short stories...

..that won't bore thee a short story a day helps you work less and play

Friday, March 11, 2005

french letters

i have no friends. i have no living family that i am aware of, and i have no job. you'd think that's pretty sad, i guess. and looking back, it was for a while. i had only my telly and computer to occupy my mind for the hours of the day that i didn't spend asleep or in a bath. of course, i'd go out and see things, buy stuff, look around, the usual. and people would talk to me, like shopkeepers, bus drivers, policeman. and i've been doing this for almost half of my forty eight years. it hadn't always been so. and then 1982 came and went and the life that i had lived before was over. most people remember that year for either the battle over the falklands (or the malvinas, as some might say), or the year channel 4 started. but i remember that dreadful year for reasons other than those listed. namely, my mother died, my wife had a msicarriage, then left me and i lost my job. sometimes, those reasons seem to be connected. but then, you always think that don't you? but i had my dole money to keep me going and of course, housing benefit meant i didn't have to move out of the small flat we had rented until then.
so it could have been worse. and i had some kind of perverse entertainment out of the goings on of the flat that was immediately below mine. it had once been council owned, just like mine, then thatcher made it possible for people to go private for a price. and the strange little italian man, who ran the chip shop on our high street, who lived below took adavantage of the first great property boom of the eighties and made a relative fortune and told me he was moving to be with his daughter's family on the west coast of scotland where his son-in-law had opened up a massive ice cream emporium in one of the main ports to the western islands. they were to be partners in an equally impressive venture specialising in my neighbour's expertise of chipped potato. he was somewhat apologetic about this seemingly sudden change of events, as we had been neighbours for fifteen years or more. he was always reluctant to take my money whenever i frequented his little shop. he was aware of how much, financially, i had. he was not selling the house just yet, and was renting out downstairs. the pocket of london where we lived was now becoming rather fashioanble at long last, so he was able to charge a substantial amount for the small space he had bought.
of course, people came and went. young couples, students, sometimes even families let out what must have been a terribly cramped area for four people. the occupants also varied in the amount of moise they made. the family with the angry teenage son were probably the worst. not just the arguments, it was more the music he played when his parents worked and he overlooked the small matter of his secondary education by not attending school.
then this guy from marseilles moved in. he had a typically french name, paul grosjean. he had a life. he told me once that he was a maitre'd in a rather decent restaurant in knightsbridge, whos name i can't recall. funny that, as i pirde myself on having the most fantastic memory. he had no steady girlfriend, and seemed in no hurry to get one. that didn't stop him having a constant succession of the most beautiful women attend his rather bijou flat. i never knew whether they were friends or co-workers or maybe customers. they were probably a combination of them all. and even though i lived above him rather than below, you could hear quite loudly the marathon sessions of lovemaking that occured regularly throughout the week. though i never ever went in, even from his front door on the inside of the house, the flat just smelt of sex. i didn't not get along with him, in fact to the contrary we quite liked each other. he was friendly and generous towards me, and respected my privacy, though he cared for none of his own. he would always invite me to his gatherings or dinner-parties that he was so fond of hosting, and never stopped aasking even though my answer would always be the one of polite refusal. then paul grosjean met the girl of his dreams, and the man from marseilles' boat came in. he finally found a girl who could tame him, and he conceded his bachelor days were gone.
i was quite glum for sometime about this, probably even more than i had done when my italian friend had gone up north. another tenant moved in, who was almost as reclusive as me, and the entertainment ceased. somewhat sadly, it had ended up taking up far too much of my daily thoughts and i was at a loss.
then one day, for what seemed like the first time ever, i noticed the mail had built up a lot. it was addressed to various amounts of the old tenants. mr grosjean won by a mile, although most of the mail was either junk or bank statements or unpaid utility bills or unanswered demands for council tax. but paul still had a fair percentage of personal letters, which i never opened, of course. even his junk mail was more interesting than the average fare. he ahd been a member of a fair few clubs and societies and galleries. and he obviously hadn't informed them of his return to the mother country. so one day, i replied with a rsvp to a launch of new bottled aftershave and decided to go. from that night i became somewhat addicted and this became my new hobby. i very rarely talked to people, only if they made it essentially so. and i had some kind of life back. i went to free previews of film openings, wine tastings, book launches, etc. the more i went to, the more mailing lists i got on and pretty soon, it seemed i had an invitation to look forward to most evenings. then one evening, i had booked up to go to a new restaurant that paul must have had some connection with. it was over in kennington, near the cricket ground, and i arrived as usual and signed in the guestlist. of course, i always signed as 'monsieur grosjean' or 'p. grosjean' or 'paul grosjean'. i had to be consistent. noone ever seemed to care, but, you know, just in case. it was just a sensible precaution. but that one night, about half an hour after i had arrived, i was guzzling down some splendin sparkling wine that was agreeing well with the duck pate salad i was delving into, when a rather attractive lady walked over.
'hi, i'm isabelle. your name badge, it says paul grosjean? well...'
i suddenly recognised her as one of the regular invitees of the flat downstairs. i was about to be rumbled and i knew that the life of the social scene that paul and subsequently i had lived was to be curtailed.
..there's this guy...'

(story for yesterday) beetlebum.

there's this guy i used to hang 'round at school with, goes by the name of amos boreland. despite the unfortunate choice of christian name, which seemed chosen only to enhance the terribleness of the one that followed, amos boreland was the coolest kid in my class.
he had everything first; first bike, first fight, first choice when we picked sides, first kiss, first girlfriend, first to drink alcohol, first to have sex, and so it went on.
we had a weird kind of friendship, it was perhaps perhaps on mutual hatred rather than mutual love. yet for some reason we never quite shook each other off. so even by sixth form, we still pretty much hung out with the same people and therfore each other. until the day we went to cambridge.
you probably have heard of the strawberry fair. if not, then it was and probably still is, an annual day of music drinking and lounging by the river, with hippies, crusties, indie kids, pop kids and other studenty types. i think it was held around midsummer.
amos had driven a crowd of us up in his volkswagen camper van... do you see what i mean now? that sort. which sounds pretty cool and good of him, i can admit that now. but the guy was such a fucking fascist about it all. he'd constantly be hinting that we hadn't thanked him enough. not only that, he'd charge us all the most extortionate amount of petrol money, so much so that it would probably would have been cheaper to get the train. but, if you want to hang out with the cool kids, there's always a price to pay. anyway, to get to the point it was sometime very late in the night, and me and this other guy had gone back to the van as the evening had gotten a little too drunken for the both of us. the other lot had stayed out. we'd forgotten to ask for the keys and by the time we only realised this when we got back to the van. with an amazing amount of luck we tried each of the doors, and the driver door had not been locked. we practically hugged ourselves with glee. we said goodnight , fell alseep almost immediately, and that should have been that.
the rest of them returned wht=at must have been a few hours later. amos had realised our mistake and had wondered why we had not come back to get the keys. this was in the days before hand-held moobile telecommunication sets had made an appearance. he woke us both up as he could not comprehend how we had got in without them. then i made the mistake of saying that it had been 'his door' that had been unlocked. amos did not make mistakes ever. period. anyone else's door would have been 'typical', but no, not his door. he was starting to get a bit angry and accused us of 'forcing one of the door open', that one that slides along the side. we denied this of course, as it wasn't what had happened, but he was still not happy. we were bothe made to get out of the two beds and had to sleep in the front of the van. within a few hours, the sun was racing thorugh the windsscreen and it was way too hot to get any more sleep. apart from me and my accomplice, they were all more than comfortable and therefore fast asleep in the back. so we made a decision to get the train home, as god knows what the atmosphere would have been like onj the way back, let alone the price of petrol, and i never was friends with amos boreland ever again. amos boreland, what a name.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

the fannyman

what a name. what a nickname.
they had guessed somewhat that he may have less than generouslly sized than everyone else. maybe they were right. of course they were right. a few stolen glances in the boys toilets, the fact that he was more reluctant to shower than anyone else. so, so, obvious.
it was almost male rape the way they pulled down his trousers with such aggressive behaviour.
there had been three of them to just the one of him. it had occured on the school playing field that their two schools had shared. what had given them the urge? sexual curiosity perhaps? or just that feeling of humiliation...
anway, they got what they had wanted. he could barely walk home without thinking of what their possible agendas might have been.
so the next morning came along, he had to return to school.
he walked in, hoping the embarrassment of what had happend the afternoon before may have been greater on their parts. alas, no.
'fanyman, fanny man, here comes the fannyman!'
'do you really have no dick/cock/willy/ penis?' they all asked in varying degrees of loudness and suggestiveness.
'of course i do' said i, with absolutely no alternative but to go on the offensive.
'who? who me? i'm at least six inches.'

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

six inches

'six inches!'
'six inches, i said. didn't i say? didn't i say, six inches?'
yes dad, at least three times and counting. you fucking annoying fucker.
'i told you not to slam it, didnt i? this car's on hire purchase, and you had to go and slam the door. i told you, didn't i tell you?'
christ, give this guy a heart attack and take away my misery. please, lord, please. he's a lapsed catholic anyway, probably wronged more than two thirds of the ten commandments. he doesn't deserve the choir of angels, the pearly gates, the naked sluts (okay maybe the last one's not obligatory).
'even if it was my car, i wouldn't expect you to treat a car like that. oh, i forgot you can't drive. if you had managed to take a few lessons, pass a simple driving test, then maybe you wouldn't slam car doors with such abandon.'
lord, o lord, what have i done to deserve some less than quality time with mein papa, the man who made it all possible. my genes are really from his genes? please make it a hospital mistake.
i'm visiting my long-departed-from-home father. he was booted out of his marital home a good ten years or so ago, and he really hasn't changed that much. sadly for all those that have to share time with the mad fucker. i almost felt for him the day he left, but to be honest, he had been misbehaving for a good couple of decades, so the patience of my mother had been firmly tested when the front door became a revolving one.
'you really are from your mother's side of the family aren't you? you lot, with your gawkiness. are you sure you're mine?' now that hurts, it really does. well, it would do, if i didn't hope, maybe equally so, that it might be true as well. i just wish once in his sixty three years, he could say that he loved me unconditionally, no questions asked, loved my mistakes, loved me for what or who i am. and thought, just for a second, that's my son, the great young man.

Monday, March 07, 2005

toby begins to see the light

the great young man known to the world, and his parents, as toby mcbride
was on the number 36 bus, which was heading rather less than briskly towards the reinvigorated vauxhall cross.
it was a monday morning, it was somewhat later than 9 30 am and he was, as per the norm, a tad late for college.
he started singing.
'here we go again, i'm looking at you my friend'
toby liked the velvet underground a lot. they were his favourite new - or rather, old - band.
people really di move round to look at him singing his little heart out. it wasn't that he was particularly loud or even that untuneful. it was just he was attempting the song in the style of a young lou reed. which was perfectly reasonable of course, bearing in mind the origins of the song. but perhaps that particular time of the morning was a bit early to hear a quasi-american whine in a public space.
toby however was undeterred by the grimaces and looks of bemusement heading in his direction. he continued with a huge grin across his rosy red face.
'and i'm beginning to see the light...'
just then a male person who looked quite close in age to our hero, turned his head around from the seat in front and looked for all intents and purposes that he was about to talk to our merry little friend. which he duly proceeded to do.
'hey! you get this bus a lot, don't you?'
toby nodded appropriately.
'well, it's just that i'm starting a band, and i like the same music that you seem to like. besides, anyone who wears a cardigan is good enough for me.toby looked at this friendly youth with a slight feeling of mistrust. this guy could be really taking this piss. but he chose to trust him. solely because he was in an exceptionally good mood.
'hi' he said.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

worth getting out of bed for?

'Hi' he said.
'good day?' he said.
'okay' I said.
'why not good?' he said.
'well..' i said.
'...didn't do all that.' i said.
'well, i know you're not working,...' he said.
'.. but it must be alright..' he said.
'you're getting dole money an' that?'
'yeh, suppose.' i said.
'but it's all philip 'n' fern, richard 'n' judy, des 'n' mel.'
'well, you must have done something?' he said.'
'i guess,' i guessed.
'i drew some cartoons and made up a song.'
'that's kind of constructive' he said.
'what was the song?' he said.
'well, y'know that johnny cash died, and he always wore black?' i said.
'mmm' he mmmed.
'i thought of this new persona. the beige man. he's got a theme. 'the man in beige'.
oh he said. a little bored like.
'do you want to hear it?' i said.
' i guess' he guessed.
'i'm the beige man
i wear beige when i can
not orange nor tan
'cos that would be strange
as i'm the man

(he's the man)
yeah, i'm the man
who likes to wear beige.'
'oh' said he
'was that worth getting out of bed for?'