Sunday, July 18, 2010

Magpie 23

close-up of a brass fire extinguisher

The boss was in one of his snitty moods. Which is a bit like saying that snow is cold and wet and that dandelions are yellow. You can't blame the scorpion for its sting so I generally went with the flow, which always seemed to annoy him all the more, which made it all worthwhile. So today the boss was in one of his snitty moods.

He approached my desk brandishing the big, brass fire extinguisher I'd bought just that morning. He flourished it at me, which was no mean feat as it was all metal and he's no weightlifter.

"And what is this?" he asked. Dumb, really, but there you go.

"It's a fire extinguisher," I explained.

"No, sir, it is not!" he declaimed. I think it was declaimed, it was certainly something beginning with D whatever it was.

"No, honestly, it is. If you look, it even says so on the label. The lettering's very distinct."

"No, sir, it is not a fire extinguisher. It is an anachronism."

"I'm pretty OK with anachronisms," I pointed out.

"This is not just an anachronism. It is a dangerous anachronism."

I have to admit that this wrong-footed me a bit. We didn't do temporal mechanics at my school and the Doctor Who revival has rather passed me by. I had another look, to be on the safe side.

"No, it's definitely a fire extinguisher. It's got instructions on what to do in case of a fire and everything."

"It is a fire extinguisher that you fill with water," he spat. He could have filled the blessed thing with two sentences. "That makes it dangerous. It would be deadly in the case of an electrical fire."

"Would it help if I promised not to set fire to any electricity?"

"It would not. What is it doing here?"

"Well, actually, I'd bought it for decorative purposes rather than in case of fire.We've a perfectly serviceable fire extinguisher on the wall over there and I've been fully trained in the procedure for running screaming out of the building if anyone so much as lights a cigarette, so we didn't need another one except for decoration."


"Yes. An objet d'art. Or, more properly, an objet trouvé."

"Objet trouvé? And where did you find this thing?"

"In the window of an antique shop. They were having a sale."

"This is intolerable! What if some unsuspecting person thought that this was for real? There could be a disaster."

"There's only you and me who ever work here. I know not to use it and you wouldn't use it even if it were in full working order. So where's the problem?"

"And where would you have this abomination for safekeeping?"

"I rather thought it would do over there by the roll-top desk, along with the sit-up-and-beg Imperial typewriter, the Bakelite telephone and Mrs. Edna Putiss."

"Mrs. Edna Putiss?"

"Yes, she followed me here from the bus station. Can I keep her?"


willow said...

Edna Putiss?! ((snort)) I am going to be laughing the rest of the afternoon!! This was a great read, Kevin.

Anonymous said...

You create such depth of character in such a short space. And the humor--ahhh.

RA said...

A tremendous joy to read. Edna Putiss... priceless!

Catalyst said...

Loved it! Put the boss in his place, now, didn't you? The Bakelite telephone was perfect!

kathew said...

hee hee hee- great funny read! More please!

signed...bkm said...

Delightful read and delightful characters, would like to see this as a skit on stage...bkm

lisleman said...

big responsibility being trained to run screaming out of a burning building. very good.

Tattered and Lost said...

You have reminded me why I'm so happy to be self-employed! Fun read. And I nominate this boss for worst of the year.

Murr Brewster said...

You need a new place to keep the fire extinguisher. Is

Anonymous said...

hilarious, i loved this flash! Great writing and I thought the characters were great. I def. want to read more.

Pat said...

You are my favourite custodian:)

Brian Miller said...

ha. what wonderful characters you created and witty funny banter...loved your magpie!

Lyn said...

Great give and take..can the Monty Pythons be far behind..I hope not!!

Tumblewords: said...

A great read! Still laughing...

~T~ said...

A delectable dialogue!

Anonymous said...

best and funniest thing I've read in a to know more about Miss Putiss!

Scarlet Blue said...

Pssst... Kev... who are all these people....???? Why do I not know them? Have you been loitering under the lamp post again?
Anyhow, yesterday you were writing like Raymond Chandler... today you are H.G Wells [he came from Bromley, btw].

Kevin Musgrove said...

Thanks everyone!

(Scarlet: next time you're stuck for inspiration and can't find a suitable advert to prod the muse, nip over to Willow's Magpie Tales challenge. Some of the pictures! Oh, you'd blush!)

I was aiming for Wodehouse meets Coren, so Wells is pretty good I reckon.

nursemyra said...