Here’s a bit of nonsense for your delectation.
This was the first story I ever posted on the Interweb, back in 2012.
Hope you like it.
Pierre Chameau stared up at the half-painted ceiling with resignation. His wife—‘she’—was right, as usual. He never finished anything and he wouldn’t be finishing the ceiling any time soon.
Damn it, what a waste of space he was.
Chameau had never believed in fate, but the final straw had been waiting for him all bloody day, which had started gently enough, with a stroll down to the shops for groceries and a stop off at the bookies for a light flutter. The visit to the pub on the way home lasted longer than it should have done, but when the cat’s away …
The first straw came after he’d settled down for his early evening snifter. He put his feet up on the coffee table and leaned back, a massive smile on his broad face. He’d never have done that normally but with ‘her’ being away for another week he felt safe. He’d polish the surface later. What ‘she’ didn’t know would never harm him.
A week into ‘her’ fortnight away with the grandchildren, Chameau was relishing his brief return to bachelorhood. He was alone and free to do as he pleased. As long as he completed the pre-return housekeeping blitz, he’d be safe from her whiplash tongue.
He shuddered at the thought, but it didn’t make him want to do the work.
‘She’ had left him a list of chores, but he still had another week. Tonight he’d relax. Time enough to finish the work tomorrow, or the next day, or the next. He eased deep into his comfortable chair and raised the glass to his lips, but missed.
Whiskey spilled down the front of his last clean T-shirt. Fuck. How had that happened? He jumped up, spilling yet more of the liquid gold onto the carpet.
He placed the glass on the coffee table surface and formed another ring—another to clean later. Always later.
Chameau grumbled and mumbled as he shuffled towards the kitchen searching for a cloth. The washing machine would see action tonight—if he could figure out how the damned thing worked. He needed to reduce the tower of dirty T-shirts.
The second straw fell when he stubbed the little toe of his right foot on the way to the kitchen for the cloth. He hopped around and the expletives flew—another sin ‘she’ denied him. The misdemeanours were piling up. He eventually managed to reach the kitchen, limping.
The third was a direct response to his exasperated whipping of the tea towel from its hook on the side of the wall unit. It was one of those slow-motion accidents he never saw coming.
The tea towel snapped back, a King Cobra coiling for the strike. His hand instinctively pulled again, causing the cloth to recoil and flick at the beautiful glass tube that contained one and a half kilos of dried spaghetti. It was the thick type of spaghetti, the type with holes through the centre, not quite as big as macaroni. He didn’t know what the Italians called the stuff, but Chameau had always thought of them as his little Bolognaise sauce straws.
Unable to react, Chameau’s jaw dropped in disbelief as the spaghetti tube tumbled gracefully from the granite surface and hurtled bomb-like towards the quarry-tiled floor.
The delicate glass jar exploded into a million razor-sharp pieces. The liberated spaghetti cascaded around the floor, demented prisoners freed from an eternity of incarceration. They hid under cabinets, table, and chairs, desperate to avoid recapture.
With the crash still ringing in his ears and the recalcitrant dishcloth hanging limp in his hand, Chameau screamed in rage and frustration. He kicked the side of the fridge—enlarging the dent that he’d made when installing it and forgetting that he wasn’t wearing any shoes. The damaged toe reminded him of its earlier impact with the door. Tears flowed, as did the invective.
Number four shouldn’t have happened. Chameau cut his index finger during the clean up. Crying again, he wrapped a wad of kitchen paper around it and carried on. He had to move the shopping bag, still full after the morning’s trip to the shops, a few times. He finally left the bag on the floor near the table and continued; he’d empty it later.
The fifth occurred when he hit his head on the underside of the granite surface as he scrabbled to collect some of the spaghetti that had found its way under the sink unit.
After an age with dustpan and brush he was finally convinced he’d collected all of the escapees and returned to the lounge.
Back on the sofa in front of the TV with a fresh glass of whisky, taking more care when he sipped, the phone rang. Calmer now, but not by much, he trudged back into the kitchen to answer the call. This time, he wore slippers
Once bitten …
He lifted the receiver and had the usual nightly conversation with ‘her’, but this time, he had something interesting to say. ‘She’ started giggling.
“Yeah, great,” he fumed. “I finally get a laugh out of you.”
‘She’ couldn’t stop laughing as he spoke of his evening’s efforts. ‘She’ would miss the spaghetti tube—a Christmas present from her mother years before the old bag’s unlamented demise—but would replace it with a rather fetching one ‘she’ had seen on her travels. A great one for collectables was Chameau’s wife.
“Yes, I have cleaned up the mess, dear,” he answered.
Weary patience coloured his voice as the wife continued ‘her’ regular barrage.
“Yes, I have locked both the front and the back doors.”
“Yes I did water the garden.”
“Yes, Dear. I did look in on Mrs Clements next door.”
Again, he hadn’t.
“I love you too dear.”
He did, sort of.
‘She’ broke the connection. Wearily, Chameau replaced the receiver and turned to head back to his waiting whiskey.
The sixth and final straw laid him out.
On his way through the kitchen, his slipper-shod foot found one of the remaining pieces of spaghetti. It shot out from under him.
He completed a lacklustre imitation of a gymnast dismounting from the balance beam and hit the floor in a loose pile of limbs and spilled groceries.
On his way down, the back of his neck connected with a tin of baked beans inside the shopping bag. His third cervical vertebrae fractured on the impact and severed his spinal cord.
His body rolled to an involuntary stop and Chameau lay flat on his broken back unable to move, unable breathe. Vision dimming, he stared at the half-painted ceiling he’d never finish…
[Chameau is French for camel.]