The Neck Brace: ( transcribed / seasonal)


I sat at the table idly picking pine needles off the butter as a lorry reversed into the xmas tree depot opposite my house, the gate post occasionally tearing a stray branch from it's load. I had just packed a selection of art books into a supermarket trolley which I was going to push down to the second-hand bookshop as soon as it stopped snowing; I needed money for a small chicken, a few bottles of Thunderbird, and maybe a large tube of titanium white for a snow-scene.

I trundled the trolley across the slippery and uneven paving, the vibration numbing my forearms to the cold and blurring my vision; it may have been this, or the trolley hitting an icy patch, that caused me to lose my balance. The trolley slipped into the road and was caught a glancing blow by Santa's Grotto on a flat bed truck. The lorry sped away, the elves laughing as I tried to rescue the books from a slushy gutter.

When I arrived at the shop it was closed for a 'staff xmas lunch' and promised to open again at 4pm. I nudged the trolley as far into the doorway as possible and tucked a couple of festive carrier bags around the books.With only an hour to wait I crossed the road to spend my last two pounds on a pint of beer in the Prince Of Wales. In a quiet corner at the back of the pub I sat down at a cast-iron table with a circular wooden top and as I leant forward to bring the drink to my lips, I spotted something on the table shelf. It was a pink plastic surgical neck-brace. Initially it was the braid of green and purple tinsel sellotaped to it's circumference that had caught my eye but inside, in blue biro was written 'ELVIS, ELVIS, ELVIS'. Recalling Dorothy and the witch I involuntarily clicked my heels together. Nothing dramatic happened other than that my knee struck the table leg causing the pint to wobble and, as I lashed out to steady it, I managed to knock the glass over and its contents poured over the table edge soaking my thighs.

On leaving the pub I discovered that my trolley was missing so I walked home and made a cup of tea and some toast. As I absent mindedly tried to scrape a pine needle from between my teeth with the prong of a fork I wondered what the future held. An early night, I thought.