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FROM ARGOSY vol.30 no.12 DECEMBER 1969


     IF VARIETY of experience is rated highly among a writer’s qualifications, Jack Trevor Story gets top marks. Leaving school at 14, Mr. Story worked in such varied places as a coal office, a slaughterhouse, a radio factory. Finally he became an electronic instrument designer.

Since the age of 12 he had been writing fiction. With the appearance of his first published novel, The Trouble with Harry, in 1951, he took up writing as a profession. This book was made into a very successful Alfred Hitchcock film.

“In the 18 years since,” says Jack Trevor Story, “I feel I’ve wasted a lot of good time and good writing on screenplays and television series; but I’m now giving it all up to concentrate on novels, short stories and essays.”

Sea and Sad Voices  is one of two short stories he has written recently to see if he has “lost the knack”. His novels include the best-selling Live Now, Pay Later, and Dishonourable Member, published in August this year.


Everything is fated. We don’t write the book; we only turn the pages…

By Jack Trevor Story


    I DON’T KNOW if you know the pub at Gunnyhole.

    One night into the pub at Gunnyhole there came this fellow with dark sailor's clothes and a big moustache and a foreign look about him.

“That’ll be a Dutchman off the collier,” said Mrs. Addison.

    The while he was standing six feet away and didn’t say a word, so she could have been right; for he didn’t seem to know much of the language. Just enough to ask Jenny for a beer.

“There’s something funny about him,” said Mrs. Addison. Herself is six foot tall and had three husbands.

“Mr. O’Leary, can I have a word widger?” called Jenny. She reckoned this fellow was after a night’s lodging and he was.

I don’t know if you know the rooms at the pub at Gunnyhole. I put him in number three. It’s a nice big room looking out to sea but the floorboards creak like new shoes. He carried his own bag up though I would have done it.

“You’ll be taking his money in advance,” said Mrs. Addison.

She’d just pushed the dart in the double-top before I got back.

By seven, there was three locals in for the evening with their pint each. At half-past seven, there were three pretty young English girls and a young chap with a horse and caravan outside. They had a cider and a tomato juice and two halves and wanted to stay, but there’s nowhere to put a horse at Gunnyhole.

“I should think not!” said Mrs. Addison.

If I win I take her home, but if she wins she doesn’t go.

“They’re harmless enough, Mrs. Addison,” I told her.

I’m a man of the world meself and not easily shocked. I worked three years on the motor roads in England and you can’t do that without learning something—if it’s only tolerance. I come back with enough money to tenant the pub at Gunnyhole.

“Psst! Did you see that!” Mrs. Addison said.

I missed the double that would have finished it. This time however it was not a ruse. She had turned quite pale and excited, and was only not pointing because it was rude. The Dutch sailor, if that’s what he was, had come down and was getting some cigarettes from Jenny at the bar. There was something different about him, and what it was was his face. He had taken off his moustache.

“Holy Saints!” said Mrs. Addison.

The only thing holy about it was ‘the miracle of how he’d shaved with the amount of luke-warm water available at the pub at Gunnyhole.

“Phone the polis!” said Mrs. Addison.

What was in her mind, briefly, for her conversation is not worth recalling, was that the young feller was a criminal on the run. Booking into a lonely pub on the Cork coast with his seabag, then disguising himself (she called it).

“And now he’s going out!” said Mrs. Addison.

Jenny was directing him, her pretty hands going like a windmill so many were the places she could recommend.

“Now pop up and look into his bag, O’Leary,” said you-know-who.

I declined.

She was very upset about that, for the truth was she wanted a sight into where he’d been and what he’d been at, and all with a good laudable and legal reason behind it.

“You’ll be sorry when it comes out at the trial!” said she.

“Will you let me get me last double?” said I.

I don’t know if you know the difficulty of getting a last double.

Now it would never have got into court had it not been for that ten minutes after the young foreign feller had gone out two young coppers come in from out of a shiny new white Jaguar cop car.

“Now was I right!” said Mrs. Addison.

Instead of getting a double-one, I was getting double this and triple that and even bouncing them back off the motor tyre.

“Officers!” said Mrs. Addison calling their attention. “Are you looking for somebody?”

The young coppers laughed and said, oh, aye, they were always looking for somebody and tonight it was Jenny; and she blushing and giving them their Guinness.

“Are you looking for a young foreign fellow with a moustache and a seabag?” said Mrs. Addison.

The coppers said they were not.

However, such a question was bound to remain poised in the saloon bar, as it were, and while I got my last double the conversation between the two policemen and Jenny slowed down and stopped until they drifted over to the dartboard, where Mrs. Addison was waiting for them and waiting to be coaxed.

“Which fellow is this then?” said one of the young police­men.

“Which fellow is that?” said Mrs. Addison, who was now concentrating on the game for the first time tonight.

Mrs. Addison told them all she knew with a fine reluctance, and after a word with Jenny about the beauty spots she had mentioned the young coppers went hurrying out to look for the young fellow with the dark sailor’s clothes who had shaved off his moustache.                        

*    *    *

I don’t know if you know Gunnyhole Bay.

Where the young fellow was standing when the two police­men started running towards him and shouting at him in a language he didn’t understand, was where the only path drops down to the only beach, this being shut in from both sides by black rocks. It was not quite dark yet, and a lovely sunset was picking out the islands with red light and the sails of the one or two distant boats.

I wasn’t there and neither was Mrs. Addison for we were playing the second leg and waiting for the police to bring the foreigner back. What they did was, they came back alone and soaking wet to the skin.

“He took off his boots and jacket and ran slap dash into the ocean!” said one of the wet policemen.

    “Ah!” said Mrs. Addison.

They had his ‘boots and his jacket with them and were now searching through the pockets. They had swum after the young sailor as far as they dared, and given up and swum back. They had radio’d for help and even while I was conducting them to his room and watching them search his seabag, we could hear the Coastal Rescue helicopter flying near.

There was nothing in his bag but souvenirs and clothes and nothing to show who he was or where he’d come from; and, I daresay, if I was found drowned like he was the next day, there’d be nothing in my bag either—for I’m a wanderer now.

I don’t know if you know Mrs. Addison at Gunnyhole. “That’s ‘the polis for you!” she said, on the day of the funeral. “Chivvying a young feller to his death. They never let you alone!”

Well, it’s all fated. We don’t write the book, we only turn the pages.

But for that young fellow with dark sailor’s clothes and a big moustache and a foreign look about him I might have married her.   


Copyright ©  the estate of Jack Trevor Story 2002. Not for reproduction. Copyright in all work by Jack Trevor Story is the property of the author's heirs. Permission for use of this material can be obtained through Jackie Edwards (Story), Peter Story, Lee Story or Michael Moorcock. Reproduction of copyright material whether in text, visual or audio form by unauthorised sources strictly forbidden.

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