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April 6, 2014 | by  | in Opinion V.C. Guilford |
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V.C Guilford — Episode 6: Nothing good gets away

Guilford was pensive. He was sitting on the edge of his desk with one foot on the floor and his hand on his chin; he could’ve been Winston Churchill, or the Duke of Wellington before Waterloo, except that he wasn’t planning a war but trying to remember the words to The Simpsons’ theme tune, forgetting that there weren’t any.

“What day is it, Petersen?”

“Wednesday, sir.”

“God damn it, I thought it was a Tuesday. I always think it’s a Tuesday, unless it actually is a Tuesday: then I think it’s a Wednesday.”

Petersen ignored him; he was busy staring despondently out the window.

“Bloody hell Petersen, what’s got into you today? You’ve been lookin’ blue all morning.”

“It’s nothing, sir.”

“Is it because I changed our marketing slogan to ‘Everyday’s a Friday’?”

“No sir.”

Guilford paced the room, making a lot of mmming and ahhing noises and turning around now and then to give Petersen a once-over.

“Ah ha! I’ve got it. You’re in love, Petersen. I’d know that look anywhere. What is it? Is it a long-distance relationship? Unrequited love?”

“I would rather not talk about it, sir.”

“Nonsense, I’m ya business partner and we gotta look out for each other. Trust me, I’ve been there before. You feel like a Hereford bull at liberty in a field of cows. But there’s only one girl you want, ain’t there? The beautiful Friesian with the biggest milkiest udder you’ve ever laid eyes on. But she’s not in this paddock, is she, Petersen? She’s on the farm next door getting all up in some bovine lesbianism. Goddamn it, you’ve got to hold your head high and move on from Jennifer.”

“Who’s Jennifer?”

“What? How do you know about Jennifer?” Guilford snapped.

The truth was more deep-rooted. After his birth in Copenhagen, Jakob Petersen was considered by all accounts an exceptionally ugly child. His parents, recognising that your usual Dane lay somewhere between absurdly gorgeous and overtly handsome, sent him to be raised by distant relatives in Palmerston North, where they figured he was more likely to blend in with the general populace. Every two years, Petersen would go back to Copenhagen, and on his last visit he had begun correspondence with his childhood neighbour, Frida. He had fallen hopelessly for her, but she had not replied to his emails for nearly a month.

“Now look here, you’ve got to move forward,” said Guilford. “I remember when I first met Mrs Guilford. I was practicing as a vet straight outta varsity when she came in with her cat and I said: ‘Your cat’s glaucoma has remained untreated for too long. He’ll be blind for the rest of his life.’ She pointed out it was ack-shu-ly a dog – y’know, Petersen, there always was a reason I got into academia – but the point is, it was love at first sight. We were married within the year. It’s a funny thing: happiness will find ya when you’re not even lookin’ for it.”

Petersen groaned, sat heavily in the visitors’ bean bag, and buried his head in his arms.

“Now now Petersen,” Guilford tentatively patted his back: “you’ve just got to figure out what the problem is. Why wouldn’t Frida like you, aside from your general hideousness? Do you like being the little spoon, is that it? Does she not like to spoon you? There’s no shame in being the little spoon. I enjoy it myself on occasion.”

“For crying out loud, sir.”

“Okay okay! Calm down Petersen, bloody hell. But just to clear things up I’m going to ring Arcada-Rae Mae. Since our encounter in the library she’s been feeding me in-fa-may-shun, mainly trivial stuff about how many people have been getting the runs from Hare Krishna but it’s a start, don’t ya think?”

Not owning a cellphone due to fear of his location being tracked, Guilford used the landline on his desk.

“Hi Arcadia-Rae Mae. Now listen, I want to ask you a question: Petersen likes being the little spoon; is that acceptable in the student body these days? Yep. Ah ha. In-trest-in. I know! Okay, I’ll pass it on. Ciao. She says it’s totes completely bloody fine Petersen, so it can’t be that then. Have you told her how you feel?”

“No sir.”

“Well there you go! You’ve got to tell her how you feel. I remember the first time I told Mrs Guilford how I felt. She’s quite an avian sort of lady y’know, Petersen, and not in an influenza kind of way. So I said to her: ‘you’re beautiful like a bird, and not in an influenza kind of way.’ Granted, she was in tears because I’d just put her dog to sleep, but it got my foot in the door. You’ve got to get them when they least expect it.”

“What’s the point, sir? Even if she feels the same way. She lives on the other side of the world. It all seems so futile.”

“Maybe you’re right, Petersen. But speakin’ of futile efforts, you’ve got to come help me stick a survey-lance cam-ra to this stray cat I found on Mount St.”

 

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