October 31

 by Nick Marland


(Image credit: Steven Depolo. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License)

That annual time of mysteries and horror. How do we find ourselves here time and again? The railings of the houses are veiled with synthetic gossamers and plastic ghouls glower from the windows. Strings of plastic pumpkins bob on the breeze. The night of dread, clocks lurching toward midnight, doom impending and punishments stark. Shit, the clock. It’s an office clock. Is that deductible? Do I even still have the receipt?

Arrayed around me on the dining table, the chairs, the floor are forms and receipts scattered like bodies exhumed from assorted drawers and folders and hiding spaces where they were buried by a psychopath, forgotten when the time came for confessions. So first comes the gathering-together and the deductive reasoning: Why is a 2008 receipt in here? Why did I put a power bill in here? I can’t claim that. Piles of the chosen and the passed-over take shape, and even these categories are uncertain. The guilt accretes around each decision: can I deduct this? Should this be in a low-value pool? What exactly is a low-value pool? I wonder what I can get away with. I know of friends who have claimed deductions on fruit. Damn it all. It is all the stuff of nightmares, except that you wake up from nightmares without significant financial penalty.

. . .

To read the rest of He was close, you can buy a copy of The Grapple Annual No. 1.

Over the 2014 Halloween weekend, we shared Nick Marland’s October 31 and D A Shorr’s He was close in their entiretyKeep an eye out for more free pieces online as their date approaches.

Nick Marland is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in Going Down Swinging, Seizure, The Lifted Brow, The Sydney Morning Herald, the UTS Writers’ Anthology, and The Drum. He has been an illegal alien in Belarus and once tripped up Woody Allen while trying to shake his hand.


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Posted on October 31, 2014, in Short story, The Grapple Annual No. 1. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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