Sue: Sunday Dinner (This is the one for Monday 30th.)

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Sue: Sunday Dinner (This is the one for Monday 30th.)

Post by Sue Beasley on Thu Apr 26, 2018 2:07 pm

Sunday Dinner
Alfie snaked the washer over the window, followed it with the squeegee and stood back to admire his work. The glass sparkled in the late spring sunshine. God, he was good. He emptied his bucket and went round to the front door.
Old Mrs Davis was waiting for him, money in one hand and a plastic carrier in the other. ‘Nice job, Alfie,’ she told him, handing over the cash. ‘And this,’ she added, giving him the bag, ‘is for your Mum. I thought she might manage a bit of rhubarb. There’s a real glut this year and I’ve more than I can use.’
Alfie wasn’t sure his mother knew one end of a stick of rhubarb from the other, but he didn’t want to upset Mrs D, who was always good for a tip, so he thanked her, took the bag and made for the nearest bus stop. A bus stood waiting but, as he got near, it hooted and drew away from the kerb. Wanker, he thought as he settled down with a cigarette to wait for Len and the van.
He’d not been there long when he was joined by a tall man, well muffled up in a long overcoat, a hat pulled down over his ears and a scarf circling the lower half of his face. It struck Alfie as a bit much for a warm day.
The man was carrying a flimsy bag which bore the words ‘J J Holmes Family Butcher’ and an address on the nearby High Street. He dumped it on the narrow bench that ran along the back of the shelter and stooped to tie a shoelace that had come adrift.
‘It’s went,’ Alfie informed him.
‘What?’ The man looked up.
‘The bus.’ Alfie took the cigarette out of his mouth. ‘It’s just went. There won’t be another for ages.’
‘Oh!’
‘I’m waiting for me boss,’ said Alfie, ‘to pick me up like.
The man shrugged and turned away. Alfie gave up on him, took a last puff on his cigarette and threw down the butt. It rolled towards the back of the shelter where with a soft hiss it expired in a small dark puddle. There was a faint smell of iron and the cigarette paper turned red. It was then Alfie noticed blood dripping from the butcher’s bag.
‘That butcher ain’t wrapped your meat too well.’
‘Christ!’ The man spun round, grabbed the bag and held it out at arm’s length, leaving a trail of scarlet drops across the pavement.
‘Them bags with holes in ain’t no use. ‘Ave this.’ Alfie took out the rhubarb and shoved it well down into the litter bin before offering his stronger carrier.
‘Hold it open.’
Alfie frowned. He reckoned thanks might have been in order, but held the bag open long enough for the oozing bundle to be dropped inside. It proved surprisingly heavy and, close to, it reeked of blood. Alfie thrust the bag into the man’s arms and backed away.
‘Special occasion, is it?’ he asked.
‘Sort of.’ The man had put the bag back on the bench and started kicking the ground in an attempt to cover the blood with grit. Suddenly he stopped and stood rigid, his attention on the road.
Far in the distance but approaching fast came the undulating screech of sirens. Alfie stepped into the roadway and stood craning his neck as the siren sounds got nearer. Soon he could see flashing lights and in no time the vehicles were upon him. He had to step back quickly as a police car swept by, followed closely by an ambulance, an unmarked Ford Mondeo and a police Transit van.
When Alfie turned back to the shelter the man was nowhere to be seen. Instead, Mrs Davis was approaching, with a shopping basket in one hand. ‘Goodness me,’ she said. ‘That sounded bad. I hope nothing’s happened to your friend. He’s a bit late picking you up isn’t he?
‘A bit.’ Alfie glanced at his watch. ‘I think that’s him now, though.’
He had spotted the familiar rusty white van with ladders precariously balanced on its roof and ‘Pane Relief’ painted on the side. Alfie picked up his bucket. ‘Don’t forget your rhubarb,’ Mrs Davis reminded him.
The carrier bag was still sitting on the bench. For a moment Alfie hesitated. He couldn’t steal the man’s dinner, could he? But he didn’t want to offend Mrs D either. And the man had gone away and left it. If he didn’t take it someone else might. Alfie picked up the bag, said a cheery goodbye to Mrs Davis and got into the van.
An hour or so later, Alfie arrived home and went straight through to the kitchen, where his mother had her feet up drinking a cup of tea. ‘Nice bit of meat for Sunday dinner,’ he said, dropping the bag on the kitchen table. ‘Bloke left it at the bus stop … just went off and left it … so I figured he didn’t want it no more. It’s fresh mind, still in the butcher’s bag.’
‘You’re a good boy Alfie.’ His mother heaved herself to her feet. ‘Let’s see now, what is it?’ She lifted the bag, feeling its weight. ‘Nice bit of beef I reckon, or maybe pork.’ Carefully, almost reverently, she took out the inner bag, undid its folds and peered inside. There was a sharp intake of breath and she collapsed backwards onto her chair clutching her chest. Her face was the colour of putty and her eyes staring. ‘Alfie!’ she gasped. ‘What have you done?’
Alfie approached the bag and took a look. Bile rose in his throat and he made a dash for the kitchen sink. Not only was the joint looking back at him, it had a moustache and a beard.

Sue Beasley

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Re: Sue: Sunday Dinner (This is the one for Monday 30th.)

Post by Graham on Thu Apr 26, 2018 3:25 pm

Lovely stuff, quite heavily signalled, but that was half the delight. I like the voices in this one and the last line is perfect. There is very little I'd want to change. You've produced it quite quickly but it would seem to be much more than a first draft and perhaps not much more needs to be done to it. It's almost a thousand words which I think is about right for the story. Could it have worked as a 500 word flash fiction? I'm not saying cut it down, just speculating. On a second reading may be the emergency vehicles shouldn't be 'upon him.' It's not wrong, just sounds as if they've come to arrest him.

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Re: Sue: Sunday Dinner (This is the one for Monday 30th.)

Post by Sue Beasley on Thu Apr 26, 2018 4:19 pm

Now that's just the question. Can it be reduced to 500 words is what I'd really like to find out.

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Re: Sue: Sunday Dinner (This is the one for Monday 30th.)

Post by Graham on Thu Apr 26, 2018 6:04 pm

No, the real challenge is 50 words.

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Re: Sue: Sunday Dinner (This is the one for Monday 30th.)

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