Snapshots of a Meltdown.
First instalment in a small flash fiction series I’m working on. Snapshots of a Meltdown focuses on one character as bizarre things continue to happen to resulting in his abnormal behaviour. Give it a read sure!
My name? Jeez I think I’ve been asked that question ten times today. What’s with the sudden interest of my name? It’s not like this is a regular thing for me. It’s a one off, one time isolated incident. In some respects I can understand why that makes it more shockin. Those that know me, know I’m a patient, easy-goin gent. Those that really know me know this was a long time comin. Dominic always said I’m ‘one red wire snip away from exploding’ but what does he know? I’ve been sat in that room for the past two hours bored out of my skull. I’m sure that kid probably has his own overly dramatized version of events that could be made in to a three part mini-series. It’s not like what happened was even that bad, if anythin he should’ve seen it comin. Anyway you be the judge coz I’m tired of defendin myself.
So I’m walkin down the high street, loads of people are out coz the sun’s out and automatically that draws an extra thirty per cent of people out of hibernation. I get a phone call, instead of checkin the screen like I usually do I just answer you know. So I’m like ‘Hello’ and they’re like ‘Hi, I’m callin’ from some place you’ve never heard of to offer you some things you have no interest in, but first can I start by asking your name?’ (First time). ‘I’m just headin back in to work now so it’s not a good time’ and he responds in that stupid voice ‘No worries, I can give you a call back after work if that’s ok’ and like an idiot I say ‘sure thing’ and give him an actual suitable time to call me back. So I hang up annoyed at myself and that idiot who just called me, but coz I’m headin to the deli it’s not so bad. I reserved an order for my favourite sandwich, roast beef, red onion, pickles, lettuce, mayo and mustard. I reserve it every Thursday when they make roast beef and every Thursday the same woman answers the phone and asks me the same question. ‘Deli’sDeli how can I help?’… ‘Sure, what kind of bread?’… ‘Your name?’ (Second time)… ‘Ok it’ll be ready in ten minutes’. It’s never ready in ten minutes, I fall for it every time and then I end up being bumped around by these wankers in suits who are obviously managers in their office and treat their employees like shit therefore they treat everyone else the same way.
Anyway so I’m slipping my phone back into my trouser pocket when a street fund raiser just appears in front of me. He literally appeared out of nowhere, I swear, I would’ve noticed his stupid bright yellow jacket and hat. ‘Can I spare a second of your time?’ He asks in that ridiculous happy go lucky voice. I do the honourable thing and just act like he isn’t there you know, so I try and walk around him. But the little snake just shuffles in to my way. ‘Look you’ve stopped now so you may as well just hear me out. My name’s Toby, what’s yours? (Third time). ‘ I don’t have time for this I need to get my lunch and get back to work, sorry” I apologised out of kindness, fact of the matter is I had nothin to apologise for. I didn’t do anything wrong. ‘Did you know that over eighty five per cent of children in third world countries will never be able to say that sentence?’ Jesus Christ! ‘Why? They learnin another language?’ I joke back ‘No! Because they don’t have the resources to ever be as lucky as you’ he says like he’s about to cry. ‘Don’t you care at all?’ He asks visibly hurt by this. ‘Not really’ I respond again trying to walk around him, then that’s when it all kicked off. I tried to walk away but he stopped me by putting his hand on my chest then saying ‘How could you be so heartless? You’re nothin but a stuck up suit.”
Now in my book that’s an insult that warrants a complaint. So I start making a load of noise about supervisors and not being spoken to that way and eventually this short haired woman comes over to diffuse the situation. ‘Is everything ok sir?’ She asks me softly. ‘No, this little turd insulted me and continually gets in my way when I try to leave’ I complain hoping that she’s smart enough to just let me go and decide it’s not worth it. So much for my faith in humanity, if she was smart I wouldn’t be sitting here. ‘Can I just ask, what’s your name sir?’ (Fourth time) she offers a hand for me to shake. I look at it and think better of it, that’s how they rope you in. She withdraws ‘I’m sure Toby here was just letting his passion get the better off him’ she smiled; she had a cute smile to be fair. ‘What passion’s that? Gettin punched in the face for talkin to much?’ I react angrily. ‘Now there’s no need to threaten violence we only want to make people aware of our mission to help those less fortunate’ she spoke placing a hand on my arm. The bullshit meter was off the scale at this point, all that crap about helpin people was a load of arse. ‘The only help you want is the nine pound per hour you get for pissin people like me off. This twat couldn’t care if a kid in Africa eats a ham sandwich or not, he’s doin this coz his mum and dad don’t want him sleepin and wankin his days away.’ She was stunned when I said that, the look on her face was priceless. ‘Who do you think you are?’ Toby questioned. ‘Whatever’ I muttered finally getting around the two do-gooders and headin towards a roast beef haven until the little shit stain stuck his foot out and tripped me on the floor. Like literally on the dirty gum stained pavement, a charity worker.
So obviously my reaction was well deserved and instinctive. Sure he probably told the police that I tripped on the pavement while trying to storm off, and she would’ve agreed. I had no witnesses to back me up of course, but I was provoked. I don’t usually condone violence but every now and then it’s the only solution. I bet you he won’t be so pushy for starving children in Africa now. Of course the other do-gooders came swarmin in and it just turned in to melee. Eventually the police and an ambulance showed up, which was the last thing I needed coz it definitely meant I wasn’t gettin my sandwich. Also everyone who just happened to be walkin by all of a sudden was a witness, they didn’t want anythin to do with it before the police arrived, but now there’s a chance they could be on the news they’re all involved. The police put me aside round the corner; a six foot northern mammoth of man was questioning me, ‘What’s your name lad?’ (Fifth time) I spilled my guts giving him detail after detail and all he said was ‘Ok, wait here’ as if I was gonna hot foot it away. I’d done nothin wrong. A paramedic came to me while they were loading Toby in the ambulance. ‘Is everything ok with you?’ she asked. I ignored her trying to see if Toby was still breathin, ‘Can you hear me sir? Nod your head if you can hear me’ I nodded hopin it would shut her up. ‘Great do you wanna tell me your name? (Sixth time) I shook my head. She examined my wrist where there was a small cut. I didn’t notice to be honest but it must of happened when I was tripped. The giant officer came back with another cop and they loaded me in the back of a police car for ‘more routine questioning.’
At the police station they sat me in an interrogation room, the room was freezin, I sat with my jacket on and arms folded. It was about thirty minutes before anyone came in the room. This woman dressed in a grey business suit walked through the door and briefly introduced herself and the fella flankin her. Her name was DCI Richards or Roberts I can’t remember. ‘Can you confirm for the tape your name please?’ (Seventh time) ‘Great, has anyone offered you drink? Tea? Coffee?’ she asked, ‘I’m fine.’ The man stood against the wall facin me, he was doin his best bad cop impression and was just fixated on me. I wasn’t intimidated or anythin it was just weird. ‘Ok so this incident, tell us from the beginning what happened’ her voice was high and chipper, but I had the feelin like her partner behind her she could be a mean bitch if she wanted. I gave her my version of events which was the true version of events. ‘Just to let you know, we’ve had a slightly alternative version from Toby’ she said. ‘Well he’s lyin, I’m not hiding my part in all this, I did what I did and I’ll happily do it again if I had to’ I said. Her partner spoke up sayin ‘Do you know what remorse is?’ What a stupid question, I hate when people ask questions that everyone knows the answers to but they ask anyway in a poor attempt to make themselves seem smart. It was probably the wrong time and place to act like a smartass but why not I thought to myself. ‘No, can you explain this concept to me? It sounds very enrichin and may change my life’ I gave him a smile after to let him know I was only kiddin about but he didn’t take to kindly to it. DCI Richards or Roberts left the room and he followed slowly behind givin me the evils. They came back twenty minutes later and put me in another room. I saw two other officers take a dirty homeless man in there afterwards; they came out holdin their noses and laughin. Great fellas. The room they put me in was just by the exit of the station. I’m pretty certain I could’ve left if I wanted to but I didn’t want a nationwide manhunt being sent out for me. After about ten minutes sitting there I was already fallin asleep, people were walkin back and forth but none of them stopped to talk to me. I saw DCI Richards or Roberts partner leading the short haired do-gooder out. He was all smiles with her and made a point to show that to me. She caught my eye and quickly turned away. She probably just sold me up the river to save her nine pound per hour job and the little wanker she supervises. After two hours passed I was asleep on the seat, it wasn’t comfortable but I was so tired I would’ve fallen asleep anywhere. Plus the room was quiet warm, unlike that interrogation room. A man in a pink shirt woke me up, since when do cops where pink shirts to work? You couldn’t take him seriously as a policeman, I couldn’t. ‘You alright in ere mate?’ He asked soundin like he was fresh off a market stall. ‘Yeah I’m fine just waitin for them to get back to me’ I responded. ‘You in for that incident down on the igh street?’ ‘That’s the one I replied’ clicking my fingers and pointin at him. ‘What’s your name?’ (Eighth time) ‘Yeah mate you can go. I thought ‘arry told ya, the kid’s supervisor vouched for your story and e aint pressin charges so you can go.’ I sat dumbfounded.
It must have been around two hours I sat in the same spot and no-one told me I was free to go. I didn’t even call my job or anythin. They just let me sit there like I was in detention or somethin. ‘Yeah sorry bout that mate, go to the desk and get your stuff. He held the door open for me to walk out, he smelt like he poured an entire bottle of cologne on himself five minutes ago. Unless he’s an undercover agent he’s a serious cliché. There was a line at the desk, but I finally got to the front after the guy in front of me finished discussin last night’s game with the cop behind the desk. ‘Name?’ (Ninth time) he spoke without looking at me. I got all my stuff back in one of those see through plastic bags. It was dark outside now, I checked my phone no missed calls. Ironically I’d lived in London all my life but never been to this police station in this area. So I had no idea which way I needed to go. I just started walkin in the direction I saw a bus, to me that signifies a main road somewhere and that’s all I needed. My phone vibrated in my pocket, I was so tired that I just answered it. I figured it would be my job, or Dominic or maybe my mum or somethin. ‘Hello’ I mumble without checking the screen, the next thing I hear is ‘Hi I’m callin’ from some place you’ve never heard of to offer you some things you have no interest in, but first can I start by asking your name?’ (Tenth time) Jesus Christ.
Greg J Allman
This is an extract from a short I’m currently working on. Don’t let the dialogue throw you off in any sense it’s written in Jamaican patois.
Thelma clambered in to her kitchen dumping the grocery bags on the floor. She didn’t allow the Fran and those at the culinary event to destroy her passion for cooking. Her faith in her own ability took a knock however. She packed away her shopping and decided to work on dinner. She took out two chicken breasts and began seasoning them. She didn’t have an exact idea of what she was going to make but most nights she never did. She just let her inspirations take over. Ryan came in to the kitchen with music blaring from his headphones. He was dripping in sweat from his daily run.
“Wh’appen mummy?” He kissed her forehead.
“’ow yuh do?”
“Recard time nuh. Mi gan Olympics nex’ year.” He laughed.
Thelma opened a cupboard and began studying the different dry rubs she had available. She snatched a few off the shelf and shut the door. Ryan was leaning on the counter watching his mother closely.
“What?” She asked.
“Why yuh nah enter far di cookin’ ting dis year?”
“Ahh Ryan, mi nah wan’ ‘ear ‘bout dis again.”
“Why? You is ah excellent chef.”
“Ryan, stap it nuh.”
“Di kitchen is yare element. It’s where yuh belang mummy” he cried.
Thelma stopped what she was doing, her head sunk. Ryan’s words had touched a nerve deep inside her. Ryan walked over and placed a poster for the event beside her.
“Get dat ting away fram me” she moaned.
“Dat ooman ‘as ruined everyting. Dem judges nah see pas’ ‘er breas’ and smile.”
Ryan laughed at his mother’s comment. “Look dem ‘ave new judges dis year.” He slid the poster closer to her. Thelma glanced over the poster; she noticed the red lettering stating ‘New Judging Panel’. Her stomach tensed, a new judging panel meant that she really did have a clear chance of winning.
“Mi see yuh face light up!” Ryan beamed.
“It ah good chance, I mus’ say.” Thelma read over the poster.
“Doi people dem will be shocked to see you return.”
Thelma walked away from the poster and stared out the window. The people she thought to herself. The people will cause her the biggest problem of all. Her actions at the previous event still haven’t been forgotten. She hears them whispering to each other in the market. Fran was loved by everyone in the town; she couldn’t make an enemy of these people even if she tried. Thelma put herself on the opposing side to Fran. The new judges would’ve heard about the history between the two, if Fran’s able to sway their vote with her personality and popularity; Thelma wouldn’t stand a chance. She knew she had to stop Fran in her tracks. Fran was calculated enough to use every tactic possible to win, Thelma could not let that happen.
“I gonna enter this time roun’” she proclaimed bringing a smile to her son’s face. “But it ‘ave to be a joint effart wid me an’ you.”
“Anyting I can do, I will.” Ryan spoke up. This was music to Thelma’s ears.
“Good, I ‘ave ah job far you.”
“What kin’ ah job?”
“You need to go an spy pon Fran. Fin’ out wha’ she cookin’ far dis year’s event.”
“What? ‘ow mi ah do dat?”
“It nah simple. She ah recognise me as your son. She see mi dere at di event standin’ wid you.” Ryan edged to the doorway.
“Mummy, I will ‘elp any way I can, but mi can’t spy on Fran. ‘ow will I even get in to her ‘ouse?”
“I know, it was ah silly idea. Gwan fi shower I will call you when dinner is ready.” Thelma spoke absently. Ryan tapped the wall and headed upstairs leaving Thelma staring blankly at out of the window.
Ryan sat across his mother at the dinner table; neither spoke a word. Ryan kept looking up at his mother to catch her eye. He cleared his throat a few more times than he needed to, but that still wasn’t enough to spark a conversation. He played with the food on his place, humming random tunes and whistling. Thelma didn’t bat an eyelid. Years of raising a child alone provided her with the ability to have a heart of stone when necessary. It seems that this was one of those times. Ryan knew exactly what his mother was doing. But unlike her he doesn’t have a heart of stone; in fact he has a need to please. No one knows this better than Thelma. She got up from the table and washed her plate in the sink. The silence was eating away at Ryan one bite at a time. He stared at his mother before dropping his head in his hands.
“Sam ‘ave ah outfit mi can borrow” Ryan blurted out. Fran didn’t respond. “’im say it ah belang to ‘im farda but ‘im nah use it.”
“You wan’ mi to pick it up?”
“Why nat? Yuh say yuh wan’ mi to spy dis is di bes’ way.”
“Yuh nah wan’ to. Mi nah wan’ yuh to do it” Thelma spoke washing the contents of the sink. Ryan laughed aloud causing Thelma to finally look at him.
“You nah wan’ mi to do dis cah mi nah wan’ to. ‘ow many times yuh make me gwan church” Ryan laughed. “You ah chat-” he was cut off by a stern glare from his mother. That same stare that leads in to her losing her temper, Ryan has seen it one too many times.
“Look, I will go an’ get it tomorrow. Den we can ‘atch a plan.”
“No” Thelma replied.
“Mummy, mi sarry far nat agreeing straight away. I jus’ tink we need a plan firs’” Ryan’s fist inadvertently slammed the table. Thelma raised her eyebrows; she never accepted disrespect in any form. But she loved to see her son show passion.
“No” she repeated. “Gwan get it now.” Ryan leapt up from his seat and headed out the door. Thelma watched on through the window as Ryan jogged up the pathway. She made sure she was out of sight before cutting a smile.
Greg J Allman
Written in the form of a freestyle…Happy New Year!
In this cruel world, who knows what’s real or fake?
Only God himself, ironic that it’s a supreme being
Being the omnipotent, all knowing but leaving
Us not knowing whether he’s real or fake.
Maybe his being is just a mind state
As he is inspiration for the magnificent inception
Of mankind’s desperate pursuit for perfection
That never seems to materialise before it’s too late.
Dreams of paradise narrow our moral place
Why long for perfection if it can’t be defined?
Forget verse and chapter just read between the line
Only we can better the human race.
Greg J Allman