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Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Stuart's Daily Word Spot: Short Story


Short Story: noun – a form of fiction in which, ideally, an event or series of events interacts with a character in such a way that the character undergoes some change, small or large; any short piece of fiction not long enough to be considered a novelette or novel; a tale, as opposed to an anecdote; a short form of fiction with a beginning, a middle and an end.

And, instead of an illustrative sentence, seems to make sense to provide an illustrative example. One of my own: 

Not the Type to Murder His Wife

Charles, murder Madge for another woman? Ludicrous. Makes you wonder what they were thinking: the police and the court. He’s not the type. Not to murder his wife. Not for passion. Only have to look at him to know he’s the very stuff of decency and stolid convention.
Hair cropped short and never out of place, Brylcreemed down to a glossy mat. Smart suit, white shirt, dark regimental tie and polished shoes buffed until you can see your face in them. Which, by the way, you’re likely to just before said shoe smacks into you, should you dare insult him. Short moustache, permanently stained with nicotine like the tips of the fingers on his right hand. Clean cut nails that can undo small screws or unpick staples.
Of course, he did always say, ‘Madge has a mind as deep…as a puddle of mud and the soul…of a brown boot.’
Big in the Women’s Institute, was Madge. Wore tweeds, would you believe? Made real jam, sponge cakes light as air, proper biscuits. Never break a tooth on Madge’s cookies. Into good causes: save the local hunt, retirement homes for lame otter hounds, that sort of thing. Pillar of the local church: well in with the vicar and his wife.
Big boned woman: heavy. Dark moustache like a line of exclamation marks on her upper lip. Sort of hairy echo of her domineering way of speaking, I suppose. To everyone except Charles.
Good to Charles, she was. Devoted. Warmed his slippers, cleaned his pipe, ironed his Telegraph flat. Meat and two veg every day and a proper roast with Yorkshires on Sundays. Every Friday night she’d pour him a scotch, with a tiny drop of water the way he likes it, before she went up to bed. ‘I’ll be ready and waiting, my dear.’
‘Need more than a ruddy scotch,’ he’d say and we’d laugh.
Perfect wife. And everyone said they were so well suited.
So, folk were shocked when he murdered her. Especially like that. I mean, poor woman, she’d have been mortified. Modest was Madge. Found her in the bath wearing nothing but a natural sponge and an electric fan heater. Hair stood up like stalagmites, they said. Blew all the circuits in the house.
And, I ask you, for what? A blonde tart with legs up to her armpits. Skirts; more like pelmets, wouldn’t cover a ha’penny, if you know what I mean. And a cleavage fit to hide in. Pretty enough face, for a tart. Mind you, wouldn’t do to let Charles hear you call her that. He’d as soon break your neck.
Never any violence in Charles. Wouldn’t harm a fly, as they say. Gentleman. Always holds the door open for a lady and won’t take no cheek. Saw him skelp a young lass once for calling Madge, ‘Fatty.’ Sorted her out. No, wouldn’t stand for anyone giving lip, our Charles.
Apparently, Madge caught them at it. Charles and this blonde. Can’t picture Charles without clothes. Always see him in pin stripes with razor sharp creases, crisp white shirt, very smart and dashing. Had his socks on, though, she said. English, you know. Just can’t see it; not Charles.
Madge said he was grunting like a pig! She could be a bit funny sometimes. I think she imagined that bit. Said the tart was moaning fit to bust. And on clean sheets. She’d only changed the bed that morning. Went out to the Institute to enter her jam tarts and came home to him entering a tart. Naked and gasping on her cream fitted cotton: the ones with jacquard lace edges. So nice. She showed me them the day they came from the catalogue. Lovely.
Big breasts, of course. And blonde, like I said. They always are. Mind you, Madge said it was peroxide: cuffs and collars, if you understand my meaning. Don’t know what men see in them. But then, that’s men for you.
Hadn’t even closed the curtains. I mean, anyone could’ve seen in if they’d been in the garden, you know: standing on tiptoes. Anyone. I know Brutus would have their leg off but that’s no guarantee, is it? Suppose Brutus knew them? He’s a lovely dog; friendly enough if you know how to treat him. They were those blue paisley curtains from Harpers in the High Street. The ones they had on offer last March. Very pretty. I helped her hang them.
Didn’t bat an eyelid, apparently. Made no effort to move after Charles got off her. Madge almost chucked the vase of dahlias at her but she didn’t want to make the bed wet. That big crystal one with the fleur-de-lys motif. Charles’s dahlias, from the border by the shed in the bottom corner. Lovely shades of red. Always good in the garden, Charles.
Just finished, stood, and put his clothes on without a word. Left them to it, she said. Madge didn’t know where to look, poor thing. I mean, she wouldn’t, would she? Just turned her back and told her to get out.
Friday night… this all happened on Wednesday… she poured his scotch as usual. ‘I’m going to have a bath, dear. Take your time: I want to luxuriate in that new Sensual Jasmine from the Avon lady. Why not have another, when you’ve finished? Then I’ll have time to warm the bed.’
Last words he ever heard her speak, I imagine.
Never locked the bathroom door, you know. She told me: open house for Charles. Not any more. Ten years he got. Be out in six with good behaviour. I’ll be waiting.
Charles is such a lovely man, blonde tarts aside. Madge was good to him and she didn’t really deserve that. But it was too good a chance to miss. He need never know. Do his time for the blonde. Come out older and wiser.
I expect Madge was a bit shocked, really, to see me standing there with the electric fan heater. Charles must’ve been a bit shocked, too, when he stumbled through the dark and found her. Of course, I’d gone by then. Actually, her last word was, ‘Aghhh!’ or something that sounded like that.
-ends-
Of course, being a Brit, a bit of a rebel, and prone to break the rules, I don’t necessarily follow all the conventions noted above. But I hope you enjoy this story, regardless.

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