Otherworldly Tales for Adults

A 103-year-old woman on a Greek island suddenly starts growing new teeth; an odd boy with ears like an ape’s signs something across a market place that makes two deaf sisters cry; a young man uncovers a secret work by Salvador Dalí. Rent-boys, bitter dowagers, political rebels, a frisky terrier – all inhabit the different worlds of STICKY ENDS. Worlds that seem very close to our own, but in which something has shifted – just a notch, but enough to move them into a realm of unease.

Rodney Bolt: Sticky Ends


The Yiayiá

It was Leo’s task to shave the yiayiá. She was 103, and slept on an old door laid out beneath the olive tree. Leo called her yiayiá – though, of course, she wasn’t his ‘granny’ at all. On Sunday mornings, her grandchildren, greats and great-greats all went off to church. Leo wasn’t Orthodox, and despite her proximity to the Pearly Gates, the yiayiá wasn’t much bothered. So together they remained, under the olive tree, as Leo attended to her weekly stubble, and the yiayiá muttered, complained and occasionally ranted….


The deaf girls waited until their mother was not looking, then continued their argument, signing furiously. The taller of the two turned her back on the market square, hunching over her sister to keep their squabble private. Their mother chatted on with the man at the fruit stall. If she knew what was going on behind her, she pretended not to notice but gave them their time. The girls shot glances to one of the café tables set out under the trees on the square….


Doña Aina laid the clippings carefully on the table, using thumb and knuckle of each hand. Even so, she winced at the pain. Her thin skin was just a shade darker than the yellowing paper. She looked at her hands. Age spots. And that girl had slipped painting her nails again. A little crimson smear on her ring finger. Thought she wouldn’t notice, probably. But her eyes were still good.…

Nude Climbing a Staircase

One night in the soggy November of 1992, the old man put two glasses of brandy between us. Every Monday around midnight I taught him English, in his room up a ladder-like staircase in Amsterdam. He said his name was Pieter. He wore the same yellow shirt and out-of-fashion purple tie for every lesson, and as the months went by his straight white hair grew longer and longer, until it covered the faint line of dandruff on the edge of his collar. Two tiny cups of coffee were always placed neatly in front of him, our only refreshment for the next hour-and-a-half. Then that night the brandy. And he had on a clean shirt, a new tie, and was sporting a trim haircut. It was his birthday. That was the night that changed my life….