Chapter One ~ Phoebe

The Cock Up

We were sitting at my usual table at the local coffee shop brooding about the mess I’d made of our lives. I was in a wrinkled hooded sweatshirt and my favorite bling jeans. It was a cool morning on the outskirts of Atlanta, where I’d resided my entire dysfunctional life. The drum of my fingernails on the table had become somewhat soothing, but I could still sense the death stare coming from my best friend and the misery I felt was compounding exponentially.

“So you never answered my question, has the cat got your tongue?” My friend Liz prodded me from across the table and I jumped as if she were using a hot cattle prod in her attempts to gain information.

“Could you repeat the question?” I evaded to give myself a little more time to scheme. If I could think of a plan, I’d be in the clear.

After a dramatic rolling of her eyes, she did. “I asked, as I’m sure you’re aware of, what are we going to do now Phoebe?” Liz asked for a second time in two minutes from across the table. Her annoyed expression swiftly turned to panic stricken while sipping on a steamy cup of the house blend. Evading hadn’t helped one iota. I had nothing. Not one single idea as to what we were going to do. My head fell onto my arms as I slumped across the table. This scene was reminiscent of our first meeting nearly ten years ago, except this was a coffee shop instead of a bar and our meeting had taken place in a completely different city altogether, across the pond in fact. I’d been on my senior trip to London and had disentangled myself from the group, choosing to visit a local pub in lieu of a museum with the others. It had been love at first sight between England and me. Surprisingly, what had me at hello wasn’t the beautiful countryside or the plethora of historical interests like Stonehenge or the castles. It was the legal drinking age. I’m sure there are eighteen year olds out there with the capacity to appreciate the wonders of the world; I simply hadn’t been one of them. Life had been much simpler then.

“I don’t know.” I groaned. It sounded muffled against my forearm. Liz understood me perfectly; she’d grown accustomed to my grumblings over the years. Being the magnet for disaster that I am, I was used to the feeling of utter despair. Unfortunately being accustomed to something didn’t ease my suffering in the slightest. Thankfully Liz and I had that particular trait in common because as we all know, misery does indeed love company. It helps not to be alone in ones calamity. It was the commonality that had us fast friends from day one. Lifting my head, I propped my chin into my hand, “I paid the rent for this month so we’re good for a few weeks at the apartment, however we’ll be surviving on ramen noodles.” I felt horrible, I really did. I’d convinced Liz to move to the US, guaranteeing her a job that I’d secured in the call center that I had worked in for the past five years making decent, not great, money. I’d been on a probational period when the unfortunate incident took place.

“Tell me again exactly how you managed to lose both our jobs in a single day.” Liz was upset with me, and rightfully so. You see I have this condition; I was born without a filter in my brain thus ruining me from ever living a politically correct life. It wasn’t my fault really. I actually think it makes me more of a hero than a total loser. I tell the plain and simple truth as I see it. Liz is really the same as me, however, being British she is able to exercise some restraint and keep it to herself more often than I. It isn’t something that Americans are known for. Despite my southern upbringing, I was infamous for episodes of explosive diarrhea of the mouth.

“I’m sorry. In hindsight I should have kept my trap shut, or as you so eloquently put it my bloody effing cake hole. In my defense, I was having horrible PMS and the idiotic woman kept going on and on about her stupid router. This chick was a complete moron Liz, I mean really, I went through that stupid scripted jargon they taught us, nearly a hundred times, directing her to reset the router and wait thirty seconds before powering it up again. No one in their right mind would insist like she did that her router was missing that little red button. She started calling me names so I hung up on her. I wasn’t thinking about the fact that I had given her my name, therefore when she called back in she could ask for me specifically. She called back ten times, she just wouldn’t stop.”

“Yes but, a little self control wouldn’t have hurt you. That job was important to both of us. What are we going to do now? Go round the back of Rackhams?” Liz nearly shrieked at me. Her face was reddening as her anxiety was reaching that point when her British politeness took a back seat and she went to full on attack mode reverting to her British slang. Not that I blamed her, you can’t keep that bottled up inside, if you do, one day you’ll explode.

“You know I don’t possess any self control. Give me some credit, I do try.” I pleaded with her for a little understanding, which she shot down with the narrowing of her eyes. “Sometimes.” I guiltily added. “Unfortunately my idea and your idea of self-control differ greatly. Everyone else in the center is the same as me, they just have the good sense to mute the phone before swearing a blue streak and calling customers moronic assholes. I normally hit the mute button, I just forgot this time.” Sighing I felt completely responsible for our dilemma and promised, “I’ll figure something out. I would consider your back of Rackhams suggestion if we could upgrade to high price call girls and it would turn out for us like it did for Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.” After giving that idea a second thought, I immediately took it back; my self esteem couldn’t stand another blow. “No, actually I wouldn’t, I’d have to be Kit and you’d get to be Vivian.”

“How did you figure that one out? Not that I don’t deserve to be Vivian after this stunt.” Liz crossed her arms over her enormous rack.

My eyes darted to her boobs, “Isn’t it obvious? Who’s going to choose me in this super size everything society? I’m at a serious disadvantage since you have those new fake hooters of yours.”

“There you go again, making fun of the breasticles. I told you to save up and buy yourself a pair!” Her voice continued to rise and we were starting to gain unwanted attention from the other patrons. Lizbeth had only been in America for a short time and our bad habits were already rubbing off on her. “Besides,” she lowered her tone after recognizing her blunder. “You do realize that we consume Cadbury chocolate by the pound? We wouldn’t make a penny with the weight we’ve been putting on and my new hooters are my babies, so leave them alone and stop cheapening them with your crass ideas. Haven’t I taught you anything in all the years we’ve known each other? Take deep breaths and count to ten, it really does work Phoebs.”

It was my turn to give her the dramatic eye roll, “Whatever. It was your idea, I just ran with it. Plus, I tried that counting crap once, it didn’t work for me. It pissed me off even more and you’re right we do eat a lot of chocolate thanks to your Mom who has promised to keep us stocked. We must have an eating disorder.” A sigh left my lips as I turned in my chair so I could examine my backside that was on the verge of a massive ass-explosion. I should really cut back on the amount of calories that I was consuming. I’m a depression eater. It’s also a medical condition and not my fault at all and at the moment some chocolate with a side of chips and salsa was sounding really good.

“Chocoholism isn’t a medical condition!” Liz rolled her eyes at me after calming herself.

“How do you know?! Just because when you speak everyone here thinks you’re the brains in this dynamic duo because of your accent, doesn’t make it a reality Liz.” I said in mock British falsetto. The attention we were drawing was becoming unbearable. “Let’s get out of here, I’m hungry.” My chair made a horrible grinding sound as the legs scraped the tile floor when I scooted it back, she and I lumbered our way through the tables and out the side door. It didn’t escape me that my blinged ass may have bumped into a couple of chairs on the way out. Thankfully Liz didn’t comment. She did however, snicker. I’d made it my mission to get her in a pair bling jeans one day just because she was so adamantly against wearing them. She was constantly replying with, I’ll pass, but thank you for attempting to bling my backside! She was so polite in her rejection to my attempt at stepping up her fashion. Unbeknownst to her, all that did was make me even more determined.

“I still can’t believe this is what you drive around in.” Liz sneered at Wilf, my fifteen-year-old pea green Ford Focus with a giant dent in the passenger’s side door. I’d received an insurance check after the accident that caused said dent, but kept the money instead of having it repaired. Liz had to crawl over from the driver’s side because the passenger door would no longer open. It wasn’t so bad. The wind noise from the garbage bag I had duct taped over the passenger’s side window took some getting used to but if the radio was turned up to volume deafening, it’s all good!

As I pulled out onto the highway, I couldn’t help but giggle as my makeshift window began slapping Liz in the face as we rode.

“Phoebe, you have to get this car fixed! How on earth are we going to show up to interviews looking like Steptoe and Son?!”

“What?!” I’m sorry I can’t hear you.” My hand rested on the volume nob as a smile creased my lips and I turned up the radio. I had no idea who Steptoe and Son were but was positive it was a derogatory remark. “I don’t even know who that is.” The smile was still pasted on my lips as I goaded her, “And, I thought British people didn’t complain? What a complete delusion that idealism turned out to be.”

“What? I can’t hear you, this bag is slapping me in the face and rendering me hard of hearing!” She opened the vanity mirror and shouted, “We’ll never look presentable if this is our method of transportation. Just look at my hair!”

I did and laughed as her long dark brown locks took on the appearance of a matted poodle. Leaning over, I hit the button for the glove box, pulling out a hairbrush and some cheap Aqua Net hair spray. “Easy peas, we’ll run to the little girls room, spruce up and we’ll be good to go. We’ll find jobs and if we don’t, we’ll sell tickets to desperate horny old farts to have a gander at those breasticles.” I goaded her a bit more. “I’ll be the manager, set it all up.” She groaned in response. I think my tit jokes were starting to wear on her.

A moment later though, Liz started laughing; her laughter is contagious, within seconds we were driving down the highway in fits of giggles with tears streaming down our faces. “Stop laughing, I really need to pee.”

“You’re not the only one!” As we cruised down the road in my death trap I call a car, laughing our asses off, broke and without our next job prospect, life was good. Yes, broke and without a plan for our future, life could still be good. Or perhaps we were just delusional, either way we were happy.

Chapter Two ~ Lizbeth

The First Encounter

As our laughter died down, Phoebe’s face took on a somber look. She was thinking about the job situation and beating herself up again. Maybe I was overreacting to the predicament Phoebe had gotten us in. If roles were reversed, I probably would have handled this whole job situation the same way. That was what made us so dangerous together, two nutters floating through life without direction. It was also what made life so much fun. It always amused me to give Phoebe a hard time, so it was worth holding on to the illusion of utter outrage for a few more hours. It was kind of fun watching my poor guilt ridden best friend rack her brains trying to get us out of this mess. I should be scared shitless, I wasn’t. My decision to pick up and move to America was the best decision I had made after a long line of poor ones. Albeit it was only mere days into my new adventure, I was confident this had been the correct move for me. I didn’t really have a lot to stay in the UK for. My mother was so excited when I told her that I was thinking of moving, she practically threw me on the plane. Mom has an obsession with cowboys. She honestly believes that all American men are the Sam Elliott type, strutting around in their boots and chaps. She reads too much. Well, if it were possible for one to read too much.

I hadn’t realized we had been quiet for so long when Phoebe almost whispered, “I’m sorry.” Guilt slammed into me with the force of a freight train. I’d been such an arse! As I looked over at my best friend driving this miserable excuse for a car, I noticed that she hadn’t changed all that much in the last ten years, her dark hair flew around her shoulders with the look of determination in her milk chocolate brown eyes that were oddly so close to the same shade as mine. That was where our similarities in appearance ended. I had a good four inches on Phoebe’s smaller frame. But on the inside, that is where Phoebe and I were practically identical and the phrase sister from another mister fit us perfectly. Smiling, I took in the way her brow knitted together when she was deep in thought. She’d had a similar expression on her face that took me right back to that rainy afternoon.

I’d walked into the pub nearly soaked to the bone yet somehow oblivious, ordered myself a cider, sat down, and began writing in my diary. I hadn’t even noticed the fact that I spoke aloud as I wrote. She, on the other hand, was completely tuned in to my drama.

“What an absolute crock of shite! What a complete arsehole! I should have known. I’m kicking myself for not seeing what a cheating, lying, pathetic excuse of a man he is. Man? Ha! Child more like. Cheating on me with Melanie, ‘I’ll do anything for a smoke’, Jones. Eewww, my skin is crawling just thinking about it. Michael Davies, you can take a flying fuck through a rolling ring doughnut. I’ve given you nearly three years of my life, which I’ll never get back! Well twatface, I’m keeping your shit and selling it on eBay, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it!”

“Wow. What a total dick!” A girl sitting two tables over was snickering, at me I think. I slowly closed my diary and took a long sip of my cider, assessing this girl out of the corner of my eye.

I usually enjoyed people watching, I’m happy to hide in the background unnoticed. I hated attention and I could quite happily sit here for hours trying to figure out what they were thinking or saying, but every time I glanced her way, she looked away with a look of amusement in her eyes. I couldn’t help but notice that she was getting pleasure watching me and my misery. This I didn’t like.

“Can I help you?!” I almost shouted while straightening my back trying to look more confident.

As she turned to face me she replied still snickering, “I really don’t think you can. You seem to have your hands full of dick at the moment. I however, may be able to help you.” Was she drunk at two in the afternoon?

“Do I know you?” Who was this girl? And why on Earth was I being so polite?

“How the hell could you possibly know me? I do know you, or chicks like you anyway. Allow me to share my philosophy of men with you.” Her words began to slur. “Men are assholes, never expect more and you’ll be on the right track.” She belched loudly. “’Scuse me. No, you know what? Don’t excuse me.” She began laughing hysterically. I glanced at Pete the bartender, who looked just as confused as me. He shrugged and carried on cleaning the glasses. I wasn’t in the mood for this today.

“Listen to effing Oprah over here! Pissed as a fart and spewing crap.” Is Oprah like royalty? Should I have said that?

“Oprah?!” She appeared thoughtful for a second then continued, “I’d say I’m more like Jerry Springer. No wait, Ricki Lake. It would be a hoot to gather all the nut bags together and watch them go at each other.” She began laughing again then sobered a bit and asked, “You do know who Ricki Lake is don’t you?”   

“Of course I do, we do have televisions here you know!” I retorted with a snort.

“Well how the hell would I know, the only thing my idiot group wants to do here is go to museums.” She swigged the last of her drink.

“Well I think you’re pretty rude seeing as you are a visitor in our country.” Shut up Liz, don’t get into politics, you’re crap at politics.

“I am, yes and I have freedom of speech. Freedom to say ‘bartender, pour me another’ and maybe I can drink away this god-awful weather.” She had a point there. Our weather was schizophrenic. Today alone we’d had sunshine, rain, and hail within an hour of each other. I was actually stumped as to what to say. Something intrigued me about this girl. Was it because she was American, or that she had the balls to get shitfaced this early in day? Getting shitfaced sounded more inviting by the minute.

“Pete, pour us both one.” Yes, I was warming to this girl.

Two hours later we were both paralytic and laughing our arses off pretending to have our own talk show. Everyone that came into the bar was a candidate for our no-holds-barred commentary. We were getting laughs and having a grand time. Phoebe did an awful impression of the queen; how I didn’t wet myself, I’ll never know.

“We ought not take the piss out of my minions.” Phoebe slurred and hiccupped at the same time. Laughing so hard I not so elegantly slipped off my barstool and ended up stuck between two tables with my legs spread-eagled.

“Liz!” Phoebe shouted bringing me back to the present. “I said I was sorry. You aren’t going to keep holding this grudge are you?!”

“No, we’re good.” I patted her shoulder that was now relaxing with relief.

“What were you thinking of?” She asked in a lot more chipper tone.

My thoughts drifted to back and I laughed, “I was thinking we should get shitfaced.”

She nodded, “Good idea, we do our best thinking in that state.”

No truer words had ever been spoken.

The American and The Brit ~ K.A. Young & Julie Bromley.

Pre-Order special offer ~ 0.99c.

K.A. Young has joined forces with her hilarious PA Julie Bromley to bring us a light hearted comedy that you won’t ever forget.

Life isn’t easy.

Just ask American born Phoebe Hawkins and British born Lizbeth Bates, two insecure women in their mid twenties who are trying to stay positive in the face of their own awkwardness, chaos, and utter humiliation.

Friends for nearly ten years, Phoebe and Liz are well aware that neither of their brains possesses a filter. After Liz moves from the UK to America the two accidentally land jobs at an up and coming media company that is testing their very own version of a modern day Dear Abby/Agony Aunt advice column.

Laughter, tears and inappropriate behavior follow as the two desperately try to live up to their role as The American and The Brit.

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