Friday, 21 June 2013

7: A Frank Exchange of Views

“It’s all the fault of this government of ours, Frank.  They don't give a damn about the average working man.  Or the oldies or the kids.  None of the people the welfare state was set up to care for.  All just chucked on the scrap heap, that’s what it feels like.”

“Yeah it’s OK saying that, Frankie, but what about those who can't be bothered to try for things, eh?  Why should I have to work hard, spent 10 hours a day slaving my guts out so some lazy B can stay in bed and set his family on fire when he doesn't get his own way?”

“Steady on, you can’t lump everyone in together like that.  My son’s best mate Franc, he’s been hunting for work for months, not got so much as an interview.  How does that make a man feel do you reckon?  He’s got a young kiddie too, and he can’t even buy her proper Christmas presents.  He had to go to London and work for nothing at the Olympics.  They made him sleep under a bridge.”

“How many people would have given their right arm for a chance to be at the Olympics every day, Frankie?  You can’t pay for an experience like that and he probably got a free uniform out of it too.  Stick on eBay at the end of it, did he?”

“It’s alright for you Frank, your father starting you off in the family business, then your whole life falling into place.  Bet you go private for those teeth of yours, eh?  Some people are too poor to even have teeth these days.”

“Give over with you.  Course they do.”

“Not if you’re on minimum wage and you need £50 for a filling and it’s a choice between food or heating or your face.  So they end up drilling into their own teeth to stop the pain.  We see it all the time down the pub.”

“Really?  You’ve really seen a load of people who drilled into their teeth themselves because they can’t afford a dentist Frankie?”

“Well, not a load.  But I heard about a bloke who had a cousin who knew someone who did it.  It’ll be everyone before long, you mark my words.”

“Maybe if they can all afford an electric drill they should start doing odd jobs for people.  Earn a bit of money.  Let me get you to a drink Frankie.

“Fuck off, Frank.”

7: After Life - Mr Flash365

- So, you died then, Bob.
- I did, Jim.
- How was that, then?
- Touch and go.
- They touched you and you went? Barbara told me you had that problem.
- Ha bloody ha.
- Glad to see you’re keeping cheerful.
- No, though, actually, Jim, it was bloody weird.
- Well, it would be. Not something you do every day. Not your actual dying.
- No, well, exactly. But it was what I saw.
- Saw? Was it a bright light?
- Not as such. Not a bright light as such. More a load of them.
- Aliens.
- What?
- You didn’t die, you were abducted by aliens.
- Was I?
- No, you daft bugger. They said you were out for nearly a minute before they brought you back. The lights was probably them, whatsits, neuro-thingies in your brain, firing and whizzing and doing all that.
- Could be. But explain this to me.
- What?
- The lights that I saw looked like the lights of the room I was in. But from above.
- Ooh, one of them out of whatsit experiences?
- Body?
- Aye, that.
- Yeah, that’s what I’ve been thinking.
- So do you reckon it was real? Or was it just your brain making stuff up. Did you see the horse?
- What horse?
- They do this thing, to test if it’s real. On the tops of the cupboards in rooms where people are going to croak, they put pictures of horses or whatever. And then, if the previously deceased claims to have been all floaty and looking down, they can ask them what they saw.
- Oh, yeah, I read about that.
- So did you?
- What? See the horse? Have you seen this hospital? If I looked down on their cupboards you know what I’d see?
- What?
- Dust.
- True. True. Mind you, they’re all the way up there, aren’t they? Out of sight, out of mind.
- Out of body.
- Yep. So when you getting out?
- Soon as they let me. When are you getting them in?
- Soon as they let me.
- Good. Cos I tell you what.
- What?
- My throat feels like the top of one of them cupboards.
- You’re a little hoarse, then?

- Nay.

6: If Only, Frank

It would have been alright for Frank, if only it hadn’t happened like that.  If only the lights hadn’t changed and the cars hadn’t got split up as they went through.  If only the sun wasn’t in his eyes.  If only the cat hadn’t scratched Marian’s leg so deeply.  If only the stocks hadn’t risen quite that far.  If only they had picked the bigger dog.  If only Frank had been in the 40% who could smell it.  If only being number 5 in the world was enough.  If only the concrete hadn’t dried quite so quickly, before she was able to smooth out the marks.  If only the red hadn’t glowed quite so brightly.  If only the guy looked less like Bernard Cribbins and more like Dennis O’Leary.  And the worst thing was Frank knew exactly what that would mean but not exactly who for.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

6: Footnote* - Mr Flash365

*Taken from Steven Briers’ monograph, The World in the Twenty First Century (Bitterne University Press, 1978). Though, to be honest, it’s all a bit like that Tomorrow’s World, isn’t it? I mean, they were predicting protein pills and jetpacks, weren’t they? Not once did they say we’d all have smart phones and tiny skinny tellys and no money. It’s a hilarious book, you really ought to read it. If you can find it, that is. I couldn’t find it in the library, and inter-library loans were no use. I mean, who do you have to sleep with to get one of those? I’m serious. You tell me who exactly it is who needs that particular blowjob and I’ll be on my knees with my mouth gaped in a heartbeat. I tried getting it from Amazon. No joy. Ebay: similar. In the end I tracked it down in a book warehouse which smelt worse than the Vice Chancellor’s armpit juice. But, no, it’s really funny. He makes all these predictions about the economy, and they’re all based on unions and the three day week. To him, Thatcher was just a funny woman who liked ice cream. He knew nothing. But he had one useful quote, and I stuck it in here because my supervisor told me I should consult the book, and she probably hasn’t read it since it was published. She looks back, through gin-tinted glasses, to a time when she was thrusting and energetic and studying everything she could find, then going out on the beers and having a knee-trembler round the back of the union. It’s all tied up in her mind: dirty, panting,  back-alley orgasms and Steven Briers’ masterpiece. Still, if it gets me through this bloody thesis, that’s good enough for me. So, yeah, this was taken from a 40 year old book by a man writing about his future – our present – who managed to get almost everything exactly wrong. And yet, here it is. Welcome to bloody academia. Where’s my jetpack?

5: Frank: The Making of a Legend - Mrs Flash365

In the pub there was Frank’s chair, at the club it was Frank’s table and at football Frank’s seat.  He was here so often we eventually christened the second room Frank’s cubicle.  We had no other patient come in as often as Frank and believe me, we get some in here a lot.

His visits fell into one of three main categories.  Firstly, he came in when he’d had problems at work.  Sometimes he fell off things.  He dropped things, mainly on himself.  He bumped into things and from time to time things collapsed with him inside.

Then came the visits after leisure activities.  Despite his age he seemed to think creaks and strains on the pitch should be run off.  He usually visited us match day plus two, but once or twice he was stretchered in from the field directly.  His wife talked him out of rock climbing and suggested country walking, but then there was that landslip and sure enough it slipped onto Frank.

We’ve termed the third group miscellaneous because we couldn’t think of another term to describe the motley selection of other things he pitched up at our door suffering from.  Once he tried to eat a snake for a bet and it bit him, so he rolled up, Ozzy Osbourne-like with a swollen face, needing a complete set of shots.  And then he burnt himself trying to swap the battery on his daughter’s car.  He was doing fine with running it under cold water until he managed to spray it over the floor, slipped and cracked his wrist on the floor.  At least 6 weeks in plaster kept him away from us because he just couldn't get up to his normal mischief.

Despite everything we have come to love Frank.  He’s always smiling and leaves every time promising he’ll be more careful and that was the last time we’d see him.  Sister Boo vetoed inviting him to our Christmas party, so we raised a glass to him instead.  What else can you do with the only man who has ever come into an A&E department with something inserted in his rectum and admitted he stuck it there himself because he thought it would feel good.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

5: The Halibut - Mr Flash365

Eat more fish, the doctor told me.
Bad skin and your hair loss: more fish.
Depression and high blood pressure: more fish.
Putting on weight and feeling sluggish: more fish.
I asked her if she was on commission. She just laughed. I even asked her if she was a proper doctor at all. That wasn’t so funny, apparently.
“More fish,” she said. “It’s full of Omega 3s and oils and low in fat and has far fewer side effects than pills. Much better for you, especially at your age. So try more fish, then come back if you don’t feel better. But you will, you will, if you eat more fish.”
I’ve never really eaten fish, though, so what do I do? I head to the nearest fish shop and I point and I pay.
I don’t know why I bought a halibut. I’ve heard the name, of course. And it’s a fun word to say – halibut, halibut, halibut.
It was looking at me, so I decided to take it home. It was looking at me with one good eye;  winking at me, eyebrow raised. How could I resist?
But then what? I mean, I picked it because it was cheeky. How was I supposed to cook it?
I used that Google thing our Stacey showed me and looked up ‘halibut’.
Wikipedia recommended it steamed and served in black bean sauce. Sounded like a lot of work to me for a fish. But before it told me that, it told me that it was a ‘right eye flounder’. That’s even more fun to say.
I picked it up and turned it over, aware of the slimy texture in my fingers. Sure enough, both eyes were on one side. One eye – the one with the cocky eyebrow – looked kind of normal. The other was smaller and squinted, as though the lights were too bright. It looked lobsided.
Don’t ask me why I carried it through to the powder room. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
If the lights in the kitchen were too bright, the lights in here were worse, that was one reason why I so rarely came in here. But, hey, it’s just a fish.
Called Derek.
I opened the door on the bathroom cabinet and then I held Derek up at arm’s length. I had a vague memory of Stanley Baxter.
Or Dick Emery.
I held Derek up and aligned him with the mirror.
And there he was, gazing back at me with two good eyes. His eyebrows were raised in greeting, and his mouth seemed to be curved into a sardonic smile.
Harry Worth, that was it.
I didn’t quite know what to do with Derek after that. I’d named him and now I felt I’d met him. He’d smiled at me. How could I cook him now?
So, I took him back to the kitchen, washed my hands, then fetched my wife’s ‘sewing and notions’ basket.
She’d always hated it when I called it that.
I found a square of green felt and I laid Derek down on it. It offset the dark colour of his upper side very nicely. And then, with some fragments of lace, and a handful of sequins, I prettied him up. He looked a picture by the time I’d finished.
I don’t know about my hair or my weight, but I felt really quite cheered up by the time I’d finished.

Maybe I’ll take him to the doctor tomorrow, and show her. If she likes fish as much as she says, she’ll love Derek.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

4: Talk to Frank - Mrs Flash365

It started as a bit of a joke, with that drugs campaign.  “Talk to Frank” it said.  I never found out why they chose to use Frank but I’ve had 10 years of being talked to.  At first only friends though, not anyone else until later.  Well, I say friends.  Used-to-be friends I think of them as now, all of them.

Sometimes they would talk to me about drugs and what did I know?  I like a bit of a drink and I know some of my mates do have a joint at parties but that’s about it for me and drugs.  I tried to remember Zammo and advised ‘just don't do it.’  Then Gary pointed out it was ‘just say no’ so I just said that as advice if anyone ever asked.

For a while everyone wanted to know who my dealer was, could they get something off him.  I don't think anyone really believed me when I said I didn’t have a dealer and no I didn't know anyone else either.  They looked suspicious, like I was trying to keep them from something, from my own special supply maybe.

After a while it wasn’t just my friends any more.  People at work had started popping by my desk to talk to me about things, hardly ever actually about work.  Sometimes it was about drugs too but mostly it was just about random stuff they wanted to say.  Some of it was really weird, saying odd things about me or about someone else in the office.  For some reason a lot of people wanted to talk about Marina in the post room.

Then one day it started outside work too, out on the street.  I was sat at the bus stop and people walking past started talking to me.  They didn't usually stop and talk, just say things as they walked past and then hurry on by.  I tried not to react because if one person saw me answering or maybe thought I’d have time to engage with them, I found that would encourage the others.

I mostly don't mind it but sometimes they won't stop and I want a rest.  I don't always have something to say and when two or three start talking together my head starts to hurt.  I even scream to drown it out but they carry on and on.

What’s it like?  Maybe like your own voice, telling you a story inside your head, one you don't always want to listen to but can’t do anything about.  I’d like it to be quiet and I’d like to know why.  Is it really just because I’m called Frank?

4: The Bomb Lives Only As It Is Falling - Mr Flash365

She didn’t stop to think, she just leapt from her chair.
                 That was what the witnesses said.

I can’t believe she did it. It’s just not like her.
                 That was what her sister said.

She was very quiet, what with being wobbly on her pegs, you know? We barely saw her.
                 That was what the neighbours said.

She was a mother of four, grandmother of six. Nothing more than an ageing housewife.
                 That was what the papers said.

She came out of nowhere. She saved my life.
                 That was what the security guard said.

Without her, he would have got away with a little over half a million.
                 That was what the bank manager said.

She shouldn’t’ve bin there. It should’ve bin the fucker with the cash.
                 That was what the gunman said.

She died from massive blood-loss due to gunshot trauma.
                 That was what the coroner said.

She was my wife, and she was always a hero to me.
                 That was what her husband said.

Now. Now is my time. At last, my time to act.
                 That was what she thought.

[The title is taken from 'Zakalwe's Song', the poem at the end of Use of Weapons by Iain M Banks. ]

3: Why Frank Couldn't Be President - Mrs Flash365

His father set him on course for the presidency at a very early age.  He was schooled in the history of the Union, from the importance of 1492 through the Civil War, the Cold War and the war on terror.  He knew how many signatories there were on the Declaration of Independence and could name every single president and date their terms in office.  He had been on 3 tours of the West Wing, including a short visit to the Oval Office, and used the nickname POTUS, except in school.

But Frank was born in Hackney and no matter how hard he tried and wished and learned fact after fact, he never could stop not being a natural-born American from thwarting his dream.

Monday, 17 June 2013

3: Burning Embers - Mr Flash365

Shelly held up her empty bottle and reached for Dan’s. “Do you want a last one?” she asked him.
             He nodded, gazing into the fire, then realising that she probably couldn’t see him properly in the dark, said, “Yes, please, honey. Thank you.”
             She stood up and made her way back across the garden, carrying the empty bottles. A slice of light slanted onto the grass as she opened the kitchen door and went inside.
Dan didn’t watch her go, but kept his eyes on the fire, watching the flames lap gently across the wood, yellow paling into blue. The fire was burning low and the cool of the night was starting to eat into the cocoon of warmth it had woven. It would be time to go in soon.
Shelly returned with two more beers, and set one down on the table next to Dan. He didn’t look up.
“I got your beer for you.”
“Hmm? Oh. Thanks, honey.”
He leant forward and picked up the poker from the ground, then he used it to shift the big log in the centre of the embers. It would burn a little hotter there. Hotter, but quicker.
He sat back in his chair and picked up his beer.
“Thanks,” he said again as he took a sip.
The two of them sat in silence, watching the flames lick higher and brighter. Dan looked across and could see his wife looking at him, the yellow light reflected in her eyes.
He raised his bottle in a salute and she did the same.
With a soft crump, the last log in the fire split into ashes and the light died.

He turned back to watch it, and they sat in silence as the last of it glowed in shades of amber and red.

2: Frank Denies An Apprentice - Mrs Flash365

Dear Lord Diehardt

Thank you for your application for a government-subsidized apprentice under the national Apprenticeship Scheme to increase employment opportunities for our young people.  I am sorry to inform you we are unable to proceed with your application for the following reasons:

1) The government is happy to consider apprenticeships in a wide range of areas, in both practical and office-based environments.  Your wish to train “a nemesis and arch-criminal mastermind” is commendable but we do not feel it is an area we wish divert limited funds into.  Further, the scheme seeks to develop skills that would equip a young person in the workplace in their future career and your suggestion is unlikely to lead to anyone developing a diverse range of transferable skills.

2) Before we could permit any apprentice to begin work, a full health and safety assessment of the workplace and main duties would have to be carried out.  A cursory glance at your submission tells me your “lair filled with diabolical devices” may be something of a health and safety nightmare.  “Fiendish plans” is insufficient in detail for me to assess the workstreams fully, but if there is any likelihood of utilizing said diabolical devices I can again foresee problems.

3) I’m afraid we are unable to provide a steady stream of new apprentices to you as you request.  Normal practice is for a successful applicant to be employed for at least 12 months in a single role.  If you are likely to “lose one a week” it might be wiser for you to review your work practices than to just replace the unfortunates.

4) Some of the examples of tasks you cite do not seem compatible with the ethos of the Apprenticeship Scheme.  Rather than “learning to laugh maniacally” consider understanding the principles of a filing system.  Perhaps “strapping an heiress to Big Ben’s clapper” could be replaced with a solid knowledge of Microsoft Office.  Team working and time-management skills would be preferable to “tying knots too tight to escape from” either on rail-road tracks and overhanging mountains.

5) Lastly we feel you just aren't any good, are you?  She’s a slip of a girl for heaven’s sake.  Nothing you have done has held her up for more than a matter of minutes.  If she is a swindled heiress, where is she getting the resources to visit the opera, the Rickenbacker Falls, London and who knows where to track down the Sultan’s dearly sought-after skull?  Can’t you even get swindling right?  When did mountain climber start to equal superhero?  You simply aren't successful enough to set a good example to any young person looking for a sound start to their working life.

I do hope you understand the reasons for our decision.  Details of our appeals process are in the accompanying leaflet.


Frank Burkhampton.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

2: Terror in the Sun - Mr Flash365

Part 366

Last time: our intrepid heroine, swindled heiress and mountain climber, Lucy Burkhampton, has been flung from a cliff by her evil nemesis, Lord Diehardt, after the two of them discover that their lives are actually fictional and being written by a crazed author reaching the end of his tether at the end of a long project. Will she plummet to her death in the fog? Will Lord Diehardt escape? Will the writer make it all the way to end of this one? To find out, read on…

All was fog and rushing air. Lucy waved her arms, desperately trying to grab a handhold. This was a cliff, after all. Whenever she had been thrown from a cliff before she had always found a well-rooted sapling, a tough tussock, or a passing eagle to grab hold of.
But this time… nothing.
She fell.
And fell.
And fell.
But the expected agony of her well-muscled back impacting on unyielding rocks never came. She simply fell.
Or did she? The wind was rushing yes, but maybe it was blowing. In the fog it was impossible to tell, but maybe she wasn’t falling at all. Maybe she was floating inside a gale.
She didn’t know how that might be possible, but it didn’t mean that it wasn’t.
And then…
She was standing on a street, but it wasn’t like any street she recognised. The sudden shift from falling to standing made her dizzy and she went to one knee. Her hand planted in the dust, and it was dust.
She looked around and saw wooden buildings, with long board-lined porches and hitching rails for horses.
The street was empty, and then a man in black stepped out from the shadows of the saloon. His silver spurs winked and glinted in the sun, jangling a jagged carillon with every step.
He stopped in the middle of the road and faced her.
Lucy pushed herself to her feet and stared down the length of the street to the threatening figure. As her eyes adjusted to the hot sun beating down on her, she made out more figures, cowering inside doorways and windows; watching.
“Burkhampton!” came the shout from the figure.
She recognised the voice. Of course she did. She had spoken to him only moments before he threw her from the cliff and she ended up… here. It was Lord Diehardt, but dressed in a way unlike any way she had ever seen him dressed before.
Head to toe in black, with a black hat, black boots and black guns hanging from a black gunbelt, he looked like nothing more than a cowboy.
As her brain finally caught up with her sudden transition, she realised that his dress was entirely appropriate for the situation, and she found her hand reaching to her side where she found a gun nestled in its holster. Her other hand rose to her head where she found a broad-brimmed hat settled over her lustrous hair.
It shouldn’t have made any sense, but she found that in a way it did.
“What?” she finally remembered to reply.
“I’m calling you out!” Diehardt shouted in a drawl.
She looked around her. “What does that mean?” she replied.
She could see his shoulders slump in exasperation.
“It means that you have to draw, and we see who survives!” he continued in his normal clipped, educated tones.
She nodded. That was pretty much what she’d expected.
“Why?” she called.
Another slump. At this rate her questions were going to render him prostrate before she even had a chance to do so with her gun.
“Because that’s what we do!” he called back.
Before she could ask another question, he continued. “You were right! When we talked! You were right! None of it’s real! We do what we’re told! But this is what we’re told to do! If it was Mars we’d have space-guns! But it’s not! So, draw, you mangy cur!”
With these last words, his hand dropped to his belt and, in a blur, she saw the barrel of his gun rise into view.
Her own hand was moving without her even exercising any volition. The gun felt good in her hand, felt right. She straightened her arm and pulled the trigger.

Will our heroine have outgunned her nemesis? Will she survive this duel? Will she endure only to find herself in yet another precarious situation which she will then escape through some tenuous scheme? Tune in next time, if there is a next time, to find out…

1: Frank’s Ant Farm - MrsFlash365

Everyone else in the class already had a partner so Frank had to fill the glass tank with bright blue goo by himself.  It reminded him of the colour of his mother’s eyes, how they used to be before his father left them and made his mother’s eyes all red and puffy.  

“They’re not like us,” his mother said when he told about his science project.  “Ants stay together in one big family.  An ant doesn’t disappear from the farm for three nights leaving the other ants wondering where he is.  An ant doesn’t need time out to find himself.  An ant doesn't decide to move to another farm where the ants are younger and prettier.  Ants are not like people.”

Frank watched his ants, every morning in class.  Between them they nibbled criss-cross through the blueness until they had created a network of channels from side to side and top to bottom of their farm.  Every one of the ants worked together, following each other in a determined line.

“Didn’t any of them piss off down the pub?” asked his mother.  “Or stumble home at 2am, singing so loud the neighbours threatened to call the police?  Maybe try to bluff away a load of stuff that showed up on his little ant credit card statement?”

Frank’s teacher said every pair, plus Frank, had to write a report about what they had learned from their ant farms.  Then they would be allowed to take the the tanks home for the weekend, to show their families what they had made.

Frank wrote, “I never saw an ant make another ant cry.  None of the ants were lonely.  None of the ants ignored the others and did what they wanted to do instead.  They wanted to be together.  We could learn such a lot from ants.  Ants are nothing like people.  If I take my ant farm home, my mother might be sad.  But I think I will send it to my Dad.”

1: Time Will Tell - MrFlash365

Saturday, 12.38pm

Judy was already in the café when Derek arrived. Her coffee was steaming in front of her and she was just adding sugar.
             “Hello, baby,” he said, as he walked up to her table. “Sorry I’m late.”
             She looked up at him, confused.
             “I think you must have the wrong person,” she said. “I don’t know you.”
             Derek stared at her for a beat and then slapped his hand against his thigh. “Damn, sorry.” He turned and walked away. “I’ll be back in a minute,” he called over his shoulder.

Saturday, 12.38pm

Judy was already in the café when Derek arrived. Her coffee was steaming in front of her and she was just adding sugar.
             “Hello, baby,” he said, as he walked up to her table. “Sorry I’m late.”
             She looked up at him and gave a vague smile.
             “Hi, there,” she said, then paused. “Derek, isn’t it?”
             “Yes.” He put his hand on the chair opposite as though to pull it out and sit down, but stopped when a puzzled look crossed her face.
“We met at Julie’s, didn’t we? A few years ago? We got on quite well, I think. You were going to call me.”
             “And I didn’t?” Derek asked. He slapped his hand against his thigh. “Damn, sorry.” He turned and walked away. “I’ll be back in a minute,” he called over his shoulder.

Saturday, 12.38pm

Judy was already in the café when Derek arrived. Her coffee was steaming in front of her and she was just adding sugar. Another coffee sat on the other side of the table.
             “Hello, baby,” he said, as he walked up. “Sorry I’m late.”
             She looked up at him and broke into a broad smile.
             “Don’t worry, honey,” she said. “I’ve only just been served.” She pointed to the cup opposite as Derek pulled out the chair and sat down. “It’s still hot.”
             “Great,” he took a sip and winced at the heat. “Thank you.”
             She stirred her coffee and smiled at him.
             “So, I was wondering,” he said. “Do you think it’s time we took it to the next level.”
             She frowned. “The next level?”
             “Well, yes. I was wondering if it’s time we moved in together. It would save all this travelling.”
             “But, Derek,” she said, her frown deepening, “we’ve only been on a few dates, and I know so little about you. I think we should wait a bit longer.”
             He nodded, staring down at his coffee, then stood up and walked away.
             “Where are you going?” she asked.
             “I’ll be back in a minute,” he called over his shoulder.

Saturday, 12.38pm

Judy was already in the café when Derek arrived. Her coffee was steaming in front of her and she was just adding sugar. Another coffee sat on the other side of the table.
             “Hello, baby,” he said, as he walked up. “Sorry I’m late.”
             She looked up at him and then back down at her coffee.
             He pulled out the chair opposite and sat down. She said nothing.
             “Something wrong?” he asked.
             She shrugged and then went still. He waited. She looked up and fixed him with eyes that were brimming with tears.
             “It’s just that it’s typical, isn’t it? I mean, you’re always late. I’m always the second choice for you, behind whatever else it is you have to do.”
             “Well, that’s why I was thinking. We could move in together. Save all this travelling.”
             She stared at him and he could see her thinking it over. She shook her head and looked back down at her coffee.
             “I don’t think so, Derek. It’s just not going to work out. We’ve spent so much time together, but it’s like you don’t really want to get to know me. You don’t want to work at this. You just expect it to be perfect with no effort.”
             She reached for her handbag and stood up. She pulled her coat from the back of the chair and slung it over her arm.
             As she passed him she bent and gave his cheek a kiss. “I do like you, Derek, but it’s like you’re never really here. You can come and get your things from my flat later, if you like.”
             Derek sat and stared into his own coffee as she walked out.

Saturday, 12.36pm

Derek was already sitting at a table, sipping at hot coffee, when Judy approached with her own drink.
             “I’m sorry to bother you,” she said. “But the place is heaving and this seems to be the only free seat. Is it okay if I sit here.”
             He smiled and nodded. “Of course.”
             He waited until she had sat down and then extended his hand. “Hi, I’m Derek,” he said.
             “Judy,” she replied and reached for the sugar.
             There was silence while she stirred and then she looked back up at him. “So, if it’s not too much of a cocktail party question,” she said, “what do you do?”
             “I’m a time traveller,” he said and she laughed.
             “Really? What are the hours like?”

Saturday, 15 June 2013


Welcome to Mr & Mrs Flash365.

For National Flash-Fiction Day 2013, Calum and Kath Kerr are getting back into their flash365 saddles to write a week of stories each, just for you lovely people.

So stay tuned for all the flashy goodness!