Friday, 29 October 2010

Snake Man

“Quick get up wind, snake man’s coming!”

Ace pushed Josh behind a row of wheelie bins. A finger to the lips silenced Josh’s questions as snake man shuffled along the alley.

Geoffrey Mortimer - snake man, had earned his reptilian moniker for two reasons. One he kept snakes, two he looked remarkably like one. The skin on his face stretched to peeling point over a high boned brow and small flat nose.

A pale tongue tasted the air, darting from dry compressed lips, and his scant hair clung to a shiny liver spotted pate. He stood six three but weighed no more than 10 stone, adding weight (or lack of it) to the overall serpentine appearance.

A tin can found its target with a resounding thump. Geoffrey hissed and dabbed at his head with a filthy handkerchief. Blood. Those little bastards were at it again. His beady black eyes darted around the alley but found no one.

“Why don’t you clear off and leave an old man to go about his business in peace!?” he rasped.

Ace boldly stepped out.

“Because you’re not an old man you’re a snake, and you stink,” he picked up a brick. “It’s up to people like us to clean the streets of scum!”

Lucky for Geoffrey, this time the missile fell short. He hissed again and hurried away.

“I think you went a bit far,” Josh said “You made his head bleed; we were just supposed to scare him.”

“If you want to hang around with me shut up and behave OK?”
Josh nodded. He’d just moved there and he didn’t want to get on the wrong side of Ace. Besides, he didn’t like the threatening look in his eye.

“Follow me!” Ace yelled sprinting off.

Ten minutes later they hid in the bushes outside a dilapidated terraced house.
“What are we doing?” panted Josh
“Quiet! Just do as I say.”

Geoffrey appeared seconds later and started to unlock the door. As he turned the handle Ace sprang up pushing him inside. Josh followed.

“What do you want? I’ve no money,” Geoffrey whined.
“You have snake man, and we want it.”

Josh didn’t like the way things were going.

“Ok we scared him, let’s go.”
“Go? No way! This man’s a pet killer, feeds em to his snakes. My dog Shandy went missing the other day.”
“These snakes are too little to eat pets!” Geoffrey pointed to a few docile worms asleep in tanks.
“Give us yer money.”
“I don’t...”
Ace flicked open a knife and speared the nearest snake.

This was enough for Josh - he ran out.

“Ok, please stop! Go through that door and open the door under the rug.”
Ace grinned and went in. He kicked back the rug and wrenched open the trap door.

It took a few minutes for the screams to stop but at last calm was restored. Geoffrey smiled indulgently as the constrictor began to swallow its meat.

“Looks like you won’t be needing that Alsatian for a while eh Boris?”he chuckled.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Mr Blue Sky

Went to the opticians last week and had an eye test. You'd be pretty shocked if I said I had a filling now wouldn't you?

Anyway, apparently I have enlarged optic nerves. That's the important bit at the back of your eye ball that keeps your eyes glued to your brain. The optician said I needed to have photographs taken of the back of my eye to make sure there was no sign of glaucoma.

Well I tell you I nearly fell into one at the very mention of it! (a keep up). Thing was they couldn't do it 'til the following week. I shouldn't worry too much though she said as every other sign indicated normality - well obviously not complete normality as it is me we're talking about!

So anyway you can imagine all week I was worrying that the photos would show abnormality and I'd been on the Internet looking at all the horrid things associated with enlarged optic nerves. Tumours - all sorts! Too much information - scared myself witless.

This Friday morning I was driving to work - the photos were due to be done later that day. It was a particularly dark morning, cold, drizzly and miserable - I felt that winter had truly arrived. The cars all had their headlights on and every driver's face seemed to reflect my mask of woe.

Then on the radio came the old song Mr. Blue Sky by E.L.O. I loved it when it was in the charts when I was a teenager, but since those times have thought it sounded a bit cheesy.

For some reason listening to it again on that miserable morning it lifted my spirits. I half expected the dark clouds to part theatrically allowing the blue to shine through. And you know it is a very good bit of work. The orchestra and the 'bom bom bom' vocals toward the end are brilliant.

Maybe I didn't appreciate it as much when I was younger, maybe it had the advantage of nostalgia, maybe I'm crackers, but I thought... even if the photos bring bad news glaucoma or tumour, something worse I haven't had such a bad run.

I felt grateful for the life I had, and even if my sight failed I started to remember all the fantastic sights I had seen over the years.Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Pacific Ocean rollers, too many more to mention and of course the faces of my wonderful family and friends.

By the time I arrived at school (work) I felt sooo much better. Even the miserable drivers I passed on the way cheered up and began to sing along waving their arms in time to E.L.O.(no not really, that bit is a fib)

Well anyhow - the photos were duly taken that afternoon and thankfully they were OK! I have to keep my eye on them (pun was intended) and have the photos done every 3 years or so, but apart from that all is well.

So thanks E.L.O and I'll never think you were cheesy ever again, promise :)

Thursday, 21 October 2010


I once read that an ‘upwelling’ was an oceanographic term describing the movement of nutrients to the surface of the water.
This phenomenon brings shoals of fish in huge numbers to feast on the bounty.

I was witnessing the human equivalent.

Her tanned body slipped from the pool.

Rivulets silver in the moonlight trickled from golden hair to breasts and hips - a liquid accentuation of curves.

A feeding frenzy of would be suitors offered towels, champagne and adoration.

She declined. I had her sole attention, her hand and her marriage vows.

They snapped their jaws and hunted elsewhere.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Writer

“So you didn’t win again? Not even bloody shortlisted! Give it up for God’s sake!”

He logged off and headed downstairs, but her demanding rant followed - drilled into his brain.

“How much have you chucked away this month on these bloody stupid competitions? “

“Not that much, a fiver here a fiver there,” he switched the radio on to drown her out.

It didn’t work.

“Yes but it all adds up doesn’t it eh? Have you seen those bills piling up over there since you decided to go part-time so you could swan about pretending to be a writer? ’I must follow my dream’ you say, all shiny eyed. You’re hardly sodding Martin Luther King are you?
And all the time you chuck good money after bad, month after month on these scribbling you call stories. They must see you coming and laugh all the way to the bank!”

“OK, I’ll cut back a bit, perhaps just enter two next month,” he poured a good glug of red and dived into it.

“Oh and when have we heard that one before huh? You can’t help yourself. It’s like you’re addicted, telling yourself you have a good feeling about a ‘story’...yup, this is the one. You’re like a broken record. What’s the old song by Tony Bennett? How’s it go now? Oh yeah, ‘maybe this time I’ll be lucky , maybe this time I’ll win’...well you don’t stand a cat in hell’s chance, so quit it.”

He ran his fingers through his hair and poured another.

“And you can forget buying that stuff soon as well. Wallowing in booze and self-pity is too expensive. In fact, go to see the boss on Monday, ask him if you can have the extra hours back. It’s time you came to your senses before we end up living under the bloody viaduct in a cardboard box!”

“There’s still the novels...I’m waiting on a couple of agents.”

“Oh please! If you can’t make it with the scribblings what chance do you have with novels?”

“For God’s sake shut up!” he threw the glass against the wall and fled back upstairs.

“Oh that’s mature. Artistic temperament is it? More like a bloody kid’s tantrum if you ask...”

He slammed the door cutting off his nagging conscience in mid rant.
At last a bit of quiet.

He took a deep breath and started typing.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


Colossal she’d called him.

He could handle lard ass, chubster, even blubber boy, but colossal was going one step beyond.

That step took him from pleasant obedient Alfie - lap poodle, to resentful vicious Alfonso - Rottweiler.

In his head of course, it was always only in his head. The things he’d pictured doing to her when he was Alfonso couldn’t be voiced - he’d be carted off to the secure unit.

Part of him secretly longed for that though. The padded cell, the protection of the straight jacket – she couldn’t get to him there, wound him with her throw away lacerations.

From the plush carpet he picked discarded clothing and dirty underwear, relishing their silky feel on his skin before depositing them in the laundry.

“For God’s sake blubber boy; you’re such a disgusting excuse for a human being!” she shouted from the bathroom.

“What do you mean?” he asked, already realising she’d seen him lingering over her knickers through the mirror.

“You know what I mean. Mind you that’s as close as you’ll ever get to a woman intimately, you being the size of a row of houses an all.”

“I’m not that fat Cassandra!”

“Wanna bet? If you got on top of a girl she’d feel like she’d been crushed by avalanche! Now book me that taxi I’ve to be at the studio in an hour, and make sure my liposuction’s sorted for tomorrow.”

Liposuction ... she looked like a stick insect already.
Nevertheless she was his stick insect and he worshipped her. He’d been her personal slave for the last five years, tending to her every need and whim.

Alfie loved that she needed him. That would have to be enough. He put up with her cruelty just to be near her.

She breezed in “Move aside… God, you really are colossal these days!”

Colossal again. Alfonso strained at the leash, his lips peeled back revealing razor sharp teeth.

“Come on move it lard ass or I’ll have to think of replacing you …”

Replacing him? Never! The leash snapped releasing the Rottweiler.

Suddenly she was under him.

Her eyes popped in horror as his massive weight crushed the breath from her.
Fat fingers pinched her nose and covered her mouth, her pitiful kicks made no impression on his bulk.

She lay still.

Suddenly the Rottweiler morphed to poodle.




The silence was overwhelming, massive... colossal.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


I found out about Flash fiction only about a year ago. Well, when I say I found out about it, I kind of knew what it was as it popped up in competitions and such, but I'd previously dismissed the concept.

I couldn't see the point of squeezing a story into a word count of 500 words or below? Some Flash fiction can be of a 1000 words, but generally it tends to be fewer.

It seemed to me as if the whole thing was just about playing a literary game for the sake of it. Some pieces of flash I read seemed meaningless and flat, yet others I began to realise were very well executed.

What made these better pieces stand out was that every word counted. Each word had been carefully selected and considered to create maximum impact. The writer of Flash is denied the luxury to faff and frill around the edges of a story because of the word count.In order to engender the reader's empathy, invoke emotion, or induce a belly laugh, the words used must be tailor made for the task.

I had a few cracks at it, and I must say I really enjoyed the challenge. It became more than a literary game for it's own sake, and I found it really helped me focus on the message/meaning of the story. I tend to always have a message/meaning somewhere in my writing as I guess if it means nothing to me, why should it mean anything to anyone else?

Words have the power to sometimes change lives, the course of history, or just bring a smile to a sad face. We should harness that power in many different ways to enrich our lives.

At the moment I'm enjoying the Flash experience!