AJ Reid

Notes from the Paradise Peninsula

Month: August 2015

Chinatown Sketch

In tribute to one of my favourite films, I thought I’d sketch a scene to try out my new art stuff.  I haven’t drawn or painted anything since my A-levels and even though this is just a quick scrawl, it feels really good to be doing it again.

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Found some old footage of me sparring in my last boxing club yesterday.  I’m the one in the vest and tracksuit bottoms.

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Smaller Hell Dummy August 16th7

“AJ Reid’s ‘A Smaller Hell’ is a fable of our time.” – ***** KT Acolyte”An electrifying piece of literature.” – ***** Whim”The author takes you on a trip through the underworld and keeps the reader captivated throughout the book and wanting to learn more about the sordid secrets of Ms Doyle.” – ***** Iain Bennett”A highly enjoyable tale with a bit of everything; love, crime, black humour and magic.” – ***** -“A tale of love, hate, fear and deceit that truly captivates your imagination and drags you head first into a world where things are not always as they seem, a plot which has your heart racing as you eagerly turn page after page, unable to put the book down!” – ***** Richard MortimoreDianne Doyle is a forty-something widow who likes to play games. Her fellow pillars of the community would say that she’s just a businesswoman trying to make the best of her inheritance, but those who know her best know that her interest in profit margins ran out a long time ago. Her pampered, flawless appearance belies a dark history of perversion and violence … and the worst is yet to come for Tony Black: Tanner’s Department Store’s newest employee, and Dianne Doyle’s chosen playmate for her most enigmatic and dangerous game yet in this grim, northern dystopia.A Smaller Hell is a darkly-comic tale of collisions between the normal and the perverted; the workaday and the surreal; the logical and the absurd; and of course, good and evil. This neo-noir thriller will keep you guessing as Black negotiates his way through the darkest alleys of this once-splendid shipbuilding town, right up until the shocking climax at the Christmas party.This adventure was inspired by Franz Kafka, three stripes, J.G. Ballard, cheap cider, Dennis Lehane, sovereign rings, Rockports, greasy spoon cafes, street violence, spit and sawdust boxing clubs, working in a fancy department store at Christmas, psychopathy, Irvine Welsh, Iain Banks, true love, nymphomaniacs, consumerism, Martin Amis, Aldous Huxley, corporatocracy, hierarchy, cruelty and the stickiest, smokiest, most dangerous pubs known to mankind.

 

A Smaller Hell is available FREE from August 13th – August 17th 2015 on Amazon.

US Readers: click here

 

UK Readers: click here

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Perseid Promise

Last night, after the captain and crew went to bed, I stuck around on the bow of the Sarinda to catch the Perseid meteor shower.  I wedged my rucksack under my head and kept my eyes fixed on the night sky until bright green lights began streaking across it, leaving vapour trails in their wake.

I didn’t have a wish ready: I had to root around for one, trying to choose something not too selfish and not too far-fetched.  The corner of North Wales looked like it was being attacked from space at one point, making me wonder what would happen if one were to strike the estuary, which is still reported to be full of unexploded bombs from World War Two.

It reminded me of being a child again, when I used to play with my friends down on the shore, discovering and investigating wrecked boats and winding gutters.  We made The Hidey Hole out of a huge concrete pipe that had been discarded in the woods and launched regular water pistol assaults on another gang from there.  There were rope-swings, rope-bridges, fox-holes, tunnels, BMX ramps and a potentially lethal zipline.

Unauthorised use of our facilities was the most common cause for confrontations, which often escalated to the point of parents getting involved, displeased at their beloved little angels coming home covered in mud and soaking wet, having lost the territory battle.  No-one ever got really hurt.  An older brother threw a brick at me once, hitting me in the leg, but it didn’t do much damage.  I just pretended it did, so that his mum would ground him, taking him out of the equation for a week and leaving his brother fair game for another water-bombing.

More often than not, we all ended up playing together and becoming friends after the initial tribal stand-offs, building yet more jumps, slides and ramps, after which we would go to one another’s houses for the ubiquitous dinner of fish fingers, chips and peas.  We would be careful to mind our manners and remove our shoes if it was “that kind of house” for the benefit of our pals more than anything, so that they would be able to continue to come out to play.

Things changed when one of our gang discovered fire.  He proceeded to blow up The Hidey Hole (literally cracked it in two) with a load of deodorant cans, changed up his Super Soaker water pistol for a can of WD40 and a lighter and set fire to another gang’s BMX tyres.  The police got involved when neighbours from half a mile away heard The Hidey Hole go up.  It was with immediate effect that all of us were banned by our parents from playing down on the marsh anymore.  Sometimes, I would ride my bike down there to see if anyone was around, but no-one dared since our mate was being threatened with juvenile detention.  Everyone was asking each other who had grassed when we could get each other on the phone, but no-one knew, or so they claimed.

Lying on the deck of that historic warship and watching the meteor shower, I realised that I’d left a little piece of my heart in The Hidey Hole when it was blown up.  I never really saw those friends again since that was our last year at primary school and I ended up going to a different secondary from them.  I hated my new school and most of the kids therein, it being largely populated by entitled bullies, many (but not all) teachers included.  There were times when I felt so alone and worthless that I would stay awake all night in tears, dreading the next day.  Summer would never be the same again.

As another spectacular Perseid meteor blazed across the sky, I thought about all the close friends who have come and gone from my life.  Nothing lasts forever.  Not even the mighty Sarinda, whose copper nails and fixings will eventually disintegrate.  Not even the captain, who seems invulnerable to the stormy seas of life.  Not even the first mate, whose fixings are only 21 years old.  And definitely not me, whose sails just can’t catch the wind at the moment, it seems.

Having not seen another meteor for ten minutes, I picked up my rucksack and checked that the tide had gone out before climbing down into the lethal mud and its unseen gullets that swallow wellies, sometimes people.  As I slopped through the blackness, one last Perseid, bright and green, appeared to fall into Moel Famau across the river, right into the nipple on its peak.

I made my wish before the vapour trail faded out of sight.  That’s the rule, you know.

As I walked along the water’s edge, I could hear a boat engine following behind me in the darkness all the way up to the slipway at the boatyard.

A voice from the darkness.  One of the local fishermen.  ‘See that shooting star fly into Moel Famau?’

‘Yup.  What did you wish for?’

‘Can’t tell you that,’ he said, dragging his dinghy up the slip.  ‘Wouldn’t come true, would it?’

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