Four years and he had to die on the day of our first ever meeting.

My writings on the war pictures, as he liked to call them, had intrigued him. It had taken me some time to convince my family that I simply had to come all this way to meet a man called Charles Leroy Nutt. This would be reason enough for many in my native land to be cautious if not hostile but this was not all. I did not say this was not what he called himself now. I dared not even tell the man himself that I knew his other name. This was a source of shame. Initially, the sole reason for our correspondence was my admiration for the work behind that other name.

The final terminus of my journey proved too much. I was ushered into a line for looking too closely at the door. Too many people were inside his room. I looked at his desk, then down. I saw the paper. I instantly recognised the scribble. It was unmistakably his handwriting. Instinct dared me not to pick up the paper. Strange to speak to him this way. I could not give anything other than a cursory glance to the clots of sticky red. Some part of me realised I had to see, smell and sense what had happened to him. That was, if I was ever going to be a writer.

Someone pushed me. My knuckles had frozen in an enraged anger and I could not hear anything. The heavyhanded shaking of me released my knuckles from their grip. He kept repeating: “How long have you known each other”. “FOUR YEARS”, I said. “Are you deaf or something?” he asked. ‘FOUR YEARS”. Another officer held me down as if somehow this would contain the shrilled volume in my voice. A tightly wrapped woman in a red coat with a large handbag and shiny black hair appeared. She apologised on my behalf. I had read what to do in such circumstances but just omitted to conduct myself in this way. Sometimes there was truth in writing. Deference even if false and it mostly is false, is and always will be a necessity of pointless authority. “I thanked her”. I wondered if she was Charles’ girl? He never mentioned a girl. She was a woman.

But the heavyhanded baboon had not finished. He simply did not realise I was distracted by this event and now this woman. I was trying to understand how to deal with losing something I had never had. I have another question. “What did you do for him? “I did not do anything for him. We corresponded. Of course, we wrote to each other” I said. Luckily, my sarcasm was covered by my rambling. “What about?” he asked. “The war”. Relieved at his momentary silence, I quickly filled the gap with “writing”. “Where did you meet?” Baboon began to poke me. I played the deference card. I was not from these parts. Red coat had helped me but my luck was running out quicker than my fellow Charles. “We never met physically, in person I mean”. Baboon was slightly taken aback but then suddenly showed no interest in me whatsoever. I wondered about testing the reaction. “I am a writer too”, I said but no one, not even the oversized uniformed baboon was interested in either me or my beloved fellow Charles Beaumont. There were hundreds of writers in these kind of places, dead ones, live ones, forgotten ones, you name it, they had every kind. It was hard to tell stony faced oaf that this particular fellow, Charles Beaumont, now dead, deceased, departed, who I had come all this way to meet, was actually my hero.

Red coat was back. “I’m Sandra Cheever” she said. “I am a writer”, Why did I say that? I felt stupid but things had a habit of coming out the wrong way. “Do you have any idea what happened?”, she asked. “I’ve just arrived” I said. “Your Roger”, she said. “You really a writer” she enquired. Yes, she was right, a name like Roger was a guarantee that I would never be a writer. “Yes”. She had that kind of face where involuntary talk takes over. “I corresponded with Charles but this was to be our first meeting. His last letter he had said he no longer felt alive”. An ominous statement perhaps indicating his impending death”… “Let’s walk” she said. I thought she meant run away but she just meant walk. She grabbed my arm and walked out with me. I was terrified but baboon did not care and neither did the others. Perhaps, I was harsh, a real baboon would be much more sensitive than this specimen. “Of course, people like me try to think up murders but these are in the comforts of our imagination. Some may feel visceral but they are not physical acts.” She hushed me into immediate silence. Did anyone understand that Charles was dead. I did not understand any of this. I had not even seen death, not in real life, not until today. It was no wonder murders were rampant if this was how crimes in this Niu Yawk were investigated.

“Can you think of anything?” she asked. “I feel blank, clueless on what to think. Charles is dead” I said. “Well we need a little more than that. What we need right now is for you to find the clue on what happened to Charles” she said. “The number” I said urgently. “The paper on the floor, it was a code, simple and disappointing and the purpose is unclear. But that crumpled bit of paper lay bare the code behind 6324. I rarely see numbers…” “Look Roger, get on with it” she insisted. “Charles said I was the only person to say this to him”. “What?” she asked. “FCB. That’s the code. The first three are obvious. He knew I was coming to meet him. I always referred to him as my fellow. He once told me this made him chuckle like a schoolgirl. I cannot imagine the sound of his voice. I’ll never hear his… Yes. The next two refer to his real name, Charles Beaumont. I am uncertain about the D?” She had began to thump her feet. “D’s got to be for disclosure. That policeman knows about the racket. Nutt’s dead because of him, he knows it and I know it but I can’t prove it” she said. “Are you trying to tell me, a policeman killed Charles” I felt bewildered. “Yes, don’t you know anything?” she said. She pulled out a pile of papers from her bag. I stole it, from Nutt. Nutt says you’re the only man to think like him”. “Did he really?” I asked. “Now I need you to make those weird connections and tell me how we end this.”

I lost myself and embraced Sandra. I soon realised this was not the kind of attention she wanted. I stopped. I felt so awake. I had never felt so close to my hero fellow Charles Beaumont, dead or alive. 863241



I had known Miriam for seven years now and I had made the mistake of introducing this sensitive creature, my best friend, to the clutches of this figure before me.

A hard stony faced man who I had worked with briefly in my assortment of forced casual jobs.
I will not forget the day of the engagement. Miriam made to feel guilty for looking forward to her marriage by Dave coupled with her wretched mother pawning over the accomplishments and beauty of her childhood friend Angela until Miriam was left to cower in the shadows as the unworthy competitor but worse was to come.

I tried to console many of our friends about comments made by Miriam’s mother not to mention the discomforting stares between mother and fiance. I had seen that Dave spent considerable time lodged between Miriam and Angela with Miriam’s mother directly facing him. I kept my distance. The mother had done all to push me aside telling all how Angela was Miriam’s best friend even though they had not seen each other for twenty years.

I had arranged the engagement party with Miriam and we were very pleased with the simple elegance of it all. Not something appreciated by all but then I did not live for all. I lived for myself and my dear friends. Dear Miriam was there with her mother, the woman who had worn her down to absolutely nothing. All that was left inside was the fragile musical voice that could spark supernovas. But this sensitive soul singer did not sing anymore, she wondered about the feelings of other people. If so and so was Ok, if she had accidentally offended, if she had only… these ifs had left her prey to the dark fog that clung to her every day.

At the engagement, Dave chatted in his rather abrupt style carefully giving equal attention to Angela and Miriam. However, foolishly I did not suspect anything until he grasped Angela’s arm and there was a glance. It was only a momentary glance but I felt something shift inside my gut.

I was relieved to be invited to lunch the day afterwards. Miriam was concerned about Dave who caught me alone in the kitchen and grasped my hand. I involuntarily flinched and fell backwards and my eyes replete with terror. He looked outside and quickly referred to me as our mutual friend to assuage me. He seized my state of paralysis and began to tell me a story of how Angela had forced fellatio on him while Miriam was asleep. I was so angry and nervous at his audacity. I began to laugh at him. Dave’s wishful thinking was an affair with Angela. He told me to calm down as if I was mad and how he could not bear to hurt Miriam but he had to tell someone, me being that someone. Dave appeared to have no feelings as they could never be penetrated in the ever shifting sands that were his eyes.

Outside, I watched Miriam with her mother and ‘best friend’. All the while we watched. A cold dark abyss that even Hades would shrink from. I wanted so desperately to shout out loud and tell Miriam everything but I crumbled. I had played the most despicable part in this marriage. Miriam was not fit to understand who or what I had introduced and she never had been. An affair that had made me complicit in a deceit against my friend.

I looked at Dave and all I could see was myself. I felt sick.


Miriam said her eyelids had fell for her feet. I called it sleep. I liked life plain and simple, nothing more, nothing less. 

I told Miriam to be grateful for a perfect day.  Miriam had been so excited at the prospect of our marriage that the day of our engagement initially took second place. I reminded her that this was the day when we first met. Her eyes flickered and the distant smile reserved for the wedding disappeared. She took my hand and held it, as if for the last time and then busily began to make plans to make our engagement special.

Miriam’s mother announced she would not be able to make the engagement. I knew she would not hide her discomfort at the prospect of my engagement to Miriam. I made light of the fact that I did not make it to her mother’s like list. Poor Miriam looked at me apologetically. I had not thought before speaking. Miriam’s mother did not like her much either. Her eyes welled up but I would not let her dwell. I discouraged Miriam from living out her mother’s general dissatisfaction with her in the only way I knew how.  Miriam had to be responsible for her own happiness otherwise Miriam would turn into her mother. Left to be stony and hard while regaling stories of being mistreated.

Miriam’s old friend Angela would make the engagement from Tahiti. Miriam’s weekly telephone ordeals with her mother resulted in her telling of Angela’s arrival. Her mother thought Angela was talented. Miriam’s mother changed her mind. She even expressed shock and dismay that Miriam had failed to insist she turn up to such an important event. Miriam apologised. Her mother’s upset extended to being unable to buy Miriam an engagement present. She would however find the strength to turn up and join the celebrations. Her mother announced she would stay with us but Angela was also staying. We had two bedrooms and a box/dressing room next to the bedroom. Miriam’s mother offered to share her bed with Angela but she preferred the dressing room floor next to our bedroom. Miriam said it was not the most romantic of solutions but she did not wish to be the cause of any further upset to her mother. 

I had always been a romantic. This was the dirty source of our perfect match. Our mutual friend Charlotte had introduced us. I was simple but romantic. This aspect of my personality had been buried for it could not be exposed. There was no room for sentiment in the world of hard boots, hard hats, hard rubble and hard labour.  I was now devising building contracts but the work still served the kind of man I was. The evenings allowed me to enjoy the only complexities in my life. A glass of something selected by the woman I loved. This woman was Miriam despite her protests. 

The invitations were sent out and the day soon arrived. The engagement had been perfect. My building friends managed to mingle with the school marms of Miriam’s network and Miriam’s mother managed to mingle mercifully. But the night would prey upon me. 

I could hear Miriam breathing in bed when I woke up to the pleasant feeling of tender kisses being brushed up against my genitals. I was aroused. My sleepy state soon turned to a state of paralysis when I realised that Angela was the cause. I used all my strength and courage when I turn to see if Miriam was awake and a party to this terrible crime. She slept. I tried to push Angela away but she persisted and continued to lick me and her tongue like a dog. I began to breathe hard as I continued to try and shove her off me. All the while, a terror gripped my body. I feared waking Miriam and momentarily imagined Miriam’s mother watching. This image propelled me to finally push Angela away. I could not sleep. In the morning, I waited for Miriam to question me. I briefly blamed her for even knowing Angela. But Miriam was too innocent to suspect or have any idea of what took place. Miriam knew something was wrong. I was agitated and distracted as Angela smiled and flirted at the table. Miriam’s mother noticed. Undeterred. Angela continued.

I felt violated and untrustworthy. 

Miriam feared that the engagement had caused me to doubt our relationship. Charlotte was called. I waited until Angela, Miriam’s mother and Miriam were all in the garden. I casually asked about Angela but Charlotte suspected something. I blurted out what had happened. Charlotte laughed nervously initially. I feared she would tell Miriam but she accepted that I did not have the imagination for such tales or infidelity. I was relieved. She added I would need to end the damage caused by my disturbed and distracted state.

I know my terrain and I had to learn how to compose myself in this new world. The incident would occasionally regurgitate itself in my nightmares. I never said anything because I could not bear Miriam being upset. She had learned to depart from the series of disappointments that represented her life before me. I would not be the source of one more. I had suffered betrayal by her friend but I would not subject Miriam to the same. Angela did not make it to the wedding. Charlotte made sure of that. I would never celebrate the day we first met or our engagement because it turned out to be the day of our first and only child.




Mirtle Mysticons

We were laughing until Anita’s tumble-led shriek caused a near fall. She reacted to my trying to take a closer look at the sparkling diamonds scattered across the coal black pavement.  Fortunately our strong Roman soldiers in drag formation maintained our upright positions. Close up, fractured glass remnants replaced the diamonds, the edges infected by the red hues emanating from the necklace. I was no longer angry with Michelle for striking the street light. A garuaesque fog held me back from inspecting further.  He’d tied the cord too tightly around my neck but at least the pentagram did not move.

Goose pimples followed our every step and pavements proved to be problematic. We parted. Anita’s grey huddled heap contrasted Michelle’s limestone stature. She saw me stare, glanced at the necklace before turning to watch the swift moving clouds drift above us. I looked up at the flat. “Look, I’ve lit the way home Toto” I laughed. “Not very eco” retorted Anita sharply. Michelle laughed at my discomfort. Anita always had to strike me down with curt comebacks. My laughter had faded into the night.

I opened mum’s red before I told Michelle that I’d found the flat. I got zilch about the sacrificed good wine but much about my commercial consumerist competitiveness. She then expressed the need to see the place for herself. Michelle now asked about the flat all over again. I explained about the agency. The place wasn’t right for everyone the man said. I told Michelle the price had been right. I did not say by how much. But this was not the only reason I went for the flat. Difference was the key. It’s odd uneven walls and the strange stone embedded inside the brick walls.  The place was different like me. I could not explain to Michelle that the reason I felt so close when we first met was because she was different. Anita became so ordinary then. Not so now, I had let Anita down badly and she had not forgiven me. I needed Michelle but she didn’t need me. She did not care about anything even herself. She was free to do whatever she wanted. Not like me or Anita. We had to care because no one else did. I always felt forced to fit in with both of them. One day I thought but these things never happen in the way you imagine.

Michelle deserved Anita’s strikes not me. The contradiction of meek and demanding. A throwback from when her mother used to beg me to come keep her fragile angry daughter company. Anita worked hard to fit in after the illness. She could not help herself. Normality was her perpetual identity crisis. Her strong caring side abused by her desire to challenge wrongdoing dispensed critical strikes usually aimed at me. A primeval attack against my many weaknesses. Still, at least Anita cared, she cared about everything and everyone. Anita had not wanted to go out that evening. Maybe she still felt resentful. She dressed to go out before announcing one of her funny feelings. I took Anita’s funny feelings seriously but Michelle laughed at her and pushed her fearful face out the door. I followed suit. They had come to stay with me but they never joined me. Not like I wanted.

I had left the door unlocked. Anita was worried the flat had been burgled. Not me I might add. I had inside information. There was nothing worth stealing. The lights flickered on and off as Michelle pushed the door wide open. I could not help myself. “Wouldn’t it be weird if someone was in the flat?” I said. Anita’s fear took hold. “Why did you have to say that? she demanded. I turned around and stared at her. “Look Anita, I don’t know why I said it.” I screamed “Rrraaaah” right into her face. Anita’s hair blew back. I fell back on humour otherwise I would have screamed at her uptightness. Besides I had new neighbours. “You’re weird Jess, even Michelle thinks so. Let me in, I need to go” Anita said. “As the resident weirdo, I invite you to enter the threshold”.  I stroked the pentagram necklace for effect and bowed for her to enter. Anita let out an exasperated tut before charging in wobbling in her heels.

Michelle tugged on my arm. “Wait” she said. “Let’s go inside” I said, weary of a scene. She pushed passed me and stumbled into the kitchen. She did not sit  down. “How come he gave you the necklace?” she asked. I had no idea but was suddenly desperate to make everything alright with Michelle. “He wanted to help us get into that place – the cheapskate wants it back” I said. Michelle asked me if I liked him when Anita shouted out for toilet roll.  “Sorting out shit is a big part of my life” I said. I was relieved by Anita’s intervention and laughed nervously. Michelle sniggered and slumped into the nearest chair in satisfaction.

I exchanged with Anita. I needed air and the toilet would have to serve as the sanctuary in what was supposed to my new flat. Michelle could move in but it would never work. I listened hard. Michelle was focused on Anita now. “What did you think of that club?” she asked. “Weirder than that place you found”. I heard Michelle shout, “I meant the guys?” . “They all looked the same to me” said Anita. I laughed. Random thoughts overtook my mind. Later, it became heated and Anita accused Michelle of something and a nutter or something like that was mentioned. I did not want to come out. I was tense all over again.

I returned bearing a blanket. I threw it at Anita and turned east to do some stretch yoga.

“It’s all in the spine…” I said. Anita now wanted more from me. “Jess, can I have a shower…a BATH?” I muttered that she should go for it under my breath. “Anything at Hotel anything for you?”. Michelle looked jealous so I took back the blanket from Anita and flung it at her telling her to do what she did best. The laughter returned even though I was now in prayer position. But then my stomach almost popped out. Three loud knocks punctured my position. I looked up from the floor where I had collapsed. Anita glared at a wide-eyed Michelle. It was 2.30am. “It’s the neighbours” I said convinced. Three more loud knocks. Michelle shouted, “LET THEM IN. LET THEM IN”. I shouted for her to stop but she had left the room. The bangs came a third time. I rushed to the door and listened. Nothing.

I slowly opened the door. The good-looking pentagram necklace guy from the club. He carried two bulges in his leather jacket. I had a funny thought but then all I said was “RUFUS what are you doing here?” He asked me if I was “Inviting me in or…?”. I could see Michelle in my room, her compact light was on and the lippy was out. The door slightly ajar so she could listen. In the kitchen, I felt awkward when Rufus asked after Michelle. Would I have to give up my room for him and her in my own flat? Michelle emerged and Rufus held out a chair for her. He took off his jacket and hung it on the back of her chair.

I nearly left but Rufus asked me for four glasses and even asked after Anita. Maybe he’d come to be social or was it the necklace? I would have returned it. He took out a bottle which he rightly held at arms length. The crimson coloured the sides. Michelle ventured for home-made port but I thought it looked blood like. I could hear Anita groan at my suggestion before she turned up the music in the bathroom. “Count Drac?” laughed Michelle. “It’s an elixir, think Mirto” he said. “Chemical, definitely artificial” I said. “Wrong, completely natural, MIRTO’s made of myrtle, juniper and arbutus” he said.

We clinked glasses. It was pretty disgusting even for Michelle but we were not rude for some reason. We drank the first glass and somehow the bottle fell empty. Forgetful drunks must be forgiven. Rufus leaned back masterfully. He exchanged meaningful looks with Michelle who announced she was off to her bedroom. Her bedroom? I wanted to scream at her but instead I heard her scream. I was confused and looked at Rufus to confirm that I was not projecting thoughts. I shouted out to Michelle. I felt slightly out of sync. I got out of the chair and nearly fell as I stumbled to the bedroom. I steadied myself. I called out and began to tug at the handle of the door but it was locked.  Michelle did not respond. She was so quiet. Perhaps she wanted attention but it was just not like her to go about it in this way. Rufus suddenly appeared and began to quietly ask Michelle if something was wrong. It was as if I did not exist.

I looked away then down. Water was coming from the bathroom. I shouted to Anita. I had to be sober. This was my place. They could do what they like but I had to sort things out even when I was drunk. I shouted to ask if Anita realised she had overrun the bath and why was the water brown. She was silent too so I yelled over the music. At last, she responded. She could not see any water. I asked her to open the door. She finally got out of the bath. Anita rattled the handle but did not bother to open the door. She stopped the music and then accused me of locking her in. “I locked you in like I leaked water, like I locked Michelle in”. I explained that she had to have locked it from the inside.  I tried to tell her about Michelle. She refused to listen and instructed me to “just do something” about Michelle and commented about my “slurred speech”. An indication that I was unreliable drunk and therefore unworthy of her precious attention.

I suddenly remembered that I had been given the number of the landlord in case of emergencies. “I’m ringing the landlord”. Rufus snatched my phone. “It’s gone past 3am”. I snatched the mobile back but there was no signal.

I asked Michelle if she was doing this for attention but then Rufus accused me of orchestrating the whole thing. “You wanted to be alone with me” he insisted. Delusional. I was the only sane person. “I’ll need the necklace” he said as he went off to the kitchen, he grabbed his jacket and came back. “Necklace?” he demanded. I tugged at Anita’s door handle angrily. Rufus waited. “Just go, you useless shit…” I could see more brown water leaking and I rushed up to the kitchen window and began to shout out into the street for attention. Where were my neighbours? “You don’t know the landlord do you?” He said.

“What’s that got to do with it?” I asked.

Rufus grabbed a chair from the kitchen and smashed it against the bedroom door. Michelle lay unconscious on the floor. She was breathing. Rufus and I put her on the bed. She shivered back to life losing much of her shine.

Later in the kitchen, a shamefaced Anita held Michelle’s hand as she explained how she had heard a knock and then felt a shock. She felt different she said.

“This place gives me the creeps” announced Anita.

Rufus called out “girls” as if he was some harem leader. “Here. A leak, anyone touching these switches, would’ve got a shock.” We could be dead I thought. Michelle laughed it off. “Just tell us next time you don’t want us to stay.” Now I was going to call this landlord. I went to grab my phone when Rufus snatched it again. “It’s 4am, you’re drunk and do not forget the door.” He was right but I was going to do it anyway when he and Michelle started up with their secret messaging. I stared at Rufus then Michelle and the necklace slipped off of its own accord. It managed to leave a sharp scratch on the table. It was not my night, a door and now the table. Michelle was right. I was not fit to have a flat. My independence  was becoming a long distance road trip. Rufus pulled out an extra bottle. I mustered a smile. Alcohol was the only answer. “I’d like several” I said. “Hallelujah” said Michelle as she moved over to Rufus. Still playing games. She wanted to be alone she said except that meant being alone with Rufus. He followed her into the spare room. Anita refused to drink and listened instead. She heard the words necklace and Jess. It figured.

Rufus took Michelle’s hands. She went to move away but he pricked her pointedly and precisely in the neck with one edge of the pentagram necklace. Blood oozed out. Rufus pulled back. He filled an empty bottle. Anita said she expected Michelle wanted to sleep with Rufus. He tried to say something about Michelle and I immediately stopped him saying I was going to bed. He had the nerve to say “what a great idea?” Anita took the cue and left us alone. I made small talk about the necklace. He said it was a special heirloom and then like Michelle, he asked me what made me move to this flat? I could not start to tell him about difference. Too difficult to explain. So I mentioned it being newly decorated and said I was going to rent the other two rooms so I could live rent free. Rufus lay the pentagram on the table. I picked the pentagram pendant and pricked my finger. I held it up. Rufus looked intensely into my eyes reflecting my bleeding finger. I could see him almost melt. “Bloody beautiful” he said. “Thanks” I muttered as I wrapped my finger in the spare toilet paper lying on the table.

He asked if he could stay. I did not plan this and I was all mixed up. I walked to my room and Rufus grabbed the pentagram and followed. I did not stop him. Anita gave me one of her looks on the way back to the kitchen.

In the bedroom, I asked, “What did she say about me?”. He said Michelle talked about me the whole time and wanted me to have the necklace. I felt guilt. Rufus held out the pentagram but then he lunged towards me. I reacted involuntarily because I felt sick and did not want to be kissed. But a strange disembodied thought occurred. He was trying to attack me with the necklace.  I was certain the second time round when he tried to do it again. I shouted out to “MICHELLE” and ran into the bathroom. I began to hyperventilate in the bathroom. Blood poured out of my grazed neck after I mistakenly swung round into him. He rushed back to Anita who heard me shout something but clearly not enough for her to get up.

“Jess stuck in the bathroom?” she asked. Rufus put his hand on her shoulder. Anita agreed to give Rufus a chance for my sake. Rufus suggested a drink as a truce. Anita wanted water but Rufus insisted there was no other way. Finally, he stood in her way as she tried to feign tiredness. She capitulated “One won’t hurt, then I’m going to bed.” He instructed her to swallow in one gulp. Anita did so and stared in disbelief when she saw the bottle was empty. Anita could not work out how. She then asked, “Did Jess scream?” Anita walked off slightly disorientated as Rufus called after her.

Anita walked in on Michelle. She screamed and tried to lock the door but the lock wouldn’t work. Rufus pushed the door open. “You should be more like your friends” he said. “Not Jess’’ she screamed.

“Try on the necklace for me” he said.

“JESS, JESS?” she screamed. Rufus grabbed her but she struggled free. He again insisted she try on the necklace.

“You try it on” she said. Anita asked him to hand the necklace to her. He moved forward with glee only she pushed him out-of-the-way and ran to the front door. It was locked. He came out holding a set of keys. She ran to Jess’s room. It was dark. Anita fell back. Subdued She saw blood spray everywhere. Shocked. She saw me appear. I could not understand how Rufus could be alive. His blood fed my red-lit Visigoth dressed self.

“Oh my God, Jess what did he make you wear?” mumbled a shocked Anita.

A bit of me could still laugh at the loss of black but not the one who was communicating.

“He was the landlord” I said.

“Him? He killed Michelle” she informed me.

“You’re with me” I assured her but she continued to talk about Michelle. I had to carry out this strange urge. She had to join me if she wanted to live. Anita sensed something round her neck. She was wearing the pentagram necklace. She instinctively knew. She tried to run I had no choice but to pierce the graceful nape in her neck. “We are the Mysticons” I said. I do not why I kept saying this. I do not even know who the Mysticons are? But maybe someone out there does. It is strange. A bit of me is still here but it’s no longer me.

The bottles refilled with Anita’s blood. I held the pentagram and felt myself scratch names into the stone wall. Names appeared and disappeared with numerous others including Michelle and Anita, even Rufus. A red white light transformed our transparent bodies into a mist which enveloped what we once were. We were together and we were red. I would never see mum again or could I? Would she understand?

…The phone alarm clock struck 8am. Our red light left through the gaps of the front door which opened to let out the pentagram. The door closed behind. Outside a new neighbour was being shown the flat. He was younger than me. He was planning to invite friends. That will be us I thought…

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First installment of Hera Now©…The house trembles as I walk down the stairs. Hairy Arse, the builder looks up my skirt as I arrive at the bottom of the stairs…

Unashamed, he holds his spot using my letter which he hands over once the transaction has been completed. “Here Hera”, he smiles. I snatch it. I call it a letter but it’s more of a statement. Hairy Arse’s silent companion looks at me sympathetically as I drop the statement red letter. It’s from the bank. Their statement is ‘I’m overdrawn’. I look at my watch. Hairy Arse deserves something but it’s not thanks. Outside, the remaining part of the front garden crawls with the debris from the lower wall. A newly appointed basement will soon accommodate yet another London rent tenant. I rush to the bus stop and wait for the 134. The 134 arrives unexpectedly but a man gets in my way just long enough for him to catch a black cab and for me to miss my bus. His choice is all the more grating given I have to get the bus. Finances dictate my mode of travel not choice. That and the ridiculous people who allege to serve me poverty.

Opposite, the three monolithic towers of doom loom over my fate. The arrival of the bus will now determine the rate of my losses. I am 40 minutes late. My temp wages will get yet another whack from Maurice, the rotund robot accountant at Cushy, the head hunting firm for staff writers. I get on the bus in a daze as I clamber past other professional bus users. Inside, I scramble to get to my favourite, the top deck window seat. A hideous individual took away my beloved red Routemaster buses. Yes, I dislike you each time I see anything but the Routemaster buses. Nostalgia is supposed to be something you do when you are old or before you die. I have to ask why I’m turning into outrage of Tunbridge Wells. I am, no, I’m really a well disguised sophisticated, multicultural, multimedia urban Londonite but I’m just a poorly paid pun. What is wrong with me?

I used to read books, write poetry and play music. I know this happens to other people but this is me, my life is not meant to be like this. Once upon a time, I was free of the befores and afters of the world. I certainly wasn’t worried if the bus would arrive on time before work and what would happen after it didn’t. Naturally, I got told off for being late and landing in mischief but all matters were instantly forgotten by me. I was what everyone called a ‘now’ child. At least until some silly adult interrupted playtime to ask what I did yesterday or what would I like to be when I grew up? It suddenly strikes me that ‘before’ is a strange word. I split up the word to get a handle of it in my head as suddenly it seems to be the most meaningless word in the world. To ‘be’ and the verb ‘being’ sound so satisfyingly content in comparison to the ‘fore’, which has a fraught past. Without the ‘e’, it is ‘for’, for whom or what? Something or someone else I suspect. The word ‘for’ I believe generates an expectation. And expectations usually come from other people. I must rid myself of expectations before they worm their way into me way out beyond the 134 bus. Thankfully my thoughts terminate at Tottenham Court Road bus station. I am in sync with a bus termination point. I come out and am met by yet another tall tower, Centrepoint, albeit more agreeable. I also seem to be followed around by London’s highly contagious drilling works.

No one at Cushy notices I am late apart from Maurice. I wonder if anyone would even notice my absence if the copying and filing was left to accumulate like the almond croissant’s in Maurice’s rotund belly. I have missed the expensive frappy crappy coffee run but everyone is too busy discussing their end of year salary statements. I hear a few oohs and ohs about bonuses from some of the beautiful angels in the office where as there will be no mutual interests coinciding with the arrival of my weekly cheque. I fill in my time sheet and stare at Maurice while my mind wanders back to the bank statement. Last year, a cleaner told me that someone in the office told her I worked very hard for a temp. I explained to my then boyfriend, Dylan that I work hard because I like to leave Cushy by 6pm to catch the 134 and eat dinner before 8 because late night eating makes me sick. Dylan thinks I clearly haven’t got the hang of being a temp. Oh Dylan, no thank you for your insights.