“All the good obvious ones were already taken,” Ross said. “Usually by someone who tweeted four times and has been silent for a year or more.”
“It seems to me,” Maury said from deep within his armchair, “that given your mission to pollute the waterways of the web, you could have gone with a persona named something like Cloaca Max.”
“Ah!” Ross tossed his hand up, open-palmed. “Didn’t think of that! Of course, not so many people know what the Cloaca Maxima was.”
“Imagine,” I said, “if you could make a living off an online persona like that: you would earn your e-wages from ewage on the cloaca, Max.”
Ross raised an eyebrow and advanced towards me with index finger waggling. “You’ve been looking up my name.”
“‘Been looking’?” I said. “I only needed to do it once. And anyway, better to look up your name than to look up your anything else.”
“His cloaca?” Daryl chipped in.
“He’s not a monotreme,” Maury said.
“A name like yours takes its toll,” I said.
“It does, in fact,” Ross said, “and not just because ewage is an obsolete word for a toll on a waterway.”
“Oh,” said Daryl, “I thought it was some amount of ‘ew’ – ’Oh, everything in there is gross, there’s just so much ewage to be encountered.’”
“Do I make fun of your name?” Ross asked Daryl.
“If you haven’t made something vulgar of it yet,” Daryl said, “it’s only because you haven’t thought of a good way to do so.”
Ross smiled slightly. “Point conceded. Expect something soon.”
“I would have thought,” Maury said, “ewage was what one kept in a ewer.”
“As in,” I said, “‘Who’s the vulgarest of them all? Ewer!’”
“Well,” Ross said, “they are cognate. The ew in both is from Latin aqua via French eau. This is also true of the ew in sewer – and the s is for ex.”
“Everything comes back to sex with you sooner or later,” Daryl said.
“Could be worse,” I said. “Could be Edgar and Marilyn.”
Maury looked over at the door. “I believe it is Edgar and Marilyn. Speak of the devils and they appear.”
And indeed the matched black leather outfits of Edgar Frick and Marilyn Frack came creaking through the door. Marilyn paused to flip her feet up in turn and examine the soles of her shoes.
“Step in something?” Daryl asked.
“The neighbours’ pipes burst or backed up or something,” Edgar said.
“And we had to avoid raw sewage,” Marilyn added.
“Well,” Maury said, nodding towards Ross, “I’m sorry to say you’ve just walked right into him.”