Jan 9, 2014

Posted by in Stories

Loris: The Man in the Fridge

Loris: The Man in the Fridge

Loris was in a spot of bother.  Well, I say spot of bother, it was more of a situation where the likelihood of him still being alive three hours from now was bordering on nil so if you asked him he’d probably catergorise things a rung or two above a spot of bother.

You see, Loris liked to gamble.  He gambled on everything.  Sports, cards, casino games on his mobile, if it was going to be a white Christmas, everything.  But he was terrible at it.  Awful.  He knew nothing about sports, barely understood the rules of Blackjack and one year he took 3/1 for it to be a white Christmas.  And Loris lived in Florida.  So one might ask why did Loris gamble if he was so bad at it?  One might ask why Phil Tuffnell played cricket for so long in that case.  But Loris didn’t even gamble because he liked it. In fact he hated it.  It was merely the only way he had to feel connected to his late father.  He’d not known his father well as he had passed away when Loris was just nine.

Loris’ late father had been sealed in a fridge and thrown off a pier as a result of racking up $42 000 in gambling debts.

Loris felt that by gambling he could follow in his father’s footsteps.  By this I mean he could do better at the caper than his Dad had done.  He could show his mother that his Dad was on to something.  That he wasn’t a pathetic loser who’d lost the house because of an eight on the river.  He could pay back his father’s debts, clear his name posthumously and then perhaps even make a little money for himself.  And his mother.  Who now lived in a ditch.  A nice ditch with a view of a harbour but a ditch none the less. Instead in three hours he now felt he would be truly reunited with his father as the fridge he was sealed in may actually bang into the one he was about to be sealed in.  The hope was at least the people he owed the money to would show some compassion by at least throwing him off the same pier.

There was no way he could pay back the $20 000 he owed but he had managed to prolong the loan for another month with the offer of some expensive cigars he had managed to acquire as a gift from a friend who’d just returned from a trip to South America.  His loan shark liked to smoke so had agreed to the deal.  And he could get the money to at least clear his debt within a month as he’d bet his car on tomorrow night’s Heat game.  But now he was staring a destroyed humidor.  The box was in tatters, the priceless cigars inside destroyed.  Luckily for him the humidor was still enough in tact that he couldn’t see straight through to the newspaper underneath with the headline ‘Spoelstra to rest Lebron, Wade and Bosh tomorrow night’.

Termites scurried all over the table.  Eating the box, the cigars and were presumably eyeing up the table as well.  Next to Loris stood his best friend, Peter.  He had called Peter to come investigate.  Peter was a myrmecologist.  A person who studied ants.  A coincidence so incredible you’d swear it was made up.  Which it was.

“You told me you had a wood ant problem”, Peter said.

“I do.  See.  There’s wood.  There’s ants.  There’s a problem.  A wood ant problem”.

“Oh right you mean you have a problem with ants and wood”.

“Yes”.

“See, I thought you meant a wood ant problem.  Like, you know, Formica Rufa, the European Wood Ant”.

“Why would I have a European Wood Ant problem.  This isn’t Europe”.

“Yes, well, they are found in North America too”.

“Well that’s just confusing”.

“I know.  We’re planning on tabling it at the next society meeting”.

“Is that a joke?”

“No, we have a society”.

“No, I meant the tabling reference”.

“Oh, right, no, not a joke.  That’s a terrible joke”.

“I know”.

“It’s barely even a joke”.

“Exactly”.

“What, because I said table, you thought…”

“Yes”.

“Awful”.

“And yet”.

“Still going on about it”.

“Would you believe it?”

The two then both went and stood in separate corners and faced the wall for a few minutes to think about what they’d done.  Until finally Loris spoke.

“There’s a wood ant society?”

“No, that’d be ridiculous.  Who’d start a society just for wood ants?  I mean, sure, the parasitic ones are interesting but it’s hardly worth a whole society for.  No, we look at all the ants.  But not these.  Because these are termites”.

“Termites aren’t ants?”

“Technically no.  They’re cockroaches”.

“Oh for fuck’s sake.  So you don’t know anything about them?”

“Not really no.  I know they’ve eaten your box there”.

“Shit it”.

Peter flipped open the lid to reveal some mangled cigars and two perfectly preserved Jaffa Cakes.

“Why have you got jaffa cakes in here?”

“I wanted to see if they kept better than in tupperware.  I was going to try it with some custard creams tomorrow but unforuntately I’m not going to be able to now”.

“Beacuse of the fridge thing”.

“Yeah”.

There was a long, terrible silence.

“Where’d you find Jaffa cakes Loris?”

“There’s a place by the Wholefoods”.

“Really?  You must give me the address before you’re murdered”.

“I will do, remind me before you go”.

Loris slumped on the floor and thought about all the people who gambled for fun.  Who had a friendly wager.  Who had a punt on the FA Cup Final, or maybe the Super Bowl instead since he just remembered this was supposed to be in Florida.  Maybe they bought a scratch card from time to time he thought, presuming they had scratch cards in Florida.  Why’d he have to get himself into this situation?  Why couldn’t he just have a punt for fun?   Every now and then.  Or do it professionally with charts and spreadsheets.  Because he didn’t understand Excel for one but that was beside the point. Gambling wasn’t like hard drugs or drinking White Ace, or the US equivalent, at 9am no matter how much large portions of the media made it out to be.  I mean, he’d only gone to the loan shark in the first place because it was Shark Week and he’d gotten confused.

Jesus Christ, his Dad didn’t even have a gambling problem.  He had died in a fridge as a result of gambling but not a gambling debt. Uncle Terry had bet him $5 he couldn’t lift the bar fridge above his head and so he’d tried.  He lifted it high above his head, slipped and then dropped it on his head.  He’d died instantly seven years later from liver failure.

And his mum lived in a retirement village in Tampa.  They had lawn bowls and a common room with a TV bigger than his.  And cable. HBO and everything.  She was well into Game of Thrones and had accidentally spoiled Red Wedding for Loris when she texted him ‘OMFG they’re all fucking dead’ during the broadcast.  Not watching Game of Thrones, Loris had panicked and hid under the floorboards for weeks a few weeks later after he’d gone and bought and laid floorboards in his apartment for the express purpose of hiding under them.

And to top it all off his best friend Peter, the man he thought he could count on in any situation, to help in any crisis, was now stood opposite him declaring termites weren’t really ants.  Everything he knew was wrong.  And pretty soon he was going to be killed by some shady loan shark’s collection men.

Peter left soon after taking a Jaffa Cake with him plus a hastily scribbled note of the address of where could obtain more after his best friend’s imminent demise.

Loris still sat on the floor.  He wasn’t sure how this story could have a happy ending.

“This is what happens”, he told himself, “This is what happens when you just start out with no notion of what you’re doing.  There has to be planning Loris.  Just winging it on a few words some people gave you, that’s madness.  It all seems like fun and games but then suddenly nothing makes sense, I’m hardly even a character.  I really am just a way to get back into the swing of things for some guy just so he can say he spat some words.  Well before you know it a man’s about to die.  A man’s about to die for being terrible at predicting the weather and gambling on it.  And another thing, why don’t people know the difference between weather and climate? For fuck’s sake, everything’s gone to pot.  This was a terrible idea.  I’ve made a terrible mistake.  People are going to think I’m making light of addiction.  I’m not.  And all this after the umbrella girl debacle yesterday.  It’s too much”.

“AND WHY THE FRIDGE”, he cried, “That wasn’t even one of the words!  Is it a metaphor for how we’re all trapped in a cold, lonely box we’re forced to call life?  Is that what’s become of modern society?  I mean, that sounds deep but it’s not.  It’s a desperate attempt to justify stream of consciousness and that’s pointless.  So what have you done instead Loris?  Huh?  You’ve gone all meta which is the height of wankiness.  And it’s not even clever.  It doesn’t even make sense.  This is just like margin notes at this point”.

Peter thought about ending it all himself before the loan shark’s men had a chance to.  He thought about eating all the termites. Maybe they’d devour his wooden heart.  A heart turned to metaphorical stone initially by unrequited love to give his character some last minute depth and perhaps explain his addictive personality, and then later into literal wood for narrative convenience.  Then the doorbell rang.  Fate waited patiently at the door.  Fate was Loris’ dog who loved the sound of the doorbell.  It wasn’t one of those ding dong ones, it played the theme to ‘Friends’ because weirdly that had been in Loris’ head earlier that day.  It was a very intuitive doorbell.

He opened the door and a woman stood there holding an umbrella.

“Hi”, she said.

“Hi.  Is it raining?”

“No”.

“Florida.  Right”.

“You’ve no idea how to end this do you?”

“Not a fucking a clue”, Loris said.

 (This story is simply based off the first three random words I got people to tweet to me.  So thanks to @MRCChapman, @mortaltaste and @artrockrebel.  I am aware it is barely readable nonsense but it’s serving a purpose so you know, you’ll be thankful in the long run I hope).

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