Dear Samantha,

I know it has been a long time since my last letter and for that I apologize. I have been in solitary confinement all week and as you well know subsequently had my visiting hours and phone calls revoked. Do not concern yourself over this; it was a trivial matter and a necessary sacrifice to retain my status among the inmates. Needless to say the recipient of which is still recovering from a collapsed lung. Now I know we agreed no more violence and my one regret is that it will have serious repercussions in regards to my parole chances. However you must understand that there was a large bounty on my head and if I hadn’t had taken matters into my own hands I would certainly have been dead within in a week. Not that I need tell you this. I recall one of our previous telephone conversations where you informed me of how in your first week you stabbed an inmate in the leg with a pencil, in order to avoid a group beating from the overseeing gang.

Besides the obvious claustrophobia and lack of light in here, I have to say it has had some benefits. For one thing it has given me time to pen this letter to you, allowing me to adequately describe everything I need to say without time constraints, eager listening guards and distracting inmates. Also it has been a welcome respite from the idiocracy and high levels of testosterone that is my daily hell. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking whilst in isolation because to be honest there isn’t a lot else to do, and time and time again my thoughts keep returning to our first ever job. Do you remember Sam? The diner in the village? It seems like such a long time ago and so much has happened since then. We were so young and invincible on that day. I never told you then but that was the first time I properly felt connected to you. Before the others got involved. We should have never of branched out. That was a mistake and one I take a considerable amount of blame for. We were and still are the perfect duo and I want you to make me a promise, that the next time we are reunited we do things alone and our way. No unnecessary complications and no chance of flaking crewmembers.

The wardens inform me that flared jeans are the new craze. I dread to think what other new fangled fashion faux pars are currently out there in the real world. I long for the clothes of our youth. The suits, the hats, the skirts and the pearl necklaces. It was all so suave and cool. I will always remember the way we were dressed that evening. How could I forget? My jaw nearly dropped open when you walked into that diner, wearing that unforgettable red dress. I still retain that if you hadn’t of glared at my gormless expression I would have bundled up the plan, due to my eyes falling out of my head. Having said that I definitely gave you a run for your money in my flashy suit and fedora. Ah what a night that was. We should have stuck to diners my dear. It was easy money. In and out. No messiness or unnecessary delays. I know the civilian casualty that occurred shook you up a bit but as I have said time and time again, it wasn’t your fault. The guy was trying to be a hero and he had to be stopped. Anyway look at me rambling about the old days like some care home grandpa.

More importantly how are you? Tell me everything that’s happening with you? I know it may not seem awfully exciting to you but believe me your letters are my saving grace. I hope things aren’t too bad where you are and all I can say to comfort you is hold on. I know it seems like a far way off but eventually we will be together my love.

You’re betrothed,

Richard xxxx

© [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales], [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Take A Seat

Jack darts after the passing tram, his large fisherman’s coat flailing wildly behind him. The oval, wooden toggles rattle musically. As the metal cage reaches the first hill, Jack speeds up, desperate to catch it in time before it begins its downward descent. The blustery sea breeze whips against his face, making him feel alive. The apprehension in his gut to make it in time is outweighed by the rush of adrenaline pumping in his body. Jack loves the chase. The strong beats of his racing heart, the heavy crunch of his workman boots. The tram’s nose tips forward and Jack forces himself on, ignoring the screams of protest from his aching thighs. A group of dockers stand huddled on the rear balcony of the tram, beckoning him on with energetic hand gestures. The tram slides down the hill, the dockers and the rear balcony gradually dipping out of sight. Jack grits his teeth and makes one final push, diving from the hill’s top, arms outstretched. He slams up against the back panel of the balcony and holds on for dear life, his heavy boots scraping along the ground beneath him. The dockers stare at him in disbelief for a moment before rushing forwards to assist him. With tender ribs and stinging hands, Jack stumbles inside the tram, receiving several hearty slaps on his back from the dockers.

Charmaine jabs the typewriter keys vigorously, her eyebrows furrowed in a deep frown. A loud foghorn rattles the cheap window frame and she glances outside, as a monstrosity of a ship sails past. Deep inside, their lies a deep desire for the window to explode into a thousand pieces and cover the waiting room floor with shattered glass. To her dismay the window remains intact and so Charmaine returns her attention to the typewriter. Usually, she would have no trouble focusing on her duties but today for some unknown reason, she is extremely distracted and irritable. Even the sound of her fingers tapping nosily on the keys grates on Charmaine’s ears. Losing interest in the paper in front of her, Charmaine glances around and puffs out her cheeks. She is in the process of debating whether or not to sneak off and make herself a coffee, when the doors burst open and a tall, imposing man enters. He has a messy tangle of curly black hair, surrounding an extremely red face. His eyes are wild and intense, casting a scrutinous stare at the taken aback Charmaine.

‘Can I help you?’ Charmaine queries, pushing back her chair and getting to her feet.

The wild man ignores her and storms towards the frosted double doors, which lead into the copywriting room. Charmaine sidles in front of him, barring his access.

‘Move out of my way.’ The wild man roars.

‘If you need to speak to someone, I am more then happy to help you with your inquiry.’ Charmaine informs him with an even smile.

‘How dare you talk to me like that? Do you know who I am?’ The wild man growls, puffing out his chest under his fisherman’s coat.

‘I don’t give a damn who you are. Now take a seat or I will have to ask you to leave.’ Charmaine replies hotly.

The wild man shoots her the daggers. Charmaine remains on the spot, one hand adamantly placed on her hip.

‘Take a seat.’ She commands, her patience growing thin.

The wild man huffs loudly, overwhelming Charmaine with his whiskey-drenched breath. She wrinkles her nose in disgust. The two stare stubbornly at one another, both of them refusing to budge. Eventually, the wild man relents and laughs, shaking his head ever so slightly.

‘Fine, whatever.’

He moves over to one of the chairs and sits down heavily, slapping the armrests in frustration. Satisfied with putting the rude man in his place, Charmaine returns to her desk and pulls her chair up to the typewriter. The wild man taps his foot impatiently, his heavy boot echoing across the hollow, marble floor. Charmaine removes the half finished document before her and replaces it with a fresh new page.

‘First things first, what is your name?’

The wild man leans forward in his chair and raises his eyebrow in alarm.

‘You are joking?’

Charmaine regards him with a blank expression. The wild man sighs and sits back, scratching his beard irritably.

‘Jack London.’

Charmaine types the first two letters and then pauses.

‘Ah. Now I feel silly.’

‘I suppose you thought I was a crazed docker making a complaint?’ Jack remarks in a highly satirical manner.

‘One often gets that impression when a bearded, boot cladded stranger barges through the doors.’

Jack raises his eyebrows for a second time, only instead of outrage they betray curious intrigue.

‘Bit of a firecracker aren’t you?’

Charmaine’s lip curls into the slightest of smiles. Established author or not, she isn’t letting him off the hook that easily.

‘I assume you’re here in regards to your most recent novel?’ Charmaine inquires, changing the subject.

‘No, I came here to apply for a job as a junior copywriter.’ Jack answers sarcastically.

‘I will take that as a yes then.’ Charmaine continues, concealing a half grin.

Jack heaves himself out of the chair and curls his hands into tight fists.

‘Look I did not come here to be insulted and laughed at.’

‘No, you simply came here to stamp your feet like a stubborn toddler.’ Charmaine replies hotly.

Furious, Jack dashes forward and lashes out with his arm, sending the typewriter flying off the desk and crashing onto the marble floor. Charmaine delivers a harsh slap, stinging Jack’s right cheek.

‘Go ahead.’ She yells, as he grabs her roughly by the shoulders.

They stare wild-eyed at one another, both of them flushed and breathing heavily.

‘Forget it.’ Jack grumbles and loosens his hold.

Charmaine watches him storm angrily out of the doors, a stray hair dangling in front of her eye. She takes several deep breaths and shakes out her trembling hands. A little calmer, Charmaine goes to retrieve the felled typewriter. She is in the process of collecting the broken sections of the typewriter when the doors open behind her and heavy footsteps draw closer.

‘I’ll pay for the typewriter.’

Charmaine glances behind her at Jack, looking rather sheepish.

‘You’re damn straight you are.’

Jack crouches down next to her and helps replace the damaged typewriter on the desk. They stand back, glancing awkwardly at one another, a strained silence between them.

‘…so, you wanna get a cup of coffee?’ Jack eventually says in a surprisingly civil tone.

Charmaine stares at him in disbelief, unable to fathom the eccentric author before her.

‘Yeah, sure.’ She shrugs and grabs her coat.

© [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales], [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


The Party

I sit at the foot of my garden, a plastic cup of dubious looking punch clasped in one hand. I can hear faint music and laughter emanating from my house. The rusted green bench I sit on is my hiding place. My solace from the multitude of faces crowding my home. A firework fizzes through the air and explodes, lighting up the bench. In the few seconds of visibility, I spot the peeling paint at its corners before the cloak of night reclaims its hold. The sound of rustling makes me glance up momentarily and I see a shadowy shape drawing closer. Another firework explodes, revealing the mysterious figure. A curvy woman, wearing a checkered shirt and jeans approaches.

‘Mind if I sit?’ she purrs, lighting a cigarette.

I nod silently, brushing at the layer of autumnal leaves covering the bench. She gingerly sits on the edge of the seat, her back straight and chest out. I feel my gaze drawn to her breasts and look away hurriedly, sensing detection. She crosses one leg over the other and takes a drag from her cigarette. We both sit in silence, watching the procession of fireworks streak and scream their way through the sky.

‘That one looks just like an eagle.’ She exclaims in a high-pitched giggle.

I follow her gaze and my lip curves into a slight smile. In the half-light of the fading firework I get my first proper look at the woman. She has curly, brown hair down to her shoulders and full ruby red lips. Her eyes are a deep hazel, surrounded by long eyelashes. She catches sight of me and smiles, flashing a set of neat white teeth. There is something oddly familiar about her but I have no memory of ever meeting her before.

‘Not enjoying the party?’ She queries.

‘It’s not bad. Just not the social type.’

She nods understandably.

‘And you?’ I ask and take a sip from my punch.

‘It’s okay I guess.’ She shrugs.

‘I’m intrigued by the mysterious host of the party.’ She continues in a low whisper and leans in closer.

‘Pray tell?’ I enquire, pretending to play along.

‘Well, apparently he doesn’t like to attend his own parties as he finds the act of socializing a bore.’

‘Is that so?’ I say with raised eyebrows.

She places a hand on my knee and I feel a hot tingle flush my body.

‘Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.’ She winks, the glare of a firework lighting up her features once more.

‘Much obliged.’ I grin and raise my cup to her.

She takes one last toke of her cigarette and stubs it out on the edge of the bench. I watch her intensely, studying ever movement and motion with minute detail. She alights from the bench and turns to face me.

‘Well its been a pleasure talking to you but now I must return to the party. I hope that at some point this mysterious host might make an appearance.’

As she talks she plays with one of her curls and I find myself drawn to the small action. How can such a tiny habit fill me with such desire and want.

‘You never know.’ I reply mysteriously and salute her.

She replies with a wave and turning on her heels, slowly meanders her way back to the house. I watch entranced as her curvy silhouette disappears into the night, her wide hips rocking back and forth hypnotically. I remain there for some time, replaying the conversation in my head. Then I do something that I have never done before. I remove myself from the bench and go to join the party.

I push my way through a large crowd of people, huddled closely together on my veranda like penguins looking for warmth. I slip inside and am instantly hit by a wall of noise. Loud music and laughter assaults me from all directions and taking a deep breath I plunge into the mass of bodies. I slide and weave between the intoxicated party guests, feeling the creeping fingers of claustrophobia beginning to set in. An extremely drunk girl stumbles into my path and grabs hold of my shoulder to keep herself upright, spilling punch down my shirt.

‘Sorry. I’m a teensy bit drunk.’ She hiccups.

I ignore her and peer into the living room, searching desperately for the curvy woman. She is nowhere in sight.

‘There you are Sandy.’

A tall broad shouldered man appears and puts an arm round the woman’s waist.

‘Sorry about that.’ He says in a sincere tone and guides her back in to the living room.

I manage to make it to upstairs without further incident and carry out a search of the three bedrooms and bathroom. In my master bedroom I am appalled to find a man and a woman writhing like snakes on the sheets. I can barely see the woman underneath as most of her body is wrapped around the man on top but I manage to glimpse her hair from the landing light. It is curly and brown. I creep forwards silently and the woman’s face appears over the man’s shoulder and cries out in alarm. It’s not her. I breathe a sigh of relief.

‘Hey man what’s your problem?’ the man says pulling himself out of the tight embrace and staggering to his feet.

I raise my hands apologetically and back out on to the landing. As I descend the stairs to return to the party the man watches me from the landing, his fists clenching the bannister. I ignore the fact that this man just kicked me out of my own bedroom, as I am more concerned with the task at hand. Finding the curly haired enchantress. I swing open the downstairs bathroom door and am met with the sight of a skinny woman throwing up in my sink. She is wearing a mini skirt and boots.

‘Shut the door.’ She gasps and clutches the sink in both hands, preparing herself for another bout.

I grimace and close the door. I’ll deal with that later. With nowhere left in the house to look I step outside onto my front door porch and scan the driveway for signs of life. An assortment of expensive looking cars are dotted about, parked in a variety of positions. A set of headlights spark into life, blinding me. I shield my face momentarily. When I’ve recovered I squint forwards in the dark and make out an open top convertible pulling out of the driveway. In the porch light I make out a dark haired woman behind the wheel. I dash after it.

‘STOP’ I shout after the car but its not use.

The car is too far ahead so I give up and stop running and watch as the red backlights of the car disappear around the corner. I bend over, holding on to my knees, my lungs aching. On my way back to the house I kick up the driveway, spraying gravel in front of me. I lower myself onto the porch step and stare into the darkness, wondering if I will ever see the mysterious woman again.

© [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales], [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.