A Nightmare in Claret & Blue

A Nightmare in Claret & Blue

(OJ NOTE: From the forthcoming Filmic Cuts 6. Hope you enjoy…)

 

Every year, it is the same.

We come to the ground, watch our boys battle on, but see the spirit slowly sap away. Watch as that brief moment of hope is wiped away by a double dose of intense misery. A victory here, a point there, is soon replaced by a run of pain that reminds us exactly where we stand in the world.

We are Aston Villa fans, and this is our curse.

It didn’t used to be this bad. We had hope. We had passion. Now, they are figments in the wind, fluttering above Villa Park like dying clouds on a summer day. Now, it is merely watching the lads go through the motions, passing the ball sideways and hoping not to be turned over by another team battling for relegation.

It is only the lucky flip of a coin that has kept us up recently – a surprise draw from our rivals, or goal difference being in our favour; little things that cause your cuticles to slowly whittle away. And at the end of it? We just survive. We just hang on.

Well, on this day I’d had enough. I couldn’t take it anymore – no more snatches of positivity, no more false dawns on a Sunday morn – and when the email came asking me to get my new season ticket, I deleted it out of hand. No more pain. No more misery. Just a quiet Saturday afternoon with the paper, with no more nightmares of a footballing sort. Continue reading “A Nightmare in Claret & Blue”

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The Price

The Price

It was about 1, maybe 2 AM when I saw the commercial.

I was on hiatus from work, and found myself falling into my old student routine of waking up way too late, and staying up way too early in the morning. My sleeping pattern had shifted along by several hours, and so when most folk go to bed and drift off, I was preparing some cheap snack and switching between channels to find something to sate my bored mind.

Which is how I found out about The Price.

When you have too many channels, eventually you stumble upon the ones that contain random people selling random things. Juicers, tools, self-help books; a cavalcade of tat that couldn’t get any advertising during the peak hours. These products are purely designed to take advantage of the people whose lives are so bad, they stay up all night desperate for some kind of stimulus.

People like me.

Normally they’re amusing enough. Little vignettes of overblown acting and bombastic statements. Each item will change your life. Each product will make you better, make you happier, make you more efficient, healthier, and wise.

At the low, low cost of £99.99.

But between the smoother choppers and the multi-use weights, The Price came up. It seemed much different, much more unique than any of the other infomercials I saw, mostly because it seemed so cheap.

And yet…

I was chewing listlessly on a bowl of cereal when the previous commercial faded away, and the black screen began to glow with a bright blue. The set looked like the kind you could set up in your spare room – blue sheet hanging in the background, blue cloth over a table set up in the foreground. Whoever designed this sure liked blue, put it that way. Aside from that, there was nothing else there, and no sign as to what was about to happen.

Then, after a few awkward seconds, the host appeared.

Imagine every infomercial host you’ve ever seen, and multiple those tropes by 10. The Price’s Host was bubbly, in-your-face, and had a mid-Atlantic drawl that grated as much as it oozed a mix of charm and sleaze. His looks resembled that typical, late-thirties self-help guru, but while his lips stretched out in a welcoming smile, his eyes seemed focussed on something else.

Either way, I was too bored or too intrigued to switch over, and so I watched the commercial for The Price.

And let me tell you, it did indeed change my life.

I’m just not sure yet if it was for the better.

Safe Word

Safe Word

For Tim, it was another hard day at the office.

Several hours of non-stop phone calls, filing, and reports on matters he barely knew about. It was a good job – paid the bills, at least – but most of the time he was bored out of his mind.

The only thing to look forward to was Carrie’s Bar.

Sure he could go home, go to his wife, and spend the evening switching off his brain, but he preferred the vibrancy of Carrie’s. It was a place he could kick back, sit on a stool, and drink until the boredom went away.

It usually never did.

But it was a routine now. Continue reading “Safe Word”

Fort Hamilton

Fort Hamilton

(A taster of a short story I’m currently working on, probably as the final entry into Filmic Cuts 6. Hope you enjoy… OJ)

The message came through early that morning, serving as a wake up call to the men stationed at Fort Hamilton.

It was not a wake up call they wanted.

Orders had been made for a Captain Montgomery and his men to come inspect Fort Hamilton within the next few days. While reasons were left vague in the telegram, one of the men – Freeman – theorised that it was just a quick check due to their position.

Fort Hamilton was based deep in the heart of Grover Forest, a think, dense cluster of nature in the Pacific Southwest. The Confederates had built it upon the only path through the Forest, giving them a key strategic position should any Union troops try to come south. The inhabitable character of the Forest was such that, should a troop wish to get through any other way, they’d have to trek many miles to circumvent it. Therefore, Fort Hamilton was an important structure for the Confederates, and one that had to be protected at all costs. Continue reading “Fort Hamilton”

Denton Bridge

Denton Bridge

(A short tale inspired by a song, and soon to be part of a Filmic Cut. Hope you enjoy… – OJ)

 

Looking back, it was a beautiful day, especially given it was April in England. The blue sky was barely punctured by cloud, and the breeze was cool but not cold. It wasn’t quite T-shirt weather yet, but it was decent enough.

Which made the image of the man perched on the edge of Denton Bridge that little bit more chilling. It added an atmosphere that was completely at odds with the day’s surroundings, one that made the air feel a little cooler, and that added a dark silhouette to the clearness above him. By the time I had arrived, a crowd had gathered both on the Bridge and at the various points below that flanked the deep, calm waters that the Bridge crossed. The Denton River wasn’t a giant ocean, but it was a deep, watery cut that had taken many lives before; and today, in spite of the Samaritan warnings and call-boxes they had placed on the Bridge, it looked to take another one.

Continue reading “Denton Bridge”

Dinosaur (from Filmic Cuts 4)

Dinosaur (from Filmic Cuts 4)

One day, little Mickey was very bored. He did not have any reason to be bored, and yet here he was, feeling very bored indeed. He didn’t want to read any of his books, and he didn’t want to play any of his video games. He did not want to watch any movies, nor television shows, nor listen to any music. And even in spite of the beautiful weather there was outside, he did not want to go out there and frolic under the shining sun.

Mickey was bored, as all that he could do, did not excite him enough to do.

So he sat there in his chair, and thought about what would excite him. He thought of doing something creative, like painting a picture or writing a story. He thought about making something out of clay, or even something to eat. He even thought about just going for a little walk in order to help him think of something, anything, which would make him no longer bored.

But it was no use. Nothing was making Mickey excited.

That was until he began to think about games. Not video games, you understand, for they no longer held any appeal for him. Nor did he think of board games, for he felt far too old to play with them. No, the games Mickey thought of were the ones he played when he was even more little than he was now. The games that he and his friends made up in their heads, and played using only the power of their imagination. Continue reading “Dinosaur (from Filmic Cuts 4)”

The Dashing World of Burlington Rathbone (from Filmic Cuts 3)

The Dashing World of Burlington Rathbone (from Filmic Cuts 3)

It was a most curious incident that found me here, quaffing a pint and wondering the madness of all that had come before. Why, mere moments ago, I was a simple man full of simple pleasures, living a simple life of simplicity. You know how it is; performing the old daily grind of a working man, whilst enjoying light suppers and jovial meetings with old friends. Just the tonic for your average fellow.

But, on this day, after another mild day at the office sorting papers for the large conglomerate I was part of, I found myself faced with a curiosity. One that, before, I could not even imagine. It was all quite normal leading up the incident; I had taken the train home, briefcase in hand, and entered my front door as I always would, placing my case and hat upon their respective areas. My lodgings were of no real note, consisting purely of a room to lounge, a place to sleep and the usual amenities a man could ask for. I made my way to the lounge and produced a paper, much as I always had, where something struck me. Continue reading “The Dashing World of Burlington Rathbone (from Filmic Cuts 3)”