Day 192: Two dollars isn’t a lot of money unless…

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It’s all you’ve got left.

You see, when I left home, I’d changed a thousand pounds into dollars. I’d never held that much cash at once before, hundreds of banknotes like a flick-book in a child’s hands. I’d packed my rucksack, gotten a lift to Heathrow and then boarded my plane.

Mum had done some crying somewhere in the middle, weeping about her poor baby running off to a new land and all that, but that was just par for the course. She cried when I went to visit friends in Scotland the other week, convinced herself that I wasn’t coming back. Dad, who has never cried in the entirety of my existence, offered me the traditional Englishman’s handshake and then, like a laser-guided stiff upper lip, towed my mother back through the departure lounge. I was free.

I was going to America.

Of course, money is designed to move so I spent my first dollars on the plane. Bought myself a cheeky little Jack Daniels and coke, seeing as I was going to be heading through to Tennessee on my way from New York to Florida. I had it all planned out, with permits and visas and everything.

That all lasted until about six minutes after I got off the plane. Spent some money on a taxi, driven by a man who clearly recognised me as a tourist, AKA a money-tree. I got a great tour of New York, but it set me back $80. Still, I had more than enough for the rest of my trip. I’d do some shopping in the morning, get some clothes then it was onto exploring.

It turns out, everything just costs more in America. Everything I took for granted, just seemed to be eking out a little more from my petty cash. Change went into my pocket as notes went back into my wallet. I’d be getting the Greyhound to Philadelphia tomorrow, another $20 but it was a good adventure. I was all set, what with the bar down in Philly taking me on for a few weeks. Good to get some walking around money, just in case.

Then somebody stole my wallet. I know, I know. I shouldn’t have kept all my money on me at once, I should have considered all of this. But I didn’t. You were right.

I think I know exactly when it happened. Some guy in a hoodie barged into me as I was walking down Broadway, while I was distracted by all the pretty lights. He apologised to me, then disappeared before I thought anything of it. I went to pay for a pretzel about twenty minutes later when I realised it was gone.

No wallet. Completely gone. No ID, no cards, no nothing.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out the change. All I had left was two dollars. Eight quarters, a bus ticket and hopefully a job waiting for me in Philadelphia. I had no idea where I was going to stay, but I could do this right? Two dollars isn’t a lot of money, but when it’s all you’ve got…

At the very least, it’s enough for a phone call home.

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

Day 191: You have a dream that you’ve murdered someone. Who is it, how and why did the murder happen, and what happens afterwards?

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I didn’t recognise the face of the man across the table. We were alone in an empty restaurant, where phantom plates, piled high with all manner of things, were passing us by. The man across from me is telling me a story of some kind.

“In the beginning, there was a word. A single word, floating out into the void where it began to fester and grow, forming sentences and paragraphs that conglomerated to become, well, everything. The paragraphs became stories and the stories grew and changed and got retold.” A plate was put in front of me, a silver platter that was completely empty. In front of him, between his liver spotted hands, was a blue willow china plate on which sat a single egg. He took a silver spoon and slammed it onto the top of the egg.

The restaurant shook, plates and food tumbling to the floor as cracks spread across the ceiling. Everything lay where it fell and silence spread through the place like treacle. The man across from me frowned, lines stamped into his forehead from a long life, full of hardship and pain and his hands shake as he plucks the egg from its cup. “The world is an egg and inside lies all possibility.” He took a shattered piece of shell that was clinging to the soft skin below, lifting it away gently. Above me, a piece of the ceiling lifted away to reveal a patch of blue sky. “Now, the only thing that can go wrong is the fact that this whole sorry mess lies in a loop. The words get erased, the stories no longer get told and the whole world tumbles down, leaving just a word. Then it all starts again.” He picked up the egg, holding it in the space between us, focusing on it with bright blue staring eyes. “Do you remember the last time we had this conversation?”

I shook my head. This place was alien and new to me, from its shifting scenery to this old man across the table. He sighed, then wrapped a fist around the egg. I could see it starting to bulge from the missing part of its shell, forcing its way out.

“There’s only one thing to do!” The old man had started shouting in response to the thundering that had begun. It was as if the restaurant were shaking itself apart. “You have to break the cycle! There’s only one way to do that!” The lights flickered on and off, plaster fell form the ceiling as the whole place trembled. I watched in horror as the man snapped his fist shut, pieces of egg and shell exploding in the sudden motion.

Then, there was silence. My companion and I were standing in an open field watching a sunrise. “You have to break the cycle.” He said again, holding an intact egg in the palm of his hand. Then he hurled it away and threw himself at me, ancient fists pummelling my face and my body, all while crying at me to fight back, calling me a coward. “Break the cycle! Close the loop! Coward! Bastard!” I was throwing my arms up to defend myself when I realised I was holding the knife. My knife. The knife that my Dad had given to me as a present on our first camping trip.

My companion was still attacking, oblivious to the knife in my hand. I had to make a choice. I could keep taking the beating, or I could fight back.

I chose to fight back. With a roar, I plunged the blade into the old man’s chest. He looked shocked, but satisfaction flowed into a smile as he fell backwards. He lay there, fighting for words amongst quickening breaths. “Remember. Break. The. Cycle.”

The heavens opened and everything was white.

***

I woke up as I fell from my bed. I’m not sure whose idea it was to go for hardwood in these flats, but I’m not a fan of them. I checked the alarm clock to see that, as usual, I was late for work. These nightmares were getting ridiculous. I’d slept through four alarms this week alone and if I was late much more, Johnson had said he was going to fire me.

I quickly threw on some clothes, completely ignoring the odd socks element to the outfit, then thundered down the stairs, barrelling past the old man who was waiting there. He frowned at me,  lines stamped into his forehead from a long life full of hardship and pain. He shouts something as I go past, glaring at me with bright blue eyes. “Sorry Mr Williams” I call. I’m sure I know Mr Williams from somewhere before I moved into the building, but I just can’t place him…

Who is Mr Williams?

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 190: Explain to your boss why you spent $5000 during one business meeting and why he should reimburse you.

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“Gentlemen. Please take a seat.” Finnick and I looked at each other. We’d both known that something was coming after Thursday’s shenanigans, but we weren’t exactly sure what that something was. It was one of the reasons we’d convinced the CEO to write us a day pass to not come in on Friday. Neither of us wanted to face Donegal with a hangover.

The man in question gestured to the straight-backed chairs that sat across from his mahogany desk, leaning back into the burgundy leather. Everything about the office was opulent, brass fittings gleaming as the low light filtered across the expanse of floor space. One of the perks of being the department’s head and golden boy, I suppose. Donegal moved over to another of these perks, two crystal decanters filled with amber liquid sitting on a small table by the door.

“Would you care for a drink, gentlemen?”

“Erm, well, no thanks. I’ve got to drive later.” Finnick got in before I could. Donegal knows that we car-share, so that left me as the turkey holding the tumbler. I don’t even like whiskey.

“Now, I know you like whiskey. I saw the bill for Thursday’s… Let’s call it an event. Six bottles of fourteen year old Oban, twelve bottles of Dom Perignon, a table for five at Le Bernardin where you partook the chef’s tasting menu. With the wine pairings. Do tell me, how was the salmon? I’ve waited for years to get a table there.”

I’d taken the drink, so I looked desperately at Finnick to field this question. I could feel my eyes straining as I tried to feed the answer into his mind.

“It was pretty good. I think.” Things that were absolutely, 100% not the right thing to say. That. “I mean, I preferred the halibut but the salmon was…”

“You think? Interesting. Perhaps you were having trouble concentrating. Perhaps it was your other two associates? Last time I checked, the night started with you and the CEO. Where did you gain two extra people?”

“Well, Mr Hughes made some friends at the bar.”

***

“Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooohhhhh…” Hughes was swinging his tie around his head. “This is it boys! This is why we do what we do!” Finnick and I were slack-jawed, staring up at this thing that had been the CEO. “Now, you two are single, right?”

I was not entirely sure of where this was going, nor was I entirely comfortable with it. “Well, Sir…”

“Dammit man! It’s David! Call me… Hello, ladies.” Hughes had been distracted by the two ladies walking up to him. Perhaps they could smell the money that was oozing through his pores, jostling for space with the tequila fumes. “I’d like you to meet my associates, Harrison Finnick and Nicholas O’Dell. O’dell Yo-del.” He started rambling, falling over phrases and words like a drunkard down a street. Pretty much exactly like a drunkard, seeing as he’d had a bottle of the Oban to himself. “Come on, fellash! Buy the pretty ladies a drink!”

***

“Yeah, friends.” Finnick snorted. “But Mr Hughes insisted, so we took them to Le Bernardin. Nick, what were their names? They can back us up, Mr Donegal.”

“Joanna and Shauna? Sharna? I’m not sure.”

“I’m not surprised you don’t remember. After Le Bernardin, you were seen heading to a nightclub.” I buried my face in my hands. This was getting worse. I only remembered up to the laboutin course in Le Bernardin, so here be monsters…

***

“Do you know who I am?” Hughes asked the small mountain on the door. The mountain simply grunted and pointed at the queue. “I’m the CEO of… of… Finnick! O’dell Yodel! Which company do I run again?”

This was the turning point. This was where we could have made the decision to claim he was mental and go home. “Nexus Corp, Mr Hughes. Sir.” Finnick said with a daring grin. We were riding the high on the whiskey and the two girls had their arms clamped around our waists. We were loving it. We were high society.

“Thas righ, you… You… You butthead!” Hughes had a tendency to wobble his head while he was drunk. The mountain shifted slightly and gestured inside after seeing the bills in Hughes’ wallet. “Thanyouvermuch.”

***

“The Electric Room?” Finnick was screwing his face up in a similar fashion to me, so this was clearly just as new. “An exclusive place indeed… But after all of that, you’ve put in a petition that this should be financed by the company?”

I looked at Finnick. Finnick looked at me. “We have, Mr Donegal?”

“I’ve got the paperwork in front of me. Apparently it all counts as business expenses, entertaining clients…” He rattled of a number of other flimsy reasons, none of which really worked. None of which had ever been put on paper by me.

I doubted Finnick would have done it either.

“Frankly, the idea is fucking ridiculous. You paid for that stuff, you’re going to live with the burden. Now, put my whiskey down and get out of my office.” Donegal was gearing up for a long-winded speech. He loved those things, laying down as many words as he could in the run-up to the “Do not fuck up again” section. He didn’t even get to paragraph two before the phone rang.

“Donegal.” A distant chattering came from the earpiece. “Yes, I’ve got Finnick and O’Dell in my office now.” More chattering, like a squirrel talking to an acorn. “I’m to approve?”

Even I could recognise the word yes when the distant voice said it. I glanced at Finnick who had started smiling his infectious smile. I was fighting it, but I felt a grin moving to match it.

“Very well.” Donegal put the phone down delicately, the composed form of rage which is going to unleash itself on the next sorry individual to piss him off. “Boys, you’ll have your money by the end of the day. Nexus Corp thanks you for your dedication to the clients.” He leaned onto the desk, glaring at the two grinning idiots in front of him. “Now, get the fuck out of my office.”

We didn’t need any more prompting.

***

“Oi, fellas! You’ve earned this night, righ? Cos I’m gonna make sure you get every cent you paid. This has been….” Hughes got up onto the table and tore open his business shirt, hurling buttons outwards into the dancing crowd. “Amazing!”

Hmmm… I feel kind of sorry for Donegal. Though researching this made me want to go to La Bernardin and try the pairing menu… Not that I can afford it, of course!

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 189: You are looking down through the skylight as chefs prepare dinner for your ex-fiancées wedding.

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I poked my head up above the flat rooftop, my best meerkat impression. “It looks clear. Go, go, go!” Danny heaved himself up over the lip of the roof and rolled towards the nearest vent. “Okay, Xander, your turn. It’s clear, go on!” Xander didn’t move. Just stood shaking.

“I can’t.”

He thinks he can’t. I can’t deal with stuff like this, not after we’ve been planning this for months and here he is, afraid to go over a rooftop. “Get over there, you idiot.” I cuffed him round the back of the head and he yelped. A grown man, six foot and change and he yelps.

It got him moving though.

With one final check that the coast was clear, I pulled myself over and ran to the vent. “Okay Danny, what have we got? What’s the best way to do this?”

He pulled a roll of blueprints from his backpack, laying them out on the ground before us. The vent meant that we could raise our voices a little, as long as we kept an eye out for the security guards. He ummed and ahhed. “Well, we could…”

“Danny. You’ve had weeks.” I sighed and hung my head. “Weeks with those blueprints. What did you say to me when you got them? ‘Only need a couple of days’ or ‘It’ll be done in a week.’ Why don’t you know where we’re going?” I’d realised I was raising my voice at the end of my rant, so it died to an irritated hiss. “Tell me you’ve got something.”

He looked at me as if he were about to say something, then he lowered his eyes and started to mumble. “Well, there’s the vents, but that does run the risk of being noisy. There’s the skylight, but if there’s an event on then there’ll be chefs in the kitchen. Then there’s the stairwell but that’s probably going to be guarded.”

Xander shook his head. “No guards, nuh uh.”

“Well, that’s out then. Also, Xander’s gained some poundage so the ducts are out.” He ignored Xander’s spluttering. It was true, Xander had ballooned in the last few weeks.

“I guess we take the skylight then. Xander, watch for the guards. Maybe you can get that bit right.” Danny and I stole over to the skylight and peered down. Chefs ran around like ants, swarming over their sugary kingdom. “Goddammit, Danny! Did you not even check if there was an event?”

Now it was his turn to splutter. This was turning into far too much work just to get into Hintzall’s office. I looked around to see Xander jogging over to us. “That is not looking for guards, you moron!”

“Well, there aren’t any guards but… Well… It’s worse.”

“What could be worse than guards?”

“Well… It’s Anna.”

He was right. It was worse than guards. It was the previous love of my life, also known as the bitch that broke my heart. “What’s she doing here?”

“Well, she was smoking a cigarette in a wedding dress. My guess would be, ak!” He was cut off as Danny’s hand slapped across his mouth. They both looked at me with terrified eyes.

I looked back through the skylight and actually paid attention this time. Hundreds of tiny pots of prawn. Venison dinner. Asparagus pasta for the vegetables!

She’d even got the goddamn cheesecake for dessert. “That’s my menu, you bitch!”

I looked at the other two, who were still staring at me as if I were about to explode. I wasn’t. I’d gone cold as a new plan went through my head. “Umm, Andy?” Xander asked. “What are we doing?”

I grinned evilly. “We’re going to get into Hintzall’s office, boys. By going through the front door.”

I’d teach her to leave me at the altar.

Ooooo, mixing two plots. Recipe for disaster. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 188: You walk into your bedroom and discover someone going through your drawers.

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I’m sure I heard a noise.

No, it’s nothing. There’s nobody here but me. It’s late, I’m forcing ideas into my own head.

No, shit, that’s definitely a noise.

Fine. Let’s check it out.

I edged my way out from beneath the safety of the blanket. Every part of me was screaming that this was a mistake, but I did it anyway. What, did I want me to think I was a coward? Not a chance in hell. I grabbed the baseball bat that rested against the cupboard, relaxing a little as I felt the solid handle in my hands. I took a moment to grab the torch as well.

It was definitely a noise, a rustling sound coming from upstairs. What the bloody hell could it be? I looked over at my front door, latch and chain both still firmly affixed. But there was somebody in my flat.

I rested my foot on the first step, about to begin making my way up to my room, when I paused. The first step has creaked ever since I moved into this place. I should probably avoid alerting anyone to the fact that I wasn’t snoring my head off on the sofa now. I moved to the second step, feeling like a ninja as I prowled upstairs. Step two, step three, step six (two creakers in a row there. I should really get this place fixed up.) I reached the top and saw the light seeping around my door. I took a deep breath then let it out as silently as possible. I counted to three in my head.

One.

Take a firm grip on the bat, both hands now that I’ve put the torch on the floor.

Two.

Big deep breath ready and waiting for…

Three!

I burst through the door and saw someone rifling through my desk drawers. He lifted a hand towards me and said “Stop.”

I did. I lowered the bat and asked, “What the fuck are you doing here?”

That broke his attention from the papers he was looking at. He looked up, looked at his hand, looked back at me, back at his hand then back to me and said “Stop.”

“You tried that bit. What the hell is going on? Who the fuck are you?”

“Hold on, this usually works.” He put the papers onto the desk, shaking his hand as if he was trying to clear pins and needles. “Stop. Stop? Stop! God dammit!” He paused, looking up to the ceiling. “Sorry.” He mumbled before looking back at me.

I looked right back. Stared, boggled… I’m still working out the best thing to describe how I was feeling at that moment. The guy at the desk did nothing, just stood there in a long coat. It may have just been me, but it didn’t look like he was casting a shadow. “Are you… What are… Who exactly are you?”

“Sorry. The name’s Garianda. Most people just call me Gary. By that I mean the people I usually talk to, not you mortals. How are you fighting the time stop?” He spoke quickly, forcing the words out as if he were on the clock to speak them.

This, understandably, had me really confused. I figured there was only one thing for it. You can’t deny it, you’d have done the same thing.

I hit him with the bat.

Oops. I’m not sure who Garianda is yet, but I imagine he’s going to be a little upset when he wakes up. Stopping time, mysterious figures… Strange times lie ahead for this protagonist. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

Day 187: You are a loser who lives alone with a cat and have for quite some time. One day your cat can’t take it anymore and starts talking. What does it say?

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I kicked the door shut behind me, dropping the bags of cat litter and food onto the carpet. Gently, though. When I’d first got Nipper I’d made the mistake of dropping a bag from my arm height. That was a mistake. Kitty litter everywhere, it took me weeks to clear it all up. Ridiculous stuff really. Still, that was a year ago now. Nipper had taken to the flat like a duck to water, prowling around and pissing on everything to start with.

That had been a fun few weeks. Damn that cat can empty its bladder.

“Nip!” A soft yowl came from the sofa, meaning that Nipper had decided to completely ignore his perfectly adequate cushion bed and had decided to sleep on my sofa cushions. “Not like Mum got me those for Christmas or anything… What’s on the telly?” I slid the litter and the food into the cupboard by the door. I’d deal with that in a bit.

The only response I got to my question was another yowl. Nipper’s really chatty. I walked into the living room to see that he’d managed to turn the television on again. Quiz shows. I could have sworn that I’d turned it off when I left, but what do I know?

I gingerly rested my hand against Nipper, who would either claw my arm or willingly submit to my fussing. It could go either way, depending on… Probably the phases of the moon. Does anyone know what their cat is thinking? “I’ll just get changed, then we’ll see what’s on tonight. Maybe I’ll break 5000 words tonight?”

“Maybe I’ll grow wings and fly.” That gave me pause. I hadn’t said it, it wasn’t my voice and it was vaguely terrifying. Imagine Samuel L. Jackson with a cold. I ignored it and carried on, heading into the bedroom. Started rifling through my drawers, picking out a dark blue pair of tracksuit bottoms. I know, dark clothing when you own a white cat is daft, but I look ridiculous in light clothes.

I bounded back through to the living room, grabbing my laptop from the stand and collapsing onto the sofa. Nipper looked up at me with a glare before stalking to the other end of the cushion. “What we working on today then, Nip?”

“How about a job application, asshole?” There was the voice again. “I was so comfortable…”

I looked at Nipper.

He looked at me, dead in the eyes and spoke. “What, cat got your tongue?”

This is definitely one to come back to, but my duvet is calling me. I may also now have to get a cat and call it Nipper… What would your pets say to you?

The Idiot in Tin Foil

 

 

Day 186: That person your mother always warned you about

 

pexels-photo-26298.jpg“I told you that boy was trouble.”

She wasn’t wrong. She’d been telling me that Duncan was trouble ever since the first day I’d brought him back to the house. It was a Tuesday, as I well knew. I’d walked out of the practice room and there he’d been. Duncan.

“Ey, kid. Can I talk to you?” He’d said. I’d told him no, he’d started talking anyway and we’d been inseparable since. He’d come back to mine for dinner that evening, all polite smiles and genuflection. I still don’t know how he ended up returning with me, but he had. It had just happened.

It had started well. Mother was just happy that I’d made an honest-to-god, real friend rather than somebody online. Then I’d left them alone for a moment while I used the bathroom.

I came back out and everything had changed.

She’d turned cold and hostile towards Duncan, who was sitting patiently awaiting my return. It wasn’t the same after that.

Mum would tell me every time I saw Duncan. “I tell you, that boy is trouble.” I thought nothing of it, it was just Mum being paranoid and ridiculous. I’d even told Duncan, who had smiled sadly.

“Once, perhaps, I could have been trouble. Now? I am nothing.” He hissed. For the first time, I started thinking that perhaps Mother does know best…

Just a short and confusing one for everybody tonight. What on earth is Duncan and what did he do? 

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 185: Write a story using four L words: lipstick, lust, loss and locked.

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She puckered her lips, clad in their armour of bright red. She’d need to reapply her lipstick after this, the picks she was holding between her teeth must have been rubbing some of it off. Whoever had locked the safe had done a damn good job of it, with three separate locks. One key, one combination and then a pressure lever, hidden in the handle. The safe builder was good, but she was better.

She moved the tension wrench clockwise, feeling the resistance as she manoeuvred the pick into the gap. The first pick she tried was too large, unable to feel for the fine pins hiding inside the mechanism. Thankfully, she managed to remove it without damaging it, drawing it carefully through the gap. The second pick was ideal, moving each pin up above the threshold of the lock. She got the final click and made the turn.

She loved this part. Casting a quick eye back towards the door, making sure the coast was clear, then she returned to her work. Before her was the final challenge, having already conquered the handle and the lock. The combination dial. The only thing between her and the object of her lust and something, thankfully, easily defeated.

She took the dial in her gloved fingers, then placed a thin sheet of latex across the face of the safe. No way she was leaving an ear print. That’s how Joe had got caught, over in Juniper. So, not anymore. She tucked her short bob behind her ear, another crime-committing act. Short hair is far less likely to get caught in things.

She turned the dial clockwise until she heard the first click. The valet downstairs had, after being given half of her money, told her the secret. The numbers changed every day, so nobody apart from Gorn could ever know the combination. Thankfully, one thing never changed. The direction.

Any skilled safecracker could get in. A safecracker like her.

Clockwise, 63. Anticlockwise, 8. Clockwise, 17. Clockwise, 23. Anticlockwise, 15. There it was, the final click. She was in. She grabbed the handle, one finger on each of the small pressure plates, then turned and pulled.

The door swung open silently. She felt her heart begin to race at the anticipation of taking what was inside. That and the look she’d get to see on Gorn’s face when he realised that it was gone. The grin died in the making as the door opened fully.

All that awaited inside was a letter with her name written across the envelope. She ripped it open and began to read.

Sarah,

Nobody was more damaged than I by the loss of Akita. He was a good man and a friend. But I cannot let you waste your life on a misguided attempt at revenge. I will not let you waste it. The artefact is gone and you will never see it or me again. I ask for no forgiveness.

May you find peace with your enemies, God and yourself.

Gorn

She screamed then, a piercing howl that cut through all the weeks of preparation. She turned to the room and started sweeping everything off the desk, the mantle, just causing destruction. Now wonder there had only been a skeleton security staff tonight.

“Bastard!”

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 184: Write a letter from a coach to a parent of a player, explaining why he quit the team.

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Miss Harris,

I am writing in response to your letter on the 18th December regarding your son’s decision to quit the team. Please note, I have said here that it was your son’s decision and as such, I won’t be referring to it as my “vendetta against Doug just because he’s going to be a star.”

Miss Harris, I won’t deny that your son has talent. He’s one of the finest players I’ve seen in a long time and I’ve been coaching this for nearly thirty years now. He has the potential to go all the way, if he were to put his mind to it. He plays all positions well and could even move through to captaincy. At no point have I said “he’s shit and he ain’t never gonna be no good.” I have encouraged and led him as best I could.

I feel that it is my responsibility to all my students to encourage them. To lead them and to give them focus. Your letter following your son’s departure, along with other letters of their ilk, render me unable to do so. You convince your child that a little hardship is bad for them. You convince them that challenge is the enemy. Your son could be a star, yes, but he still needs to work. It doesn’t matter how much natural ability someone has, they will not make it unless they work.

Now, I encouraged your son to stay with us. I told him that I could help him go pro, but he needed to change his attitude. He couldn’t believe that everything was going to be handed to him. Not in this sport, nor in life. It would appear that he took offence at this and chose to leave.

Miss Harris, Doug is a gifted lad. Because of that fact, he has chosen to believe he can do what he likes. He has chosen to treat people however he feels, instead of how they should be treated. I told him that he had two choices. He could act like a goddamn human being, or he could leave my team.

He chose to leave my team.

Miss Harris, you are entitled to your belief and I am entitled to mine. I believe your son can be the best, once he learns to work as part of a team. Until then, I believe that your son’s only place with this team is as far away as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Arno Galt, Head Coach

P.S. I do not appreciate being referred to by any of the vile slurs in your letter. I can only imagine the home life that produced a boy like Doug, but I believe it helped make him the man he is today. They say that you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. Hopefully Doug will choose better friends than you.

 

Arno looked at the letter he had written, next to the vile missive he had received from Miss Harris. This was the letter he wanted to write, the one he’d send if only he were brave enough. He sighed and screwed up the piece of paper in his bruised and battered hands. He chose another blank piece, picked up his pen and began again.

Dear Miss Harris…

The Idiot in Tin Foil

Day 183: What broke your heart?

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It could have been her words. It was nothing I hadn’t heard before, but this… This was Karen. We’d been together since we were seventeen, for crying out loud! We’d fallen in love in the summer and had stayed in love through that long winter. I remember shovelling snow off her driveway in the night, just so that I could be sure that she’d come and visit me the next day. It was a fifteen minute drive there, stretching to half an hour in heavy snow but it was worth it, just to make sure that I got to see her pretty blue eyes every day.

I made that journey a lot, every day of every winter until we moved in together. Then the fights came with the winters. Then the rest of the seasons became poisonous as well, with hostility and a dash of viciousness thrown in as well. Those were the words that really went for the throat.

They hurt my heart, but I don’t think they broke them.

It might have been the look in her eyes as she told me she was leaving, going to her mothers to get away. Those pretty blue eyes were flushed with tears, cutting pale lines across her rosy cheeks. Full of hurt and pain, the suffering of being stuck with me. I thought that I was more than that, more than just the pain. I figured that that pain was just a blip, a momentary spike on our line of happiness.

I guess I was wrong. I still don’t think it broke my heart though.

The door had just closed behind Karen after the final row. She’d thrown a glass at me, she’d thrown the worst words she could find at me. She’d compared me to my father, a waste of space who just damaged those he loved. Then she’d walked out of my life. Even that wasn’t the thing that broke my heart.

No, that honour belonged to the bread knife. It passed between two of my ribs, straight through my left lung and came to rest in the left ventricle. I’d called her name weakly before collapsing to the floor on my back.

The knife stood tall, a parody of the flag on a conquered land. I didn’t even see the person that stabbed me. Just turned around and felt the sharp pain in my chest. 

The worst part? Being stabbed and dying wasn’t even the start of my problems.

How to take things literally, a lesson by The Idiot. First, take thing in hand. Then, walk away with it. You have now taken something, literally. Much like I did with this prompt. 

That was an awful joke, but a fair one. Sometimes the most fun thing to do with a prompt is to go literal. 

The Idiot in Tin Foil