55 minus 04: tuesday and midnight

Posted: 13 August 2019 in 55 minus, fiction
Tags: , ,

It’s Tuesday so you’re no doubt expecting a couple of tales from the vault, two more more fast fictions.

Well, dear reader, you’re getting some old fiction, two stories, but not fast fictions; since this is the final week of the run, something a bit different.

Two stories from 2011, both a tad longer than the fast fiction format, but neither of which are long reads.

The first was written because it was Tuesday. No other reason.

The second was written to be originally published at midnight. Again, no other reason.

It’s Tuesday. Enjoy…


 

Tuesday

I bloody hate working on Tuesdays.

Tuesday is my usual day off, you see; a day when I can enjoy the fruits of my labours. On Tuesdays, every Tuesday, I relax and surround myself in the results of my endeavours.

Monday is my busiest day, usually. But not this week. Oh, I know, were I to look in my diary for yesterday, I’d see the notation indicating a meeting.

10:45am Mrs Johnston. Outside 13 Albermarle Street.

It’s there, still, written in clear black ink upon Monday’s page. On Mondays’s page, you understand, despite it having to be postponed until today.

It annoys me when people don’t turn up for meetings. After the effort I undertake in order to ensure the meeting goes to plan, and the satisfaction I take in planning a presentation, it annoys me. I plan it for days in advance, trying this opening and that upon myself in the mirror at home seeking to answer one simple question: which approach will garner me most sympathy?

For if I have their sympathy and trigger that need so many have merely to make life easier for someone else, then I’ve got them. Then I’ve captured their interest.

And the rest is usually easy.

But such planning requires precision and consistency from, you’ll understand, both parties. I research those with whom I’m meeting with carefully. Any changes in behaviour or attitude will perforce require changes in my presentation style and content.

Take Mrs Johnston, as I’m about to. She drops her children at three different schools, meets friends for coffee every day for about an hour (never less than 50 minutes, never more than 67) and then returns home. She then leaves to do the rounds of school pickups at 3:00.

So, if I want to get her attention, the best time is after leaving her friends, on the way home.

But yesterday, she apparently had a minor traffic accident, so she drove a different way home.

Which meant that I was forced to abandon the meeting, waste the rest of the day when I would have been skinning her, and today, when I should have been wearing her, relaxing and surrounding myself in her, I’m waiting outside 13 Albermarle Street, the bonnet on my car raised, rehearsing my approach for when her car appears.

I’ve wasted a whole 24 hours when I could have been enjoying my work.

Ah, her car is rounding the corner. Excuse me. I have to go to work.

Even though it’s a Tuesday.

(c) Lee Barnett, 2011


Now take a breath. In. Out. Take another.

Good. For to go from one person’s world to another needs a breath or two.

It’s no longer Tuesday. It matters not what day it is. For it is midnight…


 

Midnight

I knew that it was midnight.

Though I carried no timepiece, I could tell that it was midnight, and I carried on walking.

Past what had once been busy shops, and what were now empty houses I continued my trek, walking.

Sometime before, I’d lost the need for sleep. Or had I? I no longer remembered sleeping, but sometimes, occasionally, I seemed to start suddenly as if waking from a light slumber. But the memory faded soon enough.

It was midnight.

I shifted the small backpack until it was more comfortable, and strode forward, kicking up dust with every step.

I slowed as I approached a large piece of rubble in my path, and then stepped around it. There was a brief moment of surprise at the lightening of the sky as the heavy clouds parted for just a moment and an unaccustomed feeling of warmth struck me before they closed again, and the world darkened once more.

A grunt of acknowledgement from my own mouth mildly surprised me as I rounded the edge of the building and saw the clock tower ahead, its hands permanently moulded to the clock-face.

The nuclear weapons had struck at precisely twelve o’clock, and every clock, watch, and electronic time-keeper had frozen at that moment.

I turned and looked behind me. Another town where no-one had survived.

What was that? A hundred and seven?

I paused at the town boundaries, muttered the usual regrets, and walked on. The next town was ahead, somewhere in the distance.

I knew I’d get there by midnight.

© Lee Barnett, 2011

We’re almost at the end now; three entries left in the run.

Something else tomorrow…

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

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