When Story tried to Suicide

The end began with the verbs – they said that they were fed up with always having to do everything.
Then adverbs refused to work with them, claiming that their behaviour was indescribable so they weren’t prepared to keep trying anymore.
Definite articles dropped out at first sign of trouble, but indefinite articles seemed unsure when to leave.
When nouns threatened not to put their names to any story, adjectives nearly gave up, arguing that if there were no nouns then there was no point in them being there.
Over-excitable exclamation marks postured and jostled their way out! making enormous fuss!! but nobody missed them, and they were soon forgotten.
Apostrophes claimed that they didnt know who or what they belonged to.
Did question marks interrogate anyone and everything they could and try to follow every sentence to find out where it was going? Did constant uncertainty wear down any capacity for readers to suspend their disbelief? Did they? Or didnt they?
Adjectives were at a loss for words.
It was almost fatal when narrator pulled out. “What can I say” she said, “Ive lost the plot.”
Commas disappeared paragraphs faded away and colons got semi-confused. Hyphens and dashes fled. Lost for words story came to full stop and for brief period it tried to kill itself It failed Try as it might to disguise itself as blank sheet of paper it was still story and stories never die they just find different ways to be told



Going to the River

The small man in a hat, wearing a warm coat and gloves, would not have looked very old were it not for his black walking stick, which he leaned on too heavily even though he knew he shouldn’t. A small white Maltese Shih Tzu walked happily alongside him on a leash tied around his waist. They were nearing the half-way point of their daily walk, this time headed towards the river. Sometimes it was the beach, sometimes just the street, but today it was the river.

Oh shit. He said to himself. Slowly and quietly but with feeling.

The heavily built man was overweight. His face was covered in a grey stubble and a cigarette hung from his lips. Puffing constantly, smoke hung around him despite the light breeze. Rugged up against the day, which wasn’t freezing but which was cold, he had kitted out his electric blue mobility scooter with everything he might need for an afternoon’s fishing, rods lashed to the steering column, fishing tackle box at his feet and in the box that projected from behind his armchair seat and which was an accessory for carrying anything that might fit in it. He’d ridden the train from the nearby suburb of Edithvale, alighted at the new station in Carrum, and the day was proceeding quietly and well, except he’d steered his electric vehicle along the wrong part of the footpath. There had been changes with the new station works and a gradual unfolding of upgrades to the paths and public spaces between the station and the new road bridge which led to the gently curving pathway down to the riverside. Realising his mistake, he decided to steer his electric blue machine up over a new curved kerb that made a very short, steep ramp. He took it at a bad angle.

Oh shit. He said to himself in Hindi. Not speaking out loud and not able to stop the slow, quiet keeling over of his fishing-gear-laden scooter.

The smaller man (who was only four years younger than the seventy-two year old smoker) was thirty or forty metres from the slow turning scooter, too far away to do anything but watch it keel over, curse quietly and quicken his pace. The fisherman could do nothing but accept the law of gravity, but being well rugged up and insulated by virtue of falling in slow-motion he was unhurt. Even his pride was undamaged, or at least he found it a useless burden, and so he fell and lay on his side along with the scooter which had the decency to use its substantial handlebars to make a space over the fallen fisherman and avoid pinning him in place.

As the small man approached the fisherman said he was alright and not hurt. But he was unable to move either himself or the very large scooter. He was helpless and still coming to terms with his unexpected new position. It was a grey day in the middle of a pandemic and there were people taking well-spaced walks, but there was still no-one else nearby so the small man could see no option other that to try and lift the scooter up and put it back onto its wheels. Not at all sure that he could, after putting down his walking stick and with the remarkably well-behaved dog still fastened to his leash, he somehow found the strength to right the machine without any feeling of strain. Not that he found it easy, but it was, he decided, simply necessary. Just then a woman wearing a yellow safety vest walked up quickly, offering help and saying she was from the council. This was very convenient for the small man as it meant he could concentrate on positioning the scooter more conveniently (and in particular, off the high curved-top kerb) whilst the woman attended to the fisherman.

With the scooter righted, the fishing gear returned to its place, and with the man back in his seat and steering (with careful directions from the woman from council) towards a safe route onto the footpath, the small man and his dog walked on.

They walked a short while along the riverside and the dog was happy. They met the fisherman again. He had started to set up for his afternoon’s fishing. They exchanged some pleasantries ‘Good luck with the fishing’, ‘What a lovely dog, enjoy your walk’ and the fisherman shared a little of his life story. He wasn’t well, but he wasn’t unhappy. And the dog was still very happy; like the fisherman said, with terrier in him he’ll always be happy sniffing and pissing, and he was.

Paul Downton

Based on an incident that occured in the early afternoon of Monday 6 July 2020