Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Street

In the years between the Wars, those golden years, each August my family would visit my grandmother in Rye; a little town on the south coast of England.

Both her and my grandfather had always lived by the sea. My grandfather, Good Old Charlie (as he was known) had spent his life working at Rye railway station.

Together they had brought up five children. One, my uncle Bertie, never returned from the Somme. There were many families like that in Rye, and in a thousand other places, I’m sure.

My grandmother always smelt of roses, and every time I passed a garden and closed my eyes, I found myself back there, sitting on her knee, feeling safer than I had ever done, or ever would.
That was the perfect time in my life.

On the Sunday morning, we would walk to church, which was up a steep path, and on our return my grandmother would bring out a cake stand, and sitting on top would be the most delicious cake anyone had ever tasted.

On the Sunday afternoon me and my grandmother would walk up Mermaid Street and gaze at all the houses. To me it was the most beautiful street in the world – probably still is.

My grandmother would take my hand and I would ask her all sorts of questions.
“Do you think Heaven will look like Mermaid Street, Grandma?” I asked.
She squeezed my hand tighter and said that Heaven was more beautiful than that, but that Mermaid Street probably looked like the path up to the gates.
When we got to the top of Mermaid Street, I always looked for the gates, but could never find them.

After the second World War, I met my husband and we got married. Every weekend, when we could, we would take a trip to Rye and we would both walk up Mermaid Street. I told my husband about my grandmother and her story about Heaven. My grandmother had left us a few years back, and had walked up Mermaid Street one final time.

One day in June, in 1953, a few months before my daughter was born, my husband took me to Rye and we wandered up the street that leads to Heaven. When we got near the top, he presented me with a set of keys. It was to be ours, a house for the family. A house at the top of Mermaid Street.

One near my grandmother, and one near the gates.

bobby stevenson 2016

The Last House on the Island

My family used to live on an island, except it ain’t there anymore. Now I don’t mean my family – they’re all kicking and rocking in other places. I mean the island disappeared. Sunk.

Way, way back, in the 1600s, my family came over to the New World, and my great-great-great-great (you get the picture, it was a long time ago) grandfather saw this little island in Chesapeake Bay and said that was as far as he was going. Now from what I hear tell, everyone was saying to him that the mainland was only over the bay and then they’d be home and dry (so to speak). 
But he wasn’t having none of it – he said that he was staying right there on the island and no one, not even the good Lord himself was gonna move him.

That’s how my family came to live on the little island in the bay. Within a few years, some of the folks from the mainland came over because of all the fighting with the Injuns – and they settled and soon there was a few good farms on that island. The folks didn’t really need for anything.

Things went good until the Brits showed up. Said that the American people were getting a bit too high and mighty for the King’s liking, and what with not paying taxes and stuff – well we had it coming to us. My family told them that we’d all come from over there, but that wasn’t good enough for them and they burned all the houses down, arrested the kith and kin and put them in a prison in Charleston, South Carolina.

When the Redcoats got sent packing, my family moved back there and started all over again. When the Brits came back to burn down Washington DC in the early 1800s, my family were ready for them and turned them back. This time our houses stayed standing.

During the two great wars there were soldiers and marines stationed on the island just in case some foreigner should try to make it up the Potomac and get the President.
No one ever came.

And all went well right through that century, until the floods came. The sea-level started rising and the houses started getting flooded real bad. One by one, as the water level rose, folks took their families and their farming to higher places, like West Virginia.

We stayed - ours was the last house on the island. The very last.

As my family died off, they had to bury them over on the mainland, but me, I refused to go. I sat at the window of my old place and looked out on the bay that we all loved and cared for. Except it was coming to take back its own.

I’m writing this in the house and they say they are coming to tear it down tomorrow. I’m only hoping that the good Lord sees fit to take me while my home is still here.

Yours, John Wakefield, Holland Island, Chesapeake Bay.

bobby stevenson 2016


Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Strangers On A Rainy Day

It was raining that November day, so they both stood in the doorway of the Parisian café waiting for their chance to make a dash down the avenue.

They were strangers of course, isn’t that always the way. Henri started the conversation first – telling Phillipe that he needed to get going soon. He had a ring waiting at the jewellers – a ring that he was going to use to propose to his lover that very evening.

Henri told Phillipe that he had been waiting for a long, long time to see the band that he was going to attend that evening.

They had both had a couple of glasses of wine. One to give him courage with his proposal, the other to start an evening of music.

It’s funny the way we enter and exit people’s lives. Sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for a lifetime.

As the rain stopped, Henri said goodbye and wished him all the best at his concert.

Phillipe looked at the November sky and smiled as the sun tried to break through.

In a panic he checked his pocket again to make sure the ticket was there – and it was, one ticket to see Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan Theatre.
Phillipe almost skipped all the way down the street.

bobby stevenson 2016

The Boy Who Was Grounded Forever

Nobody believed him.
Not then, not now, not ever, it seemed. He knew he wasn’t lying but then maybe it was all in his head. Maybe he was going the same way his grandmother had gone. She had started talking with people that Jimmy couldn’t see. People who wore dark things and sat in dark corners of his grandmother’s room.

Maybe they were there as well. I mean if his story was true, then why couldn’t his grandmother be telling the truth?
All he had been doing was taking, Harry, his dog, for a walk. They had been up at Creekmore Ridge, Harry had done what he needed to do, and then him and Jimmy ran back down the hill as fast as the two of them possibly could. Harry barked – it was his way of saying that he was with his best pal and the world was good.
They had just come around the back of the old miner’s shack when, Jimmy – and he swears on the Bible that the next bit is true – when Jimmy feels all weird and dizzy. Like he’s going to be sick, and then fall over – the way he felt when his uncle had given him that glass of hooch to drink. Jimmy had crashed out back then, and all his uncle had done was laugh. He’d said that if Jimmy told anyone, no one would believe him, as he was a kid, and uncles are uncles (as if that explained everything).
Jimmy should have known something was wrong ‘cause Harry had started barking the minute they came close to the hut. Jimmy thought it was just probably an old tramp – ‘cause sometimes they slept in the shack between rain storms. But when Jimmy looked through the wooden panels – he saw nothing.
“Be quiet there, Harry,” whispered Jimmy.
But Harry just kept on barking and barking. Then Harry ran away and he had never done anything like that before.
Suddenly Jimmy was floating – floating higher and higher and all the time he was feeling mighty dizzy. Mighty dizzy, indeed.
Then he passed out. The funny thing was, when he came to, he could hear folks talking in English. The crazy dude, with the eyes on either side of his head, told Jimmy that he would hear them speak in his own language.
Jimmy thought that maybe he’d tripped and bumped his head and that all of this was just a stupid dream. When the other dude with the eyes on the side of his head too, leaned over Jimmy and squeezed his nose real hard, Jimmy let out a scream. This told him all he wanted to know that he wasn’t in a dream. Dreams didn’t usually hurt that bad.
The strange folks asked Jimmy to sing a song and all he could think of was Happy Birthday, as he’d sang it to his little brother only last week.
The dudes smiled at him and then turned their heads to the side. Jimmy wanted to know if Harry was here, too, but the weird guys just ignored his question.
Another one of them came over with a tube of some sort and pressed it against Jimmy’s arm. That was when he passed out. The next thing he knows, it’s morning and he’s been sleeping up at the miner’s hut.
When he opens his eyes, standing over him is none other than his pa, who’s real mad. His pa grabs Jimmy by the collar and hauls him up.
He’s shouting about this and that, how his mother has been up all night believing the worst has happened to her boy. Jimmy thinks to himself that being abducted by aliens probably isn’t one of the things, his ma thought about.
It’s when his father says that Jimmy is grounded for the rest of his life, that he feels he has to tell him what really happened.
And that is why Jimmy has been grounded for two lifetimes.
Apparently that story was a bunch of old crock and if that was the best he could come up with, then he wasn’t any son of his pa’s.
So Jimmy’s thinking maybe his uncle did slip some hooch into Jimmy’s glass of milk – the drink he always had before taking Harry for a walk.
He guessed that since he was to be grounded in his room for two lifetimes, then he’d have a lot of time to think.
It was then that Jimmy’s life changed. He had decided he better check his half-drunk glass of milk beside his bed for hooch when a weird thing happened – the glass of milk appeared next to him on the table. Like it had been transported or something on Star Trek or whatever.
Jimmy sniffed the milk and it was okay – or maybe his uncle had been making hooch that don’t smell of nothing. He took a sip and nothing much happened – just good plain milk.
Jimmy looked around his room to see if there was something else he wanted – sure enough, he saw his comic book, and wished he could read it. It happened again, this time it was the book which appeared in front of Jimmy.
“Well, if that ain’t the weirdest,” said Jimmy.
His pa must have heard him, ‘cause he knocked on the door and shouted something about, Jimmy better not be enjoying himself, on account of him thinking hard about lying and stuff to his pa.
Jimmy wished his pa could just be quiet and perhaps be outside in the rain.
When Jimmy looked out the window, there was his pa standing in his pyjamas getting soaking wet in the rain.
Jimmy couldn’t help but laugh. Then it struck him that Jimmy hadn’t seen Harry since the previous night. So Jimmy thought about Harry being in his bedroom and sure enough Harry appeared sitting next to the boy.
Harry barked and Jimmy was sure that Harry was smiling, cause the next thing Jimmy knows, is that Harry and him are outside, going for a walk.
“Did you just do that? ‘Cause I don’t remember thinking that we should go for a walk.”
Jimmy looks at Harry and realizes the Harry can do the things that he can do. Every time Jimmy wishes himself back in his room, Harry wishes Jimmy out for a walk.
“Well, I’ll be,” thought Jimmy. This is going to be trouble.

bobby stevenson 2016

Thursday, 22 September 2016

A Place Called Hope

‘What makes anyone do anything?’

That was what she thought as she stepped off the bus. She hadn’t meant to get off at that particular stop, but the large woman by the window seat had asked to be let out.

The funny thing is that the large woman looked out the window, tutted, and sat down at another seat. Karen was already standing and so decided that the next stop was as good as any a place to leave the bus.

It stopped at the foot of the road leading to the railway station.
At least she could get a train into London, if things didn’t go well. Whatever those things were that she was planning to do. Goodness knows, she didn’t know. Kate hadn’t really had time to think. She had got out of the taxi and was ready to enter the church, she knew Derek, good old dependable Derek, would be standing at the altar waiting on her. The thing is, she wasn’t prepared to marry a dependable soul. She had kissed her father on the cheek and then jumped on the first bus that passed.

As she walked down Station Road, she knew one thing – she needed a drink. Good old Derek never drank. He felt that it stopped his dependability.

The first pub she came to was one called the Old George Inn. There were bikers outside, laughing and joking as if the world was a place to exist without problems. Oh to be one of those people, she thought. Oh to be among them.
At the next corner was a little pub by the name of the Rising Sun. This was her spot, she decided, where she would have a drink.

Inside was a middle-aged woman with a pleasant smile who seemed to be washing her daughter’s face . The mother was spitting on her apron, then using that corner to wipe the child’s face, much to the annoyance of her daughter.
Karen walked to the bar while the woman looked behind to see if there was anyone coming in with her.
“Just you, then?” Asked the bar woman.
“Is that okay?”
“Sure, hun, sure, we get all sorts in this neck of the woods. Now what can I get you dearie?”

Karen asked for a half pint of ale, and sat in the corner by the window. From here, she could see the bridge and the little river.

It was truly amazing; the village was surprising, like an iceberg. From the road it looked a little cold and distance, but once in the centre of the place – it was full to the brim with life.
“Waiting for someone, are you?” Asked the landlady.
“I don’t really know what I’m doing,” said Karen, as a few tears fell from her face.
“Don’t you be crying now dearie,” said the landlady, and she sent her daughter off to find some handkerchiefs.

For the next hour and with no customers, Karen and the landlady, chatted about this and that, until the woman asked what had happened earlier that day, and that was when the floodgates opened.

The landlady poured herself a half of beer and a brandy for Karen.
“You get that down you, then we can see what is what. You can stay here tonight, if needs be. Sarah, my daughter can bunk in with me and you can take her bed.”

And that was how it all started for Karen. She stayed at the Rising Sun, working there at nights and in the afternoons she waitresses at a tea-room along the High Street.

One day, when she was least expecting it, a farmer came in for a drink and fell in love with Karen in a heartbeat.

I hear tell that he is nothing like Derek and that they have five children and three grand-children.
Sometimes, you get off at the stop that was meant.

Okay, I’m going to change the tempo a little, and if I remember correctly, there was a really hot summer back in 1976. It was during those sweltering months that Jake had three passions in his life – football, bikes and beer. He lived in Dartford but liked nothing better than getting on his motorcycle and heading out into the roads of Kent.

He would meet up with a bunch of other motorcycle enthusiasts at the Two Brewers pub in a little village in the valley. Those years, and that summer especially, were the golden years for Jake. The Brewers was the pub where it all happened. Sometimes it might get out of hand, when the bikers and the locals (the ones who mainly cut down trees) would get a bit rowdy and a punch-up might occur. All of it was in good fun.

It was one night, as Jake was heading back to Dartford, that a lorry coming down Shacklands, ran into him and knocked Jake into the side of a tree. At first the doctors thought he wouldn’t walk again, but they didn’t bank on his determination – and on his grandfather.

Jake’s granddad would drive him down to the village he loved so much and let him sit by the river. Jake pretended to fish, but mostly he just sat in peace and quiet and watched the world go by.

One sunny June day, an old friend from the Brewers happened to be passing on his bike, and stopped to say hello. It was then that Jake’s life started to take a turn for the better. His mate, Sam, asked if Jake could make it on to the back of his motorbike.

“Try and stop me,” shouted Jake.

His granddad wasn’t so sure, but hey, life was too short not to give it a try.
Sam drove the bike, with he and Jake on it, past the Brewers and gave a huge thump on his horn as he did. Some of the locals came out to see Jake back where he belonged; on the back of a motorcycle.

Sam didn’t stop there. He drove the bike along the High Street, and then up the path which gave him access to the Cross.
“Should you be doing this?” Shouted Jake.
“Nope, but it feels good. Don’t it?”
And Jake had to admit it did.

Robert was always a kid who smiled. That’s what his parents said. That’s what his teachers said. It was what his friends said.

So when Robert’s dad went to work in New York City in the summer of 2001 and never came home again, Robert’s smile was taken out the back of his house and buried in the same spot that Cuddles his goldfish had been placed.

No one noticed, at least not at first. People were trying to understand what had happened that day in September, and didn’t really see that Robert’s smile train had left the station.

Robert and his dad had been the best of pals. They went everywhere together, and especially to the football. ‘Who would take him now?’ Robert thought a little selfishly.

Sometimes he would go into his father’s wardrobe and take down a shirt and smell it. It reminded him of his dad. His mother had neither been strong or brave enough to clear out his things, and like she had said:
“They haven’t found him yet, so he might still come home.”
He might. Robert said to his mother. He might. Robert told his teacher and his friends.

Then one day, for no apparent reason, Robert ran from his house and headed to the Cross up by the hill. He liked being up there, for that was where he and his dad used to sit and talk and talk.

From there you could see France, his father had told him. Okay, he’d exaggerated, but hey – you nearly could. That was the day that Robert met Annie. She was 83 years of age and still walked up to the Cross every day.
“And I shall continue to, as long as the Lord spares me.”

Annie noticed Robert’s missing smile right away.
“Something you need to tell me, young man?”
Robert shook his head.
“Then why are you looking so glum on a day like this?” She asked.
So Robert told her about how his dad would bring him up by the Cross and how they talked and talked.
“Maybe we could talk,” said Annie.
“About what?” Asked Robert.
“About everything.”

Annie began by telling Robert about the Cross and how, when they first dug it out, it looked all right up close but from the railway station it looked all wrong. So they had to change it a little, so that the eye would be fooled into thinking the Cross was the correct shape.
“And another thing,” she continued.” Did you know that during World War Two, they had to cover the Cross up, on account of the bombers from across the seas using it as a direction pointer straight into London?”

Robert said that he hadn’t ever heard any of those things and that he would tell his dad about them when he came home.

And that was the day, that Annie, an 83-year-old woman, decided that until Robert’s dad came home, she would take care of the boy and that they would both sit up by the Cross and talk and talk.

bobby stevenson 2017

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

When Your Knees Hit The Floor

When your knees hit the floor

Sending ripples up your spine

And breaking loose those angel wings

That you’ve kept hidden

For just this moment.

When your knees hit the floor

Making a cold electric jolt

Which tells you - enough is enough

You have fallen

As far as you are going to.

When your knees hit the floor

And as you look up

All you can see is their smile

A look which says -

They put you there.

When your knees hit the floor

That is when your heart

Breaks free

And pumps the blood

To let you stand again. 

bobby stevenson 2016

Friday, 16 September 2016

The Cloud Walker

I remember reading in a newspaper once, about a family who had lost someone in the dark day of 9/11. There was nothing unique in their story, except for one comment they made. The girl said that her brother had made one last call to his home.

“Everyone was out that day,” she said. “My mother never forgave herself. I guess he only had time to make one call and then…well you know what happened. But he said something real weird. He said he was looking out the window and that he was at peace with himself. My brother, who was as normal as the day is long, said he could see a man looking up at him. A man standing outside, on the clouds. It reminded me of that Twilight Zone movie, when the guy sees the monster eating the ‘plane. Neither my Mom or Dad ever mentioned what my brother had said, but I always remembered.”

Taking what that girl had said as a starting point, I started to research the story, and sure enough, there had been many reported sightings of shadows on clouds. Shadows which looked almost human (or alien). I met a little old man from Glasgow who had lost his wife while they were on holiday in Spain. On the flight home, with his wife’s body in the hold below, he told me he had seen a figure standing on the clouds.

“At first, I thought it was her, Jeanie, my wife, but I soon realised it looked almost like an angel. That’s not to say that Jeanine wasn’t an angel – well sometimes – no, but I got the feeling it was someone or something that had come to let me know things were okay. You’re probably thinking I’m a stupid old man, that I was grieving, but I’m telling you what I saw.”

I interviewed hundreds of people; folks with no axe to grind, men and women with nothing to gain, and they all reported the same phenomenon. The figure on the clouds. The Cloud Walker.

If you’re expecting me in this short story to tell you what it is, well I think it might be better if we have a meeting someday and I’ll tell you what I think.

Next time you are on a flight to somewhere, have a look out of the window. If you see a Cloud Walker, there might be a good reason, why.

bobby stevenson 2016
Photo Copyright; Nick O'Donoghue.

Friday, 9 September 2016


Even although I’m writing this on my deathbed, you’re probably still not going to believe me but I have to tell someone. It’s about what we discovered back then. Long before Neil Armstrong and all the rest of those suckers stepped on the Moon.

It must have started around the time I heard my first Elvis’ record. The world was changing, what we knew was changing fast and I was doing my darndest to keep up. Not easy when you’re twenty-one years old and you already have a one-year old son.

What can I tell you about me back then? I loved my wife, my family, mathematic, and space. I hailed from Lansdale, PA and had gone to school in Boston to study Astrophysics. At college I met old Professor Tyburn. Some thought him past it, that his theories on the Moon were debunked – but I tell you what? I believed him, every last satellite busting, crazy thought that ran through that man’s head. I would have bet my life on it, and on him.

The more I worked alongside him, the more I realized that his calculations were spot on. There weren’t any errors. What he said had to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but.

And it all came down to this one statement: the moon wasn’t a natural satellite of Earth, the Moon had been put there by someone or something.

There were conspiracy theories, a-go-go, about our nearest heavenly body. The first and oldest was about the craters on the Moon. How they all had different widths – which you would expect from differing size objects hitting the Moon at differing speeds.

Where the problem was – was the depth of the impacts. They should have all been of various readings. But they weren’t - they were all the same depth. Let me write that again, they were all the same depth, added to which they weren’t very deep.

The Prof used to sum it up nicely: “Imagine a snowball with an iron core,” he would say.
“What you are saying, Professor Tyburn, - that the Moon is an iron ball?” I asked.
“Precisely, but what is inside that ball? Eh? Tell me that, young man.”

The one thing that is seriously wrong with the Moon, is the math (or if you’re in the UK, the maths). It doesn’t add up. See what I did there?  It shouldn’t be where it is.

It is in a perfect spot, to allow life on Earth. The way it causes the planet to tilt a little, allowing seasons, allowing weather, allowing tides.

Tyburn knew all of this, but what he couldn’t say was why. Why has a hollow satellite been placed where it has?

The most troubling point is the fact that the Moon can create a perfect eclipse of the Sun. The ratio of distance between all three bodies is perfect.

The Moon only points in one direction to the Earth, nothing else in the Solar System does this. The Moon material, ‘the snow’, is far, far older than anything on Earth.

And now the point of the letter. To warn you, to warn you all. Tyburn noticed that there were also deeper craters – he called them ‘breathing holes’ and that is probably what they are. There have been photos taken of ‘anomalies’ at the mouth of those holes. Look them up on the ‘Net. Creatures? Who knows – but the problem is this: if the Moon isn’t a natural body, and they are watching from inside, then when we step out of line will they come to Earth? Have they done it before?

Professor Tyburn thought it was only a matter of time. So the next night you are under a Harvest Moon – ask yourself, is it you that will be harvested?

Keep watching, because God knows they are, and maybe Google 'Hollow Moon'.
You must believe.
bobby stevenson 2016

Monday, 5 September 2016

Cracked Hearts & Walking Wounded

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 anymore. 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 anymore 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. 

The Walking Wounded

Sally Anne leaves the house at number 17 with her heart almost bursting through her chest.

She’s pregnant, ‘with child’ as she read somewhere - just like the girl who was on the cover of  that magazine – Sally’s really really happy, she’s already deciding how her new home will look. She only found out while her Mum was making the toast and tea and the little line turned blue.

At number 22, the curtains twitch as Sam Lot watches his little distraction, Sally, walking down the street - bless her. Tonight’s the night he’s going to have to tell her it’s over; his wife is beginning to suspect.

The Hammerston twins, Fred and Irene at number 31 leave together, saying ‘good morning’ together to everyone they meet. As they run up the street for the West Town bus, Irene wonders how she’s going to tell her brother about her job up north.

Next door in number 33, Geraldine paces the floor – ‘born worrying, die worrying’ her mother used to tell the neighbours. But the lump on her breast makes her pace faster.

‘Lucky’ Jim turns into the street after finishing another night shift at the old plastic Works. He knows it has its bonuses - Jim had no trouble finding stuff to wrap his wife up in. And every morning when he finishes work he buys a newspaper, ten menthol cigarettes from the corner shop and wonders if this will be the day they find her.

In the little shop on the corner, Andy, the milkman, delivers another crate of cream and then creeps out having failed to ask Matilda - who works there – if she’d like to go to the park on Sunday.

Matilda’s heart is almost bursting through her chest as she waits for Andy to ask.

And Hugh, big strong Hugh from number 36, can’t tell anyone (not even his best friend) that his black eyes - which he covers with his wife’s makeup - are not from playing sports. She’s warned him, if he acts like a child then he must be punished like one.

He’s hidden the packed bag in the shed for the day he leaves her.

At the white house on the corner, Alice takes in gentleman callers until her husband gets back from a far off land.

And in the bus shelter Eddie drinks a can, not to brighten the dull day but to tone down the colours.

And from every house on the street comes the screech of silent screaming.

Only the dogs can hear.

bobby stevenson 2016