CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
Which brings us up to yesterday. Dicky’s behaviour was particularly intolerable the whole day, since one of his most prestigious clients, Dame Harriet Blewit of Mayfair, was in the office, making her will.
Craig came to liken Dicky’s personality to a cloud of locusts buzzing around him, attempting to eat into his sanity. It was fair to say Craig had never hated anyone as much as he now hated Dicky Bright. But he was imprisoned in his partnership with him because he could not afford to buy himself out. While Triple Ex Productions owned the house next to his, Craig was, in effect, about £200,000 in debt—a fact he also dared not reveal to Dicky, since Dicky’s cloud of locusts would have descended on those circumstances as onto a fresh crop of tender young corn. And while enduring his sentence, he also had to conceal from Dicky his discontent, lest Dicky forced him to leave, which would have certainly led to Craig’s financial ruin, probably his professional ruin, and possibly even homelessness. Craig was, well and truly, imprisoned.
Yesterday, he told Dicky he would be bringing Andrea into the office. He asked him not to make his standard joke when he met her. Dicky, of course, dismissed this request as twaddle, but when Craig approached him with Andrea, Dicky did seem to be making an effort to behave normally.
Craig said, “Dicky, this is Andrea Segovia.”
Dicky held out his hand and said, cheerfully, “Oh! do you play guitar?”
Andrea looked sternly at him and said, “No, I do not play guitar.”
Dicky glanced at Craig suspiciously, but then resumed his cheerful demeanour and said, “Oh, I am sorry. Welcome to our practice,” and continued holding out his hand, since he now had no idea what to do with it until Andrea shook it.
Andrea said, sternly, “Everyone thinks I play guitar. It is not polite to make such assumptions.”
Dicky could not believe his ears. He looked down at his hand, which was still held out before him, and wondered what on earth he was going to do with it. He looked back to Craig, and the fleeting suspicion from a moment ago now opened the door of Dicky’s mind, stepped in and took up residence. He was sure Craig was up to something, that he had coached Andrea in some way and was using her to make a fool of him. When Craig discussed Andrea with him, Craig was evasive and only said she was a friend he was helping out by offering her this job. Dicky now wondered how much of this was true, and exactly what Craig was plotting. He looked down at his hand, felt cheated and momentarily out manoeuvred, but resolved he would not be outdone like this. He withdrew his hand and took his resolve back into his office and shut the door.
Craig gave Andrea a desk to sit at and gave her some routine tasks to do. After she completed those, he gave her Dicky’s notes concerning the will of Dame Harriet Blewit of Mayfair. Andrea was to type up and bind the will, which would complete her first morning’s work.
Meanwhile Craig spent the morning preparing for the case he would be defending in court the following day. Though their firm had come to specialize in sex offences, this case was unlike the ones Craig was used to dealing with. A man called James Jones, who was thirty-two and repaired washing machines for a living, was charged with stealing a woman’s dirty underwear from a washing machine he repaired. When Craig first met him, James said, “Just call me J.J.—everyone does. I’m innocent, by the way. I mean, I did it, but they can’t prove it, so that makes me innocent, right?”
There was something about J.J. that made him instantly appealing. It would have been difficult to dislike him. Craig warmed to him instantly and this somehow made him even more determined than usual to do his best to help his client.
Andrea completed her morning’s work and left for lunch. He gave her simple directions on how to get back to Chepstow Villas. It was a ten minute walk between the office and Piccadilly Circus underground, and she was to ride the tube back to Notting Hill Gate underground.
Shortly after lunch, Dicky was called to a local police station to consult with a client. On that day, Dicky was acting as a duty solicitor for the Criminal Defence Service, which meant anyone who was taken to a police station could consult with him free of charge. Though Dicky preferred to be hobnobbing with his prestigious clients, he sometimes did this type of work, since it was an opportunity to flaunt his superiority over the “misguided low-life”, as he fondly referred to them. And the police station that called him was frequented by a high volume of sex offenders, so the odds were that Dicky would enjoy himself. Craig imagined him greeting the client with something like: “I’ve come to get you sorted out properly. Now I’m here, I can correct all your mistakes. Bright by name, brilliant by nature!”
 
In the living room of 52 Niggling Grievance Street, Lily Smithe was sitting in her easy chair, Helen Smithe was sitting at one end of the sofa and Peter Softly was sitting at the other end with his shopping basket placed on the floor beside his feet. Helen had been eyeing Peter from head to foot, and she now started making insinuating comments about transvestites.
Peter lifted the front of his overcoat, pulled out Lily’s letter and told Lily, ‘I’ve come about your letter, Mrs Smithe.’
Helen abruptly stood, said she would make some tea and headed for the kitchen.
Lily started talking, but Peter could not quite get to her meaning. He gave up trying, leant forward, rummaged through the basket and gripped the hatchet’s handle. But then his hand start trembling so much that he wondered whether it was right that he should be contemplating using this weapon.
Lily said, ‘But are you eating enough, Peter?’ She saw that he was bent over that basket, playing with something within it, and she called, ‘Peter!’ He looked up, but distantly—as if he were playing in some playground in his mind, some fantasy playground that was miles from anywhere. She repeated, ‘Are you eating enough?’ He did not respond. She said, ‘I mean, who’s looking after you, Peter?’
He looked back down to the basket and saw the hatchet in his hand. He could now barely hold it; all the strength seemed to have gone from his arm, and the muscles in his arm had begun aching with the effort of holding this great weight in his hand. He dropt the hatchet, took his notepad and pen from the basket and mentioned Lily’s letter to her again. She started saying, ‘There’s crowds of people coming to read the gas meter...’ He wrote this in his pad, so that he could study the words, to try to more clearly understand their meaning. While doing this, he heard her saying something about somebody drinking her tea, and her milk—these people always drank her milk. But he was already frowning at the words on the pad, trying to make sense of them. Then he thought about Sally, about the monster that had so successfully possessed her head, causing them to come to hate each other. He thought about the way it was now impossible for him to battle through her hatred in order to communicate with her—her just shouting incomprehensible things at him whenever he got near her. He thought about her affair with Roland, which he was sure she was only doing to show him how much she hated him. Then he recalled the man he had met earlier, the way the monster in his head had made him try to manipulate Peter into jumping to his tune by trying to make him feel guilty. The man had then said, ‘You’re just the sort of person who causes all the problems. Are you stupid——?’ and he had nodded to indicate that Peter should answer ‘Yes’.
Trying to understand Lily’s words on his pad, and listening to what she was saying now, he knew that she too was possessed by one of those invisible monsters. He looked up at her, and he could almost see the monster inside her head, possessing her personality and working her mouth.
He stood up, placed his shopping basket over his arm and made his way round to the back of Lily’s easy chair. He could still hear her words, which now sounded like mockery, as though the monster in her head were making her mock him—as that other woman who had made comments about transvestites had done. He told her not to worry—he was helping her; he would soon stop them; he knew what to do now——
Lily was sitting with her hands in her lap, smiling proudly and saying, ‘Oh, I am impressed, Peter; you’re so clever now.’
He stood behind her chair, looking down at the back of her head. He could feel the presence of that monster inside that had possessed her, and also all those wrong ideas that were the seeds of yet more and more of these monsters; he could clearly feel all this down there in her head. He reached into the basket and gripped the handle of the hatchet, telling that mocking voice that he knew what to do now—It’s okay; don’t worry. He raised the hatchet above his head, and his hand was now trembling so much that he could hardly hold the hatchet any longer, and he was sure he was about to drop it, but he knew he was about to experience a tremendous release, if only he could keep defying those monsters for a moment longer, only seconds now. He felt his whole body climbing into place up there above him, and just when that weapon had become so heavy that he was sure he could not go on holding it any more, his hand then became steady, rock steady, and the hatchet wedged down into the head, again and again and again.
While this release was taking place, a single thought entered his mind; he saw himself transforming into a malicious dark mist and then engulfing Sally; he could see himself—in the form of this mist—pouring all over her, and he could see the horror in her face as he attacked her again and again and again from inside this mist. But he could not let this happen (—They’re trying to make me behave like them; but I won’t let them; I have to find the seeds before these monsters can make me——), and then he thought he could see the seeds and he started spooning them out with the hatchet’s blade (—Get them out! all of them—stop this horror; you won’t do it again; I have to stop you—it shouldn’t be like this—get them out! out——).
He wiped the hatchet clean on the back of the easy chair and made his way to the kitchen. In there, he saw the back of the second head as the other person stood against the sink. He could hear a woman humming, and also the sound of metal clanking against china. He raised his trembling hand above his head again, and he found that this was so much easier now—now that he knew what that release felt like, and also that he was doing the right thing. Then the hatchet wedged down into this other head, and he tumbled with the head to his knees as the body fell to the floor. He bent over it and continued wedging down into the head, digging for those seeds (—Get them out—stop this horror; it’s wrong! You won’t do it again; I’ll stop you—there they are!—out! get them out! out! out!).

Links

Some links to other sites of literary interest.

Project Gutenberg. The first internet archive of free electronic books. There are now over 25,000 books available free at this site.

eBooks@Adelaide. The University of Adelaide Library’s collection of Web books. The collection includes classic works of Literature, Philosophy, Science, and History.

ReadPrint. Online books, free to read. From all the classic authors, though with some authors, only the most well known of their books are yet added. The books are nicely laid out easy to read.

Complete Works of William Shakespeare. The Web's first edition of the complete works of William Shakespeare. The texts are clearly and simply laid out, making them a joy to read. Navigation within each play is also straightforward.

The Literature Network is a vast store of online texts: books, short stories, poems. The full texts are included but the more popular works are peppered with advertising. If you don't mind that, happy reading.

Gaslight is an archive of classic short stories which were originally published as an internet discussion list. Genres include: mystery, adventure and The Weird.

East of the web. A growing collection of classic and newly-written short stories made available on the Web. Stories are organized by theme: fiction, romance, crime, sci-fi & fantasy, humour, horror, hyperfiction, children's, and nonfiction. Includes works by many famous authors.

George Boeree. This site contains many fascinating nonfiction etexts introducing every aspect of psychology. George's writing is clear and straightforward.

The Internet Classics Archive. An archive of works of classical literature in English translations. The works are mostly Greek and Roman, with some Chinese and Persian works.

Online Magazines

TheAtlantic.com. Current affairs magazine with short stories, essays and poetry. See the archive of short stories.

Narrative Magazine. Fiction, poetry, short short stories, nonfiction, features. Good quality writing. You can subscribe to the site free of charge, which will allow you to read the full text of the stories.

The Oldie. This magazine was created by a previous editor of Private Eye, as: an antidote to youth culture but, more importantly, a magazine with emphasis on good writing, humour and quality illustration.

Zoetrope All-Story. A short story magazine. You can read samples from many of the stories online, but will need to purchase a subscription to read the full text.

3:AM Magazine. Containing fiction, nonfiction, interviews, poetry, opinions.

Resources

How to Write a Story is a blog consisting of articles on how to write.

Refdesk.com. Today's news stories from around the world. And other similar reference material.