Short Story: The Mystery At Hammond Mansion Part 1 (Of 5)

 

 

Picturesque. That was the word that the locals used to describe Hammond Mansion. And it was quite a splendid establishment. Regally standing on the hill alone. It was a feast to everyone’s eyes including Inspector Emment Corrigan as he arrived following the murder of a woman Marie Hughes who worked as a housekeeper at the house. The family was assembled in the living-room awaiting his arrival. He scanned the room, accepted a cup of tea from a female worker at the house and made pleasantries while inwardly sizing up the suspects. There was father of the house Marcus Hammond, late 50s, walked with a cane and had rosy red cheeks that Emment guessed must be high blood pressure, drink or a combination of the two, mother of the house Mary-Anne Hammond, mid-fifties, extroverted to the point of irritating with an apron with printed granny smith apples, eldest son Gregory Hammond, late thirties, a very serious-looking man whose profession was a doctor, Gregory’s wife Emilia, late thirties, very prim and proper and whose profession was a professor at a prestigious University in Dublin, the only daughter of the family Charlotte James, early thirties, homely and bubbly and owned her own restaurant, her husband Mitchell James, mid-thirties, jolly-looking and owned the restaurant with Charlotte and youngest son Alexander Hammond-Kelly, late twenties, very proper and assertive and whose profession was a lawyer, his husband Josh Kelly-Hammond, late twenties, introverted with a sincere smile and whose profession was in question but Emment was sure he’d seen the name before somewhere.

“Who lives in the house?”, Emment asked.

“It is only Mary-Anne and myself since everyone flew the nest. It has been a massive shock to us all. The woman had been here just a few short months. She had great references and all. We think it may have been a burglary that went wrong or something of the sort …”, Marcus answered.

“Nothing was taken Mr. Hammond.”

Marcus Hammond went pale.

“Well I can’t think what this man could have been after. Maybe she was seeing this chap and he was a violent sort.”

“Was there anyone with a grudge against …”

“I have no idea. We didn’t know the girl that well. She just worked here.”

“No, Mr. Hammond, I was going to ask if there was anyone with a grudge against any of you?”

At this question each member of the family paled.

“But why would this man kill the girl if they had a grudge against any of us?”

“I don’t know. It’s just a theory. Maybe this man came with the idea to kill … someone else and Marie Shepherd interrupted him.”

“So you’re sure it’s a man?”, asked Josh.

Emment hadn’t really considered this. Statistics-wise most killers were men. He had just assumed they were looking for a man.

“Well … come to think of it, no.”

“So it could be a woman or a non-binary person?”

Non-binary? This was all new to Emment. Alexander rolled his eyes.

“Josh, non-binary only exists on Tumbler.”

Josh rolled his eyes.

“No Alex, it doesn’t.”

“Well in any case, has anyone a grudge against any of you?”

“Inspector, we are a very respectable family …”, Mary-Anne began and looked sideways at Josh.

“For the most part in any case, we have excellent breeding. No one could possibly have a grudge against any of us. This incident is simply unfortunate but we know nothing to help you in your investigations in that line.”

Josh looked like he was about to say something but stopped himself.

“Well Marie then, could I have a list of her references?”

“Of course.”, Mary-Anne replied walking over to a cabinet and taking out Marie’s CV and cover letter.

She handed them to Emment and he briefly scanned his eyes over the contents. Very well-qualified but appeared just like any CV or cover letter. He thanked Mrs. Hammond and made his exit ensuring them he would find out who did this.

As Emment stood on the steps he looked at the CV and cover letter. Josh came out and lit up a cigarette. He offered Emment one but he declined as he didn’t smoke.

“No, neither do any of them.”, Josh smiled.

“Apparently it’s a very working-class trait.”

Emment just smiled. He had already worked out that Josh was working-class in a way of each class knowing one from their own class almost instinctively.

“What do you do? If you don’t mind me asking …”

“No, of course not. Inspired by Frankie Merlo I’ll say I sleep with Mr. Hammond-Kelly.”

Emment looked confused.

“Like Frankie Merlo said about Tennessee Williams to John Warner I sleep with Mr. Williams …”

Realisation dawned on Emment.

“You’re a writer?”

“Well I say writer, technically to everyone else I’m unemployed.”

“A Youth Took Over By The Church?”

Josh looked chuffed.

“You read it?”

“It was very good.”

Emment would have said so even if he thought it wasn’t but in reality he had found it a very good read and mentally he instantly put Josh down as incredibly opinionated and incredibly modern.

“How did you get in with Alexander?”

“Someone like me?”, Josh smiled, taking a drag on his cigarette.

“No, I didn’t mean …”

“I know you didn’t … well do you remember the Murphy/Barry case?”

“Vaguely.”

“Well Adam Murphy was accused of murdering Lucy Barry …”

“In her Dublin flat?”

“Yes, my blog followed the case with major interest and Alex was representing the prosecution.”

“So yous’ sided together and love blossomed?”

“No, not in the slightest. The man was sentenced ten years ago but he didn’t do it. There was no evidence bar the Barry family, rich as fuck, insisting he was the last one to see her alive.”

“So who do you think done it?”

“I don’t know but it wasn’t Adam Murphy.”

Emment almost asked how he could be so sure but refeigned. Asking a writer that was like asking if the sky was blue. Instead he tried a different tact.

“Do you like the Hammond family?”

“I adore Alex obviously and our son Leo. Otherwise they don’t like me, I don’t like them but we co-exist and tolerate each other.”, Josh replied, matter-of-factly.

“Your son?”

“Yeah, he’s 8. We adopted him three years ago. Everything’s great expect he’s in a Catholic school but hey, you can’t have everything.”

“The Hammond family is Catholic?”

“Yeah. I get it, I was raised Catholic but I became atheist must be coming on eight years ago.”

“And the woman who was killed …”

“Was Catholic.”

That hadn’t been what Emment was going to ask but it was interesting to him that Josh knew this. He must have knew her better than the rest of the family to know her religion. He had been simply going to ask if he’d seen anything suspicious.

“How … how do you know that?”

“She was a writer too. Wrote all these rousing Catholic yolks on the internet. Not that I killed her, I believe in freedom of speech. But on the other hand she might have done me in long ago.”

“How?”

“Well she told me, while holding a knife mind, that I ‘better stop with my ramblings’. I continued on with my ramblings.”

Although Josh was firmly establishing himself as the prime suspect, been a police officer for almost ten years taught Emment that a killer tended not to incriminate themselves. On that basis he was taking Josh off the suspect list. If anything he could help him in his enquiries. He didn’t stick to the ‘everything is wonderful with the Hammond family line’ and he seemed a nice guy who you could have a drink with. He was down-to-earth and Emment hadn’t felt a lot of that at Chez Hammond.

Josh stamped out his cigarette.

“Josh, what were you going to say earlier?”

“I was just going to say that a murder is not an unfortunate incident. Marie and me, though we didn’t like each other, had one thing in common. We were both working-class. Her death is more than an unfortunate incident.”

He bid Emment farewell and went inside.

Emment entered his flat where he lived with his girlfriend Janet. She made them both a cup of tea as they settled down to talk on the sofa.

“So are they snotty buggers?”, Janet asked.

“Well yeah. Except Josh. He’s our background.”

“The youngest lad’s hubby? Wow, he done well.”

“He waffled on about non-binary at some stage. That was the only highfalutin reference he made …”

“Highfalutin? Sure that’s only both gender or neither.”

Emment raised his eyebrows.

“You think I’m thick, don’t you?”, Janet smiled, sipping her tea.

“I didn’t know what it meant.”

Janet said nothing.

“Well I know what it means. Anyways, who looks likely to have done it? And don’t say Josh. I like him already. Didn’t he write that thing?”

“A Youth Took Over By The Church?”

“That’s the one. Fabulous.”

“Well no, I don’t think he did it. But otherwise I’m none the wiser. They are very tight together. The mother, she’s telling they are a respectable family and have no enemies.”

“Oh well in that case they have loads!”, Janet laughed and Emment secretly agreed.

My Short Story Collection Now Available On Amazon!

 

 

My short story collection All You Need Is Love: Short Story Collection is now available to buy on Amazon. There is six stories in it: a longer short story and five shorter ones. I enjoyed putting and hope that everyone will enjoy reading it too. 🙂

 

To purchase All You Need Is Love: Short Story Collection go to:

My New Book Rory Murphy Mysteries: The Church Murders Is Up On Amazon!

 

I have always been a huge Agatha Christie fan and love a lot of amateur detectives. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at doing my own detective series. And this is the first in the series! 🙂

Entitled Rory Murphy Mysteries: The Church Murders the book centres around my amateur detective Rory Murphy and his boyfriend Joseph, his friend Steven and Steven’s boyfriend Simon as they investigate three murders where the bodies are found on Church alters.

Hope you all like it and it keeps you guessing.

To purchase Rory Murphy Mysteries: The Church Murders go to:

 

 

Short Story: The Weekend

Whenever I hang out with Andy I feel like my blood pressure is going to explode. Sometimes I wonder why I do it to myself but when you are friends with someone and they are the brother of someone it takes a lot to say no. You can’t always be washing your hair after all. But as an open-minded pansexual man it takes a lot of strength to go for the weekend to see my bestie Jim’s bigoted brother who has a bigotry against anyone who isn’t a white heterosexual cisgender man. The fact that I’m slightly in love with Jim is the reason I’m sitting in the passenger seat of Jim’s car on a lovely sunny Friday afternoon making the hellish journey to see the bigot who doesn’t like to be called or thought of as a bigot. What a surprise! Most bigots don’t like to after all. It’s apparently his religion or whatever the latest excuse he can dig up is. Jim has 98FM on as we continue along.
“Andy’s new wife Alma will be there. She’s nice.”, Jim informs me.
“Cool.”, I reply although I’m secretly wondering if Alma is as evil as her new husband.
Jim seems to sense this.
“They have their beliefs …”
“Did I say they didn’t?”
“No but when Andy says things you get into it with him. He’s entitled to think what he wants. It’s freedom of speech.”
“Those old chestnuts. I’m entitled to think what I want too and last time I looked I had freedom of speech too. So if Jim wants to say something and I say something back to him, what’s the problem exactly?”
“But you could let it go.”
“Jim, I’m pansexual and normal-thinking. I couldn’t let it go. Anyway why are you trying to shut me up? Isn’t your brother 36? Don’t let Andy face any consequences sounds like he’s 2 and in a playschool.”
“He doesn’t mean it. He doesn’t understand.”
“As I said, is he 2? Of course he understands. Look I adore you Jim but you haven’t got some sympathising eejit in this car with you. I have no problem with him been heterosexual …”
“But that’s different.”
“How is it different?”
“Because … because it just is.”
“What a great answer? It just is.”
“Heterosexuality was thought of as the one true norm …”
“Well it no longer is. The sacred cow has been dismantled. Look I’m not going to have a row out of nowhere with him but if he says something I’m not going to baby him. I’m not in the habit of doing that with men ten years older than me.”
“But it’s his religion.”
“And it’s my sexuality. At the very least mine exists.”
“Oh my god Ryan.”
“Oh my god what exactly Jim? Does he know you kissed me twice?”
“They were once-offs.”
“I’m aware. And I’m fine with that. But he’s not more important than me.”
“I didn’t say he was.”
“Yeah, you kind of did.”
“How?”
“Well he can say what he wants but if I challenge him then I’m a troublemaker. I would have thought when he unleashes his poison first that would mean he was the troublemaker.”
“Can’t you two just get along?”
“Not while you and him and Alma now are treating me like a second-class citizen?”
“We aren’t.”
“What are you all treating me as then?”
“Ryan, you are been too much about this.”
“My point proven.”
“What do you mean?”
“If I’m been too much standing up to someone having a problem with my sexuality who I have no problem with their sexuality then what exactly would you be saying? Jim, you want me to make compromises to him. What else would you be thinking?”
“Don’t be pulling the sexuality card. You know I love you man.”
“The sexuality card? There’s another old chestnut. Should be a fun weekend.”

When we arrive Alma has tea and buns on the table for us. Andy comes in and gives each of us a hug. I can see in his eyes that he doesn’t see me as Ryan. He sees as pansexual Ryan. So for the hell of it in my head I see him as heterosexual Andy. By 6pm when the tea is over, Andy is talking to me about the Bible. He’s quoting things about homosexuality been a sin, women should be submissive and protests are wrong. He asks me what I think? almost with eyes that say he wants to help.
I don’t need your help thanks very much mate. But I think you need a lot of help.
“I think it’s all shit Andy.”
He looks hurt.
“But this is the Bible. Came from God …”
“But did it really? I mean I’m more thinking somebody who was rejected for sex or something by someone in a minority group went home and ranted and raved.”
“You need to bring God into your heart …”
“I used to be Catholic. I always believed God didn’t write it anyway because a good person wouldn’t. Now that I’ve looked into Science more I’m seriously worried what type of yolk wrote it.”
Well he wanted to know what I thought.
“God can save you …”
“I don’t want to be saved.”
“This is what God taught …”
“I don’t want to be saved by a bigot … non-earthly or earthly.”
“That is blasphemy! God is your saviour!”
His veins are bulging out of his neck.
“He ain’t mine.”
You want to save someone pal, go and save some endangered animals. Send petitions with me on the web or something. Stop trying to save people who don’t need to be saved.
He forces himself to relax. He goes back to the good Christian act.
“You might end up in hell.”, he says with a serious face.
Out of politeness I don’t laugh.
“I don’t believe in it. Or heaven or purgatory. I think they are just things to try and rule how people live.”
“So you have a problem with Catholics?”
“Dude I haven’t a problem with anyone of any religion or lack of religion. I have a problem with people who are prejudiced of any religion or lack of religion. My ex boyfriend Carl was a Catholic. Not him or his family who were also Catholic had any problem with anyone. It’s funny how some people who are Catholic do and some people don’t, ain’t it? Same with older people. Some do, some don’t. It’s sad really how everyone sometimes is tarnished with been prejudiced when they may not be because so many put up shields.”
“I’m not prejudiced. It’s the sin, not the sinner.”
“Do you want my opinion?”
“I’ll listen.”
“With prejudice the sin shows you who the sinner is. But do I think they go to hell? No, there’s no justice. We all end up the same. Bones and grains of dust. A group of insects nibbling at our clothes if we are buried. All there is is now.”
And you won’t take my now away from me.
“Are you in love with my brother?”
An unexpected question. He’s left God and rejoined the earthly world.
“He’s a good friend …”
“Have you been corrupting him?”
Corrupting? Is he serious?
“I haven’t fucked him if that’s what your asking.”
I’d remember that! By god I would!
“He’s a good young man …”
“And if he was with me he wouldn’t be?”
“He needs to be led to the right path.”
For five seconds I stare. The right path? For another five seconds I wonder if I’m in the presence of an evil man or a man who is very unwell. I decide he’s both.
“There’s no such thing. Everything’s the right path.”
“In these modern times things have gone all wrong …”
“You’ve lost your power to decide peoples’ lives, is it?”
“Since our parents died, little Jim is all I have.”
“Little Jim is a man of 25 well capable of making his own decisions. Is that what scares you?”
“He has confessed to having strong immoral feelings for you.”
Halle-fucking-lujah! I’m so on a shocked high that the old bigot’s words are barely audible.
“Well they ain’t immoral but does he?”
“You have been changing my brother. He used to be a wholesome man …”
“Andy, people fall in love, people like sex. He didn’t stand in the way of you and Alma, why are you trying to stop his happiness? I will make him happy if he wants me.”
And I fucking love him too. That’s why I’m sitting here with you you plonker!
“It wouldn’t be right. You both need to learn the right way …”
“No, you need to learn the right way. Educate yourself. Learn that there is people different than you and that’s ok. Stop hiding behind that goddamn book and destroying your brother’s life in addition. He loves you. He wants you to be a proper older brother, a proper fucking adult but you can’t bring yourself to be. Everytime you have a problem you blame God. Heck, I have more respect for God than you and I don’t even believe in him. I am going to ask Jim to marry me. Maybe he’ll refuse out of loyalty to you but I’ll ask him.”
A voice came from behind the wall.
“I wouldn’t refuse.”
I looked up to see Jim looking from behind the wall of the room. He looked terrified.
“That’s why you wanted us to get along?”, I found myself saying.
I turned to Andy.
“If you could find it in your heart to try and accept …”
“No, stop. Ryan you don’t need to do that for me. Andy, I’m bisexual and I am in love with Ryan. It would be nice if you were alright with it. But you don’t need to be. I have hiding who I am, denying it to myself because you told me it was wrong. But I can’t do it anymore.”
“He made you this way …”
“He didn’t make me anything. He just made me realise who I am. You and Alma aren’t more right than us. Or anyone of any sexuality. Just different sexualities. If you think yous’ are that’s problems yous’ need to deal with. In the meantime I’m marrying my boy if he’ll still have me after pulling him down here so often.”
I’d have you no matter what.
“Ah I suppose I’ll still have you.”, I said casually and Jim laughed.
He pulled me into his arms and kissed me. While Andy was still trying to pull the tired old Christian act of keeping us up in the house despite what he called the “immorality” of it all, we left before the night was out to start our future together. Ah maybe it was a good weekend after all.

My New Novel Love Is A Battlefield Is Now Available On Amazon!

 

My new novel Love Is A Battlefield is now available to purchase on Amazon. The story synopsis goes as follows:

Dan Fielding is the newest rising star in the horse racing world. Everyone is excited about his bright future – all except for the animal rights activists who regularly hold demonstrations at the racetracks. Things become complicated when he falls in love with animal rights activist Luke Murphy.

I loved writing it. Their love and their conflict. 🙂

To purchase the book go to:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N6AGKL4

Or to purchase my other novels go to:

Blood

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01E4U2U54

The Night Train

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01EQLLPPW

Or to purchase my childrens’ book go to:

Princess Roberta

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01G68FZ4K

Or finally to purchase my poetry collection go to:

Hearts: Pansexual Poetry Collection

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01F88D5OG

Thanks in advance if you purchase any of my work. And I hope if you do, you enjoy it. 🙂

Short Story: Ruby Shines

In celebration of Animal Day today, here is a short story I wrote called Ruby Shines. Hope you all like it. 🙂

 

 

The sun shone brightly down on Ruby’s fur. The Toy Fox Terrier rolled over in the grass as her owner Laura and Laura’s girlfriend Kelly appeared in the garden to join her. Laura was holding a packet of ham in her hand.
“Ruby can dance. I’m telling you Kelly she can.”
“This I’ve got to see!”, Kelly replied, playful sarcasm in her voice.
Laura rolled her eyes and took some ham from the packet. She handed the packet to Kelly and walked over to Ruby.
“Should I get some Popcorn?”
“You’ll be laughing the other side of your face! This little baby is the next Anna Pavlova! She’ll walk competitions!”
“Right.”, Kelly said, raising an eyebrow.
“We’re practicing the spin at the moment.”, Laura explained.
She showed Ruby the piece of ham and moved it around in a circle which Ruby followed.
“Laura babe, you can’t bring a packet of ham on the stage at competitions.”
“I know that! But this is how it’s done at the beginning. She’ll get used to the idea and she’ll spin when she sees the hand movement without the treat.”
“Are you sure?”
“That’s how Susan from the up the road’s Chihuahua done it. She makes a heap of money with that dog dancing school of hers. And anything Susan’s little Perry can do, this little one can do better!”
“Nothing like a bit of friendly community competition.”
“Who said it was friendly?”, Laura smiled.
“Why do you want to train her to dance? Is now the idea of a pet old-fashioned?”
“Because I need money for … well for something. Rubsy is my only option. I can’t sing, I can’t dance but because the dog can I’ll go a long way. Besides look at her, she’s cute when she spins. The winner of the dog dance competition each year wins 2,000.”
“Can she do anything else?”
“How did I know the mention of money would make you interested?! I’m working on getting her up on her hind legs to dance.”
Laura lifted another piece of ham over Ruby’s head. Ruby looked up at it. Kelly struggled to keep in laughter. Life with Laura was never dull at least, she thought.
“That trick might take slightly longer.”, Laura sighed.

The competition was drawing nearer. Laura, Kelly and Ruby went out to the park to see Ruby’s progress.
“She no longer needs the ham or the clicker to stand on her hind legs. She just follows the motion of my hand now. Watch.”
Laura raised her hands high over Ruby’s head. Ruby stood up on her hind legs and began to move around.
“She’s dancing.”
“It’s two weeks to the competition. I should hope she is.”
Laura and Ruby did their routine consisting of Ruby dancing on her hind legs, pushing her legs off Laura, spinning, jumping through Laura’s arms while she was on her hunkers and going around Laura’s legs.
“We’re dancing to Under The Sea from The Little Mermaid. I’m going to have her come out of a plastic shell at the beginning. Saved up for that. Ariel, eat your heart out, eh Rubsy?”

The day of the local dog dancing competition arrived. The judges were in place. Animated chatter rang around the venue. Kelly took her seat in the crowd. It was worse she thought to be the girlfriend of the performer than to be the performer. Laura had worked so hard with Ruby. She couldn’t bear for it to go wrong.
Soon it was time for Laura and Ruby to take to the stage. Kelly smiled down a comforting smile to Laura before she began. Once they got over the first tentative steps, everything else flowed together brilliantly. There was a standing ovation, thoughts of winning. That was before Susan and Perry came on to perform and when Perry jumped over Susan the dream was over. Still second was a good result.
“1,000 I never had.”, Laura smiled,
“At least now I can get an engagement ring.”
“A what?”, Kelly replied, in shock.
“You heard me. Will you marry me?”
“Yes. Of course I will.”
As they kissed, Ruby jumped up on their legs.
“I think in her own way she’s excited by the news.”, Kelly smiled.
“Something tells me when we become parents she won’t be! She’ll miss been spoiled by her Mammies!”
Kelly picked Ruby up.
“Well you’re our only little child for now petal.”, Kelly said, kissing her head as they walked from the venue.

Short Story: The Pen

Shit, I thought. I really should have got one of those cheap set of earphones from the Euro shop instead of trying to save the two Euros. Well now I’ll just have to stand and stare awkwardly at people while I stand at the bus stop.
Two old women shuffle into the enclosure. They look like they are in their eighties and one lady has a trolley which her friend is helping her pull.
“Oh her grandson said he was some poly-something or other. Honestly these new things the young come up with. Ridiculous, isn’t it Maeve?”
“Oh indeed Maureen. You wouldn’t get any of that nonsense in our day.”
Double shit, two bigots at the bus shelter. Now I really wish I’d purchased those earphones. I have a screaming desire to say the word you are looking for is polysexual but I don’t.
“I mean what would God say? It’s in the Bible Maeve. Someone needs to teach the young the right way.”
“Adam didn’t go with Steve after all.”
Animated chuckles follow.
True Adam didn’t go with Steve but maybe he’d have enjoyed it, I think.
The bus looms in the distance and I feel a gentle sigh of relief exit from my mouth. I decide to go upstairs as the two old women take a seat downstairs. Next they’ll be onto pansexuality and as a pansexual man I ain’t interested in their negativity.

When my stop came I made my way downstairs. I could hear the two women had continued their sexuality-based chat.
“Really Maeve all these new ridiculous terms are just a posh, fashionable way of sleeping around. I mean they couldn’t get married. They wouldn’t be committed to anyone. You couldn’t trust them.”
“Oh god no Maureen. How could you? They’d be picking up all sorts anywhere. They’d sleep with anyone!”
I roll my eyes and step off the bus thinking I’m a pansexual man going to meet his bisexual best friend and we sure as hell are not planning on sleeping with each other!

When I arrive at Matt’s flat I am ready to have a rant about M & M but I soon realise that’s not to happen. He is super excited about something and doesn’t even offer me a beer.
“Sit down Jay. I’ll be back soon.”
Confused I slump myself down on the sofa. I hear him shuffling around in his bedroom.
“Man, are you … ok?”
What I really mean is: is he feeling alright? Has something strange come over him?
“Matt, you haven’t started believing in aliens again, have you?”
He laughs.
“Dude, that was two weeks in secondary school! I was going through a phase! In any case Dylan was into that shit …”
Dylan’s his ex boyfriend. Emo teenager turned banker adult. The world is full of surprises.
“Oh yeah Dylan, how is he these days?”
“Who cares?! Boring! Strait-laced! Up his fucking arse!”
Dylan dumped Matt.
“Yeah, here it is. Got to be careful with this or someone will snatch it. If they knew I had this they’d beat me up for it.”
My alien theory is coming back into my head.
He comes out holding a pen and wearing a cheesy grin on his face.
“Who’s they?”, I ask, trying to hold in the concern for him in my voice.
“Oh everyone mate. This here is gold. It’s the bridging of worlds.”
“Matt, it’s a pen!”
“Oh this ain’t no ordinary pen.”
“It looks pretty ordinary to me.”
“Well it isn’t. This pen can transport someone back in time. To the 1920s.”
“Seriously man you’re pulling my leg …”
“No, I was there last night.”
“What?! You don’t seriously believe that.”
“I know it! I experienced it with my own two eyes! I was just innocently sitting having my coffee while watching Game of Thrones and I was clicking the pen and suddenly I was there!”
Now I’m worried what was in his coffee.
“Man, it was fantastic. The consumerism, the fashion, the jazz. I meant this fantastic-looking chick Dorothy in one of the jazz clubs. She was there with her friend Joseph. You’d like him. He’s proper your type. You know the quiet, gentle, deep type. Dorothy on the other hand she is wild, proper party girl. Does the Charlston into the early hours.”
“Matt, you’ve been lonely lately I get that. Since you and Dylan broke up …”
“Oh I’m long over him! Look I know this sounds mad but it’s true. Come on, let’s go for a trip buddy.”
I decide that I better humour him. Maybe when it doesn’t work we can talk sensibly. So we end up both holding the pen and clicking down on it together.

Soon I find myself in the middle of a street. Two girls are flying by me in flapper dresses and there’s an advertisement at a cinema for The Thief of Bagdad. As a film buff who constantly watches old movies on YouTube I’m now freaking out. I turn around to find a wide-eyed Matt. He smiles at the surprise on my face.
“Told you.”, he simply says.
Either we are both off our rockers or this is actually 1924.
“Come on, let’s go find Dor. She said she’d meet us at The Velvet Cat.”
“She knows I’m coming?”
“Oh yeah, just one thing. I never said how I got here. Just pretend you are from this time. Saves a lot of explanations.”
“Matt, how the hell are you taking this in your stride? We’ve just time-travelled!”
“It’s a little unusual I admit …”
“A little unusual. Who gave you that pen?!”
“The old man with glasses in the bookies …”
“What old man with glasses in the bookies?!”
“Dicer … well Phillip Dice but we call him Dicer. Picks a good few winners …”
“I don’t care about his gambling expertise!”
“I was doing a bet, the pen wouldn’t write. He gave me a lend but when I turned around he wasn’t there. Hasn’t been since. Anyway who cares? This is amazing. We are living. Loosen up. You are never going to get Joseph’s trousers off if you are going to be this uptight.”
“I’m not trying to get his trousers off! We need to get back to 2016 and find this Dicer fella …”
“You’re forgetting one thing.”, Matt says, starting to move away from me a bit.
“Oh and what’s that?”
“I have the pen.”, he stays and starts to run off.
“Dude, this is childish! Get back here!”, I shout, rushing after him with visions of been stuck in the 1920s in my head.

I follow him into The Velvet Cat. He joins a woman and a man who I presume are the wild Dorothy and the quiet Joseph whose trousers I’m supposed to be trying to get off. Matt is kissing Dorothy and Joseph is sitting across from them with his back to me. I reluctantly approach the table with one focus in mind: getting that pen.
“Jayden mate, pull up a chair.”, Matt calls out and I involuntarily roll my eyes.
Joseph gets up to let me get past to the free chair and that’s when I almost choke.
Oh my god, he’s beautiful. Maybe I would like to sleep with him.
And then he smiles. You know that incredibly endearing warm smile that introverts do when even hello is hard to get out of their mouth. I’m swept away with dizziness and before I know it I’m sitting down. Joseph offers me a cigarette and I forget and ask him where the smoking area is. He looks puzzled.
“The smoking area?”
Matt intervenes.
“Jay’s got this mad idea that there should be smoking areas in bars and clubs. Health of non-smokers and all that.”
“You don’t believe that surely darling? That’d take away all the fun!”, Dorothy purrs.
“Well …”, I begin.
“He believes what he believes.”, Joseph smiles.
“Surely Joseph sweetie you don’t think that we should be forced out to another area with our fags like some sort of bar outcasts?”
“I didn’t say I did Dor. But it’s an interesting take on it.”, he says beginning to light up his cigarette.
He stops and turns to me.
“This doesn’t offend you, does it? Because I don’t want to.”
“No, no, of course not.”
He lights his cigarette.
“It’s just I have this friend Sue and she’s a vegetarian. It upsets her when someone eats meat in front of her.”
“Sue’s a drama queen! She saves insects from been stood on!”, Dorothy whined, wrapping herself around Matt.
“She likes animals Dor.”
“Well I’ll agree on that Joesph. After all she was with Wilson and he was a beast. I should know! But that was before I met my little Matty boy!”
They begin a full on kissing session while I think this is the 1920s! I’m not the most traditional or a prude but weren’t things took a little slower back then? Back now? Oh I’m confused.
“So Joseph, what do you do?”
“I’m a railroad worker. Oh and I write poetry on the side.”
“Anything published?”
“Not as of yet. What about you?”
“I’m a barman.”
“Where?”
“A long way from here.”
“Must be. I haven’t seen you around before. And I’d remember if I did.”
Our eyes meet. It’s a few seconds. It feels like an eternity. A wonderful eternity. His hand is holding his drink. I reach across to place my hand on top of his and he pulls it away instantly. There is terror on his face and he gets up.
“I have to go Dor. Splendid night.”
He rushes out and I rush after him. When I catch up with him I begin talking very fast.
“I was told you were into guys. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable.”
“Will you keep your voice down?! What are you trying to do?! Get us killed?!”
“I’m sorry. I forgot.”
“Yeah, well you wouldn’t want to forget too often, would you?!”
“No, I guess not.”
His voice softens.
“I’m sorry. It’s just … it isn’t right, is it? But it’s the way it is. And it’s never gong to change. So I suppose you just got to get on with things. I’m gay and I’m completely happy been but other people will never come around to just seeing people as human beings and not putting people in boxes in a quest for power.”
“Things will change. There’ll come a time when people will say they are gay and people will say so what? Well the majority will anyway.”
“You’re very positive for a gay man in the 1920s.”
“Well technically I’m not gay but I know what you mean.”
“You’re not? I’m confused.”
“I’m pansexual. I can fall for men, women or non-binary people.”
“Non-binary?”
“Someone who is both genders or neither.”
“I have a friend Charlie who feels like that. But I’ve never heard the word.”
“Well you know, as time moves on people, if they feel they want to, do find words to describe what they feel.”
“It’s like you know all this stuff I don’t.”
“Likewise. Like don’t put your hand on a guy’s hand when homosexuality isn’t legal. I forget sometimes.”
Joseph took Jayden’s hand and brought him behind the wall. He cupped Jayden’s face in his hand and began to kiss him.
“Isn’t this dangerous?”
“Sometimes it’s good to have a bit of danger. Besides we’re hidden. I don’t usually kiss someone this quick.”
“Neither do I.”
They began kissing again.

After the night, Jayden and Matt returned to their time.
“He’s a great kisser.”
“Now, you’re happy you made the trip.”, Matt smiled.
“It’s such a pity it can’t last.”
“Why not? We can go back as much as we like.”
“There’s a reason why that guy gave you that pen though.”
“I know but who cares?”
“Joseph’s life was back then. Mine’s now.”
“Would you stay in the 1920s for him?”
“Yeah.”
“Ah would you? How fucking soppy! It’s like the real life gay version of Romeo & Juliet.”
“You’ve never even read Romeo & Juliet … look think, when this guy gave you the pen did he say anything?”
“He just gave me a docket with the words The Velvet Cat on it. And tomorrow’s date only in the 1920s. 8pm.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that before?”
“Because you’d get all serious and then it would have been no fun. Besides it’s tomorrow or tonight now but it wasn’t last night’s date.”
Jayden sighed.
“Ok, tonight we go back.”

The Velvet Cat was quiet when Jayden and Matt entered. Two men and a woman sat at the bar. The barman was an older man with glasses. A violent dispute broke out between the two men for the woman’s affections. One man suddenly took out a knife and stabbed the other man. The woman rushed out. A newspaper cutting fell in front of Jayden and Matt. It read:

Man Killed In Bar. No Reliable Witnesses

Robert Mitchell (28) was killed in a stabbing incident in a bar. However his death has been deemed unsolved at an inquest today. Mr. Mitchell was having a drink in The Velvet Cat Bar at 8pm last Saturday with the only witness present been the barman Jimmy Dice (72). Mr. Dice identified a young man in his 30s as been the person who stabbed Mr. Mitchell. The man can not be named for legal reasons. At the inquest it was deemed that Mr. Dice could not be certain of his identification due to poor eyesight. According to police the case is now closed.

“This is ridiculous. They’ll think it’s us Jay!”
“What have we got to lose? We just click the pen if things go wrong.”
When the police arrived, Jayden and Matt backed up Jimmy’s story. And Jimmy said they had been sitting over the other side of the bar. They agreed to make it to the inquest.

After the inquest, a trial followed where William Nolan was found guilty of murder. Matt went to say his goodbyes to Dorothy and Jayden went over to Joseph.
“Now we can live happily ever after.”, Joseph beamed.
“I really wish you didn’t say that. Look this is going to sound nuts but I should have told you this from the start. I’m from the year 2016 …”
“What?!”
“Just hear me out. Matt and me came to right a wrong. Well at first we weren’t sure why we were here. But it became apparent. The pen time travels.”
“Look if you want to break up with me you don’t have to make up some stupid elaborate story. Just be a man about it.”
“I love you. But you have your life. I have mine. This is coincidence. This isn’t what’s meant to be.”
Jayden kissed Joseph passionately.
“The world’s really in 2016 …”
“Yeah and I hope I meet someone as wonderful as you in the present day.”
“So I’ve already died?”
“I don’t want to think of that but I’d imagine so.”
“Well I hope I met someone as wonderful as you before I popped off.”
Jayden kissed Joseph again before walking over to Matt. They clicked the pen one last time and returned to the present day.

Back in 2016, Jayden felt something in his pocket. He took it out. It was a rolled-up piece of paper.
“What’s that?”, Matt asked.
“A poem.”
“From Joseph?”, Matt smiled,
“I’ll go get us two beers in the kitchen. Give you some privacy to read it.”
Jayden began to read the poem:

There is something about you,
I can’t put my finger on it.
You are caring,
Understanding,
Real.
Before I met you love was fiction,
It was in books,
It was what I wrote
But never felt.
You are filled with strength Jay,
Filled with love,
Bursting with it.
That’s what makes you everything,
Everything to me.
Don’t ever lose that,
Don’t lose that beauty inside.