Friday, 28 March 2008

No refunds

He was practically having to drag his heavy limbs up the old staircase that led from the station platform to the high street.
Lucas’ body didn’t seem to work anymore. Occasionally, he fantasised about returning it. He would demand to see the manager in order to request an explanation as to why he’d been given faulty goods.
Sometimes the poor shop assistant would shrug and shake her head, confusedly asking how she could possibly help him with the problem of his failing limbs. Other times she would grow angry and threaten to call the police or, worse, extract an axe from behind the counter and offer to remove the offending extremities herself.
This last fantasy would always bring him out of his bitterness with a wry grin. “Lucas,” he’d say to himself, “it’s high time you got over yourself and learnt to be happy again.” After such reflection, he might smack his shin with his cane and continue the difficult walk to wherever it is life had dictated he needed to be going.
The staircase at the station was always a struggle. Of course there was a ramp to the side, for women with pushchairs and cripples in wheelchairs. But Lucas would always forego the leisurely stroll that took one under the high street and then slowly up a sheltered ramp to reach the town’s bus terminal.
His friend, Elizabeth, told him that he was just a stubborn man, a stubborn man who wouldn’t accept the help that society was prepared to offer him. But, to Lucas, the prospect of the long walk up the gloomy concrete ramp was a pointless exercise - a waste of his valuable time. Why should he go out of his way like that only to have to double back, practically right back to the station entrance, so that he could then begin his journey home in earnest?
No, better to take the shortest route, the route any other clear-minded individual would surely opt for. Expert use of his cane, the hand rail, and his legs would soon see him to street level.
All this week, the road outside the station’s ticket office was being resurfaced. For this reason, orange plastic fencing had been set up along the edge of the road, beyond the head of the stairs, where Lucas usually crossed the road.
He usually crossed the road where it was safe to do so - at a designated pedestrian crossing - the only one on the long high street. Without this aid, crossing the road had become more of a climb for Lucas than the old staircase.
Lucas was a man, a grown man, with 35 years’ experience on this planet. Surely he could cross a road, without the assistance of lights that stopped the traffic for him.
The station entrance had an ornate shelter extending out from it that might have dated to before the Second World War. Lucas hovered at the edge of this awning and allowed the many shoppers and commuters to brush and bump him. He regarded the plain grey sky. He regarded the dark tarmac road. He watched the puddles still drying from yesterday.
This man, Lucas, then strolled out into the late afternoon and followed the flow of life as best he could, wending its way down the street.
He stopped, every now and again, to examine the traffic and the chances offered to cross the tarmac river before him. Here a young boy darted between the stop-start cars, there a lone woman stepped out into the street and put her hand up against the movement of the wheels and metal, parting them Moses-like. Lucas shook his head and coughed into his cupped hand.
A bald man shunted by Lucas with two young girls on his arms, dragging behind him. He was eager to cross, and they were dallying, fearful of the road and the bald man’s need to reach the other side. Lucas saw that these children knew this just wasn’t the way to cross a road.
So he sat down. Sat down on the kerb and waited. He picked up a twig and drew patterns across his reflection in the puddle he found there in the road.
A homeless man tapped Lucas on the shoulder and asked if he was okay. He said that he was. That he was just waiting.
So that’s what he did. He waited, and he thought damn hard about how he might go about the difficult process of one day returning his body.

-----

If you liked the tale, you might just enjoy this one too:
The downpour

27 comments:

akaash said...

you know what i like about you... that you are damn hardworking and stubborn as a writer. it helps. [:)]


i promise to drop in here from time to time. to find what keeps you going at this speed.

take care pal.
[:)]

tina said...

I liked the idea of returning one's body because it's "faulty goods" :) Although it wasn't very clear what was wrong with Lucas' body; aside from his needing a cane, what other problems did he have?

I like your example. A tale a day. Not bad; keep it up :)

Lorraine said...

So Paul, It's me again..I tried doing what you said but I failed to get your blog page on.. I write in thedailytale for the URL but I got guy called The Souix Man instead of your page. What did I do wrong? Thank you for helping me by the way.. : )

Faithful 2 U said...

Enjoyed reading your blog. Can't wait to see what is next.

Kelly said...

Hi, I liked your stories. Are you a novelist or short story writer? Can I link to your blog so I can read more as you post?

Dhrubo said...

Returning the body because it was "faulty"?Novel idea...I love the way you write and though this is the first of your stories that I have read,I look forward to many more!

chinkanese said...

i love your writing style very captivating

Bryan said...

So familiar from my life and the few days I spent in England...damn the climb to the high street! Maybe I can exchange my body...it really is a novel idea I should have had years ago, since I'm practically Lucas myself, a decade behind =) And I feel the same way about ramps...certainly they're for wheelchairs and don't help me, as well they feel so redundant!

By the way, I like that you're much more consistent about these little tales than I am with my own. Something to aspire to!

the anecdotalist said...

Nice story I was right there by the side of the road with him at the end.

whydoiblog said...

i read you blog after i saw it on blogs of note. what i liked, apart from the Poe-esque stories, is that yours is a word-blog, not a picture-blog. so rare in today's verbally-challenged world. my blog http://whynotblogitout.blogspot.com/
is also full of words, that's because i'm new to blogging and haven't quite figured out how to add pictures and other site links as yet. could you tell me who are the writers who have inspired you?

Ashita said...

I rally liked your writing and you're really good. You did good job making me feel like I was there and it also make me think.

Laney said...

clever tale. i read "The Downpour" and loved it! i, myslef, have always been scared of dark, stormy nights and being followed by weird shadowy guys on my way home, so i was soooo glad when James made it, lol, and then, the surprise ending! it was great!

Mystique said...

Nice! way to go!

cheers!
dita - www.mystique2008.blogspot.com

Random me said...

I really enjoyed your writing, looking forward tor eading through the older posts. Frankly amazed at the rate that you produce these! :)

Ki said...

nice work.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear Paul,

This is a great project. I applaud your storytelling commitment/stubbornness/obsession/madness.

I'm going to go dig through the archives now.

Yours,
Cheeseburger Brown
Free fiction, updated weekly.

Jesminica said...

Very nice- have rarely enjoyed reading through a blog so much as I did this. It's wonderful to see literature crossing the great internet divide so well, and your plan for posting a story a day is great- not only for us readers, but also, I presume, for you, in terms of keeping you focused and honing your technique.

Keep it coming!

Jakerocksteady said...

Hello there friend! I'm new to this website, but I'm an ambitious writer. I like your stuff, Paul! I'll be keeping up with it from time to time.

Good luck on your blogs, you're heading somewhere, friend.

J-Mo said...

Well, there are some interesting ideas presented, the structure is nice and there are some notable techniques being implemented. However, and this is just my stinker of an opinion, but the prose seemed stilted and borrowed from the cliche'd "reverant" voice, the one that so commonly affiliates with the omniscient third person narrator, almost like an undesirable by-product.

asmee said...

i loved ur stories..............& i'm looking forward to reading more...........! (:/)

ujungsenja said...

hi, nice to come here. good example.a tale a day, good.

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Linda said...

Yum. I can take your words and savor them. Just found your blog, but I'll be back. Thank you.

Aleta said...

Add another fan to your list, because I'm going to be visiting your site often!

It takes skill to write about something mundane and turn it into interesting. You left the reader wanting more, bravo!

Signorina Creativita said...

An excellent story today, Paul. I could relate to Lucas' plight, as I feel like getting a refund on my body some days. Good work, and very intriguing imagery!

Annie said...

Dude, did you spell "curb" wrong???? You spelleed it "kerb".

Or maybe it's just an English-United Kingdom thing.

Paul Bernard said...

Yeah Annie. Kerb is the UK spelling.