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When you write a novel, peripheral characters often ask you to tell their side of the story.  At times their voices are so loud and persistent in your head that they are hard to ignore. Six Degrees grew out of this and my desire to play with the short story form as well as try my hand at Flash Fiction.

In these Magic Realism vignettes several peripheral characters from Six Dead Men and its upcoming prequel, Palindrome, tell the reader what they think of the Deed family (mum – Rowena, Dad – Arthur, son – Robert). Sometimes the Deeds get to say their piece too. There are also hints of things to come in Palindrome. So as one of my favourite poets would say: read “wid de whole of yu eye”.


Extract


Limoncello

“Stop!” My raised hand shouts my silent scream.

Too late.

The filleting knife slides in, sucks coming out.

After that all I remember at first is the recipe for limoncello.  And the Italian words I’ve been learning.

Lemons
Limone
Lots of lemons
Un sacco di limoni
Vodka
Vodka
Caster sugar
Zucchero semolato

Gradually the memories twist round and round then stab into and through me.

Sweet young Robert worries about how cold I am on the coroner’s slab.  I so wish I could tell him I feel nothing now yet know almost everything.  Like how much he loves Lorenzo and how my careless cheek kisses made him blush.  Or that his father truly loves him and on that score he need not be weighed down by such colossal doubt.  But what I know of Rowena I will never tell.

I’m all adrift now, floating from venue to venue.  First here where Arthur Deed performs my post-mortem while Robert acts as scribe.  Arthur’s so reverent with my remains.  Robert so very respectful inside his sorrow. 

I never expected this.

Then it’s on to the jail. Lorenzo’s shivers at my presence lie masked beneath the shudders of his huge grief.  I cannot stay here too long.  Even in my current state his pain bores a hole through to the other side of me.  When my whisper trail leaves his cell it takes great effort to gather myself together. 

Finally there’s enough shade in my shape to move on to the Deed’s kitchen.  Here Rowena welcomes me as she ever did and I see Robert glimpsing fragments of me as I settle on the cushion of the rocking chair by the kitchen grate.  There are worlds of wonder waiting to awaken in him.  Like his mother, yet not.

So to him the task of vengeance must fall.

Rowena’s sadness at this knowledge is evident only in the quick pursing of her lips and brief thought echo.

But he’s still so young.

I go to her.  My cheek brushes against hers.  She sighs her resignation.  We both know it for his destiny.

For now Robert only sees the motion of the chair’s rockers left by my passing. But soon he’ll see and know so much more.  Perhaps, even too much.

Time to go.  I have lemons to zest and squeeze, hotel rooms and people to haunt

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