The Meeting

Hello,

This story was meant to be my entry into a recently closed competition. A combination of fear and lack of planning found me missing the deadline. Nevermind.

So, here is the latest draft. It concerns a man who is going to meet his new girlfriend’s parents for the first time. And when I say new, she is almost brand new, and he is not sure if he should go through with it or wait a bit longer.

Is she looking at me? Darren thought as he waited at the bar. His hands began to shake as he straightened his shirt and watched her approach.

“You dancing?” she said.

He shook his head.

“Fair enough. Would you like a drink?” She said with a smile. They talked for a while and bought each other drinks before exchanging numbers.

“What’s your name?” Darren said.

“Lucy.” She kissed him on the cheek and his stomach jumped as he watched her leave the bar.

“That’s new.” He said.

*

Over the next six days, they met three times and texted nonstop. Every morning he woke up more alert than the last as he eagerly checked his phone.

Exactly a week later they met again on Saturday for drinks. He suggested the same bar and the quickness of her accepting text confused and excited him. After an hour he was really enjoying the night, he went to the bar and when he came back two women were sat opposite Lucy.

“This is Keeley and Lindsey.” Lucy introduced. Darren smiled and greeted them warmly. Shortly after, the two friends went to the bar.

“Don’t be angry. They’re my sisters. If you like me, you have to like them.” Lucy said. Darren noted the subtle sharp tone in her voice.

“Okay.” He said. They kissed and resumed their night out.

*

“Every time I asked them something, they dodged the question. It was weird.” Darren said as he sat down. His mate went to the bar and brought over the drinks.

“You’re over thinking it, mate. You’ve done this so many times before.”

“But Ed, they barely spoke and only did so when Lucy was there. Without her, they were pretty much just glued to their phones.”

“Just relax mate. She’s nice, right?”

“Yeah, she’s really pretty and has a great smile. I get along with her really well.”

“Your eyes just lit up.” Ed said and patted him on the shoulder. Darren looked across the pub at a couple kissing and sharing a private moment. They looked about his age and the blonde woman reminded him of Lucy and the man’s short brown hair acted like a mirror for him. He smiled and drank his beer.

*

“Will you meet my parents on Friday?” Lucy said as they held hands and walked through the park the following Monday evening. Darren looked up a tree and around the park a few times before answering.

“Okay. But, isn’t it a bit…soon?” He said. Her grip tightened on his hand.

“You can’t put a time on true love.” She replied. His stomach jumped again as she kissed him.

*

“True love?” Ed Said as they rested after their Thursday evening run.

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that in real life.” Darren said. They laughed as Darren unmuted his phone and raised his eyebrows as he registered the number of texts and missed calls.

“Is that what true love looks like?” Ed said.

“Maybe.” Darren replied. He smiled as he read the messages of encouragement about his run and their upcoming meeting with her parents.

Darren spent all of Friday thinking about the meeting. That dinner time much like the others during the week he visited different shops looking for a new outfit but never bought anything. He finished work and registered that it was Friday evening. We meet tonight then. His palms became sweaty as did the back of his neck as he looked through his wardrobe. He sat on the edge of his bed and stared back and forth between his wardrobe and his phone. He flinched as a text came through.

“My parents just wanted to confirm that you were still coming tonight and are REALLY looking forward to it. What takeaway you would like? I vote for pizza. Can’t Wait! xxx”

Then, Darren’s stomach jumped.

“Sorry Lucy, I don’t think I can make it tonight. You know that food my boss brought in today as a thank you for all our hard work? It’s been doing backflips in my gut and I’ve been to the toilet more times than I would like. Could it be moved to next week? Sorry again.” He paused before hitting send. He exhaled and instantly relaxed. Later, as he got in bed, he kept checking his phone.

*

Darren awoke with his phone still in his hand. He turned it off and lay in bed until midday. She’s angry with me. He got up and then settled into his settee and turned on the TV. After a few hours of watching nothing in particular, he remembered to switch his WiFi on. As soon as he did, a few messages came through from Ed and they all mentioned Lucy and the news. He checked his news app and immediately sat up straight.

“Are you joking?!” Darren said loudly. He slowly scrolled through the article about a huge police arrest made in the early hours of the morning. “That’s Lucy’s house!” His phone rang and Ed’s face came up on the screen.

“Darren! Are you alright, mate? I’ve been trying to get hold of you all morning.”

“Yes, mate. I didn’t go to meet her parents. Got cold feet. Faked food poisoning. I’ve just read an article about it. The police received a tip-off from one of the guests at her parents’ house that a man and woman were going to be killed as part of some ritual. Apparently, the ‘sacrifice’ of the new girlfriend and boyfriend of the leaders of the ‘The Greater Good’ group was to appease their god. Lucy was a leader!” Darren could hear his heart thump faster in his ears as he spoke.

“Will you be okay?” Ed said.

“I’ll be fine. I just need…a minute.” Darren said and ended the call. He sat back and exhaled. “That was a close call.”

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Out to dinner.

The restaurant around them hummed with conversation. The dark reds and blacks on the walls and the table cloths gave the restaurant a brooding feel. So much so that anyone who made a slight nose or spoke at a higher volume drew glances from their fellow patrons. Richard finished his meal and calmly placed the knife and fork on either side of the plate. He fought the overwhelming urge to lean back and grab his belly.

“Rude.” Said Rachael to his left. Her curly hair was almost in her food as she looked from his plate to his face a few times before exhaling loudly.

“What exactly is rude about me?” He asked. Rachael looked up quickly and her eyes widened.

“Well, …it’s not general restaurant etiquette to finish before everyone else.”

“That isn’t a rule of dining out. Or dining in. Or dining anywhere! And if it is, it’s ridiculous.” He replied. Rachael looked opposite to the woman sat to his right and back to her plate. The woman kept eating but paused before putting her fork down.

“Apologise.” Martha said. Richard exhaled and closed his eyes as his shoulders slumped slightly. He surveyed her ginger head as she continued to eat.

“My dear Martha. The apple of my eye. Do you remember that long conversation we had some six months ago? I want the exact opposite.”

Martha’s fork clangs down onto her plate and the sound lifts some heads from those close by. Her mouth drops slightly open.

“Can I ask you something, Donna?” He says to the girl opposite. Her short, silver hair shoots up from her plate. She nods.

“Throughout your long and I can only assume agonising relationship, has Rachael ever said that anybody was being rude for finishing their food before the others?”

Donna contemplates this and ignores Rachael’s glare.

“Yes. Plenty of times.” She replies in a small voice.

“Do you agree with her when she has done this?” Martha nudged him with her foot under the table. He moved his seat back slightly and crossed his legs so she could not repeat the action.

“No.” She replies instantly. “There is nothing in any etiquette manual or article that I have come across that says it is wrong to finish early.” A small smile crosses her lips. “And that is one of the many things that has annoyed me about being her girlfriend.”

Donna looks at Rachael and she looks down at her plate to avoid her eyes.

Richard takes out some money from his wallet and counts it a few times before placing three notes in the middle of the table. Donna begins to do the same but underneath the table. He leans back and groans with satisfaction while stretching his long arms towards the floor. He turns to look at Martha who crosses her arms. He blinks slowly taking a deep breath.

“I hope you find someone exactly like you and someone that possesses a forehead befitting of your thumb. And Donna, good luck and all the best in everything that you do.” He said glancing at Rachael. Donna smiles broadly and slips the money she has counted into the shoulder of her dress and finishes her meal.

Rachael slumps into her seat. He stands up and grabs his glass and downs what remains of its contents before leaving the table. He stops, turns, and retrieves the money he just counted and puts it into the inside pocket of his suit.

“You’re not going to pay for your part of the bill?” Martha asks looking up at him. Richard feels his hands shaking in his pocket.

“For two years, I have paid for every drink we have had whenever we have gone on a night or day out. With the only two exceptions being both my birthdays, which I had to convince you to do. And you stormed out of both of those parties. Consider this paying your debt.”

“How…dare you? You…enjoyed doing that for…me. Didn’t you?” Martha said. Richard looks into her eyes and the moment seems to last forever.

“…really?” Richard said. Martha looked for help where there was none before slumping back into her seat and wiping a tear from her eye.

Richard places one hand on her shoulder. She squeezed it before he leaves the table and the restaurant.

“Goodbye.” Martha whispers as Richard kisses her on the top of her head.

“Hold on.” Said Donna. She stands and grabs her bag to leave.

“Donna? Where are you going?” Rachel said as if to an insubordinate child.

“Away. From you. Finally.” Donna said rolling her eyes. Rachael looked back at the table and then to Martha.

“It’s still fairly early, fancy getting responsibly drunk?” asked Richard.

“Definitely.” Said Donna.

 

 

 

 

 

A sample of my own writing entitled…Untitled Project.

Hello,

It has been almost ages since I last posted and I have no excuse for it. Work? Life? Whatever. I sit here now annoyed I haven’t posted sooner so here it is. The following is the first page and a bit of the last story I finished. It concerns a charity shop owner taking revenge on those who attacked him and tried to destroy his shop and his livelihood. It is the first draft so apologies for any errors.

This is as yet untitled. My first title idea is ‘Charity Shop Lad’ but this will almost certainly change.

The unfortunately familiar sound of an item smashing against his wooden floor took Joe’s attention away from his and the shop’s finances and other important shop related things all of which he would rather do quickly so he can go to bed. Saturdays are always busy, he thought with a smile.

“Don’t worry about that, mate. It wasn’t worth much anyway.” Joe said.

“I wasn’t going to.” Mumbled the blue hooded man at the door. His friends giggled. Joe turned away and back to his books.

“A? How much for this?” Barked the hooded man. Joe walked around from behind his counter and over to him. From a distance, they looked menacing and almost fear-inducing. Up close, however, they were disappointing.

“The necklace?” Asked Joe. The hooded man grumbled. Joe noticed that his friends admired the necklace very clearly. “I can’t remember.” He lied. “Where’s the tag?”

“There.” Said the hooded man. Why so loud for a necklace?

“Ah. I see it. Fifty pounds. Hmm…seems a bit low. Wait here. I will check my book.”

“Low? The price is the price, mate. No changes.”

“I can change the price as I see fit, Sir. Let me just…”

“No, you don’t, mate.” Said the hooded man.

As Joe turned with the necklace in his hand to walk to back to his counter and his pricing book, the hooded man grabbed his arm. Joe put the necklace in a nearby vase before looking down at the hand gripping his arm.

“Please, Sir. I don’t want any trouble.” Said Joe. The hooded man’s friends had stepped over and now blocked the door.

“Well, you’ve got it, pal.” Said the hood. The man swung with his free right hand but as he did so, Joe kicked him in the shin and twisted the right hand and the arm round sharply. The hooded man screamed as his face hit the floor.

“Now, gentleman. Like I said, I do not want any trouble.” Joe said. He slowly twisted the man’s arm until he heard a small crack. “If I go any further, it may cause him some damage. I don’t want that to happen.”

The friends looked at each other and back at Joe quickly and with sweat forming rapidly on their foreheads. One friend lunged with a poor attempt at a punch which Joe grabbed with his left arm. He twisted the friend’s arm until it matched the hooded man. Joe, with two men’s faces, pushed against the floor and an arm within each hand, looked up at the remaining friend.

“Now, they will hurt for a few days but if they take it easy they should be fine. Maybe they will be okay for work on Monday. What jobs do they do? Do you all work together? Is that where you know each other from?” Joe asked. The remaining friend stared wide-eyed and unable to answer. Joe stood up and dropped the arms he was holding. The remaining friend jumped and ran out of the shop.

“Look, I’m sorry about that. But I did say I didn’t want any trouble.” The men walked out holding their damaged arms. “Just take it easy tomorrow and you should be fine for work.” The men ran out and Joe closed and locked the door. He watched as they were swallowed by the almost pitch-black night. He pulled down the blind over the shop door window and exhaled, putting his hands on his knees. He composed himself and looked around his shop. He savoured the calm and quiet before settling on a vase. He reached inside and held up the necklace.

“How much are you worth then?”

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you would like to, please leave your thoughts and such in the comments section. Thank you.

Bye Bye for now!

Finally… My first story of the year is finished! What next?

Hello,

I’ll start with a question; Do you prefer to leave a piece of work you have finished and move onto the next thing or dive right into editing said piece of work?

finish-writing-project-630x472

So, for the last 6 months or so I have been working on my latest story. It centres around Joe, a calm mid-thirties man who owns an antique shop in Stockport, Manchester, UK. This shop is his life. His grandparents, who were more like his actual parents than his real ones ever were, left it solely to him when they passed away. He has worked to make it the go to place for antiques in Stockport and is enjoying his life.

However, when he purchases a necklace from a car boot sale in London, it brings trouble. Notably, three men who come to steal it. They assume they can intimidate him easily, given his calm and nice exterior, but what they do not know is that Joe has taken numerous Karate, Boxing, MMA and self-defence classes over the last ten years. Joe defends himself against the men easily and decides to take the next day off, take the necklace with him, and try to find out more. His friend Kelly manages to find out that the necklace is worth way more than what he purchased it for. A LOT MORE. When he comes back to work the following day, his shop has been smashed to pieces. Nothing has been stolen but it is a mess. Completely wrecked on the inside. Joe decides in that moment to track down who did this and bring them to justice. But in a nice way.

Well, at least that’s how the first draft has panned out. Joe and his friend Kelly track down who is responsible and go toe to toe with him. Him, known as D.A.D, is the biggest gangster in Stockport who is a more of an urban myth. Not many people have seen him and those who have are either dead or working for him. Currently, I have been able to test Joe and test all the other characters along the way. Though, as it seems to be with a lot of my stories, the villain has taken on a better and more rounded shape than my hero, but I will sort this out in the edits.

But, What next? Jump onto my next project? Edit this one? Run away? Eat a Pizza? The list is endless. I have settled on leaving the story for a while. In that while, I will finally finish my online Fraud Diploma course (he says after saying the same thing a few times before) And after that I want to focus on entering writing competitions and trying to get published.

That was way too easy to write. If only that road was that easy. I know it will be hard but it is something I have been looking forward to doing for years. I now feel ready. Well, as ready as I ever will be, to put my work out there for more eyes to see. Wish me luck.

My Writing: Everyone is Welcome! A 996-word story of mine.

So, I entered a short story competition in August 2017. Safe to say I didn’t win. I’ve not heard anything. Ouch for me.

Anyway, here is one of my short stories. It is about an aging employee and his annoying and constantly angry assistant who are just trying to make sure they do their jobs correctly for their very strict employer. Let me know what you think either good or bad but please be constructive. I would be more than happy to return the favor.

“The day begins like all those that have come before it with my big, bearded and always grumpy assistant standing guard to help me welcome the new arrivals. “Good day to you, Sir.” I always say to him. Silence is his eternal reply. Such a grump.

No hassle from the first customer but judging by the look on her face, I can only assume she is not a morning person. I am and why would you not be? The hot and humid weather might have something to do with it. Some act like the weather is nothing to them but I know they lie to themselves. That is the worst thing they could do.

The heat is searing and the sun is easily cutting through the clouds. If only I could reach up so high to calm the heat down and help the new customers. I wonder what it would be like if I could reach so high? More arrive now and are moving in a smooth stream with little to no grump on their faces. It could be a busy day but as long as I remember my routine, they will all get in with no problem. I hope my aches and pains do not come back. That would be a disaster.

Great. One stupid rubbernecker holding everything up. The worst thing that they could do. To be fair, most concentrate on just getting in. The people walking through seem to be shivering slightly. Is there a breeze? I cannot tell. In fact, I can feel something but it can barely be described as a breeze. Do they shiver for a different reason?

What are some of these people wearing? More money spent on their clothes and hair than their bodies and minds. Individuals wearing all kinds of so-called fashionable clothing with not an ounce of class or pride amongst them. Well, except that guy. Tragic really. They look so bad they do not even look good walking past the overflowing refuse bins. How can you look worse than a bin? It is a shame they did not think things through. Or maybe they did. That could be why they are here.

Mid-day approaches and the customers are increasing but they still come in a steady stream so no worries. My assistant barks at the unruly ones. He has such authority. More than me. I think I will ensure the gates are fully open for a while. Until it dies down later on.

Wait. Disaster. I can feel them. The aches and pains. I thought I was getting better. He will be here soon to help me so no worries. He does not spare any expense with me. He knows what to do. Just a few drops of medicine is all it takes…hold on. Where is he? No. He is busy! How could this happen? Now, of all times! I am starting to seize up. No, not now.

“What are you doing? The punters are brushing against the steel? You know, the tall spears that make up the structure with gargoyles atop pillars that hold them together at either side lose their desired effect when it jams like a common garden gate.”

“I need him to come and provide me with my medicine. There are so many new arrivals.” The steel is beginning to bend under the pressure as the punters push against the gate. Look at this one. His red face reminds me of so many others that have come before. Took it too far. Big shame. Moderation is key. Enjoy life but remember to care for body and mind.

“There are always so many. Calm down. I’ll get him. Why can’t you just do your job?!” He shouts like I can help it. Please stop shouting. It is slowly getting better, I assure you. Stop shouting, Sir. Please!

*

What did he just do? Has he managed to get him to come back? It is such an honor to see him. How long has it been since I looked upon the Lord?

There. He. Is. So domineering. So in control. So much strength. He is coming closer. Look at the punters. Cowering. Treat him with respect and he will be your guide. He is your leader now.

“He is unable to perform his duties again, my Lord. Replacement is needed.” Wrong words. And from a Gatekeeper no less. You are lucky to have a role in this at all. You can be mean to me but not in front of the almighty. “Please, I did not mean…”

That sickening thud. Never ceases to make me flinch. Look at him, flying across the land and smashing through the piles of waste. I hope he is in good health and not hurt too much.

For someone so powerful, what great care he takes of me. So delicate. “Thank you, my lord.”

My Gatekeeper is back. I hope he is well enough to continue. He flew faster than I have ever seen him fly to get back. I forget his power and how wide his wings can span. He looks shaken but I feel he will be alright. He is a tough customer and always was. I knew that when he first walked through the gates.

“All I meant was that they are old gates, your eminence. The fear that the gates of hell create for those who are to spend eternity behind them, thus avoiding the white fluffy Lord above and seeing you; the red, brilliant, and all-powerful God below, is diminished when you have to keep fixing its aches and pains.”

“Your words are heeded. And immediately disregarded. The gates will stay and your lack of respect is wasting my time and making the hounds of hell hungry. The refuse bins are empty. The rotting limbs within them are coming with me. Now, let the accursed through. I am in need of torture and…amusement.”

I am fixed and back to work I go!”

Thank you for reading and have a nice week.

One quick one and one…not so quick one.

Hello,

It has been a while. Again. Always seems to be the way recently. I think to myself ‘I’ll post more often’ and then stuff happens. This time it was moving house. I thought I’d have time but it has been all consuming, until recently, with setting accounts up for bills, unpacking boxes, building things, buying things to build, buying things to dig up other things, the list goes on. I’m almost completely settled now so I can get back to posting on my blog. This wonderful thing. My little soupcon of the internet.

So, since last time I have written another 1,000-word story. This one is opposed to the last one (see https://johnrsermon.com/2017/07/19/the-editing-beast-has-been-defeatedfor-now/) the last was a story based in a very dark place and this one is based in a very light place. The lightest place as it happens if it exists. I would say where it is but it would ruin the twist to the very dark story, which I will post on this blog in future.

I wanted to write an opposite story and one that occurs at the same time as the other. I have always enjoyed watching and writing chapters that have events happening at the same time but shown from different viewpoints. Anyway, I decided to write it quickly while the idea was fresh in my head.

Then I finished. Then I was living elsewhere. Then I moved out.

As I was setting everything up around the house move (bills, more bills, finding the local supermarket, and local pub etc.) And during this, a story woke up and began to run around my head. It’s been months since it had been for a run but I’m glad it managed it. And it is based in the town I’ve just moved too helped as well. The story is my take on the one man vigilante tale. I’ve watched and enjoyed plenty of them (John Wick, I’m looking and smiling at you) so I decided to write one myself. I wondered what one would be like with a person who isn’t an ex-Army, Special Forces, Gangster, Assassin, or any of them. A story about someone who just took up a number of different, readily available self-defence classes because he wanted too and then, suddenly, had to use them.

I got to work and I’ve written two chapters so far. Hopefully, I can keep it up and finish the story soon. It’s slowly building in my mind but I don’t have an ending yet.

Have you ever written anything without an ending?

It’s been a while since I have. Feels…schwifty.

So, I’ll get back to it. Hope you all have a good week.

The West has been won! Well, I finished my first western story so close enough.

Hello,

After a long time, I started the story 23rd March 2015 which makes my head spin, and a few distractions (hangovers, restarting this story, writing another story) I’ve finished my first attempt at a western entitled ‘Outlaw Torn’.

My favourite genre of film has always been the Western. The sheer amount of them on TV growing up meant I was never left wanting for something to watch at the weekend. And whenever I found a Western to watch, my Dad had ALWAYS watched all or some of it. I remember liking the dialogue and how effortlessly cool the hero’s, and some cases the villains, appeared to be or were. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly is my favourite of all time but I can sit down and watch most. Some of my other favourites include the original and remake of True Grit, The Sons of Katie Elder, The Alamo (Both), Open Range, Rio Bravo. Tombstone. I could go on. And I intend to. Seraphim Falls. Unforgiven. The Salvation. Appaloosa. Stagecoach.

These and much more have helped to shape my own story. In my head, a wanderer moves from town to town, searching for work, a bed, and to forget his past. One town comes upon him, over a hill, and his past finally catches up with him.

I have enjoyed writing this story but throughout I had the most difficulty writing the gun fights. I have each fight in my head clear as day but getting the words right to convey this proved a challenge. One that I had fun with but at times it was like trying to swim through cement. How many times can I say Shoot, Bullet, Hammer, Fired, Loaded and Gun before the reader and myself get bored? I did eventually find other words but the process of doing so took AGES. On some occasions, I barely wrote anything due to the frustration it caused me. Typing ‘The End’ on this one was amazing and relief all in one.

I also worried about the characters and ensuring that each was given enough time to show themselves and to evolve or devolve through the story. I do this all the time. But then I remembered…

It is the first draft. You can iron out the creases in the edits.

I told myself this throughout writing the story but ignored my own advice a lot. More so than any other story I’ve written. Maybe it’s because it’s a story in my favourite genre and I want to do it justice the best I can. But, if I did end up publishing it, someone is bound to find fault with it. Even after all the combs in all the world going through it. Maybe I don’t need a haircut. I’ll just pull my hair out rewriting the thing.

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Thank you for reading and have a nice day.