Friday, 31 July 2015

Brain Freeze

This free short story is brought to you by the author of Maggie's Milkman and Extraordinary Rendition. 

For audio click here

The little girl sat on the bench looking at her ice-lolly with a mixture of excitement and confusion. Just moments ago she'd hurriedly unwrapped the lolly and stuffed it in her mouth, but now her head throbbed in a way that she'd never experienced before. It was a dull pain, her whole head seemed to be aching, she wanted to grab her head and squeeze the pain out of it. She was about 3 years old; her hair in tight bunches on the side of her head, she had a confused look on her face. She looked at the lolly in her hand, the delicious chocolate covering the wonderful strawberry sorbet - had it really caused this pain? She greedily shoved the lolly into her mouth again and sucked it. The pain was nearly unbearable; she pulled it out screwing her eyes tight shut while clutching her forehead with her little hand. She tentatively opened her eyes and looked at the lolly quizzically; how could something so delicious, so lovely, cause such pain? She waved it like a magic wand inspecting it from all angles looking for clues. Blue fluffy clouds drifted across the sky and the sunshine warmed her face, the ache in her brain slowly subsided. 
Now she was faced with a dilemma; should she have another go at the lolly and risk the pain or should she throw it away? She'd wanted that lolly all day, badgered her mum, badgered her gran, and finally got her granddad to come up with the goods, but now she wasn't so sure. She was disappointed, baffled by the change. She shook her head, like she'd seen her mother do when her mum was disappointed with her dad. Then she thrust the lolly into her mouth as if momentarily forgetting the pain it was causing her, the chocolate was warmer, the sorbet was melting, the taste spread across her tongue, it was the best thing she'd ever put in her mouth and her head was fine, no ache, no pain. A smile spread across her face, normality had been restored. 

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Thursday, 30 July 2015

The Silver Bullet part 3

For part 1 click here, for part 2 click here
For audio click here
To buy Maggie's Milkman for £1.99 click here 
Right let's get on with the story. 

Hristov smiled when he saw me, his smile was much more genuine than Wilson’s. He was my new best friend and I knew he’d answer my questions.
‘Getting bored of Molly,’ he said. He always said this. He’d told me I could have any girl I wanted when Molly got too much.
‘She’s still a star,’ I said and nodded towards his office.  We went in and he poured the drinks, not out of the expensive bottle I noted.
‘What can I do for you Archer?’
‘Your name came up in conversation,’ I said. He looked suitably interested, ‘about a death threat.’
‘Archer,’ he looked a little irate, ‘you know I don’t do death threats.’
No, you just kill the bastards, I thought to myself but I was wise enough not to say it.
‘I know Hristov, but I am collecting information, how well do you know Wayne Wilson?’ I asked.
Hristov looked blank for a moment, then seemed to remember the name. ‘Financier?’ He asked. I nodded. ‘Sleazy son of a bitch?’ He added.
Hristov ran a brothel, he knew sleaze when he saw it.
‘Born again sleaze,’ I said, this time Hristov nodded.
‘He wanted to borrow some girls,’ Hristov said. ‘Had some big function, wanted to impress some investors. We had a little argument about the bill, nothing too serious, he just wasn’t keen on paying.’
‘But you persuaded him?’ I said. Hristov smiled, telling me all I needed to know.
‘We came to an understanding,’ he said. I knew Hristov, I knew from personal experience he didn’t hold a grudge, if Wilson had paid, it was the end of the matter.
‘You know someone called Knoyle?’ I asked. Storm clouds drifted across Hristov’s face, he knew him all right.
‘I’m a busy man, Archer. Got to get on.’
‘C’mon Hristov,’ I said. ‘You know what you tell me stays with me.’
‘He’s a drug dealer,’ Hristov said quietly. ‘I try to keep my girls clean but he is persistent. We fall out from time to time. He got a bit more heavy after Santa died. Be careful if you go after him.’ I thanked my new friend and headed away. Maybe there was more to this than met the eye.

I found Andrews exactly where I expected to find him, propping up the bar in Copelands. He looked the worse for wear already, but that suited me. The drunker he was the more he would sing.
‘Get the man I drink,’ I said to the barman and put a note on the bar. Andrews looked at me wearily.
‘Tell me about Wayne Wilson,’ I said.
‘What’s to tell?’
‘Does he make any trouble?’
‘He’s small fry, thinks he’s a player but he’s neither one thing or another. On the edge of legal, as I said, there’s nothing to tell.’
‘How about this business with his wife?’ I signalled to the barman to refill our glasses.
‘You mean the bullet?’ He said, I nodded.
‘Fuss about nothing, if you ask me, she’s invented the whole thing.’
That thought had crossed my mind.
‘What do you know about Knoyle?’ I asked.
‘Now he is a player. You be careful with that name,’ Andrews slurred.
‘Second time I’ve heard that today.’ I said.
‘Well, whoever you speak to gives you good advice.’ The copper said.
‘Where can I find him?’ I asked.
‘He’s a drug dealer, Archer, they are only found when they want to be.’
‘Give me a clue.’ I said.
‘Try Rayer’s.  A little bird told me he’s set up shop there.’

I put some more money on the bar and walked out. It was time to head home. Molly was waiting for me.

For part 4 click here (available from Saturday 1st August)
To buy my second novel, Extraordinary Rendition click here

Wednesday, 29 July 2015


For audio click here
Alert Maggie's Milkman is just £1.99 / $3 from Amazon and Smashwords, find out more here
The white car's engine idled gently in the street outside the café. The sun shone off the windscreen in such a way making it impossible to tell if there was a driver inside or not. It wasn't a car, it was a SUV, one of those big anti-social jobs that middle class people drive their little Camillas to school in. In between checking his Facebook and his email, swigging his coffee and watching the pretty waitress with the angel tattoo do her thing. Vic kept his eye on the car, not really watching but being aware it was there, slightly out of place. Yes, there were plenty of similar vehicles on the streets of Prague but most of their drivers turned their engines off when parked rather than keep them running for 20 minutes.
The man on the table opposite also seemed to be aware of the vehicle; he kept glancing at it suspiciously before returning to his papers and laptop, or barking more instructions into his phone in Czech. He looked like the kind of businessman that walked along the edge of the law, flirting with the underworld, dicing with danger but always coming up smelling of roses. He wore a black t-shirt with a leather suit-style jacket and had a thick gold chain around his neck. He picked up his phone again, glancing at the car, his face was red and puffy, his eyes bulged, and his collar seemed too tight. He looked like he was a cheeseburger away from a heart attack. He was an angry man and he didn't like the white car stationed outside the cafe. Maybe it was his car and he was angry with his driver for the engine running, keeping the aircon on, or maybe it was the police watching him, keeping him out of temptation.
He ended the call, snapped his laptop shut, gathered his things and, leaving a note on the table, he got up to leave the cafe. Vic watched him waddle towards the door. The waitress leaned across Vic’s table filling his nostrils with a wonderful perfume. As she took away his coffee cup, Vic saw the window of the SUV glide slowly down and a pistol emerge. Whoever was in there, was going to shoot the businessman. Vic's Czech was not great, he wracked his brain to think what to say. What would he say in English? Duck! He knew that in Czech.
'Kachna' he shouted at the top of his voice and when the man ignored him he yelled it again.
Then a shot rang out and the man crumpled to his knees, blood spread on the floor, colour seeped from his face.
Why hadn't he listened to Vic? Why hadn't he ducked? It would have saved his life.
‘What the hell did you do?’ The waitress with the angel looked angrily at Vic.
‘Me?’ he said. ‘I didn't do anything it was the white car.’ Vic pointed but of course the car was gone. ‘I tried to warn him.’
‘Warn him? By yelling Kachna? How is that warning him?’ The waitress said. ‘Why didn't you say k zemi or something?’
It was then Vic realised that whereas duck has two meanings in English, the word Kachna in Czech only meant one of them and not the one he'd needed.
Did I mention  Maggie's Milkman is just £1.99 from Amazon and Smashwords, find out more here

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Girl with the Cigarette

For Audio Click here.
Alert Maggie's Milkman is just £1.99 from Amazon and Smashwords, find out more here
and To buy my second novel, Extraordinary Rendition click here
‘Have you got a light?’ 
Her voice was husky, sexy, seductive. She was only asking for a light, but her voice was promising so much more.  

Jimmie slowly pulled out his vintage zippo and waved the flame below her perfectly formed nose. She sucked in, caressing the cigarette with her lips in a way that sent a shiver down his spine. 
Jimmie noted the long eyelashes and perfect skin.He was meant to be on his way to meet Carol, but she could wait. Jimmie had something new on his mind and he hoped something new in his bed. 
The girl with the cigarette blew out the smoke and lent in towards Jimmie.
‘What's your name?’ she said. 
‘Jimmie,’ he whispered, ‘you?’

‘Martha’ the girl breathed. 
It was a perfect name for her raspy voice. Jimmie felt her breath on his chiselled cheek. He cupped his hands and lit his own cigarette. 
He knew if he played his cards right, he'd be going home with this woman and he was holding an ace and a king and the dealer had bust. What could possibly go wrong?
Carol was now a figment of Jimmie's memory. He'd remember her tomorrow when Martha's ship had sailed. They chatted a bit while their bodies got closer and closer, but they still hadn't touched. She lent in, was this the moment they kissed?

‘What does Carol think of your behaviour?’ she said.
He pulled away like her words had electrocuted him; he looked at her, his actions betraying his guilt. There was a hint of a smile on her face; the hunted had become the hunter.
Jimmie had lost his cool. 
He ran his hands through his hair, then he lit a new cigarette trying to regain his composure.
‘Who’s Carol?’ he asked, but he knew it was too late, and it was about to get later.
‘This is,’ Martha said and looked to where a tall blonde emerged from the shadows. Jimmie saw a glint of light in Carol’s hand as she slashed the blade across his chest.
Jimmie clutched at the wound, but no blood poured; there was no pain. Carol had inflicted damage much worse than a flesh wound. Skin could heal, but the leather jacket would never be the same again.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Back to School

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Alert Maggie's Milkman is just £1.99 from Amazon and Smashwords, find out more here
First day of a new school year, just as he'd done for the last twenty years Mitch wondered what this year would bring. He wearily slipped into his suit. As he always did at this time of year he wondered why God hated teachers so much. Why did he compress the school holidays into just a few seconds? Why was he so cruel? Every year that six weeks seemed to get shorter and shorter and every year the back to school adverts got earlier and earlier. Never mind keeping Christmas in December, how about keeping Back to School campaigns in August. Seeing those adverts before school even broke up was soul destroying for teachers, reminding them their 6 weeks of parole was just a temporary respite from the incarceration of the classroom.
Mitch reflected on his 19-year teaching career, had kids got harder to control or had he moved further and further away from them in age? He'd kind of understood, Tamagotchi and even Pokemon but he didn't understand Minecraft or FIFA 16 or Meghan Bloody Trainor. No wonder the kids were bored in his class.

And then there were the keen colleagues, the ones who spent the summer brushing up on their skills, who claimed teaching was a vocation not a career. Well if it was such a vocation why did he spend his time wishing he was on vacation.
You'd think at his age the butterflies would get smaller. But over the last few years Mitch had faced the new year with a growing sense of trepidation; new students, new targets, new curriculum, life was never easy.
He collected his thoughts, collected his things, wished himself good luck and headed out of the door and into the unknown. The nerves were terrible, bordering on a panic attack. He recognised the signs, he’d had a few last year; hiding in the stationary cupboard for half a lesson on one occasion. Were the self-doubts surfacing again? As he drove to school, he'd felt himself getting sweaty, dizzy, breathless. He had to pull over and take a walk to compose himself. He considered not going in at all; just turning he car around and going home. After a few deep breaths he decided to go through with it. After all it was only 9 months.
Mitch sat in class feeling shy, feeling nervous. Students filed in, God they looked young. Or maybe he was just old, too old for this. Mitch felt all eyes were on him, like he was being assessed, judged, laughed at. He felt alone, exposed; he quickly looked down to check he was dressed, that his fly was done up, that he didn’t have egg down his tie. Why hadn't he turned the car around? He’d be home by now, back in bed. He could feel the panic rising again, he tried to battle it, he took a deep breath and straightened his tie. He was being silly, paranoid, the students were so wrapped up in themselves they’d hardly noticed him. The noise began to die down as the class settled. Mitch looked up, it was time to start.
'Good morning,' his teacher said, 'and welcome to day one of your M.A. Course, we hope you enjoy the year.' 

Friday, 24 July 2015

The Panini Sticker Album

For audio click here
Alert Maggie's Milkman is just £1.99 from Amazon and Smashwords, find out more here
James collected women like 10-year-old boys collect Panini World Cup stickers. Anyone who has collected those stickers knows there is something special about unwrapping a new packet, seeing what delights it held, holding your breath as you reveal the contents and then the feeling of elation or disappointment depending on the goodies inside. Soon you would be craving a new packet; the new was always more thrilling than the old. James was never satisfied with what he had, he always wanted more and more and when he saw one of his friends with one he didn't have, he craved and coveted it, until he finally got it and if you spent enough money, you usually got what you wanted.
But unlike those 10-year-old boys who proudly stuck their stickers in their albums, James was scared to make the commitment; instead he kept them all over the place. Often losing track of a few and letting the others get tatty and old. But then James met Kirsty, Kirsty was the Cristiano Ronaldo sticker of the female world. Graceful, elegant, skilful, incredibly good-looking and extremely difficult to get your hands on, she was the one everyone wanted. The one that nobody could quite believe existed until you saw it and even then you couldn't be sure if it wasn't your eyes playing tricks on you. James would swap all of his stickers for a chance to get Kirsty into his album.

The problem was Kirsty belonged to Eddie and there was no way Eddie was going to let her out of his grubby little hands. He’d got her firmly affixed to his album. Eddie knew he had a gem, knew he had a rare jewel and he'd do anything to protect her.
Like any ten-year-old who couldn’t get what he wanted, James got moody, he began to hate going to the pub, he hated the thought of having to sit and look at his unrequited love for the whole evening in the knowledge that she'd never be his, that there would always be an empty space staring back at him where her sticker should have gone.
But one night a miracle happened, Kirsty was sitting there in the pub as beautiful as ever, but next to her was a double, a spare, a duplicate, whatever you called it; there was another Ronaldo, Kirsty had a twin.