'David' by H Anthony Hildebrand
“I wish my car was as dirty as your wife,” David sobs.
I eye him suspiciously. I have never been married.
David sends me a postcard. The text on the front says: Wish You Were Her! Beneath is a picture of the Titanic sinking, passengers drowning. Iceberg hulking. On the flipside the postcard’s surface is reflective. The tiny embossed font reads: You Are Not Here.
David takes me to a restaurant. We wait to be seated in a space designed to look like a doctor’s surgery reception, the walls adorned with posters warning of the dangers of chlamydia and offering advice on living with irritable bowel syndrome.
Our waiter leads us to our adjoining workstations. Runs through the standard pre-meal tech checks.
“Gentlemen, here at The Lab we pride ourselves on delivering the finest haute cuisine dining experience available on the planet,” he says. “And to aid you with locating and enjoying your meal and indulging in all of its sensory pleasures, we are delighted to offer you, at no additional charge, use of the Hitachi SU3500 Scanning Electron Microscope.
“A new dimension in electron microscopy, the Hitachi SU3500 SEM features novel and innovative electron optics and signal detection systems affording unparalleled imaging and analytical performance.
“You’ll be able to savour your meal from every angle using the low-vacuum observation method the Hitachi SEM series is renowned for, but now you’ll also benefit from a completely overhauled electron optics system, enabling secondary electron imaging at a resolution of 7 nanometres at 3 kilovolts, and back-scattered electron imaging at a resolution of 10 nanometres at 5 kilovolts.
“I’ll leave you to peruse the menu and get acquainted with the equipment. I’ll be back to take your orders shortly.”
I choose the lamb. It looks amazing through the microscope. Mouth-watering when magnified. David has the sea bass.
We run our tongues over our plates, hoping our tastebuds will prove sensitive enough to savour what The Times reviewer described as “the culinary equivalent of an angel dancing on the head of a pin, or perhaps a teenage nocturnal emission; exquisite and fleeting, suggestive of a power beyond our feeble reckoning”. But my palate, damaged through years of uncultured oral abuse, detects only the lingering hint of pine-scented dishwashing liquid.
David says his meal is delicious. Hides in the bathroom while the bill arrives.
“I like my women the way I like my coffins,” David whispers. “Without my grandfather inside them.”
I eye him suspiciously. His house parties suggest otherwise.
David sends me a postcard. The text on the front says: Life’s A Beach! Beneath is a picture of a women’s volleyball match in action. One of the sandy players has a broken, bleeding nose. On the flipside is a white skull and crossbones on a black background. The tiny embossed font reads: From The Office Of The Prime Minister.