Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A famous person

I am minding a market stall for a friend while she goes away to eat a sandwich in peace. She has had enough of people bargaining and walking away when she gives in. But she has paid for the day and will stay until the bitter end.
The trader beside me tries a different approach. When the price is ten and he is offered five he says you can have it for twelve. This has the effect of confusing people no end.
When they offer a lower price he proposes a higher one. He is selling steadily to bewildered people and I try the same approach on behalf of my absent friend.
A young woman with an expensive hairdo approaches with a lap dog male companion. His function is to slaver.
She seems to think I should know her. I smile and nod and say it is nice to see you once more, though I don't know who she is. I get ready with pricing.
She picks at small low-priced items that are smaller than her very attractive finger nails.
A tight smile quells my hopeful salesman's patter. I am to be silent. Fair enough, it could be a big sale.
She hands me a tiny thing valued to sell at two and waits for me to wrap it for her. She declines to bargain. Her very best friend insists on finding a paying coin in his tight trouser pocket.
It's a marker stall, so my friend does not provide wrapping. I hand the purchase back to the woman before me with the expensive hairstyle and well-dressed male companion.
I say thank you. Will there be anything else?
Disconcertingly, she departs, with a flounce.
Next evening she is on television declaring something open. People mob her.
I wonder who she is?

Storytelling here
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Winning one for the jumper

A man asks me if I want to buy a frog.
I say no thank you, for I was always taught to be polite; no matter how strange the conversation.
He says it can jump farther than most frogs. If there was an Olympics for frogs this one would win first prize, he says with conviction.
A gold medal, I correct him as I wonder why there are no Olympic events for animals without humans on their backs?
What use is gold to a frog? he demands as I feel myself being sucked into his world of alternative realism.
I say again: I do not want to buy a frog.
What about a share in a frog, he says, we could form a syndicate and hire a better trainer for him; we could get lots of endorsements for him once he wins the Tour de France and we could charge stud fees?
I ask where he found the frog, in a mad grasp for the safety of sane discourse.
He found me. It was meant to happen, he says. I was out on Saturday night and on Sunday morning when I awoke in a field the said frog was sitting on my belly.
What did he say?
Frogs can't speak beyond a croak on Sunday mornings, he says and somehow I feel I have lost something in his estimation, though what it is I cannot say.
I'll find someone else to invest he says, asking for bus fare to the far side of the city where a man lives in a small house who knows about racing frogs, he says.
I part with some coins and we part from one another, forever, for now.
I cannot shake the feeling that I have missed a wonderful investment opportunity.
A world champion jumping frog.

Storytelling here
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Writing money in three months

I agree to teach some people how they might get started in writing, maybe even be published.
I go around to see why each person is here. Each has a torrent of memory awaiting release.
Then we come to Alice; that is not her name, it's in alphabetical order in the interest of confidentiality.
For Alice is broke and would prefer nobody, outside of we strangers, to know that. We nod, uncertainly, and wonder who we might tell in a way that might make for a sane recounting of what she says next.
She wishes to write a novel. Fair enough, we nod in agreement.
That will make a lot of money in a short space of time.
By when?
In three months, otherwise she loses her house and her apartment in Portugal.
She took a second mortgage on her home to buy an apartment in an up and coming area that neither came nor arose higher than the hallucination of both buyer and seller.
Now, she cannot sell the apartment nor rent it and her unpaid home mortgage means she will have to quit her nice house, anytime soon.
I try, with the help of the assembled concerned citizens, to say it might take as long as four months to get this rich.
Has she written a novel? No.
Stories, essays, articles, letters to the editor, a shopping list, all draw the same enthusiastic and implacably negative response.
The day wears on, I finish to polite applause from most of the people. I leave but overhear Alice on a phone saying the day has been no good.
They will have to buy shovels and dig up the back garden, she says.
She smiles silently at me as you would to an idiot to assure that all is well.

Storytelling here

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Blowing steam

A man on television is showing me a steam cleaner that will clean most things in my home, he says.
I could care less; but I notice he is not trying to sell it to me. He simply wants to share the wonderful things it does.
The machine is shaped like a large lozenge on the end of a long stick. It is light green in colour. I expect this is to show it is environmentally friendly; but this is not mentioned in any way; so I understand this is a subtle message I am to assimilate.
I pay attention; there may be questions, later, for the free draw.
This machine spews steam out below a cloth underbelly which, in tandem, makes an unbeatable team when it comes to cleaning the cess pit that is your home.
Steam loosens and cloth gathers it up, like a maniacal mother in a teenager's bedroom.
That would be enough I expect for most people; but this man seems to be under-appreciated in his own marriage for he then pulls off the lozenge itself; a bit sternly I felt, and reveals a trade secret.
This extraordinary invention is but a pipe with steam coming out of it in a jet.
For some reason not apparent to me, he then enters a bedroom and proceeds to clean the pillows on the bed with the steam jet.
I lose interest around there for it is no business of mine to see a grown man disintegrate on television holding a large lozenge in one hand and a steam jet in the other while contemplating an empty bed.
He leaves it to the rolling credits as to how we might buy it; for by then he is past caring.
As I am myself. Even for a free draw.
Storytelling here
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What did he say about me?

I meet a man I know who asks me where I have been.
I say that yesterday I was working with Sam Browne.
He asks what Sam Browne said about him. I say: he said nothing.
Next day he asks me the same question. He wants to know, with more intensity, if Sam Browne mentions him in conversations.
I tire of interrogation and say, untruthfully, Sam says hello. This satisfies him, for now.
The following day, I walk along and though I try to avoid him, he asks what Sam Browne says of him today?
I am finished working with Sam Browne so feel it safe to respond that Sam Browne says he is a wise and a good friend.
He is pleased with this and says he knew that all along. He says he will visit Sam to say hello back to him.
I am content that I have removed my interlocutor from my hair and walk on.
He calls me back. I return and silently await the question
Where does Sam Brown live, he asks, and what does he look like?
I say: he looks like you so much he may be your twin.
He goes off to seek himself, leaving me alone.

Storytelling here
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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A cast of thousands

Cineplexes are no fun at all. The inventor of multiple screen cinemas has missed the point. People do not go to the cinema to see a moving film with sound and colour and to eat overpriced popcorn. They go to be with other humans in the dark and to listen to a story and see actors play the story out before them.

Once, our local cinema ran continuous programmes with no lights up in between for shuffling bodies to stumble out of or move in to the rows of seats.
You arrived with half a torn ticket stub, sat down to watch the end of the film, waited for it to start once more and pieced the story together on your way home with your date, who thought you very wise.
The fun part was when the cinema left out a reel to shorten the programme so the night could end before midnight. Then you filled in the story for yourself, your own bespoke movie with film stars in it under the direction of your mind.
The bad times were when the over-enthusiastic projectionist put the reels on in the wrong rotation, between pints. People were killed half way through in a spectacular gun-battle and then, undead, rode into town to parlay before the shooting began.
No point in complaining to management for you would be earmarked as a troublemaker from then on and watched by the usher with the torch in the dark, who really only wanted to go outside for a smoke.
Computerised ticketing with credit card booking and films done to death by focus groups before you ever see them is not the answer. Where now the "cast of thousands" when computer generated images abound?
Bring back anarchy and mayhem, I say. The story deserves no less.
Storytelling here
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I don't remember that

I tell a story at a funeral. Not the actual internment; but at the tea and sandwiches afterwards.
I wonder aloud, as they carry a smallish coffin in to the church, if they measured for a man with no legs or if it is a low-cost coffin that his estranged family has ordered?
His legs were amputated, one at a time, to halt a medical condition. It did not work.

To make amends for any offence caused, I tell a humorous story about a pair of neighbours of his. Dead Woman Haunts Ball Player is in my book. The stories therein are based on real people and real happenings. These people lived beside the recently deceased man with no legs and a small coffin.
At my table are Frank and his wife, two others, and a single man. All smile for they remember the woman with fondness.
The man says he does not remember. I wonder who he is and explain who the lady was and who the terrified boy was and still he shakes his head. Frank asks me to tell the story once more.
I tell how the woman threatens to haunt the boy if he does not stop bouncing a ball on the roof of her house. She dies that night and the terrified child screams for three nights until his mother takes a hand.
Still no reaction from the man. I ask what his interest in the exact memory of the story might be?
He says he was that boy and can remember none of it.
I fear the trauma of the story has wiped it from his memory. Anyway, he no longer looks like the boy he was then and I wonder how his legs are? Next time I will ask for names before I start to tell.
I need to stay away from negativity.
Storytelling here

Monday, July 16, 2012

Is that a true story?

I tell stories in a socially-deprived area which is another way of saying the cats travel in pairs around this place at night.
A warning bell should have gone off when I took a call on Monday asking if I was free on Wednesday?
I said let me check my diary, the one I cannot find for weeks on end; finally I say: yes I am.
On Wednesday I replace a puppeteer who doe not answer her phone after last week's visit to this summer camp.
None are aged more than 12 years chronologically but all are aeons old in street smarts.
Out go the cute stories; cosy romances pass them by, others follow until one says she wants to hear stories that are "gross"
This girl could wrestle a weightlifter to the ground and win.

So, I tell 'em the story of the boy who is called out at night in country-darkness to help carry a coffin.
Yes and he is to be the corpse.
I tell, they listen with intent; I wrap it up and tell a few more tiny stories that stand the test of time, mostly about fools besting wise men.
Finished, I prepare to leave when the wrestler sidles up, and without speaking tells me she wants to ask a question.
I say what? She asks in a low voice with eyes darting around for eavesdroppers, if that was a true story? I ask her what she thinks? She says she does not know; I say if she thinks it's true then maybe it's true for her?
I suggest she tells it to a few pals and see what happens. She says yes and walks away a storyteller.
I leave and wonder what happened to the puppet person?
Storytelling here

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Writing on walls

I am writing my sixth contracted book and realise that publication of the others was a mistake on the part of the publishers.
My preferred length is as short as possible; the three sentence story being long enough to say most things.
I love you. Marry me. Let's have children.
Which is how, somewhere in that marathon of writing a book, I hit the wall.
I used to think the wall was an affectation of runners who chase shadows to trump their personal best.
I am not a runner, preferring the sure determination of the long distance walker over the histrionics of road eaters.
I do have the wall of endurance in common with marathon runners, that point when sanity says give it up, have a smoke and a cup of tea, in a china cup.
But, so far I have written through it and submitted the manuscripts on time and the publishers were too busy to notice that it was the work of a chancer bent on admiration and a royalty cheque.
Then readers say they like the stuff. Try as I might I can never re-find that wall that bothered me so much that I took the dog for a walk instead of writing any more.
Maybe I'll take up painting and see if that's any easier, after I deliver this book, and the one after that which is also contracted by another foolish publisher.
I can write anywhere, mostly in my head, and painting requires you be somewhere, which is a bit too much bother.
Storytelling here

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Diving child

A child dives out of its mother's arms and heads headfirst for the concrete path at her feet.
She catches her by the ankles just as she is about to re-arrange her brains on a busy city street.
The child goes over the mother's shoulder in this manoeuvre. The tall slim mother catches the falling ankle, sight unseen.
I say: it was close; she says yes and laughs; someday I will miss.
Are you circus people, I ask; no she says it's just something she likes to do.
This she says as if her flying daughter is a household cat that likes to wrap itself around her ankles at night.
I look at the child whose eyes are aged beyond reason.
She was here before it seems and perhaps was an acrobat who used to swing upside down and view the world from there.
Hello I say to the child; she smiles and turns her head away, bored of the ages-old question.
Who are you and why do you do that.
Why not; she would say if she was old enough to speak; but she is not and the conversation with her mother is impossible to resume.
There is little else to say to a pair of falling women on a busy street.
I move on, and try not to stumble on the cracked pavement.
Storytelling here

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

It says in this letter

I know a man who can neither read nor write but who watches television and listens to radio to keep up his end of the conversation.
He knows I know he cannot read and since his last parent is dead and he has no siblings nor sweetheart he asks me to read his post for him.
I tell him what the letters say and leave him to deal with them.
He pays all bills through the bank on-time and never receives cut-off notices.

But he would also fight with his shadow, me excepted.
So, when he shows me a note from his doctor to a mind specialist he is to go see, I demur.
But he insists, saying he does not trust his family doctor and what he says about him.
The letter says, when I read it to myself, that he is an obstreperous man given to sudden fits of anger and as a doctor his GP passes the information to the other in a spirit of caution.
I tell him it is just a note to the specialist.
He says: he dug the pen into the paper he says more than that, what is it?
I say his doctor told the new doctor to treat him with respect and to listen to him.
He says: Honest?
I lie and say: Honest.
He puts the letter back in his coat pocket and walks away, he says thanks.
Storytelling here

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wardrobe malfunction

Most of the time we are invisible. Nobody pays attention to us, unless we skip the queue; when feral reaction kicks in.
A man seeks attention for himself by wearing odd shoes in public.
For privacy and peace of mind he wears matching shoes.
Then, he matches a nice left-footed brogue to a scruffy right-footed trainer underneath a natty suit.
People step to one side when he comes along the street with a smile on his face. Some ask if his foot has been in an accident?
But; they are the adventurers; those who want to know something they do not already know.
Others shuffle away in bus lines and supermarket checkouts when he taps the toes of the brogue, while standing still. Once, he stepped out of his shoes and walked home barefooted. Nobody touched his empty shoes for ages.
Nobody likes the odd, outside of the circus.
He sometimes confides that his wardrobe has malfunctioned and he forgot the code to open the dressing room in his mansion for other footwear.
Do I look odd, he asks, no they say not at all, wondering why they have no such security on their wardrobe.
Storytelling here

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A fallen man

Not everybody lying on a city street is dead.
I exit a 300-year-old city centre building, with other people, following a meeting.
We are in that laguna where you just want to walk away from these people until the next time; but are compelled to make small talk, at least until a city bus arrives.
The man's head faces the door and we have a clear view of his untied shoes at the extremity of his body.
He's dead, someone says. No, he's only sleeping, says another.
Kick him in the belly, to see what happens, says the man in the blue suit who said nothing at all at the meeting; but who wants to say something now, so we know he was present.
I walk around to the man's shoes and see his belly is rising and falling with life.
I press his shoe where his big toe should be.
He wakes up and asks what happened; he fell asleep in the sun sitting on the step waiting for a delayed bus.

I have started to tie his lace in an absent minded way because that is what I did with my children, lest they fall over.
I look up and the man is embarrassed at having another man tying his laces on a city street in the summer heat; but these things happen when you are waiting for a bus to take you away and the meeting is over.
Storytelling here

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A hard rain

I go on holidays to Florida and spend a week with my family doing Orlando.
Week two, we are miles away at a beach where we expect to relax and recover from last week's awesome rides.
Except, we grow weary of blowtorch sun and lizard-like seeking of shade, after a while.
We will take an all-day trip back to Orlando to see something we missed the first time.
At dawn, we pile into an air-conditioned coach and travel to a large car-park to meet other coaches where passengers and coaches are swapped with the frenzy and enthusiasm of a key-party of blessed memory.
We are approaching blast-off when a small man presents himself at the foot of the stairs and asks our driver if it's going to rain?
He gets our attention. Rain?
The driver says no; the man asks where the driver is going?
You see, he says, I have been here for two weeks and wherever I go it rains.
We whisper to the driver to close the door; shun him, the rainmaker.
But the man is at the wrong coach.
He boards another and it pulls away. We make signals to the passengers on that coach to get out now.
It's going to rain, we signal.
But they think we are mad.
Maybe it's the sun that makes people mad, we say, as we lash on the sun barrier cream.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Old clothes

I buy a waistcoat that was old when I was born. I consider buying a hat to match but think it might be seen as pretentious.
Besides, few men wear a hat that does not say they may be bald underneath, to some extent, or, thinking of going bald. I am not, though I have a high forehead since childhood.
So a waistcoat it is, that piece of men's clothing the Americans call a vest, whereas for Europeans a vest is an undershirt.
But few enough people are wearing waistcoats these days as straightforward clothing; mostly they are statements.
Some men with ponytails and ugly noses wear them to show they still believe; after all these years.
I decide a badge or two might change the lie of the garment. I see a few protest badges for sale for a single coin each.
Perhaps the Ban the Bomb one would look well; but then I realise I will be answering questions to younger people as to which bomb I mean.
Nuclear Power No Thanks is a nice combination of yellow and frightening red, made before we all woke up to the delights of Chernobyl fallout. It seems redundant somehow.
So I settle for a single button , made by Anne, before she left us.
It says:
Just Peace, Please.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


People keep ringing me up to say nothing.
The phone rings. Who does not pick up with some anticipation: be it of fight, flight, frolic, or fantasy?
Or, wrong number. Failure.
A new system sets up a cold sales call while the caller is ending the previous chat.
You are queued for a buying conversation you did not ask for.
It's like being asked to wait in line on a street to be processed by the beggar at the head of the line who badly needs a bed for the night, a cup of tea, or, assistance to get to somewhere else.
You can tire of the silence and break the connection; but then you miss bonding with the caller who is intent on getting you to buy something from him so he can have a bed for the night, a cup of tea or his taxi fare to the airport of his choice.
I've given up waiting for human response when I say hello to silence.
It might be a wrong number from a fool seeking random conversation with a voice on the other end, not a sales call at all.
Hang up.
Storytelling here

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Man not found in wardrobe

I tell a story in Barking Mad, Tales of Liars, Lovers, Loonies and Layabouts about a married lover almost caught by the husband he has cuckolded. The husband arrives home from gaol early. The lover hides in the wardrobe until the man greets his wife and leaves the bedroom, after a while.
I would never say who the man in the wardrobe was, though he told me the story himself, when he was 84-years- old; one day when we were sitting on a wall.
However, since the book came out: no less than eight men were positively identified as the man in the wardrobe. None were correct.
Now, two women have begun to befriend me and ask me where I found that story. They have assured me they are not the wife in question.
I never said either of them was.
Am I missing many more stories here?
Or did the 84-year-old get around a lot in his earlier decades?
I don't know; for he passed away in a bed not his own, with a smile on his face, last year.
I cannot now sleep for want of knowing.
Storytelling here

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

So shall it be written

I miss the tactility of a subscription magazine falling through my letterbox, once a month.
I miss the excitement of seeing my name on the address label even though I paid to have it there.
Someone has sent me something, someone is thinking about me, even if it is a machine. Do machines think, do they have feelings? I don't know but I would not like to hurt their feelings just in case, so I say nothing.
Wrappers changed over the years, so in the end you could read the front cover without unwrapping anything; but so too could anyone else in the human chain.
No private hugs of knowledge when the old brown paper wrapper came off.
No wonder at the news from afar from the welcome mat in your home.
Now, no physical pages to turn, no flicking at speed from the back forward, no seeking the favoured page. No glimpsing for the first time.
It's online now and who cares what the content is or what a time-filling designer has decided today's site will look like.
They have missed the point, the new marketers.
They have swapped my physical relationship for an online image that fades when the new machine is unplugged.
Can machines feel that; being cut off?
I hope not.
Storytelling here

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Made up doctor

I sit in the main corridor of a television station waiting for interview.
I will talk about my new book Dublin Folk Tales.
We are three guests. Two female and a male.
We get made-up one at a time, this I resolve not to tell anyone, though I am told by make-up that it is to take glare from my skin in the studio lights.
But she does something to my lips that reminds me too much of the taxidermist's dark arts.
I look in the huge mirror but can see no difference.
I wonder what the camera will see.
Back in the corridor a programme worker calls me doctor.
I am a storyteller, I explain, not a doctor; but if she has issues I will listen to them and tell her a story on that very issue. It might help.
She declines and is nice, I would have liked to tell her a story; but the woman doctor appears and they vanish into a studio.
Then I am on and my lips with the make-up move and I forget about it until I am driving home and remember that I am a male driver travelling along alone with make-up on.
I hope nobody sees me.
Storytelling here

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What Did He Say?

The man on the bus says he will not speak to the caller on his mobile phone.
Then, there is silence from him while the caller asks him why not?
He says you hung up on me, last time. This is not acceptable behaviour.
The conversation ends with no more words and we all agree with the victory for civility and the consequent quietness on our journey.
Later he speaks again, to someone else who has called him on his silent phone.
English is not his first language and he is precise in what he says.
He explains to a new caller that he will not speak to the first person; even though it is a business call.
He says she is foolish and she should not put herself above another person.
He had helped her, he said, by giving her food, and a place to stay which was all she wanted of him, and sex, he adds, using the word but once; but she should not have hung up the phone on him.
The second caller is thanked politely by him for their nice call and manner and the conversation ends.
Leaving everyone else wishing for once that this call had gone on a little longer.
Storytelling here

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Heal Thyself

It is very easy to create a false impression.
My doctor tells there is nothing wrong with me when I walk in to see him.
Of course he is right, this time.
But the last time I saw him he told me I should have died the winter before of a virulent winter chest cold.
I thought you were going to die, it's nice to see you, he says. I lost four men of your age from this practice, with the very same thing you had.
Why didn't you tell me that then? I ask, after I sit down.
Would it have made any difference? You would have continued working in spite of me.
This is why I stick with him. He only worries about lunch.
I need a health check for insurance purposes. He runs through the details and enquires if there are many patients in his waiting room?
I say not a lot, so he says: stay and we'll chat.
He takes a flask and a pile of sandwiches from his desk, where he keeps the prescription blanks.
I tell him some stories, he tells me some more, we laugh, and I leave when he sweeps the crumbs up.
His waiting room is full now with anxious people with coughs.
Lots of people have been asking me ever since if I am terminally ill.
Aren't we all?
Storytelling here

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Blue Paper

I ask the shop assistant if they stock blue paper.
She says they are a stationer's not a hardware store.
I repeat the word blue louder this time and add that it's a colour, so she understands my predicament.
Most printing paper is never ending white so the odd sheet of another colour serves as a marker.
I need to make sure that when a writing client flicks through the finished pages he pauses at the correct places.
Blue, I say again.
She asks if I did not see the display of blue typing paper at the shop doorway when I came in, fool that I am she says without speaking.
I hasten to the front door from the bowels of the shop where they sell coloured card, but no paper unless it is white.
I see mountains of reams of blue-wrapped paper that turns out to be white inside.
I look for her, but she has faded into the stationery.
She has taken refuge in the magazine section where products come in all sorts of unbelievable colours.
I resolve to travel to the next town on the morrow in search of blue paper, blue.
Such are the ways that a writer goes quietly mad.
Storytelling here

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Eddie walks the streets of his town at night.
When he sees foxes prowling back lanes he knows all is well; one intruder or a stranger's approach and they run away.
A fox at night is a sign of peace, unless he knocks over your bin and wakes you up from your peaceful slumber.
Eddie just likes to walk around; he's been arrested several times by police and warned off by passing burglars more times than is safe for him; but still he walks.
Some people say he's mad.
But no fox runs away when Eddie draws near.
The woman in the end house leaves her back door unlocked just in case Eddie gets tired of walking and wants to settle down.
He passes by.
Nobody knows where he's walking to or when he will get there.
Eddie knows but says nothing as he passes on his way.
Storytelling here

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A dissatisfied customer

An old man drops a night worker back to her workspace beneath a streetlamp. She stands a little way away from its direct beam.
She says to him: it's not my fault.

He says he wants his money back.
She says no and walks two paces away.
He drives around a corner only to return on foot, presently. He stands beside her facing outwards like two suspects in a line-up on a deserted street of flitting shadows.
She says go away. He says he wants his money back. Neither looks at the other.
She calls him Frank to get his attention. If he did not avail of all on offer, then the fault is his.
He wants his money back, in cash. His height reaches only to his companion's shoulder. So, she pretends not to see him.
It begins to rain and Frank walks away, only to return in his little car. He parks between the worker and the road and any passing clientele.
She steps around the car in tottering heels and taps on the driver's window.
Frank rolls it down in joyful anticipation.
Instead, she leans in to remove the keys from the ignition.
She drops them into a storm drain and hails a passing taxi.
Frank remains where he is.
Storytelling here

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I have no daughters

I stop to ask directions in a town I did not grow up in.
I am seeking a girl's school where I am to tell stories for the morning.
The man I ask works in the grounds of a large supermarket; the place I ask is on a bad bend; but he seems like a man that will say "turn right, left and you are there; bye"
Instead, in a local accent that has been generations in the making, he tells me he does not know where the large red-brick building on the top of the hill is.
Nor what it is called when I tease his memory about that either.
"You see," he says "I have no daughters of my own."
I am about to be run over by a large truck tearing around the bend, so I say: "thank you," and try to move away.
"But there is a very good reason why I do not have any daughters," he says as I engage gear for blast-off when the endless flow of traffic eases.
He is about to tell me what his perfectly good reason for not fathering daughters is when a truck horn blares a warning that I have overstayed my welcome on a dangerous bend.
I shout a lie: "That's my cousin in that truck, he's going to that school. I'll follow him," and I drive on.
I still don't know why the man did not produce daughters for a very good reason.
Perhaps I never will.
Storytelling here

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In a spotlight of her mind

The drone from the police helicopter wakens the snails in the garden with its persistent whapping noise.
A single spotlight shines down like an usher seeking a smoking butt in a cinema of the memory.
It seeks a miscreant in a car escaping justice and retribution.

Can you see me now?
  Trapped, the pursued pulls up to face chastisement.
But, the woman in the corner house then takes to the night road in her little two-seater.
She weaves about until she reaches the darkened spot where the light from above last touched the earth.
She drives so erratically that the light suddenly re-appears and a chase begins again.
The quietened police cars roar and close the gap.
She doubles back to her own house.
She drives under her carport very quickly and hops into her house slamming the door behind her.
Invisible once more.
Presently, two cops bang on the door and she re-appears in clothes that are a shade too small for her thrusting figure.
Her disappointment is clear when she sees the cops are women and not interested in her attributes.
The judge fines her for wasting police time.
She says she was fined for being herself.
The helicopter flies a different route ever since, most nights.
Storytelling here

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Golf in the night.

The dog starts to bark at the beginning of a day.
Too early. It's only one hour into the day.
I pad to a window and stare down at my back garden where a man is searching for something on my property.
I open the window and ask, not unkindly, what he wants at one o'clock in the morning?

The midnight golfer
He says he is seeking a lost golf ball.
My garden wall borders a large open space that is covered in grass.
He has been practicing his golf, I am sure of it, for he has a golf club in his hand.
His aimless hacking at my flower bed with the club is not unlike a hungry Antarctic explorer intent on breaking ice to seek for fish to eat.
He is also drunk, I realise as I appear on the ground floor and, soon after, in the garden.
I see he is a neighbour from up the road.
I escort him back through the open gate and lock it after him.
I assure him I will find that ball, and keep it safe, until he calls again.
However, the dog, who comes from a long line of gun dogs, is now chewing experimental lumps out of the found ball.
I go back to bed and wonder how long before dawn appears over the horizon.
And if any of this will seem different then.
Storytelling here

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A white horse of another colour

 A woman catches her husband out by parking a horse in his way.
The man becomes too interested in his new desk friend at a start your own business course.
He stays out, to consult with her, later than adult evening courses warrant .
He says he is doing research for the business, market research, questionnaires, that sort of technical thing, he explains too hurriedly and often.
The woman bolts the front door from the inside so she knows when he arrives home. He climbs in a back window that he leaves unlocked for that purpose.
Cometh the hour cometh the horse
The woman borrows a white draught horse from a pal and tethers it outside the back window.
When next the man rushes to his window in the early hours of an excited morning he collides with the belly of the horse.
The horse swings around, hits the man with its haunch and trots off the property, the tie not being good enough to hold her.
The man falls down and cries that a horse has knocked him down in his own back garden; But nobody believes him.
For the moment, the horse is saying nothing.
Storytelling here

Monday, February 13, 2012

Won't Start

A man is selling a bicycle.
A friend has had her bike taken without her permission and needs a replacement.
I road-test it by pedalling as hard as I can and pulling on the brakes to stop it.
This exhausts my technical knowledge and I bargain and we agree on a number that makes us both content, if not exactly happy.
The seller is distracted many times by a ringing phone.
It's a smartphone, I note.
"I said it will not start. I don't know why," he says with shorter patience each time.
I say the bike starts for me, it's a pedal bike.
He looks at me as a simpleton. "The car won't start, the one I'm selling. I said so in the ad, and they haven't stopped ringing ever since."
Who? I ask
Buyers, he says, they all wonder why the car won't start.
"More people want to buy a car that won't start than do a car that will start," he says. "Do you want that bike wrapped?" he asks me as a prelude to seeing the back of me.
I say no thanks and wheel the bike away.
Storytelling here

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Not Talking

I meet a woman in my mother's town; I have heard we are related to one another.
She tells me we are related one to another and it feels like deja vue just being in her presence.
There are no common facial features between her and anyone I know in my family.
I make the mistake of asking how this relationship could be and she tells me how many, many, years ago a common ancestor met another common ancestor and they married one another and lay down together and now half the town is related to one another.
Not only that; but she is able to step back through the generations and link all of these unsuspecting dead people with one another from beyond the grave.
This is getting too intimate for me without the benefit of an advocate speaking up for the dead generations, that gave us birth.
I say it is nice to realise we were related to half the town.
This as a preliminary to walking away from the madness of the conversation.
But, she catches my coat and says, in a low warning voice, that we who are related are not speaking to the other half.
I say fair enough and leave her there in the sunshine of her mind.
I'm fairly sure she belongs to the mad side of the family.
Storytelling here