This week's words: abandon, gradual, precise

Finding that tie was the last thing I'd expected. But I was even less prepared for Linda's reaction when I got into work. Maybe it had nothing to do with the tie. Maybe she'd had it in for me anyway. The tie had just proved to be a convenient excuse, setting into motion a chain of events which I still have difficulty understanding.

To be quite honest I'd been rather chuffed at finding the tie - a birthday present from my first girlfriend. I'd worn it at my first interview and got the job. Putting it on that morning I felt its magic was bound to rub off. Maybe Linda would at last say yes to that dinner engagement I'd been pestering her over.

In fact, she didn't say a word. She just stood there staring. And when I asked her to type some letters I'd dictated, she fled the office in tears. She still wasn't back when the personnel director phoned about an hour later. In her precise, telegraphic style she informed me Linda no longer wanted to work for me. She was being transferred to customer service. Now it was my turn to blow my top. That earned me a call from the managing director. If I couldn't learn to control my temper, then I could look for a new job elsewhere. I agreed and thanked him for handing me back my freedom, before I realised what I'd done.

I was out of the office before lunch. The personnel director wished me luck in finding a new place; probably suspected I'd come crawling back if I didn't. I shot over to the other side of town before deciding on anything to eat. Couldn't face the prospect of all those questions my now former colleagues just couldn't wait to ask.

So what happened, I hear you ask. I'm asking the very same question, staring into the bottom of my glass for the answer. I hope it comes soon, before I'm tempted to fill up again. I see Julie's reflection in there. The lopsided smile she had whenever she was pleased... like that day she gave me the tie; her eyes, round and black, always looking as if she couldn't quite trust me. And I'd proved her right. Only a coward would have abandoned her the way I did.

As I watched a gradual feeling of familiarity crept over me. I couldn't put a finger on it but it was almost as if I'd seen her somewhere recently. That, I knew to be impossible. They'd invited me to the funeral but I'd not been able face it.

I continued to stare, continued to wonder. The waitress passed once, twice... The third time I ordered another - a double. It would give me more time to think. In the end it stayed untouched on the table as the truth suddenly hit me between the eyes. Julie Wilson... a common name. So common, I'd not once connected her with Ms. Linda Wilson who had been my secretary for the past three months. What had Julie said... her sister had helped her pick the tie out.

This week's 3WW words are dread, grasp, pacify.

Dread never had any problems finding a victim. Today was no exception. The moment he saw the somewhat despondent looking man kiss his wife and set off bag in hand, Dread knew he had his catch. There was something about his stooping shoulders which told all. Following silently, he considered his opening move, deciding against a full-fronted attack. Today stealth was called for. A few reassuring words, an arm over the shoulder; just enough to prove his sincerity but far too weak to be of any real help. And once the seeds of doubt were sown, the rest would be child's play. Or so he thought but just as his spidery fingers reached for the jugular, he took a blow to the nose which sent him reeling. For the first time in months a victim had escaped him.

* * * * *

Luap tried his best to look the part as he set off down the street. His wife's words whirled around in his mind like the Mary Poppins carousel they had enjoyed together the previous night. It had been Hatti's treat, designed to take his mind off things. She had succeeded; for a while. Now, it was up to him to show her that her efforts were not in vain. Victory was in sight, but he alone could reach out and grasp it. No one else could help him. He tried his best to keep his head high but before long whisps of doubt began to tangle themselves around his person. He looked round but could see no one. He sat down as the cares began to overwhelm him. It seemed a lot easier than making a fight of things. But just as he was about to succumb Hatti's insistant words came back to him: "Never lie down, only victims lie down." He shot to his feet. And set off on his way again. As he did so, he couldn't help feeling he'd somehow toppled someone nearby. Yet, he was quite alone, of that he was sure.

* * * * *

Hatti couldn't help pacing back and forth in her kitchen. She thought she'd done enough to keep despondency at bay, but as she watched Luap shuffle down the road towards the station that morning, she saw the familiar figure of dread creep up behing him. The worst was that there was nothing she could do to help him. If only... She pulled herself up as she recognised her husband's favourite train of thought. "If only..." How often had she chided him for going down that path? The surest way of opening oneself up to Dread, that's what it was. How fortunate, Dread was not around. Her husband had been the decoy and now she knew he would make it through. All she had to do was wait for the phone call, wait to hear the pacifying words she no longer doubted would come that evening.


This week's Fiction Friday prompt is: A man aspiring to be a pro bowler loses to his young daughter. I'm afraid I know absolutely nothing about professional bowling so I've taken some liberties with this post, above all transporting it to the UK and the sport of lawn bowling. But the essence of the prompt is still there.

Friday afternoon in the park. The sun sat down on players and spectators alike. Thanks to the now experienced park-keeper and the early morning rain that day, the greens were immaculate. Everyone was looking forward to an excellent evening's bowling. Club championship. First round. 64 of the best bowlers in the club pitting their skills against each other. And for the first time a woman had made into first round. Ginetta had won the junior championship three years running. Last year she had also partnered the club captain to the final of the pairs, losing only to her grandfather and his long-standing bowling partner. Polite applause, the closest thing you'll get to enthusiasm in bowls, accompanied the arrival of the club secretary with the pairings. In his best monotone voice he read out the names, hesitating when he got to the fourth pairing:

"Mercetto Brintini..." He raised his eyes towards Mercetto before adding "... Ginetta Brintini."

Try as he might it took at least three minutes for order to be re-established. This was going to be the game of day. For years Mercetto had been after the club championship; ever since he had been seduced to leave their oldest rivals and come and join them it had eluded. Pairs, fours, mixed pairs... some several times. But never the championship. Never, that is, until the previous year. Fate had smiled on him that year. A storm had brought a postponement of the original date set for the final. The rearranged tie was fixed for the day of Mercetto's 60th birthday. The whole Brintini clan turned out to see him. His opponent had little choice. Win and get lynched or put a brave face on things.

Most people were convinced Mercetto would retire from championship bowls after that. He himself, had no such thoughts. He was the title holder, he was determined to defend his title. Walking towards their rink, a smile on his face, he proclaimed for all to hear:

"The chit will win the first two sets but then I'll wipe her off the green."

Ginetta herself, was delighted to be playing against her grandfather. She was a chip off the old block if ever there was one, but today it was her wisdom which shone through. She simply kept her mouth shut and let her bowling do the talking. Not that that had much to say mind you. Despite her father's best efforts she lost the first set badly. Her length had gone to pieces and she wasn't able to get any real draw on the woods. In the second she faired a little better but still lost, scoring just two points.

Mercetto was exasperated. He walked off the back of the rink and up to the club secretary who was refereeing their game.

"What did I tell you about letting girls into the championship. Girls were born to play girls. They have no business playing with us. They can't even win when you let them." And arms flaying he poured out a torrent of insults against his granddaughter. The referee stepped up and warned but Mercetto continued.

"Mercetto docked one point for misbehaviour," he announced.

"Mercetto docked one point... docked one point. You could dock me a hundred bloody points and I still couldn't lose. She doesn't know the first thing about bowling."

The referee stood his ground. Any more of this and he would disqualify Mercetto. Then he caught sight of the tears streaming down Ginetta's eyes. The girl was visibly shaken by the outburst but in her eyes he also saw the steely coldness of the Brindinis. She didn't need a knight in shining armour to come to her rescue. She could do that herself.

"Play on!" he called out.

Now it was Mercetto's turn to stutter. He lost the next set without winning a single point, before taking six straight points at the beginning of the next. With victory in sight, his smile came back but his bragging had stopped. Which was fortunate for him as Ginetta fought back and won 21 points in a row to take the set. And so the two locked horns for the final battle.

Ginetta took the early advantage and kept it by constantly changing the length of play. She knew her grandfather hated short lengths but by varying it, she stopped him from getting any regularity into his play. But Mercetto wasn't a champion for nothing and once he succeeded in gaining a pointed, played a series of long lengths and began picking up points. But his lead never extended itself to more than one or two points and when Ginetta took two points on a long jack which Mercetto had set up, they were locked at 19-19. What turned out to be the final rubber was fascinating. Ginetta had one wood to play with three woods were clustered around the jack To the onlookers it seemed as if one point, maybe two would go to Mercetto. But the decision would be a tough one and would probably require the measure. Ginetta stepped up to the mat wood in hand. She had two options. Thunder the wood down the rink and try and take out her grandfather's two or try and squeeze through the tiny gap and hope it ended near enough to give her the point. It was the final option she took and a gasp went up from the crowd as the wood drew through the gap coming to a stop just millimetres away from the jack. The point was hers, that much was obvious. The referee stooped measure in hand with Mercetto watching over his every move. But he couldn't fault him in the least. Her second wood must have been almost half a centimetre closer. Mercetto stalked away before the referee even had time to announce the result. Ginetta, a beaming smile on her face turned to acknowledge her grandfather but he was nowhere to be seen. The club captain came up and congratulated her, before leading the referee away into the office. Their deliberation was short and sweet.

The letter, informing Mercetto of his immediate suspension came as he himself was putting pen to paper to inform the secretary of his decision to resign.


It was meant to be the third and last time: a triangle of love and joy. Joel hobbled out onto the hotel terrace and looked at the fuming clouds above him. The film of feelings linking him to the behemoth churned away deep within. He saw his wife pulling him up that last little rock, his body vibrant with elation as the two stood on the summit holding his wooden leg high above his head. The repeat performance with his son, much harder with the passing years; the smiles and arms wound around each other as sang out the praises of the creator with all their heart. The music still hummed in his ears. And...

But no, no 'and'. That most cherished of pictures was the one that never was; almost replaced by the one most feared. Joel shuddered. His enthusiasm, her reticence.

"I want this more than anything else."

"I know Dad, but we want to get back down."

It had been a lucky escape. Just a few inches more... He turned his away eyes. As he went back into the room he saw her tranquil body asleep beneath the sheets and muttered a heartfelt thanks to that self-same creator.

It's been billed as the event of the century. 5 long years people have been waiting. Yet now that it's here, it's hard to know what the event really is. Everyone's talking about Thursday, but the real action - i.e. sitting back in my armchair, beer in hand, trying to decide why the man in the centre is not performing as well as he usually does - has long since died away by then.

Of course, we do all participate in the event itself; rushing into the station, pencil in hand, surprised at the long list of names someone thrusts into our hand. We can't be bothered to figure out who they all are. A quick X marks the spot and it's all over. Your own personal record - 27.85 seconds from start to finish, unless of course, you can't remember which name on that long list you really wanted to mark. As you leave the station, there's a somewhat anti-climactic feeling. But at least, you've participated and there's always the next time to look forward to... five years on.

That evening, once it's all over, the excitement mounts again, whipped up by media boys showing us how interest is down, but promising to get us all excited in whatever it was that didn't really interest us in the first place. But in spite of the promised excitement, you fall asleep in front of the T.V. and wake up to find those bloody ***s have won after all. So it's off to work to join your colleagues in the greatest slanging match the world has known.

The real event has begun.

Newer Posts Older Posts Home

Blogger Template by Blogcrowds