My mother always said the light shone straight through me...
Q & A The Heaviness
Marcel D’Agneau interviews Sam Hawksmoor as the third volume of The Repossession trilogy published - 2014
Moving Hay (*extract from The Heaviness)
The time of the great experiment had arrived. Genie really didn’t think that Marshall was going to get Chris’ theories to work. He’d been trying for months now with no success, but it at least it made him happy. Happiness was a new experience for her; it seemed to vanish like mist when you least expected it. More about The Heaviness here
Returning to America
It was precisely zero-six-hundred hours. Lieutenant Wilson climbed the steep step-ladder that led him into the bowels of the C-5 Galaxy that will transport him stateside
It reminded me how mundane, silly, obtuse, dumb and, if I include my own, plain boring and in some cases unbearable people’s lives can often be
There wasn’t a day when Alice didn’t get up before her alarm clock went off. Alice was what people call a morning person. Mornings were magical to Alice for many reasons
If I had to do it over...
The car was a white, two-seater, 1965, British made, Triumph Spitfire, convertible. Low to the ground and high on looks.
Bear Mountain Man
Bear Mountain was not a particularly uncommon mountain. Like other mountains in the vicinity, Bear Mountain was green in spring, brown in autumn, and white in winter...
One bite. That’s all she thought she needed to satisfy her hunger. One bite of the funnel cake. No more than that. There was no need for more. A single bit of food would have satiated her starving stomach.
I'll Go On
Darlene preferred to walk on Central park, around the periphery of the reservoir, on days when the weather was difficult, thorny, icebound.
The Hunting (Extract)
ONE: Test Subject
Carson Strindberg was in the observation room at the Fortress. The assembled technicians were tense, the atmosphere electric. All their jobs were on the line...
T R Healy
“My, my, what have we here?” Callas asked as Tuttle locked his road bike to a post outside the law library.
So when you fall in love and get married you never think to ask your fiancée what political affiliation she has and probably less likely to ask what party her parents belong to
Today young Monica and her mother are at the Discount Barn Emporium - for the first time, Monica requests her mother's consent to circumnavigate the store alone.
She felt confident that next month she would be ready for her first 50-mile ultra marathon. Could she win?
He had never bought himself a single shirt, tie, or pair of shoes. This year, however, all of his wool and corduroy pants frayed and stretched beyond usability ... he'd have to replace them...
...the time had come to look for her soul mate, blind as she had been to all the previous intimations
Parakeets or Parents?
After pestering Daddy for a very long time we got a pair of Parakeets and put them into a small fluorescent blue cage.
Sanjana sought refuge in the house attic on days she needed his company the most. She hadn’t told anyone of his presence. Not yet.
Mamta didn’t need an alarm to wake her up every morning. She was among those blessed early risers who found themselves unable to sleep beyond their routine waking up hour
I had always been a quiet companion. One who neither comments, protests nor compliments. A silent observer. My friends never minded that. In fact they craved to be like me...
My Third Eye
No one knew about my third eye.
All my three eyes were special
I didn’t know what to expect when I landed in Dubai with my parents. The place appeared to be as crowded as Mumbai. I wasn’t in the mood to do any sightseeing.
It was time for my family to look for marriage proposals for me. Amma decided that only a job would get me a girl. A job that paid. Something. Anything.
Seema slathered bathing gel onto her calloused palms. Oh! How much she craved these hours of solace. She had to be quick though there was still an hour to go before he would arrive.
April Fools’ Day
You know you are damned if your family follows every single freaking special DAY of the year.
For you my child, with love...
Baby, my friends had always called me ‘Weird’ you know. I was never ashamed of it.
You pay more for a sea view, I pay more for a live show.
I followed the woman’s head nodding forward as she teetered on the brink of sleep
Yellow Jackets fly close to his face-one under his nose. I watch him swipe it hard with his bearish paw.
Ex: as in expel, expunge, delete
When she opens the door Ill rush in, kill them both
Incognito on Memorial Day
Ben was on the shore fishing with two friends with his pole stuck in the ground when I first met him.
Man is a monkey without much fur, but a house and a space heater to compensate. When the house is gone, however, and by association the outlet necessary for the space heater to function, man must rely on his inherent adaptability.
An Hour Every Day
Six Months before, she wouldn’t have had the courage to stay alone in a public building so late at night. She had been afraid of everything.
Just Another Woman
Jude C Perera
Rishi; her marketed name, real name Nishamani Zeram, glanced at the mirror for the hundredth and final time, she was shocked and awed for the hundredth time.
Jude C Perera
It was hot and humid, the usual sea breeze was playing truant. Cecil shivered violently and downed his fourth glass of water on the trot.
Jude C. Perera
He heard his tiny heart breaking into a million pieces; his mouth sagged around the edges. He was struggling courageously against the shameless tears, but his heart was already compromised
Jude C Perera
Her wail stabbed his ears, it irritated Chris, it sounded subhuman. It was a very public display of a very private process, he was grieving too. But he never showed it, couldn’t or didn’t want to, he wasn’t too sure.
Terry sighed and looked away. It was a long sigh; there was bitterness in it. His tax dollar was funding some of those lazy bums. The injustice bit into him. There were too many to count on the beach, late morning, and mid week, getting their sun fix
Jude C Perera
I know they are close. I can’t hear them through the din that my heart is making. It feels like it is going to jump out of its preordained location any minute now, the spot where it was meant to me.
The Other Son
Jude C Perera
‘I am going Mother, Good Night’
She barely heard him; picking up whispers was a luxury at her age. She looked swiftly but he beat her to it. Those blue sparklers were tucked well away from her adoring gaze.
The Honest Politician
Jude C Perera
Banu winced, embarrassment could also cause tangible pain, he knew now. His young protégé was digging her grave quite busily and excitedly. She had obviously taken his advice from one ear and had spat it out from the other
Singing For My Supper-
The Greatest Self Help Book Ever Written
Chapter Nine: Rock and Roll Haze - Bent Antenna
Phillip E Hardy
In late 1980, I went to a dirty Hollywood rehearsal studio to audition for a group named Bent Antenna.
The Bigger Man
It was a hell of a flight. Fly the friendly skies, my ass. Bumpy as a back road. First the security dick with that stupid scanning device, making me open my suitcase, embarrassing the hell out of me, poking through my personal things with the tip of his pencil.
Journey To the Mountain
David headed off in the direction of the sacred mountain. Winds were picking up speed to scatter the fog into mists and beam frail rays into the horizon. Soon into his journey, the mists parted to an abandoned castle that once housed Asian nobles.
Told you so!
Here, here, listen to this one: enjoys sea-bathing, bright sunlight, human emotions, the simpler pleasures, and on the intellectual side, thinking clearly...
The old gentleman didn’t just sit on the well worn, distressed leather club chair, he was part of it. His body blended into the nothingness of the chair.
My Summer of Love
Sometimes, when I look back on my travels, it’s a brief incident, a passing encounter, a glimpse, a glance — something that seemed inconsequential at the time—that I remember most.
How to Help A Man in Quicksand
The first thing is to stay calm and not make a fool of yourself by pretending you haven't dealt with this sort of situation before
To Wander In A Foreign Land
Lea stood inside the door of the riverboat restaurant … tall and willowy with a shock of hair, dark and heavy, and piled a’ top her head like an afterthought.
"Hi sweetie,what's in the bag? A present for me?"
“The Bee is the first device of its kind ever made,” Oliver told Sheila. “We produced only a hundred as samples but when it's released in August, it will take over the mobile phone market.”
Punta la Luna
He’s had this terrible nightmare. He saw his wife wobbling in blood. In his dream she was; in real life, she didn’t stir. She was dead, and dead cold though her eyes were wide open. That’s why he has to run away, maybe leave the Island.
Two years and still counting. A tick for each day etched into the inside of the bars that hold me captive. I have counted them every day. Yesterday there were 711, today there are 712. Two years.
The goddess in his dream
Jonah Ayodele Obajeun
The first time I saw Helena was in a dream I had two weeks earlier where she was at a show in the Amphi Theatre of the university.
The Shroud Of Darkness
Baldr stirred, the dull moan echoed quietly in a damp dark stony prison. He stumbled to his feet disorientated, a prominent headache pounding in the back of his skull, trying to smash through coming on in a steady tempo
Along A Seashell Path
David watched a hoi polloi of villagers, as they rushed around to repair their fractured streets. Hurrying down the hardscrabble roads with wheelbarrows bumping along in front of them, they stooped to gather up the stony remains of a bombed-out cathedral
White Moths Fluttering
Above the indentation in the earth, the trees and the underbrush shifted position: all together and at the same time. There was a great sound like the earth heaving. .
James L Carey
I am standing in the center of my apartment surrounded by a Stonehenge of brown cardboard boxes, some half-packed, taped, opened, then taped again as I searched for a phillips head screwdriver or a package of batteries. I have been living in the boxes for a while now. Months, really. It wasn’t that I had plans to move, I was just ready. And so I began to pack the boxes.
A Boy called Terror
“You know why we always get a free meal, here Jimmy? Once a year on this day?”
My pa came home on the last day of summer, without fanfare, without so much as a banner ganging over our house. It made sense, I guess, seeing how he left without so much as a word; fair and level almost.
today was different... It was as if Laurie wanted to speak and he wanted to listen but something was holding it all back
Something in the neighbourhood
We all sat in the dusk on Bobby’s porch that looked out onto the neighbourhood. Above us was the sunset but we didn’t acknowledge that. Instead, all we talked about was the killer, the next victim and the neighbourhood.
Ryan sat in the strip club trying to look any other place but at the dancers. It was bad enough that he had ended up in such a dive, that his oldest friend, Steve, was drunk beyond all recognition
Running to Yesterday
“It’s a good place,” Jack said, looking at the high beams, the empty walls. The ceiling reached at an impossible height. It felt as if he was living inside an old black and white movie.
“It’s what we need,” Ellen replied, setting down the battered suitcase.
Jeannine M. Pitas
I have a rosary to remind me of you. A rosary and a picture of a beautiful dark-haired, blue-robed lady surrounded by beams of light – the Virgin of Guadalupe. It’s a pity that I don’t remember you giving them to me.
She decided to make a cup of tea before she hung herself, as if it was any other day. She wanted to think it through, make sure she was making the right decision.
It is still early in the morning when the old man steps out his front door. He can feel the cool morning air and wishes he wore a coat. He can hear the vendors setting up shop, putting their goods on display. Soon this street will be noisy and full of people, but now it is calm and roomy.
True Love Back
The key isn't doing its job. Again. Keep it turned to the right and pull the door to you, the janitor had said. Pull hard, but not too hard, he'd say
You finally answered – took your time, didn’t you? Can’t say I blame you. Look, I had to phone. I don’t have many options, see..?
Bring Me the Head of Padraic O Conaire
Frank’s life allows little silliness, filled as it is with job, school, his art, and above all, the family. Sometimes after a few pops with his best friend, Ligos, the pair get silly, parodying the Irish types they both know so well
When Pat Drewer saw old Roger Turner come out from behind the long polished bar, walk past the pool tables in the northeastern corner and disappear into his office, he drained the final sip from his glass of grapefruit juice and got up.
Hash Browns and Tattoos
Joshua M. Cisneros
I believe strongly, more then the fact that what runs through my body is blood, that when reached a certain point of maturity we gain, like gods, control, choosing to either fumble and go insane...
It’s like the road is a pliable board unfurled across the blinking hills. The day is Tuesday and Thomas drives the minivan in Tuesday fashion
He sat outside the house in a broken old garden chair, once white now something else. He poured orange juice, watched the sun lowering but holding warm.
They had a tacit agreement that the fewer the people who knew about their lunches the better
Parker had always thought that the summer heat in Sacramento made every bad thing that happened ten times worse, which was the way he now felt about his wife.
On. Off. On. Off. The faulty bulbs in the old kitchen threw a menacing strobe across the rusted units and pans hanging from hooks. Morrison put his hand to the dirty wall, felt the cold rushing air of the Swedish mid-winter and crouched silently in the doorway
After The Tennis Match
Paul had always thought the patio was the best thing about the club, somehow it was always cool and pleasant there, even in the heat of a Sacramento summer.
Resident of the Month
I was having another drink, trying to relax. I don’t know why I was nervous; it was just something for our little retirement community newspaper.
Resident of The Month 2
“He murdered his wife, you know.”
The speaker was Ezra Finch, intercepting me as I was on my way to interview his neighbor Horace Cooper for a Resident of the Month story.
Marty's shoelaces dangled, swinging in the wind. He had worn his Converse trainers to work that day; they looked entirely out of place in his shirt and tie ensemble, but it hardly mattered. He might be remembered as a fashion maverick.
The Four Cygnets
Erik Cleves Kristensen
in this meeting, they would decide the names of their new fellow citizens
Donny's Day Out
The walk to work was the only thing Donny truly liked and looked forward to these days. It was the only time he felt he could empty his mind and be by himself
Eddie saw her coming, red and white jumper like an old fashioned sweet. Big red hoops earrings, jeans, hair tied back in a pony tail. What she always wore for her lesson
I had always made fun of my girlfriend, because she had often told me she was afraid someone would sneak into the back seat of her car
The Hour approaches. A few deep breaths may do the trick.
There’s really no way to prepare for the death of a parent. When it happens, it happens when you least expect it. When it happens, you grieve, but you feel relieved. Guilty, but relieved. Eventually, guilt subsides and the chore of setting things right begins.
Peter and Wendy had been meeting at the water fountain for many weeks now. They liked each other’s company. One morning, Wendy surprised Peter when she whispered to him,
“I'm secretly in love with a married man.”
Last Sunday, I was driven in a white stretch-limousine, a very long, long, limo, to the home of a wealthy individual whose estate is surrounded by Sycamore trees in a peninsula bounded by the waters of the Long Island Sound
The best thing during summer for Danny O’brian was to drive with his mother to visit his cousins and play cowboys and indians in their farm
Let's Make A Deal
I’m supposed to be dead. The deal was that when I reached the age of fifty I would be dead. Of course, it wasn’t exactly specified, I guess, how it would happen or when. But I think it was just supposed to happen when I reached the age of fifty.
“I know, okay? I know,” I reply to the box, rubbing my blotchy eyes. I slump down on the hardwood and tap my sneaker against it to the beat of “Another One Bites the Dust.”
Old Man and the Boy
Jack Marley wiped the small blobs of shaving cream from his face. The image that stared out of the foggy mirror was someone he didn’t want to know
“Gramps, what does free speech mean?”
A Lot of Pigs
I work with a fellow who has an opinion on everything. He’s one of those guys who are deeply passionate about everything from string theory to knitting needles.
Between Heaven and Hell
Phillip E. Hardy
One pitch-black night, after returning from playing a gig the entire power grid for my neighborhood had gone down ... Upon the witching hour, I was startled awake. As my eyes focused, the tiny silhouette of a little cartoon devil appeared behind the flickering candle.
The Magnolia Agreement
Julie looked out of the window and saw his car pull into the driveway. The car summed up Mark; kind of falling to pieces and still charming. She watched as the car rode the curb in a vague way, before collapsing as much as parking.
The Far End Of The Earth
The clouds above him were moving in a melancholy way. And as the sun climbed the skies, the Cherokee son walked a path that took him to the top of a valley
Yun Xi worked at a small foreign company, although not pretty enough to attract men's eyes, as the only female in office, she enjoyed other colleague’s care. Her life is limited. Home, office, home, office, sometimes she just goes out and makes some simple shopping from time to time. It's not much.
Nathan is somebody I’ve always liked. He’d frighten the crows the way he looked but there was always a gentility about him.
I will probably shortly be wafting away over the countryside with my state-of-the-art camera deservedly stuck in my big mouth, Jed the newsman thought, heading for the lift to take him right up to the twenty-fifth floor of the hotel and the gale force winds outside.
Wet Shower Floor
When I wake up at three I want to sit by the window and smoke a cigarette before I do anything else.
5 Honest Entrepreneurs
Norman A. Rubin
A long time ago in the Land of Finance along the Wall Street River and near the border of the towering empire of the Stock Exchange there was a flood of worthless stocks and bonds that overwhelmed the land.
Wassa Tea, Wassa Tea for Me
Norman A. Rubin
"A tea bag was almost a trigger to World War Three,” declared the Old Major as he addressed the old timers, nine in all, setting around the warm barrel stove in the center of Lem's Feed and Grain Store.
Dacron, Polyester, Acrilan – Poof
Norman A. Rubin
It was a pleasant morning in the month of June; the day was clear, sunny with a whiff of a balmy breeze that sent peaceful rays of complaisant warmth over the town of P..., situated in the center of the New Jersey swamplands.
My Cecily Infatuation
I was 25 when I came to San Francisco from New York City, got a job as researcher in an ad agency, started going to parties and became infatuated with Cecile Thornton.
The Horrible Boss I: Saving Sara
“That woman is evil,” said Sara.
Chris pinched the knight with his thumb and index finger and with a delicate twist of the wrist made two skipping moves in the air before placing the ivory horse-head on the black square, between his opponent’s Rook and his Bishop.
The Seven-Minute Round
I jammed my eyebrows down, balled my fists, and threw some neat jabs at ex-boxer Dickie, my dad, who me taught me to throw punches like a man in the basement of our house.
The Eye Sees More
Rage burned like homicide inside me. Those drivers had death coming to them. They were part of the surveillance machine.
On a Clear Day I Can See ‘til Dinner Time.
Adam saw the world unfolding before his eyes without any regard to what he was feeling or sensing. It ( the world) was oblivious, uncaring, unavoidably present, yet foreign to him.
“Let me tell you about my lucky chair,” said the man wearing the ill-fitting tuxedo jacket, while nursing a cocktail in his hands.
Imagine this: freshly sliced limes, salt, smoke from cigarettes, perfume. Now, imagine this: bottles, glasses, mirrors, stools, tables.
Clay juggled the plate of jelly sandwiches and mugs of coffee. Glumness hung over Vivian like smog. Shaking the snow cone, she sat on the plump sofa, boxed in by the paneling lined with trophy heads. All those glass eyes staring down.
Potty’s Perfect Pie
It was close to stumps on a Friday night in the lounge bar of the Criterion. Patrons were draining their glasses and making last-minute comfort stops as their wives gathered up furs, stoles and handbags.
Norman A Rubin
Once upon a time there was a Maiden named Vasilissa the Beautiful. She is sent by her step-mother to retrieve a flame for the fire from Baba Yaga. But Baba Yaga catches her and forces her to cook meals, scrub the floors, and weave at the loom.
The phone on it wouldn’t quit ringing.
“You want to get that?” Lyons finally grumbled at me when everyone else pretended to be too busy
Mura Kami was her given name. Mura: to reflect the practicality of her spirit. Kami: to deliver the spirit of her ancestors. She saw herself as a human being first, then as a woman
Dancing in the Woods
The forest was now lonely. I stood and looked around. The woods had never been my favorite place to be. I only came here when I was with Creole, my cute poodle
My First Heartbreak
My grandmother was a beautiful, goddess like figure: she had fair, glowing skin, large brown eyes, thick black hair that flow down to her lower back and a heart made from gold.
Dad's looking down on me
My father who died in 1990 is still looking down on me from above, all these years later.
"If you could forsee your fate, will you still like to continue it?"
Dancing in the Woods
The forest was now lonely. I stood and looked around. The woods had never been my favorite place to be. I only came here when I was with Creole, my cute poodle
On Trial For Love
Anyone looking at the woman in the dock would immediately know that she was oblivious of what was going on around her. She stared blankly at the wall.
Do Cars Have Teeth?
Where is the salesman who attended us? He asked us to wait here two hours ago...
Meeting with a Leprechaun
Norman A Rubin
My name is Patrick and I have links to the Tuatha Dé Danann
The Devil's Footprints
Norman A. Rubin
It was strange but true! That on one dark frosty night in the month of February during the reign of the Good Queen Victoria when Master James Brent, the right honourable mayor of the town of Dawlish, had a terrible vision that changed his life forever
Petty things irked him like the bit of green leaf stuck between her teeth when she smiled after eating salad.
Sands Sifting Into Infinity
Sands upon sands stretched out before David, even as something inside of him was sounding warnings. ‘These sands stretch out as far as the eye can see, and beyond that. I can’t see the end of them.
A Longboat Journey
And as he sat in the lake pushing with his oars, he heard splashing in the background. Powerful swish-swishes of large wakes were breaking around his canoe to rock it back and forth. 'Like I am in a cradle.’
Sister Mercedes & the Temple of Doom
I had a college professor who once said, “Catholicism gives you something infinitely complex to rebel against for the rest of your life.”
Call me Tama. Or if you prefer, Tamari. I added the suffix, “ri,” meaning King and Emperor, and because of his almighty power he gave a wizard the power to turn me into a tamari-coated (ferment soy bean paste) sunflower seed.
I’m under surveillance. Nobody believes me. I’m in a gigantic store, its hundreds of aisles: one could get lost here
Hopping on One Foot in Lotus Position
Jason figured his father Bret, an unrepentant gambler, won Maud in a high stakes poker game. “Hopping on one foot in lotus position is impossible, but the unexpected can happen, you and Maud might get together,” Bret said, as he waved goodbye to Jason.
My father taught me the trade ... Father knew nothing about my expectations. My mother ran away, thinking leaving would protect me. She couldn’t bear sleeping in the same bed with an ice pick man and chattering in her sleep about my ambition.
The Undiscovered Country
The scene stays with you when the after-image of a bright pair of headlights, heading straight for you, make you to blink. Blink once, twice, three four times, more times than you could easily keep count
Nadia could barely breathe she was so anxious. Her hands were shaking. Raul, squashed in beside her on the bus seat didn’t seem to notice anything unusual. But she’d already come to the fateful conclusion, after a few casual dates with him, that Raul didn’t really notice much...
Zapateado - Chapter One
She came bursting out of the door, careening noisily
off the far wall, staggering to a stop, dazzled by the
glare of the moon against the whitewashed walls.
Zapateado - Chapter Two
Leonard woke to find Jan gone. This was a new development. It was the tree. She was paying him back for the bloody tree. He thought she must have been damn quiet about it, but nothing more than that.
The Curse of the Nibelung
Sherlock Holmes v Germany
Winston put down his whisky and breathed a sigh of relief. With Holmes
back in the picture, England might yet be saved.
Mr K vs Ms F
Thank you. I don’t know what else to say. And thank you for sharing the journals with me. I’m sorry they have caused you so much grief.
“I’m coming! I’m coming!” Higgins shouted as he rushed down the dark hallway. Whoever was banging on his front door was hitting it hard enough to knock it off its hinges
Up On The Roof
I was taking mid-morning tea on the Terrace of the London Club in Barcelona when I met George and Clementia Courland. I had taken a copy of The Times from the newspaper racks in the lounge outside to read in the spring sunshine.
The Repercussions of Tomas D
Extract: Chapter Nine
The Imperial Culture Museum
The Making of a hero
Love and a pinch of nicotine
The city is silent tonight. Not asleep, but like a huntress, she prowls me. My footsteps on the pitch road are accompanied by occasional heavy breathing, rustling of the leaves in the dry, cold breeze, and a callous noise of a passing vehicle, breaking the rhythm of it all.
I admired him from afar. His voltage. Worlds tasting of plums, frost. I am left collecting possessions, ephemera, photographs. In fifteen years, I still want him to say that he remembers me.
Mushroom Soup for the Soul
It was not that she did not want to sleep with him or them. The Johannesburg people.
In the beginning, there was Emperor Wolf, Genesis, the family Golden. A voice in the first person. I, Tracy Golden crouched with the burden of the holidays and Christmas in my hands.
The Imagined Journal Entries of Sylvia Plath
The page frees me in a sense, in a way I can’t describe. I write and that’s my life.
I have to fall in love with someone else, marry someone else, perhaps he will have children, grown up children, so that me not having to have children won’t be such a tragedy and I won’t be in love with a ghost like I have been for the past twelve years
Young woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown
Men are cruel. Beautiful men are cruel. Intelligent men are cruel.
Learning from Genocide
She is old before her time. They all say that whoever they might be
The waves breaking against the shoreline. I am lying on my back. It is a pleasant day. All I see is blue. Blue passing me. Not a cloud in the sky. Not a silver lining.
Wash Away My Sins
We never did get around to building the swimming pool in our backyard that my wife and I often spoke about. We said it would be for the children. Instead the swimming pool could never be built
When My Brother Was Moses
I fall in love like stars assemble themselves, arrange themselves in a constellation.
Incredibly Closely Illuminated
‘I worry about you. You’re too young to die you know. Get out of that profession. It’s going to kill you...'
The Love Letters She Left Behind
And so I come to the lady in the water, the sinner’s biochemistry.
Go fishing somewhere else this is my territory.
Most of all out of anything in this world I want to become a better poet, a better woman, kinder, a better mother-figure. Odd that I feel maternal.
Munich Sheep in Winter
'A family is only perfect in a photograph' ...
More killing. It is a mystery. Love is like that. Pure with all of its rituals it holds us in a death-grip and I warm to it, my heart warms to it, warms to you Ted
They ate fried chicken on Monday but on Friday he liked a steak with his hot tea and chips. This was before I came along screaming blue in the face.
Please sit. Are you comfortable? In this space I am. It’s a kind of sanctuary to me. I grew up here. These rooms, walls, interiors. At the end of this interview I’ll take you my bedroom where I wrote all the time as a child.
Never too old to Kiss
The retirement community I live in advertises that it’s for active seniors. At Christmas, there are a lot of parties...
Uncle Pringle and the Bully
He’s a sixth-grader and a bully. He makes the smaller kids give him their lunch money
Lately I’ve been thinking about the time I lived in an apartment on Octavia Street in San Francisco.
My day usually begins with a slight jolt when I see myself in the bathroom mirror. Who is that bald old guy with the bumps on his head and the funny-looking ear
The Bad Neighbor
Frank Mancuso was awakened by a noise from outside. He sat up in bed. “What the hell is that?”
“Can I tell you something off the record?” he asked.
“That plant of yours don’t look too good, Roy. How’re you feeling?”
The Horrible Boss
I’ve always liked stories that had a truly bad villain, someone whom you could hate and rejoice in his (or her) comeuppance, because in stories the villain always gets it in the end.
The same scene was being played out in at least four other homes, he thought. Perhaps it was the same in all of the other 28 homes but he didn't know those people nor their families
La Venganza - The Revenge
If they had asked me I would have been able to relate the whole story from start to finish. I would have even been able to tell them the history behind the story, but no one asked me, nor did I volunteer.
Shut the door. Shut out the quiet light. Tell yourself to swim away from the tigers with arms pillars of smoke. One day I will find myself in a forest without men, without huntsmen and warriors, nomads and ghosts that burn all hours of the day and night
My sister is a fine thing. I do not take her advice. Her voice is a dark world. She is a siren, a star with her red rinsed hair, her polish, and her talons. She feels like Alice in Wonderland to me. She is that rare thing. She is a thing of beauty
We either hide from ourselves or from others. Kanav hid from himself as well as the world. His left hand’s small finger was very different from the rest of his nine fingers.
Smile Daddy Please!
I was born into the wild of this country. A wilderness of steel wasteland; sky and street shadow me like the white sun, yellow moon, star Hiroshima, moon Nagasaki people, thumbprints trapped on pages of long overdue library books
The Olympian Ghosts
Books have cogs, wheels (a mix of that). They tasted like berries on her mouth, to her wanderer’s soul. In her dreams her feet must touch land. But tonight all she can see is the river’s unbending wall.
The Life of a Bohemian
Pale are the ripples that curl on top of these drinks we are having. Mine tastes like dark chocolate (the expensive kind you can only get at specific shops). We’re sitting outside the benches of a restaurant, not rushing to get anywhere.
Just Another Love Story
So it was 14th February once again, and I woke up with this odd feeling that something strange was going to happen
Meeting at the Hide-Away bar & grill
Leroy B. Vaughn
A light snow was falling as Mickey Weldon left the diner and made his way down Madison Street.
The Rescue of Duke
Leroy B Vaughn
I was trying to make small talk with one of the men that hand washed our pick-up truck, when I looked towards something moving behind the chain link fence.
“Is that a rat,” my wife asked
The Bone Crusher
Leroy B. Vaughn
“Las Vegas, here I come,” Bill Heart said as he crossed the Nevada state line. He was one cool dude, he admitted to himself as he ran a comb through his slicked backed, sun bleached hair.
An Extract from 'Mean Tide'
Oliver arrives at his spooky Grandma's house with his cat, Flop
The Whale and the Wind
A fly buzzed into the kitchen through the gap in the window. It flew in on a breeze, out of the harsh sunlight of the day, and spiraled down to where the boy was sitting at the table.
We were at a bar, watching a 49er game. “We” were a gang of young guys I’d fallen in with because I knew one of them, Gil Wexler, from the Army. The 49ers scored a touchdown. Everyone cheered and one of the guys, Hugh Ballard, threw up his arms, then picked up my drink and finished it off. “Hey,” I said, “that was my drink.”
George Blake really didn’t like Valentine’s Day. Now that he was an old married man with two kids he wanted his life to go along smoothly and occasions like Valentine’s Day had a way of causing complications.
The Lady from San Diego
The phone rang. I was having my morning coffee. I picked it up and growled a hello. “My, my, Arnold, you sound so grouchy. I bet you haven’t had your coffee yet.”
“You were his friend, Tim. Who’s the other woman?”
As Tim Holcomb had expected, the split up of Nick and Sue Etten was the main topic of conversation at the Windsors’ barbecue in their Sacramento suburb.
She needs to get out of there. That is what he is thinking on the other side of a locked door, knocking sweetly and frantically, seething, sobbing, slouching, sulking.
The boat did not rock. It moved straight, so straight in fact that I became unsure as to whether the boat was harnessed to a pulley system beneath the clear black water.
My Narrator – Volumes 1 - 2 - 3
Recently I have become increasingly annoyed with my narrator. Her tone is soft and arcane yet somehow sinister. Her method of description is scrupulous and incidental
“What do you mean, middle distance?” asked Charlie Tiburon. He was standing at the bank of pay phones just outside of D block, wearing an orange jump suit
FOLLY, or Do you follow me
I just took a snapshot of hers. Sure, there were many people about but she was the only one with such an anticipating air. This I’d had on New Year's Eve when a child, then I went to bed looking forward to a miracle.
Upside down, Backwards, & Inside Out
We must have been out together that night, but I don’t remember what club we were at or which band was playing. All I know is that she left the show before I did.
I exit the hardware store with new work gloves in hand. I immediately slip them over my numbing fingers. The wind of the gloomy February afternoon picks up as I hustle to my pickup.
The Journals of Nabokov’s Lolita - if she had become a Writer - Abigail George
Losing pieces of your identity already in childhood.
No Chemical Toxins
Danae Phelps is going to wash that man right out of her mouth
As I washed my teeth, I imagined all the tiny bits of others I was scrubbing away with the frothy tooth-paste. How much of them would my bristles collect and wash away
Dream #1: Caught between a nightmare and a dream
I opened my eyes and blinked in the thick, heavy mist of the room. I couldn’t tell if it was day or night
The Secret of the Dragonfly: A Diary of Love at the Beach
Today, I have thoughts of separation and losses on my mind; the 10th year anniversary of my father’s death, and my youngest son leaving home. They are in the mirror when I put makeup on, and on my shopping list for skim milk and blueberries.
“Mr....?" comes a voice, pulling him out of his drink. He looks up to see a young man, twenties, with the whitest, straightest teeth he has ever seen. It looks like someone kicked 24 pearls straight down his throat. He has the sort of teeth that could close deals and open legs in minutes.
A month after his fiancé died, Kai started to make the phone-calls. He rang the people he knew first; the caterer, the florist and explained what had happened. The first call had been a mess, the second and third not much better.
A Travelers Tale
J West Hardin
I have never considered luck to be a driving force in my life. I’ve made my own way and have been satisfied with simple pleasures. I keep my head down and have never built up my hopes with unrealistic expectations...
The Northwest Angle: A Fairytale
George Sparling in Paris
Back in 1964, after the fairytale but before we saw the movie on the Champs Elysees and went to les toilettes on Bastille Day, we ran with crowds down the Paris street
The Fisherman’s Journey
Daily, but before sunset, the fisherman comes to the riverbank. And while the world is cradled within the gray arms of dawn
To the Milk Bar
Hurrying down the hardscrabble roads with wheelbarrows bumping along in front of them, they stop to gather up the stony remains of a broken cathedral.
Loneliness often drives me to ask for advice from others instead of relying on my own judgement. Being a woman does it too; I haven't developed the unshakeable confidence in my own opinion that seems second nature to men of my acquaintance
It was one of those utterly idiotic situations that you know you are relentlessly compelled to remain in and pursue even though you know full well that you should not be there at all. I knew my bicycle was in the lighthouse and that I had to get it back
Survival is rare if washed overboard; especially if far from land, without floatation, and in shark infested waters.
Diary of an insomniac
I want you to feel the cold like I do, weep like I do, make sense of the senseless world around you like I do. I want you to imagine the unbearable lightness, futility, looseness of things past holding you back
Running with Lithium
Head made of stone sound the alarm for here hallucinations abound like driftwood, a gull sweeping through the sky overhead. In the photograph her skin is as dark as dry blood as she stands in her white dress.
There are men in this world and then there are women (it doesn’t really matter what kind they are) and then there is me, the girl who has never completely grown up.
It was early Sunday morning, we were going hunting again. Father and I were cruising down a road in his 1959 Buick Super, the one with the white-wall tires and black leather interior, which always looked too shiny, too slippery, and too fast.
The old man lived in a house by the water near the Sound on a property adjacent to my middle school. His neighbors called him a recluse. Some said he was mad, others said he was disfigured. The kids at my school said he was a vampire.
Lawrence Frost ( Larry to you ) was the only child in a household where love and responsibility had always gotten along very well. He’d been born under the sign of Aquarius to an upper-middle-class family who had provided him with the right education which had buoyed him to success.
Arthur Kimball was not Audrey’s type. She knew it. He was half her height, and twice her age.
Pay attention when I talk to you man! You must do exactly as I say! Exactly as I say! You hear me man? Do exactly as I say!
T.C. heard the monologue drifting through the wind. The words had no meaning to him, they failed to alleviate the despair and solitude he felt in his heart.
Virginia Woolf in the Flesh
Before she began her day’s work Virginia Woolf began to write painstakingly yet in a beautiful old-fashioned script in her diary...
My friend Anna said she could bring out the worst in me. I knew that wasn’t possible because she’d never seen my bad side. Besides, in order to bring out the worst in me, she’d have to get inside my head and I knew she couldn’t do that
Mira used to draw pictures of the devil. When she wasn’t making sketches involving her vision of satan, she would draw monsters and witches or vivd scenes of flesh eating zombies. Mira wasn’t afraid of her creations and she wasn’t afraid of me.
The Theology Student
He had the tidiness combined with the carefully searching eyes so that I took him for a theology student.
For the Thousandth Time: I met her in a Bar
A friend of mine understands my hopeless romanticism, and also the self destruction that follows it, but she never understood the type of women I choose to pursue.
As green as he was in the use of firearms, Joe Begley had assumed he would complete the job in a single try. Instead the horse kicked pitifully and sprayed blood over his loafers but refused to die
The old pickup rattled and squeaked. The tail gate rattled like a prison sentence. Frank tossed a crumpled beer can through the driver's window. His mind was like a flap jack flipped over and over inside his head.
Annie’s mother wanted her to be a clown. She told Annie that she had red curly hair just like Bozo, the most famous clown of all, but she could still wear the red cotton candy wig if she wanted
What waits back home
“Do they know where he is?” Marty asked. He looked around and saw Marie looking far off into the hills.
The sun was already up in the sky and the earth was feeling its warmth. I was on the way from my village Guniagrahara towards the city.
Thanks I'm All Right
The dusky road gave way to a soulless night. He shouldn`t have knocked down the damn whiskeys and co, but couldn’t stop himself. Perhaps Charlie had wanted a challenge. Prove that he could make it home in his pick-up without ending up in a ditch with severed bones.
I am having fish and nothing else. Fish rubbed with salt and pepper into its belly. Food has become compensation for love, the phases of the moon, for a collection of short stories, for shame, for fantasy, for literary revelation
Burning in the rain
It is too cold to swim but she takes his hand. It is beach weather but it is still too cold to swim. She knows she is being brave at this point; even her rage is poetic as she feels the world, her world and the information in it blackening around her.
Wintering between Glaciers
For as long as I can remember I have talked to the dead, spirits that have passed on to the hereafter and in that aftertime I housed collections of every kind
Spades and Sofas
I never meant to understand that trashy train-wreck watcher with the dirty red hair…that fellow algae-drinking Appalachian good-for-nothing pea farmer named Alphonse.
Hanging By A Thread
“School is prison for the mind”; these were the words inscribed in blue ink across Col’s English exercise book in 1988. He seemed destined to be dragged through high school labelled a nerd.
Premonitions of angels
Just keeping on
Flecked with dizzying introspection, difficult, monstrous yet inspiring new things that bring you joy
She frustrates me like a blue fly I cannot swat, gut or trap.
We bleed the same in each line as if we have only felt love now for the first time. Summer is here no more. Once my father had a girl called June. He watched her turn to stone
Next morning a stunning girl who was in my lit class stopped me on the way out and asked, “Are you the one who hit somebody at a party yesterday?”
Another Drink or Two...
Paul Weiss went into the bar. It was seven o’clock on an unusually warm weekday evening in San Francisco. The bar, a neighborhood one, was almost empty; too early for the regulars.
On the way back to my office from the so-called oral exam, which I knew I’d flunked brilliantly, I stopped at the State Building Number 8 cafeteria for a cup of coffee. It was, I thought, the least I could do for myself.
In recent weeks I’d been thinking a lot about my secretary Jane Harper and now here she was. “Mind if I join you?” she asked.
I was a little surprised when our ten-year old son Greg suddenly developed an interest in the environment shortly after entering the fifth grade.
Paul Lerner was alone in his house, which was in a retirement community near Sacramento, California. It was mid-afternoon. The house was quiet. His wife Sally was off visiting her sister. The cats were sleeping.
New Year's Eve - A Little Past Midnight
People were shouting Happy New Year and yes, there was Nora, kissing him...
Paul Lerner opened his eyes, awakened by a bad dream in which something, he couldn’t remember what, was coming after him. He automatically reached his hand over to the other side of the bed although he knew nobody would be there.
The church lobby was crowded with people George Baker had been a popular guy. George’s oldest son was to give the eulogy. I was going to speak next. I had no idea what I was going to say
Interview with a Devil
...why don’t you just say that I come from a distant country and have lived in many lands.
The Bad Feeling
Paul Lerner awoke with an intense feeling that something bad was going to happen that day. He didn’t usually have such feelings. His approach to life, he knew, had always been cautious.
The Teen Years
It was after midnight. Bill Parker was in bed with his wife Amy. The phone rang. Parker picked it up and, still half asleep, mumbled, “Hello.”
Buying the House
Tim opened his eyes, saw sunlight slanting through the blinds and knew what he’d be doing that Saturday... searching for their first house in the suburbs.
A Truly Lousy Day
Paul Lerner awoke with a feeling of dread. Why? Oh, yes, D-Day, the dentist that afternoon. Only a check-up, but it didn’t matter. As a child of the Depression (the real one), who’d gone to cut-rate neighborhood dentists when a kid, drill buzzing away, no anesthetics, pain while helpless in the chair, going to the dentist would always be an ordeal.
The Hitcher of '46
It was 1946. He was 17, a high school senior. He’d been let off on the main street of a small Midwestern town. It was mid-afternoon. He hadn’t eaten since the morning.
The Path Not Taken
“Sorry, Paul,” said Bud Adams, “you didn’t get the job.”
It was the call Paul Lerner had been waiting for, although not what he’d been hoping to hear.
A Visit to Berkeley
Tim Holcomb drove around the edge of the UC Berkeley campus until he found a parking space, then walked back to Sather Gate, the school’s main entrance. He was early...
Since grade school, Tom Newberry knew he was a coward. It wasn’t anything he did but what he didn’t do.
Uncle Warren & Aunt Edie
“I’ll have a second helping of that,” said my Uncle Warren.
My mother put another pile of beef stroganoff on his plate. She knew this was his favorite and that’s why she’d made it. Uncle Warren had been invited to this dinner because my father wanted to ask him for a favor.
“Can I ask a friend from college over to the barbeque tonight?” asked Estelle at breakfast. The day was July 4th.
“What’s her name?” asked her father, Max Stein.
“Richard." She smiled, watching the family's response.
The Next-to-Last Station
Five years before, on Paul Lerner’s 75th birthday, his wife Sally had insisted on celebrating the event by having a big party in the ballroom of the Northern California retirement community where they’d lived for ten years. Paul hadn’t wanted such a big fuss made but hadn’t objected too strongly.
Uncle Pringle and the Kidnappers
“You’ve got to help me.”
The Last Loaf
My mother and that woman had been walking all day, all the way to the other end of the city. For a while they took the streetcar but it stopped before the bridge and they were told to get off and cross the bridge on foot.
A Lesson for Mr. Schubert
The high school band raised their instruments and Mr. Schubert’s baton sliced through the air. He closed his eyes and waited to bask in the glorious sound. Like being in the opera house again
A Rainy Day
It rained in Jerusalem. It rained in Bethlehem. It snowed somewhere in the mountains across the Sinai; for the rest … just scattered flurries.
The little boy stood on his toes as he peered in, his mouth hanging wide open. The mounds of silver coins reflected in his eyes, and his nose was upturned, pressed against the glass.
The Confirmed Bachelor of the Bombay YMCA
Michael Chacko Daniels
Headmaster D’Silva planted gold-rimmed spectacles at the tip of his long nose on a sultry, pre-monsoon day in 1957. His light brown eyes swept our classroom.
The Nature of the Universe
“By the way. I have a confession to make. I stole 1000 yen from your wallet the other day.”
The sky was hurtful to watch, a flat distension of grey steel threatening to hang over his head like a divine chastisement throughout the northern winter, eight months of unrelenting misery poisoning the hearts of England’s adopted derelicts.
Lagos State; Centre of Excellence. House 3, Adams Street, Lekki phase 1, Lagos. More like Centre of emotional Torture.
Zach Runs from a Great Man (extract)
Michael Chacko Daniels
When his stories cautioned him, “Go slow and easy, Bombay boy, you’ve had only six months in the mysteries of the Brahmins of Boiled Bean Town; they need to see that you value every moment with them,” Zach reassured himself, “No one will miss an unpaid trainee even if he never returns to his desk.”
Zach Runs from a Great Man
Michael Chacko Daniels
For days, Zach consoled himself: The Rajah and I have nuth-thing in common. Why would a man of his standing like my stories? A week later, at the Anglo-Indian bakery, he found a common bond.
“Hurry, that construction crew won’t be here all day. Cholo, stop playing with that makeup and look for jewelry.”
Annabelle walked into her tiny bathroom and stood before the full-length mirror with the same resignation of Joan of Arc waiting for the executioner to light a fire beneath her.
They had reached a phase in their relationship she called ‘cocooning.’ “Everyone in our age-range is doing it,” she had said to him with a smug, matter-of-fact tone in her voice that reminded him of the tone his mother had used when calling him to dinner
Jason Marks had found the note while browsing the shelves of his favorite used book store. The inscription had read: “To my one and only Valentine.”
Alexandra was still asleep in her room when the letter arrived. We had decided she deserved to sleep late on weekends to make up for the rigorous chore of waking up early to make the bus to school every morning during the week; something she did religiously, without our help.
Sirius was in search of fame and fortune from her writing... she was consumed by the thought of becoming the word; not so much the notion of the word becoming flesh and all that, but the notion of making a living via the written word
Idolatry. There’s really no other way to describe it. My behavior had reached the idolatrous phase. The shrine of sorts that I had created inside my walk-in closet was clear evidence.
“I want to exit life,” Eugene whispered in the direction of his wife. His words, however, were meant for some imaginary cell mate with whom he was conversing, convincing, or confessing, inside some remote region of his mind.
She's an illegal immigrant. One of the thousands and thousands of people who abandon mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends to look for a so-called better life
The Pelican Shakespeare
You look like you’ve seen a ghost! Oh, never mind, I see you’re wearing make up. I thought you’d decided not to audition for the part in the play. I didn’t think you had it in you...
Marge and John have returned from a night in the city where they have just attended a play...
Abby, of course, had her plans carefully laid out. She’d been working out her itinerary long, long before she was old enough, or had the required maturity (required by her parents and of society) to be traveling on her own.
‘Pineapple!’ Of all the eccentricities I have had to get used to in this new country, this is probably the most vivid: A crazy man sitting next to me in a coffee shop, suddenly shouting out ‘Pineapple’
The Monk’s Mission
I sit here as the aftertime explodes into life continued. Dirty hands from constant gardening, the bloody-everything of war on the television, in the air, in the newspaper, feet on the stairs, and a stampede in the house of childhood
The Depth Awaits
Pink watermelon flush in each cheek. Why didn’t you love me mum? Are you aware of the storm you created, rain pouring down, my heart feels as if red lace is wrapped around a stone, a canvas, the painter’s sketchbook.
When Omar and Kim met, their eyes locked and their only thought was the other. It was in Damascus, during introductions at this ‘social hour’
Requiem for a Hero - Tiresias
“Elas, Elas!” yells a workman in black, attempting to lead a donkey with wooden planks tied across its back and panniers on either side full of terracotta bricks.
I am My Yes
It was the middle of the afternoon, the middle of summer and the middle of nowhere. The train had rolled to a halt some time ago. An iron cobra too exhausted to crawl to shelter.
Joe turned the wheel hard to avoid the blue van that shot out of the hidden driveway. The van’s driver jammed on the brakes just in time for Joe’s Honda Civic to recover and sail by without broadsiding it. Cassie cursed and shot the van’s driver the finger
Marie Dunham's Practical Socks
Marie Dunham worked for a charitable organization that sent books to prisoners in jail. She was a quiet, tiny woman with meticulous habits.
Freud in the Fridge
A few weeks after the party the Sloops called up and made a big fuss of presenting me with a large arty print rolled tightly inside a long cardboard tube that they said was a belated house warming present.
The Boy’s Observations
His heart was pounding like the African drums in the documentary on Nat Geo he’d seen the day before. He’d broken the green vase. It had been his mother’s favourite.
Their padded feet touched the scalding sand for a brief second before they were up again, racing toward a destination they were not quite sure of ...