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Category Archives: fiction

Kebab – A Short Story About Sally

Sally was dying for a kebab, quite literally. Her feet had doubled in size from the cholesterol build up in her veins and there seemed to be a constant thin yellow glaze of sweat across her brow. It was a Sunday night and she and Steve had usually phoned for some cheap take away by now, they had a kitchen drawer dedicated to well thumbed menus of cheap culinary delights. But on Friday she had been forced to use her phone credit calling the dole office to beg for emergency funding and disability benefit. ‘Shit’ she thought and turned to Steve. Steve had passed out on the sofa twenty minutes ago from a concoction of weed and whiskey, dropping fag ash over the cushion and snorting like a pig. She always marvelled how he would clutch a bottle of cheap whiskey like a beloved child but could burn down the house around him when lit cigarettes dribbled out of his mouth. She kicked him hard on the sole of his worn out trainer and the vibrations caused his arse to release the remnants of a dead animal’s soul into the air. Gagging, she squeezed herself out of her chair with all the grace of the Michelin tyre man skidding on oil. She grunted and pushed herself up with her pasty mottled bare hands. The engagement ring Steve bought for her in 2004 had to get cut neatly in two by the hospital last year, she’d lost circulation in her finger from the swelling and her nail had turned black and peeled off. Steve said he’d fix it but came back later in the day pissed with a six pack hanging from his thumb and a guaranteed tip on the outsider in the 4 o’clock race. The horse fell at the first hurdle.

Sally groped her way to the kitchen, her flip flops forcing sweaty mulching sounds as she went. She reached for the bread bin on the kitchen side and took out the money they had saved for rent, it would just have to be late again. She knew the bailiffs from the pub anyway so they never gave her much grief about the arrears. She grabbed her coat from the floor, squeezed into it and slammed the door behind her. The kebab shop was only five minutes round the corner but it had been a few weeks since she’d gone out so the sun began to make her eyes water. Next door’s malnourished terrier started yelping through the fence but before she could bark back Janet, her neighbour, threw open her upstairs window and screamed some incomprehensible Scottish slang at it. Janet glowered at Sally, Sally kissed her middle finger and raised it up in the air. ‘Fucking foreigners’ Sally mumbled as her flip flops slip-slapped down the road. She huffed to the corner and was smacked by the smell of the kebab shop, it was all she needed to make the extra three or so meters to the door. The odor always made her feel warm and content, probably because the paper wrappers from the last take away kebab hadn’t made it out of her front room yet and it reminded her of home. Her flip flop tripped on the step at the entrance and her big toe smeared across a greasy tile. As she balanced herself on the door frame Mani shouted

‘Same as usual Sal’s?’

‘Nah, not today Man, Steve don’t deserve nothing, he’s pissed up on the sofa again, dunno why I bother mate. Gimme a donna with all the trimmings’

Then as she noticed the browning limp lettuce in a tub behind the counter

‘Skip the green shit though, why bother with all that health bullshit now huh?’

‘Sure thing babs, sure thing’

Her mountainous ass wobbled onto a stained plastic chair, causing it to groan and splinter. She picked at her feet, scraping her nail over the grease on her big toe, then absentmindedly rubbing at the sweat on her face and wiping it all over her coat. She watched the kebab meat turn slowly behind the counter, the fat dripping and congealing. Mani started slicing, he always cut her thick pieces. She’d lost her looks over the years but he still remembered the fumble they had down a back alley in ‘96 and held a torch for her. Steve had swapped her engagement ring with Mani for a kebab and a can of coke last year and Mani promised himself when the time was right he would fix it and get down on one knee and propose to her properly. Meanwhile he just watched her from the corner of his eye and stuffed her large warm pita with random meats and chilli sauce.

‘Here ya are babs, my special, just how you like it’

‘You treat me good you do Mani, why can’t all men be like you huh?’

Sally rolled herself up with a grunt, snatched at the plastic bag protecting her treasure and shoved past another customer who had just stepped through the door.

Her stomach roared and she marched almost horizontally in the rush to get back to her chair. She turned the corner and leaned on the wall, ‘must be the pollution’ she mumbled as her lungs thundered and wheezed. The warmth of her kebab leaning on her thigh pushed her to make the last few centimeters home. Next doors terrier started leaping against the fence again and Sally saw Janet peering through the net curtains. She didn’t have time for finger flicking, her legs were chafing so hard she could have started a fire. As she got to her door she realised she’d left her keys in the ashtray next to the telly. She hammered loudly on the dirty mottled glass, hollering Steve’s name through the letterbox, her hair sticking to her sweaty red puffed face. She slammed at the door a few more times with the palm of her hand and then slowly slid down onto the doorstep. It wasn’t the first time this had happened, and usually Steve wouldn’t surface until at least 8pm. The plastic bag didn’t stand a chance as she tore through it, ripping open the soggy paper wrapped around the kebab, grabbing the meat with her fat fingers and covering her chin with dripping juices and sauce. The terrier stared at her through the fence, salivating and pining. Sally didn’t have a care in the world.

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Herpes – A Bitter Love Story

She contracted herpes in 1984, just before the threat of AIDs hit the English shores and everyone still believed in free love like it was the 60’s. It flared up every time she thought of him, a big red sore on the top left hand side of her lip that oozed and bled whenever she touched it. They had divorced in 1987 when she found him balls deep in her best friend, Mandy. Mandy had curly hair and he loved it, he often made his wife wear a wig when they were having sex. She can’t ever remember making love, it was always raw and thrusting and she often got thrush for a few days after. The cold sore was just a lasting reminder of that bastard. Mandy died a few months ago, they’d made up a few years back after her ex husband eventually cheated on Mandy too for a younger curlier model. At least they had something in common and would often share stories well into the night about the bastard who left a mark on both their lips. One night, after three bottles of shared wine, they kissed and grabbed at each others tits in some sort of failed attempt to feel loved. They both remembered what happened in the morning but never talked about it and just got on with their day to day lives wondering what each other were thinking and whether or not they could be lesbian. She decided she couldn’t. She never liked the look of her own cunt, how could she go down on someone else’s. Also she’d found out that herpes could be transmitted that way and she didn’t want anyone else to be cursed with her ex-husband’s sins. That bastard was still alive though, they still lived in the same town they were married in, she couldn’t afford to move out and he had a good job in town and bought a house three streets away. She saw him often but he ignored her by looking down at his shoes, or suddenly turning heel and walking in the other direction. He was the one who did wrong so how come he still made her feel like a piece of shit that had been trodden into the carpet? She’d once tried to turn round quicker than him in an attempt to get the upper hand, but she almost walked into a lamp post and she heard him snort a laugh before walking away. One day she will make him pay, make him realise what he had lost, as soon as she worked out how to get the money that she owed the council for her studio flat in the basement of a decrepted Victorian four story house. Her top lip started stinging again so she walked to the broken bathroom cupboard for some vaseline.

 

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Fag Ash Lil

We called her fag ash lil until they found her

Heart attack they said

But her tits and face had almost been burnt away, there was no hair left and there were holes where her eyes should have been.

We figured it was how she would have liked to have gone. Cremated by the things she loved the most.

Her pet dog had eaten her toes.

 

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It Was The Vodka – A Redundancy Story

She knew she shouldn’t really give a fuck about it, not now, not after so long, but she did, and she was beyond exhausted with her restless brain thinking on and on and on… and on into the early hours denying her any rest. That’s why she drank. It wasn’t a social thing, it was a sanity recoverer, without it she’d end up a zombiefied husk of a human. Her cat liked the new sleeping pattern, or lack of. It meant when he scratched at the bedroom door at 5am she would throw food in his bowl instead of scream profanities in his direction and occasionally open the door brandishing a well heeled shoe. ‘Fuck’ she exclaimed to the wall. ‘Fuck fuck FUCK’ she screamed out the ajar window to a random early morning jogger. She considered that she might just have everything out of proportion as she twisted the lid off the half empty vodka bottle and drank deeply. It was 5.43am on a Tuesday. The headache once again thundered in with the thought of getting her blouse on for work again. It would be the ninth day in a row. She fell on the bed with a heavy thud, drops of vodka leaping out of the bottle and on onto her forehead. She sighed as the cat jumped onto the bed and started licking the running droplets out of her hair. She never stopped him, although after he drank neat vodka from a cup and staggered into the TV stand she was more vigilant with the amount he drank. Cats really shouldn’t drink neat spirits, but then she figured cats shouldn’t be called ‘Shandy’. At least she always had a drinking partner in the small hours. ‘Fuck’ she told him. ‘fuck this shit’ and quickly squeezed her eyes shut. Two minutes later she opened them to find everything a bit greyer. Even the sun couldn’t be fucked to get up to full mast this morning. She felt herself sinking into the mattress. Even the spring in the middle that always tried to force its way into her spine felt comfortable. And she sank further.

It was 1.32pm, she opened her eyes to see Shandy curled up around the now empty vodka bottle, and sixteen voicemail messages on her phone. She dialed and listened, last first, ‘…imcompant for the last time, your…’ She switched off the call, she knew it was over. She stroked Shandy for some form of comfort. He was cold and still.

 

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The Ajax Train

The stench hit me as soon as he sat down. You get used to differing flavours of reek when travelling on a train in rush hour. They hit the back of your mouth and seem to nest there for the rest of the day. This was acrid, like strong industrial soap and powdered ajax, the sort of disinfectant my nan used to scour all over her body when she started believing she smelt of death. His wax jacketed arm was leaning into mine so I tried to push myself as close as possible to the murky window for fear of being tainted with this aroma and having to sit in a air conditioned office all day tainted in ‘clean’. I turned and scowled at his wide bald face, he was too busy staring gormlessly at his phone to notice my silent protest. I took a minute to look at him, his bulbous red nose was ejecting some sort of green and blue slime that was dangerously gravitating to his mouth. There was a blackhead so large and ingrained on the right nostril it distracted me for a second and I wondered why he didn’t scour his face in ajax too, that would surely clean that muck out. I’d been watching youtube videos of people squeezing all manner of solid yellowing puss out of blackheads and it looked rather soothing and satisfactory, but my eyes flickered back to the dripping mucus and I gagged a little. My stop was three more stations away and there was nowhere to stand anymore, I was trapped in public transport hell. I started to pray he didn’t shake his head like a wet dog and cover the whole carriage with strands of multicoloured bodily fluids when suddenly he took out a clean white tissue and started blowing his nose. He opened the tissue after a final intense blow and looked horrified, his eyes suddenly turned to me and caught my aghast face for a second. He mumbled something incomprehensible, I’m not even sure it was language, more a pitying wail, and turned to face the passengers to the left of him, the smell of acrid soap and ajax wafting from his wax jacket. I turned the music on my MP3 player up and prayed he got off at the next station.  

 

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Eric (and Ernie)

I have a pet snail called Eric. Well, I have Ernie too, but he is smaller. Eric freaks my lover out, it’s the eyes, the ones on the stalks, the way they pulsate and bobble on the stems, He hates them. He often won’t eat the food I cook in the kitchen because Eric and Ernie live there. In a cage of course. But my lover thinks they escape in the middle of the night and crawl over the food and on the plates. I’m scared of slugs, they are slimy vagrants, but snails are all right, they have houses, though Ernie’s cracked a bit a few days ago. He doesn’t eat enough cuttlefish to make his house strong. It is like building a tower with jelly. His insides remind me of jelly. When I told my lover this he didn’t eat dessert for a month.

I can’t wait to tell my lover I took this photo of Eric in the large pasta bowl. He will never eat Italian again with a smile.


 

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Cat Shit

I threw up from the smell of cat shit today. It’s always there, permeating the walls and climbing up the stairs. The stench that is. If the shit did that I would be packed and hitching a lift to Oklahoma by now. No, there was something about it today that made me retch. 

I hate cats. I would like to see them thrown over a fence. But my housemate, she loves the little hairballs. The shitting, fur ridden hairballs. So I end up with a fine coating of fluff and a bad attitude

But today, my god, I start it with my head down the drain and cold shivers and sweat up my spine. The little bastards. They just keep on looking while I scurry to my room and slam the door. 

This time it’s personal. 

 

(I don’t really hate cats this much, purely fiction, we have two, and most of the time they are awesome. But their shit did stink this morning)
 

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