raymond was not a person who inspired much interest in other people.
he was not much to look at, or to talk to or listen to.
he was the kind of human male your grandparents would call a wimp, and your niece or nephew a douche.
he was inclined to let his fellow humans get the best of him, and take advantage of his wishy-washy nature.
he had an old phone in his apartment. although he was paying the phone company a few cents a month for caller i d just like the rest of the human race, the phone was so old it did not have a screen for that purpose.
he would often answer the telemarketing or unsolicited calls he got , and find himself giving ten or twenty dollars here or there - “just to get rid of them” - for veterans or breast cancer or children’s this or that, or refugees from isis or whatever.
finally the old phone died and he had to buy a new one.
he belatedly realized the wonders of caller i d. now he could see the names of his solicitors - and he quickly realized that “person unknown” or “unknown number” were always solicitors too.
he was no longer “obliged” to donate the small sums as before. he started having a little more money in his pocket.
what raymond did not realize was this:
the small amounts of generosity he had been displaying had been just enough to put him in the top fifty percent of the human race who qualified as good people and would go to heaven, and ceasing them dropped him down into the bottom fifty percent who were bad people and would go to hell.
less than a year after getting caller i d, raymond had a heart attack and dropped dead.
a couple of demons came and took his soul and put it on the download train to hell.
as the train pulled out, raymond looked out the window and wondered where he had gone wrong.
but no one ever explained it to him, and he never figured it out himself.
morrison happened to be at the f—— — — club when the unfortunate dustup occurred between caldwell and burnaby, and after a few meaningful glances from the other members who were present, he attempted to negotiate a truce between them.
caldwell assumed his usual air of slightly self-satisfied indifference, as if to say, “come now, is this really worth arguing about?” - his habitual pose after deliberately provoking someone in his sly way.
but what, really, could good old morrison do? after listening to both sides, he cleared his throat snd addressed burnaby -
“well, old fellow, i agree that caldwell here could have been a little more tactful - i might even venture to say, a bit more gentlemanly in the way he expressed himself - but after all, we are not children here, to cry about hurt feelings, eh? i suppose one member of the f———— club can express himself in a forthright fashion to another member, can he not? and on any subject he pleases, eh?”
“but not about that!” burnaby cried wrathfully. “not that!”
and despite’s morrison’s effort to restrain him, he rushed out the door, down the stairs and into the street, where a steady rain was falling.
poor jeffsworth had to be despatched after him, to give him his hat and umbrella.
although the incident was never spoken of, the feeling of good fellowship at the f—— — — club had been irretrievably punctured, and the club began its slow decline.
sometimes, on rainy afternoons, i can still hear burnaby crying - “not that! not that!”