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.

Expunging Life


Here comes the awful thing.

It was stuck, but now it’s free.

Trapped in the silk.


The paper colony, wasted

A city of would-be men

In a crumpled page


Flush the city of worms

The tadpole manly things

Searching the U-bend


No eggs in there my friends

Death to the millions

That could be anything


Except people. Or much else.

The Romance of Unluv

Unluv Lobster

The drama of life doesn’t start at birth. Nor does it start with your first love. No, the drama of life starts in your parent’s bedroom. That one glorious squirt that resulted (on this occasion) in the 42 year-old man before me.

Unluv – that was his name – a miserable, hateful, fuckup with all the compassion and charisma of a dead horse at a dressage recital.

It was Valentine’s Day, 2016. Me; a single female human with breasts and hair; lips, ears, all the trimmings; you know the sort of thing, a woman with little care for her own appearance. I had given up. 35 and dating weird wash-ups like this guy.

He looked at me over his steaming lobster. Not a stare. No smile. Just a blank face with two eyes in the middle of it.

‘Enjoying your lobster?’ I said. He looked down at it and then back up at me. ‘Okie dokie then,’ I said.

The waiter came over and offered for me to taste the wine. I nodded and smiled. The waiter poured a splash into my glass and Unluv shot his arm across the table and took the glass from in front of me and the bottle from the waiter. He poured a proper glass. I glared at him, although really, I kind of liked his fed-up with life attitude.

‘Fuck off,’ he said to the waiter.

We drank. We ate.

His whole name was Jason Tolstoy Unluv. He wasn’t Russian (so he told me) he said his parents were lunatics who dedicated their lives to fucking with him in as many ways as possible.

His name fit though. I wondered if it’s a coincidence that he’s completely loveless, and unlovable, or if his name has dictated his outlook on life in some way. Nominative determinism in action.

I began to find his total absence of being, his total lack of any kind of reality, his inhumane quietness, weirdly endearing.

He picked up his lobster with one hand and turned it. He looked into its face. The lobster was dead, but this action seemed to give the lobster more life than Unluv had. He put it back down again and with the same hand picked up his knife and stabbed it. He let go of the knife and it stayed there, sticking out of its back like a flag. He watched it mournfully.

‘More wine?’ I said.

He didn’t answer.

You know, getting fellas is not something I’ve ever been particularly successful at. I could go to a night club right now and wave my tits in some lads face and he would run a mile. I could even try a more subtle approach, but it would make little difference. Men are repelled by me. Maybe, if I want to get laid, I should start slinging snatch. You know what I mean? Like a gunslinger who shoots from the groin. The funny thing is no one in their right mind would fuck me just because I came on to them in a bar but if you tell a guy you’re charging they will not only give you that impersonal bang you’ve been gagging for, but pay you for it afterwards. That’s why most street hookers resemble alcoholic vending-machines in drag while that pretty girl at the bar is single. The human condition, at least in men, is in no condition at all.

I think a shag with Unluv, although not particularly appealing, is probably on the cards. It’s like he knows that to get in to a girls panties you must first dine them. So that’s what this is. That explains why he isn’t doing anything. It’s mechanical. He waits for me to feed myself, we go for a walk, he stands awkwardly outside my house waiting for the code word that means fucking; ‘coffee?,’ and up we go for some unpleasant wooden rutting.

He pulled the knife out of the lobster and dropped it on the plate. It made that awful clanging sound that makes my teeth want to escape into my scull.

I watched him pick the lobster back up and break it in half. I drank my second glass of wine – my lobster was already gone, cake is coming – and looked at him more closely. He had large shoulders and the possibility of a firm chest under his jumper. His jumper was green. An unflattering colour for most. Most things would be unflattering on Unluv. A brief image flashed into my mind of grasping those big shoulders while he pounds into me. I cross my legs under the table. He looks up at me and I dry up.

His eyes are strong. His hair is thick and matted.

He used his desert spoon to dig out the insides of the lobster on to his plate and then ate it with his big hands.

I leaned the wine bottle towards me and looked into it. I knew it was empty but we all know what these gestures mean. Hunched over his plate clumsily eating his white meat he watched me check the bottle with a movement of his brow.

He licked the butter from his fingers and stopped a waiter who was walking by.

He spoke sternly and to the point. If he had ordered the waiter to kill for him he probably would have done it.

When the waiter returned he had two portions of chocolate cake and another bottle of wine. Chocolate and white wine together is essentially disgusting but we managed it.

When the cake was crumbs and the wine was gone Unluv stood. He dropped a few notes on the table and pulled his jacket off the back of the chair. I got the message.

Outside, the sky was black and clear. There were only three stars and the moon was absent. It was cold. Unluv walked half a pace ahead of me. I held my jacket tightly around me as I hurried along after him.

He turned into an off-licence. The bell rang his entrance. He bought 20 cigarettes and a bottle of vodka. Not Russian my arse.

He lit a cigarette and left it in his mouth. I had never seen anyone smoke a whole cigarette without taking it out of his mouth before. When he was done he either swallowed it or spat it out, I didn’t see it happen so I can’t be sure, but his hands remained in his pocket the whole walk back. I watched him as we walked, me lagging slightly behind. He had a broad back and a walk that told the world to back the fuck off.

We stopped outside my house and he looked at me under his heavy brow.

‘Coffee?’ I said.

He walked up the steps to my front door and tried the handle. I walked up and squeezed in front of him and unlocked the door.

In the kitchen I got two glasses out and he filled them with vodka. He lit another cigarette and picked up the glasses. He watched me. I would say expectantly but it wasn’t. He just watched me. Even so, I took his base body language to mean, ‘We’re drinking these in your bedroom.’

Valentine’s day; for the single woman you feel like a Jew at Christmas. It’s shit and depressing. If you were Jewish and people wished you a happy Christmas regardless of your fake sideburns I bet you’d wish you could stab them with you seven candled Menorah, and shout, ‘Happy Hanukkah you fucking moron!’

There should be a Valentine’s Day for single people. It should be called Sunday (this year at least).

We fucked. He squirted. Nine months later I gave birth to a lump of wood with a granite face. Happy Sunday you fucking morons!