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I Heard the Croak of a Raven, the Caw of a Crow


Not for me 😔

Vincent is a man torn between two women and his search for the vortex


When Vincent Conaty’s nomadic uncle unexpectedly arrives on his doorstep, the pair embark on a journey in search of the Vortex. And on this journey, Vincent must negotiate erratic Greek taxi drivers, his feelings for two of the women in his life, and a feral cat who has decided to call his apartment home, all while struggling against the sudden chill that comes from the lung of the Vortex…

Read this for the poetry of the love story between Vincent and Lisa. This is a short tale, in which Vincent tries to get over his drug fuelled and damaging relationship with Margo, an annoyingly self serving character, and work out his true feelings for a long term friend, Lisa.

The repetition throughout the book of him and Lisa calling each other ‘wagon’ and ‘so and so’, and it being ‘their thing’ is both a bit irritating but serves to establish the bond between Lisa and Vincent as a couple to the reader and as this is a first person narrative ensures that the reader sees the transition of his affection from Margo to Lisa.

I read this book in a few hours as it’s relatively short. It’s poetic in its writing style, particularly when Vincent finds the Vortex, an apparent bubble of both clarity and understanding.

The journey to search for the Vortex, initially a thing with no meaning, seems superfluous to the tale beyond being a means to extract Vincent from his own life and provide him with a means for justifying to Lisa that he’s not with Margo.

I found some of the characters unnecessary and there only to provide context to Vincent’s character. I disliked the constant use of full names for the characters. It had the odd effect of disconnecting me from the tale.

Despite being a love story between Vincent and Lisa I never really connected with the characters and had any desire either way about where their relationship went.

Thus would make a perfect story if it sat in a collection of other tales of modern characters (love stories or otherwise), but on its own it seems disconnected.

Reviewed by

Having previously studied English at University I love books. I read regularly and a wide variety of literature and non fiction.
I particularly love dystopian fantasies, adventure biographies and novels, especially those that immerse you in the landscape and historical fiction.


When Vincent Conaty’s nomadic uncle unexpectedly arrives on his doorstep, the pair embark on a journey in search of the Vortex. And on this journey, Vincent must negotiate erratic Greek taxi drivers, his feelings for two of the women in his life, and a feral cat who has decided to call his apartment home, all while struggling against the sudden chill that comes from the lung of the Vortex…

Chapter 1

Margo had the wild in her. Wouldn’t you know a rogue deerhound took a bite from her cheek just below her left eye when she was a little thing, marking her face with a scar, but Margo told everyone she had a set-to with a wolf when she was away camping in a place wolves are known to frequent, and she told the story about the wolf so many times she nearly believed it herself.

I picked up the remaining tab of acid from the table and sat down beside Margo. She rested her head on my shoulder and as her curly hair brushed against my cheek I took in her scent: all wolf. Margo bit a half off the tab and I placed the remainder on my tongue. The acid was strong. It had been a full decade since I’d sampled anything this trippy and I’d been nervous about taking it, but I couldn’t say no to Margo. We’d already shared the first tab and been through the knife-in-the-sides laughter which lets you know you’re about to start tripping balls. Margo had sourced the stuff earlier in the day from a friend who was famous for being able to supply the goods. Margo knew the best people.

Rain thrummed hard against the window, I started to see shapes and other things, and the drug pushed me into a reverie. My mind fixed on the rain, and I panicked when my consciousness shifted inside a corrugated tin shack. I turned and saw myself in the form of a fox, lurking in the corner. The rain thrashed percussively against the tin. The walls of the shack closed in.

This scene was nothing more than the acid playing out in my mind. The corrugated tin shack flooded with the rain and washed away, and when I landed back on the couch beside Margo, I felt a shiver first stun and then shimmer across my chest.

She asked, ‘Where were you?’

Margo was rarely anything other than easy going, but I heard a wobble in her voice, telling me she was either a bit annoyed or worried she’d missed out on some mischief. I shook my head and she knew I had been to a place that would have made her panic.

Margo stood and slipped out of her clothes. I sat there watching her, stilled, weak at the knees, as she discarded her top and skirt on the floor. She slid her underwear all the way down to her ankles and stepped out of them. Margo was the most erotic thing I had ever seen – the curve of her rear and slender tummy did something to me.

She meant for me to join her, so I stood and undressed. This took me some minutes, some painfully awkward minutes, because of the acid, and Margo held both of her hands over her mouth to smother a succession of giggles when my foot caught in the leg of my jeans. I struggled and this turned into a thing because the jeans wrapped tighter and tighter around my ankle every time I tried to shake myself free. I was high, man.

Margo gave me a complex when her eyes settled on my privates, her lips curling into a grin, so seductive. Taking my hand, she pressed herself against me, and when I felt her flesh against mine, I realised I’d have followed her anywhere if she’d have me.

I followed Margo over to the window which she unlatched and opened so we could hear the rain. I live on the second floor and the rain whipped into the room with the wind and we climbed outside and danced reels on the flat roof, splashing the puddles with our feet. The neighbours would talk, but we had no worries, no concerns. Two minds blown on LSD. A right pair. The corrugated tin shack momentarily slipped my mind.

I’ve never known cold like it, so we climbed back inside shivering something awful and dripping water onto the worn carpet. Numbed, raw flesh was harsh to the touch. My teeth clattered percussively and I thought about the rain thrashing against the corrugated tin shack. I closed and latched the window while Margo skipped into the bathroom to run the shower, and I joined her after double-checking I had locked the window tight.

The water was boiling and after the coldness of the rain the sensation of hot and cold alternated on my skin. I could barely see Margo for all the steam and she stroked me while we kissed. Her tongue did things in my mouth. She turned and bent over, and we got down to it. The motion was awkward at first, but we found a rhythm that seemed to work, and we were away. I writhed, Margo shook, as the acid heightened the sense of pleasure.

Margo and I wrapped our bodies in dry towels after the shower and lay on the bed. The first hit of acid had eased off and Margo curled up in my arms while I ran my fingers through her damp hair. The acid would climax again, faint lines traced across the ceiling to let me know it was on the way. I’d have to be ready.

‘Listen, you won’t recognise the Surgeon when he comes,’ Margo said to me after a quarter of an hour, bending my ear.

Muddled, I made a face. Margo was always playing games, most of the time it was better to brush her off with a shake of the head, but this night, of all nights, I wasn’t exactly thinking straight. I could see shapes and other things.

‘The Surgeon will be searching for the Vortex, and you, lover, are to go with him.’

I made another face and quietly repeated what Margo had said, to remember later when I’d come down from the acid. I rested my head on her chest until a belt of anxiety made me sit upright. I looked at Margo and knew she’d leave me.

Two weeks later, Margo left me to rove around Argentina for a time. The day she took off I stood there shaking my head, saying nothing, and yet she moved in a way that convinced me she would be coming back. I trusted in this, if nothing else. I’m a sucker, man.

This story is not about Margo.

About the author

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Published on January 16, 2020

20000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Magical Realism

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