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Getting Butterflies

This is a quick bash at a Friday Fictioneers submission which can be viewed as a response to my New Year’s resolution to get back into writing. I’d have liked a couple more sentences to set the context but am taking some satisfaction in the fact this is 100 words exactly. Thanks to Roger Bultot for the prompt.

Wendy watched her father’s reaction as her sister came down the stairs in the lilac ballgown. There was pride there, but something else, too: a sullen recognition that she was growing into a beautiful young woman. Carla had always been the pretty one, but tonight, she was transformed.
Back when they were kids, Wendy had been fascinated by caterpillars. She’d wished she could hole up in a chrysalis for a day or so, and emerge metamorphosed into something beautiful. More likely, she’d have turned out to be a moth, but st least she could have flown from her drab surroundings.


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On The Rocks…

This is a quick Friday Fictioneers submission. Thanks to Sandra Crook for the prompt.  

I’d like to take this opportunity to plug my annualish festive ghost story, which I’ll put on this site next week. 

After they decommissioned the lighthouse, Bob felt adrift. Adept as he’d become at saving mariners from the rocks, it had left him without any transferable skills. Lacking an income stream, he stayed at his sisters in Deptford and took to loitering under the streetlamp outside the General Lighthouse Authority, warning passers by that it was a treacherous place. The police said he was a nuisance and moved him on. He came back, and this time the magistrate sent him down for 6 months. Bob didn’t mind, of course; he was used to confined spaces and pleased he could still serve as a warning to others.


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A Sketchy Character (Doggerel #17)

This was a submission for the Scribblers flash fiction for October 13th 2017 with the theme, A Stroke of Luck. The link with this story was tenuous at best, I’m sure you’ll agree, which might go some way to explaining why it came fourth out of six entries. Originally, I was trying for an homage to Julia Donaldson’s Monkey Puzzle but I ran out of steam and this is the result.

The sketch artist sat across the desk,

Brush in his ursine paw

Then leant forward, waxing Whistleresque,

“Tell me what it was you saw.”
At first the witness didn’t speak,

And scratched the bald spot on his head,

And gave his beard a pensive tweak,

Before, sighing, he sat back and said,
“I fell victim to a callous crook,

From the rogue’s miscellany,

And found myself brought quite unstuck

By an egregious felony”
The sketch artist smiled, said “There’s no rush,”

As he stood before his easel,

“With what you recall and my trusty brush

We’ll get a likeness of this weasel.”
The witness clutched his pallid throat

Said, “Respectfully I bid,

That you don’t compare her with a stoat,

Or some other mustelid.”
“How would you describe the miscreant?”

Came the sketch artist’s retort.

“I only saw her from the front,”

said his guest, “And our time together was short.
It was a cruelly brief but blissful visit,

From an angel dressed in human guise,

Comely, fair, refined, exquisite,

With the most alluring turquoise eyes”
“Turquoise eyes?” the artist repeated.

“And auburn hair,” the witness said,

“But if your paint box is depleted,

You could make do with blue and red.”
“So, this most decorous of ingenues,”

Asked the sketcher, at his art,

“Of what crime is it you her accuse?”

The victim frowned, “She stole my heart.
“l know to steal a heart is not a crime

On any country’s statute books, 

But the lawmakers will see sense in time,

And she could have killed me with those looks.”
As the victim shared his memories

Of the encounter that he’d had

The artist gave new life to these

I’m strokes of paint upon the pad
But as the hours went on a tension arose

As the sketcher felt a cramp in his hands

And they couldn’t agree on the shape of her nose

Or the victim’s exacting demands
“You told me of her pulchritude,

Enough to stall a herd of bisons

“But I refuse to main her in the nude?

There’s no place for artistic licence.”
“Alas it’s not within my gift

For I am a slave to truth

I can’t give burglars an eyebrow lift,

Or murderers an air of youth.
“The prisons would be full of handsome men

If I ignored my artist’s eye.”

“How about some cleavage then?

Or at least a flash of thigh,”
The victim asked frustratedly,

Taking a peek at the artist’s sketch,

Before he fell to his knees I’ll-fatedly,

Beginning to grumpily retch,
For what the dauber had achieved with his paint,

Was a second rate portrait at best,

But it was hard for the victim to raise a complaint,

With a pallet knife stuck in his chest
Above the artist’s mantel-shelf, 

The picture hangs with pride,

He fell in love with the image himself,

And he’ll yet make the object his bride
For every Picasso or Damien Hirst,

There are a thousand paint-splattered jokes,

But they all of them have the same unslakable thirst,

If you run into one, beware their brush strokes

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Raymond Carver

This is a Friday Fictioneers submission. Thanks to Sandra Crook for the prompt. I’m not sure if the practice of mutilating trees to document transitory affections is known out with the UK, though I’m sure you’ll get the idea. Thanks 

Ray 4 Jan
Ray 4 Jan 4 Wot?
Ray 4 Jan 4 Eva
4 Eva? Eva Who?
Nah, 4 Evah..4FS
4fs? 4 Cough
U 4 Cough…Ray 4 Eva
4 Jan 4 Evah?
Nah, Ray 4 Eva…4 Evah.
Jan 4saken?
2 rite.
Jan 4 Jon, then.
Jan 4 Jon 4 Wot?
Jan 4 Jon 4 Evan.
Jon 4 Evan?
Nah, 4 Eva.
Jon 4 Eva? Nah, Ray 4 Eva, Eva 4 Ray.
Nah, Eva 4 Evan 4 Eva an’ Evah!!
Ray 4saken?
4 certain.
Jan 4giving?
4 Get it.


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Happy Families 

This was written in response to a challenge to base a story around one of Jack Vettriano‘s  paintings. My inspiration, The Billy Boys, is below. If Mr Vetriano or his lawyers happen to be reading then I’m afraid I don’t have any money to pay for the use of the image. However, it’s not unknown for posts on this blog to attract a readership in the high single figures. If even three or four of those readers follow the link above and buy a painting at three quarters of a million pounds, then hopefully that’ll put you up on the deal, eh Jack. If not, give us a shout and I’ll take it down.

 -I say we hit the casinos

-‘Hit the casinos’, Sal? You wanna be careful how you talk.

-You know what I mean…What the hell we doing in Skegness anyway?

-I told you. Team building exercise.

-We’re mafiosi, Gino.


-So mafiosi don’t do ‘team building exercises’.

-It was Rudolfo’s idea.

-Makes sense…Where is he anyway?

-Went back to the caravan in a huff after you kept on about him sniffing round the groyne.

-He was, though.

-…He thought he’d seen a weaver fish. Anyway, stop sulking. Enjoy yourself. They’ve got a Frank Sinatra tribute on at the Embassy tonight.

-Ang said the Triads went to Alton Towers last year.

-Yeah, but Ang said his dad knew where the Brinks Mat bullion was hidden.

-Ey up. Them birds are looking at us.

-The seagulls?

-Nah, birds. Women. Over there on the pier.

-They checking out our Fedoras?

-Maybe they are, Sal, maybe they are..Bugger.


-They’re just looking at that snitch we buried in the sand.


-Dunno. Mebbe they’ve never seen it done head first before.

-A tenner this hat costume me.

-You can wear it down the disco later.

-Disco? I’m not going to the disco l, mate.

-How come?

-I’m meeting Rodolfo, aren’t I?

-What for?

-I dunno…He said summat about a sleepover at the aquarium.

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A Pharoah Palaver

This is a Sunday Photofiction submission for October 8th 2017. I know nothing about Egyptology so apologies in advance for the historical inaccuracies. Thanks to Kathryn Forbes for the photographic prompt.

-So, you like it?

-What is it?

-It’s my mausoleum.

-But, Pharoah…You’re not dead.

-Builders were offering 0% finance, weren’t they?


-So, what do you think?

-…It’s a bit pointy.

-It’s a pyramid.

-You didn’t fancy a nice, tasteful tumulus?

-I’ve got a legacy to think of. Can’t afford to scrimp. I’ve got a state of the art security system, too.

-What’s that?

-Curse, mate.

-A curse? What sort of curse?

-Any one disturbing my remains is gonna die of natural causes several years later.


-I know. 

-Does it have to be this big?

-I’ve gotta have space for my treasures, haven’t I?

-Can’t take it with you when you go I suppose.



-Sometimes I worry about you, Moses.


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Imperfect Recall

This is a Friday Fictioneers submission. Thanks to Roger Bulltot for the prompt.

If anyone enjoys this enough to want to investigate further, my books are free on Kindle for the next few days.

Don’t Carp Marley Tiffin (UK)
Don’t Carp, Marley Tiffin (US)
Rose-Tinted Rifle Sites (UK)
Rose-Tinted Rifles Sites (US)


-What’s up, boss? The missus playing away again.

-Tourist season again.

-I’ll have make small talk with Americans who think they’ve got Celtic roots.

-Think of the TripAdvisor reviews.

-And when the hand towels get stuck in the dispenser again, who’d’you think they’ll get to yank them out?

-So you’ve got a knack.


-And the National Trust’ll take this place off your hands if it gets too much.

-Nah, Camelot’s in my blood.

-That’s the spirit, Arthur.

-Only when you said I’d come back when my country needed me most, I didn’t expect to be running the gift shop.


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Sculpture Vulture

This is a Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers submission. Thanks to Jade M. Wong for the photographic prompt.

If anyone enjoys this enough to want to explore further, my books will be free on Kindle from 30th August:

Rose-Tinted Rifle Sites (UK)

Rose-Tinted Rifle Sites (US)
Don’t Carp, Marley Tiffin (UK)
Don’t Carp, Marley Tiffin (US)


John grunted, his body contorted unnaturally around the talc-dusted laser beams. He flicked his eyes towards the sculpture they’d come to steal,
“Who’d be after something like this?”
Rob hissed. “Russian oligarch. More money than sense.”
“It’s just a bit of papier-mâché.”
Rob sighed. He’d been hearing comments like this ever since they broke into the gallery. “It’s a commentary…on something or other

John’s features took on a wistful look in the half-light, “Beautiful, isn’t it?”
“His late period’s more nuanced.”
Sirens interrupted the impromptu art appreciation session. Rob checked his watch. He thought he’d worked the timing out. 
The door broke open. “Freeze,” demanded a voice, tired, irritated at being called out to deal with rich men’s problems. Rob looked over at John, nodded.
“Do it,” he said, as the police charged into his room.
John reached into his pocket, threw a look of surprise, as Rob had known he would. An officer took aim, fired. Rob watched his companion fall, letting the plastic daffodil drop as he did; it would be difficult to conceive of a more powerful indictment of the perils of authority. As he felt the handcuffs close around his wrist, Rob checked to see that the whole episode had been filmed. With his record, he’d be looking at a few years inside, but once Goldsmiths saw the video, they’d be sure to look favourably on his application.



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Shakes Pier’s Globe

This is a Friday Fictioneers  submission for 25th August. The title wasn’t my first choice, but I coulDn’t resist a pun. Thanks to Jan Wayne fields for the prompt (which I seem not to be able to upload).

‘Here it comes again,’ Piers thought, as the floor shook. Around him flew huge snowflakes, the size of crows, stinging as they struck. The fairytale Bavarian castle behind threatened to collapse but, as always, remained resolutely intact.

Later, after it had all abated, he crept forward to see if there’d been a breach in the wall which penned him in. But was nothing; there never was. He returned to his position, trying not to look at the myriad identical snow globes on the shelves around him.
He should never have ignored the ‘do not touch’ sign in the gift shop.


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Inclined to protest

This is a quick bit of flash in response to A Scribblers challenge to write a story from the point of view of an inanimate object. Whilst my own version of the object in question is gathering dust in my garage, I’m not sure if it strictly counts as inanimate but I hope you’ll make allowances. If not, the following Link will lead you to what is, at least in part, a musical celebration of the inspiration for this story.


Because he turns me on in his Lycra shorts, he thinks he can walk all over me. He’s right, as well; he knows exactly what buttons he needs to push to get me in a spin. And if he’s honest, he’ll admit that it’s down to me that he’s lost the love handles. But then, he’s a man and men never give credit where it’s due. The treadmill’s lot is a thankless one.
I realise it’s ridiculous that a state of the art piece of exercise equipment should find her circuits aflutter at the sight of a paunchy middle-manager but, as the stationary bike is wont to point out, it was inevitable that as soon as someone invented artificial intelligence that artificial vacuity would follow. Though, in fairness to me, there is something about him. He wipes me down after he’s done, for one thing, and he eschews the ghastly europop that most of my punters seem to favour. Of course, the jazz music he prefers makes it difficult for him to work up any sort of rhythm, but it at least it means he’s gentle with me, and not so disgustingly sweaty as the others.
In the time we’ve known one another, my feelings have only grown stronger. My love, alas, seems to barely register me at all. For four months each year, as the post-holiday inertia takes hold, I hardly see him at all, but every January, like clockwork, he’s back and my one-sided animal-mineral passion resumes.
At times, I’ve caught him making eyes at the weight bench, though mostly he restricts his gaze to the undulating behinds of the ladies in the front row. As his physical condition improves, the owners of said behinds occasionally return his interest but I put paid to that with a simple adjustment of my speed or incline, ensuring the return of those pounds I’ve helped him shed, making him repellent to humans all over again.  
By now, he’s completely dependent on me. I’m sure we could have something special if only he’d realise what’s under his nose three days a week, January to November, if he’s not doing paintball. The stationary bike always that a relationship without communication is doomed without failure but I know of husbands and wives who haven’t spoken to one another for years. Our love goes beyond words: I flash my diodes, he grunts appreciatively; to expect anything more would be greedy.
Only, lately I’ve had some real competition. There’s a women who’s taken to flirting with him. To the untrained ear, her wittering would sound innocuous, but there’s a subtext to the talk of squat thrusts and bench presses that even the stationary bike has noticed. It’s not something I can allow to happen, a treadmill should never let herself be passed over in favour of a dumb belle. Options are limited, however. I’ve tried doubling my speed every time she sets her garish size fours on me, but, rather than put her off, it’s left her with the sort of healthy glow that paunchy middle-managers find hard to resist. Downing tools won’t work either; if I simply refuse to operate when she approaches, I’ll be sent to Kettering for ‘refurbishment’. I’ve no idea what that involves but the stationary claims he was a Raleigh Banana until he went there.  
Last week, I thought I’d successfully warned her off; a sudden judder in the middle of her warm down-‘unintentional’, naturally-left her with a sprained ankle. It should have put her out of commission for weeks, but, I’d forgotten about the sauna. Love, alas, would seem to have blossomed amidst the fug of frazzled sweat anachronistic faux-Nordic decor. They’ve arranged a rendezvous at the juice bar, though tragically, for her at least, it’ll never go ahead. My last play might be a little nuclear, but I know it’ll work. The next time the bitch sets foot on me, I’ve primed myself to short circuit and send several thousand volts through those exquisitely toned calves of hers. Some may call it futile, but for me it’s a dignified act of hari kari. Once I’m done with my rival, there’ll be nothing left of me for the finest minds in Kettering to refurbish. It’ll be a small price to pay. As I look down from the great gymnasium in the sky, I’ll know that even if I didn’t get my man, I made damn sure that no one else did.

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