When I first started writing fiction, the first place I approached was Rob McEvily’s Six Sentence website. The site went dark for a while but now it’s back! So, check it out, if you have the chance.
So, here are 6 of my Six Sentence yarns that appeared on the site.
Lenny Cray had always thought that the quest for experience was a vital part of a man’s learning curve and so, throughout his life, whenever a window of opportunity opened up, he jumped straight through, headfirst if necessary. And at times he just kicked the bugger in. But teetering on the precipice of middle age, Lenny was slowly overcome with doubt, a pronounced lack of self-confidence, even a fear of the consequences of his actions. Which was around the time that Lenny discovered the writings of G.I. Gurdjieff a philosopher and mystic who believed that most people lived their lives in a ‘waking sleep’ that they needed to waken from. For Lenny it was as if the doors of perception had been opened wide for him and he devoured Gurdjieff’s works with all the enthusiasm of a Weightwatchers attendee in an all-you-can-eat buffet. Although he was well aware that it was a radical reaction to Gurdjieff’s work, Lenny decided to break free from his own ‘waking sleep’ by sitting at the top of a tall building and shooting passers-by, an experiment that proved remarkably successful, until he was fatally shot in the head by an insomniac police marksman that was just finishing his night shift.
Oliver Peacock had often thought that there was an art to being in the right place at the right time and that life was more than simply a matter of chance, of luck. He supposed he put it down to his late father repeatedly telling him that people made their own luck in the world or perhaps he put it down to experience. After all, Oliver was well aware that the few movers and shakers that he’d encountered over the years had been complete and utter bastards, rather than passive mellow fellows. Robert ‘Liberty’ Valance fit into the former category of course which was one of the reasons that Oliver decided to kill him. Dark clouds spread across the granite grey sky like a cancer as Liberty Valance left Duffy’s Bar, as drunk as a skunk and holding onto Big Barry – one of his regular drinking cronies – for support. Indeed, the inebriated Liberty Valance was the proverbial sitting duck and it really was unfortunate then that a loud thunder crack startled Oliver who accidently shot Big Barry in the buttocks although, as he reasoned to himself later that night, the fat man was a complete and utter bastard, too.
Despite it being the beginning of spring, a time when a young man’s fancy was said to turn… a tad carnal, Henry Becket was quite firm when he refused his friend’s offer to attend an orgy. He was well aware that Allan had made the suggestion out of a combination of pity – Henry had been divorced and single for many years – and pride at he himself being invited to the Bacchanalian event. But Henry said no. He justified his refusal in various ways, including faux-morality and a fake pride, but the truth of the matter was that Henry Becket didn’t want anyone to gaze upon on his fading, flabby body and burst out laughing. When it eventually transpired that the orgy’s actual attendees had been pistol whipped and robbed in flagrant by the Albanian gangsters that had organised the event, Henry was a tad ashamed to say that had wallowed in a brief moment of schadenfreude. But, still, it was nice to have been asked, anyway.
The January night had long since waned when Mika blasted Aki’s brains over the snow covered street, producing a more than passable Rorschach test. A murder of crows sliced through the whiteness as the purr of the passing motorcycle grew to a roar, masking the sound of the shotgun. When day eventually melted into night, the moon hung fat and gibbous, the bloodstains now black in the moonlight. Mika draped Aki’s cold, dead skin over his own pallid flesh as, shivering, he breathed in the scent of cheap aftershave, cigarettes and booze. Sour memories trampled over his thoughts with bloodstained feet. Together forever he rasped, as tears filled his bloodshot eyes.
Angie and Peter had been joined at the waist for just over a year before the cracks started appearing in what Peter had, until then, considered to be, at least for him, a fairly solid relationship, despite it’s sporadically psychotic episodes, which were invariable acerbated by copious amounts of alcohol. It was as winter melted into spring that the foundations of the house of love started to shake, a time that coincided with the reappearance of a blast from Angie’s past in the corpulent shape of her erstwhile fiancé Billy Carr. As the months wore on, Peter’s temper was increasingly inflamed by Billy and Angie’s shameless flirting and so it was that one wet and windy night in May, after a particularly prolific drinking session, that he challenged Billy to what, once upon a time, would have been referred to as a duel and they both ended up in a dark and dingy alley, outside the Methodist church, stripped to the waist in the pouring rain, only illuminated by the light from a stained glass window. Billy bopped around like Mohammad Ali, albeit a fat white and wheezy Ali, as Peter took off his horn rimmed glasses and carefully placed them on a wheelie bin for safekeeping only to turn around and be sucker punched by a big pink blancmange which sent him hurtling into a pile of black bin bags that spilled their rancid contents across the alley. “And let that be a lesson to you,” Peter said to Billy who was towering over him like a gloating Godzilla over a demolished Tokyo. “Wanker,” replied puffing Billy before triumphantly waddling off, hand in glove with Angie, leaving Peter to light a cigarette, lay back, close his eyes and inhale deeply in a manner that he hoped was reminiscent of Jean-Paul Belmondo at the close of Jean-Luc Godard’s À Bout de Souffle.
When I think about it, my most vivid and powerful memories of childhood are in black and white. The monochrome of the Saturday morning Odeon’s Kidz-Klub, and the Hollywood films on afternoon television, seemed so much more vibrant than anything that real life could come up with. And, as you would expect of someone who grew up living more fully in his imagination than in the day-to-day, adulthood proved to be a series of disappointments and non-events. Nightclubs, for example, were, in my mind, bustling with tough guys in pinstriped suits, wise-cracking cigarettes girls and sultry Femme Fatales belting out torch songs on a Chiaroscuro lit stage. So, when I eventually stumbled into the grim reality of sticky carpets, overflowing toilets and beer bellied men with no necks and faces like blackcurrant crumbles staggering around a smoky, pokey dance floor with leathery, bottle blondes, while has-been DJs played has-been tunes, my heart sank like the Titanic. And now, every weekend, with Sisyphean resignation, I drag myself to work behind the bar in Astros Nite-Spot where only the splashes of blood that the regulars spill as casually as their watery lager brighten up an otherwise dreary and uniform night and no, the irony of this situation has not escaped me.