Number 1 in an Occasional Series of Improbable One-to-Ones1
'Hello, Mr Kafka'
'No... he's a penguin. I'm a seal... at least I think I am...'
'You're not very sure, are you Pingu? Listen, I understand just how you feel. I woke up one morning and found I was this big horrible beetle-thingy.'
'... Errr... I... This isn't... exactly... is it?... I mean... I should have done the research, shouldn't I? I should have finished some of your books, so we'd have something to talk about. Can we maybe just talk about the first twenty pages of a few of them?'
'But that's just you all over, isn't it Pingu? You start off all clever about all kind of subjects, but you don't actually follow through to say anything about any of them'
[Pinniped hesitates, looking crestfallen]
'That was a bit cutting...'
'No, don't say 'cutting'! I was shaving this morning and my head fell off into the sink...'
[Another uncomfortable silence]
'... Errr... did you go anywhere nice for your holidays?'
'Nice? I don't know about nice. They took me to this big castle... It was dark and cold, and it smelt... What is that smell, anyway?'
[Particularly silent silence]
'... I think it's probably fish. Don't you like fish?'
'No. Aren't you shamed by your stench, and your revolting physique?'
[Acid silence, in as much as the pH of silence can be said to be a meaningful concept. Or not said to be one, maybe?]
'I quite like my physique. I'm waiting to see if they'll let me be the Keeper of Blubber'
'You ought to be the Keeper of Halitosis'
'Now come on! I'm not the warped little freak with a load of hang-ups round here, you know!'
'I think you might be, Pingu...'
'But I'm not hung up anything!... Except maybe killer whales a bit... And being set upon by a particularly large shoal of vengeful herring. And my Uncle Weddell. And Canadians with baseball bats. And I don't much like broken glass and discarded polythene bags. Or hurricanes. Or oil, except when I've secreted it myself. And I am getting a bit guilty about sleeping in the freezer. And I do feel ashamed about all the typos, but it's only because of my flippers, and...'
[There is a soft moan, and the lights go out. Pinniped hears a scream, followed by a sharp thud]