Tag: crooked tales


a tale for the really grown up – with thanks to Laurie Anderson


You expect cold, snow-laden winds, whistling through the pines, not a warm summer day with bees casting shadows the size of hornets on the blinds. And the itch comes. It comes sudden, unbidden – erotic, terrifying, perverse, immense. If it were tobacco craving, you could distract it with work or food; if it were junk withdrawal you could scream, go begging or thieving the money to score, but it’s more than these. Like a command that cannot be disobeyed, ‘Ten’shun!’ or ‘Hands up!’ or ‘Strip!’. You have to scratch. You HAVE to scratch. While the hair, once placid and flat, close to your skin, stands up and grows. It grows all over like a rash, longer and longer, filling your clothes, stifling, erupting until you have to expose it to the air, to feel it lift and move, cooling the fire on your skin. Your tongue catches on your teeth – bigger now, forcing your lips apart in a snarl. Then you howl, whether there’s a moon or not. You howl your need, your lust, your demand:

On a day like this, lost to convention, morals, decency, you go out to find some game. Others can’t see it, except for your gliding motion, your lupine smile. The rest is hidden from their simple eyes – your fangs, your claws, your appetite. There are possibilities everywhere, driving you crazy with hunger, making you drool with desire. Which one shall I take?

You see the one – sweet, round and full of life. Breathing softly. It looks at you with curiosity. Your eyes sparkle with interest. It smiles. You return the favour. You approach and circle dance, seeking to unravel it and find the soft spot … where to bite, when to move, how to pin it down, to rip and chew, swallow lumps whole, lick your lips with joy, sink your jaws right in and feast! Holding it close so you can smell and taste it all!

Oh, the smoothest skin! Oh, the hot body! And the meat. Oh, the meat!


for Margaret

“Whose bright idea was it?” demanded Ben as he sat down at my table.

My eyebrows went up as I looked at his glass.

“Which idea? Is that a triple?”

“Yes” he took a gulp. “To ask my grandmother to speak at the Annual Dinner.”

“Henderson’s. Why?”

“That’s my question!”

“You know him. Any opportunity to look good with the women and the wrinklies. I mean, she’s been with the Association since year dot so it looks like he’s showing respect for long service. So what’s the problem?”

He took another drink. “You don’t know my grandmother!”

“True. Her heyday was a bit before my time, but she’s always been there in the background.”

“In her heyday, as you put it, she stayed in the background, doing the things you’d expect women to do in those days. Now it’s like her corset’s off – or whatever kept her in the background – and anything’s possible. “

“How old is she?”

“Eighty eight.”

“She’s still got all her marbles hasn’t she?”

“Most of them, as far as I can tell, but they’re likely as not to go off in all directions.”

“What’s the worst that can happen?”

“Don’t ask!”

He’d turned really pale. He finished his scotch, stood up and headed to the bar.

“Mine’s a pint!” I called after him.


Poor Ben. It occurred to me he had his own ambitions for preferment in the association and any embarrassment his granny might cause could impact on these. Still people’s memories are generally short when it comes to minor historical figures.


Everyone agreed he was a big bloke – when he walked in the open double door of the bar, he’d brought half the door-frame with him. He bought a bottle of whisky, sat down at a corner table and started drinking. He did look horribly miserable, so Chesney had a bright idea and put a record on the juke box.

“Smile, though your heart is aching” sang Nat King Cole. “Smile even though it’s breaking When …” the record stopped with the screech of needle across grooves and a crash of breaking glass as the juke box exited via the bar’s big shop window.

“You could have used the reset button” said Frank, the bar owner, plaintively.

There was a yelp as he followed the machine through the glassless window.

Chesney went outside to complain to Frank, sitting up now by the pile of bent chrome-plated steel and plastic.

“My record didn’t get played. Can I have my nickel back?”

Frank was still staring at him blankly when the big guy appeared behind Chesney, gripped his hair and banged his thick head repeatedly on the side of the Wurlitzer until the cash box fell off. He then picked up a coin, inserted it into Ches’ open mouth, slapped the idiot’s back and returned to his whisky bottle.

When he’d finished swallowing, said idiot turned to Frank and demanded, “What are you going to do about all this?” Whereupon Frank swung that famous left hook and punched out his lights ….