CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
Craig Stemford was a solicitor. On the surface, his life seemed rosy. He lived in a smart house in Chepstow Villas, London W11, and was a partner in a successful law firm, Bright and Stemford Solicitors. But, for some reason, he was not happy.
His law firm practised from Golden Square, London W1, and being close to the red-light district, had developed a speciality in sex crimes. This work was largely carried out by Craig himself, since the other partner, Dicky Bright, mainly specialized in copyright and media-related law, which enabled Dicky to hobnob with celebrities while Craig kept company with punters of every sexual activity that Parliament had ever declared an offence to public morality. During his work, Craig would frequently have cause to count his own blessings, but whenever he tried to do this, his mathematical abilities escaped him. There seemed to be something missing in his life, though he was not sure what.
Several months ago, Craig’s unease persuaded him to take up internet dating. He became acquainted with a whole new world, almost an ideal world, an exciting garden of Eden that was divorced from reality. But for Craig Stemford, this divorce was soon due to end. In fact, it would end at one-fifteen that afternoon at Heathrow Airport. For two months, he had been chatting to a girl called Andrea Segovia who lived in Madrid. Craig was convinced she was perfect for him. In the first photo he saw of her, she had long, dark hair, and dark, Mediterranean looks. The photo reminded him of an episode from his childhood, some thirty years ago.
At the age of fourteen, Craig became infatuated with a boy he frequently saw in a television advert. The boy had these same dark, Mediterranean looks, the same long black hair, and in one scene he swam underwater, wearing nothing but a loincloth. Whenever Craig saw the boy, he felt a pang in his heart but would then dismiss the feeling—as a boy who glanced longingly at some expensive toy in a toyshop window but then walked on by, concealing his desire for a pleasure beyond his reach. Craig had long-since forgotten about the boy in the advert, until he saw that first photo of Andrea. Her image brought back his every recollection of the boy swimming underwater. He felt the same pang in his heart, only now he did not have to conceal it. He cherished it. He cherished her. And now there she was, walking towards him in the arrivals hall.
They went back to Craig’s house in Chepstow Villas. His front door was reached via a short flight of steps. The next-door house had the same arrangement and as they were climbing the steps to Craig’s front door, they noticed a large van parked in front of his neighbour’s house. Two men emerged from the back of the van, carrying a large wooden frame with various leather harnesses hanging from it, rather like a medieval torturer’s apparatus. The men were muscle-bound and one wore a tee-shirt, bulging jeans and an unnaturally dark tan, while the other wore a leather harness over his naked torso and a black leather cap. The capped man looked at Craig and Andrea and winked at them. The other man paused to rearranged his crotch and then they carried their burden towards his neighbour’s front door.
Craig told Andrea, “They must be setting up a new shoot.”
She said, “I will feel at home here. They are holding a Spanish Inquisition next door.”
Craig was not sure whether she was joking. He thought she probably was, but he found the subject of his neighbour too saddening to laugh about. They closed their front door behind them and he explained that the next-door house was now owned by a company called Triple Ex Productions, who produced sex videos.
At 17 Misconception Boulevard, Peter Softly was sitting at the kitchen table, holding Lily Smithe’s letter about her gas meter not being read and everybody drinking her milk. His eyes kept scanning the lines, trying to make sense of them, but though the words themselves seemed simple enough, he could not get to the meaning behind them. He read a few more words but still could make no sense of them. It seemed that wrong ideas must be in there somewhere, behind the words, and he knew he had to find those ideas before he could remove the monsters from people’s heads—for it was those wrong ideas that grew into the monsters that possessed everyone. He tried re‑reading another line.
Sally entered the kitchen and stood beside the table. She seemed to have had another go at rearranging her tracksuit—the trousers were now on right‑side out, but the top was inside out and one of the trouser legs seemed to be twisted back to front. She watched Peter but he stubbornly kept his eyes on the letter (—I know what he’s doing now; look at him—he’s deliberately ignoring me to try to make me think his trick in the living room worked. Well, it hasn’t, because I could see he was only pretending to strangle me—). She looked at her hand, so as to pick out her most emphatic finger, then pointed this at him and said, “Don’t think I don’t know what you’re up to.”
He “pretended” to have not heard her.
She recalled that contorted look on his face as he was pretending to strangle her and she gave her most emphatic finger a good shake and told him, “I can see exactly what you’re up to; I can see it in your face!”
He still pretended to have not heard.
She watched him for a moment, then reflected (—Now look at him; he’s now keeping quiet to make me do all the talking. Well, I won’t say another word; see how he likes it then). She clamped her lips together, determined to never utter another word to him—not, that is, until he saw how stupid he was being and started talking to her. She watched him in silence but he still deliberately ignored her while pretending to read his letter. Why, to look at the way he was frowning at it (she reflected) anybody would think—anybody who did not know him as well as she did—that he was trying to figure out some cryptic formula that could solve every problem in the world.
He shook his head doubtfully, turned the letter over, frowned at the other side, then shook his head again, put the letter aside, picked up another one, opened it and started frowning at that one.
Sally noticed that his hands were shaking. No doubt (she reflected) due to the terrific strain of maintaining this silence.

Links

Some links to other sites of literary interest.

Project Gutenberg. The first internet archive of free electronic books. There are now over 25,000 books available free at this site.

eBooks@Adelaide. The University of Adelaide Library’s collection of Web books. The collection includes classic works of Literature, Philosophy, Science, and History.

ReadPrint. Online books, free to read. From all the classic authors, though with some authors, only the most well known of their books are yet added. The books are nicely laid out easy to read.

Complete Works of William Shakespeare. The Web's first edition of the complete works of William Shakespeare. The texts are clearly and simply laid out, making them a joy to read. Navigation within each play is also straightforward.

The Literature Network is a vast store of online texts: books, short stories, poems. The full texts are included but the more popular works are peppered with advertising. If you don't mind that, happy reading.

Gaslight is an archive of classic short stories which were originally published as an internet discussion list. Genres include: mystery, adventure and The Weird.

East of the web. A growing collection of classic and newly-written short stories made available on the Web. Stories are organized by theme: fiction, romance, crime, sci-fi & fantasy, humour, horror, hyperfiction, children's, and nonfiction. Includes works by many famous authors.

George Boeree. This site contains many fascinating nonfiction etexts introducing every aspect of psychology. George's writing is clear and straightforward.

The Internet Classics Archive. An archive of works of classical literature in English translations. The works are mostly Greek and Roman, with some Chinese and Persian works.

Online Magazines

TheAtlantic.com. Current affairs magazine with short stories, essays and poetry. See the archive of short stories.

Narrative Magazine. Fiction, poetry, short short stories, nonfiction, features. Good quality writing. You can subscribe to the site free of charge, which will allow you to read the full text of the stories.

The Oldie. This magazine was created by a previous editor of Private Eye, as: an antidote to youth culture but, more importantly, a magazine with emphasis on good writing, humour and quality illustration.

Zoetrope All-Story. A short story magazine. You can read samples from many of the stories online, but will need to purchase a subscription to read the full text.

3:AM Magazine. Containing fiction, nonfiction, interviews, poetry, opinions.

Resources

How to Write a Story is a blog consisting of articles on how to write.

Refdesk.com. Today's news stories from around the world. And other similar reference material.