Trevor Belshaw Author

Author of Out of Control

Category: The Westwich Writer’s Club

The Westwich Writer’s Club

This is a serial I began writing in 2010. Sixteen chapters were written and published on a blog. It proved to be quite popular and I’ve been asked many times if I’ll finish it and turn it into a book. I think the time has now come to do that, so, I’m going for publish the first four or five chapter’s on here to see if there really is an audience for it. Thanks for reading. Comments appreciated.

Chapter One

Manuscript Night

‘Will stared down at the lifeless body of Sir Charles Montague and smiled thinly. It was over, his tormentor was dead. He pulled his sword from the neck of his victim, wiped it on the grass and sheathed it. He looked at the brightening sky, the sun said noon, time to make for Durberry Vale, Elizabeth, and the rest of his life.’

Stephen King looked up from his manuscript and surveyed the hall. The audience of mainly elderly members stared back at him. The silence was deafening. Then from the table behind him came a solitary clap.

Margot Sugden, the writers group secretary, rose to her feet.

‘Thank you for that, Stephen, I’m sure we all found it very interesting. Not many members read the last chapter of their novel on their first manuscript reading but there’s no rule that says you can’t.’

She held up her list and squinted at it.

‘Now, whose turn is it? Ah yes, Deirdre, do you have more from ‘The Quilt? You do? Excellent!’

Stephen made his way to the row of empty chairs at the back of the room and sat down with a sigh.

A white-haired woman turned to face him from the row in front.

‘Awfully good.’ she whispered. ‘For a first timer.’

‘Thank you,’ said Stephen, ‘I don’t think it went down too well.’

‘I think it needs work,’ she replied, ‘quite a bit actually and people tend to read novels from the first chapter here. But you’re writing and getting an audience, that’s what counts.’

She paused, popped a mint into her mouth, thought for a moment, then offered the packet to Stephen.

‘You will find it will take a while to become accepted here. We’re an ancient bunch with a very old-fashioned mentality. We probably see you as a bit of a threat at the moment, but we’ll get used to you…eventually.’

Stephen took a sweet from the end of the roll and smiled.

‘I’ve only written the last five pages of this particular novel so far, ‘I thought if I got the end done, I’d know where I was heading with the story, if you see what I mean.’

A warm round of applause greeted Deirdre as she took to the stage. Mary’s voice dropped to a whisper as she was shushed by the members in front.

‘You ought to be writing horror stories with a name like yours. I’m Mary Clark by the way.’

‘My English teacher said the same thing at school. Nice to meet you, Mary.’

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The Westwich Writer’s Club

Chapter Two

New Ideas.

In the meeting room, Stephen returned to his seat on the back row. Mary was chaperoned to a chair nearer the front by the elderly man who had confronted him in the bar. He gave Stephen a warning look before he sat down.

Margot got to her feet and squinted at her list.

‘Ted?’ she queried.

‘You really ought to go back to glasses, Margot,’ said Ted, as he picked up his clipboard from the floor.

Margot blushed and sat down.

Ted marched to the podium, nodded to Harriet and addressed the membership.

‘Ted Hughes, not the famous one,’ he announced.

A gentle titter ran around the room.

‘I was going to read a new poem, but as I don’t have to share reading time with my grandson tonight, I’ve decided to read the latest chapter of my novel instead.’

Ted patted his pockets, looked back to his seat, then patted his pockets again before eventually finding his spectacles on a thin chain around his neck. He cleared his throat and read from the clipboard.

‘The Jonah. Chapter 14. Unlucky for Some.’

The membership stopped fidgeting and concentrated on Ted.

‘Captain Farthing strolled into the coffee bar from the dusty street and took a table by the window, he ordered tea from a native waitress. It was stinking hot. The waitress sniffed, gave him a queer look and turned the propeller fan above their heads up to full speed.

Captain Farthing added two large spoonfuls of sugar and milk from a jug on the tray and stirred his tea slowly. He sipped the tea idly and thought about Fiona. Would she turn up after their last meeting? He doubted it. He remembered how he had trapped her ball gown in the door of his car and her horrified face when she realised it had dragged through the mud.

He hoped she had forgiven him.

There was a tinkle and Fiona stood before him. ‘Hello Farthy,’ she said. Fiona sniffed from her delightful nose. She lifted first one foot then the other and checked her shoes.

Farthing groaned as he realised in horror that the smell must be emanating from his shoes. He checked them under the table. Sure enough it was him, somewhere out on the dirty, dusty street he had trodden in dog shit.

Fiona was sympathetic. ‘You get all the bad luck, Farthy,’ she said, ‘you must be the unluckiest man in India…’

As the story progressed Stephen developed an almost uncontrollable urge to laugh. He bit his lip, then his cheek, but still the laughter welled up inside him. He decided he had to get out before he collapsed in a heap on the floor.

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The Westwich Writer’s Club

Chapter Three.

Grudging Thanks

Stephen walked out of the rear entrance and made his way across the tiny, puddle-strewn car park to the street. The car park only had a dozen spaces and they had all been taken by writer’s club members. Stephen wondered what time he would have to get there to claim one of the spaces. He suspected he would need to be there a good half hour before the meeting started.

The club was situated at the bottom of a narrow street on a steep hill. Close to town, the street was popular with drivers as it was one of the few places left without yellow lines and parking meters. Pedestrians splashed their way along the pavement eager to get to their destination and out of the gathering storm.

Stephen held his plastic document folder above his head and jogged up the hill to his car. By the time he reached it the rain had begun in earnest. A clap of thunder rattled the windows of the taller buildings, a few seconds later a crazy zig-zag of lightning lit up the night sky.

Stephen fired up the engine and switched on the headlights. The music of Snow Patrol roared out from the speakers. He began to sing along as he flicked the indicator and eased his way through narrow gap between the lines of parked cars.

Half way up the street he noticed two figures struggling with an umbrella. Stephen hit a button and the window was lowered.

‘Can I give you a lift?’ he called.

Mick glared from under the peak of his cap.

‘No thanks, we’re fine.’

‘You may be fine, Mick, but I’m getting soaked,’ said Mary. ‘Thank you, young man.’

Mick opened the back door and waited for Mary to get into the car. To his annoyance she opened the front door and climbed in next to Stephen. She snapped on her seat belt as Mick grudgingly threw himself into the rear seat.

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The Westwich Writer’s Club

Chapter Four

Work Issues

After dinner Charlotte bought her laptop over and went through her collection of digital photographs that she had taken on safari. Stephen was impressed with her detailed knowledge of the animals and places.

‘You should write it all down, Charlie, I’m sure it would find an audience.’

‘Me, write? as in writing something other than an email or a report? I can’t see it somehow.’

‘I read your emails, they were very descriptive, I think you’ve got a real talent there. It just needs polishing up a bit. While you were away, I joined the local writers group. They’re a strange lot, mainly elderly, but they do have some younger members stashed away in a cupboard somewhere. Why don’t you join too? maybe together we could blow away some of the cobwebs and get it functioning again. What do you say?’

‘Writing, hmm, I have to admit I’ve always fancied the idea. My old English teacher said I should be a journalist. It’s certainly worth thinking about. What do they do at this group?’

‘Not a lot as things stand, but they do have writing competitions every month and they have reading nights, so you can get an idea of what strangers think of your work. Family members and friends are always going to be polite about your writing, and while that’s encouraging, it’s not really going to help.’

Stephen put the last few pages of his novel on the table. Charlotte picked it up and read.

‘This is great,’ she said eventually, ‘where’s the rest of it?’

Stephen tapped his head.

‘In here, I’ve more or less got it all worked out.’

‘So, you wrote the ending first?’

‘Yes, I know, the writers group thought I was mad too. Or at least I think they did; I didn’t get any reaction from them at all when I read it.’

Charlotte pursed her lips and thought for a moment.

‘Thinking about it, it’s quite logical. You should know where you’re going to end up.’

‘That’s how I see it. Of course, when I write the preceding chapters the story might take a major diversion and it may end up in a totally different place, but I just thought I’d give it a go.’

‘If the writers club is so old and crumbly, is there any real point in me joining. They sound a mean old bunch.’

‘I was told they are just scared of change; they know things will have to be done differently if the group is going to survive, but they just can’t face up to that reality.’

‘So, what are you going to do, start a revolution?’

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The Westwich Writer’s Club

Chapter Five

The Wrong Side of the Tracks

Chapter Five

It took Stephen the rest of the afternoon to remove the various worms and Trojans that had infiltrated Mick’s computer defences. He ran five spyware scans a full virus sweep and rebooted the machine several times before he was confident that the machine was infection free.

At five thirty Carole popped her head round the door of the workshop.

‘I’m off now boss, I need to call in at the supermarket on the way home. See you tomorrow.’

‘Give me a minute, Carole,’ called Paul, ‘I’ll drop you off, I’m going that way.’

‘Night boss,’ they called together as they left the shop.

Stephen began the final tests on Mick’s PC.

‘No home to go to Mel?’

‘I’ve nothing on tonight, so I’m not in a hurry.’

Stephen heard her slide from her seat, a few seconds later he felt her breast press against his elbow. She slid a hand around his waist and stretched to look over his shoulder.

‘Anything I can do?’ she whispered.

Stephen straightened and edged away to the side.

‘No thanks, Mel, I’m almost done now. I just have to deliver the bloody thing.’

‘Need any company? I’ll come with you if you like.’

‘Thanks for the offer Mel, but I don’t’ want to put you to any trouble.’

Mel pushed her body against him, placed a hand on his hip and looked up into his face.

‘It’s no trouble.’

Stephen tried to back off again but found himself pressed tight up against the wall. He lifted his hands in a defensive posture, then thinking that she might get the wrong idea, stuck them in his pockets instead.

‘Mel… I’

‘Okay, boss, wrong time, wrong place, eh?’

‘Mel, there isn’t a r…’

Mel shushed him, stretched, and placed a soft kiss on his lips.’

‘Another time then. Goodnight.’

She turned away, picked up her bag and performed a catwalk wiggle across the workshop, Stephen’s eyes followed her every movement. When she reached the workshop door, she looked over her shoulder and blew a kiss.

‘See you tomorrow boss.’

Stephen wiped his brow with the back of his hand.

‘That was a close one,’ he said aloud.

At six-thirty he loaded the repaired computer into the boot of his BMW, locked up the shop and joined the tail end of the rush hour traffic. He pushed a Deep Purple CD into the player and turned up the volume. As he drove along the ring road, he began to think about a new plot twist for his novel. He decided it would take the story off at a tangent but it might make it stronger in the end.

As he drove through the council estate, he spotted a small convenience store and pulled up at the side of the road. Stephen followed a well-used path that had been worn into the grass bank and climbed the slight incline. The Mini Mart was the first in a small line of shops.

On the pavement outside, a group of hooded teenagers leaned against a wall talking in their own coded language. Stephen hurried into the store trying not to make eye contact.

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The Westwich Writer’s Club

Chapter Six

The ‘Orgy’

Chapter Six

At the end of Redvale Lane, Stephen pulled onto the grass verge, picked up Mick’s job sheet and entered the address details into his sat-nav.

‘After three hundred yards, turn left,’ he was advised.

A few minutes later he pulled up in front of a short row of terraced houses. Mick’s was right in the centre at number four. Stephen flipped the latch on the wrought iron gate and stepped up to the red painted front door. There was a choice of a bell push or a brass knocker. He chose the bell push, there was no reply, so he beat a rat-a-tat-tat with the door knocker.

A woman’s head popped out of the upstairs window at number three.

‘What are you after?’

‘I’m looking for Mr Morrison,’ said Stephen. ‘I’ve got a delivery for him.’

‘He’s not in.’

Stephen looked at his watch.

‘I suppose I am a bit late.’

‘It wouldn’t matter what time you turned up, he’s never in these days,’ advised the woman.

‘Any idea when he’ll be back?’

‘Could be any time, I’ve seen him sneak back in after midnight. Is it a parcel? I can take it in if you like. I’ll make sure he gets it.’

‘No, it’s not a parcel, I’m returning his computer. I need to set it up for him and show him a couple of new programs.’

‘Computers?’ she spat. ‘At his age?’

‘There’s no age limit on using them,’ said Stephen. ‘Most people have one these days.’

‘And we all know what people get up to on them too, that Intynet is full of sex.’

The woman looked up and down the street then came to a decision.

‘Hang on a minute, I’ll come down.’

Stephen moved to her front gate.

There was the sound of bolts being drawn and keys being turned. A few seconds later she stepped out of her doorway patting her steel grey hair into place. She bustled down the path towards him before coming to an abrupt halt just short of the gate.

‘Who did you say you were?’

‘I didn’t, but I’m Stephen King. I run a computer repair shop in town.’

‘You ought to be writing books with a name like that,’ she observed.

‘It has been mentioned,’ said Stephen.

‘Got any ID? You could be anyone.’

Stephen handed her a business card. She held it close to her face, then squinted at it from a distance.

‘Left my glasses on the coffee table,’ she confided. She put the card in the pocket of her cardigan. ‘I’ll read it later.’

‘Any idea where Mick will be?’

‘It’s Mick now is it? It was Mr Morrison a minute ago.’

‘I know him from the Westwich Writers Club, as well as being a customer, Mrs?’

‘Wilde, Mavis.’

‘Do you have a son called Oscar?’ Stephen joked.

‘Oscar’s my cat.’

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