“Another good days work,” Dr Jamal smiled.

“A good days work, Dr?” Nurse Gladis looked at him questionably.  “You’re the best surgeon there is in this city, that alone this hospital, !”

“Who me?” Dr Jamal said with his best Indian accent and cheeky chappy smile.

He pulled off his latex gloves and apron and threw them into the waste bin, before walking to the staffroom to collect his belongings from his locker.

It was a chilly November night, and the small crystals were forming on the ground by the hospitals front entrance, where the drainpipe above was cracked and dripping.

Dr Jamal took a large stride to avoid the icy patch before pulling his coat around him and fastening it up.  As he walked towards the train station, he could feel the iciness in the air and wondered if it would snow.  He’d only been in England for the past seven years and so far without fail it had snowed every winter, something he hadn’t experience growing up in India.

His beard and moustache kept his mouth from catching the cool air and his tightly woven turban which sat neatly on his head, secured warmth and a shield from any sharp winds.  However, neither helped the chill reach the end of his nose.

He walked down the steps to the station and pushed his ticket through the machine.  It was quiet, mainly because there were few trains at that time of the evening.  As he walked onto the platform, he could hear shouting.  A small group of youths stood on the other side of the tracks, shouting and swearing at two younger teenage boys on the platform.  Dr Jamal sat on the bench to wait for the train.  He’d lived in the city long enough to know that you keep yourself to yourself when there’s trouble, especially late on a Friday evening.

The shouting became more heated, threats and testosterone was fuelling an already nasty row between the two parties.  Suddenly, the main bravado of the group jumped onto the tracks and ran over to the two boys on the platform, head butting one and kneecapping the other.  Both boys lay on the ground, one screaming out in pain, whilst the other muted and motionless.

“Yo Blud,” one of the gang shouted across the tracks and like a cheetah stealthily jumped the tracks and joined his friend.  He pulled a knife from his pocket and stabbed the screaming boy until his cries were less than a yelp.  “Run Bruv,” he screamed and both boys, fled across the tracks and the gang disappeared.

Dr Jamal had already gotten to his feet, as soon as the glistening of the blade had left the boys pocket.  By the time he reached the boys, one of them had called someone from his mobile phone.

“Hello.  Hello can you hear me?” he shouted to them as he tried to ascertain which boy needed his attention more urgently.  He began putting one boy into the recovery position, whilst calling for an ambulance on the boys phone.  Before he had a chance to look at the other boy, he heard scurried footsteps coming down the station steps and relieved for back up turned around.

“You dirty terrorist!” he heard as a group of lads, not dissimilar to the ones who had just run off, but this time a little older in appearance.  “Get your hands off my brover yeah!” before Dr Jamal was knocked to the ground.

“The bloody thief’s got your bros phone blud,” he heard another shout, before Dr Jamal was completely struck out cold.

*   *   *

As Dr Jamal lay unconscious in the Accident and Emergency room, the two boys were being treated by doctors and nurses, one who was in a much worse state than the other.  Their family and friends waited outside, anxious and plotting revenge.

As Nurse Gladis went to the boy’s family, she took a deep breath to calm her nerves.  “I’m afraid we have to get him to surgery.  He is in a critical state.  He has received several stab wounds to his internal organs.  There is a significant amount of internal bleeding.  We must operate now.”

The boy’s family wept.  His brother stepped forward angry and anxious “Please save my brother?  This is the best hospital in the city yeah.  You can save him right?”

Nurse Gladis looked meaningfully at the boy and his family in what was possibly the hardest night of their life.  “Your brother is in the best place possible,” and without hesitation she looked at the boy and leant closer, “however,” she whispered so only the boy could hear her, “You have nearly killed one of the best surgeons in the City and a very valued colleague, your brother could have been helped sooner if you hadn’t of assumed the worse!” and with that, she left the room.

A Confidential Matter

Posted: September 26, 2013 in #fridayflash, Short stories

They sat around the boardroom table, starring at Mr Oakley, the Headmaster of Amersham Academy.  He stood holding a copy of the piece of paper they each had in front of them.

The Senior Leadership Team was a mixture of long-standing experience in the school to newly qualified teachers who had only been with them for a term.  This was even more highlighted with the vast variation between the two Deputy Headteachers.  Mrs Craggley, had the presence similar to a grandfather clock within the school.  Always there, reliable and precisely on time, no matter the weather and hadn’t taken a sick day since she started fifteen years ago.  Mr Marshall, the young and ‘down-with-the-kids’ type thirty year old, also a Deputy Headteacher, was appointed at the end of the last school year.

The ten members of staff, each signed the paper in-front of them and passed it to the end of the table.  Mr Oakley checked each one carefully, before placing them in a pile in front of him.

“Right, team!” he said loudly, “You have all signed the contract, which means that anything discussed in this room, during the next hour and in any future meetings regarding the confidential agenda item I call ‘TUBOS’ is not to be repeated anywhere, at anytime.  You are legally bound to never refer, discuss or replicate TUBOS in any future employment or other educational establishment.”  Mr Oakley stopped and looked at each of them in turn.

“Some of you are all new to this particular group.  Myself and Mrs Craggley, first introduced this system nearly eight years ago.  However, if it is ever discussed outside of these team members, even outside of this very room, the consequences will be severe.  Both to you and to me.  If the Department of Education were to get even a whisper of this, we would all be struck from the teaching profession.”

“Without a doubt!” Mrs Craggley emphasised, her glare working its way around the table, like a cold icy breeze on a winters evening.

“Are you all still happy to continue with this meeting, under these circumstances?”

Each one in turn nodded and agreed.

“OK, let us begin,” Mr Oakley said rubbing his hands together gleefully.  He was like a naughty school-kid about to get into so much mischief; it would make his peers blush with envy.

“What does TUBOS stand for?” he asked the audience of his staff starring back at him.  “Mrs Craggley, would you like to do the honours?” he smiled.

“Why thank you,” Mrs Craggley said getting to her feet and making her way to the front.

“TUBOS.” She spoke clearly, “stands for… Totally. Unethical. Bets. On. Students!”

“I’m still lost,” Mr Marshall said quietly.

“During the second term, of each academic year we feel we have gotten to know the students, who are in their first year of secondary school,” she looked playfully at Mr Oakley. “Well enough to make a few judgement calls anyway,” and looked back at the room.

“There are some tell-tale signs as a teacher that we recognise early on in young adults, which effectively these children are.  Most of them are twelve going on twenty.”

“When a child in the first year of secondary school develops the reputation of being the class-clown, they have the potential to grow into the biggest pain in the arse for us teachers, by the time they reach their final year!” Mr Oakley chirped.

The room mumbled with agreement.

Mrs Criggley stood “and a girl in her first year who clearly wants attention; with boys and her female peers, could lead to being an eccentric or outrageous dresser…”

“A gothic or Emo?” Mr Marshall questioned, acting out bunny ears with his fingers representing a hypothetical meaning.

“Yes, a goth, or the other extreme of having the tiniest mini skirt possible, with make-up an inch thick and even possibly pregnant before her final exam results land on her doormat,” Mrs Criggley laughed.

“Soooooooo,” Mr Oakley continued, rubbing his hands together, “this is how TUBOS works.  You each pick five of your first year students and place bets.  It could be who you think will be in trouble with the law and kicked out before they reach their exams, or pregnant!  We have to document your choices and monitor them throughout their entire school life.  That’s the easy part.” He looked to Mrs Criggley and with his hands opened up the floor to her again.

She smiled, “The second part of TUBOS is that if you are right and your prediction for said child is reality by their last year, then you get a substantial bonus in your pay packet.”

The room mumbled again and smiles could be seen on their colleague’s faces.

Mrs Criggley laughed, “We thought that would get your attention.  However, we haven’t quite finished.  There’s a catch.  Each of your five children you choose will be given to another member of the Senior Leadership team to mentor.  Their job is to try everything possible to ensure your predications don’t come true.”

“Think of it as a game” Mr Oakley laughed.

“A beautiful game”, Mrs Criggley chuckled.

“However, I must point out,” Mr Oakley said quickly, “There are limits and it’s unfortunate that we have lost one, or two members of staff along the way.”

The room fell silent.

“Again this stays strictly in this room!” Mr Oakley said sternly.  “Mr Marshall’s predecessor had very good percentage rates for winning his bets.  However, greed, stupidity, whatever you wish to call it took over.  He did not retire voluntarily,” he paused clearly finding it hard to express the right words, but disappointment was written over his face.

Mrs Criggley quickly interjected, “let’s leave it at that,” she smiled at Mr Oakley.

“Yes, lets,” he smiled.

“Shall we begin?” Mrs Criggley said, rushing to her seat to write her list.

“I’ve already got Ashleigh Morrison,” Mr Oakley chuckled, “so if you had her on your list, you’ll need to think of another.  My school, my game, my rules!” he laughed, “I just know she’s going to turn out to be a butch bi-sexual with as many piercings her ears can hold and anger issues towards male staff members!”

“You can’t say that,” Miss Patel replied, shocked and surprised.

“That’s the beauty of TUBOS Miss Patel.  We can say whatever we like,” Mr Oakley smiled.

Miss Patel gleamed with joy and began busily writing down names on her list.

A Silent Scream

Posted: September 19, 2013 in #fridayflash, Short stories

In the junkyard Tad was in his element, creating life from the bits and pieces others thought were useless.  An old kettle and a toy robots head, fused together to make a unique self service tea caddy sat on the office worktop, as Tad tinkered with an old shopping cart full of new admissions that had arrived today.

The nuts and bolts were like vanilla pods and spices to a confectionery connoisseur, the mere staples of his trade which made his master pieces bind together and come alive.  Whereas his icing and garnishes were repairable motors and re-useable cogs.

Tad’s overalls were always covered in dried oil along with his bare hands from the foraging through piles of scrap metal, car parts and discarded junk.  His mother despaired when he got home.  She would lie down newspaper and hang old sheets onto a chair so he could sit down.

“Tad, Tad the junkyard Lad”, kids would chant at him in the street.  He’d always struggled to fit in.  At school he was that one that everyone knew throughout the school as the vulnerable, easy to pick on kid.  Hair pulling; name calling; squeezing him into a locker in his first week of secondary school; tying him to the schools automatic front gate; sticking gum in his hair; and even ducktaping him to a chair and leaving him for a whole weekend in a classroom.  The whole town were looking for him.  It was only because of Daisy, Tad’s only real friend, that the police and headmaster found him.

You see, Tad was good with his hands, but he didn’t speak.  The doctors didn’t know if he could speak or if he just chose not to.  Tad would never comply with any tests they tried.  He just wanted to build things.  He tinkered with broken household items from the age of three.  He fixed his mum’s vacuum at the age of four, which ironically broke because he’d left nuts and bolts lying around on the floor.  And now he had a dream job as the junkyard apprentice.  He worked alongside Bill, Daisy’s Dad, who owned the junkyard.

“Come on youngen,” Bill called from one of the junkyard bins, “We’ve got a new lorry load coming later, we need to make some room”.

Tad nodded and drove the dumper truck to where Bill was standing.  He scooped the pile of broken ironworks into the dumper and began to reverse the vehicle.  He heard a scream.  The remaining parts and mound of unwanted metal began to tumble upon itself.  Bill disappeared underneath the avalanche.

Tad stopped the dumper truck and jumped out.  He tried to scream but no noise left his lips.  He began digging frantically.  He managed to scoop as much debris from Bill’s head and chest.  He was breathing but unconscious.

Tad ran to the phone in the junkyard office and called his Dad at work.  His Dad had caller id and knew the phone number of the junkyard, Bill called him every evening to let him know that Tad was on his way home.

“Hi Bill,” Tad’s Dad answered with a worried tone to his voice, “Bit early for Tad to be going home.”

There was silence.

“Bill?” Tad’s dad asked quizzically.

Tad was frustrated and grunted down the receiver.

“Tad.  Tad is that you?”

Tad grunted again as hard as he could, before letting out an almighty scream.  It was gruff and broken at first, then squeaky and high pitched.

“Tad, Tad what’s happened?” his dad replied, knowing instantly there was something wrong.

Tad screamed again, this time at the top of his voice and with more pungent tone.

“I’m on my way son,” his Dad said hastily and put down the phone.

His Dad arrived within minutes, closely followed by an ambulance and fire engine.

“I knew it was serious,” he shouted to as the paramedics and fire-fighters jumped from their vehicles.

*   *   *

Bill was in hospital for weeks.  He had to have one of his leg amputated after it had been so severely crushed and mangled from the rubble.

Tad visited him every night, after work.  He kept the junkyard running whilst Bill recuperated.  He still hadn’t spoken or made any noises since that afternoon.  It was as if it never happened.

When Bill returned home from the hospital, Tad and his family were there to greet him along with Bill’s wife, Daisy and all their neighbours.  As they all sat drinking tea and eating cake welcoming Bill home from his ordeal, Tad disappeared.  He returned with a large box.  The room fell silent.

Nervously, Tad put the box down in front of Bill.  He went to speak, but as before, no noise left his mouth.  He squinted and strained his throat as he tried even harder, but still nothing.

“Dont worry Lad,” Bill smiled, “Your voice came when it mattered kid!”

“Its OK Tad,” Daisy said coming to Tad’s side, “Nobody blames you!”

Tad nodded and quietly he spoke, “Sorry Bill.”

Everyone was astonished.

Tears brimmed in everyone’s eyes.

Tad cleared his throat and tried again, “Sorry Bill,” this time a lot clearer, “for you,” he smiled pushing the box closer to Bill.

Bill opened the box.  Inside was a metal leg, made entirely from scrap metal and bolts.  It was the right size, length and even had a bendable knee.  It was polished to a shiny, almost reflective surface.  It was amazing.

Tad knelt down and attached the leg and put his arm around Bill’s waist.  Tad and Daisy gently lifted Bill from his wheelchair.  Bill was standing and with help from Tad, he could walk.

“Tad you’re a bloody genius laddo!” Bill gleamed.

“And you can talk!” Daisy screamed.

Tad nodded and smiled.

A need to know basis

Posted: September 12, 2013 in #fridayflash, Short stories

“Do you know?”

“Do I know what?”

“Do you know what I know? About Jemma.”

“Yeah, she told me.  How do you know?

“I know because they told me.”

“Do they know then?”

“They know! “

“Do they know I know?”

“I don’t know.  I know they don’t want to know”

“Who else knows?”

“It’s a need to know basis, that much I do know.”

“Do they know, that you know, that I know?”

“I don’t think so, they’d say if they knew that you know.  Amy will go mad.”

“I know.  I wonder if her brother knows.”

“We’d all know if her brother knows.  Josh wouldn’t know what had hit him.”

“So what do we do now? Should I tell them I know?”

“No, don’t tell them you know.  Pretend we don’t know if anyone asks.“

“She needs to know she has our support.”

“I know. She knows that we’re behind her.”

“I wish I didn’t know though to be honest.”

“You know what, so do I!”

A Fresh Cream Start

Posted: August 15, 2013 in #fridayflash, Short stories

The village of Inglewood was very quiet and quaint, with one main road running through it and several small dead-end streets trailing off it.  With a large roundabout a mile or so up the main road and at the opposite end two dual carriageways forking off in two separate directions, from the sky the village looked like a giant fishbone.

Laura felt at home here, even though she’d only moved a few weeks previous.  She was going to be a teacher at the local primary school.  With the start of the new school year approaching and new surroundings at her finger tips, she was looking forward to a fresh start.

She’d had warm welcomes from several of the neighbors and by the time her first day of school arrived she had gotten to know her surroundings.  The whole assembly hall full of children and teachers gave her a ‘Hello and welcome Miss Cisco’ that morning and her small class of seven and eight year olds were adorable.

At the end of her first school day she picked up her bag and an armful of student’s textbooks, turned off the light to her classroom and headed for her car.  As she drove down the village’s main road, in the distance she saw a small but adult sized figure.  It was an older lady, dainty, with pastel colored clothes, fluffy grey hair and a wrinkle on her fragile skin for every year of her life.

Laura drove past and smiled sweetly at her as she stood by her front gate post with a plate of what looked like sausage and mashed potato, covered in thick brown gravy.  The lady looked at her blankly, but kept eye contact with Laura as she drove past.  Laura pondered for a while as she turned into her street.

Filled with contentment, Laura hadn’t given the lady much thought until she saw her the next evening in exactly the same spot.  The lady was dressed in similar attire, but this time holding a Pyrex casserole dish with paisley fabric oven gloves.  The lady watched Laura drive past with the same vacant expression across her face.

Laura drove past the following evening too, this time later than her normal early evening encounters, the street lights shone directly onto the little old lady’s waiting spot.  A plate of bacon, eggs and sausages looked cold and congealed, but still she stood patiently next to her gate post.

*   *   *

During her busy session of show and tell the next morning with her students, Laura thought she’d ask them about the little old lady.

“That’s Mrs Berry.  My Mummy says that Mrs Berry waits outside with her husband’s dinner, hoping he’ll smell it and come home quicker.” Laura’s most insightful student Molly explained.

“Today is Friday,” mumbled George from the corner of the room, “Mrs Berry always cooks Fish and chips on a Friday!  YUM, Yum…” he smiled rubbing his stomach with a gleeful grin.

“It is funny though Miss Cisco,” Daisy pondered, “cos my Mummy says that when you go to Devon you can’t eat real food.  You eat stuff made from clouds!”

“Devon?” Laura repeated in a quizzical way, unsure of what her young student was telling her, “Why is Mrs Berry’es husband in Devon?”

“Miss Cisco,” Molly raised her hand, “Miss Cisco, she means Heaven.  Mrs Berry’s husband is in heaven!”

“Oh.  I see.”  Laura was shocked.  That poor lady was standing there night after night after cooking endless meals, waiting for someone who would never appear.  The thought of it was heart wrenching.

She had to shake the thoughts and feelings off quickly, as she looked around at a busy beehive of seven and eight year olds.

On her drive home, sure enough, Mrs Berry was standing outside, this time with what looked like a homemade cake, topped with strawberries and frosting.  Her apron was dusted with more flour and icing sugar than what was probably in the cake itself.  Laura decided to pull over and park the car.  She wandered up the driveway to the gate post where Mrs Berry was standing.  She smiled politely at Laura as she approached.

“Hi,” Laura smiled, “I’m Laura. Laura Cisco.  I’m the new junior’s teacher at Fellowes Primary.”

“Hello Dear,” Mrs Berry responded, “lovely to meet you.”

“That’s a great cake.  Did you bake it yourself?”

“I did.  It’s my Angus’ favorite,” she beamed.  Then she looked at Laura and her bottom lip began to quiver.  “He’s gone Dear. The problem is, “she paused and looked down at her creation, “The problem is you see, I married him when I was just sixteen.  We were married and had a wonderful life.  But all I’ve ever known is to cook him his dinner and favorite treats and have them ready for him to come home to.  I’m lost without him!”

Laura took hold of the cake from Mrs Berry’s trembling hands and the two walked down the garden path.  “Maybe you and I could have a slice with a cup of tea?” Laura suggested.

“I’d like that Dear,” Mrs Berry smiled.

*   *   *

On Monday morning the children gathered in Laura’s class excited to hear what lessons today would bring.

“Right children,” Laura said with a glow, “I have got something extra special for you.  Today we are going to have a cooking lesson!”

The children cheered.

Laura opened the classroom door and held out her hand.  An elderly hand appeared from behind the door and Mrs Berry walked in very shy and overwhelmed. “and Mrs Berry, will be our teacher!” Laura explained.

The children cheered again.

It didn’t take long for Mrs Berry to settle in and start to enjoy her cooking class.  Flour and egg shells were scattered over the floor but the children were buzzing with excitement and pride of their creations.

Molly raised her hand.

“Yes Molly,” Laura smiled.

“Miss Cisco, why can’t Mrs. Berry come and cook with us every day?” Molly asked with a pout.

“Because Molly,” Laura smiled at Mrs. Berry who was anticipating the answer, “Mrs Berry will be teaching other classes the rest of the week.  But we will have her every Monday.”

Mrs. Berry smiled as a tear rolled down her cheek.  “Thank you,” she mouthed timidly at Laura, as she whisked George’s rather lumpy bowl of cake mix, “Thank you!”

A Regular Occurrence

Posted: June 20, 2013 in #fridayflash, Short stories

She’d been sat in her pyjamas for days.  Her puffy eyes couldn’t see past the mountains of scrunched up tissues that surrounded her.  It had happened again.  Why couldn’t she see this one coming?  You’d think after last year’s episode she would have had a radar or inkling to the initial signs.  She was beginning to think it was her, something she was doing wrong.

Kat lifted her head in an attempt to sit up and try to shift this overwhelming, consuming feeling.  She wiped her eyes for the gazillionth time that morning alone and starred at the static television screen.

She blew her nose and reached for the telephone.  She had to call him again.  He wouldn’t be happy and was probably awaiting her call.  She’d called him yesterday and as usual his caveman instincts were less than sympathetic and couldn’t wait to get her off of the phone.

She had no choice.  It was trivial, she knew that but she had to call.  Her swollen eyes, looked like inflated rubber rings, with the only thing they could save from her watery, inflamed eye sockets, were her dilated pupils.

“Hi John, its Kat,” She sniffed as she talked through her very limited nasal passage.

“I won’t be in work again today.  This hayfever has just taken over my entire face!”

A Cosmetic Clash

Posted: May 31, 2013 in #fridayflash, Short stories

He could feel the hairs on the back on his neck prickle with unease.

He wanted to rip of his shirt and flex his muscles to prove his masculinity. His bachelor pad of leather and chrome fixtures and finishing’s; cream carpets and polished wooden surfaces, were being invaded.

He remembered his toy fort as a child, plastic soldiers and small wooden canons strategically placed. He would spend hours getting the scenes just right, only to come home from school to find one of his three sisters had not only moved things but completely sabotaged his military operations. Half of his soldiers were married to various blonde dolls, some even had children. Whilst others were living amongst colourful ponies named Applejack and Cotton-Candy.

The feeling of lack of control and male castration automatically hit him again, like an imaginary canon ball he had just fired in frustration. There it was just like the dolls and ponies. Not just a vanity case, but the former contents of the case were sprawled across the carpet. Luckily the lids of the lipsticks and nail varnishes had remained tightly fastened.
“Yasmin”, he called calmly, but with a terrified squeak at the back of his throat. “Yasmin, your stuff! Your make-up stuff.  It’s all over the living room floor. These are pure wool carpets you know.”

“Calm down Russ.  I’ll tidy it in a minute,” with no rush, or more frustratingly no remorse in her voice.

He swooped down and scooped the various powders, paints and varnishes up into the casket where they had once resided.  He began to question whether he had a form of OCD, starring momentarily at the make-up and having the urge to arrange it tidily in the case.  Instead he shut the lid in annoyance and put it on the stairs with the rest of Yasmin’s belongings.

He sat on the sofa and began to flick through the newspaper.

Yasmin walked into the living room looking a little disgruntled.  “Why are all my things on the stairs?” she asked.

“Because I cannot cope with the constant mess Yaz.  You knew when we first got together that I can be very particular.  I like things a certain way.  And messy or untidy is not a way I am comfortable with.”

“I’m sorry,” she smiled soothingly and flopped down on the sofa next to him, putting an arm around his muscular shoulders.  “I’ll be tidier.”

Russell instantly mellowed.  “I’m sorry,” he smiled.  I’ll clear out one of the bedside cabinets for you to use.  Wow that’s totally cliché isn’t it?” he sniggered.

“Totally,” she giggled back, “But thanks I appreciate it,” and with that she planted a kiss on his flushed cheek.

He looked at her and held her hand.  “I guess it’s just ‘change’ and I’m not great with an invasion of my space.  Blame my sisters.”

“That’s fine,” she smiled.

“My mates warned me about girl’s moving in and leaving their stuff lying around.  Jim said it usually starts with just a toothbrush.  He reckons that a second toothbrush in your bathroom is a definite sign that you’re in a relationship; or attached to a ball and chain as he put it.”

“Now that’s a cliché too,” Yasmin said raising an eyebrow.

“Come to think of it,” Russell looked puzzled, “I haven’t seen your toothbrush.  Or have you hidden it from view in case I lost my mind,” he laughed as he made a funny face.

“Oh no”, Yasmin smiled sweetly; “I haven’t got around to bringing mine here.  I’ve just been using yours!”

Russell froze, unable to speak, move or even exhale.

He could feel the hairs on the back on his neck prickle with unease.

A Chewy Situation

Posted: April 19, 2013 in #fridayflash, Short stories

It was only a packet of chewing gum, but his mother acted like he’d stolen a car or was going on trial for murder.

“Jeremy Angus Lawrence!” his mother growled sternly, “we have brought you up to be an honest young man.  Thou shalt not steal!” she bellowed.

“I’m sorry mum.  I’ll never do it again.  Sorry!” he said sheepishly.

“Sorry isn’t good enough Jeremy. When you’re father gets home he will most likely want to punish you. For now go to your room, I can barely look at you.  You have brought shame to this family.”



Jeremy, looked at his mother, her eyes flickering with angry tears,

He was confused, but did as he was told.  Jeremy sat on his bed, as still as a statue, contemplating his misdemeanours.  Two hours past, when his eyes suddenly shot towards his bedroom door.  He could hear his father downstairs, greeting his mother and younger sister.

“Jeremy!” his father called.

Jeremy didn’t hesitate; he got to his feet and ran down the stairs.

“Dad, I’m sorry.  I made a bad decision, I won’t do it again.  I truly am sorry.” He looked to the floor.

“Sorry for what?” his father asked calmly.

Jeremy was confused, had his mother not told him yet.  He decided to confess all the same.  “I stole a packet of chewing gum.  I bought Mum’s newspaper, a pint of milk and a packet of biscuits.  I hadn’t enough for the chewing gum so slipped it into my pocket.  I knew it was wrong, but I did it anyway.  I told Mum as soon as I got home, and have thrown it away.  I’m sorry.  I’ll never do it again.”

Jeremy’s father glared at him and after a pause asked “Where is the chewing gum now?”

“In the bin,” Jeremy said.

“Go and get it,” his father replied calmly.

Jeremy walked through to the kitchen and reached into the bin and picked out the chewing gum from amongst rubbish.  He looked up at his father who was still standing in the hallway.

“Now son,” his father spoke calmly but in a tone that demanded respect, “Eat it.  All of it!”

“There’s ten pieces here Dad!”

“I didn’t ask for a description Jeremy,” his father continued, “I told you to eat it.”

Jeremy began to unwrap each stick of gum, and then fold each piece into his mouth and chew.  By the seventh stick of gum, Jeremy was struggling to open his mouth. It felt like rubber bands tied around each individual tooth and attached randomly to another.

“F-aaaarrv-er”, Jeremy chewed, desperately trying to talk with now eight sticks of gum and fruit flavoured saliva filling every cavity of his mouth.  “I can’t fit anymore in.”

“Yes you can Jeremy,” he smiled, “here let me help you,” he took the last two pieces of gum from his son’s hand and unwrapped them before handing them back to him.

Jeremy shoved them both in together, pushing them with his forefinger into his mouth.  He retched a little and his eyes watered.

“And chew,” his father said with Jeremy’s mother now at his side.

Jeremy shock his head.

“Chew!” his father insisted sternly.

The more Jeremy tried to move his jaws, the more intense the flavour and pull of elasticised candy became in his mouth.  He shook his head and began to cry.

His father held out his hand, “Spit,” he commanded.

Jeremy opened his mouth and spat the humongous piece of gum he’d ever seen into his father’s hand.

“Despite feeling you couldn’t fit anymore into your mouth, there was always room to get more in.  Despite feeling like you would never steal again, there’s always that small niggling in the back of your thoughts that you’d gotten away with it, so you could do it again.  Until you crammed so much in, you couldn’t take the pain any longer.  Do you see where I’m going with this Jeremy?”

Jeremy nodded, wiping the excess juice from his mouth with the back of one hand and rubbing his eyes with the palm of the other.

“Have you learnt your lesson?” His father asked, still in a clam and respectable manner.

Jeremy nodded.  “I will never do anything like that again”, he promised.

“Early night I think,” his father smiled.

*     *     *

Jeremy was woken by the sound of muffled voices coming from downstairs.  It was still dark outside. He must have fallen asleep pretty quickly after the chewing gum scenario.  He went to his door and could hear his parents arguing.

“What more did you want me to do Evelyn? I taught him a lesson, one he won’t forget in a hurry.  I didn’t raise my voice or panic the boy unnecessarily.”

“I know but it just scares me.  What if he hasn’t learnt his lesson? What if he rebels or falls into the wrong crowd?”

His father sighed and Jeremy could hear the sound of the cocktail cabinet being opened.

“James, this is just the beginning.  It never crossed my mind we’d have to deal with things like this.  What if he does turn to crime?  What if it is genetic?”
“Now you’re just overreacting Evelyn.  For Christ sake he stole a bloody packet of chewing gum!”

“Today it was stealing, what about next time?  It could be something much worse, and then we are all in danger!”

“Just stop, slow down.  He’s a good boy.  Stop panicking.”

“Panicking!  I have the right to panic.  If we start drawing attention to ourselves, or the police begin to recognise our family, what next?  You read the rules James, we signed those papers.  If we put a step wrong, our cover will be blown!”

“Just stop!” Jeremy knew when his father was about to lose his temper.  It was very rare, but he knew the signs too well. He heard his father pacing. “Evelyn, the Witness Protection Programme will look after us.  They have for the last ten years.  It’s going to be OK!”

Jeremy stood motionless.

A Wife Swap

Posted: April 4, 2013 in #fridayflash, Short stories

It didn’t matter that they were friends, there was no way he was going to sleep with his wife for him.

“C’ommon mate.  I’d do it for you!”

“Erm, difference is ‘mate’, I’m not asking you to sleep with my wife.  Nor would I!” Jon slid his mug across the table.  He put his head in his hands in disbelief and looked up at his best friend.  “Twenty-three years.  Twenty-three.  We’re more like brothers than best mates.  You’ve asked me to do some bloody stupid stuff in your time Alan, but this,” he paused to let out a horse-noise-type sigh, “this is just ridiculous!”

“I’m asking you because of those twenty-three years mate.  You know me better than anyone.  You can tell me whether it’s me or not.”

“I am not sleeping with your wife, for a test, for a bet, or to prove your male ego.  This is just too much.” Jon picked up his coat from the back of the chair as he stood.  He couldn’t even bring himself to look Alan in the eye.  “I’ll catch you later!”

*   *   *

The words ‘Alan calling’, flashed on Jon’s phone as it jumped frantically on the kitchen worktop.

“Why aren’t you answering that?” Molly asked as she stirred the evening meal in the saucepan.

“No reason.  Just can’t be bothered”.

Molly raised a quizzical eyebrow.

Jon thought on his feet, knowing that a more in-depth explanation was required, “He wants my help with something and can’t take no for an answer.  You know what he’s like,” he smiled reassuringly at his wife.

“DADDY…” the pitter patter of tiny feet could be heard charging down the stairs.  “Daddy, can we play a game before bed? Or read a book? Or…” Daisy and Lucas began ranting various activities they’d like to do before their dinner and bed.

“Now, now, now my little munchkins,” Jon bent down and scooped one up in each arm, “dinner is nearly ready.  Once we’ve eaten we’ll play a game of cards, then a story before bed.”

The children cheered.

*   *   *

After they’d eaten, the children had chosen a card game called Happy Families.  Each of them busily tried to collect different cards, containing various family members, from one another. There was a doctor’s family, a teacher’s family, a greengrocer’s family, the list was endless.  But each family had four members.

“Dad have you got a Mummy policeman?” Lucas asked.

“Sorry not at home,” John smirked, “and she’d be called a policewoman or officer”.

Lucas laughed.

“These families are like ours, aren’t they Daddy?” Daisy asked, “Each family has a Mummy, a Daddy, a Lucas and a Daisy”.

“Yeah, I suppose they are,” Jon smiled.

“Perfect family,” Molly said winking as she put a plate of cookies on the table and two tumblers of milk.

“But not all families need a son and a daughter” Jon suggested to his children.

“Of course they do Daddy,” Daisy said shocked at her father’s ignorance.

“How can a family, be a family, without kids?” Lucas asked.

“Well,” Jon stumbled on his words, “me and mummy were a family before we had you two scamps!”

“No Jon, we were a couple.  Now we’re a family!” Molly smiled, lifting Daisy onto her lap and helping her sort through her cards.

“Full house!” Lucas shouted, beaming from ear to ear, “Five perfect families.” Lucas laid his cards on the table as he sipped from his milk and grabbed a cookie.

“And you know what perfect children do,” Jon smirked, “They go and brush their teeth and get into bed, ready for their bedtime story, without complaints!”

The children sighed but finished their cookies and went upstairs.

Jon reached for his phone as it began to buzz again.

“Hi Al.  Yes I have been ignoring you.  But I will help you.  I will help you and Karen to get the perfect family.  But we’ll do it properly.  Doctors and PROPER procedures.  Not the method you were suggesting, you gibbon!!!” Jon laughed.

Molly raised both eyebrows.  Jon was going to have to explain this one in much more detail.

A Crow called Jim

Posted: March 29, 2013 in #fridayflash, Short stories

Jim the crow was born all alone,
his egg had fallen from the nest and hit a stone.
the stone had smashed Jim the crows tiny egg,
he tried to stand up but had a broken leg.

He hopped and chirped for someone to help,
but fell back down with a tiny yelp!
A girl called Tilly was out playing with Finlay her brother,
She heard Jim the crow yelp and the cries for his mother.

She scooped Jim the Crow up and patted his head,
She took him home and made him a small bed.
Tilly looked after him so his leg could mend,
Tilly became Jim the Crow’s best two legged friend.

He grew up to have silky black feathers and big button eyes,
And huge wings like fans that let him float in the skies. 
He would sleep on the window outside Tilly’s room,
Unless there was thunder … crash, bang, BOOM!!!

When it was time for Tilly to get up out of bed,
Jim would tap on the window until Tilly lifted her head.
He’d sit at the table whilst the children ate their porridge and toast,
Tilly would sneak him the crusts, the bits he liked the most.

Jim Crow went with Tilly on her walks to school and home,
Tilly would sing a song to him wherever they’d rome:
Jim Crow, Jim Crow, don’t fly too low
don’t go where the sharp teethed creatures go
Stay up in the sky, or here with me
you don’t want to be the fox’s afternoon tea!!!

When Tilly and Finlay were busy at school,
Jim the Crow stayed outside, that was the rule.
He would sit like a statue on the school’s big black gate,
Until the clock turned 3, that’s where he’d wait.

When they were at home Jim the Crow loved to play games,
They’d sit by the fire, next to the warm tickly flames.
Tilly would read stories when there was sign of rain,
and Finlay would give Jim the crow rides on his little toy train.

If Jim Crow played in the garden with Tilly or out in the woods,
Tilly would be worried and sing a song as loud as she could:
Jim Crow, Jim Crow, don’t fly too low
don’t go where the sharp teethed creatures go
Stay up in the sky, or here with me
you don’t want to be the fox’s afternoon tea!!!

One day the fox spotted Jim the Crow and licked his lips,
He waited until Jim flew down low and wiggled his hips.
The fox pounced and tumbled hurting Jim the Crows head,
Tilly shouted and jumped up and down until the fox sped.

Tilly scooped Jim the Crow up in her arms and sang their song,
She sat by his bed whilst he slept and sang it all night long:
Jim Crow, Jim Crow, don’t fly too low
don’t go where the sharp teethed creatures go
Stay up in the sky, or here with me
you don’t want to be the fox’s afternoon tea!!!

In the morning Tilly woke to find Jim Crow wasn’t there,
She jumped from the bed and looked underneath the chair.
He couldn’t of gone or flown away he would have been to weak,
But then she heard a tap on the window, made by a strong black beak.

There on the window with his silky black feathers and big button eyes,
And his wings like fans that let him float in the skies.
“Jim Crow”, Tilly shouted with excitement and a big smile,
“We’ll be able to play again for a long long while”.

Now remember Jim Crow, Tilly said with her hands on her hips
You must sing our song wherever we go, watch my lips…
Jim Crow, Jim Crow, don’t fly too low
don’t go where the sharp teethed creatures go
Stay up in the sky, or here with me
you don’t want to be the fox’s afternoon tea!!!