Category Archives: Books
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and the New Year brings all that is good and peaceful.
If I may I want to take the opportunity to link to my Amazon Author Page. Thank you to everyone who has bought my books in 2016 and especially to those who took the time to leave a review. I hope that for all of my author friends the coming year is successful and fulfilling and for all of our marvelous readers you find books to thrill, delight and satisfy you.
and now… …
Fuzz had quickly overtaken Simon and sped on glancing down the side roads and alleys but when he reached the junction at the far side of the square he stopped and waited. “They’ve gone, I reckon they nipped down one a them ginnels.”
“Yeah, you’re right. What the hell was that about then? I mean why would they run away? She can’t have known we were looking for her. Shit. Look, you carry on, do a coupla turns round the square, maybe even a street over on each side. I’ll go back into that office, where you saw her come out, and see if I can find out what she was doing.”
“Okay, then we’ll go and get some breakfast yeah?”
“What, oh you and your belly. I’ll see. Just go on. If you see her ring me and I’ll come straight out. If you do, try not to spook her again.” Fuzz turned away and jogged down the road at right angles to where they stood. Simon walked back to the office building and pushed through the heavy glass doors.
As he approached the reception desk the girl lifted her head and smiled at him. He saw her eyes lock on the disfigured side of his face but her smile didn’t waver. “Good morning, how can I help you?”
He introduced himself and then described Flora, as much as he could from the picture and the fleeting glimpse he’d had as the two girls had sped away from himself and Fuzz. He had the print in his pocket but surely it would look a bit odd were he to bring it out. “She was supposed to meet me this morning and I think I missed her. She was planning on popping in here first…”
“Oh yes. She left in a bit of a rush, knocked the table.” The girl waved a hand towards the centre of the space. “She seemed a bit upset. I was trying to make her an appointment with Mr Rowntree but he wasn’t free. I wonder, when you meet her, could you suggest she gives us a ring.” She slid a business card from the top of a small pile on the desk and held it out. “I felt bad but it was the morning meeting you see.”
“Yes, I’ll tell her. Is he free now, Mr Rowntree? Only I could do with a word.”
“I’m afraid not. What is it you need, investment advice, savings… …? Only Mr Jones is free and for general advice it might be better if you see him.”
“No, it was Mr Rowntree I needed. Any chance I could see him later?”
“What name is it?” he told her, “just hold on.” She poked at the buttons on the complicated telephone in front of her and as she spoke into her headset Simon turned to the door. He could see Fuzz on the far side of the square, leaning against a fence post. No luck there then. He sighed.
“Will eleven thirty be alright?”
“Yes. Lovely thank you, erm Rebecca.” As Simon leaned to read the badge pinned to her uniform jacket the girl blushed, he smiled at her. “You’ve been very helpful, thank you.”
“See you later Mr Fulton.”
As he jogged down steps to the pavement Fuzz crossed over to join him. “No, luck. They’ve vanished. ‘ow did you get on in there.”
“Yeah okay, I’ve got to go back later but at least I know who she was going to see. Okay, I’m going to ring Carol and let her know that at least we’ve seen Flora and she looked okay. Then we’ll get a drink and think about our next move.”
“Ace, there’s a café just down ‘ere, got pasties.”
Simon used his mobile on the way to the little coffee shop. “Hello, Carol. It’s Simon. I just thought you’d like to know that I think we saw Flora. She was with her friend. A skinny girl, short darkish hair.”
“Oh, I wonder who that was. Did you speak to her? Is she coming home?”
“No, we didn’t get a chance to speak I’m afraid. We will stay here a bit longer, in case she comes back.”
“Thanks so much, try and bring her home Mr Fulton, please.”
“I’ll do what I can. Just one other thing though, does the name,” he glanced at the card in his hand, “Alan Rowntree mean anything?”
“Alan, yes, he worked with Mark. One of his friends, the same office.”
“Ah, right. So, he’d be a friend of Flora as well I suppose.”
“Well, funny you should say that he wasn’t really. She didn’t like him. I don’t know why and they had to see each other now and then, socially you know. What has he to do with it though?”
“It might be nothing, don’t worry about it. Look, if you hear from her let me know, yeah. I’ll keep you up to date.”
“Thanks so much Mr Fulton, I’m impressed you found her so soon.”
He clicked off the call and followed Fuzz up to the counter where the boy was already pointing at pasties and cake. “Huh, she wouldn’t have been so impressed if she’d seen us careering up the bloody road and losing them would she.”
“Aye well, you don’t need to tell ‘er that bit do ya. D’ya want a pie or owt?”
“Yeah, go on why not. Then we get back out there and keep on looking until I have to go back to that office.”
“Great, can I ‘ave a bun an’ all.”
“Oh aright, make yourself sick why don’t you.”
“How long have you been here?” Flora and Cill had finished two huge doorstop bacon sandwiches and were on their second mugs of tea. It had been a long time since Flora had eaten anything like the food her granny used to make and she had loved it. Now, in the muggy warmth of the café with food in her belly and the damp coldness of the early hours dissipating she felt so much better. Almost normal. It could have been any day, except it wasn’t and the woman across the table from her was a little dishevelled, a little grubby and there was a hardness around her eyes that was wrong in someone so young.
“Yes, you know just around? Oh, sod it, how long have you been sleeping rough?” Cill smiled at her.
“A while. Sometimes I stay with a mate but it wasn’t on this weekend so…” She shrugged.
“But isn’t it dangerous.”
“Yeah, it can be. Look, I’m not being funny but I don’t want to talk about me. My life is what it is and it’s what I’m doing right now. I don’t know what I’ll be doing next year, even next week but, well, it’s my business.”
“Sorry, yes of course. It’s just that, I couldn’t do it.”
“Sleep in the street, have nowhere to go.”
“So, what are you going doing? You said you don’t want to go back until you found out what happened to him, that bloke of yours. So, what are you going to do? To be honest I reckon the best thing for you to do is just get yourself back to that house, your friend and just carry on.”
“No, no I can’t. I want to have my life back. I want to return to work but I can’t not until I know what happened to him. It’s wrong just going back to how things were before, I can’t imagine what that would be like.”
“Why? Why not just accept he’s probably dead?” She shrugged now and ran a finger through a tiny thread of tomato sauce left on her plate and then licked it clean. “Just go back, tell yourself he’s dead, grieve and then carry on. Live.”
Flora had no answer, the comment had been harsh but sounded so simple, so logical. The bald statement had confused her, her mind refused to process it and she felt the quiver start, way down in her stomach. “No, not right now. I need to feel as though I did something at least.”
“You didn’t even love him anymore.”
“No, no that’s true but I did care, I do care. It’s not right that he should just be forgotten, brushed to one side.”
“So then, where do you start?”
“Perhaps, yes perhaps I should start by going back to before it happened. Just try and find out what was going on with him. We were hardly talking, spending less and less time together. Maybe that would be a start. Maybe that’s why I came here, to his office. Do you think?”
“I know it’s not your concern Cill and thanks. I was a mess when I first saw you, you’ve helped me.” The sudden smile was as unexpected as the sun bursting through a rain cloud and transformed the sullen, cynical looking face into the young girl’s that it should have been.
“Yeah well, I got a breakfast out of it.” But there was a different lift to her shoulders and a sparkle in her eyes. “Are you going to his office then, is that your plan?”
“I think so, yes.”
“Well, if you like I’ll look after your bag, wait for you in the square. You’d look a bit odd carting all that stuff with you.”
“Thank you. That would be excellent. Thank you.” There it was again, the brightening.
They went back. The day was in full swing by this time and travellers heading for the station rampaged down the pathways. A couple of people were walking dogs, there were prams and people speaking into mobile phones. Flora had been out in the months since Mark disappeared but never alone and never into the full swing of a busy town centre. She moved closer to Cill, she wanted to cling to the girl’s arm but knew she shouldn’t and felt the ground swirl a little beneath her feet, the buildings tipped. She gasped. “You okay?” Cill had turned to look at her.
“Yes, I’m fine. It’s just that I have these – things, sort of panic attacks. I’ll be fine.” As she spoke she felt the sweat break out on her forehead.
“You really shouldn’t be here, doing this. You need to go back.” There was real concern in the young girl’s eyes now and she put a hand under Flora’s elbow and ushered her toward the bench where the old man had spent the night.
“Oh God, you’re right. I know you’re right. I’m such a bloody failure, I’m a mess. I didn’t used to be like this you know. I had a good job, in a solicitor’s office, I had responsibilities and staff under me. Shit look at me now?”
“Well, after all you’ve been through though…”
“Yeah right, but look at you. You must have had some problems; nobody ends up on the streets unless they’ve had stuff go wrong and you’re together. You’re okay.”
“Am I – well, maybe. What the hell are you going to do though?”
“I’m going to leave my bag with you. I’m going into his office and see his closest mates and ask them about him. Ask them about how he was, in the weeks before.”
“But surely you’ve done that already?” Flora shook her head violently.
“No, I wasn’t allowed to at first and then by the time the police decided I hadn’t done anything they’d all gone. They didn’t answer my calls, they didn’t come round. Well, I was at my mum’s but anyway they didn’t. The only person who stood by me was Carol. She never wavered.”
“So, you’ve left her to worry about you. That’s not fair is it?”
“No, no I didn’t I left her a note.”
“I’ll call her later. I will. You’re right I shouldn’t let her worry. Just give me a minute to catch my breath and then I’m going over there. To the office.”
So, something is happening with this. I have realised that I can actually make it into Book 3 of The Truth series – Quite exciting.
Carol sat on the settee beside her friend who, by now, had regained some of her composure. “Look, I know you’re upset, well of course you are, but you have to be rational about this. You should have thrown it away ages ago. I don’t know why you kept it.”
“I didn’t know what to do. For a long time his stuff was just there in his wardrobe, in the drawers. I couldn’t bear to look at them until that day. I remember it as if it was yesterday. It was when the police had finally decided that I’d had nothing to do with whatever had happened. That Inspector, Carter, do you remember?” Carol nodded, “Well, he came to Mum’s, all smiles and sympathy to say I definitely wasn’t a suspect and did I need any victim support counselling. I was so angry. I needed help at the beginning, when it happened, when my life fell apart, that’s when I needed counselling, not weeks and weeks later when they had made it all worse by not believing a word I said. None of them believed that I couldn’t remember.” She shook her head and grabbing a tissue from the box on the side table she blew her nose. “Anyway, more than anything else I was angry. I was furious with the police, and his mum and dad because of the way that they’d behaved. Right from the start they blamed me, oh they never said anything up front, but I know they blamed me. We’d never got on. Well, I went back to the house that day. I was torn up with rage at the way I’d been treated, fuming and crying and then fuming again and in the end, all the anger focused on him. Trevor was the cause of it. I hated him, for what he’d done. No worry about whether he’d been killed, no sadness just anger. I blamed him for all of it. That was when I filled the case. I just dragged all his stuff out and shoved it in there and then carted it through to the spare room and stuck it in the corner.”
“Okay, I see that. And you’ve never opened it since?”
“No. Well I never really stayed there properly. Just a night now and then if me and mum had been cleaning or if they needed the spare room at home and I had no choice. Now and then I would look at it and wonder whether to throw it out. I was scared of doing it because for a long time I half expected the police to come back. It took ages for me to accept that it was all over. Well, you know that, you were with me through it, you kept me going.” They leaned together into a warm hug.
“I didn’t open it, just left it there in the corner, I blanked it. It was as if I couldn’t see it anymore. Then when I was sorting stuff to move out, well… … I wish I’d just thrown it all out, back then, months ago. I wish I’d never seen any of it again. I thought I was so much stronger by now, that I’d be fine. I truly believed I was getting over it and look. All come back – whoosh.”
“No, it hasn’t. You are strong. Look, what we’ll do – we’ll just take it to the tip tomorrow. I’ll go into work late. We’ll go as soon as it opens. You’ve seen now that it’s just his stuff and it’s all too difficult so we’ll just take it to the tip, fling it in the skip and then we’ll forget all about it.”
Flora didn’t sleep, although they had talked through her worries, Carol had tried to reassure her and calm her nerves but still the image of the suitcase and the articles inside wouldn’t leave her. She lay in the cosy darkness of her bedroom and went over it all again and again. Her therapist had told her not to hide from it, that she should face her fears, that if she did that maybe, in time the memory of the night he disappeared would come back and at last she would be able to shed some light on the mystery.
After a couple of hours yoga breathing, listening to relaxing music and the other “tricks”, to still the clamour in her mind, she threw back the covers. The nearest clothes were her soft sports pants and sweat shirt, she dragged them on over the T shirt that she used for sleeping in. The house was cooling, the heating had turned off. They had a light burning in the hall and the drapes were open so that the glow from a full moon smeared silver across the polished surfaces and deepened the shadows.
From the cupboard in the hall she dragged out a bag with shoulder straps. Back in the bedroom she stuffed in some underwear and toiletries and a couple of changes of clothes. She ran back into the hallway and pulled out her thick coat and a woollen hat, she slipped her feet into her favourite boots.
Stopping beside the little table in the hall she wrote a note on the shopping list pad. She grabbed her handbag and then as a second thought opened it, took out her purse and stuffed it into the front pocket of the travel bag discarding the rest. With a quick glance around she pulled open the door and stepped into the chill of the early hours.
She closed the gate behind her and looked to her left and right, unsure which way to turn her nerve almost failed her. This was not necessary; she could go back. Live here with Carol, move on and push the thought of Kevin into a box in the back of her mind. She could learn to live with the empty place that she carried. She hadn’t loved him any more. Their relationship had been finished. Maybe in the end she could learn to pretend that they had simply parted the way out of date lovers do. She looked down at her hand on the slick metal of the gate. All she needed to do was to push it inwards, slide back into the house and climb back into her warm bed, and carry on living the lie.
She turned to the left because that was the way the moon had laid a path and she strode away.
The address took them to a small, neat, terraced house and as Simon walked up the narrow path the blind at the front window lifted in one corner. He rang the bell and smiled as a dog inside set up a racket and a distant voice sent it to a basket.
A tall, slender woman with shoulder length, dark hair opened the door. A little girl of about five years old, dressed in a cute school uniform peeped out from behind her. “Yes?”
“Hello, sorry to bother you. Are you Michelle Buj erm Bug?” The woman grinned and nodded, “Yes, that’s me. Who are you?”
“Sorry. My name is Fulton, Simon Fulton. I’m really sorry to bother you but I wondered if I could talk to you about the accident you saw on the moors the other day?”
“Are you the police?” He was aware of her fight to drag her eyes away from the scar that snaked down his cheek and under his chin. He never thought about the wound from his time in jail until he met someone new and saw them struggle between curiosity and good manners. His solicitor had once tentatively suggested that he could have the state pay for plastic surgery on that and the slashes across his belly. He didn’t care about the way they made him look and they made him remember. Every time he looked in the mirror he remembered it had happened because he let his sister down. If he hadn’t become bored waiting for her, then she would still be alive today. No matter what happened, he knew it was a guilt that would be with him forever, so why not wear the scars it had caused. He dragged his thoughts back to the present.
“No, no I’m not. I suppose you’ve already spoken to them?”
“I did. I gave them a statement. You’re not a reporter are you? Because if you are you can get lost right now. Anyway, I’m in a hurry, I have to get my little girl to school. We can’t be late.”
“No, no I promise you I’m not a reporter. I’m – well, I’m sort of working for Mr Clegg. The man in the car.”
“Oh right. How is he?”
“He’s doing alright now thank you. He reckons you saved his life, he’s very grateful.”
“I’m glad he’s okay but anyone would have done what I did.”
“Well, maybe – maybe not. It must have been pretty shocking for you.”
“Yes, it was. I was just glad Keira wasn’t with me.” As she spoke she wrapped an arm around the child’s shoulders, drawing her close.”
“You had to drag the door open?”
“Yes, I did, had to clamber up on that car and then once I saw he was breathing and not bleeding too badly I just left him as he was, I didn’t want to make things worse by moving him. I called the ambulance and just talked to him while we waited. I didn’t think he could hear me but you know, just in case.”
“Well you did a good job.”
“Look, I really do have to get going. Thanks for coming by, tell him – Mr Clegg is it? Tell him I’m glad he’s okay.”
“I will. I did wonder if you could just give me a few more details though?”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, did you see the accident for example?”
“No, I didn’t but it must have happened just before I got there because the engine was still hot, I burned my hand on the exhaust.” She held out her arm and Simon saw the nasty reddened skin on the back of her hand. “Bit of nuisance to be honest, I’m a beauty therapist, I can do without something like that on my hand.”
“It looks sore.” She nodded and frowned as she studied the damaged skin.
“Well it’s nothing compared to what happened to that poor old bloke is it?”
“No, I guess not. So, you didn’t see any other cars, nothing like that?”
“No, nothing. Oh, well – hmm.”
“Well for one thing he didn’t have his seat belt on. I didn’t tell the police, these older men, I know what they’re like. My uncle’s always doing it, stubbornness that’s all it is. They possibly thought I’d taken it off, but I hadn’t.” She smiled and shrugged. “There was something else and again I haven’t mentioned this to anyone. I wondered if I should have told the police. To be honest when they came I was still a bit upset about it all and it was only afterwards I remembered. I thought about it and decided it didn’t really matter anyway because they had pretty much assumed that he‘d fallen asleep at the wheel or something. You know him being an old bloke and that.”
“Yes, I think that’s their explanation. But you saw something else?”
“Well, I don’t know. While I was sitting waiting for the ambulance. I saw a woman, or maybe a girl. Just on the top of the hill. Off towards where that narrow road goes. I think there’s a farm down there. She was standing on the rise and then she disappeared. I did wave to her, I thought she might be able to bring a blanket or something but she didn’t wave back, just vanished. I thought she’d probably gone to get help but I was already talking to the ambulance by then anyway so It didn’t matter. Look I really do have to get going.”
“Sorry yes of course. If I need to, could I come back and talk to you again? Could I take a number so I can ring, in case you’re busy or whatever?”
“No, I don’t think I want to give you my number but I’m here most days after five, you can come in the evening if you like.”
“Great, that’s great – thanks.”
“Tell Mr Clegg I hope he gets better soon.”
“I will, yes I will thank you.”
Simon slid into Gloria’s car and they pulled away as Michelle buckled her daughter into her own vehicle and as they reached the junction at the end of the road the two cars were together. He turned and waved at the child in the rear seat, grinning at him through the window.
“Did she say anything that might help?” Gloria didn’t look at him as she pulled into the line of traffic.
“I’m not sure. She didn’t see another car or anything like that but she did say she saw a woman, watching from up by the farm.”
“Oh, well maybe that should be somewhere else we could go, see if they saw anything?”
“Yeah. I think so. Can we go there now?”
“Might as well, as we’re out anyway.”
(Twist of Truth is available on Amazon – click the link in the side bar.)
Charles Clegg looked old. The life force that was so much a part of him had been subdued by drugs and confusion. He lay in a quiet room in the local private hospital. Once out of danger he had been transferred from the infirmary and was now well enough to have visitors. Simon dragged a chair up to the side of the bed, he was shocked at how ill the man looked.
There were large floral displays and cards on the window ledges and tables and the hospital smell was drowned by the heavy scent of lilies. It was over heated and in spite of the attempts at luxury, the old man was still lying in a hospital bed with wires and tubes attached to his bruised body. Subdued noise leaked into the room and it was all pretty depressing. Simon couldn’t see any point in staying. They had said Clegg was conscious but there was no indication that he was going to be able to talk and so, with a brief squeeze of the age spotted hand Simon stood and prepared to leave.
“Don’t go lad. I’ll be with you in a minute. Just give me a bit of a chance.” The voice was just above a whisper but the words were clear.
“I thought you were asleep.” Simon lowered back onto the seat.
“No, it’s the dizziness. I can’t see straight, it’s bloody awful.” His eyelids flicked open for a moment and Charles Clegg moved his head a little towards Simon.
“Don’t worry I can come back. When you’re feeling a bit stronger. It’s fine.” He was surprised at the strength in the hand that reached out and gripped his wrist.
“Wait. Just wait.” The old man forced his eyes open again and pointed at the glass of water on the bed table. Simon helped him to take a drink and then settle back against the pillows.
“Bloody drugs ‘ave me confused. I’d rather feel the ache in me leg to be ‘onest but they’ve got me in their clutches and they’ll do what they will. Bloody doctors.”
He lay now with his eyes closed but the slackness in his face had lessened. “Good of you to come lad. ‘ppreciate it.”
“I wondered if you remembered what happened?” Clegg groaned as he made the mistake of shaking his head, his concussed brain paid him back with pain and nausea. He breathed deeply and raised a finger to indicate that Simon must wait.
“I’d ‘ad a busy day, out and about and what not. I remember leaving the yard. I decided to drive over the top. I do quite often, usually mid-week, even though there are memories up there. It’s no good letting stuff like that dictate what you do. I don’t know much more than that. I remember that young lass, the one that helped. She clambered down to me, somehow opened the car door, called the police. Saved my life I expect. I’ll tell you sommat but you must promise not to say a word – right?”
“Erm, yes okay.”
“I didn’t ‘ave my belt on. Bloody belts, I ‘ate ‘em, always ‘ave and every now and again I just leave it off. If I’d not been such a stupid, stubborn old bugger I could ‘ave walked away from this. Well, serves me right. I were probably goin’ a bit quick truth be told. No point ‘avin’ a powerful motor if you don’t let it off it’s leash now and then.” He gave a throaty chuckle but it caused him to cough and Simon helped him to take another drink. “Bit of slide on corners you know, bit of a twitch in the rear, just for the ‘ell of it. Bit ‘o sharp brakin’, testin’ ‘er metal, you know? They’re sayin they think I fell asleep but that doesn’t feel right, not right at all.”
“No, not from what you’ve just been saying.”
“Aye, well I don’t want em pryin’ too much, crash investigatin’ and what ‘ave you, so I’ll let ‘em ‘ave their way and take the ‘it on the insurance. Serves me right and I’m paying for it now. But truth is I don’t remember anything properly, just flashes. I can see that girl, but it’s odd because sometimes it seems that maybe there were another one, ‘appen a woman, ‘appen not, but anyroad it’s all a fog. It’s just the drugs and my poor scrambled brain but… Let’s be ‘onest, I reckon they know, about the seat belt I mean, they can tell these things from bruises, stuff like that, but sometimes, well if you show folks an easy way out they’ll likely take it.” He flapped a hand weakly now against the bed covers. “It’s no good I’m befuddled. They reckon it might come clearer in time but right now I just don’t know what ‘appened. Been drivin’ for more than fifty year and only ever ‘ad one other accident – years ago when I were a daft kid.” Simon saw exhaustion and medicine take Charles Clegg away again. He left the little get well card on the table and walked quietly out of the room.
It would be useful to speak to the woman who had helped him. Maybe her name would be in the paper by now. He pulled out his phone and made a note to check.
So, the afternoon would be spent on the computer. This wasn’t quite as he had imagined it would be but the web was such a great source of information. He hadn’t been able to do anything about tracing the veterinary nurse though, he had spent hours well into the night bent over his desk.
When he phoned Gloria they decided the only route left open to them was to call all the local veterinary practices – “At least there are fewer than there are hairdressers.” Gloria had laughed and they had taken half of the listings each to work their way through, just calling and asking if Fiona Carpenter worked there. “You know they might start with the stupid privacy stuff don’t you.”
“Yes, I know but at least we’ll have tried.”
He called at the little convenience store and picked up a Lasagne ready meal for lunch and a six pack of lager. He was seeing Gloria for dinner but for now he liked the idea of getting on with what he was thinking more and more of as his job.
The shop front looked smarter with the new pane and he decided to have it painted. Now they were talking again he would speak to Gloria about making an offer to buy it. It would be much simpler having cleared his name and he would love to own his own place. He was settling and becoming attached to his home. It was a good feeling. He knew it would please his dad as well, so that was another plus.
“Poor old thing. Did you get any details?” They were driving away from Ramstone. They passed the bungalows on the outskirts of the village and then it was all dry stone walls and fields dotted with shaggy sheep and low, wind formed trees. As soon as he had closed the car door Simon had blurted out the news about his ‘client’.
“No, not really. There’s no real reason to do it but I’ve been arguing with myself back and forth, trying to keep things in perspective, not jumping to conclusions, but I just keep thinking it’s bloody odd.”
“Do you know where it happened?”
“Yes, I looked at the local news on line. It’s not all that far from where Melanie was killed, and I’m trying not to read anything into that. It’s not the most direct route but it is the nicer one, going over the tops as it does but…”
“Did you make a note of whereabouts?”
“Yes, can we go and look, can we do that first?” She nodded.
“I know these roads can be dangerous but it’s a heck of a coincidence isn’t it? Or am I just a bit freaked out and overreacting?”
What had promised to be very little more than an excuse for a winter picnic had become something else and the atmosphere in the little car was sharp with tension.
It was easy to see where the accident had happened. The grass beside the road was torn and muddied. Great clods of soil had been thrown up the bank which was scarred with huge gouges where the big four wheeled drive had plunged down the embankment. Yellow paint on the road, marking the start of the skid and swerve evidenced the police investigation. Simon and Gloria walked back and forth. A wet wind began to blow and grey clouds scudded low across the sky.
Gloria pulled her collar closer. “Not much to see really is there? He’s lucky someone came along, it’s not that busy.”
“It was a young woman, been taking her daughter to school apparently and just coming back a different route from normal.”
“I wonder if we can find out who that was?”
“Perhaps. I think I’ll go to the hospital as soon as they say he’s well enough to have visitors and maybe Charlie will be able to tell us more.”
“Well, I wouldn’t bank on it. If he was knocked out he might well not remember anything.”
“No, but – well, I can ask.” She nodded and climbed back into the warm car.
“So, the other accident, the first one. Can we work out from the plan exactly where that was? As we’re here we might just as well carry on.”
“Yes. Down here, there should be a narrow turn off and it was just before that.”
“It’s an odd place for a young girl to be walking about on her own isn’t it?”
“Yes, I’ve puzzled about that myself but her friends said that she often walked this way. Did it because she enjoyed the buzz of being on the hills alone. I can sort of understand that because I love it myself but it’s not that usual for women, girls, is it, even these days? Plus, it was winter, latish in the day, all just a little bit of an odd choice to make.”
“Well, I guess she must have been pretty self-confident. Didn’t do her any favours though in the end. Here we are. Is this the turn?”
“Looks like it. It’s very isolated.”
“Yes, but once you get over the dip there are houses, not quite as lonely as you would think. I wonder where that turn off leads to?”
“High Hill Farm according to the OS map.”
Clouds had gathered in grey heaps on the tops of the moors and they lowered now over the peaks and flowed into the valleys. Sheep huddled at the foot of low walls and in minutes they could see only a couple of hundred yards in any direction.
“God, the weather’s turned now. Come on Gloria, get back in the car. Did you bring something hot to drink?”
“I did but I don’t think this is going to clear do you?”
“Let’s give it a little while it might blow over. Anyway I rather like it when it’s like this. As long as you’re not out in it with the wrong clothes on it can be fun and it certainly makes you appreciate a hot shower after.”
She poured soup into mugs and gave him a packet of cheese and ham sandwiches and they ate quietly, watching through the streaming windows as the moors, the road and the walls vanished in swirls of mist.
The roads ran with water and fine rain whispered against the windows. But every now and again a glimpse of blue peeked through and as suddenly as it had begun the drear weather cleared. Beams of light speared through the remaining clouds and the pools and puddles shone in wintery sunshine. Grass and leaves twinkled with moisture and as a hawk spiralled up into the rapidly clearing sky Simon sighed and leaned forward to wipe with a cloth at the condensation on the inside of the windscreen. “This is what it’s about for me you know. This is the closest thing to magic that I can imagine. I know it’s lovely in the summer but this, this wildness is what I love.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty special, I used to enjoy it back in the day, with Dave you know.” She sighed. Anyway, we need to get back, if you’ve seen all you want to.”
“I think so, to be honest I’m not sure I’ve learned anything much but it’s been good to come here, it all helps to make it real.”
Gloria pulled out onto the narrow highway and gave a little squeal as a horn blared loud into the quiet. She wrenched the wheel over as a Land Rover, its headlights flashing, streaked past them down the gleaming tarmac.
“Bloody hell. That’s a bit quick for the conditions isn’t it? I’m beginning to think this road is jinxed.” She puffed out a sharp breath and then slipped the stalled car into neutral. She turned the key, Indicated and turned to look back through the window, no longer trusting what she saw in the mirror, she pulled slowly onto the road.
Simon reached over and touched her leg, “Are you okay, you’ve gone pale?”
“Yeah, yeah I’m fine, it just made me jump that’s all. It came out of nowhere.”