Horla Flash Fiction (February / March 2021)

 

WITH TONGS

by MATTHEW G. REES

“WE’LL be doing it with tongs, tonight,” Mfanwy ‘Twin Peaks’ Meredith announced to her client.

“Tongs?!” exclaimed Councillor Ivor ‘Safe Seat’ Evans-James, eyebrows extremely arched. “But… you mean tongues, surely, Myfanwy Meredith?”

“No, no – tongs it is and tongs it must be. You of all people should know that, Evans-James, importantly chairing – as you do – all of your committees and sub-committees. Why… ‘health and safety’, isn’t it?”

“Yes, yes, but… tongs, ‘Twin Peaks’. I mean, won’t they do… damage?”

“Trust me, Evans-James,” said the former, adjusting her bustier and her mask. “I know what I’m doing.”

“Well, of course, of course,” said Evans-James, long-serving member for Brondywyll – in the English, ‘Slope Dark’ – East, “you are the Dominatrix of Duke of Windsor Terrace, after all – PVC, NVQ, RSVP and much else, I don’t doubt. No, no, I wouldn’t dream of disputing. But…”

“Safe distance is the thing – this day and age, Evans-James. For your and my protection.”

“Well… yes… I suppose…”

He caught sight on her hearth of the coal-pickers – black, cast-iron and cruel as anything from the chambers of Torquemada.

A right pair of nutcrackers, thought Evans-James…

*

Till that point in their relationship, the preferred ‘implement’ of Myfanwy ‘Twin Peaks’ had been a fork: a trident-like tool in terms of its looks, but of a short and stubby kind – not ineffective in its way, but one that she now judged of insufficient length for the purpose she shared with her caller.

“If I’m to get to grips…” she continued.

“Well, yes… yes, if you must,” said Evans-James. “I understand. After all, my wish is your command… or… something,” he added, distractedly, glancing again at the arms and grim, pincer-claws of the long, dark tongs neath her mantelpiece.

“One lump or two tonight?” Mfanwy now asked him.

“Two, I think – I deserve a treat… world as it is an’ all.”

His hostess tottered off.

Shortly, she returned with a tray.

On it: a teapot in a woolly pink cosy, cups and a fruit loaf sliced-up – this latter ‘tribute’ (might be the term) of Gwilym ‘Wild Oats’ Williams, Brondywyll’s nonagenarian baker.

“Right,” she said, seating herself a distance from her alderman visitor, “time to get to it.”

Taking the tongs in her plump, ruby-nailed hands, she swung a slice of Gwilym Williams’ finest over the flaming coals of her fire – and held it there, in the clamp of the tongs, as it toasted.

When satisfied with its toastiness, she withdrew it from her furnace and swung it to the waiting grasp of the alderman, who was seated, with eager anticipation, on the other side of her hearth.

“You see,” she said, “… perfectly done” – a fact the councillor did not debate as, swiftly and lavishly, he smothered the warm square with a coat of farmhouse full-cream butter (‘gift’ – it might be said – of Denzil ‘Gold Top’ Thomas, Milk & Dairy Supplies ‘To Your Door’, Brondywyll 262).

Right then,” Myfanwy Meredith now went on, “let’s get down to business. This grant money… essential services. Have you brought the form? Times are hard for a lady in my line, Evans-James. Or, rather, they aren’t… if you know what I mean.”

“Now don’t you worry, ‘Twin Peaks’,” said the councillor, chewing his slice of Gwilym Williams’ curranted loaf: its butter – having melted in the glow of Mfyanwy Meredith’s molten coals – dripping from his jaw. “I’ll take care of it. Leave all of that to me. Cledwyn ‘Has His’ Pryce-Owen, upstanding solicitor-at-law, will, I’m sure, be persuaded to act as counter-signatory. All will be tidy…

“Now,” ‘Safe Seat’ went on, licking his fingers and turning to the other part of their bargain, “Spring is almost on us, and I must look to my ward of Brondywyll East. For it is coming, Mfanwy Meredith: that most awfulsinful thing.  Can you feel it?” he asked her, his eyes suddenly aghast (yet also somehow shining), in the quivering firelight of the room.  “I can feel it, Myfanwy Meredith. Oh, I can feel it, Lady ‘Twin Peaks’. And I must out it. I must out… the vote. For an election – do you hear me, Lady Twin Peaks? – an election is in the air!!

“Those names,” he began – more calmly now – having descended the proud ladder of his fervour, “… in that little black book of yours… pretty as a raven’s wing…”

 

 

***

Matthew G. Rees says he doesn’t always write in such a stylised way but that he likes to try his hand at dark humour from time to time (a key strand, he notes, in the ‘Welsh Gothic’ stories of several of that country’s writers including Rhys Davies, Glyn Jones and Dylan Thomas).

Rees says his most recent book Type (left), which has been issued in a signed, limited edition with original art, is an example of the ‘macabre-yet-mirthful’ storytelling that can be found in certain other tales by him such as ‘Frayed’, ‘Queen Bee’ and ‘The Cheese’.

He is the author of two critically-acclaimed story collections Keyhole and Smoke House & Other Stories (right), as well as plays (Dragonfly and Sand Dancer), audio stories (‘Dreamcoat’ and ‘As The Meadow Ends’) and contributions to websites and print publications. He founded Horla in 2018. 

Website: www.matthewgrees.com

Title photo credit – Juan Encalada on Unsplash

Horla standard disclaimer – image has no direct connection with the fiction