Horrible Things That Could Befall Any Character
1. At a party, the character plays a trick on an associate of his, a woman who he only knows through a friend who performs poetry in her spare time. It is a fancy dress party, and he is dressed as a dentist. He is standing on the other side of the kitchen, speaking to a much closer friend, someone who he slept with at university, and rummages through his cupped hand with his nose until he has only one peanut remaining.He motions to his associate, smiles, and asks her to say, “Aaaaaah!” She obliges, and as her mouth opens wide he lugs the peanut, underarm, over the heads of Death and Diana and Deuteronomy (a smart-arse from Ireland) and into her throat. Predictably, she chokes. As he rushes to her side, massaging her neck to send the peanut either up or down, he risks a single kiss on her throat, and notes the size of her Adam’s apple.
2. The character has his genitalia cut off, with a sharp knife so as to preserve the shape and liveliness. They are emptied, the hair burnt away, a scaffold of wire inserted, and are transformed into a water pistol. This water pistol is sold to his son, to squirt at his friends.
3. The character becomes pregnant, but becomes aware that the foetus is renting out her uterus to weary travellers.
4. The character is a young woman, headstrong and rude, living in a large city. She is standing behind a man at a road crossing, waiting for the lights to change, when she notices that he wears crossed straps sealed with a clasp on his back. His shoulders are drooping as if he is extremely tired, but this does not stop her smirking at her friend, pointing, and lightly undoing the clasp. The straps retract like eels frightened by a passing keel, and the man drops his shopping, but too late. The baby falls into the road like a net of jewelled oranges. The character is also the man, and the baby.
5. The character is a high-level government administrator in a small country scraped clean to the edge of one of the largest deserts in the world. Everybody sweats, but nobody loosens their ties, and their office faces the dunes and the sun. The character has no spouse, or children, or friends, but instead feels very strongly about his office chair. It is not love, because he is not so lonely that he will love an inanimate object, but he has read a lot about it. It has been made to replicate the rib cage of a hyaena, high and arched, “a chair for laughing”, according to the brochure that he has left attached to the backrest. There are entire websites (which due to his country’s political situation he cannot access at work) dedicated to its configurations, played like a church organ using ten minuscule levers that hang below it. He spends most of his day in a chair, he reasons, and so spending all of his savings on the chair is justified. A good bed, and a good chair, are all he needs. He does not go to the cinema, or the desert parties that the younger members of his team are beginning to set up. He is not interested in politics, or the rockets that lance out over the desert at night, like flares from a sinking ship.
The chair is accidentally included in an office inventory two years later. When the company folds, and the character loses his job, the chair remains behind, the only memento he has being the scribbled instructions on how to adjust the ten levers to perfectly suit his back.