General Fiction, Short Fiction

Tom Sheehan – 150th Story.

Your Walk Westward toward Sunset by Tom Sheehan

It is brittle now, the remembering, how we drove you east with your backpack like a totem in the rear seat, so that you could walk westerly across the continent’s spine, across the sum of all the provinces, through places you had been before, and we had been, and the Cree and the Owlcreek bear and wolves envisioned when night screams upwind, stars loosing their valid phantoms.

Now it seems the ready truth that juxtaposition is just a matter of indifference, because we have all been where we are going, into selves, shadows, odd shining, all those places the mind occupies, or the heart, or a lung at exercise. You had already passed places you would come into when we knew your hailing us down, thumb a pennant, face a roadside flag halting our pell-mell island rush.

To go westerly, to walk across the world’s arching top, you said you had to go east, to know Atlantic salt, kelp girding rocks at anchor, clams sucking the earth down, to be at ritual with Europe’s ocean itself, that mindless sea of lonely buoy bells arguing their whereabouts in the miseries of fog, singular as canyon coyote.

We promised you holy water at Tormentine, reaching place of The Maritimes, a fist-thrust ready for Two-Boat Irish Islanders, Cavendish’s soft sand, holy trough of journey, wetting place, publican’s house of the first order, drinks hale and dark and well met and Atlantic ripe as if everything the bog’s known the drink has.

It’s more apparent now, after you moved outbound, or inward on the continent, trailing yourself, dreams, through wild Nations once ringing one another, your journey’s endless. Nine years at it, horizons loose on eternity, trails blind-ending in a destiny of canyons too deep to be heard, and your mail comes scattered like echoes, scarred horseshoes clanging against stakes in twilight campgrounds, not often enough or soon enough or long enough, only soft where your hand touches hide, hair, heart caught out on the trail, wire-snipped, hungry, heavy on the skewers you rack out of young spruce.

Out of jail, divinity school, bayonet battalion, icehouse but only in hard winters, asking Atlantic blessing for your march into darkness and light, we freed you into flight. You have passed yourself as we have, heading out to go back, up to go down, away from home just to get home. Are you this way even now, windward, wayward, free as the mighty falcon on the mystery of a thermal, passing through yourself?

You go where the elk has been, noble Blackfoot of the Canadas, beaver endless in palatial gnawing, all that has gone before your great assault, coincident, harmonic, knowing that matter does not lose out, cannot be destroyed, but lingers for your touching in one form or another, at cave mouth, closet canyon, perhaps now only falling as sound beneath stars you count as friends and confidants. Why is your mail ferocious years apart in arrival? You manage hotels, prepare salads, set great roasts for their timing, publish a book on mushrooms just to fill your pack anew and walk on again, alone, over Canada’s high backbone, to the islands’ ocean, the blue font you might never be blessed in. Nine years at it! Like Troy counting downward to itself: immense, imponderable, but there.

A year now since your last card, Plains-high, August, a new book started, but no topic said, one hand cast in spruce you cut with the other hand, your dog swallowed by a mountain, one night of loving as a missionary under the Pole Star and canvas by a forgotten road coming from nowhere.

We wonder, my friend, if you are still walking, if you breathe, if you touch the Pacific will Atlantic ritual be remembered as we remember it: high-salted air rich as sin, wind-driven like the final broom, gulls at swift havoc, at sea a ship threatening disappearance, above it all a buoy bell begging to be heard, and our eyes on the back of your head.

That other landfall

     on Equator’s quick needle

          bamboo’s vast jungle

Tom Sheehan

***

Our thoughts:

One day, I was on the grounds and saw a tower in the distance. Like a mountain in the desert the tower appeared closer than it actually was. It took many days and raises in the Sherpa’s (an Iberian Ibex named Aristotle) salary to reach the tower. Lo and behold the great tower was composed of Tom Sheehan Stories. Aristotle shook his head and informed me that there was no way to top the tower, and that we should just admire it for its greatness.

The tower continues to grow and one should expect that this growth will continue for some time to come. There is no finer professional than Tom Sheehan, and the best we can do to salute yet another achievement is to visit the tower and examine it piece by piece.

Congratulations Tom!

Leila

***

I often wonder, and we have never asked, what it was that prompted Tom Sheehan to send us his work. The muses and internet mages were smiling on us that day, anyway. Right from the very first time we knew that this was a writer of quality. What we have come to appreciate so much since then is his professionalism and wonderful gentlemanly nature. In a world and an environment where much is not as kind as it could be, to interact with someone like Tom is a real privilege. His work and output is amazing, and though some of his submissions haven’t been quite right for us it is all presented beautifully and the reading of it is a bright spot on any day. Thank you Tom for sticking with us all this time and allowing us to read your wonderful words. Long may it continue.

dd

***

It has been and still is my pleasure to be on the same site as Tom Sheehan. My admiration for the man is indescribable, I am in awe of his talent, his productivity but more so his respect and humanity.

If I am ever able to even write a quarter of the amount of words he has, I’ll be a happy man. I will bow my head though as I will never reach his quality!

One hundred and fifty stories on the one site is an achievement that very few will ever get near. Many congratulations Tom and thank you for gracing our site and my life.

All the very best my fine friend.

Hugh

All Stories, General Fiction, Tom Sheehan Week, Writing

Tom Sheehan Week.

So, Tom Sheehan Week – what a pleasure it has been to set this up as a Christmas treat for visitors to the site, regulars, newcomers and those who pop in now and then. Anyone who has looked at Literally Stories must be aware of Tom – the writing legend that we have had the honour to feature 100 times.

We read thousands of pieces of short fiction and interact with hundreds of authors at all stages of their writing career and there is a small handful who constantly send us amazing pieces of work and we grab them with both hands. Tom Sheehan is one of those writers and we are so very grateful that he has stuck with the site almost from the beginning. His work is a delight to read and even when he sends us something that, for various reasons, we decide is not the right fit for us he is polite, friendly and professional. Thank you, Tom, for all of that. I could wax lyrical about the beauty of his writing but I think Hugh has that covered in his comments and so I will just say that I second everything he has said.

So, this special week. The stories have been chosen by Tom – we gave him carte blanche in honour of his achievement with no interference at all from us. Of course we have read them, we read every one of his submissions but for this week the site is his. So, click on the link at the bottom of this post for the first of five stories chosen by Tom for you.

Diane

***

When we decided to celebrate Tom’s 100th story, it was a pure joy to think on. Around July time, he knew he was getting close and bombarded us with stories. It was a pleasure to read through them all. At that time we were sending out around fifty rejection letters a week so it was refreshing to immerse ourselves into his work. Whether we accept or reject his stories, they are always a breath of fresh air.

I am in awe of Tom Sheehan as a writer and I admire his outlook on the world.

Tom is inspirational and I think he is inspired every single day by just looking and listening.

His stories can be imaginative but they all have a strong bond with specifics. This could be a person, a sport, a tool, a memory or an emotion.

Tom will always write, he will never run out of things to write about as when he wakes up in the morning he is surrounded by inspiration. Between that and his unique ability to have words flow effortlessly and beautifully, that is writing talent at its pinnacle. We all struggle for ideas, Tom just lives out his day and simply focuses on one aspect and he can and will write about it.

Tom is in tune with all his knowledge, perceptions and humanity and that is blatantly obvious when you read his work. I don’t think there has ever been or ever will be another writer like him.

The other attribute that Tom has in abundance is respect. He respects the past, the people he has met and the world he lives in. This gives his words a beautiful richness and wonder, no matter what subject he takes on.

His work is plentiful but Tom is a one off genius.

It is my absolute pleasure to work with you Tom!

Hugh

***

Tom is one of those writers who, when he falls into his lyrical rhythm, could turn a telephone book or a takeaway menu for the local Chinese restaurant into a thing of beauty.

For me his real strength is his ability to turn everyday people into interesting and readable characters, who have believable conversations. This sounds like something that should be easy to achieve, but it’s the product of repetition and the endless quest to hone his craft. Tom brings us wit and wisdom in equal measure and, most importantly of all, he makes us care about those we share the pages with for a short while.

Many congratulations Tom – and thank you for all the wonderful words you’ve seen fit to share with us.

Nik

Continue reading “Tom Sheehan Week.”

All Stories, General Fiction

River Water Larceny by Tom Sheehan

typewriter

English Wells fought the Pumquich River for forty years, moving his will ever by degrees at it. “By God, Miriam,” he often said to his wife, “I’ll go at it until I drop, most likely. What you work for, you get. You get what you work for.” English, lacking funds or worldly promise, wanted to steal more land from this side of the river, to push his small estate out over the river’s run, to claim energy’s due.

Continue reading “River Water Larceny by Tom Sheehan”