I woke up the next morning,
mouthful of strong cigarettes and bad whisky.
My lungs felt like lead weights.
it sounded like Tom Waits, singing in the gutter,
so I knew there was hope.
Early Sunday morning walk,
Squinting in the morning light
Cappuccino with a double shot of coffee
and eyes that finally open
with the hoarse caw of the crow
and the hoarse voice of the barmaid
who must smoke a packet
or spend her life shouting
above the noise of the cutlery
being put in its place
as the coffee machine whirs
and the people sit
over their Sunday morning papers
as the cappuccino goes down
and the day opens up.
I got up. I couldn’t sleep, I just lay there sweating, tossing and flapping like a freshly-caught fish. Booze does that to you. You think it’ll knock you out; that you’ll sleep like a kitten for the night but then you awake on a sweat-wet pillow, and then it’s finished.
I lay in bed an hour or so, unable to shut my head up. The room was dark but in my head someone had flipped a switch. Transitory thoughts, each following the other down the fuddled highway of my mind, flickered on and off, on and off. What I had to do today. What I had to to this week. What? Whatever.
I got up, grabbed my book, made a coffee and made myself comfortable on the cold leather sofa, and lost myself in story.
I had a heavy chest and a cough that wouldn’t come, my airways blocked by too many cigarettes accompanying too many drinks throughout a drunken evening with drunker friends and a happy barman. My mouth was layered from beer, from wine, from gin, from the back shelf where no one sober goes.
The coffee steamed on the coffee-table (what if I drunk tea?) but I drank it, hoping to change the thick, stale, toothpaste-on-alcohol taste in my mouth. My throat burned but something moved. My chest moved. I coughed: it sounded like Tom Waits singing. That was an improvement.
Early morning coffee with Bukowski. I finished the first short story and stared at the page a while before closing the book and closing my eyes.
The Most Beautiful Woman in Town had just died.
from the bench to the bin
Brain craves for meths
as body cries “no more!”
His brain rules his body
and he rolls the remains
of dog-ends from the bin
the day’s lonely spiral
to my observation
but I observe
and offer a coin.
Each to his own end.
‘So, who do you write like?’
‘Bukowski? You write like Bukowski? Ha!’
‘No, I drink like Bukowski.’
‘That’s why I’m here. So who do you write like?’
The doctor unzipped his black bag and raked around inside.
‘Why do I have to write like anyone? Why can’t I write like me?’
‘Everyone has influences. I aspire to attain the heights of some notable surgeons, in time.’
‘Hemingway? You write like Hemingway? Don’t kid yourself.’
‘No, I drink and fight like Hemingway.’
I coughed as the stethoscope was placed at various points around my back. I looked at the cigarettes on the table.
‘What about your poetry?’
‘Rimbaud? You …’
‘No, I drink like Rimbaud but I’m not French or gay.’
‘You’re going to die like Rimbaud.’
‘There is a heaven after all.’
‘No, seriously. The alcohol is killing you. You’ll have to stop.’
‘No going back.’
‘I can’t make you but as your doctor I’m telling you, you’re going to die, and soon if you don’t stop.’
‘If you don’t stop? Weeks, months. I can’t tell unless we open you up.’
‘You’ll stop? Really? Just like that?’
‘Do I have a choice?’
‘No, not unless you want to die. However, you still haven’t been published so it wouldn’t even be a very good career move.’
‘Well, I sold a story and one article.’
‘That’s good but you’ll have to do more and to do more you’ll have to stop killing yourself.’
‘Doc, take that bottle of grappa. It’s a good grappa and I don’t want it.’
‘Sure, I’ll take it. Thanks.’
‘Doc, there’s some good wine in the kitchen, take it, give it to your wife or your secretary.’
‘OK, thanks. Remember, there’s no going back. Falling off the wagon is not an option, you’ll die.’
‘No going back. Sure doc.’
He got his things together, wrote out an illegible prescription and told me to get my ass down the pharmacy. I passed him a bag with the bottles as we stepped out and I shaded my eyes from the low winter sun. He clanked his way to his car. I pulled a couple of envelopes from the mailbox.
‘No going back,’ he reminded me as his car coughed blue exhaust smoke into the cold air.
Back in the kitchen I tore open the post. My head swam from the hangover. For once it wasn’t a bill. It was the agency, they’d found a publisher, a real publisher who wanted to publish me. Me.
I opened the cupboard under the sink, reached behind the bin and pulled out a bottle.
‘No going back,’ I said, to no-one in particular as I toasted myself.
They were sitting in the corner, I guess looking for a little privacy but they came to the wrong place if they wanted that. The tables were too close together for one thing, and besides, everyone had to pass by that table to go to the toilet.
She was angry, upset, pissed off. Choose any adjective you want; she looked ready to stick her cocktail stick and untouched olive where the sun don’t shine, his sun at least.
I arrived after being dragged around the shops for two hours and I’d run out of patience and my credit card out of, well…credit. I put Lucy in a cab, with bags, they were all hers anyway, and made my way down to the King’s Head. Football was on the TV and I wanted, no, I needed a pint or two and anyway, I was busting for a lash. I nodded to the barman, asked for a pint of ale and made my way to the Gents. That’s when I noticed them.
He had his hands out in front of him when I passed, and, relieved at being relieved, I made my way back with less haste and he still had his hands in front of him, like he was praying or testing for rain or something. Whatever he was doing was having no positive effect whatsoever; maybe he’d run out of credit too. I got my pint and made my way to a little table, a little way off to the right of them, with one of those retro Heineken mirrors on the wall next to me and I could see them in action, as well as hear them.
“You were a twat Paul.”
“I know love, I don’t know what happened, it just happened.”
He’d chatted up, touched up or ballsed up by the sounds of things. Typical bloke, I know how you feel mate, I thought. I went back to the football, trying to concentrate on the game which was slower settling than a pint of Guinness. The ball was pinging about all over the place, no fun to watch but I watched it anyway, it certainly beat the hell out of shopping. A free kick got my attention but not for long.
“Where is she? Where did you put her?” Her? This made my ears pick up a bit. I pretended to watch the football.
“Behind the allotments near the railway embankment. There’s some old garages there and I left her there.”
“Do you want some more drinks?” It was the barmaid, taking their empties from their table. He said yes, she said nothing so I guess she either nodded or shook her head, there are only so many things you can communicate without words. The barmaid plonked the glasses on the bar and poured a lager.
“It won’t be for long, it was like a temporary measure, you know. I didn’t have the time.”
“You could have done better than that. She’ll be found in no time Paul. What the bloody hell were you thinking?”
“Shh…, she’s coming back.”
The mirror told me she’d folded her arms, a frown that looked furrowed with a hand-plough creasing her forehead. She looked at her phone, he looked at her. The barmaid put two glasses down, it was a nod then.
“I’ll go now, after this drink, alright?”
“Yeah? Well, I suppose it will be dark in half an hour, won’t it?”
“Yeah, it’ll be alright, you’ll see.”
Who was she? What had she done? What had he done to her? I had a hundred questions and didn’t know what to do with the information I’d heard.
“I hope you’re right Paul, she’s been in the family for years.”
“She’ll be alright Trish, really. Who’d want an old car like that anyway?”
I entered a competition recently where I had half an hour to write on one of three subjects given. I chose “a conversation” and out came the above. While I was writing I didn’t know who “she” was but as the minutes ticked away I decided I wanted to write something that didn’t involve death or murder, and as we English-speakers have a penchant for talking about our cars as feminine, the little ending came to me. I submitted with one minute left and received a ‘commended’ so it was ok.
Hemingway once said “write drunk, edit sober” – when you only have half an hour to do both, which do you chose?
My ever present and never diminishing thanks once again to Morgen.
I’m still unsure as to whether I should be disturbed about the fact that I sat in a pub looking at a tattoo and invented this story around it…
Welcome to Flash Fiction Friday and the one hundred and forty-sixth piece in this series. This week’s is a 436-worder by Christopher Farley.
Colours frozen in time
The tattoo was the first thing I noticed; it was beautiful. She sat opposite her friend drinking Belgian beer from a huge glass and I saw it as I walked past, making my way to the men’s room.
Her thin, white arms poked out from her even whiter t-shirt, then a waterfall of colour burst from the sleeves of the t-shirt. Three lotus flowers, red, green and pink, one on top of the other. But oh, the arm. How could something so pale and delicate suffer so much pain? I returned to the bar and pretended to look at the game on the big screen. Her friend rose from the table and headed for the toilet.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help…
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I’ve not blogged for a while, a holiday (finally), a short trip back to the UK (again finally) and work got in the way, as well as some evening studies just to completely muddle my brain. I have also been working on a short story which has now got out of hand and is slowly heading towards (at least) novelette territory.
However, last week back in the UK I came across a book of fairy tales in the second-hand bookshop. I flicked through and came back home with an idea, which, after my Little Red Riding Hood of last year, I just had to get it down.
Take it away Jack…
Once upon a time, in fact not that long ago, in a small flat overlooking Clapham Junction there lived ateenager called Jack and his single mother, Tracy. They were poor. Tracy was on benefit and had a bit of a problem with the vodka so Jack, ever resourceful, had to go out and steal so they could eat.
One day, while out thieving a couple of BLTs from M&S, Jack was caught by the security guard, taken to the office and held while the police came, and eventually they did. Jack was also linked to a spate of other thefts but they couldn’t prove anything but he still finished the day with the promise of an ASBO over his head.
He was eventually let out but was in tears, as he’d promised his mum he would bring home some supper. “Nothing for it,” sobbed the young lad, “I’m gonna have to go up Kings Cross and sell a piece of me so we can eat.”
One of the two coppers, big and burly with a sergeant-major moustache and a funny walk, was following him out of the station and overheard his lament. He tapped him on the shoulder.
“Hello again son,” said the copper.
“Alright sir?” answered Jack.
“Where are you going?” asked the copper.
“I am going to Kings Cross to earn some dough sir.”
“It’s lucky I met you son,” said the copper. “You may save yourself the trouble of going so far, and save you the expense, though I’d bet you would have jumped the train barrier anyway.”
With this, he put his hand in his pocket, and pulled out five curious-looking beans.
“What do you call these, beans? Ain’t seen nothing like them before,” said Jack.
Yes,” said the copper, “beans, but they’re the most wonderful beans ever known. If you plant them overnight, by the next morning they’ll grow up and reach the sky. But to save you the trouble of going all the way to Kings Cross, I don’t mind exchanging them for a piece of you,” he said, fiddling his truncheon.
“Done!” cried Jack, who was so delighted with the bargain that after the deed was done he minced all the way home to tell his mother how lucky he had been.
But oh! How disappointed his poor single mother was.
“Off to bed with you, and no PlayStation!” she cried; and she was so angry that she threw the beans out of the window and they landed on the embankment next to the railway line. Poor Jack went to bed without any supper (not that there was any, apart from the lemon in his mother’s vodka) or PlayStation, and cried himself to sleep.
When he woke up the next morning, the room was almost dark, which even for an English autumn was rare if not impossible at 10.30. Jack jumped out of bed and ran to the window to see what the matter was. The sun was shining brightly outside, which was strange for Clapham but from the ground right up beside his window there grew a great beanstalk, which stretched up and up as far as he could see, into the sky.
“I’ll just see where it leads to,” thought Jack, and with that he put on his stolen Reeboks, gangster-boy jeans with the arse down to his knees and a hoody bought in the last winter sale from the nearby camping shop and stepped out of the window and on to the beanstalk, and he began to climb upwards. He climbed up and up, till after a time his block of flats, an eyesore from the 70s, looked a mere speck below, but at last the stalk ended, and he found himself in a new and beautiful country. He immediately looked around for something to steal but there was nothing going. A little way off there was a great castle, with a broad road leading straight up to the front gate. “I’ll ‘ave some of that.” He said, to no one in particular. But then a beautiful maiden appeared from nowhere.
“Bleedin’ ‘ell,” he said, “I wish I could do that, I’d ‘ave a few things away I’ll tell ya, luv.”
The maiden winced at the lad’s massacre of the English language. Staring at his jeans, wondering if in fact Jack was incontinent; after all, why else would they hang so low. Then she saw his hoody from Millets, felt pity and decided to tell him.
Jack, not the quickest on the uptake, wondered how she knew his name and then presumed she’d got news of his earlier arrest, soon found out she knew a great deal about him. She told him how, when he was quite a little baby, his father, a semi-successful drug-dealer, had been slain for trying to rip off the giant who imported directly from Columbia and lived in yonder castle, and how Jack’s mother, in order to save Jack and for a few cases of Smirnoff, had been obliged to promise never to tell the secret.
“All that the giant has is yours,” she said, and then disappeared quite as suddenly as she came.
“She must be a fairy, or there were still some ‘shrooms left over in that tea-pot from Mum’s girly night in,” thought Jack.
As he drew near to the castle, he saw the giant’s wife standing at the door.
“If you please, missus,” said he, “you wouldn’t ‘ave a bite to eat would ya? I ain’t had nothing to eat since yesterday.”
Now, the giant’s wife, although very big and very ugly, had a kind heart, at least before she got on the Tennents Super, so she said: “Very well little man, come in; but you must be quick about it, for if my husband the giant finds you here, he will beat you up, break your bones and all.”
So in Jack went in, and the giant’s wife gave him a good breakfast, but before he had half-finished it there came a terrible knock at the front door, which seemed to shake even the thick walls of the castle.
“Oh shite, that’s my husband!” said the giantess, in a terrible fright; “we must hide you somehow,” and she lifted Jack up and popped him into the empty kettle.
“Oi!” shouted Jack, scared shitless in the dark.
“Shut up a minute you silly little git,” she said, sticking her finger in the kettle spout and cutting off any sound the saggy arsed-trouser boy could make. No sooner had she done so the giant roared out:
“Fee, fum, fi, fo;
I smell the blood of a young ASBO;
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I’ll bust his teeth and jump on his head!”
Oh shoosh!” said his wife; “you having a laugh love. You been on the ale already? It’s the T-bone steaks you smell.” So the giant sat down, and ate 5 kilos of T-bone with a gallon of home-made ale. When he finished he said: “Woman, bring me my money-bags.” So his wife brought him two full bags of gold, and the giant began to count his money. But he was so sleepy from the meal and ale that his head soon began to nod, and then he began to snore, like the rumbling of thunder. Then Jack, slipping and sliding with his Reeboks in the copper kettle, crept out, and made off with the two bags, and though the giant’s dog, an enormous Pit-bull, barked loudly, he made his way down the beanstalk back to the flat before the giant awoke.
Jack and his mother were now in the money; she hugged him and after the fourth vodka and tonic told him she loved him. Jack went down Maccy Dee’s and had a couple of Big Macs to celebrate, before buying an ounce of puff from his classmate. Things were rosy for a few weeks but his mum’s shopping sprees and nights down the pub along with Jack’s computerised home entertainment fixation soon meant they were down to shopping at Lidl in no time at all so it occurred to him one day that he would like to see how matters were going on at the giant’s castle. So while his mother was away, offering favours to the owner of the local off-licence in the hope of something to drink, he climbed up, and up, and up, and up, until he got to the top of the beanstalk again.
The giantess was standing at the door, just as before, but she did not know Jack, who was more finely dressed than on his first visit. Well, that wasn’t hard, compared to the first time. Maybe she was dazzled by the bling. “’Ello missus,” said he, “will you give me some breakfast?”
“Run away,” said she, “or my husband the giant will beat you up, broken bones and all. The last boy who came here stole two bags of gold – off with you!” But the giantess had a kind heart, although she looked eagerly at her watch, waiting for Tennents hour to arrive, and she allowed Jack to come into the kitchen, where she set before him enough breakfast to last him a week. Scarcely had he begun to eat than there was a great rumbling like an earthquake, and the giantess had only time to bundle Jack into the oven when in came the giant. No sooner was he inside the kitchen when he roared:
“Fee, fum, fi, fo;
I smell the blood of a young ASBO;
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I’ll bust his teeth and jump on his head!”
But his wife told him he was mistaken, and after breakfasting on a dozen deep-fried chickens and a gallon of home-made ale, he called out: “Wife, bring the little brown hen!” The giantess dutifully went out and brought in a little brown hen, which she placed on the table.
“Lay!” said the giant; and the hen at once laid a golden egg. His wife breathed a sigh of relief, glad that he wasn’t referring to her for a quick shag. “Lay!” said the giant a second time; and the hen laid another golden egg. “Lay!” said the giant a third time; and she laid a third golden egg.
“That’ll do for to-day,” said he, and stretched himself out to go to sleep. As soon as he began to snore, Jack crept out of the oven, went on tiptoe to the table and, snatching up the little brown hen made a dash for the door. Then the hen began to cackle, and the giant began to wake up; but before he was quite awake, Jack had escaped from the castle, and, climbing as fast as he could down the beanstalk, got home safe to his scruffy flat.
The little brown hen laid so many golden eggs that Jack and his mother had now more money than ever but the vodka, designer clothes and bling took their toll once more so, one day, afraid of getting caught stealing or even selling himself in train station toilets, Jack crept out of the window again, and climbed up, and up, and up, and up, until he reached the top.
This time he decided he would have none of that ugly, beastly woman on the doorstep malarkey; so he crept round to the back of the castle, and when the giant’s wife went out to the shed, full of Tennents Super, he slipped into the kitchen and hid himself in the oven. In came the giant, roaring louder than ever:
“Fee, fum, fi, fo;
I smell the blood of a young ASBO;
Be he alive, or be he dead,
I’ll bust his teeth and jump on his head!”
But the giantess was quite sure that she had seen no little boys that morning; and after grumbling a great deal, the giant sat down to breakfast. Even then he was not quite satisfied, for every now and again he would mumble:
“Fee, fum, fi, fo;
I smell the blood of a young ASBO.”
and once he even got up and looked in the kettle. But, of course, Jack was in the oven all the time.
When the giant had finished, he called out: “Wife, bring me the golden harp!” So she brought in the golden harp, and placed it on the table, turned round and knocked her fifth can of Tennents over the rug. “Wife, you are a drunken bint” said the giant, “start sobering up and get the dinner on or something. I’m bloody starving!” Seconds later the harp began to sing the most beautiful songs that ever were heard. It sang so sweetly that the giant soon fell fast asleep, flagon of ale in his hand; then Jack crept quietly out of the oven, and going on tiptoe to the table, seized hold of the golden harp. But the harp at once called out: “Master! Master!” and the giant woke up just in time to catch sight of Jack legging it out of the kitchen-door.
With a fearful roar, he seized his oak-tree club, and dashed after Jack, who held the harp tight, and ran faster than he had ever run before.
“Sod the bleedin’ fags, I need to stop smoking” thought Jack, out of breath after the first fifty yards. The giant, brandishing his club, and taking massive strides, gained on Jack with every step, who would have been caught if the giant had not tripped over a case of Tennents his wife had hidden, half-buried in the ground. Before he could pick himself up, Jack began to climb down the beanstalk, and by the time the giant arrived at the edge he was nearly half-way to the horrible, dingy flat he called home.
The giant, not only pissed but also very pissed off, began to climb down too; but as soon as Jack saw him coming, he called out: “Oi Mum, bring us the can of petrol we wanted to burn old Mr. Jacobs from number 76 with!” and the single mother, pissed as a fart but thinking about the longevity of her vodka supply, came out with a gallon of unleaded and a box of Swan Vestas. Jack had no sooner reached the ground than he chucked the petrol all over the base of the beanstalk and lit a match. WHOOSH! went the beanstalk, along with Jack’s eyebrows and down came the giant with a terrible crash and made a huge hole in the ground, big enough to be buried in, which is precisely what Jack and his mother did after they went through his rather large pockets to see what they could find, which, apart from a snotty hanky that would have made a bedspread, was nothing. What became of the giantess and the castle nobody knows, but Jack now had enough money to start dealing, taking over from where his father once left off whilst his mother could now drink enough to be able to spend one month in and three months out of the Betty Ford clinic. It is supposed they lived happy ever after, especially after moving up-market from Clapham Junction to Tooting Bec.
This is the life, he thought. Sat here in front of the big bay window with my love, side by side, the perfect married couple. What can anyone else give me?
He sat on the brown, leather pouffe in front of the open door. He smoked his cigarette, as he always did after his evening dinner. He took his glass of wine and drew a sip. He smoked and drank in silence, as he always did after his evening dinner. He passed the cigarette from his right hand to his left hand and with the right patted the other brown, leather pouffe, to his side.
He continued smoking his cigarette. He drank his wine. He breathed in the cold winter air, tainted with his cigarette smoke, as he always did ater his evening dinner. It wasn’t always cold. It wasn’t always winter. His right hand reached out for the reassuring touch, as it always did, every evening as he smoked his cigarette and drank his wine.
She was gone now, his love. He touched the pouffe at his side to remind him, as he always did after his evening dinner.
I recently submitted a piece to the quarterly “The First Line“, for the fall edition. This time round the piece was rejected – no worries. I found the site by accident one evening, and I wrote the story upon seeing the first line – which has never happened. It was a great exercise and so I’ll put it on here, simply for that fact, to remind me I can do it. I’m glad I tried and, after all, rejection is one step away from acceptance. Anyway, here goes:
A light snow was falling as Charlie Reardon left the diner and made his way down Madison Street. The cheeseburger, fries and large coke were weighing heavy on his stomach and for one queasy moment he thought he would throw everything back up. Leaning against an old Camaro he took a series of deep breaths, letting his head clear a little before moving on.
“Get your hands of the car man”.
Charlie lifted his hands and turned toward the voice.
“You heard him, get your hands off the car”.
“They are off” mumbled Charlie.
“What you say boy?” came the reply. He turned toward this voice, to his left. A fist crashed into the right side of his head, whilst another hit him just above the kidneys. Feeling his legs give way he was spun round and a forehead was planted in his face. His world turned black.
“Hey pal, are you OK”? A light push on his shoulder. “Hey buddy, can you hear me”? The voice slowly filtered through to Charlie’s semiconscious brain. “Jeez, this guy’s taken a hell of a beating. Say Sam, should we call the cops or an ambulance”?
“No way, leave him Steve, we could be next. What if they’re watching him? I wanna go get the beers and run man, this stuff disturbs me. Let’s get outta here”.
Steve looked up and down the dark street, seeing no one but now fear started to slowly knot his stomach.
“Sam, what if he…”
“Forget it buddy, it could be us”.
Looking down at the prone body Steve got to his feet.
“I guess you’re right man”, through gritted teeth as he fell into step with his friend.
Charlie lifted his face from the wet asphalt, feeling a sharp tearing pain as if the skin were still stuck to it. He tried to open his eyes but only the left one responded. The pain above his right temple seared through his head when he tried to move, and, giving it up as a bad idea he laid back down, feeling the snow fall in his ear. Somewhere a siren wailed, fading into the distance.
“Not coming for me then boys” he thought. The pain in his head intensified. He could feel unconsciousness slowly wash over him.
The snow started getting heavier. Charlie couldn’t feel it.
“Look mama, is that man drunk”? The kid’s whiney voice cut through the evening street sounds.
“If he doesn’t get up soon he’ll catch his death in this” said the kid’s mother, looking up at the sky as large flakes of snow descended upon them. “Speaking of which, we’d better get you inside little man” she continued, tugging the boy’s arm as he continued to watch the man lying in the road.
“Shouldn’t we help him Mom”? the kid asked. “In Sunday School they told us about a good Sama…Sama…Sama’ton. Shouldn’t we be like him Mom?”
“Not if the man’s drunk, junior” she replied. “Drunk people can be mean honey”.
“What if he’s dying Mom?” His nasally whine was beginning to grate on his mother’s nerves.
She stood by her son and looked closer at the body. She couldn’t see blood, which, she thought, was a blessing. However this then strengthened her view that the man had been on a drunk and had come to harm because of it.
“Well go inside honey, and we’ll call an ambulance. Is that good enough for my little Samaritan?”
“I guess so Mom” he replied, letting out a sigh as they turned for home.
The got through the door and the boy’s mother, true to her word, called an ambulance immediately, before taking off their coats and shoes.
“It’s out of our hands now” she said, feeling relieved but concerned at the same time. She laid newspaper down by the door and placed their shoes upon it. Urging her son to go and “get his ‘jamas on” she made her way to the kitchen. She thought about having a glass of wine then remembered the man outside. She poured some water into the kettle, deciding on a cup of tea instead. The ambulance, its siren shredding the night air, arrived.
A light snow was falling as Charlie Reardon left the diner and made his way down Madison Street. Surprisingly, he felt extremely light, almost as if he hadn’t eaten. As he continued along the sidewalk he saw an ambulance parked against the curb. A crowd stood round something, or someone lying in the road.
The drunken colonel, after a morning aperitif of several G&T’s, finds himself seated for lunch in a restaurant he happened to fall into:
“Waiter, there’s a turd in my soup.”
“No Sir, that is Tofu.”
“Toffee, waiter? I like to drink my soup, not chew on it.”
“T.O.F.U. Sir. It is a meat alternative.”
“Waiter, if I ask for chicken soup why would you serve me a meat alternative?”
“House rules Sir.”
“House rules? What the devil are you talking about man?”
“Yes Sir. This is a vegetarian restaurant Sir. We do not offer meat products.”
“Vegetarian restaurant? What, you mean no meat and two veg?”
“Just the two veg Sir, in fact more if you wish Sir.”
“Vegetarians… I blame vegetarianism on the lesbians you know.”
“What, Sir, may I ask, have the two in common?”
“There you go, you just said it. Greenham Common. Thirty years ago thousands of ordinary housewives went there to protest about nuclear deployment. They all came back lesbians and vegetarians.”
“Oh Sir, I think you are exaggerating the link, even if I am too young to remember. After all, I grew up a vegetarian.”
You’re not gay are you?”
“No Sir, I am married.”
“And your wife, she doesn’t bat for the other team then does she?”
“Sir, I can assure you we have two healthy boys, who are not gay and we are all vegetarians. About the soup Sir?”
“Something less resembling a floating turd would be my soup of choice. Oh, and waiter, a man can only drink so much water; bring me the wine list would you?”
“Sir, this is a non-alcoholic restaurant, we intentionally do not have a licensed premises.”
Exit waiter, rapidly.