Dream Pitch

A shorter version of this was a recent compo winner despite having to be whittled down to 1500 words. This is the full length and unrestricted version that delves deeper into the reasons behind the protagonists’ decision.

 

As the story will appear in my forthcoming collection ‘The Ombudsman’s Ombudsman’, I am just leaving here the first page as a taster.

“Ouch that smarts!” He exclaimed as he tried to pick the remote control off the floor. He thought to himself that that was utterly depressing, that he had come to this, plagued by aches with every movement, prescribed medicines for everything he has had, and susceptible to everything he has still managed to avoid.

“You shouldn’t try to overdo things the way you are.” She said. It was not like she was being discouraging, but to some extent, every pang of pain that shot through his body seemed to be transmitted to hers. Sometimes she bemoaned her good health, she was almost a decade younger than him, but had never known him as anything other than the energetic firebrand that turned her world inside out.

“I’ll try a bit of that soup if I may.” His voice almost whimpered out the request. Where was the voice that boomed? Consumed, like the rest of him. She went towards the kitchen but was interrupted by the sound of the intercom.

“Nobody knows we’re here, do they?” She asked. “Nobody, hardly nobody, I mean, knows just how bad you are, do they?” She asked with that look.

“I have followed yours and the doctor’s orders.” He smiled.

She picked up the intercom and looked over to him. “It’s George.” She said, giving him that look again.

“I didn’t tell him.” He said as she left.

She returned a few moments later followed by George and told them she would leave them to it. He was not sure what was going on, maybe his medicine was causing him to hallucinate but that was not George. He hadn’t actually seen him for a couple of years, but people don’t change that much.

George, sat down and made himself at home.

“It’s good to see you. Well, let me rephrase that. It isn’t. You look dreadful. That is because you are two days away from death. Never an easy piece of information to digest so I like to get it out there without fuss. You’re not a well man, but I have an offer for you that I would like you to consider. All ears?” George said.

He knew that he should not listen to this imposter, but something told him to give the guy a listen, the way he felt at that moment, two days seemed like an awful lot to bear. He nodded to the man, who continued.

“I can offer you another five years. Pain free, illness free, exactly five years. But there is a catch. The world will believe you will be dead in forty-eight hours, only your wife will know that you are still here, and only she will be able to see you. The offer is on the table for the next two hours. I assume you have some questions, I will grant you three.” George smiled at the man.

 

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The Stuck Home Syndrome

As the story will appear in my forthcoming collection ‘The Ombudsman’s Ombudsman’, I am just leaving here the first page as a taster.

 

 

 

“Go to your bedroom!” I said it in that voice I know he hates, the mocking one, he hates it because he thinks it doesn’t sound like him. I love it for just the opposite reason. When you’re 8, and there are enemies everywhere, victories like this can mean the world.

 

I throw a tennis ball against the wall for a bit, knowing that that will cause him to sprint up the stairs to extend my punishment. That’s what he thinks. That’s what they both think. An extension of my punishment. Here, in my palace. Twelve square metres filled with all the dreams in a child’s head. Outside the door are simply all the nightmares that dreams cannot vanquish. (I got that word from a comic.)

 

I thought about escape a while back. Escape where, though? Could I make it to Leeds and my Aunt Mabel? Would she take me in if I got there? If she did, some snooping neighbour would blow the whistle on us and turn me in. Back here. I used to fear the blows. Not now. The blows are honest. That expression of hatred for my existence is as honest as you will find. Now, it’s the caresses that I fear. Hatred dressed in lies. She hits, he caresses. Then they both hit. Then my older brother hits.

 

At least when he is angry his mind never wanders to that facet of his persona. I wonder if there is anyone in today? It’s a right stinker, so I doubt that they will be out. Just a quick peak under the bed.

 

“Hey guys!” I whisper. I don’t want them downstairs catching my secret friends.

 

“Those downstairs.” A voice replies. It’s Gruffle! “I have a message for you from the others. They want you to meet them at the end of the garden. Take a coat and your gloves.”. And with that he was off through the crack in the wall. Today was no day for sneaking out into the garden but then I thought, I can’t actually get in any more trouble than I am in. They can’t give me any more pain than this, so what will happen if I meet the guys? You might think they are monsters and ghouls, but to me they are a brilliant new world.

 

I try the door and it’s locked. Boo, that’s not sporting. The drainpipe it would be then. The last time I had to shimmy, Gruffle, Snuffle, Trushle and Mushle were all waiting below to catch me if I lost my footing. This time I would be alone. I stuffed my gloves into my pocket and climbed out onto the ledge. Looking down, I reminded myself not to look down. I got half way down and lost my grip, I’m only slight (they see to that) yet the drainpipe feels like it is coming away with me. Down we go. That hurts.

 

I’m not knocked out. I know that, but it hurts. There is no sign of Gruffle or anyone else. But a voice does ring out. “You alright, lad?” I can’t place the voice, but it sounds local. Then again, I have never been anywhere so maybe it’s hard to tell. “That needs looking at.” He continues. “Mike here is a doctor, come with us.” My parents always told me not to go with strangers, despite being the strangest people I had ever met. I could make out the figure of my brother in the kitchen, if he saw me, it would be much worse. I decided to go with Mike, the doctor.

 

We got into a car that was waiting just a few doors down and drove off. This could be quite an adventure. I thought it was odd when we got to their house that Mike had still not spoken. Nor had either of them taken off their hats, what were they called again, the ones that cover everything except the eyes? Despite the central heating being on full blast. It was nice inside. Not like my house. It smelt clean. The man who helped me up brought me a glass of milk and some biscuits, chocolate digestives! The last time I had one of those, my brother licked off the chocolate on mine and made me eat the soggy biscuit remains. This was better than Christmas.

 

 

A Man For All Treasons

As the story will appear in my forthcoming collection ‘The Ombudsman’s Ombudsman’, I am just leaving here the first page as a taster. 

 

This is an attempt to write a kind of obituary / life-story in one through the setting of the story in a television studio where they interview three people key to the life of a disgraced Italian businessman and politician.

Granada Studios, Subterranean Broadcasting House, March 19th, 2034.

 Female Reporter’s Voice:

 

            If you have had your Newscaster lobe operational these days, there is no way that you will have been able to escape the news of the demise of the former Italian politician, entrepreneur, bon viveur and scandal magnet Enrico Fettuccini, who has died in the Scaloni Prison in Milan aged 81.

 

A man who surely requires no introduction from us and who has historical volumes a plenty devoted to him, but tonight we wanted to provide a different angle on a man who is famous, or should I say infamous, the world over. Yet what we know is often limited to hearsay, exaggerated beyond all belief to accommodate the solely accepted view of Fettuccini being the devil’s representative on the Earth, a man so inherently evil and twisted that he must have been born without a modicum of goodness, manufactured maybe, rather than born. The product of everything that is rotten and wicked in our society. A man who took advantage of everyone and everything that came in his path to create a vast personal fortune and rose to the highest levels of power, only, for when he was brought toppling down, he would return stronger than before, convincing the evermore gullible public that he was repentant, only for his next attack to go further, to hurt deeper. Or have we all missed something? Did he have a message that we failed to comprehend?

 

We have tracked down four people who were close to him in four pivotal periods in his life: A teacher from that harsh childhood riddled with poverty that would shape his drive in later life. His personal assistant from 1981 to 2002, a person who remained loyal in testing times. His second wife, and lastly, his cellmate, the latter being the only person in whom he confided in the final years of his life.

 

With these testimonies, the aim is to create a fuller account of a man about whom millions and millions of words have been written, andwhose real modus operandi has been interpreted by every historical commentator and occupants of bars since the early eighties.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you. The Real Enrico Fettuccini.

 

 

One More For The Politburo

As the story will appear in my forthcoming collection ‘The Ombudsman’s Ombudsman’, I am just leaving here the first page as a taster.

This is an attempt at an alternative history rewriting the life of Stalin.

 

St. Petersburg, November 7 (Gregorian Calendar) 1917

Petrograd Soviet. 2ndFloor Bar

 

            “It’s getting late. Tomorrow’s a big day. Make this the last one.” Zinoviev gestured to the others in the room that the time for celebration had yet to come.

“Grigory is right.” Lenin seconded his second. “Sleep well tonight, dear Comrades, for tomorrow revolution will be ours and all of Mother Russia will be in the hands of the Bolsheviks.”

The rest gave an immense cheer and downed the rest of their glasses. The punch of the last drop of vodka fooling their bodies into a sense of warmth as they made for the cold streets.

Zinoviev also head for the door, before Lenin stopped him in his tracks.

“Grigikins, you know my thoughts on Joseph. Try and make sure he gets lost in the crowd tomorrow. If you could, try and ditch him, if we want this revolution to work, the best thing for us, I mean Russia, is Joseph’s energy being sapped on the battlefield. I would rather write a letter to his wife naming him a martyr of the Bolshevik revolution, than have to clip his wings when he starts to fly. I assume we are in agreement on this matter”. Lenin turned to his deputy.

“Vlad, man, you overestimate him, or worry too much. He’s all talk. I get the impression he doesn’t believe he’s got this far. He’ll be happy just to hang around with the big boys. Utterly controllable.” Zinoviev remarked.

“I’m not so sure. I think it would be best if his input were limited. A wrong turning, an unfortunate ambush, something like that would be within your purview, wouldn’t it?” Lenin asked him.

“Consider it done, with pleasure. Sleep well Comrade.”

“и ты” Lenin concluded.

 

 

 

           

 

Craig Cavanagh

       Seville based translator and on-off roving football reporter who dabbles occasionally with the pen. Other works include a novel entitled Costa del Trolls, the story of a group of good-hearted yet ultimately flawed thieves who up sticks and join an international crime organisation in Marbella. 11 Noches, a novel written in Spanish, with the assistance of my wife who acted as editor, the story of an everyday yet uninspiring town that receives no sunlight for 11 nights and the townspeople’s endeavours to restore the light. All presently available at good on-line retailers. His latest collection of stories, Collected Third Millennia Piffle is available on line for free or from Amazon in paperback at a reasonable price. 

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