No one should have to stand at Humberside Airport's arrivals gate, name board in hand, waiting for Mr Van Der Kerkhof to arrive. Not at five in the morning. Groups of youngsters barge past me, shouting to each other at the top of their voices, excited. I can spot the cheap package holiday crews a mile off.
I don't understand it. If you work for months in an office or factory, why not enjoy your time away a bit more wisely?
My brother tells me everyone's entitled to a break. An escape. Maybe he's right. He's all the family I've got left.
The television screen tells me the Amsterdam flight has arrived on time. I get ready, hold the board up. A constant stream of travellers emerge. The same mix I see every month.
Regional airports aren't big on unpredictability. Returning holidaymakers, sporting the effects of too much sun and cheap alcohol drag bags of duty free behind them. Bored looking businessmen hurry towards the exit. They all check their mobiles as they go. The airport never sleeps.
People think I'm stupid, a joke, and when I'm stood here like this, I sometimes think they might have a point. They call me names because they think I'm different to them. I don't go out drinking with them. I don't go to the rugby with them. They don't know me, but they've made their minds about me. I'm an easy target - a kind of nowhere man. All I am to them is an odd job man at a fish auction in a city I've never left. A joke.
I see Mr Van Der Kerkhof walking towards me. Early sixties, not a hair on his head, Healthy looking. Tanned, like he's just been on a nice holiday. He's smiling. I continue to hold my board out. It's one of his rules.
'Morning' I say to him. I'm allowed to lower the board now he's stood with me.
'Good morning' he says. 'Another month has gone. Time flies.'
I nod, thinking it's not passing quickly enough for my liking. 'How was your flight?'
'It was very satisfactory.'
'That's good' I say. We work our way through the same pleasantries as last time.
'How is the market this morning?'
'Plenty of haddock and halibut expected in' I tell him, as we start to walk towards the airport's car-park. 'Maybe some frozen stock, too.'
He shakes his head. 'That will not do.' He smiles. 'Let me see what else they have.'
The boss lends me his car for this job. It's meant to impress. I take Mr Van Der Kerkhof's overnight bag from him, place it in the boot. His briefcase stays with him.
Mr Van Der Kerkhof is well known at the fish auction. He flies in from Amsterdam once a month, his briefcase full of money. Like clockwork. Everyone knows when he's due. It seems stupid. The fish auction is computerised these days and you can bid from the comfort of your own desk, but Mr Van Der Kerkhof likes to see what he's buying. It all seems a bit over the top to me, but his family have been doing it for years. He probably likes the sort of celebrity status that it gives him about the place.
I open the door and he gets into the back of the car. The whole point of me collecting him from the airport is to act as his chauffeur. It's what we do. I pull out of the airport car park, head towards Hull. It's a quick drive back to the motorway, then over The Humber Bridge and into the city's docks. Plenty of time yet before the day starts properly.
I see a blue car closing in on us in my rear-view mirror. Its headlights flash repeatedly as it gets closer. There's no one else on the road. I glance at Mr Van Der Kerkhof in the back. He's seen it, too. He's as on edge as I am.
The blue car overtakes me, cutting back across my path, forcing me to swerve sharply into a lay by. The blue car slams on its breaks, comes to a stop. I have to do the same. I breathe deeply. Everyone knows he's got the money on him. It's not a secret. Nothing happens for a few seconds. A man gets out of the blue car, cap pulled down over his face. I feel sick, swallow the bile in my mouth down. Focus. This is happening for real.
He pulls open the door next to Mr Van Der Kerkhof, leans into the car. Holds his hand out. 'Briefcase' he says.
Nobody speaks for a moment. I take charge. 'Just give it to him' I say.
The man takes it. 'Combination?'
Mr Van Der Kerkhof reads the numbers out. The man puts it on the roof of the car. I hear the briefcase pops open.
The man's hand is out again. 'Mobiles.'
We both pass them over. The man produces a knife, punctures both of the front tyres. Mr Van Der Kerkhof sits still, his eyes closed, shaking. I close my eyes for a second, too.
I've given the fish auction thirty years, man and boy; bring the boxes in, sweep up the shit, pick up Mr Van Der Kerkhof from the airport. It never ends and it's come down to this.
The man puts the knife back in his pocket, readies to leave. I swallow again, my breathing returning to something like normal. I know I won't have to collect Mr Van Der Kerkhof from the airport ever again.
Everyone's entitled to a break, I think. An escape. The man starts to walk back to the blue car. He winks at me. I wink back. My brother.
It's dark in here. That's because I live at the bottom of the jewellery box along with the other outcasts: the tangled necklace with the broken lobster claw and teddy pendant she got for her eleventh birthday, along with the bracelet that's missing a couple of gem stones.
She always says she will have them repaired but never does, preferring to spend the money on more fashionable pieces instead that imitate Asian and Oriental designs.
Fiction - Deep Waters by Gary Clark
The English are not a nation comfortable with the heat. An August afternoon in the city with the sun baking the pavements, overheating not just the diesel engines on the buses as they thundered by in a cloud of dirty fumes and dust, but the irritable people with fried tempers. Blaring car horns, sweaty armpits, uncomfortable in the heat. Manners and courtesy boiled away. Midsummer madness.
Fiction - 'Olde' Hull By Christopher Skolik
Martin sat on the wall, low, it was covered in graffiti; a matrix of over written names and messages to some dead junky, written over and over. Felt as though the sentiments were actually holding the place together, the place made up of the memories of those who knew Matt Kirk. Martin didn't. But he still felt the depths of this place.
Was there still enough of Old Hull left to lead Martin back into a better past?
Fiction - A Clever Use of Bins By Frankie Lassut
An uplifting, 'ultimate' romance fantasy.
Colin was the world's most romantic man, it was official.
Well, ok. His wife, Jean, had written into the local radio station, Hull Online, and told the presenter guy what he did for her i.e. washing up, ironing, rubbed her feet, was always telling her how lovely she looked (especially each time she bought a new dress), took her out for meals regularly etc.
She had won hands down.
Fiction - A Nice, Romantic Man By Frankie Lassut
Men! All the same! But, all I want is a nice one! All he has to do is be interested in me, and throw rose petals in my scented bath (which he ran) just like in American Beauty! Not much to ask is it? I deserve it.
She walked in the countryside with him, hand in hand; there was plenty of energy in the new romance.
Love was in the air! Wildlife could sense this. Birds sang, grasshoppers rasped, and butterflies just did what they do.
They came across a copse.
Fiction - All The Fun Of The Fair By Nick Quantrill Photographs by Darren Rogers
Jimmy held his hand out to the old man lying in a bed of wet cardboard boxes. 'Help you up, there?'
The old man took the hand. 'Good on you, son.'
Jimmy took the strain and pulled. 'No problem. You might want to get your face looked at, though.'
The old man took a tissue out of his pocket and wiped the blood from his nose. 'Don't worry about me, I'll be fine.' He laughed and wiped his hands on his trousers. 'So who are you, then?'
'New around here?'
Fiction - Side Orders - A Joe Geraghty Story By Nick Quantrill
'Ahmet's paranoid, man.'
I turned to Darren and shrugged. Ignoring him, I continued looking out of the car window and into the Hull night, the city flashing by. 'You've been robbed twice this week' I said. It had just turned midnight. People were staggering home, the streets slowly emptying, but plenty of drunks still wanted their fix of fast food.
'Bad luck, Joe. That's all. It happens.' Darren laughed. 'It's cool to have a bodyguard, though.'
'I guess so.' It'd make a good story down the pub, if nothing else.
Fiction - A Story About My Brother By J.W. Robinson
I was about twelve-years-old when my brother, James, came home from the supermarket carrying an enormous cardboard box and announced that he was going to live in it. He had been behaving strangely for a while. My mum said it was a phase he was going through and she didn't like to antagonise him too much; he was prone to emotional outbursts. Nevertheless I think she worried when he took that box up to his bedroom and climbed inside.
Fiction - Mary and Me By Leah Scarpati
The train station was full of children, a mass exodus of sorts. Some were crying, others were brimming over with the obvious excitement of their impending 'holiday'. A variety of ages, the children were all dressed in their best clothes and stood around on the platform with their boxed up gas masks hung over their shoulders and suitcases littered around with their names and destinations printed on them.
'Now you listen to me Billy,' his Mother said. Her voice wobbled a bit.
Fiction - Incident Number 33217 By Grant
Colonel Hafetz strode purposefully down the hall of the Knesset. He gripped the attaché case firmly and braced himself for his meeting. A quick reveal of his ID causes one of two guards stationed to open the door and announce:
'Mr. Prime Minister, Colonel Hafetz.'
Colonel Hafetz enters and a silent Prime Minister gestures him to sit.
The Colonel places the silver case on the desk, unlocks it and turns it to
Fiction - 100 Words Competition - Summertime By Julie Hines
The curtains of early darkness are drawn back for summer.
Gardens become beautiful this time of year.
Contrast of flowing colour. The fragrances of the pink Fuchsias draped in deep purple emphasizing their elegance. The Stock has a powerful aroma. Yellow Marigolds resembling regimented soldiers.
Placing the bulbs into her basket, she made her purchase.