Here are the stories I’m currently working on. I’ll update them as soon as I’ve thought of something to say.
He was actually affronted by the rolls of fat, the reddened flesh, and the tattooed marks of their shared individuality squirming around in the sands before him. He peered down at his own rolls, but complacently shrugged, thinking he’d had nearly sixty years to accrue them, whereas those laid out before him were in their thirties, twenties, teenagers, children, all similarly swathed in their home-grown sofas.
When he’d ran wild on this very same beach, he and all his friends had been lithe; proud of their muscled bodies, they had posed, flexed, and splashed around as if there were no tomorrow. And now these amassed products of the modern food industry and its fondness for its dehydrogenated, over saturated fats and added sugars, slouched, slunk and munched their way through the sunny day.
The accents were still the same. Liverpool’s nasal curdle, Cardiff’s broad, flat twang, East London’s dangerously guttural hee-haws – you avoided those where you could. Mixed among them were the over-inflated vowels of his own unplaceable cast, always somewhere near Surrey no matter where you came from. Of all of them he despised Surrey the most, but they were few and far between, probably gathered like cheap tomato concentrate on the yachts sniffing the shore. He laughed out loud as he thought the only thing he missed were the cocktails. The cocktails and the coke.
But here he was, sober and unseen among the red rolls of tattoo, consigned to chomping on his chips and shooing away the cheeky gulls. He sighed. Even the seagulls had lost any respect for him they might have had.
And suddenly he started as he heard shouts and cries from where, absent minded, he’d been watching an idiot, it was probably a northerner he’d sourly thought, long ago let go from the mines, pounding a great hole in the sand until only the red pate of his head was showing, a warning beacon of things to come.
He’d even briefly considered going over to the man and his struggles with the sand to tell him about the dangers of digging so deeply into the sand, but had dismissed the effort thinking everyone knows why you don’t build houses on the beach. Now, though, those dangers had become startlingly apparent as it became clear that a child had fallen into the hole and it had collapsed over it.
Unperturbed, he watched as that mass of trembling tattoos transformed itself into a furious, flailing demon of humanity, grown men crying and clawing at the sand to dig the child out. Parents clung to their children, women clutched the thick arms of their men-folk who were lined up to help with the digging shouting words of encouragement.
With another tired sigh he pulled at his mobile, dialled the emergency number, giving his name and location, saying, “some idiot has managed to bury his child on the beach”, all the time watching the commotion until he slowly became aware of his wife’s voice screeching, “Susie, Susie, where’s my baby, where’s my baby…”, and felt her fists pummelling his head.
He grunted as he swung the bloated bin liner up and over the lip of the truck’s ever hungry maw. He swiped at his forehead with his filthy glove, his face slippery with the sweat, ignoring the pleas of his mates to take it easy, to slow down. He watched the beam of the crusher weigh inexorably down on the rubbish and pictured his head thrown beneath it, his insides churning like the debris being pulled into the depths of the machine. But instead of his head he saw her face, laughing, laughing, and he could not hold back the sudden sob wracking his body. He wanted to scream.
He felt Jack’s heavy hand pulling at his shoulder, and he turned and buried his head in his friend’s shoulder, the big man holding him like a child. “Don’t you worry son, she’ll be back,” but the words rang hollow in the drizzle, and he could only snuffle like a hog staring at the black asphalt. It had already been three days since he had last seen her, watched her laughing face looking over her shoulder as she waved goodbye. Since then he had heard nothing, had come to learn the meaning of nothing as, with each passing morning, the greyness of her absence next to him merged into the next tired dawn. He cried like a small boy cries for his mother, until, remembering where he was, he pulled away from his mate, rubbing furiously at his eyes and strode towards the next bin.
He tugged at the handles of the plastic container, straining against its weight until its wheels gave way and he pulled it to the truck, locking it into the rack and stamping the button. The truck hissed as the rack shuddered up and over, the container lid clacking open to vomit its contents into the waiting belly. He screamed. There, where he had pictured his head, he saw her face staring up at him, and he screamed again, sagging to his knees.
They pound his head, his thoughts. They pound like sadistically loud music. They hound him, his thoughts. They run him down, chasing him like a frightened cur through the day. They harass him like a haggard beggar. He cannot sleep. Food is tasteless. He has no use for it. He sees no way out. These thoughts allow for no perspective. They tower above him, dark and angry, chattering like a pack of wild old women. He walks. He runs. He buries his head, strikes his brow, curses, cries and lashes out. But they refuse to let him be. He tries to read empty novels, to watch senseless programs, play mind numbing games, to listen to deafening music, but his attempts are in vain. He swallows tablets, smokes shit, drinks hard liquor, but he is still pursued. He tries giving them a voice. They protest with a wordless wail. He attempts to give them a face, lashing wildly at the canvas, but they mock his efforts. Day and night. He cuts his skin, strips flesh from his legs, burns holes into his hands to drive them away. But they thrive on his pain. They dance and taunt his tender nerves.
And then, one day, he gives in. He packs up. He shuts up shop. Pays his dues. Does up his coat. Catches a train. He opens a door. And sighs in relief. The oven is off.
There is a man. He is alone. It is night, and he stands. No, he slumps. Against a wall. He is cold. And shivers, occasionally. There is no rain. But his face is wet. He draws heavily on a cigarette. He is bereft.
Look around. There is a street. There are cars. They rush past, oblivious. There is a yellow street lamp. It lights the way. His face is pale. And unhealthy. He ignores the light. And remains slumped against the wall. He does not care.
His breath fogs the air. His trousers are creased. They are not soiled. He wears only a shirt. It is white. It is cold.
A telephone rings. No, it trills. It is a mobile phone. He grabs at his pocket. And pulls out the trilling phone. There is a beetle. It crawls across the pavement. Oblivious to our drama.
There is a room. In a city. The room is styled. And modern. It is high. It has large windows. And overlooks a river. A cat sits on the window sill. Staring. It is watching a woman. She is lying on a long sofa. And is laughing.
A man appears. Behind her. His hand strokes her hair. His arm is bare. And well muscled. She runs her lips along it. She is smiling, contented. The cat looks on, amused.
She stops smiling. Her eyes bulge. Her mouth opens, wide. It utters nothing. Her legs kick, frantically. The cat spits. And runs away. The man touches her cheek. And takes out a phone.
The little girl stared opened mouth at her Father, tears streaming down her face, as he hung swaying in the air above her. She started to scream as she heard the voices of the men downstairs. Coarse hands plucked her from the doorway as they cut the man down. The smell of his excrement tore at her nose, and, later, she would remember wishing that he had washed earlier. The rope he had used was of thick braided silk, and lay on the ground in an insulting coil. She did not know why, but she picked it up and hugged it to her small body.
His day dreaming hands were caressing a tight pair of buttocks as his train pulled into the station. Coming to with a start as the rattling train juddered to a halt he flushed hot at his uncomfortable situation. He stole a glance, syringed with guilt, at the old withered couple sitting opposite, as he awkwardly stood up to get his case from overhead. Using this as an excuse to turn his back to them he fumbled in his trouser pocket trying to rearrange what was for him a monument which could not have possibly been overseen.
Having managed to collapse this protruding tent into a more acceptable form he pulled out his soiled handkerchief and blew his nose loudly and unnecessarily into it. He then slumped the heavy suitcase down onto the torn faded upholstery of the carriage which celebrated the success of his subterfuge with a plume of grey dust.
Instinctively he brushed down the seat of his slacks. Snuffling to give the impression of a dreadful cold which would somehow exonerate his strange ritual in the eyes of his travelling companions, he turned to them to say goodbye and wish them a pleasant journey, an obsequious smile plastered onto his face, but saw that they were both sound asleep.
The weight of their look was immediately replaced by the accusation of a thousand unseen eyes which pricked furiously at the back of his perspiring neck as he hurried out of the carriage, dragging his reluctant case behind him, in the realisation that the lips which had frenziedly kissed and licked at the tip of his cock were not those of his wife.
The furious wind which had met him at the airport, drenching his summer suit with its waspish stings of stony rain, had died down to a muffled damp breeze as he stepped out onto the glazed black tarmac of the small country station platform. The rain had thrown him at the airport since he had not thought to buy an overcoat in readiness for the autumn’s dreary weather, and a spiked ball of angry thought had tossed irritably around in his head as he wondered why she couldn’t have picked him up there.
He knew the answer, of course, but this only infuriated him further. It was he who’d postponed his return flight another two weeks, and it was he who had forgotten to tell her the exact time and date of the flight until two days before, by which time she had arranged other things which were not to be cancelled.
Since these “other things” brought more money into their joint bank account than he could spend in six months, he could hardly complain, but he had been away for three, and he’d always thought that there were more important things in life than money. Living mainly on her earnings as he did, he was at liberty to think such thoughts.
Of course, he could have thought to buy an overcoat, but infused and invigorated by the warmth of the Australian sun where he’d been researching his new book, it had slipped his mind that elsewhere it could be cold and drizzly, and he’d just imagined that the light jacket he had on would have sufficed.
Tim Brant was neither a man of foresight nor of planning, but the unavoidable evidence of this did nothing to assuage his irritation. Standing on the deserted platform, peering vainly right and left like an orphaned child waiting for his new foster parents to pick him up, irritated and uneasy, he shuddered once again in embarrassment at his wayward day-dream.
These thoughts and feelings scrambled rapidly away to clutter up some rarely used dim and dusty corner of his mind as his face broke into a heartfelt smile at seeing Janet walking her elegant slow saunter towards him. She was grinning from ear to ear and even giggling a little as they neared each other to embrace.
Tim found himself staring at her eyes, their deep brown softly paling to show a hint of green as a slither of the modest autumn sun caught her features. He dropped the case as they took each other in their arms, his head nestled kissing in her neck and hair, her perfume tickling his nose with each satin strand of her long brown hair. He took her face in her hands, letting his fingers run over her cheeks, following the dimples of her smile, and kissed her gently on her nose and lips, his own grin so wide that he felt his jaw would lock in an absurdly happy rictus. He ran his hands down her sides, clasping at her haunches as she pulled at his buttocks, pushing herself against his tightened groin. He let out an involuntary gasp, surprised as ever not only by his desire, but hers.
She set him free, looking at him, and murmured, “It was too long this time, I missed you too much.”
He suppressed the apology which almost immediately sprang to his lips, a little shoot of anger clenching his fist, and then took her hand, saying, “Come on, let’s go, I want to get home, now!”
As they walked unspeaking from the station they passed a young woman ambling comfortably towards the exit. Tim, already eyeing the roll of her mini-skirted backside, could not resist what he considered to be a rather sly look sideways as he noted the upturned curve of her breasts and the flattened muscle of her stomach revealed by her short cut tank top. He almost felt the firm resilience of her flesh, drawn from memories whose wrinkles had been ironed out with the years, running across his tongue, until a sharp tug on his hand from his wife brought him back to his not so mundane life.
“Stop fucking letching, you ignorant git,” she said with a self-confident laugh, “you’ve had enough time to do that.” She squeezed his hand, kissing his reddened cheek, a good-humoured spring to her step.
“Tell me really, how many of those little sun-browned Australian fillies have you managed to fuck with that devastating little boy lost charm of yours? Come on; tell me, I won’t be upset, honest.”
He’d always loved Janet’s vulgarity, it wasn’t put on as with many educated people he knew, and it was always mixed with a sense of humour which could make him spit out a mouthful of coffee as a phrase of hers entered his consciousness while in polite company.
But today it jarred, he felt caught out, a hive of dirty thoughts squeezed like a ripe pimple out into the grey light of day. He’d spent three months with people whose idea of cutting humour was mentioning your drinking habits in public. And Janet was sharp in whatever company she kept.
His brow furrowed he turned to her, his voice a plaintive whine “What if I answered yes, Janet? What if I’d had a dozen of them, and told you so?”
She looked up at him, anger colouring her cheeks, “I’d tell you to stop being such a shit and grow up. Tim, you’ve just got back, and you’re already starting. I’ve got no patience for this kind of crap anymore.”
She stormed off ahead of him, as he sighed dramatically, watching her buttocks roll against her skirt. He ran to catch up with her, “Janet, Janet, I’m sorry, really I am. I’m just a bit irritable; it’s been a long journey.”
“You can bloody well say that again,” she chastised, but he could hear her tone softening; she could never be angry with him for long. He ran after, placing a hand on her shoulder. She turned and looked up at him, smiling as he bent down to kiss her once more.
In the car she assuaged him with a barrage of domestic details and the latest gossip from her workplace. Already bored, he hummed and hawed in the appropriate places, occasionally asking after one or other of her colleagues, in which he had less interest in than his ingrown toenail, which had just started playing up again. He stared out of the window, absent-mindedly stroking Janet’s hand, and watched as the rain rolled away and a rare splash of sunlight caressed the lush roll of the fields.
The autumn colours struck him like a physical blow, contrasting starkly with the browned desiccation of the Australian outback. He realized it wasn’t just the colour, but everywhere the old houses, the ancient church, the divide of the hedgerows, the clustered copse of trees, spoke of centuries of careful cultivation.
Driving home he felt once more in charge, in charge of himself, in charge of his situation. In the outback he had felt wild, wild to the point of desperation, daily confronted by a world absolutely indifferent to him, and to all those around him. He had constantly felt breathless, charged with a restlessness that he liked to think drove him from one welcoming lover to the next.
He looked to his left, suspicion pulling at his eyes, wondering whether she suspected, whether she was compliant or even complicit in his errant behaviour. The next line of office gossip convinced him of the opposite, and that things were just as they were when he left.
At the next curve in the road he sighed deeply, not at Janet’s mundane chatter, but at the rambling country house rapidly approaching, as they swept easily down the gravelled drive into the barn which served as an oversized garage.
He hastily stepped out of the car, almost running out onto the manicured lawn, looking up and down the whitewashed walls of the long house. Inherited from his father, this house, together with the airs it imbibed him with, was his real passion, a passion he would admit to no-one, although he revelled in it.
He sucked in the damp winter air as if he were eating a ravishing meal, and grunted with annoyance as Janet broke his reverie. “Come on darling, I’m not carrying the bloody suitcases in as well.”
But as he looked round, he saw that that was just what she was doing, and grew even more peeved as he felt her wittering demands already piling up on his shoulders. He grunted, ran after her, and snatched the smaller of the two suitcases from her hand. “It’s the heaviest,” he excused.
He turned from the path up the steps into the porch, pausing to admire the heavy oak door, leant his shoulder against it, and was surprised that it did not pop open as usual. He turned and gave Janet a bewildered look, like a little boy whose ice cream just fell to the ground. With one hand she tugged at her pocket while the other tugged at the oversized suitcase. “I kept it locked while you were away,” she said in an apologetic tone which she in no way felt.
He waited obstinately for her to open the door, without even a murmur of acknowledgement, face turned away, letting his anger tremble delightfully in his body. Janet felt her head bow under the unsaid weight, and, like a sigh, she swung the door open to let him in, praying that he would find nothing else amiss.
Once inside, accosted by the dark rich wood fragrances of the old house, and the old, familiar shadows and colours, Tim’s felt his anger abating. He left his suitcase in the hallway, and wandered through the house, stopping in the lounge to run his hand along the grain of his oak table, handed down for over seven generations in his father’s family, and twirling gaily as he entered his study, lined from floor to ceiling with an impressive library of new and old books.
As if embracing a lover, he stretched out his arms and leant his whole body against the wall; his cheek came to rest upon a batch of leather backed editions, and he stood there, theatrically breathing in their musty smell. He was home.
Janet’s thumping of the suitcases upstairs broke him out of his reverie. His face darkened as he headed for the stairway, why couldn’t the damn woman do things quietly. He bounded up the steps, trotted along the corridor, pausing to straighten a picture whose gait had offended his eye.
He entered the large master bedroom, complete with ensuite bathroom and gold plated taps and came to an abrupt halt as he saw Janet crouched on the floor, casually piling his clothes out of the suitcases into several different piles. “What the hell do you think you are doing” he shouted, his face puce with rage. The last thing he wanted was his wife grubbing around in his belongings.
She looked genuinely shocked when she turned to look at him. “I was just sorting out your clothes, darling. They all need to be washed.” She stood up and marched passed him, looking back over her shoulder with a withering glance, “or were you going to do your fucking washing yourself?”
Sex that night was obligatory and perfunctory. His initial ardour for her had died as soon as he had felt her entering his private space, peeking and prying as if the dirt under his fingernails belonged to her. From a distance, Janet looked ravishing; from a distance.
He was relieved when they assumed their usual positions; nothing changed even after six months away, and he moved distractedly with the rocking of her body. He closed his eyes and pictured Sarah as they’d hungrily clawed at each other in their caravan.
He was too conceited to see his prostitution, too vain to even shed a thought for Janet’s enjoyment. If he had, it would have been a tear. He only noted that Janet did not seem to be trying as hard as she used to. It was to be the last time they had sex together.
The following weeks rolled by in a vestige of domestic harmony. Tim got down to the onerous job of editing his material, Janet returned to her office. Friends called by to catch up and hear about his self imposed sabbatical. Janet and he kept a wary distance. He only struck her once when she snapped back at him. After that, she withdrew into her work, the hours drawing later and later.
Normally, Tim would’ve have commented, not being used to fixing his own meal in the evenings, but, since his trip to Australia, he had become accustomed to whipping up a variety of dishes. Besides, it left him time to follow his own pursuits. The internet offered ample opportunity for him to research his favourite topics. And then there was the new neighbour.
Sandra Jones had moved in two weeks after he had left Britain, and, on seeing her for the first time, Tim wished he hadn’t been quite so hasty to get away.
She was petite, but perfectly proportioned, with a long mane of black hair sliding down her sculpted neck, starkly contrasting to the pale lucidity of her skin. Her eyes were shyly emerald, but when she smiled it almost broke his heart. He felt like giggling when she walked in, and had to consciously keep his hands from reaching out to touch her. He was a boy in her presence.
It was apparent that Janet and Sandra had become firm friends in the last six months. She stayed to dinner on the weekend, and often popped in at odd moments during the week, even late in the evening, to have a quick word with Janet.
Tim caught himself jealously listening for their shared revelry, a bolt of hot indignation lancing him as their laughter pealed into his den. He felt ridiculously shunned, and would feign excuses to go to the kitchen to share their company. The impending silence quickly drove him back out. Sandra was friendly to him, but not overly, and any attempt at flirting on his part was met with a dismissive smile. At least until Janet threw a small dinner party and invited Sandra.
Janet had invited three other friends. Her friends, Tim sourly noted. He felt a dark mood rolling over him as they wandered in. John Smith, an insipid manager from Janet’s office, who Tim had met once or twice before at various do’s Janet threw.
He could never refrain from yawning when in John’s presence and had been volubly told not to do so tonight by Janet. The only comfort he could take was that if this was a matchmaking ploy for Sandra’s benefit then it could only be destined to fail.
Bill and Sally were pleasant enough, but Tim had the urge to get wildly drunk and they were simply not the people to do it with. He sighed noisily as Janet asked him to sort out the drinks and enjoyed the uneasy looks flashing around the group. Then Sandra strolled in.
It was beyond Tim to maintain his bad mood as she flashed him a smile and pecked him on the cheek. She had never done that before, and like a teenager, he relished in the brief contact of their skin.
He was all action now, collecting glasses, asking what they wanted, and making polite chat interspersed with touching little compliments. Even John found favour as Tim marvelled at his imitation Rolex, “you really can’t tell…” he assured him with a friendly pat on the shoulder.
But all the while his gaze kept returning to Sandra, watching how her dress clung to her body, at one moment wishing he were that dress, occasionally catching her eye with a shy smile.
He couldn’t be absolutely certain, but he was fairly sure that she was returning his looks with a smile that carried more meaning with it than it should have. As he passed her a glass he felt her fingers linger on his hand, and when she flashed him a compliant grin he was certain.
During the meal she excused herself from the table after the first course, watched her sashaying out of the dining room and up the stairs to the bathroom. Tim waited a full minute and then excused himself to fetch an excellent Chateau d’ something or other, and headed in the opposite direction, chest heaving with excitement, he ran up the back stairs, across the landing, just in time to catch Sandra coming out of the bathroom.
He put his fingers to his lips as she began to say something, ran his other hand softly across her cheek, and then pulled her quickly to him, clamping his mouth down on hers.
He felt her body tighten and recoil, and for a dark moment thought that this could develop into a catastrophe, but then felt her body relax as she kissed him back, forcing her pelvis against him, clasping at his buttocks. He gasped as she let him go, but she put her finger to his lips as he was about to say something, turned curtly and headed down the stairs.
Taking a huge breath, he ran back along the corridor and down the stairs into the pantry where we grasped for his best red wine. With a sly smile he thought that the investment had been worth it, although the wine would be wasted on that pack. Shaking his head, he put it back in its cradle, and drew out a rather mediocre Bordeaux. Only Janet would know.
Janet looked up sharply as he walked in, and asked suspiciously, “what was all that bloody noise, Tim?”
“Oh, nothing darling. I thought someone had left the tap on in the bathroom and ran up to check, but it must have been my imagination,” he blurted out, not daring to look Janet in the eye.
He blustered on, “this is an excellent red, anyone care for a drop? John, you must, an empty glass on a full stomach is just too sad,” and bustled around the table, chiding people to drink up and then refilling their glasses until he thought his earlier charade had been forgotten.
For Tim, the rest of the evening passed by in a rush of laden glances, clinking glasses and grating cutlery. He entertained the guests with obscure but amusing tales of the Australian bush, and guffawed heartily at their weak jokes and little anecdotes, but the great seduction scene, which was sure to come, was playing all the while in the corridors of his mind.
Here, he stroked and rutted and kissed and bit, only now and then throwing Sandra a surreptitious snatch of attention to ensure that the topography of his fantasised object curved in accordance with its origin. As they parted that night, her brief kiss burnt itself into his flesh, promising days of uneasy anticipation.
The following week rolled by in a wave of titillating frustration. Sandra waltzed by almost every evening, but Janet was either already there, or came through the door five minutes later. The two then retired to the bedroom to “review my wardrobe, darling.” Now and then, Sandra and Tim snatched a kiss, a caress, a wanton hug, but that was all.
Then, one evening, Sandra whispered to Tim in passing, “I’ve got the day off tomorrow, I’ll be round at ten.” Tim’s night was filled with restless sheet tearing fantasies, and it was three by the time he drifted off to sleep. He woke around nine, Janet was already gone.
He threw on his clothes, ran a toothbrush over his teeth and splashed cold water in his face. He loped down to the kitchen, and whisked up a plain omelette, and made a couple of rounds of toast and a pot of coffee. He wolfed down his breakfast, washing it down with the coffee, and by ten he was feeling reasonably awake and human. The tap on the door came promptly at ten.
Sandra stood before him, a defiant pout as she pulled him down to kiss him hard on the mouth. Tim felt giddy with anticipation and began pawing at her firm body until she pushed him away. “Not here. I want you to fuck me where you fuck your wife. Upstairs.”
She led the way decisively, he followed like a lemming. His lust was so strong it was painful but he was helpless as she led him through his house, up the stairs, to his bedroom.
She stopped abruptly, and drew a long silken rope from the bag still hanging from her shoulder. “What’s that for?” he asked timorously.
She turned to him, running a sharp fingernail down his chest, “Oh, I thought we might want a bit of fun, what do you think?” She picked up the rope and trailed it gently around his neck.
“Tie me up? Yeah, why not.” He felt her hand working at his trousers, pulling at his cock. He thought he would explode. He tugged at her shirt, pulling it off, kneading at her breasts, and pulled his own shirt off.
“I’ve got a better idea, pass me that chair.” He passed her the chair while slipping off his trousers, trembling at her slightest touch as she pulled him to her using the rope and stroked his balls and then bent down to lick at his cock.
“No, stand on the chair,” she commanded. He obeyed without hesitation, and looked down as she stood facing his erection. She took him slowly in her mouth, and then pulled away, handing him a band of black silk. “Cover your eyes,” she whispered hoarsely.
He stood there, naked, erect, blindfolded, a braided rope hanging from his neck. He could feel her circling him, a soft whip of the rope, the flick of her hot mouth at his cock. He moaned, “Fuck me.”
He heard her smile, “My pleasure,” and felt the chair being wrenched away, the rope burning fiercely into his neck as he kicked out, retching and scrabbling weakly at the silken braid, until he kicked no more.
Sandra fell back onto the bed, pale and shivering. Janet walked into the bedroom, tears running down her face, and hugged Sandra, kissing her warmly. “It’s over, San, it’s over, thank you, thank you.”
She turned to Tim, disgust and hate etched into her face as she contemplated the corpse hanging from the beam of his so beloved house, a dribble of shit running down his leg. Sandra, nose wrinkled, stood up on the bed, untying the blindfold with shaking hands.
“Was it very bad?” she asked, stroking Sandra’s backside lovingly.
Sandra sniffed like a little girl, “It would’ve been a bit more pleasant if the bastard had thought to wash himself before.”
© andrew rossiter 2010
Cast: Al, Benny, Tony, John, Richie.
First Scene: Al, Benny and Tony, all in their late teens, sit around a table in a darkened corner of a pub. They sip at their pints as Al is talking:
Al: Listen right, y’know that photo shoot I wus tellin’ you about?
Tony:[Sneering and nudging Benny ] Wot, with them arty farty ponces you fuck around with, licking their arses and that? [Benny starts giggling]
Al: Awright, awright, shut it, you want to hear the story or not? Right, well they got this assistant….
Benny: [Mincing] Oooh, was ‘e nice then?
Al: She, ya cunt, was she nice – she was fucking stonkin’ she was, real nice, well better than the fucking buses you barge around with mate. Anyways, she wants to come back to my studio to …
Tony: [Winking at Benny] y’mean yer bedsit don’t you? Or ‘ave we suddenly expanded into the Camden fucking Market for queers and nobs? In which case I want that grand you owe me…
Al: [Hurt] Ok, ok, my fucking bedsit, what does it matter. She comes back to my place to see me do the editing on the computer. We’re sitting there, like close up, I was like showing her my stuff, and how I cut it and all, and she’s really into it, and like rubbing her leg ‘gainst mine, touching my hand, giving all the right signals and that, and what do I do, what do I go and do?
Benny: uuh, you give her one?
Al: I let off, didn’t I? I farted. My guts came whistling out my arse, but it was one of them silent ones y’know, and I couldn’t smell nothing so I says nothing – what should I say? But, after a bit the stench comes, and what a stench. Like my guts had rotted and been laid out on the table, a real cauliflower cheese and bad eggs one. I was sittin’ there, going beetroot red thinking fuck fuck fuck when she turns to me and says “how can you sit there and stand there smell?” all posh like, and I starts to apologize and says it’s my breakfast or dinner or somefing like that and she starts laughin’ at me, grabs my hand and says it wasn’t me, she wus the one that just guffed, she’d been doing it all morning and didn’t know how I could sit there and take it. You couldn’t smell my fart a bit
Tony: Yeah, and? You give ‘er one?
Al: [Sarcastically] After such an intimate exchange of body odours I don’t fink neiver of us wus into it.
Tony: [Looking at Benny] See, told you so, ‘e’s a fucking poof. [Both start laughing].
Al: [Looking concerned] Where’s Billy got to? ‘E should’ve been here by now.
Tony: That Billy ‘as been pissing me right off as of late. ‘E’s been gettin’ right above ‘is fuckin’ station an’ that gets my fuckin’ goat. ‘E’s been showin’ a lack of respect to ‘is mates that ‘e’s not fucking earned.
Benny: What’re you suggesting then?
Tony: That we give ‘im a good fuckin’ tellin’ off, that’s what I’m fuckin’ suggestin’ an’ if ‘e’s not complying then ‘e’ll get a fuckin’ good hiding from yours truly.
Al: Fuckin’ hell Tone, is that your answer to everyfing? Put the boot in? The guys’ just a bit late that’s all. An’ if ‘e’s been gettin’ a bit full of ‘imself it’s ‘cos ‘e’s got a new job , a thing you would know fuck all about.
Tony: Don’t you worry ‘bout me mate, I get my fucking money my way, an’ you lot ‘d do better to fuckin’ get back in there an’ make some proper fuckin’ cash, ‘stead of poncin’ round wif your fuckin’ poncy day jobs. I got a real earner lined up an’ my mates should be in on it. Benny’ll be there, won’t you mate?
Benny: [Looking down] Guess so, got no fuckin’ choice ‘ave I?
Al: Tone, we talked ‘bout this. We got to move on, the old days, they’re fuckin’ over mate , else we’ll end up dead or inside otherwise. Benny don’t have to do it neither.
Tony: You keep your fuckin’ oar out of this ‘cos, if you ain’t got the bottle Benny ‘as, ‘aven’t you mate. Your no better than that fucking Billy with your fuckin’ photography. If you ask me that is just your excuse ‘cos you can’t hack it no more, and now you don’t want no-one thievin’ no more ‘cos it makes you look fuckin’ bad.
Al: My bottle is not at issue here, an’ even if it was I don’t give a flying fuck what you think, right. Get yerself a fuckin’ future is all I’m sayin’ an’ if you don’t want to that’s your fucking business, innit. But don’t drag no-one else under wiv you, right?
Tony: No-one’s goin’ to nab us, ain’t that right Benny?
The pub door opens and John walks in, his arm is in a sling, there is blood on his shirt and his face is white. The three look over as he walks towards them.
Al: ‘ullo you ol’ fucker, you look like you been in the fuckin’ wars mate.
Tony: Hey weren’t you wiv that fucking turd Billy today, where is the cunt? I’m lookin’ fer ‘im. That twat’s goin’ to get a fuckin’ kicking.
John: [Bursts into tears and starts shouting] Billy, you gormless fuck, is fucking dead, so don’t go givin’ me any fuckin’ bullshit grief ‘bout Billy. I’m fucking lucky I’m not there with ‘im, you cunt.
Al: [Concern and shock in his voice] What you mean Billy’s dead, I saw ‘m ‘ere just fuckin’ yesterday.
John: [Wiping at his face] I’m tellin’ you ‘e’s fuckin’ dead right. Check with the fuckin’ old Bill if you want, I just come from there.
Al: What ‘appened John, they do that to your arm? Here mate, calm down a bit an’ take a seat. [Passes him a chair which John sits down in].
Al: C’mon, what’s been goin’ on?
John: Right, it was this morning, I was wiv Billy in his car, we wus just drivin’ to pick up some of ‘is gear from my place, an’ then ‘e sees Hainsworth passin’ us on the left like.
Tony: Hainsworth, wot fuckin’ Hainsworth is that then, there’s fuckin’ millions of the buggers…
John: It wus Richie, wasn’t it, Richie Hainsworth. Anyways, Billy sees ‘im ans says the cunt owes ‘im, an’ starts drivin’ like a fuckin’ nutter after Richie who tries gettin’ away.
Tony: That cunt can’t fuckin’ drive to save ‘is Grandma’s bacon…
Al: [Cutting Tony off] Shut it will ya, let ‘m finish the fuckin’ story. Go on John, wot ‘appened?
John: It happened really quick, Billy cuts Richie off, an’ Richie jus jumps out the car with a shooter and starts blasting away. Billy didn’t ‘ave a fuckin’ chance, ‘e caught it right in the fuckin’ face, ‘e don’t ‘ave no face left. I wus lucky an’ jus copped it in the arm, but Billy’s fuckin’ dead boys. I can’t believe it meself an’ I was fuckin’ there. But ‘es fuckin’ dead ‘e is, I’m tellin’ you, I swear to it, Mother’s life an’ all.
Al: We believe you, we believe you, but why’d Richie do somefing like that, like Billy’s a mate of ‘is, they’re from the same fuckin’ manor an’ everyfing. Fuck, we all grew up on the same fuckin’ manor, what the fucks’ goin’ on here.
Tony: I tell you what’s goin’ on ‘ere, that fuckin’ ‘ainsworth ‘as gone an’ joined another gang an’ they’re tryin’ to expand onto our fuckin’ turf, that’s whats ‘appened. An’ I tell you what, I’m goin’ to make sure that that bastard is not goin’ to be walkin’ round ‘ere fer long. [Pulls a pistol from under his jacket and places it meaningfully onto the table]
Al: [Looking at Tony incredulously] What is that? What the fuck you goin’ on about you thick twat? We are not fuckin’ yardies, we do not ‘ave fuckin’ turf fer someone to move onto, we do not ‘ave a fuckin’ gang to be taken over, an’ what the fuck’re you doin’ wiv a fuckin’ shooter? We do the occasional robbing an’ that is it. What you goin’ to do, fuckin’ shoot the cunt? You’ll get us all fuckin’ killed mate. Richie Hainsworth is not someone to be messed round wiv.
Tony: [Looking hurt, puts the gun back under his jacket] Nor am I, nor am I, as you will find out if you do not watch your fuckin’ mouth.
Al: Awright, awright, this is not gettin’ us anywhere. John, you got any ideas why the cunt did that?
John: Look, I wus more concerned ‘bout gettin’ out of there in one piece, an’ not too concerned with the particulars of what Richie Hainsworth thought ‘e was fuckin’ up to back there. I told the coppers that ‘n all, but they didn’t fuckin’ believe me. Reckoned it wus a gang thing or a drugs thing. But I told ‘em that Billy wasn’t into all that. Man, ‘e was fuckin’ ‘armless that kid. I did hear one thing though, that Richie says. ‘E like ran over to us after shootin’ and jus looks in an’ says somefing like “I thought you wus pigs” but that was it.
Benny: “Thought you wus pigs,” like old Bill? But you don’t go shootin’ fuckin’ old Bill do you?
Al: Hainsworth would, the guy’s a fuckin’ nutter. You don’t fink it wus like a case of mistaken identity?
Tony: Then I’ll fuckin’ mistake ‘is identity as well when I put the cunt down. It don’t matter what ‘appened, just that we revenge Billy’s killin’. An’ if you lot ain’t got the bottle for it I’ll do it on me own.
The pub door opens. Richie Hainsworth walks in. He is in his early thirties, smartly dressed in a suit. He walks towards the table, his hands raised in a conciliatory gesture.
Tony: [Stands up, draws his pistol, points it at Richie. Shouts] Just stay there you murdering cunt, just stand there.
Richie: Awright son, awright, I’m not movin’. I know your upset, ‘e wus a friend of yours an’ all, but it was a mistake right. An’ I’m here to clear it up with all of you.
Tony: What you mean a fuckin’ mistake. ‘E wus one of your mates an’ you fuckin’ shot ‘im. I am not going to believe one fuckin’ word that you say mate, and I swear to you I will see you fuckin’ dead. Keep your fuckin’ hands where I can see them.
Al: [Stands up] Tone, mate, calm down, let ‘im say ‘is piece. What if ‘e made a mistake mate, what then?
Tony: Billy wus our mate. ‘Ow can you talk like that. Billy wus our mate and this cunt put a bullet in ‘im. Mistake or no fuckin’ mistake ‘e don’t deserve to live.
Richie: I swear to you, I did not know it wus Billy. I love Billy like a fucking little brother, but they starts chasin’ me like they were fuckin’ police, I did not know who the fuck it was. I am sorry man, but you know I’m not playin’ fuckin’ games out there, an’ Billy should’ve known better.
Tony: I don’t fuckin’ care, I do not give a toss, you hear me?
Richie: Then do it, stop fuckin’ mouthin’ off an’ fuckin’ do it. Go an’ pull that trigger.
Al: Tony, you ain’t no murderer, jus drop it, leave it man.
Tony: Outside, we’re goin’ to settle this outside. Go on, move. I’ll decide out there what to do wiv ‘im.
The group move out of the pub into its car park, Richie leading the way Tony following two or three metres behind with the gun pointing at Richie. The others follow. Richie slowly turns around, he has a small pistol in his hand which he fires at Tony five times. Tony drops to the floor, dead. Al bends down over him.
Al: You fuckin’ killed ‘im, you didn’t even give ‘im a chance. ‘E wouldn’t ‘ave done nuffink. ‘E wus jus mouthin’ off.
Richie: Couldn’t take the chance could I? An’ you don’t know with these young wankers, they got no style. For all I know ‘e could’ve shopped me, or thought about it an’ come after me later. I can’t afford that sort of shit you understand? I hope that’s some kind of lesson fer you lot, we don’t want you endin’ up like ‘im do we? So not a fuckin’ word, right?
Al: It was a fuckin’ lesson alright. [He has Tony’s pistol in his hand, he fires it at Richie, who falls to the ground, dead] An’ we learned it good.
© andrew rossiter 2009
The Magic Of The Unicorn
Once upon a time, in a land, which, being the most distant of all lands upon this earth, is found closest to our hearts, lived a young princess. She, being so gentle, was called after a flower whose delicate and beautiful nature reflected her own, and was so named Chrysanthemum.
And indeed, the delicacy of nature being only a reflection of her own innocent soul, the touch of her skin was softer than the melting of the lightest snowflake upon the leaves of her namesake, and her hue was more radiant and as tender as the waxing light of the slowly fading silver of the morning moon. And indeed, the red of her lips was deeper than the single drop of crimson left by the fall of the chrysanthemum petal when it finally kisses the forest floor, and the dancing sparkle of her dark eyes was brighter than the glint of Venus in the evening sky. And indeed, the wave of her silk stranded hair was finer than the slenderest spray issuing from the curl of the sea upon the sand, and the ring of her voice more playful than the laughing gargle of the sprightliest mountain spring.
Although blessed in the mirror of nature, she, like all good princesses in all good fairy tales, was possessed of a troubled spirit. For the stately life of public duties and all that was necessary for them was slowly dawning upon her. There was so much to be done, so many new people to meet, so many new things to learn, and, worst of all, so many decisions to be made. It was all so breathtaking, so exciting, but oh, how difficult it all was to keep abreast of. Some days she could not even remember exactly what she had done, she had rushed so from here to there, from this to that, with hardly any time to place her dainty feet upon the ground.
Whilst this was all well and good, for she had plenty to occupy herself with, and found her days to be filled with puzzling new experiences and excitements, sometimes it would all be a little too much and she would sigh wistfully for a little quiet, a hushed place where she could simply repose and enjoy some peace. And so, occasionally, timetable permitting, she would leave her busy life in the palace, and wander out of its grounds, to the edge of the great forest which surrounded it. Here she would sit and drink of the fresh pure air, and let her thoughts wander dreamily through her head whilst her body rested in the cool caress of the breeze swept grass.
But always, always, sooner or later, nagging doubts would disturb her reverie – shouldn’t she be meeting so and so today, had she really studied hard enough yesterday, did she have to rise early tomorrow, oh, what would the future bring? – and so sometimes she would despair at the clamour of her daily duties, and find herself wishing that they could be conjured away, as if by magic, to leave her in the warm comforting clasp of the forest’s edge.
One particular day she found this feeling to be so strong that she feared it might press down and suffocate her. The weather had been so fine on this day that it had made her heart leap with pleasure as she peered out of her window in the soft morning light. She had run out of the palace to tread barefoot in the succulent grass, feeling herself nuzzled by the warmth of the sunlight, her flushed skin tingling in the touch of the light breeze, wafting the satin fragrances of honeysuckle and hyacinth over her. Delight pricked the corners of her mouth to a smile, and she felt she could have danced to the merry bird song floating in the air.
But then, on seeing the height of the sun in the sky, a finger of ice touched her spine as she remembered the time. At two was her french lesson, then tea with a courtier, and then dinner with the Queen, to be followed by a piano concerto….oh, the list seemed endless.
Tears of anger needled her eyes, for the day was so fine and the forest so serene, she wished she could stay forever enfolded in its endearing embrace. Why did life have to be so? Why couldn’t it be otherwise? In frustration she stamped her foot, but her anger was dissipating as a heavy melancholy settled over her, sad tears freely streaming down her blanched face. She wandered ponderously over to where her shoes had lain, her lip trembling, her heart wrenched by a hollow sigh, the reason for which she could not fathom.
And then she started. Her shoes were no longer where she had left them. Bewildered into forgetting her sad state, she looked around and about, but they were nowhere to be seen, they had simply vanished into thin air. She could not return to the palace shoeless, for not only was that unbecoming for a princess, it would also be painful for her delicate feet. Bemused, she sank down to sit upon the ground, not knowing what to think. Then, to her left, from within the forest, she heard the rustling of bushes and, peering hard in the direction of the sound she thought she saw something moving. Slowly she stood up and walked over right up to the line of trees which marked the beginning of the forest. Trepidation made her blood beat through her veins and her stomach turn over, but, clenching her fists, she took a step into the twilight, and stared into the gloom ahead.
Again, this time slightly to her left, something moved, and, without thinking, she ran towards it, stumbled against a clutching bush, and fell right through it. Although she landed with a bump which sounded like the crash of a drum amongst the quiet of the wind whispering trees, the foliage of the forest floor cushioned her fall and she lay there unhurt, although a little ruffled. When she looked up from where she lay she let out a loud gasp of astonishment at what she beheld.
For she had fallen into a small clearing in the forest, where the sunlight managed to break through the sky stretched trees and dappled the greenery which melted softly into shadow. Small rabbits sprung here and there, undisturbed by the new arrival, whilst woodland birds warbled and flitted overhead. But it was not at this tranquil scene that the princess had gasped, but rather at the beast which stood before her in the middle of the clearing.
She gazed with such wonder in her eyes that she actually forgot to be frightened. At first she thought the animal was a large horse, but as her eyes grew accustomed to the light she saw otherwise, and gasped once more. For such a horse had she never before seen. Standing proud, its back reached the height of a tall man carrying another upon his shoulders, its coat glistened with the shimmering shifting colours of a golden autumn fall, and its eyes burned blacker than the hardest stone of moonlit coal. Its flanks and shoulders were staunch and breathed with a heavy pervading power, whilst its mane hung, silver carved in gold, thick and shining upon its broad taut neck. But what truly held the princess’s eye was the curl of the sharp gleamed silver horn striking out from the finely chiselled beam of the animal’s head, which defied all rational words of explanation.
“A Unicorn…” she stammered, “but Unicorns don’t exist…,” and she jumped back suddenly as the animal loudly and roughly snorted through quivering nostrils, shaking his massive head as if in admonishment. But she could not help smiling with delight for as its mane swung through the air the fine strands sang with the distant laughter of young children playing, and she could have sworn that its eyes glinted with a hint of amusement. Then she cried out “My shoes, you have my shoes!”
And indeed, entwined around the animal’s neck were her shoes, waiting to be rescued. And then the animal did a curious thing. It folded its legs beneath its body, and looked directly at the princess. She caught her breath as, within her head, she heard the deep chime of a wordless voice, urging her to approach the supine animal. As if in a trance she rose to her feet and walked slowly towards it, her breath trembling in her mouth as she saw its beauty close to, and its strength. And, without knowing what she was about, she clambered upon the animal’s back, curling her hands in the velvet soft furl of mane, her head swimming with the recklessness of what she was doing.
Suddenly the Unicorn surged forward, springing wildly into the air, and careering off into the forest at full gallop. She screamed in terror, but the wind of its passage whipped the sound from her mouth and she clung tightly to the mane, terrified she would be dashed against the bough of a tree, or be thrown off and smashed against the ground. At first she prayed with all her might that the animal would soon slow down, but it ran on and on, ever faster and faster until she thought she was floating in an unreal world made of roaring dancing colour. But soon her vision took on the clarity of mountain water, and she uttered small cries of pleasure as the forest unfurled before her, the woodland animals dancing out of the path of the great beast, and far from falling, she felt as safe as a child in its mother’s arms, whilst the branches of the trees curled away to let her pass, their leaves lightly brushing her face like the tiny kisses of butterflies, and slowly, still on the animal’s back, the rocking movement began to make her feel drowsy, and it was not long before she fell into a deep slumber.
When she awoke she found herself cradled in the moss carpeted roots of an ancient oak. She looked around sleepily, lulled by the quiet murmur of a gurgling spring running by her side. “I’m dreaming,” she thought until she felt the moist hot breath of the Unicorn upon the back of her neck and realized it had been standing over her like a guardian angel all the time she had slept. “Oh, it’s you,” she smiled, and said playfully “You know, you probably ruined my dress,” and this time her spirit smiled as she once again heard the laughter of the Unicorn’s shivering mane. She looked down at her apparel, and drew her breath in sharply. For she was clothed in a dress of tiny flowers of a sugar sweet smell and of a blue so pale she feared to touch it less it fade away to nothing. She sighed happily, and slipped once more into sleep.
The next time she awoke, she awoke with a start, for the sun had begun to set, and spiked fingers of shadow had begun to curl around her. She sprung to her feet, sleep falling quickly away to fright as she looked wildly around for the Unicorn. But it was no longer in sight. She span this way and that as panic began to set in, “I have to get home” she thought wildly, “Oh, how will I ever get home?” Tears welled in her eyes and she called out loud, fear clawing at her voice as the forest darkened swiftly, “Where are you? Come back, please, come back!” she shouted. But almost as soon as she had shouted she heard a rustling of leaves and there stood the Unicorn, and in its mouth it held a branch heavy with succulent fruits of all kinds. The animal trotted over to her, its mane still singing with laughter, its eyes bright, and dropped the branch at her feet, and nudged it towards her with its nose.
The princess, still shaking with fright, looked up at the grand beast, her face wet from her tears. Trembling she said, “Oh thankyou, but really, I must be going now, I must go home – there’s dinner with the Queen, you see, and a courtier to see, although I won’t miss him too much, and there’s a piano concerto…” Her voice trailed of into silence as the Unicorn glared at her, and then once more nudged the branch of fruit towards her. “No, I can’t…” she stammered, “Please, let me go, take me home…” and then she turned and ran off into the dark forest, branches tearing at her face, brambles clawing at her knees.
She ran and ran, until she fell to the ground, her body wracked with her sobbing. She looked up slowly to see the Unicorn standing over her, and she cried out loud “Take me home, take me home.” The animal snorted, and rose up on its hind legs, its hooves slashing at the empty air, and the princess covered her ears, as it let loose a great roar of pain and rage, as if a white hot sword had pierced its heart. The princess rose to her knees, her sobs dragging the breath from her voice, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please take me home…” and she fell crumpled to the ground unable to control her weeping.
After a while her tears subsided, and she looked up, bleary eyed, to see the Unicorn waiting for her, once more knelt down on the ground. It watched her with a heavy eye as she slowly and wearily climbed upon its back, and once more it surged off into the now black forest. This time the princess saw nothing, only darkness prevailed, until they broke through the edge of the forest, into the clear moonlight. The princess dismounted, and quietly stroked the Unicorn’s neck, whilst it nuzzled her cheek. Once more, she heard the voice chiming in her head, urging her to stay, but she sadly shook her head, and said “I’m sorry, I can’t, you know I can’t,” and watched as a single large tear fell heavily from the Unicorn’s eye to the ground, and then the Unicorn was gone.
The princess sank heavily to the ground, she could go no further, she had to rest, to sleep, and soon that sweet healing darkness enfolded her as she drifted off.
Her nose twitched again at the fly that was tickling it, and her heavy eyes opened, as she raised her hand to brush it away. Startled, she looked around, and then laughed aloud. The sun was shining, she had her own dress on, and her shoes lay by her side. It had all been a dream, she had dozed off and dreamt everything – of course, Unicorn’s weren’t real, how silly of her. And then she felt something resting upon her head, and, lifting her hand, felt flowers in her hair. She grasped at them, and found it was a garland of delicate white roses. Puzzled and a little afraid, she looked up, and there, where the Unicorn had shed its single tear, grew a magnificent pear tree, full with its heavy fruit. And circling its trunk was a beautiful rose tree, from which her white roses had come. She swallowed as she remembered what had occurred, and, sighing, she stood up and began to walk back to the palace. She did not know whether she would ever see the great beast again, but she knew that the tree would always be there for her, to remind her of the magic of the Unicorn.
© andrew rossiter 2009