The Record Shows I Took My Blows
Read it aloud, Whythorne says, trying not to caper.
William Byrd holds the first chapter of Whythorne’s legacy in one hand, a Pepsi in
This is just one big ego massage for you, isn’t it? he says.
You can’t think of it like that, this is an entirely new genre. Have you ever
invented a completely new genre, William? Have you ever birthed a gamechanger?
The temptation to caper is so strong; the full deal, knees-high-arms-in-the-air.
Whythorne is so pumped.
This, he informs his flatmate, is an entirely original representation of identity.
This will not only change history, it has within it the potential to single-handedly
retroactively reconfigure how we-
Okay, okay, shut up. Right, here we go. Once uponne a time there was a manne called
Thomas Whythorne and he travell’d to Venice and he mette fellowe scholars that
liked songs and sonettes and then he boughte some stockings… they were greene and
he wanted to… penne a recorde of his…
Well? Go on.
Byrd adjusts his ruff and says, It’s a bit pre-school, isn’t it?
It’s only a first draft, Whythorne huffs, stomping to his room.
Byrd sips his ice-cool Pepsi and makes a satisfied ahhhh sound.
I don’t get why I have to read it, says Byrd. It’s your thing. You read it to me. I’ll tell
you the bits I don’t like.
That’s not how it works.
Byrd looks sidelong at Whythorne vibrating with anticipation, and begins.
My name is Thomas Whyth… Tom, this makes no sense. I’m not you, why are you
making me say I’m you?
Keep reading! It gets better!
I feel stupid.
Whythorne bounces on the divan, patting the cushions with his little hands.
My name is Thomas Whythorne. Borne into wealthe I have beene afforded the
luxuries of intelligence and culture. Lette me telle you… Tom, I don’t get it… It’s…
weird. The style’s all…
Autobiography, says Whythorne, smirking. I invented it. Well, not really, but I say I
do on page thirty two. It’s okay if you don’t get it first time round. But go on.
Lette me telle you of my travelles to that muche misunderstoode city state of Venice,
a lande of songs, sonettes and fine… blue stockings? I thought your Venetian
stockings were green. I’ve seen you wear them.
It’s a risky venture, this new genre business. I’m having to court sponsors and they’ve
requested a few adjustments. To be honest, in this game, the truth is what I make it,
and I don’t think anyone’ll pick up on a simple colour change.
What sort of blue? asks Byrd.
Same blue as this can of refreshing Pepsi I am currently holding, says Whythorne, and
chugs all three hundred and thirty millilitres of tasty black goodness in less than thirty seconds.
Oh. Oh, he says. I think I’m going to throw up.
But he doesn’t.
Sorry, says the Pepsi representative, can we try that again? The gonna-puke market
isn’t all that lucrative, you know?
He pulls a fresh can from the cooler and tosses it to Whythorne.
What sort of blue? asks Byrd.
Calle me Pepsi?
Don’t ask, says Whythorne, his head on the kitchen table and his hands on his head.
Will you even have ownership of this?
Just read the damn thing and tell me what you think.
Calle me Pepsi. I posesse absolute claritie about what I do. I selle high qualitie foode
and beverage products. My successe will ensure customers wille builde their business,
employees builde their futures, and shareholders builde their wealthe.
The Pepsi representative marks the dry silence by pointing to where his watch would
be, if he wore a watch.
Tom this is revolutionary. Tom this will change history. Tom you are a genius.
Don’t thank me, says Whythorne. He is speaking to the table. Thank Pepsi.
We need more enthusiasm than that, Mr Whythorne. Can we try again?
Whythorne kicks back his chair. He jesters around the room with a fat rictus on his
Don’t thank me! Thank Pepsi! Their delicious soft drink inspired me to be a
true original! Image is nothing, thirst is everything, obey your thirst! Pepsi!
What was that? says the representative. That thing about thirst.
I was improvising, Whythorne growls.
He feels like a bear in Oxford Square chained to a post.
The Pepsi representative taps his lips with his first and second fingers, deep in
thought. Image is nothing, thirst is everything. I like it, he says. I like it. Stay here, he
says. I need to check in with head office.
We might be able to use that.