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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2242817
... the first eighteen didn't work out?!? Writer's Cramp birthday contest Jan 27

"Hey, BAZ! BAZ? Anyone home?" Joe had no qualms about putting his head around the unlocked flyscreen door, seeing the main door was wide open. Baz rarely locked it since he lost Mandy, often saying, 'somethin' s gonna get me someday. Maybe it'll be some sort of crim… whatever, beats dying for years in God's waiting room in an old folks' joint.' Joe smirked. More likely to kill them with fright, the way he looks with his teeth out. .. or have them helpless, doubled up with laughter over his 'mucked up' words.

"Up 'ere, Joe! In me bed!"

"What the… ?? What the hell is the matter with you THIS time?"

"Another bloody nerve broke down, that's wot the quack said."

"Sheesh! Another nervous breakdown, you say? How many times is that now? I swear I've lost count."

"Ahh, don't be fretting yerself, Joe. I've been workin' it out while I woz layin' 'ere, nursing the poor wee broken thing." He stretched his arm out to his bedside table where a creased notepad, grotty pages curled up at the corners, lay in between a mess of girlie magazines.

Good grief, he CAN write.Uhrr, don't think I'll have a try reading it, though. Imagine HIS writing would be strictly for his eyes (and questionable brain) ONLY! Out loud, Joe said, "See your first aid on your glasses is still holding, hey?"

Turning them every which way, Baz thumbed the bandaged bridge, unsuccessfully pressing down a lifting edge. With a self-righteous expression and a nod, he perched his glasses on his bulbous nose.Thumbing through a couple of pages, he poked his finger at one entry after another. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Joe could glimpse some lines that held no more than a single word; others a rough, scrawly looking almost paragraph-ish; and then there were dates of sorts... well, the year anyway.

Hoisting himself higher on his grotty pillow, snorting disgustingly loud with the effort, the lopsided glasses got a push higher on his nose, as well. "I woz reckonin' on about 13, but that's a bit of a worry. Unlucky number, yer know? Woke me in the middle of the night, straight up after me bladder called. Found meself disrememberin' a few more, and struth… got to bloody 19, without a word of a lie. Tell yer, mate—coulda knocked me over with a feather. 19!" He added a massive sigh, obviously determined, as usual, to 'milk' the moment for every last drop of pathos before continuing, "Got me wonderin' Joe. You got the 'smarts', man. You might know...?"

This should be good, knowing Baz! Let's face it... if I REALLY had the 'smarts' as he says, I surely wouldn't be here.

"There's a coupla sumthin's I can't work out. I tried, but I figgered I best not overdo that thinkin' stuff in case I 'do in' another nerve. See, wot I dunno is if I started out breaking just one nerve, and then each next time, I busted another? And now I'm up to nineteen to match me breakdownage rate?"

Ohh please God… help me not to roll my eyes or snort or snowk or suck my mouth in tight to stop the words he DOESN'T want to hear. Sheesh! He's drawing breath for more before I can even answer that lot!

"…an' I woz worried. Other breaks 'ave to be plastered. Wot about nerves? I mean, I could get 'plastered' but I dunno if that fixes nerves. Wotcha reckon? And while we're on the subject, how many nerves d'ya reckon a feller has, anyway? Yer'd figger I'd be flat out like a lizard drinkin' by now, with all that broken stuff inside o' me? Hey Joe? Wotcha say?"

"STOP! And try to listen old mate. I can't possibly answer all that without a bit of 'think time' of my own. Will you give me that much?"

With a massive sigh, Baz slumped down in his bed again, the familiar 'hang-dog' expression back on his face. "Same old, same old," he said, with a great snorting sniff to match the award-winning sigh. "Mandy used to reckon I was a HYPER COUNTRY ACT!"


"Yair… I don't get it either. I never acted anywhere, city or country. Dunno wot she meant."

Acting the bloody fool, that's what she meant. NOBODY does it better, let's face it. You're more than a little 'hyper' at that!. "You're a silly old bugger, Baz. NEVER get your words right. You gotta stick with the little words, matey. That's the thing to do." Joe paused, closing his eyes and shaking his head as he sighed. "By the way… minor detail, but it's HYPOCHONDRIAC she used to call you! Can't you see it's too big a word for you?"

"Ohh bugger me dead. A man's a loser at every turn. Some days I reckon I'd be better off not trying to edjercate meself. Mebbe I'm wearing the old nerves thin, yer know, 'to the bone' sorta thing? Mebbe that's why they keep breakin? Hey Joe? Wotcher reckon?"

"What do I reckon? In the absence of your doctor, I'll tell you what I reckon. Get yourself out of bed, up and dressed and let's go play a round of golf and pay some serious attention to another nineteen of far greater importance… THE NINETEENTH HOLE… OK?!?

(895 words)
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