Friday, 25 May 2012

Bona fides

Here’s another quickie thanks to the inspired Terrible Mind blog; a flash fiction tale based around a random sentence generator. Mine was ‘The valley gossips without a cold offender.’

   ‘The valley gossips without a cold offender.’
   That was only half true, as it turned out.

    In fact, it was a beautiful summer’s day; the first true one of the year & I was out for a constitutional & to let Fido get some exercise. He’d been a bit off his food lately & I hoped fresh air would do him good. He started out a bit withdrawn but the sunshine & the warmth & all the butterflies & lower-than-usual levels of road traffic, &c, seemed to perk him up a bit & soon he was positively skittish: tugging at the leash & dragging me to who knows where & towards who knows what deviltry further along the canal’s towpath, the scamp. One has to be firm: he’s a loyal friend & excellent company but one has to let him know who’s boss, so I applied a little pressure to the lead & scolded him gently. Soon he was bobbing alongside me again: trotting at my heels. Then I received an message which I stopped to read - much to Fido’s annoyance.

   “The dog’s totally comatose & the bitch just sits there whining & leaving her pups unfed & unattended. Can U help?!”

   That was from Miss Springer; a new neighbour of mine whose acquaintance I was eager to make. Alas, caring for a broody & moody Fido had not left me much time for romance in the past week or so & I’d missed no few meals of my own as a result. I messaged back, hoping she’d pick it up soon.

   “Have U thought of exercise? Works for mine; often as not. Try waving an old shoe under his nose & see what he does. Rgrds, GR.”

    Fido whined & pulled & I relented & let him bumble on, though I noticed with alarm that he appeared to be limping a little. I’d have to take a look at that if I could catch him unawares or in a mellow mood…but he hadn’t been in one of those for ages.  We ambled on along the valley, smelling the last of the May blossom & listening to the distant drone of trucks & the occasional car & also quite a lot of sirens, which I dislike intensely. Oh, another message; this time from Scottie.

   “Bloody Afghans at it again. Dirty bstrds don’t know how 2 behave. Shd i go round & complain about noise?”
   I hoped he wouldn’t do anything of the sort because the last time he tried to sort them out he got into no end of trouble with the Authorities. The politically correct idiots won’t let a chap protect own home against riff-raff such as the Afghans anymore as we would have in the good old days, & let’s face it; anyone daft enough to walk around in England’s short but intense summer heat in those stupid long coats has got it coming to him.
    Fido stopped for a nap on one of the benches the Council provides along the canals for the winos to pass out on, & I took the opportunity to check FaecBook. The only recent status update from any friend of mine had been removed. This always annoys me. Why do they do that? If you go to the trouble to get a load off your mind & tell the world your woes, why delete the damn thing? 

   “Stay away! Stay away!” That was  no message. In fact it was an actual voice from behind a garden hedge across the canal. “I’m not kidding, GR!” came the voice again. “They’ve gone batshit crazy.”
   I recognised him; an old hunting pal of mine back in the day. “What’s the matter, Bernard?” I called across the water.
   “My animals have gone insane. First, Missy passed out a day ago & then this morning she gets up & she throws him on the sofa in an attack that was downright pornographic & then bites poor Sam’s throat. I haven’t got a clue what to do about it, either, as no-one seems to be about & you can call & call & call & no-one answers. It’s not as if there aren’t any of police around these days; town was swarming with them the day we got back from the coast.”
   “Hang in there, Bernard,” I called back. “I’m sure there’ll be a simple explanation for all this & it’ll be back to normal soon.”

   But it didn’t get better. Just then a man came staggering along the path; all weaving & unsteady on his feet like a drunk, & kind of moaning to himself. Then a couple of soldiers in biohazard suits & combat gear popped up from behind a garden wall & popped him a couple of rounds in the head, & off they went. I don’t mind gunshots: it’s the training, of course, that I received back in the day when on tour in Helmand Province, but for me running towards gunfire is in the blood.
  I checked Fido & he was out cold. In fact, he was a little too cold even by his standards to be healthy. Try as I might, I couldn’t wake him for a very long time & I had a Dickens of a job dragging him back home & even then as soon as we staggered together in through the open door he just slumped & flaked out again.  

   That was three days ago, & I’ve learned to adjust to the new conditions. Fido’s still very cold, though not offensively so, & some of the other pets are still ambulatory - after a fashion - as valley gossip tells me, but we manage. He’s lost it completely on the can opener front & he can’t throw a Frisbee worth a damn but I have lots of fun burying him & digging him up again, & he is, after all, made of bones.


Kathy said...

I like this! Reminded me a bit of Ursula le Guin's "The Wife's Story." A fun read.

AB Singer said...

Hi Kathy, thank you and welcome. I have never read that one, but looking at the collection it looks like a read I could do worse than to eBay. I'm glad and flattered you had fun, and it's beginning to dawn that brevity can indeed be the soul of wit.