Tag Archives: short story

The Improving Tenant

This story was told to me by my grand-father who grew up in a northern industrial town.  Everyone was poor in those days, but some working men were very enterprising, working hard at work, then working hard at home to make a better life for themselves and their families.

One of my grand-dad’s workmates when he was young and just started at the mill was an old geezer called “Old Jack”.  Old Jack who hated town had rented a run-down cottage at the edge of town for a low rent. He couldn’t work on the house during the week because his hours were long and by the time he got home the light was gone, but every weekend, every spare moment and spare penny he got, he would work on the house. He took off the rotting thatch and replaced it with a tin roof which didn’t leak.  He fixed the mis-shapen and sagging windows and put in new glass. And finally he took out the worm eaten door and replaced it with a new one. He was on the point of moving all the rubbish from the garden to start on a vegetable garden and perhaps plant a few fruit trees when the landlord called. He wandered round the house taking in all the improvements. Finally he knocked on the door.

Old Jack squinted up at him.  “You’ve come for the rent I suppose”.

“That I have”.

Old Jack went into the house and came back with the rent. The landlord looked at the money in his hand and smiled. “I see you’ve made a few improvements”.

” I have, that” said Old Jack with a smile.

“Well, I have to tell you that from next week  your rent is double”.

The colour drained from Old Jack’s face. “But why?” he stuttered.

“Well, this rent” said the landlord jingling the coins in his hand ” is enough for the old run down cottage I let you. But now I am letting you a ship-shape cottage fitted out with a new roof, windows and a very fine front door. You don’t expect me to let the place to you for nothing”. The landlord figured he could get just that rent from a new tenant if Jack wouldn’t pay.

“Have it your own way” Jack gritted and slammed the door in the landlord’s face. The landlord shrugged. He would get the new high rent with or without Jack.

There was no way Jack would pay the higher rent, not after all the time and work and money he had put into the place. All week he fumed, asked around at work and found a work mate to move in with and moved his things out.

When the landlord called the following week, Old Jack had gone, and so had the new roof, the new windows and the new front door.  In their place was a pile of rotting thatch, broken glass, and the worm eaten door propped against the wall.  For all his faults, Jack was an honest man and would never take what didn’t belong to him, nor work for nothing either.

Copyright 2015 Prayerwarriorpsychicnot

Based on a real event.

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My Dream

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The spaceship landed in England and the smiling aliens made their proposition. Any working class Briton of any colour was invited to fly away with the aliens for a three year contract doing mundane jobs like clearing tables and cleaning toilets for three times the average wage. and it wasn’t a scam – they were real jobs not a trick to trap the recruits into slave prostitution. Like one man the working class packed up and flew off with the aliens. They figured after three years they could come home and buy a house.

The migrants into Britain were delighted. Now there was a shortage of workers the wages shot up and rents and house prices collapsed. The wealthy elite panicked. They forced emergency legislation through Parliament making India and China part of the European Union. Now people were living on the street and living on a bowl of rice a day – just like home. The European migrants packed up and went home and bought their houses.

Meanwhile back on the spaceship the friendly aliens told the British economic migrants their contracts were coming to an end. In preparation for coming home they were provided with a preview of how conditions had changed. This was greeted with a long, thoughtful silence. Finally someone muttered, “If I’d wanted to live in a 3rd world country, I would have migrated to one”.

Seeing their employees were unhappy, the kindly aliens suggested an alternative. “We know of a small world which has everything you need. Oceans with fish, forests, temperate to warm climate. If you don’t mind fending for yourself we could drop you off. And given it was over-population that destroyed your last world and society we will tweak your genetic code so your population remains stable. When you reproduce, you reproduce your own redundancy. So every time a male or female parents a child, their own life will be shortened by 10 years”.

“Now you’re sure you can manage?”

“We can manage”.

So the spaceship stopped at a small earth type planet and one by one the British working class disembarked; the builders, the road and bridge builders; the plumbers, the electricians; the carpenters; joiners; the miners; the farmers; the gardeners and foresters; the mechanics; the technicians; repairmen; the metalworkers; the glaziers; the nursery workers; the nurses; the carers; the para-medicals; the soldiers; the fishermen; the sewing machine engineers; factory engineers; seamstresses; weavers; cooks; brewers; distillers; retailers; wholesalers; and a wide array of hobbiests.

In no time at all they had a modern, working society, where everyone worked who could and any excess was used to support the very young or the very old or the injured and sick.

Several years on two New Worlders were enjoying the evening sun over a beer.

“Do you miss the old world?”

“No. They had one thing right though, the old ruling class”.

“What was that?”

“Get rid of society’s parasites and you can have a perfect world”.

………………………

Copyright 2015 Prayerwarriorpsychicnot

Things aren’t what they seem

I woke to the sun streaming through the curtains. I leapt up glancing at the bedside clock “Which exam …” then fell back into bed, laughing.  Exams were over. I was on my holidays.  I was free! And the day was too good to waste.

I dressed quickly, grabbed a muesli bar from the fridge and headed out into the sun. Which way? I decided to head up the green knoll. Munching on the bar I headed up the hill, birdsong clamouring in the trees. Twenty minutes later I reached the top, a green field overlooking the woods and town. I thought I would rest on the park bench and admire the view but someone was there before me. I paused. I thought I knew her. She was from the other senior class. Odd girl. Hardly ever spoke.  I decided I would join her on the bench.

“Hi”.

She glanced round but didn’t say anything. I looked out over the woods and town. It really was a lovely day, balmy.

“Peaceful, isn’t it?”

Our eyes returned to the view. The gardener was just opening the gates to the cemetery adjoining the woods. Then got back into his blue car and drove in.

“They’re angry” she said.

“Who is?” I looked round expecting to see whoever she was talking about.

“Them” she said, indicating the cemetery.

Right, I thought. Time to go. I was just about to get up when she continued and somehow I couldn’t stop myself from listening.

“Angela. She didn’t suicide you know”

“No?” I said weakly. Who the hell is, was, Angela?

“She turned back at the last minute. At least, she wanted to, but they wouldn’t let her”.

Clouds passed before the sun and the warmth in the air cooled.

She gestured to the far corner of the cemetery. ” Oh yes, he killed himself.  His wife was troubled. And then a young woman who looked just like his wife when she was younger entered his life. Even had some of the same mannerisms and she encouraged him to do all sorts of things, and made sure there was a copy. Then she told him she would show the film to his wife and his boss if he didn’t do what he was told. If he didn’t betray his wife. His reputation would have been ruined – and his wife’s too. It was the only way out – to protect her”.

She turned to look at me. “And they are after you”.

“They, who’s they?”

“The bad luck, It’s not bad luck. It is being made to happen”.

I staggered to my feet, fear clawing at my stomach. “Well, I’ve got to ……..” Then I saw her eyes. I was looking into black holes of infinity. Yes, she was alive, but there was no-one there.  “…..go”.

I ran down the hill. The sun came out again but I felt cold. All the light and colour seemed to have leached out of the world. The day seemed lit by moonlight.

How did she know about the bad luck?

I staggered into the house and made straight for the kitchen. My throat was aching dry. Just as I pulled open the fridge door I noticed someone had drawn a smiley face on the door with a felt tip. A smiling skull.

…………………

Copyright 2015 Prayerwarriorpsychicnot

The Suicide Strategy

The servant ushered the Chief of Spies  into the King’s Private Chamber. The King nodded at him to help himself to the wine sitting on the table. Caressing his own goblet he gazed steadily at the spy.

“You are sure this will work?”

The Chief of Spies shrugged. “There is no certainty in anything we do, which is why we build in multiple contingencies. If the target evades one trap he will step straight into another. If he avoids two, then a third is lying in wait. And if he tries to do nothing we will make sure that is not an option”.

“I didn’t ask for a lecture”.

The Chief lowered his head. “My apologies. We have been testing this technique on the peasants for years, with a great deal of success. We use it in those situations where we cannot take direct action against the target. Say the target is a completely upstanding citizen. No vices, no weaknesses,  no blackmail potential – incorruptible. The problem is getting to that target indirectly but effectively”.

“Go on”.

“We make the target their own assassin”.

The spy savoured the wine and also that he now had the King’s full attention.

“The one person who can always reach the target, is the target himself. We destroy the targets will to live. He commits suicide. End of problem. Clean hands”. The spy smiled.

“My problem is the old man. He is a thorn in my side. Criticising everything I do. Obstructing my plans”.

“Your father?”

The King nodded. “My father”.

“Would you sacrifice a family member?”

“Perhaps”.

“Is there someone your father is very close to?”

The King smiled. “My sister’s daughter. She has only started to walk. The old man dotes on her”.

“Do I have your permission?”

The King waved a hand nonchalently. “If it gets rid of the old man, do it”.

 

The King asked for the attendance of his sister at an official visit. She arranged for the toddler to stay with her grand-father. They adored each other. The child was running merrily around the house when a message came from the King. Seeing the child was safe indoors he went to receive the messenger. The child was alone in the room. Suddenly she heard her grandfathers voice from the garden. She opened the door and went out. He wasn’t there. Then she heard his voice again. She ran to the end of the lawn. He was still calling her. She went through the bushes and there was a lake on the other side. That was funny. The voice was calling from the lake.

 

An hour later one of the servants spotted something floating in the water. The old man pushed the servants aside and rowed out to the body himself. They saw him pull the infant from the water and cradle her in his arms. Then step from the boat into the water.

………………………….

Copyright 2015 Prayerwarriorpsychicnot

 

Three lads on a wall, window shopping…

(Circa 1960, somewhere in England)

 

Saturday afternoon. Three lads on a wall watching the scenery walk past, discussing cars.

“Jaguar”.

“Merc.”.

“Porsche”.

Some scenery walks past. A pause.

Porsche yells, “Cor, wouldn’t mind some o’ that”.

The young lady so addressed, smiles, simpers and walks over to Porsche whose smirk is widening into a leer.

She looks Porsche up and down, then says “But a dickless wonder like you wouldn’t know what to do with it”, turns on her heels, exits left. Explosions of laughter from wall. Pause. Porsche, a furious red colour hops down off the wall muttering “Just remembered Gran wanted help with …something”.

Howls of laughter. “Yeah, go home and wash your Porsche!”

 

Two lads on a wall, chuckling and thumping each other, watching the scenery walk past.

Young understudy of Marlyn Monroe and friend, appears on horizon. The lads freeze, mesmerized. As she draws level, Merc coughs. She turns. Merc surveys the face he had dreamed about, countless dreams, only younger.

“Yeth?” she says.

Jeez, a lisp too.

Nonchalently, “There’s a good film on at the Majestic ….”

Her face brightens up “Oh yes, ‘Love …'”

His face falls. “Well, it was ‘Battle of …..”.

His lady’s face corrected him. He jumps off the wall. “See you, mate” he mutters. Couple arm in arm exit left.

 

Jaguar sits on the wall not looking at “Marlyn’s” companion suddenly abandoned. In turn she also looks anywhere but him, glancing at the picturesque clouds overhead, the suddenly interesting buildings sky-line. He sneaks a look at her when he thinks she is not looking. She looks more intelligent than the other two put together.

She sneaks a look at him when she thinks he’s not looking. Definitely not stupid.

Each struggle to find a conversation opener likely to be of interest to the other party.

She was bored with the other girls and boys are stupid, but maybe… “A new Jaguar showroom has opened on the High Street. Have you seen it?”

Yesss!!!!!   In his mind his fist punched the sky.

Every day that week since it opened. But he wasn’t going to tell her that.

“Really?” he said, pretending ignorance.”Would you like to go?”

“Love to”. She smiled and he smiled back, facing each other for the first time. Then they joined hands and walked into the future together.

……………………

Copyright 2015 Prayerwarriorpsychicnot

 

There are more people buried by the mouth than the bullet

“There are more people buried by the mouth than the bullet”.  A Northern Ireland saying.

 

I met Jay in the student bar when I was in with my housemates. I’d noticed him about the place on his motorbike. As he poured my drink he commented “That’s a nice bike you ride.” Then with a grin, “You must be one of them”. I took my drink and smiled. “Sorry, it’s just transport”.

“Why sorry?”

“Because I was really hoping you were one of us”. He laughed and turned to serve another customer, but after that when we crossed paths around Uni we would go to the bar or the caff for a coffee and a yarn, mainly about motorbikes.

I met his boyfriend a few times. They had been friends since school and you could tell they were close. They hardly spoke, they were so much on the same wavelength. They plainly adored each other. I think I have never met such a happy couple. Pat realised that I fancied Jay and gently twigged me about it. “If you were a guy I wouldn’t let you in the same room with him”.

I blushed furiously trying to dream up a witty reply. “Leave her alone” Jay said. “She’s like my sister”.

“That’s what you think” I muttered, as they both laughed. But their happiness was not to last.

I was parking my bike when Jay pulled in after me. When he took his helmet off I took one look at him and blurted “What’s wrong?”

He took a deep breath, but he was trembling. “Pat has gone. I don’t know why. We didn’t have a row. He just upped and left”.

We went to the bar but he was choking on his drink and he didn’t say much, then he rose abruptly saying sorry and left, his drink untouched on the table. I saw him a couple of times after that but he dodged me but then in the corridor someone touched my arm and Jay said, “Fancy a coffee?” I nodded and we went down to the cafeteria.

I talked about the bike and some arguments I had had with one of my flat mates who was a bit of a Republican sympathiser. Jay didn’t say much but was looking over at the corner of the room. I turned to look and in the opposite corner with a clear view of our table sat a young man of unusual beauty. I know it is a reaction you shouldn’t have, you shouldn’t objectify people, but great beauty has that effect of startlement. I found myself staring then forced myself to look away. Yes, he was beautiful. But you don’t get men who look like that in this area. I felt uneasy. But Jay was smiling. “Did you see?” he asked. I nodded. “Don’t you think….”.

“Yes. He’s beautiful” I almost snapped at him.

He looked at me quizzically, but I was late for a lecture so I left him to it.

After that I saw them together often. Jay was so engrossed in his new love – he was besotted – he never stopped   for a chat anymore. I felt, but I might have been wrong, that his new beau, Brendan, was separating Jay from his friends. Then one day as I was parking my bike Jay pulled in behind me. I turned with a smile but stopped at the look on his face. It was almost a look of hatred. “Don’t talk to me, ever again. I know what you are”. I stared after him dumbfounded as he stormed away.

I was puzzled, but Jay had had a hard time. His best friend had dumped him and it looked like the new guy was messing with his head. But what can you do? People have to sort themselves out. I missed our chats but it freed me to concentrate on my studies.

It was near the end of term and I was out buying a bite for tea, and on impulse picked up the local paper. A house had been fire-bombed in the main street. The same street where Jay lived. His address.

Feeling shakey I hurried home and spread the paper out on the kitchen table to study the article. Jay was dead. He hadn’t died in the fire, he had been tortured and killed and then the fire started to cover the evidence. But those who’d done it wanted everyone to know who was responsible as the house was fire-bombed. There was no pretence that the fire was an accident.

I was sitting stunned when my flatmate came in, the one with Republican sympathies. She leapt on the paper with glee. “Your little friend is dead and he had it coming”.

” What are you talking about?” Tears were pouring down my face. Jay was the most gentle, kind, funny, innocent person you could find anywhere. “Jay was innocent. He never hurt anyone in his life”.

“Jaaaay” she mocked, “was a Brit”.

“That’s nonsense. He’s Catholic, like you”.

“He was a Brit, you stupid fool. A snitch. A spy!”

A black fog blanketed my mind. I knew that was completely untrue. I remembered meeting Jay in the car park and what he’d said about me. Someone had been spreading lies, dangerous lies, and somebody had believed them. Who would do such a thing?

I couldn’t speak. I needed time on my own to think. I turned to go to my room. Her voice followed me.

“Yes, run away little Prod. We know what you are too. You’re next!”

……………………………

Copyright 2015 Prayerwarriorpsychicnot

Invisible holocaust

“The Statistics are in Sir”.

The Controller brushed past the young man in the corridor as he stepped into his office. “Good. Bring them up to me immediately. And a cup of coffee”.

The young man bobbed his head and dashed away. A few minutes later a fat file appeared on the Controller’s desk. The Controller looked at it then reached into his drawer and pulled out an old-fashioned calculator with a paper scroll. He wanted a hard copy for personal record.

He opened the file and started reading, tapping the numbers onto the scroll as he read.

Bullycides, school …………xxxxxxxx

Bullycides, work ……………xxxxxx

Bullycides, neighbours ……xxxxxxx

Ambulance delays, elderly …….xxxxxxxx

Ambulance delays, asthma …….xxxxxxxx

Ambulance delays, accidents …..xxxxxxx

Ambulance delays, attacks ………xxxxxxx

Elderly neglect, Wardenless Housing…….xxxxxxxx

Elderly neglect, Care Homes………xxxxxxxxx

Elderly neglect, Hospitals………xxxxxxxx

Elderly neglect, withdrawn support………xxxxxxxx

Eldery neglect, denial medical care……..xxxxxxxx

Elderly, death by trauma, burglarly……..xxxxx

Elderly, death by trauma, mugging………..xxxxx

Suicides, suicide/murder carers, dementia ……….xxxx

Suicides, murders, seriously mentally disturbed………..xxxx

Suicides, murders, prison………….xxxxxxxxxx

Wrong diagnosis, wrong treatment, GP’s………..xxxxxxx

Wrong diagnosis, wrong treatment, hospitals………xxxxxxxxxx

Deaths hospital acquired infections…………xxxxxxxxx

Homeless, suicides…….xxxxxx

Homeless, attack victims………xxxxxxxxxx

Burglaries………xxxxx

Mugging…………xxxxxxx

Neighbour conflict………..xxxxxxxx

Deaths caused by police……..xxxxx

Battered wives, suicide……xxxxxxx

Battered wives, murdered……….xxxxxxx

Ex-partners, murdered………xxxxxxx

Prostitutes, murdered……….xxxxxxx

Welfare withdrawn deaths………xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The Controller hit the button for total just as the servant entered quietly and placed a cup of coffee on his desk. The Controller opened a drawer and paused for a moment as his eyes settled on the photo of his beloved father, in Nazi uniform, then pulled out the roll of paper giving the death count for the previous year. Sipping his coffee he compared the figures. They were well up on the previous years but still short of the target. The welfare reforms were working and cuts in support services were having the desired effect. Very few of the statistics were acknowledged even to exist and the mainstream media were doing a capital job of distracting attention from whatever few statistics were available. But he had it all, in front of him, the death count resulting from deliberate, and often invisible to the public, implemented policies.

He sat back in his chair cradling his coffee, then he leant forward taking the photo and gazing at his father bedecked in Nazi honours. You were right about the useless eaters. A healthy society cannot support so many parasites. But your methods were crude. No subtlety. The old, the defective, the sick, you don’t have to kill them. Just take away their supports and they die, and you are not guilty of anything!

He put his father’s photo back in the drawer and studied the file with the death count for the year. He needed to invent new strategies to meet the target. What had he overlooked?

……………………..

Copyright 2015 Prayerwarriorpsychicnot