"I expect you’ll be becoming a schoolmaster, sir. That’s what most of the gentlemen does, sir, that gets sent down for indecent behaviour.” Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall
Short stories
Housewarming

Housewarming

His grin shows off his molars, and he grips you with a handshake that could hold up a bridge. He announces his name like he’s its proud parent, and then holds your gaze in a vice so that when you mumble your own name back to him, it sounds like ‘Uncle’. When you turn a...
Miracle at Hawk's Bay

Miracle at Hawk’s Bay

Matthew High. We knew it would be him. Even before Hannah turned him over, we just knew it. It was Annie who saw him from the road. “Look,” she said, and when she pointed at the dark shape out there in the shallow water, there was only one thought in all our heads – please...
Amerika's box

Amerika’s box

The decision to change their five-year-old daughter’s name was a bold one for Ahmed and Fatma to make. Kuwait was, after all, a country tangled in red tape. But like most of their fellow citizens in the year 1991, Ahmed and Fatma wanted to commemorate their nation’s gratitude to America. Fatma was in her late...
I looked for you, I called your name

I looked for you, I called your name

The first thing that went wrong was the emergency landing. My husband and I were both reading In Flight Magazine and enjoying the complimentary wine in first class – I’d never flown first class before, but it was our honeymoon and we thought that was what we were supposed to do; drink in the daytime,...
The old she-wolf and the little girl

The old she-wolf and the little girl

In Manchuria, now north-east China, a large she-wolf and a girl just four years old squatted in a sorghum field. The wolf was sturdily built, but she was old and patches of her fur had fallen out and most of her teeth were missing. The little girl wore a white shirt with red baggy pantaloons,...
Female killers

Female killers

When she goes to bed, which is earlier and earlier now, he stays up at the computer. He checks the weather, reads an online tabloid, and plays backgammon with someone who says he’s a retiree. Who wins is an open issue, and shortly after midnight the retiree logs off. So then he surfs around, visiting...
A man should be able to do things

A man should be able to do things

The first time I tried to install the star nut, I had no soft blocks to cushion the dropouts and no vice to steady the fork, so I rigged up the front end and straddled the wheel, squeezing with my knees. I placed the nut in the mouth of the steering tube and covered it...
The wraith

The wraith

Carl Blunt was fully aware when he married her that Lurene was an unhappy woman, and he’d had no illusions about the possibility of her ever changing. She had told him as much when they met: “I’m not happy,” she’d said, on their second date, a dinner followed by a walk along the lake, “and...
Gifted

Gifted

When the nurses handed me my son, I couldn’t believe how perfect he was. Ben was so robust, nearly fifty inches tall, including horns and tail. Even the doula was impressed. “My God,” she said. “My holy God in heaven.” Alan and I knew instantly that our child was exceptional. He was just so adorable,...
Balloon night

Balloon night

Timkin’s wife left him during a blisteringly cold Thanksgiving week, two nights before their annual Balloon Night party. There was no time for Timkin to call their guests and cancel; nor would he know where to call in many cases. It was the sort of event attended by people from all corners of their lives...