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Compartment 114
Compartment 114


A Story by Angela Flynn

A snapshot into Harry's head, where the outlook and processing are a little different to the norm, coupled with some unexpected family news.


   Harry and Margie were watching TV on a typical Tuesday night. Every Tuesday they would watch Bones, Criminal Minds, Castle and then CSI Miami. Margi would then go to bed while Harry would spend hours at the kitchen table working on his jigsaw puzzle.

   Harry was very set in his ways. His daily routines had been followed for over sixty years, and any disruption after such time was not taken lightly.

   “Harry, can you flip it to channel four? The Olympic opening ceremony is about to start.”

   Harry ignored his wife’s request and continued watching Bones.

   Margie waited until the ads came on before asking again.



   “Can you put it on channel four?”

   Harry’s usual neutral expression was replaced in an instant with a frown. He was confused.

   “Channel four?”

   “The Olympic opening ceremony is on.”

   Harry was confused. He looked at the remote patiently sitting on the right arm of his chair, as though expecting it to tell him which channel he should be watching.

   “But Bones is on.”

   “But Bones is on every week darl. The Olympics is only a once every four years event.”

   And so the four yearly conflict begins again for Harry. Weeks of potential interruptions to his usual TV viewing routine meant weeks of high anxiety, confusion and frustration for Harry.

   Harry could understand the logic behind watching the Olympics, being it was on only a few weeks every four years. But it was Tuesday, and they always watched channel one on Tuesdays.

   Harry was relieved to hear the phone ringing. Margie disappeared into the kitchen to answer it, and harry tried to lose himself in the TV, but was frustrated at the internal conflict he was suffering because he couldn’t forget about the Olympics on channel four. He toyed with the idea of watching both channels simultaneously. He thought about flicking between the channels, but was overwhelmed with having to think up a way to do this systematically and also the knowledge that in doing so he would effectively be missing portions of both shows, which was as constructive, in his opinion, as turning the TV off.

   As though reading his mind, Margie, now off the phone, walked up to the TV and turned it off.

   “That was Caitlyn. She’s coming around.”


   “She has something to tell us. She sounded upset.”

   “How long till she gets here? It’s a bit late now isn’t it? Surely she’s not too upset that this can’t wait till tomorrow?”

   Margie shot Harry a look that made it clear that yes, their daughter Caitlyn was upset, and no, it couldn’t wait till tomorrow morning. Harry didn’t like company arriving without plenty of notice. Ideally, at least one day’s notice, so he could wake up knowing whom he would be interacting with that day.

   Resigned to the fact Caitlyn was coming over he could see no point in arguing about it any further with Margie. So he pulled himself out of his chair, hitched up his pants, and shuffled to the kitchen table to assume his visitor routine.

   When company would arrive they would sit around the kitchen table, either watching Harry patiently putting his jigsaw puzzle together while rocking back and forth rhythmically, or trying to fit pieces in themselves. It always pleased Harry when his guests would help him with his puzzle, and Caitlyn would spend a lot of time helping.

   Within ten minutes of sitting down Harry could hear the gate latch being manipulated, followed by the rusty protest of the hinges. The security light flicked on, illuminating the concrete at the end of the driveway out the kitchen window at the back of the house, followed by a quiet, polite knocking on the back glass sliding door.

   “It’s open!” Harry called out on cue.

   Caitlyn appeared in the dimly lit room. Her face was pale and her hair a mess. Her clothes looked dirty, covered in dark patches. She didn’t make eye contact with either of her parents. She wasn’t capable of making eye contact with anyone. She was trembling.

   “Caitlyn, what’s wrong?” Margie asked.

   Caitlyn, silent, continued trembling.

   “Cathy?” Harry was confused. Why was his daughter standing there? Why wasn’t she speaking? And why was she shaking - it wasn’t cold.

   “It’s Jamie.”

   “Is he okay darl?” Margie asked as she stepped toward her daughter.

   “No, he’s not okay. I think I killed him.”

   Margie stopped advancing towards her daughter, realizing the dark patches that covered her clothes were most possibly stains from Jamie’s blood.

   “Is that, blood?”

   Caitlyn just stared at her mother. Looking at her daughter, Margie had never felt so helpless before. Caitlyn burst into uncontrollable sobbing.

   “What happened darl?”

   “I don’t want to talk about it.”

   “Are you okay?”

   “She said she doesn’t want to talk about it Margie! Christ, leave the poor girl alone.” Harry scowled at his wife, rocking. Then turning to his daughter said, “Do you want to sit and help your old dad with this puzzle?”

   “That would be good dad.”

See my Behind Harry blog entry for the inspiration behind this piece!

© 2011 Angela Flynn

Author's Note

Angela Flynn
Do you want to read the next bit?! Do you get the impression that something is not quite normal with Harry? Who or what is Jamie? What will happen next?

My Review

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Yes I would like to read the next little bit. I was very intrigued by your story. I thought that Harry was a little cold by not caring about what happened. That was certainly interesting. This is a great story, and I think you wrote it very well.

Posted 13 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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1 Review
Added on February 18, 2011
Last Updated on February 26, 2011
Tags: murder, autism, routines


Angela Flynn
Angela Flynn


About me, wish this question was more specific! Well, what makes me me...I have four children, live on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria at the moment (though I think I left my heart up far north Qu.. more..