Unravelling Twine

photo credit: Piyushgiri Revagar Centre via photopin (license)

I never knew my father. I recognised him of course, I’d see him every morning silently cutting up his bacon rashers and sausages before forking them into his mouth; while us kids bickered and fought using our cereal spoons as make-believe swords. Then in the evening he would be found hiding in the dark shadows of the living room while the rest of us hovered like a family of moths in adoration around the flickering light of the television screen.

The rest of the time he seemed invisible, apart from the odd glimpse of him sat on the old wooden bench in the shade of the crab apple tree at the bottom of the garden. Mum used to send him there as she hated the smell of his tobacco. There he would sit his pipe gripped between his teeth while his hands worked unravelling a twisted mess of green twine. He never seemed to unravel it, every time you saw him there he seemed to be, starting his own labour of Hercules anew.

I never found out what he was doing it for or if he ever finished, and now I’ve left it too late to ask him.

 

© 2017 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

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Waiting

Tayler climbed up on the zebra print sofa in the living room of his mum’s house, he was dressed up in his cowboy costume. Kneeling down he rested his elbows on the cushions and cupped his head in his hands as he looked out the rain spattered window. He looked out at the red and white balloons that had been attached to the posts in the front garden for his sixth birthday last Tuesday.

It was Sunday now the balloons had shrivelled up like his hands did if he spent too long in the bath, he watched as the strengthening wind dragged them along the ground on their strings. It made him think of Buzz the Doberman dog that belonged to Mr Riley who lived next door. Tayler sometimes went with Mr Riley to walk the dog round the Green, Mr Riley said that Buzz was dawdling when he had to pull at his lead to make him stop sniffing in the long grass. He was sure Mr Riley would laugh if he told him that Buzz was like an old balloon. Tayler liked hearing Mr Riley’s big mans’ laugh.

He had heard his Mum on the phone earlier, her voice had carried down the stairs as she shouted really loudly, she had used all the bad words that he knew you were not meant to say and he knew that she only shouted like that when she talked to his dad.

Tayler looked up at the clock it read half past eleven. Tayler knew how important it was to be able to tell the time, the judge had told them what time things were meant to happen on Sundays, and he knew as a lawman himself that you shouldn’t break the law.

Tayler was the sheriff now he had the costume on for his dad to see all he needed were the smoke signals of his dad’s exhaust.

Originally posted 17 May 2014

Fortune Hunter

Day 30 and to round off my review with another tale from On the Broken Road…

On the Broken Road

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She had silver in her hair and when I first saw her they had tied her to a tree and were mining their fortune from her as the metal, the equal of anything you would have found buried in the Mountains of Ahl, grew in shimmering waterfalls that flowed down her back.

I bartered with them for her eventually securing the bargain with aid of cold steel and leaving the five goblins dead, I fled the glade with my hard won prize.

I felt that I had traded the last halfpenny of my humanity in order to possess her.

© 2016 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

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Consorting with the Enemy

Day 27 of my review of the year and a little piece of fiction

Made of sticks and stones

photo credit: Lammyman Rita Hayworth via photopin (license) photo credit: Lammyman Rita Hayworth via photopin(license)

‘American girls are not like us.’ Violet said.

She stood at the mirror fixing the suspender to her new stockings.

‘My Davey wouldn’t like me consorting.’ Enid replied, ‘He warned me watch me’self with the Yanks.’

‘So they get a little fresh.’ said Violet, as she smoothed the silk down her leg ‘Wouldn’t be good for morale to say no, not after they’ve taken me to the pictures and everything.’

‘It just seems wrong.’

‘It’s only a kiss and a cuddle, poor ducks might die fighting Hitler tomorrow. I’m only doing my bit for the war effort sending them off with a smile on their faces.

‘Anyway what about your Davey? All alone in a strange port you can’t tell me he wouldn’t?’

‘All the nice girls like a sailor.’ I sang.

Violet smirked at my reflection in the mirror as she…

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How to Satisfy a Dragon

Day 2 of my review of the year and a tale about Dragons from my other blog – On the Broken Road

On the Broken Road

photo credit: Look into my eye via photopin (license) photo credit: Look into my eye via photopin(license)

Thomas stared directly into the eye of the dragon and the dragon stared back, unblinkingly at him.
Thomas knew he was responsible for his own predicament, as a long reptilian tongue snaked in through the open bedroom window – Thomas imagined the dragon’s tongue could taste his fear, the dragon salivating at the thought of eating Thomas down whole.
Because that was what the dragon had said “I like to taste their fear, it makes them so much juicier.” when Thomas had first summoned it and asked it to eat his stepmother.
Now as Thomas lay in bed his eiderdown pulled tight around him as the dragon’s tongue gently brushed his cheek. He realised that he should have made sure before he began whether one stepmother alone was enough to satisfy a dragon.

© 2015 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

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Consorting with the Enemy

photo credit: Lammyman Rita Hayworth via photopin (license)

photo credit: Lammyman Rita Hayworth via photopin (license)

‘American girls are not like us.’ Violet said.

She stood at the mirror fixing the suspender to her new stockings.

‘My Davey wouldn’t like me consorting.’ Enid replied, ‘He warned me watch me’self with the Yanks.’

‘So they get a little fresh.’ said Violet, as she smoothed the silk down her leg ‘Wouldn’t be good for morale to say no, not after they’ve taken me to the pictures and everything.’

‘It just seems wrong.’

‘It’s only a kiss and a cuddle, poor ducks might die fighting Hitler tomorrow. I’m only doing my bit for the war effort sending them off with a smile on their faces.

‘Anyway what about your Davey? All alone in a strange port you can’t tell me he wouldn’t?’

‘All the nice girls like a sailor.’ I sang.

Violet smirked at my reflection in the mirror as she paused in touching-up her scarlet lipstick.

‘Oh Mo, how could you. My Davey ‘e wouldn’t.’

‘Sorry Enid, we were just having a joke.’ I said, ‘We both know your Davey wouldn’t look at anyone else. Don’t we Violet?’

‘Mmm,’ Violet mumbled, ‘it’s not just the nice girls that like a sailor though.’

I didn’t think I would have been friends with Violet if we had not been billeted together. “All fur coat and no knickers” Mother would have called her, but she was at least a spot of colour amid the drabness, a welcome distraction from Enid’s moon-faced earnestness and constant talk of her Davey.

‘What do you find to write in that diary Mo?’ Violet asked, ‘Scribbling away all the time like the Daily Mirror, is any of it about me?’

Violet had stood back from the mirror to turn side to side and view herself from all angles.

‘Of course it is Violet,’ I replied, ‘every single word.’

Violet turned around to face us now, arms spread wide.

‘So girls how do I look, will I make old Winston proud?’

‘Ooo just like Rita Hayworth,’ Enid sighed, ‘my Davey took …’

Violet stood at the door, giving us a “V for Victory” sign before slamming the door shut behind her.

We listened to the sound of Violet’s feet as she descended the stairs.

‘I’ll bring you back some candy Ducks.’ She shouted, her voice echoing through the wall.

Enid grinned at me, the only thing she loved as much as her Davey was chocolate.

 

© 2016 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

 

This little story developed out of an exercise I did on a course I went to earlier this year. Combined with a snatch of conversation overheard in a coffee shop; while I don’t know what exactly the person I heard speaking thinks is different about American girls, I’ve left it to Violet to express her opinion on the subject.

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Bright Lights

I sat in the van as we waited underneath an oak tree by the side of the London bound A3 in the late afternoon sun for the charabanc and Malcolm’s car to appear. The van sat half in a ditch wheels caked in mud from the morning rain as the red and gold leaves of the oak drifted slowly to the ground around it. How we had lost them I could not say, having left Portsmouth in our usual convoy that morning heading for the Surrey Hills. I had been dozing in the passenger seat while Mack had been driving.

Now Mack prowled up and down on the verge chewing on the end of his cigar, his rotund figure a study in agitation. We had scenery to erect, costumes to lay out, fliers to distribute and Mack was eager to get to the Three Horseshoes, where we were staying, before last orders. Standing by the side of a road in rural Hampshire was not getting that done, but props, scenery and costumes were moot; if we had managed to lose the cast there would be no performance tomorrow. Mack shot me a consoling look for we both knew what Malcolm would say “Joshua you oaf.”

Malcolm was the guiding light of our little company as we wended our way around the grey highways of Post War England bringing Shakespeare to the great unwashed. “It was his mission” he said “just like my dear friends Larry and John to popularise the words of the Bard of Avon.” But Malcolm did not follow their exalted paths; his name was not destined to be up in lights. Rather it was found plastered on village noticeboards and lampposts declaring that “Malcolm Stanford-Leigh presents Shakespeare (abridged)” in the Parish halls and British Legions of the land.

I had applied to join the company as an actor, but Malcolm had been dismissive of my audition, a scene from Hamlet “far too provincial boy,” being more interested in my ability to drive a truck. This I had learned while in the army. I had been only eleven when the war ended but National Service and patriotic duty led me to spend two years with the British Army of the Rhine based in Westfalendamm near Dortmund, Germany.

Though as my Father had said, and he a man born to an Italian Father desperate to prove his own loyalty to Queen and Country, serving my country had turned me into a man. I had left a gangly youth, all strange angles and awkwardness. When I returned, I had grown gaining the muscle and bulk to compliment my dark Latin looks; though at twenty-two, I still lacked the adult confidence to match my physique.

This made me perfect as Malcolm’s factotum and general dogsbody. I was young and malleable enough to take his abuse. To move sets and costumes about, to be there first thing in the morning laying out scripts for rehearsals and last thing at night packing away props, long after the cast and Mack had retired to the pub.

I did it all for love of course. Just being around actors, watching from the wings, butterflies in my stomach prior to a performance was enough for me, well almost. Celia at least encouraged me and allowed me to help her with her lines. Celia was an exotic beauty, well as exotic as this lad from Gloucester had ever seen. She talked of Paris; of New York as places she had been to, but which to me were just a dream. As we shared long luscious kisses hidden from view amid the racks of costumes in the van our bodies pressed close together. Breathing in the heady scent of her French tobacco and exotic perfume, I dreamed I would one day get to travel to some of those places with her.

She was to play Third Witch in the production of Macbeth we were meant to perform the following night in the Village Hall, Thursley, as well as understudying Marion as Lady Macbeth. Marion was Malcolm’s amour, and the only one privileged enough to journey in his car with him. Their romance was an open secret, for in a closed society like our Company your private actions soon became public record. It was the only explanation for the parts she got for as Celia eloquently put it she was “A hatchet faced shrew with the dramatic range of a haddock.”

“Coach is here.” shouted Mack, as he banged urgently on the side of the van.

I must have fallen asleep for it was now fully dark, the reflection of the charabanc’s lights dazzled in the mirrors as it struggled up the hill behind us. The driver responded to Mack’s frantic gesturing as he waved his cheroot like a distress beacon and pulled to a halt behind us.

But where was Malcolm’s car. The cast, stiff from far too long sitting, emerged slowly from the interior of our rickety pre-war coach. The last to disembark being Marion on crutches, limping with her arm in a sling assisted by Celia who gave me a sly wink from beneath her tousled fringe of blonde curls. Malcolm was nowhere to be seen.

“Well?” Mack asked.

“A dog rang out in front of his car.” said Bernard, an elegant cove who was playing Duncan to Malcolm’s Macbeth, as he absentmindedly twirled the end of his RAF moustache “Dash bad show but the quacks have kept him in won’t be out before tomorrow pm. Without an understudy we have no Scottish play.”

Malcolm did not believe in an understudy for himself. He prided himself on never having missed a performance in twenty years, for him the show always went on. But with Malcolm’s abridgements baring only a passing resemblance to the source text. It left us in somewhat of a pickle.

Celia eyes sparkling piped up “Joe knows it, Joe knows all the parts and I know Lady Macbeth”

The company turned as one, all eyes upon me.

“Ahh” mused Bernard “but can you act my dear fellow?”

 

The agent Mr Gross who happened to be staying with a maiden aunt in Thursley, and found himself dragged along for an evening’s entertainment obviously felt that we could.

Malcolm, who had arrived during the second act, making a dramatic entry as Mack pushed him in in a wheelchair, had tried to take the credit and a pay-off for releasing us from our contracts. Mr Gross who recognised a shark when he saw one sent Malcolm packing and the last I saw of him was as Mack pushed him away his wheelchair squeaking ponderously.

The next morning both Celia and I found ourselves aboard a London bound train, taking the first tentative steps towards our respective fates. First step London, but then Paris, New York, Hollywood. Who knew?

© 2014 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

Originally Published 22 August 2014

Let Them Eat Cake!

For those who don’t know and for those who haven’t had a chance to visit it yet, I’ve now got a blog exclusively for short stories it is called On the Broken Road and here’s link to the latest story The King of Croak Hill

Hope you enjoy.

Masks

Day 25: Some fiction for you. If it all goes dark and I disappear after this post don’t blame me blame Microsoft – Windows 10 has hijacked my computer and decided to download itself.

Made of sticks and stones

(166 words)

photo credit: Club Fierce: Algorave (My Panda Shall Fly) via photopin (license) photo credit: Club Fierce: Algorave (My Panda Shall Fly) via photopin(license)

Domino took off her face and placed it in the box along with all the rest.
The thin membrane mask writhed sinuously. She had worn all of the twenty “faces for everyday life and all social occasions” now, and as she looked closely all the masks seemed to be malfunctioning to various degrees. Twenty sets of eyeholes stared sightlessly up at her from faces that seemed to exhibit everything from a nervous tic right up to snarls and violent spasms.
Even worse they were guaranteed to provide a “radical reinvention” of the wearer’s natural look but to Domino they just looked like her own face, just her face on a really bad day.
‘I’ll have to send them back.’ She said, to the reflection in the mirror ‘Otherwise that’s six months wages down the toilet.’
The…

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Surplus to requirements

And so to Day 9…

Made of sticks and stones

It was not when the self-service tills began to multiply. Not even when the postal drones made the mailman redundant or the robo-soldiers disarmed the troopers for their own protection did the humans realise they had a problem.

And even when Google and Apple replaced their chief execs with algorithms there was barely a raised eyebrow.

It was only after Politician 2.0 was elected President and began decommissioning us as units surplus to requirements did the human race start to wonder whether progress might not have gone a little far.

© 2015 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.

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