Sunday, April 08, 2007


By Archibald Cromwell


Johnson's dinner has been interrupted by an unexpected phone call. Reluctantly, he puts down his knife and fork and picks up the receiver. From the other end of the line comes an explosion of phlegmy coughs, and then a soft Cockney voice mumbles something about platinum credit cards.

How would you like it if I called your house at dinner? a furious Johnson barks into the phone. Silence. Johnson repeats his question, louder than before. Now the voice on the other end of the line is no more than a hoarse, tear-choked whisper, informing Johnson that there are no telephones at the orphanage. And dinner? Only porridge made from sawdust and mule hooves, says the voice. Muffled sobbing ensues.

Dammit to hell, Johnson mutters, slamming down the receiver. What clever mind games these waifs do play!


Driving to work one morning, Henderson's car is sideswiped by an enormous SUV. Both vehicles pull off onto the side of the highway. Henderson walks up to the SUV and sees a small, coal-smudged waif sitting in the driver's seat.

The child doffs his soiled cap and introduces himself as Li'l Tibbits. He admits that he really has no idea how to drive the Cadillac Escalade ― me 'orseless carriage, he infuriatingly insists on calling it ― and seems less concerned with the damage to Henderson's car than he is with rummaging under the seat for a crust of bread to nibble.

And if that wasn't enough, the miserable guttersnipe soon begins whimpering about how he's going to be late for his 16-hour shift at the smelter.


Martin arrives home to find a trail of tattered tweed clothing leading from the living room to the bedroom. He flings open the bedroom door to find his wife locked in a passionate embrace with ― yes, a wretched little waif! Overcome with rage, Martin raises his briefcase high above his head and rushes to confront his wife and her ragamuffin paramour. And it is only as he nears the bed does he notice the impressive musculature of the waif's forearms, which are covered in thick black hair and numerous nautical-themed tattoos.

Suddenly, Martin realizes that this is not a waif at all. Why, his wife is walking through a garden of carnal delights with none other than Butch, the diminutive longshoreman from down the street! Martin is strangely comforted by this fact. Butch, meanwhile, leaps from the bed and, hardback copy of the Kama Sutra in hand, lands several powerful blows to the cuckold's head before resuming his marathon love-making session with Mrs. Martin.

(Author Archibald Cromwell is singularly inspired by his distaste for Victorian street children.)


Hugh Jorgan said...

When I think of a waif, I think of Kate Moss and snorting heroin. That, to me, is a much happier image than a 16-hour shift in the smelter by a dirty little boy.

Archibald Cromwell (author) said...

Well, when I think of a waif, I think of the terrible gang of street urchins that ran over my dear grandfather with a steam-powered circus calliope!

wilson said...

i once ran for city council on a "purge the waifs" platform, and got about 30% of the vote, i think.

Archibald Cromwell (author) said...

Bravo! I applaud your sense of civic duty.