So as not be tempted to lie through them, I have sold my gold teeth to a milkman who rolls cigarettes with one hand, using his other hand to bid at auction for broken timepieces.

Like gold, lies are precious, and as such are subject to hoarding. Like gold, lies are secreted in vaults such as the mouth. Like gold, lies are malleable and can be moulded and shaped into all manner of forms, including being hammered into micron-thin leaves which turn to dust if you so much as breathe on them. The milkman paid me with a promise and a Pepsodent smile, making off on a black mare after advising me to call my mother and the emergency services. Telephonic communication is a hoax. Hello? Ma? You’re six feet under? No matter. I thought you oughta be the first to know; I’ve sold my teeth, and my right ear is on fire.

Interlocution contaminated by subterfuge can lead to spontaneous combustion of the ear. Telephonic communication is a hoax. Akin to Chinese restaurants, where there is only one vast subterranean kitchen with a myriad of pneumatic conduits through which food is dispatched to eateries worldwide, telephonic communication is a hoax. Hello? Vivaldi dunked in molasses. Sinatra with extra cheese. Hello? Shanghai Diner? Sweet and sour mendacity is on the menu, right? Add a bucketload of dim sums to my equation. MIMIC clears its throat. Crackle of intergalactic static, a vocal data search. Antiquated, but what’s an attosecond’s delay between nonentities? How are you? Want flied lice? Me? I’m fine. Divorcees really make it. How about you? Spling lolls? Put you through to customer service? We’re sorry, your call cannot be taken, the Justice Department is on hiatus. Perfect pitch. All the right quirks of pronunciation, patois, euphonic nuances, glottal stops, and lexical flavours-of-the-month. Hip-hop remix of mummified matriarch. Castrati chorus of chilled Fire Department. And standing before a vibrant flag that conceals shady obscenities, our sponsor mutters prayers. Please no need read fortune cookie, got plenty bad news. Want bill please now yes?

MIMIC gets on its feet to cut the rug. In its normal state—that’s to say inside its bottle—the zoomorphic MIMIC resembles a comic-book Cro-Magnon dwarf. Released, the observer will note that it is double-jointed, endowed with a polymorphic physiognomy, kinetic hair, chameleon skin, hypnotic eyes and a forked tongue, MIMIC can transmute into one and all. I love you. Only through war can we achieve peace. The corporation regrets your dismissal, but will not tolerate your choice in neckties. Want flied lice? The cellphone melts. A glance in a passing polished toecap reveals one ear, mutilated, spattered with globules of molten silicone chips and warped circuitry. From the phone’s remains Vivaldi, Sinatra … a cartoon voice squawks … I lay my hands on you, you are dead meat. With extra pepperoni? Wires perpetually crossed. MIMIC does a persona shift. Solly, liss Chinese lestlaunt. Spling lolls? Clispy duck? I don’t love you anymore. Pass me the hammer, for my lies are obese and impure. All major credit cards excepted. Our mechanic couldn’t find anything wrong with your vehicle, but our resident gumshoe says your orientation predicament is because someone ingested your steering wheel. Found teethmarks on the gold vinyl dashboard. I’m really sorry about your ear. Maybe it’s karma—that Van Gogh T-shirt you wear twenty-four-seven. For the record, I never lied. I merely dissembled the truth. That noise? Just my personal trainer doing push-ups in my back parlour. It—we—was all a terrible mistake. Shanghaied? Sweet and soured? We must do lunch. Gobble your gear lever?

Go forth as a panhandler and prospect for lies. Get blind drunk on distilled starry eye mucus and daydream as oldtimers spin yarns to moths orbiting a magic lantern. Drag your hangover to a bayou of a gender of your predilection, spit on your palms and reach for your pickaxe. A fine sieve is a vital piece of equipment. As is a pair of laboratory balanced scales. Sellotape your eyes shut and estimate the weight of your excavations. Not a bonanza of Klondike magnitude? Dig and pick until the tide runs red with gore and your head spins at 78 r.p.m. Vivatra. Sinaldi. You are in a queue and your call will soon be answered. We appreciate your custom.

Lies, like gold, are precious and are buried beneath layers of other material. Lies, like gold, get moulded into things they are not. Clispy duck? Once, before it got shanghaied, it had a head, beak and webbed feet, and beneath its delicate plumage beat a heart of pure gold.

Lies, like gold, can be forged for convenience. Wedding rings. A crucifix. A sarcophagus. Micron-thin sheets which turn to dust if you so much as breathe on them. Teeth.

So as not be tempted to lie through them, I have sold my gold teeth to a milkman who rolls cigarettes with one hand, using his other hand to bid at auction for broken timepieces.