Thursday, 28 October 2010

Stan's Big Mistake

  Stan’s big mistake was pornography... or something to that effect. I like to consider myself a decent, upright and patient sort of person, experienced in the manner of human behaviour and knowledgeable of  the little habits that other intolerant people so love to take issue with. Yet despite my sagacity in this field, never in my life have I lived with such a repulsive individual, someone so specifically designed to try my patience and deplete my good will as Stan Cooke. I have survived workaholics, smokaholics, alcoholics and dope fiends during the course of my time spent lodging with non-familial members of the human race. Yet, compared to this one man, the vexations of all of them combined would have been a pre-paid three course meal at Rosie’s and a full-body massage from Scarlett Johannson by comparison.
  I remember the day he moved in. In the fashion of a proper gentleman I came downstairs and put my hand out to greet him. Contrary to my expectations he put his hand at a forty-five degree angle to my own, pointed to the toilet door and enquired if it was unoccupied for he was “in danger of turning his white wash, brown”. I readily consented, not wishing to cause him further discomfort and hoping to take the air a little myself.
  All was well after that... for the first thirty-two minutes. Approximately the time it took Stan to remove his thousand pound, sound-surround, stereo system from his car and set up the various dozen or so speakers at precise intervals about his room.  From then on there was at all times the sound of what he referred to as “hard-core house” emanating from it. I found that this “music” rather interrupted my sleeping patterns, but rather than engage verbally with him on the matter I decided that I could just as easily procure some large headphones that played my own music while at home and could wear earplugs while I slept. I initially found some difficulty as the earplugs made sleeping on my side uncomfortable, but after a week and a half I eventually adapted to slumber face-up.
  It wasn’t too long after that that I began to notice that the fridge was becoming rather over-stocked. I am usually inclined to buy fresh ingredients and some small dried sundries to allow me to eat for approximately a week. However, now that the fridge seemed to have become the refuge of Bacardi Breezers and other such fruity alcoholic beverages, “something for the bitches” as Stan termed them, I found I had to limit my expenditure on fresh produce and began to subsist more on tinned goods. This led to my frequently feasting on beans on toast at the end of a long day, rather than something more nourishing, but I felt it was worth it rather than creating a bad atmosphere in the house.
  I began to notice after about a month that toe-nail clippings regularly collected in front of the couch between the hours of five pm and two am. I have always been a regular disposer of my toe nail clippings, setting aside Saturday morning as a time to purge myself of such unsightly disfigurements in the bathroom, before flushing them down the toilet and sweeping the floor to take care of any leftovers. Yet while I might accrue a tenth of an inch on any of my toes in that time, Stan seemed to be able to grow a fresh crop nightly, so that it might be harvested while he watched Eastenders and scattered on the carpet in some kind of ritual sacrifice. Thus I decided to increase my cleaning duties from once to twice a week. In addition to this, Stan’s commandeering of the sofa in the afternoon meant that I could no longer watch Gardener’s World, but  rather than confront him about it, I thought it might be better merely to read more of the great classics as I has always wished to do and was able to maintain my aura of calm.
  Come December, when the nights were short and the weather was at its coldest, I noticed that, rather than don a thick jumper, trousers and warm socks as I had done, Stan preferred to turn up the heating to sub-tropical temperatures so that he might continue to sport the casual surfing apparel of board shorts and a rip-curl t-shirt. This naturally resulted in a dramatic increase in the gas and electricity bill over the winter months, but rather than have him take offence, I said nothing and begrudged him a half-share of the bill.
  I hand-scrubbed the ominous white stains from the tea towels, I bought new pots where he had burned his pasta sauce irremovably to the bottom, I harpicked the toilets of skid marks and removed the curly hairs from the bathroom sink. I did all this and refused to bat an eye. My mother began to comment more vehemently on my appearance: “You’re not shaving enough boy! Your hair doesn’t look well-kept anymore! Why are you looking so old these days Terence?! Terrence!! Terrence!!! Terrence, you fainted you must see my doctor! No, I will not suffer my son to see one of those lousy NHS GPs!” And on it went.
  One afternoon after a long day at the office and a trip to my mother’s, I was at home cutting up carrots. It was the first time in a month I had been able to eat fresh vegetable and I was savouring the experience of preparing them, enjoying the slow, steady, regular thunk of the carving knife on the chopping board as it rended the carrots in twain. Then suddenly Stan comes down the stairs with his laptop and an impish twinkle in his eye. He says to me: “Cor, Tez you have gotta see this. This is well rank!”
  Thus it was that he introduced me to a video of Mr Hands, an apparent fetishist of equine love, who died sometime after the filming process. I pleaded with Stan, I tried in every polite verbal form to make him cease his screening of the abominable film. I offered him my kidney and my deposit in exchange for a moment’s peace. He refused and bade me watch further. I tried once more, in the most reasonable tones I could muster. “Please Stan, do not force this on me! I beg you!” He was immune to my supplications.
  I must have blacked out for a moment, because I remember very little about the connecting events, but when I did regain conscious control being held down by police whilst paramedics rushed a shocked-looking Stan out on a stretcher in a critical condition. But I must insist that I had done everything in my power to prevent that unfortunate occurrence. I took every path available to a civilised human being. So surely you can see Doctor that I am no threat to society and that the big mistake was Stan’s not mine.

The CV

  Donna Mayhew was a University of Cardiff graduate with a 2.2 in Business and Finance. Once her tenancy had run out she dumped her boyfriend, who she had never really loved, and moved back to Abergavenny to live with her parents. Once there she got so fed up living under someone else’s roof and she was so desperate to get out that she hastily wrote thirty CV’s. She included details of her part-time job in the cake store she’d had while she was at uni and tried briefly to highlight the benefits and lessons she had learnt whilst there. She promptly went out at three that afternoon and distributed them all over town. Three weeks passed. She didn’t get a single reply to one of them. However she was determined that she would find work and applied to the local job centre and paid £30 in order to take a two day course on CV writing.

  The course was led by a plucky empowered young temptress named Cindy, who not only brought fiery inspiration to all who she trained, but also provided detailed handouts which all the students of the class could take away. Late one night after her invigorating two-day course, Donna sat down and utilised everything she had been taught. One page of details became two, her paragraphs became bullet points, her hobbies became achievements, her job in the cake store became a powerhouse of experience and knowledge that would allow her to turn the sky purple and declare world peace; she utilized positive “power words”. She was no longer merely a young woman with a degree, she was now an adaptor, an invigorator, an estimator, an incorporator, an updater, an organiser, a systematiser, a tester, a detector, a responder, a rehabilitator, a volunteerer, a counsellor, a designer, a forecaster, a retriever, an assessor, a planner, a reducer, a chair, a lecturer, a motivator, an overhauler, a transmitter, a transformer, a communicator, a guide and a delegator. She made her regular tasks seem like the means to a better life: She had writing skills, serving skills, people skills, analysing skills, intuitive skills, metaphysical skills, professional skills, talking skills, sitting skills, standing skills, in short there was nothing she couldn’t do and do better than anybody who had ever lived or had been thought to have lived, even if they hadn’t lived or they had lived and been exaggerated to look better like Tom Jones or Florence Nightingale or Jordan.... sorry Katie Price. Once she had finished, she admired her handy work and sent the CV by email as an attachment with a polite covering letter to the local bank, for it was after dark and they would be closed. She then put the kettle on and had an early night.

  The following morning at eight-thirty Norma Premble, secretary at said bank turned on her PC and started reading emails in the official inbox. The first two emails were nothing unusual and the third, an application for work, she assumed would be the same. She glanced over the CV attached to a polite covering letter, she stopped and re-read it properly... and suddenly she was in tears. This CV was the most beautiful CV, nay the most beautiful thing she had ever read. It completely mirrored her own feelings about life and reminded her of her childhood in a way that seemed to make the world make sense and suddenly she realised her place and her purpose in life. She immediately sent copies to hundreds of her friends, all of whom were stunned and emailed copies to all their friends who emailed colleagues, co-workers, acquaintances, flatmates, wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, casual flings and even sworn enemies as all animosity toward all fellow creatures had been blotted from their minds. Suddenly everyone in a position to employ anyone was clamouring to find this woman, this one hope for humanity who’s CV had changed the way they thought about their existence.
  At ten o’clock Donna awoke from her long slumber to find herself listening to the sound of the sea. This was curious to her as she lived at least twenty miles inland. She opened her curtain a fraction and looked out at an ocean of faces, filling her road, all murmuring in anticipation outside her house. She went downstairs in her pyjamas and opened the door. A barrage of executives from hundreds of different companies suddenly started yelling job offers at her, quoting yearly pay figures, citing job descriptions, offering her the very best in company benefits, eight weeks vacation a year, her own parking space for her Mercedes company car and travel opportunities the likes of which had never been offered before. She was overwhelmed and when an offer came to work with disadvantaged children in Africa and be well paid for her troubles she immediately accepted. The agent in question from the United Nations handed her a pen and held out the contract. She was just about to sign when an irate business associate of Nescafe, who had been queuing for half an hour, bludgeoned the UN agent unconscious with his briefcase and shoved his own contract in place of the original. Pushing the paper against Donna’s outstretched pen, he obtained a scrawl from her by virtue of the fact that she was frozen in horror and declared his success in securing her contract to the crowd of business suitors, who unanimously turned into a lynch mob. In the ensuing chaos Donna barricaded herself in the house as the hoards outside formed factions in the hopes of reducing the competition.
  The army arrived five minutes later and managed to defeat the third sector faction who had taken control of the east side of the front garden. It was a comparatively simple task as most of them were volunteer workers and weren’t ready to give up their lives. The Army promptly set up a perimeter where they were able to batter down the wall to the kitchen where infra red scans indicated Donna was hiding. Terrified and covered in debris, Donna was escorted upstairs under armed guard where a member of her majesty’s civil service offered her a job working in the Maldives. The BBC were having none of it though and Radio 2 proceeded to reduce the armed guard to tears by playing Jeff Buckley’s rendition of Hallelujah through heavy amplification. Just as Steve Wright and Chris Evans were getting ready to move in however, the RNLI, armed with ear defenders, dropped in and airlifted Donna out through the skylight in her bedroom.
  Once safely on board the helicopter she was offered the position of national logistics manager by the head of the charity. For fear of causing further carnage Donna decided selflessly to throw herself from the aircraft in the hope that the bloodshed would cease after her death. Halfway down she was caught by a paraglider who saved her life and offered her the chance to be the sales executive for his paraglide-package-holiday company. She agreed until they were safely on the ground, where she swiftly kicked him in the nuts and ran for her life from the angry, yearning mob of reporters who wanted to interview this woman who had changed the face of everything they knew, but more importantly wanted to see if she wanted to a job as a journalist. Eventually, exhausted from running she collapsed in a desperate heap at the top of a hill and as the hoards of prospective employers approached her she cried out:
  ‘Oh God, if you exist, you must help me now!’
  The skies blackened, a raging tempest covered the Sun and the Holy Father descended bodily from Heaven starting a second flood that all but wiped out the human race and smote all the impure who dared to distress this young woman. Donna looked out at the devastation from her vantage point and was awed by the power of the Supreme Being. When his work was finished, God turned to leave. He was just about to ascend up to Cloud ten again when he stopped and turned back, and addressing Donna in an inquisitive voice he asked:
  ‘Oh. By the way, you’re not still looking for a job are you?’


The Helpful Sorcerer

  One day tiring of life as an evil warmonger, Ezekiel the Tempestuous decided to turn over a new leaf. Having more power in his little finger than anyone had ever possessed in the history of magic he felt he was well adapted to life on the road. So one sunny Tuesday afternoon he sold his Brimstone castle, let all his evil minions go with a year’s pay in advance, set Tricksie the dragon free, who was covered from head to toe in indestructible diamond scales, and walked off in to the great unknown.

  First he decided he would cross the Barren Desert of Death to the east of his lands. On the road he met a young girl who came running up to him in great distress.
  “Please sir” she cried pitifully “my brother Hans is stuck in a tall tree and I’m too small to use the ladder, can you help get him out?”
  Ezekiel’s first thought was to turn the girl into carrion and feed her to a passing vulture, but then he remembered his promise to himself that he would only try to do good in this world from now on. So he approached the tree, waved his hands in an erratic fashion and KABOOOM! With a thunderous clap the tree disappeared. Ezekiel was just admiring his handiwork when a high pitched scream rent the air and tiny Hans came crashing to Earth, breaking both his legs which splintered and broke through the skin as he landed.
  “Holy Mercy preserve us!” cried the girl.
  “Bugger” muttered Ezekiel.
  “Quick! Mr Sorcerer, you must make him better!” ordered the girl. Ezekiel shrugged his shoulders.
  “I’m sorry my dear, I’m not sure that I can. You see I’ve only ever really practiced with evil magic.”
  “But you must help him! He can’t keep living with legs like that!”
  “Oh very well,” said Ezekiel, and taking a step back he muttered an incantation which blackened the sky. Fire short forth from his fingertips, and when the smoke cleared the problem was over and the boy was left with two scorched bloody stumps where his legs had been.
  “AAAAARRRRGGGHHH!” screamed the girl
  “There, that should do it.” said Ezekiel and he trundled along the road toward the desert, whistling happily and leaving the first victims of his generosity in his wake.

  And Ezekiel made it to the desert. He had been crossing it on foot for about a week when he came across a man who was dying of thirst.
  “Please..... you must give me some water.” said the man. Ezekiel, who had survived perfectly well and maintained his power by consuming the souls of the desert life in great abundance was about to suggest to the man that he should stop being a wimp and would’ve probably set him on fire for making him lose his train of thought, when he remembered that he was now obligated to help his fellow man.
  “Hmmm.” He said aloud “I can’t summon anything life-giving, but I know a good teleportation spell that will send you to a place where water is in great abundance.”
  “Please,” said the man, nearly breathing his last “You’re my only hope.”
  “Very well,” said Ezekiel. And rolling up his sleeves he drew a circle in the air, and the sky was rent in twain, and the ground turned a livid yellow, and as the space-time continuum was torn apart the man was sucked in to a vortex which took him many miles underground to the Lake of the Damned wherein dwell the most sinister and terrible armies of the Undead. But true to Ezekiel’s word, there was plenty of water there, and the man was able to enjoy it in abundance as he was dragged down to his death by the dark skeletal hordes.  Ezekiel briefly pondered if perhaps he should have sent the man to a free coconut stand in Aruba instead, but shrugging his shoulders he figured that he would have asked the same thing if it had been the other way round and continued across the desert until he reached its end.
  And at the end of the desert he came to a town where all the windows were boarded up and garlic was hung over all the doors. He inquired at an inn whether he might have a room, for it was nearly nightfall. And at the inn, he was told that he could and indeed must, for the town was cursed with vampires and that they would be out soon. At first he thought he might just turn the town’s residents to stone and steal one of the nicer houses, but then he remembered that he was now pledged to help mankind through its troubles.
  “Vampires you say eh?” said Ezekiel. “I think I can solve your little problem.” And once again rolling up his sleeves he threw his arms above his head and in a tongue that only snakes can hear called forth the demons of the sky to bring him the Sun. And the demons brought the Sun so close to the Earth that the light penetrated even in to the darkest caves of the vampire lairs, through the cracks in their coffins to the skin of the vampires themselves, and they all burned in the unexpected daylight and the vampire curse was no more. Unfortunately, the Sun had been so close to the Earth that by the time the incantation was complete the land for hundreds of miles in all directions had been scorched lifeless, except under the feet of Ezekiel who was impervious to all destruction.
   And so he left the remains of the smouldering town, wondering why he seemed to have such a hard time making friends with the people he had helped. The thoughts wandered through his mind, opening up the paths of anger and hate once again that he had fought so long to expel. Bitterness enfolded his consciousness and he considered how he might cause evil again, but this time only greater and more terrible than he had ever attempted. And so he became an executive for a large advertising company, and to this day is still mass producing evil on a scale the likes of which have never before been known in this world.