Bootlegged

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The alley was getting darker as the sunset. I lent against the wall and watched the streetlamps flickering on. The rain had stopped a few minutes ago, water dripped off the broken guttering and the overfilling bins. I had no idea how long or how much longer I’d have to wait but it was going to be worth it.

I tried to look casual, perhaps acted like I was looking for a lost kitten or something but it was hard to be so normal in a place like this. I hadn’t seen any police or soldiers or anyone else who looked suspicious. The only other sounds were from the cramped houses either side of me; babies crying, children talking, adults shouting and a lone dog barking.

A rattling of the broken wire fence at the back of the alley and the shuffling of feet drew my attention. It could be him or it could be someone else… I cast about and made clicking noises as if I was looking for a lost pet.

A hacking coughing stopped me and I looked up at the small man standing in the shadows. He was wearing a massive coat that covered him from head to floor, a floppy hat that covered the top of his head and give his face more cover. He might also have been wearing a woollen mask but it was hard to tell.

I walked over to him nervously but trying not to show any fear. There was enough light from the streetlamp to aid us and I tried not to stand in front of it. We both looked and listened, giving enough time for anybody watching us to jump out. Everything seemed normal.

Slowly, the small man opened his coat and there was a soft rustling sound. Light flashed across something shinny. He held his arms wide and coat high to reveal the many pockets sew inside which were stuffed full of bootlegged products.

I licked my lips and stepped even closer. Forgetting for a moment that we had to be careful. Someone could still be watching us, waiting for either the handover or the completion.

‘What you got?’ I whispered.

‘Whatever you want,’ the man hushed back, flashing a smile that showed off his golden teeth.

‘Nonpareils?’

‘Left side, down.’

I looked then pulled out a small grey packet. I felt the weight in my hand and decided that was fine. I put it in the secret pocket in my jeans.

‘Belgian Sea?’

‘Right, top.’

I pulled out a small box and looked quickly inside. I nodded and slipped the box into a pocket inside of my coat.

‘Cow Solid?’

‘Right middle. I got dark, white or milk.’

I selected a small paper wrapped bar of milk and eased it down the side of my left boot.

‘How much?’ I uttered.

He named his price and I handed over a few packets of cigarettes, painkillers and ketchup.

Satisfied we both walked away as it started raining again.

 

(This story was inspired by my fiance wondering what it would be like if chocolate was banned. This scene came into my head and I had to write a short story about it!)    

54 #TwitteringTales

The number kept appearing on his computer screen. He didn’t have a clue what was going on but his anger was slowly being replaced by fear.

There was nothing wrong with the computer. He had built the thing himself, ran regular checks and could solve any problems.

No matter what he was doing, the screen would flicker, turn black then the number 54 would fill the screen before the computer shut down.

It was impossible, no one knew and yet someone clear did. It couldn’t be a coincidence anymore…

His secret was out, he was the city’s serial cat killer.

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2019/10/22/twittering-tales-159-22-october-2019/ with thanks).

The Secret

Free stock photo of bricks, wall, garden, door

My mother had been buried under the gardeners’ compost heap just like my step-great-uncle had always told me. I could see bits of creamy bone and scraps of dark red dress coated with damp soil and roots. Her death wasn’t a secret any longer but now I was about to join her.

(Inspired from; http://sachablack.co.uk/2017/07/05/writespiration-123-52-weeks-in-52-words-week-27/ with thanks)

 

You Can Never Know

black-and-white, cars, city

I sit in my car on the other side of the street and I monitor your house. It’s a busy night were cars driving past, pulling up and leaving. For a few minutes, I think I’ve got the wrong address. Did you move? Or maybe you’ve never lived here? But then the door opens and you step out.

I see you turn to say something into the house then you shut the door and began walking. I know it’s you, even in the orange light from the streetlamps. You look so much like her and yet not. My mind begins thinking about how things could have been as it does so often. I always wanted a daughter and you could have so easily been mine.

I let your mum go though and you with her. It was better that way, better for us all, but who really says that would have been so?

I want to get out of the car and chase after you. I want to grab your hand in mine and say, ‘I’m your father! The man who brought you up wasn’t really him. Your mother had an affair before her wedding night but she still choice him. Her and I knew the truth though and now I want you to know that too.’

And what will you reply? That I’m joking? A liar? I’ve got the wrong person?

Perhaps.

In my head though, you look at me and see the similarities between us. You cry out, ‘father!’ We hug and our lives become more filled because we have each other.

I can’t do it though. As much as I want to, I know it’d ruin your life and the memory of you mum. So, I stay sat in the car.

Post It Note 21 Bedazzled

He bedazzled her with his charm, though secretly he was after her best friend.

The Before

books

When the adults at the gathering started shouting, Doe always sneaked away. She would slip though the broken doors of the long room and find herself wondering the dimly light corridors of the building from The Before. Doe weaved around the remains of bricks, wood and glass shards that littered the grey floor. Her deer skin and fur trimmed boots, which she was always careful not to damage, did little to protect her feet. The adults’ voices followed her, quickly merging into one background sound that assured her she wasn’t alone.

Letting her hand touch the wall, she trailed her fingers along it until she came to a doorway. The corridor walls contained many openings and some interested Doe greatly. Stepping into the first room, she looked around at the destroyed walls and broken windows. From out of them, she could see the collapsed side of another building and patches of dead grass. There was nothing left to try and guess what this room had once been used for.

Doe left and walked a little further down to another opening. Stepping in, she saw pipes sticking out from the walls and brown puddles on the floor. This had once been a water room, she had learned from Ma, were The Before Peoples would clean themselves and look at their images in wall glass. The remains of wooden divides lined the floor opposite her where more pipes and holes stuck out.

The next room was just the same, though the smell of wet rot was stronger in here. Doe crinkled her nose and walked towards the far end. There on the floor was a large chunk of the wall glass. She was surprised to see it still unbroken. Staring down into it, Doe saw her image-self; a dark skinned girl of twelve summers, in a brown bear fur dress with large murky eyes. Her black hair went down her back and was tangled with beads, feathers and scraps of fabric. Across her bare arms and neck were the painted on markings of her tribe. The collection of weird blue and red swirling shapes and images, which she didn’t understand, seemed to blur together in the glass.

Turning away, she went out and carefully walked to the end of the hallway. The leftovers of a double door barred her way, without fear she crawled through and into her favourite room. Doe could no longer hear the adults’ voices, nor any other sound other than the ones her feet and breathing made. She took a moment to look around.

Weak sunlight was coming in from some of the broken board up windows and falling on smashed wood that lay scattered around. Grey stones, dirt and dust coated everything thickly in a hardly disturbed blanket. Completely covering the floor and piled up amongst the wood and stones were the written tales from The Before.

Doe gently walked over them, feeling slight shifts and soft creaks coming from under her feet. She went to the far corner, where she had built herself a den out of wood, old coverings and towers of the tales. Sitting down on a large cushion, she picked up one of the closest bindings of paper and flipped the dusty, torn coloured pages over. She recognized some of the animals inside, but had no idea what the odd shapes that marked the spaces around the images were.

Over time, she had come to grasp some of the tales the images told her. Her mind had also become good at creating the possible tales the pages could contain. Placing the one she had picked up down, she turned around and selected another from a small pile, which she had decided were her favourites so far. Looking at the front image, she saw it was her current most favoured one and settled down to view the drawings.

The tale, as Doe had come to understand it, seemed to be about a large stripped cat whom went to a little girl’s home to play, have cups of drink and eat sweet things. The images always caused her to smile and also showed her what had happened in The Before. For that was Doe’s overall understanding of the written tales, just like it was for The Now spoken tales the elders told.

Coming to the last page, she closed the binding and placed the book back. A loud banging noise caused her to jump and Doe scrambled from her den and towards the far window. Peering out, she saw a few members of the other tribes standing outside and clearly arguing. Pulling a face, she decided to leave in case someone found her here. Walking quickly over to the doors, she recalled her Ma telling her that the items from The Before plagued The Now and were reminders of the failures of The Before Peoples.

Stepping back into the corridor, she ran down to the long room and stopped just short of the doors that figures were pouring out of. Loud voices and crying of children echoed through the building. Desperately, Doe squeezed past the bodies and searched the long room for a familiar face. Her eyes stopped on one of her elders and she hurried over. Standing beside him, she looked around at the quickly emptying room, but couldn’t stop any other face she knew.

‘It’s all for nought,’ the elder mutter and Doe turned to him.

He was dressed similar to her, though the bear fur covering him was longer on the legs and arms. His grey, thin hair covered up his wrinkled face and he seemed in deep thought.

‘What happened?’ she asked.

The elder shook his head, ‘too young,’ he mumbled and patted her hands, ‘not concerning you. Before stuff, land problems, tribal quarrels.’

Doe pulled a face and played with a feather in her hair.

The elder eased himself up and tried to stretch out his bent back, ‘let’s leave,’ he suggested and held out his hand. Doe took it and they shuffled out of the room together.

In the corridor, Doe shot a last look at the room right at the end, then lead the elder to the front doors. Standing on top of the steps, they could see that most of the tribes were grouping together before dispersing. Their own tribe were standing off to one side and Doe started to take the hobbling elder over.

‘Do you know a tale from The Before about a stripy cat and a girl?’ Doe whispered as they walked across.

The elder shook his head, ‘I know one about a wolf and a girl. One of my elders used to tell it to me.’

‘Well, in this tale a cat comes to have drinks and food at this girl’s house,’ Doe said excitedly and happily that she could at last tell this tale to someone.

‘And what happens?’

‘The cat makes a mess of things and the girl finds it funny. At the end everything works out and they are like friends. I found it in one of  The Before’s written tales.’

The elder stopped and looked down at her. Doe gasped and went silently. They were stood close enough to their tribe to be overheard and to prove this, Doe’s eyes darted to the nearest puzzled faces.

‘Where is this Before item?’ the elder grumbled.

‘Not here,’ Doe said quickly and too loudly, ‘it was…in the Heaps. A long time back. It just came into my head.’

‘Think no more about it,’ the elder responded softly, ‘The Before tales are dangerous. They helped to cast The Before Peoples down. If you ever find one again, bring it to me or another elder. We must purge The Now of all The Before objects.’

Doe nodded her head before dropping it. Sadness swelled inside her and her eyes felt wet. A light hand squeezed her shoulder before guiding her away.  I must keep my secret better, Doe thought as she walked, or else all those Before written tales I’m enjoying will be gone. I don’t understand how they can be so dangerous, but if the elder says it, then it must be so. Maybe, one day I could prove them wrong and The Now could become like The Before again. Then we could all have stripy cats to play and have drinks with.    

Call

tell the story...

Dora had just left the office and decided to walk home. It was a nice enough evening, if a little bit cool. She’d had one of those rare good days and was feeling cheerful. Drifting off into her own thoughts, she rounded the corner and walked down the side of her building.  The narrow side street contained only a handful of other people and they were dashing in either direction, which would lead them out into the more popular streets.

Unhurried, Dora walked downwards, ahead she could see the pavement merging into a larger one and people passing by the opening. To Dora they all seemed like young business people rushing to meetings or other places. A taxi zoomed by with a loud horn blast and a voice rose up in an angry shout after it. Typical city life, Dora thought.

A phone started ringing somewhere then stopped, presumably answered. She gave it no thought, like the rest of the phones in the office, it wasn’t her job to answer them. She walked under a half opened window and thought how nice the breeze was on her face.

‘Dora! Dora!’

She turned, expecting someone from the office to be behind her, but no one was there. Confused, she looked harder and saw receptionist Jen hanging out of the window with a telephone.

‘What are you doing, Jen?’ Dora called.

‘There’s a phone call for you.’

‘But no one ever calls me!’

Jen shrugged and held the phone out to her. Dora walked back and reached up for the phone, taking it she put it to her ear. The phone’s cord pressed tight against the brick wall and Jen tried to place the other half of the phone on the window sill without listening into the conversation.

‘Hello? Yes, it is. Who? Oh? How unusual. Are you sure it’s me you want, dear?’ Dora paused, then turned away to whisper into the phone.

Jen closed the window, but continued to stare to Dora. She had no idea what was going on, but the man’s voice on the other end had seemed polite and she was already imagining him in her mind. He was probably tall, dark haired and smartly dressed. Jen sighed and lent on the sill, a dreamy look on her face.

‘I see,’ Dora was saying, ‘well, if that’s how it is. Tomorrow should be fine. Thank you.’

She turned back as the phone went dead in her hand. Glancing at it, she then had to tap it on the window to get Jen’s attention. Smiling, she handed the phone back as Jen swung open the frame.

‘Who was it? What’s happened?’ Jen asked in a rush of words.

‘Nothing really,’ Dora replied.

‘Please?’ Jen begged, clutching the phone tightly.

‘I’ve been called in by the secret service,’ Dora hissed and then walked away, leaving Jen hanging out of the window after her.