Tooling around

October 28, 2015 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) include a tool in a story. How can it enhance the character, tension or meaning? It can also be a story about a tool or a character’s obsession for tools. Go where the prompt leads.

Charli Mills’s gives us the above prompt this week. Often Charli’s prompts open up a  floodgate of memories but a tool is a worrisome thing as I am truly incompetent with any machinery, even the simplest. I’m a  logical man but the ‘If A then B’ formulation evades me when I have a sharp object in my hand. In truth I generally fall within the Urban dictionary definition of this expression:

You’re a complete tool


You’re an utter dickhead

In my garage I have a machine for tilling the soil, a hedge cutter, a chain saw, a strimmer, a doofee that cuts the long grass that grows up against the trees (maybe that’s the strimmer?) – and I am banned from using any except under close supervision. This is not from an abundance of caution as this little story will testify.

Christmas. We need a tree. The local charity is selling Norwegian Blues or some such and the Lawyer and I are dispatched to acquire one and carry it home. To make this processes easier they use a machine that puts the tree in its own string vest made of tough nylon netting. We are advised to remove it from said netting on arrival home so the branches will drop before we dress it.

Living as we do in the home of a Textile expert we have dozens of scissors all of which are hidden from view, except those that have no cutting edge to speak of. I struggled to make an impression on the netting.

STOP. At this point a rational, logical, dare I say it – sane – person would consider alternatives such as waiting until someone with knowledge of scissor whereabouts came home.

Nope. Instead you ask yourself:  what has a blade like scissors, cuts nylon netting and you keep in the kitchen drawer? Using a carving knife you can go up or down the netting super fast. You need to hold the netting to make sure it is under tension to make the cutting quick but otherwise this is a doddle. Under no circumstances do you hold it in such a way that a body part sits between the blade and the direction of travel…

Three hours later the top of my forefinger on my left hand had been sewn back on. When we arrived home the tree was safely up and the blood stains removed. The scar is there now, a white Potteresque streak that glares at me. I feel slightly queasy having written this. Time to move onto my flash, and we are sill in Ireland with Mary and Rupert hunting their missing sister…

Fishing for the Truth

Mary sat, holding Katherine’s hand. The woman stroked Mary’s fingers.  Jerry and Rupert hung back.

Katherine’s 80 year old mother entered the room with a tea tray. Katherine stopped her stroking and clapped her hands. Mrs Potts explained, ‘She loves giving the cups to visitors. The tea is quite cool because she’ll probably spill a little. It’s a good distraction.’

‘You needn’t.’ Mary hated this.

Mrs Potts smiled. ‘We’ve thought about finding out about her background but assumed, you know, given the way she is. Now, where’s the swab. Katherine, open your mouth. I just want a little wipe.’

Here’s a link to Mary’s story so far. 

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 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.
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18 Responses to Tooling around

  1. I must admit, I thought of that first definition as soon as I read the prompt. *ahem*
    I’m glad you’re banned because one who is not good with tools should stay far away from a chainsaw. Stick with your keyboard. That you’re good with. What?! Did I miss a flash? I thought I was up-to-date on reading but who is Jerry? Okay… I need to find if I missed one.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. blondeusk says:

    Great post! Thx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anabel Marsh says:

    I have a similar scar from not heeding the same rule. A vegetable knife was all it took to do for me, though I was trying to cut plastic with it. I stick to vegetables these days, and even they fight back sometimes.


  4. Sherri says:

    You’re not coming near my Christmas tree with any kind of tool! Ouch though, that sounded pretty bad. Your flash caught me by surprise at the end…a nice gathering for tea…turns into a quick test for DNA… Cleverly written Geoff 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. gordon759 says:

    Admit it, it’s genetic. I take after our mother who, when confronted with a lack of wardrobe space, would simply build a wardrobe, whilst you take after dad, who once blacked out our house by wiring up a plug.
    Of course this wasn’t the first time you had trouble with knives, as a child trying to see if the blade of a knife would fit between the plug and the socket was not your brightest idea. Thank goodness the handle was plastic!


  6. I read the whole thing in one uber long sitting – God damn!! Riveting – and the ending is just the beginning of a whole other novel! Great writing sir!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      It’s really very good of you to take the time. It’s been fun trying to knit each episode into a prompt but very satisfying though now I’m worrying about continuity issues!


  7. KL Caley says:

    Loved the ending! Very clever story – Great job. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Charli Mills says:

    They make this special material that can stop the chain of a saw (the Hub wears chaps made of it) and with the Textilist’s talents she could make you a body suit of it. Then you could cut things other than yourself. Ouch!

    This is a tender moment after all we’ve been through with Mary, and in 99 words is filled with unspoken compassion. What an amazing saga you’ve written!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Tool Time « Carrot Ranch Communications

  10. trifflepudling says:

    I was thinking all the time I was reading: “Oh no, Geoff, you didn’t?!” But you did! Very amusingly written. I can laugh at you because I have a very similar scar on my left forefinger owing to poor execution of task, except it is L-shaped…
    I missed the beginning with Mary and have got a bit lost so will have to sit down one day and read it all through as it all sounds very engaging.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Christmas Musings – The Christmas Tree, When, why and why not? | The Curious Archaeologist

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