A J Walker

Originally a Sandgrounder, but I consider myself a Scouser at heart. Accidentally fell into poetry a few years ago and have been trying to extricate myself from that messy pond ever since. Occasionally somehow still find myself at the Dead Good Poets Society.  Currently made a sidestep away from these lyrical experiments and am suffering with a Flash Fiction Addiction.  Find it fun and a useful way to get the old noggin going through the gears. Considering moving over to some longer stories... joined up Flash Fiction. Big Fiction. Watch this space.

Some of my writing can be found on my personal website: www.zevonesque.com and no doubt I will put some stories and poems on here too.

Elves - All Shook Up

Elves - All Shook Up

 

Everybody knows elves are magical. And, everyone knows how hard they work all year round making the toys for all the good children. Santa in particular knows how much they put into developing the complex and detailed itineraries for their delivery to all the homes - it’s a complicated task, even for the magicalist elves who work in the Elf Logistics Department.

 

          What most people don’t know is that once every five years the elves are given a whole half day off in December as a thank you. Mr & Mrs Claus put together a show with the funnest danciest singiest of the elves who produce an evening of loud and lovely elfertainment. There’s a forest of candy canes and a mountain of fondanty cakes, there are great bowls of pop and some special fruit punch made by Santa himself. The climax of the show is always a big karaoke singalong of ‘New York, New York’ - assuming the elves have managed to get the microphone of Santa - who these days loves doing a bit Robbie Williams.

 

          All the elves from the tiniest shyest elf - that is very tiny - to the tallest roundiest of elves - that is very round (but not so tall) - love the day so much that they talk about it day after day after day until at least their next half day holiday comes around.

 

          Now Santa is by his nature very superstitious - being thought of as fictitious by most the adult population he knows that there are stranger things in heaven and earth. So Santa would never walk under a ladder, he would always throw spilt salt over his left shoulder and like everyone else he was always quite confused by what he was supposed to do if a black cat should cross his path - he’d generally try to pretend he hadn’t seen it. When this year’s party fell on Friday 13th - for the party was always on the second friday before Christmas - Santa should have thought better of it, but tradition is tradition and that outweighed his superstitions. 

 

 

          On the morning of the party Santa had made excellent party progress -  the candy cane forest (misshapes and broken canes unsuitable for Christmas delivery to the good children of the world) was planted, the cakes were a veritable Everest in lurid fondant, and the pop was popping and fizzing in great garish lakes. Santa sighed the sigh of a happy man, job almost done - just the fruit punch to go.

 

          Santa always took great pride in the punch, it was always a winner with all the elves.  He would use real fruit and juices, a soupçon of naughty pop, some sugar from the rare sugar bees of Antarctica - no one knew what they fed on - and ice from the brightest glassiest glacier (which handily was just a few hundred meters away, a bit left of the north pole).

 

          It was hard work making the tasty treat as there was just so much to make. He walked back and forth between the great vat, where he mixed the punch, and the giant fruit and sugar barns of Elf Town. It had been a bumper year for apples so Santa decided to use much of these up for his punch - if truth be told he couldn’t face another of Mrs Claus’ apple crumbles. He found it quite tiring hauling the great boxes, sacks and barrels from the barns to the vat, back and again, back and again. Several times he found he had got a little dizzy and only felt better after having a little snifter of sherry - he was glad he carried that flask around with him - sherry was definitely a cure all for Santa. His seemingly annual sniffly cold - which he could never quite shake - wasn’t helping and he couldn’t taste his fruit punch concoction properly, but he knew the quantities were about right and it was all natural ingredients. Eventually he was satisfied and, a little tired and a little dizzy but most decidedly happy, Santa sat down and poured himself a sherry - it was part of the tradition after all.   

 

 

That night the party started well. The candy cane forest was universally acclaimed as really rather good, and the fondant cakes were judged themost garish and therefore the best ever (or at least since records began). Mrs Claus had cooked some of her special biscuits - with red, white and green icing - and made each one in the shape of each and every one of the elves. The biscuits were given out randomly - as it wasn’t fair to give the smallest elf the smallest biscuit and the largest roundest elf the biggest - the “Self Perpetuating Christmas Biscuit Problem” was something Santa, and the largest elf, were well all too aware of (Santa seemed to recall that there was a specific chapter on Christmas rituals in the Elf Safety Management System, although Santa only used this hefty tome to stand on when trying to reach the top shelf in the kitchen, where Mrs Claus somehow and somewhy kept putting the biscuit jar).

 

          It wasn’t until late in the evening, when the karaoke was in full swing, that both Mr and Mrs Claus began to notice that something was amiss. Several elves seemed to be selecting songs which were decidedly un-Christmassy and there was rather too much cheering and leering when Glory Longbottom was singing ‘Mistletoe and Wine’. The evening then descended rapidly after five of the youngest elves, who worked together in the Silly String Division, went up calling themselves the Suns of Anarchy and sang something that Santa thought may have been called Firestarter

 

          The elf party of Friday 13th went down in infamy, before then everyone knew that elves were good, everyone knew that elves worked hard and had a playful sense of humour, and that they loved to dance and they loved to sing. But until that party no-one knew what happened when elves drank cider. 

 

          It was not pretty.

 

          No-one got the right gift that year and some children ripped open their presents on Christmas Day to find... well, nothing the least bit present like and certainly nothing at all like a Yule Log. It was an unmitigated Christmas disaster -  second only in effect to the infamous opium experiment of 1857 when Christmas was cancelled completely. 

 

          Now everyone knows what happens when elves and cider mix.

 

 

The Christmas post-mortem, which lasted through January to April, quickly identified Santa’s special fruit punch as the cause of the problem. Several issues were highlighted to avoid repetition in future events, including; how to store bulk food items to reduce risk, a protocol for tasting and testing home made drinks (preferably by someone without a cold and a little tolerance to alcohol - just in case) and, critically, avoiding Friday 13th for parties in the future - in the event the second Friday before Christmas falls on 13th the party would be moved to the Saturday. Santa volunteered to undertake several studies into fermentation in order to learn how to avoid such incidents in the future  - though no one was completely convinced about his reasons. There was a whole new chapter added to the Elf Safety Management System - which would make it even harder for Mrs Claus to put the biscuits out of reach. The memo sent around to all the elf managers simply stated that the rule of thumb was that cider and elves do not mix - an elf and safety no no - and apples were to be reserved purely for feeding the reindeer - Santa though was allowed a small supply for personal use.

 

 

 

 

For Tony O’Neil who - for the Poised Pen ‘2013 Secret Santa’  - wanted to know what happens: When Elves Go Bad!

 

By the mostest secretest of Santa’s Elves - aka Mr A J Walker!

 

Locomotion

 

Every week Joe drove slowly around the estates of north west London in his rusty flat back wagon. The old speaker on the roof would crackle out with one of four familiar calls, none of which would be discernible if you didn’t know them. His 45 year old face was long and a little thin and his hair greying. Life had made him look older, but it was still a jovial and welcoming face. 

The rag and bone was a throwback to the 19th Century rebranded since the 1990s as ‘recycling’ and he loved the simplicity of it. He just moved crap that was too big for the bins that people couldn’t get down to the tip.  More often he was actually just taking stuff that people couldn’t be bothered dealing with. He loved other lazy people.

Occasionally he would hit pay-dirt of course. People not knowing what they were disposing of, the ignorance of the general public, was his very best friend. Joe hated the proliferation of TV programmes like Antiques Roadshow and Bargain Hunt. Still, each day he would drive his old banger of a wagon back to the yard packed with tat and at the end of his day he would be climbing into his new Merc to drive to his rather handsome home in the suburbs.

This particular Friday was to be a good day. A young man in a rush to clear his grandmother’s flat was stood by the road with some boxes. ‘Can you take these of my hands mate?’ the man called across to Joe.

‘Looks light, is it clothes?’ said Joe trying to sound friendly and slightly uninterested at the same time.

‘Yeah, just a few rags I’m afraid mate, a few books,’ the man said, ‘Sorry there’s nothing more interesting. She didn’t have a lot my gran.’

‘Pile them on the back then,’ Joe shrugged, ‘I’ll get rid of them for you.’

He loved ignorant people.

Back at the yard Joe was on his knees going through the boxes methodically, whilst a mix CD was blasting out classic songs from the 1960s. A smile grew wide across his cracked face. His eyes sparkled too and the years seemed to drop away from him.

‘Mary Quant, Ossie Clark. Oh my!’ Joe showed the dresses to Ted, the rather uninterested doberman pinscher, ‘Yves Saint Laurent!’

These vintage classics would sell for a small fortune on Monday. Better still though, today was Friday and there was one dress in particular which looked stunning.  

‘His gran must have been a tall lady,’ Joe muttered. Ted emitted a low growl as Joe measured the navy blue dress against his torso.

Tonight was a big 60s night down the club, and on Friday nights Joe became Jo. He could feel his excitement rising as he closely studied his find. He couldn’t wait to be doing the ‘Locomotion’ in that dress.

 

(484 words) Submitted previously at Mid Week Blues Breaker #MWBB - received 2nd Place. 

The Caravanette

 

Brought to our house without pre-assessment,

 

a small brown motorised embarrassment.

 

We loaded it quick, without being seen,

 

then on our way, our American dream.

 

 

Mum almost crying underneath the frown.

 

Plastic, linoleum, peeling and brown;

 

The mud brown carpet smelled too of spilt milk.

 

Parents silence spoke of anger and guilt.

 

 

 

The trips feel good factor fizzled away,

 

this caravanette turned the blue skies grey.

 

Dads eyes on the M6 as the sky cried,

 

My sister and I tried playing eye-spy.

 

 

Uncoordinated trees head-banging,

 

the country never looked less inviting,

 

Lancashire hills rolled by like a cruel sea.

 

Both children and parents for once agree.

 

 

Holiday dreams turned to holiday hell.

 

Open windows couldn’t disguise the smell.

 

We got up to Yorkshire, a place called Dent,

 

please God let there be a cottage to rent!

 

 

1 An all too true account of a trip that became a chore more than a holiday.  Still, I remember it with affection partly as the family pulled together, perhaps channeling some spirit of the Blitz.