This week’s writephoto prompt is
Colin Rhapsody was generally a happy chap who drifted through his life in a fug of unjustified optimism and rather cheap instant coffee. Everyday he walked the mile to the bus stop to go to work as light bulb replacement facilitator at the local council. Today however he felt truly blessed as the first replacement on his worksheet was the lamppost nearest his small cottage. When he left work the previous evening he was almost too excited and nearly forget to bring a set of portable steps with him. How he laughed at himself as he hefted them onto his shoulder; how foolish would he feel if he’d forgotten them.
He was still pondering the teasing he’d get from his fellow facilitators when he climbed the steps and opened the little glass door to the lamp.
‘What do you want?’
Colin blinked rapidly. The voice was aggressive and Colin didn’t deal with aggression particularly well. But it wasn’t the instinctual worry about confrontation that caused the surprise and concern, as much as the fact the speaker was about 8 inches tall, mostly orange and wearing what looked like a heavily embroidered kaftan. ‘Er…’
‘You the lamp fella? Changes bulbs?’
‘You know how long this one’s been out? How long I’ve been waving at you, not that you notice, walking around with that goofy smile like someone’s bopped you on the bonce once too often.’
Colin was fascinated by the furious face, the tiny jabbing finger, the way the kaftan swayed with every thrust…
‘Oi! You listening to me?’
‘Sorry, no, I don’t know how long. Generally we aim to replace the bulbs within 48 hours of them being reported…’
‘Yeah, well it seems longer. I…’
The little man stopped speaking as Colin’s face moved in close.
‘Oh my! Did it explode? Were you hurt? I do hope…’
‘I broke it, ok? Thought it was the only way to get your attention.’
‘Why’d you want to do that?’
The little man – Colin wasn’t entirely certain he was a man but what else did he call him – widened his eyes. ‘You didn’t see me wave, you didn’t hear me rapping on the glass, did you? That’s rhetorical. Of course you didn’t. So desperate times require desperate measures.’
‘You think being shut in a glass box with a light that only goes out when it wants to and keeps the inside hotter than the recesses of a wrestler’s jock strap is my choice?’
‘I… I never really thought… I’ve never seen anyone like you so I can’t say what… I mean I can’t begin to imagine what being that… being so…’
‘Look, matey, while you check you size privileges I need to get down and begone before the daft bugger who shut me in here gets wind I might be free.’
Colin looked around nervously. ‘Are we being watched?’
‘I said get wind advisedly. He’ll smell me.’
‘What is he?’
‘Him? He’s the foulest most abhorrent demon ever put on this earth.’
Colin’s glances became ever more frenetic. ‘What’s he look like?’
‘To you, he looks like a ginger Tom cat, goes by the name of Vetch…’
‘Vetch. I know Vetch. He’s the cutest furball…’
‘Maybe so if you the size of the Shard, relatively speaking. To me, he’s a devil in monstrous form.’
Colin shook his head. ‘But how does a cat put you… anything inside a lamp? And why?’
‘They can climb, can’t they?’
‘Well, true but they don’t have opposable thumbs so…’
‘Course not. They have magic powers.’
‘Magic…? No, come off it. They can’t.’
‘Why not? You’d not believe in me if someone told you, would you?’
‘No, that’s true. I never realised cats had magic powers.’
‘Look at how things work. You humans need a load of guilt poured on you to feed your own but one glance from a Mog or a Dog and you’re breaking out the treat packets. You think that just happens or isn’t it more likely they’re manipulating you?’
‘I never thought of it that way.’
‘Course not.’ The little fella hitched up his robe. ‘You getting me out of here or not?’
‘What? Oh of course.’ Colin held out his hand, palm up.
The little person peered at the surface, wrinkled his nose, muttered, ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ and stepped on.
Colin carefully descended the steps and looked around for somewhere to put him. The little chap pointed at a wooden post. ‘On there. I can fight him off while I await rescue.’
Colin tried to absorb this. The image of a Thunderbird arriving filled his somewhat addled mind. To distract himself, he asked, ‘Right. So okay if I change the bulb?’
The man waved Colin on. ‘Feel free.’
Colin climbed back up the steps. He put in the new bulb, picked out the broken glass and swept away some small food packets. He noticed what looked like mouse droppings in one corner but decided to leave them be. Closing up, he climbed down. The man had sat down in what looked like a lotus position. When Colin began to turn away, he said, ‘You get a wish, you know.’
‘You know the sort of thing. What you’ve always wanted but…’ he narrowed his eyes, ‘though we don’t do relationships. Can’t bugger around with free will, not after the Big Guy made such a big thing of it with his lad. Caused a real stink, giving that away but hey, there’s no telling a deity when they’re getting a bit too big for their cloud, is there? So, one wish.’
‘I’m happy as I am. Give it to someone who needs it more.’
‘You’re turning down a wish?’
‘That’s about it. Now, if you’re good to go, I have a list of bulbs to replace.’
The little guy watched Colin walk away. He shook his head and cast a hand towards Colin’s retreating back. ‘Sometimes you don’t know what’s good for you.’ A stream of sparkles shot after Colin and covered him.
For a moment Colin paused, shook himself and moved on. Even an encounter with a strange small person with magical powers wouldn’t change Colin.
Though forever after, Colin never did like the smell of instant coffee and to everyone’s surprise began eulogising the delights of a special Ethiopian roast…