Brothers in Arms

templar

TO THE strains of Dire Straits, I am surrounded by battle in its last throes, a sea of mud everywhere. These fields of destruction, baptisms of fire, I’ve witnessed your suffering, every man has to die …

But not just yet. A trapped horseman is pulled from between his fallen mount and the mire. Am I the one being pulled or the one doing the pulling? I can’t tell which of us is which.

I do not know where I am or who I am other than that I am a man. And I know not how I know but the other man is Rab …

* * * * *

BOTH RAB and I fluttered in the same social circle. For me anyway, the sense of having met before was instantaneous.

It was while walking along a busy street only days after our introduction that I was hit with the cinematic picture of horses flopping about in the mud and an intense feeling of loyalty, brother to brother. I had never had a ‘vision’ with audio before.

Somewhere between a week and two weeks later, I meandered through Leith Links, on my way to the house of the mutual friend who had introduced us. Having never taken that particular route before, I scanned the open green and surrounding buildings. As I did so, got a strong impression of mud where there should have been grass.

The answer to my immediate question came quickly and without the asking. It was my friend who told me that here in the middle of the 16th century, the French had occupied Leith, until they were forcibly removed by the English army in 1560. Like most Scots, I had never heard of the Battle of Leith Links, or rather the Siege of Leith.

A short time later, Rab and I found ourselves blethering – as we were prone to do – like there was no tomorrow. Only this time our conversation took a more spooky turn than usual. Ghosts, dreams, you name it. The situation was ripe for bringing my battle vision into the conversation.

Thing is, Rab beat me to it …

“I’ve been having this recurring dream,” he said. “Well, actually, it’s more like a vision coz I only get it when I’m awake during the day.”

I know what he is going to say. Baited breath.

“I’m in a battle and I’m being pulled out from under a horse.”

I felt my face turn to rubber. It must have blanched, for he said “Not you as well.”

Up to that point, I had told no-one.

I choked “Was it a muddy battlefield?”

“Yes,” came the whisper.

 

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes

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Communion

weerobin

THE HOMELESS day centres were either closed or their books were full – my options had run out hours ago. Now it was raining again and I was pissing wet through. The hunger was excruciating.

Rock bottom could not be any lower than this. Too weak to venture any further, I located the nearest available park bench and lay down my weary head, seduced by the very notion of drifting into a deep slumber from which I could never return.

Just as my eyes were half shut, a blur appeared out of nowhere. A tiny bird. Perching itself on the back of the seat, its demeanour was curious, expectant.

“Cheep.”

Sitting up, I replied “Sorry pal. Nothing today.”

“Cheep.” It strutted about then flew off.

Moments later, it landed beside me, this time with a morsel of bread in its beak. Insisting on full eye contact, it dipped its gaze only to deposit it. Then it eyeballed me again, as if just to make sure I knew what to do.

Not knowing whether to laugh or cry, I pretended to put the bread in my mouth then snuck it into my coat pocket.

“Mmmm. Yummy.”

Then my wee benefactor was gone.

Infused with just enough hope to drag myself onto my feet, my day just went from bad to better.

 

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2017

Grey Matter

IN THE thick of a mass murder investigation, a home specialising in the care of Alzheimers patients exudes a distinct aura of smoke and mirrors that somehow manages to escape the notice of the police. Exactly how many secrets is it trying to hide?
Full story here.

Grey Matter is an experimental short story from M K MacInnes, only available on Scribd for now due to formatting constraints and best downloaded as a PDF on a PC. Click pic for direct link to Scribd – free to download and you don’t have to be a Scribd member to view it.

Note:

1. This is a work of pure fiction that should not be confused with real fake news.

2. Grey Matter is a WORK IN PROGRESS. Constructive feedback ever so welcome.

3. I have published it to Scribd, as having a fixed format, I have no control over how it looks in other platforms such as Amazon.

 

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2017

 

Le Piroquet

parrot

THE SEARING Marseilles heat was a welcome change from the clinging smell of autumnal mildew that permeated Paris of an evening. It was morning, dawn but a distant memory for the flora and the fauna encircling my bedroom window. The sun already seemed high and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. I had just opened the wooden shutter, invigorated by a subtle awareness of the cool air hugging the ground and the soft caress of sun on my face. Better than I had ever imagined life in the South of France to be, the moment could not be more perfect. I felt connected, at one with the whole of Creation.

Sitting on the branch of an orange tree about five feet from me was a beautiful winged creature, a glorious technicolour parrot straight from the pages of Treasure Island.

“Wow, you’re gorgeous!”, I exclaimed.

He blinked at me, as if to say “Yes, I know.”

I blinked too, in disbelief that such an audience had presented itself.

The parrot studied me. I studied back. Who was the more curious, me or him? I looked about to see if there was another soul around. Nope. Just me and the bird.

It flicked its head as if it had a nervous twitch. Just as it occurred to me that he wanted to scratch, he lifted his right claw and did the deed. He squawked in a self-satisfied manner and tilted his head the other way.

I tilted mine and squawked back.

It occurred to me that I should try to teach it to say something funny. How did one say “Who’s a pretty boy, then” or “Don’t get your knickers in a twist” in French? No, that would be beneath me and insult the parrot.

As if he knew what I was thinking, he cocked his head, strutted on the spot as if walking on hot coals, then began to whistle. He articulated three crisp clear notes.

I said nothing. I couldn’t whistle to save myself. All attempts by my father to teach me had failed.

He whistled the same three notes yet again. Still I uttered not a sound.

It was only when he whistled the third time that the penny dropped and I attempted to follow suit. My first efforts were in vain, for I blew like a flat tyre.

He repeated the same notes. I tried again. And again. And again. He persisted until I had mastered whistling all the notes in exactly the manner that he had done.
I couldn’t believe I was actually doing it. At long bloody last, I could whistle …

After a short pause, in which he almost seemed to make a little bow of approval, the maestro whistled again. Only this time, there were four notes. The first two were the same as before, but the third was different and the fourth was entirely new.

In the midst of my euphoria, it was not lost on me that the parrot knew exactly what it was doing. Everything about this strange and wonderful experience made me want to pinch myself. I half expected Richard Dreyfuss to come out of nowhere and a massive flying disk to appear above my head. Close Encounters of the Bird Kind … ha ha. I kept my imaginings simple and settled instead on Simon Says.

But Mister Feathered Smarty Pants was not satisfied that I had got the hang of four notes. Oh no, he piled it on and took it up to five. By the time he racked the level of difficulty up to six, my attention span was shot to pieces and I couldn’t handle all the notes.

He paced about like a disgruntled drill sergeant, then looked at me as if to say “Pfft, is that it?”

Mmm, I could smell breakfast. I shrugged my shoulders as if to say “Mais oui.”

In the blink of an eye my Teacher fluttered off into the big blue sky.

FIN

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2015-2017

Devil’s Pawn

fireplace

ACT I

A TEENAGE boy wakes from a deep sleep surrounded by a beautiful vista, a field of blue and red poppies in a sea of green. The sky is exquisite sapphire. An airship in the shape of a pointing hand flies overhead, emblazoned with red block letters that he cannot read.

A road appears to be going in the general direction of where the finger is pointed. Before the boy has a chance to follow the path, the hand swings in his direction. Thunderclouds form and the sky turns black. Now the hand is pointing squarely at the young man. In terror, he runs as fast as he can.

But the airship chases him across endless fields of dead poppies until, exhausted, he crumples into a heap. The last thing he sees is the ship bearing down on him and the words DEVIL SPAWN.


ACT II

Scene 1

A LOG cabin nestles in a blanket of hard-blowing snow, illuminated by a soft moon. The chimney coughs furballs of pinesmoke. The scene would be idyllic, as that of a Christmas card, were it not for the trio of wolves chewing on a moose carcass just by the treeline.

 Scene 2

THE interior of the cabin is fitted in plush Viking style. Rich tapestries, paintings and animal furs deck the walls. A leather wing-backed chair stands by the hearth of a walk-in open log fire. The date on the state-of-the-art TV unit flashes 01:17, 010197.

A MAN in his early thirties emerges from a well-camouflaged elevator to the back of the living area. Wearing a richly embroidered bathrobe, he pours himself a Jack Daniels on the rocks and falls into the leather chair.

Within a few moments, the sound of a helicopter is discernible. It gets louder and louder, until it finally stops. Seconds later, there is a loud knock at the door. MAN picks up a device, puts it to his ear, then points it at the door.

An OLDER MAN enters wearing heavy ski-ing gear. He pulls up his frost-covered goggles and pulls down his ski mask.

OLDER MAN: Happy New Year, sir.

MAN: Happy New Year. What do you want?

OLDER MAN hesitates and casts his eyes around the room.

MAN: We’re in the middle of the Arctic Circle, for chrissakes. What do you think?

OLDER MAN: I have every reason to be paranoid, sir. Right now the company’s leakier than the Titanic.  Half our phones are tapped.

MAN: It’s clean. Say what you have to say, then clear off. I’m in no mood for auld lang syne.

OLDER MAN: We have a problem at the lab.

MAN: There’s always a problem at the lab. Tell me something new.

OLDER MAN: But this time Austin’s threatening to go to the press. This could blow up in all our faces. What do you want me to do?

MAN: Just do what you’re paid to do. I don’t care how you do it.

OLDER MAN: But, with respect, sir, the public mood is turning. And the shareholders are getting nervous.  They feel you’re taking too many unnecessary risks. You might pull it off once but not twice.

MAN: Don’t be such a wimp. The shareholders have plenty else to worry about if I don’t. I know what I’m doing and what I’m asking of you is perfectly legal. It’ll be my neck on the line, anyway, not yours.

OLDER MAN: You’re out of your depth. You’re not your father.

MAN: No, I’m not. But I will not fail him. And I will exceed him.

MAN does not see OLDER MAN roll his eyes.

MAN: Any news of Hannah’s whereabouts?

OLDER MAN: Your sister?

MAN: Who else?

OLDER MAN: Oh, she’s doing same old same old.

MAN: She’s with the protesters then?

OLDER MAN: Yes, I’m afraid so, sir.

MAN: Yeah, that figures. Just my luck to have a treacherous tree-hugger in the family. You know your life won’t be worth living if you let her out of your sight, don’t you? What about Melanie and the kids?

OLDER MAN: They’re fine. Out of sight. Confused, of course, about what’s going on. Come to think of it, what is going on? If you want me to do my job, you need to tell me everything. I know this is only the tip of the iceberg.

MAN: You really don’t want to know. Just be thankful you have the luxury of deniability.

OLDER MAN: Yeah, you’re right, you’re so so right.

OLDER MAN puts his ski mask and goggles back on and turns towards the door.

MAN: See you when the dust settles then.

OLDER MAN: Yeah, see you. Thanks for the drink an’ all.

MAN: Yeah, whatever.

OLDER MAN opens the door to the sound of the harsh wind. Seconds later the door is shut. MAN is left in silence staring at the ice in the bottom of his whisky glass.


ACT III

Scene 1

TWO New York paramedics push a trolley along a busy hospital corridor at a brisk pace, accompanied by a junior doctor in surgical greens trying to keep up and carrying a clipboard. The patient lies on his side, attached to an IV drip and numerous electrodes connected to a monitor emitting rapid beeps. The digital clock on the wall reads 06:17 PM, Oct 6, 2015.

OLDER PARAMEDIC: Caucasian male, mid forties. Identity unknown. Suspected drug and alcohol overdose. Respiration forty to fifty, heart rate around one fifty. Pupils dilated. Core body temp thirty nine point six and rising.

DOCTOR: No ID at all?

ROOKIE PARAMEDIC: Nothing. The guy that made the call gave us a name but it turns out to be bogus. Whoever he was, he covered his tracks.

DOCTOR: Any evidence of habitual drug use?

OLDER PARAMEDIC: None that we can see. But then he wasn’t at home. We got the call from the director at the Waldorf Astoria, so maybe an occasional coke user, you never know. Only whatever he took, we don’t know what it is. He paid for his room in cash, so no credit card, nothing.

DOCTOR: So what do we know?

OLDER PARAMEDIC: Half a bottle of whisky and an unidentified drug, no label or bottle. We’ve sent four blister packs with the whisky bottle to the lab for analysis. Caution, product sample, not for use.  In case of emergency, please contact Something Laboratories followed by a phone number. The desk are on it now.

DOCTOR: How many then?

ROOKIE PARAMEDIC: Most likely the whole pack. Two thousand milligrams of God only knows what. Ingestion two, maybe three hours ago. It was lucky he was already in the recovery position when we arrived.

OLDER PARAMEDIC: I just hope for his sake this wasn’t a cry for help.

ROOKIE PARAMEDIC: What do you mean?

OLDER PARAMEDIC: He’s too far gone. He won’t make it.

ROOKIE PARAMEDIC: You can’t say that.

OLDER PARAMEDIC: Oh, grow up. I do know it’s too late to pump. Just pray to God that number’s not on answerphone.

Just as the trolley arrives at the surgical room, the beeping on the monitor gives way to a continuous tone. Mad dash. Full CPR.

Scene 2

MAN arrives at the Pearly Gates of Heaven. He is greeted by an impish figure dressed in a
white medical coat and carrying a clipboard.

IMP: Name.

MAN: Name? Sorry, where am I?

IMP: if you don’t know where you are, then you’re in bigger trouble than I thought. Name.

MAN: Rogan. Josh.

IMP: Ha ha. Very funny. Name.

MAN: My name is Josh Rogan. Now where the hell am I?

IMP: Ooh, close. Come this way, please.

IMP leads MAN away from the Gates and down a flight of stairs.

Scene 3

A door opens. MAN and IMP enter. The room resembles a domed greenhouse, glass and flora everywhere. In the middle of the dome is a massive ornate desk, with a leather top and quill and ink. Behind it is a shiny wing-backed leather chair facing away. The person sitting in it is on the phone.

IMP: Josh Rogan, sir. Or so he says.

The chair swings round and the occupant puts down the phone. An older man with a dark brown freckled complexion and fuzzy silver-grey hair beams a perfect set of pearly white teeth.

CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Grenville. Have some coffee. We might be some time.

JOSH’s eyes widen.

JOSH: You, you look like Morgan Freeman … You are Morgan Freeman. Then that means …

JOSH is white as a sheet.

CHAIRMAN: Yes, that’s right, son, you guessed it. You’d better sit down.

A chair materialises in front of the desk. JOSH sits and makes himself uncomfortable.

CHAIRMAN: Sooo, it’s been a while. Have you anything to say for yourself?

JOSH: Sorry?

CHAIRMAN: No, you don’t have to be sorry. I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to help you. Understand.

JOSH: Understand what?

CHAIRMAN: What happened. Why.

JOSH: I really don’t follow. You mean what did I do wrong?

CHAIRMAN: No, I never said that. I asked you to tell me what happened. No right. No wrong. I repeat, you are not being judged.

Long silence. CHAIRMAN remains cool. JOSH shifts in his seat.

CHAIRMAN: I’m waiting.

The colour rises in JOSH’s face. A flash of conflicting emotions.

JOSH: No. No, you’re not doing this. This isn’t part of the deal. There’s been some mistake. I should have gone straight to Hell. Why am I even here?

CHAIRMAN: No, that is where you’re wrong, Josh Rogan. This is by far the best part of the deal. Why would you think otherwise?

JOSH: But I am nothing to you. You gave up on me a long time ago. And I gave up on you.

CHAIRMAN: Ah, yes, you did. But which came first? The chicken or the egg?

JOSH: This is ridiculous. Will you please stop talking in riddles. You’re really pissing me off now.

CHAIRMAN pulls out a cigar from a top drawer.

CHAIRMAN: Tsk. Harsh words for someone who’s trying to get his soul back.

CHAIRMAN lights up cigar and puffs a billow of smoke. Josh stands up abruptly and leans over the desk.

JOSH: Don’t you dare play with me. I don’t care who you are. This is some joke, it must be. This isn’t real.

CHAIRMAN: Oh but it is. Why would you think this is a joke?

JOSH throws himself back into the chair in resignation.
He pulls at his face.

JOSH: Because I’m fucked. My soul is gone. Deal done. Finito. Sayonara.

CHAIRMAN: And you know this how, pray tell?

CHAIRMAN leans right back into his wing-backed chair. His casual demeanour exacerbates JOSH’s nerves further.

JOSH: You know full well. Why even ask?

CHAIRMAN: I want to hear you say it.

JOSH: Say what? That I sold my soul?

JOSH spits the words.

JOSH: That I knew from the age of frickin’ fifteen that I was damned for eternity? Is that what you want to hear?

JOSH is standing up now, in a state of agitation, hands clasped on top of his head.

CHAIRMAN: What happened when you were fifteen to make you so certain of this?

JOSH: You know. The dream. The one where you told me that I was the spawn of the Devil.

CHAIRMAN: I told you that?

JOSH: Yes, you did. You disowned me. From that day forward, you obviously wanted nothing more to do with me.

CHAIRMAN: How did that make you feel?

JOSH: Hey, let me finish. At first I was devastated. I felt empty. Like I do now. But then in time realised that I had been set free. And I owed nothing to nobody except myself.

CHAIRMAN: Then what?

JOSH: Well, you know. I sold my soul.

CHAIRMAN: You keep saying this. But did you really? Think back.

JOSH: Well, what else do you call it? I sold my soul when Father got sick and gave me control of the company. Lock, stock and barrel.

CHAIRMAN: Are you sure about that now?

JOSH: Yes, of course I’m sure. How could I forget something like that? The day my life changed for the better. The day I became somebody.

CHAIRMAN: Josh, there’s something I want to show you.

CHAIRMAN gets up.

CHAIRMAN: Follow me.

CHAIRMAN leads JOSH to an elevator. The 6th floor button is lit up.
CHAIRMAN presses 3rd floor button. The lift door opens and they enter.

Scene 4

CHAIRMAN and JOSH exit the elevator into another corridor. Further along the corridor is an ornate oak door. CHAIRMAN opens the door onto a beautiful vista, a field of blue and red poppies in a sea of green. As they move through the door, the panorama opens up. The sky is blue and an advertising balloon in the shape of a hand pointing a finger is flying overhead. It is emblazoned with the words DEVIL’S PAWN SHOP.

JOSH: What the …?

CHAIRMAN: Sshh. Just keep going.

In front of them is a path that appears to be going in the general direction of where the finger is pointed. JOSH and CHAIRMAN follow the path.

Scene 5

JOSH and CHAIRMAN enter what looks like a quaint small town store. The ceilings are high, the walls lined with brass-handled wooden drawers. The man behind the front desk is bent over as if he is looking for something. CHAIRMAN rings the bell, causing the ATTENDANT to jump up. He is wiry in appearance, and wearing a faded pair of denim dungarees, a striped tee-shirt and a baseball cap. He appears to be pregnant. Around his neck is a fine gold chain with an eyeglass
on the end of it. Sitting in the corner disembowelling a tennis ball is a surgically-enhanced chimp wearing a bridal corset.

ATTENDANT: Oh my, you gave me quite a stir. What can I do for you, sir?

ATTENDANT puts his monocle on. His face lights up when he sees CHAIRMAN.

ATTENDANT:  Oh, it’s yourself, sir. What a pleasure. It’s been such a while.

CHAIRMAN:  Yes, it has. Now, I’d like you to dig something out for me. My friend here would like to see his papers.

JOSH looks confused. As he casts his eyes all over the shop, his brow is furrowed. There is a glimmer of recognition in his face.

JOSH: I’ve been here before.

CHAIRMAN: Aye, that you have.

The ATTENDANT slides a ladder across the back wall, then climbs up until he reaches one of the drawers. He opens it and rifles through the contents. Finally, he pulls out a wallet, descends the ladder and brings the contents to the front desk.

ATTENDANT: There we are, sir, it’s all there. In black and white.

JOSH: What’s he talking about?

CHAIRMAN leafs through a beautifully handwritten document until he finds the page he is looking for. Marking the spot with his finger, he beckons JOSH.

CHAIRMAN: See for yourself.

JOSH grabs the document and starts to read it, flipping back and forth through the pages until he has seen all he needs to see.

CHAIRMAN: That’s the deal. You see, Josh, I have news for you. You cannot sell your soul. It’s a loan. You either repay the debt. Or you don’t. In your case, the term was thirty years.

JOSH: But I’ve always been a bad person. Since the day I was born.

CHAIRMAN: Who told you that?

JOSH: Everyone. My birth parents. The nuns. My kindergarten teacher.

Long silence. Then a jolt.

JOSH: The dream, that was thirty years ago today.

CHAIRMAN: Yes, it was. Time’s up, Josh.

JOSH is calmer now. He is letting the information sink in. He looks like is about to cry.

JOSH: You knew I was dyslexic.

CHAIRMAN: Yes, I did.

CHAIRMAN’s voice is tender. He puts his hand on JOSH’s shoulder.

JOSH: So what did you expect?

CHAIRMAN: Everything. And nothing.

Scene 6

JOSH and CHAIRMAN are back at the CHAIRMAN’s office. Both are enjoying a cigar, only JOSH is smoking like there’s no tomorrow. He is still in shock.

CHAIRMAN: So, Josh, what about the one you had when you were eight? Just before your adoptive father took you out of the children’s home.

JOSH: The one what?

CHAIRMAN: The dream. You know, the one you’ve forgotten. The most important one of all. When you remember it, you will know what your Mission was. And still is.

JOSH: Mission? I have no clue what you’re talking about.

CHAIRMAN: The reason you’re here. The reason you were born.

CHAIRMAN leans forward. His voice drops to a whisper.

CHAIRMAN: The reason I sent you.

Scene 7

JOSH and CHAIRMAN are back at the Pearly Gates.

JOSH: So if this is all part of the plan, why did you allow me to get the wrong end of the stick in the first place?

CHAIRMAN: Because you now have the power to change all of it. To reverse what you started.

JOSH: But I’m broke. I’ll be lucky if I have a roof over my head. I’m finished.

CHAIRMAN: Josh, you are known the world over. You have a voice. Now go. Your mission starts …

CHAIRMAN looks at his watch.

CHAIRMAN: … now.

Scene 8

MAN wakes up. He is in a hospital bed, surrounded by tubes and equipment. A middle-aged woman with a natural golden complexion and braided blue-grey hair sits by his bedside, holding his hand. She calls a nurse.


ACT IV

JOSH is in an office, stretched out on a chaise longue and clutching a cushion to his belly. His coat is draped over the back. Sitting across from him in a leather wing-backed armchair is a balding man wearing thick black spectacles, an open shirt and a pink tank top.

THERAPIST: You’re making good progress, Josh. Sadly for me, you don’t really need my services any more. Maybe we should be thinking of monthly sessions, then once every six months. But before you go, tell me about your dream again. The one you said you had during your coma. I know you told me six months ago, but I’d like to hear you tell it again.

JOSH sits up and starts to put on his coat.

JOSH: Well, as you know, it was quite the most beautiful, the most lucid dream I have ever had. It was like I was really there. I was climbing this mountain, then when I got to the top, I felt such a peace that I have never felt before. I closed my eyes, then when I opened them again, there was all these people everywhere, as far as the eye could see. They just came out of nowhere. They were all unwell or injured in some way. And they just stared at me. And just sat there all around me. And even though I tried, I couldn’t not look at them. And they wouldn’t go until they knew that I knew what I must do.

JOSH is ready to leave. He takes his mobile phone from his coat pocket.

THERAPIST: And what was that?

JOSH: Help them get the future back that I had taken from them.

THERAPIST: What time’s the press conference?

JOSH: Two o’ clock.

THERAPIST: Then be gone. Get the hell out of here.

 

THE END

 

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2016

The Reference

prayhard

A MAN applied for a job that required three telephone references. Being self-employed, identifying suitable up-to-date referees who were available for comment was not always a straightforward matter, so he asked his live-in girlfriend and former business partner Erica if she could do the honours. To this she agreed.

Three days later, Erica’s mobile phone rang. It was a man who said he was phoning in connection with Roger Duncan.

Old habits die hard. No sooner had she uttered the words “Hang on a minute” and passed the phone to her other half, Erica’s heart smacked the floor. She ran to the nearest wall and banged her head off it, before sloping out of the room and locking herself in the bathroom with every intention of shoving it down the toilet.

By the time she regained her composure and had the courage to show her face, the call had ended. The expression on Roger’s face said it all. For shame, she could not look him in the eye. Maybe if she just burst into tears, that would break the ice.

Just at that very moment, the day’s mail was pushed through the letterbox. Glad of the distraction, Erica rushed to the door to pick it up.

“Well?” barked Roger across the hallway.

No answer.

When Roger went into the hall to investigate, he found Erica bent double, clutching her stomach like she was in agony.

“What the f***?”

Even as Erica pulled herself up to look him in the face, she flapped her hands as though she was having a hot flush. Her face was raw with tears. Each time she tried to get words out of her mouth, she bubbled some more. Roger realised that his girlfriend was having a fit of hysterics.

“What’s so funny?” he bellowed, his face still dead and straight as a steel poker.

Struggling now for breath, Erica held up the brochure she had picked off the floor. Across the front in big bold letters were the words TRY PRAYING

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2016

Moby

MANY full moons ago I flew to Duluth, Minnesota, via Chicago on a business trip.

A few minutes into the return ascent out of Duluth, I looked out the window. Even in the blinding sunlight, I could make out the shape of a very large white underwater creature feeding by the side of a small lake.

At first I wondered whether it could just be a submersible but when it flicked its rudder, I was sure it was a tail. In which case it was most likely a whale. A white whale. Moby Dick to be exact.

I unfocussed my eyes, refocused, then shoved my nose back up to the glass.

Yes, no two ways about it. Until someone could prove to me otherwise, that was indeed Moby Dick.

Nine years later

IT WAS the height of summer in a remote corner of the Scottish Highlands and I was serving a visiting customer. As he happened to be the only one in the house at the time, I was not so busy that I couldn’t stop for a wee bit of banter.

He was a Canadian retired pilot and an avid storyteller. Most of his anecdotes were about flying and the kind of cultural misunderstandings that could arise between Canadians and Americans. What a hoot.

He brought up Minnesota, so I mentioned my trip to Duluth. This in turn prompted me to remember looking out of the plane window and seeing the whale.

“Nobody believed me, for some reason. Even after I found out it was probably a beluga. I guess most people, here anyway, have never heard of beluga whales. You’d have thought I was talking about a unicorn.”

The man proceeded to tell me about the mammoth water tank he had had to transport out of Chicago several years earlier. The beluga whale inside it was resident at the Zoo there. It had taken all the pilot’s flying experience just to avoid spilling the contents and afford his passenger a smooth ride.

My neurons exploded.

“Hang on a minute,” I said, “Chicago Zoo, you say?”

Wheels turned. “My God, but it was Chicago we flew out of, not Duluth. That must have been the Zoo I saw from the plane. Does it have a small natural lake in the middle of it?”

“Why, yes, I believe so.”

 “So I did see Moby Dick … I did, I did! Might even have been the same one … “Hey, what are the chances of that? Thank you so much for confirming that I am not completely insane after all.”

 “My pleasure, ma’am.”

FIN

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes