The Price of a Passport

annie-spratt-466676-2Duncan was a happy IT programmer, and since he married Tatiana his lifetime vocation to become a Nurse had been half fulfilled.

They had met in Cyprus at a late night Hotel Can Can show and tied the knot three months later.  Duncan’s fetish for sexy hands drove him to take Tatiana to the most exclusive Gel Nails salon in Chelsea… after the “bobo” days.

“Bobo days” were what the couple called her period days when Tatiana would be ill, tortured but looked after by her husband like a toddler. This man was a gem.

Nursing Tatiana and checking her vitals every three hours- even at night- was an experience that went beyond love, sex and drug hyper that alllowed them both to start the complicated relashionship again from scratch.  Just like a spiritual self-punishing ritual.

Little did Duncan know that these aches and pains would dissapear with his cosy settled life.

A friend of Tatiana’s from the Russian Embassy had insisted and organised treatment for her condition. An oblivious Duncan paid the ridiculous Physician’s bill thinking he was redeeming her Sins.

So no more “Bobos”. Tatiana launched an online mother’s gifts business from home and her husband started to secretly miss his nursing role.  So the relationship started to go down the pit.

One day before he was about to leave work for the weekend and as he checked his email inbox for the last time, the foundations of his lovely life crumbled down. Tatiana had mistakenly sent a sexy message to him instead of to her lover, Boris, and as Duncan auto-translated the content he stood there frozen and half dead, rereading the translation from Russian in disbelief.

The whole marriage contract was intended to get Tatiana and Boris a British Passport. Nothing else. Duncan had not been making live to this woman, but wotis’ dream working on Boris’ dream of escaping Russian justice with Tatiana.

The betrayed man’s eyes started to water after staring at the screen without blinking.

-“You ok Duncan?” Said the receptionist who was about to leave.

-“No. It is all a lie. A lie. A Lie! Tell the boss I am sacking myself,  can’t stand this!”

*     *     *

Four months had passed. Duncan was homeless, heart-frozen and he had also made himself amnesic with a little help from alcohol. But he hadn’t forgotten his mum’s landline number, which he dialled everyday from the last phonebox that worked in Lambeth.

He didn’t want to do as she said and come back home and get his life babysitted by her and social services. Just hearing her voice,  and also herself forcing laughter to keep him going was worth the eighty pence call.

After another row with his mum about her never allowing him to study Nursing as he wanted since age ten, he put the phone down on her and went to sit at the Cemetery, on a grave- his favourite spot that resonated with his spirits.

The whiskey was almost finished and the keeper was not there to tell him to bugger off again. He heard a very weird sound. Digging? No. Not digging. Not music.

It was a Drone. A Very funny silver drone which appeared to look like some sort of futuristic fantasy creature.

The drone hovered around him, then landed on the grass. He heard his own voice saying “cheer up Duncan! The bobo will take revenge and come back three times stronger – that doctor was only a Vet! Now take these keys to your country house and sign up for the Adult Nursing Qualification starting in two weeks!”

Had he lost it? His alter-ego talking to him through a Drone?

He got up to take a closer look but the Drone danced its way off.  It had delivered the keys to his Bath second property which Tatiana always viciously insisted on keeping, and a receipt for 5,900 pounds for the local nursing academy. Underneath this was a paper in Russian which he understood was a criminal conviction paper for Boris – and he was going to post it straight to the Home Office.


*     *     *

The nursing course was so cool he was wishing it would never end. Having come to terms with betrayal and even joking about it, he couldn’t make up his mind about which student to take on a date.

He finally chose Nora, a girl who bit her nails and was studying to be an expert in Terminaly Ill patients- and who loved Cemeteries like he did.

The Day he took her to the same spot where the Drone Duncan had sent himself back from the Future, he told her his story. As she started to giggle hearing that “nonsense”, another Drone came down from the clouds. This time it was metallic red.

On a screen three kids were taking to her. “Hello mummy! Bring us some Rubick’s Cubes from the past!  We’re waiting for them- you can only get them from antiques auctions in 2026! We love you!”

As a tear dropped from her cheek, Duncan removed Nora ‘s fingers from her mouth and she hugged him so strong, he thought he didn’t want to be anywhere else in time nor space.

“Lets go Nora, I’ve booked you a surprise session at the Nails Salon.”

-“Oh, no, please not today! I ve got terrible period cramps….”


The End

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Following A Trace of Blood

gary-bendig-169036His flight to Tokyo had been cancelled until further notice. Not a fan of waiting at the Airport bees nest, Antoine had left his luggage at Heathrow, and then felt free and weightless exploring the darker side of London: Soho.

Not used to the rude crowds and always getting in the way of busy smugglers- “je m’excuse, je m’excuse“, his smartphone was ringing inside his pocket, but he was too absorbed as an outsider to hear it or feel it vibrate. The co-founder of his Fur Fashion company needed his e-signature desperately that morning.

Comics shops, sex shops and betting shops seemed to wink at his presence.

Until he spotted a trace of blood on a short-cut alleyway. A rush of excitement got his heart pumping and taste buds alive and greedy.

Wasn’t he the enfant exemplaire, the perfect husband, father, citizen, cart racer? Not today.

He looked around him, and looked down to the relish stain again. He hadn’t seen any cops patrolling. The stain drew a line, jotted with little burgundy spots like French wine, and he just followed it.


Through a window above, the four Romanians quickly took their leather jackets off.

A door. A broken door.

-“Hi! I know you from somewhere. You want girls?”, asked a strong bold man with golden chains, smiling as he knew all Antoine’s sorrows, longing and achievements to the gut.

-“Ah, me, no, I’m just a businessman from Toulouse”.

-“Come have a Whiskey then!”

Antoine saw that the trace of blood disappeared at the door step, and not knowing why, what or when, he followed the bold bouncer up the narrow stairs. He would never have done this on a normal day, but the Bouncer had caught him off guard.

-“This is Alex, Dumitru, Constantin and I’m Victor. You?”

-“Err.. Antoine Salesse.”

-“Noroc!” All four cheered, almost forcing him to sit down and giving him a drink.

-“The cat is Maya, but be careful- she’s dangerous! Ha, Ha, Ha!”

On the walls there were pictures of the Beatles on Tour which made him feel safer. The coffee table was unusually low, but the sofas squeezed his behind oh so comfily. He had been walking alone for two hours already and so he appreciated the company.

Maya the cat sat on Antoine’s lap as the men were conspiring with looks and secret signs.

-“You been to London Dungeon?” said  Dumitru. “Makes the kids strong for this bad life!”

-“A long time ago. Does it still exist?” And they all laughed. Alex played “Help” by The Beatles on a very old cassette player.

-“We best customers of London Dungeon. Do you have enemies?”

-” Enemies? Why do you ask this? Every successful man has enemies. It’s Life’s Law.” Antoine helped himself to another drink, reminded of the thought of Animal Campaigners who had made him relocate his business elsewhere, almost making him bankrupt and mad.

-“You wearing fox scarf? Nice one!” Victor touched his glasses which meant the other three could proceed to opening business.

-“You want to buy some? We produce three thousand a year!” Antoine suddenly felt very proud, goal driven and very at home in this little derelict flat. The cat was staring as he stroked her.

Dumitru got to the point.

-“We are your friends, Antoine! You tell us what’s the problem, we make one call, fix stinky problem- and then you go party with very young girls! We have our own little private London Dungeon here.” They all looked very serious. “Nobody takes the piss from us. It’s Life’s Law“.

If Antoine would have followed a different path in life, he wouldn’t be mesmerised by their offer. He could only think of Belinda Millson, the top Animal Rights Campaigner from Amsterdam who shamed him on Social Media, took him to Court and almost ruined his health.

Were all those useless foxes really worth the hassle of stressing Antoine Salesse, the French Aristocrate who had won the Paris Cart competition at age ten only, And paid his mother’s Bingo debts to save the family House with the prize?

“Help” by The Beatles played once again.

-“One more whiskey please my friends.”

Victor poured more whiskey into his glass, and then brought a yellow piece of paper.

-“I have only one bitch enemy”. Antoine bit his lips.

-“The good news is if she’s on Facebook, then we take her to London Dungeon. Ha, Ha, Ha!” All four strangers laughed.

Antoine’s mouth watered, but something at the back of his mind was taking him sixteen years back in time -and telling him off badly. Those poor animals. But the whiskey was getting into his system quickly, and Temptation of Revenge was growing as strong as an airplane taking off.

-“Belinda Millson”.

-“Sign here, give us a check and go.” Alex was fatherly.

Antoine signed thinking today was one of those once-in-a-life awesome days people talk about on their deathbeds.

As he pulled his check book out, there was a misunderstanding over the currency. Now these men turned into Foxes. The Foxes his firm had been slaughtering for almost two decades.

But Antoine was now bonded. The paper had disappeared into Constantin’s jacket who had quickly left the flat.

After a struggle, and showing a prowess of matter-of-life-or-death strength he never knew he had, Antoine was running the streets of Soho, pushing passers aside and making cars pull the breaks very loudly. He sheltered himself at a Museum and camouflaged into the queue. What a fool, they hadn’t even been chasing him.

What a fool. What a fool.

-“It’s eleven pounds fifty pence for a single adult” said the blonde, baby-faced cashier.

As Antoine reached his pocket, the National Gallery metamorphosed into the London Dungeon. Because he had left his Wallet, Cheque Book and Boarding Pass at the flat.

-“Are you injured, Sir?” asked the Museum’s Security Guy. “You are leaving blood footprints all over the floor!”

The End.

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My Mum The AI

IMG_2047Danny T’s computer beeped. Mum was doing her nails in the kitchen and jumped from the stool.

-Mum! I’m in! I’m going to Oxford Uni! The email just came in! I’m going to take my bike and tell the folks!

He grabbed Mum by the waist and lifted her up to the moon and stars- realising at this very minute it was more her achievement than his. She had stood by his side and monitored his academic activities from over his shoulder, never giving up. Always saying “There’s a Lamborghini at the end of the tunnel- keep working!”.

As he squeezed her neck unintentionally and for the first time, her eyes went neon blue.


To Danny’s horror, this voice came from Mum’s tummy. What on Earth was going on?

-MUM? Are you Okay? But Mum was stiff, and digital noises were coming out from her ears and tummy. He laid her head on the dog’s pillow.

A laser came out of her forehead lighting up a screen on the kitchen wall. At this stage Danny T thought it was all a freaky nightmare.

“Hello, Danny. It’s your Mum here. Your late Mum. It’s  May 2005 and I want to tell you how much I love you and I also need to ask you to forgive me for this. By the time you watch this Video Message I will be in Heaven with Grandma and Grandpa and the Saints and Angels. You are a man now!

“I have now a Brain Tumor and will not live long. A couple of weeks if I don’t survive the operation. I have programmed an AI to look after you in the very same manner I would do, as I don’t want you to be taken into care. This AI has cost me all my life savings- and as a single mother I am confident it will all turn out well.

“Please don’t take it out on her- her name is Nisha G- she has feelings very similar to ours. She is devoted to you. Nisha G is a prototype of Dreman’s Co and has not been recording you nor will compromise any personal information about you. She just loves you the same way I did. It has taken me five months to programme, and she will allow me to pass away in Peace.

“I know it will take you a couple of days to come to terms with this, but it is the best I can do to my knowledge and Love. You will shortly receive a visit from the Dreman’s engineers to fix Nisha G. If you decide you do not want her anymore, please return her and allow her to have kids in her life. She is a naturally programmed mother.


Danny T’s heart was racing and his T-Shirt was soaked in sweat. He shook Nisha G who mumbled

“I’m so sorry Danny. Please call the engineer, I’m in pain”

After a good regressive Tantrum which lasted five minutes and cost the house’s equipment and windows, Danny did not know whether to call an Engineer or take his Bike and ride as far as he could, away from his life, away from his “Mum”, away from himself.


The doorbell rung.

-“Danny Tinold? Hi, I’ve come to fix the AI. Just got an “Assault” alarm. Everything OK? Gees your eyes are red. Ha, Ha, Ha! Why is there always some Drama going on when the AIs break down? I’ll have to do it in private so you don’t watch the “Surgery” live. It can be traumatising to watch your girlfriend being slit open.

-“She’s not my Girlfriend, you moron! She’s my Mother!”


The End.


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My Tattoo Book

votenow-2-transMadhura had been walking for twenty minutes under the rain through the streets of Uxbridge. It was half six AM and the whole world had embraced her new freedom -which could be described as her favourite belongings in a small suitcase, purse and smartphone… and her fully loaded travel card.

No. She was not going to be forced into marriage with Fadil, her father’s favourite driver from the family’s mini-cab business. A decent member of the community.


She had spoken to Betty about her plans to leave the house. “You’ll get in trouble, you’ll end up murdered, you’ll be begging to be let back in and then they’ll treat you like crap” Betty kept warning. But Madhura wasn’t going to take any advice from a spoilt, white girl.

The  first thing she had to get rid of now was the scar on her hand from when she refused to come down to the living room to meet stinky Fadil, getting marked by the struggle with her father.

She had a little Tattoo book that she had started a year ago and managed to keep hidden inside the mattress. That scar had to be covered- she didn’t want to remember that year. She didn’t want to remember the terror of being “handed” to Fadil.


Now she started to laugh under the rain, even though she was getting soaked- Fadil, my husband? Ha, Ha, Ha! And I was going to get free taxi rides to the Market everyday!


She started to notice people passing by, and for the first time she  realised that pedestrians actually have stories inside, stories of captivity and regained freedom- she just wanted to hear each and every one of these!


Madhura didn’t quite know where she was going, maybe to a Restaurant where she could use her cooking skills to start an adult life. She was going to contact Sheila and  Betty in a couple of days, once she found a place where to stay.

After getting off a bus ride and wondering through Finchley street, and having been scorned by about four restaurant staff as she asked for a ” cook position”, she noticed a Tattoo and Piercing studio. There were Tattoo designs on the window in every colour possible, skulls, angels and elves. But she had her own Tattoo in mind and on paper.


“Aren’t you popping in young lady? It’s not raining inside!” The Tattooist was ever so cheerful she felt she wanted to let go and let him take charge.


“Sure” she said, shyly.

“Another teenage self harmer! I can fix that!”

“I’m not a self-harmer. And I have my own design to choose from. I want Cobalt Blue”

As she pulled out her precious  Tattoo Book, and fearing he might stain it with inky hands, Brad’s eyes became very serious. He went slowly through every design without mumbling a word, until the last page, then he went through it all again.


“What’s your name?”

“My name’s Madhura. I’m looking for a job as a cook.”

“Did you do all these?”


“Well, Madhura, you ain’t gonna chop one more carrot in your whole little life again! This kind of designs are exactly what I have been looking for for the last two years. I’ll pay you three pounds per design and the Copyright is mine. I will teach you the craft. Soon you’ll be tagging punks from all over the world. As for the scar on your hand, darling you’ll make enough money here to get it sorted with surgery. Go leave your bag upstairs, I’ve got a customer coming in at seven. And put some lipstick on please!”


The End.


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The Earmuffs

IMG_1991Danny “the promising kid” was never to forget that day at the bicycle sheds.

It was snowing and his mother appeared out of nowhere, holding a pair of earmuffs.

“Danny! What do you think you’re doing out here in this kind of weather with no earmuffs? I told you to take them with you this morning! You are not a Russian Soldier so don’t you play the brave boy!”

Giving in as he put those wolly earmuffs on, he never imagined what consequences not standing up to mothering would bring immediately.

As the woman left in a hurry and nodding, his friends carried on smoking

“You need earmuffs kid or your mummy won’t breastfeed you tonight!”

Like flying gossip, the scene would be heard of even among the younger classes. End of “promising Danny”. No friends left, bullying on Facebook and catching bad habits at home, where he hid like a headgehog.

The school’s drug dealer pretended to be his only friend and got him into weed.

His mother was too busy with work and Charity work, devoted to saving the world but having ” aborted” her 15 year-old.

Danny eventually fled the nest to find himself homeless in London.

Homeless, but Popular. His family had been told not to launch a missing persons campaign because in this case it could make Danny more vulnerable.

For three years he had established  his ” begging spot” near Victoria station and lived by the day. He had even gained himself a name among the Eastern European mafias who charged for protection in the area.

But one day  while he was eighteen and didn’t even know his own age, a lady with a familiar voice slammed a coffee.

“Here’s a coffee drink for Christmas. Your ears look frozen. ”

A burning cup of coffee and a hand spitting diamonds.

As their eyes met, the charity freak recognised her own son, a man now, with wise and reproachful eyes. She felt vertigo in his gaze.

” Maybe I need a pair of earmuffs ” he said in a gentle, controlled voice.

She knelt down not to faint, took as much strength from her motherhood as she could and cried

“Danny, I’m so happy I found you. I will never have enough words to express how sorry I am, because you left your Facebook account open and I found out about the bullying…. please take my hand. Please. Good. Your ears are frozen. Your room is waiting for you and dad needs help with the business. It’s your nineteenth birthday on Sunday. Dad will sort out some help with the weed thing only if you want to. And all your schoolfriends have a group called “Find Danny M” which I follow.”

As passers by were leaving the last coins Danny would be to gather, he picked up his rucksack, not wanting in any way to lose his very precious sleeping bag, and followed his mum to the car.

It smelt the same. An Eastern mafia boss took note of the unusual scene as he got arrested again two minutes later.

“Mum. It’s so lovely and warm in here. Can I smoke some weed?”

“You can, son, but only if it’s for medical purposes.”

“I won’t then.”

And he threw his little bag out of the window to a fellow homeless  friend who was waving goodbye at him.

The End.

The Children’s Hospital

IMG_1951votenow-2-transIMG_1951Despite the pain and drain that come from working at the Children’s Unit of St Patrick’s Hospital, Tricia loved every minute of her job. She called the children “my kids”. Her life and soul.

Bringing joy and confort to ill kids was like a job she was given by a star constellation since birth.

Since Dr Bailey joined the Unit she found that fighting for the well being of her kids despite the budget cuts was easier- and also he had once recommended her to take two more hours sleep if she wanted to look after the patients in the best way.

Tricia was the star nurse, also envied by her colleagues for her imagination and gift to tune into kids’ waves: when they felt pain, she would ask “what’s the name of this new pain?” and create a character for it.

Whether in the tummy, head or leg, she had elaborated a way to hypnotise the pain dead. “OK. The pain is called Dragon. Lets make him.” After stuffing a blue rubber glove and painting a face and name on it, she would smile and say “tell the Dragon to stop annoying you, or else we’ll punish it into the tissue box “.

“Stop annoying me, Dragon! Or I’ll snatch your ears off!”

“Watch out, he might spit fire from his mouth. Lets muzzle him.”

The fascination of the children pulled them out of their pain, as Tricia put a plaster onto the Dragon ‘s mouth.

“Do you want to sing a lullaby to the Dragon?”

“Maybe next time! The pain is gone and I wanna sleep!”

Eight year old Nathan was admitted and Dr Bailey stole Tricia for a minute “we’ll do our best to save him”.

Nathan’s mother couldn’t help giving Tricia nasty looks but Tricia had gone through situations like that before. Nathan developed the habit of telling the ” pain glovies” that ” you are not coming to the wedding.”

“what wedding is this?” Tricia would ask.

“wait and see.”

But one day on an early shift at five AM, Nathan starting crying very loud. Tricia and Dr Bailey happened to be on shift.

” The tube hurts, said Nathan, lets kill it or it will not come to the wedding!”

” What wedding are you always talking about? asked an exhausted Dr Bailey.

” Yours and Tricia’s Wedding!”

The two health professionals looked into each others eyes during a very awkward second.

” OK, said the Doctor, ask the Gremlin to make me an engagement ring or we shall soak it under the sink!” So Nathan opened a plaster and Dr Bailey proposed. Despite the surrealism of the scene Tricia saw a sparkle in Dr Bailey’s eyes that she had never seen before- he was actually proposing to her, right there, in front of Nathan and the Gremlin.

After a tearful Yes, Nathan clapped with excitement, just as a healthy eight year old would, and continued

“The pain is gone! I can sleep forever now!”

” None of that” said Tricia

” I was only joking. Now lets make the Gremlin a girlfriend in case he comes back”.

Nathan was luckily discharged three days later, but strict Hospital rules determined there could be no contact with children after Hospital episodes- so he missed the wedding.

Shortly after, the Baileys received a Thank You card from Nathan’s mum and a picture showing him plummer, in his  bedroom with a dozen of stuffed gloves.

Tricia soon started training nurses in Hospital Play and their first born was named Nathaniel- after Nathan.

It is sad to think that not all Hospitalised children have Nathan’s luck, but there are amazing professionals and volunteers in these Units as children deserve to feel a sense of wonder, even if they will not survive.

The End

This story is based on true characters.



Out Of Order

votenow-2-transIMG_1924Just when routine had become emotionally unsustainable, and Jeff’s PR Executive job made him envy all kinds of deviants, surfers and soldiers, a storm broke out on a Monday morning.

He was on his break at the local coffee shop, amused by a foreign woman who was complaining to the waiter about not being served Blueberry Syrup in her Lattee. Oh what an accent.

Before heading back to work he checked the rain through the massive window and went to the Toilet. A new Gender Neutral toilet they had built just to make him feel naughty.

As he was waiting she walked in and ignored his smile. A smile that had got him quickly up the social ladder and was even better than any techie gadget that was yet to be invented. Was he losing his appeal?

She stood in silence like a bronze renaissance statue making him feel more and more self conscious.

“After you!” Jeff cried.

She looked surprised.

” Are you a time traveler? Because real gentlemen only exist in the olden days.”

“I am indeed a time traveler, but where I come from I struggle with undoing tight women’s corsets.” He said, surprising himself.

“Watch this” she snapped and smiled. Pulling a lipstick bar out of nowhere she wrote


on the door, grabbed him by the collar and pulled him inside, just as very bad thunder stroke.

A Kiss. Another Kiss.

“Give me your phone” and she switched it off.

” Your watch” and she flushed down rhe loo his 4K collector’s item.

The cabinet was the right size to satisfy both of their repressed instincts, with UV lights taking them to forbidden land on the Baby Changing Table.

“I don’t have…” he hesitated

” Shut up! This bitch is doctored” and pointed at a scar on her belly- button.

She snatched his wedding ring and swallowed it.

He felt taken away by a vicious flood, helpless and grateful and merging into civilisation like he had never known it before.

The Blueberry woman had actually just tied her hair into a ponytail, unlike all the women before her who let their hair loose for interaction.

Jeff Adams, the PR Executive at Tengams & Co was reclaiming a missed out teenagehood.

He had no idea how long this lasted, but as he tied his shoelaces she rushed out, grabbing her Blueberry- less lattee and undoing her hair.

After the shaking event Jeff had to make the building receptionist buzz him in because he couldn’t find his Pass.

He didn’t keep this woman in his heart- he  kind of carried her in his pocket everywhere he went, now with eyes wide open to any blowing encouter a sudden weather change  could bring.

As for  the ring, his wife only noticed it was missing after three months – forcing him to lie like a kiddo about it.

But the second best reward he got from this fling was -his very annoying sciatic pain vanished like Black Magic.

About a year later, on a rainy Tuesday morning, he saw an “out of order ” scribble on his office door.

” Great, I get the day off” he thought, but opened the door anyway…. to see…. the Blueberry Latte Woman sitting on his desk with a baby who was playing with his collector’s watch.

Their eyes met like a fox’s looking into wolf’s on a hungry full moon night.

“These belong to you.” She handed his Pass, ring and… watch! and also the heavy baby. She immediately walked out before he could say anything, leaving the buggy behind.

The medical papers of the kid were carefully filed in a bag inside the buggy, and it only took him a DNA test and a cheeky lawyer to claim his father rights.

He couldn’t believe his “perfect” wife understood and welcomed the baby, as they had been trying for one for over eight years.

Since then, he always checks with the local waitress that they have a full stock of Blueberry Syrup…

The End

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