Category Archives: Guest Contributors

A piece of guest whimsy

We haven’t had a guest writer for a while… following on from my piece on strange neighbours, I give you some very strange neighbours indeed.

If you write and would like to share your work here at rubiesandduels, please get in touch.

Enjoy this story..I did.


Bunty was not particularly liked at work. He didn’t particularly

like them. They continued to call him Bunty, a nickname he

acquired in his early days with Turgid, Turgid and Whitehead. It was

his ex-wife’s pet name for him and she was overheard calling him

Bunty, during an office party where spouses were invited. The name

stuck. Everyone from the boss down called him Bunty; dammit he

even thought of himself as Bunty. That is until he met Brenda from

accounts. She always calls him William and sixteen weeks ago she

became Mrs William Milkins. They moved into their new home

together two months ago, having sold their respective properties for

an excellent price, allowing them to move into leafy Hollingbrooke

Avenue. It had four bedrooms and a huge garden.

“Come on then Bunty, when’s the house-warming party?” said Bill

Pratley, enjoying watching William dither for a response.

“Yes not had my invite yet either.” Said Veronica Tate. “Brenda

says you’ve had a lot of work done on the house.” Egging on Tom

Banks, over by the photocopier to join in.

“Perhaps we’re not good enough, now you’ve up Hollingbrooke

Avenue, so come on Bunty you know you love us really.” Said

Banks a broad grin creasing his mean face.

William adjusted his tie, removed his spectacles, cleared his

throat and shocked them all.

“Well yes, we’ve made a few alterations, how does next week

sound, say Saturday, 8 o’clock suit you.

“What really, right oh Bunty; I’ll bring some champers.

“Just you three mind and your partners of course. Don’t tell

anyone else.”

“Scout’s honour” said Bill Pratley – I’ll bring someone, not saying

it’ll be the wife mind you.” He laughed winking at Tom Banks.

“Well I’m looking forward to it.” said Veronica Tate. “I’ve spoken

to Brenda about soft furnishings and Kitchen fittings, I bet she’s

taken my advice about that Bosch dishwasher and those beautiful

Sofas from John Lewis and exquisite bed linen. We’ll need the grand

tour when we arrive on Saturday Bunty.”

And indeed Veronica was first to arrive that Saturday night, while

her husband parked the car she rang the doorbell. William opened

the door and Veronica gasped at what she saw. William was naked

except for a lion-cloth and a scabbard at his side.

“Welcome” he said just as her husband caught up. William

opened the door wide, and they both gasped. The house was

completely gutted. No walls, no ceilings, no beautiful John Lewis

soft furnishings, no Bosch dishwasher, just three gigantic tree

trunks, stripped of foliage their twisting branches reaching up to the

rafters and stretching into every corner of the house.

At the very top of the centre trunk was Brenda, also naked apart

from the skin of an antelope wrapped around her. She swung down

to them on one of the many hanging vines.

“Hello Veronica, and this must be your husband, Jerry.”

“Err yes, hello Bbbrenda.”

“She’s not called Brenda here at home, she Jane, me Tarzan”

said William, hands on hips, legs slightly parted, his large hairy gut

hanging over the top of his loin-cloth, Brenda simpering at his side,

toying with the handle of William’s scabbard.

It was then when the other two couples arrived, who also stood

slack-jawed as they slowly walked into the house.

“Bunty, what the hell…”said Bill.

“Not Bunty, not Brenda, Me Tarzan, she Jane. “Drinks?” he said.

“Yeah, OK.” Said Tom at the back of the group, staring all around

him, what you got?”

“Dandelion and Burdock.” And with that thrust a hollowed out half

a coconut shell into their hands as Brenda skipped around with the

bottle of D and B pouring.

“No expense spared hey Bunty, I mean Tarzan.” said Bill.

“Can you show me the little girl’s room?” asked Veronica.

William handed her a spade.

“Out there” he said opening the French windows. “I’ve fed the

lions so you should be alright.” Just then a young Gazelle cantered

up to the house. “Oh it’s Valerie.” Said Brenda.

“Jane, I’ve told you before stop giving the animals names.”

“Yes, but don’t you think she looks like a Valerie Tarzan?”

“These are wild animals, calling the boa-constrictor Barry was bad

enough, now you’ve given our Sunday lunch a name.”

Veronica interrupted Tarzan and Jane’s first argument.

“A spade, bloody lions…”

“Oh yes” said William. “Don’t worry the Maasi hunt most of


“The bloody who?”

“The Maasi warriors, a beautiful people, that’s their drums you

can hear now. Did you know in drought conditions, they drink the

blood of their cattle, cutting it’s throat in a certain way that the

beast survives – a proud and noble race.

“In your back garden you have, lions, bloody deer”

“Technically it’s not a deer it’s an antelope….”

“I don’t care actually, and a bloody tribe of savages…”

“Just use the spade woman, do you want a spear for protection?”

He tossed her a spear, closed the French windows and went back to

the others. The lions continued to roar, they were not far away.

When Veronica hadn’t returned after an hour, the other guests

began to get nervous, particularly Veronica’s husband…”

“Look Tarzan, whatever you are bloody called where’s my wife?’

“Well we could organize a search party.,” said William.

“I’m not bloody going out there,” said Tom and Bill chiming in

“Yeah, she’s your wife.”

“Some work colleagues you are, where’s your guts?”

“Here inside, not spread over the bloody Serengeti out there.

“We are all going out to search,” said William, “we have to. About

this time of night the vampire bats fly in here to roost, the safest

place is in the bush, follow me.” They all trooped out into the

garden. They found Veronica’s bloody corpse just a few feet from a

partially dug hole, half of her eaten. Jungle noises echoed around

them and then a rush of bat wings as hundreds of vampire bats

flew towards the house. In the undergrowth Tarzan and Jane

managed to loose the others. The Maasi drums continued to

beat and Jane slowly crept up to Tarzan and whispered.

“This will do for the Lions feed this week, who can we invite next


“Your quite friendly with that hairdresser and his wife aren’t you?”

replied Tarzan.


The Get away driver – mark 2

As i mentioned in my version of the longish short story about Serge ” the blur” D’erbeville, he isn’t really my character at all, but was the creation of a friend and fellow writer, so, just for fun here is his own version of the get away driver story.


“Chris is hit…”

“Fucking cops man…”

“Where’d they come from…”?

Val Kilmer puts the metal to the floor; the car tears off, DeNiro

looks wired and Pacino is doing his eye-rolling thing. Timothy does

his own sound effects…

“Brrrrruummmm, screeeech grrrruugghh”

“Timothy, breakfast’s ready” his mother shouts from the kitchen.

“I’ve told you it’s Serge, not Timothy, Serge!” he shouts back

downstairs, can his mother not remember one simple thing?

He’d been thinking of the name-changing thing for months now.

It was no passing fancy. He spoke it out loud to himself; practised

his new signature; Serge D’Urberville – next he thought he needed

a nickname, what the cops would call his A K A. The Blur, yeah

that was perfect, Serge ‘the blur’ D’Urberville.

At 42 years of age, some would say it was late in the day to find

your calling, but hey getaway drivers come in all shapes and sizes

and ages, look at James Caan in the Driver, and someone whose

name he can’t remember in The Mechanic, a term used by the

criminal fraternity for a getaway driver. They both looked ancient.

Obviously not being able to drive was slightly problematic. He

tosses another jelly baby into his mouth and goes down to eat.

Back in his bedroom, Serge had rigged up an old car seat,

purloined from a partly burned out Vauxhall Vectra at the bottom of

his road. He thought about getting one of those beaded backrest

things for extra comfort, but thought he might lose his edge if he

got too comfortable. Suspended from the ceiling was a rear-view

mirror, which he was checking now. Robert DeNiro and Val Kilmer

were in the bank now, robbing the place blind. He kept the engine


“Brumm, brumm, brummm” he said.

Robert DeNiro and Val Kilmer come charging out the bank.

“Hit it Serge,” says DeNiro. Serge likes DeNiro, he’s not the kind of

guy who forgets your new name after five minutes.

Serge grips his steering wheel, it’s one of those toy ones with a

suction sticker on the end, it is red and had a hooter it’s attached

to his wardrobe. He wrestles with the wheel as they take a corner at

over 60 miles an hour. The cops won’t be far behind, but they’ll

never catch the Blur. In his rear view mirror he watches Kilmer

eating some of Serge’s jelly babies, biting the head off first – what

a guy. Serge promises himself he’ll start eating them like that from

now on, instead of from their little ankles upwards.

“Timothy I’m off to Waitrose, fish-fingers alright for tea tonight?”

“I keep telling you it’s Serge…”

‘Is that nice Mr DeNiro still with you…’?

“He’s not nice, he’s a career criminal, we’ve just robbed a bank,

we’ve got the cops right behind us and you want to know If I want

fishfingers for tea.

“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” says Val Kilmer. Serge sniggers at

the comment, and shouts down to his mum, “Yeah, like he says,

we’ve got bigger fish to fry.”

“Well I think you are both very rude, it’s not big and it’s not

clever. Do you think Mr. DeNiro would a chocolate fondue, I could

bring one back with me.

“He says yes, could you make it three, Val and I would like one


“Yes I thought you would, oh and Timothy there ‘s a clean

handkerchief down here for you.”

As the front door closes, Serge falls back on his bed. Tears well in

his eyes. How can he look DeNro and Val in the face again?

Getaway drivers don’t have clean handkerchiefs, eat fish fingers.

They’ll never ask me on another job again. Do all getaway drivers

have days like this he ponders. He paps the horn on the toy

steering wheel and goes down to get the plates out for the

chocolate fondues and puts the kettle on. Mum likes her cup of tea

after her shopping trips and decides Timothy is not that bad a name

after all. Or what about Olaf, Olaf Klondike?”


A guest piece from our regular contributor – SW – enjoy

It started in the early days of the Great War, young men would

give their sweethearts, wives or their small children a tiny, tiny

kitten; they were perpetual kittens. In tearful farewells up and

down England, men would take the tiny kittens from out of a small

bag or from under a coat and pass over the tiny kitten to shaking

hands and tear-stained faces. They became known back then as

Auf Wiedersehen pets.


Len Smith lay with his face down in the mud, clouds of lethal

Mustard Gas crept over his body, bullets slapped into mud around

him. And as his life slowly ended he saw coming towards him the

Auf Wiedersehen pet he had given his daughter. The tiny kitten

crept into his almost lifeless hand and it held the smell of his

daughter in its fur that he greedily sucked in. Men from all over

the Western Front reported they had seen these kittens crawling

along towards their fallen comrades. German snipers blinked in

amazement pressing their eyes into their sights in disbelief.

Hundreds and hundreds of kittens, but not a single one was found

later on. Back home the Auf Wiedersehen pets slowly began to die.

No one ever knew why.


Another bit of surrealist whimsy from our stalwart guest contributor.

“Oh the Deadwood Stage is a rollin’ on over the plains

with the curtains flappin’ and the driver slappin’ the reins

A beautiful sky, a wonderful day – Whip crack away, whip crack

away, whip crack away.’”

Phil Meeker, had had enough; his neighbour Bob Hardrake, had

been playing that song all night and now he was going to give him a

piece of this mind, right on his stupid nose. Putting on his dressing

gown and roughly tying the cord and slippers firmly in place he

strode round to his neighbours front door and hammered it hard

with his clenched fist.

The hall light came on and the door was answered by a very

small person.

“Yes, can I help you?”

“Who are you, where’s Bob?”

“He’s moved.”

“What do you mean moved, he’s still got my hedge strimmer.”

There was a shout from the living room, “Who is it Hank?”

“Some bloke, after someone called Rob.”

“Bob”, corrected Phil.

“Bob.” Shouted the person called Hank.

“What’s going on here?” said Phil pushing past the little person

and entering the through lounge. “And who are you lot? And where

did you get those small horses from? And that cardboard cactus?”

“Props department, where else?”

“And that little stagecoach?”

“Props department” repeated the little person in a loud check

jacket and megaphone in one hand and a Doris Day record in the


“ The polystyrene rocks? Don’t tell me, Props department.”

“He catches on quick, don’t he?” Said Hank from behind him.

“And where is this props department? I’ve been in this house

dozens of times, there’s no props around here.”

“In your imagination is where it is.” said the small person in the

loud check jacket. Just then a miniature version of his dad walked

into the room.

“Dad, what you doing here, and so small…?”

“Hello son, performing Ibsen’s Peer Gynt actually in the

bathroom. Course it’s my own interpretation. Anyway I can see

your busy, I’ll catch you later Boss, bye son.”

Scratching his head he looked over at the dining table.

Underneath it were half a dozen small people on typewriters

hammering away at the keys.

“Who are they?” said Phil.

Script department,” said the man his Dad called Boss, “ didn’t

think your dreams just happened did you? We’ve got a nightmare

coming up soon, it’s in pre-production at the moment.”
“You mean you supply all my dreams, create all my dreams… even

the errr…

‘Yes Phil”, said a smokey voice behind him. As he turned he saw a

minature version of Gloria Honeyford in fish net tights, a cigarette

holder in her right hand. She began to sing…

“Falling in love again, I can’t elp eet.”

“Yes thank you Gloria, you’re not needed till next week” said the

Boss, replacing his monocle for the umpteenth time, as Gloria

Honeyford tottered away on six-inch stilettos out of the room.

“Right” said Phil, “so do you do requests, because I was


“Don’t mention that word” said the Boss, “you’ll have the union

on us like a ton of bricks.”

“I heard that brother Boss, what’s this about requests.” Said a

miniature Arthur Scargill, glaring up at Phil. “Our members of the

Slumber and Limited Enjoyment and Enchanting Places, SLEEP for

short are artists, not here for enjoyment – I tell you brother Phil,

start talking about requests again and strike action will be our only

alternative and then you will have no dreams at all.

“All right no more requests – but is this a dream?”

“No of course not” said Boss. You are not supposed to be here.”

“But where’s Bob?”

“Bob, Bob, there is no Bob. He is an autonoman. Every other

house in this street and in every street, live the Headmen. Normal

house, Headman house, Normal House, Headman house, so we give

you all dreams to stop you going mad. In each house we control we

install a robot neighbour if you like…”

“What about Dotty across the road?”

“No, she’s real”

“And young Emily and her cat..?”

“Yeah, both robots I’m afraid. That cat is one of our best devices,

with the technology today, nothing is really impossible.

‘The two Goths at 47?”

“Completely real, I know, hard to believe.”

“Well I’d best get home then.” said Phil.

“And Phil, not a word to anyone. Remember we control your

dreams, we could make life very difficult for you should you blab.”

“Who’d believe me…?”

“Exactly.” Said Boss



Our regular guest contributor has yet again stepped into the breech whilst rubiesandduels is busy nursing an injured horse.
Thank you Stephen W for this take on personal identity.

“Nurse, I don’t seem to have the next patient’s notes.”

“Yes doctor I know, sorry I meant to tell you, there has been

some major mix-up in the records department, they say it’s a

computer glitch of some kind…”

“This is intolerable. We are a Gender Selection department, the

sensitive nature of our work means accurate records are

paramount. Sorry, I know it’s not your fault Nurse Simms – send

the next person in, if you would be so kind.”

Nurse Simm ushered in a nervous looking man.

“Good morning, I’m Doctor Hardy and you are errr…”

“Jonny, Jonny Breeze.”

“Well Mr Breeze, you don’t mind if I call you Mr. Breeze, only

some of our, err patients, sometimes prefer another name…”

“Like what, what’s wrong with my name.”

“Oh nothing, nothing at all. I take it you have thought long and

hard about the drugs you will take this afternoon and you are

sure in your own mind.”

“Yes, I’ve known since around the age of 4, that I was in the

wrong body. I was watching the Telly one day and I realized that’s

how I want to be and look.”

“That’s quite unusual Mr. Breeze. You were only four years of age,

when you decided you wanted the body of a woman and all that

that entails.”

“The body of a what?” Exclaimed Jonny. “No, no. Giraffe.”

“Giraffe. You want the body of a Giraffe.”

“Look don’t you start, I have enough of this at home, what with

the neighbours…”

“Neighbours?” queried Doctor Hardy.

“Next door reckons it’ll knock thousands off the value of his

property. We can do what we like with our own home. When he

saw we’d replaced our front door with brand new 18 ft double doors

in preparation like, for my err change, he did his nut. We’ve had all

the ceilings raised obviously…”

“Obviously,” echoed Doctor Hardy.

“Mum and Dad are OK with it now. Continued Jonny,” Mum

reckons she always new. Dad took it hard. He had my name down

for the darts team down at the Rat and Handbag…”

‘Rat and Handbag?” said the Doctor Hardy.

“Yes, it’s our local. I’ve nothing against darts, apart from the

hypodermic type of course, may have to get used to those.

“What about your local community, do you think you’ll fit in, in?

err. Where is it you live Mr. Breeze?”

“Ibstock” replied Jonny.

“How do you think they will take to a giraffe in Ibstock? And in

the work place?”

“Well obviously I’ll have to leave The Department of Work and

Pensions. I’m lining something up at a Garden Centre in Blaby.”

“And what about socially, what will you do for friends and


“Well there are clubs that cater for us, as I’m sure you are aware

Doctor. Likeminded persons gathering in convivial and genial

company. Attenborough’s is our favourite”

“What, there are others out there with similar aspirations?”

“Course, at Attenborough’s we have people who want to be

Wildebeest, zebras and a couple with their heart set on being

a mating pair of Thompson Gazelle’s.

“Was it the neck?” asked Doctor Hardy. You know that first

attracted you to the giraffe? Or is it its little tuffty horns and long

slender legs?”

“No, none of them. It’s the eyes. Have you ever seen a pair of

giraffe eyes? Not just looked at, but seen. Black as night with lashes

to die for.”

“Well, yes I do know what you mean… where exactly is this


Ruithin – spring ?

rubies and duels would like to welcome our newest guest contributor – Maureen McDermott.
Maureen lives, writes and swims in the welsh market town of Ruithin and this piece is sadly horribly seasonal.

It’s a gloomy, dreary Saturday

The night before the last
Trees, fields, nascent flowers
Stricken with an unwelcome
Snow fall.

Where yesterday , there had been a hope of
Instead, an icy, wind – driven rain
That with cruel sleight of hand
Beneath a smooth, pristine , unpainted
The longed for days Spring’s sun warmth would

Roofs , Trees, Fields turned to
My road from home into town now
Trace of foot steps tracks
Retraced foot step tracks
Recorded proof until the
Of my morning’s journey all

Foot steps soft thread
The muffled burr of some car’s
Crunching the ground’s stainless
So softly, so noiselessly , inconsiderately
Throughout the night, while I
Of all happenings in the dark outside
Unaware, fast asleep in



With huge thanks to a regular guest contributor, stepping into the breach as RubiesandDuels succumbs to the winter lurgie – over to you Mr W……

Brian could only just hear the doorbell above Plan B’s Love Goes

Down as it’s decibels threatened the cheap double glazing’s one

year guarantee. The fancy dress party was in full swing; the only

problem was his Hitler moustache kept coming unstuck.

He reached the door after elbowing past Groucho Marx, Marilyn

Monroe and Lady Gaga. Four guys stood before him.

“Hi” he said, “I’m Brian.”

“Pleased to meet you Bri’ I’m Pestilence, and these are my

associates Death, Famine and War. OK if we leave our horses tied

to your gate-post?” Brian could only stare at their magnificent

costumes as he slowly nodded his consent. Famine pushed by him,

“Any nibbles, I’m starving, where’s the kitchen.”

“You’ll have to excuse our friend, you’ll always find him in the

kitchen at parties,” said Pestilence with a wink.

“I don’t recognise you, are you friends of Ritchie and Ben? Is

your friend… Death OK, he looks a bit peaky?”

“He’ll be right as ninepence after a Bailey’s and blackcurrant. Can

you point me in the direction of the little boys room?” asked


Meanwhile War was dancing with Cleopatra, his shield and sword

were proving a bit of a hindrance.

“Have I seen you before?” enquired Cleopatra, “You’re on the

checkout at Sainsbury’s aren’t you, you look different in your fancy
dress; is that a real beard.” She said giving it a playful tug.

Famine, meanwhile, was working himself through a selection of

M&S dips in the kitchen, much to the annoyance of Hercules Poirot,

who insisted on talking in a twisted Belgian accent to anyone who’d

listen. Einstein and James Bond studiously ignored him.

Death on the other hand was getting bored; he thought it about

time the world ended and wasn’t best pleased Famine had finished

off all the Pringles. It was then that the doorbell sounded again and

Brian opened the door to two large police officers.

“Do those four horses belong to you sir, they are fouling the

pavement and obstructing the right of way?”

“No, they belong to The four Horseman of the Apocalypse officer.”

“Really, well, do you mind if we have a word with them?” and

the two policemen brushed past him into the living room.

Pestilence, Famine, Death and War sat in a row on the large Ikea

couch playing charades with Cleopatra.

‘Excuse me love”, the larger of the two officers said to Cleopatra,

and stood in front of the Four Horsemen.

“They your animals tied up out there?”

“Yes” said Pestilence.

“Can I take a few details sir, what’s your name and address?

“My name is Pestilence, and these are my associates, Famine,

Death and War and we are from the land of Judah.”

“Can I ask what you lot do you do for a living?”
“We are The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

“Course you are, The Four Horsemen, right, end of days and all

that cobblers. Go on then, end mine, I dare you.”

Brian could see his party turning into a disaster and said

“Jammy Dodger anyone?”

“Button it Adolph,” said the large officer.

“Pestilence here is going end my days, aren’t you son.”

“No, don’t feel like it” said Pestilence.

“I insist,” said the officer. Pestilence, turned to his associates,

they all stood and raised their arms, and there was a violent

flashing of lights a sound so loud it seemed to split time itself and

then nothing but total silence, there was no more house, no more

police officers, no more party. The Four Horseman stood and

watched as Brian’s Hitler moustache slowly drifted to earth, minus

Brian of course.