Showing posts from January, 2016

Chromium-Plated Dreams

Raymond had been the cook in Denny’s Diner for 10 years. He knew the regulars, and what they ordered. He started preparing Vince’s two eggs, sunny side up, two rashers of bacon and side of hash browns a few minutes before he normally got there, so it was ready for him when he sat down at the table by the door. This wasn’t just about customer service, more to make sure that the orders didn’t stack up. Because of this, and the fact that most of their customers were regulars, Ray never got too busy, which suited him just fine. He’d returned from Afghanistan minus his left foot, replaced by a Government issue prosthetic number, which had given him a shuffling gait that he’d now got used to. The owner of Denny’s, a hard-bitten woman called Joanne, had given him the job partly, he thought, out of pity. He was never away from the place, because the job came with a room and shower out back, and because he had nowhere else to go. At nights he got to sleep with the help of half a pint of B

Folding at the Bridge Club

Isobel’s mother had played bridge every afternoon of the week except Tuesdays, which she devoted to her husband when he retired. He did not play, despite having heard a hundred times her mantra: “no-one should go into Old Age without being able to play bridge”. He played golf or pottered in his shed. So, when Isobel and her husband Mark retired and downsized to a new town in the Cotswolds, history seemed to be repeating itself. Mark joined the large local bridge club to do the only thing that he and his mother-in-law had ever agreed on. Isobel had been a bridge orphan and now she had become a bridge widow. She didn’t play golf like her father or do gardening. The downsizing had been traumatic. However, she knew that she must make a life for herself, so she did her best to settle into the small house which was to be home until senility, arthritis or incontinence dispatched her to the Sunset Eventide Care Home. Deep down she had always realized that Mark would have liked her to par


Not that I don't want to walk the streets with you. But when I sit on a suspended turtle shell hanged from risen arms and don't think it's magic is the issue. It should be magic. We walked through spider webs. Middle-school basketballers howled like playing wolves behind us. A rock split and whizzed past us like a meteor: hurled through space and time to find us here and still barely missed. Thousands of light years on the pin of a needle. Striking sandy bits of gravel. Clanging like dropped silverware. The fridge is packed with eggs inside. Vodka lives frozen but still fills glasses topped with orange juice. They swirl and marry happily and end in a bathroom, anyway. As if chocolate swirls in ice cream didn't represent the arms of the galaxy. Comets made of custard and fairy dust move in high speeds and travel in circles smaller than us. I know at great range there is someone else I will barely miss.

An Accidental Meeting

  June Swain was cycling when she heard the choking scream of the Spitfire as it lost height. She watched the plane slash into the woods on the hill, snapping the conifers like twigs. Then her bicycle hit the verge and she found herself in the ditch. June worked as a land girl and she shared supper most evenings with Farmer Ogg and his wife Janet. The farmer said quietly: “The pilot must be dead, poor sod.” But his wife said she’d heard he’d been taken to Warham Hospital. June couldn’t help wondering about this unknown man. A week later, on her day off, she took a train and found the hospital. The receptionist asked her who she was visiting. “The man who crashed in the woods.” “Him? He needs a visit. You’re the first.” In the corner of the ward a man seemed to dangle over a bed. Two legs and an arm, encased in plaster, hung from pulleys. He turned his head and June saw a stitched-up scar which ran from the corner of his mouth north to his cheekbone, in an absurd and pe