On the Night Shift

 

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There is a priest in the off-license, buying two bottles of whiskey. His face is pasty and pocked with blotches. His hands tremble as he struggles valiantly to  count out his notes and coins. On his third attempt, he reaches the correct amount. Even though he has not yet had his first drink, the physical and psychological changes that come over him are instantaneous and dramatic. His posture improves from pathetic to near heroic. His hands and voice cease their trembling. He even makes a joke at his own expense to the man behind the counter. I watch as he strides out into the night. A moment ago he was sick and desperate, clinging to life and sanity with the most tenuous of holds. Now, his whiskey in hand, he is saved, buoyant with hope.

The man behind the register, in contrast to the priest, has started his evening out splendidly. Not a thing in his world is amiss, until I point my gun at him.

“Empty it, son. Or I will ruin your night.”

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40 Responses to On the Night Shift

  1. emmylgant says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this.
    The portrait of the old priest is stellar, and the last line totally unexpected. In between a man’s life turns on a dime. Well done.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. The twist came unexpectedly. Nicely done… 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. MC Clark says:

    Well…I certainly didn’t see that coming. Well played, O, well played. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Great description and final surprise

    Liked by 2 people

  5. skat says:

    Now who’s going dark? Had me riveted. And here was me just listening to Mark Knopfler’s “Cleaning My Gun”!

    Liked by 1 person

    • oglach says:

      It may have been your poem that steered me down that path. Knopfler is amazing. I first listened to “Brothers in Arms” when I was eleven or twelve and I listen to it still. Many, many strong memories associated with that album. Many thanks for reading, Kathleen.

      Liked by 1 person

      • skat says:

        I always loved, “Sultans of Swing” way back when, but never followed Dire Straits or Knopfler, until we came across “Kill to Get Crimson” at a charity shop. Played it, fell in love with it and now we’ve got four of his albums. Every single song is amazing. Love “Redbud Tree” and “Privateering” and “Secondary Waltz” especially.

        Liked by 1 person

      • oglach says:

        Incredible guitarist. I believe he played on one of the Chieftains albums as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • skat says:

        I must have that then, because I think I’ve got most of them, including “Boil the Breakfast Early”.

        Like

  6. Flash-365 says:

    haha, that was unexpected. Nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Excellent writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ah, it all makes sense! The narrator’s profession is one which is reliant on details, for in order to do what needs to be done, his surroundings must be studied. You are extremely skilled in detracting the reader’s attention from the story’s true revelation! Like a magician, your “slight of hand” fooled me. Bravo, darling! Superb. 💫

    Liked by 2 people

  9. fictionspawn says:

    Quite a turn in events for him. I’d do what you said. Cool story, I didn’t expect the end at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Quite a shock at the end, for the reader as well as the man on the night shift. Did U catch up to the rejuvenated priest and confess afterward?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. An excellent piece of writing. Bravo.
    It’s good to be back Oglach.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. HemmingPlay says:

    I like! Is this part of something longer? Really nice, vivid characters in few words. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • oglach says:

      I wrote it as a stand alone story, but the characters do interest me. If something unusual and original comes to mind, I may use them again. I’m very glad you enjoyed it, thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. HemmingPlay says:

    Reblogged this on HemmingPlay and commented:
    This is a short master class in creating vivid characters. Great work. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Dead Donovan says:

    That’s why I don’t work the night shift; I work the graveyard shift. Those psycho priests get violent when they don’t get their booze! 😀 Excellent imagery and storytelling.
    ~PR

    Like

  15. michnavs says:

    I didn’t see that ending coming…i enjoyed the fact that you tricked me there with your ending..

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Ooh, I liked that loads, it surprised me

    Liked by 1 person

  17. megaeggz says:

    Holy fuck, nicely done oglach 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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