I had some short stories, poems and photographs to share ... and so here I am

A Shameless Short Story

 
 
Sam Maliko's Extra Good Times.
 
 
He wondered what he would say to the nursing staff if they asked about the cumbersome package he’d left the day before. They’d almost certainly be talking about it; it would probably be on their list of the strangest things ever brought in for someone in oncology. Had the old man explained it? Would he even remember what they were? The phone crackled through to the ward.

‘Whole lot better today, Mr. Maliko. Bit of a bumpy old night but sleeping like a baby now.’

He accepted the nurse’s familiar tone with the family now. They all had to. Her low, pastoral voice was now more important than any other in their lives. In just a few weeks she’d become a crucial branch in their wilting family tree, gently bringing them closer to the truth that autumn that year would be impossible to escape.

‘Has he opened the package I left for him yesterday?’

‘Oh, let me see.’ She shuffled down the corridor with the cordless phone, pulling the odd curtain back along the way, saying ‘how ya doin’ my lovely?’ to some of those desperate for her comfort. She never apologised for taking her time. ‘People ought to go forth in life with the conviction of someone who has all the time in the world,’ she’d once told the family.

As he waited, blowing out perfect circles of blue smoke, he wondered if he should ask for the latest results.

She came back on the line and chuckled. ‘Not even opened it yet, honey. Still all wrapped up in that dull grey paper you brought it in. You want me to rip it open?’

‘No, no … leave it like it is. He’ll open it when he wakes.’

* * *

They stayed up until just before midnight creating the labels, trying to see if they could match the style of those on real soda bottles. The father and son could be noisy and rash when mother was out of town, spreading their mess out into several rooms. They could even sit on the floor of the parlour in paper hats, singing Indian songs at the top of their voices, their shirts not tucked in, free of their shoes and socks.

Young Sam had his favourite colour poised. ‘What are we going to call it?’

‘Whatever you want. These are your very own bottles.’

‘OK then … Sam Maliko’s Soda!’ he roared, standing up straight to inspect the dozen brown bottles that surrounded him.

His father laughed, quickly grabbing hold of his pipe as it fell from between his teeth. ‘But these aren’t for soda, my boy. These are special, for filling up with extra good times. We need to make sure you’ve got some spare for later in life when you might need them.’

‘But what about the soda?’

‘Don’t you worry, there’ll be plenty of soda.’ He flicked a match and then sucked in as he relit his pipe. He then spat out several times, trying to dislodge a small piece of tobacco stuck on his lip. ‘But good times? Now that’s something very easy to run out of. Once we’ve got these filled up we can store them in the garage, so they’re always there if you need them.’

Young Sam stood there in deep thought, eyeing the labels, as his father put down his pipe and measured out some shiny silver paper.

‘It needs to be catchy, son. Something you’ll remember.’

After a minute or two of silence Sam burst out, ‘I’ve got it! Sam Maliko’s Extra Good Times!’

‘Perfect,’ said his father, winking as he nodded. ‘You just never know when you might need them.’



© Copyright, 2007. Seamus Kearney.

19 comments:

Susan Abraham said...

Hi Shameless,
Delighted to see you had a short story on. A real treat. :-)
Enjoyed the read.
Liked the way you styled your dialogue & the careful way you employed them.
Also, intrigue peppered into this episode, made for a lively interest. :-)

Susan Abraham said...

Gosh Shameless! You paint?
Now I'm really going to faint!
*Admiring while swooning*

Shameless said...

Thanks Susan,
I'm supposed to be making more of an effort this year to paint some more. But you know how it is ... such a lot to do, such little time.
:)
P.s I tried to leave a message on your blog yesterday, but couldn't find any button that would let me do it. It was probably just my late night thickness!

jason evans said...

I really liked the premise of the story. Very poignant without overdoing it.

Susan Abraham said...

Hi again Shameless,
Blogger's pretty much faulty these days.
Frankly, I don't see any difference between the old and new except that risky things like the templates/edits and such, are saved much quicker.

I'm still mooning & swanning over your pics. My favourite is The First Nine Months. :-)

Shameless said...

Susan,
I'm glad the pics have caused you to moon and swan. These were published ages ago on my blog, but I thought it would be nice to give them a permanent home together. :)
The first nine months is also my favourite. :)

Minx said...

I really liked this one, nicely done, Shameless.
Also approving of the blog make-over. Nothing like a bit of a change, I always say!

nmj said...

hey shameless, this is a quickie - as usual, i am cooking & blogging & burning garlic (perils of having your laptop in kitchen) - wow, i love your paintings, i want BELONGING for my living room!

Shameless said...

Minx,
You're a darling. I thought about colour changes, but I'm not good with change all at once! :)

NMJ,
You've made me hungry! I'm glad you like 'belonging'. It hangs above my computer! :)

Shameless said...

Hey,
Speaking of short stories, don't forget to enter the contest over at The Moon Topples. There is a link in my side bar! :)

Atyllah said...

Lovely, poignant story but without going over the top. Nicely restrained. Well done.

And LOVE the paintings!

Shameless said...

Thank you, Atyllah,

I thought the paintings could add some colour to the blog. :)

Susan Abraham said...

Hi Shameless,

I'm so sorry for having hogged your comment box this time round.
Just that I thought if I responded to your comment here, the chances of you reading it would be much higher. :-)

I had actually closed the comments box for some posts including The Silent Game because I thought no one would be interested in commenting.

But I won't do that in future. :-)
I think the key is always to just look for 'Post a comment' I guess.

I'm afraid my blog is hardly the inner circle you mentioned. The truth is that it very much the unlit corner that someone had recently described it to be, if you still remember. I mean, that sort of just drove the point home. And it wasn't so bad when I accepted the reality of it. :-)

But thanks for coming all the same
much appreciated.

Shameless said...

Susan,
Inner circle, outer circle, big circle, small circle, square circle, no matter ... you've created a nice place to hang out! :)

Now that my techno thickness has lifted, I shall be commenting more on your blog when things move me. :)

Unlit corner? I don't remember hearing that. Still, unlit corners can be cosy and intimate. You're also saving valuable energy, which is good in the fight against global warming! :)

Susan Abraham said...

ok, I'm smiling now! :-)

The Moon Topples said...

Shameless: I've read this story several times now. I thought I had already told you I liked it, but I suppose I only meant to. However, upon reflection, I think my constantly stopping by and validating you might make you soft one day, so maybe from now on, I'll just tell you when I don't like a story.

So, it's likely you'll never hear from me again.

I like the paintings a lot. You seem to have had a style breakthrough somewhere around the millennial celebration. I like the new stuff tremendously. I want them in my home.

I bet you can't sculpt worth a damn. As you've already wowed us with music, writing and now fine art, I feel there must be an area in which you suck.

I need to believe this.

Shameless said...

Moon,
Whew! :) Thank you. I'm glad you like the paintings and stories so far. :)

However, I'm sure the day will come when you don't like something I've done, and I expect you to say so! :) I am totally OK about this. I put my stuff out there for honest feedback. Really!

A month or two back I got very mixed reactions when I posted a sex scene from my novel - good comments and bad - and it was wonderful to digest it all (Slap and Tickle In Novels, Nov 30, 2006.) I thought people might just turn a blind eye or just say it was wonderful. The comments came in thick and fast and it was great to get honest opinions.

It is always difficult commenting on people's work in the blogosphere; we don't know how people are going to take things. Some people don't dare say anything critical for fear of upsetting a blogging buddy. Others just pick out the good things to say and don't talk about the things they don't like.

Your comment here probably warrants a whole separate post, because I'm sure many bloggers face the dilemma you talk about.

Moon, I still want to hear from you often, however! :) So just just knock that idea on the head!

P.S I'm sure I would suck when it comes to sculpting. Although, I've never really tried! :) I just get the feeling I wouldn't be very good though.

Susan Abraham said...

The comments came in thick and fast and it was great to get honest opinions.

Just wondered about these lines, Shameless. I think whenever I've commented, even if I've chosen to say the things I liked about your work, they were never superficial or flattery but always honest sincere remarks. Otherwise, I wouldn't say anything really. :-)

Shameless said...

And appreciated they are, Susan. :)