Just another Bond mission…

(written a couple of years ago, cheap and cheerful, nothing special)

“So, Mr Bond, you have 90 seconds to save yourself. It’s been nice knowing you…I think not!”

The evil Dr Feelingstrange laughed and hopped aboard the helicopter. As it rose into the air he looked down at the prostrate James Bond who lay shackled to a flagpole. Several floors below him a massive bomb ticked to itself. On top of the black cylinder stood a two minute timer with the sand dribbling a quarter of the way through already.

James twisted onto his back, reached down with his manacled hands and managed to use one thumb to press against the heel of his shiny black patent leather shoes. A flap swung open and a minute saw flicked out and began buzzing at high speed. The sparks flew as the chains were cut away. James pulled his wrists apart and stood up. Removing his shoe, he used the drill to slice through the steel loops around his ankles. Free at last he raced to the door that lead from the roof terrace to the stairs.

As James pounded down the first steps he could hear the helicopter disappearing into the distance. On the third level he found the exit door locked. James unclipped his wristwatch, pulled out the winder button, set the second hand for ‘3’, looped the watch over the door handle and retreated a few steps. The door exploded inwards and James launched himself into the smoke filled room.

Ahead were two armed guards, either suicidely inclined or just ignorant of the ticking bomb behind them. Their guns raised, James dived behind a table to his right. Bullets thudded into the metal top. James reached into his jacket inside pocket and withdrew a pen. Twisting the middle ninety degrees he pointed it over the top of the table at one of his attackers and pressed the clip. A tiny dart flew out and struck the man between his eyes. By the time he hit the floor the second guard was stumbling back as a second dart pierced his left eye.

James rushed towards the bomb. His mind had calculated that he had twenty seconds of sand left. Long enough.

Dr Feelingstrange saw the massive plume of smoke rising from the explosion.

“Shucks, that’s bad luck, Mr Bond. These cheap Chinese imported timers just can’t be relied on…”


Train of thought

(a long time away – moving house, unpacking boxes, cleaning kitchens and bathroom, changing addresses, registering doctors and dentists. Maybe nearly settled now…)

Train of Thought

The first carriage; heart-stopping, alcohol-hazed, dry lips mouth-mouthing words of double-dutched ineptitude, he opened the gambit with her. Her. The blonde lobbed hair, wild-hanging calculated cut, wrapping a face denuded of make-up, diffidently demanding adoration.

The second carriage; the dinner diary-dated in heavy pencil, circled and gouged in disbelief, with time counted down in seconds over hours. Clothes mirror-stared in multi-coloured disarrangements, mismatched for a perfect match. The awkward answerings across a table plastic flower posed and house-wined, wished-for lives exchanged in nervous narrations, deciphering the content for half-truths disguised within, eyes mind-reading the true intentions concealed. Goodbye smiles slipped between glad glances at a door marked Exit and Freedom, a tentative talk of texts and calls okayed with half-convicted conviction.

The third carriage; inhibitions uninhibited, clothes unclothed, all bared except the soul secret-suspicious, bodies tango-tangled around duvets shredded in unpaced passion with minds conjuring the unshared images of lovers wished for and out of reach. A hand-held touch, relief equal mixed in indecision with window-stared thoughts glass-rebounded, until palms sweat-swipe apart and fumble-find clothes to disguise the cold unpassioned skins before glances can photo-pick flaws smooth-shopped by earlier desperate desires.

The third carriage; families familiarised, glimpses of her in future years, fuller, wrinkle-creased, heavy-thighed. The parents’ ordered house of ordered years, generations frame-ranked, and invisible future frames floating for filling by you and her. The father’s strong-handed handshake challenging control, the old order’s last stand to protect their eternal child; the cool light weak touch of the mother resisting a touch tendering ownership of the family’s human shares.

The fourth carriage; aisle-ambled, stained glass streaming, he waits for her, heart tight-folded. ‘I do’s echo-sound, murmured by ghosts of long dust-ground lovers; ‘I don’t’s whisper up cracked stone slabs from heart-broken ethereal voices. Glasses later raised like spirits, clink saluting speeches rewritten till fiction becomes almost truth and drunken cheers drown behind hand-hid gossiped slights.

The fifth carriage; he caught a floating wisp-waft of aftershave unknown, a fleeting flicker lying air-cushioned on her blouse collar and neck skin. The eyes leaving contact scarce seconds early but half-noted in a black-doored corner conscience, the lost distance stare mid conversation self-corrected too late and logged alongside late homecomings flushed and febrile, and the semi-smile lip-lingering with kisses shallow and slight.

The sixth carriage; he waits dark enshrouded, hoodied-hidden, watching and watchful, hands deep pocketed next to sharp-edged retribution. She passes alone, thoughts deep-woven of another, heart beat-beating in recaught teenage angst, sees not him, shadow stood, nor when he enters full light lit at home as she follows a routine daydream dreamt.

The seventh carriage; as he slides a knife blade, sleek and vengeful, skin splitting open like a guilt-weighted soul, and she slides spit-splutter down the door, her eyes unsurprised in understanding.

The eighth carriage; as he turns the blade, wet washed with her blood, and slices himself; their bloods mingling as the train of thought stops in sympathy.



The perfect murder

(written in 2015, the first story I took to my writing group)

The cowboy wiped his brow and edged away from behind the tree. Rifle raised, Hank had Joe in his sights. The perfect murder.

It had been so simple. Just buy a few drinks in the saloon, pretend to drunkenly let slip the supposed rendezvous with Ed. A time and place to split the loot and head out of town before anyone suspected who had really been behind the stagecoach robbery.

And now he looked at Joe down his rifle barrel. Joe. He’d given the guy a chance to join them, divide the money up three ways. But Joe, he always wanted to do things his way. Thought he knew better than Hank and Ed. Claimed he had killed that old man over in Lettsville and taken his horses. Strange how no-one had ever found the body. Maybe the old guy had just pegged out in one of his fields and the crows had pecked him to pieces. Joe talked a good story. But Hank had never seen him fire a gun once. Heck, he’d never seen him even throw a punch. And he couldn’t hold his liquor neither.

One thing Joe was good at though. Poker. He’d taken most of Hank’s money over the last year. That’s why Hank had agreed to help Ed with the robbery. And that’s why Hank now had Joe in his sights. It was time to take revenge on that low-life.

Hank adjusted his rifle. It was real quiet out here. Trees and shrubs gave him cover. The hillocks would stop the noise of the one shot needed – Hank was a good shot even if he said so himself – and the nearby loudly gurgling stream would add to the perfect set-up. Hank watched Joe stop, take off his ten gallon hat and scratch his head and stroke back his lank blond hair. He was hot. Hank was hot. But inside Hank was as cool as one of the icicles which hung each winter from his mother’s front porch.

Joe looked around, glanced up at the blazing sun, put his hat back on and walked further down the dusty path. No doubt he was thinking about the best place to hide and wait for Ed. Carry out his own little perfect murder. But Hank was more than one step ahead of him. The rifle he held was Ed’s. It’d

been too easy to sneak into Ed’s rundown ranch house this morning. Hank knew Ed slept till the noon sun was hanging in the sky. Once he’d finished off Joe, Hank would drop the gun just in front of the trees. Even that hopeless sheriff Lorne Bailey would be able to find it. And everyone knew Ed’s rifle. That distinctive scrolling on the metal. Done specially by that shifty blacksmith over in Ridgewell. Hank chuckled to himself as he thought of Ed being woken by Lorne and his posse tomorrow morning. He’d be in jail by nine, tried and condemned within days and jiggling from the end of a noose within the month.

Hank spat out tobacco. He’d wait until Joe came back this way. Up ahead the trees broke into open country again. No place for an ambush. Joe would stroll back, choose a tree or boulder and wait for Ed’s supposed meeting with his gang members. ‘Gang members’? Hank chuckled again. Ed’s only gang member was Hank. But he didn’t want his name linked in any way with this. Joe knew Ed couldn’t have stopped the stagecoach without help. That little mention of a gang had convinced him that Ed really was the man behind the robbery.

Joe had stopped. He was retracing his steps slowly. Hank smiled at the prospect of Joe choosing the very tree he was now standing behind. A sweet shot between the eyes would do fine. If not he’d take out Joe just behind the ear. Hank grimaced. How he hated Joe. Always eyeing up the girls in Ridgewell’s new saloon, pretending he had a big ranch and all. Swaggering around the bar, hands all over the young ladies. He never even bought drinks for the boys. Just a leecher. Like all the Piggots. Yeah, them Piggots deserved this too. Stealing land from the hardworking Clements, rustling cattle from old Miss Bertrum. Hank would be doing the whole town a favour with this little old perfect murder.

Nearly time to pull the trigger. Hank flexed his finger, took his hand off the rifle, made sure his palm was dry and flexible. Just pull the trigger nice and slow. No jerks. No jolts. A simple pull and the money was all his and his poker foe was gone for ever. Hey, maybe he’d even take over Ed’s little outfit. Not much land and only a few cattle but it would be a start. Hank didn’t want to flash his money around town too much. He didn’t need that loopy old sheriff breathing down his neck. Play it cool. Spend a bit here, spend a bit there. Buy a few drinks for those pretty ladies in the saloon.

In front of him Joe adjusted his belt, fiddled with his holster. Hank smiled again. Joe and that belt. He noticed how every time Joe went into the saloon he’d loosened that belt by a notch or two, let the holster hang real low, trying to make out he was some gunslinger. Who’d he think he was? Billy the Kid? Joe draw a gun fast? Hank doubted he could even draw with a pencil. He nearly laughed out loud at his joke and just managed to quietly snort instead. Keep calm, he told himself. Don’t spoil everything now. Hank closed one eye. Lined up the shot as Joe stood making up his final choice of hideaway. Now, just aim and pull this little trigger slowly and…

‘Tea’s ready, Hank.’

Sighing, Hank, otherwise known as Bobby Witherspoon, aged seven and three-quarters, of 77 Barry Road, South London, reluctantly scooped up his plastic toy cowboys, flung them into his tin toy box and headed off to face his destiny with a plate of beans on toast.



Slow editing and distractions

I am continuing to edit my novella set in 1950s America, about one episode or chapter a day. As this is the ‘conventional’ version with none of the made-up hyphened words I am finding that the word count is increasing as I rewrite the phrases into ‘normal’ sentences. It already stood at near 43,000 word,s which is long for a novella, but now it is edging towards 45,000 with about a third still to go. I keep thinking about editing out a whole chapter or two but just can’t bring myself to do it. Maybe I just have too much in the story. It would be possible to build it up to 80,000 or more by expanding each chapter and adding more detail as the story does zip along but at the moment it’s all I can do to keep editing the short version.

I haven’t watched Masterchef for several years but have found myself absorbed by it this year. I got caught up with the early rounds when there are many contestants and couldn’t help but play that game of trying to spot the winner from just the first round. I think also the fact that I have adopted a healthier diet over the last three months has heightened my interest in food – even if I can’t eat most of the dishes they concoct on the show! I’ve also taken more strenuous exercise and have lost half a stone even though I didn’t need to, consequently I find myself feeling quite hungry at times and really looking forward to my next meal. I probably need to have more healthy snacks around the place so I don’t get these hunger pangs, I’ve probably overdone the diet and exercise.

Another distraction has been a proposed house move. We started over a year ago, have ‘sold’ the house three times and still not moved. Long story. Right now we are sold, have a place to buy and are waiting for our solicitor to get answers to her ‘further enquiries’. We will probably still be here at Xmas. I’ll vote for any party which promises to hang, draw and quarter solicitors…

Ahhh, only forty minutes until food preparation time, my stomach is rumbling at the prospect.

Book Review – The Double Game by Dan Fesperman

The Double GameThe Double Game by Dan Fesperman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overall I found this to be an engrossing book. It took a while to really grab me but the plot moved along well and the references to other spy thrillers made for a fun idea. Having the main character as a 50-something man made a nice change from the usual younger men who are able to muscle their way out of incidents or are experts with an array of weaponry. On the odd occasion, and I can only think of one right now, that he has to take direct action he is genuinely surprised he managed it. The character’s relationship with an old flame is well handled and is left nicely open at the end. There’s a good ‘subplot’ of the relationships between the main character and his father and his own son.

One criticism might be that the book moves at a relatively slow pace and there are few dramatic moments. The tension comes through the main character’s perception of being followed or watched rather than being physically threatened. I’ve not read a Dan Fesperman novel before so it might be that this is his trademark style. In some ways it is a refreshingly old-fashioned type of thriller. Give it a try and stick with it if your attention falters.

View all my reviews

Girl on a bridge

(written a little while ago with a female narrator, something I try occasionally)

Summer time beats up lives, and consequences spread far beyond autumnal fall. The heat, the laziness, the empty time, all too tempting, days galloping into others, no boundaries of occupation or study, no barriers to emotions, no decorum. But maybe just dulce et decorum est mori.

He found me whiling away life in a coffee shop of no repute, serving capricious cappuccinos and  lecherous lattes to smooth-leering son-of-bitches, lazing louchely in chairs, cigarettes suggestive, gold chains goading, eyes tracing legs and rears like hunters at a waterhole.  Tapping tabletop with platinum card he beckoned, no words, a glance at cold gritted remains deep engrained in a cup. I smiled, wondering what dust he inhaled at night on that card.

His eyes crawled after me, felt their way up stockinged legs, across bloused top and I shudder where else. The tip beneath the saucer suggested caffeine was not the only stimulant he sought. Tucking it discreetly, knowing he watched afar, grin growing at the little girl gratified, I ran a hand through locks of auburn light and walked unturning.

Expresso became lunch, light and oiled, refusing service unless me. Dodging withering words mouthed by fly-by-night waitresses, I attended attentively, drawn by eyes and attitude, and money and freedom. A wrist caught signified stakes updated, long fingers encircling skin and bone, a clasp of ownership.

Eyes met; mine questioned, his laughed.

A finger unwound, grazed hairs, electrifying erotica. Eyes remained; mine unsure, his demanding. Hand slid up, curling under elbow, drawing down, no resistance encountered.

Eyes burned; mine curious, his victorious.

Words whispered, swarming inside my ear, twisting and seducing, curling up at home. Releasing, he knew the answer, before me, as I moved violated yet beguiled.

Returning relentlessly, his table my world, each visit vicarious, each order a slice off my life. Hands clasped, fingers resting on hips, arms encasing shoulders, my personal space became his, my time bought, my freedom confined.

An evening stroll, warm breeze humming with hubris, he promised his world; travel tantalising on heated horizons, clothes wardrobed along streets of couturiers, villas visualised reflected in Mediterranean blue. I fought sense and sensibility; and lost, lost in a world unknown, a world portrayed in magazine gloss, a heart smothering worries, a summer long odyssey of love’s many ports beckoning.

Crossing the bridge, from my world to his, my Rubicon step one late simmering evening, I met his stare, breathed in the embrace, intoxicated with worship. The path walked on, deeper to his sphere, no villa unveiled, no yacht’s yawl bobbing, no jewels jousting in fingers. Darker the wood, my heart shrank back, lifting the layered rose-tint. I felt his hands true at last, the touch severe, the skin coarse, the rapid throb of veins beneath.

Querying the quest, his eyes turned, honed for violence, pretence pretentious, grip swung sharp. I fell, as deception fell away too, a victim awaiting.

Now I sit upon the bridge, the prodigal returned, unsure if innocence can be re-won, bloodied stone resting in deep depths beneath, cast off like my foolishness, resting wet and cold, as he does, under a tree, life-blood feeding the earth.



Music to write by – 4


Listening to the beautiful voice of the beautiful Amy Lee is the perfect way to find inspiration for writing. Especially if you writing is on the dark or melancholy side. I rediscovered Evanescence while working on my novella set in 1950s America and their music fitted perfectly with the main character’s worldly mood. Check them out, and in particular watch videos of their live performances – even better than their recorded music!