Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

My first attempt at a short story

It should have been a happy time for James and Louise watching their only son grow up into a handsome man full of athletic ability and promise.

2016 had been their year. Medal after medal at the Rio Olympics and all gold made them the nations sporting golden couple and household names. They came back to Great Britain full of hope for the future, proud of what they had achieved for the nation but most of all looking forward to getting married and starting a family.

Their wedding was a stylish but low key event with family and close friends. Of course Ok were there to photograph it all and let the celebrity worshippers see what they had missed or could copy for their own wedding in full eye blinding colour over 10 pages. Weddings don’t just pay for themselves after all and it would be good to show the general public they were just an ordinary working class family after all.

And 9 months after their wedding on that warm September day their first child as born a boy…and they called him Kevin. Now there’s nothing wrong with Kevin as a name but usually celebrity couples prefer more unorthodox names such as prunus, mostaza or cacao. But James and Louise once again choose to remain close to their working class roots and called him Kevin.

They sent him to the local primary and secondary schools where they hoped he would learn to be tough and develop into a strong, multi-talented sportsman with a mentality that could crush Mount Everest a cast iron will that could crush planets and a fearless desire to not only win but crush whole cities in they got in his sporting path.

And so twenty years later as they began to think about Kevin’s 21st birthday party they looked at him as he covered the entire £10,000 leather sofa they had bought him with his vast frame. Had they been too soft on him? Should they have made him work for money instead of giving it away so freely? Maybe they should have taken him cycling and made him work for glory and not just assume he would have the unbelievable will to win that they possessed.

Yes, Kevin lay on his extra-large sofa, 20st of fat watching day time television eating his third pizza of the day, spilling a large cola down the valley that divided his chest as another fart somehow escaped from between his mountainous butt cheeks followed swiftly by a belch that could have destroyed any island in its path had Kevin been bothered enough to get off the sofa and do so.

James and Louise looked on and wondered once again how their genes and DNA could have produced something so different to them and not the ultimate sporting superstar they had both hoped for. They still loved Kevin of course and catered for his every whim but they wished he had turned out different. More like his sister Gabby who was fast developing into one of the top cyclists in the world already at the age of eighteen.

They looked at each other lovingly and realised it was too late to change Kevin and his annoying bad habits and they would have to accept him for who he was and love him all the same. ‘Another pizza’ asked James? ‘Yes please’ replied Kevin. ‘I’ll get you another cola’ piped up Louise. ‘Thanks mum’ Kevin said without looking up from the sofa. ‘Love you both’, ‘Love you too son’ James and Louise said in unison with a sly smile on their faces.

I thought I’d try my hand at short story writing so in-between doing uni work I’ve come up with this. As always comments are welcome. I hope you enjoy it.

I settled into the wooden chair covered in dried coffee and tea stains. The table wobbled on the cobbled floor until my cup balanced it precariously on a cobble at the right angle. I took in the view from this position of tranquillity under the awning of the hotel. All around me were buildings in either brilliant white or various shades of blue. Everything was so clean it was as if they had been painted that very morning. This was entirely possible because the sun warmed everything from its vantage point, high up in a clear blue sky. The mountain at the end of the road was the only way to get closer to the sun and full its rays even more on my face.

I took in the smell of the air. Not fresh and sweet smelling as you might expect, but the smell of hashish all around. The locals grew it in copious amounts on their farm land, in back gardens, on window sills. I had even heard of one man who grows it on top of his bedside alarm clock! How he even managed to wake up every day was beyond me. Maybe his life was just one stoned stupor, all day long, every single day. Would he know if he was alive or dead I wondered? Or did he live his life in some hazy Xanadu, never sure what was reality or what was a dream? Either way he managed to somehow eke out a living from his plants on his alarm clock and survive.

I wondered how stoned I was having lived in the haze of hashish for a month now. Would I be in for a shock when I returned to my reality and the smog filled streets of London? And then he appeared. The man who everybody called the Top Man. The reason for this was very simple. He lived on the top floor of the same hotel I was staying at. Not just in a room but the whole top floor was his. I called him the Man on Top because he was on top of the whole hotel and in this part of the world you couldn’t get any higher.

Rumour had it that he was the son of a top ranking politician from Germany or France. They’re had been some sort of scandal back home involving a young au pair and inevitably his father had used his considerable power to transport him out of the country while it all died down. And here 3,000 feet up the side of a mountain, in a village where hashish was the staple diet he had found the perfect place to hide away.

Nobody here cared what he had done back home, nobody even cared who he was. His bill was paid on time every month and with a little tip on top too according to the head porter. The hotel was thriving because of this steady extra income. All ten rooms on top were his and his alone. Food, water and wine were all sent up on a daily basis left at the top of the stairs for him to collect as and when he pleased.

He didn’t seem too bothered what they left him or at what time either. As long as he had something he was happy. Except for the tea. He had to have his special tea delivered when he wanted it. It didn’t matter what time of the day or night it was he just had to have his special tea there and then. At first it had been a hindrance to the hotel kitchen staff but when they found out that he would give them a generous tip for delivering his special tea quickly their minor irritations soon disappeared and the tea was delivered quicker and quicker as the tips got bigger and bigger.

Yes the special tea that everybody talked about. When I first arrived here I naturally assumed it was some blend from home that he was particularly fond of and could not be without. But nothing could be further from the truth. The blend was just a normal, everyday local one that you could buy anywhere. In fact there were better blends you could buy but that did not interest him. No what interested him so much was what he had put in it. Opiates. This alleged well dressed and well educated young man was addicted to opium tea. And the owner of the hotel was more than happy to supply it to him.

Again a rumour but places like this survive on rumour, the hotel owner’s brother or brother-in-law was the major opium dealer in town. Everybody knew this and the police didn’t care mainly because the couple of policemen who patrolled the streets were also dealers, smugglers and users of hashish and anything else they could get their hands on. On the odd occasion an out of town patrol car did come into town it was to pick up some high quality hashish for the equally high ranking officials of the bigger town further down the mountain.

So the owner of the hotel was raking it in from one young man, supplying him with the best of everything at inflated prices. But the opium tea was the young man’s crux, his Achilles heel, his reason for stopping here until his father made him go back.

But today was something really special. Today he had come out of his room and ventured into the streets below. This was highly unusual because most of the time he was that stoned on opium tea he could barely function. Some of the staff said that they had seen him slowly crawling on his hands and knees to his food and that by the time he got there he was so worn out by it all he promptly feel asleep with his face in his food!

So to see him out today, dressed smartly, talking, walking but looking pale after so long hidden away was nothing short of a miracle. But he walked amongst the locals with an assuredness that comes from being brought up in a family of great importance. He also knew that it was highly unlikely anyone would harm him as he was too important financially to the hotel and the various people who worked there. Harming him might bring the real police from the even bigger city in the valley here and that would be very big trouble indeed.

Not only would this have the very real possibility of cutting off the town’s major source of money at the moment, but they might also discover the murky and often grim underbelly of this little town and cut off what had been its main source of income for decades. Drugs. So the man on top could wander about safe in the knowledge that he would come to no harm because he was too valuable to everybody in this little town.

But as I watched him wander the street in front of the hotel I wondered what had brought him out of his little enclave. Surely it can’t have been food or wine for he had more than enough of these to last him a lifetime. He had also drunk enough opium tea to last him a lifetime or at least leave him stoned for the rest of his life.

And then he walked over to a nearby street vendor and bought some fresh carrots off him. I watched him as he gnawed at them like a donkey and wondered what had possessed this man who seemingly had everything to leave his castle and buy some carrots? In a strange town with strange people this was one of the strangest sights I had ever seen. Some of the other locals looked on as he proceeded to eat more raw carrots with increasing vigour.

And then he finished the carrot he had been eating, turned around sharply and marched back to the hotel. He strode purposefully as if he didn’t want to be seen but it was too late for that. As he approached me he looked at me directly and all I could see was a young man lost, an empty shell of what had been such a promising life. I stared into his eyes and I felt I could see right through them because there was nothing behind of substance for me to delve deeper into and try to understand this young man.

He walked past me and was gone. I never saw him again. I left two weeks later and nobody had seen him again up to that point. For all anybody knew he could have been dead but as long as his father was paying the hotel money the owner didn’t care. He would be worth as much if not more dead than alive and with a father who had a bottomless supply of money the hotel owner wasn’t going to give up has prize cash cow just yet.

I’ve only been writing since February this year, yet it seems as if I’m achieved far, far more in a very short space of time writing than I have in the previous 46 years of my life.

So far I’ve written quite a few poems and published some of them on here. I wasn’t anyone to notice my work, the world being the complex place it is today and there being so many blogs out there. Why would anyone notice mine? But strangely people have and that has given me confidence to carry on writing and to see where it leads.

Speaking about my blog that is a journey in itself! Who would have thought that creating and maintaining a blog could be so difficult! So many themes to choose from, tags to decide on, RSS feeds to create and much, much more. I’ve no idea if I’m doing it right but please tell me if I’m not or if I could do better.

Writing is a journey itself too. So much to learn about the famous poets of the past and the present, and about writing itself. Stanza’s (used to be the name of a car!), sonnets, Byron, Shelley and my favourites the Brontes. Then there is the local poet scene which I am beginning to immerse myself in. I live in Queensbury, Bradford and my local hot bed of poetry is Calderdale and the Calder Valley. So much talent and I quite often feel that I could never measure up to the amazing poems they come up with. But they all offer advice and encouragement which is what it’s all about. Keeping people writing and reading and making the most of their creativity.

On a final note I’ve been asked to write articles for my local Asperger’s Group. It’s a bi-monthly newsletter and I feel very privileged to be asked to write for it.

I feel I’ve come so far in such a short space of time and quite often I have to take a step back and reflect on what has happened. Being autistic life can get very overwhelming very quickly at times so being able to stand back and reflect is essential for me.

Thank you all for reading my blog. Any advice you have please let me have it!

Andy Smith

Last night was another auspicious moment in my poetry experience. I lost my poetry reading virginity! I was very, very nervous as you can imagine, but the evening was made far more relaxing by being held in a small restaurant called the Kava based in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. I had never been to the Kava before but it is a lovely little vegetarian restaurant with a very pleasant and convivial atmosphere, helped by the intimate surroundings.

I went there with two friends, Nuala Robinson and Gaia Holmes. Both Nuala and myself attend a workshop run by Gaia called ‘Igniting the Spark’. The workshop is held every week although we are taking a break for the summer. The workshop is a very friendly environment and achieves what it sets out to do. It has certainly ignited my spark and I am enjoying writing poetry and having my creative side challenged every week by the various activities Gaia sets us. It is the other writers who go to the workshop who also inspire me to write better poetry and without them I would not have come so far in such a short space of time.

In the Kava was another friend who I knew and this helped to settle my nerves knowing that there were people there who had come to support me and the other poets based purely on our performance on the night and nothing else. Gaia was the guest poet and performed several of her amazing poems to a spell bound audience. All of Gaia’s poetry was very well received and she had well deserved rapturous applause at the end of her readings. The compare Anthony then read a poem and after two other poets had performed some outstanding poetry it was my turn to perform.

I got up and very nervously began to read my first poem ‘She Dreams’. All of a sudden my first night nerves had disappeared and I just concentrated on reading my poetry to the best of what I consider to be my limited ability. My next reading was ‘My Eyes’ which is a very personal poem about how I see not being able to read and understand non-verbal communication because of my Asperger’s Syndrome and how I imagine it is for someone else. The last reading was ‘Emily Bronte’s Pen’ which is my interpretation of what it must have been like to be the pen with which Emily Bronte wrote ‘Wuthering Heights’, Every since discovering the Bronte’s and Haworth last year they have held a special place in my heart and every time I visit Haworth Moor or the Bronte Parsonage I feel a tingle down my spine at the thought of walking in the footsteps of literary geniuses who changed the literary world forever with there outstanding poems and novels which have stood the test of time and always will do. At the end of my reading everybody applauded loudly and vigorously, especially my friend Simon who should be a professional applauder! The relief from finishing my very first poetry reading and losing my virginity was immense. All I wanted to do was find a bed and lie down for a very long time! But being 20 miles from home and with other poets still to read I couldn’t lie down anywhere. 

The rest of the poets were equally impressive and I realised how much I have to learn about poetry and I took inspiration from the other poets and their readings. After the event had finished everybody congratulated me on losing my poetry reading virginity and said I was a natural. To hear this gave me a boost to my confidence and has inspired me to carry on writing and reading poetry. Having Asperger’s and suffered from bullying has severely dented my confidence, but I am slowly getting it back through my new found passion.

I cannot thank Gaia Holmes enough for the lovely words she said to me at the end of the night, nor for the owners of the Kava Café who let us have the venue and all of the other poets and people who made it a magical evening for everybody. I got some ideas for a theme for my poetry and I cannot wait to read some poetry again whether it is one of my poor attempts or poetry by one of the greats.