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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lichtenberg and the Iguana

Last evening at my writing class I was given an exercise: spend 30 minutes writing a story that includes the following:

The tropics. The iguana. Wilma, the young typist. A night in Iztapa, on the edge of the Pacific. Lichtenberg and his knife. The spinach souffle. The fragrance of the young apprentice. The boiled beef at the restaurant of the Hotel Moskva and the young blonde's letter.

Here is what I wrote (and I just realized I left out "and the young blonde's letter.")

The evening before I left for the tropics I had the boiled beef at the restaurant of the Hotel Moskva, and I must say, if you're ever at the aforementioned hotel, do order the boiled beef, but order it to your room, for the fragrance of the young apprentice to the chef is so offensive and overpowering it permeates the entire dining room. I spent the evening alternating between being repulsed by the apprentices fragrance and delighted by the boiled beef, but isn't that life? An oscillation between good and bad, attraction and disgust.

The following day I left for the tropics, where I was to spend a night in Iztapa, on the edge of the Pacific. My mission dictated that I visit the First Bank of Iztapa, where I was to ask for a Mr. Lichtenberg and retrieve an iguana. A little odd, I thought, but I've been asked to do stranger things in my line of work.

Upon arrival at the bank I asked for the aforementioned Mr. Lichtenberg and was soon greeted by an affable fellow whose only fault, as far as I could tell, was his obvious toupee. Otherwise a standout chap. Lichtenberg invited me into his office, which had a delightful view of Iztapa Bay. We made small talk for a few minutes - as it turned out, Lichtenberg shared my love of spinach souffle. Soon we got down to business.

"Iguana?" Lichtenberg asked in an incredulous tone. "I assure you I have no iguanas for you." He gradually became very agitated, and in my line of work this is a very bad sign. It was not long before we were both on the floor, struggling for our lives, each of us trying to strangle the other. After freeing himself from my grasp, Lichtenberg ran to his desk and pulled out a rather ornamental rapier, perhaps a product of the indigenous peoples of Iztapa, and attempted to run me through. With my extensive training, though, I was easily able to get hold of the knife and end Mr. Lichtenberg's days on this planet. I decided to abort mission and left Lichtenberg and his knife.

Back at headquarters the next day, I debriefed with Chief Humblepants. As it turned out, Wilma, the young typist, had botched the transcription of my orders. I, in fact, was supposed to secure possession of a rare frog - not an iguana.

When I returned to my desk my spinach souffle was waiting for me - my secretary always took the liberty of having some prepared to welcome me back. I was reminded of Lichtenberg, who also once loved spinach souffle but was now dead because of Wilma, the young typist.

How absurd.