He was in
that tunnel at the taxi rank but the rain was pishing through the roof. He
fucking hated himself. He had let it happen again. He fucking hated it it was
as if he’d committed a crime but the only crime was self inflicted. He knew this
would happen. The tunnel finished and he was out there, exposed. He realized he
was talking, aloud. He didn’t care. The rain was rattling down and it was a
hike to the bus stop. His arms were cold where they were touching his sleeves, the
water had penetrated. His ticket was in his breast pocket and it would be
sodden. That would do him, an argument BUT I FUCKING PAID FOR A RETURN!
Bastards, all of them, he was the biggest. He was a bastard, scum, he wasn’t
fit to call himself a human being. He had to take the long way round at the car
rentals because of the traffic. The weather was vile, it was apt. He knew this
was going to happen. He knew it, too right he knew it he fucking planned it. As
well as a bastard he was a user, he fucking deserved it, he deserved this
turmoil. The road under the dual
carriageway then he was up the other side and the rain was joined by gale force
winds. There was a queue at the bus stop, everyone huddled into the shelter. No
room for another body, especially not his. He got his tobacco out. There was a
cigarette already rolled. He hadn’t smoked all day. After contortions with his hood he got it alight. It didn’t last long, he couldn’t even taste it.
His first smoke in eight hours, what had he been trying to prove? Mr Clean
Living. The bus came. There was no
shouting about the ticket. He found a seat half way down the aisle and rubbed
the condensation off the window. He saw his reflection and
wanted to spit in his face.
"These stories are about obsession. They're about men who want what they
can't get. But they're not obsessed with money or fame or youth. They're
obsessed with that perfect almost-relationship from the past. That
precious moment they threw away, or lost somehow, whether because they
stank with drink, or because another man was on the scene, or because
fate just intervened. Secrets are hinted at. Dark things that linger in
the memory - but not necessarily in the memory of that woman from two
decades ago who also experienced it. The fact is, they can't turn back
the clock and regain that lost ideal, and, slowly but surely, the men in
'A Man's Hands' come to realise that.
Andrew McCallum Crawford's
characters brood and despair as they wrestle with the dark places in
the human psyche, yet there's humour in these stories, too, especially
in the wry Canny Cyclist. I think overall my favourites were Player,
Chicken Soup and When Iron Turns to Rust. But they all have something to
recommend them. The reader's always safe in this man's hands."
- Carol McKay
Written in Greece.
Published in Scotland.
Now being read in Greece.
Many thanks to everyone at Northwords Now. When Iron Turns To Rust is the penultimate story in my new collection, A Man's Hands, which is available for download at all Amazon domains.
A short extract from the story:
Trying to boil water in a small, long-handled pot.
The flame was tiny, sputtering. There was hardly any gas left in the canister.
The water had to be boiled, and boiled well. It was orange, the colour of old
iron. He tried to tell himself it was nothing bad. There is nothing harmful
about iron. It is supposed to be good for the blood. Maybe it would make a man
of him. But he was careful. You never knew. Germs. It is never wise to give
them a head start.
The flame wheezed. He would have to risk it. He
added a teaspoon of coffee and stirred vigorously. Perhaps friction would speed
Someone was at the door.
He wiped the spoon on his vest.
A woman was standing out in the passageway. She
looked vaguely familiar. The expression she wore was tearful, apologetic. A
suitcase was at her side. He became aware of his heart beating as vague
familiarity welled up into something else.
"Andrew McCallum Crawford just keeps improving, his short stories are
chiselled to perfection, the unsaid undercurrents in his stories have
always been deep, but in this new collection the personal riptides reach
new depths. An astonishing collection on the pull of memories, and the
gnawing need to find some sort of completion. Well worth the money.
Indeed, I would say, grab it while you can. This man is going places."
The book is available for download (Kindle/iPad/Android etc) at all Amazon domains. Hope to have you as readers some day.
Just to let you know that my new collection of short stories, A Man's Hands, was published today.
The collection includes stories that were first published in the literary journals Body (Czech Republic), Ink Sweat and Tears (England) and McStorytellers, Northwords Now and Spilling Ink Review (Scotland). Four of the stories appear here for the first time.