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.