Shirley – 3.

The movement of the train, not a rocking as in the old days but a movement nonetheless, was soporific. The air felt pre-breathed and stuffy as if the oxygen content was diminished. Shirley took off her coat and bundled it onto the seat beside her. When the buffet cart came she bought water and a chicken sandwich for later and a cup of coffee for now. The young man who brought the trolley had eyes that sparkled at her as he handed over the packets and cups and then a paper napkin wrapped around a little handful of sugar containers and a thin wooden stick to use for a spoon. “Anything else I can get you now?”

“No, no thank you.”

“My pleasure, you have a nice journey.” He nodded at her and turned away.

As he moved off, pushing the cumbersome wheeled device full of chocolate and beverages she turned to watch him go. In recent years, since she’d been in her fifties, she had lost the ability to judge the ages of people she bumped up against, especially the younger ones. He must be in his twenties, was there a wife, maybe a curly-haired baby with the same sparkling eyes and innocent grin. The thought of the little family cheered her.

Her coffee was good, though a proper cup would have made it perfect. But there, this was a journey and on a journey things were different.

Other people in the carriage, only five of them, were busy with laptop computers and ticking at their phones. One woman leafed through a magazine and nibbled constantly at nuts from a small cellophane bag, a guilty rattle told of each forage.

Shirley let herself settle. She didn’t close her eyes but they rested unfocused in the middle distance and the small sounds became a burble. She could sit like this forever. She could make herself believe that she had been in this seat for all time, nothing behind her. No pain or heartbreak, none of the fear and none of the endless struggle to make sense of it all. Just Shirley, a cup of coffee and the warm humming womb of the train. She reached into her pocket to find the crystal and drew out instead the fluffy rabbit. It looked a bit forlorn now, the fur bedraggled and disturbed, the well chewed ear had hardened as it dried. She combed it with her fingers and then once he was smart again placed him carefully into her shopping bag and folded her thin scarf around it, just his button eyes and cotton nose poking out and the ears flopping over the top. She took the bag and settled it on her lap and sighed as she drifted with the journey.

Passengers came and went. At one point the carriage was almost full and a thin teenaged girl slid onto the next seat. She didn’t take up much room and almost immediately plugged in earbuds and closed her eyes. The hiss and whisper of noise was irritating but though Shirley shuffled and huffed there was no reaction from her travelling companion. Her nerves tingled and she clutched the shopping bag tightly to her and began reciting the alphabet backwards, slowly, slowly, Z. Y, X, W.  As it happened the girl left the train at Wigan and no other interloper occupied the space.  The difficult moment had passed like so many others.

It ended too soon, just four hours and she was ejected into the bustle and rush of the major station.

The light outside was white and yes, as she had feared the wind was cold but once she had climbed the slope to the street she was overwhelmed by the beautiful strength of the city. The buildings gave the impression that they had grown tall and strong from the rocky ground and would stand forever. Spires and chimneys and windows winking in the low wintery sun. She stood for a moment turning her head back and forth. Without warning one of those nasty frissons of fear brought her skin to Goosebumps, but she clutched the bag tightly to her and thrust her other hand into her pocket to stroke at the Agate.

They hadn’t had a holiday for a long, long time, well of course they hadn’t but she could still remember the ones from when they were first married, ones from when had been a child. What had they done? They had been to see things, to visit castles, and stately homes. Gardens and aquaria.  Across the road was a bus stop, a red, double-decker bus with an open top advertised tours of the city. She climbed aboard and up the narrow winding steps to take a seat at the back. A group of oriental people occupied the first six rows. They chattered like a cage of finches and clicked manically with their cameras, preserving the sites that they were too busy to see.

Just before the bus pulled away an elderly couple rose slowly to the upper deck. He carried a stick and clutched tightly at the rail, heaving himself up each painful step. His wife, for surely it was his wife, this lady with grey hair and a padded jacket, smiled at Shirley and nodded. She followed her man to the seat immediately behind the twittering photographers. He stood aside to usher his wife into the “better” seat on the inside and then touched her back gently as he flopped in beside her. Shirley experienced a moment of warm sadness.

Everyone should have that, everyone who had battled through the years of marriage, the wars and peace-making and the storms and tsunamis should, as they neared the end, wash up onto the sands of peace and understanding. She knew that she would not. It was too late. Bill had been swept away from her by the mad currents of life and now, no matter how they stretched and reached they would never really connect again.

She realised that in all the excitement of the morning and the train and greeting this wonderful city this was her first thought of Bill. She felt no anguish and felt no desire to be near him. He had left the house that morning without a word, with no backward glance and when he came home there would be bland and desultory conversation until he went into the little room upstairs that was now his study. There on the top of a tourist bus in what was in fact another country she realised that there was no love left for her husband. She also acknowledged what had been a fact for countable years, that he had lost any residual feeling for the person she had used to be. Before.

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Shirley – 2

There was a huge electronic notice board stretched above the platform entrances. Destinations, time, comments. They rolled and flashed and Shirley couldn’t compute the information she was being given. For a moment panic swelled. Her hands began to sweat, she reached into her coat pocket and took out the small, round gem stone. It was a pretty piece of Blue Lace Agate, she stroked the cool surface and tried to concentrate on her breathing. In and out, in and out – just the way Julie at the classes taught them. “In and out ladies, In and out. There is nothing to fear, there is nothing to worry about – In and out.” Her nerves went off the boil.

The ticket, when she had found it in the bottom of her bag said Edinburgh Waverly, there were some numbers and the departure time – eleven fifteen. There it was on the notice board, platform 12B. Shirley glanced at her watch. It was ten forty-five. She would have a cup of tea in the little café.


The buggy was parked beside an outside table. The baby had fallen asleep. One wet rabbit ear still touched the edge of the tiny rosebud mouth. A pale pink blanket had been kicked away and trailed on the floor. Shirley bent and tucked it under the plump little legs.

She glanced around looking for the mother. The child stirred and the rabbit fell from its hand. Shirley bent and picked it out of the buggy. “Hey!” She looked up startled as the young woman charged towards her from the newspaper stand at the corner of the café. Shirley held up a hand in supplication, her other hand stuffed the rabbit into her coat pocket.

“It’s alright, I’m sorry. The blanket was on the floor – it’s alright.” The young mother had grabbed the handle of the pram and as people in the café watched with their spiteful eyes and pursed lips Shirley scurried from the scene. She turned once, “I’m sorry, it was the blanket. It was just the blanket.” But there was only suspicion and anger and mistrust in her wake as she ran across the concourse, through the ticket barrier and down towards the platform. Her eyes were filled with tears and her heart pounded. It was only the blanket she told herself. Just the blanket and the small voice that sat in the darkest corners of her soul asked her quietly – “but why then do you have a rabbit in your pocket?”

While she waited on the dusty platform Shirley perched on the edge of a bench. Her knees pressed together and her feet jiggled up and down, up and down. A smart woman with a suitcase on wheels approached but after a moment of consideration turned away and walked further along the platform to stand and stare down the snake of tracks watching for the train.

Shirley was going to Edinburgh. She had never been to Scotland, she wondered if it would be cold. She had on her good wool coat but no gloves.

She was peckish now and wished there had been a chance to have that cup of tea. At the memory of the incident she curled a hand into her pocket and felt the damp fluffy rabbit. The lump in her throat made it hard to swallow and suddenly she felt confined and anxious. She poked underneath the stuffed toy to find her crystal and rubbed it round and round with her thumb. She stood and paced a while, back and forth her shoes making dull thuds on the concrete. There were tickets and sweet wrappers and it suddenly all felt grubby and unpleasant. She thought of the neat lounge and her cup and saucer already on the tray, the quiet comfort of her home and the clean bathroom. It wasn’t clear whether her need for the toilet had brought forth the memory of her bathroom or the image in her mind of clean tiles and shining bottles had messaged her bladder in some way. Whichever way around it was she needed the toilet but it was back in the main part of the station and she wasn’t sure exactly where. It was all becoming very worrying and uncomfortable. Really she wanted to be at home. She glanced at her watch, it was time for her morning coffee and here she was walking up and down in a dirty, draughty station. She would go home.

Half way to the stairs back up to the hustle and bustle the mists of panic in her mind cleared. She heard the announcement and turned to watch the engine. Small in the distance but growing bigger and bigger until in no time it was there. On the front above the big drivers window there was an electronic sign which changed as she watched it. ‘Edinburgh’. It was a bright red, happy looking train and the people clambering down were smiling and pulling suitcases and waving and it felt like a holiday and she decided that after all she would go. She gripped the rabbit tightly where it lay in the burrow of her good wool coat and when the disembarking crowd had moved away climbed into the train and found a seat by the window. As soon as they left she would use the toilet and then there would surely be a buffet car, after all it was going all the way to Edinburgh.

It wasn’t busy and nobody came to sit beside her and as it pulled away smoothly she felt her muscles untie themselves. As the station slid away behind her she found the toilet. It wasn’t very nice but she wiped round the seat with tissue before she hovered gingerly above the stainless steel bowl. Afterwards all was calm and comfortable and there was to be a trolley come round. She would wait for that and be served tea in her seat – it was an adventure.

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Not sure whether this will go anywhere but —


Shirley didn’t make a conscious decision to leave, not that day. Not that bright, sunny morning, as the children ran and jumped along the pavements on their way to the junior school on the corner. Not when Bill climbed into the Astra and reversed into the road without a glance to where she stood at the window, without the raise of a hand in acknowledgement of her presence behind the snowy white nets. Without any acknowledgement of her existence on the planet.

She left the house just after ten, her handbag slung over her shoulder, a canvass shopping bag swinging from her hand.

Down to the end of the road, past the school where there was a class of little children in the middle of a gym lesson. They chased balls and threw hoops and laughed and skipped and as she watched them her eyes filled with tears and she had to blow her nose on her snowy white handkerchief as she turned away and walked down the little hill towards town.

She meant to go to the chemist for her pills and then to the small supermarket for vegetables but the bus arrived at the stop just as she did. The door gave a swish of air and thudded open.

He feet turned her around and she climbed on board. “Morning.” The driver smiled at her and raised a hand to his ticket machine. She had nothing for him until a woman in the first row of seats coughed embarrassing her.

“The station please.” The words came from elsewhere but they would take her somewhere and so she dragged out her purse and paid the two pounds and tore the fragile ticket away from the machine.

There were plenty of empty seats but she walked to the back, she didn’t like people behind her. If they were behind her she wouldn’t be able to see them if they pointed, whispered, smirked and so she sat on the back row of seats with her handbag on her lap and a strange quiver in her stomach.

By the time the bus turned into the layby outside the station Shirley was the only passenger left.

The driver swung his little half door open and grabbed his bag and coat. Only as he was about to leave did he notice that he still had a charge sitting on the rearmost seat staring out of the window beside her.

“Alright love. This is as far as we go.” She turned her head to look at him, coming back from a place of flashing colours as cars had sped past and flickering green in the top of her eyes as the sun had winked through leaves to mock her with brightness.

“Oh right, yes sorry.”

“You were miles away then weren’t you?”

“Yes, I’m sorry.” She scuttled down the narrow aisle and stepped onto the pavement. She stopped and the driver nudged her with his bag as he swung it to his shoulder. “Oh sorry love, sorry. Didn’t hurt you did I?” She shook her head and moved away, swept along by a group of young people who were heading towards the ticket office. She joined the queue because there was a woman with a pushchair and the tiny child inside smiled at her. It was chewing on a grey rabbit that was soggy with saliva and the huge eyes fixed on Shirley in the unblinking way that only a baby’s can. Shirley wiggled her fingers, the baby chewed harder on the ear of the plush rabbit, more drool running across its chin. It was a clean, well-cared for child. There was a nappy bag hanging on handle of the buggy and a cloth book hanging from the hood. The mother was jiggling the pram back and forth in the way that mothers do and as it rocked the child’s eyes remained locked with Shirley’s.

It was a small grief when the negotiation for tickets was completed and the tiny human wheeled away into the crowd and now Shirley found herself pushed forward by the growing queue behind her. The ticket seller was a fat woman, her lank hair needed a wash and on the counter beside her was a half-eaten pasty. She didn’t speak, merely stared at Shirley her finger moving crumbs from the wrapping to her mouth. Shirley’s eyes were drawn to the thick, red lips, the angry looking spot just beside the woman’s nose. She was about to turn away when she heard a baby start to cry, it jangled her nerves the way that sound always did. She felt the panic begin to rise in time with the shrieking cry. “Edinburgh – single.”

The machine spat out two small pieces of card. “One hundred and twenty.”

“Sorry?” The number didn’t make sense.

“One hundred and twenty. You said single – yeah?”

“Yes, yes that’s right. Oh – just a minute.” Shirley scrabbled in her handbag and dragged out her card wallet. She pushed the plastic into the slot, punched the numbers. The little whirligig spun, presenting her with the cardboard ticket, the proof of purchase and the receipt for her debit card. She stared at them for moment in confusion until the fat woman coughed and leaned to the side, “Next” she called and the slim young man behind her stretched round, not touching her but effectively pushing her aside. She stepped away and pushed the card and tickets into her purse.


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Shakespeare and me

We were having a bit of fun recently writing poetry about Shakespeare’s characters. He would probably have bitten his thumb at us but not to worry – me and Will’s – bessies.


From The Scottish Play 

I’m peering at me Satnav

Glaring at me maps

I’ve asked the owls’ opinion

But they just scratched their caps

Last time I came up this way

Brinam wood was there

Just beyond the cow shed

Near the foxes lair

Now it’s gone down yonder

It’s driving me insane

The bloody trees and bushes

Have gone to Dunsinane


The Merchant of ?Venice???

Would you prefer some liver

Perhaps a bit of tripe

Could I press you to a sausage

The lovely spicy type

I’ll pop down to the chippy

Buy a bit of fish

Some pies, a quiche, a pasty

Anything but “this”

You don’t want lumps of human

Sitting on your plate

It’s tough and bland and stringy

With a flavour that you’d hate.

Or hang on just a minute

Look at what I’ve found

Down here in my pocket

A coupla thousand pound.

So, I’ll pay off all my owings

Clear my debt to you

Then let’s go and get bladdered

Can you do that as a Jew.


and the final insult to our dear dead friend


The Gravedigger from Hamlet

Diggin’ em up, when I’d planted em in

It’s a sin I can tells ya a blitherin sin

That Hamlet come traispin’, draggin a sigh

Rootin’ and ferklin, passin’ me by

Then as he sees it, grabbin’ it up

Bloodless old bone, nobbut but a brain cup

Then as I stands ‘ere, taking my ease

Restin’ my buttocks, easin’ my knees

‘E only starts rantin’, wailin’ with woe

How as ‘e knew ‘im, that Yorick you know

How as he loved ‘im, minded ‘im well

Laughed and guffawed at the jokes that he’d tell

How as he missed ‘im, missed ‘avin ‘im round

‘ow as it’s rotten, ‘im planted in ‘t’ ground

No sooner ‘e’s finished bemoaning that fate

Than ‘e starts on that new grave ower by ‘t’gate

The one I’ve been diggin’, in that hallowed ground

The one for that lass, the one they say drowned

They say it’s not right, that her death was a sin

I know nowt about that, I just slips em in

But princes and paupers and dead girls aside

It’s a rotten old world when there’s so much to ‘ide.


sorry Mr Shakespeare sir.


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I feel the rain, it’s gentle on my skin,

I hear the world, I hear the din.

I feel the breeze it cools my brow

I know where I am going now.

Don’t pity me because I’m old

Don’t cry because I’m blind

Let’s walk together in the rain

And see what joy we find.

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The Flat Share

“Phew, that’s better.  God a morgue, just imagine, you couldn’t tell though.  It just looked like a big room with sinks and stuff.  It was big yeah but I just thought it was a kitchen, well maybe a lab with those funny taps.  ‘Course I didn’t hang around did I just dumped the boxes.– eurgh.

“Oh, where’s the copper gone?”

“He’s gone off to speak to some of the others in his team he said.  I told him all about it Joanie, everything that we’d done, well that I’d done really I suppose.  I told him that you’d only got involved trying to help me and that it wasn’t really anything to do with you.

“He said that in spite of everything he believed me, his exact words were “”Nobody could make this up so it must be true””  Anyway, he said that now that we’ve taken the boxes back to the hospital it’s screwed up most of their work because if they’re still in the hospital there hasn’t been a crime as such.  They know that Samantha is fiddling the books though and so that’s probably the only thing that they can get her with.  He said that, as the boxes are still there she’ll be able to claim it’s a mistake.  They’ll be able to investigate past orders and stuff though and he says that he hopes that eventually they’ll make some sort of case but as all the other drugs have already been sold it’s not as good as it should have been.  He said that his cover was blown anyway now because they couldn’t bring the stuff back here and so they’ve had to impound so they only have paper-trail evidence.  They had been planning to catch her actually handling the stuff and now, well now they can’t.”

“I told him that we were really sorry and that if we could do anything to help then we would.  He said that he thought we’d done quite enough.  I don’t think he meant it in a good way.”

“No, probably not.  Mind you looking on the bright side, I guess that means that it’s all over doesn’t it?  I mean he knows about the bra, he wasn’t that bothered, he knows that we didn’t do anything else illegal and so that’s about it really.  Hey, it’s over Charlie, don’t you see?  Now that they know everything, even if Samantha comes back she’s got no hold over you.  Mind you I don’t think we’ll see her again do you, not now?”

“No, I expect not, he said that they would probably cut their losses and start the inquiry tomorrow so that’s that.”

“Blimey, it’s been different I’ll say that.  Hey come on smile, it’s all over.”

“It is isn’t it?”

“Yeah.  Tomorrow I’ll talk to that girl at work and see if she’d like to come and share with you, if you still want me to.  She’s lovely and I’ve known her for ages.”

“Great, yeah, please.  Joanie, you really are the best friend anybody could have you know.  I’m sorry I put you through all of that, I really am.”

“Oh, go on what’re friends for eh?  Hey, I just thought of something.”


“There’s a bottle of champagne in the fridge isn’t there?”

“Erm, yeah I think so.  It’s Samantha’s though.”

“Oh bloody hell Charlie go and get the buggering thing out, this calls for a celebration.”

“You know Joanie, you really should stop swearing.”


The End

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The One With No Name

So, you remember that story that we had here that couldn’t decide what it wanted to be called.

Well it decided it wanted to be Twist of Truth and here it is all finished and polished and “out there”

Twist of Truth



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The Flat Share

Chapter 20 

“Okay, so you’re telling me that, before the card in the shop window advertising for a flat mate, you had never met Samantha Turner?”

“Yeah, no I hadn’t.”

“And although she agreed to take the room she never actually stayed here?”

“No, well she might have done once but I’m not sure because she said she was, then in the middle of the night she was carting boxes up and down the stairs and so I don’t know if you can count that.”

“But, in spite of never staying here she gave you two months rent and contributed to the housekeeping?”

“Housekeeping, no, no.  She didn’t do that.”

“I thought you said she filled the freezer and bought wine?”

“Oh, yeah she did that, I thought you meant she’d done the dusting, which she didn’t.”

“Okay, right.  When you became aware of the boxes, you decided to have a look and that’s when you discovered they were drugs?”

“Yeah, although that was more Joanie than me.”

“Oh, thanks Charlie.”

“Oh, what? No I was just saying, you know.  I wouldn’t want him to think I was nosey, although I suppose I am but it was you, wasn’t it, it was you that opened that box?.  I’m glad you did of course, well actually, maybe I’m not but.”

“Ms Reid. Could you try and keep to the point?”

“Oh yeah, yeah, course, right.”

“So, then when Ms Turner discovered that you had opened the boxes she blackmailed you into agreeing to store them for you and to accept more?”

“Yeah, that’s when you came.  It’s a bit odd that by the way, I think it’s a bit odd anyway, isn’t that entrapment or something?  Don’t you think it’s odd Joanie, him being a policeman?”

“Yeah, I do, I said that already.  It’s all bloody odd if you ask me.”

“Ladies, please can we not go down that road again?  Police procedure isn’t really your concern.  Can we get back to the blackmail?”

“Look before we do that can I just say that I was very low.  Depressed, probably almost mentally ill actually.  Yeah, the balance of my mind was disturbed.”


“Yes.  I think so.”

“Why don’t you just tell me what happened, simply, slowly?”

“Okay, well I was feeling pretty miserable, no money, overdraft, well not really an overdraft because I hadn’t ever.”


“Well it’s relevant, I think it’s relevant don’t you Joanie?”

“Not really, but you carry on.”

“Are you mad with me?  Is it about opening the box?”

“No, I’m not mad.  I’m just actually very, very tired.”

“Yeah.  Okay so, I went into Marks and I was just walking around and then I saw this bra.  It was really pretty, underwired.”


“Oh,yeah I suppose that’s not really… Well I don’t know what came over me. I’ve never, ever done anything like that before but, well.  I put it in my bag.”

“You stole it?”

“Well kinda.”


“Well yeah, you see I did but then when I got outside I got really scared and so I took it back.”

“You took it back?”

“Yeah, and hung it on a rack.”

“So, you didn’t steal it?”

“Well, to be absolutely honest I suppose I did but not for very long and I never put it on or anything so really I just took it out and then took it back.”

“So, you almost stole a bra.  How did this lead to blackmail?”

“Ah, well Sam –bloody- mantha had filmed me on her ‘phone.”

“Yes, and?”

“Erm well, she had film of me and then she stole a pile more underwear and put it in the drawers.  Also, she’d given me the money and bought food and wine and stuff.  She said that it’d make it look as though I, erm we, were involved.”

“I see.”

“Would it?”


“Would it look as though we were involved?”

“Would taking a – bra – out of Marks and Spencer, taking it back in again, letting a room in your house and having a freezer full of frozen food make it appear that you were involved with an international drug smuggling organisation.  Well, to be honest I find it hard to see how.“However, this brings us to the next issue.  Why did you take the boxes back to the hospital and leave them in the derelict morgue?”

“The what?  Eurgh, the morgue, oh God.  I’ve been in a morgue, oh god, aah.”

“Ms Rook, calm down.  Please just sit down, where are you going?”


“What? No you’re not, please sit down.”

“No way.  Oh no, I’ve been in a morgue, oh my god, no I’ll have to go and have a shower.”

“Ms Rook, Please sit down!  Ms Rook, come back.  Ms Rook.”

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The Flat Share

Chapter 19

“Good evening ladies, how are you.  Hello again Ms Reid, how’s the arm.”

“S’alright, bit sore, I’ve got some pills.”

“Yes, yes, good.  Now then, this is all very interesting isn’t it.  Would you like to take a seat Ms, erm?”

“Joanie, Rook.  No, I’ll stand thanks.”

“Oh, well fine, as you wish.  Now then.  You have been busy haven’t you?  My goodness you led us a bit of a dance and no mistake.  You really are going to have to fill me in.  I have to admit that we are totally bemused by your behaviour.”

“Okay, before we go any further, you’ve shown us your i.d. but who are you actually.  And what’s all this we, we business.  Who’s we and, come to that, what were you doing delivering stolen drugs here?  I think this is all bloody odd to be frank, how do we really know that you’re a police man anyway hmm?  Well, are you going to answer?”

“Okay, Ms Rook.  We, are a team who have been working on this drug scam for over a year.  We, are a squad of police officers who have spent countless hours and endless days and thousands of pounds of public money trying to track down all of you.  It seems that now we have had a small measure of success.  I have to admit that you have puzzled and confused us and that is why I am here now, not to put too fine a point on it, I, we, want to know just what’s going on now.  Why this change in arrangements and just exactly where do you ladies fit into the whole organisation?  You can talk to me now, you can come and talk down at the station, it’s up to you but you might as well start talking because we have you “Bang to Rights” as they used to say.  We have film of you with the drugs and I personally delivered boxes here to this address so let’s not mess about and waste time ok.”

“Oh, Joanie, erm.”

“It’s okay Charlie, leave this to me, yeah.  Okay Mr Policeman.  First of all we are not part of anything; we’re nothing to do with any organisation.  We are victims, here, well, me not so much but my friend, Charlie, she’s a victim of blackmail. So, what’re you gonna do about that eh?”

“Blackmail.  That’s a serious charge.  Ms Reid would you like to explain just exactly how you’ve been blackmailed and by whom?”

“Well, um – shall I Joanie, shall I just tell him all about it?”?

“You don’t seem to understand Ms Reid, your friend isn’t running this game, I am, I am a policeman.  The way that it usually works is that I ask you a question, you answer, we don’t often go through a third party.  Oh, unless of course your friend here is a solicitor in which case we can do this officially, I can arrest you if you think that’d work for you.  The other option is for you to just stop farting about and just answer my question.”

“Hey, are you allowed to use language like that? – You being a cop an’ all.”

“Ms Rook, I won’t tell you again, just sit down and shut up.  I don’t think you have yet realised that you are in serious trouble.  Sit down! shut up.”

“Hey, don’t speak to Joanie like that, you shouldn’t be so rude.  This is my house you know.”

“Bloody hell.  Right ladies, let’s stop all this.  Mr Rook please don’t speak again unless I speak to you first.  Ms Reid tell me why you think you’ve been blackmailed, without referring to anyone else.  Just for Christ’s sake tell me about the sodding blackmail.”


“Well, this is not the way they do it in Morse, I’ll bet I could get you into serious trouble yourself Constable, erm.”

“Thorp. Detective Sergeant Thorp.  I’m warning you now, you have just about gone as far as I am going to let you.  Start answering my questions or I will arrest you both now and you’ll be in the nick for the rest of the night.”

“Oh, well okay.  SOS and all that. God.  Right well it was all because of a bra.”


“What, oh have I got it wrong again Joanie.”

“Right, right that’s it, both of you get your coats, we’re going down to the station.”

“No, no, ow, ow, now look you made me move my arm.  I’m supposed to keep it still.  No, come on.  It’s been pretty awful has all this and Joanie’s only trying to help me.  I sometimes open my mouth and put my foot straight in it.  She’s only looking after me, she’s my best friend.”

“Please Ms Reid, don’t start crying.”

“Well, it’s all been horrible, and now I’ve got a broken arm.”

“Look, just tell me about the bra and the blackmail and how you became involved with Ms Turner.”

“Turner, who the – oh you must mean Sam – bloody – mantha. Well, that’s we call her anyway.”

“Okay, yes Samantha Turner.”

“Well, I was short of money.”


“Joanie?  Oh yeah, right, well okay, I advertised for a flat mate. To help with the bills, Samantha applied, she’s very pushy you know and so before I knew what was happening really she had taken the room.  Then she was never here, then she brought the boxes and then Joan – we opened them and then she came and saw us and then she just said that she was going to use the room for storage and we had to do as she told us and that was about it really.  Wasn’t it Joanie?”

“Blimey, how did you do that without taking a breath?  Yes, that was about it really officer.  We weren’t ever involved.”

“But, the blackmail, what about the blackmail?”

“Ah, well.  Let me tell this bit Joanie, you weren’t there after all.  That was the bra.”


“Yeah, lace, M&S”

“Oh god.”

“Are you okay constable?”

“Detective Sergeant.”

“Oh yeah, sos.”

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The Flat Share

Chapter 18

“Here ya go love, here’s your pain killers, how’re you feeling now?”

“Not too bad really, I’m still a bit spacey from that stuff they gave me before they set my arm ya know.  Thanks.”

“D’ya want anything else?”

“No, no I’m okay really, don’t worry.  Look I mean it really; I don’t want you feeling bad.”

“God Charlie, how can I not feel bad?  I broke your bloody arm.”

“No, no you didn’t.  An accident broke my arm.  Honest it wasn’t your fault.  If it hadn’t been for me we wouldn’t ’a been in this fix in the first place would we.”

“No, I know but I still feel rotten about it.”

“Well don’t, okay.”


“Anyway, listen – do you think it’ll have worked?”

“Well, I hope so.  We left the boxes of drugs in that room at the hospital.  Surely whoever finds ‘em is going to wonder where they came from and then they’ll have to start asking about and, well, you know.  The trail should lead back to Samantha and that should get her out of our hair.  That’s the idea anyway.”

“Fingers crossed then.  Thing is though, we won’t know will we, I mean how will we know whether or not they’ve been found.  It’s gonna be a bit grim just waiting and waiting isn’t it?”

“D’ya want to come back to mine for a bit.  Ya know with your arm and all, you could come and stay and then she won’t know where you are anyway.  Also, I can help you, cos after all at least until you get used to the plaster it’s going to be tricky isn’t it.”

“Well, that’s kind but what about Billy?”

“Well, what about him.”

“Well, it’s putting him out a bit really, and you haven’t got a spare room, with him having all his computer gaming stuff in your little bedroom.  No, I think I’d rather just stay here to be honest.  Thanks though, tell you what, you couldn’t stay for an extra night could you.”

“Yeah course I can, where are we now, Tuesday, oh sod it tell you what, I’ll stay till the weekend and then we’ll see what happens.  I’ll have to go into work but I’ll be back by just after half five and you should be able to manage during the day.”

“Yeah, I’ll need to ring them at the office in the morning.  I can’t face going in tomorrow so I’ll get sick leave till next week and then I’ll just have to see what we can work out.  I can go in and do light duties, the phone and what not.  Yeah, that’d be great if you stay till the weekend.  Thanks love.”

“Oh, shit that’s the door, I wonder if it’s Samantha. Oh but you gave her a key didn’t you?”

“Yeah, she usually just comes straight in. Look out the window.”

“Oh, it’s a bloke, a little bloke, wearing jeans and a brown jacket.  Any ideas?”

“No, no. I’m not expecting anyone.  Oh shit, has he got a lot of blonde hair, about five seven, skinny?”

“Yeah, that’s right, who is it.”


“Oh bloody hell, it’s the delivery bloke, the one who brought the drugs.”

“Oh shit, shit.  What are we gonna do now?”

“Erm, well, look, just don’t answer it.  He didn’t say he was coming back and so he doesn’t know we’re here. Oh, god he’s hammering again.  Oh shit that’s barmy Barry from downstairs opening the door.  Don’t let ‘im in Barry or I swear I’ll put dog poo through your letter box again.”


“What, oh er yes – long story, I’ll tell you sometime.  He deserved it anyway.”

“Bugger, he’s let him in.  He’s coming up the stairs. Oh what are we gonna do?”…

“Hello, hello.  I know there’s someone in. Would you open the door please?”

“No, bugger off. Go on piss off, we’re not letting you in.  Go on sod off slime ball.”

“Detective Sergeant Nick Thorp here madam, now come on open the door.”

“Oh Joanie, bloody hell fire, what now.”

“Okay, I’ll let him in.  We’ve no choice, but please Charlie, please keep your mouth shut okay.”


“And Charlie, please stop crying.”


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