Thursday, 31 October 2013

Me and Buzz and Soccer

One of the other times that Buzz had a mid-life crisis was that summer when his first hair grew out of his chin. You would have thought that he was Fu Man Choo or somethin’.

He’s tellin’ me he ain’t decided if he’s gonna let it grow into a full beard, or trim it using his Paw’s old razor. The one his Paw left him before he ran away with the dancer.

“Now that I’m grown and a man,” that’s what he said to me, with a straight face - a face with one hair growin’ out of it.

“Now that I’m a man, I’m gonna look after my Maw. Keep her good, in her old age.”

Well you know me and peeing myself, I had to run behind a bush before I wet ma pants good.

What he was tellin’ me, was that he was ready for a career as a matinee idol – that’s his very words and I’m not sure if Buzz knew what they meant.

So the time had come that he’d have to look after his face on account it was gonna be his main source of income. He said he wasn’t sure if it was fair to let a face like that be blown up big in a movie theater  ‘cause everyone would pass out.

Of course when he’s tellin’ me this I’m still behind the bush just in case I need to go again, real fast.

That was why Buzz had a mid-life crisis over the weekend and decided he was too old and too pretty to play football at school and that was when Mr Fairbanks, suggested he should join the school soccer team, instead.

“It’ll save your good-lookin’ face, Buzz,” said Mr Fairbanks, who then nudged another teacher and they both walked off as if they were gonna pee themselves too.

Of course just playin’ soccer wasn’t good enough for Buzz, he had to be a
‘strike……er’ – now, the reason I’ve said it that way is because that’s the way that Buzz said it. I thought I could hear a funny accent in there but I assumed Buzz was practisin’ for his movies.

I didn’t see Buzz until two days later and by then he was talkin’ real funny like. I’m thinkin’ to myself, I’ve heard this funny talk before and sure enough I remember – right in the middle of the night, I shout out, ‘Mary Poppins’. Buzz sounded like Dick Van Dyke in that movie.

Buzz has decided that if he’s gonna be any good at soccer he had to talk with an English accent. Since Buzz ain’t ever heard one except in movies and stuff, I’ve got to say he wasn’t that good.
When our teacher said ‘Good mornin’ class’, instead of sayin’ good morning back, Buzz said, ‘All right, Guvner and a fine mornin’ it be’.

I didn’t know whether to just give up and pee myself there and then or run to the restroom.

“Shall I see you, little urchin at dinner time as I’m looking forward to me pie and chips, guvnor.” That’s what he said to me with his one hair chinned face.

“I’m playin’ me soccer game this afternoon, me old mate. Will you be comin’ to see me?”

They had to take me to the nurse’s room - I kid you not - as I had gone into hysterical collapse, least ways that’s what the doctor said. Apparently I had had a real bad shock.

Buzz never ever got a game of soccer, they picked Alexander as the striker and she was a girl.

“Stupid game,” said Buzz - all American, like.

bobby stevenson 2013

Cracked Hearts

She washes her mother with water and with love. Gently caressing the body that looks like someone she once knew, but her mother’s mind has already gone ahead and waits for the soul to return. She cleans away the saliva from the mouth that once used to chastise and kiss and smile.

He dreads the sun coming up as it means another day and another night of little sleep. Somewhere between being ten years of age and this morning it all got complicated. The knots are too tightly tied to try to undo them any more. He can hear the car next door starting up – the sign that he has to do it all….all over again.

If it wasn’t for the kids she would have left months ago, may be years. They were happy once. They were in love back then but all she did was turn her head away, take her eye off from where she was going and they slipped away from each other.

Okay, so he’s not a kid any more but he tells himself that the injections he puts in his leg every morning are increasing his super powers. Yesterday he told himself he could see through peoples’ clothing. It made him smile and it greased another sticky day.

She’s 17 and gravity hasn’t hit her yet. She doesn’t know what waits around the corner but she is happy with her family and her dog called, Bertie. Oh, and her boyfriend.

The old lady lives two doors up from no one. She’s been there since the war and the neighbours have come and gone and although she used to know everyone, she locks her door against the night. When she goes, she’ll go like Eleanor Rigby. Then she hums what she thinks is the tune.

It’s the end of another day and as the heads lie on the pillow, or the sofa or the street, everyone should be standing up there on the podium, arms aloft for a job well done.

To get through a day, any day, deserves a medal.

bobby stevenson 2013

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Moscow Lovers , 1957

The sun has almost set out there,
Somewhere far across a street where we once laughed,
This land had scents of earth and damp,
Where we rested our weary bodies,
And talked of lives betrayed.
We clung to each other and to life in that apartment,
Bedecked in Bakelite and polyester,
And saw the slivers of sun shine across Gorky Park,
Into a room where we swam in vodka truths.
There was no bed, but we made do with what was there.
And now our secret masks have fallen,
Unspoken, we know that this is all for one last time,
And so deliver our final words,
Safely wrapped and given up in beautiful lies. 

bobby stevenson 2013

Friday, 25 October 2013

Thing and Billy

Sometimes Thing had so much fun on his own that he forgot that he was alone. He’d race the spiders to the front of the cave or he’d dance around the fire just because he wanted to. Some days while dancing he would shout out, ‘what do you think of this?’ to his family and then he’d remember they were gone.

One day a new kid came to school, a kid by the name of Billy McGuire and he was everything that a popular kid should be. He was good at everything, and the girls swarmed around him and the boys all wanted to be his friend. You see Billy was a good-looking kid and at school that meant everything.

He soon became the Captain of just about every sport except the girls’ netball. People came to him for advice, even the teachers would let him off with work, usually with the cry:

“Sure Billy, you take as much time as you want.”

Thing, on the other hand was considered the complete opposite of Billy. It was assumed that he was no good at sports, but then again no one would let him try.

“I ain’t showering with that freak,” they would say.

But Thing knew that he could throw things farther and that he could jump higher than anyone else in his school. Yet because of the way he looked, folks tended to think that he was simple, and stupid, and lame. 

One day Billy McGuire passed Thing and said 'hello' and everyone thought that Billy was a great guy for spending some of his day saying 'hello' to a thing like Thing. 

But Thing read and he read real good. Billy McGuire didn’t have to try too hard so reading wasn’t a requirement in his life. Now I’m not saying that Billy was wrong, if life comes at you on a plate, well you just got to eat it.

But Thing watched people and Thing could see that some folks were good and some folks were bad and most folks were always going between one or the other.

Thing always made it a plan, that no matter how bad he felt on any day, he would do something good for someone and never let any one know about it.

Then one afternoon while Thing was walking down by the stream that led back home, he saw Billy McGuire put a little animal in a bag and throw it into the stream. Billy walked off whistling to himself and as soon as he had disappeared, Thing rescued the little critter and after making sure it was all right, he set it free.

And right there and then, Thing realised that sometimes good looking people are considered to be something they’re not, just because of their looks and that people who look different are considered bad at doing stuff just because folks don’t like the way they are.

Thing knew that even though he looked different that he was kind and would always help people without telling anyone. 

bobby stevenson 2013

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Me And Buzz And Halloween

Every year at Halloween it was the same routine, Buzz would keep me guessin’ about what he was wearing and I would do the same to him. And every year he’d dress up like the Lone Ranger and I’d dress as Tonto.  So this year I told Buzz that I was goin’ as Tonto – straight out like - and that totally confused him (as if anyone needed to work at that). He was goin’ real crazy wonderin’ if I was really gonna dress up as Tonto or if I was just double bluffin’ my best pal in the world. As if.

To be real honest, I had no idea what I was goin’ to be, the Tonto costume was real small and I had grown up a bit. The sleeves stopped at my elbows and I looked like Tonto, The Big Giant.

I asked Buzz what he was gonna wear and he said that I was to mind my own bees’ wax. I reckon that meant he didn’t know what he was wearing’ either.

One night, I kinda peeked thru’ Buzz’ window and there he was walking about the house in is Maw’s dress. I kid you not. I knocked the window and he sees me right after his face goes red, real deep red. He chases me down the street in the dress shoutin’ that him and his Maw are the same size and she uses him to sow her dresses up.

“Honest Injun.” When he shouted that I knew he was tellin’ the truth , cause we only say ‘honest injun’ in times of war or emergency. Still he had the whole town watchin’ him as he ran. Some unkind folks called him Elizabeth for a while but it was soon forgot.

I think I made my mind up during Math, one afternoon. I ain’t the countin’ type and I ain’t sure if I’ll ever have a need for countin’. As Buzz says and I have to agree with him – ‘countin’ is as countin’ does’. Don’t ask me what it means, but it sounds like it means somethin’, so I’m happy.

I decided I was gonna double bluff Buzz and I was gonna go as the Lone Ranger. I wanted to be a hero and anyhoo, my mother had bought me the costume and hid it in her bedroom. I only found it when I was being real nosey like.

I looked over at Buzz, in class, and he was drawing somethin’ or other with his tongue hangin’ loose with a life of its own, and his arm around the drawin’ so no one could see what he was doin’. Becky McAllister tried to see what it was thru' her spectacles that had been handed down thru’ her family. I don’t think she needed them and I guess it made her eyesight worse but it was the only thing her Grandmaw had left her and she liked to wear them.

“Miss - Buzz is drawin’ something and it ain’t countin’,” said Becky who always was a snitch up until the day she got arrested for makin’ hooch in her Grandmaw’s bath tub. She was wearin’ her Grandmaw’s old spectacles when she added the wrong stuff to the hooch and killed three folks, stone dead. She asked the Judge to take her Grandmaw’s spectacles into consideration, but he just said she was guilty as anyone he’d seen and was gonna hang. I guess snitches get what’s comin’ to them.

Anyway the Math teacher, grabbed the drawin’ from Buzz and threw it in the basket. I decided to try and get it out of the basket when we were leavin’ class. I stuck my hand in the basket and pulled out a clump of paper. 

I said goodbye to Buzz and walked home. In fact I ran home ‘cause I was real excited to see what he was drawin’.

I got the wrong paper. It was a note by the teacher, she had written about herself – she was always tryin’ to get a boyfriend and she would put little adverts in Mrs Mulhoon’s store on Main street.

This one said “Nice looking lady, early 30s, seeks nice gentleman, no psychos.” I guess she didn’t like it too much on account she had thrown it in the basket.

So back to the story - you’ll never guess what Buzz turned up as on Halloween?  He turned up as Tonto!

bobby stevenson 2013

The Man Who Makes People Happy

There weren’t nothing special ‘bout me. Least ways not so you’d notice. I was born into a family of losers and then it was downhill all the way. I tried, I promise you, I really tried, but I just couldn’t seem to get on with anyone or anything.

I’m just going someway to explain why I am where I am. I’m on the streets - homeless, friendless and lifeless. Don’t think it couldn’t happen to you, ‘cause it could. It’s no more than a hop, skip and jump from successful businessman to a bum asking strangers for money. All I did was blink – okay, and probably made a few bad decisions along the way but people can’t make good ones all the time. It’s not possible, you’ve just got to learn to keep the number of mistakes to a minimum.

One night, I rock up to Sandro’s Café to see if there’s anything to eat. Sometimes he has an old cake or a stale pie that he’s going to tip out on to the streets and he puts it aside for me. That ain’t his real name by the way. Not Sandro, it’s Jimmy and he’s from the east of the city but he’s got a good heart and I think he can call himself whatever he damn well likes.

So I’m looking for Sandro and he’s nowhere. I calls out but I may as well have been shouting down a big black hole. Then I hear a kind of sobbing from the back room. I knocks. Nothing. I knock again. Still nothing.

So kind of brazen like, I open the door.

“He..lo..ho,” I shout and then I hear this sobbing in the corner. Seems that, Jimmy……sorry Sandor’s better half has left him for the guy who delivers the pizza toppings. Since I’ve been sleeping in the fresh air, I tend not to touch anyone anymore; it can lead to all sorts of problems. But I felt that the sobbing coming from Sandro was so deep that I had to put a hand on his shoulder and tell him that everything would be all right. Now here’s where it starts to get strange, there was a kind of warmth travelled from my hand to his body, and the warmer my hand got the brighter the room got.

The next thing I know Sandro is laughing and giggling like he’s swallowed dentist’s gas or something and I’m like..’whoa’. I mean what’s going on? Sandro gets up - says he’s feeling a million dollars and asks me if I would like some fresh cake for a change, and maybe some soup, if I feel like

If I feel like it? I haven’t eaten in two days, so yeh, I feel like it, all right. After a real good feed I go back to the park for a pleasant night’s sleep. 

I wake in the morning to find some guy trying to rob me of my coat; one that I had found under a railway bridge when the owner of the coat, was out and about. So maybe there was a little karma coming back at me from the universe. He goes to hit me in the face when he sees that I’ve have woken up, so I grab his wrist and it happens again. There’s a surge of heat from my hand and this guy must be feeling it. He jumps back and shouts something like ‘holy sh…’ – well you know what I mean. Then a smile starts to give birth on his face and before you know it, the smile is taking over his face, like he’s just had a funny cigarette or something. I don’t want to go into details in case there are kids reading this, so lets just leave it at that.

The guy stands up, shouts ‘hallelujah’ , then kisses me on the cheek. He says he’s never felt so good in his life and gives me some money and tells me to keep the coat – my coat, well it sort of is my coat.

That afternoon, I pass Sandro’s café on the off chance that he might still be in a good mood and there might be something to eat in it for me. I see that his café is really busy and he’s standing in the middle of the floor telling everyone something or other, so I hurry passed real quick.

“There he is, “ shouts Sandro.  I look around and he standing outside the café with about 20 other people and they’re all looking at me.

“He’s a miracle worker. He’s the man who make miracles happen.”

I guess I panic and I start to run. Well you would, wouldn’t you?

 As I’m running down Saffron Street, I start to ask myself how all of this could have happened. Did I bump my head? Was I visited by an alien or an angel? Have I always been this weird and never noticed?

Half way down, there’s a building or something and lots of people going in. Okay, so I never noticed that they were all in black but in I run, sit at the back and hope no one notices me.

It’s a funeral and I’m the only one there in a red coat. Then the wife or sister or mother or friend of the deceased comes in and shakes everyone by the hand. She looks at me and gets kind of upset that I haven’t put my hand out. Then she shakes it and I can feel the warmth seeping into her and then she starts smiling and laughing like she’s on some kind of drug.

It’s then that I realise that there’s a right time and place for a miracle (if that’s what’s happening to me) and this ain’t it. The woman is dancing and laughing all the way down the church and the whole congregation is looking at her, then back at me as if I gave her something.

It suddenly hits me what I should do next, I go around the whole church and shake everyone’s hand. Boy did that funeral turn into a party – they were all dancing in the aisles and I took this as a sign to make a quick exit out the back door.

I went back to my park bench just to hide out and take stock on what was happening. I felt that I would wake up at any moment and it would have all been a dream.

I decided that maybe I could use whatever this was for good before it ran out, so I went to a local children’s hospital with a few toys I had found here and there. They were clean, I washed them in a stream  – I asked the nurse if it was okay to hand them out and she said it was all right. I gave the kids the toys to play with then shook each of their hands. Boy, they were smiling and laughing and were really happy. Maybe I did have something good to give after all.

I am the man who can make people happy.

Perhaps it was a virus or an illness, or a gift from the big man upstairs, whatever it was I didn’t want to look too close and maybe ruin it.

People started coming to the park, night and day, I’ve no idea how they found me, but they found me and wanted me to shake their hands. I would tell them it was 3am but that made no difference - they said that if I didn’t shake their hand then they’d jump off a bridge. Not all of them, but enough of them tried to blackmail me.

It’s funny how I was making all these people happy and no one really said ‘thank you’. Not that I was expecting it, but it’s as if people thought I had this gift and it was their right to have some of it. Perhaps that was true but I couldn’t make one particular person happy and that person was - me.

A journalist turned up offering me money to tell them my story, and although I did need the money I felt that wasn’t why I was given this gift – if that’s indeed what happened.

Then one day one of those talent contests, you know the ones, the type of TV show which makes people cry, asked if I was interested in entering. I would be famous they said, no one has a gift like yours, they said. 

So on I went and people loved me at first. ‘An angel sent from heaven’ was how the Papers wrote about me and then the audience got bored, apparently making people happy wasn’t good television and I was booted off the show.

Then the gutter press ran a story about me, and how making people happy was likely to be an addiction and that I was nothing better than a drug dealer.

A drug dealer – I ask you?  

As the man said on the television - being happy all the time was unnatural and that I was probably the same. I had to leave town and move on.

And now that’s what I do, I keep moving on all the time and wonder if anyone wants to know a man who can make people happy.

bobby stevenson 2013

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

I Ain't Lying

You’re going to tell me it must have been the heat, what with all that wavy-air and all - that I must have been making it up. Photos don’t lie, okay they lie sometimes, like when Aunt Zelda got all her spots and lines removed from her face but most times photos tell it just the way it is. 

I swear to you, on a whole stack of bibles and pancakes (anyone who knows me, knows I don’t lie when I swear on pancakes) that the photo I’m showing you here , is THE genuine photo that I took all by myself. And before you all ask, no I wasn’t drunk, I don’t drink nuthin’ alcoholic on the account that I’m fourteen years of age.

I, Samuel T. Walters, do solemnly swear on a stack of pancakes with Canadian syrup on top – that the photo here is the truth, the whole truth and nuthin’ but the help me....and all the rest.

I tell you one thing for nuthin’, it ain’t a cat or a dog (that was Mrs Sulliven’s suggestion when I showed her the photo) but she can’t see too good, as some days she thinks I’m Molly Schwartz from across the street: which doesn’t say too much about either Molly or me.

So what do you want me to say? That I made it all up? That’s it’s a fake? Well I ain’t, ‘cause I know it’s the truth. Buster pinned me to the sidewalk and tried to twist my ear until I admitted it was all made up. I didn’t even when my ear started making funny ringing noises. I think Buster is just scared of things he don’t understand. ‘Cause everthin’ he don’t understand he beats up or twists their ears. I think he don’t understand lots of things.

So you look at the photo and tell me you know what it is, and if I see ya in the House of Pancakes we can talk some more...don’t forget the syrup.

bobby stevenson 2013

Monday, 21 October 2013

Stories and Such of Love and Hope

Love and Hope

You asked me, my young one, as we sat by the sea
What life had brought to my heart.

“Was it joy, was it sadness,
Was it laughter and tears?
The kindness of lovers?
The friendship through years?
Or the dreams of a life
In a heaven above?”

“It was none of these things,
It was hope,
It was love.”

Brighter Days

The smell of the coffee lured her in and so she sat blowing on the steam from her cup. The war had only been over a handful of weeks but already she felt that things were better. Bravely, she took a sip and looked out over the Boardwalk knowing that what lay ahead were brighter days.

He was going to hitch all the way no matter what his mama said. This was the 1950s: things are a whole lot different mama, we ain’t like you. He packed a small bag, kissed her on both cheeks and headed out the door, by tomorrow he’d be in the same town as Elvis. One bus journey was all that stood between him and brighter days.

He hadn’t asked God for much out of life, well not since the cancer hit his younger brother – and God had been listening that day. He hadn’t really pushed God for anything in recent years, so that was why he was asking him to let England beat Germany and win the 1966 World Cup. He just knew that God had caught that one too; brighter days, indeed.

She’d been walking her kids to school when the plane hit and as they crossed around into the avenue, they could see the flames shooting from the building. She was scared and she wasn’t sure what to do except hold their hands tighter. She tried to remain calm and think of brighter days, just then one of the kids asked why the bird coming from the building was on fire.

He lost everything when the bank went under, everything, the house, the car, his job and no matter how much pleading, his wife. He was working in a car wash now and the depression had disappeared down the drain with the soap suds and water. He had nothing left, let’s be honest, but he had his health and he knew that brighter days lay just up ahead.

It was all we ever needed, the smile of brighter days.


We Need Your Heart To Sing It's Song

Don’t cry too long
My little one
The world is waiting on your smile
Don’t listen to the midnight whispers
It is their way
To make things dark
Don’t feel
That other hearts are hardened
Sometimes they need
To take a rest
Don’t wish that you were someone
This life is only meant to test.
Don’t think
That you are somehow chosen
For all the trials in the world
Don’t cry too long
My little urchin
We need your heart to sing
Its song.

Today Is Going To Be A Great Day

“Today is going to be a great day,” said the little boy
Whose mother unexpectedly opened her eyes
Today is going to be a great day, smiled the old man
As the pain in his hands stopped for a time
Today is going to be a great day, laughed the young mum
As she picked up the money from the street
Today is going to be a great day, thought the doctor
As he put the diamond ring back in his pocket
Ready for the big question
Today is going to be a great day, chuckled the large man
At the bus-stop, with the sun on his face
Who was just happy to be alive,
Today is going to be a great day.


The Luckiest People Alive

When he stood on the hill top and bathed in the sun’s rays, he wanted to celebrate his being alive. So he tapped his toe to the sound of the wind beating on the trees and he smiled.

Then a tune swept inside his head, one from before he could remember - one that his grandmother or great aunt had sung to him as a baby and he tapped his foot.

But his other foot felt it wanted to join in too and so he hummed a tune out loud, one that had made him happy as a boy.

Now he was dancing a little jig at the top of that hill and laughing and laughing and laughing still.

Then he saw his friend, his pal, someone he had known from the start of his life, make his way to the top of the hill and his friend stood beside him and faced the sun.

And his pal started humming a tune that he knew as a boy and they both danced a jig and both laughed and cried for all they had seen and all they had heard in their lives.

When the townsfolk heard the commotion from the hilltop, they ran to see what all the noise was about.

Then they too started to dance and laugh and celebrate all that was good about life.
All of the townsfolk and all of their friends sang the same glorious song to the sky.

And each of them realised that with their friends by their sides, singing and dancing, they were the luckiest people alive.


One Day, My Friend, We'll Soar

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 that 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 shall climb in painless flight,
I’ll let you rest up there, but promise I’ll be back.

Be Who You Are

Be who you are,
Be magnificent,
Be strong,
And except to those who cared too much,
The one who never quite belonged.

Be who you are,
Stand tall, unique
Be grand
The one who smiled at little jokes,
That no one else could understand.

Be who you are,
Let laughter roll the same as tears
Take pleasure in the here and now,
Not in the days or months or years.

Be who you are,
Be loved
And loving everything,
Don’t back away from chance nor dare,
You too will have your song to sing.

Be who you are,
Let happiness and joy
Break through,
The universe was wise enough
To only make the one of you.

bobby stevenson 2013

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Last Of England

The beginning - Aldeburgh Beach, April 1958.

The sky was blood red.

Stanley had been edgy all that day. Or at least, it had seemed that way to Alice ever since she had suggested a picnic on the beach. Now she, Stanley and their seven-year-old daughter, Claire were sitting shivering under a sky that would have delighted any photograph.

They had wanted some privacy, at least that was the way that Stanley had put it and so they had moved along the beach towards Thorpeness. It was all shingles and stones but they did love this part of the country and the sea was performing for them with all its heart.

Alice had laid a tea that her mother would have approved of, while Stanley and Claire searched under rocks for crabs. She called them a few times but the wind seemed to carry her voice off somewhere out to sea. The gulls, which cried overhead, had probably heard her voice more times that day than her family.

But she was happy, or at least content in a very British way. It had been thirteen years since the war and the country was now getting back on its feet. She had a small but important job helping organise the Aldeburgh Festival and Stanley had been teaching at various colleges in Suffolk and Norfolk. Claire, after a few health scares, was now growing into a beautiful young girl.

So why did Alice feel so empty in her stomach? Her mother had always been a victim of depression but had tended to keep out the way of the family during those particularly bad episodes. To Alice’s mother, depression hadn’t been a very British thing to suffer from in public. Sometimes, when Alice pressed her ear against her mother’s bedroom door, she could hear her mother praying or at least talking to God in her own West London style. Her mother did that when she was talking to someone she considered to be important, she would put on a very upper class voice. Alice remembered that it was something her mother had failed to do when she had first met Stanley.

Yet, despite everything that had happened, she still missed her mother. The mother she could talk to any time of the day. She missed that woman more than she could ever tell Stanley. He had woken Alice in the middle of the night, telling her that her mother had gone. He had then turned over and had gone back to sleep. Having just woken, Alice had wondered, at first, where her mother had gone to exactly. Morocco, perhaps? Istanbul? Those were some of her mother’s favourite haunts and ones, which were considered very daring for a widow in the 1950s. But then her mother had been all that and more; she had always been adventurous. Alice felt that her mother had been a little disappointed that Alice hadn’t been more like her.

When Alice had woken properly the night of the ‘phone call, she had realised what Stanley had meant - that her mother had gone for good. Afterwards she had heard Stanley snoring and she wasn’t going to wake him up again to talk about how she was feeling. He was down to teach a class in Ipswich in the morning and that would have meant an early start.

Alice’s father had died in the war.

He had been a scientist or something similar, yet he’d never really told the family what it was he had done. It was while her father was working at some camp in Berkshire that he had met Stanley and brought him home to meet the family. Alice was sure that her father had approved of Stanley and had probably intended him to ask his daughter out. This he had done, and soon they were married. If not in haste, at least in a very short space of time. Love had nothing to do with it, although she had grown accustomed to him and would always miss him when he was away. But this wasn’t really love, not the Wuthering Heights kind. This was a very British marriage where it was better to say nothing and suffocate than bring shame to the family. Alice had said ‘yes’ very quickly, too quickly, in case no one else would ask her.

She had held her breath for so long now that it seemed impossible to remember what fresh air tasted like.

Alice looked up and could see Stanley and Claire heading back. She waved, and her beautiful little daughter waved back with all her might. Claire was a fighter, she had had to fight to stay in the world and nothing was going to take her. Stanley had seen Alice waving but had dropped his head, something he had been doing more frequently.

By the time her family had made it back to the picnic, the wind was whipping up the white horses and causing them to crash onto the shore. The napkins were being blown about and two of them disappeared over the sandbank at the back.

They drank their tea in silence, a behaviour that Stanley had always insisted upon, while they ate the perfectly cut sandwiches filled with cucumber from their own garden.

It was then that Stanley lifted his head and looked out to sea. At least, that is what she remembers telling the police afterwards. There had been a large, red schooner on the horizon and it had seemed to be struggling with the strong winds.

Any normal person would have mentioned the ship’s distress but not Stanley. He had simply wiped the crumbs from his face, stood up and climbed over the sandbank for a better view. At least that is what Alice had assumed and it was another thing she had told the police.

The last time she saw Stanley, he had his hands sheltering his eyes from the harsh wind, eyes, which she assumed, were following the schooner. Claire helped her mother pack up and it was just as Alice was about to ask Stanley to help her with the basket, one that she always found difficult to open - that she noticed he had gone. So had the schooner. Alice asked Claire to run over to the sandbank and fetch her father but he wasn’t there.

From the sandbank, a person could see all the way to Thorpeness, back to Aldeburgh and even a mile or two inland but Stanley had simply vanished off the face of the Earth.

“You sure it was that sudden?” The policeman with the notebook had asked her later and she was absolutely certain that it had been.
The police had searched the beaches and land for several days, the locals had all taken their boats out to help but nothing was found of Stanley. He had simply gone.

What scared Alice was that she felt relieved, at least at first. Maybe he had wanted to disappear. The policeman, Inspector Whitstable, had asked her about their life together and by that, Alice had assumed he was meaning their love life. To her, that meant sex on a Saturday evening and sometimes during the week when they were on holiday. At first she couldn’t get what Whitstable was getting at, but it soon became apparent. Did he have something troubling him? And by that, the policeman had meant another woman.  Or man. She hadn’t even considered that possibility that Stanley was a queer.

If wasn’t sex that was troubling Stanley, then maybe they was money worries. But as she had told the police, her mother had left them comfortable for the rest of their lives. No, he wasn’t suicidal either. If anything, he disapproved of such nonsense. Stanley was conservative through and through and knew one day in his heart that he would have to account to God for his behaviour.

When the Inspector asked about Stanley’s work, Alice had to put admit it was beyond her. She neither knew, nor cared what he did as long as he was a good father to Claire and a good husband to her. Alice, the devoted and loving wife, had even been a suspect and her fingerprints taken, but the suggestion was preposterous. She had a witness in the shape of her beautiful – their beautiful daughter. How quickly Alice seemed to want him dead and buried. He didn’t deserve those thoughts, and Alice quickly brightened up.

She would do all it took to find him. If he had run away, there must have been a reason. Perhaps she was the reason. Perhaps she hadn’t been a good enough wife. Yet hadn’t there always been a meal on the table when he had come home? Hadn’t she always listened to his problems? Hadn’t she always allowed him to lie on top of her when he wanted? What more could a wife do?

bobby stevenson 2013

Friday, 18 October 2013

The Boy

She walked up Branchton Road quicker than was her usual pace. The sky was a deep blue and growing dark. She could smell the smoke from the chimneys on her side of the street and she watched the lights going on in all the rooms. Families getting ready, hanging candy apples, dressing up for Halloween.

She loved the 31st of October, always had since she was a child and now she had children of her own. Her little Sue had decided that she was going to dress as a clown as far back as July and hadn’t changed her mind.

Her favourite game was ‘ducking for apples’; hands behind your back and trying to catch an apple, which was happily bobbing on the water, with your teeth.

When she was younger she loved to go around all the houses and sing her song; It was the same one she sang every year from when she was five years old until, she was sixteen. Then she discovered boys and Halloween lost its attraction until she had her own family.

Now it was just as much fun having the kids come to her door and she insisting on them providing a trick. Many of the kids hadn’t prepared anything as they were always given treats, but she would push them into providing a song, or a joke.

It had been a great night and she’d accompanied her kids around a few friends, then they’d got back home to see a few reluctant kids singing.  It was as she was packing up that the door knocked.

“Who can that be at this time” She whispered to herself as the rest of the family had taken themselves off to bed.

She opened the front door with some treats in her hand to get rid of whomever it was, quickly. There, standing in front of her was a little boy in a false-face and a wooden stick.

“Please, may I come in?” 

She thought about it, then said, “Oh go on then, but be quiet.”  

The little boy walked into the middle of the room and stood there.

“What would you like to do? You see I always want a show from my little fellows.”

“I want to sing a song, if that’s okay?”

She told him it would be okay as long as he was quiet. What harm could it do? A little show to herself was a treat for her.

He sang the most beautiful song about a nightingale, it was so heartbreaking that a tear ran down her face. When she had finished she asked what treats he would like and he asked her for a hug.

“You can have treats as well.”

But he only wanted the hug and then he left. 

She forgot all about the little boy until one day, a few weeks later, she was standing at the bus stop talking to her friend, Annie. 

Her friend pointed out Mrs Scalder who was walking down the other side of the road.  Annie asked if she knew the family but she said that she didn’t. 

“So sad,” said  Annie, her little boy got knocked down and killed on Halloween a few years ago. He was such a lovely little one. Always sang a song about a nightingale.

“Did he ever sing for you?” Asked Annie. 

bobby stevenson 2013

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Thing And The Wise Man

There were two occasions when Thing could recall being really unhappy. The first time was when his mother left to go to hospital and didn’t return (although he still knew she would one day) and the second was when the Wise Man came to town.

Thing still spent most of his days standing on the ledge above his cave and watching the Horizon for his mother. Some days he thought he could see her but it would only be a shadow caused by the sun.

Sometimes he would treat these shadows as being just part of life but on other days, and he wasn’t sure why, he would take himself to the back of the cave and cry his heart away. None of it ever made any sense to him.  She had gone to hospital and had promised to return.

On the days when Thing went to school, he would slide down the mountain side, cross the road and walk as silently as possible. Keeping to the sides so as not to attract too much attention to himself. And for most parts the plan worked. If he was unlucky enough to attract the attention of a larger boy, he would keep his head down and walk fast. Sometimes they caught up with him and called him names. He was called names that came - not from the children’s lips  - but from the parents who had taught their children well in the art of intolerance. Thing had realised that people weren’t born bullies, they were made in homes.

But Thing still had inner strength, all he had to do was remember that he was loved by his mother and he found something deep inside which gave him courage.

Then one bright Friday, a man who walked from town to town and told stories, came to where Thing called home. He was staying at the house of one of the teachers and, as such, had been invited to talk to the whole school, the parents and Thing (who was still waiting on his mother).

The Wise Man talked of love and of tolerance and of consideration and everyone smiled and nodded their heads. But then he said that he had bad news and that it came from the Book Of Records. You didn’t need to take his word for it, for it was written by the Wise Ones before time and therefore it was the solid truth.

“Those who do not look like us are an abomination. For this is an outward sign that they do not think like us,” said the Wise Man while holding both his arms aloft. “And if they do not think like us then they are an evil, and if they are evil then they must be destroyed.” 

Thing wasn’t sure what the Wise Man meant but as he looked around he saw some of the bullies looking in his direction. Thing wondered why anyone would write such things, or more importantly repeat them.

The first rock hit Thing’s head as he was crossing the road to go back up the mountain. It caused a little bleeding but he knew if got home quickly he could wash it off. How he wished his mother was here. The second rock hit him on the back of the head. He was about to turn and see where it came from when he heard chanting of ‘evil…evil…evil..’ and somehow he knew they were talking about him.

He didn’t go to school after the weekend instead he decided it was safer to stay in his cave. Except that the Wise Man came up the mountainside on the Wednesday evening followed by a crowd of people, adults as well as children. They had torches and signs that said ‘Destroy those who do not look like us for they are evil’.  

“We must rid the town of this pestilence,’ said the Wise Man and everyone agreed. Thing moved to the back of the cave and waited on the rocks.

“Help me, mother,” he whispered under his breath. 

Maybe she heard from where ever she was or maybe she didn’t, but a group of people from the town, who Thing had never seen before, came up and blocked the mouth of the cave telling the Wise Man to go home as they were not leaving.

The Wise Man said they would burn as well – it was then that one of the those guarding the cave mentioned that Wise Man was wanted in the next State for causing destruction and that he had deserted his own family. 

People looked at the Wise Man in a new light and wondered if they had been wrong about him.

“What about the Book Of Records?” Shouted the Wise Man.  

But by the then the townsfolk had started to walk down the hill and go home.

Thing learned two things that night. Unhappy people spread unhappiness and there are still good people in the world.

bobby stevenson 2013 

Monday, 14 October 2013


No one will stand by your grave and weep
Nor will they talk of long lost friends
No one will raise a drink nor wish you well
For all the years you spent near by
You were not asked nor were you wanted here

Be sure you have not won the war
This battle has only just begun
We will not rest, nor disappear
Until the day a child asks
“Please tell me, what was cancer?” 

for friends

bobby stevenson 2013