbow for sustenance and we both know that is unlikely."

Horace and Beltran were at the Olive Garden reaping the rewards of their passivity. Beltran's mother had gotten so sick of the pair making a racket in her basement that she had begged them to leave, furnishing them with twenty dollars and a very firmly worded request to not return for the rest of the afternoon. Firm in this case was a very relative term, as Beltran had not inherited his proclivity for vacillation from a vacuum. Still, the two ten dollar bills were more than enough motivation for the seventeen year olds who had not as yet landed, or indeed even searched for, jobs of their own with the attendant remunerations. Twenty dollars was a tidy sum indeed and in the afternoon no less! Usually such bribes were reserved for the weekend, but the long Christmas vacation with the boys home from school had Beltran's mother frazzled down to a nub and she wished to nap in peace.

"After the mushrooms we shall dine on the soup and salad," declared Horace. "And if that is not enough to convince you, dear Beltran, we shall feast on bread sticks as well. Shall we squander the funds that your mother has so kindly provided us out of the fruit of her labor? Nay, we shall eat to the full and be satisfied!"

In addition to Horace's native certitude, he also possessed a measure of grandeur. Or so he imagined. Beltran simply rolled his eyes and acquiesced with a snort. He didn't much mind. He sometimes felt it necessary to assert his independence by indulging in some passive aggressive body language or letting loose with a word, maybe two, of protest, but he was only too happy to avoid any decision making of his own. Decision making entailed responsibility and Beltran had been trained from a very early age to studiously avoid that like a dirty diaper on a hot day in a locked car. And that is not so much a simile as a story that will remin untold for the time being, the soiled baby-ware that is.

As for aversion to responsibility, that started with his father who upon being told of his son's conception immediately uttered those three words, "See you later." Southern Ohio hadn't seen a trace of him since, but before you start feeling too sorry for Ms. Honeycutt, Beltran's mother, please realize that she was no more interested in responsibility than her erstwhile boyfriend. She had promptly enrolled herself on welfare and had kept herself there through thick and thin; seventeen and a half years on the dole was a testament to her indolence and her ingenuity, one of which she had passed along to her son.

He looked over his shoulder towards the kitchen and let out a soft whine, "When are those mushrooms going to get here? I'm hungier than..." he huffed rather than complete the comparision. No sense in taxing himself when he was suffering so grievously from hunger.

"My dear Beltran," replied Horace, "we have yet to order the delictables and I think it unlikely that they should arrive before the order is made. There are some leftovers on the table behind you. Taste and see that the breadstick is good."

Beltran's hunger, though strong, was overcome by his sloth and he slouched an inch in response.

"Very well. If you do not care to sate yourself on the abundance all around I shall blaze the trail for you. I tell you that I shall rise from this table and return victoriously with booty and treasure..."

Horace's building triumph was cut short by the appearence of their waitress who looked askance at them briefly, steeled herself for what was sure to be a very slender tip, and introduced herself, "Hi, my name is Wendy and I'll be your server today. Can I get you guys anything?"

"My dear woman," started Horace, "'You guys' simply won't do. Messieurs Horace and Beltran at your service. Or rather, you're at our service isn't that right? Bring us the mushrooms and make it quick. Beltran is feeling weak."

Sensing the hopelessness of the situation Wendy made a note, turned on her heel and retreated towards the kitchen, grabbing some dishes from the neighboring table. She well knew that Messieurs Horace and Beltran would not be proffering a tip that would merit much effort on her part.

Horace waited for her to disappear, arose with dignity and walked over to the next table. "Why, the shameless hussy has stolen our breadsticks!"

{to be continued}