Monthly Archives: January 2014

Two Wheels Bad

Today’s Flash! Friday prompt is to write 140-160 words based on this photo…

Bonnie's Car 

They rounded a corner too quickly, the money-bags slid to one side of the car, and the wheels came suddenly off their getaway plan.

Clyde got out and ran, but Bonnie was trapped by her seat-belt, which she always wore because that was the law.

A crowd gathered, as is customary at such an occurrence, the chance to poke fun at a lady driver. They informed her that driving was easier if you sat behind the steering-wheel, and Bonnie had no choice but to smile sweetly at them, having left her machine-gun in the trunk.

They all turned as the town policeman approached. Bonnie agreed with him that yes, driving was probably easier if you sat behind the steering-wheel, and he winked at her and went to call a tow-truck.

She had gotten away with it.

She wasn’t to know that the false number plate had slipped, and that he was in fact ringing for back-up.

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The picture is a Public Domain photo entitled “Car Wreck, ca 1920”

Match Point

Sharlana's Ghost

It was a baseline backhand that killed Sharlana Inglickova, when her trademark grunt finally caused her lungs to explode.

Still her ghost clings to life, believing that it owes her a second serve.

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The Trifecta Writing Challenge this week was to write 33 words inspired by the above photo.

The photo is by Thomas Leuthard, and is actually called “Studying in Starbucks”

Lives Of Quiet Desperation

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My name is Tinman, and I am an accountant.

Since there is no such organisation as Accountants Anonymous it’s unlikely I’ll ever have to sit in front of a sympathetic, gently nodding group of people and say those words, but if such a body is ever formed then I will probably be its first President, since I’ve been Anonymous about it my whole life.

I never wanted to be one, I don’t believe that I think like one and, although it’s not drug-dealing or gun-running, I am oddly ashamed to be one.

When I was seventeen, in the summer when I finished school and was awaiting the start of university, I got a summer job in an Accountancy Firm. The people were great, I’d have loved it anyway because it was my first job, and when my Leaving Cert results came out (I got a B in Accounts, though I’d never really bothered studying for it) I found myself doing Commerce instead of English and starting down the road to a life most ordinary.

The odd thing is that, after a couple of jobs, I ended up running my own accountancy business, and ran it very successfully for nineteen years, though when people asked me what I did I’d tell them I ran a book-keeping firm.

I can’t deny that I got a great buzz out of it sometimes, though mostly the buzz was from running the business itself, working out schedules that would enable me to get to each of my thirty-odd clients during the twenty-one or so working days of an average month. And as thirty clients became forty the schedule increasingly involved working Saturday, then expanded to working Sundays as well.

And in February 2001 it all fell apart.

It had begun a couple of months earlier, with a continuous ball of vague dread in the pit of my stomach, but on the day after Valentine’s Day I woke up shaking, and wasn’t able to face going in to work. I took some time off (though I had weekly wages to do for two factories, who would fax (sorry, younger readers, you’ll have to look that word up) their hours to me each week and I would fax back the payslips for each employee, and I did these during my break period by going into my office at night, so I wouldn’t have to face the phone ringing while I was there).

I should have given it up then, I was still young enough to train for something else, but I’d a very young family, the business and therefore the income was there, and so I shed some of my workload and kept going.

Then a client that I took on in 2002, originally just to do their payroll, gradually grew and grew, along with my involvement with them. They eventually asked would I join them full-time, so I closed my business and in January 2006 I came to work where I am now (just nine months later I had the first of the 17 blackouts that would eventually lead to me getting my pacemaker, so I was unable to drive during all of this time and my business would have fallen apart, so just because I’m doing something I don’t like doesn’t mean I haven’t been lucky sometimes while doing it).

I’ve been the accountant here ever since. When people ask what I do I tell them I work in the Accounts Department of a Software Company, trying to give the impression that I’m the person who sticks the stamps on the bills we send out.

On balance it’s been good. The work I did was important to the company, as our gradually increasing monthly profit meant that we could plan more expansion, seek new clients and create more jobs.

But now we’re very big, making a healthy profit every month, and whether that profit is up or down by a couple of thousand doesn’t really matter very much. Certainly not to me.

I don’t save the world. I don’t save a patient’s leg. I don’t even save penalties as a professional goalkeeper, though that may be because I’m only five foot five. A counsellor told me that our fifties is when many of look back at our working life, and wonder have we spent it doing anything meaningful. I look back at mine (and here I do mean just the working part, and not any of the rest of it, which has been pretty great), and am depressed at the sheer waste of time that it has been.

So the ball of dread is back. On the last few Sunday evenings I’ve felt physically ill at the thought that another five days of unimportant, meaningless work is in front of me.

Then yesterday I didn’t go in. Today either. 2001 is back.

My manager, my Division Head and I have been working at work (wait, this sentence isn’t over, otherwise it’s the ultimate in tautology) to create a new job for me, one that will let me do the parts of my job that do I think matter, such as the payroll, while someone new does, well, the accountancy. I am grateful to them for this, it shows that they value me, otherwise they would simply have let me leave, but this is obviously going to take a while, not least because they’ll have to persuade others that my invented-out-of-nowhere job will actually be of value to the company.

It’s the light at the end of the tunnel, but in the meantime I’ll just have to struggle along. I will go in tomorrow, because staying out any longer will ultimately make me feel worse, and I will win the battle, because I’ve won it before.

A friend I’ve told about it suggests that it might be a mid-life crisis. If it is I’ll certainly feel happier about the whole thing.

It would mean I’ll live to be a hundred-and-twelve.

To Caesar What Is Caesar’s

Caesar Septemberus

Augustus had been the latest of the Caesar brothers to go, following an accident involving a Roman candle and a trailing hem on his toga, so Caesar Septemberus, although originally only IXth in line to the throne, discovered that he’d been born destined to become Emperor of Rome.

He emerged from Caesars’ Palace, mounted the Plinth of Power, held aloft the Rod of Lightning and the Pigeon of Homing, then stared in astonishment at the empty square.

“There’s no-one coming,” said Nero from behind him. “I’m staging a coup.”

“Coo,” said Satnavus, the pigeon. They ignored him.

“The people won’t back you,” said Caesar. “They are loyal to me.”

Nero looked out at the square. “So I see,” he said.

“I will offer them bread, and circuses, and a really delicious salad that I invented myself,” said Caesar.

Nero shrugged. “I’ll offer them pizza,” he said. “They are Italian, remember.”

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The photo above was the prompt for this week’s Flash! Friday competition, and is “The Statue of the Republic @ the Court of Honor and Grand Basin”.

Six Today

Today marks another birthday in the Tinhouse.

There will be no cake, no candles and no presents. It’s not really that kind of birthday.

My pacemaker is six years old today.

It’s six years since they made me part android by inserting a small metal box into my chest, protecting forever me from the blackouts caused by my heart-rate dropping, and protecting forever me from the X-ray machine at airports (though this has condemned me to a lifetime of being patted down at airports instead).

It works happily away, 24/7, possibly singing “hi-ho, hi-ho” as it goes about its work. It probably does deserve a present, so perhaps I’ll stick my finger into a light-socket sometime today, just to give it a bit of a thrill.

It’s earned it. It’s keeping me alive.

A Pocketful Of Rye

Coinstacks

The King was in his counting-house, staring gloomily at the four small piles of florins that were all that remained of his once vast fortune.

The Queen was gone. Today had been the final straw.

She had stood loyally by his side as cutbacks had been made. The King’s throne had been replaced by a kitchen-chair with a book under one of its legs. The royal coach had been sold to a merchant who hired it out for stag-parties and hen-nights. The court jester had been replaced by a collection of humorously-shaped vegetables.

The palace guard had once numbered a hundred men, armed with swords and lances. Now the palace guard was precisely that – a single guard, armed with a frying pan.

The Queen had put up with all of that, but this morning their breakfast pie had been filled with blackbirds. They hadn’t even been cooked properly.

The Queen had taken one mouthful, then rushed off and thrown up in the garderobe, or possibly the wardrobe, she’d been in too much of a hurry to care which. She was now in The Parlour, the inn in the nearby village, eating bread and honey and chatting up men with large halberds.

The maid was gone too, after bizarrely being attacked by a blackbird in what was presumably an act of revenge.

It had all gone wrong because all royalty are related, which is why they have more fingers than toes. One of the King’s cousins was a Nigerian Prince, who had promised him a generous reward if the King would give him the keys of his counting-house so that the Prince could hide his money there from his enemies for a few days.

Well, blood is thicker than water, and sadly the King was thicker than both.

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The photo is the prompt for today’s Flash Frenzy contest, and is by Ashwin Rao.

Turning Turtle

Tiger and Turtle

Many things come about by mistake. The blow-torch, for example, was accidentally created by a very bad man trying to invent a flex-free hair-dryer.

Sorry, that should read a very bald man.

Six-year old Timmy was awaiting his turn at the top of the roller-coaster when he dropped his pet turtle. Those worried about Timmy’s happiness will be pleased to hear that his parents bought him an identical-looking turtle, since there is no other sort, and that Timmy is both content and gone from this story.

Like buttered toast, though, the turtle landed the wrong way up, but his screams of terror became squeals of joy as his built-in luge grabbed velocity by the reins and rode it as far as the wheel, where it whizzed him around and he catapulted into space, like a meteor breaking free of its orbit.

He bounced, rolled down the grassy hill, and went gleefully straight back for another go.

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The photo is a Public Domain Photo of Tiger and Turtle, Duisberg, Germany. It was the prompt for this week’s Flash! Friday competition, in which we’d to write 140 – 160 words, and mention either a tiger or a turtle …