JUST STORIES

[THIS IS A STICKY POST DATED EARLY 2012. IF YOU LOOK AT THE POSTS BELOW YOU’LL SEE THE BLOG IS UPDATED REGULARLY WITH NEW STORIES.]

A collection of short fiction by me, some of it published elsewhere, nothing under anyone else’s copyright, except for one or two pieces (uncertain).

This is an amateur’s shot at reviving short fiction as pure yarn. Some of the stories are a touch serious or reflective, not so plot-heavy. But much of what you get here is just bedside popcorn, so be warned. Expect some all-artificial product with heavy plotting, twists, unmaskings and the like. In some cases, a story is just a rambling account; even then, I may try to incorporate a twist, through sheer stubbornness or bad taste.

I try not to treat characters as furniture or mere plot pivots, but they are sketched, rather than painted. I’m not afraid of using the now unfashionable adverb or other descriptive flourish – but let’s move that story along!

Lit-fic and creative writing may be fine things, but there is none of that to be had here. My prose will rarely be sinewy, luminous, supple, lucid, muscular, spare or taut. I won’t use the word “arc” at all, unless the topic is geometry. Things will merely drop, fall or tumble, they will not arc. I’ve got it in for “arc”.

In most of my gloomy stories, I contrive happy or uplifting endings, even when such seem impossible. That’s just to cheer everybody up, myself included. In accounts of villainy, bad guys won’t always get their comeuppance, but if if you wait till that last paragraph…maybe!

For those who find this undertaking to be dated and lacking a worthy purpose, you are probably right. If you find some of the stories downright pulpy, you are certainly right.

As a mercy to those who prefer more substance, even in their lighter reading, my intention is to stop after fifty entries, though that is an intention, not, as they say in Australian politics, a core commitment. [Note: began publishing more stories August 2013. See? Told you it was just an intention.]

***

In the historical category, two views of the French Revolution, by two if its shapers. Meet the Great Survivors…

THE PEACE OF CAREME

THE VERY DEVIL

A chain letter down the centuries…

HELOISE TO UNKNOWN

Overlapping our fantasy category, a venerable Jewish doctor admits his age…

WANDERER

A sleepy queen entertains…

THE PLAY

An unlikely encounter in post-war Rome, over bad carbonara.

THE GOLDWYN CODE

Romane memento!

ALTOGETHER ELSEWHERE

The Middle East, and all that.

WATER

Rocky life of a saint. Ouch.

LOCUSTA 1

LOCUSTA 2

LOCUSTA 3

LOCUSTA 4

LOCUSTA 5

LOCUSTA 6

LOCUSTA 7

LOCUSTA 8

LOCUSTA 9

LOCUSTA 10

LOCUSTA 11

LOCUSTA 12

It’s never over till…

THE LONG GAME

Speaking of the game…

BLOOD, IRON AND PHRASING

Thinking of redecorating…

A ROOM TOO LARGE AND COLD

***

In the category of crime and detection, an insurance expert has trouble unwinding on holidays, relates some favourite cases…

A LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY

AN ADEQUATE MURDER

CHILD’S PLAY

A master criminal roams the bush, visits the city. We don’t approve of him at all, however…

QUINLIVIN I

QUINLIVIN II

QUINLIVIN III

QUINLIVIN IV

QUINLIVIN V

QUINLIVIN VI

QUINLIVIN VII

Maigret comes to Australia. Really!

MAIGRET’S LONG REACH

Evil is not an Ikea purchase. My best opening sentence?

BITS OF BAD

Are you insured?

PURGATORY HILL

You will pay if you skip this one:

EVERYBODY PAYS

A twisty track:

THE GORGE

***

In the category of fantasy and the improbable, some ghosts…

QUO VADIS

THE MOTHER

CEMETERY LOOP

THE WEEPER

Strange entities…

DON’T SAY YOWIES

THE OLD F-S SCALE

FOAM OF THE SEA

Bent fairy tales…

LITTLE CLAUS AND BIG CLAUS, FAKE I

LITTLE CLAUS AND BIG CLAUS, FAKE II

THE LOST CITY

TARQUIN’S TRAVELS

Guardian angels: not the glamour job you’d think.

THE SECRET OF 63

That little opinion of yours…

QUALITY OPINION SUPPLIES

There’s even a time travel yarn. An easy, pulpy read. You won’t know where the minutes went…

SHE SLIPPED

God knows what this is about…

ME

Or what this is about…

SURE SCIENCE

My answer to Mr Chips…

PAST RUINED ILION

In the end, you just have to fight…

REXIE (Part 1 of 3)

REXIE (Part 2 of 3)

REXIE (Part 3 of 3)

***

Australian interest, bush first…

A BUSH ANSWER

DRAGON

CHASE

THE .22 CLUB

WOY WOY

TRIVIAL TALE

THE NAME OF THE BEAST

Some Sydney stories, some names changed, of necessity…

UNIQUE

EVEN IN ARCADY

ANGELS RUSH IN

EAST SYDNEY: A MEMOIR

STRESSING MOLLIE

Sydney in that Decade of Greed, and whatever you call the nineties…

DECADE OF GREED I

DECADE OF GREED II

MADE IN FRANCE

AUSTRALIA’S GREATEST SALESPERSON

Sports fans!

AUSTRALIAN PIETAS

Getting that perfect balance between no-life and no-work…

ESCAPE FROM KRYPTON

***

Stories modern and medieval, from the pilgrim ways…

THE COCK AND HEN

ANOTHER PILGRIM TALE

THE CATS OF LA ROMIEU

GLOBAL INGRATITUDE

NOT IN MY CONTRADA

DEVIL’S BRIDGE

TRUFFLES AND DEMONS

Novella length.  Come on, they can’t all be short…

THE THIEF OF SAINT FAITH

***

A miscellany of pulp: a bit silly, most with strong final twists, what you want…

THE WAY THESE PEOPLE THINK

THE RETURN OF THE SON OF REHASH

A GOOD JUDGE OF CHARACTER

REMNANT

FOR THE BIG ROUND THING

THE MEDIOCRE SAMARITAN

MEETING IN FRANCE

LONG TIME LISTENER, FIRST TIME CALLER

FAUX-PAS

***

Uh-oh. He writes poetry…

WRITERS BLOCK

CIRCULAR QUAY AT SIX

LOBSTERMAN’S PRAYER

POWER

DITTY ON THE SHORE

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF TEMPLES

***

The serial, Life of Saint Locusta, is now available as a read-through novel. It is the same text as published on this short fiction site in episodes, but arranged as ordinary chapters in chronological order. It looks like a single post with a single date on it, but if you scroll down you are likely to find new chapters from time to time.

Life of Saint Locusta: a serial.

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ON THE IMPORTANCE OF TEMPLES

Planless Sydney’s crammed; yet here, upon Queen’s Square,
A space, a thrust, a clean breath of brick above
The swarm in its dinning pit, its Pac-Man groove,
Its microbe life of hit, defend or veer.

Up Philip Street, Chicane parades in full,
So costly/cute in black. The Public Good
Troops by in grey, though dreams of rival blood
Down office walls are bright within his skull.

On King Street yelps Consumption, ageing cur,
Chews the air or gulps a coloured fly.
Meanwhile, all pigeon-pooped upon her square,
Victoria as corroded faith waits by…

Saint James, like fired bush, finds sun, sucks air,
And sings through every tingling brick O Purify.

1_St_James_Church_lighter

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DITTY ON THE SHORE

[My writer’s block persists, so I continue to pull old poems out of drawers. This piece is included in my story A GOOD JUDGE OF CHARACTER, which was an attempt at reviving the 18th century misadventure yarn.]

DITTY ON THE SHORE

Morning coining silver in the leaves,
Chain and tackle tinkling over water,
Galley clatter, seamen’s chatter, laughter,
Sun trembling on a plain of felted seas…

Sails are blooming on the harbour,
Boats glide on with little labour,
Just the merest fan from stirring breeze.

Under air where clouds have lightly strayed,
Colours deepen in the delicate ocean.
Life, awake at last to light and motion,
Breaks the perfect surface evening made.

Then leave each tiny task at hand,
Come down to the gleaming sand

And stroll with me until our morning fade.

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POWER

POWER

Stingray! Not content with jaw,
With attack/bite. No! Through just a pore
You thrill the groper’s bulk. A little point
Ignites the bang that knocks him out of joint.
The toxin spreads its flame…

Ink forms Bukharin’s name.

Oh you nerveless flat fish,
You shape-of-smile fanatic, how we wish!
How we wish for something stingray has…

For what the despot was!

ray

 

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LOBSTERMAN’S PRAYER

[Still can’t think of new plots. So it’s back to poetry.

Sir Thomas Beecham once explained to an audience that the reason he was going to conduct a certain major piece was because it sounded pretty. Whether on not I succeed, I am only interested in pretty sounds; so, if you bother to read my verses below, there is no subtext, and nothing for analysis. But I do hope the reader likes how the verses sound.]

LOBSTERMAN’S PRAYER.

Where my chains fade down to the ocean floor
Where the pots are shocked and rolled,
The fetid bait’s dull gold
Is shining out its lure
To stone-bred eyes, eyes born to brine and cold.

Leave these marble acres calm,
Calm as morning ever saw.
Permit the reeking lure
To work its gradual charm
On that strange life of rock and fissure.

Tomorrow morning, still as still,
Sun tingling over perfect bays,
I pray you, Aeolus: ease my ways ,
Then, God of Weathers, fill!

Fill, shake my hull with the rattle and scratch of the crays!

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CONTINUED WRITER’S BLOCK…SO ANOTHER POEM.

 

CIRCULAR QUAY AT SIX

Now, not a thought
To daylight spent,
To life and work
At their endless argument.

Not a thought to the night
With its drunken games,
Or intruding light
Of guilt-spun dreams…

Prints gone with the tide.

Vast new sheets
Of light unimpaired
Are fluffed out wide
Over glistening streets.

Huge lungs unseen
Suck ocean to harbour,
Drawing in train
The night’s sunken pain

To mean something elsewhere.

 

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