The Writing Group


Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely intentional…

Scene: The half-time break in a writing group in any city near to you.

            “Elizabeth, I am sorry to burden you but I found ‘this’ in Tommy’s bag earlier and I do not know what to do,” exclaimed Hilary, “what do you make of it?”

            “Oh my,” said Elizabeth, “it is a, it is a…”

            “Is that Oscar?” asked Anne, who was stood next to her.

            “It is a gun!” said Elizabeth.

            “I used to have a gun in my last job,” piped up Peter from the other side of the room.

            Hilary grimaced. She turned back to Elizabeth.

            “Exactly Elizabeth,” replied Hilary. “And why would Tommy have a gun in his bag? I think perhaps it is something to do with his Irish past? You know he has been in prison? Maybe he is one of those fundamentalists on a Jihad? Oh, but I do love him so; I just do not know what to do, this whole thing is far too depressing, even for me to write about.”

            Up to that point Isabella, a Brazilian belle, had watched the scene unfold but now felt it was time to contribute.

            “Uh, excuse me? I would like to say something.”

            Hilary and Elizabeth turned to her and in unison spoke. “Well?”

            “Um, I, er…”

            “Yes, well, thanks for that Isabella,” cut in Hilary, who then turned back to Elizabeth. “He will be back up in a minute from the smoke break with the others. What do I do?”

            Anne hovered nearby. “I am sure Judith said it was turquoise blue; that looks like black and silver to me.”

            “Not now Anne,” said Hilary, getting irritated. Finally, despairing at Elizabeth, she turned to her old friend and sage. “Fliss, what do you think I should do?”

            “Just put it back Hilary,” replied Fliss, “who knows why he has it but I am sure there is an innocent reason behind it all. You need to relax. Take that make-up, sorry, mask, off, and allow the real you to shine through to the group. Hey, maybe we should all go on a retreat to Marrakesh and get some karma in.”

            “Karma?” enquired Anne. “I’m sure it is called Oscar you know.”

            Before anyone could respond a door creaked in the corner. There was an eerie silence as Mark and Phil re-entered the room from the men’s toilet, joking together about something.  Hilary quickly held the gun behind her back. She had always thought it was only women who went to the toilet in pairs, what had they been up to in there?

             “What is going on?” quipped Mark.

            “Oh, nothing, nothing really,” chorused Hilary and Fliss innocently.

            Isabella spoke up again. “Mark, you can tell me, yes, what is English for…” and she held her hand up with two fingers projecting, “bang, bang.”

            “Oh, Isabella,” cut in Anne, “it does not go bang, bang, it goes buzzzzz.”

            Mark looked at Phil. Phil looked at Mark. Both softly shook their heads, sat down and carried on their jocular conversation from before.

            “Phew,” sighed Hilary, “that was too close for comfort. But anyway, I do have a loving relationship with Tommy built on a foundation of trust, and there are no secrets between us.”

            “Oh that is so wonderful,” cried Kirsty, the glamour puss of the group. “It is just like in a fairy tale. Mirror, mirror, on the wall…”

            “Exactly,” cut in Hilary. “I regularly go through his drawers, steam open his post, check his emails, listen to his voicemail, well, you know what I mean. I just do not know where this, this…”

            “Vibrator,” said Anne. “Is that how you hold it by the way?”

            “I have never had need of a vibrator,” proclaimed Eileen, who had been sat listening quietly to the events unfolding. “I am married to the original Greek stallion and that is the only thing you will find between…”

            She was interrupted as the main door to the upstairs room crashed open with the babbling noise of the returning smoking quartet of Tommy, Pam, Nina and Neil.

            The sight of Hilary holding a handgun brought about their immediate silence.

            “Flipping heck! Hilary, love,” cried Tommy. “Just put it down love; it is not what you think.”

            “Feck,” said Nina.

            “I want to know what is going on Tommy,” said Hilary.

            “Bollocks,” said Nina.

            “Just put it down love, I am sorry, I have been silly, it is not what it seems like.”

            “Shite,” said Nina.

            “I think you were right the first time Nina,” said Pam. “Fuck! It is a gun!”

            “Hold on Pam, let us hear them both out,” interjected Neil, “you know there are two sides to every story. Well unless it is a dubbed double-A side of course.”

            “Is that seven inches Neil?” enquired Anne.

            “I know you think I am a bad ‘un Hilary, you have even said as much to me before.”

            “No I did not Tommy; I said your music was awful. Do you never listen to a word I say?”

            “Sorry, what was that love?”

            Hilary placed the gun on the table beside her.

            “What is going on Tommy?”

            A hush descended on the group led by their recently returned matriarch, McD.

            “Hush,” she said.

            “Hush-sh,” the group members echoed in response as they now looked towards their inspirational writing guru, known informally to them as Rolf, partly due to his physical resemblance to the famous Australian musician, singer-songwriter, composer, painter and all-round television personality, but mainly because none of them ever really knew what he was going on about.

            “I have been so upset love, it is him, it is his fault, that Red Devil,” and he gestured towards Mark in the corner. “He always gives me gip about the football and his beloved United. I knew tonight was going to be even worse, what with my side getting beaten again, and by a cockney team too. Oh and another thing, have you noticed he is always giving the ladies in this group a lift in his car? They never get in my car you know, even though I write and record dedicated songs to each of them every week in my newsletter, it is just so not rock ‘n’ roll. I had had enough, I was at breaking point Hilary love. I was frustrated, so angry but I am over it now because I am convinced United will not win any trophies this year, hurrah!”

            “Well I have never been in his car, Tommy, and I have only got eyes for you. Although now you mention it..,” she turned to Mark and smiled. “Any chance of a ride later?”

            Before Mark could answer the room went pitch black.

            “I am sure she said it glowed in the dark.”

            “Put the lights back on Anne!” shouted everybody.

            No sooner had the lights flickered on, than a shot rang out, followed by a cry and a thud as Neil, the talented member of the group, fell to the floor. Unlike Lazarus he would not be rising again.

            The stunned silence was broken by Phil. “This has given me a great idea for my next play, another murder to be solved by Prince Charming! Now, Mark, I hope you will not mind playing both ugly sisters since Neil is um, no longer with us?” Without waiting for a response he began scribbling away in his notebook.

            As chaos descended among the group, no one paid much attention to young Charlotte, the quiet one, sat in the corner, smiling sweetly, as always. Nor did anyone notice her foot pushing the gun further under the table in Anne’s direction. Now I will be the best writer in The University of Life’s Creative Writing Society for Lifelong Learning she thought to herself. Or ‘Tulkwhistle’ as it was more affectionately known to its members.

Definitely not to be continued….

© Mark Davoren

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