Friday, July 9, 2010

Land's Edge Contest- Hon. Mention- Anton Gully

Anton Gully helps us bring the Land's Edge flash fiction contest to a close. He is a man of mystery, a trait he shares with his cousin Pablo. I could bend your ear with the rumours that I and the Land's Edge research team have collected over the past few months. But I won't as most of what we heard were second or third party accounts and most of those interviewed were either drunk, under the influence of a hallucinogen or enraged at hearing the name 'Anton'. The best information can be found in my expose of Anton that appeared here a few weeks ago. For those of you who missed it, you can link to that post here. But how on earth did we end up talking about moi?

Okay people...a little honesty here...

Mr. Gully is a little on the pale side, a bit of a curmudgeon and sometimes downright abrasive. But I right off that behaviour as the signs of alcoholism mental instability a temperamental artist. A Hemingway or perhaps a Bukowski (that's for Ant) in the making. In fact his stories are often enlightening, dramatic and can be quite funny at times. You may, or perhaps man not have, noticed that Mr. Gully doesn't take compliments well. To that I say, "tough noogies to him." I invite all of you to read his honourable mention story, Best Wishes, and let your truths be known in the comments box. You can read more of his #fridayflash stories at The Black Dogs Reading Room.

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Best Wishes

It was wet out and Mr. White was glad to be home. He pulled the anorak off his back the moment he stepped inside, juggling the package in his hands as he wrenched his arms free, before flinging the coat on to the telephone table in the hall.

He careered into the front room, dropped his arse into his easy chair like a saggy depth charge, and expelled a gasp of breath still perfumed from the spicy curry he had eaten the night before. His wife had not yet acknowledged his existence. She was sitting in a chair the twin of his own, the space between them occupied by a table that heaved with glossy magazines, two over-flowing ashtrays and a selection of half-eaten snacks and candies, nestling amongst discarded wrappers. Peeking out from under the clutter was a copy of the self-help book, "Learn to Unlock Your Wit and Charm: Booze!"

His wife's attention was focused entirely on the enormous television, as the local news reported on an atrocity at the zoo.
Mr. White declared, "I WISH you wouldn't watch that rubbish... oh darn!" The television snapped off, while the package in his hands seemed to twist and turn as though alive.

"Hey!" his wife exclaimed, then she noticed that the remote control lay undisturbed on the table between them.
He held the package out to her now. "It grants wishes, Mother," he said. "Thr-two of them!"

Mrs. White tore at the wrappings until she held it, naked in her hand. A monkey's paw, soft to the touch and bloody at the stump. She turned her eyes to regard the now silent television. "Oh, Father, you're a celebrity."

"You know what this means?" he asked her.

She nodded.

Their son had died and today was the anniversary of his death, exactly five and one quarter days earlier. Losing him had sucked the joy and colour from their home. Their lives were meaningless - even more so than before.

"I wish our Herbert was alive." As his wife spoke the words, Mr. White silently mimed them, his blubbery lips quivering. "Now what?" she asked.

"We'll have to wait."

"Typical. Never did anything in a hurry, that boy." Mrs. White sniffed and dumped the paw on the table.

Eventually the knock came, the tremulous pattering at the door drowned out by the sounds of the soap opera the pair were watching. Finally, when the knocking grew louder, Mr. White heard it during a break in the action on screen.

"There he is, Mother," he said.

Another knock. Heavy now. "Well, go on then, let him in," Mrs. White said.

"Me? I've only just sat down... oh, fine."

He opened the door. There stood Herbert White, his hand cocked to rap once more.
Mr. White sighed. "Get in, you're letting all the heat out." He grabbed Herbert by his arm and pulled him inside, kicking the door shut behind them. He dragged his son into the front room, pressing him into his own seat. "Let's get a look at you. Well, Mother, what do you think?"

"Aren't his cheeks rosy," she said. "So lifelike."

"He looks a darn sight better than he did when he was alive, always wandering around like something half-dead." Mr. White squinted at Herbert and tapped his waxy forehead. "The mortician did a lovely job. That was money well spent."

"You get what you pay for," his wife agreed. "And considering what he had to work with... I mean, our Herbert was no oil painting. He got his looks from your side, Father."

"He wishes. Got a face like a dropped pie, he has. No amount of make-up's gonna hide that."

"I wish..." The words were wrung from Herbert's throat like barbed wire from a barrel of custard, as he, haltingly, reached for the monkey's claw with his own curled and quivering hand. "... I was de-"

Deftly, with hardly a sidelong glance, Mother White swept the paw from the table. "Typical him; only here and he wants off."

"No time for us," Father agreed, shaking his head sorrowfully. "I expect he's somewhere better to be."

"Off to see his fancy friends."

They nodded, together.

Once more the little terraced house was alive with conversation, as Father and Mother batted epithets back and forth with the ungainly vigour of top-ranked British tennis players. For Herbert White, recently plucked from the jealous talons of an abominable Hell, the nightmare was only just beginning.


Michael Solender said...

Gruesomely cool

Bukowski's Basement said...

Killer last graf, Anton... Glad to see you here.

Anonymous said...

Party party party! Party party party! Part- wait, where's the party?




Good Lord, no! They're bombing Pearl Harbor!!!!

...huh, wot contest?

Laurita said...

I thought this was a very cool twist on the monkey's paw story. The continuing mightmare for Herbert, just when he thought he was out. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall...oh dang.

Kat said...

Got a thing for dead children?

Very cool. Nicely done. Lol.

Felt like a Twilight Zone ending. :)

David Barber said...

I liked this one Anton. Well written and creepy as Hell! Well done mate.

Cathy Olliffe said...

That was great, Anton. Very funny. I loved the U.K.-ness of the characters. I could totally picture them in their living room and your description of their sitting area was just plain awesome. I can't blame the poor boy for wanting to off himself, though... this was very, very funny. Well done!
Alan - "tough noogies for you?" HA HA HA!!!!!!!

Marisa Birns said...

No joy, no color, no son. I should have been sobbing with the sadness of it all. But, I laughed at how this story unfolded. Not at it, but with the clever and funny situation it became.

I was very frightened when I read The Monkey's Paw. With your story, Anton, I am spooked by the poor kid's fate! No rest in peace for him.

I always found you to be rather pleasant so don't understand why Alan calls you a curmudgeon.

Mark Kerstetter said...

Custard and barbed wire - Yummm!