I (sometimes) call myself Mr. Pondersome. I'm a rather wordy, weirdy person. I say hullo a lot. I write a lot more. While you're here, why not give some of it a read?

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

LANTERN (a.k.a. The Last Story of 2014 - and it's Another Bloody Rehash)

Sophie is so excited that she gets to the park long before Addie does. As soon as she had read his text, she had told Wesley to take Matt up to bed while she just stepped out for a bit to check up on Mrs Davies down the road.
            The text reads: 'I've got your grand gesture. Meet me by the war memorial.'
            She has been waiting by the memorial for five minutes when Addie finally arrives. He holds a red paper lantern in his hands. It has a Chinese character on it.
            'It cost me a quid,' he admits, smiling.
            Sophie laughs. Cheap as this particular gesture is, she does appreciate how unpredictable Addie seems to be.
            'Did you bring a match?' Addie says.
            Sophie pulls out a handful.
            Addie laughs. 'Why didn't you just bring the whole box?'
            'Can I be the one to light it?'
            'Well it is for both of us.'
            Addie holds the lantern open while Sophie lights the first match. It fizzles out but she expected this. She doesn't trust supermarket brands.
            The breeze blows the touch paper closer to her face. It's right at the level of her eyes, square and black. A flattened box really. She strikes a successful match and covers it with her other hand. When she is sure that it will last, she lights a corner of the touch paper. She jumps back.
            Addie watches her face in the glow of the flame. A glimmer of enthusiasm fills her tired gaze, accompanied by an unexpectedly girlish whoop. He wets the forefinger of his spare hand again and checks the direction of the wind. North. He throws the lantern upward and jumps back too.
            The breeze catches the lantern and opens it out. It dithers midair for a bit so Addie steps forward. Sophie stops him with a hand on his stomach.
            'Don't,' she says. 'It's picking up.'
            The breeze blows more violently. They step back even further until their backs are pressed against the ivory on the park's outer wall. They move across to the nearest bench and sit down.
            The lantern is well above their heads now and finally moving north. Addie keeps checking the wind and Sophie keeps smiling at him. She thinks: no-one is perfect.
            Addie may be overcautious but he's not clumsy. There is little chance that he will ever let himself stumble into a trap, fall into a box. He is the one aspect of her life that doesn't do this, that isn't doomed to repeat the action. Matt, her five-year-old, fell into an actual box the other day; a cardboard one used for the widescreen television. It was easy to get him out. It wasn't so easy to draw Wesley, her thirteen-year-old, out of the faulty train boxcar he found himself trapped in only two months ago. The conductor had said he couldn't understand how it could have happened but Sophie could. It was one of those trains they keep reusing, the kind that was made in the 70's and supposedly built to last.
            Roderick, her husband, has been in jail for the last two years. Solitary confinement. He was an easy target for the rest of the inmates so he voluntarily entered a cell all to himself. His own little box.
            Sophie can't help but wonder what box she is destined for. A coffin? Not if she can help it, at least for a little while. Perhaps her own box was made by those around her. People call her poor Sophie, patient Sophie, smart Sophie, scared Sophie - all four corners closing in. Reactions to the clumsiness of her boys.
            Addie is her new boy. He is sweet and careful. He bought her a Chinese lantern, drew her out of the box that her home had become. What is best about him is that he looks her in the eye. At this very moment he has turned to check that she's happy. They kiss and watch the lantern rise to the level of the war memorial.

            Addie worries about the darkness, the distribution of light. If he can't see Sophie's eyes for even a moment, when he sees them again he won't be able to contain himself. He'll make a mess.
            Even the slightest uncovering of another person's eyes these days unsettles him. He blames the porn he used to watch, the women in glasses who didn't really need them other than to remove them for sexy effect. He blames all the beautiful bespectacled women he knows in his life that have helped to carry across this fantasy to the real world to the point that a simple removal of shades by a stranger in the street would be just as arousing.
            It isn't just women anymore, any person who happens to remove something from in front of their eyes is met with an inappropriate reaction from him and sometimes even climax. His mother removed her sleeping mask in front of him last week; he had to step outside. An old man was playing peek-a-boo with his granddaughter earlier today; it was just a good thing that Addie was sat down.
            He realises that it must be very amusing for those who catch sight of this embarrassment, that his close friends must chuckle when they consider it outside of his company. The sudden spasms prevent him from laughing, his own accidental joy prevents him from seeing the joy other people might take from it.
            He, of course, hasn't told Sophie. He wants to keep looking her in the eyes, those unashamed eyes with the bags and the crow's feet and the lack of make-up. She doesn't even wear contact lenses. She is just herself when she looks out at the world, she is the kind of woman who has seen so much that she doesn't particularly care what people see when they look back at her. He admires her but he doesn't love her and he often wonders if she knows this. He doesn't want to see those green eyes fill with tears, especially if wiping them away factors into his condition. He will stay with her for now, make a few more grand gestures like these and see what happens. See what changes.
            Addie frowns as the lantern bounced off of the WWI soldier's helmet. The lantern is pulled away by a stiff gust which brings it level with a group of large trees on the second tier of the park. It keeps on, straight into a gap in the leaves.
            'Shit,' Sophie says.
            Addie runs down the slope and starts climbing the tree. Sophie catches up and offers to give him a boost. He manages to reach a low-hanging branch but it gives way in his hands and he falls back down. Sophie helps him up.
            'I'm fine,' Addie insists. 'Use the branch.'
            Sophie picks it up. It is long enough to reach the lantern but she has to stand on the tips of her toes. She only tears a hole in the paper with the first attempt but brings the whole thing down in the second. Addie stomps on the lantern as soon as it hits the path.
            Sophie turns back to him. 'Are you okay?'
            'Yeah,' Addie replies. 'Just a scratch.' He points to the mark on his cheek, just below his right eye.
            Sophie grabs his head and brings it in close. She can't see the scratch well in the dark but Addie can certainly see her. The glimmer is almost gone in her eyes.
            They pull away from one another, both glancing down at the crumpled lantern instead.
            'The tree looks fine,' Sophie remarks.
            'It's starting to rain too,' Addie adds. 'Look, I really should go. My mum won't sleep unless I'm home.'
            Sophie nods. 'The same goes for my boys.'
            With a final peck on the cheek, they both turn back to where they each came from. Sophie thinks about Addie going back to his house, his mother waiting to lock up. Addie thinks about Sophie's sons, if he has ever met them on the street by accident. They should have known, they should have expected this.
            By the time they both get back, the lantern has all but disintegrated, it's unknown character fading into the concrete. 

Thursday, 25 December 2014

CHRISTIAN SNOWBALLS REDUX (a.k.a. An Old Story Redecorated for Christmas Day)

Nicky was the first to notice that it had been snowing overnight, mainly because he couldn't pull his old curtains properly closed anymore. He had spent most of the early morning watching the snow fall and waiting for 7am to come around so he could get everyone together outside.
            Dave was next door and the easiest to wake, literally just a case of Nicky sticking his arm out of the window and tapping on the glass of Dave's. When Dave was up he rang Jaskaran and asked him to bring Dania along. They all met in the side street beside the Methodist church.
            The rules were simple and referred mostly to do with taking cover: cars were okay but they should avoid the ones with the oversensitive alarms. Aside from that you could hit any part of the opposing team using whatever 'filling' you wanted for the snowball. Dave asked Nicky to change this rule but Nicky insisted that most of the melted snow would wash off whatever colourful mess was left behind.
            The battle commenced: Nicky lumbered with Dave and Dania bossing Jaskaran around as usual. The snowballs flew as fast and frequently as the complaints. It didn't take long before Dania started utilising the streak of yellow snow beside the left tire of the Citreon protecting her and Jaskaran from Nicky's current onslaught. She waited until he had paused between the last two snowballs to launch it and caught him right on the chin.
            'Dirty cheat!' Nicky shouted at her.
            'All's fair.' Dania put on the voice she used when mimicking her mother.
            Dave stood up. 'What did she use?'
            Dania lobbed another yellow snowball at him.
            'Ow!' he cried out. He wiped his cheek. 'Jaskaran! I thought you weren't going to let her use that stuff.'
            'She's on my team, Dave.' Jaskaran said, shrugging his shoulders. 'It worked.'
            Nicky ducked down behind the clapped out Vauxhall Astra, the one owned by the Methodist priest. He forced Dave down after him.
            'Give me all those tiny ones you were working on,' Nicky said.
            Dave passed him two at a time. When Nicky started squishing them together, he soon joined in.
            'Can't see anything to put in it though.' Dave glanced around him. 'No screws or anything like that.'
            Nicky gave him a look. 'Piss is all right but you can't throw screws at a girl. Besides,' he said, weighing the massive deformed snowball in his hands. 'this'll work fine.'
            Dave stood up first, valiantly sacrificing his red fluffy coat to what turned out to be a barrage of thankfully clean snowballs. Dania's yellow supply must have finally run low. When she was all out, Dave moved back so Nicky could cast forth his white monstrosity. Unfortunately it buckled under its own weight and smashed just in front of the Citreon. Nevertheless it landed so heavily that clumps flew everywhere, catching Jaskaran's ungloved hands and some of Dania's dreadlocks. The largest piece flew the farthest and inexplicably the highest, crashing against the side door to the Methodist church. The sheer force of the snowball knocked the already rusting crucifix adornment from off its place.
            Everyone stopped. An unspoken declaration of peacetime was called as Nicky moved around the bonnet of the Vauxhall and approached the fallen cross. The others gathered around him.
            Dania and Jaskaran started up an almighty 'aww' of exaggerated fear.
            'Leave it off, eh?' Dave said to Jaskaran. Dania stopped as well.
            'So what are you going to do?' she said to Nicky.
            Nicky picked up the cross with his gloved hands and checked the damage. 'Knackered' was his final verdict. He rested it against the doorstep and brushed the bits of corroded iron from his hands.
            Jaskaran frowned at him. 'Is that all?'
            'You're not going to let them know?' Dave said.
            Nicky shook his head. 'My mum would kill me if a priest came knocking.'
            'Who won then?' Dania said. 'Us?'
            'Course not.' Nicky turned to her. 'Rematch tomorrow.'
            'Here again?'
            They left it at that and all went home. Dave had to go see his cousins that afternoon, Dania was spending time with her dad and Jaskaran had a FIFA 2014 match to play online. Nicky just sat on his bed.
            The next day Nicky woke up late. He had been using his dad's old wristwatch as an alarm clock and it seemed to have finally packed in. He threw on his clothes, grabbed the nearest coat and stepped into his ankle length boots. There was a lot of noise but it didn't stir his mother in her armchair.
            Dave hadn't been in his room when Nicky knocked, presumably because he was waiting in the park with the others. Perhaps they had stopped waiting, perhaps they were already all pelting each other with fresh snow from the alcove. He had to get down there to check.
            He jumped out onto the pavement, almost slipping on the sleet. He kept a hand against the outer wall of his garden until he was steady again.
            As he approached the Methodist Church on the opposite side his gaze fell on the side door. The crucifix was back up, someone had even given it a quick polish by the looks of it. Nicky pulled off his glove to touch it lightly but stopped. A window on the second floor had suddenly burst open. Nicky carried on up the lane towards the park.
            He doubted that it had been the priest who put the cross back up, he didn't seem the handyman sort. This was a man who fumbled with his keys almost every morning. Someone else then, perhaps one of the regulars.
            Nicky was christened at this church but had never been back again since. He didn't know what Methodists praised or how it was different to other bits of Christianity. He didn't even know if any of them were particularly good with their hands.
            He was about to cross the road just as something small and cold hit the back of his neck. He managed to catch most of it before it slithered down his collar; a melting snowball. It had obviously been made in a hurry: an opportunistic shot. He heard laughter coming from the window above.
            Nicky didn't know much about Methodists but he supposed some of them had a vengeful sense of humour. He wiped away the water from his skin and went to find his friends.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

SOME CHEESY CHRISTMAS STORIES IMPROVED (a.k.a. I've Seen Far Too Many Hallmark Films This Year - Merry Christmas)

An elf is sent to teach a family Christmas cheer and ends up falling in love with the uncle.

            The elf is a threat to the North Pole workforce. She's skilled and efficient but prone to petty sabotage. Santa, being the old kindly soul that he is, doesn't want to fire her so he devises a means of sending her away on an 'errand'.
            The family themselves aren't even Christian. Santa isn't terribly good at running background checks. The elf soon realises that the family are Jewish and/or atheist and leave them be.
            The elf tries to make her way back to the North Pole. Unfortunately what Santa lacks in research skills, he more than makes up for in blocking out unwanted elements. He strands the elf in the city where she is forced to go from Santa's grotto to Santa's grotto pretending to be a gainfully-employed teenager. She is soon found out each time because her enthusiasm is unyielding while her credentials are not.
            After being kicked out of the latest Santa's grotto, she lands in the path of a man who owns a cobblers shop in the same shopping mall. He notices just how different the elf's costume is to the fake elves who work at the Santa's grottoes and thinks he has some sort of Christmas cosplayer in his hands. Noticing how attractive she is he decides to hire her.
            At first the elf is tasked with changing the shoe display and standing long enough in the window to draw in horny men. She soon notices this objectification and demands to be given a more suitable task. The uncle jokes that because she is an elf she can try fixing shoes. It turns out that she is rather skilled at this.
            Soon enough the uncle is standing in the window in an elf suit trying to attract horny women to no avail. He begins to resent the elf's cobbling skills and asks her to leave early, after all it is 'Christmas Eve'. She agrees only to wait around until he has shut up. She tells him that she has nowhere else to go so can she spend Christmas day with him? The man says he is going to spend most of it with his sister's family so probably not. Then again, remembering how attractive she is, he agrees.
            They arrive at the house of the Jewish and/or atheist family. The shopkeeper introduces the elf as his girlfriend but the family instantly recognises her. The man is quite insistent so they let her in.
            The elf experiences a Christmas Eve without anything even remotely Christmassy. She feels bored but is too polite to say anything. She agrees to sleep with the uncle but finds herself bored by the sex too.
            Early Christmas morning she leaves discreetly. She briefly considers heading back to the North Pole but ultimately decides to wander the empty streets, peering into other people's festively-decorated houses. When she reaches a road she decides to hitchhike and is picked up by a Muslim truck driver. He comments on her elf outfit and she agrees; she needs new clothes. Eventually.

A family suffers during the Christmas season due to a child's rigorous illness and the whole neighbourhood comes to help.

            The child dies after the first thirty minutes. The father and mother are forced to call an ambulance to take away the body and begin making funeral arrangements. Their daughter, who was older than the child, engages in a half-hearted snowball fight with her friends. They all already know that her brother is dead because their parents do. The rest of the neighbourhood decide to keep their distance from the family at this difficult time which isn't so hard to do at Christmastime when they have their own responsibilities to deal with.
            One woman however decides to knock on their door, offering Christmas pudding. She has to pump herself up to do this though, death always makes her nervous. The Christmas pudding is eaten by the father and his daughter while the mother sleeps upstairs.
            The woman knocks on their door again on Christmas Eve. She offers to take the daughter out to play in the snow. The daughter decides to make a snow dick. The woman is horrified; why would she do such a thing? The daughter says that her brother used to make them when he was healthier, he was a bit of a pervert but it made him smile.
            The woman lets the parents know about this bizarre construction in their front garden. The mother is angry with her daughter but a smile flickers across the father's lips as he sees it. He promises to do something about it at the next available opportunity. The woman thanks him and leaves.
            On Christmas day the woman passes by their garden again and notices that the head of the penis has been turned into a snowman's head and that there is a message written across the testicles: HE LOVED TO BUILD.
            The woman asks around the neighbourhood the following day, checking that no-one saw the snow dick in its original form. Fortunately everyone has been too busy dealing with their own Christmas days to notice anything like that or at least that's what they're saying. Nevertheless the people notice the new construction and decide to erect their own in their front gardens. The woman is shocked at this phallic surprise but notices the communal spirit throughout the neighbourhood and decides to keep her distaste to herself.
            She even makes her own snow dick monument too though only small and in her back garden.

A shopkeeper is forced to teach a successor how to run the shop and yet falls in love with him.

            A man runs a Christmas wrapping paper shop; it's small and only open from November to January. At nights he takes home the thickest roll and uses it to beat up a dummy with the face of his manager on it.
            One day he is called up by said manager who tells him that he is coming down to help him make sales. Sales improve vastly on the first day alone as the manager reorganising the shop's displays and greets the customers in a far more effective manner than the shopkeeper. He also notices that the thicker rolls are disappearing and wants to know exactly what is happening to them. The shopkeeper is coy.
            By the third day they're bonding over forgetful old men who get angry when you suggest to them what they might have come in to buy. They also claim to fancy the same woman who comes into the shop wearing doe-skin boots.
            By the fifth day the shopkeeper and the manager are shagging in the backroom. It turns out that the shopkeeper's frustration at the manager was partially of a sexual nature. They do not talk about what they've done as soon as the customers enter.
            Eventually the shopkeeper develops enough confidence to ask the manager to come to his house. The manager agrees expecting a quick tryst only to discover an effigy of himself surrounded by damaged wrapping paper rolls. He is infuriated but they still have sex. As soon as it's over the manager leaves.
            On Christmas Eve the shopkeeper discovers that he will be fired at the end of January and so decides to sabotage the shop by being rude to customers and making the displays fragile and prone to collapsing. The manager sees what he is doing and fires him outright.
            The shopkeeper leaves angrier than ever, with the thickest and heaviest paper roll he can find. That night, after the manager closes the shop, the shopkeeper sets upon him with it only for a struggle to break out. The manager asks him if this is really what he wants: to beat the big boss with the merchandise. The shopkeeper says yes but there is hurt in his eyes. He kisses the manager and they return to his house.
            The shopkeeper wakes up in the manager's bed alone. It turns out that the manager is making bacon butties with Bucks Fizz downstairs. The manager tells the shopkeeper to go check under the Christmas tree. The shopkeeper discovers that all his presents have been wrapped with the offending paper roll from the previous night. He apologises and thanks the manager for the lovely sentiment, he deserves it. They spend the day together.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

PIXIE EARS (a.k.a. Something a Little Different for the Holiday Season)

Hi everyone,

I have a new Christmas short story: Pixie Ears. You can read it here - http://www.mystudentstyle.co.uk/pixie-ears-wonderful-life-comp/

The story is technically published but that's not the end of it. I'm still in a competition; one that operates on clicks and shares (initially at least). Basically the more times you view it, the more you vote me up.

If you fine readers could click on the webpage just once, maybe even share it if the feeling takes you, then that would help me out a great deal. The prize is £30, money which I will definitely channel into my work. It's admittedly a rather ballsy request but I trust your judgement (you continue to read this blog, after all).

Look out for more content throughout December.



Sunday, 23 November 2014

DISPUTE (a.k.a. Part Four of My Stories in Honour of Short Story Week)

           Can it be called a domestic if both parties are outside and one of them is trying to mount a motorcycle? Dispute should cover it, I think.
            I came across the back end of a dispute today. The man was wearing a leather jacket which didn't really cry out 'Bad Boy' so much as it did 'Slick but Safe Biker'. The woman was practically lunging at him with her bleary eyes and wrestler arms. My guess is that their fun was over.
            The bike was a beautiful beast though I never heard it roar. The biker couldn't even raise his leg over it for the woman that was trying to drag him back indoors. They looked evenly matched in terms of upper body strength.
            I was on the other side of the road from the conversation or rather the competitive wailing and hissing and I never once thought of crossing, discreetly or otherwise. The dog was taking an age to pee and I was trying hard not to look directly at either of them. He might have told me to eff right off and she would probably have thrown the shoe that was gradually slipping off her foot.
            Funnily enough the bike was what my eyes kept gravitating towards. Not that I knew the make or was lusting after the sleek lines, it was the centrepiece of the whole tableau. Him almost on, her grabbing his shoulders: pause it and it all might as well have been the opposite case. Her pushing him down on the seat, him trying to get away. Strip off the engine, dull down the shape a bit, add safety wheels and you'd have my first bicycle.
            The man's movements were exactly like mine and the woman's my mother's. I was scared but mother wasn't. The woman was scared but the man wasn't. At least it didn't appear that way, he seemed more frustrated like mother was with me. The key word used in both scenarios was 'go' and the answer was a desperate refusal.
            It's amazing how memories join like that. Mum sat me on a bike and told me to just give it a try. Sitting me down was the only force she exerted. It went fine, all the wheels turned and it didn't capsize. A few weeks later the safety wheels came off and I didn't fall then either. I never really cycled again after that but I suppose I could do if the need arises.
            There'll be a park somewhere, a woman to keep up with, an intimate struggle that goes on for goodness knows how long. A split second to end it. I might even end up going on ahead.
            How selfish. I'm moving onto different tableaux without seeing the man and the woman off first. They started it, after all.
            Well off he went, she couldn't hold him forever. She shrieked out her trauma, wearing holes into the pavement with her fists. I wasn't sure when but the tears would obviously come shortly and I knew that it would be impolite to stick around to watch. Also the dog was long since done with his business and her shoe was now fully off her foot and within decent lobbing distance.
            I walked home. The first thing I did when I got back was ask mum about my old bike. She said we sold it a year back. Well, I suppose it had to go.

Friday, 21 November 2014

A FRIEND WHO WAS A PLUMBER (a.k.a. Part Three of My Stories in Honour of Short Story Week)

            A woman couldn't sleep one night on account of a loud leaky faucet in her bathtub. She got it fixed the following day by a friend who was a plumber.
            The following week she was downstairs working later than usual when she noticed that every time she paused between sentences, the cold tap in her kitchen sink let out a single clear drop. She called up her plumber friend again but she had to wait a couple of weeks before he could get round to the problem.
            A month later she started a new job. She sat in the box-like lunchroom and was poured a cup of coffee by a colleague. When this colleague refilled the kettle, she noticed that there were in fact three taps. Apparently the bigger, plastic one was used for hot water. It didn't so much as drip as dribble for a while afterwards. She managed to ignore it for the rest of the day but, before she left, it was dribbling again. She went home with this knowledge and fretted.
            She managed to forget about it before going to sleep but instead remembered the taps at her previous workplace, how rusted the handles were and how likely someone would accidentally pull them off someday. This led her to recalling the taps at her father's bungalow and how they groaned along with the pipes in the walls. Following this she remembered the burbling taps in the water fountains at her daughter's high school, the desperate downbursts of water from the taps in her ex-boyfriend's flat and even the faucet that wouldn't stop running at her childhood home.
            She relayed all this to her friend who was a plumber and he shrugged his shoulders.
            I can't fix all these taps: he said. Nobody can fix these taps unless there's call for it. Call from the owners, that is.
            This did not comfort her at all so he changed tact. He asked her: Can you hear any of these taps? Can you actually, genuinely hear these taps dripping? Now? Leaking? Making funny noises?
            She thought about this a while and said: No.
            So what does it matter? he said. Aside from the taps here in your home, they are all out of earshot.
            Then what do you suggest I do?
            Forget about it or take up plumbing.
            The woman nodded slowly then enthusiastically.
            A year passed in blissful contentment. By the end of it she had become a fully-qualified plumber.

THE WORDS UNSUNG IN A LOVE SONG (a.k.a. Part Two of My Stories in Honour of Short Story Week)

            I have never considered it a tragedy that none of you have ever heard me sing. I was a concert pianist then a lounge pianist and only now does it occur to me that I have a voice that mingles with the tune, carries it even.
            I have only tried one tune so far, a little ditty, but the effects were wondrous. I sat down at the piano the other day, much like this, and sang Frère Jacques to myself. I was tired but I couldn't sleep and that song was the first I ever learnt to play.
            Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques...
            Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping?
            I certainly haven't.  Maybe singing it was a way of waking myself up from this limbo but, when I repeated it, I felt something better than alertness. Resonance. My voice was far louder than I've ever imagined it, it drowned out the piano so I just played harder, firmer presses on the keys. Eventually it was as if the words and tune were rising while the meaning behind them was sinking into the earth, creating overwhelming vibrations beneath my naked feet. At some point I believe I was making up words as they came to me, swapping lyrics for passing thoughts. By the time the dawn came I wasn't singing Frère Jacques anymore, I was calling my own name.
            So tonight I decided to try something a little different. Rather than starting with a familiar tune and evolving it, I will let a tune just roll off the top of my head. I dedicate this song to you but let's just see how it goes.
            Every word is like a summons, getting louder and more precise. I want to see how far it goes, to what distances. This song shall be a way of clearing things up, I think, a way of bringing you all back to me for one night.
            Most of you aren't too far away, most of you probably still have me in your thoughts from time to time and it is precisely through those thoughts that I play to you now. I call to you as I play to you as I compose in your name. The whole song might not be for you but there's at the very least a line which contains your essence as I best remember it. It's hideously biased but then I haven't seen most of you in years.
            I can only play to your memory, the memory I have of you up until the moment you left me. Sometimes you knew that you were leaving me, sometimes you didn't, sometimes it gave you the most pleasure just to get away. Now this tune and this voice will bring you pleasure, bring you back to me one last time to listen to one last thing.
            I look out my window and notice a few headlights arriving from the distant dark and I know that it is you. The drivers among you at least, you've taken the car out for a night drive and you won't ever realise just how far you've come. I'm just glad that the first of you have turned up already, just hope that the rest aren't too far away because I feel the chorus coming. It's stirring within me.
            I see you, Rosita. I hear you, Marcus. I can feel your presence, all you lovers of the past. It's like the merging of the piano and my voice have led to a gradual amplification and it's only through that amplification that I can feel your arrival. Perhaps I am going deaf and all my other senses are increasing in strength. Perhaps I have discovered a special key on the scale that has led me through a door to a higher awareness, a supreme state of both musical and magical control. I feel benevolent. Maybe this is my gift.
            Come, Sasha. Come, Theresa. Come, Henry. Come Marguerite. I can see your shapes and figures forming through the shadows, crawling out like children from under a bed sheet. I hope you have brought your spouses, your loved ones; I want to give my blessing. The underlying message of this song is just as much for them as it is for you.
            You're almost all here, my darlings. My ex-lovers, the moving images from the back of my tired little brain. Come forward, stand in the space around my house, some of you should even recognise it. Fill that space as best you can. I don't know how long this song can last before it is strained and not really a song anymore.
            Nice to see you, Kimiko. You never called. Great to finally catch you, Dot. You didn't even tell me you were running away. It's so good of you all to be here. Are you all here? Standing? Swaying? It's all the same to me, do as you feel. The message is coming in the chorus.
            It is this: I no longer love you. I haven't a reason to love you so I have done. I want you all to turn to the person beside you and completely forget about me if you haven't already. Just carry on. Spare no thought. I am done.
            That's right, turn around in your cars, on your heels and just go home. The song is coming to an end now but the bells are finally ringing. Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong. There's really no point being here anymore now, it's nearly morning. My fingers are tired and my voice hoarse.
            One last high note, one last chirp of a piano key and that is all. Are you sleeping? Not yet but nearly. It is time.
            I close the lid over the piano keys. I drain my glass of brandy. I rise from the stool and off to bed.
            As I ascend the stairs, a new song starts to form. I hum it. It will have to percolate in my head overnight. It's going to be a good one though.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

KALEIDOSCOPE AUTOPSY (a.k.a. Part One of My Stories in Honour of Short Story Week)

            Up until now there's been no good way to study stomach diseases in humans. So Lionel and I once tried it with a kaleidoscope.
            I was a doctor but Lionel wasn't. He suggested the idea and I was so drunk that it amused me. It was amazing that we even found our way to the morgue. We, of course, had to make a pit stop at Lionel's pad to pick up the essential tool.
            I pulled out one of the recent bodies which, fortunately for us, had expired due to complications before surgery. I made a surprisingly neat incision and held the flaps open even better than I do whilst sober. Lionel peered inside, twisting the front of the kaleidoscope a few times.
            'Observations?' I said to him.
            He giggled. 'This man's innards are a psychedelic green.'
            'No, no, no,' I snapped. 'You are looking at it all wrong. What does the shade of green tell you about the gastritis?'
            Lionel looked up, still through the kaleidoscope. 'That the stomach acid burnt into the lining in a very particular way. It made grooves.'
            'Groovy.' Lionel did a dance. I almost ripped one of the skin flaps off when I reached up to hit him.
            'This is serious business, Lionel,' I said. 'Are there genuine grooves?'
            He examined the stomach without the kaleidoscope and then with it again. 'Actually...yes, I think so.'
            'Give it here,' I said. Lionel picked up the forceps gingerly.
            The kaleidoscope showed many tiny diamonds in a bizarre formation. I took it away from my eye and saw that they matched the grooves in the stomach lining almost perfectly. I gasped. 'How is that even-?'
            Lionel giggled. 'Possible?'
            'Yes. It can't be.' I twisted the top of the kaleidoscope. The colours changed to a pale yellow emanating a bright orange ring. The tiny diamonds remained in the exact same places. I moved the kaleidoscope further down to the underside of the stomach where the largest hole was. The diamonds fell and matched the shape. A few of them even started to twinkle.
            'This is mad,' I said.
            'This is hilarious,' Lionel added. 'Now let me look again.'
            I smacked his hand away. 'This must be the latest, maddest discovery in the history of medical science. Kaleidoscopes in the hospital.'
            'No coroner should be without one.' Lionel winked. 'And think how drunk they'll need to get beforehand!'
            I paused. We were drunk. This slowly sobered me up. I handed Lionel the kaleidoscope again, slapping my cheeks before pulling back the skin flaps again. I needed to drink something refreshing but tap water was the only thing down here. Harold stored his orange juice in one of the cupboards but I doubted that that would be quite as effective.
            'Hang on a minute,' I said, closing the flaps and moving over to the sink. I cupped my hands around the water and let the tap run into them. I splashed my face a few times before drinking.
            'Are you done?' Lionel said.
            'Yes,' I returned to the slab. 'Let me see again.'
            Lionel grumbled as I took the kaleidoscope away for the second time. The colours were all there but no diamonds. I turned the front a few times, ground it, but nothing even resembling them appeared. No unearthly shine, no bizarre sparkle. I stepped back.
            'We've got to get out of here, Lionel,' I said, realising the situation. 'We're pissed beyond logic.'
            'I don't know what you're talking about,' Lionel replied. 'I can see very well. Diamonds are quite logical if you think about it. They're beautiful.'
            I managed to coax him out of the morgue eventually. The next day he couldn't even remember being drunk in the hospital.
            I asked him about the diamonds in the stomach and he said, 'You mean the kind they smuggle in teddy bears?'
            'Yes,' I said. 'Just like in cop shows.'
            I was found out later that day. I had lost my license by the weekend. I still read the medical journals though, for the new discoveries.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

RUSH HOUR CRUSH (a.k.a. A Heart-rending Love Story about Isaac Newton and Pomeranians)

To the Dude in the Green Shades,

You were staring at my Halloween costume whilst eating an apple. Why not drop one on my head sometime? I have a theory I would like to discuss with you over drinks.

Isaac Newton Lookalike

To Isaac Newton Lookalike,

Do you like Pomeranians?

The Guy in the Green Shades

To the Guy in Green Shades,

Yes. My sister breeds them. Shall we say The Watchman's Arms next Tuesday? 6? I won't be in full costume but I will keep on the wig.

Former-Isaac Newton Lookalike

To Isaac Newton Lookalike,

Where is the best place to buy a pair of sandals in Cleethorpes?



I always go to Richmond's.


To Former-ISL,

Watchman's Arms. Tuesday 6:15pm.



Why did you run off in such a hurry? You asked questions about 'the mark', I'm a Mark, I thought we were joking around. I would love a second chance. Watchman's Arms? Next Tuesday at 6pm again?

An Idiot in a Wig


I must have missed you. I hope I missed you. Come by next Tuesday and we'll talk all about 'your mission'.

An Idiot Still Wearing a Wig


I felt like there was a connection. Was I wrong?

An Idiot Without a Wig