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[The Reference] The Reference

Thanks to Hugh Thomas, Jane King & The Jackanory Puffcake School of Writing


The year was around and about the early 80's and the place was Yorkshire. A friend and colleague, being in need of gainful employment, had applied to the BBC, and was in need of a reference. This was the result. Needless to say he didn't get the job.


To Whom It May Concern...

Dear Sir,

This man is a fine human being and a powerful force in the world today. He has sacrificed his entire life in the service of his fellow man. As a person, he is warm, kind and generous to a fault. As a lover, he is a man of voracious appetite. As a son, he is frugal and of clean and regular habits.

Recently, however, a frightening change has occured which may have serious repercussions with regard to his future employment.

It was with deep regret that I was forced to demand the resignation of this most conscientious of employees. For the truth is, this man is a thief and a liar and a traitor to his country! He has employed cunning, underhand and cowardly ploys to further his evil ends and will, I am sure, stop at nothing in the execution of his masterplan. Even as I write, my life is in mortal danger for he is thoroughly ruthless!

These disturbing traits in his behaviour were first brought to my attention by his wife, a charming woman of extraordinarily natural beauty and good taste. A woman in whose eyes seemed to be reflected all the long lost aspirations of my youth. I touched her arm tenderly and sent her reeling to the ground from a savage blow to the solar plexus.

"I - I - I'm terribly sorry," I stammered as I helped her to her feet, but she appeared to have barely noticed the attack.

"This is no time for cold feet", she whispered. My feet froze as she spoke.

"But, Pudenda..."

"Shut up, you fool. Not in here. Someone may here us."



Chapter One: Signs from the Non-corporeal World

Dear Sir,

When I was first approached on the matter of providing this man with a reference, I hesitated. It is not often in one's lifetime that one encounters a man who has spent the greater part of his childhood in a complete trance state. How can one judge the true worth of a man's character whose prediliction since the age of fourteen for vast quantities of dangerous drugs has transformed him far beyond the realms of ordinary understanding.

Roughly I tore at the thin material that barely concealed her eagerly bobbing breasts.

"Randolph Lodger, you filthy bastard", she teased, her firm young body pressing itself invitingly against me.

I had taken her on three months ago when she was barely sixteen and straight out of approved school. I had caught her one morning in the girls locker room applying huge quantities of nose varnish when she should have been at her till. She pretended not to notice as I stormed in, fully intending to dismiss her on the spot. Her pink nylon smock was hitched up over her hips. I stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn't believe my eyes. Instead of knickers, she was wearing one of our own plastic carrier bags. She turned brazenly towards me and stared with such an expression of carnal lust at the bulge in my trousers that I blushed intensely, my ears prickled and tiny beads of sweat began to break out all over my brow.



Chapter Two: A Homage to Carmen Miranda

"Well, whaddaya gonna do abaahdit?" she laughed. Her nose flashed provocatively beneath the strip lighting. I emptied a carton of yoghurt that had found its way into my hand. Great white splodges covered the walls and the floor and dried on her eyelashes. In all my career as a store manager I had never before experienced a moment of such wild abandonment. Time stood still as I watched her luscious naked form writhing against the metal lockers.

"Pudenda", I breathed, "Pud-en-daaah!"

She turned and gazed up into my eyes with such a beguiling expression of innocence that my heart melted at once. I was just upon the point of telling her that I had fallen hopelessly in love with her when she turned suddenly away and ran laughing from the room.



Chapter Three: Es muy peligroso

He was dutch and had lost a finger in the wall. I traced the line of spittle back to a point just beneath a mop of flaming red hair. His main reason for living was his hope of one day being allowed to emigrate to Australia. His hand clawed at my throat.

"What's all this about you and my wife?" he spat.

"I don't know what you mean", I blurted, trying my hardest not to appear afraid.

"You know bloody well what I mean!" He tightened his grip on my throat. The blood vessels in my head went suddenly hard and I began shaking violently. These and many other terrifying scenarios haunted my sleepless nights.



Chapter Four: Corgi, Penguin, Puffin & Beetle Bites

What could I do? My kitchen was full of beetle eggs and I knew that come the autumn they would all hatch out. Should I employ buddhist principles that I had long held dear and encourage them to go and live elsewhere or should I go and live elsewhere myself? I had underestimated the intelligence of the beetle. Before long they were living in luxury in my bed and refusing point blank to go away. They demanded money from me. I demanded it back! I was cleverer than they thought.

"They're very strong you know", he said, pressing his thumbs hard together.

"I-I'm sorry? I was miles away."

"You don't need a long mirror to make shoes, you know." The relevance of the proverb totally escaped me. "Great Scott!! Is that the time?" I made a dash for the door.



Dear Sir

It is with deep regret, and the most hearfelt sympathy that I feel myself moved to write upon this occasion.

Yours Sincerely,

Randolph Lodger

(Manager)




OTHER BOOKS BY DARKLY

Bagged Gazunga 1991 Chrysanthemum 49.16742 1992 Cafe of Dinosaurs 1992 The World Tastes of Arsenal 1992 Terms and Contradictions 1993 The OS Report 1997 Last Will and Restaurant 1999 In the Days of The Land of Cockaigne 1999 Untitled 2000