Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 7

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Hangovers can be held responsible for many forgotten things, for example; the location of your car, the whereabouts of your phone, and sometimes; the location of your eyebrows, and even, on very rare occasions; your own location. Charlie wondered this now. He didn’t recognize the ceiling. This isn’t normally something he would notice, and for the life of him he couldn’t remember what his own ceiling looked like, but this definitely wasn’t it. He decided to sit up to get a better idea of his surroundings. The messages from his brain to his body normally get around quite quickly. Not today. Today his brain was so dehydrated that every thought had to pack extra precautions and hike around his body like an old rambler through mud. Long gone were the days when electric thoughts could swim freely through a youthful, well watered, nervous system. Eventually his body responded to his wishes and he lurched out of bed. His head spun, the room joined it.
Keep had fallen asleep on the stairs. It’s amazing how comfortable stairs are when you’re drunk. But when you wake up you feel like your bones have seized together and you spend the next month walking around like a severe motorway pile up. Keep squirmed onto his back and half slid down the stairs. He groaned with pain but managed to stand up and walk to the fridge. He stretched and straightened his back. He grabbed a bottle of orange juice from the fridge and began replacing all that had been lost in his brutally battered and poorly treated system. He drank the whole thing and threw the empty carton into the sink. Miraculously he was already thinking relatively well and didn’t feel at all sick.
He peered over the breakfast bar. Simon was still asleep. A little oasis of spit had formed on the floor against his cheek. Keep was only slightly disappointed to discover that he hadn’t pissed himself. He thought about waking him up but decided to leave that to Charlie.
Charlie appeared, as if by magic, at the bottom of the stairs. A thunder cloud crackled above his head. Keep smiled.
‘Good morning!’ he said.
Charlie scowled.
‘Breakfast?’ asked Keep, ‘I can cook us all something, if you like?’
Charlie didn’t respond. He managed himself into the kitchen and looked at it. It was a kitchen alright, that much he knew, but how to make it work?
‘Coffee,’ he said.
The kettle had just finished boiling so Keep happily made them both coffees.
‘Simon?’ enquired Charlie.
‘He’s still on the floor. Do you want to wake him up?’
Charlie grunted and walked out of the house.
‘Where are you going?’ said Keep.
Charlie slammed the door. Keep opened it and went outside after him.
Charlie was standing half way down the drive in his t-shirt and boxer shorts.
‘Where the fuck am I?’ he said.
‘Simon’s house,’ said Keep.
‘Where does Simon live?’
‘At home.’
Charlie turned around and went back in to the house. Keep followed. Charlie went over to Simon and woke him up by shouting loudly and shaking him. Simon’s eyes sprang open and a look of primal fear grabbed his face.
‘What!? What do you want!?’ he shouted.
‘Where do you live?!’ shouted Charlie.
Simon looked around in a panic, ‘here!’ he responded.
‘Charlie,’ said Keep, ‘everything ok?’
Charlie stood up and stared at Keep. He started to approach him menacingly.
Simon gathered himself into a more or less vertical standing position and put a hand on Charlie’s shoulder.
‘Sit down,’ said Simon. His body felt like a volcano and his voice was ashen and brittle.
Charlie grappled with the idea for a moment but sensibly obeyed and sat down on one of the kitchen chairs. Simon opened a drawer and took out a pack of cigarettes. He took one out and put it in Charlie’s mouth. He lit it. Charlie sucked on the fag obediently and a fog cleared in his mind. Simon was clearly used to dealing with Charlie in this frame of mind and Keep nodded in appreciation at Simon’s wherewithal.
Simon sat down in the chair next to Charlie.
‘I don’t think I’ve been this hungover before,’ said Simon.
Charlie finished his cigarette and let it drop out of his mouth on to the table.
‘Mmh.’
Keep pulled out a chair and joined them.
‘I feel like a derelict building. Oh god, how do you fix this?!’ said Simon, holding his heads in his hands. I say heads, plural, he felt like he had more than one. He tried to keep them up with his two hands.
‘You just wait it out,’ said Charlie, ‘or drink.’
Simon looked at the bottle of whisky on the table and considered it for a moment.
‘No, Jane would kill me.’
Keep and Charlie looked at each other and then Charlie lowered his eyes. Having realized Simon hadn’t remembered yet he thought he would do what all good friends would do and asked for a lift home before he does.
‘Can I have your car?’ asked Charlie.
‘No, you can’t have it, why would I give you my car?’ asked Simon, through the immense pain that came with the construction of each word. Thinking and conveying said thoughts into speech, in this state of mind, is a bit like trying to piss after having your cock glued shut.
‘Take me home,’ said Charlie.
‘Simon?’ said Keep to Simon.
Simon looked up in response. Charlie glared at Keep.
‘Do you remember anything from last night?’
Simon frowned for a second and then thought back. As soon as he did so everything from the night before blossomed like a metaphorical flower of horrible memories and he sagged in his chair and started, once again, to sob.
‘Good work, retard,’ said Charlie getting up, ‘you deal with him, I’m going home.’
Simon looked up at Keep through teary eyes.
‘How come you’re so damn chipper? Don’t you feel like shit? I feel like shit.’
Keep rummaged through his jacket pocket and pulled out a bag of pure white powder. ‘God’s personal stash,’ said Keep with a smile, ‘the Wizard’s Dandruff. Want some?’
Simon was angry and upset and yes, he did want some cocaine!
‘Yes,’ he said.
Drugs; Charlie was not a fan. Charlie was a man of alcohol, and, as a wise man once said “alcohol is not a drug, it’s a drink”. Keep was to drugs what Einstein was to classical physics. He even had a lab. The lab, as all good labs should be, was in the basement of his home; The Basement, which is why The Basement was not, if you follow. The Basement is Keep’s bar; it is on the first floor. The lab, which doesn’t only cater to drugs but also fulfils Keep’s curious scientific mind, is located in the basement. His apartment is on the ground floor. Keep’s other scientific interests include, zoology, chemistry, physics, quantum mechanics, neurobiology, ecology, and anatomy. He also has a love of words, his favourite word being; Hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia, which is the word given to the phobia of long words.
‘Whoa, Simon, are you sure about this?’ asked the ever thoughtful Charlie.
‘Yes, I’m sure.’
‘Have you done drugs before?’
‘No, but there’s a first time for everything, isn’t there?’
‘Yes, but…’
‘Come on Charlie, he’s a big boy,’ said Keep.
Charlie decided to stay a bit longer. He had no interest in doing drugs but was very interested in watching Simon do it. This would be a day of Kodak moments for Charlie. He opened a fresh cold beer from the fridge and smiled at it. The beer smiled back in its own, cold, crisp, refreshing, soul curing, hangover killing, delicious, sparkling, and fantastical way. Charlie supped his hangover into oblivion. His mind was clearer now. His eyes sparkled with delight and he watched Simon lower a ten pound note, which had been installed into his left nasal passage, onto a pure white line of that evil moreish dust.
Simon inhaled. Particles of magical powder rushed up through the note and settled on the back of his nasal passage where they began to infuse with the tissue causing the synthetic compound, known to science as C17 H21 NO4, to affect his brain in a curious way. The reuptake of dopamine in his brain became impossible and so dopamine flooded his system. The dopamine played havoc with his emotions, his ability to experience pleasure and pain, and his ability to control movement. His pupils dilated, his heart quickened, and a feeling like a buzz saw swimming in a sea of sugar ran through his body at the speed of light. Something new in the drug caused Simon to hallucinate.
Simon’s head flew back.
‘YAAAARRRRRRR!!!’ he shouted in one long breath.
‘Is that normal?’ asked Charlie.
‘Wait for it,’ said Keep.
As if by force a smile scraped its way across Simon’s face. His eyes widened and his pupils marched across his whites and turned them into black holes. The result was quite spectacular.
Simon saw an angel. It was sitting on Charlie’s head watching Simon with mild interest.
‘Hello,’ said Simon.
‘Hello,’ said Charlie.
The angel fluttered off Charlie’s head and landed on the table in front of Simon. Simon stared at it.
‘Can you see me?’ asked the tiny angel.
‘Yes, I can see you,’ said Simon.
‘Who?’ asked Charlie.
‘I’m going to feed you,’ said the attractive bird-like angel.
‘Ok,’ said Simon.
Charlie tried to share a miffed expression with Keep but Keep was laughing with silent hysterics.
The angel leapt from where it stood and dived into Simon’s mouth. Within seconds it had swum down Simon’s throat and into his stomach.
‘AAAAAAAHHHH!’ Screamed Simon, clutching his throat.
He fell backwards off his chair and started wrestling with himself on the floor. Keep burst out with uncontrollable laughter. Charlie wanted to join in, in fact a childish grin had already adorned his face, but he wanted to hold back until he knew Simon wasn’t going to die.
‘Keep, you twat, what did you give him?’
Keep tried to calm down and wiped a tear from his cheek.
‘Oh dear,’ he said, ‘this is fucking funny.’
‘What did you give him?’
Simon was still writhing around on the floor.
‘Err, not sure, I discovered it two days ago by accident. It’s really quite a remarkable drug.’
‘Is he going to die?’
‘Probably not. It doesn’t seem to be lethal. I don’t think it is.’
‘Doesn’t seem to be?’
‘None of the rabbits have died.’
Charlie likes puzzles; he turned his frown into one now and showed it to Keep.
‘One of the sheep did though. But then he was an unusual sheep.’
‘What are you talking about?’ said Charlie.
‘It would be easier to show you,’ said Keep, ‘can you help me get him to his feet.’

Keep opened the door to his lab and the musty smell of science ran at them and escaped out of the building. The very air of a lab, or at least Keep’s lab, has a life of its own. It’s been subjected to gases, explosions (both expected and unexpected), smells, delusions, and stagnancy. It has been hot, cold, confused and surprised. This lab has been used to its full potential, and just recently it had been rewarding Keep for his efforts. A table in the middle of the lab had the usual array of chemistry paraphernalia; test tubes, Bunsen burners, beakers, froth, elaborate framework, tubes, corks, teapot etc. A curved low oak door concealed a room full of various kinds of live stock in various states of mind. Glass cabinets were pregnant with carefully labelled bottles. A bookshelf in one corner played hypothetical chicken with physics as it held, beyond all likelihood, twice as many books as it was capable of.
Keep put his jacket on a hook and invited Charlie in.
Simon was still on his way down the stairs, he was trying to figure out how the wallpaper was playing such beautiful music, and how the pattern of the wallpaper was able to leave the walls and hug him. The music was actually his phone, it had been patiently collecting missed calls and frantic answer phone messages from an anxious casting director for about half an hour now. He decided he didn’t mind how it was happening and hugged the wonderful wallpaper back with all the love he could give. Charlie grabbed him by the arm and dragged him into the lab. Simon hugged him. Charlie pushed him off and he landed on the floor.
Keep took a large corked bottle out of one of the cupboards and filled two beakers.
‘Are you going to show me an experiment?’ asked Charlie.
‘No, it’s whisky,’ said Keep, handing one to Charlie.
Charlie accepted it.
‘Is it safe to drink?’
‘Yes, it’s just whisky, I promise.’
Charlie looked around and tried to figure out what was going on.
‘Are you… What’s, err… I don’t understand,’ said Charlie.
‘I dabble with science.’
‘I think dabble is an understatement. What’s in here?’
Charlie opened a door.
‘Don’t open that!’ shouted Keep.
‘A fucking horse!’ shouted Charlie.
‘Close it!’ Keep ran over and slammed the door, ‘you do not want that thing loose on the public.’
‘Why? It’s just a horse. It’s a horse. There’s a horse in here? Why do you have a horse?’ said a clear minded Charlie.
‘Just don’t open or touch anything.’
Simon stood up and ran upstairs.
‘Can you get him,’ said Keep, ‘I’m going to quickly sort something out in here, there’s something interesting I want to show you.’
Charlie shrugged.
‘This better be good,’ he said, and went off after Simon.
Keep opened the small oak door at the back of the room and led out a fairly mellow sheep. The sheep’s eyes sparkled. Using a soft vibrating device Keep extracted a healthy portion of semen and then put the sheep back. The sheep had a wonderful life. It dabbled with drugs, had lots of sex with soft vibrating machines, slept a lot, life was perfect. All the sex and drugs made it feel warm and fuzzy. The sheep let itself tumble over in its pile of hay and went to sleep.
Keep heated the semen in a beaker until it was dry and then ground it into a white powder. He then opened a container marked with the words ‘pure cocaine’ and mixed it with the dry bovid love juice.
Charlie came down the stairs with Simon in tow.
‘Right,’ said Keep, removing his safety glasses, ‘this is a fresh batch of what I gave to Simon, it is 100% natural and organic. It cannot kill you, and will not give you a come-down.’
‘Why are you telling me this? I don’t do drugs.’
‘It also gives you full control over your hallucinations.’
‘That’s interesting. How come Simon doesn’t seem to have any control over his?’
‘He doesn’t know he can control them.’
Those words found their way into Simon’s magical world and settled on a purple beach somewhere in the back of his mind. Simon went to the beach and stared at the giant 3D words and smiled. They read ‘YOU ARE GOD’. Simon turned around and found himself in Keep’s lab. He looked at Charlie, and with barely a thought, turned him into a giant baby.
Charlie was looking at Simon. He was a bit worried about the way Simon was looking at him.
‘Baby want a bottle?’ said Simon.
‘No,’ said Charlie.
‘I think he’s just figured it out,’ said Keep.
Simon turned Keep into an Asian plumber, for reasons even I’m unsure of, and fell to the floor laughing. He remained there for some time.
‘At least he’s happy,’ said Charlie.
‘If people found out that a drug existed that gave you the ability to control your hallucinations, your fantasies, and not have a comedown, then it could make me very wealthy indeed!’ said Keep.
‘The whole world would go insane and everyone would die,’ said Mr. Optimistic, otherwise known as Charlie; the somewhat unlikely voice of reason.
‘I want you to try it,’ said Keep.
‘I gathered. But why?’
‘Why not?’
‘You present a good argument,’ said Charlie, ‘Ok, but only a bit.’
Keep cut half a line of the mystical new drug on the lab table and handed Charlie a rolled up bank note.
Charlie inhaled. The drug rampaged through his system and set Charlie’s mind alight.
‘I have an idea for a book!’ Charlie shouted, and ran upstairs.
Keep quickly gathered the new batch in a pot and stuffed it in his pocket. He grabbed Simon by the collar.
‘Come with me!’ he said, and both men ran up stairs after Charlie.

Author Interview – Rob Gregson

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Rob GregsonQuestion 1: Who are you and what have you written?

I’m Rob Gregson, a skilled producer of origami frogs. Sadly, the paper frog market is no longer what it was, so I also have a day job that involves running a small consultancy business. Since I’m my own boss, I allow myself an unreasonable amount of time off to write comic novels / light-hearted adventures. My most recently published was ‘The Written World – a two-part fantasy comprising ‘Unreliable Histories’ and ‘The Endless Land.’ My most recently written book (still being edited) is ‘The Other Book of the Dead.’

Question 2: If you had to paint a portrait of any author who would it be?

I’m terrible at painting. It would have to be someone who’d been cremated. That would be the only way I’d have a chance of getting it to look right.

Wuestion 3: Why did you start writing?Unreliable Histories

My mind wanders. If I’m driving, sitting on the train, mowing the lawn, attending some boring conference or engaged in any number of other activities that require little conscious thought, I tend to start exploring ‘what ifs.’ Little scenarios ensue, and then I’ll start populating them with characters. It doesn’t take so very long before my head’s full of places and conversations. If I don’t write them down, I think I’d probably become dangerous. The word ‘spree’ might well be used. Believe me; it’s safer for everyone if I write.

Kwestion 4: Where do you write? Do you have a shed like Roald Dahl, or a special room away from the other people in your house? Personally I write in my pyjamas.

I write in a little office room at the top of the stairs. I’m still hoping to move to a draughty garret somewhere, because that’s how it’s supposed to be done. By a curious coincidence, I’m currently building a shed that will be shaped exactly like Roald Dahl, but I have no plans to write in it. I don’t own a set of pyjamas.

Question 5: What is the most interesting thing you have learned recently?

North Korea signed up to the Paris climate change agreement. They’re mocking Donald Trump for pulling out. (You’ve got to wonder whether your policies might be a bit iffy if North Korea can claim the moral high ground.)

The Endless Land.jpgQuestion 6: Have you experienced what psychologists call “The ultimate experience”? Which is the frame of mind when you are writing and everything is flowing perfectly and the creative buzz is so great you lose track of time.

Thanks for the clarification. For a moment, I thought we were straying into some very personal territory. And no. Some days are more productive than others but it’s generally quite a slog. There are times when I’ll write and write, but then I’ll come back to it a day or two later and find I’m having to change big chunks of it. So much of ‘writing’ is actually editing; applying a kind of quality control. It’s not all about that first stage of getting the ideas down on the page.

Question 7: Last question: Are you happy as a writer?

No. I’ll be happy once I’m recognised as the most prodigiously talented writer of my age and weight. To do that, of course, I’ll inevitably need to develop a prodigious writing talent, so I’m not holding my breath.

***

Ron Gregson’s Unreliable Histories and The Endless Land are available on Amazon now.

Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 6

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Jane was looking at herself in her bathroom mirror. She had a towel wrapped around her freshly showered body and her wet hair caressed her bare shoulders. She wiped her hand over the steamed glass of the mirror and picked up her glass of wine. She felt nervous. How ridiculous, she thought to herself, nervous at my age. She finished her wine and put the glass down. Right, she thought, you can do this.

Amelia lay under Jane’s duvet and stared at the ceiling. The room was slowly spinning around her and her body tingled with nerves. The duvet felt heavy against her naked body. The mixture of alcohol and sexual anxiety caused her to practically buzz with anticipation. She heard Jane come out of the bathroom but didn’t look. The weight of the duvet lifted and she felt the cool air rush in. She felt the mattress move as Jane climbed into bed. The softness of Jane’s smooth, clean skin brushed against Amelia’s and two coy and loving bodies became entangled.

 

Keep entered Jane’s phone number into his phone and was about to dial when Simon came stumbling back from the toilet.

‘Right then!’ said Simon, ‘Are we going to do this or what?!’

‘Yes, let’s go,’ said Keep, hiding the phone.

Charlie picked up the full bottle of whisky and stuffed it in his inside jacket pocket.

‘Keep, you grab the other bottle and we’ll sneak it out without the bouncer seeing.’

‘You fucking idiot, I own the pub!’

Charlie laughed, ‘Fucking hell, I, fine sir, am completely, and irrevocably, drunk!’

‘But you can still say irvacu… ira voc ab. Err… you can still say… irre… voca… bly. Ha!’ said Simon.

Keep laughed.

‘Ok,’ said Charlie, ‘this is the plan.’

Charlie stood in front of Keep and Simon while Keep and Simon tried to stand still in front of Charlie.

‘We go to Simon’s house and see if Jane is fucking Sarah.’

‘Amelia,’ said Simon, raising his hand.

‘Oh yes, Amelia, and then… err, that’s it really. We’ll take it from there!’

Charlie turned on his heel and marched down the stairs and out of the pub. Simon and Keep followed suit.

The doorman grabbed Charlie by the collar as he marched past.

‘Ere!’ shouted the doorman, ‘Next time you come ere don’t think I’m gonna’ let you in so easy, you can join the back of the queue like the rest…’

Keep tapped the doorman on the shoulder.

‘Like the rest of what?’ asked Keep patiently.

‘Err… I was just sayin,’ began the doorman.

‘Yes?’ said Keep.

‘Err… that he needn’t queue when he next comes by. Err… he can just come straight in. What with him bein personal friends of yours and such.’

‘Good. We’ll be back shortly, make sure nothing goes wrong while I’m gone,’ said Keep.

‘Yes sir, of course.’

‘Oh, to be friends with the king,’ said Charlie, as he removed the doorman’s hands from his collar.

‘You know, I’m a bit nervous about all this,’ said Simon.

Charlie put his arm around Simon’s shoulders and eyed Keep to stay back a bit so he could phone Jane.

‘Don’t worry,’ said Charlie, ‘Everything will be fine.’

Keep hung back and dialled the number again. The phone started to ring.

 

The squeals of delight that were coming from under Jane’s duvet were enough alone to cause an entire school of teenage boys to suddenly die of spontaneous sexual combustion. To see them moving together like they were would cause your groin to turn inside out and the back of your head to explode. The duvet rolled over their hot and pulsing bodies, lips and legs locked together and hands stroked and caressed.

On the floor next to the bed, deep in the vast depths of Jane’s handbag, a mobile phone quietly vibrated with no hope of being heard.

 

Keep hung up the phone and shrugged at Charlie.

Shit, thought Charlie.

Charlie stopped under a street light and urinated against the lamp post. Simon staggered onward with a new sense of righteous determination. Keep held his phone, swaying out in front of him, and navigated his finger to the call button. He pressed it and put the phone to his ear. He hiccupped. The phone rang out again. Keep joined Charlie at the lamppost and started urinating against it too.

‘She won’t answer her phone.’

Charlie looked at him blankly, ‘Who?’

‘Simon’s missus.’

‘Oh, shit,’ said Charlie, with a blank drunken look on his face. He thought for a moment and said, ‘Try again.’

‘I tried t-wice.’

Charlie frowned, ‘t-wice?’

‘I’ve got hiccups. I tried twice… hic.’

Charlie zipped up his fly and looked around.

‘Where’s Simon?’

Keep turned, taking his stream of urine with him, and looked around for Simon.

‘I don’t know’ he said.

Charlie spotted him scaling a drainpipe up the side of his house.

‘What the fuck are you doing!?’ Charlie shouted, as quietly as he could.

Charlie and Keep ran up to the house and stood looking up at Simon. Simon put a finger to his lips and pointed up to his bedroom window. Keep stared up at him with his hands on his hips.

‘Why aren’t we using the front door?’ said Keep, in a shouted whisper.

Simon reached the window and peered in. It was too dark to see anything.

Charlie turned to Keep.

‘Keep… put your cock away,’ he said.

Keep looked down but didn’t seem surprised that his manhood was sharing the moment with them. He tucked it away. Charlie continued.

‘We have to stop this,’ he said.

‘I have an idea!’ said Keep.

He picked up a stone and threw it at the window. It missed and hit Simon on the head.

‘Shit, sorry!’ said Keep.

‘What the fuck are you doing?’ said Simon.

‘I don’t know,’ shouted Keep.

‘Shh!’ said Simon.

‘What can you see?’ asked Charlie.

Simon peered through again.

‘Nothing, it’s too dark.’

‘Come down, we’ll use the front door,’ said Charlie.

Simon agreed and made his way back down the drain pipe.

‘What were you thinking?’ said Charlie, when Simon got down.

‘I thought she would hear us coming through the front door,’ he said.

‘Is there another way in?’

‘We could go through the French doors round the back and come in through the kitchen!’

 

The duvet was half off the bed and Jane and Amelia were still kissing passionately. They stopped with a few more kisses and Jane rolled on to her back.

‘We need more wine,’ she said, looking at her empty glass on the bedside table.

‘I’ll get a fresh bottle,’ said Amelia getting up.

Her glass was still half full. She picked it up and downed it. Then Amelia picked up Jane’s dressing gown and began to slip into it.

‘Go naked,’ said Jane daringly.

Amelia smiled and let the dressing gown fall to the floor. She walked provocatively to the door and turned when she got there. She brushed her body against the door frame and raised her leg and swung her head back letting her hair touch the small of her back. She swung her body sideways out of the room and peered back in. She blew a kiss and winked. She giggled and skipped off downstairs to the kitchen.

Jane smiled and pulled the duvet up to her chin. Her body was still tingling. The Alcohol in her system added to the warm and cosy feeling that rushed around her body.

 

Simon opened the French door and let Charlie and Keep in. Charlie went straight to the fridge and took out a bottle of beer. He popped the lid off with his lighter and had a swig. Simon went over to the door and looked into the lounge. The TV was on but the room was empty. Keep was leaning over the breakfast bar picking at the cold leftovers from dinner.

‘So, what do I do now?’ asked Simon, ‘Just go upstairs and catch them at it?’

Charlie thought for a moment.

‘What are you going to do if they are up to something?’ he asked.

‘Join in,’ said Keep.

Charlie and Simon ignored him.

‘I don’t know,’ said Simon.

The light suddenly turned on and a drunk and naked Amelia skipped in. She stopped in shock and covered as much of her modesty as she could with her arms.

‘What are you doing here!?’ she said.

Keep put the piece of chicken he was eating down.

‘We’re here to rescue you,’ he said.

Charlie looked at Keep in bafflement and then back at Amelia. Nobody said anything.

Simon ran upstairs.

‘Rescue you?’ said Charlie to Keep.

Keep shrugged, ‘First thing that came to my head.’

 

Amelia was already outside and running down the street with a pillow she had grabbed from the couch covering her lower modesty. Her breasts would have to face the weather and hope for the best. Charlie ran out of the house after her.

‘Wait!’ he shouted.

She turned but carried on walking backwards at a considerable pace.

‘I’m not getting involved,’ she said.

‘You kind of already are.’

She stopped and walked up to Charlie, ‘I’m sorry that I slept with Jane, but this really is nothing to do with me! It was her idea!’

‘I don’t care, it’s not really my problem either. But you are making me quite horny.’

She smiled.

 

Keep was still in the kitchen absently eating bits of chicken and cold potatoes. He popped open a bottle of beer and made himself comfortable. He could hear Simon and Jane shouting at each other upstairs but it didn’t really worry him. He had food and beer and he was contemplating lighting a cigarette. He had seen a drunk naked girl, he had drunk whisky and smoked cigs, and now he was fed; perfection. He leaned back on one of the wooden chairs in the kitchen and blew a smoke ring. A door slammed upstairs and Jane came running down and out of the front door in her dressing gown. She grabbed the car keys from the small table by the front door on the way out.

‘JANE!’ shouted Simon, running down the stairs after her, ‘Please! We can figure this out! I’m sorry!’

‘Why are you apologizing?’ asked Keep.

Simon fell to his knees and sobbed.

‘I don’t know,’ he said, and then let himself fall onto his side where he would cry quietly for a few emotional minutes before spreading out onto his back to shout at the ceiling for a while.

The sound of Jane’s car leaving the drive brought with it a less tense air. Keep burped and picked up another potato.

 

A short while later Charlie and Amelia appeared at the door. Amelia no longer looked like the pure love goddess Keep had seen her as. Now she looked like she had been manhandled into a bush, which in fact, she had. Charlie looked as nonchalant as ever.

Simon had joined Keep in the kitchen and had tasked a bottle of scotch with the job of wiping his memory.

Amelia went upstairs to get dressed.

 

‘How did it go?’ asked Charlie, sitting down.

‘What?’ asked Keep.

‘The invasion of Poland in 1939.’

Keep frowned.

‘Jane and Simon you fucking idiot,’ said Charlie.

‘Oh, that. Not good,’ said Keep.

Simon downed the last bit of whisky in his glass and started sobbing.

‘He’s making that noise again,’ said Keep.

‘Has he drunk that whole bottle on his own?’

‘Yep.’

Simon leaned forward and picked up the empty bottle. He tried to pour another glass with no avail. He brought the bottle close to him and peered into it with one eye closed. His vision was actively working against him, as it does when you’re drunker than a balloon artist at a child’s party, so he brought the bottle to his lips instead. As he tilted his head back to take a swig he forgot to tell his body to stay put. Lacking this important information his body tilted back with him and Simon and chair soon met the ground. Charlie leaned over the breakfast bar to see if Simon had survived his little adventure floor-wards. Simon had managed to become horizontal while remaining seated; a remarkable feat. He was fast asleep.  Charlie leaned back again.

‘Beer?’

Keep nodded and got two bottles out of the fridge.

Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 5

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‘Charlie! Wait up.’

Charlie turned around, ‘Run!’

‘Fucking hell Charlie what’s the rush?’

‘What’s the rush? Give me a winning argument for being slow.’

‘Because… Just hold on!’

Charlie stopped to let Simon catch up.

‘Thank you. Where’s the Basement then? Shall we get a taxi?’

‘What’s the rush?’

‘That’s what I just said!’

‘Yes, but I wasn’t actually rushing or even moving particularly fast. I was just slightly ahead of you. You’re the one inflicting me with verbs.’

‘Ok.’

‘Safe answer. Actually I don’t really want to go to the Basement. Not right away anyway.’

Charlie looked at Simon in a way Simon didn’t recognize, at least not on Charlie. He seemed Sober. He seemed like he was about to be serious.

‘I need to visit someone, and I can’t do it on my own.’

‘Who do you need to visit at this hour?’

‘My daughter.’

‘You have a daughter?!’

Charlie’s expression saddened, ‘I need you to come with me. Please. I really need to see her.’

‘Ok, let’s go and see her.’

Charlie looked over the road, ‘She’s not far from here.’

Simon looked over. They were standing opposite a cemetery.

‘Charlie, please tell me now if this is one of your jokes.’

Charlie crossed the road and climbed over the main gate to the cemetery. Simon stood for a moment wondering if this was one of his jokes and if it was it was a sick one. Simon crossed the road and followed Charlie into the cemetery.

‘Charlie, where are you?’

‘Over here.’

Simon weaved through the graves until he found Charlie standing in front of a small heart shaped gravestone. Someone had left a yellow rose in front of Claire’s grave.

‘There she is,’ said Charlie.

‘Claire Deavon,’ Simon looked at the gravestone next to it, ‘Samantha Deavon.’

‘She’s my wife. This grave was reserved for me. I never thought she would be filling it for me.’

Simon opened his mouth but couldn’t find any words.

‘Samantha died in childbirth. She never even got to meet her.’

Charlie took a cantina of whisky out of his jacket pocket and took a sip. He passed it to Simon and both of them sat down against the opposite graves. They sat there silently for a while. Charlie lit a cigarette and looked at the Cantina in his hands.

‘I’m a cunt. You know that?’

Simon didn’t answer.

A tear began to form in Charlie’s eye.

‘It’s all here, all my problems, in this fucking cantina!’

Charlie stood up and threw the cantina as far as he could. He sat back down again.

‘It doesn’t hurt as much as it used to,’ Charlie took the picture of Claire from his inside jacket pocket and looked at it, ‘she was seven when she died. It would have been her 18th birthday today.’

‘I don’t know what to say,’ said Simon.

‘I was giving her a lift to her friend’s house. I’d had one glass of wine. Just one! But it was enough to lapse my concentration for a split second. And now look at me. What have I learnt?!’

Charlie stubbed his cigarette out in the grass and lit another one. He put the picture back in his pocket.

‘We weren’t even in the car a whole minute before it happened. We got in the car, we were both in a playful mood, you just don’t expect anything to happen, and I pulled out of the drive without looking. And that was it. Our friendship was no more. It was my fault but the guy who drove into us was drunk. He was sent to prison for twelve months for driving while intoxicated but hung himself before his sentence was up. Claire died on my lap in the car. I wasn’t even scratched. I hate alcohol for everything that has come of it yet I consume it like it’s all that matters! What the hell is wrong with me!?’

‘If you want to quit I can sign you up to a group.’

‘No, that won’t work. I just need to stop.’

Charlie stood up and walked over to the grave stone. He took a diamond ring out of his pocket and placed it out of site in a gap between the grave stone and the soil.

‘Happy Birthday Princess.’

Charlie took a step back and looked at the two gravestones standing quietly together.

‘And besides, I’ve got nothing to lose now have I. Come on, let’s go and lighten the mood a bit.’

 

The doorman at The Basement noticed Charlie and Simon walking toward him and immediately stood in front of the door.

‘He seems to recognize you,’ said Simon, as they approached the bar.

‘We’ve had our differences,’ said Charlie.

‘Charlie Deavon, how nice of you to pop back for a visit,’ said the heavy looking bouncer.

‘Stand aside kind sir! I’m here to visit the king!’

‘I just want you to know, before I let you in, that I don’t like you and I think you should have been barred!’

‘Bizarrely, I tend to agree. Alas, your landlord does not.’

Charlie pushed past the doorman and headed up the stairs, Simon hesitantly followed.

‘I’m warning you!’ the doorman shouted after them, ‘any fires this time and I’m not letting you back in!’

‘Fires?’ enquired Simon.

‘I may have set fire to the place last time I was here.’

‘Any particular reason?’

‘Describe our current motion,’ said Charlie.

Simon thought for a moment.

‘We’re walking upstairs?’

‘Correct, and what is the name of this pub?’

‘The Basement.’

‘Thus we have good reason for fire.’

‘I’m not sure I follow,’ said Simon.

They arrived at the bar.

‘Such a callous use of irony puts me in a state of serious disrupt. And so I set fire to the bar.’

‘And you didn’t get barred?’

‘No, luckily my friend Keep here agreed with me.’

‘Charlie,’ said Keep, ‘what can I get you?’

‘Two of the usual,’ said Charlie.

‘You usually have a bottle of whisky.’

‘Right, two please.’

Keep went out back to get the bottles of whisky and Simon and Charlie went to the back of the bar to sit at a table.

Keep arrived with the booze and sat down. The Black Keys filled the room with whisky soaked rock music.

‘I think I’ll join you,’ said Keep, ‘You know, since you set fire to the bar last week we’ve been packed. This is now officially the place to be.’

‘Great, let’s start another fire and lock the doors this time so we can kill them all for being populous chasing cunts.’

‘We could, but then I really would have to bar you.’

Charlie smiled, ‘Did you keep the name change?’

‘Yes, thanks for that,’ he said sarcastically, ‘people seem to like it.’

Keep could see that Simon wanted some involvement in the conversation and so involved him.

‘After the fire last week we had to evacuate the pub so Charlie and I decided to have ourselves a little lock-in.’

‘Oh dear,’ said Simon, imagining Charlie in a fire burnt bar with all the free alcohol he could consume.

‘Charlie can be quite persuasive at times,’ continued Keep.

Charlie nodded in agreement.

‘He had been calling me Bar Keep all night even after countless attempts to teach him my real name. After we had consumed enough alcohol to fuel a small plane he had convinced me that changing my name to Keep would be a really good idea.’

‘And I stick by it,’ said Charlie.

‘And so, he went online and changed my name by deed poll.’

‘The pleasure was all mine.’

‘I hadn’t actually remembered any of this until my official papers arrived in the post a few days ago.’

‘Oh god what have I got myself into? Please promise me that I’ll wake up with my own name tomorrow,’ said Simon.

‘I promise I won’t change it but I can’t promise that you’ll remember it.’

‘That’s fine. So, do I call you Keep? Or… what is your real name?’

‘You can call me Keep, everybody else is.’

‘Ok, so how come you didn’t mind when Charlie set fire to the place?’

‘He helped!’ said Charlie, ‘I can’t take sole blame for this!’

‘I was having a bad day and Charlie came along like a catalyst. He has a way of explaining things that makes you think venting in such an extreme way is normal. Or at least justified.’

Keep poured a second round of drinks and Simon began to feel tipsy.

‘How do you guys drink so much? I already feel drunk. And how come you seem sober? You were smashed when you got to my house!’

‘Functioning alcoholic,’ said Keep, pointing at Charlie.

‘I’ll take that. Functioning alcoholic, makes me feel… “functional”. Like a useful drunk,’ said Charlie.

‘Oh god, I’m going to regret this night aren’t I?’ said Simon.

‘Good! Drink up, you’re going to need it,’ said Charlie.

‘For what?’

‘We, Simon, are going home in an hour and you are going to want to be drunk.’

‘In an hour? We’ve only just got here.’

‘We’re only going back to yours for a bit and then we’ll come straight back and really hit the drink!’

‘Why are you going back?’ asked Keep.

Charlie looked at Simon.

‘Why are we out tonight?’ he asked.

‘So we can have a few beers. And because Jane wanted a girlie night in.’

‘Even though she invited me round so we can all get together.’

‘Like I said, she’s been acting strange recently.’

‘You didn’t notice a kind of, serious sexual tension between Amelia and Jane?’

‘Well, I kind of did. A little bit. I guess.’

Keep picked up his glass.

‘Sounds like your wife is urging for some deep, and pure, tongue induced, thigh watering, chest pounding, toe-curling orgasms from the gleaming lesbian fire that is the taboo of same sex passion.’

‘Very poetic,’ said Simon.

‘When we get back we are probably going to find Jane and Amelia in the steamy throes of hardcore lesbianism.’

Simon stood up, ‘Right, we have to go back now and stop them!’

Simon headed for the exit but Charlie got up and grabbed him.

‘No, it’s all very well stopping anything from happening but then you’ll never be sure and it will play on your mind until you become a paranoid, wife beating, estate agent!’

‘Estate agent?’

‘Oh yes, estate agent, because you’ll get fired from being a literary agent because you were caught masturbating in the stationery cupboard!’

‘That doesn’t make sense!’

Charlie grabbed him by the collar! ‘None of this makes sense! That’s why we have to wait!’

‘Really?’

‘Yes. You have to trust me. If we get back and they are watching a chic flick and doing each other’s hair then you can stop worrying about her acting strange. That is a good thing.’

‘Yes, I suppose it is. But what if they are doing something?’

‘I’ll have my camera phone ready,’ said Keep.

‘It’s up to you what happens. And that is why we are going for a drink afterwards. It will give you both some time to think.’

‘Yeah, I guess that makes sense.’

‘Excellent, let’s get shit faced!’ said Charlie.

 

One bottle of whisky later and Simon’s bladder was begging for mercy. It was time to gather his senses and set off in search for the men’s room.

‘If I’m not back in five minutes,’ said Simon getting up, ‘I’ve probably pissed myself.’

Simon waddled off and Charlie took his notepad and pen out of his pocket. He tore out a page and wrote down a number.

‘This is Jane’s mobile number,’ he said to Keep, ‘I need you to phone it without Simon knowing so you can give Jane the heads up.’

‘What? Why?’

‘If all goes well this could end up being good for both of them,’ said Charlie.

‘And how exactly is us helping her cheat be good in any way?’

‘We’re not helping her cheat. We want her to feel like she’s been caught out without actually being caught. Put the fear of god in her!’

‘Or the fear of Charlie.’

‘The reason being, she’ll know that we know but also that we don’t want Simon to know and hopefully it will snap her out of this little midlife crisis and feel guilty enough to focus on Simon again.’

‘That was hard to follow. I must be drunker than I thought. So, I tell her we know but don’t want Simon to know because it will crush him?’ said Keep, trying to concentrate.

‘Yes.’

‘And that will hopefully force her to reflect on what she’s doing with the kind of hindsight you might get from actually being caught.’

‘Yes! That’s amazing!’ said Charlie.

‘It was your idea.’

‘I know, but the way you said it makes it sound better than I thought. I guess I must be a genius!’

‘I guess you must be.’

‘And Simon going back to find her watching TV with Amelia, instead of fucking her, will hopefully stop Simon from being such a paranoid retard! It’s win-win!’

‘I didn’t know you had it in you to help another person,’ said Keep with a slur.

‘I am an enigma!’ said Charlie.

The Incredible* News of Large Scale Chicken Cloning

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Chicken Cloning.jpg

I was on the phone to my brother, David.

“How are there enough chickens?” says David, quite unexpectedly following immediately after a deep and difficult conversation about a psychopath’s attempt to kill him by un-bolting the suspension on his truck (but that’s a story for another day).

“What do you mean?” I say, looking at my phone like it’s mental.

“Think about it. Think of all the chickens in all the supermarkets. Think of all the KFCs and late night takeaways. And the chicken farms are still full of chickens. They are not empty. Where are they getting all the chickens from?”

I sit down and pick up my glass of whisky. “You’re right. And pigs too. Think of all the bacon we eat. How can there be enough pigs?”

“There should be a shortage. There’s not enough chickens.”

“Fuck. I need to think about this, man.”

“How many people live in England?”

“Loads. I mean, I know at least 30 people.”

“There’s way more than that.”

“I have to go. I need look into this.”

I couldn’t let the idea go. I had to find out what the fuck was going on with the chicken shortage that should be happening but for some reason is not.

Here’s what I discovered –

Approximately 875,000,000 chickens are produced in the UK each year. If all those chickens were alive at the same time and had 1 square foot of land each they would take up an area of 31 miles, which is about the size of Slough.

There are 65,000,000 people in the UK so we get about 13.4 chickens each per year. Damn. The math adds up. I text my brother with the news.

He replies, “That’s still a lot of chicken!! But it still makes no sense, I eat more than 13.4 chickens a year!!!”

“Then you are eating somebody else’s chickens, buddy!” I reply.

So that’s my exciting mystery / possible conspiracy solved. Damn, I was looking forward to uncovering some kind of cloning base. Maybe a whole island that’s been kept secret from us and is entirely populated with chickens.

It did get me thinking though. It reminded me, as everything does, of that fucking prick called Donald Tramp and our own anti-evidence government in the UK. This whole anti-fact ant-expert thing. It’s frustrating.

It’s more fun, and much easier, to believe the person shouting the mad bullshit. Shocking soundbites spread around with great ease and become common knowledge, regardless of accuracy. Sadly the same is not true for the more long-winded and slightly boring nerd saying, “Actually, I think you’ll find…”

This wasn’t meant to get political. I’m not sure what the point was going to be. Lot of chickens though isn’t it?

On a side note, I have just discovered there is a real place called Chicken Island in Krabi in Thailand. So named for its rock formation. Sadly there are no chickens on Chicken Island.

Chicken-Island-Krabi

*The heading isn’t technically click-bait as it is true as per the definition of the word incredible:

Incredible adjective – 1. Impossible to believe. 2. Difficult to believe; extraordinary.

Author Interview – James Court

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James CourtQuestion 1: Who are you and what have you written (Most recent book, no synopsis).

I’m James Court, supposedly retired, but active socially and a full-time grandparent. My most recent book on Amazon is ‘Farewell to Peckham‘: the fourth in what was intended to be a series of three comic novels.

Question 2: If you had to paint a portrait of any author who would it be?

If I could work through a genuine medium I’d ask Thomas Hardy to sit for me. Otherwise it would be Michael Palin, although I doubt singing ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’ as we worked would be be conducive to a steady brush hand on the canvas.

Wuestion 3: Why did you start writing?

I’ve always written from an early age, and as a child preferred reading to playing games. After a lifetime of watching adults being anything but adult, retirement meant I again had time to myself to indulge in longer works than the odd article and pantomime.

Kwestion 4: Where do you write?

Generally I sit on a sofa with my trusty laptop on my knees. A couple of hours in the early morning gives me about a dozen pages, topped up by periods when baby-sitting sleeping grandchildren.

Question 5: What is the most interesting thing you have learned recently?

Researching my historical works throws up all sorts of odd facts. In 1100, Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, a pair of conjoined twins, were born in the Kent village of Biddenden. Joined at the hip they grew to adulthood, prospered as business women and both got married. They left behind a legacy to feed the poor of the parish that still flourished in the early 2000s.

Question 6: Have you experienced what psychologists call “The ultimate experience” ?

I often lose track of time when Farewell to Peckhamwriting: especially if I have an idea at night and get up ‘for an hour’ which stretches until the dawn chorus interrupts me. At such times I find my output is phenomenal, but have to spend hours correcting the typos and grammar afterwards

Last question: Are you happy as a writer?

Yes! Very much so. I’m a naturally happy person, and I hope that my writing brings humour to the lives of others. Feedback from writers and readers of the ‘Peckham Novels’ led me to write a fourth when I originally only intended three volumes, so I guess that I’m achieving what I set put to do, and that always generates a satisfied feeling.

***

Farewell to Peckham by James Court is available now on Amazon.

Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 4

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‘Hi Simon!’

Simon admired the view before him with very little surprise. Charlie was steadying himself against the door frame while a very drunk girl was throwing up on the pavement outside.

‘Simon… I err…’

‘Brought a date with you?’ Simon offered.

‘Yes! A date!’ said Charlie, and then leaned in in an attempt to seem sober, ‘I hope that’s ok.’

‘She looks like she’s going to die.’

‘She’ll be alright.’

Simon smiled, a small part of him enjoying the mayhem that Charlie brings into his life, ‘At least you’re on time.’

Charlie grinned and entered the house. On passing Simon he leaned in to whisper in Simon’s ear, ‘I think I love her.’

Simon walked down the steps and helped the young girl into the house.

Charlie wandered into the lounge where he was greeted by a very happy Jane.

‘Charlie! So lovely to see you again.’

‘And you!’

They gave each other a peck on the cheek.

Simon entered the room with the massively inebriated girl and sat her on the couch. Jane continued to smile but with that contorted smile you only ever see on aristocratic women veining delight at seeing a photo of one of her slave’s children.

‘Oh. And who’s this lovely young lady?’

Charlie tried to remember her name. The girl put her arm up in a drunken proclamation and stated with confidence.

‘Amelia!’

‘Yes!’ Charlie grinned, ‘Amelia! Amelia Heart! Her and I,’ pointing vaguely where she sat, ‘would like to thank you for the invitation to dine with you.’

‘My pleasure,’ Jane replied, ‘Simon, could I see you in the kitchen.’

‘No,’ said Simon, with an air of “I told you so”, ‘I think we should have a drink.’

 

It wasn’t long before Jane was lubricated enough to begin enjoying herself. The vomiting had sobered Amelia up enough for her to continue drinking and she was currently in the kitchen helping Jane prepare dinner. Jane poured the last few drops of Zinfandel Rosé into her glass and clumsily set the bottle down on the side.

‘So, Amelia, how do you know Charlie?’

Amelia looked at her glass. It was nearly empty.

‘More wine!’ She declared.

Jane opened the fridge and took out a fresh bottle and Amelia struggled to remember the last few hours of her life.

‘Err… he was sat on his own at the pub and I was like “heeey! I’m your biggest fan!”, oh god, I’m so embarrassing, I think he told me to piss off.’

Jane laughed and filled Amelia’s glass.

‘And now I’m at your house getting drunk with strangers!’ Amelia added.

‘Well,’ said Jane, ‘I’m glad you’re here, I haven’t had a good drink in a long time, and you seem like a nice girl.’

‘Thanks,’ Amelia beamed, ‘I like you too.’

They clinked glasses.

‘When you came in I thought, Oh god, Charlie’s picked up some bar skank to ruin the evening.’

‘Oh thanks,’ Amelia said.

‘No, I do like you.’

Jane looked at the pink wine in her glass and felt the warm feeling of alcohol swim around her body, I am drunk, she thought to herself.

A pan on the hob started bubbling over and Amelia went over to turn off the heat. Jane watched her with drunken eyes and felt mesmerized.

 

Outside, Charlie and Simon sat on the patio furniture. A small crate of stubby French beers sat ripped open on the table. Charlie was smoking a cigarette. Simon opened a small tin of Café Crème cigars. He took one out, studied it for a moment, and lit it with a match. They both sat there for a while just staring into the garden. Not because they had nothing to say, just because serene moments like these come too occasionally to ignore. Finally Simon spoke.

‘Apparently Ben Shepherd went on twitter after the interview yesterday and called you a massive cunt.’

This bought a smile to Charlie’s face.

‘And now he’s facing disciplinary action from ITV.’

Charlie laughed.

‘You know,’ Simon continued, ‘I don’t know why you don’t like him, I think he’s alright.’

Charlie ignored him. He sat there in his chair, trying to navigate his way through the complicated maze that is the drunken mind, hoping to find reason to confide in Simon about his daughter. It’s not really something he ever intended to keep from anyone he’s just never been able to talk about it.

‘Dinners ready!’ came an enthusiastic shout from inside, bringing Charlie, quite suddenly, away from his thoughts.

‘Come and get it!’

Simon and Charlie managed themselves out of the patio chairs and stumbled into the house with the exaggerated concentration of alcoholics and sat/fell into their designated seats around the dining room table.

Jane and Amelia had put on quite an exquisite dinner.  The lights had been dimmed and candles lit. A large roasted bird of some description, probably turkey, steamed tantalizingly in the centre of the table. Various delicate bowls held potatoes and vegetables. There were even two types of gravy. Put simply; all the stops had been pulled out.

‘Dig in,’ said Jane.

After a few moments of drunken slicing, dishing and spooning, plates were full and the cooked bird was now just bones. Jane poured the crisp white wine she had chosen specifically to complement the meal and a warm and friendly evening was about to begin. – That is how Jane’s mind perceived the whole thing anyway.

Charlie and Simon’s thoughts on the matter were slightly different. For instance the first thing both of them thought, thus proving they’re not so different after all, was “wow, that’s a big chicken”. Charlie’s second thought was “I want to undress and fuck Amelia right now on this table”. Simon’s second thought was “Is it me or is there some serious sexual chemistry between Amelia and my wife? Amelia is damn sexy though”.

Amelia did appreciate the food and the wine but her thoughts had been distracted. When Jane stood to fill everyone’s wine glasses Amelia noticed Jane’s legs, her perfect legs and her tight dress moving with her body so perfectly that every small movement became a luring dance of pure erotica. Since then she’s been finding it difficult to keep her eyes, or mind for that matter, on anything else.

‘I saw you on GMTV the other day, how exciting that your book is being made into a film!’ said Jane.

‘I’m only doing it because the director’s daughter invited me to her next slumber party,’ said Charlie.

‘Charlie, there are limits to what is acceptable, even for you. Specifically age limits!’ said Simon.

‘Calm down, she’s 23. And anyway I’m not going ahead with the film.’

Simon put his fork down.

‘What? You have to we’ve already signed the contracts. Even if you say you don’t want to they’ll still make it anyway. They already own the TV and Film rights to the book.’

‘They want Owen Wilson to play the main character!’ said Charlie.

‘I love Owen Wilson, he was so good in Marley and Me,’ said Jane.

‘Which is exactly why he’s wrong for the part, it’s not a book about a coy, soft spoken floppy haired bum! The guy in the book kills one of the Queen’s Corgis with a harp! Can you see Owen Wilson doing that?!’ said Charlie.

Amelia rested her hand on Jane’s leg.

‘I loved Marley and Me,’ she smiled, moving her hand gently.

Jane rested her hand on Amelia’s and looked up at her seductive smile. Images of new and forbidden pleasures filled her thoughts. She looked over at her middle aged husband. Anything sexually risqué with Simon seemed pretty unlikely. Ever again. She had been looking for something exciting to fill the daily boredom of life for some time and today the two and a half bottles of wine she had consumed were pleasantly nudging her in Amelia’s direction.

‘It won’t be Owen Wilson, or, it might not be, the filmmakers have agreed for you to be present at the casting auditions,’ said Simon.

‘Really? How did you swing that? You can’t even swing, a, err, a swing! HA!’ said Charlie.

‘And you call yourself a writer,’ muttered Simon.

‘Can I be in the film?’ asked Amelia.

‘Yes,’ said Charlie, without a thought.

‘Really?!’ she squealed.

Charlie took a silent moment to examine Amelia’s various talents; her mousy features and dark hair, her slightly tan skin, her perfectly crafted more-than-a-good-couple-of-handfuls-size breasts; her slim waist. His trousers began to tighten and he looked back up to her eyes; her big inviting eyes. He hadn’t realized until then how perfect she was.

‘She would have to audition,’ said Simon, knowing Charlie was probably serious.

‘When are the auditions?’ asked Charlie.

‘Tomorrow, didn’t you look at that schedule I gave you? It only had two things on it.’

‘Cool, come to the auditions tomorrow then, I know the perfect part for you!’

‘Eep!’ she squealed.

Jane clasped her hands in excitement for Amelia. Charlie increased the pressure to his stiffening penis; the power to choose the cast for his own film made parts of his brain ping with a new type of sexual ecstasy.

There really was a perfect part for Amelia.

‘Camille Tearheart,’ said Charlie, ‘she’s the Queen’s personal secretary. She’s also a double agent, a closet serial killer, and a sexual blackmailer.’

It’s a combination that doesn’t arise too often in fictional writing but the character, Camille Tearheart, has often been described as the most alluring character in the history of literature.

Simon’s mind wandered back to those most vivid and controversial passages of Charlie’s last novel. Most men keep that book close to a box of tissues and a self help book. It’s truly thrilling stuff.

Simon forced his mind back to the dinner table. The conversation had moved on now and it seemed like more time had passed than he’d realized. That’s the problem with Charlie’s writing; it really takes you somewhere your mind shouldn’t be allowed to go. It traps you, new taboos are formed and exploited, layout and plot beckon to the will of the characters darkest fantasies, his books take over you and force you to enjoy the most horrific of things with a feeling of joy and unnerving sexual pleasure. It is a confusing and wonderful experience. So when you remember a particular scene, like Simon just did, time slips away and doors to parts of the mind (that would disgrace even the darkest mind of any animated Disney teapot) open up and suck you in.

Simon finished off a glass of wine and ate a piece of potato soaked in gravy.

‘Why don’t you two ever go out together? It would do Simon the world of good to get out of the house occasionally,’ Jane was saying.

Amelia’s body had become a magnet to Jane’s body and mind and forces beyond her control were trying to get Charlie and Simon out of the house.

Simon frowned, ‘I like it here. I don’t need to go out and get drunk all the time.’

‘Why don’t you boys go and have a good lad’s night out this evening,’ said Jane, ‘You both deserve it.’

Simon took this with a pinch of salt.

‘You want me to go out with Charlie?’ he said.

He narrowed his eyes at her suspiciously.

‘Yes. Don’t worry, I trust you,’ said Jane.

‘You see what I said about her acting strange,’ he whispered to Charlie.

‘Strange is good. Come on, the Black Keys are playing a small gig at the Basement tonight. I can get us in.’

‘What about you two?’ asked Simon.

‘I think I’m in the mood for a more girly night tonight. It’s been nice having a girl around the house. I don’t think I’ve met a girl I can let my hair down with since my college days.’

‘I don’t know. Charlie what do you think?’

Charlie was already putting his jacket on, ‘About what?’

‘Going out.’

‘Yes. Let’s go.’

Charlie downed his wine and stood up. Simon noted Charlie’s eagerness and wondered why Jane seemed so suddenly happy about him going out with Charlie; the worst influence on the planet.

‘Ok. I guess. Where are we going? The cellar?’

‘The Basement.’

Charlie smiled at the girls and left the house.

‘Ok. I guess we’ll see you later,’ said Simon.

Simon gave Jane a quick peck on the cheek and then went out after Charlie.

‘Have fun!’ shouted Jane from the house.

Author Interview – W. T. Keeton

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W. T. KeetonQuestion 1: Who are you and what have you written (Most recent book, no synopsis).

I’m W. T. Keeton, and I write both science fiction and mystery/thrillers. My most recent release was The World of Erganna back on Feb. 1st.

Question 2: If you had to paint a portrait of any author who would it be?

I’d have to go with Chaucer. Mainly this is because of my limited artistic ability. I think even with my talent-level, I could manage to paint a guy who wore robes and a head scarf with his only distinguishing characteristic being a goatee.

Question 3: Why did you start writing?

I’ve been creating stories all my life, and at one point I wanted to draw comics. Eventually, however, sad circumstances interfered with that (mainly the aforementioned lack of artistic ability), so I just became an engineer instead. However, while that profession allows for massive amounts of technical and legal writing, there’s not much in the way of plot. So, writing novels is how I scratch that particular itch.

Kwestion 4: Where do you write? Do you have a shed like Roald Dahl, or a special room away from the other people in your house. Maybe you write at work when you should be working like that Terry Pratchett did. You should be careful, if your boss catches you you’re done for. Personally I write in my pajamas.

I began to answer this by saying I emulated Francisco Goya by working in a cave, and that the excess humidity was terrible for my laptop. However, that would not be true. In fact, I write in my bedroom or living room, often in the predawn hours of the morning before going to the office.

Question 5: Today a dog untied my shoe laces.

If you can get the dog do that trick repeatedly, you might just be sitting on a goldmine. That’s a how-to pet-training manual every dog person would buy.

Question 6: Do you think question 5 needs to be rephrased?

“How to Train a Dog to Untie Shoes….in Five Easy Steps!”

Question 7: Forget the last two questions.

Okay…but shouldn’t we go back to Question 5?

Question 5 (again): What is the most interesting thing you have learned recurrently?

One of the great things about writing is learning otherwise obscure facts during research. In this way, I’ve learned what life was like in 1991 Wichita, the detailed inner workings of the Irish Republican Army, tons about the ties between Siberian and Alaskan Inuit cultures, that plants are borderline sentient life forms, and much, much more.

Question 6: Have you experienced what psychologists call “The ultimate experience” ? Which is the frame of mind when you are writing and everything is flowing perfectly and the creative buzz is so great you lose track of time.

No, but I have experienced “the penultimate The World of Ergannaexperience”, so it probably won’t be long now. But seriously, for me this takes the form of characters “coming to life” and dictating to me how they will react. When this occurs, it is like interacting with another human being. In fact, given the old Gardner Fox theory of fiction and alternate earths, perhaps this “ultimate experience” is merely when dimensional walls become thin enough to “hear through” (like cheap apartment walls). Thus, we fiction writers are merely chroniclers of true-life events the next universe over.

Last question: Are you happy as a writer?

I’m happy as a writer, yes. There’s something very cathartic about sharing these people who live only inside my head (okay, maybe not just inside my head if Gardner Fox was right…).

***

W. T. Keeton’s, The World of Erganna is available now on Amazon.

Author Interview – James Blakley

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James Blakley AuthorQuestion 1: Who are you and what have you written (Most recent book, no synopsis).

I’m James, a fellow mystery writer who lives in The States, specifically Kansas. And my most recent novel is The Diamond Head Deception.

Question 2: If you had to paint a portrait of any author who would it be?

I’d probably do a self portrait. (lol) Not out of narcissism or solipsism, but because I was an assistant public librarian for over a decade, and as such had to constantly promote and protect hundreds of other authors’ writings. So, now it’s my turn to earn “15 minutes”, to borrow from Mr. Warhol.

Wuestion 3: Why did you start writing?

I started writing because that’s one of my talents. I began at about 7 years old, writing mostly action and adventure stories on notebook paper and illustrating them with colored pens or pencils. Then, I would staple the pages together and voila, I’d published a book! I wrote easily 100 such “paperbacks” into my early teens.

From 16 until my early 20’s, I wrote for and section edited my high school and college newspapers–and they were still paper back then, no online edition. I win local and national awards for journalism, but went into library work for nearly 12 years. I only picked up the pen again about 7 years ago and wrote a string of multicultural mystery novels.

Kwestion 4: Where do you write? Do you have a shed like Roald Dahl, or a special room away from the other people in your house. Maybe you write at work when you should be working like that Terry Pratchett did. You should be careful, if your boss catches you you’re done for. Personally I write in my pajamas.

I can write business reports on the job, not fiction. When fiction writing, I do it on off work and from an IPad, smartphone, laptop, or desktop. I even revert back to jotting down ideas on primitive paper with dead tree utensils called pencils. (lol)

Question 5: Today a dog untied my shoe laces.

That would’ve been a leading headline back in the day. Now, it would only lead if your dog laced them together so you would trip and fall and sue him in a court case that would get nationwide news coverage.

Question 6: Do you think question 5 needs to be rephrased?

SPECIAL BULLETIN: DOG UNTIES SHOES. OWNER SUES.

Question 7: Forget the last two questions.

What questions? (lol)

Question 5 (again): What is the most interesting thing you have learned recently? (I just heard about an animal called the Tree Kangaroo that lives in trees regardless of it being utterly inept for that way of life and so often falls out of trees. And they are f**ing adorable).

Redux: I’m currently writing a sci-fi novel. And in the course of preliminary research, I’ve discovered a creature whose survival skills and hideousness makes Ridley Scott’s “Alien” look like Jones the Cat. It’s called a “water bear” (technically, a tardigrade). This creature is found in extremes of heat, cold, and even radiation. The Swedes launched 2 species of these critters into an ESA rocket and launched them into orbit. After 10 days of exposure to the hazards of space, 3 specimens of the M. Tardigradum “microorganauts” survived and even hatched healthy eggs! Perfect food for sci-fi thought, wouldn’t you say?

Question 6: Have you experienced what psychologists call “The ultimate experience” ? Which is the frame of mind when you are writing and everything is flowing perfectly and the creative buzz is so great you lose track of time.

That intoxicating sense of writer’s bliss has consumed me many times. When I’m in “the zone”, to borrow the sports phrase, I don’t want to be anybody else. And yes, I’ve written hours on end that have lasted from sunrise to sunset..on weekends usually. (lol)

Last question: Are you happy as a writer?

And that leads perfectly into your last The Diamond Head Deceptionquestion: My happiness as a writer. I’m a peachy-keen writer because I don’t do it professionally. I’m not under pressure to keep up with what’s trendy and create characters and plots that are mimicry or outright rip offs. I can create a brainy American Indian heroine and pair her with a jewelry CEO who’s a Hawaiian hunk and not worry about alienating the WASP buying demographic (who has an embarrassment of representation riches anyway). I can go against tropes like HEA (happily ever after) that a traditional publisher would likely demand be included out of “tradition”.

Fiction writing may not pay the bills, Andrew, but it still gives me thrills. And that’s what it’s really all about…until Tinsel Town makes me an offer for one of my books that I can’t refuse. (lol)

***

James Blakley’s, The Diamond Head Deception is available now on Amazon

Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 3

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The rustle of a newspaper; the sound of two happy people sipping tea and spreading pâté on toast, the sun beaming down on the clean patio garden, the sleeping dog by their side. Simon and his wife couldn’t look like a happier couple if they tried. Actually they didn’t have a dog, I made that bit up, but they probably would have a dog if they had it their way. If they did have a dog it would probably be called Ruffles or something, which is why I’m not letting them have one.

‘Poor Charlie,’ said Jane looking up from her paper, ‘Why do the papers make him out to be such a bad guy.’

Simon stared at her, ‘We are talking about Charlie Deavon aren’t we?’

‘I know he swore on TV, and I’m not saying I agree with that, but I’m sure he’s really a nice guy at heart.’

Simon’s stare was unmoved.

‘Charlie Deavon; hates people, drinks too much, smokes too much, swears too much, sleeps too much, arrogant, offensive, demanding… are we talking about the same man?’

She ignored him, as most people seem to, and carried on regardless.

‘In the paper it says he’s a disgrace to mankind. It says that young people should stop looking up to him like some kind of idol and that his books are only successful because they’re controversial.’

Simon considered this for a moment, ‘They’re right on most of those points but you have to give him credit, the quality of his writing is always a pleasant shock.’

Jane folded her paper and put it down.

‘We should invite him round for dinner.’

‘No.’

‘Oh why not, it will be fun.’

‘It really won’t, he can’t behave himself.’

‘He’s not a child Simon, I think he acts the way he does because he’s lonely.’

‘No, he acts the way he does for attention.’

Jane folded her arms.

‘Invite him round for dinner tonight, I’ll go out and get something nice.’

‘Are you really going to make me do this?’

‘Yes.’

‘I’ll ask but he won’t want to come.’

‘Thank you, it will be fun.’

 

Charlie was sitting on his couch staring at the courgette he had just pinned to the wall with a hunting knife. The phone rang. He looked at the phone for a moment and then picked it up without saying anything.

‘Charlie? Are you there?’

‘Yep.’

‘Jane and I were wondering if you would like to come over for dinner tonight?’

‘I stabbed a courgette today.’

‘You did?’

‘Do you think that’s normal?’

‘Not really.’

‘Do you think I was wrong to swear on TV?’

‘Since when do you care about that kind of thing?’

‘I wonder if my parents still care. Do you know you’re the only person I talk to? I don’t know a single person other than you.’

‘I don’t know what to say.’

‘And I haven’t had a drink for nearly two days. I don’t like being sober.’

‘You get used to it. Are you coming over for dinner tonight?’

Charlie stared at the courgette, which for him, at this moment in time, made him question his life, ‘Ok, I think that might be good for me.’

‘Ok. Come over for about 7:30.’

Charlie hung up the phone and looked at the mess in his apartment.

‘I need a drink.’

 

Simon put the phone back in its receiver.

‘What did he say?’ asked Jane.

‘He said yes.’

‘I told you he would come.’

‘Something’s wrong with him.’

‘Why what did he say?’

Simon sat down.

‘I think he said he’s lonely.’

‘See, I told you he was lonely,’ said Jane, a bit too smugly.

‘Well, he didn’t actually say it, but… I don’t know, something’s wrong.’

‘We can talk to him about it tonight. Does he have any allergies? He’s not vegetarian is he?’

‘No and no. Don’t go over the top with it tonight, just keep it simple.’

‘Don’t worry, Simon.’

 

Charlie rummaged through his drawers trying to find something to drink. He found a bottle of vodka with less than a gulp left in it. He drank it anyway. He opened a box; one of many that he is yet to unpack, and a picture fell out and landed on the floor beside him. He picked it up and looked at it. ‘Claire’ he said to himself. He sat against the sofa and stared at the picture. It was a photo of a young blonde haired girl wearing a summer dress. Ten years, he thought.

Charlie almost screwed up the photo out of a mixture of anger and love. He dropped the photo and let his head fall into his hands. He ran his hands through his hair and picked the picture back up. He put the photo in his pocket and left his apartment slamming the door behind him.

 

Charlie got to the bar and ordered before the barman had a chance to acknowledge him.

‘Whisky!’

‘Single or double?’

‘Bottle.’

‘I don’t think I can.’

Charlie took two fifty pound notes out of his wallet and threw them at the barman. The barman looked over to his manager for advice, his manager shrugged. The barman took the bottle out of the optic and gave it to Charlie. Charlie grabbed it and filled up his glass. He downed half of it and took out a cigarette.

‘You’ll have to smoke outside.’

Charlie stared at the barman to see if he was joking and then remembered the recent smoking ban, of several years ago.

‘Fucking smoking ban,’ he said, picking up his bottle.

He went outside to the smoking area. He sat as far out of the way as he could and lit his cigarette. He began to relax and poured a second glass.

A girl’s voice interrupted his solitude.

‘Charlie Deavon?’

Charlie looked up, ‘Oh, God, help me.’

‘It’s you isn’t it? Charlie Deavon!’

‘No.’

‘Yes it is! I am your biggest fan!’

She sat next to him.

‘What you doin’ here?’

‘Drinking.’

‘I’m Amelia,’ she said.

‘I don’t care.’

‘Can I drink with you?’

This time he took a good look at her. She’s about twenty years of age, nice figure, fairly classy, brunette, definitely attractive… slightly drunk.

‘What are you doing tonight?’ He asked.

‘I’m free, are you asking me back to yours?’ She replied flirtatiously.

‘How do you feel about dinner?’

‘Sure.’

‘Good we’ll leave in an hour, go and get yourself a glass.’