bureaucracy

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6. Sal Oberon and the Equality of Opportune Doom

Published October 22, 2016 by saloberon

Dear Mr Obiwank

Re: your communication dated September 2, nominal year of Our Overlord 2013, to wit, quote:

Dear the Council, Fuck off. Regards, S. Oberon.

We have, regrettably, been unable to administer timely response due to regrettable circumstances which have, regrettably, resulted in us being forced to periodically give a shit (or, regrettably, seeming as if this were, in fact, the case). This is, you should be aware, entirely your fault.

It should be additionally noted that, due to incorrect addressing of your complaint, we have been unable to reply in a SMART-targeted, timely fashion. It should be appendagely, additionally noted that any further complaints correspondence should be directly addressed to the Complaints Officer by name (please note that the names of Council Officers are not released due to data protection protocols).

We regret the lament inherent in your communiqué, Mr Obiwank, and we sincerely trust that we, The Council, might one day muster the requisite wherewithal to give a shit.

Warm regards

The Council
 
Sal Oberon folded the neutrally-coloured, logo-embossed paper back into its pasty aubergine-tinted envelope with the crinkly plastic see-through address panel peeling itself from the edges. He stared with pointed effort at the nameless drone of a Council clerk sat at the pale beige and rounded, safety-cornered, utterly uncluttered desk in front of him.

‘That’s a pithy little anecdote, Mr Obiwank . . .’

‘Oberon.’

‘Yes. That’s a pithy little anecdote, Mr Obiwank, but regrettably, it doesn’t explain your unauthorised three year absence from normal functioning society, now does it?’

Sal Oberon briefly fluttered his greasy wings, pondering which choice morsel might readily reduce her to a gibbering wreck if she deigned to patronise him one more time, before side-tracking himself by grumbling incoherently.

‘I’m sorry, Mr Obiwank?’

Sal Oberon growled.

‘It’s not an anecdote. It’s a letter. From your lot.’

‘Yes. Indeed.’

‘There’s a lot of apathy around in the Forest. Regrettably. I’ve been out of the loop. Again. Fell into the effluent discharge, overspill from Council HQ, no doubt.’

He flapped the envelope aimlessly. The Council clerk drone raised an eyebrow.

‘Hmm. Indeed, Mr Obiwank.’

‘Oberon.’

‘Yes. Well. Regrettably, it would seem that you need to fill out an Equal Opportune form.’

‘A what?’

‘Form 326b/111. An Equal Opportune form. Council policy, which your unauthorised absence from normal functioning society has prevented you from engaging with. Everyone has the right to be fairly convenienced by officially pointless Council bureaucracy.’

Sal Oberon gently pushed the second letter in his possession, the Unauthorised Absence Summons, across the uncluttered pale beige desk.

‘I’m not paying this nine hundred groat charge. Please feel free to shove it somewhere unseemly.’

The clerk drone raised her other eyebrow.

‘Mr Obiwank . . .’

Sal Oberon sighed.

‘. . . your attitude is regrettable. Please fill out this Equal Opportune form . . .’

Sal Oberon folded his arms and slouched his wings over the edge of the chair. The clerk drone scowled.

‘Very well, Mr Obiwank. We’ll do it together.’

‘I wouldn’t do it with you if you were covered in chocolate and strung up by the nipples underneath a drip tray behind the bar.’

The clerk drone shuffled uncomfortably in her chair before fumbling with the regulation plum-coloured pen and the aubergine-tinted Form 326b/111.

‘Mr Obiwank, what is your self-recognised ethnicity? Pixie, fairy, elf, goblin, imp, mixed-troll . . .?’

‘None of the above. Breathing entity.’

The clerk drone frowned.

‘Mr Obiwank?’

‘Other.’

She wrote in careful plum on the aubergine form.

‘Do you consider yourself either dyslexic, dyspraxic, disabled, dysfunctional, dystopian, or dysenteric?’

‘Dysinterested and dyseased [sic].’

The clerk sighed.

‘Mr Obiwank. Please do take this seriously.’

‘Write it.’

She wrote it.

‘What, Mr Obiwank, is your sexual preference? Straight, bi, semi-curious, homosexual, trisexual, quadrosexual, experimental, or unhealthily abnormal?’

Sal Oberon lifted an eyebrow.

‘Inorganically leaning.’

‘Meaning?’

‘I have a penchant for screwing cotton socks and old rubber boots. Next question?’

The clerk drone rustled the paper and pressed a staple into its corner, just in case it escaped no other leaf attached to it and, more importantly, because it was Council protocol and it needed SMART-focused filing.

Sal Oberon frowned.

‘Are we done here?’

‘That will be all, Mr Obiwank.’

‘Oberon.’

‘Yes.’

‘And the nine hundred groat fine?’

‘I’ll pass it on to the Department of Internal Affairs and Extenuating Apathy.’

Sal Oberon stood up and shook off his wings.

‘Good. Pleasure doing business with you. I hope your tits drop to below your ankles in your old age and that they trip you over in many splendid and comedically karmic ways.’

The clerk drone averted her eyes to ruthlessly file her form.

‘Yes,’ she mumbled. ‘Warm regards, Mr Obiwank.’

Sal Oberon shuffled out of the cubicle, stepped out into ‘normal functioning society’, and sniffed the toxic effluent of squalid forest air, kicking an errant toad in the face, making it croak out of its arse as he went by.
 
 

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5. Sal Oberon Wakes Up and Smells the Coffee (after a Long Sojourn Away)

Published September 2, 2013 by saloberon

Sal Oberon woke up with a root beer hangover and an unhealthily fungal eleven-year stubble on his chin. He scratched places he couldn’t remember having, thinking what had happened to time, what was the point of quadratic equations (inexplicably), and was the thing that had seemingly evolved from the half a pizza he’d left, pre-hibernation, still edible? He checked his watch: half past Monday — or something.

Sal Oberon, Master Storyteller and Part-Time Shyster Magnet, fixed coffee. He stared at the eight feet high pile of junk mail on his doormat, wondering absent-mindedly if his landlord had died and forgotten to tell him. He picked up a random envelope and opened it: ‘Congratulations, Mr Obiwank (Sal Oberon rooted around behind his ear for a red biro with which to wearily spell-check the moronic mass illiteracy, the memory of which lumbered back up on him like a large toad squeezed into the dream of a pretty nymph princess), ‘congratulations on being selected to receive A LIFETIME’S SUPPLY of non-returnable BADLY SPELLD JUNKMAIL! Oh yes. Your liff is complete. Fret no more, Mr. Obiwank: you’re [sic] blood pressure is our pleasure! FREE fore liff!’

The pot on the stove hissed. Sal Oberon made coffee, not yet sufficiently stirred in himself to care greatly at the largely squeezed toad of mass illiteracy. It belched in a metaphorical manner and hopped off into a dark recess of his mind: ready to pop out with a small amphibian fanfare at some point in the not-too-distant future, its pretty nymph princess costume popping a few stitches at the edges instead and in the meantime.

The doorbell rang and Sal Oberon moaned wearily before levering open the front appendage to his formerly rented abode (landlord status pending), blinking in the light.

‘Sign this.’

Our hero stared with heroic grace, one index finger holding up an eyebrow, also holding in the mush of his root-beer-deranged brain. ‘What?’

‘Sign.’

‘What is it?’

The shadowy disembodiment of a voice that lurked beyond the proffered, held aloft and slightly aubergine paper managed to express its discombobulation without further recourse to actual words. Sal Oberon spoke in a slower tone, as was customary, he found, when dealing with the more flexibility-challenged: ‘What is it that you’re asking me to sign?’

There was a pause, and then: ‘This paper.’

‘Yes, but what is it?’

‘It’s a slightly aubergine form. Sign it.’

‘Why?’

‘It needs your signature?’

Sal Oberon stood on his doorstep and a blinding flash of epiphany flushed down on him from a great height, delivering unto him the purpose for hibernations, lobotomies and voluntarily overly-deep enemas: you don’t get out of life without the pink form of bureaucracy giving you the right to take your last breath and the pasty maroon form to say you can start mulching into the undergrowth. Sal Oberon sighed.

‘What do I get in return for my signature?’

There was another pause. ‘You get this slightly aubergine form with your signature on it, which says you’ve signed the form, which is slightly aubergine. Sign here.’

Sal Oberon gave in and signed the form. The shadowy disembodiment of delivery thanked him from the very depths of his tick box and disappeared up his own slightly diminished agenda. Sal Oberon clicked the door closed quietly and filed the slightly aubergine form on his eight feet high ‘to do’ list. Our hero dragged his sorry arse off towards the toaster, wondering if re-hibernation might be a crime punishable by death and whether that might come under ‘irony’.

When the second doorbell chimed, Sal Oberon through [sic] his red biro at the door. It shattered into a bloody mess of ink and abject apathy.

‘Bugger off.’

‘Delivery for Mr. Obiwank.’

‘He’s dead. He slipped on the toast of the eternally buttered side down. He accidentally impaled a lung on a plastic fork.’

The doorbell chimed. Sal Oberon regretted the purchasing of bloody Greensleeves, Ad Infinitum. The doorbell continued to chime and showed no signs of ever not chiming again. Sal Oberon answered the door.

‘What?’

‘Sign here.’

‘Why . . .? No. Don’t bother . . .’

Sal Oberon signed the mustard form, the indigo form, the puce and magenta form, and the off-beige form that stated that he’d signed the mustard, indigo, puce and magenta, and off-beige forms. He took delivery of the proffered appendage to his life, slammed the door and sat down with it before the delivery drone had had time to even think of disappearing up his own agenda.

The package sat in Sal Oberon’s lap like a turd might. He unpeeled it, carefully, as you might. The folder was municipally non-coloured, though it had a catchy logo: Council of the Forest of the Congenitally Be-Dwarfed, De-Hibernation Policy and Procedures (a Guide for Breathing, Shitting and Quadratic Equations), Volume 1 of 64 (pages 1-1684). Compulsory Reading (on mauve-form-actioned threat of eviction, excommunication, or any other order of the Council’s spontaneous choosing). Read by Tuesday, and sign (every page). Twice. In turquoise ink. In the right-hand margin. Countersign your own signatures for proof of identity. Twice. Re-read for accuracy. Proceed to start of list.

Sal Oberon added the policy document to his ‘to do’ list. A largely squeezed toad of a metaphorical nature and moronic mass illiteracy croaked brightly for a second, mistaking the ‘to do’ list with itself, before retiring to the crack between the floorboards. Our hero’s foot came down, missing it by a pretty nymph princess’s split seam.

Sal Oberon reached for his rudimentary Tale Weaving equipment, blowing the dust from its cavernous innards. ‘Right,’ he said. ‘Right . . .’ (though he wasn’t entirely sure what would be next, and right seemed to fit the bill right enough).

Dear the Council

Fuck off.

Regards

S. Oberon
 
Sal Oberon, Master Storyteller and Part-Time Shyster Magnet, was a little rusty at his game, coming out of hibernation as he was.