Guest Post: Blow-ins by Nick Reeves

Today, I am very proud to be hosting my first guest post: a short story by Nick Reeves. Nick lives on the North East coast of England and many of his stories are set in the fictional town of Penn Beacon. He counts magpies (of which there were 8 at the last tally), and collects ephemera & beach debris.

I asked Nick to contribute to this blog because of the outstanding and experimental nature of his prose and poetry, which is rich with stunning and unusual descriptions and eye-catching metaphors. Please check out his blog for yourself. Nick can also be found on Instagram @nicknick_severe.

Blow-ins

“She rents her spare room to wash-ups.”

“Wash-ups?”

Michael and I are talking somethings and nothings or as it turns out, comings and goings. It’s just chit chat as I cut his thin hair in the fading window light of his kitchen.

“Blow-ins.”

The fading sunlight brightens a rhomboid, falling slant and soft across the tiles, his shoulder, my hands, the walls. It dapples the ceiling. Shadows no heavier than light. Snippets of his hair shuffle around the floor falling between the gaps in the boards, lodging in the cracks.

“Oh, blow-ins,” I say.

He’s talking about Sheila next door. Her husband is a rumour. Her past is a hearsay. Her hair is a chemical, crispy wave of black. If I see her on the street, in her fox fur collar, her groceries in an orange net bag, I say hello. Her voice is a brogue. And at any given opportunity she will tell of the old country. I listen to the pictures she paints.

I live upstairs to Michael. I hear him playing piano beneath the floorboards. And sometimes I hear haltering renditions given by his students. But, since he mentions it, I am aware of a new noise coming through the wall from Sheila’s house next door: a man’s laugh; a dark, complicated, hacksaw laugh, like a jackdaw snagged in a badger trap.

Late afternoon, last autumn, a horsehead seal, come ashore on a storm for rest, found itself bellied at the foot of the seawall at Weston. The blubbery, brown thing attracted an audience, and some of them began throwing titbits of biscuits and corners of pasties and pies.

And some of the crowd grew rowdy and soon enough teenagers skimmed small pebbles & flew spat over the railing to see who could land one the nearest. I was surprised to see adults, trying to frame, as some people do, a photo – by pulling ever further away from the subject – shooing their children down the steep, sea weeded stone steps, with a grin, toward the sorry creature.

The tide turned after some time and the sad thing, stranded at the foot of the steps, nested in its litter of wrappers and scraps of strewn. It was the talk of the town all afternoon and the noises that it made, moony moans, only seemed to draw more laughter. I could barely bring myself to look in its eyes as it cried, or in the eyes of those all around me. So I left that crowd of crows and went home.

His is a laugh that even before a face is put to it signifies danger and anger and cruelty and hatred. It rises up from the backyard, by the bins, in the back lane, the bedroom, the ball game, the ballot booth, the bookies, the barbershop, the bus stop, the bar. And it seems at once to be in this room with me – even with the windows closed.

Michael went off to look at his hair in the bathroom mirror and I stood at the kitchen window and watched the waves falling on the beach.

Nick Reeves

©2020

If you would like to contribute to this blog, please contact me by email. I am looking for exceptional examples of short fiction, flash fiction and/or prose poetry, which must be experimental in some aspect of their composition. If your contribution is chosen for inclusion, I will contact you prior to publication. All rights remain with the contributing author.

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