Friday 17 November 2023

Bruce Harris, "Roxanne Riding Hood and Other Dubious Tales"


Bruce Harris is a Devon-based author and poet who has been consistently successful in short fiction and poetry competitions since 2003. Bruce has published four novels, Howell Grange, Gemini Day, The Densham Do and Diamond Val; five collections of short fiction, First Flame, Odds Against, The Guy Thing, and Fallen Eagles, and three poetry collections, Raised Voices, Kaleidoscope and The Huntington Hydra. As a result of his partner’s illness, the takings from five of these books were dedicated to the Huntington’s Disease Association and one to the Huntington’s Disease Youth Organisation. See further details on his website here.   


About Roxanne Riding Hood and Other Dubious Tales

Roxanne Riding Hood is a collection of prize-winning stories that celebrate life's absurdities and contradictions. 

This collection of short stories explores a range of complex characters navigating their way through life, including drag queen Roxanne, who is drafted in by the police to help prevent local sex workers from being assaulted; 'cleaning lady' Doreen, who uses company gossip to swindle money out of her bosses; pizza delivery driver Mark, aiming to benefit from the sexual appetites of his wealthier clients; newly qualified pharmacist Anne, trying to battle her way through the tedium of speed dating, and many more.

With narratives ranging from the familiar to the downright bizarre, these stories aim to delight and intrigue, acting as a reminder that most seemingly mundane experiences are anything but.

Below, you can read an excerpt from the title story. 

From Roxanne Riding Hood and Other Dubious Tales, by Bruce Harris

I went towards the stage door, a shorter way than the front entrance, and I could hear some kind of trouble going on. Life around the club can get a bit lively at the weekend, with kids off their face on booze and/or whatever else is their fancy. 

Stage door to main street is seventy or so yards of wide alley which normally takes me about twenty seconds, once I’ve got the sensible shoes back on. I’d only gone halfway along this night when two youths, both about nineteen, by the look of them, suddenly appeared in front and beside me. 

‘I’ve seen his picture without his slap on. God, it’s Poxy Roxy, the drag act.’ 

He seemed to be addressing his mate as 'God,' though settling for a deity with bad breath and jeans which look like they’ve been shat in seems to me to sell yourself short. 

His malodorous god then says, ‘How would you like us to kick the shit out of you, Roxy, you sad old queer?’ 

I took the question to be rhetorical, because action followed immediately, his mate with an arm around my neck, him fixing to punch me in the guts. 

Maybe they were just being playful, and since I knew the police hovered around the club on weekend nights, I wasn’t too bothered, and I was even less so when a policeman appeared at the end of the alley. All the same, they were being very rude and unpleasant. Boys being boys is all very well, but I’ve had this stuff since schooldays and know something about taking care of myself. I’ve also taken self-defence classes with a gym instructor called Kevin. Both the classes and Kevin turned out to be worthwhile investments. 

‘We need to achieve mastery of a series of difficult positions,’ said Kevin, and I thought how absolutely I agreed with him ...

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