These dreams are killing me, figuratively

After escaping the sinking ship, those that read yesterday’s post will know what I’m talking about,  I started thinking about the helicopter episode.

I think it had to do with the aches and pains I acquired spending an hour out in the garden trying to defeat the weeds and failing.

How did I get in that helicopter?

It’s like watching an episode of some series or other where you see the main character trapped in an exploding car, and right after the starting credits, it says ‘two days earlier’.

So, two days earlier,


Someone once told me it was not a good idea to ask your commander out to dinner.  Not a date, just the fact you’d like to get to know her better.

Yes, my commanding officer was a woman.

I thought the dinner went well, we found some common ground, ice hockey, and baseball, albeit barracking for different teams.  

Then, the next day when I went into ‘the office’, the operations officer called me aside.

“Who’d did you piss off?”

Good question, had I, and who?

And asked, “Who?”

“The Commanding Officer.  She asked me to put you on patrol, nothing ever happens, and it’s as boring as shit.”

Usually, I was in the front line, what they called in the army, cannon fodder.  Some said I had a death wish.

I shrugged.  “No doubt she has her reasons.  I could think of worse assignments.”

“Well, till then you’re on standby.  Make the most of it.”


This will no doubt change when I think about it some more.

Stay tuned.


© Charles Heath 2018

And then I woke up

One minute I was sitting out in my office, working on some tweets, and the next I woke up, staring at a black screen.

I thought we’d lost power.

No, I’d been asleep for a long time.

To be honest, I’m worn out.  It’s the end of the year and when it’s supposed to be a time to relax, go on holidays, do something else, I find life is getting more and more hectic.

Yes, I’m going on holiday, but it will be a time when I’m subconsciously looking for new locales for stories, the people, the places, what goes on, all different to my usual humdrum.

So, not a holiday in the true sense of the word.

What put me into this trance-like state was writing the next line, yep, it was as simple as that.  I stopped at a particular point where I had something else to say, and it just felt like the train had come to the end of the track, out there, in the middle of nowhere.

I wrote that line in my mind, and it sounded good, much the same as we sometimes say something in our mind before we speak, and when we finally do, it sounded better in my head than out loud.

Perhaps I’m losing my touch.

Perhaps that ability to sum up everything I want to say in less than 200 characters is beginning to desert me, and old age and decrepitude is setting in.

Which reminds me, pills before bed.

Perhaps I’m just tired and it’s time to go to bed.

I keep putting it off because sometimes I can’t go to sleep and I’m just lying there staring at the ceiling, sometimes the cinema of my dreams.

I imagine I’m somewhere else, someone else, doing something else.

But not in a helicopter.  Not tonight.

Tonight it’s a sinking ship.

Gotta run!


That helicopter story that kept me awake

Or part of it anyway.


So, there I was, hanging half out of the helicopter, shooting a handgun at a truck speeding along a dirt track.

I know, what’s the effective range of a handgun?

The sound of the rotors was still deafening even with the earphones on and as I run out of bullets and was reaching for another clip, I heard a voice crackle in my ears.

“Some fool’s got a rocket launcher.”

That fool was trying to lean out the passenger side of the truck and aim the launcher at the helicopter.

The bucking and swaying of the vehicle nearly tipped him out onto the roadside, but something managed to anchor him, and he was taking aim.

“Now would be the time to peel away,” I said, not knowing if the pilot could hear me.

Our course didn’t deviate, so perhaps he hadn’t.

I calculated the distance between the helicopter and the ground, and the speed we were traveling.  Fast.  Short drop.  Quick landing.  Very painful.

In that moment I saw the rocket leave the launcher, I let go.

There was that instant where you feel disembodied and floating on air.  The same as that few seconds in free fall, just before pulling the rip cord of a parachute.

I hit the ground a rolled, not that I thought it would do much good, and the stopped, just before I lost consciousness.  Somewhere in front of me, there was a huge explosion, and then nothing.

Last thought, I hope the helicopter didn’t land on me.


© Charles Heath 2018

Just one of many reading lists – part 3

Everyone, it seems, will publish what they call the top 100 books that you should read. Some are voted on, some belong to the opinion of the editor of the book review section of a newspaper, and, as you know, there are a lot of newspapers, a lot of editors, and a lot of opinions.

I’m not a newspaper, I’m not an editor, but I have a list, based on personal experience, and many, many years of reading.

It’s in no particular order.

41.  The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as a host of other Sherlock Holmes stories

42.  The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad, one of Conrad’s later political novels, set in London in 1886 and deals with anarchism and espionage.  In those days spies were called anarchists.

43.  The Ipcress File by Len Deighton, introducing us to Harry Palmer, who was personified by Michael Caine and led to Horse Under Water, and Funeral in Berlin.  More of Len Deighton later on in the list

44.  The Remorseful Day by Colin Dexter introducing the somewhat enigmatic detective, Morse, his first name not revealed for a long time but oddly, Endeavour.  John Thaw brought him to life

45.  Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, hard to pronounce and even harder to read, but perhaps worth it in the end.  By the time I read this I was wishing for a Russian writer had could use an economy of words

46.  Dr. Zhivago by Boris Pasternak wasn’t it.  A vast and lengthy dissertation on lost love, I felt very sad for Zhivago in the end.  I saw a stage play of the same name, and I’m sorry, but it’s a few hours of my life I will never get back

47.  Casino Royale, the first of the James Bond novels by Ian Fleming.  I have to say these are among my favorite spy books.  I must say I preferred the new James Bond in Casino Royale, though Sean Connery still rules!

48.  The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsythe, a fascinating story about an assassin

49.  Anything written by John Le Carre, but in particular, the George Smiley collection.  Finally unmasking his nemesis the Russian spymaster made it all so satisfying.

50.  The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlam, inspiring a long series by both Ludlam and Eric Lustbader makes entertaining reading, but the first, the man who did not know who or what he really was, was excellent.  Matt Damon didn’t harm his persona either.

51.  Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers, whose detective is Lord Peter Whimsey, a 1933 mystery novel that’s eighth in the series

52.  Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith.  You have to admit that his Russian detective Arkady Renko is up against it when his investigation goes in a direction that uncovers corruption and dishonest in his superiors

53.  The Way of All Flesh by Samuel Butler, a semi-autobiographical novel written between 1987 and 1884, and published in 1903.  The story of the Pontifex family.

54.  Howards End by E. M. Forster, first published in 1910, is an interesting insight into the behavior of the, and between the classes, with the Schlegels acting as the catalyst.

55.  Washington Square by Henry James, originally published as a serial, and covers the conflict between daughter and father.  I must say I prefer The Ambassadors to Washington Square.

56.  Ulysses by James Joyce, a day in the life of an ordinary man, Leopold Bloom, why could it not be the 7th June rather than the 16th, for obvious reasons

57.  The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley is a view of society at the end of the Victorian period through the eyes of a young boy.  I read this while still at school and had no clue why, but later, when I read it again, I understood the meaning

58.  Atonement by Ian McEwan, I saw the film and then read the book.  Never a good idea.  Basically, a young girl makes a bad mistake and tries to atone for it.

59.  Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell, the War and Peace of Americal novels, and as long by comparison.  The only book written by Mitchell, and the second most read book by Americans.  The film was interesting but awfully long.

60.  The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje, with a man with severe burns and the effect he had on three others.  Colin Firth is villain one day and hero the next, this time in the cinematic version, an out and out cad.

More to come…


When will it ever be done?

I finally sat down and rewrote the next five episodes of my serialized private detective novel featuring Harry Walthenson.

I don’t know what it is about doing these rewrites, but it seems every time I want to do one, I find something else to do.

I mean, it’s not a problem when I get started, it just getting started that’s the problem.

Is this a subtle sign I don’t want to write it?

Or is it my mind is too cluttered with everything else, and by itself, it determines what I do next?

I wish it would make me sit down and write the ending to my NaNoWriMo project.  I have at best two chapters to go, but then I said that three chapters ago, so maybe therein lies the problem.

How long is a piece of string?

Then, of course, I’m in the middle of editing two new novels and I wanted to get these out before Christmas, but it seems the planets are out of alignment.

Make a list and prioritize, you say?

I’ve got a whiteboard and tried that.  The only person who takes notice of what I’ve written is my youngest granddaughter.

Maybe after the holidays…



“Sunday in New York”, it’s a bumpy road to love

“Sunday in New York” is ultimately a story about trust, and what happens when a marriage is stretched to its limits.

When Harry Steele attends a lunch with his manager, Barclay, to discuss a promotion that any junior executive would accept in a heartbeat, it is the fact his wife, Alison, who previously professed her reservations about Barclay, also agreed to attend, that casts a small element of doubt in his mind.

From that moment, his life, in the company, in deciding what to do, his marriage, his very life, spirals out of control.

There is no one big factor that can prove Harry’s worst fears, that his marriage is over, just a number of small, interconnecting events, when piled on top of each other, points to a cataclysmic end to everything he had believed in.

Trust is lost firstly in his best friend and mentor, Andy, who only hints of impending disaster, Sasha, a woman whom he saved, and who appears to have motives of her own, and then in his wife, Alison, as he discovered piece by piece damning evidence she is about to leave him for another man.

Can we trust what we see with our eyes or trust what we hear?

Haven’t we all jumped to conclusions at least once in our lives?

Can Alison, a woman whose self-belief and confidence is about to be put to the ultimate test, find a way of proving their relationship is as strong as it has ever been?

As they say in the classics, read on!


Sunday In New York

Not your average to be read list

A long time ago, when I was 17 or 18, I used to do a lot of reading.  It was a long ride in on the train from home to work, and back again, and I did, then, have the time to read.

Having my own money, I was able to buy my own books, and these generally ran to mysteries and thriller, and naval stories.  The later took my interest for a while because I had notions of becoming an Ensign until I realized I needed better educational qualifications and a higher level of fitness.

So much for those aspirations, so I just read about what it would be like.


I worked with a number of interesting characters, including one, a chap who was about 25, really old and wise to a 17-year-old, who deplored my reading choices.

It seemed Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Brian Callison, Hammond Innes, and Alistair Maclean didn’t quite fit the reading profile he thought I should follow.

Well, I hadn’t been to university, and I hadn’t realized there was such a thing as English, or any other, literature.  He was adamant that if I wanted to call myself a ‘man of books’ I had to read ‘proper’ books.

So, what eventuated, was a reading list.

If I wanted to converse with him on literature, I had to read every book on the list.

And I wanted to appear, at least, slightly more sophisticated, that the reader of penny dreadfuls.  I didn’t know what that meant, and in those days there was no internet, so it remained for a long time a phrase of mystery.

But, the reading list,

‘Hard Times,’ and ‘Bleak House’ by Charles Dickens

‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ by T.E. Lawrence, yes, that famous man who was better known as Lawrence of Arabia

‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ by Thomas Hardy, which fuelled a desire to read most of Hardy’s books

‘The Day of the Triffids’, by John Wyndham, a rather strange addition to the list since it was science fiction.  I suspect he was a closet Trekker.

‘To the Lighthouse’, by Virginia Wolff

‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen

‘And Quietly Flows the Don’ by Mikhail Alexandrovich Sholokhov.  I had great fears that I would have to learn Russian, but that wasn’t the only shock, so was the size of the book

‘War and Peace’, talking about long books, by Leo Tolstoy

‘One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich’ by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and thereby concluding the Russian classics

Of course, your definition of literature can change, and as a result of reading all of these books, and it took quite some time, and this led to selecting a more interesting collection of books to read, which he, in some small measure, took the credit for.

I discovered R.F Delderfield, and the trilogy, ‘A Horseman Riding By’, which led to ‘The Headmaster’, ‘The Avenue’, and ‘God is an Englishman’

C.S. Forester and the Hornblower series, but who also wrote several mysteries

F. Scott Fitzgerald and ‘The Great Gatsby’ as well as several other classics

Eric Ambler, master of thrillers from the ’30s and ’50s, particularly spy novels, and was probably the one who introduced me to the world of espionage

and last but not least, Dashiell Hammett’s ‘The Maltese Falcon’.