Delighted to have made the shortlist for this one, being the first poetry competition I’ve entered in a few years. Thanks to Writing Magazine. It will be available to read in a collection called The Crystal Barrel, due for release later this year.
Occasionally, a group of us undertake clean-up operations on the local beach and one day we came across something unusual. The dilapidated shed that had been there for years hidden in the bushes looked different somehow:
We went a little closer to investigate and found something rather wild:
No-one knew what to make of it. As you can imagine, we were all intrigued enough to walk right on up to it:
Someone had meticulously stitched pages of the Bible – mostly from the book of Revelations – with fishing line and suspended them from what remained of the ceiling. Some had been sewn into surrounding bushes, vines and roots, also.
We all stood in silence as the pages fluttered in the summer evening breeze, the sunlight catching the pages and creating strange dancing shadows on the collapsing walls of the shed. Someone finally spoke up:
‘What does it mean?’
No-one had an answer.
That night, I hardly slept and when I did, I dreamt about the shed of Revelations. The next day I knocked on the door of the house that was nearest the shed. A lady answered and I asked if she knew anything about what we’d seen the day before, because we had all found it so intriguing. She went pale and seemed quite upset as she denied any knowledge of it at all before slamming the door in my face.
The next day, it was gone, sadly. Not just the fishing line and the pages from the Bible, but the whole shed razed to the ground.
In a way, it was sad and frustrating, because I would have liked to find out what would drive someone to go to all that trouble. On the other hand, the fact that it was only there for a day or two adds to the mystery and romance of it. Was it meant to be art? A message? A creative cry for help? A warning, even?
Now available on Amazon:
What happens when a disturbed sound engineer snaps?
Patrick McDonagh is a Liverpool sound tech who truly understands the old saying that “silence is golden”. Highly-skilled behind a mixing desk, but undervalued due to his lack of charisma and social graces, he remains forever on the fringes of the music industry, picking up whatever crumbs he can to look after his mother in their terraced house by the docks. What most people don’t know about Patrick is that alongside the guitars, drums, bass and vocals, there has always been the mysterious grey noise and fortunately for everyone in his little black book, he’s always been able to ignore it … Until now.
As he decides whether to exact his well-deserved vengeance upon the lead singer of Summer Seems So Far, the grey noise builds to a crescendo, inciting deadly violence and macabre scenes at their wildest gig yet. Find out whether Patrick survives his jaunt through the Glasgow underworld to fulfil his dark agenda in this rock and roll horror story, written by the author of A Smaller Hell.
‘The nights are really drawing in now, aren’t they?’
‘Nip in the air.’
‘That time of year.’
The old man, who had been stalking me across the desolate golf course with a huge Great Dane, fell silent as he looked out over the estuary.
‘Got to take as much in while we can.’
It was the point when idle chatter transgressed briefly into something else – something that had a whiff of meaning about it. Surely this was not the time and place for meaning? How very un-British of you to accost a stranger in such a fashion, sir. And on a public footpath. I deflected this attempt at talking about stuff that matters with more politeness.
‘I suppose we have.’
I was haunted for days by the feeling that I might well have thrown away an opportunity for enlightenment of an exclusive nature. I cursed myself for being a hypocrite, and for increasing that dying man’s sense of loneliness and alienation. How could I extol the virtues of compassion in my work if I couldn’t manage this small feat of listening and talking to this man for a few more minutes?
I shared my concerns with a close friend on whom I can always rely to be very direct in times of moral or existential crisis. Upon learning that the incident took place at dusk on the Wirral Way, he assuaged all my worries with five words:
‘Probably a flasher anyway, dude.’