The Ambiguity of Courage
I am not brave. Can you be brave
without being afraid? A madman rescues a child from a burning house but feels
no fear. Is he brave? I don't know. I do know there are lots of things that I
fear - boredom, a painful death, missed opportunities ... Most of all I fear
cowards. They'll do you in every time, just when you have stopped looking. I
fear my own cowardice, but not always enough to be brave.
A Trashed Message
The apartment building for foreign teachers had an outside veneer of fake red brick trimmed with shiny aluminium window frames. The expensive front door of frosted glass firmly excluded uninvited strangers. Actually this haughty front concealed a dank and shabby interior staircase of stained concrete, and a cluster of dreary little apartments. The building was in an old part of town, a down-at-heel outlying settlement on the edge of Busan. The streets were narrow, and not very clean. The local people were rather poor, and fiercely resentful of luckier Koreans. They didn’t understand the foreign teachers. To tell the truth, both camps had a communication problem...
Alana was a Russian teacher, a good teacher, and the unshakeable stereotypes of her host community in South Korea made her unhappy. She wasn't aggressive about it, she could put up with the unknowing contempt of strangers, but the casual disdain of Korean colleagues who couldn't parse the human equation of Russian + woman + professional, drove her to quiet despair...
Annabelle [.. an erotic fragment]
"Here, give me a hand". The last terminal lights went off. She was standing beside him, very close, black as the night, her body richly aromatic, a mix of sensations as exotic as the rolling cadences of African dialect under her Oxford accent. ..
Stumpy and the Decision Tree
[ a daggy epic of the unexpected growing day by day]
I've gotta' admit, the gunner blinked, it's neat -
That tear-down screen, the instant con of command ...
Meg grabbed his ear and he flinched.
You tinfoil hoon, she hissed, you wouldn't know
A sacred sign from the flash of an arcade strip.
Now hit back a signal wrapped in respect
Before we get zapped to a crisp....
Folk Tales [Nasreddin & other stories]
The song bird watched her neighbours debate, and knew that they had no dream of a wider world where the sky was egg-shell blue. At last, when the mayor was about to toast the visitor with six kampais, and send him off a little drunk into the night, she suddenly knew what she must do. With a single graceful dive she left her perch in the corner of the Great Hall of the People, and landed on the shoulder of the old man. Then she sang, an ancient beautiful melody, so that all were charmed, and the visitor in thrall to beauty declared that this Chinese song bird would certainly span the rainbow arc between their distant cultures...
The Five Minute Future [Science Fiction (?)]
A march steward with a black arm-band and a megaphone was just about to chase Clarry off the truck when it happened. The steward gasped audibly into the megaphone. It was enough to attract some attention, but Clare's shriek a second later riveted the crowed. A white hot bayonet had slashed his scalp, a shaft of heat so intense that all consciousness contracted into that dreadful, life-seeking sound...
The Price of Freedom [an escape from Vietnam]
Almost inadvertently a fishing boat seems to drift in towards the bathers. Nobody notices. No, twenty people notice; they have been waiting. Quietly, in ones and twos, they begin to swim out to the seaward side of the trawler where quick hands pull them aboard. Strangers, a girl here, a man there, see what is happening. Making immediate decisions - no time for preparations, for farewells, for betrayal - these instant refugees join the swimmers. A hundred people make it to the boat...
Amity Li [a snippet of mischief]
There once was a girl called Amity Li who wasn't too pretty, but she was smart. She dated a man who worked in a shoe shop, and just to please him agreed that Kentucky Fried was the best of all possible places to go for a swish night out. The shoe shop man was ecstatic, and gave her his mobile phone, which next to dainty, lace-up shoes, was the nearest thing to his heart...
On Her Majesty's Australian Service
[ a short story of invented truth, if that's what our memories are made of ...]
The Australian Government gave him a gun. It was 1964, before the system got really professional. They said, Put it in your pocket. Neat little Browning .32 automatic, but even that was bulky. The Lad's strides weren't made for carrying a pistol. It felt like an erection that had got out of control. Surely everyone would notice him walking like a crab, with this hard, bumpy thing on his thigh...
The Sale of Tabu Soro
[a post-colonial parable]