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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Out-takes XIX

‘Shaz’s made some tea,’ Stell said. ‘She used to work at the hospital.’

‘I’ve put two sugars in and a drop of brandy,’ Shaz said. ‘Sip it.’

She handed him a mug with a graphic of a young, auburn-haired nun on the side. They watched him sip the tea. Ruben cupped the mug in his hands and let it work its magic. As he sipped, the same nun on the inside of the mug was revealed without her habit. Bare shoulders at first, then pumped-up breasts with prominent nipples, a wasp-like waistline. A gush of tears came on a wave of emotion and his body shook for a few seconds. He wiped his face.

‘You’re looking better, isn’t he Shaz?’

‘I don’t know,’ Shaz said. ‘Shall I ring the doctor?’

‘No.’ Ruben didn’t want to see a doctor here, in this strange house with these two women looking on. ‘I’m OK now. Thanks. There’s just this street, then I’m finished.’

He got to his feet and knocked a line of empty coke cans off the mantelpiece.

‘Don’t worry about them,’ Shaz said. ‘I can put them back later.’

Nothing seemed to have a reason, Ruben realized. Reason and meaning were empty concepts. When you thought for a minute about reason or meaning they didn’t have substance. Music and war and empty coke cans and milk and blue dumper trucks with three wheels. There was no Kitty and life was stretching away into infinity without her and bottles bounced around in the back of his truck without the common decency to break and shatter.

One Response to “Out-takes XIX”

  1. grasshopper says:

    Provocative enough to make me want more. What book or story prompted this, and why is it an out-take?

    jb says:  The passage was taken out of a novel of mine called The Meanest Flood. Reuben is a huge bull of a man who has been in trouble with the law in the past, but is now going straight, working as a milk delivery man. Different circumstances have brought him to the edge of a nervous breakdown and this passage formed part of that process. It was taken out because in the circumstances of the novel I thought it was overkill.