Monthly Archives: July 2013

Friday Fictioneers – Sting In The Tale

‘Chico, it’s me – Vinny from Lamberton Wildlife Park – gotta job for ya. The boss wants a bee, 20 foot. Gonna go out front!’

‘That’s a big bug Vin, but you can rely on Fuentes Plastics. Give us 2 weeks.’

As promised, the bee arrived two weeks later; it was a beauty. Vinny and Chuck carefully wheeled it round to the entrance where their boss, Mr Gammon, was waiting.

‘Where da ya want it?’ said Vinny.

Mr Gammon’s face froze; Mrs Gammon laughed. ‘Stick it up there after the m!’ she said, pointing to the sign:

‘Lam erton Wildlife Park’

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This is my entry into this weeks 100 word challenge over at Friday Fictioneers.

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Trifecta 88 – Voice of Korea

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A week in North Korea hadn’t been high on my bucket list, but as one of the few corporations with an office in Pyongyang, I was up. Whether through a sense of curiosity or sadism – I wasn’t sure which – I almost began to look forward to it. Could this place really be as grim as it was painted?

I was barely out of the plane when they came towards me. One introduced himself as my official interpreter. He introduced the other one as a party observer. No names; certainly no informalities. I decided to call the interpreter Mr K. He didn’t object. He called me Sir. Both men wore identical clothing.  Just about the only way to tell them apart was the striking flash of grey in the interpreter’s otherwise matt black hair.

Over the following week I would only lose my double shadow when my bedroom door closed. On my last full day a cultural tour was undertaken; it seemed to be obligatory. Driving through the eerily deserted city streets my interpreter pointed out one particularly bold propaganda poster:

“We Koreans Band Together For Victory”

Probably not a literal translation, pointed out Mr K, but the unification rhetoric sounded familiar. I laughed. We both did, surprisingly. He suddenly started telling me about his family – even showed me a small picture of a pretty little girl, red ribbons in her hair. It was his daughter. The observer took note.

On my last morning Mr K wasn’t there. The observer turned up alone and pointed the way. I didn’t think too much of it. We were quickly herded to the station and the train south to Seoul. As we waited I spotted a crowded train opposite, with armed guards on the doors. I was told it was going north. I was told not to ask any more questions.

As the northbound train left I caught a flash of grey. Our eyes briefly met. In his lap a little girl’s red ribbons fluttered.

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These 333 words form my entry into the Trifecta 88 writing challenge.

The ‘Voice of Korea‘ is international broadcasting service of North Korea. If you have a moment please visit this page and listen to the crackling segments of VoK – they send a shiver down the spine.

For the crime of laughter Mr K was possibly heading here:

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Alastair’s Photo Fiction – Perfection in Harmony

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An anticipation of something special hung in the air. The Moscow Promenade series had been one of the most memorable in recent years; tonight the final recital was expected to provide a fitting climax. The line up of musical talent on display certainly promised all that, and perhaps more.

On the rostrum, Igor Vaclav shared some last words with his right hand – lead violinist Chi-Xe Lang. These two needed to perform as one. Every note, every chord, every semi-quaver had its place. Igor and Chi-Xe wouldn’t accept anything less. Their reputations were the ones on the line. The rest of the orchestra were seen as an extension of them. The orchestra’s faults would be their faults; tonight was too important for mistakes.

The hall was soon filled with an explosion of sound. The audience sat enthralled as sweeping chords, crashing drums and heavenly strings rained down. As the finale approached Igor and Chi-Xe both noticed it: the cellist due to lead the closing piece wasn’t there. No time to think why. A quick glance between the two – they knew what was needed. Where there was meant to be cello there was instead violin. As the last note sounded the crowd roared their approval. The conductor and his right hand shared a relieved, and knowing smile.

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Apologies at once again blowing the 150 word guideline; I hope you regard the extra 70 words as a bonus!  This tale of two acting as one forms my entry into this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress siteThe picture is copyright of http://kattermonran.com/.

 

Trifextra 78 – The Ring

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White hankies wave.

The beast staggers, bloodied but aware.

His final tormentor moves in closer.

Their eyes meet; in that moment there is acceptance.

Blood drips. Sweat sheens. The final blade is thrust.

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These 33 words form my entry into the Trifextra 78 writing challenge.

Apologies if this seems distasteful but in researching ideas for this piece I stumbled across bullfighting. Thought it was worth upsetting a few people if in the end it perhaps helps to raise awareness. For more info on the campaign against bullfighting please go to http://www.cas-international.org/en/news/

Friday Fictioneers – Living The High Life

ff240713Chong Woo had the best office in the world. From his stool he’d watch as 747s streaked across the clouds. His customers were always grateful, if somewhat surprised, to see him.

‘How did you get here?’ was a common greeting. His response was always the same: a smile.

Chong’s old bones were starting to creak; the thin air and raw sunlight were increasingly hard on his ageing body. However, it was setting up each morning which was really taking its toll. Getting a hot dog stand to the top of Mt. Everest sure was hard work for a 90 year old.

This is my entry into this weeks 100 word challenge over at Friday Fictioneers

Trifecta 87 – First Love, Only Love

t87‘You are invited to the reading of the last will and testament of Charlie Duffin,’ said the letter. Louisa-May had barely seen Charlie in years: he’d upped and left her back in ’65, leaving three kids and his ageing mother. He’d show up from time to time. No matter how angry she’d be he’d always win her round.

‘Charm a crab out of its shell. That’s you Charlie Duffin,’ she always used to say. He’d stay for a few nights and sometimes it looked like things may go back to the way they were. They never did.

As she sat in the lawyer’s office others began to arrive. Louisa-May knew he’d remarried; Charlie hadn’t contested the divorce. Three more recently bereaved women soon showed up. A fourth had died: drunk herself to death apparently. As the lawyer began eyebrows were quickly raised.

‘The following conditions apply to any beneficiaries of this will….’

It was a long list. Look out for his youngest kids was one. Tending to his old mother’s grave was another. One by one the former wives cursed Charlie’s name before storming out. Charlie knew they would. After a dozen or so more conditions were announced, only one Mrs Duffin remained. The lawyer continued:

‘If I’m right the only one of you still listening will be my Louisa-May. Are you there Lou? Louisa, I’m sorry for all the hurt I caused you girl. Sorry for leaving you with them kids and my crazy old mother. You know you were the only one I really loved. Them others? That was my ego getting the better of me. You knew how much I couldn’t resist laying a line on someone. Got me in a right mess at times. Please forgive me Louisa. Please don’t think bad of me. Whatever I had left is yours. Love Charlie.”

The lawyer stopped; Louisa-May smiled. She wasn’t interested in any of Charlie’s old possessions. She had their shared memories, good and bad. She didn’t need anything else.

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These 333 words form my entry into the Trifecta 87 writing challenge. I hope you like them.

Alastair’s Photo Fiction – The One Under

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The station appeared deserted. Wind whistled down the track; litter sucked into the darkness. From somewhere in that void came the sound of an ever approaching train. The smell of damp and decay was everywhere. ‘One’ and ‘Six’ said the arrivals board. It seemed a lot longer than that since he’d been staring, waiting for his train to arrive. He could still hear it. He could always hear it.

Something wasn’t right. He walked along and out of the platform. The escalators churned, empty of life. Where was everybody? He began to panic. Had he been locked in by mistake? He couldn’t actually remember getting here. Running up the moving stairway; along more silent tunnels. Posters advertising ‘Summer Fun in London’ beaming out as he ran. Running, he kept running. One last turn and he was sure he’d be at the exit.

Rounding the corner the deserted platform beckoned once more. At the mouth of the tunnel she stood. Waiting to jump. His train finally racing from the dark to the light.

***

Harry woke with a start. The woman had died instantly that day. She is free. Harry relives it endlessly. He will never drive his train again. He weeps; his wife holding him tightly.

Apologies at blowing the 150 word guideline. I could take 50 words out but I don’t want to as the story would be lost. I hope I’m forgiven and that you enjoy these 200 words which represent my entry into this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress siteThe picture is copyright of http://kattermonran.com/.

(For info a “One Under” is what London Underground drivers call a situation where someone jumps in front of a moving train)

Trifextra 77 – We Shall Overcome

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Nervously she twiddled her wedding ring as the consultant began.

Stage IV.

Her eyes began to water. Only briefly.

Not time yet for self pity.

This fight wasn’t over.

It was just beginning.

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These 3words form my entry into the Trifextra 77 writing challenge.

This piece is dedicated to organisations such as Cancer Research UK and Breast Cancer Care for their unrelenting attempts to find treatments and possible cures for this absolute brute of a disease. Please help them and others if you can.

Friday Fictioneers – The Wheels of Justice

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You always knew when Freddie Bauman was nearby. You didn’t need to hear his high pitched croaky voice or catch a glimpse of that thinning red hair; see his bright yellow boneshaker and he wouldn’t be far away.

The widow Henningshaw robbery shocked the community. A bright yellow bike was spotted fleeing the scene. The ugly mob surrounding Freddie’s house wasn’t in the mood to debate the evidence. His guilt had been already been decided.

Five miles outside town the stranger grinned as he inspected his bounty. The Greyhound arrived and he was gone. In the nearby weeds his recently acquired bright yellow bike lay abandoned.

This is my entry into this weeks 100 word challenge over at Friday Fictioneers

Trifecta 86 – A Family Matter

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They shuffled in and out. Faces without names. Names without faces. No one made any attempt to disturb her. It’s her life they probably thought.  All sense of time was lost on Carrie. Days, weeks, minutes. She could have been lying there for years. The sheets underneath her were stained through with her own waste. Her once blond curls matted, ripped and torn beyond recognition. She’d lost all respect for herself. Nobody else seemed to care. She was beyond saving.

Carrie would just lie there all day staring into nothing. Then she saw it. A bright light. A blinding light pouring through a deep crack in the wall. As she looked around the room nobody else seemed to notice. Maybe nobody else wanted to see it. Perhaps nobody else needed to.

“Is it a way in? Is it a way out?” she whispered. No answer came.

Then suddenly they appeared. One by one.

Her father said he loved her. He doesn’t blame her for what happened. She’s still his baby girl. He forgives her. Can she forgive him? Should she forgive him? She’d loved him once. Maybe she still did.

With Carrie’s mother’s arrival there followed silence. Hushed moments of pained but somehow mutual understanding. He’s my husband! He was my father! Tears flowed on both sides. If asked her mother would say she knew nothing. Her mother would know what her father wanted her to know.

Brad. Catcher’s mitt ready to play. Carrie had been such a sport when younger. Brad said she’d be the first girl to play for the Springvale Lancers. She was good enough but things just didn’t work out. Girls are meant for other things. That’s what her father assured her. She loved her brother. He was the only one who ever really listened to her. The only one who believed.

As suddenly as it had come the light quickly began to fade. The crack was almost closed. Carrie’s eyes rolled skywards. The needle fell to the floor

These 333 words are my entry into the Trifecta Week 86 writing challenge. 

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Alastair’s Photo Fiction – King of the Castle

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His friends thought he was a pretentious oaf. Live in a castle? Why not he’d earned it! Harry Vernon was undoubtedly no King Arthur but the name Camelot had been too hard to resist. Maybe he was pretentious after all? He didn’t care.

Harry woke to the hushed voices of servants tip-toeing past his bedroom door. The gentle sound of splashing water from the en-suite told him the second Mrs, or as he called her, Lady Vernon had already risen. Donning his velvet dressing gown and hand sewn leather slippers Harry strolled across to the window. Throwing wide the shutters the view was as stunning as ever.

Across the street the Elizabethan mansion of plastic surgeon Doctor Rodriguez glistened in the bright morning sunlight. Next door peacocks strutted in the grounds of Deputy Commissioner Mandale’s tribute to the Palace of Versailles. Thankfully money knew no bounds of taste in the millionaire’s row of San Portenza. Harry couldn’t have been happier.

These 150’ish words represent my entry into this week’s Photo Fiction challenge on Alastair’s WordPress siteThe picture is copyright of http://kattermonran.com/

Friday Fictioneers – Together Again

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“Miaow. So it’s true. It can happen!” purred Fluffy.

The memories of the crash were still fresh. It was his fault. If only he hadn’t tried to use his phone. It was his best friend Kenny that he felt sorry for. He didn’t deserve to die.

“Cat flap. Like it.” Fluffy was content as he headed outside to survey his new territory.

As Fluffy emerged he spotted it. The puppy. A young, noisy, very bouncy puppy. The pup soon eyed Fluffy and began to race across the lawn to say hello.

Fluffy went cold. It couldn’t be. Those eyes. That grin. Unmistakable….Kenny!

This is my entry into this weeks 100 word challenge over at Friday Fictioneers

Trifecta 85 – The Cruelest Trick of All

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Most people would walk straight by without knowing it was even there. Mr Kenningway’s antique bookstore cowered down a dank, musty alley off Farrendale Avenue. It was the kind of spot more likely to attract passing rats than customers. However, if you needed to, you’d find it. Just as I did on that Christmas Eve 20 years past.

I’d been told about Kenningways and it sounded ideal. It was. Within minutes I’d found the book I wanted: “Chess Classics by Bobby Fischer”. Father was terrible at Chess but liked to read about people who weren’t. Mr Kenningway was a charming old man. He seemed to have read every book in the shop. When I’d drop by we’d talk about old times. His old times. It was a pleasure to share them.

I moved away from town. College, marriage, job, children. The usual things. I couldn’t have been happier. However, I often wondered if it was still there. If he was still there. They both were. Mr Kenningway looked old. He said I did too! We laughed. I soon started to make regular trips back to town and always stopped at the bookstore. One day I noticed it. He appeared frustrated. Cranky. I’d never known Mr Kenningway to fly off the handle before. However, he seemed confused. He couldn’t find things which were only a few feet away. He complained his memory wasn’t what it was.

That was three years ago. I still visit him. He’s living in the sheltered housing units where the old railway sidings used to be. Whenever I walk in he always looks up. He recognises the face, he just can’t remember the name. Some days I’m his nephew, the next his grandson. I don’t mind. It’s too late and too complicated to explain. As long as we continue to have our moments together, looking at his old photos, remembering the old days I can be whoever he wants me to be. I’m there for him, that’s all that matters.

These 333 words are my entry into the Trifecta Week 85 writing challenge. 

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This story is dedicated to the ongoing research into the cruelest trick life can play on an active mind.

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For more on the above early signs of Alzheimer’s please look here.

The Wait is Over – Arise Sir Andy Murray!

murray1British tennis waited 76 years for a Grand Slam winner. That wait ended in September last year when Dunblane’s Andy Murray won the 2012 US Open. However, for many seasonal followers of tennis in these islands that was merely a warm up event. The only tournament that matters is the one which takes place in SW19 each summer. Wimbledon. Win that and you have arrived. Don’t win it the wait for a home winner continues. For all he has achieved in the game the World No. 2 would only truly receive the adulation and acceptance of some Brits when Wimbledon was cracked. That moment came a few short hours ago. The Wimbledon men’s singles champion for 2013 is Andy Murray!

wimbledoneThis afternoon under scorching London skies was Andy’s second successive Wimbledon final. His seventh overall appearance in a Grand Slam final. He has actually played in four consecutive Slam finals. He missed the French through injury but featured in the most recent Australian, US Open and Wimbledon championship matches. Of those six to date he’d won one and lost five. Each occasion he has been up against either Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic (three times each). Nothing has come easy. No patsy in the finals. Each time the underdog. Therefore when the moment came at Flushing Meadows it was for some the likely pinnacle of his career. Well, those thoughts are now being hastily revised.

Pre-match my thoughts were perhaps Novak in four but also suggested it wouldn’t surprise me if Andy won in straight sets. These two players are incredibly close and it was always going to boil down to a few points here or there. Today it was Andy’s turn to prevail. It wasn’t though without some last gasp tension which must have had the British nation on the verge of kittens. Three championship points came and went. Novak had three break back points. He couldn’t possibly lose it from here? He didn’t! Having shown incredible mental strength to fend off the break points the match and title was sealed when Djokovic netted a forehand.

He’d done it! He’d done it!

No more years of waiting. No more mentions of Fred Perry. We should cherish these years as they may well be the best ever in British tennis history.  Well done Andy. Two time Grand Slam champion. Wimbledon winner 2013. Take a bow sir. You’ve earned it!