Last Post on the Bugle

An oppressive absence of activity hung about the half drawn curtains, illuminated only by the vertical plane of light dissecting the room. Either side sat at right angles to each other, were two young men dressed in dark bath robes. They sat in silence, almost entirely motionless, as if to cede control of the living room to the sheet of midday sun that separated them, their heads bowed slightly in deference. The television was on in the farthest corner of the room but its screen was so small and it’s images so mundane that its presence was barely felt and neither man was watching.

Apart from the tatty gowns, the two men were at odds physically. One was short, fair, and sat relaxed, legs crossed whilst the other perched as though on a high stool (despite having a sofa to himself), his dark head of hair and painfully long limbs resting awkwardly, as if all possibilities for comfort had been tried and found wanting. His discomfort seemed to be fundamental, basic; thirst, fatigue or possibly hunger. As if to remedy all three at once, he leant forward and drank the dregs from a warm can of beer and rolled a cigarette. The rolling papers had been left out and were flecked with light brown spots, the tobacco so dry it fizzed when lit. The dark haired man slumped back, rested his head on the wall and savoured the rush of blood that accompanied the first smoke of the day.

For the first time the blonde glanced up and said,

“I can feel my will to live ebbing away”, the words deliberately lengthened to exaggerate their effect.

Before the dark smoker had a chance to reply, the blonde let out a long, solemn fart. It was pitch perfect, starting high (somewhere around A major) before ending on a low and controlled E minor. Startled by his companion’s eloquence and comic timing, the smoker choked through a convulsion of laughter, spluttering,

“Is that the song you want played at your funeral?”

The blonde burst into a desperate giggle, nodding, hands on head.

“I want ‘Yummy Yummy Yummy I Got Love in My Tummy’ at mine”, said the smoker, still laughing, “and I want the words, ‘Oh Well’ engraved on my headstone”.

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