Almanac Fiction: Swifty Taylor and the Dead Coach (Episode 1)




It was late April, winter was approaching as quickly as a shot from a gun, and the tepid evening sunlight was fighting a losing battle with the old venetian blinds on the window. Speaking of battles, I eyed the old filing cabinet in the corner and wondered if it was me or the hidden bottle of Jameson that was in a winning position. At the present moment, I would have called it a stalemate.


Click-clacking down the path, the sound of footsteps from a pair of high heels shook me from my late afternoon torpor. I rose from my chair and reached the office door just as she rapped on it. When I opened the door I was surprised to see the figure of my old friend Laura May standing before me. She looked in rude health. In fact, she looked better than I remembered. And I remembered her regularly. “Well, hello, Laura. Long time, no see”. Yes, no see since she dumped me like a chain-smoker is rid of a used packet of Marlboro. I studied her face closely for any tell-tale signs of remorse or regret, but her face was as impassive as if it was a president on Mt Rushmore. It was clear that she was here on business.


“Good evening, Swifty”. Her manner was brusque, bordering on abrupt. As always, there was an underlying hint of contempt for me in the infuriating way that she lingered on her vowels. “I have come to seek your advice, and maybe even your help”. Well, this sure was a turn-up. When we were together, my advice was the last thing she would ever dream of heeding. Nonetheless, I was immediately intrigued. “Take a seat,” I said. Reluctantly, she sat on what I called the “visitors” chair – it was, like an opposition team’s change rooms, clean but careworn enough that she would not get too comfortable in it.


No sooner had I asked her to sit than she opened her purse, drew out an already damp handkerchief, and began dabbing at her eyes. “It’s about my brother Dean,” she blurted out in between the tears that were now falling. Ah yes, Dean May. He had been a good footballer in his time, mouthy, hard at it, but injuries had inevitably taken their toll in his late twenties, forcing him into retirement and a middling coaching career. And hadn’t I read a story in the recent past about him taking a long walk off a short pier? It had been ruled a suicide at the inquest. My mind stopped wandering so as to allow Laura to speak.


She told me a story about her brother taking a job with an outfit called the Pelicans, and of how the players would fix matches and clean up with the bookies when they were occasionally and inexplicably towelled up by inferior opposition. My first thought was that these big bookies got what they deserved by wasting their time taking bets on minor league matches. “But Dean didn’t want any part of it,” Laura said. “He was as straight as an arrow”. The Pelicans always had been a bunch of no-good ratbags, and I immediately wondered how a decent footy person like Dean May could get mixed up with them. Money spoke all languages, I guess. And maybe even the straightest of arrows was slightly off-kilter. “I’m sorry to ask this, Laura, but is all this what drove him to take his own life?”


Laura looked at me aghast. Then she slowly shook that pretty head of hers. “Swifty, I believe my brother was murdered! And I want you to find out who killed him!” I looked down at my shoes, suddenly aware that they could do with a lick of Nugget. “You’re saying that the police and the coroner all believe that Dean took his own life, but you think he was killed?” this time she nodded that pretty head of hers. “And I have a few ideas about who might have done it,” she answered, not for the first time having the last word.


She told me she would be in touch, then she stood, turned on her high heels, and walked out the door, leaving the faintest scent of perfume in her wake. I made for the window and peered out through the venetians into the dusk. I caught a glimpse of her turning the corner, and I wished to hell that I would never see her again. But I knew that she was at Winx-like odds to create upheaval in my life once again.


I opened the top drawer of my ancient filing cabinet and grasped at the bottle of Jameson. Sometimes one just had to surrender, end all resistance, and admit that the battle was lost.




You can read more from Smokie HERE



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About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. I’m a fan smokie. Swifty v pelicans . Where’s the book?

  2. roger lowrey says


    Following your recent confirmation in my previous comment on your start of the footy season article, I just new Swifty would be hanging around the royal and ancient Fearon Reserve somewhere.

    Obviously, Laura May must have been at the game too and spotted him in the shadows knowing her old flame would be just the investigator she required. What a marvellous networking experience is suburban footy.

    Can’t wait for further episodes.


  3. Peter Clark says

    “…the tepid evening sunlight was fighting a losing battle with the old venetian blinds …” sets the scene perfectly.
    I’m looking forward to more.

  4. Mark ‘Swish’ Schwerdt says

    Swifty Taylor and Taylor Swift with big news on the same day. Of course.

  5. Intriguing Smokie look forward to the next episode

  6. Thanks, all, for your comments – let’s see where this leads Swifty.

  7. I can almost smell the cigarette smoke, Smoke!

    It will follow this story I’m tipping!!


  8. Mickey Randall says

    Thanks Smokie. Really looking forward to this. Just as I can’t say ‘West Coast Eagles’ in my head and it not be in Dennis Cometti’s voice, I can’t read this and not hear a hard-boiled, world-weary narrator!

  9. matt watson says

    Setting the scene perfectly!
    It’s good to have him back!

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