short short story, trails of thought

Burger K___

Always had a fondness for Burger K___.  Always thought it a cut above the competition: always slyly setting up so close by the heavily and expensively researched M_________, and whilst selling itself as a dash more upmarket, still cutting corners on all that costly footfall study.

But lately I have fallen in love with a new kid on the block.  It’s a chain I bumped into whilst on my travels: it’s called Burger Cool.  It’s everything Burger K___ ain’t, nor ever will be.  Young, fresh faced, astonishingly intelligent in its marketing strategy.  Great food, comfortable decor, a pleasure on the eye in every goddamn respect.  Clean, generous, a peer-to-peer air in the tad the 21st century demands of all of us – but never so laid back as to lose a battle necessary for survival.

I never go to Burger K___ these days.  It’s so … well … idiotically old skool.

Far prefer the style and grace of Burger Cool, don’t you? And the milkshakes … my goodness, how they spurt out their nozzles!

reviews, short short story

Kane [and Welles]

I am sitting in The Estuary Kitchen and Grill at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, writing this brief review, whilst waiting to fly to Belfast.  It’s my first visit to the city in thirteen long years.  I hope I shall revisit more often now.

I ordered a large americano with hot milk on the side, as well as a pain au raisin.  The lady who served me was efficient and helpful.  The americano was hot and strong as I like it.

I sat down at a table and took some photos of my surroundings.  I saw a young man talking to an older man.  They were working and talking. They had a good relationship.  I felt relaxed by the food and the music and the gentle exchanges I could overhear.

A few minutes on, they went their separate ways.  The younger man came up to me and I gave him my tray.  I thanked him.  Then he started talking to me.  His nameplate said he was called Kane.  I can’t forget the name.  My favourite film of all time, by my absolute favourite genius of all time.  Kane and Welles could be a comedy troupe.  Or maybe a department store.  Or perhaps a law firm.

But not here.

Kane made my day.  He talked to me about this and that, and made the modest café shine.  A word here and a word there is all it takes.  Thank you Kane, and thank you to your employers for encouraging you to do what you did.

Hope to see you again, soon.

Take care.

short short story

Evil you! You make me a nudger too …

She didn’t like being told what to do.  She hated it, in fact.  And he’d known her all her life: from face-to-face; from her blogging outpourings over a decade or more; more recently, via social networks and other stuff she blithely went and put out there.

So this was why, when he got her to do things, he got her to do other things she was happy with, which went and meant she actually ended up doing the things she would never have done if he’d asked her straight off.

And the latest wizard wheeze really was bewitching: he managed to get her into a position where with her very own offspring she was gladly nudging them into decisions and behaviours and attitudes and results wherein she absolutely, totally, refused to take the ownership she’d always been so demonstrably in favour of.  She had sworn by such ownership, in fact; and this evil universe was laughing its socks off every time it managed to convince her to do something she’d claimed she’d never do: something, even, she had balled out family and friends for having committed foully against her very being.

She was a fraud, that was clear – and this was exactly what the universe was aiming to demonstrate.

And it made her feel sad to be made a laughing-stock.  And she even knew, for sure it was, that even her feeling a laughing-stock was something they’d nudged her into feeling.

Nothing she did was unknown by them.

Nothing at all.  Not even who she’d fuck next.

What a horrible universe, you are!” she said.  “What a perfectly horrible universe!”


Her former experience of mental ill-health became now as clear as ever.  Her reaction of paranoia to an environment around her hadn’t been a result of an illness itself, but far more a consequence of detecting in some strange way a connecting of actions which was on full view for everyone to detect – or not (and that was not the problem …).  Maybe she had fallen ill if one’s definition of illness is circumscribed by the idea of dysfunctionality – but if it was defined by one’s relationship to reality instead, and that reality was truly as perceived, then this paranoia she had manifested was more an accurate adaptation than a deformation.

And this is why inside she wept tears of rage.

And this is why inside she occupied a cage.

And this is why her face-to-face outside never managed to properly connect with all that cage she had inside, and all that rage she now barely stomached.


short short story

Spe[aking] (on the purpose of writing)

By speaking he realised he could live, after all, without the physical affection he still would have clearly flourished round; even so, despite all, what hurt him the most was to talk about futures and find himself with people who found it so hard to do anything but look to the past that had haunted the ghosts of their ghosts.

It hurt him to think he could have another life, and maybe that life would not be just different but actually, objectively, better than now: but he had to limit himself to living in the real world where dreams cannot always fly as we’d like, and perhaps it was as well that this be the case: he had, in any case, hurt as much as he had been hurt, and the balance and credit of life could not be any other than this might indicate.

And speaking ameliorated in a way that ached slightly, for all his needs and the things he valued most disappeared in an understanding that people were worth more than the wants he had placed to that date at the centre of his life.  And if he could help others to realise themselves, in a sense he’d be realising himself.

And this was clear, and this was right.  And finally he realised, absolutely too, that he wasn’t half the man he had ever striven to be.

And this was clear, and this was wrong.  He still wished he could do far more than he had done.  But this wanting and then the doing traversed such an abyss that he felt to himself there was little he could do if it meant he was alone: without the support of someone, he really knew not where to turn.

And if his writing righted no wrongs at all, what was the purpose of writing anything?

short short story

The voice-male (NOT a choir)

The number may have been write or rong – he was unclear.  What’s absolutely certain is whoever the number did belong to, it didn’t have a voicemail.

And so the mad pursuit finally ended as it always would: with an appropriately damp whimper, not a joyous bang of … whatever bangs should reasonably consist of.

As it had always been likely to end, he now felt.

No fences to mend; no love to chew over; no neighbourly thoughts on the past.

And it was all for the best, in the end he considered.  For whilst the beautiful photo he’d stumbled across today of the beautiful woman he’d stumbled across over a decade ago had captured a beauty he assumed was still out there, his own sorry reality would attract absolutely no one.

His beauty had once figured so clearly.

Now it was time to say goodbye to the illusion of love, that was true.  Amongst the photos were photos of him.  And truly he was a man of some merit.  That was then.  This was now.

In love he was no more: he would proceed, it was clear, to die on his feet, as he clambered across the cadavers of his hopes and years.

short short story

Independence day

The universe spoke.  It was time to ignore the attractions of the past and look to a future, which somewhere might exist.

Memories were just memories: it was so clear by now.  The only real people he could rely on today, the only people who understood his place, the only people who might wish to help out … were the people he all was – and no one else.

short short story

The e-male

“Fuck,” he said.

He’d spent half an hour composing five lines of email.

Then the email address failed permanently.

“I can’t do this shit,” he said to himself.  “It’s not the correct thing to do.”

And so it was that his good angel spoke up.

“Maybe it is.  Maybe the wrong way was to have done nothing all these years.  You’ve lost a lot of your life in this way.  Maybe she did as well.  There’s only one way to find out if it’s so.  You have to call her some time.  You have to call her soon.”