Short Story: Visible Ink


Harold Wiennerman woke one morning to find himself with his hands bent behind his head and feeling very stiff.

‘You’ve probably got the flu,’ his wife said casually, then bolted out the door for work, fearful of catching it. When she returned, he was still there, locked in the same position.

‘What’s wrong with you?’ she asked. ‘You’ve been like that for hours.’

‘Isn’t it obvious,’ he mumbled. ‘I’m a spoon.’

‘I see.’ And with that, she whisked him away to Dr Willard, the psychiatrist.

The doctor informed Estelle that her husband was suffering from oral sensory deprivation.

‘Lick him on the back of the head from time to time,’ she concluded.

‘What will that do?’ she said, playing with a loose paperclip between her fingers.

‘Not much, but it’s a start.’

Not taken with the doctor’s prescription, Estelle had a better idea. When they got home, she rammed her husband’s head in the kitchen drawer for several hours to see if he got the point. Unfortunately, it had a counter effect.

‘I’ve been talking to the other spoons, Estelle. They don’t like the dishwasher. Says it makes them nervous when it does a double rinse. From now on, you’ll have to wash us by hand.’

The next day, when he told her that he was going to go to work, Estelle cried out, ‘Are you mad? Think about it. Who’s gonna take financial advice from a spoon!’

Unperturbed, Harold hopped to work, briefcase balanced precariously on his head and followed by a curious crowd of heroin addicts.

‘Are you going to serve me or what?’ croaked old Mrs Glatsby in her white lawn bowls outfit. ‘I want to withdraw money from my Pensioner’s Plan Club.’

‘How can I possibly do that?’ he looked down at her with a certain air of disbelief. ‘I’m a spoon.’

He proudly resumed his stiff composure and didn’t say a word for the rest of the day. Not surprisingly, Harold was fired from his employ, wheeled out on a trolley and left outside the bank.

‘I’ll take this to the Office of Fair Trading!’

He took it to the Office of Fair Trading, who instructed him to try the Equal Opportunity Board two floors down. Again, he found himself being wheeled out of a building.

Not having been home for several days, Harold finally arrived…with two policemen in tow.

‘What happened!’ Estelle cried.

The officer explained that Harold had burst into Riviere’s Restaurant and flung his head into a bowl of French onion soup, then proceeded to ram his face down an unsuspecting stockbroker’s mouth. When they took him away he had screamed repeatedly, ‘Throw me in the cutlery drawer! I’ll not trouble you there!’

Three months later, with a huge Dr Willard bill hanging over her, Estelle had had enough and left Harold to his own spoonic devices.

‘Off to greener pastures, are we?’ Harold yelled bitterly after her as he lay in the sink with rest of the dirty cutlery. ‘Hope he’s got it together!’

A letter followed soon afterwards from Estelle’s lawyer that she was filing for a divorce. Outraged, Harold hopped to her new apartment. He rang the doorbell with his stiff spoony hands. The door creaked slowly open and to his jealous surprise there stood another man, his wife’s lover. He was quite thin, like wire, and bent over with a large piece of paper shoved tightly under his arm.

‘Who are you?’ Harold demanded.

‘Well, isn’t it obvious,’ the man sighed, dismissively. ‘I’m a paper clip.’