Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Story of Perkeo

I will now continue the story of my time spent with Patrick Bossert. After he had dismissed the wretched, twisted dwarf, Bossert bade me sit, then told me the following in his thin and reedy schoolboy voice:

Mr Carew, I will break from my habitual rhyming mode of speech in order to talk candidly. Oh yes, poetry often yields the greatest truths - on that point there can be no doubt - but I find it can become tiresome and meaningless if one draws out the parlour trick too long.

I perceive that you resent your treatment at the hands of my dwarf, Perkeo. Please do not judge him too harshly for pain and debasement is all he has ever known. I designed him myself, you know. Oh yes, it is true. How, you ask? Tell me Mr Carew, have you ever heard of the Comprachicos? No? Then I will tell you.

'Comprachicos' is a compound Spanish word meaning 'child buyers'. The Comprachicos were an association of 17th century itinerants which traded in children. At the time, there was an enormous demand among the aristocracy for human freaks: dwarfs, hunchbacks, people with one leg slightly longer than the other, and the whole gambit of human monstrosities. They were so popular at Court that it even became common for royalty and the upper echelons of Spanish society to rampantly interbreed in an effort to produce deformed offspring. Well, the Comprachicos saw an opening in the market and began to manufacture human oddities.

They would always purchase babies, for the younger the child, the greater the opportunity to corrupt their physical purity. Who would sell their children into a life of unspeakable torment you ask? Your confusion speaks of your naivety Mr Carew. The lowest, poorest, and most hopeless of our world can always be relied upon to exploit those more helpless than themselves. A familial bond is infinitely weaker than the bond between mankind and money. Pardon Mr Carew? Indeed, a familial bond is likely weaker than a James Bond too, but let us ignore this for the moment.

The Comprachicos would break bones and mutilate faces. It became something of an artform. Freaks could be made to order. If, through some perversion, a wealthy nobleman desired an armless man with the features of a Doberman Pinscher, or an eight foot woman with a head the size and shape of a sugar beet, then this could easily be arranged. A specialist branch of monster making arose whereby babies were held until adulthood in distorted jugs. Over the years their bodies grew to fill the shape of the oddly shaped jugs, and when the poor creatures' growing was judged to have ended, the jugs were smashed and the warped creatures hobbled out with hideously entertaining jug-shaped bodies. The jug shards were collected and sold as cheap and affordable crazy paving.

Yes, I designed my dwarf, Perkeo, using the methods of the Comprachicos. I flatter myself that I have done very well for a first attempt: his wretched body appears irreparably knotted. You look appalled, Mr Carew. Do not fret - I designed Perkeo as a puzzle, which I fully intend to solve on some idle afternoon when my interest leans that way. Yes, I believe that, using secret surgery techniques of my own devising, I can wholly unknot and untwist the low creature like a human Rubick's Cube. I can make of him a fine figured man of tall stature and unblemished features whenever I choose. Why not now, you ask? do not have the mind of a puzzler, Mr Carew. A puzzle solved is a puzzle lost. Besides, Perkeo is so much easier to kick in his current shape....

Reminding myself of Bossert's monstrous cruelty has drained me, dear readers. I am forced to stop for the moment. At any rate, the final of How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? is on shortly and I need to see which girl will win the grand prize of working with Andrew Lloyd Webber on a day to day basis: any girl's dream.

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