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.”

No comments:

Post a Comment