Catwalk Empire


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My heart sank, as it always did around great beauty. Chloe Hellmann was without doubt the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. For the last 15 years there would have been security guards preventing me from getting within 100 feet of her. Now she was sitting across from me in my new office. At this point I need to tell you I am not an attractive man: I am 50, balding and smell of divorce.


New Story – State Actors


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“Yes Senator, that’s correct. I am a director with the Department of Homeland Security.”

“Well you have to understand the backstory. Think back to 9/11. We were scrambling to get people doing something, anything. You also have to realise the enormous gap between perception and reality on this topic. The number one thing Americans fear is dying in a terrorist attack. And yet, the actual probability is like one in 20 million.”

“That’s right it’s tiny. That’s about the same probability as being killed by a vending machine, or IKEA furniture.”

read more…


Collected Stories – just the funny ones


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Collection Cover

A few friends have asked me for a collection of my short stories, so here are nine of my favorites:

20160709 Jeff at the kitchen table – collection

Swizzle and Spit
1:32 Scale
Champions of Breakfast
Our Lady of Five Fires
Catwalk Empire
Grenade Fishing in The Andaman
Nixon, Mao and the Harbin Globetrotters
Good Help
The Year of West Indian Lime



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Espresso Film Blue

It was love at first grind.

When rockstar coffee roaster and café owner Austin falls for new customer Marion, he must listen to his heart (and another major organ) or risk missing out on the unexpected love of his life.

Austin runs the finest café and roasting house in the toughest coffee town in the world – Melbourne. He’s a windswept and interesting sort with a tendency toward getting in his own way.

The object of his affection is the lovely Marion, a newly-minted associate professor at Melbourne University. She’s new to town, left someone behind and is still trying on her new life for size.

With the help of his straight-shooting head barista Jennifer and his chameleon-like cook Felix, Austin might just be able to act natural long enough to win Marion’s affection.

Espresso is a film about attraction between two self-made people. And the daily pleasure of superb coffee.


Skinny Serpico Doobie! Depth
Charge Latte! Hillbilly and a Why
Bother service up!

DING! As Austin passes her, she has his coffee ready.

And a Facemelter for the boss.

Austin, still sleepy, gives her a tiny wave.

Gimme a moment?

He takes the double ristretto to his perch at the end of the counter, inhales the aroma, and grows an inch taller with each sip.

Hmmm, a holy Facemelter,

Austin’s lights begin to twinkle. He clicks into gear for the day ahead.

Read the full script here: Espresso Script

New Story – The Year of West Indian Lime


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West Indian Lime

There was The Year of Nivea for Men, The Year of Joop and sadly, The Year of Blue Stratos (and I didn’t even own a hang glider). This last January I turned forty-five. For my previous three birthdays the twins walked to the local pharmacy and bought me some kind of fragrance gift pack. This year it was to be The Year of West Indian Lime.

“Bit of an old man’s fragrance?” said Suzanne (in jest, I hoped).

“Cheeky cow!” I replied in jest.

The two girls were piled on top of us in bed amid the torn wrapping paper.

“Ready for breakfast in bed Daddy-o?” asked Pip.


New Story – Good Help


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Good Help

“Kel, it’s your poster-boy Mohammed.”

This is Neil, the human resources manager – a competent smartass.

“Jesus,” I said.

“No, Mohammed,” replied Neil dryly.

“How did you get a job in HR with your complete lack of interest in people?” I asked.

He ignored the question. “What do you want to do?”

I looked at the time, 8:50 a.m. “I’ll meet you down there. Let Tori know I’m coming.”


“I’m going to have to notify WorkSafe – plant overturning.”

This is Tori, the newly-minted safety adviser still finding her voice – a Cook Islander who looked out of place in the freezer. I looked at the forklift truck. It was cantered over on two wheels.


Swizzle and Spit


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Nobody feels sorry for a dentist in pain. But I’ll tell you my story anyway. As part of his mid-life crisis, my partner in the clinic ran off with the Oral-B sales executive who looked a little like Scarlett Johansson. Even if she’d looked a lot like Scarlett Johansson, it was so out of character that it left me thinking you can never really know another person. His departure also left me with an unfinished $650k extension to the dental clinic to finance – money I didn’t have. Don’t get me wrong, otherwise I’m doing okay. I still have all my teeth, I’m still married to my first wife and we live on the river in St Lucia. Our three kids all have braces and attend the Brisbane Girls Grammar. You know, we own a Dyson.


New Story – Our Lady of Five Fires


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He loved them all: Esmeralda from Panama, Medellin from Colombia, Merthi from India and Oaxaca from Mexico. He loved their individuality, their essence. He coaxed them into releasing their secrets, with fire. Even today their earthy aromas brought powerful memories – the tang of anticipation – the first taste – the intoxicating rush – the feeling of being alive. And then there were his women: ill-considered, incandescent, disastrous.

His passport was that of a journalist or secret agent: Rwanda, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Uganda. His quarry: single origin green coffee beans. He stuck out like a sore thumb wherever he went – all 6 feet of His Royal Goofyness. If you watched him in some third-world market you’d pray to yourself, ‘Jesus, I hope he doesn’t start flashing money about’. And then you’d see him start flashing money about. You’d wonder how he survived, let alone ran a successful business. He was a man of contradictions, no doubt. He was Austin Vawdrey, master coffee roaster, and proprietor of Five Fires café, Melbourne.


New Story – 1:32 Scale


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The first sign of trouble was when the Six Million Dollar Man appeared in Jason’s cubicle at work.

“Is that the one with the bionic eye?”

This is Phil, Jason’s best friend. Phil is still married.

“Yeah,” said Jason.

Phil looked around. “Tell me bud, what the hell are you going to do with a Six Million Dollar Man doll? At work?”

Phil had a point; Jason was 41.

“I don’t know. Mum had a clean out and sent me a box of stuff,” replied Jason.

“What are you, twelve?”

“Let me show you something else that was in the box,” said Jason. He produced a 1980’s Scalextric toy catalogue.

“I remember this stuff. Slot cars right?” asked Phil.

“Yeah, but look at the pictures. Look at these kids. Look how happy they are. I never had any of this stuff.”

“You realise that child is an actor? And this document is produced by the kind of people who work in our marketing department, right? You’ve met them, they make people want insurance.”

“I know, but,” said Jason.

“I mean look at this,” Phil indicated a page in the catalogue where a nuclear family was racing on an enormous slot car track, “nobody’s mum ever played slot cars with her kids.”

“Don’t you ever think about childhood?” asked Jason.

“I have three kids under 10,” replied Phil, “I’m consumed by childhood.”

“I mean your childhood.”

“It was the ‘70s, I’m not sure my parents put much thought into it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well they were drinking a lot of cask-wine as I recall. For example, my mum used to let me ride in the parcel shelf of her Volkswagen. Forget airbags, there weren’t even seatbelts in that heap of shit.”


New Story – Champions of Breakfast


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Champions of Breakfast

The lights came up. The producer counted them down.

“We’re on in five, four, three…” He counted the last two silently with his fingers and then threw to Bud Carryman.

“Hi there food fans, welcome to round five of World Series Buffet, coming to you from the Cancun Grande Hotel in sunny Mexico. This is Montezuma’s Revenge round and players will be looking to spice things up when they hit the breakfast buffet this morning.”

Bud Carryman was a sports journalism major and former offensive tackle from Texas A&M University. He was a large man from a world of large men, and was now tightly packed into a suit and tie. He was holding a Cable Sports Network microphone and standing next to an attractive though waif-thin woman. Both of them were wearing sports-caster headphones.

“With me as always is three hat executive chef Nadia Provolone. Good morning Nadia.”

“Thanks Bud. That’s right, for the first time the World Series Buffet heads south of the border.”