Sunday August 31st, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: the quarrel.

Had a quiet day, which was for the best as all three of us were quite tired after yesterday's activities. Max taking a three hour nap this afternoon helped a lot.

Hoping to go for a short hike tomorrow morning with the family. Will try to take a few pictures. And then actually remember to get them onto the laptop in a reasonably timely manner.


It began innocently enough. A phone call missed, a message left. Nothing urgent. No dire news, no wondrous celebratory happenings. Just checking in.

The message, however, never received a response. Ignored, or so it appeared.

Appearances can be deceiving. The reality was a chaotic mixture of too many meetings, sick kids, and unexpected trips to the mechanic.

Rather than investigate, offense was taken. Shoulders turned frosty. Requested favours were turned down with no or, much worse, ridiculous explanations offered.

Bitterness spread to both sides of the friendship. Mutual friends bore the brunt of gossip and spiteful rumours. The bond deteriorated quickly and then hostilities escalated even faster.

Now a Molotov cocktail is soaring toward a living room window and a loaded shotgun stands ready to issue an immediate response.

If only the first message had received an equally speedy reply.


Greg said...

A quiet day after the busyness of the market sounds like just what the doctor would order!
Heh, I know people who would prefer to take offense rather than ask a question as to why something they were expecting didn't happen, so your story has a definite note of truth to it. Though I don't think the shotgun has ever happened... it's too hard to get hold of guns over here ;-) I do like the arc of your story though, it's very convincing.

The quarrel
Magnus looked at the glass display case with a hint of awe on his face. The curator, a thick-set heavy man with the red blush of alcoholism spreading across his nose, also looked at the case, but his eyes were bleary with lack of sleep and dark rings around them made him look aggressive. Inside the case, on a velvet cushion, was a short cylinder of something that looked like metal, incised along two sides with symbols that were hard to focus on.
"It's the light," said the curator, his voice thick with phlegm. He coughed, though it seemed to make little difference. "It casts shadows and makes it hard to read the carvings."
"I think you'll find they're hard to read even under an inspection spotlamp," said Magnus. His voice was sharp and thin, and there was an accent there that the curator couldn't place. "Any two experts would probably give different renderings of them."
"Yes, well," said the curator, unwilling to admit that no-one had looked at this item since it was brought into the museum.
"I'd like to buy it," said Magnus. His hand reached into his pocket, and as the curator started saying "No" a black credit card appeared. The curator fell silent, greed clearly visible in his eyes.
"It's very rare," he said, licking his lips unconsciously.
"So maybe ten thousand euros? To whatever bank account you feel most appropriate?"
The silence was an answer in itself, and Magnus handed the card to the curator and lifted the glass display case up and away. As the curator fumbled the card, turning away to find a card reader, Magnus picked up the quarrel from its velvet cushion and slipped it into a pocket crossbow that he pulled from inside his coat. As the curator turned back, his eyes gleaming with avarice, Magnus pulled the trigger and shot him.
"Very rare," he said into the silence. "But very re-usable, and the only quarrel I know that steals souls."

Marc said...

Greg - jeez, your descriptions are always so great. In the opening they do such a fantastic job of setting the scene and then the story unfolds from there so naturally.

Excellent stuff :)