14 comments

Funny Fiction Black

“Any more words of wisdom?”

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

“You come up with that, yourself?”

“It’s Shakespeare.”

“When have you read any Shakespeare?”

“It says it on this small piece of paper, quoting Shakespeare.”

“I thought you only read stuff when it’s got pictures in it.”

“I’ll have you know that we are living in the new age of literary enlightenment.”

“What, reading comics?”

“They’re starting to be referred to as graphic novels, now.”

“More commonly known as children’s books.”

“They come with a rating, Tom. So, they ain’t for kids. Anyways, I only read the ones with Parental Advisory ratings.”

“And what did they say?”

“Who?”

“Your parents.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Stick to looking at the pictures, Eric.”

“They’ve got words in them, too.”

“What, like See Jane, see Jane’s dog, Spot. See Spot run?”

“More adult than that, Tom.”

“Like, See Spot shit?”

“That’s not adult.”

“Give me an example, then.”

“Well, the one I’m currently reading is about this bloke that has twenty-four hours to kill one of the world’s most famous villains, Doctor Octopus.”

“I rest my case… Now, can we please tackle my problem?”

Tom Daly and Eric Watkins – friends since boyhood, sat opposite each other in Cookie’s Cantonese Canteen tucked into a nook along a small Soho alleyway in London. Recently released from prison for a botched bank heist that Eric had incompetently planned, Tom had arranged a meeting with his hapless chum to discuss a serious matter needing a delicate understanding and guidance with. Void of anyone he considered a trusted confidante, Tom’s desperation led him to invite Eric for a Chinese to get a second opinion.

“Look mate,” Eric offered some words of wisdom. “One bad chapter doesn’t mean your story’s over.”

“Where’d you get that from?”

“Inside one of these fortune cookies our waiter left on the plate with the bill. You need guidance, so I thought that message fits the moment.”

“I was hoping for something a bit more inspiring from you.”

“It’s me, Tom. Eric, remember? This is what you get.”

“Well, this bad chapter is turning into a book, Eric. Ever since the stag night when I bumped into my supposed future in-laws for the first time, wearing glittered eyebrows and an inflatable penis strapped to my waist.”

“Yeah, that was a pretty good stag party. Funny bumping into them, weren’t it.”

“If you recall, they were having dinner in their hotel restaurant. The same hotel you booked me, you, and the rest of the groomsmen into the night before the wedding.”

“Pure coincidence, mate.”

“Coincidence is not something that is normally associated with you… mate. This was a pure Eric Watkins fuck-up.”

“I didn’t know they were there when we shoved you through the restaurant door, then ran off. We thought it would be a laugh.”

“Who’s we, Eric?”

“Well, me. The other two were just muscle. I was the brains.”

“You handcuffed my hands to a leather garter with my pants around my ankles.”

“I did wonder why Deb’s step-mum kept winking at you at the registry office… and the reception… and why she insisted on dancing with you all night… clutching your bum.”

“It took all my strength to peel her off me.”

“You must have made a good impression, though.”

“She kept asking was there anything she could blow up for me.”

“Like what? Oh, you don’t mean…”

“The inflatable, yes.”

“Hungry little minx, in’t she. Not a bad looker for her age, as well.”

“Eric,” Tom’s voice pitched into the approach of a rhetorical question. “Who was it that introduced me to my fleeting bride?”

“I did, Tom.”

“How did you come to know her?”

“Smelly Steve.”

“The pimp?”

“I’ll ‘ave you know he’s one of Soho’s few legitimate businessmen.”

“Do you know how Steve got his nickname?”

“Cause, he smells?”

“Cause someone else once told him he did, so Steve slashed off the tip of their nose, then asked them to repeat what they said.”

“What did they say?”

Tom paused, allowing Eric to visualise the story. Seeing how Eric had lost focus on the matter at hand, Tom attempted to steer him back on track.

“Never mind… So, Deb was a…”

“What’s Deb doin’ in that story…? Oh, he said nothing, in case he lost a bit more of his honker. I get it. Yes, Deb was a lady of leisure.”

“You hooked me up with a Prozzie that tricked me into marrying her, saying she was up the duff with my kid, because she thought I had a hidden stash of cash and gold from that idiotic bank holiday failure?”

“Well mate, pardon me for being Cupid. Cause, on that first night, you both looked like you was getting on like a house on fire.”

“A house that she eventually lit the match to, leaving me sleeping upstairs unawares.”

“Lucky, I came ‘round early that morning.”

“Yes. By the way, you never told me how you got in?”

“I had a key.”

“You had a key to my house?”

“Yeah, well, while you was banged up, I used to sleep there.”

“You what!?”

“Hold on for a sec. I wasn’t dossing. As payment, I kept it clean and tidy. Put the fire out, didn’t I.”

“Yes, I do thank you for that. You know, from the off, it was like she knew me inside out. Why do you think that was, Eric?”

“I might ‘ave let her in on your personality traits. She was very insistent on getting to know you better.”

“Yes, and she also knew that my upbringing would do the right thing by her, if she told me I was going to be a dad.”

“And you did, mate. I was there the night of the supposed conception.”

“With her stand-in parents - in the next room.”

“She said they had to come along as chaperones.”

“To listen to us in the bedroom?”

“They brought ear plugs, custard creams, and some polite conversation. I had to talk loud for them to hear me – which was a good thing, because you two were making a hell of a noise.”

“Did I tell you that I found out that Roger wasn’t her real dad?”

“That explains the skin tone difference, dunnit.”

“Apparently, her mum left her dad, then her dad hooked up with Deb’s future stepmother, who then dumped him after a month. So then, she takes in Roger the Lodger, who paid the rent without any cash exchanging hands – if you know what I mean.”

“Nod’s as good as a wink, mate.”

“To a blind bat, yes. That meant the whole wedding witness signing palaver was all a sham. They weren’t her real parents.”

“No wonder Deb’s step-mum was all over you at the wedding. I think she was sizing you up as Roger’s younger replacement.”

“Well, she certainly got her measuring tape out. She was like Squiddly Diddly but with more tentacles.”

“Yeah, we was all watching what she was doing to you on the dance floor, and taking bets if she was going to go in on a full-frontal assault.”

“Where were the real parents?”

“Smelly Steve said that her dad moved back to Ireland, and her mum ran off with a Lithuanian sailor who built his own two-person submarine. Steve said, as an attempt at entering the Guinness Book of World Records, they set sail one morning to cross the English Channel underwater and were never heard from again.”

“What happened?”

“The boat sank.”

“Submarines do that, Eric.”

“Yeah, but this one never resurfaced.”

“Oh.”

“I hope they’ve got enough air to last until rescue.”

“Rescue? When did this happen?”

“Three weeks ago.”

“You Pillock! They wouldn’t have had three weeks’ worth of air in a small thing like that.”

“No. But apparently – when interviewed by the BBC while standing on the cliffs of Dover, Deb’s real dad said her mum had enough hot air in her to last a lifetime… He then threw a commemorative wreath over the cliff, reciting some bible verse about casting their sins into the depths of the sea below.”

“Move on, Eric. What about my dilemma?”

“Pardon my insensitivity, mate, but I think Deb’s mum’s dilemma is much more serious.”

Tom leaned forward, beckoning Eric to come closer – like he wanted a quiet clandestine word in his ear. Then, without warning, Tom’s own right hand crossed the table dividing them and slapped Eric to attention, snapping him back into focus.

“What was that for?”

“For getting that added time put onto my sentence by stupidly sending me a postcard of the prison from the outside with an arrow drawn on it, pointing at my cell window - causing the screws to think I was planning an escape.”

“But you already slapped me for that.”

“Then that was for being just plain fucking stupid.”

“Oh, fair enough. You know, mate. I sometimes think our relationship is a bit like this leftover sweet and sour pork on the table.”

“Yeah, how’s that?”

“Well, I’m the sweet one and you’re definitely the sour one.”

“Do you blame me, Eric? The blunders I’ve followed you into beggars belief.”

“It says here in this extra fortune cookie that, When you can’t find the sunshine, be the sunshine.”

“What’s your point?”

“Well, Tom. It means that you’re a grumpy git.”

“Yeah, well you would be too, if you had my problem.”

“We’ve been sitting here for three quarters of an hour, drinking beer, eating fried rice, moo-shoo pork, sweet and sour pork, spring rolls, and you still haven’t told me what is going on with you.”

“I’ve got an itch.”

“What kind of itch?”

“The kind of itch that sticks to your pubes.”

“You mean…”

“Yeah, Deb.”

“Well, that’s a long-term problem from a short-term marriage.”

“We weren’t really married.”

“How do you know?”

“I found out that the registrar was just a bouncer on Smelly Steve’s payroll.”

“Crafty little… but a good actor, all the same.”

“Yeah. Someone blabbed about some non-existent buried treasure from the bank heist. Who could that have been, Eric?”

“I may have told a little white lie to gain favour.”

“What favour did you require from a pimp? No, don’t answer that.”

A sudden realisation flashed into Tom’s head, causing him to probe further.

“On second thought, do answer that. Who specifically, did you get favour with?”

Eric flashed a nervous smile at his friend, then quickly downed a sweet and sour ball of pork.

“Erm, I can tell you how not to get rid of ‘em.”

“Rid of what? Oh no. You and…”

“Don’t get upset at me, Tom. It was before you met her.”

“How long before?”

“A few days.”

“Oh, that’s alright, then. I thought you were going to say, A FEW FUCKING DAYS?”

“That’s how I knew she’d be fun for you when you got out.”

“You let me go ahead and get married to someone you boinked a few days before you introduced me to her?”

“You seemed happy.”

“I hadn’t had a woman in nearly two years. I’d have been happy humping a stuffed toy!”

“I didn’t want to spoil it for you.”

“And the crabs were what? A wedding present?”

She gave them to me, Tom. In fact, I think she gave them to most of the wedding guests on her side of the room.”

“That’s at least eight people!”

“Plus, Smelly Steve.”

“And when were you going to tell me all of this?”

“It slipped my mind.”

“Do you want another slap?”

“I’m sorry, okay?”

“Fuck! I need a solution. How do I get rid of my…”

“Pubic lice? Well, don’t rub toothpaste down there. It fucking burns.”

“Why did you use toothpaste?”

“It had peppermint in it, and I read that peppermint suffocates them. Nearly suffocated my todger, as well.”

“So,” Tom slowly and deliberately asked. “How.. did.. you.. end.. up.. getting.. rid.. of.. them?”

“Easy! I shaved all me hair off, took a bath, then rubbed calamine lotion over the area. I then took all my clothes to the launderette and washed them thoroughly.”

“And that’s what you recommend?”

“It worked for me.”

“What did you use to shave with?”

“I broke into Paddy the Turk’s barber shop and borrowed his electric shears.”

“Borrowed?”

“Yeah, I put them back. I mean, Paddy’s been cutting my hair for years, so it was out of respect that I returned them. In hindsight, I reckon’ that if you broke into the local chemist and nicked a bottle of that hair removal stuff… Nair, it’s called. That should do the job.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. I read that you just dab it on, let it set, then pull it off quickly like a plaster on a cut finger that’s healed.”

As Tom contemplated Eric’s seemingly experienced advice, Eric hungrily eyed up the leftovers on the table.

“Are you gonna’ eat that last sweet and sour piece?”

“Nah, mate. Help yourself. Least I can do for your advice. You might as well have my fortune cookie, too.”

“Ta, geezer!”

Eric washed down the cookie with the remains of his beer, then read the small piece of paper extracted from the inside of the tasty treat.

“That’s a good one.”

“What’s it say?”

You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

“Got that right, don’t it, Eric.”

“Yeah, mate. I’ve always thought that about meself…”

 

November 02, 2023 04:07

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

14 comments

Shirley Medhurst
17:23 Nov 08, 2023

Had a great laugh reading this, Chris 😂😂😂 Especially loved all the realistic and lively dialogue between the two “mates” (….if you can call them that… 😬)

Reply

Chris Campbell
00:59 Nov 09, 2023

Thanks, Shirley. Glad to have made you laugh.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Hazel Ide
14:09 Nov 08, 2023

Really fun putting their voices and intonations in my head with all that dialogue.

Reply

Chris Campbell
01:05 Nov 09, 2023

Thanks, Hazel. Glad the accents came through.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Michał Przywara
23:03 Nov 07, 2023

Ha! These two again :) Feels like they need their own TV show or something. It's a real friendship though. There's a lot of genuine well-meaning - even if the execution is half-arsed - but the heart is there. I think this kind of recap format works for them too, as we see a very mundane situation which quickly grows in scope and screw-up, as we learn more of the history. Very funny :)

Reply

Chris Campbell
00:09 Nov 08, 2023

Thanks, Michal. As much as Tom regards Eric a challenge to his sanity, I think he wallows in the loyalty presented to him. A TV show could very well work for these two, but it would need a bit more substance than Dumb and Dumber, for beneath the screw-ups, there is true friendship. As always, your great feedback is always appreciated.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Nina H
00:01 Nov 04, 2023

Lol!! Where to even start 😂 these two and their problems are hilarious! Thanks for the laugh, Chris!

Reply

Chris Campbell
01:37 Nov 04, 2023

Thanks, Nina. In case you missed the first two episodes of Tom and Eric, here are the links: "May Day" https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/t9xlck/ "Early Release" https://blog.reedsy.com/short-story/ul5omg/

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Michelle Oliver
14:31 Nov 03, 2023

Haha, fortune cookie wisdom for the two characters. Love them and their antics. I expect to see all their tales in an anthology one day.

Reply

Chris Campbell
01:38 Nov 04, 2023

Thanks, Michelle. They will return.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Mary Bendickson
18:35 Nov 02, 2023

Resurrected these characters. They never do quit. Thanks for liking my 'Run Forest Run ' story.

Reply

Chris Campbell
22:52 Nov 02, 2023

Thanks, Mary. Tom and Eric roll on.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Amanda Lieser
19:02 Jan 08, 2024

Hi Chris! Always glad to visit with old…”crazies”. They remain funny, astute, and full of history. That, I think, is one of the best testaments to friendship-when “you had to be there.” In so many ways, we as the readers have been there. I admit I had to take a pause after that Smelly Steve story. What a terrifying and vivid picture. Nice work with this one, Chris. I’m dying to see where they end up next.

Reply

Chris Campbell
00:42 Jan 09, 2024

Thanks, Amanda. These two are developing a bit of a co-dependent relationship. I think Tom is destined to fall for Eric's wild schemes, then quickly regret his decisions to go along with them. The two misfits will be back this week. I'm currently polishing the story.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply