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simon collis

musings of an omnivorous biped

The paper jutted halfway out of the typewriter, four words black in the moon light:


At least this time, Daniel thought, he had managed four of his own words.

He sat there, in the gloom, looking at it. The sleek grey metal body looked darker in the moonlight, and the white letters on the black keys shone out. The “Olivetti” on the back plate was readable, but the “Lettera 22” was a little harder to see. Read more

This is the third part in a trilogy. If you haven’t read them yet, then I recommend reading “If, Never” and “Jenkins Is The Problem” first…

“What’s this?” Eric asked, looking through the recent photos.

Lusha looked away from her canvas and back at the screen.

“Hmm?” she pondered. “Looks like the building over the road.”

“Not that,” Eric zoomed in, pointing at the screen. “Here.”

In the window, clearly visible now, were a man and a woman kissing.

“Oh yeah,” Lusha giggled. “Didn’t see that when I took it.”

“Knew that SLR was good,” Eric said. “Told you it was, didn’t I? Costs a bit but we’ve never had anyone return one yet.” Read more

Jenkins Is The Problem (If, Never part 2)

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/03/10
Posted in Year of Short Stories  | Tagged With: , , | 3 Comments

This week’s story is a sort-of sequel to last week’s story – If, Never. You might want to read that first…

Francesca arrives at the office at half past seven. She is, if anything, slightly later than usual; as if she needed a traffic jam, today of all days. She opens the door to the office block using her card. Dolores, the cleaner, was still using the buffer on the faux marble floor of the lobby.

Come on Dolores, she thinks. Get on with it, please!.

“Morning,” she says, breezing past towards the lift. Dolores murmurs something unintelligible. She can feel the tension creeping up her, apprehension starting to bubble up into her consciousness.

What if she looks at my shopping bag, she thinks. What if she sees the bag, and wonders what’s in it?.

She presses the button to call the lift, trying not to fidget during the eternity before the doors open. She keeps hoping for her phone to beep, or for Dolores to say something, or really anything to happen to distract her, even just for a split second. Kevin wouldn’t text, of course. They have a “don’t text” policy, ever since that close call when his wife heard her text come in on his phone. He’d passed it off as work related, but still… Read more

If, Never

Posted by Simon Collis on 2018/03/03
Posted in Year of Short Stories  | Tagged With: , , , | 2 Comments

I caught the bus at quarter to seven, as I normally do.

It’s the usual grey route to work. Grey tower blocks, grey concrete walls, grey gardens, grey weather.

And then we get to the first stop, and on she gets. I think her name is Jennifer: that is, I hope it is. She’s tall, willowy, with wispy golden hair and a laugh that can break a man’s heart. She sits next to me on the bus, and we flirt a little. She giggles, demurely, face partly hidden by one hand as with some kind of old fashioned modesty she has to hide her face, like she’s a heroine in a Victorian novel instead of a mobile phone shop customer service agent in a mini dress.

“Ticket please?”

I shake my head and look at the empty seat beside me. I reach into my pocket, draw out the season ticket and hand it to the inspector. He waves it against a machine that beeps, and he hands me back the card.

I look around again on the bus. There’s a row of seats facing sideways just in front of me, and the first one has a blind man with his dog.

I say blind, but we both know that’s a cover, of course. There’s exquisitely crafted surveillance devices built into his glasses and his dog is highly trained to sniff out explosives. He’s undercover, of course, and we both know it. That’s why he’s there. I’d reveal myself, if I had to, but I only know this because… well, let’s just say I’m involved. A little. Well, maybe more than a little. Read more

Jack House – Murder Not Proven?

Posted by Simon Collis on 2016/12/04
Posted in Reviews  | Tagged With: , , , | No Comments yet, please leave one

Murder Not ProvenHaving rattled through this in just over – ooh, 31 years – I thought I’d just quickly write about it.

The reason it took me 31 years to read is simple. In 1984 the BBC adapted it into a series. I watched, absolutely fascinated (coming from a family of fans of Agatha Christie, Ruth Rendell, Ngaio Marsh and the ilk, that’s hardly surprising). What amazed me was the “not proven” verdict – that strange halfway house between “well, you might have done something, but they’ve not actually proved there was a murder there in the first place”. The series of four dramatic reconstructions having finished, I took the book on holiday to read. Alas, I left my copy on the boat on the way to France, having read only the first chapter.

So, 31 years… a record for me. Was it worth the wait?

Actually, yes. Read more