Wetland Character Building


I almost drowned once
down near the mill
swimming the current of the Coquet
three quarters of the way across
my legs lost power
against the undertow
I’m lucky Peck kept his eyes on me
as the river reeds
wrapped around ankles
my head bobbing up and down
like a braeburn on bonfire night
and the rest of the boys
jumped back in
like working-class Hasselhoffs
and pulled me to the side
they were much stronger swimmers than me

a quick rest and pat on the back
spitting up some of the river
then swigging back
some calming Carling
the realisation – dawned on me –
I had to swim back
facing a new fear head on
because backstroke was no good
I’m lucky I’ve got such great mates
we swam back together
like geese fly
    – in formation –
reaching the riverbank’s safety
and although my swimming didn’t improve that day
my character did.

Thanks for taking the time to read my poem, an autobiographical piece of my younger days.

Hope you liked it and if you did, feel free to leave a comment.

Take It Easy

Paul x

The Magpie – A Short Story

I can hear a constant thumping on the door. That pisses me off. That’s what the doorbell’s for. Probably the pizza delivery guy. He never uses the bell.

I pull open the door and two men in black tracksuits push me back, one of them slams the oak shut. I hope it hasn’t splintered. It cost a fortune. The two invaders look and smell like a day-old shit that hasn’t been flushed. The tall one’s nose is twitching. Maybe his aroma is burning his nostrils as well as mine. The smaller of the two ushers me to sit on a stool next to the marble island. “Keep quiet and we won’t ‘urt ya”, the taller one spits out in a thick cockney accent. I keep my mouth shut. It gives them the illusion of control.

“The car keys, your phone, wallet, laptops, all your gear, where is it old man?” says the shorter of the two. He seems to be the brains of the operation.

“Well I wouldn’t keep them in the kitchen, would I?” I reply.

“You stay ‘ere and watch ‘im, I’ll check the place out” he orders, giving me a slap with the back of his hand. He’s happy with himself as I wipe my lips checking for any signs of blood. “Be quick” the taller one replies. I watch as the shorter man scurries off in the direction of the lounge. He’ll be happy with what he finds in there. I like expensive things. It’s why the people who hire me call me The Magpie.

“We’ve hit the jackpot” I hear him shout.

I’m getting more and more pissed off. These two cockney cockroaches think they’re going to rob me, one gave me a slap and called me an old man. I look at my lanky guard. He has a good foot on me but his frame is slight. His eyes are darting back and forward and he keeps touching his jaw. It’s clear now that he’s full of cocaine. I stand up from the stool. Just to see his reaction. He’s twitching. He says “sit down now”, pulling a knife from his hoodie pocket. It’s only a small blade. Four inches, if that. Probably stole it from his mothers kitchen drawer. I raise my arms in submission and step back further from where I came from. I sit on the stool furthest away from him. “You should be fuckin’ scared old man” he says.

“How old do you boys think I am?”, I ask.

“Fifties innit” he says.

“A couple of cheeky, robbing cockney bastards”,  I say.

“Forties? It don’t matter, you’re still ancient compared to us”, he laughs, pleased with himself.

“I’m in my thirties, you little twat. And since you’ve pissed me off so much, I won’t let you leave this house alive.” I stand up again, stretching my arms out, then sitting back down immediately. I doubt he notices what I slip in my hand. He walks straight towards me then picks up a glass from the island. Pours himself a glass of water from the tap. Gulps it down. Burps in my direction. Laughs again. 

The short one returns with my laptops, Ipad, Mac, Apple Watch, Rolex, Omega, Breitling  and the keys to my Jag. My wallets sitting on the top of the pile. “I’ll need help with the TV’s then I’ll check upstairs. May as well check the basement as well,” he says greedily.

“I’ll get the TV’s while you keep an eye on him,” the tall one replies. It’s agreed. I watch the tall one walk through to the lounge. 

“Must be pretty embarrassing for you is it?” I ask.

“What you talkin ‘bout?” he replies, a glint of confusion in his voice.

“That you need to bring along the big one for the higher stuff, ‘cause you’re a short arse?”.

“Shut your mouth, it ain’t like that. One more word and I’ll do ya”, his voice is full of spite.

“Sorry Jim, no need to get so angry”, I reply.

“Who the fuck is Jim, you old twat?”, he says, stepping closer.

“Sorry, I just came up with names for you both” I reply. He steps closer again.

“Yeah? Jim and what?” He snarls. He’s within a couple of feet. 

“Jim and the Beanpole obviously, like a budget Jack and the Beanstalk”. I see him open his body up, pulling his right arm back to throw a punch. I’m too fast for him and cold Japanese steel slides through his shoulder like butter, severing the tendons with ease. He lets out a wail and slumps to the floor. He’s sobbing and I can smell piss. I’m glad I bought the new mop last week. 

Beanpole has heard the wail. He comes running through, his small blade in hand. He lunges, but I drop down pulling the knife out of Jim. He stabs down but I roll out the way and slice the back of his ankles. Then the backs of his knees. He goes down. I get his used glass from the counter, swing my arm as hard as it will allow and bring it crashing down over the bridge of his nose. He passes out. 

The doorbell rings. I go to answer it. “Who is it” I ask through the door.

“Pizza delivery” replies a young voice. I open the door and hand him a tip. He smiles at the sight of the £20. I hear a scooter engine start up and fade into the distance.  I take a slice of pizza from the box, savouring the cheese. I’m always hungry after a fight or a kill. It’s the adrenaline crash. 

I’ve made sure Jim and the Beanpole are unconscious. I carry them to the basement. All my equipment is down here. I can have some fun. Should I use the axe or the saw or maybe both. Definitely the mallet.  I hear a phone buzz in one of their hoodies. It pulls me back to the present. It’s Beanpoles. A text message. I’ll reply to that later. I’ll keep the phone as well. It’s expensive. 

Thanks for reading, i’d love to hear your thoughts.

Take it easy,

Paul

Celebrating a Win!!!

Hey everyone, just a quick post to say I won a writing contest in April for Press 53.

The contest was to write a 53-word short story using their prompt of taste. I found out on Friday that I’d won and I’m really happy about it.

If you want to read “That Awkward First Kiss” click the link:

https://www.press53.com/53word-story-contest

Thanks for reading.

Take it easy,

Paul

Image courtesy of Danny Howe via Unsplash.