making the beast of it… #microfiction

Jane Dougherty hasn’t prompted us for a while but this is her latest, and frankly extraordinary picture prompt.


The Beach Bum
Horacio Stool felt his new job as beach attendant was a step up from burger flipper and, before that, furnace scrubber at the plastics factory. He needed fresh air, the medics said, because his lungs, damaged by ingesting hot fats and dusty particulates, were shot. And he liked it here, with the certain level of freedom to choose which job he did each day and the beauty of his workplace. He felt an urge to compose, a need to become at one with his environment and took to carrying a posey of blossom wherever he strolled.
The downside was the paying customers; being somewhat sociopathic he baulked at their incessant need for pictures, their inane chatter. However his bosses became aware that Horacio was developing something of his own fan club; interacting with the clients, they said, ‘encouraged the punters to spend’ and encouraged Horacio to ‘make himself available’. When he showed no sign of complying the bosses shrugged. Instead they encouraged the punters to ‘hunt Horacio’.
Horacio did his best but, in truth, he found himself gravitating to the jobs he could do in private, the best of which came every Tuesday with the Beach Olympics.
This required Horacio to set up an obstacle course along a private section of the beach before it opened at midday. There were swims, and challenges with ropes and buckets, Quoits and shell stacking too. But the piece de resistance was the tackle zone, a 100 meter section involving large soft animals to be crashed to the floor before a final sprint.
Horacio loved these creatures: Rambo the Rabbit and Sebastian Squirrel, Cutie the Chipmunk and Gertie Guinea Pig. He lined them up last, chatting to each one.
Possibly it was because he’d become used to being alone that he didn’t notice the youngster with the camera; maybe it was a particularly balmy day and a sonnet was taking shape in his head, causing his lack of focus. Whatever the cause Horacio didn’t notice the onlooker. He checked each creature to ensure they were at their optimum and, as was often the case realised one – in this case Gertie – needed some maintenance. Horacio went to his tool shed and retrieved his work bag. To the onlooker’s astonishment, he slowly and deliberately removed his shorts and pants, before attaching the equipment. You see, Horacio had learnt to improvise. The bosses made it clear that if one of the animals needed air, Horacio had to blow them up. His lack of lung capacity and the bosses’ reluctance to buy a pump left Horacio with little option; he undertook what he thought of as a ‘routine reinflatulation’.
The onlooker clicked away while Horacio concentrated his energies on his intestines. When the picture appeared in the Daily Sprocket the bosses called him in. Sadly they felt they would have to let him go. ‘You’ve really buggered up big time,’ they said.

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 two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. 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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38 Responses to making the beast of it… #microfiction

  1. “And so, sir, you were just reinflating a leaky guinea pig using the only means at your disposal?” said PC Plod flipping open his notebook and licking his pencil.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You gone too farthistime, Geoff

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rowena says:

    I have a new job opportunity for Horatio working at Lower Crackpot in the town of Promised Land, Tasmania. I kid you not
    I’ve almost been back a week and getting through the posts on the holiday is taking forever…especially tackling Port Arthur. The research is fascinating!
    BTW did a really good job tackling this prompt. Not an easy one at all!!
    xx Ro

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ritu says:

    Oh my His Geoffleship I am dying with laughter here!!!!!!! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I fell off my chair and took my coffee with me. 😀 😀 😛 Can’t talk. I’m out of air. o_O

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have to admit I started to read with great anticipation – or is that dread……. Oh no, what will he do with this? It’s like Jane was daring you. Luckily I had finished first coffee before getting to you this morning! There’s one continuity issue though ‘Gertie’ wears a sailors hat and smokes a pipe? This needs an explanation.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Michael says:

    Wonderful Geoff, loved how you took this image to a whole new height…lol

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m going to be laughing in my sleep tonight every time I see the picture in my mind and think of your story with it. Great job! Wonderful lead up to it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mick Canning says:

    I can’t imagine what others have written for this prompt, and don’t have the courage to search…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Joy Pixley says:

    Hilarious! I definitely was not expecting the story to go there. But then, this image has inspired all manner of odd twists and turns…. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

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