With other colorful splashes of vitriol

Lovecraft goes to the pharmacy, trudges up and down the aisles, finds what he is looking for (a case of vaseline) and repairs to the counter, where he flashes a smile at the cashier, a dour specimen of a girl with a freckled face and friendly though bovine eyes. A flimsy carousel, displaying in candylike packages the sort of appurtenance often sold in public bathrooms, suddenly rotates, momentarily blocking his view of the exit. By dint of habit, he is always keenly aware of all points of egress.

Next moment Lovecraft’s credit card is refused with a small but foreboding fanfare. This embarrasses not only himself but the orange-haired youngster behind him clutching several cartons of ribbed condoms. In narratology, this event is called the ‘inciting incident’ or, to use Gérard Genette’s terminology, the ‘impregnable incident.’ (Scholars may wish to challenge the veracity of this term as it smacks of pure chimera.)

Outside, clouds scud bankward, and this is where we find Lovecraft following the cottony puffs, at a stiff pace, to the edifice whose name, Benito Bank, was emblazoned upon the tidy rectangle of laminated plastic having caused the ruckus in the first instance, and which sported a hologram of a festive scene, where Bacchus and three airily-clad females drink cooking sherry from the bottom of an iridescent, indigo-black high heel pump.

Some five minutes later, Lovecraft arrives at the bank having exhausted his capacity to whistle gaily, and is confronted with a series of gold-plated revolving doors–surely a metaphor for the va-et-vient, the hither and thither of transactional banking: life reduced to a devaluing series of transactions.

Sunlight breaks into the building, which strikes Lovecraft as ironic: most people are seeking to break out of the money palace.

Catching a glimpse of an unoccupied bank representative, Lovecraft undertakes to arrive there with the legendary speed of lightning–mind now, not the accuracy, as angry bolts from the firmament often decimate perfectly salvageable structures, such as those pearl-white gazebos parked haphazardly in the verdant countryside, while giving a pass to heaps of rubbish which, when looked upon rationally, provide little enjoyment to anyone. Lovecraft, presently making himself as large as possible, looms over the bank employee and asks, “Are you the swine that tried to neutralize me?”

The clerk, a small man with a square jaw and watery eyes, clears his throat. “Passcode.”

“EBFS,” was the perfectly timed riposte, Lovecraft’s mnemonic for “execution by firing squad.” The diminutive man launched into an indiscreet ballet of mad, migraine-inducing rat-tat-tat on the keyboard, coupled with interminably long bouts of the dwarfish man staring blankly at a screen, as if to divine some meaning hitherto beyond the reach of humankind.

“Listen, Willy,” says Lovecraft. “You don’t mind if I call you Willy, do you?” An awkward, slightly pregnant pause. “I’m in front of your mug because your bank has seen fit to throw shade on my credit. For shame.”

The clerk remains stoic, conjuring up another screen. A list of names populates the dark void. His finger–a long member with a vaguely phosphorescent sheen–slithers down the list, then stops abruptly. “Credit card refutations: Mrs. Seaman,” he says perfunctorily, and then proffers a dismissive wave.

In another corner of the building a man is heard yelling “fascists,” which quickly gives way to other colorful splashes of vitriol.

Scoffing at the clerk’s insolence, Lovecraft turns volte-face. Meanwhile, drooping velvet ropes keep throngs of customers corralled. Like animals.

Soon he is accosted by a couple of sallow-faced bank guards, the tallest of the two muttering ‘like a dog’ under his foul breath. They are unpleasant, but polite. Impeccably dressed too.

Next Lovecraft is ushered into a small cubicle, whereupon he is seated forcibly across from a woman in a bathrobe. Was this Mrs. Seaman? Her head is covered by a phalanx of plastic curlers and her face smothered by a mud mask covering the entire real estate of her face.

“Sorry to discommode you,” starts Lovecraft, “but are you the one responsible for the bank’s shameful conduct?” At this point Lovecraft deftly pulls the wallet from his back pocket and removed the credit card, indignantly waving it about. “My credit card was declined at a very respectable shop in town. Are you sufficiently shamed?”

She takes the avatar of Lovecraft’s discontent from his hand, and exits to an antechamber. She returns, bathrobe intact, with a folder, which she lays out on the desk like a winning poker hand. “Johnny Lovecraft,” she sighs. “Your account has been in arrears since 1956.”

Lovecraft clasps his hands behind his head, supremely confident. “Impossible.” He pauses to reflect. “Though there is admittedly a gap between the impossible and the improbable.” His eyes narrow. “Yes, I acknowledge the error of my ways.” His voice deepens. “Still, nothing can alter my harsh opinion of Benito Bank.”

“Your healthy revulsion does you credit. But I can tell you that the chairman of Benito Bank, Mr. Rump, is a great man. A very great man.” She closes the folder, smiling through the mud. “Life is permanent warfare.” She stares dreamily at an imaginary ceiling fan. “A very great man.” She jerks her shoulder suddenly, ending her elegant soliloquy with some foggy thing she remembered: “All that corporate profits need to gain a foothold–is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”

Later, in the jaunty spring of 2020, after a little scrape with Hyperbolea, which left one hundred thousand dead—still and all, not bad business for Benito Bank, whose tentacles reached Hyperbolea—Lovecraft and the recently widowed Mrs. Seaman would be wed at a cacophonous ceremony, forever curing Lovecraft’s disdain of high finance.

6 Comments

  1. I thought you were dead and thank goodness I didn’t get around to wasting any money on getting the Cardinal Archbishop to celebrate a Requiem. You disappeared after a Gulf of Mexico meteorological event in which I presumed you’d perished. More to the point – you haven’t lost any of your panache in today’s story!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was deceased. What is more, I invited you to the funeral. Naturally, ‘Bruce: care of NZ’ might not have been explicit enough for the calculating minds manning (womanning? I propose to officially do away with the giftless notion of gender) your postal service, which is stellar in all respects, save for the delivery of mail.

      The funereal procession, which consisted of a donkey and an old marimbist, was filmed at the behest of some obscure musicological society and made available to YouTube (for some sort of recompense involving fresh fruit and a call girl).

      Liked by 1 person

      • That old marimbist can hit my rosewoods any time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I know you have a soft spot for music (and Chinese gooseberries, alas), Bruce. Speaking from experience, you can’t take any of it with you, so might as well enjoy it now.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ha! More of them too, loud enough to have the pictures on the walls of The Cloud’s library wobble and a wibble. This is so stuffed with intent (under canvas and not at all above board) and unzippered winking nods I am as close to an actual gog as I have ever been. Gogs are so rare to spot and even when you do they, as you well know, have a hide that one may seek for hours yet never come close to what with all the camouflage business and invisibility pills they scoff (addicts).

    I have no legs (beyond the two I own) for I am far more addicted myself to your wordage Prospero, and so pleased to have you back, for however long that may be, I am incandescent, as is the Gog I stand by.

    – Esme Cloud applauding loudly – annoying the woman in the large hat sat in front who really has no sense of humour – chucking a big bunch of roses upon the stage beaming happily

    Liked by 1 person

    • My next article, scheduled to appear when the world collectively regains a foothold on reality (2024), in the Journal of Entomology, with a subject yet to be determined though probably having to do with the hermaphroditic tendencies of the Brazilian fire ant. A subject dear to your heart, I know, hence the long anticipatory build-up.

      I am unable at this moment to divulge my methods and sources of funding, though all will be revealed in the fullness of time.

      Meanwhile you may return to these pages de temps à autre to learn about crop failures and to read the secret diaries of the brave men working on the farm.

      Liked by 1 person


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