CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
“And what happened?”
“I decided I didn’t like the sound of the saxophone.”
“So, you just stopped?”
“Well, what was the point of going on?” he told her, pausing here to allow his agitated dog to bark. “It would have been a waste of time.”
“Your hand is cold,” she told him. And for one moment, this was all she was aware of; she was not thinking of the porter, nor the laughing girls, nor her bedsitting room in the nurses’ quarters—where no other soul ever ventured—nor even of Sister Mary’s daily derisive comments and her look of disgust whenever she spotted Clemency and imagined Clemency could not see her—Yes, she also knew Clemency was worthless and unlovable; everyone knew, even the nameless people she passed in the street—no, her mind was not occupied with any of these thoughts; it was simply empty and she just listened.
“And then I spent seven years playing golf,” said Joseph. And he went on—while occasionally tending to his agitated dog—to describe how he became obsessed with improving his handicap; he practiced in every spare moment; it was his last thought at night and first on waking. Then one day he had begun his swing when he paused to let a bird glide across the path of his shot. Its flight was majestic and he was transfixed. The moment seemed to go on for an eternity. And it was while watching that bird’s progress that he started wondering what he was doing there. And by the time he heard his friend’s voice asking if he was all right, he had realized it was all a waste of time. “So,” he told Clemency, “I dropped my club, walked off the course and never played another shot.”
Clemency looked up and saw Sister Mary sweeping through the ward as if being pursued by a swarm of insects. As she passed by, she angrily instructed her to tend to Mister Brunswick then see to Mister Drake and to, “Get a move on!—what have you been doing?”
The next day, Clemency waited until she knew she would have ten minutes undisturbed, then made her way to Joseph’s bedside, smiled and asked, almost in a conspiratorial whisper: “How are you today, Joseph?”
He watched her in silence, apparently not willing to speak. She began tidying his already-tidy locker then he said, while watching no-one in particular: “Is it of value to speak, or is that also a waste of time?”
Clemency started to consider this but before she could reply, he again shackled her, as though he were hanging from a cliff’s edge and she were his last contact with life itself, and he told her, “I have nothing; I’ve done nothing. I’ve wasted my whole life.”
“But you learnt to play the saxophone. I can’t do that.”
“Well, I’m not you.”
Clemency could only agree with this. Joseph’s face seemed feeble and jaundiced but there was no disputing his logic. She asked him what had happened after he stopped playing golf.
But after carefully considering the matter, the constable decided to leak the description to the press (if only because his name was “Will Grass”—he could think of no other reason, but nonetheless, that was good enough for him), so he phoned The Perception Daily Chronicle’s star reporter, Ivor Longnose, and gave him the description, which was that of a middle‑aged, blonde woman.
This was printed in the early‑evening edition of that day’s paper. And Primrose, a few moments ago, on reading this description, found herself (as I have said) spraying her venom over the newspaper (—Incompetence, that’s what it is, twenty‑one murders and they’re looking for a woman—ha—simpletons! that’s what they are).
She sat on her sofa, clenching her fists vindictively round the petition and eyeing all those back issues of her favourite weekly magazine.
The doorbell rang and she stood—still clutching the petition—and crossed vindictively to the door. She opened it and found a frail, white‑haired old woman standing there in a white lab coat. The woman was carrying a wire basket—which was laden with test tubes—slung over her arm like a shopping basket and had an alarming look of urgency about her. She came darting in through the door, pushing passed Primrose while chanting, “Cogitation! Cogitation!—where is it?”
Her eyes darted round the flat, then she hurried—rattling all the way—over to the goldfish bowl, fiddled inside it with her implements, put a test tube back into her basket, then rattled back over to the door, when Thomas (whom Primrose noticed was limping) and Francis arrived at the door and stood there in the doorway. The white‑haired woman bustled through them all, chanting, “Cogitation! Cogitation!” and then vanished clean away, like some elusive apparition that was eternally sought after but remained ultimately ungraspable.
Thomas and Francis looked quizzically at Primrose, who shrugged back at them, then the three of them made their way down to Francis’s car (Thomas having left his car parked near to Francis’s house, it being so painful to drive with his wounded foot), and they set off for the MP’s house to deliver their attack on the constabulary.

Fiction

Stories from a Leaking Mind

Stories from a Leaking Mind
A collection of short stories. Each of the eighteen stories are different in style but all feature a comic, thoughtful and poetic approach to this exploration of the striking inner worlds of these memorable characters. Read more>>

Andrea Segovia Loses Control

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The Price to Pay

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Choosing the Right Drinks

Choosing the Right Drinks
Short story. How do we choose to spend our life? And is our chosen path of any value? Joseph is dying and is troubled by the choices he made in life. Clemency, his nurse, has no answers for him but his turmoil causes her to re-evaluate her own life. Read more>>

My Constant Companion

My Constant Companion
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The Wimpering Beach

The Whimpering Beach
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Irresistible Temptation

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A Substitute Passion

A Substitute Passion
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The Armchair Ballet Dancer

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Fiction Archive

Fiction Archive
A selection of classic fiction by past authors, including short stories, longer fiction, and poetry. Read more>>

The Tragedy of Perception

The Tragedy of Perception
Full-length novel. In a town called Perception, the citizens are ruled by an extravagant madness. The novel is a comic allegory about communication problems. Read more>>

If only Cats could Speak Japanese

If only Cats could Speak Japanese
Short story. Lorna Glover does not know whether her boyfriend has any feelings for her, so she decides to consult the Emotional Detective Agency to try to solve the riddle. Read more>> 

Craig Stemford's Imprisonment

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Short story. Craig Stemford’s life seems like a prison sentence. He meets a new girlfriend on the internet, secretly hoping that she might set him free, but instead he only gains a deeper insight into his sentence. Read more>>

Samuel Pam

Samuel Pam’s Salvation
Short story. Samuel’s life is plagued by strangers who whisper to him unwanted messages of a sexual nature. Read more>>

Shorter works

Shorter works
Short pieces of fiction, poems, prose poems, nonsense poems, or other short pieces of writing that don't seem to fit anywhere else. Read more>>

The Beckoning Precipice

The Beckoning Precipice
Short story. A doctor, who is racked by guilt, is contemplating suicide, but are his misdeeds imaginary? Read more>>

Daniel and the Wine Stain

Daniel and the Wine Stain
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The Betrayal of Jack Baynes

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Short story. Ray Herring recalls his school days and the betrayal of his best friend, Jack Baynes. Read more>>

Thinking Inside the Box

Thinking ‘Inside the Box’
Short story. A burden is thrust upon me, in the manner of a cryptic message. Read more>>

A Martial Artist Meets his Match

A Martial Artist Meets his Match
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Trout with Celery Stuffing

Trout with Celery Stuffing
Short story. I attempt to eat a simple meal in a restaurant but find myself getting deeper and deeper into trouble and unable to negotiate my escape. Read more>>