Communication

The one worthwhile lesson I ever learned from a management course was that if someone misunderstands something you’ve told them, the fault lies with you and you alone.

Communication is a skill, and one which we don’t value nearly highly enough. Show me any successful person in any walk of life and I’ll bet you a pound to a penny they’ll be a good, if not exceptional, communicator.

Effective communication is the meat and potatoes of leadership. There’s no point in having “vision”, whatever the fuck that means, unless you can make people understand it. To be truly outstanding you not only need to crack that, but to inspire too.

Business leaders, politicians, teachers, TV presenters, all of these people (and that’s a ridiculous subset that just came into my head) need fantastic communication skills to succeed.

What does that leave you with in middle management? People with ambition who can’t write an email to save their lives.

You know who else needs to communicate effectively? Writers. In fact writers are probably the single group most reliant on this skill. Of course, they know that (or at least the best ones do) and they practice, hone and develop their ability with words to a breathtaking level.

The reason I’m writing this now is that I read two blog posts today, one by a lady I have huge respect and admiration for, who is a massively talented and successful author. The other, also by a lady, also a writer, but not yet a successful one. The pieces were completely different in their subject matter and tone, yet both tried to describe something of their author’s inner selves.

As I read the second, I found myself comparing it to the first not in terms of the prose but in how easily I understood their messages.

Yes, the professional writer’s work was cleaner and better punctuated, all the words were correct and used the proper tense or pluralisation – all the things that smack of an eye drilled in self-editing through years of hard graft, but that wasn’t it, or at least not it entirely.

Her writing was – is ALWAYS – like looking through a pane of crystal glass into her mind. Her prose is terrific, yes, but not what I’d call literary. Words are her tools and she uses them like a watchmaker, piecing together precisely the right ones to get her message across. Just those and no more. It’s her clarity of thought that’s amazing, together with her ability to introduce the reader to those thoughts with nothing in the way.

The second piece, while nicely written and poignant, was still just a piece of writing on a screen. It didn’t allow me easily past that. I got the message but it took effort, and that’s communication with room for improvement.

You’ll often hear writers, agents and publishers talk about “spare” writing, about removing any and all superfluous words. I’m sure many people, me included, take that simply to mean cutting down on the verbiage. I think I’ve (finally) come to realise that reducing the word count isn’t the end goal, though. What they’re really talking about is polishing the message, of making the writing so clear that reading it is like seeing the author’s thoughts through that pane of crystal glass.

It’s a very good lesson, even if you have to learn it twice.

Debbie Buzz Dallas

It had been a month since the last cleaning and life within the silo was just about getting back to normal. The gardeners who ran hydroponics rarely got excited about much anyway, so things had calmed down on fifty-six within a fortnight. Billy was even calmer than most, as head bee keeper it paid to be pretty level-headed. The girls were particularly frisky today and Rikard, Billy’s shadow, had taken a day’s leave, so there’d be no-one to raise the alarm if Billy got it wrong and set the bees a-swarming.

It was okay, though, Billy was used to this. He’d been tending the hives for more than a quarter century, back when Mayor Jahns was just plain Marie. He’d known her then, briefly; they’d been at school together for a year before her parents had moved up to the twenties. She’d been nice, as he remembered. He’d been glad when she got the top job, and she’d run things well since.

Billy puffed smoke from his canister around the hive and gently waved off a few of the workers before lifting the frames out one by one to inspect them. He replaced the frames carefully, trying hard not to squash any of the furry little bodies that worked so hard for him and the rest of the silo. The whole process took about twenty minutes. Once he’d finished, he moved on to the next hive.  There were thirty hives in all, positioned around the edges of the farm. Plenty of work for an entire day without Rikard around.

He spoke to the bees as he went, little familiar mutterings more force of habit than anything. Bee keeping wasn’t the most social of jobs; the protective clothing seemed to remain on even when he took it off at the end of each day, warding other people away in the evenings just as it did the bees during the days. Billy was an uncomplicated man who did not much enjoy the frantic gossip the rest of the silo seemed to thrive on. He much preferred to be left to himself, a desire the rest of the gardeners seemed more than happy to oblige him in.

He was getting through his supper that evening when an excited Rikard came bounding over to him in the canteen. That was most unlike the young shadow, who Billy had chosen for his own calmness.

“Billy, Billy, you’ve gotta see this!” Rikard babbled, pulling a chair up next to the old man.

“Where’s the fire, youngster?” said Billy with a sigh, only then noticing the woman – a girl really – who had come in behind Rikard. She was tall and looked a little anxious. She wore the white coveralls of the botanical science level a couple up.

“Billy, this is great, Miranda’s got this, oh, this is Miranda by the way,” Rikard just couldn’t stop babbling. Billy looked up at Miranda who had remained standing. He rolled his eyes and indicated she should sit. She was carrying a black plastic box and laid it on the table before sitting opposite him.

“Miranda, is it?” Billy said. She smiled shyly. “And you’ve got something to show me?”

“Yes, hi Billy, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Rikard’s told me all about you.”

Billy flashed his shadow a look that said we’ll talk about this later and turned his attention to the box, which turned out to be a sort of case that Miranda was opening and hinging away from herself. She spun it around so that it faced Billy and he saw that its top half was some sort of screen while its bottom half consisted mostly of buttons.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“It’s a portable computer,” Miranda explained. “We use them to view data on the subjects we’re studying.”

“Oh, gotcha, I understand,” Billy lied.

“Miranda’s been studying bees!” said Rikard, more excited than a child on its birthday.

“Studying…?” said Billy. He didn’t have much truck with science.

“Yes,” said Miranda. “Their mating habits actually. Here, watch this.”

She reached over the screen and jabbed a few of the computer’s buttons. An image slowly resolved itself on the screen. Billy watched it for a moment, frowning.

“Is that a…?” he said.

“A queen bee? Yes,” said Miranda, smiling broadly at him.

“And that’s other one is?”

“A drone.”

Billy pursed his lips. The drone was hanging underneath the massive form of the queen. Both bees were kind of… pulsing.

“What’re they doing?” Billy said, already dreading the answer.

“They’re mating,” said Miranda.

“Isn’t that incredible?” said Rikard, smiling just as widely as the scientist. Billy sat back in his chair and looked between the two of them.

“I think,” he said, slowly, “that the two of you should be ashamed of yourselves.” Shock registered on their faces. “To think,” he went on. “Watching filth like this… do your parents know this is what you do by way of work young lady?”

Miranda blushed aubergine.

“My father is a very important—“ she began but Billy waved her off.

“No,” he said, “I’ve heard enough.” He got up and skirted the table. “I will bid you good day, ma’am. You,” he pointed a bony finger at Rikard, “I expect hives one through ten to be fully inspected when I arrive at eight tomorrow morning.”

The boy’s shoulders sagged.

“But Billy,” he whined, to no avail. Billy’s face was stone. He’d completely lost his appetite. Such filth. What was the world coming to? He treated the pair of them to one last glare, turned his back and left them to their sordid entertainment.

——————————-

Yes, this one’s an homage to Hugh Howey’s rather wonderful Wool novel. I hope it doesn’t breach any copyrights and I certainly don’t mean it to be anything other than a story that happens to exist in his world. I’m right in the middle of the last part of Wool myself (it’s a cracking read) and it was the first (and only) thing to come to mind when I got the “silo” setting.

This may actually be the last of these silly stories as I might end up travelling down to my Mum’s tomorrow rather than Tuesday, so my novel plotting work may jump forward a day. However, I’ve enjoyed doing them quite a lot, so my intention is to continue with them, but drop the frequency down to one per week (probably on a Sunday). We’ll leave it there for now and see how things go.

Thanks for reading, please do leave any comments you may have and take it easy.

Cheers,

 

GBN

The King Who Went up a Mountain

“How far to the summit, Jeffers?”

“Another thousand metres, your Majesty. With luck, we’ll be there in time for supper.”

The king smiled at his loyal servant. Jeffers had been with him for thirty years, through thick and thin and, despite both mens’ advancing years, had barely batted an eyelid when the king had declared his wish to climb Everest.

He’d had a speech prepared, he remembered, and it had covered every angle. By turns evocative, aggressive, chastising and inspirational, he had written it to press every one of Jeffers’ buttons. He was still quite put out that he’d never got to deliver the thing, his valet agreeing to the venture on the spot, as soon as the subject was raised. It had rather dampened the king’s powder.

The tide of churlish anger receded as he stared about himself though, witnessing the true majesty of mother nature unbound. The view was magnificent, the mountain awesome. It was a sight that he’d never grow tired of, one that would stay with him to the end of his days. He breathed the thin air deeply, but then—

“Was that you, Jeffers?” he said, frowning.

“I beg your pardon, your Majesty?”

“That beeping noise. Was it you? Or rather was it something you are carrying?” The king was perplexed.

“No, sir,” said the valet, equally puzzled. “I am carrying nothing that beeps, nor did I hear anything.”

The king scowled around at the team of sherpas accompanying them.

“Must’ve been one of these chaps,” he said. “Damn odd noise to hear up a mountain, what?”

“Indeed, your Majesty.” Said Jeffers.

They trudged on for a while, each man lost in his own thoughts, until—

“There it was again, man,” the king exclaimed. “Don’t tell me you didn’t hear it that time?”

“I’m sorry, sir, but I did not. I will contrive to unblock my ears forthwith.”

The king barked a laugh, but was troubled by this beeping. Surely if he were going to experience altitude sickness it would have happened much earlier in the climb. What time had they started, eight AM? No, that couldn’t be right, surely. It took much longer than eight and a half hours to climb mount Everest. Didn’t it? The king was not completely sure. Amazing weather they were having, though. Perhaps that had a lot to do with the time they were making. Beautiful blue sky.

The king heard the beep again. He narrowed his eyes at the back of Jeffers’ head, but the man made no sign that he’d heard anything. Most vexing. Was that the summit up ahead? There didn’t seem to be anything more to climb. Glorious. The king felt a profound sense of peace.

————————————

“Has he gone?”

“Not quite yet, your highness,” said the doctor. “Soon.”

The young prince clenched his teeth and screwed his eyes shut, willing the tears away. He looked at his father, pale and diminished in the hospital bed, hooked up to tubes and wires, morphine dripping into him, slow and steady, like honey from a spoon.

It wasn’t fair that the old goat was leaving him, wasn’t fair he’d been ripped from his subjects by the disease. Wasn’t fair that he, Prince Henry, would have to give up his carefree lifestyle and run this godforsaken country. A lot of things weren’t fair.

The prince pulled a chair closer to the bed, sat down and held his father’s hand. He wouldn’t let go now, not until the end.

——————————————–

Forgot to mention yesterday – today’s story featured a King, mount Everest and a character with less than 24 hours to live. Rather redundant to state that now, but there we are. Thanks to my wonderful wife for pointing me in the right direction with the plot for this as I was floundering.

And I’m getting better at keeping the word count down! The quality on the other hand… meh.

Tomorrow’s penultimate flight of fancy Will feature a bee keeper, a silo and a character seeing a friend or relative in an adult film. Oh my.

Cheers,

 

GBN

Sir Gawain and the Green Baize

By three A.M. only one player remained at the table. He was what Jamelia thought of as an older gent. You didn’t get many of that sort in these days; too much new money and not enough interest from their generation. The fruit machines, TV screens and hard sell had driven them off. Not this guy, though. He was a trim five-eleven, beautifully dressed and well spoken. His hair was white and recently cut and his nails were manicured. His shoes, Jamelia had noticed, looked handmade. This was a man used to not worrying where his next meal was coming from.
 

He had been steadily drinking malt whiskey since ten but without any visible effect. He was courteous, he was charming and he seemed to have an inexhaustable supply of fifty pound notes to convert into chips. Jamelia liked him, so she wasn’t using her ability. Much.

 

“I’ll take two, if I may,” he said in his delicious upper-class drawl. He was, like, four decades too old for her but Jamelia couldn’t help finding him attractive. She passed him two cards.

 
“Dealer takes three,” she said. He smiled at her. She checked her hand. She’d had a pair of twos but had picked up a third off the trade. Strictly speaking, she shouldn’t be playing draw poker but there was no-one else around. The old gent had asked so politely, and she enjoyed the game so what the hell? He was still paying, after all.
 
He was studying her across the table, his eyes twinkling like distant stars.
 
“Bet twenty,” he said.
 
“Good hand?” Jamelia asked. He nodded. She felt the familiar chill tingle in her left forearm, just where they’d inserted the plate when she’d broken it at thirteen. He was lying.
 
“Ok, I’ll see that and raise you another twenty.”
 
His eyebrows went up. He looked at his cards for a long ten seconds, then passed them across to her, face down.
 
“Fold,” he said, so mournfully it made her chuckle.
 
“Don’t be so sad,” she said, “you’re not doing so badly for an old guy.”
 
That made him laugh.
 
“So, what’s your name?” she said as he called the waiter over for a refill on his Scotch. 
 
“They call me Ken,” he replied. “Ken Bingsley.”
 
She had to stifle another laugh. “Bingsley?” she said, “Where on Earth does that come from?”
 
“Oh, it’s a very old name,” said Ken, nodding thanks to the waiter. “I come from a long line of Bingsleys.”
 
Jamelia’s arm tingled again. He was making fun of her. No, not of her, perhaps, just entertaining himself. There didn’t seem to be any malice in him.
 
“And as for doing well,” he said, “I appear to have transferred a little under two thousand pounds into your ownership so far this evening.”
 
Jamelia had the grace to look a little sheepish.
 
“Shall we round it up, do you think?” he said, grinning broadly.
 
They chatted and played a few more hands. She let him win two to keep him interested.
 
“Tell me something,” said Ken. “How is it you win so often?”
 
“Luck?” she offered. He shook his head.
 
“No, I’d venture it is rather more than that,” he said. She considered him for a moment. Where was the harm?
 
“Ok, I’ll let you into a secret,” she said. “I can tell when someone’s lying.”
 
She expected him to burst out laughing, call her a liar or even demand a refund, but he did none of those things, just looked at her thoughtfully and re-stacked his chips over and over.
 
“Interesting,” he said. “I wondered if it were something of that ilk.” She loved the way he spoke. “As you have been so open and trusting with me, might I share a secret of my own?”
 
Jamelia was intrigued. She nodded.
 
“My name is not just Ken, it is Sir Kenneth,” he said.
 
“You’ve met the Queen?” She asked. He nodded. Jamelia pursed her lips.
 
“I told you I’d know when you’re lying,” she said, flatly. “I wasn’t joking.” He applauded gently, which should have made her even more irate – he had to be mocking her this time, surely? Yet everything about him was so sincere that her anger died.
 
“Bravo,” he said. “You are correct. I have not met this current queen. My true name is Gawain, and Arthur was the monarch who beknighted me.”
 
Jamelia laughed again, suddenly and from the pit of her stomach. Then she stopped and looked him right in the eye. Her arm wasn’t tingling at all. 

Ham Cassoulet Hill

Mercel gripped his worktop as another shell rocked the building. Dust dripped like rain around the sides of the kitchen, the food preparation areas protected by stainless steel sheeting.

“Don’t you worry, chérie,” he said, soothingly, “this battle, he will all be over soon.” He absently stroked the handle of his knife and went back to chopping carrots for the day’s stew.

P Company HQ had been under sustained attack for three days, the rebel insurgents held at bay by the Conglomerate’s superior weaponry and training together with the heavy fortifications the HQ boasted. All that couldn’t stop them firing rocket-propelled mortars at what was an easy target, though. The walls and roof were four feet thick and steel reinforced, though. Nothing was getting through. Another shell hit, a little further off this time, and Mercel cursed.

On the plus side, the attack meant he had his kitchen to himself. Well, just himself and Clara, anyway. None of the garrisonned soldiers had the free time to come down and bother him as they did when they were idle. No shouts of ‘hey, Frenchie!’ Or ‘mange tout, mange tout’ from those ignorant English pricks. The Americans weren’t so bad, but even they looked down their superior noses at him. Since the Pact had been signed, though, it was all much of a muchness. He was a second class citizen. Still, he’d rather be inside these walls than outside.

And he got to spend time with Clara.

“What shall we do when this is all over, eh, ma chérie?” He wondered aloud. “Maybe a small chateau in the Dordogne?”

Clara remained silent. She’d been like this since the attack began, whether it was some sort of shock he didn’t know. As long as she was there with him he didn’t care.

The carrots went into the huge vats and, just as he started on the celery, all the lights went off. Mercel froze. A moment later, the red emergency lighting flickered on and a calm female voice announced, “Location breach detected. All operational personnel to stations. Location breach detected.”

They were inside? “Cést impossible!” Mercel said, forgetting himself and slipping into French. Conflicting thoughts flashed through his mind. A flush of excitement that his countrymen refused to accept their servitude and were making headway in their struggle, chased by the certain knowledge that to them he’d just be another Conglomerate employee and therefore a target. If they did realise he was French things would be much, much worse.

Sounds of shouting and gunfire came to him through the large double doors. They were close! He had been assured that this position was impregnable, that he was in no danger. Mercel made for the rear doors but stopped short. Heavy blast doors were closing behind them, trapping him with the attackers. Of course, he’d been lied to. This forward section of the complex was merely a crumple zone, designed to wear any insurgents down before they reached the important areas. He eyed the sprinklers in the ceiling suspiciously. Did they deliver only water? What other deadly traps might his kitchen hide?

“Clara, we must hide!” He yelled, going back to his workstation. He grabbed the large knife that moments before had chopped vegetables, and slid down to a crouch beside the unit. The sounds of fighting were getting closer. Mercel wondered who had been stationed at the entrance checkpoints. Probably French and Spanish Initiates; turncoats and traitors as far as the rebels were concerned, designed to drive them into a fury, make them reckless, ignore the trap.

The firing outside stopped. Mercel held his breath. He looked down at the knife in his hand, at his reflection in the blade.

“Ah, I’m so sorry Chérie, it looks like we are not to be,” he murmured. “Please understand, it is not you. It is not me, either.” The kitchen door banged open and the sound of booted feet approached his hiding place.

“It is, Clara, simply a case of you or me, and in this I must be selfish.”

Mercel stood quickly and buried the knife to the hilt in the first soldier’s chest, taking hold of his gun as he fell. The next two were too slow and Mercel mowed them down where they stood. The rest of the invaders fell back through the door as Mercel ducked back behind the kitchen unit. He stared at Clara’s handle, suddenly ugly, defaced by the soldier’s blood. Without her, there was nothing left for him. Mercel took a deep breath and stepped back out into the aisle.

——————–

Tomorrow’s silliness will feature a knight, a casino and a character who can tell when a person is lying. Hmm.

The Jeweller in the Crowd

“That will be three dollars and ten cents, sir,” said the barista. Joe frowned.

“Over three bucks for a cup of coffee?” he said, not wanting to believe it.

“And the sugar, sir.” The barista beamed at him.

“You’re charging me for the sugar?”

“Yes, sir. Ten cents. It’s bad for you, you see.”

Joe gritted his teeth. Today was the day that just kept on giving. His morning had been spent chasing very wealthy clients who never paid their fucking bills on time and giving his small staff the performance reviews they somehow felt were their right. He’d worked through lunch, been shouted at by a classless nouveau riche who wanted a ring just like some reality TV ‘star’ he’d never heard of and was now being charged more than three goddamned dollars for some pressurised hot water and a sachet of sugar. He breathed deeply and reached for his wallet. He was a craftsman for Christ’s sake. An artist. He hadn’t picked a tool or worked metal in days and it was making him spiteful.

He patted the right-hand rear pocket of his jeans, where he always kept his wallet. It was empty. He reached around awkwardly and tried the left with no better result. Panicked, he patted his jacket but the wallet entirely failed at being inside it. Joe attempted a smile towards the Barista, but it came out as more of a snarl.

“Seem to have lost my wallet,” he said, casting about on the floor for the thing.

“Oh dear,” said the barista, fixing her face into an expression of concern. “Unfortunately, all drinks must be paid for.” She tapped at a little sign at the front of the counter.

“Get a move on, buddy,” someone shouted from further back in the queue. Joe’s cheeks burned. His eyes kept on going over the same patch of floor, the joker behind him kept on making cracks. The barista’s finger kept on tapping that sign, her bubblegum pink nail polish cracked and chipped.

When he reflected later, Joe realised it was the state of her nails that did it. How could anyone working in a service industry take that little care over their appearance.

“Everybody get down!” he yelled, pulling the gun from the waistband of his trousers. There was a split second where no-one seemed sure how to react, so he shot the idiot with the big mouth right in the chest. That got people moving.

Before he could assume total control, a few customers had scrambled out of the door and away. Let them run. He strode quickly to the door, dragged it shut and flicked the little locks at the top and bottom shut. Amazing how many people didn’t notice those. He waved the gun around vaguely.

“Anyone else want to get shot?” he demanded. There was general whimpering. Joe took stock. There were three people in the queue, including the guy he’d shot who was making wet gasping sounds on the floor, cradled in the arms of a woman who was crying. His wife? Joe’s resolve momentarily wavered. No, he’d chosen this course, somehow, and he was damn well going through with it. On top of everything else today, some bastard had stolen his wallet. The world was going to pay.

So, three in the queue, two behind the counter and another four sitting at tables, including – oh God – a girl of about ten. He swallowed hard.

“Everyone over by the counter,” he said, herding them by flicking the gun. He’d started carrying it after the third time his shop had been robbed. He had a license to carry a concealed weapon and everything. He was glad he hadn’t put it in the safe as he usually did when he came out for coffee.

Moving uncertainly, their eyes never leaving him, the customers and staff all drew round in front of the counter. He left the woman holding what now seemed to be her husband’s corpse; she wasn’t going to be any trouble.

“On your knees,” he ordered. Alarm showed in their eyes. The woman with the little girl shielded her with her own body. How many bullets did he have? Twelve? He kept the thing fully loaded. It would be enough.

“There’s just too much bullshit in the world today,” he said, intending to speak at length about the injustices he’d suffered, but suddenly unable to get the words out. “And then my wallet,” he finished, lamely. “Some bastard stole my wallet.”

Joe raised his arm.

“Drop the weapon, sir!” yelled a voice from outside. Joe looked over his shoulder. Three policemen were lined up, their own guns trained on him through the large windows. He gritted his teeth again and turned back to his hostages.

“Mister?” said the little girl, her pretty face poking out from behind the bulk of her mother. “Mister? Is that your wallet?” She was pointing towards the table nearest the door. Joe looked down. There, underneath it, was a wallet. It was his.

———————————————

I actually got a bit excited writing that – I wasn’t sure what was going to happen! Weird. Anyway, for anyone still with me, tomorrow’s tale will feature a chef, a battlefield and two characters falling into forbidden love…

Church of the Poison Monkey

“I think you know why I’ve called you in here, Agnes,” said Father Dawson, not unkindly. Agnes, so short she could barely see over the tabletop from her plain wooden chair, looked rather confused.

“I’m sorry, Father, I don’t” she said.

The entire situation was awkward enough for the priest without Agnes playing dumb. He sighed. It had not been a good week. Some local toe-rags had been stealing lead off the roof again, the church organ needed an expensive overhaul and now, on his birthday of all days, this.

“It’s about your doll, Agnes,” he said, indicating the fluffy monkey figurine he’d positioned on the table before Agnes arrived.

“Oh, Timmy!” said Agnes, “I wondered where he’d got to.” She beamed at Father Dawson like a schoolgirl who’d come top of the class, though she must be well into her eighties by now.

“Yes, Timmy,” said the priest, pacing around the small, spartan office. “There have been complaints.”

“About Timmy?” said Agnes, “I don’t understand. He’s a lovely, cheeky little chap. One of my grand-daughters gave him to me when she came back from Brighton. I can’t think which one it was, though. It’ll come to me in a minute.”

“Agnes, who gave it to you is not really important at the moment, though you might want to have a word with her parents when you do remember. What we must focus on is the reputation of this church.” Father Dawson’s temper was rising. He tried to force his anger down. Agnes was a sweet old thing who’d served the parish diligently for over sixty years. She deserved better than to be scolded by the likes of him. Nonetheless.

“Father, you’re not making any sense,” she begged. “Who is it that’s complained?”

“There have been too many to count, dear lady,” he said, exasperated. “The final straw were the parents of every one of the choristers after the service this morning.”

“Well, that sounds a bit prudish to me,” said Agnes. “Who are they to make a fuss of a mascot on an organ stool?”

He had some sympathy for her on that point. It was only because Agnes was so short that the stool had to be raised up to a height that was clearly visible to the congregation in the small stone chapel. Had she been of normal height, Father Dawson would probably have been the only person to have witnessed her crime.

“It’s not just the display, Agnes,” he said gently.

“What then? Is it because he’s sticking his tongue out?” Agnes was in full-on belligerent old lady mode now and it was taking all of Father Dawson’s courage not to buckle under her glare. He had righteous indignation on his side, though.

“Agnes,” he explained, as if to a child, “the monkey is… anatomically correct.” He pointed at the doll. Agnes stared.

“That’s his banana,” she said flatly. Father Dawson grimaced.

“It’s pink, Agnes,” he said.

There was silence.

Father Dawson stared at the table, Agnes stared at Timmy, her lips pursed. Timmy stared back.

“Tell ‘im to fuck off,” said Timmy, in a voice that only Agnes heard.

She did.

Father Dawson made a sound somewhere between a gasp and a whimper.

“I’m sorry, Agnes,” he said when he’d gained sufficient control. “I’m going to have to let you go. I shall… pray for you.”

“Get bent, padre,” Agnes replied, clambering onto the table to retrieve Timmy. She poked her tongue out at the bewildered priest and stalked out of the chapel, never to be seen again.

———————————————–

That one gets a dedication to my old (old) friend Disco Stu who has his own special day beginning in 45 minutes. I’m hoping you don’t read this until the morning mate and, if you do, you’ve basically unwrapped your present early. Never did have any patience.

It’s Football Match Report Day tomorrow, so this nonsense will return on Wednesday with A Jeweller in Starbucks when someone finds a wallet. Blimey, that promises to be a thriller!

Cheers,

 

GBN


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