Friday, 8 May 2015

Spoilt Children

Spoilt Children 

He opened the kitchen draw to see stacks of silver spoons. The draw was for silver spoons only as the house was so big, one grain of rice may have had it's own private place. His name was Stanley, twelve years old. A smug face with fiery red hair which flopped to the side. His piercing blue eyes were mysterious and focused. He wore a basic trousers and shirt from 'Next.' He didn't wait for dinner which was half an hour away, he was hungry and opened the ceiling high fridge to retrieve his favourite ice cream - Fish Food Ben & Jerry's. He ate each bite with hardly any feeling, each scoop man handled finished with a self centred sounding "Mmmm" when the melted ice cream hit his stomach. There wasn't really any enjoyment to his food, just self satisfaction.

In the garden, his twin sister Kenley was floating on a lilo in the pool which stretched almost from one side of the garden to the other. She looked like a little old madam: laying in an erect posture, black Gucci sunglasses which almost covered her face, Luis Vitton swimming outfit (even though she didn't need the top half because she had no breasts yet) and a French style Prada hat which made her look like an overgrown lampshade. The nails on her hands and feet were painted red. Kenley was also proud of her red headed family.

The dog, Minx, was a little cute grey Yorkshire Terrier. He was yapping at a swarm of ladybirds mating on a plant which was out of his reach. Kenley had her headphones on and was listening to French music. She paid no attention to her parents about getting ready for supper, she had been on the lilo for a further twenty minutes. Deep seeded disrespect was a part of her character, probably taken from her mother. She was also selfish just like her brother, taken from being spoilt by her father. Her mother called from one of the twenty top windows of the house to Kenley to get ready for dinner again, but Kenley turned her headphones up louder as the sun continued to tan her pasty white skin.

In many ways they were a normal family, supper time was always at the dinner table for instance. For a skinny boy, Stanley had an appetite even after his beloved Ben and Jerry's. Kenley was now dressed into a pink polo t shirt and running bottoms, bare foot. The four servants, all men and from Italy worked around the table, plating the family's food. One of the waiters Vito, the maitre d of the house laid the food on the mothers plate precisely. He had been the maitre d at the house for nine years. He liked his job as he moved briskly onto the fathers plate, laying an ever so finely cut of juicy medium cooked stake. His brigade handled the garnish and sauce. They were younger Italian's, newer to the house who took the job for experience when they first moved to England. 

The mansion was enormous, the ceilings high and the décor English Victorian classic. The father, Anthony, was a tall slender red headed English man. Handsome, but had a gypsy twang to his accent he tried to cover up his whole life. Originally from blue collar roots, which was a fact he hated, with no qualifications at twenty years of age he got lucky by becoming a cog in the city wheel as a banker, before finally hitting the big time with an oil investment deal which made him a multi multi millionaire. Everything about how the house was organised especially supper time was from his instruction. Friends of his thought his attitude towards things was aggressive, but he didn't care.

The mother, Gretta, was from a white collar upbringing. She had red hair, spoke classic English posh, had a gangly frame with a bit of 'edge' to her dress sense with the holes in the jeans and shirts thing. Her entire family tree was from posh stock, Gretta didn't know any different and because of that fact made her fortunate place in life go to her head a bit. When they got married, Anthony being from a different class concerned her family, they thought he was from the 'dirty' end on society, but Gretta liked that 'unpolished' side to Anthony. However, if he wasn't a millionaire she definitely wouldn't have married him.

"Mother, Fairydust needs a new saddle" Kenley said as she took a small mouthful of Halibut, remembering to keep her mouth closed as she was talking and eating.

Stanley and Kenley were spoilt rotten plain and simple, encouraged totally from their father because Anthony once again didn't care. The children could have whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. At this point he was enjoying a succulent chunk of steak. Gretta didn't pay attention to the children's spoilt-ism, half in her own thoughts of her perfect Friday night that week as she was chomping on a runner bean - looking after her figure. She had the none caring attitude just like Anthony only in different ways. Kenley didn't even ask her question, it was an expectancy, the way she and her brother had developed. Fairydust was her favourite horse out of the four in her 'collection.'

"Remember to treat your others horses with the same care and attention dear" Gretta said.
"The others don't ride as fast mother" Kenley replied.
"Then I will trade them in for new ones" Anthony said.
"There you go, problem solved. What do you say to your father?"
"Thank you papa"
"You're welcome darling"

Most evenings the children were together, usually watching movies in the home cinema. That night it was Stanley’s choice; Percy Jackson. The home cinema had three rows of seats, four seats to each row. Stanley was sitting in his place, row two, one in from the end to the right. Kenley spent most of her time busy on her Iphone on a group chat in a fashion forum she had discovered. She was being chatted up by a user named Kinder Bar, she was leading him on as she got a kick out of the chasing game. The naughty smile crept on her face because the forum was about fashion interests and like clockwork whenever she logged on miraculously Kinder Bar was waiting every time.

Stanley had no idea what his twin sister was fiddling about with, to him she had become an Iphone hound, but loved her company - it was a twin thing. Kenley snuggled into Stanley’s chest the way she usually did when she was getting tired, eventually the Iphone put to rest and she was watching the movie on the large screen. Stanley and Kenley touched hands, a connection. However it seemed too much wealth surrounded their young beings. Soon they had to go to bed like they were supposed too, but instead were going to fall asleep in the cinema like they were used too.

Fishing in Cumbria for the week was the vacation. Anthony was packing the last two tents on top of the black Range Rover, his Range Rover he called Mickey. Stanley and Kenley were excitable, jumping up and down in the back seats, asking too many questions they way children do when they can't sit still. Gretta was sitting in the front passenger seat with her feet on the dashboard, on her Iphone's Skype in group chat with her friends. She just wanted to get away for the week, she had no interest in fishing. This trip was all about Anthony as he sat in the drivers seat animatedly and turned to his children in the back seat. Stanley was doing his best to be spirited by wearing a fishing hat Anthony bought him, Kenley was dressed in designer clothes from head to toe looking like she always did, going to a catwalk show.

"Ready kids?" Anthony said as if he was a child himself.
"Yeah!!" Stanley and Kenley replied.
"I don't think they have the fishing bug they way you do" Gretta said.
"That's rich, neither do you" Kenley said.
"Ah the lot of you will be converted once we catch a whopper. Right Stanley?"

Stanley just smiled, still un-enthused and ungrateful. It was quite rude considering how much effort Anthony was putting in. He started up the and began driving, shouting a few "Woo hoo's" and singing:

"We're all going on a, summer holiday."
"But we're not going on holiday dad, we are only going fishing" Kenley replied.

It was twelve years later. The destination was the fifteenth floor in Canary Wharf, the company 'MultiMax Incorporation.' Stanley was heading a meeting, standing at the front of a thirty seated meeting table discussing the latest stock options for the hedge fund company he worked at. He had become a tall young man, slim and towering like his dad. His hair cut more styled and gelled, his face had become longer, his piercing eyes blue softened. He was dapper in a slick navy suit and spoke with a low mature voice. When the meeting drew it's end all the employees responded to Stanley with importance.

Stanley had his own office. It was bigger than it really needed to be for one person because there wasn't much in it a part from a desk, chair and him, the rest was just open space. He was playing Call of Duty on his XBox he kept underneath his desk. He didn't his job because it was too stressful and his XBox got him through his days. Some would wonder how got away with this and in Stanley's mind he could do whatever he wanted - because he could! Tracy knocked on the door. Stanley paused the game and put the controller out of sight. Yes he did as he pleased but he didn't take liberties against the people he worked with.

"Come in" Stanley said.

Tracy walked in. She was Stanley's personal assistant, petite, but seemed taller than she looked. She wore a tight short skirt and a professional blue business shirt. Her see through tights and black high heels were sexy, given underneath she was a geek. She was highly educated from a good University and now worked as a PA at one of the largest companies in the world. 

"Your files for the Bulgaria venture sir" Tracy said as she handed a folder to Stanley.
"Thank you Tracy" Stanley replied tiredly. Tracy saw this with concern.
"Is everything OK sir?" 
"Fine Tracy. You are doing a very good job"

Stanley liked Tracy. He thought she was gorgeous with her geekiness dressed up in business sexiness, and how her blonde hair was always done in two specific styles, that day it was wavy. Tracy left the room and sat at her desk. She immediately starting writing a report, her sharp mind on duty like a machine, that was one of her best qualities. She looked back at Stanley's door and knew her boss was in some kind of trouble or depressed. She had seen it on his face ever since he came to the company.

At home, Stanley was walking to the foot of the garden. He was in fact the owner of the company and the building he worked at was the flagship oil hedge fund to the MultiMax Incorporation - his dads business and he was now the owner. But he couldn't handle the responsibility. The pressure was killing him and it was wearing out his body as he looked at his parents grave. 

"I don't know if I can handle it. I'm sorry mum, dad" Stanley said to his parents.

Anthony and Gretta had died in a freak car accident when Stanley and Kenley were eighteen. It had hit the twins hard and they were never the same since. They still lived in the same house they grew up in and their parents were buried at the very foot of the garden.

"I should be able to carry the family business for you easily dad, but I don't know why I can't. I am a disgrace."

Later that evening Stanley was sat at the dinner table on his own, nothing in the house style wise had changed, except the servants. There was one now, a young Spanish quiet man named Rafe, he was big boned but gentle. He was serving Stanley his dinner, it was Rafe's own lasanga with a twist with more colours and spices. He liked his job, but was mainly there because Stanley paid well.

"Thank you Rafe" Stanley said.
"You're welcome sir" Rafe replied and then left with his serving plate and knife.

The house was quiet, the stillness and hollowness reflected Stanley’s feelings. He ate his lasanga in silence and each mouthful seemed the effort of a weight lift. His fire red hair seemed lighter these days and his blue eyes were becoming a washed out grey. He took a moment to look at the next chunk of lasanga on his fork before eating it and something hit home to him – the fact he had never cooked his own meal before bothered him.

In Kenley's room, all of the curtains were drawn, it was the same room she had as a child. She was also twenty five years old now like her twin brother, her body and limbs had stretched long and gangly, just like the features of her mother. Her red hair was messy and uncared for though, her face was tired and baggy. However underneath the mess there was undeniable beauty, resembling the type eternal beauty like Rachel Wiesz. But Kenley had lost her way since her parents passed away, she fell off the train and never got back on.

“Ken, can I come in?” Stanley said as he knocked on the door from outside.
“Yes” Kenley replied.

Stanley walked in. The room was dark the way he was used to seeing it. The smell of sleep was starting to permanently fragrance off the walls. It hurt him to see his sister like this. He eventually sat by Kenley’s side and touched her shoulder. Kenley turned to him and her eyes were lost, they were in too many places at once. The healthy pale clear skin had an unhealthy green texture injected into it now, making it paler too. The strange marks on her arms Stanley suspected were from heroin injections. But Kenley told him before heroin was no such thing.

“We had it too easy didn't we Stan? That is why we can’t deal with this better” Kenley said.
“I know” Stanley replied.

They shared a hug and the feeling between them made them feel safe at least, because at least they had each other, they always did.

“Promise me you will see this through” Stanley said.
“I promise” Kenley replied.

At that moment Rafe knocked on the door to say he was leaving. Stanley and Kenley said “bye.” Rafe walked down the twirling flight of painted white stairs with a small doggy bag of lasanga in his hand. He was going to take it home to his young Spanish wife. He thought a bit about his employers, a part of him felt for what they were going through, but after eight years since their parents passed away, the other part of him thought they needed to become adults now.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

No Direction

No Direction

The waiting irritated him which now resorted to him opening another can of 7up. This was a huge film and they served him 7up! Another thing which pissed his off about this film. He looked at the picture of his daughter on the table in front of him, the frame was made out of paper kisses she made. The brimming cheek to cheek smile on her face, the short black hair her mother brainwashed her into having, standing in a go kart racers jacket. That was her favourite day, when she won the go-karting. The twinkle in his blue middle aged, but still full of youth eyes was one of the things which made it clear his daughter got him through film sets.

His long six foot four frame sat in the make up chair, fed up. His mind was thinking about what shorts to buy for the holiday he was planning as soon as the movie was over. The make up artist was combing his unbleached light blonde hair in the style of a woman's: straight and reaching the shoulders, as he was playing a 1970's art teacher whom was confused with his sexuality. The make up artist frowned too much, her name was Fire, that was actually her name. She was too angry, moving heavy handedly and had piercings in almost ever part of her face. This annoyed him. He sipped his 7up and the fucking lemon taste was so familiar he thought about crushing the can in one hand.

His name was Xavier and he stood up. Fire was already onto her Iphone flicking through her latest match suggestions on a dating site, and as usual, no offers. Xavier swore he saw Fire rip one of the piercings from her face out of anger... he looked again and he was right! She did! His costume: slim straw trousers, simple shirt which fitted him too well and brown loafers without any socks. Xavier was meditating almost, his eyes were closed, he was performing his ritual of getting into character. His South American rugged face stood tall above his well balanced shoulders. The young production assistant ran up the stairs too eagerly and fell over on the last step and then all the way to the bottom. Eventually he made it back up the steps, rubbing his anorexic like frame and telling Xavier he was needed for set. Xavier liked this boy, to him being forty seven and a professional actor for over thirty years, the boy was like any good ambitious runner starting out: eager, Duracell battery energy, tell them to be a slave for the day and they would probably take it as a compliment.

The set was a library and the film crew were everywhere. The lighting crew finished setting up the lights, turned them on and the set shone bright. Rocco, another actor, was standing around preparing himself for the scene and going over the lines in his head. He was like Xavier: South American and tall, but with the more traditional features such as his brown hair and eyes. Xavier was rare: a South American with European blue eyes and blonde hair. When Xavier arrived on set, they caught each others eye and for the briefest of moments each of them spat blood at the other. They didn't talk to each other at all. Xavier sat in the chair he was going to act in and kept the image of his daughter in his mind "I will see you soon baby, I will see you soon baby" he repeated in his head. Not only was the film business nothing more than a pay cheque to him these days, he had to put up with pretentious  jumped up actors like Rocco.

Cat arrived flamboyantly onto set. She was as skinny as a garden rake, middle aged like Xavier and Rocco with electric blue hair which was a part of her character. She was American, the accent annoyingly too American and proud and her attitude was as a disaster.The runner boy leaped to her with a cup of tea, it was obvious he fancied her and Xavier watched him do this. Xavier thought he looked like one of those too excited puppies jumping to the occasion, and thought if he wanted to climb the film profession ladder he should stop becoming star struck like a member of public. Cat was forty five minutes late and she went to her position on set like she arrived early. Fire touched up Cat's face heavy handedly. By this time she had covered up the bleeding on her own face from the piercing she pulled earlier. It made Xavier laugh at the thought of Fire having no more piercings left by lunch time. Xavier huffed as Cat was jabbering away at his brain about being underpaid for the film and Xavier felt like telling her to shut up.

As difficult as it was for Xavier and Rocco to be in a ten mile radius from each other, when all three actors were sat ready to begin work, they put their differences aside. All of them were playing teachers: Cat a drifting slut who couldn't grow up, Rocco the married man whom became bored and Xavier the recently bi-curious. The scene was a discussion about students work. Xavier's character had a suspicion the other two were fucking and it made him envious because he couldn't choose which one he wanted, he became bitter and jealous. It was deep bitterness too, like how he generally felt about this film. However he thought about his daughter to stay happy and the way she cursed at people who told her she couldn't accomplish certain things. That thought made him smile.

The director was once Hollywood's dearest, but now a somewhat has been and this film was his last chance at a comeback. Another middle aged person, named Matti from Finland but brought up in LA. He was like any other established film director with a signature look: his was a plain shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He liked to dress smart, but with a bit of edge. He had a large and long full set of hair blonde hair (a bit like Xavier's) his features that of a teenage boy. It was like his development as a person refused to age. He was talking to his camera crew with assertiveness, but with a hint of uncertainness like this film being his last chance saloon worried his mind constantly. The fact he knew Xavier and Rocco didn't get on because Xavier was jealous of Rocco for having the lead role (that was the truth) and Cat was notorious for being a diva, didn't make his mind rest any better.

Matti shouted "action" and the actors began work. It was Cat who was the centre of the action talking about which students had promise of getting into Harvard, Princeton etc. The supporting role of a librarian who wore glasses that were too big for his face and got a power trip off being recently promoted as the supervisor, every now and again said "sssssh" for comedy. Rocco's character agreed with everything Cat said. By this time in the film they had had a steamy encounter, but hadn't kissed yet, he was preparing his move. Meanwhile Xavier's character was fantasising about Cat, and at the same time fantasising about getting love letters from Rocco.

Xavier and Rocco continued to remain professional as the scene progressed. The way they were able to completely shut off a part of their brains which hated the other whist they were in character showed their experience. Until... Rocco touched Cat's leg, which was a part of the script. And then started kissing her, which wasn't apart of the script!! Matti shouted "CUT." Cat jumped up like the world had ended, shouting theatrically like she was performing for an Oscar, but forgot enthusiasm wasn't just about shouting loudly. She stormed off set, probably to have a quick sex break with a producer. Xavier and Rocco were at each others throats, close to throwing punches. Xavier had a decent argument against Rocco this time, but Rocco repeatedly said the kiss would be more realistic, more beautiful. Not only was that such a European thing to say, Rocco was one of the most stubborn people Xavier had ever met.

Matti was close to tears, he was like a baby in some ways. Instead of getting a grip on his movie, he felt sorry for himself. Momentarily he let his first assistant director sort the problems out by barking at everybody like a dog you wanted to tame but couldn't, whilst Matti had a few minutes to tug on a cigarette in the corner of the library. His energy was heading him towards failure, he felt the desperation eating away at every bone in his body, his comeback movie seemed on it's way down. His head hung to the floor, the cigarette smoking into the butt.

In the make up room the yelling carried on between Xavier and Rocco. Cat appeared somewhat mysteriously from a room no-one really used and tried to blend in. Another head popped out of the room a few seconds later like a jack in the box checking if the coast was clear. Eventually Matti arrived with the aid of his colleagues and producers of course, and as a team, brought the actors together. Fire watched on with intrigue, it was the best bit of action she saw all day as she finally found people on set angrier than she was. She still hadn't had any match offers on her dating site yet and it was almost lunch time.

Xavier grabbed himself another fucking 7up because he had no other choice. He drank it in one go and then picked up the picture of his daughter which gave him a feeling of hope. His phone rang and it was her! She called to ask how his day was and that she told her teacher to kiss her cute little white ass for saying she would only manage a 'C' on her geography assignment and she ended up getting an 'A'. This completely made Xavier's day and thought "that's my girl."

When everything calmed down Matti let his colleagues do the talking. The actors saw this as severely cowardly and their respect for him sunk. Matti did manage to say a few things though; they were all agreeing words like "OK" after his first assistant director spoke. If a parrot were a human, blonde and from Finland it would be Matti thought Xavier. However by that point Xavier's mind was made up and he had just about enough of the whole film circus.

Xavier's daughter waited with her suitcase and bag, sitting in her go-karting jacket. Her all black hair had been even more cropped. Her Brazilian mother waited next to her with exactly the same hair cut, they were like mini and mini me, identical except in years. Her mother was very protective over that hair cut, she combed her daughters hair like it was a work of art. Xavier pulled up in his yellow Ferrari. Melaka (daughters name) jumped up and ran to the car... passing Xavier and sat at the wheel pretending to drive. Xavier didn't know why she loved cars so much, but thought it was cute.

The ex partners had a moment to talk about things, which kicked off with small talk and then progressed to Xavier looking after Melaka on the holiday he was taking her too. The mother looked great for pushing fifty: the Brazilian sass to her sex appeal as hot as it were at her sweet sixteenth, the smile so bright and eternal it didn't show a sign of a crack, the fit body it was still made for a man's sins. She told Xavier to look after their baby and to have a good time in Miami. Xavier gave her a kiss on the cheek. She always despised the Hollywood world and at that moment Xavier felt the same. He didn't miss not turning up for work that day, he'd rather spend it with Melaka in Miami for three weeks.

On set Matti was actually crying and to the film crews horror they thought it was, inappropriate. The producers were jabbering frantically into their phones trying to find out where the hell the three actors were. Other producers were on the phone in a state of life or death trying to find replacements, fearing the worst and being proactive at the same time. It was a disaster, there was a whole film crew but the actors! It seemed they had had enough of each other and not turned up. The runner boy was sitting saddened and dejected at the thought of possibly leaving it too late to give Cat his mobile number, as that was the day he was going to ask her out.

As it was approaching the two hour mark when shooting should have started, one producer asked Matti what they should do and Matti said he needed a few minutes to clear his head. So he went outside. And never came back.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Class Uneducated

Class Uneducated

A classroom full of students was his creation: all he wanted to do, ever, was teach. He wrote mathematical equations on the chalk board (it being the fifties there was no such things as whiteboards yet.) Most of the equations he didn't really understand himself because he had cheated a lot to get ahead in his life. For instance he always had a book of answers in his pocket. However he explained the equations to the students like he was an expert, his pupils didn't suspect a thing, they listened and made notes.

Being on the shorter side at five foot nine, his cunning ways is what made him stand as tall as the tallest man. He wasn't even particularly well dressed: his trousers ankle swung at the bottom, partly because his dungarees pulled them above his stomach. His hair was rarely combed properly, uncared for split ends at the edges specifying his feminine side. He always wore shirts with a pocket, and were too small for him. Back to the black board, he worked out a mathematical equation for a few seconds and when he became stuck he looked at the top of his hand for the answers - a basic trick from his school days. When the equation was solved the students looked at him like he was a genius. He faced them head on with a smile, and learn't that over the years when one believes their own bullshit long enough it becomes real.

Something was hot about Mr Tall (that was his name, despite it was a slight contradiction to him physically) that is how Udine felt. She was considered strange among peers, but she didn't care, she knew she was strange and liked it. Her feeling towards Mr Tall was obviously a crush. She looked at him when she should have been working. By now he was sat at his desk, and like magic he looked back at her. Obviously Udine looked away, but she knew he had an idea about her crush because he caught her looking at him a few times before. In Mr Tall's eyes, Udine was a weird student but he liked that about her because he was weird too. He would sit at his desk after feeding his bullshit of wisdom to the class and when the time was right  he would admire his 'favorite' student. 

Outside of the classroom his name was Liam. He always felt he had the name of a douche bag: kids mocked him at school by imitating a version of his name in dumb ways. In the present day this feeling ingrained in him like a permanent stain whenever he arrived at home. He walked through the front door to be greeted with his angry wife who was the type to have a chip on their shoulder about everyone and everything. Luckily tonight she was making chicken - an animal which could be blessed. The kitchen was well occupied with pots and pans in use and the heat making the windows steam. Her name was Paula, a teacher also. She had on a cocking apron tied tight, this was something she took seriously when she was cooking in the kitchen.

Liam watched Paula from outside the room. He really loved his wife. She was the same age as him and they met in a supermarket. She was shopping for chicken and handily enough Liam worked there part time between University. Liam kissed Paula on the neck, surprising her. 

"Good evening love" Liam said.

It took a few seconds for Paula to respond, but eventually she did. "Thank God she is in a good mood this evening" Liam thought. The old smell of settee's is how Paula started smell to Liam theses days, her posture got more hunched by the day. The cooking apron wasn't sexy any more. The once 'it was cool to be a geek wearing glasses cliché' weren't hot, she became the dumpy frump throw you away grade type. 

She continued to cook, handling the pots with no care, moving mechanically the way a stressed person does and doesn't know why they are always raging. Liam left the room, slightly upset and becoming tired, but he swore never to give up on Paula.

At dinner, Paula was talking about her day at work. Liam listened and he thought it was good to see Paula trying to enjoy her life by talking about it optimistically. The place was dimly lit, this was Paula's preference, the furniture and décor in the house was dark colored and old fashioned. Then like it was a cue to stop talking, Paula was quiet. It seemed she had run out of things to say, and then the heavy weight of stress mounted over her like the world had landed on her shoulders. She hunched as she ate the broccoli off her plate, the thoughts of her unsatisfied life stinging her like a stamped of aggressive bees.

Paula was unhappy she was too old to have her first child without it being dangerous, the fact she settled for a man who wouldn't get rid of her because he needed her, the fact she wanted to be an architect but wasn't brave enough to take a risk so she stayed in the education system and became a teacher. She wanted to give up and the negative energy evaporated off her like a mine field. This picture of Paula was all too familiar to Liam these days, he wanted to help her. He had been with her for long enough to know her thought process, he knew exactly what she was thinking, even now. And she was right, he was a man under a woman's thumb and perhaps he deserved it because he was a cheat in his professional life - now he was paying for it in his romantic life. Having said that though, it was funny he could still surprise himself these days, a new feeling set alight and burned in his soul, it felt great. The feeling came from Udine.

A test was in progress, the students had their heads down and were concentrated. Mr Tall liked test time because he could play his devious games - they weren't that funny, but he found them funny. His favorite was to walk around the room going as unnoticed as possible, trying to catch a student cheating. He called this game "guess where I am." Michael, a soon to be Cambridge student whom sat at the front of the class, was pacing through his work. "Not one to play my game" Mr Tall thought "Michael will forever play by the rules." Then he arrived at Christopher, a bright but clumsy student, the forever to be a reliable B student. He was concentrated, a hard worker, but would always live in the likes of Michael's shadow.

Luckily the floor had a single surface finish so there were no cracks and it never creaked. Mr Tall arrived at Hannah whom he referred to as "Hannah and Her Sisters" from the Woody Allen movie because she had the same name and her group of friends lived their lives like it were in a film. If anyone were to cheat Mr Tall thought, it would be these girls, but they wouldn't play his game either. Instead they were obedient to the test and at the forefront of their minds they wanted to finish school as quickly as possible so they could move to the city and begin a career on stage.

And then it was Udine. Mr Tall arrived behind her and to his joy he caught her cheating: the answers were on a piece of paper on her lap, underneath the desk, "Yes!" Mr Tall shouted inside, he had something in common with the student he fancied. Udine didn't have the faintest idea she was being watched, instead being mischievous by getting questions right and choosing others to deliberately get wrong to avoid raising suspicion. Her ambitions was to never be an A student, she was satisfied with being a B, no less than that though. Mr Tall walked past her and sat at his desk. The soft part of his heart didn't want Udine to know he saw her cheating... because he was weak. But he looked at her anyway, smiling to himself, getting that obsessive thought of them sailing off into the sunset before they even dated. 

The following week the students were slightly nervous waiting for their results. Mr Tall began handing out the test papers, walking to each desk one by one, keeping it old fashioned. Udine unsurprisingly wasn't nervous, she knew what score she was expecting, all Mr Tall had to do was match it. He got closer. The somewhat ratty face he had seemed fresher like when a person becomes highly sexed, thought Udine. When he arrived at her, he stopped and paused before he gave her the test paper. From the look in his eye Udine knew he suspected something. 

"Can you wait behind after class please? I need to talk to you" Mr Tall said.

That could have meant many things, thought Udine. But really she wanted him to fuck her, that would have been a fantasy definitely worth exploring. Obviously he was suspicious about her cheating on the test, but she was so careful she thought. She looked at her test paper and saw "130/150" a spot on match.

When all the students had left the room, Udine remained in her seat, waiting and expecting the unexpected. It seemed like waiting for a first date, that is how she felt and she hoped it was true. When Mr Tall felt safe the room would be undisturbed he walked to Udine and sat next to her.

"Take out your folder" Mr Tall asked.

Udine was mistaken for a second because she thought he asked her to take out her pussy! That is what she wanted him to say. So like a good girl she took out her folder like she was told.

"Take out the paper in the last pouch" Mr Tall asked again.

"Shit" thought Udine, he knew. She was in trouble now, but she didn't feel in danger because by this time she was convinced there was a romantic connection between them, the fantasy had manifested, either she was right or very fucking childish. Once she removed the papers, Mr Tall took them from her and removed the cheating paper with the answers on it. He showed it to her. Udine had gleams in her eyes, impressed how much of a detective he was.

"I know you have been cheating" Mr Tall said.
"I am sorry sir" Udine replied.
"That is fine by me. Take this"

Mr Tall handed Udine a small folder containing important looking text and equations.

"It is the test paper you will be sitting at the end of the year. All the answers are on it" Mr Tall said.

Udine liked what was happening. She really wanted to kiss him. Her musty blonde hair covered a lot of her face, her uncared for school uniform resembled a dedicated punk rock chick for a hobby in her twenties. As a school student she was a looked over ugly duckling among her peers, however she was the type to get more beautiful with age and Mr Tall was to be one of her sexual encounters to free that beauty.

"I really like you" Mr Tall said.

"Yes" shouted Udine inside "He was brave, he really was!"

"I really like you too" Udine replied.

Mr Tall touched her leg, moved in and kissed her. Udine thought she was in a film or something, it didn't seem real. Mr Tall loved the feeling of a passionate kiss again. He hadn't had one with Paula in years, and Udine's young lips opened up his youth like it where a black hole extracting light. 

On one occasion, it lasted at least an hour and a half. One of the huts where the subject Religious Studies was taught became their 'meeting' room. Mr Tall was always there first. Udine arrived to see him waiting like he was waiting for a date: keeping busy with his phone, in this case marking students work to make it seem like his date wasn't the only thing on his mind. Udine thought it was sweet. The sex usually took place on the teachers desk, Mr Tall perched Udine on it, pulled off her knickers and ate her pussy. Udine felt nothing like it, her previous boyfriends before Mr Tall (she hoped she was his boyfriend now) had pleased her in sex, but Mr Tall had an assertiveness she realized was only found in men, not boys.

The action moved onto the floor, Udine was on top. She had become a lot more confident in sex since being with Mr Tall, by now the relationship had been going for three months. All of her clothes were off, she was facing Mr Tall in a squatting position, bouncing up and down doing her best to keep her yelling under control. Her skinny arms held onto Mr Tall's unsporty but not so bad body, her legs balanced well considering they were sort of twigs. The rush of Mr Tall's average sized dick penetrated endorphin's all through her. To Udine, the whole thing with Mr Tall was really just about the sex and excitement. Mr Tall on the other hand had discovered an experience he feared he'd never see again. Not only was Udine an old man's mission impossible fantasy, yes she was young and young pussy was only young once, hence it had to be experienced to the full. If Mr Tall wasn't to careful he would fall in love.

Udine's parents, elder brother and younger sister sat in the kitchen eating breakfast like a civil family. It was a Wednesday morning, the adults were dressed for work, the kids were hardly out of their bed ware because it was the summer holidays. Udine was the rebel of the family which explained why she didn't participate in the family meals much. Letters were posted through the letter box, and then Udine sprinted down the steps, dressed in shorts and a tee shirt resembling a tomboy, because she was one at heart. Her rough morning look was sexy. She never wore make up anyway, but she came across as one of those females who weirdly looked hotter the rougher they were.

She picked up the post and searched for her exams results. The speed at which she did this suggested she had been waiting by the letter box for weeks. The rest of her family continued being a family in the kitchen and didn't even know Udine was present. Meanwhile Udine had found her exam letter "It has finally arrived" she thought and her eyes lit up. She knew what she was expecting and opened the letter to make sure it was the case. The score showed "B" another spot on match. She was happy, but there was an unfulfilled emotion pinching her soul and it came from the fact she was a cheater. She didn't let it overtake her though and fought back with hardness, then went to the kitchen to spread the good news to her family.

Which Universities to apply for was on Udine's mind whilst she lay on her bed, looking at the ceiling and twirling the exam results in her hand. Her room had become a somewhat quarantine if you will: there weren't any posters any more. The room was so bare it made Udine come across as a person who didn't know who they were supposed to be. That was actually correct, Udine didn't really have an identity. She liked music, but not a specific type. She hadn't spoken to Mr Tall in a while because she chose not too. A stack of his letters were tucked neatly in her draw. He wrote to her often, it was the only way because there was no such thing as portable telephones yet. Udine had his most recent letter in her hands and was reading it. The letter explained how he wished her luck with the exam results. Udine thought that was pointless considering the fact he knew she would pass because he gave her the answers to cheat in the first place. 

Time moved on during the summer holidays. Udine was making cakes in the kitchen with her mum. They were having a grand time, the sun was shining and background music was playing jazz. Baking was an activity only they shared together, the mother and eldest girl of the litter. It was also one of the only things Udine did to be 'apart' of the family. When they put the cakes in the oven, Udine left the kitchen to go to the toilet, but was held for a moment when she saw a letter on the floor by the front door. She had an unsettling feeling inside, as if the letter was actually speaking to her from the floor. It could have been addressed to anyone in the house, but ripples came from it in the air and traveled only  to Udine.

She picked it up, it was addressed to her and judging from the writing she knew it from Mr Tall. She hid the letter out of sight and went to her room. Mr Tall poured his heart out this time, the letter brought all the harshness of his feelings to the fore, the crippling worry of losing Udine was expressed in near enough every word. "Thank God he had a bit of a backbone" thought Udine when in some paragraphs Mr Tall would defend himself and accuse her of not replying to his letters. Then that made Udine think as to why she didn't reply? When she found the answer (she knew it all along really) it was because she didn't want him any more. She was moving to University and didn't want him to come with the next chapter of her life. She was young and he was old. To her, Mr Tall was a passing thing, something to experience and leave behind. Cold but shit happens. So she put the letter in the draw next to the rest and considered burning them, but dismissed that idea and was going to keep them as evidence in case Mr Tall ever decided to get 'tricky.'

There were students everywhere, the park was typical for gathering them during this time. It was getting closer to the end of the summer holidays. Udine and her friends were sitting on the grass, drinking and having a picnic. Spirits were high as they conversed how happy they were about the Universities they had been accepted into too. Udine, normally a thinker in the group, was even less heard on this occasion, instead she wore a smile which spoke of one putting on an act. She was a professional liar so she wore it well, but she felt uncomfortable. Libby, the outspoken one with braids, was rambling on about her acceptance into the University of Kent. She was always too big for her boots. She talked over Danny (the best friend type and in danger of turning gay) when he tried to share his up and coming Manchester University experience. As usual he responded by saying nothing.

Udine felt like something was watching her, like someone else's shadow was constantly by her back. By this time she had totally disengaged with the conversation her friends were having, which progressed to Danny trying to impress Megan (the girl he liked but hadn't learnt to cut to the chase) by drinking a can of beer in one go. Megan looked at him with the sense of laughing at not with someone. But she still thought he was a bit cute. Meanwhile worry had overcast Udine's mind. Truth is she was fearful of University because she didn't know if she could handle it. She had cheated on the tests because of Mr Tall, now she cut him off and wondered if that was the right decision. Did she make the wrong one? She contemplated going back to him because she needed him to get through Uni.

"At least it was the summer time" was the self chatter Mr Tall repeated to himself as he sat on his settee and prepared himself for the evening in front of the TV. His glum face was almost giving Paula's a competition. What was he turning into? He was fed up with the fact the little vixen immature witch Udine cut him off. He found that hard to deal with. 

Paula walked into the room and sat next to him. She made the effort to be cheerful by asking how his Saturday was, as she was out being sociable at tennis with other woman who pretended to be rich and posh. She then rested her feet on his lap. This was affection Mr Tall hadn't had from Paula in a long time and he looked at her in a new way. The reflection he saw surprised him: it was a youthful brightness behind Paula's ageing, but ageing well exterior. 

He saw the young girl he met at the supermarket, the curious, hidden in the crowds clever girl at University where her sex appeal was something that had to be developed the more you got to know the person. Perhaps Paula wasn't stressed any more, perhaps she finally learnt to just go with the flow of life. Her energy had changed and she watched the TV totally at peace. At that specific point Mr Tall wished he had been more patient with her, the moment painted his weakness, filling a canvass. Udine was his falter and now he had to live with the guilt.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Living With The Evil Within

Living With The Evil Within

The bed was a lot colder these days, our backs faced each other every night. Sometimes I asked myself, was I who caused the distance between us?... I know I am not an easy person to live with. He had a lot on his mind. He was fast asleep and he usually fell asleep within two minutes these days, I know this because I counted once. I wanted to see how long it would take him to say good night, but it never came.

He, when I say "he" I am referring to my husband Kurt, was sat at his laptop in his study sending CV's. He was unemployed and far from his happiest days. The vacant heavy stare in his eyes sent desperation and shame onto his daily tasks. He expected a lot from his life, he was a writer therefore most writers feel that way. However he was experiencing a bad patch because he was dropped by his publisher, or they turned the other cheek on him, either wasn't explained yet. It was meant to be the book deal of his life, the break to set him up for forever.

Kurt walked into the kitchen and went straight to the fridge. He took out a pint of milk and drunk it straight from the carton. This was another bad habit he created and I hated it. We were both educated people and he was turning into trash from the street. This morning I was making an all English breakfast, the pans were well occupied and cooking was something I was really good at.

"Do you want everything with your breakfast love?" I said.

Kurt didn't even have the decency to reply. I felt like throwing the pans at him and watching the once man turn into a bitch crying in pain as the pans scolded his face. I don't know what I did to deserve this treatment. He had begun making his own toast and started reading the newspaper. I watched him and I wanted to try and talk to him, but I didn't because I was weak, that was the truth and deep down was the root to all this mess.

Our daughter Delilah danced into the kitchen brimming with youth you only found in young people. She was the sunshine to our family, no matter how distant Kurt and I were becoming, Delilah always tried to make us a family again. She said "good morning" to us and hugged us, I was first and that wasn't down to favoritism. I gave her her breakfast. Then I dished up Kurt's and put it next to him.

"There is your breakfast if you want it love" I said.

Kurt grunted. I got that much from him out of respect for Delilah being present. If she wasn't there then I am certain I wouldn't gotten anything.

Kurt walked Delilah to school. Delilah was skipping, she was a person that was blessed with natural in the moment happiness. Kurt wasn't making an effort with his appearance, he wore clothes which came from the bottom of his wardrobe: old jeans, old leather jacket and an old tee shirt. Being unemployed had hit him hard.

"Why are you and mum upset dad?" Delilah said.
"Do we seem upset?" Kurt replied.
"We are OK. I just need a job"
"Will you get a new job?"
"Of course sweetheart"

They arrived at the school gate and Kurt took a knee to kiss Delilah.

"Have a good day at school Delilah" Kurt said.

Delilah kissed Kurt and then ran to her friends who were playing conkers. The way Kurt looked at his daughter explained she was his world. He didn't love me anymore, come to think of it he never really did and it was my fault. The reason why: because I never had a job. I always lived off Kurt's success because he told me too, but deep down he despised me that and taking the bait so easily. I didn't have a back bone and now when he needed financial support the most, there was no-one there to support him. It was lucky we could survive off his savings, because if that wasn't there... he might have hurt me. If it wasn't physically, he was going to take Delilah away from me, that is what he plotted as he watched Delilah win the game of conkers against her friends.

The bed was empty. I only noticed that when I sneaked a peak at Kurt's side to see he wasn't there. If I didn't look it wouldn't have felt any different, the bed was so cold lately I didn't even feel myself in it. Kurt was in the bathroom, the downstairs bathroom! Why there I didn't know. But he was acting like a crazy person the past few weeks. It had been one year and ten months of unemployment and it was almost certain the publishers had fucked him over.

Kurt looked in the mirror with a face that didn't match his soul. His eyes were turning black, any glimpse of character was suffocated by blankness. He put his hands together and prayed to the Devil to help him. He prayed for success and in exchange was ready for any deal presented to him. It turned out that deal was me! I knew Kurt had darkness within him, we all do. But this was different, I didn't know he had evil.

The next morning Kurt woke up and got straight out of bed. He woke me up. The way he did this wasn't normal; either he was a robot or something else. He stretched and his hands almost touched the ceiling, I didn't know if I was half asleep because he never stretched like that. And then he left the room and went downstairs. I looked at my clock and it said "7.10am." It was a Saturday.

I was brushing my teeth and I thought someone walked past the room. I turned around and no-one was there. I continued brushing my teeth but had this eerie feeling someone was with me. So I went to Delilah's room, opened her door and saw Kurt was already there, sitting next to Delilah, stroking her hair as she slept. Then he looked at me and said nothing. I didn't expect him to be in the room, he was never in Delilah's room that early on a Saturday. His eyes had no emotion as he stared at me. I didn't know what to say. Everything just seemed off.

I was walking through the hallway to take the trash out when a figure appeared out of the corner of my eye. I peered into the living room and it was Kurt, sitting on the sofa reading the paper. I saw Kurt reading the paper all the time around the house, but today for some reason it seemed different. It was as if he just kept appearing in every room I was in, unexpectedly, creeping up on oneself.

I was in the kitchen washing the dishes when I was absolutely convinced something breathed over my shoulder. It made me jump and I looked around to see Kurt taking an out of date milk carton from the fridge and began drinking it.

"Kurt that is out of date. Do you want me to go to the shop and get some more milk?" I said.

Kurt looked at me. He didn't wipe the milk stain from his top lip (the educated man was so far away now, somewhere in Alaska, what shame) and his eyes looked straight through me like I was glass.

"No" he said.

He carried on drinking the out of date milk and then walked to the living room. I was trembling. There was something wrong with my husband. Something told me I needed a priest which was strange because I hated religion. I was scared, scared of my own house and for the briefest of moments I thought I was going to die soon.

Delilah was playing the front yard, I was in the living room knitting with the TV on as background noise (the way we American's do things). Delilah was nine years old and I felt she was old enough to be left alone in the front yard. Kurt was in town somewhere and by this time I found it hard to care what he did. Delilah saw her friends from school across the street and they calling her name and waving her over. She knew she wasn't allowed to leave the front garden, but her friends kept calling her and Delilah thought it wouldn't hurt to go over to see what they wanted.

The friends repeated exactly the same actions and callings over and over - it seemed they were puppets. Delilah wasn't the type to be desperate for friends, but at that age, fitting in is as important as a lady wanting her first baby before she reaches forty. Delilah got to the edge of the road and the friends were still on the other side, waving and calling. Only a dash questioned Delilah's mind if they were actually real. She looked left and right and saw no cars were coming, then she crossed the road and three seconds later a red Audi A4 appeared out of nowhere and hit her. Delilah traveled twenty meters and landed on the pavement, dead. The friends weren't present, they weren't real.

We watched Delilah being buried. It was the saddest day of my life. I didn't know why this was all happening. Kurt wanted nothing to do with me and now my Delilah was dead, so what did I have? Kurt and I didn't have much family and the ones who bothered to show up paid their respects and placed their flowers in the grave. It was funny because as I hugged onto Kurt's arm I needed him of all people to save me, but still he was cold. I looked into his face, what I saw was frightening and I asked myself something I never thought could be possible: could he be the cause of Delilah's death?!

One month later, Kurt had arrived home from his meeting with his publishers. He went to the bathroom, washed his face and looked in the mirror. He should have been happy with the news: the publishers gave his book a deal worth ten million dollars. He had finally made it, his dream had come true and he was rich. But still he was unhappy. He looked at his face and saw the truth. He knew the Devil kept his side of the bargain and gave him the riches he asked, but it was at the cost of Delilah and that wasn't part of Kurt's plan. There was nothing he could do now because the Devil is a trickster and cunning.

I waited for Kurt to come into the living room where I was standing with all of my suitcases. I was ready to divorce and leave him. I was going back to live with my parents which I swore I would never do. But my family was over now and with all of my heart, every last piece of it had grown to hate this thing I was living with.

Kurt looked at me and surprisingly he wasn't surprised to see me with my suitcases. He in fact had been waiting for it. Evil was rooted deep within him after all.

"I am leaving" I said.
"Fine" He replied.

And the way he answered me, I knew, what he wanted was the person to have died instead of Delilah was me.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Well To Do People

Well To Do People

She was the most hardworking person in the cafe. Every time I saw her on a shift she was efficient and worked the coffee machine as if she had built it. Her posture was strong: legs straight, shoulders back and neck to the ceiling. Negativity never seemed to be in her space.

I sat at a table with my usual coffee, waffle and City AM newspaper. This was my morning ritual. The ritual became such a habit I contemplated once if I was becoming a boring hermit. But I realized I was one of those routine people where Virgo's use that as an excuse for not being fun.

She was lovely. So small and perfect with her short brown hair, big brown eyes and no meat on those bones frame. At first I thought she came from France. Then I knew she did when she served me and spoke with a French accent.

"Everything OK sir?" She said.
"Yes thank you" I replied.

Her smile replicated one from Hollywood and she walked off. Her smile was magnificent, it would brighten up anyone's day, the teeth immaculate. I had to be at work at nine and had an important day ahead. I was contempt with my life: a city guy who wore a suit and took a train to work everyday. I was on sixty thousand pounds a year, a Scottish man that had come to London in hope of achieving his dreams. My name was Charlie aged thirty, her name was Isabelle aged twenty two.

Isabelle arrived at her one bedroom apartment in Elephant and Castle. She kicked off her flats and went to the kitchen to make tea. The place was decently new, no cracks were showing in any room and the decor had a rustic vibe. This was Isabelle's first time in London, she had finally decided to give living abroad a go. But it was a shame no-one told her Elephant and Castle was such a ghetto!

Her laptop was open and linked to Skype. Isabelle came from a homely home, but she was the traveler of the family, the bad seed in their eyes. On the screen her mother and father appeared and they said hello (in French) and began speaking in French. Her parents missed Isabelle, they repeated the same thing like "we miss you, when are you coming home?" over again and the need to cling came through the screen. They deeply hated the fact Isabelle left France. Because they were a family with money they told Isabelle she could have had anything she wanted in France. However Isabelle had her own dreams.

Soon enough Isabelle's brothers came onto her screen: Ivon and Ives. Their parents thought the letter "I" was lucky and gave their three children that initial. Ivon was the tall one and had a long beard (a phase he was going through) and Ives was the shorter one, more serious, organized and had his life well together. They said hello (in French) and spoke in French. Isabelle was the youngest sibling. She loved her brothers, their bright and happy faces made her happy. They had the same smile as hers and their thick French accents resembled a native never to have left their own country. They were her rocks. She spoke to her family near enough everyday. Even though she was the traveler, she never forgot her roots.

Later that evening, Isabelle sent CV's to recruitment agencies, this was part of her routine. She was a qualified architect and sending CV's was mostly all she did when she was at home. She was in her bedroom, laying on the bed, the laptop in front of her. She had been in London for almost a year and had no luck with finding a job which matched her qualifications. But she was strong, however she couldn't continue to be unlucky, smart enough to know no-one was made of steel and eventually they will break. But still she was happy she had a job as a waitress. Initially when she came to England her goal was learn the language first. She had done that and was near enough fluent, now she needed a proper job.

Maria owned the cafe. She was always their during service, usually in her chair behind the counter doing crosswords. She was Italian, well into her sixties and a person who didn't have much luck in life. When she came to London thirty years ago, she opened the cafe off the money her parents left her (they died in a car accent.) The cafe was her only joy. Her previous husband (a Chilean gangster) married her to stay in the country and then divorced her. Her second husband (a Russian magician) dumped her when her previous miscarriage stopped her from having more children. And now she was old, mournful and on the shelf. She had to live with the old decent men being taken and the ones who were left were either senile or not confident enough to ask a lady to a date.

There was something about Isabelle though, Maria thought; the way she worked around the cafe, the way her English improved everyday and her high spirit and positive attitude. Maria took a break from her crossword to look at Isabelle making coffees. She saw a special creature that had a bright future. In the past it upset her that the young employees she hired never stayed longer than six months at the cafe, but Isabelle was different - she had been there for a year!

I saw Isabelle working hard and focused behind the counter, cashing a customers order. She then picked up a ticket and walked towards me. I was single at the time, but I didn't want to ask Isabelle out because I didn't think it was fair to invade her life at that stage. She seemed like a lady just trying to make her way in a new country. She layed my coffee (skinny latte in a tall glass, had to be a tall glass, oh dear I am becoming a boring hermit!) and my waffle.

At home, I lived in a one bedroom apartment in Bayswater. I had a mortgage on the place and was proud of it, as it took all of my twenties working as a city boy to get it. It was a perfect Victorian building. The window in the living room looked onto the front garden and the plants and the small lights which led up to the front door made the place feel like you were on holiday. It was a Wednesday and my usual routine was to make dinner and watch TV - very single life living. However Isabelle stayed in my mind, she was all I could think about and I wondered if I was falling in love. I went to the kitchen and opened a can of Heineken to get myself straight, but she wouldn't leave my head. And then I knew what I had to do.

Isabelle caught me looking at her, I didn't want that to happen. She had a cute tight lipped smile and her eyes glowed. She was walking to me with my coffee and waffle. The tight lipped smile didn't leave her face, and she knew as I did, there was something happening under the surface between us. As she was about to leave my table, I said...

"Isabelle." She turned to me with a mischievous face, expecting me to ask her out.
"What are you skilled in?" I said.
"I am a qualified architect" she replied.
"Do you like working here?"
"It's OK"
"Take my card. I can get you into a really good office position if you like"

I handed my card to her and she took it.

"Thank you" She said.
"You're welcome" I replied.

She went back to work. I felt happy I tried to help her, and was all I wanted to do, to help her. She was a foreigner with irresistible qualities: hard working and well to do. In my opinion those people deserve good luck. It would have been great to see her out of the cafe and into a decent office job. Even though it wasn't architecture, it was a start. I decided my love life could be pushed aside for more important things, like seeing this flower blossom. Sometimes in life to get what you want you have to get what others want first.

The next day Isabelle arrived half an hour before the cafe opened, she was proactive. She put her bag and things down in the staff room, put her apron on and looked in the mirror. She found my card in her pocket and remembered the offer I gave her. It stayed in her mind the previous night. However she wasn't convinced about something, it was a strange feeling directly in the center of her stomach and it annoyed her. Then Maria called her from the office.

Maria sat in her chair with a brighter face than usual, which was rare. Isabelle thought Maria had met someone or had sex, jackpot! It turned out to be neither, but joy filled her eyes and it was all because of Isabelle.

"I want to say I am very proud of you Isabelle, for being so loyal to me and this cafe. Usually when foreign people come to London, they just use my cafe as a place to pay their rent and learn English until they find something new. But you have stayed with me and have been the best worker I have ever employed." Maria said.
"Thank you Maria" Isabelle replied.

Every word came from Maria's heart. Isabelle new this and it felt good.

"I am retiring and going back to Italy and I want you to be the part owner of this business. I trust you, I admire you and I know you will be good for the cafe's future."

Isabelle was happy. Maria seemed so well, just the thought of going back to Italy made her excited. Her time was done in England, it was done and it was time to move on. Isabelle was flattered and knew how much trust Maria had in her and she wasn't going to let her down.

"I will do it, I will look after your cafe" Isabelle said.

They hugged. Isabelle thought about my offer with the office, but she knew the right decision was Maria's. She knew sometimes you have to do onto others they way you want others to do onto you, and now Maria needed her. So she was there for her.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Bassist

The Bassist

At twelve years old she sat in the living room, eager with the twinkle of excitement in her eyes like it was Christmas day. It was in fact her birthday. Her long brown straight hair covered her Brazilian face. Her slight frame was the product of another slim soon to be rock Goddess. Her name was Love. She knew it was pretentious of her parents to gift her with that name, although she didn't know what pretentious meant at that time. She got bullied for it by angry kids, but her personality was beyond her years and in tune to the moment and negativity bounced off her.

Her father gave her a large present. Love took it and really didn't know what to expect. Her father was a tall musician with hair reaching past his shoulders, her mother was a singer and Love looked a smaller version of her. Music was in the family's roots. Soon enough the present was open and Love held a bass guitar. She leaped onto her mother and father and kissed them repeatedly. From the age of four all she wanted to do was play bass, inspired from her favorite Brazilian bands, and now she had the tool in her hands - now she was ready.

Love was barefoot in her room, her skinny legs exposed with only a long white t-shirt covering her upper half. The bass guitar was in her hands and she was practicing rhythms. She had a gifted mind for creativity; she could learn a few cords, just a note even and from that she could create an entire piece of music. Her older brothers were next door with their girlfriends. They had interests which involved becoming lawyers and bankers, they didn't follow in the musical footsteps of their parents, it was Love who inherited that part of the gene. The bass blared through the walls and it annoyed them a little because the music was playing for six hours straight now. But they left Love to it, the smiles on their tanned handsome faces spoke love for their younger sister.

By now, Love was prancing around in her room playing a piece she constructed. She always had this fantastic ability to dance amazingly; her legs reached her chest and her head moved from side to side so coyly it seemed sexier than a striptease. Her family wondered what possessed her to dance so maturely at such a young age, but they realized as Love eventually did, she had talent.

Love was seventeen. The room was full of bassist's waiting to be auditioned. Love was ready, she had the piece she was going to play locked in her mind. As a late teenager, her face had blossomed into a attractive young woman. Her body was a trademark slim and the predictable rock boots on her feet. There was no cliche to it though, Love loved everything about rock, how she dressed, how she spoke and how she smiled. Her raspy voice was warm, every bit of it Brazilian.

She stood in front of the band and she wasn't even nervous. She didn't really care about them, all she cared about was her bass guitar and her perfectly constructed pieces. The band (a three piece looking for a fourth as their previous basset left them due to issues with money) sat at the desk. All Brazilian in their late twenties and early thirties. Brazil knew them as their biggest rock band and their cool faces showed no signs of success gone to ones head. Instead they were curiously embracing Love's presence. Love on the other hand was curious as to why she was there in the first place; she was a nobody having had stints in nobody bands during her teens. As she sound checked her guitar, she thought surely they would want to audition established bassists, but later became to understand they were blown away with her demo tape.

She started her audition and like a switch was intoxicated with passion, dancing with her guitar and playing toe tapping rhythms. None of it was over-the-top or trying too hard for the occasion, she relaxed and her rhythms switched from out of control speed to slow harmonies, and then to the killer solo. Her thin arms held the guitar as she began to hop on the spot. The band looked at each other and knew Love was it. Not only could she do the bassist's job, but she was a character, she was unique and would bring another dimension to the band. Perhaps as much as the lead singer, the lead singer thought as he sat un-pretentiously in the center of the three. They agreed Love wasn't going to be a band member happy to play the 'passenger' role on the trip, she had a character to offer. And they hired her on the spot.

At twenty five, Love was all woman. Her long hair had become shorter, a perfect crop at the neck. Her long frame became longer. The band were in a famous studio in Brazil, it was darkly lit. They began a take of a track, it was a brooding song about lost friendship which started off slowly and gradually built up to an obvious, but ferocious climax. Love had become maturer with her performance on bass; the notes played with more care and slower rhythms than the quick fire wham-bam stuff usually donned by 'just starting outers.' The skinny jeans she wore were spray tight to her leg's, the sexy boots rested over them. More hops and moves to her dancing were a part of her routines, her dancing had developed with her age as her bass playing.

Eight albums in (five which included Love) and the band a worldwide dominance. Love was known as one of the best bass players in the business, and being the only woman in a male band only added more attention to her. This was the buzz which circled around before one of the bands biggest events to date; headlining on the home turf in South America, Festival Lollapalooza. The band stepped out onto the stage and waved to their audience. Love put on her guitar with the ear to ear coy smile she became famous and loved for. Then the show began. About a half hour into it Love's movements were becoming deep and heavy, at one point she was on the floor as if she was having sex. And soon enough when the really heavy tracks were played, the famous head banger was out. She banged her head like a real rockster, the hair flying everywhere...

... it was clear by this time, who the real star of the band was - not the singer or his number two. It was the quiet bass player. It was Love.

She was thirty. Her house was a mansion in North of Brazil and she was having tea with her family. Love grew her hair longer again, it suited who she really was, even though her face was timelessly beautiful, the 'short and serious' phase was passed. Her brothers and parents were in the lounge as Love walked in with tea. They were all proud of the baby of the family, becoming a star and becoming a millionaire. Love's mother (who still looked the spitting older image of Love, just aging now) put her arm around her daughter and they looked like two lifetime friends. Love was happy how far she had come, playing bass and now being able to give back to her family was the best feeling, a part from playing bass! But she got a phone call from the lead singer of the band which was about to change everything.

She had never cried so much, ever. The news of the band members deciding to end the band depressed her so much she didn't leave her bedroom for days - her tears was for her bass. She had worked hard to get to where she was and she couldn't have done it without the band, now it was all over. She was in her thirties, still so young with gallons left in the tank - that was one of her best qualities, forever young inside and out. But what mystified her was why the band came to an end. There was no real why.

Eventually that 'why' was revealed when the bands manager called her. Love answered her mobile (still in bed, soon to be approaching day six) and he told her the truth the other three ended the band because they were jealous of Love getting all the attention. They hated the fact the bass player was the star. When the phone call ended Love realized she learnt a big lesson in trust and that the smiles she was closets too didn't speak their exteriors - she was living with the enemy the entire time.

Did all this stop Love? No. The guitar was in her hand, she was in her thirties and the start of a whole new chapter. Her new band mates were around her in a dingy throwaway shed - the way Love liked it, raw from the ground up. This was her band, her creation. She turned down the opportunity to play bass for practically every major outfit in the world in need of bass players. People thought she was crazy. But Love, standing in her high heels now, skinny jeans and short leather jacket, knew what she was doing. This time she was doing it her way, ready to go on the journey all over again. She tuned in her wires, then the band practiced a song and Love started dancing, approaching a haunting solo.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

La La Land

La La Land

Tiredness ached his muscles as his body rested on its side in the bed. His back was to his wife. This was the position he slept now days to hide the sadness he had inside his body. His name was Barry, a black man (with a white man's name) thirty nine years old. His wife slept next to him, her back facing the other way too. She slept this way to mirror Barry's emotions. Both of them were running on empty. Her name was Sadorra (a Puerto Rican surname for a first name) she was Italian, thirty seven, white (obviously!).

"Baby, it is time to go" Sadorra said.
"Not again honey, we have been over this many times before" Barry replied.
"It has been three years. Enough is enough now"

Barry turned onto his back. He knew Sadorra was right. They were based in Manhattan and the flat they lived in wasn't much to speak of. Their three children aged one to six slept in the same room next door.

"This year is going to be the year. I told you that. The deal with Sony will happen" Barry said.

Sadorra got out of the covers and sat on the edge of the bed, losing her will because she was going round the same circle with Barry.

"All we do is wait for you" Sadorra said.
"What am I supposed to do? I can't make this happen any faster" Barry replied.
"Neither can we. Which is why we are going back to Italy"

Barry jumped off the mattress and placed his hands on the bed looking like the animal ready to protect his territory. He felt Sadorra was betraying him, but as usual when those emotions passed he knew Sadorra was right.

"And what am I supposed to do in Italy? I was there for a decade and it got me nothing" Barry said.
"Are you forgetting me and the kids? Italy found you us" Sadorra replied.
"I can't do that. Italy promised me a career and they threw me nothing but a broom and a street"
"The kids need you. I need you"
"Stop that. Don't flip that card on me"

Barry paces his side of the room. The thought of going back to Italy made him nervous and each pace reached a higher boiling point.

"This place is giving us an opportunity. Here there aren't any grudges, I am accepted. In Italy I am just another black nigga. Just some black monkey jumping around in the jungle from Africa. Do you want a record deal Barry? Yes I do sir. Well how about you clean our streets first nigga. I don't want you on our books, no, I just said we did for you to clean our shit and eat it while you are at it Mr black money, slave nigga"

Barry picks up the TV and throws it against the wall and it shatters into pieces. Every part of Barry's frustration came out; from his dysfunctional upbringing in England, to his lonely time in Italy, to his unsuccessful break as a musician now in New York. He could hardly control his breathing. He would never hurt his family, never, but he didn't know where to turn. Sadorra looked past Barry's anger, knowing it was just the act of a man that breaks things with his fists, and she walked to him and put her hands on his face.

"People do love you in Italy" Sadorra said.
"They don't like me with you and you know I am right" Barry replied.
"Yes they do and the sooner you realize that the better... We are going to Italy and I hope you will come with us"

                                                              *          *          *          *

The place was an old pub in The Bronx, dimly lit from end to end. Barry was on stage performing a love song and the audience hung onto each word. More musicians were at the back of the venue, waiting for their turn to perform. The posters around the pub said "The Saturday Slam" and the place had gained a reputation in New York for up and coming musicians.

Even though Barry's touching words and melody's made the audience witness a talent before them, inside Barry was dying. He had become a regular at this venue and nothing had happened for his career. To the audience, the tears which rolled down his cheeks were passion-emotion, but it was pain. Each word was more difficult to sing and his fingers were like blocks of wood.

At the end of his performance he took his bow. The audience were clapping and some stood up to acknowledge how good he was. All Barry could see was the lights and the sound of the audience made him dizzy. At that moment he made the decision to call time on his music dream. He had been living in a fantasy and concluded sometimes the dream wasn't meant to happen for everyone.

He walked off the stage and was congratulated with shoulder hugs and pats on the back from his viewers. It felt nice, but nice didn't get him a break. Then to his surprise his family was standing in front of him; the beautiful Italian lady and the three perfect mixed raced kids. At that moment he needed a support system more than anything and it was his family who were there for him. It confirmed going back to Italy was the right decision and to finally leave the music circus behind once and for all.

However another hand touched his shoulder which forced him to turn around. And it was the music producer from Sony, posing what looked to be a fake smile with something close to the Devil behind it. He was holding a contract.

"Well done Barry. Your time has come" He said and held out the contract to Barry.

"Take this and bring it to my office on Monday signed. And then we are all set to go" He continued.

Barry's entire world caved in, like his whole life crashed together at once - his big break had finally come. When things happened they usually come in three's, and to Barry that was living proof right now. But then he looked at his family waiting for him and didn't know what to do. So he did the right thing and handed the contract back to the producer. And left the venue with his family.