Flash Fiction Friday: The Brief Journey of the Malcontent, Doctor H. H. Foster

Dr. Foster went to Gloucester in the pouring rain. He had not intended, when he woke that morning, to go to Gloucester or, indeed, anywhere at all, but circumstances of a pressing nature had unexpectedly arisen, and thus he found himself donning his hat and his coat and venturing forth into the downpour. It was a cold and blistery September morning. The rain, which had started the previous evening with a relatively harmless drizzle and drazzle, had proceeded during the night through the varied stages of mizzling, tippling, luttering, and plothering and now resembled nothing so much as a deluge of biblical proportions[1]. Nonetheless, Dr. Foster, clutching an umbrella in one hand and a well-wrought traveling bag in the other, made his slow plodding way to the train station irritably jostling the other pedestrian’s umbrellas and becoming, ever more ill tempered and disgruntled.

It must be said, in all honesty, that Doctor H. H. Foster’s[2] irritable temperament was not an altogether uncommon occurrence. Indeed, even when he was not graced with such ideal circumstances for irritability, Dr. Foster could generally be relied upon to furnish his own rationale. No longer a young man, Dr. Foster had been raised under the auspices of his Great Aunt, an uncommonly stern and opinionated woman even among that set which is largely defined as stern and opinionated. She had been possessed of very definite ideas regarding education, behavior, and, curiously enough, headwear[3]. Dr. Foster had therefore, received an eccentric[4] upbringing. He was not particularly fond of his Aunt. She had, after all, been a firm believer in ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ and had not been given to either sparing or spoiling. Dr. Foster was, however, enormously fond of the substantial fortune she had left him in her will. It had allowed him to retire from the terribly coarse business of dealing with other people’s medical problems and live a life of leisure and comfort. He went to an expensive tailor for his suits, to a shirt maker for his shirts, and a shoemaker for his shoes, an indulgence that would, no doubt, have annoyed his Aunt immensely. Dr. Foster was more irritable and wet than ever when, within sight of Cannon Street station he slipped on the street corner, where a thousand other pedestrians had slipped, into a rather large puddle. He sunk up to his waist, his expensive shoes undistinguishable in mire, his tailored suit ruined, even his well-wrought traveling bag splattered with mud. Grumbling to himself, Dr. Foster pulled himself out of the muck and decided then and there that he would never again go to Gloucester[5].


[1] Which was unfortunate, since no one had yet demonstrated the foresight or wherewithal to construct an ark, or ascertain how animals might be compelled to board said ark. A gentleman of the Royal Society was believed to be pondering just that question with an untimely lack of results.

[2] His given name was Humphrey Foster, the first H. being purely ornamental.

[3] She was heartily opposed on general principle, which made any excursion difficult given popular fashion. She once referred to London as “an excrement of confounded hats!”

[4] and hatless

[5] And he never did.


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