Wednesday, 23 December 2020

The Last Chance Saloon

I've been attending a work-based writing and wellbeing course, during which we were recommended to look at the monthly compeition 'Furious Fiction'. 

500 words, in 55 hours, with certain required words, items etc in the story. I had an idea which I worked through in my head, by which time there was only time to write it down, sleep and redraft by the 1pm deadline.

My writing group and my writing course gave good feedback which was very encouraging. 

The Last Chance Saloon


The bell trilled.

Strained conversations withered gratefully.

‘Okay everyone, mark your cards and get ready for your final encounter. If you haven’t found love at first sight already then don’t despair, this could be the one.’

Jake rose from his chair, wiped his still sweaty palms on the back of his jeans, and headed to the final table.

‘Nice to meet you’ she called after him.

He turned back, remembering his manners, ‘Oh yes, thank, you too’ and gave a kind but not-interested smile. He’d spent ten minutes nodding politely at her self-absorption, and the flat autumn light hadn’t done her face any favours either.

‘Before we start on our final round, thank you again for your understanding and like I said you’ll all be refunded for this evening, just enjoy yourselves, our gift to you’.

Due to multiple cancellations (‘there must be a bug going around’) the organisers of today’s events had combined the two age groups to have any chance of filling the afternoon. There’d been a few jokes about toyboys and cougars but everyone had voted to carry on.


‘Good evening,’ said Jake’s last chance at a match.

‘Good evening to you madam.’

‘Janice Smith’, she said, holding out a hand.

‘Jake Smith’, he replied taking the hand gently and bowing slightly, ‘Coincidence ?’

‘Maybe we’re related ?’


The following pause was awkwardly long. But what to say ?

‘So . . . ‘

‘You seem rather young, inexperienced, for this ?’ said  Janice.

‘And you seem rather . . . charming, for this’, Jake replied, catching himself.

‘Well thank you, for not calling me old,’

‘You’re welcome,’

The tea light between them flickered.

‘So, given the limited time we have, can I ask you something personal ?’

‘You can ask’, said Jake, taking a sip.

‘How many sexual partners have you had ?’

Jake nearly choked on his virgin coke.

‘You know if I answer then I can ask the same question ?’

‘Oh yes, sorry best not to answer then. I didn’t think that one through, new to this. Shame I’ve been waiting to ask you that all evening, ever since they combined the groups.’

Jake mopped up a little spilt drink with a serviette.


‘So what should we talk about ?’

‘Oh our hopes, our dreams, ‘ Jake said with a mock flourish.

At a neighbouring table a couple were gushing over shared dog photos.

‘Be honest, really, do you think I’m too old for this ?

‘You’re fine, you’re lovely. You take care of yourself. You’ve still got it in you,’

‘Thank you, it’s nice to hear. You scrub up well yourself, ‘


The bell trilled again.

‘Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Please mark your cards and hand them in on the way out. We’ll let you know your matches tomorrow.

‘So Janice, back to mine for some 'Netflix and Chill' ?’

‘I’m not too old to know what that means, and that, is not, appropriate,’

‘Yeah, sorry Mum.’