I can smell bullshit a mile off. A person can do all the reading and all of the Youtubing they want – some things can’t be faked. Journalists will write about the history of the Great Pyramid of Khufu, but I can tell that they’ve not been inside, that they haven’t felt the sweat of tourists run down its four and a half thousand-year-old walls. Nor is such fakery limited to sunburnt tourists and more-money-than-sense septuagenarians. I’ve lost count of the number of lithe young things ironically wearing Beatles or Rolling Stones t-shirts. Scream all you want at Summerfest – in the seventies I was close enough to smell the sweat from Mick’s vest and to see the gleam of his back teeth as he attacked the microphone. Back then us ladies knew how to swoon. Continue reading “A Sense of Perspective”
Now that I’m able to sit up they have given me a pen. This is so that I can write what I am feeling, or rather what their psychological textbooks suggest that I should be feeling. After the doctors have finished shining their torches into the backs of my eyes they search my face, their foreheads furrowed. I know what they are looking for – a flicker of madness, some trace of the rage bubbling up inside of me.
Don’t leave an ankle dangling over. Not even a toe. That was the rule. If you did, the monster under the bed would seize you as you slept. Ragged, blackened fingernails would trace their way up your calf before digging cruelly into your flesh. Veins would pop out from the unforgiving muscles of the creature’s forearm as his hand crushed ligament and bone. You would be dragged underneath your bed and down into the depths. Continue reading “Over the Edge”
‘Could you turn your head please? A little more, perhaps? Perfect. And you – I’m not getting enough from you at the moment. I want rage. I want impotent indignation. Imagine that you’ve just received a parking ticket you didn’t deserve. You can see the car park attendant walking away, smirking. That’s more like it. I want to see spittle flecking from your snarling lips. I want to see veins popping in your neck, capillaries bursting in your eyes. Excellent. Continue reading “Courting Drama”
Was that a tremor of a curtain in a darkened window? No matter. A pivot, a leap, and I’m over the garden fence. A shimmy and a jump take me on top of the shed. I listen for the sound of pursuers, for the creak of a back door opening as someone checks that all is well. There is nothing but the warm night air pressing in on my eardrums.
My objective is still above me, but for a moment I look not up, but out. I feel like Dick Van Dyke taking in Victorian London, but instead of soot-stained chimneys and greasy roof tiles I have row upon row of bristling satellite dishes and TV aerials, their angles cocked at the skies to hear the better.
How has it come to this?
I wipe my hands on my trousers and take a firm grip of the satellite dish. One, two, three heaves brings it away from the wall. Brick dust sprinkles over the driveway below me, followed by the clatter of the dish as it cartwheels into the road. It stops in front of a police car. Torchlight swivels from the patrol car window, fumbling over the rooftops before finding me. They know who they’re looking for – the same man they’ve caught tearing satellite equipment from houses every night this week. No matter. My work here is done.
In a few hours that family will wake. They’ll reach for their mobiles, their television remotes. They’ll ask for Alexa. They’ll tap away at their laptops. Eventually they will conclude that they have no choice but to converse, at least in the short term. Perhaps teenagers will scuttle down from their bedrooms. Maybe parents will concern themselves with what their children have planned for the upcoming day instead of what some politician did in London yesterday. If I’m lucky, they’ll remember what it is to construct sentences, to be curious about each other.
Of course, they will need something to be curious about. Fear not nomophobics, for I have provided once again. What could be more conversation-provoking, after all, than a night prowler loose on the rooftops. My crimes will provide a spark, a fire to set those tongues wagging.
Chim Chim Cheroo.
Matthew Richardson is a writer of short stories. His work has featured in Gold Dust magazine, Literally Stories, Near to the Knuckle, McStorytellers, Penny Shorts, Soft Cartel, and Shooter magazine. He is an absentee member of the Glasgow Writers Group, a PhD student at the University of Dundee, a lucky husband, and a proud father.
Not necessarily in that order
Napoleon the Great
‘…many of his civil reforms stayed in place for decades, even centuries. The Napoleonic Code forms the basis of much of European law today, while various aspects of it have been adopted by forty countries on all five inhabited continents. His bridges span the Seine and his reservoirs, canals and sewers are still in use.’ Continue reading “Book Review – Napoleon the Great”
Let me catch my breath…didn’t you hear me shouting from behind you? I saw you heading right towards where it lay, buried in the leaves.
Don’t move. Not an inch, not even a millimetre. You’re lucky that it hasn’t gone off already. Continue reading “Man Trap”
The path is losing its fight with the wilderness. A few miles back, it was rutted and gashed by tyres. Now it tails off intermittently into brush and grass, the weeds on each side creeping inwards like Tour-de-France spectators eager to see their favoured rider. Soon it becomes indistinguishable with the forest floor.
My feet become my primary concern now. Roots rise from the ground like sun-bleached ribs. Sticky willow snags on my laces. I am so intent on keeping my footing that I don’t notice the ferns dragging their damp fingers over my forearms and across my rucksack as I push through the foliage. Branches reach across the sky above me, shivering against the grey sky. I am close now. Continue reading “Shack”
How can you still love him, after what he did to your mother? Their eyes say it even if their lips don’t frame it.
How could I not love him? He was my dad. You’re supposed to love your dad, aren’t you?
Besides, he never hurt me. Neither of my parents did. Every care was taken with my upbringing. I was fed well, walked to school every day, bought things that my parents couldn’t really afford, given all of the things that they never had. Even their own vices were kept from me. Mum wouldn’t touch a drop until I was in bed, and dad would never light up in the same room as me – never. During the day he’d go outside when he needed a fag. He’d stand with the back door open, letting the cold air into the kitchen. More often than not I’d go and sit out on the stoop with him. Continue reading “Tendrilling”
‘”By the first place, his startling likeness to Catherine connected him fearfully to her – That, however, which you may suppose the most potent to arrest my imagination, is actually the least – for what is not connected with her to me? and what does not recall her? I cannot look down to this floor, but her features are shaped on the flags! In every cloud, in every tree – filling the air at night, and caught by glimpses in every object, by day I am surrounded with her image! The most ordinary faces of men, and women – my own features – mock me with a resemblance. The entire world is a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I have lost her!”’ Continue reading “Book Review – Wuthering Heights”