Category Archives: Contemporary fiction

Lone Star State (Expansion Pack Lite Bonus Limited Edition V.I.P. Access Upgrade)

The Makings of Mia Pleasure, nee Mia Brigshaw, nee (nee?) Karen Brigshaw…

Mr. Brigshaw keeps his head down as he leaves the house these days. He’s been given instructions on where the bus will collect him. The location changes from day to day, and it’s only decided upon the night before by whomever it is who does the deciding. Mr. Brigshaw prefers to get to these locations on his push-iron – it’s far easier to make a quick dash for it when you’re on two wheels rather than on Shanks’ pony. Being on his bike allows him to carry a substantial chain, for locking the bike up, but also a handy tool if needed for other uses.


There’s little camaraderie on the bus these days. Heads down whilst boarding, pick a seat, no matter where really, reach into whatever pocket has the ciggies (if there’s enough money for those) or tobacco, light the thing, and suck back until you arrive at your destination. Then the fun begins. First, there’s the noise – this is a good indicator of what follows next. Then there’re the objects that strike the meshed window-protectors, sometimes just bouncing off and away, sometimes getting stuck in the mesh, sometimes, if they’re small enough, say a small stone, iron nut, or the like, they’ll hit the window itself. Then comes the rocking motion of the bus as hands push against the flat, metal panels, more in the spirit of ‘making a point’ than in actually achieving something spectacular like pushing the bus over and onto its side – they’ve never even come close, so far. Then there’s the pneumatic sound that signals the bus has come to its temporary resting place. Funny word, pneumatic, thinks Mr. Brigshaw. He remembers looking it up for some assignment at school, a long time ago now, and finding what he wanted, but at the same time learning that in another sense it was meant to have something to do with women’s bodies – he never could work that one out, that one such meaning/definition gave reliable information relating to what he knew of the word, that is air/air pressure related, but that the other definition was supposed to mean having a well-proportioned feminine figure; especially (and he remembers the ‘especially’ bit very well) having a full bust. Do these people just make this stuff up?

Mr. Brigshaw’s train of thought is broken as the day’s first glob of orally propelled phlegm hits the side of his head…


Lone Star State (Expansion Pack Lite Bonus Limited Edition V.I.P Access)

The Makings of Mia Pleasure, nee Mia Brigshaw, nee (nee?) Karen Brigshaw…

Scab. Your dad’s a f***ing scab.

Karen hadn’t, at first, realised that the boy was shouting abuse at her as she walked home from school.

Scab. Your dad’s a f***cking scab.


Karen, having latched on to the fact that the she was now the one in the spotlight, with other kids gawping at her from the other side of the road, and with a few semi-interested adults who just happened to decide to take in some fresh air, or to have a cigarette as the boy started his tirade against Karen, and who are happy to idly watch the pre-situation unfold in the hope that it might just become a situation, feeling very much alone, but not in the least bit scared at this point, dropped her school bag from off of the shoulder it had been slung over and quizzed the boy as to just what was his f***ing problem.

Your dad’s a scab.

Karen hadn’t really come across the word before, but it didn’t sound good – nothing good can come from scabs, she thought.

And if he’s a scab, you’re his scab bitch daughter.

Karen took a good few steps towards the boy, leaving her school bag just as it was, and maintained eye contact with him as she walked. She stopped just in front of him – big lad, plump without being what you’d call fat, ugly and covered in spots from his cheeks down to the base of his neck, and not just the fiery looking ones but the one’s that resemble craters with pre-eruption pus fairly bursting to get out.

What you looking at, scab slag? Gonna go crying to your scab dad?

Karen continues her stare, then…

Lone Star State (Expansion Pack Lite Bonus Limited Edition)

The Makings of Mia Pleasure, nee Mia Brigshaw, nee (nee?) Karen Brigshaw…

The paper slips out with the softest of sounds and lies on the Formica surface, shy of the smear of tea left just moments earlier. A pouch thwacks onto the table, causing the smear to spread as the cold tea on the upwards-facing spoon is flicked as said spoon bounces and settles again. The paper lies pristine, the weed scattered along its body, before the oft-performed ritual commences. A sigh, then swift lift, roll, pause, moist tongue-tip run along the one, sticky edge, which is sealed with care, before a tiny piece of cereal packet, ripped from a corner of the box that exhibits many such scars, is inserted into the mouth end of Mr. Brigshaw’s roll-up before he sets it down, again missing the tea-smear as he does so, and picks up his blisteringly-hot mug of tea (six sugars).


Mr. Brigshaw’s heavily tobacco-scented index finger, somewhat jaundiced in its discolouration, pokes around the box hoping to find a match that has its phosphorous head in tact, as opposed to the many blackened heads that are returned to the box after use, and that now account for the large percentage of the box’s contents. Once found, it too is placed on the table to await its fate. Karen starts to feel the pressure of the first-cigarette-of-the-day building, not that Mr. Brigshaw applies any such pressure, but she knows that he won’t touch it until she’s left the table. She scrapes the last of the cereal from the bowl, tilts the bowl to gather the last of the bovine lactation in her spoon, before removing the bowl to the sink, where it will stay until Mrs. Brigshaw returns from the factory (much to her (Mrs. Brigshaw’s) annoyance).



The match strikes.

Lone Star State (Expansion Pack Lite Bonus)

The Makings of Mia Pleasure, nee Mia Brigshaw, nee (nee?) Karen Brigshaw…

Karen’s (and later, Mia’s) hatred for the police, and I realise that ‘hatred’ is a very strong word sometimes used in the wrong context – but in this particular instance hatred sums her feelings up perfectly, can be traced back to one particular day when her ‘striking’ father, Mr. Brigshaw, took her on a bus with his fellow striking miners and their families to somewhere she thinks must have been Yorkshire because of how long it took to get there and because of the way the people she met there talked funny. Mr. Brigshaw had not wanted to take her along, but Mrs. Brigshaw insisted that she couldn’t take care of Karen on that particular day because of Aunt Susan’s ‘women’s problems,’ whatever that meant.


The bus journey itself did not put Mr. Brigshaw out any as all of the men sat silently smoking at the front of the bus, all of the women sat smoking and talking endlessly around the middle section, with the children piled at the back trying desperately to keep their seat on the prized ‘back row’ seats – prized because of the big window, allowing those sitting there to pull faces and/or stick fingers up at the drivers behind them on the motorway. Karen kept her seat on the back row for the entire journey. The arrival did not put Mr. Brigshaw out as a woman with a whole litter of runts took a shine to Karen and offered her services even though Karen would have rather she hadn’t bothered. The day started off pretty boring and Karen half-wondered if she’d rather have gone with Mrs. Brigshaw to see about Aunt Susan, but the mother-runt had a picnic basket stuffed with all sorts that kept Karen’s mind occupied for the most part – bags of broken biscuits off the market, aniseed balls, drumstick lollies, butter pies, the sort of cavity-inducing, artery-clogging crap that poor people crave.

There seemed to Karen, whilst reflecting on the day’s events in her bed that night, to be two very different moods evident at the journey’s end. The first filled with boredom, perhaps a twinge of excitement that something might happen, and then just boredom again, all of which took place while basking underneath a rolling sky that alternated between blue and a kind of light grey. The second seemed to be accompanied by a chill wind, the screams of desperate mothers and their socially limited offspring, the clip clop of horses’ hooves, the crack of skull bone beneath truncheon, shadows that suddenly seemed darker and stretched farther than before, the back and forth of men’s raised voices as they try to reason with men who are not there to be reasoned with, and then finally, and most chillingly, the small patch of quiet that developed around the body of a young man, still and bleeding from the head in a way that never ends well, whilst everything else around the small patch continued in its chaotic fashion; a small patch of quiet that only remained quiet until his mother arrived and let out the cry that every mother (and father for that matter) cries upon the realisation that their child, no matter the child’s age, is dead.

Thatcher’s a bitch, says Mr. Brigshaw. Bitch sent the police, says Mr. Brigshaw. Some were police, and they’re bad enough at the best of times, pig b***ards, says Mr. Brigshaw. Some of them weren’t pigs, says Mr. Brigshaw. Some of them were army, Special Forces at that, says Mr. Brigshaw. Not in front of our Karen, says Mrs. Brigshaw. I hate them f***ing pigs, says Karen. Get to bed, says Mrs. Brigshaw.

Lone Star State (Expansion Pack Lite)

The Makings of Mia Pleasure, nee Mia Brigshaw, nee (nee?) Karen Brigshaw…

The following occurred during Mia’s ‘formative years,’ and concerns the girl formerly known as Karen Brigshaw:

At a certain age, hard to be specific, Karen suffered a harsh life-lesson. She’d have been the sort of age where she’d started growing away from her parents, emotionally, but still at an age where seeing one’s parent/s (either one or the other, or both) suffer an act that left said parent/s feeling humiliated and broken was enough to shake the very ground beneath her feet. Karen had been sitting at the dining table, doing her homework, whilst listening to the radio, as her mum pottered around the kitchen making tea (dinner) for her dad, when the familiar scrape of the front door key in the latch sounded her dad’s arrival home from work.


Not that this was anything for Karen to feel either excited, or worried about, because Mr. Brigshaw was neither a talkative man, nor was he an emotional man. Most entrances followed the same pattern. Mr. Brigshaw kicks off his boots in the porch, where they’ll stay until the following morning, before popping his head round the door to call a quick ‘hello’ to ‘the Mrs.’ If Karen’s at the table, or on the couch, he’ll give her a quick nod of the head as acknowledgment of her presence, if not, he’ll knock on her bedroom door and shout ‘hello,’ before taking his customary shower. Mr. Brigshaw does not enter Karen’s room – ever.

On this particular day, however, something else transpired. The clunk of Mr. Brigshaw’s boots on the terracotta-tiled-surface of the porch was not followed by his head popping round the door. Karen, slightly confused by this as two full minutes had passed and Mr. Brigshaw had still not popped his head round the door, called through to her mum who was still in the kitchen, and who was singing along to a song that made Mrs. Brigshaw feel like a teenager again, informing her of Mr. Brigshaw’s arrival home. The family routine was such that any deviation caused alarm and anxiety.

Mrs. Brigshaw came through from the kitchen, running her hand across Karen’s shoulders as she passed, and walked towards the living room door. She hesitated for a moment before glancing a smile at Karen, an unconvincing smile, and pulling the handle to reveal a front door that had not been closed properly, and a pair of feet that lay motionless, preventing Mrs. Brigshaw from closing said door. Karen heard the low, whispered boom of her dad’s voice, indicating he was conscious and that he hadn’t collapsed or anything (probably just sitting on the stairs), and the falsely cheery pitch of her mother’s bird-like response.

Some while later, Mrs. Brigshaw had managed to encourage Mr. Brigshaw into the living room and into ‘his’ seat, something he’d never normally do until he’d been for his customary post-work shower. Lots of ‘cock’ and ‘love’ ensued – what is meant by this is that Karen’s mum, Mrs. Brigshaw, used lots of soothing reassurances that are specific to the geographical location: “yull-bi-orreet, cock”; “irrell-bi-orreet, love”; “see-iffit-waynt, cock”; “tha-nays-tha-will, love” (stuff like that, always followed by an obligatory ‘cock’ or ‘love’).

Karen sat at the table during all of this, not wishing to move, be seen, nor heard. She made as if she was still concentrating on her homework, but she wasn’t. She listened but felt awkward as if she was prying on business that she had no right prying on. She heard the telephone go, its shrill bell intensifying the feeling that something was not quite right in the room – the telephone was never left unanswered. Mrs. Brigshaw, sensing that she had to take charge of the situation, heightened the falsely cheery pitch to an almost fevered level of pseudo-normality, and persuaded Mr. Brigshaw to go on about his showering ritual and to come back down the stairs afterwards, all washed and shaved and feeling right as rain: “goo-on, gerronup, thall fill reet when thas bin-an-bin-furra-wosh”.

Mrs. Brigshaw watched Mr. Brigshaw head out of the living room, and then she spun on the delicate heel of her mule slipper and sped back towards the kitchen to finish making tea (dinner). As she passed Karen, stroking her hand across Karen’s shoulder in the opposite direction this time, she whispered three words (possibly four depending on how one views contraction via apostrophe use):

“Thirron-straakk” (“They’re on strike”)

Lone Star State (Expansion Pack v.2.0.4)

The Thoughts, nay, Feelings of Chip Brewsky Following his Unwitting Exposure to Lysergic Acid Diethylamide

So, here’s a dream from Chip’s distant past, again one that he’d date at as happening for the first time at around the age of 11 or 12 years old, and one that he had classes as a series dream because of the fact that it occurred on more than two occasions, he’d have it down as five or six times but I suppose these things are difficult to pinpoint with nay any real accuracy, and given that the but anyway, on with the dream, which is more than a touchy subject for Chip, oddly, due in no small part to the subject matter involved in the dream, as it were, really a kind of strange dream for a kid to be having at nay any age, let alone a kid not even in his teenage years and way too young, one would imagine, to even be thinking of such things, but obviously, that’s not the case or we wouldn’t even be here right now almost, in fact, discussing said dream.


So, the dream, the weird touchy one: Chip is air borne, floating ‘kite-like,’ is how he’d describe it, a kind of rhythmic dance, at very slow speed, looking down on the happenings below; and the happenings below are the events of ‘grown-up’ Chip’s funeral, Chip at whatever age he’d hae have to be to have a grown woman, dressed in black, with a veil over her face, he can still in fact picture that woman today in extraordinarily fine detail, and children grieving by the side of the woman, Chip’s children of course, and around them are a number of family mebers members, none of whom are/were actually representative of Chip’s actual family, and other people walk towards the grave until the whole scene hole within which Chip’s coffin has been lowered, is surrounded on all sides, and there’s a stillness to the scene, there’s grief, obviously, but it’s not mawkish grief (recently, this has become Chip’s fasvourite favourite word: mawkish), and the light is an odd colour of daylight, it’s light but also dim somehow, not quite dusk-ish in tone but certainly not ordinary run-of-the-mill daylight, and Chip, while all this is going on, is not even the least bit sad, or anything you’d expect to feel whilst viewing your own funeral taking place, there’s even an odd feeling of being content, yes, content, that about sums up the feeling Chip remembers from all those years ago, and Chip, having never married met anyone he’d like to spend the rest of his life with, apart from Dale of course, but that’s a real friendship with no other feelings other than pure love, often wonders whether he’ll ever meet the woman he remembers so clearly.

So Chip’s concern with this dream, post LSD-25 and all, is whether the dream can be said to have any premonition qualities about it (is she the woman of his dreams – the woman he will eventually meet and be with), or is the dream an echo, ripple, thing from another lived experience (multiverse stuff again), or is it just what brains do when people are asleep; but that being said, why would a boy of his age have a dream, on more than a several occasions, about such a subject matter, and before we get into the realm of pop-psychology, no, Chip was never abused, he had what he considers to be a relatively ‘normal,’ mostly uneventful upbringing, with no major trauma, skeletons-in-the-closet or anything, so what’s up with that?

Lone Star State (Expansion Pack v.2.0.3)

The Thoughts, nay, Feelings of Chip Brewsky Following his Unwitting Exposure to Lysergic Acid Diethylamide

So, what if dreams are indeed a portal/wormhole/sciency-abstract-noun-thing, a kind of internal and external experience at the same time, in a paradoxy-way, and not just a random series of a things the brain conjures up during the so-called REM phase, and considering how short the REM cycle is supposed to last, how do dreams manage to pack in so much detail, depth, and profundity into such a small amount of time, and can dreams be thought of in the sam same context as imagination (daydreams), because if they can, which Chip is a notion that with which Chip would concur, then there must be some sort of cross-correlation between the state of ‘consciousness’ and ‘unconsciousness,’ where the two are not so separate and distinct after all, which is kind of a nice thought because it gives a person a little more agency whrn when considering those moments of ‘unconsciousness’ – like sleep, comas, and things like that.


So, with that fr firmly positioned, what of the other factor raised in that previous paragraph, like the whole notion/theory of ‘time’ – another one of those things that we all think we know what it is, but that when a person actually stops and thinks about it in some depth there becomes a it opens up the possibility for of some very disturbing possibilities for thought, if that makes any sense whatsoever, which thinking about it it may not, because we’re in a phase where time is supposed to be this linear, relaible reliable constant that has been tamed sufficiently that we can walk around with it (time) on our wrists, or even hang it (time) from our walls, but that if we consider what those creators of crazy-fiction (scientists, mostly of a theoretical leaning) come up with every few years (string theory, big-bang theory, multiverse theory, universe-shaped-like-an-out-of-shape-football-theory (and are they talking American football or the sort of football that everyone else recognises as a football?), and so on…) then how can we possibly ever consider time to be linear, straightforward, and simple, – pretty much, we can’t – and if it’s the case that time has to be problematised in a most serious and fundamental way, then could we consider time as acting/behaving/whatever-it-is-that-time-is-doing in a way that is not so constant, depending on whethetr whether we are in fact in a state of ‘consciousness,’ or ‘unconsciousness?’

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