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Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

Finally, in paperback, some of my short stories.

 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1545002061

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The small village of Ramsfeckle under Whiteskelfe can be found nestling in the shadow of the Hills to the north of York, closer to the Moors and the sea than to the Yorkshire Dales. Typical of most Yorkshire villages of its ilk Ramsfeckle under Whiteskelfe’s roots go back through the centuries, though the angst and demeanour of life in the village is very much a part of the present day and not the past. This and subsequent stories are how village life and events are observed and perceived by Walter and Nimrod, two of the village’s more stalwart inhabitants.

* *

It was Tuesday in Ramsfeckle under Whiteskelfe and black bin collection day. Nimrod was ensuring his wheelie bin was correctly parked at 90 degrees to the kerb. Satisfied it was he gave the bin a final shuggle and lifted the lid to check the contents.

“Lost summat, Nimrod?”

“Morning, Walter. Nah, just checking the stuff I should be recycling is hidden beneath the rubbish. I’m using the recycling bin to store logs. And there’s a bit of garden waste in there too. I’m not paying to have my green bin emptied.”

“They’ll catch you one day, Nimrod.”

“Then they’ll have to be up early.”

“Fit for the Arms tonight?”

“Is the Pope a catholic? I’ll be there, Walter. See thee later.”

* *

Tuesday evening was dominoes night at The Whiteskelfe Arms. A game of penny a spot and five pence a corner washed down by a couple of pints of Brown Belch. And to round the evening off the Arms signature supper dish, a pork pie submerged beneath a sea of mushy peas covered in mint sauce. A proper Yorkshire aphrodisiac after a game of bones.

* *

Nimrod was already hugging his first glass of Belch and staring into the flames licking the logs in the fire place when Walter slid onto the wooden pew beside him.

“I wonder what the origins are,” he said, eyes still fixed on the fire.

“Chinese I think,” replied Walter. “Then mid 18th century European.”

“No, not dominoes. Tuesdays. Where do Tuesdays come from?”

“Eh? What’s that got to do with owt?”

“I was interested, that’s all.”

They both took a sip of Belch and looked into the fire for an answer.

“Germanic gods,” said a voice.

Walter and Nimrod averted their gaze towards the newcomer as he scraped the legs of a chair on the stone floor and plonked himself down opposite before setting his glass down on the table to join them.

“Now Sid,” said Walter. “Hope you’ve brought some money. I want to be touching it this week.”

“Tuesdays,” said Sid.

“Oh, don’t you start as well. What is it with you two and Tuesdays?”

“If you’ll let me finish,” said Sid. “I was about to tell you about Tuesdays.”

“And Germanic gods” added Nimrod.

“That’s where Tuesdays come from,” continued Sid. “An Anglo-Saxon warlike deity, ‘Tiwesdaeg’. It all goes back to the Romans who called it Martis dies, day of Mars, after their god of war.”

“An apt night for dominoes then,” said Nimrod. “Least the way you two play.”

“Supposed to be a good day for getting married too.”

“You mean better than a Saturday if United are playing at home,” Walter chipped in.

“You’re a font of knowledge Sid,” said Nimrod.

“Well, if you want superstition, it’s a good day to have your hair cut or your nails. It’s supposed to bring wealth or a new pair of shoes.”

“I’d best make an appointment then, if I don’t take all your money playing doms, said Walter.”

“And don’t sneeze on a Tuesday or you’ll meet a stranger. And if he’s left handed…”

“Ey up lads. What’s thee gassing about? You haven’t got the dominoes unboxed yet?”

“Now then, Harry. We were just saying about strange left handed men who worshipped Germanic gods and got married on Tuesdays.”

“New boots, Harry?”

“Hope you clipped your nails before we start.”

“You’re crackers, you lot. Must be Tuesdays.”

* *

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Words and photographs Copyright © 2017 by Antony J Waller

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The small village of Ramsfeckle under Whiteskelfe can be found nestling in the shadow of the Hills to the north of York, closer to the Moors and the sea than to the Yorkshire Dales. Typical of most Yorkshire villages of its ilk Ramsfeckle under Whiteskelfe’s roots go back through the centuries, though the angst and demeanour of life in the village is very much a part of the present day and not the past. This and subsequent stories are how village life and events are observed and perceived by Walter and Nimrod, two of the village’s more stalwart inhabitants.

This week souvenirs are discovered in the village and they’re not being discarded by disgruntled tourists!

…..

Walter was genuflecting in a moment of rapt concentration when a familiar voice drifted over the low garden wall.

“Are yer knees givin’ out or ‘as t’teken to prayin’?”

“Shit,” replied Walter.

“I beg yer pardon?”

“Dog poop, Nimrod.  Some bugga’s dog keeps desecrating me lawn.”

“Ah, I wondered why you had bald patches on yer green sward. You’ll have to erect a sign.”

“What? Dogs can’t read.”

“Yer daft bat.”

“So what then? It’s not exactly conducive to a serious game of croquet if yer ball strikes a hardened chocolate sausage and is deflected past the hoop. ”

“I’m going to keep watch. Sit up all night with a flask of soup and a torch.”

“Well your Mary won’t like that. And the dog might not be regular. Could take a while. Have you got a jam jar with a lid.”

“Eh? Nimrod, I’m not looking to preserve it.”

“Doh. We’ll take it to the vets and ask him to run it through his spectrometer for analysis. It’ll tell us what the dog eats for its supper.”

“Oh great. Then all I have to do is ask round as to what folk feed their dogs on.”

“Aye, well it’s only an idea.”

“Sometimes, Nimrod, I wonder about you.”

“Sorry, Walter, lateral thinking’s not so easy at my age. My creativity is thinning.”

“Aye, like yer head.”

As they cogitated and scratched their thinning thatches a little cream coloured Schipperke trotted into sight and completely ignoring the pair squatted in the middle of the lawn.

“Well would yer look at that.”

“Brazen, I’ll give it that”, added Walter

They watched as the dog completed its ablutions, scratched away at the grass and trotted off again.

“Oh ‘eck,” said Walter. “I recognise it now. That’s Mrs Braithwaite’s pooch. She lost her Jack a few months back and dotes on that dog. Always talking to it. I haven’t the heart to say owt. I can’t.”

They looked at the steaming deposit on the lawn.

“Then I’m afraid,” said Nimrod wistfully, “you’ve got another souvenir to add to your collection”.

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Words and photographs Copyright © 2017 by Antony J Waller

 

 

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It’s here…

Available on Amazon from today

 

A specially selected collection of stories and poems, showcasing the talents of members of the thriving writing group, ThirskWriteNow, produced in celebration of the group’s fifth anniversary in September 2016.
Covering virtually every genre, this eclectic mix is guaranteed to delight the most demanding of readers. Step inside and prepare to be be transported, tantalised, amused, intrigued.

Look inside this book.

 Golden Clippings

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NIK_141-The CreakingDoes your house creak? Are you sure it’s just the floors or the stairs? There may be another reason….

They’re coming. The creaks warn me, telling me they’re on their way. Creak; wait one- two- three. Creak, wait- wait. Creak, creak. Silence, wait, one- two. Then the tap on the door. The door opens.

“Morning, and how are we today?”

The creaks were right. They’re here, all bright and breezy. Second one won’t be far behind. The first one draws the curtains, straightens the duvet, plumps the pillows.

“Morning, are we alright today?”

You stupid woman; patronising. Can’t you see I’m alone. There’s no one else. Not in here.

“Are we going down to breakfast today?”

I smile and nod, indicating ‘yes’. It’s the answer she wants to hear. Better than me saying, ‘sorry, but I ain’t going up, sweetie. Not yet anyway.’

The creaks are shouting again. I count; awaiting the new arrival. There’s no tap on the door this time.

“Morning. Is he going down today?”

Bitch. Hello, I am here. Why can’t you ask me? I may be occasionally incontinent, but I’m not totally inconsequential. Not to everyone.

I move my legs over the side of the bed and sit up. My mouth’s dry and the words stick in a queue at the back of my throat. They come out with a cough and a gob of phlegm. I tell them I am going down to breakfast.

“I’ll go bring the lift up,” the second one says and starts to leave.

“No, not today” I say. “I want to walk down. I’m getting up. Just give me time to get dressed. ”

I see them look at each other, then one glances at her watch. They hover, uncertain what to do.

I clear my throat again and bark out “Come back in ten minutes.”

They look at each other again. Then the first one smiles, “Well, if you’re sure. I won’t be far away. I’ll be back to see how we’re getting on.” They leave the room and the door closes behind them.

The creaks start up again, telling me they’ve gone. I close my eyes and the sun spreads her warm fingers across my face, gently caressing my cheeks. It feels good. A few more seconds then I’ll ready myself.

By the time the creaks start chorusing the second coming I am ready and standing by the window. The door opens, catching the thick pile of the carpet and a voice asks, “Are we decent?”

I catch the look of surprise and smile back.

“Well, I don’t want my breakfast to get cold,” I say.

The first one takes my arm and we leave, walking along the passageway to top of the stairs.

Creak, creak, silence; one- two- three; creak, creak. Then a final creak as we pass on our way.

“These old wood floors,” she says. “I’m sure they’re getting worse.”

We descend the stairs and out of earshot the creaks continue.A

One day I’ll tell her. It’s not the old wood floors at all.

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Words and photographs Copyright © 2016 by Antony J Waller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Billy Preston shuffled forwards leaning heavily on his stick. He shrugged off the hands of those by his side and took a deep breath. This was one objective he was going to achieve on his own. The mood of the onlookers was quiet and reflective and the restrained tones of a brass band floated through the air.

Not for Billy. He was hearing the jangly notes of a piano thumping away, the wheezing of a discordant squeezebox and the frenetic plucking of a ukulele. He was watching Jonny Ross, Eric Evans and young Harry Smythe playing their instruments for all they were worth. The smoke filled room was alive with laughter and noise, the singing and dancing of young men and women in uniform crammed into the back bar of the Druid’s Staff. It’s what they always did; afterwards.

The sparkle of moonlight on water caught his eye and then he saw the river spooling across the unfamiliar wooded countryside like a giant silver ribbon and growing broader by the minute. They called nights like tonight a ‘bomber’s moon’, where world beneath was bestowed with an ethereal quality. In the cockpit Billy shivered and glanced at the displays on his dials. Not far to the bridge now.

He was almost there. A few more steps to the cold grey granite plinth of the memorial and the growing sea of red washing against its base. Billy knew the names were there, etched in the stone for all to see. He wanted to trace the letters with his fingers, but now was not the right moment.

Billy adjusted the levers to throttle back and lose altitude. The bridge was looming larger. He knew all hell would break loose and they would be shown no mercy from those below.

He remembered walking along the corridor and his flying boots squeaking on the floor wax.

“I’ve chosen you, Preston, and your boys for this mission. I don’t need to tell you how important it is. The bridge must be destroyed. Good luck.”

Billy smiled as he stooped to deliver his poppy wreath. They were all boys. Most of them were still boys. Only he had grown up. He straightened up, stood to attention and snapped a salute. The music in his head faltered, Eric Evans and Harry Smythe lowered their instruments and returned his salute. Jonny Ross just sat there fingers poised over the piano keys. Then he turned to face him, smiled and arched a quizzical eyebrow before slowly closing the lid. Tears welled and trickled down Billy’s cheeks. A hand gripped his elbow to steady him.

Giant ink spots began to pattern the sky, ugly pools of black pock marking the startled face of the moon. The plane began to pitch and yaw, tugging against the controls. They had been spotted. Billy pushed the throttles to the stops and dived lower. The bridge loomed out of the night swathed in a shroud of exploding smudges. He flew straight and true, ignoring the rocking and buffeting, shutting out the screams of the engines and the sounds from the night.  Steel girders and metal rivets filled his view and promptly vanished as the plane soared aloft, suddenly unshackled from its heavy burden. A massive explosion rent the air followed by whoops and applause. Then another, this time closer; and Billy Preston’s war ended.

The hand on Billy’s elbow tightened and a voice choking with emotion stuttered, “Billy Preston. After all this time. Billy Preston. You came through.”

Billy turned. The voice belonged to Jonny Ross. “I thought you were…” His voice trailed off.

“Me too,” came the reply. “Well are you just going to stand there? It must be your round by now. Come on, Billy, we’ve got some catching up to do.”

 

………………………………….

At the going down of the sun and in the morning.

We will remember them.

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Words and photographs Copyright © 2015 by Antony J Waller

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Many writers bemoan inspiration, or a lack of inspiration for writing the next piece, short story or novel. For me, inspiration comes the minute I sit down and start to write. It simply feeds off the words that went before. However, sometimes my problem is actually sitting down to write in the first place!

Followers of my blog will know I attend a local Writing Group and we task ourselves to write a short piece for our next meeting. This time we each wrote a random word down and then said, ‘Ok-write a story using the following:- lampshade, wizard, panda, coal bunker, twelve, armchair, camel, jellyfish, battenberg, bettingslip and wellington boot’. This is what I sat down and wrote……(you can have a go too if you like)

“Doreen, don’t answer that, it’s someone going door to door!”

The shouted warning from upstairs came too late. Doreen had already unlocked and opened the front door.

“Good evening madame. Are you the proprietor? I should point out straight away I’m not here to sell you anything, merely to annoy you and take up a lot of your time.”

She found herself staring at a man of average height dressed in baggy trousers tucked into wellington boots and wearing a high viz sleeveless vest. He sported a goatee beard and a felt conical shaped hat which flopped over at the top. A laminated card dangling on a piece of red twine around his neck proclaimed ‘Wearer’s official status guaranteed’. Doreen thought his appearance rather mystical but she said nothing.

“My name is Wizard Prang and I’m here tonight to ask for a sizeable donation in exchange for a twelve per cent stake in my company, ‘ThirskWriteNow’. Thank you for your forbearance and for inviting me into your home tonight.”

And before Doreen could protest he had pushed his way past and into the living room plonking himself down into an armchair by the fireplace. Rubbing his hands in the warm glow of the fire he muttered to no one in particular, “A fresh bucket of coal and a mug of hot chocolate wouldn’t go amiss.”

“What did they want this time?”shouted her husband Roger from upstairs. “Hope you gave them short shrift. I hope it wasn’t that animal rights group with their sponsor a camel for the Tuaregs again?”

“Roger! I think you had better come down. We have a Wizard in the front room.”

“Bloody hell, Doreen. What did you invite him in for? You know its Tuesday and I’m supposed to be going out.”

“He just came in. Says he wants to offer us a share in ThirskWriteNow. ”

“I’m putting my trousers on. Doreen you’d better put the kettle on and pander him with some of your homemade cake. It’s not every day you get a Wizard popping in and we don’t want him waving his wand around.”

“So Mr Prang, how long have you been a wizard and what is it you wizard exactly?”

“Oh please Roger, call me Denton. By the way that’s an awfully nice looking brocade lampshade in the corner. Exquisite macramé work and fringed with drop down tassels too. Do you mind if I try it on?”

“Tea, Denton, and would you care for a square of battenberg.”

The wizard did and much to Roger’s consternation chose pink, eating both squares and removing the marzipan from the remaining yellow ones.

“Simply delicious, thank you. Now without further ado I suppose I had better persuade you to invest in my company and relieve you of your money. You won’t be disappointed. Roger and Doreen listened intently as Wizard Prang embarked on his spiel setting out his aspirations for ThirskWriteNow. He concluded with a little demonstration, and with a flourish produced several betting slips from an inside pocket which he promptly turned into a chapter of Thrills International and a dastardly fiendish murder plot.

“Hey presto, our unique selling point and the end of my presentation. Are there any questions?”

There certainly were. Roger wanted to know how he’d arrived at such a ridiculous valuation for a writing company and was eager to drill down to the underlying hardcore financials. Doreen on the other hand was sceptical and rather bemused to hear a group of writers variously described in such terms as ‘free swimming’, ‘gelatinous’, ‘umbrella shaped’ and having lots of ‘trailing tentacles’. It sounded more like a jellyfish to her, but there again she wasn’t a writer.

She coughed politely. “Wizard Prang, I’m going to say I’m out. Now unless you have anything else in your pockets that might burn this wicked witch of the west is going to trip the light fantastic down the yellow brick road to the coal bunker. Goodnight!”

And with that Doreen promptly disappeared.

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