Friday, December 31, 2004

The inevitable explanation

So, there it is. This is just a first draft. There is more to come.

I have actually written more on this story, completing a first (full) chapter just the other day. However, some changes have occurred and I haven't written these in to the main story. So, you'll have to make do with the prologue offered below. It sets the scene.

Until next year.

Do your usual. Read, think, comment.

purplesimon out...

Behind the Wall

As soon as you entered the house you could tell that something was awry, slightly amiss. That’s if you were tuned into those kinds of things. Like I was. For me it has been easy to detect the whiff of fear that the walls exuded like a thick fog rolling from room to room.

I don’t know why I hadn’t reacted to it, not like I had that time we had travelled out into the depths of the countryside and stayed at some God-awful hotel, a place that rang out with the ghosts of those who had been slain in their sleep, or murdered on the mud tracks that ran through the hills, a twisting accumulation of veins that fed the summit. The thing is I hadn’t done a single thing that could have allowed me to tell my story in the flesh. Not one single God damned thing.

If you had entered that house you would have come through the screen door that kept out the incessant bugs in the late summer evenings; you would be greeted by a sumptuous entrance hall, shadowed by the mounds of webs that the spiders had left behind, some still with the cocooned flies lying trapped in a silken tomb. A short step forward, allowing time for your eyes to get used to the gloom that penetrated despite the attempts of many of this house’s owners to bring in more light, and a door would loom from the wall. This is where I can be found.

But, no one ever came into the room first. They would leave this until last, always. Often, I thought that it were only a peculiarity of the real estate agents on the first few occasions that it happened, but even visitors were taken by the rooms at the back of the house and by the cavernous space that the cantilevered staircase gave the property. Perhaps everyone did sense what the house had to say, but chose to suppress it, to keep it down and hunkered into a foetal ball, and to explore the rest of the house so that, by the time they had toured the remaining rooms – all of them sizeable spaces with high ceilings framed with exquisitely moulded plasterwork – the effect the house had been trying to impress on its visitors was dissipating and barely noticeable when experienced for a second time.

Visitors were always led into the far room, the area of the house that held the kitchen and dining area. There they would be offered a drink, perhaps something light to eat – “Are you hungry after your travels?” – and, while the kettle chugged like an elderly statesmen as it sat above the gas flame from the oven (it would be years until electricity would be piped into the property, so rural was its location when I was brought here) the guests would walk from room-to-room and soak in the atmosphere of this quirky Victorian mansion.

Finally, they would enter the front room; the best room, as its original inhabitants would have known it. However, they would dwell long, for soon the kettle would be heard, its piercing whistle breaking the still air, the silence. The void. Voices would exclaim that tea would soon be ready and that, perhaps, it should be taken in the garden – “Oh, you must see the flowers, we’ve worked so hard this year to make it beautiful and you know how I value your opinion, dear.” The door would be shut and the dust would settle again. And I would be left alone again, as I had been for many years now. Lost and never to be found, for there is no map that can be followed to find me, the person that put me here is probably as dead as I am, or soon to be. No one can be convicted now.

If they had looked closer, had inspected the décor a little bit closer, maybe they would have noticed that something was definitely out of place. If they had seen past the enormous, yet elegant, marble fireplace, they might have spotted that a Victorian property would have indentations on either side, not a flat wall of bricks as this one did. Had they bothered to walk along and tap the walls they might have discovered that the mortar that held those very bricks together, nestled between them as if it were the cream in a sponge cake, was becoming old and loose. Should that have piqued their curiosity, they might have taken a finger, so pink and slender, and worked it into the gap that would open up. If, and only if, they had done that, they would have felt a slight breeze, a zephyr that would disturb their hair and be felt as a light touch, a caress on the cheek. Only then would they have known that the wall was not original, that it had been added over the years, that there was something to be discovered behind this wall, which had lain undisturbed for years. They would want to rip back those bricks, those red teeth that opened into the mouth of Hell. For they would have found my skeleton and then the story would unravel.

Except, they never, ever did.

Another year (almost) over

It's that horrible time of the year - the cusp of the New Year.

Why, perhaps you are asking, is it a horrible time; surely I mean that it's a generally lovely time, party atmospheres, etc. Well, maybe it is if you're still 16-25, or older with that mentality. Me, I prefer a quiet life contemplating rather than one which involves drinking more than all the beer/wine/whisky I have managed to down over the past 12 months.

Perhaps it is a sign of getting old. Perhaps it's a sign of differing financial constraints. Perhaps I've just realised that it's another load of bollocks invented by the media/establishment to make me spend the last few pennies in my bank account, leaving me bereft of excitement for the rest of the month as I attempt to shop, eat, pay the mortgage and bills, as well as get to work for a whole month (because I managed to secure some decent money for a pitch and the promise of more from an agency I worked for just prior to Christmas).

So, best leave it at: Happy New Year.

The other thing is: I don't make resolutions. Pointless. I know I will break them as soon as the bongs of Big Ben have quietened.

I will use this period of partying to write something new. I have a short story, which I started recently, that looks as if it might make something a bit longer. So, to whet your appetite, I will post the first chapter up.

Read, think, comment. As always.

purplesimon out...

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

I managed to survive it once again...

It's all over for another year. Three cheers.

As you can tell, I managed to survive the whole experience and come out of the other side if it relatively unscathed. I say relatively, mainly because I managed to see only my direct relatives, which is why I actually managed to get through things this year.

At this point in time, I don't know how Christmas 2005 will go. Here's hoping that it follows on this chilled pattern, the precedent having been set this particular year.

So, now we march on to New Year's Day. I used to celebrate this occasion every single year, never once missing a 5pm start to the evening's drinking and carrying on until the early hours of the morning; the hangover would settle sometime on the 3 January and I would be left feeling like shit for two days, vowing never to drink again (ever!) and pulling the duvet over me until the whole horrible thing melted away and I could get the courage to visit the pub again.

Now, at the grand old age of 31, I can't do that anymore - not just financially, but also my body is simply not able to cope with that amount of alcohol in one session, or certainly not the punishing hangover that, should I attempt to repeat the follies of my youth, would be so debilitating that I wouldn't be able to raise my head from the toilet bowl for 48 hours.

I have work to do, I can't afford the time off.

See, I bought a new kitchen on Monday. In one single purchase I managed to relieve myself of several thousands of pounds. It was simple: visited a showroom, made an appointment for that day to have a designer come around and plan the kitchen. After several hours and cups of tea we had our kitchen. Then came the price bombshell. Phew, who would have thought that kitchens could be this expensive? Not me. But, we threw caution to the wind and signed on the dotted line. Some idiot at the financial centre pressed the right button on his/her keyboard and we were approved for credit. Now all I have to do is work hard and pay the damn thing off!

However, the money won't be an issue once it is completed, as the kitchen I have now is - in a word - vile. Simply put, it is a rubbish layout with hardly any cupboards and about two feet of work surface. As a kitchen it serves a similar purpose as a chocolate tea pot: none.

So, that's my Christmas tale relayed to you in easy-to-read paragraphs.

I'm proud to say that I stayed away from televisions and computers for three whole days. This did mean that I missed all news coverage of the disaster in the Indian Ocean. I hate to say it, but this is a further example of a disaster that America could have averted but chose not to. The first was 9/11.

Let's debate that point, if you want to accept the gauntlet. I'm happy to hear your opinion, if constructive. Abuse just rams home the point that the ill-educated should be kept away from any form of publishing. I'm happy for you to disagree, but any person can type fuck you.

I've just proved that point myself.

Read, think, comment.

purplesimon out...

Friday, December 24, 2004

Twas the day before the silly season ended

Yeah, another year almost over and the silly season can be forgotten for the next 364 days. Thankfully.

I'm not a huge fan of the Christmas thing, mainly because I am not a Christian. I recognise that the festival has lost its meaning: it is really a Pagan celebration that was hijacked by the early adopters of Christianity, but even if that leaves a bad taste in your mouth, Christians around the world must be wondering if there's anyone out in this big bad world that really cares that much about Jesus. He hasn't come back yet, we're all bored of waiting. Why they can't see it's a con, I don't know. It is. Religion does nothing but cause problems, conflicts and arguments. It's a shame.

I am looking forward to the New Year, in the hope that it gets better. However, I think we might have to wait until 2008 before we really see progression. Why? That's the next year of American presidential elections.

Peace to all. See you in 2005.

purplesimon out...

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Isn't it about time we caught up?

Yeah, it's been a while since I last popped a post on this, my very own blog. So, what's new?

Been busy doing the corporate thing, making my clients sound fantastic, whether they are or not. I have to say that all my clients are ethical - they have to fit in to my ideal otherwise I don't work with them. But, I am a slave to the... certainly not the rhythm, perhaps more likely the ability to purchase things in shops and to pay for a roof over my head. Much as I detest money, it is a necessity.

I do like to barter, if anyone has some ideas on how that might work on a blog.

Otherwise, I have been running around sorting out my parents' financial problems, which stem from a serious illness that my mother contracted part way through July 2004. It nearly killed her, now the UK Government is doing its best to try again. Thankfully, today is the last time I need to run around, as I became a legal representative of my mother's as of lunchtime. So, from now on it can be taken care of on the phone or by email (if the local offices have finally come into the 21st Century).

So, there you have it. The only other news is war, war and more war. It seems to me to be the topic of choice for the past three years, constant violence flaring up. And, it's not just faraway places, it happens on your doorstep. Maybe you're not plagued with drunken idiots patrolling your streets in packs while the police look on, pissing in your doorway, throwing rubbish in your driveway or, worse, causing criminal damage. Well, I can't think of a place that doesn't suffer in the UK. So, there are more personal wars we have to fight.

I want to leave this post with a saying that I wrote about eight or nine years ago, just after I had moved away from home for good after University. It's that old, but it will always be topical, which almost makes me want to weep... Anyway, here's the quote for you:

Peace is something to be achieved, not a cause to fight for.

I also wrote another one that currently sits on an image at the beginning of my portfolio. I might take it out and frame it, but I might just leave it where it is, as it serves to remind anyone that views my portfolio that I have an opinion, I am not afraid to express that opinion, and I don't care if it offends your beliefs. This one reads:

The absence of war breeds it.

This is to say that man cannot function without conflict. I believe that's never a truer word said.

Bush-bashing is commonplace nowadays, so I won't start anymore here. I have a healthy resentment for his policies, I believe him to be a dullard of the highest order, but all the while he has his fingers near the button I want everyone to tell him how great he is, just so he doesn't get bored and start world war III.

I leave you people for a while, so read, think and comment.

purplesimon out...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Did I disturb you?

So, was the desired effect evident there? Did you get (how shall I put this?) the willies? The shiver down the spine. Sorry, was that a yawn you're stifling?

Comments as usual, if you please.

purplesimon out...


They took the tape off Johnson’s eyes just before they zipped him up.
“Not the best advert for Sellotape, is it?” remarked Clearmont.
Fersome just grunted; he was not a man of words at the best of times and seeing the dead body of his mate being zipped up into a thick plastic bag didn’t make for good conversation. Fersome turned his back on the scene and glanced around the disused, practically derelict, back room of what had once been his childhood home. Behind him, Clearmont sighed heavily, hissing air through his teeth as if someone had punctured his outer skin and the air in his body was leaking into the atmosphere. Fersome half-expected to see a flaccid pile of clothes and skin when he turned around, but Clearmont was simply staring at him.

“Where were you between the hours of 6pm and 10pm last night, if I may be so bold as to ask?” Clearmont was just doing his job, but Fersome was incensed at the accusation. He was smarting, not just because of the timing of the question, but also because he was with Clearmont last night, eating at a Chinese restaurant in the squalid back streets of China Town. He grunted again, his eyes telling Clearmont that he had better be asking him that out of a sense of duty and not because he believed that Fersome had slipped out between the fried baby Octopus and the green bean salad just to stick a knife in the heart of their best friend.

They had a clear set of prints off the Sellotape – like the killer either wanted them to discover who had killed Johnson or was simply a complete fuckwit; Fersome was thinking that it was probably the latter, unless someone was about to attempt to frame him for murder. He shook his head and coughed as he cleared his throat. Several policemen turned to stare at Fersome, his steely gaze told them to get back to their work and fuck anyone who might want to argue with that. Especially Clearmont.


A spot of blood dripped on the shirt collar of a big man in black suit; it was an ill fitting set of clothes and they bulged unnaturally as his bulk tried to escape the linen prison, to rip out from the constraint of the cloth. The blood diffused through the material and, as it slowly coagulated in the sun that streamed through the large windows set high in the wall, clumped in a way that made it look like ketchup, like stage blood. When the crash of the body echoed through the air, golden with motes of dust caught in sunlight, no one was there to hear it. No one would discover the body until rats and maggots had devoured it, when the weather had got so warm that the smell brought humans, hoping to find what was spoiling their family barbecue. Someone would state that they knew it wasn’t the marinade they had made from a selection of food found at the back of the fridge late on a Friday night. Others would say later that the body smelled better than the marinade.

The host would find legs of chicken buried in the garden for years to come and wonder how they had got there, failing to remember how she had tossed her own piece of food in the bin, wracking her brains for the reason no one had complained that it tasted like shit. The thoughts had been interrupted by the sounds of people discussing the smell from “that tired piece of shit architecture that should’ve been pulled down a long time back, don’t you agree Trevor?” All of them were middle-class wankers who bustled in front of the news channel camera, almost fighting to get into the shot, each looking for the moment when they could grasp their fifteen minutes of fame. All they got was the chance to sit in a police station for hours going over the details of where they were at the time of death, etc. Before long, the police would have worn most of them out and allowed them to leave, the words ‘we may need to see you again’ ringing in their ears.


The newspapers didn’t begin to use the phrase SERIAL KILLER for months, something that had surprised Fersome. He had languished in a cell for six weeks now, picking bugs off his pubic hair each morning, keeping his eye on the other prisoners. Who knew he was a policeman? He kept himself to himself, looked at no one and repeated the mantra in his head: I will be free, I am innocent; I will be free…

In the end they beat a confession out of another inmate. The patsy (he had a name, but no one could remember what it was and so they referred to him only by his prison number: 103BT6) was executed one bitterly cold morning in September. Fersome wasn’t there: he was at an award ceremony, receiving a medal for bravery. Four months inside a maximum security prison was worth it, apparently.

The killings stopped from that point on, which was all the police really wanted. Clearmont was off the case. In fact, no one had seen Clearmont for weeks. Only Fersome suspected. Only Fersome put two and two together and found that things didn’t really add up.


Nightmares plagued him. The sound of Sellotape being pulled across eyelids, the sound of it being ripped off dead skin and the bluish tinge to that same skin, around the mouth which had also been taped up. This was the only evidence that each body shared; they had little else in common. Apart from being in the wrong place at the wrong time, that is – they had this fact in common with every other murder victim in history. It didn’t help Clearmont sleep any better.

He was shaken awake in the early hours of the first Monday morning of January. Through blurry eyes he saw gloves and a bag from the stationers. As he began to scream, another pair of gloved hands reached around and placed a piece of tape over his mouth.

After that, we can only guess. Fersome wrote in his report that he thought death was painful and that a struggle had taken place. Others higher up in the hierarchy of the force thought he showed insight – not from being at the killing, but from being best friends with two murder victims. He had a cast iron alibi for each slaying. It would never stand up in court.


Fersome believed that he would be next. It was only a matter of time.

What's that all about, then?

The story below is something I wrote for the creative writing group I mentioned earlier in this blog. I quite liked it, I was trying to do more with the characters on this one and it turned out a lot better than expected.

I'm not part of the group anymore, which I may also have mentioned earlier in this blog - Hell, I don't read the thing I just post on it.

I don't know if anyone else will ever read it! We shall see. I am adding the blog address to my Hotmail account so that might get me the odd visitor.

I have another one I want to put up, just because others who have read it say that it disturbs them. I want to know if anyone else out there in blog-land feels the same.

purplesimon out...

Down the station

That’s me, there.
No, no, not the fat guy with the straining shirt buttons. I’m the other guy, the one standing; the one with the wiry, curly black hair and the beige chinos. Yes, that’s me.
It’s difficult, what with the sun glinting off my glasses, but also the distance, to see my piercing blue eyes, the slight hook of my nose and the lines on my forehead, but they are there. Here, take a look at this photo; my features are easier to see, even on a dog-eared example like this one. I was smiling there, a happier time.

But, I digress.

We’re not here to specifically notice me. I’m here to see the tall, slender blonde-haired woman that is standing just to my left. You can see that she has a somewhat austere look, but don’t be fooled by first impressions. I wasn’t, and I’m a testament to how loving she can be.
Obviously, this is merely a snapshot in our lives. Unlike the photo, the one I showed you earlier (remember?). This is not a happy time.

Only three hours before this, Claudia (that’s her name, by the way) informed me – because she was so formal about it, the words ‘told me’ don’t come close to describing how she gave me the news – that she was pregnant.
Normally, I would’ve been overjoyed. However, this particular day I’d just had other news which whipped away my joy at fatherhood like a waitress removing a soiled tablecloth: I’d found out from my doctor that I was completely infertile.

What would you do?

Me? I faked enthusiasm. In my job, it’s something I can do without blinking, blushing, scratching my nose (in fact, I’ve managed over the years to completely suppress my natural body language in these circumstances). I hugged, I whistled through my teeth, I smiled and whooped with delight: I made plans out loud. What I wanted to do was vomit, but I couldn’t.

Claudia, in case you hadn’t gathered, knew nothing of my illicit visits to the doctor. She knows very little, actually.

She still doesn’t, not at this particular juncture.

I see. Well, it’s like this… The reason she looks so pissed off is entirely down to the T-shirt I’m wearing. It’s covered up now, just to keep her momentarily appeased. She’s always hated this particular garment, mainly because of the slogan printed on the front. I printed it myself when I was a student – I studied costume design at St. Martins College – and I’m proud that, at the age of 35, it still fits me.

Of course! The footage is slightly grainy, so I’ll tell you what is says:

“You’re the reason abortion was made legal”.

I know, but it was a rebellious streak that I had back in the 1980s. I haven’t worn it since an ill-fated trip to Dublin, where the shirt caused something of a stir – although I think that the local paper likened it to a riot, but that’s a bit off. I forgot that they’re all Catholics.

I blame the alcohol I’d consumed.

I know this information is superfluous to your requirements, but I think it might help later on, when you want to paint a better picture for the rest of your crew. Yes, I think it might help.

I know exactly where we went after those images were shot. It was a friend’s wedding day. We all congregated at this little café, the one that you see on that freeze-frame. I had a double espresso to calm my nerves. I hadn’t changed into my suit at that point – I didn’t want to get it dirty with food and drink stains, something I’m rather prone to, I’m afraid – and so Claudia and I would have popped off round the corner to Jane’s flat. She, Jane that is, well, she’s a work colleague of Claudia’s. A bit prim and proper, but likeable enough I suppose.

Yes, I have nothing to hide! I was getting around to mentioning that we dated at University, Jane and I.

Well might I sound incredulous! You wanted me to tell you the whole story and I am. I won’t be rushed into it, only to be brought back in here, at some later date, to fill in the gaps.

Okay, I’ll calm down. Yes, I’d love a cup of tea, Earl Grey if you happen to have it? Sure, PG Tips will suffice. Thank you.

Shall I continue? No problem. Would you mind if I smoked while we wait for the tea to arrive? Do you happen to have a lighter I could borrow? Thanks. I do like a cigarette while telling a story, it makes me take the time to think things over and present them in the most coherent way. Yes, I do have one to spare. Please, help yourself to a cigarette. The packet is on the table.

Just help yourself.

Well, I must say that this tea is most refreshing. Many thanks again for bringing refreshments. Yes, let’s not be so impatient, there is plenty of time yet and we are only at the beginning of this story. You can’t rush the truth.

We left the café; Roger was boring us stupid and, even though there was over two hours until we were needed at the church, I wanted to get away. I think Claudia sensed how uncomfortable I was, she suggested that we make our way to Jane’s place. I didn’t want a scene on the pavement, so we went there. I thought we were going to have a fight, a right ding-dong, but instead she closed the door behind us and practically ripped my clothes off. She was like an animal. I hadn’t seen her like that, not since we were first going out, you know, when the sex is still new and exciting.

I’m sure you don’t need to hear the details of the next twenty minutes. Yes, well, you won’t be saving me from any embarrassment. The thought of it still brings a smile to my face and a spring to my step.

Anyway, we got dressed and went along to the wedding, as planned. It was a frightful affair, to be honest with you, not something I want to repeat for a long time. What? No, I never intend to get married. I think you’ll find that in my file you have in your hand. Among other things.

This conversation isn’t moving the story along, I need to get this off my chest – it’s like a confession, don’t you see?

Well, we left the party about 9 o’clock that evening. Nothing special had happened, not really; a couple of drunks fighting, speeches, more drinking and some terrible dancing to some songs I vaguely remember from my youth. Lots of back-slapping as we left, I remember that, mainly because I had been sunburned the previous day and it stung like fuck when idiots were coming up and saying how lovely it was to see us, Claudia and I.

We probably won’t ever see them again, that was what she said to me, but how little did she know how true those words would turn out to be.

I can remember the threadbare carpet that was on the stairs as we left the reception. There were holes that we had to tread around so that we didn’t trip and we were still tipsy from the sex. I can clearly picture my arm around Claudia’s waist, but I couldn’t get around to telling her my news. I needed some time to work out how I could accomplish what I had set out to do. I knew the baby wasn’t mine: that was all I knew.

Yes, that is definitely the two of us coming out of the flat. I think that we are picked up on camera that sits on top of the Royal Exchange building next. Yep, there we are. If you focus in on us, you should be able to tell that we are having words – her favourite expression for what any normal person would term an argument – not about the baby, but about whether we want to go home or on to another bar.

She wasn’t aware at all that I was stalling for time, that I had plans I needed to carry out.

In the end, as you can see from the camera that is situated about the bar door, that we did indeed decide to have a drink on our own. I had vodka on the rocks; she had a martini, I think.

As luck would have it, she went to the toilet just as you called me on my mobile. There, check out how it catches on my pocket, snags on something. I need to keep that from happening, just in case you don’t get there as quickly next time.

I cancelled the call as she approached the table, telling her that I was just checking the time. I don’t wear a watch, I told her. I do, but it’s hidden in my other pocket, somewhere I can glance at it, surreptitiously. Now, watch this closely. Can you pause it? No? Okay, just watch her actions now.

For some reason, she had gotten mad while in the ladies’ room. I don’t know what about. Should I have followed her in and listened at the cubicle? What do you think I am? No, it’s not in the job description, man. Let’s just move on. You can see us leaving and I hail the cab that I knew would be waiting on the corner.

I’ll fill in the gaps, as the camera in the taxi was on the blink – or did she place a coat over it?

It’s getting hard to remember now; this part is more of a haze than I thought it would be.

Well, as discussed with Central, I waited until we were riding along a back street. I don’t think she felt a thing. No remorse here, it wasn’t my fucking baby. I just followed instructions – that’s what I do. Pain? Pain! Do you really give a shit?

I didn’t think so.

Anyway, shortly after I left the cab, you picked me up and brought me here. Is there anything else you need to know? If not, I need some sleep. What? Oh, so he wants to see me now, does he? Sure, not a problem.

I expect that he has yet another job for me. I’m getting too old for this shit. I need some sleep. Three years I spent on this one. Three whole years.

There’s no need to lead me. I know the way.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Mission accomplished

I was chatting to a friend this weekend about deadlines and making sure that I stick to them, how this is a large part of my life and often dictates what I do each day. Deadlines are (almost) my raison d'être. So, I suddenly realised that I hadn't updated my blog with the Dolly story. Hmmmmm, a missed deadline!

However, no one seems to have visited this blog, so I think I got away with it. If you read this, pretend I made the deadline and don't ever mention it to me again, ok? Thanks.

Which brings me neatly to the next part of this blog.

The same friend sent me a recycled email joke in a PowerPoint file, the one where some important people are in an aeroplane and after the plane starts to go down three of the five take the only parachutes and save themselves. There is one parachute left, which the Pope gives to this young schoolboy, stating that he has lived his life, etc, etc. Of course, the schoolboy says that the super-intelligent President of the United States has mistakenly taken his school bag and there are two parachutes left. Cue a slide show of George W. Bush's most embarrassing moments. It might be old, but it's funny. I don't even care if the pictures have been doctored. I know from hearing with my own ears and seeing with my own eyes that he is what we term in the UK as a 'plonker'. If I ever get to meet him, I'm just going to ask him to change his name to Rodney.

If that means nothing to you, get on Google and search for Only Fools and Horses scripts. Then it'll make sense. Maybe King Tony, el presidenté - aka the Prime Minister - will explain it to him while feeding him the monkey nuts.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the story, my own personal rant and will come back to see what's next.

purplesimon out...

Friday, December 03, 2004

500 words isn't very long

Let me set the scene for you: she (the child in this story) won’t stop screaming; sitting there, mouth open and the most high-pitched wail you’ve ever heard. And, do you know the reason behind this ear-piercing scream? She can’t find her dolly.

The problem is, neither can anyone else…

We join the action as there are twenty minutes left until the parents come back.

The cast:
Baby – Michelle Garson
Chris – James Commart
Harriet Lomand – Christine Farlow
Mrs. Harmmond – Sheila Carrow
Mr. Harmmond – Daniel Spencer

Chris buggered off like ages ago, soon as he got wind of my fuck-up. I mean, durr. He was over here quick enough when he thought he might get a grope, didn’t he. Like what’s that all about? Boys are weird.

That doesn’t help me find this fucking doll. Her parents are due back like in twenty minutes and they’ll go mental like if they hear her screaming like this. I bet the neighbours have already called them, you know, like the parents. Shit. That’s why they called, why they are rushing back here. Perhaps they think I’m some kinda torturer-type. Harriet Lomand: Child Torturer. That’s the headline in the local paper. Like I wanted to be famous you know, but not famous for being like a fuck-up.

Now there’s like ten minutes left. Is that the phone I can hear ringing? It might be, but with that kid squawking like that I can’t hear myself think like, let alone think about answering it if it is ringing. I wanna cry. I don’t want the dolly no more; I want my own Mummy. This ain’t worth the poxy coupla quid they’ll pay me. Or rather won’t pay me now.


We hear the sound of the doorbell in the distance. The baby still screams for her dolly.

That’s bound to be someone from next-door come to see what this brat is shouting about. I’ll peer through the curtains, see who it is and decide whether to answer it.

Oh, it’s Chris, come back.

Alright. Okay like don’t speak to me then. Tosser. Just forgot his ciggies. I never liked his smokey breath anyway, tasted like shit in an ashtray. He thought it made him look good, but he’s a tosser. Nuff said.

There are lights approaching on the road, so they’ll be here within minutes. I can’t stop this kid screaming, where the fuck is this bloody dolly? I can’t believe they like never mentioned it before they left: “the kid needs this dolly, don’t lose it, ok?” but they never said a word.

Typical. Surely I’ll be to blame, won’t get no more babysitting jobs from this, so there goes my extra pocket money.

Shut up! Shouting at her don’t help like.

Here they are. Fuck.

“Hello, Harriet, it’s Mrs. Harmmond here.”

“Hi there, this is Mr. Harmmond, where are you? We found her dolly in the back of the car and we know she screams without it and won’t sleep. Harriet? You there?”

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The jury is still out

Don't be fooled, like I was, into thinking that jury service is anything but boring. Sitting around and reading (the only enjoyable part of the experience) is all it is good for. If you get called, refuse in the nicest possible way and get on with your life.

Instead of sitting the past two days, though, I have been relieved for the rest of the week and have spent it catching up on my work. This means that I haven't written anything new, nothing at all.

I intend to change this and tomorrow I am setting myself the following task:

In 500 words exactly, tell a complete story. The theme of the story should be a lost doll and a young girl's search for it.

Why not try this one yourself? Check back tomorrow to see what I could come up with. I like to think it'll be worth it.

purplesimon out...

Friday, November 26, 2004

Off to the funny farm?

So, did it make you laugh?

Obivously, because you're reading this backwards, as it were, I must point out that I am talking about the story that is displayed below this post.

That means, if you haven't read it yet, this will be meaningless. So, read it and come back.

Rest assured it doesn't contain any fire-related plot and it isn't quite as dark as the others.

You know the score by now: read, think, comment...

purplesimon out...

A stab at comedic writing

“Ladies and Gentlemen, please can you take your seats for tonight’s performance. The show will begin in two minutes and latecomers may be refused entry to the programme.”

2 minutes and 10 seconds later

“…and he said to me. Oh, hang on. Some stragglers decide to stumble into my show, late. No, no, come on and take those seats – I was disappointed that it wasn’t a full house tonight as it was; the rest of these people can thank you later for gaining them more of my time for their hard-earned dough. Now, where was I?”

1 hour, 15 minutes and 10 seconds later

“That was fuckin’ great Larry, fuckin’ great. How’d’ya do it, eh? You’re funny as, well, funny as fuck.”
“Yeah, yeah, Slim, you’ve always thought I was. It’s the rest of ‘em, don’t you see: do they think the same way as you?”
“Course they do!”
“Do they?”

And so, it all began on that fateful night in January. I remember staring into the mirror for what seemed like days, turning that question over-and-over in my mind: did people find me funny, or was it simply a case of overly potent wine? Pun intended.

Y’see what I mean? I’ve started pointing my jokes out to people, willing them to laugh, to chuckle, to show some degree of fucking mirth. Even when they’re ROTL, as they say nowadays – I’m down with the kids, let me tell ya – I still find myself questioning the legitimacy of their laughter.

It’s been like that for over three months now.

It’s not that I’m scared to get up on stage, that I get some kinda fright going on or summink; I ain’t getting old in that respect, too old for the circuit, like. Nah, not me. I’m an old hand at tickling ribs – and we ain’t just talkin’ at the Comedy Club here. Hehe. What? Surely, I don’t need to spell that one out for ya, do I?

Give me fuckin’ strength.

Anyways, I’m, like, turning these new ideas over in my head, thinking them through and making humour out of the spiralling dust of everyday living. That was just the other day, too. Well, the thing is right, it’s like this: I had come up with such a killer joke that I started to laugh on the tube – that’s the underground for you philistines that live ‘in the [fucking] country’. (Yeah, I’m educated, I can write proper.)

Look ‘ere, let me tell the fuckin’ story; stop interrupting, for fuck’s sake. You’re a hard audience to please, a real boost to the old confidence, a shot-in-the-arm-type of people. Yeah, it’s a collective noun. Ain’t nuffin funny ‘bout it.

Whatever, let’s move on.

As I was saying, etc, etc, there I found myself, on the tube, like, and I was laughing at my own joke, which I’d literally just told myself in my own head.

Weird, like.

Anyways, people began, like, staring at me real closely and all.

I’d made the mistake of smoking the biggest fuckin’ doobie before I got on – some bright spark thought it would be a good idea to take police sniffer dogs on the transport system – and it made me a little bit paranoid, to say the least.

I decided I had to get off – I was compelled by the growing paranoia that people knew that I was stoned. I’d begun to sweat like the proverbial pig. It seemed to take so long to get to the next stop. Even though in two more minutes I could alight at my normal station, as soon as the tube train came to a halt I barrelled from the train, knocking fellow passengers to the side like ninepins. Some witty bastard shouted ‘Strike!’ as I exited, but I didn’t feel up to my usual, venom-spitting self, so I carried on headlong through the crowds.

I needed a Mars Bar.

The sweat was pouring off me and my eyes were wild with fright – albeit with red rims. I must’ve looked a right sight as I corralled through the shiny-tiled corridors. My breathing quickened and I felt the bile of panic rise into my dry throat. The escalator loomed into view and I took the left lane – for those idiots that assume that running up a ‘moving’ staircase will increase their lifespan. From this experience, I can tell you: it won’t.

In an attempt to gain my quarry – the Mars Bar, keep up people – to sate my hunger for sugar, I made the fatal error of taking the stairs two at a time. Big mistake.

Anyone out there that’s ever been stoned, or even slightly pissed, will recognise the flaw in my plan. My brain, starved of the necessary fuel, could not compute the distance between my feet and each (moving) metal step. Consequently, it wasn’t long before I completely misjudged my ascent, pitching myself forward at an alarming angle. Stupidly, I put out my arm to prevent any damage on impact.

Look, I’ve never been skiing. I didn’t know that putting out my arm was stupid, that these joints were my body’s weakest links – not to mention the other joints that contributed to my downfall.

There was an almighty crack, which echoed through the cavernous tube network. I fell flat on my face, a cry erupting from my mouth as my chin met a step with a sickening crunch.

People around me laughed. I still had the ability then. I tried a smile; all I managed was to black out completely. I blame the pain.

Later on, I awoke covered in yellowing bed sheets and realised I was receiving NHS treatment. While I suspect someone had been through my pockets looking for a mobile phone, cash and credit cards – vultures, all of them – I bet they left my BUPA card alone and failed in their ‘moral’ duty to inform my new carers, the London Ambulance Service. My head was fuzzy; I later found this was due to the painkillers I had been given. I had a plaster cast around my arm and a cut on my chin that was stitched.

On the plus side, there was a Mars Bar on my bedside table.

As I absently picked at a piece of scab adhered to the blanket that covered me – it wasn’t my scab, it’s just that something innate in me makes scab-picking a fundamental task that I am happy to carry out on myself and others – I waited for someone in authority to appear…

After three days of marinating in my own sweat, I checked out. Sorry, it’s not a hotel: I went and discharged myself.

While I picked up bag, a volley of shouts came from down the corridor. A group of white-coated personnel spilled into the room, brushing me aside. I heard one of them whisper, “Thank God he’s finally giving up a bed for someone who actually deserves it,” but I couldn’t think of anything acerbic enough to throw back. I had a gig to get to and I couldn’t afford to miss it, or another mortgage payment.

Well, we’ve gone full circle now, we’re back at square one. The good news is that I now have a date for the cast to be removed. It’s tomorrow.

Five hours later, I’m back on stage and it’s my final chance to be funny again, to prove I ain’t lost the ability to make the punters laugh.

So, I’ve still got some time to work on my new material. Except… well, except I can’t think of anything new. Not a position I’ve ever found myself in; more to the point, it’s a position I don’t know how I got into in the first place. I’ll have to try and get some answers tomorrow, at the doc’s place. Kill two birds with one stone and all that. I might also find out what I broke in terms of bones, too, cos I still don’t know.

Check the fridge: two bottles of wine and five cans of beer. Should be enough. And, it might lead to a funny anecdote for tomorrow’s show. Maybe.

Well, here’s something well funny. Yeah, hilarious. There’s a bloke in Harley Street, looking for number 43. He can see 42, 44 and all the others, but no 43. He’s been walking round for ages staring at the buildings, a map in his hands. He’s alternating between the two numbers like he’s watching a personal tennis match going on that no one else can see. And then, after being soaked to the skin in the torrential rain…

I got to be funny again, raised a laugh in the crowd; got a standing ovation and an encore. It all came back as soon as the cast was removed. I couldn’t work it out, but then the doctor said to me: the bone you broke in your arm was the Humerus, also known as the funny bone…

Something I just noticed

Well, it seems that the two stories I have blogged so far contain content that points to me being a pyromaniac!

Can I just state, for the record, that I am not sponsored by Swan Vestas or Cooks' Matches or any other flammable material manufacturer. However, if any of those companies out there want to send me some money to write more stories about setting things alight, well, I can be swayed.

I'll post something else that is not so fire-orientated in its plot.

purplesimon out...

Monday, November 22, 2004

Crazy. What does this mean?

The story below (yes, you might have noticed that I always post the story first, it's the way of the blog) is from a creative prompt provided to me by a friend for a creative writing group I used to belong to. It's recent, though.

The prompt was: Take the 9th CD in your rack and write something about the 4th song on it.

Mine was The Star Spangles and the track was "I don't want to be crazy anymore"

So, there you have it. Watch this space, more to come.

purplesimon out...

I Don't Want To Be Crazy Anymore

I don’t want to be crazy anymore than you would. Those were her last words to me, her back to the sun so that I had to blink at the haze surrounding her body. She looked ethereal, as if she were an angel sent to warn me. I didn’t cry, not a sob. Her scowling face, eyes screwed tight in bitterness and her arms crossed in defence; those are the images that will stay with me for the rest of my days, how ever many I might have left.

She used to sit against the radiator for hours, complaining of the cold even in the height of summer when everyone else would be collapsing on the London Underground, sweat pouring from them – a personal monsoon season. Not even a motherfucker of a Simoom would make Carole warm. Again, those are her words.

She was diagnosed back in the late 80s, a time when people were grateful for what they could get. The country was in the grip of economic crisis; people were losing their homes on a daily basis. Carole used to sit in front of the television, laughing at these poor people, those who had stretched themselves with the mortgage, as they were forced onto the streets by the bailiffs, struggling to carry the possessions that they had left or what could be sold to make ends meet. She told the doctor she had thought it was a new comedy sitcom, one that she happened to find hilarious. They did the necessary tests, again and again – to make sure, that’s what the consultant said – and then they began dispensing the drugs.

The mood swings weren’t the worst of it. I used to hate the silence that she could drop as if it were an old toy no longer of any use. Days would pass by without a word issuing from her lips. Even if you tried to make her cry out, she would refuse to utter even a grunt. I hid anything sharp during those episodes. It didn’t stop me loving her: she was still my “little girl”.

Jack used to joke that we should station an ambulance at the end of the drive during the teen years. I’d blink back tears and wonder how he could say such nasty things about something he had helped to create, but I know now that he was just using it as a way of coping. Course, he can’t joke anymore, not now.

Two weeks later I discovered her stash of pills, those she had spat out over the years. The kind man that came to fix the heating poured them out of our tired looking boiler pipe. He told me that she must have popped them into the heating system via the tank in the loft. I daren’t go up there, just in case she left me some surprises. The man from the plumbing company was gung-ho to get up there until I told him about Carole. He drank his tea so quickly he burned his mouth and tongue. Another man had to come back the next day and replace the pipes. His name was Kevin. He didn’t say a word and was in-and-out of the house within the hour. I’d never known a workman refuse a drink before. Carole had that effect on people, even if they had never met her.

As I was lighting the candles, closing all the windows, I remembered all these things. I knew Carole was somewhere in the house, I had heard her creep back in through her bedroom window in the early hours of the morning. I took my time, made little noise. I looked in at her bedroom, but it was empty. I locked the window and closed the door behind me as I retreated to the kitchen on tiptoes.

I drew the match across the box, its loud scratching a warning sign to anything within listening distance. I heard a cry from above my head, somewhere in the upper reaches of the house. All the matches had been removed from the house a long time ago; this was the first box to return to this abode in many years. She must have heard it, the distinctive scrape of the match head along the side of the box, the satisfying hiss as it lights the wooden stick. She may have heard the whoosh as the flames took off around the house, igniting the fuel I had liberally sprayed in every room. She may have caught a whiff of smoke on her throat, a small cough emitting as she went to clamber down the loft stairs. Did she scream when she realised they didn’t exist anymore, that someone had removed the rungs? Did she jump down the twenty feet to the bottom of the stairs, I wonder?

They never found her body in the ashes that remained, they told me that in court. The judge said I gave no hint of remorse, that he believed it had not been because of diminished responsibilities, that I had purposely arranged the house so as to trap an “innocent human being” while I “committed arson”. I protested that she was as guilty as I was, that there were no innocent people in my story. He silenced me with a wave of his hand and a two-year prison sentence. It was suspended on appeal, pending psychiatric reports. My doctor and I both see the irony in my visits, but he cannot help me. I know I have to face this on my own. I just don’t want to be crazy anymore.

Friday, November 19, 2004

The next one is coming...

I received an email this morning from a good friend, someone I used to be in a creative writing group with. Online, of course; it would be too much to see their faces as they read my work.

It reminded me that I need to start placing more stories up, set up a sort of database of work, keep the words flowing and let people judge not just my new work but also my older work, too.

In this way, you - the readers out there, whenever you materialise - will be able to see if I have bettered my writing. And, you can leave a comment to let me know.

Jury service awaits a week Monday, so I shall post every day until then.

That should provide enough reading material for everyone until I get time to post up some more.

purplesimon out...

Sunday, November 14, 2004

The story behind the story...

I was sitting at home trying to write something different, in a different style, to other work I had done.

I thought about an exercise that could be used to focus my writing. I came up with the following:

Every single paragraph is to be exactly 100 words long
The first letter of the first word will follow the alphabet, beginning at 'a'.

Below is the piece that came out of it.

Comments, please.

purplesimon out...

The A-Z of Love

Arnold was approaching the dreaded age of 40 when it happened. He had to admit that it hadn’t come out of the blue, but it still hit him like a train, as it would anyone finding out that your wife of 23 years was leaving you for another woman. A man, well Arnold could handle that, but this new twist took him completely by surprise. She said that, finally, she was being satisfied in bed. That was like a knife to Arnold’s heart. She’d said this to him as she laboured with the suitcases, the front door slamming behind her.

Beatrice has done it. She breathed out in relief at finally making a decision on her own. She stood on the porch and took in the view of the garden. She wouldn’t be back, that much she knew. The other thing was she hadn’t regretted the lie that she had told Arnold, her husband. Soon to be her late husband if only in word. As far as she was concerned, her husband was dead. Some might think that this was harsh, but to Beatrice it was the only way it made it all bearable. The only way she could leave.

Considering what had happened to him, it was no surprise that Arnold couldn’t stand at the door once it had slammed shut. He turned his back on the glass, missing the opportunity to make amends for whatever it was he was supposed to have done. Instead of pleading on his knees, Arnold simply turned around and walked into the kitchen. He took a cup and made himself a strong coffee. Two sugars and plenty of creamy milk was how he preferred it. As he stirred his cup, he realised that he was stuck in his ways. Could he ever change?

Dancing on the spot was something that sprung to Beatrice’s mind as she stood outside the door. Instead, she moved away at a brisk pace, not really knowing where she was going, but not wanting to attract the attention of the group of young people who had congregated in front of the local shop. Head down, her eyes succumbing to the tears that had dammed up against her eyelids, she thought about what Arnold would tell people, how he would make a story of her having left. Would he lie to family and friends, or would he tell the truth?

Everyone would know that she had walked away from the marriage, but Arnold wracked his brains for a plausible excuse he could tell the kids. They were still young enough to be protected, but old enough to make their own decision about their mother and how she had treated them, how she hadn’t bothered to say goodbye. Tessa and Charlotte would have to live with the knowledge that their mother had left while they were still at school. In fact, she had left just after they had and Arnold had all day to consider this timing. What did it mean?

Further along the road, Beatrice stopped again, trying to get a purchase on the suitcases that were digging grooves into her hands. She had tried to drag them across the cold, damp pavement, but that had aggravated her bad back and she had taken to carrying them again. Why hadn’t she called a taxi, she wondered. People offered to help her, but she shunned all contact with other people. They seemed to sense her emotions and didn’t offer twice. Beatrice thought she might have marriage-breaker written on her forehead. Perhaps word had already got out and they were judging her.

Getting up from the chair, Arnold had taken his cup to the sink. Instead of rinsing it through warm water as he might normally have done, Arnold chose this moment to change the habit of a lifetime; well half his lifetime, he supposed. He wanted to live longer than 40. After all, he had the kids to consider more than ever now. He didn’t want to let them down in the same way their mother had. Suddenly, the anger caught him like a forest fire, flaring up in his chest. Arnold threw the cup to the floor. It didn’t break.

Having lugged her suitcases over three miles, Beatrice was worn out. She was feeling hungry and all she could think about was the food stacked on the shelves in her kitchen cupboards. Well, it wasn’t her kitchen anymore, she had to concede that, but she sat in the warming spring sun contemplating her new one. The image faded as Beatrice realised that she was not only a long way from home, she had no home and was further away from getting a new one the longer she stood still. She had an appointment to keep; she had to get going.

Initially, the thought of taking his own life had passed across the mind of Arnold, but he had dismissed it almost instantly. What the world didn’t need was another man committing suicide over a woman. Having changed his routine by throwing (but failing to break) the coffee cup, Arnold felt empowered to do more. He was now in overalls, paint can in hand. He whistled through his teeth as he applied a new colour on the walls. This would change things more than Beatrice leaving ever could, he thought. He wasn’t sure he believed his own thoughts. He kept painting.

Just as Beatrice was giving up hope of getting into town with her load, a bus rounded the corner. Glancing up, Beatrice saw she was near a stop and so she held out her hand, requesting the bus to pull over. It carried on past her and pulled in at the stop. Everyone on the bus turned around and watched her as she pulled her suitcases along the pavement, hurrying towards the open doors. Once she was on the bus and safely in her seat the chatter began again, but no one spoke to Beatrice. They all ignored her, completely.

Keeping himself steady, with a second cup of coffee in his hand, Arnold stood back to admire his handiwork. He smiled to himself, pleased that he had eradicated one of the many memories. He glanced at his watch – there was still time to do more. Grabbing the car keys from his pocket, he rushed to the car. His urge to get to the DIY store was so great that Arnold almost forgot to write a note, just in case the kids came home early. He began the note with Dear Beatrice. He scrawled over it and wrote Dear Kids, instead.

Laughter interrupted Beatrice’s thoughts and she realised that there was a conductor asking her for her pass or the ticket. Beatrice didn’t know how London buses worked. The conductor said she would have to pay a fine. That was what had made the girls opposite laugh. Beatrice said, Oh, but the conductor simply wrote out a form and asked her for five pounds. The girls laughed again as she paid, counting out the coins into the inspector’s hand, one-by-one. It was only when she got into town that she found her original ticket. But, by then it was too late.

Mothers walked across the pedestrian crossing as Arnold waited in his car. The DIY shop was in sight and he revved the car a little, a sign of his impatience with the traffic lights. Soon he was off driving again and pulling into the small car park that served the shop. He knew what he wanted and was in and out of shop within minutes. He looked up as he approached his car and saw clouds gathering to the west. He narrowly missed stepping into a half-eaten and discarded egg and cress sandwich, but he didn’t notice his good fortune.

Noise came at Beatrice from all sides. The many different accents and cultures blurred as she continued on her journey. She was heading towards a small bed and breakfast where she was going to drop off her cases. Once she had freed herself from the baggage she would be able to get over to the school and meet the girls. She wanted to be the first person they saw. Still no one came to her aid. The people flowed around her as if they were water meeting a static rock. It took her fifteen minutes to reach the hotel door.

Once Arnold had arrived home he had a quick bite to eat (a pasta salad with tuna and peppers) and another drink of coffee. He still hadn’t washed the cup and it now had paint splatters all around the handle. By his feet was a large toolbox. The plastic bags from the DIY store stood all around. Arnold was going to be busy this afternoon, painting and fixing and changing. Realising that the task in front of him was a huge one, Arnold swigged back his drink and set about beginning the transformation. First task was altering the front door.

Phoning hadn’t been in Beatrice’s original plan; she hadn’t thought beyond saying the words: I’m leaving you. After that she had just flung spiteful vitriol at Arnold, much of it she hadn’t meant. At first she thought that she might just ring to make sure he was okay and alive, that he would be able to continue without her there. When he picked it up in a cheery manner she had held her breath for so long he asked if anyone was there. She said her piece quickly; his acceptance of her return was something she hadn’t expected to ask.

Questioning her motives, that was natural. It was these thoughts plaguing Arnold as he moved the brush back and forth. Well, it had been over four hours and Beatrice had never been gone that long before. He had agreed to pick up the girls from school, it was the least he could do. Yes, he was absolutely fine, he had told her, but busy. He refused to give more details. She could pick her suitcases up later; the room was already paid for. Now, all he had to do was finish up so he could get over to the school.

Retching over the toilet, Beatrice realised that she hadn’t taken food at all. She was hungry and thirsty. Abandoning her bags she rushed down the stairs and out into the street, searching left and right for a café or sandwich shop. Her mind was asunder and in her panic she almost missed the bright sign across the road offering fresh rolls. The traffic was backed up along the road as a woman pushed a child in a pram over the zebra crossing. Beatrice stepped out between the cars and headed towards the café. Then, she would take a taxi home.

Several hours after he had started, Arnold had painted every wall downstairs and he stood in the hallway in his paint-splattered overalls, the floor littered with empty pots. There was still a brush in his hand and it was dripping paint. Arnold didn’t spot this happening, but he had placed sheets on the floor to protect it. Arnold liked forward planning. He knew it would take some time to clean up so he gathered up everything and rammed it into the dustbin. Out of sight, out of mind. This was unlike him, but Arnold was feeling better for changing things.

The walk back had taken longer than Beatrice had first expected. This was because she had passed by the school and picked up the girls. For some reason, she didn’t trust Arnold to remember, he hadn’t seemed right on the phone. She had to admit that this probably had something to do with her actions. The girls dawdled behind Beatrice, asking incessantly: where’s Dad? She always gave the same answer, but even she was beginning to doubt her words: He’s at home. She didn’t know what she might do if he wasn’t. The girls couldn’t see her panic. Could they?

Undisturbed by the usual clamour in the house, Arnold was free to patter about in his socks. He carried a can in his hand and was walking around the house in a pattern that was not discernable, even to Arnold himself. However, he walked with a purpose – something he couldn’t remember having done so for many years. Once back in the lounge, Arnold dropped the can to the floor and began systematically breaking the furniture into small pieces, placing them on the floor in front of him in a haphazard pile. As he worked, Arnold hummed just under his breath.

Very close to the house, Mr Banjhiani from the local shop (the one just on the corner of the street) stopped Beatrice. Even though she hadn’t been inside the shop for months – and who could blame her at the prices he charged – Mr Banjhiani appeared to be up on his knowledge of the family. He spoke to the girls in turn, by name, and asked after Arnold. Beatrice, while flustered, stood her ground and smiled sweetly at the shopkeeper. Thanks for your concern; we are all well, she said, looking down. The shrewd Mr Banjhiani knew that she was lying.

While Beatrice was, unbeknownst to Arnold, being kept from returning home by Mr Banjhiani, a strange silence had settled on the house. Arnold was sitting in the front room, carefully tearing photographs into small strips and letting them flutter to the ground like feathers; they gathered around his feet like pets being fed from the hand. The pile grew bigger and bigger until Arnold had exhausted the supply of photographs stacked off to one side. He didn’t look up once from his task, no even when he heard the first footsteps on the path that led up to the house.

X MARKS THE SPOT what does that mean? It took Beatrice a moment to take in the words, as her eyes were fixed on the front door. Painted, crudely, on the front door were the very words that Charlotte had read aloud. What on earth could they mean? Beatrice didn’t have the answer to this particular question. She shrugged the children aside and retrieved the key from her purse. Clumsily, she dropped it on the floor and, as she bent forward to pick it up she thought she heard the sound of crying through the letterbox. She couldn’t be certain.

Younger men may have been able to deal with things differently, especially when they found themselves with broken hearts. For Arnold, he only had one way to deal with things, he was set in his ways and, as the cup incident had proved, he was too old to change them now. He was laughing at the proverb, you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. Well, he was the personification of that, he thought. The first match didn’t quite catch as he ran it down the length of the packet. The heat engulfed him as it caught on the second attempt.

Zinc in the diet can help burns heal. This was the first thought that came into Beatrice’s head as she tried, valiantly, to enter the house. The girls were screaming behind her and the key wouldn’t fit into the lock. As she looked closer, Beatrice saw that she would never enter the house again, for the lock had been changed. The smoke was billowing against the inside of the windows as the curtains caught the flames that filled the room beyond. Someone in the crowd that had gathered said they could see a solitary person sitting on the burning sofa.

Friday, November 12, 2004

The reason for being

It has been decided. There is to be a reason behind this blog and that is...

I will be posting a new short story each week on this blog, which you can comment on.

If you happen to be publisher and you want to sign me up on a multi-million pound deal, well, be sure to drop me a line.

All criticism is welcome, good or bad.

purplesimon out...