Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 6

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?’


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.


Keep nodded and got two bottles out of the fridge.


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Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 5

‘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.’


‘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!’


‘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.


‘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.

Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 4

‘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.


‘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.

Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 3

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.’


‘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?’


‘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?’


‘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.


‘Single or double?’


‘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!’


‘Yes it is! I am your biggest fan!’

She sat next to him.

‘What you doin’ here?’


‘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?’


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

Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 2

Knock, Knock, Knock. Simon waited for a few seconds.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

Inside Charlie’s apartment something stirred under a bed sheet.

Bang! Bang! Bang! ‘Charlie!’

Charlie opened his eyes, a little confused and world weary thanks to a large bottle of Jack Daniels the night before.

Bang! Bang! Bang! ‘Charlie! Open the door!’

Charlie sat up and climbed out of his bed.


‘Shut up! I’m coming.’

Charlie un-chained the door and opened it. Simon Squeezed past him and went straight to the kitchen.

‘What?’ Charlie demanded wearily.

‘It’s Tuesday, we have to be at the studio in an hour.’

Charlie’s face tried to respond and failed, so far only his legs, eyes, part of his brain and at least one of his arms was completely awake. He tried speech ‘nmph?’

‘GMTV. I’ve got you three cups of coffee, drink this.’

Charlie took the coffee.

‘And a bacon and egg sandwich,’ continued Simon.


‘Eat your sandwich and get in the shower, I’ve got you a new shirt and some razors.’

‘You’re ever so nice.’

‘I know, now get in the shower.’

Simon edged him toward the shower and gave him his second coffee as he entered and closed the door behind him.

‘Make sure you shave!’

‘Alright, stop shouting.’


Fifteen minutes later the shower door opened and out came Charlie. To Simon’s astonishment he actually looked close to presentable.

‘Right, you look good, let’s go.’

‘Wait, wait… wait.’


Charlie looked around his room and grabbed his keys, a small cantina and half a cigarette out of the ash tray.



In the underground car park Simon unlocked his car. Charlie looked at him with an expression like pity.

‘What are you doing?’ said Charlie.

‘Getting in the car.’

‘We’re not taking your car we’re taking mine.’

‘Really?’ Simon ran a disapproving eye over the trashed vehicle, ‘why don’t you buy a proper car?’

Charlie composed himself and prepared his fragile mind for coherent conversation.

‘It’s not about how new and shiny a car is that makes a car great. I’m not getting in your car; it has no handbrake and no keyhole, so in my book it’s not even a car. Having no keyhole is like a woman having no vagina.’

‘Charlie it’s a modern car, this button is the hand brake, and it doesn’t have a keyhole because you start it with a button.’

‘Your sexless freak of a car is the automobile equivalent of a blonde-tipped, spiky haired prick with no penis, whereas my fucked up little Jaguar is the car equivalent of dishevelled rough sex.’

Simon closed his car door and got obediently into Charlie’s.


Concise and in control is how Charlie would describe his driving. Most others would describe it as erratic, dangerous, fast, and suicidal. Neither is right, he actually drives in a way that is both oblivious to other road users and apparently, as he has never crashed, safer than flying. In-fact, his record is so clean that being driven by Charlie is statistically safer than driving. It is frightening nonetheless.

Charlie spoke loudly over the sound of the engine.

‘Now your wife has a good taste in cars.’

Simon looked at him suspiciously.

‘How do you know what my wife drives?’

Charlie took no notice.

‘A 1971 British Leyland pick-up 4×4. Cool car.’

‘I’ve never introduced you.’

‘It even has a damn snorkel and a roll cage!’


Charlie looked at the slightly panic stricken face of his agent.

‘Not getting paranoid are we Simon? She dropped a box of books to my last book signing. You weren’t in so she offered.’

‘She’s been acting strange recently, that’s all.’

‘Of course she’s acting strange, she’s a woman. It’s when she starts acting normal you have to worry. It is a cool car though.’

‘It’s not hers her dad left it to her.’

‘Simon, fucking relax.’

‘You’re right. I’ll start acting like you shall I? Get drunk for days on end, eat shit, swear at everyone?’

Charlie pulled the car up outside the studio and stopped the engine.

‘Sure, if you want to.’

‘I wasn’t agreeing with you.’


Charlie gave him a friendly pat on the back.

‘You know, it’s a pretty easy life, just doing what you want.’

‘Yes, I’m sure.’


A man in a suit was waiting by the entrance of the studio. He noticed Charlie and Simon and waved them over.

‘Ok, that’s the producer. He’ll brief you before you go on. You must do what he tells you. Marcus, how are you!’ Simon called from a distance.

Marcus ushered them to hurry up.

‘Simon, I didn’t think you were going to make it,’ said Marcus.

‘It’s nice to see you again,’ said Simon.

‘And Charlie,’ said Marcus turning to Charlie, ‘I’m a big fan of your work, very funny stuff, glad to have you on the show.’

Charlie considered this interesting critique of his work and replied dryly, ‘My next book is about a blind alcoholic orphan. She gets raped by a ghost and spends most of the story sitting in a dark room swearing at the walls until she finally dies of aids.’

The good thing about people like Marcus, or anyone who has a job that involves holding a clip board and having a wire leading to your ear with people telling you to tell someone else to hurry up, is that they never really hear anything anyone says to them. This is why his response to Charlie’s reply was, ‘Looking forward to it. The green room is on the right. The makeup girl will be with you in a few moments.’

Charlie looked at him like a wizard looks at a clown.

‘I fucked your dad,’ he said.



Charlie sat in the green room staring at the mirror.



‘Do you really think people who watch GMTV actually want to read my books?’


‘The only people who want to read my books are either drunk students or bored serial killers.’

The makeup girl came in wearing a short mini skirt and a low cut top. I would describe her in more detail but I’m not sure it’s necessary.


To Simon’s initial relief Charlie seemed to be behaving himself on set. He answered the questions well with a light sense of humour and gave witty anecdotes about how the book was written. He even offered to sign a copy for the interviewer, Ben Shepherd. (It later transpired that Charlie had just drawn a picture of a penis with a smiley face on the tip and the word BEN in big letters along the shaft). The segment came to a close with a final question.

‘Thank you for coming on the show. We’re all big fans. What do you have planned for the rest of the day?’

Charlie smiled and said, ‘I think I’m going to fuck your makeup girl.’

Ben went red.

‘Err… sorry about that ladies and gentleman. We’ll see you after this short break.’


Charlie and Simon hurried back to the green room to get their things and get out before the producer had a chance to come down on them.

‘What the hell is wrong with you?!’ said Simon.

‘What? He was asking for it.’

‘How does Ben Shepherd “ask for it”? He’s the most unthreatening man on TV!’

‘He said he was a fan of my book.’

‘How is that a bad thing?’

‘He’s never read the book.’

‘How do you know that?’

‘It’s Ben Shepherd! He’s never read any book! He would struggle with The Very Hungry Caterpillar!’


‘Exactly!’ Said Charlie.

‘You won’t be allowed on ITV again and the BBC probably won’t have you.’

‘I don’t really care.’


Tripping the Night Fantastic – Chapter 1

A monster, of indescribable horror – ravaged by booze and lack of sleep – sat at his laptop. Charlie Deavon; an unholy disgrace, stained shirt, stained boxer shorts, wild hair, harassed unshaved face, a dying cigarette hanging from his mouth, and on his desk beside his laptop, the potion that keeps his appearance so ruggedly shambolic; a half dry bottle of scotch.

The room was dark and his tired nicotine-aged face was lit up from the light of the monitor. He took a final drag from his cigarette and dropped it in a half empty glass of whisky where it turned grey and died with its two dead cigarette companions.

The cursor blinked. Only six words were on the screen:

Amelia Heart, is going to die.

 More words try to find their way to Charlie’s fingers but fail miraculously. Not because he has writer’s block, he is just a lazy drunk with no appreciation for deadlines; a common ailment for many writers.

He turned his head and stared impassively at his bed in the other room. He looked back at the monitor for a moment, made a sound like ‘mph’ and then closed the lid. He managed to slump from his study to his bedroom and land on his bed with less effort than is possible to describe.

His bed was a stained mattress on a carpet-less floor. The wallpaper was old and nicotine stained. The ceiling lights didn’t have light shades and the curtain was an old damp towel slowly getting heavier with mould.

The digital clock on the floor blinked slowly. He turned his head and looked at it, unsure if his eyes were tired, hung-over, still drunk or simply still closed. He could just about make out the time; 6:30am. He stared at the ceiling.

3 hours later the alarm went off. Not a nice tune or the radio, just a beeping drone. A few dramatic moments later and the towel landed heavily on the lawn outside followed by a shower of glass. Inside the towel the alarm clock beeped lamely on. A neighbour shouted the word ‘cunt’ in Charlie’s direction. Charlie stood naked in the smashed window. He showed his neighbour his middle finger and then headed into the kitchen.

The kitchen occupies the same space as his lounge. The fridge consists of one rasher of bacon, three cans of beer, four empty cans of beer and a courgette. In the cupboard are one can of beans, a full packet of pasta, a packet of custard creams (half empty), some tea bags, a jar of coffee, and a pile of newspapers. In the toaster is a failed experiment; it turns out that it is not quicker to cook an omelette in a toaster. In-fact it takes longer and is far more dangerous.

After several minutes of staring at the courgette, and wondering where it came from, he slammed the fridge door and stared blankly over at the laptop for a minute. He opened the cupboard again, stared for a while, and then came to a decision and grabbed the closest things to his hand. Tea with a spoon of coffee and a packet of biscuits would be today’s breakfast.  He sat on his couch and wondered once again why he doesn’t own a TV. He leaned back to reach for the half-full bottle of scotch on his desk, nearly knocking it over, and poured some into his coffee/tea. He made a sound ‘urghmph’ and had a sip of his brew.

A phone started ringing. A slight dread fell over Charlie’s brain. This ringing sound meant he would have to impart some brain activity, some physical movement, and finally speech. Three things he had absolutely no interest in doing. He looked left and then right and then down. He dug it from under him and looked at it. He answered it and put it to his ear.



‘Charlie! It’s Simon, what are you doing today?’


Charlie stared at his tea/coffee/scotch and wondered if he’d rather talk to that instead.

‘When can I come over and see a few pages?’ said Simon.


‘Ok. I’m coming over. I’ll bring Starbucks and some food.’

‘Fuck off Simon.’




Ring Ring.

‘Charlie, I’m in Subway, what sandwich do you want?’

‘Don’t come to my house.’

‘I’m having a Foot-long Meatball Sub, I’ll choose something for you shall I?’

‘I’m not letting you in when you get here.’

‘I need to see you.’

‘Fine. I’m coming to your office. If I get there before you I’m going to dismantle your desk.’





Simon put his phone back in his pocket, gave the girl behind the counter £10, and grabbed the sandwiches. He checked his genuine Rolex watch and ran outside and across the road to his car.



Charlie left his apartment and stumbled haphazardly into the bright offensive sunlight outside. He shielded his eyes from the day’s carelessly cheery mood and got in to his car.

Charlie’s car is a 1993 V12 Jaguar XJ-S. Its dark blue paint is faded from years in the sun, the passenger door is a faded race-car green colour from where it was replaced but never re-painted, the rear bumper is held on by wire ties, the air conditioning doesn’t work and only the driver side window goes down without requiring a mechanic to get it back up again. But the CD player works and the engine starts with the kind of rumbling purr that makes your heart fill your lungs.

Charlie sat in the driver’s seat. This is one of the only times during Charlie’s normally miserable day when his smile is actually genuine. Even the dry heavy feeling of a hangover takes a back seat while pure juvenile pleasure takes over for a while. This is Charlie’s perfect car.  The engine misfired causing the exhaust to vomit black smoke and the car turned a corner and drove off towards Simon’s office.



Simon parked in the underground car park of his office. He slammed the door of his brand new white Audi A4 and made for the fifth floor as fast as he could. His secretary was sitting at her desk looking slightly violated. Simon sent a questioning glance her way which was returned with a worried look towards his office door, which was slightly ajar. Simon relaxed and prepared for the worst.

He edged the door open and looked inside. Everything seemed in order. He looked to his right. Charlie was sitting on one of the comfortable chairs against the wall in his office with a smile on his face. Simon looked suspiciously at him and sat down behind his desk.

Charlie had his right foot resting on his left knee in the most nonchalant way imaginable. His boot-cut jeans were torn around the heel of his scuffed brown shoes. Three buttons remained un-fastened on his shirt, the sleeves were half rolled up in a way that suggests the wearer couldn’t care less if they were up or down and, although his shirt isn’t tucked in, you could just make out a brown leather belt being held tight by a pretty average and uneventful belt buckle. Simon looked suspiciously around the room. Charlie spoke.

‘I pissed in your plant.’

Simon looked over at the plant and then back at Charlie.

‘I got you a turkey Sub,’ he said, handing it to him.

‘What do you have in yours?’


‘Give me yours.’


Charlie stared at him.

Simon gave in.

‘We can split it,’ said Simon.

Simon gave Charlie half of his Sub and took half of Charlie’s. Simon took a bite out of his and decided now was the best time to talk.

‘Mm, So, mmph, how many err, pages have you done?’

‘You’re the reason I hate people,’ said Charlie.

Simon swallowed.

‘I don’t mind if you haven’t written very much, I just need to see what you have written.’

‘If you carry on being nice to me I swear to god I’m going to kill you.’

‘Charlie, I’ve arranged an interview with GMTV for next week, they want to talk about the film deal and re-release of your first book and they’re really eager to hear what your plans are for your next book. And there will be some fans there so take a pen so you can sign things.’

‘I’m serious. I will throw you through the fucking window. I know there’s a bastard in there somewhere!’

‘Come on, Charlie, stop being a twat.’

‘Oh! Simon! That’s more like it! Come on, touch me.’

Charlie lifted his shirt and twiddled his nipple with a finger.

‘No. Are you finished?’

Charlie folded his arms.

‘I haven’t written anything,’ he said.

‘I know.’


‘You’re always like this when you can’t write.’

‘I can write. It’s just the lack of plot that’s the problem. And the lack of characters. Just the lack of book in general is the problem. What’s the rush anyway?’

‘If you’re off the shelf for too long people will forget about you.’


Charlie opened a bottle of scotch from Simon’s alcohol cabinet and poured two glasses.

‘Are you finished for the day?’ he asked.

‘No, Charlie, it’s 10am.’

‘We’re going to the pub for a business meeting about drunks,’ Charlie smiled ridiculously at his own infantile sense of humour.


‘Stop being a fucking cunt and drink with me! I’m shit bored and hanging out with you here is making me more bored so if we have to spend time together you have to be pissed! That’s the rule from now on. Ok?’


Charlie put a glass of scotch down in front of Simon and downed his own.

‘Charlie, I have a lot of work to do.’

Charlie put on his best Simon impression, which sounds more like Bugsy Malone than Simon, and shouted.

‘Receptionist, hold my calls! I’m going to be away from my office for the rest of the day!’

Charlie, feeling pretty proud of himself, looked smugly at Simon. Simon looked wilfully back.

Amanda poked her head into the office.

‘Do you want me to hold your calls?’

Simon threw what was left of his sandwich in the bin and brushed bits of sandwich off his shirt.

‘Yes, hold my calls, thank you.’

‘HA!’ exclaimed Charlie, feeling victorious.

Amanda left the office without looking at Charlie.

Simon picked up a schedule from his desk and walked over to Charlie.

‘I’m giving you a schedule, there are only two things on it, GMTV and casting auditions for the film, I need you to remember them.’

‘You’re not coming to the pub are you?’

‘I’ll pick you up on Tuesday morning at 6am for GMTV, please try to be awake.’

‘I make no promises.’


Charlie left the office and wandered around the building for a couple of hours trying to find something interesting to do or disrupt but no one took much notice of him. A receptionist gave him a funny look when the elevator opened to reveal Charlie’s rear mooning at her. A security guard told him he wasn’t allowed to beg on the premises, and an old writer friend stopped him to congratulate him on the success of his last novel to which Charlie replied, ‘Go fuck your book’. Finally he went home to immerse himself in his favourite, if only, past time; drinking.