An exciting letter arrives from someone going by the online monicker “Flautist-standing-on-one-leg”.
Dear Frank, he writes, I thought it might interest you to know that some years ago, for an anniversary present, my wife arranged for me to have my portrait done in linocut by the hyperrealist linocutter Rex Hyper. It was our first wedding anniversary, and, alas, our last, for being a fogwife Mrs F withered away due to the damp and fumous mists hovering o’er the marshes, and was lying six feet under in the churchyard before our second.
On the day the portrait was to be cut, I got dressed up to the nines and slathered enough pomade into my bouffant to smother a guinea pig. Rex Hyper’s linocuts had made him so wealthy he had a private helipad on the roof of his chateau, but I did not have a helicopter, so I made my way there via the funicular steam railway. As we wheezed to the top and the brakes screeched, I saw through the smudged window a sort of Praetorian guard of gap-year crusties. These, I was to learn, were Rex Hyper’s personal security detail. The man was a raving noodlebrain given to paranoid delusions, who was convinced his helipad would be the site of an attack by giant extraterrestrial bloodsuckers. Before I was allowed to disembark from the carriage, I had to provide evidence via tape measure that I was not a giant, proof in the form of a magnetic aura probe piston that I was of earthly form and origin, and had my sucking mechanisms disabled so I would have been unable to suck Rex Hyper’s blood even if I had wanted to. When these procedures were complete, I was ushered into the great man’s presence.
The room in which he did his linocutting was cavernous and impossibly beautiful. Every inch of walls and floor and ceiling was covered in lino cut by the maestro himself. You could see it had that hyperrealist Rex Hyper touch. It was almost like being in a real room.
“Bof!” he cried, for no apparent reason, “Strike up your pose for me!”
I did so. I thought my wife would be pleased if, for the portrait she had commissioned, I posed standing on one leg, my arms deployed as if I were playing the flute. I had not been allowed to carry my flute on the funicular railway, it had a woodwind bias built-in.
The speed with which Rex Hyper slashed and rent his lino with great swingeing cuts was awe-inspiring. Now I understood why he was known, in the linocutting world, as the Billy Whizz of the Linocut. His paranoia meant that he was also known as the Desperate Dan of the Linocut, and for his gluttonous and disgusting eating habits he was called the Three Bears of the Linocut. Sooner or later he would become the Little Plum of the Linocut, with a wigwam on the helipad.
Barely forty seconds after I had struck up my pose, Rex Hyper emitted an ear-splitting yell of triumph, in what I took to be French. He tossed the completed hyperrealist linocut across to me and swept out through a set of gaudy brocade curtains. A couple of the gap-year crusties appeared, swiped my credit card through a swiper, and hauled me off up to the helipad. I was hoping for a free helicopter ride, but the funicular railway bell clanged and my dreams were shattered.
So successful was the hyperrealism of the linocut that when I got home and bounded through the door, my wife thought she was seeing two of us, me, a bit blurry and insubstantial, and my bright, dazzling, impossibly fantastic doppelganger. Indeed, in the remaining six weeks of her fogwife life she clung to the linocut, kissed it and wept upon it, and expired holding it in her now withered white arms.
After her death, I hung it in the pantry, among the pickles and preserves.