Read, Write, Pass
TRIGGER WARNING: Contains strong language and themes of a sexual nature.
During the MA Professional Writing ‘Novel’ module, we created a selection of collaborative stories. We started, as you’d expect, with a beginning, then a middle, followed by an end (not forgetting the inciting incident, of course); we threw in a timer for some added pressure and learned what happened when seven writers try to write one story. Genius or nonsense? You decide. We certainly had fun and managed to write seven stories in just under an hour. Here is the fourth one.
Part Four: So, who’s in the bath?
Frank sat at the breakfast bar listening to the latest news about Brexit on the radio. He drank his cup of espresso in one go, then leaned back and flicked the switch on the coffee machine to dispense another cup. God, how he needed it! The last few days had been awful and he needed to find a way out but was stumped whenever he tried to think about how. The machine gurgled behind him. He hadn’t put the cup in place so the coffee dripped from the machine all over the floor. He thought he should get up and do something about it when he noticed movement in the garden. Carlo was moving awkwardly up the path with something large and heavy slung over his shoulders.
‘Open the bloody door,’ he shouted.
Frank merely showed Carlo his middle finger, not caring that Carlo swore loudly and dropped whatever he was carrying. All Frank cared about was the coffee pooled on the floor. Not noticing Carlo’s continued swears, he got a cloth from the sink and began to mop up the brown liquid. Dumping the cloth in the bin he put his cup in the correct place and smiled to himself as the aroma wafted up. His attention was drawn back to Carlo as he stormed through the door.
‘Why the fuck didn’t you help me?’
‘There was coffee on the floor.’
‘I don’t give a shit about the coffee. If you see a man with a dead body waiting to get inside, you bloody well help him them in!’
‘Killing Grandma was your idea, you can do the legwork.’
Carlo grumbled and began hauling the cadaver into the bathroom where he’d already assembled ground sheets, bleach, wire cutters and a hacksaw as well as a large, plastic refuse sack to put his clothes and shoes in before taking them to the incinerator at John-Joe’s scrap yard.
As he did so, he noticed a stranger walking up the garden path, kneeling to inspect what he now realised was a drop of blood on the front steps where he’d bashed Gran’s head on one of her many garden gnomes. The stranger wore short short despite the dull of the day, revealing muscular toned legs that did not seem to match the widened old white-haired head protruding from the other end of his body.
Carlo whistled. ‘Fuck me, speaking of legwork.’
Frank flew up to answer the door while Carlo laid Gran in the bathtub and covered her with a groundsheet.
‘Ah!’ said the old man. ‘You must be my soon-to-be grandsons.’
Frank gave him a puzzled look.
‘I’m Reggie,’ he went on. ‘Yes, that’s right. Your grandma’s fiancé.’ He stepped over the threshold without being invited in. ‘I have a surprise for your grandma,’ he said, ‘for Valentine’s day.’
He opened his duffel bag to reveal a sachet of lose rose petals, scented candles, and what Frank could only pray was a squash racket’s handle and not some implement of carnal satiety that the old creep had been planning to insert into his grandmother. ‘She’s supposed to be home any minute,’ Reggie said, stepping closer to Frank. ‘I’d better go scatter these rose petals about and go strip to my g-string and lay down.’ He tucked a twenty-pound note into Frank’s shirt pocket. ‘Make sure you’re not here when your nan gets back, you won’t like what’s gonna happen. Get yourself a couple of pints on me.’
Just then, a loud bump came from the bathroom. Reggie pointed at the bathroom door. ‘Tell him to fuck off too.’
‘I heard that,’ shouted Carlo, appearing at the door wearing goggles and rubber gloves, the acid hissing behind him.
‘Don’t forget to keep the teeth.’ The shrill request bounced up the stairs, preceded by a cloud of Vanilla Fields. ‘Always keep the teeth as they are fuckers to get rid of. Oh, hello Reggie.’
‘Is that the Reggie, Nan?’ Frank asked, raising an eyebrow as he searched his utility belt for pliers.
‘Yes.’ Producing a broom from behind her back, she promptly smacked Reggie on the head. ‘Fucking scented candles, again?’ she said, peering into his bag.’
‘I’ll take ‘em,’ said Carlo. ‘I actually quite like them.’
‘All right, Dear. Don’t forget his teeth too.’ She started to walk down the stairs. ‘Now, where are we at with Brexit?’
by Alison Frater, Yage Nieuwmeijer, Harry Webster, Alex Mawson-Harris, Evelyn Gascoyne, Nicki Wheeler and Amy Lilwall