“I told him it wasn’t on the menu but he said I should speak to you.”
“It’s fine, don’t worry. He’s been coming here for as long as I can remember.”
Harry Shaw didn’t hear the conversation from the kitchen but he was confident of the outcome. His starter portion of veal tonnato on a Thursday evening was the ballast that held the unravelling of his life firm and steady. He was as much a part of the A Tavola furniture as the black and white shots of spaghetti-eating celebrities that filled most of the walls. For Harry, Thursday nights offered up the perfect mix of ambience and peace. Enough noise for him to bask in the warm, familial murmur of a well run machine but not the overt harshness of a full house weekend.
“Morning old chap.”
“I wish you wouldn’t do that.”
“Do what Nige?”
“Shorten my name.”
“I apologise. What can I do for you Nigella?”
A little something I wrote while killing time at Cape Town airport this afternoon. Big thanks to Rebecca Field for reminding me of a storytelling construct I’d forgotten about!
Can’t keep track of how many hours I’ve been here but let’s just say it’s been a few. Delays. Excuses so lame no doubt that they aren’t even bothering to communicate them.
This morning I woke up in bed with an old man’s hand.
Not a severed hand from a different, older man.
Nothing as sinister as that.
No suggestion that I was, in some way, being sent a warning message from some aging mafioso masquerading as a perfectly normal member of the Twilight Valley Nursing Village who, for reasons best known only to himself, had given up on the cranial end of horses and settled for lopping off the hands of his fellow residents before depositing them in the beds of strangers under cover of darkness. There was a suggestion far back in my family tree that there was some sort of Italian connection to my heritage but even so the link would be tenuous at best. It’s not like I’m the direct descendent of Guiseppe “The Limp” Panettone or some such.
The hand, I confess, was my own.
Going home or, more accurately, travelling from your home to a place you used to call home years ago drowns you in familiar dislocation. Perhaps it’s the lack of sleep or the fact that these journeys so often start in the soft hours before dawn that heightens our sensitivity to the weird. Either way, you feel like an interloper in a land where time, unlike your memories, has ticked on.
Bypasses plough their economically booming furrow through the land. New buildings thrive in the displaced earth on either side. That’s what it said on the slideware so it must be true, right? I wonder what happens when there’s nothing left to bypass.
Didn’t so and so used to live there? Next to the roundabout? Wait…was there a roundabout there before?
In the end everything will ignite.
Books. Skin. Pre-apocalyptic utopian puppies.
All of it.
My second novel will smoulder alongside the incinerated remains of my first while I stab at my molten keyboard, desperate to smash out a story idea before my fingertips fuse to the metal.
As a rule I don’t tend toward violence but Hubert, fat useless fuck that he is, brings out the devil in me so to speak. Every movement he makes is a stain on my existence but he is, at least, regular.
Tomorrow morning at precisely 7.27am in he will shuffle, pause briefly next to the dog food then grease-waddle his way along the aisle. For sin I shall play my designated role as the dutiful shopkeeper and attend to him with smiles and no small courtesy.
That is, of course, if I don’t stay out all night in the rain.
I find myself caught somewhere between the badlands of apology and the sunrise of recognition.
I am too quick to anger. Too swift to judge. Too ready to yell.
Since the moment you kicked and screamed your way into this world I have asked you to be quiet.
You have ignored me.
Since Theodore took up residence in my scrotum, life has become somewhat more complex.
“Call me Teddy.”
“I’d rather stick to Theodore if it’s all the same to you.”
“Suit yourself. I’m just trying to make it easier for you.”
“Why on earth would I want things to be easier? Having a miniscule, talking…thing inside my nutsack seems like a perfectly reasonable and normal arrangement.”
I got bored earlier and did a quick search for top tips for a successful blog. Based on the results it’s clear to me that no-one else knows what the fuck they’re doing so I feel strangely comforted. Given that the internet is a place where you can probably confirm and/or deny that the collective noun for opening gambits is indeed a pentagram it’s best to set your expectation-phasers to stun(ningly low).
There were a couple of pearlers in there – perhaps the best of which was, “Be Awesome!”
Here I was settling for a consistent dose of mediocrity where all along what I should have been striving for was a hunka-chunka-burning-awesome.