(1100 words) It was evening on a cold, windy New Year’s Eve as Stephen Stein made his way along the drab downtown high street. There were few people about and the shops were closing or closed. He caught a glimpse of himself reflected in a dark store window. A wild mop of straggly grey hair, a thick beard of matching grey with touches of white, a black greatcoat, stained and smelly, and heavy brown boots, scuffed by hundreds of hours of tramping the streets. Stein adjusted an incongruous chequered yellow scarf at his neck, brand new, it even had the price tag – thirty pounds. He’d found it in a bin, put out for collection. Now he rolled it and put it in a pocket in case someone had second thoughts and came looking for it. “Hi Stevie boy, Happy New Year!” It was Robbie, the owner of the laundromat, a genuinely kind-hearted guy and one of the only people in this small town full of small-minded people who’d give him the time of day. Stein pulled his gaze away from the window and his eyes glinted at the twenty-pound note held out to him. “Get yourself some whisky on me.”
New Forest Frolics
1750 words “Funny things can happen on caravan holidays,” I said. “Well, she’s only going with Jack and Joanna, oh, and Bob of course, he’ll look after her, it’s just...” Bob was Sally’s brother, my grandson, Jack was a schoolfriend and Joanna his sister, all quite ‘sensible’, admittedly. “The other boys on the campsite. I know,” I said, “they’re randy sods at that age. They’ll do anything to get girls into their caravan, get them on the wine, and before long the lasses’ll be dropping their knickers!” “Don’t hold back mum!” laughed Trudy. “Look, make some tea, there’s something I need to tell you...” I replied.
(600 words) Traditional psychology can’t explain it. Well, they try to, they say it’s some kind of amnesia. I know it’s not, but they won’t listen to me. I look in the mirror and the person I see is not ... me. It’s like I've been put in someone else’s body, not a bad one mind, and given a few sheets of A4 to learn about his history, life and work. So when Susan, my ‘wife’ comes to me and says Frank’s on the phone, I don’t have a clue who she’s on about, he wasn’t on the A4 sheets.
Salmon and Soul
Tunsgate Green stood, thinking of Ruth back in the cottage, typing away at her wretched manuscript. Some romantic nonsense, mainly to make up for the total lack of it in their lives, he imagined. Once she’d been young, vivacious, sexy even. He snorted. Hard to imagine that now! Their love life currently resembled this salt marsh - dead flat.
He gazed over the dry beige marshland to the distant level horizon, the faintest deep blue ribbon set against the pale blue sky indicating the start of the North Sea, next stop the fjords and islands of western Norway, 400 miles away.
My Name is Ian Z. McPhee
It was incredible and completely unexpected; the sensations as our fingers touched was electric; my heart skipped a beat and I momentarily forgot to breathe. Her fingers intertwined with mine and she twitched her lips in that funny way she used to, before kissing me tenderly. I gazed into her dark round eyes and knew it was love - deep, sacred love.
Full Fathom Five
I stood at the railing, gazing out to the haze of the distant level horizon. The sea was calm, low deep blue waves undulating slowly, barely hinting at their potential ferocity. Ahead and far below me was the bow of the cruiser, where people, ant-like, sat by an unusually empty pool. I sighed and thought of Janie. Bitch! We’d had problems, sure, who doesn’t? But her leaving had come as a shock.
It was Valentine’s Day, of all days, and I’d ordered some Adrenaline roses, her favourites. Unexpectedly, a silver BMW had pulled up, and I'd recognised Andy, her gym trainer, his dyed-blond hair swept over in an attempt to look youthful. Obviously it had worked. Janie appeared. “Look Steve, I don’t want a scene. I’m leaving. Me and Andy … I’ll be in touch about my things.” She’d looked embarrassed and hurried out, clutching her sports holdall, before I’d had time to reply. I watched her get into the car and kiss him. They drove off without looking back. Just then the flower delivery van had turned up. I’d taken the roses and thrashed them to pieces in the back garden with tears streaming down my face.
Love, Let Us!
A short poem for Valentine's day - - - - To purchase the stories on To Cut a Short Story Short up to December 2018 in paperback, Kindle eBook, and audio-book form, and for news on new titles, please see Shop. If you are interested in joining a fortnightly 500 word story group please contact … Continue reading Love, Let Us!
The Downfall of British Journalism
Nearly one year since it was first published, another chance to read my most popular post ever. (500 words) Journalism in Britain, impartial investigative journalism, ended on May 3rd 2007, the day our media began saturation coverage of an event that occurred in Portugal. A little girl named Madeleine McCann, aged three, had disappeared from … Continue reading The Downfall of British Journalism
Love, Let Us!
- - - Don’t forget to check out some of the other stories on my blog. There are over 120! – If you are interested in joining a fortnightly 300 word story group please contact me and I’ll send details. - N.B. This post was originally published on 14th February 2016 and republished on 14th February … Continue reading Love, Let Us!
Ringing the Changes
(1750 words) [original 'publication' date Mar 1st 2016] I Leaving the dreary wet concrete of London behind me, I zoomed along the motorway on my way down to Sussex. It felt great without Lucy moaning that I was going too fast. Sod her! In warm sunshine, I drove along Poverty Lane into the village … Continue reading Ringing the Changes
Teeth Can Wait
(500 words) [original publication date 25th March 2016] My umbrella is up, but cold, angry drops somehow find their way down my neck. A white minibus trundles into view and I signal, feeling rain on my hand. The bus pulls over. It’s Lilly, my favourite driver. “Hello Julie, how’re you?” she says, smoker’s teeth smiling … Continue reading Teeth Can Wait
- (500 words) [original publication date 29th July 2016] Jason Christopher Smith regarded the text message. ‘Jason, please to come EXACTLY 30 minutes early for a special preview! Lucifer.‘ His phone indicated 7.29 p.m. Perfect! He pressed the lift button. Lucifer was the nickname of his brother-in-law, Luciano De Ville. Lately the zany chef had gained … Continue reading Lucifer’s Kitchen