Beyond the Pale

By Tamara Hunter

Theobold stalked into the drawing room and flung himself on the couch, disgusted.

“Bunch of philistines,” he spat, staring moodily at the Kliban on the wall.

Did nobody, he asked himself, understand his delicate artistic temperament? Did nobody appreciate the lengths to which he went so as to bring a sliver of light into their pathetic lives? Did nobody CARE that every night he gave them his all – surrendering precious sleep in order to leaven the sheer monotony of their existence?

He sniffed. Clearly they didn’t deserve his particular breed of brilliance. Well, he wasn’t going to do it to himself again. No way was he going to continue to dangle his self-esteem before them, inviting them to take pot shots at his dignity.

Ellen entered the room, all bustling business and blank intellect as she deposited a vase of fresh flowers on the side table and straightened a few ornaments.

“Oh Theobold,” she said, as she swept from the room. “You look so unhappy. Do take your dirty feet off the couch, though, there’s a pet.”

Theobold glared. There it was again – that insufferable condescension. That utter disregard for his status as house genius and performance prodigy. What was a little dirt when ranged against gifts such as his?

She’d miss it, he thought darkly. She might not have two brain cells to rub together, but she’d miss it when it dawned on her that her life was suddenly devoid of all creative meaning, leaving her to come face to face with her own insignificance.

As a pool of afternoon sunlight fell onto the couch, his eyes drifted shut. He fell to dreaming, twitching occasionally as he saw himself on a giant stage lit by a solitary spotlight – crowds of adoring fans gazing at him in awe.

When he woke it was with renewed determination. It wasn’t Ellen’s fault she was an ignorant philistine. It was his duty to educate her, and the others – to keep thrusting excellence upon them until a little of it rubbed off.

He leapt from the couch, suffused with enthusiasm. Darkness had fallen and moonlight was just trickling through the boughs of the elm outside. Perfect.

He slipped through the side door and stretched. He glanced at the dully glowing window above – ah yes, she’d be climbing into bed.

Leaping nimbly onto the fence, he cleared his throat by way of warm-up and began to yowl.

Less than a minute in, the window flew open and Ellen’s furious, tousled head appeared. Shouts of dismay filtered across from neighbouring houses and shoes appeared as if from nowhere, narrowly missing Theobold mid-caterwaul.

“Dammit Theobold!” Ellen shouted. “If you don’t get inside now you’re on cut-rate kibble for a week!”

Theobold threw her a pained look but continued to yowl his lines, knowing his martyrdom would be worth it – after all, what higher good could there be, but Art?

“Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune…”

One Response to Beyond the Pale

  1. alphabetagemma says:

    Love it! So well written and made me laugh out loud. I can picture it all so well. I have been guilty of giving serious, old-fashioned names to my real-life pets. ‘Theobold’ is fantastic!

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