1. Lemex

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Oct 2, 2007
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    Northeast England

    Contest Winner! Lemex! Short Story Contest (130) Theme: Plan B

    Discussion in 'Monthly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Lemex, Mar 31, 2013.

    Thanks to everyone who voted, especally for this story. I don't think I have the words to express how much this actually means to me. Thank you everyone. :)

    A Good Plan B (2,506 words)

    It had been a very good day, and now night was settling on Cyprus. In Famagusta the nightlife was in full swing, boogieing to The Bee Gees, and rocking to a still rather bluesy Fleetwood Mac. A mixture of drinking, money, adrenaline haze, and drugs made the town a great place to be when a twenty something, and fresh from a BA.

    Three young guys talked and ate in their hotel restaurant, trying to decide what to do for the night. The smell of the dirt still cooling was making an atmosphere for talk about Homer, Sophocles, Greek food, and how surprisingly good Greek beer was. Reptiles slipped into the pool, and from out of a corner came the slippery-wet sax of Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’.

    ‘So, tomorrow lads?’ Simon said finishing off his beer.

    ‘Yeah?’ Richard said.

    ‘What are we going to do?’ Simon said.

    There was a pause. ‘Well,’ said Richard, before turning to the James. ‘What do we think?’

    ‘Could just stay in Famagusta, get drunk tonight?’ James said.

    ‘Or,’ Richard said lighting a cigarette, ‘we could go down to Nicosia. A Plan B.’

    ‘Nic-kou-sia,’ James said.

    ‘Nic-o-sea-a’ Richard said, ‘asshole’. There was a chorus of laughter.

    ‘Ok, why?’ Simon said.

    ‘Apparently it’s kind of nice down there,’ Richard said, ‘No point coming so far out here and ... not seeing the sights, I guess,’ for some reason he lost confidence the longer he talked.

    ‘That or going to some bar in town? Pick up some girls, score some grass? You know,’ James said.

    ‘Jim, why don’t you go boogie on down there tonight and see how your luck fares out?’ Simon said, sneering.

    ‘Hey!’ James said.

    ‘Alright, alright,’ Simon said, laughing. ‘Mind I’m not sure what I feel about going around the countryside when those peace talks are still going on. Call me crazy.’

    ‘Weird thinking that this is the same country Lord Gordon once fought for’ Richard said.

    ‘Oh man, you could almost imagine it,’ said James, agreeing, ‘Back you sons of Pram! Go join thy brother Aeneus on that boat to that, Nicean shore!'

    Richard laughed.

    ‘Nicaea is in Turkey, by the way. Keep saying that and you’ll be counted as some kind of insurgent, I bet,’ Simon said. Dave Burbeck’s version of ‘Take Five’ changed to ‘Money’ by Pink Floyd.

    ‘Ba-bada-baw. Baw-bawbaw-BAWBAW!’ Simon said along with the baseline.

    ‘Maybe you could take your guitar tomorrow, play it instead of paying for lunch? Greeks sure love their music,’ James said, ‘You could play Money!’ he added, finishing his beer. Richard laughed.

    ‘Heh, will I take that as an early night tonight then?’ Simon said, playing with his empty glass, ‘Even with all this going on?’

    ‘Yeah, well, it seems to be the plan anyway. Sides, a hangover can wait I guess.’ James said.

    Simon gave Richard a look. ‘Peace talks, remember. And the Turkish invasion is far too north to affect us anyway.’ Richard said.

    ‘Yeah, well, that’s fine then, it’s Plan B and Nicosia then,’ Simon said, bending foreword and placing his hands together, elbows resting on the table. He looked like a disco version of Marlon Brando in The Godfather, discussing ‘business’. ‘I’ve never understood the idea of going to another country and just experiencing the night life anyway.’

    ‘Oh I know.’ James said, agreeing.

    ‘Mind, I think I can, if Famagusta is this much fun,’ Richard said.

    ‘Oh, right, so that’s what you call passionately embracing the toilet at two in the morning, ‘fun’?’ James said.

    ‘Oh, you bastard,’ Richard said stubbing his cigarette out. The three laughed and stood up from the table to pay the bill.


    The next morning Richard was the first to wake. The first thing he did was go to switch the kettle on for a cup of coffee. He cut two halves of bread lumberjack style. Scratching himself and yarning as the water boiled he woke Simon, who had been sleeping on the couch. Simon announced his awaking with a ‘fuck’ and a yarn. ‘You making coffee?’ Simon said.

    ‘Yeah,’ Richard said. There was a pause as Simon collected himself.

    ‘Why do you do that?’ Simon said, still sleepy, ‘Why do you have honey and bread?’

    ‘It’s nice. I think I got it from Virgil.’


    ‘One spoonful or two?’

    ‘Two, I need a strong one today.’

    ‘No tea?’ Richard said smiling.

    ‘Fuck off,’ Simon said standing up from the sofa, ‘You know I can’t drink that stuff.’ Richard laughed as he mixed milk and coffee together in two cups.

    ‘Did you hear the next flat along last night?’ Simon said.

    ‘Eh?’ Richard said.

    ‘They bonked man, it was beautiful.’

    ‘Heh-heh,’ Richard said.

    ‘I seen, yesterday, as I was shopping, a Car Hire place just down the road. Not at bad prices either.’

    ‘Oh yeah? Like what?’

    ‘A good looking Audi for ... I don’t know, not very much.’

    ‘Ah, excellent,’ Richard said mixing hot water into the two cups. James staggered in to the room.

    ‘Oh man, I feel hungover,’ James said.

    ‘You hear that couple next door?’ Simon said.

    ‘Yeah ... I did,’ James smiled weakly, ‘It was awesome’.

    ‘Haha! Yeah it was,’ Simon said.

    ‘Ow man!’ Richard said protesting, ‘we have to sit there dude! Come on.’

    ‘Don’t worry man, I didn’t wack off. Much.’

    ‘Oh Jesus.’ Richard said laughing.

    Simon started singing, doing an Elvis impression, ‘We can’t go on together, with suspicious mi-i-inds!’

    ‘Wuh-uh-uhhe-uhe!’ James chimed.

    ‘Oh, fermez la fucking bouche,’ Richard said, there was laughter. ‘Who’s going to rent the car then.’

    ‘I think you should my man,’ Simon said, tapping Richard on the shoulder. ‘And we’ll give you back our shares when we see what you’ve bought.’

    ‘Sure. Just any car or you have your heart set on that Audi?’

    ‘The Audi. Man, I don’t think I could live without it. Don’t let me down, alright?’ Simon said.

    Richard laughed. ‘Fine,’ he said, handing a cup of coffee to Simon, ‘you want one, James?’

    ‘Yeah, Go on then,’ James said.


    After a cup of coffee and his honey sandwich, Richard walked down the street to the Car Hire Simon had mentioned. He found a new Audi 50 in bright yellow, and for a rather good price. He guessed this was the car Richard had in mind. ‘Groovy,’ he said to himself looking through a side window into the car, ‘now to learn, very quickly of course, how to drive on the other side of the road.’

    This was something he found easier than thought, and though the clutch was a bit too sensitive it was in fact a good car. Thankfully few people were on the road that morning (it was still early) so he had enough space to get a feel for the clutch. He also felt kind of cool driving around town by himself, eyeing up girls in his new, bright yellow Audi 50.

    After an hour of driving around he parked outside the hotel and honked the car horn. He lit a cigarette. The car had a cassette tape player, so he put his Jefferson Airplane tape on. ‘Classy Germans,’ he said to himself.

    When James and Simon appeared from the hotel and climbed in to the car Richard set off, tossing his cigarette out the window. The day was clear and warm, and very beautiful. It was mid august, and locals had been telling them over the past few days that this was one of the last ‘good’ weeks they were going to have in Famagusta, the end of the tourist season was fast approaching.

    They had come at this late time of the year, largely, because it was much cheaper than it would have been if they had booked their holiday earlier. They had just finished their BAs and were taking a well deserved holiday together. Though they all had set aside a respectable amount, spending money was something they were all being careful with. To a degree.

    They soon left town and began to move along roadways. As they drove through the countryside (on roads little more than dirt tracks at times) the Turkish invasion the month before, the peace talks, the politics – it all seemed to disappear – to not matter. At times they almost felt they could escape into some other place and time period: a place where they might actually see a Titan, or could journey to the underworld and meet King Oedipus, arguing with Creon. Cyprus was beautiful, and Nicosia (especially) could have been an encapsulation of that Mediterranean where the old gods still live.

    They explored a good part of the region, and had lunch in the taverna of a village whose name they could not seem to memorise, and not for want of trying. When the time felt right they changed direction, toward Famagusta. A few miles from town James, who was sitting in the back seats, leaned forward. ‘Hey’ he said, ‘who did you say had came here to fight?’ James asked.

    ‘What?’ Richard said.

    ‘Last night?’

    ‘Lord Byron? Came here to fight the Turks for Greek independence?’

    ‘Wasn’t that on the Greek mainland?’ Simon said.

    ‘Yeah, but, it’s here, Greece.’

    ‘Yeah, but ...’ Simon said. His sentence trailed away. He did not care about his objection enough to voice it.

    ‘Oh what the fuck is this?’ Richard said, slowing and then stopping behind a van. There was a road block ahead of them. A Greek solider ran foreward, a rifle slung over his soldier and an arm raised out. He was shouting something in Greek.

    ‘What is this?’ Simon shouted to him, more to make the point that they were English than anything else.

    ‘Hello?’ The soldier said, stopping at Richard’s window. His voice had the tone of someone who was not comfortable speaking a foreign language.

    ‘Yes, hello, what is with the roadblock?’ Richard said.

    ‘The road is closed. The road is closed. Eh. Turkish troops ahead.’ He made a gesture with his hand.

    ‘You what?’ Simon said.

    ‘Let’s get out,’ Richard said. They did. The road block was small. Three or four soldiers stood protecting an ersatz barricade, made by a tank that had been parked straight across the road.

    ‘What’s going on?’ Richard said.

    ‘Famagusta - is being attacked,’ the solider said.


    ‘The attack started an hour ago,’ he said. Another car stopped behind Richard and the solider looked back. He shouted something in Greek and ran to it.
    A crowd of people were standing on a nearby hill, some were holding binoculars and looking in the direction of the town. Richard ran up that hill, and the others followed him. Simon said something but no one heard what he said.

    Famagusta came into sight. ‘Oh Jesus Christ!’ Simon said. The city was just a grey smear in the distance. Two streams of black smoke were coming out of it. It looked like the description of Coketown in Hard Times, but it would be some time before Richard even thought of that. They stood looking at town in the distance for some time, not saying anything. A Cypriot grabbed Richard’s shoulder and motioned a pair of binoculars into his hands. Richard took it.

    ‘What’s going on,’ Simon said, ‘what can you see?’

    ‘Planes, I think I can see a tank,’ Richard said.

    ‘See any people?’

    ‘No ... no, I can’t see much. Here,’ Richard said, handing Simon the binoculars. James had placed his hand over his eyes and was trying hard to see what was going on as well. ‘I think, is that a fighter?’ James said, pointing into the air. Simon followed his finger line and then spotted it with the binoculars.

    ‘Yeah, yeah I see it. It’s ... some sort of jet.’

    Some people climbed down the hill. They were trying to get closer to the city but they were shouted back by the soldiers. Apparently there was an invisible line that the soldiers were not happy about people crossing. One of the soldiers explained to the crowd that they were already very close to a spotting hill being used by Greek snipers, and that it would be not a good idea to get any closer.

    ‘What do we do now?’ Simon said.

    ‘... I don’t know,’ Richard said. James finally got the binoculars but, weirdly, he was quickly bored of them. He was not sure he wanted to see anything anyway. The distant city sound tracked with banging and, just audible, the pik-pik-piks of machine gun fire was depressing. James handed them to Richard. Richard didn’t say anything.

    Simon said, ‘here, give it back.’

    ‘Yeah,’ Richard said passing them. Simon gave the binoculars back to their original owner. ‘Come on. Let’s go. We can go south, to the British army base. Alright?’ Richard said.

    ‘Alright,’ Simon said, ‘makes sense.’ He looked at Richard, unsure what to say.

    They returned to the Audi, and turned it around. They planned the drive toward the British army base in Akrotiri. There was also a British base in Dhekelia that was much closer, but was too close to Famagusta for comfort, for everyone. As Richard fired up the car they felt like they were on the run, and weirdly, like how they imagined being homeless would feel. This was something they all felt, and they all knew each other felt it. There was a heavy air in the car as the late day darkened.

    Richard stopped the car once to get some fresh air as the sun was beginning to go down. The sun shone a bright orange light on everything. He pulled his cigarette packet out of his pocket and had a smoke, looking into the distance. James stayed in the car, Simon got out and approached him. ‘Yo, can I have one?’ Simon said, motioning to the cigarette pack that Richard was, for no reason he could think of, still holding in one hand.

    ‘Sure,’ Richard said.

    Simon took a cigarette, inexpertly put it in his mouth and lit it with Richard’s lighter. It took two attempts to light because he was scared of the fire. He breathed the cigarette in and then coughed the first drag out. He steeled himself and sucked the second drag into his lungs. It was not much better. He had never smoked before, and he was not exactly sure why he was trying it now.

    ‘I just can’t believe,’ Simon said.

    ‘Don’t,’ Richard said.

    ‘Look I,’ Simon said. He became very aware that Richard was the one who had picked Famagusta, at this time. Simon was not sure what to say. He was already convinced he should not have said anything, and anything he added would be doomed to a misunderstanding, but he still wanted to try.

    ‘Look Simon, just don’t,’ Richard said. Richard knew what Simon was going to say anyway. Something clicked then, and Simon stopped himself. They looked at each other as they smoked. No one said a word for the rest of the journey.
  2. JJ_Maxx

    JJ_Maxx Banned

    Oct 8, 2012
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    Very well written, congrats mate! :)


    ~ J. J.
  3. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    May 20, 2012
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    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Great stuff - great characterization. Love some of your terms - slippery wet sax, lumberjack style , disco version of Marlon Brando!
    Well done! Fave line -
  4. thirdwind

    thirdwind Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Jul 17, 2008
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    Great job on this story! It was a well-deserved win.

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