My own interpetation of a barbershop from growing up in an area populated with numerous folk from Caribbean islands in particulat Jamaica. This still needs to be neatened up in places but I want to post a snapshot of what goes down in barbershops.
Champy turned up the volume as the smooth voice hummed through the speakers, Hutton nodded along to drums as Rupert Theo blessed the microphone. The customers were in for a treat but they didn’t know it yet. What the Night Redeems by Rupert Theo was the biggest record the country had ever seen. Jamaica was officially recognised a home to music, reggae music. Champy had been around long enough to understand what this particularly meant to the people of Jamaica.
“Now dat is moozic!” Champy bellowed “All ah dat boogo boogo raas cyaan touch dis ‘ere!”
“Champy, turn it down nuh!” Eric raised his voice over the song, “Mi sick ah ‘earin’ dis ‘ere choon pon ah soun’ system.”
Champy ignored Eric’s plea and turned it up some more, he shuffled back over to his chair and danced behind it. Samuel watched in the mirror as Champy performed a version of some eighties dance. Eric watched on unimpressed at his boss’ dance moves.
“Champy yuh to big fi dance like Michael Jackson nuh!” Eric laughed.
“Dis nah Michael Jackson, dis Champy!” He exclaimed.
The customers erupted with laughter as Champy began ducking and jumping to the beat, old man Hutton struggled up from his seat and encouraged Champy to continue. Eric stood back in amazement as Champy worked up a sweat. The loud noise casued Mr Sherman from the insurance broker next door to come in and see what was going on.
“Champy, turn down dis raas noise, mi ‘ave customer in ah my office.”
“Nah suh, mi gettin’ right in ah mi groove nuh.”
“Champy, every raas day you ah groove. W’appen to yuh?”
“Mid life crisis” Eric thought out loud.
The cassette tape peeled out of the tape deck stopping the song. The shop groaned in unison and Champy fell in to his seat visibly exhausted. He picked up a towel and wiped his forehead dry. Kevin wandered over to stereo and ejected the cassette.
“Kevin, where di raas, yuh buy dat cassette?” Champy asked.
“ Shirleen ah ‘ave a ‘ole ‘eap” his baritone voice vibrated through the shop. “She recard dem from one cassette to di nex’ an’ sell dem fi five dolla’.”
“Raas, Shirleen always affi mek prafit fram some scheme” Champy sighed.
“Champy, nex’ time mi ah step foot in ah dis place, it ah be far a trim! Nat to ‘ear yuh blootclart naise, ya simmi!” Mr Sherman resembled a school teacher when he pointed his finger.
“Sekkle, Shermy di party done.”
Mr. Sherman slammed the shop door closed and returned to his office. Eric returned his focus to Samuel’s hair. The shop encountered a brief moment of silence until the door swung open and a tall man walked in whistling What the Night Redeems. Everyone stopped and stared at him until he stopped whistling and took a seat next to Hutton. Champy signalled the tall man to his seat and prepared to cut his hair.
“Di problem I ‘ave wit’ dat recard is dat it meks Jamaica look like paradise” Eric spoke.
“Fa real” Samuel agreed.
“So, wha’ di problem?” Champy asked covering the tall man with a sheet.
“Dis place is nat a paradise” Eric moaned.
“Dem mek videos dat play pon di telly dat show Ocho Rios and Negril and dem people deh tink all ah Jamaica look like dat” Samuel spoke.
“Exactly!” Eric’s comment was met with nods from Kevin and a teenager in dark sunglasses.
“But why is dat a problem? It means mar people ah come to Jamaica” Hutton proclaimed “Mar tarism is mar money for di nation.”
“Oo gets dat money?” Eric spun round pointing his clippers at Hutton, “You? Certainly nat me, nat mi bredrin Sammy ere ar my yout’ Lewis.” The teenager in sunglasses nodded at the sound of his name. “Di people don’t see a cent fram dese tarists ar di five star ‘otel dem ah sleep in ta raas!”
“It’s nat up to dem fi feed di people, dem need fi feed demselves.” Champy chimed in “das the tarism business, it ah work fi dem. Ya tink mi like seein’ Marley wid ‘im dreads ar di Jacksons an’ dere afros. Nah suh, dat ah mek it ah tren’ wid di yout’ dem an’ none ah come cut dem ‘air” Champy argued.
“True” Eric agreed turning to Samuel’s hair.
“But it nah do nutten fi you Champy” the tall man said.
“How yuh mean?”
“Well dem likkle tarist video nah mek tarist come ‘ere. Dere nuh beach round ‘ere suh. Dem stay well aweh fram towns like dis, dey only wan’ di beach an’ di fry fish wit festival.”
“Raas me ‘ungry” Hutton moaned.
“But it’s far di bigga pickcha nah. Right now we need di Island fi look good to di res’ af di worl’. We cyaan show pure gunman in ah di gully, lickin’ aff shats at di police. Dem tarists nah feel safe in ah dat.”
“But di gunman ah come ah barbershap fi ‘im trim” Kevin spoke winding the tape back in to the cassette.
“Nat fram you!” Eric joked causing the shop to burst in to hysterics. Kevin kissed his teeth and continued with the cassette.
“Nah ‘im mek a good point still” Samuel spoke “Ah big video in ah dis place ah mek you ah rich man Champy. Someone like Sweet Tooth ar Starr Man ah-”
“Mi nah wan eny af dat raas naise in ah my establishment!” Champy boomed “Dem man ah tink dey are mafia gangman. Dat nah do nutten far me ar Jamaica.”
“Wha’? Dem man ah revolutionise di music in ah Jamaica, yuh tink di yout’ dem wan fi ‘ere What di raas night redeem? Nah suh dem wan some choon dey can relate to” Eric moaned.
“Far real” Samuel agreed.
Greg J Allman
Snapshots of a Meltdown.
First instalment in a small flash fiction series I’m working on. Snapshots of a Meltdown focuses on one character as bizarre things continue to happen to resulting in his abnormal behaviour. Give it a read sure!
My name? Jeez I think I’ve been asked that question ten times today. What’s with the sudden interest of my name? It’s not like this is a regular thing for me. It’s a one off, one time isolated incident. In some respects I can understand why that makes it more shockin. Those that know me, know I’m a patient, easy-goin gent. Those that really know me know this was a long time comin. Dominic always said I’m ‘one red wire snip away from exploding’ but what does he know? I’ve been sat in that room for the past two hours bored out of my skull. I’m sure that kid probably has his own overly dramatized version of events that could be made in to a three part mini-series. It’s not like what happened was even that bad, if anythin he should’ve seen it comin. Anyway you be the judge coz I’m tired of defendin myself.
So I’m walkin down the high street, loads of people are out coz the sun’s out and automatically that draws an extra thirty per cent of people out of hibernation. I get a phone call, instead of checkin the screen like I usually do I just answer you know. So I’m like ‘Hello’ and they’re like ‘Hi, I’m callin’ from some place you’ve never heard of to offer you some things you have no interest in, but first can I start by asking your name?’ (First time). ‘I’m just headin back in to work now so it’s not a good time’ and he responds in that stupid voice ‘No worries, I can give you a call back after work if that’s ok’ and like an idiot I say ‘sure thing’ and give him an actual suitable time to call me back. So I hang up annoyed at myself and that idiot who just called me, but coz I’m headin to the deli it’s not so bad. I reserved an order for my favourite sandwich, roast beef, red onion, pickles, lettuce, mayo and mustard. I reserve it every Thursday when they make roast beef and every Thursday the same woman answers the phone and asks me the same question. ‘Deli’sDeli how can I help?’… ‘Sure, what kind of bread?’… ‘Your name?’ (Second time)… ‘Ok it’ll be ready in ten minutes’. It’s never ready in ten minutes, I fall for it every time and then I end up being bumped around by these wankers in suits who are obviously managers in their office and treat their employees like shit therefore they treat everyone else the same way.
Anyway so I’m slipping my phone back into my trouser pocket when a street fund raiser just appears in front of me. He literally appeared out of nowhere, I swear, I would’ve noticed his stupid bright yellow jacket and hat. ‘Can I spare a second of your time?’ He asks in that ridiculous happy go lucky voice. I do the honourable thing and just act like he isn’t there you know, so I try and walk around him. But the little snake just shuffles in to my way. ‘Look you’ve stopped now so you may as well just hear me out. My name’s Toby, what’s yours? (Third time). ‘ I don’t have time for this I need to get my lunch and get back to work, sorry” I apologised out of kindness, fact of the matter is I had nothin to apologise for. I didn’t do anything wrong. ‘Did you know that over eighty five per cent of children in third world countries will never be able to say that sentence?’ Jesus Christ! ‘Why? They learnin another language?’ I joke back ‘No! Because they don’t have the resources to ever be as lucky as you’ he says like he’s about to cry. ‘Don’t you care at all?’ He asks visibly hurt by this. ‘Not really’ I respond again trying to walk around him, then that’s when it all kicked off. I tried to walk away but he stopped me by putting his hand on my chest then saying ‘How could you be so heartless? You’re nothin but a stuck up suit.”
Now in my book that’s an insult that warrants a complaint. So I start making a load of noise about supervisors and not being spoken to that way and eventually this short haired woman comes over to diffuse the situation. ‘Is everything ok sir?’ She asks me softly. ‘No, this little turd insulted me and continually gets in my way when I try to leave’ I complain hoping that she’s smart enough to just let me go and decide it’s not worth it. So much for my faith in humanity, if she was smart I wouldn’t be sitting here. ‘Can I just ask, what’s your name sir?’ (Fourth time) she offers a hand for me to shake. I look at it and think better of it, that’s how they rope you in. She withdraws ‘I’m sure Toby here was just letting his passion get the better off him’ she smiled; she had a cute smile to be fair. ‘What passion’s that? Gettin punched in the face for talkin to much?’ I react angrily. ‘Now there’s no need to threaten violence we only want to make people aware of our mission to help those less fortunate’ she spoke placing a hand on my arm. The bullshit meter was off the scale at this point, all that crap about helpin people was a load of arse. ‘The only help you want is the nine pound per hour you get for pissin people like me off. This twat couldn’t care if a kid in Africa eats a ham sandwich or not, he’s doin this coz his mum and dad don’t want him sleepin and wankin his days away.’ She was stunned when I said that, the look on her face was priceless. ‘Who do you think you are?’ Toby questioned. ‘Whatever’ I muttered finally getting around the two do-gooders and headin towards a roast beef haven until the little shit stain stuck his foot out and tripped me on the floor. Like literally on the dirty gum stained pavement, a charity worker.
So obviously my reaction was well deserved and instinctive. Sure he probably told the police that I tripped on the pavement while trying to storm off, and she would’ve agreed. I had no witnesses to back me up of course, but I was provoked. I don’t usually condone violence but every now and then it’s the only solution. I bet you he won’t be so pushy for starving children in Africa now. Of course the other do-gooders came swarmin in and it just turned in to melee. Eventually the police and an ambulance showed up, which was the last thing I needed coz it definitely meant I wasn’t gettin my sandwich. Also everyone who just happened to be walkin by all of a sudden was a witness, they didn’t want anythin to do with it before the police arrived, but now there’s a chance they could be on the news they’re all involved. The police put me aside round the corner; a six foot northern mammoth of man was questioning me, ‘What’s your name lad?’ (Fifth time) I spilled my guts giving him detail after detail and all he said was ‘Ok, wait here’ as if I was gonna hot foot it away. I’d done nothin wrong. A paramedic came to me while they were loading Toby in the ambulance. ‘Is everything ok with you?’ she asked. I ignored her trying to see if Toby was still breathin, ‘Can you hear me sir? Nod your head if you can hear me’ I nodded hopin it would shut her up. ‘Great do you wanna tell me your name? (Sixth time) I shook my head. She examined my wrist where there was a small cut. I didn’t notice to be honest but it must of happened when I was tripped. The giant officer came back with another cop and they loaded me in the back of a police car for ‘more routine questioning.’
At the police station they sat me in an interrogation room, the room was freezin, I sat with my jacket on and arms folded. It was about thirty minutes before anyone came in the room. This woman dressed in a grey business suit walked through the door and briefly introduced herself and the fella flankin her. Her name was DCI Richards or Roberts I can’t remember. ‘Can you confirm for the tape your name please?’ (Seventh time) ‘Great, has anyone offered you drink? Tea? Coffee?’ she asked, ‘I’m fine.’ The man stood against the wall facin me, he was doin his best bad cop impression and was just fixated on me. I wasn’t intimidated or anythin it was just weird. ‘Ok so this incident, tell us from the beginning what happened’ her voice was high and chipper, but I had the feelin like her partner behind her she could be a mean bitch if she wanted. I gave her my version of events which was the true version of events. ‘Just to let you know, we’ve had a slightly alternative version from Toby’ she said. ‘Well he’s lyin, I’m not hiding my part in all this, I did what I did and I’ll happily do it again if I had to’ I said. Her partner spoke up sayin ‘Do you know what remorse is?’ What a stupid question, I hate when people ask questions that everyone knows the answers to but they ask anyway in a poor attempt to make themselves seem smart. It was probably the wrong time and place to act like a smartass but why not I thought to myself. ‘No, can you explain this concept to me? It sounds very enrichin and may change my life’ I gave him a smile after to let him know I was only kiddin about but he didn’t take to kindly to it. DCI Richards or Roberts left the room and he followed slowly behind givin me the evils. They came back twenty minutes later and put me in another room. I saw two other officers take a dirty homeless man in there afterwards; they came out holdin their noses and laughin. Great fellas. The room they put me in was just by the exit of the station. I’m pretty certain I could’ve left if I wanted to but I didn’t want a nationwide manhunt being sent out for me. After about ten minutes sitting there I was already fallin asleep, people were walkin back and forth but none of them stopped to talk to me. I saw DCI Richards or Roberts partner leading the short haired do-gooder out. He was all smiles with her and made a point to show that to me. She caught my eye and quickly turned away. She probably just sold me up the river to save her nine pound per hour job and the little wanker she supervises. After two hours passed I was asleep on the seat, it wasn’t comfortable but I was so tired I would’ve fallen asleep anywhere. Plus the room was quiet warm, unlike that interrogation room. A man in a pink shirt woke me up, since when do cops where pink shirts to work? You couldn’t take him seriously as a policeman, I couldn’t. ‘You alright in ere mate?’ He asked soundin like he was fresh off a market stall. ‘Yeah I’m fine just waitin for them to get back to me’ I responded. ‘You in for that incident down on the igh street?’ ‘That’s the one I replied’ clicking my fingers and pointin at him. ‘What’s your name?’ (Eighth time) ‘Yeah mate you can go. I thought ‘arry told ya, the kid’s supervisor vouched for your story and e aint pressin charges so you can go.’ I sat dumbfounded.
It must have been around two hours I sat in the same spot and no-one told me I was free to go. I didn’t even call my job or anythin. They just let me sit there like I was in detention or somethin. ‘Yeah sorry bout that mate, go to the desk and get your stuff. He held the door open for me to walk out, he smelt like he poured an entire bottle of cologne on himself five minutes ago. Unless he’s an undercover agent he’s a serious cliché. There was a line at the desk, but I finally got to the front after the guy in front of me finished discussin last night’s game with the cop behind the desk. ‘Name?’ (Ninth time) he spoke without looking at me. I got all my stuff back in one of those see through plastic bags. It was dark outside now, I checked my phone no missed calls. Ironically I’d lived in London all my life but never been to this police station in this area. So I had no idea which way I needed to go. I just started walkin in the direction I saw a bus, to me that signifies a main road somewhere and that’s all I needed. My phone vibrated in my pocket, I was so tired that I just answered it. I figured it would be my job, or Dominic or maybe my mum or somethin. ‘Hello’ I mumble without checking the screen, the next thing I hear is ‘Hi I’m callin’ from some place you’ve never heard of to offer you some things you have no interest in, but first can I start by asking your name?’ (Tenth time) Jesus Christ.
Greg J Allman
This is an extract from a short I’m currently working on. Don’t let the dialogue throw you off in any sense it’s written in Jamaican patois.
Thelma clambered in to her kitchen dumping the grocery bags on the floor. She didn’t allow the Fran and those at the culinary event to destroy her passion for cooking. Her faith in her own ability took a knock however. She packed away her shopping and decided to work on dinner. She took out two chicken breasts and began seasoning them. She didn’t have an exact idea of what she was going to make but most nights she never did. She just let her inspirations take over. Ryan came in to the kitchen with music blaring from his headphones. He was dripping in sweat from his daily run.
“Wh’appen mummy?” He kissed her forehead.
“’ow yuh do?”
“Recard time nuh. Mi gan Olympics nex’ year.” He laughed.
Thelma opened a cupboard and began studying the different dry rubs she had available. She snatched a few off the shelf and shut the door. Ryan was leaning on the counter watching his mother closely.
“What?” She asked.
“Why yuh nah enter far di cookin’ ting dis year?”
“Ahh Ryan, mi nah wan’ ‘ear ‘bout dis again.”
“Why? You is ah excellent chef.”
“Ryan, stap it nuh.”
“Di kitchen is yare element. It’s where yuh belang mummy” he cried.
Thelma stopped what she was doing, her head sunk. Ryan’s words had touched a nerve deep inside her. Ryan walked over and placed a poster for the event beside her.
“Get dat ting away fram me” she moaned.
“Dat ooman ‘as ruined everyting. Dem judges nah see pas’ ‘er breas’ and smile.”
Ryan laughed at his mother’s comment. “Look dem ‘ave new judges dis year.” He slid the poster closer to her. Thelma glanced over the poster; she noticed the red lettering stating ‘New Judging Panel’. Her stomach tensed, a new judging panel meant that she really did have a clear chance of winning.
“Mi see yuh face light up!” Ryan beamed.
“It ah good chance, I mus’ say.” Thelma read over the poster.
“Doi people dem will be shocked to see you return.”
Thelma walked away from the poster and stared out the window. The people she thought to herself. The people will cause her the biggest problem of all. Her actions at the previous event still haven’t been forgotten. She hears them whispering to each other in the market. Fran was loved by everyone in the town; she couldn’t make an enemy of these people even if she tried. Thelma put herself on the opposing side to Fran. The new judges would’ve heard about the history between the two, if Fran’s able to sway their vote with her personality and popularity; Thelma wouldn’t stand a chance. She knew she had to stop Fran in her tracks. Fran was calculated enough to use every tactic possible to win, Thelma could not let that happen.
“I gonna enter this time roun’” she proclaimed bringing a smile to her son’s face. “But it ‘ave to be a joint effart wid me an’ you.”
“Anyting I can do, I will.” Ryan spoke up. This was music to Thelma’s ears.
“Good, I ‘ave ah job far you.”
“What kin’ ah job?”
“You need to go an spy pon Fran. Fin’ out wha’ she cookin’ far dis year’s event.”
“What? ‘ow mi ah do dat?”
“It nah simple. She ah recognise me as your son. She see mi dere at di event standin’ wid you.” Ryan edged to the doorway.
“Mummy, I will ‘elp any way I can, but mi can’t spy on Fran. ‘ow will I even get in to her ‘ouse?”
“I know, it was ah silly idea. Gwan fi shower I will call you when dinner is ready.” Thelma spoke absently. Ryan tapped the wall and headed upstairs leaving Thelma staring blankly at out of the window.
Ryan sat across his mother at the dinner table; neither spoke a word. Ryan kept looking up at his mother to catch her eye. He cleared his throat a few more times than he needed to, but that still wasn’t enough to spark a conversation. He played with the food on his place, humming random tunes and whistling. Thelma didn’t bat an eyelid. Years of raising a child alone provided her with the ability to have a heart of stone when necessary. It seems that this was one of those times. Ryan knew exactly what his mother was doing. But unlike her he doesn’t have a heart of stone; in fact he has a need to please. No one knows this better than Thelma. She got up from the table and washed her plate in the sink. The silence was eating away at Ryan one bite at a time. He stared at his mother before dropping his head in his hands.
“Sam ‘ave ah outfit mi can borrow” Ryan blurted out. Fran didn’t respond. “’im say it ah belang to ‘im farda but ‘im nah use it.”
“You wan’ mi to pick it up?”
“Why nat? Yuh say yuh wan’ mi to spy dis is di bes’ way.”
“Yuh nah wan’ to. Mi nah wan’ yuh to do it” Thelma spoke washing the contents of the sink. Ryan laughed aloud causing Thelma to finally look at him.
“You nah wan’ mi to do dis cah mi nah wan’ to. ‘ow many times yuh make me gwan church” Ryan laughed. “You ah chat-” he was cut off by a stern glare from his mother. That same stare that leads in to her losing her temper, Ryan has seen it one too many times.
“Look, I will go an’ get it tomorrow. Den we can ‘atch a plan.”
“No” Thelma replied.
“Mummy, mi sarry far nat agreeing straight away. I jus’ tink we need a plan firs’” Ryan’s fist inadvertently slammed the table. Thelma raised her eyebrows; she never accepted disrespect in any form. But she loved to see her son show passion.
“No” she repeated. “Gwan get it now.” Ryan leapt up from his seat and headed out the door. Thelma watched on through the window as Ryan jogged up the pathway. She made sure she was out of sight before cutting a smile.
Greg J Allman
This is a public service announcement to the gamers of the world. Beware! GTA V is upon us and there is no turning back!
Greg J Allman.
“It’s clear where you’re priorities lie Kyle, I’ve had enough.”
“Sandra please, just let me explain.”
“Explain what Kyle that you’re a thoughtless, mindless pig of a man!”
“Well yeah, but I love you.”
“Well it’s too late for that now, goodbye Kyle. Try not to waste life playing these games forever.” Sandra slammed the front door. He sure was going to miss her. He sat on the top step and listened as the car sped off. This had been what he’d been crying out for all day. Now that he had it, he wished he could trade it in.
Kyle was a sensible man; nine times out of ten he did the right thing. He treated his girlfriend well and they’d had a loving relationship for over two years now. But he had a weakness, just like every man. Kyle did his utmost to fight against it. But tonight he was surrendering to its ultimate power. He couldn’t fight it anymore. Nor did he want to.
“Well you don’t have a fever” Sandra placed her palm on his forehead.
“It’s my stomach. I’m sure it was that place last night.” Kyle moaned.
“Gary gave it rave reviews babe, it couldn’t have been there.”
“Oh yeah Gary knows all, all bow down to Gary.”
“Kyle stop. You sound like a petulant child” her voice was firm.
“I’m actually a very sick child, who would like to be excused from tonight’s dinner party.”
“But it’s my birthday Ky, I really want you to be there” Sandra cried.
“And I will be, after the dinner party. I’ll be accompanyin’ my princess to the ball” Kyle smiled. His cheek always served him well with Sandra.
“Hmm, you better not be pullin’ a fast one on me Kyle” she warned.
“I’m not” he surrendered his hands.
“My colleagues were lookin’ forward to meetin’ you at this.”
“Tell them I will see them at the after party. Champagne’s on me.”
Kyle got out of the bed and took a hold of Sandra. Tonight was her special night. Her 21st birthday, and she wanted to make sure the proceedings went off without a hitch. Kyle knew how important tonight was to her. It was all she spoke about when they went out for dinner the night before. Kyle was never fond of Lebanese and that was confirmed when he woke up with the toilet for company this morning. Sandra’s supervisor and all round creep Gary had suggested. Kyle had met him once before, although he claimed to be married no-one had ever met his wife. Plus he was a very tactile person, especially at social events. He’s the balding man in a silk white shirt at parties casually resting his palm on someone half his age’s waist.
“You promise you’re comin’ out after.”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world babe. You know that” Kyle reassured her.
“Ok, make sure you take some medicine before you leave. You’re shirt’s ironed, so is the suit” Sandra pointed over at his wardrobe.
“Make sure you do that top button up as well. I don’t wanna see you lookin’ like you’ve come out the office” Sandra moaned.
“No babe, course not.”
“Ok, oh yeah, shoes not trainers I know what you’re like and.”
“Darlin’ get a move on, you’re gonna keep everyone waitin’” Kyle interrupted.
Sandra smiled before becoming teary eyed. “I love you so much Kyle.”
“I love you to babe. Now go on, knock ‘em dead.”
Sandra skipped out of the room and hustled down the stairs. Kyle waited by his bedroom door until he heard the front door close. He hurried to his window and saw Sandra get in Gary’s car with a load of her colleagues and speed off.
Kyle leapt in to the air with admiration and joy. Tonight hadn’t only been an important night for Sandra; it was an important night for Kyle too. He thought he carried his plan out perfectly faking a sickness from last night’s restaurant but it only kept Sandra at his side all day. Until now. Kyle’s day officially started at 9:05AM when the postman delivered a package for him. He wasted little time opening it and unveiling its contents. GTA V. He had marked this day on his calendar for months, and finally at 18:57 he was able to get the game underway. All night his imagination ran wild over all the in game action he would be experiencing. Parachuting out of aeroplanes, robbing banks and stealing cars, nothing and no-one was going to put a stop to this, he had waited too long. He switched on his XBOX and slotted the game in the disc tray. Kyle could feel his blood pumping under his skin. His mobile vibrated on his bed, he checked the screen. Sandra sent him a smiley face message. He threw his phone back on the bed. His screen lit up showing the opening credits to the game. Kyle selected which character he wanted to start with. It was a tossup between Michael the middle aged gangster going through a mid life crisis or Franklin, the gangbanger. He went with Michael. The opening credits to Michael’s scenario began, Kyle’s eyes were glued to the television, he reached over for his remote and cranked up the volume. His mobile vibrated, he felt around his bed before putting his hand on it. Another message, this time asking where he is, he messaged back in bed with a thousand kisses. He was sick of the interruptions; he was missing important plot points to the game.
Finally the actual game play started he was in the middle of a bank robbery with Michael’s character. His hands were shaking in excitement; the realism of the world created in this game was astonishing. Kyle had never seen anything like it. This was better than any birthday dinner, even better than sex with the woman he loved. Nothing beat GTA V on a quiet evening in. Kyle became so lost in the game that he didn’t hear the tyres screeching outside his home, or the front door opening and slamming shut. He didn’t hear the footsteps hurrying up the stairs and he certainly didn’t hear his bedroom door open.
“What on Earth are you playin’ at?”
“Huh” Kyle dropped the controller in shock.
“You said you were sick, you lyin’ bastard!” Sandra screamed.
“No, I am really. I just thought”
“Oh save it Kyle.” She reached over to the bed and picked up her phone. “I left it here” she said holding it up.
“Babe, I’ll get dressed I’ll come to dinner” Kyle moaned.
“No Kyle, just leave me alone.”
Footsteps thundered on the stairs and Gary emerged at the doorway.
“Ay up Kyle! Heard you weren’t feelin’ too clever.”
“Oh he’s fine, he just wanted to stay in and play his video games. Instead of celebrating my 21st. What a man eh” Sandra’s words cut him deep.
“Video games? How old are you now mate?” Gary asked.
Kyle let out a sigh “Gary can you leave us please.”
Gary tapped his watch at Sandra angering Kyle even more.
“Gary please, get out.”
“Ok, calm down Kylie boy.”
“Don’t speak to Gary that way” Sandra defended him. “Anyway we’re leavin’ now. Don’t bother turnin’ up later.” Sandra followed Gary down the stairs. Kyle stood at the top of the stairs in his pyjama bottoms.
“Sandra please, just wait.”
Gary disappeared out the front door. Sandra stood on the door step and looked back at Gary. Her mascara was running from the tears.
“It’s clear where you’re priorities lie Kyle, I’ve had enough.”
“Sandra please, just let me explain.”
“Explain what Kyle that you’re a thoughtless, mindless pig of a man!”
“Well yeah, but I love you.”
“Well it’s too late for that now, goodbye Kyle. Try not to waste life playing these games forever.”
Just an extract of something I’m working on. I’m currently playing around with setting and using a non linear narrative. As always any feedback is great. This is only the beginning but the story would carry on in the same fashion as this.
Greg J Allman.
The smell of stale food and beer nauseated George when he stepped through the door. His arrival had managed to turn a few heads. He had the look of a detective, jaded yet arrogant, he stood in his suit with a hand in his pocket .Even though he was far from being Kojak or Columbo he liked the idea of carrying that demeanour. His foot stuck to the floor, a result of standing in the same spot for too long, he hopped to the side to keep his balance, deciding not to check if there is any damage on his shoe he made his way to the bar. He gave the barman a nod, unbuttoned his blazer and parked himself on a stool not before checking himself in the mirror behind the bar. This used to be a place of solace for him at a rough time, he reflected on this period as walking out of one hell straight in to another. The chubby mess sitting beside him was nursing an empty glass of what appeared to be whiskey; he was breathing heavily making unsavoury pig like noises.
“Would you like another drink Paul?” George asked watching himself in the mirror behind the bar.
“Why else would I be here?”
George signalled two more to the barman who nodded in response. “How you been keeping mate?” George asked Paul.
“Mate” Paul sniggered. “We are not mates.”
The bartender brought over two whiskey doubles; George paid with a note and told the bartender to keep the change.
“You all flash now.” Paul shook his head disapprovingly. Paul picked up his drink and took a long gulp and slammed the glass down on the bar.
“Look I need a favour.”
“Fuck you.” George sat quietly staring at Paul who was looking away.
“I need your help.”
“That’s a one way street for you ain’t it.”
“I know I”
“No you fucking don’t know, I was a mate to you when you were crying your eyes out about how tough life in a big fucking house is. But when I lost everything where were you?”
Paul got up to walk off but George held his arm to make him stay. George’s face was desperate and Paul could sense that it was something serious, plus his equilibrium was off from all the whiskey. Paul sat back down and kept his eyes fixated on George’s untouched glass. George turned his head and realised what he was staring at. He slid the glass over to Paul who wasted no time in disposing of its contents.
“Two more over here mate.” Paul shouted to the barman.
“I don’t want a drink Paul.”
“I know, they’re for me.” Paul knew George owed him and would owe him even more after this conversation, and this time he intended to make sure George paid off his debt.
“Ok fine, anyway I need.”
“How much?” Paul asked.
“I don’t need money.” George’s hands rose in disbelief.
“I can see that.” Paul said pinching George’s blazer. The barman put down two more double whiskeys which Paul grabbed immediately; George paid again and gave the bartender a nod.
“You’re so busy telling me what you need, you haven’t thought about what I need, so how much?” Paul smiled.
“Ten” George’s voice was firm.
“Fine” Paul broke.
“Great.” George sat waiting for Paul to speak again, instead he gestured his hand for George to continue telling him what he needed.
“Right so tomorrow, I need you to come to the fun fair.”
George held Harriet’s hand as they strolled along the grass taking in the fairground’s attractions. This type of thing had never been George’s cup of tea but today he really didn’t have a choice in the matter. Harriet beamed at the rollercoaster swerving and swooping, her excitement was comparable to a child on Christmas morning. She tugged at George’s arm each time she saw something that amazed her, if she carried on at this rate his arm will come right out of its socket. Whilst Harriet’s enthusiasm for the fun fair was visible for all to see, George kept his emotions in check, keeping his eyes covered with his Ray Ban’s. George frowned at the amount of teenagers and young adults who were out; the sunshine always brought people out in their droves. He admired the style of the youth these days as it was more refined and mature unlike a few years ago when everyone wore baggy jeans around their knees. However seventeen year olds wearing cords still made him feel old. Although Harriet was five years younger and not getting any younger herself she was aging slow and gracefully whereas George had recently joined the elite club of men who rely on hair dye to keep them looking young. Old age was definitely catching up with George but he had no intention of being trapped in its net just yet.
“Isn’t this amazing George?”
“It sure is” he flatly responded.
“Oh cheer up grouchy” Harriet smiled squeezing his arm. “You’re at the fun fair the funnest place ever!”
“I guess, plus I do love the candy floss.”
“Yuck, I hate that stuff, but it’s a start.” She threw him a smile to get him in the mood and he reciprocated by sticking out his tongue and laughing.
“Oh this’ll get you in the mood” she pointed towards a Strongman Striker which was surrounded by puny teenagers who were struggling to the ring the bell. “Let’s go, you can show these kids what a real man is, plus I really want a bear!”
“Let’s do the rollercoaster first.”
“Oh is someone nervous?” Harriet teased.
“No, it’s just that you won’t be able to get the bear on there.”
“We’ll worry about that later.”
“Besides you need to build up to the big attractions, duhh.”
Harriet headed on towards the Strongman Striker, George stood with his hands in his pockets. He removed a note from his pocket and glared down at it. The colour immediately left his face.
‘LEAVE THE MONEY UNDER THE SEAT AT THE FRONT OF THE ROLLERCOASTER’
The words were constructed using magazine cut outs. He had put the money in a yellow envelope and was hoping to end this debacle today. He folded it back up and put it back in his pocket and walked towards Harriet.
Naomi had no plans to say goodbye, she didn’t even leave a note. Her life had taken a dramatic turn since turning 18. She had big dreams to work for the NHS. Being a nurse was all she dreamed of; ever since she saw a picture of her grandmother in uniform. On her last day of school she mapped out her life, down to every last fine detail. However sitting in the cold at Victoria coach station at 11:30PM wasn’t part of it. Neither was falling pregnant at 18. As a matter of fact, nothing in Naomi’s life had been part of her plan. Her big dreams suddenly turned in to an even bigger nightmare.
She let out a sigh and stroked Daniel’s head, he was 4 now. Sitting out in the cold with no scarf or hat wasn’t doing him any good. But neither was living in a back street South London estate. She had a decision to make and she made it. The more she reflected, the more she realised how easy the decision was. Simone had always told her so. She remembered it like it was yesterday, they sat on the swings in the children’s playground on the estate. It was the last time she saw Simone before she moved up to Birmingham.
“Most of our stuff is up there already, me and Martin are drivin’ up tomorrow” Simone smiled.
“You must be so excited; it’s like a whole new start.”
“It is. I’ve had my fair share of shit in this place.” Simone’s smile disappeared, although she hated London, her younger sister had it worse. Way worse. She was only 18 and was 6 months pregnant. To make matters worse, the father was local drug dealer Haze, a real lowlife scumbag. Simone had tried her hardest to keep Naomi from his clutches, but the allure of the bad boy was just too strong. Naomi never said she regretted her decision to keep the baby, not once. But seeing Simone fly high while she crawled through the dirt wasn’t easy. Simone shuffled her swing across and held Naomi’s hand. Tears were falling from her eyes.
“Hey come on Nay, you can always come up and visit.”
“I know” Naomi sobbed. “It’s not that, it’s just…I feel like you’re leavin’ me, When I really need you.” She broke out in tears again.
“What do you want me to do Nay? I told you how I felt 6 months ago. You chose to ignore me.”
“No!” Naomi’s voice boomed. “I chose what was best for me!”
“How is havin’ a kid with a drug dealer what’s best for you? Explain that one to me!”
“He loves me, he takes care of me.”
“Oh yeah, where was he when you had your scans? Selling drugs. Where was he for your Lamaze classes? Selling drugs. Where will he be when that baby is being born?…”
“Shut up, just shut up!” Naomi cried. She got up from the swing and walked towards the railing. She leaned on the rail crying hysterically. Simone came up behind her and placed a hand on her back.
“You’ll always have me Nay, if ever it gets too much. Just leave. Ok, just leave. Promise me you’ll do that.”
Daniel stayed awake on the coach when it drove through the city. This was the first time he’d seen bright lights in London that weren’t flashing from the top of a police car. Naomi made sure he got a good look at the city; she knew he wouldn’t be back here for a very long time. The buildings and lights faded as the coached roared on and city streets transformed into motorways. Daniel had fallen asleep by now. Naomi gazed out the window at the same stretch of road again and again. At the tender age of four he’d already been through his fair share of traumas. It was time for Naomi to change that, before it was too late.
“Mummy is daddy coming to eat some cake?”
“Yes darlin’, as soon as he finishes work.”
“Daddy always at work.”
“Yes he is” Naomi said staring blankly out of the window. Haze had promised he would be home for Daniel’s birthday. But she hadn’t seen or heard anything of him. He missed the first time Daniel ever blew out his candles and he missed him unwrapping his first present.
“Mummy, can I play in my room?”
“Sure darlin’, let’s save some cake for daddy ok.”
“Ok, I gonna play with daddy’s toy.”
“Daddy’s toy? What’s daddy’s toy?” Naomi asked.
“I show you, I can’t carry it’s too heavy.”
Daniel took his mother’s hand and led her to his room. Naomi was pleasantly surprised that Haze had actually bought Daniel a present. Even more so had the wherewithal to give it to him in the morning.
“Daddy hid it under my bed, but I found it” Daniel smiled triumphantly. He let go of his mother’s hand and ran over to his bed. He used both of his hands to carry the present over to Naomi.
Naomi jumped back with a fright; she took the present from her son’s grasp and placed it on the floor.
“Where did you find that Daniel?”
“Under my bed, here” he lifted up the mattress and pointed.
“Oh my God” Naomi whispered. She grabbed Daniel and squeezed him. She couldn’t stop her body shaking. Daniel put his arms around his mother and rested his head on her. Naomi glanced back over at the gun that lay on the floor. Haze had hidden it in his son’s bed; there was no line he would not cross. She knew she couldn’t stay any longer. She couldn’t let Daniel grow up in this environment.
Everything Simone had told her was correct. Haze was not cut out to be a father, he was a scumbag. Keeping him around Daniel only endangered her son. She made the decision that night after a quick phone call to her sister, telling her to wait up because she was coming for a visit. Simone didn’t ask any questions, just told her the kettle will be on when she gets here.
Naomi checked her phone, there were no missed calls or messages from Haze. Haze probably wouldn’t notice they were gone until next week. The motorway continued for miles, Naomi was drifting off in her seat. The same signs kept repeating the further down the road they went. Her destination was getting closer, but nothing seemed to be changing. The same roads, the same cars and the same street lights. She stroked Daniel’s hair and watched him stir in his sleep. She kept a hand over Daniel; her only job now was to love him. Love him in a way no one else would. Love him in a way his father never could.
Greg J Allman
Yesterday I wrote a piece on teenage pregnancy entitled ‘The Teenage Years’. That small piece was inspired by a short story I wrote loosely based on that theme. Check it out below and let me know what y’all think.
Greg J Allman.
Michael placed the picture back on the shelf as Mary’s laughs suddenly turned to tears. He knew it would be difficult saying goodbye to her; their friendship had grown ever since they met as six year olds on the playground climbing frame. Despite her reluctance to hang with him in public, he was no stranger to the Smith household. Her mother often enjoyed cooking for the pair as they studied. They were both high flyers in school and put it down to Mrs Smith’s brain food that kept them buzzing. Michael’s social ineptness never changed how Mary looked at him over the rim of her maths textbook. His glasses sitting on the edge of his nose when he squints at algebra problems; he never wore those glasses inside the school gates.
Michael stepped towards Mary, she cuddled a cushion. “You know I’m comin’ back right?” Mary replied with a nod, unable to look Michael in his eyes. He kneeled down in front of her and placed a hand on her knee. Despite the lack of make-up she looked as pretty as she did in that picture, he’d heard from his mother that women always have a glow during pregnancy, finally he understood it. He wiped her eyes with his thumb and kissed her forehead.
“You gonna keep writin’ me those poems?”
She nodded again “I got a new one over there” she mumbled pointing towards her desk. Michael crawled to the desk and back again picking up a folded piece of lined paper. He theatrically cleared his throat
“Introducing the words which make the world go round from Ms. Mary Smith!” He feigned an audience applause and cheers, then read aloud.
“My mind treads along the sea bed
Sharks and piranhas await my stumble
The wave’s crash in to my brain, my heart sinks
With the ship we both sailed in.
This mermaid will forever live below the sea.
With the treasures paradise can only imagine.”
They sat in silence, the last words of the poem hung in the air; Michael read the poem over once again trying to grasp some sort of meaning. “Is this about your unborn?” Michael asked still studying the poem.
Mary’s eyes pierced the top of his head. “This is really good; you should try to get these published. ‘Diary of a Pregnant Woman’. That could be the title.” He laughed.
“Hmm” she responded. Michael didn’t realise the tension which crept in to the room. Mary’s eyes remained fixed on Michael’s head.
“What do you think?” Michael asked.
“Huh, yeah sounds good.” Mary answered absently.
“Hey, come on.” He moved on to the couch next her. “Eric will be a good dad, plus you got your mum, my mum and me. I know it’s scary but you can do it.”
“You don’t understand Michael” she cried.
“Then make me” he replied wiping her tears with his thumb.
She thought back to the days of them studying together and him being oblivious to her feelings. Nothing had changed since then. She glanced up at the photograph and thought back to the evening it was taken. She and Michael snuck away from the table of another boring Easter family dinner. They decided to take advantage of the spliff he had stored in his underwear drawer the past two months. Mixing the haze with a stolen bottle of brandy from the cabinet of Michael’s father led them to a night of untold truths. Mary spilt all the gory details from her short lived romance with Eric Phillips and admitted regretting losing her virginity too soon. Michael confessed to his palm being his only sexual partner. The cold night of warm truths led them to Mary’s bedroom where they spent their one and only night together in the same bed. Mary knew Michael was the one after he held her in her arms like any man should after sex. Mary expected him to be gone the next morning, however was rather unsettled at what he’d left behind. She got with Eric almost instantaneously after sleeping with Michael.
He’d been after her for so long and she craved that feeling she had with Michael once more. Mary remembers the day she sat in the toilet at college for an hour crying her eyes out like it was yesterday. She hid it for a long time, exploring every avenue open to her. Once the morning sickness started there was no hiding it from her mother. She summoned Eric to her home and advised them on what she thought was the right thing to do. Eric tried really hard to support her in the first couple of months but grew tired of the wanting and the needing from Mary. He started chasing other girls from college when Mary’s weight gained and he hardly showed up at her house. By then it was too late, the sweet dream of a family and their own flat turned in to a sour nightmare of life as a single mother.
Michael stuck by her through everything even accompanying her to a scan. He held her hand throughout all the hospital visits and rubbed her stomach when the baby kicked. Mary had pictured telling Michael the truth for months now. But, there was never a right time to tell Michael that his life was going to change forever. A letter from the University of Cambridge’s admissions office did it for him helping him realise his dream had come true. A place along side education’s elite was what he always longed for, what he deserved. He studied hard all throughout his A-levels, and his uncle came up with the cash for him to attend. He was over the moon. She couldn’t ruin Michael’s life, yet how could she keep something like this from him. Surely he would want to know.
“This baby isn’t Eric’s.” Mary muttered.
“What?” Michael responded. “Whose is it?”
“It’s yours Michael.”