CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
As she recalled Paul’s words now, she was aware of the connection between her own broken-off stiletto heel and Susan’s “sexy” stilettos; it was as though she held that woman’s “sexy” stiletto in her hand, the woman who had destroyed what meagre joy she possessed, had taken it with a few carefully timed glances at Paul and a single look at Mandy herself which seemed tinged with evil—though masked by the veil of that beautiful face; evil that Paul, being a mere man, would never be capable of seeing—she held that broken-off stiletto heel and knew that someone would pay for this crime, and pay for it today.
She became aware of her aching back and had to sit down. The hardware store was not many more steps away. For the moment she forgot about Paul’s words, about Susan’s veil of hated beauty, forgot, even, about the scarlet walrus whose presence standing there on the pavement—in the same red dress that Susan had once worn to the office—had seemed to represent Susan. She forgot about all this and focused on overcoming her aching back for just a few yards more, until, finally, she stepped into the hardware store, whose sign “Heels repaired while you wait” she previously noticed, having passed the store many times. She sat on the single chair in the store, having been told the owner was currently busy and would begin her repair in a few minutes.
She recalled red flashes which seemed to follow her as she made her way to the store. She did not even noticed them at the time but now, as she sat there, that same redness appeared before her and seemed to fill the whole store; it dominated her vision in the way an angry wall of water from a suddenly burst dam might as she looked up and saw the scarlet walrus standing directly in front of her, pointing at her and saying, “I didn’t wear this dress to attract men; I wore it because I like red. So, you’re wrong.”
Mandy’s mouth hung open.
Helen stepped even closer and went on, “And I didn’t like the way yousighed at me. You people are all the same—not me. Your mind is full of poison, and it’s yourself you’re sighing at, not me.”
Mandy said, in disbelief, “Didn’t like the way I sighed at you!” She stood up and, to make room for herself, pushed the walrus back as she got to her feet, telling her, “I’m sighing at myself?—what are you talking about, you deranged hussy?”
“It’s you who’s all the same, not me.”
“No, it’s you who’s all the same; just look at the state of you; do you honestly think men are fooled by this,” pointing at her red dress.
 “There’s nothing wrong with my tits,” said Helen, and she turned to the shop keeper who was stood holding a shoe in his hand as he followed their debate, rapt and somewhat in awe, as by an unexpected entertainment that had suddenly brightened his usually dull day more than he could have possibly hoped for.
“Do you like my tits?” asked Helen.
The shopkeeper’s head tilted to one side as he appraised her assets, then his eyebrows rose as though indicating that Helen’s tits were perfectly acceptable.
“This is ridiculous,” said Mandy and she pushed passed the scarlet walrus. She noticed one of her shoulder straps was broken and realized this must have happened in their previous scuffle. When she pushed past her, she deliberately broke the other, then quickly limped out of the shop, still carrying her broken-off heel.
Helen, holding the front of her dress in place, stepped to the door and shouted along the street, “You will apologize for sighing at me.”
Forty-two years ago in a town called Perception, a spree of twenty-three murders were allegedly committed by Able Carver. During that summer, of 1944, the town was rampant with speculative tongue-wagging while, day by day, the trial of Carver progressed. At the point when the community’s tongues were at their most athletic, an opinion poll was published in The Perception Daily Chronicle. It reported that twenty percent of the people questioned had a sneaky feeling (and when asked to quantify the degree of their sneaky feeling, they said it was an extremely strong sneaky feeling) that urban stress was the sole cause of mass murder. Five people were questioned and the margin of error in the poll’s results was absolutely gigantic. Nevertheless, as a result of this poll, the Urban Stress Faculty was set up in the town’s university, and Marjory Cogitation was appointed its professor. Her task was to study stress in the community.
Her first breakthrough occurred while conducting experiments on six residents. Stressful states were clinically induced in the group, and vital signs monitored. Nothing unexpected was recorded. But then she accidentally administered an overdose of an hallucinatory drug and the group experienced fatally stressful hallucinations, emitting the most horrendous screams imaginable, followed by a rapid succession of alarmingly violent convulsions, and every member of the group then—mercifully—passed on into death and the immediate onset of rigor mortis. The professor noted that this produced an unusually high level of bowel activity in the laboratory mascot, Percy the goldfish.
After two years of further research, Professor Cogitation published her full findings in a scholarly (and impressively thick) paper. Here’s the concluding section:
Two factors are involved in the production of stress—the Comprehension Factor and the Grumble Factor.
A fall in one factor always leads to a rise in the other. Grumbles are therefore created in a person by a sudden lowering of his Comprehension Factor.
Once created, a Grumble cannot usually be destroyed—a person may only lower his own Grumble Factor by passing on the Grumble to somebody else. The recipient then experiences a rapid drop in his level of Comprehension Factor in order to accommodate his increased Grumble Factor.
Because of this, the level of Grumble Factor in the community (the collective Grumbliness of the population) can only usually increase. But there is one known method of reducing it:
When a Grumble is expressed near to a goldfish, it passes from the person to the fish, undergoes a chemical change within the fish’s gut, induces bowel activity, is then passed out of the fish and decomposes, slowly emitting Comprehension Factor back into the atmosphere.
I conclude that the large-scale deployment of goldfish in any community would reduce the level of Grumble Factor, and thus the urban stress. And since urban stress (as shown by The Perception Daily Chronicle’s opinion poll of two years ago) is the sole cause of mass murder, then it is predicted that this scheme would dramatically reduce the instances of murder in that community. QED.


Fiction and nonfiction by Fletcher Kovich and also classic writers.


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