Monday 28th March sees Christopher Nosnibor’s novella From Destinations Set published as a trade paperback by Clinicality Press. Full details to follow. In the meantime, review copies will be available soon. If you’re interested in reviewing the book, please get in touch via the website (clinicalitypress.co.uk).
It was just another ordinary day. It had, so far, been just another ordinary weekday morning. Wayne had spent the morning doing the same as he always did. His mundane administrative position at The Corporation Inc. could not have been said to be a challenging role, but that was the way he liked it. Wayne liked a quiet life. Simple, safe, no alarms and no surprises. Nothing to disturb the status quo. He had it comfortable, and he knew he couldn’t complain. He had been in the same job since the age of seventeen. He was now thirty-two. Some of his friends and colleagues had, in the past, accused him of being lazy. Perhaps he was, but he was also content. And while all around him people were complaining about their lives and their lot, Wayne had a lot to be grateful for, and having nothing to complain about was certainly amongst the many things he had to be grateful for. He lived at home with his parents. Again, some of his friends and colleagues had, in the past, accused him of being lazy. Perhaps he was, but he was also content. And while all around him people were complaining about their lives and their lot, Wayne had a lot to be grateful for, and having nothing to complain about was certainly amongst the many things he had to be grateful for.
His brother, the elder sibling by two years, had left home in his early twenties and was now married with a child. He lived with his wife not three streets from Wayne and Mr and Mrs MacRobertson. He was happy, there was no doubt about it, but Wayne didn’t envy him all that much apart from the fact he got to shag his missus whenever he wanted. Yes, Wayne did envy him that: living with a real life woman, seeing her naked, having her as his sex-slave… Dave and Sheila’s son, Wayne’s nephew, whom they had named Ewan, was a lovely wee chap, and Wayne doted on him tirelessly, but was at the same time grateful that he didn’t have the responsibility of having to care for the child himself. He was also grateful that he didn’t have to endure the financial burden of bringing up a wain. Or have the financial burden of a mortgage, wife, bills, etc. Not that Wayne didn’t have any responsibilities or financial obligations. He paid his mother £100 a month board, which also got him free Sky TV courtesy of his brother who was an employee of the company, dinner on the table every night, his laundry and shopping done. In return, he helped about the house whenever necessary – which was usually when his father was doing a spot of DIY or needed assistance moving heavy items of furniture or whatnot. Although some of his friends and colleagues had accused him of being lazy, Wayne didn’t really care. Perhaps he was, but he was also content. And while all around him people were complaining about their lives and their lot, Wayne had a lot to be grateful for, and having nothing to complain about was certainly amongst the many things he had to be grateful for. After all, his parents respected his privacy, gave him as much space as he really required, and his mother never made an issue of the stiff crotches in some of his boxers or the silver trails which marked some of his sheets when she came to change his bed on a Tuesday after he’d gone to work. He assumed she never looked under his bed, or was otherwise largely unconcerned by the magazines stored there. Not that there was much to be concerned by: apart from a couple of issues of Playboy which featured some of his favourite celebrities, Wayne contented himself with FHM and Loaded. Wayne had spent the last ten minutes typing the same letter. His concentration kept wandering back to the pictures of Dannii Minogue he had downloaded the night before. He had sat and supped Budweiser from the bottle as the pictures had appeared on his 19” TFT flat-screen monitor, before masturbating into a sock and going to sleep around midnight.
“Man, I’m so fucking bored!” yawned his colleague who sat beside him. John was always bored, and usually complained of being so at least three times during the course of any given working day. He had managed not to complain about his boredom all morning today, though, and it was now almost midday. John stretched his arms upwards and outwards. Being almost 6’4”, he possessed quite an arm span when he stretched, and his left hand wavered just a couple of inches to the right of Wayne’s ear, alerting him from his pleasant daydream in which Dannii had paid him a visit in the lace dress she had worn on ‘Top Of The Pops’ when she had performed the single ‘Put the Needle On It.’ She’d taken no persuading to slip the dress off, either! But as John’s big fingers eclipsed Wayne’s peripheral vision, Dannii had disappeared in a puff of smoke to be replaced by the usual office surroundings.
“Aye, same here,” Wayne said with a nod.
“When are you off for lunch?” asked John.
“Ah dunno,” replied Wayne. “Ah’m no’ fussed. Thought I might go about wan, but Ah’ve goat nothen’ tae de, so’s ye can gae whin youse like.”
“I’ll probably go in about ten minutes, then.”
“Aye. Nae bother.” Wayne was a Scot and proud of it. And right now he was starting to get hungry. “Hey, bring us some mence and totties back if yir oaf t’ the canteen, would ye?”
“I shan’t be going to the canteen, Scots boy,” replied his colleague. “Besides, I thought you were on a diet.”
It was true. Wayne was six feet tall, but weighed almost seventeen stone. This hadn’t bothered him too greatly over the years, but now he was growing aware of the long-term health implications of obesity. Turning thirty had been something of a catalyst, but then so had the growing pain in his knees. Losing weight would not cure this entirely, but the additional strain caused by his excessive weight was clearly not helping matters.
“Aye, Ah am,” he sighed. “Slim Fast fir lunch again fir me.” If Ah can stick to it and lose a couple or three staines Ah might get laid at last. Ah’m fuckin’ sick o’ bein’ a thirty-toose yir oal’ virgin. Whetch reminds me… “S’pose I ought tae try an’ dae somethin’ aboot thes,” he said, slapping his belly which wobbled beneath the knit of his acrylic sweatshirt. He scratched at his nipple. This shirt disnae hoff chafe. Especially whin mah hair gits cayght in the fabric.
Wayne had in recent weeks begun to chat up one of the admin staff at one of the Corporation’s other offices. He’d spoken to her in the line of business a number of times on the phone, and she’d sounded nice. Friendly, pleasant. He’d asked her one or two things about herself, and had found out one or two things during the course of their exchanges. Hazel was twenty-four and liked music and films. He had also learned from one of her colleagues that she was single. She’d only been single a short while, but this was all good news as far as Wayne was concerned. He’d seen a picture of her with her team-mates in the company newsletter – they had recently done some sponsored pub crawl or something for charity and raised over £500 – and that had been it. The picture, along with the phone calls, had been all he’d needed. Wayne was in love. He knew she was the one. In his dreams their phone calls and emails had reached a crescendo, at which point Hazel had succumbed to his charms and taken the train up from Truro in order to meet her (until now) virtual lover. It happened all the time: people meeting on the Internet and living happily ever after. In his mind’s eye, he had replayed it all countless times already. He’d taken her out for a slap-up meal, before going back to his place and making beautiful love.
Whit she needs is a bloak who’ll look eftir hir. A bloak who’ll see hir right, take hir t’ the films an’ play hir some decent records. An’ who’ll show her whit a real man cin dae…
Years of singleness and virginhood had, in some aspects of his life, left Wayne in something of a state of arrested development. A child of the seventies, Wayne had, under the shadow of his loving mother’s sagging bosom, remained in a timewarp of sorts, and while he frequently went to the pub or the cinema with his friends, his clothing and his musical tastes were horribly out of fashion. He still wore taper-legged stonewashed denims – jacket and jeans – and garishly patterned rugby shirts and sweatshirts and cream leatherette trainers. He still listened almost exclusively to early Genesis and Dark Side of the Moon era Pink Floyd. And he still sported a haircut which was distinctly mulletty, which his mother cut for him when his fringe, now thinning, got in his eyes and tickled the bridge of his nose too much. Consequently, Wayne’s ideas regarding what it was to be a ‘man,’ and his views on relationships and sexual equality were firmly rooted in the 1970s. Men should be men, he thought, an’ babes should be babes, and to this end he had steadfastly refused to address the issue of his ever-thickening body hair. Indeed, the hair on his back and shoulders seemed to be developing in direct proportion to his receding hairline and widening centre parting. He had, the previous night, sent an email to the object of his desire at the Truro office bearing attachments in the form of photographic self-portraits taken with the digital camera he had recently purchased. Another one of the benefits of living at home was the amount of disposable income he had each month. While most of this went into savings, he could readily afford to treat himself to the latest gadgetry, even on his modest wage. One of the pictures had been a full-length shot of him in his room, posing with a grin and wearing his best denims beside the life-size cardboard cut-out of Angelina Jolie his friends has bought him last Christmas. Another had been a close-up of his face, while the third had been a picture of his lower back, jis’ fir fun. So’s Hazel can see that Ah’m a real man, no’ wan o’ these nancy boys that go in fir all that waxing – back, crack an’ sack – or fake tans an’ moisturisers. No’ like some o’ these pouffy types. Homos like that should be castrated. Taken’ et up the erse just isnae natural, it’s no’ right an’ et’s against Goad. But Ah’m a real man, an Ah’ll show her what a proaper man cun dae. She’ll no’ be able to resist me…
“I can’t be arsed with this,” John groaned, yawning again. “I’m so fucking bored here,” he added. “Don’t you ever get bored?” The question was again addressed to Wayne.
“Aye, bit it’s nae sae bad,” he shrugged. “Mah mate works in a metal works, an’ that’s whit Ah call hard work. I’d no’ fancy that! Ah consider mahsel’ lucky, really, coz Ah git tae set oan mah erse aw dae. Ah couldnae dae whit he does anyway, mind, no’ wi’ mah back. An’ hes joab’s en the line the noo an’ aw. There’s nae safe joabs in manual work.”
“How long have you been here?” asked John.
“Ach, Ah cannae mind.” Wayne paused, suppressing a belch. “Eh, nearly fourteen year the noo,” he said.
“Fuck me, that’s more than half of my life! And it’s not far off half of yours!”
“Aye, true, but…”
“Ever thought about leaving, changing jobs?” John quizzed.
“Aye, but Ah’m okay here,” Wayne shrugged.
“Lazy bastard,” said John, shaking his head as he rose to leave for his lunch. It wasn’t the first time Wayne had been called a lazy bastard. Indeed, many of his friends and colleagues had accused him of being a lazy bastard. Perhaps he was, but he was also content. And while all around him people were complaining about their lives and their lot, Wayne had a lot to be grateful for, and having nothing to complain about was certainly amongst the many things he had to be grateful for.
With John now away for his lunch, Wayne decided it was time to send Hazel an email. He hadn’t heard from her since the previous afternoon, and was keen to get her reaction to his photographs. Ah wonder why she’s no’ mailed me thes morning. Ah wonder whit she thenks. Ah bet she’s been showen’ her colleagues mah pics an’ tellen’ ‘em aw that thes es her new bloak. They’ll be well impressed that she’s managed tae find hersel’ a nice guy, one weth money, an’ savings an’ a secure joab, an’ a proaper man, an’ aw. One who’ll treat hir right an’ look eftir hirs. No’ like that last knob she wes weth. If Ah play et right, she’ll move up here an’ we can get a place thegither. Mah savings would make a good deposit oan a hoose. An’ ef oor keds look’d enything like hir, I’d be so chuffed! What with my strong manly genes an’ hir good looks an aw…
Wayne sets to typing. It hasn’t occurred to him that Hazel might not be as keen on him as he is her, or that the self-portrait and the picture of his hairy kidneys hadn’t sent her heart into orbit over him. Why wouldn’t they? Alright, so he was a little overweight, his hair was thinning and receding a little, but he was a good enough looking guy and any girl would be lucky to have him. The only reason he had been single all his life was because he’d not made the effort before, and he’d not made the effort because he’d not met the right girl before. And there was no point making the effort for someone who wasn’t perfect, who was second best, who didn’t fulfil his dreams, his lifelong aspirations. He’d been biding his time, waiting for the right one to come along. And now she had. Now he had found Hazel, it was worth making the effort. And make the effort he would. All of the things he’d thought about doing, all of the things he’d seen in films, all of those tricks and the romantic gestures the heroes used to woo the chicks, who would invariably fall at their feet, if not immediately, then when they made those grand romantic displays which showed how much they meant to him… Then they’d turn to pulp and simply fall deeply and forever in love with the perfect romantic hero who’d made all the right moves. Wayne had seen it in the movies, and had thought of how it would be when he finally met the one, and now it was time to put all of this into practice.
Perhaps Ah should huv worn mah suit for the full-length pic oav me instead o’ mah jeans. Nah, thir’s time fir tha’ – Ah can always wear it when we meet. In fact, Ah’ll need it fir when Ah take her oot for a poash meal. She’ll be swept oaf hir feet by the ambience and mah smooth look an’ convirsation. She’ll thenk Ah’m some James Boand type character, well smooth an’ charming an’ completely irresistible. Ah’ll be in hir pants in nae time.
And there was no time like the present to resume his charm offensive. Oh yes, he’d pull out all the stops and she’d be his. Of course, he already had a head start in that she clearly fancied him already. She often signed off her emails ‘H x,’ which was a total come-on. Subtle, understated, and so sweet that Wayne would alternately melt and stiffen. The fact that Hazel only seemed to email on work business hadn’t completely escaped Wayne, and he found it quite charming, made him love her all the more. She was perfect: polite, bright and a little bit shy. That was why she’d not responded to some of his more full-on mails. He sat and smiled to himself as he imagined her at her desk, blushing when she read his missives of gushing flattery. Of course, this was nothing compared to what he would say, or do, when they finally met, in the flesh. And so Wayne began to type.
Nah, Ah’ve used that win quite a few times already the noo. Whet’s a bet more inventive, a bet more… what says whet Ah really feel?
Hey there my beautiful wee darling, how’s it going today? I thought about you all last night…
…apart from when Ah wes thinkin’ aboot Dannii, that es, but et’s perfectly normal fir a bloke to look at other women. In fact, it’s essential for maintaining a relationship, ‘cause it stoaps ye getting fed op, an’ et’s herlmess as loang as ye dinnae take it any further than jes’ lookin. Mah bro says he does it all the time, and his missus is fine wi’ et. Mind ye, when Ah’m goin’ doon the street weth Hazel oan mah erm, Ah dinnae think Ah’ll be noticin’ other women, somehoo.
Some of his friends and colleagues, and even his brother, had accused him of being lazy. Perhaps he was, but he was anything but lazy when it came to putting the moves on Hazel. And while all around him people were complaining about their lives and their lot, Wayne had a lot to be grateful for, and once he had Hazel, and a place of their own, his life would be complete.
…and woke up with a smile on my face this morning.
Did you like the pics? If you think my back’s hairy, you should see my arse! Maybe you will if you’re lucky, hotstuff.
Big Wayne xxx
That ought tae get a reaction. She’ll probably huv tae gae an’ frig hersel’ silly befoor she can think straight tae mail me back, though.
Wayne smirked to himself and looked up from his monitor, casting his eyes over the people down the office. There weren’t many, as a large majority had left for their lunch already. He could see Jock, his manager, wandering toward the lifts with his designer parka on. Julie, the fat slapper, was sitting at her desk, talking loudly to one of her mates on the phone.
“I know, I was mashed, don’t know ‘ow I got ‘ome! Ahahahahahahaaahahah! I know! I didn’t, like, know what I was doin’! Did I really? … No… nooo! Aaaahhhh! No… I was just like totally…. Yeah, an’ it was like, y’know what I mean? Ahahahahahahahahahahaha!”
Weird Neil was sitting quietly, looking vacantly out of the window. Susie, who was a ‘hottie,’ but a little too vacant for Wayne’s liking, was at the drinks machine.
Ach, she’s a wee honey, that yin. Hmm, Ah could use a drenk. Mebbe Ah cin call o’er to hir an’ git hir tae breng me a water. Thin mebbe Ah’ll get a wee peep doon hir toap again an’ check oot those greet baps o’ hirs. Fine pair o’ cans – an’ no’ a bad erse, either. Tight wee erse, in fact. Ah! Man! Mm-hmm! Shame she’s no’ so bright. Ah mean, that bloke o’ hirs, whit’s she doin’ wi’ hem? He’s goat ears like the FA Cup fir a start! Lucky wee bastart. If she was single an’ a bet brighter, I’d go oot weth her mahsel.’ Ah cudnae, though: the lack o’ prepir convirsation’d dae ma heid in eftir a wee while. Ah’d no’ mind ge’en hir one, though, that’s fir sures. No’ the noo, though, av course. Not noo Ah’ve goat wee Hazel. Ah’ve goat et made!
Wayne sat back in his seat and watched Susie wiggle her way down the office carrying a tray topped with half a dozen plastic cups containing various foul liquids dispensed by the vending machine. There was no tea in the tea, no coffee in the coffee and no orange was that colour even in cartoons. He looked on at her buttocks and the way the fabric of her mid-thigh black skirt tightened across them as she bent forward to place one of the cups on Adrian’s desk. Adrian was a skinhead with a tattoo on his neck, but to Wayne he seemed quite pleasant enough despite his appearance.
He’s awright by me. At least he’s no’ a poof.
The action was repeated when she reached the desk of Ebony, the Corporation’s token black. It’s important for a company to be seen to be employing a full cross section of minorities and stereotypes. That Ebony was a wheelchair-bound lesbian was no coincidence.
Wayne checked his email inbox. Nothing from Hazel yet. He returned to the letter he had been writing in another programme. He really couldn’t be bothered with it. The fact was, he couldn’t be bothered with all that much. Some of his friends and colleagues accused him of being lazy. Perhaps he was, but he was also content, for the most part. There was, to his mind, only one thing missing from his life, and he just wanted to devote all of his time to addressing that issue. He wanted to devote all of his waking hours to talking to Hazel, showing her his devotion to her, emailing her, thinking about her, and to devote all of his sleeping hours to dreaming of her.
“There you go, flower,” Susie was saying to One-Armed Seamus while placing the final cup of her round on his desk.
Then it hit Wayne. Genius! It couldn’t fail!
Flairs! Ah’ll send Hazel some flairs! A nice beg bunch, an’ aw. Ah cannae fail wi’ flairs. Chicks love ‘em! She’ll be putty in mah honds!
Suddenly there was a loud bang outside and people rose from their desks and rushed to the window to look out and see what had caused it. Wayne hesitated for a moment, but then he saw Susie heading to the window and decided it wouldn’t hurt to go and take a peek out of the window. And so he rose and lumbered, mindful of his aching knees and stiff back, toward the window, following the swinging butt in front of him as it made its way behind swinging hips to its destination. He peered over the tops of the row of heads that lined the window: being tall had its advantages.
Out on the street below, two cars had collided. It didn’t look too serious, as both of the drivers were already getting out of their dented vehicles. One looked extremely angry, the other confused. The angry one started shouting at the confused one, whose look of confusion began to be replaced by a look of fear.
Some of those gathered in the office began to squeak with excitement at the prospect of a full-on barney, some post-accident road rage.
“He’s going to lamp ‘im one!” a voice said with vindictive enthusiasm.
“Fight, fight, fight,” chanted One-Armed Seamus, laughing.
Wayne chuckled to himself, both at the scene unfolding below and the reactions of his colleagues. Small dramas like this always drew a crowd in the office, anything to cause a diversion from doing work. A small crowd was also starting to gather below as the angry driver continued to shout, his face red with rage. It was hard to tell exactly what he was shouting due to the distance and the window blocking most of the sound from outdoors, but he appeared to be asking the scared driver if they were blind or just fucking stupid. While the numbers standing kerbside swelled, those who did not wish to linger and spectate struggled to get past the clamorous bodies: an old woman with a Zima frame was having particular difficulty in making her way through. A businessman in a suit was in a hurry and jostled some of those gathered to one side; a man in a black jacket and black jeans wove through like a sniper, darting through the gaps; a young woman with a pushchair and a child on reigns simply stood and looked harried. The motorists didn’t come to blows and the angry man started to calm down when he saw the masses gathered at the roadside.
Chuckling again, Wayne returned to his desk and sat down. He finished typing the letter and sent it to print. He filed it from his day’s ‘to do’ list and rechecked his email in box. Still nothing.
Perhaps she’s aff today. Or perhaps she’s jest in a meeting or something. Or an early lunch. Ah suppose she could even jes’ be really busy or something. Ah hope ah sent those pics to the right address… Ach, bound to huv. Ah should proabably jes’ check the neet, though, jes’ tae be sure.
His stomach rumbled, reminding him that it was lunchtime.
Ah should get mahsel’ somethin’ tae eat. These Slim Fasts urnae aw that fillin’ fir a guy like me: ah need some meat. McDonald’s, perhaps. Ach, noo, Ah fancy mahsel’ a KFC checken wrap, aye…
And with that, he took his anorak from the back of his chair and headed out of the office.