“Darling; have you got a minute?”
“I think you might want to come and look at this.”
“What is it? I’m busy with my presentation in here.”
“Come and look. It’s the most beautiful sunrise I’ve ever seen. I know you’ll love it. And bring your camera.”
“It’s nice, I’ll grant you but I’m not sure what it is.”
“It’s in the east, so it’s a sunrise.”
“I wish I had your confidence. It looks wrong to me.”
“Well, if it isn’t a sunrise, what do you suggest it is?”
“Remember the film ‘Close encounters of the third kind’?”
“Have I seen it?”
“Of course you have. We watched it together on the flight, the first time we went to Orlando.”
“God, how long ago—”
“Oh five, so fourteen years ago.”
“And you expect me to remember it from that long ago? I don’t even know if I liked it.”
“You did. Think back. You’ll remember it.”
“But you can still quote from Contact, and we saw that well before then.”
“Do you believe in God, Dr Arroway?”
“That’s the one.”
“Don’t remember the other one, though. What was it about?”
“Hang on – was there a bloke making a mountain out of his mash? Everybody thought he was going crazy?”
“That’s the one.”
“With you. Great film. But what’s that got to do with this sunrise.”
“Remember when the aliens arrived; the light coming over the hill?”
“Isn’t this a bit like it?”
“Meh – possible, I suppose.”
“And isn’t this light staying a long time for a sunrise?”
“It is a bit, isn’t it?”
“And that’s not the only thing convinces me it’s something unusual.”
“I’ll buy it. What else makes you think it’s not just an abnormally long-lasting sunrise?”
“It’s two in the afternoon!”
This was written in response to Kreative Kue 232 published on this site.
Kreative Kue 232 asked for submissions based on this photograph:
John W Howell is the author of the John Cannon trilogy of My GRL, His Revenge, Our Justice and Circumstances of Childhood, co-author of The Contract, and blogs at Fiction Favorites.
The Store by John W. Howell © 2019
“Excuse me. Do you work here?”
“This orange apron with my name written with a Sharpie by a two-year-old says I do.”
“Oh, good. I really could use some help.”
“Well, sir, as our motto says, “No item too obscure for us not to carry it.”
“Just retail humor, sir. I’d be glad to help you out. Now, which way did you come in?”
“More retail humor, I’ll bet.”
“Yes, sir. Seriously now. What can I do to help.”
“See this screw.”
“Yes, sir, I do. Rather small little thing, but I do see it.”
“I need another one just like it.”
“That shouldn’t be too hard, sir. Follow me.”
“Oh, thank you. I have been wandering around for hours, it seems.”
“Goodness, do you need some water?”
“I could use some, I suppose.”
“Here, take this canteen.”
“Yup. We are required to carry a canteen in cases like this.”
“Is this sanitary?”
“Don’t worry, sir. I have never been accused of backwash yet.”
“Thanks, I’ll wait until I leave.”
“It is ten miles to the exit, sir. I think you will thank me for the water later.”
“Fine. There now I feel better.”
“Ah, here we are at screw acres.”
“Yeah, that’s the name of the section. Don’t tell me you are one of those weirdos who makes a sexual innuendo out of everything.”
“Where are my screw sizes.”
“Sir, I’m going to ask you to stop. You are making me uncomfortable.”
“I just want to get my screw and get out of here.”
“Understood, sir. You. will have to wait to get home for that. Anyway, here is the section for tiny screws.”
“Here is my size. Wait, does this come in a quantity less than 10,000.”
“I’m afraid that is our smallest, sir.”
“Who buys that many screws?”
“You’d be surprised, sir. Now is there anything else I can help you with?”
“I guess you could give me directions to the exit.”
“Don’t you have a map app on your phone?”
“Yes, I do.”
“It would be a lot easier for you to do that. Once you have the directions, I think you can hitchhike your way there.”
“Yeah, all the carts with loads usually stop for pedestrians. Good luck to you, sir.”
“I still don’t have my screw.”
“I would try our on-line store, sir.”
“Yes, sir. https://saveatriptohell.com.”
“Always happy to help. Bye, sir.”
“I wonder if I will wake up now?”
My effort was
“John, where are you? Over.”
“Aisle one-eighty-seven. Why? What do you need?”
“Just to know where you are. Over.”
“George, when did you get your discharge?”
“That was a couple of weeks ago, John. Medics gave me some cream and it’s cleared up now. But thanks for asking. Over.”
“Not that discharge, you numptie, your discharge from the army.”
“My demob? Over.”
“If you like. When was it?”
“Three years ago. Over.”
“So when are you gonna stop using the intercom as if you’re still in uniform? We don’t bother with Roger Wilko, over, over and out, or any of that stuff here.”
“Have you finished? Over.”
“Give us a chance. I only got this picking list three minutes ago. There’s a good half hour’s work here.”
“Not that. I was asking if you’d finished talking. Over.”
“You didn’t give me any indication. How do I know you haven’t got more to say? Over.”
“I can see what you’re doing, George. You want me to start using all this military rubbish.”
“It would make it clear that you’ve finished and you’re ready for me to talk. The way we do that in the army is to say over. Over.”
“Well, the way we do it here in civvy street is to listen for the squelch when I release the talk button. That means I’ve stopped talking. Okay?”
“Stopped, but not necessarily finished. Over.”
“You might release the speak button so you can scratch your nose, or pick something up or any number of things. Not necessarily because you’ve said all you want to. Over.”
“George, do you know the difference between a pendant and a pedant?”
“Course I do. One’s a thing you hang around your neck and the other one’s a really annoying person. Over.”
“Close. A pendant is hung around your neck and a pedant should be hanged by the neck.”
“What are you saying? Over.”
“I’m saying, don’t be so damned annoying.”
“How am I annoying? Over.”
“Forget it. What did you call me for? I’ve got work to do.”
“Oh yeah. I’m doing the crossword and I’m stuck. Over.”
“What’s the clue?”
“Four letters; sequence of six balls bowled by a single bowler. Over.”
On to this week’s challenge: Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at email@example.com before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.
Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries next Monday.
In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.
As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.
A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.
Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.
Knight after Knight. Chapter ten, part three.
The day after we arrived back in Dar, Lindy told us that Roger was starting his move into Nocturne that day. Max and I agreed that we’d put off organising our office space so we could help out a little. Lindy, bless him, pointed out that we were both more than seventy years old, so shouldn’t attempt anything heavy. Cheeky little sod!
I spoke with Roger later in the day, as we were helping him to move his stuff into Nocturne. He was happy to give me details of the letting agent who controlled the house he was leaving, and even gave me a letter addressed to the agent explaining that he was leaving in order to move in with his spouse following his marriage and that he believed that Max and I would make excellent tenants. He told me that the letter didn’t mention the gender of the person he had married, explaining that the lettings agent was probably the most traditional, stick-in-the-mud person you’d hope never to meet. Whilst he had no reason to give in to her petty-mindedness, he did say that he wanted to keep her on-side in case he needed to use her services again. He also gave us his key and directions to the house.
Before handing the letter over, we thought it advisable to take a look at the house to make sure it would be suitable for us. Apart from one of the bedrooms being larger, significantly so, than the other; a topic that Max and I would doubtless need to discuss at length; it was perfect in dimensions and rooms, and was in immaculate condition.
“You wouldn’t think, to look at it, that there’s been a single man living alone in it for a good few years, would you?” I asked Max.
“You’ve never seen Lindy’s house then?”
“Of course, but Lindy is Lindy. I’d expect him to keep his house pristine.”
“It looks like another thing Lindy and Roger have in common. I think Nocturne is in excellent hands.”
I didn’t argue.
We visited the letting agent, gave her the letter and introduced ourselves. Naturally enough, in keeping with what Roger had told us about her, she was a long way from happy that we had not gone through the ‘proper’ channels to rent the property, but she was at least cognisant of our background of living and working in Dar, and our bona fides as business people. We paid the requested deposit by bank transfer and took possession of the property.
Our next stop was at a furniture store where, after a lot of discussion and compromise, we chose and bought the furniture we’d need as a starter pack so we could live in the place. We paid extra, quite a lot extra as it happened, to have it all delivered before the end of the day. Having made something of a show of leaving Nocturne, we didn’t really want to go back again, apart from to collect our few possessions. We then went our separate ways: Max headed off to a store where she could buy white goods and equipment, and all the soft stuff – bedding, linens, towels and the vast array of things needed to turn a house from a shell to a home, and arrange for it all to be delivered. It’s amazing how quickly things can happen, and how much traders will go out of their way to help you if you wave enough cash around. No way could I handle that, I’d be sure to forget all sorts of essentials. Her last call was to a supermarket to do a grocery shop to fill our larder and the fridge and freezer. For my part, I toured all the new car showrooms and finally selected and bought a small, all-electric car that would be more than adequate to handle our trips around town. Longer trips would, according to our business plan, be funded by clients on a true-cost basis.
When I called Max, she told me she was just leaving the supermarket, so I told her not to hail a cab; I’d pick her up. She didn’t. I did. She signalled her approval of my choice of transport.
“You’ve done well,” she said, “it’s a bit smaller than you’re used to, but it’ll be fine for around town. Fun, too.”
“I’ve done well? I’ve taken three hours to buy one thing. How many have you bought?”
“Oh, God knows. More than one, that’s for sure.”
We returned to a bare house. No furniture, no nothing. An hour later, a large van arrived from the furniture shop, heralding a flurry of activity and leaving us with all the furniture we had ordered. At least we had comfortable chairs we could sit on and beds to sleep in. Whilst waiting for the white goods and other items, we busied ourselves by emptying our suitcases into wardrobes, cupboards and drawers. Oh yes – you won’t be surprised to learn that I ended up with the smaller bedroom. By the end of the day, we were fully kitted out with all the white goods, cleaning and cooking equipment; the freezer, fridge and larder were well supplied, and we were in a solid position to move forward with our lives.
The next day was set to be the day we organised our office space.
The first thing we found when we arrived at the office was that Lindy had allocated a parking space to us, and there was an available charging point for our little car. I didn’t plug it in straight away as it had only done seven or eight kilometres since I drove it away from the showroom with a full charge in it. Our office space was labelled HanMax Consultants and its door gave access without going through the Knight Trading office. Inside was a reception area and two side-offices, one each for Max and me. Each office was fully equipped – mine looked a lot like my office when I last used it as Regional Director, whilst Max’s replicated her office as it was before she left to take up her permanent place in Head Office. Lindy called from the reception area whilst we were in Max’s office. We went out to join him.
“What do you think, Boss?” he asked, clapping his hands excitedly.
“What do I think?” I responded, “I think you’ve excelled yourself. How did you manage to make the offices as they were?”
“Lots of photos, mostly. I thought you’d like something familiar.”
“Lindy,” Max said, “we don’t need familiar, but we do appreciate it. I may want to make some changes, though.”
“I expected that, Max. Let me know what you want and I’ll have it purchased and installed. Same goes for you, Boss. I’ll have the catalogues brought in for you.”
“No need for that, Lindy,” I said, “we’ll deal with it and it’s right that we should pay for the furniture and equipment we want.”
“Disagree, Boss. HanMax is paying Knight Trading rental for furnished and serviced offices. If you want to pay for the furniture and equipment you buy, it’ll upset the financial arrangement that we negotiated and it could leave me unable to make use of your services.”
“Not at all, Lindy. We’re friends, aren’t we? And we can deal with these things as friends.”
“No, Boss. Well, yes. We are friends, but we are also business partners, and we must respect both relationships within their realms.”
“You’re right, of course,” Max said, “we don’t want anything that happens in a business context to impact negatively on our friendship. Have the catalogues from your preferred suppliers brought in and we’ll let you know what we want. Okay, Hannice?”
“Very well. I just want to maintain separation from Knight Trading.”
“Don’t sulk, Hannice, it’s most unbecoming. But listen. We are keeping separate, except that we’re acknowledging that we have a contract with Knight Global for the rental of furnished and serviced offices. We must let them fill their side of the contract.”
“Why didn’t you say that before?” I asked, trying to defuse the situation I had created.