The Dogs Bo**ocks – part 2

As I get older, I appreciate that I have a very suppressed mischievous side, which I am starting to release every now and again.

After the previous competition entry, I felt the need to enter another story to the awesome Flash! Friday site, which challenged the global writing community to come up with a flash fiction story. 1000 words or less. Based on childhood mischief (Tom Sawyer was given as a good example).

The competition was called Dog Days, here is a link to the finalist stories http://flashfriday.wordpress.com/dog-days-finalists-stories/

This time, I went all out to just have a bit of fun and detox from serious. I was a little surprised to find out that I made the finalist list with the new story.

Rather stupidly, I forgot to put the title on the story. I struggled with this and went with the working title of “Spam”…

This picture is just missing the middle-aged man, and saggy pound-shop y-fronts.
This picture is just missing the middle-aged man, and saggy pound-shop y-fronts.

Three weeks ago, he was dead.

Now, I wish he was dead again.

Grief is a funny thing. It makes you do things you would never normally consider. Like all those BS spam messages you get on Twitter and Facebook. You know the ones…

“Click ‘like’ if you think world peace is awesome.”

“RT me if you want to end suffering in the third world.”

“Forward this if you miss a loved one and would give anything to have them back for just one week, to let them see the world through the eyes of a child.”

The digital world has been my real home since the funeral. People don’t know what to say, they tend to avoid me. Being on-line removes all that. People say what they feel. So, sure, I clicked it. What harm could it do? I’d done it a few times before and nothing happened.

A few days later, he shows up. Naturally, I fainted. Thought it was a dream – did all the stuff you see in movies, but it was real. He’s not a zombie, or anything crazy like that. It’s him, well sort of, maybe how he was as a teenager…

Sure, hiding him has been a problem. It’s just me and my best mate, Jumbo. Jumbo freaked, I mean he properly freaked when I showed him.

Mum is working away this week, thank God! I’ve managed to hide him in the garage.

I’m sure he’s been going out at nights. I’m finding more random stuff each day. I have no idea how he gets it, he musta stolen some credit cards. I think he’s been keeping the car windscreen repair people busy in the neighbourhood, too.

Today, he’s sporting sunglasses indoors, fake gold chains and a t-shirt, with ‘YOLO’ written on the front, which is ironic. His jeans are three sizes too big, deliberately pulled down, hanging off his saggy arse. His underwear is fully showing. I never really understood how this looked good to anyone, even setting aside the practicalities. But, dad doesn’t even get the fundamentals right. You know that elastic bit that normally has something like ‘CK’ written on it? His are Y-fronts, embossed with “Underpants 4 men”.

“I is looking dench, man?”

He’s been doing the faux-gansta routine for a few hours now.

“What are you talking about, dad?” I reply.

“Don’t hit me wit that dad label. I is Tom Sawyer, two point zero. I is the badest ass in da hood…Ya hear wot I’m sayin?…Ya need to chill, bro… I’m just hanging wit my krew…Ya hear me?”

Did he just say that? Seriously? This is wrong, on so many levels.

I should have sussed it before clicking it. Strange things were happening. Blockhead from school falls sick, I mean really sick. His hair started falling out in his lunchtime KFC bucket. A few weeks back, I wished him harm; after he decided to beat the hell outta me for having a day off school to go to the funeral.

Then Huck and Finn, the twins, they both ran into each other at full speed during a football game; I mean what are the chances of them both being in a coma? They stood and laughed as Blockhead beat seven shades out of me. Let’s just say I didn’t wish them well either.

A teacher got food poisoning.

The school mascot, Fuzzface, got run over…

I go to dad’s makeshift bedroom in the garage. I route through his stuff, I have no idea how he got any of it. It smells like medieval alchemy.

The room is full of shadows and dull grey metallic surfaces. On the tool-cabinet, I find a job application, it reads ‘Secret Agent’, and he’s put his name as J. Bond. He’s put ‘plenty’ in the sex field. He’s listed his GTA 5 achievements in the accomplishment section. In memberships, he’s listed gold membership to the local strip club.

Then I see the hand-scrawled note, in Jumbo’s handwriting. Jumbo is my best mate, but he’s pretty stupid. He tells everyone he’s called Jumbo because he’s blessed with a Jumbo sausage, in reality, let’s just say, politely, he’s BMI challenged. The note reads…

Instructions for secret formula cologne (guaranteed success)
• 3 parts Brute (can’t beat the classics)
• 2 parts Hai Karate (be careful how you use it)
• 1 part banned pheromone (do NOT use more than this, or you might have problems with animals)
• 1 part WD40 (women love a guy that smells like he can fix stuff)

I put the list down. I need to talk to Jumbo; he’s hardly helping matters.I run in the house to tell dad that this has to stop. I find him with a backpack full of stuff.

“What you got there, dad?”

No response, just a childish snigger.

“Show me what you got..er, Sawyer”

“I’m ready to nuke this town.”

He tips his supplies on to the table.

One air pistol.
A tin of three hundred pellets.
An improvised blow-pipe made out of an empty biro.
A ninja star, that looks like it will break mid-air.
Five cans of XXL caffeine energy drink.
Twenty stink-bombs!

“Lunden town should prepare for war!” His war-paint face looks serious.

I realise there is nothing much I can do. At first, I was overwhelmed to see him. Then I thought his behaviour was kinda comical. Now I feel like I’m babysitting a delinquent younger brother.

Last night I caught him looking at the adult channels, his glasses steamed up, his mouth hanging open like a dog.

I’m not sure what happens after a week, I have four more days to go and I’m not sure I can make it.

My phone pings. Social media notification.

A spam message, from @wormwoodsixsixtysix.

“Do you ever wish a problem would just disappear? RT me to make your wish come true.”

My finger hovers, poised over the button…


I had some very kind and supportive comments for the story (a massive thank you to those that took time to read it and provide support or feedback).

I had many votes for the story from people I didn’t know, but friends asked other people to help – so, thank you to my Nigerian friends and my writing buddies. This was especially helpful as I’m using a pen name in an attempt to keep my writing and career lives separated, so , I had limited options open to me. Thanks a million to those that helped (I think I came 6th? in the votes).

Some wonderful other finalist stories if you want to check them out http://flashfriday.wordpress.com/dog-days-finalists-stories/

The incredible work they did to get the votes is a thing of wonder and awe.

The Dogs Bo**ocks – part 1

I’m getting (slightly) controversial with my title; is this what happens when you get more confident and become ever so slightly less inhibited?

Anyway…

The wonderful site that is Flash! Friday challenged the global writing community to come up with a flash fiction story. 1000 words or less. Based on childhood mischief (Tom Sawyer was given as a good example).

The competition was called Dog Days, here is a link to the finalist stories http://flashfriday.wordpress.com/dog-days-finalists-stories/

A beach close to my heart was used as the setting.
A beach close to my heart was used as the setting.

Being mischievous, I submitted two stories.

I’m not sure if I’m getting too involved with my writing. Sometimes, I cannot sleep and worry so much about my characters and the stories that I have real attachment that knots my lower stomach as much as any real-life challenging situation. I tend to think of this as a positive sign, but I really need to find better ways of dealing with it as it tends to take a lot out of me. The first story took so much out of me that I felt the need to de-tox on a second (lighthearted and fun,) story.

I struggled with the title, then came up with MoonShine…


His black overcoat whips around him in the horizontal rain. His exaggerated silhouette looks like that of a comic book superhero against the shimmering full moon. The satellite dangles above the oceanic vanishing point; its knowing grin smirks at the suggestion that there is, or ever has been, anything heroic about him.

He watches the relentless origami waves crush down and enfold on each other. Their calling echoes harvest buried memories, suppressed by countless years of therapy, coping strategies and medication.

The moonlight shrouds the landscape in luminous mercury pigment and highlights the tall grass, which looks like a million acupuncture needles on the malleable spine of the sand dunes. It rustles as if it’s alive and agitated, it shoals and jostles; it wants to say something forbidden.

It whispers his name, his real name.

A name he has not heard for three decades.

***

He is like a disembodied time traveller, sent to witness the grotesque events, but unable to intervene…

He is fourteen again.

The summer day has relinquished its ferocious heat to the clear, cool night sky. The moon is full, its glow echoes of a thousand tales of romance. The starry swirl looks like a smeared glitter lamp against the void of space and time.  The ocean smells of age, of time, and of a time before time.

He sees the shipwreck, jutting out of the sand like prehistoric avian carcass. Bleached curved bones reach skywards as if trying to claw their freedom from the sands.

She is lying inside. Her heart still beats for him. He approaches confidently. He performs the walk of a nervous actor playing a role.

“Pass me another beer, Josh, my knight in shining armour,” Jess says, her smile is pure, but hints of mischief.

He looks at her. He has thought about this night for months, but knows he has to be careful with the sand in his folk’s freshly stolen car.

“What’s taking you so long?” she calls.

“Nothing. Just wait. I’ll be there in a second.”

“How much alcohol did you steal from your parents?”

“All of it,” he shouts back into the wind, “we have every colour and flavour imaginable. I even have Poitín, good ol’ Irish moonshine.”

“Did you get the cigarettes?”

“Yep.”

“The firewood?”

“Of course.”

“Did you really push the car out of the drive and down the road before starting it?”

“Yep. And there is a pillow corpse in my bed, before you ask.”

He returns with the ice-cold beers. He builds the fire, and lights it. The pyrotechnic wigwam exhales sparks, that dance and swarm into the infinite night sky.

She rolls on her side to face him. Her eyes reflect the dancing flames of the fire, and in this light, she makes him feel like he has never felt before. Her freckles are more prominent after the long summer days, her hair more blond and her skin warmer in colour.

He wants her more than anything and yet he cannot describe how he feels. It feels like hunger or thirst, something primeval and unsettling.

“What are we doing, Jess?” he asks.

“This.” She pulls his hand across her stomach; it’s smooth, delicate and warming. Then she invites his hand elsewhere.

He stops her, “No.”

She looks at him confused, slightly saddened, almost hurt, “I thought this is what you…what we, both wanted.”

“Not yet. We’re too young. I want to…more than anything, but…” He thinks about his words carefully, “…our parents, they made the same mistakes. We’re better than that.”

She smiles, a smile of deep understanding.

She looks at the sea, “Did you bring a change of clothes?” she asks.

He smiles, “and towels and blankets. I’ve come well prepared.”

They talk about the beach, and the foxes and the rabbits playing in the dunes. They talk about anything; they talk about everything.

They finish their drinks, and the next ones, working their way through the garish coloured liquids.

They stagger into the water. The sharp, cold Atlantic takes their breath. The waves are high. Much higher than they seemed from the shore; but they are brave, young, and invincible.

The pull.

It takes her away. Out, towards the rocks. He sees it happen. He freezes in disbelief. Then it takes him. He realises he cannot help her. The current is strong, but he fights with every molecule in him.

He reaches the shoreline, coughing the stinging briny water from his lungs. He looks for her. Further up the coast he sees a shape.

The ocean has spat her out like discarded driftwood.

He runs. He cradles her. It’s too late. Her skin is already cold and devoid of colour. Her once blond hair is sticky and dark red. Freckles flecked with blood. Her head lolls limply and her eyes reach for distant places; eternal places that he cannot see.

He cries. He cries for her. He cries for them. He cries for a future neither of them will see.

***

It has taken him thirty years to come back to this place.

His wife has just given birth to their beautiful daughter. He feels he is undeserving of both of them. He came here to pay his respects, to have some closure, perhaps even to remember the beauty of summer one more time.

He sees the shipwreck, its bones decomposing with age. In the sand dunes, he hears the screams of rabbits and the bloodthirsty call of foxes, the game of prey and predator.

He thinks about the ocean and its immense power. It is the creator of continents, the destroyer of lands, the birthplace of life itself – yet it bows submissively beneath its master, the moon. Its sinister light and haunted gaze give nothing away. It looks shocked and in disbelief, but it knows everything.

It controls the ocean, yet it no longer has hold over him.

He wraps his overcoat tightly around him and strides headlong into the summer wind.


While the story had some lovely comments from the fantastic Flash! Friday community, it didn’t make it through to the final.

Because it deeply affected me during writing and afterwards, I decided to de-tox on by writing a second story. Something more lighthearted and fun (please see part 2).