Friday, 29 January 2016


For audio click here
It was official, Mark was invisible. He’d thought he might have been for a while now, but he finally had his suspicions confirmed in Debenhams. Perhaps not the most obvious place to notice your lack of presence, but when the girls with the aftershave didn’t offer him a squirt, he decided to look in the multitude of mirrors to check he still existed. To his horror, he wasn’t there. Although he knew damn well he was there, he was alive and he was in the shop, there was no reflection. Mark had become the invisible man; he had an unwanted superpower and he was afraid to use it. 
Most people would love to be invisible, but few would use their power for good. They’d sneak into the home of someone they fancied or into the boss’s office. They’d find out gossip to take back to their friends when the invisibility wore off. Maybe they’d even ‘cop a feel’ take advantage of their status by committing unseen sexual assaults. But Mark didn’t want to do any of that. He’d hate to know what people were saying about him; he was not the type of person to take advantage, and who wants to watch Sonia Williams having sex with that idiot Chalky? He sighed; Sonia Williams was far too pretty to be involved with a small-time crook like Chalky but she didn’t even know that Mark existed and now, well he hardly did.
He’d been feeling like he’d been drifting away for a while now. He’d noticed that shop assistants would look right through him; people bumped into him on the street and then were amazed when they looked around to see him there; Facebook posts went unliked and his messages lay unanswered for days on end. His phone hadn’t rung in weeks and his voice was becoming so soft that it seemed to be on the wrong frequency for most humans. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been out with his friends and as for women… well. He’d been slowly fading away and now he had gone. 
He sat on one of the benches outside the market hoping no one would come and sit on his lap. What was he going to do? Was it irreversible? He couldn’t go to the doctor’s could he? That was a joke waiting to happen.  Could he ever get his body back, or was it more than just the body that was missing? Had he somehow just lost his soul? 
A family of four was coming towards him; he got up and moved on before he got squashed. He could still feel the rain falling on his head; he could still feet the pavement beneath his tired soles; he could still feet the heavy ache in his head, but the strength to project had gone. As he trudged around town, no one noticed the slight grey shadow on the pavement. He’d had enough, he drifted home and disappeared into obscurity.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

I killed a man today

For audio click here
I killed a man today.
It feels strange to know that a man is dead because of me.
Not murder, or even manslaughter, or soldier killing soldier.
Not even accidental death, or a revenge in prose.   
But a man who was alive this morning is no longer alive now.
He’s gone; shuffled off this mortal coil; passed way before his time.
His friends have already been on the news saying what a lovely man he was. Flowers have been left at the gates of the university where he studied.
His parents, half way across the globe, were woken with news of their son’s demise.
And it was all my fault. 
What did I do?
I was impatient, and my impatience led to the death of a man.
As usual the Cardiff rain was sweeping in from the bay; tiny minuscule drops that make you wetter than you think they should.
I was getting from A to B, and wanted to be at B as quickly as I could.
I saw the man on the other side of the road; head over his phone, umbrella over his head. 
I paid him no heed.
He didn’t concern me.
He was not in my way.
I looked left and right and left again.
In Germany when the red man is on display, you wait for the green guy to come along before you step into the road,
and people obey the rules.
I’ve heard it’s the same in the Far East,
maybe in Singapore where the dead man came from.
But I was not in Germany, or Malaysia or Singapore
I was getting wet in Cardiff; so as soon as it was safe to cross, I walked, regardless of the colour of the lights.
Sensing me step into the road, the man opposite walked
not looking up from his phone; not lifting his brolly to check for on coming cars.
I warned him, I did.  
Look where you are going, I barked.
I could see that he had not seen the oncoming truck.
But he kept his head bowed and his brolly low.
The lorry dragged him a good thirty metres before its brakes worked in the wet weather.
He was dead by then of course.
I can hear you say it was not my fault.
But had I not stepped off the curb;
had I waited for the green man;
had I not been in such a hurry to get out of the rain,
then that man from Singapore would still be alive.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Safe

Sometimes when you read a newspaper story, it is what they don't tell you that is more interesting. This story is based on a true story. More details below. 
For audio click here

“Stop!” Lockie waved his arms to Wills in the cab, “stop!” He yelled again.
Wills sighed. “What now?” He muttered and then pulled the lever and halted the arm of the excavator in mid-air. He jumped down from his perch to see what the problem was.
“Look,” Lockie pointed to wall that Wills had just been dismantling. There was something grey protruding from the rubble. “I think it’s a bloody bomb.” Lockie said.
Both men edged forward towards the object, carefully watching where they put their feet.
“Why would there be a bomb?” Wills said.
“Second World War left over, you often get them round here.” Lockie was the younger man, but had local knowledge.
“It don’t look like a bomb to me,” Wills said.
“So what is it then?”
The circled it, trying to figure out what it was.
“It looks like a safe,” Wills took a step closer. “It is a bloody safe, hang on.”
Wills darted back to his machinery and started the engine. He prided himself on his skill with the excavator. He used the bucket to prise the safe out of the wall like a mother might tenderly remove a splinter in her child’s thumb. Then he picked it up and moved it to a clear piece of land and laid it down gently.
“What are we gonna do with it?” Lockie said.
“Well we’ll have to call the owner; guess he must have forgotten about it,” Wills replied.
“There isn’t an owner.” Lockie dropped his voice. “It used to belong to Serious Stanley Peters.”
“Who’s he when he’s at home?” Wills asked.
“You’ve never heard of Pork-Pie Peters?” Lockie was still whispering. “He was big back in the day. Ran the protection rackets, ran the girls, ran the drugs, ran the lot.”
“So why are we demolishing his house?” Wills asked.
“Well he got banged up didn’t he, then the Police said they had to destroy the bloody house because it was built with ill-gotten gains.”
“So nobody would miss this safe then,” Wills said. “Obviously the police didn’t know it was here and Pork-Pie Peters is locked up, so…”
Lockie shook his head.
 “I’ll load it onto the back of the lorry, we’ll take it somewhere quiet and we’ll see what’s inside.” Wills continued.
“No, no, we can’t steal from Serious Stanley.” Lockie looked scared.
“You said yourself he’s banged up. What’s he gonna do?”
Lockie looked around to check no one could hear their conversation.
“If there’s anything in there that’s worth something, then he’ll find us. He wasn’t a one man band you know?”
“If there’s something in there worth something he’d have come back to get it.”
The two men stared at each other.
“It’s not worth the risk. Let’s call it in.”
“But if we call the police… we’re being snitches.” Wills reasoned. “C’mon we could be sitting on millions of pounds here.” he bent down and started playing with the combination lock.
“How are we even going to get in it?” Lockie said.
“My cousin knows a thing or two about safes. He could get us in.” WIlls straighten up. “Go on, get the truck.”
“Nah I’m calling the police,” Lockie got out his phone and started playing with it.
Wills turned to walk back to the excavator. He jumped back into his cab and took his anger out on the remaining walls.
From his position in the excavator he could see the police cars coming over the hill. He’d calmed down a bit now; he knew Lockie was probably right, but he knew the police would take the safe off and they’d never know what was in it. It was the not knowing that annoyed him; a lifetime of never knowing what could have been. He smiled to himself, swivelled the arm around and brought the bucket down on the safe. Sparks flew as metal met metal, again and again and then the door flew open. He jumped down from his can and went to look.
Lockie was right to call the police; the safe was empty.

Click here for the original news story. When I read it, I cared more about the dilemma the people who found it had than the fact it had been found. Hence my story. 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Time Travel

For audio click here 
Strange how the darkness takes a different hue when there is snow in the fields and fog in the air; more a milky black than a pitch black; a lighter shade of dark. Reka preferred pitch black; it made her blind to the shadows. In this light it almost looked like ghosts hung in the hedgerows; the ghosts of her life? The car hummed along the motorway being watched by silent snowmen, scarecrows, mice and owls as it carried her home. She was glad she was not driving; happy to let someone else take the strain; happy to stare out of the window watching the miles of motorway pass her by. She longed to be at home in bed, cuddled up to the one she loved, but she was four hours from home and the rate this fog was coming down, they might have to add another hour to that.
Reka closed her eyes and tried to let the motion carry her to sleep, but she wasn’t really very tired, and the large late lunch still sat uncomfortably in her belly.
She sensed they were slowing down and opened her eyes.
Up ahead blue and red lights flashed through the fog. Her stomach flipped taking her back twenty-five years as it did. She could still see the faces of those soldiers as they’d made them stop and get out of the car. The crude jokes they’d made about shooting the men and taking the women to have some fun. They’d been searching for deserters or the enemy, and although her and her friends were neither, that meant nothing to the soldiers. The troops were young and scared and bored and stupid and living on a knife-edge fuelled by energy drinks and sleepless nights, and they didn’t care whose side you were on. Eventually they’d let Reka and her friends go, but not before scarring the younger Reka for life.  
As they approached the roadblock, her stomach continued to tie itself in knots. She could taste the fear she’d felt all those years ago. She was staring straight ahead; trying to avoid eye-contact with anyone outside the car. She could see the guns hanging around the men’s necks. She felt like someone had walked over her grave. They were at snail’s pace now allowing the police to have a good look. She willed the patrol not to stop them holding her thumbs till they hurt. To her great relief they were waved through. Obviously the police were searching for the people smugglers that were working the route from Greece. Vesna’s little black Citroën was of no concern.

As the flashing lights receded into the distance, the fog seemed to lift a little and the driver put her foot down. Reka closed her eyes and let her stomach unravel. She felt a little daft for her overreaction at the blockade; letting a silly incident from twenty-five years ago affect her now. She thought of home, of opening the front door and the one she loved coming bounding towards her, barking and wagging its little tail.

Monday, 25 January 2016

St Dwynwen's Day

Today is St Dwynwen's Day in Wales. She is the patron saint of love. Click here for her story. 
And today's story from me is a modern day version of this myth. 
For audio click here
St Dwynwen's Day
Donwen had cried all day and all night and all day again. Her tears had been hot and salty, but now they were pure gin. She sniffed back a fresh batch. She really didn’t want to cry anymore. The problem was everything set her off. She turned on the radio, and there was a soppy love song. She turned on Facebook, and there was his gorgeous face looking at her. She wandered around the streets of Swansea, and everything reminded her of him; the pub where they’d first kissed; the bar they’d celebrated the Grand Slam; the shop where he bought his t-shirts; everywhere had a significance.
That’s why she had come into the church. She hadn’t been in a church for about fifteen years, and she’d never been to one with Mal; so there was nothing here to remind her of her lovely but now ex boyfriend. It was cold in here but peaceful. For a moment, sitting on that pew, she felt at peace with the world.  It was almost as if God himself was massaging her shoulders and drying her tears with his hanky. She slipped off the pew onto the praying cushion and putting her hands together she bowed her head and prayed.
“Please god help me forget him and make my toes warm.”
When she left the church, she felt a bit stupid. Who on earth prays to god these days? But somehow she felt as though a weight had been lifted. For a start the rain had stopped and her toes weren’t quite as cold, but now she had another problem; she was running late. She was meant to be meeting Angelica for a drink. She hurried through the streets; she could feel her gin level getting low.  
Walking home was taking a lot of effort. Maybe she’d had one too many gins, but Angelica had insisted on paying for one last one, and who was Donwen to say no? She could feel herself swaying but despite the cold weather, her toes were still warm. Walking home should have reminded her of Mal, but as she walked past the pub instead of thinking of him, she remembered the time Kate, Louise and her had been thrown out for reaching over the bar and topping up their beer glasses. When she walked past the bar, she remembered the time Cary had thrown up all over the bouncer. And when she got to the t-shirt shop she remembered how her brother Bill had smashed the window of the burger place next to it, in some drunken rage. In fact she didn’t think of Mal at all. And then she fell; well she would have done if she hadn’t been caught by an arm.
“Are you okay?” The mouth attached to the arm said.
“I’m fine,” she slurred. ‘Who are you?”
“I’m Rod.”
“God,” Donwen misheard. “I think I prayed to you today.”
Rod laughed. “Looks like you still need my help.”
“I wish I was at home.” Donwen said.
“Come on then. Where do you live?” Donwen told him and Rod guided her home.
“Wanna come in?” Donwen said when they got there.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” Rod said. “But if you want to say thank you, here’s my number. Call me.”

Donwen lay in bed feeling the world spinning. She couldn’t make up her mind if she was going to be sick or not. She thought of Rod and his lovely arms. Then she thought of Mal for the first time the evening; it was as if a part of her brain had been unfrozen. But she didn’t feel like crying. In fact she didn’t feel anything at all. Her mind drifted back to Rod with his god-like features. Now there was a man she could commit her life to.

Friday, 22 January 2016

The Last Portion

For audio click here 
Big Frankie Shepherd sat up at the bar like he owned the place. Which to be fair, he did. His grey hair circled his bald crown and his face had the expression of a man whose moustache had been dipped in shit.
“Frankie,” I nodded as I made my way to the toilet.
“Pipsqueak,” he replied, He’d called me that since the day I’d started working for him. The problem with men like Frankie is that they dish out respect based on muscles and reputation not on the work people do. I may have been small in stature but when I arrived at this place it had been a two-bit boozer with a dodgy food hygiene rating. It was me that turned it in to the award winning gastropub that it is today. The thing is, I did it quietly, unassumingly; I went under the radar. Big Frankie took the credit of course; it had been his vision but it had been my hard work.
As I was having a slash, I made my decision. I’d been thinking it over but it was time to do it.
“Frankie, I’ve been thinking,” I said.
“Careful now pipsqueak; too much thinking can be dangerous.”
I smiled a smile so insincere I could have been a Tory politician.
“I’m handing in my notice.” I said. “I’ll do two months but then I am moving on. I quit.”
Frankie stood up and towered over me. He grabbed me by the collar and lifted me clean off the floor.
“You listen to me,” he boomed. “No one leaves my employment unless I say so. Do you understand me?”
I nodded. I had little choice.  Once I’d regained contact with the floor, I scuttled into the safety of the kitchen and back to my pots and pans.
A couple of weeks later, I walked into the bar to find Frankie not at his usual spot.
“Where’s Frankie?” I asked.
“He’s not well,” Carol the cleaner said.
“What?” I said.
“I know, I’ve worked here for thirty years and I’ve never seen Frankie ill.”
“It’s true, the man’s made of teak,” said Yvonne the barmaid. “Must be something really bad.”
“Apparently he’s been throwing up all night.” Carol said enjoying the chance to gossip.
“Shocking,” I said, and made my way into the kitchen, leaving the women to speculate on what might have caused the boss’s gastric problems.

They could make their random guesses, but I didn’t have to speculate. Because I knew what I’d put in Frankie Shepherd’s Pie.