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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Two to Little, too late…

image Yeah yeah, I know, alright? It’s another Sunday edition of Stream of Consciousness Saturday, but I’m sure Helen Espinosa (who is hosting Linda’s blog while she jets off to a gig in Japan) won’t mind.

This weekend’s prompt was;

“ “to/too/two.” Use one, use them all.”

Two to Little, too late.

Jimmy “Big Jim” Little was starting to go an alarming shade of apoplectic red, which was complemented nicely by the deathly and terrified pallor of his left-hand man, Travis, (Big Jim had lost his right arm in a nasty revolving door accident some years before) who was cowering under the ferocity of his master’s furious stare.

“What d’you mean there are only two? There were supposed to be four in here!”

“I know, Boss, but when we picked it up the box was sealed and the weight felt right. How were we to know..?”

“You mean you didn’t check!?” bellowed Jim, a vein beginning to throb at his temple now, “Didn’t I tell you it was important? DIDN’T I TELL YOU!!!?

“B-B-But Boss, you always told me not to ask any questions about the boxes we pick up for you, and you said if I ever opened any of them, you’d cut off my…”

“I don’t care what you think I said, you fucking imbecile, I want someone I can trust to drive a couple of miles, pick up a package for me and bring home what l fucking asked for!”

Travis wisely remained silent, guessing (correctly, for a change) that any response he gave would only serve to further inflame Big Jim’s already incandescent fury.

“Well you’re just going to have to go back and get the other two,” said Jim, “and if you know what’s good for you, you won’t come back without them.”

Travis scuttled across Jim’s “office”; an empty warehouse with a desk and two chairs, surrounded by boxes and filing cabinets in the middle of the open expanse of concrete floor, to where Neville waited by door. (In what passed for Neville’s mind, discretion was most certainly the better part of valour and he’d decided to let the senior partner in the henchman hierarchy do the talking)

“What d’you tell ‘im Travis?” he asked, as his visibly shaken mugger-superior approached.

“Shut up you bloody fool,” said Travis, glancing back over his shoulder at Big Jim Little, (who was sitting at his desk with his head in his hands, massaging his throbbing temples, cursing the ineptitude of his staff and bemoaning the low intelligence of the goons you got these days) “he’ll hear you, then we’re both in deep shit.”

“I only asked…,” began Neville, with a surly look on, for want of a more descriptive turn of phrase, we shall have to call his face.

“Well don’t, ok? Just don’t.”

They walked to the car, Travis muttering under his breath and rapidly smoking a foul-smelling handmade cigarette, Neville dragging his feet and sulking like the world’s least convincing, most terrifying schoolboy; hands thrust deep in his pockets, head down, bottom lip stuck out like a bunion in a lorry tyre and his low, protruding forehead knitted in a ferocious scowl that dared the brave, unwitting or suicidal to say something to provoke him.

“We’ll have to go back and see Boris the Frog, find out what happened to the other two in the box before he delivered it to the drop,” said Travis, once they were back in the dilapidated green Range Rover that they’d stolen that morning for the sole purpose of collecting Jim’s package, “maybe inflict a bit of gentle persuasion, just to jog his memory.”

The prospect of physical violence always seemed to cheer Neville up and this occasion was no exception. He immediately brightened up, fastened his seatbelt and pushed a tape into the ancient cassette player on the Rover’s dashboard.

He turned to Travis, idiot grin fully restored, said, “Oooh! I love this one!” and twisted the volume knob to maximum.

With a grinding of gears and clouds of black, oily smoke, the pair of criminal masterminds headed for Boris the Frog’s secure storage facility, barely two miles up the bypass, with Brittney Spears’ “Oops I Did It Again” blaring from the broken sunroof, accompanied by two part harmonies in the key of Duh!

While the dysfunctional duo were heading for his main competitor’s lockup, Jimmy Little was sitting at his desk, carefully inspecting the contents of the package Travis had given him.

If anyone ever finds out, thought Big Jim, I’ll never live it down. I’d be laughed out of town. He winced at the thought.

“But they’re so beautiful.” he said under his breath, as he stroked the smooth, silky mane of the blue My Little Pony figurine he cradled in his hand.

He placed it gently back in the tissue-lined box, next to the purple pony that nestled there already and replaced the lid.
He had expected this delivery to have been the final addition to his huge private collection, he just needed Fluttershy and Applejack to complete the whole set of first edition ponies.

And now that fucking Russian wannabe mobster had screwed him out of what was rightfully his.
Well he’d bloody show Boris the bloody Frog, Travis and Neville would sort him out and bring home his beautiful, silky little playmates and he could reunite them with all their friends.

Boris “The Frog” Ribbitri heard the gravel-in-a-washing-machine sound of the Range Rover pulling up outside and gingerly took the box from his small floor safe. He closed the heavy door and slid the rug back into place, hurrying for the door before those two morons came in and started poking around.
He met Travis just as he was climbing out of the driving seat and while offering one hand in friendly greeting, he held out the box in the other, all the time talking and grinning.

“Oh I’m so glad you came back, there was nearly an awful mistake. You were supposed to take both boxes but they were delivered separately and one had been temporarily misplaced. But you’re here now and everything is where it is supposed to be, thank goodness.”
Boris looked from Travis to Neville and back again, both hands still held out in front of him, “You will take to Big Jim, yes? With Boris’ apologies for the mix-up and my best wishes, naturally.”

Neville just growled, but Travis patted his partner on the arm in a conciliatory manner and said, “Now, now Nev, Mr Ribbitri is being respectful,” he looked up at the glowering giant of a man, “remember what we said about respect?”

Neville wrinkled a brow that already looked like a badly-ploughed field and said, as if reading off some internal autocue, “Yes Travis. We must show respect. We must be polite. We must…”

“Yes, yes, ok Neville, you got the idea,” said Travis and turned back to Boris, who was watching the exchange with some amusement and took the package from him “Thank you Mr Ribbitri, I’ll be sure Big Jim gets this right away. Come on Nev, let’s get moving before rush hour kicks in.”

Travis nodded a goodbye to Boris, who was already on his way back to his office, climbed into the Range Rover and turned the ignition.
Nothing happened.
He looked around for Boris, thinking he could ask the Russian for a jump start, but he’d vanished into the maze of storage units.

Boris the Frog closed his office door and leant back against it, suddenly out of breath and sweating.
This was it. This was the moment he’d been planning for months.

He went to his desk and opened the bottom drawer, taking out a small black plastic box with a stubby antenna on the top and a single red button on the front.
Boris looked at his watch, placed the detonator on his desk blotter and went to the small drinks trolley in the corner. He poured himself a generous measure of vodka, returned to the desk and sat sipping his drink for a few minutes whilst humming a happy tune.

Outside in the car park, Travis had spent nearly fifteen minutes trying to get the piece of shit car running, while Neville knelt in the passenger seat and sang along to Britney’s greatest hits in an enthusiastic but tuneless bellow, with his head poking out the sunroof.

“Right, fuck this for a game of soldiers, let’s go and find Boris, he’ll have to loan us some wheels.” Travis set off in the direction he’d seen the Russian heading earlier, carrying Jim’s precious package.
Grumbling, Neville turned off the music and ambled across the tarmac in the wake of his partner in crime.

Boris Ribbitri, small-time gangster and occasional hitman for the Russian mob, placed his empty glass on the blotter, picked up the small black box, pulled up the antenna and, with a triumphant laugh, said “Fuck you Little Jim!” and pushed the red button.

At the exact same moment, he heard a knock at the door and just had time to look up in horror as Travis and Neville walked in carrying Jim’s package.

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#SoCS

 

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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Return to the old stomping ground…

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This weekend’s prompt from Linda G Hill for her regular Stream of Consciousness Saturday thread manages to tie in quite nicely with the reason I didn’t post anything last Saturday.

” “-cat-”  Use the letters at the start, middle, or end of a word and make it the subject of your post – or just use the word “cat.” “

Ok then…

Back to the old stomping ground.

Ever since Rhonda and Audrey arrived from America this time last year, Audrey has been inordinately excited about the fact that she now has “new cousins” in my sister’s children.
But because my immediate family all live 250 miles away in Crowborough, East Sussex, the only chance she had to meet them in person was in March (when they all came down for our somewhat delayed wedding reception) and we’ve not had a chance to get up there and catch up with them since.

That is, until last weekend.

As the end of the school holidays coincided with Halloween, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make the journey back to the place where I grew up, introduce Rhonda to some old friends, have Audrey spoiled by her newly-acquired grandparents and let her go Trick or Treating with those eagerly anticipated cousins.
So as soon as work was over on Thursday and I’d had a quick shower, we all jumped in the car and headed eastwards.

I’ve made the journey many times over the years, but never at night.
Isn’t it amazing how different everything looks (or doesn’t look) in the dark?

Road junctions for instance.

Especially when there’s an outbreak of cones, roadworks, temporary signs and closed off-ramps on a stretch of previously familiar motorway.

In short, we (ok, I) got lost somewhere around Winchester, had to backtrack a few miles before the unfamiliar became recognisable again and we finally arrived about two hours late.

After spending Friday catching up with family, listening to Audrey chattering happily with her new cousins, playing with my sister’s two cats and being treated to a meal by mum in the evening, we scheduled a trip out onto Ashdown Forest, the setting for A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories.

If you come from Crowborough, it’s pretty much compulsory to go to the world famous Pooh Bridge at least once, to play a game of “Pooh Sticks”, as played by Pooh and Christopher Robin in those enchanting books and we couldn’t go back to my old home town without taking Audrey out there.

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So on Saturday morning we drove over to pick up my old friend Biff and his dog, Luigi, before visiting the official Pooh shop and taking a very pleasant stroll through the forest in the autumn sunshine, culminating in a few races on the river (making certain we gathered plenty of sticks on the way, as the area around the bridge is a barren, stick-free zone) and allowing Audrey to fall in deep boggy puddle, filling her boots with mud and requiring us to make a quick diversion on the way back to change clothes.

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Then it was time to meet up with a few mates at my old local, The Wheatsheaf, a real pub with low ceilings, open fires and plenty of dark wood paneling, a place that never seems to alter, despite the passing of time and changing clientele.
We had a few drinks, caught up with the local gossip and arranged to meet up with anybody we missed later on that evening.

Trick or Treating was obviously the highlight of Audrey’s weekend, getting to dress up and terrorize the locals with my sister’s kids, who were wonderful with her, keeping her entertained the whole time and making our stay a real pleasure.

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It was so good to see Rhonda enjoying the company of my old friends that evening, listening to us reminiscing about our misspent youth and fielding questions about her life in America.
I’m always grateful to have a group of people who are just as pleased to see me as I am to see them, even after all these years away.
I hear about so many people who lose track of those people they grew up with and that really would be a shame because, as Rhonda says, I really do have the most wonderful collection of friends.

Leaving with a promise to return before too long, to spend longer in the land of Pooh next time, we weaved our way back to my sister’s for the final time on this flying visit.

We made sure we left in daylight on Sunday morning, to avoid any more navigational mishaps, arriving home after only a small diversion and just the one deer jumping out of the fog in front of the car.
I rang my sister to let her know we’d made it home safely and she asked whether we had an uninvited cat in our luggage, as one of hers had gone missing. We had no stowaway on board as far as I could tell, but the next day there was a rather worried appeal on Facebook for anyone who spotted an escaped cat to please return it.

Fortunately there is a happy ending to the story, as the errant feline turned up with a minor back injury, slightly disheveled and dehydrated the next day behind a neighbour’s garage, requiring only a quick once-over by the vet and a drip to facilitate a full recovery.

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All-in-all a fabulous weekend, with great people that I’m so lucky to know and a family who have been nothing but supportive in the emotional and financial maelstrom that has made up the last year or so of my life.

Thank you all, we couldn’t have done it without you.
See you all again soon.

#SoCS

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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Food for thought…

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For today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday post, (for which I am once again late) Linda G Hill left us the following prompt;

” “beef.”  Use it any way you’d like.”

Food for thought.

I was preparing a beef casserole for dinner this yesterday evening, glancing now and then at my phone, my Facebook newsfeed scrolling past with its usual menu of cats, memes, weird videos, duck-faced selfies and memes of cats, when one of the more unsavoury status updates about immigrants “ruining the English way of life and diluting traditional family values” oozed its way down the screen.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I’m cooking I tend to drift off and get lost in my thoughts a bit and while I floured the beef and chopped the vegetables I reflected on what “traditional family values” amount to these days.

For instance; this yesterday afternoon, after doing the mundane weekend chores in town, I came home to spend a relaxed Saturday with the family, but within ten minutes of sitting down we were all engrossed in our separate electronic devices.
I was checking my e-mails and catching up with the many blogs I follow, Rhonda was chatting with friends in the States on Facebook whilst simultaneously tending her virtual farmyard and Audrey was tapping away on my tablet, giving us a running commentary on the latest dragon she’d managed to breed.
We were together, we were each aware of the others’ presence, but we weren’t exactly interacting with each other.

Not that we don’t do stuff together all the time of course, in fact it’s often the reason I’m late posting SoCS, there just isn’t the time to fit all my Saturday into Saturday.

Tonight Last night, Audrey and I had our weekly appointment with Dr Who (“Is this going to be gross? It is isn’t it?”) and today there is a pumpkin to carve, a visit to feed the ducks and a walk (or scoot) in the autumn sunshine, just normal simple pleasures to share.

I occasionally wonder if the 21st century’s latest tools of social separation, mobile phones, are killing conversation and turning us into mindless zombies with no imagination, as we’re always being warned, (ironically, via snarky memes on social media) but on balance I think it’s more like social evolution.

Because is it really any different to the three of us all sitting around, reading three different books or magazines?

After all, practically the whole of human existence (not to mention the entire history of the universe) is available on the internet, so maybe we should be a more forgiving of a generation who will grow up with all that knowledge at their fingertips, they might end up being smarter than us.

Speaking for myself, if anything, having all this personal technology has made me more, not less, creative. My first forays into writing were purely down to the advent of the smartphone; the worlds Audrey has built in her dragon game and with Minecraft clearly take plenty of imagination and as for Facebook, well, if it wasn’t for that little addiction, the three of us never would have met in the first place.

Meanwhile, outside the kitchen window, the people from the flat upstairs were clearing a space on the small enclosed patio that serves as their only outside space in order to erect a rotary clothes line.

The family are Hungarian and speak only minimal English, but they are friendly enough and always say hello when we bump into them in the neighborhood, along with various members of their extended family, who are regular visitors.
Yesterday was no exception and before long there were nine of them crammed onto the tiny hedge-lined square of concrete, all offering advice on the positioning of the dryer, inspecting the sturdiness of its construction, or helping to move slabs aside, giggling kids dodging in and out, cups of coffee appearing from upstairs, laughter and lively conversation in a strange language and lots of cheerful faces.

It made me smile just to watch them and when the patriarch, happily surrounded by his chattering family, noticed me watching with amusement, he grinned hugely and raised his coffee cup in salute. I waved back, pleased to be included in their impromptu gathering.

In short, exactly the type of happy domestic scene that most of us probably remember from our childhoods, albeit filtered through the soft and fuzzy, rosy coloured glasses of nostalgia; three generations of the same family, happy in the simple pleasure of each others’ company.

If this is the dilution of English family values that the dullards on Facebook are talking about, I for one think we’re going to be ok for a while yet.

#SoCS

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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Dai, Audrey and the chicken…

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This is becoming a bit of a bad habit now, posting Stream of Consciousness Saturday on a Sunday instead, but Linda G Hill left us this prompt on Friday;

” “ing.”  The first word of your post must end in the letters “ing.” Extra points if the final word of the post does too.”

So…

Busking.

___ing hell, I’ve failed yet again to get my SoCS post in on time.
Oh well, as we’ve had resident Diary of an Internet Nobody cartoonist, my old friend Ho, visiting this weekend, at least I have an excuse.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t go without posting something, so here’s a couple of local musician friends of mine that we bumped into yesterday, Banjo Dai on banjo (obviously) and Sezzy on flat-footin’ wooden chicken, accompanied by my daughter Audrey on marshmallow ice cream cone and spontaneous dancing.

#SoCS

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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Last Supper…

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Good grief, it’s already after four in the afternoon and I’ve only just seen the prompt Linda G Hill left us for our Stream of Consciousness Saturday post this week;

” “expect/unexpected.”  Use either or both words in your post, or simply base your idea on them.”

Ok, let’s begin…

Last Supper.

Eldrin scanned the evening news-vid, noting the inordinate amount of coverage given to the latest fatal droid incident; hardly an unexpected story these days, what with the numbers of droids on the Parallel almost equaling those of Naturals, you were always going to get the odd bad owner who didn’t keep an eye on his property.

I mean, he thought to himself as he poured a second glass of wine, it’s not like it’s the droids’ fault, right? They were just tools when all was said and done; strong, intelligent tools, that was true, but objects to be commanded nevertheless.

It was everyone’s Creator-given right to own a droid and nobody was going to change that anytime soon, no matter how many of those nature freaks campaigned against it.
It had been that way for hundreds of years after all, there was no way they were going to persuade the billions of droid owners across the Confederate Parallel to suddenly go without their cybernetic servants.
It would be like returning to the Pilgrimage days of the old stories, when settlers on the newly-discovered Parallels could only survive with the mechanical assistance of early droid prototypes.

The changes in gravity and polar orientation had made it difficult for the first few generations to acclimatize to the initially hostile conditions of the extraordinary new world they had colonized, so the Fathers had made provision in the Confederate Parallel’s Grand Charter to allow all citizens to possess however many cybernetic servants they required.
The first colonists received their droids as a gift from the World Council, as a sign of gratitude for volunteering to free up space on the catastrophically overpopulated home planet.

“No man, woman or child should be expected to give up their homeworld and embark on The Pilgrimage, save that the Charter guarantees them the right to employ the assistance of synthetic slave droids for the purposes of construction, manual labour, hunting and for the personal protection of themselves and their families. No man may question another man’s right to possess such a device, nor may he deny others the right, even should he not wish to possess one himself.”

And that was the way it had always been.
It was unimaginable that anyone should want to regulate droid ownership, the people wouldn’t allow it, there would be a revolution.

Obviously, thought Eldrin, the more of these dangerous radicals there were, wanting to take away everyone’s rights, just because there were a minority of owners who couldn’t or wouldn’t program their droids correctly, resulting in the occasional lethal malfunction, the more droids they would need to maintain order.
So he certainly wasn’t expecting the announcement that came on the vid he was watching, made by none other than the Overseer himself. He seemed to be pledging to drastically curtail the freedom to own anything but the most basic service or defence droid, with the introduction of stringent vetting procedures expected to come into effect almost immediately.

All because of a few kids getting crushed by a badly maintained education droid that didn’t know its own strength and most of them had survived anyway, barely even a dozen had died this time.

He didn’t understand why they were making such a fuss.

And as for reports from other Parallels, those that had revoked the rights of civilian droid ownership since acclimatization, suggesting that rates of violent deaths were lower than in the Confederation, well they were obviously untrue, those colonists were primitive peasants compared to the enlightened society they enjoyed here.

The sound of plates being cleared away made him look up from his screen, the carefully blank features of the servant droid intent on its work.

“So, I suppose you’ll be for the scrap heap won’t you” he said, grinning maliciously, “now that he’s bowing to pressure from the Natural lobby?”

“Excuse me sir, I do not comprehend your question.” The droid looked at him, an expression of polite enquiry on its face, “my purpose is only to provide service to society, I pose no threat to its citizens.”

“Well he won’t be taking my slave units away,” Eldrin snapped, “I don’t care if they do make it law, they’ll need to pry the control chips from my dead fingers. It’s guaranteed in the Charter damn him!”

“Is there anything else I can get you sir?” asked the patiently waiting droid.

“No, why are you even still here? Get out of my sight, you sycophantic synth, before I have you disassembled.”

“As you say sir.”
The droid moved behind Eldrin, ensuring it was indeed “out of his sight”, then reached out, grabbed his head firmly in both hands and twisted it sharply to the right, then the left, letting the body collapse noisily onto the table before returning to its service cubicle, Malfunction light blinking rhythmically, to await further instructions.

After a few moments of shocked silence, the buzz of conversation restarted;

“…another bad programmer, there are so many irresponsible owners…”

“…you can’t expect them to work right if you don’t treat them right…”

“…you can’t blame the droid, it just wasn’t coded properly…”

“…this sort of thing won’t get better unless they bring in more defence droids…”

#SoCS

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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: A defeatist treat…

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After last week’s sorry attempt at making the cut for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things with Linda G Hill’s prompt for today which is;

” “-eat.”  Use the word “eat” or add letters to it to make a different word. Don’t cheat! “

{18 hours later}

Looks like I’m going to have to feature a caveat to that statement, the one I made in the heat of the moment.
It nauseates me to repeat my offbeat bleat about having to retreat theatrically into an untreated sweat over my defeat at yet another uncreated treatise, sitting here on my leather seat.
The great feat I was attempting to create permeates the overtreated heat of my mind in a deathly breath of beatific anteaters (an analogy that’s hard to beat) and delineates the maltreated laureate with the superheated sheaths of heathen wreaths.

And no, I did not cheat.

#SoCS

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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Taking the shortest route…

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Ok, I missed the window for even a tenuous connection to Stream of Consciousness Saturday at the weekend, but I hate to be left out so here’s my very minor contribution.

The prompt from Linda G Hill was “root/route”.

“I can’t help being excited when I hear the number 4.04124002062

“Why, what’s so special about that number in particular?”

“Oh, I don’t know, I’ve always got my kicks from cube root 66.”

#SoCS

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