Burdens & Riding With The Wind
A pair of short stories featuring couple Phin and Adam ~
Previously published separately and also as part of the anthology -‘The Corridor and Other Stories’ Revised in this edition.
Phin and Adam are always there for each other in tough times, but harmony isn't always an aspect of their relationship.
In ‘Burdens’ a television reality show spells trouble for Phin. As a consequence his partner and domestic Dom Adam imposes a punishment that Phin finds difficult to deal with.
In ‘Riding With The Wind’ Phin makes an error of judgement that has serious repercussions. Adam has to decide whether the circumstances warrant the use of discipline.
“Cold beer, hot pizza and Saturday night.” Phin gave a happy sigh. “My favourite combination.” He drained the bottle he was drinking from and stood up. “Another beer, Ad?”
“Not yet, and you should slow down. Why do you have to do everything at top speed?
You’re two slices of pizza ahead of me as it is.”
“Drink it cold, eat it hot, and do it fast is my motto in life.”
The television saved Adam from making a pithy reply. The picture suddenly cut out.
“Shit.” Phin stared at the blank screen. “What happened there?”
“I bet the local transmitter has been hit by lightening again. I thought I saw a flicker of it in the sky when I was paying the pizza guy. It’s been threatening to storm all day.” Adam plucked the remote from the coffee table and aimed it at the set, flicking from channel to channel, getting ghostly figures and crackling static on some and nothing at all on others.
“As good a time as any to go to the loo I suppose. I’ll get a beer on the way back. Are you sure you don’t want one?”
Phin went to the bathroom leaving Adam flicking through TV channels.
Walking up the hall on his return from the kitchen, beer in hand, Phin grinned as he heard Adam’s voice filter from the living room.
“What a bloody fool! Honestly, some people.”
There were other sounds too. The TV was obviously working again.
“Who’s a bloody fool?” Phin walked into the room, taking a swig of his beer.
“That berk on the motorbike.” Adam jabbed an irritable finger at the telly screen. “How irresponsible idiots like him get deemed fit to drive in the first place is beyond me. He’s been clocked going over one hundred and forty miles an hour. According to the commentator it’s taken the traffic police more than twenty minutes to get him to pull over. I hope they throw the book at him.”
Phin turned to look at the screen and froze, his blood running colder than the Czech beer he was drinking when he saw the traffic cop reality show Adam was watching. The TV camera was panning in on the bike and its owner as well as the arresting officer walking towards him. He spoke quickly. “Why are you watching this?” He set his beer down on the table. “You hate these programmes. They send your blood pressure up. Turn it off. Where’s the remote.” He scanned around for it, but couldn’t see it.
“It’s the only channel working. It’s this or nothing.” Adam reached for a slice of pizza from the box on the coffee table. He didn’t pick it up. His hand paused in midair. “Good God.”
Riding With The Wind Excerpt:
Nutritionists claimed fruit to be good for you. Sitting in a police station on an uncomfortable plastic chair Phineas was prepared to call the entire concept into question. It hadn’t proven good for him, nor had it proven good for the other person involved in the incident leading him to be sitting on an uncomfortable plastic chair in the police station. He gazed around the grim interior of the interview room, his guts churning with sick nerves. He never thought he’d be in this position again.
He wouldn’t have minded so much, but the fruit in question, an orange, wasn’t even his. A person unknown had left it on the driver’s seat of the car he had been driving. He hadn’t noticed it when he got into the car. He was in too much of a state. Its presence had dawned on him gradually as the journey progressed, becoming a growing discomfort in the region of his lower back. On discovering the source of his coccyx pain his simmering temper had boiled over.
Phin groaned. Leaning forwards over the desk he pressed trembling hands to his face. On reflection it would have been healthier and wiser to eat the bloody orange rather than doing what he did with it. Cold sweat trickled down his back as the incident replayed in his mind. “Fucking idiot.” He cursed himself aloud. “You fucking, fucking idiot. Moron. Cretin. Wanker.” He sat up straight, folding his arms, taking deep breaths in an effort to ward off nausea.
He shouldn’t have been driving at all. Long weeks of emotional stress and a night of dossing down on a grubby bedsit floor had taken a toll on him. He was a strung out wreck with the reflexes of a blancmange. He wasn’t fit to pilot a pushbike, let alone be behind the wheel of a potentially lethal weapon, a stolen one at that. As well as not owning the orange, he didn’t own the car it came partnered with either.
Oh dear God in heaven! Phin leaned forward yet again covering his face with his hands, his hair flopping forwards. What had he done? What had he done? His heart pounded echoing a throbbing refrain in his skull. This was an all time low even for him. He wasn’t a kid any more for Christ’s sake. He was supposed to know better. He was supposed to think before acting.
Andy Blakelock. The name popped into Phin’s mind. Andy fucking Blakelock! This whole thing was his fault, the treacherous bastard. If only he hadn’t met up with him. If only he’d gone home yesterday instead of going to Andy’s place and staying over.