Quentin

Walker Zupp

Tuesday, 9th May 2010

Dear Peter,

I often wonder what I could have been, if I had put some work in to my relationships, or indeed, where I could have been. That Romanian could have taken me back to her home country and I could have platonic pleasure upon lusty animosity! Then again, I suppose that deep down I’m quite old fashioned: one partner for life, like a bloody swan. Being married isn’t that bad – it’s a bit like having a really good friend being even friendlier, but not through buying you another pint.

We have a new flat in Clourn, in Upper Loxhall along with all the social rejects and lawyers. These days I’m a bit of both, even if they are indeed the same thing. That’s what she says at least. She’s been talking about having a child and I’ve been talking about work and I’m sure that you’re still talking about that Romanian. Few things change, don’t they? I told her that we couldn’t afford it (lying through my teeth naturally) and that we should focus our monetary supply on buying a better bloody house. Balls to the child, and I can say that because there is no child, as far as I know!

Oh yes, bugs. We’re getting the exterminator and the priest in next week to purge and bless the house, not necessarily in that order. Nothing political, I can assure you – it’s all just a precaution. That’s what she says at least. God knows why any old ghost or spirit or Flying Dutchman would want to move in to our little flat in Upper Loxhall. Then again, the insects have. I say more power to them. I like to see some motivation in the undergrowth because frankly, there’s none up here amongst the clouds and the employed. I’ll write to you soon probably, if the woman lets me. She hates you and loves me, I suppose.

Love to Sheila,

Chris

Sunday, 22nd September 2011

Dear Peter,

How are you? I’m sorry I didn’t send one sooner but we’ve been busy with living, I suppose. We’re still in the same house in Upper Loxhall and little has changed apart from my wife’s swelling contempt for me, as if I care. I’m spending more time at the pub and things like that. I don’t have any friends here per say, but I do like the odd bit of inebriated entertainment at The Oak and Pond. It’s not my fault that she’s such a terrible bore.

Don’t you think it’s absolutely disgraceful that men have to pay for everything? They say that it’s some form of masonic code or whatever and that chivalry must persevere, but I can’t stand it. She makes more than me anyway. It’s not like I’m the breadwinner. Oh yes, I lost my job by the way – I was getting to that. She’s pissed off with me, naturally, as I would be. That’s what she says at least.

So much for pest control, bloody things are still running about. There’s all this clambering in the attic; I’m going to go have a look after a drink or two. If anything, they’re having a better time than me.

Love to Sheila always,

Chris

P.S. Maybe I could marry an insect instead.

Wednesday, 21st December 2011

Dear Peter,

I know that I’ve always been a little odd. I’m sure you can vouch for me on that, but you will not believe what I’ve found in the attic. You just won’t and I’m sorry, but I’ve been talking to Quentin.

I will not say any more until you reply to my e-mails.

Chris

Diary Entry – Thursday, 22nd December 2011

I think madness is worth writing down. I must be mad. Quentin is an insect in my attic. He tells me that I should write down our exploits because firstly he can’t write, and secondly, I’m talking to a bloody insect. He says that he likes me. Isn’t that great? I should be worried if he doesn’t, given that he is about the same size as a labrador. He has an emerald complexion and a beetle-like appearance. He talks as well as anyone does in Clourn and that is saying a lot given that he’s a bug. Oh sorry, Skarabo, as he calls himself

I first met him on a Sunday, when I figured that the only way to cope with the exterminator’s shoddy efforts was to get up there myself. I looked around but it was silent and clean, apart from a greasy substance, which was plastered on and up the wall in the far right corner. As I started to clean it off, I heard a voice say, ‘You are gonna’ be rumbled, my friend’. I looked behind me and directly above the solitary light bulb, was Quentin. Beautiful Quentin. Mind you, I jumped about 5 feet back at the time. He went on to say, ‘Tidings of joy Chris. I didn’t mean to frighten you like that. Wouldn’t you do the same thing if some queer folk came about and messed up your living room?’ I suppose I would. What struck me was how welcoming he was and immediately I ignored the eldritch exterior of his body. ‘Sit down’, he said, ‘I’ll get you something to drink.’ A glass of water was handed to me and he proceeded to tell his story.

Quentin is a Skarabo, which is Esperanto for ‘Beetle’: a label, which he apparently dislikes. He is the last of an intelligent race of insects, originally based in the caves of Afghanistan. He is fluent in over 20 languages and/or dialects, including Esperanto, which was the native language of his “people”. After excessive oil drilling and warfare destroyed the roof supports for his city, or “Urbo”, most of the Skarabo were wiped out, with the secret police or “Ombroj” moving to even deeper catacombs. These were strictly government property and ordinary citizens were not permitted to share in the safety. Quentin does not wish to say how he came to be in Upper Loxhall. Go figure.

Diary Entry – Wednesday, 26th December 2011

It’s been a rather compromised Christmas but that is expected with my wife. I now know why wives are called “the ball and chain”. I went to see Quentin upon his invitation ‘for a drink’. I’m telling my wife that it’s a real travesty in the attic and that I need to clean. There’s just no pleasing women, I find. Then again, I am lying through my teeth.

‘Hello there Chris’, he said, ‘Take a seat’. There was only one glass on the floor. Then again, I don’t know what insects do for recreation. Quentin peeled himself off the black phlegm in the corner and joined me in the centre of the room. He asked me how my Christmas Day went and I replied, ‘It was fine, I suppose. Didn’t get a lot done but I think that’s the point? My wife doesn’t care for frugal men. In that area, I must fail completely for her!’ I laughed, but Quentin was silent for a moment. He seemed to look up at the lone light bulb for a second of reflection with his antennae tingling, but then he talked: ‘That’s a real shame Chris. I had a wife myself, once upon a time. Had some kids too. Don’t have kids, Chris. Believe me, they are not worth the money or the time spent on them.’ I knew exactly what he meant. He went on: ‘There is nothing worse than others disagreeing with you, am I wrong? Your people spend hours doing that, don’t they? You’ve had two World Wars, several massacres and corruption everywhere, but you’ve made some great stuff. My people never had any of that – the Skarabo were the most peaceful people who ever lived. That’s probably why the roof collapsed.’ One of his legs extended over to my glass as he was talking; ‘Too much niceness is not a nice thing and the only way to cope with that schism of thought, is with this.’ A black liquid came out of the end of his leg and filled the glass half way. I looked at it for a moment.

‘I wouldn’t call it a drug,’ he said, ‘I’d say that it’s more of a prodigious awakening’. I asked him what it did and he said that it would broaden my mind. What a pleasant prospect. I took a few sips and ended up drinking the whole lot. Upon that experience today, I have decided to keep Quentin a special place in my schedule, for it is Quentin who I love.

Tuesday, Friday 1st January 2012

Dear Chris,

I’m so sorry that I haven’t been replying to your e-mails – been a bit busy frankly! Sorry about the job and I’m sure your marriage will look up. It’s always a bit rocky in the beginning mate. You guys ought to go on holiday; that’s what Sheila and I did. I tell you, a little Maltese air fixes everything!

That all said, what have you found in the attic? Who’s Quentin? He wasn’t in the attic, I hope!? If you found an old gun, I have a friend who could help you out; he lives in London, but I’m sure that you can cope with driving down there. Either that, or you could give it to Quentin. He sounds knowledgeable. Sheila sends all her love, but she would, wouldn’t she?

Peter

Diary Entry – Sunday, 10th January 2012

Thank God that my wife has a job, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to indulge myself as much as I do in the old attic. Let’s see what the recent excuses have been…broken windows, broken floorboards, internet reception (that was actually true), rats, bugs, strange neighbours and the ever hopeful, ‘I just need to go and think somewhere.’ Genius. All lies, but it’s worth it for Quentin. Everyday, I go up there and drink a glass of his body-brew. He told me today that it was actually a delicacy of his civilisation. ‘Same time tomorrow?’ he asks, to which I always reply, ‘Indeed, good sir!’ I feel like a goddamn junkie, but this is far superior to heroin or anything like that. It’s just plain good. I don’t know what it is and I don’t care either.

Also, there is the polite conversation, which ensues after he has expelled ample juice from his left leg. We have discussed a manner of subjects like science, sex (that was difficult) and people in general. I told him that I used to be a lawyer and he replied with the following: ‘In my society, lawyers are recognised from birth and immediately placed in jail. They’re condemned from birth so-to-speak, and what better lawyer to have than a criminal itself? They still make a fair amount of money doing their thing, but it all goes to the Ombroj who patrol the streets. They’re no different from your secret agents; the only difference is that they actually are unknown. That’s why they’re called “Shadows”; just doing their job, Chris.’  I wish I were a bug. That would be great.

The subject then changed to serious matters, as far as Quentin was concerned. I asked if I could introduce him to my wife. Maybe he could revitalise my marriage, I thought. ‘What’, he replied, ‘No. You must never tell anyone about me, Chris. I don’t want to know people. I don’t want to spoil my view of humans, you know what I mean?’ His antennae were rattling and he seemed disturbed. I asked him why – ‘I just don’t want to.’

‘Well there must be a reason.’

‘I just don’t want to, alright?’

‘I’m sure my wife would be open about it—’

‘Leave it Chris! I said no damn it.’

I decided to leave him alone. I feel like I hurt his feelings today. We’re meeting the same time tomorrow, but it might be awkward.

Monday, 11th January 2012

Dear Peter,

Quentin was just someone I met at the pub. He’s a malleable sort of fellow, if you know what I mean – simple. He’s a good bloke though. Not much going on here but still, good to hear from you.

Chris

Diary Entry – Wednesday, 2nd April 2012

I have increased the dosage of Quentin’s juice. I use the word “dosage” because it is indeed a drug. He filled two more bottles for me this afternoon and then said that he needed to rest for a while. At this rate, I’m drinking about a litre of the stuff every week, not that much in the long run. I can’t stand drinking booze anymore either. What a terrifying thought. I wonder how much further removed I can get from myself – God help me if I start being polite to my wife. At that point, I shall have to quit the juice, for all will be lost.

I wouldn’t say that I’m obscenely terrible to her. I do not want an obsequious relationship either. It just happens. Why do children bang their cutlery on the bloody table? I don’t know – good thing I don’t have children. I get particularly grumpy if I haven’t had my dosage for the day. I feel limp yet tight and delirious yet completely sober. It is a bizarre feeling. Combine this with my employable wife (for I am unemployable) and one has an interesting concoction – almost as interesting as Quentin’s, but not really. We’re just like two hamsters in a cage: we don’t know what to do with ourselves. Well, she doesn’t at least.

Diary Entry – Thursday, 21st April 2012

CRISIS THIS MORNING – THANK GOD SHE WAS OUT OF THE HOUSE. After my wife left for work this morning, I lulled around drinking Quentin’s body – brew for a few hours and getting generally high. After going for a run, I had a shower. Just as I was shaving in the raw, I heard the front door open as swiftly as it shut, a scramble up the stairs and an apparent struggle outside. ‘My God,’ I thought, for the attic access was adjacent to the bathroom. I wrapped a towel around myself and burst out of my steamy den, only to find the intruder wrangling with Quentin. Beautiful Quentin. I was knocked aside at one point by the scrappy insect, as the intruder flung him across the hallway. Bad move. Quentin launched back and locked his mandibles around the man’s neck. As the head was more or less torn off, one could hear the vocal cords being pushed to their limit, until silence was achieved and the body tumbled to the ground. To say that I was angry is putting it lightly. ‘What the hell is going on?’ I screamed at him. Quentin seemed to look up for a moment and then he pounced on me.

‘DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS?’

‘Know about what?’

‘THIS. RIGHT NOW.’

‘Quentin, I don’t know what’s going on, I’ve never seen that man before!’

Quentin stopped for a moment and then retreated. He looked up at me slowly and said, ‘You think is a bloke?’ I nodded and awaited further wisdom.

‘Well you’re wrong,’ he said, ‘This is an agent of the Ombroj branch. The secret police, Chris, remember?’ As he was speaking, the man’s body appeared to dissolve, leaving behind a battered beetle. I asked Quentin what an Ombroj could possibly want with him. ‘I don’t know Chris. You tell me,’ he said. ‘Well, he must have wanted you’, I replied, ‘I mean, he was pretty gung-ho to get up here’. Quentin was pacing around the ceiling as insects do, until he said, ‘Chris, have you been keeping my body-brew in your fridge? If you have, you’re an idiot because that’s what they want for Christ’s sakes!’

‘Oh, oh, I’m sorry, I did so much wrong Quentin! You just decapitated a man in the hallway, there’s blood everywhere and my wife is coming home in three hours!  Yes, I put your bloody juice the fridge, but I don’t supply it, do I!?’

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’

‘Quentin, I get it. You get people high and when your bug police or whatever the hell they are get too close, you scram, don’t you? What’s even better is that you’re about as subtle as hardcore pornography, which, as a matter of fact, has dominated my life because of your juice!’

Quentin was clearly offended. He slowly crawled down the wall, back to the oak flooring. ‘Have you ever seen a human overdose on my stuff?’ he said calmly. I was silent. I was too angry to reply. ‘It’s hilarious’, he continued, ‘They run around the room screaming until their ears bleed out. I find it funny. I’ll spike you and the little lady if this happens again. Put some clothes on for Christ’s sakes.’

What a day. What a wonderful day. I cleaned up the mess. Quentin went back up to the attic with the dust and the old chairs and the one window. I sat downstairs and got thoroughly high, considering how little time I had before she came home. We had an argument. It just ended a minute ago.

Tuesday, 9th May 2012

I’m very tired today. I don’t know why. I’ve been trying to quit Quentin’s love-potion but I just can’t. It’s been a few days since my last dose and I’m already craving. This is hell. Total bloody hell. The sun is out.

Saturday, 13th May 2012

Quentin is dead. I found him this morning in the attic, after going up to try to apologise. He was by the window, just sitting there as if he was waiting for something. He was almost slumped like a small human body, a rag-doll perhaps, which hadn’t been touched in years. His antennae were flaccid and drooped around his damp jaws. I looked around for a break-in point, but it seemed as though he killed himself, or allowed himself to die. He never told me his age. ‘My only friend in the world is dead’, I thought to myself, but then I realised that he probably never liked me. It was a beautiful lie, I suppose. Catherine is at work right now, I hope she comes back soon.

Saturday, 20th June 2013

Dear Chris,

I’m sorry that it’s come to this, I really am. Catherine is going to be staying with us indefinitely, until she finds a decent flat. I heard that your meeting with the lawyer didn’t go that well – I don’t blame you to be honest. Mind you, she still refuses to apologise for the slap. I know that the, “Good for her”, grain of your mind might be dormant at this point in time, but take it lightheartedly, if you can – she didn’t mean it.

As far as her decision is concerned, the reasons are plain: apparently, you were never there. I don’t really know what she means, but I do agree that you can only clean the attic so many times. I imagine it must be sparkling by now.

Once she moves out, I think we ought to get together again and have a drink. Maybe just a coffee. It’s all up to you really.

Your friend always,

Peter

 

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