The Curmudgeon


Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Father of Teeth

Text for today: II Pulp xxxix-lviii

Fortunately, however, the Father of Teeth eluded them by becoming a pixel in the screen of a monitor belonging to a developer working on an exceptionally saccharine video game. For several months the Father of Teeth lurked a few millimetres from the bottom left-hand corner of the screen, turning various pastel shades as required and deploring the developer's lack of artistic ambition.

His position in the screen meant that the Father of Teeth was mainly required to serve as part of the ground, taking on the insipid shades of well-kept lawns and lush forest floors; during indoor scenes he had to acquire the hue of polished floorboards or, very occasionally, the brighter shades of embroidered rugs. It was a discreet and undemanding existence, and almost no attention was paid the Father of Teeth by either his fellow pixels, which were entirely devoid of intelligent conversation, or by the game designer, whose gaze tended to concentrate itself more towards the centre of the screen where the action, such as it was, generally took place.

At last the interested parties who pursued the Father of Teeth broke into the developer's den and fought their way across the vistas of half-eaten takeaways and discarded underwear to demand the surrender of their quarry. Searching zealously for information, they seized the developer and sank their fists into his paunch. Meanwhile the Father of Teeth, though sincerely glad that the tedium had been broken, remained prudently discreet in brightness, contrast and colour tone. Indeed, so modest was the Father of Teeth that the interested parties never even thought of smashing up the developer's monitor along with the developer himself.

When the interested parties lost interest and departed, leaving the developer groaning on the floor amid blood-spattered clothing and cracked equipment, the Father of Teeth depixellated himself and stood forth from the screen. At this the developer was much astounded, and sat up abruptly, clutching a nearly clean takeaway container in which his left upper canine chattered in time with the shaking of his hand, because the interested parties had left it there in case he should require it later on.

"Why didn't you show yourself when they were beating me up?" demanded the developer, as reverence in the face of the miraculous gave way to righteous indignation on behalf of the self, in accordance with the Second Law of Theodynamics.
"It was hardly my place to interfere," replied the Father of Teeth, "and in any case there were four of them. It's considered unwise to manifest when outnumbered; you can curtail your immortality that way, if you're not careful."
"You might have scared them off with those gums of yours," grumbled the developer. "Why don't the likes of you ever concern yourselves with the sufferings of the likes of me?"
The Father of Teeth shook his head sadly. "And you're in the entertainment business," he said.


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