QUIZ NIGHT – FLASHFICTION

2 Feb

 

 

Tires splashed through puddles, water spraying the windscreen as the once pristine Ford came to a gravel-sliding stop. The rain beat off the roof, wipers protesting their last before the key was disengaged. A brume of heavy metal infused cigarette smoke escaped from the plinking car as Trevor opened the door and crunched towards the pub.

The Three Cups; the last bastion of civilized village society. Cheap cheer and a warm fireside welcome to the recently unemployed of the local engine factory – the major employer in the area. The warming of relations between cold war antagonists meant that regiments in Germany no longer required tanks to withstand the threat of communist menace. No enemy meant no tanks, no tanks no engine factory, no engine factory – no bloody work.

Trevor had looked for other work – done a bit here and there. A spot of wall papering, gardening, fixing cars for family members, nothing with any substance. He knew there were only two options if he was ever to rejoin the ranks of the employed. Go back to school, or move..

What was it the bleeding  politicians had said, “Get on your bike”… all very well, but where the hell was he going to cycle to?

The first couple of months living on severance had been idyllic. Of course he had done the sensible thing, booking himself a two week vacation to the Costa Brava. Better to be pissed-off and miserable in Spain than suicidal in rain-washed Yorkshire. The senoritas and sangria had seriously dented his resources, causing deep-seeded desperation to set in. It wasn’t the trip he regretted, rather the fact that it was six months since he had seen the sun. Luckily he’d met Linda.

Although alcohol induced, the sight of her stood at the end of the bar in her flower print dress and cherry gold earrings had been enough to get his motor running. Not the prettiest but she was warm and considerate – the sheet-side sympathy she’d shown him on her days off, more than making up for her failings. For a big girl she was pretty limber, the way she smelt on rain soaked mornings, delicious. Better a couple of extra hours in bed with her than queuing with the human flotsam down at the labor exchange. There were other advantages too besides her voluptuous bosom and her ample spandex encased derriere; Linda worked behind the bar at The Three Cups.

****

Bill had done what he could to revive flagging village life. Since the factory closure he’d noticed the disappearance of the smiling faces propped against his bar. People were still drinking; it’s just that they looked so bloody miserable while they were doing it. He’d racked his brains, pondered his failing business – how to rescue it from Titanicesque disaster?

He’d taken a shilling off a pint however cheap booze only went so far. After a couple of days of euphoric disorder and a cash-filled register, enthusiasm had waned. The dance on the other hand had been quite the success – the bump and grind of the Friday night disco. Its popularity probably accounted for the upsurge in perambulators one was seeing around the village these days – that and the cheap beer of course.

Thursday’s talent night was nothing much to write home, quickly turning into a couple of die-hards at the karaoke machine. An open mic and a willing audience always attracted the dross. Casio heaven for bedroom bound composers, guitared mayhem from closet rock stars. Fortunately it had soon withered and died.

He had quickly replaced it with live music evenings – invited bands and singers playing for semi interested drunks. Enthusiastic amateurs filling the ears of the already depressed with the dirge of folk music. Songs about mine closure, the power of the unions, a socialist utopia brought about through cheap beer and overtime, all treated with equal disdain.

Luckily quiz night had been a hit. A full pub with full glasses – an animated public engaged in genuine social intercourse.

****

Linda was in charge of preparing the questions, using the old school text books that lay around the house. Twenty hard hitting facts categorized as history, geography, sport, and general stuff. The pub would sit in reverence while questions were asked, coming alive as the whispered excitement of known answers and drawn blanks were mumbled into pints of bitter. The question would be repeated with the usual admonishments from Bill.

“No copying now, all your own work lads and lasses.” The stakes were high; the prize was fifty pounds to the winner.

Trevor had found the questions in the bedside drawer alongside the extra batteries and the oil she liked to use – carefully typed and double spaced. That first Thursday had been fantastic, the moment he had been given the fifty pounds electric, he had never earned money so easily. After the first three weeks of straight wins he decided to play it cool, not everybody knew he was doing the boudoir shuffle with Linda – in a small village things soon got out.

With more than a hundred pound in winnings pocketed over the last couple of months he was optimistic as he pushed open the door to the pub.

“When you’re ready ladies and gents, your first question.”

He scribbled down the memorized answer; too easy when forewarned.

“Who was…?”

Again his pencil coursed across the page.

After twenty questions the papers were collected and given up for marking. The juke- box kicked into life, eager customers stampeded the bar.

Once again the microphone crackled, and Bill addressed the dearly beloved.

“So here are the results from the German jury.” Old joke, but it always got a laugh.

“In third…” followed by applause.

“In second…”  – “Well done luv, you brainy git!”

“And in first place…”

Trevor lost interest the second his name wasn’t mentioned. He had copied the questions, learnt them by heart, practiced that afternoon in the café. He knew his answers were correct. Paris was the capital of Germany, the rain in Spain falls mainly in Milan, and Oscar Wilde was the butchest man in England!

“Fuck it!”

He watched the lucky recipient walk to the bar to collect his winnings before disinterestedly sticking his nose back into his glass. His attention momentarily diverted from the knowing look and clasped hug that Linda gave to the winner. A young handsome lad from out of town with one of those things you couldn’t get for love or money… a job. Clearly Linda had seized upon an opportunity and put her womanly wiles to good use.

Any port in a storm, and something about opportunity only knocking once?

Trevor finished his pint, put down his glass and made for the door. Maybe next week he would have more luck?  He’d have a word with Linda.

 

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5 Responses to “QUIZ NIGHT – FLASHFICTION”

  1. Sean Patrick Reardon February 3, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    Just had to let you know that “Chopper John” was awsome. Took me back to the days of listening to CBS Mystery theatre as a kid, although E.G Marshall nevr did anything like that.

  2. John Wiswell February 3, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

    Another good drive. Particularly enjoyed how you rattle off details, like the Ford brand name, Milan and Wilde.

    Possible typographical issue – 7th-from-final paragraph is two consecutive quotations. Could be bridged with an action or split into two paragraphs to flow with the stream of talking there.

    • Colin James I-10 Blog February 3, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

      Good eye John….must have been on my fourth case of beer by that one!
      Thanks for dropping in.
      Cheers.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Tweets that mention QUIZ NIGHT – FLASHFICTION « I-10 Blog -- Topsy.com - February 4, 2011

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by colin and colin, colin. colin said: Heads down, pencils ready, it's Quiz Night! Flashfiction from the FlashBastard http://bit.ly/eNKVh2 #fridayflash […]

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