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Talo Segura

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About Talo Segura

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  1. Talo Segura

    Chapter 2

    The street was deserted apart from the station wagon parked outside the hardware store. A gentle breeze stired the dust on the sidewalk, picking up a long discarded paper wrapper and sliding it whimsically into the road. Clinton watched as the paper entagled itself on the spikey leaves of a weed, flapping madly, then sinking into the dirt as the wind died. Across the street from the bench they watched as the children played in the yard. Clinton staring silently. Morgan kicked at the dust, then let his chin rest in both hands, his arms propped up on his knees. He glanced sideways at his brother. "We could join them," he suggested, prompted by boredom. Clinton looked at him, then back to the group of kids. He was listening to their shouts and cries as they chased each other around. Then he saw Vaughan approaching from down the far side of the street. The tall boy stoped to talk to the rest of the group and then they crossed the street in the direction of the candy store. Morgan was watching too. Once again he kicked at the dirt. Time almost stood still, motionless. There was only Clinton and Morgan, on the bench. Suddenly the children charged out of the store and ran back across the street clutching their Rocket Pops. They resumed playing outside. They, the well loved, rooted, happy as you please. Those with a good life, money, and a proper family. Clinton had had enough of sitting around. He stood up. "Let's go." He walked away, down the street, back towards the farm. Morgan gave one last glance back towards the girl with the polka dot dress, Melissa was standing next to her. The little girl looked back at him, giving a little wave. He wasn't certain, but perhaps she smiled. Odd, he thought, when the last time they met he had pushed her over. "You coming?" Clinton turned back. He gave a little sign with his hand, half raising his arm, before turning and running to catch up with Clint. Clinton was leaning on the broken paddock fence, rolling two dice between his fingers. They clicked together as he played with them. "Watcha doing?" Morgan asked, watching his brother. "Nothing," Clinton replied, staring off across the parched grassland which extended from the paddock to the horizon. Broken only by the odd tree on the ridge and some bushes to the right. "Nah, you always do that when you're thinking." Clinton moved to sit down in the dirt, propping himself up against a fence post. Morgan sat cross legged, looking at him. "I've decided something." Morgan didn't reply, he waited to learn what. "You need to win their confidence. To be their friend." He accepted unquestioningly his brother's instruction. Morgan would never contradict Clinton, he always did what his brother told him. Clinton watched from a distance as Morgan wandered down the street then crossed to the yard where the group were playing. "Hi," he said to Melissa, looking down at the ground. The little girl was the only one sitting out this round of chasing. She looked at him. He half raised his head and gave her a little smile. She smiled back. "Hi yourself," she stared intensely. "Are you being nice today?" She gave a little smirk, which was quickly replaced with that same beautiful smile. "Ah huh," Morgan grinned. Melissa's hand went to her hair and she started to twist a strand around her finger. She had curly, hazel coloured hair that almost matched her eyes. "Because..." She gave that same smirk. "If you're not nice, you know what will happen." Morgan looked down and kicked the dirt. "Yeah, I know." "I didn't really mean for you to get in trouble. Did it hurt?" "What do you think?" "I was sorry when I saw you crying." "It hurt Clint more than me and he didn't even do anything." She moved up close to him. "I am sorry. Friends?" He looked up and smiled. Their eyes met. "Friends," he confirmed. That night lying in bed listening to the bush crickets, Morgan let his head rest on his arms. "You're winning their friendship?" Clinton leant his head on one arm, looking down at his little brother beside him. Morgan smiled. "Yeah, I like them." "They're not your friends Morgan. This ain't real. Remember, it's a con. And when it's done, we've just got us, and we'll be moving on." The smile disappeared from Morgan's face. "Now you tell the story, about the trunk and the treasure." "They won't believe it," Morgan complained. "You say you watched some men drag it out of a boat. You describe it. In detail. You're good with stories." "I need more time." Morgan looked intently at the ceiling. Watching the spider move across the web it had spun around the top of the wire from which the light hung. "No. You tell the story. We didn't drag that old beat up trunk down to the river for nothing. They'll want you to show them where. Once they ask you where it is. We got 'em." Clinton grinned. "You tell them you will take them there, but it has to be Sunday, after Sunday school." "Why Sunday?" "You wanted more time. You got to Sunday. After Sunday school." Morgan could be quite cunning. He met the gang of children nearly everyday, he even became a good friend of Vaughan and another boy, Huey. But it was Melissa who took his fancy and the feeling seemed mutual. He more or less convinced them with his story. By being vague and not saying it was his discovery. The story went like this: Clint had heard part of a telephone conversation at home. Not enough to know what was being talked about, but enough to know it was something important. And it wasn't to do with them, Morgan joked, which made some of the other kids giggle. "So the old man gets up," Morgan continued the tale. "And he never gets up if it ain't important. Clint decided to follow him out of the house, coz he saw him going on foot. Cutting across the fields towards the river. He followed at a distance, it was obvious where he was going, but not why. So, anyway, later..." Morgan looked around conspiratorily, making sure he'd got their attention. And he had. Even Vaughan was hooked. "There's this boat, you see, and two men in it. Waiting for the old man to get there. Then the three of them hauled this battered old trunk out onto the bank and dragged it a few yards. They got shovels and started digging. Buried the thing in some huge hole in the ground and covered it up." "What's in it?" One of the kids asked. "Well we don't know. We need your help. And anyway we wanted to share it with you. But..." "But what?" Piped up Vaughan, getting all haughty. "Well it's worth something ain't it?" Morgan looked around the close circle of faces, all eyes were on him. "You all give a dollar and I'll take you there." "A dollar? I don't got no money," Huey told him. "Not now. I can't take you there now. On Sunday. After Sunday school." Vaughan gave him a stare, Huey seemed okay, the others, maybe. Then little Melissa's bright, trusting face was looking right at him. A moment of silence. Then she clapped her hands excitedly and everyone else jumped up. "You'll likely get much more back. One dollar each. Sunday." It was a done deal. They all agreed. They would meet up by the river path on the edge of town, after Sunday school. The kids were all excited and each of them took out their dollar bill and handed Morgan the cash. He looked almost crestfallen as his eye caught Melissa's joyful gaze. Led by Morgan the children, in their bright Sunday clothes, ran along the river bank towards the trees. When they reached the wooded area where the path turned away from the river they slowed down. You knew the river was still there by the sound of the water that was never far away, but the ground became quite marshy as they made their way through the wood. At the farthest end they had to cross the floating lake. Morgan told everybody not to rush. The vegetation would support their weight, but too many people, or moving too quickly, and they risked getting their clothes wet. The hoard of kids charged on, paying him little attention, each one eager to reach the buried treasure trove. Their combined weight made the ground sink and it quickly turned muddy before they could reach the far side. If they'd waited and gone one at a time, that might not have happened. Clinton knew that when he'd told Morgan to be sure the kids were excited. Vaughan complained, but Morgan told him, "I warned you." Morgan stopped and pointed ahead. "There," he said, indicating a spot where the earth had been recently dug. The kids saw it. "Just like I told you." Morgan stood hands on hips watching as the group gathered round and started trying to dig out the trunk. It wasn't buried deep and the loose earth was easily pushed aside revealing the top of an old trunk. Melissa moved next to him and Morgan held the girl's hand. She was laughing, her eyes full of wonder. Suddenly there was a loud bang and shouting. They heard somebody calling. Frightened, they stopped what they were doing and looked at each other, undecided as to what to do next. "Quick. Run!" Morgan said, making it sound urgent.. He turned and made his way back rushing off in the direction they had come from. Everybody followed after him. Once past the lake and through the woods Morgan halted. "I got to get back home. You know where it is now." They were all chatting excitedly, and laughing, happy at their adventure. The muddied children left him and started walking home. When they had gone, Clinton appeared from the woods. "Worked like a dream," he said, smiling. Morgan handed him the money. "Nine dollars. Not bad," he said. Mr MacPherson got up when he heard the noise. Opening the front door he wiped his brow and stared through the dust cloud. Three cars had pulled up in front of the house, with a fourth coming up the track. He recognised one car was that of Mrs Adams, silently he cursed to himself. As he stood looking on, several adults accompanied by their offspring, marched towards the house. Soon they were all standing on the porch. The parents and several muddy children. Clinton and Morgan listened to the raised voices. "Your boy led our kids on some wild goose chase. Look at the state of them." And he looked, and listened as they explained the whole story. The adults followed him inside, the kids were left out on the porch. He stared angrily at the two brothers. "You've tried may patience boys and I'm not having it. Where's the money?" He looked directly at Morgan, taking a few steps closer. Clinton stood up. He removed the scrunched up bundle of dollar bills from his pocket. "Give it here. I could of guessed you were both in this together. Both as bad as one another." Mr MacPherson walked over to the table and slapped the money down. "Git over here boy," he said, looking at Clinton and taking off his belt. The boys had packed their suitcase and Clinton dragged it out onto the porch. He waited with Morgan and glanced one last time at the place. The broken paddock fence, the barn and old tractor, nothing had changed. They got into the back of the pickup. Their foster father turned the ignition and swung around and out past the barn in a cloud of dust. He said nothing and neither did they. He left them in town, dumping the suitcase on the sidewalk. Clinton looked the old man square in the eyes, then watched as he drove away. They made there way to the bench across from the yard and sat down gingerly on the edge of the wooden seat, the suitcase in front of them. Then Clinton got up. He turned to his brother. "Wait here." He walked off down the main street, stopping outside the dry cleaners. J.P. Downside, the sign over the window read. Looking in through the large glass front, he saw the children's clothes hanging on the rack. Lined up all neat and clean, but devoid of life, a charade, filled only with empty promises. The little bell tinkled as he opened the door and stepped inside. Morgan watched all this from the bench at the other end of the street. A few minutes later Clinton emerged. The store owner peered out after him, looking up and down the street as Clinton turned back and gave a salute. Joining his brother on the bench, he showed him the wad of dollar bills, before stuffing them in his pocket. "You see, it was worth it," he told Morgan. "I guess," he replied, shuffling on the bench. There was a honk of a horn. Clinton turned to see the battered old orange and brown car pull up. The Child Welfare Officer. Morgan looked back out the car window at the girl leaving the candy store, he pressed his palm against the glass and looked through his fingers until she disappeared from view.
  2. I think you are right, most people just wouldn't be bothered, but it would make a great thesis for a degree!
  3. My latest story Hustle is complete and the first chapter was posted today. It's an adventure that revolves around two brothers plunged into a world of abuse, drugs, and prostitution.

    This is a novella, around 25k words, and complete. Take a look, and if it grabs you, follow the brothers story from childhood to young adults caught up in circumstances they didn't create, but from which they need to find a way out.

  4. Talo Segura

    Chapter 1

    The office was filled with filing cabinets, but obviously not enough, bundles of documents tied together inside binders were piled on the floor and covered the desk. A faded blue cover with a huge wad of papers stuffed into it, had his name written on the label; Clinton Bloom. He stared at it and fidgeted, moving his knees up and down, with a certain nervous tension that had become so familiar he was no longer aware of it. His brother sat next to him, staring at the floor. The Child Welfare Officer opened the door and stepped into the office, taking his seat behind the large desk. "We've made a decision," he announced. Clinton didn't stop moving his legs, his eyes fixated on the dossier and its white label with his name scrawled across it. "Can you keep still?" It wasn't so much a question as a command, an instruction. He was obviously irritating the man, spoiling his concentration, distracting him from the task at hand, but not in a good way. Clinton didn't react, he continued bouncing his knees. If anything, the motion became quicker. "Stop it!" The man raised his voice. Clinton's arm stretched across the desk and collided with the blue covered folder, sending the contents skidding across the table top, making Morgan jump and look up. The Welfare Officer somehow regained his composure, perhaps shocked by the reaction he'd caused. Slowly he gathered up the loose sheets. As he did so Clinton read one of the reports, it was headed, "Reason for Return of Minors." There were fields with different entries in each: Behaviour Inappropriate, Unmanageable, Maltreated Cat, Caused Flooding. Mischief moved them on in life, and moving kept them close. Morgan had Clinton, Clinton Morgan, and for both that was more than most. "It's not too far," Mrs Macy announced. Clinton was staring out the window as they drove along what must have been the main street. Faint lighting leant a warm glow, spotlighting a circle of sidewalk, occasionally allowing a glimpse of a building. "Morgan!" he jabbed his arm into his little brother, stirring him awake. "What?" Morgan rubbed at his eyes. "We've hit the Wild West. A one horse town. With one main street." Morgan peered over his shoulder through the rear window. "Sweet Jesus! Look at that!" Clinton pointed, tapping a finger on the cold glass. "What's it say, Clint?" He turned his head, reading the billboard as they drove slowly past. "Give yourself to Jesus and your sins will be forgiven," Clinton smiled, but Morgan didn't notice. "There's a movie theatre!" Morgan gestured enthusiastically. "What's it showing?" "Don't know. Can't see. Will you get off of me?" Morgan sat back down on his side of the rear seat. They left the town behind. The bright golden glow of the sun peeking above the low hill line behind the property heralded another hot day. The car slowed to a halt in a cloud of billowing dust thrown up from the parched dirt track. The farmhouse stood isolated in the landscape, framed by the rising sun. They peered out at their new home, taking in the faded weatherboarding, the barn and old tractor. The broken fence that no longer secured the paddock leant an air of abandon to the place. Mrs Macy switched off the motor and turned back to address the boys. "Well, here we are," she told them, like a full stop at the end of a chapter, underlining the decision that had determined their new start. Morgan glanced over at Clinton, who said nothing, just nodded. She opened the door and moved the seat, standing outside, waiting. Morgan slithered out from the back of the car, followed by his brother. A man was watching all this from the porch of the little house. Mrs Macy moved around to the back of the car, she had an air of fatigue about her. It had been a long trip and she was not looking forward to the drive back. She popped open the trunk as Clinton joined her and stood staring into the almost empty space. He reached in, pulling out the old suitcase, he needed both hands to manoeuvre it. Not that it was heavy, there was nothing more than a few clothes inside, it was awkward to lift free. He plonked it down on the dirt. The man had not come to greet them, he still stood on the porch. Morgan looked at him, shielding his eyes from the rising sun, a quizzical expression on his face. The clunk of the trunk closing startled the silence. Clinton followed Mrs Macy towards the farmhouse, Morgan moved next to his older brother. Neither boy had any thoughts about where they were or how they ended up there. "Mr MacPherson?" She greeted the man with the question as she stepped onto the porch. Clinton dropped the suitcase onto the wooden deck and looked around. The car stood in front of the barn, it's orange-brown paintwork mimicking the colour of the sun and perfectly matching the dried yellow grass. The picture conjured up a languid desolation, a stark contrast to the city they had left behind yesterday. The man shook hands with Mrs Macy, looking from one boy to the other. "You'll be wanting to get back, I suppose?" It was the first time he'd moved. His voice gruff and unwelcoming. Mrs Macy offered a weak smile and nodded. "It was a long trip," she replied. A statement that might in some way excuse her immediate departure. She had fulfilled her mission, executed her responsibility, the brothers were now in the hands of their new foster father. She did wonder about the arrangement, but then it was not her decision. "Goodbye, boys." They watched as she walked back to the car and opened the door. The motor chunked into life, grumbling at being disturbed. The car swung around, heading away from the farm, chased along the track by the dust. They sat together at the table, silently eating breakfast. "You'll sleep there," he told them, nodding towards an old sofa which sat against the timber wall. Clinton looked across the room. It was bare apart from the table, an old armchair and a cupboard. The kitchen, if you could call it that, was an enamel sink and solid old iron stove. The place was like somewhere from another epoch, as if the pioneers had just arrived and thrown together the most rudimentary habitation. "The facilities are out back," the man added. He poured himself another coffee from the tin kettle. "Don't you have a bed?" Morgan asked. The man leapt up, leaning over the table, and swiped his arm in a wide arc towards the youngster, slapping him hard across the side of the head. Clinton jumped to his feet, sending the wooden chair tumbling backwards. "Don't give me no grief, boy." The man's rough unshaven face was staring straight at Clinton. Morgan held the side of his head. It stung like hell, but he wasn't about to cry. Clinton glared across the table, but retreated in the face of the man's anger. His hands gripped the edge turning his knuckles white, as the rage coursed through his body. The man watched him closely. "Get the fuck out!" He shouted at Clinton. The boy turned, grabbing a handful of Morgan's t-shirt and pulling him up. They sat together outside on the porch steps. "You okay," Clinton asked, staring off towards the barn and broken fence. "He's a crazy shit!" His little brother turned to look at Clinton, who didn't reply. The brothers were sitting idly on the bench under the sprawling leaves of the large white oak, it was the one place offering shade. Across in the yard other children were playing. Morgan and Clinton were not too happy as they nursed their Pixie Stixs. Clinton's eyes followed one girl as she ran around chased by a taller boy. She had on a white dress with red polka dots, her hair tied in pony tails with thin red ribbons. She reminded him of an advert which he couldn't quite remember where he'd seen it, publicising a drink or something. It was a faint memory, but this girl seemed to embody that same freshness, an ideal, something almost imaginary and out of reach. He flicked his straw away like a cigarette end discarded on the ground. At that moment the tall boy, who was chasing his dream girl, approached. "Mr Taylor tells us to drop litter in the trash can." He was standing in front of the bench and was soon joined by the girl, who smiled at Clinton. "You're new," she told him, as if that were not obvious. He wondered if the only nice thing about this girl was her dress and how she looked. "If you're new," the tall boy continued, "You won't know all the rules." Clinton stood up. "No, I guess not," he replied, thinking to himself, are all these country hicks morons? Morgan got to his feet, standing next to his brother and looking from the girl to the boy. Then he glanced at Clinton. "Let's go, Clint?" "You better pick it up," the tall boy said. "Ah huh." Clinton walked over to where the Stix straw had landed and put his foot on it, grinding it into the ground. He stared at the boy as if daring him to do something. "Clint, let's go," Morgan said again, but Clinton didn't move. "I'm Alice," the girl said. "You are?" Clinton had a sparkle in his eyes. "Yes. And you are Clint?" She smiled again. "Clinton. And my brother, Morgan." He looked at his little brother. The tall boy moved next to Alice. "I'm Vaughan," he put out his arm. Clinton looked at him, waited, then shook hands. "How old are you?" Vaughan asked him. "You?" Clinton replied. Vaughan looked at Morgan, he seemed about to say something, but only opened and closed his mouth. "You look like a goldfish!" Morgan joked and Alice giggled. Just then they were joined by five more children, three boys and two girls. Everyone started talking at once. "What you laughing at?" "Are you living here? "Where?" "You got family?" Neither Clinton nor Morgan enjoyed being interrogated by a bunch of local kids, but they were now centre stage and being jostled around amidst an animated circle. Vaughan seemed to take a particular delight in having all his friends there. "We have to go," Clinton told them, and pushed through the small circle. Morgan followed, but, whether intentional or not, pushed one little girl too hard. She fell backwards, losing her balance and ending up sitting hard on the ground. Morgan stopped and looked down at her. "Why did you do that?" She asked. "Because you were in the way," he replied. The other children snickered, but Clinton gave his brother a hard look. The girl just sat there. "You're stupid and you fell over!" Morgan stared at the girl on the ground. The little girl began to cry as the other kids moved closer. Alice reached out a hand and pulled her up, brushing off her dress. Morgan and Clinton watched the scene. "I'm telling on you," the little girl told them, without actually looking at the two boys. Clinton grabbed hold of Morgan and turned away, pulling him along. The little girl sat at the kitchen table. Alice had brought her home, she was still upset and her mother knelt down next to her, brushing a hand gently through her daughter's hair. "Did something happen, darling?" She asked. There was no reply, but her mother was patient, she knew her daughter, but even so she was a little anxious. Turning to Alice, she asked: "What happened?" Alice looked from one to the other before answering. "It was the new boys," she replied. "What new boys? I didn't know there was any new family had arrived in town." She was puzzled. This was a small town, everybody knew everybody, and she would of heard about something like that. "I don't know," Alice continued, smoothing her pretty dress with one hand. "But I haven't seen them before." "What are their names?" The mother's attention was now focused on Alice. "I don't rightly know, Mrs Adams. The older one is called Clinton and his brother, I think he said Morgan." "Clinton? And where does this boy live? How old are they?" Alice looked a bit flustered at being bombarded with all these questions. "I only know he's called Clint, I mean Clinton. I guess they're about the same age as us." Mrs Adams turned back to her daughter. "Did these boys hurt you, darling?" "Yes, mummy," the little girl replied, thinking that now she could have her revenge. "What did they do?" She told her mother how they threw litter in the yard and wouldn't pick it up when Vaughan told them to. Then they pushed her on the ground and made fun of her. "Everyone was laughing," her daughter explained with a tearful look in her eyes. Mrs Adams glanced across at Alice, as if to seek conformation, or an admission that she had been laughing. "Not everyone, Mrs Adams," Alice told her. "Just the younger ones were giggling. "You don't know who these boys are, or where they live?" Both Alice and the little girl shook their heads. Mrs Adams pulled up outside the old MacPherson farm. She looked around at the deserted and dilapidated place, it was some time since she had been there, but still it was hard to believe Mr MacPherson had just let things go. She turned to her daughter, "You want me to speak to the boys' father?" "I don't want him to push me again. He should say sorry." Turning off the motor she opened the door. "Come on then," she gave Melissa a weak smile. The door opened as they climbed the porch steps and the rough looking figure of Mr MacPherson eyed the new arrivals. He didn't speak, but gave a nod of the head and pulled open the screendoor, inviting them in. Morgan and Clinton were seated together on the old sofa. Melissa stuck close to her mother's side, but managed an evil stare in their direction. The three of them sat at the wooden table and he listened as Mrs Adams explained what had happened. He didn't interrupt, just looked across at the brothers with an angry glare. "I'll deal with this," he said, standing up and removing the belt from the loops of his dirty jeans. "Stay here." He turned away and crossed the room to the sofa, bending down and grabbing a hold of Clinton, pulling him to his feet. He marched the boy into the bedroom and closed the door. Morgan sat like a statue, frozen to the sofa. The silence suddenly broken by the loud thwack of leather and muffled cries. This continued a moment, until the door opened, and Mr MacPherson marched Clinton back out. "Stand there." He pushed the boy against the wall. He strode over to the sofa, roughly dragging Morgan up by his arm, and pushed him into the bedroom. The door closed with a thud. Then silence, followed by the sound of rapid smacking and crying. He had Morgan stand next to his brother and made both boys look at the little girl. Morgan still had tears falling down his cheeks as he apologised. On the porch their foster father turned to Mrs Adams, "They won't bother you again." He watched them walk across to the car and drive away. Melissa turned to her mother. "I'm sorry he got a walloping." "Well yes, but he shouldn't have acted the way he did." Mrs Adams glanced back into the rear view mirror, but all she saw were the billowing clouds of dust.
  5. Talo Segura


    Two brothers move through life together, shuffled around from pillar to post. Trouble follows them everywhere and all they really have in life is each other. Clinton plays with his dice and always has a plan, Morgan always does what his older brother tells him. They leave their rough childhood behind and get caught up in the escapades of South American drug trafficking. Clinton will do anything to keep them together, but it is Morgan who pays the price. Drugs, prostitution, and encounters with no one they can really trust. There is one goal, somehow to make it back to the States.
  6. Talo Segura

    The Komsomol

    Thank you readers for all your likes, loves, and wonderful comments. You inspire me to write more..
  7. Talo Segura

    The Komsomol

    A short story about an old man and his grandson. History and sharing.
  8. Talo Segura

    The Komsomol

    The ladder creaked and little clouds of dust followed behind the boy as he climbed down through the trap. "What are you doing up there, Sacha?" He stopped and turned to see his grandfather standing at the foot of the ladder. Michail Ivanov reached up with a wrinkled old hand and took a firm grip. "You should be careful. Everything is old and falling apart in this house." The boy continued his descent carrying a box in one hand, holding the rangs of the ladder with the other. Michail watched, he smiled to himself, knowing no matter what he said his grandson would likely not listen. Sacha was in many ways similar to him, full of the spirit of adventure, carefree, and imbued with a desire to discover. "I found it!" Sacha held up the box as he stood at the bottom of the rickety old ladder. His grandfather looked at him and smiled, then looked back up to the trap. "You forgot to shut the trap." Sacha laughed. "I've only one pair of hands!" "I'll give you 'one pair of hands,' you rascal." Michail slapped the boy's behind as he clambered back up the ladder to close the trap. It made a loud thud amidst a halo of dust as it dropped shut. "Yuck," Sacha wiped his face with his arm as he arrived back down on the landing. "I don't know why you wanted to go searching for it. I told you no one's been up there in donkeys years and it's full of cobwebs and spiders." The boy looked at him as he picked the box up off the floor. "For this," he said, triumphantly. His grandfather nodded wearily as if conceding defeat. "You said the box was somewhere in the attic." "I said that so you would not press an old man to continue telling you stories." "But granddad, you tell such good stories." Michail grinned and threw an arm over his grandson's shoulder. "Come on then, we better go downstairs and get comfortable." The old man and the child walked across the bare floorboards and descended the staircase. Sacha holding tightly to the treasure he had unearthed amongst all the years accumulated junk spread around the dark and dusty attic. Roschino is a tiny village on the banks of the River Suda, lost in the countryside some eighty kilometers north of the capital. The house was unusual in having two stories, otherwise it resembled the few other houses scattered about. A wooden construction with a covered veranda it stood on it's own surrounded by a vegetable garden and looking out across the greenery towards the river. Every house had its own vegetable patch, there were no shops nearby. Everyone here was somewhat self-sufficient, or else you brought your supplies with you. But Granddad Michail lived here all year round and he had Annika to tend his vegetables, and look after him. At night the only sounds were those which emminated from the nature which surrounded them. Sacha adored curling up next to Michail on the old sofa in front of the little wood burner. They would often pass their evenings together like that, the youngster engrossed in the tales his granddad told. "What's this?" Sacha pulled the little metal object from the box and held it out in the palm of his hand. Michail stared at the object dull with the passage of time. His mind roamed as memories resurged. The summer of nineteen seventy-two, he had just turned fourteen. It was a chance to be born in June, it meant he would spend a summer of adventure, his first time away from his family. "Ah!" he sighed. "That... You recognise the figure, don't you?" Sacha recognised the head on the red and gold medal. "Lenin!" "We all received that little pin at the end of the summer. It was the year I went away to summer camp with the Komsomol. Ah! I had the chance to have reached the age to join." "What is the Komsomol?" Michail looked at his grandson and patted the sofa. "Come and sit." Sacha joined his grandfather, curling his legs up on the sofa. The fire cracked and the flame flickered in the gloom. The only other light was the small oil lamp on the table. "In those days everyone wanted to join the Komsomol. Everyone our age, but you had to be fourteen. The Komsomol was the youth division of the Communist Party founded after the revolution." Sacha listened attentively. "So, you went away on a summer camp?" The old man reflected a moment as those memories flooded his mind and played with his emotions. He was not certain he wanted to go there. Back to those events in the summer of seventy-two. Sacha delved into the box once more, extracting the next item which he held up to get a good look at it. The colours of the old photo were a pale image from the past. "And who is this?" he asked, handing the photo to his grandfather. "Ah! You don't recognise me?" "It's you!" Sacha took back the photo and held it at different angles to better see the boy who was his grandfather. "It was taken before the camp, in the government building in Nametkina Street, the old Cheryomushki district. Pavel was standing behind the man taking pictures. He had asked who wanted to be in his group." "And you raised your hand." "Yes. The elderly photographer was not pleased because it was exactly at the moment he took the shot. I remember he shouted, 'I don't have film to waste!'" "Who was Pavel?" "I didn't know him at all at the time, but we all were in groups, each with a leader. For some reason I chose Pavel. I saw him laugh when the old photographer got angry and I knew I had made the right choice. Afterwards he was stern and reprimanded me in front of everyone for spoiling the photo." "He did?" "Well yes, he had to. In those days you had to keep a proper face. But later he took me aside, when we were alone, and he told me he was happy I had been so excited to choose him as my leader. From then on we were not only cadet and leader, but firm friends." The fire leant a flickering glow which warmed the room. Both man and boy were relaxed and contented, but Sacha wanted to hear more of the story. "And what happened at the summer camp?" "Ah! Well we were twenty boys of varying ages in four groups. All good little Soviet cadets. You wouldn't know, because life here has changed, but I believed what they said. Everything they taught us." "They?" "The Party." Michail stared into space. His eyes wandered over the room and his thoughts drifted. He was there standing in line with the other cadets and their leaders. The windows were half open, those old metal framed windows which opened only at the top, held there by a bar. He remembered clearly, could even feel the warm summer breeze on his cheeks. The uniformed camp director was addressing the assembly. "Work and discipline are the order of the day," he was saying. For an instant a doubt resurged. Where had he heard that slogan before? It was in his German class. Michail was good at languages, near the top of his class, and excellent at German. 'Arbeit macht frei,' work makes one free, the words adorned the Nazi concentration camp. How different were the Communists? Perhaps all totalitarian regimes were identical. It was not a good idea to think this way and those thoughts he quickly shuffled to the back of his mind. Only years later would he question himself. Standing with the crowds as he watched the concrete slab fall to the ground leaving in its wake a giant hole. Nineteen eighty-nine Michail was in Berlin on the Soviet side when communism crumbled. It is often difficult to change and adapt, especially when for a large part of your life you have lived apart in a different world. Michail, however, had always felt apart, even from the Soviet reality which was his home. Why? Because of that one summer when he turned fourteen. Because of Pavel. The man was a model and a hero for young Michail. He wore so cleverly the skin of a chameleon. As he once told Michail, "You must change, and weave your way through life. Never reveal who you really are, but be true to yourself. Grasp the opportunities, live the lie." All those years ago Michail thought that Pavel was talking about making the most of life in Soviet Russia. But he wasn't. Or not simply that. Michail was young and inexperienced, he never understood what happened between them. Not until now, as an old man, did those words change colour in his mind and reveal another animal entirely. They set off together, the two of them. Pavel was the oldest person there, apart from the camp director. At twenty-eight it was his final year. Michail never took account of their difference in age. He respected, admired, and looked up to the man. Maybe more than simply that, there was an emotional tie. "It was our mission," he told Sacha. "The two of us. Pavel and myself. We had to repair the light on the signal tower so as to illuminate the peak. It was like a lighthouse for ships and alerted approaching aircraft to the steep craggy ridge they should clear before descending to land. "Only there were no aircraft and the runway was pitted with holes, tall grass and weeds growing through the cracked tarmac. The buildings were mostly in ruin, the glass broken on the windows. Only two small huts were in use, where they slept, and the old hangar where they assembled and ate. Conditions were spartan, but that was, I think, part of the idea. A way to build comradeship and promote a team spirit. There was no other reason to be there working on the restauration project. Perhaps it was also a cheap solution for a summer camp." Sacha shuffled around changing position. "Why were you and Pavel chosen to repair the light?" "Ah! A good question. I don't know why Pavel, but it would have to be a task for a leader, and he chose me." "But why, grandpa? You were the youngest." "Yes indeed, although there were a couple of other boys around my age. At the time I didn't think about it. Now I know why, but let's not spoil the story." Sacha nodded. "We set off with our supplies the next morning. Pavel had a Jawa 250 motorbike. A big red beast. It was so exciting. "I had a large hiking sack on my shoulders and there was a tent slung across the tank. The idea was to spend the day working and the night under the stars. Everyone had different tasks, in various groups. But for me, ours was the best adventure. "We sped off on the dirt track, the dust whipped up behind us and I held tight, leaning into Pavel's back. He'd told me to wrap my arms around his waist and not to let go. "Every so often I tried to peek over his shoulders to see where we were heading, but I only saw the countryside spread out to one side or the other. Pavel had broad shoulders and his back was like a wall. "We spent most of the day at the top of the hill. It was a long climb up, but the view was worth it. Looking back across the plain I could see the old airfield, the huts and the hangar, obscured by a haze. The sun was blazing down and a wind was whipping up the dry earth. Pavel had taken his shirt off and the sweat glistened on his body. He was like a god for me. The emblem of Soviet Russia, strength and force. "In another time and culture you might say a Greek God, an Adonis. If he was aware of his masculine good looks he gave no sign. Perhaps he reserved himself for the ladies? We stopped frequently to take breaks and a drink, yet still, by early afternoon the job was finished. "We both admired our work before he told me he had a surprise for me. Delving into our pack he pulled out the box with our lunch. 'There is a beautiful spot on the other side of the next hill,' he told me. 'If you're up for it, we will hike over there and take our lunch.' "Of course I was up for it. I was tired and hot, but would follow Pavel wherever he led. We made the trek in the heat. I covered my head with a cloth and Pavel wore a cap. When we arrived, I have to tell you, it was worth the effort. Water trickled down over craggy rocks and through hanging plants, dropping into a clear pool which we were standing looking at. At least I was standing there staring, but Pavel had other ideas. Putting aside the lunch box he grabbed me and wrestled me into the water. We crash landed with a huge splash as I lost the struggle. "We were soaked but also cooled. Pavel extended his arm to pull me out. 'We better strip off and let these dry,' he said, pulling off his shirt. I was a little embarrassed to remove all my clothes, but he insisted, and said we should spread them out over the smooth boulders. 'You have nothing I don't have,' I remember him joking. "We ate our lunch naked. I could not stop myself from looking at him, at his body. Of course he noticed. He said it was normal that I was inquisitive. "That afternoon we talked a lot. Pavel told me about himself and more particularly about his family. He was the youngest of five brothers and a sister. Their mother had left when he was young, leaving them as an almost entirely male household. Their father had been injured during the war and as a hero of the Soviet army received a small pension. Viktor was twelve years older than Pavel and it was he who was effectively in charge. "His sister had a little room to herself, next to their father's bedroom. It was in effect a bedroom they had partitioned in two. His three brothers shared another bedroom and he slept with Viktor. He told me that Viktor was not someone you could reason with, he never listened to what you might have to say. So, he was raised very strictly and any minor misdemeanour led to a swift and inescapable physical punishment." "That sounds like a very harsh upbringing," I told him and he nodded a little distracted. I had noticed more and more often, how my grandfather would drift away in the middle of things. It used to be he would tell his stories all the way through, or until I had fallen asleep. These days there would be pauses, which might be long if I didn't prompt him. When he didn't reply I asked, "Was that normal in those times?" He seemed to consider the question. "Normal, I don't know. Perhaps. Perhaps there was more discipline. Perhaps it was harder for Pavel given their circumstances. He had confided in me which was something no one had ever done before. I mean, I had friends with whom we shared little secrets, but this... this was different. I felt him telling me about himself brought us closer together, cemented our friendship. But what I didn't realise. At the time, that is, was that Pavel wanted something from me." "What did he want? Why didn't he just ask you?" "I believe he needed to try to explain who he was. That he needed my understanding. At the time I was a very naive fourteen year old, but I think even had I been a bit more worldly, it would not have made any difference. It may have cut things short quicker, that's all." I moved position on the sofa and stared at the flames licking the logs. "Cut things short? What happened?" "Yes, our story. That afternoon lying side by side in the sunshine he told me how he had always felt different to his brothers, but that he didn't understand why. Except he recounted his relationship with Viktor. They shared a bedroom and they shared a bed, which was not uncommon, large, poor families, often had little choice. "He never explained in detail about Viktor, other than I've already told you. His elder brother ruled with an iron fist, but I think there was more to their relationship." "Shall I put another log on the fire?" Grandfather nodded. I got up and went over to open the wood burner. I was relieved to have the break because it seemed that grandfather's story was touching on something about myself. There were things I had been thinking about a lot recently, but they were personal and not stuff I wanted to share with anyone. I don't know how Pavel could have shared things about his home life with grandfather, I didn't feel capable of doing the same. Not with grandfather, nor with my friends, and definitely not with my parents. If I told grandfather he might tell my mum and dad, my friends, I wasn't sure of their reaction and where that would leave me if things went bad. Yet it seemed to me grandfather was recounting a tale that might be mirroring my own feelings. I didn't know if this was simply coincidence or intentional. "Where were we?" Grandfather smiled, as I sat back down next to him. "You had spent all afternoon with Pavel telling you about himself." "We played about in the pool some more before we decided we should get dressed and make the short trek back to the signal lamp where we would camp for the night. "That night the sky was clear and we studied the stars twinkling their light against the black depths. I can honestly say I have never felt anything quite like those emotions that night. It is like an image indelibly printed on my mind and it has stayed with me over the years. As clear today as it was at the time, if just a tiny bit altered by the knowledge that age brings. "We snuggled up together that night and in the isolated darkness, in the middle of the vastness of space that surrounded us, something happened between us. It is not something I have ever talked about with anyone, but I'm sharing it with you now." I was starting to feel a little nervous, my heart was beating faster and my lips felt dry. I was almost ready to ask why. Why did he want to share this with me? Of course, I was hiding, running away, I knew why. Inside me I knew and I loved grandfather for his stories and... And for being my grandfather. "Like you and your friend Nicholai, Pavel and I became a little more than good friends that night." I blushed, both embarrassed and surprised. Grandfather looked at me. "It is not as huge an affair as I think you are frightened about. It only seems like that to you, Sacha. Let me tell you this, I could not be that person I believe Pavel was searching for, but I regret nothing. It was a part of life's rich experience. I know, I grew older and married your grandmother, that's a whole other story. That's my life. Had I been more like Pavel, who knows where life would have led us. "I don't want to embarrass you, Sacha. I want you to understand you are my grandson and I love you. I love you with my whole heart and if you and Nicholai are more than simply friends, I still love you and always will." I couldn't look at him, because my eyes filled with tears. Gently he turned my face towards him and he kissed my forehead. The tears fell freely over my cheeks. They were tears of love and an immense relief. I felt as if a great weight had been thrown off of me. It had been crushing me, but now I was floating in the air, light as a feather. I don't know how my grandfather knew about me, perhaps he had seen me with Nicholai, but when, how, I had know idea. But inside myself I thanked him with my whole heart. We sat together and watched the flames flickering until only the dying embers remained. I will never forget my grandfather Mikhail or the Komsomol. ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆
  9. There is an author interview which talks about Coupé, if that is the story you are looking for: http://castleroland.invisionzone.com/topic/1860-coupé-by-dartagnon/
  10. Talo Segura

    Dancing on a Star

    The bloopers and outtakes. “You’re cute when you get all nervous?” He gave me a serious look. “You think I’m cute?” I grinned and said, “Yes. I think you’re cute.” Everybody anyone falls for or wants, is... well, cute! He looked up into my face and asked, “A penny for your thoughts?” Finally, I broke the silence. “What brings you here?” Do teenagers really speak like this or is the author showing his age? Coach Warren blew his whistle and they guys rose from the bleacher and Tracy come home earlier, He smiled and patted my on my leg cast. When he blew the whistle for them to stop, all the players had a chance on the court. ...you wouldn’t probably not expect him to be. Yep, as we near the end, the typos come thick and fast, until they aren't probably what you wouldn't expect them to be. Got it? Hey folks, I'm not being overly critical here, but you can't help noticing this stuff if your paying attention to what you're reading - you're paying attention to what you're reading? I know the reply: I did it all myself without the help of an editor. Well, it happens to us all. The best advice I've seen for one man shows, is put it aside and re-read it a week later.
  11. This is a book which takes the reader on a long journey following the trials and tribulations of a group of high school kids coming out and coming to terms with being gay. The catalyst and star for all this is Tracy, the boy next door who happens to be learning ballet. His dance moves will have an effect not just on Jack, our protagonist, but all the boys and more, including the basketball team. The story is full of teenage angst, ups and down, and sexual encounters, first time experiences and the almost inevitable parent and school problems. The tale is told by Jack and focuses tightly on him and his eventual small group of gay friends. There are a few well known tropes along the way, including some pretty dramatic events with the best friend. In fact, apart from Tracy and Jeff who are out, the others are all surprising revelations. And speaking of revelations, there is the bad parent not coming to terms with her son being gay. Another familiar theme that gets played out. I wouldn't criticise the story for its use of common themes, nor that all Jack's friends are gay. It is gay romantic fiction after all, and you need to suspend belief a little. What I would highlight is that there is no stronger storyline than gay boy makes good and we all live happily ever after. Sure, it toys with the dilemma of being too young for a one to one relationship and preferring lots of sex with different partners. But whilst it raises the question it only answers it in a superficial way, which is essentially telling us sex is different and more meaningful when the right person comes along. The book starts as a dramatic coming out story, then somewhat rambles along through many various relationships and parents coming to terms with everything. It draws to an end with a recognition of Tracy and what he has brought to the show, but whilst it's a nice one liner, I'm not sure how much Tracy had a bearing on our hero falling in love. It would seem Tracy changed how a large number of people thought about gay boys in the high school, but he was hardly a role model for more than dancing naked and free love. Still, we ought not to underestimate the power of both those things. I had the feeling, on reaching the end, that the author had simply decided to wind it up there. For me, there was no real conclusion. The last few chapters led up to the final one, but they seemed a little lackadaisical and contained a number of overlooked text errors. Okay, you can read through the typos and lack of editing, but somehow it seems to indicate a fade out, rather than purposeful ending. Enough of the criticism, it is an enjoyable read that will keep you entertained, offer up a few surprises and mention a few pointers about young teenage gay relationships. Just don't expect any profound insights and read it at face value, a nice easy read.
  12. Talo Segura

    Friday (Night)

    That was a nice ending with the scene between Jeff and Simon. I think it is a pretty good achievement for a first finished novel. I know all about half finished stories, I think a lot of authors have those and half started projects, lying around. It's good you completed this story, unfortunately, so many writers start and give up, or start, and start, and start. Ideas and beginnings are not so difficult as middles and ends. Writing is a lonely occupation, just yourself, your characters, and a story plot. I often think it's a subtle form of psychosis and wonder if I'm not going mad having all these voices in my head! Anyhow, well done, an enjoyable read.
  13. Talo Segura

    The Drummer Boy

    Nice beginning, you've really got your own unique style and that's good. I actually like your style; kind of open, brash, British, and out there.
  14. Talo Segura


    The story is great and the writing is excellent. I am totally engrossed in reading the tale you are telling. The style is wonderful, with an almost languid melancholic atmosphere reflected by the slow, lingering pace, which is simply exquisite. "My heartbeat increased. In my mind I’d already said yes ten times over." Wow, yes, I'm there with the two of them, so real. Then you have those wonderful descriptions: "We held each other’s gazes. The sun was nearly gone, what remained of it hidden beneath rows of high-rise buildings across the street, receding rays reflecting off repeating sets of windows. In the dim light his skin shone like molten gold. I could feel my heart trying to jump out of my chest." The juxtaposition between Valentín and what happened with Noah, going back in time at the end there, adds to building a complete picture, filling in the blanks slowly. It's terribly engaging, and I savour every chapter. It's also full of truths, like should he keep his relationship with Noah or, as he says, leave it as a memory in the past. I can relate to that, I've experienced the same, so I know it's real life we're talking about.
  15. I would say that a short story would help get you noticed. Perhaps I do not represent the majority, but you have a story with chapters the length of a book, in total nearly half a million words, and it's not finished. That might put a lot of readers off, unless they already knew and enjoyed your writing, half a million words is over 41 hours reading! Personally I would have split it, novels are usually, between 50k and 100k. I think five or six books as a series would get you more readers. You can only get reviews after a story is complete, so by now you would have built up both reviews and followers. Comments and chapter likes count and with shorter chapters you get more of those. As I said, I may be the exception, but I'm not very likely to read chapters of 20k to 35k.
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