Running Jump

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What seems to be the trouble? he asks .

I cough and splutter all over the place.

He gets the message.

Sits down to write the certificate.

There, he says , handing the form to me . This should do the trick.

I peruse it quickly.

There’s something missing.

You haven’t written down the illness, I say . Why I had time off.

That’s right. If you had Alzheimer’s or a social disease would you want people to know?

Certainly not.

My point exactly.

But I thought you had to put something down.

No, he says . And if they ask, tell them to take a running jump . Better still, tell them to phone me and I’ll tell them to take a running jump . Only in stronger terms.

He stands up. Shakes my hand.

 

The next day at work I hand in the certificate.

The doc’s right .

They see the blank space but no one says a word.

I push it a bit further.

On the official form, the one you fill out yourself, where it says ‘Illness’ I put down ‘See Certificate’ .

It feels good. It really does .

I’ve found a new way to treat with the world.

Shame

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From a corner of my mind it came

a timid little mouse called Shame

no one suspected no one but I

yet I saw it clearly with its ruby eyes

 

looking all around , urging a retreat

its grey fur twitched , its tiny heart beat

you can’t be seen with her like that —

the thought pounced on me like a black cat

 

& so , it implored me to do as it bid

& though no one knew , to my shame I did

 

  • illustration from Wikimedia Commons

Maria

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But when I go to pay the fine

surprise, surprise, there’s no waiting game.

Someone picks up straight away.

The voice is chirpy like a canary.

It’s like a change swept through the place

I tell the lady.

I tell Maria.

She even has a name.

People always quick to take your money, I say.

She even chuckles.

I don’t know if it’s put on or genuine

You take what you can get.

The lines to the other sections I say, the ones

asking for extensions, leniency,

were always clogged with callers

And when you finally got through

a graveyard voice answered. like Lurch from ‘The Adams Family’.

She chuckles again.

She brings out my inner stand-up.

But your line, I say,  lit up like a Xmas tree.

She glows,  gives me the receipt number.

She’s still chirpy, wishing me a good weekend.

I feel light as a glider. The fine is off my chest.

 

 

Doll

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You are a skilled carpenter. You whittle me away with your chisel voice to the shape you want, my failings, and infidelities, my rough edges, lie as so many shavings upon the ground. You pick me up and peer at me. I hope you are pleased. Now I sit upon my tiny chair like a ventriloquist doll waiting for you to jiggle my limbs and speak for me like Aunty did for Uncle Bert after he had his stroke when we were kids and sat with us stiff and vacant for afternoon tea.

My Three Ex’s

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It all began a few years ago while waiting in a long queue at the ANZ Bank.

A well-dressed employee would come up to us randomly and thank us for our patience.

I’d say, at the flick of a switch, “I’m a patient man. Just ask my three ex-wives”.

I don’t know where that came from but he chuckled and I chuckled. It was a good line.

Then one day there was a bit of a queue at the library — a glitch in the system or something — and I thought as a spot of entertainment I’d add to the line. I had it all worked out.

I ended up with a relatively new staff member, a sour-faced woman who I’d only met once before, but I wasn’t going to be put off. It was my time.

“Thanks for your patience,” she said blankly’

“That’s okay,” I said. I think she knew what was coming. “I’m a patient man. Just ask my three ex-wives” then I added the new bit, “But you don’t want to listen to them, They’re biased.”

Then she looked me in the face. “Don’t you think, “ she said, “if all three said it independently, there may be some truth in it? You should go away and have a ponder”.

She saw to my request and I went off to have a ponder, unsure who was having who on.”