Tales From The Ridge

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


"Go on, clear your stuff out," a gruff voice demanded, "We need this space for advertising."
"But I live here," said the truth shark.
"Not any more you don't. We're installing an advert for cheaper car insurance on this site."
The door rattled in its frame as the man left.

The back door opened into a dimly lit corridor. The truth shark had never been out this way before, so it was with some trepidation that he picked his way downwards. Stale air blew hot upon his face, the dry exhalations of the earth itself. Eventually he came to another door, an enormous iron portal flecked with blooms of rust, and, with nowhere else to go, he leaned heavily upon its gargantuan handle. It eased open with surprisingly little effort to reveal a vast cavern filled with thousands upon thousands of wretched forms just like him, bundled in ragged groups and huddled around meagre fires. They chattered like insects as they noticed him in the doorway. He took a step forward, and the chime of the heavy metal door closing behind him sang out disconcertingly across the cavern. Several of the tattered forms staggered menacingly towards him, gibbering about politics and literature and religion, but suddenly he felt a reassuring arm on his.

"Don't mind them," she said. She was dressed gaudily in bright colours, a startling contrast to the dim of this subterranean chamber, "I'm Kerry. You're new here, right?"

"Yeah, I just got here...who are all these..."
"They're not all cranky like that. Most of them are just like you and me. Let me guess - you're a scientist, right? Am I right? I never could get science. I used to tell people about what my owner was doing every day; I used to tell stories, show them pictures, let them know what music she was listening to...but then people stopped listening, and my owner stopped taking care of me until eventually she just gave up on me and kicked me out. Like you."
"How did you know that?"
"We're all the same down here. We're all orphans."
"Down here? Where am I, what is this place?"
"This place? This is where we go when no-one listens to us any more. This is where blogs come to die."

If you have time please visit the links on my blogroll...don't let them suffer the same fate as poor Truth Shark.

Monday, February 21, 2005


I'd not had doubts before. Not until now. For weeks and months I'd planned meticulously, unwavering in my dedication, my wholeness of purpose, and I'd been absolutely sure of myself. As they drenched me in insults I became more and more determined. As the fists fell upon me like rain I grew more convinced of my path. As my friends told me not to be so selfish when my face was crowded by sneers and taunts my resolve only hardened.

Only now, remembering my baby brother's smile as I held him in my arms - as the trigger slots into place, as the hammer falls, as the icy steel of the barrel brushes against my temple - only now, in an oasis of silence, do I wonder whether I'm doing the right thing.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Traitor's Pay

Hot air hung like the dead man suspended from the driftwood gallows at the lip of the beach. A wind two days out of hell stirred up the heat and tugged at the strand of kelp that trailed from his foot like bunting, and the bleached, barnacled gibbet creaked languorously. The dead man turned on his rope to gaze on the sea once more with yearning, lifeless eyes.

A squat black ship slouched towards the horizon, carrying away with it his erstwhile companions. Burnt angrily onto his salty, blistered palm was the imprint of the coin that he had accepted from the Dutch, heated in a brazier and pressed into his hand by a captain who smiled at him like a crocodile as they trudged up the pink sand of the beach, the noose scratching at the sunburn on his neck with every step. A reminder to follow him to the afterlife, a cruel taunt as he stood on the banks of the Styx unable to pay Charon his levy. His traitor's pay.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Leagues Under The Sea x 2

Ecks has now written 40,000 words of his new novel. Slow going, but then it is only written during lunch hours when he is at work. Productivity should increase in early March when he gets a laptop, though. Below is another excerpt, linked to the previous one...

Il Mafioso Arrabbiato

Umberto Cappello is doing what? No, I don’t believe it. No-one can be that arrogant. Or that stupid. Now leave me to finish my breakfast.

You’re still here. Why are you still here? Yes, I heard you, but you can’t possibly expect me to believe it. Gennaro, tell him it is not true. Tell him, and then take him away and have him shot for ruining my breakfast. Why are you just standing there? Don’t just stand there, Gennaro, do it! It’s not…it’s not true, is it? Is this true, Gennaro, this unsettling story that he is telling me? It is? Well, that has definitely ruined my breakfast. These eggs were perfect, but now they are shitty. You, come over here and clear these shitty eggs away before I…no, no, just clear them away. Now, Gennaro, come here and sit down and tell me exactly what this little bastard Umberto Cappello is doing setting up some kind of operation on my territory. What is it he’s running? Heroin? Well, I have the grace to admit it’s a good idea he’s come up with. No-one would think of looking for Turkish heroin in barrels of monastic beer…but he has been fantastically, monumentally stupid if he thinks I am just going to sit by on my arse and watch him bring in the cream from my monastery. You do see how it is my monastery, don’t you Gennaro? Yes, quite. Thank you, I thought so.

He must be soft in the head. To think that he could get away with it, such a thing on my own land! Who does he think he is, that son of a pox-ridden filthy scabrous whore’s dog, coming around here and pissing on my doorstep in this manner? Oh, if only he knew the pain he was causing me, and me with my delicate constitution. You know, Mamma always said I should have been an artist.

His brother, though, his brother Santino is one of the old guard, a true gentleman. He has been nothing but honourable in all the time that I’ve known him. But this whoreson is trying my patience. Am I not renowned for my patience? Yes, Gennaro, I know I am. It was a rhetorical question. Rhetorical. Look it up. I don’t know, a dictionary. I don’t…listen, forget about it, you idiot, that’s not the point. The point is…oh, now you’ve made me forget what I was going to say. Carlo? Carlo! Come here. Take Gennaro away, explain to him the meaning of the word rhetorical, and then have him shot for making me forget what I…no, I remember now. I was going to…what are you doing? No, leave him there, Carlo. Yes, I know what I said, but I’ve changed my mind.

Now, where was I? Gennaro, I need you to organise a little something for me. We need to get over to this monastery…what was the name of it, the monastery? San Pietro di Montechiaro? We need to get over there and get rid of this little pig Umberto. As soon as possible. What? No, guns. Guns! Get me as many guns as you can find, and as many of my men as can hold them. You’ll have to go with them, of course, you know how I hate the sight of blood. A fucking monastery! Heretical whelp, I’ll have him so full of lead that they’ll need a dozen men to carry his coffin. Him and everyone else there. I know, I know, it is a shame, I don’t like to kill men of the cloth. But they will be in his pocket, no doubt, paid off with…with whatever it is that monks want. Nuns, probably. No matter, kill them all. No lackeys, no accomplices, no witnesses. I shall just have to say some Hail Marys tonight.

Just make sure. Make sure that you leave no-one alive.

Friday, February 11, 2005


Long time ago, 'fore you was even borned, I knew a man kinda liked walkin'. He walked up mount'ns an' down valleys an' up streets an' 'cross bridges, fo' days an' days an' days at a time, all 'cause o' his love for walkin'. Anyhow, one day as he walkin' 'long a road 'longsides o' the ocean, he happen 'cross a skull by the side o' the road, a human skull, bleached white by the sun an' gleamin' like it been polished by angels. Well, the man picked up the skull an' looked into them holler, empty eyes an' he felt mighty sad, and he said as much.

"It seems such a shame," he said, "To be dead."

"How would you know?" said the skull.

Story goes the man didn't do so much walkin' after that.

If you haven't already seen it, go and read The Closet by Easywriter.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Simile Dickinson

Ecks was helping his neighbour, retired lepidopterist Bombay Louis Harcourt, to haul his freshly sedated pygmy hippopotamus into the back of the borrowed hearse for transportation to the vet, when Bombay Louis commented that the animal was as heavy as Led Zeppelin wearing lead boots on Boxing Day. This prompted Ecks to wonder what his favourite similes were; he came up with the following:

As ugly as a box of frogs
As low as a snake's belly in a wagon rut
A face like a bag of spanners

A meagre list. Can you add to it?

Fahrenheit 98.6

Ecks has just added Haloscan commenting and trackback to his blog, and in one stroke all previous comments have been summarily erased. Apparently 98.6º Fahrenheit, the temperature of the tip of a finger as it clicks on a mouse, is the temperature at which comments burn.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Massacre at San Pietro di Montechiaro (I)

What follows is the opening chapter of Ecks Ridgehead's new book (as yet untitled, and very much a work in progress) - any and all comments would be greatly appreciated. Specifically - does it make the reader want to continue reading?

The Massacre at San Pietro di Montechiaro (I)

It wasn’t until a long time after the dust had settled and the blood had dried dark on the ground that the journalists came to the monastery at San Pietro di Montechiaro. The first ones that trickled in came from the local newspapers, but then, as the story grew in notoriety and spread like the blood that seeped into the coarse monastic robes, reporters began to arrive from Naples, Rome, Florence and Milan.

They peered into the church and whistled and shook their heads in disbelief as they took in the scene of blood-soaked stones and twisted, broken bodies. They dubbed it the “San Pietro Massacre”, which I suppose was true enough, but when they came to write their stories the truth became a rather more elusive bird. Armed with every reporter’s love of the sensational and only the most meagre of undeniable facts, their pens raced across their notebooks.

“Escaped madman driven wild by full moon,” wrote one. “Misguided assassination attempt tears peaceful monastery to pieces,” wrote another. “Secretive extremist death cult with intense hatred of Catholicism,” wrote yet another. One reporter even went so far as to insist that the monks were loathsome sodomites and that the Angel of Death had descended upon them as punishment.

No matter how they wracked their brains and squeezed out the last drops from their imaginations, though, none of them got the account of events exactly right. As their cameras flashed and popped and they scrawled hyperbole into their notebooks, some of them got a little of it right and some got a little more of it right. But most of them got it nearly all wrong.

I know exactly how it happened, though. Because I was there.

[Edited: with thanks to JD Riso for her suggestions]

Become an "idiom-savant": Expressions & Sayings

Monday, February 07, 2005


The fog that lurked in the hollows all morning has been chased away by the sun. Now the air is sharp and cold, and it strokes its chilly fingers along the roof of the mouth as it slips over the tongue.

Read Dave Clapper's topical

Friday, February 04, 2005

Fifteen Minutes

"I'm going to be famous."

His words were coming back to me now, drifting back to me on the breeze from a forgotten past.

"I'm going to be on TV, in the newspapers, everywhere. You'll see."

I still couldn't quite believe that he'd done it, that I was actually looking at his face on TV like he'd said. In hindsight I suppose it was obvious, but then so many things are when you have the luxury of being able to look back knowing all that has happened since.

"Anyone can be famous, it's not hard if you plan it out right."

I hadn't spoken to him for a long time, I hadn't even seen him. I suppose he must have been busy laying the groundwork, saving up some money to buy the plane ticket, things like that. It was obvious that he had gone to a lot of trouble to get to where he was today. He'd think it was worth it, though; everyone was talking about him. He certainly was famous.

"All you need is determination."

Some people are just different to others. They see themselves as special, they think that they should be treated differently, and eventually that attitude consumes them, pushing and driving them so relentlessly onward that they actually do become different to everyone else. He just had that kind of feeling, I suppose. I doubt I'll ever understand. I doubt the parents of all those poor kids will understand either.

"And a gun."

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

El Traficante

Excerpt from "The Servants Of Gods", Ecks Ridgehead's as yet unpublished first novel

Don Apolinar Moscote was a very round man. A lifetime of privilege had bloated him and left him rotund in every way, from his pudgy sausage fingers to his great stretched belly. The roundness of his head was accentuated by the large central bald spot in his curly black hair, which made the top of his head look like a smooth pink bird’s egg poking out of a tangled nest of black twigs. His greasy lips were fat and dark, topped by a lank, drooping moustache parenthesised by puffy red cheeks, the mark of his lack of physical exercise. He wore loose, billowing shirts that he left untucked at the waist, and they hung down from his stomach inches out in front of his creased baggy trousers. An improbably delicate and feminine gold chain hung down from between one of the rolls of fat around his neck, a tiny crucifix tangling itself in the tufts of hair that sprouted up from his dry, sagging chest.

He lived in a beautiful, sprawling estate some way outside of the town. It was a glittering white diamond set into the luxuriant emerald of the cloud forest, framed by shady palms and speckled with rashes of fat, multicoloured flowers. The central villa, the residence of the Moscote family for centuries, was surrounded by smaller white satellites, each housing a different aspect of the Moscote family business. A trail of smoke snaked up from a long, narrow building that served as a canteen that fed the small army of workers and guards. Don Moscote’s men flitted constantly in and out of these buildings like bees around a hive.

Over on one side of the compound were a number of empty cages, the bones of the old menagerie hidden under moss and grime. During the middle years of the 19th Century, the Moscote family had constructed a menagerie and stocked it with animals from around the globe. The patriarch, Julio Octavio Moscote, had had a great passion for animals, and had wished to recreate on the island a kind of living natural museum to celebrate the diversity of natural life on the planet. This undertaking was at no small cost to himself, but money was of no import to him, as centuries of prosperous trading had left the Moscote family very wealthy. He imported birds of paradise from Papua New Guinea, monkeys from the Ivory Coast and great black pigs from Indochina. He imported koalas from Australia, giant tortoises from the Galápagos Islands and cantankerous llamas from the Andes. After painstaking experimentation he built a collection of songbirds from around the globe that each sang on the hour at different times of day, and then spent two weeks learning the particular song sung by each individual species so that this aviary could act as his own personal clock. His offspring, however, were less than enthusiastic towards animals, and allowed the private zoo to fall into disrepair until only old Gabito the llama remained, and when he finally died in 1880, his eyes dim and his mouth too cracked and dry to spit, the menagerie closed forever.