Monday, 28 December 2015

Monday Flash Fics: Birds


“I’m so glad you could come. I really need the help and it’s been so hard to find.”

His eyes blinked fast and he couldn’t quite meet my eyes. I stared at Clifford and tried to figure out why he was so nervous about meeting me. After all, my coming here had been his idea.

“My car is not too far away. Come.” He took a few steps towards the exit of the train station and for a moment I just stared at his broad back before shrugging my shoulders and following. This wasn’t the welcome I expected. Sure, I came because he said he needed help but after all the chatting and flirting we’d done online over the past few months, I’d expected a hug at the very least.

“Tell me more about these issues you’re dealing with,” I said once we were in the car and Clifford had driven off

He glanced at me before focussing on the road again and for the second time I was convinced I saw a nervous twitch on his face. “I’ve got this huge order, which is fantastic of course, but I’m not equipped to fulfil it and….” The sentence trailed off without reaching a conclusion while a blush crept up his cheeks.

“So what exactly will I be doing? You do remember I’m a city boy, right? I have no experience with farm animals whatsoever. I told you this.”

Clifford nodded as his blush deepened. “I know. It will be fine. I just need a hand herding them in. That’s all. You won’t need to handle them or anything. Once they’re all in the small enclosure I can do the rest. Getting them there is a nightmare though.”

We drove on in silence, while I reflected on life’s surprises. Who would have thought I’d leave the city to go and help out a farmer? Me, who’s always said country life is as close to hell as I could imagine any place being. I smiled as I conceded that logic rarely plays a role when it comes to affairs of the heart. I mean, six months ago I couldn’t have imagined falling hook, line and sinker for a man I’d never met face to face, either. But we’d connected online and hit it off to such an extent I couldn’t bring myself not to offer my assistance when I read his desperate message.

As soon as we pulled up in front of a large farmhouse I wanted to tell him to turn around and drive me back to the station. “Ostriches? Really? I’m sure I mentioned my bird phobia to you.”

Clifford turned to me,his embarrassment betrayed by the nervous twitching of his lips and the discomfort in his eyes. “I thought…hoped it only applied to birds that actually fly.”

“And that’s why you never mentioned what animals you farm?” To my surprise I wasn’t nearly as angry as I would have expected myself to be.

He said nothing but got out of the car instead. I contemplated my options for a moment before opening my door and doing the same. I was there now and might as well see what would happen next.

Four hours later we had all but two of the birds locked away in a small enclosure. The last pair led us on a merry dance though. I’d discovered I don’t like earth bound birds any better than I do the flying variety. Those beaks got too close to my body, and were clearly intent on pecking me to death, given half a chance. I watched as Clifford tried to force one Ostrich in the right direction while the other one closed in on him from behind, stretched his neck and pecked him in the arse. The subsequent events seemed to take place in slow motion. Clifford stumbled, his arms flailing as he unsuccessfully tried to find his balance. I stepped forward and caught him before he hit the ground.

Clifford straightened while I still held on to him and stared into my eyes before bending forward and pressing his lips against mine. I closed my eyes, relishing the contact and thinking that maybe those ostriches weren’t all bad after all. I opened my eyes when Clifford pulled back and glanced over his shoulder.

I’m still convinced that bloody bird was grinning at me.


726 words

As always, other stories based on this image can be found in the Monday Flash Fics Facebook Group.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Monday Flash Fics: Advent Nights

Advent Nights

Christmas Eve is about to turn into Christmas and people hurry by. Pubs are closing and won’t reopen until the holy day is behind us again. I watch the others, no doubt on their way to warm houses, loving families and comfort, while I wait—like a fool. Why am I here? I should be at home, drinking a beer while watching something inane on television. Chasing your dream is one thing; freezing your arse off because of something you dreamt is something different altogether.

But you’ve never dreamt like this before. The little voice in my head—an almost constant companion these days—wastes no time trying to convince me my reasons for being here are good. I can’t deny there’s something to the argument. I mean, I know for a fact that I’ve never dreamt the same dream every single night for three solid weeks before in my life.

It’s stupid to pin your hopes on a dream, no matter how repetitive. Dreams mean fuck all. I know that better than most. Every single dream I’ve ever had has been squashed. And yet…. He was there. Every single night he came to me, held me and allowed me to sleep peacefully, something I haven’t been able to do in two years.

The snow falling from the sky is as rare as it is unexpected and makes others still out and about giddy and playful. He first came to me on the first day of Advent. It felt like the answer to a prayer, even if I don’t believe in God, religion or miracles.

I wrap my arms around myself as I remember how low I felt that night. Another Christmas was less than a month away, people were talking about it; asking me if I’d started my preparations. As if I had something to prepare for, someone to give a present to. I wanted to hide, lock myself away and not resurface until the festivities were over, or—and that thought had been new and scared me—not resurface at all. I sat on the edge of my bed and whispered the words: “please help me. I can’t do this anymore. This loneliness is too heavy a burden.

I didn’t see him that night. I woke up, as I always do, after two hours of sleep, to find myself not fighting a nightmare, but held in a warm and comforting embrace. Refusing to turn around and discover who the strong arms belonged to, I knew I should be scared but all I experienced was a deep rooted sense of belonging. He didn’t say a word that night, just held me until I fell asleep again. When my alarm woke me up—the first time in two years I’d needed it to rouse me—I was alone again. I had dismissed the whole experience as an illusion, when I noticed the indent in the pillow I hadn’t slept on.

When I went to bed the following night I’d managed to convince myself it hadn’t been real, that I had probably been more restless in my sleep than I usually was and had disturbed the pillow myself. The nightmares niggled at the edges of my consciousness that night until they were smoothed away by a hand softly stroking my hair. I opened my eyes this time and stared at the strong arms holding me close to what I could feel was a broad chest. In the moonlight filtering through the gap between my curtains the fine hairs on his arms appeared golden and I allowed myself the luxury of stroking a finger across his wrist before closing my eyes again and falling back asleep.

He’s shared my bed every night for the past 25 days. I started to think of him as my personal Advent calendar after ten nights. He gave me a little bit more of himself every time he appeared. Over time he touched more of me. On that tenth night he allowed me to turn around so I could see him in all his almost ethereal beauty. Last night he spoke to me for the first time and asked me to trust him and wait for him here.

I check the time. Two more minutes to go before midnight and I fight the urge to walk away. I’m convinced my wonderful illusion will be shattered if I stay. No matter how realistic those night time experiences were, regardless of the fact that his image is now imprinted on my memory with such clarity I could pick him out of a crowd of hundreds, I can’t make myself believe he’s really going to show up anywhere except in my bed, while I’m dreaming. It’s much easier to accept that I’ve at last lost my mind than try to explain how a beautiful stranger could find his way to my bed night after night, or why he would want to do that.

“You came.” The voice is as soft and as melodious as it was last night. His hand on my shoulder is familiar; I recognise its size and the soft, comforting, squeeze.

“You’re real.” I whisper the words as I slowly turn around; torn between hope and despair.

“I am now.” He bends forward and pushes his lips against mine, awakening longing, lust and hope inside me. “All it took was a little faith.”


With 896 words, this story is almost two flashes long. J Since I’m taking a break for Christmas and won’t be writing a flash for next week that seems appropriate. Thank you for reading my weekly shorts and encouraging me with your comments.  I wish you the happiest of Christmas’s and wonderful New Year.

As always, others stories based on this image can be found in the Monday Flash Fics group on FB.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Christmas on Adelaide Road - A Free Download

Christmas on Adelaide Road

Christmas on Adelaide Road takes place about a month after the end of the main story in Scenes from Adelaide Road and is now available as a FREE read, exclusively on the Pride Publishing website.

This book does not contain spoilers for the main story and can therefore be read both by those who would like to spend some more time with Lennart and Aidan and by readers interested in checking my lads out.

The blurb:

One month after settling into his new life with Aidan Cassidy, nineteen-year-old Lennart Kelly is about to experience his first ever traditional Christmas.

 From stuffing and cooking a turkey to the intricacies of giving and receiving presents, Aidan and his family show Lennart the true meaning of an Irish Christmas.


Unusually for me I was fully alert as soon as I woke up. I wasn’t normally this good early in the morning, especially not in winter with the room still shrouded in darkness by eight and the cold air surrounding the bed doing nothing to entice me from underneath the warm covers and away from Aidan’s comforting presence.
“Time is it?” Aidan’s gravelly early morning voice and half formed sentence made me smile.
“Only six. Go back to sleep.”
Aidan curled his arm around my waist and pulled me close.
“Not thinking about getting up, are you?”
Aidan’s warm breath ghosted over the back of my neck and made me shiver.
“I’ve got lots to do,” I said.
“You’re not going anywhere until I’ve had my Christmas cuddle.” Aidan tightened his hold on my waist and kissed the back of my neck just below my hairline, a very sensitive spot, as he knew all too well.
“Like what?” He sounded more awake now. “What can you possibly do before me ma arrives to cook the dinner with you. The house is clean enough, we could eat off the floor if we wanted to.”
“I know, but….” I didn’t finish my sentence because he was right. There was absolutely nothing I could do at six o’clock in the morning. I was restless though. I wanted to be busy. Waiting made me nervous. Today would be another first for me in a long line of new experiences. The past seven months had taught me to trust that the unknown was, more often than not, positive and exciting, but I hadn’t managed to rid myself of all my old insecurities yet.
“Relax, baby. Turn around, give us a kiss.”

Download link:

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Outhouse Book Drive – An Update

Yesterday, I went back to Outhouse in Dublin for a meeting with the centre’s manager. Martha Whyte is a wonderful and enthusiastic lady who clearly loves her centre and the job she gets to do there.

She took her time to tell me about Outhouse, its history and all the great services it provides. I won’t go into all the details here, because they can be found on their website, but it was inspiring to be told about it all by someone who is clearly devoted to her job.

As far as the book drive is concerned, I do want to share the following. The Outhouse library doesn’t have a dedicated librarian at the moment, but they have started the selection process and hope to have somebody starting in January. Of course that works out brilliantly with my initial plan; to collect the books now and donate them by the end of that month. If everything goes according to plan, the new librarian will be familiar with the library and the current stock by then, and ready to receive and integrate the new books.

Like I said, Martha Whyte is very enthusiastic and it was impossible not to get swept up in her passion. And that is why I’ve now committed myself to putting all the titles they’ll receive from us in a spreadsheet. Hopefully that will make it easier for them to determine what exactly they’re receiving without having to handle every single paperback immediately, and to integrate the books into their existing catalogue.  I will also be working out a schedule which would allow me to stay involved with the library and the centre after the donation has taken place. It won’t be easy. It is a three hour round trip for me and my regular job often has me working on varying days but where there’s a will, there’s a way, so I’m sure we’ll be able to come up with a plan that works for all involved.

The fact that I’m creating that spreadsheet means that I need all the books to come to me before I bring them to Dublin. I will be contacting everybody who still needs them, with my address details over the next few days. And if you're interested in joining this book drive please contact me:

We also spoke about author readings and meet-and-greet events and Martha assured me the centre would be more than happy to welcome visiting authors to the centre. So, should any of you have plans to visit Dublin at any point in the future and be interested in such an event, please let me know and I’ll help set it up. This is, of course, an open-ended invitation.

Finally I want to thank everybody for getting involved and for your generosity. The response has been so good that I was mildly afraid of overwhelming the centre. Fortunately they’re made of tougher stuff than I gave them credit for, and they are very excited about welcoming any book we’d like to make available to their readers.

By coincidence, the first five books arrived by post yesterday and have been recorded. I can’t wait to see what the postman will be bringing next.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Monday Flash Fics: Water


I’m grateful for the shower chair. I’m not sure my legs would have held me up right now. I’ll never get used to how even the smallest of reminders can evoke this deluge of emotion in me.

You’d think I’d be over the worst of it. After all,nine months have passed. Isn’t pain supposed to fade over time? Or, if it doesn’t lessen, shouldn’t I at least have gotten used to it, have found a way to live through and with it?

Tears mingle with the water falling from the shower head as I remember the phone call, the mad dash to the hospital and, in excruciating detail, the moment his mother told me. I knew before she opened her mouth. It was in her bloodshot eyes, the way her shoulders drooped, the downwards curve of her mouth and the fact that she suddenly looked smaller than she actually was.

“I’m sorry,” she said. It took only two words to shred my heart to bits. She talked on and I caught words like 'aquaplaning', ‘did what they could’ and ‘maybe it is better this way’ but I wasn’t listening any more. I only knew one thing; he was gone and nothing I did would bring him back.

I close my eyes and squeeze my hands into fists, swallowing hard to keep the sobs from escaping. Shedding a few tears is one thing; I don’t want to be loud here, where others can hear me. It’s none of their business. Nobody knows I’m still as torn up as I was during those early days. As far as the people who know me are concerned, I was ready to face the world again two months after the funeral. I made myself available for work and functioned. As long as nothing rocked the boat I could float through my days on automatic pilot and being busy meant I had less time to feel.

Most pieces of my heart have reattached themselves to each other but there are still chunks missing; Lee shaped chunks. And I’m not sure I’ll ever find those again.

I rest my head in my hands for a moment before looking up and towards the exit again. It must be nearly time to get out of here.

“Cut!” As if on cue the director ends the scene. “That was perfect, Mark. I think we got it in one. You got those heart breaking emotions down to a T. If that isn’t an Oscar-worthy performance I don’t know what is.”

I turn the water off and accept a large white towel from an assistant. As I dry myself I almost smile. Lee would have been delighted to know that even in death he’s the backbone of my career.


452 words

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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Call Out to All Authors: Outhouse Book Drive

Outhouse Book Drive

While visiting Dublin yesterday I decided to at last do something I’d wanted to do for months; visit The Outhouse, a Community and Resource centre for LGBT people, their families and friends in Dublin’s city centre. The Outhouse offers a wide range of services—have a look at their website here—but I was particularly interested in their library. (Well, I would be, wouldn’t I? Occupational hazard and such.)

The images of the library show a comfortable room, filled with books. I could imagine myself happily spending hours there, reading in one of the comfy chairs. However, what I didn’t find on those shelves, were any LGBTQ titles like those we write. And the thing is, as far as I know there is no bookshop or library in Dublin (or Ireland) where those books can be found.

I stood in the middle of that room, looking around and imagined how wonderful it would be if there was a shelf or bookcase filled with books by the authors I’ve come to love.

So I came up with this rather ambitious idea for a book drive. But I need help to make it happen. I would like to ask all authors writing LGBTQ books to send (a) paperback(s) to me. I’ll collect all the books and then bring them to The Outhouse at a future date. Right now I’m looking at January 26th, which would give me the time to get this organised and would allow for books to reach me without getting caught up in the postal madness over the Christmas season. That date also happens to be my birthday, and it is a good Dutch tradition to give to others on that occasion.

This is a general call out. The Outhouse operates as a lending library, therefore books for all ages and all tastes would be welcome. In fact, I would do a happy dance if one or more Young Adult authors were willing to participate. The one shelf of titles aimed at that age group did disappoint me, especially since I firmly believe teenagers benefit most from being able to read about people and situations they recognise.

Please contact me if you would be interested in participating. My email address is or you can send me a PM on Facebook. If we all work together we’ll be able to transform this library and turn a wonderful space into a small piece of heaven.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Monday Flash Fics: Back from the Dead

Back from the Dead

‘Name?” I stare at the man behind the desk, wondering why I think I know him.

“Richard Black.”

He stares at me for a moment before asking, in a much softer voice, “date of birth?”

“April twenty-fifth, nineteen-sixty-five,” I reply.

He lifts his hands from the keyboard and gazes at me, his eyes wide. “You…that….I thought you were dead.”

The moment he says the words I realise I do know him—Stanley Tormey. And just like him, I was told he’d died.

“I’ll be finished for the day in fifteen minutes, can you wait?” The choked quality to his voice matches the feelings rushing through me and I nod, unable to trust my voice. Memories assault me as I lean against a wall and watch him deal with other applicants.

At eighteen, both of us still believed everything was possible. We had no doubt love would be enough even if the rest of the world frowned upon our feelings and despised us for refusing to hide them. The foolish pride of youth saw us through nine months of sheer bliss. We had it all figured out. We would finish school and leave our small town behind to make our future in what we expected to be a more tolerant wider world.

Even now, all these years later, I remember those months in vivid detail. The electricity between us when we first looked each other in the eye, the delightful shock of that first kiss, exploring his body—so much like mine and yet so different.

Our happiness was all consuming, our innocence both a blessing and a curse. Would we have acted differently if we’d known what was to come? I doubt it. Together and in love we felt invincible, until reality showed us we were anything but.

I still can’t remember the details of that night. When I woke up in a hospital bed, my parents told me Stan and I had been attacked, viciously beaten and left for dead. They didn’t commiserate when I shed hours worth of tears at the news that Stan hadn’t survived. By the time I had finished the rehabilitation programme, my family had moved to the other side of the country.

Maybe I should have known when they refused to bring me to Stan’s grave, but my head didn’t work any better than my body and I allowed them to organise my life while I remained numb and withdrawn—battling against the voices in my head telling me I should have died instead of Stan, or at least with him.

“What about your life now?” I ask after Stan has told me his story which is almost a carbon copy of mine. We’re in my apartment, lying beside each other on my bed as if we’re not strong enough to stand or sit.

He shakes his head. “I tried. I’ve been in a few relationships but none of them lasted. It never felt right.” He turns onto his back and stares at the ceiling. Unable to resist and because my life has followed the same path as his, ever since that faithful day, I push myself up and drape myself over his body.

“I know,” I whisper. “None of it felt right because none of them were you.”

I close my eyes and rest my forehead against his chin, back where I belong at last.


As always more stories based on the same image can be found in the Monday Flash Fics Group on Facebook.