‘Fetch’

It is a late summer evening in O’Meara’s wood; a time when dog walkers or ramblers are rarely found wandering in the dense un-coppiced woodland; this is why Jon favours the wood. There are no humans to pollute what he regards, unreasonably, as his wood; it is tranquil and within walking distance of the cottage to which he retired with his wife, Mary.

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The Welsh Dresser

On Swansea beach it’s impossible to tell where sky and water meet. Hadyn stares into the distance and sees no edge to the world. He leans on the handle of a large battered Silver Cross pram.

Although a conscientious objector, he feels guilty about not being ‘over there’ even though he’s had his own war. He vividly recalls the sounds of the Blitz: of Luftwaffe bombers droning, of ack ack fire, the whining of the approaching bombs and then finally, his bomb and after that, nothing, no memory whatsoever of the bomb that threw him two hundred yards and almost took his life.

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The Lift

The School of Anatomy is located in a mouldering four-storey early Victorian building. In 1899, an architect is commissioned to redesign the building to meet the demands of twentieth century medicine. He knows nothing of the latter. He’s a moderniser who turns things upside down in pursuit of progress. With the advent of electric lifts, he sees a chance to exploit the use of the top floor of the building as a new dissection studio (sic).

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Lily

63 Railway Street is a two-up and two-down terraced house, fourteen bricks wide, occupied by a respectable working class family.

Lily is six and plump, with a round face that speaks of innocence. Her brown tangled hair speaks of her mother’s carelessness, or uninterest. Her family describe Lily as a hunchback because of her deformity. It is a casual defamation.

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The Tank

It is Friday June 12th 1987. Tom and Liz have finally escaped the city and are moving to a small country village of narrow lanes and mellow stone houses and cottages just like the one they have bought. Their happiness is muted: it’s also the day after the Tories were re-elected with a majority of one hundred and two. Worse than this, Margaret Thatcher is still Prime Minister.

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The Wall

Edsel is ten years old and visiting his seventy year old grandfather, Hans, in his dilapidated apartment in Berlin. Edsel likes doing this; Hans is full of stories about when THE wall divided Berlin. It’s hard to grasp there was an East and a West and the people in the West were free and those in the East imprisoned, or at least, that’s what his parents have told him. Edsel regrets that his parents work so hard to afford what they call ‘the good things of life’; the benefit is that he spends lots of time with his Grandpa Hanspa. 

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The Speech

Cheryl’s mother, Joan, is determined to get as many of the Grimaldi family together for her daughter’s wedding as possible. Five months before the wedding she finally tracks down the oldest living member of the family, great uncle Lionel, living in Delaware, and their correspondence begins. As Cheryl’s father is dead, her brother, Richie, will ‘give her away’. But Joan has a problem: who will make the first speech at the wedding reception in lieu of her dead husband? Maybe uncle Lionel? She writes to ask and he agrees.

The wedding goes exactly to plan: the sun shines, birds sing, promises are made, books signed, confetti thrown and photographs taken.

The wedding reception begins.

Uncle Li, in black tuxedo, black trousers and frilly white shirt, stands, and the catering manager hands him a microphone.

The videographer starts recording.

Hi folks. Well, here I am back in Cardiff for the first time in seventy-one years. But hell, this ain’t about me. It’s about the bride. I’m a great judge of character, you have to be selling insurance, so I know what I’m talking about and it’s the bride …. Seldom, in one person, in one woman, does one find such a combination of beauty … intelligence … sensitivity … compassion … fun-lovingness … Godliness … humility … motherliness … and great style.

Cheryl dabs at her tears. The groom, Stu, sits open-mouthed; how will his speech go down with his new wife and her mother?

Uncle Li continues, I ain’t overcooking the eggs, hyperbolizing, or making much ado about something right special – well I am. This girl is beyond compare, someone who’d make her dead daddy real proud if he was here today, and I’m real sorry he ain’t. So, be upstanding, raise your glasses … to the bride, Cheryl! Cheryl!

Food and much drink are taken until it comes to the time for Stu’s speech.

A year passes. It’s half past four and Cheryl is at home – the salon is closed on a Wednesday afternoon. She’s watching the video of their wedding when she hears the front door slam. She pauses ‘play’ as Stu enters their front room.

Uncle Li is frozen on screen.
You’re early, love, she says.
What are you doing home?
It’s Wednesday, my half day off work.
You call doing some old bird’s nails work? You must be fucking joking.
There’s no need to swear at me. I’ve done nothing wrong.
You’re watching that fucking old shit Li again, aren’t you?
What’s wrong with you?
All that bollocks, fucking lies, all of it. Beauty? Huh. Intelligence? Really. Fun-lovingness, crap. You wouldn’t know what fun was if it hit you in the face. Motherliness, you don’t get to be a mother if you don’t fuck, Mrs Bolton.
I just don’t want to do it every night.
Fuck Uncle Li, Stu shouts as he presses ‘eject’.

Cheryl weeps as he rips the tape from the VHS cassette.
Fucking speech! You bloody laughed at mine. Bitch. Humiliated me.


I hope you enjoyed this story.  Remember, I publish a new story every Sunday.
Please feel free to pass them on to others you know who may be interested.
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And remember, you can read previous stories from “Behind the Plague Door”
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© Phil Cosker 2020
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.


Error in recent posting

Hello,

This post is from Peter Barton. I help Phil with his web site and weekly blog.

I use WordPress to publish the blog and they have recently moved over to a different blog editing system called “Blocks”.

As with all new systems, it takes a while for operators to get used to them, and that has been the case with me.
This week you will have noticed that my name appeared as the author of the piece in your reminder e-mail for this Sundays 500 word story.
Phil wrote the story of course, as he always does, not me. I am simply the operator. 

No matter how this error occurred I offer my apologies to you for the confusion and to Phil for appearing to usurp the authorship.

I should know better. I fall on my sword.

Keep enjoying Phil’s work and spread the word.

Best regards,

Peter Barton

Runnymede

The minister’s decision to meet at Runnymede at Hew Locke’s artwork ‘The Jurors’ is perhaps from a sense of irony, or, more likely, because of her disdain for key moments in the struggle for freedom, the rule of law, equal rights and justice as represented in Locke’s twelve bronze chairs. If I have to hear another lecture about Saint Nelson bloody Mandela I’ll scream, she thinks and gives a little grunt of disgust. And as for Black Lives Matter, do me a favour; I’m a British Asian after all and I should know. Her certainty that the location will be deserted at three o’clock in the morning is the only thing that allows her to put up with Locke’s work. 

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