Passerby is now on paper.

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There is something about the feeling of a real book, in your hands. The anticipation of what is to come. What will I use for a bookmark?

My first collection of short stories [it’s actually book 2 in the series, but let’s not get confused at this early stage] has been out in the world since late last year and it has been received by a thunderous silence, but that’s okay. It’s all part of my cunning plan to write a stunning body of work and be acclaimed posthumously and have my ancestors spend the proceeds when I’m gone……… no wait……. that was the nightmare I had last night……… forget that I said any of that.

Passerby lives!

IMG_2939 It’s important to remember not to put your hand over the title of the book when taking promotional shots.

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Some of my more dedicated readers will remember that I attempted to ‘crowd fund’ the expenses associated with the publishing of this anthology. So what did I learn from this experience? That’s a good question, and I’m glad that you asked. Firstly, I learned that people can be very generous even when they have very little, and asking for help, even when there are rewards involved, is very difficult indeed. I didn’t come close to reaching my target but a few hardy souls used my Pay Pal button and sent me donations anyway.

As any writer will tell you, the hardest part of publishing is the editing phase. In this case I had to find photos to go with some of the stories because I didn’t own the rights to the original illustrations.

I had more than 130 stories to choose from and this created a problem. I wanted the collection to have some sort of loose theme, and in the end I chose stories that demanded a sequel, and in some cases a third part. A few ‘one off’ stories made their way in there as well and in the end I was very happy with the stories that I had chosen.

I tried the collection out on a few friends and the response was favourable. Of course I knew that each individual story had received a good reception on WP, but the question was whether they would work together.

I sound like a proud dad, but I am pleased with every story in this book and I know that the people who choose to purchase it will get their money’s worth.

The book is available on all major platforms and from all major eBook retailers [all my books seem to do well on iBooks for some reason], but now it is available as a ‘proper book’. All you have to do is hit the link and it will take you to the printer’s site, and you can purchase a copy.

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Above is a shot of me reading ‘Passerby’. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I can recommend it as a sure cure for whatever ails you.

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This is a photo of me when I travelled back in time. They didn’t have colour photographs back then so a black and white one will have to suffice. I’m not saying that you will be able to time travel if you buy this book but it is worth buying the book just on the off-chance. Good luck and good reading.

Terry.

Paper copy……

http://blur.by/1AYFhzr

iBooks…………

https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/passerby/id950118792?mt=11

Smashwords………….

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/499283

Amazon…………..

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RE22226#

Blue Sky.

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 This story is now part of my new short story anthology, PASSERBY.

You can purchase a copy HERE

If you like what I do, you can help me to keep on doing it by buying one of my books.

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If you read this story first it may enhance your enjoyment of ‘Blue Sky’.
https://araneus1.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/passerby/

 

It didn’t hurt as much as I thought it might.

I knew it wasn’t good, and I knew that I was in deep shit, but just at that moment I was enjoying the view.

Beautiful fluffy white clouds set against an azure sky.

The only thing that was spoiling the view was the masked gunman, complete with balaclava and sawn-off rifle.

I’m assuming it was sawn-off; it is hard to tell from my angle because he had it pointed at my head and all I could see was the hole in the barrel.

I was reasonably sure that a bullet was going to emerge from that barrel at any moment.

It seemed disingenuous to point and not shoot.

The gunfire had ceased, but I could hear loud talking — ‘Don’t do it mate’, followed by, ‘No one has died [how the hell did he know that] and all you have to do is walk away, but if you kill a cop they will never stop looking for you.’

I couldn’t see who was doing the talking, but given the circumstances, I thought that he might be mad or very brave.

Either way, he was going to get himself killed; and it would be a shame to get yourself killed on such a beautiful day.

I remember talking about the weather when we started our shift.

‘Everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.’

That was my dad’s favourite weather joke, and he wheeled it out whenever it looked like there was someone in the vicinity who had not heard it before.

In our job, the weather can tell you what sort of day you are going to have.

I’d been on ‘days’ for a couple of weeks.

I didn’t dread ‘nights’ like a lot of the blokes.

‘Nights’ had their dangers and their appeal; it’s a whole other world.

A rainy day means we attend more than the occasional road accident. Once, we had to park on a major highway with all our lights flashing to stop anyone running into a young couple who were moving furniture into their house.

The truck wouldn’t fit up the driveway, and they were soaked to the skin and the traffic coming around the bend at 70 kph had little time to see and avoid them.

They weren’t doing anything wrong, just trying to move into a very difficult house.

They lived through it, and so did we.

They gave us a wave when they were finished; that doesn’t happen too often.

Hot weather tends to bring out the drunks and the crazies but a lovely sunny spring day like today forebode well.

It should have been a routine day, and up until lunchtime, it was.

I bought lunch yesterday so today, Michael my partner, decided on ‘fish and chips’, and I didn’t mind.

This little shopping strip was famous for having the best fish and chips in the area.

There was plenty of people about, many also on a break just like us. People heading to the cafe or looking for a spot to sit quietly and eat a sandwich that someone else had lovingly prepared.

I can’t remember if the birds were singing but they should have been.

There was on-street parking, but there was also a medium-sized car park which the council had built a decade or more before by buying and knocking down a couple of shops and the houses behind them.

Some space was reserved for grass and trees and benches and a tiny playground, but mostly it was bitumen and white lines.

We had parked opposite the bank, which amazingly was still there. Suburban Bank branches were rare in those days.

It had a ‘whole in the wall’ teller machine and was built out of those ubiquitous cream bricks that invaded this country in the 1950s.

I was dodging traffic while trying to cross the road when I saw the first masked gunman come out the front door of the bank.

The bank was old, so it had steps at the front and a ‘disabled ramp’ that had been installed some years after the building was completed.

The gunman was scanning the street, but he had to look down to negotiate the steps, and this gave me just enough time to draw my weapon.

I remember thinking that there was an even chance of either being run down by a car or shot by the armed robber in the mask.

He saw me and levelled his ‘sawn-off.’

I saw the flash.

I’m not sure how many rounds I got off, but I know I missed him.

At least one shot hit the cream bricks behind him, and bits of brick and mortar exploded in a cloud of dust.

There wasn’t anywhere for me to hide so I just kept moving in his direction; even after I felt what seemed like a small truck hit me in the chest.

My legs wanted to carry me further, but the rest of me said ‘fall down’, so I did.

I came to rest in an empty car space; I didn’t quite make it to the footpath. I rolled onto my back and stared at the amazing blue sky and the fluffy white clouds.

I didn’t see them, but I heard a couple of other blokes run past in the direction of the council car park.

I remember wondering why they would park in a car park; why not out the front of the bank?

I also remember wondering [or was that much later] why they didn’t have a look-out or a driver, waiting to whisk them away.

Back in the 1980s, this kind of thing happened twice a week, but then the banks got sued for not having enough security, and people started having their paychecks paid directly into their accounts and banks stopped being easy targets.

These blokes were not pros’; and not long after all this it got them killed, but that was to come, and now I’m staring down the barrel, so to speak.

I found out much later that the voice belonged to Nolan James Sieracki.

Nolan was on his lunch break, just like us, and when the shooting started, he ducked for cover.

The amazing thing is, he didn’t stay under cover; he spoke out; he saved my life.

As the gunman walked away, I could see a smile in his eyes.

Nolan came over to me, knelt down, and asked me about my gun, ‘Do I have to cock this thing or do I just point and shoot?’

Holy shit this bloke is going to get us both killed.

He seemed determined; there was no way I could talk him out of it, ‘Point and squeeze’.

I was pretty sure that the safety was off; I heard a single shot.

I half expected him to fall, but he didn’t, he just got up and walked toward the car park.

More shots — and then he was kneeling beside me again.

I heard my partner shouting; I wanted to say ‘He’s with me’, but no words came out, and I became very peaceful and very unconscious.

It was weeks before I woke up again and, even more weeks before anyone in a uniform asked me what happened.

This seemed very strange to me.

I can remember detectives asking questions of people who had minutes to live; nurses and doctors whispering very loudly that we needed to leave, and being ignored.

Eventually, I heard that the gunmen were all dead.

“That was a hell of a shot for a wounded man to make. Lying on your back like that with all that Claret oozing out of you. Lucky shot, or are you that good, constable?”

The words were spilling out of the Chief Commissioner of Police for the State of Victoria.

I’d seen his picture on the wall in the Senior Sergeant’s office, but this was the real bloke; in person.

I couldn’t figure out why he was speaking in that strangely affected tone until I noticed that my small hospital room was full of cameras.

They had woken me up because the Chief Commissioner was late for another appointment and they wanted to ‘get this over with’.

I smiled, I think, and said, “Lucky shot I guess.” At the time, I had no idea what they were talking about.

The room emptied, and I lapsed back into that beautiful Morphine-induced sleep.

I know why people get hooked on this stuff; not only does it take away the pain but it takes away your ability to care about anything; it’s really rather lovely.

They let my wife visit but not my kids.

I’m not sure who they were protecting, them or me.

Janice cried a lot and told me how the kids were going and then cried some more; but she didn’t tell me what was going on and frankly, I didn’t care.

My young mind thought that my career and my life, as I knew it, was over.

It’s strange to remember that bit, especially as I’m writing this from the Chief Commissioner’s office.

Things worked out well for me.

You might be wondering why I’m writing this now, after all, this time?

I just found out that Nolan James Sieracki passed away last night.

His heart gave out, and he was surrounded by his family; his wife his two sons and his five grandchildren.

He lived a quiet life; raised a family; taught his sons what it means to be a man.

I hope they knew what a remarkable man he was.

His life had its ups and downs; I know because I’ve been watching.

He worked in that hardware store for another dozen years; then he went out on his own.

His business sputtered along for a few years but eventually a downturn in the economy finished him off.

I made it known that every officer in my station should consider supporting his little shop, and they knew why.

My story was legendary, and they knew that their commander was one of only a very few serving officers who had been awarded the Medal of Valour.

The men and woman under my command knew that I wasn’t a desk jockey; I’d been out there; been shot; nearly died; Medal of Valour.

After a period where his wife supported them all, and he descended into a deep depression, he received an offer of a job working for the Victoria Police at their maintenance depot in the outer Eastern Suburb of Ferntree Gully.

I’m sure he wondered why they had asked him, but he said yes, and he worked there until he retired.

By all accounts, he was good at his job and was well liked.

His boys were good sportsmen, and one went into the computer business, and the other made amazing pastries.

Nolan’s family need to know how brave their patriarch was.

They need to know that he saved my life and allowed me to have a family and a career.

They need to know that I kept the promise I made to him in that letter. He had his reasons for giving me credit for taking that shot, and I kept my mouth shut; kept my word.

Not because I wanted or needed the glory; I really didn’t care much about anything at the time.

It might have taken me a year to write it, but I meant every word.

If you are reading this now, it means that I too have passed away.

This was a story and a secret that needed time to be told.

Lives were built on this secret, and it was the way that both of us wanted it, but now it is time for our descendants to know the truth.

Whoever reads this is honour-bound to send a copy to Nolan’s descendants.

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Passerby.

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 This story is now part of my new short story anthology, PASSERBY.

You can purchase a copy HERE

If you like what I do, you can help me to keep on doing it by buying one of my books.

PASSERBY cover png

I should have stayed down; stayed where I was.

Anyone with half a brain would have stayed out of sight until it was definitely all over.

But no; I had to stick my head up to see what was going on.

I only had vision for a split second, but I could see the young policeman lying on the ground; his gun just out of reach.

I was guessing that the masked bloke standing over him was probably the one who shot him. With all the gun-fire over the past few seconds it was difficult to tell how many people had been involved.

The shooting had stopped and the other masked blokes had legged it up the street and into the car park; leaving this lone gunman standing over the fallen officer aiming his gun at the young man’s head.

I got that sick feeling that you get when you know that if you don’t do something really quickly you are going to spend the rest of your life wishing you had.

Let’s get this straight; given enough time I’m always going to fall on the side of the line that says ‘coward’.

My dad was a war hero but that’s not me.

Gold plated, self-interested coward.

So, knowing all that, I was surprised as anyone when the words, “Don’t do it mate”, came rather loudly out of my mouth.

Thinking about it later, and I do that a lot, it occurs to me that my training as a referee was what got me into this sticky situation. Sometimes during a game some bloke will ‘loose it’ and look like he is going to kill someone and if you shout at him, from a considerable distance, the shock of your words can snap him back into real-time.

It worked about half the time and the other half of the time he came after you, which was bad. But as I mentioned, you did this from a distance and if things went ‘pear-shaped’ you had a running start and hopefully his team mates would grab him before he got to you.

Only now, this bloke didn’t have team mates and no matter how fast I thought I was, I wasn’t going to be able to outrun a bullet.

The gunman did indeed stop looking at the injured policeman; and he turned his gaze toward me.

All my life I have been able to talk my way out of tight corners; they don’t come any tighter than this.

He looked at me but didn’t level his gun in my direction, which I took as a good sign.

I think I said something like, “No one has died [how the hell did I know that] and all you have to do is walk away, but if you kill a cop they will never stop looking for you.”

He stared at me for what seemed like an eternity and it occurred to me that I had a big mouth and it was finally going to catch up with me.

Then it happened.

The gunman smiled at me and walked in the direction of his fellow armed robbers.

He walked slowly and I could hear the sound of his boots as they hit the footpath.

All other sound had ceased.

It was as quiet as you can imagine, except for the sound of his boots.

At that moment it occurred to me that this bloke was likely to come out of the spell of my brilliantly chosen words and realise that the cops were going to get him no matter what, and that he might as well make it as hard as possible for them by killing the two closest witnesses; the young policeman and myself.

I guessed that I had about four seconds before this all unfolded so I bent down and picked up the policeman’s hand gun.

I looked at him and I could see that he was in a very bad way and I think he read my mind because he started to shake his head.

I was running out of time and we both knew it so I said,” Do I have to cock this thing or do I just point and shoot?”

I could barely hear him but I’m pretty sure he said, “Point and squeeze.”

I’m now half kneeling on the footpath and when I turn and look the gunman, who had reached the corner of the building leading to the car park, was turning in our direction.

The penny had dropped in his violent mind and my words had fallen from his eyes.

He had returned to reality; his reality; kill or be killed.

I brought the weapon up and squeezed the trigger.

The gunman fell like a rag doll.

I couldn’t tell where I’d hit him but I’d aimed at his chest.

My foolish brain now worried about him getting up again and killing us both. I wasn’t sure if I could stop my hand from shaking for long enough to fire again, so I left the young policeman lying there and covered the few steps to where the gunman lay.

He wasn’t going to get up again; I kicked his gun away, like I had seen it done on TV.

At that moment I heard the V8-engined getaway car start up and I heard something whizz past my ear followed by a whole bunch of other somethings; then the noise from someone in that car shooting at me became apparent.

Like a complete idiot, I returned fire.

Who the hell did I think I was?

The car sped away closely followed by a couple of police cars that had just arrived.

I went back to the fallen policeman to see if I could help but he needed a priest and that was not in my skill set.

I kneeled next to him and tried to reassure him but both of us knew that he probably wasn’t going to be here much longer.

It was only when I tried to grasp his hand that I realised I was still holding his gun. I didn’t feel as though my hand would let it go, but a loud voice that came from behind me convinced me otherwise.

I found out much later that the voice belonged to the dying officer’s partner.

He had gone to the Fish and Chip shop to buy them both some lunch as it all kicked off.

It was his turn to buy lunch and it saved his life.

He wasn’t sure if I was one of the armed robbers or not, and holding on to a gun was not helping my cause.

I dropped the gun and this large policeman pushed me to the ground and kneeled on my back; it really hurt and I thought at the time that I was going to have a permanent dent in my back.

I politely suggest that he might want to get the fuck off me and he responded by punching me in the kidney.

I decided that further conversation was a bad idea.

They threw me in the back of a police-van and drove me, faster than I thought was humanly possible, to a cell at a police station that I didn’t recognise.

I sat in that cell for several hours; I was scared and mad as hell. I knew that I had just saved someones life and I didn’t know what was happening.

I threw-up a couple of times.

The police surgeon explained that that was probably shock and the result of too much adrenaline in my system. “Thanks a lot Doc, that makes me feel a whole lot better.”

The police surgeon wasn’t the first person I spoke to. That honour went to Chief Inspector ‘someoneorother’, who had popped along to apologise for my treatment. He was probably only trying to limit the size of the lawsuit but I appreciated someone saying ‘sorry’, so I told him ‘not to worry about it’ and he apologised again while telling me that they could not let me go just yet as there were a few things that needed to be sorted out; not the least of which was how the gunman came to be shot.

As I said, I’d been sitting in that cell for several hours, which gave me a chance to think about what was going to happen next.

From the questions I was being asked, it seemed that everyone had their head down [except me] and no one saw how the gunman got his. The assumption was that the wounded officer had fired off one last lucky shot.

If I ‘put my hand up’ and said it was me, I would be an instant celebrity and my life would change dramatically; at least until the media got bored and then I’d be left looking over my shoulder waiting for this bozo’s mates to catch up with me.

So, at least for now, I was keeping quiet; hiding behind the trauma, until I knew what the other gunmen had seen.

Within hours there was a siege and shoot out.

Two officers were injured and the three gunmen were killed.

My problem ——- how many friends did these blokes have, and which one among them would like to make a name for himself by putting my lights out?

I had a family to consider so my story, when I finally emerged from my ‘trauma filled haze’, was going to be suitably vague.

After giving a rambling statement they let me go home, but I had to come back in two days to give a ‘formal statement’.

Two days went by very quickly.

“So where were you when this all started?” The person asking the questions was Detective Senior Sergeant Collins of the Major Crimes Squad.

One of the uniformed officers had warned me that this bloke was important and he would ‘tear me a new one’ if I pissed him off.

I took the warning seriously.

I wasn’t here to piss anyone off.

I had a story to tell and my immediate future depended on me telling it well.

“I was heading for the postoffice when I heard the bangs.”

“How many bangs?”

“I didn’t count but there were several.”

“Several like three or several like ten?”

“Like ten, maybe more. The noise of the gunshots seemed to be coming from more than one direction. It was then that I dived behind a car.”

“What kind of car was it?”

“How the fuck should I know?” I instantly knew that I shouldn’t have said that. “It was dark blue, I remember that.”

Detective Senior Sergeant Collins was glaring at me but he relaxed quickly.

“Easy there sunshine; I’m just looking for all the details . It was a dark blue Mazda 6”

Holy shit.

He already knows which car.

That means someone was watching.

“Unfortunately you seem to be the only one who knows what happened next. Everyone else was behind or under something.”

I tried not to look pleased.

I told him my story and all of it was true until I got to the end.

In this version I went to see if the gunman was dead [my DNA might be on the kicked gun] and went back to the officer after the fleeing gunmen fired at me. When I got back to the wounded officer I picked up his gun; and I don’t know why I did that.

One of the few things that could trip me up would be finding the bullets that I fired at the getaway car but as it turned out the car got shot up in the siege, so chances were they would not bother identifying the bullets lodged in the car. Which was good news because my bullets would be lodged in that car; I’m a good shot, as it turns out.

If the wounded officer recovered he would, no doubt, remember what I did.

He did recover but it took several months and when he was finally interviewed he said he didn’t remember much after being shot.

I had no way of knowing if that was true or if he decided to go along with my story.

He was awarded the Medal of Valour and I slipped quietly back into obscurity.

On the anniversary of the robbery I received a package and a letter.

The letter was from Constable Stephen Walker. It was short and to the point.

“I owe you my life and I’m sorry that it took me this long to say thank you. I’m not sure what bravery means but if I did I would say that it applies to you. I get paid to risk my life; you were just passing by. I don’t know why you let them think that I made that shot and I don’t want to know; I guess you have your reasons. My rehab has been long and painful and I’ve had a lot of time to think and I want you to know that I can keep a secret. Every time I get to hug my kids I think of the bloke who took his life in his hands to save someone he didn’t even know. Please enjoy the contents of the package.”

He signed it.

The letter was written ‘long hand’ and the package contained a bottle of 28-year-old single malt, ‘Bowmore’.

It must have cost a fortune.

I’m glad he wrote to me and I’m glad I’ve never seen him face to face since that day, because I don’t think I could handle the look on his face when I told him that if it happened again, I doubt that I would come out from behind that dark blue Mazda 6. 

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