Soon To Disappear

red-wheelbarrow (1)This story will disappear from my site in two days time, so I thought I would give it a fond farewell by letting you read it one last time. In the near future (two days time) it will be the lead-off story for my fourth anthology of short stories. This story also gives the collection its name.

Red Wheelbarrow.

So Much Depends on a Red Wheelbarrow.

“So much depends on a red wheelbarrow glazed by rainwater beside the white chickens.”

William Carlos Williams.

Without it I would not have been able to move the body.

I’d always taken it for granted — the wheelbarrow, not the dead body.

It had always been there, leaning up against the shed or sitting quietly, filled with weeds or split fire-wood — just waiting for the task to be completed.

It was “on special” at the hardware store on the high street.

The shop went out of business not long after, but I remember the wheelbarrows all lined up outside with a huge sign saying how much they were and how much I would be saving if I bought one.

The sign had the desired effect.

I’d needed a wheelbarrow for some time and the first one in the stack was red.

The gentleman who served me was happy to make the sale but worried about how I was going to get it home.

“Have you got a ‘ute’ lady?”

“No, why? Is it a requirement for owning a wheelbarrow?”

He looked at me for a moment. I could tell that he was wondering if I was ‘winding him up’.

He decided that I was.

“No, but she’s a big bugger, and she probably won’t fit across the back seat of your car.”

“I don’t own a car. I walked here, and I’m planning to drive her home. I’ll park her outside the supermarket and load her up with my weekly shopping, and away I go.”

“Fair enough, but she really is a bloody big wheelbarrow. Are you sure you wouldn’t like a smaller one? You can still give the grand-kiddies a ride in a smaller one. The one you picked is big enough to fit a large dead body in.”

He must have thought that he had gone a bit too far because he looked up and gave an embarrassed smile. I wasn’t worried about the ‘dead body’ crack, but I was considering running over his foot for the grandmother comment.

“Is the smaller wheelbarrow on special as well?” I said.

“No, just these huge industrial buggers that I got stuck with when I bought the business.”

“Well then; I have the right barrow, don’t I?”

I smiled and staggered off down the footpath scattering pedestrians in my wake.

I didn’t stop to buy groceries; that was just me ‘getting carried away’ with the hardware store owner.

Every time I go past his old shop I wonder what happened to him.

His shop became a Noodle Shop, then a $2 Shop, then a Tattoo Parlour, then a Bakery, then an empty shop with a strange collection of bits and pieces lying in the middle of the tiled floor.

It looked like someone had swept up after the last tenants and never came back to throw out the collection of flotsam.

I’ve always wondered what the orange penis-shaped thing was.

I’m sure that it’s not an orange penis but there has never been anyone at the shop for me to ask; which is just as well, because I think I would be too embarrassed to make that particular enquiry.

Gardening is not my favourite pastime, but since my husband died I have had to work up the enthusiasm.

Bill was the love of my life and I miss him so very much.

He left me suddenly — an industrial accident. Everyone was very kind, especially his business partner Ambrose Kruis.

Bill and Ambrose built the business up from nothing and when Bill died Ambrose inherited the business; it was part of their partnership agreement. I understood; I wasn’t upset. They were engaged in high-risk construction and if one of the partners died it would put the whole business in jeopardy, so it was only fair that the surviving partner benefit.

It also explained the massive payout that Ambrose received as a result of the ‘partners insurance’.

He was not under any obligation, but he helped me anyway.

He knew that Bill put all his capital into the business and consequently, there wasn’t any life insurance.

I had some savings, but they were for a ‘rainy day’, as Bill used to say.

Ambrose was very generous when the roof needed replacing and when the plumbing packed it in.

I knew that I could not rely on him forever, but up until I made a surprise visit to his office he had looked after me financially.

I arrived early on a Wednesday morning and his secretary let me wait in his office. “He won’t be long. He’s at a breakfast meeting with the bankers.”

I decided to make the most of my time and write a couple of letters.

I do send emails, but I still prefer the personal touch of sending a letter.

I stepped behind what used to be Bill’s desk and opened the top drawer looking for note paper.

Two more drawers were opened before I found some, and that’s not all that I found.

The writing paper was not lying flat in the drawer.

There seemed to be something small and bulky under the ream of paper. I removed the paper and the sunlight coming in low through the office window reflected off the polished silver surface of an antique Victorian hip flask.

You might be wondering why I knew what it was.

I’d given this flask to my husband on our wedding night.

It belonged to my grandfather.

It was some twenty-years old when he bought it upon arriving in England in 1915 — a young Lieutenant on his way to the front.

The flask saw a lot of action and no doubt helped to dull the terror that trench warfare brought to all those involved.

I recognised the flask from the inscription and by the dent on the top corner. It was caused by a German sniper’s bullet.

After surviving at the front for all those years, one moment of lost concentration and my grandfather’s war came to an end, only months from the close of hostilities.

The notice of his death arrived on the day that the Armistice took effect.

The flask was returned to the family along with his other belongings.

Obviously, I was aware that the flask was missing from my husband’s effects, but I put it out of my mind. He had it with him on the day he died; he always had it with him.

I’m not that bright, but I didn’t need a degree in Physics to figure out that something was terribly wrong.

Ambros had murdered my husband so that he could get control of the company and collect the insurance. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was all about the insurance and he probably expected to sell the failing business for the value of its component parts. But, to his surprise, the business survived, mainly because my husband had set it up well and the business had an excellent reputation. Its employees loved him and worked their arses off to keep the company going.

It helped that Ambrose was a bit of a womaniser and that he would often disappear for several days at a time when he was on a ‘bender’.

I invited him around to the house for a meal — something that I had done a dozen times.

During the desert course, I excused myself, “Just need to visit the ladies room.” I came back with an old shovel that my husband used to dig the veggie patch — the irony was not lost on me.

I struck Ambrose twice on the back of the head. He went down and apart from his lemon-meringue-pie landing on the floor, he did not make much of a mess.

Moving the body proved to be a bit of a chore but the trusty red wheelbarrow was up to the task.

I didn’t own a car, so Ambrose was going to have to travel in the wheelbarrow for the two-kilometre ride to the construction site that Ambrose’s business owned. There was a concrete pour scheduled for the morning.

I’m not sure what I would have said if someone had stopped me, and I’m pretty sure that I looked hilarious as I struggled along with this huge red wheelbarrow filled with an Ambrose.

I was completely exhausted when I got him there and dumped him into a pit and covered him with gravel, but I still had to get the wheelbarrow back to my house without being seen.

I was in the lap of the gods on both halves of this deadly journey but the gods smiled on me and I made it safely home.

I slept for fifteen hours straight.

I cleaned up the blood and the lemon-meringue-pie when I woke up, and waited for the police to arrive.

They never did, and what’s more, it turned out that the partnership agreement had a clause covering the eventuality of both partners dying within ten years of each other.

The business went equally to the wives of the partners.

Ambrose wasn’t married.

I had to wait seven years before Ambrose was declared dead, but I didn’t mind — the money and the business weren’t the point.

That old red wheelbarrow is very ancient and rust and a little red paint are about the only things holding it together now, but there is absolutely no way I am ever going to throw it away.

Every time I look at it I’m reminded of everything I’ve lost and also of the revenge that was mine to take.

So much depends on a red wheelbarrow.


Originally posted on araneus1:


It all started innocently enough, but by the time it was over I was very rich, lives were destroyed and three people lay dead.

“No one should ever know their future,” she said with that lovely little smile that I remember so affectionately. By the time this all developed, my mother had been dead for more than fifteen years, but I look back now and I remember her words. She was fearful of the future and what it may hold. Her fear was rooted in her past and it coloured everything she saw.

I’d been attending the meditation Circle for a couple of years. I’d ‘found my feet’ again after wandering aimlessly for many years.

“Come along one night, You’ll enjoy yourself and you might just learn something. You’re a moody bugger, Billy. You need help. Get off your arse and get your head straight.”

He was annoying, but he…

View original 2,256 more words

Book Review: The Long Weekend.


Sam and Scarlett found each other later in life; no teenage romance between these pages.

They each had a career before they met and now there are compromises to be made, but that’s okay.

It’s a little over a year since they were married and life has been hectic so a little ‘together time’ is called for. Where better than Melbourne’s best old hotel, the elegant Hotel Windsor?


Four days of dining, walking and lying in each other’s arms. At least that was the plan. “Tell God your plans and watch him laugh.”

Sam has been trying to disengage from his old life, but a police detective and a dead body lying near Melbourne’s legendary coffee bar, Pellegrini’s, have other ideas.

Pellegrinis Cafe

It’s not all bad news for Sam and Scarlett. There will be tender moments interspersed with fisticuffs and investigation.

This weekend marks a critical time in their relationship. An exciting life is threatening to get between them. Scarlett’s family empire requires her constant attention and Sam is doing his best to help her.

How did they meet and what did Sam have to do to woo her? She grew up with great wealth and Sam had fought his way to the top of his profession. In recent times, his writing had eclipsed his fame as an investigator. Sam thinks that these things are behind him, but fate has a way of catching up with people and Sam is in for a surprise or two.

The Long Weekend is a novella; the perfect length for our modern times.

There will be adventures to come for our indomitable couple, but in the meantime you can read about their weekend together and the forces that conspire to unsettle their solitude.  


Smashwords… all formats

Amazon…. Kindle

Apple… iBooks




It all started innocently enough, but by the time it was over I was very rich, lives were destroyed and three people lay dead.

“No one should ever know their future,” she said with that lovely little smile that I remember so affectionately. By the time this all developed, my mother had been dead for more than fifteen years, but I look back now and I remember her words. She was fearful of the future and what it may hold. Her fear was rooted in her past and it coloured everything she saw.

I’d been attending the meditation Circle for a couple of years. I’d ‘found my feet’ again after wandering aimlessly for many years.

“Come along one night, You’ll enjoy yourself and you might just learn something. You’re a moody bugger, Billy. You need help. Get off your arse and get your head straight.”

He was annoying, but he was right. If I didn’t do something I was going to slip back into that black hole again. I could feel it coming on.

The lady who ran the group was friendly and warm.

“Hi, I’m Trevina and I facilitate the group. We are all equal here. It’s a Circle and no one sits at the head of a Circle.”

‘Good luck with that,’ was what I was thinking, but I didn’t say it out loud.

“Thanks for making space for me Trevina. My mate dragged me along. There are a lot more blokes here than I expected?”

“Souls don’t know if they are male or female. We just ‘are’,” she said.

“I guess,” was all I could think of as I made a mental note of where the exit was.

Trevina glided off in the direction of a bunch of middle-aged females who were clutching coffee as though their lives depended on it. We were in the middle of spring, but the evenings were still cool. Someone had turned on the heater and the large room had an easy, comfortable feel to it. Chairs had been arranged in a circle and each chair had a different coloured cushion on the seat.

“Those cushions could tell a story or two,” said a rather tall lady. She stood almost as tall as my six feet and she had perfectly brushed, slightly coloured hair which could not completely disguise her seventy years of life. She had a twinkle in her eyes and I knew I had found a friend.

“Somewhere there is an Op Shop that is completely out of cushions,” I said.

“Collected over many years, I should think. Many a bottom has compressed them and they keep coming back for more.”

“What would you say that was a sign of?” I asked.

“Perseverance, I should think,” she said.

“So what do you do here ……..?”

“Norma. We find ourselves.”

“Sounds like something someone would have said in a 70s movie,” I said.

“If you keep coming you will find out what I mean.”

“Now you have me intrigued. I was thinking about what we were going to have for supper when we eventually get out of here and now you’ve got me thinking about hippie girls in tight jeans with free love in their hearts.”

“I used to be one of those girls. It was a lot of fun at the time.” She gave me that smile that I was to see on the face of many of the people who regularly attended this Circle. Anywhere else, and I would say that it was smug, but not here. Not in this room. Here it seemed to suggest that they knew something that the rest of us did not know. They knew that the knew. Amazingly, they were happy to share what they had discovered.

I looked to see if I could find the friend who had brought me. Ross was standing on the far side of the room talking to a skinny female. She hugged him and he walked in my direction.

“What’s with all the hugging? Not that I want to discourage females from hugging me, but I must say that I haven’t come across so much hugging since I was at kindergarten.”

“You’ll get used to it. It comes with the philosophy.”

“You haven’t walked me into some religious cult have you, Ross?”

“No, you crazy bugger! Exactly the opposite. Everyone here takes personal responsibility for the way they live their lives. They don’t live by some old man’s dogma.”

“Okay, take it easy. I was just joking. So no religious mumbo-jumbo. So what do you do?”

“We meditate and we discuss stuff. Some of the regulars are Mediums and Psychics and they need the mental discipline that regular meditation brings.”

“Do you have any fortune tellers?” I was winding him up, but he didn’t bite.

Someone walked past us and headed for the coffee urn and I could have sworn that they said, “That’s why you are here.”

I turned and looked at them, but they didn’t look back. The person who might have said that was a short dark haired female, probably in her late thirties. She was the only female in the room who was wearing a dress, all the others were rugged up in slacks and pants.

“She’s cute and she’s going to find that house.”

“What house? Do you know her? What the fuck are you on about Billy? You’re doing it again.”

“Doing what?”

“Never mind. Just find a seat and try not to annoy anyone.”

“Fuck you blondy. They love me here.”

“I’m not blond anymore dimwit, I’m old and grey.”

He was right. We were ‘getting on a bit’. Not exactly old, but not young anymore either.

So, the Circle settled down and the meditation began.

Ross was right, and as the next couple of years went by he continued to be right. My mind settled down, I discovered that I could do things that most people could only dream about and I learned to love this rag-tag bunch of misfits.

I hugged a lot of people and I listened as the Mediums among us connected with the Spirits of dead relatives and friends. I watched the tears flow and I saw the laughter in their eyes. I learned that I could, under certain circumstances, tell what was going to happen to people in the future. I wasn’t the only one who could do this, but I was the best.

As long as these happenings stayed within the Circle there weren’t any problems. We all understood the unwritten rules. No lottery numbers and no bad news.

For some reason, it was impossible to read your own future, only someone else’s.

Mostly, the information was vague and general, but helpful. People in the Circle loved it and I became a bit of a minor celebrity. My ego could handle it and because I was so grateful for my deliverance from the black hole of depression I was very careful not to do anything that might jinx my good fortune.

If I had to put my finger on it, I would say that it all started to unravel when I switched to the daytime sessions.

Trevina ran a nighttime group which I attended, and a Friday morning group. She asked me if I would like to come to the morning group. My work schedule was flexible so I said yes.

When we took a break for a cup of tea I liked to sit out on the footpath in front of the old shop that was our meeting place. The building had a long and colourful history and I’m now quite sure that its energy contributed to what was about to happen.

The group would be deep in conversation fuelled by the events of the morning and copious amounts of caffeine. I’d take a chair out into the sunlight and sit quietly with my mug of terrible coffee and gather my thoughts. It wouldn’t be long before someone would wander out and join me, but for a few moments I had the sun and the solitude and it was wonderful.

The shop had a verandah which, in the days when it was built, would have protected the shoppers from the inclement weather that is a feature of our mountain climate.

In order to catch the rays of the sun I moved my chair slightly out from under the metal clad verandah and as I look back I realise that this was the final piece of the puzzle.

As the pretty lady with the coloured hair joined me and broke my solitude I noticed a delivery van pull up. The driver got out and proceeded to open the back of his van.

“He’s going to have a hell of a headache,” I heard myself say.

Dianne, the pretty lady with the colourful hair said, “What do you mean?”

I blinked a couple of times and tried to form an answer.

The delivery driver opened the back of his van and a large cardboard box hit him right between the eyes. He went down hard and a bunch of us retrieved him from under the contents of his badly packed van.

The wounds on the front and the back of his head were producing a lot of blood and some of the bystanders were expressing their alarm.

“He’ll be fine. But in a couple of days, when the police search his house he’s going to be in a heap of trouble.”

The onlookers went quiet for a moment and many of them were looking at me.

“A garage full of stolen white goods,” I said.

A week later, at our next Circle, someone showed me the local newspaper.

The delivery driver had been arrested after the police visited him to talk about a noisy dog complaint. They had the wrong house and the wrong street and they apologised and turned to leave when the driver’s son opened the garage door to retrieve his skateboard.

Everyone thought it was funny, but I had a sinking feeling. This premonition was way wilder than anything I had come up with before.

I took my cup of piss-weak coffee out on to the footpath and soaked up the sunlight.

When I opened my eyes there were a bunch of people standing around me silently waiting for me to say something.

“What the bloody hell do you lot want?” I said.

“Tell us what is going to happen,” said a slightly scruffy older lady.

“You knew about the truck driver,” said a tall man in workman’s clothes.

“I’ll tell you what is going to happen. You are all going to bugger off and stop annoying me. I don’t know anything you don’t know.”

This wasn’t exactly true. As I looked at each person I could see a scene being played out in my head.

The little boy with the scab on his knee was going to get a puppy for his birthday and they would grow up together. The scruffy old lady would be dead before Christmas and no one would come to her funeral. The bloke in the workman’s clothes would find a wallet and return it to its owner intact. The owner of the wallet would in turn facilitate the entry of the workman’s son into a private school and the experience would lead the boy into a sad life of drugs and crime.

“Don’t give the wallet back. Stick it in the mail and don’t put your address on the package.” The workman looked at me like I had just stepped on his foot.

“How did you know about the wallet. I only found it this morning?” he said.

As I looked at him I knew he would ignore my advice. I wanted to tell him what was going to happen, but I had a strong sense that what I was seeing was going to happen no matter what I said.

The worker looked shocked as he produced the wallet from his back pocket and held it in mid-air. I had the feeling that he wanted it to fly away so that he would not have to decide.

Things escalated rather quickly from there.

My mate could see the profit potential and I tried to talk him out of it. I like the quite life. I needed a bit more money, who doesn’t, but this seemed to me to be against the spirit of what we had learned.

I did my best to avoid the limelight, but I knew when I looked at Ross that he would eventually work out that his ability combined with the energy of this amazing old building would produce a similar result for him and anyone else with a modicum of ability.

It got crazy and dangerous and I did my best to steer clear.

There were a few dead bodies, as a result, but I’ll tell you about them some other time.

I’ll bet you are wondering how I became rich, especially as I mentioned that I cannot read for myself.

Cast your mind back to me sitting outside the shop in the sun before anyone knew what I could do.

Across the road from our meeting place is a shop that sells newspapers, greeting cards and lottery tickets.

I was enjoying the sunlight when I noticed an agitated young man. He attracted my attention as he stood outside the shop obviously deciding whether to go in or not. It occurred to me that he thought that this was his last chance.

As I looked at him I could see two possible futures for him and each one hinged on his decision. As he stood frozen on the footpath his future was nothing but misery and disappointment ending in his death from alcohol-related complications.

Eventually, he moved towards the shop door and the pictures I saw changed dramatically. The money he was destined to win would not solve all his problems, but his life certainly improved, at least it did for the foreseeable future.

In my head, I watched him filling out the lottery form. I quickly wrote down the numbers and, needless to say, we shared the massive amount that the lottery had built up as it had remained unclaimed for several weeks.

I have never told anyone this story and I’m counting on you to keep it to yourself.

People get a bit crazy where money is concerned and I like a quite life. 

Major Word


Retirement was only a few days away.

His farewell celebration had been planned and catered for.

Everything was in place.

The Major had killed a lot of people on many continents and in many different wars.

His country was famous for invading and taming the inhabitants then leaving what was left of the country to its own devices, only to invade again a few decades later.

This was a heck of a job.

Constant warfare against inferior forces with lots of guns and gadgets which always gave his forces the upper hand.

Superior firepower always won the day — except for that one time.

Life was never boring and he didn’t have time to think about the people he killed.

Of course, he didn’t kill them personally. The people under his command did the actual killing, he simply gave the orders.

Naturally, he saw the news footage — got a glimpse of the suffering, but none of it penetrated his armour plated heart.

His country right or wrong.

The celebrations were in full swing when Private Momment emptied the chambers in his sidearm.

He reloaded and emptied them again.

This went on for quite a while before private Momment got bored and turned his weapon on himself.

Major Word was struck somewhere towards the end of the second reload.

There were the inevitable inquiries preceded by the plethora of false and misleading news reports.

The final report came out months after the incident and was buried on page seventeen of the largest selling newspaper in that city.

You are thinking that it should have been on the front page?

Unfortunately, the truth, once it was revealed, was unpalatable.

Had it been an attack by an undercover enemy sympathiser it would have received more ink, but, unfortunately, Private Momment was just a spoilt arsehole who believed that he had been passed over for promotion and decided to seek glory in momentary headlines.

There were so many ironies in this sad affair that it was amazing that someone had not tripped over one of them and sprained an ankle.

You are probably wondering why Private Momment was not shot dead by one of the soldiers present? The army base had been hit by a series of shootings involving army personnel in the past few years so they banned weapons on the base. The guards at the gate were armed to the teeth, but everyone else wasn’t.

Of course, a lot of people were blamed for allowing Private Momment to smuggle a weapon onto the base, but there was little satisfaction in that because most of them had been killed or wounded in the initial attack.

There is nothing patriotic about being killed by an entitled, well-trained killing machine, on home soil, but they gave Major Word a big send-off none the less. After all, he had killed a lot of people in the name of his country and that was worth remembering.

Book Review: Book Bundle — Loyal and True, Passerby

Book Bundle pdf

To celebrate the upcoming release of my latest book (Red Wheelbarrow) on November 30th, 2015, I’m offering a BOOK BUNDLE of the first two books in this anthology series at a discount price of $4.99 USD. This is a 38% discount! 77 stories and 57,000 words. Ideal for reading on a train, tram, bus, sitting under a tree or warming yourself by the fire.



I’d been delayed, and as I walked back to my table the rising sun sent a soft golden glow across the Piazza.

My assistant was no longer sitting at the table. His working night had ended and he was probably propping up the bar at Il Baccaro or wrapped around one of the night owl females who frequent this part of the city.

I love the early morning. Most of the night people are seeking refuge in a cafe; bacon and eggs over the latest wholegrain toast, black coffee, no sugar and a bleary-eyed remembrance of an evening that will not come again.

As I approach the table I see my tally book lying where my assistant had left it. My keys lie on top of the book, undisturbed.

I like keys. I prefer an analogue solution to security wherever I can find it. I’m not disturbed by electronics, it’s just that I like the feeling of a key turning in a lock and the sound of keys jangling in my pocket.

The huge black umbrella is not offering any shade to the two well dress gentlemen who are seated at my table, the sun is way too low. I have a sense that there was a third man sitting where I usually sit. He hasn’t been absent from the table for very long and I’m wondering if he is due to return.

The two well-dressed men give me a lazy glance.

I’m still in evening dress and although I’m a little dusty I’m still well presented after a long night of keeping ‘book’ for the rich and famous. Millions of dollars and only a few slips of paper to show for all that activity.

My two “guests” are dressed in expensive suits and carrying expensive guns, well concealed. The value of what they are wearing collectively would purchase a well-kept second-hand Mercedes. Where they come from the streets are full of Mercedes and during their Civil War, a few decades ago, the news footage showed armed men and ambulances and swirling smoke. Even the taxis were Mercedes. The vehicle of choice for a Middle Eastern civil conflict.

My occupation didn’t require me to carry a concealed weapon, but I did anyway. A large calibre two barreled Derringer strapped to my right ankle and I’m proud to say that I’ve only needed to draw it once.

Part of my job is calculating the odds; seeing the trouble coming before it arrives. I have had to dodge the occasional closed fist and the well-aimed polished boot, but mostly I can calm a situation down before it comes to that. Sore losers are an occupational hazard.

I brushed the dust and a few flower petals off my seat before I sat down and the larger of the two well-dressed gentlemen said, “You may not want to sit there Mr Barker. In fifty seconds, it is going to be unhealthy for anyone who is sitting in that chair.”

Fifty-seconds isn’t very long to decide if he was just being a smart arse and I’d used up a few seconds calculating the odds.

It seemed safer to assume that he was telling the truth when he and his silent companion, who was directly in the follow-through line of fire, got slowly up from the table and walked away. The taller one had to duck to avoid hitting his head on the umbrella.

I picked up my book and my keys and left the table with as much composure as I could muster.

After I had taken a few steps I heard the zip of the bullet and the crack of the splintering chair and table top. The bullet would have struck the silent gentleman somewhere between the groin and the kneecap.

There was no audible bang. The bullet must have come from a considerable distance. The police would work all that out at their leisure, but now I had some celebrating to do. I had “dodged a bullet” and made a lot of money all in the course of an eventful evening.

Now, if I was lucky, Gilda would be home waiting for me.

I must say that’s misleading. Gilda never waits for me. She does her own thing. It’s just that we share a very expensive apartment and we sometimes arrive there at the same time, usually early in the morning. On those occasions, we sometimes do the sorts of things that men and women like to do.

The apartment has glass walls on two sides and I never draw the blinds. I love the view that it affords. The ancient part of the city is, by now, bathed in the golden light that this part of the world is famous for.

This morning, Gilda arrived home before I did. She is making eggs in her underwear. Her body isn’t perfect. Her torso is slightly too long when compared to her beautiful legs. I consider her breasts to be perfect, but some would say that they could be a little larger. She has long black hair, dimples on her bottom and delightful pink toes.

Last night she had been wearing a black bra and panties; lots of lace. I see the dress she was wearing hanging on the outside of her huge wardrobe.

With the exception of the bathroom, our apartment is one large room with the king sized bed in the middle. I hope to be lying on that bed a little later and I’m hopeful that I will be knee-deep in Gilda, but it will depend on the type of night she has had.

My carnal ‘ace’ will be the story about nearly being shot. That kind of “near miss” adventure story has given me a green light before.

Gilda gathers information and what she gathers makes her a lot of money. It’s exciting and dangerous and she loves every minute of it. She has an incredible memory and in her line of work it needs to be.

She knows I’m in the apartment, but she does not look up from her breakfast preparations. I remove my jacket, tie and Derringer and stand behind her. She smells amazing. Her own scent produced over a long night’s work mixed with the remnants of her French perfume and my equipment is on full alert.

I place my hand on her bottom and my expectations for the morning are in my hand. If she brushes me away it will mean that the night went badly and so will my morning.

She does not react, but neither does she dispense with my wandering hand. So far so good. My luck is holding.

“If you keep doing that you won’t get any breakfast,” she says in a voice that gives me further hope.

“That’s a tough choice for a man, food or carnal delights.”

“I didn’t say you had to choose.”

I couldn’t tell if she was smiling because I was looking in another direction and imagining my good fortune.

A good breakfast and the delicious Gilda to follow.

I didn’t get shot and I’m going to get laid.

It’s been an awesome day.

Dancing in the Dark.


Michael died suddenly while on a business trip.

I didn’t get to say goodbye.

I took it for as long as I could, but then I couldn’t take it anymore. I knew that people would be sad and that some of them would say ‘I took the easy way out’. Screw them! What do they know? I doubt that they have ever felt this bad.

My despair must have been showing because my best friend Julie decided to talk to me. Up until this time she had tried to be a good and supportive friend by being around when I needed her, but unlike almost everyone else she had refrained from giving advice.

I suppose she felt I was slipping away.

She was right.

I’d made up my mind. I was going to go and be with Michael.

I had it all planned. I was going to say goodbye as subtly as possible to all the people who had meant something to me. I had chosen the coming Monday to “shuffle off this mortal coil.” Monday seemed like the perfect day for such a deed. No one drops in unexpectedly on a Monday, but Julie did.

“You know that I don’t interfere,” (it’s true, she doesn’t),” but I’m really worried about you. I have this horrible feeling that you are about to do something that cannot be undone.”

Julie had knocked on my door at the ungodly hour of 9:30 am. For a change, I was up and dressed in preparation for my ‘departure’. If she had not banged on the door I would have been gone within the hour.

“It’s time for me to go Julie. I did my best, but I can’t do it anymore. I’m going to miss you most of all.” She didn’t show any signs of surprise when I said this, she just looked at me as if she was deciding whether or not to tell me something.

“I’m glad you told me that because it makes it much easier for me to tell you this.”

She had my attention.

“Michael comes to you in your dreams. Am I right?”

“Yes, he does,” I said

“Usually at about 2:30 am?” she said.

“Yes. How did you know?”

“Because it happens to me as well,” she said. Julie’s husband died more than ten years ago.

“I’m not telling you what to do, but I am suggesting that you put off your departure for twenty-four hours. Do you have a room that can be completely blacked out? A room that is big enough to move around in and not bump into the furniture?”

“As it happens, yes I do, but what has that got to do with anything?” She ignored my question.

“I want you to be in that room at exactly 2:30 am dressed in your prettiest party dress. Move all of the furniture out of the way and make sure that it is dark. Turn off the lights and remain standing. I know this sounds crazy, but what have you got to lose?”

She had a point. One more day couldn’t hurt. I must admit that, just for a moment, I thought she might be just stalling me so that the police could drag me off to the funny farm, but that wasn’t the case.

My alarm went off at 2:00 am and I got out of bed and put on the dress that Michael had bought for me for our anniversary. I fixed my makeup and brushed my hair. I felt like an idiot, but I stood in the middle of the darkened room and waited for 2:30 am to roll around.

I could hear the dance band in the distance and it slowly got louder. Coloured light began to fill the room as the orchestra hit its stride.

Michael tapped me on the shoulder and I spun around.

“Dancing in the dark is no fun on your own, can I cut in?”

I didn’t speak because I was afraid that all this might go away as quickly as it came so I smiled demurely and took his hand.

We danced until the orchestra leader looked pleadingly at Michael.

“I’ve got a wife and kids at home mate. Any chance we could pack it in for the night?” he said.

I looked around and saw that all the other couples had gone home. It was only Michael and I left on the dance floor.

“Fair enough mate,” said Michael.

We hadn’t spoken a word for the entire evening. We didn’t need to.

“Thank you for dancing with me, fair lady,” said Michael. He bowed to me and walked off into the darkness.

The room went dark and I was suddenly very tired. I slept until early in the afternoon when I was awoken by a knock on the door.

I ushered Julie in and made us both a coffee.

“How did you go last night?” she said.

“How often does that happen?” I heard myself ask.

“As often as you want it to happen,” she said.

We sat and drank our coffees and gazed out of the window. Friends who will sit silently with you are excellent friends.

“What are you going to wear tonight?” Julie asked.

“I haven’t decided yet. Probably the blue, but maybe the green. Michael always liked the green.” I said.

“No more thoughts of leaving us?” Julie asked.

“No, I don’t think so. I love dancing in the dark. Maybe I’ll stay around a while.”

Tasty Pig Cafe.


Terry had been working the night shift at the Tasty Pig Cafe for the past two years. It wasn’t what he had dreamed of doing for the rest of his life but the pay was reasonable and he got the room above the shop for half rent as long as he worked at the Caf’. Terry didn’t much like daytime people. Nighttime people weren’t much better, but at least there were fewer of them. He’d been discharged from the army after surviving the entire war. He had seen and done things he didn’t want to remember and the monotonous routine of the corner cafe kept him from thinking too much about what had gone before. He had a library card, a small dog and all he could eat, which was more than most people had. Terry was practising gratefulness — it was  a slow process. Years of staying alive in a world where most people wanted to kill you had taught Terry to quickly assess people, and this well-dressed lady sitting in his front window staring across the street was not up to any good.