Speak For Yourself

So I’ve just realised it’s been more than three months since I posted a story here directly – the last couple have been on other sites. So here’s a story set in my fictional town, Upshott Creek (which I haven’t visited lately, and have missed a bit). Full of stupid jokes, this one. Hope you all like it.

I stroll into the newsagents, which looks shabby, and approach John behind the counter, who looks shabbier still.

‘Excuse me?’ says John, his piggy nose wrinkling in confusion, the morning light shining off his baldy head.

‘What did you just say about my nose?’ asks John, his eyes swivelling like a lady’s hips at a seventies disco. I ignore him and pick up my paper and my daily bag of pickled onion Space Raiders, and give him the smile that’s seduced so many of the town’s most attractive womenfolk, although I must point out that I am not trying to seduce John in any way. You can smell John’s body odour through walls.

‘How dare you!’ he screams. ‘I had a bath just last week! And why are you talking to yourself?’

John never was the sharpest saw in the hardware shop. ‘I’m narrating,’ I say to the simpleton. ‘Narrating my life.’

‘Why?’ he asks, pursing the lips that not even his mother would want to kiss, although she can’t kiss anyone now. She died in an accident involving a man’s huge organ several years ago.

‘It was a piano!’ says John. ‘A piano fell out of a window onto her head when it was being moved.’

I nod, sagely. Yes, now I remember.

Your piano, in fact!’

My pride and joy, that piano had been, before John’s mother’s skull had put a hole right through it. A tear wells up in my eye, in a manly sort of way of course, as I remember the times I used to tickle the ivories. I’ve tickled John’s mother’s ivories a few times too, although that’s a different story.

‘You did what with my mum?!’

The vein on John’s forehead is pulsing unpleasantly. I should get back on track, like one of those train drivers everyone admires so much, such as the handsome chap who used to drive the 2.15 from Upshott Creek to Penge.

‘Wasn’t that you?’ says John.

I nod. ‘I’m narrating my life,’ I continue. ‘Everything I do or think, I describe as if I’m in a book and someone is telling the readers what’s going on.’

‘But why?’ asks John again, once more wrinkling his-

‘Don’t start that again!’

‘Because,’ I tell him, suavely, ‘I consider my every thought and action to be of considerable importance to mankind…’

John seems to be having a coughing fit. Smoking 40 a day will do that to you. I expect his lungs are as broken down and ruined as his mum was the day she headbutted my piano.

‘Stop talking crap about my mum!’

The vein looks ready to explode, a bit like his mum during my visits to her place. I carry on with what I was saying.

‘…and so, in doing this, I hope to pass on my wisdom, document my life, and in general inspire future generations to the giddy professional and personal heights that I have reached.’

‘You drove a train! For a month! 15 years ago! Then you quit to write your self-help book. How’s that going, by the way?’

I smile, raffishly. Life’s Great Train Journey: How Living On The Tracks Helped Me Overcome Signal Failure is going rather well. I’ve written the foreword. Just the other 25 chapters to go.

‘Signal failure? Is that a euphemism? You can get pills for that.’

I pretend to laugh. John has always fancied himself as a comedian. At least someone fancies him.

‘Oi!’

His mum once said to me, after I’d ticked her ivories – her A Sharp was very sensitive, as I recall – that she was worried John would never find love, and as a realist I had to agree. Who could love such a bulbous, balding, toadlike creature? She smiled as I said that and said, ‘Oh, you’re so right. And so handsome. I think I might be falling for you,’ and I said, ‘Baby, I appreciate that, but I’m not a one-woman man,’ and though she was obviously heartbroken she told me that her door would always be open for me, and I knew that she was using ‘door’ as a  euphemism for ‘legs’…

‘That’s it!’

John leaps over the counter with all the grace of a stunted bullfrog. His chunky fist flails at my face, and though I smartly avoid it with the skill of Bruce Lee at his peak, his carcass barrels into me and knocks me to the grubby shop floor, where my head almost falls into a pile of rat droppings. Astride me, his fists come at me time and time again, knocking out my beautiful front teeth. I feel my nose crunch beneath his bestial rage before I’m saved by Robert Robby, the local bobby, in for his nine o’clock packet of pork scratchings.

Robert hauls the portly shopkeep off me. Fortunately, he hasn’t damaged my pristine Dolce and Gabbana suit.

‘What are you on about?’ says Robert. ‘I saw you fish that suit out of the canal last week. It still smells of trout and fag ends.’

Robert doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s a known liar. Slip him a fiver and a packet of Chewits and he’ll let anyone get away with anything.

‘Scuse me?’

He stands there, beady little eyes peering out from under his shiny helmet. It was something he’d got from his mum. Not the shiny helmet, that was standard issue. I mean, in the old days, before her accident with that huge piece of meat…

‘Why’d you make that sound like a euphemism?’ demands Robert, his cheeks puffy and red like a chipmunk with chicken pox. ‘She got hit on the head when that five-pound gammon joint fell on her at the butcher’s. Someone leaned on the shelf and knocked it off. You, in fact.’

It had been delicious that gammon, one of the all-time greats. I put it in sandwiches and brought them to Mrs Robby’s wake. Robert had not been grateful, using words you’d think he would refrain from at his dear old mother’s send-off. Anyway, as I was saying, Robert gets his ways from his mum. In the old days, before the accident, you could also slip Mrs Robby a fiver and a packet of Chewits – or sometimes just the Chewits – and she’d let anyone get away with anything too. I remember one time in that alley round the back of the Leaky Cock…

Robert’s face turns purple, and he reaches for his big, black stick.

‘Stop it with your euphemisms!’ he snarls, sweating like a pig on slaughter day in July.

My reflexes aren’t what they were. I see his truncheon come flying through the air towards me, gripped in his chunky little fist, and can’t get out of the way before it catches me smack on the temple.

I hit the deck, striking the back of my head on the grotty lino. John’s gloating, lizard-like grin hovers above me. My blood splatters all over the floor, next to the boxes of pickled onion Space Raiders.

I just have time to notice that they have a Best Before date of 2009 before everything goes black.

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6 thoughts on “Speak For Yourself

  1. Oh dear Dave, what are you like? I always suspected Upshott Creek was somewhere along the Penge line, thank you for confirming this (I grew up a stone’s throw from Penge – writing’s always been my escape). Some great gags as usual.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Sian! Glad you liked it! The Penge thing is a nod to an author called Robert Rankin, who often writes in a very similar (and better) style to how I’ve written this story. He often references Penge.

      Like

  2. Great to find a fellow Robert Rankin fan – the man is hilarious and as soon as I saw the reference to Penge I had my suspicions 🙂 I love writing this sort of thing and I love reading it – very funny and delivered plenty of laughs, nicely done!

    Liked by 1 person

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