Friday, 29 August 2014

Better Days

True is it that we have seen better days. 
-As You Like It, Shakespeare

Me, I'm customer focused, that translates to I wanna make money. So when one of my regulars told me there was a market for parties for older swingers, I was in like Flynn.
Wednesday afternoons, tea & cake instead of wine & nibbles.
Hundreds of the buggers turned up well 15 - 20 couples every week.
They aren't welcome at the other parties, their saggy bits & wrinkles scare the young & beautiful away.
Me, I don't care, it's all more money for me & I ain't gonna watch.


Here is the picture prompt.  Please credit it if you use it on your own blog.

Here is the quote

Your rules are really beginning to annoy me

- Escape from LA

'Rules, smules' bitched Joey 'For chrissakes Vinnie, we was hired to steal the box, lets just fecking steal it'
Vinnie patted the air placatingly, 'Joey, Joey, have I ever steered you wrong? Have you done any time in clink since you started working for me? ' 'No you haven't, I've planned every job and we've got away every time'
'He's right' said Mac 'We've got away every time, the cops have known it's us but never pinned anything on us'
'OK, OK' said Joey 'But that's cos we've followed Vinnie's plans, not some crackpot client who thinks this box holds holy relics' 'It's like one of those stupid games my sisters used to play, turning round & throwing apple peel'  'We're bank robbers, not a bunch of stupid prom queens'
Vinnie had to agree, it did seem stupid to chant some idiotic verse before touching the box, they'd got past the security measures, they should just grab the box and run, but Vinnie had been spooked by the client's insistence.
'Lets just do as he asked' ' form a circle & repeat after me'
'Bollocks to that' shouted Joey and reached out to grab the box.
There was an almighty flash of light, so bright they were all blinded by it.
By the time they could see properly again they were in separate interview rooms each spilling their guts, unable to stop confessing to every crime they had ever committed.
'Guv, you best get down here' said DI Watson, 'This is seriously weird'
'Look at their faces, they look horrified at what their doing, they seem to be trying not to talk, it's like a compulsion'
'Where are their briefs' asked DCI Johnson
'We offered' said DI Watson 'They all refused to have a solicitor present, they demanded to confess' 'But looks at their faces, they don't seem o be able to stop themselves'
DCI Johnson smirked 'Watson, I don't give a flying feck why they are confessing, just get the bastards locked up, our crime figures are gonna look fantastic this month'

Friday, 22 August 2014

Shopping list

Image by Ed Webster and sourced from Wiki Commons under Creative Commons
When I saw this prompt it made me think of a shopping list

I don't bother with a written shopping list, I buy the same things every week.
This is how I earn money to pay the bills. 

10 bottles red
10 bottles white
Case of lager
Case lemonade
French sticks
Assorted cheese
1 gross condoms
3 packs wet wipes

Do the assistants think I'm a middle age,  alcoholic, sex maniac? Occasionally one of them makes a comment 'Having a party?' I just smile & pay the bill.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Lottery Numbers

Lyssa Medana

I check the lottery numbers religiously every Wednesday & Saturday, not the Tuesday & Friday ones, they don't count.

I note the numbers down in a little book, waiting, watching for a pattern to emerge.

My workmates tease me 'You need to check the numbers against your ticket' they say 'not just write them down in a book' .

I smile at them, they are nice enough, not malicious, they just don't understand.

Night after night I pore over the numbers working out all the variables, there must be a pattern, there must. Sometimes a pattern begins to emerge but it fades away when more numbers are added. Still I continue to work on them, to study them.

I have a girlfriend, her name is Maddie, she's what my mum would describe a as 'One o' them hippy dippys'.

She listens when I tell her about the numbers, but I'm not sure she believes me. Mind you, I don't always believe her when she tells me that my aura keeps changing colour.

Eventually I find the pattern I've been looking for & everything falls in to place.

The following day I give my notice in at work. I don't tell them the truth, well I do, sort of, 'I'm going travelling, with Maddie'. I get teased a lot, jokes about taking plenty of condoms, I just smile, they don't understand.

I meet up with Maddie in the town centre, she's carrying a rucksack. 'Why'd you bring that' I said 'I told you, you won't need anything'. She starts to argue, so I let her bring it, she'll see when we get there.

We catch the bus out of town & when we got off we start to walk, it's a good hour or two & Maddie starts to complain that her feet are hurting & she needs to rest. We stop for a while but then set off again,we mustn't be late.

The time & the place were quite clear, we have to be punctual. I wonder if anyone else will be there, if anyone else has seen the messages.

But no, we were the only two there, unless, I panicked, we were late & they'd all gone.

We wait in strained silence, what if I've got it wrong, what if we've missed them.

Darkness falls, Maddie starts to grumble, suddenly she falls silent, a bright light appears, accompanied by a thrumming noise.

I was right, they are here, Maddie & I are lifted up in a beam of light.

Suddenly we are inside, a voice speaks 'Welcome, enter the door ahead, there you will meet with the others who were able to work out the patterns & follow the clues'.

We enter a large room, there are about a dozen people there, all smiling & chatting together.

The voice speaks again 'We will arrive in Alpha Centauri in a few hours, until then make yourselves at home'.

Maddie stares, open mouthed, 'You didn't believe me when I said I was getting messages from outer space, did you' I reach over & gently shut her mouth.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Chair

Image courtesy of the Wiki collection of Commons Images
It was a miserable damp day, as miserable as my mood, I'd just finished the interview & been told I hadn't been successful,it wasn't that I wanted the job, but I needed it desperately. I was sick to death of spending all day in my grubby little bedsit & I needed to earn some regular money, the odd few days temping I was getting wasn't enough to survive on for long. Unfortunately it's hard  to get a job wahen you are over 50 & when your skills are also outdated.

I had an hour to kill before the bus home, I toyed with the idea of sitting in a warm cafe & making a coffee last an hour, but I'd only be tempted to buy something to eat. It would be cheaper to wait 'til I got home & make a cup of instant coffee & toast.

I wandered into an arcade full of antique shops, it was warm & I wouldn't be tempted to buy anything. As I edged between the various items I felt an imperious tug on my skirt, like a spoiled child, demanding attention. I turned, my skirt seemed to be caught on a small slightly tattered chair, I stepped away, untangled my skirt & moved on. Once again I felt the same imperious tug, I turned again, this time I put my arm on the back of the chair. As I did, I felt a strange frisson, like a mild electric shock, I jumped back & then reached out again, this time a stronger jolt 'Buy me' it demanded. I took a longer, more careful look at the chair, it had originally been beautiful, small & low, pale blue embroidered silk.
I looked for the price, but couldn't find it, an elderly man materialised at my elbow. 'Such a shame, it must have been beautiful when it was first made'. I agreed with him. 'Are you interested in antiques?' 
'I like looking' I replied, 'but I'm not in a position to buy anything'.
The elderly man tried to change my mind & eventually I opened my purse & showed him the contents. 'This is all I have, look less then £4!'
He grabbed £1 coin, 'Done' he exclaimed!
'I can't pay you just £1, even in it's current state, it's worth much more'
'I'll make a deal with you' he said 'I think this chair will bring you luck & make your fortune, if I'm correct, you can pay me when you make your first million'.
Nothing I could say would change his mind & eventually I left the shop carrying the chair.
I haven't made a million yet, but I'm half way through my second novel &  every time I touch the chair I get that same frisson, the same jolt & with it inspiration for yet another plot line.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

He travels the fastest that travels alone

He travels the fastest that travels alone 
- Rudyard Kipling

Today's offering for the Light & Shade Challenge

He called it his motto. The phrase from Rudyard Kipling, "He travels fastest that travels alone". It was just his excuse to run away. Whoever he was living with he He kept a bag with his passport, money, and a change of clothes in a prominent place in the hall way. It seemed to work, women seemed to fall over themselves to prove to him they they were 'the one'.
This one scared him, so he did what he always did, he ran.
When he arrived at the hotel in a new country, he realised he'd been right to be scared.
Hea opened his bag to find, not his clothes, but hers and no money. And a note. 'Got You'

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Not This Way

Photo by Thomas Marlow
My take on this prompt from the Light and Shade Challenge

Bill sat in the land-rover, the signs he'd just removed had been stacked under a tarp in the store room along with the tin of black paint. There would be plenty of time to replace them later when the 'bonding session' ended. He'd be very careful, after all, he didn't want to go back to prison again, even if this time it would be for a crime he had committed. 
Bill checked his watch, time to go to the station to collect this weeks 'victims' it wouldn't do to be late, he's been very lucky to get this job with Chiltern Corporate Training and it was all down to his little sister, she'd persuaded her husband who owned CCT to give him a chance, a job, when he was released from prison. As she'd explained, it was a white collar crime he'd committed, he'd got carried away in the testosterone fuelled atmosphere of city banking. He felt he'd had more to prove then the other guys, they'd all gone to the right schools and belonged to the right clubs. He was just a council house boy made good and the butt of many jokes because of this, well the other guys called them 'jokes', bullying would be nearer the mark, especially Piers he loved practical jokes that caused really injury etc. in Bill's case a broken ankle on one occasion, some nasty burns on another and of course, when the shit hit the fan and the huge hole in the pension fund was discovered the others all closed ranks leaving Bill, or Wills as he was known then to take the blame and carry the can. 
As Bill approached the station car park a tremor of nerves hit him, this group included his nemesis Piers along with his chosen lieutenant Jasper. Would they recognise him? Bill took a reassuring glance at himself in the mirror, he was 5 years older, he's lost weight in prison and working in his current outdoor job he'd built muscle and grown a beard. Bill was very good at his job, the premise behind the company was team building, he encouraged the participants, drew out the the best in people, he ensured any bullying was nipped in the bud speedily, his time in banking as the victim of the bullies along with his time in prison had helped him develop the skills that made him an exceptional member of the CCT team.
Bill heard Piers and Jasper before he saw them, Piers was haranguing the railway porter about getting their bags on the trolley and Jasper  was guffawing in his usual sycophantic manner in the background. 
Bill strode on to the platform 'Are you the group from Euclid Holdings he asked?
'Yes,' sneered Piers, 'and I can't seem to get this idiot to find a trolley for my bags'.
'I'll take it from here Tom' said Bill to the porter. 
'So, did you get the email about one rucksack each?' asked Bill eyeing the pile of suitcases. 
'Well it obviously didn't apply to us' said Piers, that's just for oiks who are on one of your cheap deals' 
'It applies to everyone' said Bill calmly. 'OK, everyone grab your rucksacks and climb aboard the land-rover'.
'Right, each of you can carry one of my cases' shouted Piers.
Bill stepped forward. 'No, there isn't room in the land-rover, six people,  six rucksacks, that's all' he stated firmly. He picked up a rucksack and looked at the tag, 'Johnson?' he passed it to the tall skinny blond who'd waved a hand, he passed each rucksack to it's respective owner, all the time Piers was still pushing his cases towards the others. They were looking a bit surprised but were following Bill's lead, ignoring Piers and shuffling towards the land-rover.
'What about my cases' blustered Piers, 'There is storage at the station, left luggage lockers, I suggest you use those' Piers continued to argue, but Bill climbed into the land-rover and started the engine. Tom reappeared at Bill's shout, started to move Piers suitcases, when Piers finally climbed into the land-rover the others kept quiet and refused to meet his eye. Piers grumbled all the way to CCT and upon arrival he demanded to see 'the head honcho, to sort out this stupid mistake' 'You' he said poking Bill in the chest 'will be driving back to the station to collect my bags'. To Piers chagrin, he was told that Bill was right and that his bags would be staying at the station for the duration of his visit.
 Bill soon realised that Piers was the same nasty piece of work he'd been when they had worked together, he lost no opportunity to belittle and bully the other team members, a couple of times he did stupid things that could have endangered the others. Bill was constantly on guard keeping Piers in check, Piers, in return became more and more furious about being thwarted, he complained about Bill constantly. His complaints cut no ice with the boss, he knew that Bill was consistently good at what he did and if someone was complaining it would be a problem of their own making.
By the end of the course  Piers was seething with rage, he's been constantly knocked back  during every activity and competition by Bill who stopped him cheating, stopped him bullying his other team members and stopped him blaming everyone else when he failed at the task in hand. He had lost his grip over the others, through Bill's calm treatment of Piers they had found the confidence to stand up to him, sometimes he even caught them sniggering about him when he tried to throw his weight around. And Jasper, Jasper was the worst, he's started to be seen as the team leader, the others followed him now in preference to Piers.
On the last weekend the teams all competed against each other on a treasure hunt, but without the CCT staff monitoring their every move. Bill's team chose Jasper to be their team leader, everyone was given a map and a list of challenges, they had to make use of all the skills they had learnt during the course, navigating without a compass, finding food, water and shelter etc.
The prize was a bottle of champagne, Piers could have afforded a case of the stuff but that wasn't the point, Piers by now was desperate to prove that he was better than the rest of them. The teams set off but by the end of the first day Piers had struck out on his own, he wasn't interested in completing the challenges, he just wanted to prove he was still the best, still the winner.
Later that evening all the teams were back but there was no sign of Piers, the plan was for the CCT crew to to set off at first light in search of him, after all, he's had a weeks training in bushcraft, he had some equipment with him so he should be ok, they would start by combing the woods near  the area where Piers had left his team and set off alone. 
Bill, having a damn good idea of where Piers would be, grabbed his kit and set off as soon as he realised Piers hadn't made it back with the others. He took a shortcut and within an hour had made it to the line of trees that he'd left the signs on, beyond it was the ravine. Bill shone his emergency light over the edge and shouted 'Piers, Piers, are you down there?' Silence. Bill swept the light along the ravine again, he spotted something, a figure laying very still at the bottom.
Bill got out his rope and was soon rappelling down the side of the ravine.
Piers was unconscious but still breathing, Bill radioed for assistance and before long a full rescue team had arrived, Bill and Piers were whisked to the nearest hospital, after being checked over Bill was released Piers remained until his broken ankle could be set.
When Bill returned to CCT his sister was waiting in him room for him. 'You bloody fool' she hissed 'He could have died!' 'Yeah, well that was what I planned' replied Bill, somewhat shamefaced. 'Dad died from a heart attack within hours of me being sentenced and Mum didn't want to carry on without him. I wanted to kill him!'
'Well thank god he has nothing worse than a broken ankle' she replied. 
Then she asked 'What made you go to the ravine to look for him'
'Because Piers never could follow orders, the map would take him right by the line of trees, I put signs up saying No Entry, I knew he'd go that way in the hope of getting back first and winning the prize'.

Friday, 1 August 2014

May cause drowsiness

Instructions on a pack of sleeping tablets - "May Cause Drowsiness"

Well I should bloody well hope so, I thought as I read the packet. Let's face it I was too wired to sleep otherwise and I had to be up in 4 hours to drive the happy couple to catch their flight to Hawaii.

The Wedding had gone off well, but the reception had been a nightmare.

My official title was Wedding Facilitator, I loved my job really, most of the time I really did. I was able to remain cool calm and collected. Unfortunately it was the during the reception when everything went to he'll and somehow I always seemed to be the one to sort out brawling bridesmaids, maudlin drunks and vomiting teenagers!

Snow globe

Image courtesy

Written for the Light & Shade Challenge

I fumble feverishly in my pocket, thinking I'd lost it. It's the only thing I have left of my old life, everything else has been sold. The globe is beautiful, it has no value, otherwise I'd have sold that too, I'd sold everything including my body to keep a roof over my children's head.  In the end it was to no avail, I lost my home, my children. But sometimes I take out the snow globe & shake it, I look deep into the scene & can almost imagine myself back in a warm house with my children around me.