Thursday, 31 May 2012

Zeppelins Over The Mississippi (A love story) by Bobby Stevenson

Elizabeth’s Story

It had only been a day since my world had changed.

I sat by the window, opening it a little. The cold air of the lounge was refreshing after the stale air of the cabin. It had been slightly more than a day since I’d left Los Angeles.

A lot of peoples’ lives had changed - after all nineteen twenty nine was a year of changes, a year when the world turned upside down for so many. A year when broken souls jumped from city buildings, when money was lost and scattered to the four winds; I was one of the lucky ones, my family had money.

We came from a little town on the river Hudson in New York State, a place where many influential folks had put down roots. Sure, we all made money in the city but we spent it in the country. We’d been there as a family since 1777. We were the elite, the privately schooled, Harvard educated elite and didn’t we know it.
Papa had felt I was becoming bored at home and had sent me on a trip around the world, primarily, I guessed, to meet a future husband.

I had done as my father had wished and travelled the world but I had done so in a matter of days on the newest mode of transport, an airship, the Graf Zeppelin. I was in Germany by the time Papa had found out, naturally he’d sent someone from the American Embassy to intercept me but to no avail, when I didn’t want to be found I could disappear.

I had flown the Atlantic, over Europe, taken in the vastness of the Siberian wastelands, spent a wonderful time in Japan and then crossed the Pacific Ocean. I was on top of the world in every sense.

I’d first met Samuel in Berlin where he was working for an American bank and was mainly involved in investments.

“Money, my dearest, is what I am all about.”

I can’t remember when he started calling me my dearest but I do 
believe it wasn’t long after we met.

My current thoughts were interrupted by a steward bringing me a welcome cup of coffee. The service aboard the airship was done with all the usual German efficiency and style. I took a moment to look below, there lay the vast plains of America and even at this height I could smell the wheat fields. I would recommend a flight in an airship to anyone. It is both thrilling and breathtaking. If I have to grumble, and it is only a small one, it is the fact that there is a strict no smoking rule. Something to do with the explosive gas we have on board. But, as I say, it is only a tiniest of complaints.

After our crossing from New York to Berlin, the airship was taken into the hanger for a complete inspection and repair before we set out to take on the rest of the world. That was when I fell in love with Samuel and him with me. It was an easy place to fall in love, Berlin and Samuel was an easy person to love.

When it was time for me to leave, Samuel and I had already made plans for us to meet up in New York for the holidays. So it was a complete surprise when we landed in Los Angeles that I found there was a telegram awaiting me in my hotel along with a package. The telegram said only ‘Please marry me, love Samuel’ and the package contained a diamond engagement ring sent from a Los Angeles’ jewellers. There was a note with the ring that said ‘don’t give me an answer until we meet in December’.

I had to have another look at the ring. I had tried it on my finger in the privacy of the cabin but I would not wear it publicly until Samuel placed it on my finger, himself. And, yes, of course I was going to say ‘yes’.

There must have been a gust of wind as the steward opened the lounge door from the corridor, because, all of a sudden, the diamond ring, still in its box, blew out of the window and dropped to the earth below.

Joshua and Jennifer’s Story

They had never spent that long away from each other’s company. Josh was nineteen and so was the love of his heart, Jen. They had grown up next to each other, gone to school together and now they both worked in Mister Finnegan’s grocery store. Josh was the floor manager and this meant that he enjoyed talking to folks whereas Jen was the accountant. At least, that’s what Mister Finnegan called her. Mainly, she just counted the money and put it in jute bags. Mister Finnegan was the one to take it to the bank as he trusted no one in this life.

“Don’t take on so, it ain’t personal, it’s just I’ve been burned too many times.”

So he had - and too many times to go into any detail here - but let’s just say that he had just cause for his stubborn attitude.

One warm and balmy September afternoon, Josh’s father’s entered the store. Now Josh knew exactly what that meant, his father had just been released from jail in Montrose County and was looking for money.

“I know what you’re thinking boy and you’d be wrong, I ain’t looking for money and don’t go think I am. I’m just here to say ‘howdee’ and see how you’re doing.”

Josh knew they’d be more to his father’s visit than a ‘hello’ but he was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Now at the same time every day, which happened to be around noon time, 

Mister Finnegan would take the previous day’s takings to the bank - having slept with the bag under his pillow the night before. 

During these absences, Josh and Jen would take this chance to have some food together and talk about the day’s woes and anything funny that had happened to them.

It was while the two of them were talking about this and that, that Josh’s father took the opportunity to help himself to all the money in the wooden drawer.

“Where’s my Pa?” Asked Josh when him and Jen had finished talking.

Jen shrugged her shoulders, as she hadn’t seen him leave. It was just then that Mister Finnegan returned to find out he’d been robbed.

Now he wasn’t blaming Josh or Jen for the theft but they had been on watch when the crime occurred and he had no option but to let the two of them go.

No matter how much Josh pleaded or Jen wept there was no changing Mister Finnegan’s decision.

So Josh did what he always did when he tried to cheer up Jen and took her for a walk by the river, the great and beautiful Mississippi.

“I reckon we should move somewhere my father can’t find us.” Said, Josh.

Jen just smiled and kissed them.

It was then that the miracle happened, right out of the sky as if it had come from Heaven above. It almost hit Josh on the way down and when he picked up the box, he found it contained a diamond engagement ring.

He took this as a sign from the Almighty and got down on one knee and asked Jen to marry him, right there and then.

Without hesitation, she said yes.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Me and Buzz and Flyin' by Bobby Stevenson

The first time that me and Buzz attempted to fly, Buzz broke his arm in two places: in the yard and on the driveway. Yeh, Buzz didn’t think that joke was funny either. Now you’re going back to read it again in case you missed something ‘cause you didn’t think it was so funny.

The truth of the matter is that Buzz’s arm was good and busted all because he tried to fly from the roof of my house to the roof of Mister Huckerby’s.

Mister H was the man who ate children or so the story went. We’d tried to have a look in his windows but he always kept all his curtains closed except for the attic windows and they were too high to get at, unless you got on to his roof.

“I know what I’ll do, I’ll fly” was Buzz’s suggestion, with a real proud look on his face. He had thought of it all by himself.
“You’ll fly to the top of Mister H’s house?”
“What you gonna use, a jet pack?”
“Nope, I’ve already thought of this. I’ll find a place that’s higher than the Child-eater’s and I glide over and land on his roof.”

If Buzz really thought about this all by himself then I’m sure the world is coming to an end or he ain’t tellin’ the whole truth. He’s probably seen the whole thing on Scooby Doo or something.

There never was any proof that Mister H was actually eating any kids on account that no one had disappeared or anything but that didn’t stop the stories. You know how it is? You get the rep for eating kids and it just doesn’t go away. I mean Buzz has got a rep for being really stupid but I have to tell you, he worked really hard at that rep and deserves it.

I’m making this all sound as if Buzz had come up with an idea that was as reliable as the day is long. To be honest he had had several other really bad ideas. Last Easter, he tried to climb up the pipes to Mister H’s roof but there was a bird’s nest about three quarter ways up and those little kiddy birds started peckin’ at Buzz’s face. You know Buzz hates anyone touchin’ his face so he tried to shoo them away and that’s when he let go. Luckily he fell into a bush and didn’t do any real damage although the pipe was hanging at a weird angle.

Around June time, Buzz tried to lasso a rope around one of Mister H’s chimneys. He got the rope on to one of the corner ones - the kind that crash to the ground real hard when you pull on them, especially with a boy and a rope hanging off them.

You could say Buzz escaped with his life, which is more than can be said for Mister Huckerby’s pride and joy, his car. It was all smashed up. I think he thinks that the street was hit with a tornado that day.

I guess I never really asked Buzz until just now what he was going to do when he landed on the roof. Was he gonna rescue the kids? Or what?
“I’m gonna look in that attic window.”
“Then what?”
“Not sure.”

Buzz strapped a kite to each arm and he reckoned this was gonna let him glide from our roof and across the street.

“Even if you do make his roof Buzz, how are you gonna get down?”
Ain’t it just dandy how the world and even the laws of physics belong to the really stupid?
“Fine” I said, but by which I meant so many other things.

Buzz wanted me to stand at the front of my house when he did eventually jump. I’ve no idea what he expected me to do – catch him?
“You can help me...” he shouted.
“Navigate?” I shouted back.
“Give me directions” he shouted.

Then Buzz stood at the edge of the roof and started flappin’ his arms and I tell you, I nearly let some pee out, I laughed so hard. He just looked completely stupid. Like a bird that had its behind set alight.

He counted down and shouted that I should count with him.

“10,9,8....” He was still flappin’ and I was still keeping my legs crossed in case I pee’d again.

Then we got to zero and he jumped and what do ya know? He kinda glided, not as far as Mister H’s roof but to the tree in front of his house. That was where Buzz got stuck until we called the fire engine folks over at Toolaville. I think some of them tried to stop from laughing as well. I could see tears running down the Chief’s face.

It took us about 3 hours to free him and his wings and he was fine - surprisingly.

As for the broken arm, it was as he crossed the street and into my driveway that he stood on the skateboard and that’s when it happened. He broke his arm on the drive way, got up and then stood on the skateboard again and broke his arm again in my yard.

I swear to the almighty I had to run all the way to the toilet as I nearly pee’d myself again, what with all that laughin’.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Standing On The Edge by Bobby Stevenson

It’s the small things,
Like the forgotten names of someone loved,
Or the thing you’ve left in the room above,
Or the way the reason why you went to the kitchen,
Is swallowed up as you cross the door,
Are all of these just signs of aging?
Or maybe simply senior moments?
Perhaps the lip of a greater darkness,
An event-horizon of some dark hole?
Am I standing on the edge of oblivion,
Waiting for this disease to eat my soul?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

At Another Setting of the Sun by Bobby Stevenson

At another setting of the sun,
And another journey’s end,
At one more blissful end of day,
Let all the darkness take the stage,
And watch the heart scars fade away.

At another dying of the light,
As day, once more becomes the night,
At one more setting of the sun,
Some friendship fades a little more,
A prize that once was bravely won.

As another night descends,
You’re at another journey’s end,
At one more setting of the sun,
Let all your troubles float away
For now, this night,
Your journey’s done.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Me and Buzz and Drivin' by Bobby Stevenson

When Buzz was about ten years old, he stole my Daddy’s car. 

One minute he was askin’ me where the keys were hangin’ and the next, he’s starting the engine up. If my name ain’t Jay then call me a liar ‘cause I swear that he just started her up and took off. He didn’t look back.

I ran after him and just as he turned the corner, I jumped in the back with my legs all flappin’ in the air and my head stuck under the seat.

“You okay?” Shouts Buzz

“I think so” but I have to be honest with you, the blood was running to my head so bad, I thought my eyes were going to pop out. I really did.

Then he slammed the brakes on and I nearly went shooting out the side of the car. I ain’t lying, I mean as if I would do that.

When I sat in the front, Buzz stuck two pieces of paper up my nose to stop the bleeding and that seemed to do the trick. That was when he told me of his idea. Seems, I had been mighty hard on Buzz judging him like I did, he wasn’t stealin’ the car. No sir, what was happenin’ was that me and him were going to see some of the world. I mean, did I think he was stupid or somethin’?

“Nah, I ton’t tink you toopid.“ With the paper up my nose I was talking all funny like.

Buzz reckoned that ten years of age was just about the right time for a boy to ripen into a man and make something of himself. So Buzz just hit that gas tap and we flew outta town. Now you know what I think of Buzz, he really is as stupid as the day is long but when it comes to cars, well I guess a man has to have one thing he’s good at. Well two, if you count the fact that Buzz says he’s good at lookin’ good as well.

You know full well that Buzz is always claimin’ to be taller than me even though he ain’t.

Well, although Buzz could stop the car, or make it go quicker, he could only do one or the other on account of his legs not really reaching the pedals properly.

“You’re goin’ fatter.” I was hollering at him.
“Stop goin’ so fat.”

I will tell you here and now and I may I be turned into a toad, if I’m lying. I wasn’t scared, honest injuns, I wasn’t. I just didn’t want my Daddy’s car all crashed.

I don’t know if Buzz’s feet were stuck but that car wasn’t goin’ to halt in a month of Sundays.

“Top it.”
“Can’t you top it?”

Seems that was an impossibilty and we shot through Dead Man’s Creek in the blink of an eye. We barely made it around the bend into Schummann’s Road when Buzz kinda lost control and the car flew over the grass and into the Park where the Daughters of the Revolution were holding their weekly meet.

When those ladies saw Buzz headin’ straight for them, they all dived into bushes and two even ended up in the creek.

“Tolly” I shouted back at them but I don’t think it did any good ‘cause they were real mad.

At the far end of the Park is Sad Sadie’s Sarsaparilla Drinking Emporium. It’s real popular with the kids when they just want to hang out.

“Top. Top, you gonna hat the tore”
“Get ready Bud, I think we might just hit the store” said Buzz.

We didn’t just hit it - we went through it taking with us every flavor of ice cream that you could imagin’.
Sad Sadie dived off to the left to avoid being squashed in the crushed nuts drawer.

“Tolly.” I shouted but I don’t think she was listenin’.

Then we hit the fountain and that was when we came to a stop. 
As the cops were taking Buzz away, he just hollered back at me “We’re men, Jay.”
I guess we were.

When my father came to collect us from the police station, the sarsaparilla was still runnin’ down my nose.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Me and Buzz and Filmin' by Bobby Stevenson

Buzz always wanted to be a movie star and so from a real young age, he got to practising. Not with anything sensible like acting, that would have been too clever, no – he got practising with signing his autograph.

“You got to start somewhere” was what he told me.

When people on Main Street saw Buzz coming their way they used to cross over just to avoid him. Buzz put it down to folks being overwhelmed with his natural good looks.

If ya didn’t avoid him, before you knew it, Buzz would be staring into your face and asking if you wanted his autograph. Everyone and I mean everyone in town, had several copies of Buzz’s signature.
I remember seeing the minister walking to church one Sunday morning with Buzz’s writing on that white bit of the collar they wear. How Buzz got it there, God only knows (and he probably does).

“I’m a good looking kid and if they don’t want me to act in their movies, then they don’t know what they’re missing.”

One Saturday Buzz decided he’d do just that – show them what they were missing, that is. That weekend the weather was real toasting and Buzz got me to borrow (borrow without askin’) my granddaddy’s movie camera.

“I kinda see myself as a cowboy, don’t ya think?”  I just nodded, hell it was best to just go along with anything Buzz said.

I ain’t sure where Buzz got the gun from, but I do remember a story a while back about Buzz’s uncle Joshua who was thrown in jail for holding up a burger joint. Somehow the store owner convinced his uncle Joshua to take some French fries and a soda rather than the contents of the money drawer. Still, he went to jail all the same. I don’t remember any gun being used but I guess that’s where Buzz got it.

Buzz wanted me to be the baddy and the plan was for me to walk down Main Street and pretend to call him out; cussing and saying he was a coward. Then Buzz would come out of the saloon (it was really Mrs Bat’s Craft Shop) and challenge me to a shoot out in the street.

I was the one that was to get shot; Buzz felt that a man about to make his mark in the movies shouldn’t take the bullet.

I guess you should really check if a gun is loaded or not.

I’m just saying, as it would have saved a lot of trouble. I’ve never seen a grown man being shot in the bee-hind before but Samuel Brooks hollered and screamed like the world was coming to an end. It was only a bullet in the butt, what was the big problem?

Mrs Brooks wanted to hang Buzz right there and then, the way they did with her Daddy years back. I guess two people don’t make a lynch mob, but it scared the hell out of me all the same.

Buzz was hauled in front of Judge Pickering and folks were telling me that Buzz would probably get the electric chair or something. At the time (I was young then) I thought giving someone an electric chair was a real strange thing to do. Where would ya keep it?

Anyway a lot of people were saying that Buzz came from a real bad family, didn’t he have an uncle who’d stolen diamonds?

Funny, how French fries get exaggerated like that.

Anyways, I had filmed the whole thing and we were allowed to show it in court. The judge said it was okay to show a movie. Some folks brought in popcorn. From the movie, you could see that as Buzz was pulling the trigger, he shut his eyes and didn’t really mean to hit anyone. At the end of the movie some of Buzz’s family started clapping – so Buzz got up and took  a bow. Which I have to say was pretty cool. Buzz started waving, movie star like, to the folks upstairs in the gallery.

As I left the courthouse that day, I saw Buzz up at the bench giving Judge Pickering his autograph.

More Me and Buzz stories: 

Me and Buzz
Me and Buzz and Growin'

Me and Buzz and Fishin'

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

One Day, My Friend, We'll Soar by Bobby Stevenson

One day, my friend, we’ll soar,
Far, high above these streets of darkened hearts,
We’ll tilt our wings to freedom,
And scrape the highest of the skies.

One day, my friend, we’ll soar,
Up there, all wrapped in splendid sunlight,
Riding azure blue jet streams,
Breathless with the rush of life and air.

One day, my friend, we’ll soar,
So let me take your broken body upon my back,
And both of us climb in painless flight,
I’ll let you rest up there, but I’ll be back.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Light At The End Of The Day (2012) by Bobby Stevenson

His nostrils filled with the November smoke from a thousand chimneys as he turned down into Byres Road. 

This being the second Wednesday in the month meant it was his turn to open up and get the heating on; it wasn’t too much to ask, but it still annoyed him. Here he was, a student at the university, the first in the family as far back as anyone could remember, but still he was expected to muck in with the ‘business’ as his father called it, or a ‘run down Glasgow cinema’ as Sandy described it to his fellow students. 

The building had started off as a glorified hut in the early 1900s holding no more than about sixteen people, although Sandy’s grandfather tended to squeeze in, with a shove, another ten on a Saturday night. At a couple of pennies a head to show some old silent fare, it was a nice way of making money. A very nice way as it turned out, and his grandfather tried to find ways to make it even nicer. 

When he heard that Roy Rogers and Trigger were in town he marched down to the Central Station with a bribe, if Roy and his horse would attend a showing of their movie at his cinema then he’d feed then fish and chips for a week. His grandfather pestered Roy’s people so much that they threw him out of the railway station without Roy ever knowing of the offer. The same thing happened with Laurel and Hardy and despite everything, the cinema still made money; tons of it. 

It was because of the Majestic cinema – a cinema by the way which was tidy, comfortable and well maintained, that the family had found the money to allow Sandy to go to university to read English in the first place. It had also bought the families plush villas in the west of the city. So to call it ‘run down’ said more about Sandy than a plain truth about the building. 

Sandy was twenty-three and a bit older than the rest of the student body in the English department. The others tended to come from families of bankers, shipbuilding and industry. Yet, despite this lucky start to their lives, not one of them could hold a candle to Sandy’s genius; a word he used as frequently as ‘run down’.

Sandy’s hands were freezing as he struggled to find the keys in his long overcoat. Once inside the cinema he was always hit in the face by the redness of the paint. No matter how many second Wednesdays he opened that door, the harshness of the decor always came as a surprise. As he told his classmates that very morning, the whole building was like a Turkish bordello and smelt worse. This had brought a pleasing chuckle from his student friends.  

Mary was the Majestic’s ‘girl Friday’ and she loved the job. It involved selling tickets, orange juice and tubs of ice cream in the foyer and the ability to walk backwards down the aisles. The family was a pleasure to work for and after all they paid her extremely well. 

Three things kept her there however, the first was that she really loved the movies, so in between her duties she could slide into a seat and get lost in the latest releases; American or British she didn’t care as long as there was a chance to laugh and moment to shed a tear.

The other two things  were the twins, Sandy and Donald. She had been in love with both of them for a very long time. Despite their similar looks they were very different people except in one respect, they both manipulated people to get what they wanted.

Sandy was the clever one; the one that everyone knew was going to go places. Donald was the physical son; the one who fought Sandy’s battles and would walk a thousand miles to protect his brother. Some people feared National Service but Donald graciously consumed everything the army threw at him. 

There was a time when Mary couldn’t wait for the second Wednesday in the month as it meant she and Sandy could be alone, but  he had changed. Ever since he had started at the university, he had become someone else. He was still a kind person but now he liked to inform you of that fact.

Sandy’s kindness grated with Mary, to be done a good deed by someone and then to be told how kind it was  - well, it somehow destroyed the act. People who told you they were kindness itself were unaware that they were the most selfish of individuals. If you didn’t accept their gifts, advice, charity then you automatically caused them hurt – there was the blackmail, there was the aggression, this was Sandy. 

Donald, on the other hand enjoyed life and living and although he was in the army, he would still refer to himself as a loner but Mary considered this just another way to manipulate people. Loners controlled situations by not being there, by removing themselves from the activity - they demanded to be noticed by their absence. 

Yet, despite everything, they were all the best of friends and she did enjoy their company. Donald was on leave from Germany and was due to arrive that evening.As she walked out from the cold night and through the doors into the ticket booth, the place was beginning to warm up. It meant Sandy was down in the cellar stacking coal for the boiler. 

The cinema was open six days a week and everyone rested on the Sabbath. This was a day for a meal with Sandy and his family which Mary was always invited to, as she no longer had anyone living. 

Every second Wednesday in the month, Nessie and Ian McLeod, the boys’ parents would take the day off for a trip away. Sometimes it was Loch Lomond, or Edinburgh for the shops, or sometimes they would just sit in the back garden and read. Those were the days when Sandy and Mary ran the cinema and as a Wednesday was half-price day for the pensioners, it tended to be busy with those who just came in for some company or to keep out of the cold. 

Today they were showing a couple of British gangster movies. Some of the older ones loved them, especially the women pensioners who seemed to like their baddies, really bad -  even if it meant they had to hide behind the popcorn from time to time. It was the coming attractions that also excited Mary, and one of those that was arriving any day now was Love Me Tender with Elvis Presley and Mary couldn’t wait. 

She could hear Sandy singing in the basement, in the last few months it was always the same song, one she had bought him earlier in the year – ‘The Ballad of Davy Crockett’. At least Ian, Sandy’s dad, allowed that one to be played on the family gramophone, unlike ‘Rock Around the Clock’ by Bill Haley.
“What a load of rubbish. Whatever next? Rock around the clock indeed.” was Mister McLeod’s take on it. 

She took two bottles of cola from the foyer fridge and went down to the basement. There he was, the English student, shovelling coal into the furnace and as she stood staring at him for a moment, he finished off his song. It was at times like these she was sure it was Sandy she loved. 

Mary was just about to interrupt Sandy when there was a call from upstairs.
“Are you two down there?”
It was Donald and he was early. With his usual enthusiasm, he bounded down the stairs two at a time.
“What’s all this then, you two up to no good?” 

Sandy dropped his shovel and embraced his brother who had spent three more minutes in the world than him.
"Let me give you a hand little brother, that way the three of us can get a drink sooner.” 

The final movie was ‘The Good Die Young’ with Laurence Harvey and then the old and the wrinkled were ushered out quickly. There was a young couple kissing in one of the corners but when they looked up and saw Mary, Sandy and Donald all staring back at them, it killed off their ardour and they exited into the cold night with their lips still stuck together. 

Once the theatre was checked for stragglers - as there had been folks locked in over night before - Sandy switched off the heating and shut the door.
“Where to, guys and lassie?” asked the ever energetic Donald.
Sandy wasn’t happy, “I’ll see you at the weekend brother and anyway I’ve got studies. I was going to walk Mary home, you see I’m kind that way”

“I’m only here for the night, I’m going on to a pal's wedding in the morning” said a disappointed Donald. 

"What about a quick drink at the Locarno?” asked Mary.
“Great idea” said Donald, “come on brother, what is it Granddad calls the movies?” 
“Light at the end of the day” answered Sandy. Mary liked that expression.
“And that’s what we need now. Some light. One swift one in the Locarno then you can get back to your nonsense.”

The brothers didn’t say much as they sauntered up towards Charing Cross. The doorman at the Locarno wasn’t really up for letting them in until he spotted Donald and then the three of them were waved on. 

The Locarno was half empty, or half full depending on your idea of a Wednesday night out. It was mainly full of  Italians who had closed their businesses for a half day, meaning they could stay open all day Saturday.
The Joe Loss Orchestra was the band for the evening but was clearly failing to excite the rich merchants of Glasgow. 

Over in one corner sat a small man with greasy black hair. When anyone passed his table, there were calls of ‘Good evening Giuseppe’, ‘How are you Giuseppe’ or something in Italian that Donald didn’t understand but it annoyed him anyway. This Giuseppe character seemed to be staring at Mary but she had failed to notice the man since she was so caught up in a joke with Sandy.   

It didn’t seem to matter what Donald did, he felt that he was never good enough for Mary. Oh he loved her alright, loved her big time, but he just couldn’t get her to notice. Since he couldn’t compete with his twin, he would take himself off somewhere alone, hoping that just once Mary would follow but she never did. Maybe Mary thought he was trouble. 

Giuseppe was a short man, and with short men come big grievances. The little Italian managed to bump his way all across the dance floor, and given the sparseness of the crowd it was actually very good going. He bumped into Donald which was one bump too many. It would be wonderful in this life if we knew we were about to bump once too often, but that’s a luxury we never receive. 

All six feet of Donald followed the little man into the toilet.
“Why are you staring at my friend?” asked Donald.
“Who is your-a friend?”
“The good looking girl with my brother.”
“Then maybe it’s-a your-a brother you should be having this argument with.” 

As Donald pushed Giuseppe, he knew he was probably right in what he had said but he kept pushing none the less. The little Italian backed away until there was nowhere else to go.
“Look-a I don’t want-a trouble.” Said in a thick Glasgow-Italian accent.
“So you don’t want-a trouble?” mimicked Donald.
“Please, leave me alone-a. I begga you."

All he meant to do was give him one more shove, but the floor beneath Giuseppe was wet and the little man hit his head on the edge of the sink on the way down. 

Donald felt like running but instead he stayed and told the police everything - except that he let them think that Giuseppe Aldo had started the argument. Giuseppe Aldo, husband and father to six daughters,died in hospital three days later. 

One little push, that was all, one little push that changed everything. This was 1955 and manslaughter was only admissible if it was in self-defence. The judge felt that there was reasonable doubt with regard to Donald’s story and the jury thought so too. As he had entered the toilet several witnesses reported seeing Donald in an angry mood and visibly drunk.

The Aldo mob cheered just as strongly as the McLeod clan wept when the death sentence was passed. 

Donald was hanged on July 20th, 1955, exactly a week after Ruth Ellis, the last woman in Britain to be hanged.The Majestic was sold off to some big time corporation and Donald’s parents both died of reportedly broken hearts within a few weeks of one another.

Mary was the last person to talk to Donald before he was hanged. It had been at his own request.
“Stop crying Mary, please.” Then he whispered something into her ear before kissing her goodbye.

That something is what went through her head as she stepped on to a train at Glasgow Central and left her city forever.

“There will be light at the end of the day my darling, there will be light at the end of the day."

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Eastman (2012) by Bobby Stevenson

It’s one of those games we still played even after all this time; where did we think Eastman was born?

There was a day when every city west of Berlin claimed him as their own but in the end it was probably London or across the water in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

You wouldn’t have picked him out at the start as being the type of creature he became. The story is often told of him being referred to as The Quiet Man, the gentle man.

He wasn’t a devout anything, never really went to church and rarely spoke of religion. To be honest, he wasn’t extreme about anything. Not at first.

He was born with that indefinable gift of people liking him. He magnetized them, flattered them, became their friend and then used them.

He spoke on television, on the web, wrote best selling ebooks and even composed several successful music downloads. He was the champion; he was the peoples’ champion, he was their champion.

His ‘Deacons’, as he called his close followers, financed his rise. He was astute and he waited until the time was right. After the crash of the Eurozone and the 60% unemployment, he offered cheap food in Eastman Stores, all making a loss and all promoting his ideals. Cheap camps were setup in Spain and England and these were known as Eastman Vacs, where families could vacation for almost next to nothing.

This was when he was loved and this was when he made his move.
It was as quick as it was well thought out.

He didn’t attack the churches at first, not at first. On his daily web broadcast he maybe hinted at his objection to the church, its power and its money. Only later did he talk of the actual buildings being insane asylums – only later did he suggest that holding a faith was a mental illness.

Then the first one went, a Baptist Church in South London was razed to the ground. The Eastmen (as the disciples now insisted that you call them) blamed it on a race issue – wasn’t the church full of outsiders? But it didn’t stop there. Within two years, any form of worship in England was outlawed. This didn’t apply to the former UK countries of Ireland North and Scotland, they had gone their own way.

When Eastman finally claimed power, it was amongst the poor that lived in tented cities in the parks of England. They ate Eastman Food, watched Eastman Broadcasts, Eastman Movies and drank Eastman Gin (Orwell would have smirked at that last one).
Every June the 1st was Eastman Day and the Eastmen would hold parades in every corner of the country. It wasn’t an option to attend.

But what you might ask, became of the opposition? Or the devout Catholics/Muslims/Protestants/Jews and others? Those that insisted on worshiping were slung into the other type of Eastman camp and worked to death.

Those who spread any form of socialism or brotherly love were beheaded in the Eastman Squares at the centre of every city.

Eastman Money was offered to anyone who snitched on their friends and family who worshiped in secret. Normally their homes were set on fire with the occupants inside.

Somewhere in all the cynicism of the 21st century we stopped caring and as we stopped caring we fed the beast.

As I sit here, I think back to the greed that started all of this; the bankers, the debt, the crash of the Eurozone, the unemployment, the riots and the rise and rise of Eastman.

You may mention Hitler in the same breath and you’d be right.
And all of this?

Well these are my final thoughts as I know they’ll be coming for me soon.

You may ask what my crime was?

I was a writer.

I’ll be taken to the re-education showers shortly.

No one ever returns.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Stones (2012) by Bobby Stevenson

Willie wiped his brow and looked out at the desert. There had been stories as far back as the dawn of time about the desert, the Moonboy Hills and those stones.

It had been said that when the stones started to move the end was coming. Willie always wondered what end these folks were talking about. He had been too long in the saddle to really care about such things now. There were names and places that he had started to forget and well, his end was probably coming sooner rather than later.

Willie guessed there must be a right time for everything.

He remembered when he was a boy and that first evening he’d ridden up into the Moonboys. He’d been arguing with his paw about some nonsense or other. Taking off with his old horse General had seemed the easiest way to resolve things. The first two nights had been lonely and cold, boy could it get cold up there.
On the third night he’d taken shelter in a cave and managed to light a fire. That was when he saw them - the weird carvings on the far wall. 

When he’d asked around town about them, one of those clever college guys had talked about the pre-Clovis people being responsible but Will had no idea what he was going on about. The Professor had asked if Will could take him to the exact place where he’d seen the carvings but Will wasn’t too keen. He just said he’d forgotten. Anyhow Willie felt it went a lot deeper and darker than those Clovis folks, there was something strange about those signs and that was the truth.

Funny thing to tell, he’d never actually shown anyone other than his own family the location of the carvings. In his teenage years Willie had spent a lot of time up in the hills worrying and thinking about one thing or another.
Girls, money, work, you name it he always took his problems ‘to the cave’.

When he met Sarah he’d stopped going up there. Then, when the kids had come along, he’d take them up one by one on his horse to show them the pictures. But they had all grown up and moved away and no one apart from his youngest Brad had kept up any interest in the place.

Recently after Sarah’s death he’d found himself coming back to the place more and more, to think over his life. Things didn’t feel so lonely up there. The kids and their children very rarely came visiting anymore and he’d usually see the clan at some Christmas get-together, then nothing until the following year.

Willie didn’t mind saying it, he was as lonely as hell and wondering if it was time he should be moving on. Life was for the young and he would tell you, he hated getting old. It hurt in every sense of the word. He was tired and it was as plain and simple as that.

Then a couple of weeks ago the stories had started circulating around the place. Over at Jacob’s Rock and in Wall Fire Alley there had been folks talking about the stones, they were moving, sometimes as much as several feet in a night.

Over in Kent County a minister had called it the end of days. He’d seen the stones moving with his own eyes, may God strike him down if he was lying.

Some folks from the big city came and took photos of the stones and they were kind of thinking that the locals were up to no good, perhaps moving them in the middle of the night. But as the good folks of the Moonboys had seen, there were no footprints near the stones. No rope marks. No way, anyone or, anything could have been involved.

Sixty years before the stones started moving when Willie was still a teenager, he had taken a rubbing of the cave carvings. He was sure he still had them somewhere.

After a barrel load of searching one stormy afternoon, he’d found them in the attic, three clear images of the carvings.

The first image was of little rocks sitting on a plain. In the second, the rocks had changed position and they all seemed to have moved or been moved in the same direction. On the third there was a figure that someone in antiquity had attempted to erase from the carving by rubbing over the image with something rough.

It had never made any sense to Willie except there was something peaceful about the carvings and the cave. There was no doubt about it there was a connection between the story that these carvings were telling and the rocks moving.

Willie decided he’d go out to Lazy Boy Canyon and have a look for himself. He’d go at night when the desert was a lot cooler then he’d catch the stones as the sun came up.

He pitched his old tent by an overhang that helped him get some shelter from the frost. He tried as best he could to get some sleep but this wasn’t a night for it.

Just after two in the morning he could hear a scraping not too far from the tent, he guessed it was just another lonely animal out looking for company or food.

He rested a while but around four in the morning the sun rose over the top of the Moonboys and caused the tent to heat up real bad. Willie felt the only place to go was outside and anyway he was eager to see the stones.

Sure enough, there they were, streaks of sand behind them like they had been moving on their own.

Surely that couldn’t have been what he’d heard in the dark of night?
Willie walked over to the rock and all of a sudden he felt a peace come down on him like he’d never felt before.

He bent down and touched the rock and smiled.

A few days later they found the tent but nothing was ever found of Willie.

There was one strange thing that only the wild animals would have seen, the rock that Willie had touched had moved forwards a few feet.