Welcome to the two hundred and seventy-ninth in this series that is ‘5pm Fiction’.
Late April 2011 I discovered 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 have since published (as eBooks) the 2012 and 2013 collections, detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories/story-a-day-may.
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 from the one-word prompt of ‘speculate’. Here is my 525-worder.
Just Enough To Say I’m Here
Gerald screwed up his slip and threw it on the table, pulling a face at Ted behind his back.
Ted turned round and Gerald quickly changed his expression to a smile, albeit a fake one. “How many is that now?”
“Four. Just need another two and it’s three grand, thank you very much.”
Gerald puckered his lips and blew out a quiet raspberry. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen three thousand pounds in any form; on his bank statement, let alone winnings, but then he didn’t bet in the quantities Ted put on. Annie wouldn’t let him, especially since he’d retired. They didn’t have that sort of cash to “throw away”, as she called it.
“You should stick with my recommendations, Gerry,” Ted added, pulling out a pack of cigarettes from an inside pocket and walking towards the front door.
Gerald had tried that in the past but then they’d both lost and Ted had blamed him, calling him his ‘unlucky tonne’. They’d fallen out for a while after that but then Ted had phoned him, asking him out again, as if nothing had happened.
Gerald wasn’t sure why he was even there. Ted didn’t need him, he knew everyone in the betting shop on first name terms. Gerald thought it was the masochistic streak in his… he couldn’t even call him a friend. His co-patriot, conspirator. Whatever it was, Ted clearly wanted him there to show him off, belittle at time, conscious or otherwise.
Gerald watched Ted through the shop window, puffing away on the little white stick that used to bring Gerald such pleasure but now disgusted him; the smell, the expenses, the alienation since the Smoking Ban had come in. But Ted wasn’t alienated, there were more people out there with him than inside with Gerald, not that they were ‘with’ Gerald. No one paid him any attention, no one other than Ted had spoken to him the whole time he was there. They’d probably not even noticed he was there. They’d probably not even noticed he was back, or had been away; the little grey man that no one sees.
Colour, Gerald thought. I need to start wearing some colour, get Annie to dig out my holiday clothes. Nothing too loud, just enough to say I’m here.
Flicking through the Racing Post, Gerald reached the next race, the three o’clock, and looked down at the list of horses, riders and trainers. He’d followed Ted’s form long enough to know what he’d pick and knew he should do the same, but something told him that today wasn’t going to be his lucky day, whatever he did.
But then he realised it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered other than being happy and he wasn’t happy, not here. He was happy at home with Annie. Anywhere with Annie. So yes, he’d ask her to dig out his holiday clothes, give them an airing, then pack them, take her away somewhere, and stop being the little grey man that no one but Annie sees.
Photograph above courtesy of morguefile.com.
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