A friend of mine recently made the following challenge: can you start a story with one sentence, and logically end with another sentence? The sentences were:
(1) The washing machine repairman grunted.
(2) The archbishop vowed never to eat figs again.
In the spirit of Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle) I present my efforts here. Don’t forget : if you’re a many-worlds adherent, then this is a true story.
The Foundation that Saves
The washing machine repairman grunted. “I don’t know as you remember as much of the Bible as you think, your Excellency.” He wiped his hands on his boilersuit.
“You may be right. But still—can the Bendix be saved?”
“Well sir, that’s what I was referrin’ to. Saving. This here contraption, it wobbles a great bit, drifts, if you will. So if’n you need it to stop walkin’ across the floor, well sir, it needs a foundation, like.” His eyes glittered.
Lang nodded. “I get your reference now. You said the machine couldn’t be shaken by the steam if it were founded upon a rock. That’s what, Luke Chapter 6?”
“Just so, your Excellency. When the steam from the intake beats vehemently, well sir, the pantry here gets a might flooded, with all your Canterbury particulars and vestments getting wet and so forth. ‘less of course we was to bolt the ol’ Bendix to the floor so as it didn’t walk. And so I thought of my Sunday canon, sir, and heard my ol’ rector saying clear as a bell: ‘He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock’.”
“I am impressed.”
“As long as you ain’t impressed by no rock, sir, then we’re good, sir, if you get my meaning.”
Lang smiled. “You have a deep knowledge of scripture, for—”
“You can say it, Excellency. For a handyman. My mum raised me proper, in the ecclesia anglicana if you will, sir.”
“And you were saying, I don’t remember as much of the Bible as I might think I do.”
Mr. Suttles stood up, cracking his knuckles and turning to face Archbishop Cosmo Lang. “Well, you was talkin’ about the Lady’s feast upstairs, the bounty, how it was ‘a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil, and honey’.”
“But our Lord Jesus didn’t go in for any figs, you understand, despite what the Old Testament might say.”
The archbishop smiled. “You refer to Mark Chapter 11. When our Lord comes across the fig tree, and finds it barren—”
“Yes, sir. With all respect, Excellency, Jesus forbade us to eat figs ever again, and I for one don’t want to disobey.”
“Well, it was a parable, son. The point was that—”
“Plus, them figs that grow on Dr. Speelman’s farm, well sir, they’re infested. Wasps, you know. They lay their eggs in the figs, and them larvae hatch inside, and eat up the seeds, sir, and get right fat and happy. You ever bite into a fig, sir, and feel that crunchy, gritty texture? Like them little globules that get stuck in your teeth, kinda soft yet kinda firm at the same time? They as get stuck like that, are wasp eggs. I kid you not, Excellency. Jesus knew what he was talking about. He didn’t want to eat no wasp eggs, and didn’t want his disciples eating no wasp eggs, neither. That’s one foundation I can get behind. So forget about no land of bounty with wheat and honey and figs. Stay away from those larvae.”
The archbishop vowed never to eat figs again.