I am two. I was really two two weeks ago but didn’t notice until today. Last year I missed being one completely. The 1st anniversary is paper though, and paper is of no use to a blogger so that was all right. This year it’s cotton and I’ve just done a big knicker shop so we’re all right there for a while. What therefore can you send me? Money obviously – there’s always money.
But I don’t want your money. What I want is an an ending for a story. This one, in fact:
An empty crisp packet blew down Cromwell Street. The crowd on the pavements was silent except for a lone eerie whistler, and his mother. Up in heaven God shouted at the angels to turn Inspector Morse down so He could watch the scene unfold undisturbed. He’d forgotten how He’d predetermined this one to work out.
Tormod the Tormentor, the Bully Boyle of Ballantrushal stood at one end of the street. One hand moved slightly towards a silver Colt Peacemaker in a sheepskin halter on his not un-snake like hip.
At the other end of the street a pair of clear-blue eyes narrowed menacingly as their owner planted two determined feet firmly on the municipal crazy-paving and wished his Ys weren’t riding up his bum. All eyes were on him – it would look wrong and uncool to start grabbing up there at this moment. He scanned the crowd briefly, his chiselled jaw tensing with the sort of impossible gorgeousness not seen on Stornoway’s streets since the days of Flinty MacFlynt, a fine figure of a man, aye and handy with his tairsgeir; much admired by the townswomen and – almost literally – an original Town Father. Two lady librarians and Joan from the butcher’s fainted clear away.
Ah, but this was his moment. How long he’d waited! It had been ten years since he left Lewis vowing never to return, ten years of demons haunting him, ghosts of the past taunting him, urging him on and on, never letting him rest for a moment, chasing him all the way to, as chance and Southbound roadworks would have it, Aberdeen, that great granite city of the North. There, still a pale, skinny stripling, he’d been baffled and not understood a blessed word the natives said to him. But the Aberdonians had treated him kindly, if incomprehensibly, and being baffled was better than being beaten by bully-boy Boyle.
In the intervening years he had become a highly successful ornamental hedge-trimmer which had given him broad and powerful shoulders; and lately he had joined a gym, which had given him other powerful parts. He’d saved judiciously, bought a little house and, yes, had even known love for a short while before she ran off with the rep from the Union of Topiary Workers. In the main though, he had thrived in these fertile eastern soils and was grown tall and devilish handsome, all the ladies agreed. Not unlike a taller Al Pacino.
And now was his moment! Now he would teach that low-down pustulent Boyle of a human being what it was like to know fear. His finger curled delicately round his Derringer as the wind flapped his long black leather coat cinemaesquely. He sized up Boyle. It was true, his once-famed hips were still snake-like, if the snake had just eaten a moose; his little arms barely reached them on account of the enormous gut that draped around like some monstrous skirt of beef.
He was suddenly reminded of a witticism he’d heard on the ferry on the way over: Some men were sitting around in the bar, one of them a great lump of a man, and the talk had turned to marital relations as it usually does in the choppy waters where Loch Broom meets the Minch. Apparantly the big man was himself married to a big girl, and the others were gently teasing him about how they got the business done. Big Man says “Ah, that’s what all my short-peckered friends ask.”
But this was coarse thinking and he hadn’t become such a renowned hedge-artiste by such coarseness of thought – apart from that one cash-in-hand job for the nuns on their poplars behind the tall, grey walls of the convent on The Black Isle. He blushed in recollection of how he’d fashioned their azaleas. The sisters hadn’t even mentioned azaleas but he’d got carried away.
And anyway this strange turn of thought was by the by, because all the island knew Tormod only had a very wee one. They knew this on account of his mammy, Honest Margey, taking a turn out at the fank one year and never being the same again, her peculiarity being marked by a disconcerting habit of always, always telling the truth. Tormod’s willy, incidentally (and really, it was only a very incidental willy) wasn’t the only one to pass into notoriety by way of Margey. The minister, she declared on the bus one unforgettable Monday, had a very big one indeed, not as big as Simple George from the grocery van’s, but certainly by her reckoning, bigger than average. There was quite the kerfuffle after that, alright. The disgraced minister was posted to a youth outreach program in the Gorbals within the week, and in the emergency the congregation had had to accept a young man from the South, with all the threatening new ideas these people from the South bring. Cushioned pews, indeed! Where were Christ’s cushions as he hung bleeding for our sins on the cross?
But I digress. Which isn’t like me.
Our hero shook his head. Concentrate, man! Any minute now he was going to blast two holes right above and below Tormod Boyle’s sweaty unibrow, like a divided-by sign. He’d read somewhere that to divide-by was to conquer and he was always a chap to go by the book.
Somewhere a seagull screamed, briefly. Again the whistler whistled, now low, now high and tremulously, as if the accounts of all men’s souls were to be settled that day on Cromwell Street. Again the whistler’s mother told him to shut his gob, he was putting people off. Up above, God made a mental note to smite her with a wart as soon as this was all over and she was back sitting for her portrait. God is nothing if not an avid cinema-buff, although He couldn’t see why Citizen Kane was all that special. A tumble-peat blew by.
The town-hall clock struck the hour – high-noon. According to the ancient rule for duelling crofters, on the twelfth stroke the foes were to fire.
The smoke clears. The crowd gasps…
What happens next?