2012 Mardi Gras Short Story Competition – The Interview

Tuesday 6 March 2012

So here’s my other entry in this year’s competition. I’m honest about my work and always knew this wasn’t a strong story – more an excuse to do some very silly jokes – so I was pleasantly surprised it was included in the finals. I thought at the best Highly Commended, and that’s all it got, but I was shocked when. on the day, the other – and I think superior – story was called out for reading first. “Uncle Anthy” is a far better story and – in my opinion – should have placed.

The judges did say that one of the great thing about the competition was the diversity of adaptions to the theme, referring particularly to how my two entries represented that. One of my stories is a serious reminiscence of a respected family member, the other an excuse to do jokes about super heroes and capes. Both, I hope you agree, address the brief being a story based on the theme of “Heroes”. 

I should say that when writing this I kept thinking back to the Playboy mags buried in the back of my Dad’s cupboard (and, to save us some trouble, anyone who’s dad didn’t have Playboys or equivalent buried in the back of his cupboard is a loser) where the “Readers Write” section always began “I’ve read about this sort of thing in your magazine but I never thought it would happen to me.” Deep down, guiltily, I thought my story read a bit like that: a male fantasy about women getting it together.

(Actually, reading that back, to any troubled kids out there, please know that reading your dad’s girly magazines is an OK thing. I used to fantasise about the guy’s cocks. Just remember you’re with friends.)

Talking to the judges afterwards, they told me they had argued over whether this was written by a man or a woman. Both my stories this year were from a woman’s perspective and, to my delight, both were considered stories written by women. Apparently they have this thing about making sure both sexes are represented equally in the awards… it’s sort of nice to fuck with their minds. 

On another note, my Cambridge Satchel as arrived and it is BEAUTIFUL. Negative prize money well worth spent (and it’s a far richer red than photos suggest).

batchel

Enjoy the story.

The Interview

“So,” the first says biting the lid of her pen, “shall we begin?”

The second nods.

“Right then. An orphanage is on fire. A person is seen running away. What do you do?”

The second smiles and takes a deep breath. “I’m so glad you asked me this. This is a situation I’m very familiar with and one where I always follow the golden rule: Orphans First.” The first smiles and begins to scribble on her notebook.

The second continues. “Unfortunately, I’m not blessed with super human strength like some of my … fellow colleagues, but I’ve got something that they don’t have – brains. First thing, ring the fire brigade; sometimes the most sensible option is the most appropriate solution. In addition…” She straightens the pleats of her mini skirt while she collects her thoughts. “In addition, I’d look for a way in to start getting those orphans out. A door’s a good option, even a window. Sometimes a blast has knocked out a wall. Whatever the method I get myself in.”

The first looks up from her notes. “Aren’t you concerned for your own safety?”

The second lifts up a corner of her cape. “See this? Double Spandex coated synthetic vermiculite triple interwoven fibre, this is. It’s great, picked it up on eBay. The flames can be licking at me and I don’t even break a sweat.”

The first pauses in her note taking. “Licking at you, you say?”

The second leans forward in her seat, tilting her head slightly without releasing the first’s gaze. “Without even breaking a sweat.

The first absentmindedly runs her fingers through her auburn tresses. After a moment she drops her glance and focuses back on her notebook. “You’re forgetting something, the person running away.”

The second shrugs. “I leave him –”

“What makes you think it’s a man?” interrupts the first.

“It’s always a man,” the second answers simply.

The first stares back. “Go on.”

The second takes a deep breath before commencing again. “Well, regarding the person running away, I leave him to my superior to deal with. I see this position not so much as sidekick, but as executive assistant.” She gestures towards the first. “It’s your job to catch the baddies, it’s my job to make sure that nothing interferes with you doing yours.”

She smiles at the first and waits patiently. Finally the first says, “That’s an interesting choice of word: superior.”

The second blushes and looks away. “I use the word in its adjectival sense.”

“You think I’m superior?” asks the first, a slight raise of her eyebrow and slight tweak of her lip. “To whom?”

The second gives a little laugh before looking back at the first. “To everyone.

“Oh,” says the first. “I see.” She closes her notebook and sits nibbling unconsciously on her pen. Eventually she continues, “I must say that cape really does suit you.”

The second smiles. “You like?”

“The cut, it’s… becoming.”

The second blushes again. “Thanks. I wasn’t sure about the dress though, thought it might have been a bit tight. What do you think?”

“Oh no, no,” says the first, pressing her teeth down harder on the pen. “It takes someone who’s very sure of themselves to wear Spandex, and I’m sure you’re very sure of yourself.”

The second frowns. “Is that a problem?

“No, says the first throwing down the pen, “far from it.”

The first lets out a sigh and stretches her back cat-like in her chair. She pushes the chair back and stands. “Well, that’s that then.”

“Are we finished?” asks the second, a little concerned, as she stands to greet the first.

“Far from it,” replies the first, “We’ve only just begun.” She takes the second’s hand. “Congratulations. You’re just the ward I’m looking for.”

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2012 Mardi Gras Short Story Competition – Uncle Anthy

Monday 27 February 2012

My second year in entering, two stories submitted and two finalist places. Ninety-eight entries and my two make it into the top nine – that’s pretty good. Unfortunately (it was going so well) I again only managed to make the Highly Commendeds – two out of the three. I will be very honest and say I was very disappointed and a tad upset by this, especially as I felt one of my stories was better than two that placed. To be extra painfully honest I had already spent some of the prize money… DAMN YOU CAMBRIDGE SATCHEL COMPANY!

This year, the task was to write on the theme “Heroes”  in no more than 750 words. Another great and flexible topic, and it was a conversation with The Lovely Benson, when he said a hero could be anything from a superhero to a favourite uncle, that set the trigger in motion for the following story. People always talk about where artists (of any media) get their ideas… I woke one morning and – BAM! – wrote this out pretty much finished. It had a different ending and a few extra bits here and there, but it was pretty much complete. 

Also, I’ve been asked, and this story is no way autobiographical. However, the backyard is the one from my childhood home; I loved that trampoline. 

You can download a PDF booklet of all the winners at the gay-ebooks website here, but please enjoy below my story. I’ll post the second in a day or two. And, as always, for those participating, oh bugger it for everyone, Happy Mardi Gras.

Uncle Anthy

Mum had a brother a few years older than her. Nan said Anthony and Mum were inseparable, the best of friends, fixing her bike, fighting her battles. Once Anthony came home with two teeth missing and his t-shirt splattered with blood – some kid had said something mean to Mum and Anthony went at him. Nan said Anthony always had a big smile but that day it was twice as big and somehow even wider with that great gap in the middle. Lucky they were baby teeth, but he went about with that damaged smile for a year. Still, Anthony was as proud as punch, Nan said, and Mum was in awe of her brother.

I don’t have clear memories of Anthony. He’d moved to Sydney pretty much as soon as able and left the family behind in Dubbo to do whatever it is country folk do.  But I do remember that he always brought me a present – he once gave me a snowdome containing the Sydney Opera House, which made me think Sydney must be a magical place – and that I could never say his name properly. There were too many letters you see, so the best I could manage was Anthy. Uncle Anthy he was, and I was his Little Stace.

One Christmas, I must have been ten or eleven, Uncle Anthy arrived like he always did, bursting through the door, his arms chocked with presents for all us kids. That was the year that right in the middle of lunch Anthy let out a huge huff that stopped all conversation, picked up his plate and came and sat at the kids’ table. He plonked his plate next to mine, pulled over Mum’s tapestry footstool, sat himself down, and then continued eating as if nothing had happened. The adults watched frozen like overstuffed greasy dolls, but eventually the spell broke and they went back to their bickerings, and I whispered to Uncle Anthy why he was now sitting here. “You know what Stace,” he said, “that bunch over there are really boring. This table looks like much more fun.” He smiled as wide as the paper plates we where eating from, squinting his eyes to make room for all that grin, and I looked at my brothers and cousins. We all had the same expression: we were The Cool Table.

That evening Uncle Anthy gathered the adults into the living room and us kids were sent outside. After a while we could hear yelling. Not long after that Aunty Nance and Uncle Rob came out to collect their kids. “Come on, we’re leaving,” said Uncle Rob. “But Daaaaad,” whined my cousin Graham. “Now!” yelled back Rob. Soon all the others disappeared in similar fashion leaving just me and my brothers behind. We sat on the trampoline and didn’t say a word.

Eventually it got dark, and us hungry or tired or both, so we tiptoed back inside. Dad and Pop were in front of the television. Nan had gone to bed. Mum was sitting at the kitchen table, just sitting there. When she saw us she wiped her eyes. “You kids must be starving,” and she busied herself making up plates of leftovers. “Where’s Uncle Anthy?” I asked. “He had to go,” Mum said after the littlest of hesitations. “When’s he coming back?”

But he wasn’t coming back. That was the last Christmas – the last time – Uncle Anthy ever came. I would ask: When’s Uncle Anthy coming to visit?… Perhaps I could ring him like I used to?… Perhaps we can go see him?… but the requests were always met the same. Dad would get angry and Mum always ended up crying. Soon I learnt it was best not to mention Uncle Anthy at all, so his name and memory faded away.

On the day that Australia turned 200 I turned 18, and a month later I made my own trip to Sydney where I was lucky to snare a shared flat in Randwick just around the corner from uni. The first thing I did was grab the L-Z and look up the name Anthony Marshall. There were five A Marshalls, but Uncle Anthy was none of them. Perhaps he has an unlisted number, I consoled myself, perhaps he doesn’t have a phone?

The second thing I did was place that Sydney Opera House snowdome on my windowsill.


Script Frenzy – Scene: The First National Bank of Business City

Friday 29 April 2011

EXT. FIRST NATIONAL BANK – DAY

The Van pulls up in front of the First National Bank of Business City. Ultimate Bad jumps from the Van. The Henchmen all jump out, squinting in the sun light.

JIM

Where now?

LEX

Looks like Main Street.

JIM

But where on Main Street?

Lex turns to face the Bank.

LEX

The First National.

Sally is getting out of the Van. She freezes when she hears Lex’s line. He lifts her out of the Van.

SALLY

What did you say?

LEX

The First National Bank of Business City. I suppose we’re going to rob that.

SALLY

(shaking)

The First National?

She turns and sees that she’s out front of the Bank. She panics, taking a few steps away.

SALLY

I… I… can’t do this.

She backs into Lex who holds on to her more for comfort than for security.

LEX

Sally, what’s wrong?

SALLY

Please, I have to go!

LEX

Sally?

SALLY

Please!

She breaks from his grip and runs away down the street, disappearing into the crowd.

Lex watches puzzled. Jim and Thunderhead join him.

THUNDERHEAD

What’s with her?

LEX

Something about the Bank.

JIM

Hmph, probably didn’t give her a loan or something. Come on, we’re on duty.

Jim leads the concerned Lex away by the arm.

Ultimate Bad stands before his Henchmen.

ULTIMATE BAD

Are you ready Minions? Let’s make this one interesting: the Minion who brings me the largest bag of cash gets to keep it!

AUDACIOUS-BOY (O.S.)

You can all keep your hands to yourselves!

There are all the Sidekicks – Audacious-Boy, Spirit-Girl, Hardy-Boy, Net-Girl and Battle-Boy – all standing in the front of the Bank’s door.

NET-GIRL

Not one step closer you high collared villain, you’re under arrest!

Ultimate Bad rolls his eyes.

ULTIMATE BAD

I don’t have time for this.

From up his sleeve drops a small black orb, about the size of a grapefruit. He click-click-clicks its two halves against each other – it starts to flash and beep.

ULTIMATE BAD

Here, catch!

He tosses the orb at the Sidekicks. Battle-Boy catches it. He looks at the orb mystified.

HARDY-BOY

Umm, Battle-Boy, you might want to get rid of that.

Battle-Boy suddenly realises he’s holding a bomb. He throws it into the air and the Sidekicks scatter.

The orb falls and B-O-O-O-M!!

The door – and half the wall – have all been blown away. Rubble and fallen Henchmen lie everywhere.

Ultimate Bad, who had simply protected himself by holding up his sleeve, brushes the dust off his robe.

ULTIMATE BAD

Onward footman soldiers!

He strides off over the rubble and through where the doors used to be. He sticks his head back out and gestures at the Sidekicks.

ULTIMATE BAD

(to his Henchmen)

Deal with them first though, will you?

The Sidekicks and the Henchmen all get themselves up, aching all over.  Jim pants heavily.

JIM

Can’t we just call this one a draw?

A RANDOM HENCHMAN near him is suddenly swept away by one of Audacious-Boy’s bolos.

JIM

Obviously not.

He roars and runs at the Sidekicks. Other Henchmen follow.

INT. FIRST NATIONAL BANK – DAY

Alarms wail everywhere. Customers hide in the corners, cowering as Ultimate Bad strolls past and up to the inquiry counter. He D-I-N-G-S the bell.

No one comes to his assistance. After a moment he looks over the counter.

There crouching on the floor is the BANK MANAGER.

ULTIMATE BAD

Hello.

The Bank Manager looks up.

BANK MANAGER

Ca… ca… can I help you?

Ultimate beams a lovely wide smile.

ULTIMATE BAD

Yes. I’d like to withdraw all your money please.

EXT. FIRST NATIONAL BANK – DAY

Ultimate Bad steps back out through the door frame, in his hand he has a bank cheque which he is checking the details. As he walks along he folds the cheque in half and slips it into his pocket.

A Henchman flies past him. One of Net-Girl’s nets splats against the wall, narrowly missing Ultimate. The battle is still going, but all the Sidekicks and Henchmen are down to their final ounces of strength. Already some of the Henchmen, and Hardy-Boy, Battle-Boy and Spirit-Girl, are knocked out and lying about the ground.

As Ultimate Bad steps across the bodies more and more people fall. The closer Ultimate makes it to the Van all that is left standing is Audacious-Boy and Lex. They wearily throw punches at each other until Audacious completely misses Lex and he falls down zonked onto the ground.

LEX

Yay me.

Lex falls zonked onto the ground.

Ultimate is by the Van.

ULTIMATE BAD

Well come on, I haven’t got all day!

The Henchmen drag themselves, some carrying others, into the back of the Van. Battle-Boy pulls himself upright.

BATTLE-BOY

Quick! They’re getting away!

Battle-Boy hobbles over to the Henchmen to keep fighting. Thunderhead pushes Battle-Boy on his forehead and he falls back down.

As the Van drives away Audacious-Boy’s mobile phone rings. Then Net-Girl’s phone rings. Then Hardy-Boy’s. Then Battle-Boys. Then Spirit-Girl’s. They each look at their phone screens and grimace.

NET-GIRL

Who wants to go first?

INT. HERO HQ – DAY

The full wall monitor blares with the image of the Mayor. Not in his mayoral robes he wears a just as blaring suit.

MAYOR

What the hell is going on with you people?


Script Frenzy – Scene: Weapons Training

Tuesday 19 April 2011

EXT. QUADRANGLE – DAY

A large sunny high walled quadrangle. Half the Recruits are milling around the other end of the area. Gormenghast stands raised on a platform near a large painted “X” on the ground. Cronies still stand guard.

GORMENGHAST

Weapons are one of the most important tools of being a Henchman. Not only does it give you the opportunity to easily kill someone, it also means you have the ability to do it from quite some distance away. Now, you’ve all got your partners. Pair Number One!

SHOOTER #1 timidly approaches the “X”. He is holding a convoluted futuristic rifle.

Against the wall shuffles his partner TARGET #1. He is holding a large bull’s eye target, which he holds out at arm’s length to his side.

Shooter #1 takes aim, then reconsiders.

SHOOTER #1

(to Gormenghast)

Are you sure about this?

GORMENGHAST

Do you want to swap places?

Shooter #1 takes aim again.

Target #1 starts to wobble.

TARGET #1

I’m not feeling comfortable about this Sam!

SHOOTER #1

Just stop wiggling, will ya!

Target #1 hold out the target even further.

BANG! Shooter #1 shoots, completely missing the bull’s eye, but shooting Target #1 dead. Two Cronies come and drag the body away.

SHOOTER #1

Dean, are you all right? … Dean?

GORMENGHAST

Next!

(to Shooter #1)

Go practicing your aiming.

SHOOTER #2 enters and takes up her spot with a larger barrelled firearm than the previous one. TARGET #2 is pushed in place by a couple of Cronies.

TARGET #2

You’ve done this before, haven’t you Ruth?

SHOOTER #2

Once at the county fair.

TARGET #2

Did you win anything.

SHOOTER #2

… No.

GORMENGHAST

Just do your best.

Shooter #2 takes aim. She is shaking so much the gun barrel looks like it’s beating time.

BANG! Target #2 is now only hold half a smoking bull’s-eye. Target #2 looks over the top, terrified.

Shooter #2 is elated and jumps out in rapture.

SHOOTER #2

I hit it! I hit it! I hit it!

GORMENGHAST

Yes, very good. Next!

It’s Thunderhead. He’s got some sort of machine gun with the ammunition belt rapped over his shoulders like a sash. Against the wall shuffles Jim with his bull’s eye target.

Jim gulps and holds the target above his head. He shuts his eyes tight.

Thunderhead begins to take aim then looks up at Gormenghast.

THUNDERHEAD

Dude, I’m a pacifist!

GORMENGHAST

You’ll be a dead pacifist if you don’t aim at that target.

Thunderhead takes up aim again.

THUNDERHEAD

I’m sorry Jim Dude!

JIM

(eyes still clenched)

It’s all right Thunder, I believe in you!

Thunderhead shoot – POW POW POW POW POW POW POW! – the bullets go everywhere, eventually running out of ammo. He looks across through the smoke to the wall.

THUNDERHEAD

Jim!?

As the smoke clears, there is Jim with his bull’s eye target intact, but all around him in the wall is dotted row of bullet holes.

He falls FLUMP! face down onto the ground, stiff as a board, leaving the perfect bullet outline in full view.

Thunderhead rushes to help his friend.

THUNDERHEAD

Dude, you all right?

The shell-shocked Jim looks at the wall.

JIM

You see Thunder, I told you I believed in you!

GORMENGHAST

Next!

Thunderhead helps his friend away as Sally, carrying an enormous weapon, and Lex, with a bull’s eye target take their places.

Sally can barely carry her weapon.

SALLY

I’m sorry but you don’t think that this… thing might just be the wrong size for me?

GORMENGHAST

Hmmm, perhaps you’re right.

Gormenghast clicks his fingers and Cronies surround Sally. When they disappear she now has a bazooka cannon strapped to her shoulder.

GORMENGHAST

Try that instead.

LEX

(calls out)

Come on Sally, you can do it!

SALLY

But I’ll kill you!

LEX

No you won’t! I’ll just hold the target out really far like this.

He holds out the weapon at arm’s length in front of him and spreads his legs to get a better balance.

LEX

See, I’m all protected now!

SALLY

Lex, are you kidding? If I push this button you’ll be –

She accidentally pushes the button. The force of the recoil of the cannon throws Sally back into a pile of garbage bins and old boxes by the Kitchen entrance at the far end of the Quadrangle. Meanwhile Lex has been blown through the wall. He lies there amongst a bunch of school desks, still holding the target in front of him.

He rubs his head trying to sit up. Likewise, so does Sally.

GORMENGHAST

(about Sally)

Ooooo, that’s gonna hurt.

INT. SLEEPING QUARTERS – NIGHT

Sally in a singlet top is examining her bruise – her entire shoulder is an alarming purply red. It looks extremely painful.


Script Frenzy – Scene: Ultimate Bad and the Cookie Jar

Sunday 10 April 2011

EXT. THE QUADRANGLE – DAY

All the trainees are lined up military style. Ultimate Bad is out the front finishing his pep talk.

ULTIMATE BAD

By the end of your training you will be my perfectly trained and able army of lackeys… you’re lucky to be my lackeys, give yourself a pat on the back, you’ve earned it. Feel the love, feel the love. Now, is there any questions?

A THUGGY FELLOW slowly puts up his hand. Ultimate smiles like the cat about to get the cream.

ULTIMATE BAD

Yes? You there!

He waves to Thuggy who moves to the front of the crowd.

ULTIMATE BAD

You have something you wish to say?

Thuggy puffs out his chest.

THUGGY FELLOW

Yeah. What if I don’t want to join your army of lackeys?

A murmur runs through the trainees.

ULTIMATE BAD

You don’t want to be one of my self effacing servants and help me overtake the world?

THUGGY FELLOW

Nah!

Ultimate considers this.

ULTIMATE BAD

Is there anything else?

Thuggy tries his luck.

THUGGY FELLOW

Yeah. I’m hungry.

ULTIMATE BAD

Hungry?

THUGGY FELLOW

Yeah. I haven’t had a bite since you dragged me from that bar.

Ultimate nods to Gormenghast, who clicks his fingers to a SERVANT, who clicks his fingers to ANOTHER SERVANT. This happens down the line till from the main building saunters a RAVISHING SLAVE GIRL carrying an ordinary cookie jar as if it was a Ming vase.

The Slave Girl passes the jar to Gormenghast who delivers it to Ultimate.

ULTIMATE BAD

Then perhaps you’ll like …. a cookie?

Another murmur mutters through the crowd. Thuggy looks around him for support but receives none.

He puffs out his chest even further, sets his jaw.

THUGGY FELLOW

(brazen)

Sure. Why not.

He swaggers closer to Ultimate and takes the lid off the jar. He looks into the jar to get his cookie. SWOOSH! A VENOMOUS COBRA springs out and attaches itself to his face.

Thuggy tumbles to the ground and writhes, screaming in pain, until the Snake has finished him off. Thuggy lies there dead, the snake curls itself up on its new kill.

Ultimate addresses the masses.

ULTIMATE BAD

What we have just witnessed there are two very important lessons. One: Never disobey me or I will kill you! And the second: Never takes candy from strangers, didn’t your parents teach you anything?!

Ultimate hands back the jar to Gormenghast.

ULTIMATE BAD

And now, I leave you in the capable hands of my Number Two. Gormenghast, they’re all yours.

Gormenghast salutes his master and Ultimate strides back to the main building.

ULTIMATE BAD

(to Slave Girl)

Come Annabelle. I’m in desperate need of a hard rub down.

Ultimate and the Slave Girl return to the main building.

Gormenghast is still holding the cookie jar. He suddenly feels foolish, so drops the jar and steps away.

GORMENGHAST

Right!


2011 Mardi Gras Short Story Competition – Cliché

Friday 4 March 2011

This was the first time I’d entered the Short Story Competition and I was successful in receiving one of the judge’s three Highly Commended awards. At first I was a little disappointed with this, but the works that won the major prizes were all excellent pieces, so by the end of the presentation ceremony – and considering there were 41 entries in total – I felt quite honoured to be included amongst their quality.

This year entrants were required to write in no more than 750 words along the theme of “Home”. As you can imagine that offers a lot of flexibility, and, as you can also imagine, I went straight for the joke. The judges had this to say:

‘Cliché’ took a man’s greeting to his partner on getting home and played with it through clever dialogue, creating a sweet, yet strong story that played with traditionally determined ideas of love.

You can download a PDF booklet of all the winners at the gay-ebooks website here, but please enjoy below my story.

And Happy Mardi Gras.

Cliché

He knew it was silly, he knew it was daft, but tonight it just seemed right. Tom took a deep breath and unlocked the apartment door. “Honey,” he called in a clear, decisive voice, “I’m –”

“Here!” Chris said as he came round the corner. He was wearing an apron over an old singlet and boxer shorts. Somehow his chest looked even hairier offset against the lacy frills of the apron. Tom dared not imagine where it came from.

Chris gave Tom a quick kiss before taking his green shopping bag. “Did you get everything?” He examined a jar of capers. “Go get changed, dinner won’t be long.”

In the bedroom Tom stared at his reflection in the mirror. He nodded to himself; he will say it! He closed his eyes, clenched his fists, and cried out, “Honey, I’m –”

“Hot?” Chris said entering carrying a glass of wine. “No wonder, still all mugged up.” He started undoing Tom’s tie with his spare hand. “Here.” He passed across the wine to better loosen the knot.

Tom sipped the wine. “Honey, I’m –”

“Hopeless.” Chris said, shaking his head. He grinned, which made Tom grin too. “You do OK.” Chris scratched Tom’s furry cheek before leaving him to finish undressing. Alone Tom sighed, and then exchanged his suit for some boxers and an old t-shirt.

Tom found Chris in the kitchen. “Honey,” he said, “I’m –”

“Helping.” Chris passed across a handful of knives and forks. “By the time you finish setting it’ll be ready.” He turned back to the stovetop and gave his pasta another stir.

True to his word, as Tom placed the final fork Chris appeared carrying two laden plates of linguini puttanesca.

“To us,” Chris gave as a toast. With a gulp of newfound courage Tom tried again. “Honey, I’m –”

“Hungry?” Chris said. He clutched Tom’s hand. “Well it’s your favourite, and there’s plenty more.” Tom just smiled back.

Afterwards he handed Chris his empty plate. “Honey, I’m –”

“Hopeful?” Chris said slyly. “Don’t worry, there’s dessert.”

And there was. In front of the television they tucked into bowls of chocolate ice cream. At least Chris did; Tom was distracted in thought. Chris looked across.

“Tom, you OK?”

Tom exhaled heavily. “Honey, I’m –”

“Happy? Good.” But Tom meekly shook his head and stared into his unfinished bowl.

“Honey, I’m –”

“Hefty?” Chris said, furrowing his brow. “Tom, you’re beautiful, you know I know that.”

Tom shrugged. He stirred his spoon around the melting ice cream forming a gluggy soup. He so wanted to say it; he just never thought it would be so hard. “Honey,” he murmured, “I’m –”

Chris placed his hand on Tom’s chin and lifted his head so their eyes met. “Handsome. That’s what you are.” Tom blushed, but rubbed Chris’s knee affectionately.

Chris took away the dessert bowl and pulled Tom towards him, nuzzling his beard into Tom’s. Tom held him tight. “Honey, I’m –”

“Huggable,” Chris said gently, clenching him close.

“Honey,” Tom said again, “I’m –”

“Horny?” Chris said. He loosened his hold and brushed his fingertips down Tom’s sides and across his thighs until finally resting them on his groin. Chris squeezed. Tom gulped.

“Honey, I’m –”

“Hard,” Chris said. Winking, he slid down onto the floor.

Yet Tom kept trying. “Honey, I’m –” but this time he interrupted himself, groaning softly.

“Hmmph!” Chris said, not looking up.

Tom seized Chris by the shoulders. “Honey!” he yelled.

Chris finally raised his head and stared into Tom’s dark eyes. “Yeah Tom?” he said, his face displaying a satisfied smirk. He draped his arms across Tom’s chest and rested his chin.

Tom looked down at Chris. He lent forward and gave his boyfriend – his lover, his everything – a soft, gentle kiss.

“I’m yours,” he said.


The Hidden Claus – A short Christmas skit for 4 or 5 ladies

Tuesday 1 December 2009

In the spirit of Christmas I present to you a little skit I wrote earlier this year for a friend of mine in Adelaide who has (and I quote) “the doubtful pleasure of being president of a ladies Probus club – a club for old ladies.” They traditionally put on a little show at the Christmas party and so she asked me to knock up a little something for them. Always up for a challenge I gladly accepted.

What I came up with was a panto-esque visually-driven skit as that, to me, is the traditional Christmas-style show. A few bad jokes, a couple of oversized props, and a Santa doll tied to a wooden spoon – how more Christmassy can you get?!

I should admit that I blatantly stole based the Mailwoman character on the Mailman character in an episode of The Young Ones, but as long as you don’t blab no one will ever know.

So, please enjoy and don’t forget to send me a couple of comps if ever throw this together.

Clyde

 

The Hidden Claus

A short Christmas skit for 4 or 5 ladies.

by Matthew Huxtable

 

Cast:

Mrs Sandra Claus:  Exhausted wife of Santa Claus

Mandy:  Mrs Claus’ sensible cousin

Mrs Ester Bunny:  Very ocker wife of the Easter Bunny

Postwoman:  A Shakespearean Delivery Service

Santa Claus:  A Puppet

 

Notes:

The silent role of Santa Claus is performed by a Santa Claus doll tied to a wooden spoon with Christmas ribbon. A hand or finger puppet of Santa Claus is another suggestion.

The roles of Postwoman and Santa Claus can be played by the one performer.

 

The Scene:

The living room of the Claus residence, on the night before Christmas.

At Up Right is a collection of Christmas wrapped boxes of various sizes. On top of the largest box is a medium box with the open flaps facing forward, much like two open doors. This is Santa’s study and has an opening on the bottom for the Santa Claus puppet to poke through. The largest box acts as a screen for the puppeteer to hide behind, such as a table on its side. The other boxes are for decoration with the effect being a pile of presents ready for delivery.

Upstage is also the front door. If the Postwoman and Santa are played by the one person the actor appears from around the largest box; otherwise the front door is Up Left. By the front door is a hat rack on which hangs Santa’s iconic hat.

At Centre is a table with two chairs; on the table a bowl of lollies. Down Left is an opened ironing board and another chair.

To Stages Right and Left are doors to other rooms – a spare room Left and the reindeer sheds and kitchen Right.

All other decoration is to your tastes and extravagances.

 

The Play:

[The stage is empty, but out of the open medium box streams an endless list of children’s names. Throughout the play this list is constantly fed onto the stage, much like an old fashion ticker tape machine. Also coming from the box is the tinny sound of classic Christmas carols playing a tad too loudly.

A worn out Mrs Claus enters Stage Left carrying her full basket of ironing and plonks it down on the chair. She begins her ironing but soon puts down the iron in frustration. She leans towards the open box.]

MRS C:  Randle, do you mind?

[The carols are turned down, but can still softly be heard. NOTE: Slowly fade the carols down through Mandy and Mrs Claus’s dialogue.]

Thank you. [continues ironing] Silent night? Fat chance! Holy? The only thing “holey” around here are his socks.

[She takes a sock from the basket and sticks her hand through it. Her fingers poke out a hole in the toe.]

[Mandy enters Stage Right. She carries a tray of tea things, the important items being three cups, a sugar bowl and a pot of tea. She places it on the table and pours two cups.]

MANDY:  Tea’s up. [nods to the box] He still playing those songs? I would have thought he’d get sick of them.

MRS C:  Sick of them? He loves them, especially the ones about himself. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, “Jolly Old St Nicholas”, “Here Comes Santa Claus”; he puts them on repeat. Last year he played “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” non-stop for two solid weeks. I swear he only did it to annoy me.

MANDY:  And did it?

MRS C:  Yes. But I got my revenge. On Christmas Eve I fed the reindeer baked beans for dinner. Whoh! You imagine being stuck behind eight flatulent reindeer!

MANDY:  [takes across her tea] You are mean to him. He brings so much joy to so many children. Look, he’s in there now checking his list.

MRS C:  That list, that painful list! I hear it in my sleep. “Susan… nice. Tony… nice. Matthew… naughty. Graham… nice.” It drives me bonkers!

MANDY:  He works very hard.

MRS C:  Only one day of the year. The elves make all the toys. He’s hired a Yeti to tend to the reindeer. What does he do the rest of the year? Sit around and eat sweets. Look, I’ve had to let his pants out again.

[She holds up from the basket an incredibly wide pair of red pants.]

And reinforce the waistline.

MANDY:  Oh, stop picking on him. Do you think he’ll like a cup of tea?

MRS C:  I’ll ask. [calls] Randle!

[Up from the box pops Santa – a doll on a stick.]

Mandy’s made a pot, fancy a cuppa?

[Santa moves a “no”.]

Right then.

[Santa jumps up and down.]

What was that?

[Santa jumps up and down again.]

I think you’ve had enough lollies.

[Santa jumps more frantically.]

Oh all right, don’t get stroppy. Mandy, would you?

[Mandy takes lollies up to Santa.]

Just one!

MANDY:  Here, take two.

[She passes them across. Santa goes back into his box and continues checking his list.]

MRS C:  Mandy!

MANDY:  Oh, he needs his strength.

MRS C:  He needs a diet, that’s what he needs! I blame all those kids putting out all those snacks. Bottles of beer and plates of Tim Tams. What he really needs is a tall glass of tomato juice and a few sticks of celery! You may call it “jolly” but it’s adult onset diabetes if you ask me.

MANDY:  I’ll make up a salad for lunch, will that make you happy?

[Mrs Claus grumbles a non-reply]

[There’s a knock at the front door. Mrs Bunny enters carrying a large basket. She takes off her bonnet and hangs it on the hat rack. Besides her big ears and enormous fluffy tail she looks just like the other two.]

BUNNY:  Cooee! Only Mrs B!

MRS C:  Ester, how are you?

BUNNY:  Not as busy as you, I should think this time of year! Just hopped over for a cup of sugar. [She holds up a cup from her basket]

MRS C:  Help yourself.

BUNNY:  You’re a Christmas Angel.

MRS C:  Ester, I’d like you to meet my cousin Mandy who’s visiting for a few days. Mandy, say “hello” to Mrs Bunny.

MANDY:  Hello Mrs Bunny, pleased to meet you.

BUNNY:  Call me Ester.

[She starts spooning sugar into her cup.]

MANDY:  I never would have thought you’d be living at the North Pole.

BUNNY:  Where did you think we’d live – Croydon? [or some other suitable location] I’m just down the road at number 42. Been at the North Pole for years now. We did live for some time on the Australian Sunshine Coast, but it didn’t work out.

MANDY:  Why’s that? Not a beach person?

BUNNY:  No, the chocolate eggs kept melting. [still spooning in sugar] Rupert and I, we like it up here. The winter’s may be six month’s long but at least it keeps the produce hard … unlike the husband!

[She cackles at her filthy joke. Mandy mouths to Mrs Claus: “I don’t get it.” Mrs Claus mouths back: “Don’t worry.”]

Listen to me, rabbiting on!

MANDY:  Tea?

BUNNY:  Thanks, don’t mind if I do.

[She holds out her sugar filled cup and Mandy absentmindedly fills it. Mandy picks up the sugar bowl but turns it upside-down – it’s empty.]

MANDY:  I’m afraid we’re out of sugar.

BUNNY:  That’s quite all right, I never touch the stuff. [sips her tea] Ahh, lovely! [to Mrs Claus] How’s business?

MRS C:  Flat out, but ‘tis the season.

BUNNY:  He in?

MRS C:  He’s checking his list.

BUNNY:  I’ve something for him. [calls out] Cooee Randle!

[Up pops Santa.]

Rupert wanted me to give you this.

[She takes out an Easter egg and gives it to Santa. Santa disappears back into his box.]

MRS C:  Not more chocolate!

BUNNY:  It’ll keep up his energy.

[Santa pops back up. He is FURIOUS! He jiggles madly for a few seconds while the others watch stunned. He disappears again. The egg is thrown out of his box. Mrs Bunny collects the discarded egg.]

BUNNY:  Well I never!

MANDY:  With language like that I know which list he’s on this Christmas. Whatever could have caused that?

BUNNY:  I can tell you. It’s not chocolate – it’s carob!

MRS C:  Your Rupert! Up to his old tricks.

BUNNY:  I should apologise.

MRS C:  Oh, don’t worry. Let him have his sulk.

[Pause]

MANDY:  I must say, it is a pretty impressive trick.

BUNNY:  It’s just carob.

MANDY:  No, not that; how he manages to be in all those shopping centres at the same time. I mean, I was out shopping with my Stephanie last week and we saw him four times. “Hang on,” I thought, “you were just in Myers, what you doing here in Westfield Mall?” [aside to Mrs Bunny] We didn’t go up and say hello or anything, what with him being family and all. Oh, that’s reminds me. [calls out] Randle!

[Up pops Santa.]

How’s my Stephanie doing on your list?

[Santa disappears. There’s a great rush of paper pushed out Santa’s room, as if he was searching his list for a certain name. He finds it and pops back up again. He jiggles his reply.]

[content with his answer] Oh good. But fair’s fair, she has been good this year. What she asked for?

[Santa flips open a note pad and consults his notes for a while. The note pad disappears and Santa jiggles again.]

A pony! [aside] What is it with little girls and horses? [to Santa] Do us a favour will you Randle, how about a Barbie Dream Pony instead?

[Santa says no.]

Well can you at least make it a cat?

[Santa considers this, then jumps up and down a “yes”.]

Thanks Randle. [to the others] We can cope with a cat. [to Santa] Here, have a candy cane.

[She takes him up the sweet. Santa disappears into his box and continues checking his list.]

MRS C:  Don’t feed him!

MANDY:  Sandra, he’s done me a favour! He’s just saved me from a lifetime’s supply of garden manure. And you’ve seen where we live… we’d never get the horse in the lift. And we’re would we keep it? On the balcony – twelve floors up?

BUNNY:  You’ve seen what pigeons can do a car parked under a tree, imagine what damage a horse would make to your paintwork.

MANDY:  [ponders] Do horses get vertigo?

MRS C:  Oh, stop defending him. He does one day’s work a year and expects to be treated like a royalty for the other three hundred and sixty four. I’m the one who keeps this place going. Look. [holds up a blanket with “BLITZEN” quilted on it] I’m even doing the reindeer’s bedclothes.

BUNNY:  [to Mandy] The Yeti not working out then?

MANDY:  Simply abominable!

MRS C:  Things are going to have to change I tell you, it’s about time I got some respect!

[Mailwoman enters dragging a HUGE sack.]

MAIL:  Delivery!

[Mailwoman makes a big deal of dragging the sack and finally plonks it Down Centre. The character can best be described as a Shakespearean Town Crier. Remember, it’s a small part so ham it up as much as you can.]

Behold! I bring thee scriptures from fledglings professing their innocence and virtue. Young sprouts begging armoury; tiny lassies yearning for geldings.

MANDY:  [to Mrs C] What?

MRS C:  Boys wants guns, girls want ponies.

MAIL:  Aye, too true, too true. What avid dreams thy offspring claim so flitters away at St Nicholas’s visit on force and horse.

MANDY:  Bon bon?

MAIL:  I’d be crackers to refuse.

[Mailwoman fills her pockets with sweets.]

MRS C:  [looking in the bag] Not more children’s letters! Look at them – hundreds and hundreds. A whole bag of letters all addressed to Santa Claus! That all you brought?

MAIL:  Nay, sweet maiden, I also bring tidings for you. [wields out a single envelope] The gas bill. [hands it to a miffed Mrs Claus] And now I must leave. Again I venture white-wards, into thy blizzardry landscape, to face weather both fierce and foul.

BUNNY:  “Foul”? What, she talking about chickens now?

MAIL:  Adieu, goodbye, farewell I humbly plead. Parting is such sweet sorrow, and thanks again for the boiled delights.

[And after a flourish of her hand she spins around and is out the door. If you’re lucky the audience will give her a round of applause as she leaves. If so, Mailwoman turns as if to say “Is that for me?” then bounds to the front of the stage for an over the top display of bows and general hamming. Someone could bring her a bunch of flowers – perhaps Mrs Claus has one in her basket? Drag this out for as long as you wish – the others just sit there and look bored, miming to each other such things like “Who does she think she is?”. ]

[Finally Mailwoman leaves the stage. The others pause for a moment to regain their posture before Mrs Claus lets loose.]

MRS C:  That’s it! I’m not ironing another holly printed napkin until I’m shown some worth!

BUNNY:  Fat chance there. We do all the work and they get all the glory!

MRS C:  Glory for palming out cheaply wrapped boxes! I wish that were my only job around here.

MANDY:  [a pause, then:] Then why not do it?

MRS C:  Pardon?

MANDY:  Why not you be Santa Claus this year?

BUNNY:  You don’t mean…

MANDY:  Can you drive the sleigh?

MRS C:  [thinking it through] I fly it down to Woolworths every Saturday for the groceries.

BUNNY:  What about the delivery route?

MRS C:  Oh it’s all been computerised. He’s got it all in one of those Nav/Com things. Besides the reindeer could do it with their eyes closed. It would show him, though, wouldn’t it?

BUNNY:  He’d be Randle the Red Faced Santa!

MRS C:  And we the Three Wise Women.

MANDY:  Then what’s stopping you?

MRS C:  Nothing. Nothing’s stopping me. Oh but I couldn’t; it wouldn’t be fair. I mean, I’m close to the edge, but I haven’t been pushed over yet.

[The carol “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” starts playing from Santa’s box. Mrs Claus bristles.]

MRS C:  I’m over!

[Santa starts reeling in his list of names.]

BUNNY:  Quick then! He’s finished checking his list!

MANDY:  He’s nearly ready to leave! What do we do?

MRS C:  Mandy, Ester, hold the doors. I’ll be straight back!

[Mrs Claus runs off Stage Left. Mandy and Bunny jump up and grab hold of Santa’s box flaps and hold them close. Santa starts fighting against the doors, every now and then breaking through, yet Mandy and Bunny are able to mostly keep the doors closed.]

MANDY:  Hurry Sandra, he’s getting through.

BUNNY:  For a little man he’s stronger than he looks!

MANDY:  Come on Randle, remember your blood pressure!

[Mrs Claus returns with a roll of decorative sticky tape.]

MRS C:  Just the thing – Sticky tape!

[She breaks off strips of the tape and starts sticking the two doors shut so Santa can no longer get through, though he continues to bounce around inside the box. As a final flourish Mrs Claus takes from her apron pocket a decorative bow and sticks it onto the box.]

MRS C:  There! That aught to hold him!

MANDY:  Not for long.

MRS C:  But enough for me to get those reindeers airborne. Ester, go check with the yeti to make sure everything’s ready.

BUNNY:  Sure thing. [to the world in general] Ah, I know who’s delivering the eggs next year. Rubert’s going to be one Hot Cross Bunny!

[Bunny leaves Stage Right]

[Mrs Claus puts on the Santa hat.]

MRS C:  How do I look?

MANDY:  Like a right jolly old elf!

MRS C:  Right then, I’m off. Wish me luck.

MANDY:  Good luck!

[They give each other a good luck kiss. Mrs Claus rushes Stage Right.]

MANDY:  And Happy Chrismas!

MRS C:  Yes! Happy Christmas to all, and to him [nodding towards Santa’s box, and as if to say “good riddance”] a good night!

[She exits.]

CURTAIN.

 

Props:

On Stage:

  • Pile of Christmas paper wrapped various sized cardboard boxes. For the largest box is either place a table on its side or a refrigerator box cut open for access from the back. Above the largest box is a medium box with access at the bottom for a rod puppet to stick up. The medium box has it’s flaps open towards the audience. Attached to each box is a name tag.
  • Hat rack with Santa hat.
  • Table with two chairs, on table a bowl of lollies.
  • Open ironing board with iron, and chair.

Off Stage:

  • Tea tray (Mandy) containing: tea pot; three cups; and a bowl of sugar.
  • Laundry basket (Mrs Claus) containing: a humongous sized Santa Claus pants; a blanket with “Blitzen” quilted onto it; a bunch of flowers (optional); and assorted clothing.
  • Basket (Mrs Bunny) containing: a cup; and an Easter egg.
  • Mail bag (Mailwoman) containing: hundreds of envelopes addressed to Santa.
  • Decorative sticky tape (Mrs Claus).

Personal:

  • List of names (Santa) being: a long paper roll from a cash register decorated with a list of names. Next to each name is a green tick or a red cross. It’s not important if the names can be read or not.
  • Note pad (Santa) being: the flip top variety.
  • Decorative ribbon bow (Mrs Claus); in apron pocket.
  • Envelope (Mailwoman) being: the gas bill for Mrs Claus; in pocket.

Sound:

  • Christmas carols, including “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”.

 

Notes and Suggestions:

My preferred method for creating Santa Claus is by a Santa Claus doll tied to a wooden spoon with Christmas ribbon. It is obvious that it’s just a little doll stuck on a spoon and if the performer’s hand is at times seen when Santa “speaks” it adds to the silliness. Otherwise, a hand or finger puppet of Santa Claus is another suggestion, though there will need to be more a sense of reality to the performance.

For curtain call, if Santa and Postwoman are played by the same woman then the actor can hold the puppet when she takes her bow. Otherwise, the medium box should be reopened before curtain call and after the actors have taken their bows, much like with an orchestra, they gesture towards the box and Santa pops up and takes his solo bow. Of course, there is no reason why the performer playing Santa can’t come and join the others for a final bow.

Santa’s dialogue could be punctuated with a sweaky noise, such as from a child or dog’s rubber toy. The effect is to have Santa cute and slightly ridiculous, such as with the classic puppets Sooty and Sweep, and not ugly and threatening, such as with the Punch character.

Slowly fade out the Christmas carols before Santa makes his first appearance.

The Santa pants in Mrs Claus’s basket should be outrageously big. These can be made by sewing two “V” cut pieces of red fabric together, then trimming the “legs” with white fabric, such as polar fleece. Around the “waist” should be a black belt with a large gold buckle.

The Blitzen blanket can be made by an old child’s quilt with “BLITZEN” appliquéd on.

Mrs Bunny may want to shake off some snow on her entrance to suggest the weather conditions outside.

So Mrs Claus doesn’t get stuck behind the ironing board the entire performance, she could wander back and forth to the table gesticulating wildly with the iron. As such, don’t use a turned off iron.

Along with the Santa hat, his coat can also be hanging on the hat rack. It all depends on how much time Mrs Claus needs to get dressed.

As this was written with small stage spaces in mind, there is little need for further sets and props than what is listed. If there is space, and budget, a Christmas tree for the presents to be arranged around would look festive. A fireplace lined with stockings Down Right is a nice additive – this would also give Mandy and Mrs Bunny the chance to go over and warm themselves so they are not always sitting around the table.  If there is a window Upstage the effect of falling snow would help set the scene. But don’t forget that the real attraction of the show is the Ladies.

Place a Christmas tablecloth over the table. And never forget the decorative abilities of tinsel.

And finally, please remember: this is a first draft. Any suggestions are warmly welcomed.

Happy Christmas!

August 2009.