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Two Smokes by Declan Tan

Declan Tan

Venture Capital

Police rushed in and found the boy standing there behind the kicked-in door. He was having a cigarette. He was only about six years old. They asked him where his mother was, and he pointed to where she was. She was lying in a cot with a bottle of milk and was about thirty years old. She offered some greeting by raising the bottle. The boy finished his cigarette and asked: ‘What seems to be the problem here, officers?’

‘We’ve had complaints about a smell up here.’

That old chestnut. The six-year-old boy thought this no reason to come barging in.

‘I forgot to change her,’ the boy said, and laughed. He genuinely had forgotten; a lot had been going on lately. He hadn’t spent a lot of time at home and his mother had been left in the cot the whole time. ‘It won’t happen again,’ he promised. He didn’t finish his next cigarette and stubbed it out under his heel.

‘Where’s your father?’ The police asked while lighting his next cigarette.

‘Your lookin’ at ‘im,’ said he.

They turned on some David Bowie before leaving.

After they left, he looked up and down at the door, hanging on its hinges, and said: ‘Who’s going to pay for all this?’

‘They’re gone now.’ His mother said. ‘You can stop.’

He looked at her. ‘Next time you have the cigarettes,’ he said.

His mother stared blankly at the ceiling, hoping no one could see her.


Black Forest Gateau

She was born there. Born there. Fell out there, onto the hay almost; the hay that tidily dressed the floor. She did not hit the hay that night. Some splashes did and the hay came back to life, for a moment.

For a second, some splashes. Born there. Fallen out onto the hay. They removed her carefully, the hands of a vet, took her away to be cleaned. Took her away to be cleaned, carried over the hay. She was alive, floating over it, in fat vegetarian’s hands.

The tidy hay. Her grandfather coughed often. He had lungs that behaved as if they were not his. Years of shifting turf with a pipe lit. Inhaling hay.

A pipe and lungs that were not his. She was born there. Alive there. On the hay. The hands stood over her and watched her, asking her to grow faster.

The hay needed tidying. They couldn’t wait. This was in Ireland.

Later they discussed how to assassinate the Queen. The grandfather took a shit because he knew it couldn’t be done. They only had hay, a newborn, a vegetarian and a pipe. It would take a genius to do it.

He couldn’t even be bothered, and he was the only one old enough to remember. He fetched his pipe and smoked some, then his lungs leapt out onto the hay.

Everyone was astonished.

The vet tried to put them back in but the grandfather wasn’t swallowing, because he couldn’t breathe.

They didn’t know what to do. The vet just sat there in the hay with black lungs in his hands. They dripped on the hay and brought it to life for a moment. They hated the Queen even more that day. The dead man was indifferent and most likely he was over the whole thing anyway.

November 27, 2011 9:27 pm

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