Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Outsourced Skull-Blogging

He walked back to the dresser, opened the lower part of it, and took out a little chest till he put it on the table for my inspection. Never in my life did I inspect anything more ornamental and well-made. It was a brown chest like those owned by seafaring men or lascars from Singapore, but it was diminutive in a very perfect way as if you were looking at a full-size one through the wrong end of a spy-glass. It was about a foot in height, perfect in its proportions and without fault in workmanship. There were indents and carving and fanciful excoriations and designs on every side of it and there was a bend on the lid that gave the article great distinction. At every corner there was a shiny brass corner-piece and on the lid there were brass corner-pieces beautifully wrought and curved impeccably against the wood. The whole thing had the dignity and the satisfying quality of true art.

'There now,' said MacCruiskeen.

'It is nearly too nice,' I said at last, 'to talk about it.'

'I spent two years manufacturing it when I was a lad,' said MacCruiskeen, 'and it still takes me to the fair.'

'It is unmentionable,' I said.

'Very nearly,' said MacCruiskeen.

The two of us then started looking at it and we looked at it for five minutes so hard that it seemed to dance on the table and look even smaller than it might be.

'I do not often look at boxes or chests,' I said, simply, 'but this is the most beautiful box I have ever seen and I will always remember it. There might be something inside it?'

'There might be,' said MacCruiskeen.

He went to the table and put his hands around the article in a fawning way as if he were caressing a sheepdog and he opened the lid with a little key but shut it down again before I could inspect the inside of it.

'I will tell you a story and give you a synopsis of the ramification of the little plot,' he said. 'When I had the chest made and finished, I tried to think what I would keep in it and what I would use it for at all. First I thought of them letters from Bridie, the ones on the blue paper with the strong smell but I did not think it would be anything but a sacrilege in the end because there was hot bits in them letters. Do you comprehend the trend of my observations?'

'I do,' I answered.

'Then there was my studs and the enamel badge and my presentation iron-pencil with a screw on the end of it to push the point out, an intricate article full of machinery and a Present from Southport. All these things are what are called Examples of the Machine Age.'

'They would be contrary to the spirit of the chest,' I said.

'They would be indeed. Then there was my razor and the spare plate in case I was presented with an accidental bash on the gob in the execution of me duty...'

'But not them.'

'Not them. Then there was my certificates and me cash and the picture of Peter the Hermit and the brass thing with straps that I found on the road one night near Matthew O'Carahan's. But not them either.'

'It is a hard conundrum,' I said.

'In the end I found there was only one thing to do to put myself right with my private conscience.'

'It is a great thing that you found the right answer at all,' I countered.

'I decided to myself,' said MacCruiskeen, ' that the only sole correct thing to contain in the chest was another chest of the same make but littler in cubic dimension.'

Zombie readers might have ideas of their own about what could go in the chest.


merc said...


splibi, possibly bi.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Or might come out of that finely made little box.

Hinged for easy access. I support this evolution.

mikey said...

Um. Excuse me, professor clyde? Sir? I was wondering if you might, you know, have a picture, perhaps a woodcut even, of the cited 'Brass thing with straps'? Purely out of a generalized metallurgical and mechanical curiosity, of course. You understand, don't you sir?

Captcha rather crudely finds this post particularly wanting: fookedis

Dan Someone said...

This prose is startlingly reminiscent of the work of Harry S. Keeler. I am reading his The Riddle of the Traveling Skull at the moment. It is a masterpiece of... something.

Smut Clyde said...

It's like Turducken, but skullier.

I am reading his The Riddle of the Traveling Skull at the moment.

My goodness, that Keeler wrote the good stuff. It will inspire me with my own literary endeavours (which feature the adventures of Coleridge and Porlock, Private Ontologists).