He limps home from the war with a lopsided gait. A cripple with a dark green uniform hanging on his gaunt frame. They stare at the colorful ribbons and shiny dangling medals on his chest as they avoid his vacant, hollow eyes hidden in bony valleys of dark flesh.
McLeary was a New York City legend.
He was from an era that was long ago. Hard-drinking newsman. He covered the celebrity beat. His favorite film was Sweet Smell of Success with Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis.
McLeary had sold his soul for a glass of whiskey, Chanel #5 and a great pair of legs.
He had no regrets.
He knew the city and where the biggest names went to fuck each other when nobody was looking.
The distance between the house and the cliff isn’t long, nor is it short. The distance is the distance. Years ago flowers bloomed here in ever increasing numbers, filling the landscape. Their lithe youthful necks stretched upwards basking in the warmth of the sun’s rays. But no more. Time’s passage stole the flowers beauty and they began a slow, steady decline.
Well last Saturday we reached the hundred week mark. We have to thank everyone who read or commented or both, that is what the site is all about. We have also had over one hundred thousand hits on site! This is brilliant and we only wish that those who hit were either sending us in stories or commenting! Well maybe not, there are only five of us, but we would love the chance to be overwhelmed!!
It was windy, it was cold and it was pissing down with rain. Craig Spark and Carl ‘Robbo’ Robinson sat illuminated by a flickering streetlamp on a graffiti-stained park bench sharing a litre bottle of White Lightning cider. A church bell chimed midnight and a cat screeched. A siren wailed in the distance.
“Dog? Cat? Bus? Worm? Yes. Melba, did you pick up the waste can? No. No, it was a dog on the corner? I see. What did the bus do? Lose its license? Why? I thought it was a cat. Okay. No, you go ahead, I’ll stop by the hardware store. Really. The entire sidewalk is covered with them. You walk out and you have to jump around like you have ants in your pants so you don’t squish them. Okay. See you then.” Continue reading “Chapter One: Sid by Wylie Strout”
I can whip Tommy Bryce’s ass, no problem. Everyone knows it, including Tommy. You can tell looking at him with those spaghetti arms sticking out from the sleeves of his chocolate ice-cream stained t-shirt. And that blonde crewcut. What’s he think? He’s in the Marines?
So I’m walking home from baseball practice, punching in my Rawlings glove when out of nowhere Tommy rushes past me, grabs the glove, and keeps running. He has a five-foot lead on me minimum when I start after him. But I’m faster, any day.
The kitchen was still except for the ticking of the Westinghouse range clock and a faint whirring sound coming from the back of the refrigerator. It was becoming light outside, but the birds were still quiet in the thick fog.
When we get our first whiff of mortality, which typically happens in our sixties, we are inclined to take inventory of our lives. For the self-satisfied, this is an easy matter: one simply declares himself free of baggage and on an express track to heaven. But that is only true for God’s favorite children; the rest of us have a harder time of it. The bits of good we might have done fade like yesterday’s news. And sins long forgotten assail us like phantoms, leaving us as wary as thieves.
Another week and another wee change. I think we had to.
We’ll get to that soon but we wish to begin with what is the most important part in all this, the stories.
This week we had four out of the five stories from new writers!!
Topics are as eclectic (I need to find a new word) as usual. We have Science Fiction, institutionalisation, exploration with failed manipulation, expectations and realism and a continuation. (Try saying that with a few haufs doon ye!!)
As always, our comments follow.
On Monday we were very pleased to introduce Nyx Bean with ‘Her‘. As with all our new writers, we welcome Nyx and wish her every success with her writing. What a cracking week to become involved!
‘This stands out.’
‘Great imagination linking the ‘other world’ with a recognisable earth…and a cat!’
Wylie Strout was next up. Same welcome and we will add a hope you all have more for us to all the new folks!
Wylie’s short, ‘The Forgotten Tomorrows‘ was published on Tuesday.
‘Good writing. Wylie captured the loss and hopelessness very well.’
‘She depicts a broken and fragile state of mind brilliantly.’
‘It was an uncomfortable read but it needed to be.’
Our third new writer was published on Wednesday. This is getting repetitive but we welcome and wish Alex Colvin every success on the site.
The intriguingly titled ‘The Flexible Rules Of Anthropology‘ was next up.
‘This was well done and gave me a few laughs.’
‘The historic thinking was a point which he put across very well.’
‘The humour is a deliberate throwback to the explorers of old and their ‘superiority’.
Our fourth and final first time story teller was Louisa Campbell with her bitter-sweet tale ‘Snowflakes‘ which was published on Thursday. Which, I might add was our two year anniversary!! More welcomes, hopes and wishes are thrown at Louisa in a loving way!
‘This was as short as the marriage and she tied in expectations with reality beautifully.’
‘Subtle and really sad.’
‘The secretary picking a stiletto for her was maybe a symbol of what was coming.’
And then came Friday. There is no introduction needed. The one and only Leila Allison finished off a very enjoyable week with ‘A Hundred Year Old Man‘
‘Another smasher. You go back and continually find something else to appreciate.’
‘So many wonderful lines. They are a joy to read.’
‘Not talking Thursdays should be a real thing!!’
A Message From Us…
Well we got here. One hundred weeks and our two year anniversary on the sixteenth, I reckon we have done ‘no bad!’
We decided on a free hand for each of us to write whatever we wanted but I do reckon that most of us will hit on the same things.
It has been an absolute pleasure to be involved with this and for that Mr West has to be applauded for his initial idea and vision. I hope that we have continued to work to the ethics and integrity and more importantly, the quality that Adam first thought on.
You all may have noticed that he is still absent from the site, but he continues to have family commitments that he is dealing with. We are in contact with him and continually up-date him on what has been happening. Adam not being directly involved is a loss, we all miss him and we only hope that this is temporary. I know that I have to thank him for taking a chance on a rather uncouth individual to be part of this wonderful site. I wish him well and I know that he wants me to pass on his thanks and every success to all of you.
Onto our writers. It has been a pleasure. There are some of you who I can’t believe I am sharing a site with. The talent that I have witnessed is way beyond many commercial successes that I have read. The imagination, description, characterisation and overall skill has been a joy to read.
A run of the green and a roll of the dice is all that you need to elevate from hobby to living. Please remember us when that million dollar deal turns up!!!
The other folks that I have to thank are those who continually comment. We all love a comment and it is great to see that we have a crux of our writers who continually to do so. Some of the reviews and understanding are as good a critique as from any professional. This gives the site a sense of life and community. I still would love it if all the shy ‘Like’ folks would hit us with their thoughts.
I don’t want to mention specific writers as, well, we are a sensitive bunch and none of us are used to rejection!! But I hope that within my comments to you individually, you can understand the respect and regard I have for each and every one of you.
Lastly I have to say a big thanks to my fellow editors for their guidance, advice, tolerance and patience. Their friendship means the world to me.
Well that has been a bit of a love in. Not something I am used to doing as I’ve been married too long and have a list of enemies who have a note of my name!!
Maybe next year we could go with a ‘Who fucked us off’ theme…
Thanks to you all!!
I lift a glass and wish you ‘Aw The Best!!’
I second everything that has just been said, well maybe not the theme for next year – but then I’m always open to suggestions !
I had no idea, when we first began this thing just what was going to happen. I imagined it would be a small site where we could possibly showcase some of our own work and maybe have some interest and more importantly, input from other authors. What actually happened has amazed and delighted me. We have read hundreds and hundreds of stories, one of the guys can probably tell you just how many, I can’t, numbers are not my thing. But, even more important than the quality and quantity of the written work is the friendships that we have forged.
The editors have been mates for a while, ever since our days on another short fiction site but the circle of friends we have now, among such gifted and prolific writers has enriched my life more than I would have thought possible. I am, I freely admit, a reading nut and a writing fool so, how wonderful to be connected, albeit virtually with this wonderful group of wordsmiths. Thank you all so much for your efforts, your good will, your kindness and your friendship.
And to my fellow editors I just want to say, I love having you guys as part of my life. We have had some sticky times and some hilarious times and it’s all been wonderful. I don’t do writing groups and stuff like that and after doing this with you guys anything else would be second best anyway.
Least but not last. Not only is it fitting for my capacity of coherence but it’s also Sweden’s motto for the Olympic Games. Literally Stories is like a classroom (it’s not at all like a classroom, but follow along anyway). Every week stories appear. We dissect, analyze, discuss, reason, debate, throw paper and chew gum. Since I’m the misfit, I chew paper and throw my gums. We don’t always agree, but often do and it has never been boring. In fear of losing the attention span of the average internet user, I now throw to punch lines.
Fun facts (of varying degrees of comprehension) about me:
I was once voted the most beautiful unjust man. I had to give up the title though. “Tobias just isn’t fair anymore.”
I was once wrongly convicted for death threats after calling too loudly for Diane.
I’m back. I’m hitting my quota. Half a decent joke per post. I traded the other half with Hugh for a glass of pish. My editors deserve a serious ending. They make me smarter, wittier and better. Because they ARE smarter, wittier and better. They are also more helpful; they’re pulling my dim ass to higher levels.
The sincerest and most non-jokingly thank you I can muster
And after least, comes last. And possibly leaster.
It isn’t a word but it should be.
It’s a quite lovely moment to be able to reflect on one hundred weeks of stories, and two years that have changed my life for the better. As my fellow editors have already noted, we were just a bunch of people who met (virtually at least) via a short story site that was slowly sinking and wondered if just maybe we could put something together ourselves.
I guess we can officially confirm now that we just about managed it.
We live in extraordinary times. If you’d have told me twenty (ten!) years ago that four of my closest friends would be people I’d never met I’d have thought you were bonkers (and then run off to write a story about it) but it’s the absolute truth. Reading stories, sharing thoughts with the editors and having a lot of fun in the process has become as much a part of my routine as gin on my cornflakes.
Their advice on my own writing has been invaluable. The opportunity to read brilliant, imaginative and, on occasion, breathtaking stories on a daily basis is a privilege.
It takes time, effort and a whole lot of unpaid love to keep this place going – but it’s worth it.
Thank you to everyone who has made, and continues to make, a contribution to LS. I can’t wait to see what other tales you have up your sleeve for the next 100 weeks…
Just as an ending folks, we have thought on a few lines that we believe to be exceptional. Yep, we may have missed some and this is all about opinions, but here are those words that have stayed with us from the moment we read them!!
These are few among many but are a tiny example of the excellence of the stories we have the opportunity to share.
When do temptations within a man overcome his better angels?
Her memories stain the fabric and soul of our home with light and move me to both laughter and tears.
The coffee is as fine as the morning, as hot as the rising sun.
The cancer done got you, boy. Got you from asshole to elbows. Not much we can do, but wave to you as you go.
In the beginning the days had no names. Jerry chased soap bubbles in the sunshine over freshly-cut grass, while his father strummed the guitar. Life was an easy rhythm of wonders with no conceivable end.
It’s not clear to me how I would introduce myself were it not for this job.
It’s a hell of a thing to look into a face that knows nobody gives a damn anymore. You see it in stray cats, mostly.