Unusual Uses

I’m posting a short story that I wrote last week, and mentioned in Episode 1 of our podcast, Sue and Johnny – Everything and Anything. The task was to write a piece using one of the following items but not for the usual purpose:

A newspaper

A cork

A wastepaper basket

A drinking glass

A button

An old ironing board

I chose four items, and don’t know how I ended up with the story but that’s what I love about writing, your imagination can take you anywhere. I hope you like it and please feel free to leave comments below, or on our Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram. Please be constructive – we call feedback a ‘shit sandwich’ -say something positive – something needing attention – and something positive.

Pressing Ideas

‘Where is he?’

‘In his other home, lost in one of his schemes, said Rita, fixing Ethan, he dropped his eyes and his stomach churned, ‘tell him his lunch is ready.’ 

Ethan and Jacob skipped out the back door and sped up the back yard to a wooden hut. Vibrating music shook the shack, and offered a creaking groan is if in disapproval.  Every so often a loud thump of a hammer on metal clashed with the beat of the music.

‘Logan, what are you up to?’ asked Ethan.

‘I’ve had a great idea,’ he gushed as he turned off the music system but not his volume.  Logan’s eyes were wild with excitement. Ethan sighed knowing these ideas never ended well. Jacob hovered at the back.

‘Your mom says that your lunch is ready,’ said Jacob, ’what are you making this time?’ 

Logan didn’t answer, too busy cleaning his hands of grime with an already filthy rag.  He stretched to his full height, tall enough to have to tuck his head under the top of the door as they left the shed.  They squinted as the gleaming sun beat down.  Logan was wearing scarlet swimming shorts which matched his red flip flops.  His muscular tanned torso rippled to the envy of them both.  He had swimmer’s hair, abused by chlorine, which gave it a green hue, and dappled with blonde streaks from the bleaching sun.  Ethan glanced at his head and concluded that a comb had not been near Logan for weeks, perhaps even longer.

‘Are you going down to the beach this afternoon?’ asked Ethan.

Logan wiped sweat from his chin, leaving a smear of black across his youthful and unshaven beard.

‘You’ve marked yourself,’ pointed out Jacob to no avail. 

Logan was never much bothered about his appearance.  This irritated Ethan as Logan remained the most sought after by women and men alike.  But he wasn’t cool.  A top jock in senior high should have been the main man, but Logan was weird.  Ethan and recently Jacob were his only friends, not that Logan craved popularity.  He just did his own thing, and Ethan had known him since they were kids and his oddness never bothered him.  Ethan suspected that Jacob had a crush on Logan, as he was always on the periphery, quiet, admiring.  But even Jacob could be shaken by his behaviour.

‘Come on, what are you building this time?’ asked Ethan.

‘It’s a surprise,’ smiled Logan as the fly door swung shut with a metallic clunk and shouted.’ I’ll see you down at Santa Monica beach at two.’

Ethan and Jacob resumed their personas and sauntered over to their badly resprayed luminous orange wreck, with two surf boards lashed with rope to the roof.  They slumped into the vehicle and gazed out to the golden sands and blue green sea in the distance.  Ethan was a homage to surfing brands, O’Neill shorts and Rip Curl faded t-shirt and Urban surf shoes.  Jacob, however, was different, shorts that reached below his knees and a black, XXL heavy metal t-shirt that dwarfed his lithe body.  Of course, both had Oakley sunglasses pitched just so on their heads.

‘What’s he up to?’

‘Fuck knows,’ replied Ethan.

‘He’s a bit scary when he’s in this mood.’

‘When he’s got an idea, there’s no stopping him,’ said Ethan as a grin flickered.

‘What ideas?’

‘Been doing things since he was a kid. He invents things, he’s eccentric, like Doc Brown in Back to the Future, the guy with the long grey hair.’

Jacob glared back, ‘I know who Emmett is,’ and added, ‘Logan’s trying to invent a time machine?’

‘No,’ snorted Ethan, ‘but he fancies himself as an entrepreneur, you know like Bill Gates building Microsoft from his garage.’

‘He makes computers?’

‘No, well at least not now. When we were in 6th grade, he announced that he had discovered a new environmentally friendly building material.  He posted flyers to the neighbourhood and held a yard sale.’ 

‘What was it?’

‘It was Papier Mache bricks that he been making. Of course, it cost him his paper round, as he had been keeping the supplements as raw material for a week.’

They both laughed.  Ethan turned on the engine, it grumbled, as if complaining of a cough, every time he pumped the pedal.  He switched on the radio and Santa Monica XFC Beach sang out an old Beach Boys hit, and they joined in as they drove off.

They lazed on the beach waiting for Logan.  The sands were heaving as it was the height of the summer, there was a westerly breeze and surfing was good.  Ethan watched the waves, the curling breakers becoming larger as the tide turned.  He longed to be out there, but as usual Logan was late.

Jacob was sitting playing with the sand letting the grains fall through his fingers.  Ethan noticed that he was itching to talk.

‘What’s up?’ asked Ethan.

‘Tell me more about Logan, he’s fascinating,’ said Jacob.

Ethan smiled,’ what do you want to know?’

‘You know, what other scams has he been up to?’

‘Two years ago, during Covid lockdown, he spray-painted wastepaper bins bright yellow and sold them to antivaxxers on a website he’d set up.  He used me as a model, filming me while I was working in the Deli with one of his bins on my head.  I thought it was hysterical, especially his speel about the yellow paint warning off germs, but within days there were orders for the helmets.’

‘How many did he sell, and did he make money?’ smirked Jacob.

‘It all came to a shuddering end when school caught him on CCTV stealing all the 7th grade classroom waste baskets.’

They both roared in fits.

‘And,’ added Ethan struggling to breath, ‘he had to pay the school back, so he was out of pocket!’

They rolled in the sand as heads from sunbathers lifted like periscopes to view what was so funny.

‘But,’ said Ethan, with a sudden earnest grimace, ‘his last idea, well that’s what makes me worry.  He got into deep shit.’

‘Trouble?’ said Jacob his face now blank.

‘The FinCen raided his house, and he was going to be charged.’

‘The what?’

‘The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.’

‘What had he done, and who the fuck are they?’

 ‘They’re the Federal agency that chases down money crimes.’

‘What the hell did he do?’

‘You know Bitcoin currency?’

‘Sort of?’

‘It’s a currency that is electronic and you don’t have anything physical.  It’s in the ether of the web.  Lots of speculation and fraud.’

‘How was Logan involved?’

‘He thought it would be a good idea to provide something tangible.  He set up another website that offered what he called the real bit coins.’

‘What were they?’

‘Buttons painted with crimson enamel from his stepmom’s sewing box.’ Jacob started to snigger but stopped as Ethan’s face was ashen.

‘Within hours of the web page going live, there was serious money, like thousands of dollars being transferred into his dad’s saving account.  His house was raided the next morning at five.’

‘At least that explains why Rita was so grumpy this morning,’ laughed Jacob.

Their conversation was interrupted by a rumbling noise coming from the promenade, chatter, ripples of laughter.  It was like a growing wave.  They stood on tip toe to see over heads as the crowd was parting and a green figure was walking towards them.

‘What the fuck’s that?’ said Jacob.

‘Looks like one of the mutant turtles,’ said Ethan and paused straining every sinew to obtain a better look and finally stumbled out, ‘oh fuck it’s Logan.

Logan waved and shouted above the din of amusement.  He was now wearing lime shorts and what appeared like a heavy luminous green surfboard strapped to his back.  He reached them and beamed, oblivious to the commotion he’d caused.  Jacob walked round him and observed his surfboard.

‘What the fuck is that? ‘

‘My latest invention, I’m telling you, this is the future,’ said Logan.

‘But what is it?’ asked Ethan as a crowd gathered round.

‘This is my new surfboard technology, it’s for beginners,’ said Logan motioning, ‘you don’t have to balance on your feet, you sit down.’

‘But what is it?’

‘You’ll never believe me.’

‘Try me, said Ethan dryly.

‘It’s Rita’s old ironing board, she was going to throw it out.’

‘And you think this will make a good board?’ said Ethan.

‘Yep, Do I detect a touch of cynicism?’

‘It’s made of metal, mate.  I know I’m not the best physics student but even I know that this will not float.’

Logan unclipped the braces holding the board to his back.  It squealed as he opened the legs.  He placed the iron board upside down on the sand and clipped a small seat to the legs and sat on it.

‘You see, for beginners, this will be ideal,’ he said.

‘Logan, it won’t float,’ said Ethan searching for support from Jacob.

‘I thought about that, so I’ve added two small Lilos along the edge which I will blow up when we test it.’

‘Test it, you’ll drown, have you seen the surf today?’ pleaded Ethan.

‘And test it we will,’ enthused Jacob, as he helped Logan carry the contraption to the sea.

‘Aw for fuck sake’, said Ethan and he rushed after them.

Ethan helped them both through the breaking waves but stayed in the shallows to help Logan after his surf.  The rollers were four feet, and the wash was knocking them over as they waded through the white caps.  Ethan strained to view their progress. He could see the green floats on the side of the ironing board as they were holding it above their heads.  Logan appeared to launch himself into the next wave and was out of sight.  Then nothing, just two green lilos rushing past him.

‘Logan, Jacob,’ screamed Ethan as another wave broke over him.  He bounced up off the seabed to search for them again.  The roar of the waves muted his shouts.

‘Logan!’

Then, two figures further down the wash came running towards Ethan, they were holding hands and were joyous.

‘What happened?’ said an agitated Ethan.

‘It sunk’ replied Jacob.

‘Didn’t float after all,’ said a laughing Logan.

‘You don’t seem that upset? ‘said Ethan.

‘Back to the drawing board, anyway if I had surfed, I wouldn’t have been saved by this knight in shining armour.’

Jacob’s smile dropped, his face reddened, and he let go of Logan’s hand.

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