Testing, Part #1 (Fragment #30)

The desk was a scuffed, sordid blue. I love such things, you know. They’re better at telling you the story of an institution than all those dull, fat conduct books, and they’re more entertaining. For example, right here someone had ably depicted the birth process of star-nosed moles. I sniggered. Considering their knowledge of such ‘niceties’, perhaps it was a future Darwin Medalist. Although… yuck! I reached for a pen.

Twenty two, dolt! Twenty two, not nineteen! I hate giving a lick and a promise! It’s better not to do at all than to do something sloppily.

I was nearly finished coloring the corrected snout when I heard a semi-cough right above me. Yipes! I raised my eyes slowly, and saw the sheen of a badge: ‘Mr. Turdman’. I snickered.

“Follow me, young lady.”

I got up from the desk and dragged myself after the badge wearer’s podge.

Some lanky guy stood near the door and droned like a jammed record: “Please put your cellphones, tablets, and other gadgets into the basket. Please don’t use any electronic devices during the test.”

I shrugged my shoulders and fished my old celly in its scratched maroon sheath out of my pocket. I put it into the plastic basket, right on top of the shiny, posh smartphones. It looked pretty funny, as if a behemoth had decided to join the dance of the little swans.

“Hey, are you dozing off, bimbo? Stop holding up the line!”

His derisive tone brought me back to reality. “I may suck, but you swallow,” I thought reflexively. I stepped into the study amphitheater.

Question 1a. Compose a limerick using the following rhymes: town, nightgown, lock, o’clock.

I scratched my nape and looked helplessly about. Some dweeb with huge glasses to my left seemed like a promising prospect. This dork obviously knows what the hell a limerick is. I whispered, “Psst! You! Hey, you!”

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA
© All rights reserved 2017

GUEST POST // The Mural by Mark Renney

sign-of-the-times1

illustration by Christine Renney

 

Edward visited the supermarket at least two or three times a day and sometimes as often as five times. It was a habit he had acquired quite unintentionally and it had been gradual. But since losing his job he had started walking to the store on the other side of town. And frequently he found himself compelled to buy only what he needed or whatever it was he wanted at that particular moment in time. If this was an apple and a banana, he would just buy those, one of each and carry them home. And later, when he needed a drink and found himself wanting for a Coke or Fanta, then he would simply go back.

Edward had time on his hands and his days now lacked structure and form and walking to the supermarket was something at least.

In order to reach the store he was forced to make his way alongside a lengthy stretch of the busy dual-carriageway that divided the town. Edward followed the curb, barely raising his head until he had reached the underpass.

In the basin beneath the road the walls were covered in graffiti. The work of many hands, a mix of tags and styles. Some of it had been scrawled quickly and was crude and naïve. But most of it was intricate and carefully planned and was obviously the work of artists who had nurtured and honed their skills elsewhere. And now it was all connected, like a mural and for Edward the message was not I WOZ ‘ERE but WE ARE HERE. But it was fading and down there in the half light, unless you stopped and really looked, much of it was already lost.

Edward lingered scanning the walls, searching for something he might have missed or even something new. Evidence that one of the artists had returned and was still working on it, keeping it alive. But, always disappointed, he made his way up and back into the light.

The housing estate on the other side of the underpass was big. At first, to Edward, it had seemed impenetrable but somehow he had managed to find his way and after all the months of to-ing and fro-ing he, and it, were intimate. He knew every inch of it, every path and all the shortcuts.

Crossing the courtyards and the communal area (the places where people were supposed to gather) Edward was always surprised, even shocked, by how quiet it was. The estate had an air of abandonment, as if everyone had simply left, deserted their homes. On a whim perhaps, or in fear, like something that might happen in one of those old black and white science fiction films or an episode or the Twilight Zone.

Edward imagined that behind the doors and the windows of the houses and the flats the tables were set. The food laid out but uneaten and untouched. That televisions and radios were still playing but no-one was watching and no-one was listening. And if a telephone were to ring in one of the public call boxes only he would or could answer it. But then suddenly he would stumble upon a group of youngsters, hanging around on a corner, or a dog walker crossing his path, and Edward’s daydreams would be interrupted.

Edward visited the supermarket at least five or six times a day and sometimes as often as eight times. He stalked the aisles and scoured the shelves. He didn’t carry a list and was determined not to have any pre-conceived ideas about what he might buy. But this proved difficult, impossible in fact. If, for instance, Edward needed to wash his clothes and discovered he didn’t have washing powder then of course this item was lodged in his head. And so to suggest that no pre-planning was involved would be misleading.

How could he not notice when the soap was nearly done or if the coffee jar was almost empty, likewise, the sugar bowl and the salt and the pepper and the milk. But Edward searched for the smallest available items, whether it be can or carton, box or bottle. He ignored the special offers, the ‘buy one get one FREE’ and the ‘buy one get one HALF-PRICE’ deals. He sought out the single sachets and the tiniest tins and, if he could, Edward would have reduced it even more. A spoonful of coffee and a splash of milk and a cup of water.

And not just the shopping but everything, all of it, just one tiny little step and then another but only as and when he needed to take it, as and when he wanted it.

 

by MARK RENNEY & CHRIS RENNEY
© All rights reserved 2015