Monday, 17 March 2014

In Memoriam

I posted this for the Mid-Week Blue-Buster's anniversary last week but didn't have time to put it up here until today. It was originally a lot longer, but I had to cut the first few opening paragraphs, and condense all the activities together. First time I've ever really banged into the word cap for any flash fiction. And happily, it placed second.

Tramping in to do their filial duty, the visitors looked anywhere but at his face or the frail hands that gripped the blanket.
“I’d dearly like to spend today talking to my grandson, Michael,” George Weiland said, gesturing for the rest of them to leave.
“He’s becoming a fine young man. I want to give him some pointers for the future.”
Giving an audible sigh, Michael pulled one headphone out and rolled his eyes. Fan-fucking-tastic. “Hello Grandpa! HOW is the FOOD?” thumbs still busy on his tablet, the teenager nodded his head a few times, a tokenistic smile plastered to his face.
“At the moment, you stand to inherit the bulk of my fortune, so long as you help me with my… what’s it called… bucketlist.”George held his hand up. “I don’t expect friendship, but I do want a modicum of respect - even though the things will be downright childish. Let’s start again shall we?”
“You serious? What do you want to do?”
“For now? Get here early tomorrow, with a backpack. While the nurse who gives me a sponge bath has a good figure, I most definitely do not. And I’m sure you don’t want to see me semi-naked.”

Michael knocked on the door frame, worried he was late. George waved him in.
“Load all that stuff in your bag, and then load me in that,” he said pointing at the wheelchair. “We’ll need to see Tallulah. I hate that bitch, but your grandmother loved her.”
“What about the nurses?”
“They’re in on it.”
Still expecting to be stopped every step of the way, Michael pushed the old man out of the hospital. After the wheelchair was loaded into a taxi, George gave an address and leaned back, eyes closed. Left with nothing else to do, Michael pulled out his iPad.
“So can you drive stick?”
“What? Why?”
George smiled. “Better hope there’s an app for that.”

They stopped at parking garage. Waving away the wheelchair for now, George walked slowly over.
“Mr. Weiland! Everything is as you asked. Right this way, sir.” A short distance away was a pristine Oldsmobile, in mint condition.
“Hello, Tallulah, “ George said, hand on the bonnet, eyes misting.
“I’m doing this for Cynthia.” He hobbled into the passenger seat and threw the key to Michael. Engine purring, they drove sedately out of the parking lot.
”Let her off the rein, I’ve got my seat belt on. To the funfair!” The speedometer leapt and the tyres squealed, and once again George closed his eyes.

Picture from here
The rest of the day passed in a blur - a pastiche of childhood joys. Toffee apples and paper planes, jumping castles and blowing bubbles, swings and balloon animals, paddle boats and ice-cream vans. They watched the sun setting over a sandcastle they’d been constructing on the tide line, and once again George closed his eyes and sighed. Thinking their adventure over, Michael stood up,dusting sand off his knees.
“Back to the hospital Grandfather?”
“Nonsense! We’re just getting started! Time to change into something more suitable, then hit the town.”
“Are you sure? We don’t want to over do it. Maybe tomorrow would be better?”
“For a long time I’ve known there might not be a tomorrow, but this is the first time I’ve actually acted that way.”

After belting out a few tunes at a karaoke joint, they grabbed a cab to another address George rattled off from memory. The neon was garish and the place was packed. After looking around for a while, George made his way slowly to the bar, placing an order that made the barman laugh. He pointed to a raucous table that was strewn with many empty pitchers before paying and heading over.
“Gentlemen,” he said, “May I invite you to join me in multiple screaming orgasms?”
Frowns. Laughter.
“The fuck did you say, old man?”

“My wife had a rather coarse sense of humour and she loved approaching strangers and making that offer before buying them a round of drinks. It would have been our anniversary today, so please - these cocktails are on me.”

Thursday, 6 March 2014

All Ye Sinners

This is only the second time (I think?) that I've managed to participate in the Midweek Bluesbuster. The idea for this prompt is always a song, but you can use anything about it - lyrics, pictures, the vibe of it - for the kernel of your story. It's also got a very forgiving word limit, which makes me surprised I haven't attempted it more often. Even the times I've not had a stab at it, I've often listened to the song a fair few times.

For this week, the song was Put Your Lights On by Santana, featuring Everlast.

The tavern was on the disreputable side of run-down. That was to be expected since it was so far from the major trade routes. Aithan didn’t mind though, he felt more at home ministering here than in the lavish marble palaces of the cities. He had been doing the work of the Gods for the best part of a century, and it certainly showed. Only a few whipsy tufts clung to his pate and his right eye was milky with cataracts. The other was disconcertingly blue, like a nostalgic summer sky from your childhood. They were deeply entrenched within wrinkles, paradoxically carved by both a stern visage and frequent laughter. He smiled to himself as he finished the bowl of broth before him, and then called for another beer. Mean as this inn was, it would be a fine place to serve Tai, the God of Remorse.

As the evening wore on and the other patrons became more raucous, Aithan decided it was time to start the service. Doddering over to settle his bill, he fumbled his purse before staring myopically at the coins within. He tapped his way out of the bar leaning heavily on his staff.. He’d barely gone a dozen paces when he heard the door slam behind him. A couple of the surlier patrons quickly caught up to him, smiling in a way that carried no warmth.

“Father, a moment of your time, please!” one said, taking hold of his arm.
“Mmmm… a moment, mmmm...” Aithan said, nodding his head a few times. He stopped walking, and turned slightly towards the fellow on his left. Cupping his hand round his ear, he spoke again. “Mmm… speak up, my son! What ails you?”
“We’re poor, father. Mighty poor! Perhaps you’d be kind enough to give us alms?” he said, fingering his dagger meaningfully.
A snigger behind him.
“Yeh father, mighty poor! I’m guessing a man of the Gods like yerself would feel right blessed giving us all your money as alms. A blessing for all of us, and best all round.”
“Mmm… blessings…” Aithan began. Then in an instant his visage flipped from that of a kindly old fool to a rictus of fury. His raised arm scythed in a vicious arc, catching the would-be brigand in the temple. The man reeled away cursing extravagantly. Aithan spun round, his staff sweeping the legs out from first one then the other, their  knives clattering away. A few quick blows to the pair of them and the were cowed and bloody.

Reaching into his robes, the priest produced a small pouch. He took a pinch of incense and smeared it liberally on a potsherd before flinging it on the ground and invoking Tai’s name. The cries of his “assailants” now magically muffled, Aithan set to work. Methodically he hit them with his staff, smashing finger bones and causing multiple fractures in their legs. When he was satisfied the damage would be beyond the healing even of an acolyte of Tuan, Aithan ceased the sermon.  His Lord’s work done, Aithan wiped the blood off his steel shod staff and set it ringing against the cobblestones in counterpoint to the psalm he was belting out in closing. Let them in the cities have their indulgences and silks. He served the Lord of Remorse by being the cause, not remedy.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Dealing with Corporate Office

What do you mean the it's too late?

The paperwork has already been processed?

I've already been replaced?


For future reference, re-sign and  resign don't mean the same thing!

Happily they haven't been that incompetent yet. But there's always the fear lurking at the back of my mind when dealing with them (and my contract is up for renewal soon). Usually my sentences are crazy long, full of comma splices and parentheses but in Five Sentence Fiction I try and make it as short and to the point as possible. This week's topic is misunderstanding. The sentence wasn't really replaced, as I'm quite an accomplished swearer, and there's no way I could limit such a tirade to five paragraphs, let alone one sentence.