With Minimal Thought

Some free-writing exercises written with minimal thinking.

Antonio’s soufflé was a disaster; he was an embarrassment to his family.

He went outside and rested against the fire hydrant for a cigarette when Lucille came up.

‘Well, I ain’t being malicious or nothing,’ she said chewing gum. ‘But, it’s just that,’ she leaned on the hydrant, her back to his, ‘I don’t think I give a rat’s ass what you cook like. I ain’t never been into fancy stuff anyways.’

Things had worsened at the restaurant. He had inherited it reluctantly. It was meant to be his retirement, his children’s legacy. So they could be put through university like he was never able to.

‘I’m a creature of habit, what can I say? It’s all I got,’ he said. ‘Ain’t nothing to be done but close the place down now.’

The restaurant was certainly in a decrepit state, health inspectors were due in a week’s time and they still had rodent problems.

But he’d already landed a new job working for another restaurant, one of those trendy chains with balloons for kids and dummies dressed as tigers in the window.

‘Well, I don’t give a rat’s ass where you work,’ was all Lucille said and blew her gum.

The carriage stood at the station, steam rolled and unfurled at the ankles of men and women, children ran around trolleys full of luggage. But the carriage could wait no longer.

The conductor eyed the platform, clearing now of people, but Martin was still some way away, having been delayed by the shoe shine boys.

Alice sat watching the conductor blow the whistle thinking she would never see Martin again. It was unthinkable that they had journeyed so far in their relationship to part like this, for him to let her down.

Martin sat at the station. It was an event he had not planned for. The ring still in his pocket. He had hoped to propose in Paris. A trolley coming the wrong direction banged into him. And behind it ran Alice. She had stepped off the train before it left.

‘Will you marry me?’ he said.

A thumb to her lips, biting down on the nail as she always did when she was nervous, Alice looked at Martin and wondered if she loved him that much. She had compiled a file on him, as was her want, being the organised person she was and weighed up the contents now in her mind. A shrug, another bite of the thumb.

After the wedding, when they eventually made it to Paris, things had settled into a natural equilibrium of contentment. But over a fish dinner on the banks of the Seine, a blue boat drifted by, Alice watched it sail away as Martin ate, thinking she should have stayed on the train with Arthur.

The alleged goings-on of the Marker Gangs was well publicised in the papers. Tomatoes were thrown to mark certain houses they would later target.

But when Andy, on his initiation run was asked to target the house of his friend Bill, he had to wrestle with the expectation of being included in a club or holding onto a friendship which had seen him through many hard times.

It was a thought that built up and erupted through confusion and rage, powering his arm as the tomato was launched at Bill’s door.

The trick, Andy was told by some of the old timers was to get them while they were still squirming.

‘Fear is a great reviver,’ Alastair said. Alastair had been with the Marker Gangs for over ten years and had no qualms targeting old friends or even family when the orders came in.

Without rhyme or reason, however, one night Andy heard something below as he and his wife slept. A sound of trouble, a sudden shout, crashing, bangs on the stairs, muffled voices in the pantry.

‘The root of all problems is trust,’ Alastair said. He had trusted them and now that was violated. The old timer’s face lit by torch-light, wrinkled with a look of hatred and apathy.

Alastair promised a graceful ending as he tied Andy and his wife together.

‘We’ll be as quick as we can,’ he said, ‘and we’ll communicate what we’re doing throughout. We owe you that much mate.’

When I first met them, Francis felt delirious. He said it may have been the key lime pie or the coffee, but something was amiss.

The meeting had been marked private in Cindy’s calendar. Francis wondered what she was scheming.

One month abroad and they hadn’t made any friends but me.

‘No offense, but this wasn’t the kind of relocation I had in mind,’ Francis said.

‘Count your lucky stars,’ Cindy said, ‘at least we still have our health.’

Of course that was easy for her to say. Thankfully, it came and went quickly, like the tides of the sea. Sticks protruded from Francis’s side, opposite were the fires waiting to claim him and makeshift apartments made of mud and clay.

A fireman came by the next day. Several combative units liberated the town. Cindy preferred not to say what her meeting was about. The only thing she said was, ‘Oh! My hair is so wiry, perhaps I need some new conditioner.’

It was a most frustrating feeling. After a lifetime of striving, to be in such a muddle every single morning.

James looked at the picture and wondered who the woman was, at her elbow a cat wrapped in a knitted shawl. A jam jar on the table, and behind her, a bench with a saw. There was a feeling of decay, as though something olden had been transported to a time it didn’t belong to.

Ugly houses lined the streets now where there used to be farms. Power lines failed intermittently for no reason. James lit a candle and stared at the picture again.

© 2017 Occasional Dreams
In response to daily prompt: Minimal

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4 Replies to “With Minimal Thought”

    1. Thanks, Beth. It is nice to be surprised when something like these come out now and again — however nonsensical. I was left wondering about Antonio and Lucille.

      Liked by 1 person

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