Tag Archives: fiction

1064. To change a lightbulb

Barney was just about to leave home for work when a lightbulb went pop. It was on his front porch, and since he would get home in the dark (it was winter) he grabbed a bulb from the cupboard and changed it.

He arrived at work (he was a school librarian). Upon arrival, just as he switched on his office light, the lightbulb went pop. What a lightbulb-popping day!

Barney went to see Dave, the school caretaker. Dave said that Barney would have to fill out an order form. The order form book was in the school office, but Sharon the secretary hadn’t arrived yet.

Thirty minutes later, when Sharon arrived, Barney filled out the order form. Sharon said it required the school principal’s signature but she was in a meeting at present. “Just leave it with me,” said Sharon helpfully, “and I’ll get her to sign it once the meeting’s finished.”

Two hours later, and still in a dark office, Sharon phoned to announce to Barney the conclusion of the principal’s meeting. All was signed!

Barney took the order form to Dave, and Dave said he was out of lightbulbs but would order some in. Dave went to see Sharon in the office to get an order form, but she was out to lunch. After lunch, Dave got a signed order form for a box of lightbulbs. Was anyone going into town so they could be picked up immediately, or should they be couriered out?

Robyn, the Head of English, said she wanted to go into town and she could pick them up. But was she going to get a travel allowance because she was using her own car and chewing up her own gas? Sharon said that if Robyn filled out the appropriate form and included an estimation of the distance then a travel allowance could be considered.

The next day the light bulbs still hadn’t arrived because the school Finance Committee met only on Thursdays and they had to approve all teachers’ travel allowances. Barney said he’d go into town on his own pocket and pick up the box of lightbulbs, but he was informed that it was school policy not to allow staff to pay for things themselves.

A week later, Barney was still in the dark and hadn’t done any work, but progress had been made. He had stealthily transported a lightbulb in his briefcase right into his office. He needed a ladder, so he went to see Dave. Dave wasn’t there, so Barney simply took the ladder from the shed.

Would you believe? Just as Barney was up four steps of the ladder, Amanda entered Barney’s office. Amanda was the school union representative. Indeed, she said, it’s alright to change your own lightbulb, but it is against health and safety regulations to be more than two steps up a ladder. You could fall down and do an injury. The school would then have to fork out untold money in compensation. And anyway, what was he doing with one of those lightbulbs that were no longer regarded as ecologically friendly?

Listen, dear reader! Something wonderful has happened! It’s been seven months now without the lightbulb, but the principal has promised it will be done by next Wednesday. Provided of course that…

695. You wrote it, it must be true

695fiction

I just shot my mother. She was hanging out the washing. She was reaching into the basket to pick up one of my shirts to hang on the line, and I pulled the trigger.

Bang! Dead! Just like that. I had told her to change the brand of laundry powder. The one she used stank of lemons. I’d walk around stinking like lemon zest. All my friends would say poo! Did she change the brand? No! So bang! That’ll be the last shirt she’ll hang.

“The shirt is not the only thing that will hang,” said the judge at the trial for my mother’s murder.

“But,” I said, “I’m a fiction writer. I make up stories. My stories are not true. I didn’t murder my mother. I don’t know who did. I wrote that piece about her murder before she was murdered.”

“So what you’re saying is that it was premeditated?” said the judge.

“It wasn’t premeditated at all,” I said. “It was a piece of fiction writing.”

“But fiction must mirror life,” said the judge. “Clearly all writing to some extent must be autobiographical.”

The jury agreed with the judge.

I’m writing this from Death Row. Perhaps if I write about my innocence they’ll start to understand how fiction works.