Book Extract – Gloop

I am feeling a bit out of sorts this morning, for no good reason, and have nothing fizzing around inside my head…you’ll have to put up with this, if you have ten minutes.

This is from, book 4 of  the ongoing comic fantasy series, The Mining of Lif.  One day I’ll get it published. The fourth novel is a work in progress. Feel free to mentally edit and correct any mistakes.

On the border of the desert country of Sunniclimes lies the town of Brothelingham which has recently become the centre of attention once more after someone claimed they  had re-discovered gold. They hadn’t, but this hasn’t stopped the place being flooded by starry-eyed hopefuls.

A railway line is due to pass through the town, illegally, and this is going to cause problems. Brothelingham is about to get a visit from one of the mysterious Wiseman’s, a firm of Private Detectives. and there’s a  war brewing. Amidst all this a  young pregnant woman arrives on the back of donkey cart. And she is carrying one very special child indeed…

 Chapter 5

There was a distinct chill in the air. Winter was on its way. He could smell it. Soon it would snow. But for now, except for a few wispy, narrow bands of cirrus cloud, the sky was a canopy of stars.

The old man nodded and grunted an acknowledgement at the ever-changing seasons. He sucked thoughtfully on his cigar, while poking some life into the small fire with a stick.

Something went clonk, and nudged him in his back.

‘What is it, old girl?’ he asked without turning.

The ageing goat bleated and nudged him once more. The bell around its neck went clonk again.

The old man sighed, reached over to a small hessian sack and rummaged around inside.

‘Here y’go,’ he said, offering the goat an apple.

Issie, as he was known, was a goatherd. Or at least he once kept goats. He never really herded them; they mostly sort of followed him around. These days there was only a solitary female so maybe the term goat-her would be more appropriate.

Her name was Flem. Named after a camel owned by a friend he knew a long time ago.

Issie came up to this high place to watch the stars, he said.

‘Most people never look at the stars, you know?’ he once explained.  ‘Not really look at them.’

‘But what are you looking at? They’re there. It’s not as if they’re going anywhere, is it?’ they would say.

He would reply wistfully, ‘Oh… nothing really, I suppose. Just, well… looking.’ And he would smile.

He’d been coming up the mountain every night to the same spot for years. The villagers said he was soft in the head.

Issie could see the lights from the village far below. He thought they looked pretty. Not as pretty as those above, but still pretty; in their own way.

He became aware of the sound of muffled conversation. He sighed.

Oh well, he thought, so much for an uninterrupted evening of peace and quiet.

From the sound of it, the two individuals responsible for disturbing his karma were having one of their famous philosophical discussions.

‘But why are we called shepherds, that’s what I want to know?’ said the first voice.

‘Because we are. All right? How the hell do I know? It’s just one of those things.’

‘Yeah, but surely it should be sheepherd, not shepherd. I mean, we don’t herd sheps do we?’

There was a short intake of breath, and then a pause from the second speaker as this question was considered.

The first speaker, sensing he had gained the upper hand pressed his argument.

‘I mean, what do you call a person who herds goats?’

‘A goatherd, obviously.’

‘Right. Obviously. They’re not called gotherds. So…’

‘All right, all right!’ the second speaker snapped. ‘Have it your way. Be a damn sheepherd for all I care.’

The two men crested the rise onto a wide, flat expanse of meadow.  Their breath plumed in the early evening air from the exertion of the climb.

One of the men wore a smug expression whereas his companion was scowling.

Issie looked up from his  fire and hailed the new arrivals.

‘Evening, boys!’

Flem went ‘Maaaaar’, dropped her head and began a mock charge towards the two young men, which became more of a geriatric stutter due to a gammy leg.  Besides, despite the waning light the clonk of her bell would have alerted them in ample time.

She reached the pair and offered a desultory butt just for the look of the thing.

A hand reached down and scratched her behind the ears.

‘Evenin’’, Mister Issie,’ replied one of the men.

Although many people thought Issie a bit doolally, they still showed him respect. After all, he was old. Exactly how old no one had been able to ascertain.

He’d turned up at the small village many years before, asking if he could stay for while.

People are often wary of strangers but they warmed to Issie very quickly.  Two donkeys laden with precious gems encouraged warm- hearted feelings all round.

Besides, Issie also brought his own goats.

Gems are all good and well, but you can’t eat them.

‘Hello, Levi. Strauss. How is it…,’ Issie paused as he searched for the correct term of address. ‘hanging?’

‘Dangling, Mister Issie. How’s it dangling,’ Levi replied.

‘Ah. Right. Sorry boys. Can’t keep up with all these modern terms.’

The young men smiled in the manner of all young people who have to put up with the idiosyncrasies of the elderly.

Levi tugged his sideburns for emphasis. Issie nodded. Levi’s sideburns had been growing for several months. They now hung, or rather dangled past his chin.

This was the current fashion amongst certain young men. Strauss had a similar pair of dangly sideburns and both men sported very long beards.

And they had contrived to wear their skullcaps back to front. This had proved more difficult than it might sound, the caps having no peak. They’d had to make do with having the label sticking out.

And their hair was cut very short.

‘This is the modern look, Mister Issie, you see?’ Levi explained.

‘It’s cool, Mister Issie,’ Strauss added. Both men grinned sheepishly, or in Strauss’s case, shepishly.

Issie smiled.

‘Must be. Especially without any hair!’

‘Not cool like that, Mister Issie. Just cool,’ Levi said, stressing the word.

‘It’s all about being hip, you see, Mister Issie?’ Strauss added.

‘Well, as long it doesn’t make you limp,’ Issie said.

Strauss shook his head. ‘Hip means with it, Mister Issie, he explained, with exaggerated patience.

‘Ah, I see. Well, better with than without, right boys?’

‘Aw, Mister Issie, now you’re having us on,’ Levi said.

Issie chuckled.

‘So, what brings you two up here, then?’ he asked.

‘We’re off over the mountain, Mister Issie. We’re going down to Brothelingham,’ Levi informed him with a note of excitement in his voice.

‘Oh, are you indeed,’ Issie replied giving them an old look. He knew about the Hotel Kaliphfornication. ‘Couple of young fellahs like you, off to sow a few wild oats, I’ll bet?’

‘Nope. ‘S’nothing to do with farming, Mister Issie,’ said Strauss, shaking his head. ‘In fact we’ve all but given up sheepherding too as a matter of fact,’ he announced, waving a hand in a dismissive manner to emphasise the point.

Although those involved in pastoral work spent most of their time outdoors it was somewhat of a sheltered existence in other areas.

Levi grinned at his friend. ‘See. Told you sheepherding’s the right term.’

Strauss grimaced. ‘Shepherding, I meant to say.’

Issie also knew of other things that were going on in Brothelingham.

‘So, you’re off to seek to your fortune, then?’

‘S’right, Mister Issie. We’re trading in our woolly jumpers for T-shirts.’ Levi explained.

‘And a pick and shovel, of course,’ Strauss added. ‘We’re going prospecting,’ he beamed.

‘Gold, is it?’ Issie asked.

Both men nodded.

‘They say there’re lots of prospects in prospecting, Mister Issie,’ Levi said.

Issie cocked his head and looked at him askance. He almost smiled then realised Levi was not being facetious.

‘Well, there would be, I suppose?’ he replied, forcing himself to keep a straight face.

‘And they also say if you touch that kid it’s extra luck,’ Strauss said.

His eyes sparkled in the firelight.

‘Oh. Yes. I heard about that. Some sort of saviour, right?

The two young men nodded.

‘We heard of some fellah who touched the kid’s head and a few hours later he hit a rich vein.’

Issie had heard this story too. You got to hear of a lot of such tales from travelling merchants and those who returned after finding out that mining was not as easy as was first thought. It was said the vein the chap in question had hit was on the inside of his leg.

If someone told you that mining was “bleedin’ hard work” they sometimes meant it literally.

‘Well you just be careful when wielding those pickaxes, all right?’ Issie cautioned.

The men smiled.

‘Yes, Mister Issie,’ they agreed. Then they looked at each other, mumbled a few words and nodded.

‘Why don’t you come with us, Mister Issie?’ Levi asked.

‘Me? Whatever for?’ Issie replied only half-paying attention. Something else had distracted him. He cast a quick, furtive glance at the stars.

‘We thought you might like a change of scenery. Might do you good to get out a bit, don’t you think?’ Strauss said.

‘I am always out, young man. And usually more than a bit.’

‘What we meant was away from here. The mountain. Not healthy spending all this time up here.’

‘I would think it was very healthy,’ Issie replied with a slight frown.

‘What Strauss means is for your…’ Levi paused. This was dangerous territory.

‘You think I might be going a bit senile, is that it?’

‘No…well…maybe. Not exactly loony tunes, but just…well…’

‘Soft in the head?’ Issie supplied, with an air of innocence.

Both men coughed awkwardly.

‘Besides,’ Levi chirped, ‘three of anything is a lucky number. And we could share in all the gold we find, eh?’

‘Gold,’ Issie echoed with little enthusiasm.

‘Yeah! Gold!  Strauss agreed. Levi nodded vigorously. And there was that look in their eyes again.

‘So why is three of anything lucky?’ Issie asked. Whatever it was that had distracted him was now moving across the night sky in a lazy, but very definite manner. It would be best if these two well-meaning twits did not turn around for a minute or so.

‘Well, there’s the three Wiseman’s…’ Levi began but Issie interrupted.

‘Yes. They say there are three but has anybody ever seen the three Wiseman’s together?’

‘Um, well, not together as such. But everyone know’s the stories, right?’

‘Right,’ Issie said. ‘So, what else comes in lucky threes then?’

‘Shepherds?’ Levi suggested hopefully, forgetting for a moment that neither he nor Issie had ever herded a shep in their lives.

‘I always kept goats,’ Issie reminded him.

‘Yes. Well. It’s still herding, I suppose, so it must be lucky, right?’

Issie sighed. It almost sounded as if in relief.

‘I’m sure you’ll be fine with two, Levi. Now best you be getting along. Weather looks like it might be closing in. You boys don’t want to get caught in a storm or anything.’

The two men looked a bit dejected but they shrugged and after wishes for good fortune and a few reluctant farewells they turned to leave.

Suddenly they were transfixed by a blaze of light that appeared out of nowhere. Well, not nowhere, as there is no such place. But one minute there was only the light from the fire, and the stars, and the next, this was the only light visible.

A figure stepped into the light. It appeared to be man-shaped.

Levi and Strauss had not moved. They stood rooted to the spot like wax dummies.

Levi blinked and partial mobility returned to his mouth.

‘It’s a go…go…god!’ he croaked in awe.

Copyright©Douglas Pearce

The Box Pt. 3

This story is unfolding as the ideas come to me. There is no immediate plot and nothing is written in stone as to how it will develop. It seems that I might be writing in stone the time it’s taking. I should get a sharper chisel!

Anyway, it is as much a mystery to the writer as it is the reader. What ever you read it pretty much all I have written, with minimal editing, so, please, bear with me. An adventure for all of us, it seems. Hope you enjoy the ride. So far it’s fun for me. 

I read once that writers must write for themselves first, then afterwards as if they are writing for one person.

So for the time being, Sonel, it’s just me and you, it seems!

And  John Z…of course… 🙂

Treasure_Island-Scribner's-1911The first book his fingers came into contact with was a hardback. He lifted it out carefully.

Treasure Island. What a treat! He had two paperback editions of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic but no hardback copy. Until now. And by the look of the cover art it was an old copy. But it was in surprisingly good condition. Gently, he opened the cover. There was a dedication. He read it.

To Michael. Here’s hoping you find treasure in all your adventures.

Love Dad.

For a split second, Michael experienced a feeling of déjà vu, which was very disconcerting as his dad had never given him this book before, and he almost dropped it in surprise.

He took a deep breath and smiled. ‘What a jerk’, he said aloud, and laughed. It isn’t as if the name Michael is uncommon is it, he thought.

No doubt this was another reason Auntie Apple included the book. Apart from being old; it had probably been stuck away in some old lady’s attic for ages, and was now even more special because the name was the same as his. He read all the print details: when it was published, who was the publisher and then carefully closed the cover and set it to one side. This would go in the special book case.

Adventure stories were Michael’s favourite, though he generally preferred non-fiction to those based, in principle, on the imagination of the author.

Michael believed there were enough fantastic stories out there happening all the time in real life without the need to make things up.

He had shelves of books by adventures like Robert Falcon Scott, Roald Amundsen, David Livingstone, The Wright Brothers, and even modern adventurers such as Sir Ranulph Fiennes, the Apollo and Soyuz astronauts, including female astronauts such as Sally Ride and Helen Sharman. And on the subject of female adventurers, one of Michael’s more unusual books of this genre was called, Around the World on Two Wheels: Annie Londonderry’s Extraordinary Ride.

Until he read this book his parents thought he might never ride a bicycle again after falling off his paper bike during a heavy snowfall last year. He had a serious concussion and for a while it was suspected he may have had a skull fracture. Auntie Apple had bought this book for him and he had been back on his bike after the first day of reading. 

After setting aside Treasure Island he quickly removed the rest of the books from the box, laying them out in the floor in a semi-circle in front of him. They were all interesting and mostly hardcover.

There was a gardening book and a book of garden birds by Sir Peter Scott, which Michael was especially pleased with. There was even a Haynes Owner’s Workshop Manual for an Austin Healey which, apart from a couple of grubby, oil-stained fingerprints on the cover, was in pretty good condition.

Michael had no idea what an Austin Healy was, and it didn’t look too impressive from the cover illustration, so it meant little to him, until he opened the book and discovered this was a first edition, printed in 1960, and according to the forward, the very first motor car manual the company produced.

The lowly car’s status was immediately elevated by Michael’s reckoning. He briefly wondered who the oily fingerprints might have belonged to for surely they would have died by now.

He was about to put the box aside and beginning sorting and cataloguing when he realised there was one more book in the box. It nestled at the bottom filling the space so snug that Michael was obliged to turn the box upside down and tap it. The book slide gently out and dropped quietly onto the carpet.

Putting the box to one side he picked up the book.

Aside from being heavy, the book seemed old. No, not old, ancient.  The cover was dimpled black leather that felt like crocodile skin. He had never seen let alone felt crocodile skin before, although a friend of his mother had been around for tea one afternoon and had proudly shown off her new “Real fake crocodile skin handbag” which Michael had gingerly run his hand over.

This felt the same, only smoother, and Michael realised that, considering how old the book seemed, the cover was unlikely to be fake crocodile skin either. He didn’t feel comfortable about this but tried to rationalise it by hoping the crocodile had died of old age. Peacefully. In its sleep. Preferably somewhere warm and its last meal consisting mainly of crocodile hunter.

There was nothing printed on the cover to identify what the book was about or who was the author. Nor on the spine either he noted.

The book was shod with metal corners. They appeared to be silver or at least silver coloured and Michael thought they looked very fancy; like what you might imagine being on one of those really old church bibles, or a wizard’s book of spells. He smiled.

‘Open Sesame,’ he intoned in a deep voice as he opened the book. Or as deep as he could manage, which of late, had a nasty habit of coming out as a croak or worse, a squeak since he voice had begun to break.

The first page was blank. He turned to the second. Also blank.

And the third and the fourth. Michael quickly flipped through the pages. They were all blank. Every one. He couldn’t find a single printed word. Or written word for that matter. Neither a note or a scribble.

What sort of book is this?

Copyright©2013 Douglas Pearce

The copy of Treasure Island featured on this post was first published in 1911

The Box. Part 2

Part 1 is here..

https://almostdeadinsuburbiia.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/the-box/

box

He walked over to it and the first thing he noticed was the label, which was handmade, with a border of small blue flowers around the edge, and Sellotaped carefully in the left-hand corner.

Michael smiled. It was from his grandmother. The flowers were her signature.

Granny June Smith: his mother’s mother, or as she was now known as, Auntie Apple.

The family had been up to his gran’s house for a visit one Sunday and Michael had been sitting on the garden swing lost in thought watching a blackbird hop around the small patch of lawn tilting its head one way then the other listening for earth worms.

The bird momentarily stopped in its search for a meaty morsel and looked up at Michael as he gently swung on the canopied bench swing.

‘I’m sure Auntie Apple, has got something tastier than worms.’

‘And just who is Auntie Apple, may I ask,’ said a voice emerging from the kitchen door.

Michael immediately turned bright red with embarrassment.

“Sorry, gran,’ he mumbled.

Granny Smith moved to sit next to Michael.

‘Silly sixpence,’ she said, smiling, then ruffled his hair. ‘Hmm,’ she mused. ‘Auntie Apple. I like it,’ she announced. ‘And as it just so happens, I have some of said fruit and a little bacon rind for Billy.’

The blackbird on hearing its name hopped still closer to the garden swing until he was less than two feet away.

Michael’s gran leaned forward, opened her hand exposing the small pieces of chopped apple and bacon rind.

With no apparent fear, the bird hopped close enough to peck at the titbits.

Michael held his breath.

It was a moment of magic.

‘Mum. The oven timer’s going. You want me to take the cake out?’

Billy took flight. Michael and Auntie Apple exchanged a glance and a smile.

‘He’ll be back,’ she said quietly.

Michael’s mum stood in the kitchen doorway, wearing a large, red floral-print oven-mitt on one hand and holding a tea towel in the other.

‘Unless we want a burnt sponge, I think you better, sweetheart,’

Michael’s mum disappeared into the kitchen to retrieve the cake.

Auntie Apple got up from the swing, emptied the rest of Billy’s titbits onto the bird table, winked at Michael and extended her hand.

’Shall we?’

 

Michael ran his hand over the box feeling the slight difference in texture of the blue pencil-drawn flowers on the label which also contained a note about the box’s contents.

Dear Michael,

I sort of rescued these from a consignment that arrived for the church fete next weekend. What’s here is the best of the crop. There may be a few you haven’t got. Have fun.

Love Auntie Apple.

 

Michael smiled once more then went to get changed.

Unlike most fourteen year olds, Michael was almost fastidious about keeping his room neat and tidy. In a world that to him was, to use a favourite term of Auntie Apple, Topsy Turvy, his room was one of the few places he felt he had control over. And he liked it orderly. This included his clothes which he hung carefully in his wardrobe.

Freed of the constraints of his school uniform and feeling much more comfortable in a pair of brown corduroy trousers and light grey sweatshirt with the words Houston Oilers emblazoned in red on the front he retrieved a modelling knife from the revolving stationary holder on his desk by the window and went and sat down on the floor by the box.

After sliding the knife’s blade out of its protective sleeve he carefully drew the razor sharp blade along the masking tape used to seal the box.

The cardboard flaps sprung open. Michael sheathed the blade and got up and put the knife back in its place on the revolving stationary holder.

He took a deep breath.

He always considered this moment a bit special: that first contact with the treasures within. Then he closed his eyes and reached into the box.

Copyright©DSP

In The Pub. It’s a hard life.

It’s a hard life

 

“T’raa, Germima. Alf!’

The old dray horse gave a snort of acknowledgement.  Alf gave a desultory wave.

Morris always acknowledged the horse before the driver.  She was likely to be around a lot longer than Alf for one thing, and besides, if it weren’t for Germima, Morris probably wouldn’t get his delivery on time. The horse knew the delivery route like the back of her hoof. So did Alf, but he had a habit of dozing off on the wagon and many’s a time they would have ended up half way to Corlington before Alf woke up.

*

   In the old days, people only had one name; such as Ug or Sniff.

As people acquired more skills, and a broader vocabulary they began to acquire a surname, usually in reference to whatever was their profession.

Smith being a commonplace example, derived from blacksmith. Fletcher another. In days of yore it was law for every Englishman to practice daily with a longbow. So a person who made arrows, which is where the name Fletcher derives, would have been a well-respected and vital member of every village. And of course anyone with a surname such as Sidebottom or Arsbinder, generally belonged to the Church.

Morris’s surname was Cooper. Although Morris was not a barrel maker, one might say that the profession of publican was the next best thing.

Morris was a big man. Over six feet in his socks, strong as an ox, and built like the proverbial outhouse. He could still lift one of the beer barrels if called upon. In his younger days he had. These days his sons did most of the heavy work, and fortunately there was little actual lifting required.

The last barrel rolled down the wooden drawbridge, as Morris called it, and disappeared into the pub’s cellar.

‘Righto, Michael. That’s the last one. Close up and let’s get a spot of breakfast before opening,’ Morris instructed.

‘Right, Pa,’ said his son.

The CooperInn is a pub in Wiggleswood, a small village in rural England.

It is a real pub that serves real ale. Beers with such colourful names as Bishop’s Appendage, and Bad Habits are popular local brews. Peeler’s is another. This one is considered particularly potent and has the nickname ‘Jailtime’, as this is usually what the unwary drinker will be doing after more than three pints.

Morris had just finished tapping a fresh barrel when the door opened.

It was 10:30 in the morning.

‘Oh, for heaven’s sake,’ Morris mumbled under his breath.

‘Mornin’, Morris!’ said a cheerful voice.

‘Morning, Harry.’

Harry Bradshaw was Wiggleswood’s odd-job man. Harry preferred the title Artisan. However, the only thing vaguely associated with the first three letters of this profession one might find on Harry’s resume was his attempt at painting St. Mary’s, the local church. Such was Harry’s prowess with a paintbrush, poor old Reverend Wilky had to pay him to stop.

Just because Jesus wanted every child to be His sunbeam didn’t mean the church had to be painted bright yellow.

‘Have I got somethin’ for you, Morris,’ Harry said as he shuffled onto a barstool.

One of Harry’s other professions was the ‘Acquisition of Commodities’.

‘Oh, really,’ Morris replied. ‘And I suppose whatever it is just happened to fall off the back of a lorry, right?’

‘Always said you ‘ad a highly developed instinct for a business opportunity, Morris. As a matter o’ fact, what I have in the boot of my Cortina did fall off the back of a lorry. The bleedin’ big dent in the bonnet is proof, too. These truck drivers ought to be a lot more careful when they load their goods. If it weren’t for me superior drivin’ skills the box would’ve gone right through me bleedin’ windscreen.’

‘And maybe if you weren’t tailgating the lorry on the off chance that something fell off the driver wouldn’t be short one crate either.’

‘Finders keepers, Morris. Finders keepers. Besides it would ‘ave been regarded as damaged goods. Couldn’t sell it on the open market anyhow. So’s it’s a good thing I just ‘appened to be in the right place at the right time. Imagine if some kiddies found it, eh?’

‘Kiddies? What we talking about here. Drugs?’

‘Nah, course not. Weerll, not in the strict sense, I s’pose.’

Morris drew himself up to his full height and glowered down on Harry.

‘You better not be mucking about with drugs, Harry Bradshaw or I’ll have the law out here in a flash.’

Harry leant away from the imposing figure, raising his hands in submission.

‘No, Morris, I ain’t. Honest! This ain’t like that at all.’

‘Better hadn’t be. I’m warning you.’

‘No, Morris. This is much better n’ nasty drugs. An’ I reckon much more profitable.’

Morris calmed down a bit and went back to laying out the bar.

‘This is a pub, Harry. You do know that, right?’

‘Pardon, Morris?’

‘A pub. My pub. As opposed to a public library or public park where they don’t object if you just saunter in and sit down for five minutes and do nothing.’

‘Ah, sorry, Morris. I’ll ‘ave a half.’

Morris poured Harry half a bitter and because he was that type of person reached behind him, lifted a glass lid and retrieved a cheese and ham sandwich.

‘Bit short o’ change, right now, Morris, t’be honest. Just the drink’ll do me.’

Morris looked Harry up and down. When was the last time you ate you old bugger, he wondered?

‘Eat the bloody sandwich, Harry. You can owe me. If ever I need the pub painted  a psychedelic colour I’ll know who to call, all right?’

‘Thanks, Morris. You’re a real gentleman,’ Harry replied around a mouthful of bread.

Morris waited until Harry finished his sandwich then removed the plate and wiped away a few crumbs.

‘Well, go on then,’

‘Aven’t finished me drink yet, Morris. ‘Ave an ‘eart.’

Morris sighed.

‘I mean, let’s hear what you’ve got in the back of your Cortina, Harry. You aren’t going to leave until you’ve told me, even if I’m not in the least bit interested in buying. Am I right?’

‘Viagra, Morris.’

‘Pardon?’

‘Viagra. Whole box of it.’

Morris grinned then began to shake with barely suppressed laughter.

‘S’not funny, Morris.’

Morris started to laugh out loud.

‘Are you serious, Harry?’

‘Straight up, Morris. Honest,’ he said.

Morris’s laughter attracted the attention of his wife, Natalie, who wandered out from the kitchen to see what was going on.

Her smile vanished the moment she recognised Harry Bradshaw.

‘Oh, it’s you,’ she said offering a questioning glance at her husband.

‘It’s all right, Nat. Harry, here just thought I might be in the market for some Viagra. He’s got a whole box of it in his car,’ Morris explained.

Natalie looked from Harry to her husband and her smile returned in an instant.

‘Er, Harry?’

‘Yes, Mrs. C?’

‘How many kids have we got?’

‘Um…let me see now. There’s Michael, Simon, Anne, and little Roger. Oh, and the twins, Lizbeth and Vanessa, of course.’ Harry reeled off the children’s names, counting on his fingers.

‘And don’t forget Emily and Adrian,’ Natalie prompted.

‘Right, right. Nearly forgot. Big family you have. That’s why I reckoned you’d be interested in my wares, Mrs. C.’

‘You do know what Viagra is for, Harry, yes?’

‘Course I do, Mrs. C. I might be old but I ain’t stupid. It’s a vitamin.   Good one, too, so I’ve been told.’

Morris and Natalie exchanged a look.

‘Come here, Harry,’ Natalie gestured.

Harry leant a bit further over the bar and Natalie cupped her hand to whisper in his ear.

After she finished, Harry turned a bright shade of crimson.

‘Oh, my gawd. Well I never. You’re ‘aving me on, Mrs. C. Right?’

‘No, Harry. That’s what it is. I promise.’

‘You sure?’

‘Straight up, Harry,’ Natalie confirmed with a big smile.

‘That’s naughty, Mrs. C.’

‘Yes, Harry. I know,’ Natalie agreed, her smile broadening.

‘I think, sweetheart that under the circumstances it ought to be Harry who has a stiff one, don’t you?’ Morris suggested.

Harry suddenly looked apoplectic. He leapt off the stool and bolted for the door.

‘You’re disgustin’, he shouted just before he left. ‘The pair of you!’

Morris grinned.

‘Funny that. He’s never turned down a free whisky before.’

Copyright©Douglas Pearce

Publish or be damned?

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Publish or be damned?

It’s okay, I know the original and thank you *Arthur Wellesley for the inspiration, but in this instance the above phrase is the right one.

As a writer I read a lot of books. I love my books. Well, other writer’s books, I mean. Mine are pretty good too, and I am still somewhat surprised that I have been able to write the number that I have; and I am still, writing and surprised.

My study has shelves and bookcases full of books.

I do not own a kindle.

And that should tell you more than enough about me as a reader.

Sadly, and perhaps a little stupidly, it also says more about me as a writer than I have been willing to admit. Until this morning. Hence the post.

Just because I struggle to read a book in electronic format doesn’t mean one or two other people might not enjoy it thoroughly.

I have one book in print so why not get the rest out there; even if only in electronic format?

Maybe it’s time to dust off the other six completed novels on my hard-drive, stick my stubbornness where the sun doesn’t shine and have a serious look at Amazon?

One can be stupid all one’s life but one is never too old to learn, right?

*The Duke of Wellington

 

 

Pssst…read this..

I have always been hesitant about blowing my own trumpet when it comes to my writing.

When I was a professional hairdresser I never really had to advertise, my adverts walked around for me, and fortunately my work appealed to enough women that I was usually busy most days. Word of mouth being the best advert there is I believe.

When Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear says how wonderful a particular car is you can bet the manufacturer is jumping for joy. And when he says something uncomplimentary  you can bet they are cringing, phoning their lawyers with a view to sue or phoning the factory demanding modifications!

But let’s be honest, how often do you see adverts for books? Not that often I suspect  and I’ve certainly never seen one on the telly.

I am truly very fortunate and a bit bemused to tell the truth that of the people that have read my published work they have only said good things.  Some even made the time and effort to post their compliments on my publisher’s website.

The excerpt below is a short piece that was published last year in a short story compilation titled Mercury Silver.

Click on the picture on the sidebar and follow the link.

There. That’s as much as I can muster for blowing my trumpet. I much prefer a quieter instrument, like a flute!

As always,thanks to P’kaboo

The Sword in the Stone.

Douglas Pearce

This is a tale of heroes. Not modern day heroes. You know? Ones that wear pink or yellow shirts and tight pants cry “Coooeee!” as they arrive at your front door , TV camera crew in tow and a bottle of the most powerful bog cleaner in the world, right at the exact moment you were going to throw a wobbly because the toilet is blocked.

‘Oh, my heroes!’ you squeal.

No. Not this type.

Neither are they the type to scale mountains, cross the seven seas

merely to leave a double-decker box of dark chocolates on your bedside table.

If they were this type of hero it would be a safe bet they would have already opened the box and scoffed the second layer.

So, alas once again, no.

And these heroes are not the type to wear their underpants over their trousers, either.

Although, to be truthful one of them wore his underpants on his head for a while. These days, he is much more circumspect when around strong liquor. Or at least liquor he cannot pronounce the name of.

These heroes go way back.  Back along the mists of time. Before bog-cleaners, pink shirts, and boxes of chocolates. Back before the Days of Yore, Our day, My day and Them Were The Days. In fact, back before Days of Our Lives. Yes, this tale is that old.

So, dear reader, envisage the scene I am about to unfold.

In a clearing in a forest a short distance from what appears to be a rocky outcrop, lies a huge boulder. Pale morning sunlight has just begun to penetrate the canopy. Birds are a-twitter; small noses are poking out of burrows or from behind thickets. Flowers are flowering, buds are budding and leaves are… staying where they are.

Somewhere in the distance can be heard the faint sounds of singing.    You catch a snatch of tune. To your untrained ear it sounds like, ‘Hi Ho, something or other.’ Was that a scream? Did you hear a cry of “Aaaargh”?  Could it be that a Hi Ho-er missed their footing and fell down a mineshaft? Alas, we will never know.

There is a crunch of leaves as one of our heroes’ steps from behind the boulder.

This is Reg the Dra. Reg is a fearsome sight, guaranteed to strike fear into the hearts of four-year-olds everywhere. In poor light.

To read the rest  follow the link below….

http://www.pkaboo.net/mercsilver.html

The Box

Cardboard-box-007

 

Words. They hurt the most. Sometimes the pain was almost physical. In fact, it was physical, especially when the rowing started.

But it wasn’t the words themselves he disliked merely the way in which they were arranged. Or rather in the manner the speaker arranged them. After a while the words became virtually incoherent and unintelligible, even when there was no rowing involved and it was merely chatter.

It was as if the speakers merely wanted to hear the sound of their own voices. That this sound, this awful discordant cacophony confirmed their existence; to themselves as much as to others. That this…this gibberishwould alert the others that, “I am here.”

In fact, hearing was all that mattered. “Hello, do you hear me?” As long as the speaker confirmed in his or her mind that the sounds emanating from their mouth had been heard then everything was okay. And all it took was an eye blink or a mouth twitch or slight hand gesture or shrug of the shoulder. If any or all of these signals was forthcoming then everything was All Right. They had been acknowledged. Self-esteem maintained. Ego still intact.

Of course there was, on occasion, the more overt approach: the raised hand, the menacing look, and the ridiculous, bellowed non-question,

“Do you hear me?”

Yet for all the torment, all the lies and all the pain, Michael loved words.

He had little time for the spoken word, but the written word was a different matter.

And it was to the room at the top of the family’s triple-storey house that he retreated to revel in the written word.

His room.

His own personal sanctuary, his temporary fortress against reality.

Here were the words he cherished. The words with which he could create anything he desired.

Books.

The shelves lined three of the four walls and contained over a thousand books. One thousand three hundred and twenty three at the last count, and this would soon increase to a number yet to be determined depending on the amount of books in the large, unopened cardboard box from a recent garage sale that sat at the foot of his bed.

Michael stepped inside his room and closed the door gently behind him, shutting out the incessant prattle

As the door clicked, he noticed the box and smiled. I wonder what’s inside, he thought, and walked silently over to find out.

©DSP