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Thread: Drinking with Death

  1. #1
    It wasn't me Jerrybaldy's Avatar
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    Drinking with Death

    I first spotted Death at the bar ordering a pint. Nobody asked him for ID but hell, he was old enough.
    Death could really drink, I heard George mutter from the pool table, ‘Bloody hoodies!’

    It was quiet in the Worlds End, even for a wet Wednesday. Death seemed to be keen on Navy Rum and Hamlet cigars. I had fifty quid in my pocket courtesy of a hot tip from George earlier in the day. ‘Styx’ had romped home in the 2.30 at Kempton.

    I decided I would drink with Death, shot for shot, from the safety of my usual table in the corner. I didn’t fancy my chances, but Styx had been a winning long shot so I figured lady luck was sat there with me.

    By 11pm I was forcing rum through gritted teeth, whilst Procol Harum blared from the jukebox and George was singing about the vestal virgins with that mad glint in his eye.

    ‘Time Gentlemen Pleeease’ came the familiar call from the bar.

    Death stood up as though the 19 Rums had gone straight through him without effect. His finger beckoned me to follow him out.

    It didn’t surprise me to find that Death wasn’t the chatty sort. We walked in the rain for the next thirty minutes whilst his bony fingers kept dipping into a seemingly infinite packet of salt and vinegar crisps. He crunched on them tirelessly and seemed to struggle to swallow.

    Rain was dripping from the tip of my nose. In reply to Death's crisp crunching came the squelching of water logged socks in my trainers. Heading for home and a warm bed instead of following the back of his cloak didn’t seem to be an option.

    We entered Saint Gertrude Park and sat on a bench with a plaque that said ‘In memory of Albert, missed by the pigeons’. At close quarters Death stank; a mixture of salt and vinegar, turds and treacle.

    Heavy breathing told me he was nodding off. He snored badly as he fell into an uncomfortable sleep; his head on one side and his mouth open wide, sucking in flying insects of the night. I also heard muffled voices from inside his cloak; the cries of babies and the pleading wails of the old.

    Even though I was as wet as I was ever going to get the cold rain stung my face and I yearned to be dry and anywhere else. A crack of lightning lit the park and Death suddenly awoke. He looked at me surprised, as though he had forgotten I was with him.

    He opened his cloak, the stench had gone, and instead a welcoming warmth, a release from the rain. An escape from pain. It smelt like a comfort blanket I had forgotten I once had.

    He spread his arms wide and I sank inside.

    When he released me we were back in the bar. I looked in the corner to see myself slumped over the table. I was quite still and my face at first just ghostly, turned a whiter shade of pale. George sang along.

    The bell rang.

    ‘Time Gentlemen pleeease!’
    Last edited by Jerrybaldy; 03-05-2013 at 11:32 AM.

    For those who believe,
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  2. #2
    All are at the crossroads qimissung's Avatar
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    I liked the title, so I read the story-and I liked the story, too, Jerry! I think this was my favorite line:

    " We walked in the rain for the next thirty minutes whilst his bony fingers kept dipping into a seemingly infinite packet of salt and vinegar crisps. He crunched on them tirelessly and seemed to struggle to swallow.

    Rain was dripping from the tip of my nose. In reply to Death's crisp crunching came the squelching of water logged socks in my trainers."


    OK, lines, it was hard to stop highlighting. Good work.
    "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its' own reason for existing." ~ Albert Einstein
    "Remember, no matter where you go, there you are." Buckaroo Bonzai
    "Some people say I done alright for a girl." Melanie Safka

  3. #3
    Inexplicably Undiscovered
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    You know, Jer, I'm always harping about writing strong openings, but you've come through with a great example, right here.

    As a matter of fact, everything about this posting borders on the brilliant--what I like best of all was the tone, a well-balanced mixture of humor and the macabre. (Know how to pronounce that last word? I sure as hell don't.)

    I love all the down-to-earth touches, which not only "humanize" the piece but also helped unify the theme, for instance the name of the winning pony. Not at all stilted like Death Takes a Holiday, your version shows the Grim Reaper as a hard-drinkin' chap--not at all surprising, given his unpleasant, though I suppose necessary profession-- as well as a muncher of fish 'n' chips.You've described exactly what Death's b.o. must smell like. The scene in which the narrator could hear all the voices when Death opened his cloak was "the living end!"

    I didn't get the Procol Harum reference until later in the story -- ah! The closing of your story is Dickensian, but unlike Scrooge, who needed to be hit over the head with "This is what will happen if you don't change your ways," your protagonist gets the message much more subtly.

    This story is exemplary for all of us LitNutters who aspire to write fiction.

    Well done, Jerry B.
    Bravo!

    Auntie
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 02-13-2013 at 07:10 PM.

  4. #4
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    I can't add anything to what's already been written above - except. . . maybe leave out the last sentence. 'Time Gentlemen Please' is such a great exit line.

    H

  5. #5
    Justifiably inexcusable DocHeart's Avatar
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    Now, I know one is supposed to be satisfied with just a tiny taste of a delicious thing, but I still wish this had been a longer piece.

    Thanks for sharing, Jerry.
    Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine...

  6. #6
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Jerry- this is so well done.....give me a minute here, I'm suffering a moment of jealously... I loved the music references, the telling details, and the brevity. Good show.

  7. #7
    A User, but Registered! tonywalt's Avatar
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    Brilliant short story!

  8. #8
    It wasn't me Jerrybaldy's Avatar
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    Thank you qimissung, Auntie, Hill, Doc, Steven and tonywalt for your kind words. I put God in the 'Rose and Crown' and now Death in the 'Worlds End'. Really enjoyed writing it, glad you enjoyed reading.

    cheers
    JB

    For those who believe,
    no explanation is necessary.
    For those who do not,
    none will suffice.

  9. #9
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Jerry I’m late as usual, but belated congratulations on the piece.

    The Worlds End I know is in Chelsea where my dear old Mum was sent as a child to get a jug of bitter for about one penny for her Dad. Theme pub now, which would explain the custom of The Grim Reaper!

  10. #10
    Clinging to Douvres rocks Gilliatt Gurgle's Avatar
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    Wow.
    I like the way you slipped in the PH "...whiter shade of pale...".
    Nice
    "Mongo only pawn in game of life" - Mongo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKRma7PDW10

  11. #11
    It wasn't me Jerrybaldy's Avatar
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    Thank you Manichaean. ...A jug of bitter for a penny, for her dad..... what a great image.

    Thank you GG, I do love a musical reference

    For those who believe,
    no explanation is necessary.
    For those who do not,
    none will suffice.

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