Thank you for being a friend

This is a submission  for Sunday Photo Fiction, hosted by Al Forbes,  .  It was prompted by the photo below, kindly provided by Eric Wicklund.

To view other people’s stories and add your own, please click on the link: 

Thank you for being a friend

Reading aloud from To Kill a Mockingbird, the teacher reached the part where Jem finds toys hidden by Boo Radley.

Paul whispered to Tommy, “That’s like when we were little.  Remember – we kept finding cars and stuff in the hollow tree?”

“I don’t remember,” Tommy answered.

“You do. You wouldn’t touch ‘em, but I took a toy soldier home.”

“Shut up. Miss Law’s reading.”

“When Mum saw the soldier she went mad. She marched me back to school, made me tell the headteacher everything. Toys dried up after that.”

“It was you who told?”

“She made me.”

“You screwed up my life.”

“It was only toys.”

“My toys,” Tommy shouted.

The boys didn’t notice as silence descended around them.

“What are you talking about?”

“The toys. My dad put them there.”


“Why do you think?”

“I dunno. I can’t remember him. He left.”

“He went to prison.  Eventually.”

“For taking your toys?”

“Think about it … why would a grown man want children to find toys in a tree?”

“He was a paedophile?”


“So, I did you a favour?”

“Oh yeah … with no other kids to mess with, he used me. I thought you were my friend.”

200 words



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One-way ticket

This is a submission for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, It was prompted by the photo below, kindly provided by Ted Strutz.

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One-way ticket

When Josh came to, he was on a ferry, among strangers, crossing an unfamiliar river.

He thought about Carter’s words at the party, “Forget smoking, use the needle. It’s time to cross the Rubicon.” Maybe Josh was still high.

The ferryman turned and studied Josh, with a grimace on his gaunt face.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “It’s warm over there, real warm.”

“When does the ferry return?” Josh asked.

“Strictly one-way,” the ferryman answered.

“But … ‘crossing the Rubicon’ … that’s just a metaphor, right?”

“You picked the wrong river, friend. No more kicks when you cross the River Styx.”

100 words


I would like to thank J Hardy Carroll for giving me a supplementary prompt (kind of).  I’d given up hope of finding an idea for a story of my own when I read his, On Bainbridge Island.  It described the kind of road trip from Hell that many of us will have been on too many times.  That gave me the idea of writing about a boat trip to Hell.

Plus I must apologise to:

– Charon for referring to him as “the ferryman” instead of using his name, for fear of giving the game away too early.  I know Charon’s mythical, but I live in a superstitious neck of the woods and you can’t be too careful.

– Bobby Troup for the appalling play on the lyrics of Route 66.

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Restorative Justice

This is a submission for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers,, prompted by the photo below, which was kindly provided by Footy and Foodie.

To view other people’s stories and add your own, please click the link:

Restorative Justice

Lazy Creek Motel

Space in the bathroom was tight for the cop, the medical examiner and the corpse. Still, only two were using air.

M.E.: ‘You identified him yet?’

Cop: ‘Grifter, fleeced old folks for bad repair work.’

M.E.: ‘How’d you find him?’

Cop: ‘Barkeeper reported a drunk flashing the cash, drove off in a pickup with out-of-town plates. Couple hours later I spotted it in the motel lot. Clerk let me in and there this guy was, dead in the shower with a busted head.’

The overcrowding got worse when the detective joined them.

Detective: ‘Weird sonofabitch used to record his marks and how much he made. You find a notebook?’

Cop: ‘Nope.’

Detective: ‘Cash?’

Cop: ‘No. You think this was a robbery?’

M.E.: ‘Forget about motives. Guy slipped and banged his head. Accident – no question.’

Detective: ‘Guess you don’t need me then.’

Senior Citizen’s Bungalow, next day

Cop: ‘You found $1000 dollars on your doormat?’

Martha: ‘Yep. Same happened to Paulette and Jeffrey.’

Cop: ‘Praise be. You spend it wisely this time Grandma.’

175 words

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Dos mundos diferentes

This is a submission for this week’s What Pegman Saw, which takes us to Guatemala City. The story is based on the screenshot below.  To see other people’s stories or submit your own, please click the link:

Hospital (2)

Dos mundos diferentes

Mayra played happily. She was going home, as soon as Mamá finished talking to the doctor and the tall man who smelled like flowers.

The hospital’s newest sponsor listened with pride while the doctor interpreted the words that the child’s mother spoke, slowly, between deep sobs. He passed her his handkerchief.

“She says she cannot thank you enough for letting her daughter experience things she could never afford to give her – a clean bed, plentiful food and beautiful toys,” the doctor explained.

“And the treatment of course?” the sponsor asked.

“Of course.”

“It warms my heart to see this woman crying with happiness,” said the sponsor.

The doctor smiled enigmatically.

“She is happy?” the sponsor asked.

Now the doctor shrugged his shoulders.

“What‘s that supposed to mean?”

“She says she’s filled with joy that her daughter will live, but broken-hearted that she must take her back to her old life.”

150 words


I started out hoping I could write a frivolous story this time. Pegman’s original photo (below) set me thinking on the lines of a spaced-out tourist wandering into what he thought was a circus entrance (i.e. the hotel that looks like a giant face with a mouth full of crooked teeth, together with the elephant on the adjacent shop front). That didn’t work out, so I embarked on a virtual walk through Guatemala City, and found myself inside a hospital operated by the Fundación Ayudame a Vivir (Foundation Help Me To Live), which provides free treatment for children with cancer. I couldn’t bring myself to wander elsewhere, hence this story.

Clearly there was no place for frivolity, but I’m disappointed that I ended up producing a depressing story about something that is really positive. Admittedly my glass is often half empty.

I should say that this story isn’t about the real Foundation; the characters and the conversation are strictly fictional. The foundation’s website can be found at . There are foundations of the same name operating in other parts of Central America and at least one US state, but I was unable to clarify whether they are linked to each other.


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This is a submission for Friday Fictioneers, , prompted by the photo below, kindly provided by Sarah Potter.

To read other people’s stories and add your own, please click the link:


Severe mental impairment it says on this letter. I’m not mental. I’m 86. I have the odd wotsit, but Mam always says I’ve a marvellous memory.

If they come for me they’ll get a shock. Nearly 84 but strong as an ox. Boxed in the army. They treat me like a cripple. She wants to get somebody in to fix the lean-to. Like I can’t do owt anymore. I could lift that sideboard over my head.

So I told her, tell your bloody fancy man to stay away. I’ll do it tomorrow. Pass me the remote.

Alzheimer’s be buggered.

100 words




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Forever Young

This story is a submission for Flash Fiction For Aspiring Writers, , prompted by the photo below, kindly provided by Pamela S. Canepa.


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Forever Young

Jack woke, in total darkness, when the pellets of icy water struck his face. He tried to sit up, but his head met something hard. Where the hell was he?

He wriggled sideways, but his left arm was trapped. He remembered staggering out of the bar, but surely he hadn’t been drunk enough to fall asleep in a dumpster again?

Jack shivered. Oh yeah … the game. Mikey had said they should go to the creek, like they did as kids. After their swim, they’d dressed at the top of the slope. “C’mon,” Mikey had said, “let’s make a dam.”

They’d felt like carefree teenagers, rolling boulders down the bank, until Jack heard the rumbling and looked round to see an army of rocks hurtling towards them.

He knew where he was now. With his free arm Jack found his phone. No signal. Shit! It would be OK, though; Mikey would have gone for help.

Mikey had been luckier than his friend. The first boulder to reach him had smashed his skull, killing him instantly.

175 words

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Spellin’ it oot

This story is a submission for Sunday Photo Fiction, hosted by Al Forbes.  It was prompted by the photo below, provided by C E Ayr.

09 C E Ayr 04 June 2017

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Spellin’ it oot

We wernae even catchin’ a bus, we jist kem doun tae get wersels a piece.  On ham, if ye need tae ken.  The ham wiz mingin’ by the way.

Aun the way oot this auld wife sez tae me, “See yon pair, thayme wi’ next tae nae claes on? They’re no statues, ken?  Ah seen them winchin’ an’ ah sez, ‘Get a room’, an’ the wee lassie sez, ‘Away an’ bile yer heid, ya mawkit auld coo.’  I wisnae havin’ that, so I turnt the pair ae them to bronze.”

“Aye, right”, I sez back, smartarse that ah am, “Leave me alane, y’auld munter.  Yer bum’s oot the windae.”

An’ wi’ that, she turnt me intae a bloody caution sign.

Then she sez, “Be guid an’ I’ll turn ye back the mornin’.”

“The mornin’s mornin’?” I sez.

“Naw, the mornin’s efternun, fer yer cheek,” sez the auld wife.

Still, it cuidae been worse – poor auld Tam nivver said a word and she switched him intae that seat … think of aw thayme manky bahookies on top ae ‘im.  It’s orange anaw – it disnae suit a guid Catholic lad.

189 words


As this wonderful statue is located in Glasgow’s Buchanan Bus Station, when I tried to think of stories I found myself doing so in (my version of) a Scottish dialect.  I’m not a Scot (I know this is probably a statement of the obvious), so I apologise to all Scots and, in particular, to Irvine Welsh who puts the Edinburgh dialect onto paper with great skill.  In my defence there were many Scots around when I was growing up, so I think I usually understand Scottish English even if I can’t write it.   I know there are loads of dialects across Scotland and that my narrator probably uses a mixture of them.  Let’s pretend his da’s joab meant they flitted a lot.

Posted in Flash Fiction, Magic | 2 Comments

Crying in the chapel

This is a submission for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers,, prompted by the photo below, which was kindly provided by Ioniangaphics.

Please click on the link to see other people’s stories and add your own:

Crying in the chapel

The chapel

Father of the bride:  “I’ll kill the sonofabitch.  Nobody leaves my girl standing at the altar.  And where’s that no-good father of his?”

The mortuary

Sheriff: “Neither of these two’s your boy, then?  Strange, ‘cos his clothes was in the car when we found it. Sons, huh?  He’ll be nursing a hangover somewhere.”

The forest

The bridegroom was too weak now to shout for Zack and Danny. It was hours since they’d driven off.    What kind of best man cuffs you to a tree and leaves you out in the  cold while he goes to buy more booze?

100 words

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Thank you for showing interest in Pretty Little Thing

I just wanted to say Thank You to everyone who downloaded a copy of Pretty Little Thing over the weekend.

If you go on to read the book I’ll be even more grateful.  Perhaps I should have mentioned that the dialogue contains some strong language, which I believe was essential in this particular crime story.  If profanities in print make you feel uncomfortable, please don’t read the book.

I’m not schmoozing for reviews, good or bad, but if you have any comments that you think would help me to improve this book or to produce better work in future, please let me know.  I’m happy for comments to be made here, but if you’d prefer to make them off-blog, my email is .   I have thick skin, so please don’t pull your punches.

Once again, thank you for your interest.

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Nature or nurture?

This week, What Pegman Saw takes us to Cirque de Navacelles, suggested by yours truly. Thank you to K Rawson for posting Pegman each week and for accepting my suggestion.

I’ve opted for a picture of this chap in a natty jumper, giving the Google Maps driver a taste of his/her own medicine.  It hasn’t directly influenced the story though.

To view other people’s stories and add your own, please click the link:                                        


Nature or nurture?

Never again, Jim thought.  OK, it was him who’d suggested taking their son and his family on holiday.  Still, they could have made more of an effort.

Ruth had supported the idea but, instead of joining them today, she’d gone shopping with Marie.   “You can bond with Jamie”, she’d said.

The precarious drive into Navacelles hadn’t been helped by Jamie’s frequent gasps or the worried looks he kept throwing at his children.

In the village Jamie had said, “Remind me why we’re here, Dad.”

“You loved it when you were little.  Remember?  We didn’t see any people, just tiny dogs.  I said the villagers turned into animals when strangers came.  You thought it was magical!”

“It’s full of tourists.  The kids would rather go swimming.”

Jim grunted and started the nerve-jangling drive back out of the crater.

Moments later, a small voice piped up, “Grandad, stop.  I saw a unicorn.”

150 words


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