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RACING WITH THE RAIN (2012) by Ken Puddicombe

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JUNTA (2014) by Ken Puddicombe

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DOWN INDEPENDENCE BOULEVARD AND OTHER STORIES (2017) by Ken Puddicombe


PERFECT EXECUTION AND OTHER STORIES (2017) by Michael Joll

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PEOPLE OF GUYANA by Ian McDonald and Peter Jailall (2018)

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DANCING MY WAY TO 80 (2019 Private Publication) by Doris Naraine

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WITNESSES AND OTHER STORIES (2019) by Raymond Holmes

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INSPECTOR MASTERS INVESTIGATES PERSONS OF INTEREST (2019) by Michael Joll

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Raymond Holmes: Writing

Ray Holmes

Raymond Holmes in Brampton, Ontario.  He writes plays, novellas and short stories. His stories have been published in Unleashed Ink, an anthology created by the Barrie Writers Club, The Northern Appeal, a Simcoe County literary magazine and Commuterlit, a Toronto based ezine. His plays Boris and Hermanand The Lonely Vigil Of Emily Baxterhave been performed at the South Simcoe Theatre in Cookstown, Ontario. The latter play was awarded third prize in the 2014 Ottawa Little Theatre Playwriting Contest. His play The Pooman, will be read at the South Simcoe Theatre in June, 2018. Raymond also enjoys making furniture and playing the violin, although he admits to performing the latter activity rather poorly.

 

GOING HOME

What I am about to tell you is true. I swear it.

At first, I thought it was a dream during a period of restless sleep later that night, or the product of an imagination distorted by the exhausting double shift, but now I’m convinced it really happened.

It occurred on September 28, 2017, a rainy night. I’ve been a cab driver for twenty-five years. I like my job, but it’s tough slogging: long hours, all kinds of weather, traffic jams, cooped up in what seems, at times, like a mobile sardine can. On the plus side, meeting people is the best part of the job. It helps if you like your fellow human beings.

Most fares are decent souls, but there’s the odd drunk or disgruntled individual to deal with. Early on, a cabby learns to accept people for who they are. Encounters are brief and annoyances, for the most part, are dust to be brushed away and forgotten.

Out-of-the-ordinary events do occur, but nothing like what happened on that wet, cold evening last fall…

white sedan during nighttime

Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric on Pexels.com

It rained all day and into the evening. The axiom More rain equals more fares and more money wasn’t in effect that night.

Cab drivers always pray for rain. No one likes to get wet and if you don’t have your own vehicle the only options are to use an umbrella or take a cab. People don’t seem to like umbrellas.

The downpour fell across the black top like a drifting curtain, dancing whichever way the wind urged it. Islands of golden light shimmered on the surface, breaking into pieces then re-connecting again as the wind moved tree branches back and forth across the yellow gleam of the street lamps. The tires of the cab emitted a coarse whisper over the deserted, wet road. Brilliant flashes of lightning hung in the sky like twisted knives, followed by drumbeats of thunder.

The radio was silent, punctuated by intermittent static.

“Need a car for area four,” the dispatcher said.

Couldn’t take the fare. I was in area six.

No street pickups and no radio calls. Enough driving for one evening, I decided.

On the way home, I noticed a short, solitary figure standing at the corner of Belmont Street and Middle Road under a tent of light cast by the street lamp. I stopped the car and watched. The person wore a long-sleeved hoodie and track pants, arms clasped against the chest. I could see the sheen of water-saturated clothing and rain dripping from the elbows. Who would stand outside in this deluge? The sight sent shivers up and down my cramped back muscles.

The bus in this area ran on the hour and it was ten past—a long wait for the next one. Could it be a fare? Even people who rarely used cabs often got tired of waiting in inclement conditions. I held back. Mike in car number 457 was robbed a month ago by someone with a similar description. Maybe this person’s a druggie. Perhaps I should keep going. The figure had a slight build. A youth, perhaps? It was a terrible night; unfit for man or beast. I’d be grateful if someone stopped to pick up my child in this kind of weather. It wouldn’t be right to just drive away.

 I stopped and lowered the glass on the front passenger power window. I kept the doors locked until I could see the face. You can tell a lot by how they look. Addicts have a wild, desperate appearance. Crooks and thugs look mean and threatening.

The person was motionless, head bowed. The face wasn’t visible through the gap bordered by the folds of the hood.

 “Lousy night. Need a cab?” I said.

As the head lifted, the dripping edges of the hood parted to reveal the pale, round face of a young woman. The tension in my hands relaxed. She bent down to look in at me but didn’t reply.

“Hate to see you standing out here alone, soaking wet.”

She stared for a few moments. I expected her to decline, but she said, “Yes, I would like a ride.”

The voice was soft and even. Her teeth should have been chattering from the soggy chill, but in spite of being drenched by cold water, she didn’t appear to be uncomfortable.

I unlocked the doors and waited, but she made no move to enter the car.

“Sorry. Forgot my manners for a moment,” I said, before jumping out and opening the rear door. Doing that for customers was a long-lost courtesy in the taxi business.

She slid into the back seat. Good thing it was vinyl covered. Wet cloth seats are a bitch to dry out this time of year. I got back in and took a tissue to my rain-spotted glasses.

“Where can I take you?”

“I want to go home,” she said, in a plaintive tone that reminded me of a tired child about to burst into tears.

“Where’s that?”

She hesitated, as if unsure. “It’s Twenty-three Stone Gate Circle—in Bennington.”

Hadn’t been to that address before. After turning on the meter and tapping the address into the GPS, I pulled away. “Okay. That neighbourhood’s not far from here,” I said, noting the time and distance displayed.

Our eyes met in the rear-view mirror. The hood dropped to her shoulders, revealing strands of long, straight blond hair streaked darker with wetness. As she leaned back, the soaked fabric hugged the curves of her upper body.

Her face appeared devoid of makeup, including the bow lips, and the most remarkable thing about it was the skin—whiter and clearer than any I’ve seen—the pallor relieved only by bright, round, green eyes fixed on mine. With a hand the colour of a white cloud she brushed stringy tresses from her cheeks and wiped her forehead. How old was this attractive young woman? Sixteen, seventeen, perhaps?

She looked around the inside of the car, as if riding in a vehicle was a novelty. I’d had all sorts of women passengers: prim professionals dressed in neat suits, young, provocatively dressed flirty ones, faded middle-aged housewives, gabby washed-out old women and everything in between, but nothing like her—a captivating, mysterious presence.

Many of my fellow drivers didn’t talk to customers except to ask where they were going and announce the fare at the end of the run, but I always tried to connect. People liked to talk about themselves, and some were interesting. This young woman had vulnerability written all over her. Despite my initial misgivings, I was glad I stopped.

“What’s your name young lady?” I said.

She continued to stare at me. I shouldn’t have started by asking a personal question. You had to be careful what you said to women. “Forgive me, Miss, I—”

“That’s all right. My name’s Cece.”

“Is that short for something?”

“Cecelia.”

“That’s a nice name.”

“I don’t like it, and prefer just Cece.”

“Is it all right if I play the radio at low volume, Cece?”

“I don’t mind.”

“You like music?”

“Yes. I know Elvis Presley.”

“You like Presley? Great singer, but he died in 1977. I figured you’d like more recent stuff by U2, Ed Sheeran or maybe some of the indie groups.”

“I know George Michael, David Bowie and Prince, too.”

“Yeah, they’re more contemporary. Too bad they’re all dead now. It’s tragic how talented lives can end like that.”

 “It’s sad for any life to end; saddest for those left behind,” she said in a flat tone. Her previously sallow face glowed, now that she was sheltered from the damp, cold night.

“What grade are you in?”

“I was in grade ten.”

Was? She’d dropped out of school. Her whole life ahead and no education? Well, not any business of mine to give her the Stay in school spiel. I’m sure her parents did.

The rain, which had eased, now intensified. I adjusted the defroster and switched the wipers on high. Fog settled on the road ahead like a grey blanket, the headlights of oncoming cars piercing the hazy wetness.

She wasn’t much of a talker. A stale smell of wet clothing and hair drifted forward. The rancid odour reminded me of a wet dog, only not as strong or objectionable.

At a stop light two blocks away from our destination Cece was no longer visible in the rear-view mirror. Did she lie down? Was she ill?

I pulled over and turned to look.

There was no one there.

How could she have left without me knowing? Passengers rarely jumped out to evade paying the fare, but when they did it was impossible for the driver not to realize. I chased one asshole a year ago—he bolted to avoid paying a four-buck fare, but he turned on me with a knife. Now I don’t bother going after them. Could be worse—someone who pukes all over the car. Big bucks to clean that mess up and a chunk of lost time.

Was I micro-sleeping: having temporary episodes of sleep so brief that I felt continuously awake, but in fact had lost consciousness and failed to respond to sensory inputs? That must be it. That’s when she left.

I reached over and placed my palm on the seat. It was dry.

My thoughts tumbled and collided. Nothing made sense.

The meter over the dash continued to click. The digits displayed $6.20 then flipped to $6.30. I turned it off.

The location marker on the GPS blinked—the destination address displayed at the top of the screen. Black letters on a white band read 23 Stone Gate Circle—the address she gave me. It was only two blocks away. Why would I have imagined an address I had never heard of, nor been to?

I had to go there.

“You have arrived at your destination,” said the synthetic, feminine voice of the GPS a few minutes later.

The neighbourhood was upscale—wide roads bordered by large, mature maple trees and populated by an enclave of ivy-covered older brick and stone Georgian-style homes. I turned into number twenty-three’s wide, circular cobble-stone driveway flanked by flickering gas-fired coach lamps. A plaque on one stone column read Hanson.

The lawn and gardens were expansive and meticulously kept; the perfume of wet grass and cedar trees, strong. I imagined a blazing fireplace inside the home, an elegant decor and luxurious furnishings. The owners must be well-to-do.

The rain stopped. I stood at the end of the flagstone walkway for a few minutes inhaling the fresh, clean air and staring at the house. Wind rustled leaves on the trees like whispering voices. The face of the moon glimmered through a clearing sky.

Why was I here? What would I say to the occupants? They’d think I was a fool. I could almost hear their derisive laughter. You should go away now, I thought, but the urge to know was overpowering and pulled me up to the polished, heavy oak front door. I noted the brass intercom box to one side of it and the security camera mounted above.

My right hand trembled as my finger hovered over the ornate doorbell button. I drew in several deep breaths, straightened my jacket and smoothed my hair. I pressed the button, heard the resonant notes of the chimes inside, and waited.

 “Who is it?” a female voice said through the intercom.

I looked up at the camera so my face was clearly visible. “I’m Paul Wilkins—a cab driver.”

“What do you want?”

“I’d like to talk to you, if I may. It might be important.”

After a pause, the voice said, “Are you alone?”

“Yes,” I replied. Couldn’t she see that from the camera?

After a few moments I heard a deadbolt retract. The door opened a little way and a woman’s head appeared.

“Yes? May I help you?” she said, a thin, inquisitive smile on her face.

I cleared my throat. “May I ask if a young woman named Cecilia lives here?”

The door swung open and the warm air of the dwelling’s bright interior caressed my face, making me blink. The person standing in the doorway was an old lady, wearing a dove-grey dress, with neatly coiffed hair, a patrician appearance and a round, wrinkled face with clear skin and bright green eyes. Tasteful and expensive jewellery glittered from her neck, hands and wrist. I glimpsed a framed photo on a side table just inside the door; a familiar-looking young face with fair skin and long, blond hair. My mouth was dry. It was difficult to swallow.

The woman’s weak, questioning smile collapsed.

 “Why are you asking about her?” she said.

“She was a passenger coming to this address but left the car just before we would arrive. Since its dark and the weather’s so terrible, I was concerned that she got home okay.”

The woman’s eyes flared with anger and she jabbed her finger at my face.

“If this is your idea of a joke sir, I don’t appreciate it. You’ve got some nerve coming to our home at this hour.”

“I’m sorry, I—”

“Don’t you think we’ve been through enough pain all these years without people like you adding to it? Is planning sick pranks like this your idea of fun?”

“I don’t understand. What are you talking about?”

Her voice cracked. “You know darn well what I mean. Did someone put you up to this?”

“To what?”

“Making a joke out of our daughter’s death.”

The last two words struck me like stones. It felt like my heart stopped. Coldness crept up into my torso like a sponge soaking up ice water.

“Death? But I just—”

“You’re insinuating that you didn’t know that our sixteen-year-old daughter Cecelia was killed on this day thirty years ago?” she said.

The shock must have taken my mind elsewhere for a few moments. The next thing I recalled was observing the woman’s lips moving, then hearing her insistent, irate voice rising in volume.

 “Answer me, Paul, the cab driver. Are you pleased with what you’ve done? Now you can laugh about it with your friends. They’re likely as depraved as you are.”

“No… You don’t understand, I—”

“I understand you and your kind well enough.” Hate boiled in her eyes.

“Where did this happen to your daughter?” I said.

Her hands curled into white knuckled fists. Her eyes shone with moisture and the veins in her neck reached out. “Near the intersection of Belmont Street and Middle Road, as you well know. She was struck by a hit and run driver on a rainy night like this and died broken and alone in the gutter.”

Her words flew into the air, circled like birds, then settled into my consciousness.

“But that’s where—”

“People like you are evil.” Her words came out like hot nails.

“I’m so—”

“Spare me your fake sympathy,” she said, in a mocking tone.

“But I—”

“Do you know what it’s like to bury your only child? They never found the driver. It’s hard enough for us to get through this day without you coming here and doing this. Have you no humanity or feelings?” She sniffled and tears made tracks in her mascara. “Even decades of passing time can’t erase our heartache and loss.”

Each word was like a lump of white-hot coal. I tried to explain what happened. “Please let me—”

“Leave our premises now before I call the police,” she screamed and then slammed the door.

I sat in the car a long time before driving home. After tossing and turning I drifted off to sleep. The noise of a dripping tap woke me up at 3:00 a.m. It had never interrupted my sleep before. Did I dream of an encounter with a dead girl whose life was absorbed by a city street corner like a sponge and re-animated decades later? Her name and address floated among the jumbled images in my mind. I thought of the hurt on the mother’s face. It was all so real. I went down to the cab, turned on the GPS and touched Destinations on the menu. The last address was 23 Stone Gate Circle. Things didn’t make sense. Perhaps I was going mad.

*

The next day I travelled downtown to the library to access archived microfiche copies of the city newspapers. There it was on the front page of the September 29, 1987 morning edition of the City Examiner:

YOUNG WOMAN KILLED BY HIT AND RUN DRIVER

Cecilia Hanson, sixteen, of 23 Stone Gate Circle in Bennington was struck and killed at the intersection of Belmont Street and Middle Road last evening. There were no witnesses, but police are…

Cece, I think of you often. I could have reached back and touched you that evening—known if you were tangible or phantom. Would your milk-white hand have felt warm and alive in mine, or merely air slipping through my fingers?

I’m sorry you couldn’t go home. Wherever you are, I hope you can find peace.

END

THIS AND OTHER ENTERTAINING AND IMAGINATIVE STORIES CAN BE READ IN RAY HOLMES COLLECTION AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON

 

 

Michael Joll -Author’s Short Story

 

Born in England during the Late Pleistocene Age, Michael Joll has called Canada home since shortly after Confederation. He has held many jobs, from selling Continental Delicatessen in Selfridges on Oxford Street in London, to temporary part time deck hand and purser on a car ferry plying the North Reach of the Bay of Quinte. In between he was gainfully employed for forty years too many. Retired since 2004 (“The hours are great, the pay not so much”) he has spent most of that time writing fiction. He has lived in Brampton, Ontario since the mid-1970s with a wife (his own) and the memories of the dogs with whom he has been privileged to share his life.

 

MJoll New Background for CS

Author Michael Joll

A HANDSOME WOMAN

by Michael Joll

He studied her through binoculars from the shade of his second floor suite balcony at the Fairmont Colony Hotel. A handsome woman, he concluded. Lissome. Striking even, with her thick, wavy red hair pulled back and tied behind her neck. The late afternoon sun caught the silver strands in her hair and set them glinting like quicksilver.

   She stretched her long limbs, arched her back and reached behind her neck with her fingers extended and her toes pointed, a springboard diver about to enter the pike position. She pushed her sunglasses up over her forehead until they rested above her hairline, and swung her legs over the side of the padded chaise lounge until her feet met the patio pavers.

   The Barbados sun had travelled along its prescribed arc and the umbrella no longer cast its shade over her. She reached past a magazine and a thick paperback novel on the table at her elbow and picked up the plastic bottle of 60 sunblock. She squirted a generous amount onto her palm and smoothed it into her thighs.

   He wished he could do it for her.

   Her thighs firmed to her touch while she massaged the lotion into her skin. She bent forward as she worked her quads, squeezing the firm muscles as expertly as a masseuse She turned her attention to her shins and calves and leaned further when she spread the lotion over her ankles and feet. Her breasts moved with her, straining to escape the skimpy bikini top that revealed a tantalizingly generous, freckled cleavage. He held his breath, hoping for an accidental wardrobe malfunction. When none occurred, he took in the polished toenails and matching fingernails, and the freckles dotting her arms and cheeks.

   He sighed. Without question he was in love with the red-haired goddess lounging beside the pool.

   He set aside his binoculars and rubbed his eyes. A bead of sweat ran from his temple, along his jaw line and under his chin. He made no attempt to mop it as it disappeared into the tangle of grey chest hair sprouting from his pale skin.

   Her calisthenics over for the moment, the goddess sat up again. She applied another generous helping of sunblock to her abdomen and over her breasts and throat, slipping her fingers beneath the cloth of her bikini top. Making sure she had all the bases covered, the man decided, the binoculars back to his eyes again, regretting that he was too late and too far away to offer help. She undid the elastic back strap, reached behind her neck to untie the shoelace thin straps and let them dangle at her side while she held the top in place with one hand. Inviting. If she knew what she was doing to him . . . She pulled the front of her bikini top down until the interesting bits almost peeked out, leaned against the backrest of the chaise and applied lotion to her face and shoulders. Satisfied, she dropped her sunglasses over her nose and glanced over her shoulder toward the hotel.

   He held his breath. “She’s teasing me,” he muttered. “It’s as if she knows I’m watching her.”

   A slight commotion coming from the beach disturbed the man’s thoughts. He aimed the binoculars in the direction in which he saw several people pointing. He focused through the palm trees near the water’s edge, and then he saw them: a shoal of flying fish breaking the surface of the Caribbean, their fins flailing the surface into a maelstrom and showering the still air with a million diamonds. Hard on their heels a pod of dolphins surfaced, basket-weaving their sleek bodies over and through the lazy waves in search of dinner.

   He turned his attention to the woman at the pool edge, on her feet now and clutching her bikini top to her chest with one hand while shielding her eyes from the sun with the other. She turned to a white-haired woman at her side and pointed out to sea. The old woman followed the line of the outstretched arm and jumped with excitement at the sight of the dolphins in full chase. He saw the women exchange words, then resume their seats once the show was over.

   The redheaded goddess hooked her bikini top back together and pulled her chaise into the shade of the umbrella. The man saw her lean toward the elderly woman and say something. She opened her beach bag, reached in and pulled out a diaphanous chiffon top, which she wrapped around her shoulders.

   The show was over for the man, too. He put the binoculars down and turned to his crossword puzzle. He only did the cryptic crosswords, and always in ink, never pencil. He didn’t make mistakes. Not any more. He had made too many in his life. He sipped at a cold bottle of Banks beer, its sides dripping with condensation in the February heat while he wrestled the crossword into submission.

   A movement caught his eye. He glanced up from his crossword in the direction of the redheaded nymph. She stood up, and now she wandered towards the pool edge. He grabbed the binoculars and watched her dip a toe in the lukewarm water, sending ripples scurrying away from her. Her bare, freckled shoulders shone in the sun. The flimsy top lay abandoned on the chaise, a sleeve draped over the side as if it still contained its wearer, the cuff touching the concrete paver. A slight breeze fluffed life into the cloth before fading away, leaving the sleeve a study in still life.

   The goddess slipped into the pool with scarcely a ripple to betray her entry. She surfaced and pulled her hair behind her, squeezing water down her back. She smiled as she spoke unheard words to a young man close by. The man on the balcony overcame a momentary pang of envy, envy that she should be speaking to a good-looking, tanned and lean-muscled young man, and even a little jealous that his own body, now well past its best days, could not hope to compete with that of a narcissist half his age.

   She swam several effortless lengths then hauled her body out of the pool in one movement and sat on the edge with her feet in the water. From the vantage point on his second floor balcony, the man noticed that the young Lothario had already moved on to a trio of much younger women with whom he was obviously flirting. She moved her head. For a moment he thought the woman might have glanced up to his balcony. No, he decided, she hadn’t, but he imagined he caught a hint of a smile flick across her lips before she looked back at the pool. Or maybe not. His rational brain told him that a human heart does not melt, do backflips or any other such nonsense, including standing still. He froze for a second, and then turned his attention to his crossword. 14 Down. Backflip. He wrote the four missing letters in the empty squares, and set his pen aside with a satisfied smile.

   He thought of lighting a cigarette, a Sobrani Black Russian, his favourite for twenty years, ever since his business allowed him to indulge his weakness and he could afford the premium price. His hand twitched involuntarily in a gesture all too familiar, reaching out. The cigarettes were not within reach. They were back home, where he had deliberately left them, in a silver and tortoise shell cigarette box on the desk in his den, the box unopened for four months as a test of will power. He studied the twin purple-blue ridges of the long scar running down his sternum, and the marks left by the staples, a now-permanent reminder of his open-heart surgery the previous fall, and knew he was lucky to be alive. His heart had indeed stopped. Once.

   The sun cast long shadows across the hotel’s spacious palm-studded grounds. He searched the pool for the goddess, but she had vanished from sight. Through the binoculars he sought her by the beach, but could not find her. The large, open sided pavilion where they served breakfast and lunch, accompanied by hummingbirds, lizards and the occasional inquisitive parakeet bent on sharing a meal with the guests, surrendered no trace of her. He noted with satisfaction that the young man with the muscles had also departed the pool. So, too, had the trio of scantily clad women the young man had been trying to impress.

   Then he caught sight of her, the goddess with her skin now aflame in the orange and red fires of the setting sun. A gentle breeze tugged at a strand of unruly hair at her temple. She rescued it with a finger and hooked it behind her ear. She turned, and when she looked towards the hotel he saw a yellow hibiscus blossom tucked behind her other ear, and her chiffon top tied loosely around her trim waist like a bronze sarong, softening the sharp triangle of her bikini.

   He knew he had to go to her. He had to speak to her, to bask in her presence.

   He left the suite and took the stairs to the ground floor. He pushed through the French doors of the hotel’s art deco rear entrance and stopped on the patio, his head swivelling from right to left, searching for her. He spotted her, standing alone, gazing out to sea, one side of her slim, lithe body illuminated by the flame of a tiki lamp flickering by her side, the other cast in shadow. The sun had almost set, dipping the bottom edge of its disk in the sea like a nervous swimmer testing the water. In minutes, night would cloak Barbados in velvet and the steel pan band would begin its off-key duel with the tone-deaf cicadas.

   She turned as the man neared her. Her face registered neither surprise nor fear at his approach. He slowed and came to a stop a step from her side. He tugged at the hem of his Hawaiian shirt, lurid purple and pink glowing in the sunset, and for a moment stared away from her at the silhouettes of the palm trees. Then he lowered his gaze to the flame coloured hibiscus printed on the front of his shirt. He shuffled his feet, fighting to suppress the nervousness that had bedevilled him since he was a gawky teenager with acne and braces and horn rimmed eyeglasses, trying to summon the courage to ask a girl for a date.

   He looked into the eyes of the red haired Athena standing as immobile as a Greek statue. A quizzical and slightly bemused smile crossed her face. He took in the freckles on her cheeks and the tracery of crows’ feet radiating from the corners of her eyes, crinkling with her smile. Her eyes glowed emerald green and sapphire blue with flecks of gold and amber to add to his confusion. He had never beheld a woman more serene or beguiling as the one who stood before him now, eyeing him with curiosity.

   “Hi,” he said.

   “Hi, yourself,” she replied with a broad smile. Her hand strayed to her hip. It swayed slightly, provocatively as she twisted round to face him fully.

   His licked his lips nervously, covered his mouth with a hand and coughed lightly. He gazed into those bewitching eyes again and took a deep breath.

   “I just wanted to tell you,” he said, “how glad I am that you married me all those years ago.”

END

THIS AND OTHER STORIES APPEAR IN MICHAEL JOLL’S COLLECTION

CHECK OUT MICHAEL’S BOOK HERE

 

Stories
by Michael Joll
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Down Independence Boulevard –What Readers Say About it

February 19, 2017

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase 
“Down Independence Boulevard” is another masterpiece by Kenneth Puddicombe following on the heels of “Junta” and “Racing with the Rain” both of which also fall into the category of excellent historical fiction.His latest work is packed with sixteen wonderfully written stories from which the reader can pick and choose the ones that are most appealing, as I have. Anyone who has read Ken’s previous books will have been already accustomed to his skill in holding the reader’s imagination with page after page of exciting detail. Whether he is writing about the political struggles between different factions in the former British Guiana or more intimate stories of a personal nature within a Guyanese family, his possession of a broad vocabulary and a masterful use of the English language should impress any reader. I haven’t yet read the entire sixteen stories which is another benefit of selecting the stories that one wants to read in any sequence. So far I am enjoying “Down Independence Boulevard”.You will too.

Rosaliene Bacchus

February 27, 2017

Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
An excellent read. Ken Puddicombe’s short stories are riveting and, in many cases, heartbreaking. His stories give us a close-up view of the effects of political unrest in disrupting the lives of families and individuals, forcing them to seek refuge in foreign lands. But Puddicombe doesn’t end there. He takes us to Canada and the United States where the immigrants, legal and illegal, attempt to rebuild their lives. Each story is a gem.

Ken Puddicombe sparks curiosity, melancholy, anger, and laughter as he shares the lives of the various characters in “Down Independence Boulevard”. These stories lend a glimpse into Guyana’s history and culture, while unraveling unique storylines. The reader is torn between being able to relate to the characters in one story, then feeling outraged by their actions in the next story! The stories build slowly, and you find yourself pondering and questioning, and then the answers are slowly revealed. As a first generation Canadian, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Guyana through the lives of Puddicombe’s diverse characters, his choice of settings, and the lifestyles of the characters. “Down Independence Boulevard” left me missing the characters and wondering what is to come for them…perhaps a sequel!


Having read the previous books by Ken Puddicombe,I must say that Down Independence Boulevard was masterfully presented by him and once again showed his skilful depiction to detail, which appeal to the five senses and imagination. Ken’s way of delving into our imagination with his many sensuous details help the reader realize that persons,places and things are within the phenomenon he describes.
The start of every page not only brought humour but the longing to get to the next page to experience the characters with the imagination you could be that person.
Reading the assorted stories was a pleasant change from having to read through a book with the same characters from beginning to end.
Well done; highly recommended and look forward to the next writings of Ken Puddicombe.
Bazp


Elaine Gardiner

March 7, 2018 at 3:47 pm

“Down Independence Boulevard” is an amazing first collection of short stories and Ken Puddicombe’s remarkable story telling. “Black Friday” left me with sadness; “The Family Photograph” brought a smile to my face, but “The Last Straw” has to be my favourite, as I am left imagining about the outcome of the moustache (!) and hoping that Zorina was able to have a successful and happier life, but then I am continuing in my mind what was only a story, but such a good one!



Jean Tiwari

Down Independence Boulevard and other stories

A great book of well written and descriptive short stories.

I do have quite a few favourites, some of which relates to my years growing up in Guyana.

My favourite of all would be “The Last Straw” a story a woman being exploited by her in-laws and her very vain husband. Her revenge was quite amusing, and I smiled to
myself a long time after, whenever I thought of the ending. Was even smiling while writing this and recalling the story. Would love a follow up on this. -Jean Tiwari


Ratings on WRITING Competitions

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Sites for checking up on the multitude of writing competitions, separating the chaff from the ones worth pursuing…because it’s always wise to do your due diligence before proceeding.

https://selfpublishingadvice.org/allis-self-publishing-service-directory/award-and-contest-ratings-reviews/

Guest Author -Conditions

 

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Guest Authors are invited to submit their work for publication in my Blog. It will appear on this page. Writing can consist of a Short Story, Slice Of Life, Poem or Travel Piece.

ALL the following conditions MUST be met:

  1. The work must be the original work of the person submitting.
  2. Pieces MUST be 2,500 words or less.
  3. The work must not be defamatory, libellous, racist or pornographic in nature.
  4. Submit a brief Bio [no more than 150 words].
  5. State contact information.
  6. Attach a Headshot.
  7. Previously published work acceptable, providing the rights have reverted to you.

THE AUTHOR MUST ATTACH THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT TO THE WORK SUBMITTED 

[NAME OF WORK]

I, [author’s name] understand that for the Work listed above:

  • It is being submitted for the purpose of publication in Ken Puddicombe’s Blog for a limited time.
  • The work is subject to editing for format and content.
  •  I understand there is no payment for publication.
  • I further certify that I own the copyright to this work and have all rights to it, and that if it was previously published, all rights have reverted to me and will revert to me after publication in Ken Puddicombe’s Blog.

Send your work to

kenpudwriter@gmail.com

Subject Heading: Publication in Blog

 

 

Down Independence Boulevard and Other Stories

A taxi driver notices the changes in Independence Boulevard since freedom was gained from Britain. A free-wheeling spirit spends his time gambling and engaging in riots. A man is sentenced to death for the murder of his lover. Two women escape racial conflict and seek a better life at home and abroad. A housewife has faced the last straw with her husband. A mailman is caught in the middle of the World Trade Centre terrorist attack. These are some of the characters encountered in this engaging collection of short stories from the pen of Ken Puddicombe.

Amazon link: Down Independence Boulevard: and other stories
by Ken Puddicombe
Link: http://a.co/djDIyAZ