Mr Biggles was an artist.
Anyone, through an unfortunate mishap of genetics, can acquire a certain repulsiveness. Any glutton can eat until their girth near exceeds their height, and they sport a gargantuan collection of blubbery dewlaps that jiggle in the slightest breeze. It’s a fairly commonplace ocular mishap that leads to rheumy eyes that appear to both bulge and bug beneath perpetually scowling crags. A mere modicum of parental neglect can result in the perfect storm of low calcium and inadequate dental care. Many a nose misses roman entirely, runs away screaming from aquiline and lands firmly in the middle of a crusted porcine mess.
This is not to say that Mr Biggles wasn’t an obese, bug-eyed, snaggle-toothed, flat-faced horror.
Just that he was so very much more than that.
Mr Biggles was an artist. Perhaps, even an artisté. He was a master of mime, an impeccable imitator, an all round paragon of play acting. The theatre was in his blood. It sloshed and swelled within him together with too much cholesterol and a low grade viral infection he had picked up in his misspent youth.
With a simple twist of his body his rolls would undulate around him, settling into a sudden strikingly feminine conglomeration; usually a womanly form with a predilection for confectionary upon whom the effect of gravity had become terribly apparent. Another shake and he was all belly, a shimmy and he boasted mostly ass. With no apparent effort he could sport an ultimate underbite, an overly-obvious overbite or even a seldom-seen sidebite.
His talent was uncanny.
Dr James Timberist was Mr Biggles’ unlikely business partner, roommate, confidant and BFF. “Best Friends Forever.” James had had it engraved in flowing script on a sterling silver heart and presented it to Mr Biggles on the second anniversary of their acquaintance.
James was a man of science.
A practitioner of that most noble of pursuits; the medical care, treatment, and indeed, perfection of the human body. And whilst Dr Timberist wielded his scalpel as lesser men might a paintbrush, James and Mr Biggles were possessed of vastly different outlooks, temperaments and pursuits.
James enjoyed listening to pretentious opera, struggled to display any emotion – no matter how intently he felt it – to anyone except Mr Biggles, and was a philatelist of stamps depicting indigenous flora or fauna printed between 1890 and 1913. His masculinely dimpled jaw and his erudite brain sandwiched between them two rows of perfectly pearly teeth.
Mr Biggles had dull red hair, enjoyed ball sports, relatively short and wheezy walks in the park and thought nothing of indulging in very public and noisy self-pleasuring when of a mood.
Yet despite these stark differences there was something about their relationship that simply worked, and they were friends and partners in all things.
James was possessed of a deep understanding of the human condition. An aptitude to which he owed a large portion of his financial success. He was unerringly able to spot weakness. Able to hone in and dissect a self-conscious pose – the subtle covering of a distended belly beneath a scarf or the lifting of a hand over smiling teeth – thus cutting straight to the bone of said poseur’s darkest insecurities.
The Timberist & Biggles Medical Suite was primed for the pageantry of plastic surgery. James handsomely positioned, just so, behind his heavy walnut desk. Mr Biggles lolling in front of the fireplace; his monstrous mien framed to a tee by the carpet’s lurid motif of frolicking belugas.
Currently Ms Joanne Morris was cast in the role of audience member and victim. She perched nervously on the edge of her seat; one chosen specifically for its plethora of sticky, sweaty and squeaky properties.
With a languid gesture James communicated his patient’s freshly identified vulnerability to Mr Biggles.
Mr Biggles took a wheezy preparatory breath and unleashed the thespian.
Act one was a dazzling rendition of turgid eyelids submerged in a face much in need of lift. Joanne’s upper lip began to quiver as James’ fervent monologue provided a moving accompaniment to Mr Biggles’ artistry. A skilful swoon onto his side and Mr Biggles revealed toneless triceps that drooped as depressingly as week-old daffodils from a lover who was now dead. James’ melodious refrain continued to mercilessly poke the bear. Or in this case, Ms Joanne Morris.
Mr Biggles’ coup de grâce was a sluggish sag until he was almost fully submerged in a tutu of belly fat, with only his eyes and the tops of his paws visible above the blubbery mass.
This final posturing resulted in some torsion of Mr Biggles’ lower intestines and the loud expulsion of gas. Ms Morris, likewise sunken in on herself like a sad balloon, merely looked more filled with self-loathing, as if a violent affront to her olfactory senses was no more than she deserved.
Ms Morris left soon after, having signed up for tens of thousands of dollars of mortifying procedures and hours of painful recovery time.
James sighed contentedly and took two biscuits out of his top desk draw; one ginger and one liver flavoured, both intended to ease digestion. He placed the liver biscuit in front of Mr Biggles and added a belly rub. “A particularly inspired performance, Mr Biggles. Good boy!”
James settled himself into his burgundy leather chair with the satisfaction of the recently made richer. “Send the next patient in Martha!” he called into the speakerphone.
Martha, a small neat women with overtones of mouse and undertones of S&M librarian, opened the door deferentially. “Dr Timberist, may I introduce Ms Harmony Marple. Ms Marple, the Doctor will see you now.”
James found Harmony most aptly named. There was something instantly warm, familiar and pleasing about her. She seemed surrounded by a comforting cloud of caring conviviality. A rather large cloud, because she was indeed a rather large woman. Her hair was a natural tarnished red, her nose as cute as a lift button that had been pushed in mostly firmly and become stuck in that position.
“Ms Marple, charmed,” said James, standing abruptly and taking one of her hands in his, “positively charmed! Please do take a seat.”
James unthinkingly broke protocol and directed her towards a chair not designed to shame its sitee with voluptuous butt sweats or by mimicking the sounds of flatulence.
“Thank you, Doctor.”
“Please, call me James.” Another deviation from the script.
Mr Biggles cocked his ruddy head enquiringly at James. Normally this far into the session the Doctor had already communicated the focus point of Mr Biggles’ first dramatisation.
James tried to return to their carefully rehearsed routine. “And what can I do for you today, Madam?” said James. His eyes began trawling Ms Marple’s face and body for the tell-tale signs of self-doubt. He took in her hairy ankles. Her calves were perhaps rather chunky, but it was a charismatic chunkiness with each curve set at an alluring angle. He’d reached her somehow very nice looking knock-knees when she spoke.
“Well Doctor… I mean, James,” the pretty blush added a rather fetching dimension to an otherwise very flat face, James noted, as his eyes were drawn upwards. “I wanted to speak to you about some possible surgical procedures.”
“What could you possibly….?!” James glanced at Mr Biggles to ground himself. Mr Biggles bobbed his head, setting his jowls in motion, and gave James the type of look that only a BFF can give.
James took a calming breath, “Of course Ms Marple, what surgeries would you like to enquire about?”
“Oh, please, do call me Harmony!”
“With great pleasure Harmony.” This time the pinkness served to highlight James’ already impressively chiselled cheekbones.
“A friend of mine suggested, that is to say, that she had been to see you for help and that you had been of utmost service to her, and I wished to discuss some similar measures with you,” said Harmony. “You see I was considering a reduction around the throat area,” her hand made a fluttery motion towards her face causing some of her many chins to wobble.
“Oh no Madam! Surgery is not something to be considered lightly, there is always an inherent risk when going under the blade, and in your case. That is to say. If there is not much room for improvement. One must wonder, if indeed such a course of action is a wise one.”
James gulped air like a suffocating fish and desperately looked towards Mr Biggles. Mr Biggles raised a deeply creased and crumpled brow, his buggy brown eyes intently focussed on James’ face.
“I had also considered something around the eyes, perhaps to lessen the way they bulge, or maybe to smooth some of these wrinkles that make it appear as though I am scowling, as, I assure you… James, I am actually of a naturally sunny disposition!” said Harmony.
“And that is quite apparent to me! And I would think to anyone who would care to really look! Wrinkles show a face that has lived, they are a stamp of personality. I think to change them would be, well it would be a mistake, Harmony, quite a mistake!” James looked into her eyes and admired their particular shade of mud. “And personally I think a certain protuberance of the eye gives one a welcoming and sociable appearance.” James’ hands had started to tremble and had become unseasonably moist. He licked his lips nervously.
“Oh, well, thank you James, it’s very kind of you to say so.”
Mr Biggles raised himself from his customary spot and waddled over to James, knees knocking with each step. With some effort he rested his fleshy mandible on James’ knee. He seemed to be trying to communicate something important. James stroked Mr Biggles’ face and Mr Biggles pressed its extreme flatness firmly into James’ hand.
“You don’t think though, James, that maybe some cosmetic dentistry to straighten…”
“Or some sort of nose shaping….”
“Indeed I should say not!”
James looked from Harmony to Mr Biggles, temporarily catching his cufflink on one of Mr Biggles’ protruding teeth as his thumb followed the highly planar form of Mr Biggles’ cheek and nose.
He looked from Mr Biggles to Harmony.
He looked back from Harmony to Mr Biggles.
Mr Biggles was an artist.
An immaculate imitator. A calculating caricaturist.
His artistry made of him a mirror.
And Mr Biggles reflected nothing but love.
“In fact Harmony, I do not think that you belong in this office at all. I don’t think any of us belong in this office, any office, on such a beautiful day!” And indeed, it did appear as if the day had rather suddenly become much more agreeable and scenic.
James pressed the call button on the speakerphone, “Martha, cancel all of my appointments for the rest of the day!”
He looked towards Harmony and said, “I hope you won’t think me too forward Madam, but would you like to join Mr Biggles and I for a stroll. There is a most charming park that we like to frequent.”
“That does sounds rather delightful, James.”
“Please, Harmony, my dear, allow me to help you with your coat.”
Entry for NYCMidnight Short Story 2015 competition
Prompt: Genre – comedy, subject – best friends, character – a plastic surgeon