Dialogue only short story competition - Runner Up

antony reid

Runner Up
Do Not Disturb
Dialogue only short story competition


Antony Reid writes multi-genre fiction and poetry from a curious spit of land between the Dee, the Mersey and the Irish Sea where he tries to keep company with the gold-hearted, silver-tongued and quicksilver-minded. Must be near water at all times. INFJ. Longest-haired human in UK. Terrible dancer. Interests include boxing, blues, surrealism, psychology, bookbinding, music production, chutney and Gothic literature. He published his debut novella A Smaller Hell as an e-book a few years ago. Completed-but-unpublished novels include Grey Noise, The Horseman's Dream and Knights of Snowdonia. He has also completed a feature screenplay Diary of a Caveman (with soundtrack) and TV pilot The Ghost Walks Tonight and is seeking the right representation/publishing deal for all.

Do Not Disturb By antony reid

Come back later
I’d like to come in now
It’s not convenient
It’s already four o’clock sir
I’m naked
It’s ok
I have a terrible headache please leave me alone
Checkout was at noon
The room is a mess
That’s why I have to come in
Please don’t
The manager will call the police
Just tell him I let you in
I can’t lie to the manager
Fine come in but don’t turn on the light
Are you alright
Do you need a doctor
You want me to close the window
It’s freezing in here
Let me lie here another few hours
The room is booked
I’ll pay for another night
The manager
What’s your name
Nice to meet you
You know why I came here, Beth
I came here for the big check out
Couldn’t go through with it
I’m glad
You don’t even know me
About not having to clean up the mess
Ah pills how responsible of you
Didn’t want to put anyone out
Guns are the worst
Selfish bastards
Holes in the walls blood everywhere
I’ll bet
We still get the odd Roman senator
Razor in the tub
How many have you
Never get in a hotel bath stained pink
You want a cigar
It’s a no smoking room
We’ll leave the window open
You need a cup of tea
No let me make you one
I really have to get on with the cleaning
Five minutes cup of tea and a smoke
I told you no smoking
We’ll take our tea on the balcony and smoke out there
If anyone sees me I will lose my job
Five minutes
And you’ll let me work
You’ll check out
You’ll be cold out there in just a robe
At least it’s stopped snowing
Long way down from this floor
You know
You wouldn’t have to clean up my mess
If I jumped from the balcony
I meant check out at reception
I didn’t
You think that’s the way to go
Don’t you
If you’re that way inclined
Don’t see any other way
What if you land on someone
God you’re right let me make you that tea
How do you
One sugar no milk
I wouldn’t have guessed you were one of them
I don’t like mucus
That’s disgusting
Didn’t you know
I think I’ll have mine black too
It’s just right thank you
Lets take them on the balcony I need that smoke
Its cold out here lets go back inside
Two minutes
Not much of a view is it
Depends how much you like retail parks and tower blocks
And roundabouts
Everything goes round in circles in this town
Or straight down
You’re making me uncomfortable stop leaning over the edge
I’m not laughing what makes you think I’d enjoy seeing a man fall to his death
I’m not that sad about the one-way system are you
What is it then why are you doing this
Wife left you
Never married
Lost your job
What then
This isn’t my home I don’t belong here
That’s why I’ve been trying to kick you out for the last hour
You’re funny
I know I’m wasted in housekeeping
Seriously I don’t belong here
Where do you belong
I don’t know
Spread all over the pavement like butter
No I mean I don’t know the name of the place
Pink limp and red all over in the bathtub no use to anyone
Why are you angry with me
I’m not angry with you I’m angry with the world
I’m not angry at all I just don’t want to be here anymore
Right you want to go back to your home planet
I think I’ve always been mad this is how it was always going to end
Something must have done it what was the straw
That broke the camel’s back made you think an OD in a hotel room was your only way to move forward
Not forward
What then
I told you
Remind me
That’s what makes me angry
That someone made you feel like you don’t belong here or don’t deserve a home
Everyone deserves a home
Please don’t
Don’t what
Be kind to me
Tell me about your home
I go there in my dreams every night have done since I was five years old
What’s it like there
Ha it’s beautiful you’ve never seen anything like it not in this world
Is it just you or are there others there
There are others
What do they look like
Like little green men in a flying saucer
Yeah nah it’s not what you think
It’s not another planet or anything
What then
Another dimension
Ok so tell me what its like do they have a cafeteria in this place because I am starving
I’ve got sandwiches in the fridge bought them fresh this morning from the shop on the corner
It’s ok I was just kidding
No really they’re good smoked cheddar and apple chutney
That does sound good
I’ll go back in and get em
Bring a coat
And leave that cigar with me no smoking remember
You look good with that cigar here’s your sandwich
You’re an interesting guy
I’m a suicide case
I’d go on a date with you
Even though I’m crazy
Even though you’re crazy this sandwich is really good where did you
Guy on the corner
This corner
Nah the other side red sign and the guy’s got a funny eye
I know the place it’s a glass eye by the way
Imagine finding that in your BLT
Sorry didn’t mean to make you choke have some tea
Urrrgh don’t you think everything might seem better after a decent sleep
It’s not like that
I know I don’t know what else to say
Everyone’s so kind back home
Like you
You’d fit right in
I’m not going hand in hand with you over that balcony so forget it
Sorry I didn’t mean it like that
You scared me
Please I didn’t mean it like that
Tell me more about home
There’s no oil or gas
How do they drive
No blood seeping through the cracks in the pavement
Or cook
No wars no need for booze
Even wine
Or pills
No need to escape no greed or fear
All that could be waiting for you at the end of a long and happy life
Not for me
If you let it happen
I won’t ever be happy
You haven’t tried my sashimi
I hate sushi
I’ll buy you a sandwich from the glass eye guy
Smoked cheddar and chutney
Got a bottle of rioja in my kitchen
How can someone so uh well-proportioned be so obsessed with food
I told you I’m hungry
You just want to get rid of me so you can clean
I don’t blame you let me get out of your way
Get down from there you idiot I want you to come to dinner with me
We can sit by the fire and listen to records
You have a record player
And a vinyl collection that will make your eyes water
You got Hendrix
Everything he ever recorded
Even a few white labels
And one acetate
How did you
Trust me
I want to
It’s safe
I can’t
We could find a home in this world
We could
You’re not the only one who dreams of a home
No no this is a specific place
Yeah mine too
You couldn’t love me someone like you needs
How do you know what I need maybe that’s your problem
You think you know everything
I don’t know anything anymore
You just think you don’t because it makes things easier
You’re scared of your own potential
Stop looking at me like that
No-one’s ever looked at me like that
Maybe because you’ve never been honest with any of them
I have
Ever told anyone else about your home
There you go
They’d have thought I was crazy
We’re all crazy trust me it’s a wide spectrum
You don’t fool me I know what you’re doing
I just want dinner with you
Are you one of them have you come to take me home
I knew it
Get dressed come with me
Can’t we just stay here a while longer
Take my hand
I wish I’d met you ten years ago
You’re a real charmer
We could have been sat in a sunny piazza
Give me some of that cigar
With rusty espresso and cold lemon
We still could
Have you ever been in love
Have you
I don’t know
I don’t either
I know you’re not a maid
I know you know
Is that a taser
Uh huh
You were good
You won’t use that
Get down from there and I won’t have to
I’ll be checking out now, Beth
Don’t do it
Thanks for the talk




Judges Comments

Antony Reid delivers a surreal, dark, gentle story in Do Not Disturb, the runner up in our Dialogue-only Short Story Competition. In unpunctuated prose, it impressionistically conveys the unlikely but touching conversation, and connection, between a would-be suicide and the person whose job it is to clean the room they've occupied for the purpose of 'checking out'.

It's written in a fractured, elliptical style that suits the writer's offbeat take on a story themed around such an emotive issue as suicide. Antony's chosen stylistic technique of unpunctuated prose adds to the impressionistic atmosphere of a story told in filmic snippets of dialogue. The reader is presented with a story told in telling fragments of speech that shift between matter-of fact realism and an imaginative, poetic quality that adds an otherworldly slant to Antony's writing.

It's a story that acknowledges, and in its downbeat delivery conveys, the pervasive nature of sadness and resignation. That's not to say it's not interspersed with moments of humour and lightness. Do Not Disturb is a sad and even shocking story but it is far from nihilistic or one-note; what gives it pathos and makes it so effective is the way the dialogue between the two characters involves a wide spectrum of human response: humour, connection, observation, insight – all of which feel 'real', and none of which are enough to tempt the suicidal character to stay. In this compassionate, empathetic story, Antony allows the reader to understand his creations, their motivations and the lovely, fragile nature of the connection they shared.