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A Better Idea

by McAllerton 

Posted: 04 April 2011
Word Count: 2075


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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.


Itís Christmas Eve and Iím having a good day. The trees are bare against the grey blanket of clouds. One or two leaves hang on like spare hankies and a tattered carrier bag spiked on a branch rustles in the wind. Thereís no one around in the park at this time of morning, none of the leery men who hang around calling me darling and sweetheart. This massive V formation of geese honk past over my head and I can hear their wings slapping the air. Like a squadron of bombers on a victory flypast after a war thatís been fought against evil and the good come out heroic and they get to fly in formation past the king and queen and generals and all the other pompous twats saluting them. And these geese are just pumping out their honks theyíre just glad to be flying and flapping and I think theyíre honking stuff to each other like hey you on the end stay in position, eyes right, OK you youngíuns watch that tree donít get cocky and I want to join in.
Thatís a good day for me, noticing stuff and thinking all kinds of stupid shit. Iím OK if I can get what I need if I can get out and about and talk to the people I need to. I donít ask for much these days. I used to be different I wanted everything, a house a family a car a bank account nice clothes good job I wanted it all. That was my future. An Oyster card-carrying A1 fucking regular career woman with designer babies and a nanny and a sharp business suit and smart phone and personal trainer and a bit of cosmetic surgery if I wanted it, a butt reduction or boob job or some Botox.
For years thatís how I saw myself in some distant future but it was all getting farther away. One minute I was a pretty 12-year-old in blazer and tie
school photos the next I was in the park thinking about geese and how to get my next bottle of vodka. Oh yeah and there was some man-husband in the background maybe a banker with a clean-cut look in a dark sensible suit and aftershave wafting around him but solid you know not hot and sexy just there solid in the background and yeah older than me and youíre gonna say a father figure and youíd be right cos yeah I had a father but no father figure. See I know the difference. One is a solid guide for you through life and one just gets drunk and hits your mum and never finishes anything he starts, heís painting the ceiling one day and gets half way through and starts drinking and it never gets done and your mum moans about it and he just says donít look at it and heís got enough to worry about without painting fucking ceilings like the rent arrears and the money lenders and he just opens another beer. And now Iím thirty fucking three.
So itís a good day and Iím in the park. Iím on my way to see someone I need to talk to but Iím having trouble remembering exactly where to go. The geese have long gone and itís the afternoon and there are young mums with buggies and toddlers tossing bread to ducks and doing that funny run toddlers do, you know staggering on stiff legs with their arms bent up and they canít stop laughing as they run towards their outstretched mumsí arms. The pond is silvered like a mirror etched with black branches, whatís that word for it? Yeah, mesmerising. My phone battery is dead so I go looking for a phone box.
I ask these women with their kids. ďHey whereís a phone box?Ē And theyíre not really friendly to me in fact they do that thing people do their eyes look at each other a bit nervous and they say try over by the Underground station and I say ďWhich one?Ē and they say the name and point past the pond and the ducks and I walk off and I donít hear them speak behind me they donít carry on talking about stuff as people normally do, Iíve killed their conversation and I donít look back but I know they swap looks. Havenít they ever seen a woman in a grey trackie and hoody before? OK my hair needs washing and my teeth are in a bad way but who do those bitches think they are anyway?
Yeah the teeth need some work I canít remember when they started giving me trouble something happened in a police station and I lost a tooth and then other teeth got loose and you know those dreams you have when all your teeth are falling out and you catch them in your hands and you wake up in a panic, well it was like that only real life. I asked my counsellor once what that dream meant and she said it was about fear of losing your looks, fear of rejection and getting old. Ha fucking ha. My mum used to take us to the dentist and I was scared but she said it wouldnít hurt and sheíd buy us apples on the way home and tell us to brush our teeth twice a day and then weíd not need fillings. Well I donít need fillings now. She lost teeth too. He made sure no other man wanted her.
The clouds have gone and thereís pink orange light behind the trees like an old tie-dye T-shirt I used to have. Itís starting to get dark and I havenít found the Underground station. Iíve been picking up fag ends and asking for lights and I thought itís probably time for me to go to a meeting cos this is it the time of day when I have to have a drink and I know itís better to meet others and talk about taking steps in another direction. Then I see a phone box I must have walked past it cos itís right behind me.
Thereís a man in there and shit it must be the only one for miles around. So Iím waiting for about ten minutes, sitting on the pavement, and what the fuck is he doing in there who talks on the phone in a piss stinking phone box on Christmas Eve for longer than two minutes?
Iím walking up and down, stopping so he sees me, glaring and all that, like this is a public phone box you know. He looks at me and I realise I know who he is, itís that guy who lives over the road with the weasel face and you know what he does? The little shit turns his back to me.
So Iím yanking open the door and Iím like ďHey, I need the phone. Hurry up.Ē And he puts his hand over the phone and heís hissing at me, ďOK OK take it easy please, Iíll be done soon.Ē And he pulls the door closed on me and turns his back again. What the fuck? And then heís putting more coins in the phone and thatís when I realise what heís doing with his other hand near his trousers heís touching himself.
Iím knocking hard on the window and he puts the phone down and I pull open the door and heís mumbling and I canít hear what heís saying and he tries to walk past me and it sounds like heís calling me a bitch. So I let go of the door and give him a little slap on the back of his head. ďWhat are you doing?Ē he says and he goes to slap me back but heís only little and I put my arm up to block him and give him a little slap with my other hand. ďCall me a bitch again,Ē I say. And he starts whimpering ďWhat are you talking about?Ē he says. Heís covering his face with his hands and heís turning away from me so I help him on his way with another little slap on his head. I donít care about using the phone anymore I just want to get away from him and find a drink. So I give him a little slap and walk away.

I get back home and itís dark. I look up at the sky and itís a mass of tingling stars. Weasel face is getting out of his car opposite the flats. He sees me and stares right over, like heís done nothing wrong. And Iím screaming, ďHey, what are you looking at? You weasel fuckface pervert, I know what you do. I know what you do in phone boxes.Ē
He says nothing he gives me this look that says he hates me so I think Iíll cross the road and give him a little slap for that look heís giving me and wipe it off his face for good. ďLeave me alone,Ē he says and goes in his house and I go ďLeave women alone, pervert.Ē
And I canít stop thinking about him in that phone box touching his weasel trousers with his weasel fingers and perving down the phone to some poor woman or worse to a kid whoís picked up the phone when her mum is wrapping presents on Christmas Eve. So I change into pyjamas I find next to the mattress on the floor and I drink vodka and I canít sleep and I wander round and look out the window and the weaselís house is lit up with a Santa and reindeer on the roof and thereís a light on downstairs and I see the weasel moving around and itís 3 a.m. What the fuck is he doing? And I canít stand it and then Iím outside his house in my bare feet and Iím thinking what to do and Iím about to yell to the whole street that thereís a weasel pervert living in our neighbourhood when I have a better idea.
Iím round the back of his house and itís dark in the kitchen so I break the glass in the back door and reach through and turn the key and open the door and slash my hand and blood is running down my wrist and the light comes on and thereís the weasel blinking in the light with a cordless phone in one hand and his pyjama trousers gaping open and I swear I can see his weasel dick winking at me.
So I give him a little slap with my bloody hand and tell him to call the pigs if he dares Ďcos Iíll tell them all about his pervert weasel phone calls. So now heís got blood on his face where I gave him the slap and I slap him again just Ďcos it feels good to see him suffer even though itís my blood on his face.
And then there are other people in the kitchen, small people in Christmas pyjamas, and shit I didnít know he had weasel kids. And a weasel woman is screaming, ďGet out of my house Iíve called the policeĒ, and the weasel kids cling to the weaselís legs. And I back away and feel glass under my feet and I donít want to cut my feet as well as my hand but itís too late so I leap to one side and I must have given a little slap to both the kids Ďcos theyíre both on the floor in the glass and I go to help them only the weaselís wife gets in the way and I put my foot out to stop her from getting cut and she ends up getting a little kick in the face. All the weasels are covered in blood now and I run back out through the door and keep running through the streets and Iím back in the park sitting on a bench. Itís getting light and I hear police sirens and geese and I look up, theyíre heading straight for me. I stand up and they slap their wings against the air above my head and they honk at me loud and clear. I tip my head back to watch and they give me a look like theyíre saying ďYou down there. Something has to change.Ē And I have a better idea.






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Comments by other Members



jamiem at 11:56 on 05 April 2011  Report this post
I like the way you introduce her terrible day with 'I am having a good day', and the humourous description of the geese. This seems full of the sort of things that writing can do that other forms can't - to make a protagonist with bad teeth sympathetic, to make something of a flock of geese beyond its mere appearance. Good that there's action and not just introspection.

I don't have a sense of the story ending - obviously I want to know what happens next, but the return to the geese motif and the confidence of that observation makes her seem less of a simple victim or thug. Clearly she has a extremely misdirected strength of character. From someone else's point of view, this chain of events would tell a very different story - that, to me, is the story.

Jamie

Account Closed at 15:54 on 07 April 2011  Report this post
Hi Mark,

You've really worked this up into a good story. You've pinned down the voice of this woman very well and I like the absence of punctuation in places, which gives the narrative a ring of authenticity.

I like the contrast between her almost dreamy state in the park at the beginning and the horror of the events at the end of the story. Also the return to the park, which suggests that these events, although horrific to us, are not so very much out of the ordinary for her.

This woman fantasises at the beginning about a fight between good and evil and good coming out on top, the hero. This reflects her own good side, the side she wishes would win, but it can't because life won't let it. Yes? I like that.

The bits that don't quite work for me don't work because they seem to conflict with each other. I can't reconcile someone who would know what an air chief marshal was and who once wanted a career and designer babies and everything else with someone who has descended quite as low as she has. Not impossible, and perhaps I'm being blinkered, but the rest of the portrayal looks like someone who started life on a sink estate and had no ambition beyond her next fag or dole cheque. Dunno, could be wrong!

I have a better idea.

Iím round the back of his house


I'm not quite sure what her 'better idea' is. I'm guessing she didn't break in with the idea of slapping and cutting the entire family, and I'd like to have a little more info about what she was originally intending. Also, the mayhem that ensues does seem a little OTT, and her hatred seems to extend to the 'weasel's wife and, more surprisingly, his kids but, again, in the heat of the moment, perhaps this is not so very far-fetched after all.

it feels good to see him suffer even though itís my blood on his face.


really like this line, very telling.

An Oyster card carrying


I had to read this sentence a couple of times to get the sense of if, you need to put a hyphen between card and carrying.

Iím about to yell to the whole street that heís a weasel nonce


Isn't a nonce a paedophile? Or is it any kind of sex offender? I suppose there's every reason she might mis-use the term or falsely accuse him, but I point it out in case that was not your intention.

I am surprised that you haven't been writing very long, this is quite an accomplished piece particularly as you are male and have managed to keep her female even though she is very coarse. Ooh, that sounds so sexist (and possibly a bit patronising, not intended), but I hope you know what I mean!

BTW, happy birthday for last week.

Nice work.

Hope this helps.

Jan

<Added>

Ah, perhaps the bit about air chief marshals and bombers et al is the bit where your maleness peeks through?

McAllerton at 22:50 on 07 April 2011  Report this post
Thank you Jan for your kind comments and the critique. The 'better idea' was meant to be the kind of meaningless impulsive act that you might do after lots of vodka and weed (not that I know much about that of course). I liked the phrase and thought it was funny to have her think this when we know that whatever she's about to do probably isn't 'better' than anything else she might have thought of.

Yes - I did wonder about nonce. I'll look into it as I think you're right.

I also wondered about the military ranks - hmm maybe she would just say a load of pompous twats in uniform (?)

Thanks again.

Mark

Findy at 07:56 on 09 April 2011  Report this post
Hi Mark

Great story, I liked the slow build up and the fast pace towards the end, the lack of punctuation was nice. Felt very sad for her, but I couldn't guess her age...at first I thought she's well past her forties and then it seemed as though she was in her twenties...maybe I've missed something?

Now that Jan mentioned it yes, the military ranks par is sticking out a bit

fehmida

<Added>

sorry, military ranks part


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