Monday, December 13, 2010

The Old Burt (Chapter 1)

As promised, the first of one of the short stories I wrote AGES ago with a few friends... The concept and direction of this story (chapter) was mainly Mr. Cream. I really just rewrote it (originally I had just edited it) after having lost it (several times).

We had discussed the whole idea and decided that none of the characters would have names except for the Old Burt who is really only there to provide a point of commonality though he's not always necessary.

A couple of months later I had read "The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse" by Robert Rankin which, I believe, has quite a similar sense of humour to it. Now one of my favourite books. I highly recommend it.

Chapter 1: The Old Burt
Written by Mr Cream (permission needed to publish his name) and Nevyn Hira
I got permission to use his first name only. So it's Ian. His comment about "Mr. Cream" was quite funny. He claims it sounds like a porn name. I'm just imagining a scene - it's a petrol station in the middle of no where and a woman in a cherry red convertible pulls up. She smiles at the young strapping petrol station attendant with a twinkle in her eye. He says "Hi, I'm Mr. Cream. What can I do for you?" to which she says "Mr Cream. Full her up."

The Old Burt sat upon his once throne, now a humble three legged stool (the fourth leg had fallen off some time ago). He was whittling a piece of wood out on his front porch. He knew not why he was doing this, but to his way of thinking, it was better than succumbing to age and playing golf. Whittling wood at least involved a sharp object on which his old eyes could no longer focus properly. The worse bit is that after hours of doing this, the only idea the Old Burt had for the piece of wood was a toothpick. Celebrations would ensue in the form of eating corn.

The Old Burt was a wizened old man. No one was entirely sure just how old the Old Burt might be but the “Old” prefix to his name was some sort of indication. The Old Burt occupied the front porch of an old Victorian style house in a non de-script street. People came to the Old Burt for answers. Of course, the Old Burt didn't actually give answers, or at least, not the answers people were expecting. The Old Burt instead indulged in a little game he liked to call “The three lies that could be truths”. Usually they weren't true at all but the possibility was always there. The game was cause of some amusement. In the Old Burt's frail state, you took entertainment where you could.

There was one memorable day when a man had come to the Old Burt. A clergyman (Not to be confused with a ciggy man) came up the Old Burt's old and cracked pathway with a slab upon his back. Turned out the slab was one of the slabs containing exactly one half of the 10 commandments. The 10 commandments don't feature in this little tale except to say that they gave the clergyman rather a comical look to him – if you find it comical watching someone folding almost double under the weight of a slab of rock. Who would've thought Moses would've been able to carry two of 'em?

Anyway, the clergyman asked the Old Burt a question.

He asked “Oh Old Burt, of answers infinite, and lies more infinitesimal still, where, pray tell, is the chalice so great, that which we refer to as The Holy Grail?” The Old Burt scratched his wizened head with a fingernail that resembled an oyster left in the sun to dry and allowed to grow odd bits of mould on it.

“It could be in the cafe down the street” answered the Old Burt.

“I'm afraid not”, said the Clergyman, “they only appeared to serve coffee from polystyrene cups”.

“It could be under the bed of a child, afraid to grasp for it for fear of monsters” said the Old Burt.

“I'm afraid it might be but this answer brings me no closer to the end of my quest and as the question was a direct one, I'm sure that had this been the case, the answer too would have been direct”.

The Old Burt grumbled under his breath. This one was smart, though not as smart as he thought himself to be. “The grail so holy could be the mug of coffee within my hands”.

The clergyman looked down doubtfully. “But alas, you hold only a chipped mug”.

“Yes” said the Old Burt, “but it could be. And there end your 3 answers.”

The clergyman looked crestfallen. All this way and still no closer. He left. The Old Burt chuckled to himself. Had the clergyman been as smart as he thought himself to be he would have realised the Old Burt had told some truth. The Grail so Holy was safely in a cafe. It's appearance wasn't that of a chalice but rather something that looked old and worn. It was beneath a couch and made of polystyrene. After all, polystyrene cups last forever (though they do age despite claims of eternal youth).

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