Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Sultan

I met him at a downtown business luncheon, featuring as guest speaker a famous United States Senator. We sat around a big table and moments after introducing himself (as Duncan McSomethingOrOther), he informed me that he had both a wife and a mistress and they all slept together in one big bed.

He was the manager of a discount bookstore, he said, and both his wife and his mistress were also on the payroll. Neither of them did any work whatsoever, he declared, and the owner of the store had no idea. None whatsoever. The owner of the store was actually sitting at the same table and still had no idea. He was rather out of touch, a shabby and disgraceful old man.

Duncan (his real name was Angus McSomethingOrOther, but he preferred Duncan - it seemed to have more status in his Scottish-fetish view of things) was a large fellow, blonde and bearded, jolly and verbose. In his early thirties, he had as yet made nothing of himself, nor did he care to, not as long as he had both a wife and a mistress, and they all slept together in the same big bed. Did I mention, he asked, that the wife is a blonde and the mistress is Chinese? He was extremely happy with himself.

I saw them all once, in the office, reading the sunday papers, playing footsie, doing absolutely no work, not that there was ever much work to be done in that place. The boring, useless sale books arrived only once a week on a truck, and only needed unpacking and piling on the tables. He, and they, all lived in a studio apartment which was just around the corner, very tidy and convenient.

Some weeks later I saw the wife again. This time she was loading up a van with suitcases and boxes. I asked if she needed any help. She just glared at me. I was someone who knew, someone who had seen. She was on her way back to Southern California. The mistress left the very next day, home to Seattle, I think it was. I never actually knew what had happened. I think I could guess.

Duncan was never the same after that. He even changed his name, back to plain old Angus McSomethingOrOther again. We never saw another female on his arm, let alone a pair. He was not so friendly anymore, not so jolly or verbose. He had had his time in the sun, and was fading away, rapidly. But to us, he was always the Sultan, and would always be, the infamous Sultan of Twat.

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