Marbles and Cards, evil necessities
Friends are the world’s great evil necessity. They annoy. They irate. They are there when you don’t want them, but more often than not, sadly I have to admit, that is when you need them the most.
“Art! Anyone home in there?”
But that does not give them the right to ambush your daydreams? Does it? Friends might be needed but they have to respect privacy too don’t they?
“I don’t give a crusty nipple if you hear me or not, we’re going to drag you out of this hole of yours anyway.”
But I digress, I was telling a story.
One faithful Friday evening, the sweet and happily married couple of Marbles and Cards, my two best friends, well to be honest, my only two friends, kicked the door open to my bookshop as I my mind, body and soul were concentrating on a weird insect in the space between Mobile Discoveries, a History, and Moby Dick. It did me much just to look at it, I remember now as it resembled, in my head, what Kafka’s bug looked like. It had a face, in my opinion, so like mine. I was so enamoured. So enthralled- “Anyone in that vacant space! That sad excuse for a head of yours!” -how rude.
“Come on. There’s more to this world than that… what is that,” Marbles, the girl of the couple chimed in, “Whatever, It’s time to wake up, Art!”
Marbles was a small stout woman whose eyes lit up whenever she was mad like, you guessed it. With her was a burly broad shouldered man, who had a squarish torso, he very much resembled, yes, you guessed it. The couple owned a hobby shop three blocks from my own shop named, yup, that’s another point for you.
It was a strange phenomenon, all us small shop owners had a unique clique that met every third Sunday afternoon of the month in the Church activity centre to talk about staying alive and staying in business in the cruel 21st century. We were a dying breed, so the speakers said, with all the high rise, state of the art, super-multi-mega-shopping complexes going up. That’s how I met Marbles and Cards. I didn’t even want to go to that meeting but the landlord strongly emphasized that I must learn how to pay the rent or I’m out on the streets. So I went and listen to them go one by one to the podium and sell their sob stories like an Alcoholics Anonymous session. I promised myself I’d go as soon as there was a lull in the creepy-weepy monologues and as soon as there was, I darted to the door but was lured in by the smell of coffee. And living up to the stereotype, I went and made myself a cup. Book lovers are coffee lovers by heart, that’s why we stay in cafes. That’s when the shadow of Cards and the jiggle of marbles intruded my beloved private space. Thinking back, I guess they pitied me cuddled all alone near the snack bar whilst a very emphatic pet shop owner barked this and that about commercial dog breeding; that’s why Marbles in her usual cheery self, asked if I had a specialty shop that sold especially designed nooses made specifically for the act of suicide, and I asked why, and she said because I looked so gloomy and so lonely. I told her I sold books.
That’s how I came about my very own personal necessary evil and how Marbles and Cards adopted a bookworm as a pet. We have been a trio ever since. We went out every Friday, and hung out during the slow weekdays. We were Marbles, Cards, and Art. But to Cards, four always seemed to be a better number than three. Go figure. So the merry couple made it their number one purpose in life to match me up to fill in our missing group member. Once there was Marbles, Cards, Noodles and Art. Then there was Marbles, Cards, Marilyn Monroe and Art. And the last one was Marbles, Cards, Poodle, yes the emphatic pet shop owner mentioned earlier was named Poodle, and Art. So every Friday we’d go out with another of their dying shop owner friends and every Saturday I had the distinct displeasure of having to make a phone call to a girl, saying in a multitude of creative yet totally sincere ways that I was so sorry, I wasn’t just that in to her but it she doesn’t have to worry, it wasn’t her, it was in all honesty me. Annoying. Why do friends always want you to be a so-called better person? Why are friends never just satisfied with who you are? Isn’t that what friendship is all about?
“It’s Friday!” Cards boomed out, “You’re coming with us even if I have to pull you by the balls!” They didn’t quit very easily. That’s what you call dedication; at least, they have that.
And finally I pretended to wake up from my pretend stupor. “Okay. Where are we going tonight?”
“We’re going to the theatre.” And somehow, I knew things would go wrong. If this was a work of fiction, this is what you’d call a turn where the hero, a.k.a me, would fall in-love, meet his arch nemesis, and go his jolly way without knowing he, from the very beginning had a tragic flaw. That would completely and unquestionably lead him to his demise.
Maybe it was my imagination, but the Kafka-bug nodded and laughed.