There was something odd about Strangley Lane. Actually, there were many things odd about Strangley Lane. The houses along the lane were odd, as were the people who lived in them. The little newsagent’s shop was odd, and sold odd things. The church was odd, with odd little gargoyles peering down from the steeple. Even the vicar, who preached from the pulpit, was not as you would expect; yet oddly, the congregation never seemed to notice.
The only person in Strangley Lane who wasn’t odd was Spud. -- though isn’t being the only person who isn’t odd, just a little bit odd?
They called him Spud because you can’t get much more ordinary than a potato.
It was said the name Strangley came from the fact that the path led to the gallows which dispatched the black of heart in the olden days. It was said that it was the daily passage of condemned souls through the village that had imparted much of the oddness on the lane. Spud thought otherwise.
Rather, he thought to himself in an oddly quotidian manner, the oddness was an artifact of the town's long defunct lithium mine and refinery just outside town limits. The half dozen spires still appeared to respire scant wisps of effluvium from time to time, even though the doors had closed many years ago, and the condemned souls no longer passed through the village on their way to the lithium industry's oddly meagre employ.
No, the oddness had its fores within the boundaries of what was rumoured to have been a failed Superfund site, despite the assurances of the oddly agreeable team of remediations specialists sent by Union Carbide. They appeared, and as quickly disappeared, shortly after the outsourcing of the entire plant's production to an oddly aboriginal village unencumbered by the profit-trimming burdens of minimum wage and child labor laws, and other bourgeoisie constraints to free enterprise.
Soon thereafter, the dankmoat encircling the former compound began spreading even as the edges crumbled inward with a curious alkali exudate that never completely dried. Every spring, since the mine's entrance had been shuttered and the refinery's whistle silenced, clots of granular yet oddly viscous ordure percolated through the ground like grim fairy circles. The breezes had always carried the oddly metallic scent of proto-pharmaceutical production out over the river, and only on the warmest nights did the town become bathed in the refinery's distinctive odor. "Uncle Carbide's in town again," the residents would whisper, oddly complacent and unruffled by the fine slurry of metallic silt that accumulated in their gutters and sifted into their oddly planted gardens.
Spud secretly relished his ordinariness; a silent rebellion against the even oddness of the populace. He'd never experienced the hair loss, dry mouth, itching, or joint pain of the news agent, or the constipation, gas, bloating and restlessness of the blacksmith. Nor had he been subject to the village idiot's inability to control shaking a body part; let alone his frequent urination. The vicar's crossed eyes seemed to linger a bit longer on him than he'd thought appropriate for a man of his station, but perhaps it was just the excess saliva in the vicar's mouth that seemed, well, odd.
His wife, a pale, acned lass with thin, brittle hair and a slurred manner of speech, considered him oddly appealing despite his mundane demeanour and unexceptional appearance. Not long after their first awkward kiss at the foot of the old gallows, she bestowed him with the moniker he carried, a result of an oddly memorable date that resulted in the need for immediate medical attention. His erection had lasted more than four hours before becoming painful, but he'd experienced a sudden, severe loss of vision and a rash before fainting away. This man, she told herself, would be hers, if he survived.
"Spud", she softly called to him as he lay in the doctor's anteroom, awaiting his return. "My poor spud, my spud horse, my love. I'll pake care of you, I'll pry anything, anything at all, just pell me you'll live."
Opening: anon......Continuation: Mistress Claudia Balzac