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Peter Cherches

Trois Contes

 

Perfectly Honest

 

“You are—I can tell by the look on your face—shocked to find me in such a place, in such a state,” he said to the younger man.

“Well, to be perfectly honest...”

“Ah yes, perfectly honest. Wouldn’t do to be imperfectly honest, would it. Then you’d have honesty mixed with dishonesty, and where would one start and the other end, how would you tell the honest from the dishonest? Might as well be perfectly dishonest. At least then one has to choose sides. But you were saying, before I interrupted...”

“Uh, yes, I was saying, to be perfectly honest...”

“Ha! There he goes again with the ‘perfectly honest.’ As if honesty needs a qualifier. As if to be merely honest is not enough. One could say, ‘to be honest,’ and surely it would be construed no differently than if one said, ‘to be perfectly honest.’ Some might say, ‘to be honest,’ and some might say it a little differently, ‘to tell the truth.’ But are those really two ways to say the same thing? Is telling the truth the same as being honest? One speaks of universal truths, but does one speak of universal honesty? Speaking of which, how is your dear mother?”

“My mother has been dead for seven years. But you already knew that, because that’s when you murdered her in cold blood, and how you ended up in this place.”

“Ah, yes,” the older man said. “There is that.”



 

Lusting 

 

American troops carried them through the sands of Iwo Jima. Some ladies of the evening carry them in their bras—just in case. You have to keep them away from dogs, who might eat them and get very sick. I have one that I keep in a box in a drawer (who is it for?); it once belonged to my great-grandfather on my father’s mother’s side, who used to play with it as a child in the old country. As far as I know, only one song about them has ever charted, and that was by a one-hit wonder. Whether it can be considered valuable is a matter of opinion. I think Dickens mentions them in one of his novels, but I can’t remember which one, and I’m not 100% certain. I once lusted after a girl who wore one on a chain around her neck. I have never seen them worn that way by anyone else. Perhaps that’s the real reason I lusted after her. 



 

Random Asshole

 

Some random asshole bumped into a guy on the street. The guy, the one who had been bumped into, yelled at the random asshole, “Hey, you bumped into me!”

“You should watch where you’re going,” the random asshole said.

“Watch where I’m going! I was ahead of you. You could see me, I couldn’t see you. You should watch where you’re going!”

“I saw exactly where I was going,” said the random asshole, “but you were in the way.”

“I was in the way? What, do you own the streets or something?”

“I’m a citizen. I pay my taxes. I do own the streets. Are you a citizen? Where were you born anyway?”

“I was born here, you asshole. My parents were born here. Their parents were born here. So don’t you question my right to be on this street.”

“Listen asshole,” the asshole said, “my ancestors came over on the Mayflower.”

“Oh yeah? My ancestors came over on the Santa Maria. One of them was a member of Columbus’ crew. He decided to seek his fortune in the New World. He got to the mainland from the islands by hitching a ride on a passing slave ship.”

“Out of my way, wetback,” said the random asshole.