The Swimmer

Jammy Doggs stepped into sea and waded out, the pull of the waves sweet against his legs. He bent to feel the water between his fingers, test the temperature against the eighty years of sea wisdom he held in his heart. The gentle fog rolled across the waves, cool and lovely. The white sand shone […]

Dog of a Mutineer

Pricket sat in his cabin and stared again at his chart. Clearly there was no Northwest Passage and never had been. They’d been embayed in ice these last six months, starving and riddled with scurvy and flux. With the slow coming of spring they had a chance to take leave of this damnable wasteland, sail […]

Cash Only

The woman smiled up from the table, her mouth a wonder of dentistry. “Welcome,” she said. “Remember, cash only.” The house was modest, yet overfull. Every item bore a small yellow tag with its price. I stood in the living room in front of an empty china cabinet, its contents arrayed on the table behind […]


“You’ve had an accident.” The voice was soft, with an accent Lloyds couln’t place.  He tried to open his eyes and saw nothing. “We bandaged your head,” the voice said. “I’m afraid it leaves your eyes covered. It’s temporary.” Lloyds opened his mouth to speak, but this too proved impossible. “Oh, so sorry,” said the […]


When my family came to the river country there were almost no whites, and damned few Abbos. First it was the smallpox, killing eight out of ten, then the long dry which turned the Murray into a road of of puddles with grain skiffs sunk to the scuppers in the deep red mud. My great-granddad […]

Normal for Norfolk

Trosher was rat-arsed, all right. Four pints in five minutes, as the saying goes. He reeled out of the pub looking right queer, his face all bishy. “Oi!” he yelled, walloping me on the back. “Hold yer hard, bor!” “Gettin’ on me wick, Trosh,” I said, moving away. He stopped and held up a finger, […]

Kiss Me, Hardy

Two seamen carried Lord Nelson down through the smoke to the cockpit with infinite care, Captain Hardy following close behind. The buckle of Hardy’s shoe clattered against the deck as he walked, severed by a splinter blasted from the taffrail by the Redoutable’s broadside. In the muffled din of the cockpit, Nelson offered a thin smile. […]

A White Rose to Tend

Rosita picked up the smooth stick from outside the door and carefully pared the black mud from her feet before she stepped inside, the mended nets drying on the scaffold Ronaldo made for them before the sickness had left him an invalid. She set the bucket of cleaned shrimps on the stone hearth, then poked […]

Él Regresa

Gibbs stepped out of the Zenith onto the cracked cement of El Ronco airfield. A slender man in black BDUs and sunglasses climbed out of the Humvee idling a hundred feet away, his sidearm bumping as he walked over with arms outstretched. “El Bergón!” he cried and he threw his arms around Gibbs. “Mi compañero. […]

Fort Canby Days

Fort Canby was constructed during the Civil War. God knows why. By 1863, all the hostile Indians had been deported to Shitsville, Oklahoma and the looming threat of the Confederate Navy was confined to Mobile Bay and its environs. I was stationed there in 1941, a regular Army sergeant on my third and (I thought) […]