Joe woke up and thought, hey it’s Wednesday. No, stroke that out, you were told last week you can’t start like that. Try again!
Joe’s weary, bleary, bloodshot eyes, staring back at him from the bathroom mirror, told of another gin sodden evening with him falling asleep on the couch yet again, snoring and dribbling, while his wife, Susan, crept off to her lonely bed!
And there lay the problem, had it really happened?
John Henry (aka firstname.lastname@example.org) was part of The Torrevieja Writers’ Circle which meets every Wednesday morning in the Olympic Restaurant, Mil Palmeras, just South of Torrevieja in Spain. That information is included in case an editor somewhere sees this, spots the raw talent, and wishes to commission a full length feature film or, better still, just send money, by way of appreciation.
Members of the circle are encouraged to read out pieces they have written and are rewarded by the critical acclaim and constructive comments of their colleagues, or sometimes get torn to pieces. In fact some of the members can be quite cruel.
John had been reading out a series of short articles, known in the group as “The Joe Stories,” which he’d written based on things that had either happened to him or someone he knew and were completely true, other things that were nearly true but substantially enhanced and some pieces of pure fiction. But he’d noticed that some members of the group were looking at him in a slightly odd way. How much was story and how much was him? He was sure that’s what they were asking. Fact and fiction were becoming blurred and after reading one particular piece he distinctly heard a lady turn to the woman beside her and say, “I honestly don’t know why his wife is still with him!”
At the coffee break they’d say things like, “Excuse me John, I’ve just remembered I have to go to the toilet urgently,” and disappear in the opposite direction to the toilet, or “Excuse me John, I see Nik (our head honcho) is free and I’ve something really important I must ask him,” and then they wouldn’t go near Nik, just go and fetch their drink.
He longed to get a chance to set the story straight.
To let them know whether or not he’d ever really punched his boss on the nose.
Had he ever been up for drunk driving or lost his licence or been fired.
Had he ever closed Dublin Airport because of a bomb scare, and been strip searched. But the image of that tall Garda officer, with the blond hair and blue eyes, and that green latex rubber glove came to his mind more regularly than he would have liked.
And he’d never made Susan stand on that roundabout. (Delete for non-Spanish readers who wouldn’t understand the link between ladies of the night and roundabouts.)
So this week he had decided he would definitely not read out the pedophile story.
No. This week he was going to keep his mouth shut.
He wasn’t going to give them a chance to batter him over his inconsistent points of view, his willy nilly use of tenses, his factual impossibilities or his incorrect use of the comma. This week they could take their comma and stick it where the sun don’t shine.
Next week he’d tell ‘em but this week, no, Mum’s the word, though they’d criticize him for the cliché.
He’d keep quiet and, come the coffee break, he’d have his drink, keep his head down, and they could all go to hell. They wouldn’t get him this week.
The author eventually returned to Ireland, the ‘Joe’ stories were put together, accepted by Old Line Publishing in Maryland USA and published as “A Recipe for Disaster’ by John Henry. The book is a mixture of fact, embroidered fact and pure fiction and I challenge anyone to figure out which parts are which.