Friday’s Short Story: The Designer Fire Brigade

storytellerI phoned the designer fire brigade this morning. They were very friendly, considering I was having to shout over the sound of the fire alarm. We arranged a meeting and I went in to discuss my fire-fighting needs.

We sat in a very nice little conference room, and Melvin, the head designer fire fighter, took me through the process of assembling a mood board. They gave me a pile of magazines, some scissors and a Pritt stick. First of all we concentrated on the colours and shapes that summed up my living space at the present moment: I found lots of warm colours, reds and golds, and carefully pasted them into a collage, along with some photographs of people looking sad. Melvin seemed very pleased when I had finished. “Oh, is it hot in here or is it just me?” he said, sort of fanning the air round his face with his hand.

Then I had to put together a second mood board to help me visualise how I might like my living space to look after the designer fire fighters had finished with it. Again I cut pictures out, the colours now cooler – lots of blues and greens, more oceanic. Pictures of kitchens and bedrooms not filled with acrid smoke. And I found some shots of people looking happy. One in particular, of Matthew McConaughey leaning against a chain fence in a sun-drenched Los Angeles alleyway, really seemed to sum up how I would feel if the designer fire brigade could effect the kind of transformations their brochures had promised. Again, Melvin nodded in approval.

He would take the boards, he said, and present them to his firefighting team, perhaps on Wednesday, and they would discuss strategies and solutions, and could they get back to me some time next week with a game plan and, a ha ha, a price plan?

Anyway, by the time I got home the urgency of the project had gone, really. I phoned the designer fire brigade and thanked them for their help and advice. They were very understanding. These things happen, they said, and the final bill, when it arrived, would reflect that, they said.

And as Melvin pointed out to me, charcoal is the new black.

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The Designer Fire Brigade
by Harris
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Friday’s Short Story

storytellerNo, I won’t be coming out tonight. You know why. Don’t make me… It’s the sharks, all right? There. I am frightened of sharks. I worry about shark attacks.

Oh fine, yes, statistics. I know that statistically you are more likely to be attacked by a shark when you’re in, like, the sea or whatever, but think about this: it is when you least expect an attack that you are at your most vulnerable.

Well it’s easy to say, isn’t it? Oh, don’t be scared. People tell me not to be scared, that it would be quite astonishing if a shark were to attack me here, sitting as I am in a room some twenty-five metres above sea level. Yes, but then the attacking shark would be able to turn my amazement to its advantage, swiftly overpowering me before I regained my composure.

Oh God. Sharks are prehistoric killing machines. They practice. I wouldn’t stand a chance. I can’t deal with sneaky dinosaurs at my age. They can shed up to fifty thousand teeth in their lifetime. I have, like, thirty-two, tops. You do the maths.

Also, also, I cut my finger this morning. If there is a shark even on the outskirts of town it knows where I am. Sharks can smell blood a mile away. I don’t know how you can stand there and not be frightened of sharks. They can smell blood. They can smell fear.

What, that smell? Listen: shark meat tastes of piss. This is why nothing eats sharks. Well, it’s one reason. Anyway. I just figured if my meat tasted of piss I could be safer. But then they might just chew me and spit me out. Like salty, wet chewing tobacco. I don’t know. It’s not a watertight theory but it’s all I’ve got.

These are the thoughts that will keep me awake tonight, as I lie in the dark listening for the warning signs of an imminent land-based shark attack.

I wish I knew what the warning signs of an imminent land-based shark attack might sound like.

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Shark Attack
by Harris
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