JITTERY. 16-down, "Nervous or unable to relax (7)". Loud voices in the street drown out the TV. I put down my crossword, walk to the front window and part the curtains. They're at it again, the neighbours across the way. I can see them pointing and shouting at each other under the pale street lights.
"Right-o, can everyone hear and see me?" asked Julian, who, as leader of the Five, had scheduled the Zoom meeting. "Yes," his brother Dick beamed back, "splendid stuff!" Cousin George responded with a curt nod of her short-cropped head. "Woof!" "Timmy likes it, too," chipped in Julian's sister Anne.
Elliot parked at the side of the road close to the beach. He grabbed a brown-bagged mini-bottle of tequila and the salt shaker and lemon he'd pinched from the restaurant where he worked as a kitchen-hand. "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" was on the radio. Elliot turned it up loud to hear it over the breaking waves.
Bad News (England, 1993): The evening news was depressing—all bad as usual—and the weekend weather looked just as gloomy. I got up and went to the kitchen. "Do you want another wine?" I called back to my wife. No response. I'd swear she's going deaf, but she hears everything I mutter under my breath.
The Gym (England, 1993): "Come on, Winnie, push." Winston arched his back and strained against the bar. "Push!" The muscles in Winston's arms and chest burned. He closed his eyes, let out a primal roar and fully locked his arms. The weights rattled for a moment before Winston steadied the bar. "Yes!"
A Council Flat (England, 1993): The sound of the twins fighting in the bedroom filled the flat. Their screams drowned out the drone of sport on the TV and the sizzle and bubble of dinner on the kitchen cooktop. "For Christ's sake, Ruth," Stu bellowed over the TV, "shut those bloody kids up, will you!"
Bosnia (Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1993): The explosives devastated the peace of the valley. Tibor had covered his ears, but the thudding explosion set off bells in his head again. He dropped his hands as dust and grit rained down on him and his men. When the dust cleared, it revealed the shattered farmhouse.
Westminster (England, 1993): "Madam Speaker, I —" Baxter groaned and lifted the pen. He stuck the end in his mouth and sucked on it, searching for a better opening line. He crossed out the first words and started again. "Madam Speaker, the —" His pen froze again. "Damn it, why won't the words flow?"
"And now the piece de resistance," the old Colonel announced, leading his guest into a sunlit garden. "What do you think?" he enquired, waving his walking stick at the garden's centrepiece. Two life-size marble figures stood face to face, their hands caressing each other, their lips fused in a kiss.