Inside a Writer's Mind

Inside a Writer's Mind
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” -- Oscar Wilde

Short Story: The Body Pusher

A warning: this story contains adult themes and strong language.

(Your feedback, critical, favourable or otherwise, is very much appreciated and will help me to further refine and develop this story and those that I write in the future. Thank you in anticipation. J.C.)

Copyright © 2012 by J.C. Phalene



J.C. Phalene

I worked with Rachel for about three years. She was sexy, assertive and well educated. Though I was ten years older, she always seemed relaxed in my company, laughing at my quips and occupying the seat next to mine at meetings.  She was comfortable talking to me. Opening up. I was always a good listener, a role for which my mother prepared me well.
Rachel’s life, what I knew of it, was something I guess it’s fair to say I was envious of. Her free spirit, her serial monogamy (a serial many seasons along with no sign of waning interest or a lack of willing male leads), her tales of weekends on yachts and in wine bars and holidays at Club Med were all stuff I longed for.  
But with three children--the youngest in nappies, the oldest almost in school--and a wife committed to proving herself to her mother...coupled with work, mortgage payments, nappy changing, obligatory weekend barbeques with relatives; my limited spare time spent pursuing my wife (usually unsuccessfully) for sex, before sulking and swilling beer on the couch: it was impossible for me to be anything but starved for the kind of sex-rich-carefree-existence she led.
Inevitably, after a month or three, Rachel would break up with her man of the moment and recite her mantra: ‘He was only a man.  I’m not going to cry over him.’
So on that Monday morning when she came sashaying into work and at coffee break time, before disappearing for a cigarette, asked me if I wanted to join her outside, and at the bottom of the stairs announced she’d met someone, I could sense the pheromones pulsing off her. The closest I came to experiencing that was when I’d rubbed against our fake suede sofa at home, and the electrical charge threatened release from my dangling fingertips to a tottering toddler’s head. 
Between greedy puffs of her Treasurer Slim Rachel explained. 
‘We were at my sister’s wedding, Grace, she’s two years older than me and she’s been engaged for like five years to Wesley and they finally tied the knot. 
‘So I’m sitting there at the bridesmaid’s table, listening to the other bridesmaids get pissed and talk about teaching and whose wedding was going to be next, and I’m thinking “boring...” and I go outside for a smoke and there’s this tall blond guy, sort of like a poster child for the Arian race. And we’re the only ones out there and we start talking and it turns out he’s Wesley’s cousin. First cousin. They surf together and stuff.  And God, he’s so hot, I’m almost creaming in my lace panties.’ 
At this point I realised I was holding my pen between two fingers like a cigarette and sucking on the nib.
‘So he sneaks inside again and comes back with a bottle of Dom from the bridal table and two glasses. And we go out to the gardens and sit by the duck pond and get shit faced and he makes me laugh like I haven’t laughed in ages. 
‘And before I know it were doing it, there in the garden.  It was incredible. The best first fuck I’ve ever had.’ 
By this time Rachel’s cerise faced from recollection and I’m crimson faced with an erection. And the coffee break is over. 
I go upstairs to the office bathroom to wank and wash the red ink off my tongue. 
I didn’t have to wait long to meet Richard. He turned up at the office a couple of weeks later. 
He was as Rachel described. About six four, blond and broad shouldered with an intimidating handshake and azure eyes -- the kind that made you feel a few degrees cooler when you looked into them. 
And don’t get me wrong, I’m not gay. But I could see something of what excited Rachel about him, and if I was, gay, he probably would have done it for me too. 
Richard took to picking Rachel up on Friday afternoons in his Porsche. He was a solicitor with a city firm, and liked to show his success, from his Armani suits to his canary yellow Roadster. 
Rachel was surprisingly at ease with Richard’s world. 
I guess it wasn’t that surprising, although she was a lowly employment consultant like me, working with the long term unemployed, and often the disaffected and addicted as well, she was from money. At least originally. 
Her father had been a high profile surgeon in apartheid South Africa and they’d lived the associated lifestyle to the full. 
She sometimes spoke wistfully of growing up amongst sprawling gardens of Jacarandas, rhododendrons and scented-roses, manicured lawns and a white washed manor house with a kidney shaped swimming pool and a black nanny called Delilah, whom she said she always felt loved her in a way her socialite mother could never bring herself to. 
Rachel said their fairytale life ended with the collapse of apartheid. And though she was the first to say she didn’t agree with the oppression of black South Africans, she also said life as they knew it ended when her father was kidnapped and they had no sign from him until his little finger arrived in the post. 
Her father came back she said, after they paid the money. But he was never the same. Something forever broken that was not perceptible in the straight-backed way he continued to carry himself. 
Shortly after his return the family migrated to Sydney, Australia
Rachel had just turned eighteen when, with literally what they could carry, they walked out of their house in Johannesburg and never went back. 
She told me that she had always been very close to her father, much more so than to her mother. And that those men that had kidnapped him had kept the part of him that she was closest to and never returned it. As she shared this a stupidly cruel voice in my head kept squeaking: his little finger.
Sydney, she said, was in some ways reminiscent of Jo’burg.  If she lay on the lawn in Hyde Park, in the shade of a fig tree which could pass as a baobab’s shadow, and looked up -- a vast sky, multicoloured parrots, scents of the purple flowered jacarandas, traffic clatter, and the briny smell of the harbour -- she could fool herself into believing she was back there, and she did this frequently while gaining her degree in psychology at Sydney University. 
Though they were initially almost penniless, her family were determined to build a new life in Australia. An ambition the four of them shared. Since their arrival her sister had become a deputy principal at a prestigious private school, her mother had gone into local politics and her father into a part time private practice. There was, she said, “no black sheep in our family.”  The fact she said it in a voice that still held the vestiges of a South African accent, always made me wince, and wonder if she really was unaware of the un-PC racial inference in her words.
But looking back I think it was just my mind playing tricks. Trying to distract myself from wishing I was Richard fucking Rachel by a duck pond at a wedding. 
She updated me regularly on the progress of their relationship, which was entering new territory in so far as Rachel was concerned. Having reached the nine month stage, Richard had broached the subject of Rachel moving in with him. 
It was easier, he’d said, to move in with him as his penthouse apartment overlooking the harbour was twice as big as her unit, with plenty of room for her cat as well. Rachel had balked at this invitation, as I knew she would, but was never the less flattered by it. She seemed to want to relive the moment over and over with me at coffee break time.
I had surreptitiously taken up smoking (surreptitiously as far as my wife was concerned) so I could have an excuse to join Rachel on a daily basis outside on the footpath and listen to the juiciest bits of her life with Richard. A topic that Rachel was not shy of speaking about. 
I can only guess her interest in and study of psychology fuelled her fascination with the way people behaved, interacted, and above all, fucked, and made her so candid on the subject of her own sex life. That and maybe she just enjoyed making me blush. And, though she never said, I suspect she knew I wished I had half as dynamic a love life as her own. 
According to Rachel, Richard had a penchant for sex in dangerous places. It turned out their liaison by the duck pond at the wedding was not out of character for him.  So far, she said, they had done it in a cab, a cafĂ© and in her office last time Richard had visited. My own sex life was, at that stage, virtually non existent. And what there was usually involved only me. 
After hearing Rachel’s story I even took to sneaking outside at night, and wanking on the balcony, to see if I could capture something of the thrill. I ended this practice after the old Polish woman who lived in the apartment below, came upstairs to complain to my wife, complain about us spilling ‘glue’ on her washing. 
I stepped in and apologised. My wife looked at me quizzically when I said I’d been building balsa wood models on the balcony at night, when I couldn’t sleep. Later my wife said she didn’t know I was into model building.  I said it was a passion I’d kept from her out of embarrassment.  She bought me a model kit of a Voyager Rocket for my birthday.
It was that same week, the end of it I think, that Jamal walked into the office. I remember it quite well because he had a brief stand up argument with Amy the receptionist, a middle-aged woman from Hong Kong who looked like she was in her twenties.  This is not a weird racist thing to say. She genuinely did.  And she was the first to point it out. A number of times actually over the time I worked with her. Always in her very strongly Cantonese flavoured English. 
Well. In truth, she pointed it out the first time, and thereafter periodically would ask me if it was still the case that she looked in her twenties. And being the obliging fellow I was I would reply in the affirmative. 
Amy Chen was something of an enigma. She’d told me early on that she had no need to work, as her father was a multi millionaire and practitioner of traditional Chinese Medicine (of which Amy was also a devotee and to which she credited her youthful appearance). And that she’d spent a number of years ‘trying out’ cities and countries she might want to live in and Sydney, Australia, was lucky enough to get the gong. 
This morning Amy Chen had just finished flicking on the switches and arranging the flowers on her desk, when a tall young irate Middle Eastern looking guy walked out of the elevator, and in a Lebanese-Australian accent began to berate Amy.  
‘What’s wrong with you? Hey? Where were you sending me yesterday?’ 
I emphasise began to. That was as far as he got. 
Amy was five feet nothing and the tall dark guy, at around six two, was absolutely no match for her. Perched on her elevated chair she leaned over the counter, palms planted, like a pit-bull straining at a lease and barked: ‘You should listen to the direction carefully! Not my fault you not understand. You no speak English?  You should learn like I had to!’ 
He stood there jaw hanging, slowly shaking his head. 
In the interest of maintaining peace and unstained carpets I intervened, and persuaded Jamal with to come over and sit at my desk and tell me what was going on. He sat straight-backed in the chair, his olive black eyes so intense I had to intermittently look away. 
As I listened, Jamal calmed down. A relief to me as I’d had client’s with far less to be aggrieved about shout till the walls rang, throw my desk organiser across the room and attempt to kick holes in the elevator doors while they waited for the lift to arrive. 
It turned out that Jamal had contacted the office the day before to apply for a job in Woollahra, in the northern suburbs of Sydney. Having looked it up on the system, Amy had dutifully sent him off to an interview in Wollongong, some two hours to the south by train, and unfortunately not for the job he’d been enquiring about. 
This was no new set of circumstances, for despite her silken customer service skills, Amy’s telephone English in particular had resulted in more than a few misunderstandings. 
After he’d explained what had happened, I explained how and why it might have happened and apologised on Amy’s behalf. (It would have been easier to get truth from a politician in an election year than to extract an apology from her.) Shortly after Jamal left and I didn’t see him again for about a month.  
He was assigned back to the office and to Rachel’s caseload of Intensive Assistance clients. Long term unemployed who usually had at least one major obstacle to finding work: substance abuse problem, advancing age (anything over thirty five according to some employers), mental health issues, having served extended time in prison, and/or English as a second language. 
The last one was very common and it was eye opening to me when I started in the job trying to place NESB (Non English Speaking Background) clients with businesses run by people who shared the same first language and often the same culture, to find that usually carried surprisingly little water in the world of business.
‘Mandarin speaker is good. But no good for business if can’t speak English. Must speak English!’ as the Taiwanese-Australian matriarch of an import/export business once put it to me when I tried to place a Mandarin speaking client.
Jamal nodded politely to Amy when he came in and stood at the counter waiting patiently for her to complete a telephone conversation. When she’d finished Amy greeted him in her usual manner. ‘Good morning, name please?’
‘Jamal. Jamal Yousef.’
‘And do you have an appointment?’
‘Centre link sent me here.’  He handed her a card. 
‘Ah yes.’ She looked something up on her computer and said, ‘Ok you take a seat now and Rachel will see you in a moment.  THANK YOU.’ 
I winced. But he took his medicine without a word and sat down to wait.
At morning tea break Rachel asked me did I have any vacancies for labourers or the like. I said I didn’t but I had a couple of warehouse assistant jobs, one with an upmarket department store and another with a luxury sedan spare parts wholesaler. She said she didn’t think they would work out.  And when I said I had a stock-take assistant role at a jewellers she didn’t like the sound of that either. I didn’t think much about it at the time. 
It was only when she came to tell me, obviously amazed, that Jamal had wanted to do a security guard course that I discovered more. 
‘What’s so amazing about that?’
‘Well… do I have your confidence? Can I trust you not to say anything?’
‘Well, with all the stuff you’ve told me about you and your boyfriends, I would have thought you’d already answered that question.’
‘Ok. It’s just because this is my work.’ 
Her concern over client confidence amused me and I figured it was a hangover in part from having worked briefly as a prison psychologist, and partly from growing up in a family where the appearance of propriety seemed to matter more than matters of the heart. In contrast I regularly regurgitated the most colourful client histories and confessions over a beer at weekend barbeques. 
‘Scout’s honour,’ I said.
‘Ok, well Jamal’s spent eight years in prison for armed robbery.’
‘But… he looks so young.’
     ‘Yeah, he’d just turned eighteen when he did it.’
‘Jesus. Some people just have an eighteenth and get shit faced.  I guess we all celebrate in different ways.’
‘Ha. Ha. The point is he asked about doing a security guard course.’
‘What did you say when you got up off the floor?’
‘Well I didn’t say no. I thought it’s not my place to tell him he can’t do it. I’ll help him fill in the application, and when it comes back rejected I’ll steer him towards something more appropriate. But this is the thing, it comes back cleared. The police check comes back giving him the ok.’
‘Yeah. So I’m telling you because you’re older and maybe wiser than me.’ She pulled a face. ‘No, just older… so what do you think I should do about it? Should I contact the police and tell them what I know about his past? Or should I let it go?  But, if I let it go and he fucks up, am I somehow responsible?’
‘Mmm. I think I preferred it when we came out here and you told me about your sex life. Yes I definitely enjoyed that more.’
‘Be serious will you.’
‘Look. Did you actually get anything in writing to say he’d been in prison?’
‘No, you know we don’t. I only know because he disclosed it. But the point is I know.’
‘Yes, but if you do anything about it now you could be breaking confidentiality. Sort of like a priest -- a priest who likes to get pissed and fuck the guests at weddings.’
‘Would you stop dicking around and answer my question.’
     ‘I just did, or tried to. I would let it lie if I was you.  You did nothing wrong. As a matter of fact I would say you’ve done everything right.’
‘Thank you Duncan. I appreciate that.’
‘That’s quite alright Rachel.’
A few weeks later she shared more of Jamal’s history with me. 
‘You know he’s an interesting guy.’
‘What’s interesting about him besides having done time for an armed eighteenth celebratory bank heist?’
‘It wasn’t a bank it was an armoured van.’
‘Oh, I stand corrected.’
‘Did I tell you he worked at St Norbert’s Hospital for two years?’
‘Let me guess. In charge of accounts and payroll?’
‘He was an orderly. Specifically he wheeled patients in and out of theatre and dead people to the morgue. As time went on he said he got more and more of the morgue deliveries. In the end he had to quit after he wheeled down a young girl who was about the same age as his little sister, who’s still in Lebanon.’
‘Don’t they cover them up? The stiffs… how would he know what she looked like?’
‘He said that once they get the bodies down there the interns whip the sheet straight off. Sort of like a pissing contest -- who can be the least unsettled? You can imagine what self obsessed wankers med students and young doctors can be.’ 
The feeling with which she said this reminded me of her family background and suggested she’d had some experience with this. 
‘So anyway he quit. He told me he’d almost been fired after he’d been there for six months when his criminal record came to light. He’d used his middle name to register and he’d been missed in the police check.’
‘Maybe that’s what happened this time when you sent off the police check for the security guard course.’
‘Yeah maybe.’
On Monday Rachel came into work strutting around making more noise than usual. She’d been strange with me over the past couple of weeks. We’d even stopped sharing coffee breaks together.  Events came to a head when she flew off the handle at me for forgetting to pass on a telephone message. 
Despite my natural inclination to feel guilt and responsibility for most things that happened in my general vicinity, I managed to resist the urge and to see that Rachel’s out of character outbursts were more a sign that things were not going well in the land-of-Rachel-and-Richard. 
My suspicions were confirmed when she rang in sick the next day, and then called me at lunchtime to ask if could meet her at the food-court in the mall. 
I didn’t think it too strange that she was still wearing her Gucci sunglasses, even though we were sitting in the basement food-court. She was after all a girl who was into her accessories. 
‘Thanks for coming,’ she said.
‘Anytime. This might catch on you know.’
‘Just turning up for the lunch break. I think I’m going to try it myself. Lunch breaks and the pub on Friday afternoon at knocking off time.’ She laughed. Her chest heaving until tear drops rolled down from behind her glasses and then she was sobbing. 
Awkwardly I reached across and put my hand on her shoulder. 
‘What is it? What’s wrong Rachel?’ 
Never having seen her cry before, and having suspected when she did, it was only ever in private, I was taken aback by her public display of emotion. 
‘So much for never crying over one,’ she said, raising her head and taking off her glasses. 
‘Fuck!’ I said. The family on the next table stopped scoffing their foot-long-subs and looked over, mouths full of chewed meatballs and lettuce. 
‘What happened?’ I asked, lowering my voice. She was sporting a big black and blue shiner around what yesterday was the left of her deep brown eyes. 
‘Do you want the long or the short version?’
‘I don’t know. Just tell me. Who did this?’
Fuck! Richard! Isn’t he a lawyer?’ I felt like an idiot as soon as I said it but it just slipped out. 
She smiled sardonically. ‘What are you suggesting? That I get him to represent me against himself?’
‘What are you going to do?’
‘I don’t fucking know Duncan. That’s why I’m sitting here with you. Because I don’t know what to do. All my shit is at his place. 
‘I have to go back there but I’m scared. 
‘I’ve never been in a situation like this before. I always thought women that let this happen to them asked for it. I know that sounds fucked. But I did. I can’t believe it’s happened to me.’
‘Are you going to leave him?’
Fuck I don’t know. He’s never done it before. We’ve been fighting a lot recently, about lots of things. For the last couple of months we’ve been either fucking or fighting and lately it’s been only the fighting. I don’t know what to do.’
‘If he’s hitting you I don’t think you have a choice. You have to get out.’
‘I do have a fucking choice. I don’t need you to tell me that.’
‘Ok, ok, I’m just trying to look out for you.’ 
She started tracing figure eights with her finger on the table in a puddle of diet coke. ‘I know. I’m sorry. Forgive me.’ 
I’d never heard Rachel talk like that before and it unsettled me as much as her black eye. ‘Have you told your family?’     
‘No, I don’t want to worry them.’
‘Is there anything I can do for you? Do you want to come and stay with Ingrid and me?’ 
She patted my hand and smiled at me. ‘Thank you Duncan.  You’re a mate. But no I don’t want that. I want you to see Jamal for me though. He’s coming in this afternoon and I haven’t been able to contact him to cancel. He’s not answering his home phone and there’s no message service. I think he’s the only client I have who doesn’t have a mobile.’
Jamal turned up for his appointment later that day and seemed concerned as to why I was seeing him, instead of Rachel.  I explained it was a one-off because Rachel was sick and hadn’t been able to contact him. ‘You don’t have a mobile?’ I asked him. 
‘No,’ he said.
‘Maybe we can help organise one for you.’
‘I don’t want one.’
‘You’d find it very helpful for job-searching. People can always get hold of you.’
‘I don’t want one. I don’t want to be gotten hold of. I have to go.’ He stood up. ‘Next time I will see Rachel. Yes?’ Despite the inflection it was more a statement than a question. 
‘Yes, next time,’ I said, watching him leave.
He was back the next week which was unusual in itself as IA appointments were normally monthly, at the most fortnightly.  Rachel was back to her near normal self having regaled everyone with a tale of how she’d acquired her black eye: after polishing off a second bottle of Bollinger she’d tripped over on Richard’s boss’s yacht and tried to swab the deck with her face. She laughed so loud after she’d said it that everyone felt compelled to join in. 
When I asked later what she’d decided she said everything had worked out ok and that she didn’t want to talk about it. Her annoyance at my bringing it up, and at herself for having told me what had happened in the first place, was palpable. ‘Please don’t ask me about it again,’ she said, stabbing her Louboutin stiletto heel into a gold-foil-tipped cigarette butt and grinding it into the footpath.
The subject didn’t come again for a week. When Richard ended up in hospital with a multi-fractured jaw and bruised ribs. He’d been walking from his office in the city to his car, when according to Rachel he was jumped by three islanders who worked him over and stole his wallet. It was handed in to a police station a few days later, minus cash and credit cards. 
Richard was eating his food through a straw for a while after that and the bad news didn’t end there. A few days later without warning he kicked Rachel out of his penthouse apartment with the harbour view. 
She moved into a two bedroom unit in Chippendale which Amy recommended, coincidentally or not, in the same block of apartments in which Amy lived. 
For a time Rachel seemed broken hearted, but not too much later she told me it had only been bruised, and that Richard had really done her a favour by ejecting her from his life. 
‘He was only a man. I’m not going to cry over him.’
She became more her old self at work and for a long while was boy-friendless -- a state I’d never seen her exist in before. 
Her She and Amy carpooled and started socialising. And she threw herself into work, in particular into trying to get Jamal, who had recently finished his security guard course, a job guarding something or someone that needed guarding by a twenty seven year old who’d spent almost a third of his time on the planet in jail for armed robbery. A peculiar irony if ever I’d seen one.
Needless to say I was more than a little surprised when Rachel announced she had gotten Jamal a job as a night security guard in a business hotel. 
‘They do a police check? They weren’t bothered by the record?’ I asked.
‘The manger’s father was from the same village in Lebanon as Jamal. He didn’t send off the police check. He asked Jamal in the interview if he’d ever been in trouble with the law and Jamal told him and he said he’d leave out the police check and give Jamal a trial for six weeks. 
‘If it goes well he’d give him the job. Jamal had a good reference from the hospital which also helped, but it was the Lebanese connection that did it.’
I nodded.
I didn’t hear anything about Jamal again until the murder and attempted robbery was on the news three months later. 
The hotel where he was the night security guard was only a few blocks away from where we worked. Walking to the office that morning I diverted to go past. There was a police car out the front and I saw one or two other people stare for longer than they would normally have at a typical inner city business hotel. 
When I got to work Rachel wasn’t there, she’d rung in sick.  I’d bought the paper on the way up and sat down at my desk to read it. It didn’t give any names; it just said there’d been a killing during an attempted robbery at the Westchester hotel. At this stage police had not released any names but it was thought the dead man was a hotel employee. Police suspected the robbers had been assisted by someone on the inside. 
Then my phone rang. It was Rachel.
‘Fuck Duncan he’s killed someone… it’s my fault.’
‘Look hold on. You don’t know he was even involved.’
‘Early this morning, after I heard the news, I rang his mobile and there was no answer.’
‘I thought he didn’t have a mobile.’
‘Before he got the job he asked me to get him one, to help with job searching. Anyway, I’ve spoken to him a few times since he’s left my caseload, unofficially, just to see how he’s going at work.  He always picks up when I call.
‘When I tried again later the police answered. They didn’t say who it was at first, but when I asked for him they started asking me all these questions and when I told them who I was they took my name, address and number.’
‘Yeah that sounds normal for something like this. But look you don’t know it was Jamal… the paper doesn’t give any names.  Did the police tell you it was him?’
‘No, they just said Jamal had been involved in an incident and that they couldn’t tell me anymore right now as I wasn’t family.’       
‘Well I’d wait till you get the full picture before you begin to self flagellate.’
‘Ok, yes… you’re probably right.’ 
‘More often than not my wife says -- "not".’
‘You’re a strange guy Duncan. You know that?’
‘Yeah, she says that too.’
The next day the police turned up at the office to speak to Rachel. 
I thought it slightly odd that they’d want to talk to Rachel, Jamal’s ex-case manager. He’d been working at the hotel for three months and as far as I knew he hadn’t been back to the office. 
When the police left Rachel walked over to my desk, chalk white in the face. Sweat rings under her arm pits.
‘Jamal was the one that was killed,’ she said. 
Jamal had just finished a floor walk, collecting room service trays and checking fire escape doors and had gone to the kitchen to get something to eat, where he found the night concierge on his hands and knees getting the shit beaten out of him by two balaclava clad men with night sticks and New Zealand accents, in an effort to extract the combination to the safe from him. (A piece of information it turned out he didn’t have access to.)
Jamal had stepped in and knocked one down, but the other had taken the chance to wind up and hit him across the back of the head with his night stick. 
Jamal fought back, but when he went down they made sure he’d never get up again. The night concierge meanwhile crawled to a phone and dialled 000. The robbers left bloodied but empty handed. The night concierge was left traumatised and Jamal dead. 
What I didn’t understand was why the police were here to talk to Rachel. 
The next day I found out why.  
Apparently Jamal had something of a shrine going at his place to Rachel. He had photos of her. Of her and her cat in the park. And, of her and Richard. 
That wasn’t the only trace of Richard in Jamal’s apartment; his driver’s license was on Jamal’s desk along with a letter to Richard on his computer which said the following:
I know where you live and I know what you did to Rachel.  If you don’t want me to share what I know and finish the job I began the other night then you will do four things:
·  Tell her you want to break up with her and she must move out
·  Give Rachel enough money to get her own place
·  Do not tell her or anyone else about this letter
·  Never go near her again
If these criteria aren’t met in the next week you will be hearing from me.
At Jamal’s funeral there were only a few mourners: Rachel, Amy, the hotel duty manager and the night concierge, still in plaster. I was stood there, wondering why I was crying at the funeral of a bloke I didn’t know. Overhead, under a big sky, a magpie warbled in a fig tree branch. Rachel turned to me, wiping her eyes with an embroidered silk D&G scarf. 
‘This is getting to be a habit.’

Copyright © 2012 by J.C. Phalene

If you enjoyed this, you might enjoy my novel: Seventeen Summers.


  1. This is an interesting story. I enjoyed the details of Rachel's background, it made her a more sympathetic character. I liked the twist of the ending about Jamal. I read it quickly, but one thing I noticed, you wrote "Her and Amy carpooled". I think it should be " She and Amy carpooled".

    1. Thanks Doug, I completely agree. And will make the change immediately. I appreciate you taking the time to read my story and I'm pleased you enjoyed it.