In place of my usual Tuesday Guest Feature, I have invited Mark Anthony Smith to return and share his flash fiction story ‘Nothing Adds Up.’ Enjoy.
When Chris Johnson enters the shop, he’s, unaware of the body up the road being rinsed by young lads as they rifle through its pockets.
A lad of around fourteen ambles into the convenience store. He gives a thumbs up in the window to his three mates waiting outside. He hasn’t come in to spend so stuffs the stolen wallet into his pocket then checks the staff behind the till and positioning of the CCTV.
Chris is browsing the aisles when he overhears the manager say to his assistant, ‘What are you doing?’
The woman behind the counter laughs.
‘Gosh. I haven’t seen anyone add up like that for years,’ he adds.
She taps her pen on the writing pad and replies, ‘No, I know. People tend to use calculators nowadays but I like the old ways.’
Chris, now down the cleaning products aisle, is pre-occupied worrying about his direct debits. It’s only the 20th of the month and he needs to stretch his pennies but the kitchen sink’s blocked and it stinks.
The lad, in an orange jacket, scoops up six bottles of washing detergent and charges out of the shop.
‘Oi you,’ shouts the manager, but the teenager has scarpered.
Chris is sure he’s seen him before. He was in a group, selling stuff to customers at the burger restaurant a few evenings ago. Chris chooses a bottle of foaming sink un-blocker that promises ‘the Earth’ on its label, before grabbing a packet of biscuits off the shelf and joining the queue.
‘Have you phoned the Police?’ someone asks.
‘The manager nods. ‘They can’t do anything though because they’re underage.’
A customer snorts. ‘They don’t do anything anyway. Too many cutbacks.’
Chris checks his watch while he waits. He needs to get back by one to record his television programme. ‘I can’t believe lads are robbing in broad daylight. My Dad would have killed me.’
Someone else mutters, looking down at the floor.
Chris thinks nothing adds up nowadays. The world’s going crazy. He pays for the cleaning materials and chocolate biscuits.
The manager waves a calculator at the female shop assistant.
Chris chuckles as he thinks about his video recorder. ‘I still record on videotapes.’ He laughs. ‘I don’t like change.’
The manager reminds him that it’s 2020.
Chris shrugs. ‘I like that change though,’ he says taking the coins. As he leaves the shop he passes a homeless man sitting on a sheet of cardboard. Chris bungs the guy a few quid, even though he can’t really afford to help others until he gets paid.
He walks past a photo shop, butchers, and a charity shop, barely acknowledging anything.
Chris is comfortable where he lives on Balfour Street. Nothing ever happens. He doesn’t like changes in his life. That’s why he’s worked at the aerosol factory on Stoneferry since leaving school. It’s hassle-free.
The bin lorry pulls up. Chris doesn’t see the body lying on the pavement.
He thinks, nothing adds up nowadays.
Well I don’t think I fancy living on Balfour Street where nothing ever happens! What I really loved about Mark’s story is the way his character Chris was oblivious to everything going on in the street, but he not only noticed the homeless man, but gave generously knowing that he’d be short of money himself.
Let’s find out a little more about Mark.
Mark Anthony Smith was born in Hull. He’s been an avid reader from an early age. After leaving the army he studied English to AS Level at Suffolk College and later started an English Degree at Hull University. His writing career began after winning ‘Star Letter’ with Writing Magazine. Later that same year he was commended by Writers’ Forum magazine for his Haiku, ‘Hearts of the matter.’ This encouraged Mark to publish a book of the same name.
Further successes followed with an Anthology and CD for Homelessness. But things spiralled once he took to Twitter. Since joining Twitter, he’s been published in Spelk and Truly U and has poems or short stories appearing in The Cabinet of Heed, Detritus, Nymphs and Pink Plastic House. If he gets stuck for ideas, he binge reads to start an internal hum of creativity.
You can purchase Mark’s ‘Hearts of the Matter’ on Kindle and paperback from Amazon
You can find Mark on social media by clicking on the following links.
We should all be aware of the homeless. You can find links to donate here.