Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Last Person on Earth

He ate his tin of beans and gently thought about things. Was life an exciting adventure, or was it, in all truth, just a lot of crap? He certainly wouldn’t be doing it again, that was for sure – assuming that you could do it again.

He had been on his own for the longest of times. He had been pot-holing in a very deep hole in the ground when it had happened. The war, followed by the floods due to all the dams and waterworks that had no one to look after them. 

He believed at first, that there could have been more pot-holers who had survived that fateful day and that he would eventually run into them.

The nearest thing he’d seen to a living person was a shark which had swum past the building he was now in – but that had been a long time ago. Since then, nothing and no one.

He would go down to the ground when he needed more cans – he would try to drink out of bottles found in stores, rather than use the rain water. Yet what was he being precious about? The water could only kill him, and he was going to go eventually.

He’d organised a soccer world cup in the last few weeks – where he, naturally, played in every team. So far, the first semi-final was between Kazakhstan and Barbados – that’s just the way it had worked out. He originally had three footballs and two of them had been kicked over the edge in his excitement. The footballs had disappeared by the time he had gotten to the jungle floor below. 

He imagined they had been stolen by a group of pygmies who had survived the war. He always imagined others to talk to, or even just to see now and again.
The loneliness was killing him – probably, literally.

He had long since realised that as he was possibly the only living thing in the world, then what he liked, and what he disliked, would represent the rest of humanity. All those millennia of genius – Shakespeare, Einstein, Plato, Newton…. well you get the picture - and yet it was only the tastes and knowledge of one, Johnny Cribs that would be remembered if any aliens arrived.

He had decided that the Monty Python theme tune – The Liberty Bell – would be the World’s Anthem. He decreed, that no one was to ever read a Dan Brown book as long as Johnny Cribs was President of the entire planet.

On Wednesday mornings, Black Sabbath was to be played in every home and at the stroke of midday, Rammstein, the band, was the order of the day, afterwards.

Just like in the book, 1984, James Blunt (not that he was in the book, just the principle of the thing) was to be struck from all records – James Blunt never had, nor ever would exist.

In the early days, he had walked as far as the national stadium – much of it had fallen down or had been washed away – but as far as Cribs was concerned his team had won the League and the Cup for the last five years – and dared anyone to argue with him.

He had saved some books from a large bookstore which had once stood on a corner nearby. He hadn’t got around to reading anything – in fact, he was using some of the books to sit on. He had (and he didn’t want to appear like a Nazi) but had burned some of them to keep warm. The rest he’d keep for the later years.

There was no electricity – not since the war. He had stayed alive by eaten from tin cans – or aluminium – or whatever the hell it was. Mostly beans. Always gave him indigestion.  

He had plans that once the soccer world cup was finished, he would start a ‘This Roof Has Talent’ competition – where he would play all the talent and the judges. He decided he would play Simon Cowell as a decent and reasonable human being – because Johnny thought that would have annoyed him.

Before the world cup, he had the whole roof (him) involved in Big Brother – he had voted himself out on every occasion.

And that is when it struck, Johnny – in the good old days, he hadn’t actually noticed the world  – he had been too busy on his phone, his pad, his computer and his television to see it.

Now it was too late.

Still he had the other soccer semi-final to look forward to:  Ireland versus Hawaii (he was sure he had heard that Hawaii was a country on a tv quiz programme).  

One day, someone would come. Until then.....

bobby stevenson 2017.
Painting by Ivo VanDeGrift

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Life in a Small Place

There was a story told once, about a man who only had one wish, and that was to stand in the middle of a small village. The man wore a suit as he felt it reflected respect and it would keep him warm or cool depending on the weather.

The man chose the very centre of the village, and there he marked a cross. He had one last drink and one last sandwich and then he stood very still in the middle of it all.

An old lady passed him first and wondered if perhaps he could help her carry her goods home. When the man did not react, the woman ‘tutted’ and then walked away.

A man from the parish council passed by and asked the still man if he had permission to stand in such a way. Had he asked the parish council? When the man didn’t answer, the parish councillor made a note to bring the man up at the next meeting.

One young artistic lady, felt that the man was making a political point by showing the futility of life by standing in such a manner. She kissed him on the cheek, then hurried to catch her train.

A small boy and his mother wondered if perhaps the gentleman was only a model and that although life-like, was available to be kicked and hit. This is what they did.

A group of teenagers wondered if the man was crazy and decided to pour some cola over him – and who, by the way didn’t react – so the kids grew bored and moved on.

That night several of the villagers sat outside the pub and discussed the merits of what the man was doing. Some wondered if he was a serial-killer, who would slit all their throats in their sleep. One thought it might be for a bet – but it would have to be a large bet, at that.

One woman felt that maybe the man just wanted to stand in the middle of a village and that was okay by her.

The moral of the story is this, whether you do something you believe to be positive, or negative, or even do nothing at all – in a small village everyone has an opinion on what you do.
Be happy. 

bobby stevenson 2017

Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Man Who Wore His Coat Indoors

He was a guy. Just a guy.

That was the beginning and end of it. He loved football, drinking, singing, and making a mess of himself on a Saturday night. So why did he end up being this way?
I mean, his only ambition was to get from Monday to Friday in the quickest time possible. 

Okay, he knew that sounded stupid, but that was the kind of guy he was. Stupid.

He was a man. Just a man.

One who loved lots of things and hated some other things. Okay maybe not hated, but he could do without them in his life. Some people he liked instantly, others took a bit longer, and the same went for disliking people. Did he have to say it again? He was just a guy.

When his back started to hurt he thought about going to the doctor, but he knew he’d never go. He was the kind of man whose legs would have to actually fall off before he went near a medical centre. There he was again - being stupid. How could he get to a doctor if he didn’t have any legs? He had a quiet chuckle to himself. That was a laugh he couldn’t be bothered to explain to anyone. No one else would have understood.

When the nodules started growing in his back, he asked his sister to cut both of them off. She thought it might be serious, like cancer, or something. He told her not to be so stupid, however the one thing that cutting them off caused was that they just grew back faster and bigger. His sister was happy enough to do the odd cutting here or there, but this was starting to get really stupid – and anyway, unlike him she had a partner. So, she stopped.

He was a man who now had difficulty sleeping.  He had to lie on his side, or, better still, his stomach.

Then he started wearing a coat to work - actually, in the office. Folks thought he was nuts. If he told them the truth, he would probably have been thought even weirder. That was the source of the problem, he didn’t like standing out from the crowd – he never had. Now he was the Nutter who wore his coat indoors.

It only took two weeks for them to fully grow. He would go into the bathroom and lock the door, then feel the relief as he could give them a shake in the fresh air.

He was a man with a serious problem.

He wasn’t sure if he could fly with them – but wouldn’t that be cool? He started to cut holes in some of his shirts, so that he could give them an exercise, now and again. His sister and mother would knock his bedroom door from time to time to ask if anything was wrong.

Anything wrong? Of course, there was something wrong, I’ve got a pair of wings growing out of my back, he wanted to shout. But he didn’t, he was just a man after all.

Then a thought hit him: what if he was really going around the bend? Stone cold crazy, like.  Perhaps the growth had been something medically wrong with him. Maybe his sister was correct and that it would follow that the wings didn’t exist. All of it was in his head. What then?

He’d stopped going out with his pals to the bar, in fact, to be honest, he had stopped going out anywhere apart from work. He phoned his best pal, and asked him to meet him in the park.

“This is all very weird,” his friend said, “but then I heard you had gone a bit……you know……”
“Nuts?” Said the man.
“Exactly. Are you having a break-down?”
“Don’t think so.”

The man got up, told his friend to close his eyes. That was when his friend said that if he tried to kiss him, he might punch his pal.

The man took off his coat.
“What do you see?”
“What do you mean what do I see?”

And then he saw it and he used a few choice words, to colour what he had seen.
“You’re an………”

His friend got up and started pulling on the wings.

“They’re real….they are actually real. Did you have an operation or something?”
“Of, course I didn’t, they just grew.”
“Just grew? A boil on the tip of your nose, just grows. But this?  So, what do you do now?”
“How should I know.”
“Has God contacted you or anything?”
“Now you’re being stupid.”
“I’m being stupid? You’re standing there with a couple of wings on your back and you’re calling me stupid. Why don’t you just go home and wait for a call or something.”
“Like God is going to call on the telephone?”
“He might.”

So that is indeed what he did. He said goodbye to his pal, put on his coat again and headed home, - and now he is waiting - just waiting - to see if anyone needs an angel in their lives.

bobby stevenson 2017

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Wish

Perhaps I will try to convince you that this story is true. Maybe I will - but then again, you are intelligent enough to make your own mind up – I can tell that about you.

To be real honest, I could say that the person in the story is me, but that would be lying. To say that I heard it from the friend of a friend of a friend, would be nearer the truth.

So, this guy, who we will call Jack, is walking through the woods minding his own business, when he hears a call from the trees.  ‘Help’, the voice calls, ‘help me’. Jack  wanders over to the source of the noise and there is a small man, almost dwarfish, with his foot caught down a rabbit hole.

“What are you doing?”, Asks Jack.
“What do you think, I am doing?” Replies the little man. “I’m stuck, my foot is caught down a rabbit hole.”
“Why did you do that?” Asks Jack, again.
“I didn’t do it on purpose, I was chasing something, and I didn’t notice the hole.”
“Fair enough,” said Jack who then attempted to pull the dwarfish man from the hole, but nearly pulled the little man’s head off.
“Careful,” shouted the small fellow, in a very strangulated tone.

After one more pull and a pop, the little man was freed.

“Well thank you very much.” Said the dwarfish person. “It is now a matter of principle that I grant you a wish, for your kindness.”

Jack looked around for the television cameras, as he was sure that someone was up to something, somewhere.
“Are you looking for TV cameras?” Asked the now freed, dwarf.
“No,” said Jack guiltily.
“You were, you thought I was setting you up,” said the man.
“No, I didn’t.”
“Yes, you did.”
“Ok, I did.”
“Aha!” Exclaimed the little man with the big voice. “Even after all, that I am still going to grant you a wish – mainly because I am contracted to do so.”

Jack looked up at the sky and down at the grass but couldn’t find any inspiration in what to do with his wish.

“Tell you what,” says the dwarf, “why don’t you walk with me a while and you can decide then.”

Jack thinks, then looks around to see if the dwarf has accomplices and is planning to kidnap him.

“You’re looking to see if my friends are going to attack you, aren’t you?”
“No,” says Jack.
“You were.”
“I wasn’t………look we could do this all day. So yes, I thought you might be a robber.”
“At my height. What was I going to do? Gnaw your ankles?”

The smallish magical man and Jack decide to call a truce and walk through the woods together.

After a few minutes, small man speaks:
“Have you thought about  your wish?”
“I have,” says Jack.
“Well tell me what it is.”

Jack clears his throat and coughs.
“Well, perhaps you could hurry up as I have things to chase,” said the little man.
“And holes to fall-down,” says Jack.
“Do you want a wish, or don’t you?” Asks the midget.
“I do, I do. I would like to get rid of all my past mistakes, All the things I’ve done wrong. Reset them, so that they never happened.”

The little magical man looks at the bigger man with a sceptical look. “You sure?”
“Alrighty then,” says the little one, “but I’ve got to warn you there are consequences.”
“Hang the consequences,” says Jack.
“If you’re sure, I’ll begin.”

The little man rolled and ran in circles, saying strange words and making weird noises. Then he suddenly stopped:
“What would you like me to get rid of first? I can’t do them all at once, as that’s too tiring.”

So, Jack tells the little man that he wished he had never been drunk so often and told people things he didn’t mean.
The little man did his little man magic things, then shouted, ‘done’.
“That’s it?” asks Jack.
“Sure is,” says the little one, and the two of them continue walking through the woods. Suddenly a rather strange thing occurs, Jack’s right arm falls off.

At first Jack didn’t even notice, then as he went to scratch his head he realised he didn’t have an arm.
“I told you there would be consequences.”
“Losing an arm is more than just a consequence. It’s an arm.”
“But now when you meet people, they will never see you as an angry drunk. To them you have never drank,” said the little man.

Jack thinks about this and decides that he can live without an arm.
“Anything else?” Asks the small man.
“Well I wish I had made more friends, and been less judgemental of people.”
“Done,” says the little man.

And the next thing Jack knows is that his two ears fall off.
“I didn’t say, I wanted it, I was thinking aloud,” says Jack.
“Too late,” says the small fellow, “and if you want to put down meeting me as a mistake, you can’t, it’s in the contract.”
“What contract?” Asks Jack and the little fellow pulls out reams and reams of paper.
“Wait a minute is there something you are trying to tell me, little one?”

The dwarfish man nods.
“What is it then?”
“Can’t you see, if I got rid of all your errors and faults, you would no longer exist. It is the mistakes and wrong-doings that make you who you are. No one ever learns anything from doing things correctly. We are all made up of our faults.”

Jack had to smile and wished he hadn’t been so stupid. Which is what happened. The little man disappeared as Jack’s arm and ears grew back.
“Guess, I’ll just live with my faults,” Jack thought to himself.

And that is what he did.

bobby stevenson 2017

Friday, 7 July 2017

Love Me 'Til The End

There are 52 594 876 minutes in one hundred years.

And no one is the same person from one minute to the next.

A brain cell dies here, a skin flakes off there,

A new nail or hair is grown.

We are only a collection of things that have been given a name.

If we live for all of one hundred times around the Sun then

We have been 52 594 876 different versions of ourselves.

And, what I am saying is –

Love me ‘til the end

And watch our selves forever change

Minute by minute.

bobby stevenson 2017