‘Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie’ by Beryl Bainbridge

Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie by Beryl Bainbridge, 1985

The magic trick:

Applying the Chekhov’s Gun device to the script of Peter Pan

Welcome to Christmastime in Liverpool. It’s not Beatles music and sleigh rides.

We all know about Chekhov’s Gun. But what about the not-nearly-as-famous Chekhov’s Peter Pan Script?

True, it’s lesser known, but here it is remarkably effective. This story filters its plot and themes during the second half through a stage performance of Peter Pan. It’s an odd idea, but it actually works well. The story also is a very funny one. You’re so amused you nearly forget to notice how dark the undertones are.

Charlie is a ticking time bomb. Kind of like the crocodile with the clock. And that’s quite a trick on Bainbridge’s part.

The selection:

During Acts Two and Three, Charles Henderson dozed. He was aware of loud noises and children screaming in a bloodthirsty fashion. He hoped Wayne wasn’t having one of his tantrums. It was confusing for him. He was dreaming he was fishing in the canal for tiddlers and a damn big crocodile crawled up the bank with a clock ticking inside it. Then he heard a drum beating and a voice cried out ‘To die will be an awfully big adventure.’ He woke up then with a start. He had a pain in his arm.


As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s