“Geezer”, sighed the bald little man, “this is London, rip-off centre of the world. As they say, ‘Walloons devise, Londoners revise’.”

The long-haired man shifted awkwardly, twiddling his cheap codpiece. “It’s not just a matter of copying – my master has certain… unusual requirements.”

“Heh, this part of town’s full of pretty girls who for the price of…”

“No, you lecherous fool, his requirements are about the manuscript. He says it has to look old – really old, as though God’s own angels had written it.”

“Must… have… angelic… script…”, muttered the mordant midget as he scribbled notes on a scrap of paper. “Hold on a mo’, your master must have that spooky German abbot’s book in his library – padiel aporsy mesarpon omeuas an’ all that, eh?”

“As yet he has not – but if you hear of a copy…”

“…yeah, I’ll whistle, don’t you worry, geezer”, soothed the midget, mysteriously noting down ‘humpty bonus real russet’ in his notes. “Anything else about this ancient fake he wants us to make?”

Kelley’s eyes raised and narrowed, as if he was looking at a far-off object. “My master wants hundreds of pictures threaded through the book – plants, star diagrams, and small naked women to please the reader’s eye.”

“Phwoah, your man does have ‘unusual requirements’ after all!”, snickered the faker. “Well, I can’t promise you no works of art, seeing as it’ll be the boy what does the drawings, he’s only eight, and he’ll be using his pregnant muvva as a drawing guide.”

“Well… OK… but be sure to tell your boy not to use any fashionable hairstyles or clothes, as it has to look really old…”

“Ah, clever stuff, matey-boy! You’ve really been workin’ this out, ain’tcha?”

Kelley ignored his uncouth patter, and continued counting an imaginary feature list on his fingers. “Use whatever size sheets of vellum you can get your hands on: oh, and use Cardano’s clever grilles to generate text that resembles the patterns of language. It’s simple once you get going, I’m told.”

Now I’m beginnin’ to see where you’re headin'”, chortled the little old guy, a shy grin smirking its way across his toothless face. “Howsabout we also make it look like loads of people have owned it? You know, shuffle the pages around, rebind it several times, flip the leaves around, add little comments in the margins, add fake wear-marks along various folds, overpaint it in twenty different paints and styles. If we leave all kinds of different fake clues for your buyer’s so-called experts, it’ll take them centuries to figure out how we turned ’em over, the suckers!”

“Now you’re just being ridiculous!“, snorted Kelley as he pushed the fake factory manager aside and marched off into the crowd. “What kind of a fool would go to that much trouble?”

“Hmmm… what kind, indeed?” mumbled the old man to himself. “Get me my quill, boy – I’m feeling inspired…”

One thought on “The Fake Factory

  1. All this time and nobody’s commented on “humpty bonus real russet”. Still makes me laugh. 🙂

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