Monday, 28 October 2013

Margaret Carruther's Shady Character story:



          Norman is not what you would call the brains of Britain but you don’t need brains in his kind of work, breaking into cars, stealing radios and DVD players, some people are so dense they ask to be robbed the articles he finds in some cars.  He has a partner Albie, a kid he shares his loot with.  They tried to burgle a house once but they found it hard, they couldn’t get in, they busted the door lock, then the dog attacked them; no it’s better to stick to what you know and doing cars is what he knows.  It’s quick to jemmy the door, have a quick look inside ripping out the radio and sat navs; he can get at least a fiver for them if they’re in good nick.  50 year old Norman isn’t all that good looking well he isn’t ugly but he isn’t George Clooney either.  He’s balding, a little chubby and he’s always wrapped up in that dirty old grey mac.  What you would call the man next door type, ordinary, dirty long brown hair, brown eyes, long nose with a bump on it wear he broke it a few years back.  He’s in his usual get-up dark grey trousers, dirty t-shirt of an undetermined colour, boots that he gets from the army surplus stores; as a matter of fact he gets all his clothes from charity shops, Salvation Army or army surplus stores.  His flat is as bad as he is no one ever gets too close to Norman except Lucy his sister and Albie.  Albie always does the sales work down the local then they share the profits fifty-fifty Albie isn’t old enough to go into a pub but as long as the bobbies aren’t there there’s no problem but then his parents don’t care where the fourteen year old is, as long as he brings home the cash and there’s a lot of cash out there just for the taking.  Norman looks at his watch a present from Lucy she bought it for him for his last birthday; he told her that she didn’t need to, as anything he wants he can usually steal.  He stole a watch just the other day from a jag that was sitting pretty on the side of the kerb just wanting someone to break into it, there was a laptop, a handbag, sat nav and a radio, top of the market too not the usual rubbish.  3pm must move as Albie will be waiting for him round the corner.  They are doing Craymore Road next, there’s regularly a good haul from there and it’s swanky as a rule.  Jags, Mercs and 4x4’s.  Hurrying up the road he spies Albie by the corner and waves.  Albie is your usual teenager always in a rush to get things done he’s slender build with fair-hair, always wears t-shirts, jeans and trainers.  His parents live on the council estate in a two bed flat.  He and his baby brother share a bedroom.

          As he arrives Albie asks.  “Where have you been Norman it’s 3:10 you said you would be here at 3 sharp?”

          “Don’t worry the cars aren’t going anywhere are they and the owner’s won’t be here to collect them for another 3 hours.”  Norman gave Albie a toothy grin he was vary proud of his false teeth cost him all of £300 he thought money well spent.  As they approach the first car a red Lexus he fits his tool into the side of the door and waits, hearing a familiar click he opens the door.  “Right get the bag and let’s have a look.”  Inside they find a pair of glasses in the glove box and £15 in change in the well of the car.  Then opening the boot Albie takes the bag round and is out of site for maybe 5 minutes but when he reappears he has a grin on his face.  Norman closes the boot, quietly shuts the door then strolling round to the back of the car, he asks.  “What have we got?”

          Albie opens the bag saying.  “Two laptops, a sat nav, a leather wallet, a Rolex watch, an expensive looking parker pen and the cash hurrah for Christmas.  A good haul and just from this car.  What do these people have for brains?”

          “Right, onto the next, which one should we do?”

          They look down the road, there is a merc and a 4x4 on this side, Norman doesn’t know why they leave their cars on this road and not in the local car parks, maybe because they are worried that they will be robbed; at this thought he starts to laugh.  “We could take on the merc next,” Norman suggests.  They start to walk along the road to the black car.     

Friday, 25 October 2013

Pete Sutton's Shady Characters story
Shady Characters

Whenever one of them is murdered I'm sent to investigate by the man upstairs, and I don't mean God. My name's Roman. Not man from Rome, I'm no Flavious or Biggus or whatever, my actual name is pronounced Row Man.

The library was in a historically significant building and all Edwardian or Georgian or some such king. It looked OK I guess but I wasn’t here for the view. There were 2 men, a woman and the corpse when I arrived at the storeroom.


Candara, Head Librarian”

“Garamond, Researcher”

Arial, Librarian”

“And the corpse?”

That will be Mr Lucida our custodian” said Candara, a young chap, mid 30’s, not my view of what a head librarian would look like.

“Can any of you think of a reason why anyone would want to murder him?”

They all looked clueless which I hoped I wouldn’t be after I examined the body. I ushered them out telling them to stay in the library. The CSI geeks were yet to arrive. I took a quick look around the room seeing nothing particularly out of place. Apart from the late Mr Lucida; he looked out of place of course. No blood, I creaked into a crouch to take a closer look, thinking once again that I should exercise more.

CSI will give me a time and cause of death but it looked as if the poor sap had been strangled, didn’t look like the body was moved. As I sucked my pencil I had a sudden urge for a cigarette. Not had one in years, still have occasional urges though, mostly when I’m tired, drunk, or stressed. I glanced back to the notebook. Garamond had said nothing at all apart from who he was, was that significant? Time to talk to the witnesses and suspects.

There had already been 3 deaths, Lucida would make it 4. I wonder how much of the heritage had gone with this one. I would assume not much because of his lowly position but you never know with the men upstairs, what they choose or have chosen for them.

I went for a walk round the stacks wondering what would happen to the Book Heritage if one of the old families were rubbed out. Can’t have been very many books written in Lucida I thought. At least when the Comic Sans had been killed there wasn’t much book fallout. He was the first, also strangled. Since him there had been Gentium, Miller and now Lucida.

Before the population explosion in the computer age deaths were rare and had a bigger impact on the Heritage, now who knew? There have been lots of new families since. The guy upstairs though, he wanted me to sort this out.

The lab boys confirmed that Lucida was strangled, had been dead for approximately 4 hours before the library opened and that everything else would have to wait for a full autopsy.

As I finished taking the statements of the people who worked at the library I spotted a vaguely familiar looking man watching me. When he spotted that I’d seen him he looked panicked and fled through a door. Only guilty people run from the police. On the stairs leading up I remembered who this was, but it was impossible, the Comic Sans! but without his trademark beard and silly hat. The stairs ended at a door to the roof.

The rooftop had no other exits and a drop would be fatal. As I approached the corner of roof entrance a shot rang out. He was on the opposite side of the roof behind some air conditioning units.

“Why did you do it” I shouted

“No one took me seriously”

“Give yourself up, we have the building surrounded”

I risked a glimpse, I couldn’t see him then there he was he was running across the roof. Was he going to try to jump to the next building? It was a 6 foot gap at least. That would be madness.

“Stop!” I shouted but he never even slowed down. Afterwards I wondered if he knew he wasn’t going to make it. Turned out Garamond and he were old friends and Garamond had been hiding him at the library but Lucida had rumbled him. Garamond had also helped him to fake his own death. Tonight a comedian died and I thought to myself that the old saying was wrong. Sticks and stones may break my bones and words can sometimes kill.





Wednesday, 23 October 2013

At the last meeting we asked for people to bring along a 750 word story titled "Shady Characters"

They'll be posted here as they are provided to us

The first is Clare Dornan's story:

A shady character


She anxiously chewed her nails, chipping away the Lilac Dream varnish that had been flawless only hours before.

Her eyes flicked once more to the suitcase sitting ominously in the hall.


She slid the screwdriver through the tiny lock and twisted it round until the metal contorted and finally gave up the fight.

She unzipped the case and raised the lid.



Lucy was proud of her transition to a language school teacher. She was not just a Teacher of English, but provided the foreign visitor with the full experience: a place to stay, excursions through the city and home cooking of a standard that she knew was some what above the usual fare. Now five years into her new calling and the bookings were steadily increasing.


She rarely stewed over her days at the BBC any longer. The 15 years of service, arranging filming shoots for increasingly younger, increasingly impatient producers. No matter what tight schedule they would harp on about, no document ever left her desk until she was sure grammar and punctuation was perfect.

When the rounds of redundancies were announced, she sensed the shift in her boss from a frosty reception to a patronising smile. And when she was told that she would be leaving, she realised there was no one left who cared to hear her complaints. Even John in the Canteen, was in no mood to listen that day, having just discovered he was soon to be replaced by a Nestle vending machine.


But now she was her own boss, teacher and educator. She even had a website with links to her Menu for the Week, Testimonials and photos of students smiling while tackling the pluperfect.


Juan had come on the recommendation of his sister Maria - one of her earlier students He’d surprised her by turning up on her doorstep just as she was about to leave to collect him at the airport. He’d arrived early and hitched a lift – he didn’t want to put her out he said.

There was a glint in those dark eyes that instantly made her a little sheepish and she was aware of her own flushed chitter chatter, as she showed him round her compact Victorian terrace.

It had been the start of an unusual week’s teaching as unlike his linguistically challenged sister Maria, Juan’s English was surprisingly impressive. Her lesson plans had been torn up and replaced with in-depth discussions about her business, life and interests. She had been flattered when he said how Maria had praised her cooking – particularly her tiramusu – and she’d broken her menu plan and made it twice in one week. He’d been so complimentary about the many handmade crafts in her home…. Even admiring the embarrassingly overstuffed embroidered cushion – the outcome from her brief foray into re-upholstery night classes.


The small twinges of uncertainty about her student had never risen above the quickened heartbeat and extra layer of lipstick in the morning. They had only started to rise, like bubbles oozing up through a thick and reluctant syrup when he hadn’t returned this afternoon.

She was sure he knew when they should leave for the airport and her panic had briefly subsided when she found the suitcase already packed in his room. He was just running late, she consoled herself – perhaps a last minute shopping trip to get a gift for Maria.


What was it about Maria that caused a small mental bubble of doubt to form?


Then she realised. She couldn’t remember Maria ever mentioning a brother. And Maria’s testimonial on her website made her even more unsettled… “Everyone should come and study with Lucy! I recommend to all my friends. And her cooking! – the best Tiramisu ever.”


It was when she tried to phone that she noticed the flashing message light. The call must have come in that morning when she’d been frying up his English breakfast. It was impossible to hear the phone from the kitchen, yet from the dining room it was impossible to miss. Juan must have heard the message being recorded – yet he had not said anything about the Bank wanting her to call them urgently.


She laughed at her paranoia. He would be back for his case soon. He wouldn’t just leave all his things and disappear!


So she had sat there, twitching. It was only after the intended flight had long since taken to the air when she had placed the screwdriver into the lock.


She lifted the lid and her heart froze as she stared into the case. It was totally empty except for one sickeningly familiar, overstuffed embroidered cushion.