New Writing: extract from 'Mr Summers' by Brian Hamill

Woman shopping by lab2112, Flickr Creative Commons
Category: Writing

Every day this week we are posting a selection of works by recipients of the New Writers Awards in 2013, in anticipation of the publication of our New Writing Sampler at the New Writers Showcase at Edinburgh's Summerhall this Thursday.

Brian Hamill started writing after enrolling in a creative writing evening course at Glasgow University DACE in 2007. He still attends the class regularly and runs a fiction magazine called thi wurd with the class tutor, Alan McMunnigall. He is currently working on a book that will include a novella and a collection of short fiction and has this to say about his inspiration:

'I write stories from within my own culture, from the people I have grown up with and known in urban central Scotland. Although the stories are original, and unique to my own experience, I like to think I am writing within a tradition of realist fiction that would include many writers who have gone before...I believe my work exhibits a variety of perspectives and linguistic styles, and that my collection examines society and individuals through real situations, pressures, and emotions.'

Extract from 'Mr Summers'

Warning: this extract contains strong language

I was pulling a cage of frozen food when I thought I saw something happen. A woman standing at the hot beverages section. I dragged the cage into the pet food aisle so it wouldn’t block people’s way, then took something off the shelf. A packet of dried pig’s ears. I went round into the next aisle as if I didn’t know where to put it. The woman wasn’t there. I walked on a bit further, and saw her looking about for a second, then moving her hand into one of the pockets in the big black anorak. She didn’t see me. I stared in at the shelves for a second. I threw the pig’s ears in among some tins, and walked away to the checkouts.

It was still early so the place was quiet. Donna and Paul were on the tills, just a couple of customers each. The supervisor’s door was open and when I got nearer I could see Marion counting change out into the till on her desk. She heard me coming and peered over the tops of her glasses.

You better do the call, I said.


Aye. Woman down at the deli.


Meat and a jar of coffee.

You sure?


Sure sure?

I seen her.


She lifted the phone from its holster on the wall and said, Mr Summers to the canteen please, Mr Summers to the canteen. The voice echoed in loud static through every room in the building. I stood outside the office and watched for who’d be coming first. It was a surprise when the door to the upstairs area opened, and Stevie and his assistant Jim stepped onto the shop floor.

That a security call, wee man? Stevie said.

Aye, I said, Woman in there somewhere with steak and coffee hidden in her jacket.

You positive?

Definitely, I said. Unless she’s dropped it in the last couple of minutes.

She a junkie or what? the boss said.

I don’t know.


Eh, I don’t know.

I thought you seen her?

I did.

Look don’t fuck about, Jim said. If you seen her you’d know. Does she look like a daft wee lassie trying to do some shoplifting, or does she look like a junkie?

Eh, she looks more like a junkie, I suppose. But she might not be. I dunno. I only seen her for a second.

Fine, Steven said. Where the fuck’s Pedro?

You want me to go find him? Jim asked.

Nah, if it’s just one woman we should be OK. There’s three of us eh.

You up for this, wee man?

Eh, well, aye. Peter’s in so he’ll be here soon anyway.

Stevie laughed, He can deal wi her when he turns up then. But this is my shop, I’m not letting some fucking thief get anywhere near a door. Let’s go.