Tufty One & Red Lips Two

[comic fiction exercise from Tom Bromley in the Art of the Novel]

Another fucking business lunch. Here they come, Tufty One and Red Lips Two. Tufty has blonde hair sticking up at all points north-north-wanker and red lips is sweating with a curry stain on his tie.

Shall I order no I’ll order I’ve been here before no you must let me no I insist and on and on it goes while I stand there smiling, looking amused, looking flattered that they’re giving me the benefit of their wit, looking like I’m enjoying tufty giving my chest the side-eye and red lips not knowing where to look I imagine if I even swung my hips a tiny bit he’d fall over looking at the carpets but at least it would get them to stop being so fucking polite.

I say.


Can we get some drinks?


What shall we have, what SHALL we have what shall we HAVE Michael?

We have lots of drinks.

Yes yes yes, bring us a bottle of something nice, something dry, something fruity Oh Michael something new, something Appropriate something nondescript, because Ho Michael we’re not actually here are we?

Would you like to see the list?

Oh we trust you, I said we trust her don’t we Michael? Yes, no ice buckets though! Ha! Mistake that would be, yes and shall we get some starters?

The soup today is tomato and basil.


That would be nice thank you, two soups and could you bring some water, some water perhaps in a jug? Perhaps thank you.

I will spit in your water. I will key your Merc. I’ll instruct the sous chef to piss in your wheel arches.

Of course.

Looking back at the pair from the kitchen — tufty one gesticulating happily (happily?), Red Lips Two affecting concern, affecting scribbling notes, affecting thought, that fucker I know his game.

Hold on.


Hold on, is this…


is this French basil?

Yes sir, the very finest.

The very finest. A tiny part of me rejoices a tiny part of me dies.

No no no no, that won’t do.


Sir? I can do this all day motherfucker.

We can’t have French basil. Do you know? Michael, tell her. Tell her about basil.

Not now Boris.

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