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Stephen Magic

by Bergkamp 

Posted: 27 January 2004
Word Count: 782
Summary: My first novel (first draft). It is about a Croatian man called Stephan Majik who is badly injured in the Croatian war of seccession in 1992. He suffers from memory loss due to severe head injuries. The story is his attempt to piece together his past and that of his family.

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I found this collection of writings and documents at 19 delaware Court, Eastern Road when I visited the flat at the end of November last year to dispose of possessions that had been left there by the previous tenannt. The cleaning company I hire to maintain to my properties between rentals, contacted me by phone. My brother in law Michael deals with getting rid of discard items like this usually, but my sister Jeanette, his wife, had just been admitted to hospital with an ectopic pregnacy. So, that is how I found myselfat the flat at 9 o'clock on a dank, overcast November morning last year.

I raely visit the properties in Dover siince I moved to Maidstone from there in 1995. So, I had forgotten that the outside of the building needed redecorating. I almost drove past looking for a better maintained block. It pays to be more hands on, I suppose. Michael had mentioned this to me from time to time. But with one thing and another, after the car accident and Billy's trial I have stayed away from Dover.

I when I first found the the papers on the desk in the bedroom I was going to bag them up and take them to the tip with evrything else. There were some clothes hanging in the closet, some furniture that needed replacing, that sort of thing. But something caught my eye. It was handwritten, for a start. The handwriting was strange, kind of loopy nad inconsistent. I sat down and began to read.

What follows are all the writngs, letters and documents that I found that day.

Peter Cooper
Maidstone, 24 February 2000'


10th. August 1999.

I died on 24th. July 1992, sometime around 5a.m. Medical records state that I received severe head injuries. My left eye had been gouged out. My jaw was smashed by a heavy, blunt instrument, a mallet, perhaps.

I arrived here in the winter of 1994, after fourteen months in hospital. First, in Zagreb, then in Milan. I came here as a refugee because I speak English. In 1985 I came to England for the first time and spent two years at London University where I completed my M.A. on John Donne.

A year after I arrived here as a refugee I moved to Canterbury. I had to come back after four months. The people here remind me that I am not from here, not from this world. I have a new name, a new identity in death: Stephen Magic.

Back then, growing up in Croatia, I was called Stephan Majic. I was born in J------, south west of Zagreb on 17th. February 1963. I had four older sisters, my parents and both grandmothers.

In death I am trying to piece together who I was and what happened to me. There were no eyewitness accounts; the killers have not been bought to justice. The doctors in Zagreb explained to me that my head injuries were so severe that I have some brain damage. My memory has been affected, my speech is slurred because I lost part of my tongue, and I suffer from severe headaches. My doctor here suggested that I write down my life story, that way my memories begin to return. I write in English because I am Stephen Magic. I am writing about someone called Stephan Majic. A Croatian, someone I barely remember. Perhaps English allows me some protection, a buffer against reality. It allows me to be an eyewitness to the past, my past.

I sit at my desk at my window overlooking Eastern Road. The rumble of traffic, the birdsong of children’s chatter and the blast of ships’ horns from the port in the distance. These are the sounds that snatch at my attention, the sights that flicker in front of my one seeing eye.

Delaware Court faces south. Eastern Road is a listless mixture of foreigners, mainly from central Africa and eastern Europe, refugees, like myself. That is what my British hosts would say. But the people here push their babies in buggies and carry home their shopping in brightly coloured carrier bags. Their children cry and shout and laugh. Groups of adults stand together talking, smoking, drinking, able-bodied, waiting, always waiting.

I am not waiting. I was granted British citizenship last year. Even before then I was not waiting. Waiting means that there is a future for me. There is no future for me. There are only snapshots of the present. Snapshots of Stephen Magic. A man with a patchy memory of his past, who has trouble seeing and hearing things. A man who slurs his words even when he is stone cold sober.

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Comments by other Members

Nell at 18:39 on 28 January 2004  Report this post
Hi Nicolas,

This is a short piece, but after a slightly shaky start it really caught my attention. I love the similarity between the two names, and somehow calling him Stephen Magic makes him magical in some odd way. Words are powerful things. The statement 'I died on...' is nicely evocative; ironically he begins to come alive just there, and I'm curious to know what happens next. There are quite a few spelling mistakes and typos in the piece, which tend to disrupt the flow, but this is a good start, and I'm looking forward to reading on.

Best, Nell.

Bergkamp at 18:58 on 28 January 2004  Report this post
Dear Nell,

Thank you for your comments. Actually, the thing is, I just cut and pasted the original draft - complete with typos!- onto the site. In future I will try to tidy it up a bit before posting. I have afriend who is editing the work for me, and she is very positive. However, because I am very bad at judging my own work I feel in need of extra feedback. hence posting onto the site here. I will try to tidy up the next bit and post it in the next day ot two. Alaso, I will try to find my way round the site and read some of your work.


darkstar at 22:36 on 30 January 2004  Report this post
I agree with Nell, you have a wonderful image in the phrase, "I died on..." as it really does mark the start of this man's new life. I also like the idea that he's writing in English as a way of distancing himself from who he was before and from what happened. I'll be interested to see where you take this.


EmiliaDG at 12:18 on 17 February 2004  Report this post
Hi Nicholas,

I think you have a really strong idea here and some very powerful writing. Both the responses here point to the line 'I died on...' as the moment the work comes alive and I have to agree that this line grabbed my attention. My initial thought is that this should be the first line of the novel. You would immediately grab your reader's attention, immersing them in Stephen Magic's world.

There is a lot about this piece that I love and I would really like to see more - and perhaps an outline or synopsis. The section pasted here does feel fragmented and slightly stilted but I imagine that is your intention? I think this concept can work - it illustrates his problems with speech and memory but I think if you go with this concept it needs to be a little slicker.

My other concern is that you are telling too much too soon and not exploiting the power of what you are telling us. For example you seem to skim over quite big revelations very quickly without exploring them in detail. Again I think this may be the intention? But I feel it can be even more powerful if you allow yourself more time. Don't rush to give us all the details so early on. I think if you do it feels a little like we have aready read the book on the first page. As a reader I would like the revelations of who Stephen Magic and Stephen Majic is to ooze out slowly as he puts together the fragments of his memory.

I hope this makes sense. I would love to see some more of this Nicholas and to comment again when I have read more. You have a very powerful idea here and just need to find the best way to translate that to your audience.

How much have you written? Is there a synopsis?
What happens next?
Can you post some more?

Best wishes,


buccaneer at 18:22 on 20 February 2004  Report this post
Hi Nicholas,
I found your story intriguing and a bit spooky, if you can maintain the pace and theme then I reckon you have a good one.
Regards and good luck Pete.

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