Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Rottweiler, beware...

Mais, que-ce que c’est?

A new Shebug clawing her way into the Palais?

Rottweiler, beware…

The question du jour is just which Shebug will dine with France's president, François Hollande, at zee White House.

Mesdames et messieurs, place your bets!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Shebug Origin: West Coast Chapter Six

Time was a priceless commodity Willy couldn’t afford to waste but he sat quietly awaiting his turn at the optician’s. His annual exam was already six months overdue, and his prescription needed altering.
The past two and a half years had been intense and taxing. What started in his one-bedroom apartment quickly took over half of a two story building in Sunnyvale. Triumph Technologies grew faster than Willy and his co-founder, Theo, a PARC burn out, could handle. Both young men looked overworked, forged ahead underpaid and in need of a long holiday. It had been difficult to leave the office for so much as a burrito. Thanks to perseverance, hard work and Willy’s vision, Triumph Technologies not only survived the start-up phase, it made the big boys of high tech stop and notice.
     A mother and daughter went into the examination room as soon as an elderly man came out.
   “It won’t be much longer, dear,” the chubby receptionist reassured him. “They’re a just replacing a lens.”
    Willy nodded in acknowledgement. The woman carried on her typing to the beat of a Muzac tune and her many bangles. He read the business articles in Time and sifted through a glossy magazine, but glancing at Palladian villas and New York penthouses could not keep him entertained. His pale fingers flipped through the pages at fast speed as he counted the minutes, when a familiar image caught his attention. He sat upright and began fumbling the pages backwards till he reached the page he was after.
    The headline over the full-page photograph read: “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fog Covered Glass Jewel Sparkles with Renewed Splendour.
    A familiar siren stood on the side of a cliff and a house whose ocean-side walls consisted primarily of glass loomed behind her. Woman and structure epitomized mystery and uncommon unattainable beauty.
    Willy stared back, dumbfounded, the feature became a blur.
    When he overheard the little girl’s bust of laughter and the sound of footsteps approach the door, he immediately turned the page and found two more, smaller shots of the interior of the house.
    The door opened, and time had run out.
  “You’re next,” called the receptionist breaking the spell. Willy jumped, and the magazine fell onto the side of the table and slid off. The friendly receptionist shook her massive red curls and smiled. “Don’t worry, I’ll get it. Go right in.”
     Willy shrugged apologetically and trundled inside.
After the evaluation, Willy scurried into the reception area and scanned the table.
   “Linda,” boomed the optician’s voice from the open door. “Can I give you these forms before I forget?”
     Linda rolled her heavily made up eyes dramatically then winked at Willy. “Hold your horses, sheriff, I’m a comin’!”
    Without thinking, Willy looked around to make sure no-one saw him and shoved the magazine under his shirt.
   He arrived at his office in record time. He dashed past the matronly secretary sorting out a batch of files. Her well-organized desk stood out amongst the clutter of others around her.
    “How’d it go?” she asked not bothering to look up.             Willy shrugged and took the envelopes she offered him.  “Julie returned your call about ten minutes ago and said something about ‘erungs’”
    “Eproms, Cindy,” he corrected the older woman in a harried tone. “Erasable programmable read only memory.”
    “Eprom,” Cindy repeated, waving her hand in the air annoyed about her inability to assimilate computer jargon. “Theo is running late and asked that you proof the manufacturing memo before your meeting.  Want me to get Julie on the line?”
    “No! Not now - I...” He pawed the air with his free hand and shuffled inside his office adding over his shoulder, “I need to approve some designs. I can’t be disturbed.” He practically slammed the door before dropping into a beat up swivel chair. He caught his breath then pulled out the magazine. He carefully ripped out each page with utmost care and stared, transfixed.
     Victoire’s photograph with hair windswept and partly opened lips matched the way Willy imagined her luxuriating next to him in a King size waterbed.
    Sweet and sour memories regrouped like dreaded enemies. Before they assaulted his senses, Willy bunched up the article and threw the paper ball to a bin across the room.
      For once, he missed the basket.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Shebug Origin: West Coast Chapter Five

    Victoire lived her shallow dreams of unlimited funds and high visibility. Peter and his photogenic young wife featured regularly on the social columns as San Francisco’s golden couple.
   His lawyers occasionally chided Peter about the lack of a pre-nuptial agreement and his wife’s undeniable capricious streak. Victoire made demands and often overstepped reasonable bounds by purchasing art and artefacts with little thought of price. She was obsessive about Bassadai’s success and gave her opinion on everything down to whom to fire and whom to promote.
   But at the same time, she gave Peter credibility and envious patina. Victoire rated in the top ten of California’s best-dressed list, took her hostess role seriously, didn’t nag or push for children.
   His frail mother became smitten the minute she laid eyes on Victoire. “She’s so classy, Peter,” she said every time she spoke of her daughter-in-law. “A gorgeous girl!” Peter felt grateful seeing his beloved mother so full of happiness and at peace.
   Peter’s career soared at optimal speed, and his company earned more money than he ever dreamed of. He saw Victoire as a Godsend and wouldn’t dream of crossing words with her.
   For the first eighteen months of marriage, Peter had been relatively faithful. But during his solo trip to Asia, Peter rekindled his need for outside alliances.
  “Buy her a house,” one lover recommended.
  “What?” Confusion took hold of his features. “And how do you plan for me to be in two places at one time, Rupert?”
   The man rolled his eyes with exasperation. “You silly sausage,’ he reprimanded in an English accent.          “Find her a charming place outside the city she can do up from scratch, a house with character but in dire need of refurbishing. Women positively adore decorating! Why do you think I’m in the business, darling?”

   Victoire was unable to sleep. Peter left on a last-minute overnight trip to Los Angeles. She reached for the illuminated alarm clock, growled and headed for the kitchen to make herself a cup of hot milk. Then she padded towards Peter’s study. Rather than switch on the study light, she ambled straight to a Chinese gold and black lacquer cabinet and flicked on its switch illuminating four superb FabergĂ© eggs.
   “Beautiful,” she gloated, running her highly polished deep red nail against the spotless glass, “and all mine.” The third one she acquired, produced for Tsar Nicholas II, remained her favourite. Her fingers itched to touch her it. Victoire set down her cup of milk and located the hidden key across the study in semi-darkness. On her way back, she stumbled on her full-length satin robe and dropped it.
   She swore in French and hunkered down on all fours in search of the cabinet key but found nothing.    “What the hell,” she mumbled, sticking her arms under the sofa. Her hands fumbled blindly and brushed against something. It didn’t feel like the key. Curious, she stretched as far as she could until her grasp was complete. Sitting on her haunches, she looked questioningly at a dark manila envelope. She got up and took it to Peter’s mahogany desk and turned on the reading lamp.
   The red envelope carried no markings and was taped down. She reached for the silver and turquoise enamelled letter opener and carefully pried it open.
   Photographs spilled onto the desk leaving Victoire’s mouth agape. Her senses instantly came into full alert. Her fingers rapidly spread out the material, and her eyes took in the full impact of Peter’s infidelities. The obscene nature of the landscape recorded her husband cavorting with other men in all manner of positions, poses and multiple partner configurations. Two in particular made her cast iron innards turn to mush: it depicted Peter looking half-dead, barely visible under a sheer scarf physically aroused while his partner stood twisting the knot around his neck. She shoved the photographs back into the red manila and stormed back to her bedroom her hackles raised.      Victoire tossed and turned like a crackling sausage on a grill but knew better than immediately confront her husband.
Digesting bad news required a handful of beats as did hatching well laid plans.

# # # #

   The timing could not have been better for Peter. Or Victoire.
   “Wake up, Victoire.”
   She rubbed her eyes and stared dumbfounded at her husband. “Aren’t you supposed to be in the office?”
   “Not on your birthday, my lovely. Get dressed and meet me in the dining room for a quick breakfast.”
  “But I thought we were meeting the Miller’s for brunch.”
   “No buts! I have a surprise for you!”
   Fifteen minutes later, Victoire appeared wide-awake consumed with curiosity.
  “Bring a wrap, just in case,” he suggested as they made ready to leave.
    “But I’m wearing a jacket.”
     Peter smiled mysteriously, “Shhhh!”
     Bradley waited with the engine running.
   An hour and a half later, the car snaked its way towards the coastline and stopped in front on a cliff side house partially covered in cypress tress.
    “Bradley, you know what to do.”
  “Yes, Mr. Prentice,” he replied holding open the door.
    A gust of wind came out of nowhere and whipped Victoire’s hair out of place. “Where are we going? I didn’t know there was a restaurant out here,” she inquired, feeling the flame of excitement growing with every step.
   The twinkle in Peter’s eyes danced about like Rumpelstilskin before a bonfire. “Close your eyes and hold on to my arm, promise?”
    Piqued, she did as she was told. “Peter, what is going on?” she laughed.
    Bradley scurried up to the house to set up the picnic basket. First, he took out two champagne flutes and uncorked a bottle.
    The smell of the Pacific filled her lungs. The further she walked, the stronger the sounds of the surf. She bit her lip dying to know what he had in store for her.
     “Okay, Victoire, you may open your eyes!” 
    She squeezed his arm as she opened them. They stood in front of a modern structure of wood and stone blending into the cliff.
    Victoire turned to him after running her feasting her senses and said reverently, “IIt could easily pass a Frank Lloyd Wright, it’s so amazing…. Who’s inside?”
    Peter clapped appreciatively. “Bravo, designed by the man himself, and no owned by you…. Happy birthday, my beautiful wife!”

Monday, 6 January 2014

End of Chapter Four of Shebug Origin: West Coast

Artemis did not take Willy’s resignation well. His sources assured him that a competitor had not nicked his top lieutenant. This made Waites’ departure even more mysterious. Remorse swirled in his stomach; he should have seen the signs.
“Willy, Bassadai’s your home,” Artemis told him on the phone, wondering whether the young man developed a drug problem. “Take as much time off as you need.”
Success and excess went hand-in-hand. It was common knowledge that the quirky but visionary head of Bassadai’s largest division was known for doing lines of cocaine on his boardroom desk. Artemis himself smoked pot in the remote think tank. Since BTT was one hundred percent private, anything was possible. Rumour had it all who entered were given automatic carte blanche to keep them sweet and their creative juices flowing.
Artemis ran his fingers through his dark hair and sighed. The gossip wasn’t too far off the mark.
“It’s not home anymore,” Willy replied.
Artemis took a calculated risk. “Willy, remember what I said about Prentice’s offer? Well, forget that figure. He’s offering you three times your salary. Plus stock options.”
“Screw Prentice,” Willy retorted, his voice laced with pain. “I’m never coming back!”

# # # #

Willy’s sallow face bore an insipid beard for the first time in his life. His weight dropped by ten pounds in a month, and his wrinkled, unclean clothes hung loosely. A sour smell clung to his body like a poltergeist. His socks got caught on his long, unfilled toenails creating unsightly snags. But Willy remained unaware of the gradual personal decay.
Bent beer cans and bottles lined every surface of his house minus the pea green toilet and bathtub, and half-eaten pizzas curled up like old soles in scrunched boxes crammed into an open bin liners leaning precariously in a kitchen corner.
He ran his tongue over his furry teeth and popped another piece of chewing gum in his mouth. The last Jiffy Pop container crackled over the stove and the smell of buttered popcorn scented the stale air. Willy rattled its contents with one hand, located the bottle opener with another. “Crap,” he muttered. He was down to his last bottle.
In the adjacent room, the television blared. The Super Bowl was about to begin. He turned off the stove, cracked open the puffed aluminum pan and tore the sides open carelessly burning one on his fingers. He didn’t yelp. It was one of the few physical sensations he had felt in days. Bowl and bottle in hand, he managed the obstacle course of shoes, dirty laundry and books back to the living room, closed off to the real world with tightly drawn curtains and reclined on the lumpy couch.
 Willy customarily spent Super Bowl Sunday in company of friends or family. This year he kept the world out.
The line up of curvy, big-haired cheerleaders didn’t register with the same degree. Willy barley blinked when they kicked up their boots and shook their pompoms. Willy watched with a detachment akin to an old woman enduring a video on taxidermy.
At halftime, Will almost did the unthinkable. He stared at the ceiling in a trance-like state about ready to turn off the commotion when his hand limply dropped onto his lap sending the popcorn bowl tumbling to the floor.
Willy’s attention sprung back to life, and he looked back to the television screen to watch a strange commercial with prisoners dressed in grey shuffling behind one another in single file. Only their rhythmic marching and a disembodied voice orating Utopian ideology played in the background. Every one of them was bald and devoid of expression. Suddenly, a young woman dashed through the bleak tunnel as the prisoners joined the others sitting in a large auditorium, their eyes fixed to the orator’s face, projected in black and white. Her white tank top, red shorts and cropped blonde hair gave life to the otherwise dull scene.
The men did not see her, but guards, complete with riot gear, chased her up the aisle like hounds to the fox. In her hand was a large hammer she clung to like a samurai’s sword. Reaching the front of the room, she stopped dead in her tracks. Her pursuers neared dangerously.  She began to spin and spin, her arm muscles taunt and strained, intent written all over her face. After gathering enough momentum, she unleashed the heavy hammer in the direction of a massive Orwell style Big Brother screen, blowing it into smithereens and leaving the prisoners agape.
The Apple 1984 Macintosh commercial was only shown once. Its effect on the consumer was exceedingly effective, but the cord it struck deep within Willy went much deeper.

The last three words heard in the commercial became his mantra: “We will prevail.” Willy Waites experienced his epiphany on January 24, 1984.