MONSTERS WITHIN

monsters-within

Mister Tindall runs the sweet shop. Mister Tindall lives alone. Mister Tindall has no friends. Mister Tindall is a monster.

Me and my brother call him names: yellow fangs, pus breather, custard eyes and banana ears; these are our yellow names for him.

He is the ugliest man in the street. He is the ugliest man in the town. He is the ugliest man in the world. He isn’t even a man.

Once he was wearing sandals and I saw claws where there should have been toes. He has a hairy back that’s way too hairy even for a very hairy man. He has spikes where they have no right to be. He owns a tail.

Dad says he’s the sort who would sit behind a screen in a darkened room and target bombs onto innocent streets and faraway playgrounds. Mum says Dad is being ridiculous but asks us each day if we’ve actually seen his tail. She has a strange worried look when she asks this. Like she’s remembering a nightmare and isn’t sure if she’s our Mum anymore.

That’s the effect Mister Tindall has. He upsets everyone and everything. That’s why we don’t go into his sweet shop, except when he’s not there. There are pink gums, red gobstoppers, small stacks of Dracula milk teeth, and jars with body chunks floating in formaldehyde.

A new rumour has started going around town. It says Mister Tindall is fearful of his own reflection, and is as scared of us as we are of him. He’s a coward and can be got at! Last week Dad rounded up a posse and they took flaming torches and stood outside his shop for hours not saying a word.

We still hurry when we pass the shop on the way to school. In class we all daydream about him. On the way home we write graffiti on his walls, like ‘leave our town’ and ‘you’re not welcome’. At night we hear him rubbing away the words, and once we heard him cry.

 

 

Picture by Jonny Voss

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About dogsbodiesandscumsters

Alan McCormick has been writer in residence at Kingston University’s Writing School and for InterAct Stroke Support, a charity employing actors to read to stroke patients. His fiction has won prizes and been widely published, including the Sunday Express and Salt’s Best British Short Stories 2015. His story collection, with micro-fiction inspired by Jonny Voss's pictures, 'Dogsbodies and Scumsters', was long-listed for the 2012 Edge Hill Prize. Alan has recently completed his second collection, Wild in the Country, as well as a memoir, Holes. See more of Alan and Jonny's collaborations at www.scumsters.blogspot.co.uk.
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