It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. - Seneca

Thursday, March 17, 2011

AND introducing...THE GREAT DANE ROBBERY one of the stories in the New Writers Telling Tales anthology by John Baird..

John Baird also writes short stories, one of which, The Safe Option, is to be published next month as part of the charity anthology, 100 Stories for Queensland. Here is a sneak peek at one of his other published short stories, (one of the stories in the New Writers Telling Tales Anthology)

The Great Dane Robbery~

You could say I had a balanced upbringing; both my parents were light fingered crooks. Seriously, it was like being raised by Gibraltan monkeys. As a result, I was picking pockets before other kids were picking noses.

Now in my mid-twenties, I’m awaiting my mandatory chinwag with the parole officer when screams of rape reverberate around the cop shop. They’re coming from Mrs Turpentine, a burly pensioner with a plastic hip. Barging past me, she delves under her fur coat and lifts a white lap dog onto the reception desk.

“It’s Fluffles,” she cries, “My girl’s been raped!”

The duty officer, old boy Compton, swaps a half bitten sarnie with a look of incredulity as the pooch tootles along his counter sporting a sequined waistcoat.

Shifting seats, I see that Fluffles sports the same curly locks as her owner. Not unlike her pet, Turpentine even has white fuzz on her chin - the kind of whiskers that arrive free with your bus pass.

“Well,” she demands, her voice reeking of old money, “what do you intend to do about it?”

Noticeably confused, Compton, a stooped man with a facial wart the size of a Malteser, flips the dog over like he’s an expert on The Antiques Roadshow.

“What’s happened to you then?” he asks, unaware that sequins are shedding like dandruff.
Turpentine snatches back her dog. “Stop faffin’ around. Get out and impound Derrick.”
Compton cocks an ear. “Derrick?”

“My grandson’s Great Dane,” explains the treasurer for the Society of Gossips and Complainers.

“The beast wants locking up.”

“I’m not sure that a crime’s been committed,” says Compton, his wrinkles perspiring.

“Don’t fob me off.” Turpentine thumps the counter. At five-ten, she looks down her nose at the whole village. “I watch Discovery Channel. Rape carries an average sentence of seven years.”

I wade in, “Technically, that’s one dog year.”

As loathing eyes bear down on me, I am spared reprisal by the emergence of Stickler, my parole officer. He makes a beeline for Fluffles as Compton answers the phone.

Grey haired, save for his bushy brows, Stickler’s a hybrid of Alistair Darling and a Jim Henson puppet.

“A Bichon Frise, if I’m not mistaken,” he enthuses, petting Fluffles in a manner prohibited in a public bath.

“Indeed she is,” says Turpentine flashing lashes at the snappily dressed stranger. “Someone knows their toy breeds.”

Compton returns with news:

“I just had a call from a man who witnessed a Bichon Frise being, er, compromised. Only he’s adamant that it wasn’t a Great Dane.”

“Preposterous,” says Turpentine.

“Did you actually see the incident, Madam?”

Tapping her hairy chin. “Not exactly.”

“The caller claims it was an Alsatian, called Heinz.”

She sucks her teeth. “Half the dogs in the neighbourhood have been sired by that mutt. He rooms with a traveller in the next field.” Glancing my way. “A ghastly bunch of wasters.”

Her face reads contempt and repulsion; a look I’ve received many times solely for my appearance. It irks me that there are no laws protecting the ugly. When it comes to getting on in life there is no greater handicap than an ugly mug but do we, the genetically challenged, get a disabled badge? Do we heck. We are the most marginalized group in Britain but the closest we come to a self help group is a Dungeons and Dragons chat room.

Before I say something she’ll regret my parole officer leads me into the small interview room that doubles as a cell. Leaving Flufflesgate, I locate my usual seat and calm myself by considering the merits of owning a dog. It can’t be that difficult, I conclude, or expensive. All the homeless have one, and theirs are always so well behaved.

“Let us open, as we always do,” says Stickler, a jovial sort whose bite is worse than his bark. Parking his bum, he begins to rhyme,

“Stickler will be my friend, so long as…” he motions me to finish.
“…I don’t re-offend.”

“You got it cowboy. So how are you finding the straight and narrow?”

“As the poor get poorer the rich keep getting richer. It’s playing havoc with my Robin Hood complex. I now avoid anybody with money. Out of sight, out of mind.”

“Well, hang in there Dimples, it gets easier.” He pulls on braces. “Besides, you are not my immediate concern.”


“In the parole game you hear things.” Stickler scoots up a chair. “Word has it your father has fallen behind on his rent. I’m told that he’s got until the end of the week to pay up.”

A wave of dread washes over me. Dad’s landlord is Frank Stern; a renegade priest with a penchant for brutality. To sum up: bad news.

“Since leaving prison your father has, by and large, kept his nose clean but I’m worried that owing money might tempt him to reach for his balaclava.”

“No chance,” I say. “Those days are gone.”

“You may well be right, but I’m told his landlord can be awkward. Just remind your father that if he steals so much as junk…”

I roll my eyes. “…he’ll be back in a bunk.”

“You got it.”

The meeting ends.

On my way out I pass Turpentine, demanding justice and dismissing her dog’s prospects at Crufts. She clutches her handbag - a Pavlovian reaction to my presence - whilst Fluffles paws an interest in Compton’s wart.


Chicks of Characterization said...

I want to THANK John Baird for allowing us to spotlight him and his work this week!!!

John, we wish you the best of luck with all your future endevours!!!!

Chasing Shadows sounds like a great read!!

Thanks again for hanging out with us all week!!!

John Baird said...

Thanks for hosting me. You are doing a fine job.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...