Story Time: BOGOF

*What’s got DP so riled up, Clicky?*

*Oh, the latest installment of the Battle for Brexit… /lights up and smokes… The everso grubby Corona Skirmish. How’s that going for the Remoaning Media?*

*Figures. They never learn…*

Welcome back, Dear Reader. After posting ‘She’s In The Shower’ earlier this week…

*Beautiful, Clicky… /puffs contentedly…*

…We thought we’d treat you to another story from UAVIII. Mine this time. It’s called ‘BOGOF’ and has nothing whatsoever to do with toilet paper. Enjoy 😉

*******

BOGOF

By Roo B. Doo

The supermarket was already a hive of activity by the time Clive Ambrose squelched into the admin office of the Marchway Emporium. He removed his sodden jacket, shook his feet and inspected the wet hem of his trouser legs. “Good grief, Sylvie, the weather’s absolutely filthy today.”

His assistant looked up from the paperwork on her desk. Sylvie arched a quizzical eyebrow and clucked at the dripping store manager stood in front of her. “Morning, Clive. You’re late.”

It was barely fifty yards from his reserved parking space to the staff entrance, but the morning’s unexpected squally shower had drenched Clive every step of the way. The car park could do with resurfacing, he thought glumly. Some of those puddles are deep.

“And today of all the days!” Clive exclaimed, pinching wet and steamy glasses off his nose. “Fiona’s car wouldn’t start, so I had to drop her off at the University first. She had an early lecture. Empowerment of women in a post-Brexit toxic wasteland, or something like that.”

Sylvie widened her eyes and pursed her lips. She offered Clive the box of man-sized tissues from her desk.  “Doesn’t she know you voted to leave?”

“Lord no!” Clive snorted, patting away the rain and perspiration beads that studded his face. “That would kill her. A shock like that could cause an embolism.”

“Or a heart attack…”

“At the very least it could induce a catatonic state.”

“But they’re all natural causes, Clive,” Sylvie simpered slyly. “No court would convict you, surely.”

Clive dried his glasses off with a fist full of tissues. “Probably not. I’ll bear it in mind.” As much as he enjoyed the banter with Sylvie, Clive was under no illusion that should his beloved wife Fiona ever find out that he’d voted for Brexit, she wouldn’t be the spouse in danger of dying.

Sylvie pushed her ample frame away from her desk, stood up and slipped on her shoes. She straightened the seam on her skirt and tottered over to the office doorway. “I’ll get you a coffee, Clive. A frothy one with sprinkles?”

Clive returned his now freshly dried glasses to his face and looked his assistant up and down. “You look different today, Sylvie. Are you taller?”

“I’m wearing heels.”

“I’ve not seen you in stilettos before. And is that make up?”

Sylvie flicked her thick, blonde hair from her shoulders nonchalantly and plucked a non-existent piece of lint from her sleeve. “Well it’s not every day the Emporium is graced by celeb chef royalty. Housewives favourite, Freddie Calender, here, giving a cookery demonstration? I thought I’d make the effort, Clive.”

Clive was suddenly worried that he’d gone too far. He would hate to offend Sylvie; sometimes he thought she was his only friend. “No, you look very smart. That’s smart thinking, Sylvie. Well done. Smart all round.”

Sylvie smiled at her blushing boss and bobbed her head. “So, coffee. With froth and sprinkles?”

“Yes please,” Clive said gratefully. He clapped his hands together and looked around his office. “So, big day ahead. I’ll go and check out the Freddie Calendar books and DVDs promotion once my shoes have dried out a bit, but I do need to speak to Alan. I suspect with this weather, and the amount of customers we’re likely to attract today, we’ll need extra matting and mopping.”

“I’ll find him and send him through,” Sylvie said with a smile and left the office with an unsteady wobble.

Clive grimaced and continued to worry about slips, trips and falls.

+++

Kara Swinton pulled the sun visor down from above her head and checked her appearance in the tiny mirror fixed to the back of it. Despite the early hour, she didn’t think she looked too bad; a little pale maybe, but better than she ought to considering what little sleep she’d managed to get the night before. As she turned her face from side to side she caught a glimpse of the figure slumped, sleeping in the back seat of the Uber cab they were taking to Marchway, and thought he looked considerably worse than her.

“There’s a light if you want to fix your make-up,” the driver next to her said helpfully. His eyes didn’t waver from the dark road ahead as he reached up and flicked a switch next to the mirror.

Ugh! Kara thought at the dark rings under her eyes, now illuminated by the harsh, blue light that spilled over her. She quickly switched it off and pushed the sun visor up to its original position. She could kill for a cigarette. “No, that’s okay. Thank you, I don’t want to wake him.”

“No problem,” the driver replied. He flashed a bright smile at Kara before tilting his head back toward the sleeping figure. “Late night, was it?”

Kara considered telling him that they’d spent the evening in the bar at the House of Commons – how they’d drunk far too much in an effort to keep up with their very thirsty host, an MP of twenty years standing, in an attempt to solicit further backing – but decided against it. “Kinda,” she replied with a shrug. “A work thing.”

They traveled in silence that was intermittently broken by burbled snores from the back seat. Several times Kara noticed the driver’s dark eyes flicking up to the rear view mirror, to stare inquiringly at the slack jawed, drooling face of her boss. He can’t place him, she decided. And no wonder, the public rarely sees Freddie Calender, TV chef and food activist, without his trademark grin and sparkling eyes. Kara stifled a yawn, I won’t tell him unless he asks.

Freddie turned in his seat and farted loudly.

“Oh Freddie,” Kara groaned under her breath and pushed a button on her door. The window whined down and the raw sound of the motorway rushed in. “You’d better do the same,” she advised the driver. “It’s Dev, right?”

“Yeah and you’re Kara,” Dev chuckled and shook his head. “That’s okay. I lived in India when I was little. Nothing pongs as bad as India. It was like being inoculated against future bad smells.”

Kara smiled as she allowed the cold air to stream over her face, letting it beat all traces of tiredness away. She breathed deeply; it smelt like rain. “Dev, would it be okay with you if I smoked a cigarette?”

“Freddie?” Dev started having caught the name. “Is that’s Freddie Calender, the chef off the telly?”

Kara pulled a battered metal cigarette case from her coat pocket and waggled it at Dev. “I’ll tell you if you’ll let me smoke.”

“Sure,” Dev said, flashing Kara with another bright smile. “If you don’t mind that I vape.” He pulled a white plastic tube from his door well and twirled it between his fingers, waggling his eyebrows.

“Heh. Not at all.” Kara returned his smile; Dev had a nice smile. “Thank you, you’re a life saver. This is my first today.” She reached into her other coat pocket and pulled out an equally battered lighter. “Of course, the first one always tastes better with coffee,” she sighed, lighting up, careful to blow the first drag of smoke out of the window.

“So am I right?” Dev opened his window and took a pull on his vape stick. “I am aren’t I? That’s Freddie Calender.”

“Yes he is,” Kara said sweetly, turning back to look fondly over her comatose boss. Freddie shifted and farted again. “TV chef, mediocre businessman,” she continued tartly, turning back to face forward, “and scourge of BOGOF.” Kara inclined her head toward the open window and took another deep drag on her cigarette. “That Freddie Calender.”

“And what’s a BOGOF?” Dev asked.

Kara laughed softly to cover her surprise. She watched the orange sparks dance atop her cigarette and disappear into the morning air as the car’s slipstream simultaneously whisked away it’s ashen hat.  “You’ve never heard of BOGOF?”

Dev turned his head toward Kara and shook it, although his eyes remained fixed on the road ahead. “No, is it a toilet thing?”

“Eww, no.” Kara studied the blank expression on Dev’s face and concluded that he really didn’t know. “It’s short for ‘Buy One Get One Free’… bee-oh-gee-oh-eff. BOGOF.” Still nothing. “Obviously you don’t do the grocery shopping in your house,” she teased.

Dev took another deep pull on his vape stick and blew a plume of steam out of his open window. “If you want to know if I’m in relationship, you can just ask me.”

Cheeky sod, Kara thought, coughing to hide her embarrassment; she had noticed that the very good looking cab driver wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. “Okay, I’ll play. Do you have a girlfriend, Dev?”

“No,” Dev stated seriously before flashing Kara with another winning smile. “But I take my mum to the supermarket and help with the food shop every week. I’ve just never actually heard anyone call it BOGOF before. Do people even say that?”

“BOGOF,” Freddie slurred from the depths of sleep.

Kara and Dev burst into laughter. They tried suppressing their mirth so as not to wake him so that their shoulders shook all the more. Kara threw the butt of her exhausted cigarette out of the window and let the rushing wind carry it away with a howl of laughter.

“Surreal,” Dev said shaking his head slowly. “My first famous fare and it’s completely surreal.”

“Freddie has that effect sometimes,” Kara sighed. “Have we got very much further to go?” she asked, arching her back. The cigarette and laughter had relaxed her somewhat, but Kara could do with stretching her legs.

“Marchway is about thirty minutes away,” Dev replied, glancing up through the windscreen at the overcast sky. “If it doesn’t rain.” He tapped at the sat nav screen. “Actually, there’s a service station coming up. Do you want to stop and get coffee?”

“That would be great, thanks. I’ll wake his nibs up then, so he has enough time to come to.” Kara knew Freddie would appreciate that, and a strong, black coffee would probably do him the world of good.

+++

“There you go.” Sylvie placed a bacon sandwich and cappuccino in front of Clive. “I thought you could do with something to eat as well. I doubt you had time this morning.”

Clive was touched. He’d had to forgo his usual bowl of muesli because of Fiona’s car troubles. Not that he minded missing Fiona’s muesli, but he’d hadn’t realised just how hungry he was until he smelt the aroma of bacon. Clive smacked his lips and beamed up at Sylvie. “Thank you very much indeed.”

“You’re welcome,” Sylvie said beaming a smile back.“Did you talk to Alan yet?”

Clive took a huge bite out of his sandwich and nodded enthusiastically.

Sylvie liked to see Clive eat and was quite convinced his wife didn’t feed him at all. “Good. I see Freddie Calender is in the newspaper today. We get a mention.”

Clive stopped mid-chew and swallowed. “National or local press?”

Sylvie pulled a folded newspaper from under her arm and passed it to Clive.” Local, but he’s in all the nationals as well. Page seven.”

Clive wiped his fingers on the napkin Sylvie had thoughtfully tucked under his bacon sandwich, and opened the newspaper. Freddie Calender stared out, all twinkling eyes and dimpled grin. Clive read the accompanying article in silence, while Sylvie watched his brow slowly furrow.

Eventually he looked up. “Here we are at the end, but what’s this ‘BOG OFF to BOGOF’ business? What’s he got against ‘buy one get one free’?”

Sylvie had already returned to her desk and kicked off her shoes. “I’ll look it up,” she said, skittering painted nails over the keyboard. “Here we are. I’ve found the website.”

Clive continued eating his sandwich, more slowly this time, and re-read the article.

“It’s like it says in the newspaper,” Sylvie murmured reading the words on screen. “He’s heading up a national campaign to ban ‘buy one get one free’ deals. “‘It’s time to tell Big Retail that we don’t want more of their junk products that we didn’t need in the first place.’ Bloody cheek!”

Clive took a slurp of cappuccino and sucked the foam off his mustache. “Listen to this: ‘It’s all too easy to be lured into buying ready meals, thinking ‘what a bargain’, when the truth is, that second portion of processed crap languishing in your fridge, will be binned when it’s past it’s sell-by date because the first one tasted so bad.’” Clive looked up at Sylvie and blinked. “He’s very strident in his criticism.”

“He’s very rude is what he is,” Sylvie huffed, bristling with indignation “And quite wrong. Our ‘Authentic Dishes of the World’ ranges are delicious and very popular. Especially the chicken Tikka Masala in ‘Feasts from the East’. Do you think Head Office knows about this?”

“I doubt it, Sylvie.” Clive rubbed his hands together to remove any sandwich crumbs from his fingers, and wiped his mouth. “They’ve been exceptionally buoyed ever since landing Calender’s ‘Time to Cook’ nationwide tour. His name has a certain cachet, but you’re right to ask. We should find out. Can you get me Megan at Head Office on the phone?”

“Of course.” Sylvie picked up the receiver of her telephone console and jabbed at the keypad with a pen. “It won’t stop with ready meals, Clive, you mark my words. We have BOGOF deals on wine, pet foods, toiletries… Oh good morning. Could I speak to Megan Prendergast, please. Clive Ambrose from the Marchway store would like to speak with her. Thank you, we’ll hold.” She kept the receiver to her ear but placed a hand over the mouthpiece. “And has he even considered the impact this could have on food banks? I bet he hasn’t.”

Clive drained his coffee cup and reached down to slip his mostly dried shoes back onto his feet. He appreciated his assistant’s feistiness – finding Sylvie strangely attractive when she had her hackles up – but unintended consequences were a fact of life. The trick, in Clive’s opinion, was to deal with them as best you can and to always look for the silver lining.

His thinking was interrupted when Sylvie nodded several times toward the phone on his desk. He picked up the receiver. “Good morning, Megan, Clive Ambrose from Marchway here. Tell me, have you seen the Freddie Calender articles in the press today?”

Sylvie leaned back in her chair and watched Clive’s conversation. He didn’t say much but from his facial expressions and body language, Sylvie could tell that Head Office was as shocked by the news as they were.

“No, of course you need to scrutinize his contract thoroughly. The issue I have is that we’re expecting him to arrive at the store in a little over an hour.” Clive rolled his eyes at Sylvie at the response he was hearing before eventually saying “Goodbye” and ending the call.

“Well?” Sylvie asked expectantly. “Are we going to cancel?”

Clive stood up and pulled his jacket on. “No, the Legal department needs to study his contract properly. That takes time.”

Sylvie gave a snort of disgust. “So we’re going to have to be nice to him, all the while he’s slagging us off in the press?”

“Well, not us per se, he’s not stupid,” Clive soothed, straightening his tie. “But Head Office seems a little bereft of ideas.” He started for the office door, but stopped to pick at something stuck in his teeth. He pulled the irritant out; it was a piece of bacon. He studied it and thought about Fiona’s muesli, the morning’s deluge and his satisfied bacon-filled stomach, before popping it back into his mouth. There’s always a silver lining to be found.

“Come along on, Sylvie,” Clive said, holding the door open for her. “We should go and inspect the demonstration and promotional areas. I really hope this weather doesn’t keep the customers away.”

+++

Dev leaned against the pillar in the coffee shop, watching Kara pay at the counter. He allowed his eyes a moment to rake over her slender form, though he quickly looked away when she glanced up and caught his stare.  Kara was all smiles as she approached him with the coffees.

“Here you go,” she said and handed Dev a cardboard cup, topped with a plastic adult teat. “A tall Flat White. That’s on me.”

“Thanks Kara, but there’s no need.”

They moved to the napkin station where Kara liberally applied brown sugar to her larger cup of white chocolate Mocha. “Oh don’t worry about. I got it with my loyalty points.” She pulled the wooden stirrer between her lips and sucked off the milky foam. “Consider it as part of your tip.”

Dev sipped gingerly from the steaming hole in the lid of his cup. “I’ve had plenty of racing tips as tips but this is much nicer.”

“Why, weren’t any of those tips any good?” Kara asked playfully.

“Nah, they were all nags,” Dev said with a grin and tilted his cup toward Kara. “Thanks again.”

They left the coffee shop and as they reached the entrance doors to the service station. Both were surprised to find the rain that threatened earlier had actually arrived. A sheet of water fell from the roof covering the entrance like a second transparent door.

“Oh hell, we’re gonna get soaked!” Dev declared as he gauged the strength of the rain and the distance to the car. “We’ll have to make a run for it.”

“No sodding way,” Kara hollered over the sound of the falling rain. “I want to have a smoke before we go back. Freddie hates me smoking.” She sauntered over to an empty table and chairs set back from the cascading rain, under the cover the overhanging roof.

Dev followed her and sat down. He patted his pockets. “Oh shit, I’ve left my vape stick in the car.”

“You won’t be able to vape when we get back either. Freddie hates that too.” Kara said pulling the battered metal box from her pocket and extracted a cigarette. “Would you like one of mine?”

She watched Dev dithering as to whether to take one or not. Oh you bad girl, Kara, she chastised herself but felt no pangs of guilt. “You don’t have to of course, but you should also consider this as part of your tip.”

“No, it’s okay,” Dev laughed, “but I appreciate the offer.” He took the battered Zippo lighter from Kara’s hand and flicked it into life. “Here, let me.”

Kara took a deep drag and blew the smoke out of the side of her mouth, away from Dev. She took the teated lid off her coffee and took a cautious slip. “Ahh, the second smoke of the day tastes equally as good with coffee.”

Dev turned the Zippo lighter between his thumb and index finger. “Hey, the case and lighter match. That’s neat.”

Kara took another drag and plucked the lighter from Dev’s fingers. She placed it on top of the cigarette case. “They were my granddad’s. He swapped them with a Yank during the war.”

“What did he swap them for?”

“Provisions. They were both POWs in World War Two. I got them when he died a couple of years back. Well, my sister doesn’t smoke, so they came to me,” Kara said with a shrug. “They’re a useful memento.”

“Of your granddad,” Dev murmured solemnly.

“Well yes,” Kara drawled and release a plume of smoke from her mouth. “And that neither smoking, nor bloody combat managed to see him off.”

Dev eyed the steadily falling rain and lightly drummed his fingers on the table top. “Go on then, as it’s part of my tip.”

Kara chuckled and slid her cigarette box and lighter over to Dev. “Knock yourself out.”

Dev lit up a cigarette. “So if Freddie Calender doesn’t like smoking-”

“He hates smoking.”

“And vaping-” Dev popped the lid from his Flat White.

“Completely loathes it.”

“And hates BOGOFs-” He took a slurp of his coffee.

“Vehemently.”

“Is there anything Freddie Calender does like?” Dev asked, licking hot foam from his lips.

Kara flicked ash onto the floor. “You mean apart from Freddie Calender? Um…”. She puffed out her cheeks in contemplation.

“Ha, yes.”

“Jammie Dodgers.” Kara lent in toward Dev and whispered conspiratorially. “They’re his secret vice.”

Dev smiled and gazed at Kara snort with laughter at her own joke. He let his eyes linger on her pale and beautiful face, and this time, when she caught him staring, Dev did not look away.

He chipped off the remains of his cigarette and stood up. “The rain seems to be easing up some. If you’ve finished that, I think we could make a run for it. We shouldn’t get too wet.”

“Okay.” Kara took a final drag and discarded the butt into an encroaching puddle of rainwater. It hissed and fizzled out. “Freddie hates it when his coffee is cold.”

+++

Freddie Calender slung his foot out of back of the black saloon car and into a puddle of water. “Bollocks!” he swore loudly and pulled his foot back inside, wiping the sides of his pristine white trainers against the tufted car mat. “Fella, you’ve managed to park on a lake. Can’t you find us somewhere drier?”

“Sorry,” Dev said and reversed out of the parking bay and maneuvered it into a empty spot immediately behind. “Is that better?”

Kara cracked open her door and looked down. “Yes, much. Thank you, Dev.”

“Yeah, thanks mate,” Freddie said, slapping Dev hard on the shoulder as he slid out of the car.

“I’ve got my phone with me if you need me,” Kara mumbled and pulled her bag up onto her lap, rummaging inside. “He’s booked for three hours but this shouldn’t take much longer than that. You’re sure you don’t mind waiting?”

“No problem.”

“I mean, you don’t mind us not paying for you to wait.” Kara placed her hand on Dev’s arm. “I’m so sorry. I had no idea Freddie was going to suggest that.”

Dev smiled and shook his head. “No, that’s okay. As Freddie pointed out, it’s extremely doubtful I’m gonna get another fare from Marchway back to London. Besides, he’s promised an autographed photo for my mum. I can’t leave before I get that.”

“Okay then, see you later.” Kara open the car door and got out.

Dev sat back in his seat and watched Kara heft her bag up onto her shoulder, and weave her way through the puddles littering the car park, toward the supermarket. He pulled out his vape stick and switched on the radio. All in all, for his first celebrity fare, he thought it had gone pretty well so far. But Kara? She was definitely the best thing about it.

+++

Freddie saw the expectant delegation of suits and primary coloured uniforms before he stepped through the sliding doors and into the supermarket. He knew they had seen him as soon as he heard a squeal of excitement. There was always a squeal.

“Hello Mr Calender!” Clive called out and strode toward him. “We’re so pleased to welcome you to the Marchway Emporium.” He grabbed Freddie’s hand and pumped it enthusiastically. “Very pleased indeed.”

“Yeah, I’m excited to be here.” Freddie grinned his trademark grin at the waiting crowd before him and shook the proffered hands. “I can’t wait to get cooking.”

“Shame about the weather but hopefully it won’t put too many people off coming out to see you.” Clive placed his hand on the small of Freddie’s back and attempted to steer him forward. “This way, we’re all set up for you.”

Freddie stopped. “Wait. I need to introduce you to my assistant,” he said tentatively and swung around, looking for the absent Kara. “There she is. Kara!”

Kara had just arrived and was stamping her wet boots on the matting inside the door. She looked up and smiled at hearing her name. “Hello. How do you do. Golly, it’s extremely wet out there.”

Sylvie tottered forward and took Kara’s hand. “Yes, it was dreadfully unexpected. I’m Sylvie, the Store Manager’s assistant. I can take you to dry off first if you like.”

“Kara’s my go-to gal, aren’t you, Kara?” Freddie wrapped an arm around Kara’s shoulders and pulled her in tight. “If anybody needs anything of me, especially whilst I’m cooking, speak to Kara. She’s on point. Okay?”

“Ah, well perhaps I should give this to you then,” Sylvie said to Kara, and loosened a page from her clipboard. “It’s all the ingredients specifically requested for today. We just want to make sure there’s nothing missing.”

Freddie snatched the paper from Sylvie. “No, I’ll check that. I am the chef.” He pinched his bottom lip between forefinger and thumb as he scanned the list. “No, that’s everything. Thank you.”

You arse! Kara thought sourly and plucked the page from Freddie’s hand. She’d seen the flush of colour in Sylvie’s cheeks and decided a spot of charm might be the best remedy. It’s amazing how skillful I’ve become at charming people since I started working for you, she admonished Freddie silently.

She passed the paper back to Sylvie with a toothy smile. “Oh my god, your nails are wonderful, Sylvie!” Kara held Sylvie’s hand and studied the finish on her nails. “Did you get those done professionally?”

The flush in Sylvie’s cheeks turned to blush. “No, I did them myself. I used transfers. I learnt how to do it on the internet. There are so many videos on YouTube…”

“Well then,” Clive said clearing his throat and replaced his hand on the small of Freddie’s back, nudging him onward. “Shall we go to the kitchen demonstration area? We’ve converted part of our Riverside cafe for the day. Temporarily of course, but we think you’ll be satisfied with the layout.”

+++

“Hey! I thought I might find you out here,” Dev called out and ambled over to Kara. He passed her a cardboard carton, a wisp of steam curled out from the hole in its lid. “I thought maybe you could do with one of these.”

Kara was stood smoking alone in the bright sunshine, and rocking on her feet. The free hand she had stuffed in her coat pocket took the coffee from him gratefully. “Hey! Aw, thank you! How did you know that the third cigarette of the day is spectacularly good with coffee? Wow. You really are an excellent cab driver, Dev.”

 “Thank you, Kara.”

“In fact I suggest you prepare yourself for a most effusive customer review.”

“Consider me already bowled over,” Dev said with a wide smile. “So how’s it going with Freddie’s demonstration?”

“Pretty good, I think. Despite the earlier bad weather, he’s drawn quite a crowd.” Kara took a long drag on her cigarette, followed up by a short sip from her coffee cup. “Have you been shopping?”

Dev was carrying a bulging plastic bag, with the primary coloured Emporium logo emblazoned on the front. “I have. Fortunately I had some time to kill this morning, so I thought I’d check out inside.”

Kara smiled and released a cloud of smoke into the bright blue sky. “Did you buy anything nice?”

“Yes I did,” Dev said pulling his vape stick from his pocket. “I got some presents for my mum.”

“That’s cool.”

“Yeah.” Dev took a hit from his vape stick. “Say, Kara, have you had a chance to look around the rest of the store?”

Kara looked at Dev and flicked the ash from her cigarette. She squinted in the sunshine. “No, not really. I’ve been busy with the demonstration. Why?”

“It might be nothing, but the Emporium seems really keen on BOGOFs.”

“What do you mean?”

Dev shrugged his shoulders and sighed. “I mean, really keen. They have a whole aisle of ‘buy one get one free’ ingredients from Freddie’s demo dishes and it’s jammed with customers.”

“No!” Kara could feel the blood draining from her already too pale face.

“Yeah, there are even food bank reps behind the tills collecting BOGOF donations. I didn’t know they were allowed to do that.” Dev reached into his shopping bag and pulled out a book. “And then there’s this.” Freddie Calender’s twinkling eyes and trademarked dimpled grin shone from the cover. “They’ve got a big promotion of these inside as well. All ‘buy one get one free’. I bought this and got one of his DVDs with it. What a bargain! Mum thinks Freddie’s great.”

Kara placed her coffee cup on the floor before taking the book from Dev. She stared at it in astonishment. It was Freddie’s latest title, ‘Time To Cook’, but a large, primary coloured sticker had been placed over the last word. “’Freddie Calender’s Time To BOGOF’?”

Dev tried hard but the giggle that he’d held inside him could no longer be contained. “I’ve only known Freddie a morning, but even I know that he is gonna hate that!”

Kara roared with laughter and grabbed Dev’s arm. “We’d best not tell him then, eh? We don’t want to ruin the journey back.”

+++

Sylvie was typing into her computer when Clive returned to the Emporium’s Admin Office. “Well, that all went off very well in the end, I think,” he said, sitting down at his desk. A steaming cup of tea and a jam doughnut, with a thoughtfully placed napkin, were waiting for him. “Thank you, Sylvie. That’s very kind of you.”

“No problem, Clive.” Sylvie turned away from her computer screen so that she could watch Clive take the first sugary bite from his doughnut. “Have you spoken to Alan this afternoon?” she asked.

Clive shook his head no and continued chewing.

“He stopped by earlier, cock-a-hoop about something he’s posted up on Twitter.”

Clive swallowed and licked sugar and jam from his lips. “Alan’s on Twitter?”

“Yes. I’m not on Twitter myself, but Alan says he’s got a number of followers on there. They’ve been liking and retweeting a photo he took of our Freddie Calendar book promotion. Apparently it’s gone viral.”

“Really?” Clive wiped his fingers on the napkin, woke up his computer and opened Twitter. “Did Alan happen to mention the name of his Twitter handle?” he asked, reaching for his tea and taking a large gulp.

“Yes. He posts anonymously on…” Sylvie paused, peered down at her notebook and grimaced. “At silver streaky bacon?”

And for the second time that day, Clive Ambrose found himself unexpectedly soaked.

*******

*Trust Jammy Oliver to land a show with a captive audience, Clicky… /stubs butt… Time for a Song methinks…*

And that, as they say, is that. Underdog Anthology XI: Ay Corona! (working title) is due out in April, and I really must get back to finishing my story for it. So until next time, Dear Reader, have a Song ❤

*Seriously, Clicky? …/laughs like a drain…*

Story Time: She’s In The Shower

Something to cheer everyone up now, Dear Reader 😀 I know, I know, times are trying at present: what with the new Hack Death stalking the Armageddon landscape of political and financial turmoil, causing the Media to shit its collective shit for brains, and instilling an insatiable desire in the general populus to self-isolate within a mountain made of toilet rolls. Oh, the humanity. Think of the trees…

blah blah blah

*/lights up… Well, it’s mental, Clicky… /drags deeply… Leggy’s on to sumfin… /smoky sigh…*

… So, to cheer us all up, I persuaded my good buddy Cade, the Okie Text Us Devil, to let us publish his fantastic story from Underdog Anthology VIII: Transgenre Dreams…

Pearls before Swine

*Doesn’t have to be paper, Clicky. Kindles cheaper and quicker… /thinks… Bloody brilliant if you have to spend time at home, self isolating…*

… It’s an absolute belter 😀 We know you will enjoy ‘She’s In The Shower’… 😉

*******

She’s In The Shower

By Cade F.O.N Apollyon

Before I go, I thought I might pass along a few thoughts that I’ve had about timelines and those who travel them. My name is Arton Arin. I am a 43 tri-season old resident of Bollinger in the Southern Midlands of Eggland, and I’ve been told that I am preparing to pass of a diseize called Cancera Molingua.

Before you become too distressed at my predicament, know that I actually feel quite well as of this writing, and I would prefer that you hear the tale I have to tell before making too many judgments about how you should feel about me and my current Medicull outlook. I simply thought it best to relay to you a bit about who I am, when and where I come from, and maybe a bit about why I am writing this story.

To be completely forthright, I am bored. My diseize is very rare, but highly contagious. Therefore, I spend most of my days in total isolation, pacing the length and breadth of my isolated hopspittle tangle, thinking about days gone by. If there is a bright side, it is that after the first two weeks of infection, which I am told is usually spent in a comatoe, the remainder of whatever time is left is spent mostly symptom-free. Or so I am told. However, I am also told that I will once again, sometime in the near future, slip into a comatoes from which I will not wake. Typical.

One might think that someone in my current state may perhaps spend most of their time lamenting a future that will never come. Sorrows, woes, and oh no’s. All those glorious dreams of future endeavors, forever lost because of some new form of Cancera that has chosen to spring up in myself and a few other unfortunates. All of us scattered here and there, in and around a world that I do not know very well at all. But I find myself thinking about such things only when contemplating the thoughts of others and how they might view me. And what I mean to say there, with impunity to you who are reading this, is that I do not think about the future nor why I shall not be in it, unless I think about those who are actually there. Someone such as you.

You are there already…reading this…written by someone who might have been there, but is, alas, not. Cancera Molingua decided we should be apart. Or perhaps, decided it better that we meet in a different fashion. Were I not preparing to pass, I would not be writing this. Were I not already passed, you would not be reading it. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, whoever you are. But let us get back to my boredom and why I’ve decided to explore a bit further the topic of those who travel timelines differently than others.

As stated previously, I am quite bored. My waking hours are spent in the past. Spent recalling tales told to me in my youth by parents and grandparents, relatives and friends; a cross section of everything from absolute truth, to complete and total flabber. Some of the more strange and interesting tales were those told to me by my grandfather. My grandfather confided in me later that these tales were actually told to him by his grandfather, although my grandfather sometimes painted himself in the main role to make the storytelling more relatable. After all,” he explained, “these are strange tales of a time where both morta and godda alike intermingled with the firmament of the cosmos!” Grandfather liked to recall in a mighty voice. They were sometimes indeed difficult tales to understand. Difficult tales to follow.

Of course, in my grandfather’s grandfather’s time, the names were different as the language was different. These were the times before “The Great Buyout” when the last of the free lands were deeded. Before “The Final Four Closure” when all ownership tytulle changed hands, which intern caused “The Sudden Shift” of morta peepwholes moving to and from all corvers of the planets. Before “The Age Of The Tri-Season” where the cold and hot seasons came with some regularity, and our primary planet did not linger for unspecified times in rethrograde nor anterograde orbits. Before “The Great Shaming Of All Nations” when all language was changed, and all memory of what came before was changed forever.

I am only telling you this, because I just realized that some of my words may not mean the same to you as they do to me, as I have no idea who you are, nor when and where you will be reading this. Pity that I have no idea which words you may understand, and which words you may not. I suppose it’s just an unfortunate side-defect of time’s progression, and I suppose I’ll just have to do the best that I can.

***

My grandfather told tales of times and places before The Shifts. Of course, the peepwhole then too were different, but they are gone, whereas I am told that many of these places that he spoke of still exist in some forms in fashion. Old places with new names and new destinies in new times. Many places that I should have loved to see had I reached the required traveling age of 45 tri-seasons. Alas, I am told that I shall not.

I suppose in looking back now, the interesting thing to me is that the tales my grandfather told me seem now to have been an up-building. A gathering of wanders and their wonders. Strange events I once thought fiction, leading from a time of knowing, to a time of non-knowing. Only through my illness have I had the time to reflect on these tales and what they could potentially mean. By that, I mean that I can avoid reflecting on a future that never is, mine, by reflecting instead on a future that perhaps never was. Perhaps because of these events, a future without me in it, was somehow avoided? Perhaps I am here only because of The Shifts?

I have begun to believe that perhaps there is truth in these stories my grandfather told me. Perhaps there is a certain deliberate vibration of sorts through time, and only through time and only with our attention can we begin to understand the wisdom in this. Perhaps this vibration crafts the never was, the is not, and the never will be, into something…more tolerable? More palatable? A deliberate and direct intervention on the part of some unseen will who guides us to where we actually need be, as opposed to where we want or think we need be?

I apologize to you if I am straying off point. And I realize that I have not yet told to you any of my grandfather’s tales. But as I write this, I cannot help but feel some degree of sorrow for a certain place from one of grandfather’s stories I shall never see. A place that I have dreamed of seeing since I first heard the story of “The Lady In The Shower Ring”, and it all took place in a land of dry, in a small town ship that no longer exists, called Text Sass.

***

We in my time are allowed to know anything, but we are not allowed to know it until a certain age is attained. There is no reason given for this as no one is said to know how this process came to be nor why. But the general consenseus is that it is to maintain a balance of want and need within society in times of limited resources. The less we know, the less we want, and the less we want, the more that our needs will be both true and inline with their actual necessity. This reasoning makes sense to me as it does most others that I have spoken with on the subject. But until I became sick and eventually became to be housed at the hopspittle with my own private tangle, I had no real knowledge of what “a shower ring” really was, nor that they actually existed.

L’water is plentiful in my time. As far as I am aware, even those who live in lands of dry never attain a thirst that cannot be squenched. We are allowed to totally immerse ourselves in L’water for cleaning twice every season within the tri-season, and both M’water and N’waters can be used for cleaning and swashing. You cannot consume these waters because of a tiny unseen organism called Blass Ticks that are too numerous for our internals, but these waters are more than adequate for daily cleanings. The Blass Ticks are even said to be good for swashing and cleansing the hepadermis. However, in my grandfather’s stories, that his grandfather told him, he spoke of times before The Shifts when morta peepwholes had unlimited access to L’waters, and would sprinkle their bodies with it daily in an area of their residences called The Shower Ring.

My tangle here at the hopspittle has a shower ring. It is a tangle like where I now spend my days but much smaller; two long sides, two shorter sides. A small tangle, within a larger tangle, that is specifically for swashing and cleansing. Due to it’s shape, I admit I am confused as to why it is called “a shower ring”. Perhaps someday I will ask one of the Fizzicans who checks on me each weakly.

I can swash and cleanse as much as I like, but you do not totally immerse in the shower ring. In fact, you do not immerse at all. A’waters, which are a yellowish, orange/brown Medicull water with something called “munkee blod” in it, sprays from a pipe on the wall, and all I need do is stand in the shower ring to swash. The water droplets that fall from the pipe in the shower ring remind me of the stories of “The Time Of Many Reigns”. Before The Shifts, reigns fell from the skies without intervention from peepwholes. No one knows why, but reigns of L’water fell without prompting, at many and all times during the four seasons that were said to have existed prior to the times of the tri-season. To preserve the purity of processes, we are disallowed from standing in the reigns when those who reign over all pour their L’water freely from the skies. But this shower ring is what I imagine that must be like.

So many things seem to have conspired to land me in my own tangle with my own shower ring. And I am told that I will know that the time is close when I feel my toes start to become numb. What a strange concept to ponder…the feeling, of numbness. I fear I’ve gone too long on myself already, so pondering here the concept of what it is to feel nothing or how nothing feels, I shall save for perhaps another time.

I shall now tale you the tell I was told by my grandfather. The story of The Lady In The Shower Ring. The story of the lady with tool eggs, and four harms. The story, of She Vah and my grandfather’s grandfather in the shower ring.

***

My grandfather was not a holy man, neither was he good. But nor was he unholy, neither was he evil.

There was no good…there was no bad…only the conflict of the two was in him.

Empty, some might say. As empty as a nothing which had no end.

Yet all and any was at his beckoning and at his whim.

For the two mighty Ones held sway over him…The One, and The Other One.

The Other One was to The One, as The One was to The Other One.

Two Ones, which is, and are, the same One, from different times, who sought out my grandfather, in the same time, at the same time.

The time before The Times Of The Shifts.

Both of The Ones were sometimes hidden from him, and both sometimes seen, and brought with them their manys and alls to test him.

To both teach him and to remove his teachings…and learn my grandfather did.

To taunt him, confuse him, cause fear in him…and fear and become confused my grandfather did.

To break him…and break my grandfather they did…many times.

The Ones and their goddas versus the lone morta.

How and why you may wonder? Why did the goddas show up? Why did they show up in Text Sass? Why did they choose my grandfather? What could he as a morta possibly have to offer the goddas, and what purpose could he possibly serve?

My grandfather said he never knew why they chose him, except to say “well that fuckin’ figures.”

Breaking after breaking my grandfather withstood.

Each and every time, the Ones wagered whether this be his last…but my grandfather found his feet again each time. More resilient and more determined after every breaking. Determined to know…why him…why now.

My grandfather had nothing. That is not to say he had “nothing”, for he had many things in his life that he loved dear. But in the time of those times, and in the eyes of those in and of those times, he was considered to be a man who had nothing. Alone, in a tangle, without possession, old and broken, separated from those he loved, and he knew not why.

And it was at this time, that The Ones and their goddas arrived.

Arrived in all manners. Arrived in all forms imaginable, and in many forms unfathomable. Via any and every channel available them, they arrived. Sight, sound, smell, song, memory, knowing, and more. With all tools in the hands of the masters that created and crafted them, they arrived. Completely unannounced, they arrived.

My grandfather said of their arrival…“Pretty god damn unwelcome to be honest.”

I asked of my grandfather why he did not ask of them “why?”

He smiled at me and said, “It honestly made perfect sense at the time, and I also know now that they arrived just in time. I just…didn’t expect it, and certainly not in the way and ways that it happened. I had no idea what to do, nor how to do it. Cornered, I was.”

Emptiness, my grandfather told me, is a portal into the realm of the absurd. And to begin to understand the absurd and its absurdities, is to gain insight into the concept of love. Insight into the concept of love, provides us with a glimpse into the concept of hate. From there, the knowing of all knowing cascades in, out, and through, any and every emotion you can think of. Before long, you find yourself falling through nothing, into nothing, surrounded by everything, and somehow, you see all.

To fall forever is a completely absurd notion, my grandfather told me. Why would anything, ever need to exist, or ever even be contemplated as potentially needing to exist, which would cause one to fall forever. The answer that I arrived at from time to time, after much deliberation, was love. Neither One wanted me, but neither One could bring themselves to destroy me. This is the best I could arrive at, after countless years and tears of contemplation…was hope. I fall forever in hope. They allow me to fall forever, in their hoping. Hoping that I may someday, when needed, be what it is I need be. They about their business, and me about mine. Time for all of us, to arrive at the time we all need be at, when we need be there, as we need be. Ready, for whatever we need be ready for.

May as well busy myself having some fun doing something, while I fall forever doing nothing…

…heh, heh, heh.

I was his grandson, and you are mine, and let me assure you that humility was always on my grandfather’s mind. How to remain hidden. How to be wise. To temper a blade of his own fury that cuts without cutting, and vanquish any foe while the blade remains sheathed. Yet to stand, not bowed nor cowered, yet still in all humility, before the goddas and speak as one might speak…to a friend.

Knowing these are not my friends, but neither are they my enemies.

In fact, they don’t even know who I am.

My grandfather broke into singing a strange rhyming tune that was somehow neither poem nor song. Something that resembled a cadence that soldiers might sing in unison as they marched in order to keep their steps in time…

You know me not,

For I have no name.

I am no one,

No…one…you…know.

For I am null.

I am not.

I am knot,

I am naught,

I am not, knot, naught.

Speak as a friend. Not to flatter, nor to deceive, but to be receptive and to receive. To give my all. For these are truly my friends….and my enemies. All these things my grandfather told me.

I asked of my grandfather why he did not ask of them “Why? Why not ask of them what, and how?”

He again smiled at me and said, “I figured if they wanted me to know, they would have told me.”

Over many days called “years” in those times, they tested him.

He never knew when, nor where, for they tested him at their own whims according to plans of their own design.

The goddas cajoled, and my grandfather fell silent.

They prodded him in his dreams, and he was much troubled by them, but he carried on.

All manner of vile was suggested, and he scowled in disgust and wondered with contempt what possible purpose this knowledge could serve.

They poked and prodded at his pride, and he played along and came up with better insults for himself than they.

But then something happened that The Ones did not expect.

One of the younger goddas seems to have suggested a change in tactics. “Up the auntie” as they used to say in those times before The Shifts. Instead of attacking my grandfather with shame, or with hate, or with fear, or by promise of knowledge in hope of wisdom, they tried his own weapon against him…humor.

Many of the goddas, including The Ones, had sent many a vision to my grandfather. Some he understood, some not. But one thing he always told me that he always seemed to understand, was their humor. “They’re some funny motherfuckers,” he used to tell me.

One in particular, She Vah, was trickier and more likely to apply humor than most of the others. Someone that my grandfather said he felt he had a special kinship with, without really knowing why.

She Vah, was the godda who suggested using humor against my grandfather…especially in the shower ring.

Take his humor, that which he crafts so sweet…so sweet so as not to cut, and make it so he can do nothing but harm when he wields it. Replace the sweet with bitterness. Make that which should cause joy, cause instead hate, so that even the softest of his strokes, and the sweetest of his loving kisses, draws instead blood.

I only needed to take a piss, my grandfather told me. An average day, all day, in the same spot, pondering the same mysteries over and over, and I suddenly needed a piss. Understand that I am not complaining about pondering the same mysteries over and over. Pondering one mystery may provide insight into another. Neither mystery may in fact be solved, but it just may be enough information to make some progress in the right direction…keep us alive and pondering for a little while longer. Provide one more breath.

Not all answers are finalities, and not all finalities are final, my grandfather said. I just needed to piss, and I thought at the time that it would have been nice to have thirty seconds of peace and quiet to do so. That was not to be.

You have to try and understand, as best you can, that “seeing” does not always equate with external stimuli of some kind from our immediate surroundings. Sight, we tend to equate with those things that can be quantified and verified with secondary input. Such as, you may be able to see a chair, and you can also lick that same chair to verify that something is indeed there, and “yep, it tastes like I guess a chair should taste.” May I suggest at this time that touch may be a better secondary for many a practical reason.

There are many ways to interrupt many channels of energies flowing here and there. And since we ourselves are energy and energies, and we are in a system built of systems of energies, someone who knows what in the hell they are doing can manipulate each and every sensory input we have. They can do so from eons away in the future, they can do so from eons away in the past, and perhaps they can even do both at the same time when present circumstance dictates. And that is what I am all about…time. Hope provides time, and time provides hope. I hope, that I am not boring you, grandfather said to me, with a smile a gentle nudging elbow to my ribs for emphasis.

To “see” certain things at certain times, with no external sensory input of any kind, seems, unusual. Such as, rushing to the toilet because I’m about to piss my pants, only to make it to the toilet, and find that…I, am not alone. I see nothing, yet I sense…something.

I can only just hear my urine first sounding against the water in the toilet, as I suddenly become aware of a figure approaching me from behind. I do not flinch, I do not clinch. I continue what I am doing, and observe.

In my shower, a small figure…a woman. She has a golden outline, surrounded by complete black. Distant. Inside the distinct and sharp golden outline of her figure, again, complete black. A golden-framed woman, surrounded by total darkness that also permeates all of her being except the rigid golden outline of her frame. Hair that is somehow red, yet black as night with occasional flashes of an unusual white. Her golden outline, as she moves, shimmers occasionally with rainbow colors. These colors cycle between the base golden color, and every color imaginable.

She’s far away. Edging closer. Small steps. Raising her knees, slowly up high, high above her waist, pausing for a moment, then slowly down again. With each step, and also between steps, her arms, four of them, two on each side, move with purpose. Synchronized both with, and opposed to, the movement of her steps. All manner of shapes she makes with her arms as she approaches. Her arms cross, then unfold, her hands flat, then folded, then together, then apart. She is surrounded by complete darkness. My bladder is half-empty.

She’s tall. The more steps she takes forward from the blackness, the more her height increases. Stalking her prey, or so it would appear. Slowly, gracefully, thoughtfully, edging forward from the blackness that surrounds her, permeates her. Her skin flashes from black to a whiter and pink flesh tone, then back to black. She is no longer a she. Is she? Is she a…she? Is she…Shiva? Not the Shiva I’ve seen depicted here in this life. She is Shiva, isn’t she? Who the hell is she? Which one is she?

***

You know, I can see you,” I blurt out in my mind. Her advance does not cease, nor does she waiver in her pace.

I know you can see me,” she replies. “I just wanted to see how far you would let me advance before finally saying something.

She speaks to me in a tone of someone walking the edge of a razor suspended over a pit of spikes. Focused on many things, while doing many things, all while her own well-being appears to be hanging in the balance.

Is there a particular reason you maybe couldn’t have waited for me to finish taking a leak?

Yes. In fact, there is a particular reason. You and I both know that this is not what actually happened.

I was caught. Caught trying to stray. Straying from the truth, while in the company of truth.

“We both know that much of this in fact, did happen,” I said as I fumbled with the recounting of the experience.

“True,” she replied. “I appreciate your vigor. Just maybe perhaps, stick to the more pertinent and explainable, and stay away from any further exploration of the non-relateable.”

Wise she was, and wise she is.

***

And so, my grandfather said to me, it is time that I tell you what actually happened on that day. What happened in my bathroom. My bathroom was actually no bathroom at all, nor was it mine. My bathroom contained no bath…only a shower. A shower for washing the body, a toilet for the body’s eliminating functions, and a sink for small cleanings. The shower was simply a stall covered by a retractable plastic wall called a shower curtain. This curtain was suspended by a thing called a shower curtain rod, and the curtain was suspended from this rod by things called shower curtain rings.

I did not shower much in those days as the waters at that time harmed my skin. As such, this retractable shower curtain which enclosed the shower stall was almost always left open. Rarely was this curtain closed, and spiders used to build their webs in the folds of the shower curtain to catch prey. When I would use the toilet to relieve my bladder, my back would be to the shower stall, which means there was a rather large empty area behind me. This empty area is where on many an occasion, those from the unseen realms would appear to me. An area which I could not see when standing in front of the toilet, and an area from whence I should NOT be able to see them, but for some reason…I could see them.

All that I’ve told you up to now is true, but what actually happened share now I, with you…

***

You know, I can see you,” I blurt out in my mind. Her advance does not cease, nor does she waiver in her pace.

I know you can see me,” she replies. “I’m practicing my Yoga in the shower whilst you pee.

I immediately started to laugh so hard at the absurdity of her assertion, that I started pissing all over the toilet and on the floor. She was most decidedly, NOT, doing Yoga. I collected myself somewhat, and was able to regain the proper control and direction of my urine flow.

“It looks more to me like you were trying to sneak up on me while I was taking a leak, and you got caught.”

I had to fight back. I was standing here in the vulnerability of an act of a necessary bodily function, usually performed alone and in solitude, and now that embarrassment has been compounded by shame for urinating all over the outside of the toilet and on the floor.

“Tell me, Clay. What is winning?” she asked as she continued her rhythmic and exaggerated advance towards my back.

“Winning?” I questioned. “Winning? Or victory?”

She immediately froze at hearing my question; two of her arms above her head with hands folded, two of her arms extended at her shoulders with the palms of her hands up, one leg bent and raised high up to her chest so that her foot was well off the floor, the other leg straight with her foot firmly planted. A contest! A contest to see if she can remain standing on one foot for the length of time it takes me to finish pissing. ‘A pissing contest’…of sorts.

You know,” I began, “I’ve not cleaned that shower in some time. I’ve noticed you are barefoot. You could potentially get some kind of foot disease.

She smiled, but did not move nor waiver in any other way.

Also,” I continued, “I’m the one that showers in there, so a disease of some kind is almost certain.

She maintained her smile, her eyes glowed, but still she did not move nor waiver.

Um,” I was desperate, for I was almost finished peeing, “This may take a while. There’s a dollar store right up the street if you want to toddle off there and get you a pair of cheap flip-flops that can be used as shower shoes. Will only set you back a buck.

She dropped her elevated foot in defeat, and bent over in laughter.

“WINNER!!!” I thought to myself. Just in time too. The final drops of urine fell into the toilet, I gave the requisite squeeze and shake, then found the toilet paper roll so I could do an initial clean up of the urine from the toilet bowl and floor. I reached for the toilet paper roll. Between pulling off the first few sheets and looking at the floor in order to begin planning where to start cleaning first, I briefly acknowledged Shiva’s presence in my mind. When she came again into focus, I saw one of the most incredible things that I have ever seen.

Somehow, and to this day I have no idea how she did what she did, she was standing…on both feet…AND…one foot, all at the same time. And no, before you ask, she did not suddenly grow an extra leg. She simply, somehow, ‘revealed’ to me, that she was still standing on one foot, had never moved, and, was standing on two feet. There was no double-vision. Her form was as clear, crisp, and well defined as it has ever been…only two legs. And yet, somehow, she was managing to stand with both feet firmly planted, and stand on one foot with one leg raised. I saw no third nor fourth leg.

I immediately burst into an uproarious laughter as my mind was flooded with the possibilities and notions of how she was achieving this. Multiple-dimensions? Multiple-times? Multiple-positions? All somehow aggregated here and now to give the appearance that she was in one place at one time, when she was in fact in many? Whatever she was doing, and however she was doing it, this was no trick. There was nothing ‘gimmicky’ about it. All attempts on my part to solve this mystery almost immediately dissolved away as the reality of what I had just seen continued to sink in. I continued to laugh, bent down, and started to clean my misfired urine off of the floor.

Winner,” she said softly in a quasi-sultry and sassy voice.

What!?” I protested. “I’ve already won!

Winner, winner…chicken dinner,” she said, hands on her hips. She wiggled them slightly for some added zesty emphasis.

You can’t take my win from me can you? I’ve already won it.

I can take your win from you, and I have done so. In doing so, you have answered my question, and I have answered yours.

The difference between ‘winning’ and ‘victory’?

Correct.

Anything given, can be taken away.

Correct.

A nation may ‘win’ a war, yet still not be victorious.

That is an excellent point for pondering.

Wait a second here. You stated you won after I’d already won.

“Correct.”

Then, you implied you took my victory from me.”

“Correct.”

“That’s two wins in a single contest. You aren’t talking about winning nor victory at all are you?”

“Perhaps yes, and perhaps not.”

I continued to wipe urine from the floor as thoughtfully and completely as I could, and it occurred to me that most lessons from ‘else’ usually comes both indirectly, and, it is heavily layered. One can many times choose to peel back as many layers as they care to. Such as, an old man on his hands and knees wiping his own piss off of the bathroom floor because the god Shiva made him laugh while he was pissing, and now they are discussing the finer points of winning, victory, and perhaps even defeat. A light bulb illuminated in my dim little mind.

“You are wondering how I would describe what I just saw to another.”

“That thought has crossed my mind,” she replied thoughtfully. “How would you describe or recount to another what you just witnessed?”

“I wouldn’t even know how to begin to try.”

“And what about relating the story of what transpired here?”

“Again, I wouldn’t know where to begin, nor would I even have the slightest inkling as to who would even care to hear such a tale. It strains my own internal credibility, and I just walked through the shit-storm my own self.”

She smiled a large smile. She could see my mind working. I was reassured by her smile, but I could tell that she knew that I was already struggling with realities and pride and prejudices and envy and shame: all these concepts and more wrestling with my own self doubt. These things continued their stormy struggle as I tried to imagine who in the entirety of existence would ever even potentially want to hear such an unimaginable and outlandish story. She thankfully interrupted my thoughts warring with themselves.

“Perhaps you could start where you are now, then work your way backwards. Do that, and moving forward should come quite easily if you stay with it.”

And with that, she was gone.

I paused and thought for a moment.

Wise she was, and wise she is.

***

My grandfather, and your three times great grandfather was no soldier, Arton. He marched alone. Accompanied perhaps, of my own accounting anyway, by an army that no one but he could see. That, I tell you, was likely the reason for the odd little song that he sometimes sang to himself.

Death says to me…

Who are you?

I know you not.

I see no name,

No name I know.

I say to Death…

You know me not,

For I have no name.

I am no one,

No…one…you…know.

For I am null.

I am not.

I am knot,

I am naught,

I am not, knot, naught.

War was his passion; battle was his mind; combat was his love; but his heart, he prayed, beat a rhythm of peace seeking wisdom. As to what that made the entirety of his being? “I don’t really know what that makes me. I don’t know what that makes me on the whole. I mostly feel at peace.” This is what my grandfather told me.

“And that’s peace, not piss,” he told me. “People will bastardize the damndest of things to their own end. I’m myself admit I am guilty of the same. Take care with your judgments grandson of mine.”

I paid no heed to my grandfather’s talk of judgments.

My mind was already well elsewhere.

Too much data, nary enough answers.

My mind burning like a flame, I asked of my grandfather, “But you told me that you were all about time! You said that hope was time, and time was hope! What is all this talk of war and battle and peace grandfather?!”

Into his eyes I looked, and saw that they blazed with a something inside of him that I had never before seen in anyone, nor have I seen in anyone since. Not blazed as the hottest flame might, nor burned like the coldest cold might. There was no light, nor was there dark, but I suddenly saw a vast and endless emptiness inside of him that sent a shiver down my spine and threatened to suck the air straight out of my lungs. My heart pounded within my own chest in protest of the unseen and unwelcome requests of me. Grandfather sensed my fear and placed his hand lovingly on my shoulder. The growing fear bursting to escape the very fiber of my being fled almost as suddenly as it had appeared. But not for long would that fear be held at bay.

“Young one,” my grandfather started, “There is some serious shit headed your way, and you, are going to be right in the big middle of it.”

My ears…I could not believe them. I could not believe these words only just ushered from my grandfather’s lips. War? My way? Me? Why would war ever come to a child? Why me? What is this war that seeks me?

I looked away from my grandfather in consternation and to the ground to reassure my now galloping mind. I felt the fear and confusion welling and tumbling inside of me. Ebb and flow, it did…subsided, it did…grew, it did. A boisterous pulse advancing and retreating almost simultaneously. Tho looking downwards, I could still see my grandfather from the top of my eyes, and saw that he observed me as I thought. He sensed the war raging now inside me. War…inside me. War?

“You feel that?” grandfather interrupted unexpectedly. “That, is war. The confusion you are feeling now, is all part of the war eternal.”

My brow furrowed in disbelief. My hand I put to my belly as it began to burn. Searched the ground for answers I did as to what this could all mean. Find my feet, so swiftly knocked from under me, I must find my feet. My eyes scanned steady the browns and greens of the ground. Back and forth my head went, as I thought to myself that this cannot be so. There cannot be a war inside of my own self. No one have I to fight. I felt an anger rising in me, and I thought to tell my grandfather as much. But again grandfather was ahead of me by at least a step.

“And that, young man, which you are feeling now, is battle. Your confusion and uncertainty have been temporarily replaced by a measured response.”

At this, something within me…snapped.

“STOP IT!” I blurted, with tears of rage welling up in my eyes. “STOP IT RIGHT NOW!!!”

The face of my grandfather, which only a moment ago was as stoic and hard as stone, softened. Looked beyond his face and through my own now blurry and teared eyes, sought my grandfather’s eyes I did. I found them. The vast emptiness was gone from them, and they sparkled with the fires of countless stars.

“And that, my dear grandson, is combat.”

Huge tears formed in his eyes as he continued, and his voice cracked occasionally from the strain.

“Confusion, turned anger, turned rage, all to preserve self, in combat. But beware of the fury that follows rage my dear grandson. For fury can cut in many ways, at many times, from many angles. Once fury is grasped, there is no letting go.”

Tears were now streaming down his face. I sprang to my feet, dove towards my grandfather, and wrapped my arms tight around him. I hugged him like I had never hugged anyone before nor have hugged anyone since, and a stern, but gentle and comforting hug my grandfather returned.

Warmth.

An afterglow.

Light.

A path, only previously hidden, now lay before me. Know, I did not. Understood, I did. For now, I understood without knowing.

We find our own wars, Arton. We choose our own battles. And when we find these things, we fight our own fight in combat. But when we answer the call to join the wars of others, many, and perhaps all of these choices lose we.

And for added measure my boy, tell you now, oh grandson of mine, my dear boy, Arton…that if you ever tell your grandmother that I hugged my grandfather better than I ever hugged her…well, let’s just wait and see. We’ll cross that bridge when and if we get there. He winked at me and smiled, my grandfather did.

***

My great-great grandfather is said to have died shortly before the times of The Shifts began. I can only assume that whatever death it was that sought him, and he for a time somehow avoided, eventually found him. Perhaps much in the same way it appears that some death currently seeks to find me. And so now, to be completely honest and open with you, there was indeed something specific that prompted me into writing. Something that inspired me to attempt to relay this and these tales that I have now shared with you.

Three days ago, I encountered a woman in my shower ring whilst I swashed. It was only for the briefest of moments, and due to my current Medicull predicament, I admit that I had to question whether or not it actually happened. But what stuck with me, was the fact that this woman had both red and black hair. Much like the hair of this She Vah that my grandfather told of via his grandfather’s tale.

She said nothing to me, and she actually looked scared and confused. Perhaps, assuming she was actually here, she was just lost. Lost for the briefest of moments along some coiling or unwinding timeline, and unsure of where she was.

She wore no clothes, and she looked real enough. No extra arms, no darkness nor glowing, just a combination of very red and very black hair. Naked, and possibly wet, her arms were folded somewhat protectively to her chest, although I did not get the impression that this action was out of shame nor modesty. She looked back and forth a few times before she noticed me, and our eyes met only briefly before she quickly disappeared. There was no indication that she knew me, and I certainly did not know her. Except of course, for the distant connection to this She Vah story told to me by my grandfather.

By the by, both black and red colored hairs are contrary to social parity here in Eggland. I had always assumed that colored hair of these types were a myth. So rare for anyone to have hair at all in these times, let alone what appeared to be a full supply of multi-colored hair on both her top and bottom portions. She was, now that I think about it, quite beautiful. Or would have been had she not looked so scared and perhaps helpless.

The next day, I listed the event on my daily Medicull report even thought I am still quite unsure if the event actually happened or not. But I am told that I am indeed preparing to pass, so what harm could it possibly cause to report it?

And finally, a bit of good news.

This morning, I was informed that they would be starting me on a new medesign today. The doctors informed me that they thought today might be the day that my toes started to go numb, and they wanted to go ahead and get me started on this new medesign just to be safe. They tell me that there exists the potential that this new medesign could delay the onset of the final stage. It could, they say, perhaps even pathdose the diseize entirely. And the best part is, it can sometimes do all of this with just a single dose.

I am doing my best to contain and control my enthusiasms. To say calm, and carry on. But I cannot help but think a blessing of the goddas this must be. For if this is true, and this Cancera Molingua within me can indeed be pathdosed, I can be exonerated of my “payshunt” status, leave the hopspittal, and return to my own tangle. After time, I can apply to have my records expungented. Live to travel to Text Sass.

Odd this sudden development, as they’ve not previously mentioned this treatment. Perhaps it is something new. They did in fact mention a “new medesign”, but I neglected to inquire if the medesign was in fact new, or just new to me.

I took the first dose only a few moments ago, but I don’t think the medesign works. As I write this, I can suddenly feel my toes going numb. My arms are also feeling quite tired. Difficulty writing. My feet feel very heavy. Now having difficulty moving my legs.

I guess they didn’t catch it in time.

Typical.

encore

*As you wish, Clicky… /stubs butt…*

GLOSSARY OF TERMS

A’waters – a socially acceptable,non-potable, non-drinkable X’water, made of various herbs and spices plus a generous portion of munkee blod; designated for Medicull use only, only under Fizzican super-vision, and only for swashing.

Anterograde – a forgetting.

Billdinged – the aggregate result of independent expenditures.

Blass Ticks – a group of non-motile, microscopic organisms of indeterminate origin made up primarily non-organic materials. Blass Ticks tend to be suspended in varied quantities in X’waters, and it is thought that this is why the organism has not evolved the ability to move under it’s own power, lack of need. First described by Brau Flucher in 2076 CE/017 TS

Bollinger – a towned in the Southern Midlands of Eggland, which was founded on one of the axial focal points during The Battle Of The Bands that eventually led to The Great Shaming Of All Nations.

Cancera – a non-explainable combination of factors that results in either non-standard and/or less-than-standard cell growth(s).

Cancera Molingua – this particular/specific diseize is not known to actually exist. However there is some grainy reasoning within the term itself.

Comatoe – the low-power, quasi-hibernative state of a system or systems, marked by a generative lack of response to stimuli.

Consenseus – a gathering of similar bodies to form a contiguous and unique whole, without sacrificing a part’s individual traits or characteristics. A simultaneous subtractive addition and additive subtraction with a zero-sum.

Corver – 1. a convergence from the point or angle and perhaps time of disbursement. 2. a point in time that considers origins, destinations and forces from the eventual resultant point or points.

Diseize – a more or less standard deviation from a standard, usually capable of dictating and defining it’s own path if not identified in a timely manner by Medicull, and treated with medesign.

Eggland – hey, it’s Easter here in 2019 AD/CE. Lighten up. (Eggland is the exploitation of a convenient typographical error on the part of the author. It coulda been worse…it coulda been Endland.)

Expungent – a sharp increase or decrease in attractiveness, monitored and regulated by both the social and unsocial societal arms of the more-modern society.

Fizzicans – a socially trained and appointed representative of the Medicull arm of the more modern society.

Flabber – a particular something so beyond reason, logic, and even intuition, that it defies both rational thought and coherent description.

Forms In Fashion – the contextual mutative properties of an unchangeable tangible or intangible form.

Godda – a less-physical, independent entity, usually both less-biological in makeup and less-tangible.

Hepadermis – the outer layers that monitor and control the I/O flows independent of other such systems, and sometimes acts as it’s own medesign.

Hopspittle – a physical structure or billdinged constructed of various components where Fizzicans gather/meet. Also houses Payshunts.

I/O – the measure of an energy’s ability/inability to, 1. penetrate a membrane, 2. resist a membrane’s advance, 3. not interact with a membrane at all.

Intern – a seriatim or sequential ordering of things/events.

Internals – the innermost parts of an outermost whole.

L’water – a socially acceptable, potable, drinkable water.

Large Town Ship – a usually very large region of land containing a number of small town ships. Usually accurately representative, as a whole, of the small town ships it encompasses.

M’water – a socially acceptable, sub-potable water that is not suitable for drinking, but is suitable for regular swashing.

Medesign – an agent crafted to dictate a specific path of travel under certain conditions.

Medicull – the organized societal infrastructure of Hopspittles and Fizzicans.

Morta – a more-physical, independent entity, usually both biological in makeup and more tangible.

Munkee Blod – a special liquid healing agent of dark carmine, that is brewed with Minimum of Mermaid Brothers, and also contains Expedience of The Messenger.

N’water – a socially acceptable, less than sub-potable water that is in no way suitable for drinking, and is suitable for occasional use in swashing.

Pathdosed – a resummation of right and proper, typically as a result of an intervention by the Medicull, and usually via the application of a medesign or medesigns; a reclamation.

Payshunt – a negative impactor on the Medicull.

Peepwholes – 1. a biological, non-biological or less-biological system that is complete enough so as to be capable of sensing both specific and non-specific information and data, and also provide throughput to adequately and accurately transmit or otherwise relay this information in total to a 3rd party or some other intermediary; these biological and non-biological systems may be made up of organic matter, inorganic matter, or sometimes a combination of both. 2. a morta.

Reign – 1. the power to create and freely distribute L’water from the nothingness and the nowhere. 2. a societal structure made manifest through destiny in order to monitor and regulate side-defects.

Rethrograde – a remembering.

Side-defect – an entropic vulnerability, usually expressed in the flanks or perimeter of an otherwise closed system; unforeseen manifestation of change, chaos or collapse in the outermost portions of a centralized body.

Small Town Ship – a large region of land containing a diversity of mostly small settlements of societal structures, usually with their own independent beliefs and ruling structures.

Southern Midlands – a region in the northern part of Eastern Eggland.

Squench – the exsanguination or draining of a desire to consume.

Swash – a vigorous utilisation of available resources, appropriately applied for a particular cleansing process.

Tangle – a living space approved for a citizen or citizens to occupy, which is constructed in the form and flow of nature’s perfect geometric shape; two longer sides of equal length, and two shorter sides of unequal lengths, resulting in three right angles and one tribute angle.

Text Sass – a former small town ship in the former large town ship known as Nam.

Towned – a cyclically tytulled settlement where ownership is randomly transferred from citizen to citizen so as to equally distribute the burdens of ownership.

Tri-season – time period within the current age which has only three seasons, each of which are of indeterminate length(s).

Tytulle – an opening within the societal fabric that provides for the private ownership own one’s own self, control of one’s own destiny and movements, as well as the private ownership of one’s own possessions.

Up-building – a construction effort resulting in an increase in mass, density, volume, inertia or interest.

Weakly – a meeting or touch based on a need or needs, usually under duress, objection or protest; an unpleasant task or undertaking; deed or encounter of the shortest possible duration and/or met with a minimum of effort.

X’water – a societally approved method of measuring water quality and safety. Defined primarily upon usage and sometimes need.

Up The Auntie – no aunts were harmed in the writing of this story ❤

*******

Stay well, Dear Reader, and have a Song… ❤

Roman Holiday

*The pinnacle of Python, Clicky…/pats snout… Funny with a cutting social commentary that is just so fuckin’ timeless. It’s one of my favourite flicks…*

Dear Reader, I’m on the second of two consecutive long weekends. Ostensibly, I’m using up the last of my 2019 annual leave to squirrel myself away, and write a story for the next Underdog Anthology…

*I’ve been mulling over an idea… /lights up and smokes… for a follow up to the story of Caroline…*

*No, knot that Caroline. I still have no idea who that bint was, Clicky… /drags… ‘cept she was pretty handy with a lamp…*

*No, no, knot Awful Eyebrows either… /snorts smoke… Seriously, did you even read ‘Caesar’s Were-Wife’, Clicky? …/squints…*

…But instead indulged in a spot of lengthy remote viewing with my Texas chum, the Okie Devil, Cade Fon Apollyon. From the ‘Golden Age’ of BBC drama, we took in a tale of boundless ambition, glory, lust, incest, cruelty, insanity and murder. Lots and lots of murder…

*That was a sesh anna ‘arf… /flicks ash… Dunno if it’ll help me with developing my UAXI story though, Clicky…*

*An’ how’s an unpleasant Limp Dim, with a predilection for slavery, meant to help me write the story, Clicky?*

*Ah…/stubs butt… I fink that calls for a Song…*

*I meant for the end of the post, Clicky… /rolls eyes…*

… So for this long we kenned, Dear Reader, I’m gonna start writing ‘The Hides of Marchway’, and I’ll be back when it’s finished. Have a Song 😉

 

 

30-Day Song Challenge: Mwah!

*Howdy, Clicky… /pats snout… Last challenge today… /lights up… Let’s make it a goodun… /drags…*

mwah

*Indeed… /smokes…*

Welcome, Dear Reader to the final day of the LoL’s song challenge, embarked upon a month ago by myself and Cade Fon Apollyon, the Okie Devil of Text US…

*That’s right, Clicky. Not just Cade and me. Also Poppie Sweet Pea…*

Anglo American Celtic Viking Band 6

*And Leggy… /flicks ash… ‘Panoptica’ is coming along nicely, Clicky…*

*Aye… /deep drag…*

… For this last task, we will be presenting songs that remind us of ourselves…

*So is that me and you, me and Cade or Cade and you, Clicky?*

Whispers in ear

*I knew it!*

Enjoy! 😀

*******

Day 30: songs that reminds you of yourself

Cade’s first song pick…

8986e3ef82db7bee02ffe2bd5b1cade023917d52

This one is gonna be cake.

Everyone is invited for cake.

After 30 days of this, everyone is entitled to cake.

Put in the time = reap the rewards…of cake.

There will be no cake
^Bruno Mars – Locked Out Of Heaven (Official Video)^

Roob’s first song pick…

It wasn’t until very recently that it dawned on me that the initials of this song, spell out my name…

R.U.T.H. = Can be slow on the uptake

*Good fing I knock about with an Hillman eh, Clicky? …/blow smoke rings…*

Cade’s second song pick…

Before I get to the song that makes me think about me, prolly best for me to say thanks to Roob for enduring this. She’d had to jump through a lot of hoops over the past month, she was ill for a good portion of that time, I think part of her family was ill over the holidays, but she’s hung in there and gotten the job done. Also gotta make a note that it was great that others participated too. Always nice when others contribute, and good conversation is good. Ya’ll have submitted a lot of music that I’ve never heard before, and I likely never would have heard it had you not chimed in. From me, thanks.

For those unaware, I’ve been writing for and with Roob for 3 years now. We celebrated (with zero fanfare) our 3 year anniversary back in December, and it’s been hella fun. I’ve learned a lot from her. Nod to Legiron and CynaraeStMary for their friendship and mentoring as well.

^benny benassi feat. channing – come fly away^

Roob’s second song pick…

Back in the middle of 2012, when I first created my online avatar ‘RooBeeDoo2’ in order to join I.S.I.S, I was working in Construction Logistics as a Logistician’s Logistican. Frank and fellow I.S.I.S members started to addressed me as ‘Roobee’. Understandable really; RooBeeDoo2 is a bit of a mouthful…

Roobee = Ruby = Creative & Constructive

*The smokers’ universe is definitely blue… /plumes smoke…*

Cade’s third song pick…

mistycheeryimperatorangel-small

There’s nothing for me to plug here, I have nothing to gain by doing this, so I don’t feel entirely guilty for what I am about to do. However, music that makes me think about me, is music that I myself wrote and performed. Years were spent sitting alone in a room writing and playing music. I have a giant box filled with cassettes on which contain these efforts, hundred upon hundreds of songs and song ideas, and its unfortunate that many of the songs that I am thinking of right now I’ll not be able to share with you here. Just no way for me to share them at this time. However, I will share a something I don’t really expect anyone to listen to, but yeah…this shit right here, makes me, think about me.

BTW, if you have an urge to listen to what little I was able to transfer to digital from analog, there’s a playlist of various nonsense of mine from 1989-1992.

^Devil’s Work – Side: Fun – Tracks 1 & 2 (1991)^

Roob’s third song pick…

Back at the end of 2012, when I first started experiencing ‘syncs’, I started writing about them on MEROVEE. From the start, Frank and the fellow commentating Mero-VEEPs referred to me by the much simpler ‘Roob’…

Roob = Rube = Complicated but Fun

*/Final drag… Another reason why MEROVEE is the red universe… /stubs butt…*

The final word to Clicky…

^Kenny Lynch – up on the roof 1962^

*******

And that, Dear Reader, is that for the 30 day Song Challenge. We really hope you’ve enjoy spending time with us…

library card

*/Hand/fin slap… You can say that again, Clicky… /lights up…*

…Be sure to come back soon and, as always… Have a Song… ❤

^Madness – One Step Beyond (Official Video)^

 

 

 

30-Day Song Challenge: Listen!

everyone

*Alright… /wipes spittle flecks from face… No need to shout, Clicky…*

Dear Reader, the challenge for today is to persuade everyone to listen to the songs contained within this post. We have a song suggestion from Leggy…

*He’s posting the first draft of ‘Panoptica’ over at UBU… /lights up and smokes… Fuckin’ legend…*

… As well as from his hot, Danish crumpet, Poppy Sweet Pea…

loads of love big kiss

*Agreed. She is a such a sweetie…*

… And for today, Clicky will be joining Cade, below…

giphy

*Not only… /flicks ash… I’ve seen your solo posts, Clicky. You’ll be great…*

oldman elvis.gif

… So, pin your lugholes back and enjoy! 😀

*******

Day 23: songs everyone should listen to

Cade’s first song pick…

Day 23. Where are we? Airstrip One in Oceania? Is the year 1984? Is my name Winston Smith? Am I currently being imprisoned in the Ministry of Love by the Thought Police? Accused of thought crimes, covered in rats, and being re-educated so as to direct my affections toward the intangible Big Brother instead of the tangible Julia?

Should

  Shall

Must

Have To

Got To

Gotta

Dance

I’ve intercepted my own thought process(es), because I honestly cannot think of a single song that I think everyone should listen to.

^“Gotta Dance” — Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse, 1952^

Clicky’s first song pick…

^Head Over Heels^

Cade’s second song pick…

Music (to me) is about discovering how to explore freedom(s) that we as individuals may be fortunate enough to have. There are many people who cannot hear, or cannot hear well, and probably a lot of people in the world who do not have access to music and/or do not have access to mediums that allow them to listen to music. As a result, this pathway is kinda closed to a great many individuals. So for me to suggest that “everyone should” listen to a certain song is akin to saying everyone needs to go out and buy a radio. Or a CD player. Or a radio with a CD player in it. You need to accessorize in order to gain access to the magic I am about to demand you participate in. Engage the supply chains. Consume. Become one, with the one.

^Manufacture – World Control^

Clicky’s second song pick…

^The Police – Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic^

Cade’s third song pick…

My heart just isn’t in it today. Couldn’t think of anything yesterday, can’t think of anything today, and to top it all off, I learned yesterday that Neil Peart of Rush has died. Yeah, “The Professor” was one of the best rock drummers to date, he was an incredible percussionist and musician. But a lot of people don’t know that he was also the group’s lyricist, and is legendary for being an avid reader and literary enthusiast.

A modern day warrior
Mean, mean stride
Today’s Tom Sawyer
Mean, mean pride

Though his mind is not for rent
Don’t put him down as arrogant
His reserve, a quiet defense
Riding out the day’s events
The river

Rush – Tom Sawyer – From the album Moving Pictures

Pretty sure the first album of theirs that I heard in its entirety was A Farewell To Kings, and I likely first heard it in 1978. It has two of their most iconic songs in Xanadu and Closer To The Heart, the whole album is incredible, but for me, Cygnus X-1 Book 1: The Voyage is the song from that album that means the most to me personally. For those perhaps unaware, Cygnus X-1 is a Black Hole. I think it fair to say that the song(s) had quite the impact on my 10 year old mind.

Look, all I’m saying I guess is that I can’t think in totalitarian kinds of thought streams in the wake of learning that one of my biggest musical and lyrical influences/inspirations has passed. I don’t mind suggesting things for others to listen to, or sharing music that I like with others. But how you as an individual choose to exercise your freedom as to whether or not to listen? That’s your bag.

^Rush – YYZ Live (Rio)^

Clicky’s third song pick…

^Boston – More Than A Feeling (HQ)^

The final word to Clicky Roob…

Finally! I get to have the last word on one of these posts…

never surrender.gif

*Clicky…*

interrupting.gif

*Okay, fine… /stubs butt… Just post the song…*

^The Temptations – I can’t Get Next To You^

oldman churchill dancing

*******

Tomorrow’s challenge, will be to suggest songs from bands that we wish were still together…

darkest hour flame

*Quite so…*

… So if you have a burning suggestion for inclusion, Dear Reader, please let us know in the comments. In the meantime, have a Song… ❤

*/bops head to music… So what’s with all the Gary Oldman today, Clicky?*

seemed like good idea at the time

Story Time: Lust Christmas

Merry Christmas, Dear Reader 😀 If you didn’t find a copy of Underdog Anthology X in your stocking this morning, never fear – Leggy has been exceedingly generous and posted two of his stories from the volume up at UBU…

… and here is my offering, ‘Lust Christmas’. It’s follows on directly from ‘Secret of the Flaming Zombies‘ which appeared in Underdog Anthology IX, if you missed that.

Enjoy! 😀

*******

Lust Christmas

by Roo B. Doo

“Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.”

I glanced up from my phone and over at the hulking, leather-clad motorbike courier sharing my lift journey up to F. A. Kontrell’s offices, and wondered why in the hell he was talking to me. “Excuse me?”

“’And a taste of honey is worse than none at all‘,” he sang softly, scanning my face with an expectant look on his own. “’I Second That Emotion’ by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. I love Motown,” he added sheepishly.

The ancient mechanism of the painfully slow lift popped and wheezed, filling the silence that followed. Only one button was lit on the control panel, the one for the 5th floor, meaning the courier was going all the way up. Just my fucking luck.

“Sorry, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I told him curtly and turned to face the doors. I hoped that would put an end to the uninvited conversation but my luck that morning, just like my luck all year, was seriously flawed.

“You were singing it.”

“No I wasn’t.”

“Yes you were, I heard you.”

“Doubtful. I hate Motown.”

The lift suddenly stopped with a jolt and shuddering rattle. The control panel displayed the number 3, but the doors remained firmly closed. I reached over and hit the ‘open door’ button several times to no avail. “Shit, we’re stuck.”

I sighed and hit the office number on my mobile, fully expecting to hear the dulcet tones of Shazza answer, and mentally shuddered.

Ian, the ex-apprentice and now general admin clerk, politely greeted me instead. “Good morning. F.A. Kontrell. How may I direct your call?”

“Hi Ian, it’s Harry. Where’s Shazza?”

“Decorating the tree.”

“Again?”

Typical! I fumed. The one area F.A. Kontrell’s mostly useless receptionist excelled in was finding things to do other than her actual job. She must have dressed and redressed the office Christmas tree half a dozen times since she put it up. Christmas was the apex of Shazza’s shirking year.

“Ian, the lift has broken down on the third floor. Call Building Maintenance to get us out.”

“Should I call the Fire Brigade?” he asked anxiously.

“No-” I was cut off by a blast of music; Ian had put me on hold. I wrenched the phone away from my ear. “Bastard!”

“Ride of the Valkyries.”

I’d quite forgotten about my fellow lift captive. “What?”

“Wagner, from ‘The Ring Cycle’. I like opera, too.” The courier placed the motorcycle helmet he’d been carrying on the floor and started to unzip his bulky jacket. He reached inside. “Very rousing although I personally wouldn’t recommend it for telephone hold music,” he said menacingly and brandished a screwdriver with a flourish, holding it out in front of him. “Very rousing.”

“Hello Harry?” The anthem celebrating mythical meaty wenches was suddenly replaced with the sound of an all too real one. She could barely keep the glee out of her voice. “It’s Shazza. Are you stuck on three?”

My eyes had not left the screwdriver held aloft by the grinning imbecile that I’d found myself trapped alone with. “Hello Shazza. Yes, can you call Building Maintenance and 999? We might need an ambulance.”

“Gotcha!” The courier burst out laughing. “Don’t be daft. I’m gonna try and prise the doors open. If we’re stuck on third, we could just walk out.” With that he started to jimmy the lift doors open.

“Why do you want an ambulance? Harry? Is everything okay?”

As much as I didn’t appreciate being the butt of the courier’s prank, I was fully compensated by the unexpected sound of concern in Shazza’s voice. The lazy, sneering cow rarely showed me anything other than contempt; I was touched. “Yeah, it’s okay. Forget the ambulance, just call Building Maintenance. And let Mr Kontrell know I’ll be late.

“Wait, Harry I need to talk to you.”

“What, now?”

“It’s not like you’re going anywhere.”

BAM! Shazza’s contempt was back. It didn’t help that the courier had started whistling ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ as he worked the screwdriver from side to side, trying to separate the lift doors. I suspected he heard every word the gobby cow said.

“What do you want?” I asked crisply. “But, if it has anything to do with Christmas, Christmas parties, Christmas trees, Christmas anything, Shazza, including Secret Santa, then no, you definitely do not need to talk to me. Well?”

Silence. Argh, I knew it!

“Call Building Maintenance.” I ended the call and turned my attention to the courier. “Is it working? Are we going to escape?”

The courier had managed to prise the doors apart. Light from the lift lobby on the third floor illuminated our feet. The wretched contraption had passed the third floor and was on its way to the fourth when it decided to give up the ghost. There was no way either of us would be able to fit through the six inch gap between the lift floor and third floor ceiling; we were there for the duration.

My mobile rang. I lifted my palm up at the courier before he could speak. “’Always Look On the Bright Side of Life’, from Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’. Eric Idle. I chose this ringtone.”

He looked disappointed.

“Hello,” I answered.

“Harry, it’s me. Are you alright?” the Fat Kontroller barked down the line. “Shazza says you’re stuck in the lift.”

“Yeah, stuck on three.” I could hear Shazza’s muffled snigger in the background.

“Actually we’re stuck between third and fourth. Has Sharon called Building Maintenance yet, Mr Kontrell?”

I heard the Fat Kontroller ask Shazza, followed by a pause. “Well, get on with it then,” he said gruffly. “Hello, yes, Harry, Shazza is calling them now.”

I bloody knew it!

“Well, we’ve got the doors open but there’s no way we’ll be able to get through the gap,” I told my boss. I slid down the wall of the lift into a comfortable crouch; the courier had already sat down, legs out straight. “I’m not in here alone. I’m with…” I indicated to the courier to give me his name.

“Brian.”

“Oh, Brian, I’m sorry for cutting you off on my ringtone. That must be your song.”

Brian shrugged. “My mum loved that film.”

“I’m in here with Brian from…” I checked the logo on his helmet. “Speedy Couriers. He’s also going to the 5th floor, so there might be something on reception that needs delivering.”

“I’ll get Shazza on to that, too. Don’t worry, Harry. I’m sure Charlie and his mop will have you out in no time.”

Great! I’m gonna be here all day, I thought sourly.

The Fat Kontroller wasn’t finished. “I do need to speak to you about the Christmas party tonight.”

Arghhh! Why? Why, God, why?

“Sure, Mr Kontrell,” I said sweetly and rolled my eyes. “Sup?”

“It’s the numbers, Harry,” the Fat Kontroller said gravely. “Pamela in Payroll has called in sick and so you’ll be down a team member for the quiz.”

Seriously? This is what’s so important?

“Well, I’m sure me and Lol can cope on our own,” I assured the Fat Kontroller. This year, instead of the usual sit down dinner and dance, the Christmas party would be held in the top floor, private room of O’Reilly’s pub on the High Street. Chicken in basket, burgers and chips, oodles of booze and a Christmas quiz. My best friend Lol had been invited, courtesy of his being the local branch manager for the blood suckers F.A. Kontrell banked with.

“No, it’s teams of three. It’s all arranged, Harry. Shazza and I have worked hard at putting this quiz together.”

No shit, you have! For the last month, during any spare moment he had, the Fat Kontroller had poured over quiz formats and questions with Shazza. I couldn’t fathom what hold that girl had over my boss, but I was dubious of it being due to her work ethic. More likely it was her voluptuous chest; Shazza had more front than Selfridges and didn’t mind displaying it.

“Okay.” I felt exasperated and I was acutely conscious that I wasn’t alone; Brian caught me looking at him and grinned. I gratefully took a Polo from the proffered packet he held out, and crunched down on the mint with my teeth. Hard. “So what do you want me to do?”

“Is there someone you could bring along tonight to be part of your threesome?” the Fat Kontroller asked.

I thudded the back of head against the wall of the lift. And then I did it again. Thud.

“Harry?”

Thud.

“Harry, what’s that thudding?”

Thud. I was trying to beat out a nasty little thought that had popped into my head about Shazza’s sudden fondness for the number three.

“Nothing. Um, I’m not sure. It’s a bit short notice, Mr Kontrell, and I am presently stuck in a lift.” I looked over at my lift companion. He’d put in earphones and was bobbing his head in time to what I strongly suspected wasn’t Wagner. I had an idea. “What kind of questions are there going to be tonight?”

“Oh well, not to give anything away,” the Fat Kontroller said brightly, “but there will be a mixture. General knowledge, TV, film, music-”

“Music?” Bingo! “Hang on a sec.”

I grabbed the toe of Brian’s biker boot and waggled it to get his attention. “Hey, Brian. Are you free tonight? Wanna party?”

***

lust christmas phone message 1

***

“Cooee! Would anybody like some tea?”

The cavalry had arrived. Through the gap onto the outside world I watched them approach the lift. Shazza, dressed in some sort of crocheted tent, blazed the way and Ian, carrying two mugs of tea, loped along behind. It was uncanny, but from this angle they looked exactly like Laurel and Hardy, if Oliver Hardy had been a porn star and Stan Laurel six foot three.

“You alright?” Ian’s spotty face appeared in the gap. “Got you some tea,” he said, placing the two mugs on the floor of the lift. Mine looked like a distinctly milky and tepid brew. Ian may have brought me tea but I’d bet any money that Shazza had made it.

“Thank you very much,” Brian said, lifting his steaming mug to his lips. “I’m Brian.”

“I’m Shazza.” A pudgy arm and hand popped up into the gap, fingers wiggling.

Brian put down his tea and grabbed Shazza’s hand. He shook it and didn’t let go. “Well hello,” he purred seductively. He peered down through the gap, transfixed. No doubt by Shazza’s ample bosom.

Shazza giggled and simpered; I felt the gorge rise.

“Hello Ian, I’m Harry. Please tell me Building Maintenance is on its way.”

“No, Charlie’s sent for an engineer,” Ian said, sidling toward me, and providing Shazza with more room to show off her cleavage to Brian.

What? “And how long before the engineer gets here?”

“Sometime this morning,” Ian replied with a shrug. “Hopefully.”

“Hopefully?” I sighed loudly but inside I screamed: What do you mean ‘hopefully’, you lanky streak of grease? Don’t give me fucking ‘hopefully’! “They couldn’t be more precise than that? An hour? Two hours?”

“No, sorry.” At least Ian had the good grace to sound apologetic. Shazza on the other hand was, well, Shazza.

“Oh Harry, don’t be such a grouch,” she called up coquettishly. “At least you get to spend the morning in the company of such a charming man.”

Brian finally his tore his gaze away from the gap and turned toward me with a sloppy grin on his face. “This Charming Man. The Smiths.”

I had another idea. Being stuck in a confined space with a stranger was conducive for them apparently. “Not only this morning, Shazza, but this evening as well. Brian’s coming to the quiz tonight.” I paused for effect. “He’s gonna join Lol and mine’s threesome.”

Shazza’s sudden bout of coughing told me what I needed to know; someone had snitched! Inside, my scream turned into a raging roar: LOL!!

I got down on all fours to watch Shazza’s coughing fit with a cold stare. She was bent over, hacking into her hand and turning puce. You spluttering, heaving blob of nastiness, I thought. Please choke.

“Here, Ian, give her this.” I grabbed my mug of undrinkable tea and passed it through the gap. Unfortunately for Shazza, my right knee buckled at that precise moment – in no doubt due to the cramped nature of the circumstances – and the mug accidentally slipped from my hand, sending a milky wave of lukewarm tea in Shazza’s direction. She was soaked. On the plus side, the shock stopped her coughing. “Oh no, Shazza, I’m so sorry. Thank goodness it wasn’t hot.”

Shazza screeched like a demented dolphin and stomped away in the direction of the stairs. Ian chased after her, forlornly calling her name.

My mobile sprang into life. ‘Always look on the bright side of life!’

I whistled along to the song before answering. “Hello, Lol. No, no I can’t talk right now. I’ll text you. Yes, shortly. Bye.”

“You did that on purpose,” Brian said with a shrewd squint.

“What? Do you mean like you with the screwdriver?” I replied innocently. “Where you do rousing, I do dousing?”

Brian laughed and shook his head. “Gotcha. Still, that Shazza’s alright,” he said, taking a mouthful of tea.

“If you like that sort of thing, sure. You’re uniquely fortunate, Brian, to have seen Shazza’s two best features today.”

Brian leered. “Yeah.”

“Oh no, her tits are only her second best feature,” I corrected him.

He looked confused. “What’s the first?”

By now my attention was firmly fixed upon my phone, thumbs moving rapidly over the screen as I texted Lol. “Why, the back of Shazza, of course.”

***

lust christmas phone message 2

***

To give Charlie and his mop their due, the lift engineer arrived fairly promptly, and by mid-morning Brian and I had been released from our unexpected captivity. Brian collected the package he came for and went on his way, but not before agreeing to meet Lol and me at our favourite watering hole for a pre-quiz conflab. Shazza, it appeared, had gone home to change and had not come back, so all in all, my day was picking up.

Brian was already at Dionysus, leaning against the bar and grinning inanely at the barmaid when we arrived at six thirty. I couldn’t blame him; Laticia was as graceful as she was statuesque and I’d spent plenty of time grinning at her inanely myself. However Laticia was also married, to a powerlifter, and I’d already experienced the downside of messing with the girl of someone who lifted weights; it was not one I wished to repeat. Ever.

“I thought you said he was butch,” Lol whispered to me after introductions had been made. We’d adjourned to our favourite table and Brian had gone to relieve his bladder. “More like butcher the way he was drooling over the Laticia’s rack.”

“Oh, you should have seen him with Shazza this morning. Ugh! Sorry if I got your hopes up.” I wasn’t sorry; Lol was my best friend in all the world and I loved him to pieces, but he was still under suspicion. Somebody had blabbed to Shazza, I just didn’t know who.

“Are you absolutely sure she knows about what happened?” Lol sipped on his mulled wine and gave me his best bank manager stare. “It seems to me that if Shazza did know that you’d deflowered the HR Manager with a client last Christmas, the whole office would know about it by now, if not, the whole town. Certainly Facebook.”

Lol had a point. And it was a comforting one up to a point, but he didn’t know F.A. Kontrell’s receptionist like I did. Shazza tested my fences on a daily basis, looking for weak spots, like the velociraptor she is. “Not if she’d only recently found out.”

Lol looked at me sceptically.

“I’m telling you Lol, you weren’t there. I’ve developed a sixth sense when it comes to Shazza. She knows alright.”

“And you’re quite certain it isn’t just your guilty conscience at play, Harry?”

“How’d you mean?”

Lol took a deep breath and levelled his gaze at me. “Well, you and Dana did conspire to get Josie into bed. Sweet, innocent Josie that you’d lusted after for three years. But once you did, Josie left. Quite literally, she left the country.”

Lol’s words were like a sock to the jaw. Not a day had passed without me beating myself up over what had happened, what I’d gained and what I’d lost. I’d strived to know Josie’s secret contours and spaces. I might never of found out that Josie tasted just as sweet as I’d imagined without the intervention of Dana’s sassy know how, but then at least Josie would still be in my life. I missed everything about her – her laugh, her grace, her kindness – and life, at work in particular, had been unbearable ever since.

“So it’s just my imagination?”

Running away with me.” Click: Brian snapped his fingers.

Both Lol and I jumped. Neither of us had heard Brian return from the toilet. He sat down and drained his cup of mulled wine. “Eh? The Temptations. Do we have time for another?”

“Brian is a bit of an idiot savant when it comes to Motown,” I informed Lol, standing up. “I’ll get them. You two get acquainted. I have to pee.”

The bar was starting to fill up when I returned from the ladies, so I pondered Lol’s theory further as I waited to get Laticia’s attention. Had I simply conjured the threat of exposure because I carried a guilty conscience about the whole affair, and feared exposure? It was a perfectly plausible explanation on the surface, but underneath, in my gut, I knew Lol was wrong and I was right. I hadn’t imagined Shazza’s violent triggering at the word ‘threesome’, or her sudden fascination for the number three. Too many coincidences and I don’t believe in those.

“Hi Harry. Same again?” Laticia asked vivaciously.

“Thanks Lat, yes please.”

Laticia twirled away toward the electric urn set up at the back of the bar and grabbed three wine cups. “Nice to see you again, Harry,” she said adding cinnamon sticks and orange twists to the cups, and drowning them in hot, red wine. “You’ve not been in for a while.”

“No, I’ve been really busy at work. Did I miss anything?”

Laticia brought the brimming cups over to the bar. “Um, not much. Oh, Tracy’s gone. Fired. Do you want a tray for those?”

“Yes please.” I was nonplussed; I couldn’t remember who Tracy was.

Laticia read the blank expression on my face. “Oh, she wasn’t with us for very long. That’ll be seven fifty please.”

Tracy? Tracy? Why is that ringing a bell? I wondered, handing over a crisp twenty pound note. “Dark hair, too much make-up? A bit full of herself? Terrible waitress.”

“Yeah, she was awful. We’re well rid. I thought you knew her better.”

“No. Why would I know her better? I can barely remember who she is.”

Laticia rung up the sale and returned with my change. “Don’t you work with her sister Sharon? At least that’s what Tracy told me.”

Shazza? Is terrible Tracy Shazza’s sister?! She must have overheard me brag the whole sordid tale to Lol in here on Halloween?

Cold realisation chilled my heart and burned my cheeks. My fingers clutched at the marble top bar and dug in. “Lat, was Tracy working on Halloween?”

“Of course. You asked if you’d missed anything since the last time you were in,” Laticia chided me softly. “You were really pissed that night, Harry. I’ve never anyone put away as many Flaming Zombies as you two did.” She laughed softly at the memory and raised her eyebrows. “Your change?”

This must be what ambivalence feels like, I told myself. Relief at being vindicated – Shazza did know – and crushing disappointment. Someone had indeed blabbed, and that someone was me!!

“Thanks Lat, keep it. Merry Christmas.”

I returned to Lol and Brian carefully, who seemed to be getting on like a house on fire. My hands were shaking so that the cups rattled and tinkled together with every step.

Brian jumped up as he heard me approach and relieved me of the tray. “Watch out, I’ve already seen what Harry’s capable of with a full cup.”

“Thanks, Brian.” I leaned over and whispered in Lol’s ear as I sat down. “I know how Shazza knows.” I ignored Lol’s questioning look in return.

“Brian, pop quiz,” I announced gaily. “Who sang ‘Red, Red Wine’?”

“Neil Diamond.”

Now it was my turn to look quizzical. “Did he?”

“Yeah, 1967,” Brian replied and furrowed his brow. “Are you thinking of UB40? That’s too easy.”

Yeah, too easy to lose my job over this whole sorry mess, I thought bitterly. I needed to speak to Lol. Alone.

“Laticia behind the bar asked that we return the tray. Do you mind? I think she fancies you,” I lied.

“Really?” Brian and Lol said in unison, Lol sounding more sceptical than Brian.

“Yes, really.” I shooed Brian off in the direction of the bar and turned to Lol once he was out of earshot. “Do you remember a barmaid who worked here called Tracy?” I asked Lol.

“Tracy doesn’t work here any more?”

“You remember her?”

Lol cleared his throat and drank some wine. “She gave me her number.”

“No? When?”

“A few weeks back, just before Halloween.” Lol shrugged.

“And how did she take the rejection?”

“Badly,” Lol said with a grimace. To be fair, Tracy wasn’t the first woman to not realise that beneath Lol’s suave and debonair exterior beat the heart of a raging queer. Lol hid his sexual proclivity so well, and was so practised at it, that I very much doubted she would be the last.

I took a gulp of wine. “Well, Tracy also happens to be Shazza’s sister and she was working here on Halloween. She must of heard me spilling my guts to you and then spilled hers to Shazza.”

“Now hold on, Harry.” Lol squeezed my knee to calm me down. “You don’t know anything. Did Tracy know you work with Shazza?”

My eyes flicked toward the bar. Brian was ambling back with a confused look on his face. “According to Laticia, yes.”

“Oh.”

I shushed Lol before Brian returned to his seat. “Any luck, Brian?”

“The barmaid says she’s married.”

“Is she?”

“And a lesbian.”

“Oh too bad,” I commiserated. “Come on, drink up. We need to get moving or we’ll miss the start of the quiz.”

Brian still looked bemused. “You thought she fancied me, but it turns out she’s gay,” he said and drained his wine cup in one. He wiped his lips with the back of his hand. “Is it ‘I heard it through the grapevine’?” he said with a smirk.

“Oh, Brian, you got me.” I beamed at him and finished my cup.

Lol clapped him on the shoulder. “Oh, Brian, you don’t know the half of it.”

***

Any worries I had that Shazza knew my tawdry secret and planned to make my evening as uncomfortable as possible were not lessened on spotting the imposing figure stationed by the stairs at O’Reilly’s. “Oh fuck, it’s Alfie!” I hissed at Lol.

Alfie was Josie’s ex-boyfriend and the brute that had put me in hospital a couple of Christmases before, when he’d caught me trying seduce his girl by exploiting her weakness for chocolate. Built like a brick shithouse, it would not have surprised me if that was also his middle name.

Shazza had once tried, unsuccessfully, to publicly humiliate me about the incident with Josie and the chocolate fountain that I’ve bought for her as a Secret Santa gift. In hiring the venue where Alfie worked for her ‘threesome’ quiz office party, it looked as if my suspicion of Shazza’s evil intentions was well founded. She was nothing if not a loathsome creature of habit.

Lol took the lead. “Good evening,” he greeted Alfie politely, ignoring his menacing stare. “We’re for the F.A. Kontrell private party upstairs.”

Alfie produced a clipboard from behind his back. “Names,” he ordered officiously.

“Lol Williams, Harry Egg and Brian…” Lol looked back at our teammate, who was already bopping his head to the beat of the music coming from the downstairs bar. “Brian, what’s your surname?”

“Epstein,” Brian replied helpfully.

Seriously? “Your name’s Brian Epstein?” I asked him incredulously. “Did you mum really love The Beatles as well?”

“No, but I do.” Brian smiled. “It could have been worse. Dad wanted to call me Jeffrey.”

Whether that was true or not, I didn’t know but I laughed out loud. My unexpected guffaw loosened the tight knot in my stomach, but earned a fierce stare from Alfie in return. Emboldened by the release of tension, I stared back until his eyes dropped back toward the clipboard. He looked it up and down nonchalantly, taking his time and noisily sucking his lips. Eventually stood aside to let us pass.

Gandalf, eat your heart out, I thought happily and skipped up the stairs, and straight into the back of Lol. “What’s up?”

Lol stood stock still at the entrance to the private room. “You’re not gonna believe this.”

I peered round from behind him at the scene ahead: the majority of my work colleagues – or the FAKkers, as I fondly refer to them – were already sat at tables arranged for the start of the quiz, chatting excitedly. At one end of the room, an empty stage had been set up with a mic stand and speakers, the traditional pile of Secret Santa gifts set off to one side, and at the other end, there was a fully stocked bar. I followed Lol’s stare toward the bar and saw the Fat Kontroller sat at one end of it, with Shazza next to him draped along it, dressed that looked like little more than a bag of tinsel. And then I saw the barmaid she was chatting to. Dark hair, too much make-up and with the appearance of being rather too full of herself; the resemblance was uncanny. Tracy!

“What’s the hold up?” Brian asked, having caught up. He was already unzipping his anorak and surveying the room. “Is that Shazza? Free bar, is it?”

“Yes, go ahead,” I said hoarsely and ushered him past. He practically galloped off in the direction of my office nemesis. My life has degenerated into a Viz comic strip, I thought bitterly. To be brought down by The Fat Slags would be a new low.

I grabbed Lol’s arm and held him back. “What excuse did you give to Tracy when she asked you out? You didn’t tell her the truth?”

Lol swallowed hard and gave me a wan smile. “Mostly the truth. Not that I’m a friend of Dorothy’s, if that’s what you mean.”

“Then what?” Brian had reached the bar and our absence had been finally noted. I saw the Fat Kontroller shake his hand and start to scan the room.

“That I’m a friend of Harry’s and that I’m deeply in love with her.”

“Oh, Lol, you’re too sweet.” I gave my best friend forever a hug and kissed him on the lips. “You’re also full of shit, but I love you deeply, too.”

“Harry. Lol. You’re late.” The Fat Kontroller’s voice boomed out from the the speakers. All eyes in the room turn toward us. “Well, don’t just stand there. Come and get a drink, we’re about to start the quiz.”

I hesitated. I could feel the fugly sisters’ beady eyes looking in my direction.

“Seriously, H, who cares what Shazza thinks she knows. I won’t let her hurt you,” Lol said softly and grabbed my hand. He led me toward the bar. “Besides, you know Shazza; whatever she’s got planned, she’s bound to fuck it up.”

He has a point, I thought. She is a loathsome creature of habit.

“Harry,” the Fat Kontroller gesticulated to the microphone in his hand, “I want you to get me one of these for the office. It suits my voice, don’t you think?”

“Mr K, you already have more than enough gravitas,” I said silkily and kissed his cheek. “Do you want to make us all deaf?”

The Fat Kontroller appeared to give the question some consideration. “Probably not,” he replied wistfully.

I watched Lol greet Tracy like the lost love of his life as he ordered our drinks. He caught me staring and nodded toward Brian, who was revelling in Shazza’s rapt attention. As nauseating as it was to see, at least Shazza had quite forgotten about me. Lol winked at me before turning back to flirt with the barmaid some more.

“Okay, Harry?” the Fat Kontroller asked mischievously into the mic.

The heads of my fellow FAKkers craned round once more in my direction.

I took the mic from the Fat Kontroller grasp and linked my arm with his, leading him toward the stage. I replied into the mic, “Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends.”

In the distance, I heard Brian laugh.

***

lust christmas phone message 3

*******

Clicky, Cade and I will be back later this evening, Dear Reader, with ‘songs about drugs or alcohol’, Day 8 of our mammoth 30 Day Song Challenge. I’m off the research the topic now, so have some Christmas cheer ❤

30-Day Song Challenge: Dance!

*/sings… ‘Now I gotta cut loose. Footloose, kick off the Sunday shoes…’ /sighs… How brilliant of Poppy Sweet Pea to shoes the perfect song to start this post with, Clicky? I am truly blessed…*

Happy Monday, Dear Reader…

*Heh. The first of four Mondays in this challenge, Clicky 😉 *

… You join us on Day Six of the LoL’s 30 day song challenge and, boy, do we have some songs that will make you want to dance. Cade’s picked a belter to start, so I shan’t delay you further. Just enjoy and… Have a dance ❤

*******

Day 6: A song that makes you want to dance

Cade’s first song pick…

Oy vey. This may sound petty, but I need to know…am I dancing alone, or with someone? Some stuff you can dance to alone, and some stuff, it just can’t be done. Seeing as how I love to dance, doesn’t really bother me to dance alone, and most of the clubs I used to go to, pretty much everyone danced alone. Yeah, you were always on the lookout for a gal to dance with, but getting rebuffed wasn’t the end of the world. All that said, prolly best to start off with a song that can handle both solo and paired dancing.

NOTE: If you are fortunate enough to have a gal dancing with you to this tune, it’s a damn fine tune to do some grinding to. Just might wanna ensure that’s kosher with her before attempting it.

^Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock – It Takes Two^

Roob’s first song pick…

I don’t want to harp on about it, but a lot of my song choices in this challenge so far have been selected from the 1984 vintage, and my first song pick today is no exception…

^Chaka Khan – I Feel For You (Extended 12 Inch Remix Edit) [1984]^

Cade’s second song pick…

Was quite something to be in a club with a large dance floor when this next tune came across the speakers. The dance floor would immediately be flooded, and the whole floor had this strange fluidity to it. Something unique about this song was that very few people would be dancing the same way, but the whole floor seemed to still be moving in unison as if they were. Had a way of locking everyone in to a certain rhythm that synced with everyone else, irrespective of what you or anyone else was doing. Was always quite the something to see and be a part of.

Occasionally some of the “better” dancers would try and hijack the floor when this song came on so they could do some routine they’d been practicing all week. But usually (and luckily) the DJ would change the tune when they did that. The whole club would groan in unison that the music had stopped, the “star dancers” became heels, and everyone cheered and clapped as they retreated.

^Doug E Fresh & Slick Rick-The Show^

Roob’s second song pick…

☠ PELIGRO ☠

!!! WHATEVER YOU DO...DO NOT CLICK THIS LINK !!!

☠ SERIAMENTE ☠

rebuked

*Yeah, I did… /snickers… Cade won’t mind me borrowing, Clicky… /grins… Have you seen what’s coming?*

Cade’s third song pick…

Have hit a wall here…literally. It just occurred to me that while songs like ‘Nemesis‘ by Shriekback or ‘Today I Started Slogging Again‘ by Foetus could pack them on the dance floor, nothing will completely and totally empty the dance floor of chicks faster than ‘Institutionalized‘ by Suicidal Tendencies coming across the sound system. That meant only one thing…the boys were about to beat the fuck out of each other slamming and/or slam dancing. You lurk during the slow parts, then start getting pushy and start shoving others as the tempo builds, then go bat shit during the fast part.

Now, a lot of people, even the girls, would get a little physical and bumpy/pushy during ‘You Spin Me Round‘ by Dead Or Alive, but that song wouldn’t create a mosh pit like the aforementioned tune would. And come to think of it, the girls would also get pushy during ‘Love Missle F1-11‘ by Sigue Sigue Sputnik, ‘Dancing With Myself‘ by Billy Idol, and they’d even get quasi-violent during songs like ‘Never Say Never‘ by Romeo Void.

What does all that have to do with a single song by Suicidal Tendencies? Welp, once you clear the dance floor, you gotta deal with that resonance change in the atmosphere of the club, and you gotta get everyone back together on a the dance floor. One sure-fire way to do that? You could maybe try ‘Rigor Mortis‘ by A Split Second, ‘What Have You Done For Me Lately‘ by Janet Jackson, ‘Master And Servant‘ by Depeche Mode, ‘Word Up‘ by Cameo, ‘A To Z‘ by ABC, ‘I Touch Roses‘ by Book Of Love, ‘Oh Yeah‘ by Yello, or maybe even ‘Headhunter‘ by Front 242.

Me? I’d suggest that you go nowhere.

^Vicious Pink – 8.15 To Nowhere, original version HD^

Roob’s third song pick…

This song makes me want to dance. Simple as…

^Deee-Lite – Groove Is In The Heart (Official Video)^

The final word from Cade…

I don’t think it fair that I get away before giving a nod to some slow dancing kinds of tunes. Stuff like True by Spandau Ballet, ‘No One Is To Blame‘ by Howard Jones, ‘Let Me Love You Down‘ by Ready For The World, ‘Holding Back The Years‘ by Simply Red, ‘Drive‘ by The Cars, or maybe even a more up-tempo snuggle song like ‘Hold Me Now‘ by Thompson Twins, or ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over‘ by Crowded House. But this final selection of mine, in my experience anyway, works well for dancing with a partner in just about any and every way you can imagine. Probably helps if you both really like the song. Likely also to help if you both enjoy rubbing navels with each other.

^Nu Shooz – I can’t wait (Extended) [HQ]^
source
Heh...heh...heH!

Bet you thought my bullshit on the topic of dancing would be chock-full-o-deadmau5

!Heh...heh...heH
^deadmau5 “Lack of a Better Name”^
source-1
I can do this all day baby
^Caravan Palace – Dramophone^
With the right partner, can prolly go all night too

giphy
^Jack Hylton – Breakaway (Shemian Remix)^
tumblr_nztv3g5qp81u8qr43o1_1280I'm done
^Gary Beck – Say What (Adam Beyer Remix) [SAVED RECORDS]^

*******

Phew! We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s dancing songs post, Dear Reader. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and we’ll be suggesting some tunes to drive to…

santa driving sleigh

*I wonder what he listens to, Clicky. Jingle Bells, presumably…*

Until then, we leave you with the song that apparently gets my publisher, co-editor and good friend, Leggy up and dancing… 😉

*/lights up and smokes… I guess the Underdog Anthologies are kinda gangnam, Clicky…*