Tag Archives: tale

1866. The final meal

Troy Meadowcroft had waited on death row for what seemed like an eternity. He was due to be put down (in a merciful and humane way) any day now. The newspapers were full of it. The guests to witness his electrocution had been invited and were currently selecting what to wear before heading in that direction, looking at last to be able to avenge their loved ones murder.

One of the more interesting features reported on was the prisoner’s final meal. One could order (within reason) what one wished. Troy had never liked complicated food. He requested simply pork sausages and French fries with splashes of malt vinegar and salt.

Letter One: I was amazed at the reported menu of Troy Meadowcroft prior to his execution. You would think humanity would have dragged itself out of the swamp by now. Pork sausages and French fries! How irresponsible is that for the prison to allow (in fact espouse) such unhealthy food? Are there no principles left when the prison authorities care not a hoot about prisoners’ health? And all that salt! Goodness me!

Letter Two: My religion forbids the imbibing of hog meat. I was horrified at the casual attitude taken by giving the prisoner pork sausages, as if such things didn’t matter. It was nothing short of scandalous. It was an affront to all sincere believers. And to feed a prisoner pig meat when so close to death is an instant invitation to the fires of Hell. I was deeply offended.

Letter Three: I couldn’t help but think that the man called Troy Meadowcroft who was put down recently had a touch of class. No one these days thinks of putting malt vinegar on their pork sausages. It is delicious, and something we used to do frequently when we were younger. Three cheers to the prisoner, and I would wish him a long and fruitful existence of enjoying life’s simple things if that was still possible.

Letter Four: Quite frankly I hope the prisoner choked on his pork sausage. The combination of foods looked disgusting – especially the salt and malt vinegar. I’m normally against the death penalty but in this case I’ll make an exception. The world is certainly better off without him and probably safer. People these days, especially those with money, have no sense of taste. Like my auntie.

Letter Five: What a waste of good food. People don’t seem to realize that people are starving and all we hear about is how a prisoner about to expire anyway is fed pork sausages and French fries. If only they had electrocuted the man a few minutes earlier, and then all that lovely food could have been shared by people in need. Waste not, want not.

Letter Six: Electrocution and lethal injection for condemned prisoners is nothing short of the authorities taking the easy way out. In the old days when we lined people up against a wall to get shot I would imagine you could see the terror in their eyes. They were paying properly for their crime. Regarding the final meal; wouldn’t it have been funny if instead of pork sausages they had stuffed cotton wool inside the sausage skins? Then the man would start to hoe into his final meal and it would all be fake. And use garden fertilizer instead of salt. And French fries made out of chicken poo or something hilarious like that. Stuff like that. You know.

Editor: This correspondence is now closed.

1865. Early shopping

(Dear Faithful and truly-tried Readers – sometimes it’s rainy and dull outside (it is winter here) and blogging takes on the flavour of the weather. So since I’m twiddling my thumbs I thought I’d go silly for a time – which is why my nomenclature on this blog is now Cloven Ruminant. (You can still call me Bruce – and anyway, Cloven Ruminant is better than Split-hoofed Cud-chewer). Quite a number of excellent bloggers are configured in a pseudonym so I thought I’d do the same and free myself from the shackles of expectation. Those shackles of expectation can at times be nullifying to ones creativity, so I’m breaking free! One never knows what riff-raff the cat might drag in when using another name. Incidentally, the goat gravatar is not a selfie but a picture of Billy my Goat. I’m younger and more beautiful. Anyway, here’s today’s story. Thanks – Cloven Ruminant).

Goodness! It was only July and already Malvina had finished her Christmas shopping. She had six children, five in-laws, and seventeen grandchildren. It was so much cheaper to buy suitable gifts throughout the year. Not only might they not be available closer to Christmas, but sometimes during the year things were on sale. Given the large number she had to buy for, every little saving was a great relief for Malvina.

As each gift was purchased, Malvina would wrap it carefully in Christmas paper and pencil the name of the person-to-receive. One year she had attached little cards to the gifts with the person’s name, but by the time Christmas arrived some of the cards had fallen off and she had to open the gifts to see who should get what. These days, as it neared Christmas, she would attach name cards.

And so it was! Here it was in July and already the Christmas shopping was done, the gifts were wrapped and well-hidden in a suitcase at the back of her bedroom closet. She had to hide things particularly well because all seventeen grandchildren were budding sleuths. So far, thankfully, they had never ventured into her bedroom closet.

Goodness! It was only September and already Malvina had finished her Christmas shopping. She had six children, five in-laws, and seventeen grandchildren. It was so much cheaper to buy suitable gifts throughout the year. Not only might they not be available closer to Christmas, but sometimes during the year things were on sale. Given the large number she had to buy for, every little saving was a great relief for Malvina.

Goodness! It was nearly Christmas and Malvina hadn’t even started her Christmas shopping. Usually she shopped for gifts throughout the year, but this year the time had flown. “I don’t know where the time goes to,” she said. She thought she had bought some gifts earlier, but she couldn’t find them. Usually she hid the gifts in a box in the cupboard in her garage but there was nothing there. How the years melded into one another. She must have shopped for the previous year!

1858. Jack the giant killer

Jack the Giant Killer is an English fairy tale and legend about a young adult who slays a number of bad giants during King Arthur’s reign. The tale is characterised by violence, gore and blood-letting. Giants are prominent in Cornish folklore, Breton mythology and Welsh Bardic lore. Some parallels to elements and incidents in Norse mythology have been detected in the tale, and the trappings of Jack’s last adventure with the Giant Galigantus suggest parallels with French and Breton fairy tales such as Bluebeard. Jack’s belt is similar to the belt in The Valiant Little Tailor, and his magical sword, shoes, cap, and cloak are similar to those owned by Tom Thumb or those found in Welsh and Norse mythology.

Jack and his tale are rarely referenced in English literature prior to the eighteenth century (there is an allusion to Jack the Giant Killer in Shakespeare’s King Lear, where in Act 3, one character, Edgar, in his feigned madness, cries, “Fie, foh, and fum,/ I smell the blood of a British man”). Jack’s story did not appear in print until 1711. It is probably an enterprising publisher assembled a number of anecdotes about giants to form the 1711 tale. One scholar speculates the public had grown weary of King Arthur – the greatest of all giant killers – and Jack was created to fill his shoes. Henry Fielding, John Newbery, Samuel Johnson, Boswell, and William Cowper were familiar with the tale.

“Mummy, could you just get on with reading the story?”

1857. Magic mushrooms

Cameron was wandering through the forest for no particular reason when he came across a little collection of hallucinogenic mushrooms. He knew they were hallucinogenic because he’d seen photos of them in a woman’s magazine in the dentist’s waiting room. There was an article in the magazine about how not to touch these mushrooms, because although they were very pretty, they were also dangerous.

However, the article did narrate how some people used the mushrooms to undergo an out-of-body experience, and others had used them simply to provide a kaleidoscopic in-your-face state of mind. All in all however, the article had said “DON’T TOUCH”. It was that warning that came to Cameron when he first saw and recognized them in the forest.

When he got home Cameron searched for more information and discovered they were called psilocybin mushrooms, and the effects of psilocybin mushrooms come from psilocybin and psilocin. When psilocybin is gets in the body, it is broken down to produce psilocin, which is responsible for the psychedelic effects.

The online information was most educational and in the end Cameron knew with certitude that what he had found in the forest were psilocybin mushrooms. The only thing the information didn’t say, and Cameron couldn’t find the information anywhere, was whether or not he was meant to dry the mushrooms first and then smoke them, or ingest them the way they were, or dehydrate them before eating. In fact, was he meant to cook them like regular mushrooms?

These mushrooms have a short shelf-life, so if anyone out there knows?

1856. The fart cushion

Hilton was a little bit surprised when he opened his birthday present from Jude. Jude had been a life-long friend but lived far away. They still remembered each other’s birthdays and would send gifts through the mail. This year Jude had sent Hilton one of those trick fart cushions that you put on a chair and it sounds like someone farts loudly when they sit on it.

A fart cushion – or a whoopee cushion, whatever they’re called these days – was funny the first time; like back in 1842AD when Hilton saw (or rather heard) his first one. These days they were about as funny as a tetraplegic in a three-legged race. Why Jude had sent him one for his birthday was anyone’s guess.

Hilton wrote to Jude thanking him for his gift. Ha ha ha! said Hilton. It was great fun thank you. He fooled his three year old grandson who thought it was a scream. And so, Jude, it brought much joy on my birthday!

Hilton never worked out why Jude had sent him such a stale trick that was both useless and unfunny, and Jude never said. Which possibly explains why none of us, dear Reader, have the slightest clue either.

1854. Lone tree

I was walking through the fields quite casually, just looking. I had my digital camera with me. The local Photography Society was holding a competition. The prize was a super-duper digital camera. The subject was “Trees”.

There were a number of categories, all to do with trees. There was a category for forests, one for lone trees, one for native trees, one for introduced species of tree, one for dead trees. There was also a category for a video of a tree, which I wasn’t going to enter because although I’d had my camera for quite a while, and the camera had the facility to take videos, I’d never got around to learning what buttons to press. The capturing of a video was beyond my technical ability!

I wasn’t having much luck photographing trees because there really were no interesting trees about. Suddenly, just above the gnarled top of an old cedar, as I was focusing, a fleet of alien space craft appeared. They were in convoy. I suppose there were six of them. I took as many photographs as possible; after all, my digital camera can take hundreds of photographs without getting full. The experience was thrilling!

That is the last thing I remember of that incident.

I awoke in the same field, in the same place. When I got home I discovered that a whole two months had passed; I had missed two months. Clearly I had not been lying unconscious in the field the whole of that time. The experience was disorienting; kind of wonky. I really didn’t know what to do; who to tell. If I told anyone of the experience they would smile and say “Yeah right” meaning I was talking nonsense. So I kept quiet about it.

When a little later I downloaded the photographs on my camera onto my computer (it was now too late to enter the competition) there were the photographs of the alien convoy I had seen. They were blurry as photos of alien craft always are. But as well as that there were seventeen clear photographs and a video that I had not taken myself.

Oh my word! Oh goodness gracious! I have never seen scenes so breath-taking. It was sheer beauty. It was indescribable. Here was my chance to show other people, and then perhaps my strange experience would be believed.

The first time I went to show the photographs they were no longer there; they had disappeared, on both my camera and computer. I can still see the wonder of those photos in my mind’s eye. Extraordinary! There can be no doubt that I was abducted. The aliens had clearly fiddled with the camera in perhaps a futile attempt to understand what the contraption was for.

Yesterday I got a phone call from the Photography Society asking when was I going to pick up the digital camera I had won? I can tell you, as honestly as the day is long, I never entered that competition. Ever.

1852. After the long journey

How wonderful! Rafferty (known to his friends as Raff) belonged to the Spiggyholes Ornithologist Society. Like most bird-watchers he was consumed by a passion for observing birds. Every Saturday, sunshine or not, he would disappear into the environment with camera and binoculars.

It was on one of these Saturday excursions that Raff spied a pair of Condove Variegated Flicktails (Australissimus flickbumibus). These birds were native to a neighbouring continent and had never been seen in this country before. When I say “neighbouring”, the continent and Raff’s country were separated by a sea of hundreds of miles. The pair of Condove Variegated Flicktails (Australissimus flickbumibus) had clearly been caught in a massive storm and been blown across the ocean. It was not a migratory bird. Such a thing happened only once or twice in a century or so. If the storm-blown birds settled and reproduced they would be classified as “native” to the country because they were not introduced by humans.

Raff’s excitement knew no bounds. The Condove Variegated Flicktail (Australissimus flickbumibus) was by no means a boring bird, unlike most of the native species of his country. The native species were all black or dark grey or dark brown or dark green. Quite dreary really! Whereas the Condove Variegated Flicktails (Australissimus flickbumibus) were a bright and colourful addition to the native fauna. Let’s hope they breed.

And sing! My word! Could the Condove Variegated Flicktails (Australissimus flickbumibus) sing or what?

Raff wrote an article (complete with photographs) for the Ornithological Bulletin, a monthly magazine dedicated to the promotion of native species of birds. What a furore the article caused! Half the readers were thrilled with such a colourful and musical possible permanent settler. The rest of the readers were dismayed. The new species would undermine the habitat of the native Leaden Brown Muted Caw-caw bird (Boringdullnus dozimus).

That’s why a representative was sent by the Government’s Ministry of the Environment to shoot the Condove Variegated Flicktails (Australissimus flickbumibus) dead.

1851. Memory lapse

Vernon was the head organist at a notable cathedral in a major city. (It’s no use trying to guess where it was because this is fiction). Vernon couldn’t remember how many sermons he had endured.

During the sermon Vernon used to pop out onto the tower balcony for a quick cigarette. He could easily duck out because he was in the organ loft high above the clergy and congregation. He looked way down on them and his disappearance would not be noticed from below.

He could vaguely hear the preacher from the tower balcony. Sometimes, if the preacher droned on, Vernon could have several cigarettes. Being the only one ever to use the balcony (it was blocked to tourists) Vernon had an old plum jam tin where he chucked his butts. It was a large tin, and in the eleven years of being the head organist he had emptied it three times. As he said to his wife, “It shows you how many sermons I’ve endured.”

On this particular Sunday (it being a notable feast day) the visiting preacher was particularly wordy. Vernon was hearing for the third time that “perdition awaits those who don’t agree” when he realized he had accidentally locked himself out on the cathedral tower balcony.

This was the very weekend that his wife had gone to visit her elderly mother in another city quite distant from the cathedral city. His disappearance would not be noticed.

What a shemozzles! No one could hear him call out and he’d locked the door from the church up into the organ loft, so no one could dash up to find out why he wasn’t intoning the hymns on the organ. Nor was it one of those Sundays when the choir was there.

The visiting clergyman used his initiative, and in the event of not having an organist simply intoned the opening words of each hymn and the congregation took it up without accompaniment.

The service was over. Everyone went home, except for Vernon high in the tower locked out on the little balcony.

The day turned into afternoon; the afternoon to evening; the evening to night. It was starting to get cold; very cold. Vernon had wet his pants. He was out of cigarettes. Have you ever tried to break down a centuries-old iron door on an ancient gothic cathedral? And then it started to rain. He would die of the cold before he starved to death.

That was when Vernon remembered his cell phone.

1850. How I (usually) write a story

When this blog hits a roundish story number (in this case Number 1850) I try to blather on in a way more meaningless and useless than usual. Every second posting on the Net seems to offer advice on how to do this or that; how to increase readers to the blog, how to write a blog, and so on.

I don’t purport to be an expert (in anything). So today, rather than tell you how to go about writing a story I thought I would tell you how I go about writing a story. Perhaps the odd snippet might be of help. Possibly not.

This is me cooking, but I could just as easily be cooking up a story.

When I start writing a story I have absolutely no idea how it will end.

First of all, when I rise in the morning I check the news online, and look at the obituaries to see who has expired that I went to school with. From the obituary column I take one or two female and male names and jot them down. I don’t jot down any surnames, just the first names. I jot names down because by the time of a second cup of coffee I will have forgotten everything.

Armed with a name, the first sentence gets written. It can be anything. Sometimes it’s suggested by the name. Who cares? I type out whatever comes in my head. Today the selected names are Sheree, Ferris, Beverley, and Rex. Pick a name; if more enter the story the other three names are waiting!

Let’s start:

Beverley was forever sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong.

Isn’t it exciting? Who knows what she will do next! Who knows where it will end up!

Beverley was forever sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong. It seems that she stuck it in where it didn’t belong just the once too often.

Handy hint: Throw in little details to give the illusion that things are happening in real life.

Beverley was forever sticking her nose in where it didn’t belong. It seems that last Saturday, mid-morning, she stuck it in where it didn’t belong just the once too often. She had been baking for the first half of the morning and now was taking a small basket of oatmeal cookies to Ferris, who worked on the corner mending and sewing horse saddles for the rich and indolent. Beverley had heard that his marriage had disintegrated several months earlier and she, well, kind of fancied him.

“Hi,” said Beverley. “I was just passing on a visit to my grandmother’s when I thought I’d pop in to see how you’re doing. No doubt, with your wife no longer being at home, you miss the odd bit of home cooking. So I bought you this basket of homemade oatmeal cookies.”

“That’s very kind of you,” said Ferris. “Yes, I certainly miss the home cooking since Sheree has gone.”

“I suppose,” said Beverley tentatively, “she is not coming back?”

“You supposed right,” said Ferris.

“So how are you coping on your own then?”

“Why the hell don’t you mind your own business?” said Ferris, chucking a large pair of pliers and a mallet onto a pile of leather next to him. “What’s it to you?”

“I was just trying to be sympathetic, that’s all.”

“Well you’re a bloody nosy-parker. I don’t want your dried up cookies. You can take them away and piss off.”

“I heard,” said Beverley rather rankled, “that Sheree hadn’t left you at all, but you did her in and hid the body underneath the floorboards of this workshop.”

Ferris saw red. The collapse of a marriage is a very gruelling experience. One never knows what will happen next. Beverley’s been missing for just on a week now. No one has thought to look under the floorboards of Ferris’ workshop. And, yeah, Ferris enjoyed the cookies.

(Well I’m as surprised as you are).

1846. A sometimes over-sombre occasion

This, declared great grandmother Thelma at her husband’s burial, this family is now matriarchal. I am now the person at the top; not grandfather. He did a grand job holding this family together, and now it’s my turn.

I didn’t at all like the way he favoured some over others. From now on we shall all be equal. None of this privileged nonsense of boys over girls when it comes to handouts. Yes, I know there is some Chinese blood crept into the tree, but they are children of grandchildren, and therefore they don’t count. I can’t be responsible for everyone in the human race. After all, we’re all descended from Eve – and Adam.

To help out those in the family less fortunate I would ask those families well-off, and let’s face it that’s most of you, to make a generous donation to the memorial fund for Dennis. You would have seen a box for donations at the church door. Or you can mail it.

I reiterate, this is now a matriarchal family, and…

Come along now Thelma, said Nurse Sherry. Nurse Sherry was in charge at the retirement home just across from the cemetery. Thelma was forever dashing out when there was a burial, standing on the artificial grass mound, and making her regular speech. In fact, some mourners grew to be a little disappointed if Thelma failed to turn up. She cast a certain insobriety to a sometimes over-sombre occasion.