Monday, 31 August 2015

The Hostess

Warning: contains scenes of a violent and sexual nature. 
Aiste smiled at the man opposite and excused herself, she’d already found out that he didn’t smoke so knew popping outside for a quick fag would be a good way to get rid of him. She grabbed her wine and her lighter and headed away from the bar hoping that Eddie wouldn’t be there when she got back. She didn’t mind Eddie, he bought her drinks and he was a nice enough guy, quite cute in a way, but he was obviously married and obviously only after one thing and tonight that didn’t interest Aiste.
She felt the cool blast of air hit her as she left the bar and suddenly felt dizzy, how many wines had she drunk? 3 or 4? not too many but she didn’t want to finish the glass she had in her hand. She crouched down and emptied the liquid onto the pavement. There was no need to drink it, someone would always replace it.
She lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, that was better. She rested her head for a moment against the cool glass of the shop window behind her and closed her eyes. She inhaled again tasting the bitter smoke at it tickled the hairs at the back of her throat.  She held her breath before breathing out through her nose. Her little red dress clung to her body like it was scared of heights, her high heels were a threat to low flying planes, and her cheekbones could be used to cut glass.
She looked at her cigarette, disappointed it was nearly gone, she would soon have to go back inside, back to work. She hoped Eddie would have lost interest and started talking to one of the others or gone back to his friends. But he’d invested his time and his money. She tucked a loose strand of dark hair behind her ear, stamped out her cigarette, found her fake smile and headed back inside.
Eddie waved at her, her heart sunk a little. She smiled her best smile and signalled she was going to the toilet.
She flushed the loo and pulled up her knickers, she readjusted her skirt and smoothed it down, was she putting on a bit too much weight? Life as a bar hostess was taking its toll, late nights, loads of wine, it was fun when it was fun but on nights like these it felt seedy and the results of her excess where showing in her hips. She opened the door to the cubicle and let out a little squeal. There in front of her was Eddie, larger than he’d seemed before, more grotesque. She didn’t like the look in his eyes, they seemed to be undressing her with all the prowess of a cobra. 
‘How about a bit of fun then?’ He said.
Aiste froze to the spot. Eddie took a step forward, he was leering at her,

‘Look what I’ve got for you,’ Aiste looked down to see him holding himself like a flag bearer. She could smell the whisky on his breath, see the flakes of dandruff in his hair, she could almost taste his body odour. He put his hand on her cheek, it was the same hand he’d been touching himself with, it felt clammy on her skin, his other arm came around and squeezed her bum painfully. He grabbed at the material of her skirt, pulling it up to expose her knickers. Aiste was resigned to her fate, she knew that in no time at all he would push himself inside her, there was no escape; she may as well close her eyes and get through it. He lent in and kissed at her face, his kisses wet and desperate. Did he know he was raping her? Or had he convinced himself that she wanted it as much as he did? That word flashed in her brain. No way, no way was she going to let herself be raped. She pushed at him, he fell back out of the cubicle and lost his balance. There was a look of hurt on his face as he tried to deal with the forceful rejection. She thought about using her stiletto heels to add injury to insult but she decided it was better to just get out of there. She adjusted her skirt and headed for the door.

Friday, 28 August 2015

The Ghost of 605

I smiled a weary smile as I checked in - same hotel, same room, 15 months later. I was a bit older, a bit wider but probably no wiser. I remembered that agile, little woman, my experienced virgin. She used me really, used my body to satisfy her sexuality. I wondered if she'd gone back to her husband and told him every detail of our brief tryst, the lust, the passion, the satisfaction. I wondered how he felt knowing his wife had been with me.
It was weird though being back in the same room, it was like I wasn't alone, like I was joined by the ghost of 605, she was with me, close but far away. I wondered if she thought of me like I did her, not often but now and again at those times when I just needed a little bit of encouragement to finish the job. Or maybe she had a string of one-night stands, a coterie of lovers and I was just a face in the crowd, a number on a list, a notch on a bedpost. But it didn't matter, it was gone, in the past, just a ghost in my mind and in my room.
Only later that night it was no longer a ghost, it was a reality.  I couldn’t bloody believe it, she was there, across the bar from me, the same four braying Brits, the same middle class conversation, the same lithe, agile body. Only this time she didn't have eyes for me. I might have well been invisible, whether she'd seen me or recognised me or wanted another go I didn't know because she didn't even look in my direction.
I decided it was time for bed, I put my drinks on my room bill not as ostentatiously as last time and headed up in the lift. How did I feel? I shouldn't have felt anything, it was meaningless sex, a one off, nothing in the scheme of things. But I suppose my pride was hurt, I climbed into bed and tried to sleep, but I was restless and it was hot, I threw my covers off and tried to sleep but I was restless and it was cold. I grabbed the duvet back and lay staring at the ceiling, illogically feeling sorry for myself, knowing that sleep was about as likely as another encounter with my 60 something lover.
But then amazingly I felt myself drifting off, sleep was coming, and then, there was the gentlest of taps on my door. 

If you have a sense of deja vu, check out this story from 15 months ago. 

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Imperfect S

Denny put the bullets in the gun and then carefully placed the gun into the waistband of his trousers. He looked at himself in the mirror, nodded and then took a deep breath. He hadn’t started the war, but he was sure as hell going to finish it. He was no stranger to murder, in fact he was more than just a casual acquaintance of it. Okay this time he was going to kill someone who had been his best friend, but that didn’t matter. Ernie knew Denny’s secrets and Ernie couldn’t be trusted so, Ernie had to die and Denny would have no qualms delivering the killer blow.
When you find your best friend in bed with your girl it hurts, it’s a double betrayal that stabs at your heart and mind. No matter what a tough guy you are, you can’t help but feeling the shame and the pain, the humiliation and the degradation. You can’t help smarting and brooding and plotting revenge.
Sandy had curves that could send a cubist insane; she had a Jessica Rabbit figure that slid from boobs to bum in a perfect S. She didn’t walk, she swayed; her body hypnotising the unsuspecting men in her path and when she took her clothes off she started fires of desires that could never be dowsed. Sandy was quite simply the most perfect thing Denny had ever owned. When he watched her slide out of her clothes in front of the baying crowds of men, his chest puffed out and his eyes burned with pride. They could all look, they could all fantasise, but he was the only one who could touch that milky skin, those curvy breasts and that wonderful pear of a bum. Sandy was his peach, his love, his everything.
Until that was he went back stage and saw her grinding herself into Ernie’s lap, his hands squeezing her breasts, contorting them, disfiguring them, turning pure beauty into gut wrenching, impure ugliness. He was distraught, destroyed, at the edge of despair. How could something so beautiful turn so ugly?
And friendship, did it count for nothing? Denny had idolised Ernie, had trusted him, confided in him and for what? The ultimate betrayal. As he drove hatred coursed through his veins.
Denny parked the car and rolled down the window, he lit a smoke, and puffed deeply. His hand was steady, his breathing normal. He looked at himself in the rear view mirror and nodded, the time was now.
He watched the bastard walking up the street as happy as Larry, he had that butter wouldn't melt in his mouth look that everyone fell for. And there she was, swaying along next to him her arse swing across two different postcodes. He hadn’t banked on her being there too. But this was perfect. Two bullets, two shots, two problems solved. He got out of the car and stood in front of them like a gunslinging, quick draw artist from days of yore. He pulled the gun. 
‘Denny don’t be…’ Ernie had no time to complete what he was going to say. Bang, bang, the shots rang out. Two crumpled bodies on the ground. He turned and got in the car and drove off. Time to start somewhere anew.  

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Not standing anymore

A slight red warning this morning. 
This story is a part two to Standing Ovation
They were at it again, at 3pm on the dot the doorbell had rung and the woman had run up the stairs with Stan in hot pursuit. Julie hadn’t bargained for that.  She’d kind of thought now that she’d taken the role of the lover that he would stop with his Sunday afternoon noise pollution. But no, of course he hadn’t. Why had she assumed that?  Why had she thought he would stop?  She could hear the laughter but they weren't cracking jokes. So quickly there were the tell tale sounds of the bed squeaking and creaking and then the moans and the groans.  If she’d thought it had been bad last weekend when she was ignorant to his touch, it was even worse now that she knew exactly what he was doing. She knew how he was using his hands, his tongue, his mouth. She knew how he smelt, how rough his skin was, how his breath had the taste of coffee on it. She wanted to be the girl, feel her skin next to his, feel his breath on her neck, feel his hands explore her feel... she sighed. It wasn’t her, it was HER.
 Julie had to stop folding the clothes.
‘I’ve got a headache, I’m going to lie down,’ she said. Her husband barely grunted an answer. She climbed the stairs and lay back on the bed, maybe the memory of Thursday evening, coupled with the sounds of the present, would help her rock herself to happiness, but it was no good, the anger, the jealousy, the feelings that she’d been a fool were overbearing, she had more chance of her husband satisfying her than of satisfying herself in this mood. She decided to have a bath; maybe she could wash the envy away.
The bath waters soothed her body but not her brain. She tried to relax but she couldn't, but at least she couldn't hear the sounds from there.
She jumped at the sound of the door, she looked up and saw her husband, it must have been half time in the football.
‘Sorry love, I’m busting,’ He said and lifted the toilet seat. ‘You okay,’ he said once he’d finished his business. She nodded. ‘I see they are at it again.’ he added.
‘Yes,’ she said grumpily.
‘Funny you know/’ he said. ‘On Thursday I had this funny feeling that it was you with him.’
‘What?’ Julie blurted. ‘Why?’ She could feel a guilty verdict forming on her face. 
‘Oh, I dunno,’ Her husband said, there was something about the noises that reminded me of you, ‘but you’re here and they’re there so it can’t have been you.’
He dried his hands and ran back down stairs for the second half, leaving Julie alone to recover from her heart attack.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Open Mic

For audio click here 
I could feel my palms sweating and my hands shaking just a little. I didn’t realise how nervous I would be. Stupid isn’t it, I’ve spent the last ten years of my life performing to audiences of all different shapes and sizes with barely a hint of nerves; but now here, in front of 12 other people I was on the verge of panic. I was meant to be listening to Donald’s poems but I just couldn’t concentrate on his words. His ugly, contorted mouth was moving but all I could hear in my head was a cacophony of fear. I folded the page in my hand and then folded it again, then I reversed the process unfolding the sheet out to its A4 size, then, I started folding again. Donald was still bleating on about his heartbreak in the rain. Tears running down his blotchy face as he recited his heartfelt words.  
Jesus, pull yourself together man, I told myself. Not that I called myself Jesus you understand; it was just an exclamation. I wished I’d prepared more but I hadn’t thought I needed it, I was confident, a good public speaker, and it was my own work, my own beautiful story, the Painter and the MilkyWay, an early one but if not one of my best, then certainly one of my favourites. It had been a toss up between this and Vertigo or the Michael Jackson scene from Rendition. All I had to do was read it out in front of my new classmates and let them comment. There was nothing riding on it, it was only day 3 of the course; no one would be that nasty, would they? So why was my right armpit soaking wet and my tongue feeling like a old, smelly sock.
Donald finished reading; there was a half-hearted smattering of applause. Donald bowed deeply like a conductor at the Last Night of the Proms, and then took his seat looking pleased with himself.
‘Who’d like to start?’ The tutor said.
Everyone looked at me, I was the oldest except for Donald and the gobbiest, but I was consumed by my own stage fright. 
‘Um, when did you write it Donald?’ I said. It was an old trick, ask a question that I knew was derisory but seemed perfectly innocent and take the onus off me.
‘This one is about two years old,’ he said. I nodded waiting for someone else to say something, which to my great relief they did.
‘So Gareth you’re next,’ the tutor said smiling at me.
I stood up and looked at the piece of paper that had more creases than Keith Richards. The ink was just about readable. I took a deep breath and started to read.
‘It was a dark night and Batjack was in the Batcave.’
This wasn’t the Painter, this was Batjack a story by Jack aged 7 and 3/4s.
‘When suddenly he saw the bat signal in the sky.’  I must have picked up my nephew’s story instead of mine as I ran out of the house. It was a good story, a good structure, good imagination but I am not sure it quite fitted the bill for a first week of an MA in creative writing.  The strange thing was I couldn’t stop reading. I knew it wasn’t my story but the words kept fumbling from my mouth.
‘And the Police Chief said how can we ever thank you Batjack and with that Batjack was gone.’
I sat down to stony, awkward silence.
‘Right, Mary I think we’ll have you next.’ The tutor said. Was he saving me from the humiliation of the comments, or saving my colleagues from the embarrassment of having to give them?

Monday, 24 August 2015

The Rubber Bands Mystery

Also available on Smashwords
The Rubber Bands Mystery - An Archer Stanley Mystery. 
For audio click here
There are some jobs that you just don’t want to do and this was one of them. I’d been putting off the trip up to the big house for days, until Molly insisted I went. She was sick and tired of Mrs Collymore’s constant calls. Mrs Collymore was an old widow, who kept herself to herself. She’d lived alone up at the big house since her husband died some 40 years before. I’d done business with her from time to time, she wasn’t as crazy as the schoolyard tales made her out to be,  but she was a bit of a strange fruit. The first time I’d worked for her she’d been convinced that her family were trying to kill her. They weren’t, they were planning a surprise party for her. The second time she wanted me to save her cat from a tree, like I was some kind of private fireman. So god knows what she wanted this time.
‘Mr Stanley, thank you for finding time to come,’ she said. Did I detect sarcasm in her voice? I smiled and nodded.
‘How are your cats, Mrs Collymore?’  There was certainly sarcasm in my voice but she didn’t spot it.
‘Oh they are just fine,’ she said. ‘Tipsy here had an operation a few weeks ago, but she’s better now, aren’t you Tipsy? And you know my son Dave has a new wife? Oh he is so happy.’
I didn’t know Dave and I didn’t care about his wife. ‘What can I do for you Mrs Collymore?’
‘I think I have a ghost,’ Mrs Collymore said. I tried not to roll my eyes; she really knew how to waste a man’s time.  
‘Every morning I wake up and I find these scattered around the house,’ she said, and held up some coloured rubber bands. ‘Someone or something is scattering them around the house.’
‘Could it be the cats?’ I asked.
‘No, they are kept in one room at night and the bands are always in exactly the same place,’ she said.
‘This isn’t really my thing, Mrs Collymore.’
‘Make it your thing, Mr Stanley,’ she said and handed me a large wad of cash, enough to certainly tempt me into becoming a Ghostbuster.
I didn’t believe in ghosts, I was brought up in the Scooby Doo school of thought; you just needed some pesky kids to uncover the truth. It looked like I was taking the role of the pesky kids.

I got back to the house at 10pm, the time Mrs Collymore said she went to bed. The plan was that I would sit in the living room and watch for the ‘ghost’.
I settled down on the sofa and took a mouthful of the coffee Mrs Collymore had made for me. Man it was sweet, she must have put half of Jamaica in it. I decided I didn’t need coffee to keep me awake. I bade Mrs Collymore a good night, turned the lights off and waited.
The first hour passed without incident, I wished I was home in bed with Molly but instead I was in a stuffy sitting room waiting for a non-existent ghost to appear. The second hour I got fidgety, tired, bored, frustrated. By the third hour, I was fast asleep, snoring contentedly on the sofa – maybe I did need that coffee. 
But then I was wide-awake, sitting up straight wondering where the hell I was. My heart was beating, there was sweat on my brow, the hairs on my arms were standing up and I had goose pimples on my legs. Something had disturbed my slumber, I sat in silence listening for sounds. I‘d remembered where I was now and my eyes were growing accustomed to the darkness, but my ears were still my best tool. The old house was quiet, I’d probably just heard a creak or a crack of the floorboards or the cats playing, or maybe my brain had told me I shouldn’t be sleeping and woken me up with a start. My heart rate was getting back to normal.
But there it was again. A noise, a small, dainty noise like someone tiptoeing around the house. It was getting closer, small steps, pause, more steps, I tensed. I’d had guns held in my face, been hit by baseball bats, come face to face with gangsters but I’d always felt in control. The only control I had here was an element of surprise but could you surprise a ghost?
I tried to pull myself together, I knew there was no such thing as ghosts but it is hard to convince yourself of that when you are sitting in a large, old house in the dark in the middle of the night, listening to a strange noise coming towards you.
The living room door creaked; surely ghosts don’t need to use doors. My eyes were glued to it waiting to see who or what would come through it. The door swung open, there was nothing, no one came in; the room went cold, freezing cold. I shivered, the draught cooling the sweat on my brow. I knew I had to get up to see what was there but for now, I was glued to my spot.
Then a ghostly figure came through the door, grey, drawn, dressed in white. I jumped and moved to the furthest corner of the sofa as the 'ghost' of Mrs Collymore came through the room, carefully places rubber bands in different places. She was oblivious to me, her face contorted in concentration. The placement of rubber bands seemed to be precise and pre-planned. Once she had completed her task she turned and went back through the door, closing it carefully behind her as if not to wake herself up.

 Also available on Smashwords

Friday, 21 August 2015

That will Teach You

When there’s a big date in your diary you kind of think the day will never come. You bury your head in the sand and pretend nothing is happening. That is why I was kind of surprised to find myself on a plane between Prague and Heathrow on the latest of my big adventures. Yes, I was coming back to Britain for 6 months, moving home, leaving one life in limbo and starting a new one. Was I scared, excited, happy, sad, nervous, unsure? I didn’t know. I tried to smile although the butterflies in my stomach were dancing a merry dance and making me feel decidedly sick.
As I got off the plane I saw two men in blue uniform coming towards me, they had border patrol on their lapels. I smiled and carried on walking but they had eyes for me.
‘Can you come with us please sir?’ The one in the turban said. I looked at him making sure he was speaking to me.
‘This way,’ he said and stretched out a hand guiding me away from the crowds and through a door marked ‘private’.
‘What’s this about?’  I said, I wasn’t too worried I hadn’t done anything wrong. But the two men ignored my question.
‘Charmin’’ I muttered under my breath.
‘Wait in here sir,’ the other man opened a door to a room that was hardly big enough to call a cupboard. ‘We’ll take that,’ he said, taking my laptop bag from my hand. I went in and heard the door lock behind me. There were two chairs and a table squeezed in and a fierce, artificial light burned overhead. This was getting odder by the minute.
I sat down on one of the chairs and leant back. I was sure this was just a silly misunderstanding; I would be out in no time at all. I closed my eyes and listened to the constant hum of a busy airport. Even backstage I could hear the muffled announcements and the roar of the jet planes; it must be a terrible place to work.
The clock on the wall rattled as the minute hand sprang to mark another minute gone. I was glad I had gone to the toilet just before the seatbelt signs were switched on, otherwise I would be busting now.
The minute hand continued to rattle its count, the room felt small and stuffy. I was hot under the collar and getting more than a little perturbed.
Had they forgotten me? I wanted to get up and try the door handle but I knew it was locked, I’d heard the key. In films the prisoner would bang on the door and rattle the handle before slumping on the table in despair, but this wasn’t a film so I resisted the urge.
Three minutes later I was banging on the door before slumping on the table in despair, this was ridiculous. What on earth was going on? I’d been here nearly an hour, locked in this tiny broom cupboard for no good reason I could see.
The woman who unlocked the door was as scary as she was beautiful. She was sharp. She looked at me with a degree of contempt and then sat down opposite me.
‘Who are you?’ She said.
‘Gareth Davies,’ I replied.
‘That’s what your passport says, but who are you?’
I shrugged.
‘If you are who you say you are, why are you traveling on a fake passport,’ she stared at me so intently I thought I might burst into flames.
‘I’m not.’ I squeaked. 
‘Where did you get this?’ She waved my passport.
‘Newport passport office,’ I said.
‘Try again,’ she said.  ‘Look “Mr Davies” we know this is fake, you know this is fake, so start talking and maybe, just maybe you won’t be in as much trouble as you are in now.’
I had no idea what was going on, my passport was genuine, I’d picked it up myself.
She stood up, turned and left but this time the door was left unlocked.
Two minutes later the man with the turban came in with my bag and announced I could go. I stood up and left, a little bemused but pleased to be free to continue my journey to my new life.
On my way out I heard laughing, I peered into the room where it was coming from. The sharp woman was talking to her friend.
‘That’ll teach him to write sarcastic letters,’ she said.

‘Too right it will Siobhan,’ came the reply.

If you enjoyed this then please try Extraordinary Rendition., you'll love it.