Editor Picks, General Fiction, Latest News, Short Fiction

Week 412: Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda; The Week That Remains; Unexpected Genius From Unlikely Sources

The Grammar Check is in the Mail

There is a vast, unplumbed hole in my learning when it comes to vocabulary. For instance, I went many years believing “unplumbed” meant clogged, like a tavern toilet, not unfathomed, nor lacking indoor plumbing (though I was in the same outhouse with the second definition).

I also went a very very long time thinking that “desultory” was a synonym for dismal; and until recently I believed that “penultimate” placed extra emphasis on ultimate; “atypical” did the same for typical–and, worst of all–I had “hirsute” as a fancy word used to elevate a person’s status instead of an adjective that describes someone who likely grows hair on the bottom of his/her feet.

Continue reading “Week 412: Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda; The Week That Remains; Unexpected Genius From Unlikely Sources”
All Stories, General Fiction, Short Fiction

Kick by Leila Allison

Rehab, 1988

Using cardboard, duct tape and a lamp, Tess turned her closet into a camera obscura.

“This gag’s been around forever,” Tess explained to her “model”–a simple but sweet cocaine addict named Sabrina. “Remember, hold a straight face and don’t look at the light.”

Continue reading “Kick by Leila Allison”
All Stories, Fantasy, General Fiction, Historical, Horror, Humour, Short Fiction

Franky And Jesus by Hugh Cron (Warning – Very strong adult content with what some would find blasphemous references. Do not read if you are likely to be offended.)

For my sister Tracy – Happy birthday and I know that your mind will be elsewhere. Hope this cheers you up a wee tad.

Continue reading “Franky And Jesus by Hugh Cron (Warning – Very strong adult content with what some would find blasphemous references. Do not read if you are likely to be offended.)”
Short Fiction

Week 411 – Heavenly Flying Rats, The Gartferry Revelation And No Contraception Isn’t Too Late.

Sometimes when I start these posts I’ll have a look at the number, birthdays, events in history, that sort of thing, to see if it inspires.

I started reading about the year 411 AD and, to be honest, it was very fucking boring. I then found something about the Missing 411 but couldn’t make head nor tail of it as there were more than a thousand, so fuck knows why it was called that. I finally found this doozy – Seemingly if you keep seeing the number 411, it means that you are being taken care of by a divine being from higher realms. Now what that means, I haven’t got a Scooby.

I remember a person who worked with me and was ‘spiritual’ in a very dubious way. They came to me one day and stated, ‘Look, I’m being looked after by an angel’. They had found a white feather where they were sitting. Maybe this could have been an angel??? Who am I to pooh-pooh (I hate that phrase and I haven’t a clue why I used it!) them for believing in this divine protection. Well, I have my reasons. The doors and windows were open and there was a young seagull stuck in the alleyway where our work was. He walked around, screeching and picking at his feathers. I pointed out the seagull…Without mentioning that he may have been the cause (Not sure why I thought he was a he??) and do you know what the daft bastard said…’The young seagull will be fine because my angel is here.’

…I reckon I could have got away with murder that day as a mercy killing!

I began to think on what I believe in – Angels not so much. However…

…Before I relate this event, I do want you to know something. We are a story site and a lot that I write is exaggerated and twisted but not what I am about to tell you. I will even swear on my first love – A litre of Bacardi (Gwen knows and has accepted this for years!) that this is true.

Gwen’s mum died in 1987 a month after Gwen had turned 18. As a lot of folks do, she was looking for answers and went to a few mediums, soothsayers, spiritualists, whatever you want to call them. She did this for a few years. We got married in 1990 and she was still doing this. In 1991 we had the worst year ever. (HAH! Which has now been bombed out by 2022) Our heating blew up. Our window fell out. Our 100 yard boundary wall fell down. And I wrote off the car. Every fucking thing cost us more money than we had.

Anyhow, at this time she went to a spiritualist and a few bits and pieces were said, some right, some wrong and some indifferent.

But when I saw in her eyes that there was something, (Oh – I was in the bar in the hotel where the guy had set up, waiting for her) I asked her.

Seemingly the fellow had said that he didn’t understand why he was looking out from a house and seeing nothing but fields. (Our wall had been pulled down and that was what we were looking at.) Gwen is an old hand at this and she gives nothing away. She even sits on her hands so no-one can see her rings or what type of rings so she just let him speak. He then stated from that house he could see her husband driving and that he was a very safe driver. (Which I am due to my friends three year old kid being killed on a road by a reckless wank!) He then stated that I was in a bad crash…I hadn’t really considered it bad but my tyre blew out, I think the car spun and I ended up in a cow’s field which had an eight foot drop from road to field. The car stayed up ended. But the thing that did make me shiver a wee bit was the roof and the sills either side of the wind-screen. There were barbed wire indents about half an inch deep all around. I honestly don’t know why the car didn’t topple or the barbed wire cut through.

Anyhow my point is, the guy stated that I was being looked after that night because I deserved it. He said that there had been a kill on that road before and that was the guy who was looking out for me.

I must admit, it did put, not so much a shiver through me but a weird feeling. When Gwen told me all this, I got us a drink and raised my glass.

The one thing I know though – I wasn’t saved by a fucking seagull!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, onto this week’s stories.

We have four new writers and one fellow who is now up to story number four.

We welcome all our new writers and another wee nod to Jim Bates, whose tenacity and courtesy we have admired from day one. We are delighted to see him on the site.

As always our initial comments follow.

First up on Monday was Phoebe Mullen whose first story for us was called ‘Beach Walk.’

‘This thing is hell weird!’

‘Active and strange.’

‘Brilliant tension and the weird was good.’

Our next new writer was Spencer Levy with the very descriptively titled, ‘Arm Milk.

‘Unpleasant, gritty but sincere.’

‘Grim and sad.’

‘A very real piece of writing.’

The newbies keep on coming!

R.W. Maxwell’s ‘Skeleton Crew‘ broke the back of the week.

‘Excellent flow and pace.’

‘The spookiness and underlying threat all the way through is well done.’

‘This has the right balance between weird and sense making.’

Peter O’Connor has found a good run lately and I think Revamp is story number four for him.

‘It’s a sort of sarcastic shot at those home improvement shows.’

‘Really funny.’

‘So readable!’

And we finished off with the gentleman that is Jim Bates!

Emil’s Magic‘ completed the week.

‘I like that he can be caught out if not careful.’

‘Overall great tone and pace.’

‘Perfect timing regarding the ending.’

Well, that is the angelic posting 411 completed.

Please keep the comments coming. And if you did before and haven’t for a while and fancy coming back, we’ll be delighted to see you!

Just to finish, well before the obscure / shit / brilliant / all of those, music section:

I don’t watch much TV and over the holidays, I watch even less. But ‘Two Doors Down’ is brilliant and I sought it out. But that wasn’t what I want to share (Although seek it out. Maybe a wee tad too much Scottish ideals but it is stunning!)

I’d like to share a line that I heard throughout the festivities. There is also a wee lesson here as per the genius that is Billy Connolly – Never steal a line, always mention who said it and you will still get a laugh. He quoted the late great Chic Murray so many times (That man is as literal as you get) and always told you when he was doing so.

I give you this belter from Brendon O’ Carroll and his amazing creation ‘Mrs Brown’s Boy’s’

Mrs Brown:

– We thought about not having children.

– (Winnie, her friend) What changed your mind?

– No-one would take them!!!!!

Hugh

Ahh fuck it – It’s New Year and I have a few sentimental memories about this regarding my dad and my wee Great Aunt Georgie!

Image by günter from Pixabay 

All Stories, Editor Picks, General Fiction, Short Fiction, Writing

WEEK 410: Will You Still Feed Me; A Brave New Year; Mistaken Identity

2023 looks more like an address number than a year to me. Yet when I see 1985 as an address, I think of the year. I liked 1985 for the most part, yet I have already developed a distrust of 2023, though we are just a few days into it.

Racehorses have New Year’s birthdays. As I have since childhood, I still imagine them wearing leftover New Year’s Eve party hats in the stable, eating birthday apples. I identify with the Horses because my birthday happens very close to the start of the year. But unlike a three-year-old Mare, I didn’t don a party hat because I am suspicious of 2023’s intent.

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Short Fiction

Alexander Sawmill Legends, Steamboat Replace By What Was The Coolest Rock Pub And I Couldn’t Ignore A Huge Nod To Tom!!

Week 409

Hope you all had a brilliant Christmas and whether or not you did or didn’t, I really do hope that you remember none of it!!

This is Limbo week, the week between Christmas and New Year. It is fucking dire working these days.

Only on three occasions over the past thirty-nine fucking years (Sore point – Really sore point!! And on the 14th November next year, I will warn everyone not to talk to me!!) have I ever had the whole of the holidays off. And the first one with my first job, I had an absolute ball!! On the 27th me and the guys that I worked with went for a game of squash, then snooker, then the rest of the day and night in the legendary pub called ‘Rabbies’. That pub is still there, but it has lost a lot of its panache! It’s now for the older, earlier drinkers. I think how sad it is every morning I’m there.

This year, I have to work in between and I will hate and resent every fucking minute of it! There was a sign-up stating what wacky events were coming up over the festivities and the heading was ‘Fun At Work’ – Well, that’s a fucking contradiction in terms!!

Work is work. If it wasn’t, it would be called ‘play’

Let’s just say that there will have been no Christmas Jumper on me! (Itchy bastarding things)

To be fair, I shouldn’t moan–I think in one of my previous jobs, I went five years working through The Bells. And again, I should be thankful as this is the first year that me and Gwen have been off for Christmas. (One day mind you. She has to work four thirteen hour shifts to get one day off. Here’s a bonus question – Guess who got five days off???

– The selfish bastard who did the rota!!!)

Now before I start typing even more pish, I have been asked to mention a new feature that we are playing around with. We have always had the Saturday Specials, which were maybe not necessarily stories but they were close. We have had on occasion the odd essay sent in and we have enjoyed them but because we didn’t accept them, they were refused. But we’ve decided to give them a try. We are actually going to underplay this a bit as for the love of whatever a god is, we don’t want inundated with ‘The Infuriated’ being furious about dog shit on their pavements or someone being pissed off with the state of their neighbours’ garden. (I want it on the record that I have told my neighbours that I will tidy mine if they are ever wanting to sell!!)

Ranting is fine as long as it is interesting / Funny or a wee tad sick.

Social Commentary is always something that we want to read but make sure that you are being Ironic / Funny (Again), Cutting, Seething but for fuck sake make it interesting.

None of:

‘I walk in our park and there are a lot of leaves lying.’

‘I was appalled to see a Tesco Trolley next to the pet shop when Tesco’s is half a mile away.’

‘My water pipes smell.’

‘I don’t think that having a Bookies in The High Street is a good idea.’

‘Would somebody please think of the children?’

‘Parking! Don’t get me started about Parking!’ (And then they fucking start!!!)

‘Brexit.’

‘Trump is a cunt’ (We know!!!)

‘Covid.’ (Nope!! Still too early.)

As always, it is very difficult for us to give examples on what we are looking for, it’s the same as with the stories, we will just know it when we see it.

I don’t think we can really state that this will be a regular feature, it will really just depend on what and when we get anything in.

But what the hell, it’s another challenge for you.

I’ve had a look back and on the Saturday Special feature, we only ever had nine writers in eight years. (Conor Barnes, Tom (With four – Another record!!), Jess N. McLean, Emily Dinova, Paloma Martinez-Cruz, Johnny R Beaver, Alex Ryan, Me and Jahunda) Please tell me if I’ve forgotten anyone!

Unfortunately, not many have continued to submit but at least we still have examples of their work that can be accessed.

Maybe the same will happen with this feature, but who knows???

Normally I’d move onto the reviews of the week’s stories but I will leave that, as, to be honest, I have totally run out of plaudits for Tom Sheehan. Between him and Leila, they probably hold every record on the site.

All I will say is that I hope you all enjoyed Tom’s countdown to his second century of stories. It is a mind-boggling feat!

We wish the great man all the happiness for next year and it is an absolute privilege working with him!

To finish off I suppose that I better mention The New Year. I don’t know what I’ll be doing as Gwen is working night shift from tonight until Monday morning. I may just get blitzed on Absinthe and wait until I wake up on Monday morning–We can celebrate then.

The New Year is actually like drugs or alcohol. It’s alright in moderation, but too much of it becomes a huge magnifying glass that you sit under. It exaggerates your mood. That is all well and good if you are happy but a bit of a pisser if you’re down. And if you are heading back to work over the next few days, there is a very good chance that you will be that way inclined!!

So with that in mind, I give you my New Year Toast:

Always be happy the days you’re not there, cause the days you are, work ruins everything.

I suppose I should also suggest a resolution–Promise yourself to punch the enthusiastic at least once this year.

Cheers folks! All the very best to you all!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hugh

And lastly, here is some upbeat classical music to bring in The Bells!!

I give you ‘Lieutenant Pigeon’s’ ‘Mouldy Old Dough.’

Hugh

Image – Pixabay.com

Short Fiction

The Tom Sheehan Christmas Festival

Merry Christmas!

Welcome to the Tom Sheehan Festival. Tom has reached the unprecedented plateau of 200 stories with us–fifty one this year alone. So, for those who do and do not feel a bit shorted by the tree this morning, Tom has brought six gifts. Today numbers 194-199 appear to bolster the holiday. And please return tomorrow for Tom’s historic 200th appearance, which should go down well with the leftovers.

If you come away as thankful as we are for somehow getting this immense post up and ready, you are indeed blessed.

Happy Holidays to All!

Diane, Hugh, Leila, Eds. at Literally Stories

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Short Fiction

Week 408: Ho, Ho, Hell No; Five Wise Writers; Additional Words of Wisdom and Tom Sheehan Eve

I am writing my humble contribution to this post on 24 November, Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. I chose this point because Thanksgiving had at one time been a beautiful holiday until Christmas got so fat and greedy that it had to take everything.

Like a giant star preparing for detonation, puffing up to a size that swallows the planets that orbit it, the green/red Christmas star has done the same thing to the calendar. Save for the area between late January and the end of summer (We now have “Christmas in July”), this putrid star has swallowed the months of the year and will continue to do so until ugsome Black Friday begins at midnight 26 December.

Hurry up with opening those gifts, kids, I want to get in line early.

Sometimes I get the idea that humankind is a suicidal race bent on attracting the wraths of gods it really doesn’t believe in yet continues to invent for profit, regardless of all the healing messages. Although I’m not religious, I root for the spat-on, and there are times when I wouldn’t mind seeing the looming shadow of Jesus Christ approach Jeff Besos from behind–a quick glance at the Son in a BOY AM I PISSED Tee-shirt making his mood clear.

So today I stand here on the burnt out cinder that had once been planet Thanksgiving and shake a turkey leg at the fools already forming lines at various retailers throughout this nation. Unless God dispatches a well aimed asteroid I will be standing here still as this Christmas Eve unfolds, the long since devoured turkey leg replaced by a Scotch and soda. Still, if you must, Merry Christmas to you—but please, for the love of decency, do not post any more goddam YouTube videos of gifting French Bulldog puppies under the tree. People who do so richly deserve the sudden uptick of puppy shit in their lives.

I am going to soon depart and turn this post over to fine persons who are perhaps better at expressing their contempt for French Bulldog gifting clips. But first I invite all to come by tomorrow morning to read six stories by Tom Sheehan, which will mark appearances 194-199 by the master, with the unheard of number 200 following on Boxing Day (Not Boxer Day, YouTubers).

And I leave you with a presentation of The Week That Is. The five stories this week weren’t all about plumping up the bottom line and were human endeavors created from the non-grasping, even wise place in the human heart.

This holiday week was brought to you by a group of five authors who have a combined total of six site appearances. It makes sense in a twisted sort of way that with Tom coming by the next two days this week should feature a second timer and four writers new to the site. Although we dearly love our repeat performers, new voices infuse the lifeblood.

Shawn Eichman’s second LS story appeared on Monday. Hunger. Merry Hellworld Christmas! Yes! This piece is harrowing, tense, speaks volumes of the pointlessness of war and yet has an ironic sense of humor that is difficult to extract, but it shines nonetheless, like silver flecks in paint. As it goes with me, I worried more about the Wolf than the people.

Andrew Yim debuted Tuesday with The Locust Seller. The luck of the draw is how this fine story came to be this week. It is obviously a fitting piece for the season, yet one I’m certain reflects life at the time much more accurately than a Bible story and would be just as appropriate if it had been published in August..

Mark Burrow performed what could be interpreted as a parody of what happened to Lot’s Wife on Wednesday, with Alabaster Conjugal. This is such a sinister thing mainly due to its being told in a perfectly sane voice. The normalcy of all other events heighten the inner weirdness. So well done.

Our third debut author, Domonique, made Thursday a fun place to visit with Karaoke Cowboy. This is an odd situation in which the title tells you what the piece is about but in no way prepares you for the inspired and wildly amusing tale that follows.

Orchids in the Sun by Dorothy Rice closed out the run of stories. With just a few hundred perfectly chosen words Dorothy is able to accurately describe the points of view of “Sadie” and her narrow-minded children, and you can sympathize with both. Although most likely not Mom of the Year timber, you find yourself glad that Sadie went away dreaming of possibilities to come.

Leila

***

Great stuff Leila. I hope that turkey leg was all that you could have hoped. I have to say that I look back fondly on Christmases past when my children were little and trifle was a thing.

It’s been another tricksy sort of a year for so many people that it seems somehow wrong to be forcing through this celebration of all things commercial. I did write a longer post bemoaning the greed and the misery and then I kicked myself in the behind (not easy at my stage of life – or ever actually) and deleted that and decided to simply say – wherever you are and whatever you are doing I hope that your day is peaceful, your people are well and the coming year will be kind to you.

Keep sending us your stories, keep on reading the wonderful prose we are able to publish and may you have all that you need and most of what you want.

Merry end of the year celebration with lights and stuff.

dd

Brilliant ladies!

I was also going to be all doom and gloom but decided against it. I will add one observation following on from Leila’s mentioning of Black Friday.

I noticed one stores dismal display for this so-called ‘Event’. Their wares included a few candles, toasters, shredders and kettles. I thought on this and came to a conclusion – Folks have realised that this is all a huge fucking con. BUT, the retailers have realised that the customers have realised that it is a huge fucking con!! Hopefully in a year or so all this nonsense will die off with whatever greedy bastard thought it up in the first place.

No matter what has happened in my life, I have always started Christmas off in the same way – Half a pint of Advocaat and a bacon sandwich. That makes the rest of the day more sufferable.

To all our readers, writers and those who comment or get involved in any way, have a wonderful time and I hope that you and your families are all happy and healthy. I will now steal a line from the legend that was Dave Allen…May your god go with you.

…And that includes the gods of scepticism, lethargy, pessimism, realism, cynicism and addiction!!!

To Diane, Leila and Nik – Thanks so much for this year, I wouldn’t have got through it without you all. I’ll be on The Absinthe on Christmas night and the first half bottle will be toasted to you all. The second half will have me toasting oblivion!!!!

Hugh

The art work is from Angela at Studio Anjou who has quite a number of pieces scattered about the place.

Literally Reruns, Short Fiction

Final Literally Rerun – The Swans by Hugh Cron

We conclude the weekly version of the Sunday Reruns with the only rerun of a rerun I’ve ever brought back. It’s a high class story by Hugh Cron called The Swans. (The Reruns will return in January as a monthly feature.)

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