"A Book Store on The Strand" by Farelle Blaine (2012)
An Original Work of Fiction
The place is London, on The Strand. The year is 1921. Five men find themselves in front of the kind of bookstore that is rare now and soon will be gone forever. Each has his own reason for being in front of the store now. Three of the men are there alone. Two are together.
Ruffington and Michael have known each other since their days at Cambridge when they had rooms down the hall from each other. Twenty years have gone by, one has married and had children and the other has not. The man in the darker suit is the well known, almost notorious Ruffington Bousweau. His guide book Ruffy's The Manly Mediterranean: Any Port in A Storm is still considered must reading by many. Prince Youseff and the then Prince Alexander both carried copies when they cruised the Adriatic in a show of Russian Naval might. Marcel Proust said "Ruffy is the only Englishmen in whose company I will bath." His companion is Michael O'Marley, from an old Anglo-Irish family, hated since the Cromwell days. When asked what he did for a living by the Irish Times, he said, "I don't". He has done his duty by the family and sired two heirs. He is an expert on Bengali erotica and hedge row badgers. The three years he spent on his uncle's tea plantation in Northern Indian were "the only time I was ever happy".
Ralph Gladenough was once the English Counsel Officer to Tangiers. He is at the book store as when circumstances forced him make a poorly planned withdrawal from Tangiers he left behind his treasured copy of Ruffy's The Manly Mediterranean: Any Port in A Storm and is hoping to find a copy. He asks the clerks for it and gets a blank look and is told if they have it then he can find it on the stands in front of the store. Ruffy's The Manly Mediterranean: Any Port in A Storm is the only book he read since being asked to leave Oxford in his senior year, twenty three years ago.
John Ardiale, with the umbrella and empty rucksack he is never without, speaks constantly but sadly it is not in any known human language. He is supported by a small pension he received from injuries while serving in the Boer War. He lives with his niece and her husband who record as best they can all he says as they have been told by A. E. Waite of the Order of the Golden Dawn that he was driven mad when he saw with two eyes what only can be seen with three.
Next to him, bending over, is the director of the London society for the Suppression of Smut (the SOS) as he got a report they were selling copies of Ruffy's The Manly Mediterranean: Any Port in A Storm. He is a solicitor and is married to his school sweet heart, Reolda (Peaches) Le Fleir. His name is Arthur Faddington and his friends, assuming he has some, call him Mr Faddington.
Ralph leaves the book store in despair and pops in next door at the Bend Me Over the Barrel, a favorite pub for Cambridge men since the days of The Plague. "Barmen, bring me the lunch special". "What brings you here governor, I do not recall seeing you before". "I was hoping to get a copy at the bookstore next door of The Manly Mediterranean: Any Port in A Storm. "My God, man you will not believe your luck but the author and his good friend have lunch here almost every day". "Oh no, how do I look-egggh-where is the comfort room." "Oh and don't be alarmed if a strange man comes in talking gibberish and sits next to you. He, like my Pops, is a veteran of the Boer war so we stand him lunch now and again".
"Good day sir, how may I help you. I see you have a very large bag of books from next door". "Yes I just purchased 50 copies of The Manly Mediterranean: Any Port in A Storm so we can burn them at our next meeting." "Oh No, just what this place needs!"
"Whi, Pum wirr whaxavo zo usuaxar runst zaxants se vust bel yeep gictnopt" "Sure, mate just have a seat and your lunch will be right out".
"Pardon me, but I could not help but overhear you might have a spare copy of The Manly Mediterranean: Any Port in A Storm. I have been looking all over London for a copy and will pay your your price for one"- "Sure allow me to introduce myself, I am Mr Faddington, director of SOS and I will certainly not sell you or anyone else a copy of that awful book". "Hey governor", says the pub keeper, "keep you voice down less you offend Ruffy". "What you mean "offend Ruffy"". "He and Mr O'Marley will be along for lunch shortly".
"Vupp waxait pit vemonk caxan zaxat loi ox fo 100 Baxaghtickten vupp erd cemmaxactol blem Faddington"-"OK just wait lunch is on its way".
"I say you idiot quit staring at the picture of my wife that I always keep in my wallet. You are not fit to gaze on her".
For the first time in fifteen years John Airdale speaks in the voice of his youth when he took a first at Eton in many a debate contest. He screams out "You mean you married Peaches Le Fleur whose exquisite birching techniques brought me and my friends, Ruffy and Michael, all to our first orgasms. How it much be heaven to bare your bottom for the attentions of that goddess. Is her fee still one Quid with a free look thrown in?" He reaches in his pocket and puts five quid on the table and says "summon her to my quarters at once" and keep a 1/2 of quid for your trouble. "I assure you my good fellow you have my wife confuses with some cheap school boy tart and if you were in your right mind I would give you a good thrashing".
Ruffy and Michael have over heard much of this conversation and know Mr Faddington is head of S O S. Both come to the table, bare their bottoms and in a perfect imitation of the cockney docks voice of Peaches, scream out in unison "OK boys who wants to be first! Ruffy and Michael shall I alternate swats on your ends so you can see who will orgasm first?-yes of course a gentlemen can pay afterwards". Mr Faddington beats a hasty retreat throwing his money down on the table vowing never to return.
Thus ends the S O S and John Airdale is restored to sanity.
The next time Mr Faddington returns to the pub he requests he be brought a cushion to sit on. Soon the Bend Me Over the Barrel is his second home. He and John are now "Johnny and Art" and once and a while Johnny needs a pillow also. The ex-counsel officer to Tangiers was never see in the pub again. Peaches, with the full approval of her husband, has gone back on a part time basis to her old trade only now she practices in Mayfair Mansions and Ruffy and Michael along with Johnny are frequent visitors at their home. She happily speaks with the Cockney accent she was raised with and once and a while some people say even Mr Faddington can be heard to speak it also, though not well.
Farelle Blaine (Prince Edwards Island, 2012)
I have no official biography on this writer but I thought the story, though not to every taste, but what is, was worth publishing