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Twenty-Five Tenpenny Tales
Brindley Hallam Dennis
A collection of twenty five flash fictions. "It frightened him when she walked out alone like that in the early evenings and in the mornings. Sometimes he watched her from the upstairs windows, a flickering upright between the hedgerow trees beyond fields. She ranged a little further every time, in widening circuits of the empty space between them. Sometimes he tried to follow her, though not to catch her up, and by the time he’d put his coat on and the heavy shoes – the fields and tracks were often wet and muddy after rain – she was too far ahead for him even to be sure that he was following; not merely walking in his own unravelling circles. Sometimes, when walking out like that he knew that she was one side or another of him, perhaps ahead, and felt they were like planets in their orbits, or rather comets. Their orbits were not perfect circles around the house, but stretched, elongated ellipses. Sometimes when he walked, searching for glimpses of her through the trees along the rides and lanes, he would glance back towards the house and see it setting like a sun, glinting in the early morning light or lit with yellow panes at evening in its deep cut windows..."
The Night Study
A Danish painter is driven into exile by his father. But he can never escape the chains of the family's dark secrets. "I watched the face of the man who could destroy me and, even then, I remember thinking what a fine composition this room would make. The mighty bookcases indistinct in the darkness, the fire in the grate, illuminating the faces of the two men drinking but clearly having no care or regard for each other. I had never been good enough for my father but I could always trust my younger sister to act as a bridge between him and me. It was to her that I could show my paintings, before my father destroyed them. When my father insisted that I go into the family business, that was when I knew I had to leave. But at regular intervals I would row over the lake to see her when my father was away. When she told me he was making her marry his old business partner I wanted to go and confront him but I did not really have the courage and was too easily persuaded by my sweet sister not to do anything. On the night of the wedding I stayed on the other side of the lake, looking at my old home lit up in festivity. As the music died I rowed over to where I knew my sister would be waiting. That night we said our last farewells, for the next day she would be leaving for Copenhagen. I knew the composition we made was beautiful. Angrily I threw myself into painting, feeding on my melancholy. I tried a palette of blacks and greys but could not cope with these. Instead I painted the summer fields of my childhood, all greens and yellows and a bright blue sky. I despised my weakness. Even more so when I was taken up by the London art market, my bright daubs becoming popular with the bourgeoisie because enough influential critics liked them..."
What if the dead could apologise for leaving you? "The first thing you have to take in – if you're fairly young, that is – what you have to try to imagine is a world where people never heard anything from anyone among the departed. There was no message, not of any type … So, from a world in which there was no such communication, to one in which sooner or later just about everyone would get word. When the phone calls started it was amazing…"
Home to Roost and Other Stories
JD Mac Namara
A collection of almost true stories concerning the doings, nefarious and otherwise, of the unique people of Erris, where the next parish west is America and where nothing is quite as one might expect... "Erris is a land on the edge of northern Europe and one of its least inhabited regions. It is regarded as a mysterious land alive with legends; legends which have been preserved and embellished through the centuries by its uniquely independent people. In his book ‘A tour in Ireland 1775’ Richard Twiss wrote’ I did not visit Erris since it is inhabited by some form of savage native and there are no roads.’ The people are far from savage and these days Erris has a few roads. Erris has vast stretches of unspoilt bog land, golden beaches and coves, secluded bays, crystal clear streams and lakes magical landscapes and spectacular cliffs. Gaelic dialect is spoken by some as their first language but when strangers are around the craic is in an English which can be pure poetry. Erris is a land of turf smoke, good strong tea, Guinness, Whiskey, both legal and illegal, soda bread, warm hospitality and a great welcome for strangers lucky enough to visit what used to be known as the back of beyond. The back of beyond it is no more, Knock has an international airport and even Belmullet has a death defying airstrip for bold pilots. The main highway has improved thanks to the European Union and there is even a fine golf links and a luxury hotel in Belmullet. But most of all, Erris is the sum of its people. Long may they thrive..."
The War Hero the Film Star and the Footman and Another Story
"When Frederick came home from work one day there was a strange bike leaning against the porch. He cussed; the last thing he wanted was having to be polite to visitors after a hard day in the fields. "As his eyes became accustomed to the gloom of the kitchen he found himself being stared at by a middle aged man. He was wearing a better suit than normally seen in the village and the best china was out. ""They said you were a beanpole and they didn't lie." the main said approvingly."
It's Hallowe'en and the residents of Sexton Way gather for a street party. At the other end of the street the rusty gate to the graveyard remained padlocked, but failed to keep out the ghost hunters who, despite video cameras with night vision, caught nothing of the inhabitants as their spirits rose to join the party.'
Brindley Hallam Dennis
Morning walks, an irrational fear, and a story of past, lethal transgression revealed. "A few years ago I took a cottage in West Cumbria for a week to get some peace and quiet while I worked my way through a large number of documents. I'd been called in as a specialist by the legal team of a multi-national that was defending itself against a negligence claim. Finding the smallest shred of evidence to suggest that the so-called victims have contributed to the disaster can save you thousands in damages, tens of thousands, millions even, if it's a class action. The cottage was one of three old quarrymen's cottages sitting on a hillside beyond Rowrah in the back of end of nowhere, where the remains of old railway lines wind their way between the rounded foothills of the English Lake District. I worked long hours that week, breaking off for a sandwich at lunchtime, and driving down to the local pub for supper, and then doing another couple of hours before I turned in. One treat I allowed myself was a brisk walk in the mornings, after dawn, but before the sun had crested the curved summit of the hill behind the cottage..."