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Twice-yearly magazine of literature & the arts Issue 36 winter 2019

golddustmagazine.co.uk

Editorial Welcome to our 36th Issue. Writing one of these little introductions it’s always tempting to start complaining about all the aspects of the magazine that aren’t going exactly as we would wish – why aren’t more people sending in submissions, why aren’t people using the new forum, why won’t people come and join the production team? – and so on. But the truth is, all of us working on Gold Dust are profoundly privileged to be able to select stories and poems and introduce others to what we consider excellent new writing, and maybe now and again help someone to get a foothold on the literary ladder, or at least supply that little bit of encouragement that makes the hard work of writing so very rewarding. The production of Gold Dust is and has always been a labour of love. Speaking for myself, while I sometimes feel like Atlas carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders and decide that I can’t continue, I know deep down that I will have to be carried away from this job in a wooden box, an event that may not be as far away as I used to assume. We really could use more help and if you would like to become involved in any capacity in the production of Gold Dust please don’t hesitate to email myself David at sirat@davidgardiner.net or Adele at bramwith22@aol.com to start the conversation. One more thing. We want to start a graphic (pictures only) story competition with a £60 first prize and a £30 second prize. See page 19 for details. Enjoy!

David Gardiner Prose Editor

Gold Dust Team

Gold Dust Online

Founder: Omma Velada

http://golddustmagazine.co.uk/

Prose Editor & prose layout: David Gardiner

YouTube: youtube.com/user/golddustmagazine

Poetry Editor & poetry layout: Adele C Geraghty Photographs and illustrations: Eleanor L Bennett and open source

Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/golddust Twitter: https://twitter.com/GoldDustMaga

Features Editor: Nansy Grill Cover picture: Ladislau Costa (A representation of the main organs linked with personality, thoughts, feelings and emotions: the brain, the blood vessels and the heart. Intended to remind us of the magnificent design of the human body and that every life matters.)

Issuu: https://issuu.com/golddust Founded 2004 We select solely on merit, regardless of the age, gender, reputation or prior publication history of the writer


Flash Fiction

Contents

Port in a Storm 5 Wendy Pettifer Love of a 36 The Generous Woman Lorin Lee Carey

1 Editorial 46 The contributors

Short Stories

8 The Domino Effect Al Donaldson

Features & Reviews Feature:

Donaldson 4 Al David Gardiner Review:

15

Ghost Writer

17

Identity Changes

Debbie Singer Jeaan Duggleby

23 The Jump

10 Nansy Grill

After the Loving

James Bates

28 The Holey Blue Jeans

Review:

Jonathan Bridge

21 The Nightmare

31 Yellow Dog

David Gardiner

Bryan Costales

Feature:

BEST PROSE

34 The

Dungeon Adventurer’s Handbook

a Man: Slavko Mali’s 26 Not stories with pictures by Slavko Mali and Goran Ćeličanin

Simon Kewin

David Gardiner

House Guest 37 ACiaron McLarnon

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Baby’s in Black Lynn Braybrooke


Poems

7

Playground Samuel Swauger

10

BEST POEM

Three Poems Robert Beveridge

Poems continued

Wit Whimsy & Satire

12

Worn Labels

12

Hardy Har Har, Woe Is Me Colon

26

Dianne Bates

Stephen Kingsnorth

27

Calumet City Vern Fein

Jerry Sarnat

12

First Kiss

30

Programming

Paintings Clare Harris

Vivian Wagner

12

Tolerant Isolation Ed Ahern

13

Four Poems

14

Two Poems

Phil Huffy

Robert Fern

Poems continued 20

The Station Dream Mark J, Mitchell

22

Two Poems Joan McNerney

3

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R TU A FE

E

Al Donaldson, Short Story Writer

Al Donaldson was born in 1952 in South Shields and went to the local Secondary Modern School. I don’t think he will mind me saying that he led an unremarkable life, including clerical positions in the Board of Trade, the Australian High Commission and later the Tasmanian Government Office in London, spells as a wine merchant and a prison officer, and the eventual attainment of a qualification from Reading University as a Residential Surveyor. It wasn’t until 2015 when he was 63 that Donaldson self published on Kindle a collection of 18 short stories called Squeals of Delight, which he says sold two copies in four years, one to his brother and one to an old school friend; a result that's instructional perhaps regarding what you can expect if a book gets no promotion. Mr Donaldson has now been taken under the wing of Between These Shores Books who will be bringing out a completely revised collection (title to be finalised) early in 2020. Blaise Pascal said of a book entitled On Opinion, Queen of the World that he ‘approved the book unread, but for any evil that it may contain'. I find myself in a somewhat similar position because at time of writing the final details of which stories are to be included in the new collection and its cov-

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by David Gardiner

er image are not yet available. I must therefore approve it, not quite unread, but possibly without having read all of the stories in the order in which they will eventually be presented. But approve it I do nevertheless, wholeheartedly. The publisher states: “This small but titillating collection which will comprise at least ten stories of supernatural, thriller and edgy surrealism, all of which favour ’twist in the tail’ endings, is being held close to the chest. Even the cover has been kept secret until its forthcoming publication announcement in February 2020 on the Between These Shores website at: betweentheseshoresbooks.com/. For more information or to pre-order you should email: btsbooks2007@aol.com” So you must forgive me if I base the following remarks largely on my familiarity with the Squeals of Delight collection. The first story that this author ever wrote was inspired by a job that he had more than twenty years ago making deliveries to farmers. In the course of his duties he discovered that there was a product on the market called 'Pig Yoghurt' which was designed to put weight on piglets very quickly. His speculations about what it might contain gave birth


to the plot of the story The Comeback whose power derives from its ability to "gross out" the reader. At 4,282 words it was perhaps a bit self indulgent in length, but Donaldson soon refined his technique and started pairing his stories down to the bare essentials. Few words are wasted in any of his later work. Al Donaldson's earlier works are written more in the style of a story teller than that of a story writer. They have a sketchy under-drawn quality with little attempt to tie down the settings or explore the emotions or motivations of the characters. We get the outline of the tale direct and unadorned, with the focus on the progression of the events rather than any mental life or inner struggles of the people dealing with them. This gives to the stories a naive comic book quality that made me think of 'primitive art' or manga. Nevertheless these earlier stories have their appeal. The characters may be a bit underdeveloped, but in the context of these stories it doesn't really matter because they are unashamedly plotdriven and the enjoyment is in the quirkiness, wit, frequent surprise endings and supernatural and science fiction elements that they contain. The phrase 'fairytales for grown-ups' suggests itself. But one of the most interesting aspects of this collection is that there is in fact a progression in both style and technique from what I take to be the earlier to the later offerings in the two decades over which they were written. Without knowing the

actual chronology of the writing, it seems to me that there is a shift in the emphasis and a rise in the quality as Donaldson's writing matures and he develops his distinctive voice, culminating in stories like Centre of Attention, which deals with mental illness from the sufferer's (two) points of view, and Dreaming Between the Lines, in which the protagonist's fantasy life is so mixed up with reality that by the end of the story we don't quite know where one begins and the other ends. Of the first group, the ones I particularly liked were The Bus Service to Edinburgh is Rubbish in which a stranded alien behaves in a way we don't expect of a cosmic visitor, and Auntie's Treasures, which makes a point about what it is that gives 'treasures' their value. The Donaldson story that we have published here, The Domino Effect, comes in at less than 1,000 words, making it impressively succinct, yet it achieves an ending that I certainly hadn't seen coming, and which provides the opportunity for a very quirky and memorable closing sentence. We can see that this belongs to a point in Donaldson's development at which he has found his niche and within it become a very skilled technical craftsman. There is excellent variety in this collection and it provides a window into the development of a short story writer. I would thoroughly recommend it on both these counts. GOLD DUST

Port in a Storm by Wendy Petifer Omar broke his wrist when he jumped from a bridge onto the roof of a lorry and fell on the harsh tarmac under the glare of spotlights in Calais port, trying like everyone else to get to the UK. He lived in a caravan in the Jungle and lost hope and himself. He had fled from the war in Syria through many hostile European countries to Calais, to a Jungle two miles east of the port haunted by shadows of hopeful migrants like himself. Tilda left her job as a UK solicitor to draft legal papers for feral Jungle boys longing to join their families in England. She lived in a high flat under the eaves of a pyramid shaped block of old fishermens’ homes fronting the tiny harbour of the dead port. The flashing beam of the lighthouse lit up the scarlet bedding in her warm room from dusk until dawn.

SH ST ORT OR Y

Giant seagulls called as the North Sea wind whistled through the bathroom skylight. They met in a legal shelter made of reclaimed wood and tarpaulin in the Jungle where he translated the words of the lost boys from Arabic to English for her to write them down in her files. They sat closer together on rickety stools at the only table. Sometimes electricity flashed when their arms touched. Horizontal rain blew across the Jungle tearing down tents. The dark clouds so low they touched the ground. Men without shoes waded through muddy water. The storm blew away the boys’ words; by tea time there were none left. The night was black and dangerous. No electricity, dark deals done, police shooting tear gas at small boys clawing at the backs of lorries on the motorway. 5

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That stormy day his hand and heart hurt so much he started to cry for his family and the soft warm dusk of his country. His fear passed to her. Alone in the Shelter they held hands. They kissed, tongues darting in and out like minnows on a reef. “Ana howwayiz,” he said. His eyes were burnt into hers. “So do I but I’m afraid too,” Tilda replied. The greedy wind grabbed at their cagoules as they fought their way back to her little green car. It gave him pleasure to drive back to her flat. He had not driven a car for years. They snuggled under the scarlet duvet and watched the flashing of the lighthouse. They whispered through the darkness and later they ate French bread and cheese. She drank a glass of wine. They held each other’s bodies, his dark and tight, hers soft and white. They knew this was their only night. They slept. She dreamt she sought shelter in the legal cabin from a tiger roaming the jungle. A peaceful path led to his caravan where he happily gave tea and shisha to his friends. He dreamt of nothing. Wrapped in her arms his sleep was deep dark velvet and he was no longer afraid. By morning the storm had gone. The seagull woke them tapping on the window Gold Dust

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squawking for breakfast. Sharp hooked yellow beak, knowing beady eye. “How can I see you again?” Shadi asked. “When I come back to Calais in 6 weeks time.” “I don’t know, Marasch. I don’t know where I will be. I feel very very bad. Mish kwais.” “I promise I’ll come back. It’s not long.” “I promise I’ll wait for you here.” So many promises they could not keep. She lent over the ferry deck watching the places they had learnt love slip away: the harbour, the beach, Cap Gris Nez. He waited in his caravan. Then they did not know that a month later the Jungle would be blazing. Thousands of CRS police cleared the camp on the orders of President Hollande, herding boys into buses to unknown destinations. Tents, teddies, mosques, churches, kitchens, shelters burnt. Afterwards bulldozers razed everything. Fat tyre tracks where hopes and dreams had lingered. No shops or cricket under the shadow of the motorway. He wandered through Europe, searching for a better place. Both left part of themselves in the desolate wasteland that had been the Jungle. GOLD DUST


BEST POEM

Playground by Samuel Swauger I haven’t forgotten what we were like then, when I couldn’t see over the kitchen table and plastic sliding boards burned my legs. We never thought about the discomfort, it happened and off we ran with our make-believe soldiers. It was instinct to take your hands and rub chalk on the asphalt together, laying on the rocky forgeries of a Dr. Seuss book and squinting at the animals in the clouds. Our school has long since been derelict. The parking lot is lone and level now, eroded to graphite hues. At some point I learned to hesitate and grew taller than my mother.

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T OR Y H S OR ST

The Domino Effect by Al Donaldson

I was early. There weren’t that many people in the Social Club. The carpet smelt of stale beer and was sticky underfoot. The barman smiled. “Evening Bob.” “Pint please Jimmy, and the dominoes. Thanks.” Pint in hand I sat at our usual table, tipped the dominoes out, supped my pint and waited for the others. My elder brother Gary was the first, then my younger brother Terry joined us. We talked about our week and waited for Uncle Sid to turn up.

Our Mum had died giving birth to Terry. I remember a woman coming to live in our house, and one day I called her Mum but she'd said, "I'm not your Mum. Call me Aunt Cynthia." Dad died when I was about 10. Cynthia disappeared. I remember her parting words as she packed her suitcase: "I'm not being lumbered with three kids!" It looked like we'd all end up in care That’s when this man turned up. "I'm your Uncle Sid and I'm here to look after you." There was always a meal on the table, help with homework, nursing when we were ill, cleaning, ironing, laundry. That had been over twenty years ago. Gold Dust

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He had raised us. He wasn't just a friend, he was family – even though we found out later that neither Dad or Mum had brothers. Uncle Sid sat down with his pint, rattled the dominoes and picked his tiles. The pint slid down a treat. Terry won. Our glasses were empty. He said, “Same again?” and we all agreed. Uncle Sid pulled out a £50 note and said, “The drinks are on me tonight. I’ve got something important to tell you all. Terry, can you get us all double brandies as well as pints?” Terry looked shocked. We all did. Placing the drinks in front of us Terry jokingly said, “You won the lottery then Uncle Sid?” “Yes I have. I've won about five million quid.” We looked incredulous. He saw the scepticism on our faces. "Honestly, I did win." Well we cheered, toasted his good health and downed our brandies. We played another game. I was made up for Uncle Sid. He never seemed to go anywhere or have anything. We used to take him with us if we visited a stately home or went for a picnic. We never left him out of any events. He really enjoyed being one of the family. After a few more games he said, “Thank you for toasting my health, that means a lot to me. I’ve got a brain tumour and it doesn't look very good for me.” We were ashen, no one spoke ‘til I said: “There must be something they can do?” "Not here, no. Get the drinks in someone!" We played the next game in silence till Uncle Sid said: “They can’t do anything here but they reckon they can in Australia.” We looked at him in hope. “That’s brilliant,” we all said. Uncle Sid continued: “So I’m leaving the UK and going to live in Australia. I’ll be flying out in two days’ time,


“Years ago I had a sex change operation. Thursday morning, Qantas. Cured or not, I’ll not My real name was Mavis Harkness... ” be coming back” We sat wide eyed looking up at him. Uncle Our table exploded. We all protested. Sid drained his glass of brandy and continued, " “I can take some time off work, you’ll need ...and I’m actually your mother.” someone to look after you.” He left in complete silence. It must have “There’s no need, with all that money I can been a good ten minutes before any of us get the best care. You’ve all got families. I spoke. The enquiry began. Wow. What a night. wouldn’t want you come half way round the We each made our way home. I don’t think any world for me.” I got angry. “We wouldn’t be a family if you of us slept a wink. In the morning I phoned-in sick. Great hadn’t looked after us when Dad died. We minds think alike, because Gary and Terry had would have been put into care. You must let done the same. We all met up in the local café, one of us come with you.” and after a lot of tea we formed a plan of action. “Please, let’s just have a good drink and The taxi turned up. Uncle Sid dragged out his another game of dominoes. My mind’s made suitcases from the hall for the driver to put in up. I don't want any fuss!" the boot. All three of us stepped out of the Uncle Sid reached for the dominoes and shadows. drew his tiles. Uncle Sid gasped. He was surprised to see Our minds were not on the game. More pints came and more double brandies as well. us at 5am. “I don’t want any trouble. I’m sorry I couldn’t Uncle Sid placed his last domino and won tell you. It would just have complicated things, the game. A smile of satisfaction crossed his and I wanted to help." face. He drained his pint and started on the “It’s OK. We’ve come to tell you that whethdouble brandy. "The reason I’m not coming back is that after what I tell you, you’ll not want er the operation is a success or not, please come home. You’re family and we love you.” me to come back.” We watched the taxi drive away and I furrowed my brow. It had been a night of through the rear window Mum kept looking revelation. A clichéd 'roller-coaster of emotions'. back smiling and waving till we lost sight of him. He’d won the Lottery, he’d got a dodgy brain tumour, he was moving to Australia and we’d never see him again. What could top that? Uncle Sid stood up and put on his flat cap. GOLD DUST

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Three Poems by Robert Beveridge

THE SLEEP OF ANGELS PASSION

“She sleeps the sleep of angels,� an Italian phrase for death, long ago.

the red caress of one lone drop of blood down a woman's flawless back

Not so with you. Your hair against your cheek, your ear, the pillow. Deep brown of olives in sun, it offers shade to skin, freckles, expression.

SIGH

Lips curved, slight smile flirts across your features as you dream, perhaps.

Low on your hips. Cased in oiled leather. You always did consider yourself born too late.

Light sheen on cheek and eyelid, still wet from recent sex, softens curves and tone. Cocoa butter flecked with coffee, punctuated

Remember there is always someone just on the other side of the door with a faster draw.

with the pink of lips, the gold of earring's glint beneath your hair.

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BO RE OK VIE W

After the Loving by LynnBraybrooke Reviewed by Nansy Grill Screaming, trembles and nightmares will begin for survivors of cruel marriages and unscrupulous divorces while reading After the Loving by Lynn Braybrooke. Sleep will be evasive, replaced by tossing and turning and a thousand questions. Questions like: How could I have loved/married him/her? Why did he/she hate me so much or love me so little? Will I ever be happy? Will I ever meet someone new? He/she deserves to be miserable right? On and on the questions will go and remain unanswered as always. A life experience for those on the short end of the stick will plunge the reader headlong into the cheering section for protagonist Mike Marlowe. Mike is ethical, hardworking, and part owner in a business. He is a loving father concerned for the well being of his two daughters, Rosalind and Regan. Mike is being bled dry by his estranged wife, Rachel. He pays the mortgage, pays for dance lessons, and pays for four new tires for the car, despite knowing that a series of men are sleeping in the house, the girls don’t go to dance lessons, and two of the four tires did not get replaced. He pays so much money to Rachel that Mike can not afford his own apartment, but sleeps on a couch in a onebedroom place belonging to his best friend Luke and Luke's wife Petra. On the other hand, readers on the winning end of a nasty breakup might support Rachel, the antagonist who happens to be a “selfproclaimed snob", but only I think by excusing her excesses as exaggerations introduced by an unreliable narrator. Mike is jarred when he realizes his mother and Rachel are “friends”. The story rings true regarding parents making a choice between their own offspring and the ex, all in the name of having a relationship with the grandchildren. Enter Gina Barrett. She is the rescue angel Mike needed. Gina is pretty enough to get under Rachel’s skin and wise enough to help guide Mike’s decisions with his girls. The time frame in “After the Loving” is unclear. There is implication the divorce

Amazon 27 Aug. 2019 Paperback: £7.99 Kindle: £2.99 between Mike and Rachel dragged out for more than three years. The damages of a divorce such as this can be far reaching. Braybrooke does a good job painting a picture of the devastation in children and parents. Divorce is not just between a husband and wife. Who wins? Who loses? No spoilers here. Read the book. Re-live your own version of deceit and deviousness. Decide who won or lost in your situation. Did anyone really? When children are involved is the relationship ever over? Stay tuned. Braybrooke does a great job setting up a possible sequel. I wonder if a new set of nightmares will emerge. GOLD DUST

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Worn Labels by Stephen Kingsnorth The Good Samaritan was termed

Hardy Har Har, Woe Is Me Colon by Jerry Sarnat

because, on course, they all were bad, the exception to the rule. Unlike the priest and Levite,

W.H.O.E. always seemed there, born then quietly enlarging abnormally in my body.

who did not cross the road, who could not touch contaminants and also serve the nation’s life,

World Of HEptatosplenomegaly eventually impinged hard on the large intestine.

these paragons of rectitude kept walking on the right, correct side for all the people’s health.

It was only some matter of months before those lymphoma cells spread everywhere.

Though when the orthodox victim woke, inn keeper regaled delivery, the horror might relapse recovery:

So now I’ve just a short time left to jot down silly ditties about pirated acronyms.

his naked flesh had been held by Samaria’s unclean as leper, dirty lot. That must have caused confusion, dilemma in the mind then soul,

Tolerant Isolation by Ed Ahern

for when we meet a human, being, the worn warn label is poor guide.

I am genially indifferent to most of the standards you try to enforce.

Programming by Vivian Wagner

Worship who or what you will. Eat whatever you can digest. Make love to whoever’s willing.

Advertising’s a cult, giving us mantras to remember, repeat, change into habits. We hum and chant, finding we already know the words, buying just to shut them up.

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Squander or save your personal or net worth, your mental or physical health They’re your calls, after all. Just please don’t tell me why I have to emulate you.

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Body English No admonition quite conveys the meaning of a piercing gaze.

Four poems by Phil Huffy

No mumbled cues can out emote the effect of a clearing throat. No fancy words can ‘ere replace the message of a sour face. Farmacy

No sharp retort can quite compare to middle fingers in the air.

What primal circuitry compels our patronage, indeed our glorifying, exuberant celebration of beer made in a converted deli next to a pool supply store?

Dig This Archeologistic diggers have found wine in earthen crocks. Should they excavate my basement they can pour some from a box.

By what quirk of our mentality do we exult the consumption of coffee brewed from locally toasted beans obtained from the same far distant places as those shipped to McDonalds?

And if they keep on sifting through the ruins of my pad they may find that cache of that I lifted from my Dad

Is regionally sourced beef any more dead for lack of the additional transportation? Pedal Pusher

And are those grimy farm stand beets, greens akimbo, truly such a grand delight as opposed to those pre-pickled and greenless,

“On your left” -- how unappealing, condescending and unfeeling. If you pass another time amend your warning with an “I’m” or ring a bell from where you zoom; just be polite, I’ll give you room.

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Two poems by Robert Fern

Knock, knock, knock. Someone took a tortoise and pulled this old man out, with his onion bulb feet and scales on his lids, the rasp on his tongue, and the overlapping plates of his skin, the stretch of his pate on his flat skull pan. He sucks lettuce leaves at my table: -well, how did you be?

Dartmouth Tors Tor, like icebergs, lie mainly under; granite seems like tooth canals, tempered by the core. Gradually stripped of all the soft by the picking fingers of the elements. Given time they will break free, stomp pond foot-prints over the moor.

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I would


Ghost Writer by Debbie Singer Jenny woke with a start. Surely the Christmas tree lights weren’t on when she found her way to bed last night. The fact that they were tasteful lights, silver, flashing slowly, not like her neighbour’s gaudy lights back home, didn’t make it better. These lights were on and she hadn’t switched them on. And now she didn’t dare get out of bed and switch them off. She lent forward and pulled back the curtain at the small window on the right of her bed. Tree branches silhouetted themselves against a harvest moon, more orange than yellow. She loved the full moon. Every time she looked at one it made her feel special. Ever since she was a little girl growing up in the suburbs. She felt she drew energy from it. Comforted, she pulled the curtain to and sank back into her bed and snuggled under the duvet. Exhausted from the long trip to North Wales, she felt herself falling back to sleep. Tomorrow she could sit at the desk and begin writing. Ideas for a number of short stories juggled inside her head, fighting for her attention. Imagine her, winning a week at a rural studio for a writer’s retreat. Pushing her hair out of her face she curled up, small enough to take up only half the bed. She felt her thoughts wafting, rhythmic and ethereal, but was awake enough to think “I must be falling asleep.” “Time to sleep, time to sleep,” her thoughts repeated themselves as if on the loop. She could feel them drifting through her head. But now the words were outside her head. A gentle voice, but not hers, coming out of the dark mahogany chest of drawers. “…it’s illuminating to consider the importance of …” As she gradually woke she expected the voice to disappear. But it didn’t, if anything it became clearer, a soft Welsh man’s voice. She felt as if the voice had been there all the time, quietly in the background, but she’d been too tired to notice it when she first arrived. First the Christmas tree, now this, she thought. Should she open the drawer? She envisaged a disembodied mouth in the drawer. As panic rose in her throat, she reached for the bedside lamp. She touched the glass and flinched as cold liquid spilled over her hands. She could hear dripping nearby. She pulled her hand back.

SH ST OR OR T Y

Now she couldn’t turn on the light or she would get electrocuted. Exasperated, she sat up and pulled back the curtain. By the light of the moon she got, up avoiding the spreading pool of liquid on the wooden floor by her bed. Not allowing herself to stop and think, she quickly pulled open the three drawers, one after the other. Nothing. Calm down, Jenny, she told herself. Calm down, there’s no one there. Wiping her hands on the bottom sheet, she slid her body under the duvet until she was completely hidden. Tomorrow she would unpack her jeans and jumpers, ready for her week’s stay. Usually she unpacked the minute she arrived in a new place. But leaving the office late on Christmas Eve after putting the magazine to bed meant she hadn’t arrived until nearly midnight. The best use of her time seemed to be to go to bed straight away. She could explore her new home in the morning: a decision she was now regretting. The only unpacking she had done was to put her new notepad out on the desk. Her colleagues called her a Luddite but she could only write in long hand. A thought was niggling at the edge of her mind, like a mosquito whining just beyond reach. “Get away from it all,” that’s what the blurb about the writer’s retreat had said. “One-room cottage on an isolated hillside. Perfect place to write in peace.” The next time she woke it was daylight. A baby was crying outside her window, raw desperate distressing cries of a new born baby. She hoped its mother would attend to it soon. What mother? she thought suddenly. There were only trees outside, she had seen them in the moonlight. Nowhere for a mother or a baby. Visions of a blood-stained baby filled her mind. She dared not open the curtains. She sat up in bed and looked round the room, taking in the sparse wooden furniture. A clicking sound made her turn to the front door as the metal knob started to turn. Jenny held her breath, relieved she had locked the door behind her. There was a clatter as the key fell onto the floor. She stared at the door as another key turned in the lock, expecting a ghost although she didn’t believe in them. “Only me,” said a lilting Welsh voice, “only me.” The woman who entered was the opposite of a ghost. Her pink tracksuit enhanced her ro15

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tundity. She was carrying a cloth in one hand and a mop in the other. The two women started as their eyes locked. “I’m so sorry. I wasn’t expecting anyone until tomorrow. We don’t usually have anyone here on Christmas Day.” “You can’t imagine how pleased I am to see you. I’ve had an awful night. I’m Jenny by the way.” “I know. And I’m Moira. Let’s get some light into this place,” the woman said, drawing back the curtains. “Those foxes are at it again. Always makes me think of babies, the way they cry. My first one cried just like that.” Jenny stared out of the window. The foxes were tangled together, identical except that one had a bushy brown tail and the other’s tail was white at the end. She wondered what colour tail their cub would have. “So what’s happened here?” asked Moira. She picked up Jenny’s slippers from by her bed and tipped the water in them out into the sink by the front door. Then she placed them carefully upside down on the draining board. She came back with her mop. “I’m sorry. I must’ve tipped my water glass over in the night,” said Jenny. “You must have shorted the electrics with all that water,” said Moira. “Easily remedied with a flick of a switch.” “That voice,” said Jenny, “can you hear that voice?” “The voice of Wales? Of course. The radio is here by the chest of drawers. We tuck it away as some writers find it a distraction.” “But it was on in the middle of the night.” Jenny was peering at the radio. “Really? I must have left it on when I left yesterday afternoon. I always have it on when I’m cleaning. I like the idea that I’m improving my mind while I’m here,” said Moira. “It’s come on now the power’s on again, I expect.” Gold Dust

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“Will the power shortage have affected the Christmas tree lights?” “No, they’re on a different circuit. And the timer’s set so they come on at 4 pm when it gets dark. Always nice and welcoming, I feel. Why?” “They came on in the night, I don’t know what time.” “Let’s have a look. Here’s the timer. Oh no, they’ve been set for 4 am! Must’ve been the previous occupant, no sense of time.” “You can’t imagine what a relief it is to have you explain everything to me. In the clear light of day. I was beginning to think this place was haunted.” “That’s writers for you, always too much imagination!” Jenny was looking at the desk. This must be his writing. The previous writer. He must’ve left it behind.” “Oh no, he uses a laptop; very proud of it he was. Not many people just handwrite these days.” “Well, I do.” Jenny moved closer to the papers on the desk. The writing looked vaguely familiar. All she had done last night was go to bed. Yet this was undeniably her handwriting. The squiggly g’s were hers. Quickly she counted the pages – three. “But I didn’t write this,” she said to Moira. “It’s my notepad but I didn’t write this.” “Well, there was nothing on the desk when I finished cleaning yesterday. We always leave it clear for the next writer. Helps them settle straight into their own writing. What does it say?” Jenny picked up her glasses from the bedside table. She went back to the desk. “Jenny woke with a start…” she read.

GOLD DUST


Identity Changes by Jean Duggleby

SH ST OR OR T Y

China, March 2018. Three old men sit on a bench and a young European woman walks up to them. They greet her humbly, speaking in very poor English. She answers in perfect Chinese and says that she was brought up in England but her father is Chinese. They look more closely and see that she is indeed mixed race. They shift along so that she may sit with them and she enquires if she may ask some questions. Two of the men drift away, but one stays. She reassures him that she is not a journalist. He tells her his story.

even more objects, so we packed them onto three two-wheeled carts and took them to the museum in Lintong. The experts were very excited and said that they were probably from the Qin dynasty. We were very happy as they paid us 10 yuan per cart, which was as much as we’d each earn in a year. When we got back to the village we of course had to hand the money to our production unit, which was required under the collective system. We were then disappointed to only get five points which we could use to buy food. The old men greeted our return and heard of our reward. ‘You’re making a mistake. Your greed I doubt if you know me by my name, Yang Zhifa, but will be our downfall,’ they said, but again we igyou may know something of me. A Chinese curse is nored them. ‘May you live in interesting times,’ and I have certainAfter that, many many people came and found ly had an interesting life. many more statues. The statues were soldiers As I sit here, an old man of 80, sunning myself standing in rows and they called them the Terra and chatting with my friends, it seems that I’ve Cotta Army. Each one had a different face. There come full circle. were also chariots, horses and weapons. It was all I do know your name but I know very little about you. Please tell me. It was a similar day in March, 1974 in Xiyang village when we peasant farmers were sitting on a bench eating our rice and vegetables, that the boss came and congratulated us on our work. We’d had good harvests for the last two years so he said that it was now time to dig a well. We started immediately, and on the second day when we’d gone a few shizhi down, I struck something hard with my hoe and thought it was a bronze relic of some type. I said to my co-worker, ‘Look, there’s something here that I’ve just hit with my hoe.’ He had a look and said, ‘It might be the site of an old kiln. Dig carefully, we might find some jars that we could use ourselves.’ I dug a bit deeper and discovered that the object had the form of a torso and shoulder. By this time word had got round and some of the villagers came to have a look. The children helped with their bare hands, as we had no extra tools. ‘Looking for buried treasure' they called it. To them it was a game. They weren’t so far wrong about the treasure. No, they weren’t but the old men started worrying and said the feng shui was bad and it would affect the village. They wanted me to stop but I refused. I said, ‘I’ve been in the army for six years and I know what I’m doing.’ I should have listened but had the arrogance of youth in those days. We dug further, finding that the object was a complete statue minus one leg and the head, so we then thought it might have been a temple. We found

over two thousand years old. Eventually they found more than seven-thousand-five-hundred-soldiers. They built a big museum over them. We had to move away as our land and the whole village was on the site of the dig. They gave the collective a bit of money and each of us was allocated a family flat, but our community was scattered. Of course we couldn’t farm any more as our fields had been taken. Some of us got jobs helping with the dig and building, but we were really farmers. Businessmen and Communist Party officials came and did well out of it. What did your wife think? She was discontent as she was far away from her friends and parents. When I had farmed I was always near by and we could see each other constantly, working together in the fields. Now I had to

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travel to my work, often quite long distances, so she was lonely. Soon she became pregnant so she had our little boy to keep her happy. Later when her parents, and my parents too, needed looking after, the party gave them apartments near us. I had a hard time from my fellow farmers too. They blamed me for all the changes.

Mr and Mrs Clinton were visiting. On that very day the doctors said, ‘We think that today may be her last.’ I asked permission to take that day off but they said I must wait until President Clinton had been and gone and then I could have leave. The President and his wife talked to me, through an interpreter of course, and asked me to Journalists were allowed to visit and one who sign the book that they’d been presented. Not knowgot talking to me found out that I was the first to dis- ing how to write and thinking they wouldn’t be able cover the treasures. He wanted to write a book and to read Chinese anyway, I just drew three circles. asked for my help. Of course I could hardly read, President and Mrs Clinton went away happily but but I didn’t let on. He wrote his book, which they still the authorities were furious with me. sell in the museum. I went home and found that my wife had died just a few hours before. I was devastated. It was the Yes, my father bought it in England a long time worst day of my life. ago. After that I was sent for lessons in calligraphy, and even learnt some English, but I was working By this time Mao Zedong was long dead. China automatically and my life felt empty. I missed the opened up somewhat in the 1990s and began welfields and the sun and my village. coming visitors from overseas. Someone had the idea that I should work in the museum and sign copSo you carried on working there? ies of the book. I did, and eventually was well paid. What else could I do? I’d been there so long I My wife and family could move into bigger premises, couldn’t imagine any other life. we could have servants, good furniture and fine clothes. My son by now was married and his wife You’d lost you’re identity. had given birth to twins, a girl and boy. This was fortunate, as with the one-child policy they would Yes, that’s it, I’d lost my identity. My eyes began only have been allowed one child. I am the only to weaken and the flash of people’s cameras hurt. man around here with two grandchildren. They put up a notice saying ‘No flash as Mr Zhifa has bad eyes’ but most people took no notice and carried on with the flash photography. Sometimes I shouted and waved my fist at them. At 75 years old I was granted retirement and came back to my family. I felt better and could afford to give my grandchildren a good education. No humiliation of the uneducated for them. The feng shui was good.

Yes, it was but still as I walked around the village I saw my old friends from away back sitting on this very bench, chatting and laughing. When they saw me they went silent and looked away. I approached and eventually they spoke to me, ‘So, Yang, they’ve thrown you out. Not so high and mighty now.' Gradually they began to accept me. They remembered that when I’d had money I’d been generous, helping them out. They’d seen me However others were less fortunate and people as distant, changed, different, but realised now that said that they had been right about the curse. Two I was still the same Yang who had worked and of my fellow farmers died in their 50s and one joked with them as a young man. hanged himself. So now I sit in the sunshine, enjoying village life. Though I was rich, many would not speak with After all, it is people that really matter. Thank you for me and even avoided my family. One day in 1998 I listening to my story. was told that President Clinton was coming from Thank you for telling it. America to visit and I should make sure that I was at my best. Some time before his arrival the doctors This story is based on the truth but with posaid, ‘You must take time off to look after your wife etic license changes. as she is very ill.’ The bosses were kind and said GOLD DUST that I could have time off except for the day when

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Graphic Story Telling Competition

GRAP HI STOR C Y

Below is a rather gruesome story with both words (from Damjan Pejović) and pictures (from Borislav Petković) showing how one fairly mild act of violence can start a chain of misery that only the love of a good dog can break. We want to start a competition with a £60 first prize and a £30 second prize for a story told entirely in pictures (apart from the title) taking up no more than two-and-a-half A4 size pages. Must begin with a half page for layout reasons. Colour or black-and-white, any topic. Deadline for entries: 16th April 2020. Enjoy.

(Damjan Pejović)

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THE STATION DREAM by Mark J. Mitchell Magazines have no covers here A small girl searches for pictures Two tall men stand beside stone tables Every thirty-three and a third seconds, two doors slide open A breeze blows across coverless magazines A flat, sexless voice announces arrivals No one leaves

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The Nightmare by Fred Russell Reviewed by David Gardiner Moonshine Cove Publishing Due Jan/Feb 2020 Cover image not yet available My personal first love in writing was science fiction, and I have my own ideas about what separates it from other genres of writing, particularly so-called ‘lliterary’ fiction, and what makes it either good or bad. A major difference, putting it very crudely, is that literary fiction by and large explores the human psyche and science fiction speculates about the way the world is put together. One looks inwards, the other outwards. Unless a science fiction story has something new and interesting to say about reality, however speculative or far-fetched, it won't hold its audience. The very best science fiction of course bridges this divide – it makes us think about reality and also tells us something about ourselves. This one, I tentatively suggest, may fall into that very special category. The story begins in the latter part of the present century. Advances in medicine and cryogenics have produced advanced engineering techniques that can all but guarantee to make good on the promise of the Abrahamic religions – a life in Paradise with our loved ones to follow on after this one, perhaps for all eternity but certainly for a very long time. The first person narrator, a man suffering from terminal cancer, decides to take up the offer. He asks to be woken up in the year 10,000, when such ailments will be viewed as trivial. His wife vows to do the same when her natural life is nearing its end. The world into which they waken is both familiar and bewilderingly strange. The narrator calls it ‘a staged environment... so successful that we... deceived ourselves into believing that the old realities still held true.' Real or not, it's a world that seems to offer the prospect of a genuine Paradise, once the transition to a fully 'digitalised' state is complete. There is a price to be paid for the transition which amounts to loss of each individual's physical body and integration into a vast machine called the Central Unit. The virtual reality in which everyone will then live will be almost indistinguishable from the reality into which they were born, but immeasurably better. They will 'know everything' like Google on steroids, but remain (or rather become) genuinely free-willed and autonomous, and live a life of limitless enjoyment, which the author presents largely in sexual terms. I wondered about

BO RE OK VIE W

this. I have nothing against recreational sex but I kept remembering a line from the song 'One Night in Bangkok' in the musical Chess: 'I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine'. Intellectual pleasures don't seem to get a look-in at all. The deal being offered is something resembling deification, and just about everything wonderful that it's possible to imagine, but of a virtual kind, in an unreal world. Reality, whatever that is, is what one must give up. That and nothing else. And the response of the protagonist is to organise an underground resistance army of an all too ordinary kind and start shooting and bombing people and things and destroying everything in the time-honoured human fashion. Depressingly, even 10,000 years into the future mankind has yet to drag itself down from the trees. The first half of the novel is in my opinion a lot better than the second half, when it turns into a rather conventional action adventure story. The author does not evade the difficult issues. What are we going to do about sex when we're in Paradise? How will it affect human relationships? Is a life of bodily pleasures all that we need as human beings? What does an immortal living in Paradise do all day? Then there are the more philosophical questions that the novel throws up. As unseen others adjust our personalities, is there a point at which we stop being ourselves and become someone else, or is continuity of identity merely a matter of continuity of memory? Can we ever break free of Cartesian doubt and know that the world we perceive is the real world? Is the distinction between reality and our perception of it itself real or Is the reality of anything permanently unverifiable or even meaningless? Questionable realities and the notion of a digitised universe are by no means new science fiction themes, but this novel explores them with a lot more subtlety and attention to detail than most. The characters are well drawn and elicit our sympathies, and the whole universe of the story is convincing and lacking in the gaping logical discontinuities of most imagined other worlds. It's well written and intelligent and all-in-all a great example of science fiction that's 'old fashioned' in the sense of having a good plot, respecting scientific plausibility and giving us characters that we can understand and care about. I give it my wholehearted recommendation. GOLD DUST

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Two poems by Joan McNerney

When I Was New Skyward

When I was new and the world was new.

Another hot day at the playground filled with shrieks from kids tumbling down slides.

So many roads to wander under a cerulean sky. Forbidden fruits to savor, forbidden lips to taste.

Shouting boys hop on and off the whirling carousel as girls sing songs to double dutch jump rope.

Full of promise, flowers budding on the vine. Their perfume covering my fingertips.

Waiting for my chance on the swing. Finally one is free as I clutch the metallic link chains.

I hurried through each day alive with my songs. The moon rose just for me and stars burned just for me

I pump myself up pushing pass trees, feeling cool breezes brush over me.

Every morning brought sunshine to my window. Another day filled with wonder waiting at my doorstep.

All the noise is far below as I rush towards blue skies. My feet are walking on clouds now.

Spring was greener then. When I was new and the world was new.

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The Jump by James Bates I didn't expect so many people to be standing around on the cliff overlooking the Yellow Knife River but there were, maybe fifteen or so, mostly young folks in their twenties just hanging out, joking around and having a good time, everyone looking tan and fit. It was honestly not what I expected at all. Scared as I was, I found the festive atmosphere kind of distracting and that was a good thing, giving my growing unease. You know what, I thought to myself, this just might work out okay. Next to me my ten year old grandson took my hand and smiled, "Grandpa, look at all the people. This is really cool. " He pulled me along, ever closer to the edge. I followed behind trying to calm my rapidly beating heart with little success. Was I really going to do this? Was I really going to conquer my fear of heights and jump off a thirty foot cliff into a river? It looked like I was. If my wife could only see me, now. A week earlier when I'd told Connie of my plan she'd said derisively, "So you've got a bucket list, Ed? First I've heard of it. And jumping off a cliff is the first thing on it? What, are you nuts?" She shook her head in marital disappointment. "Look, I asked you to take down the swing set in the backyard at the beginning of summer, what, three months ago? You couldn't be bothered. Now, suddenly you've got this ridiculous bucket list that you're all fired up about, and it has to happen like right now. What's next? Parachuting out of a airplane?" I quickly found something of interest down by my shoes and averted my gaze. How'd she know about that? It was third on the list, right after hiking the Appalachian Trial. "How about you put 'Take down the swing set' on that stupid list of yours, huh? Maybe then it'll get done." I tried to recover some modicum of dignity, "Look, I'm sorry about the swing set. I'll get on it right away." "Yeah, right." I could see it in her eyes. My wife's opinion of men, never very high even on a good day, slipped down another rung on her ladder of disappointment. "Before or after you jump off the cliff?" I felt some clarification was in order. "You know that I've always been afraid of heights. I just want to prove to myself that I can do it, and, you know, get past my fear. Plus...well, I'm jumping into a river," I said, for some reason thinking it would put a positive spin on things. Wrong. "Oh, well, a river," she said and then let out derisive "Humph," which rattled the crockery in the nearby kitchen cabinet, "Well, that makes it all right

SH ST OR OR T Y

then." She thought for a moment, shaking her head, dismay written all over her face. We had a good marriage and had been together over forty years, but it wasn't out of the ordinary for me to do something to either try her patience, or disappoint her, or both. This obviously was one of those times. "Well, call Ronny at least. See if he'll go with you. Maybe our son can help protect you from yourself." Whew. Off the hook. I watched as she turned on her heel and headed for the living room, phone in hand, eager, I was sure, to call one of her girl friends to commiserate once again on the idiocy of the male species, a lifelong pastime of theirs. Well, it wouldn't be the first time and probably not the last, either, but what could I say? At least I kept things interesting. As if she could read my mind, Connie turned and gave me a pointed look, "What did you say?" "Ah, nothing. I...I just..." I shut up. It was disconcerting that the longer we were married, the more she seemed to be able to read my mind. I'd have to watch myself. She jabbed a long, pointed finger in my direction, "Something about keeping things interesting? Is that what you said? Well, you'd better watch it, buddy, that's all I've got to say." Scary. Was she becoming clairvoyant? I shuddered at the thought. That's all I needed. I took a moment to collect myself and then called our oldest son and explained what was going on. "This Saturday? Sorry, Dad, can't go. I'm swamped at the dealership, but maybe Noah can. I'll put him on." I took care of my grandson and his two younger sisters one day a week after school. He and I loved doing things together, and after he listened to my idea about jumping into the Yellow Knife River it took him all of about two seconds to say, "Yes!" And that's what brought us to the forests of central Minnesota, a two hour drive north of Minneapolis, on a Saturday and a warm and sunny August afternoon. A tall, well built, dreadlocked guy who looked to be in his mid-twenties broke away from the group when he saw us walking toward the cliff's edge. He came up and smiled a greeting, "Hey there, guys. What's going on? Here to jump off Lollipop?" His grin was infectious, and his bright white teeth were accented by his tan face. He was wearing cut off jeans and flip flops. I tried not to stare at his bare chest and torso, rippling with muscles. He kind of looked like I imagined Hercules might have looked like. Next to me I swear Noah whispered, "Wow." 23

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Lollipop? What the heck was he talking about? I coughed to clear my suddenly restricted throat and said, "Jump into the river? Yeah, I think I am." As if reading my mind he grinned, pointed to the cliff and said affectionately, "Lollipop is what we call this little baby here." "Really?" I stammered. It was all I could think to say. Then I croaked out, "Why's that?" And why was my mouth suddenly so dry? But he was very friendly, and I was trying to be friendly back, you know, trying to get into the spirit of things. Next to me Noah surreptitiously handed me a bottle of water which I gratefully drank from. "We call it that because it's such a sweet little jump." His grin widened, "Not like that one." He pointed over his shoulder up a long rise. Through the trees I could barely make out a high cliff about a hundred yards downstream. "What's that one called?" I asked, trying to keep my voice steady. "Hangman," he said and laughed," because the drop could kill you." Next to me Noah said, "Yikes," while I wiped a bead of sweat from my brow and tried to get my racing heart under control. Mr. Dreadlocks took a long moment looking me over before he calmly patted me on the shoulder and said, "Let's get you started with Lollipop and save Hangman for some other day. How's that sound?" The answer was obvious to me. "Sounds good," I said, trying to sound confident. Next to me Noel whispered, "Way to go, Grandpa," as he took the bottle from my suddenly fidgety hand. Mr. Dreadlocks then slapped me on the back (he really was a touchy-feely kind of guy) and turned to his friends, yelling, "Gang, we've got a jumper here!" A chorus of cheers arose from the crowd. He turned and gave me the thumbs up sign before giving me another once over, taking a bit more time appraising me. I'm a little overweight (doughy would be putting it mildly) and nearly bald. I was wearing tan cargo shorts, a dark blue Minnesota Twins tee-shirt and a Twins baseball cap. On my feet I wore an old pair of canvas tennis shoes. In my research on cliff jumping, I'd read that they would help protect my feet from the force of the impact on the water. "First time?" Like he even had to ask. "Yeah," I said, and damn it if my voice didn't crack. I tried to recover. "It's on my bucket list." "Bucket list? Really. Well, we get that a lot here," he grinned and stuck his hand out, "Welcome. My name's Cody." We shook, "Hi. I'm Ed and this is my grandson, Noah." Noah shook Cody's hand, but didn't (or

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couldn't) say anything, enamored as he was to the point of speechlessness by the statuesque Adonis standing before us. "Great to meet you guys. If you want, I'll help you out." "That'd be nice," I said, meaning it, my relief palpable. For the next ten minutes or so he talked me through what he called The Jump. He was really nice about it, patient with me and informative. He seemed to understand the trepidation a sixty-five year old man might have about leaping into space As he talked people kept coming up to the area and jumping off the cliff, often without any warning or fanfare whatsoever. I saw a skinny whip of a girl walk to the edge, hold her nose and step right off. I saw a guy and a woman around forty jump while holding hands. And then one of Cody's friends, Mia, ran off the edge and did a back flip on her way down. Watching all those jumpers served to make me both excited and nervous, an strange feeling to have. Finally, Cody clasped me on the shoulder in a friendly way and said, "Okay Ed, that's about it." He looked me over once again and nodded to himself, "I'd say you're all set to go. How about it? Are you ready?" I looked around. The sky was cloudless and clear blue. A hot sun was beating down. The scent emanating from the pine forest was heady and fragrant. The crowd nearby was boisterous and happy. I'd been coached by the inimitable Cody. I guess I was as ready as I'd ever be. I took a deep breath, "Sure. Yeah. I'm ready." "Super." Cody turned to the crowd and yelled, "Ed's going for it!" There was a heartfelt cheer, and lot's of 'Atta boys' and 'Way to go's'. I gave my hat to Noah and stepped to the edge. The river was wide, about two-hundred feet across and even though there was a current, the surface looked calm with barely a ripple showing. The shear granite cliff I was on had formed eons ago with a natural ledge that sloped away from the edge toward the shore. All I had to do was step off and drop thirty feet straight down. I was told it would take less than two seconds before I hit the water. I took a deep breath and exhaled. Cody had suggested not to look down, so I didn't. I looked across the river to the pine trees and rocky cliffs on the other side. Behind me Noah whispered, "You can do it Grandpa." I felt him take my hand and squeeze. I turned and looked at him and he smiled an encouraging smile. I smiled back, squeezed his


hand once more, and let go. Let's do this, I said to myself. Then I turned and stepped into space. For a moment I hung suspended. It felt like I was floating. Then I was airborne and free falling, and it was exhilarating. The wind whipped past me, and I'm pretty sure I held my breath. I kept my hands glued to my sides, and the river came up fast. When I hit the water I heard my feet smack the surface as bubbles boiled around me. I went under and spread my arms and legs wide so I wouldn't go too deep. I was conscious of blowing air out through my nose to keep water from going in. Then I swam up about five feet to the surface, not having expected the water to be as cold as it was. But the coolness felt refreshing and added to my euphoria. I'd survived my jump! I was alive and I felt fantastic energized. I couldn't believe it, but I'd conquered my fear of heights. I felt a sense of accomplishment unlike any I'd ever felt before. I hope it doesn't sound too crazy to say this, but I will: I felt reborn. I was also revelling in what must have been a natural high coupled with an adrenaline rush in the aftermath of my accomplishment: the sun seemed brighter, the sky bluer and the wild river I was floating in seemed...well, wilder. Suddenly there was a huge splash next to me. I looked over and saw Cody's head as he bobbed up to the surface. He was grinning like there was no tomorrow. "You did it, man. Welcome to the club." He gave me a highfive which I awkwardly returned. I don't know why, but I was so happy I had tears in my eyes. We swam to shore and climbed a trail back to the top where I was greeted with an enthusiastic outpouring of support and camaraderie by the crowd that had seemed to have doubled in size since I'd first arrived. Noah gave me a big bear hug. For an old guy who wasn't coordinated or in any kind of athletic shape, I have to say that I felt unexpectedly on top of the world. As far as checking something off a bucket list went, I'd have to say that my 'Jump off a cliff' had worked out pretty good. Later, driving home, Noah couldn't quit talking about the whole experience: How cool Cody was.

How amazing his girlfriend Mia was. How neat my jump into the river was. Finally he asked, "Can we go back again, Grandpa? If you want to, that is. If you do go, I'd like to go, too. I mean, if that'd be okay with you." He was excitedly running off at the mouth, and it was kind of cute, but I have say that I understood the feeling. I wondered what Connie would say, me driving back north with Noah sometime and jumping off the cliff again. Well, I knew exactly what she'd say. She'd look at me like I was crazy and say, 'Oh, really, Ed, jump again? What, are you completely insane? Once wasn't enough? You've got to do it again? What have you got to prove? Are you seriously trying to kill yourself?' Then she'd wonder if it was time to take me in to a psychiatrist and have some tests done or something. I'll probably never get her to understand that jumping wasn't about ego, some macho malarkey or anything like that. It was about facing a fear and overcoming it. The jump was a means to an end. Besides, it turned out to be an incredible experience. I didn't have to think too long. To heck with it. I turned to my grandson and said, "You know, I just might." I waited just a tick and said, "And if I do, you can come with me." "Yea! Great, Grandpa," he grinned, "I can't wait." I'm sure he had his own reasons for wanting to go back, but I did, too. The more I thought about it the more I figured, why not jump again? You only live once, no matter how crazy it might seem to others. Besides, once I conquered my fear, it turned out that jumping was an unbelievable rush, one I wouldn't mind experiencing again. That being said, however, I'm positive I'm going to leave Hangman to those made of firmer stuff than me. So, yeah, I think I'll go back, maybe even next weekend. And when I do, there's certainly a bright spot in it for my wife and her friends and their observations concerning the idiotic behaviour of men It'll give them one more thing to talk about. It's the least I can do, and I'm sure they'll appreciate it. So everyone will be happy, and that's got to be a good thing. Right? But before we go, I'll get Noah to help me take down that swing set in our backyard. Promise.

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First Kiss by Dianne Bates Pandemonium this was our house when the old man exploded hurling vicious words with plates, knives, pots whatever came to his brick-hard hands we scrambled but I was trapped my face under this boot blood poured over my skin and tears and snot and then he was gone. quiet and peace descended we picked ourselves up our eyes not connecting rearranging the wreckage when someone knocked we stood like death my mother gestured I answered he was a boy from my school straight-backed usually cool but this day shock in his eyes as it was in mine standing there, witness to disarray to my distress

I was allowed to walk with him a while in the bush where birds sang and warm light spread over us. He did not ask and I did not tell, my tongue glued in my mouth. Instead, for the first time, he wrapped his arms around my shivering body and found my lips with moist, gentle kisses. in my hunger he brought me hope for those short euphoric moments, I was set free from my unlovely life.

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CALUMET CITY by Vern Fein

How does a tiny town triple every weekend as if people were stuffed into it? It ballooned into riotous noise, laughter pumped full of sin—Little Las Vegas. We teen boys stopped our red truck before the open door of a strip joint, pretending it stalled to get a glimpse of the naked flesh until the doorman chased us around the block to try again later. We had Uncle Art, big rings on his fingers, the rich relative, owner of three taverns: The Circus Tap: Where spinning a wheel of fortune got you a free drink if you were on the right stool, a painting of a scantily clad lady riding a tiger staring at you. The Little Club: Where my Father cajoled my Step-Mother from country music to his bed. Art’s Dog House: Where oodles of Kewpie dogs were stuck in every crevice, begging for a drink. Art bought a handgun, twirling it on his fat finger in our living room, not removing the yellow tag. “I’m not paying those fucking Dagos another dime for their damn protection.” My Father: “You’re crazy Art; they’ll kill you. You can’t protect yourself.” The gun, with the yellow tag still on it, was found by his body, riddled by bullets. The newspapers called it a robbery. We teen boys took our friends past his house where his widow lived to look at the plastered-over bullet holes in the garage, making us big shots in the neighborhood. Returned years later to that razed section of town, taverns resplendent with neon replaced by ill-painted, sagging warehouses, bent spears of grass growing between cracks I n the sidewalks, where once had danced, the only town that gladly lowered the number on its green population sign.

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RT O SH ORY ST

The Holey Blue Jeans by Jonathan Bridge

"That t-shirt you're wearing, Zabby, it's got holes in it. On both shoulders. You should throw it away." "I could try and darn it." "That would look dreadful. Besides you're hopeless at darning." "I got it in Australia. It's got an aboriginal design on the front." "So?" "It has sentimental value." "That Egyptian one has holes in it too." "I want to keep that too. It bears my name in hieroglyphics." "You think." "I agree the cartouche round the inscription is wrong. Only pharoahs were allowed that." "Ah Nefertiti. There is a resemblance I suppose. You're a bit plumper." "Thank you. You'll be telling me I only have one eye like her statuette." "She must have had two originally. Look you're not going to wear that t-shirt at our engagement party?" "Whyever not?" "People would think you're a new-age weirdo. It's not as if it's the only garment you've got that looks odd.. All those loose tops, all those funny colours. Promise me you'll be properly dressed." "I'm promising nothing, Simon." "Zabby this is a formal occasion. Of course when we're alone together you can dress how you like. I like to wear informal clothes too. It's just that I like to be neat and well turned out." "Which I'm not." "You have a beautiful white frilly blouse and elegant blue jeans. Why not wear those at the party?" Zabby said nothing. She realised that she'd probably accept Simon's suggestion. A demonstration at such a gathering would achieve nothing except discord. To demonstrate on behalf of oneself and nobody else could be construed as selfishness. It was worth holding one's fire for greater causes. Gold Dust

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Yet it might be satisfying to make Simon pay quite literally for this little exchange. Simon was always neatly dressed. His clothes fitted him. As he said on several occasions, Simon was always in the market for clothes that were informal, trendy even, yet mainstream. And perfectly produced. Blue jeans included. At this thought, Zabby began to get excited. Zabby remembered a holiday in Paris a year or two ago. She'd passed a window display of clothes by one of the most famous dress designers in the city. There, prominent, were a pair of blue jeans. They were beautifully cut. They were just the kind of jeans Simon would appreciate. As for their price of three hundred euros, why Simon, doing remarkably well in his first year at the bar, might consider such expenditure would only enhance his status. It would be a small dent in his income when put alongside the expectation - in a few years at most - of one made by a Porsche. The interesting thing about these jeans was that they were graced with carefully woven holes in the knees. Designer holes no doubt but not something Simon would appreciate. Because Zabby, surviving on a student loan, had little money for an expensive present, Simon had generously suggested that she should choose and buy him a gift which he would pay for. She would then present this to him in public at the engagement party. Now which was that shop in Paris? Quietly Zabby made for her laptop to do a bit of research. Dress designers - Paris - jeans. No doubt one could order things on-line.. The engagement party was ostensibly paid for by Simon, though there were rumours that his legal chambers – sensing an opportunity for publicity – had made a substantial contribution. "And probably got tax relief," said Zabby out loud. "Part of the entertainment budget?" "Don't be cynical," said Simon, as he tried a new bow tie. "We represent the up-and-


coming generation of barristers. Of course the firm is proud of us. And wants to show it." "It can hardly be proud of me," said Zabby, "unless I'm the resident jester." "There's something in that," said Simon. "Kings used to employ dwarfs as critics." Zabby, at five foot ten, was anything but a dwarf and told him so. Simon was quite unfazed. "It'll be a great occasion – not just for us. And," – he paused – "a great outing for that frilly blouse."

kissed Zabby, opened it and saw, to his delight, the label of the famous dress designer. "They're super trendy blue jeans, Simon. Why don't you try them on?" At this a roar broke out: "Try them on, try them on!" Someone dimmed the lights. Simon was ushered into a corner behind a screen. Zabby hoped, with a drink or two inside him, he could hardly see what he was doing. She walked forward to help him put them on – shielding the lower part of the garment with her body as she did so. Darkness enveloped A month later the frilly blouse indeed made its them. appearance. Zabby gritted her teeth and did They emerged. The new jeans were firmly up the buttons from bottom to top. This led to in place on Simon. No doubt about it – they a tight feeling round her neck which she felt, were resplendent. Another drunken kiss for unfairly, could once in Paris have presaged a trip Zabby from Simon. to the guillotine.. Once again someone threw a switch. All Everyone of note in Simon's chambers – the lights came on. In that space they seemed as well as a sprinkle of gossip columnists – even brighter than before. In the middle of it attended Zabby and Simon's engagement Simon stood proudly gazing upwards and party. The top floor partners' boardroom was ablaze with flowers, some of them real. Drinks around at his admirers. A tidal wave of laughter shook the room. were handed round by junior female staff It seemed to go on and on. Simon stood there dressed in what the partners felt serving women in medieval times must have looked bewildered. He followed the company's collective gaze down to his knees. On each like. The sunset viewed through the plateglass windows was tremendous. At the climax one was a big hole, lovingly crafted by the famous dress designer, making the garment there were speeches. And presents. Simon gave Zabby a pair of worth every bit of the three hundred euros kindly paid for it by Simon himself. ear-rings, two enormous amethyst-coloured And Zabby began to laugh too. stones dangling garishly from gold hooks. There was thunderous applause. Now Zabby GOLD DUST stepped forward with a parcel. Simon took it, 29

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Paintings By Clare Harris I dream you buy me a painting One with lavender bushes The canvas scratched and tawny It smells what I think purgatory would be like One with poppy fields Sun kissed and slumbering I lay like a sunbeam dying One with a storm dissipating The purple haze as it vanishes on the horizon An imprint of violent violaceous thunder One with the English countryside Quiet hills with only whispers of wind A sea in the distance which leaves salt in my mouth One with casual throws of color Eye-catching and vibrant I don’t know what it is meant to be yet

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Yellow Dog by Bryan Costales

If he hadn’t been such a stupid mutt, he would have chosen a different location for each of his trysts. Her cheating husband splayed on his recliner, a bottle of Bud in one hand, an unlit cigarette in the other. His clothes looked slept in. Roxey sat on the sofa, her pants and wrists filthy from gardening. Her hair was crooked from wearing a big straw hat all afternoon. “What does this mean?” she asked. “Are we done. Are you actively searching for somebody else?” He looked at her the way a big yellow dog might look at a tick. She shivered. During their early days, that look meant he was about to beat her senseless. But, in his later years, his eyes had dimmed, and so had his desire to punish. He became weak. She suspected she could probably abuse him instead. “Yes,” he said, and set down his almost empty beer bottle. He seemed to think for a moment. Then he lit his cigarette. “I couldn’t smoke in the house before,” he tried to blow a smoke ring but failed with a cough. “Because we were married. But now that it’s nearly over, I can smoke in the house again.” Roxey gritted her teeth but said nothing. She moved to rise and fetch an ashtray, but crossed her legs instead. “Never trust yellow dogs,” her mother had always said. “They knock up all the dogs in the neighborhood, then run down the freeway until

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they become roadkill.” Her mother always had a way with words. “Are you going to run down the freeway?” Roxey asked. “Your mother again?” he said. He hadn’t smoked in years so coughed and dropped the cigarette into his beer bottle. He watched it fizzle out. “I don’t have a lawyer.” “So you now know what you want?” He tried to cross his legs, but couldn’t, so instead he pulled the lever that lowered the back of the recliner. He leaned back and said, “Yeah, I want cash.” He squirmed a bit, then spread his legs and dropped them over either side of the selfrisen hassock. “Twenty grand should do it.” He began to tap his right foot. “Your tell,” she said. “You always tap your foot when you’re insecure.” “Okay,” he said and stopped tapping. “Ten grand.” “That’s what we have in our joint savings account. Why didn’t you just take it for yourself?” “I want to be fair,” he said and tried to sit up but couldn’t because his legs were wrong. After a moment he stopped squirming with a wince and flexed his left arm. “You keep the house. You keep the cars. You keep what’s left of my retirement. I take the ten grand and we’re even.” He smiled like a cartoon dog, a shaggy dog with a week old beard. If he had a tail, she thought, he would be wagging it carefully.

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Roxey stood and crossed her arms. “What’s the catch? You never give up anything. You never have. You’re a selfish cur and you’ve always wanted more, much more. You wanted it all.” His smile vanished. “That’s all. Honest,” he said in a low voice. She stepped up to him. He grunted, and then the beer made him belch. He belched a second time and winced. She waited for him to punch her in the stomach, but he didn’t. She leaned over him and smelled cinnamon on his clothes. “That’s her perfume,” she said, and punched him hard on his jaw. She was surprised the way his fuzzy jaw moved sideways. He said, “Ouch!” then grabbed his left arm. “Damnation this hurts.” She watched him. Waited for him to move. But he remained dead still. She looked at his open eyes and said, “Wow.” She could actually see his worthless life skulk away like a wounded animal down a hole. The back door opened. “Mom! I’m home!” Bobby was home. She reached and closed her husband’s eyes. “Is that Dad?” Bobby stopped behind the sofa. He was still dressed in his baseball uniform, the

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Mighty Ducks. He wore socks because he knew better than to wear cleats in the house. Roxey rose up straight and said to him, “Call an ambulance, please. You dad just died.” “No!” Bobby shouted. He rushed around the sofa and stopped next to his mother. He looked at his dad and then suddenly punched him hard in the cheek. “Why did you hit him? He never hit you? Did he?” Bobby stood up straight. He couldn’t look at her. “He threatened to cut off a finger. He threatened to cut off an ear. He threatened to cut off a toe. He threatened to break my arm. But I always cried. I always cried so much my nose snotted up. Yeah, he let me go. But I was always.. well, so ashamed.” “I didn’t know,” she put her arm around his shoulders and pulled him close. “I’m so sorry,” he sniffled. “I couldn’t tell you.” “I’ll call 911,” Roxey said. “You can hit him more if you want.” Bobby punched his dad in the eye. But that only made him shake with frustration. He kicked his dad’s leg several times hard. But that left him standing there helplessly opening and closing his fists.


They lived across the street from a firehouse. Punched her furiously, hard and harder, over and One brief whoop of a siren and red flashing lights over. Until she felt sick with pain. Her arms windappeared outside. A polite ring of the doorbell, fol- milled and she fell back against the refrigerator. Magnets rained around her head. Her butt hit the lowed by a polite knock. floor. Blood leaked out between her legs. She hurt By the time the police and ambulance folks like hell and knew her baby was dead. left—and the van from the morgue left with her She opened her eyes. She still sat on the sofa. husband’s body—the living room was a mess of footprints and discarded first-aid supplies. They’d The mess of her yellow-dog husband faded away. tried to jump start his heart but failed. Bobby spent She felt the aches of old age return like an unthe time in his room and only appeared afterwards, friendly memory. dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans. “Is Dad gone?” The doorbell rang again. “That’s right,” she Roxey looked at him. “I ordered a deluxe pizza. said eased herself up. “My son, my Bobby, was never born.” I don’t feel like cooking tonight. I thought I’d get drunk on wine.” She fished in her purse and found a ten. She limped to answer the door. She noticed she was “Me too,” he said. “No wine for you,” she said. “You’re too young.” wearing a tattered robe and open toed slippers. Bobby plopped down on the sofa next to her. Her feet no longer looked sexy. She never felt sexy anymore. “Will it be a cheese pizza? Or will it “Sorry Mom. Sorry for not telling you.” be a standard poodle?” “On those business trips, he was sleeping with With her luck, it would be another yellow dog. another woman,” she said. “He wanted a divorce.” With her luck, the light would be on in the kitchen. “We should get a dog,” Bobby said. She looked back, but the kitchen was dark. Roxey looked at him and smiled. “Yes. A She swung the door open. No rain. No poodle. standard poodle. A jet black dog.” A teenaged boy stood there and held a pizza box “We can get a dog online,” he smiled. “I know out to her like a birthday gift. She noticed his name how.” tag, “Bobby.” The doorbell rang. “Is that our dog?” Roxey She held out the ten and he took it. asked. “Wait,” she said. “I forgot your tip.” She limped Bobby stood and said, “It’s the deluxe pizza. I back to the sofa, set the pizza down, and plucked need cash for a tip.” a twenty from her purse. “No,” she said, as she Roxey pulled a five from her purse and hand- stared at the twenty. “He’s not my son.” She pulled ed it to him. As he walked away she marvelled at out two more twenties and frowned. “Have I done the way he had kicked and punched his dead dad. this before?” she asked herself. But she couldn’t “That’s my son,” she said, and pictured him as an remember. She walked back to the front door and adult, never kicking or punching anyone ever marvelled at how she could be very happy and again. distressingly sad at the same time. Like a growl and a woof together. The thought made her smile. She waited, but her son didn’t return. She She felt a chill from the front door. She faced the walked to the front door and found it closed. She swung it open. Outside rain poured and splattered. boy who wasn’t her son, wasn’t her unborn boy, No deluxe pizza. No standard poodle. Just a noisy wasn’t her Bobby. She handed him a wad of bills. downpour and too much humidity. She felt her hair “Keep the change.” try to frizz. “Wow! Thanks ma’am!” the boy said. She shut the door. She turned and saw a light Roxey shut the door and marvelled at the on in the kitchen. smell of pizza. The aroma of garlic and cheese Her husband was seated at the kitchen table. made her smile. She felt young, and light, and happy again. But just for a moment. And then, the moHe had a Bud in one hand and a cigarette in his other hand. He was young again. He saw her and ment was gone. his eyes made her stop. His yellow dog eyes, his All moments were gone. Her son had never evil mean eyes. His glare made her feel less than been born, her memory played tricks on her, and human. all she could think of was that damned yellow dog. Like her mother had said, “Walk down the road of “You shouldn’t bother me when I’m smoking.” life, get hit by a car, become roadkill.” his voice sounded like a low growl. She opened and shut her mouth. She walked into the light. He stood and rushed around the table and GOLD DUST punched her hard in her pregnant stomach.

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T OR Y H S OR ST

The Dungeon Adventurer’s Handbook Corrections and Clarifications by Simon Kewin

Our thanks to all those who have written in with corrections to the original text of The Dungeon Adventurer’s Handbook, especially to those restless and/or angry souls who contacted us from beyond the veils of death. Your feedback is appreciated. All owners of the Handbook should take note of the following amendments before they next delve into some dark and uncharted labyrinth. 1.

4.

The Harmless Fangmouth (p. 42)

The survivors of several parties have been in touch to explain that the Harmless Fangmouth gets its name because it originates in the mountain domain of Harmless, and not because it isn’t dangerous. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Ironic, really. Do not lay down your weapons if you encounter a Harmless Fangmouth as originally suggested. Focus more on the Fangmouth thing.

Dungeon delvers should not, as originally recommended, drop small stones into such pits and count the seconds to ascertain whether they truly are bottomless. We’ve received a disturbing report of a fearsome horror slumbering in the unlit depths being awakened by such an action. You definitely do not want that. 5.

2.

Closing Wall Traps (p. 122)

Bottomless Pits (p. 139)

Sentient/Talking Weapons (p. 401)

The Handbook previously encouraged dungeon delvers to seek out and deploy sentient It turns out that not all closing-spiked-wall swords and other hand-weaponry. We now traps have a secret switch somewhere that advise extreme caution. These weapons can will deactivate the mechanism at the very last moment, as the Handbook originally stat- be very powerful, draining the life-force of those struck and so forth, but their tendency ed. Sorry about that. to randomly shriek curses and profanities while you are sneaking up on the Ogre King 3. Healing Potions (p. 137) can be a cause of … difficulty. Sometimes Debates rage about who it is that thoughtful- trusty, non-magical steel is best. ly leaves healing potions scattered around underground lairs. Their existence is, frankly, 6. Exchange rates (Appendix III) very odd: why would the designer of a dungeon, an individual who is basically trying to The appendix in the back of the Handbook protect their wealth/kill you, leave them there laying out approximate exchange rates for like that? Our advice now is to exercise exthe various currencies found within dungeons has become rapidly out of date and treme caution. The potions probably aren’t shouldn’t be trusted. In particular, the archawhat they seem and shouldn’t be trusted. It is entirely likely that some of them are hallu- ic coins often found within the tombs – the cinogenic elixirs and that a lot of what you so-called crypt currencies – have become encounter after drinking one does not, in fact, enormously more valuable than they were. At the same time, their value is prone to exist. Gold Dust

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plummeting unexpectedly at random moments. Check very carefully before cashing in your recovered loot.

A single mistranscribed syllable in the wording of the spell that was included as a free bonus gift with the original edition of the Handbook has the unfortunate effect of drawing left turns as right turns and vice ver7. Dragon Hoards (Appendix IV) sa when heading south. This has led to Edition 1 of the Handbook confidently assert- some unfortunate situations. Please do not use the spell in its originally published form. ed it is a myth that dragons know precisely Especially don’t rely on the map if you are how many coins and jewels exist in their fleeing from a ravening horde of undead horhoards, and that it is perfectly possible to rors: apparently, if you think a turning takes quietly remove a small amount of their treasyou to the exit but it actually leads to a dead ure without being noticed. It turns out this is end, that doesn’t go well. not at all true. Dragons know the extent of

Our sincere thanks to all those who purtheir wealth down to the last copper piece chased the original edition of the Dungeon and will pursue relentlessly anyone stealing Adventurer’s Handbook. We very much hope from them. From the reports we’ve had, they that those of you who are still with us will can become considerably enraged in such seek out the new, improved Edition II, availcircumstances, making the chances of you able from the enigmatic strangers found in surviving their fiery onslaught remote. Very, all good inns and taverns. very remote. 8. Scroll of Automatic Mapping (Bonus subscriber gift)

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RT Y O SH TOR S

The Love of a Generous Woman by Lorin Lee Carey

I got baptized four times because it seemed like it didn’t take. At least that’s what my parents said. Family and neighbors gathered and watched my five-year-old self into the river. That was the way they did it where we lived. But a child who has come to Jesus wasn’t supposed to act like I did, or so my parents told me. Son, my Dad said, you are not to throw cow patties at passing cars. Jesus would not do that, would he? I said I did not know as I had heard no Bible stories about him being around cars. My Dad put one hand on his forehead and shook his head. Then he whupped me good. The next year Mom and Dad figured since I had attended Bible camp as well as Sunday school that there was a greater probability it would work so they had me re-dipped. Pastor Shank agreed to do this despite the fact that I’d broken some things in church because of having to sing on Sunday. Repent, he said, as he plunged me into the water. It didn’t succeed any better, I have to say. By now the weight of all these expectations of transformation had come to irritate me no end and I proceeded to act out is what I guess you would have to say. I didn’t like the idea of people telling me I had to do this or that. This, I must admit, proved to be a problem in school, as all the teachers had the notion that directing me was their job. This exasperated my folks. Mom about wore out that word. She fretted and so did Dad and they tried various ways to convince me of the errors of my ways. When I reached the age of ten they sent me off for an entire summer to a retreat for troubled youth run by the church. That’s what they told me, although I did not feel troubled by anything except the fact that I had to go to the retreat. I liked having a group of guys to play with, but that summer was not enjoyable. We had to wear uniforms so we all looked alike, and while some of the girls said this made it easier as they didn’t have to choose what to wear I thought they made us look stupid. The uniforms weren’t the worst of it. Everything built up to the grand dip, the next baptism, and they sure put on a show. I won’t go into detail. Suffice it to say that the trumpets and choir made the scene seem like a sanitized version of Jesus Christ Superstar. Yet this third trip to the waters did not affect my approach to life. I thought it important to learn more about girls than about the stories we studied. And that led to some conflicted behavior, such as when a counselor found me peering into a cabin after lights out. I believe, the pastor told my father

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while I lurked on the steps outside his office, I believe that Satan polluted the holy waters. Your son was the last in and it’s possible that Satan intervened. Whether or not that’s the case my parents descended into lamentations once again. I thought they’d given up the notion of saving me. I was mistaken. My continued reluctance to behave in ways that corresponded to their picture of perfect led them deep into connivance. I suspected something was afoot, what with the whispered conversations, hurried phone calls and sudden silences when I entered the room. They were clever. They left evidence around which led me to believe that they were planning a surprise birthday party. After all, I was now nearly sixteen and they dropped a series of references to family history – young ancestors who fought bravely, proved creative beyond their years and so on. Well, on the day of my sixteenth I pretended to be suitably surprised when I arrived home after school to find a gathering of relatives in the living room. Then I saw Pastor Shank and knew they’d tricked me. I had no chance to escape for two members of the football team escorted me outside where I saw a large tub on the patio. Pastor Shank held me under the water longer than I thought appropriate and when I emerged he did not seem pleased at my references to water boarding and the Geneva Convention.

After that I did alter my behavior and as a result my parents no longer believed that I might be a child of Satan. They attributed the positive alterations to the final baptism. It was a turning point, I admit, but the truth is I don’t think the Lord wanted me to continue suffering from parental nagging. Besides which I fell in love with Mary Lou who said if I changed my ways we could have sex. And that’s the truth. GOLD DUST


A House Guest by Ciaran McLarnon A stiff wind sang through the streets of Ontario, settling into the weekday morning. The leaves of the avenue’s trees were dappled with a little red, orange and yellow. The season is drifting to autumn too soon, thought Maeve. Sunlight streamed through the windows and into her bedroom, the shards bathing the room in a sepia umbra that illuminated the wisps of dust in the air. The whistle of the kettle on the stove cut through the haze, Maeve dropped her soap into the bowl. The clink of cups convinced her she would need to investigate; then she would return to her morning ritual. She winced as one of the floorboards creaked, but she continued descending the stairs, wondering if the poker in her hand would be enough to remedy the situation. She crossed the doorway from the hall. She looked into the kitchen, and then looked again. The face before her was familiar, Maeve wasn’t afraid. There he was, taking tea at her kitchen table, reading a tattered copy of The Chicago Tribune. He looked up and smiled as he noticed her enter the room. ‘Benny!’ said Maeve, ‘what are you doing here?’ ‘Nice to see you too!’ smiled Benny, rising to greet the friend who had departed him years before, ‘I was working in Chicago, so I thought I would call over.’ ‘Chicago to Ontario?’ replied Maeve. ‘That’s over a thousand miles. We’re not down the road anymore.’ There was a certain coldness in her voice that Benny pretended not to notice. ‘It took a while, true, but it’s still closer than Ireland! What time does Brian finish work?’ ‘Around six, but on the sunny days it could be longer. What were you doing in Chicago?’ ‘I made a bit of money while I was working,’ said Benny, ‘so I thought I’d call over before I head back.’ ‘There's something we need to get straight before we go any further,’ said Mave, ‘Benny and I are married now. Happily married. Do you understand what I'm saying?’ ‘Sure of course I do. And I'd like to congratulate the two of you!’ ‘Well, so long as you understand that, you’re welcome to stay,’ said Maeve in a voice that

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still betrayed a few misgivings. ‘How did you find us anyway?’ ‘It was easy enough,’ claimed Benny, ‘I just asked around. The name Kearney isn’t that common around here. Your next-door neighbours seemed nice enough, are they German?’ Maeve moved around the table to pull open the curtains opposite Benny. ‘That’s better.’ ‘Christ!’ yelped Benny, raising his hand to shield his eyes, ‘you’re gonna bloody blind me!’ ‘Yes,’ continued Maeve, ‘I think they're German. Most people around here are from somewhere else, I don’t much care from where. We’re all in the same boat.’ ‘True enough,’ said Benny after a moment’s contemplation. Maeve was sitting the other side of the table as she poured herself a cup, shielding Benny’s eyes from the sun before he continued. ‘A lot of immigrants in Chicago too, especially where I was. How have you and Brian found Canada? Where is he working now?’ Benny and Maeve talked further as they drank from their cups of tea, refilling them now and then, talking over old memories, relaxing more with one another as time went by. Benny filled Maeve in on any news she might have missed. Some things she knew from her mother’s letters, but she liked gossiping with him just the same. Maeve told Benny that Brian had found work plentiful in Canada. Benny seemed particularly pleased to hear that, and to see that Maeve and Brian had a good life in Canada – better than they would have had if they had stayed in Ireland, he thought. Brian’s two jobs both paid well: he was working today at a local sawmill, where he was also night watchman at the weekends. Late in the morning Maeve excused herself, remembering she had to finish getting ready, and Benny asked if they had a sofa he could sleep on. ‘Would you not prefer a bed?’ asked Maeve. ‘Aye, if you have one.’ Benny slept into the afternoon, but he was awake and sitting at the table in time to greet Brian coming home from work. Brian came through a small yard at the back, where crumbling red brick breaks supported a preponderance of ivy. Using a gap between the grey flagstones he pulled off his work 37

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‘Brian! After all the travelling I did to get boots. He entered the kitchen and stared into the room for a moment, not quite believing who here!’ Joked Benny. ‘Well, I got into a bit of trouble and needed to get away from…’ was sitting at his table. ‘That’d be right,’ interrupted Brian, ‘did you ‘Benny’ he said at last, a little stiffly, ‘where take a fancy to the wrong woman?’ did you come from?’ ‘No, no husbands this time,’ Benny contin‘Funny,’ said Benny, rising to meet the friend who had departed him years ago, ‘that’s ued, a wry smile spreading across his face, ‘I exactly what Maeve said! I was working in Chi- just needed to get some space between me and Chicago. I knew where you and Maeve cago and thought I would call by for a visit.’ lived, sort of, so I thought this would be an ideal ‘Chicago to Ontario, that’s a long way for a chance to visit you in Canada.’ visit.’ Brian stopped walking and looked him in ‘And she said that too,’ added Benny. ‘I just the eye before he spoke. ‘Let's drop the bullshit wanted to catch up with some old friends.’ Benny. Maeve has told me all about you and Brian looked at his wife before he replied. An unspoken message passed between them. her. She told me years ago. And it's over and ‘Well, you’re very welcome,’ he said in a slightly done with. Water under the bridge. Did I walk in more animated voice. ‘Maeve, can you set an- on something tonight? I want the truth.’ ‘Of course not. Give me a bit of credit man. other place for dinner?’ Give Maeve a bit of credit.’ ‘Already done,’ she replied. ‘So what's the real story. I need to know. After they had eaten a dinner of ham, What happened in Chicago?’ They moved on to mashed potato and cabbage that reminded Benny of home, the trio talked further about the the thoroughfare that met with the bottom of a main street. The glow of gaslights illuminated last seven years. The awkwardness gradually the horse-drawn carriages trotting up and down went away. They drank tea until after the sun the cobbled street. Laughter poured out of bars had gone down, deep in conversation about and folk gathered on the pavements. Even at their memories of the Irish countryside, of the this late hour the pubs were still filled with men times when Benny ate at Brian or Maeve’s tain pillbox hats and upturned collars. ‘Did you ble more often than not. Benny looked at his watch and suggested that he and Brian go for a really have a job there?’ ‘Why else would I go?’ laughed Benny, ‘and stronger drink, perhaps in one of the saloons he had passed when finding their street. Maeve good money it was too. I fixed it through Paddy agreed with the plan, turning up the lamp light, Scullion, the man who works at the post ofthen retiring to a rocking chair with some sew- fice…’ ‘With the limp?’ said Brian. ing. ‘The very same,’ continued Benny. ‘He ‘Don’t you think you two should have some knew a man in Chicago who needed workers children by now? I know you got married young and all, but it’s almost been eight years.’ Benny and I wasn’t doing much, so I thought I might whispered this to Brian, ensuring the front door as well give it a go.’ was closed before he spoke. ‘Just fell into your lap, did it? That was ‘True, we’ve been in Canada for a while now lucky.’ and we’ve had no luck with that,’ admitted Brian. ‘I suppose it was. Anyway, it was the last ‘At first it was okay, it takes a while to get setday on the job, we all knew it was, and the boss tled. But lately, I’m not sure. Maybe I should said he would take the site for a few drinks.’ ask the priest about an adoption.’ ‘All right, now I see,’ interjected Brian, pull‘Well, there’s nothing to stop you if that’s ing the brass knob that opened the door into what you want to do,’ replied Benny, ‘I was only one of the many taverns on the avenue, ‘all asking, you know?’ these stories start with a few drinks.’ ‘I know, Benny, I know,’ answered Brian. ‘So ‘More than a few! He took us to a place what brought you to Ontario anyway? You can’t called "The Bucket of Blood". I wasn’t sure have come all this way just to see me and about the name, but if someone else is buying Maeve.’ I’m not gonn'a complain.’ Gold Dust

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a bit stuck. I decided I’d leave quietly and go back to my lodgings.’ ‘Sounds like that was a good idea,’ Brian agreed. ‘Wait until you hear what happened next! I was heading up the street, just after dawn, when I heard a voice behind me. Wasn’t the boss man after me! Hadn’t I forgot my coat!’ ‘There’s always something,’ laughed Brian. ‘The boss caught me up pretty fast, all smiles as he handed my coat back. Then I felt something strange, as if someone had punched through my side and to inside of me.’ Benny put down his beer glass and pulled up his shirt, revealing a bandage wrapped inexpertly around his belly several times. ‘Holy Jesus!’ said Brian. ‘Hadn’t the wee bastard gone and stabbed me! Maybe I should’ve stayed in the bar with the Russian sailors! He hadn’t paid me, so I guess he thought he would save himself some money. There was no one around, so I suppose if he’d stabbed me right that would’ve been it for me, but I was sober enough to give him a few swift kicks up the arse.’ ‘I suppose he ran off then?’ commented Brian. ‘Well, he tried, but he didn’t quite make it. He fell to the ground and smacked his head, then ran back towards the bar, staggering left and right. He was all over the place. I almost asked if he was all right.’ Benny paused. ‘Then didn’t he stagger himself right into the harbour! I don’t know if he was all right, I doubt it, but it would have been more trouble for me if I’d stayed.’ ‘So, it was only then you decided to visit your friends in Ontario,’ concluded Brian, ‘in case there was people looking for you? Well I think you can rest easy, not many It was just me and the boss in the end. And people travel up here from Chicago.’ then these Russian boys came over. Sailors. ‘Well that’s what I was thinking,’ said Benny. The place was down by the docks, you know.’ Brian's whole demeanour relaxed. ‘I mis‘Aye, you said.’ judged you, Benny, and so did Maeve. Our ‘I had a look around. I was starting to get a home is your home now. For as long as you bit nervous. You know me, even after I’ve had a want to stay.’ few I can always handle myself, keep my wits. But I got worried when there was hardly anyone GOLD DUST else in the bar, so if I did get into trouble I’d be

‘You should maybe reconsider that rule,’ suggested Brian, indicating that he would go to the bar and get the drinks for them both, beers and whisky chasers. Benny had a look around the bar. Quite lively for a Monday night, he thought. The seat he chose in the narrow aisle was close to the bar, a table for two that hugged the right-hand wall. The whiskey was in shot glasses, which both men drained in one, then whistled through the aftertaste. ‘Not very smooth,’ wheezed Brian. ‘So, anyway, we went into the bar, a place down by the docks,’ continued Benny. ‘You could tell that it had been a real fancy place once. Nice velvet seats, but they hadn’t been cleaned in a while. Hunting trophies, the heads of stags and bears mounted on the walls, but they weren’t clean either. The sawdust was fresh though, but even as we went into the place it felt strange, there was an edge to the atmosphere; but I soon got used to it.’ Benny stopped his telling of the story to take a drink from his beer, pulling a rolled-up cigarette from his inside pocket. ‘So how long did you stay there?’ said Brian. ‘I’m not too sure,’ confessed Benny, lighting his cigarette, ‘must’ve been a good few hours.

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T OR SH RY STO

Baby’s in Black by Lynn Braybrooke

She was wearing yellow the first time I saw her, a nodded and gave her a casual wave. Cool. But lovely buttery soft colour that made her short inside I fell apart wondering what I would do after blonde hair shine somehow as if there was an au- my neighbours returned and took Bertie back. ra of light around her. It was summertime and she Then one evening she spoke. Bertie had given her wore the standard white jeans, sandals and a soft his most doleful pleading look and she giggled. loose cotton sweater that was a bit too big but “What’s the matter with you then?” she said. somehow managed to look perfect. It was Sunday ”He looks so sorry for himself tonight. Has he been and she strolled through the park in no particular naughty?” hurry. She carried no bag either, a rare thing in a “No” I said, ”It’s the breed, they all look tragic. woman, and I wondered where she was heading, He’s called Bertie by the way, and I’m Chris.” I so carefree and uncluttered. silently patted myself on the back for making the I had to exercise my neighbour’s dog while introduction sound so casual. they were away on holiday, I’d promised and in “Susannah.” She held out her hand and we truth I had begun to enjoy the time I spent in that formally shook hands. She bent and stroked Berpark. There was one more week to go before they tie and said, “Hello Bertie ahh….well I must dash, returned and I was seriously considering getting a I’ll be late. Cheer up, eh?” I could see I hadn’t made much impact. She dog myself. I found I loved the company of the was blissfully unaware of my existence. I knew little Bassett Hound who was already house trained and so undemanding and easy to love. In Bertie had a bigger claim on her affections than I, and I think I saw in that moment that she was a my heart I knew a puppy would be hard to deal with and I had to go to work anyway. It was just a woman in love. She smiled at everything in life pipe dream, and I figured that if I asked them nice- because she was happy and in love. Bertie and I were just soaking up some of the rosy glow reflectly I could maybe still borrow Bertie occasionally. She had smiled at Bertie as she passed, then ed in that outlook. She probably smiled at everybody in the park, in the street on busses – she at me, which is something that happens a lot loved life back then. when you are in the company of a dog. People As I walked home I worked it out, that she had acknowledge you but only because they are charmed by the dog. In the park I was already on met someone very recently and that’s why she’d only just started walking in this direction. So nodding terms with Alsatian lady, Pit-bull youth, Golden Retriever man, and a Bichon-Frise geriat- some lucky fellow and she were in the first stage of their passion for each other, and I might as well ric tyrant who had a very commanding voice for be a brick wall. I’d been in love once and I knew an old woman. I’m twenty-six next birthday and I would think that even if the most beautiful woman in the world my lovely sunny girl is about the same age as me, had made a pass at me I would not have noticed because although she looks much younger in the because I only had eyes for Julie Welsh. We were face and her tiny figure is superb, there is a grace both fourteen at the time. This, I decided, was a waiting game. There about her that the really young ones do not have. It’s a kind of confidence and you know just by look- was every chance the whole thing would fizzle out eventually, Julie Welsh and I hadn’t lasted all that ing at her that she will be able to laugh naturally and with ease, none of that ghastly false laughter long. I pondered this and felt that I had been right that grates on the nerves. I fell in love with her as not to try too hard. My instincts were good, it was my timing that was rubbish. He just might turn out soon as she smiled at me. She had that sort of to be the love of her life. impact. I was absolutely smitten. Perish that thought! I was desperate to know why she crossed the park that Sunday and why I had not seen her before whilst on my dog walking duties, but wonder So her name was Susannah, and whatever the of wonders, she started to do the same walk eve- outcome I wanted to know what he was like, my rival. All the next day at work I tried to concentrate ry evening. As I was walking the dog after work she would come into the park from the north gate on the price of stock and which way the market and leave at the west gate, she sort of cut the cor- was heading but I knew I couldn’t be a dealer that ner where I hovered with Bertie who sniffed at eve- day, I’d make wrong judgments and so I kept a ry blade of grass. After her unforgettable Sunday low profile. It couldn’t go on of course, I’d have to sort my head out and pay attention, and I thought smile she began to nod and say hello and I was that if I knew what he was like maybe it would lifted by this small gesture but I just smiled and

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help, so I decided to follow her that evening. I had nothing to loose. I tried to remember what was located beyond the West gate of the park, because until dog duties took over my life I hadn’t ventured into the park, let alone establish what was on the other side. Reconnaissance had never been a strong point. I had moved into my shiny new apartment almost two years ago and my only exercise had been a stroll to the nearest pub and back. During that time I’d got to know a few local people, a game of darts here and there, a chat about general stuff, but one couple came in every evening after walking their Basset Hound and everybody knew them. The dog had his own water dish behind the bar and loved a packet of smoky bacon crisps, which I among others supplied for him on a regular basis. It got to be that even if I had a date

reports on how we were managing. I took a lot of stick along the lines of Bertie being my only date and how having a dog could ruin your love life. They were right of course, no dates for me while I had the responsibility of Bertie, only a walk in the park, night and morning. I decided I would take a laid back and very casual stroll in the direction of the West Gate and blame it on the dog. Susannah wasn’t going to chat to me along that route, I was pretty sure of that. I only had to look as if I was going nowhere in particular and stay at a distance. It worked, I waved a ‘hi’ to her and she waved back but kept on going so I just sauntered along behind with Bertie tugging gently at the lead. Cool. Once outside the park gates Susannah ran to a man who literally swept her off her feet and hugged her as if she held everything in life that

or something else on, I’d still call in to The Black Horse for a quick half pint before going anywhere else. I’d say hi to Bertie the dog and Rob and Gill his owners, then call a cab and take off. It turned out they lived in one of the few remaining old houses in the street, right opposite my apartment block. And when one evening they were agonizing over leaving Bertie in kennels while they went away, I in my cups offered to look after him.

mattered to him. It was only when he put her down that I realized he was in uniform. He was handsome and huge and probably an all-time fighting machine. He looked like he’d just stepped off the set of an action movie. I was doomed. I turned back towards the park gates and went home defeated. That was the last time she came into the park so I guessed he’d probably been posted overseas. I spent my last three days of dog duty in a very depressed state, with no sight of her at all. I handI have to say I had moments of regret about that in the beginning and wondered how in the world it ed Bertie back to Rob and Gill and told myself life would work out, but we did OK, Bertie and me. All would return to me, I just had to wait it out. I kept seeing her in my mind. I went over her the regular drinkers in the Black Horse looked out every gesture, the spring in her step, the movefor us after our evening walk, expecting progress

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ment of her hair the sound of her voice. She’d only spoken a couple of times but I could hear the quality of that voice in my head, a soft velvety sound that drew you to her every word, but then I was in love. Perhaps she didn’t sound like that to anybody else, and I reflected without understanding what it is that makes a woman not just a woman but THE woman. I cursed my luck, for years I had wondered if you only fall in love once in your life, because I hadn’t felt too intense about any of the women I’d dated since good old Julie Walsh. But I liked dating and basically I liked the company of women. Until now. I missed Bertie too, and began to think that I must have dreamed the whole thing, it was like a Disney movie anyway, me and the beautiful girl and the dog all drifting towards the sunset, I needed to get a grip. I went for a pint and found I was quite content to see Bertie with Rob and Gill. All three greeted me like I was family. Everything back to normal. Except that it wasn’t. I started dating girls again, lots of girls. I went on a dating marathon, and I don’t really know why I bothered. There were moments during these hot dates that I truly wished myself back in my own apartment with a good book and a glass of wine. I went through the motions of trying to be good company but women are perceptive and I think they mostly knew my heart wasn’t in it. I found I only wanted to be with Susannah and I waited patiently for the time to come when I could forget her and go back to being comfortable with women again. It’s not as if we had been in a relationship, I kept telling myself, I only saw her in the park for God's sake! Eventually the memory of her dimmed and I thought of her less and less. I got on with my life went on holiday with a couple of mates, then off to Boston for the firm, but I knew somehow that life would never be the same again and I didn’t meet another girl who got under my skin like Susannah. I found I only wanted the company of the women I knew in a platonic way, I just couldn’t do romance. I read an article about exercise being good for the mind and wondered if it was true, something about endorphins and stimulus, all a bit over my head really but I wondered if I might try it and get a better attitude. I started jogging in the park instead of going in the pub on my way home from work. I went home and changed into sweats and had a run first, then went into the pub for a swift half. I found I still liked the company of the pub folk even if it was only for a while. I only had the one drink, gave Bertie a hug and went home to shower. I don’t know if it was the jogging that made me feel a bit better or if given enough time I

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would have felt better anyway but, I did eventually feel an improvement. And then I saw her again. She was sitting on a bench in the park and she was all in black. She was quietly weeping. Tears streamed down her lovely face and I somehow knew he was dead. I secretly cursed and walked over to her. “Hello.” I said.” Can I help?” She shook her head without saying a word. Then she looked up at me and she was so full of misery and hurt I almost cried with her. To my everlasting shame, a part of me thought: now he’s gone maybe I have a chance. As I sat next to her, all sweaty and out of breath and wishing I had seen her in more civilized circumstances, she didn’t even look at me, she was staring across the park at nothing in particular her face all wet. Ever so gently I picked up her hand and held it in both of mine. “He’s dead isn’t he?” I asked. She nodded. “I saw you,” I blundered on, ”You looked kind of special together.” She nodded again and a quiet sob escaped her. I think she must have been there crying alone for a long time, she was beginning to tire I could tell. Clearly she didn’t want to go home and I wondered if like me she lived alone. I said, You’re looking a bit like Bertie, all sad and that. Come with me and I’ll make you some excellent coffee, then I’ll get you home. OK?” She almost smiled and before she could object I stood up and pulled her to her feet and made her walk with me. I wanted to give her a hug and take the pain away but I didn’t touch her. I let go of her hand and let her walk free. If she bolts away, I thought, she must have the choice to do that. But she stayed; and side by side we crossed the park without speaking, and we went to my apartment. One day, I thought, she’ll tell me all about it, and I’ll try not to mind and be glad I can be her friend. One day she might see me differently, but she’ll never love me like she loved him. They’d had no time to get on each other’s nerves, not enough sharing to irritate. He might have come back brutalized and changed. Given enough time together they may have drifted apart naturally, but now she would never know and neither would I. Right at this moment she needed a friend and I wondered if that would ever be enough for either of us.

GOLD DUST


Not a Man: Slavko Mali’s stories with pictures by Slavko Mali and Goran Ćeličanin Feature by David Gardiner

FE AT UR

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In the words of Adele Gerachty, “For seven years, the covers and pages of Gold Dust Magazine have been privileged to display the iconic art of Slavko Mali. Mali's art runs the gamut from mystical to horrific. There are no grey areas or half measures with this artist. The beauty of Mali's work is in its serious mystique. His images are a convoluted crosshatch of madness and divine inspiration.” Now Not a Man, a collection of his short stories with illustrations by the author, has been published in his native Serbia. Below, Mali’s editor and publisher Damjan Pejovic holds aloft a copy of the book at a stand in the Belgrade International Book Fair.

Not a Man and its author Reviewing Mali’s work as a whole Omma Velada said that “This is flash fiction at its absolute best. So much meaning packed into so few words. The sensuous magical realism is blurred with straight out surrealism.” My own comments on Mali’s work, which has been translated and used as a foreword begin: “As co-editor of Gold Dust Magazine I first discovered Slavko Mali about a decade ago and found him the most original artist and illustrator I had ever personally come across. His work brought to our little magazine a totally unique graphic identity that combined surrealism with a glance into something resembling Unfortunately from the point of view of the the collective unconscious of Karl Jung.” On the pages that follow we have presentEnglish speaking world the book is in the Sered a parade of samples of the illustrations bian language, but Mali and his publisher are from Not a Man with brief translated passages keen to undertake an English translation and from the stories for which they were created. we eagerly await it here at Gold Dust. Most of the stories have never appeared in In the meantime we thought we would let Gold Dust but hopefully will in the future. you see some of the new illustrations to the We congratulate Slavko Mali and Goran stories, some of which have been published by Ćeličanin on their unique talents! us over the years. 43

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Frontispiece

Goran Ćeličanin

... In the evening, we hunted for scrolls in the backyard of our childhood and got beaten up by older boys. We wanted to take stars out of the sky, but no one knew how. Then someone suggested we climb the truth. Wearing the stars on my hands, I walked into the house. Our home was a squishy light gray. There was night in the windows and giants were walking along the walls ...

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Apocalypse. How sentimental that sounds. Reminds me of my childhood, youth and late middle age. Ever since I knew about myself, I've been promised some apocalypse. But except for my dad's "delirium tremens", I haven't experienced it. Then the old man knocked down Kevin's green sideboard from Banat in an episode of alcoholic madness and smashed a jar of sweet quince from it. I never forgave him ...


Goran Ćeličanin

My father who smelled of brandy took me to the circus, which was boring. Artists did not fall from the trapeze, the trained horse did not scream from the heat and senseless chasing in a circle, the lion did not eat its trainer and the elephant did not crush its beautiful owner on whose belly he placed his huge foot.

It happened once that a flying rhino landed on my palm. He was weird. He had no horn on his nose, but he wasn’t stupid. When I took my wedding ring between my forefinger and thumb, he understood immediately. He jumped through it and on to the milling wheel of a watermill, which milled him. I got a sack of green flour, which I gave to my son, Vegan.

I pressed the doorknob and went in. On a plush yellow armchair, completely naked, sat a woman with a long beard who said: "I am for sale." By her side in a leather armchair with leather boots and a leather case sat a gaunt, wicked dwarf who said: "It's for sale."

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The Contributors

Poetry Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He’s had over two hundred fifty stories and poems published so far, and five books. Ed works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of four review editors. https://twitter.com/bottomstripper https://www.facebook.com/EdAhern73/?ref=bookmarks Dianne (Di) Bates is a full-time freelance writer. She is the author of 130+ books, mostly for young people and is a recipient of ‘The Lady Cutler Award’ for distinguished services to children’s Literature. She has had several poems published, for adults and for children. Robert Beveridge; November 2018 marked Robert Beveridge's thirtieth anniversary as a publishing poet. When not writing, he makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) in Akron, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Pink Litter, Triadæ, and Welter, among others. Vern Fein is a retired teacher who has published nearly one hundred poems and short pieces on a variety of sites, a few being: *82 Review, The Literary Nest, Bindweed Magazine, Gyroscope Review, Courtship of Winds, Ibis Head Review, Spindrift, Former People, 500 Miles, and The Write Launch, and has non-fiction pieces in Quail Bell, The Write Place at the Write Time, and Adelaide, plus a short story in the the online magazine Duende from Goddard College in Vermont.

Mark J. Mitchell was born in Chicago and grew up in southern California. His latest poetry collection, Starting from Tu Fu will be published this fall by Encircle Publications. He studied writing, modern and Medieval literature at UC Santa Cruz under George Hitchcock, Raymond Carver and Robert Durling. He is very fond of baseball, Miles Davis, Kafka and Dante. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, the activist and documentarian, Joan Juster where he makes his meager living pointing out pretty things. Joan McNerney Joan McNerney has had poetry included in numerous literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze, Blueline, and Halcyon Days. Three Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Review Journals, and numerous Kind of A Hurricane Press Publications have accepted her work. Her latest title is Having Lunch with the Sky and she has four Best of the Net nominations. Gerry Sarnat’s ‘MD’s’ won the Poetry in Arts First Place Award/Dorfman Prizes; has been nominated for Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards; authored HOMELESS CHRONICLES (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014) and Melting The Ice King (2016). He’s widely published including recently by academic-related journals Stanford, Oberlin, Wesleyan, Johns Hopkins, Harvard, American Jewish University, Brown, Columbia, Sichuan, Canberra, University of Chicago as well as New Ulster, Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, American Journal Of Poetry, Poetry Quarterly, New Delta Review, Brooklyn Review, LA Review of Books, San Francisco Magazine, New York Times. Mount Analogue selected KADDISH for distribution nationwide Inauguration Day. Poetry was chosen for a 50th Harvard reunion Dylan symposium.

Robert Fern while well published in his academic field, has made his first attempt to publish one of his short stories, in his atmospheric horror tale entitled 'The lighthouse at the Cat’s Spine'. in Between These Shores Annual Issue 3, Dec. 2019. Robert has written for many Samuel Swauger is an author and poet from Baltimore, years, completing a novel and recently focusing on the Maryland. His website is samuelswauger.com, and his short fiction that he loves. Twitter is @samuelswauge Clare Harris is a recent college graduate living in Virginia. She loves her dog, traveling, and the general beauty of the world around her though she seldom writes about any of those happy topics. Phil Huffy practiced law long enough. Trained to think on his feet, he continues that custom, them writes things down at his kitchen table. Placements of his work have appeared in The Lyric, Chantwood, Eunoia, Sarasvati, Gravel and several haiku journals. Stephen Kingsnorth, 67, is retired from ministry in the Methodist Church, living in north Wales. (He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease five years ago, and has been writing poetry for some 9 months).

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Vivian Wagner lives in New Concord, Ohio, where she’s an associate professor of English at Muskingum University. Her work has appeared in Slice Magazine, Muse/A Journal, Forage Poetry Journal, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Gone Lawn, The Atlantic, Narratively, The Ilanot Review, Silk Road Review, Zone 3, Bending Genres, and other publications. She's the author of a memoir, Fiddle: One Woman, Four Strings, and 8,000 Miles of Music (Citadel-Kensington); a full-length poetry collection, Raising (Clare Songbirds Publishing House); and three poetry chapbooks: The Village (Aldrich PressKelsay Books), Making (Origami Poems Project), and Curiosities (Unsolicited Press).


Prose Al Donaldson was born in 1952 in South Shields where Fred Russell is the pen name of Fred Skolnik who has also published two other novels (Rafi's World and The he went to a Secondary Modern School. At sixteen he Links in the Chain) as well as a collection called Aerial moved to London to join the Board of Trade and beViews: Three Sci-Fi Satires under his real name. He has come a clerk in the Civil Aviation Authority. After a sepublished three additional novels as Frank Russell, as ries of other Civil Service posts he became a wine well as about 100 stories and essays. A collection of his merchant, a Prisoner Custody Officer, a Prison Officer and finally trained as a qualified Residential Surveyor at short stories entitled Americans & Other Stories was published by Fomite Press in 2017. He is also the ediReading University. Now retired and living in Brighton tor-in-chief of the 22-volume 2nd edition of the Encyclohe can indulge his love for talking, drinking, walking, paedia Judaica and winner of the 2007 Dartmouth eating out, visiting the theatre, building things in wood, Medal. Born in New York City in 1945 he now lives in and of course writing. He has never attended a CreaIsrael. tive Writing course but chose instead to follow the advise to 'live life and read lots' if he wanted to write. James Bates lives in a small town twenty miles west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His stories have appeared in Wendy Pettifer has been writing poems and stories CafeLit, The Writers' Cafe Magazine, A Million Ways, since she was a young teenager but until now has Cabinet of Heed, Paragraph Planet, Mused - The Belnever had the time to edit or promote them, so has laOnline Literary Review, Ariel Chart and Potato Soup never been published. She worked as a Legal Aid Journal. You can also check out his blog to see more: Lawyer both in the UK and abroad so has a lot of www.theviewfromlonglake.wordpress.com material to draw from, much of it with regard to inequality between the global South and North. She Jonathan Bridge was born in Hampshire in 1940. For sees writing is a therapeutic way of dealing with life’s several years he worked, first in the NHS, and then as a tragedies, and most of her work is both personal and journalist in the south-west of England and in London, political. She participates in Speak Easies and other where he now lives. He's addicted to walking, cycling, reading events regularly and is active on Twitter and in early music and history books of any age and any the process of developing her website length! www.wendypettifer.co.uk Debora Singer started writing regularly in her spare time 15 years ago. Her writing includes short stories, poetry and plays and she has had work published in writers’ group anthologies. She is particularly interested in writing issue-based stories and drama, often following a human rights theme to raise awareness. She has written and produced a number of short films for this purpose which are available online. Jean Duggleby is a retired primary teacher who eventually specialised in teaching deaf children, and started writing short stories only about three years ago after becoming inspired at a Creative Writing course which she attended originally in order to make the tea (!). She lives with her partner in East London and has a married daughter and baby granddaughter in New Zealand. She has lived in east or north London all of her life except for three years in Hong Kong as a young woman. She likes reading, walking, gardening, travel and cinema, and teaches Circle Dancing. Damjan Pejović is the founder of the literary nonprofit organization “Dimitrije Tirol” for young Serbian and Romanian writers . Main editor for the quarterly literary magazine Zeleni konj (Green Horse). Founder of the Zemoon Artistic Centre in Belgrade where he organises monthly literary evenings. He has published many poems and short stories in Romania and Serbia. He is also a passionate collector of sculpture and was formerly a Director of a scrap metal business.

Bryan Costales wrote the very successful "sendmail" (bat book) for O'Reilly Media. His most recent credits are short stories published in The Banyon Review, Romance Magazine, and the Riptide Journal. Bryan lives in Eugene, Oregon where he dabbles in photography. Simon Kewin is the author of over 100 published short and flash stories. His works have appeared in Analog, Nature, Daily Science Fiction, Abyss, Apex and many more. He is also the author of a growing number of novels. He lives deep in the English countryside. Find him at simonkewin.co.uk. Lorin Lee Cary once taught Social History at University of Toledo and wrote historical pieces. He also served as a Fulbright Senior Scholar at University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Now he creates fictional cause and effect relationships. The Custer Conspiracy, a humorous historical novel set in the present, is one result, the novella California Dreaming, a meta fiction venture, another. Short stories have appeared in Torrid Literature, Cigale Literary Magazine, decomP magazinE, Lit.cat and Short Story, as well in a couple of now defunct journals. (I did not cause their demise.) He is also a prize-winning photographer. Ciaran J. McLarnon is an author from Northern Ireland. He lives in the town of Ballymena, close to the northeast coast. He has written on many subjects, though his current interests are more focused on Nature and History. Ciaran has a BSc in Marine Biology and an MSc in Ecology.

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Lynn Braybrooke was born and educated in Leyton, East London. As far back as she can remember she has loved stories. She is a keen member of the Harrow Green Community Library creative writing group which has provided a great stimulus for writing stories instead of just reading them, and as well as pieces in Buzzwords, the chapbook published every two years by the group, she has had stories published in Gold Dust and has now published her debut novel After the Loving (reviewed in this edition) through Amazon. All the jobs she has done, from machining garments to shipping cargo, have been a way of earning money while the children grew up and the mortgage got paid. Along the way she went back to school for O and A level English because what she really wanted to do was write. She loves to cook and swim but has a strong creative streak that propels her to make things. But the story is her passion. One way or another, she must always be involved in creating a story.

Books and Founder & Publishing Editor of 'Between These Shores Literary & Arts Annual'. Adele's work has been published in numerous anthologies, magazines and journals, and performed on radio in both her countries. David Gardiner – ageing hippy, former teacher, now retired, living in London with partner Jean. As well as stories in magazines, anthologies and newspapers he has four longer published works, SIRAT (a science fiction novel), The Rainbow Man and Other Stories (short story collection), The Other End of the Rainbow (short story collection) and Engineering Paradise (novel). Part of Engineering Paradise has been turned into a stage musical which is still awaiting a premiere: forestradio.co.uk/Showcase.html. Interests include science, philosophy, psychology, scuba diving, travel, wildlife, cooking, IT, alternative lifestyles and communal living. Large, rambling homepage at davidgardiner.net.

Gold Dust Team

Slavko Mali – For seven years the covers and pages of Gold Dust Magazine have been privileged to display the iconic art of Slavko Mali. Mali's art runs the gamut from Omma Velada read languages at London University, mystical to horrific. There are no grey areas or half followed by an MA in translation at Westminster Univer- measures with this artist. His images are a convoluted sity. Her short stories and poems have been published cross-hatch of madness and divine inspiration. Even the in numerous literary journals and anthologies. In 2004 most light-hearted of his illustrations harbour a dark nushe founded Gold Dust magazine. She is a member of ance, an underlying flip-side of monsters in wait. Magthe writing group Storyshed and her first novel, The netic, evocative and disturbing, his alternative cartoons Mackerby Scandal (UKA Press, 2004), received critical and captivating illustrations are nothing if not irresistible acclaim. She has also published a short-story anthology, and thoroughly unforgettable. He has now published his The Republic of Joy (Lulu Press, 2006). first art and short story collection Not a Man, with illustrations from Slavko Mali and Goran Ćeličanin which is Adele C Geraghty is a citizen of both the US and the reviewed in this issue. UK. She is the recipient of the 'US National Women's History Award for Poetry and Essay' and author of Nansy Grill is Features Editor for Gold Dust. As a free'Skywriting in the Minor Key', a poetry collection. Adele lancer, she writes short stories, book reviews, and interis also an illustrator and graphic designer and member views. Nansy is a traveler, touring nearly half of the US of both the New York ensemble 'The Arts Soire' and the states and five foreign countries. She lives in Tennessee, USA with her two Pomeranians, Buddy and Jazzi. writing site UKAuthors.com. Adele is Publisher of BTS

HELP US FILL UP THIS SPACE Join the team producing We would love to hear from anyone with a bit of free time and an interest in magazines and small press publishing. We can use help in all areas, from promotion and marketing to writing and DTP. Talk to us. Email: sirat@davidgardiner.net or bramwith22@aol.com

Gold Dust

issue 36

winter 2019

48


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Gold Dust

issue 36 winter 2019


Gold Dust

issue 36

winter 2019

50

Profile for Gold Dust magazine

Gold Dust Issue 36 - winter 2019  

Issue 36 of Gold Dust Magazine (full colour inside pages) containing 9 short stories, 2 pieces of flash fiction, 4 feature articles and 20 p...

Gold Dust Issue 36 - winter 2019  

Issue 36 of Gold Dust Magazine (full colour inside pages) containing 9 short stories, 2 pieces of flash fiction, 4 feature articles and 20 p...

Profile for golddust
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