Short fiction

Issue #10


‘Brown leather’s no good,’ Felix says, looking at Micah’s shoes. He turns to the tailor measuring Micah’s white in-seams. ‘Make sure they’re tighter than last time.’

‘What’s wrong with brown leather?’ asks Micah.

‘It’s boring. It makes you look boring. We need everything black-and-white. Mainly white.’

‘Why? Just let me wear clothes. My own clothes. You never fail to make me look like a prick.’

‘Wouldn’t work.’


‘It’s about good and bad. Right and wrong. If you go out wearing all the colours of the rainbow, nobody knows what you’re supposed to stand for. You wear white, then they know.’

‘White shoes?’

‘No. That would be stupid. You can’t wear all white. It looks arrogant. Like you think you’re perfect or something. You wear black shoes to remind them that you’re human and flawed, that you know you’re human and flawed. You wear brown shoes and you’ll remind them that you’re human and boring.’

‘That’s bollocks.’

‘You think so? Fire me then. Walk on stage wearing nothing but a scarf and suspenders. God knows what you’d say seeing as I write every word that comes out of your mouth.’ The tailor’s tape measure snaps as he closes it. ‘Also don’t swear. They don’t like that. Damages your image.’

‘I don’t swear when I’m out there. I just swear at you.’

‘What about him?’ Felix says, pointing to the tailor. The tailor looks confused. ‘He just heard you.’

‘I don’t think he cares.’

‘I don’t care,’ the tailor says. He starts measuring Micah’s shoulders.

‘I can talk without you,’ Micah says to Felix.

‘Yeah? When’s the last time you read something? When’s the last time you went out there and said something that didn’t come straight out of my head?’ Micah is silent. ‘We need to do something about your stubble, too.’


‘Shave it.’


‘It disturbs the purity of your appearance. Makes you look dirty. Nobody trusts the dirty ones.’


The tailor finishes his measuring and motions for Micah to remove the suit. He rushes out and returns moments later with black leather shoes. ‘Thanks,’ Micah says to him. ‘I guess we’ll take it all...?’ He looks to Felix. Felix nods.

‘Good,’ says the tailor. He pauses expectantly.

‘Come on. Pay the man,’ says Felix. ‘This isn’t part of my expenses.’


Micah hired Felix two years ago, back when Micah gave motivational talks to new business owners. The ad in the phone book had said ‘FELIX REID: PR CONSULTANT’. Instead of any specific information there was just a picture of Felix being intimidating in his shiny dark suit. ‘I want to increase my profile,’ Micah told him when they first met. Felix just laughed.

‘That’s not going to happen in your field,’ he said. ‘I’m not saying you can’t perform, but we need to move you into an area where you can really strut. Something emotive and engaging. Then you can really prosper. My cut’s thirty percent. How does that sound?’

‘I’m not switching fields,’ Micah told him. ‘And your cut is ten percent.’  


Felix’s car looks just like Felix. Micah sits in the passenger seat. The bags under his eyes seem even darker against his new clothes. He fiddles with the buttons on his new white jacket.

‘If you pull one of those off, I’m not driving you back there,’ says Felix. ‘Now, let’s run through it again. It just wasn’t working last time.’

‘I thought you said it was better last time.’

‘Better than when it was terrible.’

Micah pouts but lets it slide. ‘Ok, well the first and last impressions are the most important. First I walk out and ask them the question.’

‘Come on. Be more specific. I’m testing you here.’

‘I ask them if they want to be saved.’

‘You ask them if they want salvation. Saved makes it sound passive. They need to know that this is something they’ll have to work for.’ 


‘And how do you end?’

‘I don’t know. I could sing.’

‘What an awful idea. Don’t do that. Do something charming and mysterious. Wink or something.’

They stop briefly at Micah’s house so he can eat. Felix is a restless house guest, constantly picking things up and examining them, then putting them back in slightly the wrong place; smirking at the floors and the furniture as if to say, ‘Who the fuck is your interior designer?’  Micah gets himself a bowl of cereal and looks dejected.

‘You going to offer me anything?’ Felix says.

‘Yeah. Sorry. Can I get you a drink or some food or something?’


The harsh sound of a clock marking the hour rings through the house and Micah shudders.

‘Jesus,’ Felix says. ‘It’s a clock, not an air raid siren.’

‘It’s not mine.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I don’t know where it’s coming from. That noise. I keep trying to find it. It wakes me up constantly.’ He runs his hands through his hair. ‘I’ve barely slept the last few years.’

Felix just shrugs. ‘Fuck it. At least you actually listen to me when you’re tired.’  


When they arrive, the arena is overflowing. Felix grabs Micah’s shoulder before he goes on-stage.

‘Don’t forget this. This is the hook,’ he says, handing Micah a fountain pen. There is a wall of screens backstage, monitored by people with headphones and microphones and phones, all sitting in swivel chairs. Each screen displays a different angle on the stage. Felix casually pulls up another chair and faces the centre of the wall, surveying the screens with his hands on his knees. He turns back to Micah. ‘Go on, then.’

Micah steps out and already some of the audience are on their knees. He flashes them a smile and even next to his white suit his teeth gleam. In the centre of the stage is a white sheet stretched across a metal frame like a canvas. Micah stands in front of it and looks like a chameleon. ‘Do you want to be saved?’ he screams. He hears Felix swear off-stage but ignores it. The crowd roars a manic chorus.

‘It’s something intangible and internal,’ Micah continues. ‘Your spiritual potential. It’s something you have to work for. It’s something you have to strive for. It’s something you’ve lost. The world was created clean. Man was created spiritually clean.’ Micah takes out the fountain pen and presses it to the white sheet behind him. ‘Then sin came into the world.’ He flicks the lever-fill on the pen. The ink jets out over the sheet, bleeding through it until it’s dripping black. ‘Iniquity entered the world through us and what was pure became impure. Light became dark.’ The crowd goes quiet out of respect for this turn to the sinister. Micah smiles but only with his mouth. ‘But there’s a way out,’ he says, looking out over the faces. ‘Who’s first?’

The crowd rushes the stage like a singular animal. When each sweating person reaches Micah, he sends them reeling in ecstasy with a touch to the forehead.    

Before he leaves the stage Micah says ‘God bless’ and gives the audience a wink so drowsy it’s almost a blink. Felix waits for him, enraged.

‘You forgot! Moron!’ he screams before running on-stage. ‘Ladies and gentlemen. Micah Tate is supported entirely by charitable donations. If you could find it in your hearts to contribute he would be deeply grateful.’


Back in Felix’s car, Micah’s head lolls against the window. ‘Twenty each. I can live with that,’ Felix says. ‘I mean, you completely cocked it up. Your opening was off, you pulled the pen too late, and that wink made you look like you were having an embolism. But I can live with that.’

‘Cheers,’ says Micah.

‘Let’s get something to eat. Here.’ He hands Micah his phone. ‘Book us a table at Il Controllo or somewhere.’


Micah works his cutlery slowly. He plays with more of his food than he eats. The chefs ring a tiny bell each time an order is completed. It sounds like the chime of a clock. Micah shudders every time.

‘We’re going to visit Mrs. Grava after this,’ Felix says. ‘See if you can’t help her on the way to recovery. She actually asked for a home visit. That’s fucking progress.’

‘Which one’s Mrs. Grava?’ says Micah.

‘The fat one who wears ponchos all the time. Looks like a boulder wrapped in a flannel.’

‘I’m not sure I can face it tonight. I’m tired.’

‘You’re always tired.’ Felix lays his cutlery down on an empty plate. ‘You finished?’


Felix waves a hand to summon a waiter and asks for the bill. ‘Paying by card,’ he adds. By the time the waiter arrives with the machine Micah’s head has drooped onto his shoulder.

Felix nudges him. ‘Come on,’ he says. ‘Pay the man.’

Andreas Hadjivassiliou

© 2014