UKArchive



UKArchive ID: 33646Murphy's Moment by sirat
Originally published on September 26, 2014 in Humour    

This was actually sparked off by the recent Gene Kelly challenge in the Prose Challenge forum. It started me thinking about old-time has-been actors, and my mind drifted off (as it frequently does)...



For the more cultured among you no introduction shall be necessary; for the others, let me inform you that my name is Lucretius Parmenides Murphy; former thespian, musician, poet, philosopher, raconteur, street performer and life coach. In view of the inability of some individuals to recall my full name, let alone the letters appended to it which modesty prevents me from mentioning, I usually abbreviate it to LP Murphy. As you will have observed I am presently between professional engagements, and indeed addresses, having been required to vacate the modest space that I occupied in the then partially and now fully demolished fuel oil storage warehouse of Lancing Agnew Associates on Mildew Street. Or was it Millar Street? No matter, the point is that I find myself in some need of a variety of things, among them currency, sustenance, clothing and accommodation, and most notably the small quantity of brandy that I am in the habit of consuming last thing at night in order to combat my tendency to insomnia. I suppose I could add to the list facilities for the maintenance of personal hygiene, but not resourcefulness, adaptability, good breeding, insight or artistic ability. Of those I am still in possession of a more than generous share.

In view of the sadly reduced circumstances in which I presently find myself I have been obliged to accept menial employment for which I am vastly over-qualified from the Borough Cleansing Department. My duties involve the sorting and preparation of designated domestic refuse for the recycling plant adjacent to the Headless Chicken Roundabout on the Great Southern Bypass, a building of little architectural merit, and I can only add that were I not blessed with quite exceptional inner resources I would find my duties there tedious in the extreme.

However, an unexpected discovery some three feet below the surface in the pile of discarded glass and ceramic items that I have been employed to categorise gives me reason to believe that the tide of my fortunes may have begun to turn. The item in question, which I have wrapped in the Sunday Independent of last week for protection, appears to be an item of military ordnance of quite advanced design and capability.

I don’t have the object with me, as I thought we might discuss the terms of any transaction in advance of your inspecting the merchandise, so to speak, but I can tell you that in appearance it resembles a conventional artillery shell, about two feet long, eight or nine inches in diameter and pointed at one end. It’s also extremely heavy for its size. What makes it rather interesting though, in my educated but non-specialist opinion, is the lettering on the rear. It states that the military reference code for the item is W33, that it is a tactical nuclear device, and that its ‘yield’ is 5 kilotons. There is also some information about restricted personnel and all the usual American military gobbledy-gook.

Oh yes, it’s undoubtedly American. And I seem to recall that the American military base at Downham Market – or was it Greenham Common – was invaded by women protestors some weeks ago. I wondered at first why I hadn’t read of any report of a missing nuclear device resulting from that incident, but then I suppose it’s quite possible that the American authorities wouldn’t have publicly acknowledged the loss, or indeed that I might have overlooked the item, as my interest in newspapers tends to be restricted to their thermal properties.

Now I feel that there is a moral dimension to any business arrangement that we might come to, and so I’m going to require, absolutely insist, I’m afraid, that you put your signatures to a written agreement, which I will need you to type out for me, that you will not under any circumstances use this nuclear device to blow people up. As experienced terrorists I’m sure you’re fully aware that this isn’t in fact how nuclear weapons are used. Once you actually set one off, its tactical value is entirely lost. Tactically speaking, you have played your only card and no longer have anything with which to bargain. The last thing any terrorist group, or national government (which is pretty much the same thing) wants to do with a nuclear weapon is detonate it. Don’t you agree?

Good. I was certain that you would. Now, shall we discuss the delicate matter of a fee?

© sirat (sirat on OLD UKA)
UKArchive ID: 33646
Archived comments for Murphy's Moment
e-griff on 27-09-2014
Murphys Moment
A light piece that entertains but with little depth (as intended I accept). Conventional.

The only quibble I would have is the messy first sentence of the second para which needs clarifying.

Short and sweet!

Thanks.

Author's Reply:
Thanks John. Your conventional comment. I can't really see the messiness of that first sentence, they're all a bit convoluted, it's the man's style. If it entertains, I'm happy.

e-griff on 27-09-2014
Murphys Moment
A light piece that entertains but with little depth (as intended I accept). Conventional.

The only quibble I would have is the messy first sentence of the second para which needs clarifying.

Short and sweet!

Thanks.

Author's Reply:
You can say that again.

bluepootle on 28-09-2014
Murphys Moment
I absolutely love the juxtaposition of the voice with the plot. I was expecting a tale of glory days but instead we get a nuclear weapon. A great, surprising angle.

You've got two uses of 'tactical' in the last para - I think it might benefit from cutting one of them. I really like the fact that he lectures the buyer on good use of nuclear weapons. What a complete character the narrator is in only a few paragraphs.

Author's Reply:
Thanks Aliya. I was aiming at comedy of course, the main joke being the pomposity and self-importance of the old hobo. Glad it worked for you. I'll get rid of that second 'tactical'.
David.

TheBigBadG on 01-10-2014
Murphys Moment
I like how it slides off the expected path. Very much set up for one thing but before you know it LP is weighing up the market value of a nuclear device. Full of ridiculous leaps of faith, of course, but that's part of the charm. Weirdly, most of all I wonder how much of the opening sentences to believe, like his name and thespian roots. Silly really, but that's what I doubt first more than exactly how he contacts a terrorist organisation! There's a touch of the Emperor Norton to him in fact, one of my favourite oddballs from history; He's magnanimous, wise and essentially deranged. I liked it: Unexpected and enjoyable for it.

Author's Reply: