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simon collis

musings of an omnivorous biped

Xenon

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/06/16
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XENON

“You put our money into what?”

“Xenon,” John replied, grinning, wiping his hand on his paint stained overalls.

“What, exactly is xenon? Don’t they make photocopiers?”

“It’s a gas,” John said. “Not a photocopier maker.”

Shannon sighed, turned round and took off her coat. It was enough to deal with having to try to make ends meet with John working only now and then as it was, but this was absurd.

“How much?” she asked, hanging her coat on the back of the door.

“Not too much,” he said. “Just a bit.” Read more

“It’s hot today,” Megan said.

“Hmm,” Eric managed to say, the melting ice cream occupying most of his attention. “It’s quite nice, really.”

“You only like hot weather,” she replied. “I’m sure you were a lizard in a former life.”

He took his attention away from the ice cream and flicked his tongue at Megan, who giggled.

“Besides,” she said. “You’ve got a sun hat.”

“You could have had one too,” he countered. “They weren’t expensive.”

“They were too small, though,” she replied, stretching an arm over the back of the bench. “It would have blown away by now.”

Eric crunched down the last pyramid point of the ice-cream cone and nodded.

“How about a boat ride?” he asked, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket and wiping his hands. Read more

Veronica

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/06/02
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Mitch first saw her at the hotel bar. She was a little shorter than him, maybe early twenties, short bobbed dyed blond hair, miniskirt, black high heels and legs that brought out the animal in him.

Hello, he thought, the wife’s away, and when the cat’s away, the mice will play, right?

He summoned the waiter over, pointed to the girl at the bar, and then made a drinking motion. The waiter nodded, and went up to the her. He talked to the woman, who ordered something – he didn’t see what – and they whispered conspiratorially. She clearly asked where it came from; the waiter pointed in Mitch’s direction. He raised his whisky glass and smiled and she grinned back and waved.

Half-way there already Mitch, he thought. This delicious little piece is going to be so nice. Read more

The paper jutted halfway out of the typewriter, four words black in the moon light:

THE QUICK BROWN FOX

At least this time, Daniel thought, he had managed four of his own words.

He sat there, in the gloom, looking at it. The sleek grey metal body looked darker in the moonlight, and the white letters on the black keys shone out. The “Olivetti” on the back plate was readable, but the “Lettera 22” was a little harder to see. Read more

The Onyx Ring

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/04/14
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“Don’t move, and you won’t get hurt.”

The sawn-off barrel of the shotgun waves an inch from the bald man’s face.

“I’m sure we can come to some arrangement,” he says, smiling.

“Just give me the money,” the man shouts. “I just want the money.”

“How much money do you want?” the bald man asks. “And why?”

The man with the gun narrows his eyes a little. “Why do you want to know?”

“Because, as I say, I think we can come to some kind of arrangement. A quid pro quo, if you like.” Read more

This is the third part in a trilogy. If you haven’t read them yet, then I recommend reading “If, Never” and “Jenkins Is The Problem” first…

“What’s this?” Eric asked, looking through the recent photos.

Lusha looked away from her canvas and back at the screen.

“Hmm?” she pondered. “Looks like the building over the road.”

“Not that,” Eric zoomed in, pointing at the screen. “Here.”

In the window, clearly visible now, were a man and a woman kissing.

“Oh yeah,” Lusha giggled. “Didn’t see that when I took it.”

“Knew that SLR was good,” Eric said. “Told you it was, didn’t I? Costs a bit but we’ve never had anyone return one yet.” Read more

Jenkins Is The Problem (If, Never part 2)

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/03/10
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This week’s story is a sort-of sequel to last week’s story – If, Never. You might want to read that first…

Francesca arrives at the office at half past seven. She is, if anything, slightly later than usual; as if she needed a traffic jam, today of all days. She opens the door to the office block using her card. Dolores, the cleaner, was still using the buffer on the faux marble floor of the lobby.

Come on Dolores, she thinks. Get on with it, please!.

“Morning,” she says, breezing past towards the lift. Dolores murmurs something unintelligible. She can feel the tension creeping up her, apprehension starting to bubble up into her consciousness.

What if she looks at my shopping bag, she thinks. What if she sees the bag, and wonders what’s in it?.

She presses the button to call the lift, trying not to fidget during the eternity before the doors open. She keeps hoping for her phone to beep, or for Dolores to say something, or really anything to happen to distract her, even just for a split second. Kevin wouldn’t text, of course. They have a “don’t text” policy, ever since that close call when his wife heard her text come in on his phone. He’d passed it off as work related, but still… Read more

If, Never

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/03/03
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I caught the bus at quarter to seven, as I normally do.

It’s the usual grey route to work. Grey tower blocks, grey concrete walls, grey gardens, grey weather.

And then we get to the first stop, and on she gets. I think her name is Jennifer: that is, I hope it is. She’s tall, willowy, with wispy golden hair and a laugh that can break a man’s heart. She sits next to me on the bus, and we flirt a little. She giggles, demurely, face partly hidden by one hand as with some kind of old fashioned modesty she has to hide her face, like she’s a heroine in a Victorian novel instead of a mobile phone shop customer service agent in a mini dress.

“Ticket please?”

I shake my head and look at the empty seat beside me. I reach into my pocket, draw out the season ticket and hand it to the inspector. He waves it against a machine that beeps, and he hands me back the card.

I look around again on the bus. There’s a row of seats facing sideways just in front of me, and the first one has a blind man with his dog.

I say blind, but we both know that’s a cover, of course. There’s exquisitely crafted surveillance devices built into his glasses and his dog is highly trained to sniff out explosives. He’s undercover, of course, and we both know it. That’s why he’s there. I’d reveal myself, if I had to, but I only know this because… well, let’s just say I’m involved. A little. Well, maybe more than a little. Read more

Cards

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/01/20
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CARDS

The noise of the club made it difficult to hear. Johnny tapped Rex on the shoulder, and shouted in his ear. “You got everything?”

Rex took off his glasses, checked the plastic film on the back of the lenses, pointed to them, then replaced them on his face, and nodded.

“You seem nervous,” Rex shouted back in Johnny’s ear.

“Yeah,” he replied, leaning over. “Just a bit.”

“Come on,” Rex said, beckoning. “Now’s not the time.”

The walked the usual route to the back of the club, and stood waiting at the entrance of the VIP bar. The security guard was busy dealing with a drunken businessman in a smart suit. They stood there, waiting.

“Eight months planning,” Rex whispered to Johnny. “We can’t back out now.”

“Yeah but…” Johnny’s mouth went dry. “Now it’s, y’know, tonight’s the night. And de Luca’s here.”

“So what?” Rex replied. “If he’s here it’s our best chance, we agreed that.”

“But you know… what happened to Frankie.”

“Yes, he’s had men killed for less,” Rex said. “That’s about the third or fourth time you’ve said that tonight.” Read more

Bernice

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/01/13
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Bernice sprinted out of the glass doors and pounded across the parking lot. She allowed herself the luxury of a glance at the glass-walled walkway between the two halves of the shopping mall, nodded, and started off again, running towards the crossing.

Officer Bostaph came out a few seconds later, following her trail carefully. As he ran, he watched her, concentrating on following where she went so as not to lose sight of her behind the bushes as she headed away from the mall.

What on earth is she doing going this way? he thought. What does she think she can gain from this?

And it occurred to him that he already had his answer in the shoes that she was wearing. Read more