Thursday 31 July 2014


By Aline-Mwezi Niyonsenga

His hands lightly touched the piano keys, handling each in a deft swift manner, as if searching for the right code to end the piece with a flourish. I watched as Gerard tested each note almost carelessly compared to how I played: with great caution, deathly afraid of setting off the bomb to terminate all attempts at reaching the end of a piece.
I clenched my fists over my knees.
Finally, the final flourish sounded and all around me was the applause of those relieved and ecstatic at the cracking of such a challenging code as Chopin. My fists remained clenched, feet tapping for the door.
"Vincent," a voice hissed in my ear. "Go on. Congratulate him."
Reluctantly, I stood up, gingerly picking up the bouquet of roses at my feet, and made my way to the front of the room. The crowd hushed with my approach as I took a place next to Gerard, who looked up expectantly from his bow.
"A ravishing performance by Gerard Duchaine ladies and gentlemen, wonderful performance!"
The crowd erupted into applause again. I swallowed bile.
"How is it Gerard," my mouth moved of its own will, acting the role many said I was far more suited for, "that you play so well, many ask?" My hands gestured with the bouquet.
Gerard graciously took it from me and answered, "Many before me have said that practice and dedication does the trick but there is always instinct, I always say."
"Ah," I nodded. "Well there you have it! Gerard Duchaine, ladies and gentlemen!"
Standing ovations this time. Ignoring the sea surging to meet the golden boy, I went for the doors and pushed them open. A gust of wind greeted my burning insides, roiling with that boy's smug expression.
"There is always instinct, I always say." I mimicked, my eyebrows slightly raised, mouth quirked on a disgusted half-smirk.
"You are quite the comedian, Vincent," a girl giggled. Jumping, my eyes met hers and quickly looked away, hiding my embarrassed blush.
"Go away, Karen," I shooed. "Or at least go inside. The Duke Duchaine is running short of admirers."
"Surely you do not think I'm that type of girl?" Karen raised an eyebrow. There was something pretty about that eyebrow, the way it stretches her petite face just so and adds a gleam to those coal eyes, something infuriating.
"No," I laughed bitterly, paying half a mind to her words. "I do not have the instinct to do anything correctly, according to everyone."
"Says who?"
"Everyone!" The little idiot. It was obvious her mind was on Gerard.
Karen paused to take a breath. Even that motion worked to liven her, bring a lovely blush to her cheeks as her long eyelashes fluttered.
"Vincent, you are the only one who thinks so."
I blinked. "What?"
The wind gusted again and this time, Karen rubbed her shoulders. They were bare. The little idiot, I thought. My tongue clicked disapprovingly as I quickly took off my jacket and wrapped her arms with it before she could protest.
"You heard me," Karen's voice shook slightly as her eyes met mine squarely. My hands paused at her shoulders, holding the jacket in place as those eyes bore into my soul.
"You are not Gerard and yet you think you must compare yourself to him. Your obsession with him, it's disgusting! You are Vincent and Vincent has his own talents. Vincent is not some jealous idiot!"
My eyes widened, my hands freezing over her shoulders for a long moment. Slowly, my hands slid off my jacket, tugging loosely on its ends to absently make sure Karen is well-covered.
"I'm sorry Karen," I said softly, "for thinking that you were the idiot."
This girl smiled and slid her arm in the crook of my own. "I'm glad to see that the cold has cooled your head."
My chest clenched and clarity stung like a needle.
The little idiot, I thought, forgetting to repent, doesn't realize that her flames have warmed my heart.

Sunday 27 July 2014

11:11pm stare

By June Glasgow

I stare at a fruit basket of bananas and apples. When I don’t put on the music in the house, the place feels desolate. Has anyone seen a painter who paints the same dot day after day, year after year, on the same canvas? The painter is a genius in his perfection of the dot. The dot is covered in so much paint it matches stalactites in its magnificence. But no one will buy his art. It is never perfect, at least in his mind. The bananas and apples will rot soon in the basket if no one eats them. The trouble with being dead bored – the poster on the back of a van screams – why not be dead? It is easy with heroin -someone will have to take in the dead bodies of such men and women, shovel them into the ground like they are forsaken, and leave them be. 

Such is the way to go, for men, for women, in dress, in pants, all running down Sydney Rd or St like they are someone, or no one, and the dreams water down as rain and snow above certain altitudes. The farmers don’t care – why should they? Fog comes in winter and flowers spring. Even in winter, there are blossoms for wattlebirds, bee-eaters. The farmers are like sheep. I’d much prefer to herd goats.
There is another painter who believes body art is the superior art form. He paints a scar on his body every day and he has not taken a shower for years.One could imagine his body to be covered with scars, and the acrylic is so flaky over time. The painted wounds peel like paperback each time he moves. He is bleeding paint when he takes a bite out of an apple. He is bleeding when he is cold but he would not put on clothes so he huddles into a ball after he has painted the scar of the day. He never sleeps. One day he dies in his studio the same way he lived every day of his painter life, as though he was only prepping for dying every night. The stories of such people are many. Who will listen to them now.
The bananas ripen fast. They omit a certain smell that reminds me of condoms. The world is ready for contraception. De-population. De-politicalization. Or not. The apples are squashed at the bottom as in sties. Tell me about political writing today.
Ripping photos from magazines is hardly an original idea. But people still do it. They keep scrapbooks. No Mailer for Bukowski because too much of a Hemingway rip-off. Ha. Prejudices. Who doesn’t love them. The world needs sacrifice. The animals die every day. Planes crash. Cars blow up. Cell phones. My own time, is full of such dreadful mournings. The painter is more selfish, but perhaps without deliberate attachments. Paint a paper plane and dive. Water holds warmth better.
If tonight the cosmos explodes, where would you be? Unquote. No one said that. This will be the end of my rant. To be published immediately. War and peace. Old ideas. Or new ones.

Tuesday 15 July 2014


By: Michael Carta

“It is sadly funny… How blind these people are to what surrounds them? It is just their nature, their instinct.”

“What are you going on about now?”

“Take that homeless man for example; he sits on the corner during rush hour holding a sign and just two blocks over that pizza place is hiring.”

“Yeah, so?”

“So, the people who help see him as a victim and have pity. They do not see that by giving him money, they then become the victim of his manipulation.”

“Oh. Okay, so the old homeless man is really a criminal master mind conning innocent people out of their hard earned money?”

“Not exactly, what I mean is this: his survival depends on his ability to appeal to a person’s conscience enough so that they feel the need to help the poor old man. He has to make himself appear weaker, more helpless, and more in need of your money than you are.”

“Alright, so you are implying that he is not homeless?”

“Perhaps he is, or perhaps not. The important thing is there is a significant margin of doubt. You cannot trust the man; especially since he is unable to obtain, or even maintain any form of actual employment.”

“So there are no real homeless people? They choose to sleep on the park benches and eat from trash cans?”

“There are homeless people truly in need of assistance. The problem is there are too many fake homeless that feed from taking advantage of charity. So much so that by donating to them, you are fueling the opportunity for more imposters. When I was overseas, I saw a blind, armless man strategically positioned in a high traffic area. At first, I was shocked that so many people ignored him as they chatted away on their cell phones, so I gave him my change.”

“That is a good deed; you probably fed his family too.”

“Actually, I doubt it. As it turns out, the poor man was planted there by a group of con men who use him to collect money from generous people. They then divide his earnings amongst themselves and go drinking. Though, I should mention they do give him just enough food to survive another day of work.”

“That’s horrible.”

“That’s life. Humans are predictable and most of them have the same instincts. This allows the others to exploit that kindness as a weakness.” 

“Well aren’t you just a rain cloud today.”

“I am not trying to be being cynical, just realistic.”

“Whatever, what time is it?”

“Do not worry, we are on schedule.”

“I am glad you know what is going on, but you have not told me anything since lunch! Are we going to a movie, or not? We have been sitting at this bus stop for nearly an hour now. I think I will just go home, it was nice to meet you, Parker.”

“Relax, it is almost game time. See the armored car pulling around the corner?”
“Yeah, why?”

“Well, it is going to stop right in front of us to make the weekly transfer from the bank across the street.”

“You are telling me this why?”

“There will be an explosion and chaos will erupt all around you. Focus now, what I need you to do is take the bag that I give to you and run as fast as you can to the bridge around a few blocks South.”

“Oh my God Parker, you cannot be serious!”

“Listen! It’s almost here. You take the bag and run to the bridge. Once you get there, remove your shoes and jump into the river. “

“Oh my God, you are serious? I can’t, I just can’t!”

“There will be a boat under the bridge to pick you up. I will meet you tonight, don’t worry the driver knows the details. Be strong, I am counting on you. Remember, if you fail me Susan dies.”

Like waking from a dream, she found herself now conscious of the detectives sitting in front of her.

“Who is Susan?”

“My mom, she’s in hospice. “

“What happened next?”

“I did what he told me to do. Exactly what he told me to do. If he knew my mom’s name, he probably knows where she is.“

“You have no further information? He did not tell you where you would be meeting? Did he mention an address, a number, anything?”

“I am telling you everything, every damn word! Please let me know, I don’t know where he is I swear! Why would I be lying now, you caught me already.” 

“Sorry ma’am, please calm down. There is just not much to work with here. It looks bad that you fled the scene of a bank robbery with a large bag and jumped into the river. It is a good thing that the bag was filled with paper, but that does not explain the missing five million, or the fact that you had lunch with the main suspect right before it all went down.”

“He tricked me! That’s what he does! He reads you and then determines how to use you. Can’t you see? He obviously gave me the empty bag and told me to run. It was for cover, I bet he went the opposite direction and is counting the cash as we speak.”

“So, was it a date? How did you meet? What can you remember about him?"

“Yes, it was a date. Okay? He bumped into me on the subway earlier and we just started talking. I told the sketching lady everything already. He was average height, in shape and had dark hair. His eyes were silver and deep. He was interesting, not the most handsome, but there was a mysterious side to him. He was very charismatic and engaging until we sat on the bench and started talking about the homeless people. He’s too smart; you guys don’t have a chance. He views the world like a game of chess and he is always many moves ahead. “

“Alright, we thank you very much for your cooperation miss. Sergeant James will see you out. Remember to contact us if you think of anything else.”

The woman said nothing in response as she was lead out of the interrogation room. Two detectives remained in the silence. 

“So, you think it’s our guy?”

“Without a shred of doubt. The girl is innocent, he played her for the advantage.”

“How can you be sure? It could be a copycat.”

“He left his call card. In the bag he gave her, all of the papers said had the word ‘instinct’ hand written on them. Hundreds of pages with that word written like a signature… Must have taken hours”

“Ah, those details were never disclosed to the press. He must be getting bored and wanted a new level of excitement by recruiting a bystander. “

“Nah, he was proving a point.”

“What point?”

“That he knows up better than we know ourselves.”

Sunday 6 July 2014


by Lyra Reyes

"I'm sorry to disturb you but...have we met before?"

He looked up and jolted when he saw her face. Jet black hair cropped close to her nape framed a face that was mostly angles - high cheekbones, strong jaw, sharp nose - offset by full lips. Her eyes, lovely violet eyes, squinted down at him.

Twenty-five years, he thought.

He smiled at her. "We might have."

Still looking mystified, she gestured toward the chair across from him. "Do you mind if I sit?"

"No, not at all." He lifted his coffee cup to his lips to give himself time. Every time, he thought wryly, every time this happens I still get nervous.

She stared at him a long time, but he remained silent. Then she huffed out a breath and leaned back, "okay, I give up. I don't know if we've met before but when I saw you sitting here something just niggled at my brain."

"Niggled at your brain?"

"You know, like something tickles. When I saw your face it was like..." she trailed off.

"It was like remembering."

Surprised, she lifted an eyebrow. "Yes. Does that happen to you a lot?"

"A lot, yes."

He knew by the expression on her face that she wondered at his answer. He glanced around. The cafe was empty apart from the cashier staring gloomily out the window at the rain that raged.

"Well, then, if you're not doing anything else, would you like to listen to a story?"

She shrugged. "Are you a storyteller, then?"

"Yes, for important ones."

Settling more comfortably in her seat, she nodded at him.

He took a moment to look at her, to drink in the sight of her. Then he started telling a story.

It was a story of a time long ago when the earth was still young and the sky was already old. When the gods still lived among men, working the land and fishing the seas with them. With his words, he painted her a picture of a quiet and peaceful time, when the earth is the beginning and end of all things, the people have honor, and the rulers are just. The people lived off the land and seas, which is not always easy, but there was joy and contentment.

It was said that there was a young maiden who fell in love with a soldier even though she was betrothed to a king. The maiden and her soldier ran away to the forest, and when the king cannot find her, he laid waste to the land out of spite. Angered by the suffering this caused, the gods turned on the lovers. Lightning struck the maiden and felled her to the ground.

The soldier's roar of grief as he held his dead lover touched the hearts of the gods and, repenting their actions, decreed that the lovers live a thousand lifetimes more. A thousand lifetimes when they can be together.

"That's a bit of an overkill."

He laughed. "Well, yes. The soldier thought so too, as one lifetime with her would suffice. But, that's the gods for you."

"What happened to the soldier?" she asked.

"The soldier lived his first life alone in grief, desperately wishing for death so he could live once more and find his love. He spent all the lives after the first looking for her. He is cursed to always know, to always remember, to always seek her. That is his burden."

"And the maiden?"

"She does not remember. But for every lifetime they live, she starts to get restless, she starts looking for something she's not quite sure what. A feeling that is relieved only when she remembers. The more lifetimes she lives, the more she starts with the feeling that there's something missing."

He sighed wearily. "He has lost count of how many lives they've had. He can only hope that as they go on, the burden of seeking not only fall on him. That she, too, starts her life remembering and that she, too, would knowingly seek him."

She was quiet for a while. "Did he not love another?"

"Not in all the lifetimes they lived. He grows up remembering every lifetime that they've ever lived and yearning to find her to make her remember."

"Does he always find her?" she asked quietly.

"Yes, except for one time. Sometimes he finds her after two or three decades. Once, they grew up together. He never knows how long. But there was one time when he spent eight decades not seeing her face even once. After that, he made himself a promise never to let that happen again."

"Eighty years," she murmured. "So many lifetimes. How does he handle the waiting?"

"Sometimes very badly," he answered. "Even a soldier gets weary, too. But finding her, no matter when, makes the waiting all worth it. Every time she remembers his name, every time she says it in remembrance for the first time, is a glorious time for him."

"When he finds her, how does he make her remember?"

"He holds her hand like this," he reached out, his eyes on hers, carefully took her hand and pressed palm to palm. "Then he says to her, ta tu mianach agus ta me leatsa. Then she answers..."

"Gra nios cumhachtai na deithe." Her eyes widened in surprise. "How did I..."

He grinned as he saw the cloud of confusion clear from her eyes and turn into recognition. Into joy.

He brought his hand up to touch her face. "Hello, Elizabeth."

"Armand, my love, have I kept you waiting long this time?"

Tuesday 1 July 2014


© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2014

Having never, since the age of twenty-one, been astounded by the fact that that he was a Homo Deus, a man-God, or God-man, Geaccomo Darius Worthen-Grieves, now wondered if the flames in the hearth were showing him other Homo Deus people. Well, of course there were others he said to himself, literally; God Would Need many such in order to Keep a proper Account of Reality; and God Needs more than just the one good friend.
     He took another swig of his port and then got up to stand and look out of the gaping doorway of his squat.
     Being a Homo Deus was very trying for Geaccomo: he had to be always observing his neighbours; he tended to worry over the tiniest things that could possibly harm Reality, wondering as well if he was endangering It by bringing God down to his level to report the week’s observations of his fellow citizens. God though Loved Geaccomo’s reports, God once Telling him that they were the Highlight of His week.
     He took another swig of his port and closed his not-too-dirty overcoat.
     It would be nice to lose his burden, with perhaps infinite port in exchange. He didn’t need to pay rent, the drink meant he didn’t have to eat much, he neither smoked nor took any illicit drugs, but still there was never enough port for the welfare fortnight. And spying on people had always made him feel guilty, even if it was in order to report to God. Surely he could resign his viceregality, maybe even exchange it somehow for an endless supply of port?
     He took another swig and headed back to his mattress in front of the lit hearth.
     ‘Stuff it,’ he said to the flames, ‘Satan will buy my Homo Deus title, a feather in his cap in The Eternal Struggle. He’ll easily accept my services for simply some choice drink. He’ll probably give me cash as well as the free port forever.’ His increasing alcohol psychosis made the idea seem entirely reasonable.
     ‘Where can I find Satan though in this big city?’ he asked himself.
     ‘Head out and he will find you,’ he likewise replied.
     Geaccomo finished his port and headed out to find Satan.


Geaccomo was instinctively sure that Satan would accept his service, being eager to call one of God’s best servants to his dark side after Geaccomo had simply muttered a bastard prayer affirming his allegiance in return for booze, booze, and more booze. Satan would probably announce the acceptance of the deal with a full bottle of top quality alcohol left somewhere for Geaccomo to find rather than making his malefic appearance before the malodorous Geaccomo. Geaccomo was also mentally too far gone for such an audience.
     And turning the corner of a street in Redferne, in sunny though presently cold Sydney, Aus, a land Worthen-Grieves was sure has a twin in a parallel universe, he was met with a bright glowing light. There was also a flashing sign: ‘Free Party! All Welcome!’ The lights were coming from a terrace house, filled also with people and not too loud music.
     ‘So, Satan,’ said Geaccomo, ‘methinks my service is accepted. You’d better keep me in port.’ He crossed over to the party.
     There was indeed port there, not of too high a quality though, and the house was full of mostly young adults, well dressed and too drunk to worry about Geaccomo’s general filthiness. It bothered Geaccomo though for he wanted to start his dark service on a positive footing. Easily finding the cheery young lass who was one of the hosts he was allowed to shower and was also given some clothes to change into.
     It was the first time that he had had a shower whilst also imbibing good sherry (for a change) and the novelty made the washing seem almost sensual, like he was being caressed by silky spirits completely surrounding him. It was also the longest shower he had ever had, over half an hour. He would have liked to stay longer but he had to refill his sherry.
     Finding the clothes a perfect fit, almost as if they were made for him, he re-joined the party and the general boozing.


And the party continued, long after Geaccomo had left that terrace house the first time. Geaccomo didn’t question the fact that he was now regularly finding bottles of wine, fortified wine, beer, and one time a half full bottle of bourbon, and occasionally fresh clothes. The bottles were never completely full but he was now stretching his alcohol budget to the point where he had plenty of strong drink every day of the fortnight. What Geaccomo did find surprising was that he had been shouted at most of Redferne’s pubs quite a lot over the past few weeks. His benefactors invariably explained the cause for doing so was Geaccomo’s improved appearance. On dole-day he usually went from pub to pub in Redferne, allowing himself fifty dollars for the party, dressed in his stinking, pungent rags and spying on his neighbours until he had a good drunk going. But since his deal with Satan, with its fresh clothes, and also being allowed to shower regularly at the house that had thrown the free party, the locals at these pubs had noted his improved appearance and odour and sought to encourage him in these improvements with the occasional free drink.
     But Geaccomo didn’t forget whose service he was in during these free drinks, avidly spying on the pubs’ patrons and reporting all he saw to the Dark Lord. Geaccomo never actually saw Satan when he called him up, every Saturday night upon the stroke of midnight, but rather addressed his report to a vaguely humanoid shadow, and only appearing in Geaccomo’s mind’s eye. Satan neither said anything during these reports nor showed any signs of recognising Geaccomo.
     All in all Geaccomo congratulated himself on his move to Satan’s service; the fruits of his labour were bountiful and he was now drinking more, partying longer, was cleaner, and well clothed practically all of the time.
     ‘Yes, things have improved a lot. A lot.’ Such was the constant refrain from him whenever he thought about it over a drink. He was neither sorry to have left God’s service nor did he expect any serious repercussions from his dereliction of duty.
     He was thus very surprised to be Visited by God one night in a dream, around six months since after his dark service had commenced. He did not think God would Miss him but apparently He Did.
     ‘My son,’ began God, ‘Geaccomo, My dearest Geaccomo, why hast thou forsaken Me?’
     ‘I have found Paradise in drink, Father.’
     ‘‘Tis a false Paradise, an empty temptation by My Rival, solely to take another valued sheep from My Fold. Thine monitoring of this sad world is sorely relied upon by Me and My Son. We cannot Do without thee, dearest Geaccomo. Return to Our Embrace, but return and all shall be forgiven.’
     ‘Will You Fix me up with endless drink? Fresh clothes, and no rent?’
     ‘Thine wine is a sickness. Thou needst aliment, a veritable bounty of which I can Guide you to obtain if thou but return.’
     It was no contest for Geaccomo. ‘God,’ he said, ‘alcohol is the only thing that makes me feel real, alive, potent, and eternal. I don’t need food. Being a diligent Homo Diabolus is nothing but bounty.’
     ‘‘Tis bane, my son. Ware! Even now My Rival’s firewater erodes thine heart, erodes thine lifethews. Ware, I Say! Return to My Fold lest My Rival take thee unprepared, turning thine heart against thee.’
     That gave Geaccomo pause for thought. ‘You mean,’ he asked of God, ‘Satan is trying to murder me?’
     ‘He is nothing but ill. Didst thou expect anything more?’ Geaccomo now realised his error; he had been tempted away from his holy service simply so that Satan could score one against God. Geaccomo was nothing but a sacrificial pawn.
     In his dream Geaccomo got onto bended knee, bowed his head, and joined his hands in prayer. ‘Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. Service to Satan boots nought and henceforth I commit myself to You if You will but Welcome an erring sinner.’
     ‘So be it, My dearest Geaccomo.’
     Geaccomo then awoke with a start, slightly sweating in the clothes he’d slept in, and with a pain in his chest. It was dawn of a promising spring day and Geaccomo instantly got out of bed to say a prayer on his bended knees, affirming God’s Dominion over the Dark Lord, renouncing Satan and strong drink as all ill.
     Satan mustn’t have been cognizant of this change for he still left strong drink and clothing for Geaccomo. Geaccomo was too far gone in alcohol psychosis to resist temptation and soon gave up resisting altogether the Dark Lord’s wiles. It was easier to still drink and to report to the Dark Lord, afterwards fondly recalling the halcyon days of his services to God, one of His viceroys, Homo Deus, the eyes and ears of The Almighty.

     Geaccomo was found dead by the police exactly three lunar months after his failed return to God. A neighbour had placed a call to the local police station after noticing a pervasive, unholy stench from Geaccomo’s squat. By the way Geaccomo was clutching at his heart it was fairly certain that he had died of a heart attack. The police could find no next of kin and Geaccomo was cremated unceremoniously. He was missed by none except God and Christ.
If you've been enjoying Denis' stories on this blog you may also enjoy his debut novel, This Mirror in Me. It tells the story of Tonia Esqurit Ailbe, a mathematics professor, and her unusual manner of making her home a social hub, her life's fundamental aim: sitting at her dressing table mirror and imagining socialising with friends and family. It seems the only way, for one reason or another, that she can achieve her deepest aim. It is available on Kindle at for US $4.14, and via Smashwords, whom cover most of the other ereaders, at for US $3.99. If you don't have a Kindle or other ereader you can download one for free onto your smartphone or tablet.