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quick fiction

The man sitting in front of me at the Ballina RSL is reading a book. Next to him is another bloke reading from his iPad.

The iPad guy is a slob; thongs, Tshirt full of grub marks and shorts that walk on their own. The book guy has a dome where his hair should be and his glasses have a red strap, a wide red strap like something you’d wear skiing in Sochi to keep your snow-glasses on. He’s also wearing shorts with sandals.

Judged not a good look.

But I like the book guy, he’s almost at the end of it and the cricket’s not on for half an hour so when was the last time you ever watched a bloke reading a book?

This is pertinent because right now I’m writing one, and right now I’ve got to get a Russian to try to kill an Australian in the sampan quays in Hong Kong in 1948. This is a word by word build because if I’m going to read this stuff when its finished it’s going to have be on the f**cken money because I like authors with all their shit together.

And Tom Cruise will not be in this movie.


I’ll have my people ring yours, Tom, ok?

If you ever hear a writer say he doesn’t read what he writes he’s bullshitting you. Who cooks and doesn’t eat, who rolls a number and doesn’t smoke some, who paints a picture and hangs it up face to the wall?

If you ever hear a writer say he doesn’t read what he writes it’s because it’s not good enough, and he ought to know.

Meanwhile, Dome in the RSL is wading through his book here, I can see by the inclination of his head what page he’s reading, left or right – and it’s zip and flick for about five pages. Four hundred words a page, that’s two thousand words gone by at full throttle.

My Russian guy is now creeping up behind the Australian who’s having a smoke on the edge of the jetty and gazing out on the harbour.

The bolshie has slipped out a knife. It glitters in the waning moonlight.

This ^ has taken an afternoon to do so far.

What if the speed reading dome was reading my book? I might as well write a cheeseburger menu. But now he’s stopped and is taking a bit more time per page, and he’s jiggling his foot up and down, there’s a little twitch in his neck. Then a couple of slow pages before he’s back on overdrive.

Read a bit / flick / read a bit / flick.

Just a couple of pages to go.

He hears the rustle of clothes behind him and turns …..

My Australian isn’t Chuck Norris. This is 1948 and roundhouse kicks weren’t practiced outside of mainland China so he’s got to do something and get out of it without a mark, both of them, because they have to come back later on in that part of the book that hasn’t been invented yet …

this is how a novel goes, s.l.o.w.


Dome’s finished, two hundred pages in twenty minutes and now he’s browsing the thanksalot messages on the back flyleaf. This is a $33 sized paperback about 500 pages big and all I want to know is who wrote it.

Because Dome has just proved that a lot of the writer’s words were wasted on him, when he got up to leave I thought he might dump it on the table.

He didn’t, but I saw the cover as he walked by.



Dome’s book cover … and you have to admit, the author is a Babe.

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