A Couple of Choices


I’m still here. Been busy as a bee. And I need your help. But before we get to that… we have to digress a bit.

<Digression Alert: But why are bees always represented as being busy? Why not busy as an ant? Have you ever seen an ant lying around goofing off? No, right? But bees get all the credit for being busy, when, in fact, all they do is buzz around, pollinating flowers. Well, I guess they give us honey for my toasted English muffins. And of course, the thought that if we get rid of the bees, we’d have only twenty years to live before we die of starvation and cannibalism gives us pause.>

I know, you love those Digression Alerts! Nobody else alerts you like SloWord does. How absolutely darling we are here at SloWord. But now folks, we have to tell you why we’ve been busy. Busier than a hibernating bear. Busier than a Punjabi Pasta. Busier than a Bollywood dream sequence. Busier than… you get the idea, right? I’ve been busy.

Why have I been busy? Let’s consider the facts.

  1. I wake up at the crack of dawn.
  2. I undergo the usual morning ablutions plus additional special ceremonies to maintain the facade.
  3. I climb up and down flights of stairs carrying a bag.
  4. I catch commuter trains by the skin of my teeth, throwing them this way and that. ( Yes. I’m kidding. )
  5. I climb up and down steep, dangerous stairs among a crowd of other death marchers.
  6. I walk 12.785647 minutes to work.
  7. I drag a wheeled bag behind me as I cross streets, dodge other pedestrians.
  8. I undergo severe stress testing all day surviving on a single cup of dark roast coffee.
  9. I walk 12.785647 minutes to the station.
  10. I climb the steepest, narrowest stairs to the train platform.
  11. I ride home on the train.
  12. I stare at the ceiling for 3.986643 hours
  13. I repeat steps 1-10 the next day.
  14. I teach for 4.4637 hours on Saturday afternoons.
  15. I stare at chores for 12.5857 hours on Sunday.
  16. I go back to step 1.

Notice, what’s missing from that list? Exactly! No writing time. No time for you. No time for pandering to the polity that politely passes-up the possible pleasure of perusing posts such as this. In the interest of fairness and full disclosure I should mention that I have exaggerated a bit. It doesn’t actually take 12.785647 to walk between the station and work. It’s only 11.9863 minutes.

I’m hoping that my disarming honesty will charm you into wastin… I mean, indulging me a little.

For I have an announcement to make. Very soon now, you will be able to look for this on Amazon.

(c) Ajesh Sharma

Yes. True fact! I cannot tell a lie. I wrote a play and it will be available on Amazon as an e-book very soon.

How soon, you ask? Soon. As soon as I can read each stage direction and edit and re-edit for the 45th time.

What’s it about?

Ok. This is how it goes. Alex and Phyllis are estranged, middle-aged couple, who have never divorced. He moved away to the other end of the country. Ten years have gone by. They have two children. Mark is now married. Andrea is engaged and is planning her wedding. Phyllis calls Alex to say she is coming to visit him. The curtain goes up as he prepares for her arrival. What happens next? Do they resolve their differences? What do the kids think of all this? What about Linda, Alex’s agent?

And what happens at the end? You can help me decide. Vote below and tell me what you think happens when the curtain falls. Gives me your best guesses and wildest endings!

#ACoupleofChoices

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Right Hand Man – Chapter 3


The heavy black car eased slowly down the street. Fatty craned his neck left and right to inspect the houses as he steered the car. Beside him, Goon sat impassively in the passenger seat.

“Not the most upscale neighborhood, Chief.”, remarked Fatty.

“Don’t call me chief.”, Goon stared straight ahead.

“Ok, Boss!”

“And don’t call me Boss.”

Fatty looked over at him. Goon stared ahead, his face expressionless. Fatty refused to turn away until Goon shifted and shot a quick glance at him.

“Ok, Chief. Where are we now? The building should be here somewhere.”

“Turn right, up ahead, not the next one, the one after that. It should be just around the corner.”

Fatty drove the car up to the corner and made a careful turn, coming to a stop just short of a set of steps leading up to a double door. Goon promptly undid his seat belt with a sigh. For a moment the two of them sat and peered at the entrance to the block of flats. The wood of the door had long ago lost its polish. Years of neglect and weather had stripped the veneer off the surface, with worn spots around the handle showing the lack of care. The glass on the left hand pane had a large long crack running from the top left to the bottom right where it ended in a splatter of shattered glass. Two small slivers were missing. The brass door handles hadn’t seen any polish for a while. The grime and dust of the ages had dulled the metal into a filthy finish.

They stepped out of the car, Goon heaving himself out with a whooshing grunt and inspected the building and the street in which they stood. The building was eight stories tall. The windows on the right hand side of the sixth floor were the only ones that were shut. They were also the only ones that were not in a state of abject neglect. On the 7th floor directly above the good windows, the window on the left was actually hanging by one hinge with the glass panes were missing.

Goon made a grunting noise. Fatty looked at him.

“You say something, Chief?”

Goon cleared his throat in a rasping, rumbling manner and spoke.

“Doesn’t look like anyone looks after the building. Are you sure this is the right address.?”

Fatty took out his notebook and flipped over the pages. He nodded.

“Yep, this is the place alright. I wonder why it hasn’t been condemned yet.”

Down the street, a group of children were sitting on the steps of another building, one that looked only marginally better maintained.

“What’s wrong with those kids? “, Goon muttered.

There was definitely something odd about the group. For one, they were not playing or talking. There was no movement from them. They just turned and stared at the two policemen with unflinching stares. The tallest of them was also the skinniest. He looked like an elongated ten year old. For a few moments both groups stared at each other. Then, casually and slowly, the skinny young man walked towards Goon and Fatty. Fatty sensed rather than saw Goon stiffen next to him. The rest of the group of children followed their leader, staying a step or two behind him.

The thin boy walked up to the car and slowly ran his hand over the bonnet. He peered into the car, ignoring both men with insolent and exaggerated deliberation. The rest of his gang stopped short of the car, watching warily as the gang leader sauntered up to Fatty, looked him up and down and stopped at Goon.

“What’s the matter, laddie?”, Goon was at his growliest best, “you never see a car before?”

The youth didn’t answer, but just stared at him. Goon stared right back.

“You’re cops.”

“Yes. And you better watch it. You don’t want to be arrested for vagrancy and loitering.”

“What you here for?”

“None of your business, laddie. You just clear orf now, see?”

“You here to see the old hag? She’s batty.”

“I’m going to give you 30 seconds to clear orf before I arrest the whole lot of you for impeding an officer in the conduct of his duty.”

The youth took a step back and looked from Goon to Fatty and back again.

“Which one of you is in charge?”

Fatty said, “Now, look here, kid..”

Goon cut him off. He stepped toward the boy and his thick finger stopped 3 inches from the gang leader’s chest.

“You! Step away! You want me to arrest you for obstructing the law?”

Goon’s voice was firm and loud. His neck was thrust forward in a pugnacious display of authority. For a moment the big Detective Sergeant and the young boy stood frozen. Goon, a big giant, towered over the skinny lad. Fatty stepped towards the gang, who scattered and hastily beat a retreat. Goon and the gang leader were still staring at each other. Finally, the boy turned slowly on his heel and walked back to his gang, who had taken up station again at the original spot. They watched sullenly as Goon stood watching them. Then he turned and stumped up the stairs. Fatty followed, with his head turned to watch the kids.

Goon stopped at the door and asked “What’s the name of the lady?”

“Mrs. Miller. Been in the same flat for 54 years, she says. Must be in her 80s I think.”

Goon opened the door and stepped into a dark foyer. One lonely electric bulb hung from a wire high up in the ceiling, giving off just enough light to show the old oak staircase. Worn and creaky, one or two spindles missing, a couple cracked.

Goon looked up and asked “Which floor?”

“Sixth, I’m afraid, Chief. You’ll do fine. Take your time.”

“Don’t patronize me, young man!”

“Sorry Chief! Shall we go up and meet the lovely Mrs Miller?

Goon sighed and started up the stairs, with Fatty behind.

Right Hand Man – Chapter 2


<Looking for Chapter 1? Click this.>

Fatty walked in to the office to see Goon already there.

“Good morning, Chief! You’re up early!”, he said.

Goon gave a grunt and waved him over to his desk.

“This computer thing is very confusing”.

“Oh, it just needs getting used to. Give it a week and you’ll be teaching me tricks”, laughed Fatty.

Goon gave him a look.

“You’ve grown up. Become more of a Continue reading “Right Hand Man – Chapter 2”

Right Hand Man – Chapter 1


English: London
English: London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The phone rang and Goon picked it up.

“Detective Sergeant Goon? This is Gwen from Superintendent Johns’ office. The Super would like to meet you at 11 today. Would you please come around to my office around by 10:55. The Super does not like to be kept waiting. Thanks”

Goon replaced the phone and shifted uneasily in Continue reading “Right Hand Man – Chapter 1”

The Angler on the Credit


<I met a fisherman on a cold autumn evening by the river side. I was preparing to leave and he was just settling in for a night of fishing. We got talking. His story was very simple. He was a taxi driver, uprooted from his native Bangladesh and transplanted thousands of miles away in chilly Canada. This is his story.>

Serenity. Original Photo (c) Ajesh Sharma
Serenity. Original Photo (c) Ajesh Sharma

It hadn’t always been thus, but Farook was happy now. He hadn’t been happy in the past, back when he lived with his mother, father and his younger sister and brother. He knew that now. Old enough to go on the daily fishing trip with his father, the fishing trip that cut his hands and wore out his muscles, the fishing trip that gave them their daily meagre earnings, Farook had known hunger and hard work. He’d been Continue reading “The Angler on the Credit”