Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Chapter 23 - Shonky Shenanigans

A murky alley. A dark shadow. A smaller dark shadow. A stilted conversation. The passing of an envelope, from one dark shadow to another. A betrayal. Ooooooh, makes you shiver, doesn't it?

* * * * * * * * *

'He's been on the phone again,' said Rita. She was calling Honeybun from the printers who'd been given the contract to make up the programmes, tickets and all other paper-based merchandise for the 'Race to Save Much Malarkey Manor' benefit concert.
'Who has?' said Honeybun. She was sitting in the arena, surrounded by workmen who were installing row upon row of seats. If one more of them made the comment 'nice bird' to her as they passed by, she'd peck their eyes out.
'Cleverly Dangled,' said Rita. 'NO! Don't use that picture. I don't care. It makes Boom Penguin look like a mangey budgerigar.....sorry, Honeybun, but these printers are imbeciles. It's a good job I'm here keeping an eye on them.'
'I know,' sighed Honeybun. 'But they were cheap. I know I've got to look at this benefit gig as an investment in the successful comeback of the band, but 'Boom Penguin' isn't a charity either. And there's still the set and costumes to pay for.'
'Can't you ask the others to chip in?' asked Rita. 'Dave looks like he's got a few quid stashed away, if his car is anything to go by.'

Honeybun sighed. As if she hadn't thought about that option already. But her stupid pride, coupled with what had happened when the band split, meant that the last person Honeybun would ask for help would be Dave 'Shiplap' Chalet.
'Maybe,' she said. 'If cash flow gets really tight. Now, what did Dangled want? I told you to tell him I'd get back to him as soon as I had made more progress in getting Boom to buy the Manor.'
'I did tell him,'said Rita, 'but I'm afraid our Mr Dangled is in possession of what one might call 'limited intelligence'.
'You mean, he's a pea-brain?' said Honeybun.
'In old parlance, yes,' said Rita. 'Only nowadays we have to be politically correct about these things, so as not to hurt people's feelings, and to avoid being sued for defamation of character. It's like you're not allowed to say someone has failed when they mess something up.'
'Oh really?' said Honeybun. 'What does one say then? When someone fails?'
'One says,' said Rita, 'that one has deferred one's success. And why are we speaking all posh all of a sudden?'
'I don't know,' said Honeybun. 'I think it's a gut reaction to being surrounded by a BUNCH OF COMMON WORKMEN!' She shouted the last part of her comment in the direction of a couple of seat fitters who were leaning against a handrail, smoking roll-ups and eaves-dropping her conversation.
'Right,' said Rita.
'So you can tell Mr Cleverly Dangled that, at the moment, I am deferring success in my task in getting Boom to buy the Manor, nay even in getting the owners to consider selling it to him in the first place, because I have a million other things on my plate to deal with today,' said Honeybun.
'And breathe,' said Rita. 'Don't worry. I'll get back to him and tell him some tripe or other to keep him happy. It's just that he's heard a rumour about a seam of rare marble being discovered in the grounds, that's all.'

'Oh flip,' said Honeybun. 'That's just a tale, something that mad collection of chickens told the owners to put them off the scent of the concert. Apparently, they want the show to be a surprise for them. The woman, Denise, it going a bit mad with the thought the Manor might be taken away from them, so the hens want to keep her out of the loop as much as possible so she doesn't descend even further into la-la land.'

Rita leant against the wall by which she was standing, and rested her head on the cool brickwork. This was becoming way too complex. She was starting to feel quite confused. (You're getting confused, says the author. How do you think I'm feeling? I'm beginning to realise what a calm and rationalising exercise editing is, now I'm not allowed to do any.)

* * * * * * * * * * *

Conversation over, Honeybun turned her attention back to the arena. It was coming together rather nicely. The seats were almost installed, and the set builders were hard at work on the stage building a vision of the Planet Mars, according to the sketches drawn by Boom on the back of an envelope.
'D'you want the little Martian houses on this side of the stage, or that side?' called the chief set builder.
'That side,' called back Honeybun. 'By the shuttle pod.' The shuttle pod had been Stix's idea. He thought it would be a good place for the band to emerge from before they began their set. Lots of dry ice smoke, and a firework or two, if they could pass it with the Health and Safety guy from the council, who was due to visit later that week.

Which reminded Honeybun that she needed to get her best bribery and seduction outfit dry-cleaned, for her own visit to the town council planning office, when she needed to ensure planning permission would be passed for Cleverly Dangled's housing estate. She needed that money from her jobs-one-the-side work if they were to have enough cash to get this concert off the ground and avoid her having to cap-in-hand to Dave for a sub.

'Honeybun!'A voice called from behind. Honeybun turned. It was Boom. He was wearing a silver space-suit, a huge goldfish-bowl of a space helmet tucked under his wing.
'Well?' he said, a huge grin on his face. 'What do you think?'
'Lovely!' said Honeybun, and gave a thumbs up.
Boom did a little heel-clicking leap and then jumped onto the satge where he proceeded to bounce around amongst the carpentry gear as if he was battling zero gravity.

Honeybun looked at him. Did she still love him, she wondered? Or had the passion of their youth waned through the years into a companionable fondness, much as an auntie would have for a favourite nephew. She watched as Boom picked up a spirit-level and flailed it about, Star Wars fashion, before leaping out at an unsuspecting stage hand, lasering him to a scenery flat. He's such a child, she thought. He'll never grow up, never be responsible, never give me the baby kakapos I yearn for. Honeybun knew her eggs were fast approaching their sell-by date. Coming back to England, seeing Dave again, had made her think about her future. Should she stay with Boom, because better the devil you know? Or should she reassess her wants and needs and look somewhere else for happiness?

(Answers on a postcard please to: Desperate Author, In a Hole, Stuck-to-a-laptop, Much Malarkey Manor.)


  1. Yeah . . goddamned editing! BoRING! I remember years ago a widely published novelist told me . . "You can always get rid of 10% of your wordcount. ALWAYS! Even when you think you've finished editing!" "But", I protested, "Tom Wolfe took his MSS to his editor in a wheelbarrow!" "Yes," quoth the expert, "But Tom Wolfe employed a bluddi good editor!"
    Even so . . . the unedited story reads O.K Trouble is . . you can't change where it's going, even if you want to, because of that dratted word target. On reflection, do you still think the exercise was a good idea?

    Best wishes.

    The Doc

  2. Well, Doc, the exercise is keeping me motivated with the whole writing malarkey, plus I never thought I'd get so much material out of a bunch of chickens, a couple of kakapos and a chihuahua (and watch out for Pepe - he has hidden, and not very nice, depths.)

    I realise that 'Poulet Nous...' has a limited market due to its abstract genre, so to be honest, the editing thing isn't bugging me as much as it would if I was trying to build something with more commercial prospects.

    But have you come across 'The Pirates in an Adventure With...' series by Gideon Defoe? Hilarious!! And he's made a success of being the tsar...I mean, bizarre. (Sorry, couldn't help but slip a Blackadder pun in there.)

    Thank you for continuing to read. Your stoicism is much appreciated!