Married Life

Yay, it is time for Paula’s Tuesday Story! Images today are:

He hated this. This was the worst part of his job, thought Mark. Processing all the numbers. When he had quit working at the gym, to start a career freelancing, nobody had told him how difficult this would be.

Now, here he was, lying in bed, dreading the task ahead. “Ah, well, the sooner I’m started, the sooner it is over”. He made sure to get up quietly, so as not to disturb his partner, Carol, who lay gently snoring beside him.

Benjy, however, was another matter. As soon as he heard his master’s movement, he jumped up from his rug and sprinted out to the kitchen. For Benjy, breakfast could not come soon enough.

Mark went through to the kitchen, fed the dog, let him out into the garden, and fired up his computer. He stared at the hundreds of receipts lying waiting in a pile and groaned. Some of these were two year’s old, for God’s sake. Why hadn’t he taken his own advice, to enter them onto the computer as he went along? But the self-employed deadline was next week, and he had to get these numbers over to the accountant for first thing tomorrow, so he started plodding.

Almost two hours later, he heard movement in the bedroom, and Carol appeared. She padded over to their open-plan kitchen, decided that the coffee was no good, and put on a fresh pot. “Do you want a coffee?”, she chimed, cheerfully. “…nuh”, came the response. It had hardly registered with him.

She wandered over. “Good morning, gorgeous”, she chirped. “I said, would you like some coffee?” Mark snapped out of his trance. “Oh…. Er, no, thanks”, he muttered, adding, “look, I’ve got to get my accounts done this morning, so I’d appreciate some quiet.” He’d told her last night that this would happen, although Carol’s salaried job meant that she had little idea what he was doing – her employers took care of all her taxes. “Not to worry, darling, I’ll be as quiet as a mouse”, she uttered, as she ceremonially tiptoed back into the kitchen. After hearing sounds of breakfast, Mark heard Carol return to the bedroom. He looked up when ten minutes later, she reappeared in a leotard. “I’m just gonna do my exercises, but don’t worry, I’ll be really quiet.”

That was the trouble. Their apartment was essentially a lounge plus a bedroom, and since Lockdown, the lounge had become Carol’s gym. He heard the rebounder being locked into place, and then she started jumping. With her earbuds in, she was dead to the world, but with the noise, Mark found it hard to concentrate. But, wanting to keep the peace, he decided it was time for a coffee break, and went through to make a fuss of Benjy.

All coffee’d out, Mark reappeared when he heard the bouncing stop. He saw Carol, sweating now. “All done”, she panted, “how’re you getting on?” “Okay”, replied Mark, biting his lip. “Right”, Carol told him, “I’m gonna quickly jump in the shower, then I’m gonna crack on. Is there anything I can do for you?” “No, just keep the noise down”, reminded Mark.

After the shower, Carol padded through to the bedroom again, and reappeared, five minutes later, dressed.

“Right, I had it on my mind to fix Benjy’s kennel today. The way it bangs every time we have a breeze is really annoying me.” Mark grunted but did not tell Carol exactly what was annoying *him* right now. He pressed on.

He heard her remove their little toolbox from their utility cupboard, then figured he might get some peace, if she was going outside. He pressed on.

Five minutes later, he heard the kennel being dragged into the apartment. “It’s too bloody cold out there”, she explained. He pressed on.

When Mark heard the hammer crashing down on the kennel, Mark finally snapped. “WILL YOU SHUT THE FUCK UP????”, he shouted at Carol.

Not used to being spoken to so rudely, Carol was aghast and angry. She picked up a screwdriver from the toolbox, and flung it in Mark’s general direction. Mark ducked. Carol then stormed past him, and out of the front door. He heard her car start and the car drive away.

Maybe now he’d get some peace?


I’m sorry, very long today, by my usual standards. But I wanted all the readers to be weary of her too, just like Mark was.

Lucky Ticket

For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #101, where we write about this photo from Pixabay..

Josh had never considered whether he was a lucky person or not. At his young age, he still had many of life’s events ahead of him. But at this moment, he was on top of the world.

Like many boys his age, he collected football stickers. For this year’s roster, he already had what was considered one of the rarest stickers, and when he treated himself this morning, there it was again. He was already sitting on an offer to swap it for a hundred other cards, he’d just said he’d think about it and let them know.

He’d confided in his best friend, Amy. She cared little for these cards, but she understood “rare”. “It’s no use to you, you already have it”, and then jokily added “why not put it up on eBay?”

This throwaway remark set Josh’s mind racing. “Why not?”, he’d thought, and went home and took some photos of the card that night. Next day, he enlisted Amy’s help once again. “I want you to help me come up- with an ad”, he’d explained. Buying her lunch to twist her arm, they’d gone to use one of the school’s computers, after they’d finished eating. A half-hour later, Jake hit “post”, and the listing went live.

There was precious little time to watch the progress of the auction, and Josh did not have a computer at home, but a week later, Amy reminded him. “Doesn’t that auction end today?” and at lunchtime they once again found themselves in the computer lab. Josh logged on.

In the cafeteria, the rest of the school just heard a muffled “YESSSSSSS”.

Progress

Yay, it is time for Paula’s Tuesday Story! Images today are:

That was it, the final piece of the jigsaw. He’d finally been able to buy up the old lighthouse, and at less than market value, too. Mere cookie crumbs. The former owner, Drew, had held out for so long, but that obstinate old fucker was now dead, and at the auction that very morning, Brad had finally been able to buy up the real estate on behalf of his client, Swindlers Inc.

Brad had already made some phone calls, intent on having the 200-year-old lighthouse demolished just as soon as possible. Once that was gone, the path was clear. Sure, they would encounter local opposition, but that could be bought off the way all opposition was bought off. They could then start work on the next phase of their project – their new, luxury apartment complex.

Feeling hungry today, he ordered a rare steak for his lunch, plus a bottle of finest Bordeaux. He silently raised his glass in a toast.

This had been a good day.

Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #100

For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #100, where we write about this photo from artbyrandy at Morguefile.

It was a the middle of summer’s, and Andy was glad to have escaped the city for the day.

For his mom’s seventieth birthday, then had decided to spend the day together, and she had chosen the Rubio Gardens, about forty miles out of the city. Andy remembered going there a few times, as a child, but… it must have been two decades…

As they strolled along the pathway, Andy could hear the sound of music, and as they rounded the bend, he saw a well-manicured pond. Beside the pond was the source of the music, a bearded man strumming a guitar. Then he smelled the incense. As he watched, the man picked up a bunch of flowers. And drew a figure-of-eight in the air. He put the flowers down again and resumed playing. As he and his mom admired the pond, a few minutes later, he saw the man repeat the action.

The man’s actions were clearly deliberate, and Andy was perplexed.

The next time the man stopped, Andy pounced. “Excuse me”, he called. “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but what are you doing?”. A thick country accent answered him – he was certainly not from around these parts,

“I’m the Wasp Whisperer”, the man said.

Andy was taken aback. “The w-w-w-what?”

“I charms the wasps away, I strum on this guitar, that charms them. Then I wafts these fresh-cut flowers about the place… They catch the incense as well, and… well, I’m not sure why, but they goes all quiet, like. This place pays me, keep some of the wasps away from the people eating their lunch.” He gestured toward a wall, and Andy could hear cutlery on the other side.

“These country folk”, thought Andy, “I’ll never figure them out.”

Fit to Drop

Yay, it is time for Paula’s Tuesday Story! Images today are:

My big break – and I’d just finished working a week of twelve-hour days. This was to be my reward – a Friday night out with the boys. I’d even figured how, just this once, I could escape from work a little early, so that I might have time to soak in the bathtub before we all met.

But it seemed that the rest of the world had had the same idea, and the traffic home was awful. Not the ideal start to the weekend. By the time I got home, I had to forego the soak. A quick shower was all I had time for – we were meant to meet at the restaurant at 7, and I would just about make it, but couldn’t dawdle. It would be good to catch up with my mates again, it seemed like I hadn’t seen them in ages since I’d started this new job.

When I arrived at the informal burger joint, I was only the second to arrive. John was already sitting there, perusing the menu, and George, Paul and Ringo arrived shortly afterwards. The beer flowed, and it was good to catch up with these guys, we had been mates since high school. The food, when it came, was pricey but delicious. That bun looked like it had half a cow in it!

By 10 o’clock, I was fit to drop, but the boys wanted to move on. What the hell? I had the whole weekend to recuperate. A short discussion, and we agreed on the Flamingo Wine Bar, five minutes away. In Flamingo terms, it was still very early, so we easily found a table to sit at. As the place started to fill, I just grew more tired. Paul’s voice caused me to snap awake, “Come on, soft lad, I’m getting the beers in. What are you having?”

And then I saw her.