More Great Solos for Clarinet
I saw a horse float leaving work this morning carrying a fake horse. It made sense, though, when through the windows I saw the security guards taking down the ANZAC day display. Naked digger mannequins were piled top’n’tail, so the moustachioed faces touched the androgynous crotches. Arms and legs were stacked like firewood in the foyer.
At my workstation I discovered that I could install any one of the 302 printers connected to the department’s network. I printed ‘let’s go for a drink after work’ in 6pt Times New Roman in the upper centre of an A4 page in ten different buildings.
I took a late lunch because, well, I don’t really know where to go at lunchtime now that Brisbane is finally taking water seriously. The fountains have all been roped off and are being dismantled. The parks stopped being watered a month ago and within days the grass was brown and it came away in clumps as you cut corners back to the office. Queen’s Square is now a sandpit. Even the crows seem confused.
When I finally went outside I saw a waitress eating a sandwich she had probably prepared herself once things slowed down. It looked like she was reading sheet music, and when I got closer I saw that the title was More Great Solos for Clarinet. I went to Target to look at DVDs and got asked if I worked there, again.
My gran is in hospital with really low blood sugar. My mum says that gran couldn’t even speak when she visited yesterday, she just reached out and touched either side of mum’s mouth with her index finger and smiled. When I read her email I thought, ‘This is a scene I will put in every unpublished novel I ever write.’
In the afternoon I went to a presentation about the new timesheet system and felt an incredible affection for the presenter with a bad lisp. I wanted to say something to him at the end of his powerpoint slides, but I just went back to my desk and started writing a new novel where my gran has really low blood sugar and goes to hospital and can’t even speak and I printed the first page in ten different buildings.
On the way home I sat up the front of the bus and helped the bus driver because he had never driven my route before. He was from New Zealand too. When we came to my stop, I said, ‘I’m sorry, but this is where I get off.’ He looked worried, but I told him it wasn’t far to go. He said, ‘I owe you one, eh?’ I said, ‘I might be leaving town,’ but I don’t think he heard because the doors were closing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Since appearing in Turbine 06, Craig Cliff won the novice section of the Katherine Mansfield Short Story competition, appeared in the 2007 edition of JAAM, travelled through Africa and Europe, and now resides semi-permanently in Edinburgh. In 2008 he aims to write one million words. You can follow his progress at http://yearofamillionwords.blogspot.com/