View Full Version : My humble offering. Some language and taboo issues.

February 28th, 2014, 07:48 PM
I have a skin as thick as a politicians expense account. If you are kind enough to read my efforts please do NOT worry about offending me. If it is rubbish, I would much rather know, I simply won't be offended.

I have pleasure in introducing you to Geoffrey.

Chapter one.

Angel’s affair.

If you asked Geoff, which no one had ever done, he would tell you, at great length, just why he didn’t deserve to be dead! It wouldn’t make any difference if you listened, or not, for Geoff was about as dead as they come. He would tell you that he was 42. He didn’t drink much, just socially was how he described his drinking, strange really, coming from one of the least sociable people you would be likely to meet. When he again told you that he was 42, he would be waiting for you to come back with such a gem as “Really, you don’t look it!” He would tell you he had just done his ‘big shop’ for the month. Things like shopping were so important in what had been Geoff’s life. It had after his last ‘incident’ took him a good few days to pluck up the courage just to visit his local shop. If you look around where you live, there will be a Geoff or two nearby. Keeping to Geoff’s self! Precise in dress but style lobotomised. Look for the kipper tie with jeans and a shirt that clashed. Shoes, shoes always shoes, never trainers, shoes, Scuffed and with laces splitting apart like angry worms, you know that if they ever escaped the eyelets it would be nothing less than a full mornings work for Geoff to get them tamed enough to bend to his will and go back into place.

Work is another thing for Geoff. Since his last incident he had no job to go to, yet was still up, bed made, dressed in his view, ‘smartly’ – He was if you consider someone who has covered themselves in Velcro and rolled around the storeroom of a charity shop “smart!” Without fail, Geoff was ready to face a day of nothing by 7.15. This he did without an alarm clock too.

He took care of his hygiene though; Geoff was not vain enough to do anything about his greying hair. He brushed it daily and washed it every other night. He alternated, shower (hair wash) one night, bath (no hair wash!) the next. Teeth cleaned twice a day. Pyjamas changed each week and sheets changed every two. Geoff was no slacker (in his mind.)

He often laid out his clothes the night before. Trousers were always good for two weeks wear. Shirts were changed every three days, unless a spill upset his routine. He tried to eat carefully but sometimes Geoff’s hands shook. He knew that getting excited around meal times was not good for his cardio-vascular system so tried to make each mealtime a journey of splendid isolation, each forkful of his badly cooked often pre-prepared food making its way to his mouth with the studied preparation of a scientist handling dangerous substances. Geoff was not a man made of shirts he often said to himself, three were plenty if he took care. Both his ties were jealously guarded, tucked in to the gap between his two top buttons each time he ate.

Geoff watched the local news at 6 each evening but had long got out of the habit of watching the national and international news, if it didn’t happen in Stowdrege it might as well not happen.

Geoff had stopped smoking since his incident, he wasn’t sure if it was beating that addiction or just middle aged spread that made his trousers all feel tight.
Just a few days ago, Geoff began the only diet never known to fail. He donated his body to be used as worm food. This is his story, meet Geoff, he has no family or friends to speak of, he is what is best described as “hard work” Will you be his friend? Whatever happens, you will never forget him.
* * *

Chapter Two.

Angel’s Afar

“You won’t see harps or clouds dotted around here, forget all the bullshit they told you on the earthly plain. You will be with me for quite a while, there is no hurry is there? You are here for eternity, which as you know, is a bloody long time, so, don’t be waiting for wings and halo’s you won’t be getting them. You have snuffed it, this white fluffy cloud and peace and love crap you were led to believe was waiting for you doesn’t wash here. Yes you lucky souls are in heaven, you made it. It will feel like hell though. We run things as a business here and we haven’t got time to molly-coddle you about the shock of dying. That was the last time you will take such a little step. Now the hard work starts. No point asking me questions, you just won’t understand the answers. You will go for dinner now, eating is not one of the requirements here; however it helps you in the first few…. However you want to measure time, it doesn’t matter….. It keeps your connection, so eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you will still be dead!” Said Marcus, who wore a badge identifying himself as “the duty greeter” The nine bemused souls, just looked shocked. Was this a dream seemed to be the general consensus.

It didn’t seem to meet anyone’s conception of the afterlife. High rise buildings, men is suits, road works and skateboarding kids, the few people, if they were people as such, seemed to be lost in their own worlds. If Geoff did not feel so out of place, he would have loved to have stopped and watched, he was sure that was Ghandi, it looked like he was involved in a debate with what looked like a knight in armour. “Perhaps there is a fancy dress theme going on?” Geoff mumbled. “Aye, said one of his stern faced companions, “Or Ghandi and that Knight are also a bit dead and live here too ya daft git!”

Geoff felt a cold dread come over him, he shuddered. “What is the matter, yes you, what is the problem?” shouted Marcus from the front of the line that they had subconsciously fell into. “Me?” stammered Geoff? “Yes, what is the matter?” enquired Marcus, in a voice the closest to kindness that Geoff had heard since arriving. “I errrrr, I don’t know,” he stammered, “Someone walked over my grave?” Marcus nodded “Yes, disrespectful fuckers, that takes some getting used to.” He slowed down and fell into step with Geoff. “Of course, I have a proper grave now, but at first, just shoved in that pub cellar buggers were always walking over my resting place. Could have killed them but I will get em soon enough. I never forget a face, even a missing one!” laughed Marcus!

Poor Geoff, if this is heaven, hell must be beyond human comprehension, he said to himself. Marcus coughed. “After you have eaten, you will be introduced to your guidance angel, bloody waste of time if you ask me, then I will explain about hell and arrange the tour for you all.”

The views were spectacular, Geoff thought as he absentmindedly drummed his fingers on the table, laden down with a mixture of fruit, flavoured water, exotic flowers and a menu the size of a phone book. You could see the whole of the world lazily rotating, such a tiny dot in the cosmos. Geoff thought of his town. He had never forgotten Stowdredge but since arriving here had not really paused for thought, he couldn't remember when he last went to the loo if he was honest. Not that he had seen a toilet, that would be a question for the Guardian Angel he was about to meet. Now Geoff had a dilemma, what on earth was he to order? Bacon butties followed by a Victoria Sponge in Custard would hit the spot!

After ordering, he decided for the first time to get to know the other eight souls he had arrived here with.
He was soon to regret that decision!

February 28th, 2014, 08:10 PM
In reading this I'm very much reminded of the final chapter of "The History Of The World in 10 1/2 Chapters" by Julian Barnes, and a terrific little book called "Sum: Forty Tales From The Afterlives by David Eagleman. Maybe these will give you some inspiration for taking this further. I really like it BTW


February 28th, 2014, 08:16 PM
Thank you Kepharel, I have not read either of the books you mention. I will make a point of doing so.

March 3rd, 2014, 08:48 PM
I really like this and I love the way in which you've portrayed the character of Geoff; he is really brought to life (or death) through the little hints towards his routine and mannerisms etc.
There are a couple of things that I'll mention but I think they're just down to personal preference. First of all, I think that the exclamation mark is a little overused in the passage; in small doses, it certainly adds character to the narrative voice, which is very refreshing, but if it is used as much as above, I feel a little... I don't know, perhaps 'patronised' is a bit strong but something along those lines. This links with my other point that I was a little confused as to the use of rhetorical question at the end of chapter one as it is reminiscent of a children's bed time story... It may be that this is the intended effect but I did find it a big contrast to the use of profanity in chapter two where it is a lot more adult and I'm not entirely sure that it is a contrast that works to the story's advantage.

Other than those pedantic points, however, I did enjoy reading the excerpt and I hope that you continue to post updates for it as I'd like to catch up with Geoff and how he copes with his new 'life' in Heaven. Also, Marcus is brilliantly bitter and it's a great subversion to the usual 'greeting at the pearly gates' scenario :)

March 10th, 2014, 01:56 PM
I have purposely not edited this work, though I have taken on board the comments about the exclamation marks, as up to now, I am about 50,000 words in, I thought get it finished and then do the major rewrite, edit, throwing in the bin bit!

The devil in me makes me post more!

Chapter Three.

Angel’s Adrift

Geoff met his own idea of hell, spending eternity with these people, spirits, things, whatever the hell they were now. Dave, Mo, Shane, “Call me Lofty!” and Brenda, Gilly, Achmed, and Noreen. They had nothing in common. Geoff really did not want to talk to them but no chance now of avoiding that for the one question he was determined to avoid reared its head and butted him right in the voice box. “How did you die Geoff?”

Geoff really didn’t want to get into this subject, he wasn’t sure that killers like him were actually meant to be in heaven. Geoff was hated on earth, or at least people like Geoff were hated. Even in prison, his “home from home” as he liked to call it, Geoff always had to be careful. He was known to be a child abuser, what he wasn’t known as though was a child murderer. How could he explain he had died whilst experimenting with new ways to torture and kill his next victim? He had already planned his next; he could almost taste the sweet victory of taking the walking, talking, thinking, cogent young human being and slowly turning that young person into a pile of bloodied mush.

How could he tell his new associates that he had rigged a car battery to empty its contents into the chosen ones eye. Every twist and turn that the youngster made would tighten the noose. Left on tiptoes, the child could live for hours with the bath water cooling from scalding to cold, making them lift their little feet, slowly choking them. If he had only checked that he was drilling into an RSJ for the hook, not a live bloody cable, he might not be here, answering these questions that could cause him an eternity of trouble.

“I was careless with DIY and electrocuted myself in the bathroom” said Geoff. “I shouldn’t be here; I am 42, far too young to be dead.” He couldn’t stop himself from hungrily following the young girl skipping past the table with his cold grey eyes. Such a relief that the group didn’t notice. The girl did though; she smiled at him, what he always thought of an unintentional “come-hither look.” Damn it, she would have to wait. One of these loony tunes was telling them all about his dodgy ticker. “How could this be heaven?”

Some things just can’t be explained, the feeling of gratitude when a rather trim young lady, hair pulled back into pig tails, just as Geoff would have styled her hair, little round glasses and the tightest little pink gingham dress he could have imagined stood on a table and gave a cute little cough. The incessant noise stopped being incessant. They all looked at her, some expectantly, as she peered over the top of the clipboard that obscured most of her pretty face.

“Hello, thanks for coming, well, that is a bit daft, you didn’t have any choice in that matter” She paused for the expected laugh that did not come. “My name is Tracy Simmonds. I am the senior Guiding Angel responsible for your initiation phase or settling in.” I will get to know you all, secrets will be laid bare and fears extinguished!” Again the expected laughter failed to materialise. “I will errr, allocate you to your mentors shortly but just wanted to say hello to you all and let you know that if you have any questions you can come and see me any time day or day. We did away with night here; we felt that darkness was almost an advert for the other side.” She smiled. To Geoff that smile seemed to be aimed just at him. “Now don’t be anxious about your visit to the other side. We work together on this sort of thing; the other side come here to show their souls that are in eternal torment just what they are missing out on. Now have we all finished eating? I finished eating about 97 years ago, I have never looked slimmer!” We will just get the paperwork out of the way and I will give you the itinerary for the visit and allocate your personal mentors for this trip.” She held out a pack, “Now these are all named and your DOD is clearly marked.” She gestured to a table to her left, “I shall leave them her for you to complete. No point in asking me if you have to go today, I am afraid that the Celestial Court has decried that you must visit the ‘Souls that earned damnation department’ or SODD’s as we call it within 24 earth hours of arriving here.” I will tell you as well that justice here is swift and sometimes seen. You will be visiting the Celestial Court too, not the allocations sittings, that decides if you are SODD’s or not. That is always held in secret. Right fill in those forms and I shall be back in five minutes for you,” She crashed to a sudden stop. Turning bright red she sort of half jumped and half fell from the table. Disappearing quickly through the door that Geoff would have sworn wasn’t there seconds earlier. Oh well, thought Geoff. Out of the Fire into the Fire! If doors could just appear this was the place where that sort of thing could happen, he supposed.

March 10th, 2014, 05:10 PM
I enjoyed this. Very humorous but depressing at the same time.

March 10th, 2014, 05:22 PM
I like it.

March 10th, 2014, 07:02 PM
Chapter one- the exclamation marks have been mentioned, but I feel I must voice my opinion on them anyway. Exclamation marks should never, ever be used outside of dialogue in the style that you are writing in- that is only my opinion but if I see them in a narrative that they don't seem to belong in, I will put down the book. And to date, Frankenstein is the only book I have ever read in which I have found them acceptable.

Next, semicolons- I'd suggest using one in place of the comma before "if it didn't happen in Stowdrege..." and a comma before "it might" in the same sentence, I feel it would read much better.

The final paragraph of chapter one needs a fair bit of polishing, it does not read well but, with the pieces you have there, could easily be made magnificent. I am rather enjoying the tale so far but unfortunately I don't have time to read the rest just now. I think the main thing you need to work on is your punctuation, though commenting on it is making me very conscious of the spotty punctuation in this critique, so I shall end here. To sum up, punctuation could be improved but apart from that, I like it ;)

W M Gardner
June 3rd, 2014, 06:09 AM
I agree, exclamation points can be dangerous when they aren't used in dialogue.

June 25th, 2014, 06:58 PM
I have a skin as thick as a politicians expense account.


Now that's funny. :)