I Can Explain

From a series of short form fictions taking inspiration from collage

“I’m not accustomed to being referred to as ‘Love’, thank you very much.” Samuel Shepherd, sheep-herder ancestral, turned away from the headstrong young man. “And, despite your good luck with herding the flock this afternoon, I’m sorry Henning, but I do not see the future of sheep farming being assisted by rotary wind aircraft.”

Frustration simmered inside the rookie pilot’s guts, but he knew if there was any chance to win the old man over, gentle diplomacy was key.
“Okay, but please – at least let me try to explain. What say we go back to the farmhouse, have a discussion and if after ten minutes of chatter there’s no change of heart, I promise not to raise the subject again.”

Samuel’s whistle contained a precise rise and fall in pitch. Laid prone on a patch of lush grass, his dog cocked her head anticipating a new instruction from the farmer.
“Cybill, time for your teatime. Good-girl!”
A second whistle and she tore-off ahead of the two men, following the muddy path leading back to Ovis Farm.

“You need to understand that life is different here in the countryside. The people are different. What might work in the city-“
“Oh, your daughter has told me so, many times Mr Shepherd.” Henning shook his head, feeling the weight of his task begin to sink in.
Watched over by a pairing of red kites mapping circles above the field, the farmer came to a stop and proceeded to button-up his coat.
“A slower rhythm, patience, time taken, these characteristics don’t mean we’re backward. Do you understand what I am saying?”
“Of course I do, but if work can be accomplished more quickly, more efficiently – utilising technology, what have you got to lose?”
“Look around you. You can’t see I have anything to lose?”

The farm cottage came into view, pale wisps of smoke drifting from the chimney stack. Henning felt a sudden desire to be inside, for a strong coffee and for a piece of the shortbread Mrs Shepherd had been preparing earlier, before they’d left.
“The temperature has really dropped, hasn’t it?” He said, hunching his shoulders together and thrusting his hands deep into his trouser pockets. Up ahead, he could make out the form of the farmer’s wife, framed by the kitchen window. “How long have you and Mrs Shepherd been married?”
“Dolly and me? Thirty-seven years next spring. Darling buds of May we were – and still are to this very day. How long have you and Mary known each other for?”
“Um, well let’s think. It must be reaching something like… six months now?” Looking skyward into the grey, Henning wondered if it might rain again. He pulled out his phone, tapping in the digits for his date of birth to unlock the screen. “We worked for the same PR company, you might know that?” No signal. A weather report would have to wait.
“No, I did not.”
“Right, okay, well, same company, different offices. I was based on the South Bank, Mary – West Hampstead. We first met at a launch event for an environmental group about to announce a new manifesto – or something. Mary had been involved, although to be honest, I’d just gone along for the champagne.”
“I see.” said Samuel Shepherd, sheep-herder ancestral, “I see.”

Some Kind Of Sick Joke

The third instalment from a series of short form fiction; inspiration taken from collage by pedrov_dog

That was some weird experience. One minute I’m at Susie’s party, dancing – with Susie and Beth under the disco ball and the next, said disco ball – without warning, falls from the ceiling, lands on my head, knocking me out cold.

Then, I’m waking up in this rainbow world and there are two guys looking exactly the same as each other. Twins? No, you might think so, they were dressed in identical naval outfits and they both had a cut in the same place on the face. They were dead ringers! There’s no doubt about that.

Well, I know how this all turns out, so I’ll quickly explain and tell you – they were duplicates.

This is what they told me, they said a character appeared shortly after their arrival, calling himself ‘The Guide’. He tells them, that when you’re knocked out – when you lose consciousness, you transport to a timeless world of rainbows. Timeless being the key word here.

What happened with these two? Well, it’s complicated to explain, not least because they have come from a different time period to me – and I mean different by decades. These two, they were serving on a battle cruiser in the North Sea during the Second World War. Except – you see, they were one person… I said it was complicated!

Okay, so according to what the guide dude told them, this is the big picture surrounding what happened to them. In a surprise attack a British submarine torpedoed Wolfgang’s ship with two direct hits, virtually splitting the vessel in two. In the immediate aftermath, the main mast holding the radar equipment collapsed and Wolfgang took a blow to the head.

In a case of double calamity, in that last possible moment between consciousness and unconsciousness, he took a second blow to the head.

The guide says their teleportation duplication was an error on his part, like an involuntary double-tap or something. But basically, that’s why the two of them were there. The worst part of it, they were both really nice guys – I mean really nice.

And, by worst, I mean, this rainbow world, it’s temporary. It’s just where you go when you fall unconscious. Although Wolfgang made a point to say it’s only when you’re seriously unconscious. Not like when you fall asleep, or faint, or whatever. But like when it’s – BANG! You’re completely out, like a mini coma or something – but not the same as a proper coma, that’s another place you go to, with a tunnel, a bright light, blurry moving images and enhanced sensory hearing, apparently.

So, the big thing is, it’s temporary. After a while – don’t ask me how long, you go back, go back to where you came from. And for me, of course this was Susie’s party. I woke up – regained consciousness on Susie’s Mom and Dad’s bed.

For Wolfgang, well, I guess you can imagine where he went back to : (


The second instalment from a series of short form fiction; inspiration taken from collage by pedrov_dog

By then, two years into college, I’d not had much interest in boys. Experience demonstrated my male peers to be… let’s say, inadequate and really quite easy to dislike. What’s wrong with them? A fair question; how much time do you have exactly?

Actually, I’ll assume you don’t have much attentive time on your hands and proceed with economy in mind, throwing around but a few points of reference. Take these examples, such as the low capacity for sensitivity as an outward expression, a sophomoric level of humour, physical movement devoid of grace and that highly irritating, stubborn, inborn sense of self-entitlement.

Oh yes, and the obsessions, so designed as female repellent – don’t you think? The cars, the money, the competitive need for reflective glory appropriated from a successful sports team. The Friday night drinking session, predictably ending in a stupor or complete loss of consciousness. And that unceasing, squeezing out of all remaining enjoyment derived from hobbies that include an element of collecting and acquisition. This, in exchange for a fleeting and temporary sense of satisfaction. What is wrong with them?

Of course there’s the sex too. Their goal-focused, blind desire for wanting as much as possible, with as many women as possible (or men, if they are that way inclined). If lucky enough to find themselves in a relationship, there’s the romance-killing aspiration for an unreasonable level of frequency – at least for those first six weeks. All, with such little concern for a sensual ecstasy of a truly meaningful kind. That’s the shallowness of boys. That’s the male species neatly defined and sewn up, at least for me and from what I can make out.

Luckily for me one balmy late summer’s day and completely out of the blue, Lindsey came along.

But Next Day

The first instalment from a series of short form fiction; inspiration taken from collage by pedrov_dog

Mother said there’s no point learning to drive, but next day this man arrives saying he’s my driving instructor. There’re things about him I don’t like. I don’t like his clothes or his beard, how he talks to me in that over-familiar tone. Like he owns me or something.

And I don’t trust him. If I am going to learn how to drive with anyone, they need to be someone I see as trustworthy. What if he gets me to run people over, zig-zag across pavements taking out unsuspecting shoppers, leaving them maimed for life? What if he’s got a loaded gun stashed under the front passenger seat?

I don’t know. I’m bored by the whole idea of learning to drive and I’m not sure Mother really has my best interests at heart. I’m not sure she’s ever had my best interests at heart. I wonder if there’s some sort of secret history between Mother and ‘Rick’? Not that I care two jots if there is… frankly.

I want to go back to reading my book, which I have to finish by Tuesday and return to the library, because I’ve run out of renewals. How can I tell this weirdo to leave me alone? Okay, here’s what I’ll do. I’ll just stand up – not say a word to either of them, climb the stairs and shut myself in my bedroom for the remainder of the morning.


My dearest Jemima Journal,
I am sure you will understand.
It’s time to review that top drawer,
Pull socks-and-pants from a dark hinterland.

Resembling a bloated melange,
Absent form, lacking pairing and folding,
A call for a cull I broadcast,
Cruel riddance applied, not withholding.

They must go! They must go! Go they must!
These relatively old worn-out saggy things.
Slung in the bin and out of my sight,
Before my judgement swings.

Wait, why do I ever feel sentimental,
Over losing cotton or woollen underclothes?
No! I want softness, newness and fresh colours,
To cover my bum, ankles and toes.

(British definition of Pants: men’s underwear – male styling/cut/shape)

I Wore A Leopard Print Shirt

I KNOW what they were thinking, seeing me
wear a leopard-print shirt.
That I was making some kind of statement,
What next, lipstick – a short plaid skirt?

Conservative society (with a lowercase “c”),
You’ve got to stand down, let people be free.
You validate thugs, to behave how they want.
My advice: mainstream-insiders, just be… nonchalant.

“Ah, but you’re a frilly attention-seeker!”
They say,
“You want us to stare and peek.
You’re an introverted wastrel,
An unnatural freak!”

What did I do, I ask, to generate such hate,
To so stick in your craw and exasperate?
I’m just wearing a shirt of a classic design,
No need to pray, for intervention divine.

“That’s an idea! Strike you down, strike you down!”
What response to an attitude such as this?
With stoicism,
Since it’s they who free fall,
Into the infernal abyss.

This poem, inspired by a “Hate Crime” experience.
In UK Law, a hate crime definition includes a situation where the offender demonstrates hostility towards the victim based upon the sexual orientation – or the presumed sexual orientation, of the victim.

Pologies to Bob

*How many times must a writer revise and edit,
Before satisfaction is grasped?
How many times must the same thing be read,
Before an end can be named?
The answer is countless, infinite and forever,
The answer is insanity comes first.

*Ironically, this whole verse written in one single go.
But maybe it shows?

(Inspiration/explanation: The author is currently caught in a cycle consisting of around 600 words, which form the basis to ‘the beginning’ of a new short story – one completely unrelated to anything Dylanesque. Laid on the bed, dressed in T-shirt and underpants, one slipper on, one slipper off, laptop on lap, I just so happened to shout out the first line of this improvisation – in frustration, to the tune of “Blowin’ In The Wind”. The rest, followed promptly.)