The parable of the naked smorgasbord doppelganger

I can’t make an ellipsis, and it’s killing me.

It’s usually fatal, yes. Kraaa.

I try doing three full stops. They fail to automatically team up into a single glyph. I bemoan the decline of the Spirit of the Blitz.

Oh sure, World War Two Londoners had no trouble persuading three little dots to shift slightly closer together, scrawk raag, what with their communal sense of punctuation. On their laptop screens. In 1940s England. I expect that was what kept them safe from all those bombs. This is just like that.

I try doing an em dash, and I can’t do that either. I also can’t do diacritical marks, leaving the accented words I type creepily naked, like a doppelganger eating crepes at a cafe smorgasbord. I want to kill myself.

Funny you should say that, craaaAAAaw. It’s a little known fact that keyboard gremlins are usually what set off those self-immolating Tibetan monks.

I look up. The Pteranodon of Ptruth gazes back at me from its blu-tack perch on top of my new laptop.

Sorry, was I talking out loud? Sreeg.

‘I know where you’re going with this.’

Only I was just thinking—

‘Don’t you dare.’

that there is

‘I paid good money for this thing.’

a hashtag for this. Preek.

I #headdesk. #FML, I think. #WTF. #PteranodonofPtruth.

Warmer. Warmer. Red hot. Cold. Squeee.

I lurch up from my keyboard. ‘I know which arse-bastarding hashtag you mean!’ I say. ‘It’s for people who moan about scorched latte milk or slightly inferior jalapeños in their ten-dollar food-truck tacos!’


‘THIS IS NOT A FIRST-WORLD PROBLEM. Well it is, but it’s a proper one. I paid quite a lot of money for this laptop, which I need to use for my job, which is writing. If I can’t type some characters I need … well, it’s more or less useless.’

— have you noticed —

‘Quiet, I’m monologuing. If the laptop can’t do its job, then all my first-world money, and the first-world money that went into designing it, and the third-world labour that built it, and the rare elements they dug out of third-world countries to make it, are wasted. It’s like someone bought a luxury yacht and it turned out there were no toilets on it. Yes the yacht is luxurious, but it’s still a problem if the rich nobs on board have to crap over the side—’

— would you just —

‘I’m not some frivolous roué in a … in some sort of façade of—’



Say that second last word again.

‘Façade. Why?’


‘Why’s that suddenly working?’

I think you head-butted the ‘num lock’ key before. Gräk.

‘Is that … which one is — oh. It’s quite hard to see in that corner.’

The Pteranodon of truth looks at me. Äänittäjää, it says.

‘Is that a pteranodon swear?’ I ask.

I think it’s Finnish for ‘recording engineer’, says the pteranodon. But it’ll do for now.

Originally published in the King's Tribune.