One Last Look

A single event can have enormous consequences.

A single event driven by fate, after Ben told his wife Charlotte he would be late home one night, he left early, and by chance discovers his wife having dinner in their favourite restaurant with another man.

A single event where it could be said Ben was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Who was this man?  Why was she having dinner with him?

A simple truth to explain the single event was all Ben required.  Instead Charlotte told him a lie.

A single event that forces Ben to question everything he thought he knew about his wife, and the people who are around her.

After a near death experience and forced retirement into a world he is unfamiliar with, Ben finds himself once again drawn back into that life of lies, violence, and intrigue.

From London, to a small village in Tuscany, little by little Ben discovers who the woman he married is, and the real reason why fate had brought them together.



What Sets Us Apart

David is a man troubled by a past he is trying to forget.

Susan is rebelling against a life of privilege and an exasperated mother who holds a secret that will determine her daughter’s destiny.

They are two people brought together by chance.  Or was it?

When Susan discovers her mother’s secret, she goes in search of the truth that has been hidden from her since the day she was born.

When David realises her absence is more than the usual cooling off after another heated argument, he finds himself being slowly drawn back into his former world of deceit and lies.

Then, back with his former employers, David quickly discovers nothing is what it seems as he embarks on a dangerous mission to find Susan before he loses her forever.



The Devil You Don’t

John Pennington’s life is in the doldrums.  Looking for new opportunities, prevaricating about getting married, the only joy on the horizon was an upcoming visit to his grandmother in Sorrento, Italy.

Suddenly he is left at the check in counter with a message on his phone telling him the marriage is off, and the relationship is over.

If only he hadn’t promised a friend he would do a favour for him in Rome.

At the first stop, Geneva, he has a chance encounter with Zoe, an intriguing woman who captures his imagination from the moment she boards the Savoire, and his life ventures into uncharted territory in more ways than one.

That ‘favour’ for his friend suddenly becomes a life changing event, and when Zoe, the woman who he knows is too good to be true, reappears, danger and death follows.

Shot at, lied to, seduced, and drawn into a world where nothing is what it seems, John is dragged into an adrenaline charged undertaking, where he may have been wiser to stay with the ‘devil you know’ rather than opt for the ‘devil you don’t’.



Echoes from the Past

What happens when your past finally catches up with you?

Christmas is just around the corner, a time to be with family.  For Will Mason, an orphan since he was fourteen, it is a time for reflection on what his life could have been, and what it could be.

Until a chance encounter brings back to life the reasons for his twenty years of self imposed exile from a life only normal people could have.  From that moment Will’s life slowly starts to unravel and it’s obvious to him it’s time to move on.

This time, however, there is more at stake.

Will has broken his number one rule, don’t get involved.

With his nemesis, Eddie Jamieson, suddenly within reach, and a blossoming relationship with an office colleague, Maria, about to change everything, Will has to make a choice.  Quietly leave, or finally make a stand.

But as Will soon discovers, when other people are involved there is going to be terrible consequences no matter what choice he makes.



Sunday in New York

“Sunday in New York” is ultimately a story about trust, and what happens when a marriage is stretched to its limits.

When Harry Steele attends a lunch with his manager, Barclay, to discuss a promotion that any junior executive would accept in a heartbeat, it is the fact his wife, Alison, who previously professed her reservations about Barclay, also agreed to attend, that casts a small element of doubt in his mind.

From that moment his life, in the company, in deciding what to do, his marriage, his very life, spirals out of control.

There is no one big factor that can prove Harry’s worst fears, that his marriage is over, just a number of small, interconnecting events, when piled on top of each other, points to a cataclysmic end to everything he had believed in.

Trust is lost firstly in his best friend and mentor, Andy, who only hints of impending disaster, Sasha, a woman whom he saved, and who appears to have motives of her own, and then in his wife, Alison, as he discovered piece by piece damning evidence she is about to leave him for another man.

Can we trust what we see with our eyes or trust what we hear?

Haven’t we all jumped to conclusions at least once in our lives?

Can Alison, a woman whose self-belief and confidence is about to be put to the ultimate test, find a way of proving their relationship is as strong as it has ever been?

As they say in the classics, read on!


Sunday In New York

Thoughts, maybe

It’s time to look at the dreaded bucket list


I only say dreaded because it is a reminder of how old I am and that there are a lot of things I haven’t yet done.

Does it really matter, you ask?

Perhaps not, but now seems to be an appropriate time, past the age of 60, to take stock.

We have achieved a lot in the last 15 or so years once the children had grown up and could look after themselves.

Unlike a lot of more modern couples who are doing the travelling in their 20’s and 30’s then having children, we chose to do it the other way around.

To me it seemed easier to deal with teenagers when we were in our 40’s rather than our 60’s.  With the benefit of hindsight I can truthfully say we were right.

We were older and wiser when we travelled and more aware of the dangers around us, sometimes overlooked or ignored by a youthful devil may care attitude.

But, in saying that ….

No, I don’t think I’ll be getting to see Mt Kilimanjaro, observing the wild animals in the Serengeti, climbing Mt Everest, or seeing the ancient pyramids.

Which is a sad state of affairs given the world has changed so much in recent years and has pretty much ruled out going to a lot of places, and in particular, the middle east.

Given the state of the world, it is getting more dangerous to go to such places as Africa, Russia and Egypt.  Even places like Bangkok and Athens and other parts of Greece can be relatively unsafe.  But, whilst I have no intention of going to Thailand, I still want to go to the Greek Islands, and,

Santorini is at the top of my travel bucket list.

We’ve been to London.  We’ve been to Paris and Euro Disney.  We’ve been to Rome and seen the ancient ruins.  We’ve been to Vienna, Schonbrunn palace, and, particularly for us, a visit to Swarovski crystal world, near Innsbruck, we’ve been to Salzburg, and been on the Sound of Music tour.

We’ve been to Florence and loved it, we’ve been to Venice and loved that too, and we’ve spent a few days in the heart of Tuscany, and want to go back for longer, much longer.

In fact, that’s the second item on the travel bucket list.

We’ve also been to Singapore and Hong Kong, at first out of necessity as an airline stopover, but the we went back to see the city and tourist, and non tourist attractions.

I will not forget staying at the Hong Kong Conrad hotel as a Diamond Hhonors member.  Oh, the memories.

We’ve also stayed on the French Riviera, in a time share apartment in Antibes where every morning when out back you had a view of the shimmering Mediterranean, if the sun was out.

Nice, Cannes, Monte Carlo, the billionaires yachts in Antibes harbor, Monte Carlo and ‘that’ casino, taking the same drive along the coast as Grace Kelly did in To Catch a Thief, and feeling like James Bond arriving for a new adventure, minus the half million dollar sports car.

But, now, crashing back to earth with a very hard thump ….

Travel in the future is looking difficult for both of us, not only financially but from a health aspect.  We are both not as sprightly as we used to be.

Yet given the restraints and if it is at all possible, aside from the Greek Islands and Tuscany, the next items on the list are:

Germany, visiting both Berlin, from a cold war aspect, the Brandenburg gate springs to mind, and Munich at the time of the Octoberfest.  As a beer drinker that is also high on the bucket list.

Scotland, more so since we’ve started watching Outlander, and besides being a beer drinker, I am also partial to a good Single Malt, the Whiskey trail.

Ireland, because my wife’s previous name was Murphy and at some point in the long distant past some relatives emigrated to Australia, and she would like to visit the country of her forebears.

But with the current state of the world, our health issues, and that all important requisite money, or the lack of it, perhaps it’s time to visit other parts of our own country.

Perhaps it’s time to do a culinary trip, particularly down south.  It’s practical and achievable and safe.

And it’s a big country.

Short story writing – Revision

I have reworked the second part of the story though this part needed a few less changes than the first.

This is the new second section:


It had been another long day at the office for Officer Margaret O’Donnell, or, out in the streets, coping with people who either didn’t know or didn’t care about the law.

People who couldn’t cross the road where there were crossings and lights to protect them, silly girls shoplifting on a dare, and boys who thought they were men and could walk on water.

The one they scraped of the road would never get to grow up, and his mother, well, she was not doing another call on a family to give them bad news for a while.  Someone else could deal with the problem next time.

That was her day.

So far.

At the end of the day she was glad to be getting home, putting her feet up, and forgetting about everything until the next morning when it would start all over again.

Coming around that last corner, the home stretch she called it, she was directly opposite the corner shop, usually closed at this hour of the night. 

It was not.  The lights were still on.

She looked at her watch and saw it was ten minutes to midnight, and long past closing time.  She looked through the window, but from the other side of the street she could only see three heads and little else.

Damn, she thought, I’m going to have to check it out. 

She was aware of the rumors, from her co-residents and also her colleagues down at the station, rumors she hoped were not true.


Jack exchanged a look with the shopkeeper, who in return gave him a slight shrug, as if to say he ‘we tried and failed’.

And she was clearly scared of something, and it looked to him like it might be the shopkeeper.  He had no idea what happened before he burst into the shop, but from the tenseness in the air, it had nothing to do with the boy on the floor.

He could see the girl was not strung out on drugs, in fact she did not like a user at all.  If she had been, Jack was positive they’d both be on the floor, dead, or almost dead.

Another rumor just coming back to him, this was apparently not the first time the store had been robbed, but by the time the police arrived, the would be robbers were gone.

What was different this time?

Was it the fact the girl was just the unfortunate partner of a boy who was on drugs, and had found herself in a dangerous position, one that couldn’t be dealt with or explained away to the advantage of the shopkeeper.

Beth, his wife, had told him she didn’t like nor trust the shopkeeper and that her friend in the same apartment block had told her he had been seen selling drugs to youths who hung around just before he closed.  She had warned him it would not be safe, but he had ignored her.

It was a bit late to tell her she might be right.

He took a half step towards the door, judging the distance and time it would take to open the door and get out.

Too far, and he would be too slow, and that his reward for running would be a bullet in the back.

Perhaps another half step when she wasn’t looking.


The girl had long enough to think about her situation.  This was only going to end one of two ways, and she knew it.  No amount of ‘thinking’ was going to make it any better, only worse.

The shopkeeper changed his expression to a more placatory one, and said quietly to the girl, “Look, this is not this chap’s problem.”  He nodded in the direction of the customer.  “I’m sure he’d rather not be here, and you would glad of one less distraction.”

He could see she was wavering.  She was not holding the gun so steadily, and the longer this dragged on, the more nervous and unpredictable she would become.

And in the longer game, the customer would sing his praises no matter what happened if he could get him out of the shop alive and well.

This could still be a win-win situation.


The girl looked at Jack.  The shopkeeper was right.  If he wasn’t here this could be over, one way or another.

But there was another problem.  It didn’t look like Simmo was in any shape to get away.  In fact this was looking more like a suicide mission.

She waved the gun in his direction.  ‘Get out now, before I change my mind.’

As the gun turned to the shopkeeper, Jack wasn’t going to wait to be asked twice and started sidling towards the door.


Officer Margaret O’Donnell crossed the street from the corner instead of remaining on the same side of the street as she did every other night.  When she reached the other sidewalk, she was about 20 yards from the nearest window of the store.

As she crossed, she got a better view of the three people in the store, and noticed the woman, or girl, was acting oddly, as if she had something in her hand, and, from time to time looked down beside her.

A yard or two from the window she stopped, took a deep breath, and then moved slowly forward, getting a better view of the scene with each step.

Then she saw the gun in the girl’s hand, and the two men, the shopkeeper and a customer, facing her, hands out where they could be seen.

It was a convenience store robbery in progress.

She reached for her radio, but it wasn’t there.  She was off duty.  Instead, she withdrew, and called the station on her mobile phone, and reported the robbery.  The officer on the end of the phone said a car would be there in five minutes.

In five minutes there could be dead bodies.

She had to do something, and reached into her bag and pulled out a gun.  Not her service weapon, but one she carried in case of personal danger.


The policewoman crouched below the window shelf line so the girl wouldn’t see her, and made it to the door before standing up.  She was in dark clothes so the chances were the girl would not see her against the dark street backdrop.

Her hand was on the door handle about to push it inwards when she could feel it being yanked hard from the other side, and the momentum and surprise of it caused her to fall forward, losing balance, and crash into the man who was trying to get out.

What the hell…

A second or two later both were on the floor in a tangled mess, her gun hand caught underneath her, and a glance in the direction of the girl with the gun told her the situation had gone from bad to worse.

The girl had swung the gun around and aimed it at her and squeezed the trigger.  It was the second of two successive shots, the mini explosions  in the small room almost deafening, and definitely disorientating.

Behind her the glass door disintegrated when the bullet hit it.

Neither she or the man beside her had been hit.


She felt a kick in the back and the tickling of glass then broke free as the man she’s run into rolled out of the way.

Quickly on her feet, she saw the girl had gone, those precious few seconds taken to get up off the floor and get out the door was long enough for the girl to disappear, as if into thin air.

She could hear a siren in the distance.


© Charles Heath 2016

Thoughts, maybe

That ‘Bio’ again


I’m back to obsessing about my 140 characters bio on twitter.

So much so that I have been trawling through thousands on other bio’s trying to understand what makes a good one.

Quite a lot preface theirs with Dad to or Mom to x wonderful children.  I think that goes without saying, so moving on.

Quite a lot advertise services using hash tags which is a great idea, perhaps in the hope people are looking for said services and will follow them, then to DM them with more information.

I haven’t quite mastered the art of doing that, so I’ll let that one slide for the moment.

But …

That brings up the relevance of using hash tags in the bio.  That gives me a bit more scope to make it to the point.

A quick search of relevant hash tags reveals:

writer, author, thriller, mystery, adventure, writing etc.

All are useful but it doesn’t really carry any pulling power.  We need something that grabs the reader’s attention, and do it in the shortest, most succinct manner.

I am a writer, a wordsmith, who, I was once told, swallowed a dictionary.  But, in the light of the current task, you’d think it would be just a ‘walk in the park’ instead of the proverbial ‘pain in the neck’.

Perhaps I could compose a riddle that comes back to the answer of who I am, but who has the time to sit and work it out.

I think that might be a little pretentious.

So, back to square one.

At the moment all I have is ‘aspiring writer’.

It’s not possible that’s enough, is it?

Short Story Writing – Revision

I have reworked the first part of the story with a few new elements about the characters, and changed a few of the details of how the characters finish up in the shop, before the policewoman makes her entrance.

This is the new first section:


Jack was staring down the barrel of a gun.

He had gone down to the corner shop to get a pack of cigarettes.

He had to hustle because he knew the shopkeeper, Alphonse, liked to close at 11:00 pm sharp.  His momentum propelled him through the door, causing the customer warning bell to ring loudly as the door bashed into it, and before the sound had died away, he knew he was in trouble.

It took a second, perhaps three, to sum up the situation. 

A young girl, about 16 or 17, scared, looking sideways at a man on the ground, then Alphonse, and then Jack.  He recognized the gun, a Luger, German, relic of WW2, perhaps her father’s souvenir, or more likely a stolen weapon, now pointing at him then Alphonse, then back to him.

Jack took another second or two to consider if he could disarm her.  No, the distance was too great.  He put his hands out where she could see them.  No sudden movements, try to remain calm, his heart rate up to the point of cardiac arrest.  No point making a bad situation worse.

Pointing with the gun, she said, “Move closer to the counter where I can see you better.”

Everything but her hand steady as a rock.  Only tell tale sign of stress, the bead of perspiration on her brow.  It was 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the shop.

Jack shivered, and then did as he was told. 

A few seconds more for him to decide she was in the unpredictable category.

“What’s wrong with your friend?”  Jack tried the friendly approach, after he’d taken the three steps sideways necessary to reach the counter.

The shopkeeper, Alphonse, who, Jack noted seemed to have aged another ten years in the last few months, spoke instead; “I suspect he’s an addict, looking for a score.  At the end of his tether, my guess, and her to get some money.”

A simple hold up that had gone wrong.  Wrong time, wrong place, in more ways than one Jack thought, now realizing he had walked into a very dangerous situation.  She didn’t look like a user.  The boy on the ground, he did, and he looked like he was going through the beginnings of withdrawal.

Oddly, though, Jack had noticed a look pass between the shopkeeper and the girl.

 “All you had to go was give us the money, and we wouldn’t be here, now.”  She was glaring back at Alphonse.  “You can still make this right.”

A flicker of memory jumped out of the depths on Jack’s mind, something discussed at the dinner table with their neighbours, something about the shop being a pick up point for drugs.

The boy on the floor, he was not here for money.

Jack thought he’d try another approach.  “Look, I don’t want trouble, and you don’t want trouble.  I’ll go, forget this ever happened.  You might want to do the same.”

The girl looked like she was thinking.  The gun, though, still moved between him and the shopkeeper.

Another assessment of the girl; this was not her real home.  She was from a better class of people, a different part of town.  Caught up in a downward spiral because of her friend on the floor.

Caught in a situation she was not equipped to deal with.


Annalisa looked at the two men facing her.

Simmo, the boy on the floor, had told her that the shopkeeper would be a pushover, he was an old man who’d just hand over the drugs, rather than cause trouble for himself.

Where Simmo had discovered what the shopkeeper’s true vocation, dispensing drugs to the neighbourhood addicts, she didn’t know, but it was not the first place like this they had visited.

She had always known Simmo had a problem, but he had assured her he had it under control.  Until a month ago, when he had tried something new.

It had changed him.

The breaking point came earlier that day when, seeing how sick he was, she threatened to leave.  It brought out the monster within him, and he threatened to kill her.  Not long after he had changed into a whimpering child pleading with her to stay, that he hadn’t meant anything he’d said before.

All he needed was one more ‘score’ to get his ‘shit’ together, and he would do as she asked, and find help.

She believed him.

He said he knew a place not far from the apartment, a small shop where what he needed was available, and said he had the money.

That should have been the first sign he was not telling the truth, because she had been funding his habit until her parents cut off the money supply.  She suspected her father had put a private detective on to find her, had, and reported back, and rather than make a scene, just cut her off so she would have to come home or starve.  Her father was no better than Simmo.

And, as soon as they stepped into the shop, Simmo pulled out the gun,

Instead of the shopkeeper cowered like Simmo said he would, he had laughed at them and  told them to get out.  Simmo started ranting and waving the gun around, then all of a sudden collapsed. 

There was a race for the gun which spilled out of Simmo’s hand, and she won. 

That was just before the customer burst into the shop.

It had been shortly before closing time.  Simmo had said there would be no one else around.

Wrong again.

Now she had another problem to deal with, a man who was clearly as scared shitless as she was.

This was worse than any bad hair day, or getting out of the wrong side of bed day, this was, she was convinced, the last day of her life.

She heard a strange sound come from beside her and looked down.  There was a trickle of blood coming out of his mouth and Simmo was making strange sounds like he was choking.

Any other time she might have been concerned, but the hard reality of it was, Simmo was never going to change.  She was only surprised at the fact it took so long for her to realise it.

As for the man standing in front of her, she was safe from the shopkeeper with him around, so he would have to stay.

“No.  Stay.”

Another glance at the shopkeeper told her she had made the right decision, his expression said it all.  Gun or no gun, the moment she was alone with him, he would kill her.


This wasn’t the shopkeeper’s first hold up.  In fact, over the years there had been a dozen.  But only one got reported to the police, and that was only because the robber was shot and killed.

He’d taken a bullet that night, too, which, from the police point of view, made him a concerned citizen simply defending himself.

The rest had been scared off by the double barrel shotgun he kept under the counter for just such emergencies.

The young punk who came into the shop with his girlfriend had pulled out the pistol and told him if he reached for the shotgun he’d shoot him.  The kid looked unstable and he’d backed away.

When the kid collapsed, he should have gone for the shotgun, but instead he thought he could get to the gun before the girl realised what was happened.  She wasn’t an addict, and clearly looked like she was only along for the ride.  Her look when the kid pulled out the gun told him she’d known nothing about her partner’s true intentions.

But, he wasn’t fast enough, and she had the gun pointing at him before he’d got past the counter.

From one pair of unpredictable hands to another.

Like the girl, he was just as surprised when the customer burst in the door, just before closing time.

The situation might have been salvageable before the customer came in the door, getting the girl to go along with the robbery being about money, but there was no denying what the kid on the floor’s problem was.


He had to try and salvage the situation simply because there was a lot of money involved, and other people depending on him.  He looked at the boy, on the floor, then  the girl.

“Listen to me, young lady, you would be well advised to let this man go as he suggests.  And, please put the gun down before someone gets hurt.  Your friend needs medical help and I can call an ambulance.”

The girl switched her attention back to him.  “No one’s going anywhere, so just shut the hell up and let me think.”

The storekeeper glanced over at the customer. 

He’d seen him come into the shop once or twice, probably lived in the neighbourhood, the sort who’d make a reliable witness, either a lawyer or an accountant.  Not like most of the residents just beyond the fringe of respectability.

If only he hadn’t burst into the shop when he did.


© Charles Heath 2016

Thoughts, maybe

Living in another time


I’ve often thought that I should have been born in the early 1900’s and lived through what might be called the halcyon days of the 20’s and 30’s.

Of course, it is only a matter of opinion if those days were good or bad, depending on who you were.

If I’d been the heir apparent to becoming Lord of the manor, or from any part of upper classes with a University education, I have no doubt that I would not have been spared the horrors of war along with rest if the young men who went to serve and never returned.

The only saving grace might be as Officer it might have been easier than being un the ranks, but at that age I doubt if I’d be as caution as I should be, as of all youth I’d throw caution to the wind.

But in all likelihood I would not have been part of the aristocracy but more than likely a clerk or farm worker who might by wit and guile would have survived the war, if not a little traumatized by what I had seen and done in the name of defending the Empire.

It had prompted Hemingway to use the phrase ‘the lost generation’ at the end of one of his books, but perhaps it was first used by Gertrude Stein who had said in not many words that these people who survived the war were more content to drink themselves to death.

I guess if the war hadn’t taken you, and you survived the great flu epidemic that followed it, then you would probably believe you were in some way invincible.

So, in those post war days where writers and others congregated in Paris in those mid twenties, what some regard as the halcyon years before the great depression and later the next world war.  I suspect a lot of the American writers left because of prohibition and wanted the more liberal lifestyle in Paris during these years.

Certainly there was a group of writers and artists who lived that bohemian life style, perhaps a result of the horrors of war, using alcohol and promiscuity to drown the bad memories.

I doubt if anyone could return from a war like that and not be damaged in some way.  Perhaps the only way to escape the horror was to immerse oneself in a different world, and if I had been back in those days, I know I would be putting pencil to paper making endless notes for later use.

And I prefer to believe if I survived it was because my desire to become a writer would eventually be fulfilled.  Perhaps in the end it might be more likely because I had had a lifetime love affair with words, and to me it would be more than enough to make a reasonable living from it.

Certainly I would have sought out others like me as mentors and compatriots.

It was a time when the likes of F Scott Fitzgerald, Earnest Hemingway, Edith Wharton, and James Joyce, all of whom I have no doubt would be happy to be the role models one needed.

And if you could afford to take a trip to Paris, well, enough said.

It would probably take a lot of luck to be included in their group and no doubt hanging out at the Shakespeare and Company bookshop, owned by Silvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier, might have been a step in the right direction.

But, having not been there at the time, who knows what might have happened.

Perhaps one day when some invents a time machine, I might be able to go back and find out.