Friday, June 18, 2010

#fridayflash~The Excitable Whipping Boy

The Excitable Whipping Boy

Simon Cunningham, according to his neighbours, was an excitable boy prone to acting on the urges that frequently popped into his large head. His mother, Vanessa, insisted she was doing her best to raise the feisty lad on her own. The neighbours, however, had a different opinion.

The boy had been the bane of the housing scheme ever since he could propel himself forth. When asked, several of the Cunningham’s neighbours gladly related their experiences with Simon.

Elderly Olivia Deacon recalled, ten years earlier, when the barefoot, dirty-faced toddler waddled on chubby legs to her patio area in the open courtyard. He grabbed her wrought-iron table for support and toppled her glass of red wine onto her knitting. “That youngster has the face of an angel, but the devil must have beat him with a cloven hoof,” she lamented, sipping her Chablis.

Walter Natyshyn often related the story, to whoever would listen, of washing his cherry-red Mustang in the parking lot out front of the row housing. He knew the youngster was about on account of the scent of shitty diapers was in the air. He spotted two ragged scratches down the quarter panel and door of his treasure and there was Simon close by, clutching a jagged stone in each hand.

Several neighbours told Vanessa she should take the boy to the doctor and have him looked at. Perhaps there was a pill or salve or suppository that could help set Simon straight.

“Nonsense! The lad’s a wee bit precocious, is all,” she exclaimed. “In fact he’s much like his father was at that age…and look at how he turned out.”

Simon’s father, William Cunningham, hadn’t been seen about the complex since the boy was a baby. He was serving time in a minimum security prison for white-collar crime involving an intricate pyramid scheme, a few million dollars and a dozen gullible investors. Vanessa was often heard to say, “Simon’s dad will be back home soon. The boy is just needin’ a male influence to set him to rights.”

The most regular male influence in the boy’s life was Vanessa’s brother, Dudley. When he wasn’t river rafting in the Canadian wilds or seeking spiritual guidance at an ashram in India he was staying with his sister and Simon. A man full of life and high spirits, Dudley would stay out at the local pub until closing and then sleep until 3 or 4 the following afternoon. During summer break, while his mother worked at the Discount Food store, Simon had unlimited freedom until his uncle finally arose.

Simon thought, one afternoon, it would be a grand adventure to remove the hand-knotted leather, whip from his uncle’s footlocker in the basement. He easily found it lying on top a stack of magazines with naked lady pictures. He put on his uncle’s brown fedora, canvas satchel and leather belt. The hat smelled like cigarettes and old sick but that didn’t bother Simon in the least. He carried the whip to the back courtyard to play with for a while.

Simon swung the whip at the willows; the leaves shimmered to the browning lawn. He also whipped the cherry tree; blossoms rained to the ground in pink tears. He eventually chased after a cat to protect the birds, and then tried to whip the birds just to see if he could hit one. Eventually, though, the birds and cats stayed away and Simon began to whip the fence at the far end of the field that lay beyond the courtyard. He couldn’t see the dog in the yard but heard it barking at him and scratching and bouncing off the fence in frustration.

The lady in the yard shouted at him to leave the dog alone. “I’m Indiana Jones. Don’t fuck with me!” Simon shouted as loud as he could. He laughed at the woman and continued to whip the fence.

There was a loud ‘snick’ and a gate in the fence silently swung inwards a few yards away from him. A wiry, brown terrier trotted into the open field. The dog slowly crept in his direction, showing its teeth and trembling in anger.

Simon tried to whip the dog but it continued towards him, the hair on its neck standing on end. He tried hitting it in an arcing motion only to have the long whip wrap about his left leg with a stinging slap. Tears fell from his eyes and he started to run back to the courtyard. Simon tripped over the whip and fell into a mud puddle. The dog ripped at the back of his pants, tearing away material to expose white briefs and eventually whiter butt cheek. The boy screamed in terror and embarrassment and neighbours emerged from their back porches to investigate the ruckus. There was some amused conversation between the gathering crowd when it became evident that Simon was the victim of the dog’s wrath. Some openly cheered for the dog.

The terrier eventually tired of the game and lifted his leg and peed on the muddy boy. It then turned its back to the boy and kicked tufts of grass on to his back before trotting to his home through the open gate.

28 comments:

Erin Cole said...

I didn't expect the terrier had it in him! Apparently he was no one to f*ck with either;)
I found this highly entertaining and amusing, Alan, and maybe that picture went a little too well with it.

Anton Gully said...

Nice work Al! Your dialogue is one of your strongest points now. Remember how you felt at the start? Aced.

Oh and a-whoo... werewolves of London!!!

I love Warren Zevon.

Mark Kerstetter said...

"Well he's just an excitable boy they all said." When I saw your title I thought of that song (apparently someone else did too), which I've always loved.

I thought the poor kid was going to get ripped to shreds. Maybe the dog was very well trained....

Anton Gully said...

Not someone, me. I have a name, use it.

The hard part with staging an Indy photo shoot is capturing a child and rearing it until it will accept you as its master.

Laura Eno said...

This was a great start to your autobiography! Is that why you had to move away from Scotland?

Bukowski's Basement said...

Ah man ... I kinda felt bad for Simon ... Um... maybe because I have a rambunctious boy of my own ;)

Well-written, Alan...

David Barber said...

Loved this, Alan. Well written, with some great humour and the perfect ending. Well done, mate.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Erin- I'm glad you liked the story. The terrier was probably fed raw steak since he was a puppy. I searched for a photo after finishing the story, then changed one or two things to suit the photo.

Anton- I'm glad you think my diaglogue has improved. The Zevon reference was purely accidental.

Mark- As noted by 'he who shall not be named', I hadn't thought of the song when writing it. Yep, the dog showed admirable restraint...

Mr. Hyde: Perhaps Mark was confused because your name changes from time to time.

Laura- Autobiography? I was a co-operative angel as a child. Just ask my mum. I left Scotland on account of the cuisine there. Thanks, kindly, for the story idea yesterday!

Anthony- Thanks, Ant. Let's hope your boy is a bit more sedate. No whips in the house. Though the costumes may lead to a career on the stage...

David- Glad you liked it, David. The humour takes a lot of work as I'm not naturally funny. Though I'm trying to keep a sense of humour with the World Cup picks in my pool falling apart...

John Wiswell said...

Like Mark, I was surprised he wasn't mauled. Angry dogs seldom stop after a mouthful of trousers. I also hate children, so that biased me.

Valerie said...

Hah! He might have deserved a bit more than he got, but all the same, nothing like bare butt cheek to put a little humility in a young jerk. Fun characters and a nice little tale.

Susan Cross said...

This reminds me too much of a child I know who happens to be terrified of dogs. This gave me a glimpse into his psyche. Great tale. I love the names. Your writing makes me feel SO American. Love reading the dialect. Look forward to next week and to reading the contest winners.

David Barber said...

Re: The World Cup. I think the whole of England need to have a seriously good sense of humour at the moment. :-)

My contest entry is on its way.

Cathy Olliffe said...

Oh Lordy, ask Dave, I just laughed out loud.
That was TOO funny and REALLY REALLY good and NOT shitty at all, not in the least.
May I congratulate you on writing not just a flash but an awesome flash. I am so glad you did. And you are truly funnier than you give yourself credit for. The story was hilarious. This was one of my favourite lines: “That youngster has the face of an angel, but the devil must have beat him with a cloven hoof."
But then, your comment to Anton, who was kinda being a little short with my pal Mark, and calling him "Mr. Hyde?" OMG, I laughed my arse off. Sometimes the comments on a blog are every bit as funny as the blog itself and it's so nice that you always take the time to reply to every one.
I guess you live on The Rock because you do. Rock, that is.

Cathy Olliffe said...

By the way, I read your story out loud to my sons, Angus and Sam, and they wondered who you were, so I told them and said me and Dave might be meeting you on our honeymoon. Sam say, "Can I come?" And I said, "No. Why do you want to come?" And he says, "I wanna meet that guy." And I asked why. He said, "Because he's a good writer."

pegjet said...

You don't think you're funny? You do wry so well. I laughed when Elderly Olivia told her red wine story while sipping white. At least she learned her lesson.

Excitable boys are so misunderstood. And terriers are so underestimated. Fun story. As always, glad I made it to land's edge (cause I agree with Cathy's son).

Mari said...

Ohh, for a moment I thought the dog would tear the excitable boy apart. I think I've been hanging a tad too much with horror writers, heh.

Great story and awesome picture. :)

G.P. Ching said...

Hooray for the Terrier! Sad that the dog is the best parenting the boy's got.
Wonderfully colorful writing, much enjoyed.

Michael Solender said...

oy! He got his now didn't he - terrific tale, a regular dennice the menace that one but a fine pooch to the rescue!

theothersideofdeanna said...

What a fun story Alan. It (and the pic) reminds me of a cousin who was just like this growing up, and still is, though he's supposed be grown up now. It also reminds me of something older folks around here say - "that boy's cuter'n a pig's snout, but he's got the devil in his eyes." Thanks for the laugh!

essiespencer.com said...

Great title, great ending. A much better ending, I think, than if the dog had mauled him. I felt it was like the dog was saying "hey, you're not worth it, so take my pish instead" - very funny indeed.

Tomara Armstrong said...

I am glad to see I wasn't the only who felt sorry for the little brat. Being that I have one of my own... thankfully he's still sleeping.

Fun post,
~2

Eric J. Krause said...

Let's see if the boy learned his lesson. I'm guessing so, but that lesson is: Don't mess with the dog next door. Great story!

Danielle Ferries said...

The darker side of children. I really enjoyed it, Alan.

Alan W. Davidson said...

John- I get the feeling you wanted to see more blood-letting from the little boy...

Valerie- Yep, that may have been as effective as a spanking.

Susan- I'm glad you liked the tale and dialect. Myself and the seriously underpaid judging staff will wade through the entries for the next few days to decide on the top three...and a few honourable mention, of course!

David-...and France, and Spain, and Camaroon, and...

Cathy- My thanks to you...without your prodding it wouldn't have happened. It just goes to show what a person can write and polish in the space of 24 hours (when they put their mind to it). Yeah, I try to make the comment humour subtle sometimes.

I'm glad that the whole family liked it (even with the F-word...and maybe the S-work too...). You guys can bring the boys next time...when it's not as cold as a witch's teet. We got a guest room and a fenced in yard to set up a tent.

Peggy- Thanks for the compliments on humour. I find it difficult to do, but I'm trying hard to work on it as I'd like to do a novel with that kind of feel to it.

Mari- I can't begin to tell you how tempted I was to do that...horror is my favourite genre.

GP- Thanks very much. I guess that's true about the dog parenting better than the mother and jail-bird dad.

Michael- Menace indeed! Dogs always add an element of danger (or humour) to a story. And I'm not just saying that because I used to be a dog catcher!

Deanna- The 'pig's snout' comment made me laugh. A very folksy area you live in. Glad you liked the story.

Essie- I'm glad you approved of the ending. I did think of something darker for the boy. I suppose taking the pish is better than violence.

Tomara- Thanks, I'm glad you liked it. I had maybe a thimble-full of sympathy going on...

Eric- Hmm...I haven't thought far enough to know if he's learned his lesson. But it's a thought. I'm glad you liked the story.

Danielle- He was an evil child. Are you with those that thought he should have come to a bad end...?

Natalie L. Sin said...

LMFAO!

Laurita said...

You know, I have a kid that used to inroduce himself to friends and neighbours alike as "Jon, but my real name is Indiana Jones." This phrase was my favourite, and I may have occasion to use it: "The boy had been the bane of the housing scheme ever since he could propel himself forth."

Excellent job on this last minute flash.

kathryn said...

Fabulous! I love a good story with a fitting ending! My favorite part:

"Simon swung the whip at the willows; the leaves shimmered to the browning lawn. He also whipped the cherry tree; blossoms rained to the ground in pink tears."

Sigh....pure poetry....

Alan W. Davidson said...

Nat- I was going to make the attcking dog a pug, but I wasn't sure he would be tough enough!

Laurita- Thanks! I would be really concerned if Jon was introducing himself as Adam Lambert...

Kathryn- Glad you liked the story. Hey! Quit calling it poetry...I prefer "Gripping Literary Fiction" (or something like that)...