Category Archives: Dick Knipple

Spilt Milk

It had been a quiet morning for Dick Knipple. The kids had started back to school after the tortuous six week summer break and he had managed to get an hour’s lie in. He’d been up for ten minutes now and his head was just about regaining its conscious equilibrium. The sound of his wife vacuuming the living room, which had annoyed him intensely just a few minutes earlier, was now only mildly aggravating. He stood in front of the whits porcelain toilet evacuating his swollen bladder and gazed out of the window at the front garden, which was highlighted in the late summer morning sunlight. As he felt the relief of the mornings first pee sweep gently across his lower torso, he noticed a black cat scurry past the window.

“Clear off, you bastard,” he muttered.
The cat turned to look his way. It could not possibly have heard Dick’s curse, but was presumably aware of his presence and was beating a retreat to avoid the likelihood of a missile which might follow its progress. It paused only to look towards the source of the tell-tale sounds that had disturbed its investigation of Dick’s black refuse sack. The cat was one of four belonging to Sue Grewcock, a neighbour whose husband, Hugh, had failed to provide her with any children. As a result she had gathered this surrogate family about her.
Dick hated the cats. They came into his garden and urinated on his plants. They tore open his rubbish sacks for food scraps and dug holes in his borders. He had once owned a cat but it had left home and had last been seen on the small Council estate at the beginning of the next village. He had also had a number of dogs over the years. Since the last one had died – chasing a cat, possibly even this one – he had decided not to have any more animals. They were, he had decided, simply a nuisance and made a mess of his home with their hair, saliva and faeces. Having made this decision concerning his own potential pets, he was not about to tolerate the intrusion and incursion by the feline frippery of his neighbours.

The cat had by now disappeared up the garden path. It crossed the road and Dick could see it walking up the drive opposite, which lead behind the houses lining the main road. It jumped up onto the top of the fence surrounding the Grewcock’s back garden and onto the shed roof where it stopped, sat down and peered round towards Dick’s house. It lifted its back leg until the foot was pointing skywards and began licking its bottom, occasionally stopping and checking in Dick’s direction. It looked most peculiar when it was checking, with its head low down to the shed roof and its leg pointing up and the bulk of its body arched to one side, as if someone had cut off its head and placed it by its bottom.
With this image in his mind, and a broadening grin breaking across his face at the thought of making it a reality, he shook the drips off his penis, sheathed it and zipped up his trousers. Pushing open the bathroom door, he noticed a pile of letters lying on the mat where they had fallen after the late delivery. It was unusual, he thought, to get so many in the second post. Dick bent down to pick them up and noticed, coming from under the front door and trickling down the threshold, a stream of white liquid. Curious, he opened the front door and saw to his horror that a milk bottle had been upended and had lost its top. Its contents were spread in a roughly circular puddle about a yard across, the edge of which was disappearing into Dick’s house. There were feline footprints heading away up the path.

Furiously Dick bent down and picked up the empty bottle. He stood up sharply and glared in the direction in which he had last seen the cat. The cat had seen him come out of the door and had stopped its preening. It had jumped down from the shed and started to slope off along the drive away from Dick’s house. It was now about fifty yards from where Dick stood fuming, and was getting further away with each step. Without hesitation Dick leant back as if taking part in an Olympic field event.

“You absolute bastard,” he yelled at the top of his voice as he uncoiled his thrower’s stance, letting go the bottle on its fateful way. Foolishly, on hearing Dick’s outburst, the cat stopped and turned to see what the fuss was about. It stared straight at Dick and seemed not to notice the elevated trajectory of the bottle as it screamed down out of the air and exploded on the tarmac four feet in front of it. Glass shards sped across the driveway towards the cat. The startled black beast bolted in panic. To Dick’s great delight, it was so shocked by the unexpected bomb that it ran headlong into the side of a concrete garage and knocked itself unconscious, Dick was happy.
“Retribution at last,” he thought. “That’ll teach it.”

He knew it wouldn’t teach the cat anything really – except not to run into garages – and he knew that it would probably be back tomorrow to do the same thing. He was having a good morning now, though, and nothing could possibly bring him down. He turned to go in and noticed the torn refuse sack. He paused briefly to clear up the strewn vegetable peelings and tins, and then continued inside to have his breakfast.
Dick Knipple did not consider himself a violent man, nor even a cruel one, but the thoughts he was having now, about the fate of the next cat to cross his front garden path, were far from those of an animal lover. He felt justified in his murderous plotting because he so loved his garden. It was a source of joy and relaxation to him, and that was a precious thing in his world of daily misery.

He hated his job and despised those neighbours whose work seemed to bring them pleasure. They would return home from work as if they had been to the park and they always appeared to be equally as happy in the morning when they climbed into their shining new cars after having kissed their wives goodbye on the doorstep. He, on the other hand, had to face the daily worry of whether his old Ford Escort would start or simply fall into a heap of rust where it stood. It had given him so much trouble in the past six months that he dreaded going out in it in case it gave up the ghost somewhere inconvenient, like in the middle of the busy High Street of his local town, Romsey. He could imagine the people staring at him, getting more and more irate as he tried to push it out of the middle of the road. Why was it, he wondered that no-one ever stopped to help in a situation like that, but merely leaned on their hooters and increased the embarrassment of the poor person whose transportation had been sadly amputated.

© Richard Holt 2012

Dick at a loss

Dick sat by his computer and began to wonder what could possibly fill the dark tedium that had become his life of late. True, he still had his cats, and they were indeed a great source of companionship not to mention amusement and objects upon which Dick could vent his swollen spleen. But there was something missing. If he could just put his finger on what it was he might set about correcting the imbalance and hopefully achieve a more graceful state.

At that moment Tinker sidled into the room and began her incessant conversational curtailed meows. She had the knack of detecting Dick’s darker moments and would come around and rub herself against him meowing and looking up at him. Unless of course she jumped onto the desk and rubbed herself against his face, which was tolerable, but was followed by a momentary pause just as her bottom reached level with Dicks nose. A site guaranteed to put one of one’s breakfast and usually ending with a quick flying lesson for the cat.

This time Dick was in a more pleasant humour and was in need of some reassurance, even if it was from a feline friend rather than the current apple of his eye. Dick was in love again. But, more to the point, unrequited love again. It seemed he just couldn’t break the code that got one mutual admiration. Oh sure, he could make a good friend of anyone; he was reliable, honest and trustworthy. Maybe therein lay the problem. He just wasn’t dangerous enough. Either that or he was taken for a dirty old man. He just couldn’t win.

Not that being in love was the problem. Dick had become used to feeling strongly for one of his female friends after another, only to be gently disappointed as they declined his amorous advances, deferring to the preservation of friendship over only the possibility of a successful union. No, it wasn’t that. What he had begun to realise was that there was nothing that he wanted to do. Nothing that he had dreamed of doing that he had not done. Was it possible that he was just very easily satisfied or that he just had no imagination? Or perhaps he was indeed on the right path; after all, not wanting was a prime of some Buddhist teachings. Whatever it was, here he now sat, looking at the blank screen.

He didn’t want to go back to work just to feel like he had a purpose, because working for someone was not his purpose. Who could say what his purpose was? It had seemed to Dick, looking back over the years of his life, that he had spent short periods of a few years associated with people during which time he had started to help them out of personal or emotional crises, sometimes had a relationship with them, and parted on good terms, with both parties feeling as if they had gained something from the experience. Not so much a do-gooder as a hapless instrument of fate that synchronistically appeared at the right place and time and parted similarly. It was as if he had gone back to the office and was still waiting for his next assignment. It had been this way for weeks, months even. Could he have been retired off?

Was it just that he had been so busy trying to do the right thing for someone else for so long now that he had forgotten to have any interests of his own with which to fill his spare time; spare time being a thing that he had never had before as a busy parent and homemaker. Now, however, he had it by the bucket-load.

© Richard Holt 2012

Settling In

It was, another shitty day! Okay, Dick felt well, and the weather was not too bad for early winter in this desolate hole far removed from the town lights which he was used to, but something was wrong and he just could not put his finger firmly on it. It was as though he was in mourning for something and despite the music playing on the CD player in the kitchen, and despite busying himself with the more menial tasks of keeping his large home running, he felt decidedly glum.
The Rayburn crackled its way through the softwood logs which Dick had loaded onto it and belched unmanageable heat into the surrounding kitchen air. Dick was already quite warm after his small exertions of the morning, He loosened his shirt collar, opened the end window and sat down at the kitchen table to ponder his peculiar mood.

The ginger tom on which he had taken pity, renamed Fluffy, and homed when his lodger had plead its case — as a deserted and otherwise friendless creature — sat on the sill and meowed to be let in. Although he had now become quite fond of cats — he had eleven including the kittens — Dick was of a mind to hurl something, with blatant disregard for the intermediate pane of glass, at it. Fluffy had been performing this ritual now since it had been decided to keep all the animals outside in the hope of retaining a clean environment, free from the minefield of cat poop of previous weeks. It had also almost perfected the knack of pulling itself up to the bottom of the upper sash of the window frame and peering through a small patch of missing glass whilst hanging on with its front paws lodged in the gap and its back feet pressed on the lower window bar, displaying his private parts. He would push his nose through and plaintively howl to be let in. Sometimes he succeeded in drawing coos of sympathy and achieved his aim of entry by this unashamed show of cuteness.

Now, however, this sad act of a cat with its sad act was not making the desired impression on gloomy Dick.
“Bugger off you bastard!” hissed Dick. He picked up his tobacco pouch and began to roll a cigarette, trying to ignore the muted pleas from outside the window. He was feeling rather tired, having got up earlier than usual to ensure that all of his children had managed to drag themselves from the warmth of their pits into the refrigerated realities that were their bedrooms and begin the daily grind of dressing while half asleep.

Whatever he had tried to do it seemed impossible to get all of the children to go to bed at a reasonable time. There was always something or other which delayed it until there was no way of getting a good, full night’s sleep. Often there was the impromptu meal at a friend’s house or something good on the television and with the older two it was quite often that they didn’t want to miss anything that may be happening in “adult’s” time. They would wheedle and claw every extra minute that they could until they reached Dick’s limit of tolerance, came up against his common sense override and took a severe tongue-lashing. This would usually result in the offender sloping off to bed in a bad mood, muttering all the way to the top of the house, where they would sit in their room, doing anything apart from sleeping, with rebellious thoughts swimming around in their heads. Of course it was them who would pay the price in the morning but this somehow escaped their young minds in their states of tiredness.

The sound of claws scraping the glass of the window behind him caused Dick to turn round. He saw the usual sight of Fluffy hanging precariously by one claw from the halfway bar of the window. Dick rose, walked toward the window and bent down to peer into the cat’s eyes.
“Hello Flu-fly”, he said in his softest, most affectionate voice, then suddenly slapped the pane of glass between them. The effect was surprising for both cat and man as the glass, presumably ages old, shattered. Fluffy, so alarmed by the glass pressing out at speed towards his face, forgot where he was and released his hold on the window bar. He went tumbling into space, got one and a half feet onto the sill and spun a full aerial somersault over onto the ground, regaining all four feet.

Dick was catatonic with delight, so much so that he was unconcerned by the small splinters of glass in his hand. The window was broken but all the shards remained in place. He straightened them all up and popped them back into contact with each other so that they reformed the sheet of glass. The roll of adhesive tape in the drawer soon had it as good as new — at least the surface was safe and it was draft proof— and Dick made a mental note of yet another little job which he had to do.
Next he began the necessary micro-surgery on the glass splinters. They came out without trouble in the jaws of his daughter’s tweezers. The small punctures bled and Dick rinsed his hand under the cold tap. His mood somewhat better he decided to rewire one of the sockets in the kitchen and add another for the toaster, a couple of jobs which he had relegated again and again down the list of priorities.

The time seemed to pass rather slowly just lately. Dick had gone through a separation from his wife just a few months before and had been very depressed about it. It was not the fact his wife had left him but it was that all his plans and dreams had disappeared, or more accurately, the way he thought it would be when they had moved was not in fact the way it had turned out. He had been away at university at the time and had been under an illusion that all was well back at home and that everyone was waiting to be reunited in their new home in Wales. The truth, however, was quite different. His wife had found herself attracted to their best friend, with whom she and their daughter were lodging, and had decided she could not live without seeing him. This was a cruel irony thought Dick, who had at times joked with his wife when she complained about his lateness to bed, that she should go and see Jeff. He knew that this would be a safe thing to say as his wife considered Jeff to be repulsive at times because of his strong smell of sweat.

Jeff was an idealist who had had an education through public school, came from a fairly well off though eccentric family, and was astonishingly arrogant. He did not believe that a person should wash too often and even then should not use soap. He also wore his clothes past their “sell by date” and washed them by hand in water or simply hung them out on the line to air. Dick thought this may be the purist’s way, but for him it meant that he had to smell the purist. Although Jeff had been his friend before he had removed his wife he had found it very difficult being in the same enclosed space with him.

Although at first it had been a cruel blow, it transpired that, with the passage of time, it had proved to be a blessing in disguise and Dick had begun to learn a great deal about himself and about his feelings through it. Furthermore he had come into contact with women again and was now in a position to allow himself to fancy them. He had made his feelings clear to a few of them and was pleased to find that he could be close to all of them while not actually having a proper relationship and all the unseen baggage which that state arbitrarily entails. He had reached new heights in his abilities to relax in their company and was pleased that he could now hug easily. He had in the past found it difficult to show that kind of affection or even to acknowledge in himself his need for a real hug.
His first “new” hug had happened one evening when he was round at Derek and Susannah’s house. Dick had been feeling a bit lower than usual and was talking to Jed and Alice who were sitting there when he arrived.

‘”I think that the DSS should open a cuddle or hug bureau”, he said, “for people like myself who are feeling low and feel the need for someone to pat them on the back and tell them everything’s alright,” he continued,
Dick had decided over the course of the previous week that a hug was what he needed but could not decide the best way to go about getting one. One of the women that had entered his life was attractive, the same age and was also a single parent with six kids. Dick thought she would be the best one for the job, and probably the most likely to oblige. But how to go about asking her without it seeming like the worst chat-up line in history. After all he only wanted the comfort of a caring embrace, but somehow it was even more daunting a proposition than if he were to ask her for sex outright.
Dick voiced his dilemma about how to ask someone for a hug. All had been said in a light-hearted fashion and Dick was quite surprised when the reply from Alice came back not in the same form, nor mocking but as though she had taken him seriously.

“It’s funny,” she said, “Jed and I were just talking about this the other night. We were saying it’s a pity that the English feel that they cannot give anyone a hug without there being some sort of standing contract between them.”
The remark was true! It did appear that you could not touch, let alone hug, another person without their consent, need to know your motives and probably your family history as well. Yet some people could walk up to a person and hug them. Dick supposed that he, and probably half the population, had been miseducated to associate hugging with sexual intercourse and not allow it just to be a way of getting close to someone and allowing each other to feel the warmth and peace of that closeness. After all it is probably the first feeling we all ever have, that of the reassurance of our mother’s embrace.
Slightly lifted by this insight he walked into the kitchen where Susannah was making a “brew”. He chatted briefly with Susannah about his birth chart which she had been looking at for him. Susannah was an amateur astrologer and had done quite a bit of reading on the subject. Between her and Derek they had a wide knowledge of its many facets. She said she had not had enough time to read it fully but had a few things she would like to talk to him about. Dick told her that his life felt as though it were levelling out. She hinted that he was in for some sort of changes and her smile was some indication that these changes were going to take Dick by surprise. The smile gave no clear insight whether they were going to be good or bad and Susannah would not be drawn on the subject saying that she would like to finish off looking at the chart first and that it would be better to discuss it when things were a little more peaceful.
Intrigued Dick returned to the front room. He attempted to sidestep Alice, whom he thought was making her way in to see Susannah in the kitchen. She stopped next to him and got hold of him in a powerful hug saying “Come here,” as she pulled him in to her. Dick didn’t know what to do. Alice was a lovely woman and he indeed found her attractive, but she was with Jed and they were seemingly a permanent item.

“But wait,” thought Dick, “what a hypocrite I am being. I am falling for that miseducation stuff!” And he let himself fall into the hug, put his arms around her and just felt the warmth and security of the embrace. It was just like being comforted by his mother when he was a kid and it felt wonderful and all was right with the world.

© Richard Holt 2012