The Forgetful Elephant

"... and so they lived happily ever after."

The boy snapped the book shut and looked up at the elephant. "So, what do you think, Tjank'a?"

The old elephant thought a long time, as was his wont, and then replied, "It is a good story, little one.  I particularly liked the ending.  Did you write it yourself?"

The boy nodded vigorously.

"In that case, I think you will go far, little one, but, tell me: the heroine of your tale, what was her name again?"

The boy thought it odd that the elephant would forget anything, but replied, "Little Red Riding Hood."

"Ah, yes," replied the elephant shaking his massive head.  "It was just that it reminded me of a story I had heard before."

The boy frowned with concern - all did not seem well with his old friend.  "Would you like to hear another of my stories?" he asked.

The elephant did, and the boy opened another, larger book, and started to read:

"In the beginning, God..."

For Better or Worse

Seamus did not consider himself a brave man at the best of times, and this was not the best of times.  He wove a nervous, unsteady path through the dark hallway of his little cottage, and carefully climbed the stairs.  The house was silent apart from the heavy ticking of his grandmother's mantelpiece clock. Seamus reached the top of the stairs and turned into his bedroom, where he undressed quietly and slid into bed. The warm haze of the evening's ale enveloped him, and he let out a deep satisfied sigh.

"And what time do you call this?" growled a familiar voice next to him.  Seamus started.

"Aw, Mae, don't be getting all riled up again." he pleaded. “Padraig wanted to celebrate, is all, and bought us all a few rounds.”

“What’s he got to celebrate then?”

“His missus left him.”

"Very funny, Seamus O’Donnell,” hissed his wife. “Useless, feckin’ drunks, all of yous. I don't know why I didn't listen to me mam.  I could have had me a fancy computer programmer like she wanted, but no, I chose the bloody butcher."  She turned angrily to face the other side of the bed and was soon sleeping again.

Little Secrets

The early dawn silence was shattered by the crash of distant cannon fire.  Antoine stirred in his sleep, and then awoke.

"Every morning," he groaned sitting up. "Mon Dieu! How long must this war go on for?"

He felt a hand on his arm and turned to see his wife looking up at him sleepily.  He bent down and kissed her forehead.

"Good morning, my love."

"I am still sleeping," she replied with mock indignation.

He smiled and kissed her again, and then got out of bed, shivering on the cold flagstones as he put on his gown and leather slippers.  He shuffled through to the kitchen to light a fire in the hearth and hang a pot for hot water.  He then opened the shutters and gazed for a while over the sleeping rooftops of Lombard towards the distant, hazy city walls of Réalmont.  He listened to the continuing explosions.

"Poor bastards," he muttered.

His reverie was interrupted by the clattering of hooves on the cobble-stoned street below his house.

That House

My wife wanted the house down the street. “It’s just so perfect,” she would say.

To me it looked just the same as ours, but she would snort when I made that comment, adding some derisory comment about men and the finer things in life. I shrugged, as I have become in the habit of doing lately. Why go into battle when there is a much smoother alternative, that is, to run and hide while the storm rages? The storm did pass, and Fiona did not mention the house down the street for a few days, but then it came.


“Hmmm?” (I was reading my newspaper, and hoping that whatever she wanted, it might go away with a bit of disinterested attention)


I put the paper down and sighed. “What is it, love?”

“That house down the street. Number 32. I want you to go and talk to them.”

“Me? What about?”

“You know very well what about. Find out if they would sell.”

“But surely,” I protested, “if they wanted to sell, then it would be up for sale.”

“Henry, you never know. Maybe they would like a change and don’t even know it.”
I considered returning to my paper, but realised that I was too entangled in this conversation to get out easily.


A Whore Called Drew

I had a friend called Harry.
The fool thought he'd marry
a little whore called Drew,
from whose smile you knew
that she be one of those girls
to grip a man by the short 'n curls,
and crunch them vice-like anew
every time he glanced askew.

I saw him late one day
running from the house, afrai'
chased by the fearsome dame
screaming words I dread to name.
But he winked at me briefly
as if to say, chiefly,
that despite all the dread
she be worth it in bed.