“Dad, has the new car been delivered?” asked Clarence entering the hallway, “Can I have a quick spin down to the roundabout and back?”
“No chance” replied his father, “you’ll do something stupid and smash it up.”
“Stop being so tight, he’s nineteen” said Clarence’s mother scornfully, “just lend him the car for gods sake.”
Clarence’s father’s face flushed. ”Why can’t you just shut up! He’s not insured to drive it, he’s too young to get insurance. Now are we going to get this over with or what?”
His father stormed through the front door with his mother and her male friend in close pursuit. Outside on the drive the Bentleys doors slammed and the engine roared throwing gravel onto the lawn as the big car sped off towards the road.
Clarence looked out at the polished red bodywork and admired the sparkling chrome as it stood glowing in the afternoon sunlight. He kicked the door shut with annoyance, ‘why wouldn’t his dad lend him the car; just for a quick spin; he could handle it easily. Mum’s right; dad was just being tight because they were having problems.’
Through the single small pane of glass in the front door the car glimmered temptingly like that last foil wrapped chocolate in the box; but on the table next to the door laid its key fob.
‘Cool, I’ll just try it on for size’ he thought slipping behind the wheel, but before he knew it, he was gliding down the dual carriageway.
‘Lets see what she can do’ he thought as he hit the straight, mashing the throttle pedal to the carpet. The V10’s throaty roar changed to a furious shriek as the engine revs hit the red line. He pulled the shift paddle but catastrophe struck as he inadvertently downshifted gear. The rear wheels locked with a screech and the last thing Clarence remembered was spinning off the road into a nearby coppice.
When he regained consciousness he found himself laid on a hospital bed.
“Well your bloody lucky “said his father, “the only thing left of that car’s the steering wheel and the driver’s seat; and all you’ve got is a light concussion.”
“Look I’m sorry about the car dad” replied Clarence, “it wasn’t my fault, I was being careful when a cat ran out in front of me.”
“I don’t care about the car son” replied his father with an amused look on his face.
“You don’t?” asked Clarence puzzled.
“No son” said his father laughing, “My new Ferrari was parked in the garage. The one you totaled belonged to your mother’s fancy man.”
A stern looking police man entered the room, “Clarence Johnson, I’m arresting you on suspicion of stealing a motor vehicle belonging to Benjamin Cleathorpe”
“Dad” shouted Clarence in panic, “they can’t do this.”
“Son” replied his father waving goodbye, “they already did.”
When I’d taken a job as an immigration investigator, I’d never envisaged I would be crammed into the back of a truck in blistering heat with a hundred other men, women and children. My boss had been optimistic when he said it would be an easy assignment tracking state organized illegal immigration in the largest country on the face of the planet, in hindsight I’d beg to differ.
In the back of the truck its standing room only. The stench of sweat was bad to begin with and there are no toilets, after the first four or five hours the raw sewage had begun to collect on the floor; now it soaked the soles of my sandals and the stench is unbearable. I press my face against a tear in the side of the truck gasping in sweet tasting air. Every now and again I take a peak out to see if I can spot any recognizable landmarks or place names, but so far I’ve seen nothing but mile after mile of arid countryside. Although my watch has been stolen by one of the guards, I can tell by the fading light we should have been at the border hours ago. Instead we seem to be heading deeper into the countryside.
It’s late, it’s somewhere around midnight. Looking through the slit in the truck side I can make out the lights of what appears to be a huge industrial complex. We draw up to a security station next to a giant billboard proudly proclaiming Nanjing Soap Corporation, largest soap producer in the world. Could this huge state owned company be responsible for the epidemic of human trafficking? Not possible I think to myself ignoring the facts which stand silently in the darkness beside me.
The truck stops, outside I hear voices, the doors open filling the void with dazzling white arc light. Blinking we emerge one by one into a tarmac compound surrounded by razor wire and armed guards. Behind the fence tall chimneys belch rancid smoke into the night sky; close by tankers offload caustic soda through thick stainless steel pipes that run like spaghetti covering the entire site. Our group slowly swells as we’re joined by hundreds more as four other trucks disgorge their human cargo. “Remove your clothes, you will be taken to the wash area to be cleaned and deloused” commands a distorted voice from overhead speakers. To weak to argue five hundred people stand naked, shivering in the cold night air. The soldiers herd us towards the open door of a nearby building and the grateful warmth of the tiled space beyond.
In the tightly packed room I push my way through the throng to reach a second set of doors that lead into the factory, to my frustration I find them locked. As the entrance doors clang shut I peer through a small glass window, the soap plant lies beyond. A stream of recognizable meat cuts pass by on a conveyer belt stretching off towards a giant rendering machine. What did my chemistry teacher say? Soap is made from caustic soda and rendered fat. Bile rises in my throat, I’ve landed in the middle of the states new clean solution to our rising population, and it’s the most popular soap in western world. A thought crosses my mind; the rest of the world is bathing in the blood of our innocents, I’d laugh but I’m busy choking on toxic gas coming from vents in the walls.
The shop door opened with a bang as Joe walked in. An old Asian man came from the back of the store talking in rapid Punjabi. Joe stood looking at the guy who continued talking without taking a breath. “Slow down” said Joe, “I don’t know what you’re on about”.
A rotund Asian teenager appeared from the back of the shop. “My dads asking if you’re a fooking electrician” she said in a heavy Birmingham accent. “Well I only understand fooking English” replied Joe sourly, “what’s wrong with your fooking electrics then”.
The teenager gestured for him to follow her into the back of the shop. In the back of the shop the old man pointed at a bundle of cables trailing from a large switch box. “For gods sake” said Joe, “how the hell did you manage that”. The teenager just shrugged, “I’m off to make a cupa” she said and walked off into the small kitchen.
Joe opened the access panel and looked into the main junction box. Groaning inwardly he started to insert the cables back into the screw terminals, tightening up each one in turn. His mind wasn’t really on the job today, as he inserted the final earth strap he accidentally brushed the big live terminal with the end of the cable.
Instantly a blinding light burned his retinas and his nostrils were full of the acrid smell of plasma. From down the hall a hideous scream irrupted, part human part animal. Joe leaped away from the junction box in fright, sparks raining down like November the fifth. From the kitchen came the crashing noise of something heavy hitting the floor.
Staggering, blinking, Joe made his way into the small kitchen where he found the old man with his head in his hands wailing. On the floor lay the fat teenager looking like a char grilled wale. Her eyes were open, staring. The air was heavy with the stench of burned hair and flesh. Although Joe was no doctor, he could tell by looking at her that she was well and truly dead.
There was a bang as the shop door opened, a large policeman arrived, red faced and panting. “I heard the scream from the street, what on earths happened” said the police man to the old man knelt on the floor. The Man said something in Punjabi that neither Joe nor the police man understood.
“Well” said the copper to Joe. “Erm” said Joe looking worried, “I came into the shop, the old geezer wanted me to look at something. I followed him into the back where he pointed at some loose wires. The girl went into the kitchen then there was a bang as the kettle shorted out, now she’s dead”.
“Ok” said the policeman getting out a pad and pencil, “are you a qualified electrician?”
“no of course not” replied Joe looking uncomfortable, “I only came in on the way home from work to buy a pot noodle for my tea”.
“Oh, ok sir” replied the police man sucking the end of his pencil, “I’ll just take your details incase we need to speak to you again”. “Sure” said Joe, “My names Andre Previn,103 White Chapel Road, London
I’m hot, Sahara style hot. A day trapped in this heat crawls by like a slug in a gin trap. I can barely keep my eyes open, and in my fuddled mind I can’t decide if its boredom or the oppressive heat getting the better of the matchsticks holding open my eyes. Either way my eye balls feel like they’ve been rolled in sand before being poked back into my head.
I kick off my shoes and turn on the floor fan, the blades hum and delicious cool air circulates around my toes. While I get a small measure of relief, I can only look forwards to the summer stretching out ahead. A hundred personal computers belching heat out into the poorly ventilated cattle market that is our office. While we all sit around sweating in tropical conditions I can’t help but wonder how much cheaper it would be to fit air conditioning than pay the wages of engineers who are falling asleep on the job. One thing I don’t understand is why the managers don’t seem to suffer. I asked Billy, he just laughed and said managers like the heat, they’re all cold blooded.
A call comes in for my manager Doug but he’s not at his desk so I pick up the phone, something important has gone wrong. I’m too sleepy to understand the problem, but I promise the tech department I’ll skip into the manager’s afternoon meeting and pull Doug out to deal with it; while we’ve still got a few customers left.
Dragging my tired feet down the corridor I head for the front boardroom. From inside the room I can hear voices talking so I pop my head inside only to find a room full of giant serpents. There’s a sudden silence and a large Python says “what is it?”
Too sleepy to worry about being swallowed alive I reply, “There’s an urgent call for Doug, the tech department has found a serious problem with that new transformer.”
“Ok Mark” replies a nine foot Mamba, “I’ll be down in a minute”.
Closing the door behind me I suddenly recall what the head of human resources told me on my first day. “They may be a bunch of snakes, but their ok really.” Man I need a new job.
I’m awake, beads of sweat drip from my forehead. The sheets are clammy and damp, the air stifling; it’s been this way for weeks. The window is open but the curtains hang lank, there’s no breeze to relieve the discomfort of this endless summer heat.
In the darkness I lay straining for the alien sounds that disturbed my fitful sleep. A sudden flash of lightening briefly illuminates the room casting jagged demonic shadows across the walls.
I stare out into the room, my eyes hunting for imaginary assailants in the multitude of grey shapes. My mouth and throat feel dry as ash, and there’s that familiar metallic taste of fear on my tongue.
“Stop being daft, it’s nothing more than a storm” I tell myself, but it’s all in vain. The fear rises and I’m past listening to reason, just his voice ringing in my ears as they took him away. My stomach knots and twists as my hands clench the bed sheet uncontrollably. I want to run, crouch down into the corner and bury my head under the soft comforting laundry.
I need to control the panic before I loose myself to its paralyzing hold, so I clench my eyes tight shut and take a deep breath. I force myself to speak, “get a grip” I tell myself. My voice is alien to my ears, barely a hoarse croak. It’s not much, but it’s just enough to release my frozen body.
My leg uncoils to the edge of the mattress. I reach forwards grasping for the lamp on the bedside table. My hand strikes metal sending it spinning onto the floor, “Blasted thing”. I know I’ve got to move now while I still can. Launch myself out into the darkness of the room, I reach out with both hands and shuffle across the floor in the direction of the bathroom.
In the darkness my hand brushes the warm wood of the door frame. Breathing a sigh of relief I reach round and grasp the cord of the light switch. There’s a click and I blink, blinded by the warm yellow light I gratefully stumble forwards into the safety of the tiny bathroom. There I grasp the edges of the wash basin as if it can somehow protect me from the ghosts of my past.
Facing the stranger in the mirror I barely recognize the haunted eyes ringed by dark circles. Mia’s right, I need to see someone. I’m coming apart at the seams. Reaching over I spin the cold tap sending a flood of crystal water into the basin. Dipping my hands in I dash my face with the tepid liquid. Blinking the water from my eyes I reach for the towel. The material feels soft, it’s strangely comforting, and wiping my face I feel somehow calmer. Looking at the mirror I see just a hint of color in my cheeks. Maybe just a glimmer of my old fun self again.
The Lightening flashes through the window of the bedroom and the hair on my neck stands on end. Silhouetted in the door way behind me stands a tall hooded figure, his hand raised above his head. I see the glint of steel as the arm starts to descend towards me. In that split second my reflexes take over, throwing me to the left as the blade tears into my thin night shirts. It bites through my skin and scrapes over my shoulder blade. There’s no time to think of pain as his arm comes up for a second blow, he won’t miss again.
I’m going to die, I’m sure of it; the unfairness of my life overwhelms me in a flood of uncontrollable fury. Blindly I grasp the nearest object; the wall cabinet comes away in my small hands effortlessly, its fixings ripping through the fragile plaster board with a shower of dust. As the bladed hand falls to deliver the fatal blow I pivot round gracefully, cabinet held aloft. With a scream of pure hatred I throw it with every ounce of strength in my spindly arms. Crash, the cabinet slams into his head driving his skull against the door frame with a sickening crunch. The cabinet tears free from my hands, whirling off into the darkness of the bedroom, landing with a crash of breaking glass.
He stands over me as if suspended in animation. The knife drops from his gloved hand and like a house of cards, he collapses to the floor. Disbelief washes over me, it’s a trick; he’s going to jump up and cut out my heart just as he promised. Staring down into his soft brown eyes, I watch his life slip away leaving just an empty shell, and with a rush of relief that brings tears to my eyes I know I’m finally free.
There is a crashing sound of breaking wood from the hallway. A voice shouts from the darkness “It’s the Police, are you there Miss Tores”.
“I’m alright” I reply, but in truth I’m better than I’ve been in years.
Aiko stood in his garden basking in the early morning sun. The air was thick with the scent of Lavender, which he grew in window boxes around his small house. In front of Aiko’s house lay his garden. It had a perfectly trimmed lawn, surrounded by a bed of immaculately tended Violets and Hibiscus. Aiko took pride in the garden. When he moved in it was nothing more than a barren patch of dirt, but after many years of hard work and devotion he had managed to create his own small corner of paradise.
Although Aiko was fond of all the plants in the garden, his favorite was a small rose bush at the center of the lawn. The bush had never before raised even a bud let alone a flower. But this year Aiko’s care and attention had paid off. One beautiful red blossom had grown at the top of the bush. When it opened it was the most perfect bloom Aiko had ever seen, and he had wept for joy.
In contrast Aiko’s neighbor Katsu’s garden was a tangled mess of yellow roses and orange lily’s. While Katsu envied Aiko’s beautiful garden, he was too lazy to tend to his own, preferring to spend the day in the village drinking with his friends.
This morning as Aiko gazed on his paradise he noticed that the rose blossom had gone, and the stem where the blossom had hung was snapped cruelly. Aiko cried out in horror, who could have done such a thing. Looking around wildly he saw to his dismay, his red rose blossom, standing in a vase in Katsu’s front window.
Aiko held his head in his hands, tears streamed from his eyes. All the love and devotion had been to waste, his flower stolen from him. Heartbroken he forgot about watering his plants and went back into the house. Climbing into bed he pulled the white linen sheets over his head and cried himself to sleep.
When a rose blossom is cut, the plant will produce many more in its place. If only Aiko had known, he would not have given up on his garden leaving his plants to wither in the hot midday sun.
“Mr. Julios sent us to escort you off the property” said the tall man with a smile. “I appear to be lost, could you show me to the exit” I asked politely. “Our pleasure” he replied, as the four security guards rushed me.
Knocked to the floor with one of the guards kneeling on my face I heard the tall guy say “Show him the exit” with a sinister laugh.
Grabbing hold of me by an arm or leg each they dragged me across the roof, and as the guard rail got closer I realized that I wasn’t going to be leaving by the elevator.
“I don’t mind leaving” I said, ”but you can at least let me step out with some dignity”.
“Sure thing Mr. B” replied the tall man. With a nod from their boss the security guards dropped me and backed up into a semi circle.
I stood up calmly, ‘stiff upper lip’ I thought to my self as I adjusted my tie. “Give my regards to your boss” I said, “it was nice visiting but I really have to be going now”. Then with a nod to the guards I took a running jump out over the balustrade.
The world passed by at a dizzy speed as I plummeted towards the plaza. Grasping the lapels of my suit I pulled hard and felt the seam in the back of the jacket tear, then the sudden deceleration as the micro fiber canopy deployed from its hidden pocket in the lining of my jacket.
Looking back up at the building roof I could see small figures shaking fists in my direction. ‘Ah well’ I thought to myself, ‘just another day at the office’ as I floated south east downAyala Avenue
The Greenbank savings and loans company branch was the largest in the state. It was busiest on Fridays when businesses banked their takings and savers withdrew money for the weekends forage into the city. Today was Friday, and it was busy.
On a box in the center of the granite floor sat a single man in a business suit. Apart from being armed with a 9mm Uzi machine pistol, he looked to all intents and purposes a normal customer. The customers sat on the floor quietly, some wept, and others fidgeted. Close to the door lay the security staff Bill Prescott and Emily Star. The tourniquet on Emily’s leg had staunched the flow of blood but Bills chest wound was seeping badly. Despite the gunman’s best efforts to provide first aid, Bill’s time was running out.
Pale faced the young accounts manager Henry Ford pushed a heavy trolley into the lobby, “Here’s all the coinage from the vault sir.”
“Thank you Henry” said the gun man smiling.
“Do you require the money from the cash draws” asked Henry politely.
Peering at the sacks of small change the gunman shook his head with a smile, “no need to be greedy.” He stood up; opening his box he carefully placed the sacks inside.
Police chief Getts stood outside in the afternoon sun inspecting the calm facade of the bank, he was nervous but hid it well. Only his second bank robbery he was following the book, in such a small community mistakes would be hard to live with. Behind the cordon the press hounds bayed for fresh blood, on a slow news day even the national agencies had made the trip from their palaces in the city.
The police chief picked up the phone, screw the money, if he could get the hostages out that would be fine by him, leave the paper chase to the FBI.
“Hello?” said the voice from inside the bank.
“This is Police chief Paul Getts of the Greenbank police department, may I ask who I’m speaking to.”
“Call me David” replied the voice.
“Ok David” said the police chief “Has anybody been hurt?”
“Unfortunately the security guards require urgent medical care; I’d like you to send in paramedics.”
“I’m pleased to hear that” said the police chief relieved, that was the only good news he’d had all day; the nervous ambulance crew hurried into the bank.
The police chief picked up the phone again, “we’d really like you to release some of those hostages as a good will gesture.”
“How about letting me leave with all the money and a few of the hostages?” replied the voice laughing.
“No ones been killed, I can see the judge goes easy on you for the robbery;” the police chief said feeling uneasy, the guy was calm, too calm.
There was a few moments of silence then the voice spoke, “ok, I’ll surrender, I’ll be out in a minute.”
In the bank the gunman beamed broadly, “I think today you are fortunate, please stand and wait quietly until the police come for you, I’m going out to surrender.” There was an audible sigh of release from the customers, thankful that they would survive, and grateful the unbearable tension would be over. Quietly they got to their feet to wait for freedom.
The gunman walked out into the lobby, dropping the Uzi in the waste paper bin he strode forth blinking into the sunshine.
The police chief waited, the doors to the bank opened and a smartly dressed Middle Eastern gentleman stepped out. Raising his hands above his head he smiled and walked forwards. Across the country people cheered, friends and relatives smiled. As the long range lenses zoomed in expectantly to film the arrest they captured him mouth the words, “for the glory of Allah!”
The ground shook with the force of the explosion as the box erupted, atomizing the expectant captives in a storm of blood, metal and debris. A pall of dust swirled through the car park engulfing the police cars and press. It blocked the sun, and the sounds of the city; a minute’s silence before the panicked rescuers rushed in. But today there would be no survivors, no trials, only accusations and recriminations; and the gunman’s face, immortalized in a million vengeful minds.
“Well where should I start” I asked feeling embarrassed.
“Just start from the beginning” replied the main in the suit. He opened his notebook.
“After getting out of bed I…”
“No mate,” the man said interrupting. “Just take it from where you entered the tanning salon.”
“I went into the shop around eleven in the morning. Glenda asked me what I wanted.” The man interrupted me again.
“Glenda?” he said. Oh, the assistant. Just use her job title; it makes my notes easier to read”.
“Ok” I said and smiled weakly, “the assistant asked me what I wanted. I paid for twenty minutes in tokens for the sun beds. She said something to me, but I wasn’t listening as I got distracted by one of the other customers dropping her towel.”
The man raised his eyebrows and lifted the pages of his book to read some other notes he had made, “she told you bed number three was broken.”
Shrugging I continued, “I smeared myself with tanning lotion, put my tokens in the machine and climbed onto the bed.”
“Which bed?” asked the man.
“I don’t really know” I replied, “I wasn’t paying much attention.”
“It was bed number three” said the man puckering up his eyebrows, “but carry on.”
“Well I’d been out at a mate’s party last night, he’s twenty one. We went into town to that club Mr. Smiths and.”
“That’s ok mate, I get the picture” said the man interrupting me again, “lets not get side tracked.”
“Err right, anyway” I said continuing, “I was tired and I must have drifted off. After a while I woke up and my skin felt like it was on fire.”
“Ouch, first degree?” asked the man without even a shadow of a grin,
“No second” I replied.
“You look like your done to a turn” said the man gesturing at one of my arms,” you’d been on the bed for the best part of an hour and a half.”
“Well there was a horrible burning smell” I said shuddering at the memory,”I rolled off the bed. It didn’t half hurt I can tell you, I staggered out into the hall looking for some cold water.”
The man looked up from his notes, “go on, then what happened?”
“Well my eyes were watering so much from that pain that I couldn’t see; I went through the door to the showers desperate to get under the cold water.”
The left corner of the man’s mouth twitched, “you’d made a mistake?”
“Well it was an accident” I replied angrily, “how was I to know it was the ladies steam room.”
“Yer mate, an easy mistake to make” replied the man somberly, “so off you went into the steam room naked, what happened next?”
“Well” I replied wishing I didn’t remember so clearly, “there were screams and everything went mad. Someone punched me in the face and I fell on my backside.”
“In the charcoal pit?” asked the man.
“yes in the charcoal pit” I said with a groan.
“I’m sorry mate, your nose looks like it’s well broken” the man commented.
“To be honest” I said with a pained look, “what with the burn on my backside I hadn’t really noticed.”
“Well I get that” said the man, “anyway, what happened after that?”
“I’m not really sure” I said, “I slipped on some liquid on the floor and landed badly on my hip, my head hit the wall and I blacked out. Next thing I knew I woke up here.”
The man leafed through his notes, “ah I’ve got it; you slipped on the blood from your nose, broke your pelvis on the tiled floor and fractured your skull.” That sounds painful enough to be true I thought to myself. “So you’re thinking of a compensation claim against the tanning salon?” said the man pulling out his checkbook.
“Yes” I said nodding towards his cheque book, “you think my chances are good?”
“I wouldn’t know mate” he replied writing me a cheque for a hundred pounds, “I’m a journalist not a solicitor.” I’m not sure if I should be mad at him or not, but he’s just given me a hundred quid for doing nothing, while it’s not Jade Goody money it’s still better than barbequed buttocks and a fractured pelvis.
“By the way mate” said the man, “I’ve brought someone to meet you.”
“Well I can’t say as I’m looking at my best today” I replied sourly “so I hope its not more people coming to laugh at me.”
“No” replied the man with a smile beckoning to someone who’d been listening in round the corner, “it’s a friend of yours.” A girl’s face popped into view with a big smile, but I didn’t recognize her. Before my eyes her face dissolved into a puddle of tears. “What I look that frightening?”
“It’s terrible” she blubbed, “it’s all my fault.”
“Eh” now I was confused, “how’s that?”
“I dropped my towel and distracted you in the salon” she said tearfully.
“Oh is that all” I said relieved, “don’t worry about it.”
“No it’s not all” she said in a small voice as a fresh wave of tears washed down her face, “I spilled some lotion in the timer on bed three by accident.” Then in a very very small voice that I could only just hear she continued, “and I hit you in the nose and knocked you into the charcoal pit in the sauna.”
Behind her I could see the journalist’s pen at the ready, waiting for the fury to be unleashed. “Well” I said thinking about how good she looked naked in the salon, “you don’t seem to be having much of a day either.” Just then a nurse arrived with a pot of tea and some mugs. “How about a nice cup of tea then” she said to the girl, who nodded with a wet smile.
“Why not keep me company for a while” I added, “I’m bored off my trolley sat here on my own.”
“Yes ok, if you want me to” she replied with a smile that was as sweet as sugar almonds and cake frosting. You bet I wanted her to stay. While she only stayed because she felt guilty, she was the only date I was going to get while I still looked like kebab meat. If a sympathy date was all I could to get, I was just going to have to find it in my heart to live with it, who knows how guilty I could make her feel.
I’d not seen John for a while, so when he arranged to meet me in the pub after work for a drink it came as a big surprise when he turned up ten stone lighter. Even at school both of us had been singled out as the fat kids. Forget the glandular excuses, I liked cake and John was addicted to crisps.
“Wow John” I said, “you’re literally half the man you were.”
John laughed, “Yer looks good doesn’t it.”
Looking good was an understatement, I could barely recognize the man who’d been my only friend for the last fifteen years. His waist had shrunk from sixty inches to a mere thirty, his skin was tight and firm and the loss of body fat had revealed a right muscular physic.
“Do you fancy a meal” asked John, “on me of course?”
Facing another lonely microwave meal at home, I agreed at once. John led the way into the pubs eating area and we took a seat, perused the menu, and waited for our overenthusiastic waitress to appear.
A skinny waitress with tight buns appeared, “I’m Emily I’ll be your waitress, anything you require you just have to ask.” As she said “ask” I saw her wink at John and he returned the offer with a smile. “I’ll have a burger with all the trimmings” said John, “a pint of Fosters, and your number.”
“I’ll just have a chicken salad” I said, “and a diet lemonade”; what I really wanted was half a chocolate cake. After the meal we discussed life over coffee, “ok” I said, “I’ll bite, how did you do it? Is it diet pills, liposuction?” John assured me it was neither and invited me home, said it would be easier to show me rather than explain.
Back at his place he dragged out a weighing scale, removing his shoes he stepped on, twelve stone one point three pounds. “Ok you fat bastard, you want to know how it’s done? Look at the scales again. My face flushed red with the unexpected insult but my eyes remained transfixed on the scales digital readout. As if my magic the reading rolled back to twelve stone zero point four pounds.
“That’s impossible” I said completely flabbergasted, it’s a trick. But when I looked at Johns face I could tell he was deadly serious.
“I joined a weight loss club” explained John, “once you’ve signed up, anytime you’re unpleasant or cruel to someone else you lose weight. It sounds immoral but now I’m slim and can eat as much I like. I fired someone yesterday and lost the two pounds I put on this week after eating three pizzas last Saturday”. I must have looked doubtful as John asked me to go along to the club and sign up at the next meeting.
The meetings were held on Thursdays; as promised I arrived in a dusty poorly lit back street on time to find John was stood on the pavement waiting for me. I followed him into a nondescript building to find myself in a brightly lit office. In the reception area sat a number of couples, one fat, and one thin.
After a few minutes a tall elegantly dressed man appeared from a side room carrying documents and a pen. In his pin stripe suit he looked more like a solicitor than a dietician.
“Ok” he said handing out a contract and pen to each fat person, “hands up anyone who do
© Copyright 2016 MarkW. All rights reserved.
Book / Flash Fiction
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