Creative Work: Short Story ‘Help Wanted’ Part 2, by Cais Jurgens

Creative WorksIn last week’s installment of Cais Jurgens‘ story ‘Help Wanted’ we found the protagonist, Fish, starting his new job at a gentleman’s club in Manhattan. We were immersed in a world of sensuous delights countered by the unglamorous reality that lies behind the scenes in such places. Cais’ work is richly textured, giving us both the glamour and flash as well as the alcoholism and despondency that pervades both sides of the bar. 

We return now to Fish and his upstream struggle to understand and belong.

Help Wanted, Part 2

By Cais Jurgens

Ja ja ja, drink it slow or you get no more. I tried my best and I took my time.  I picked up my pen and got to work.

A Degustation

How can you nurse like that
I drowned my own secret
Baby when you checked
The roast

I hoisted bitter sails
Wide mouthed
Courageous
Sunday measures

We know another on sight
Eyeing a polite bottle
Dreary longing
Eyes

How you cradle and warm it
Enjoying more the thought
Before you
Filling up floating
Dust

Your glass polished
A sundial
I’d rather see wasted than
Neglected

Knock it over
Rock it back
I’d hate to have to watch
You mop it up

Pablo was a time traveler.  He did so often and without hesitation.  I believe it was one of his only joys in life but I may be wrong.  For someone I spent up to eight hours with each day, I really knew very little about him.  What I did know was that his preferred time machine was made of Hennessy.  He’d get into his time machine sometime on Saturday evening and it would transport him to about three in the afternoon the following Tuesday.  It did this each week like clockwork.  Sometimes he would begin his time travel at work and then reappear again the following day, barely aware he’d ever been home.  He’d show up for work in low spirits but accepting of his personal hell.  Within a few minutes, out would come a stiff cup of coffee and the Baileys Irish Cream.  This would get him back to his higher function and a mindset capable of tolerating another 8-10 hours standing behind the bar.  I found Pablo to be amazing in this way.  He was living proof of the durability of the human body, a testament to what it can truly tolerate, at least in its general youth.  It’s true that he did look older than twenty-six but not a day over thirty.  

You have an order, Fish.  Off I went, food in hand.  A salmon roll, some French fries and a plate of lobster, a skirt steak, a tuna avocado roll and an order of miso soup.  It was an odd combination and therefore was going to a high roller with a couple of hungry ladies at his side.

The cashier pointed me in their direction.  The two girls were Russian.  They were tall, blonde, almost identical and spoke in a thick accent.  They flanked him on both sides at the bar in the club.  The man was middle aged, American, not a native New Yorker.  If you were in town on business you could request that the club print the name of a different restaurant on the receipt so that you could charge everything to your expense account without your company knowing you just spent several hundred dollars at a strip club.  I suspected that this was the scenario I was dealing with.

Can you bring me some ketchup? 

I brought you some ketchup, it’s right here.  I handed the man the plate of ketchup I’d prepared upstairs.

No, I need more.  It’s for the lobster.  

You want ketchup for the lobster?

Yes, please.  The lobster special that evening cost eighty dollars.  This man and his two escorts were going to cover it in generic brand ketchup.

Yes, sir.  That will be one hundred and forty-six dollars, please.  He looked at me in disbelief.  I handed him the bill, which he studied while the girls laid into their food.  Obviously this man was not aware that you shouldn’t give two exotic dancers free reign over the menu when you’re the one buying.  It was a lesson I’d seen many people learn the hard way. I saw one man escorted by two very large bouncers in black.  I over heard the cashier say that apparently he owed the house twenty-six grand.  Nobody ever saw him again.

We never saw a lot of people again, that was the nature of the business.   Our lives existed around alcohol and our livelihood because of it.  Anything and everything became an excuse to indulge heavily and it got to the point where Pablo and I drank to feel normal.  It was like coffee perking us up in the dead of night.  More than once I found myself waking up at east one hundred and fifth street in Brooklyn at five or six in the morning or maybe all the way down in the financial district.  I fell asleep on the train during my ride home many times.  It took the sanctity out of night and out of sleep for there’s nothing worse than heading home and hearing birds mock you at every turn.  I liked to imagine that morning commuters took pity on me but I didn’t mind, for you don’t really, truly know comfort until you can find happiness on a blow up mattress on a wooden floor in the center of Bushwick.   Continue reading

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Creative Work: Short Story ‘Help Wanted’ Part 1, by Cais Jurgens

Creative WorksEverybody’s had one of these jobs, where a new unknown world appears and you slowly get sucked in. Help Wanted is a portrayal of just that kind of workplace that comes with a language and culture of its own. The familiar sense of community in a foreign backdrop where you almost belong, but don’t quite feel a part of. Words, Pauses, Noises is proud to showcase this debut piece from one of our own, Cais Jurgens; part one of his short story.

Help Wanted

By Cais Jurgens

 They call bullshit an art form.  I’ve always found there to be a fine but noticeable line between art and dumb luck and my job at 1674 Broadway at the top end of Manhattan’s theatre district was a result of the latter.  I wish I could tell you I’d sauntered in, put on a show of flaming cocktails poured expertly into a chilled martini glass and was hired and highly paid but it didn’t exactly happen that way.

The reality is that I was on the verge of giving up on that unseasonably warm November evening.  I was salivating at the oddly satisfying thought of ending my job search for the day and heading back to a friend’s couch in Brooklyn to hose down my empty stomach with what would be the first of several beers that night.  Instead, I pressed uptown with my rejected resume, watched the sun dip a little lower into New Jersey with every city block and eventually wandered into the swankiest Sushi joint I’d ever seen.

It was beautiful as well as classy.  Floating globes lit the room and in a warm essence that mingled with the lingering scent of skirt steak and hot oshibori towels.

I was nervous yet beaming dumbly from ear to ear and hired on the spot just for showing up it seemed.  Bar-back.  I was satisfied with the title.  My other title came to be White Boy, as I was the only person featuring both white skin and male genitalia employed at the establishment.  Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Story ‘Black Ocean’ by ReBecca Compton

Creative WorksAs deadlines approach for papers and submissions at Kingston University MA program a certain frenetic energy takes hold of us and changes simple words into stories that capture imaginations. This is the right time to take a breather and check out other people’s ideas and realisations.

This week on Words, Pauses, Noises, we have a new author, ReBecca Compton, and her short story ‘Black Ocean’. This first person narrative seeks to explore the hidden, true nature within her characters, as well as every one of us. Come join us for a while as we drift in the waves of discovery.

‘Black Ocean’ by ReBecca Compton

There he was with his friends and that woman, the one who never stopped touching him. Though it didn’t matter what she did, he never truly fell for her.

Not like he would for me.

I heard the clicking of my heels across the wood of the patio as I made my way to the drinks. I wrapped my hand slowly around the cup next to his.

“Hello.” I said it smooth and slow.

He met my eyes last. “I’m-I’m Brian.” He stuck his hand out. I smiled. Touch was key, and now he was asking to do the work for me.

My hand wrapped around his. “I’m Alix.” I ran my fingers down his palm as I released his hand, watched his pupils dilate. “I’m visiting from out of town. Tell me, if there’s one thing I need to see before I leave, what would that be?” I traced my finger along the rim of the glass and sucked off the salt.

“Oh that’s easy.” He pointed away from the party. “You need to see the ocean at dusk.” Continue reading

Announcing The First Annual WPN Competition!

cropped-header-blog3 copyWords, Pauses, Noises is proud to announce our First Annual Writing Competition!

The competition will be judged by a panel of writers, poets, and literary agents, and the first place winners in each category will receive a £100 prize. The winners and those pieces which are shortlisted will also be featured in our first physical publication!

Our categories are Short Fiction, Flash Fiction, and Poetry. You can submit one (1) work to each category, and that work may be on any subject, in any genre and style. That means anything, from romance to horror, science fiction to period pieces. We will not be accepting any interviews, reviews, essays, non-fiction travelogues, or excerpts of novels. Our standard submission agreement applies.

The word count limits are as follows:

SHORT FICTION: up to 1500 words

FLASH FICTION: up to 700 words

POETRY: up to 40 lines

Please follow the submission instructions provided on the COMPETITION RULES PAGE.

The contest is running from 2 December 2013 until 31 January 2014 and all winners will be notified by email when the judging has been completed.

So dust off that laptop and get writing! We look forward to seeing a wide range of works and styles. For those still hesitant about putting something on the blog, this is a chance to submit anonymously. Your work will be read by agents and published authors, with the chance to be published yourself! 

Creative Work: Short Story “Thirty Years in London” by Krishna Anaberi

Creative WorksToday Words, Pauses, Noises is delighted to present another of our international students and screenplay writer Krishna Anaberi

Think of an awkward social situation, mental health issues, political (in)correctness, and then put them in a bus in north London. This is exactly what Krishna does in this short story, Thirty Years in London, a story that brings to the foreground comfort, fear, xenophobia, and the many faces of ‘national identity’.

‘Thirty Years in London’

By Krishna Anaberi 

The first page of The Guardian was all pictures about the last week’s riots and stories of how the shops were coping and getting back to life.  I turned the pages, not wanting to read any more of this. It was blown out of proportion by the media. Only the rain has been one hundred percent real. Not the best time to have my friends from Brazil over.

Murillo opened the curtains and smiled. “Look who’s out,” he said. It was sunny and almost looked like it had never rained. Rachel sighed, “English weather.”

We first walked to Hampstead Heath, the same park where George Michael was caught rubbing his torso against a truck driver. An ultimate tourist destination. Murillo was hoping he would run into a celebrity. No matter how much you walk, the green never ends in the Heath. Untouched by the riots, it was so peaceful. The park was deserted as we headed to Camden Town.

Rachel despised cigarettes but always wanted to smoke shisha so we sat around the table of a shisha shop. Murillo dragged a chair closer to the pipe placed in the center of the table.

“Camden is so empty, I think it’s the riots,” he said.

Rachel put the pipe down. “Can we please not talk about riots, we have been at it all week.”  The three of us went silent. It wasn’t like we were hurt in the riots or anything, but somehow the air in London seemed tense. We all just wanted to go back home.

“When I find time, I will go to East Ham and pick some Rotis for us,” I said. I thought of the infinite kebab shops, Saree-clad mannequins, and every second store with a name of an Indian God. With its neon rectangles and arrows flashing “Open”, East Ham is the only place which comes close to home. I didn’t like anything about East Ham. The Indians living there cling so desperately to their roots that they’re more “Indian” than people back home. They wanted the “Queen’s” money but not to eat the scones, it seemed. For me, East Ham was a place where Rotis could be bought in bulk for dirt-cheap.

We got on the 214 and headed home. Continue reading

Opinion Piece: Publishing, Life After the MA Dissertation

InterviewsWords, Pauses Noises’ Amber Koski offers an Op-Ed piece today about the world of publishing and how daunting it may seem for a new writer, fresh from their dissertation hand-in.

Many of our full-time MAs are nearing the end of their brisk year of study. Those preparing to print and bind their dissertations are also considering future publication opportunities. The world of writing has been transforming for the past few years and with those transformations come numerous avenues in branding your work and your identity as an author and the publication path that lay ahead. So what do we do as 2013 writers stepping out into the market we hope to become a part of?  Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Fiction “Changeling” by Amanda Thorley

Today on Words, Pauses, Noises we have for you a short work by one of our talented MA’s, Amanda Thorley. For a writer, the short story can be a great medium to explore worlds and find out more about your characters. It is also a wonderful way to peek into a moment in time and delve into the intensity of human (and sometimes not-so-human) emotions. Short prose can be difficult to work within, due to its brevity, but it challenges both reader and writer to see the nuances at the heart of the story. We hope you enjoy this peek into Amanda’s world. Words, Pauses, Noises invites you to share your thoughts about this story, and your experience with other short stories in general!

Changeling

By Amanda Thorely

In the kingdom of Cyrene, the twins Petter and Lyra lived with their mother Johdila and their baby sister Fleur. They were happy there, and spent many long summers under the shade of the sturdy trees, sitting and laughing or playing together, out of the heat of the scorching sun. Around them they could see the green fields stretching out for miles ahead, and the forests of Cyrene, its leaves a melange of yellows, oranges and greens. There were a mixture of tall oaks, elks and pines in that forest, stretching far up into the sky, so high that Petter had to crane his neck to look up at them all the way to their tops. They knew that many animals lived in the forest, but rarely went in there themselves, unless it was in the company of the adults. Their mother would not allow it otherwise, she would only worry herself sick over them getting lost or attacked by one of the bears. When they were younger, the twins often used to wish they were allowed to go to the forest and play there. They longed to explore it and find all the various nooks and crannies to hide out in. Now and then they would be startled by the cry of an eagle overhead, and they watched it cross the sky in awe. They felt a pang of jealousy at the adults who sometimes went there to go hunting with their crossbows and large spears, often coming back with game such as rabbit and deer for their supper. They rarely had meat but when they did it was a hearty meal, their stomachs would be full and after supper Johdila would sit them round the fire, with baby Fleur on her knee, and she would tell them stories. Stories of the old people of Cyrene, how they came to be, and how they came to find this land after their old Homeland had been taken from them by the Moroi and how they journeyed for many years before finding their new home. Often Petter and Lyra would fall asleep by the fire, lulled by the sound of their mother’s soft voice and the shapes of the fire dancing against the walls of their cottage. Their mother would carry them up to bed, before laying Fleur down in her cot and going to bed herself.

Continue reading

Creative Work: Short Fiction “The White Lady and the Sea” by Vera Brenner

Today we have for you a new work from another of our talented CWMA students, Vera Brenner. We have MA students from a multitude of countries, which helps our creative community to expand to every corner of the world. We hope you enjoy this taste of our multicultural experience!

The White Lady and the SeaCreative Works

by Vera Brenner

The white lady from England returned three times a year to live her private adventure
with him for two weeks.

When they met seven years earlier, he thought she was his way out. She would
marry him and take him home with her. After a year he started to ask her.

‘Next time, maybe,’ she said.

He wandered along the beach. The sand under his bare feet was cold and mixed
with pieces of glass and plastic garbage. It smelled of faeces, dead fish and rotten
seaweed. Here, he and the other young man were waiting for the one white lady that
would free them from poverty. Free them from Mozambique. Free them from Africa.
Europe – it seemed like paradise to every single one of them.

Most lived on the beach, in shelters made from cardboard, in old boats, some
lived in caves. She’d bought a small apartment where the two of them lived when she
was in town. When she wasn’t, he rented the apartment and himself to other tourists on an hourly basis. Some stayed longer. But most ladies now preferred the fresher versions of himself: the young black seducers with their unused, muscular bodies in tank tops. His family back in the village would starve if he didn’t make it to Europe soon.

They had medicine there, for free he heard. A week earlier he’d discovered the first
lesion on his head. It was still covered by his hair, but when the signs became more
apparent, he wouldn’t get any white lady to sleep with him for money anymore.
He stared at the sea, which to the white ladies seemed to be some picturesque
sight. A red wooden plank with some washed out blue lettering appeared for an instant on the top of a wave, before it crashed down and shattered on the rocks.

He had to try again. He bought her favourite flower, a water lily and changed
into his nicest dark blue collared shirt that made him look more European. He entered the apartment and put on the dominant grin that she loved so much. She was sitting on the balcony in a saclike, white linen dress, reading one of those love stories she always carried around.

‘Marry me,’ he said.

‘Yes.’ She looked up and smiled. ‘Let’s have a romantic ceremony on the beach.
Next year in summer.’

To read more of Vera’s work, visit her website here. FollowWords, Pauses, Noises for email updates, or follow  on Twitter for updates and other fun things.

Creative Work: Short Fiction – “Last Laugh” by David Russomano

Last Laugh

By David Russomano72311623_p

When they arrive, I’m always at my most courteous. After all, dying isn’t easy. With the squeal of a flat-lining heart monitor still ringing in their ears, people imagine they’ve stumbled into the waiting room of some immaculate dentist’s office. Chairs line the room’s periphery. Stacks of magazines sit on small tables. And there I am, smiling pleasantly behind the receptionist’s desk, ready to receive them. I’m polite, cordial even. I need them calm. None of it works unless they trust me.

Here comes one now. Watch and learn.

“Where am I?”

His eyes are a jumble of fear and disbelief. His jaw hangs open.

“Please, take a seat, sir. Make yourself comfortable. We’ve been expecting you.”

“But, what is this place?”

Ease the transition.

“First sir, if you can, please tell me the last thing you recall.”

The memories are confused, difficult to piece together. He searches his mind the way you’d collect the shards of a broken mirror.

“…I was in a bed…there were faces I didn’t recognize…and things happening around me that I couldn’t see…”

Just a little prompting.

“What did you feel?”

“There was this wave of tension. It rose up from under me and it was building so quickly…”

He’s almost there.

“Yes, go on?”

“And then the wave broke. Everything relaxed. And I was here.”

“You’ve asked me where you are, but I believe there’s another question you need to ask first.”

He hesitates. The words struggle, but he forces them out.

“Am I dead?”

Now we’re getting somewhere.

“Yes, sir, you are.”

Continue reading