The Third Sentence

Many creative writing classes and manuals will stress the importance of the first sentence, that it must grab the reader’s attention. Even Hemingway espoused this fallacy. But the first sentence is never enough.

Yes, it must grab the reader’s attention, If it doesn’t the reader will go elsewhere. There are plenty of options — but if the second sentence is flaccid, all will be lost. The second sentence fulfills the promise of the first.

But it is the third sentence that seals the deal. The third sentence assures the reader that the writer is authentic, that they are worth listening to, that they have something to say and have the command of language to say it with flair and authority. They can be trusted.

After that the writer will be ‘in full swing’. The reader will be committed;  will go along for the ride.  

The Thing in the Cage

It always come down to this: Did he see it or did he not?

Warren goes to the Children’s Hospital to see his daughter who’s been run over by a car only he gets lost in the maze of corridors. He panics, opens doors at random, many without signs. That’s when he sees it, the thing in the cage. It’s humanoid, hairy,stands upright and rattles the iron bars. It looks him in the eye. A stricken, get-me-out-of-here look. Warren is horrified. What is it doing in this big white room? In a Children’s Hospital? Warren backs off, fumbles for the door handle, and races out, down the corridor, any corridor that leads to the light. What had he seen? Was it an experiment?  Was it top secret? Had he seen something forbidden? He retches for air.

When he steadies himself, he goes back to Reception, makes sure of directions this time and finds his daughter. He does not say anything about what he has seen. He knows he has seen something he should not have seen. Or maybe he had seen nothing at all. Frenzied phantasmagoria.  He keeps quiet. He talks to his daughter about home, about how she is, about when she is coming home. They talk and talk and talk and he holds her closely. .

True Colours: the Story behind No Sympathy …

When people ask me, did you have any inkling in all that time you knew him, I say, not really, then I think of the incident in the restaurant,the one that slipped beneath my notice in what was meant to be a piece of devilish fluff in ‘No Sympathy ….’

It began in the third line: Hey! Is that a glass of water you threw over me? That’s when autobiography took over and followed us out onto the sidewalk where I was shoved to the ground when my back was turned and my mate who had turned rogue did a runner.

So did I know? Did I suspect? I sure did: in those moments he unleashed diminutive, haiku-sized bursts of anger, I could feel the embers of a conflagration 18 years before that the forensic squad, armed with new evidence and methods of detection, were sifting through and building a case.

His mate, Dale , who let him stay on his property at Second Valley in a caravan while he got his life together, fell victim to Adrian’s wrath.

All that time Adrian proclaimed his innocence, He was the only suspect. He lived at my place for a while, He rode a bike, did the gardening, spoke to the kids, Everyone loved him. A top bloke, they said. Then the night ….

Once my friend was charged with the cold case and sentenced, he finally admitted to us: Just think, he said, 15 years for five seconds of madness.

That little haiku of a revelation warned me that of all the affairs we have to manage in life, our temper comes first.

No Sympathy for the Devil

Look, I say taking him aside. I don’t like my character swearing. Can you tone it down a bit?

Tone it down? I’m the ^%$##@ devil, for Christ’s sake. It’s my prerogative.

Not on my watch, it isn’t. Hey, is that a glass of water you just threw over me?

Someone’s getting a bit heated. Someone needs to cool down.

Looks like we’re being asked to leave, I say. I haven’t finished yet.

( we exit, letting him go first]

You’re very red in the face, I say.

I’m the 8&^^*devil, he says.What do you expect me to be? Pasty-faced as you?

Okay, okay, I say. Couldn’t you stay on script?

Ever heard of ad libbing? he says. Adding a bit of swagger?

Stick to the script, I say as a pretty woman passes by. I turn to look.

Hey, did you just push me to the ground?

It’s better than me knocking your block off. Now where were we?

Curse of the Statues

Just when I was about to retire the statues a friend pops up

with a proposition that floors me.

Look at the legs, he says, the position of them.

I do. I have a good hard look.

Well, the legs are not in the right position for the proper performance of the act.

Couldn’t they move them?

They’re statues!

You mean …

Yes, they’re condemned to a life of Eternal Abstinence.

The curse of the statues! I reply. It wouldn’t be much of a life, would it?

Well, it wouldn’t suit you and me. he answers. But people do it all the time. Nuns and priests, for instance.

And incels … I say.

Yes, incels and celibate statues.

Can we leave the topic now? I ask.

Yes, he says. I think it’s run its course.





* what do you think?

Does Anyone Know Where the %$^# They Are?

I was in McLaren Vale, the heart of the wine growing region, trying to find a well-known winery called Fox Creek.

I didn’t have a GPS in the car but I checked on Google Maps before I left so I had a pretty good idea. Pretty good, as anyone can tell you, is not good enough.

I knew it came off Almond Grove Road. Locals would know where that was.

I asked some passers by. Some said it was a little north, another somewhat east, a third said ‘straight ahead’, the honest ones shrugged their shoulders. Dunno, they said. I stopped and asked a guy in the coffee shop. He was adamant it was the next road to the left. It wasn’t.

Honestly, does anyone know where the ^%$&* they are???





* do you know where you are?

ps: I wrote this while I was exasperated

I Once Played Godot

I once played Godot in a high school play.

It was my big moment. My first step to stage stardom.

After all, I’d be playing the main character, the one the play’s named after.

-Where are my lines? I say.

-You have none, I am told.

I grow suspicious.

I once played a tree in a Xmas play.

-No Lines?

-You wait in the wings. You’ll get the hang of it.

It sounded dubious but I hadn’t been picked for anything all year.

-I’ll give it a go, I say.





          On the night I am a little nervous. I peep at the audience, the anticipation on their faces. I hope I perform well.

          The curtain goes up.

          I keep waiting for my cue to come in.

          The play keeps going and going.

          By intermission I still haven’t been called.

          -When do I go on?

          -You don’t. You’re the guy they’re waiting for.

          -Then why don’t I go on?

          -If you did, there wouldn’t be a play.

It seemed a pretty flimsy premise to hang a play on, but who was I to argue? My big moment would have to wait.

The Man Who Lost his Face

I was reading about Dallas Wiens who, while working inside

an hydraulic arm,  brushed against powerlines while painting

a church roof: how God  sizzled through him  but burnt

his face away; the word ‘debridement’ came up, the practice

of removing dead tissue, fat, muscle so a transplant could take place;

and I thought, hey! isn’t that’s what it’s like when you’re burnt

by fast and furious love? the high voltage thrill and fury that knocks

the heart sideways and scars it till the scorched pieces can be debrided,

a lovely and awesome word that suggests a young bride being ripped

from your side: ‘debrided’ , oh wow!

Reece Didn’t Mind

Reece didn’t mind that I pointed out the spelling error in his notice,

claiming he was in a hurry when he did it, at the start of Covid,

and that auto correct doesn’t pick up errors  in CAPITALS;

and I was only the third person to notice anyway in all that time ;

he still gave me the pen and paper — & while the others

were playing at playing golf, I was playing at being a writer,

chasing after errant words while others chased after errant balls;

when I showed Reece what I had written , he said, Hey! That’s not

how you spell my name: it’s ‘RHYS’, he smiled. He got me there

Rumble: Flash Fiction

We were holed up under the same roof, two people who couldn’t stand each other. And we had the whole night to spend in the same one bedroom flat. I took the lounge, she took the bed; we didn’t even say goodnight. We were murderous to each other. I could feel the old Minotaur in the labyrinth of my brain, gearing up for a rumble. But there could have been blood. Pray, I say, pray, don’t let her taunt me. I was scared of myself more than her. The Minotaur was raging. Just then the door opened