Darkest before dawn

I am off to France for a few days and wifi will be tricky (given my past experiences) so writing posts difficult. I may be able to comment occasionally. Hence this post is earlier than it would customarily be.

Charli Mills has set us a late night, well early morning, challenge this week…

January 21, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a 2 a.m. story. Crazy things can happen after the bars close down, even if you never go to the bar! You might, drown in a pile of snow or wake up to find a black bear in your kitchen. Well, those are northern Idaho 2 a.m. stories. What’s yours?

I’m a bit of a night owl these days. And a morning person. There’s a problem here, as you can see. Sleep. Or lack of it. Nowadays, with my legal career in the past, if I need a nap, I take a nap. But back in the hazy days of work, nipping off for a crafty kip was frowned upon. And, of course, when I became part of the problem, i.e. management, I was meant to uphold all that was good and pure and true about the grand institution of a law firm that I worked for.

I failed rather. But in doing so I think I succeeded. It was the late 1990s and my group of real estate boffins had been shunted into the long grass of what was called the North Building, the geographical description adding to the sense of isolation – North Building, North Pole, North Face (of the Eiger) – all bleak lonely spots only visited by crazies and ne’er do wells. After all we were the Gardening Department and you need to be wary going back into the garden.

To make the boys and girls feel like they belonged we fostered a community spirit – sing songs round the camp fire, all night Knitting Bees, that sort of thing. And as the team commander and general factotum I made myself as available as I could. My door was always open (if no one moved the waste bin) and I had a large glass window installed down the side wall so people could see I was there and come in for a chat. It looked like a cab office.

The upside of seeming like an approachable guy carried a down side: any chance of a cheeky little snooze, postprandial, was no longer an option. Sadly visibility combined with the extra stress of achieving budgets and HR appraisals and all sorts and some days, around 2pm, a quick forty winks was a necessity rather than a luxury. And if my eyelids drooped someone would tap on the window and run away – the office equivalent of ringing the doorbell.

I learnt a lesson. Angle the computer screen so you can rest on an elbow and you can look like you’re reading an email even if a close inspection might show you’ve been reading that same mail for twenty minutes.

By the time I stepped down I had introduced At Your Desk Pilates and a weekly group snooze. We weren’t making money but our mindfulness went through the roof.

These next pictures perhaps sum up my time in the law. At least I left them with their sense of humour intact. As you can see they spared no expense on my retirement present.

2015-01-23 22.05.19

2015-01-23 22.05.28

If you’re wondering the tie is blue hippos. Pink elephants are so last century.

For 2pm back then read 2am now. It’s unusual for me to be in bed before midnight and more likely 1am. It’s a matter of time before we hit 2am. And then, maybe, I’ll know what to write.

In the meantime here is Mary. What’s she doing, up so late? And if you want to know how she reached here, click this link.

Deeper than the witching hour

 What woke her, she couldn’t say. Sitting on the toilet, peeing away her dreams, Mary sensed movement in the shadows from the street light. ‘Hallo?’ Who said that?

Some part of her fugged brain told her to be scared, but she wasn’t. Whoever spoke was friendly. How did she know the speaker was a she?

‘Hallo Mary. It’s Sharon.’


‘Your twin?’

But you’re dead.

‘Not to you’

No. Where are you?

‘I’m here. I’ve always been here. That’s what twins do. Stay close.’

How did you die? How…?

‘Mary, Mary. Wake up. Why are you shouting? Who’s died?’



About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
This entry was posted in flash fiction, miscellany, writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Darkest before dawn

  1. Archaeologist says:

    When I worked for Dorset County Council we discovered that there was a rule, ‘No one is to sleep whilst at work without permission.’ Knowing local government’s delight in creating paperwork we did try to discover if there was a form to apply for a nap (it doubtless had to be submitted at least a week in advance) but sadly we could never discover one.

    As for angling your position so that it cannot be seen if you are sleeping or waking, this has its dangers. I read one the sad story of a man who worked for a publisher, reading manuscripts. He was diligent at his work, arriving early, leaving late and getting very cross if he was interrupted whilst reading.

    He had been dead two days when they finally discovered him at his desk.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Norah says:

    A little nap during the day can be quite refreshing, though I must say I don’t indulge. is it just hearsay or is there an after lunch siesta tradition in Spain? How lovely now that you can sleep when you want and wake when you want – as long as there are no trains or planes or other events scheduled (like meeting people in the British Library)! :I wonder what news Sharon has in store for Mary. The intrigue continues. 🙂


    • TanGental says:

      No all true about Spain. When we opened an office there in the Eighties trying to get the locals to cut their lunch was the cause of much hand wringing on both sides. Ah dear Mary. She needs one of Anne’s therapy sessions

      Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        How long is their lunch break? I thought you would be in favour of it!
        I wonder what advice Anne might give Mary – or would she just listen!
        I forgot to say: Enjoy France! You are the well-traveled gentleman! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Two hours minimum. I wasn’t involved other than to listen to the moaning on both sides.. Trouble with the Soanish is they eat about ten at night which I can’t deal with!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        Yeah! That would be a bit late for me too! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        There was a programme on the TV last week listing the heartiest countries in the world. France and Spain were 7 and 8 which given their diet and eating patterns is so absurd as to be obvious. Oz like the UK was well down the list.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:


        Liked by 1 person

      • Archaeologist says:

        Slightly off comment, but I am sure you will like this, a friend posted it on my facebook page.

        1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits and Yanks.
        2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits and Yanks.
        3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits.
        4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits and Yanks.
        5. The Germans drink a lot of beer and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Brits and Yanks.
        CONCLUSION: Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

        Liked by 5 people

  3. Annecdotist says:

    Great humorous intro to another cruel flash. I do like that mug!
    Regarding the discussion with Norah, I think some businesses do try to adapt more to the hours of the rest of Europe now although my friend who lives in Spain still likes her siesta when she comes over here. As for poor Mary, she needs to be careful, I have review coming soon about a sinister imaginary friend.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Amber says:

    I am glad Mary was only dreaming. I was afraid that on top of everything else, she was going mad as well!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Have fun in France. Love the mug. And the coffee cup. 😀 Great flash! Still working on my 2 AM. So many options…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Charli Mills says:

    Knowing the sinister hand at the keyboard, I think Sharon is in for a stay and Mary might be truly driven mad! Although I’d love to her Sharon’s side of how she’s “always” been there and poor Mary’s collapse at recognizing the truth of it. Deeper down the rabbit hole you take us! Love your mug! Have a good time in France!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Have a good time in France. Hope you are going to the warmer parts and get nice blue weather. I don’t think Mary is going mad – yet. Time will tell. I resist sleeping during the day but I get later and still arise at the crack of dawn, Sleep deprivation plays havoc. Love the mugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. somemaid says:

    Have fun in France, I too have experienced the struggles of finding wifi there. I love the idea of a weekly group snooze. I love afternoon naps and try to have at least one a month.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: It’s 2 a.m. « Carrot Ranch Communications

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