2015 Winner: The George Reade Cup for Humour – Liz Cook

Liz Cook

My computer and I go back a long way together.  I am more familiar with her than I am with my own lover.  The former was my companion in my “nothing good will come of you” days but my lover met me under somewhat different circumstances.  I spend more time with the former too so my ladies are not fond of each other.  This is why I try to keep them apart.  It is my misfortune that both the women in my life come with jealous natures.  They fight like cats for the attention of this old dog.  My lover likes my success but that doesn’t stop her resenting the time I spend in isolation maintaining it.  There are parts of my lover that remain a mystery to me but when it comes to my Queen Bea my fingertips have stroked every key on her board.  Sometimes I press her buttons with gentle consideration but other times I am more demanding.  I can be relentless.  I can press her hard.  We drive each other mad.  There are times we have virtually ignored each other.  Our creative partnership has been punctuated with periods of unforgiving accusatory silence but she always keeps me coming back for more.  I intimately know my way around her hard drive.  I excuse her idiosyncrasies.  Ours is a love hate relationship.  I love her unconditionally.  She unequivocally hates me in return.  I talk to her regularly but she rarely listens.  I plead with her but she invariably chooses not to oblige me.  For her, and her only, I sacrifice my pride and I end up going down on all fours to worship her.  It goes something like this:-

“I’m begging you baby don’t you error me today pleasssse not today of all days!”

“Come on honey save for me save me damn you why don’t you save?”

“Please sweetheart please just this once do it for me first time without asking.”

“You really do have a mean streak of a hard drive!”

“Noooooooooooooooooooo you stupid cow I can’t believe you went and did that to me.”

“You useless piece of rat shit one of these days I’m going to treat you like you bloody well deserve just you wait and see if I don’t.”

It is ironic that my lover is jealous of the relationship we have with each other.  Perhaps I should let my bed partner witness what I have to say to her perceived rival.  I wonder whose side she would take.  I can hear my poor stuttering excuse of a defence “but Darling don’t you see she brings it all on herself.”  You can understand why I think it’s best to keep them away from each other.

Bea puts on airs and graces and has a dirty little habit of constantly pleasing herself.  Being a true gentleman I have never so much as laid an angry finger on her though I all too frequently have strangely satisfying dark fantasies of smashing her to pieces.  I am all bark but she has one hell of a killer byte and she scares the living daylights out of me.  She is the keeper of my secrets.  I have to keep her sweet because she knows things I haven’t even told my agent.  She’s a taker.  I’m a giver and in my desire for tranquillity I just shut up and put up but enough is enough.  It is time to end her reign of tyranny over me.  Her superiority has pushed me to my limit.  It’s time she learnt I am her operating system and that without me to boot her up she is nothing.

I’m as old fashioned and loyal as they come but I’d decided the time to get her fixed up had come.  She gave me the look.  I told her straight “You’ve only yourself to blame Madam.”  To be honest she was lucky I wasn’t going to end our relationship and replace her with a sexier younger model.  At her age my Bea would find herself a deposed Queen whose useless old carcass is tossed onto the scrap heap.

I told the sales man about our situation but he didn’t understand.  Derrick gave me his best banter and I interrupted his word perfect pitch with my throw him off his track questions.  Derrick then asked me one of his own.  When we established that I was who he thought I was and that I knew he was my greatest fan ever and that nobody ever understood my books like he did Derrick got a second wind.  It took the poor spotty faced you don’t look old enough to work for a living boy wonder a while to understand that I understood the language he was speaking.  It’s true that I’m an old fart who earns my living sat on my arse stark bollock naked at home but Derrick finally realised I had a real live working brain that was familiar with more than the contents of a dictionary.  Life with Bea had taught me the art of long suffering patience and to give poor put upon Derrick his due he took the time and trouble to talk me through the technical aspects of our relationship.  In return I listened patiently to his surprisingly knowledgeable answers.  As far as ‘psychotherapists’ go Derrick was pretty damn good.  His final analysis of the situation was impressively spot on.

I finally settled, with Derrick’s beaming “that’s the choice I would go for” approval, on a new bit of software that had hit the shelves with the unlikely name of ‘Demption.’ I did have a moment of foreboding when Derrick first told me the name but as I’m not Scottish I didn’t feel the need to worry about a large quantity of rain falling on me so perhaps it would all work out the sunny side up of fine.  I didn’t believe it would change my life.  I did believe the upgrade would give the old girl a new lease of life.  I also thought the peace this would bring into both our lives was well worth the exorbitant price tag.  All I wanted was for the time the pair of us had left together to be easy on us both.  I didn’t think this was too much to hope for and after all she was my lucky charm.  We had written each and every one of my novels together and I don’t think I could do it without her and that cute little antique of a bitch knew it.  We also both knew that with all her faults if I didn’t want her then some geek of a collector would take her in, give her his heart and his unconditional love and undivided attention.  In return she would inspire him as she had me.  She had that effect on you.  She also knew that between the two of us that in reality it would be me that would end up on that scrap heap I so frequently threatened her with.  How would I write without her?

She was constantly on my mind so I as soon as I got home I sat down and processed the instructions.  I did exactly what it said on the box but then the box hadn’t met my computer and my old girl was having none of it.  She wasn’t impressed with having her fandangles thingamajigged around with and I was not without sympathy for her.  We were both set in our ways. I knew I’d hurt her feelings but then we wouldn’t be in this mess if she’d taken mine into consideration in the first place.

In the end we declared a truce and agreed our terms of surrender.  Bea decided to be more obliging in the future and to do what she is asked at least some of the time.  In return for her gracious behaviour towards me I gave my Queen a stay of execution with the warning that if she continually misbehaved it would be time for her, so help me woman, to pack up her bits and leave.  There comes a point where a man has to lay down the law especially if his publisher has given him an advance and an immovable deadline.

I took the eye watering frighteningly exorbitant advance swallowing ‘Demption’ back to the store and more importantly to my number one fan.  I came prepared.  I gave him a personally dedicated signed first edition of my recent triumph for his pains.  This was my way of thanking him for the loss of his sale and his ‘have I died and gone to heaven commission’ that went with it.

And so it came to pass that with some unashamed bribery and corruption I got my bank balance, my sanity, and more importantly my Queen Bea and I a well-earned redemption. My agent will be able to sleep again knowing that Bea and I are reconciled and we will still be buttering his bread.


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