« Roommates | Main | War Games »

Here Comes Treble: The Chair: a Cautionary Tale

Did it ever occur to you that a chair might be sensitive? That it might have feelings?

I do hope you are sitting comfortably as you read this cautionary short story by Isabel Bradley.

Jayne Playne patted the arm of her chair affectionately. Poor thing, it had seen many years of service and had endured a hard life. "Never mind, Old Thing," she told it, "You're safe now. I'd never throw you out, and never mistreat you!" She sat down on the champagne-coloured seat, leant forward, switched on her computer, and began to type.

The Chair sighed with pleasure. What a delectable derriére Jayne possessed. It was soft and caressing and beautifully fragranced. This, pondered The Chair, was just what any chair was created for, to give the body ease so that the mind, freed of physical discomforts, could float free and create miracles of literature to be read by generations unborn.

*****

The Chair's life hadn't always been this good, though it began well, in a high-quality factory. The men who made The Chair were all craftsmen.

The cabinet-maker fashioned its frame from gleaming white oak, with a fine grain. It was designed to hold a comfortable seat, to swivel, tilt and turn. The cabinet-maker shaped and smoothed the wood with loving artistry.

The metal-worker who fitted metal tubes, springs and wheels to the frame worked with care, creating a sturdy base.

Lastly, the upholsterer worked lovingly, choosing firm padding, cutting it to shape and positioning it with care to create a comfortable seat; the arm-rests and back panel were shaped and fitted with sensitivity. Lastly, a hard-wearing but attractive champagne-coloured material covered The Chair.

Each of the craftsmen poured some of their soul into the creation of The Chair, imbuing it with Personality, Determination and Ambition.

*****

This glorious Chair was made for the headmaster of a leading school. For many years it served him proudly, while he in turn, served the community of children, parents, teachers, secretaries and all those whose lives are touched by a school.

Eventually, the lovely champagne upholstery began to fray on the arm-rests where the headmaster drummed his fingers while thinking, and at the edge of the seat where his elegantly-clad legs rubbed daily. Moreover, The Chair was beginning to creak a little at the joint where it tilted.

One morning, the chairman of the governing body declared that The Chair was "too tatty to be seen". Soon, a new chair appeared in the headmaster’s office. Its upholstery was dark green, its castors were silent, its tilt didn't groan, it was glamorous and new, with not a loose thread to be seen. In The Chair’s opinion, it had not an ounce of Personality.

The Chair was wheeled away, taken to a shop filled with grubby used furniture. It was placed in the window, its upholstery fading in the streaming sunlight. Its glowing oak legs and frame-work dried and even cracked in one or two places.

The Chair was miserable.

For two weeks, The Chair stood in the window between an equally miserable, once-white chest-of-drawers: "My owner replaced me with an antique tall-boy!" and a slatternly kitchen table: "I was once my mistress's pride and joy - until she had her kitchen re-modelled...."

Early one morning, a quiet little woman with mousy hair and a gentle face walked into the shop. Her name was Jane. If The Chair had possessed ears, they would have pricked up. If it had possessed a heart, that heart would have thumped within its upholstery. The Chair was in love.

Jane walked over to The Chair, stroked its fraying arms, sat on its fraying seat. She, too, fell in love. "I'll take it!" she said in a soft, high voice. Jane wrote a cheque, handed it to the cashier with a flourish, and The Chair was wheeled to her car.

Unfortunately, The Chair had been bought for Jane’s Boss, Sidney Sauerkraut, of Sauerkraut's Pickles and Beans.

Mr. Sauerkraut was as sour as his name and twice as sour as the pickles he sold. Jane was his doormat and slave. She did all the work, made the tea, and even cleaned the offices. The Chair soon learnt that Sidney made Jane's life a misery.

Sidney was a wiry little man. Day in and day out, The Chair sat in Sidney's office witnessing the petty nastiness of Mr. Sauerkraut, hearing how he made Jane do all the work, while he made the money and took all the glory.

Sidney’s derriére wasn't at all delectable, being hard and bony and more than a little rude. The Chair endured the dreadful noises and awful odours emanating from the weaselly man, who consumed heaped plates full of smelly, processed meats smeared with vile yellow mustard, accompanied by sour onions, gherkins, pickled cabbage and beans. He washed it all down with ghastly brown beer accompanied by a chorus of burps. Sidney spilt pickle-juice on The Chair’s arms, wiped sticky fingers on its back and dribbled beer on the once-elegant champagne-coloured seat. Long after Sidney Sauerkraut went home each night, The Chair endured the smells left behind.

While trying to clean off the worst of the stains, Jane patted The Chair pityingly. "Poor old thing," she would say in her quiet, high-pitched voice, "I do wish I could take you home and look after you..." Sometimes, she would sit in The Chair for a while, sighing with delight.

One day, Sidney was particularly mean to Jane. By the end of the day, she was in tears. “I just don’t seem to ever do anything right,” she sobbed as she left his office.

The Chair was furious. Sidney Sauerkraut was not only ruining it, but was turning Jane into a mouse with no self-esteem.

Sidney stayed late that night, gorging himself on pickles, plastic meat and mustard, while paging through a truly horrendous magazine full of nude people doing the most disgusting things.

The Chair was outraged. The Chair could bear no more. All of the soul which the craftsmen had poured into the creation of The Chair rose up in revolt. Just as Sidney popped a particularly large piece of sauerkraut into his mouth, it began to spin. Around and around The Chair spun, faster and faster, exhilarated, in control at last. Its wheels let out banshee shrieks, its tilt-joint groaned and creaked fit to wake the dead.

And Sidney choked. He coughed and he spluttered, he hacked and he gasped. He turned purple, as the sauerkraut stuck in his wind-pipe, while The Chair spun and shrieked and groaned in glee.

Sidney clutched its frayed arms, tearing at the stained fabric. He clawed at his throat.

Still The Chair spun, shrieked and groaned, until Sidney Sauerkraut, with one last, ghastly roll of his popping, pickled-onion eyes, heaved himself out of The Chair, and fell to the floor, emitting one last, foul wind.

Next morning when Jane arrived at work, she found The Chair standing sedately behind the desk. She thought it looked - sort of - smug. Lying dead at its wheels was Sidney Sauerkraut.

In dying, Sidney Sauerkraut did Jane the only good turn of his entire life. He left Sauerkraut, Pickles and Beans to her in his will. Nobody else claimed any relationship to him. Who would want to admit to being in the same family as Sidney?

The will being uncontested and the estate wound up in record time, Jane sold the factory to the first person who made an offer.

She took The Chair home with her. She had it restored to its former beauty, though somehow she couldn't quite oil away all of its squeaks and groans.

The first personal computers were then on the market. She bought one, learnt to use the word-processing package and indulged her life-long ambition to write horror stories. She changed her name from plain Jane to Jayne Playne.

Never again did she work for a boss, not even one two hundred times better than Sidney Sauerkraut.

The Chair was happy. With her delectable derriére resting comfortably on its seat, Jayne spent hours writing masterpieces of horror to be read and enjoyed by readers the world-over. Perhaps they would even be enjoyed by generations unborn!

The End

Copyright reserved 2008
by Isabel Bradley

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.