Tall And True Short Reads
Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part Two
Episode 32 (23 August 2021)
Bad News – Part Two (England, 1993): I woke in the middle of the night with a full bladder from the beers and more than a little aroused from a dream I’d just had. As I sat in the bathroom, waiting to pee, the dream replayed in my head. I was glad my wife was asleep. She’s a mind reader, and I’d be dead if she knew what I’d been dreaming.
Both Sides of the Story – Bad News – Part Two
Season One: Episode 32 (23 August 2021)
Both Sides of the Story is a collection of short stories from the Tall And True writers’ website, written and narrated by Robert Fairhead. The collection consists of four self-contained vignettes and a fifth piece that ties together and resolves the five stories. The podcast version is presented in six instalments with an introductory episode.
Copyright notice: Both Sides of the Story song written by Phil Collins from the Both Sides album (1993).
Read Both Sides of the Story – Bad News: https://www.tallandtrue.com.au/short-stories/both-sides-of-the-story-bad-news
Podcast website: https://www.tallandtrueshortreads.com
Support the podcast: https://supporter.acast.com/tall-and-true-short-reads
Buy Robert’s short story collections online:
- Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/Robert-Fairhead/e/B086HZ36NM
- Rakuten Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/au/en/author/robert-fairhead
In 1994 I needed an idea for a short story for the annual Ian St James Awards. The news back then was full of items about “bad people” for whom the public (including me) felt little sympathy. Then one day, I saw Phil Collins’s hit song, Both Sides of the Story, on MTV. And the music video’s scenes of violence juxtaposed with backstories set me thinking: could I show both sides of the news in a short story?
I wrote Both Sides of the Story as four self-contained vignettes (or “news items”) and a fifth piece that ties together and resolves the larger story. Bad News is that final piece, presented in two parts for the podcast.
In Bad News – Part Two, our narrator wakes in the middle of the night with a full bladder from the beers consumed watching TV. And feeling a “little aroused” from the dream of a “stimulating conversation” he’d had while away at a conference many years ago.
Despite having done “nothing wrong”, our narrator felt “wracked with guilt” when he returned home, convinced his wife wouldn’t view the liaison as an “innocent all-nighter”. So he keeps it a secret but occasionally dreams about it and feels like a “guilty adulterer” afterwards.
Looking at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, our narrator recalls the evening news. He’d commented to his wife, “It was full of bad people who got what they deserved and their victims.” But how different is he from the Westminster politician, Baxter, who’d resigned over an affair?
And if our narrator can sympathise with Baxter, what about the combatants in Bosnia? Do they ever question or regret their actions? And the mother in the council flat: why hadn’t she called the police? And wouldn’t he take the risks Winston had in the gym for the chance of fame and fortune?
The man in the mirror doesn’t have the answers. But our narrator’s happy to be asking questions, realising it’s a step towards seeing both sides of the story, as his wife had urged. And Phil Collins sang.
Thanks for listening to the final instalment of this short story. You can read all my short stories, blog posts and other writing at TallAndTrue.com.
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Podcast Theme and Podcast Effects
- Owl Hooting: https://freesound.org/people/Breviceps/sounds/465697/
- Kids Fighting/Screaming: https://freesound.org/people/SoundsExciting/sounds/405224/
- Glasses/Bottles Chinking: https://freesound.org/people/jawbutch/sounds/344401/
- Woman Laughing:https://freesound.org/people/sagetyrtle/sounds/33658/
- Toilet Flushing: https://freesound.org/people/lorenzgillner/sounds/274448/
- Big Ben: https://freesound.org/people/signtoast/sounds/259965/
- Explosion: https://freesound.org/people/tommccann/sounds/235968/
- Cheering Crowd: https://freesound.org/people/craigsmith/sounds/486205/
- Traffic Noise: https://freesound.org/people/mzui/sounds/135095/
- Footsteps on Pavement: https://freesound.org/people/JohnsonBrandEditing/sounds/244310/
- Birds Chirping: https://freesound.org/people/ken788/sounds/386732/
Podcast recorded in Sydney, Australia, on the land of the traditional custodians of the Eora Nation.
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