Spotting the hit

July 9, 2016 at 8:15 am | Posted in Short Story | Leave a comment
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Click pic to make big and bigger.

Click pic to make big and bigger.

The dribble of doom …

This little tree did it hard.

Drought killed it outside while critters gnawed within.

Curling bark and chomp trails tell the story.

Now a nice council person has sprayed the tree with the yellow spot of death.

Soon, a woodsperson will be along to cut it down.

Its replacement already incubates at bottom left.

To the right, what might have been.

Life’s tough.

Live it while you can.

Brought to you by Imagine Day the book.

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Only in red

July 8, 2016 at 8:54 am | Posted in Short Story | 2 Comments
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Only in red

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‘OK, so they didn’t have it in yellow!

‘What was I supposed to do: not turn up for work?

‘I don’t know why you blokes have to make such a big thing of it.

‘I honestly think the red provides an interesting contrast …

… ‘Fellas?’

 

Brought to you by Imagine Day the book.

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Girl power

July 6, 2016 at 7:38 am | Posted in Short Story | 4 Comments
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Girl Power Med Empire

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Girl evades giant Pac-Man.

Girl meets boy.

Girl starts BBQ fire.

Girl wins see-saw game.

Girl wins swimming competition.

What a fun, successful and totally empowering day!

Brought to you by Imagine Day the book.

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Seeing red

February 23, 2016 at 5:19 am | Posted in Short Story | 6 Comments
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Spin to win.

Spin out.

Guy and Jock were catching up over coffee.

It wasn’t real coffee, because they were 58 million kilometres from Melbourne.

And it wasn’t a real catch up, because they’d spent four years in training, 252 days on a dummy Mars run in a dummy spaceship and 126 days on a real Mars run in a real spaceship.

To say they knew each other well was a gross understatement. They weren’t merely used to living cheek by jowl, they were virtually in each other’s DNA.

Despite the best efforts of mission psychologists to match personalities, such extended intimate proximity can make a person twitchy. So double macchiatos halfway to the Red Planet were a no-no.

Jock looked down at Guy over his nano-wafer sippy cup. ‘So, how’re they hangin’, Man?’

‘Oh, you know,’ replied Guy with a shrug. ‘Same same.’

‘No shit?’

‘No shit.’

A single sphere of brown fluid escaped the straw. Jock trapped it in his meaty hand and mashed it into his mouth.

Guy watched him, noting that this was the seventy-seventh time he’d seen his crewmate do this. They really needed to upsize that cup for Jock’s big, coarse face. He took off his glasses and cleaned them on a napkin floating beside him. ‘How’s that video game coming?’

‘Finished.’

‘Already?’

‘Yep.’

‘That was quick.’

‘I’m getting better.’

‘How many’s that, then?’

Jock looked listlessly around the tiny dining quarters and sighed heavily. ‘All of ’em. And some of ’em twice.’

The geoscientist registered mild surprise. ‘You have come a long way.’

‘Yeah. But what am I supposed to do now?’

‘Shall I ask Control to send you a new game?’

‘You told me yourself; we’re too far gone. The files are too big. We can only receive text now – remember?’

Guy brightened. ‘Ah, yes. But that’s OK Jock; I’ll get them to send us more books!’

The flight engineer glowered. ‘You know damn well I hate books.’

‘Yes, but under the circumstances … ‘

‘Forget it. Always have and always will. Hated ’em.’

‘But what about that moon murder mystery? You seemed to like that.’

‘You read that to me in training. When I was sick.’

‘And?’

‘The drone of your voice sent me to sleep.’

‘Ah yes,’ said the smaller man. ‘How could I forget?’

The pair lapsed into silence. Guy began to look thoughtful. After a while, Jock noticed. He crushed the sippy cup to the size of pea and flicked it expertly into the reconstitution unit. ‘What’re you thinking about?’

Guy looked up quickly. ‘I was wondering if there’s any book you’d read.’

‘You mean apart from equipment manuals?’

‘Yes.’

‘You mean, read a book … for fun.’

‘Yes.’

‘No way.’

‘No?’

‘Never.’

Guy rotated pensively. ‘But what if there were one book.’

‘What sort of book?’

‘A murder mystery, set in space.’

Jock stretched his broad arms, which no amount of weightlessness had been able to atrophy. ‘Did we not just have a conversation about such a book?’

The cleaned glasses glinted. ‘Yes, we did. But what if this book were set in our spaceship?’

‘This one we’re flying in right now?’

‘Yes. Would that interest you?’

The broad arms folded. ‘A murder mystery.’

‘Yes.’

‘On our ship.’

‘Yes.’

‘Who gets murdered?’

‘Me.’

‘By whom?’

‘You.’

‘Why?’

‘Because I set you off.’

‘How?’

‘By bugging you about a murder mystery.’

Jock frowned as his brain caught up. ‘Not much of a f*cking mystery, is it?’

‘That depends’ said Guy.

‘On what?’

‘Whether you’ve noticed.’

‘Noticed what?’

‘The fact that I’ve been writing.’

‘You’re always bloody writing. You send the damn emails.’

‘Do you know what’s in those emails?’ Guy’s eyebrows arched.

‘No. Nor do I give a shit. I do every bloody thing around here and you send reports about it.’

‘So, you wouldn’t know if I’d been writing a book on the side.’

‘Have you?’

‘Maybe.’

‘And why exactly would you do that?’

‘That’s the mystery!’

Jock propelled himself to the snack machine. Not because he was hungry, but to break the annoying patter. He grabbed a tendy sandwich at random. Curried egg. Not his favourite. But he munched into it just the same. He glared at Guy through big bites. ‘Are you trying to tell me that Control have been happy for you to write a damn book instead of doing your work?’

‘Maybe they don’t know. Maybe I’ve done it during your sleep cycles.’

‘But they log every keystroke. What’re you writing it on – toilet paper?’

Guy paused, as if contemplating whether to proceed. ‘What if Control were in on it?’

‘In on what?!’

‘The novel.’

Jock laughed shortly. ‘Bloody hell, Man; have you been sniffing the coolant again?’

‘What if Control said it was OK for me to write a novel to entertain you when you ran out of computer games?’

‘Entertain me?!’

‘Yes.’

‘But why?’

‘To stop you thinking murderous thoughts.’

Jock stuffed the last of the sandwich down this throat. ‘Mate, if you keep this shit up, I’ll have more than murderous thoughts.’

Guy smiled. ‘Maybe that’s the idea.’

‘Oh for f*ck’s sake; are you deliberately trying to wind me up or what?’

‘Easy, Tiger; we don’t want to reach the climax too soon.’

Jock screwed up his face. ‘I really wish you wouldn’t use that word.’

‘It’s a literary term.’

‘Yeah, well keep it up and you may just climax on your own pancreas.’

Guy laughed heartily. ‘That’s very good, Jock. Do you mind if I use it?’

Jock pushed himself from the table towards the VacuJohn. ‘I’ll give you something better than that, Guy.’

‘What?’

‘The murder weapon.’

‘Really? What’s that?’

‘This dunny.’

‘How so?’

The flight engineer opened the cubicle door. ‘I estimate that, with a good seal and enough pressure, I can get your eyeballs out of your skull, down this chute and into the hydroponic radishes in time for dinner.’

Guy’s smile wavered. ‘That’s very … specific, Jock.’

‘It is.’ Jock gazed at his hands – opening and closing. ‘But I’ve been thinking about it.’

Gif by Lookang.


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The very bad detective

February 13, 2016 at 7:59 am | Posted in Short Story, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Nokia

Episode 2. Phone tap.

The dame composed herself and drew up her long legs.

The detective glanced at the scene.

‘Like what you see?’ she purred.

‘I’m not really into pastels.’

‘You think I’ll turn to water?’

‘I’d stick to acrylic for now.’

‘You make me sound so … fake.’

The detective put down his telescope and looked at her squarely, ‘Ms Sutherland, may I inquire again what you’re here for?’

She bridled and tossed her red mane. ‘You received my SMS, I assume?’

‘When did you send it?’

‘This morning.’

He pulled out his Nokia. ‘I got something this morning, but it didn’t display.’

‘That’s odd … ‘

‘Not really; it’s a very old phone. Did you happen to send an attachment?’

‘Yes. A photograph.’

‘Ah, there’s the rub.’

‘It wasn’t very big … ‘

‘Doesn’t matter; I can’t display any kind of file.’

‘And you call yourself … a detective?!’

He stood and pointed. ‘I’ll ask the questions here. OK?’

The dame snorted. ‘Do you even know what network you’re on?’

The detective coloured. ‘I’m not sure: something “G”.’

‘2G or not 2G?’

He threw down the bumper fun book. ‘That is a question!’

‘Someone’s gotta ask the tough ones.’

‘Well, I didn’t get your damn message.’

The dame fished in her handbag and caught up a rhinestone-encrusted tablet. ‘Here, take this!’

It slipped through the detective’s fingers and flopped onto his desk.

‘And what am I supposed to do with this?’

‘Oh, for God’s sake!’ The dame grabbed the tablet and flicked it on. ‘There!’

The detective peered cautiously at the image which had miraculously appeared on the hitherto blank screen. ‘Extraordinary!’

She rolled her eyes and counted to seven. ‘Believe me; you’ll get used to it.’

Gingerly drawing closer to the magical device, the detective examined the photograph it displayed. ‘Who’s the suit?’

The dame adjusted her tresses and drew a long bow. ‘The Chief Ommissioner.’

‘What?’

‘The Chief Ommissioner.’

‘I heard you the first time.’

‘Then why did you say “what”?’

‘I was expressing surprise.’

‘At what?’

‘What?’

‘At what?!’

‘What what?’

Her eyes fell to a paper spike and stayed there. ‘At. What. Were. You. Expressing. Surprise?!’

The detective fumbled for his telescope and rounded on her. ‘His title.’

‘Chief Ommissioner?’

‘Yes. Chiefly the “Ommissioner” bit.’

The dame snatched the telescope. ‘I see.’ She looked to the window and spied a bar. Next to it, two more. Beyond these, a tavern. ‘Let’s get outta here; it’s not safe.’

‘What do you mean?’

She regarded him narrowly over the paper spike. ‘Come with me and I’ll explain everything.’

‘But, I hardly know you! … And I’m really bad at maths.’

Stay tuned for Episode 3.


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Your smallest kindness will keep me going strong. With many thanks, Paul.


 

 

 

 

 

The very bad detective

February 12, 2016 at 7:01 pm | Posted in Short Story, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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The Very Bad Detective

Episode 1.  Nothing like a dame.

This is a story about one of those detectives with the hat and the fan and the venetian blinds.

Except this detective had wooden blinds from Freedom Furniture. The string had snapped and the slats slid about like ice floes on a warming sea.

He’d been meaning to get them fixed, but it wasn’t worth the candle for Victory Blinds to come out. Nor did he feel he could repair them himself. Freedom Furniture, of course, had laughed in his face. He should never have Skyped them.

As he pondered his inadequacies, a dame entered his office unannounced. By this device, he divined she wasn’t a real dame, like Joan Sutherland. Also, this one was alive. A dead giveaway.

‘The name’s Sutherland’, said the dame.

The detective winced. ‘That sounds like trouble.’

‘How do you mean?’ she inquired archly, flashing her soles.

The spittoon rang: the detective let it. ‘I mean, people will think your name’s Joan.’

‘It is Joan! How did you know?!’

‘Listen, lady; it was bound to happen eventually. I get a lot of dames in here.’

She withdrew an e-cigarette and inhaled deeply. ‘Notwithstanding that, I think it’s a remarkable coincidence.’

‘You’re right; you wouldn’t read about it.’

She exhaled noisily. ‘I suppose you think I’m vapid.’

‘I didn’t before, but I do now.’

The dame began to bristle. The detective replaced the tack he’d been toying with and took another.

‘So, what brings you here, Ms … Sutherland?’

She pouted. ‘It’s what brought me here that’s more to the point.’

‘Has anyone ever told you you’re living in the past?’

The dame glared. ‘All the time. So what? I’m not into this being present crap.’

‘You sound tense.’

She crossed the room. ‘I may be about to be.’

‘Well, none of us are perfect.’

‘Is.’

‘Pardon?’

‘”None” is singular.’

‘Remarkable!’

‘That too.’

‘I think I’ve heard enough, Ms Sutherland.’

The spittoon rang.

‘Aren’t you gonna get that?’

He picked up the offending item. ‘This belonged to my mother.’

‘It’s so shiny. I can see my face in it.’

‘You have her eyes.’

The dame laughed coarsely. ‘Yeah, well, she signed the form and I got lucky. I get a ton of compliments on these peepers. Pretty much every day. You could say I’m in the midst of an eyes epidemic.’

The tack drew blood. ‘I don’t like your tone, Ms Sutherland.’

‘I’m quavering.’

‘Very funny. So, what brought you here?’

‘Mind if I take a seat?’

‘It’s a rental.’

‘I won’t be here long.’

‘I get that feeling too, sometimes … especially at night.’

The spittoon rang out.

Episode 2. Phone tap.

 

 

 

 

 

Bondage Bear – A True Story

December 14, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Posted in Short Story | Leave a comment
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The leather was dark and fragrant …

It was a slow, hot day in the shop. Bec and Feisty waited for customers. She was used to it; he was out of his mind with boredom.

Bec wandered to the street display and retrieved the belt basket, which was almost empty. Feisty looked in and spotted a dozen spare keepers. He pushed two onto his fingers.

The leather was dark and fragrant, crossed with stout twine stitches bitten, no doubt, by some impoverished piece worker.

‘Cool loops,’ enthused Feisty, who was very easily amused.

‘Yeah.’

‘Why’d they send us so many spares?’

‘Dunno.’

‘Hmmm.’

To Feisty, everything had a message – sometimes obvious, often oblique. The best were those he invented: ‘omens of the highest order’. He resolved to divine the message of the spare leather loops.

‘I’m going to divine the message of these spare loops, OK Bec?’

‘Go for it.’

The toilet was even hotter than the shop. Tripping an angry dispersal of fat blowflies, Feisty dropped his jeans and sat in the oppressive fug. Perspiration dribbled down his back. A zephyr checked itself at the window.

Why send spares? Those poor buggers only make eight cents a day. Quality control? Sabotage? The desire to create an illusion of prosperity in the minds of Westerners. Now there’s a theory!

‘Additional loops? Of course Sahib, we have many, many loops; a veritable cornucopia of leather fragments for your utility and pleasure. Here, take some! Take 12! And go with God…’

Feisty daydreamed until, too soon, it was time to return to work. He’d determined the reason for the loops’ arrival. Now, how best to employ them?

A stock cabinet stood at the top of the stairs. As he chose paperweights to replace the morning’s sales, Feisty spotted a teddy bear jammed at the very back of the lowest shelf. An old, old stock item. Reverently he withdrew the bear and took it downstairs.

Bec moved the limbs and cocked the furry head. ‘Yeah we got ’em years ago, but they didn’t go. We had a sale.’ She sat the bear on the register. ‘They’re from India.’

Feisty regarded her narrowly. ‘India? Are you certain?’

‘Yeah; says on the tag. See?’

Feisty clutched the bear dramatically, fingers plumbing humble kapok filling. Then he took a leather loop from his pocket and examined it minutely. ‘Do you know what we’re going to do, Rebecca?’

Bec fanned herself with a greeting card and grinned past her chewy. ‘I cannot begin to imagine.’

‘We’re going to use two of our spare belt loops to create a wondrous product from this unpopular plaything. And do you know how we’re going to do it?’

‘Nuh.’

‘Watch!’

Feisty seized the bear and threaded its arm through a loop. Crooning with satisfaction, he slid it to the bear’s shoulder where it rode snugly amid the fur. With mounting enthusiasm, Feisty repeated the process with the other arm, then stood back and gestured wildly.

‘Behold, Bec! I give you… Bondage Bear!’

Bec snorted, first in disbelief, then with reluctant approval. The tawdry gewgaw had indeed changed into something novel. She picked it up and felt the… arm bands. A butch teddy with a fetish.

‘Hm. Hm. Very good.’

The weekend ground on. Feisty’s interest in Bondage Bear waned. But not before he’d explored every positional permutation. On finding the composite discarded by its creator, Bec put it in a dim corner and forgot about it.

**********

It was a slow, cool day in the shop. Bec and Feisty waited for customers. Both were used to it. A strange man entered – strange even by the shop’s standards.

He towered over the counter, bones prominent at selected chakras, jester suit tattered under diaphanous sarongs. His feet were curled and petrified.

He greeted the shop assistants with rabbit teeth and one good eye, while the other took a crazed, milky inventory. Then he made for the dim corner and retrieved Bondage Bear.

‘I’ve just got to buy this.’

Bec looked sharply at Feisty, but on seeing him stunned, held fire.

Feisty recovered quickly, to enjoy the rarest of retail triumphs. ‘Will that be cash?’

‘Yes thanks.’

Bec shook open a plastic bag.

‘Lord no! Bondage Bear must be wrapped thus!’

So saying, Feisty put the bear into a kneeling position and trussed the arms behind it with a rubber band. The customer nodded. Feisty snipped a corner off the bag and tied it firmly over the bear’s head with raffia. Bec watched, mouth agape.

The strange man placed his purchase carefully inside a knapsack and beamed. ‘I’m so pleased I found this.’ And he swept away into the dusk.

Bec and Feisty gazed after him.

‘What, in God’s name, is he going to do with that thing?’

‘It’s not a thing, Bec. It’s Bondage Bear. Don’t worry, his mystical hand-tooled Indian arm bands will protect him.’

‘Bullsh*t; our belts are made in Sydney.’

Feisty froze, a horrified expression on his face. ‘…I see.’

Bec glanced at her watch. ‘It’s five-thirty; better bring the stock in.’

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Imagine Day

August 29, 2009 at 1:07 am | Posted in Short Story | Leave a comment
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Imagine Day Title Small

Feisty gripped Fon’s shoulder excitedly.
‘Choose a day!’

Feisty and Fon were power walking along Melbourne’s Yarra River. It was a hot summer Saturday, nearly lunchtime. Having trekked from Armadale, Fon was feeling they’d bitten off more than they could chew. Fitzroy was still five tortuous kilometres away.

Feisty decided to distract Fon from her cruel blisters and protesting calves. He pointed at a tall poplar tree.

‘Look, Fonnie; see how that branch is dying off?’

Fon raised her sweat-soaked brow and squinted into the blinding sun. ‘Yeah.’

‘Imagine being a leaf on that branch, watching the dieback heading toward you. Chances are, you’d forget all about the view and how groovy it was to be a leaf. You’d be consumed with the fear of death. Paralysed. Unable to think of anything else.’

‘I guess so,’ replied Fon wearily.

‘The thing is,’ continued Feisty with mounting enthusiasm, ‘poplars are deciduous. That leaf is going to fall off months before the dieback gets to it. When it goes, it’ll have spent its whole life worrying about something that never posed a true threat.’

Fon concentrated on the baking asphalt of the bicycle path. ‘Uh-huh.’

Feisty beamed at the blue sky, pleased with his keen eye for nature and powers of philosophical interpretation. The couple walked in silence for a time.

‘Fonnie.’

‘Yes, Feisty.’

‘This is a great walk, isn’t it?’

‘It’s a bit longer than I thought it would be.’

‘Sure, but it’s great to be out, isn’t it?’

‘Yes. It is.’

‘Imagine if that whole freeway were covered in those dimpled concrete tiles they use in car parks.’

‘What?’

‘You know, the ones that have little recesses, like egg cartons. You lay them down and cover them with topsoil. Then you sow grass. When the grass grows, the concrete foundation stops cars from sinking into the earth or tearing it up. Beats the sh*t out of a normal car park surface.’

‘Oh, yeah. I know the ones.’

‘Well, imagine if the whole South Eastern Freeway were paved with them. Imagine the extra oxygen. It’d look great. Man, it’d be fantastic, don’t you think? Fonnie? Why don’t they do that? What’s your theory?’

Fon regarded the noisy freeway. Her poorly fitting sandshoes squelched with perspiration. A relentless trio of flies strafed her face, effortlessly evading the angry swish of her arms. Her armpits chafed and her head throbbed. She drew a deep breath.

‘Feisty.’

‘Yes baby?’

‘Can we please stop imagining things until we get home?’

Feisty looked at her, surprised and hurt. His brow furrowed. ‘Why?’

‘I’m really hot and tired. I find it hard picturing all the things you describe. Especially since you’ve had me doing it all week.’

‘I have?’

‘Yes. On Monday we had the farting biting cat, as well as bride-sniping from that penthouse next to the Fitzroy Gardens. On Tuesday, it was the slate tiles from Mars and the clothing that hurts people if they don’t look good in it. On Wednesday I had dinner with Debbie, but as soon as I got home, you told me all about the piano-wire banana lounge that slices people into bits if they don’t lie on it properly. Then, on Thursday, Steven came over, and both of you went on for ages about camouflage bean bags getting lost in the garden. Finally, yesterday, after a really sh*tty week at work, I came home to your idea for a dining table with a built in hologram unit that can record and replay the events that occur around it.’

‘I see,’ said Feisty, crushed. He was easily crushed.

‘It’s not that I don’t enjoy your ideas, baby,’ explained Fon carefully. ‘It’s just that it’s easier for you to invent them than it is for me to picture them. And when, like today, I’m hot and tired and thirsty and uncomfortable, I don’t really enjoy the experience as much as you obviously do. Do you understand what I’m trying to say?’

‘Yes,’ mumbled Feisty, sulking.

Please don’t think I want you to stop imagining stuff. I don’t. I just need a breather now and then.’

‘So you don’t want me to stop completely?’

‘No, baby. Of course not. I love your ideas. I wish I could think of them myself. Well, not all of them; some of the stuff you come out with is pretty weird. All I’m saying is that I can only handle your imagination in small doses.’

‘I see,’ said Feisty, recovering. ‘What if we had one day per week when I could tell you all my sh*t? I could save everything up and hit you with it on the weekend, when you’re relaxed.’

‘That could work.’

‘Yeah? You wouldn’t mind?’

‘No, not at all. I’m just too tired during the week. If you gave me a break for six days, I’m sure I’d be fine on the seventh.’

Feisty gripped Fon’s shoulder excitedly. ‘Choose a day!’

Fon thought carefully. ‘What about Saturday?’

‘Does that include today?’

‘No. I’m too hot. We’ll start from next Saturday, OK?’

Feisty was momentarily disappointed. They were approaching a pontoon bridge. He’d already invented the troll who lived beneath it and was bursting to tell.

🙂

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

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