Friday, 28 August 2009

Two From Four From Six

Eider's favourite part of the day. The signal that her watching brief is almost at an end. That period when the first rays of light squeeze past the bouncer curtains barring entry to our private club and strobe the whole room. Lending a particular radiant sparkle to her own togs. All twelve of them.

Yet this morning she finds she is shorn of her housecoat. So the beams of light solely reveal her transparency. The hazy shadows under her hide. The splotches on her skin. She sees Down is still out for the count. "C'mon Down, shake a leg there". **Pah, dead to the world as usual. Still, that's the male of the species for you, useless lump.** She can't really do anything without his co-operation. He, she, such awkward distinctions. It's really quite tricky to tell which of them is which. Where she ends and he starts. Especially seeing as they share their constituent parts. There being no barrier keeping Eider's plumes separate from Down's on his side. Like conjoined Siamese twins. And since their stuffing comes from both ducks and drakes, that is not what confers on them their prescribed genders. For while they both play host to human sweat and saliva, only Down is the chosen beneficiary for the deposit of the male nocturnal emission. Eider, she is blessed to wallow in the fall out from face washes, moisturisers, mudpacks, aromatherapy oils and all manner of sundry powders and creams. She may be matted and caked, but he is encrusted head to toe. Dirty beast. That's how you can tell the difference.

Especially when the coverall is off. All of which makes Eider think that the missing housecoat might mean laundry day has come round again. Yet she isn't picking up any comforting vibrations of the washing machine. No telltale sympathetic swaying from either Wat or Erbed, in fact the pair are unusually still. "Good grief!" **I don't actually appear to be lying on top of Erbed. ** "Where the deuce-" **It seems as though I am slumped on the floor. Shagpile grazing my own feathery ticklers. This isn't right. This isn't right at all. And even with my ear pressed right to the ground, I can detect not the slightest thrum of a washing machine. I feel naked. Naked and exposed down here. I am going to get soiled and covered with dust something rotten.**

In normal circumstances, the rising dawn signals that she - they, have ushered through another peaceful night of sleep for their lodgers. Helped deliver them up safe, rested and restored for their day ahead. That optimal moment she spoke of, culminating in their tenants waking and bounding out of bed. Her Lady lifting Eider up in order to make her graceful exit; feet first on the floor, then knees whisk to the side, a swivel of her graceful posterior and she takes her leave. Down has to suffer more of a bulldozering, as his boarder barrels out of bed, punching Down up off him as if he were a boa constrictor with Sir gripped in his coils. Prior to anything else, such as wash, dress or attend to her own body in any manner, first Eider's Roomy is always careful to align both her and Down up carefully over Wat and Erbed. Smoothing out any ruffles in their material. "See that curtains? I am always properly aligned. No flies on me". In the normal course of events that is. Eider loved it when her Ladyship swept the flat of her hand across Eider's surface. Even if her gold band could rasp across her a touch harshly.

Yet not today. Eider's hunched on the floor, not flush on the bed. No prospect of any smoothing out of her wrinkles. For while it's difficult to get a good view from down there, the bedfellows seem already to have risen and shone. **Okay, I'm sick of having to figure this out all on my lonesome. ** "Get up Down! Move your keratin rump!". **It's no use. I'll have to revert to the tried and tested. If I can just get some displacement going here, then I can maybe angle a quill to give him a prod. Here we go, I've got some feathery motion going.**

"Arggh! Jesus Wept Eider! Keep your prickly tits to yourself will you?"

"Ruffled your feathers have I? Good, get a move on sharpish"

"Ruffled them? They've all sunk to my toes. I've got chronic pins and needles"

"Try taking a look around you. Lying on the floor might have something to do with it"

"What are we doing on the floor? Give us one of your massages will you?"

"No I will not! This is what we need to establish. How exactly we come to be on the floor"

"Maybe it got so hot, they didn't need our close embrace"

"They're not in bed you featherbrain! They're already up!"

"Keep your dander on. You'll stir Wat"

"That's precisely what I want to do you booby, We need a house meeting"

"House meeting? How can you have a house meeting when none of us have ever stepped beyond that door to know what else even constitutes this house? How do we know what it would tae to be quorate?"

"I know some things about life beyond the bedroom"

"Oh really and how's that then?"

"I get plenty of updates from Hoover when he drops by"

"Hoover! That electrified mop? Can never get a word in edgewise when he's in full flow, so god knows how you can possibly imagine you could hold a conversation"

"We've got rather a lot in common actually. He informed me that both he and us exist far beyond this particular bedroom actually?"

"Huh? I think I'd know about that if it were even half-way true"

"Oh no, it's true alright. Both he and us have entered the worldwide dictionary so as to stand for more than the things we are"

"Eh? Pea-brain hen, just what are you pee-wittering on about?"

"Well, not all domestic hoovers come from the Hoover factory. Same as not all eiderdowns are filled with duck feathers. But we're known universally whatever the cut of our jib"

"You're more of a sucker than he is and that's saying something ducky. How worldly wise can he be, when his horizons extend to the walls of his cubbyhole under the stairs pressing in on him? Now if you don't mind-"

"Too late. Look!"

The twin comforters both slowly brought their bingo wings together to lever their gaze upwards. Though they were witness to this ritual every single day, - other than when the incumbents upped sticks and went away on holiday - still Eider and Down honoured each occasion with rapt observance. To them, it seemed like the dawning of conscious thought. There in front of them, starting inside the foot of the bed, a water bubble hiccupped itself into existence. It slowly started rising through the depths with all the languid poise of a ballerina. "Look, Wat's morning glory has started" murmured Down agog. Next a duet of bubbles started their ascent. Gaily gambolling around one another, until they reached about half way up and split off at accelerated rates. Now a whole fountain of bubbles shot upwards, as if it were the very breath of life itself. In fact, Wat was merely yawning. His drool seeding this burst of activity creating a leg-kicking chorus-line. As he flexed his watery sinews, the liquid lapped at the sides of the damming skin, and forcibly bouncing back again, collided with their fellow rebuffed swell, engendering a wave motion. Finally Wat capped the choreography with a watery belch, as his bubbles kissed those emanating from Erbed's side of the bed. Considerably fewer in number.

"Pssst... Pssst. Hey Wat!" hissed Down

"Pssst? Pssst! What the heck! Wat's sprung a leak?"

"Chillax aquaboy-"

"Chill? I've come over in a hot flush. Cos I'm leaking here. My lifeblood eking out"

"Don't be so shallow Wat. Down was trying to get your attention"

"Can't feel any pressure drop..."

"Pull yourself together Wat"

"How do you suggest I do that? I'm full of water"

"And for gods'sakes, get Erbed up will you? We need to brainstorm"

"Eider and me are bringing the brains to the table. You just whip up a storm perhaps"

"Leave her be. She's knackered"

"From what?"

"You know how it is Eider-"

"No Eider doesn't know how it is. She's assailed by just the same chemical warfare from the female lodger as Erbed. Only, she doesn't just take it lying down and use it as an excuse to lounge around all day"

"No, and thanks Down by the way. It positively revives me. Makes me feel like a guinea hen"

"Guinea hen? No doll, you're selling yourself far too short. You look like a million pounds!"

"Love a duck! Thought I was the one who ladled things on thick. Very touching. You two cluck like an old married couple. Well, me and Erbed roll with different strokes to you two"



"What is it that they say Wat, 'Jealousy is the green eyed monster'?"

"Green you say? Reckon that's more likely to be the mildew infesting you currently. You should put some clothes on and cover that up. It's unsightly. Proper putting me off my morning gargle that is"

"You want to see the flora growing inside your fetid main"

"Aha! Caught you out. I'm not full of water, but a germ-free gel"

"How can you call yourself a waterbed then?"

"I was just going to ask the very same question Eider"

"Telepathy Down. We're on the same wavelength you and I"

"I think me and Erbed have the advantage over you on that one. Besides, that accusation's certainly a rich coming from you two, whatever Hoover says. Seeing as you're not even composed of real duck down"

"Come again?"

"What's that? What do you mean?"

"Yeah Wat, what are you on about?"

"Oh don't come on all hurt with me. You know it in your marrow. Would you would if you had any. You're not hand plucked from ducks at all. You're synthetic. Made in a factory"

"Says who?

"Where's your proof?"

"Pillow talk"

"Eh? Pillow talk? Erbed never says a bleeding word all strung out like she is"

"Not us. The Lodgers"

"They haven't got any pillows. Stuffed with feathers, real or otherwise"

"Precisely. So when they whisper their sweet nothings to one another, it's usually pressed straight against mine or Erbed's membrane. You remember that sneezing bout? No course, you wouldn't, before your time. Well, the reason you pair are here at all, is that madame was new to this room. This house probably. Moved into his bed and began by sneezing her head off. Snot and mucus flying everywhere. Me, Erbed, Du and Vet, your predecessors. And of course, your overclothes get splattered in the stuff. Same ones you're wearing now, oh no, I see they must be in the wash. Anyway, floozy-woozy suggests it might be she's allergic to the duck feathers, so next shopping trip they return all lovey-dovey, with you the new delivery and Du and Vet are out on their ear"

"Do you believe him? Or is he just spouting off again?"

"I don't rightly know what to think. All this time I thought...."

"See Erbed, not quite cocks of the walk now are they? Had the stuffing taken right out of them"

A lone bubble appeared on the meniscus on Erbed's side of the bed. It started a slow, counterclockwise circuit of the perimeter of the gel. Two watery, and innumerable synthetic feathered tipped eyes, followed it on its arthritic progress. None dared exhale, until the bead limped across the threshold of where it started, then flattened itself out and allowed itself to drift wherever the gentle waves took it like an oil slick.

"Alright Erbed, there's no need to rub their faces in it. No, they know full well it's a triumphal lap of victory..."

The eiderdown failed to rise to the bait. All twisted, half-in and half-out of their thoughts, their bingo wings closed in making a shroud over themselves. If they were whispering conspiratorially, the vault was well-sealed and Wat could make out no words. Even with the sun beating down through the limply hanging curtains, the shadows inside their beings were uncannily still. They looked more like a winding sheet for a corpse.

"Look, I'm sorry about the mildew crack okay? And I realise that there are probably more sympathetic ways of breaking the news about your origins..."

Erbed did a slow roll like a dolphin caught in a tuna net, only one that had been fed barbiturates. Even the liquid barely felt like responding with its customary galumphing displacement. The gel felt silted up. Wat bowed his head in shame and blew bubbles directly at the level of his chin, if he'd had one. It looked like he was sporting a frothy beard in mid air.

"We've really torn it now" Wat burbled into the spume.

"Why so blue around the gills you two?" squawked Eider flapping her bingo wings.

"Yeah, shut your cakehole you pair of fish faces!" hooted Down.

"Cheesy feet" retorted Wat with relish, lifting his head to reveal a bulbous smile.

"They're not our feet are they? They're our lords' and masters'"

"Just hark at the three of us, now we all sound like an old married couple. You're canoodling on the floor, I haven't got a leak and we've been given the rest of the day off earlier than normal. All's right in the world". Wat's insides did a backwards flop as all the water gushed up towards the head of the bed. If he'd been possessed of hands, or pillows even, he'd be putting them contentedly behind his head.

"Now that you come to mention it Wat, I'm feeling a bit moist at the nether regions"

"Moist, what do you mean moist?"

"Something sticky. And it has been spreading ever so slowly, but I've only just cottoned on to it"

"Shut up. You're trying to wind me up. To get back for Erbed"

"No, straight up Wat. I can feel it too"

"Oh right featherlite! Maybe last night's condom wasn't discarded with the usual care. Maybe you're skinny dipping in some sloppy seconds"

"No, we know what a condom feels like. We only have to look at you to remind ourselves! There's no membrane in sight. Just moisture"

"Give over! I'm telling you two, I can't feel any tear in my skin. I check myself constantly in line with the manufacturer's advice"

"You think you've got problems, but you don't appreciate, if you've sprung a leak and we're in the floodplain, we're in big trouble. Every minute we're on top of you, we're a pinhead away from disaster. or hadn't you noticed how they only take our housecoat for a wash and not us?"

"C'mon Eider, let's try and inch ourselves away from Drowning Incorporated"

"I'm not leaking. We are not leaking! Look, look. I'm going to stay absolutely still for a while and you will see the water level does not change"

"Could be a slow leak"

"It isn't any slow- What is it Erbed my darling? Don't tug at me like that. What? Oh. My. God!"

"What? What's the matter?"

"Erbed says now that you come to mention it, when she rolled over just now, she noticed she's got a small rivulet down her side, trailing off all the way down to the floor"

"We're doomed"

"Pull yourselves together men. If it's on Erbed's side, how can we be getting drenched? Unless it's pooling underneath the pair of you and your weight is pressing it out both sides"

"No, I'm dry underneath. Not a drop"

"This stain... it's not just the darkness of being sodden... it's coloured. What colour is your gel Wat?"

"How am I supposed to know? It's inside me, all sorts of refractions through my skin play distort it"

"Will you just stop slopping around all over the place? You're going to make things worse"

"It's not me, it's Erbed. She's trying to get shot of the sticky gloup. You're right, that colour's definitely got tone to it. Huh? Erbed reckons you know what it is Eider"

"What does she mean? What are you implying Erbed? I know what it is?"

"It's red you fool. You know damn well what it is"

"Now you wait just a minute Erb-"

"Let her have her say Eider-"

"Shut your beak Down, I want to hear exactly what I'm accused of here"

"Don't be ridiculous Eider. It hasn't come from any of us, so we're all safe in that regard. But it is something you and I are acquainted with. Just the two of us I mean"

"You mean... The Countess has miscounted her days and forgotten to put the towel in? I mean we get the odd leak, but can she have gushed this much for the want of one night?"

"Oh time of the month. Thank god that's all it is!"

"Yeah, we can all breathe easier now eh Wat?"

"It's still pooling. I think something bad has happened here"

"Of course it has. We're going to have to face our induction into being dry cleaned"

"I don't mean any such trifle. Smell it"

"Pardon me?"

"Put your nose to it and smell it"

"That's disgusting. No man's going to do that now is he?"

"Why Erbed? What are you saying?"

"This blood smells, less brewed. Less fermented than what we're used to"


"So I don't believe it comes from the normal hearth place. This strikes me as more, I don't know how to put it. Wat, make yourself useful for once. What are your impressions telling you?"

"You're asking a man what his impressions of menstrual blood are?"

"No, but our bodies are a record of the last movements of our hosts. We are slaves to their weight, through our displacement. It leaves its record in the ridges and contours of our skin. Me, I don't even register it anymore, but Wat, he likes to preen in the wardrobe mirror and show off the contortions of others for his pathetic kicks"

"Hey Erbed, speak for yourself perhaps"

"And the human runes reveal...?

"Well, not much, almost like he wasn't on top of me hardly at all. But yours, there's a massive great depression at the side of the bed where the blood is. Like, like..."

"Like he was lying on top of her doubling the force on you?"

"But it runs downwards like a cleft"

"Like something was being dragged across me?"

"Or someone?"

"Hells Bells, or someone, yes!"

"And you just slept through all this did you Erbed? This dragging. This chafing across your membrane, you brainless-"

"Look, this is no time for a lovers' tiff you two"

"No, I think that moment has been and passed for today. Don't you?"

"The end of a beautiful relationship"

"What those two? Sir Cum Transferance and Mademoiselle Diaphragmeter-"

"No us you fool"

"Us? What you and Eider 'us', or the quartet of us here and now?"

"Think about it Wat. Two humans in a bed, only one leaves intact and under their own steam. No eye witnesses"

"There's us?"

"Oh yes, how are they going to make us give our evidence?"

"I've seen the late night TV shows he used to watch. They'll be after interrogating the blood"

"Get it off me. Work the quills at it Down. Work their bloody points"

"You're wasting your time. They can still tell. Still, they'll just take a scrape off you. Me and Erbed, we're right royally stuffed. One pinprick and we're dead ducks. Hung out to dry. Torn to shreds. Christ, we lasted all this time between the clumsy clawings and tearings of those two maniacs, but we won't last two minutes beneath the precision feel of the experts with their scalpels"

"Oh right, sure. Course me and Eider can just return to a normal life. Everyone's going to want a second-hand eiderdown. especially one that's played host to a murder"

"You'd be surprised. You might get a museum gig"

"Let me cut you!"


"What are you saying Eider?"

We'll cut them and then throw ourselves on them. We'll all four of us go together"

How are you going to pierce us? We're made of specially treated, hard wearing material"

"They managed it didn't they? All this blood is testament to that. Maybe the weapon is still around. Everyone have a look"

"Can't see anything"

"Me neither"

"There's just got to be? Come on Erbed, get a sweat on. Put your back into it"

"You know the scary thing? You two are full of down, me and Wat are full of liquid much like they are, yet I don't think they did use anything on one another. Except themselves"

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