Read My Work

In Silesia, tracing my father's roots 

Below are brief excerpts from several of my short works of fiction, some of which can be downloaded in their entirety. 

I have decided to publish my novel Crossed Wires and any future writing under my father's name, Putschker. He changed his name to Ker to please my mother before their marriage. My stories below were all published under the name Arthur Ker   


Lorna (Short Story)                                                                           Download 

She set off down the road in the direction of the main street. She looked back to check that Sally and Derek stayed in the house. They had started a new game. They followed her about and then reported on all her movements when they got home. She had belted both their ears the last time but it only seemed to add to the excitement. When she was sure that no one was following her she turned into the lane beside the church which led down to Macintyre’s Yard. The men stopped early on Fridays so the yard was in darkness. She could see the black shapes of the lorries lined up on the other side of the hedge. The main gate was locked but the side gate was open for the workmen who lived in caravans at the back of the yard. Most of them travelled home at the weekends, but there were always one or two around. She picked her way through piles of building materials to a caravan right on the edge of the river. There were no lights on.


All in the Mind (Short Story)                                                              Download 

Your wife’s face is already made up but she frowns and plucks a tissue from the box and blots her lipstick, tossing the bloody kiss into the wicker wastebasket. You’ll have to fish that out, wrap it in newspaper and parcel tape and put it in the outside bin, otherwise it might talk to you all day, saying nasty things your wife would never say.

When she walks out of the bedroom, you hear the clip clop of her high heels on the bare varnished floorboards. Don’t start counting the steps, you tell yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s an even number of steps or an odd number, or if it’s divisible by three, four or seven, or even if it’s a prime number it means nothing, it portends nothing.

Your wife reappears and leans over and offers you her cheek to kiss. Because of the lipstick she can’t kiss you, she knows that. Even the faintest print on your cheek might taunt you the whole day.


An Act of Desperation (Short Story)

At the end of the interview they asked if I had any questions. I’d prepared a couple on topics that I knew were close to Sarah’s heart. I thought they were brilliant. They were designed to show that I was clued up on the latest educational developments, and that I recognised Sarah was a forward-looking faculty head, determined to get these programmes up and running. So I couldn’t believe how curt, and cold, she was in her reply. She was always friendly enough in the past. We live two streets from each other and quite often shared taxis back to the west end after college functions. On a couple of occasions we even dropped into the bar in the converted church at the end of her street for a nightcap and a gossip.



Blessed Are They (Short Story)                                                       Download

The text for the day is a bit of a let-down too. Proverbs 17:27: ‘He who has knowledge spares his words.’ It’s hardly inspirational. The commentary underneath explains that this means keeping in check opinions that might spark anger in others; buttoning your lip in other words. If we are truly wise we will think before speaking and only share insights likely to be helpful. Sounds more like something you’d get from the Buddhists or those two smart talkers I spoke to yesterday–The Brahma Kumaris. They had an answer for everything that pair. Said they would only take my tract on condition that I accepted one of their little cards. ‘Talk to your mind. Tell it the good, sweet positive things of eternal truth.’ What is that supposed to mean? It’s like all that Eastern nonsense; they harp on about love and compassion and detachment but the one thing they never square up to is sin.


Bad News (Short Story)

My heart bangs in my chest before my brain even registers the cause of panic. The face is still the same, thick-lipped and pettish like a big sulking baby. His thinning wispy hair has been disheveled by the breeze, which accentuates the babyish expression, but it’s the slitty cunning eyes that really give him away. It’s the same shot on the front pages of all the morning papers. The vendor holds out the one I’ve been standing in the rain staring at for the last two minutes. I hand over the money and head towards the station, trying to get the sense of the story as I’m jostled in the surge of commuters. But I can hardly focus on the words: my mind keeps flipping back thirty years.


The Hot and Happy Chips (Short Story)                                            Download

She is totally oblivious to the chaos she’s creating, and stands in the narrow entrance surveying the makeshift auditorium at her leisure. Behind her the press of bodies is backed up to the foot of the escalator from the ground floor. The dyed black hair and dead pan make-up create an odd impression; she’s managed, somehow, to look vulnerable and terrifying at the same time. Her panda eyes sweep along the derelict front row and she marches to a seat just to the left of the centre aisle. When she turns to sit down there’s something really bizarre going on at the back of her head, a weird geometric pattern. Looking closer you can see that she’s pulled her hair into four little ponytails. It’s half an inch of grey roots exposed at all the partings that is creating the effect.


Tracking Down the Skadocks (Creative Non-fiction)

An hour later, we’re in the bustle of the Hauptbahnhof, running to catch the 11.22 which will get us to Stassfurt for 14.00. As we pull out of the station, we watch the buildings and streets glide past, followed after a time by sprawling, picture-book housing estates, then the functional retail and industrial parks that border all big cities. When we reach open country, it is featureless, flat as a billiard table, and strangely empty. We are headed deep into the old GDR, a country notorious for imprisoning and spying on its own people. Will we see any lasting effects of that regime fourteen years on from unification? The further south we go the more crumbling and neglected the towns appear, and the people boarding the train look shabby as well, their clothes chosen for durability rather than style. Verona remarks that few of the kids are wearing recognised brands of trainers. What I notice, with relief, is that mobile phones aren’t the ubiquitous nuisance they are at home.

In Stassfurt we book a hotel through the tourist information office. They direct us, I suspect, to the most expensive in town—it’s certainly the swankiest building and the first, on our walk there, where we see any buzz of human activity. As young people enter and exit a door next to the reception, we can hear the trundle of bowling balls followed by the smack and clatter of pins being struck. It turns out that the bowling alley and the neighbouring pool and gym are the places to hang out in Stassfurt.

We check in, dump our cases in the room and go for a walk to get a feel of the town. The buildings look derelict, and many of the shops are empty, as if half the population has suddenly upped and left. A constant stream of cars cruise the streets. As we make our way to the centre, Verona points out a white convertible and a customised vintage Beetle that she’s certain have passed us three times. I start scanning the passing cars. She’s right; a lot of them appear to be making endless loops of the town. Verona says it’s like The Truman Show; they’re only there to persuade us this town’s real, and not a set in some weird German reality show. Down by the river there’s a huge funfair. The stalls and rides are manned and open for business, but there isn’t a soul about; the machinery of cheap thrills stands idle while the coloured lights flash and chase round the gaudy signs. A fairground organ cranks out one of those tunes that have become a cliché in countless horror and thriller films.