The Stories: Notes from the author


... 'The H-factor. Happiness, Jerry. Everybody wants it, everybody talks about it. ‘Oh, as long as you’re happy,’ they say. But when it comes right down to it, nobody gives a shit as long as you’ve got all the stuff.' ...

The original premise was a guy working 'on a grant' -- a make-work project -- who has to deal with a welfare mentality and a sense of entitlement minus any work ethic. No muse involved here, only a personal need to expose the poor attitudes and downright abuse of the system I witnessed first hand on one such project.
While that story bubbled on the back burner, I was making enquiries at government and other agencies about programs and resources for business start-up assistance. I wasn’t playing the system, but I could see how easy it would be to take advantage.
By the time I sat down to write the story, these two ideas had fused together. But the original version was superficial, and had an unsatisfactory ending. I would pull it out of the drawer once a year and mull it over, not seeing the core of the story. Until I began to develop Bernie.



... Groping inside her mailbox, Anita squints down the freshly ploughed road to the village centre. Winter, the ultimate negative space, defines everything by absence, by the way it cuts clear edges around the storefronts, trees, parked cars, telephone poles. A man who is not static but hunching into the wind ...

This story began with the title. I’ve studied and worked in design and layout, and welcomed an opportunity to use the visual arts in a story -- I absolutely love it when one discipline crosses over into another. The concept of negative space suggested a winter landscape, a sense of isolation. I put Anita in that cottage without knowing, as I began, what was missing from her life or why she was there. And when it turned out to be a child, I purposely steered clear of the emotional element. I thought that would speak for itself. I believe I know what happened to Martie. I make two allusions to possible suspects, but I purposely leave Anita with no answer.


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Last update OCT2014