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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

The never ending hatred of former friends.


Ron dressed and headed into town following his usual route past the horse paddocks, along the rough path with its austere gums and ebullient magpies.

“Horses, horses…” he sang to himself a la Patti Smith, enjoying the Autumn sunshine. It was cool but not yet frosty. The track led down through the old quarry with its mounds of clay and shingle where he saw fresh motor bike tracks which had churned up the sodden ground. He marched along the Quarry Road before turning into the Millwood Road, passing clusters of pines and the large dam on Sandy McPherson’s property which lay between the bush and town.

He reached the spread of mediocre houses leading into Hopelesstown, past the retirement village, now in lockdown and headed along the back lanes. The fewer people to observe him the better, he felt, and less chance of running into Emma, the sooky girl, whom he loved so much, but alas would never reciprocate his adoration.

“I used to love you, but now I don’t,” he sang to himself, which he’d heard on the radio recently, but ceased upon seeing residents ahead. It was never wise to sing in Hopelesstown as it was regarded as effeminate. Real men don’t sing. They whinge about poofters, bludgers and Asians at the pub; or they did before the pubs were closed. Now they were probably texting and emailing their prejudices. Nothing ever really changed in Hopelesstown. Occasionally one of oldies would drop dead after a life of copious drinking, but there was always another to take his place at the bar when they were old enough.

He passed the Rural Supplies’ workshop and storage area whereupon a flouro-clad worker yelled “Poet!”, his nickname in the town, to which he reluctantly waved his acknowledgement. He was always wary of locals as they were critical of his indolent lifestyle. He walked alone and his job at the bakery had ceased after Persephone had given birth to her daughter, Precious. It seemed a preposterous name, but somehow apt.

It was his youngest daughter’s birthday today and he regretted the years of not seeing her and her sister. ‘Je ne regrette rien’, he thought. He was a lonely broken exile who lived in fear of eternal loneliness. He thought he’d deserved love once, but since his falling out with Emma and her subsequent bellicosity, the idea of love was now absurd. Who can love anyone who hates the world as much as he did? It was laughable.

He returned home and opened the whisky he’d purchased and poured some into a rather dirty glass. Petrushka was playing on the radio; he sat at his desk and stared out at the loneliness. Delphine, the mad woman, had threatened to hitch out to Hopelesstown to visit him but she was the last person he wanted to see now. Emma hated Delphine and would assume the worst if she turned up at Ron’s place. It was a small town, and everyone would find out eventually; it would intensify her hatred of him. Emma claimed he had betrayed her. Betrayal is a strong word, he thought, but there was no point in debating semantics with her. She wasn’t educated enough to use phrases like semantic and contextual orthodoxy. She was a peasant. They would never communicate again, and he knew it. She was as stubborn as those garbage bags that time will not decay, he thought quoting Leonard Cohen. He poured himself another glass of whisky and smoked another cigarette.

He moved from his desk to the couch and began reading a short story from a collection he had. It was a large volume of one hundred stories; he chose Babylon Revisited by F. Scott Fitzgerald, about a man who loses all his money in the Wall Street crash and later his wife and the custody of his daughter to alcoholism. He sipped his whisky and thought of the parallels in his own life and how he’d lost everything which now included Emma’s friendship. How could he have been such a self-destructive fool? Poor, poor Emma. He missed her so much at the moment.


Ron’s landlord, who had returned to Hopelesstown from Melbourne and was now staying on the farm with his friend Monty dropped by the next day and offered him a lift into town. Ron picked up some wine, whisky and tobacco from the supermarket before getting five litres of petrol from Rural Supplies. On the return home Ron foolishly looked out the car window and saw Emma’s dyed red hair, sitting with a group of friends on her veranda with the view of the water tower next to his shack. He’d never felt so alone. It was going to take longer than he thought to forget her.

She texted him that night. “Leave me alone.” He intended to. She was less than nothing to him now.

Submitted: May 04, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Craig Davison. All rights reserved.

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People really do have a strange reaction to anyone that dares to call themselves a poet - unless they're dead, of course. Dead poets are acceptable while very few live ones are. I liked the mention of 'Horses' - I've used it before, I think, or maybe I just dreamed I did.
Anyway, excellent short story, Craig.

Tue, May 5th, 2020 7:25pm


All the Romantics died young. Camus died in 1960 aged 46. Flannery O'Connor didn't reach 40. The list goes on. Yeah, Betrayal is an excerpt of the story I wrote whilst doing an online writing course. The final draft is over 6500 words and perhaps needs an edit. It's called A Heart Worth Giving and I am pleased with it, but still working on it. I love doing online courses - they are free, fun and ultimately productive.

Mon, June 1st, 2020 5:32pm

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