I haven't done one of these in ages, so, for Sample Sunday, here is a snippet from 3 Heads & a Tail. Cheers, Vickie
Two bicycles sped past, their riders laughing, on this humid summer’s day. The green leaves of the trees sparkled as the sun’s rays caught the last tiny droplets of the morning shower. Luckily, it had stopped drizzling just before the van turned up. Josie liked moving, never staying in one place for longer than a year usually. She loved change; it had freshness to it.
Like a rolling stone that gathers no moss, she liked to keep on moving, even if it meant wading through the odd quagmire at times. Her sense of adventure maintained her momentum. Josie smiled, remembering how her mother used to joke that she should have been born a gypsy and spent her life wandering the world; or at least she could buy a little pony and a wagon, and just keep on rolling those wheels.
Ugh, this box was a bit on the heavy side. If only she could remember what was packed inside. Still, it didn’t say ‘fragile’ so maybe it wouldn’t matter if this one tumbled to the ground. Josie stumbled up the stone steps to the front door. Before she had time to work out how to press the doorbell, the bright green door yawned open. The doorman yawned even wider.
“Hi-ya!” he said, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand.
He looked younger than she had imagined when they spoke on the phone. She guessed he was about her own age. Average looking, slim, dirty blonde hair tied back and brown, enquiring eyes. He wore a crumpled green T-shirt, emblazoned with a faded elephant, dark blue sweatpants and socks; no shoes. He seemed slightly shy by the way he looked over her shoulder, instead of meeting her gaze.
She gave her new housemate a big smile. “Hi, I’m Josie!”
“You’re early,” he replied. “But that’s cool. I’m Ben. Well, I guess you know that from our phone calls!” He held out his hand and then laughed at his silliness. “Of course, you can’t actually shake my hand!”
“I would if I could, but can I put this down first please? It’s so heavy!”
“Oh! Of course!” Ben leapt out of the way. Then he came to his senses. “Let me take it!”
“Thanks,” said Josie, as Ben took the box and nodded shyly, before backing down the hallway. Nice guy, she thought, as she wandered back down to the van.
“Well he looks a bit of alright,” trilled Kay, who was leaning against the side of the vehicle with her arms crossed. “He had that just-got-out-of-bed look!”
“Don’t think you’re going to drag him back there! We’ve got work to do, right here!”
“Okay, slave driver! You can’t blame a girl for looking, especially a single one!”
Josie laughed. “The whole wide world knows you’re single!”
Kay had broken up with her boyfriend of perhaps a decade – well it seemed that long – only a few months ago and she was like a new woman. A whole new woman; one with push-up bras, short skirts that resembled belts, more make-up than Boots and a new-found passion for life. They had been friends a long time. If Josie was ever in trouble, Kay was the one she’d call, without a doubt.
“What box is next?” called Ben, bouncing down the steps. “Glen is in my room where he can’t get in the way!” He had put on some trainers and a pair of glasses, which made him look more serious.
“Who’s Glen?” asked Kay, raising an eyebrow.
“Ha! He’s not your type!” replied Josie. “He’s a bit on the hairy side, dribbles and snores, according to Ben!”
“Oh,” pouted Kay. “Maybe I can persuade him to shave!”
Ben grinned, his eyes squinting slightly in the sun. Josie caught his grin and smiled back, conspiratorially.
“Let’s get you unloaded,” said Ben, sweeping up a box from the back of the van.
“Mmm,” whispered Kay, nudging her friend. “He can unload me any time!”
“Come on!” sighed Josie. “You’re just... anything with testosterone!”
Kay pouted as they carried the boxes up the steps and into the three-storey building. On the ground floor was a small kitchen, painted blue. They peeked inside as they walked past and a rich aroma of freshly made coffee swept past their noses. Next to it was a big lounge and a huge storage cupboard. Up the green-carpeted stairs and past some pictures of leaping dolphins, they arrived on the second floor, where Josie’s and Ben’s rooms were at opposite ends. The bathroom, pink and fresh, sat in the middle.
To the side, the stairs carried on upwards towards an attic room, which was closed with a hatch-like door. That was the room of the third housemate whom Josie hadn’t spoken to. Apparently, whoever it was had gone to the same university as Ben and they had been friends ever since.
“I’m glad to put that down!” gasped Josie, placing the heavy box on the steadily accumulating pyramid in the corner of her new room.
She glanced around at the bare walls, painted a dusky purple, and remembered that Ben had asked what her favourite colour was – purple! Had he painted it? No, it must have already been that way! On the white carpet sat a pine bookcase, a tall wardrobe, a chest of drawers and a double bed. A round, see-through ball perched on the light fitting above her head, but it wasn’t necessary. Bright sunlight cascaded through the window, washing a yellow glaze over everything. She smiled to herself. It was going to be cosy and warm in here.
“Get with it, lazy bones,” said Kay, staggering in behind her with two boxes.
“Okay, strong man!” joked Josie, backing out of the door. “Ooh, check out your big muscles!”
“So you noticed?” asked a voice from above.
“Oh!” Josie jumped and turned round with a gasp.
The hatch above the stairs was open and a face with a rather broad grin stared out. It was also a rather attractive face. The words airbrushed and Photoshopped sprung to mind. He just had to be. No one was that perfect.
“Whoa,” whispered Kay, stepping out of the room. Josie went the colour of beetroot. She could have kicked herself.
“I’m David,” said Mr Model Man, sauntering down the stairs. He flicked the dark hair out of his dark eyes. His blue jeans looked sprayed on, to Kay’s admiration, and the definitive lines of a six-pack rippled beneath the thin material of his T-shirt. Both of the girls stood transfixed. It was like some aftershave advert on TV. A truckload of cheesiness, rubbish music, a glitter ball and smoky lighting was meant to accompany this entrance.
“Nice to meet you, ladies,” he drawled, giving a slow-motion smile that didn’t seem to have an end. He stopped right in front of them, inches from their faces. Kay tried to lift her eyes from his chest, but found they were stuck, rooted to the spot. Josie sighed and concentrated on not going red again. This was going to be her housemate. This was going to be her housemate?!
“I see you’ve met,” said Ben, appearing at the top of the stairs, armed with a couple of huge black sacks.
“I’m Josie – I’m moving in today,” she announced, determined not to meet Ben’s eyes in case her face turned into a tomato again. Kay was grinning inanely, frozen to the spot like a rabbit dazed by headlights.
“How can I help?” asked David, stroking his hair back again and leaning an arm on the wall. Kay’s eyes trailed along his bicep. She shivered in the breeze of testosterone.
“You can start by taking some of the boxes out of the van, you big oaf!” replied Ben, taking the sacks into Josie’s room.
“Ay-ay!” laughed David, pretending to salute him. The girls giggled.
Ben put the sacks down. He could have guessed that his friend would work his usual charismatic magic within seconds, and he had... yet again! Ben sighed to himself, straightened his back and clicked his hands together. This always happened. Girls would suddenly turn to jelly, trip over, go giggly, walk into inanimate objects – and even animate ones – as soon as David made an appearance. Ben used to wonder if David had done some amazing thing in a past life and karma was now rewarding him triple time, or perhaps he had a painting in the attic that was fast becoming ugly.
Ben pushed his glasses back on his nose and walked out of the room. The others had already returned to the van to gather more things. He imagined David posing, flexing his muscles as he lifted boxes. Oh well, that’s life! He hoped Glen wasn’t too bored, sitting in his room on his own. Ben had left the TV on for him.
Half an hour later, they had finished bringing everything in and were standing in the kitchen sipping mugs of steaming coffee. Josie wrapped her hands around her mug and smelt it, drawing in the relaxing aroma.
“Where were you living before?” asked David, flicking his hair.
“With me!” said Kay, before Josie could answer. “I broke up with my boyfriend and she moved in for a while, but then I had to move somewhere smaller when the flat sold, so I’m living on my own now.”
“And you decided to come here,” finished David.
“Yep, that’s about it,” smiled Josie. “We were good flatmates though.”
“Sure were,” said Kay, moving slightly nearer to her prey. “But now I have my own place, all to myself!”
“Is it nearby?” asked Ben, glancing at David, who looked disinterested in Kay’s blatant flirting.
Kay didn’t break her gaze, which was fixed on Mr Model. “It’s not far. Maybe you could pop round for coffee some time and I can return the favour?”
But it was me who made the damn coffee, thought Ben. Jesus.
Josie smiled at Kay’s directness. That was something Josie always had a problem with, getting straight to the point, but then a lot of the time she had no idea what the point was. The real point that is, which seemed to change with the whims and tides of the day. In fact, what was the point of most things?
“You seem deep in thought,” observed Ben.
“I was just thinking,” said Josie, glancing at Kay, who was telling David about the supremely amazing cookies she could make – if he came round for coffee that is. “I was wondering about the real point of most things.”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, you know, sometimes you just do things not thinking about the point, and they’re cool. Other times you think too much about the point of something and you can burn it out by thinking...”
“...that it has a real point?” finished Ben, cupping his coffee.
“Exactly,” smiled Josie. “I think you can overanalyse things. Maybe it’s best not to think of the point, and just jump in and do it, and to hell with the point.”
As she said the words, they both looked at Kay, who seemed to have David almost pinned up against the wall. They were talking very intently, or rather she was talking intently and he was kind of wriggling to escape.
“You see my point?” asked Josie, sighing.
“I do! But I’m not sure he’s seeing it.”
Josie giggled. “And she’s seen it far too often!”
Ben laughed and put his coffee mug down.
“What’s so funny?” asked Kay.
“Nothing,” said Josie, biting her lip.
“Well, do you want to meet Glen, our fourth housemate?” asked Ben, winking at Josie.
“Sure do,” said Kay. “I want to see this big, hairy guy. I bet he doesn’t snore!”
Josie laughed. David looked confused, but managed to flick his hair back neatly anyway. She noticed how the guy didn’t have a single flaw or wrinkle on his face. Maybe he was some kind of beautiful android that had travelled back in time. Some crazy old scientist somewhere was now looking for his long-lost dream project...
“Hey, dreamer!” called David. “Are you coming?”
“Oops, yes,” said Josie. “Daydreaming is my favourite pastime. You’ll get used to it!”
Josie swept out of the room behind David and up the stairs. Ben and Kay were waiting. Kay adjusted her skirt and pouted her lips. Josie smiled. That effort was sure going to be wasted on Glen! Her friend was so man crazy all of a sudden. The brave explorer of Testosterone Mountain – never to be defeated, she would climb every...
“This is Glen!” announced Ben, opening the door to his room. It swung back, revealing two big brown eyes, two soft and erect ears, and a goofy grin. Glen didn’t need to be announced twice. He bounced out of the room and straight into Kay. Up he went on his hind legs and out popped his glistening tongue in a friendly attempt to lick her face.
Josie grinned. “Hope you put your best lippy on!”
“Ooh, you trickster!” sighed Kay.
David emitted a deep-throated, sexy laugh. Josie tried to ignore it and focused on stroking the animal – that animal! Stroke it, she told herself, and don’t even think about the sexiness of his laugh. She didn’t dare look at Kay because she knew her friend was thinking the exact same thing and she would go as red as a beetroot.
“I think he really likes you too!” said Ben, unaware of the sparks of sexual electricity pinging round the room. “Sometimes Glen’s a bit too friendly and he can be a bit much for some people. He’s just enthusiastic.”
“He’s lovely!” said Josie, and this time she really was focusing on Glen.
“Right,” said David. “It was nice to meet you two. I’m off to make some music, so I’ll catch you later.”
If only he was making music with me, thought Kay, watching the departure of David’s perfect bum in his perfect jeans. She had goose bumps.
“Bye,” said Josie, not looking up from the dog. He was so soft. His big eyes were really brown and dreamy.
“Think you’ve found a new friend,” said Ben.
Josie was pretty sure she had found two new ones. She had a feeling that she was going to be really good mates with Ben. He seemed really easy to talk to.
Humpf! I thought he was never going to open that door! I thought I was going to be locked in there all night, running around and chasing my tail. That gets boring after ten minutes. If only he’d left a stick and his room was the size of a football ground – now that would have been a fun-packed afternoon.
Josie seems nice. She was stroking me for a long time. Though I thought my eyes were going to pop out when Kay kept patting my head over and over again. Something tells me she was not expecting a four-legged fellow. But it was voofing funny seeing the look on her face when I tried to lick it!
I bet Ben likes Josie. He always likes the sweet, pretty girls. But why has she got red hair? It doesn’t look real. I like her big green eyes. She looks like a dreamer and Ben is definitely one of those. He dreams too much for his own good, but he’s a good soul. Ah, I could see that Josie didn’t want to turn round when David said goodbye. Maybe that’s not so good. Voofing not good. If she likes him, that’s not good at all. Anyone but him! “Voof!”
Right, that’s my dinner finished. I always have my big thoughts when I’m eating. Ben says he thinks in the shower – I wonder what that’s like. A big doggy bath, maybe? Water from the sky! Think I’d prefer the river. It smells better. And you get to shake it, really shake it – shake that water off, baby. “Voof, voof.”
“Are you still hungry, Glen?”
Ben’s staring at me. He’s always worrying if I’m eating enough. “Voof”, I say. I try to smile, but it probably doesn’t look like one. Probably makes me look a bit goofy and weird. “Voof,” yep, I’m okay. I’m doggy okay. I wag my tail. Ben likes that. Now he’s smiling. I’ll just wag it again. Whoa, I like it too. Waggy, waggy, waggy. Look at my bum go!
“Ready for walkies?” he asks.
Ah, the magic word! Now I’ve got to muster up as much enthusiasm as possible for this so he doesn’t change his mind. “Voof voof voof!” Now for a quick chase around of my tail and that should do it. Wooosh. Wooosh. “Voof voof.” Oops, now I feel a bit dizzy. Dizzy doggy. “Voof.”
“Come on, you old thing,” he says, bending down so his face is right in front of mine. I don’t mind. Ben is great and I seem to make him really happy by doing the smallest things. “Voof.” He grins. See what I mean? But, less of the old, I’m not old. I’m six. That’s okay for a doggy. I’m still fit. I think. I hope.
“Come on, let’s go to the park,” says Ben, opening the front door.
Ah, the magic words! I speed down the steps, my ears flapping in the breeze, all of the lady doggies looking my way – in my head. In reality, I walk slowly down the steps, side by side with Ben, who is gripping on to the lead like I’m going to rush off and send us flying into a tree like I’m riding some magical skateboard. There was one in that film, Back to the Future. Now I know I’m just a dog, but I really fancy myself riding one of those – whoosh I’d go, and I definitely wouldn’t hit that tree.
Pad, pad, pad down the street, avoiding the small piles of other doggy doo doo. Yikes. “Voof.” Some dogs like the smell of it, but not me. Does that make me a strange doggy? Am I weird? Ben, I really don’t wanna sniff it! Too close, too close, toooo close! Ah, a near miss! I just avoided that one. But the smell, yikes! Doggie, what are you eating to do doo doo like you do?
“Come on boy, what a lovely day,” says Ben, looking down at me.
“Voof.” I look up and smile. Well, you know the score by now, I do a goofy kind of smile. Don’t know what I look like when I’m doing this because I’ve never seen myself doing it in one of those mirrors... they really scare me, mirrors. Like, is that really me? I know it’s meant to be me, but are you sure it’s not just another dog? A big dog – one with some crazy, problematic grinning action going on! It beats me. Who invented mirrors anyway? They’re just confusing.
Now we’re heading into the park. Heading, heading... Yep, we’re in the park. I love the smell of those flowers and the trees. Ah, I could stay here all day, but I count my pleasures here by the hour. It’s the best part of my day – my walkies with Ben.
“Voof.” See, he’s smiling again because he knows I love it here. I hope he brought the Frisbee. Oh, no, he didn’t bring it! “Grrrr.” Sorry Ben, I’m not angry, really. Don’t look at me sadly. “Voof Voof,” wag, wag. Now I’m totally overdoing my enthusiasm. I hear bees. Buzz buzz. Ah, not so close. Get away! Good bees. Yikes! “Voof.”
Ah, now we’re talking. Looky, lady doggy, look at her! She’s here every time I come here. She’s a golden Labrador, just like me, but I think she’s a bit younger, maybe four, and so much better looking! So much! Ah, off she goes – every time, every single time, she just walks on by, never noticing. Her owner looks a bit of a hippy girl. Wonder what Ben thinks. Ah, he’s staring. He must like the hippy girl. Wonder why she never notices me? We’re both golden labs. We’re the best dogs around. “Voof!” Nope. She didn’t even blink. I’ll try a bit louder – “Voof!” Not even one ear perked. Off she goes. Guess I’ll have to live with that beautiful memory until tomorrow.
“You okay, boy?” Ben asks, bending down again. He gives me a tickle under the chin. I love those tickles! As long as she didn’t see! Not too doggy manly!
“Do you want to go home, Glen?”
No, no, nooo! “Voof, voof, voof!” I start chasing my tail again in some crazy circle, which makes me feel slightly woozy, but it works because he’s smiling again and letting me off the lead for a run. Cool!
Whoosh! I’m off, hurtling across the grass as fast as my paws can carry me, but not in her direction. No way. That would make me a doggy stalker and I’m not one of those. I’m not desperate and I’m running. Freedom! I’m running with the breeze lifting my ears, my tongue hanging stupidly out of my mouth and my tail whirling in funny circles behind me. Doggy cool!
Copyright Vickie Johnstone. Published on Amazon, Smashwords and all of the usual places.