Friday Flash Fiction: Softly Softly Catchee Monkey

A particularly tasteful glimpse of British culture in this week’s story. I thought I might be the first to (word)press this week, but it seems that writing demon Gareth L. Powell has again beaten me to it with ‘Snowball’.

[ Update: the rest of the club has joined us: Gareth D. Jones ‘The Last Adam’, Neil Beynon ‘SCL69’, Paul Raven ‘Diplomacy’, and Martin McGrath ‘Eskragh’. And now I’m off to follow Joseph’s lead and enjoy some fine British Friday drinking. Stay safe, nightwalkers… ]


Softly Softly Catchee Monkey

An overcast sky concealed stars and aircraft from sight, just as the tall buildings flanking the quiet thoroughfare endeavoured to conceal the night-time clouds. The street was near-empty of life. There was only the gentle rustling of discarded paper and plastic as it was teased by the breeze.

And there was Joseph, who stumbled from lamppost to bench, from bin to shopfront, his erratic journey from landmark to landmark demonstrating quite how pissed he was.

‘S’n-not my fault,’ he told his face, reflected in a shoeshop window. He squinted at himself. ‘I jusht got paid.’

He pushed himself away, leaving greasy fingermarks smeared down the windowpane.

‘Should’ve gotta cab,’ he mumbled to himself, staggering in the direction of the far end of the street, reasonably confident that it wasn’t the way he’d come. ‘Not chips.’

He looked down at his feet, focusing on arranging them so that one trainer was in front of the other, and then the one at the back moved forwards, like so, and then repeat, and – correct the trip with a sideways hop – back into the rhythm, step, step, step-

He realised that there were footsteps behind him, and stopped abruptly. So did the second set of footsteps. Blearily, Joseph glanced around the street in front of him. Nothing; no one. He looked back over his shoulder and couldn’t see anyone there either.

He started walking again, and the sound of two sets of footsteps resumed. This time he turned around quickly and caught sight of someone ducking into cover back down the thoroughfare.

‘You’re not fucking funny!’ Joseph shouted. He fished a half-eaten bundle of chips out of his pocket and hurled it in the direction of his hiding stalker. This provoked no response.

‘Jokers,’ he grunted to himself. He remained where he stood for several minutes, swaying and glaring, but when no one showed themselves he turned around and began to walk away. The footsteps began again immediately.

This time Joseph whirled around, adrenaline suppressing his drunkenness, and he began to run in a loping, disorganised gait towards his pursuer. He still couldn’t make out the figure clearly, but it had a hood up over its head and bright white trainers.

‘Fucking chav wanker!’ Joseph roared. ‘Fucking come on then!’

The figure ducked away to the side again, disappearing into an alleyway that led to another shopping arcade. Joseph headed for the narrow gap in the brickwork, slowing his rush by bouncing off the wall. Ahead of him he saw the retreating back of his pursuer, still blurred and indistinct. In his anger he didn’t consider the strangeness of the figure being hard to see, when everything around it had become relatively clear in his adrenal rush.

He resumed pursuit, shouting more obscenities at the fleeing figure as it disappeared around a corner. He again skidded to a halt by slamming into the wall and turned his gaze in the direction of the pursued. The figure, still with its hood up, its white trainers now almost searingly bright, the features of its clothing still imperceptible, was facing him just a few feet away.

There was a scuffling noise from the entrance to the alley. Joseph glanced to his left and saw another couple of similar-looking figures walking towards him. He turned his attention back to his stalker, saw a fourth figure approaching behind it. He opened his mouth to issue a threat, or a plea, but his stalker moved a hand and Joseph felt himself collapsing to the ground. His limbs felt numb, but he could feel the cold and damp pavement against his cheek. He gurgled, trying to speak, and felt saliva run over his lips.

“Monkeys,” he heard the first figure say, the English marred by an accent he couldn’t recognise. “They’re all too easy. Okay, P—, take it up.”

Joseph blinked at the still-hazy figure as everything became bathed in blue. He felt his body lift off the ground, and his gorge began to rise.

Joseph’s last vision of Brighton, and of planet Earth, was punctuated by a stream of his own vomit streaking back down to the pavement below.

6 Responses to “Friday Flash Fiction: Softly Softly Catchee Monkey”
  1. neilbe says:

    Shaun – great work. You and GLP have set the bar very high this week. Very high indeed.

  2. I’m here. A little later than usual, but all present and correct.

    I like this one. Title says it all, really.

  3. GLP says:

    Those aren’t chavs… they’re aliens!!! Love it. I’ll certainly give the crowd of baseball caps around the local off-licence an even-wider berth than usual this evening…

  4. Shaun CG says:

    Thanks, everyone – very pleased you all liked this one.

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