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Vitae Lampada, Chapter 2

continuing on from the extract printed on the 22nd Jan:

If asked, he said he was doing his family history. There might not be a name for what he was hoping to find. At first he just clicked on advertisements or links beside news stories--“Why Women Fall for 'Mr. Average'” or “Do Detox Diets Really Work?” The emptiest of the empty. Gradually he discovered information clusters like About.com and MySpace, Yahoo Groups and Wikipedia. They hinted, skimmed the surface of curiousities: the I Ching, Ice Age Antarctica, biorhythms. He could have ordered the recommended books from Amazon, but that really would make Jenny worry, if he started reading.

And there was such a lot of religion, written firing squad lines of exclamation marks and LONG PHRASES IN CAPITAL LETTERS, in plain language but it never made sense. Thank god he never met one of those in person. He connected with no one; he rode search engines like trains to the ends of dozens of lines of enquiry. It only got more complex, academic dissertations and that sort of thing. Existentialism, where did that go? Metaphysics, applied ethics. They were tiring visits and he was usually glad to get back to his home page.

Valentines Day, Eddie Fleming's wife dropped dead ironing his shirts. They were no match made in heaven, but a shock is still a shock. Front room carpet had to be replaced to get rid of a haunting scorch mark. He went across the road to help with that and then there was the will and the insurances and her things to be packed up and given away. A Wednesday night routine started. Tea and sympathy, though Eddie wouldn't dwell long on his wife. He went back, back to days of short trousers, trainspotting, and favourite penny sweets.

“Now your family history,” Eddie said, because he'd been fed the line, “I bet that'll turn up interesting things, with a name like Bazlewicke. What'd your dad do, then?”

A kick in the teeth would have been kinder.

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