A collection of short stories.
These stories are based on a theme of personal and cultural dissonance in urban and suburban Australia. Several have been published in journals and anthologies.
Andrew slid his foot across the spot where the floorboards always creaked and stepped to his place in the wings. He put his eye to the little hole in the canvas. The house was about half full. Not bad for a two hander opening on a Thursday night in an amateur theatre. There was a young couple in the front row, arms linked, studying the programme. They looked vaguely familiar but there was no one he actually recognised. People at work always promised to come but they never did.
The little red light flashed above him. They were about to go up. As the lights began to dim, he took a last peep. Carol Morgan and someone he didn’t know were just taking their seats. His heart thudded against his chin. Heather went on in the blackout and took her position. Andrew rotated his shoulders and took some slow breaths.
They had been rehearsing for five weeks. He wouldn’t be able to count the number of times he had made this entrance. Tonight was the first time he had forgotten the strip of beading across the floor. He tripped and lurched on stage. No one laughed. They must have presumed it was intentional. Or, they were just embarrassed for him. The problem was, Andrew’s character was supposed to enter with slow, studied arrogance. As soon as he spoke, they would know the trip had been an accident. His hands began to sweat. When he spoke, his mouth was dry. It was an innocuous line. It was supposed to be delivered with sarcasm, approaching venom. It sounded like a croak. His face flushed.
He could have recovered. He could have pushed on, established his character and picked up the momentum. If only Carol Morgan hadn’t been in the audience, or, even if he simply hadn’t known she was there.
"THE SWEET FRUITS OF REVENGE
I am Nathan Stone. This is my significant story. Miss Singley, my English teacher says I don't have to show it to anyone. She wants me to express myself without inhibition. It's what she calls reflection. If you could see the actual pages you'd see lots of drawings and tags and stuff before I even started writing.
Loser. Needs to get a life. Wears loud ties with short-sleeved shirts, shorts and long socks. Can't take criticism. All of this came under Important information about our Maths teacher.
One day, I found out Mr Saul’s first name. Another teacher came to our room and in a conversation not intended for student ears I heard him call Mr Saul, Robert. When Mr Saul went back to his desk, I put up my hand and politely asked ‘Sir, is your first name Robert?’
‘Not that it’s any of your business, Stone. As far as you’re concerned my first name is Mister.
‘But sir, can we call you Mr R Saul?’
There was a moment of stunned silence followed by laughter. Saul’s face went red.
I was suspended for two days. It was the second time Saul had me suspended. The first time was when I brought a mop head to school and walked past his room with it on my head. You might wonder why that would have upset him. Answer: he wears a toupee. And was he sensitive about it? Does litmus paper turn red in vinegar? He was the only person I knew who wore his Achilles' heel on his head. The first day after holidays he always came back with about three week’s growth on his face, then the next day he was clean shaven and the toupee had been trimmed to look like he had a proper haircut. Even the other teachers thought it was a joke. I heard them call it “the rug”