Dolores Windemere had always been poor, so she had to schlep her laundry to the bus stop and thence to the laundromat, where she sat staring into space as her clothes went round and round; people thought she was a highfalutin snob too proud to talk to them, but she was merely unitasking, because she had read multitasking is bad for you, and there she would sit until the haphazard shaking and bouncing of the cheap machines made her get up to go see that her clothes were still in one piece
Jack Hardshaw worked so hard at his job for the bank that he often lunched al desko, but it made him feel gauche when an underling from one of the branches met with him to solve some business imbroglio and he had to clear away the plates and wrappings from his meal, often leaving niveous drifts of salt on his desk.
Caspar Milquetoast was accused of robbing a bank by getting inside after hours and carrying bags of cash out the unused retral entrance into the alley, after which the community shunned him, but he had some steadfast friends who worked to prove his innocence: at last they found the exculpatory evidence that freed him and convicted Horace Schmidt, his exact double.
After first conducting their conspiracies to overthrow the government in great secrecy, sotto voce in restaurants and by coded messages, all the while detailing to one another how they would return the state to the original vision of the founders, once the putsch happened the coupists proceeded to grimthorpe their new regime with brute enthusiasm, it soon becoming clear that they construed the nature and purposes of the state very differently from most originalists.
After a man was found dead in North Dakota with strange fine hairs and pincer marks around his mouth, investigations eventually led to the discovery of a top secret base on the other side of the Canadian border and a US-Government-funded experiment that had produced soft-bodied sericeous moth-like creatures grown to enormous size, which had got loose somehow, multiplied, and were only now beginning to reach the exurbs of Grand Forks, but when the lawsuits against the government began to roll in, officials fell back on the blame-Canada tradition, implementing it literally by attempting to subrogate Canada for the US in the court actions.
Mehmet's sponsor for his emigration to the United States required that he be married and through a matchmaker he made a formal arrangement with a seemingly perfect candidate, but she had a tendency to divagate and at last she wandered off altogether (with the young musician who joined them for meals at the cafe), so that the desperate Mehmet asked the dancer Aisha, who previously had intimidated him with her spangled wardrobe and kohl-rimmed eyes, and she not only agreed to subrogate herself for the other one, but upon their reaching New York proved to be an affectionate wife and a model of fidelity.
Caspar Milquetoast was arraigned in court for selling fake Georgian antique teapots, whose phoniness should have been perspicuous to the most casual observer, given that the material was Corningware and --the beatinest detail of all--the personage portrayed among the scrolls and roses was John Cena; nevertheless, Caspar's fraud had gone undetected for years.
Mariah Mandrake had always thought that the cost of living in a large modern city was the emotional limitations of gesellschaft, because neither all the city services in the world nor all the Manchester United pride in the universe could make up for the lack of the malleable emotional warmth to be found in small-town life, even if those more personal sorts of daily interaction might take the form of intrusive encounters with cantankerous critics who had known you all your life and made sure you knew in no uncertain terms what a disappointment you were, and so—having resigned herself to having nothing more in common with other Mancunians except that they lived in the same city—Mariah was deeply moved after the Manchester bombing to see how many of her fellow citizens came forward to offer everything from food to chauffer service to housing.
It seemed that the anschauung of Bartleby was irrevocably and indeed increasingly glum, rooted in alienation and depression, but then my partner hired Paul Weevil, who spilled the ink, spoiled the nibs, blotted his copy, scuffed his shoes on the stairs and hallways, sang drinking songs and recited long passages memoriter from Longfellow, until the day Bartleby snapped and, leaping to his feet, seized Weevil by his lapels, dragged him to the window, and hurled him through it, whereupon our colleagues rushed to observe the result of this abrupt defenestration, but we saw that Weevil was picking himself up out of the shards of glass on the Fifth Avenue pavement and apparently was not seriously harmed---and Bartleby was downright cheerful for at least ten days.
After Caspar Milquetoast moved downtown, he looked forward to taking the tram to work, and while he was pleased to spend a few minutes zipping smoothly along the tracks instead of sweltering an hour in heavy traffic, he found that the price he paid was enforced familiarity with his fellow commuters, for while most were merely silent and tried to avoid catching anyone’s eye, there were always the children barging into him, sometimes with sticky comestibles in hand; the ultracrepidarians giving their expert opinion on any item they happened to see in their newspapers or on any topic they chanced to overhear, before taking up their day jobs behind the cash registers at Safeway and Target; the drunks who found the tram passengers to be, depending on their own type of drunkenness, either potential punching bags or a neighborly community primed for gemütlich encounters involving confiding conversations, warm hugs, and sometimes convivial song; the truly mad, who muttered or shouted in the sometimes odiferous extra space the other passengers gave them; and the curmudgeons who responded with acerbic remarks to anything anyone did—the latter group being one with which poor mild Caspar found himself increasingly in sympathy, as he learned to take refuge behind dark glasses, headphones, and a Kindle, swallowing sardonic observations he suspected stood a good chance of earning him a black eye.
Felicia was a cat who lived with several other felines in the baroque splendor of San Carlo Church, but while they liked to climb up and down the knobby, encrusted magnificence of the gilded columns and balconies, Felicia liked to sit comfortably by the main entrance and grow fat being fed by the tourists, a situation that wasn't a problem for her until the rainy weekend she fell into the catchment area on the back side of the building: soaked in water, her climbing muscles atrophied from lack of use, the poor moggy could do nothing except cling to an iron drain-frame and try not to slip further down the sloping wall to her watery doom, until at last a passing gelato-cart worker heard her plaintive cries and pulled her out.
Hamlet, as a sort of proto-slacktivist, had a lot to say about what should be done, but mostly just talked, unable to decide whether to plunge the blade of his bodkin into his wicked uncle's breast or his own, while in the meantime his girlfriend went from radiantly in love to just slightly under the weather to raving mad, until at last she drowned herself, all who had known her weeping over her body, with her face's ghastly pallor and her formerly thick, luscious hair now sodden and draggled.
There are fashions in parentcraft, so that permissiveness follows scientific parenting which follows the moralizing style, and after a couple of decades of “self-esteem” parenting, when everyone got a trophy and children were trapped in an over-scheduled and over-sheltered world of playdates, never allowed to go anywhere alone for fear they would be kidnapped, we now have the competing model of “free-range” parenting, where kids are encouraged to learn how to cook their own meals and make solitary peregrinations on their city’s subway system; meanwhile there are still those traditionalist parents who—just as ardently as hipsters reject digital music and multi-geared bicycles—take a Luddite view of 20th-century child-rearing trends, instead following the older beliefs in “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” only encouraging independence to the extent that the child is taught to do household chores, just as in older times a girl would have been taught how to change the diapers of her younger siblings or heat the sadirons to press Papa’s good shirt.
When Gladwell Donnybrook found the little creature hopping about in the water of a runnel at the bottom of Little Bear Gorge, he first thought it was a common frog or toad, until he noticed that it was covered with very fine reddish hair, whereupon he realized that, despite the expression "fine as frog's hair," there were not in fact any lanuginous anurans, and when he saw the next day that it had overnight, holus-bolus, grown to eight feet in height and was breakfasting on a rather hefty mule deer, he knew for certain that it was a monstrous whatsit from some Lovecraftian region of the Great Outside.
In order to fructify her plans for a comfortable old age, Edna Kristoff-Madison took a job as apprentice to a milliner and found that making hats got her measly wages for a lot of work, but because she demeaned herself well, she earned the respect and loyalty of what she hoped were her future customers.
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