Monday 1 February 2016

No Real Defence

© Denis Fitzpatrick, 2015

‘In addition, he acted as teacher at another establishment, and received payment for his work there; and, when he had received the fees for this extra work, he would hasten off and purchase more books.’ Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Poor Folk

Samuel Grant Elvson had always vaguely expected to discover real magick, one of his most earnest hopes, and had always searched for it in second-hand bookshops, and sometimes in Sydney’s few publicly available archives. His reading was thus very wide, from handwritten WWI diary entries to Finnegans Wake. This last he has so far read three times. He likes its intimate code, a romp between only him and Joyce whilst reading the great work.

     The Dickens he was currently considering, though, in Bradley’s, a select second-hand bookstore in Newtown, Sydney, was also a very unique book; a white CD in a clear sleeve had just fallen from out of its pages. He picked it up. Completely blank, devoid of anything identifying it. Ah well, thought Samuel, I’ll check it out at home.

     And it was indeed a good thing that he did open the disc at home (after a virus check), because, and we all blush to say this, it was a love letter, with an alluring photo, brazenly stating that the first man to find the CD was destined to be her One True Love. The writer gave her name as Arabelle Alison-Jane Stead, along with her mobile number and home address.

     Samuel was gobsmacked. Literally. Arabelle’s declaration had been cast so well that he naturally thought the Fates were guiding him into the arms of that someone he’d been longing for, and had always apparently been longing for him. He would be a fool not to reply.

     He rang the mobile number given.

     Their easy conversation assured him that the Fates must indeed be guiding him. Both of them were very open, talking with someone that was very near and yet very far. Strangers, but strangers who had just caught up again. It was no wonder then that about half an hour into their chat that Samuel asked her out. Naturally, Arabelle agreed.

     ‘But we have to go to a real ritzy restaurant. It may be our thing,’ suggested Arabelle.

     ‘Too much ritzy is sickening. But a little bit is good, so how about in a week at some real swell place?’

     ‘Ok, but it has to be in the city.’

     ‘Where else?’

     Accordingly they agreed to meet in the city, in exactly a week, Saturday, in December, 2015, when the Christmas ads began earlier than usual, and to have each searched the Net for some suitable sophisticated restaurant by the time they caught up. Samuel spent the intervening time in being very happy and very sad. Surely this wasn’t a symptom of being in love? But he did fall in love so easily. He was very happy at having come to know Arabelle but was very sad at feeling that he could not possibly live up to both of their hopes. He was just lazy, drifting by through life on interest from a large inheritance (he always thanked his departed Grandma for that before nodding off each night. Well, most nights.) and hoping that everything will continue to fall into his lap. As it was apparently doing.

     This bittersweet melancholy suddenly ended, exactly one week later, when Arabelle texted him to say that she had to cancel. She had just twisted her ankle and was now laid up in bed. Samuel, naturally concerned, rang her.

     ‘Hello, Sam.’

     ‘Hi, Arabelle. So you’ve twisted your ankle? That’s such bad luck.’

     ‘Yeah, I know. But sorry, Sam, I can’t talk long, I’m in so much throbbing pain.’ And she sounded it, pausing between her words.

     ‘Okay, sorry things didn’t work out. Let me know once you’re better.’

     ‘I will.’ She hung up first.

     Arabelle was able to call him back a week later and arranged another get together for the ensuing Saturday. His acceptance provided a springboard for them to talk together for an hour, wandering through the sundry halls of their various joys and pains. Both felt reborn when they ended the call.

     It was when Arabelle cancelled again, on the morning of their second date, that Samuel became suspicious of her. She had food poisoning. She rescheduled for a week hence. But was she simply playing some sort of mindgame with him? This second cancellation, on any law of averages, was very unusual. He hardly knew her, even though she sounded very friendly and engaging; maybe he was paying the price for a former sour love of hers, an indiscriminate victim for her romantic vengeance? Did she perhaps spend her romantic time stringing men along, regularly stirring them in their frustrated juices, and juices so sweetly squeezed? Was she maybe even intent on murder, exquisitely torturing him first?

     Still, he had no proof of this. He was probably being overly sensitive. After all, she sounded like she had food poisoning. Life is full of error too, so no doubt she is being completely honest.

     Over the next morning’s breakfast he thought of her again, as he usually did now. Really, even he was shocked to realise, he didn’t know Arabelle. It was indeed quite likely that she is some type of loon, playing a dangerous mindgame that only she’s aware of. Yes, and why didn’t he think of it before, he should look her up on the Net.

      What he did find about her online, also confirming that he had the right Arabelle Alison-Jane Stead by the photo she had given him in the CD, was that she was a very nice person. Her social media entries were all polite and engaging and contained nothing even remotely offensive. She had even posted a few cute kitten pictures. Here, then, was a very stable woman, apparently in control of her life and not seeking the bruised, beating heart of a random stranger as vindication for a horrible wish that only she knew the roots of.

     One of her posts gave him pause though, a brief mention to two CDs: ‘2 CDs: nothing more.’ It was a post that appeared on its own, with no build up or preamble. She had just suddenly given something out there about two CDs, secretively.

     At the end of his few hours’ long research into this strange romance he concluded that he had to go back to the bookshop in which he had found her original CD. The mention of 2 such CDs was very enticing, a veritable call to action. He expected it was quite possible that there was indeed a second one, considering the strange post, a missing companion that would answer all his questions about the real Arabelle. It just remained to be found.

     But the shop was so big. Where to start? At the bottom, and spend several hours on finding her.

     His patience was rewarded just as he was about to give up looking for Arabelle’s other secret CD, gradually becoming accustomed to the fact that she was truly an honest, regular, and upright citizen, wanting only a love uniquely sought. His patience was rewarded with another blank, white CD in a clear sleeve that fell from a book, a Peter FitzSimmons, again with no identifying marks. It had to be from Arabelle, being exactly like the other.

     His surprise was, and still is, insurmountable when he opened the disc to find that it was a curse, a curse upon the bearer throughout all of time, for a lover that had fled, leaving her suddenly destitute. She is still living on friends’ couches, hoping to get a place in the tight renters’ market of Sydney, and hoping every day that some facile man will pick up the disc and feel her full ire, a ready sacrifice for the barbarian that had extinguished all her hopes of true love. She admitted to planting another CD, a call to love, and that its discovery also doubly damned the bearer.

     What could Samuel do? He was effectively cursed. Doubly cursed. He could ring Arabelle and tell her that he had discovered this second disc but, really, isn’t that what she wanted; isn’t that what she had planned for? And what was worse, he had no real defence. He was quite randomly cursed and just had to live with it.
     No, the best thing to do now was to just always be on the lookout. Somewhere, somehow, in howsoever an innocuous action, Arabelle was aching to further damn him if possible, aching to justify her violent wishes of indiscriminate vengeance. Samuel can only be on his guard, eternally.

If you have been enjoying Fitzpatrick's stories here you may also enjoy his short story collections, and other books, available at as both Kindle books and paperbacks. Click this link to view them - Other ebook options are available through; go to -


  1. Thanks, Kindell. The story is actually the product of writer's block that I had last year.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.