Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Underwood - a 500 word flash fiction

Deliberation. That was him all over. He was a man with a mind of his own, never swayed by another. He was a writer too; always tapping away at that relic of his. Underwood, it was called: a big block of metal and ink, like a cross between a squid and a centipede, all steam-punked up and with him busier than a dog sniffing round an ant-hill.

It meant a lot to him though, sitting there in that shed he used. He'd moved it there when the neighbours complained, saying it sounded like a carpenter doing piece-work. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tappity, tappity, tap, tap, tap, all night long. I had to take to drinking cause the Tylenol couldn't cope with it; battering away at it all the hours God sent us. Lord knows when he slept; he was there each night when I went to bed and still sat there when I crawled downstairs again next morning. Him and his paper and his rolls of inked tape, never using whitening, over-typing mistakes 'cause it was his 'way'; not using anything that might make his life a tad easier. He produced reams of it – his book, I mean – word after word after word he typed, never letting me read word one of it.

Of course, he could have been lying all that time. It could have been a tape recording he was playing all night long, if it wasn't for the paper he kept using. Course that could have been a lie too, what with me never seeing what he wrote next day. He could have been filing it away, still blank, in those office drawers he put in there, sitting alongside that Underwood on its table. He could have kept his reel-to-reel in there as well, tucked away in a drawer, waiting ready with his 'carpentry' tapes to be played all night. Just him in his shed, with the door padlocked, even when he was inside of it.

Not that I would ever have gone in.

He was obsessive about his privacy too. As I said, the door was always locked. It's the first time I've seen a door with a hasp fixed on it both inside and out. And with the biggest padlock I ever saw too, like the ones you see on bullion chests. Though, come to think, it might be that. Maybe it was drugs or something. He could have been mixing up whatever in there behind that door and that window with the blind that never opened. He could have been brewing up amphetamines or meth or speed and selling it on during the day, cause he was never a one for grafting. Not him with his hands with palms softer than mine, never used a hammer or shovel in his life.

Maybe I should have had a look in there one day when he was busy visiting that publisher he saw. Mind you, publisher and pusher sound much the same, don't they now?