We’re deep in development of the main Write-Track website. Marek, being a multi-lingual kind of chap, is making the most of a range of languages to code. This includes Mustache, Python, Backbone, Marionette and Django.
The code names sounded like a writing prompt and so the gauntlet was thrown: write a short story using all of them.
Bec, short-story writer James Holden and novelist Imogen Clark gave it a go. It was writers’ prerogative to correct the spelling of mustache – after all a story about a coder using a list of coding languages felt rather like cheating.
Last Orders at the Puppet Theatre
The date was going OK until I asked if he wanted to go somewhere. He thought we were somewhere.
The pop-up food shack was in an area of the city marketed to in-comers with an acronym that made no sense in full and couldn’t be pronounced when shortened. Part way between dereliction and gentrification, you couldn’t be sure whether a shop had suffered an arson attack or the attentions of a stylist with a blow torch to realise his creative vision.
I stood up to leave. The chipotle-smoked fries had given me a thirst that a barrel full of craft beer couldn’t quench. I needed a drink and when a man needs a drink he goes to the Puppet Theatre.
“Let’s go,” I told the date. He contemplated his salt caramel brownie – it wasn’t a dessert to rush, even less one to leave. He wrapped it in his napkin and laid it in his empty satchel which was ready and waiting for a pudding transfer opportunity.
We made our way to the grittier limits of the city.
The Puppet Theatre had no name to announce its presence. On its front window was a painted marionette, naked apart from a red hat and shoes. Strings ran up its backbone so the wooden skeleton could be manipulated by an off window puppet master. It was dancing with one clog raised and the other tilted to the ground.
I pushed open the door and stepped into the bar. Django the barman nodded when I entered.
“Long time,” he said.
I remembered why I hadn’t been in for a while. The blush scolded my neck like the stubble rash I got from his moustache. He had whiskers like a terrier that picked up the smell of everything it came in contact with – rather than canned beef and canine ass it stank of the customers who’d been out to the back alley for last orders. I wasn’t going there again.
There was nothing to say but the date wanted conversation and he wouldn’t get it from me.
“That’s quite some python you have there.” He said pointing to the tattoo that ran up Django’s forearm before disappearing into his t-shirt sleeve. “Where’s its tail finish up?”
Django didn’t answer, if people were interested they usually got to see for themselves. The date was a talker and didn’t need encouragement to continue.
“The guys from work would love this place. It’s so authentic.” He looked around the room appraising the scuffed paint and cracked plaster as if they were a deliberate design feature. Benign neglect was the height of fashion and he approved. “I’m amazed I’ve never been here. I’ve been everywhere.”
I should have been pleased he liked it, seeing it was a date and all, but I preferred it when he sulked.
“Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friendly bar tender?” The date asked nodding at Django. I usually would, but I’d clean forgotten his name and Django wouldn’t care to know.
Django placed two glasses on the bar. I wasn’t thirsty anymore. I pushed my drink across to the date. “You have it. I’m going home.”
“Well it looks like it’s just me for last orders.” The date picked up both glasses and chinked them together. “Cheers!” he said.
I’m sure I saw Django smirk as I turned to leave.
Read The Marionette on James’s blog