Friday, March 25, 2016

A Cup of Coffee

Dreckenheimer opened up the Daily News and flipped through the headlines. Iced green tea and fiber bar to the right, list of clients, monies owed and deliverables due, to the left. He took a long, cold swig when a headline about an aspiring comedienne being carted off to the funny farm for stalking a local politician caught his eye.

“Oy vey- what has this fakaktah schlumperdink done now?” the 75-year-old personal manager muttered to himself. He had thought he had seen it all. The article read:

"Selena Markowitz, a former homeless woman whose comedy career peaked when she appeared on VH2’s stand-up Comedy Slam Showcase a couple of years ago, was taken to Bellevue Hospital earlier today for observation after security guards arrested Ms. Markowitz for allegedly stalking Democratic Presidential Candidate Stacey Smith’s office dressed in a bathrobe."

Dreckenheimer had discovered Markowitz performing on the subway, but in fairness it was actually Markowitz who had zeroed in on “The Dreck.” 

Dreckenheimer had a fail-safe shit detector or radar that led people who were bat-shit crazy right to him and his little management/talent company. Why they sought him out instead of the big boys, the real players in the industry, was not too difficult to figure out. They were all losers. The dregs. The deluded. The almost-talented. They were minor leaguers toiling in obscurity with one and only one burning desire. The desire to not be the butt of life’s jokes anymore. Andy Warhol called it 15 minutes of fame. 

Dreckenheimer, who liked baseball - the Yankees in particular - called it a Cup of Coffee. A call up to the major leagues and chance in the Big Show. A chance for redemption; a golden shining moment. A dream fulfilled. A heroin shot full of adrenaline and a dance with fame. That is what his Worldwide Prestige Talent Agency offered his clients - a Cup of Coffee. The golden moments are fleeting an old high school girlfriend once wrote him in a poetic love note before she took his virginity during senior year and then unceremoniously dumped him. Luck be a lady.

“Shut up already, you talentless Fuckin Assholes!” Dreckenheimer shouted to no-one in particular. 

His small office had paper-thin walls and was right next to a telemarketing company that offered terrible business advice. It was like Chinese water torture every day. The telemarketers were all commission-based bottom of the barrel cretins that looked and sounded like circus freaks from the Glen Garry Glenn-Idiot factory. Their phone pitches were loud and dumb and never-ending. 

“Hello Mr. Jones, how are YOU today? It’s Charlie from Marine Financial—how is YOUR business doing today?” 

“It’s all FUCKED up just like YOU Charlie - you USELESS excuse for a human being!” Dreckenheimer pounded his fist against the peeling paint on the wall. 

If had kept a gun in his office he would have been locked up years ago for murder.

by Adam Kluger

Original artwork by Adam Kluger

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

On time...

I recently spotted this piece about time and writing in the Glimmertrain Press newsletter, and enjoyed it very much. I found many of the things Gabe Herron mentioned spoke to me. In particular, the quote: 

"You must put time aside at the very moment you realize there isn't enough, that you have started too late, or from too far behind the start line, or both. You have to forget time because it's going to take how long it takes, not one minute longer, not one minute less."

So I thought we should share it here on Cafe Aphra. 

What do you think? 

Did you find anything in this article that resonated with you? How do you deal with time and finding the time - or making the time - to write?

Post your comments below...

Friday, March 11, 2016


There were footprints in the snow all the way to the phone box. Clare shivered outside while she waited for the caller to finish, warming herself with the last but one of the cigarettes she found in a crumpled packet in her coat pocket. 

“Cold night”, the woman said as she pushed back the heavy glass door. “You’ve moved into Selkie Cottage haven’t you? Isn’t the phone working yet? That was supposed to have been fixed for you. You should speak to Gordon Ross. I’m Jean Moncrieff by the way.”

“Anne Ramsay,” Clare lied. “I expect there’s been a delay. And I can’t get a signal on my mobile.” She forced a smile.

“Aye, well I’ll not hold you up then. Goodnight.”


Clare watched Jean Moncrieff walk back along the path, her black raincoat flapping against her legs like a nun’s habit. Clare waited until she was out of sight then carefully barred her number before dialling.

“How safe are you?” Rob’s voice was a seductive whisper.

Clare idly traced a gloved finger around one of the window panes, transferring several years of grime and red paint flakes onto the soft wool. “I’m safe enough. Best you don’t know where.” 

“OK, but be careful. Your description has been circulated everywhere.”

“I’ll be careful. Don’t worry. But I don’t think I’d better call you again for a while. I need to keep a low profile. I’ve already been noticed coming out to the phone box.”

“Yes, you’re probably right. Where have you put it? Have you got it with you?”

“It’s in a safe place. You don’t need to worry. It’s best you don’t know where.” 

“We must have been mad.”

“Well, just a bit, I suppose. I don’t regret it, do you?”

"No, of course not. It’s the best fun I’ve had in ages. I miss you though.” 

“I miss you too but I’d better go now.”

“Yes OK. I don’t want you to freeze to death in that phone box. Call soon.”

“In a few days. You look after yourself.”

“You too. Bye, Clare. I love you.

“Love you too. Bye.”

Clare walked slowly back to the cottage, smoking her last cigarette. They had been mad. He was right about that. Crazy. They’d never get away with it. Tomorrow or the next day, the local Hamish Macbeth would be knocking on her door. 

But why should he? Up here she was Anne Ramsay, author, a long-standing visitor to this remote Scottish island. No-one would connect her with Clare Simpson, the London art dealer, missing since the Millennium theft of a Cezanne from the Ashmolean Museum. All the evidence led to Rob, anyway. She had been careful about that. 

Back in the cottage in front of the warm log fire, Clare lifted the red velvet cushions of the sofa and pulled out a flat cardboard box. She poured herself a brandy, then unwrapped Auvers-sur-Oise. It was safe. She was safe. Everything would be fine now.

by Susanna Reece

Paul Cezanne's undated and unsigned painting was stolen from Oxford's Ashmolean Museum on the night of 31st December 1999 during a celebration of fireworks for the Millennium. 
It has never been recovered.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Step Outside

There is a man named Steven O'Toole in London
I can see him now as the sun goes down and long shadows rise
The summer’s heat stands on the telephone lines and roof spines
Daring the wind to push it to the cracking pavement
Dare to dance with the other devils
Meet sister in the July sky
Turn to the absence of light, the testimonies of well-laid plans
And dive through the cracks,
A midsummer’s veil over bricks and cement
With all its liquid air in heat, breathing
Filling you restless and drowsy
A teardrop both clinging and falling
Back to the cool river
Take me back to the dreams
It’s just a city
That’s all it is
All your own in its well-laid plans.
But Step Outside
Its just a city, gold, castle ashes and parchment
Somewhere in the city is a man named Steven O'Toole
He looks out the window as the sun goes down and the long shadows rise
And the summer’s heat stands on the telephone wires and roof spines
Daring the wind to push it to the cracking pavement
Curling a finger
Step outside

By J. Adam King

First published on and by Thynks Publishing.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Some more rules for writing fiction (Part Two)

... and here is Part Two, as promised last week!

Again, well worth the read.

Rules for Writing from everyone under the sun (Part Two)

Let us know your thoughts below... which ones were your favourites?