Attempted Murder.

On yesterday’s walk, Mrs Playmo was showing serious signs of mental imbalance. I told her, and she rightfully retorted, “Well, that’s rich coming from someone who shares her time between singing out of tune and talking to a Playmobil, setting it up in compromising photo shoots and even telling the world about it!” She had a point.

As we turned a corner, she began to cackle with laughter and pointed a claw at the tree on her left. ‘Look! Murder!” I looked at her blankly. She sighed, then stopped and laughed again, uncontrollably this time. Her arm shook as she pointed right, at another tree.

“ATTEMPTED MURDER!” She squawked raucously before rolling on the floor, helpless with laughter. I looked more closely, and finally understood. Here are the photos for you – a virtual packet of Midget Gems to anyone who gets her joke.

The tree on the left... "MURDER"

The tree on the left… “MURDER”

The tree on the right: "attempted murder".

The tree on the right: “attempted murder”.

Little did I realize how well-timed her joke would prove to be. Mrs Playmo was drunk – so drunk that if you cracked a match whilst she was exhaling, you’d get free sunburn.

“That damned Eric,” she babbled, taking huge gulps of rosé from her hip flask. I stared at her. “I thought you like him? Giving him the eye over your Chupa Chups, and all that…”

Mrs Playmo leveled with me and sighed, blasting wine fumes into my unwilling nostrils.

“You don’t get it, do you? That ratbag was blackmailing me. It was a trap! Shacklebottom ratted on me to the police, and good old Eric decided to get to know her better. You know the old line: Wanna come round to my place and check out my truncheon?”

She shook her head sadly.  “I should have seen it coming. Boy, I’m a low-wattage lightbulb at times”. She stopped to fish her knickers out from between her buttocks then set out again, stamping her feet glumly in the mud.

“Shacklebutt and Eric devised a plan together. I should have known – she always puts evil twists in the church pantomime. Eric had to get to know me better, seduce me if he could, and get some incriminating evidence to blackmail me. Then they’d share the cash and run away together. Poor Marcel… The woman’s a goddam man-eater… Anyway, that’s how Eric ended up at the Cabbage Patch Pole Dance Dive with a camera, wig and glasses a few Fridays ago.”

I stared at her, incredulous. “What, you mean you’ve been unfaithful to Mr Playmo?” I gasped. Mrs P burst into tears. “Noooooooo!” She sobbed. “I couldn’t! I love him too much!”

Wiping her nose on my sleeve, she added “…. and I like handbags, rosé and Tupperware parties. That’s life. Had to finance it somehow.”

“Where were you off to on that Friday night?” I insisted, staring into her bloodshot eyes.

“I was delivering the cash to Eric,” she said calmly. “It was either that or he put the photos inside Mr Playmo’s bible for maximum impact at mass on Sunday.”

We walked for a while, feet squelching in the mud. “Is it all over now?” I ventured. “I mean, you gave Eric the money, and he gave you the photos. That’s it, right?”

The look Mrs Playmo gave me could have shrivelled Rocco Siffredi’s appendage to the size of a peanut. “As if!” She snapped. The evil runt went to see Mr Playmo and told him about our meeting, how nice he found me, and how much he enjoyed my pole dancing. Poor Mr P….” Tears began to stream down her cheeks.

“Mr Playmo sent me a text message asking me to meet him at the beach and to chose my weapon well. He brought a Chupa Chups, and said he’d heard it was good to sweeten bad guys up, but he didn’t want to hit me with it. When I got home, I found the incriminating picture of me on the bed, with a rose and a letter saying he needed a break, and was going away for a few days…. That was on Sunday – I haven’t seen him since….”

She dissolved into tears, and blew her nose so hard I was surprised she didn’t turn inside out.

“I’ve got it all sorted now, anyway. At least, I’ve got Eric sorted. I’d like to give you the photo for today’s blog post – I got Marcel to take the picture. He helped me – just two little slow punctures, and poor old Eric needed a mechanic. There’s only one in the village who will go out to the country lanes… and that’s Marcel. Shucks. Life sucks.”

She passed me this photo.

Putting out the fire....

Putting out the fire….

I stared at Mrs Playmo. “No. You didn’t…. clock him on the head with a fire extinguisher, did you?”

“No, much better,” she said, breezily taking a swig from her hip flask. “I had an opportunity to extinguish that “flame of passion” he’d talked about when I first met him. Amazing bad luck, really, the ambulance man said so too. He really shouldn’t have smoked his cigarette so close to that petrol leak on the ground… Now stop gawping at me like that. Close your mouth please – looks like an open sewer in there. Let’s go home and see if Mr Playmo’s back.”

I did as I as told, and as we walked as I considered sending her story to Quentin Tarantino for his next film scenario.

 

 

 

Day Nine: The Cabbage Patch Kids

The Cabbage Patch Kids hanging about at "Ze Chou".

The Cabbage Patch Kids hanging about at “Ze Chou”.

Mrs Playmo refused to be in the picture yesterday due to events beyond her control. She did not have a good day, so I went along with her request to be absent from the picture.

She had already clipped her dress on back to front in her haste to leave the house, and had been decidedly snappy and irritable when I asked why she was in such a hurry.

As we approached the cabbage patch, she started looking around nervously and fiddling with her (-or should I say Amanda Shacklebottom’s-) handbag.  “Are you expecting to see someone in particular?” I enquired, thinking back to her expression the evening before on chatting with the tall, dark and decidedly handsome Eric. “Do you think he’ll let you play with his truncheon tonight?”

Mrs Playmo turned on me, furious. “How dare you! It’s nothing like that! I’m… I’m… The vicar’s wife!” Flushed with anger and embarrassment, she ran ahead of me, and stopped beneath a cabbage leaf. As she opened her mouth to add a new lie to the equation, she was soaked from head to foot. Loud laughter ensued, and four small heads peeked over the leaf above us. The cabbage patch kids are not just a myth, they really exist in Playmobilia. They are crafty little things, and Mrs Playmo hates them (she assures me that the fact that they are Amanda Shacklebottom’s offspring has absolutely nothing to do with it).

“Are you wet, Mrs Playmo? Gosh, can’t imagine how that happened”. Uncontrollable laughter ensued. Mrs Playmo angrily brushed herself off. (Being made of plastic can be an advantage – no clothes to dry and no running mascara.). She turned and looked up at the children, shaking her fist and yelling, “I’ll ‘ave yer guts for garters, yer miserable li’l toads. When I get my ‘ands on you, I’ll slap yer so ‘ard you’ll end up with yer kecks on back to front!”

I was astonished, but made a mental note to remember her rather cool expressions for my own use. I sternly reminded Mrs Playmo that she was, as she had said a few minutes earlier, the vicar’s wife. She grunted and asked me to take a picture of her aggressors for her to show to the police. I have a suspicion that she was happy to have an excuse to visit the local station….

Evicting Mr Merlot

As she walked past the cupboard under the sink, she heard his muffled call. Clear to her, yet imperceptible to others. Laura opened the cupboard and obediently pulled out the bottle. Her brain registered satisfaction as the cork popped and the velvet red remedy tumbled into the stemmed glass.

Mr Merlot – as she had baptised him in a heated, one-sided argument with the wine bottle one evening – had been her companion since Vincent stormed out in anger, dragging Emily in his wake and leaving her in a terrifying silence. Her friends had long since fled, leaving her with two-faced Mr Merlot: her best friend, and her worst enemy. He anesthetized her pain and gently creaked open the flood gates retaining her sadness. He was like her; he hated to be alone, and refused to return to the cupboard until he was spent. So she gratefully drank up his company, right down to the bottom of his bottle-green soul.

Laura winced as she remembered Emily’s hot, tearful face against hers, the day Vince had left. But the judge had ruled that she wouldn’t get her daughter back until Mr Merlot disappeared from her life. She pulled the doctor’s card out of her pocket and inspected it as she sipped at her glass. It was battered at the corners, just like her.

Raising her glass to the kitchen, she silently admitted that she was dependent on the bottle – just like she had been dependent on Vince before he left her. When Laura had stepped off the well-worn rungs of the medical career ladder on to the homemaker’s wheel, she had never intended to stay there for long. She surfaced fifteen years later, and looked up through her domestic haze to see her husband teetering at the summit of his career.

He became increasingly distant until that fateful evening. She had fled to the garage, opened a bottle and methodically drained it in an attempt to forget his words.

“Take a good look at your life,” he had bellowed, glaring at her across the dinner table. His fork remained suspended in mid-air as his eyes locked on hers. « You’re useless, woman!”

She had merely offered up a wry smile in response, telling him: “If you wanted something useful, you should have married a Swiss knife.”  Karma promptly bit her on the backside – he fell in lust with a young medical student from Zürich with DD cup appendages, legs up to her armpits, a Ph.D and a tubal ligation.

Laura was startled out of her thoughts by a movement in the hall, then realised that it was her own reflection in the mirror. She put down her glass and approached with a combination of curiosity and fear – when was the last time she had looked in a mirror? She had avoided looking herself in the eye for too long. Her hesitant fingers traced the length of her cheekbones, then slid her hair neatly behind her ears. The mother in the mirror was tired, but not beaten yet. Deep in her mirror image’s green eyes, she saw life. And her daughter.

A sudden wave of resolve carried her back into the kitchen. Flinging open the kitchen cupboard, she opened and emptied the bottles. “I’m not useless,” she calmly informed the last bottle. “Goodbye, Mr Merlot.” She laughed out loud as the blood-red wine gurgled down the drain, then pulled the card out of her pocket and strode purposefully towards the phone.

Photo credit:  dontshoot.me!

 Note to my regular readers: I have signed up to “Tipsy Lit” in the hope of widening my writing horizons, meeting more bloggers and testing my limits in writing fiction. This post is  my first contribution. My choice of topic is unfortunate given the title of the blog, but it’s what came to mind when I read the challenge… Find the prompt and more entries at http://tipsylit.com/.

FEED ME.

Murphy

Murphy.

Murphy minced his way through the front door, his rubbery legs crisscrossing in a delicate cat walk strut. He sat down at my feet, curled his tail neatly around his butt and stared up at me. A sphinx-like black statue. He meowed delicately – a quiet, meek squeak. His eyes widened, apparently surprised by his pathetic feline performance. He got back up on his paws, stretched lazily and padded around me, rubbing provocatively all around my legs with his black tail stuck up at ninety degrees like a flagpole. Sat down in front of me again. Stared up at me. Then let loose a loud, grating yowl.

FEED ME!

It occurred to me that Murphy doesn’t care much about anything. He can eat stinky cheap cat food at any time of the day or night. He couldn’t give a monkey’s uncle about meal times or his weight. He has no issues with eating week-old leftovers from the kitchen dustbin. He doesn’t care if his bed is covered in hair, and is a nocturnal nomad – he will even swap sleeping places all night without losing his sense of well-being. He rolls in the dust when he feels like it, licks himself clean and starts again. I want to be a cat.

Best of all, he doesn’t care. Nor does he love anyone. No care, no love…. no regrets. No existential dilemmas. No feeling bad about scratching a kid who tried to impose a hug on him. No angst. Just food, sleep and leisure on his own terms. The simplest possible way to exist. We are just the hands who feed him. When he decides. Stroke him. When he decides. He doesn’t have any feelings for us, or for anyone else. I am the cat that walks alone. Feed me, and I will tolerate you. Stop feeding me, and I’ll go elsewhere. He only shows emotion when other animals venture into his territory. Then he renews his vows with the dog and chases the intruder off the property before returning and asking for food.

FEED ME!

Murphy demands again. The yowl has developed into a gravelly and insistent miniature roar that is edged with irritation. I comply. He throws himself at his bowl, and noisily wolfs down his food without the slightest sign of thanks or recognition.  Animal instinct. Then he pads softly into the lounge; curls up in a neat ball on the armchair and transforms into a soft toy. He languorously licks his paws, and inspects me as I open the mail, tut, curse and shred the paper into confetti. His baleful eyes observe me from the depths of a compact black fur ball. Detached and free of emotion. He sniffles and snores as I make phone calls, press stars and hashtags and see my time go by as I wait for a stranger to reply. To give me a solution or to create a new problem.

Murphy’s paws twitch in his sleep. Does he dream? Does he awaken with his stomach flipping over like a greasy egg when he thinks about what lies in wait for him each day? Does he summon up his courage before stretching and stepping out? Does he decide again and again to be a new cat, to stop doing this and start doing that? No, he’s just true to himself. I want to be a cat. Eat. Sleep. Play. Meow.

FEED ME!

IMG_7956

Time up.

This post is very different to what I usually write. Time to try my hand at a bit of fiction with today’s Daily Prompt: The Clock“Write about anything you’d like. Somewhere in your post, include the sentence, “I heard the car door slam, and immediately looked at the clock.”

Hour Glass

(Photo credit: Ömer Ünlü)

I struggled in vain, my fear and anger fuelling the adrenaline coursing though my veins. I was firmly anchored to the chair, my wrists and ankles deadened by the tightness of the tape. Rubbing my face against the shoulder of my pullover in a futile attempt to remove the tape placed over my mouth, I could smell Emily’s perfume. Emily. Please don’t come home tonight. Please stay at work late, please go for a drink with the girls after work, please get stuck in a traffic jam but please, for the sweet love of Jesus, don’t come home.

It had been easy for Anna to get into the house without me hearing her. I’m always half asleep when I surface in the afternoon, and she knew it. All our married life I had worked nights, and she had gradually replaced my presence in the evening with the bottle. First a glass of wine, then two, until I regularly found her asleep on the couch on my return from night shift. Eyes closed to the fresh-faced early morning T.V presenters, she was spread across the couch with the empty bottle at her side, the glass hanging from her fingers.

The bottle comforted her, never asked her any questions, and was always there when I wasn’t. I was no competition, and she couldn’t face life without her newfound companion. The divorce had been messy, and Emily had been my saviour. Anna had never forgiven me.

She hit me hard on the back of the head as I entered the kitchen.The wine bottle smashed with the impact, and I found myself lying on the tiles in a myriad of emerald coloured shards, staring up from between her dirty trainers into her laughing, drunken face. “Don’t tell me that hurt; it was empty, you wimp!” I rubbed the back of my head. “Wouldn’t be like you to waste alcohol,” I fired back.

She crouched down beside me. “Drink this, it’s aspirin”, she said as she pulled my head backwards and forced a small glass of liquid down my throat. Shortly afterwards, everything went black.

When I came around, I was firmly taped to a kitchen chair. She had swept all the objects off the table, and the floor was littered with opened mail, fruit and smashed crockery. A photograph and the kitchen wall clock had been neatly put in their place. I stared woozily at the picture of Emily and I, immortalizing our happiness after she had scraped me out of my misery and catapulted me into back into life.

Anna took a marker pen from the pen pot. She slowly and deliberately penned a moustache and beard on Emily’s face. Despite the rage in the pit of my stomach,  I feigned disinterest. “Why the clock?” I asked her. She grinned, and pulled a package from her rucksack. She thrust it in front of my nose. “See this? I made it. All by myself”.  Wires, dynamite. Oh, Christ.

She turned the strange contraption over and over in her hands, her eyes sparkling like a child who had constructed a new imaginary world. “The therapist told me I should take up a hobby, do you remember? I bet he didn’t think it would be explosives. It’s amazing what you can learn on internet these days”. She pulled up a chair and started unscrewing the back of the clock. “I’ve been practicing this every week for months. Wouldn’t want to miss the fireworks for a silly mistake, now, would we?”

As she talked, she fixed wires to her package. She admired her work with satisfaction then propped the clock up carefully against the  block of dynamite before heading over to the door, wires in hand.

“You’re not going to do that? Surely not? What would killing us do to make you happier? You’ve lost the plot, Anna, you need help. Let me help you”.  The panic was growing in me. She returned, kissed me on the forehead and stretched a piece of duct tape across my mouth. “This is part of my training,” she whispered softly in my ear. “You see, I’ve met someone. If I get this right, he’ll take me on. Remember the therapist? He wanted me to find a job to get over the alcohol, right? Well, it’s done”.

Anna held my face in her hands, her clear blue eyes boring into my soul. “She’ll be home soon. She’ll open the door, and the dynamite will blow. Time over. That’s good enough for me. If I can’t have you, neither can she”.

She grabbed her bag and stepped over the glass and debris to the stove. Slowly, deliberately, she turned all the knobs. “Oh, by the way. The clock’s not part of the equation; it’s just for you to see time go by as slowly as it did for me when you ran off with your redhead. Watch that clock!”

She climbed through the window, closing it carefully behind her. I concentrated on the sound of the gas hissing out of the hobs and the ticking of the seconds hand as it made its way slowly but surely around the clock face.

As each second passed by, Emily got closer. The hourglass was running out on us. I concentrated on the photo. Emily’s smile, her green eyes, her red hair. I twisted my arms desperately to stretch the duct tape, but it was as cold and unyielding as Anna had ever been. I heard the car on the gravel. The engine cut out. I heard the car door slam, and immediately looked at the clock. The key turned in the lock, and the door handle moved slowly downwards.