Some lines from my new, uncanny story . . .
“Let’s smoke,” said Kropot. Drawing forth from his pocket a pair of small scissors with blades curving claw-like against each other, he made several awkward passes at trimming his cigar, but his long fingernails interfered each time, and his frustration grew.There's more where that came from, but you'll have to wait a few weeks, at least.
Also impatient with Kropot’s lack of progress was Vladimir, who reached for the small scissors with an enormous hand. “Let me do that,” he growled.
“You’re no better at it,” Kropot retorted, jerking the scissors away from the outstretched hand, but nothing could escape Vladimir’s reach, and he easily pulled the scissors away from a glowering Kropot, yet fared even worse, as his huge fingers refused to fit into the handles’ eyes. In defeat, the two turned to me.
“But I know nothing about this,” I protested as Vladimir placed the scissors in my hand.
“Learn,” Kropot said. “We’ll explain.”
“You see that rounded end?” said Vladimir, pointing at my cigar. “That’s the cap. Never cut off more than that, or you’ll get into the binder leaf and lose some of the draw.”
“Or even worse,” Kropot interjected, “see your cigar unravel.”
“Where does the cap end?” I asked.
“There’s a line,” Kropot explained. “Look closely, you’ll see it just above the shoulder.”
“Shoulder, cap, but no head?” I asked.
“Right,” Vladimir confirmed. “This is decapitation, not beheading.”
“Correct me if I err,” snorted Kropot, “but I don’t believe those two words differ in meaning.”
“I should care what you believe?” rumbled Vladimir. “Correcting you would mean working overtime.”
“My belief isn’t the issue,” Kropot retorted. “Check your dictionary.”
“Ah, dictionaries,” Vladimir scorned. “Do they get their meanings from God?” He paused. “Not as if that would make any difference.”
“When you use a word,” said Kropot, in an equally scornful tone, “does it mean just what you choose it to mean?”
“Of course not!” Vladimir objected. “Only an egghead would assert such a cracked idea! I draw meaning from the word itself. Behead. Remove the head. Decapitate. Remove the cap.”
“Such willful error!” Kropot fumed.
“You should know!” Vladimir retorted. “Except that you are once again wrong!”
“Every word you state is wrong,” Kropot replied, “including ‘and’ and ‘the.’”
Vladimir looked annoyed. “And,” he commenced, “the –”
“Excuse me,” I said, interrupting Vladimir, “but these are ready for smoking.”
They looked where I was pointing. Three clipped cigars lay balanced on the rim of a clean crystalline ashtray. The two querulants retrieved their cigars, inspected them carefully, and grunted their approval.
“Good job,” Kropot commended.
“Fast learner,” Vladimir admitted.
“Despite being dizzy with success,” I replied, “so I must’ve had good teachers.”
They produced ghastly smiles.