Friday, June 29, 2012

I Remembered How To Play Golf, And Then Something Happened by CD Carter

A golf obsessive rediscovers his youthful talent, but doesn't get to appreciate it for long; by CD Carter

Lights out.

That's all I remembered from before I woke up in that lush, freshly mowed driving range grass. I was my old self one minute, absolutely striping six-iron shots at the one-hundred-eighty-yard flag. Then I committed a driving range faux pas and, out of absolutely nowhere, whack.

I was out. Like a light.

It had been a long time since I swung a golf club with such confidence. No hitches or twitches interrupted the flow of my arch - the reverse-C, they call it - and I was able to repeat that wonderfully fluid motion with the precision of a properly programmed machine. Muscle memory had taken over, and it made me so very happy to know that my body remembered how to hit a golf ball with such unapologetic power.

God, it felt so good.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Laughing Guava Tree by Lazarus Musa Samdi

Lazarus Musa Samdi's environmental vignette, from the perspective of the tree

I am a Guava Tree growing in an orchard in Africa. I came to Africa from a Caribbean island. I was transported in the stomach of a sailor who plucked my fruit from a Guava tree beside a swift flowing river. He had been told that Guava fruit is also medicine for its eater.

We give humans medicine from our bark; food and vitamins from our fruits. We clean dirty air and produce clean air for people to breathe. We love being trees. Sometimes we hear birds, people, snakes and monkeys saying to themselves, "Trees must be bored to death. They remain stuck on one spot for a lifetime! They can't move around and see the world like us."

That is not true! We move around and see places. It's just that we don't travel the way snakes, worms, people and birds do.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

To B and B or Not to B and B by Bruce Harris

Elaine and Malcolm Routledge reflect on how the rise and fall of their bed and breakfast business has been tied in with the fate of a cocky young Liverpudlian chef; by Bruce Harris

I should, according to some guests, be ecstatic. 'Such a famous place! Just down the road!' From some of our bedroom windows, we have views of the King's Head in all its Georgian ex-coach house splendour. Once upon a time, it was a mere pub; now, of course, it is the base from which the famous young Liverpudlian chef Robbie Syerson sends his creations into an eagerly waiting world.

'In the processed pub food wasteland of ploughman's lunch, flabby lasagnes, microwaved scampi and chicken nuggets, Robbie has appeared like an avenging Scouse angel, waving his cuisine sword and shouting 'it doesn't have to be like this, or-right?' And it doesn't.' (The Mail)

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Prince of Upper Bessarabia by Gary Clifton

Two homicide detectives pursue the bomber of a gang boss's beer joint, but they don't hold out much hope that he'll survive long enough for them to haul him in; by Gary Clifton

There are a few rules, you know. Plant a bomb in a beer joint, you're supposed to wait until the place closes. And if you target the livelihood of a mobbed up guy like Tony David Colbacci, a.k.a. Tony Bone, it's a damned fine idea to get some place far away, soon.

Ten or twelve drunks saw this clown carry the sack into the men's john, plant it beneath the urinal, then run like hell. It went off okay - killed two guys outright. One was taking a leak and the bomb blew his right hand through the roof. Guess what was in it? Homicide sent me - I'm Slattery - and Red Harper out, probably because we were tops on the shit list.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Unbearable Weight by Michael McCarthy

A Brit in Germany meets a local who suffers from an obsession with protecting his language from the encroachment of English, by Michael McCarthy.

If ever there was a man with a mission, it was him. An old and frail looking man, but walking upright with an oblivious determination through the wind-lashed rain.

It was clear from his posture and the look of deep concentration etched into his face that he was hell bent on a task.

He turned into a café and, on a whim, I followed. We sat at adjacent tables.

He took a green plastic covered note book out of his inside pocket and immediately began writing, with that same grim feverishness.

He was gaunt and pale, his face criss-crossed with a matrix of skull-deep lines. He wasn't wearing glasses and his astonishingly bright blue eyes looked as though they had been transplanted from somebody much, much younger.

Whatever he was writing, he was into it body and soul. Once or twice, he stopped to ponder, gazed at an invisible point directly ahead and stroked the wattle of loose flesh under his chin that flopped against the top of a white roll-neck sweater. Wispy, white tendrils of hair floated out from under a yellow beret, like flimsy white clouds around the sun.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hey Ma, Are We Jewish? by Michail Mulvey

An Irish Catholic high school student decides to become Jewish in the hope of attracting the attention of the girl of his dreams; by Michail Mulvey

In high school I had a crush on Miriam Goldfarb - National Honor Society, class president, Debating Society, editor of the yearbook and the school paper, Orchestra, A Cappella Choir, captain of the tennis team, etc, etc. But Miriam was way out of my league. Not only was she very bright, she was also very Jewish, while I, to use Grandma Kelly's expression, was 'as Irish as Paddy's pig.' And Shanty Irish at that, she added. I wasn't sure what Shanty Irish meant so I asked my Uncle Jimmy. "It means we don't have a pot to piss in," he told me. I wasn't sure what that meant, so I asked my Uncle Joe. "It means we don't have two nickels to rub together," he said. I was going to ask my Aunt Joan what that meant, but I finally figured it out for myself while walking to school in the rain one morning. When I looked in my shoe to see why my sock was wet, I found a hole in the sole. It meant we were poor.

I can't explain why I was attracted to Miriam. She was pretty but not beautiful. She had quiet brown eyes and short brown hair. She looked nothing like the loud girls in the big, heavily hair-sprayed, beehive-type hairdos, the ones you could hear a mile away, the gum-snapping queens in short skirts and tight sweaters... like Cookie Conlon... and Annette Amalfitano... and Donna Dumbrowski.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Come See Me by Martin Green

In 60s California, a desperately lonely man makes a pair of dangerous friends; by Martin Green.

News item: Sausalito, California, June 28, 1963. Wealthy Sausalito resident Ross Clinton has been reported missing, possibly the victim of foul play. Police investigated Clinton's hillside home at the urging of Mrs. Gretchen Himmelman, his closest neighbor. Mrs. Himmelman became worried when Clinton's cat Tiberius came to her door looking for food. She then noticed that Clinton had not collected his newspapers or milk for several days. Clinton never spoke to any of his neighbors, Mrs. Himmelman said, but he was always good to his cat.

Police fear foul play because a number of paintings had been removed from the walls. Blood stains were also found in Clinton's bedroom. An investigation is now in progress.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Twitterpated by Emily Calvin

Two lost young women exchange meaningless and sinister declarations of love and hurt with each other through Twitter, by Emily Calvin

I want to carve your name into my chest so I never forget it. I want to write my name in blood on your back so you see it in your reflection every time you turn around. I want to kiss you and hold you and make sweet love to you. But none of these things can ever happen and we both know this.

Your beauty astounds me and your maturity will always blow me away. If I had my way, we'd be together this instant. Unfortunately, I don't write the laws, and neither do I write the distance between us. It seems our lives have gone through too many tough paths to ever cross, and it seems we must come to terms with this.

Our love can never be. We both knew this all along. My life was bettered the day I began talking to you, but we can never find one another. We both must remain in hiding, and our love must be kept a secret.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Plan by Beryl Ensor-Smith

The arrival of a parrot in a small South African town stirs up the fortunes of shopkeeper Koos Venter and his family in Beryl Ensor-Smith's amusing tale.

It did not take Koos Venter very long to find that business in his little supply store was dwindling. Nor did it take much longer to find the cause.

"It's bad enough having a recession," he complained to his wife Mina, "without having Moodley round the corner cutting all his prices to the bone. How can an honest businessman contend with that? I never thought the day would come when the dorp volk would desert me to patronise Moodley! What are things coming to?"

"You can't blame them, Koos," Mina said reasonably. "When people feel the pinch, they naturally go where the prices are best. Besides, Moodley sells things in small quantities."

"Ja, in twists of newspaper," Koos grunted. "They'll all die of ink poisoning and serve them right too!"

Friday, June 8, 2012

East by Cameron Suey

A mysterious Storm saps energy from the world and chews mountains out of existence; as it gradually advances Cameron Suey's hardy protagonist is determined to outrun it.

It's been a long time since I've seen the Storm.

It's always been there, behind us, whispering through the shuddering ground. A background roar behind the wind. We'd been ahead for so long, moving slightly faster than its clockwork crawl. Until the mountains. Then, as we ground ourselves upward against these slopes, we heard it rumbling closer, a rising quake in the earth. But it's been a while since I turned around and actually saw it. Sitting here on the side of the mountain, in the frigid morning, it fills my vision and stings my eyes with the monstrous unreality of it.

It rises like an unbroken wall into the sky, obscured only by the limits of my sight, fading into the clear blue, and stretching away north and south, curving away with the earth. The sunlight doesn't seem to touch it. Nothing does. At the ground, where the churning wall of sickly blue lightning and black clouds grinds across the earth, I can see the Unmaking. The lower peaks, already shaking apart, burst and ablate away at the event horizon of the Storm. The land dips before the onslaught, as if shying away from the kiss of the boiling wall. I can feel the violence beneath my feet as millions of tons of ancient mountain falls away into its infinite maw.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Shade by Gary Alexander Azerier

A collector of antiques discovers an unusually lifelike daguerrotype of old New York City; by Gary Alexander Azerier

Sometime ago there was a wonderful place just south of Bleecker Street on Sixth Avenue in New York's Greenwich Village called Welcome to New York. It was wonderful because it housed thousands of old photographs, maps, pieces of memorabilia and assorted tidbits having to do with a New York City long gone. You could spend an entire afternoon rummaging through the many shelves and bins in this emporium until your feet ached. But the very dust in the place was wonderful.

I don't think I'd ever emerged from a visit to this dark little shop without bags of things, envelopes of photographs, books, postcards and odd maps of places (and people) and institutions that no longer existed. I had always overspent, far beyond what I had intended, often pointlessly, and my fingers were filthy as a result of handling the hundred plus year old merchandise. The treasures to be discovered, uncovered, buried in this shop's cabinets and on her tables were endless and unknown until excavated.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Arnold Grey Trilogy by Martin Green

The quiet romantic life of Arnold, a research analyst from California, by Martin Green.

Part 1 - Being in Love (Click to go to Part 2: Getting Married, Part 3: Struggling On)

Arnold Grey had been asked to lunch, for the first time, by his boss Tommy Flowers. They were at a trendy (and expensive) restaurant in downtown San Francisco, frequented by ad agency, public relations and media types. The luncheon invitation was a reward for Arnold's working eighty hours the previous week on one of the surveys being done by Flowers' research firm, a small one but well-known locally because of Tommy's political connections, his father having been in the state senate.

"Have a drink," said Tommy, ordering one for himself.

"No thanks," said Arnold.

"You don't drink and I know you don't smoke," said Tommy, as he lit a cigarette. "You're going to ruin the reputation of the firm. Should I ask you about girls?"

At that moment, a beautiful young woman, blonde, tanned, dressed in an immaculate white suit, entered the restaurant and stood for a moment looking around. Arnold's attention, like everyone's in the restaurant, was focused on her, as if she stood in a spotlight.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cauld Enough Tae Freeze Yer Baws Aff by Jimmy Wilde

A rant in Scottish dialect about a late-night encounter with a sleepwalker, by Jimmy Wilde.

Jist walking up Acton Lane the other night and ah see this guy and say tae myself, fuck's sake, he's no got any troosers oan. And then ah notice he's got bare feet oan an aw. Fuckin' freezin' it is, foggy and that, know? Ah clock his eyes tae see if he's a sleepwalker and ah think ah'm right, because he's jist staring straight ahead. He goes tae cross the road and thir's motors coming but he doesnae even look. Ah know that sleepwalkers are supposed tae be in control ay their senses but ah didnae want tae chance it, so ah shouts, Haw mate! and the boy turns roon and starts coming towards me. Ah see at this stage that he's no even got any underpants oan, jist a shirt and a pair of fuckin' glasses. So ah shout, Eh, ye've no got any troosers oan pal, a bit cheeky way the drink and that, know? Anyway, the boy says nothing and keeps coming and ah think, Haw haw, this could be a right fuckin' nutter. Naw, yer awright mate, ah thought ye were gonny get ran doon there, ah says, kinda shiting it a wee bit, like. Well, he could've been psycho, know, who fucking knows? Well that was it anyway, he jist stops and says, Thank you, and turns roon and walks away. Fuckin' thank you. The cunts ye meet oan Acton Lane! Ah walked right past the chip shop because ay him.