The Iron Writer Challenge #38
2013 Iron Writer Winter Solstice Challenge #2
M. D. Pitman, Neal Sayatovich, Paul Arden Lidberg, Steven L. Bergeron
Any George Formby Song
A Jar of Bacon Fat
A Baby’s Smile
He was known as the old man who wore a wool-knit hat, flannel overcoat and bushy grey beard, and pushed a rusty shopping cart filled with junk – but he treasured every piece. No one knew how long the old man lived on the streets (some speculated at least twenty years though it was longer). But he was part of the streetscape of this modest Ohio city.
Most of the homeless were hidden. They were embarrassed, shy or paranoid, or a combination. He wasn’t. He just didn’t care, even when the public treated him like a rodent they’d see in the alley, crossing the street when they saw him, heard his cart, or on windy days, smelled him.
They didn’t know he was a father of twins who regrets every day leaving them weeks after they were born. He can’t remember why after forty years. He’s probably a grandfather or a great-grandfather. But he didn’t know. He wouldn’t know.
As he made his way to the Presbyterian Church for the Sunday dinner served to the homeless he heard crying. A baby’s cry. It came from an alley two blocks from the church.
The cry loudened as he cautiously approached the dumpster.
“Hello? Is anyone here?” The old man’s voice cracked from not speaking much since living on the streets. He searched the alley and was surprised to find no one on a Sunday at dusk.
He grabbed a milk crate from the bottom of his cart and placed it upside down in front of the dumpster. He stepped on the attached cushion and looked inside. On top was a swaddled baby in a black t-shirt with what appeared to be the head of a leviathan showing.
He grabbed the infant – which couldn’t have been more than a few months old – and grasped it with his arthritis-mangled fingers.
He held the child tight as a smile full of memories flashed on his lips. He stepped off the crate and rocked it, but it still cried. Careful with the child, he flipped the crate over and placed it inside. He searched his cart until he found a jar labeled bacon fat.
“Here you go, child,” he whispered as he knelt before the child with a couple flakes of bacon. He placed them in its mouth but that appeased the infant for a moment.
He checked its diaper, but it was dry.
He searched his cart again. He untangled a plastic necklace from his ukulele and began to strum the tiny guitar. The child, now whimpering, stared as he softly sang: “Though plans may often go wrong, let ‘em hear your voice. You’ll find that rhythm and song, make the world rejoice.”
The child smiled. He put the ukulele down and picked up the child: “Make life go with a swing, laugh at trouble and sing. Tra-la-la-la-lala-lala, count your blessing and smile.”
The child giggled and reached to touch the old man’s tired, weathered face. The old man smiled.
The Perfect Shot
“I can’t believe you talked me into this.” Rory grumbled from the passenger seat of the jeep.
“Quit moaning and get out of the car,” James ordered.
Both young men stepped out of the rusted jeep. A soft autumn breeze wafted past them while the sunlight danced across a large pond. On the far side a deer grazed on a large patch of undergrowth. Once the moment of serenity had passed both men walked to the back of the jeep where there were multiple bags haphazardly thrown inside.
Rory set his bag next to the front tire of the jeep. He unzipped the bag and removed a large Nikon camera. James walked out with a portable radio and set it on the hood and hit play. Leaning on a Lamppost by George Fornby. Afterward he carried a second bag and placed it by the pond.
“How do you listen to that crap?” Rory asked.
“You never appreciate the classics do you?” James retorted.
“I guess not, why are we here again?”
“Because, there is a legend of a great sea serpent in this pond. And trust me, with the lack of freelance work we could really use this.”
Rory started fiddling with his crucifix necklace while James dug through his bag. The young man removed a jar of bacon fat and a cake spatula. Without a word he began removing the fat and placing it in the water. Rory could only stare for a few moments in surprise.
“Are you trying to lure out a serpent with bacon fat? Let me guess, you use slim jims for Bigfoot?” Rory mocked.
“Yes, Leviathans love bacon fat and for Bigfoot, McDonalds actually works the best.”
Rory just went back to playing with his necklace while James continued to add the bacon fat. While George Fornby continued to play in the background, Rory considered whether he should continue to be a freelance photographer or not.
A deep growl boomed from the depths of the pond, as if acting as an answer. Before the two of them a large Leviathan emerged from the pond. It’s blue scales reflected the sunlight in bright beams. It’s blood red eyes glared all around the pond in an effort to locate it’s food source.
James stepped back to the jeep and turned off George Fornby. Rory could only stand in awe at the giant serpent, who was staring at the bacon fat floating in the pond. In the moments it loomed over the water like a bad omen, Rory raised his camera. He took a deep breath and pressed the shutter release button. The well known click of the camera signaled that not only was the picture saved, but so was his career.
Paul Arden Lidberg © 2013
He carefully set the empty jar of bacon fat next to the wall, and surveyed his handywork. It’d been full when he’d started, and he felt lucky it had been just enough for the job. Besides, where was he supposed to find that much whale oil? It’s not like it was all that common…
The pattern he’d drawn in bacon fat took up most of the room. Candles were placed at cardinal points around the circle and key intersections. He had to admit – it looked like something from a late, late, late show movie.
However, in his favor, it was the mother of all storms outside, complete with pouring rain and crashing thunder. Universal Studios would be proud. He was just happy the windows didn’t leak down here in the basement.
On a table, he had set up a old record player with a stack of albums. After worrying about how he would be able to recreate the discordant mindless noise and chatter prescribed in the ritual, he’d stumbled into the answer. Literally.
He was at the Goodwill store when he tripped over a stack of old records by someone named “George Formby.” He’d never heard of him, but something said “buy them” so he did. Back home, he put one on to listen, and didn’t get more than 30 seconds before wanting to scream.
Quite by accident, he’d also left his equipment on. The computer automatically assessed the input and found it to be more than adequate for his needs. So a “George Formby” fan he was…at least, for a while.
“I go window cleaning to earn an honest bob.
For a nosey parker it’s an interesting job…”
Wearing only a Speedo, he walked to the center. Assuming the lotus position, he reached for two items left nearby. The necklace he’d received from his grandmother’s estate, and it was the catalyst for this evening. The rubies, the emeralds and the diamonds in the solid gold setting glowed with an inner power. A power he would now use. He put the necklace around his neck. The old woodcut picture of the biblical Leviathan was placed directly in front of him. This was the object of his ritual, this would be his revenge. He began to chant…
“Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Leviathan wgah’nagl fhtagn“
The thunder and lightning increased in intensity as he chanted. The candles began to flicker as a wind started to swirl in the basement. Lightning appeared to be striking inside the house. Then the bacon fat caught fire. It got louder and louder and…
When they finally got it under control, Fire Chief Tompkins relieved two of the crews. It had taken nearly four hours to beat it down, and he knew his men were exhausted. No one had ever seen flames like that in a residential fire, and some thought industrial chemicals must have been stored in the basement.
As the Chief picked his way through the rubble, he was shocked at what they found. In the center of the basement was a dead man wearing a Speedo, apparently crushed by a huge sow.
“The things some people do…”
The sonar detector on the bridge of the sea hawk II registered seven hundred and fifty feet. The vision of my great aunt Rose emerald jewel of the titanic was clearly planted in my mind. Its replica was down there waiting for me to find.
“Well captain do you believe it’s down there.”
“Well Mr Cooper, according to the co-ordinance available to us this is the spot. As long as you can get by Mabel you’ll be all set.”
“Mabel does exist? I figured her as a myth.”
“On contraire unlike her cousin the legendary Nelly she is quite real. She is down there somewhere to guard her territory. Twenty some men had been down there to retrieve the ocean gem none yet to return. To combat her sudden attack you will need a few supplies.”
Half of an hour later I found myself standing on the starboard side in full scuba gear listening to the captain final orders before descending into the frigid Pacific Ocean. The captain handed me a tape recorder and a jar of bacon fat. I looked at him puzzled.
“What do you expect me to do with this?”
“I call it my Mabel repel kit. First you have my special blend of Captain Jack’s bacon fat. Simply pour it over your scuba gear. The aroma itself could repel anything in its path. If for some odd reason if the bacon fat doesn’t work you’ll have George Formby rendition of swim little fish. His voice alone will surely but Mabel into a deep sleep.”
As I plunged in I felt myself descending the thrill itself was unmistakable beyond my dreams. Two hundred….. Five hundred….Seven hundred…. till I felt my feet hitting the sandy bottom. Upon looking around I spotted the sunken remains of a ship resembling the titanic. Of all the places I figured it was there that the necklace was to be found. I entered the shipwreck the beauty of the inside was beyond belief .From hearing the story of her journey on the titanic my great aunt rose’s vision was now mine. I then spotted it in all its beauty the green emerald necklace was still brilliant.
Once I had the necklace in my possession I began to rise till view from above became darker. Looking from behind me I spotted her coming in my direction. I began to laugh from afar Mabel didn’t look so dangerous. Then her presence got closer, more real. I thought my life was about to end. I prayed that the good captain’s antidote would work as I flicked on the recorder. I never heard George Formby sing before and wished I never had thus again the captain was right. No sooner had he begin singing swim little fish did Mabel made an abrupt turn but not before her fins cut my air hose. Soon I found myself gasping for air. I was now another victim as Mabel won defending her treasures.