Ena and Mr Cheetum

 A Guest Post by QQ contributor Mark Carew (@lexigraphiclove)

Author’s Note: Being a logophile of un-obsessive stripe, I had written a few resolutions to daily QQs, and had found them to be fun, educational and a great creative workout.  It was one of the joys of writing fiction when Ena (a young lady living in a tiny flat/apartment in Wales) arrived on the scene.  She was closely followed by her American landlord, Mr Brad Cheetum.  Ena turned out to be a canny girl and she quickly ensnared Brad as her lover and meal ticket, once she learnt that his fortune came from unscrupulous business practices concerning the production of sausages.  (Like many, I was aiming for QQ resolutions to be funny or absurd.)  Brad tried to stamp his authority on Ena as her landlord, but he had already fallen for her, and once a romance starts, and two characters suddenly become alive, who knows where the story will end.  I continued with resolutions to daily quandaries, developing the story, mostly tongue in cheek for amusement’s sake, until the point when Brad suddenly asked why it was that he and Ena spoke in crosswordese.  

To me it seemed that my two characters were trapped in a crossword puzzle (represented by the regular ten by ten design of a block of flats).  As a solver of the daily QQs I was also trapped – each resolution was separate from the previous and the solving experience was getting a little worn.  I also write short stories (markcarew.wordpress.com, @lexigraphiclove) and it seemed to me that linking the QQs into a story was the perfect way of giving the resolutions a bigger meaning and form.  Thus, for my characters it would be appropriate for them to escape and find the source of their predicament.  Instead of waiting for the daily QQs to solve, I looked up past puzzles at random to give the words to finish the story off.  Brad and Ena finally escaped and found out what was happening to them.  

I’d like to thank Rudi for providing a daily diet of the most creative of writing constraints.

When Ena clocked, with a percipient gaze, Brad Cheetum, the dishy new owner of her tenement block, she attorned to him as her new landlord, hid her ungulate goat shoes in a cupboard, and poured the bottle of gin, her favourite nepenthe, down the sink: life was looking up. 4/12/2013

Having made Brad her lover, Ena wasted no time in securing a sizeable imprest once she found that most of his money came from the contentious addition of a meaty pink slime to bargain sausages. 4/13/2014

“No!  Attorn to me as you landlord and lover, or sleep outside in the Welsh winter,” countered Brad, mightily chuffed, and mindful to mirandize Ena as to her expected silence. 4/14/2013

But she replied with a word he had never heard before, a hapax legomenon, that made him all the more keen on her as she batted her eyelids and said: “Oh, flother.” 4/14/2013

Brad tried to quell her protests about the sausages with a curious eschatology explaining how all living and non-living things, including sausages, would be recycled in the stars, but this only made him appear more heinous, and now there were other concerns: they had acquired a peeping Tom. 4/15/2013

Why, it was only young Tom, heir apparent to the Cheetum fortune, who had listened (while clinging to the drainpipe, and ogling the nice nelly) to the verbiage his Dad had spouted and, ultimately, doubted its verisimilitude. 4/16/2013

Ignoring Ena’s grunts, squeals and other surds of delight, Brad Cheetum spotted the nosy parker, put down his bowl of kasha and dragged his son into the bandbox of a room he rented Ena as an apartment. 4/17/2013

And it was in this milieu, amidst the soft music, candles and cereal foods, that doubting Thomas questioned his father about the sausages, while Ena decamped to the roof, escaping her oubliette and the inquisition that carried on below her. 4/18/2013

Ena uncapped a ready-made gin and tonic from the rooftop lazy Susan, knocked a veritable cornice of ice into her drink from the frozen chimney top, and lay back on her sun-lounger, unadmonished and debauched. 4/19/2013

Brad appeared holding a capias warrant and uttering xenophobic insults, but his mouth fell open at the sight of Ena sunbathing with her hair styled into a soigné updo. 4/20/2013

Ena picked out a strawberry daiquiri for Brad, who was standing at the corner of the roof, kicking the quoin for its demulcent effect.  “I heard you overawed young Tom,” she said. 4/21/2013

“Yeah, honey, it transpires that he’s gonna crawfish his way out of any legal action,” said Brad, kicking the masonry blocks until the building bombilated, “and anyway, what I want to know is: why do we talk in crosswordese?” 4/22/2013

“I mean, Tom called me a fanfaron, when braggart would have done, and after his little gander he referred to you as Lamia, whoever that it is, and believe me, he’s no bardolator,” – Brad clutched his head – “see what I mean!” 4/23/2013

(QQ to this point)

“It’s true,” placated Ena, “but our terpsichorean wordplay has had a unitive effect, drawing me to you.”

“Yes!” smiled Brad, pouring her another G & T, “away Scrooge, and let me be mother, and let us find the linchpin behind our perorations.”

“You are a deucedly handsome darling,” said Ena, staring into his eyes, “you have made me devil-may-care” and, to herself, “with connubial feelings.”

But Brad was considering the box-like structure of their la-la land, ten rooms up and ten rooms across, listening to its eclectic residents and the farrago of their burlesque speech.

All words garnered to the residents below, like lightning in a valley, and when he looked out over the cwn; his eyes fulgurated with understanding: “It’s in the water,” he cried!

Ena had her arms around Brad, she wanted to lallygag, to make love, neck, but Brad could not acquiesce, or be accused of infanticide, because at the spring at the top of the valley stood an English teacher with a leather chagal.

“Quick, we must stop him,” cried Brad, “his potion will not slake our thirst, but instead will bumfuzzle us, his malversation will damage our conversation” – Brad held his head, still in the grip of this terrible amercement.

Ena helped Brad out of the building and up to the top of the valley where the man, having just deposited his pabulum with a practised legerdemain, turned away as if the unattractive guest at a party, his gaucherie signalling the other guests to get the book off.

“Not so fast!” exclaimed Ena, her brow wetted by the rory May-dew, “Why do you want to improve us rubes?  Is it the little impression left by the antitype of our language schooling, or are you after some academic accolade?”

The teacher turned and he was fearsome: “My vulnerary potion will heal the damage done to our neglected language, masticated like food, leaving us with impoverished vocabularies.”  He eyed Ena’s zaftig figure: “Had I the means I would cure the population,” he added in an optative mood, “but I will start here.”

Brad and Ena floundered to find a fillip, a click of the thumb and fingers that could reason against the teacher.  Instead they allowed the tenants of the apartment block, arriving at the spring head, to carry them aloft amidst this lexical revolution.

877 words