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Posts from the ‘Short Stories’ Category

Run Out of Luck

Pot of Gold

Pot of Gold

Frank looks at the bill and curses himself for listening to his friend. ‘It’s a great place to eat’ the words spin in his mind. The service slow, plates cold, a tough steak has given him indigestion.

Said friend asks ‘How was your meal at The Ivy?’ There are three possible replies. ‘Yes, Ok, but I wasn’t impressed’ – ‘No, I did not like it’ or ‘What a terrible meal, you’re recommendation cost a fortune and made me ill, I’ll never trust your judgement again, sod off and leave me alone.’ It has been a difficult day, having discovered someone has taken his summer holiday slot! Frank choses the last reply option, a friend is lost even though the restaurants chef is to blame.

Some time later Frank needs the lawnmower which he’d lent to the food critic ‘Can I come over to collect my lawnmower?’ ‘Fuck you, the mower wouldn’t start, I lost my thumb of trying to fix it.’ ‘Yes, but where is my mower?’ The phone is silent. The following week a writ arrives informing of an intent to sue.

The lawyer believes there is no need to worry about a claim, his advise is to give the documentation to the household insurers legal department. The fifteen minutes consultation costs 125.55, plus half a days work. Time which Frank has exchanged for a full day at the store this coming Sunday. During the drive home he remembers Sunday is the day of his sons 18th birthday barbecue. In a moment of anger he accelerates the old car onto the main road too hard and fails to see a motorcyclist overtaking a truck just before the junction. The rider swerves to avoid colliding with Frank, hits an oncoming van and is killed instantaneously.

Officer Vicky Oliver smugly informs the hapless driver ‘Sorry sir, the test is positive by one point.’ Drinking the half bottle of whisky late last night to ‘settle-down’ his worries over the lawyers appointment was about to become more than the hangover headache. Vicky guess’s he’ll be charged with causing the death of the motorcyclist whilst under the influence of alcohol.

Frank leaves the police station and phones the store manager to inform him of the days disasters. ‘No problem Frank, see you tomorrow.’ Tom the manager calls back ‘You haven’t forgotten Sunday Frank have you?’ In his mind he’s about to tell him to stuff his job, he manages to reply  ‘Of course not Tom, I’ll be at the store at six.’ ‘Ok’ a pause and Tom finishes with ‘You’re secrets safe with me’ Frank has killed a motorcyclist and Tom thinks he can keep the scandal a secret. No hope, not a one. He’s right, the motorcyclists wife discovers where Frank works and harasses him at the store ‘I’ll have to let you go Frank, the company cannot employ you under the circumstances.’

Frank is in the holding cell below the court. ‘Three years is a little high’ the convict is more than aware of the severity of the tariff and does not need to be reminded by the pimple faced lawyer. The divorce has been difficult ‘You never tell me anything, you’re a idiot Frank’ his wife’s last words. Nothing really matters anymore.

During the journey to the prison Frank curses the meal at The Ivy and not for the first time. He knows the missing chef never will be reunited with his family, he dug a deep grave out on the moors.

5 minutes to write 5 minutes to post FLASH story.

Johnny

 

Johnny

Johnny

 

Johnny’s eight year old coupe was, up until sometime earlier this evening, as tidy as the day it was driven away from the dealership forecourt. Not one blemish in the interior, the key mark on the drivers door has ruined the evening. Johnny always leaves the car on the side road and takes a bus. This avoids the possibility of damage by jealous drunks if he parked the coupe in the City.

Ruth is sobbing, heart broken, life in shreds. She hates her dad and his chip shop, he vandalised the car. Why did he do it? It is her night off. That bastard brother calling in sick, hangover more likely.

‘Can you change yer plans duk? Yer brother’s poorly a’gin.’
‘No dad, Johnny is already on his way.’
He looks into her face and spits out the vengeful reply ‘It’ll cost ‘im more than an evening on the piss with you me duk.”

Doctor Khan has called the police. ‘The girl needs extensive micro surgery to repair the damage the craft knife has caused to her face.’

‘Why? She’s your girlfriend.’ Asks constable Vicki Oliver.
‘Her bastard father will think twice before he scratches Johnny Boy’s motor again.’

203 Word Flash Story

Ronnie

Ronnie

Ronnie Get’s Ready

Ronnie

Ronnie sits on the bench thinking about her life. She left the theatre with her understanding of truth and selfness confirmed, renewed and revitalised. Her mentor has spoken, his words have given her more than any man she had known. Not only had she listened to him, he had asked her to help, what a day.

She paid a whole weeks wages for the dress, buying it was the right thing to do, he is worth it. After all, without him she would never have become a saver and been able to spend over three hundred pounds on one item and another ton for the shoes. Without him she would not have overwhelmed the fear of the scum she had once fallen in love with. As she thinks, the memories of those events, the feeling of real love and how it came to be dissolved in an acid bath of hate drifted into her mind.

Discovering his name was Dean Pratt not Dino Marillo and he was waiter in, not owner of Marillo’s did not hurt. Discovering he lived with another woman did. Later, she felt more betrayed by the friends had conspired to hide the lie. In truth she had been used. Dean begged her to be his alibi. “Please Viv, please, say I was with you.” She said she would. The police arrived and after a few questions Inspector Vera West asked the one which mattered. Vivian sipped her glass of water “He called himself Dino pretending to be the owner of Marillo’s Inspector, the man is a liar. I don’t care about his crime. What I can say is he came here on…” the deliberate pause is timed to amplify the sentiment of her integrity ” on Sunday evening,  Dean asked me to lie, I refused, I don’t know why he would involve me.”  Pratt by name, prat by nature Dean received four years.

Around the same time her younger sister Vivian became involved with a Spanish riding instructor twice her age. This ended far worse than her own relationship. The child’s name was Mark. Her sister was fourteen it was decided her son would be adopted the day following his christening. Vivian went from one nightmare relationship to the next. Most, no, all were abusive, violent, excess of everything relationships. Few were surprised when she took her life. Ronnie is thankful her sister called it a day, although she allowed people to believe her silence was an indication of wreaking ball grief.

Vivian’s life ruined by the Latino and Ronnie would hate and distrust the race because of him, no exceptions.  Ronnie once talked to the rapist during a chance encounter in a City bar. “Did you know you were the father of a boy?” she asked. Ronnie knew the Spanish deceiver who’d seduced and impregnated her sister would be ecstatic. He wanted to know about his son. Ronnie said, “The first months could be described as perfect,”  then the antagonist hit the rapist with a verbal hammer. “As he became older, I’m guessing just before his second birthday, we noticed the boy had certain difficulties, we decided it would be best to place him into adoptive care.  The new family could not cope with a mentally disabled child. City authorities took over and placed the boy into special care. The last I heard he’d jumped from a window and was horribly maimed on the railings below.”  The Latin’s eyes filled with tears “Do you know any more?” “No, when Viv died, the situation was finished.” In truth she knew nothing about the baby who’d been adopted at a month of age, in certainty she had hurt the rapist.

“We do not have to be big or strong to break anyone. We only have to know their weakness. We must also understand that there are those who cannot be overwhelmed. for whatever reason, be it money, physical or emotional superiority these are the ones who we eliminate from our minds and psyche.” He looked at the audience, surveying them like a lion appraising his pride. They watched Jan Chase, the individualist who spoke of selfness “The motivational speakers will let you down, but not before taking your money. Those who listen to them and their instant coffee cures are lazy and infected with the social disease’s of defeat, mental problems, psychotic episodes, depression, greed and envy, so desperate for release from their angst they believe the hype of the pseudo mind shapers. I do not talk to you with twisted word, sentence, false promise. Todays snake oil salesmen sell empty bottles of wealth. Their armour of five thousand pound suits, Rolls Royce cars and mansion life styles instills a belief of all who follow their word that they to can become the same as the rich deceivers whom they adore. And you know… All of you know… Their promises are of little weight, a feather in the breeze has more chance of felling an oak. Judas Iscariot was more trustworthy.”

The audience applaud, some rising to their feet. Jan places the hand held microphone closer to his lips to increase the depth of his voice. “Stop this nonsense. I am not here for adulation, appreciation, adoration or false worship. You applaud because you have been freed, freed to be able to see the reality, see the truth, see through the veil of deception. Now, settle down your minds, settle down your thoughts, settle down your feelings. From this moment onward the only way is the truth. You are your most important person. Those who can feed their hunger let them do so. Those who cannot let them starve. If I were hungry I would work, If I were in debt I would work, If I were ill I would fight to be healthy. If I am hurt I will walk away. Those who hurt me cannot love me, I walk away. Those who cannot understand me… I will save them and walk away. Never walk into conflict or try to discover how to live with it, or work with it,” Jan pauses, holding the audience, his head moves like a robot left to right and back to centre, his hand covers his heart, he continues “Walk away from pain, difficulties, argument, discord, anger, violence, war, hate, forgiveness.” Each word is emphasised, Jan’s voice has a steady and influential tone  “This is my way and you can make the choice or not to make it your way.” The audience is almost out of control, they stand, applaud, cheer. It seems like an age, Jan Chase smiles. Microphone in his hand conduction the orchestra of followers. The microphone is his trademark, a silver colored radio microphone has become his magic wand. It is used to seemingly count the audience, when raised to his lips, the movement indicates he is about to talk again. “Leave this room knowing you have been amongst friends, real friends who understand your hurt, your old restrictions, your old flames of pain. Leave this room knowing your life will not change in an instant, your bank balance will not fill with gold, your relationship will not repair to become utopia of love. No! My friends leave this place to be enlightened with… Enlightened with…” and they know what they will hear, and they wait with anticipation “You will leave this room, this building, enlightened with the power of selfness.”

Jan was signing books after the show and when presented with her copy he said “Would you help me for an hour?” The two worked together, she removed a book from the box “That will be ten pounds please,” She takes the payment “Join the queue, Jan will sign your book for you in a moment, thank you,” he signed the books and when everyone had left… “Is that really three hundred books sold?” “Yes, Jan three-hundred and four.” He counts out thirty tens and places the cash in her hand “Always pay for the help you are given Ron, remember to take advantage of any situation, send me a email, maybe we could work together another time” “I would like that, thanks Jan.” Ronnie knows he means it, his reputation for fulfilling promises is well known. He smiles, touches her face and returns to the dressing room. The maestro knows to separate himself from the cash side of the business is important. It has been a good day, just over eight grand in profit, two-hundred and thirty thousand so far this year and it is still July.

She sits on the bench outside of the theatre. Chase’s white Porsche Turbo stops at the kerb “Thanks for your help Ron, did you enjoy the event?” “Yes, I loved it Jan, and thank you.” No one else would be allowed to call her Ron, it is his special name for her, she feels it in her bones, he loves her, no doubt about it “No… thank you my friend.” Ronnie resonated with the master of selfness, she admired him, he asked for her help which made her more important than anyone else in the audience. The maestro gazes into the strange looking girls eyes, he craves her body, young, vibrant, healthy. For a moment he imagines kissing her lips, counting her freckles, stroking the short brown hair. Yes, he thinks ‘she’s just what I need.’ The 911 gurgles away. Ronnie cycles home.

Ronnie

Ronnie has a border line face. It is difficult to decide if she is a drop dead stun gun beauty or knock out right hook repulsive.  Most find her personality and physical appearance overwhelms the conundrum. Ronnie recommends a week should be  divided into two days boxing, two swimming, two days in the gym, the day of rest walking in the City or by the sea. By profession accountant, by choice its stacking shelves in a supermarket. “It pays the rent.”

On Tuesday she cycled from work to the pool on her two grand hand built Mercian. Like all objects of beauty the pea green machine is basic in design. Small crank, five speeds, disk brakes, tan Brooks saddle. Combined with its owners supreme fitness it is faster than any car for city commuting. At some time during her three hour workout a thief broke into the cycle pen and stole the bicycle.

The theft ruins her timetable. It will take four weeks before she will be able to collect the replacement. Ronnie’s friends and associates are hoping the bike shop works a miracle and finishes the construction before the agreed date as her temper is not at its most settled. Phil Godden made the mistake of implying she had arranged for the bike to be stolen “Did yer ‘lose’ it for the insurance duk?” Ronnie’s punch broke his nose, floored his pride. Early morning commutes from flat to supermarket used to take fourteen minutes. Without the bike Ronnie walks (she never runs or jogs as it is bad of the knee joints) it takes thirty five. On one of the walks she saw an object laying below the hedge, at first glance thinking it was a bible there was hesitation before she picked it up.

If the cycle had not been stolen, Ronnie would not have walked to work and she would have not seen the black leather bag. Ronnie opened it in a cubicle in the stores washroom. It has a fold over flap like a messenger bag is secured by a wide strip of velcro. The main compartment is secured by a thick black plastic zip. Inside a green Moleskine pocket book, fine nib Mont Blanc fountain pen (green ink), two folds of twenty pound notes, two of ten each secured by a heavy bulldog clip. In total three thousand two hundred pounds. She sits on the cubicle floor, the toilet seat cover is down making a table on which six items dominate her attention. She looks into the bag and discovers an another compartment. Inside is another five thousand in twenties and two rectangular plastic boxes, the type used for soap when traveling. These contain two hundred and forty-nine blue tablets and thirty six heat sealed bags containing about half a teaspoon of a brownish white powder. Eight thousand in cash, a dealers trading stock and accounts book. Life will turn sour for the finder if the dealer discovers who has his possession and there can be little doubt he will be searching.

The find is placed in her sports grip under a large towel, trainers and gym clothing. She throws it into her work locker, spins the combination lock and walks to the warehouse to begin the shift. Godden the warehouse manager watches her climb onto the forklift truck, if he can find a way to dismiss her he will. Ronnie would have lost her job if the humiliating details of the assault could have been disguised in the report. He is wise enough not to become involved any further and today she looks as though there is something on her mind. Godden thinks, ‘the bitch’ is more aggressive than usual, all the staff can feel it. Everyone keeps their distance.

During her morning break Ronnie calls the bike builder “Hi Will, its Ronnie Key, could I improve the gears to Shimano, add a hub dynamo, front and rear LED lights and concealed wiring on my new bike?” “No problem Ronnie, it’ll be about an extra six hundred though.” “That’ll be fine by me.” “Thanks Ronnie, it’ll make no difference to when its ready should be the end of the month.” “Thanks Will…see yer.” “Bye Ronnie.”  She decided to keep the windfall. Jan Chase’s words flowed though her soul. “You are your most important person. Take every opportunity, walk away from discord. We do not have to be big or strong to break anyone. We only have to know their weakness.”

During the four years of Dean Prat’s sentence Ronnie decided to change her life. The reason being, prior to the trial he had threatened her with terrifying verbal assaults. Inspector West gave her a book “Read this, its about selfness and taking control.” Ronnie read the book, underlined the important paragraphs, learned some by heart. The author and his ideas of selfness took over her life. Following the advise within Jan Chases book she looked for value for money everywhere and in everything. Refusing to allow anyone to influence her, living lean and frugally, training hard. The boxing club was cheaper than the gym so she became a boxer. Her life revolves around boxing, swimming, cycling, saving, working and Jan Chase.

Dean is released from prison, his first call is Ronnie flat. Laying on the hospital trolly he regretted knocking on the door. No charges made, Dean was lucky. Some years have passed since then and today Ronnie is harder, fitter and understands the power of selfness. “We protect ourselves before all others.” Jan’s word’s. Words to live by, Ronnie is a woman of ‘Selfness’. Jan’s woman, confirmed when he asked her to help him sell his books.

“Its strange how this scum and his crimes have crossed my career Millie. Here he is, laying on a bare urine stained mattress, in front of a two bar electric fire. Dealer addict overdosed and out.” The electric fire scorched and melted the plastic syringe to his arm, he must have passed out as the plunger was pressed and his body fell in front of the red hot bars. Pathologist Millie Green accepts there is sufficient evidence to support death by misadventure, so to save paper work she asks the photographer to take ‘two or three snaps for the file’ –  “I’ve counted ninety-one pills, don’t know what until the lab test’s come through and ten heroin deals in his black leather bag, there’s four hundred and sixty quid and a green note book full of names and numbers.” Millie looks at the inspector “The notebook could become an important find Vera” “Yes, Millie from the first glance I think it holds answers to many questions,” She pauses, looks at her friend and adds “There’s the magical bonus for us Millie… Dean is in the right place on that mattress.”

Rex

Rex

Constructive Disaster

Rex, he is a taker. A user, not of drugs of people.

Rex is a difficult and critical man. Rex is a bully. Rex believes himself to be intelligent and superior. Rex thinks himself to be wealthy.

Jane is a looker. Men crave, and women envy, her looks and body.

Jane has a Credit Union bank account. Every Monday and Friday she deposits one hundred and six pounds into her account. Jane’s lucky number is seven, numerically one hundred and six resolves down to seven. One add zero add six equals seven. The account is healthy, over fifty-thousand pounds.

Sidney has never liked Rex. He has always overcharged for his services and insisted on immediate payment once the accounts for each quarter have been prepared. Although Rex has been an excellent client and in fairness, up until some months ago, a reasonable business man. Sidney cannot engage with this ‘know-all’ who sits in front of him, he preferred to talk of his personal achievements, the next cruise or his new watch, rather than discuss where he’s losing the small sums of money which add up to substantial amounts. Although Sidney accepts the used car lot and the attached garage is for all of its faults an excellent business.

“Rex, I did warn you of the possible consequences of trading with Felix.”
“I’ll kill the bastard.”
“I would rather not listen to that non-sense Rex.” Secretly Sidney Blunt is delighted to see the oaf under pressure, so delighted in fact, that even if he loses the fee for this quarters account he’ll not care a damn.

Dennis Felix is consummate businessman. The one objective is success. The accountant Sidney has a grudging admiration for this man who came from nowhere to become as wealthy as man needs to be. When Felix asked eight specially selected ‘friends’ to join him in building the new marina, Rex felt his business life was taking momentum. Dennis’s invitation was an acknowledgement to his business acumen. Sidney remembers his warning “Rex, be careful you’re staking twenty years of your life and borrowing money to be part of this syndicate. As your accountant I need to caution you with regard to the time and over run clauses.”  “What can go wrong Sid? It’s Dennis Felix. I’m in with the winners, there’s half a million or more profit in this, a dream come true.” Sidney decided to cover himself and wrote a letter to Rex in which he pointed out his concerns and the problems he could well encounter if there were delays in construction. He keeps the acknowledgment letter in his safe and there is a ‘certain’ smugness as he visualises the sheet of A4 paper folded in the return envelope surrounded by his most valuable possessions.

Dennis Felix had only two friends, namely his shadow and his back pocket. When he approached the eight businessmen who he called his friends, each one of them should have realised he was being too chummy. In this mid sized coastal town the investors have become known as the tragic eight. All having lost eight hundred thousand pounds in what should have been a ‘sure fire winner’. A favourite phrase of the aforementioned Mr Felix.

It is an old story. An entrepreneur discovers a site for development. High profit for a short term investment. He needs to have a reputation of success. To win in the investment game there has to be a ‘reputation’. The mother company is set up and a call for investors goes out. In this case eight were approached, the project was to develop the small fishing town’s harbour into a modern marina. Small bars, apartments, shops and one hundred and fifty moorings at two thousand a year a pop. Return on the investment a million each on a two year time scale. Project cost fifteen million. Eight individuals are invited to ‘invest’ eight hundred thousand each (six point four million) the balance made up by… Yes Dennis Felix, who being the major investor (nine million) pulls the strings and writes up the contracts.  Within the contract there are written certain clauses which can demand financial top ups and further investment in the event of unforeseen hold-ups or problems. The penalties for breaking the agreements are severe.

What happened? The initial contractor became bankrupt within the first eight months of the building work. Along with the bankruptcy the civil engineers took with them three and a half million of pre payments.  The investors were asked for top ups to prop up the venture. Most had gone to the limit of their credit score and could not re-invest. The penalty clauses came into play and they lost their stakes in the development. Dennis Felix purchased the options with the three and a half million he had creamed off from the construction company he owned.

End result for Rex? A life times work in ruins.

“Rex you did not listen to me before, I’d like to ask you a question my friend.”

As Sidney waits for a reply from the forlorn and felled man in front of him, he reflects upon a word which has become a stranger to him ‘friend’ and he then remembers his father taught him never to criticise a client “Always let ’em think you’re a friend lad, it’s their money in our own account that matters.” Sidney senior would light his pipe, look at his son, drink the remainder of his pint and say “Be Mr Morecash not Mr Penniless lad, thats the motto of Sidney Blunt & Sons Chartered rogues and Accountants.” How the old chap loved the family motto. ‘Be Mr Morecash not Mr Penniless”  He had repeated the same sentence to his own son only last week as they stood in exactly the same place at the bar in the same pub his father loved so much. Family and tradition, money cannot buy it.

“Rex, my friend are you listening to me?”
“What did you ask Sid?”
“Can I ask you a personal question my friend?”
“Yes… Sidney.”
“Have you some cash squirrelled away?” This question was like dropping the last bottle of whisky at a late night party. The spilt golden liquid wasted, nothing left, only the memories of the night.
“I’ve about fifteen grand in cash, if I sell me jewellery and watches about another twenty. Then there’s me wife’s jewellery, she’ll not sell at any cost, she don’t know yet… Jesus.” Rex’s voice has returned to its childhood accent, rough as rusty barbed wire. Dennis’ scam is sending him back home, rags to riches to rags in one masterful legal fraud.
“Best you hang on to it Rex, don’t let any of the creditors get wind of it. If you’re going to sell the jewellery, do it out of town or pawn it.”

Sidney had decided to play a game with the fool “I don’t want you to think about the money you owe to Blunt & Sons, you’ve been a good client and customer, we’ll not fall out over a few hundred.” Sidney knew how to play the game and he decided that Rex’s self pity should be punished, he had never liked whimperers “Oh! No Sid you’ll get your money, you’ve bin good to me over this. I should ‘av listened to yer.”

“Well the situation as best as I can advise is you need seventy-five thousand to keep yourself afloat. The National Fisherman’s Bank have called in your overdraft, so the mortgage payments on your home will not be honoured. That will give you about three months before they call in the debts. You owe tax and there are wages and overheads to pay. Yes, you need about seventy-five to see you through.” Rex had re-mortgaged the house to raise two hundred thousand, he had refinanced the cars on the sales pitch for a further one hundred thousand. Sidney continued. “You rent your garage so in theory you could trade yourself out of the situation, you need the seventy five to keep you afloat for a few months.”

The wheeler dealer knew this already and he knew something else…

“Trouble is Sid, I’d signed the house over to me wife when I went bankrupt fifteen year ago. When I borrowed the money a’gin the house I got me girlfriend to pose as me wife and sign the papers.” The accountant looked at his client, then began to slowly shake his head and in the clear and precise voice which is used for the most difficult of advice he says, “You need a lawyer not an accountant Rex. I am not sure whether you’ve committed fraud or theft,” he hesitates “Probably both.”
“I know Sid, I know.” They shake hands and the man who is now broke becomes a child again. “Thanks for your help Sid, there maybe someone out there who’ll ‘elp me, I’ll go and call in a few favours.” Sid knew there was more chance of reviving a gutted fish.
“What have you been doing today then Rex? Playing with that tart of yours?”
“We need to speak sweetheart, I’m in a little bit of bother and we might need to sell the ‘ouse.” She looks at him and shakes her head “Oh! No, you don’t Rex, this house is mine and in my name.”

Rex is not surprised, but he has to plead. “I need fifty grand, I’ve got some cash and I can sell me trinkets (his name for his watches and jewellery) at a push I can put thirty thousand together, but its not enough. I’ve bin everywhere today and all the eff’in doors are shut, no bastard want’s to know me.”

Jane thinks about the fifty-thousand she has in the credit union account. The deeds of the house in her name. She thinks about the four affairs her husband has had and the ‘legal separation’ documents drawn up to save the house when Rex became a bankrupt. She thinks of the private investigator’s report in her lawyers office and the statements she made to the police in the same office on Monday. She thinks of the Queens Council’s opinion and his empirical instruction that as Jane is in no way associated with the fraud and the deeds had been in her name for fifteen years,  she would keep the house. He went on to comment further, according to the judgement made in the case of BCK Bank Vs Maureen Lester ‘Any bank who had been defrauded were responsible for checking the documentation of the loan, if a property is used as collateral which is not owned by the applicant, the rightful owner cannot be liable for the debt’ From this president he would argue if it came to court that she had been an instrument used within the deception and not part of it. Jane was in the clear.

“You’re going to prison Rex. I’m keeping the house because the loan you secured on this property is fraudulent. The twenty-one year old girl you call your PA is going to prison for signing the documents in my name. If you look in the safe you’ll find you do not have fifteen thousand in cash or any jewellery, I have taken it. It is my payment for the last twenty-five year nightmare of living with you. You’re finished Rex. Why don’t you do the decent thing and jump off the cliffs?”

Rex’s broken body was discovered by two runners the following morning. Inspector Alan Goss went up to the big house where Rex used to live to give the tragic news to Jane, the woman who’d calmly given the statements to him earlier in the week. When the news came into the station of Rex’s suicide Alan felt it was only right to inform her himself. Truth is, he’d already fallen in love with the ex-model.

It took twenty minutes to get into the large detached property. In the lounge, by the fire place lay the body, Alan knew she was dead, the telltale stain of urine had soiled her yellow dress. Jane had been strangled.

Millie

Millie

Millie

Millie is a dilly. Likes weird objects. She’s intrigued by strangers who have a story to tell, and does not care if it fact or fiction. Curries hotter than a desert. Bright clothes at a funeral, dark suits for Christenings. Never goes to weddings out of principle. Eats steak pie for breakfast and muesli for supper. Knows beer should always have a whisky chaser. Draught Guinness and port mixed in the same glass proves g-d exists. She say’s “Men are for using, work is for money and money is for spending, get out of my way and off my case I have a life to live.”

She is one point eight meters tall, short coffee colored hair, golden skin, emerald green eyes. Her dad comes from Liverpool “He can stay there.” Her mum works at Tesco. “ Say’s everything about me.”

When Millie returns home no matter if its day or night she goes to the kitchen and takes off all of her clothes. Yesterdays wash is in tumble dryer, this is emptied, its contents folded, the washing machines contents are placed into the dryer, it is switched on. By the washing machine are three baskets, whites, mixed and heavy soil, the baskets contents are washed by rotation one each day. Now the laundry is “Sorted” (favourite expression) Millie eats whatever is in the fridge, sometimes drinks a beer, often not. She shops when needed, calling her shopping “extinction shopping” She will spend one hundred and fifty pounds on food, household needs. The items are put away, she eats the perishables first then the tinned and frozen, whatever she runs out of is not replaced until the next shop. If you are unfortunate to visit when there is no coffee or tea you will have to do with Bovril, if there is no milk its water in the porridge, of course there will not be any fruit or fresh vegetables in the house after six days, seven at most. Visit on shopping day you’d believe she’s the healthiest eater in the block, visit when the supplies are depleted, you will have serious concerns for Millie’s health. This is her full domestic commitment. The way she lives. And the reason she rarely takes a holiday “Life’s a holiday, if you play it right.”

Laundry, food and now an hour in a steaming hot bath, its water saturated with Dead Sea Salt which kills the germs of the day and releases the tension caused by her clients. Dry, pyjamas, sit in bed, computer, final e-mails, quick look at tomorrow’s diary. Book and music or her favourite films. If asked “What films do you like?” the answer is always “Anything foreign, with sub-titles.” This is also used as a gauge for new friends and the very occasional lover. Those who do not like “Anything foreign with sub-titles.” Cannot be trusted. This is a principal learned from the misjudgment of her husband “(thankfully divorced)” who would never watch sub-titled films. Whilst on this subject Millie does not trust or like anyone who do not drink. Due to the fact her husband “(thankfully divorced)” left her for her (ex) best friend (now known as the bastard) who does not drink. Millie has had to adjust her opinion of non-smokers since she herself has given up tobacco, this is something which she regrets deeply, however she does not want to die like her (maternal) grand-father of cancer. There was a time when non-smokers were not be trusted.

Tonight she was watching ‘Peppermint Frappe’.  Vera her friend stroke/work colleague calls on her (should have been turned off) work iPhone. “Think you may be needed Mill,” “Vera, my name is Millie and the answer is no, my tumble dryer is turning, I’m in bed and the doctor is in his dark-room (best part of the film). “Come on Millie he’s a good looking client in need of some of your special expertise.”

Millie pauses, three clients today one more will not harm, and the extra money will go toward the new car. “Ok I haven’t had a drink (she’ll never drink and drive) text me the address Vera.” Millie has become too close to Vera, if she were to consider a queer relationship, she would corrupt Vera. Now what to wear? Black silk knickers, bra, calf length socks. Ankle length Levis, white tee shirt under lime green cotton shirt and emerald green sweater to match her eyes, not that the client will be very interested in what she is wearing. Shoes flat black leather Ecco trainers. A full length mirror reflects a beautiful woman. Red is supposed to be the colour of passion, this is untrue, green is the colour of passion. Always dress well for a client. ”Yes, Millie my sweet you are a Venus.”

From her apartment to the clients home is a twenty minute drive. The green Alfa sports is comfortable, she is looking forward to the new Alfa Quadrifoglio. Fifty- thousand but who’s counting. Millie loves Alfas, they are different, temperamental, head turners, a car should reflect the driver. His house is imposing, it is a great pity the interior is not. Vera has watched her arrival and opens the front doors. “He’s in his bedroom.” “Lets go straight up.”

Vera has already dressed in the special clothes, Millie opens her bag and takes out what is needed. He lays on his back already naked awaiting the ladies attentions. The pair are professionals, there is no wasting time with small talk, its over in an hour. They leave him in the bedroom, go downstairs find the kitchen, open the fridge and take two bottles of water, if Millie were not driving she would find something stronger, much stronger. “He was a very sick minded man Vera, to want to be tied so tightly by the wrists and ankles, and then to be whipped like that takes some working out.” “I have taken some images with my phone, it wouldn’t matter to him, its clear he enjoyed being filmed during his ‘exploits’.” “Exploits! Thats a bit tame Vera, its a good job we’re used to this type of work, its no game for the feeble.” The girls (they like to be called girls) look at each other and laugh. “I’ll leave the rest to you and yours then Vera. Will I see you in the morning?” “Yes, send me a text when you leave your apartment.” Millie pouts her lips as if to blow a kiss. In her mind she thinks an affair with Vera might be an interesting proposition.

This early morning reminds her of when she was younger, before she married. A few drinks in town, a club, then tea and a sausage sandwich in Jack’s Cafe. It has not changed, still immaculate, but how Jack has aged.  “How’s my lovely girl this morning, come and give an old man a kiss.” She loves Jack, his cafe and the Northern Soul music he’s played forever. “Remember when you used to work for me Millie? Cleaning tables, cooking fry-ups, serving drinks. Then you went off to college (he always calls the university ‘college’)  you broke my heart when you bought the boys in with you, always late, always last to go.”  “Yes, Jack but you’re the only one who owns my heart.” They laugh “You still working in that disgusting business Millie?” “Yes, Jack my love, any chance of a sandwich with three sausages and a mug of tea?”  “Of course Millie, lock the door for me I’ll have a beer with you.” He pours the tea, makes the sandwich, picks up two bottles of pale ale from under the counter and they sit at the window table watching the city go to sleep.

It was three thirty before she climbed into bed. The ritual had to be the same. Into the kitchen, remove her clothes, empty the dryer, fold the clothes, load the drier with the wash, load the washer with the contents of the most full basket. This time she showers, she pours a whisky, sits in bed, watches the end of ‘Peppermint Frappe’, finishes her liquor, thinks about Jack and how much she loves him, and how she broke his heart, and how he hates her work, and with a clear conscience falls asleep.

Black coffee, porridge made with water (no milk). Sensible clothes this morning there is much to do and she has to meet with a lawyer, and arrange a court hearing, there is no peace for the wicked.  She sends a text to Vera, ‘Meet me at the office’. Alfa to the City, parks in her usual spot. She wishes the security guy would not wink at her, sooner or later she’ll cause him some trouble. Who the ‘f’ does he think he is? He could not afford the laces in her shoes let alone an hour with her.

“Well, Vera our client was not as well man.” The body of the sex pervert is now on the slab, his autopsy has revealed an aortic aneurism as cause of death. Inspector Vera West is used to her friend and colleague Pathologist Millie Green’s matter of fact appraisals. “Foul play Millie?”  “No, he was unlucky, the person unknown who tied him made the bindings too tight, the flagellation closed the blood capillaries in his back, along with an increased blood pressure from sexual arousal his aorta split and he died.”  “Misadventure then Millie?”  “Yes, my sweetheart, we found no indication of foul play at the scene earlier this morning, so misadventure it is.” “He’d have died instantaneously?”  “Vera, he wouldn’t have known if he were coming or going.”

Professor Percival Winston

Professor Percival Winston is more than a household name.  There are few world leaders house’s of residence where he has not been the guest of honour. When he talks the world listens, although very few take much notice.

Percy purchased his doctorate from the little known University of Psychic Studies, Gofranmyre, Michigan in nineteen-sixty two. It was the best one hundred dollars he ever invested and when the sacred building burned to the ground in sixty-six, there was nothing or no one left to prove the integrity of Percival’s Doctorate.

He use the qualification to enter the City University for further study in Physics, Nuclear fission and cyroelectronics and by nineteen-seventy-two he had presented a thesis, so complex and unprovable he was hailed as a genius by his fellow professors. There were a few who questioned his work but as there was a possibility the theory was so advanced and so difficult to understand not one was prepared to test the possibility that it was indeed viable.

Many know him as eccentric, a personality trait he explores and develops to the highest degree. He hit the headlines in eight-eight after winning the Nobel Peace Prize for contributions to science for his ‘Theory of Cryogenic Conductivity’. A theory so complex very few have been able to understand the mathematical formula associated with it. In brief the theory indicates that the acceleration of an electron increases as the temperature of the conductor it travels in is lowered. No one really knows where the theory can be applied even though millions of dollars a year are spent on further research. Percival rarely talks about it, although once he was drawn on the subject during a television chat show “Where did the seeds of the theory come from Professor?” Asked the host “From a story in an edition of The Dan Dare comic” the genius answered. How the audience laughed at his wit and humanistic attitude. Little did they know Percival did indeed formulate the whole idea from the children’s science fiction comic he read as a boy. Dan Dare or not he used most of the prize money to buy a detached property in Gofranmyre Sussex. The name Gofranmyre had been good to him. University of Psychic Studies Gofranmyre for his doctorate and a Gofranmyre Sea View for his retirement “How apt” he’d think to himself. Percival thought of the connection between the two names as an important spiritual channel.

It was in the kitchen of this small but beautiful house where the Theory of Uniform Forces had its beginnings. This second theory would put him in the same echelon as Marie Curie, Linus Pauling, John Bardeen and Frederick Sanger who also won the prestigious award twice.

The good Professor based his theory upon a BBC Radio Four science program which explained how a man lighting a match on one side of the universe had an identical twin lighting a match on the other. He listened to this part of the program at the very moment he lit his second cigarette of the day, this coincidence in time was all he needed deciding there was some merit in the idea. For example there were many people born on the same day. The tree was a universal symbol of health and growth. There was a city called Gofranmyre in Britain and another Gofranmyre in America. He did not need any further prompting. He applied and was given a seat at the University of Gofranmyre which would be honoured to have a Nobel Peace prize winner on the campus and it was here that he used the internet and the combined intelligence of the students to formulate another ‘theory’ which was impossible to understand.

When the idea was first published many did indeed voice the opinion it was a joke. There were others who immediately accepted the ideas, insights and potentials of the idea which debunked ‘The Big Bang’ and the ‘Theory of Relativity’. Make no mistake there are many scientists who privately refute big bangs and E=MC2, although they dare not risk highly placed and incredibly well paid academic careers attempting to change the foundations of modern science.

Percival’s Theory of Uniform Forces is based upon the idea that in the original void of the Universe a vacuum imploded upon its self. And the left hand side of the vacuous void crossed over to the right and side of what was in effect no thing. And, in the implosion something became manifest. The something was a carbon atom. And the carbon atom was produced because as nothing passed from one side of nothing to the other it generated heat and when the heat cooled down, it had to become a residue which we know as carbon.  The constant see-saw action of the original carbon atom continues to produce carbon and, after millions of years the atoms began to hit each other at incredible speed and when they did explosions of energy occurred. This reaction resulted in the splitting of atoms, causing magnetic and electro-magnetic fields which activated vibrations and as the carbon atoms split the vibrations changed and they became differing atoms of differing atomic weight. Soon one hundred and twenty nine (eleven more will be discovered) elements became free moving and also collided which became the chemistry of the universe. And the collisions became greater, the fusions occurred more often, planets formed, reactions became chains, the masses so great, planets and constellations and the make up of the planetary system of the universe became as it is known.

When he is asked, the scientist explains that his Theory of Uniform Forces can be likened to an infinity symbol. The nothing at the extreme edge of the symbol is catapulted to the extreme edge at the other side and as it passed through the centre the friction of the movement of nothing produces the carbon residue, the process cannot be stopped. As Percival perfected the theory and expanded it into a major thesis many strange things began to happen. The first time he won a substantial sum on the lottery was considered a wonderful financial bonus, the second pure luck, on the third win he began to think about what was happening to him in a different light as each of the wins was over one hundred thousand pounds. Nothing seemed to be a problem if he asked for anything he received a positive answer, his health improved so much he returned to cycling his three speed Raleigh.

One night he woke up during a dream, nothing unusual in this other than the dream continued in his waking state. He could see himself standing above the centre of a huge infinity symbol, below the symbol the Earth. He saw a beautiful house with an observatory in the garden. The image was to the right of the infinity and it was immediately mirrored on the left and instantly the two disappeared. Percival drifted back into a deep sleep waking half an hour or so later than the normal time. After showering and dressing he sat at the breakfast table eating toast and drinking strong breakfast tea. Turning the pages of the local paper he came across an advertisement for a property, the exact same one he’d dreamed of.  Should he or shouldn’t he?

The agent asked if Professor Winston had called earlier “No this is my first call” he answered “I’m only asking because I’m half an hour later in the office than I normally arrive, if the traffic had not been so slow you would have missed me. How can I help you professor?”  “The property you have with the observatory, can I view it?” Perry Walsgrave only placed the property on the market yesterday, he could not believe his luck “No problem professor, when would you like to view?” “Whenever you can collect me from my home and take me to view the property. I do not drive and you will pass my house as you drive out of the city” “Very good I will collect you at twelve on the dot” “Is the advertisement correct when it describes the sale as complete with its contents?” “Yes, sir, it is, when the previous owner died his will stated it must be sold in this way and as the family have no interest for anything other than the money, its worked out very well”  Perry collected Percival at noon and the pair arrived at ‘La Rochelle’ twenty minutes later. The two liked each other, both were in their own way frauds and like seemed to attract like. Normally a viewing would take half an hour when Perry looked at his watch it was three, Percival had explored every room and when walked out into garden he made a bee line for the domed building. He’d never taken too much notice of observatory’s before this moment, even though much of his academic work revolved around the Universe, space and physics. His only certain knowledge was that the moon controlled the tides. Do not think that even though the Professor had bought his original doctorate he had let the illusion perpetuate. Far from it, he’d been associated with the academia long enough to become accepted as possessing a superior intellect, and in any event non would question a Nobel prize winner for fear of being revealed as ignorant themselves.

As the agent unlocked the door of the large round building his client remembered a certain feeling of happiness from somewhere in the past, a warmth like the coal fire burning in the family living room on Christmas mornings. The telescope two meters long and about half a meter wide, made of brass and suspended on a steel frame half the size of the observatory chamber took on the same wonderment as his first book, chemistry set, microscope. As the old man sat on the chair in front of the eyepiece he seemed to be in fear of looking though it, even though the shutters to the sky were closed. “Are you feeling alright Professor?” “Oh! Yes, young man I could not be better.”

After Perry disclosed the asking price he listened to Percival’s request “I will come back to you in the next few days Perry my friend, I ask you not to allow anyone else to view it until I give you an answer” The younger man seemed hypnotised “If I buy this house you will sell the one I live in now, do you understand this my friend?” “I do Professor Winston, I do”  Perry could never explain why he held onto the property for the professor. A wait which turned out to be three weeks. He just felt he would in some way lose ‘something’ if he let the house go to anyone else. Later when Perry drove by the property  he thought about the weeks after the sale. Old man Leonard dying and leaving the business to him, his mothers miracle of returning to health, his daughter’s illness which prevented her traveling on the ill-fated school trip on which so many of her friends were killed, the University, council and power company contracts. Though out his life Perry’s belief in Professor Percival Winston had never faltered. The old man had asked him for trust, which he’d given and in some way his life changed.

His wife always said “Not that old nonsense again Perry” when he talked about being ‘touched’ by a magician the day he met the professor. He remembered the professors strange words after agreeing to hold on to the house and allow no other viewings  “Do you know the shape of an infinity sign Perry?” “I do” The two words were like a bride committing to her spouse. The old man took a piece of blackboard chalk from his pocket and drew the shape on the paving stone “What do you wish for Perry?” “To be happy, healthy and wealthy, the same as anyone else” he replied “Take this chalk and draw a symbol which represents your desire to the right of the infinity” he hesitates “Go on, go on take a chance” The estate agent drew a smiling face over which he wrote the word ‘happy’ “So be it Perry. Whenever you wish for something you now know what to do.”

“If I were to stay on here as full time professor of science would you be prepared to finance a home for me Chancellor Peak?” “How much would we be talking about?” “Eight-hundred thousand and the deeds should be in my name, I would pay half of my salary toward repaying an interest free loan, you’ll get the money back in seven years” He was worth it, the students fee’s could be increased by ten percent with his presence as a resident professor, the university would attract students from all over the world. Yes, this was a deal he could do. “If the board of governors agrees to my request, all aspects of the contract must be disclosed, nothing to be hidden, do you understand?” “Yes, Percival I do.”

The Governors agreed without debate or question. Chancellor Peak remembered thinking in a board room full of ego’s surely there should have been some descent, on that day a unified group of scholars loaned eight hundred thousand pounds interest free, to a professor of science with an original dubious doctorate without a second thought. The board became good friends and worked without hidden agendas after the lesson learned from Percival’s request for transparency of the terms of his contract. A seat on the Board of Governors is highly sought after, each seat is known as ‘A Seat of Gold’. The privileged members all seem to have incredible health, great fortune and success. The University has built kindergartens, preschool centres, public schools with scholarships, specialist schools of higher education. Hundreds of scientists, physicians, humanistic business leaders from this University have discovered wonderful new ways to make the lives of millions of people fulfilling and purposeful. Gofranmyre is recognised as the centre of humanistic excellence in the highest echelons of education. This is not to write every graduate has honoured the University, far from it, there are many who have abused their learning and used the knowledge and wisdom to their own ends.

The Nobel Prize winner moved into ‘La Rochelle’ and from the first evening onward every clear night he studied the sky. When the sky was hidden by cloud he read in the house’s library which contained every imaginable book on astronomy, mathematics, navigation and certain occult texts. Most astronomers begin by watching the moons surface and Captain Hughes the previous owner had left extensive notes about differing eyepieces, angles of measurement, rotation of the observatory. It was almost as if the Captain had anticipated that after his fatal heart attack the new owner would either be or become an astronomer and had left the most incredible records of how to use and look after his telescope. The meticulous sky charts and records were written in such a clear and precise way that even a child who could read would be able to fathom out the secrets of the observatory.

As the years passed Percival became a real expert in the field of astronomy. He began to realise Theory of Uniform Forces was very near to or the certain truth of the creation of the Universe. More startling was the realisation that anyone who began to study this work seemed to enter a world where misfortune and problems disappeared.  One evening sitting by the libraries large fire he exhaled the cigarette smoke from his lungs and realised his original Noble prize was not won on a made up idea, the theory was indeed sound.  The movement of the electron in a frozen environment represented the thought of the atom moving faster than the speed of light in the Universe. The atom represented a man or woman within the creative  vacuum of the void anything could be created. Human being and Universe totally at one, not separated at one.

The Professor is loved by his students, the board of Governors and the people of Gofranmyre. Over the years he has attended many degree, doctorate and higher ceremonies of achievements made by his students. Chancellor Peak, the man who had arranged for the purchase of ‘La Rochelle’ and His old friend Perry Walsgrave the agent who showed him the house have long gone. He remembers Perry’s joy when his daughter Eve was awarded her doctorate, surely that must have been thirty years ago? He thinks of the day he realised he was no longer ageing and he was able to adjust time lines of his existence. The method was discovered when looking at the sky one evening. Upon realising the distance between two planets could be millions of miles in reality, but due to the perspective from where the two points were measured the distance was perceived as only a few inches he formulated his theory known as the ‘The Perspective of Time’ He gave the seed of the idea to Eve Walsgrave who in turn received her Nobel prize for what should have been Percival’s third accolade. For obvious reasons his name appearing three times over a span of seventy years could possibly cause confusion.

Every solid theory he gave to a younger student, would if they were to be combined with each other answer the eternal question of what is the purpose to life. The paradox was a life of ease, happiness and comfort was the way of humans existence. The tragedy of the paradox was that very few could see it. The more the intellectual learned, the more they searched. Percival knew ‘life’ was the answer and even though the ‘enlightened’ Gofranmyre students had an inkling of the truth, most soon forgot the ethos, many believing themselves gods.

He selected one of his students to become a writer. Deciding it would be best if the person chosen were to be rebel, loner, renegade, foolish and experience the difficulties and tragedies of debt, heart-break, loneliness, betrayal and false accusation. These were necessary qualifications which would make him wiser, sharper minded, more worldly than many who possessed the greatest of formal accolades. Percival mentored the prodigy not in the learnings of science or arts. He taught him the way to navigate amongst the stars, look at the world he lived within. When he encouraged him to befriend those less fortunate or of ‘base’ mentality, the writer fell into the traps of alcohol, drugs, addictions and vice.  The Professor considered him his greatest triumph although those who knew the writer considered him as a failure. After he left ‘La Rochelle’ the scribe would indeed find life to be hard, cruel and unforgiving. Taking many blind alleys where greed, selfishness and anger waited to be discovered in the shadows, making and losing fortunes, making enemies because of his deceiving ways. It was inevitable he would learn how to rise above all that is conceived as civilisation and wander the Earth as an observer, in poverty.

The writer would become prosperous through a raw style which had its foundation in the hard lessons of life he experienced. It would be nearly four decades before he felt he should settle down. Before doing so he decided to return to see the man who had changed the way he thought and lived. He needed to understand why a man who knew so much, had educated and given the guidance for others to become wealthy beyond their wildest dreams, had seemingly neglected the only man he had taken a personal interest in.

As expected, the grounds and the house were immaculate. Few were allowed to pass through the gates of ‘La Rochelle’. Those who drove by the main gates could see into the gardens and would see the Georgian styled white house, its hard black tarmac drive, the lawns and tree’s and flower bed’s. From the road the traveller saw the grounds in the seasonal conditions, once through the gates the trees were covered in rich green leaves, grass as bright an emerald, the flowers in perpetual bloom for all of the year.

No letters delivered, all bills settled by the University, all correspondence delivered to the Professors lodgings. For as long as the writer could remember the property had been maintained by Gabriel and Michael, two brothers who worked day and night for the Professor. The visitor saw them tending the gardens as he walked toward the house. Gabriel called across from where he was pruning a small apple tree “He expected you today, you will find him in the library.”

In the library Professor Percival Winston sat in his leather chair, coals burned on the fire, he smoked his unfiltered cigarette, half full tumbler of Macallan Malt Whisky rested on the arm of the chair “Help yourself to a glass, fill it to the top and refill mine, sit next to me” The writer did as he was asked and sat on the floor next to the old man. As he gazed into the fire he seemed to imagine imps and small human like images in the flames, the vision made him feel uncomfortable.

“It has been thirty years or more since we were together, I’ve though of you many times what has time taught you?”

“I know we all die. And all is imagined. Everything comes from nothing and nothing is everything.  A human will only know what is within his mind and when the mind sleeps there is nothing.”

The old man replies “The body is slave to the mind. The body is content when it is comfortable and without anguish. No amount of repair will evade the finality of death. No theory will overwhelm the inevitable and it is in the interest of those who think they are at the highest echelon of learning to understand this. I am not a creator. I am only a thought, in the same way who ever reads your work should understand that everything they see, think and experience is only within their own mind.”

“Are we nothing?”

The Professor lights another cigarette, drinks half his tumbler of whisky. He seems to hesitate before he answers.

“In the years we were together, I told you all about my life. Buying the doctorate and the using the false document to gain access to the real places of learning. I made up two theories which were later to become accepted as possibilities. You were shown the power of the occult symbol of infinity and still chose to live a life of anguish, causing pain to others and even more to yourself. You are like all human’s you fail to accept and see what is the right way or path. As a result you fight against the tides of life. All humans are in truth lazy, which is why they allow fools to control and ruin their lives. My life is testament to how to succeed, the theories can be used as meditations to find real happiness and peace, although I doubt one man or woman will be able to decipher the words.  I created you and the individual who will read these words and the individual who created these words and this story is reading it now.”

When I left the Professor that day I suspected I would never see him again. I still have the lighter he gave me before we said goodbye “The flame of life is soon expired, keep my lighter to remember this my child.” I have it before me now and it is the only proof I have he existed. A few days ago I wish to revisit ‘La Rochelle’ I rode along the coast road on my motorcycle and at the place just past the bend where the house should have been was an apple orchard. On a sign by the gate was written “Windfall”.

Murderous Thoughts

My fellow commuters know me to be a jovial, kind and generous man, indeed the delightful Miss Penny (A telephone receptionist) once asked “Mr Bruntingthorpe, how can you be so happy”? I looked into her violet eyes and with honesty I replied “It’s my wife, my dear” And she settled back to her romantic novel, secure in the knowledge she was in company of a delightful man.

A paragraph from the short story ‘Mr Bruntingthorpe’ which can be found in my latest book ‘Flash Fiction and Short Stories’.

Wanted

Wanted ~  Memories and Dates in the Past

Murderous Thoughts

When a character is murdered within one of my stories he will meet his demise by a feasible method.  Baseball bat, knife, strangulation, drowning or poison and his death will usually be a swift one. Real murder is most often a spontaneous crime and the assailant is safer if the act is swiftly executed, so as to make good his flight from the scene of crime.

If one is writing about revenge attacks and murder then, torture and prolonged misery is warranted within the description.  It seems female writers are more adept at describing horrendous and sustained methods of murder or revenge. And male writers are like myself tend to describe the method in a more definitive way. The human enjoys the murder mystery and I wonder why.  The macabre is a popular subject for any writer to enjoy.  Books written about zombies are the biggest sellers of all! People like death.

Who would commit murder?

Some years ago I considered murdering a woman.  And as the source of my anger (one has to be angry to plot a murder) was a matter of the heart I decided a representation of Eros’s arrow by the way of a crossbow bolt was to be the instrument of demise. I envisaged the bolt being released and penetration the heart and as she fell to the ground her last thoughts would be of sorrow and shame.  At this time I had access to lethal poisons.  The other party would die a difficult death as the chemical destroyed the liver and kidneys.  Best of all the poison has a bitter taste, he lived alone and I knew how to get into his house… Coffee jar here I come! Soon my thoughts wandered.  How could I kill the woman and frame him for the murder, this became a far more interesting proposition and for a number of weeks I worked upon the conundrum.  Fortunately, time and new friends are great healers and by the time the plan had been honed to perfection I no longer cared about the situation. There has to be a very good reason to take the risk.

The hatred of the victim must outweigh, risk of detection and punishment. Pre-meditation of a murder and then the fulfilment of the crime really does justify a higher tariff when the judge passes sentence and this deterrent must be effective. This is one of the reasons most murders are spontaneous crimes.  Rarely is the result of killing the victim so gratuitous that the punishment is of no importance, and this type of character can make a story captivating.

Even the good have a breaking point.

A good friend recently told me of his meeting with a man who had made a vindictive comment about his character on a social website.  I had read it, there’s no doubt the words were the strength of sulphuric acid and the scars left although not visible had had an effect. As he relived the meeting I realised the slanderous villain would have been very near to a beating. The kind, generous friend said to me ‘Ian, it frightened me, I really wanted to kill him’ No one who knows this fellow can see him other than a pacifist who genuinely cares for his friends, he continued ‘God knows how I controlled myself, all I wanted to do was to put my hands around his throat and choke the life out of him’. Everyone has a breaking point.

I have known three victims.

One a victim of a road rage stabbing. The second shot by her father and the third is a recent tragedy so I’ll not be writing of the details in this essay.  What I know for certain is the three were kind, happy, truthful and loving, yes, they were superb human beings and it was a privilege to have known them. Two knew their assailants and this is an interesting observation, because in a world where many are in fear of strangers, statistics show people known to us can become our most dangerous foe.  And the effect of the crime is like a ripple from the epicentre effecting many people, family, friends, investigators, jury and the social system.  On a personal level the third murder turned around many beliefs and to my mind  affirmed that the grace of forgiveness cannot always be given.

Lessons learned which the writer may consider.

Live each moment as if it is your last.  Walk away from conflict.  Rise above vindictiveness. Refuse to become involved in petty argument or contribute to the argument of friends.  Ignore public displays of hatred or derogatory comments made by fools, the best way to deal with criticism is to ignore it, as the moment one takes up the sword it is difficult to put it down without being seen to be bully or defeated, either way the knight becomes the loser.

I believe the best authors understand and empathise with the human condition and each time his character does not walk away from conflict, does not rise above vindictiveness, becomes involved in petty arguments, the writer has the story!

The successful writers understand the mind. How did Colin Dexter make Inspector Morse such a powerful character?  He made him, the crimes and methods used by the murderer/s believable.  It seems to me that the hard hitting excess in some stories can quickly become boring.  Working the plot and giving the characters difficulties to be overwhelmed based upon feasible parameters makes for excellent and powerful reading.

Man’s most evil act

It’s interesting to me man’s most evil act – That of taking another mans life is the subject of one his most enjoyed pastimes.  Murder mysteries, stories, serial killers, homicidal maniacs.  Is it violence, right defeating wrong (sometimes) or the conundrum of solving the mystery which appeals?

The crime is fictitious and does not effect the reader. The crime is reality and the reader finds it horrific. If the taking of life can effect the sane man with disgust, why is it acceptable within fiction? Does fictional murder serve another purpose?  Is the ability to watch and explore a drama help with being able to cope with other situations?  Does play acting and attempting to solve the mystery help when we have to:-

1. Understand.

2. Accept.

3. Reason.

4. Care.

5. Forgive.

6. Forget.

…The realities of actual events within our lives.  Is this the crux of fictional writing?  When the reader becomes immersed into unreal situations which are paradoxically attuned to inner fears is the reader more involved in the drama?  Does the drama train the mind, exorcise the devils within the psyche? The writer who can harness this thought will make the story lines sparkle.

What happens when you think about your greatest fear and write a story around it?  It becomes alive because you understand it.  Could the enjoyment of the murder mystery have another aspect to it? Could the murder story represent other situations?  What happens if the killer represented global warming, destruction of the rain forest and the victim is the human race, the planet Earth? Is the drama a powerful reflection upon society?  Its even possible the drama is a gateway to the acceptance of the annihilation of cultural traditions.  The realities are unseen killers, global warming, over population, poverty, these are all killers many humans seem to accept as an inevitable consequence of the play of existence.

When the politician talks of peace he’s often taking about war and death.  We live  within an ever changing environment on a planet which is a victim terrible neglect, are we not all murderer’s? Is it possible the minds conscience use’s fiction as an escape valve?  If you are a writer this is an aspect worthy of consideration.

I give copies of my short stories for my friends to read and after reading a story called ‘The Meal’ I asked my critic what she felt. ‘Oh! I hated her, I knew someone just like the hag, and I was so pleased with the stories end, I feel better for reading it’ !  If Di is the only person who enjoys the character I’m happy.  We write for ourselves and maybe writing is about freeing ones own demons.

The writer who understands and takes time to work out how to connect to a man or woman’s inner fears, so as the reader can experience them though their imagination may not write a masterpiece, he will write work which stays within the mind of the reader.

Liar

See Truth

See Truth

Fulfilling Faults

A No One in a World of Billions.

Truth.

A cigarette. An excess of alcohol. A mind fogged. Why am I here.  What is this fool talking about?  The world would say ?  Nothing.  Because there is nothing to say.  What do you care?  About your next door neighbour. Or a so named best friend.

Someone, ruining me on their night of revenge.  A stranger, liar, deceiver.

No thing? What will remain? If this liar’s sword takes me.  Yes – Questions.  No – Questions.  Questions without answers. Lie’s – Questions. Police – Questions?

They asked…Why would you keep the ticket? Why would you take the photograph?  Why would you write down what is said?  And I say to the social protector called law enforcer… ‘Because I do’  And his lies, his need to be a social proclaimer, need to be a social adjuster, need to be..the law. Not an upholder of the law says.. ‘I don’t believe you’

Anger swells in my being.

‘What? You thief of dignity?  I AM talking to you in Truth. Truth. Truth. Truth.  You have failed to solve the crime and now blame the innocent.  Win at all costs. One failure has degraded all of your victories.  And I ask myself if you have ever been fair to anyone.  Malicious man of hate.

This is my now compromised reality.  Those who who uphold the law, find all in their world guilty.  They force the innocent into crime. Turn the truthful into liars.

This is the madness of situation. Circumstance. Wrong place – Wrong time – Why was I born? And no friends now.

Everyone who wants to succeed feeds upon the success of those already in success.  The majority believe success is an island worth living on.  And, take the risk ignore the danger and enter the maelstrom. Soon they believe they are winners with the illusional trophy named ‘Success’ –  In truth they raise the garland of a fool.  There is a possibility of real integrity, somewhere, and this liar, this officer of law has placed my view of truth beyond the horizon, there is only storms and darkness ahead.  How many stories of innocents languishing in prisons are fact?

A liar accuses – Ruins all and blames the victim.

All for what?  Nothing!  Life now becomes a series of lies.

An essay of the madness I felt when being accused by a police officer of a crime I could not have committed.

Grrrr-‘ah…ma

Interest is everywhere - atmosphere rules imagination

Interest is everywhere – Atmosphere rules imagination

Could you use this as an imagining room? I could use it.

What would I play on the record player?  Would I be taken back to the 1940’s, bombing overhead, Nottingham’s industry a useful target for Germany’s Luftwaffe. Outside, the unlit Mansfield Rd and on it my shop doorway which provides shelter for Rose the prostitute’s ten minute or less love affairs. Some-times a black marketeer uses it when exchanging meat for stockings, their trades favour darkness and darkness will be come their thoughts, memories, futures.

If you stand with your back to my shop door and look directly across the road you can often see train smoke and hear the rumble of the engine and carriages, they cannot be seen as they have already entered the tunnel which take the passengers and goods to the East Coast routes. Turn left and it is uphill, I walk this way every evening to The Lincoln Poacher Pub, its where I exchange items I purchase during the day, for beer, whisky, food. Sometimes people are so desperate they will trade petrol coupons for a material desire, these are my gold mine, ten gallons worth of coupons for one gold sovereign. There are many of them hidden away, the war has along way to go until the final shot is fired, the last man killed, the days of reckoning which will never end, and when the end comes I will expect to have two thousand of the gold tokens, just think, two thousand of them, I quickly earned the price of my shop, all from the war, we profit from this madness, and the guilt will turn many insane from the greed.

Two hundred years ago the condemned were executed on the gallows which stood on the crossroads only 600 yards away. When they came for me, and charged me, and found me guilty, and sentenced me, and hung me, I thought of the gallows at the top of the hill, the Shipstones bitter I drank in the ‘Poacher’  – they called me Black Marketeer – I looked at the Judge as he put on his black cap and thought of his clerk swapping sovereigns for petrol coupons. Here I am in my shop, looking at the junk, only two feet away from two thousand bright golden coins. I have been waiting for seventy years and no one sees me.

Grammar? Who cares? Story? Everyone cares…….

The Wind Is Always There

The Wind Is Always There

Sometime we are within ourselves. There are memories. Thoughts of many episodes.

We reflect upon nothings which were something once.

We may, look or decide to make impossible changes which we know are pipe dreams.

Sometimes, many times, we are blessed to be in the presence of someone who we know is an impossible dream. The thoughts, dreams, desires of what we could achieve, have little more than a ‘Disney’ truth.

The total solitude of our life is the reality…

I know only a few certainties…

The sky is always waiting.

The sun will glow each day.

Selina the Moon rules the tides.

And… No matter how much I desire life…

The final sleep awaits.

When I stand in solitude on a beach.

The Wind Is Always There.

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