Coffee time stories, p.1
Coffee Time Stories, p.1Gareth Davies
Coffee Time Stories
Copyright 2014 Gareth Davies
1 The Painter and the Milky Way
2 The Magic of Kindle
4 Working on Christmas Day
7 Clocks go Forward
8 The First Meme - Confessions of Capitalist
9 Corry’s Story
10 The Rain dance
11 Me in my Memories again
12 Mind Ghosts
13 London’s Burning
14 A Nightingale Sang
15 The Text Message
16 Mum’s Christmas Gift
17 The Smoking Ashtray
18 The Flash Mob
19 A Complaint
20 The Memory Stick
1 The Painter and the Milky Way
I sat next to the fountain and watched her paint, her brush moving easily between easel and palette, her eyes flitting between subject and painting. She looked like a natural, like every sinew, fibre and muscle in her body had been honed for this moment. The way she perched at the edge of the square, the way she mixed her colours, the way she moved her brushes told me this woman was good. She looked like she could paint birdsong. I was on my lunch break, I’d just bought a newspaper and a Milky Way with the intention of killing the last 20 minutes with the crossword and the snack I could eat between meals without ruining my appetite.
But instead of playing with words, an artist at work provided me with plenty of entertainment on this bright, breezy, washing-drying day. So mesmerised was I by her gracefulness that even the chocolate bar lay unopened on the bench beside me. I couldn’t see her work in progress but that didn’t matter. In fact that was better; surely the real beauty was in the creating not the creation. I watched a small smile appear on her lips and then vanish as quickly as it had appeared, as if a happy thought had flitted into her head like a butterfly and then danced away again. I watched her wipe away sweat from her brow with the back of her hand, still holding the brush between finger and thumb. Her brush strokes reminded me of a conductor; her brushes her baton, her canvass her orchestra.
My time was up - I had to get back to the office. Reluctantly I folded the newspaper, rose from my bench and trudged off. It was only when I got back to my desk that I remembered the chocolate bar. I patted my pockets looking forward to the light fluffy snack but it was nowhere to be found. I must have left it on the bench - a small sacrifice to the god of painters.
2 The Magic of Kindle
Jeff almost spat his tea across the room. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. This was a shock and then some. His best friend had not only admitted to reading ‘Fifty Shades’ but to reading it on a plane and getting a little hot and bothered while doing so! He pushed his glasses up his nose.
‘Yeah, really. Why not?’
Jeff didn’t know what to say, why not exactly. Why shouldn’t she? But it was just such a surprise.
‘Yeah, yeah I get it, safe little Clementine, good little girl.’ she said it with a smile that Jeff had never noticed before. ‘But you see, it’s the beauty of Kindle. You are right; I would never have read it without a Kindle. I would have been mortified to go into the bookshop and buy it. I don’t think I ever would have gone through with it. And even if I had, I would never have got the book out in public, god no. I would have read it at home, alone, and hidden it carefully in case someone called round. But with a Kindle, no one knows. You can buy it without the 19 year old temp in Waterstones giving you that creepy look as he swipes your credit card, read it and no one judges you, get it out on the plane and everyone is none the wiser; including the nun that was sitting next to me,’ she said with a giggle.
‘Shut up’ said Jeff with the intonation that only gay men, women from Essex and Jeff could muster. Clementine gave that smile again as she nodded to confirm her story.
Jeff would always remember that night for two reasons. One it was the night when the girl that was his best friend had morphed into a woman - a sexy woman at that. And two it was the night that he downloaded ‘Fifty Shades’ for his Kindle.
The clock was ticking on the wall, but time seemed to be standing still, not just today, although today was going terribly slowly, but life in general. Mily rested her chin in her hand and stared at the clock. Its hands were like her life - going round and round in circles but not making any progress.
Her phoned buzzed, a message from Bryn, her colleague and friend.
‘Morning Smily’ Mily smiled then reflected on the irony; the only time she ever smiled was when Bryn called her smily. But was that irony? She hated using the word these days since the smug pseudo intellectuals had questioned Alanis Morrisette’s use of it.
Her office was bleak and cold. Without Ozzie, her wise, old colleague, it felt empty. Her screen blazed, a half-finished presentation stared at her, mocking her. In a fit of pique she ctr-alted over to Google and typed ‘I WANT A NEW LIFE’ in the search box.
The results were a mix of self-help books and courses, no strings attached sex sites and the Samaritans website. Mily idly scrolled down the page, bored by the predictability of it all until she saw an advert that not so much caught her eye but grabbed it by the neck.
‘Butterflies wanted for botanical gardens.’
Mily had always wanted to be a butterfly. Mily clicked on the advert and read further.
‘A well-known botanical garden in London is looking for butterflies. Are you beautiful, dainty and dreamy, do you long for a carefree life flitting from flower to flower in the sunshine? Why not apply for this once in a life time opportunity?’
That was Mily’s dream job, could she apply? She didn’t think she was beautiful or dainty but she certainly was a dreamer. What the hell! She dug out her CV, polished it up and sent it off. For the rest of the day Mily dreamt about being a beautiful butterfly, happy-go-lucky, lithe, lazy.
Mily sat on a flower letting the sun warm her wings. Who knew that butterflies have happy music playing in their heads all day long? A bee buzzed around her and then landed on the next plant. She smiled and waved. She could not remember a time when she felt this comfortable, this content.
She’d never felt right in her human body but this one was a perfect fit. She hadn’t needed to wear it in or anything, it was like it had been made for her.
She’d cried when she’d got the job, she’d never forget that phone call. They’d told her she was born to be a butterfly, that she had beauty and grace; that she would be a natural. She’d looked in the mirror for hours, she didn’t see it at all; she thought they had made a mistake but now she was here she knew they’d been right.
‘Mummy, mummy look.’ Mily looked around to see a girl of about five pointing at her.
‘It’s a butterfly Molly.’
‘Mummy it’s beautiful, I think it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.’
Mily smiled and filled with pride. She flapped her wings to give the child a good view of her markings.
She thought of Byrn, he’d be so proud; finally she was ‘smily’.
4 Working on Christmas Day
Close your eyes and imagine someone working on Christmas day, what do you see? A doctor? A nurse? A care home assistant? Someone doing a worthwhile job, a job worth giving up being at home with your family on that special day? I bet you didn’t see a tollbooth operator in your
Most people think you get double time for working Christmas Day, but you don’t. Most people think it’s a choice, it isn’t. You get told you’re working and if you don’t like it, well there are plenty of other people looking for a job.
No one likes a tollbooth guy, we’re like traffic wardens. We’re not to blame for the charges and the fines but we’re the ones in the firing line. That’s okay for 364 days of the year but you’d think that on Christmas Day people might forgive us our sins; a cheery merry Christmas as they pay their toll wouldn’t go a miss. But most of them make some sarcastic comment about letting them off for Christmas - thinking they are the first to make that ‘joke’. It’s no wonder I snapped.
It was a wet Christmas rather than a white Christmas. I saw the car coming through the rain; only the second of the day. His name was John but it doesn’t really matter now does it? What a prick, stank of booze, shouldn’t have been driving in the first place. He handed over his note with out so much as a hello and then, when I dropped his change he exploded in a sea of vitriol. You’d think I’d called his mother a whore the way he swore at me. As I finally got his change into his hand he asked me as a parting shot if I was some kind of cretin, telling me I had one job and I couldn’t even do that properly.
When you work on the side exits of a toll road you have plenty of time on your hands. Time you can spend playing with the barrier, finding out how it works, up and down, down and up. Therefore, I knew only too well that if you hit the button twice the barrier gets stuck.
Click - John revved up and sped off. Click – the barrier halted, but John didn’t.
I’ll spare you the gory details but suffice to say it wasn’t pretty.
I called the police. They asked me lots of questions of course. I told them the truth, he paid, and sped off too quickly before the barrier had chance to lift. When I told them I thought he might have been drinking, they were no longer interested in me.
I’ve just left the inquest. The coroner heard my solemn evidence and recorded a verdict of accidental death caused by dangerous driving due to alcohol intake. Turns out he was 5 times over the legal limit. Since that day I’ve been off work with post-traumatic stress disorder; full pay and a chance of compensation. So thanks John, one less drink driving prick in the world and I have an extended holiday, counting my money.
‘Let him find all of the barbed wires and spontaneously take you there!’
Catie looked at the words on the page and felt a shiver run down her back. They were good; maybe she could do this, maybe she could write. She’d been inspired by the argument she’d had with the girls last night. She couldn’t believe just how bloody gullible they’d all been. All of them were gushing about how bloody brilliant that bloody book was.
‘It’s awoken a desire in me that I didn’t know was there.’ said Angela in her squeaky, pathetic voice.
No it bloody didn’t, Catie had wanted to respond, but she kept quiet. Why didn’t they realise it was crap? Why had they been taken in by the hype? Not only was it badly written, but it didn’t empower women as it claimed. In fact it set them back 50 years. She could imagine 100 lonely housewives clutching whips to their hearts and still hanging out their old love letters on the line to dry; disappointed again and again.
When she declared that she could do a better job herself, her friends had laughed at her. But she could. Look at that first line; that was something special, something unique. Her character would be nothing like the character in the book; no unworldly and innocent little girl, no falling for mister weirdo, this wasn’t going to be erotic fantasy this was going to be erotic realism. Her character would be searching for satisfaction. The men she meets will be real and have no bloody idea how a woman’s body works. She smiled to herself as she thought of some of the losers she had been with, arms like an octopus on speed, everywhere and nowhere. Catie thought about what made a good lover. There was nothing she could quite put her finger on.
On the radio they were interviewing Dave Brailsford, the cycling guy, he was talking about what made British cycling great. It was a eureka moment for Cat, she quickly jotted down the line ‘the aggregation of marginal gains.’ That was it! Catie scribbled down a plot, in her story the female character would learn about sex not from some man with a fetish and chains who was already perfect, but from a strange woman she meets in a café every Tuesday. It would transpire that the stranger was in fact her older self, coming back to give her advice. Each week the stranger would give her another golden nugget which Catie’s character would go and try out with her latest beau. This would be about empowering women. It would be a genuine voyage of sexual discovery for the feminist age.
She looked back at the first line and added 3 more words.
‘Let him find all of the barbed wires and spontaneously take you there!’ the stranger said.
Would people know that barbed wire was a euphemism for those sensitive areas of her body that so many men had trouble finding? Would let him paint you with his hands be better? Or should she be even more direct. She blushed as she realised that she was going to have to reveal her innermost secrets in order to write this book. Did she really want to go through with that?
Three weeks later Catie was going out with the girls again. She noticed the look of intrigue as she walked into the bar with a sports bag over her arm.
‘What’s in the bag Cat?’ said Angela in that annoying voice.
‘You’ll see.’ said Cat prolonging the suspense.
At the end of the evening Cat opened her bag and dished out 6 copies of the first 125 pages of her book. The project had consumed her life over the last 21 days and she was pretty sure she was onto a winner.
‘Take it home, read it let me know if it is better than that other crap.’ Cat said with a smile.
Within an hour Catie had her answer in the form of 6 text messages. She read them again.
Cat put her phone down and smiled to herself. Now they believed her.
Coffee Time Stories by Gareth Davies / History & Fiction have rating 3 out of 5 / Based on18 votes