Archive for July, 2010

After a couple of months we meet up to play pool.

You roll the cue across the table to check for kinks. I make the break, sending the balls off in every direction. Even now, when all bets are off, I still get two shots to every one of yours. You always were generous.

You make your way around the table, hitting the balls into the pocket with practised ease. I’m haphazard, hitting my target wildly and hoping for the best. You call out tips as we go, still determined to teach me the game after all this time. I bite my tongue and let you think you’re helping.

Whenever I follow your advice, I miss my shot. When I go straight in, don’t stop to think what I’m doing, the balls go down one after the other. I sink five in a row and you whistle. You’ve been practising with someone, you say quietly, and the unanswered question sits between us until I take my next shot. I miss, sending the white ball flying off the table altogether.

It’s late and the bar is closing. You clean up, sending down three at once so there’s only the black left. You miss your shot so that I have a chance of winning. I line it up and it glances off the cushion and rolls into the pocket like a dream.

I’ve never won before. Without thinking I throw my arms around you. You freeze, then lean your head against mine and take a deep breath, letting it out slowly as we hold each other in the empty bar.

I have to break away.

You walk me back to my new flat. We smile at each other, agree we have to do this again soon. I stand at the doorway and watch you walk away, shoulders hunched against the night chill.

I close the door, walk up the stairs, let myself into a flat that doesn’t smell of you, and cry.

Words: 326

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At nine o’clock leant a lad, a suited, booted, snooted cad; at half past ten were two dirty old men with wolf whistles and some failing smiles.

An angel sat at twelve in style (but she only stayed a little while) and at half past one would wait a nun, resting her beads and her dark brown eyes.

At a quarter past the hour sat I, with ham and cheese compressed in rye. Each day I met these silent friends, along the banks of the Thames.

And in that capitol place on those capital days we all ate our lunch in our capital ways, as the clock chimed, ticked and tocked on our thirty-minute stay.

And then, on the Monday just gone, some stupid fat tourist sat on the bench at the end. Our song was broken, our rhythm was gone.

How dare he?

I was early and I watched it unravel.

The boy arrived first, only to find himself homeless. His first action was to tweet – some camera-swinging moron had stolen his seat – closely followed by sitting down in the place of the dirty old men.

I’m not sure they noticed when they turned up all beering; the set up camp where the nun sat and got on with their leering.

The angel arrived in a panic (with a lunch all organic) and stopped herself dead when she saw what had happened. She veered to the right, much to the old men’s delight, and then retreated in my direction.

For quarter of an hour in my quarter past seat, we chatted about something and nothing and had something to eat.

She told me her name and I blurted out mine, and we had for ourselves the loveliest time.
But it could not go on, and soon she was gone, back to answer the phone for some overpaid tool in the City.

Words: 315

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Morrison is not a creative man. Not once in his sixty-four years has he written a story, held a paintbrush or plucked a guitar string. But in the evening, during his midnight patrols through the museum halls, his imagination comes to life.

He starts by feeding peanuts to the baby elephant at the top of the stairs, before going on to watch the ancient military costumes perform their nightly drills; he enjoys seeing the hollow outfits march in perfect unison across the room. It reminds him of his old friends in the army. In the corner, a empty Samurai suit sits cross-legged on the floor with a kanta resting on its knees.

Morrison also like to eavesdrop the conversations of the Egyptian elite. He spends hours listening to the bandaged mummies bicker about philosophy or religion. Indeed, he is quickly becoming proficient in the Egyptian tongue. He is also attempting to pick up some Latin, although this is less successful; the Ceasars pressed into the ancient coins refuse to discuss anything other than death and taxes.

Morrison’s walks through the museum have also cultivated a knowledge of zoology and ornithology. He frequently observes the birds of prey as they preen their golden feathers inside the glass cages. The larger carnivores are less accepting of his gaze, baring their teeth if he dares to venture too close.

Suspended from the ceiling, the beached sperm whale sings a melancholy lament for the ocean.

As his patrol ends, Morrison lets his imagination off the leash; trekking through the dense undergrowth of the prehistoric exhibition, pushing aside the giant ferns which had sprouted from the marble floor.

Wiping the tropical moisture from his brow, he takes up his usual seat on a moss-covered bench and waits. A roar shakes the green vines hanging from the timbers above and the canopy birds fall silent. A childhood smile breaks across his grey face as the beast of his imagination lumbers out of the trees towards him.

Words: 330

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“Nothing to be done,” Shaun sighed, slumping down onto the plastic seat.

“There won’t be another bus for hours,” Wayne agreed. “Are you sure this is the right place?”

“Of course,” he replied. “I wish it would hurry up though; I’m bursting for a piss.”

He stood up, paced out onto the deserted road, and returned to the shelter.

“Who do you reckon left that there?” Shaun asked, gesturing towards the shoe on the seat. “I wonder if she knows it’s missing.”

“Probably,” Wayne sighed.

“Gabor” Shaun declared, peering into the leather. “Is that a good shoe?”

“Dunno,” his friend said sheepishly.

“She wasn’t at that party though, was she?” Shaun asked.

“I didn’t see anyone with that shoe on,” Wayne confirmed.

“Then, we should wait here just in case she comes back for it.”

“What?” Wayne yelped. “But I’m desperate for a piss!”

“You go on then. It’s dangerous for a woman to be walking alone at this time of night. Especially if she’s only got one shoe.”

“Although,” he added, “I bet a pretty girl like that has a boyfriend to take care of her. I bet she’s wearing his shoes.”

“Well? Shall we go?” Wayne asked.

“But, what happens if she shows up looking for her shoe?” Shaun argued.

“We’ll come back tomorrow and see if it’s still here.”

“But what happens if we miss her picking it up?”

“It’s probably not her shoe anyway,” Wayne declared.

Shaun contemplated this for a moment.

“Well. If it’s not her shoe, we should be going.”

“I think,” Wayne stated, “that we should wait five more minutes. Just to see if she comes back. Let’s wait to hear what she says about us.”

“I hope she gets here soon,” Shaun pondered. “I’m desperate for the loo.”

“We’ll go in five minutes,” Wayne said.

Words: 330

With apologies to Samuel Beckett

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