The One-Armed Man Question


FLASH FICTION:I MET MA’S boyfriend Dave when he came for tea. I knew by the way they talked it was serious.

I had a sixth sense for disaster. He wore sandals. He had long cracked toe nails and crooked toes. He could scamper up Nelson’s Pillar – maybe not the Spire. He wanted to be my step-hippie-daddy. During tea I said nothing, just stared. Occasionally I stuck my tongue out, with a full mouth of masticated Brennan’s Bread. Today’s saliva today. My brother Sid kept reading The Profession of Violence.

Dave was a New Age liberal type with techniques aplenty not to get phased by me but I knew he had to be sweating a little. He engaged me in conversation but I ignored him. I just belched.

“Victor, behave,” Ma said. He was talking auras and Ki energy. I was hoping that fire from heaven would envelope him. Spontaneous combustion is rare but he was dry enough to pull it off.

Sid suddenly stood up and left. Dave looked up, disconcerted, kept talking, eating and not bursting into flames. Ma said I could leave the table. I just sat there absorbing as much Ki energy as possible. They eventually went into the TV room.

“Toodle-pip,” Dave said.

He had to go for sure. I joined them. I rarely watched TV except for the World at Waror in my lighter moments (I had a few) F Troop, Get Smartand Green Acres.Distilled genius – a bit like myself.

The lovebirds were whispering and sitting close together but they moved apart. “Carry on,” I said and picked up the Victor– my namesake comic that Ma bought every week. She wasn’t all bad.

It had good reconstructions of Banzai charges. At intervals I lowered it to observe them. They feigned watching TV but I knew their gonads were aflame just like the tip of their cigarettes. Dave rolled his own, of course. Continuing my campaign of psychological warfare I winked when I was sure Dave made eye contact. Ophthalmic wise, not higher-self wise.

When The Fugitivestarted I threw Victoracross the room to give the show my full attention. Ma shouted “Victor pick up the Victor.”

“It wasn’t me,” I said.

“Of course it was you.”

“It wasn’t me.”

“It was you – there is no one else here.”

“What about Dave?”

“What about Dave?”


“How could Dave do it? He is sitting here beside me?”

“It was all his Ki energy like.”

Dave was pale and sweating a bit. Spontaneous combustion was now impossible.

“Dave, don’t mind him,” Ma said, patting his hand.

“No problemo.”

Holy God-o, I thought – as in Beckett, not the Bible.


“Yes kiddo?” he said with such sincerity it was laughable. Ma relaxed a little.

“Dave, how does the one-armed man clean his arse?”

Ma jumped up. “Victor get the f**k out of here.”

At the door I called, “Toodle-pip.”

The next time Dave came it would be his last.

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