In a word: Pray

It’s usually associated with the church, and saying a prayer for someone or something, but it kind of covers a lot of different situations, like,

We’ll pray for rain, we’ll pray for Mary to recover, I’ll pray for forgiveness.

In other words, in all of these instances, we are looking for intervention by God.

There is another instance, not related to religion, in that in a general sense you can pray for good weather over the weekend because they’re going camping.

In fact it is basically to hope for something very much.

It is, in a sense, wishful thinking, because in reality, no-one can predict, let alone dictate, what the weather will be.

It is also a forceful way of saying something, like,

Where the hell have you been, pray tell?

There is another word that sounds quite similar, prey.

That describes a creature that is hunted by another for food.

It’s also someone who is easily deceived or harmed.

It could also be something that preys on your mind


I’m ready, finally, to set sail.

It was touch and go with the preparations almost foundering on the rocky shoreline that represented the plot holes, and in the end, I put all of the plot lines on cards and blue tacked them to the wall in the order I expected they would play out, and it showed where the holes were.

It was an innovative idea, sadly not my own, but one I used many years ago when working as principal researcher for a company biography, a company that had been in business since the 1890s. Inthat instance, I collated the main points attached to dates, sorted the cards m into date order and it gave a very clear historical outline.

The same, I found worked for the plot, and in being able to attach a loose timeline across all of the plots and sub plots to see where, chapter wise, they were going to fit in. Or where something was missing.

I know there’s probably very good computer software that also does this, but I was getting distressed, and didn’t want to put it all into a program, and find it didn’t do the job quite as i might expect, and being so close to starting time I didn’t have the time to fiddle.

Call me a luddite, but what did we do before computers. Yes. Pencils and paper.

Or was that charcoal and papyrus?

Betwixt metaphorical houses

It’s like working in two offices, one uptown, and one downtown.

I have two blogs, this one, and another which is purely for writing, and generally, a lot of starts and not a lot of finishes.  I get ideas, and it’s a place to store them, and give a few people some amusement at my, sometimes, improbable situations and far-fetched stories.

Here I try to be more serious.

I have the ceiling, the cinema of my dreams.  Here anything is possible, like jumping from a helicopter about to explode, and survive, and get out of a sinking ship, like Houdini.  Of course, there is always one time when it doesn’t work, and Houdini knows that all too well.

Over there, I have a series which I started here, long ago, where I take a photograph and write a story inspired by it.  The interesting thing about that is I could probably use the same photograph over and over, and it would inspire a different tale.

I know, if I was running a writing class, everyone would see that photograph differently.

But what amazes me sometimes is the fact the story is not directly related to the theme.  It got me thinking about how we view our experiences, and what triggers memories.  I’ve discovered that it doesn’t necessarily happen by correlation, say, for instance, a memory of being in New York might be triggered by a visit to a cafe in Cloncurry.

I try to do one of these every day, but sometimes it’s hard work.  Writing itself can be some days, particularly when the words are lurking there, behind that invisible, impenetrable, rock wall.

OK, so I’m stuck in the middle of writing a piece over there, and I’ve come over here to whinge.

But, enough.  I’ll let you know what the cinema of my dreams is showing, later.

“One Last Look”, nothing is what it seems

A single event can have enormous consequences.

A single event driven by fate, after Ben told his wife Charlotte he would be late home one night, he left early, and by chance discovers his wife having dinner in their favourite restaurant with another man.

A single event where it could be said Ben was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Who was this man?  Why was she having dinner with him?

A simple truth to explain the single event was all Ben required.  Instead, Charlotte told him a lie.

A single event that forces Ben to question everything he thought he knew about his wife, and the people who are around her.

After a near-death experience and forced retirement into a world he is unfamiliar with, Ben finds himself once again drawn back into that life of lies, violence, and intrigue.

From London to a small village in Tuscany, little by little Ben discovers who the woman he married is, and the real reason why fate had brought them together.


Conversations with my cat – 61


This is Chester.  This is just before he jumped on the bed and started scratching at the cover.

In the first place, he’s not allowed on the bed.  Somehow he seems not to have got that memo.

In the second place, I don’t like being woken up with a rather shrill meow in my ear.

What, I ask, in a rather grumpy tone.

He sits on my stomach.  Maximum effect for a cat that’s heavier than it looks.

It’s national cat day.

Rubbish, I mutter.  I’d know if it was or wasn’t, it comes up on the computer.

It’s national cat day.  You have to do what I tell you.

As if that doesn’t happen every day.

I throw the cover over him and he disappears.  Get out of that, I say, and I’ll think about it.

In the meantime, I go down to the computer and have a look.  National cat day?  Not our national cat day, it’s in the United States of America.

I hear the jingling of his bird warning system coming down the passage, then a moment later he appears at the door to my office.

Got your wires crossed mate, I say.  It’s in America, not here.  Back to the boondocks for you matey.  I’m going back to bed.

I think I just noticed a cat can shake his head like a human.  Or maybe not, it’s too early in the morning to be bothered about it.



I’ve always wanted to go on a Treasure Hunt – Part 31

Here’s the thing…

Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.

I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.

But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.

Once again there’s a new instalment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.


Was she insinuating that Alex Benderby killed Jacob Stravinsky?

“Alex is a bully but he’s not a murderer,” I said, and wondering, at the same time, if he had finally graduated to a full-blown bad guy.

“He wouldn’t do it.  Like his old man, they get others to do their dirty work.  I’m sure the significance of Alex being out on his father’s boat was not lost on you.  You asked the questions, and now that I’ve thought about it, it’s possible those divers could have planted the body on Rico’s boat.”

It’s one thing to come up with theories, but it was entirely another to suddenly realize they might be true.  Until this point, I was happy to let Boggs have his dream that one day we might uncover a treasure trove, thinking that it was more fiction than the truth.  It made a good story, one of hope for a person who had had very little of it in the past.

Now, it was becoming horribly true.  What might amount to proof there might be treasure buried somewhere along this coast, an expert being interrogated and then killed, and a pair of what could only be described as gangsters about to start fighting over the spoils and not afraid of killing anyone who got in their way, these were omens, omens not to be ignored.

“Then don’t you think this is far too dangerous to get involved in?  Look what happened to Boggs and I.  We got off lightly if what you say is true.  I’m surprised if this Stravinsky is dead, then why isn’t Boggs?  He had the map, there’s no doubt Vice would assume he had made a copy.  What to stop him from doing the same to Boggs and Benderby did for Stravinsky?”

“Vince is not a clever as Alex.  Vince will never take over the Cossatino clan.  Alex, on the other hand, is the next generation of Benderby thugs.  But I suspect the older Benderby doesn’t know what’s going on.  Not yet anyway.”

My bottle of beer was empty.  Now I think I needed something stronger.  A lot stronger.

There was a knock on the door, which caught us both by surprise.

Are you expecting anyone?” I asked, and in the next second suspected it might be Vince, and I’d been led down the garden path to a place where I really didn’t want to be.

“No.”  She went over to the door and peered through the peephole.

“Damn,” she muttered.

Another, more demanding, knock.

She turned to look at me, “It’s Vince and my father.  I didn’t ask them to come here, and no, I didn’t tell them anything, whatever you might be thinking.”

All I was thinking right then was the coincidence of their arrival and being very afraid.

She opened the door.

Vince barged in almost pushing the door into his sister and stopped when he saw me.  At a more sedate speed, Giuliano Cossatino, Nadia’s father came into the room, and also stopped when he saw me.

There was no mistaking the malice on Vince’s face.   Nadia was right.  He was all muscle and no brain.

The older Cossatino spoke first.  “I see you have a new friend, though I would have thought you’d have better taste in men.”

“Your days of telling me what I can do and not do were over the moment you sent me away.”

“And yet you come back, slinking about like a thief in the night.  Your mother was most upset when you didn’t tell her.”

“The fact I have to, as you call it, slink back, should tell you a lot.”

“That you’re still the idiotic child you were before you went away.”

OK, now I was in the middle of a domestic family standoff.  I was waiting for the order for Vince to throw me out, quite possibly over the balcony for good measure.

“I should leave,” I said standing, “and let you two work it out.”

Vince took another step forward and was now only two paces away.  I’d have to go through him to leave.

“Stay,” Cossatino said.  “I have nothing against you.  Yet.”

“If you’re thinking this is anything but reminiscing about the old days, Mr Cossatino, then you’d be wrong.  There’s nothing between your daughter and I but air.  And,” mustering more bravado than I felt, “call your attack dog off.”

“Or what?”

“You don’t want to find out.”  Where was this coming from?  I was saying the words, but they were not my words.

“I hardly think…”

“That’s probably your biggest fault,” Nadia said, in a tone that suggested she was rapidly losing patience with her father.  

It was clear to me now, she had a hard time of it as a child, not unlike the rest of us, but for different reasons.  The bullying didn’t have to happen at school, but I could see why she had been like she was back then. 

“You never gave me any attention except to treat e like garbage, no, worse than garbage.  I can see nothing has changed.”  Then she switched her attention to Vince.  “And look at you, daddy’s little attack dog, as Sam says.  I’d start worrying Vince, because one day someone’s going to beat the crap out of you, and then you’ll be nothing, just like me.”

Vince only had one expression, so it was difficult to tell if he was worried or not.

Back to her father, “Why are you here?”

I doubt anyone had spoken to him like Nadia just did, and he looked angry.  If I hadn’t been there, I was not sure what would have happened to her.

“Your mother would like to see you.”

“You tell her to grow a backbone first, then when she does, I’ll think about it.  Now get out of my room, or I’ll call the sheriff.  At least he’s not in your back pocket.”

She picked up her phone and made ready to call.

A flick of his head got Vince to back up to the door and open it.

“You will regret this, young lady.”

“And don’t you forget I know where the skeletons are buried, so I’d leave now before some of them start rattling.”

A look of suffused anger flashed across his face, and he took a step forward.  I was not sure what to expect, but Nadia did take a step back.  She knew what he was capable of.

“We need to talk.  Don’t make me wait too long or there’ll be consequences.”

A glare at me, another for his daughter along with a shake of his head, then he left closing the door quietly after him.

I sat down before I fell down.  Nadia visibly wilted.

“I’m sorry about that.  You might have thought twice about threatening Vince.  You know he’ll come after you now.”

“Let him.  I always thought you were close to your father.”

“Daddy’s girl I was not.  Daddy’s biggest disappointment, maybe.”

“You didn’t ask him to come?”


“But he didn’t come here to ask you to visit your mother.  It sounded like a last-minute invention.”

“It was.  My real mother is dead, and my stepmother was the reason why I was sent away.  Among other things.  No.  He was here to tell me to get closer to Alex.  It means only one thing.  This treasure hunt is about to get very, very ugly.”



© Charles Heath 2019

Conversations with my cat – 60


This is Chester.  Once again we have a standoff.

This time it’s over the scratching post, and, I guess, where I’ve put it.  Silly me, I didn’t think it mattered where I put it.

But, you’d think he would be grateful I spent nearly a whole day building it for him.

And many more hours trawling the pet shops trying to find a replacement that was better than the last one.  It’s amazing just how much these people want to charge for something that I could make for a lot less.

So I did.

Is it possible that Chester wants me to spend a fortune on a new scratching extravaganza?  it’s not as if he knows anything about money, and costs, and effort.

Or does he?

I’m beginning to think this cat is a lot smarter than he looks.

Still, once again I pick him up, get the low growl because he knows where I’m taking him, and then put him on the top level.

Perhaps it’s the smell of the new carpet.  It certainly makes my nose wrinkle and doesn’t do much for allergy sufferers, but it is new, even if it is an offcut.  Surely he couldn’t be offended at that, could he?

Perhaps I’ve won.  He’s sitting there looking at me.

Now, if only I could read his mind!




It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day…

OK, I’m sure I’ve heard these words before, like the rhythm of a song you can’t get out of your head, perhaps because the guy next door won’t stop playing it over and over.

There’s a story there, but it can wait.

I’ve just been reading the news, and there’s a lot of plotlines in the offing, but I’ve changed the names even though you will have no trouble recognizing the perpetrators.


Plotline 1

It’s a conspiracy doozie, beleaguered President realizes that if he can get a particular candidate into the Supreme Court, all his troubles with his extramarital affairs, and one in particular, will go away.  It happens and changes the course of history forever.

No, hang on, it’s removed the past 200 years of history and we’re back where we started from, the dark ages.  The Vatican is in the process of posting help wanted ads, “soldiers required for inquisition”.

Talk about a blockbuster time travel novel that doesn’t just shift one, two, or even three people, but the whole world…


Plotline 2

Why is it that every journalist that disappears had to be a ‘dissident’?  Journalists disappear all the time, some on long boozy lunches, some down the rabbit hole called taking a hiatus, but it’s only a story if there are a few ‘so-called’ secret agents flying in around about the same time.

Of course, it works better if it isn’t necessarily a journalist, but some rocket scientist that’s suddenly dropped dead in the street, particularly if it is one from a perceived ‘enemy’ country.
Plotline 3

Space travel for the common man, well, a common man who will be able to afford it.  Seems HG Wells stories are about to come true.

Will a real-life Star Trek be next?  I kind of like the idea of being instantly beamed from one place to the next.  I’m sure it will be far less than a plane ticket and thank the Lord, there’ll no longer be a ‘middle’ seat!


The march of progress inevitably destroys the past.

There is this thing called the march of progress.

It can be good, or it can be bad.

But the inevitability of it means that we have to destroy our past in order to build for the future.  It’s a pity no one back around a hundred years ago worked out that a certain amount of land needed to be set aside for future infrastructure, and then build around it.

The pity of it is that those same practices are with us now, and unfortunately either the infrastructure is too costly to build because of the necessity to buy back, and it will never change.  No one, sadly, is thinking of the future.

So, all I have of my childhood years, some fifty to sixty years ago is memories, and when I go, they will be lost forever.

I remember, a long time ago now, the many holidays I spent at my grandmother’s place in the ‘country’.  Back then it was.

Now it is just another suburb of Melbourne.

I remember the drive, and it used to take about half an hour, perhaps longer, and as we travelled, it was mostly the countryside we saw.  Little towns like Beaconsfield, Officer, Berwick, oases in the middle of farming land.

The last time I went for that same drive, there was endless houses.

My grandmother’s house was very large, and the land it was built on, extensive.  There used to be gardens, several garages, a number of old cars, and a huge workshop.

My brother and I used to spend our Christmases exploring, and on a particular one, found some tools and decided to recover some of it.

We found a huge fountain buried beneath the overgrowth, the centrepiece a statue part of what must have been a remarkable display.

It was like we had our own secret garden.

There was also a fernery, also overgrown.

Now, sadly, all of it is gone, and in its place a multilane highway that follows an alternate coastal route between Melbourne and Sydney.

All I have left is the memories of a time that will never return.

Perhaps it’s time to write it all down, and preserve it for future generations.

When you’re not in the right headspace…

It’s late at night and my mind is drifting into other story territories, what I once thought was the realm of the writer’s mind, to be working on five stories at once.

Anything but what I should be doing.

These ideas are impinging on the current story, and somehow are finding their way onto the page.

Writing, cursing, deleting, re-writing, deleting, cursing.

I’m working on the latest book and it is not going well.  I’m gping through a serious bout of self-doubt.  It’s why I can’t concentrate.

It’s why I’m thinking about the next story, simply because I don’t think this one is good enough.  I’m not sure why; the editor is happy with the way it’s shaping up.

But these periods of doubt cause me to be over critical of what I have written and that leads to a lot of pressing the delete key.

And then to suddenly realize that an action taken in haste can be regrettable, and makes me feel even more depressed when I realize the deletions are irrecoverable.


I think I’d be happier in a garret somewhere channelling van Gogh’s rage.

Lesson learned – don’t delete, save it to a text file so it can be retrieved when sanity returns.

I was not happy with the previous start.  Funny about that, because until a few weeks ago I thought the start was perfect.

It seems it’s been like that for a few weeks now, not being able to stick to the job in hand, doing anything but what I’m supposed to be doing.

I recognize the restlessness; I’m not happy with the story as it is, so rather than getting on with it, I find myself writing words just for the sake of writing words.

Any words are better than none, right?

So I rewrote the start, added about a hundred pages and now I have to do a mass of rewriting of what was basically the whole book.

But here’s the thing.

This morning I woke up and looked at the new start, and I suddenly feel my head is in the right space.