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The International Writers Magazine
:
Two short stories by Mark Cunliffe

Two Short Stories
Mark Cunliffe

Lost In Fiction. Or…Robbed Of An Ending.

The shopkeeper was tired. It was 18:30 and he was ready to call it a day. He motioned for his assistant to lock the doors. As she moved forward the doors burst open and two balaclava clad figures forced their way in.

'Right!' yelled one of them, 'Gis the money and no one gets hurt!'. To make his point he brandished the rifle threateningly. The second thief ran to the till and began to empty it keenly. Coins flew out across the clean floor. The girl assistant screamed, and was immediately pushed into a baked beans display that had taken her all morning to set up.
'Leave her alone!' The shopkeeper yelled defiantly
'Or what Granddad?' said the thief at the till, spittle spraying through his balaclava.
'Yeah' sneered the gunman, the metallic rifle glinting from the strip-light as he brought it up to the shopkeeper’s face. The following minute seemed to last a lifetime as his finger toyed slightly with the trigger. Everyone held their breath…

The writer was tired and with a sigh stopped typing his story. He sipped at his cup of coffee and grimaced as he realised it had been there for over an hour. He looked at the clock on the wall. It read 2:30 in the morning, he was ready to call it a day. He yawned and saved the document; it could wait until tomorrow. He turned off the light and went upstairs to sleep.

The screen flickered on in the darkness. The words waiting…
'What do we do now bruv?' asked the one by the till
'I dunno!' said the gunman, his eyes still focused on the shopkeeper, 'I need to think!'
The shopkeeper gulped.
'Why don’t you go? No one’s seen you?' pleaded the girl assistant, getting up from the floor
'We came for the till, we can’t leave' said the man determinedly and he held on to his gun tightly.
'How much is in it bruv?' he asked.
'I can’t tell' said his accomplice hesitantly
'What?' he spat angrily
'Well, HE hasn’t written that bit yet has HE?'
'I can’t cope with this! How much did you take today Gramps?'

The shopkeeper licked his dry lips and summoned the strength to speak. 'I couldn’t say. Like he says, HE hasn’t wrote it yet'
'This is your f*****g shop!' he yelled and then stopped. 'What happened then?'
'I erm, don’t think you can swear in this story' offered the girl
'She’s right. And it’s not really my shop is it? I mean its HIS imagination. I’d rather be in a Catherine Cookson myself'
'Me too' murmured the girl, 'With a handsome soldier or -'
'Shut up!' snapped the gunman
'So what do we do?' asked his accomplice
'I don’t know' said the gunman through gritted teeth. 'I guess we wait for HIM. But I’m warning you lot, don’t start ok?'

They kept them hostage all through the night, whilst The writer slept soundly, a willing hostage to his dreams.

-------------------------------------------------

Blocked Advances

Guy Block is many things; a writer who lives up to his surname; a lecturer at a University that is not quite premier league, or division one; but above all a famed seducer.

Today is not his day.

Amelia Tripp is a delightfully pretty student in his English class, with an ‘oh so tempting’ little mouth. It was easy getting her to come out with him, but she’s not easy. Why won’t she play the game and succumb the way several others have?

It started on the way into town. Guy roared up to collect her in his restored MG. Now, Guy’s usual pattern is to caress the clutch manfully and explain all about the power this great beast has and she will listen intently. Not this time. 'My brother’s a mechanic, he specialises in restoration.' Damn.

Next stop, the art gallery and to Guy’s favourite new painter Damien Dirt.
'Of course the best thing about Damien is his broad brush strokes, his balls to you, manner. I love it' Guy spouted intelligently awaiting a discourse of the meaning of art, followed by a four-course meal, and, uh, extra-curricular relations. All was set.

'Yeah I love Damo' Amelia drooled, 'some friends and I met him last year in Paris and hung out for a few nights. He’s great. My friend Cynthia is still there'. Damn.

‘Lucky cow,’ Guy thought, ‘least she’s getting her end away. Come on, come on, gotta get her swooning soon, Block old buddy’

Stage three, back to the MG and hit the music. Dylan blasting out and a quick resume of the great poet’s career and what ‘Blood On The Tracks’ really means to Guy Block.
'I adore Bobby' Amelia swooned, why not swoon at me? Guy thought through gritted teeth.
'His stuff is so timeless, I’ve seen him four times since school' Guy was really peeved; he’d only seen him twice since the 1960s.

Finally Guy pulled up at the restaurant. They took a seat at the table in Guy’s preferred dark corner. Running a hand through his thinning long hair, with what Guy liked to call distinctive grey streaks, he nonchalantly rifled through the wine list. Here we go again.

'Oh yes a good choice. An excellent vintage, my favourite' Amelia crooned.
Guy then ordered his piece de resistance, guaranteed foreplay on a plate.

Would you believe it? 'I adore this meal, it’s daddy’s speciality. Did I mention my Father’s a chef?' No you bloody well didn’t.

It was nearing 9, and Guy hadn’t so much as a whiff of action. What was happening? Was he losing his touch?

Amelia rose, 'Thanks for a nice day Professor Block, I think I’ll get a cab home now. Oh just one more thing; If you want to teach me or impress me could you kindly do it in class? It’s what I’m in debt for'. And with that she was gone.

But for Guy Block, it was not a wasted day. He learnt that you can’t teach the young anything; they endure education to discover things themselves. Lecturers however, remain constant in the classroom.

© Mark Cunliffe February 2006
markbc@hotmail.com


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