Tuesday, 18 September 2012

75 - Games People Play

Tony looked up, a frown of curiosity crossing his features as he wondered what Martin was up to. He heard what sounded like a clockwork boat; surely not? Then he saw the boat, but not clockwork at all: a little steam toy that Martin had bought at a festival some years before. A fully grown man, in his second childhood evidently, playing with a boat in the bathroom sink of all places!
Martin changed the unspoken subject.
“Could you do me a favour? Would you take the egg boxes back to Sandy?"
“Er, okay."
Tony picked up the cartons and turned to the door. He paused awhile, and looking back added: “You alright?"
“Yes: why?"
“Oh, no reason."
Closing the door behind him, Tony raised his eyebrows and breathed out. Dad was being dad, he supposed, but still ….
Back at the washbasin, Martin drained the water and cursed the noisy little toy. He wasn't playing, he was just … okay he was playing, but only to see whether the boat actually worked. In the 10 years since he had bought it on a whim, he'd never even tried it out.
“Well," he mused, “at least now I’ve something to write about.”
Egg boxes delivered, and greetings exchanged with his friend’s mum, Tony ran upstairs to resume the previous day’s game.
“You okay?”
“Good, yeh: you?”
“Yeh. Zombie Revenge?”
“Nah: World of Fury?”
“Okay. Does your dad ever do strange things?”
“He’s an oldie: everything he does is strange.”
“Yeh, but does he play with toys?”
“No! Does yours?”
“Looked like it just now: weird. First to score 300?”
Martin sat down to type. He still hadn’t settled on a plot, and he didn’t want to turn out a stream-of-consciousness ‘literary’ novel, but he had the bones of a character. ‘Edward’ would be playful, enquiring of mind, handsome – of course. Artistic license, it was called.

Monday, 17 September 2012

74 - Job Satisfaction

For some reason, cutting the hedge didn’t appeal. It stretched away to his right, perhaps forty metres long; forty metres that spoke of chore, of labour, of boredom.
Too old, and too surrounded by maturity that there was any hope that Tom Sawyer-like he might find friends who’d druther take on the task imposed upon him by the woman of the house, he looked down at the trimmer. It wasn’t showing signs of getting on without him, so he picked it up.
A few perspiring hours later, he stepped back from the hedge and surveyed the forty metres to his left. For all he hated Leylandii, he had to admit that trimmed Leylandii was better than untrimmed. There was, he supposed, something satisfying in such work after all.

73 - Whatever Happened to the Daisy Wheel?

Philon the curator, such a lazy man as ever lived on the Isle of Saru, was asleep. He was always asleep, but his sleep was to acquire more than a tinge of guilt.
There were no visitors to the miserable little museum of finds. There never was much call to spend time viewing relics in these humid winter days after the flood. Philon had taken one of the exhibits – a moth-eaten fabric bag of polyvinyl waste – and placed himself upon it under the shade of the welcome sign.
Welcomed to the quiet isle that day – which day? – and arriving who knows how, perhaps by barge, perhaps by sled, was someone after just a single item. Nothing else was touched.
Philon swears even now that no item but one was missing, though its absence was only noted when he roused from his slumbers to eat, to drink a little, and to reluctantly carry on his task of cataloguing the collection. Thus in time perhaps further stock will be reported as missing, but for now …
Now Philon stands mute and helpless in front of the glass case. The fabric backing shows the dust-free silhouette surrounding the nail from which, according to the handwritten label, is missing a “Printer Wheel (Daisy), circa 20th Century”.

72 - Portrait of Ginny

Leonardo da Vinci, Ginevra de' Benci

The street-market traders outside the once fashionable Florentine window are a strain on Ginny’s nerves, and she looks away for distraction.
“Please don’t move, signorina”, says Leo.
She sighs and resigns herself to the tiresome young man’s lens. She practices her Italian by trying to understand his ramblings. He seems to mutter to himself about too much light, of wanting to throw the background out of focus. Small wonder he wants to blur it, she thinks, having chosen juniper and laurel branches as a backdrop. What was he thinking: questo pazza?
She supposes her lover Bernie – is he her lover? she wonders – is too stingy - ‘avaro’ or ‘trichio’? - to have paid for Andreas himself to take her picture. Instead she has this apprentice; has to make do with ‘From the studio of …’ rather than ‘By …’; the lot of the mantenuta, the kept woman.
Will things be different once she marries Louis?

Sunday, 16 September 2012

71 - Fall Colours

From ice-free pole to ice-free pole, the world is in trouble enough already. Every tree is sacred, so much does the human race’s survival depend on the forests to absorb every extra ounce of CO2.
There is a bitter irony – you know, the sort that leaves an aftertaste – in that it all started with a climatologist accidentally killing a tree by ripping its branches off. He fell the whole way down, grasping furiously until one stopped him about twenty feet up.
State Police told us later he’d been in a light plane taking samples of the air, and had to bail out when he got into trouble, but with trees everywhere in this part of the park he’d no option but to land in the treetops. It was the plane catching fire that was the end of it.
We stood helplessly by as the flames caught him. We had to be rescued ourselves.
Now we stand helplessly by as the last great hope of mankind burns horizon to horizon. It’s hard to be angry. What’s the point?

Saturday, 15 September 2012

70 - Honest!

“Honest! He’d an entire conversation with a dung beetle: said the beetle was the fourth reincarnation of Lawrence of Arabia and was desperate to find his old motorbike. Asked the whole audience to help find it, if it was under their seat, ’cos the beetle was really upset. Jeez: just as well it wasn’t a camel! The best 10 euro I’ve ever spent, I tell you: just wait ’til I do my Best Man speech …”

Friday, 7 September 2012

69 - After the Party

“I do like the Chenin, but I must admit a penchant for Gavroche in its many guises.”
“Cynthia dear: you’re looking splendid! You must tell me your secret.”
“… and then he had the cheek to quote some footpath number at me! I sent him packing toute de suite.”
“Chardonnay is much maligned, but of course you know that.”
“His number dear, your trainer: I must have it.”
“Cigar, old chap? Cuban.”
“Howard! What’s the matter?”
“Sorry, I was just ear-wigging.”
“What do you mean, ‘ear-wigging’? There’s no one here to listen to. What is up with you?”
“Nothing … nothing really.”
He looked once again around the dust-sheeted dining room, then closed forever the front door of his childhood.

68 - Right, said Fred

The mirror-wall of the downtown studio sucked in the Fall gloom, thinning rather than enhancing the weak evening light. Mae stood, expectant, in front of her reflected self, willing him to begin his god dammed audition and let her get her tired god dammed body back to her apartment. She blew cigarette smoke up at the ceiling, and waited some more.
“I, er, haven’t got anything prepared.”
Her dark eyes showed she knew that already.
“Look, I’m more of an actor than a dancer.”
“You’re what the studio says you are if you wanna work in this town, honey.”
She relented a little.
“Come towards me; come at me; and when you reach me, stop as if I’m just too precious to touch.”
He raised an eyebrow; he raised a god dammed eyebrow! She almost liked this guy and his hutzpah.
“Your résumé says you can act and dance a little. Well dance, dammit!”
He thought about it, cupping his chin and smirking. His look seemed to ask: ‘Are you ready, sister?’
He walked. He walked for Christ’s sake! Only, he heel-toe-kicked as he did so, and the nearer he got the quicker he tapped and the harder her heart beat until he stopped dead in front of her. His head inclined to her neck, she could feel his breath, and his hands were either side of her waist, she could feel their warmth. This was so unprofessional, she thought; I’m blushing!
She breathed once more.
“Screen tests begin 7am. Be there.”