Flash-Fiction-Friday - FF-Paying-You-For.jpg

by G. J. Hart

A few moments after the bullet gathers up your heart and scarpers, Jennifer demands you play golf. You must refuse. You haven’t played in years, and your knees will seize like the shears buried that night the moon whistled and kicked the ground. As she swings her Sunbeam into the car park of the abandoned course, she texts to say that, in a ridiculous universe, golf is a sensible way to pass the time. Ignore It.

A few moments after the tractor staggers across three lanes and sends your Sunbeam spinning into the emergency phone box, Jennifer offers ‘the tour‘. As she fingers her tie and mumbles something about free sandwiches, you feel yourself – despite her poor people skills – falling in love. Be warned – her diffidence and largesse are a ploy: if you capitulate, she will lead you beneath unwitting monitions where – before a boarded narthex – paupers coil and brigands beg and quislings hold their throats. Remember: you cannot demand a refund and there will be no sandwiches.

A few moments after the horses bolt and the lea spits against the squall, you are invited to breakfast. Jennifer drives you to Tommy’s: a greasy spoon converted from a public convenience and fabled for its links to the greensman murders of ’21. The cafe is appointed with plastic chairs, prints of fighting dogs and syringes filled with tomato ketchup and Piccalilli. Jennifer – who you will soon ask to marry – suggests rambling egg, curried toe; dapperlings – obviously, and perhaps fried bread. If you refuse – and you must – you will be offered a table at Parsimillion House: a private dining club serving sizzling titles but no taste. Order tap water and heed your father’s advice – only a halfwit pays for the immodest follies of others. Or socks.

A few moments after your roots contract and your neck is set in blue glass pebbles, Jennifer agrees to marry you. The ceremony is brief and the waiting staff familiar. After the last guest leaves, she hands you a beach towel, rips cans from the Sunbeam’s rear spoiler and drives you to the northernmost crater. I have to work, she says and spends the honeymoon flipping derivatives as you sit alone, adjusting your towel and watching the sun settle on the earth’s shoulder like an amber epaulette. Do you feel safe now? She says, appearing over the rim, her face grey as moon dust.

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G. J. Hart has a beard, as he damn well should. He lives in London and argues with himself on twitter, which is not a place. Find more of his stories at www.gjhart.com.

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