Between December 2017 and January 2018, I planned and wrote a short story, called The Society. I wanted to write something that would be inherently fun and interesting to read, attempting to construct rhythmic, unorthodox sentences, and this made the story quite fun to write. Having received very helpful feedback throughout the writing process, the story underwent numerous revisions, but the final version can be read below. Be warned, though, that there is a fair amount of foul language...
“Comment ça va, you pompous prick?” Such an ornate gentleman, dressed in the most decorative of dinner party garments – the kind in which I’d often distinguish myself, you see. He was donning a checked three-piece in the classic purple-black combo, some slick derbies and the old homburg to boot. A right classy fellow, says I, though I didn’t appreciate the non-vino he spilt all over my winkle pickers.
I am, however, aware of the possibility that the old ‘one-two’ may have become more of the old ‘ad infinitum,’ so to speak. In fact, signs are currently pointing to this lad being of the deceased variety. Perhaps, if anyone actually cared about him, their tears could clean my sodding boots. No matter, though, as victory is ours – as always – and I must now bid farewell to my dearest associates. “Good evening, good night, and I shall return upon the morrow, chaps!” With that quip, I was met with the Cunning Company’s accustomed adieu.
“Fare thee well, Rex. Another victory on the morrow!” Dex has always been my right-hand gent, and speaking of hands, he’s good with them. Mighty dandy, in fact, if you were to ask yours truly.
“And at the stipulated time, I presume?” Max is our pocket panzer, playing the whole reserved routine until the time’s good and proper. Few see him or his grin coming, but those who do aren’t granted the privilege called life.
“Oui, oui,” says the cavalry. As a trio, we frequent the Gentleman’s Disagreement Society, the parfait place for merriments and self-betterment, so to speak. Fine folk of our recreational inclination engage in a tango, of sorts, with the fancy footwork set to our own rhythm. With our tempo, I suppose our jig’s more ‘jive’ than ‘tango,’ but allow me to express some clarity – the Society is no discotheque. Besides, the marble floor often gets a tad slippery from all the merlot, and no gent wants to be caught stacking it mid-show.
Tonight’s showing was of the classic cut, with a duo of dandies prancing in the shelter of their bullish frontman. Fortunately, being the mighty matadors we are, we’ve been trained in the art of bullfighting. Indeed, one strong opponent may best one of us, but the Cunning Company is a threesome. A juggling act was all it took to topple their trump card, and a flurry of biffs to clean up the mess. That was it, really, and I ventured thence whither else but a delectable dish of bangers and mash, awaiting me at my spot at the dinner table. Parfait, indeed.
“Solid combo there, Rob.”
“Cheers, man. Saw it used yesterday, so I thought I’d learn it.”
“Ah, right. Fair enough…”
It’s the subsequent evening and we have assembled once again in the lobby, three eager beavers with our paws at the ready. Naturally, it couldn’t be an evening on the prowl without the suitable attire. Upon our enrolment, we decided upon gold and purple regalia, quel j’adore. Bowlers sit atop our bonces and masques conceal our mugs from those who don’t deserve the pleasure of seeing them. We agreed upon matching pinstripe waistcoats and slim-fit trousers, with leather gloves and winkle picker boots, but we felt it best to allow for some creative liberty, as they say. Dex keeps it classy with a dashing dinner jacket, and Max is rather keen on accentuating his shoulders with that pea coat of his. As sharp as my squad mates may be, my style is peerless. None, you see, can keep their composure once they witness the grandeur of my opulent overcoat.
“Time,” stated Dex, “is not a renewable resource, mes amis. I don’t recall either of you fine fucking fellows requesting an adjournment to the eve’s main event.” As gentlemanly as we three are, and I do say that we are very much so, Dex can be rather vexed when our ponctualité isn’t so pristine.
“And I don’t recall permitting such pissing profanity. Max and I saw it fit to satiate our appetites, sir, and we did thusly.”
“Indeed, and a fantastique feast it was.” Max then expelled one of those extended exhalations that scarcely resembled a laugh, which I found to be rather insincere.
“You uncultured swine wouldn’t know fine dining from a foetid mass of faecal mat–.”
“Right, right,” I interjected, “and when do we cease the hostility, mes copains?” I’m not too keen on this bickering, you see. Our show is the sort that suffers from a lack of synergy, and that will not do.
“D’accord. Nevertheless, I won’t be accepting your feeble excuses next time, gents.”
“Righty-ho, chaps. Let’s get to it, shall we?” And thence we strolled, dapper and chipper, three day-trippers, keen for the evening’s amusements. We’d have given some of the current participants a look-see, had we not incurred the displeasure of a certain Dex. Instead, we wandered forthwith to the cockpit, where we were greeted, appropriately, by three uncouth cocks. Might I say, never in my time in the Society have I witnessed such ghastly garb. I commend the commitment to the cause, as their senses of style were all equally atrocious, with matching “uniforms” in the loosest sense of the term. Their trousers were fashioned from denim, cheap, tattered and littered with holes, with the fabric protruding tempestuously from the tears. Their gloves were deprived of digits, such that I’d consider them redundant, and their footwear was inappropriate for a gentlemanly dispute. Furthermore, not only were their crania uncovered, but their jackets lacked buttons, instead fastened by zips. These plebs have no place in the Society, and thus it is our duty to eradicate such vulgarity.
“Oh, shit… Just knocked my glass over…”
“Wow… Nice one, Matt…”
“Yeah, good job…”
High above the stage hangs a marvellous bell, the kind that usually calls for the commencement of another hour. This one, however, has no regard for time, but will only chime again once the claret stops flying. With the ring of the bell, the Cunning Company provided the most gentlemanly gesture of a bow and a beckon, then manoeuvring to our predetermined positions. Usually, I stride slowly to the front, a peacock parading my feathers, awaiting my admirers, so to speak. Meanwhile, Dex circles clockwise from behind, tempting our targets to either follow suit or oppose our approach. Max hangs back, circling clockwise until the flock is herded, primed for a pincer attack. Having employed this routine procedure, our prey took a nibble at the bait, circling clockwise under our spell.
“Bonsoir, and welcome to our realm, you wretched rats.” I provided a provocation, just to sweeten their smiles, only for Dex to spot some signs of foul play.
“You’d best discard those knuckle dusters, swine, else we’ll ram them so far up your recta that you’ll be spitting them out.”
“They’re not banned, you know.” This lad’s voice was nearly as infantile as his rather foetal facial features, and I wasn’t fond of his ungentlemanly vocabulary, either. “We’re not dropping them, so you posh twats will have to take ‘em from us.”
“Well, then,” I replied, with my manners intact. “If it’s a slaughter you seek–“
Suddenly, and swimmingly, Max flew forth from my right to give this cretin’s collar a warm embrace, so to speak. As swiftly as he was greeted with the floor, our new friend provided our dance with a percussive beat. The sod’s skull made a magnificent sound against the marble, and it wasn’t too long before the limbs ceased their feral flailing. Dex and I, however, had already begun our scrap with the other scoundrels. As dangereux as dusters may be, these lads couldn’t land a single swing. The fellow I was facing seemed to be sweet on slower tempos, as he couldn’t quite keep up with mine. Dex wasn’t giving his acquaintance much time to breathe, let alone fancy his chances of trying anything. With a catch of the leg, my chum took a topple and I gave him a helping hand or two, right after I’d familiarised his face with my favourite footwear. Dex’s friend didn’t need much assistance to reach the ground, but Dex didn’t seem intent on stopping when he did. Once the grunts and gargles had ceased, and the puddles of Malbec were reaching our knees, we rose to our feet with yet another victory to our names.
“Jolly good show, lads. Jolly good, indeed.” I was more than content with our delightful display, with the harmony of a choir and the grace of a ballet. “Parfait.”
“I concur, and Max’s entrance was particularly punctual ce soir.”
“That it was, Dex.” I could almost hear Max’s grin tear his cheeks, and I could certainly hear an appreciative exhalation from his vicinity. “Now, chaps. Another round?”
“Oui, oui,” says the cavalry, and we left the show floor momentarily, as the sea of scarlet required a solid scrub. If the Society were to operate under the eyes of the law, our performance certainly wouldn’t have been so fertile with the flow of red, nor would it have been so magnifique. Fortunately, our creative liberty is respected under this roof, hence our feeling of belonging within these walls.
“Christ, guys… Were those scrubs the same rank as us?”
“Uh… Yeah, looks like it…”
“Who the fuck did they fight to get that far? Like… It feels like they literally just started…”
Upon our reappearance, we found ourselves face-to-face with a tremendously trendy trio. It was rather pleasant to be able to glance at them without our eyes melting in their sockets, and I certainly applaud their style. While they were lacking in colour, as well as any shade but black, their matching trench coats, chinos, fedoras and, above all, winkle pickers were a sight for sore eyes, such as ours. It was haunting, however, that their hands were hidden behind their backs, and they seemed to already be in formation. The bell chimed, and après a gesture we began our typical technique, the others circling round as I stepped forwards. This time, the sorry saps remained stationary.
“I can’t decide upon whether or not to greet you, chaps, as I can’t say I’ve ever said ‘bonsoir’ to a stat–“ It was then that, somehow, the fellow at the front darted towards me with a speed surpassing that of a sprinter on steroids. I noticed, in the moment that I had to react, that he brandished a blade, and I got a much closer look at it as it kissed me on the cheek. As I leapt backwards, I realised that the others had engaged in a frolic of fisticuffs, except victory didn’t seem as clear cut as usual. Quite the shock, that was, as we’d found ourselves on a considerable streak thus far, and rarely facing any resistance.
There was Dex, fists in the familiar flurry, and yet he seemed caught in his playmate’s pattern, his dinner jacket resembling a colander, and it almost seemed as if juice was flowing through the perforations. In fact, he suddenly seemed sluggish, and as I witnessed him slipping on his own claret and into the Great Beyond, I felt the bitter bite of a blade as it punctured my posterior. The persistent piercing ceased after the sixth stab, and I heard the prick being pulled away, assumedly by my surviving sidekick. I wasn’t quite getting the ocular operations I was accustomed to, with every motion a blur, and a distinct dearth of detail. While light was leaving me, Max darted into view, and I stared as he struggled to withstand the wild onslaught of slashes. And with that, I bade my comrades a farewell.
“Did they just…? Like, did they…?”
“Wait, guys, I’m not dead yet… Wait… Alright, I’m dead.”
“Scumbags, man. Who the fuck uses fucking knives?”
“I know, right?”
“Like, they take no skill, are really overpowered, and, like… Yeah…”
“I mean… We could play something else for a bit, right?”
“I guess… What, though?”
“Uh… It’s been a while since we played… What’s it called, Rob?”
“Uh… Sure, I guess.”
“Fair enough… It just sucks…”
“Well, it’s not like we can’t play it again. Like, I spent twenty quid on that.”
“Yeah, yeah… Just, like, not tonight.”
“Sure. So, same positions as last time, lads?”