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The trouble with Mr Gibson

by Chestersmummy 

Posted: 24 January 2018
Word Count: 746
Summary: I wrote this some time ago and thought it would be suitable for the 666 competition.

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The trouble with Mr Gibson
‘Oy!  D’yer know a cove called Gibson?’
The words were coughed rather than spoken and Vic’s lugubrious face showed a rare flash of animation as he jumped.    His body, clad in a long black gown, pivoted in a graceful arc until he found the source of the voice.
            A red-faced man stood before him, his stocky legs planted in belligerent pose.  The man’s eyes burned.   He opened his mouth and a stench smote the other with almost palpable force.   A sheen of incipient nausea moistened Vic’s forehead as he was forced to inhale the combined fumes of halitosis, beer and last night’s supper.  He took a step backwards; the man followed.  Fearing another blast, Vic ducked but was too late.
            ‘See that boat?’ 
A stubby finger pointed towards the coast.
Vic could see nothing but the sluggish grey ocean heaving under a blanket of cloud.
            ‘Course yer can’t.   At the bottom of the sea, innit?  Know why?’
            The man’s voiced trailed away and a puzzled expression took the place of the anger in his eyes.
            ‘Swear it was as sound as a bell when I bought, it,’ he whispered, ‘damned thing sank, soon as it went in the water.’
            His body shrank and he turned away, a little man in clothes that were suddenly too big for him.
            Vic sighed.   Every night, there was another with a tale of woe.  His gaze travelled over the flat Essex countryside where he seemed to see a weaving line of despairing figures stretching over the fields, far into the murky distance.    Grieving widowers, weeping widows and bereaved parents tricked out of their hard won savings.  He sighed again.  Now, it seemed Gibson was branching out and turning his attention to fishermen.
            An intolerable itch started, just underneath Vic’s skin, as if millions of tiny insects were burrowing into his flesh and his chest constricted so that he could barely breathe.   He knew well the cause of these symptoms.   His body was in desperate need of the noxious weed that disguised itself in beauty.   Slowly, he retraced his steps.
            As he climbed the crumbling steps of the disused church, he glanced up at the sign, tacked to the lintel.   ‘United Spiritualist’s Church’.    Gloom settled upon him like a heavy mantle; since being defrocked, spiritualism had become his sole source of income but it was not to his taste.  Eyes closed, faced lifted towards the heavens, nightly he had tried to summon the dear departed but nightly he failed and his congregation shrank.   Then Gibson had appeared and became his partner, his blessing and his curse. To Vic’s initial delight, the newcomer entered the spirit world at will and soon the cold stone of the church shone with reflected joy as ecstatic reunions took place between the living and the dead.     But these reunions took place at a price and Vic grew to dread the strained and anxious faces of his parishioners as the silver dwindled in their pockets.  
            On unwilling feet, he trod forward.    Inside, the church was in darkness except for a fiery glow at the far end of the nave where a stout man sat, cross legged, toasting crumpets in front of a pot-bellied stove.    Humming a merry tune, the fellow was in high spirits and Vic shuddered. 
            As he approached, the man turned, his face rosy from the heat and shiny with butter.
            ‘Vic!  Just in time.   Have some crumpets or perhaps beer?’
            His tone was jovial but his eyes had a crafty glint; he knew full well what Vic craved was neither food or drink.
            ‘No?  Well, perhaps this then?’ 
He tilted his head to one side, stretched out an arm and slowly swung a bag of sovereigns in front of Vic’s face.   A mocking smile spread over his face as Vic grabbed at the coins with shaking hands.
            Satan, Beelzebub or Randall Flagg, the Devil has many names.  Each conjures dark visions of scarlet eyes or cloven feet and a cracked and scaly skin.   In truth, the Devil has as many faces as names and because of this, he is especially dangerous.  Who would fear a handsome man with a carefree laugh or a lovely girl with flaxen hair?  And then, there are the children…..      
            But, be it a capering monster, handsome man, pretty maid or charming child, these devils have one thing in common.   None have a heart.  
And that was the trouble with Mr Gibson.
743 words

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Comments by other Members

Bazz at 21:09 on 27 January 2018  Report this post
A bleak but biting morality tale, Mr Gibson does indeed have many faces...!

michwo at 10:28 on 03 February 2018  Report this post
I think it should be 'United Spiritualist Church'  on the sign tacked to the lintel rather than 'United Spirtualist's Church' or even just 'Spiritualist Church' possibly capitalized.  Poor Vic.  Love of money is indeed the root of all evil and no-one loves it more than those who don't have it in the first place to begin with.
(P.S. Can you do me a very big favour and have a look at my latest posting on Critique Central, "The Lilies"?  I think it's one of my better efforts.)

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