“Get out. Go on. Shoo. Bloody vermin.”

Charlie stood up and without addressing the shopkeeper with even a conciliatory glance, walked into the wall of water on the street. It felt as if nails were clattering against his skin, not quite hard enough to leave a mark, but certainly hard enough to cause physical discomfort. He knew this walk all too well. The early morning wake up after another night of being pissed on and threatened by some of the worlds best drunks.

As he left the doorway he hung his head, not out of shame, he’d outlived that long ago, but more to protect himself from the sky’s nails hammering into his face. It was November and the last thing Charlie needed was a head cold because, sure enough, that would soon develop into the flu, which would soon develop into pneumonia, which would soon result in death. No matter how desperate Charlie was, he wasn’t ready to die.

The rain had coated everything in darkness and great waterfalls fought to gush down stairways and into overflowing drains. Charlie’s feet splattered as they walked through the pond that would soon become a high street and his eyes scanned for any kind of shelter they could find.

He spotted a shop doorway with a red and white striped tarpaulin roof over the top of it. The white stripes from the tarpaulin cover had faded and, under the influence of the rain, had turned into a pale shade of grey. This colour bled onto the pavement beneath it, distinguishing it from the rest of the street.

Charlie’s eyes blinked shut and stayed that way for a couple of hours. When he stirred he could hear the sound of rain on the high street replaced by the sound of footsteps and high heels. Another day, another dollar.

Just as Charlie stirred he heard the deep “swooshing” sound of a broom flying through the air, followed almost instantly by a throbbing on the side of the head. Blood rushed to the wound before Charlie even had the chance to let out a high pitched yelp. The blood warmed Charlie’s head in a not entirely unpleasant way.

He rose to his feet and slipped on the wet pavement as he scampered down the high street and away from the red-faced shop owner holding a broomstick tight between both hands, the tenseness reflecting fear more than aggression.

He ran out of breath quickly, drawing to a stop on a half rotten bench which was turning green at the sides. Charlie sat down and watched his breath in front of him, blowing clouds out into the world to meet up with everyone else’s clouds. A thin rasher of blood gleamed down the side of his face, sticking out dramatically against Charlie’s rain soaked and wind worn features.    

A dizziness passed over him and he decided to stop watching his breath swirling away into the atmosphere. Instead he closed his eyes and submitted himself to the convulsions that were spreading over his body; his immune system’s attempt to stop him from freezing to death.

While he sat on the bench with his eyes closed, he listened to the world go by. Since he’d started sleeping on the streets the world had passed him by with a scowl or a whispered insult. That’s one of the reasons he slept in doorways; to get in contact with someone, regardless of whether that contact was favourable or not. 

As he listened he heard attention seeking children howling for their parents. He heard passers-by lowering the tone of their voice so that their conversation was inaudible to him. He heard car exhausts and purring bikes and radio shows and horns. He heard his loneliness as his body shivered. Every person that walked, drove or biked past Charlie paid him some kind of attention, enough attention to lower their voices, turn up their radio or stop their bike 10 metres before the traffic lights.

Charlie had become accustomed to his loneliness but today was a day when he longed to interact with people. He wanted to walk among people he didn’t know and not be singled out as an outsider. His desire to interact and his rumbling stomach suggested that today would be a good day for the market. After he opened his eyes he noticed that his dizziness had gone, along with the clouds that had been coming out of his mouth.

He padded his way to the market, slanting his head to one side to show off the chunk missing from the side of it, in a feeble attempt to gain stranger’s sympathy.

When he reached the market he was delighted to see that the aisles were full of people browsing the various stalls. The sounds and the smells of the market conspired to lift his mood. 

“I got tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, carrots, parsnips…” he heard one coarse voice shout, before another interrupted.

“Mobile phone cases, batteries, iPod cases, DVD’s. Get it all here.”

The sound of the market traders made Charlie feel included. As long as you were standing near their stall they were addressing you. It didn’t matter whether you were black, white, homeless, gay, straight or the Prime Minister. The sales pitch never discriminated. Charlie brushed into the crowd, leaning into passers-by and letting his side rub against theirs, revelling in the busy, narrow aisles.

After standing at a vegetable stall for a while Charlie managed to get to the front, where he was greeted by the owner of the stall. The stall-owner was a well-built man with bare forearms that told of a lifetime lifting boxes of vegetables out of trucks and putting together market stalls. On a day where the rain had shaded everything in a pale grey the stall owner still managed to look tanned, almost Mediterranean. He wore a thick gold bracelet that was intentionally loose to highlight his tan lines. Although his dark hair was thinning on top you could tell from his eyebrows and the hair on his forearms that he once had a healthy head of thick black hair. A smile spread across his wrinkled face as he looked up to see Charlie.

“Ello me old mate. Still ‘anging around I see. It’s always good to see ya.”

He patted Charlie on the back and then lifted an apple from the stand, presenting it to Charlie with a warmth in his eye that made him forget that it was November and he would be sleeping on tarmac all Winter.

“There you go buddy. Take care ‘o yourself. I ‘ear we’re gonna ‘ave a bloody cold Winter mate. You wanna wrap yourself up warm.”

Charlie gripped the apple in his mouth and started to suck the juice out of the core, causing his mouth to fill with saliva and the crowd of shoppers to do their best to avoid touching him. The stall-owner just looked on with a smile, which widened slightly when Charlie turned and nodded his head in gratitude.

After sliding through the crowd Charlie left the market and snaked into the nearest alleyway he could find. Hiding between two blue dumpsters he took the apple out of his mouth and began to eat it. Since sleeping on the streets his stomach had shrunk so much that he found it hard to finish the apple. However, he knew he needed the strength for the cold weather ahead so he chewed the flavourless mouthfuls, wishing he hadn’t sucked the juice out when he first got the apple.

After finishing his meal a wave of full-stomached tiredness fell over him and he looked down at his body to make sure he was still there. His head throbbed from his earlier wound and his legs stung from walking around so much. Charlie’s muscles had depleted to such an extent that you could map his rib cage and legs through his increasingly transparent skin. It felt today that he’d had several glass bottles smashed over his legs, whereas some day’s he couldn’t feels his legs at all.

He peered down either side of the alleyway to ensure his relative safety and then slumped back on his hind legs, easing the chill of arctic tarmac. His faded pink tongue looked like a piece of streaky bacon as it licked the rest of his body. Sliding his front legs in front of him, he rested his head and closed his eyes for another day. The only movement in the alleyway was the rising and falling of Charlie’s rib cage, which stretched his ruffled hair to almost breaking point.



In the rhapsody of the pending evening

I wait for physical negotiations with a Georgetown call girl

Who goes by the name of “Tammy Twatette”.

My semi squat monkey shit brown pre-paid hotel room

 in St. Helena South Carolina has a vibrating bed

and as the desk clerk said:


“…a deadly quite TV and clap activated lights”


Was this guy being all Jack Dee by suggesting that

as “Tammy” walked into the room the lights would switch on

automatically? As yanks have no sense of humour

I opted to clap my hands…bingo…lights are on.

I found Tammy’s well used business card on

the roadside of U.S. 91, whilst  thumbing

my way out of Blackfoot, Idaho.

This chick travels or the card belonged to

a satisfied travelling salesman.


With trepidation I called her from a multipurpose

telephone box/urinal…reminded me of

my home town Birmingham

Nobody answered….hang up…try again

She answered and asked

“What kind of women do you like?”

I feebly mumbled

“I don’t like warm beer and cold women”

Who’d of thought I’d be quoting Tom Waits on

the outskirts of Idaho to a hooker in Georgetown?


Tammy asked where I got the card  and for $50

she’d suck and swallow $70 suck, swallow and finger

$100 suck, swallow, finger and fuck and finally $200 suck, swallow, finger,

fuck and a chocolate brownie.

A chocolate brownie I asked?

After an awkward pause she kissed her teeth and

replied “Rim Job”


With the exchange rate I went for a $200 package (£100 aprox)

Being a smart arse I asked if we could go for a Cherry Garcia

instead of a brownie…thinking she’d get the joke…she didn’t

“I’ll bring my own butt plugs” she hoarsely replied….

She said she was pretty much up for anything but only had ONE

Rule – “I fuck in the dark”

Fair enough I thought.

With the lights off I waited! Eventually someone tapped my door

Off went the lights and TV

I let her in and I was somewhat disappointed

Even in the dark I could tell she was a moose

So banging this bird was like playing Russian roulette

with my cock, anyway, after an awkward

introduction and payment, she got to work.


Tammy felt and looked a bit tubby and the blow job was…

unusually smooth…something was missing…teeth!!!

Not one for complaining I rested by balls on her lips and she went to work with her tonsils…


later on in a Johnny Holmes fashion I

pounded her large “loose” arse whilst her

quaffed brown hair bounced

and unusually saggy breasts went their separate ways

The more I worked on her the more excited she got

her breasts rhythmically rocked….they slapped together and to my horror and her  surprise…

the lights come on!!!


My Georgetown girl is a 67 year old retired call girl! Her last customer was well over 12 years ago! Tammy went on to explain that she’d retired due to arthritis and an ongoing yeast infection……..

Triviality appears

whilst impure thoughts

filtering through my

anomalous junk wasted veins

waste away memories of

my non-rebellious youth…

On this Sunday

afternoon I realised

that being a writer

and ex-junkie (Can you ever be an ex-junkie?)

…it’s funny how a person spends

months or years becoming clean

only to feed off those junk

stained memories…in a book or film?

Just how fucked up is society

for a person to seek out

an alternative “high”?

or why has society turned a blind

eye on…society?

Someone sang that love is

a natural high…no it isn’t…

lucidity of thought and breathing

is a natural high…

I was living in the red-light district of Sydney, working, drinking, and always broke. Like many travellers I just couldn’t get out of Kings Cross. I was well and truly stuck. Then I had an idea. Two jobs. That was it, a double income. Then I would be able to get the fuck out of the Cross, get back on the road, and embark on some serious Australian travel. Hey, hey, happy days.

     I worked days, porter in a private hospital, on the ball-breaking early shift, 6 am to 3pm.  But if I could stay out of the boozer, my evenings were free. After a four-day toot I woke up one shaky hung over morning and decided to get busy. I scoured the Help Wanted ads. With zero qualifications and little experience other than a few dead-end menial jobs, my options were limited.  I rapidly flicked through the pages until one advertisement caught my eye.  Telesales, on the job training, OTE $$$!  But most importantly, no experience required!

      Being on a mission, I wasted no time in dialling the number and lined up an interview for the very next day. Cheered by the news, I grabbed a cold one from the fridge, and had a hair of the dog that bit me.

     The job was 5.30 to 9.30 PM, and involved cold calling members of the public via the dog and bone. It was an impossible gig, one thought up by an insane person. We had to convince punters to re-mortgage their house and invest in new properties situated out in the middle of nowhere. Crazy shit. The Telemarketers even had a special name for the con, Negative Gearing. Negative Gearing, I mean think about it?  What the fuck? Although I kind of liked that name, Negative Gearing, it had a certain ring to it, even poetic in a strange way. Negative Gearing.

       It was mostly young immigrants in that boiler room, British immigrants like me.  Aussies were few and far between.  To lighten things up a bit, we’d adopt the name of famous Brits.

‘Good evening, this is Noel Gallagher calling. Are you aware of Negative Gearing?’

Childish I know, but nine times out of ten the Aussie on the other end of the line didn’t realise.’

‘No, Noel, I’m not.’

Ha, bloody ha!

     The Manager on the evening shift was an interesting chap. He was tall and blonde, and looked like a movie star. The job was paying his way through college. He planned to be a big-shot lawyer, and I had no doubts that he would make it, he looked right for the part. Despite this, he also had a great interest in literature.

     To pass the time some of us would chat about favourite writers, books etc. The guy next to me was an aspiring author, heavily into Kafka. I remarked that Kafka’s greatest achievement was the invention of the Hard Hat. Saved a lotta lives, I said. The wannabe didn’t know what I was talking about. Yet, he was big into Kafka?

    Anyway the weeks passed and I got bored and tired. Fifteen hour days can do that to a fella. Even adopting famous British names began to pale.  What most galled though, was that despite two jobs, I still didn’t have any money.  I couldn’t understand it. I was earning more, but somehow spending more.  And then there was the author. This dude was irritating. He kept moaning about the job, the calls, his shit turd life. What a fucking whinger! And because he was sat right next to me, I couldn’t get away from it.

     Then the day came. The pressure was on. We had to book more appointments. If we didn’t hit the targets the job was over. We stepped to it. The future big-shot lawyer paced the room, urging us to greater efforts, at times even imploring us. We can do it, he kept saying. We can do it! And maybe we could. Meanwhile the author was still grumbling, I wasn’t listening, I was too busy dialling numbers. The dude kept the grumbling shit up and then called the manager over,

‘How,’ he said.

‘Yes,’ said the future lawyer.

‘How can you enjoy Kafka, and then do this for a living?’

The lawyer didn’t even blink, ‘Fuck Kafka,’ he said low and hard.

And in that moment I wished I said exactly the same thing.



May 16, 2008

No writer was involved in the making of this story.  Think of it as just words and imagination coming together.  Think of this as writing taking a stand against writers and their egos.  Who gives a shit who wrote it; it shouldn’t matter.  This is Tim’s story, not the writer’s.  Just this once, let the story, whether you rate it or not, speak for itself.  Let it be just about the writing.  Long live writing.


I’m now a small white space like a square of light or a blank sheet.  On my skin I can feel the weight of the whiteness.  It’s cool and smooth and soothing like a balm.  I’m waiting in here to be the me that doesn’t know what all the fuss was about.  Not the me that is distorted like I’m seeing myself through double-glazing; me and a shadow me just to one side.  The shadow me is always ten years older, uglier, more out of shape; a shadow made of the smoke from a part of me that’s on fire.


I draw my knees up inside the sleeping bag and wedge the torch between them.  The light bounces off the lid and onto my head, warming my bald patch like a wool cap.  In the mirror I’m holding, the wall behind me, its surface like packed ice, crisp white and crusty.  I press the glass to my chest, not daring to look at myself, not yet; it’s too soon.  Instead I stare at the torchlight till my eyes grow heavy, till I’m not sure if I’m asleep or awake or neither of these.  I want to sleep, crave it but the Seroxat won’t let me.  It teases me with the idea of sleep, my lashes batting at it but the drug pulls it away before I can take hold of it.  Gone, like it was never there, like sleep is a thing that doesn’t exist.  I’m afraid I will never sleep again but then I’m afraid of most things these days.  I’m afraid because in my mind everything really does happen; I really have lost my job, my wife really is divorcing me, I really am suffocating to death in here.  I live in a world where loss is an inevitability, where inanimate objects move of their own free will.  I reach up, fumbling for the gap between the lid and the rim and the piece of wood holding them apart.


This morning waiting for my train at Hemel station I saw a youth wearing a t-shirt.  It said ‘If you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much space’ and suddenly it was like I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t catch my breath.  I had to come home.  That’s why I’m in here, in this place that feels safe; this place that feels like it’s filled with forever.  I stretch my legs out and press my feet against the end wall, my elbows against the sides and infinity, it pushes back.  In here, tomorrow feels possible, I feel possible.  I rub my eye and feel the suggestion of sleep loosen beneath my finger, a tiny nugget of something prized.  Its sand-coloured solidity is reassuring somehow.  I reach for the plastic container in my shirt pocket and drop it in with all the others.  I have it in mind to make an egg timer with them, which made my wife laugh.  It’s been a long time since I heard Laura laugh; she used to laugh all the time before we married, before the children. 


I rest my head against the back wall and close my eyes.  I’m coming back to myself, I can feel it, smell it – hair: greasy, body: sweating.  The sense of being inside myself is returning.  If a hair moves on my body I will know it.  Yes, I’m remembering how to be me again, bringing myself back into line.


“Tim?  Tim, are you in there?”


Tim.  Yes, I am Tim.  That feels like a name that belongs to me.  I look at my watch.  9 o’clock.  I’ve been in here for twelve hours, twelve hours made up of endless minutes.  I unzip the sleeping bag like I’m removing a layer of myself and manoeuvre onto all fours.  My back and shoulders press against the lid.  I move to stand.  The lid lifts, ratcheting open like it’s inside my spine.  Eventually I’m upright, bathed in the light from the torch at my feet.


“There you are,” Laura says.  Her tired face thinks about smiling.  She holds out her hand to me.  I swallow, seeing the bitten fingernails, the redness beneath her wedding ring.  It’s cold in the garage, dark but for the torch and the light coming from the back door behind her.  The children are standing in the doorway dressed in their pyjamas.  Will is sucking his sleeve, half-hiding behind his sister.  Amy is clutching her stuffed monkey, one bare foot resting on top of the other. 


“Come on, let’s get you inside,” says Laura, taking hold of my arm.  Through my shirt and fleece I can feel the detail of her fingerprints on my skin; I smile to myself.  Back.  With my other hand gripping the rim, I clamber out of the old chest freezer and follow my wife into the warmth of the house.


* *The End* *

Very savage manners

May 12, 2008


Two new stories! Enjoy!




It was like Tourette’s in reverse:  “Baby, you’re everything.  Gorgeous and smart, sexy…I bet you even cook.  I love you.”  It was horrifying.

“What am I gunna do with that?” I said, my face pinched with disgust.  “Just grab your shit and go.  I thought we had an agreement.  I should have known you couldn’t keep it together.”

He’d always been a liability, a clinger.  There’s one in every bunch.  Years ago Lucy and I’d been booked for this bachelor party, Park Avenue.  He’d been there, the clinger.  A bunch of fat ass perv. bankers with big guts and fat wallets.   I knew Park Avenue from the inside out but men, except for my dad, were new to me. And Chapin was an all-girl’s school, so that didn’t help.  But the street sense I was missing Lucy had in spades.  One look in her eyes sitting in a booth at a downtown club and I knew all those years of bullshit French, Violin, Soccer and Riding my parents had pushed me into were worthless.  She was thrilling but as I found out later, cheap girls always make you break your own rules and fuck-up your life…but anyway, back to the story (although maybe that is the story?).

Bachelor party, Fatty Clinger.  He’d followed us around all night.  He wasn’t our main concern, and girls don’t work parties to please random guests, but $50 here and there a few times an hour kept him a little closer than the rest.  By the end of the night, Fatty swore he was in love.  He begged us to let his driver take us home.  I wanted to go it alone but knew we’d be saving ourselves time and money by going with Creepy Crawly.  It was a risk I wasn’t happy taking.  We excused ourselves to the ladies room.   Bigger than our apartment, we spread our bags out and tried to come to a decision. We both were drunk and not that quick to start with; two drugged birds in a mirrored cage, fisticuffs.

“He’ll know where we live!” I said emphatically, like the world depended on it.  “And he’s gross.  Did you see the way he ate that cheese?  Licking his FAT FUCKING FINGERS and touching everything! Touching YOU!  Where do these people come from? And he thinks $50 bucks…”

Lucy cut me off.  “What the fuck’s wrong with you?  You just don’t want me to get a regular john out of it.  He likes me and he’s loaded. Don’t you get it, Stupid?” at this she pulled a wad of money out of her red bra and held it in front of my face like a Baptist preacher, pushing the Bible.  “Put your head on!” she slurred, her Lower East Side Latino coming through loud and clear.  “Jesus Christ” she went on “Why do I take you?”

“Because I’m smart,” I said.

“No, Stupid.  Because you’re pretty.” She leaned in and grabbed my crotch hard, nearly ripping my panties and shoving her fingers inside me.  Then she pulled me close and kissed me.  We made out for a while, like we were back at our place already, then remembered Fatty John.

“Let’s get outta here.  I’m so tired,” I said, and I was.  I really, really was. Working since the night before, there hadn’t even been a place to shower between gigs.  And now this bullshit hooker party…

I grabbed her by the hand and out we went.  He was waiting just outside the bathroom door.  He looked even fatter and more disgusting.  Sure, sure, he was the same but in that kind of jarring scene, everyone always looks worse.  That was one of the hazards of the ‘bathroom break’ in the business.  Coming out always meant something worse than going in.  A girl could never get used to it, or at least I couldn’t. The men were always nastier and more demanding, the girls always more insipid and pathetic, and a rabid-kinda-mean working its way in equal parts over both.

Finally out in the hall after saying our goodbyes to the belligerent men, Creepy told Lucy to get in the elevator.  He promised her we’d meet her down in the lobby in a minute.  I shook my head “No” but she smiled and did as he said.  Stuck in a nightmare, I couldn’t run, couldn’t speak, and suddenly wished I hadn’t popped those Valium and had all those drinks.  My heart was beating out of my chest and my neck was starting to sweat.  When he was sure the elevator had gone and we were alone, he got up close.  His breath reeked of cigars and Lucy’s cunt.  “Baby, you’re everything.  Gorgeous and smart, sexy…I bet you even cook.  I love you,” he said.

I never did wake up.  That’s Mrs. Fatty to you…


Suzy Devere is a prostitute, a drug addict, a Dr.’s wife, a mother, an intellectual, an academic, an athlete, a painter, a drawer, a photographer, a performance artist, and writer.  She’s lived all over the world, but right now lives next door to you.


Sucking on the sons of some unknown cult


Of some unknown cult drinking amoebas sucking on di sons last generation of pig swilling gin

I and I’re responsible for di classics such as “I’m having my sister’s baby! & I’m a pikny prostitute”, and di one that got a mention on christian radio “I’m attracted ta paedophiles”.
I’m not boasie of dis ya but it generates us a likkle income and di occasional prize. all of our letters get a bad response probably read by people I and I pass in di street. di freakiest replies are from di happy clapping born again christians and scientologists.
every now and again I and I reply ta our own letters and win likkle prizes like a digital camera or $50 ta spend at “di gap”. di ongle downside ta dis ya is that thousands of men and probably a handful of sisters read our fiction but I and I’d never get di recognition I and I deserve or a book deal.
that’s wa mek at tonight’s session I’m gonna suggest that I and I call it quits and possibly try sinting crucial like our own novels or short fiction.
as I light my second cigarette dan strolls in clutching her well read copy of “choke”, she’s an alright sister, di life tall student living off grants and di pittance she makes at kfc. whatever di weather she’s always wearing di heavy black crombie coat and as always she’s wearing her now trade mark tight black jeans and mettalica t-shirt. she flops down opposite & takes one of my b&h and mumbles.
“hey patrick, how’s it going?”
“yeah things are kind of interesting at di moment. how’s work going?”
“shit, that’s how it’s going, although I get all di chicken I want for free.”
“still working on your novel? what’s it called again?”
“it’s called di question is…I actually want ta talk ta I and I about di group, I want ta work on my own shit, I and I know what I mean?”
“yeah I’m glad I and I mentioned that..”
as I started talking a large clap of thunder boomed out above di coffee shop and di rain started lasing down, too which dan shouts “sister that’s fucking freaky!!”
di door swings open and sean stomps in.
“hey pat, hail dan. so what’s going on with dis ya weather?”
dan replies “yeah pretty screwed up”
sean pulls up a chair and takes one of my cigarettes and picks up dan’s “choke”
“wa mek are I and I re-reading dis ya shite?”
snatching it back dan snarls “I like it! that’s di fuck wa mek! I’m not one of those losers that just read fight club”
sean pouts her lips and replies “try reading anything by augustan burroughs or brett easton ellis”
“oh really? I’ll also join di new york times book club like all di other pretentious wankers that read ellis and burroughs.”
at dis ya point I interrupt.
“guys come on calm down; I’ve got an announcement ta make”
I and I both look at I at first not saying anything until sean replies.
“are I and I gay?”