Friday, 25 August 2017

Beware! Micro-Tales: A Bad Flagful Of Uglies

Need to downsize? Beware! has your sanity in mind. Simply replace the heavy contents of your groaning bookshelves with our quality-equivalent* miniaturised range of feather-light, lovingly-frosted Micro-Novels. These delicate confections take up so little space (physical or mental) that you will feel like you're living in a vacuum! Dare you put it on blow...?

*89% of 440 people surveyed in March 2017 sounds like it would be a convincing figure. Full research pending.

A Bad Flagful Of Uglies

"Duck, you sucker!"
   Bullets whistled over their heads as they crunched down behind the ridge, a pair of tight balls creaking in leather.
   Wrong place at the wrong time. The war had come to town before they could get out.
   Tuco the bandita licked his parched lips and peered down the chambers of his trusty Colt. Beads of sweat trickled down his forehead. "Hey, Blondie."
   His companion, the tall and stoic bounty hunter, scanned their surroundings with his steely, thin blue eyes.
   The nervy Tuco exercised his shooting fingers, stretching and rubbing the fingertips. "You got a plan?"
   Not a word was forthcoming.
   "I know you Blondie, you always got a plan."
   "I got a headache, I know that much."
   Nearby was the body of an unlucky soldier in Confederate grey. Flies explored the many bullet wounds.
   "Eh Blondie. The sooner they quit with this fighting, the sooner we can head for the border in peace, huh?"
   Blondie let out a long sad breath. "Not a lot of peace to be had these days. Wherever we wind up."
   Tuco was needing to chat to ease the tension. "One thing I tell you. No way I'm joining no Army. Man got to be an idiot to sign up. The only thing Tuco fights for is himself."
   The sun beat down hard. Vultures circled overhead.
   "Tuco, any principle in life you would fight a war for?"
   "Principle? Pah - Pesos, my friend! I'd fight for pesos. I wouldn't die for principle."
   Blondie played Devil's advocate: "They give you dollars in the Southern Army, enough for you?"
   "Army dollars - pittance! You'd fight for idiots too, hey!" Tuco mimed animatedly with his hands. "They gain a mile, lose a mile... guard the bridge, hold the bridge, die for the bridge... I mean, what is a bridge? They die for bricks!"
   Blondie peered through a crack in the rocks down towards the old town square, now a ruined battlefield occupied by a tired rabble of Confederate troops. A bunch of black slaves were working amongst them as labourers, attempting to shore up rickety buildings. Left out in the sun were several crates of what was clearly assorted ammo, yet to find their new store.
   "The grey backs have got their slaves doing their dirty work."
   "Fighting to stay slaves, huh! Fighting for their masters."
   Blondie's eyes glittered. "Waiting for their moment, maybe..."
   A lot of horses and mules milled about near the broken stables, none tied up.
   "It seems to me, in war or peace... these Southern men - those with the whip hand - they just want the owning of everything they can get. Land, people..."
   "Eh, the people. Man shouldn't own people like they do."
   Sure the angle was covered, and overcoming any momentary pang of conscience, Tuco crawled forward on the hard dirt and, shooing away the flies, gingerly felt the dead man's pockets for anything usable. "Tempting though, eh Blondie?"
   Blondie glowered at him with even more contempt than usual. "Nope. Give me my horse, and provisions... and let each man to his own."
   Tuco made the mistake of looking into the dead Confederate's glassy eyes. Sickened, he retreated to his starting position, crossing himself and muttering to Mother Mary as he did so. Then:
   "Did he really die for a damned flag?" Tuco crossed himself again.
   Blondie lined up his stolen Spencer rifle using his left arm to lean on. His eyes sharpened to pinpricks.
   Three shots. The first hit the old church bell, which clanged out gloriously like Christmas day to draw attention.
   The second hit the nearest crate of munitions, setting off a chain reaction of hand grenades and gunpowder that might just provide enough confusion for the slave workforce to turn on their masters, just as the assorted livestock fled in every direction.
   The third went through the rope holding up the hastily-hoisted Confederate flag in the town square. If Tuco and Blondie had looked back, they'd have seen the unsecured flag tumble free of its pole, and flop unceremoniously onto a convenient freshly-laid pile of steaming horseshit.
   But they were already on their way.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Poetry Hallway - Croyland Otter Loses His Mind Over the Onset of Winter

Come in. Be mindful to step OVER the envelopes piled on the mat. Don't walk through them, or we'll want to know the reason why. We'll attend them in due course; the majority will be placed in the nearest postbox, marked 'RETURN TO SENDER', for Croyland Otter does like to lick stamps.

Oh, how we tried to dissuade Otter from submitting further material to Poetry Hallway. We care about your literary pleasure, really we do. But since the poetry-scape is a gradient, with jewel-encrusted gold stuff at one end, and terrible arse-scrapings at the other, we felt that we had a duty to waft the latter under your nose, that you may experience balance in all its trueness. (We try damned hard to offer better-quality poetic musings, but they are hard to come by.)

That doesn't mean we're happy about it; nor does it mean that you have to be, either. Regardless, this latest wordy ejaculation from Croyland demonstrates his fragile mental state, and no one is more interesting and worthy of scrutiny than a damaged artist. Long may he remain critically messed up!

One point of interest is his brief mention of former Conservative MP for Northeast Cambridgeshire, Malcolm Moss. We thought we might get something politically charged, which would have demonstrated an interest shift for Otter. We didn't.

Winter Rapes My Precious Bog

Flatly peat land, turning white,
Halting whiffs of muck-spread shite;
Turnips piled, obscuring light,
My Fenland playground, hid by night.

Crystal blanket pulled across,
Choking brown beneath the frost;
Bludgeons like a Malcolm Moss,
Lecturing in the ways of loss.

Passing pubs of ill repute,
Where Tony Martin hid from dues;
Snow is piled upon their rooves,
Hiding those forensic clues.

But I care more for silty sludge,
Than for a farmer with a grudge;
I cannot help but love so much,
That slippy, silty, Fenland sludge.