Friday Flash Fiction – Moving On

fullsizeoutput_327

Dave got the idea from the television news. If tents and living pods could be dispatched to disaster areas why couldn’t homeless people in his town be helped. Dave wasn’t actually interested in humanitarian projects abroad or at home until the tent arrived in his shop doorway. Owning a shop was part of his plan to help rejuvenate the high street in Lower Sandbourne. The once thriving parade of shops and smart flats had gone downhill over the years, mainly due to the property activities of Dave and his brother, now he hoped to reinvent himself with ethically sourced gifts and fine food. There was nothing ethical about the origins of most of his goods, but smart labels impressed the chattering classes who could no longer afford to live in Upper Sandbourne. The Sandbourne Traders Association was pleased with the rebirth of a shop that had been an empty bakers and a blot on the high street for several years.

DSCN8401

And then the tent had appeared. The doorway that presented excellent window display space was also a perfect size for a one man tent.

Dave had dispatched the first resident and his bedding to another town, but with the new CCTV and his new image this was no longer an option. The bleeding heart owner of the pet shop next door was certainly no help. She gave free dog food for the tented one’s sad eyed mongrel. Dave couldn’t complain as it was the dog that kept customers coming. Instead of being put off by having to step round a tent and over a pair of feet sticking out, the locals eased their conscience at not offering him their spare rooms by lavishing their attention on the dog and buying him unwanted cups of coffee.

DSCN7250

The pod idea was enthusiastically supported by the locals. Dave’s gang of unqualified builders were used to makeover services to cover up structural defects in Dave’s property empire, so giving shipping containers a makeover was no problem. The council were happy to be seen doing something. By allowing the cabins to be sited on the car park they had just closed down for development, the residents could not complain about the loss of their convenience to such a good cause. The local family run garden centre was persuaded to provide plants and planters and the whole site looked quite pretty as spring blossomed. Sandbourne Hardware donated tins of Hammerite and most of the residents took a pride in painting  their cabins to look individual.

33163208_2095485027147943_4325188043104321536_o

Carried away by the great publicity stunt the garden centre built raised beds for the local school to grow vegetables and as the settlement grew, most of the occupiers appeared to be happy, including those who had been made homeless by Dave in the first place. He did wonder how the metal containers would fare in a heatwave, or next winter, but by then the council would have evicted everyone to build the lucrative block of unaffordable apartments; a scheme certain to be tendered out to one of his subsidiary companies. Dave knew he would get the contract, he knew too much about certain councillors for them to turn him down.

P1090455

In the meantime the shop doorway was tidy and the shop thriving. But trouble was afoot. Dave, the council and the growing jolly band of volunteers had assumed all the homeless would be grateful and no plans had been put in place to address the ‘complex issues’ of some residents.

Jack from the Sandbourne Gazette, who had been watching Dave for years, ever since he re-emerged from his short spell in gaol, had been biding his time. He had even less respect for the council and planned to snare them both. Syringes and other drug paraphernalia were found tossed amongst the round lettuces and spring onions and children started telling their parents about the scary man and the nasty woman at their garden. A row erupted over who was actually overseeing the project. Jack ensured that newcomers to the area would discover Dave’s past and his future plans.

But Jack reckoned without the initiative of the majority of residents who did not want to lose their new homes. They enlisted the help of the national media and Jack’s moment of journalistic fame was lost. The council hastily sent in their new street team, its numbers boosted with a few of Dave’s friends. Under cover of darkness and with a little subtle bribery, they removed the undesirables to a new assisted living project under a council far away. They were replaced by more acceptable homeless. Gardening resumed and volunteers set up ‘everybody together’ coffee mornings and suppers.

The project received national acclaim and most forgot once again about Dave’s past. Though his shop was doing well it hardly afforded the income he was used to, he would have to bide his time before getting another building project underway.

 

Read more short stories – dip into this selection

for only 99pence.

 

 

Everyone welcome here. Tidalscribe will be remaining in the European Union.

p1090505

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Flash Fiction Friday – 963 – Stolen Identity

sunshine blogger award

Amelia DeVere was dreading her birthday; Brian and the girls were coming round with her present, a lap top. They had given her several other choices; a clever phone, an eye mask, a lozenge or was it a capsule? She had plumped for the lap top, at least she wouldn’t be expected to put it in her handbag and use it. She was quite happy with her mobile phone that didn’t take pictures, buttons 1, 2 and 3 were programmed for the local mini cab firm, Jenny next door and Brian.

But Amelia had not realised the full implications of her choice until it was too late.

You’ll be able to Facetime Aunty Phoebe in Canada and see pictures of the new baby on Facebook.

IMG_0947 054

‘I just want to do e-mails’ said Amelia, on the offensive as she answered the door on her birthday morning.

‘Of course, we need to do that first. But just think Gran, you would have been the first to know Constanza was expecting, instead of the last.’

Just as Brian’s marriage was breaking up, her younger son Roger had got his act together and met someone. It didn’t appear they were going to get married, but now she was pregnant they had reluctantly left the Orangutan sanctuary and returned to Constanza’s hometown, Melbourne.

She was soon sending Roger an e-mail, AmDev@gmail.com

‘Can we have lunch now?’ she pleaded.

‘In a mo Gran, let’s just look at Facebook and make sure there are no other Amelia DeVeres… oh look, there are…

Are you this Amelia DeVere?

They all laughed at the young woman with spiky rose pink and sky blue hair, but then Amelia felt rather miffed at seeing a member of the family she didn’t know.

‘That’s probably not her real name Mum,’ said Brian ‘look, she’s an author, got her own author page.’

‘Can we look at it?’

‘No, you have to be her friend.’

‘I don’t need to be her friend if I’m a relative.’

The screen was flashing, artificial fingernails were skimming across the keyboard.

‘Here’s her Amazon page,’ said her granddaughter ‘…author of fruity romances Strawberries in Surmmer, Peaches for Pandora, hundreds of reviews… The book every twentysomething must take on holiday, published in paperback and on Amazon Kindle.’

‘Let’s read a preview’ urged her sister.

Amelia had to admit she was quite impressed that they could turn the pages of a pretend book. ‘Let me read, I’m getting used to this lap top… Pandora ran her slender manicured fingers through the dark hairs on Mickael’s chest, then across his firm tanned stomach, bringing to life his…’ she peered closer with her bi-focals at the small print ‘bringing to life his what?’

‘I don’t think that’s your sort of book Mother’ said Brian, hastily moving his large hands across the keyboard.

Images flashed across the screen, more frantic tapping by the girls.

‘Look Gran, Uncle Roger’s accepted you as a friend, they must still be up, probably midnight there.’

Suddenly the bemused grandmother was confronted with a black and white picture of an alien, but her granddaughters screamed with delight.

‘It’s a boy, you’re going to have your first grandson.’

‘They can’t have had the baby already.’

‘No, they’ve just had the scan to tell the sex; four hours ago 23 comments and 40 likes already, you can make a comment.’

‘That’s revolting, looks like one of their Orangutans.’

‘We all looked like that once, in the womb, I can’t believe how ultrasound has improved since we had the girls,’ said her son ‘but I don’t think I would put it on Facebook.’

The girls giggled ‘We can’t put what Gran said, how about Wonderful news, do u want to Facetime tomorrow?’

45478366_195498788017434_550770955178213376_n

Over lunch the girls discussed Constanza and why there were no pictures of her on Facebook and would Dad pay for them to visit their new cousin, but Amelia returned to the subject of the other Amelia.

‘Of course I would know if she was a real DeVere, can I complain if she’s an impostor?’

‘Let’s Google and see what else we can find out.’

‘Yes, never mind the dishes, let’s get back on the lap top’ she said.

She was surprised to see her own DeVeres mentioned, but it was Amelia the novelist who had page after page of blue writing devoted to her, image after image came up as they visited websites. The young woman was everywhere, The Word Hut, Writers’ Room, Romantic Novelists Association, Twitter, she even had her own Blog.

‘Why does she think we want to know how the romantic holiday with her gorgeous man went?’ puzzled Amelia.

34782430_2117736284922817_7996139386049658880_n

But after the family had left she felt compelled to switch the lap top on and practice her new skills. She couldn’t resist Googling Amelia. The writer was planning to attend literary festivals and book signings, perhaps it would be possible to see her in the flesh…

DSCN2720

A few days later the grandmother’s notebook was full, she was pretty certain she had looked up every internet mention of Amelia and written it down, she had also read the openings of all her books. She wasn’t even very good at writing, the older woman wondered how she had become so famous.

53215287_361949637984393_2798061194936582144_n

A week later the door bell rang; Amelia DeVere was very surprised when a plain clothes policeman introduced himself. He was equally surprised to find she lived alone.

‘D.I. Benson, C.C.U. Cyber Crime Unit. We’re investigating the stalking of a young woman, she has been trolled on Twitter, someone’s hacked into her e-mails, various other online abuses… I can’t go into details. We noticed that the most on line activity connected to her internet presence was coming from this locality, we may need to take your computer away to be examined.’

 

Read more short stories in my four collections;

from 99 pence.

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – 345 – Little Weed

LITTLE WEED, THE LONG YEARS OF ABUSE

The old gardener’s hands trembled as he picked up the newspaper from the door mat. He slipped out to his potting shed as he heard Mrs. Gardener coming down the stairs.

He laid the paper on the old bench, sunlight barely filtered through the cobwebbed windows, but it was enough to read the main article.

Detectives from Operation Motherwatch are investigating claims that Little Weed was abused for years by one or more flowerpot men. The identity of the flowerpot men is not known, but they have been named locally as Bill and Ben.

The shock allegations follow on from last week’s claims that Looby Loo was abused by both Andy Pandy and Teddy. If Little Weed’s claims are true it will be the first time a plant has made such a serious allegation.

20.jpg

The gardener had never believed people who said they did not know what was going on, now he had to come to terms with the fact that he knew nothing about what was going on at the bottom of his own garden. But surely Bill and Ben were innocent, perhaps it was some other flowerpot men… Little Weed could be vindictive, she was not the shrinking violet people thought. If only he knew where she was now. It was all Alan Titchmarsh’s fault. The Gardener had come back from recording Gardeners’ Question Time to discover his wife had arranged a makeover; only the potting shed remained. Gone were the greenhouse, vegetable beds, earthenware pots; all replaced by decking. And gone too was Little Weed. Mrs. Gardener was always jealous of the plant, said he talked to her more than his own wife… perhaps that was true… she was no ordinary weed, the first weed to appear on BBC Television and there had been none like her since… She was tough, a survivor, he was thankful she was still alive, but why now, why such allegations now, after all this time? And if it was true, was it Bill or was it Ben?

21

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction 400 – The Yellow Door

‘So Mrs Green, take this prescription with you and leave by the second door on the left.’

Mrs. Green trudged wearily along the dreary corridor of the surgery then hesitated at the yellow door. She had never noticed it before, there was no number or name. Warily she pushed it open and was blinded by a bright light, sunlight. Shielding her eyes, she realised she was in a beautiful walled garden. The old lady had often wondered what lay at the back of the doctors’ surgery.

A child’s laughter floated towards her and a little figure appeared running along the gravel path. The child stopped then ran back to a young woman sitting on a garden seat, head back, eyes closed. The older woman approached, but seeing the blissful expression on the mother’s face she perched herself on the other end of the bench, not wishing to disturb her. The child shot off again and Mrs. Green looked around for a father or granny, concerned he might run away, but the garden was safely enclosed. She noticed other seats, other people sitting or strolling and up in an old apple tree several children were perched.

The old lady unfolded the prescription.

NHS Therapy 3,000 hours of sunshine,  to be taken daily. If you miss a dose take double the next day.

There must have been a mistake, now she would have to go back and ask about her tablets, but in the meantime she needed a rest. The scent of the flowers brought back childhood memories. A stroll along the path to admire the herbaceous borders would be very pleasant, but first she would close her eyes and feel the sun on her face. The happy chatter of the children was soothing and she was so glad she had come to the doctors’ this morning, although she could not recall which of her conditions she had come to see him about.

DSCN4704

 

Doctor Brown gazed out of the upstairs window of the staff room and turned to his colleague.

‘Who would have guessed it would work so well, of course this weather helps, but rain hasn’t put off the diabetes type 2 group. They were glad of it after all the planting they’d done.’

‘Yes, the pharmacist says she’s issuing half the prescriptions, especially for anti-depressants and blood pressure medication.’

‘…and the attention deficit disorder group are doing much better at school.’

171.jpg

 

Friday Flash Fiction 725 – The Skies Above

I never tired of watching the skies above. Living close to the airport the sky was never empty. At night I counted the lights, four in a row coming into land, no room for error. On winter mornings as I got up early for work I was never sure which were stars and which the passenger planes circling, waiting for their turn to land.

But this morning something was different, a shape dropping gently, slowly; higher than the other aircraft, lights unfamiliar, not a helicopter. As the night sky turned to indigo the shape became a luminous jellyfish floating in the deep blue of the ocean, the world turned upside down and inside out. I was transfixed, not afraid, not afraid at that moment.

29249591_2016001618429618_8742673610549755904_n

As the sky lightened I discerned a darker shape beneath the rainbow coloured dome; still so high in the sky it was hard to tell if it was ascending or descending. But even as I blinked I saw it becoming larger. I rushed through the house to the back garden to get a better view, all thoughts of getting to the bus stop in time for work forgotten. The feeble early morning light disappeared as a giant canopy blocked the whole sky. I hardly dared allow my eyes to follow the heavy cables that hung below what I now realised was a giant parachute. The cables twisted and jerked as they were manoeuvred by the dark shape attached to them. The shape took form as it slowly descended, legs and arms flailing. The garden security light came on to reveal a human shape; I hoped it was a macabre joke, a giant inflatable doll, strung to a parachute that was about to cover the whole of my large back garden.

Saucer eyes stared at me, a gaping mouth uttered a sound that caused the ground to tremble beneath me and a hot wind, tobacco scented, blew me backwards. Before I could attempt to recover and retreat indoors there was an almighty splintering of glass as my greenhouse was crushed out of sight by a giant boot. And even as a tiny part of my brain urged me to get indoors and save my family I felt a rush of wind on my cheek and the other boot flattened my house as if it was cardboard.

I fought to escape as the canopy that had looked like gossamer high up in the sky now crashed around me with its deadly weight. As the breath was about to be squeezed out of me, my paralysed brain seemed to revive and make time stand still. I observed the hand that raised up the canopy, each digit the size of a tree trunk, a hand that could rescue or crush me. Hysterical laughter shook my body for a moment as I pictured myself telling the boss ‘Sorry I’m late, but a giant landed in my garden.’

102.jpg

What was he, a giant of legend? Or perhaps an alien; we imagine them as either strange monsters or green coloured humans, but why not a distant planet populated by homo sapiens who just happen to be ten times our size? For a bloke who wasn’t a great thinker I was doing a lot of thinking, there was a strange silence that was comforting. The hand was not touching me, joined by the other hand it lifted the crumpled structure clear so I was staring into the face, but it was too vast for me to discern its expression.

It had been the titanic parachute shielding me from the noise; now the air was filled with the shrieking of sirens and the shrieking of my neighbours. How many seconds had passed since the boots destroyed my home and woke all the neighbours? The control tower must have been tracking him before I even left my front door. What would the emergency services do, call in the army? I almost felt protective of my giant, I hoped they wouldn’t harm him. As another hot wind blew me backwards and the ground vibrated I realised the deafening rumble was the word sorry. I knew then that he must have intended to land on the runway and as his hand stretched out to pick me up I hoped he didn’t mess up the next part of his plan.

Friday Flash Fiction – Reach for The Stars

 ‘Why have you waited till bedtime to announce you have to present a project on infinity tomorrow? When did the teacher tell you about it?’

‘I can’t remember, it might have been at the beginning of time, or was it Tuesday, but does time have a beginning?’

Sometimes Helen wondered if her son had been here before, he didn’t seem to be like other eight year olds, but then she hadn’t had an eight year old before, or a younger brother, though she did recall being eight and thinking all the boys in her class were stupid.

Sebastian was in the enrichment group at school and the teacher had taken the project to heart; perhaps he was running out of ideas to challenge the half dozen children, who were not allowed to be called clever or cleverer, but had extra interests. Helen’s scientific knowledge was confined to listening to programmes on Radio Four such as the Infinite Monkey Cage, but she had gathered enough to know that even scientists freaked out at the thought of infinity. They could cope with the thought of the edge of the observable universe being forty six and a half billion light years away, but not with the uncertainty of infinity. Sebastian’s Dad was night shift at the soap factory, so it was no use waiting till he got home to help them.

Instead of a bedtime story she tucked Seb in and they Googled infinity on her smart phone.

Featured Image -- 2171

 

Mr. Struthers was hoping for great things from his group, especially Sebastian, as he was hoping to get material for his blog Help, my Child’s a Genius.

Sebastian stood in front of the class.

‘The good thing about infinity is you can write endlessly about it and you can’t get it wrong as nobody understands it, including my teacher. But I do understand the universe as my mum helped me last night. Professor Stephen Hawking said the universe is growing, therefore at one time it must have been smaller and long ago so small it was nothing, one minute it was nothing and the next minute there was a big bang. But theory two, I’m not sure if this was mine or Mummy’s idea, if the universe is infinite it will go on forever so it must have always been here forever.

But how big is infinity? The edge of the universe we can see with a big telescope is 46.5 billion light years away, but we can’t see if there is an edge to it or what is outside it and that makes us go all shivery. But the third theory which I think my mum got off the radio is supposing the universe curved round on itself, then it wouldn’t have an edge and maybe it wouldn’t be infinite.

And that would probably mean time goes in a circle and if we crossed the circle with a diameter, or crossed a small part with a chord we would be in a different time, so that means time travel could be possible. I think grown ups do time travel because they are always saying things like I don’t know where the time has gone. The other possibility is that time is an illusion and that’s how magicians do magic.

The other thing I discovered, though Mr. Strutthers didn’t ask us to do this, there’s lots of space between atoms and inside atoms; if you took all the empty space in the atoms that make up a human being, I would be a lot smaller than a grain of salt. If you removed all the empty space from the atoms that make up all the humans on the planet, we could all fit inside an apple. If we remove the spaces between and inside all the atoms in the solar system it could fit it inside a thimble, though I’m not sure what a thimble is. But it means the rest of the universe is not that big after all, it just has lots of space in it.’

‘Well done Sebastian’ said Mr. Strutthers ‘and you said it all off by heart. Have you written it down to hand in?’

‘Not on paper, but it is written on the blog Mummy and I just started.’

 

Flash Fiction Friday – One Thousand

The Last Job

It was Oliver Twister’s last job. His family, those who were still speaking to him, thought he was going straight. Well robbing a betting shop was not theft, the punters had already given their money away.  His family and the probation officer thought he was clean and he was more or less, given that he could no longer afford to pay the drug dealers. Money was short; hence his latest plan. Nobody would stop him, who would risk their life to save the bookie’s money? Not that they would be risking their lives, but if they believed they were about to be shot or gassed they would flee the shop.

37731933_2198003693562742_2018051222237347840_n

It was Bill’s last visit to the betting shop, that’s what he had vowed to himself. He was supposed to ring his ‘Gamblers’ Anonymous Buddy’ if he got the urge. But this was not gambling, it was a certainty; he had followed the horse since she was a filly and everything was in her favour for the ‘three fifteen’ at Ascot. The jockey had notched up several wins with her, the wet weather made for the soft track that she loved and Ascot was her ‘lucky’ course. When Bill read in Racing Times that the favourite was out of the race with a tendon injury, he knew he must place one more bet.

17

It was Samuel’s first visit to ‘The Bookies’. He had won ten pounds when he bought himself a lottery ticket for his eighteenth birthday, that in itself had been an act of rebellion against his Exclusive Brethren parents. A bloke at work assured him this was a good omen and gave him an excellent tip for the ‘three fifteen’ at Ascot; there was no reason why his parents or the elders of the church should find out. The only problem that he could foresee was that he had not a clue how to place a bet. When he walked into the shop trying to look casual, the first person he saw behind the counter was Lara, the beautiful girl he had worshipped from afar when she was in upper sixth and he was in fifth year.

‘Is it young Sam? I bet you don’t recognise me,’ she trilled ‘don’t tell the elders you’ve seen me working here, my aunty goes to your church. I need a part time job, my student loan isn’t enough.’ She helped him place the bet. ‘Just in time, you can watch it live on the telly in five minutes.’

There was only one other customer in, who looked like a regular, but their cosy chat was suddenly interrupted.

The door burst open and a gun entered, followed by an outstretched arm belonging to a large man wearing a contraption on his face that looked like a gas mask. They could not hear properly what he said, but they got the general idea when he waved his gun at Lara and Samuel. As Lara screamed, another primeval cry came from Bill the regular punter. He launched himself at the masked man, catching him off balance, but it was not enough. For a split second Samuel was paralysed with fear, but he focused on the dangerously waving arm and pistol.

Somehow the robber was face down on the floor. The older punter was sitting on him and Samuel had the arm pinned to the floor.

‘Don’t touch the gun,’ said Bill ‘it might go off.’

Samuel knelt on the robber’s wrist to make sure the weapon stayed at floor level, pointing away from them. A muffled cry came from the robber.

‘Shall I press the alarm’ said Lara, rather belatedly.

‘Not yet love, the race starts in two minutes.’ Bill pressed down heavily on the robber’s shoulders. ‘Nobody robs our bookies, no one threatens our Lara.’ He felt like a cowboy.

A faint gurgle was the only reply.

It seemed a long wait till the race started, but in seconds it was over. Bill cheered, while a confused Samuel asked which horse had won. Lara pressed the button.

auto automobile blur buildings

The police were quick to arrive and Lara was thrilled to be surrounded by hunky officers, who seemed more interested in her welfare than the prisoner.

‘I pressed the alarm button straight away’ she said.

‘Well done.’ They turned to the men on the floor. ‘Okay chaps, don’t move till we’ve got the handcuffs on.’

The prisoner did not try to resist; when Bill and Samuel struggled to their feet the prisoner did not move at all. The officers turned him over and with difficulty removed the fake gas mask.

‘Bloody hell.’

Suddenly all hell did break loose, one officer was urgently calling on his radio for an ambulance, while the others whipped bits and pieces out of their first aid pouches. Something was put on the robber’s blue face and a policeman started blowing, while another pressed on his chest.

Just as Lara kissed Sam’s cheek to thank him for saving her life, he looked down at the body and realised the full implications. He fainted.

Bill raised his feet while Lara patted his cheek.

The paramedics shook their heads, but soon had the man on a stretcher with an oxygen mask where the gas mask had recently been.

As the sirens receded into the distance the remaining officers chatted for a few moments in a surprisingly light hearted manner. Bill thought he heard one say ‘Oliver Twister’s finally got his come-uppance then, he won’t be missed.’

They put on more serious expressions as they turned to the two men.

‘We have to arrest you for murder of course, but it seems like a clear cut case of self defence, the CCTV will prove you saved the young lady’s life. You don’t need to worry about being charged with murder.’

‘CCTV,’ groaned Bill ‘I’m not worried about the murder charge… my wife will kill me when she finds out where I’ve been.’

‘We won’t be on the news will we?’ said Samuel ‘How am I going to explain this to my parents and the elders?’

‘At least you both won some money’ said Lara sweetly.

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – Digital Dialogue – The Interpreter

Local man speaking in the tongue of his forefathers: It’s that time of year again, my annual trip out of town to see the land of my ancestors, earn a bit extra, but mainly have a laugh.

Interpreter: We have lived in this land for many generations, since time began, my grandfather was the village elder.

Local man: Who’s this idiot with the microphone – still, at least they haven’t brought Jeremy Clarkson.

Interpreter: We welcome you back to our village, now we have the well you built last year our women do not have to walk miles to collect water.

 Local man: Thank goodness I don’t live in this godforsaken village, if only they had a decent pub instead of that hole in the ground which dried up two months ago.

Interpreter: I had fourteen children, only three live, if we could build a clinic other wives would not die in childbirth like mine.

Local man: These ridiculous rags are so uncomfortable, I bet the villagers will be glad to get back into their denims.

Interpreter: It is too far for the children to walk to school.

Local man: The village children have all got the day off school again, hoping to get some freebies if they smile for the cameramen.

Interpreter: We send greetings to our dear friends in Great Britain.

Local man: Must remember to skype my cousin in Slough, remind him to watch Charity In Action, see what he thinks of my performance.

 

 

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – 390 – Customers

The shop was so quiet I wondered if I had made a mistake moving to a market town. I didn’t mind the minimum wage, there was nothing to spend money on around here, but it was the boredom I couldn’t take.

DSCN7250

Suddenly a loud voice bellowed from the aisle, but it was just a son taking his deaf elderly mother shopping. The only other customers were on the other side of the shop, a screaming toddler strapped in a buggy pushed by her great granny, or perhaps a great great granny. The little old lady was trying to reach the disposable nappies on the top shelf. I could not leave the till and the other staff were in the stock room coping with the delivery.

And then he walked in. Tall and broad shouldered with burnished copper curly hair. He stared at me with a supercilious expression then wandered down the centre aisle, his shoulder brushing against a stack of toilet rolls, sending them to the floor. He turned into the next aisle and the mother and son moved aside for him. No one spoke. As he walked, a tower of tins came crashing down. I pressed the help button, without much hope of help coming.

As he walked back towards me the look in his eyes had turned to anger. I could not move out of his way and I was sure he intended to stab me.

At last the silence was broken as a new customer came in.

‘There’s a bull in the shop!’

The eye level horns veered away from me and he trotted down the third aisle. His head swayed and the tip of his horn caught the disposable nappies, a large packet dropped into the grateful arms of the great granny. The toddler stopped crying and called out excitedly ‘Doggy’.

17

My finger was still pressed on the help button, but it seemed my colleagues had decided to stay locked in the store room.

Now through the door came a hunky young man with ruddy cheeks, chestnut wavy hair and a beard to match. He strode forward whistling, a hefty rope strung over his shoulder.

‘Come on Birtie, you’ve spent all your pocket money.’

Bertie did a three point turn, demolishing all the shelves. Then he lowered his head and charged towards his fleeing master.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – Go

When my agent called I was hoping it would be good news, or any news.

I’ve got you on a programme Brian.

‘Brilliant,’ I replied ‘is it the Review Show’?

No.

‘The Book Programme?’

No.

‘The Literary Quiz?’

No.

‘I don’t mind doing Brain of Britain.’

We tried that already.

‘Round Britain Quiz?’

No, they had a long waiting list remember… it’s a series about writers.

‘A Good Read? Who else is on it?’

It’s a new programme, not sure who’s been approached, Hilary said it wasn’t really her thing and Sebastian is too busy.

‘Radio or television?’

It would only work on television.

‘Will I get to talk to Kirsty Wark?’

I think we’re talking more Steve Redgrave, John Inverdale…

‘Okay, you’ve lost me now.’

The basic premise is that the author gets to act out the role of their leading character.

‘Oh that sounds fun, how about the scene where the poet seduces Lady Antonia?’

That is not quite what they had in mind.

‘Well I certainly don’t want to do his suicide scene, can’t stand the sight of blood for one thing ha ha.’

No, they were thinking of your thriller novels, not the literary ones.

‘Hmmm, the scene where Hammond Steele seduces Natalia Komenski?’

An action scene, they have half a dozen escapes or rescues they think would be ideal, several of them quite topical.

adventure blue mountains climb clouds
Photo by Terje Sollie on Pexels.com

In ‘Snow Diamonds’ Hammond Steele visits South Korea and a week later I too was in South Korea, dressed well against the biting wind, feet clad suitably for the snow, knowing I should never have agreed to this programme.

Other authors manage to sell thriller novels by the million without even leaving their computer. We were doing the scene where Hammond has to escape his pursuers; they must not get their hands on the precious package, even if it means forfeiting his own life.

At the very top my instructor was giving me last minute instructions, I braced my knees; I could hardly feel what my hands were gripping in the thick gloves I was wearing. He was telling me to watch the light, wait for the amber, wait for his command and the green light…

Why oh why had I made Hammond Steele escape the villains by pretending to be a participant in the 2018 Winter Olympics… Men’s ski jump, soar in the air and ski swiftly away down a valley into the woods. The light turned green, someone shouted GO.