Month: March 2015

Short Story – Luck

Harry Morgan had been playing cards all night and had lost a lot of money by the time the sun began to shine around the heavy blue curtains.
The other men he was playing with looked edgy and tired, they began to leave one by one until there were only three people in the game, Harry, Harry’s friend Tom and the man who had won most of the money, George.
“I’ve had enough. It’s morning. I’ve given you two a chance to win back. Time’s up,” George said.
Harry gritted his teeth then lent to the side and spat on the floor. An old man who sat in the corner of the dusty room looked up uncomfortably. Harry looked across at the old man he had thought to be asleep.
“You’re ahead,” is all Harry could think of saying.
“Yep and looks like I’ll stay that way.”
Harry held the edge of the desk, feeling frustrated. His mind was not working straight.
“You’re a lucky one,” Harry said and this time smiled. “Too lucky.”
“It’s morning, lets go get some breakfast Harry,” Tom said, seeing the look in Harry’s eyes, meaning trouble.

“Where are you from?” Harry asked George.

“I’m from up North.”

“Are you coming back tonight?”

“Maybe.”
“Yes or no?” Harry shouted moving the heavy table slightly.
No one spoke. There was a pile of money in front of George and his eyes went from Harry to the pile and back again.
“One more hand,” George said, “If I win I go, if you win, you win half.”
Harry’s eyes dropped as he thought about what was just offered. He took his time in thinking and worked out that half of that money was probably more than he lost and would be a good win.
“Half of that?”

“Yep.”

“What about Tom?” Harry nodded toward the thin man chain smoking beside him.
“Nothing, he ain’t in.”

“Why would you want to make a deal like that?” Harry smiled, sat back and put his hands behind his head.
“I figure you’re Harry Morgan and I’ve heard you don’t like losing.”

“You’ve heard right.”

“OK deal the cards,” George demanded.
Harry flicked the cards back and forth until they both had a hand. A truck pulled up outside the dingy little room and let off a screaming hiss.
“Man I gotta pee.” Tom said and looked about.

“Shut up,” George snapped and watched his opponent over his cards. The man had a hard steel calmness, like a man would have who played a lot of cards, a man who would win a lot and not always fairly.
“Have you been here before?” Harry suddenly asked him.
The man grinned slightly. “No.”
Concentrate Harry thought. All night his mind had wandered. He had been losing because he had no control. It was this George, he thought, he had been looking funny all night, saying things, watching him. He was probably cheating. Suddenly the anger rose in Harry again. Maybe, he thought I’ll take all the money. Carefully Harry reached down to his waist and unclipped the buckle of a knife he held there. The click was loud.
George’s eyes flickered.
“I haven’t been here before,” George suddenly said. “Two please.” He threw two cards down. “But my brother has played here.”
“Your brother?” Harry asked.
“Is he as good at cards as you are?” Tom asked lighting another cigarette and shaking his right leg back and forth.
“He’s dead, this son of a bitch stabbed him.”
Silence.
George dropped his cards, pulled a revolver out from his coat and shot Harry twice. Harry fell on the dusty ground silently like he had fallen asleep.

The stranger put the gun away, looked at the other two men, took up his money and left.

Writing The Bomber and meeting Joseph Starling

When I decided I wanted to write a book about a soldier returning to civilian life I began to research the army and issues related to service men and women such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other combat injuries.

Through friends I heard about a man named Joseph Starling. He had served in Iraq with the Army and he had been having a hard time readjusting to civilian life. He was withdrawn, quick to anger, prone to daydreaming and wandering off topic and felt that people could never understand what it is like to fight in a war if they had not been involved. He also made it clear that no one owed him anything, it was not a matter of blaming people or feeling ashamed of himself. I could tell it was a very difficult issue for him to struggle with internally.

He made a great subject for my debut novel, The Bomber. When he opened up about his life and story, it made my job very easy. Below I have shared the photos Joseph gave me or I took on my day with him. I have put a few of the points he made when I showed him the photos.

My novel, The Bomber, is set to be released on June 24th this year. Right now there is an opportunity for people to receive the book early if they would like to provide an honest review. If you would like to review this novel please go to http://form.jotform.me/form/43465641898469 and fill out the form.

THE PHOTOS OF JOSEPH STARLING

Released by Col. Olivier R. USMC

Here is a photo Joseph took while on patrol overseas. There was a lot of enemy activity in the buildings to both the left and right of the street.

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This is the view I took from an office I had the use of while I spoke to Joseph about his life and the things he encountered overseas and back home.

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This is the alley where I first met Joseph in the early hours of a November morning. He was slouched up against the wall to the left waiting for me.

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This is the alleyway where Joseph took me. He showed me the room off this alleyway where he found his friend Jessica when she was sick. He took her to the hospital when no one else would.

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The first complete building from the left is where Joseph lives in a small apartment, his floor is the second row of windows from the top. This is the last time I saw him, I waited on this side of the road as he left. I came back the next day to take this photo before I left town, I waited for a while hoping to see him, but he never came down.

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The novel as it will appear in store. Joseph Starling is the name of the main character.

(This post is a work of fiction based on my debut novel.)

Conversations I heard today

Today I walked from an underground carpark, to the main street, to a second-hand store, down to the library, to an arcade then I went to the river and took a swim. After that I went to a book store and then back to the car park. During this I listened for conversations that were happening around me or directed to me and here are the fragments.

As I left the underground carpark I went past the back of a cake store. Two men with heavy foreign accents were speaking.

“Why are there so many rats traps here?”
“For the rats.”

“Do they catch many?”
“They do, many. You would be surprised. Big ones, they clog up the traps.”

I kept walking, I went up to the main street, turned right and walked on.

Along the main street they were working on the sidewalk. Two old women were talking to each other.

“Why do they think they can direct the pedestrians to such a narrow path?”

“They have to get the work done…”

I arrived at the library and spoke to a woman there.

“My name is David O’Sullivan, I would like to speak to the head librarian please.”

“What is it about?”
“I want to let the library know about my new book coming out in June. It’s called The Bomber.”

“She is at lunch now, she will be back at one. Her name is Chrissy, she will be at this desk.”
“At one?”
“Yes.”
“I’ll come back then.”

I went to my favorite second hand store, I have been going to this store since I was fifteen. I stood in the book section looking what they had and I overheard a giant fat man speaking to a young woman.

“There’s a party on Friday night. Most of the people from my office are going, the office women, the people in my area, and people I don’t know.” He said, speaking loudly.

“It sounds good.”
“I don’t know if I will even go, Simon and Michelle are wusses, they don’t even drink. Simon doesn’t drink, Michelle told me she doesn’t drink. I suppose some people will but it is not really a party if people aren’t drinking. There’s no fun if they are all… you know Michelle is going all vegan or something, she can’t eat this, can’t drink. I don’t know if I will go… See this…” he picked up some article of clothing, “This would be worth heaps on eBay!” He looked at me, I could not resist seeing what he held. He took the red jacket and held it closer to him.

I left the store and crossed the road to an old arcade. I went along the row of shops and stopped into an antique store and examined an old red cedar desk. It was $1500.00 and had secret compartments.

A young lady sat behind the desk.

“Hello, are you the son?”
“What?”
“Did your mother come in here?”
I paused for a minute. “No.”

She stood up and came over. “I am sorry, a woman said she wanted this for her son who was buying a new desk, she measured it and took a photo. I thought you may have been her son coming in to look at it.”

“I could have been but I am not.”

“I am sorry.”

“No problem.”
“This desk has secret compartments,” she lifted a little lid underneath the desk and revealed a not so secret compartment.

I looked around for a while at the things, There was a beautiful french sideboard.

“Do you collect these things yourself?” I asked.

“I am in business with my brother-in-law. we work in the shop three days each and the rest of the time we go out and collect things, pick up items.”
“Thank you.”
“Good bye have a nice day.”
“You too.”

I left and checked the time, it was one o’clock. I went back to the library and saw the assistant telling the librarian about my visit. Their voices were too hushed for me to hear but both of them looked at me in recognition.

“My names is David O’Sullivan and my book The Bomber is coming out this year on the 24th of June. It is with Pen Name Publishing, they’re based in Indiana in the USA.”
“That’s very lucky, to be published.’
“Yes very lucky, I was very happy.”
We spoke about the types of electronic ways books can be borrowed from the library now. I was a little lost, but I would like my book to be available on all these things in the future.

“Is it coming out in hardcover?” Chrissy asked.

“Yes.”

She gave me some advice.

“I would,” I said, “like to let you know, keep you up to date, with what I am doing, you can contact me on my email address. If you could visit my website and my publishers website, I’d appreciate it. I will be available for any author events or writing events that happen at the library.”
“You should contact the newspaper when the book come out.”
I nodded.

Her voice dropped. “I should not be telling you this, but the paper is not doing so well at the moment. If you send them an email it could make a good story, about your book and you photo.”
“Yes.” I nodded. we spoke some more but some of it has slipped my mind.

“Thank you for your time, goodbye.” I said.

The day was beautiful and mild, the sun was warm but not oppressive. I made my way down to the river for a swim. I climbed the levee bank and slipped down the other side, which is very steep. A church overlooks the river and at the back are some rooms. It looks like a place for the priests or ministers to live. A dark figure stood in one of the huge windows that looks down on the river.

I undressed and sat on a large stone with my legs in the water, looking at the current and searching for any rocks or logs that could hurt me. Two men walked by with a box of beer, swearing.

“She couldn’t fucking have come to your house, she was at the hospital all night you fucking liar.”
“She came to my place the next day dickhead DIIICCCKHEAD!”

“She never even goes to your place. No one goes to your place.”
They past by and I do not think they saw me. The went further down and sat on some large rocks to drink and watch the water. I dove in. The water was cool and the current was particularly strong today. It pulled me sideways. I had forgotten my goggles and struggled to keep a straight line as I crossed to the other shore. After five laps I became tired and swam back to the rocks I had started from and climbed out. I hit my knuckle hard on a sharp rock and cut my hand open. Blood poured down my knuckles and fingers.

I made my way up to the town again and I went back to the main street. There were two books I wanted to buy. One was Mozarts letters to his father and the other was Dostoyevski’s “The meek One” two small books, for two dollars each.

As I stood among the shelves looking for the books a beautiful thin blonde woman stood next to me.

I thought ‘She is the sort of woman people write books about. I should talk to her.’ I did not speak to her, I found the books I wanted and left. This small moment is the main event of the day in my opinion. I think about her even now.

I saw on the counter a sign for a guest author signing.
“Where do you hold the author signings?” I asked the lady.

“Here in store, we make a spot up the back. Sometimes they are elsewhere but I think this one is in store. I haven’t read the flyer myself.” She picked up the ad. “Yes this one is in store.”
“It’s good to see literary events in our town.”
“Yes.”
“Do they draw in a big crowd?”
“Yes, we get a lot of people come along and buy the book.”
I wanted to tell her about my book, I wanted to do a guest signing but I wanted to hold off until closer to the date of release before I spoke to the bookstores, plus she only worked there, I think I would have to speak to the manager or owner.

I left and a pretty woman with short hair came up to me. She had greenpeace written across her shirt.
“Hello.” She said.

“Hello.”

“How are you?”
“Good.”
She looked at my hand covered in blood.
“What happened to your hand?”
“I went for a swim in the river… and hit it on… rock,” I mumbled.

“What’s your name?”
“David… no thank you, thank you for talking to me but no thank you.” I said walking away.

“Two seconds of your time…”
“No thank you.”

And then I went home and began to think about diaries and I reproached myself for not keeping one and then I thought I could keep on online and everyone could read it and all my inner thoughts would not be private.

Then I thought next time a person approaches me on the street for selling something I should ask them…

“If you know in advance I will not buy/support your cause will you still want to talk to me?” and see what they say. I would think they would say no. If they say yes I should ask them out to dinner.