#shortstory

Two visions

An elderly man stands in the art gallery,

Before a picture of the Virgin Mary, and weeps.

I see him, tears on his cheeks, eyes swelled in red-dreams.

I can only imagine what he is thinking.

The years have washed upon him

In a frenzy, unexpected, unstoppable

Time has stepped upon him and moved on.

Now in front of such beauty, he weeps and in weeping feels sorry

For all the things he missed, either

In long nights at home in suburbs, wondering what could have happened if only…

Or

Merciless nights in bars, finding new lovers, never settling down and finding, too late

That it is too late.

Both, both miss much.

You cannot have it all,

And if you are lucky

At 90, stand before the Virgin Mary and weep.

 

 

This morning, at the bookstore where I meet old friends,

A man shouts into his phone

“We pay the payroll not them!”

He continued beside a shelf labelled ‘Literary Classics.’

“It’s not those guys who call the shots. Well you try it your way and if that works

Then well done,”

he stops before a shelf of poetry, and his hand reaches for but stops mid-stretch

“But I’m telling you; it will not go down like that!”

Speech finished, he hangs up as he passes Shakespeare.

He leans against a pillar as if he is out of breath

Out of life

And then pushing his phone deep into his pocket he takes the stairs,

Ascends to the street,

And is gone.

Something had taken his appetite for reading

A payroll will starve a poet.

The day I saw God

There are no more Gods

Still, I have mine.

I ask my Gods for help

And I curse them

I have them in the trees and the rocks.

I was busy, thinking about cigarettes and architecture,

Standing on the side of a road

An old man pulls over in a small truck.

He hobbles out of the car, one leg shorter than the other.

A pretty dark eyed woman

Maybe his wife, younger than he is, sits in the passenger seat looking frightened.

“Do you believe in God?”

He asks me.

My mind races, what answer should I give him?

It would thrill me to say no-

To say something mean about it all-

But I say yes I do.

“Good!” he says pleased, and then invites me to his Church.

As he drives off, I watch the woman in the cabin. She is pretty, her skin shines like money.

Yesterday, while I walked the city streets…

I found a café in a back lane in the city,

it looked like a nice old place, so I went inside

ordered a cup of tea and some toast.

An old woman, dark, with long grey hair brought me my order

and she stood before me a moment and said I looked like a man she used to know,

only I am a little fatter.

 

This man used to live on a farm,

she said,

he would take her for walks along lonely dirt tracks

they would light a fire and make love when the night fell

all in the open,

under the trees.

One day they were married

and he took her to the city.

She held up her hands and showed me the rings she wore,

this one, she said, pointing to a golden ring

is her wedding ring.

Three weeks into the marriage he started to beat her,

and he would beat her at least once a week.

It was the city that made him crazy,

she said.

But he is dead now

his heart stopped.

I’m glad the beatings have stopped.

She stood beside my table for a few more minutes

looking past me out the window.

The lane shone in the weak light,

its narrow spaces made the city seems taller,

but inside the café it seemed like a country town.

I’ve worked here for forty years; she said finally,

quietly

and moved away, leaving me behind in silence

leaving me with her memory.

 

 

A poem – God Must Be The Stars

He comes down the sidewalk

his shoes clacking on the cement

wearing a purple shirt and high heeled cowboy boots

He turns to walk across the freshly laid turf on the bright green lawn

deliberately sinking his heels into the soft grass

making huge divots as he goes.

He hits his wife at home

sometimes in front of an open window when he is drunk

once his son came home from School

and beat his father

but the son went away again

and his mother stayed.

I looked out from my window at what I think are stars

but they are the lights on top of buildings

to stop air planes flying into them.

I close my book of astronomy

and regret telling people I could see the scorpion

when all I could see was the Metro Tower.

Fly across -look around

believe that God holds all things together

the fear of forgetting all that I love on Earth

makes me walk in the woods for hours

Clouds, daisies, your hand on mine

green grass under a blue and grey sky

Actual confessions from various anonymous people

1

I had been wishing for Simon Weston* to be dead for a long time. Since I was 15 years old. When he did die I was 22 and it seemed strange to me. We were the same age, he had given me a hard time in high school. I found out he was dead from the internet.

He died in a car accident on a dirt road. He had crashed into a tree. I later heard, and it might have been a rumor, that he was drunk.

He left behind a daughter who was maybe 2 years old and I thought, was it right all those when I was a teen to have wished him dead?

He left school at 16, I never saw him again. But now he was dead and I was afraid it was because of my thoughts.

*not real name

2

I saw her again, this time she was running late for the bus and I asked the bus driver to wait for her. He waited and she climbed in the bus. I did not speak to her but I kept watching her.

I am sure she knew I was watching her and it probably annoyed her.

I don’t understand women.

3

I used to work at McDonalds as a teenager. Some of the managers were sometimes really mean to me so one day I stole a bag of chocolate fudge and another time I stole a box of chocolate flakes. (for the sundaes) I don’t feel bad about it because the managers would give me such a hard time. I mean they really screamed at me and made fun of me.

4

A guy did not stop at a crossing for me. I looked at him driving the car as he went past, he looked like a fat slob for hours later all I could think of was cutting his throat like the terrorists do. Later when I calmed down I thought, maybe he just didn’t see me, it was dark and there was a big car parked right near the crossing entrance. Still I had thought about running the blade across his fat neck.

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On the 24th of June, (only a few days away) my debut novel comes outs.

Get your copy of The Bomber as soon as you can.

It is an incredible work of fiction.

http://ow.ly/i/bnWnl

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Leaving home

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She was, I suppose is, my best friend.

She left home last week. She moved to the city.

Our last night together she made me bring over all my art books and she put on The Smiths and we listened to the music and we went through the art together. My favorite was a picture of Icarus (see pic) her favorite was a Van Gogh but I am not going to tell you which one because that is my special memory and I feel it would make it worth less if I shared it. (not worthless but of less worth).

We were in her room and she told me all the things she would do in the city, she was so excited. She would be studying art and going to the theatre and working part time in a place that sends out a lot of internet orders and she would be in the office doing the paper work.

She asked me if I would come and see her, I will of course, but I don’t know when. I said I would send her a copy of my novel when it comes out next week. (I haven’t any hard copies yet) and I told her I would come up and see King Lear at the theatre in December with her.

She cried a little and put on an old Neil Young album called Harvest and we sat in the dark and spoke about life and literature.

“I think I’ll pack it in and buy a pick up, take it down to LA…”

The next day I came early and helped her to the train station. We sat on the platform and waited and it was a grey dark day. The clouds came rushing over like a tempest being born. We sat side by side, looking out at the birds in the farms nearby. The track was long and cold, we spoke little but there was a peace over us. Her bag beside me, separating our legs. I looked down at her poor little knees, she wore a yellow dress and a denim jacket.

“How do I look?” she asked.

“Fine.”
“I mean for my first day in the city?”
“Good, you’ll fit right in.”
“I hope I fit in, but I hope I stay myself you know?”
“I know,” I answered but I didn’t know. “You’ll have a great experience. You’ll be seeing everything for the first time, with fresh eyes. Use it in your art.”
“I want to. I can’t wait to meet all the artists. The school I am going to is really good.”
The train came around the corner and we watched it roll in. It’s blue engine pulling quietly down the track.

“This is it,” I said.
“It is.” she hugged me, and she was warm and soft. I felt so sad.

“I have something for you,” I said. I gave her a copy of The Great Gatsby.

“Thank you,” she said. I liked her, she never overdid anything. You could give her something or say something to her and she didn’t get all mushy or fake about it.

When she climbed on I saw her only one more time out the window as she waved to me over the top of some old women. I waved back and watched the train pull away and disappear down the long straight line. She was gone and I was alone and the wind, as if knowing I was alone blew cold and the first drops of rain began to fall, I hurried home.

She called me that night, her first night in the city.

“I can access the roof and I can see right over the city,” she said. “It is a beautiful view, but I can’t see the stars.”
“No,” I said.

“I hate not seeing the stars.”
“How is the apartment.”
“It’s okay, it’s small but at least I have it to myself. There are so many people on this floor. The art school is only just down the street so I can walk there easy.”
“Be careful if you walk about at night,”
“I will be. I miss you.”
“I miss you,” I said.

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My debut novel The Bomber comes out 24th of June. Have a look at it in the links on my page.

I can’t wait to send my friend a copy.

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Side of the road

Simon and Robert were walking along the side of the road heading home. The road was quiet because it ran no where but up past a few old houses and then some farms.

Simon lived next door to Robert, their houses backed onto a forest and the boys spent a lot of time walking through the trees, swimming and playing.

A truck had been down the road recently, they could tell because it had run off the road and left huge tire tracks on the dirt.

“I wish the school bus’d come down here and drop us off, instead a makin’ us walk all the way from the highway,” Simon said throwing a rock at a fence post and hearing the satisfying clang when it hit.

“Yeah but I spose for just us two there ain’t much point. I like the walk anyway, it’s a good half hour I don’t have to spend at home.”

They walked on looking at a dead snake that lay rotting in the long grass. It was flaky skin and bone now. They had been watching it since it was newly dead, run over. First the ants had eaten it now it was baking away in the hot sun.
“When school ends next week we’ll have to get busy on that tree house by the lake.”
“I reckon.”
“What’s this we have here?”
The boys walked up to some things lying in the grass. It was a box, busted open. Inside were books and magazines. It was a treasure chest and the boys flung their bags down and gathered around it.

They began to pull the items out.

“Look at this here,” Robert said pulling out a pornographic magazine. He pulled it open and held it up. “Look at this Simon.” He turned the magazine around to show a blonde woman completely naked laying on a red background. Her blonde hair fell down around her face and she had a large smile. Her huge breasts pointed up at the camera and she had hard pink nipples.

“I would say…” Simon responded but didn’t finish.
“My brother showed me a few of these type magazines he has. He says he likes the snatch shots best.”
“Yeah I reckon the snatch shots work out the best.”
“You know what a snatch is?”
“Shure do.”
“What is it?”
“It’s when the photographer gets the lady when she ain’t looking and it looks natural.”

Robert laughed but he didn’t say anything. “You mind if I keep this one?”
“No you have it, My mother would kill me if she found it.”
“You have what ever is left, it’s just books and shit. I don’t want it.” Robert pulled open his bag and pushed the magazine into his science book and closed it. “Ain’t no one looking in there.”
Simon went through the box and pulled out a few things. They were all bad books mostly. Girl’s books about high school, dating and horses. He found a manual for an old mack truck and a Ford Motor Company brochure from nineteen-eighty. He had given up of getting anything when he found a book. It was D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover. He was about to throw it to the side of the road as if it were another piece of pulp fiction when he remembered the name. His mother had spoken of the author and said he was the best there was and the local library didn’t know what he was like or they wouldn’t have had his books there. He remembered his mother saying Lawrence understood how to write about life and love better than most others. He pushed the book into his bag.

“What cho get?” Robert asked.

“Just a book.”
“You like to read don’t you?”
“Yeah,”
Robert said nothing and the boys walked on.

“If you come round this afternoon I’ll let you shoot my air rifle.” Robert said looking at the crows gathering in a field beside them, “If you ain’t too busy reading,” he laughed.

Shunt stone

She began to take the things off the shelf one by one,

first she took the radio and flung it against the wall and it came apart in three neat pieces, it reminded me of the time at work a fellow fell into a pressing machine and had his head split open. His body lay next to the top of his head, while the middle part, the brains and the rest, lay in a messy warm pile on the floor. The radio had three parts too, the back, the middle with all the electronics and the radio’s body. The only difference was the lack of blood. When that man died, there was blood everywhere, like wine from many smashed bottles.

Next she grabbed the children’s art they had made at school.

She flung these about, pages of paintings, clay sculptures, paddle pop stick things, all thrown and smashed.

Then there were two glass vases that went against the brick wall, they exploded with beauty and crystalline dreams. The powder floated for a moment in the air.

Last was a lamp. It was a woman holding up a light bulb with a delicate silk shade.

She held it in the air for a moment, taunting me, she knew I loved it, then she sent it to a shattering death across the room.

Breathing heavily, half naked she stood there looking at me. I looked down to her bare feet.

“Be careful you’ll step on some glass,” I said.

She raised her feet as if to stamp on the glass, she held her small well shaped foot there for a moment and I waited. But sensing it would hurt her more than me, she took it away, crossing the room carefully. She locked herself in the bathroom.

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Check out my new book on amazon at

http://www.amazon.com/Bomber-David-OSullivan-ebook/dp/B00VQHFI9E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1434097535&sr=8-1&keywords=the+bomber+david+o%27sullivan

It comes out on 24th of June, then you can buy it in hard copy or e-book

High School

When I was thirteen I made it onto the all stars debating team. I was not good enough to be one of the four debaters, instead I was in a back up role. What they called the trust. If one of the debaters was sick I would step in, but my main role was to look up things in the dictionary and help write debates. I was on the bench.

The team was traveling to a nearby city to debate another school. I lived in Wagga Wagga, (a very small city) and we were going to Albury, (a comparably sized city) to debate their best team. We piled into the tiny bus and headed away.

The head of the debate team was someone I held in great respect. I thought he was astonishingly intelligent. I knew he was terrible at sports, I knew he was not popular with girls but, where I knew Shakespeare was a literary god, he knew and had read the actual plays, where I was aware of the world of Charles Dickens, he knew the characters intimately. It was like I was a boy in a blacking factory peering out into the cold London street of literature through a foggy pane, while he was in the globe theatre itself writing and performing the plays.

He was sixteen years old, he was over six feet tall, he commanded the debate team with a sure and decisive hand. If we were to win the debate it would be down to him.

We sat up the back of the bus, we owned the highway. The leader, I will call him Tom, began to speak.

“Lets play a game,” he said. “I will ask questions and see if you guys can get them right. First question to you Michael.”
Michael was a nice guy, same age as me. He is now a surgeon.
“What year heralded the beginning of the French Revolution?” Tom asked.

Michael thought for a moment. “1789?” he said.

“Yep.” Tom went through the players and they all answered correctly. He came to me.

“Easy one for you,” he said, “What is the capital of France?”

I knew the answer, but I was so nervous I could not get it. I just could not get the word out.

“Don’t you know?” he asked, leering at me with disdain.

“Uhh,” was all I could say.

“Anyone?” He finally said.

“Paris,” they all shouted.

Tom looked at me in disgust.

The actual debate did not go too well for me either. In the class room where it was held the teacher asked us why there were five of us.

“He’s the trust,” we answered her.

“No, we don’t do that here, that’s cheating.”

I answered quickly, “I’ll just sit and watch then.”

“No you won’t!” she bellowed. “You’ll sit outside, keep quiet and don’t wander off anywhere.”
So for the debate I sat outside and waited. Anger welling up inside me. One time I moved away and she came rushing out and telling me to stay where I was, sitting on the ground.

When the debate was finished I was so angry I did not even ask how it went. I think we lost. That teacher was a real son of a bitch.

A few months later, before Tom graduated to Senior high, we held a writers group after school where all the kids wanting to be writers came together to talk about our work.

It was held in Mr. Hall’s English classroom. (Mr. Hall being the greatest English teacher at our school).

After the last bell, we rushed down to a corner store next to the school, loaded our pockets with  candy and sugary lollies, and came back to class.

Tom called every one around and took out a huge folder.

“This is my novel,” he said, “It is almost finished.”

He opened the folder and there were hundreds of pages of writing, thousands and thousands of words, a real novel. No one could have guessed he had such a treasure. Where we were writing poems about motorbikes and army men he had written a real book.

He let us read the first lines. The penmanship was neat easy to read. It began something like:

“On the planet Grossmorss something moved about the craters. It oozed like slime, but was hard enough to move huge rocks aside like pebbles. Captain Tom Draft sat at the controls of the Space-Eagle trying to charge the batteries for lift off when he heard a noise like tearing metal coming form the base of the ship…”
“That’s enough,” he said and slapped the folder shut.

“That was great Tom,” I said.

He looked at me, I could not tell if he recognized me or not.

“I want to be a writer one day,” I said.
“What do you want to write, verse or prose?”
I was unsure, “books,” I said.

“I don’t think any one would read your stuff,” he declared. “If you ever write a book it will never be as good as this.” he slapped his hand on his folder.

Those words still haunt me. I think he is still writing, I know he is an English teacher now. I keep expecting to see his name announced in the new releases, I still expect to see his book about Captain Tom Draft in the book stores and it worries me that it will be a better book than mine.

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THE BOMBER is out 24th of June with Pen Name Publishing.

The main character is not Capt. Tom Draft but someone somewhat similar.

Through the field behind the house

Simon Gatterly bought a large house on the corner of Plimpton Road and Lake Street. It was a new home on the edge of town. Behind it was a wide field that ran to a forest.

One day while sitting on his back deck watching the sun come down, an old man came out of the forest and made his way through the long yellow grass. The man came up to the back fence, climbed over it and walked up to Simon. Simon sat quietly as the old man approached.

“Hello,” Simon said.

“Hello,” replied the old man and kept walking up the back steps and into the house.

Simon stood up and went after him. “He must be lost,” he said to himself as he followed the old man into the house.

Simon looked about for him but he had disappeared. He looked in his bedroom to see if the old man was hiding in there. Simon found him. The old man was lying in bed falling asleep. The covers pulled over him. Simon was shocked. The old man who was covered in mud and filth, was falling asleep in the bed.

“What are you doing?” Simon yelled and pulled the covers back. The old man was still fully dressed and wearing his boots.

“Go away, I am sleeping,” the old man cried and tried to pull the covers up.

“No, come out of the bed!” Simon grabbed the old man by the arm and pulled at him, trying to force him out.

“Please let me sleep, let me sleep.”
“Come out old man, I’ll call someone to come and get you, come out of the bed.”
Simon forced the old man out and dragged him into the living room and put him on a chair. The old man was almost black with dirt. His hands were clodded with filth, his nails were black.

“I’ll call your family, what is their number?”
The old man gave the number and Simon called it.

“Hello?” Simon spoke into the phone. “What’s your name?” he whispered to the old man.

“Arthur Pirdty.”
“Hello? Yes. I have had an old man wander into my house and his name is Arthur Pirdty. He gave me this number, do you know him?”
Simon listened to the answer and his mouth dropped open. “Dead? Buried a month ago?” Simon turned to look at the old man sitting next to him and screamed. He dropped the phone at his feet.

In the chair sat a corpse, the skin coming away from the bone, the mouth open in a silent scream.

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Pick up a copy of my debut novel The Bomber, it will be released on June 24th. Check it out at

http://amzn.com/B00VQHFI9E  in the USA

or http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B00VQHFI9E in Australia