"My first thought was, he lied with every word,
That hoary cripple with malicious eye
Askance to watch the working of his lie..."
Robert Browning - On Ben Peek
Let me start this post by saying that I don't hate many things*. Hate is such a strong word, and if I use it all it is generally in an archly ironic sense, or to indicate the opposite emotion. But not so with my hatred of Ben Peek. I hate Ben Peek, and if, through this brief post I can lead you to a place where hate him too then I will have achieved at least one positive thing with this blog, and I can finally give up writing altogether and begin to pursue my true and twin loves – namely accounting, and the collection of cartoons by cartoonists who are trying to be - but not quite making it - Gary Larson.
Ben Peek first came to my attention in 1973. I was barely out of the womb, he was already eighty-five, though he looked scarcely older than twenty-eight. Ben Peek was well known even then as a fabricator of lies, he produced them in a factory, out of the webs of spiders, the carpal bones of secretaries working for large and important law firms, and the eyes of babies.*
I was just a baby when I met him. So it was not surprising that he stole my eyes. Between blinks they were gone, snatched out of my head, and ground down in his machines and bound up in a lie. I was a wealthy baby, and a hot-headed one, and I demanded my eyes back. Instead he sold me the lie that I was not blind. Flawless, as all good lies are. My substitute eyes are nothing more than balls of dust. But so effective is the working of that lie that they appear to be brown orbs of exquisite sensitivity and depth. So effective is the working of that lie that I can actually see.
Another lie was born that day, in a factory of my own construction, out of the brains of puppies and the teeth of kittens and a dash of egg white. That lie being that I would never seek revenge.
I have pursued Ben Peek across the decades. We have warred and we have lied, and always he has been one step ahead. I ate his pet turtle, he ate the entire population of my home town, ground them down in his machines and produced them again as the lie that they were not dead, but I can still hear their screams. I torched his house, he set the very sky alight – I forgot to mention that before this battle there was no sun, so, yes, our battle created the sun, deal with it, move on.
I pierced his heart with a rusty nail, he ground all my organs into salt then fed them to his owl – yes, he owns an owl, it is wise and vicious, and fond of salt.
I released a book of short stories, he released a novel, and this. Read this, and you will surely understand why I hate Ben Peek.
*Well, actually I started it with a poem.
** He had also invented the telephone, and telemarketing, both reasons for blood-boiling hatred at the least.