BY MAT WOOLFENDEN
My wife and I, we have everything we need in our attic flat: a bathroom, a bedroom, bed, telephone for the takeaway and a cat. That morning Raffles returned with a swollen cheek. I knew the culprit was our neighbour at the back, it was his bee hive in that garden. Already I had studied the pensioner for a good couple of weeks. Something about his stoop, the creepy smile spread above his chin; a face that spelled retired war-criminal, or a school teacher, to my mind. I did not trust him at all. I had watched his shuffle. He had carried the mis-directed post in his arms, brought it to our front door, all the way down those stairs. Yes. Saliva clung to his denture’s plate.
‘Thank you,’ I think I said, that one time in my pants.
His garden, their garden: well, you people look for yourselves, over the fence, even back then everything appeared too perfect: rose bushes lined the borders by a swing for tiny children trees, real fruit on those branches. The white wooden box, the bee house sat atop of its frame, a mere fifty yards from my bathroom sky light. I owned a .22 air rifle, and perched upon the lavatory seat, I exacted my revenge, call it a natural justice with the pellets. Or a ‘restitution fuzzballs,’ like I said it to them all.
For your information, I am an enthusiast with the rifle, collect three varieties of the ammunition: spiked tipped, the traditional dumdum greys; the others with the pretty directional feathers for a long distance kill. But collateral or not, it had been the most satisfying of mornings shooting bugs, like our hypermarket drive the Tuesday before really; a matter of stopping distance, but in military terms. One shot dropped a single bee. I shall never be, heh heh, exactly sure of the individual miscreant as regards the pussycat’s face, but my sights were upon each and every one of them, determined, as I was, to maintain civilian order. You fuck with my cats; rather,
‘whilst my felines are disturbed, I shall man the sniper’s perch,’ I cried, and waved my fist from our loft extension.
After a couple of beers, and a sandwich, I recounted the bee business to my wife. She was vague with a magazine in hand and a duvet to spine, though finally roused, appeared more interested in my memoirs on the laptop. I am a writer, you see.
‘Pervert,’ she called me, ‘your fantasies over giant women, they are revolting.’
She said all this, my little wife who spoke.
‘The bees,’ I said, and then more conciliatory: ‘Cakemix, how can you say such a thing? No, the Gaia Slut Giant to whom you refer, she is a fictitious being. Shall I write another story tomorrow, my love, call it the Dynamo Dwarf Sexual Subservient, in a tribute to your stature? Don’t worry your pretty… head, I am writing it now.’
She said nothing more to me, but just to be sure, I swung the boot, ‘She will be blonde, like you are,’ I said, ‘at the moment.’ Heh,heh.
I kissed her, flicked to the YouTube in our bedroom paradise for reassurance from Metallica. Still, thinking about it all, she drove me into a new horrible mood with her filthy talk about my giants. I was a woman-altered beast once again, and resorted to picking at the special fingernail, rubbed this stubble on my face. My eyes poked between these fingers before you now, yes. The bed top became like a raft, my despair, rest home of the mis-underated male. Surely, surely all X-factor type opportunities were lost to me.
I sat-up, looked through the window at the front. The sky dripped white and the seagulls taunted me with their musical song of happiness.
‘Fetch the air rifle,’ I said, ‘I’ll show the parasites who is the Daddy in Brighton and Hove.
‘One shot,’ I said.
My black shadow inspired suburbia. I cried ‘death to the gulls’ out of the front window, fired that first shot, and listened to the deafening silence. The pellet ricocheted from the lamp post. Smoke whispered from my muzzle. I re-cocked, squeezed and the seagull crashed, dead in the road.
I fingered my piece, my delicate curl, a digit on cold metal, ‘another one bites the dust,’ I commanded an excellent regime. ‘Look honey, seagull corpses spread across your bonnet.’ I told her, ‘do me a favour, go clear them up.’
‘You killed them, you go outside,’ said my wife. ‘Anyway, too late my lover, there is a policeman, looks like he is doing it all for you.’
‘Where is he? I shall put on some trousers.’ I said. ‘Watch this.’ Again I drew back the sheet at the window. ‘YOU WON’T GET ME COPPER!’ I cried.
My voice wiped every smile off all of their faces, yet even with the trousers on I needed to slash. The sound in my ears rang an emergency tingle,
‘an ambulance for the bees?’ I said and handed my rifle to my assistant wife, stepped manfully through to the lavatory. I saw the bug. He crawled around the white porcelain. I maintained a steady stream, and pissed him to death, but with his screams a pair buzzed through the high window. I staggered off guard, and then swiped wildly with the arms. The trajectory of the bees climbed to the rafter, they gained height. I stared but was blinded by the sunlight and crashed back into the sanctuary. More bees buzzed through the frame. There were a dozen bees in our bunker. We maintained control of the situation.
‘The spray’ I screamed.
There were many matters to resolve: two policemen by the bonnets. One lifted the seagull, flapped a limp wing, confirmed the casualty.
‘This is our revolution, soldier,’ I said, smiled to my confederate woman, ’bring me the cutlery drawer, a newspaper, barricade the bedroom with your shoes. And stick on my Johnny Cash.’
* * *
Son of a computer technician, Mat was raised in the Netherlands, Iran, North Devon, married in Walthamstow and retired to Brighton at the age of 42. He may be an acquired taste, an eccentric voice, yet Matthew perseveres in prose. He seeks to establish himself
a network for the narrations with which he made his debut back at the Brighton Arts Club. This Fringe festival event 2014 explored female sexuality, and that night, spotlit, Mat read them his ‘Red Hot, The Lady Electric, A Midnight Collection’. Much encouraged by his survival, he hopes to continue in a similar vein and is completely excited by his discovery of a vibrant writing scene with a difference here at Open Pen. To date, Mat is published in Hobo Pancakes, USA and Wasafiri. He drafts, larks about at http://www.drysailorboy.wordpress.com where invitations for storytelling and chat are always welcome.