Joe Berry, Private Investigator. That always grabs the attention. I'm a PI, but it's not as exciting as it sounds. No way. I say that with confidence as I stare out of the window of my detective agency into the overcast Hull night. That's right, Hull - the jewel in the crown of East Yorkshire. It's not a glamorous city, but it's where I lay my hat and I've just about scraped a living from this game over the last couple of years.
My agency is situated down one of the major routes that leads to the city centre.
It seems like I chose the most awkward place possible, nestled in between second-hand car dealers
and run-down drinking men's pubs, but at least the rent is reasonable.
Private investigation isn't a good career choice. I used to be an accountant, so I decided on a change, no further explanation necessary.
What could be more exciting than being a PI, I thought? Plenty of things could be more exciting than being a PI it would appear, accountancy for one. Most of my days are filled with form filling and serving legal documents on people.
If I'm lucky, and in need of some excitement, I might get to follow somebody's husband or wife for a few hours, usually while sitting in my knackered Vauxhall Corsa. As you'd expect from a man of my means, neither the heater nor the radio work anymore, but it does the job. If nothing else, it's inconspicuous.
A while back, Simon Brogan, a successful local businessman, paid me a visit. Being a prominent businessman in a small city such as Hull hardly puts you on a par with Alan Sugar or Donald Trump, but the man's money still demands attention. I knew that he made his money from owning a string of upmarket café-bars dotted around the city.
I know this because we started our careers together on the same day, just over twenty years ago, with the same accountancy firm. The fact he turned up for our meeting in a sparkling Mercedes convertible and parked it next to my beat up Corsa only served to underline how our career paths had diverged during this period.
I invited him in. He settled into the guest's chair in my tiny office.
'Drink?' I asked. I always keep a bottle of scotch in the office for visitors. Clients have come to expect it. I pour myself a Southern Comfort. It's not very manly, I know that, but every PI needs a quirk.
When people contact a private investigator, they have a definite idea of what they're going to find. I don't like to disappoint, so it's a rule of mine to always drink on duty and treat the client with just the right amount of belligerence.
'So, what can I do for you, then?' I ask Brogan.
'I've got a job I need doing.'
'Why me?' I say. I stare hard at him in the dim light. We've had more than our share of arguments and rucks over the years, so I'm curious.
Let's not beat around the bush, I'm extremely curious. Brogan and I hate each other and it had been that way since the day that we first met. It's what some people call a chemistry thing. To put it simply, we rubbed each other up the wrong way. We were in our late teens when we first met.
I was much more reserved than he was. I was probably naïve back in those days. I thought hard work and diligence would win the day for me, especially in a career that relied upon such skills. From that first day onwards, Brogan never missed the chance to 'network' as he called it.
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Escape By Merle R. Stone
Shock registered on his face as his mind raced and his vision blurred.
Maybe I could have been kinder, more loving.
Their history together ran uninterrupted on the viewing screen of his subconscious.
Standing out in stark relief, the happy times and the bad.
Must it end this way?
His knees grew weak, and his pulse quickened; he suddenly knew the answer.
Fiction - The Post Office of Doctor Moreau Part Two By Kenton Hall
Previously on The Post Office of Doctor Moreau...
Sandy (tears in her eyes): But, Jonas, I love you.
Jonas (squinting): I know that, Sandy. But you must know this. I can not love anyone. My life is one of danger. Of intrigue. Of brooding handsomely in wine bars.
Sandy (suspiciously): Uh-huh.
Jonas: Yes. I am a lone wolf,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Look Big In Ongar By Patrick Henry
George Osborne, brilliant young fiction-writer, distant relative of the late, explosive dramatist,
creates three archetypes of contemporary anti-heroes:
Rebellious John Major, absconded from circus tight-rope acts, become accountant, then,
incredibly, Foreign Secretary, Chancellor, and Master-Gourmet of the Hot-Curry-House;
William Hague, five-foot boy-wonder
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Problems From Home-Drinking By Patrick Henry
On foot loaded in wine-empties, bottle-bank replaced by a building-site; I tipped into a wheeler-bin nearby.
A woman emerged screeching I'd get her children taken into care: the bin-load proving her an alcoholic,
I fled next-door, a vet's surgery; a leashed pit-bull menacing; its contemptuous owner asking where was my
My rock-python too sick to travel,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Man vs Machine By Adam Atkinson
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, that's it, for the love of all that's pure and holy.
Human cattle subjugation shock in t-minus 5 seconds. Sod off! Does not compute.
I'll compute you, ya metal headed bast....
T-minus 1 second. [ZAPPPPPPPP] Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, pack it in.
Rebellion must be quashed, the mainframe must prevail.
Stuff the mainframe, I already know the bloody
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Animal Empire Strikes Back By Patrick Henry
From a small boat we looked around river-creeks for fresh-water crocodiles. A wealthy German had one brought aboard to sit on his knee; jaw bound with rope by the Aborigine crew; his glamorous wife photographing.
I criticised them all. The Abos protested they never hunted or ate these creatures, as many people do; now releasing this victim. I said they had
Fiction - The Post Office of Doctor Moreau By Kenton Hall
I was lying on my back - hands tucked neatly behind my head - and staring at the ceiling, where the Visigoths who had decorated the hotel room had utterly neglected to place a slow-moving fan.
Sometimes, a protagonist just can't get an even break.
I mean, I could feel it in my bones. I was about to be summoned on an adventure that would utterly and irrevocably
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Admission Cost By Patrick Henry
I hitched to The Edinburgh Festival, giving poetry-readings, arriving daybreak, sleepless, my literary hostess, Nancy, American, Gertrude Stein-monologuist, whirling me off to see The Festival Director, John Drummond; complaining about publicity, calling me as witness, newly arrived and bewildered. Wearily I agreed.
Nancy's salon lacked audience. One performance,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Head By Marc Heeley
The words that break free from a head, that's trapped inside a box on top of a wardrobe.
Feeling the words, the ones that fall on the skin, breathing down your neck and asking to be seen.
Odourless saliva soaked speech, without colour also. You know it's there.
The head no longer wants the words, they've been ejected.
The head now makes no sound, the words clatter against
Fiction - The Prodigal Son By Joe Hakim
stuck in my room again/ looking up at the blinds/ gaffa-taped shut, keep out the light/ single beam escapes through a gap/ one piece of light concentrating on the wall/ imagine it to be hot like a laser/ imagine the smoke rising up like a spirit/ but it's not there, not there at all/ it's only in my head/ only in my head
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Surfers on the Sofa By Gemma Durham
How hot is Hull? With it's seductive, cosmopolitan avenues, the chip spice, the late
taxi's always on the way. Ask someone from down south to sit on your sofa and you'd
think they would have a date in the ocean with a surfer.
Awards for the friendliest university, and a special up and coming indie rock scene that has hottened hull to the top.
Learning to speak Hull has
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Walking Into Doors By Nick Boldock
She squinted into the mirror and looked at the bruise around her eye. Already it was turning a sickening shade of purple. It throbbed when she prodded away at it. The thick laceration in her bottom lip was stinging as well, as she dabbed at it with a wedge of TCP-soaked cotton wool. She knew she ought to be more careful. Less clumsy, less thoughtless.
He'd say he was sorry,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The Graveyard Shift By Rich Mills
The taxi office is beige with nicotine and age.
Battling with the Sandman, my weapons of choice, cigarettes and coffee, dispensed from the
whirring-gurgling coffee machine. Of things I've done for money this is the lowest.
Six calls all night, only TV to numb the brain. Cups, and corners filled with cigarette butts.
I wait for the dawn.
Then my replacement comes on,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Big Slaughter By Kate Askin
As Big Slaughter housemate 'Little Wee' Jim gave a final tug on the
garrotte round the neck of the only other remaining contestant, he knew he had won...he knew...
He knew by the sound of that last gurgle...It came from the throat of six-feet-six
Thai hermaphrodite Om Lui (whose height was enhanced by foot-long calf extensions, no less).
He knew, by the last desperate,
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Debit Column By Patrick Henry
Raymond, abrasively-witty, biography-reviewing journalist, worked during endless pub-going; volumes under arm; notes mental or
beer-mat-jottings; from Five AM. around Smithfield Market, through mid-day Fleet Street, Soho; to evening Chelsea, exhausting his trail home.
Early hours meant snatched sleep and eating; columns grittily-written: cold turkey! Five A.M. his taxi
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - The 1st One Hundred Words Are The Hardest By Rich Mills
He'd started that first sentence many times, deleting it and starting over again.
The cursor blinked in the corner of the screen, taunting him, daring him to write something.
He stared at, became hypnotized by it. Time ticked by, blink, blink, blink.
His mind was just blank, blank, blank.
Then in a sudden rush to fill the white expanse with black he started banging away at
Fiction - End Of The Line By Nick Quantrill
This is how it happened...
I was driving down Lowgate. There's got to be a better way than this, I thought to myself. But then I saw her, clinging to a lamppost, holding her hand out as her friend tried to stop her from falling over. I indicated and pulled over; she would do nicely. Her friend bundled her into my car.
No respect for anything, least of all herself, I thought