Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Read an Extract...Always Never, Rarely Sometimes by Alexander Raphael

Is this seat taken?” the stylish gentleman asked the attractive woman sitting next to an empty chair, whose face was barely visible due to a shawl covering part of her face.

The woman paused for a few seconds.  She studied the handsome stranger who stood in front of her before saying slowly, “Jack. Jack Hawthorne. Is it really you?”

Jack paused for a while, going through all the women he had dated in reverse chronological order before finally coming to the right answer. “Anne. Anne Stelkins. Well, who would have believed it?”

Neither was really sure what to say next. What do you say to someone you haven’t seen since meeting at an open mike magic show 20 years ago? “Hello?”, “Goodbye?”, “Much happened?”, “I was planning on ringing you but I’ve been busy for the last two decades?”

Full of confidence after her counselling sessions, Anne decided to start the conversation. “So, what brings you here? If I remember correctly, you don’t like coffee bars.”

She remembered, thought Jack worryingly. What sort of person recollects that from such a long time? “Well, you are right, I don’t like coffee bars, but my girlfriend likes the independent ones and she suggested I come here by myself to check them out.” What a pathetic lie, he felt, berating himself. She’ll never believe that! She knows why I’m at this singles bar.

Anne was impressed. A girlfriend into quirky coffee bars. Perhaps worth meeting one day. “I’m just here because I heard they have a great selection of coffees and a relaxed atmosphere,” she felt the need to say. She didn’t want him to find out that she was here looking for a boyfriend. “A guy at work recommended it,” she added, hoping Jack might think it was serious.

So, what work is that?”, Jack asked as innocently as he could.

Accounting,” she lied. She was a receptionist at a small business.

Accounting?” he repeated, pleasantly surprised. Feeling he had to do better, he said he was an architect when in fact he was an approvals officer for his local council.

I would have thought that you were going to live abroad. Didn’t you have dreams of living in South Africa?” Jack said, thinking it better to change the subject. 

I did. I travelled the world for six months. From Cairo to California. It was amazing and the scenery was breath-taking. But there’s no place like home.”  She neglected to mention that she travelled due to a fortunate lucky scratchcard win. “What about you?”

Only on business. I keep meaning to, but there’s always something to be done. Anyway, though, how’s the family? Your parents? Jeff? Zappy?”

They’re all fine.” Her parents had divorced, Jeff, her brother owned a surprisingly successful pornography shop and Zappy, her beloved Labrador, had died of old age. 15 years ago.

Jack was surprised at her short answer. He figured that they must all be doing well but she did not want to seem arrogant. “Yeah, mine are all doing well.” He was not on speaking terms with his parents after a serious argument about responsibility, his two brothers were involved in the loan shark business and he had lost complete contact with all his old friends after drifting apart.

So how’s your life been since I last saw you? It sure has been a while,” Anne asked, curious as to what had happened to the guy who had been her first serious boyfriend at 15.

Just what has happened in the last 20 years? Jack asked himself. Caught cold by the question, Jack hesitated.

Always Never, Rarely Sometimes

An aspiring magician who gets a sinister pleasure playing all kinds of tricks on those around him. Two strangers running into each after 20 years and wondering what they’ve missed. A long-suffering husband who decides it’s time he started making big decisions. An unhappy child at Christmas struggling to deal with his new surroundings before a wonderfully surprising encounter. All this and more within the seven stories of Always Never, Rarely Sometimes, where a wide range of characters are forced to challenge long-held beliefs and powerful memories, accompanied by a sprinkling of magic. Always Never, Rarely Sometimes is the third book from Alexander Raphael, following on from his short story The Summer of Madness and his set of conceptual short stories Illusions, Delusions.

Amazon UK                 Amazon US 

Half-Welsh, half-Mexican and growing up in London, Alex Raphael was surrounded by different influences and interests. But it was always books that spoke to him most and had the greatest impact.

He started writing when at college, where his love of reading evolved into a desire to write, in particular focusing on poetry and short stories. Studying English and American Literature at university meant he took a break from writing, as well as giving him the chance to see more of Mexico on his travels. He concentrated on his journalistic career while working on different writing projects, but his favourite genre of literature has always been short stories as they are what first inspired him to write.

That’s why his first book was The Summer of Madness, a romantic short story that tells of a guy who goes out to try to win his ex-girlfriend back. Will you be rooting for Kurt and his big public gesture or is it more complicated than that and you don’t want her to date him again? Either way you’ll get to know a memorable set of characters along for the ride.

His second book Illusions, Delusions reflects Raphael’s love of alternative short stories from the writers of his childhood and challenges the idea of the narrative. Will your favourite be the story in the form of a questionnaire, a poem or a set of jokes, among the seven very different styles?

Alexander Raphael’s latest offering is Always Never, Rarely Sometimes, featuring original premises and distinctive characters with his trademark imagination, humour and memorable dialogue. Among others, meet a sinister magician with an array of pranks, a long-suffering husband finally becoming more decisive and a group of young guys intrigued by a pretty woman on another table.




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