Sunday July 8th, 2012

The exercise:

See what comes out of: the retirement party.

Yard work in the morning, hiding from the sun at the beach in the afternoon, and a BBQ dinner on the deck with our farming friends from Cawston in the evening.

Good Sunday.


He stood near the head of the table, looking uncomfortable and slightly embarrassed as his friends and coworkers came to offer their congratulations and well wishes. Many asked what he planned to do with himself with this new abundance of free time and he swore he didn't know.

Nobody really believed him at the time, but later on they would all see the truth of his words.

That night, however, they showed how little they truly knew him. They proposed tropical vacations (with and without his wife), road trips, endless afternoons on the golf course. A few even suggested he come by once a week for coffee and donuts.

Not a one of them could have predicted the dark and twisted paths he was about to journey upon.


Anonymous said...

marc, do we get another instalment of your story...?

The Retirement Party

He’d spent months planning this move. Shifting from a busy workload to having free time to fill any way you want would challenge him at first, but this is what people do when they get beyond work.
The day came and went with a minimum of fuss - a small party at the office, a few streamers, some helium balloons and cheap champagne drunk from plastic cups was all it took to send him off into retirement oblivion. 
His first month home was a blast - the lawn was mown, hedges were clipped and fences were repaired.
With the house in order, he decided to hitch up the van and the missuss and head off up north for the winter.
That filled in a few more months.
After six months of this he began to get fidgety; niggly,  his wife called it.
Nervous tics developed and he didn’t sleep as well as he used to because he wasn’t tired enough.
“You need a hobby,” his wife said.
“I’ll become a handyman,” he answered, and so, within another six months, he’d developed a business so well he needed to put on staff!
Who needs it?

Greg said...

Sounds like a busy day, but a fun one. Though... hiding from the sun? Weren't you complaining just a few days ago that the sun was hiding from you? ;-)
Your writing definitely has a slightly darker slant to it these days than it did, say, a year ago. I'm enjoying it, but I do wonder how your writing will change when the baby arrives!
I really enjoyed the third paragraph with the listing of things that make sense and turn out to be nowhere near what your character is going to get up to, there's a certain sense of beautiful inevitability to it.

The retirement party
"Why did you invite Green?" Dr. Septopus was hiding his beak behind his glass and doing his best to whisper, though he still clacked a lot.
"I thought it would be funny," whispered Sylvestra back, doing a much better job of it. When she whispered the shadows in the corners of the room seemed to undulate, and she sounded like a femme fatale from a nineteen thirties film.
"Well it's not! You know perfectly well that Ra-Ra-skirt Rasputin takes himself far too seriously! He's retiring, Sylvestra! Give the man-thing some dignity!"
"Hah! What dignity does a man-thing possess when he wears such fashionless clothing and drink champagne from a second-hand ladies' shoe?"
"You think the Kalahari Kalamari bought a new shoe as a retirement present?"
"You leave Ugh Yukky Tentacles out of this. You still invited Green. I can't believe he's not caused an incident yet."
"Neither can I," said Sylvestra thoughtfully. "Can it be that he's thwarting me by being normal?"
"I can only hope," said Dr. Septopus heavily, and tried to casually drift to another group of people. He almost managed it, only tripping over Ra-Ra-Skirt Rasputin's zimmer frame at the last minute. He landed on the floor with a crash and a clatter, and everyone looked round at him.
"I have the next present!" said Green brightly, drawing attention away from the inventive swearwords Dr. Septopus was using while he tried to stand back up. "Unwrap it!"
Ra-Ra-Skirt Rasputin, the man-thing that terrorised the Mongol Hordes, tore at garish wrapping paper with ill-grace.
"Nappies?" he snorted as he got the package open. "Why the hell did you buy me nappies?"
"Isn't this a baby shower?" asked Green, his face a picture of innocence. The only thing that spoiled the moment was Sylvestra's peal of laughter, which she was completely unable to stifle.

Heather Banschbach said...

Marc- I agree with Greg. Your stories are much darker these days. You better start getting your sleep in now so the stories stay on the page and out of your house!

A large banner hung over the swinging doors as I approached. HAPPY RETIRMENT, HAL it read. It left me feeling confused. My wife Loretta, was looking more beautiful than I had ever seen her look, was standing next to the doors with a man I had known my entire life. I was flooded with joy and surprise as I approached.

I hugged my wife and shook hands with Jesus. Together, the three of us entered the bar, if you could call it that. It was crowded with friends and family, some of whom I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen them. Joan, whom I always thought of as timid, was dancing up a storm on the floor. And then there was Mitch, the man who was always known to be the center of attention, sitting next to the old Juke box, plunking in coins so little Elyse could pick out a few random tunes. Some of the people were young, but a majority of the guests were closer to my age. As far as I could tell, everyone was there. There were even a few people I didn’t recognize.

Cheers and applause broke out as people realized I had finally arrived. Jesus picked up a beer up from the long wooden bar and handed it to me. Then he took one for himself and raised it in the air. The crowd grew silent. “To a man who has shown a great deal of honesty, generosity, love, and kindness.” A large cheer went up from those gathered. Jesus put his arm around me and led me back to the bar where we finished our beers in peace. I couldn’t help but think about all the things in my life that had finally brought me to this moment and the things I would have liked to do still.

“You’ve done well for yourself and your family! I know the party took you by surprise, but it was time Hal. If I left it up to you, you never would have thrown the towel in.” I nodded knowing it was true. I’d preferred to have stayed, but sitting there next to Jesus felt right.

“But why a retirement party?” I asked, making quotation marks in the air as I said retirement.
Jesus slapped the bar and gave a hearty laugh. “That’s a long story involving a practical joke by Lucifer and a misunderstanding on Michael’s part. Suffice it to say that it signifies moving from one stage to another, much like on Earth. Only, in this case, you are retiring from ‘life’ itself. Don’t worry. We have all eternity to fill you in on the details.”

Jesus slapped me on the back and took another pull from his beer. I followed suit, glad to have officially retired.

Morrigan Aoife said...

The final end of fifty years of service
A speech was expected, which made him nervous
He'd be given a plaque and a pocket watch
Agonizing moments like this required scotch

Marc said...

Writebite - I shall think about it and see if anything more wants to come out :)

I think you captured what can be a very difficult transition very nicely. After a lifetime of working, not working can be rather daunting, I imagine.

Greg - yeah, I'm not sure what all the darkness is about. Getting it out before all the fluffy happy blissful stuff comes out when baby arrives?

Ah, those guys. Always a gong show with them, one way or another.

Heather - hah, fair point I suppose.

That's a very interesting take on our final retirement. I quite like it, actually.

Morrigan - couldn't agree with your final line more :D