Thursday, 31 December 2015

The Office

This is part two of the The Cubicle. To see how the whole story is developing click here.
For audio click here.
Fardy -Russell went straight back into the office.
"Sir, something doesn't add up," he said. Belanger looked at him over half-moon glasses.
"It all seems reasonable to me," he said and tapped his pipe. "Maybe we underestimated Clifton."
“Balderdash!" Fardy-Russell said. " Sorry sir," Belanger nodded to show his apology had been accepted. "It's just that no one overpowers Henshall-Jones and I can tell he's hiding something.”
“Think very carefully about what you are saying Mr Fardy-Russell. You are accusing our top spy-catcher of helping a known spy to escape. That implies an awful lot of things.” Belanger put his pipe between his lips but didn't light it. "Do you have any proof?"  
Fardy-Russell shifted his weight. ”No sir, just.”
“There're no justs, bring me proof and I'll act but I'm not chasing after MI5's finest on a gut feeling. Now if that's all.”
Fardy-Russell shook his head, and stared at Belanger lighting his pipe, everyone knew when the boss lit the tobacco, it was time to go. He wanted to say something but he’d outstayed his welcome already and was in danger of incurring the wrath of his boss. He turned on his heel and headed for the door.
Why had Belanger been so dismissive? Was he in on this too? Was he part of it? If indeed there was an it to be part of and not just a figment of his imagination. Bring me proof he'd said, that was permission to investigate. Fardy-Russell would get to the bottom of this and he'd start with Clifton’s desk.
“What on earth are you doing?” Fardy-Russell barked at Henshall-Jones when he saw him clearing Clifton's desk. “Aren't you meant to be at the debrief with Belanger.”
Henshall-Jones ignored the younger man.
"I said what are you doing?" Fardy-Russell put an arm on H-J's shoulder and pulled him around to face him.
The two men stood toe to toe again.
“MI5 work, I’m trying to catch a spy.”
“One that you let go?”
“What are you saying?” Henshall-Jones roared.
Fardy-Russell wiped spittle off his face.
“I'm not saying anything, but I am thinking a lot of things,” he was angry, he knew H-J had every right in the world to be clearing Clifton's desk and was annoyed at himself for not getting there first.
“You better stop thinking things, young man.” Henshall-Jones hissed. "Thinking is dangerous in this business."
“I’m not scared of you,” Fardy-Russell said. He wanted to punch the smirk of the bastard's face.

For part three click here

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

First Record - A Steve Rant

For audio click here
“Hey, have you seen that what was number one on your birthday meme doing the rounds on Facebook?” Johnny asked.
“Oh god, I hate that crap,” Steve replied and took a swig of beer.
“Which means you’ve tried it and yours was lame?” Johnny knew he was poking a bear with a stick, but he didn’t care.
“No, it means it’s a complete and utter waste of time, and yes I’ve tried it and mine was lame.”
“I knew it! What was it?” Johnny said.
“I honestly can’t remember,” Steve said.
 “Liar! Mine is cool, it was Hendrix, Voodoo Child.” Johnny looked pleased as punch.
“But it doesn’t define you, does it? Just because a cool song was number one on the day you were born doesn’t make you cool. No offence like.”
“Well it helps,” Johnny said. “What was yours?”
 “I’ll tell you another thing that annoys me,” Steve said ignoring the question, “it’s that,  what was the first record you ever bought conversation.”
“Why? Were you lame with that too?”
“I was eight years old! Of course it was lame.” Steve said. “And anyway anyone who claims theirs wasn’t, is either lying or lucky.”
“What was it?” Johnny was almost bouncing in his seat.
“How was I supposed to know that that was a seminal moment? It didn’t feel like a seminal moment; it felt like an eight-year-old spending his pocket money. I didn’t know that thirty-five years later I would be judged on my juvenile music taste. No one asks you what was the first sweet you ever bought or your first comic, do they?”
“What was yours?” Johnny asked.
“There was eight-year-old me, going down to Christopher’s Record Store on the High Street clutching my pound, looking through the top forty deciding what to buy. I was completely unaware that the decision would either set me on the path to being cool or put a life-time of ridicule ahead of me.”  Steve took a swig. “No one told me to get a Bowie single or the latest Bob Marley track just so that in the future music snobs wouldn’t sneer at me.”
“What was it?” Johnny pleaded.
“Well, I could have gone for Ian Dury, Blondie, Sham 69, Elvis Costello Pump it up, Blue Oyster Cult Don’t Fear the Reaper, they were in the charts that week and Patti Smith Because the Night, but oh no I ignored all of them.”
Steve looked genuinely distraught, Johnny almost felt sorry for him, almost.
“So come on, what was it?”
“I’m not telling you?” Steve said,  and got up to go to the bar.
Johnny got his phone out and tapped on the screen. A smile spread across his face; Steve had given too much away.
As Steve approached with the two full pints, Johnny began to sing.

“Fuck off,” said Steve, “I was eight years old.”

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Cubicle

For audio click here
I think this works as a stand alone story but it also slips into the The Barber Shop Quartet after part 1. See that story here.
The door creaked as it closed and footsteps echoed down the corridor, slow and steady. Then the only sound was the drip of water into one of the cisterns; plop, plop, plop. 
Henshall-Jones had told the others he needed thirty minutes to deal with Clifton, thirty-five tops. They all knew he was guilty, but there were procedures to go through. Faced with Henshall-Jones suspects usually confessed but then, he had to decide if they would be better off alive or dead. They’d stay alive if he thought they could be deployed as double agents, but if they were too flaky or too bolshie, then the only answer would be a bullet to the forehead. 
But with Clifton it was different. There was something about Clifton that told Henshall-Jones it would be better to have him on the run. 
He looked at his watch; he had plenty of time. He had to be back in Belanger’s office in forty minutes; any longer and they’d come looking for him, any sooner, it would look suspicious. He went over to the urinal and relieved himself and then washed his hands. He then went into the cubicle and locked the door. He knew what he had to do, but he didn’t like it. He put the seat down and sat down. Water dripped into the cistern behind him. 
Would they believe his story? Would they believe that Clifton, a seven stone weakling, had overpowered Henshall-Jones the great spy-catcher? They had to believe it, and hopefully, his was the only version of events they would ever hear. But he had to make it believable, and that was the part he wasn’t looking forward to. 
He stood up and unlocked the door, then knelt in front of the toilet bowl. He gripped it hard and then tried to head-butt the ceramic ridge. The first time he failed; it’s hard trying to hurt yourself. The second time he hit his head but not hard enough. The third time he did it; he threw his face at the toilet and knocked himself out. 
“H-J, H-J!” Someone slapped his face and tried to sit him up. “H-J, what happened? Where’s Clifton?” 
Henshall-Jones slowly came round blinking in the light. Fardy-Russell was just about to slap him again. 
“Where? What?” Henshall-Jones said. 
“Where’s Clifton?” Fardy-Russell barked again. 
“Let’s get him to my office, give him a brandy and we’ll find out what’s going on,” Belanger said. “Grab his arms.” 
Henshall-Jones felt himself being lifted up and carted out of the toilets. His head ached but he was glad Belanger had suggested brandy; that would sort him out. 
They slumped him into a seat and he heard the glug of liquid passing into a glass. The glass was placed in his hand, and he took a swig. 
“So what happened?” Fardy-Russell barked. Henshall-Jones looked at him. He was a Harrow boy, not to be trusted. 
“He swung at me, then smashed my head into the toilet, I passed out,” Henshall-Jones said. “Where’s my gun? Where’s my gun?” he added patting his pockets. 
“Go to see if the gun is in the toilet,” Belanger said. 
Fardy-Russell went out of the door, glancing back at Henshall-Jones as he did so. 
“Everything’s okay, old chap.” Belanger patted Henshall-Jones on the shoulder. H-J took another sip of brandy. What did that mean? Did Belanger believe him or did that mean he knew more. 
“No gun,” Fardy-Russell was back. 
“Okay,” Belanger said. “Put out an all-points bulletin and gets some cops over to his house, let them know he’s armed. Let’s catch him ASAP.”
Henshall-Jones stole a glance at his watch. He’d promised Clifton an hour; he’d delivered fifty minutes. Belanger turned to H-J “let’s get the doc to check out that head then we’ll have a full debrief.” Henshall-Jones stood up and headed towards the door. “Oh,  and tell the doc you slipped and fell eh?”
H-J nodded and left the office.
In the corridor, Fardy-Russell was waiting. “I don’t believe a word of it H-J; something smells rum. No one overpowers you, especially not a fool like Clifton.” They stood nose to nose. They looked like a mirror image of each other, neither man blinked. 
Then Henshall-Jones smiled. 
“It doesn’t matter what you believe; I can have you eliminated in seconds,” he said, and headed for the sick bay. 
"Is that a threat?" Fardy-Russell yelled after him. 
"No, it's a promise," Henshall-Jones replied. 
For  part 2 click here 
For part 3 click here

Monday, 28 December 2015


For audio click here

It was only 4 pm but already black Friday was looking very dark indeed. The pubs were full of party-goers wearing Santa hats, cracker crowns, and garish Christmas jumpers that played jingle bells if you were unlucky.  Kale held his pint and tried to relax. He wasn’t one for parties, or crowds, or forced happiness. He’d rather be at home with his book, YouTube and possibly YouPorn later, if he felt the need. But that was just a pipe dream  He was here to stay, he had to have fun. He’d managed to escape the works’ team building by claiming he was ill and the summer booze-up by claiming he had hayfever  But there was no way of opting out of the Christmas bash, it was compulsory.
“C’mon Kale mun, put on a smile, it’s Christmas,” Clark the jester-in-chief cagouled him. Kale did his best, but he caught sight of the smile in one of the many mirrors in the bar. He  knew that no one else would fall for it. It wasn’t a smile it was a grimace, but it was the best he could do.
Clark was doing the rounds with the mistletoe. It looked more like sexual assault than Christmas fun, but most of his targets seemed to be happy to have a quick snog and a grope. Clarissa got hold of the mistletoe and was coming straight for him. He tried to turn to nip to the loo, but it was too late. She enveloped him in her ample frame and gave him a wet kiss on his lips before collapsing in laughter along with all the women from her department.
“Oh he’s a good kisser girls,” she yelled, “give him a go.”
Kale wished himself invisible. He glared at them, a look that said don't even think about it. and took a mouthful of gassy lager; they didn't do Guinness in here. He was gripping his pint glass so hard it was a surprise it didn't smash. Mariah told him all she wanted for Christmas was him, then George told him that this year he'd give it to someone special. 
Sal, Clarissa, Laura, Andrea, were all gossiping now. Kale  knew what they’d be saying. They’d call him a killjoy, a misery guts, but he wasn’t trying to ruin their fun. He was happy for them to do what they want, but it just wasn’t his thing. He tried the smile he’d practised in his bedroom a thousand times in the last week, but he knew it wasn’t natural.
“I wish I was at home,” Kale looked around to see Sal looking at him.
“You?” Kale said, “I thought this was right up your street.”
“God no, I hate all this. I mean who thinks it’s a good idea to put mirrors in bars? Bars should not have mirrors.”
“I was just thinking that,” Kale said, smiling what felt like was a real smile.
“And if Clark comes near me with that bloody mistletoe, I’ll knee him in the balls. Have you recovered from the freak of nature that is Clarissa?”
“Just about, Kale said, wiping imaginary saliva from his lips. “I thought you liked this kind of do.”  He looked at her, he’d always seen a formidable woman in work, a party animal, a ball-breaker, but in this light, there was just a trace of vulnerability in those pretty eyes.
“I’m a good actor,” she said, “unlike you.”
“That obvious,” Kale laughed. Kale laughed!
Sal looked at him, Kale liked that look. Sal picked up the mistletoe Clark had discarded.
“Would you do me the honour?” She said.
Kale genuflected grandly. “I’d be glad to,” he said and gave the last woman he ever kissed her first kiss.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Christmas Verse

Happy Christmas. No story today but a couple of poems. Enjoy. Well worth listening to the audio for the accent and the singing.

For audio click here

Sticky Tape
The shop is out of sticky tape
I don’t know what to do,
it’s  coming up to Christmas Day
and you can’t wrap presents with glue.

I’ve yards and yards of paper
tags and ribbons too
but the shop is out of sticky tape
and you can’t wrap presents with glue.

I can’t use stickers or blue tack
staples just won’t do
it’s  coming up to Christmas Day
and you can’t wrap presents with glue.

Your fingers get all sticky
The paper gets soggy too
the wrapping sticks to the presents. 
No, you can’t wrap  presents with glue.

This one comes from the fact I am an Uncle as well as a writer and the boys are all under ten. 

Tis the season 
Tis the season to  be smelly fa la la la la la la la la
Lots of food gone in my belly fa la la la la la la la la
I ate turkey, I ate sprouts fa la la fa la la la la la
Now's the time to let it out fa la la la la la la la la

Happy Christmas :-) and if you fancy buying yourself a Christmas present, how about one or both of my books available on Amazon and Smashwords. 

The Doppelgängers

This is an old story that Blogger has promoted to the top. Apologies.

For audio click here
This is the follow up from a previous story, click here for that.

Adam was lollygagging around the mall waiting for Gina to finish shopping. She was deciding between two dresses and Adam had left her to it; there was only so much indecisiveness he could take. He loved Gina dearly, but if he could change one thing about her, it would be her inability to buy a new dress without having a near nervous breakdown.
He smiled at the thought of her in her underwear in the changing rooms, holding up the two dresses, biting her bottom lip. Nah come to think of it, he wouldn’t change her for the world.
‘Back in Europe again?’ Adam was shaken from his thought by a voice and a figure standing in front of him. He looked at the stranger blankly.
‘I think you’ve got the wrong bloke, mate. I’m always in Europe.’
‘I thought you were based in Orlando?’ the stranger said.
‘Orlando? What are you talking about?’
‘Um, head office? Hard Rock Café?’
Adam suddenly remembered who this person was. It was Orry’s boss? Adam decided to brazen it out.
‘No idea what you’re talking about mate, think you must have me mixed up with someone else.’
The stranger looked confused. ‘Wow you look just like someone who works in my head office.’
‘Really?’ Adam said with a look that said I really don’t care. Freddie was looking confused but Adam got the impression he was buying the story.
Adam looked around and saw Gina coming towards him, a big bag in her hand that suggest that she’d bought both the dresses. Adam could immediately see the problem. Freddie might be daft enough to buy one doppelganger but not two. What were the odds of two people hanging round together in Orlando being the spitting images of two people who hung around together here? Adam was madly trying to tell Gina to fuck off with his eyes, but she was having none of it.
‘Hi, bought them both.’ Then she looked at the stranger, ‘Hi’ she said in a voice that said I don’t know you, but I’ve seen you somewhere and you are talking to Adam so, you must be one of his friends so I’ll be friendly.
Freddie looked at Gina, then looked back to Adam. Adam could see his brain working. Then Freddie turned on his heel and left without saying another word.

‘Orry!’ Freddie yelled as soon as he arrived back to work. ‘A word!’