Thursday 1 December 2016

A New Home

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2014
An aqua coloured leaf, obviously spray painted, was the only thing disturbing the pristine pool. Saina Malleswary was unsure if she meant throwing it in there as an act of defiance or an act of conciliation. Surely her father couldn’t really kick her out of home if she had to clean the pool as usual? And those streams of paint are going to need extra attention, requiring Saina’s usual diligence. Mind you, she had been adamant that she would leave home soon after turning eighteen, moving into a share house with two of her older friends. Her father wanted her to wait but then realised the sooner he let her go the better; she was always going to leave. And even he was surprised when five days after her eighteenth birthday, at the beginning of another very mild Aus autumn, at breakfast, he told her that she would have to leave in two days. Mr Malleswary wanted to get the pain over with as quickly as possible. Mrs Malleswary offered no objection. Time to fly, Saina.
     Saina dwelt on the words banishing her, staring at the streaming leaf, and then felt something snap deep within her being, like some mental support that had suddenly given way. She soon began breathing in short, sharp breaths, holding her head, her eyes squeezed shut, looking for herself in her mind’s eye. Luckily she knew to take big, deep breaths, thus controlling the sudden panic. She then reasoned with herself, arguing her return to normality. In fact moving out was bound to be great, having two good friends to shelter with. She was soon able to look down at her packed, large sports bag.
     ‘Yeah, everything’ll be fine,’ she said to herself. ‘Rita and Jess will be all the help I need. If any.’ She picked up her bag and headed inside to ask her father for a lift to her new home.


The trip was in silence and it was short, two suburbs over to Redferne. Five minutes from her new home though Mr Malleswary, Aadil, decided now was the time to reveal a secret of his that his daughter might find useful.
     ‘Sai, now that you’re a grown woman I’ll tell you of a habit of mine that I use to deal with a stressful world. As you know I have a family history of anxiety on my mother’s side and when it all gets too much for me I put on Handel’s Water Music.’
     ‘I’ve heard of that.’
     ‘It’s divine, Sai. I invariably listen to it with earphones to bring it closer. It’s in three suites and always allows me to let the stress and angst flow off into the ether. I feel great for weeks afterwards.’
     ‘I don’t really like classical music, Dad.’
     ‘Well, just listen to this one. It could well be your only solace in the obscure future.’
     ‘So it always calms you down? Relieves the tension?’
     ‘I’ll see if I can get a copy soon.’ Saina’s inherited anxiety episodes were rare but intense and any boon couldn’t be refused in dealing with the sudden panic attacks. They then pulled up at Saina’s new address. Aadil thought it best to remain in the car while his daughter stepped into a new life but was also sure to remind her,
     ‘Make sure you go to work tomorrow! No partying!’
     ‘Yes, Dad.’ She closed the car door and then called out to Rita and Jess from the porch of her first share house.


Rita and Jess were just about to head out for an early lunch and invited Saina along. She chose though to remain by herself in the new house, walk around a bit and peek into all the corners, arrange her new bedroom, basically acclimatise herself to the new situation. The ladies perfectly understood.
     She liked her bedroom, neither too large nor too small. Pity the mattress was on the floor though. And the white wallpaper wasn’t as white as she remembered it. Well, there’s no point in depressing oneself. She duly sat down on the bed and considered her father’s recent words. Music would certainly channel her mildly disordered thoughts, some new music to reflect her new situation. Trouble was she had no money to buy the Handel and her bank account was overdrawn. And she most certainly was not going to ask her parents for a loan within an hour of the grand flight. How to get a copy, she brooded.
     ‘The library!’ she exclaimed. She could just borrow a copy. Easy done. True, it was Saturday, but only elevenish so Redferne library should still be open. Motivated now, she unpacked her bag, piling her clothes neatly on the floor, and her other small amount of books and knickknacks. That done she changed into a new outfit, red ankle boots, black jeans, and a purple blouse, and headed off to find Handel.


A mild anxious feeling settled on Saina when she saw that Water Music was out on loan. She was going to give up on the search, maybe listen to a classical radio station at home instead. But, no, if her father saw fit to point out that it helped with the genetic anxiety then she would need it as quickly as possible, especially with the stress of undertaking a new life. So she left the library to have a look in nearby Newtown  library. She briefly considered searching the local University library but she imagined it would make her feel like being at school again, instead of a budding woman making her mark upon the world. Not having any money though meant no ticket, thus no travel to Newtown.
     Well, she’ll risk it. It would be a short trip anyway with less chance of being caught.
     The trip was indeed uneventful but when Saina arrived at Newtown library it was shut, despite it being only 1200 pm. A brief inspection of the closed doors showed Saina a notice saying the library was closed due to renovations.
     ‘Well then, it’s the State Library,’ she said to the notice. And if the State Library didn’t have it she would borrow some money from a work colleague tomorrow to get a copy.
     Her perseverance was rewarded and she wasn’t fined for travelling into the city without a ticket. She pressed play on the loaded CD player with a feeling of a fundamental accomplishment.
     Her father was right, as usual. Travelling with the music was like travelling through endless processions of crystal castles in her mind. She was a spirit, travelling her sure and happy path, unable to be denied anything that she set her mind to. As she travelled with the music the pinkish castles were growing broader and taller, until they exploded in tinkling gems, making her skin tingle, and then reforming to reassure Saina that she was indeed safe. Here was always a home from which she could never be forced out of. It was a fountain that had always been flowing and always would be.
     When the music ended Saina felt as if she had discovered Paradise, a Paradise always available and accessible. On the way home she rang a work friend to borrow the money for the CD. Rita or Jess would have easily loaned her the money but Saina thought that that might not be a good way to start off her living with them.

     She listens to the Water Music every morning now, and when she feels the sudden silent creep of panic she imagines it, feeling its noble castles shelter her from the tension. The Handel was also the source of a newfound and still growing respect for her father.


If you have been enjoying Fitzpatrick's stories here you may also enjoy his short story collections, and other books, available online as both Kindle books and paperbacks (go
to Other ebook and paperback options are available at Fitzpatrick is also having a collection of short stories, Aberrant Selected, published by Waldorf Publishing and you can follow its journey at

Sunday 27 November 2016

The White Handkerchief

Wednesday 2 November 2016

The White Handkerchief

 by Dorothy Henderson

From the other side of the fence, I could see something white fluttering. Despite the fact there was no breeze, a piece of white fabric was fluttering up and down as if it were being tossed by a cheeky breeze. No trees waved their limbs or leaves in response. The day was unusually calm for a spring day in my part of the world.

Intrigued, I moved towards the movement. Then I realized that the cloth was in the clutches of a hand. Long  fingers grasped the white handkerchief, at least I think that is what it was, and moved it up and down. Frantically. It struck me that the hand with the flapping white cloth was engaged in a pose used by defeated soldiers admitting defeat and seeking mercy from the victors, but maybe I am guilty of watching too much "Horrible Histories" with my children.

Far from signalling retreat, the hand was in fact engaged in a deliberate attention seeking exercise. The body attached to the hand was that of a jean-clad young woman, who was standing behind another person. Hard to tell if it was a male or female as it wore a faded denim baseball cap and had its back turned towards me. The second person was crouched down, almost squatting on the ground, and deeply engrossed in something.

In front of the baseball cap wearer and handkerchief shaker stood a magnificent horse. It was black. True black, not just dark brown with faded brown edge, but rich, blue black from the tip of its muzzle to its hooves and the frayed ends of its flamboyant tail. Attached to a third person by a long line clipped to a plain leather halter, the horse was looking straight at me.

It was a Thoroughbred. I could tell by its shape and its physique. Behind the horse stretched a long line of stables and other horses heads were visible as they watched the same scene from a different perspective. Some were tossing their heads as if jealous that they were not the centre of attention, others simply gazed on as if appreciating the diversion from the monotony that is the life of a constantly stabled horse.

As the person in the grey cap moved to a new position, I was able to see a huge black lens protruding from her face. The photographer was obviously trying to get a photograph of The Horse---and it wasn't obliging.
Despite the frantic hanky waving and whistling of the jeans person, it refused to look in her direction. It watched the birds, it gazed at the sky, it tried to nuzzle the rope holder, who kept pushing its head away and saying "stand up" in a firm and slightly agitated tone of voice.

I watched, transfixed by the beauty of The Horse and amused by the efforts of those trying to get its attention. Then suddenly The Horse arched his beautiful neck, allowing his mane to fall gently along the curve of his muscled crest, and held his gaze on a point somewhere behind the hanky shaker. His eyes glowed with interest, and I followed his gaze to see what had caught his attention.

On the top of the fence that I was looking through there sat a cat. A white cat. With startlingly blue eyes. If ever an animal could be a complete contrast to the horse in front of me, this was it. It was fluffy, petite and elegant and it wrapped its body along the fence as only a cat can do. The Horse was transfixed. He just started at The Cat, his nostrils flared and every muscle in his body quivering in inquisitiveness. If the people hadn't been in the way, he would have been at that fence on a mission of discovery. But he stood.

"Got it! That's the shot!" exclaimed the person at the end of the camera. It sounded like a man's voice, but I still couldn't really tell as the camera was still obscuring his face.

The hanky waver relaxed, and the four left the scene. The Horse was led down the line of stables and disappeared from my sight, his shining raven coloured rump and tail gone from my view. His mission had been accomplished. The perfect pose had been struck.

A week later, as I walked past a newstand in the town I lived in, I saw The Horse again. His eyes caught my attention as he looked out from the cover of the latest edition of the Stud and Stable magazine. I couldn't resist buying a copy so I could find out more about The Horse. When I looked more closely at the glossy image I noticed the reflection of The Cat in the paper horse's eyes. White as snow. Blue eyes locked on the brown eyes that captured it and I couldn't help but wonder if the photographer had even noticed the two animals connecting, or if all of the credit for the pose had been handed to the hanky.

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Throwing Poses

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

‘“Ladies, I shall expect you to be ready at exactly a quarter before eight. His Imperial Majesty is to arrive at eight precisely, and I must be there to receive him.”’ Anthony Trollope, The Way We Live Now

Myself being The King of the Universe, for around a decade now, I know the importance of turning up to appointments on time. Mind you, most of these appointments have been arranged by the voices that only I can hear. Certainly they are the only ones involved in these transactions, I know that, but there’s still a chance that a thus scheduled meeting will indeed bear the magickal fruit expected. Not that I practice magick, but I somehow seem to have become caught up in someone else’s spell(s.) I’m sure there’s a reason for this and as soon as I’m told, I’ll leave all these squats that I’ve been drifting between over the recent many years. My filthy squats are probably the reason why the voices have never scheduled a meeting for me with sundry people at home, shadowy beings or otherwise, to provide physical proof that I am indeed King of the Universe, instantly worthy of untold riches.
     One time, however, I was actually expected. Sure the voices hadn’t arranged the rendezvous, it being a spur of the moment thing, but walking aimlessly down Newtown’s main street - King Street, Sydney, the unofficial capitol of so very sophisticated Aus - high as a kite on some top quality speed, yet unwillingly again, but without help to do otherwise, I suddenly entered a café on my right, which seemed to have developed a stunning brightness at my passing. I had walked into a photo-shoot, myself obviously the subject, from what I could tell by the photographer’s actions. He had an assistant who seemed to be encouraging me to throw poses.
     Here then was what I’d been waiting years for, proof of my Royalty, the beginnings of archiving my approaching Reign. I accordingly threw some poses, over a few minutes, and I must say that it was the best time that I can recall ever having. It felt very natural, both feeling and looking very chic, experiencing a vogue with Nature at a fundamental level, revelling in one’s own role in living, and fully able to gloriously show off one’s deliberately chosen colourful presentation to one’s fellow citizens. Like I said, the best time that I’ve ever had.
     And just as suddenly as I had begun I likewise stopped, just running out of steam, and starting to feel too self-conscious.
     ‘That was wonderful!’ said the photographer’s assistant. She then came over to me while the photographer moved into the background with his camera. ‘You just jumped right into the spirit of the shoot.’
      ‘Thanks.’ She obviously didn’t know that she’s just a pawn in the bigger game. ‘It suddenly felt like a liberating thing to do.’
     ‘Well, you were superb. I’m Deidre, the guy with the camera’s Elvis.’
     ‘His parents are massive fans, actually hung out with him for a bit back in the day. He was a thorough gentleman.’
     ‘And probably still is, in Heaven. I’m Sidney. Any chance of being paid for the shoot?’
     ‘Maybe. We’re a new art zine, Tempest Times, and were planning on doing some random-slash-guided shoots to open the first edition. What’s your number? I’ll call if we go with you.’
     ‘I don’t have a phone.’
     ‘Well, Sidney, give me your last name and we’ll let you know here at the café in exactly a week if you’ve got the gig.’
     ‘Okay, cool. It’s Rutherforde, with an ‘e’ at the end.’
     ‘I’ll call. Anyway, I’ll let you go. Gotta get ready for the next shoot.’
     ‘See ya.’
     So, feeling great, I treated myself to a cappuccino. Not many people entered the café, and all boring types, with apparently regular jobs, and even more apparent, regular opinions. They looked briefly at the photo-shoot setup but Deidre didn’t seem inspired by their insipid, lifeless attire.
     It was when I’d just finished my coffee that Kelly walked in, Kelly Alvarez, a fellow squatter that I often see around, even though we’ve never been in the same squat together. She’s always been a very vibrant person and she entered the café straight to where the camera was based. She threw some very vogue poses and Deidre signalled for Elvis to begin shooting.
     It was a longer session than mine and it was Deidre who called a halt. She got Kelly’s name and phone number, and then left her to her own devices again. I signed to Kelly and she came over.
     I never knew this about Kelly (then again I do know little enough of her) but she’s always wanted to be a model, and I can quite easily imagine her successfully doing so, with not much make-up, maybe some jewellery. She has such cute Latino features, with alluring eyelashes that are just crying out to be kissed. Constantly. Heroin, though, had other plans. Heroin forced Kelly onto the streets, her entire welfare being spent on the junk, only able to eat free food, and from money that she begs up, living in abandoned, filthy houses for the past four years. She wants to be a model even more now, surviving only on her charm, instead of dependant on a lower life form.
     So she made a deal with me, when I told her that I too had posed for Deidre, and was expecting to hear from her in exactly a week. Kelly promised to give me half an ounce of pot (fourteen grams) every two weeks for four weeks if, in return, should I be selected by Deidre’s zine, I encouraged Deidre to take Kelly in my place. But I would get the pot only, and guaranteed, if Kelly resultantly got the gig.
     Well, it seemed a good deal; who am I to stand in the way of a desperate lass’ dreams? So we shook on it. But we shook on it after I made only the one proviso: we both must head into rehab: her, to get off the junk; me, to get off the speed. Kelly easily shook on the deal, she said, because it was such a great idea. Finally! Control over our lives! We agreed to meet again, at noon tomorrow, in the same café to head off to Rozella Psychiatric Hospital, Ward 26, the rehab ward (well known amongst the seasoned inner city Sydney alternative types.)
     Both of us were true to our word and each of us literally arrived at the same time. Kelly was in as good as spirits as I was, both on the cusp of achieving a more reasoned meaning for our lives, wanting them to be simply ordered, simply yet also intoxicatingly. The ward, though, was unable to help us, at least just then. We both had to wait two weeks for a bed. So we put our names on the list and hoped for the best. Walking away from the ward, with having been so very close yet so very far, proved depressing, and neither of us talked on our journey back to Newtown.
     As I stepped onto King Street again, after Kelly, she turned to me, looking very solemn.
     ‘Sidney, you’ve always been a really good bloke, can I trust you?’
     ‘I always enjoy helping.’
     ‘Today’s my dole day. Can I trust you with it until we get back to Rozella in two weeks? I want to achieve something today and a $350.00 nest egg would be really something.’
     ‘Okay, let’s go to an ATM.’
     Kelly duly gave me her entire dole payment and today, a few days before what promises to be another roasting summer in sophisticated Aus, 2015, is the day we are to meet again at Rozella. I still have her money, deposited in a fee free bank account to keep it out of the hands of a certain speed freak. I’ll give it another hour before I check in to the ward; it would be great if we both had each other’s support while ditching the alluring bane that is all manner of illicit drugs. We’ll see.


Well, I’m now in rehab. The ward gave me a bit of a feed after I filled in the paperwork (for which may God earnestly bless them!) and I am still waiting for Kelly. I’ve enquired about depositing her monies with the Hospital for her but they say I can’t do it on her behalf, not even having her full name. Ah well, at least it’s not in my wallet, easily destined for some more choice speed. The only thing I can do now, I guess, is to follow the programme here and clean up my act. Can’t wait for Kelly forever. I remain hopeful.


It is now the next day and Kelly is still a no-show. My first night in rehab was awful, though the day started off all right. Soon after admission in the morning, however, I couldn’t stop my racing thoughts, couldn’t stop pacing, constantly thinking of the direction and purpose that speed gives me. The staff gave me a Valium to calm down but it stopped working around bedtime. I didn’t sleep all night, desperate for a shot. I was going to ask for another Valium but, really, things were looking like I was just trading one addiction for another. And speed is a finer master.
     So I’ve checked myself out and am on the bus back to Newtown. Kelly’s $350 will buy a nice bit of speed and a good chunk of pot. Boy, does that approaching party feel good! I’ll deal with Kelly when I see her. She can’t really blame me, though, for spending her money. I can always repay her if she really does kick up a stink.
     Anyway, just about to get off the bus. Things are looking fine again!


If you have been enjoying Fitzpatrick's stories here you may also enjoy his short story collections, and other books, available online as both Kindle books and paperbacks (go to Other ebook and paperback options are available at Fitzpatrick is also having a collection of short stories, Aberrant Selected, published by Waldorf Publishing and you can follow its journey at

Saturday 1 October 2016

Likewise Hearing

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

‘They recognised the voices which, a little while ago, had accorded and sung in cadence with their own. But they were familiar voices no more . . .’ Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun

Marjorie Rice Behan and Bellamy Regence were the first out for ward 16’s regular six a.m. coffees, Bellamy having just finished his second cigarette of the day. Marjorie and Bellamy were often patients at ward 16, Rozella Psychiatric Hospital, and tended to socialise with each other, despite the decades difference in their ages. They were both comfortable enough with each other to sometimes sit silently together for a long while, mutually sharing with each other their private fears and dreams.
     This intimacy, though, they did not at all expect to result in both of them hearing the same disembodied, androgynous voice. They looked at each other, seated side by side.
     ‘Did you hear something?’ asked Marjorie. ‘A quiet voice, with no-one there?’
     ‘Yeah. Which is more disturbing than we realise.’
     ‘Well, at least you heard it too. I’m not senile yet.’
     ‘Could you make out what it said?’ asked Bellamy.
     ‘Nope. Could you?’
     ‘No. But I really do think this is serious. We’ve both technically witnessed some psychic event.’ Their discovery though was both boon and bane. Boon, because it meant that each of their own inner voices were indeed real, objectively apparent to each other; yet bane because they only had each other’s word to support their story of having undoubtedly experienced the same type of telepathic moment. The question soon became whether they should tell the nurses of what they had both clearly witnessed. Yet, really, it was a moot point, as lacking any evidence whatsoever the nurses would have no choice but to believe they were each again entering psychosis. Their enforced residence in hospital would then most probably be a good stretch longer. No, they quickly decided, they wouldn’t reveal their discovery. Instead they would move into Marjorie’s two bedroom rent controlled flat when they were discharged (a grateful Godsend to Bellamy who had somehow found himself homeless for the past two months. Neither was he able to get safe, reasonably priced housing in Sydney’s tight renter market, being thus forced to sleep on friends’ couches) and hope to attract that voice again, this time maybe being able to record it with their phones, or otherwise establish its reality. They were both looking forward to residing together but each had to wait about two weeks before they could be sent home. The time passed quickly, both of them practicing having their phone’s recorder only a thumb press away. It was only a matter of time.


Their first night together under their own roof proved successful, but terrifying too: both were awakened in the wee hours of the morning by a long, sustained, keening, coming from the kitchen. Both listened to it, petrified, each suddenly wide awake, able to feel the blood drain quickly from their faces. Then the house returned to silence again, but this time seeming to possess a sinister timbre.
     It was Bellamy who broke the sudden pall, opening his bedroom door - slowly creaking, and then apparently listening attentively. He soon knocked on Marjorie’s door.
     ‘Is that you Bellamy?’ she asked.
     ‘Yes. Did you hear that scream?’
     ‘Yep. Wait, I’ll be out in a minute.’ Bellamy then went to the kitchen to make some coffee for them both. Sleep was without doubt foregone this night.
     Over the coffees they both compared notes and were now entirely sure that both were witnessing some strange psychic phenomena, for equally strange reasons. It was more likely though, that there simply were no reasons and they were both just random targets. After all, they were just two ordinary people, albeit with serious mental illnesses that entitled them to federal government welfare pensions. But for what ultimate purpose? For what gain? Why was the spirit world asserting itself to them two in particular? The only rational explanation, they decided, was that their respective mental illnesses had probably taken a very threatening twist, and they should really go back to Rozella before the sun arose in order to have the nurses and doctors examine the phenomenon.
     They ran into the old problem however; they had no proof for the spirit they’d repeatedly clearly heard and the staff at the hospital would just lock them up for another six weeks, without affecting the voice in any way. Then they would be at the mercy of the voice if it turned nasty, hounding them while they were completely trapped in the luscious grounds of Rozella Hospital. Sure, they could flee the hospital if that voice sought to persecute them, but they would just be brought back again against their will. And even if they somehow weren’t brought back, the voice would hound them wherever they were. But seeing as how it was proof that would solve all their problems, they decided to both take turns at night, staying awake until the morning, fingers at the ready on their phone’s recorder like they had practiced, listening as best they could for the voice’s reappearance in order to record it. Whoever was on the day shift would also listen attentively in order to record the voice. It seemed like a good idea. In fact, the only viable idea.
     Their success in attracting the spirit stayed with them, for, four nights later, while both were unexpectedly partying on a bottle of good Irish whiskey, Bellamy was able to record the voice. In fact he had just opened its recorder function and had settled more into what promised to be a very pleasant, toasty evening. They heard the voice again while Marjorie brought back a fresh bottle of cola from the fridge. But Bellamy only managed to get the last word.
     ‘Ware! Beckoning Charon!’
     ‘I heard it clearly this time, clear as day,’ said Bellamy, after checking the failed recording. ‘Did you?’
     ‘Yep. And with a good education like yours you should know who Charon is.’
     ‘The Ferryman, guiding people across the river Styx into the next life.’
     ‘What did it mean though? Are we to beware Charon’s beckoning, or to beckon him?’
     ‘Don’t know. But we have to get this recording to some sort of authority. Something in the recording might cause some interest. And then they can’t call us crazy anymore, or anyone else that hears bodiless voices.’
     ‘We might be the next level of humanity.’
     ‘Perhaps. But police or hospital? To whom do we go for help?’
     They decided, quickly once again, to take their slim evidence to the local police as, after all, both Marjorie and Bellamy were under somewhat of a continued assault by this spirit.
But since fools rush in where angels fear to tread they resolved to see the police the next day. They wound up the party a little later and retired for the night, sleeping peacefully and undisturbed.


Marjorie was surprised to be the first up and about the next morning at six, as Bellamy was usually up around five a.m. She knocked on his door. Something didn’t feel right. She knocked again. No answer.
     She opened the door. There was Bellamy, in his pyjamas, sprawled across his dishevelled bed, his right hand frozen in a fist over his heart. She took his pulse. And then closed his eyes after feeling no beating. She rang for the ambulance who confirmed Marjorie’s horror. Dead from a heart attack. One of the paramedics pointed to the packet of cigarettes on Bellamy’s bedside table and said she wouldn’t be at all surprised if they were what caused the attack. Filthy smokes, she further averred, and an even more filthy endless string of hypocritical governments for allowing that poison into everyone’s faces, willingly or otherwise.
     When the ambulance had taken Bellamy away she suddenly realised why she was feeling so peculiar. She was sure there was something that she was missing, even though Bellamy’s death could be the only thing amiss (and that had just been taken care of): she could no longer hear her voices. For the first time in over forty years she now had her own thoughts completely at her disposal, no longer able to be hijacked from voices that were simply not real. It was an unusual feeling. It was also a good feeling, her mind so very calm and peaceful. To celebrate she headed out for a large breakfast at a nearby café, tentatively sure that her voices had vanished forever. She felt sure that Bellamy wouldn’t mind the sudden extravagance so soon after his passing, after all, his death seemed to have brought her tranquillity. He always was a good bloke.
     ‘Thanks, mate,’ she said to his ghost, closing the front door behind her. ‘Yep, you’ve been a real Godsend.’


If you have been enjoying Fitzpatrick's stories here you may also enjoy his short story collections, and other books, available online as both Kindle books and paperbacks (go to Other ebook and paperback options are available at Fitzpatrick is also having a collection of short stories, Aberrant Selected, published by Waldorf Publishing and you can follow its journey at 

Friday 30 September 2016


By: Michael Carta

“There is insufficient evidence or proof of intent; defendant not capable of going to trail. Release after three days for jail time served.” Anna would never forget these words; they were burned into her very being.

The resolving chord of the symphonic work was abruptly cut short by the rash sounding radio commercial spokesperson trying to sell mattresses. Anna could not stand commercials and quickly struck the knob to turn off the radio. She was left with just the ambient sound of the bank’s parking lot; even with her windows down, her own breathing was the most audible distraction. She did her best to slow her breathing and make less noise, but the anxiety of the task at hand began to set in. Using both of her hands simultaneously, she took the keys out of the ignition and removed her seat-belt. She waited for her watch to beep on the hour signifying that it was now 11:00am and began walking towards the bank’s front doors.

Before she could reach for the door, it swung open abruptly, nearly hitting her. A typical business man wearing a suit came barreling out in a flurry of stress and frustration. He must have known she was there, but did not even bother to make eye contact or apologize; her existence was not important. Anna stood for a moment before proceeding in as the door’s pressure hinges fought the ever losing battle of closing. Even the air felt negative to her as it trailed behind the man.

Interestingly, the lobby smelled like a mixture of a wet clothes and bacon. Anna wondered if smelling such things together would lead to her salivating while doing laundry via the associate with bacon. She continued to ponder this and other similarly odd concepts until it was her turn at the third teller’s desk. “Next please” said the teller in a robotic and rehearsed tone. Anna stepped up to the ledge and noted how strangely blue the woman’s eyes were. She had to be over sixty judging by the subtle lines showing around her chin and the white hair, but was very perky with her movements. The skin on her arms resembled a cheese pizza with stretch marks and random dark spots. Anna said to herself; “I keep thinking about food related things, I must be hungry.” Before she could analyze any further, the lady set out a pen and pushed a form to Anna while blurting: “Withdrawal or deposit today honey?” “Actually, neither.” Anna said calmly as she held out an index card ignoring the forms on the counter.

 For an awkward moment the teller stared blankly at her, then slowly reached up and took the card. The women read the card out loud softly to herself; “This is a robbery, please call the police.” “…Is this a joke?” the teller questioned sternly. “No, I am serious, please call the police now” “No, you need to step away from the desk, this is not funny!” “It’s not a joke” “Listen honey, I am going to call Rick in security and you will get into trouble.” “That’s fine, maybe he’ll call the police.” Anna said sarcastically.

At this point, everyone in the lobby was silent and mostly confused. Anna sat down in front of the desk, her knees were tired and all of the commotion was stressful. “Ma’am, you stay right there! I am calling the police!” shouted the teller who was now across the room. “finally…” Anna said to no one as she sat and stared at her hands. They had micro spasms or tremors from time to time; though, she often wondered if it was only in her mind. “The mind is powerful and can make you believe in things that are not there” her brother would say, right before attempting some kind of silly magic trick. She missed him dearly.

                “Where is she?” commanded a voice from behind the corner. It did not take long before the security guard was standing right in front of Anna. She stared at his shinny shoes; she could see the ceiling lights and all sorts of reflections. “Why do they need to be so shinny?” she murmured. “What? Stand up and come with me, the cops are on their way- do you have any weapons? Do you have any weapons!?” looking up at the man, Anna could see that he had a quick temper and very little patience. His broad shoulders and lack of a neck gave him a gorilla like form; there was no doubt that he was strong and took pride in his job. She was halfway through standing up when his stone like hand wrapped around her arm and hoisted her up effortlessly. Though, the grip only tightened as he began to escort her to the lobby bench. Her wrists sent signals of pain and distress as she tried to relax through the handcuffing going on behind her back. The rehearsed motions of the guard were unnecessarily jagged and rough as he continued to pat her down searching for weapons; Anna was not enjoying the experience.

                “Take a seat” his voice was calm now; probably because she was thoroughly searched and handcuffed. It was difficult to sit comfortably with her hands handcuffed behind her back. She tried adjusting angles to make it more tolerable. “Better get used to it; you’ll be in those for a while. What were you thinking anyways, trying to rob the bank?” He was standing awkwardly close to her using his large frame to intimidate and block any chance of escape. After a brief moment he complained; “Fine don’t talk, enjoy your time in the workhouse, you’ll have plenty to say after a night in there.” He now was fidgeting with his belt out of frustration and annoyance, his behavior was strange to her. “I… I need to go to the jail holding cell, but I did not know the way…” Anna confessed while looking at his shinny shoes again. “What? We’ll you’ll be there soon…” Puzzled, the guard relaxed some tension and began anxiously looking out the window for a police car to arrive. “You need to stay here; we will need your statements momentarily, sorry for the inconvenience, its standard operating procedure folks.” announced the guard when he noticed a man walking towards the door.

               Soon Anna would be in the holding cell; soon she would be processed into the general population of the county jail. Soon she would find Chelsea mixed in with the other inmates, not expecting her; soon she would have the proof that she needed, or at least some form of vengeance. The flat razor blade hidden along her bra strap popped into her mind; they always forget to check there, maybe they’re embarrassed or shy. It didn’t matter, she had what she needed. 

Thursday 1 September 2016

In Being Proven

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

     ‘A little hunchback, a pen behind his ear and a bundle of papers in his hand, entered the erstwhile sacristy.’ Anatole France, The Gods are Athirst

Dominus Hopwood had only become used to his hunchback (which he’s had since his late teens) because of his first name, meaning ‘Dominant.’ He had always felt that maybe, because of this name, if he kept his ears and eyes open, he could manage to be in the right place at the right time to garner a wealthy secret. And the wealthy distributors of this secret would no doubt discount any threat in his, supposedly, inept hunchback capabilities in overhearing it. Hope springs eternal.
     Dominus now entered the front of his shop from the back room, delving into this hopeful well, while bearing some unwelcome papers, a quote for an expensive dress. Miss Evergreen, who was waiting, was bound to be displeased. He had only seven years ago (at the age of forty-three) inherited the dress shop, in the heart of Redferne, Sydney (and they only sold dresses, of all hues), from a friend, whose last letter said that the shop was easy to run as the ladies were all very relaxed customers and simply didn’t mind if you made a mistake, and were super keen to help out. The world is full of errors was their gracious attitude.
     ‘I hope it’s what we budgeted on, Dom,’ began Miss Evergreen when Dominus reached his place behind the counter. ‘Of course, if it’s a little bit more then that’s no problem.’
     Oh well, might as well out with it. ‘It’s a lot more than budgeted for, Miss Evergreen. My apologies.’
     ‘How much more?’
     ‘$300 extra for the whole dress.’ He showed her the papers containing the quote.
     ‘$300!’ Miss Evergreen exclaimed when she confirmed the horrible news.
     ‘Yes, Miss Evergreen.’
     ‘Well, I’m sorry, Dom, but I’m not going to pay that for a dress I’ll only wear once, even though it’s for my twentieth high school get together.’
     ‘Perfectly understood, Miss Evergreen. And if you wish to cancel the order that’s not the slightest problem. But I may have a way where you can still have your fine dress, and only for a very small favour in return.’
     Miss Evergreen was naturally dubious. ‘What sort of favour?’
     ‘I have been writing for thirty-five years, and only last week printed two hundred copies of my first novel. It has been professionally edited, and has a professional cover. I believe the whole book is just as good as any other serious author’s. Thus, Miss Evergreen, if you distribute ten of the books to your sophisticated friends, you would be doing me an immense favour. The novel, I am sure, if only read, will provide a lasting monument to all art lovers and similar intelligentsia. In return I will do the dress you ordered and you’ll only have to pay the agreed price, I’ll pay the extra.’
     ‘That seems a fine trade, Dom, and I’m happy to accept. I’ll collect the books here tomorrow at this time?’
     ‘That would be very kind of you, Miss Evergreen. The editor who worked on it said that it is a very original idea, as well as enticingly written.’
     ‘Well, I’m happy to help, Dom. So now that’s sorted out, when may I expect my darling new dress?’
     ‘Give me a week. Be here at five in the afternoon.’
     ‘I’ll see you then.’ Miss Evergreen then left, the both of them feeling they had done a fine day’s work.


Dominus was as equally surprised as Miss Evergreen that his freely distributed books were a smashing success. So much so that Miss Evergreen had no trouble in raising some extra small monies towards the author’s printing costs. The donors gave easily and thought that it was money well spent if the author continues with such astounding literature.
     This acclaim, despite expectations, didn’t let up, and Dominus soon had some visitors to his humble shop to ask if he had any more novels planned. By the second such enquiry Dominus had decided to start work on a new novel that very night, feeling easily able to draw a story from the notes in his plethora of literary notebooks. He then told the visitors who enquired after a possible new novel that they could expect something in a few months. He planned to sell them from atop his counter, at a modest $15.00 each.
     Dominus was even more surprised when the initial print run of 200 units of the second novel, three months later, sold out in a week and a half. He was ecstatic! Here then was the inevitable proof that his hunchback had marked him out positively from his fellow citizens, had shown him to be a fellow who thought very deeply and very wisely. He was so happy that he considered giving himself a few days’ holidays, just close up the shop and have lots of very nice Chardonnay. Maybe a cigar or two. A week’s loss of business he couldn’t afford but he well thought he could close up for a few days. And he’s got all that book money. But, alas, wistfully thought Dom, that’s going into another print run, more books this time. Now the world will see my real mettle!
     It was soon after he had received the second print run of the second novel, 400 units this time, that customers began returning to his shop to ask for refunds on this book. Sure, it was a good book, they said, but absolutely paled in comparison with the first. All the returning customers said they were expecting an even greater masterpiece, but only met with shallow bourgeoisie fiction.
     Dominus was of course happy to refund them their $15, somewhat agreeing with the response to this second novel. After all, he clearly remembered thinking to himself soon after starting it, he was rushing things a bit. One just doesn’t dash off substantial literature; he really must go about it a lot more slowly, plan things more. Yes, thought Dominus, I have a natural talent and it’s bound to shine through.
     Shine through it must, his first work showed that, and Dominus had now learned his lesson. He would now work an hour less per day in the shop and spend exactly a year in getting together a collection of short stories instead of a novel. He had so many pocket-sized notebooks filled with ideas that he could probably cull through them to come up with a vague outline of contents overnight. In fact, doing so should be pretty easy.
     Accordingly, he closed up shop early that night, a few days before the start of a cold summer, 2015, and began work on the book that he fully feels will save him or damn him as an author. He was, of course, entirely confidant in his natural literary ability.

It was Miss Evergreen who brought him the delightful news, exactly one year and one day since he began work on his first short story collection.
     ‘Dominus, Dominus, Dominus,’ she said, actually fanning herself. ‘I’ve just read your new book.’
     ‘And what do you think of it, Miss Evergreen?’
     ‘Dominus, I absolutely loved it! You are such a better short story writer than a novelist. I absolutely adored each of them! You are such a distinguished writer, Dominus, that I’d like to be somewhat of your patron. Continue printing these gems and I will be thrilled to help out with the costs. And I absolutely insist you keep all the profit.’
     ‘Well, thank you, Miss Evergreen. You leave me breathless with thanks.’ And indeed, Dominus had to stop for a short while to collect his breath and realise his sudden good fortune. Once collected, he resumed. ‘That is a kind offer that any serious writer would consider. Let me do so for a week or two. Thank you again, Miss Evergreen.’
    ‘Call me Joanna.’
    ‘Would you like some more copies for your friends?’
     ‘Certainly, Dom. Give me 15. You don’t mind if I sell them for a small, tiny profit?’
     ‘It is but your due, Joanna.’
     ‘Thank you, Dom. You’ve always been so kind.’
     Dominus was even more surprised when he sold 300 units of the short story collection in two weeks. Dominus felt that now he had found his rhythm, now he had found his purpose and stride in life. It was quite plain to him, and to all his dedicated fans, that he could quite easily make a good living out of selling his books personally. He just had to find a quick way of getting more people to sample his wares, and his talent, as it already has done, is sure to hook the savvy reader into handing over $10 or $15 for his obviously unique books. This called for a celebration, a nice hearty meal at some interesting café.
     While he was waiting for his seafood linguine he quietly looked into the future that beckoned and the struggling past that had led there. Dominus clearly saw, quite simply, that he was upon a cusp, at the exact fork between two paths his life could go: probable lasting literary fame, or a virtually guaranteed, regular job, with regular income, and almost completely devoid of anything potentially threatening. So, Dominus asked himself, do I want eternal fame, when I might end up living in the gutter? Or worse, sleeping on surly friends’ couches. Or do I want almost assured security? Safety?
     When the linguine arrived he realised that he owed no-one his stunning literary talents but he did owe himself security, owed himself the diligence to never let his hunchback keep him from what is rightfully his. Yes, security above all was what he owed himself, never to be in any way subject to those who see him as worthless. And indeed, his readers would see him as worthless if he did not continue creating fantastic books. Not only that, if he were to continue successfully self-publishing his obvious masterpieces he was in fact justifying those who said he’d never amount to anything because of his back, pandering to their agenda.. No, they were not worth his attention, not worth engaging at a fundamental level with his literature. They were only worth ignoring, only worth letting them perish into their own barbaric souls by withholding from them the fantastic possibilities of his fiction.
     While eating the perfectly al dente pasta he was surprised to feel relief flooding through him. He was happy with himself now, the happiest that he’d ever been, happy that he had discovered his quiet path of success, be it an ever so humble dress shop. He celebrated with two glasses of Chardonnay after the meal.


If you have been enjoying Fitzpatrick's stories here you may also enjoy his short story collections, and other books, available online as both Kindle books and paperbacks (go to Other ebook and paperback options are available at Fitzpatrick is also having a collection of short stories, Aberrant Selected, published by Waldorf Publishing and you can follow its journey at

Monday 1 August 2016

A Very Unique Flower

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

‘“When will summer come?” the flower asked and repeated it every time a new sunbeam penetrated the soil.’ Hans Christian Andersen, ‘The Snowdrop’

Frances, from her time immemorial, had always suspected that she was a very unique flower, being also aware that to be a flower was one of the highest callings for any sentience. She revelled in the sun, in the rain, in the tossing wind, so glad to be alive and rejoicing in the fact that she was aware and sentient. Mind you, she was only aware of herself and her sentient response to Reality when a certain upright animal was nearby. When it wasn’t around she was simply a vegetable.
     Today Frances felt exuberant, the sun being the strongest it had been after the usual coldness cycle. Frances wanted nothing more than to spread her love, but her upright animal friend was prostrate, lying in the garden close-by and apparently oblivious to all the wonders of the natural world, and had been so all day. Frances felt a very large concern for this being, the cause for her own exuberant sentience, especially now that the regular dark was drawing nigh.
     In fact Frances felt so much concern that she decided to try and enter the creature’s mind, a simple enough task considering that they were so closely linked, and try to ‘push’ the creature awake, to lead them come back to the Reality they had been inexplicably excluded from. Frances, it must be said though, was also driven by selfishness, wanting to retain the sentience that was completely the result of the being’s nearness to her.
     Entering the creature’s mind proved to be like entering the coldest of all lands, a vast wilderness of white covered rising and fallings, but the coldness also seemed to wash over Frances, leaving her with only a hint of its menacing bitterness. She saw a robed creature in front of her, somehow knowing to address as Cyndi.
     ‘Cyndi, the world awaits! Return to the glorious sun,’ said Frances to the cowl in front of her. ‘The world is only truly happy when we’re there together.’
     Cyndi hesitatingly threw back the hood, and briefly studied the intruder. ‘What does a flower know?’ she soon asked. ‘The world is utterly too desolate for me to return to.’
     ‘Nothing is that bad.’
     ‘The world is nothing, the Universe is nothing, all Reality is but nought. There’s no way I’m leaving these sheltering, cold hills.’
     ‘Surely there must be at least one reason to return to the sun?’
     ‘There is, but an utterly impossible reason. My son, my lost son. It is for my lost son that I remain here. But don’t wake me to find him. He is lost. And if you do wake me to search, your death is guaranteed.’
     Frances, of course, had no way to bring back Cyndi’s son, offspring being a concept she naturally understood, but decided to bluff her way through instead. Anything to return Cyndi to the en-sunned, bright, regaling world, and to the continuance of her own perception.
     ‘Your son is safe, I assure you. Just return to the world and he will be there to be loved forevermore.’
     ‘Are you serious?’ asked Cyndi, incredulous, yet hoping still.
     ‘His word but awaits thine breath.’
     Cyndi sprang awake then, greatly discomforted, with the feeling that she had been lost among the stars. And lost with a very good reason. She instantly felt that she didn’t want to be amongst the living, and cursed the vague person that had brought her back from her self-imposed catatonia.
     She remembered her conversation with that vague person, a lowly flower, not disputing the fact that she had been conversing with one of the progeny of violets that she had planted in her garden years ago. She was now very unhappy with that violet, the cause of bringing her back to a world where there was no hope and no love.
     Cyndi stood up, a bit groggy now on her feet. She let the dizziness pass and then surveyed her extensive garden. There was the flower, the unmistakeable bastard violet with her pale purple colour. When the last of the head-spins had passed she approached the violet and violently uprooted it.
     ‘Take that, you bastard!’ she screamed to the innocent, forlorn flower. ‘You’ve brought nothing but misery upon us all!’ She then headed inside to her house, inherited from her parents, and deposited the violet upside down into an empty vase.
     Beside the vase Cyndi noticed a handwritten note. She inspected it. Dated today, about half an hour ago. It was a note from her neighbour (who had obviously let himself in with his set of her keys, both of them having exchanged spare keys years ago in case they became locked out) to say that her son had been found. Cyndi now remembered losing him that morning in the local shopping centre, and the frantic several hours she had hopelessly searched for him. She had went in to the garden to relieve her mind, hoping she could fall asleep and find her son returned safely. She only dimly realised she was drifting into catatonia on the cusp of drifting out of the world’s way, somehow sure that this was the only way that she would again see her healthy, joyous boy.
     When the tears were wiped away after the first sentence, Cyndi continued with the note. Her boy, Josiah, was in the local hospital, Westmead, western Sydney, but on life support. The neighbour had searched her house for her but she was not to be found, neither was she in her garden, although he had only briefly looked to see if she was there. It was imperative, or so the neighbour informed Cyndi, that she get down to the hospital instantly, to maybe talk Josiah back into the land of the living.
     So her son was alive. The violet had after all awoken her to good news (despite Frances having no idea of Josiah being found.) She looked at the upside down flower guiltily. It was thankfully still time to make amends. She took the violet back to the garden and replanted her.
     The evening had by now descended and Cyndi spent the early night, before visiting Josiah, in attending to the flower, watering her a small bit, placing some mulch about her roots, stroking the leaves and singing snippets of songs to her, anything that might help the flower to recover from her attempted murder, and as a sign to the little violet that Cyndi was so very sorry for the maltreatment she had inflicted, also plainly telling the flower the she is still rejoicing at the good news about Josiah, her son, that the dear flower had led her to.
     Frances eventually recovered, but by the time she had once more gained her sentience, with Cyndi singing to her in the cold, early light of the next sun, she was a changed flower. She was now a flower who mistrusted everything, seeing everything and everybody - sentient or otherwise - as powerful enemies, enemies who could slay her on a whim. Frances fully realised that she now needed protection from this hostile world.
     Frances’ feeling for the need to strike back was almost constantly with her since her rebirth, Cyndi spending most of her nights in the garden, unknowingly maintaining Frances’ awareness. Frances assumed that Cyndi spent the days with Josiah in the hospital.
     In fact, Frances’ misanthropy had become so overarching over the several days after her attempted slaying, that she maliciously practiced her sentient ability with other creatures around her. She soon found an eight-legged friend who assured her that he could do away completely with the nasty Cyndi, a simple bite placing her amongst her gods. But this friend wanted two favours in return for his poisoning, not the sole one that Frances was offering. Frances’ friend justified his request on the grounds that his poison was very hard to make, and thus easily worth the two favours as Cyndi was assured of death once the bite had been delivered upon her.
     But really, was it worth it? Didn’t everything work out fine in the end?
     Nah, Cyndi couldn’t be trusted. Better the eight-legged friend gave little miss upright a real lesson in trust, and that once it’s abused life was simply not worth living, unless revenge was a possibility. Who knows, if Cyndi’s son did indeed die Cyndi’d most likely take it out on innocent Frances; she’d done so before. Yeah, after all was said and done, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Her eight-legged friend would be pleased at receiving the two free favours from her, and she hoped to be present while Cyndi’s life slowly ebbed away. Sure, Frances may lose her sentience as a result, or she may not (and if she did indeed become no longer sentient the eight-legged friend can take his two favours from her vegetable corpse, and was welcome to them), but what was the point of constantly living in fear, only alive to the fact that she may be slaughtered at any instant? Yes, Frances was very much looking forward to her revenge, its cost willingly bourn.


If you have been enjoying Fitzpatrick's stories here you may also enjoy his short story collections, and other books, available online as both Kindle books and paperbacks (go to Other ebook and paperback options are available at Fitzpatrick is also having a collection of short stories, Aberrant Selected, published by Waldorf Publishing and you can follow its journey at