Few Hairs and The Torteless

So that’s his game!

The old man sat there with a brick for a phone pressed to his hairy ear. He squinted, strained to hear whoever he talked with, mouthed spittle-infused words.

Oh, he was good. Really good. But it was an obvious ruse.

He turned and gave me that glassy-eyed look only the elderly could, his comb-over blowing in the speeding traffic’s wake.

He knew I was on to him.

Across the road, the last chocolate torte glistened in the bakery window like an Olympic medal.

He wanted it, but I wanted more.

Red: A wiggle and a shake.

Red and amber: I checked my trainers laced. Come to poppa.

Green: He was off.

Goddamn! He was already halfway across the road!

I swerved through the milling pedestrians like a serpent through grass. I’d show the old buzzard!

Bursting onto the pavement, I dodged an old woman with a mop for a dog and leapt through the open bakery door, chest thrust forward. Winner!

With no time to gloat, I got straight down to business. “Onechocolatetorteplease.”

“Pardon?”

“One chocolate torte, please.” This time slower.

“Sorry,” said the girl behind the counter, “we’ve just sold the last one.”

“The one in the window?”

“That’s the one.” She beamed an inoffensive smile.

I panicked, after all, she was pretty. “But I was here first,” I whimpered.

The girl shook her head and pointed over my shoulder, her bangs smacking a drum ‘n’ bass rhythm against her rosy cheeks.

I turned so slowly, my hips ground.

He sat there in his buggy smug as you like, his eyes watering and his few stray hairs a mess. His dentures were missing as though he’d rushed to beat me and hadn’t had time to put them in, his hitched-up slacks revealing the argyle socks beneath — beige, of course. But worst of all, worse than anything, he had something to say; his lips frothed with the effort.

“You’re fast,” he said. “Really fast, son.”

I glowered.

“Whilst I’m old and slow.”

I gave him one of my best sneers.

“But I have this.”

He held his black brick aloft, or as aloft as his ancient limbs could manage. This, he waggled.

“Same tomorrow?” asked the girl behind the counter.

The old man cupped his ear.

“Same tomorrow?” she bellowed.

He waggled his archaic phone one last time; it might as well have been a cup and string.

“I’ll ring ahead,” he replied, then reversed over my foot and sped off.

You’ve won this round, old man, but I’m off to buy a new charger.

Truth was, I’d rather have had the torte.

Three Paragraphs on the Art of Loving Ghosts

When loving ghosts, one must make allowances, for their intangible nature prohibits touch, physical warmth, passion. They mire in sadness regardless of kind words, a warming sun, a lover’s wistful look. To struggle is in their make-up, their very essence. Like drifters on a highway, they patrol the ley lines you may not tread. Not yet, anyway. Not until the blue fades from your lips, too.

This insipid cold, if you will, does not make them cruel, nor inconsiderate just unable to yield to the pleasures of flesh and blood. Though they would if they could. They remember them, distant though they may be. They recall them, as the echoes of memories lost. Like violin strings plucked in a dream, they would hear this music called life once more.

So, how should one treat them? How should one appreciate these gentle spirits of the night? How does one love a ghost? Simple, my friend. Remember them. Remember them all. But most of all, and here I beg, remember me.

Once Upon Too Many (A Dark Fairytale)

There once was a boy who lived in a hole. There in the warm, musty darkness where roots embraced him, he hid from the bright world outside. He hid from the loud, the violent and crude. He hid from the harm they’d done.

They found him cringing that meekest of creatures, pushed in a corner like old fruit in a shopping bag. He mouldered. It was their duty to save him. Everyone wanted saving, didn’t they?

The men with their silver badges glittering, their colleagues in white all wide smiles and soft words, tore the boy from the roots he clung to; he screamed for them to stop. They carted him away like a stray dog to a pound and placed him in the knowledgable care of strangers. But they had no knowledge of him, this child from deeper regions.

He woke to crimson, some his, most theirs. Its stickiness reminded him of tree sap back when there were trees to weep. And he remembered. And he wept. The memory of those lost forests stung like the syringes thrown in his hole. His nice safe hole. He ran. They ran, too, those who still could.

Out in the savage daylight, he made a decision. The little lost boy with pain in his eyes made a promise. He’d dig deeper. He’d burrow like a mole. No one would find him again. Once upon a time was one once too many, his mother used to say. Before they took her and all that was green and blue, too.

This Scream Called Us (Rated 15)

They say a scream is a scream is a scream. Hurt is hurt. Pain is pain. That both subside with every unfulfilled second. They say many things. But what do they know? What do they really know?

The mind is a curious container, delicate even. If the mind were glass, one might shatter it with a scream, which I suppose you did.

Wordless moments, memories birth from open mouths. Memories! Too loud. Too raw. Reflections of moments past until wiped clean by sound. Until…

My everything you were and ever shall remain. My heart cannot beat without you. These romanticised lines of obvious affection. This sentimental twaddle. I wish to silence this scream called us. I wish to close these lips and sleep.

After tonight, maybe I will. Once I tear the secret you’ve kept from your overworked larynx.


I still have the key I copied. I have many such copies. You can never be too careful where safety’s concerned.

The latch lifts with a click like a match struck on once love. We did love, I think.

I’m in. Nothing’s changed. The same lavender stink to cover the cat litter. It assails my olfactory senses and I almost gag. Almost. Ginger, said cat, stops purring the moment I enter. He always hated me. I lurch forward but the cat’s quicker. He leaves without a handful of hair, whilst I’m left with a sergeant’s stripes across my skin. If only I’d closed the door! So, I do.

I let the light rest. I know the way. Darkness is good, it hides a multitude of sins. The mirror in the hallway remains empty. The photo on the telephone desk goes unseen. And I wonder, is it still there?

A sudden urge to sit on the sofa, turn on the tv and watch football, open the fridge and steal a beer. It’s fleeting but there.

I shake my head so hard my eyes rattle.

The first step creaks so I seek the second. Silence. I want to shout COME ON! I don’t, but I want to.

Stopping halfway, I take a seat. One last memory I think. A sigh. An aimless three-sixty. The darkness deprives as the lavender stink prods. I’m back on my feet and climbing before I realise I’ve sat.

Everest climbed, I have a desire to pee. The bathroom door stands open, so I do.

I take a certain devilish pleasure in peeing on the toilet seat, in the sink, bath. Small victories and all that. She’ll never see it but her mother might.

Once relieved, I’m back on the case. First door, second, third… I stop.

There’s a lump in this once-home made a prison. There’s a someone, a certain someone I know. Not for long.

The rage rises.

Her former rebukes, my dismissal, return like a needle shoved into my eyes. And I strike. And I strike. And I strike.

Everything she made me leave behind, the untold secret and more besides, stick like a lump in my throat. But I’ve got her. At last, I’ve got her.

“What have you done!”

A voice.

Her voice?

Her voice!

The landing light flicks on behind me.

I see my crimson creation and turn away retching out my innards.

She comes at me like Ginger on a bad day. She screams and screams and screams. But this is my dream and she can’t hurt me.

Only when she stops do I hear her. Only when she stops and crumples in a heap whispering the same words over and over again, do I understand what I’ve done.

“Our daughter. She was our daughter.”

And the cold steel I’ve spent seven years polishing finds a nice warm home in my chest. I smile.

My ex-wife screams again. This time, it’s not for us.

The End.

The Birds and the Bees

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The Birds and the Bees

The leaves hung like hummingbirds hovering for food. In swarms of suspended metals, autumn’s glinting deposits waited to settle on the scorched ground.

Next came the wind. Warmer than a lover’s kiss, colder than a refusal, it took me in its swirling embrace unsure whether to throttle or enfold. Me and that last of all trees in that last of all places.

Those leaves that remained whipped about like bees stinging at my skin, my throat, my everything. In beauty, I died.

We all did.

50 Word Stories – In Cocoa

It was an idea, a fanciful dream. I packed nothing and left everything.

The plantations were green, not brown. A prevailing wind filtered out the sounds of humanity’s pickers but the life I had wished for never existed.

I returned home deflated. My mum smiled and offered me a coffee.

Champagne

Beneath the veneer, the sparkling wit and quaffed hair lay the remnants of a soul in despair; it was his eyes that gave him away. They were lost. He would always be lost.

I pitied him then, turned away with the broadest back. And though he spat venom, riled and roared, it missed on all accounts. So weak!

I left him to his collected friends and so-called compatriots like grapes on the vine missed in the picking. Worthless, a vintage fit only for insects, he’d rot into the soil without ever knowing what it was to taste champagne.