The dark sordid days were upon us. E-mail, relentlessly hammered
into the hearts and minds of our people, handwriting, all but
banned by the Fascist Pig Ruling Class, knuckles irreparably
shattered for the mere whiff of royal blue, emerald green,
burgundy, sepia. Only one force stood tall for the true
believers, the last shining bastion between the fear-throbbing
heart of civilized script and the howling demons of
cyber-madness, the valiant brotherhood and stalwart sisters of:
The Church of the Inky Pinky.
Eusebius Thrombose crept warily from the darkened doorway of the
abandoned warehouse basement. The members were careful, the
meetings well-guarded and locations changed weekly, but the Pen
Police were fiendishly clever. There were spies everywhere,
checking for stained fingers and telltale breast-pocket bulges,
savage trained ink-sniffing hounds that could bring a scribe down
in seconds - and keep him that way; even nefarious satellite
surveillance of every last shipment of ink from the few hidden
factories remaining secreted in the remote mountainous regions of
There though, of course, ink had sustained whole families of
proud artistes for generation upon generation, and there, though,
the palm-pilot and cell-phone festooned agents of the Pen Police
oft vanished tracelessly, permanently, the infernal chirps,
whirrs and beeps of their pagers, laptops, spectrograph ink
detectors and G.P.S. monitors silenced forever.
Recalling the topic of this week's meeting, Eusebius reached in
his vest-pocket as he furtively shuffled, white-fingeredly
fondling a tightly-rolled copy of the latest establishment
outrage. They'd spattered the streets with a so-called "survey"
purporting to show the manifestations of chronic "inkoholism."
This latest emanation from the electron elite claimed to offer
clemency for those who would step forward, renounce their
birthright and spit upon the grave of John Hancock:
"If you, or a loved one, feel shame and despair about one or more
of these warning signs, we urge you to contact your local
authorities for compassionate support services and nurturing
guidance. At times, just the appearance of furtive behavior is
really a secret cry for help - so please, let us help before it's
Of course, the document was despicably cruel, uncompromising and,
as Eusebius was forced to admit, contained just enough kernels of
the truth to hurt but just enough lies to kill. His section-
stained lips twisted into a sardonic grimace. Compassionate
support. "Nurturing" guidance. Amnesty. Oh, yes. All would be
Those church members who had buckled and flung themselves upon
the mercy of their persecutors, had for the most part never been
heard from again. At least, not... whole. Thrombose had
encountered an old friend not long ago, a friend from the glory
days of fantastic rococo signatures and all-night "ink-sampling"
parties. The man was a pathetic wraith, but a shell of his former
self. Lurching and stumbling, drool dripping into his plastic
pocket protector packed chock-full of felt-tips and disposable
ballpoints, it was all the wretch could do to mumble, "Serif?
Sans serif! Serif? Sans serif!" He didn't recognize Thrombose at
all. The young Eusebius had even loved once, loved Isabella. A
wood nymph, a vibrant young sylph, Isabella, whose looping
descenders grew roots with the Goddess, whose streaming ascenders
had reached for the stars. The electroshock therapy and Thorazine
had cured that forever.
There were few alternatives to the government "re-programming"
camps. Thrombose had never been scared of the effects of his
habit, not really, he knew he could quit any time he wanted. From
dread of the stigma and law though, he had once even contacted a
purported "self-help" program. When he finally got through to
www.rent_a_life.com and asked about "rehab", they told him his
credit was maxed out from "mysterious" purchases - admittedly,
spare cash had been not a problem, not the last few years. They
couldn't help him, they said, turn yourself in; at very last they
offered him up to 1-800-MY-COFFIN. He'd known of scribes who had
"eaten the nib"; even risking the church was better than that.
The purple-prose'd manifesto of the "official" final solution,
set in a nauseous squirming computer-generated font, queried:
WHAT BITTER SACRIFICE DEMANDS THE INK IDOL! Can YOU Answer these
QUESTIONS with PRIDE?
- Do you fret over whether your choice of ink color is going to
make you seem "WEIRD" to the neighbors? Worse yet, are you scared
that your ink won't be "DISTINCTIVE" enough when the scouts from
"Pen World" magazine come through on their talent hunt?
- Have you spend HUNDREDS or even THOUSANDS more DOLLARS on
little gizmos of gold and plastic than on the computer you USE to
make a LIVING?
- Do you often leave the house in the morning armed with FIVE
pens, to make FOUR signatures, on THREE forms, TWICE, at ONE
desk, knowing full well that nobody else even CARES?
- Are you SUPER-friendly to total strangers, but ONLY at garage
sales and junkshops?
- Have you ever found yourself ferociously HARANGUING innocent
bystanders about the CRUCIAL differences between "celluloid",
"acrylic", "precious resin" and "plastic"?
- How many times a week do you find yourself idly MOONING over a
smartly-arranged phalanx of the aforementioned gizmos, with a
goofy little GRIN on your face?
- Have you ever felt like walking up to a total STRANGER, asking
them to define "ebonite feeder comb" then RIDICULING them for
- Do you wake up in the middle of the NIGHT with the cold
sweats, wondering if "Penman" is irrevocably RUINING your
- Just HOW dishonest with your family, friends and employers
about the cost of your habit ARE you, really?
- Do you still secretly HOPE that your signature is going to be
"discovered" and make you rich and famous beyond your wildest
dreams? Has anyone ELSE ever told you that this is how the world
- Suppose you were alone in a locked room with:
A) your absolute favorite fountain pen;
B) a total stranger;
C) a chair;
D) a blunt object.
What do you think might HAPPEN if the stranger sat on your pen
and CRACKED it?
- How long has it been since you've re-inked each of your
FORTY-SEVEN "daily users?" I'll bet you KNOW, don't you?