the peculiar case of life’s irregularity

Safety was my number one priority. That was exactly why I’d have my helmet on my handlebar at the ready in the case of a worst case scenario like a car crashing into me or Gertrude, who sat 2 seats away from me in class, confessing her erratic love for me on a bike of her own. I devised that if I were to fall I would reach for the helmet’s straps and flip the helmet onto my head just before I crashed to my most untimely death, that I could only hope to miraculously survive. I had thought about this marvelous plan last night with Robert, my seatmate, and a penguin with the head of a Chihuahua, called Frank.

Unfortunately, out of the two cases mentioned it was exactly the latter that happened after school. Gertrude, with her insane smile, had a bunch of roses clasped in one hand, the other on the handlebar so that she could keep up with my frantic turns and circles through several streets to put her off. Apparently Robert thought it would be funny to give her a bouquet with a love letter and say they were from me. It went a little something like this:

Dear Gertrude,

Please come to my house at 9 and we will have a lovely fuck with candles lit everywhere on a bed of satin and silk.

Yours,

Alasdair

I did not want to have a lovely fuck with Gertrude. Robert brushed it off and said that I’d have the time of my life; perhaps her acne would start popping like popcorn from the overwhelming heat of the candles surrounding our “sexual territory”. I could only groan.

“How’d you get her to go away anyway?” he said, pitting the cigarette he had had in his mouth.

“I hid in the bushes and told her I wanted some time alone to have a good wank.”

I could sense the grin on his face now as he looked at the street in front of us. We were sitting at my porch.

“That’s it?”

“Yeah, she left and told me to have a good one.”

I preferred not to mention how Gertrude had actually jumped onto me from the side beforehand, making me stumble onto the pavement with our bikes clashing together. Sadly the helmet plan didn’t work, but the helmet did work as a good weapon to get her hands off my legs as I scrambled into the bushes. Telling her about my beastly need to wank in the midst of nature had gotten her to leave, but something told me that she’d still be at my door in less than ten minutes.

I looked at Robert who was now smoking his fifth cigarette. His eyes were boring into the wall of graffiti across, whilst mine were hysterically checking the trees. It would have been logical to run or hide under my bed covers, but we both knew all too well that it wouldn’t help. I took a quick gaze into the sky, then to the fence, and then to the neighbour’s gnome. Then I looked at him again, this time with a bit more calm. Something had clicked.

I slowly turned my head back, and Robert twitched in return. He exhaled, slowly shaking his head to himself with an ashamed grin that was quickly wiped away. He gave me one deadpan look, and told me it wouldn’t work.

*

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of darkest colours

I was expecting the cries and mourns, the black umbrellas and words of remorse. I expected women to be blowing their noses with tissue, grieving in hushed voices and struggled breaths, but it was nothing like that.

I’d entered the house and greeted everyone like it was a normal day on June, except this time they were eyeing me with a solemn look. My mouth was zipped a bit more than it usually was, and I found myself looking at the floor instead of the fifty or so people who had their eyes locked on us, my family.

My grandmother was hysteric. As tears poured out and as she cried out my father’s name in desperation, she held onto him like a toddler who had just lost her toy. A leg was wrapped around him like she wanted to be carried.

A child was yelling for his iPad in the midst of my father’s speech. Some were trying to take photos of the body. All I could hear was the repetitive sound of people low on their batteries, and their pre-set ringtones.

It was barbaric to me, but I knew about the suffering that both my grandfather and everyone else had gone through. The rest of the people didn’t matter to me. At least now it was over. At least now he was in peace.

above all others

Tuesday

11:00 PM

I hear the slam of two car doors. Shoes crunch against the small stones littering the ground, fuelling their angry minds. After half an hour, the door reopens and a rapid pair of footsteps skitter across the pavement. Then it’s another slam, and a quick shut of the house’s front door.

Wednesday

02:00 AM

3 bangs. Like something being hit against the wall. It echoes into the night like something ghastly, taking the colour out of an already dark summer night. Silence follows, and the lights have been turned off. I turn to face the wall and think twice about not using my blanket.

09:00 AM

The car is gone and all I can hear are the birds. The curtains are all closed.

14:00 PM

A different car pulls in at the front. The wind is trying to look for words, but all it can do is whisper. The trees begin to scratch at the edge of my house, as if trying to tell me something urgent.

I see the car wobble and the driver’s door opens. It is the daughter. She fiddles for keys and with a slight tremble to her step, she walks in, closing the door behind her.

14:30 PM

A scream fills the neighbourhood.

I am now running to the house. I bang on the door desperately, and finally she opens it. There is a phone in her hand and she is looking at me with fear in her eyes. Tears are pouring out. Thank God she is alive.

14:35 PM

2 police cars arrive. I wait in the background as the police discourse. The daughter is now sitting down, her face swollen and her eyes looking down. I feel uncomfortable and decide to leave the scene.

15:00 PM

The daughter has been taken to stay with her aunt. I am outside on the porch. There is a yellow plastic mess covering the house, and the neighbours have huddled up in their groups. Some are telling the police about the encounters they have had with him. Others are at a game of Chinese Whispers. I am in the distance alone.

15:10 PM

The guy who lives next to me comes up to me. He grumbles and complains about all the fuss. He begins to talk about how the value of all the houses will be decreased. “Why the fuck did that asshole need to kill her? I shouldn’t have to be paying for something he did.”

I look at him with dead eyes.

I return to my home.

connor’s notebook

Connor Edwards was perhaps the most erratic person that I had met in my life. With that sided awkward stride from the weight of a metal briefcase clasped in his right hand, Connor was fitted in a suit a size too big for him. While the rest of us were sporting trainers and a loose collar, he was in a dress shirt, tie, and polished shoes.

I’d like to say that he passed along the school grounds like an unknown presence – unseen and unheard, but that was the last thing he was. He would have his eyes fixed on the ground as he walked through the school corridor, perhaps refraining to run as the children all taunted him with the incomprehensible insults of 11 year olds. Though blatantly bad, it was hurtful for Connor either way, always causing him to suddenly excuse himself in class. He would run out with his briefcase clutched in his arms.

At break times, his eyes would dart around the playground as he sat in the corner, opening his briefcase. It was the only time he would. It was a true mystery as to what he really did during the breaks we had. There was a time when Tom – the obvious bully – tried to snatch the briefcase out of his lap. Instead it resulted with Tom getting his fingers stuck in between and Connor in the head teacher’s office, not that he had actually slammed the top down on Tom’s fingers like Tom had accused him of. Quite simply, what Connor did behind that casing was unknown to everything but the wall behind him.  That is until I approached him on that Tuesday morning.

“Connor,” I said, treading my feet on the asphalt. I was about a metre in front of him, but something told me there was a greater distance in between that. Or was it the nervousness getting to me? He took a glance at me and suddenly shut his eyes, scrunching them like he was thinking hard. He placed his fingers on his temples and started massaging them, his eyes still shut in contrast to his still open suitcase.

It took around a minute before he finally opened his eyes and said something back.

“Hello.”

I tried to give him the best of smiles, but I think it ended a bit crooked and scary instead. “What’s that you have in your briefcase?”

I was expecting Connor to retreat back to his strange mediation, but instead he gave me a warm smile and turned the briefcase so I could take a good look of what was inside.

There was a Polaroid camera and beside it a dozen blank films. There were another dozen with faded pictures of us. There was Robert picking his nose, Mary on the log, pointing her finger to some imaginary X to mark the spot, and then there was me with my friends inside our imaginary time machine. It was only then did I notice the notebook sprawled open with a pencil sitting in its spine.

“I’m documenting,” he said, answering the question that had just made a stop in my mind. “Do you want to see what I wrote about you?” Before I could answer he handed over the book.

I’m sure that at this moment, kids were sneering, trying to think of their next badly thought-out series of insults, but it didn’t matter at that point. I opened the book to a page with my name on it, and on it was written:

JONATHON REDFERN

Birthday: 19 September 1996

Always has a really big smile on his face
Likes to rip up tissue when he’s nervous 
Has his mum drop him off 20 metres from school so that he can walk in himself 
Brings glasses to school every day but never wears them

I gave a slight grin; Connor was observant. I decided to go through the other pages and stopped at Tom’s name.

TOM WHEATLEY

Birthday: 17th March 1996

Likes to pretend he’s chewing gum all the time
Takes my coat all the time and hides it behind the toilet
Tries to get all the other kids to make fun of me until I cry
Just really, really, really mean.

I let out a bit of a sigh, looking at the dried tears that had smudged some of the writing. “No one really likes Tom,” I said to Connor, hoping it would make him feel a bit better.

I was just about to finish flickering through when I stopped at a page that I found rather peculiar. There was a name, much like any other page, but that was exactly what it was: there was nothing but a name.

MR. PARKINSON

Of course, I knew Mr Parkinson. He was our P.E teacher. There was nothing mysterious about him at all. He was nice, friendly, smart, and that was exactly what I told Connor to write down. After all, it couldn’t have been that hard. Connor scrunched his eyes again and shook his head really fast. “He’s not like that. That’s not him.”

“But he’s really nice to us and we have lots of fun with him, don’t we?” I tried to look to find Mr Parkinson in the playground, playing football with the kids like he usually would, but he was nowhere to be seen. I looked back at Connor, who still had his eyes shut. It stayed like that for a couple of minutes, and even though I wished it had ended with an answer, it didn’t. The bell started to shrill, and Connor ran off ahead.

 

deck of cards

Vulnerable, needy, looking for attention. Lacks the social skills to even get the waiter’s. The man is focused on the menu. He wishes to leave and meet the girl waiting for him at the motel nearby. Over-dressed, over-confident, in his eyes someone who is too clever to be outsmarted. Clearly a rich bastard, easy to fool. 

It was the 1960’s: a fine time for the life of James Goodfellow. Sitting secluded at the table in the corner, he finished up the remainders of his meal, along with the last few pages of The Catcher in the Rye, a book worn out from repetitive reading. The two figures at table 9 continued to bore him as he observed. There really was nothing interesting about England.

31 years of nothing but simple tricks. Goodfellow was a man without a home, yet undeniably a man with riches. For never ending nights he’d be earning his share of dirty money and spending his Saturdays in the local bar, grabbing an extra 20. Knowledge and power was essential. The ability to charm and entertain was another.

*

All someone had to do was observe. Take a room, for example. You had seen and acknowledged it, but how many floor tiles did it have? How many steps did it take to walk to the other side? If you had done right, you’d know that the answers were 64 and 7.

So if you were to observe James Goodfellow well enough, you would see that his skin was tanned due to the various cities he had been to around the world. From the brown hair with its offset roots, you would be able to say that it was dyed. His blue eyes would show a sense of interest and suspicion. Then the pinstriped suit and shoes: clearly a man who knew how to present himself. Put it all together and you either had yourself a businessman or a conman. After that, all it took was a swift look at his wrists; there was no watch.

Created on the 9th September 2013.