Short & Nasty
by Darrell Schweitzer
That was the old way, Henry, when we were young. Remember?
When we two were in college together, when everybody else was reading Hermann Hesse, we were heavily “into” Gothic novels – Monk Lewis, Mrs. Radcliffe, and the ever prolific Anonymous – the early Romantics, De Quincey, Byron, Keats, Mary Shelley – in short anybody who seemed suitably exquisite, melancholy, and doomed for Art’s sake.
Remember how we used to try to top each other’s affectations, just for the fun of it, the outrageous, frilly clothes, the sweeping gestures, the dialogue never heard outside of a bad costume flick: ‘I say, old chap, I think I shall take up opium. It’s so frightfully decadent.
‘I much prefer laudanum, old bean. The visions of Hell are much more vivid that way.’
Neither of us could have fooled a real Briton for a minute, by the way. Our accents were pure college theater. I suppose most of our classmates just thought we were gay.
Ah, with a sweeping sigh. We had joy; we had fun; we had seasons in the crypt.