The International Writers Magazine: Glittering Prize litter

Chips off the Block
Mark Cunliffe

Guy Block hated every other weekend.
For it was on such occasions when Guy had to do the parent thing.

Nothing Ever Goes Right for
Guy Block

Let's get this clear, Guy is married, not divorced. But for some long ago and now unfathomable reasons he no longer lives with the woman he wed way back in the early 80's. An action which, it must be said was undertaken for now unfathomable reasons also.

And so early one Saturday morning Guy headed out of the safe leafy environs of academic life mentally preparing himself for the leafy suburban war zone that is his domestic set up to collect the children and face up to his wife. Alone with his thoughts Guy pondered optimistically that the day would go well.

On such clear and crisp early mornings with hardly a soul about and only the roar of the MG and the music of Focus for company, Guy would wonder the mysteries of the universe and would later come to the much held conclusion,
God was definitely sleeping in that morning.
For nothing ever goes right for Guy Block.
That is the one certain thing in the universe.

The early indicator was stepping out of the MG and into a large and unforgiving dog turd.
Ah and here is the melodious French accent of the woman Guy took for his wife calling across to him in greeting. "Clean that up before you step in here!"
Francine Block, feminist and French.
Guy wondered if God ought to buy a new alarm clock.
"Yes dearest" he replied before going at his shoes with a clump of grass.
At the door behind him Guy could hear giggles.
Ah the children.
Guy finished his task and turned to greet them.
The giggling stopped and Guy was treated to his usual greeting in return.
The sight of two identical twins, boy and girl, turning their heads to one side in unison like an uncertain dog. And with that, Jeremy and Jemima Block ran from the doorstep back into the hall, leaving Guy to trundle in after them, the fruit of his loins.

Guy was never entirely sure what to make of his children. They were either very silent or asked far too many questions of him. Now as he took tea with Francine, they were indulging in the former. They were packing their lunch and assorted things into knapsacks without a glance at the objects or the sacks. Instead they were content to stare at daddy from beneath their matching helmets of blonde pudding bowl hai r- a Block family trait that brought back unwanted memories of Guy’s own hideous childhood- their clear bright blue eyes unblinking and harsh and, despite being their daddy, Guy had to admit it, too damn far apart for comfort.
You could land a helicopter on the gap between each eye, Guy had often thought.

"Jeremy, wipe your nose" Francine ordered and the boy Block magically reversed a trail of green slime back up his left nostril with a sniff so stomach churning that Guy immediately stopped eating his Bath Oliver and Jemima began to giggle.
"Where would you like daddy to take you today children?" asked mummy, lighting up a Gauloises.
"Yes where?" Guy asked with attempted good humour.
"Not particularly bothered" came the simultaneous reply that Guy expected, for he knew they had now reached that difficult age, an age that left them with the all empowering decadent, elegantly wasted, ‘life is oh so tedious’ attitude that comes when you reach the milestone that is... 8 years and three quarters.
An age where Guy could take them to the moon and beyond, show them the eight wonders of the world, have them meet Harry Potter in the flesh and overdose them on LSD and still when asked what they thought of their day their attitude of such amazing events would be the same…
That it was nothing to text home about.

Guy foresaw this whole apathy in his children when at their 7th birthday party they proclaimed they had a migraine and that they grew tired of celebrating. A migraine? Jesus, Guy waited ‘til he was 24 before he suffered his first migraine and even then he could not be certain if it was one, it may just have been a hangover.

Guy had once harboured hopes that the twins were not his, however these hopes were crushed once they arrived into the world as blonde as he was and probably just as annoying as he had been during the precocious, pre-pubescent period. Instead Guy simply had to admit that they were his and that the results of their abnormality was clearly down to his glum and Gallic wife demanding children at the ridiculous ages of 41 for her and 47 and a bit for him.

It must be admitted that these two specimens of antiquated Block love were clearly treading water open mouthed at the shallow end of the gene pool.
"Merde" Mrs Block muttered silently, "Guy can you come into the kitchen please? Dahlinks stay here for a moment and play nice."

Guy followed her out before pausing briefly to consider patting his twins on the head, at the last minute he decided against it, he was sure Francine had mentioned an outbreak of nits in her last email.
Once in the kitchen the following exchange occurred between Jeremy and Jemima.
Jeremy; " Do you think Mummy is a Froggy Dyke, Jemima?"
Jemima; "Why do you say that Jeremy?"
Jeremy; "I did not, I am merely repeating what Daddy called her in his last email, Jemima"
Jemima; "Oh yes, now I remember. Do you think Daddy is an adulterous bastard then, Jeremy?
Jeremy: "Probably, Jemima"
Jemima; "Yes you’re probably right, Jeremy"
Out of the mouths of babes.

Meanwhile in the kitchen, Guy looked at his wife as she poured another strong cup of black coffee and thought back to the heady days he first met her on the academic scene in the mid 70's. How she, this radical feminist firebrand Sociology student from France had captured his heart with tales of being at the front line in student demo’s in Paris and how she would become an important lecturer one day and change the world. Guy at that time was going through a political phase and wore a pathetic straggly blonde Zapata moustache and he was hooked.

Now as the sunlight shone in from the rather apt French windows Guy could see that a far more impressive Zapata moustache was growing on Francine and he was no longer as hooked as he once was.
"You must take them somewhere Guy, and somewhere nice yes? Not the bloody zoo again"
Ah yes, the zoo, staple of all part time dads. Well that and McDonalds.
Though Guy could not take them to McDonalds, the little buggers were vegans.
"They hate the zoo, they are overdosed on the zoo, you have taken them so many times now they remember when half the animals were mere eggs"
"Ok, ok, not the zoo." Guy replied.
"And take them out for at least four hours. I have my ‘Women lecturers' against Bush’ meeting today, remember?"
How ironic thought Guy, a room full of the butchest group of lesbians this side of Holloway Prison all against Bush?

Finally the children and Guy were ready to go and the dilapidated 2CV that Francine had owned since they first met was wheeled out to take them out, for Francine hated Guy’s MG.
"Goodbye dahlinks" Francine waved from the doorway
"Get into the car, sprogs," ordered Guy.

The destination was the park a mere forty minutes away. It wasn’t quite the spot Guy had in mind, but he had all he could take of the Alanis Morrisette tape that was a permanent fixture of the 2CV’s tape deck.
"The park?" the twins derided
"Yes the park, its fun?" said Guy, knowing they would disagree.
"The park is crappy" said Jeremy
"Double crappy" countered Jemima
"Pants" said Jeremy
"Pant-O-Rama" opined his sister.

You see?
God you really need to wake up now.
At least Gregory Peck only had one Damien to cope with in The Omen. Guy Block has two of the blighters.
What is 666 times 2?
Trouble, that’s what.

And Guy had just stepped into another dog turd.
After a while Guy had persuaded both children to play on the slides and roundabouts and despite scaring of most children around them, a particular knack they seemed to take great enjoyment out of, all was going well. So well in fact that Guy bumped into an old student of his, also out with his child.
"Professor Block, remember me?" asked the man.
Of course Guy remembered him, it was Dean Davison, a good student who had gained a good degree and if Guy remembered rightly the best supplier of grass Trenton University ever had.
"What do you do now?" Guy asked.
"Same as ever, I deal drugs."
"But you got a first?"
"Yeah, but there’s more money in this."

How true.
Sometime later Guy set off back home with the twins and with some grass purchased. The children arrived home, slightly less glum looking as usual and perching on the settee began to munch on their fish fingers and chips in stereo.
"Did you have a good time?" asked Francine as Guy was about to leave
"Oh yes" both kids replied in unison between munching mouthfuls
"We went to the park…" started Jeremy
"…And played on the swings…" said Jemima
"…And the slides…" countered Jeremy
"…And the roundabouts…" opined Jemima
"…And on the grass…" uttered Jeremy
Munch, munch
"And then daddy bought some grass from some man," they both completed.
Heads to one side, uncertain in one swift and unanimous motion they swallowed their fish finger and asked with an evil glint in their eyes; "What’s grass mummy?"
And with that Guy Block was gone.

© Mark Cunliffe November 2006

Until next time:
More adventures with Guy Block here
Block Head
Writer's Block

Memory Block
Soviet Block

More new Fiction in Dreamscapes


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