As a general rule I tend to shy away from re-posting old stories but for some odd reason this one has been nagging at me for the last couple of days so while I’m busy with some new things I hope to like here’s an old thing I actually do like. As always with these things there’s a little bit of history threading its way through a whole heap of fiction…
“We’re really so sorry Craig. She was an amazing woman.”
“The best of the best.”
“She was so sweet, so gentle. We all loved her.”
“Amy was one of a kind, she didn’t deserve for this to…”
“I broke your pie dish.”
That one simple truth banished the spell of unending platitudes. Caught me off guard. “Sorry, you broke…?”
“The pie dish.” Deb looks at me and makes a circle with her hands. “Round thing. Generally used for the carrying and serving of pies.”
The sky colours in the dark with pink and orange fingers.
Birds chatter their approval in myriad voices growing bolder with each passing minute. Guinea fowl screech from the rooftops, setting the dogs to lend their rumbling bass to the chorus greeting the dawn.
Today marks the 25th time that I’ve been fortunate enough to sneak some of my words past the editorial team at Literally Stories. They’ll see through all my limitations one of these days but until then I intend to wallow in the thrill of people I respect enjoying what I have to say.
The new piece is called February. I hope you like it.
“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.
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.
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.”
His stance spoke of the softness of academia. The protected air of hallowed halls shielding him from the realities of the world outside.
The slightly stooped shoulder curve. The narrow chest.