Monday, 17 September 2012


Why is it that those with the most unsociable mouths always have the most to say? If you have teeth like Victorian gravestones, jagged and gnarled things sticking out of your face like grotesque tusks, don't expect people to smile when you bare them in a snarling grimace and ask them a question which demands more than a standalone yes or no. If that question is:

"Hey, can I ask you a question?"

Then don't bother because you'll only waste your time and disgust me.

Wallace wanted to say all of that to the sunken-eyed junkie who, along with his silent partner had accosted him on his way home from the supermarket. He wanted to, but the mind often works faster than the mouth so instead of this witty and erudite response he grunted


The long face which originally asked permission to question him got longer still, mock surprise raising his eyebrows and colouring his speech.

"Oh, too busy to help a guy out eh? Think this will slow you down?"

In the dark, the blade shone momentarily as he pulled it out and turned it slightly to grab Wallace's attention. The mouth may not always be able to keep up with a racing mind but the body dances to its own rhythm when faced with a threat. At the sight of the blade, Wallace's instincts kicked in and without even being consciously aware of it, his stance changed imperceptibly to the untrained eye so as to adjust for the slightly gravelled road. His arms registered the weight of the shopping bags, one in each hand. Both filled with miscellaneous foodstuffs but the left filled with lighter but bulkier items. This one offers the best protection.

His attacker comes in from the left with a lazy stab, already off balance. Lifting the bag in his left hand to protect his stomach, Wallace notices the blade is around three inches long. Dangerous to bare flesh but not through the multi-pack of breakfast cereal that it penetrates.

In one swift movement as the blade sinks into the box through the plastic carrier bag, Wallace pulls the bag sharply down to his left, also moving his attacker in the same direction, making the already off-balance junkie lunge to the side for just a second. This is more than enough time for Wallace to lift his left leg, turn his hips over and stomp on the exposed leg, completely obliterating the knee with a loud and stomach turning noise; a wet slap. That disgusting mouth made sounds to match.

The knife-wielder dropped to the floor clutching his knee, surrounded by Coco Pops. If his still-silent accomplice's face was visible, you would have seen it completely drop and turn grey as this chain of events occurred.

"That's three questions now and the answer is still no."

Cradling the injured bag in his arm, Wallace knelt down and scooped up the knife, sliding it into his pocket as he walked away. He was to busy thinking to look back. He wished it was the Corn Flakes that had been stabbed and lay scattered all over the road, or even the Rice Krispies. Anything but the Coco Pops. Those had been his son's favourite.