“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.
To whom it may concern:
I am writing to inform you of my resignation from the position of Acting Junior Vice-Assistant to the Deputy Director of Marketing with immediate effect. I seem to recall something in my original contract about a thirty day notice period but in the spirit of agile management and notwithstanding the fact that I wiped my arse with said document a couple of months back, it’s probably best for all concerned if I slip off quietly into the night.
Go on admit it. You’d love it if I genuinely slipped off into the night. You probably wouldn’t complain too much if I slipped off noisily, say, from a fourteenth-floor window but in the famous words of Mick and the boys…you CAN’T always GET what you WAAAANNNNT.
“It’s time,” she said and in we stumbled like lambs bleating in the slaughtered air. Any lingering hopes that he would be granted some final serenity or peace dashed in a maelstrom of tortured angles and the sweat-soaked rictus of a face that has been long lost to madness.
“No. Not blood. Not exactly.”
It’s always nice to have an excuse to scribble some words on a blog post – and today’s excuse is to tell you that I’ve got a brand new piece up on Literally Stories.
A Single Grain Of Salt is a story that has been trying to get written for a couple of years without a whole lot of success. For me, this often happens when a tale has a link to reality, and particularly when it relates to an event that still haunts me despite the fact that tragedy was avoided.