the death of botulism smith

‘ah, it seems writers make good fuel,’ offered cyril prognost.
‘well, botulism always was a fat bastard, cyril.’
‘that’s not very appropriate, mr entwhistle, is it, at the poor bastard’s funeral?’
‘jenny, i didn’t really mean anything by it. but damn – spontaneous human combustion …’
‘a myth-making heap of bullshit being put about by thomas carnegie, the journalist who has his new biography of botulism out this week.’
‘so then, jenny, what is it that happened?’
‘well, botulism had been working on his new novel …’
‘called 666 i believe?’
‘yes, cyril, that’s correct. it is – not to give too much away – a novel of 666 parts, each 666 words long, about 666 individuals who are responsible for the end of the world.’
‘and he was writing this at the time of his death?’
‘well, he was resting between typing sessions.’
‘oh.’
‘yes, and he sat down next to the electric fire and went to sleep with a whiskey in his hand.’
‘wait a minute – an electric fire? who really uses those anymore?’
‘well, botulism did, why? because he believed it to be cheaper.’
‘did he finish the book?’
‘oh, yeah – i mean just an early draft as things go, but yes, it was complete – this was the first transcribing from pencil to type.’
‘pencil, and you said type as if he was using an actual typewriter?’
‘yes, entwhistle, when was the last time you saw him?’
‘a while back i suppose – i just assumed he would have moved with the times given his success.’
‘not really – he would buy the strangest things with his money, which i suppose was his prerogative.’
‘strange, how, jenny? i mean you probably knew botulism better than any of us, and there wasn’t really anything normal about him, so what do you consider to be strange?’
‘he had a thing for shrunken heads and he liked frogs too – little china frogs.’
‘oh,’ said three in unison.
botulism had a respectable number of column inches as epitaph and a sudden surge in booksales explainable by the curiosity of his case as presented in carnegie’s biography. rumours of a movie circulated. when 666 was released botulism fever reached its apex and began a slow steady decline thereafter.

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