by Derek Buttress
Lost in nicotine and daily doses of gin, my loopy boss no longer played the old organ standing outside his office. I liked to run my fingers over the tulips and swirling tendrils carved into the instrument’s solid frame. Once, I was told, it wheezed through Methodist Hymns Of Praise, but now it was silent, and locked. I tried to lift the lid, longed to hear the sound sleeping inside it.
An errand boy, bored by tedious work, I whistled the swing hits of the day, drove the boss into a rage. Left alone to keep an eye on things, I acted out my daft-boy fantasies, played the cowboy and the cop, dispatching villains into instant oblivion with a two fingered Colt 45.
Too lightly armed for rescuing the world, I coveted a pistol-grip fire-extinguisher hanging on the wall like a king-sized gun. One day I climbed on a table to unhook the gun. High above everything in the office I aimed it at the boss’s chair, squeezed the trigger. What shot out with a shocking bang was not a harmless pee-jet of water, but a fine white cloud of dust – like the talcum my mother dusted on my baby brother’s bottom. It floated in the air above the organ for a breathless second, then drifted down, dusting every artful tulip, every tendril carved into the wood
The organ was transformed into an iced confection with candlesticks, an Art Nouveau extravagance in white. I rubbed and scrubbed, brushed and blew into every cut of the carver’s art, but couldn’t erase my crime. My sacrilege would be enough to tip the boss into the breakdown he had skirted for months. I wept for an hour, wondered what story I could conjure as I carried the shameful sack all the way home, and had to face the music.
Derrick Buttress lives in Nottingham and can’t stop writing.