Confused by Kevin Murphy

Confused by Kevin Murphy

(September 2015 Flash fiction from Trigger)


It had been one of those sort of days. We had at last sat down to our cup of tea. Mine was stewed and cold. I picked up where I had left off when the cold caller rang. “Confused…” I started

“Lights are okay!” she said.

I looked at my fag. I got what she meant. “No Martin,” I said “just mixed up.”

“I said he shouldn’t be hanging around with that course lot.”

She’s a bit stuck up is my wife, wants him to stick with Pony Club, but I told her he’s a bit grown up for all that now. “Not that pack,” I said, ” just mean he’s got his knickers in a twist about his suit.”

“He’s not wanting a red coat and one of those velvet hats is he? Those saboteurs from his college won’t stand for that if they get wind of it.”

“Let’s hope the wind blows out their fuse before it blows him up.”

“I thought you said the fuse was okay. I thought you meant ours, not our Rachel’s.”

I shook my head. How had we arrived at this impasse? Reminded me of the two Ronnies’ four candles. It’s age that’s what it is. I had better start again. “They’ve got a code at his new office, see…”

“Oh I get you,” she laughed, ” he couldn’t get in and…” she chuckled some more, “…he didn’t get caught up with the cats and dogs waiting outside!”

I looked under the chair. Sammy wasn’t there. I looked out the window and saw he was warming himself on the bench in my Summer house and Bonzo was sitting staring at him. “What, Martin? In our Summer house? When? Today?”

“No. Thought maybe he didn’t have a key.”

“Course he has Margaret. This is his house and always will be. Course he’s got a key. You haven’t taken it off him have you.”

“I’ve thought about it. Don’t want any of them getting in a looking in my drawers.”

I had had enough of her and blokes looking in her drawers. Pretty glad she had given up encouraging them. “What’s that got to do with our Martin and his jeans?”

She looked at me as if it was me that had the wrong end of the stick.

“You don’t mean he’s plumped for one of the girls in that gang? You never know where they were bread. Think of the grandchildren.”

“Won’t be like the war,” I said. “They never had it so good.”

She shook her head this time. “What’s the war got to do with it, Ron?”

“Rationing,” I said. “Bread queues and that. They’ve never had it so good.”

“He hasn’t had it with her yet, has he? How long’s he known her? They’re all on the pill these days aren’t they?”

“Now, now Margaret,” I said, “it’s you now…”

“It’s bloody, not,” she said, “I haven’t had it for ages, what with you and your prostrate…”

I took a gasp but she ploughed on.

“… I hope you’re not accusing me of having it with anyone else, Ronald Pickering.” She stood up and glowered down at me, hands on hips.

“Now sit yourself down, Margaret, don’t be going over all that again. I mean it’s you…”

Her eyes narrowed. Her lips pursed.

“… it’s just that it’s you that’s, well, confused.”


Confusion by Pete Brammer

September’s trigger ‘Confuse … Confused … Confusion’ – possibly based on words that sound the same, produced a great variety of pieces. A few follow Pete’s which takes the ‘pun’ route.

Confusion by Pete Brammer

Why does the washer eat my socks?

How does it achieve this ‘Feat’?

The way it’s going, I’ll soon be wearing,

Add socks upon my ‘Feet’.


It’s said, if someone’s clever,

That they are in the ‘Know’

But if you answer, in the negative,

You will then be saying, ‘No’


Words and many letters make,

A book containing a ‘Story’

Several floors of windows and doors,

Then, one could be a ‘Storey’.


Rasp, black, straw and tay,

All these are types of ‘Berry’

But you could live, in a town up north,

With a football team, called ‘Bury’.


Right in the middle of one’s face,

You’ll find you have a ‘Nose’

And how many hairs you have inside?

I’m afraid nobody ‘Knows’.


After a young lady marries,

Her name comes after ‘Nee’

And of all those pretty ladies,

I’d like some, on my ‘Knee’.


If you go and strip your clothes off,

Then you’re known as being ‘Bare’

But one who cannot do that,

Is the humble teddy ‘Bear’.


That bright light, high up in the sky,

Giving off heat, is the ‘Sun’

But a little male offspring,

Is of course, your ‘Son’.


A baker who’s been brought up well,

Could well be called well ‘Bred’

But then he makes his living,

By baking stuff, called ‘Bread’.


Long ago in days of old,

On a fire, you’d use a ‘Poker’

Then settle down, with a friend or two,

To enjoy a game of ‘Poker’.


A wild strike in a cricket game,

One might hear the shout of ‘Duck!’

But please don’t look into the sky,

Hoping to see a ‘Duck’.


Little girls, out for a walk,

For mum, may pick a ‘Flower’

But the miller, he gets covered in dust,

When turning wheat, to ‘Flour’.


Shopping for things at Harrods,

Could turn out very ‘Dear’

Like a pound or two of venison,

From that lovable, little ‘Deer’.


Every morning on your doorstep,

Came milk, in a glass pint ‘Bottle’

Yet when you’re scared of something,

They say, you’ve lost your ‘Bottle’.


Attending Retford Writers’ Group,

Stories and verse, we ‘Write’

But for me, the poems that do not rhyme,

I think, are just not ‘Right’.

Pete Brammer




SHOP! by Cynthia Smith


Mr and Mrs Kopinski were an elderly couple who owned a little store on Falmouth and Fifth. It sold just about everything and me and my friends loved going there on a Saturday morning. The shop was a veritable cornucopia; though I didn’t know long words like that then.

We would stand in front of the line of big candy jars, half a dozen of us from the same class in school, trying to choose between gummy bears, liquorice laces, sherbet dabs, jaw breaker taffy, and lots more. Mr Kopinski was kind and patient: he seemed to understand our dilemma. He had a round, plump, currant bun face, which would crease into such a big smile that his twinkley eyes almost disappeared. When we finally made our minds up, he placed our purchases into small paper bags and took our nickels and dimes, warm from having been clutched for so long.

This was only the start of our Saturday treat. There were dozens of toys for us to inspect and try out, even though we had no money to buy them. Mr Kopinski surely knew that, but it did not deter him from allowing us to run model planes, cars and other miniature vehicles across the counter and around the floor. We would play marbles and skittles and risk wearing out the mechanism on clockwork clowns and animals. It was said that Mr and Mrs Kopinski had no children of their own, which was maybe why they were happy to see youngsters enjoying themselves in their store.

Being a girl, I was expected to like “girls’ toys”, but found them boring. The clammy plastic skin on dolls felt horrible, and why should I play with replica household appliances like stoves and wash tubs? My mom hated cooking and housework, so why was it supposed to be fun for little girls to pretend they were doing it? It was obvious that boys had much more fun with their toys, so I preferred playing with them.

We liked trying to jump cars over larger vehicles, leading to numerous collisions and triumphant yells. Sometimes I heard Mrs Kopinski’s wooden shoes clacking across the floor as she came to check on the commotion. Seeing how much we were enjoying ourselves, she would smile indulgently and return to her provisions counter.

I remember one day at the store in particular. Tired of trying to wreck things, I wandered over to see if Mrs Kopinski needed any help. Mrs K, wisps of white hair escaping as usual from her little paper cap, was in the middle of getting an order together for delivery. Knowing she did not like being interrupted when she was weighing things out, I sat on a sack of flour to wait until she was free.

I was always interested to look at the things which the shop had for sale, even though some of them lining the walls had a coating of dust and so presumably were not popular items. This applied to a bottle of California Poppy scent, which I hoped would still be there when I had saved enough to buy it for Mom’s birthday. But the foodstuffs did not stay around so long. There were always boxes of cookies and Hershey bars, tins of beans, vegetables and pet food. Sometimes, towards Christmas time, there would be big fruit cakes, which Mom said you could put the frosting on yourself, so folk would think the cake was home made. I had never tasted most of the cheeses on the counter and, from the smell of some of them, I doubted I ever would. The same went for the collection of evil-looking, dark-coloured sausage.

On the wall there was a large red lobster. Although I knew it wasn’t real, its tiny black eyes and drooping whiskers seemed to give it a sad expression.

I had never tasted lobster. I wondered if I had enough quarters left to take one home for Mom, as a surprise for supper. As soon as Mrs Kopinski had finished the order, I asked her excitedly where she kept the lobsters, presuming there was a tank in the back of the store. To my surprise, Mrs K laughed.

“Bless you child, lobsters is what rich folk eat, or those that live by the ocean.” She carried on chuckling, as though I had made a huge joke, but patted me on the head when she saw my red face. I hated it when grown-ups laughed at me for something I couldn’t be expected to know. Before I had a chance to offer to help behind the counter, the doorbell dinged.

I recognised the portly gentleman who entered as the local bank manager. I had seen him when I was in the bank once with Mom. Disappointed that we had not left with a big bag of dollar bills I wondered why Mom had not asked the manager for some. She said it didn’t work like that, unless you robbed a bank. Now there was a thought. Perhaps when I grew up, instead of being a housewife I would be a bank robber. It had to be more exciting than cleaning and listening to your family complaining about what you had cooked for dinner.

Mrs Kopinski beamed delightedly when I asked if I could help her. I went to fetch the tobacco and boot polish that Mr Levy, the bank manager, wanted, and by the time I returned Mrs K was neatly wrapping his other purchases. As usual, she enquired about her customer’s health and about his family. Perhaps it was because Mr Levy went on so long about his bad back that Mrs K. appeared less interested than she usually did. When he had left the store, she gave a big sigh and passed a hand across her eyes.

“Oh Susan, I’m so sorry”, she said weakly. “I’m a little bit tired. I think I’ll lie down for a few minutes. Would you look after the counter for me, dear?” I could hardly believe that I had been entrusted with this important task on my own and waited eagerly for the next customer to come through the door.

As it turned out, I didn’t do any serving because the store had to be closed early. Mr Kopinski had come hurrying out to tell me and the boys that his wife was not at all well and he had telephoned for an ambulance. We children were shocked into silence and began to leave the store.

I was just going to pick up my coat and purse when the door bell jangled and someone called “Shop!” A man and a lady in uniform entered with a stretcher. The boys and I waited outside and watched as Mr Kopinski followed his wife, who was on the stretcher, into the ambulance. When it had driven away the boys walked off, but I stood on the sidewalk and cried. Supposing Mrs K died. She was such a lovely, kind lady. (I had completely forgiven her for laughing at me.) Whatever would Mr Kopinski do without her? After a little snivel I felt a bit better and hurried home to tell Mom. Sometimes I was glad I was a girl and did not have to pretend I didn’t have any feelings.

It was such a relief when we heard that Mrs Kopinski was not suffering from anything serious and had returned home that evening. Next morning I picked some flowers from our garden and took them, along with a little pot of honey which Mom had got me from the hive, to cheer up Mrs K. I left them on the step in front of the store, as it was still closed and I did not want to disturb the Kopinskis.

When I had told Mom how worried I was about Mrs K, she said the people in the hospital would look after her very well. That got me thinking how wonderful it must be to help sick people feel better. After all, bank robbers spent a lot of time in prison if they got caught, and nobody liked them, but nurses were “angels in uniform”. That’s what Uncle Harry had said when we visited him in hospital, and I had seen how many boxes of chocolates the nurses were given. Then I realised that the most important people in the hospital were the doctors. It must be amazing to actually save people’s lives.

Suddenly my mind was made up: I would be a doctor. And if Mom said girls couldn’t be doctors, I would walk over to Granddaddy’s and see what he said!


Those memories are from nearly thirty years ago. The Kopinskis and their store are long gone but I still have fond memories of my visits there. As I sit at my desk enjoying a much-needed break, my pager goes. Sighing, I leave my coffee and go to see what the next patient needs. Sometimes I think life would have been easier if I had been a stay at home housewife, or a shop assistant; but, on a good day, not nearly so rewarding.

Cynthia Smith




THE FAMILY KUMAR by Michael Healy


The year was 1956 and I sat in my Grandfather’s lounge

In his comfy chair beside his rotating wooden Bookcase

With each revolution different books appeared

Telling the stories of future or past.

One in particular caught my eye

And I decided to pull it free as it circled by

The title ‘The Family Kumar’ seemed fascinating

I pushed the bookcase further

And grabbed this book as it passed.

Around its leather binding, my choice still had a paper sleeve

Slightly ragged around the edge, but clearly illustrating the Indian Sub-continent

Painted with vivid pictures of workers on their land,

And in the background stood a busy village;

Bullocks pulled two wheeled carts along dusty tracks loaded with wood for fires

And young women queued to pump up water,

Clearly it all depicted that a meal was about to be prepared.

And that is just where the story began, as I started the Introduction.

I opened the volume and began my read.

Set in India at the time of the British Raj.

At first it seemed a quite happy tale.

The family was comfortable with food, water and a bungalow.

And they all worked together at different jobs on their four acres of fertile land.

They really had a comfortable life, except for Adam.


He was the eldest son and politically aware, unlike his four younger brothers

He objected to the British presence, even though his father disagreed.

‘They have brought us food, water, medicines and banished fraud,

And, now we all have a fair chance to progress’.

‘We can join their Army, their Civil Service and they give us education’.


I had been very young , but I still recalled the stories from 1947

Indian independence from Britain,

and resulting murderous conflicts with neighbouring Pakistan.

As I read further it was clear that Adam had been involved in uprisings

He was on the run from the British officials, and yet his love was Kate.

Kate was a Consular Secretary, a member of the ‘other side’.

Life was very confusing for 24 year old Adam, but he loved the auburn hair of his young lady.

As he grew older the pull of the politics weakened, and yet his friends despised this.

How could he love an English maiden, yet hate her nation.

He almost agreed, but his love was stronger.

Over the following weeks I hardly put the book down.

As time passed I felt closer to the members of the Kumar family.

How would their lives evolve in this changing World?

The book finished adruptly, with many questions still unanswered

Did Adam and Kate get together?

I had to know.


The last page of the book advertised a sequel ‘,The life of the Kumars’

I had to get that book to find out what happened!

But it was not to be found In my Grandfather’s rotating bookcase.

Michael Healy

If this story is of interest, perhaps you may wish to get hold of the (currently out of print) book:

‘The Asian Community, Medicines and Traditions’

By Dr M A HEALY and Dr M ASLAM   Silver Link (1990)

I REMEMBER by Charles Baker


I remember the seaside trips on train

I wish I could capture that feeling again

I played on the sand and paddled in the sea

I rode on the donkeys and laughed with glee

I drank cool fizzy pop and had chips for a snack

On the train home I slept ail the way back

TIME PASSES…                      

I remember those endless long sunny days

All my friends tussled in a general melee

We all played soldiers inside a nearby wood

Some played the bad guys the others played the good

We made wooden rifles all painted in black

All of these memories are now flooding back

TIME PASSES…                     

I remember the bike rides in the clean country air

Mile after mile our destination anywhere

Around every corner was a place we could play

Cycling along till the end of the day

Then the weary ride home if s time for returning

For those short years of childhood I find myself yearning

TIME PASSES…                     

I remember camping at night, near a bridge and a ford

Looking up to a dark starry night our fitting reward

We invented a villain filled with evil intent

Ours was the axeman who crept into your tent

Eating cold beans straight from the can

Soon we would pass from childhood to man

Charles Baker

One hundred and five millimetres of Rain by Michael Healy

One hundred and five millimetres of Rain

One hundred and five millimetres of rain,

One hundred and five splash and dash down the drain,

One hundred and five fell in just one night,

One hundred and five, what a terrible sight!


August 10th 2004, and the sky turned black

The clouds grew heavy and the thunder cracked,

Torrential rain, driven hard by the storm,

Poured from the sky from dark until dawn.


All around the flood waters rose

Drain pipes gushed like high pressure hose,

Down from the fields the water cascaded

Until slowly the torrent of rain eased and faded.


The roads turned to rivers, forcing cars to plough on,

Through deep swirling flood water’s gathering ponds.

The crops in the field were all flattened and battered

To the flooded home owners, not that that matter.


And there on the TV the figures were stark

The reports highlighting the plight of Newark

Heading the list of the sites of this deluge

No wonder our ducks took shelter and refuge


With more than one month’s rain in just one night

A most unpleasant and memorable sight

So August the tenth will long be recalled

The night 105 millimetres of rain did fall.


                                                        Michael Healy

STORM by Pete Brammer

STORM by Pete Brammer

Way out, on the Atlantic Ocean,

Bobbing up and down on the waves,

Rowed a very brave, young Irishman,

He’d been rowing, for ninety eight days.


Gradually the sky was darkening,

With a vicious storm, building up,

“I swear you will never beat me,

I’ll win, by hook or by crook.”


Flashes of lightning, lit up the heavens,

Just like the 4th of July,

Rising and falling, on 60 foot waves,

He thought he was going to die.


At its height, he was forced to take cover,

Secure in the bowels of the boat,

With all his years of experience,

This time ’twas certainly, no joke.


For the final hours, she was upside-down,

After her mast had broken in half,

He was sporting, a broken left leg,

With a large gash, down the right calf.


For a week he’d survived, in a pocket of air,

Like a baby, there in the womb,

He often wondered, would he survive?

Or would it soon be his tomb?