Friday, 21 January 2011

The Vanishing, and Other Stories

She reached into her apron pocket with a supercilious smile and vanished without so much as a puff of smoke.

I waited four hours for her return, before realizing she probably wasn’t coming back. Sadly I left the flat and headed for town. It was chippy Tuesday, after all.

My sister was confused when I rang to tell her.

“Wasn’t Poppy your imaginary friend when you were about six?”

Two glum looking police officers called round the next day. Apparently they didn’t think Poppy was imaginary. They reckoned I did something with her. Locked me up.

Eight years ago, now.

* * *

Harold was a goldfish who thought he was a dog.

His owner, Betty-Lou, encouraged the fantasy because she would really rather have had a dog than a fish. So she used to tie a lead around his bowl, place it on a skateboard, and walk him up and down the road.

The neighbours came round on several occasions to express assorted fish-dog concerns. Betty-Lou’s parents explained that she wanted a puppy, but they couldn’t afford to feed one.

Mrs Harrison ‘accidentally’ ran Harold over one day.

Betty-Lou ran away.

Finally, her parents bought a dog. They named him Harold.

* * * *

“Hoot hoot,” said Eric the owl.

“Shut the hell up,” replied Barry the tramp, shooting him with an air rifle stolen from a ten year old.

Eric the owl fell from his branch in a crumpled heap. ‘Flump,’ he went.

“That’s better,” said Barry the tramp, swigging from his bottle of methylated spirits and readjusting the layers of newspaper in his trousers.

Barry dreamt that night of an enormous owl in a Viking helmet, coming to kill him. He hated that dream, it always came before bad news.

The next day, his favourite bin exploded.

That’s karma for you.

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