Wednesday, 29 June 2016

A Note Found In A Jacket

6.30am July, 1st 1916, Somme

If I could lay thee down my love,
In a bed of silk and lace,
And a garland for your hair my love,
And a warm wind for your face,
And I would give you ships my love,
And stars to guide you by,
But will not watch you growing old,
And you will not see me die.

Love forever.

bobby stevenson 2016

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Just Love

It’s a very short life, 
And an amazing one, 
Full of miracles and caring,
With a universe or two, or maybe more, thrown in,
All decked out with black holes and sunsets,
And yet you chose to spend it hating,
And loathing, and hitting and shouting,
And name calling and abusing. 
Whatever this is, it's a short life,
And in your hating, 
You've missed the greatest
Experience of your existence,
Don’t hate, just love.

bobby stevenson 2016

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Just Keep Swimming

"I know all of this is crazy Every last crazy second of it And I know that there have been bad times And good times, and times that it hurts so bad that
You feel as if your heart has stopped.
But there has been laughter too, and friendship
And all the silent victories. And love, most importantly, love. No matter what form it has taken.

So yeh, I know it’s crazy,
What with all of this going on
And no reason for any of it,
Yet I’m going give it a try for another day
Just to see what happens."

bobby stevenson 2018

Friday, 17 June 2016

A Child of a Lesser God

The full moon had formed over Thing’s cave 12 times when he decided that enough was enough.

He now realised that his mother and father were not coming back home.
Where ever they were, he hoped with all his heart that they were happy. That night, Thing sat at the mouth of his cave and thought about all the stuff that concerned him.

He needed to get a job since the money and tokens his parents had left in the cave were just about to run out. Thing had done okay at school, especially with counting and numbers. Perhaps he could get a job in the town’s bank. When Thing awoke the next morning he found himself still sitting at the mouth of the cave. He got washed and made his way down the mountainside, crossing the main street and into town.

Thing was used to people staring just because he was different. People didn’t like difference, it frightened them, and frightened people didn’t always behave rationally.
He loved life, and he loved the town where he had gone to school and where he had found (and sometimes lost) friends.
He went to the employment agency to see what job were available. Thing didn’t notice as he entered the office, that everyone stopped and stared. Thing wasn’t the first of his kind who have lived in the town. There had been Thing’s grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and of course, his parents.
All of his family had gone to the northlands where many of the Things had formed a colony. His own parents would have gone there too, was it not for the fact that his mother had taken ill and gone to hospital. The last words his father had said to him was that he was just popping out to see his mother. Neither of them returned, although Thing had spent many sleepless nights waiting and wondering.

He had many good friends in school and some enemies but that wasn’t any different from anyone else. Children learn either love or hate very early in life and rarely do they forget.
The one brave soul in the employment agency asked Thing how he was doing.
“Fine,” said Thing. “Very fine, indeed.”

Thing told the person that he was good at numbers and counting. The agency manager went through many cards, saying ‘no’, ‘no’, ‘no’ to most of them. Then he pulled out a card and exclaimed ‘a-ha’.
The job was at a café near Thing’s old school. He’d remembered the owner being a kind elderly gentleman. As was requested on the card, Thing popped along to the café for an interview.

The old man remembered when Thing’s parents had held a birthday party for him in the café. The old man was happy to give Thing a job and he was able to start immediately.
The following morning Thing almost skipped all the way to work, given that it was such a nice morning and that he enjoyed being at the café. He had company there and people to talk to.
In the middle of the morning, a middle-aged man came in and when he saw Thing, the man said he didn’t want no dirty animal serving him and he expected a human to give him a cup of coffee.

When the old man told the customer that Thing was his new server and that was that, the man said he would be taking his business elsewhere. The old man thought that would be the end of it but it wasn’t. By the time he was ready to shut the café, the middle-aged man was standing outside with several others of his kind and all of them had flaming torches.
“If you don’t put a human behind the counter then we are going to burn the place down.”

Thing told the old man that he was sorry, it was all his fault, and that he wouldn’t return to the café the following day – but the old man just shook his head and said ‘nonsense’.

Then the old man went outside and faced the gang of men intent on burning down his café.
“You men, think that because Thing looks different that he deserves to be treated differently. In fact to be treated as a lesser being that you. Is he a child of a lesser god? I don’t think so. How many of you created yourselves? How many of you brought yourselves to Earth? None of you? I didn’t think so. We are all in this living together and all we can do is live together. It is you with your black hearts and thoughts who are different from the rest of us. The problem is you hide your evil thoughts in a body and brain that looks like everyone else. But you are not like everyone else. You are evil and most of all, stupid. So burn my café down if you want. We will only set up in another place, and yes, Thing will be there too. You people are what is wrong with the world, not Thing, not me.”
And with that the men, one by one, threw down their torches and wandered off. The middle-aged man came forward and spat at Thing. The old man wiped the spit from Thing 
and apologised to him.

“I cannot make an excuse for such a person. They are what they are, and we must exist beside them. Now you go home, have a rest and I will see you tomorrow. We have living to do.”
bobby stevenson 2016

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The Inscription

No one, and I mean no one, had ever seen the likes of the inscription before. It had lain undiscovered in a small cave on the north shore until Roman times.

There were those who thought that it was written by the ancients – whoever they were meant to be. The curious and the deluded, would beat paths to the cave to declare it a work of gods, or for some – that it was from Atlantis.

It was only in the early 21st century, that a programmer from Tennessee, created software intended to break the code. He ran the decipher for almost three years, until it had translated the first five of the six lines – it said:

“We were here, we stood here,
We lived here, and we grew here,
But we made a return to the stars,
From whence we came,
Yet we had to leave them behind…”

There were many attempts to suggest what, or who, had been left behind. Competitions were run, prizes offered. But still the cipher ran for another five years; long after the Tennessee man had gone to meet his maker.

Then one cold, grey Tuesday afternoon, as a young intern kept an eye on the software, the final line was revealed….
“..Our beloved pets: the humanoids”

bobby stevenson 2016

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Dark Matter

As I looked from the bus window I saw the front of the old man’s newspaper. ‘Scientists looking for Dark Matter’
I smiled: if they’d only asked me because, you see, I know.

I remember when I was about ten years of age walking up Orwell Road and there was a priest and a cop outside Mrs Salken’s house. As I passed, their voices were carried off in the warm summer air.
“Can we come in Missus? We’re here on a dark matter.”

Seems her boy Jake had fallen in front of the 7.28.

When my grandmother’s brother, Bertie, was taken away – every time I asked why, they would look at the floor or the roof and just say ‘dark matters that don’t concern you’. As far as I can see there is dark matter everywhere, you don’t have to look very far.

Just knock your neighbour’s door.

bobby stevenson 2016

Stones in a Snowball

Thing was trying to remember when it all changed between the Creek boys at the bottom of the hill and himself. It was probably something to do with that snowball.

In the hot sultry days of summer, Thing and his gang of kids played at the Creek almost every day. In the winter they slid down the mountain snow in races of two or three. Old boxes were used for sitting in and Thing remembers it was the fastest he ever went in his life.

Then around about the time that Jimmy Jones got a new dad the situation began to change. Thing remembered Jimmy calling him ‘a freak’ under his breath. He was never really sure at first but Thing later heard Jimmy telling the other guys the same word and all of them stopped talking when Thing got up beside them.

Then there was a snowball fight and he was sure it wasn’t Jimmy Jones, or Robert, or Pete who threw it but whoever threw it, it hurt really bad. Thing felt a thud on the side of his head, then he saw stars and when he looked down there was red blood dripping on the snow. One of his friends had put a rock inside the snowball and it had walloped him.

Thing was wondering why someone would do that as he sadly walked back up home. Jimmy shouted to the rest of the gang that who ever did that should own up, but no one ever did.

Thing’s mother asked him what had happened and it was then he did a stupid thing. He lied. He told her that he’d slipped during one of the races and she told him he had to be more careful in future. But that lie was a biggie, because it was the first time he had ever done it to his family and he’d done it to hide the shame of what had happened – not that he fully understood it, himself.

Then life got cold between them. Not between members of the gang, you understand; just between the boys and Thing. They had spent their early years in and out of each others’ houses, having sleepovers, laughing and crying and hollering at life then all this happened.

Thing was sitting by the Creek one Saturday morning when the guys passed on the other side. Thing stood and shouted but they didn’t seem to hear him. Then he noticed that they were all off on a fishing trip with Jimmy Jones’ new dad. Jimmy saw Thing was about to wave when Jimmy’s new dad got them all in a circle and whispered something and they all laughed. Jimmy walked on without looking back at Thing.

Thing’s Grandma had told him that it was true what they said about sticks and stones breaking bones but words can never hurt. She said that when she was bullied in school she used to take the names they called her and she would turn them into something beautiful. So the next time that Thing was called a Freak – he took each letter and made it into something good: Fantastic Rock ‘n’ Roll   Exciting And Knowledgeable. Okay Thing admitted he wasn’t Shakespeare and it didn’t kill the pain but it helped a little.

He still couldn’t tell his mother about the name-calling as he knew it would hurt her. He thought about telling the teacher but she always looked so busy, so every time a note landed on his desk with the word ‘Freak’ written on it he would smile, think about what FREAK meant and feel at peace.

Sometime in the autumn the police took Jimmy Jones’ new dad away for beating up the Chinese man next door. Jimmy never mentioned him again and things kind of went back to normal. The boys started playing with Thing again and there were more races down the mountainside but something deep inside Thing had changed. He saw that it didn’t take people much to turn on one another and that stopped him smiling sometimes.

No one ever put a stone in a snowball again but somehow it was always there.

bobby stevenson 2016

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Shadow House

The building was old and smelt of a lonely staleness. As if once upon a time people had thrown a party there and then had closed the door behind themselves.
It had been built to fulfil a dream of a man whose name had been long since forgotten; one who had run out of money before the completion of the place and like his body had begun to turn to dust and rust.

It had lain that way for over fifty years when, Patrick, who had taken the wrong path one day, passed it and decided to buy it. The interior was part Art Deco and part Art Nouveau, part lost and part full of colour and life. It suited Patrick perfectly, because he too had a dream and that was to build a very special museum. One that would be unique – one that would bring tears and joy both at the same time. 

To fill it the way he intended meant that Patrick had to hide in quiet places. He had to sneak into rooms when folks were occupied in other things – he had to search in old huts and sheds where folks had left the things that Patrick was seeking.

He found them. There was no problem with that, because people always left traces of themselves and that would always lead Patrick to a new seam of discovery.
It took him over two years to get the collection together the way that he wanted, and a further year to present them the way he wanted. In the end, exhausted and tired, he looked at his work and it pleased him.

For the opening night, he invited all those from whom he had taken an object – whether they knew or not. Some were amazed, others shocked, some were crying and some laughing, but no one could ignore the beautiful strange building with its beautiful contents.

The corridors were dark, and the walls were white to show off their contents. A man, a woman or a child would go to their exhibit and point :for on the big, impressive walls of the strange building were displayed – in all their glory – the shadows of the people’s’ former selves. Some folks stood next to their shadows and tried to fit into them, but time had moved on.

People looked at who they once were and wondered what had happened to them, to their lives. Some laughed, some cried, some wept, some danced but all were moved to show some emotion when they came face-to-face with their shadows.

Patrick felt his work was now done and that his house of shadows was indeed, complete.
bobby stevenson 2016

Saturday, 4 June 2016

You, kill me.

She was the kinda gal who sashayed where ever she went. Always sashaying and flicking those hips from side to side. She was the best mover in town, everyone said so. Even the Reverend Gascoin, who was a sort of expert in these delicate things.

He enjoyed having opinions on worldly stuff, as long as his boss up above didn’t get to hear about it. I kinda think that the Rev didn’t really understand the Bible.

As for the gal, who was called Helen, she worked at the Teddy Coffee Shop; it was named after President Roosevelt. One day his automobile had a flat tire and he stopped in for a strong, black treacle drink. He apparently said it was the goddamn best cuppa coffee he had ever drunk. Had them serve it at his funeral, I heard. Not sure how true that is, either.

Still you gotta go with what you hear and make your own mind up. Them's the rules.

The café was on a muddy, bumpy road just off the thruway, and the only folks that visited it, were there ‘cause it was accidental. But then the founding father probably took a wrong turn and just decided to stay.

The railway came through in ’86 - 1886 that is and folded thirty years later when the main investor, one General Wade took all the monies and disappeared to Bolivia, or at least that’s the story. Like I say, you can pick and choose what you believe of this short story.

So you’re gonna ask what was so unusual about Helen, the gal who liked to sashay? And you’d be correct to ask the question, ‘cause it’s an interesting one.

You see Helen was my grandmother and on her deathbed she told me a story. When she’d finished, she took one final guttural breath and kissed me and then the world goodbye.

And so I am gonna tell you the story exactly as she told it to me and you can make your own mind up:

“I was working in the Teddy on that particular day, the day when the two gentlemen came to call. It was unusual as we normally had only one customer at a time. But hey, you gotta take the money where you can get it. They didn’t arrive together which made me think that they were trying to have a meet without anyone else over-hearing, if you get what I’m saying. The both asked me what was the special for the day and I told them it was the mac and cheese. They both seemed happy with that. One of them was a real good-looking man with a New England way of talking and when I walked across the floor, he mentioned that I had a nice real way of moving. I took that on board with both hands, I’ll tell ya. The other was a dark, strange-looking fellow, who seemed to be keeping one eye on the door.

I was wiping the counter and that was when I heard the conversation they were having. And this is where I swear it got strange. The good-looking man said that it was true that he was dying of cancer or something. I couldn’t quite hear as they would stop talking when I got close. I couldn’t keep asking if they wanted more coffee as it was starting to look strange. That was when the other asked when he would do it.

It seemed that one man was dying and he wanted the other, a hit man, to shoot the dying man, and that he’d get well paid. He just wasn’t to tell him when it would happen. ‘Let it be a surprise’, the good-looking man said with a grin.

I remember they left a big tip and shook hands, then they drove off in separate cars and in different directions. It was only when I read the papers a few weeks later, that I realised that one of them was the president, and the other was some guy who shot him from a book depository.”

bobby stevenson 2016

Friday, 3 June 2016

This Year's Love

This year some people will leave your life
And new ones will enter
This year some dreams will vanish
And others, not thought of, will come out of the sun
This year you’ll make mistakes
And you’ll survive them all
This year you’ll win some things and you'll lose some things
This year some friends will fail to understand
And some will grow to love you
This year you’ll learn a little more about yourself
Some of it you’ll like and some of it you won’t
This year perhaps you'll cry alone
But you'll also laugh at things you won't explain to  others
This year some of your actions will be misunderstood
But you'll discover that others understand in amazing ways
This year you'll misjudge hearts and situations
And yet find more caring than you ever thought possible
This year you’ll learn to love yourself just that little bit better
And that will be all you’ll need.

bobby stevenson 2016

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

One Night, In 1949

I guess it would be inaccurate to say that the day started with the sun rising, ‘cause it didn’t. They day started under the moonlight, up on the Greendowner Hills. It was early on in 1949 and folks were still trying to get things back in order after the big one. People had started travelling again and that’s exactly what Sean McCoy had done. He’d come in to town to hear the word of the Lord from a young guy called Billy Graham.

Yet in the middle of the night, and a mile or so out-of-town, a leak had started from the Pauxanatent Dam. The water had crossed the road, undermining the poles carrying the electricity into town. It was only a matter of time before the supply would be cut, but no one knew that yet.

Sean had saved up his money and had decided to stay at the one hotel on the main street, that way he’d be rested for the meeting in the big tent out on the edge of town. His mom gave him another 75 cents for an emergency.

Also coming into town on a bus was a man who was just passing through. He was on his way to Washington D.C. to have a meeting with his state senator. The man on the bus was called Archibald McAllister and he ran a gang down in his part of the country. He was used to dressing up in white sheets and scaring the folks who lived in the area.

Seeing that he had a day or so to play with, Archibald thought it was wiser to stay at the hotel in town rather than ride straight on to D.C. and pay the prices that those thieves were asking up there.

These were two different types of men. Archibald thought life was all about appearances and Sean knew it had more to do with what was in a man’s heart.

When Archibald got to town, he found that because of the Prayer Meeting, there wasn’t room to be had, leastways not in the ‘classier’ hotels. So against his better judgement, and telling himself it was only for one night, he took a room in the worst hotel, at the wrong end of town.

Sometime between sundown and midnight, the leak from the dam became a river and that river brought the poles with the telephone lines and the electricity crashing to the road.
Archibald had brought with him a bottle of bourbon whiskey to make the time go faster, and to kill the pain of being on the road. He was just finishing the last of the bottle when the lights went dark in the cheapest hotel in town and as he said:
“You gets what you pay for in this life.”

But what he didn’t know was that the lights were down all over town. Archibald struggled to get up from his bed, and when he succeeded, he tried to light a candle which was sitting in a drawer by the bed. Whatever went wrong - no one could rightly say - but the next thing was, Sean heard the screaming of a man's voice coming from the room next door.

Sean felt his way out of his own door and shouldered open Archibald’s door (who had locked his on account of the kind of hotel he was in). Sean felt his way to the window where there was a vase of flowers and threw the jug of water over Archibald, before wrapping him in the bedclothes. Archibald was moaning but Sean felt that he’d doused the fire in good time. Sean tried to find a doctor but given the chaos that the darkness had brought, he walked back to Archibald’s room and sat with him. He ripped up what he could of the sheets and made bandages. He kept getting water from the sink to help Archibald with his thirst.

Archibald came around some, and started to talk to Sean. In the dark it was hard to imagine what each other looked like. Sean said he would stay with him until it got light and then he’d try and fetch a doctor. Archibald thanked him and said that if he was ever down Charleston way, then he was to be sure to look him up.

When dawn broke, and Archibald was sleeping, Sean left his patient and went looking for the doctor. He sent the doctor to Archibald’s room and in the meantime, Sean packed his case as he had to get back home for work.

The doctor said the Archibald would be better at the hospital and helped him get ready. The doctor would take him in his car.
As the doctor and Archibald left the hotel door, Sean was still sitting waiting on his bus. Archibald seeing that there was a black man in his way asked the doctor to help him to cross the street.

The doctor was just about to tell Archibald who the man was, but by then the Sean had stepped on the bus and was on his way back home.

bobby stevenson 2016

wee bobby

On The Right Tracks

There is a little railway station just north of somewhere and to the east of that other place. And one time in your life, you’ll either have stood waiting on a train there or will have passed through it, I promise you.

The station wasn’t anything special, it just helped people get into the city and received their tired bodies at the end of the day. It had been built in the 1850’s and judging by the architecture, it was a statement to a country with an empire. But things change, and empires fall, and now the station just had a ticket office and a toilet.

It wasn’t small enough that people talked to each other, nor was it big enough to get lost in – it was a station of an awkward size, where people saw the same folks everyday but were standing too far away to communicate. And  so life went on as it always does.

Then one cold November, just after that thing that happened, but just before that other thing was about to occur, Jonathon Nasby came to the station as the Station Manager. Okay, all he did was sell tickets and clean the toilet but that wasn’t going to stop Jonathon – who had once dreamt he was going to be an astronaut or failing that, regenerate into Doctor Who.

At first, Jonathon (who had never been actually told to his face, that life was hard) started singing as he sold the tickets. There were those (as there are always ‘those’) who found the humming and singing a distraction, but for most, it was a little break from the hum-drum of travelling to work.

Then Jonathon started to sing as he announced what trains were going where and the ones which weren’t coming. A few faces would crack a smile while standing on the platform and possibly, one or two would forget about their troubles for a few minutes.

It wasn’t long before Jonathon was telling little stories for the folks who stood, waiting:   about how he had got the job, how he had never been picked for sports’ teams at school and how, despite everything, he felt that a Station Manager was a brilliant job and he wanted to thank everyone who had helped him.

One or two of those waiting broke into applause, and like an Oscar speech, Jonathon decided to thank everyone in his life. One morning, a note was left at the ticket office which just said ‘thank you’ and Jonathon felt that was the best note he had ever been given in his life.

In between the songs, the selling of the tickets, the cleaning of the toilet, and the little speeches, Jonathon started to write his own little stories.

One snowy day when everyone was generally feeling miserable he made this announcement:
“Good day my fellow travellers, I want you to think about your problems. I guess most of you are standing there thinking of them anyway. Now, in your head, give your problems away to someone in the station and you take their problems. Swap yours for theirs. And I know you’ve probably heard it before but I, reckon that if you could really see all their problems, you’d be screaming for your own back.”

Then Jonathon broke into his version of Bohemian Rhapsody (doing all the voices). The station became so popular that people started to change stations and leave from Jonathon’s because it made their day. It got so crowded that sometimes there wasn’t room to move.

The big chiefs on the Railway Board decided to investigate and discovered that Jonathon’s spirit and outlook was just what they needed at one of the big city stations. Soon he started to run the Jonathon Nasby School for Railway Enhancement and Entertainment.Jonathon realised that all people really wanted was someone to tell them that they were okay.

Jonathon is the Prime Minister now and of course broadcasts a song to the entire country every morning. Today the song was the Beatles’ ‘Here Comes the Sun’ and folks in every city, town and hamlet were heard to sing along with him.

bobby stevenson 2016

wee bobby

Zoot and Sandy and the Birds

As always, Sandy the elephant and Zoot the dog were the best of pals in the whole wide world and were sitting by the river.

“Them things in the sky,” said Zoot.
“The birds?” Asked Sandy.
“Yup, the birds, do you think they are happy?”
“I guess so,” said Sandy. “Why wouldn’t they be?”
“I wish I could fly,” said Zoot.

Sandy smiled to himself about flying dogs and then remembered that story about flying elephants.

“Why would you want to do a thing like that – flying , it’s dangerous,” said Sandy.
“Not for the birds, it isn’t.”
“Yeh, but they don’t know any better. Flying is all they know.” Sandy was getting worried about Zoot.
“What’s up, Zoot?”
“I’m fed up being a dog, I want to be able to fly.”
“Don’t you think, that one of those birds is looking down at us and saying, I wish I was an elephant or a dog, so that I can stay on the ground – I’m tired of always flying?”
“I can bet you they do. It’s they way we are all made. Wishing to be something or someone else.”
“I do it all the time,” said Zoot. “I’m always wishing I wasn’t a dog.”
“That’s because being a dog is easy for you, you were born a dog, and despite what you wish for, you’ll probably die a dog. Unless you’ve got a hankering to tie a pair of wings on your back; it’s because you’re a dog, you don’t see how special that is.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” said a confused Zoot.
“We’re all made to be something that’s different from everything else. No matter what you say, Zoot, you’re unique.”
“I am?”
“Of course you are, and more importantly you’re my pal. Do you think I would be friends with just anyone?”
“I guess not,” said Zoot, who was a little more pleased.
“Some are made to fly, some are born to dance, some to sing, some to stand and see the stars. All of us, and I mean all of us, are different from the next thing. Even the leaves on the trees are all different.”
“So what are you saying, Sandy?” Asked Zoot.
“That you were born to be a dog, Zoot, my friend. And even if there is a dog kinda like you in the future, he won’t have been born in this time, knowing me, doing the things we do.”
“Like sitting by the river and talking?”
“Exactly. Too many people…”
“And animals,” added Zoot.
“And animals are unhappy with what they’ve got. But if they could only see that what they’ve got is a miracle then they’d stop wishing to be something else. You are what the universe made you. If you spend your days wishing it away, then you’ve turned your back on the universe. Why would anything want to do that?”
“So I should stop wishing I wasn’t a dog and just be happy.”
“You got it.”
“What about being a rich dog then?” Asked Zoot.
Sandy just looked at his buddy and smiled. That’s why he loved Zoot so much.

bobby stevenson 2016

wee bobby