G is for Gomford

G finished

Gomford is one of the longer short stories in my book Flight of Destiny.  Gomford is an ugly businessman, who arrives in a secluded village,  with a beautiful young girl on his arm.  This immediately causes the village to go into a hive of gossip and speculation.  The libidos of the men in the village are sent into overdrive, each desiring the young girl.  When Gomford  leaves for one of his regular business trips,  the men try to take advantage of his absence and  try to seduce the young girl, who is surprisingly willing, but at the same time far from being amorous.  She treats each with utter disdain, making each man feeling sexually inadequate, which causes the men to go into deep depression.  It is like the village is under the spell of this young beautiful woman,  which grabs the attention of a Reverend Salmon, who sets about to address this situation.  When he tries to perform a ritual on her doorstep, accompanied by the other villagers,  he falls foul to the young girl’s brusque tones  and is made to look a fool.  Despite being set in modern times,  the Reverend Salmon, chooses to use a method, long confined to the history books, namely dunking the young girl in the local river. The girl is abducted by the Reverend and a vigilante group.

Gomford is a story about somebody who is deeply wronged. Like in many of my stories,  Gomford in the end gets his revenge.

Gomford returned to the village with more than his customary ragged suitcase. Clutched firmly in-hand was the vision of an angel who went by the name of Clarissa Honeychild. A man with seemingly all the particularities of a businessman in his thirties, Gomford nonetheless cut an awkward figure. His face was perpetually bloated, and when he spoke, it was in sniffles and snorts. His eyes resembled those of a crocodile. His thick neck, likened by many to that of a tree trunk, gave him the illusion of massive strength, and left others feeling diminutive and anxious in his presence. Gomford, through no fault of his own, was shunned by his fellow villagers and ostracized by all.

Seemingly due to his looks, Gomford was condemned to a life of celibacy, and had shared his bed with only a handful of women, all of whom demanded pre-payment for services rendered. Some outright refused him, despite the fact that as a businessman he was extremely adept, over the years having amassed a considerable fortune, and always paid notoriously well for their services. The idea of this stumpyman smothering them, even for a sizable fee, filled most working girls with aversion. Even Glynnes Trout, the local prostitute responsible for introducing practically every male denizen to sex, an old pro inspired by abject greed and with a reputation of willingness to perform eve the most depraved of acts in any and all manner and with any and all manner of men, had disrespectfully declined Glomford, despite his waving at her a sizable wad of bank notes in each fist. The event, told, retold and by now highly embellished, became a favorite topic of social conversation in the local pub when conversation had run out.The fact that he had returned with a woman on his arm, and furthermore, a young woman of such incomparable beauty, sent the village into a frenzy of agitated speculation. When it was further revealed that he had married the woman, the whispering campaign hit an unprecedented high, drowning out every other possible topic.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.


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“Odd Child” a short story for Christmas, by Francis H Powell



The Queen had been surrounded by sweet angelic choirboys. The Pope had talked about peace in the Middle East, but had failed to say how he could actively bring this about. Presents meaningful or otherwise had been exchanged. Traditions had been observed. Religious ceremonies had taken place, incense, rituals, stern faces, pontificators, talking about a strange occurrence that had happened thousands of years ago, in a primitive land. There had been no world disasters, no earthquakes, no hurricanes, no tidal waves, not this year, just many untold stories of misery and loneliness, that had blighted the world as ever at Christmas time. Shop keepers had rubbed their hands in glee. Television companies had been bereft of ideas of how to entertain the people. The transport system had been bewildered, as to how to deal with a sudden snap of Siberian weather.

Somewhere in the middle of all this was Oddchild. Oddchild didn’t quite fit in amongst all of this. He was part of a sizable family. He had listened and observed all that had passed in front of him. He had been silent and pensive, alienated by it all, unobtrusive, but with moments tinged with oddness.

Lunch had not passed without incident. The family were stunned into a tight knotted silence as Oddchild, while a succulent force-fed turkey was being passed around, had nestled himself under the table, taking with him a bowl of nuts, which he gobbled, while the family mused at this sudden change in his behaviour. The sanctity of the lunch had been broken. There was little point in trying to reason with him, coax him out, and he was beyond the age of being castigated. His behaviour just had to be reconciled with. Aunt Austere had pondered and intrigued as to whether Oddchild had perhaps taken some kind of drugs, that had prompted such behaviour. As she has slapped some cranberry jelly on her plate, wedged between some sprouts, she sighed and arched a disapproving eyebrows upwards. Mother had demanded in a soothing motherly tone
“Would you like some wine dear.”

Oddchild had not answered, his mind was elsewhere. Father had looked silly in his paper crown, which had been extracted from a cracker, along with some heinously unfunny insipid jokes, that the family had cheerfully tittered at. Still Oddchild huddled under the table. Members of the family cleared away the remnants of an excessive meal, having stripped a sizable chunk from the turkey, which they would still be eating over the next few weeks, served up, in one form or another.

“Aren’t you hungry dear.” Demanded Mother with noticeable desperation, stacking some plates, still nonplussed at Oddchild’s Christmas dinner breach of etiquette. Still no response, so she shrugged and shifted a quick concerned glance in Father’s direction, while Aunt Austere reflected on Reverent Glib’s sermon, before switching the subject to the shooting season. Then an awkward outburst of coughing from Aunt Gimp had ruptured the conversation, sending Mother scurrying for a glass of water. Calm was finally restored, as Aunt Gimp finally managed to suppress the fit. Aunt Gimp’s mind was a deluge of stories concerning the war, in fact her mind had never really moved on since this period.

Finally Oddchild came out of his splendid isolation, removing himself from under the table. He held a gawky expression on his face, averting the gaze of the two aunts and the rest of the baffled family, who tried to hide their looks of surprise. He did not utter a word, he just slipped casually back into the throng. The family trooped into the living room to continue the next part of the proceedings, coffees and a viewing of the Queen’s annual speech to the nation. Aunt Austere had not liked her speech of the previous year. There had been too much attention spent on people with dark skins of different faiths, rather than the white Anglo Saxon majority. Dark skins seemed to disturb Aunt Austere greatly. She could not get her head around the idea that such people had been born and bred and raised in the same country as her and were more than fully integrated into society. It hadn’t been an “annus horribilis” this year for the Queen. One of her family’s favourite sports “fox hunting” had been banned, but this had not deterred the hunters, who either found loopholes in the law or simply broke it. Aunt Austere often sang the praises of a sport in which fifty or so dogs chase after a fox with the objective of tearing this beautiful animal to pieces, in the name of a “noble British tradition”. The Queen’s eldest son had married a woman who had he looks of some “dowdy weatherworn aunt” which had no doubt heaped a certain amount of embarrassment on her. However no palaces had been burnt down, there had not been too many notable scandals, “toe sucking incidents” “court cases involving forgotten conversations with servants” “Princess Diana revelations” “young drunken or drugged up royals on the front pages.”
With the TV switched off, lunch firmly lodged in the their stomachs, the question of how to occupy the hours of the day that remained, usually a sturdy walk was the answer. Oddchild unrepentantly led the way, with his sudden outburst. The logical progression being a huge inter-family argument.

“You are all mad, the whole lot of you.”
Two Aunts shot rapid shocked looks at one another, the rest of the family drew in sharp intakes of breath. A log fire crackled and hissed.
Aunt Austere took up the challenge.
“I think you were the one who spent the entire lunch hidden under the table, so if anyone’s mad, it’s you dear.” She had a vague contented smile emanated from her face.

Oddchild had to concede on this point, but he was referring more to their narrow perceptions of the world, he pressed his point.
“I’d rather be under the table than have to listen to some of your drivel and watch you gorge on bounteous amounts of food, while a third of the world is starving, while you sermonize about a world you have little understanding of.”

“We have lived through the war, my dear.” Said Aunt Gimp proudly, Father adjusted his paper crown, Mother stared into the fire. Aunt Austere’s eyes were flaring up, her mind was a storm. The turkey had long since gone cold and the atmosphere that prevailed was now equally frosty.
Mother thought she should try her hand at a little arbitration.
“Your Aunt’s did their bit for the war effort you know, dear.”
What spying for the Nazis.” Said Oddchild tossing his head back with mirth.

The tone of his voice and acerbic remark hadn’t gone down at all well. Father’s eyes bared down on him, Mother had lost her composure.
“I think you should apologise, said Mother, with her hands on her hips.
“Apologise for what.” Muttered Oddchild, reflecting on the rasp of his previous remark.
He turned to the two Aunts.
“It’s no wonder, neither of you got married, the pair of you will go to the grave crusty bitter virgins.”
Mother was the first to speak.
“Now you really have gone too far.” She said. Father paced up and down, he had taken off his paper crown by this point.
“I’ve never heard such a wicked remark.” Said Aunt Austere her face all creased up and severe.
“Turn your hearing aid up” muttered Oddchild sarcastically under his breath.
“What” barked Aunt Austere.
“Forget it.” Said Oddchild.
“Well I certainly won’t forget this Christmas” said Aunt Gimp mournfully.
And there it was just 364 days until the next torturous ritual of more of the same.


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Francis H Powell, author of Flight of Destiny, 22 quirky short stories…

I enjoyed these tales as they gave me a fantastic break from my daily routine and I enjoyed remembering them and day dreaming about them afterwards. They’re a little Ray Bradbury, a little Stephen King, but with Powell’s own unique twists. Very interesting read.

Meet the Residents of 22 (short stories by Francis H Powell )

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Meet some of the Residents of number (Flight of Destiny) 22… short stories.
full of Freaks, weirdos and tyrants.

Bugeyes (from the story Bugeyes)
Poor old Bugeyes, comes from a line of aristocrats with over-sized extended eyes. He is the victim of many an insult concerning those aforementioned eyes. He is rejected at birth by his Mother, and sent to live on the far-reaches of the family estate. His mother goes on to produce another two offspring, the first a male with acceptable sized eyes the other a sister, who like her oldest brother has large eyes and therefore suffers the same fate. Later curiosity drives Bugeyes to find out his true origin and by chance encounters his younger brother sibling. His younger brother is cruel and arrogant and is out to impress his friends, therefore sets the hunting dogs in hot pursuit of Bugeyes. Bugeyes does not speak much in this story, he may be silent but he smart and resourceful.
Little Mite. (from the story Little Mite)
Little Mite is quite simply the younger sister from Hell. All is wonderfully set up for a marriage, between her older sister and the love of her life Conner. What could go wrong? It is a great match for both families, The Johnsons have money, the Dashvilles, an old family on the wane, need an injection of money. The family are in the midst of a lunch, which has been organized to make the final arrangements of the wedding. Little Mite excuses herself and takes Connor’s sweet younger brother Jed (who is her age) on an adventure in which he is super glued to her father’s coffee table. She also tortures the unfortunate Jed, whipping his legs with stinging nettles. She returns to the dining table, claiming a terrible accident has taken place. The adults don’t believe her and the Johnson family, leave the Dashville family, in disgust and the wedding in tatters. Little Mite’s prank has gone terribly wrong. She tries to win back her parents favor. She hides in a cupboard and plans to jump out. However this leads to a disaster, as her older sister convinces her father, that they have an intruder and he grabs his shooting rifle.
Excellency (from the story Maggot).

Excellency is quite simply a slime ball. Nobody quite knows his origins, he has risen up from nowhere and now resides in a regal palace. The story begins with a banquet. An equally odious character named Maggot, is trying to sell Excellency his daughter, to try to alleviate some of the debts, his circus accumulated. Excellency after some nervous bargaining finally agrees to buy the daughter, before whisking her off to have his wicked way with her. Unfortunately for Excellency, all does not go to plan and with the aid of a magic incantation, Excellency is stricken with an inexplicable malaise, in which all he tastes, and sees seems, explicably ugly. He has been cursed by the young circus girl, and all those sent to his aid, believe he is on the fast route to insanity.
The Duke (from the story Duke)
The Duke is a fraud. He has been sent to prison and indeed sentences to death, for some unexplained reason and is arrogantly treating his impending death as if he is on a short pleasurable short holiday. He treats the Prison Governor with contempt. He demands to be treated like a Duke, but as the story progresses he is found out, and is fraudulently using the title. Equally he is a bad husband and a terrible father, who has already gambles away his son’s inheritance. There are those in the prison who admire his panache and rules are laxed, in his favor. Duke is likable, but equally highly detestable.

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