Welcome to the one hundred and forty-seventh in this daily series that is ‘5pm Fiction’.
Late April 2011 I discovered http://StoryADay.org and the project that is to write 31 stories in 31 days. Anyone who knows me or follows this blog, knows how passionate I am about short stories so my clichéd eyes lit up at this new marvel. And just a few days later there I was, breathing life into new characters. This went on to become (with some editing of course) my 31-story collection eBook Story A Day May 2011.
I was nearing completion of the 2012 project when I decided that I didn’t want to stop at the end of May so 5PM Fiction was born. I put a load of prompts on the 5PM Fiction page and today’s was to write a story with a mixed bag: village hall, clown, 1970s, war, shy, so here is my 354-worder.
Scream like a girl
John Talbot was not usually shy. His job made him outgoing but as soon as he walked into the 1970s village hall, his heart raced. She’d not seen him, he was sure of that, and when she did, he knew she wouldn’t recognise him, not without his costume… without the mad multi-coloured wig, the red nose and ‘war paint’ as his mother Mildred used to call it; the white, black and red that was supposed to look humorous, make the children laugh.
For all the years he’d been an entertainer, nearly thirty, he’d always had mixed reactions. The majority loved him, but there had been one or two at every venue that had gone crying to their mothers. Mothers who’d whisked them away to play with balloons or eat yet more cake and ice cream, but not before they’d glared in John’s direction as if it was his fault he was there, not the parent who’d booked him for their spoilt brat’s birthday.
He went to the bar and ordered a whisky. He’d had a few of those in his time but tonight he’d just have the one… seeing as he was driving.
He stared in her direction, not at her, not obvious. John was an expert at how to look in a crowded room, only he usually had make-up to hide behind.
It was the black kid’s birthday he remembered her from. The sister of one of the mother’s, there to help make up the grown-up numbers, although compared with John she’d hardly have been called a grown up. John figured she’d have been late teens, early twenties, less than half his age, and tall. He liked tall. Anyone approaching six feet was a bonus. And that smile, he remembered that smile.
Someone behind him coughed but John ignored it and took a swig of his whisky, then shuddered as it ran down his throat. The person behind him coughed again and said John’s name.
John spun round, expecting to see someone he knew but instead saw his clown costume staring back at him.
He dropped his glass and screamed like a girl.
The 5pm Fiction slot will be taking a break (after no.150) for November and December as I’ll be embarking on my fifth NaNoWriMo. Do join me if you’re taking part too. Then I’ll have December off to upload other stuff and perhaps start editing that novel. No.151 will be back in 1st January (or thereabouts).
Photography courtesy of morguefile.com. You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books and I also have a blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.
Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.