This week, I’m thrilled to introduce one of my amazing students, Viki Allerston. It’s her first time in my Guest Writer Spot.
Here ‘s a little bit about her in her own words:
‘I have been telling and writing short stories most of my life and have had a degree of success. Then I started a ‘Writers Bureau’ course for article writing and quickly had two articles accepted in a leading magazine. Their cheques paid for the course!
‘But my first love is writing stories and in order to get back into doing that I have started the ‘Writers Bureau’ fiction course. Esther is my tutor. I also started a novel a few years ago. Life changes got in the way and it was shelved for a long time. But those characters still walk beside me, demanding their story be told. I owe them that and want to finish it.
‘I am often asked where my ideas come from. Quite simply they are all around. Eaves-dropping on buses and in supermarkets, chatting to strangers or just visually noting little incidents helps a lot.
‘By returning to a structured course, my enthusiasm has reignited.’
Now for her entertaining story:
BAD BOY BORIS
As I donned my coat and boots and tucked my wayward hair into a woollen beret, I was aware of his black eyes staring at me, a drool covered tongue hanging from his mouth with its rotting teeth. I could read that look.
`No-o-o-o’ I bellowed, `don’t you dare!’
Grabbing his lead, stopping only to check my yale key was around my neck, I yanked him through the door and safely outside.
If I’m being honest, I am not very fond of my own company. But I like it less when undesirable company is foist upon me. When the phone had rung on Tuesday, I’d known instinctively who it was; when it’s Sharon it sounds different somehow; more strident. Any call from her would not be to my benefit.
`Hello, Sharon,’ I’d said cautiously, ` how are you?’
`I’m in love!’ she had warbled, her delight flooding down the line. ‘His name’s Tom.’
I’d rolled my eyes heavenwards, `I thought that was Paul,’ I’d said, unable to suppress my sarcasm, ’or was it Kevin?’
`Them? Both Users. Wanted to get the bit of money I had from my divorce,’ she’d retorted. `This is real love, Auntie.’ Her voice had taken on a dreamy note. `I’m taking him to Scotland on holiday.’
`You’re what?’ I’d squeaked unable to keep my voice level.
`He’s special,’ Sharon had replied defiantly. `We leave Thursday.’ Her voice had softened as she wheedled. `But there’s Boris…’
`No!’ I’d snapped, `I told you, never, never again.’
`He’ll be company, Auntie. You say you’re lonely…’
`Not lonely enough to need a companion like Boris,’ I’d retorted.
`You don’t want me to be happy. Can’t you be pleased for me?’ The icicles in her tone had tinkled as she spoke.
`You’ve given no warning,’ I’d muttered lamely.
`Yes. In the morning,’ she’d said, deliberately mishearing, `see you then.’
`No,’ I’d replied, speaking to the dialling tone.
I’d thumped the table in rage. I hated Boris and hadn’t recovered from his last visit. I’d looked around my shabby room. Re-emulsioning would cost less than a Scottish holiday. I’d crushed the thought as it was born; you don’t keep in touch with your younger relatives just so they’ll care for you in your old age. You do it because it’s a final link with your late husband.
I’d risen early in preparation for my unwanted companion. While the kettle boiled I’d put the biscuit-barrel and the fruit bowl in the cupboard. Pouring the water onto the teabag, I’d looked around. What else? The table- cloth; I’d folded it and put it in the drawer. The vegetable basket. I’d put it in the bedroom shutting the door firmly, doing the same with the bathroom door, determined this time the sitting room with its kitchenette would be the only room disgusting Boris could enter.
The doorbell had rung. Sharon had bustled into the room, her presence filling it. I’d gagged slightly at the overwhelming smell of inexpensive perfume.
`Here he is, Auntie. Be good, Boris.’
She’d gazed down at the brown scruffy-coated dog. Boris wasn’t looking at her; he was staring at me, his black button eyes locked with mine in mutual hatred. I’d turned to Sharon.
Her skirt was short and tight, her heels high, the make-up thick, the eyelashes unbelievably long and lips unnaturally red. The bottle-blonde hair was cropped and gelled into spikes. She wore a short jacket that could have been made from one of Boris’s ancestors. Sometimes it’s hard to believe this is the delightful niece I’d inherited when I married my Ted. As she’s become older she’s changed and definitely takes after my least likable out-laws.
Sharon dumped the basket containing Boris’s lead and a blanket, as smelly as its owner, plus a bag of tins and bowls, on the floor.
`Can’t stop, Auntie. Got to pack.’ She’d air-kissed my cheeks and swept out leaving a stale cloud of perfume and hair lacquer behind her. Throughout the brief visit she had avoided eye contact. I’d known she was up to something but it was the least of my worries. Boris and I just glared at each other.
Thursday. We entered the lift which chugged arthritically down three floors. The graffiti painted door of the building spewed us out into a biting wind and I dragged my reluctant charge across the road to the semi-bald patch of grass incongruously called Paradise Gardens. We stomped around for ten minutes when Boris decided he’d had enough and dived back across the road dragging me along.
It was good to feel the warmth of the flat but as I turned from hanging up my coat Boris was squatting in the middle of the room. I cursed as he deposited the steaming pile he had refused to leave in Paradise Gardens. I grabbed some plastic bags, cleared it up, knotted the tops and put them in a carrier by the door ready to take to the dog bin next day. Disgusting task completed, I turned in time to see the wretched animal cock his leg against the cupboard.
`Bad boy, Boris,’ I shrieked as angry tears flowed down my face.
Friday evening – action replay.
Saturday was raining so I placed a layer of newspapers inside the door before we left. On our return the lift refused to climb above the second floor and we staggered up the final flight. As I opened the door, Boris leapt over the newspaper leaving wet prints across the floor. While I phoned the lift company, he gave himself a hearty shake leaving freckles of mud over the walls. By Sunday night I was exhausted. Boris was an expert at flicking my newspaper floor coverings to one side in order to do his business directly on the floor. I was counting the hours until… When …? Sharon hadn’t said exactly how long he was staying. And I was running out of plastic bags.
`Morning, luv,’ chirped the lift repair man on Tuesday. Charlie and I have become friends as I’ve called him out so often. `See you’re lumbered with the tatty teddy bear again.’
I grinned weakly. Boris snarled.
`Postman’s been,’ added Charlie.
Taking my mail from the communal box I binned the junk, shoved a postcard into my pocket and Boris and I sallied forth into bright sunshine. By the end of Tuesday the lift was working and being resigned to Boris’s lack of social etiquette I cut our perambulations to five minutes – just to say I’d tried.
Next day I tiptoed from my room, Boris lay on the floor. Quietly I made my tea; no point waking the blighter prematurely. As I sipped I looked at him; he hadn’t moved. He received a cautious prod from my foot. Nothing. Bravely I prodded his private area quite hard – something I had wanted to do for ages. No response. Donning my glasses I peered closely. No sign of breathing. I suppressed the little bubble of joy that threatened to explode; it was not an appropriate reaction to tragedy.
I wondered what to do next. Sharon’s mobile went straight to voice-mail. I didn’t leave a message; it’s not the way to learn your dog has died. Next I thumbed through Yellow Pages and found the mobile number of a vet who agreed to call on his way to work. He was a greasy individual in a grubby mac who peered myopically at Boris and delivered his verdict.
`Yer dog is dead. Forty pounds call out fee.’
In the bedroom I opened my cash-tin and extracted four ten pound notes and returned to the kitchen. He accepted the money and turned to leave.
`What about taking him?’ I asked.
`Don’t do collections. Ring these people.’ He gave me a card advertising pet cremations and left.
`Yep, can fit him today if you get here before two,’ said the voice, `Collect? Nah, you bring ‘im in. It’ll be a hundred quid.’ The line went dead.
I threw a towel over the corpse. I may have hated Boris but I didn’t want to look at him like that. I sat on the bed, leaving the door open simply because I could. The Crematorium was two stops on the train. How on earth could I transport him there? I remembered the suitcase in the wardrobe. It was floral plastic with a pull-out handle and a pair of wheels, one of which wobbled. Perfect size.
Shoving the body into a bin-liner I struggled to cram it into the suit-case. It was a tight fit but I managed with a lot of pushing and finally zipped it up. A hundred pounds seemed a lot of money but I don’t know about these things. I knew it would leave a massive cavern in my budget. Reluctantly I put the money in an envelope, and tucked it in my bag which I wear satchel-like, grabbed the case handle and set out. Once in the street I felt Boris glowed through the plastic sides of the case and that everyone knew what I was towing. In reality no-one gave me a second glance and gradually I relaxed.
I was lucky with the train; it stood there as though waiting for me but I had to quicken my pace and was grateful to the young lady in a blue track-suit who lifted the case onboard for me. She lifted it off the other end.
`Phew, what have you got in here? A body?’ she smiled.
Oh, lady if only you knew…!
At the barrier I took my ticket from my pocket and with it came yesterday’s forgotten postcard. First class stamp – not like Sharon! The picture was of Gretna Green with Saturday’s postmark. The message was brief.
`Dear Auntie, married today, flying to Paris Sunday. Love, Sharon.’
Married!! Just two days after she’d seen me! It must have been booked for weeks; she just hadn’t wanted me there. No wonder she’d seemed shifty.
`Difficult getting a case through the barrier,’ the track-suited lady stood beside me, `let me help.’
Why couldn’t my own niece be this kind? I passed her the handle and stared numbly at the postcard.
`P.S. Tom hates dogs. I’m giving you Boris as a present.’
The lady was through the barrier. She turned to me.
`Stupid cow’, she smirked `never trust your luggage to a stranger.’
As she dived away through the crowd there was an odd sensation in my cheeks; my long-unused smile muscles were creeping into action. A hundred pounds was safe in my shoulder-bag. No more Sharon. No more Boris. I had just had my final view of his plastic floral, wobbly-wheeled coffin.
To be honest, I think I’m going to be very fond of my own company!
If you’d like to see your work in my Guest Writer Spot, please contact me here or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. I accept stories, poems, articles – in fact, anything and everything. All you have to do is make sure your prose is no longer than 2000 words and your poems no more than 40 lines.