Tuesday, 22 November 2011

A quick one while he's away

Hello. I know, it's been a while. I've been busy. 53,418 words of busy so far. I've not actually finished the novel yet, so I still have that to deal with. But I took a break to write a 500-word bit of flash fiction. I'm just a giver, aren't I? Enjoy:

The Ballad of Dyspeptic Willie Madison

Dyspeptic Willie Madison was born under a bad sign. It read, “Ten Items or Less.” His unusual birthplace was down to his mother’s desire to get a year’s supply of baby supplies by giving birth in the supermarket. Tesco lived up to their promise, but his mother was less than happy. She’d been planning to visit Waitrose later that same day.

She didn’t give him that name, of course. That came from his time as the king of the bluesmen. After all, no-one in the delta would have taken him seriously with the name Craig Biggins. Apparently, according to the Blues Academy, your handle had to include a physical infirmity and refer to at least one US President. Dyspepsia was simply the next on the list. At least he wasn’t Syphilitic Bubba Washington.

His fame came easily enough. He had the blues and wanted people to know about them. He had a ready-made audience, hungry to hear what he had to say. A poet for the disaffected generation, Willie sang out loud and clear about the human condition. His first single, “Milk Carton Blues,” spoke of the frustrations of modern life.

Before too long, anyone who knew anything was name-checking Dyspeptic Willie Madison. His fame was rapidly followed by fortune. The houses, the cars. Life was good. Until the day he received a visitor.

“I am the Blues Angel,” said the mysterious stranger. “My name is unimportant, although you can refer to me as Hooch.”

“Hooch?” said Madison, reaching for the next bottle of Bollinger.

“You can blame Muddy Waters. Now then, Madison, I’ve come to talk to you about your life.”

“Things are going great, Hooch. Look, I’ve got everything I need.”

“Yes. You see, that’s the problem. You’re meant to be a bluesman. Your life is meant to be one long struggle. You get the blues, it runs your life, man. Your woman should do you wrong. The boss should be on your hide every day. Look at you – it just ain’t right.”

“What do you mean?”

“Robert Johnson fought a long battle with his demons,” he said, his lip curling with disgust. “The only conflict you have is with the Planning Committee of Solihull Borough Council.”

“But they won’t let me build an orangery.”

“Enough of this. If you want to sing the blues, you need to feel some loss. I’m here to make things right.”

“But how?” asked Madison, his eyes widening.

“Just you leave it to me.” The angel clicked his long fingers.

The crystal flute of champagne dissolved from Madison’s fingers. As he stared, his designer clothes were replaced by beat-up denim. With a loud rumble, the walls around him started to crumble and fall. In seconds, there was nothing but expensive-looking rubble. Moments later, even this had faded away.

“You weren’t kidding,” said Madison.“I ain’t finished yet,” said the angel, pushing an old guitar into his hands. “Right,” he said. “Now you’ve really got the blues. Don’t you ever forget it.”

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