A few short story openings…

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about opening lines and first impressions – looking at some of my favourite first sentences of literature.

That got me to look at some of my own first lines, and then got me looking at some of the many many stories that I’ve started, either in notebook or in computer files which have just been left dangling. They’re at various stages; but all have a full plot idea sitting behind them. I’ve dug a couple out below: if any of them grab the attention contact and I may get it written…if I do I’ll share it with you.

So, here are the first 200 words of 4 shorts. Not much else to say: different genres, some which will be clear from opening, some which will, if they ever get written be come clearer as the story progresses.

And if you want full short stories? Well, you can always check out Basement Tales…or watch out next week for news about my new publication You Could Make a Killing


The last thing I remembered before waking in the hospital bed was an upside-down ice-cream van.

The first thing I remember after waking was a very pretty young nurse, although at the time I didn’t know that because my eyes were covered with eye pads and bandages, talking to me. She had a pretty voice, I did know that. And I was glad to hear it.

“Are you with us, Mr. Johnson?”

I tried to nod but found I couldn’t move my neck.

“Ok, that’s fine – don’t try to move now. I’m just going to get the doctor.”

And just before I heard the door click shut as she went in search of whichever intern was on duty, I heard her call back, her pretty voice quite serious now,

“You should be dead.”

I found out soon after that she was right: by all rights I should have been dead.

Or to be more accurate about it, I should have stayed dead. Because I had been. For five minutes.

The ice-cream van hadn’t been upside down.

I had.



Today saw the passing of one of the most nefarious figures in criminal history, a degenerate hiding behind, if not opulence then at least respectability, for over 80 years. The passing went unnoticed by all but the most nostalgic of old-world gangster types, some of whom may even have raised a glass, if not shed a tear, in a sentimental recollection: others may have shivered and sent a silent thanks that they were still here after the fact.

As structures go #24 Mason Street didn’t shout that it was a centennial criminal strong hold. Any would-be gang boss would pass it by for their nefarious deeds in favour of a more arresting impression- Philadelphia City Hall would have been a more striking statement of intent, if a little too conspicuous.



I got the call at 22:45, Saturday night.

One dead: a body found in a penthouse apartment in town; presumed the owner.

No more details over the phone- there rarely was, but they needed me over there now, or sooner.

Officially it was supposed to be my night off, but that never made any difference.

I told the voice on the other end I’d be there in half an hour. They said to make it fifteen minutes.

Apparently, this was a ‘name case’.

I could have done with taking a shower, but I made do with a quick splash of water, a gargle of mouth wash, locked the door and set the alarm.

I drove over to the address, parked up in a side street one over from the building and pushed my way through the small crowd which had already gathered around the cordoned off doorway. I flashed my ID at the uniform on the door who barely looked at it- I assumed he recognised me from this type of activity before- for my part I couldn’t place him- but over the years I’ve seen so many newbies on the job they become interchangeable.



The first time I met Henry Jones we hit it off well. The second time, he punched me in the face several times. Afterwards he bought me a drink and laughed.

Einstein explained the theory of relativity saying something about comparing two minutes with a beautiful woman to two minutes holding your hand over a flame. He obviously never boxed; Time inside and outside the ring would have been an even better analogy.

I’d found the local bar two weeks after moving into my rented flat. My satellite installation was on order but until the following week I was relying on the local public houses for sport.

I had ordered a pint of Guinness from Henry, who had been standing behind the bar, absently wiping a glass and half-watching two over-the-hill boxers squeezed into tuxedos they didn’t look remotely comfortable in, talking on the TV about the chances the latest in a long line of youngish British heavyweight hopefuls had against an aging American ex-champ.

The pub was quiet for a Saturday night and we struck up a conversation about the various support bouts: the usual mixture of prospects being fed a large tattooed opponent whose records were particularly unimpressive.


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