Finding Jesus in my soup

David stared into the bowl of soup where the face of Jesus had materialised and wondered why The Man looked so much like a serial killer. “I mean, if you’re the Son of God you can look like anyone, right?”

The face widened its eyes a little, rivulets of Heinz Cream of Tomato streaming to the sides of the plate like the parting of the Red Sea in miniature. For an entity without even a whole head, it did a remarkably accurate approximation of a shrug.

“Well, what’s that supposed to mean?”

The manifestation of the divine smiled and opened its mouth. Thick reddish orange liquid bubbled around the words. “I look as you expect me to look.”

“Bollocks,” David said. “I expect you to look like Robert Powell. And don’t give me that  disapproving look – you’re a bowl of soup. I can talk to a bowl of soup any way I like.”

“Gonnae keep the noise doon, Chief?”

David looked up. Gordon was sitting at the table opposite with his own bowl of soup upturned by his side. As usual, he’d been finger painting and the front of his hospital gown was covered in a lattice of thick orange smears.

“Keep it down yourself, Gordon,” David scowled. “I’m trying to have a conversation with Jesus.”

“Yer talkin’ tae yer soup again, boy. D’ye no think it’s time ye stopped it?”

“Do you hear me passing comment when you’re smearing shit on the walls of your ward? Or screaming abuse at the seagulls? Have I ever said a word about you sitting up half the night chatting to the furniture?”

Gordon thought about this for a moment. “Naw, Chief. Ye’ve never said anything. But then, I’m just a mad bampot  – you’re a bloody doctor.”

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The pigeon emitted a ghastly shriek as it spun out of the sky and strafed the pavement by my feet. I leapt nimbly to the side and kicked out with one foot, sending the hideous creature hurtling headlong into a nearby bush.

“Aha! Take that!” I cried, dancing the happy dance and celebrating my triumphant victory by pulling faces at the final resting place of my fallen foe.

Alas, my celebrations were too early, and before I had finished the first verse of “Happy Happy Joy Joy”, the bush had begun to quake. There was a dry snapping sound and a puff of terrified leaves shot into the air where they were picked up by the wind and sent scuttling off.

I tensed and looked soberly at the bush. Nothing could have survived that perfectly executed ninja-kick.

With a sudden rending sound, the bush split apart and the pigeon lurched forward; its right leg was bent awkwardly beneath it and its left eye roared bloody vengeance for the loss of its partner. It staggered towards me; slowly, painfully, inexorably, its dragging limb screeching and scratching through the autumn leaves.

“In the name of God!” I cried. “Why can’t you just die!”

I clasped my hands to my head and fell to my knees, unable to escape the relentless approach of the broken, feathery monster. Despair washed over me – a sudden lethargy; a willingness to accept my fate. The desolation of my soul was filled by a sudden longing for release; an urge to simply accept my fate.

“Three years! You’ve been following me for three years and I can run no more. I accept my fate, oh beaked spectre! Do with me what thou will, just make the pursuit end! Lift from my head this curse of eternal flapping and fluttering. Just give me the bloody note.”

The pigeon squatted back on its mangled leg and held forth the other. Tied around the base of the leg was a tiny scrap of paper. With shaking hands, I untied the message and unrolled it.

Dear John

Have a pigeon

Love, Jenny

The dissolution of my spirit was complete and I sank to the ground. The cold pavement pressing against my face went unnoticed in the blackness of my despair. The pigeon cooed mockingly in my face and I closed my eyes against my shame.

Why couldn’t she just send a box of bloody chocolates like any normal person would.

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Crepe Paper Suit

It was early in the evening when the leathery little chap in the crepe paper suit first approached me as I was walking through the park. He did not do so directly, but instead walked past on my right hand side, circled around behind me, and then sidled around to my left. He gave me a cheery little wave in way of greeting, and grinned a wide, gummy, grin.

“Hellay!” he said.

I nodded in reply.

“I wonder if I may bother you for a moment,” he asked, with another toothless smile.

“You are bothering me quite enough already,” I snapped, having no wish to spend the evening being accosted by little men in strange clothes.

He looked momentarily crestfallen, but brightened up before I could take any satisfaction from it.

“It will be worth your while,” he said.

I frowned at him and continued walking. He fell into step beside me, looking up expectantly and wielding his hideous grimace at me the whole time.

“Really,” he said.

“I very much doubt it, strange little man,” I said. “I am very choosy about the people with whom I keep company and my current criteria for conversation does not extend to leathery little men in paper suits. Good day.”

“Ah, but it is a good day,” he said. “It’s the best of all possible days.”

Something in the earnestness of his voice caught my attention and I stopped. While waiting for him to cease grinning inanely and get to the point, I surveyed his peculiar apparel. His suit was most definitely crepe, pale blue with little veins of white running through it. The bottoms of his trousers were ragged where the paper had soaked through and torn. From his sleeves and trousers there protruded naked white extremities. His head was wholly bald and his eyes sparkled like nuggets of amber in his jovial face.

“Today is the day,” he began, “when your problem shall be solved.” He finished this with a flourish of his hands and a little pirouette.

“And why, pray tell, will all my problems come to an end?” I asked.

He smiled knowingly and reached into his paper jacket, producing a small strawberry coloured parcel tied with wool.

“Because, my dear friend, I have a crepe paper suit for you!”

I gaped at the wizened fool with astonishment.

“What on earth would I want with a paper suit?” I cried! “Begone! Avaunt!”

“Hear me out, sir,” he pleaded. “Listen to what I have to say!”

“I have listened to what you have to say, and it is readily apparent that you would have me dress like a buffoon! A buffoon like you, sir!” I cried.

Without giving him a second glance I began to stride down the pathway, but after a few steps I heard little leathery flaps as his little leathery feet slip-slapped along behind me, no doubt bringing his little leathery body with them. I stopped in annoyance and turned around.

“Sir! Will you kindly find someone else to bother! I am in no mood to have clothing of inappropriate construction foisted upon me by a grinning imbecile. Please, depart at once.” I stood straight, pointing to the east.

His gaze followed my finger for a moment and then travelled back up the length of my arm to my face. I was horrified to see huge, glassy tears standing out in his amber eyes.

“You unspeakable fiend!” he wailed! “How could you? Why would you?” He spun around in a grief stricken little circle and flapped his little white feet up and down a few times. When he turned to face me, his look was dark and angry.

“This,” he said, thrusting the strawberry coloured parcel in my astonished face, “is too good for the likes of you! All I was trying to do was help! But, oh no! You’re much too grand! Much too proud to wear the humble coat of crepe! Much too arrogant to wear the gentle raiment of pulp and dye! A pox on you, Sir! A pox on you and your silly nose!”

I allowed him to vent his wrath and watched with some bemusement as he zig-zagged his way back along the path, stopping every now and then to regale a passer-by with tales of my unspeakable cruelty. He eventually disappeared from sight and I turned and carried on my way, trying to enjoy what was left of the evening.

When I reached the park gate, I found the policemen lying in wait, as they always did.

“There he is!” one cried.

“Get him!” said another.

I loped off in the opposite direction, enjoying the feel of the cool air on my naked skin.

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My ears twitched in annoyance at the springing fool in front of me. Up and down he bounced, grinning inanely and clapping his hands over his head. Clearly, having massive coiled springs attached to his feet had driven off his sanity.

“Woooooooooo” he cried. “Look at meeeeeeee!”

“Yes.” I said. “You’re bouncing. Well done.”

He continued to leap and bounce, happily springing up and down, up and down.

“Can you stop that please?”

A brief frown flickered across the imbecile’s face. “You know, I’m not sure I can,” he said. “But – Weeeeeeeeee! Why would I ever want to!”

My neck was growing painful from the effort of trying to maintain eye-contact with the oscillating buffoon.

“Would you like me to help you to stop,” I offered.

“Never, sir!” he cried. “Now that I have uncovered the arcane mysteries of bouncing, I shall continue to bounce until I draw my last breath, and even then I shall bounce my way past Saint Peter at the gates of Heaven.”

I considered this horrifying vision. A world where my sole companion was a gibbering, leaping, idiot. An afterlife populated by vertically catapulting fruitcakes.

I examined his face as closely as I could, given the incredible rate of change applied to its positioning relative to mine. Idiot or not, the look of joy on his face was unmistakable. And who am I to interfere in the joy of another.

“Very well,” I said. “By all means, enjoy your bouncing. But I ask you as a lifelong friend – would you consider doing it in someone else’s soup?”

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Fish Spoon Phone

Kio said Fish. John D said Spoon. Alex was on the phone. Hence, the following.

The ground shook as the great, flapping, pufferfish bounced down the street towards me. It was one of the weird deep-sea varieties – all teeth and spikes – and didn’t appear to be particularly pleased to be bouncing down a suburban street in the middle of the afternoon.

The fish was of a peculiar size – approximately the same dimensions as one of those little eastern european cars you see discarded at the side of the motorway, shortly before you pass angry-looking men with leather coats and beards.

Every time the fish hit the ground, it made a peculiar whooping-gasp sound, syncopated by the rasping of its pointy bits against the concrete. Its eyes were wild and staring. 

It was difficult to run away. Unless you’ve witnessed first hand the sudden onrush of unavoidable personal injury caused by the appearance of oceanic life where no oceanic life belongs, you really can’t understand the hypnotic power of such an event.

So I stood, and it bounced. A small dog ran out in front of it and yapped energetically. An orifice opened which I would dearly love to believe was the fish’s mouth, and the dog vanished. The sea-creature emitted a singularly fishy belch and continued down the street towards me.

Still unable to run, I rummaged in my pocket for some implement I could use in my defence. I pulled out a yoyo. A nice orange one, with stripy string and a flashing light in the middle. I contemplated the yoyo and the fish contemplated me.

It boinged up in the air in what was likely to be the final bounce before oblivion, when I was suddenly pushed from the side. A young man wearing a leather jacket and a string of onions had attached himself to my arm and was propelling me out of the fish’s path with considerably more gusto than was strictly necessary. As it passed, one of the fish’s razor sharp spines slashed across my yoyo, reducing it to a yo.

“What are you doing, you fool?” the young man shouted in my astonished face. “You can’t just stand still in front of a rampaging puffer fish and expect it to go around you!”

“I can stand wherever I like, Sir, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” I said angrily. I reached into my pocket and produced a small stainless steel teaspoon. I gestured at the young man with it. “I have a spoon!”

The young man, in turn, reached into his own pocket and produced a telephone. “I shall call the coastguard,” he said, “and report the puffer fish to them. Once I have done this, I shall call the police and inform them of your implied assault with cheap cutlery.”

“Damn you, sir!” I cried. “Why couldn’t you just leave me alone? I was perfectly happy, there in the path of the puffer fish. You’ve ruined everything!”

The young man was evidently shocked by my outburst and wasted no time in telling me exactly that. “But it would have killed you,” he cried!

“Never,” I said coldly. “In all my life, I’ve never heard of anyone being killed in the street by a puffer fish. Why the very idea is ridiculous.”

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Elephant-faced man.

I hit the ground with a thump, danced around a little, and then grinned cheerfully at nothing in particular. The elephant-faced man hit the ground a few feet behind me, but at a considerably higher velocity (due to the additional mass he carried in the center of his face).

“Oho!” I cried, dancing around my nasally extruded companion. “You almost caught me there, but not quite!”

I dashed off again, the elephant-faced man in hot pursuit. As he ran, he trumpeted, and as he trumpeted he thumped with his feet. Thump trumpety thump thump, he went.

I grabbed a firm hold of a passing lamppost and swung around in an orbit made eliptical by the uncannily elastic properties of my left arm. As I swung around, the elephant-faced man shot past me in a stampeding rush of feet and mucous.

“Tra-la-la! Too slow by far!” I bellowed, and stuck my fingers up at him.

Enraged, he wheeled around as fast as someone with an eight stone trunk stapled to the middle of his face can. He bellowed his frustration and thump trumpety thump thumped his way back towards me.

Fortunately, I was prepared for him and ended my orbit by releasing the lamppost and soaring straight over his pachydermically-challenged noggin. I landed on one foot, hopped to the other, shot him the fingers one more time and scampered away.

Exhausted, the elephant-faced man sat down, rested his huge deformed head in his hands and started to cry.

“You’re a complete bastard!” he sobbed.

“Yes,” I called back. “But at least I don’t have a big stupid elephant face!”

My piece said, I swept my huge elephant ears back, and ran like the wind.

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Teacup explosion.

It did – with a very loud bang and a splattering of delicious orangey brown beverage. It wasn’t made clear to me at the time exactly why the teacup exploded, but explode it most certainly did.

I was a small boy a the time, no taller than four inches, and a teacup was – in my limited world-experience – a subject most unsuitable for rapid deconstruction.

Through the years I have often cast my mind back to this strange day but have never been able to fully escape the unease caused by everyday household items spontaneously going kablooey.

I’m sure there’s a lesson in there somewhere.

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I once had opportunity to visit a strange old lady who swore blind she could nasally extrude ectoplasm. She’d sit there, in the dark, rocking gently, and then whoop loudly, causing me to leap in the air.

Invisible to all eyes except hers, a languid ectoplasmic tentacle would peer from her snout and poke around the room, examining all those present.

I always found the practice disgusting, preferring to keep a handkerchief in reserve for such moments.

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Onions for sale!

As I was walking to the wash-house one day, I happened upon a little man pushing a very large cart. I approached him and noticed his particularly leathery visage, which seemed to fit very well with his miniature stature..

“Good Morning,” I said.

“Good Morning yourself,” he replied.

“If you will pardon my curiosity,” I continued, “where would a leathery little chap such as yourself be going with such a large hand cart on a lovely morning like this?”

“I will not pardon your curiosity,” he replied, “but will answer nonetheless. I am taking my cart to the market .”

I looked at him ascance.

“But but but today is a Tuesday. The market is closed on a Tuesday.”

At this, the small leathery man appeared somewhat crestfallen.

“Bah,” he snorted. “What will I do with my onions now?” He opened the top of his cart, struggling somewhat to reach it. “These are perfect onions, grown by request of the King.”

I peered into the top of his cart. I saw no onions, and told him so.

“What?” he cried.

I reaffirmed my assertion.

“Of course there are onions, you fool!” he snorted. “Huge, golden onions, fit for a king!”

Taken aback by the leathery man’s obvious conviction, I reassessed the onion-to-nothing ratio of the cart and found it wanting.

“I am very sorry,” I explained to the man, “but all I see in your cart are huge, golden, nothings. Perhaps a small child has made off with them while you weren’t paying attention.”

“I always pay attention,” snapped the man, meeting me with a hard stare. “You don’t produce onions like that by being whimsical.”

He began to move off, lifting the handles of his cart back over his shoulder with not inconsiderable effort. I watched his receding figure as he stalked off towards the market bearing his fictitious onions. I continued on my way to the wash-room, swinging my empty washing bag merrily, and looking forward to spending the morning washing the clothes therein.

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Recursive Pachydermic Snufflings

Effie the elephant isn’t so much an elephant as an elefumble.

The difficulty comes when her nasty habit becomes apparent.

Effie is known to frequent the darker and danker regions of the less salubrious airports where she indulges in her passion for luggage snuffling.

She snuffles luggage.

In a word, she snorts trunks. With her trunk.

This poses a not insignificant risk.

Should Effie ever be an unfortuphant and snuffle a trunk containing one of the minor species of pygmy pachyderms, a situation could well arise where her trunk is snuffling a trunk containing another trunk.

This sort of recursive luggage snuffling could pose a threat to the very fabric of space/time itself.

Like a malignant grey russian doll, an elephant nasally imbibing a trunk containing a smaller elephant which may itself have snorted luggage containing an unsuspected pachydermic payload could very rapidly reach a density point whereby it would begin to affect the curvature of space time around it, thereby forcing – eventually – the entire universe to pour down a gravity well.

This would not be a good thing.

Guard against luggage sniffing elephants named Effie. The universe depends on it.

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