Here you can find examples of some of my short stories, many of which are featured in ‘Mr Pinkerton’, 99p/99c @ amazon
What he had taken for a bundle of rags
suddenly began to move!
Andy ducked into the shop doorway just in time as the drizzle turned into torrential rain. The crack of thunder made him shudder and the following lightning suddenly illuminated the doorway revealing that he was not alone. What he’d taken to be a bundle of rags suddenly began to move, and the gaunt figure of a man stood up to face him with a hard stare from cold dark eyes. Andy shrugged the droplets from his Armani suit and pretended the other man didn’t exist. He couldn’t escape from the doorway unless he was prepared to get drenched to the bone.
‘I know you.’ The tramp’s voice was raspy and flat, without inflection or emotion. ‘But I bet you don’t remember me.’
Andy blinked, squinting to try and see clearly through the gloomy winter’s evening. A street lamp cast the only light; all the shops were in darkness, customers and staff long gone home to a warm house and a hot meal, he imagined. The tramp was about his own height and build but he could make out very little else. His lower face was covered by a dirty, matted beard and eyes obscured by long damp tresses of greasy hair. The tramp, he thought, could certainly benefit from a good hot bath. Andy was beginning to feel nauseous from the smell of dirty clothes, alcohol and body odour. It was impossible to guess the man’s age but he was certain they had never met.
‘I think you’ve got the wrong man, pal.’ Andy turned away to look again at the rain, hoping it had eased but if anything it was even heavier.
‘Andy Patterson, United’s best leftie since the 1980s.’ Of course the tramp would recognize him; his photo was always in the papers for one reason or another, documenting his prowess on the field and his antics off it too. The price of being a celebrity. Andy gave a forced smile; after all, a fan is a fan. He began fishing in his pocket to give him one of the signed photos he carried around with him and perhaps he’d give the old boy a tenner too, make his night for him.
‘We played together on St. William’s School under fifteens and after that we went on to the local youth team, remember? Good mates we were in those days, we dreamed big and played hard.’
Andy peered at the tramp trying to see past the disgusting beard and the layers of filthy clothes.
‘Ben? Ben Robson, it can’t be, surely not…’ Andy was astounded.
‘Yeah, it’s me. Surprised you remember now you’re such a big shot. I thought we were friends once. You were the brother I’d always wanted but I was expendable wasn’t I, just like Sally? Ever think of Sal, do you, my baby sister? You finished my career and ruined her life all in the same year, then left us both high and dry when you went off to be the next Wayne Rooney. Didn’t want to know Sal when she got pregnant did you? Sent your ‘agent’ to take care of it. Money is always the answer, isn’t it?’
‘Now hang on a minute, we were just kids! A baby would have been equally as bad for her as it would have been for me, it was the best solution all round.’
‘So your agent said. But you could forget; Sally couldn’t. She was devastated, never trusted anyone again after that. The abortion ruined her; she’s a mess, granted not in the same way as me, but a mess all the same.’
‘You can’t pin that on me! Look at yourself, what example have you been to her? Having a brother like you is more than likely the cause of any problems Sally has.’
‘True, I’ll give you that but how do you think I got to be like this? Memory failing you, is it? Let me remind you. It was that so called friendly game at the beginning of the season. We were both in line to be signed up for United’s youth team; my talent was every bit as good as yours but I was ‘loaned out’ to the opposing side for that match, remember, they were a man down?’
Andy did remember, all too well. If the light had been better the tramp would have seen the colour draining from his face. The guilt and shame of what he’d done had been pushed to the back of his mind, only troubling him on very rare occasions and soon forgotten with a couple of drinks under his belt. He’d twisted the facts so many times that he himself had begun to believe that he had no culpability in Ben’s accident. The tramp continued in his emotionless flat voice.
‘You had to show off, didn’t you? Your image was more important than fair play. I was your friend but you were determined to ruin me, to have all the glory for yourself.’
‘Now hang on a minute…’ Andy interrupted. ‘It was a legitimate tackle; I couldn’t have known what would happen.’
The tramp didn’t speak for a full minute, leaving Andy’s words hanging in the air, both men recognizing the lie.
‘You weren’t going for the ball, were you? Your kick was aimed directly at me. Did you hear the bone crack? I did, I can still hear it in my sleep sometimes. I was the best player on that field and you wanted me off so you could shine. Well you succeeded; you got me off permanently. I’ve never played again but you wouldn’t know that, would you? You left while I was still in hospital. Why was it that you never came to visit? We were friends, weren’t we? But I was expendable, someone to trample over on your way to the top.’
Andy was trembling at the tramp’s words. He wanted to turn away and hurry back to his penthouse flat and his cosy life but for some reason he couldn’t move, he was frozen to the spot, feeling the cold seeping through to his bones. He wanted to defend himself but couldn’t find the words. Shame and humiliation had taken hold of him; he wanted to apologize but that would be admitting his guilt. What did this tramp want? Why couldn’t he just turn and run for home?
‘I remember the pain, the agony of the injury and the knowledge that I’d never play again. Did you care, Andy? Did you ever for one moment regret what you had done?’
Andy’s discomfort was growing with every word. He had to try to put his slant on it.
‘Now hang on a minute I think you’re getting things way out of proportion here. Accidents happen, it’s fate, bad luck if you like, I had….’
‘You had what? A glamorous career ahead of you, money to burn, girls to fawn over you, cars, property? How much is it you earn each week, sixty, eighty, a hundred grand? That’s more than most people get in a lifetime.’
‘A footballer’s career is short, you know that, the money’s relative.’
‘Who are you to judge me? I don’t have to justify myself to you, look at you, a filthy dirty tramp, a drunken bum. You’re hardly in a position to criticize others.’
The tramp was still again, watching the angry tirade with his blank stare. A slow smile began to form on his lips. The light from the street lamp reflected from Andy’s Rolex as he waved his arms around in exasperation. He quickly pulled his sleeve down, embarrassed by the ostentatious possession. His anger was spent. He didn’t know what to do so reached into his pocket, changing to a more conciliatory tone.
‘Look, Ben, let’s not let this get out of proportion.’ He unrolled a wad of twenty pound notes and began to peel some off. Ben’s anger rose to the surface again,
‘Don’t you dare try to salve your conscience with money, I don’t want your filthy lucre!’
‘Don’t be silly, it’s a gift just a token, a little something to help you along. Take it, please.’
There was a piercing, feral scream like the cry of a wild animal. Andy took a moment to realise it was coming from the tramp who threw himself at Andy, knocking him against the plate glass window of the shop. Andy thought it would shatter with the force but it didn’t. He slid down to the wet pavement, feeling vulnerable and afraid as Ben towered over him. The sickly smell of filth filled his nostrils and he turned his head, shielding his face with his arms, fearful of what was about to happen. With another loud cry, the tramp stamped with both feet onto Andy’s legs, the swift movement powered by years of repressed anger, his aim as true as the talented striker he had once been. This time they both heard the cracking of bone and as Andy passed out with the pain, the tramp moved quietly away feeling for the first time in many years that justice had at last been served.