This is a selection taken from the stories I wrote between 2003 and 2011. Nearly all of them have been previously published, many in publications no longer extant. Where they are still available in existing books or magazines, sufficient time has elapsed to permit their re-publication without fear of ethical impropriety or breach of contractual terms. Check the Blog Archive at the bottom of the page for individual titles.

Please be aware that each story was written by the person I was at the time. In a sense, therefore, each one was written by somebody different. None of them was written by the person I am now.

Anybody wanting to view my novel Odyssey can do so here. I’ve set the price very low because I’m more interested in the story being read than in making money out of it. It’s about a goddess and her rabbit companion taking a mortal man on a journey to teach him a few lessons about the nature of reality and higher consciousness, and it's probably more entertaining than I make it sound. I never was any good at selling myself. The Gift Horse, a story of reincarnation and karmic balancing, is also now available at the same place.

August 09, 2010

McCafferty Wants a Horse.

This was written in homage to to the redoubtable Kaetlyn McCafferty whose blogs during her visit to Ireland, land of her ancestors, gave me so much pleasure early in 2010. It's never been published and isn't likely to be. That's why I'm including it here.

Reading time: Short


“So, McCafferty wants a horse, is it?”

“It is, father.”

“And you’re askin’ me to buy her one?”

“I am, yeah.”

Callum O’Flaherty was standing with the awkwardness of an unworthy supplicant on the hearth rug, his head slightly bowed and his hat clutched tightly between his hands. He appeared to be wringing it to some purpose, even though the weather outside the tidy little bungalow was dry, if cold. It was eleven o’clock at night, and he had just returned home in an anxious frame of mind. His two black, bushy eyebrows that were wont to meet cordially above his nose even when the sun shone, now forced themselves even more intimately together under a furrowed brow. His father, Kevin, was engaged in the nightly ritual of drinking a cup of cocoa, preparatory to retiring at 11.15 on the dot. His mother, Noreen, was knitting a scarf.

“So who, or what, is this McCafferty that so wants a horse?”

“She’s me girlfriend, father.”

“Ya have a girlfriend, do ya?”

“I do, yes.”

“And why haven’t ya told us about her before, lad? This is fine news to yer mother an’ me.”

“I dunno, father. I haven’t known her all that long, ya see.”

Kevin took another sip of his cocoa, and inclined his head slightly, regarding his son with a quizzical, but knowing, expression.”

“And where does mistress McCafferty live? Ya know that, I suppose?”

“I don’t father, no.”

“Ya don’t know where yer girlfriend lives?”


“So where d’ya meet her?”

“On the strand, father.”

“And where d’ya go with her?”

“Nowhere. We just stay on the strand and talk.”

“Talk is it? I see. And what d’ya find to talk about during these nightly assignations?

“Oh, lots o’ things. I tell her all about workin’ in Donovan’s brickyard, and she tells me about the things she sees at the bottom o’ the sea.”

“Is she one o’ them Cuba divers’ then?” interposed Callum’s mother.

“I think she must be, yeah.”

Kevin cast an impatient frown at his wife.

“Would ya mind not interrupt’n Noreen; isn’t it my pocket the boy is tryin’ ta rifle? Now come on, Callum, ya must have asked her where she lives?”

“I did, father, right enough.”

“And what did she say?”

“She didn’t tell me; leastways, not in so many words like. She swung her arm round and said ‘over there.’”

“And which way was she pointin’?”

“I dunno, father. I don’t remember.”

Mr O’Flaherty shook his head and took a long sip of his cocoa while he considered the sheer oddness of what he was being asked to consider. Callum gave his hat a short respite while he scratched his groin. Mrs O’Flaherty indulged a slight smirk behind the protection of her knitting. Her husband continued.

“Now ya see, Callum, what I don’t understand is this. Why would ya think that I might be prepared to undertake such a heavy financial transaction on the whim of a young lady of such short acquaintance?  Is there, perhaps, some particular reason why the gett’n of a horse for Miss McCafferty should be so important to you?”

“There is, so.”

“And what is that, now?”

“She said she’ll only marry me if I get her a horse, father.”

Mr O’Flaherty stared open-mouthed, his cocoa mug poised at an angle that would have caused him some inconvenience, had it not been nearly empty. Mrs O’Flaherty took one hand from her knitting and crossed herself.

“Married, is it?” said Kevin after a short pause. “Ya know, Callum, ya haven’t actually had a girlfriend before, have ya? It’s customary in these matters to engage in a certain length of courtship before ya launch yerself into the big leap. It takes a while to get to know whether ya might be suited.”

Mrs O’Flaherty had recovered from the shock remarkably quickly, and was engaged in casting surreptitious warning glances at her husband, along with a shaking of her head that was as minimal as she could manage. Callum evidently hadn’t noticed, for he continued.

“I know that, father, yeah; but I love her, ya see. And she says she loves me. And if it’s the cost of the horse that’s frett’n ya, ya needn’t worry; she’d only want a small one.”

“And why is that, now?”

“Because she isn’t very big herself.”

Kevin cocked his head quizzically.

“What d’ya call not very big.”

“Oh, er, about that big, father.”

Callum held one hand out to his side, about on a level with his hip.

“Mother o’ God!” cried Mrs O’Flaherty, dropping the scarf and clasping the sides of her face. “We’ve gone and reared one o’ them paediatrics.”

Kevin stared open-mouthed for some time, while Callum shuffled uneasily in the heavy atmosphere of a pregnant pause. But then a note of suspicion gleamed in his father’s eye.

“Tell me Callum, what does Miss McCafferty wear during these meetin’s ya have with her on the strand?”

“Sometimes nut’n, father; and sometimes a long white robe.”

“And what colour hair does she have”

“Green, father.”

“Green is it? I thought so; now I get it. Callum, would you excuse us for a while?”

Callum stood uncertainly for a few seconds, looking at each parent in turn for an explanation. They stared back blankly.

“I dunno, father. I don’t know what ya’ve done.”

“No, no, I mean: would ya leave the room for a moment, so yer mother and I can have a little chat?”

“Oh, right ya’are , so. I’ll wait outside the door then, will I?”

“Yes, Callum.”

Callum left the room, while Mr and Mrs O’Flaherty stole glances at one another. Once the coast was clear, Kevin leaned towards his wife.

“What d’ya think, Noreen?”

“Well now,” she replied, clearly wracked with a combination of indecision and excitement, “I hope the Holy Mother will forgive me sayin’ this, but Callum did turn forty last birthday. The first twenty five were all right, but the last fifteen have been, well, a bit of a strain. And he wouldn’t come to any harm, would he? I’m sure yer woman – if woman ya can call her – will have the magic to keep him safe down among the fishes. Isn’t that right?”

“’Tis so. She wouldn’t be lett’n him drown now, would she? There wouldn’t be any point, I suppose?”

“That’s what I was thinkin’.”

“Right y’are, then. I’ll go and see O’Riordan tomorrow, see what sort o’ nags he’s got. Ya realise, though, we’ll not be getting’ any grandchildren.”

“Why not?”

“Well, if she’s that small, there’d be a – how can I put it – a bit of a practical problem.”

“Not at all,” said Noreen scathingly. “I saw a statue of one o’ them Merrow in a shop once, in Donegal. What that creature was doin’ with her lady’s particulars, I wouldn’t want to describe - not even to you. Let’s just say, I think she’d be adaptable.”

“Is that so?”

“It is.”

“Oh, right. In that case I’d better go and see the Kelly’s an’ all.”

“The fishermen?”

“The fishermen, yeah. I’ll need to find a way of gettin’ ’em to stop fishin’ in the bay. Ya wouldn’t want to be runnin’ the risk of aytin’ yer own grandchildren, now, would ya?”


KMcCafferty said...

Fair play a chara! And how did you know I love horses so much? They're my absolute favourite animal, and I have indeed always wanted one (I actually told Joe he could never marry me until he bought me a horse...I was kidding, of course, but still!)

KMcCafferty said...

Also, not sure if you knew this or not, but the name McCafferty/Cafferkey is Eachmharcaigh in Irish, and means literally "Rider of Horses"

JJ Beazley said...

No psychic faculties at work, I'm afraid. You'd already told me of your fondness for horses and the meaning of McCafferty. That's where the title came from. The rest followed out of my silly imagination.

I googled 'fair play a chara.' I saw it used a lot, but there was no explanation of its meaning or origin. I think I get the drift though. Thanks.

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I've never had money because I've never been driven by money. I received little formal education beyond the age of sixteen, which isn't such a bad thing since you get a different angle on life that way. Learning what you want and need to learn often reveals things that the system's road keeps hidden.
JJ Beazley asserts his ownership of copyright in all works of fiction and non-fiction contained herein unless otherwise stated. Feel free to quote anything if you want to, but please don't nick a story and claim it for your own. That would compromise my chances of getting an anthology published and I'd be a bit miffed.