Every cloud

Image copyright: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Image copyright: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

The cats have all gone.

A month ago we could walk around the neighbourhood and all sorts of tabbys and moggies would make their lazy ways off doorsteps, from under bushes, from the bonnets of parked cars, come up to us, entwine themselves around our ankles or stretch out on their backs looking for a tickle, a stroke.

Now, they’re gone. We miss them and those short bursts of therapy they offered, those moments when our cares and woes slipped away.

On the other hand, the birds are back, and the dawn chorus is heard once more.

Silver linings, eh?

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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The Lesser Gatsby

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“Jay,” his mother would say, “We’ve named you, you gotta live up to it.”

His dad would roll him a spliff or two out his very own stash but Jay never did light up. And if you asked him why, he probably wouldn’t be able to tell you.

His teachers would say, “That young Gatsby, shy beyond belief.”

When he grew up and lived in a small suite of rooms his parents rented for him, he would spend most evenings watching television and surrounded by odds and ends from the kitchen – measuring spoons, his frying pans, the can opener; his particular favourite was his egg beater because, as he would have said had he ever been asked, it’s a really non-judgemental piece of equipment and beautifully designed.

By day Jay worked in a bookshop – it’s what the career adviser at school suggested – stacking books and occasionally behind the till if they were short-staffed and someone needed to make a trip to the lavatory. He enjoyed that with its sense of responsibility and was able to look people in the eye and make small talk and maybe even be cool although he wasn’t that sure of what being cool felt like. Sometimes one of his colleagues would give him an unwanted sandwich which he would then eat back in the storeroom amongst the film-wrapped pallets of books head office had sent.

The shop sold more cookery books than any other shop in the chain.

Every now and then Jay’s life would light up when he won something on the lottery – never big stuff, but always welcome. And those times when he collected his winnings felt like the only time when anyone would smile at him and congratulate saying things like, “Well done,” “You done good,” or “You’re a smart cookie.”

And so he kept on buying the tickets neither realizing nor caring that his chances of winning a big one were very many millions to one.

And possibly because he never did fret over that statistic and possibly because someone somewhere had had enough of sticking pins into a clay doll modeled in his likeness, one rainy December Saturday his numbers came in and he became very rich. Very rich indeed.

He hired a life coach, a fitness instructor, and invested in two years of talking therapy with a gorgeous redhead called Verity and transformed himself into the confident creature we see featured so often in the glossy gossip magazines.

He’s changed his name of course, and the only link with his past is the egg beater hanging next to the wedding pictures.

The motto on his newly commissioned coat of arms reads, “custodi redemptio”.

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Bent, broken and busted

Image copyright: Liz Young

Image copyright: Liz Young

Drain the swamp – you’ll find me.

I used to be important, used to have clout.

And then it all went wrong. I reached that age – you know, THAT age – that age when the boss calls you in, looks you in the eye/avoids your eye, puts on a sympathetic face and says, “Happy birthday.”

And you say, “But it’s not my birthday.”

And he/she says, “Human resources says it is, so it must be.”

He/she says, “Clear your desk. We’ll give you a good reference.”

But that’s no help. You’re THAT age now.

And soon you’re bent, broken and busted.

 

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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Case closed

Image copyright: Ted Strutz

Image copyright: Ted Strutz

The policeman sat on the very chair that Victor had used to ward off the lions in the ring.

The other performers couldn’t understand it. “Those beasts were vegetarians.”

“Victor would feed them cornflakes and milk in the morning,” said Coco the Clown.

“And then carrot and lentil curry in the evening,” volunteered Guilio, eldest of the Famous Nardini Flyers.

Barney, the Ringmaster nodded wisely, “Occasionally he would offer them chocolate treats, but only the vegan sort.”

The policeman snapped shut his notebook. He knew the motive, he knew the culprits. It was now up to the vet to decide.

 

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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Lilies for the dead

Image copyright: Roget Bultot

Image copyright: Roget Bultot

Revenge is best served cold, they say, and they are right.

He stared out of the window – not a soul in sight – not surprising when you think how many shots he fired in such a few joyous minutes. Cowboy-wise, he blew the smoke from the muzzle.

They’ll be here any moment, he knew, breaking down the door, demanding he lies on the floor, handcuffing him, reading him his rights.

He knew the jury would be on his side – those Friday critics had trashed his words, written cruel things, said worse things offline.

Tonight’s gonna be busy for St Peter.

 

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge, found here.

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He knows

Image copyright: Al Forbes

Image copyright: Al Forbes

“The three guys in the back are shouting, ‘Faster, faster, overtake, overtake.’ They’re seriously wasted. We all are. Even Gemma, two weeks outta school, first tattoo still scabbing, first jaunt with us older dudes. Drinking vodka. Neat! Vodka – it’s a Russian drink.”

“I know,” said St Peter.

“Of course.

“And then we come to a long straight stretch and I give it some juice. The needle touches eighty. The front left tyre blows. Pow!”

“I know,” said St Peter. “Now, that’s enough about you. Move along. Collect your wings from Hut 3.

“And do something about that bird-cage breath.”

 

Written for Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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Tracks

Image copyright: C.E. Ayr

Image copyright: C.E. Ayr

He had to get away and take his family with him. He had satirized The Leader, mocked his tweets, doubted his ability to rebuild the country.

Only last night he had had a visit – men in sharp suits knocking at his door, asking him where he was born, reminding him they knew where his children went to school, pointing out the building where his wife worked, advising him to conform.

In the early hours they packed a pushcart, walked to the railway.

“Which way?” he asked.

“North,” said the doctor.

“We all go north,” said the teacher.

And they did.

 

Written in response to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ weekly writing prompt posted from a secure cave in the side of some remote and unnamed mountains. You can participate by clicking here.

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Food for Thought

Image copyright: Roger Bultot

Image copyright: Roger Bultot

Billy Barter got early notice that the Apostrophe Police were going to be out in force the week after. He stepped outside the diner, looked at the sign, went back in and called an extraordinary staff meeting – waiters, flippers, cooks and all sat sipping shakes, debating, agreeing. It was a rather civilized discussion.

Billy bust out the guns and ammo while the others started building the barricades. Customers were solicited for their support – the response was mixed – the bank manager and the school ma’am demurred, but as you would expect, the grocers were up for the fight.

 

Written for Rochelle’ Wisoff’-Field’s’ weekly 100 word challenge found’ here.

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Obituary: Danny Burlap

Danny Burlap was well known in the squares of central London. Each evening he would wheel his piano to his chosen places and spend thirty minutes or so playing anything from Mozart through Scott Joplin to Keith Jarrett. The public loved him and they filled his hat with coins and folding money night after night. But what they didn’t know and what the police could only suspect was that Danny Burlap was a dealer. But when he and his piano were knocked over by a runaway tuk tuk illegally imported into the country by a pop-up hamburger vendor and the contents of the false bottom on his baby grand spilled out its contents onto the cobbles just outside the Pig and Garter, haunt of traditional journalists and digital age bloggers, it became known that Danny was peddling out-of-print copies of twentieth century Penguin Classics.

Danny couldn’t handle the ensuing publicity and the accompanying wave of approbation and left London, moving to Leamington Spa where he lived out the rest of his life in relative anonymity.

The only beneficiary named in his will is Buffo, his much loved Yorkshire terrier, who stands to live the rest of its life in relative luxury.

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Never Trust A Nightingale

Image copyright: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Image copyright: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

We got together around August last. At first we sang folk songs, sea shanties, some spirituals. And then a bunch of sheep said, Get yourself a teacher. We settled on a nightingale from the local wood. She agreed to work with us on carols for the Christmas season. We reckoned we could do a few gigs in return for some carrots, sweet hay etc.

We had bookings from the cattle shed, the pigsty and the chicken run. But then the nightingale flew south for the winter before we learnt the words.

Old MacDonald is a bit annoyed, but, hey, E-I-E-I-O.

 

Written in response to the Friday Fictioneers weekly 100 word challenge found here.

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