If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that it’s impossible to ever sit around feeling content for any given period of time before some arsehole with a briefcase appears on the horizon, approaches from a distance and comes to fuck it all up. The villain of the piece in this case was a man named Carl Brooks (he told us several times saying “My name is Brooks: Carl Brooks,” in that embarrassing Bond fashion.) First I saw his old brown car wheedling down the street like a terrier looking for a place to leave a puddle of oil; then finally he stopped at the aunts’ house and got out, which is when I first got an eyeful of his woeful brownish plaid polyester suit and two-tone shoes (though both of the tones were brown). Brooks tripped merrily in this ill-boding fashion all of the way down the shingle drive and rang the doorbell, which was probably the first time a man had come to the door since 1953. As he stood on the stoop going from one foot to the other as though he was preparing for a race, the suit creaked and his heart was going pat-pat-pat against the stiff front of the shirt and sounded like a frog in a box.
Of course the aunts are lovely old ducks and invited the vile body in to stuff him with tea & clock biscuits, as old aunts are always wont to do: while Aunt Olga was sniffing and showing him to the parlour, Aunt Tatiana was scrambling to remove his coat, and Aunt Stacy was no where to be seen having had shot of the entire male population of the earth back in 1953.
Now as he was making his clammy introductions, I couldn’t help but stare at the suit.
“I see you’re admiring my suit,” said Brooks.
“Yes, I really can’t help staring,” said I.
“Naturally,” said Brooks (Carl Brooks). “This is a very special suit indeed… It’s made entirely of polyester, which is indispensable and indestructible.”
“It needs to be seen to be believed,” I agreed.
“In fact, this suit is fade-proof, stain-proof and wrinkle-proof, which is to say it’s wash-free and iron-free, housework-free and ultimately, he he he he…”(he had started laughing as he was about to make a little joke and wanted you to know that it was coming) “Woman-free!”
At this the old aunts all stared at him, uncomprehending. Finally Aunt Olga said, “Well, I have to admit it is a painfully unattractive suit, only it’s hard to understand why you would consider that a virtue.”
“Ye-es,” he went on. “When you have a suit like this, well, just imagine all of the money that you save on soap-suds and the like! You can stand them up side by side in your wardrobe and save money on coat-hangers! And they never wear and they never fade, so as long as you keep your figure – well I mean there have been cases where a man with such a fine suit has never had to buy another suit again in his life!”
I confess I was intrigued despite myself. “But what would happen if you were to get, say, incredibly fat? You would have to buy another suit? Or do they just stretch out? Or can you stick two of them together?”
“Not so!” said Mr. Brooks with real glee. “That is when all of the men in the Indispensible, Indestructible suit get together. I can tell you unofficially that they all get together every five years or so and hit the beano, really let loose, paint the town, you might say. Anyway, the law of statistics says that if you get together for beano every five years or so, some men who were once thin will now be fat, and some who were once fat will have taken to slimming with chocolate flavoured meal replacement bars, so these men simply switch suits. For the sake of convenience, these suits can be stacked like swap cards!”
“But surely Mr. Brooks,” said Aunt Olga, looking at him with love, “You are not here simply to talk about suits. Surely there are topics to which men and women are better suited.” (She was making puns as awful as the suit itself and trying to get around to the word suitor.)
“N-n-o,” he admitted, not sure what the purr in her voice was supposed to intend. “No, I regret I did not come here to talk about suits at all.” He looked around and wiped his palms on the backside of his woman-free suit trousers. Silence.
“Well my dears,” said the ardent suitor at last. As it transpired he was from the Council. (Of course he was. In a suit like that.) Apparently they had for years been receiving letters of complaint about living conditions signed ‘The League of Rats and Mice,’ (“Your neighbours complain of being treated like vermin…”) and full of testimonials such as “I live with my parents and great grandparents and brothers and sisters and have ten bastard children with another lot on the way, and am writing to tell you that our Verminous Hole is being taken over by frogs,” (“-Foreigners-” Brooks clarified) “And there’s been a 3 cent increase of the price of cheese…” in that Herald Scum way. And when after decades of inactivity Mr. Brooks was finally obliged to look into the case, he found that the aunts had in fact not paid any council rates since 1953. And so, because it was the kind of fellow he was, he had felt it was necessary to bring the bill to them by hand and to inform them personally that if they couldn’t come up with the money by next Thursday (it came to about a million dollars with interest and late payment fees), then the council was entitled to purchase their house for the nominal sum of – he he he – one dollar, which he took out of his pocket (with some difficulty, the pants were so tight) and then laid in the centre of the coffee table, as if for effect.
“Frankly the house is a monstrosity,” he added when he saw their faces. “You should be glad when we bomb it.”