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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.”
(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.
Simon took a step towards the open door, trying to block her view as Gloria leaned to peer past him into the grim interior. Stephen Hardcastle was slumped against the wall. “What the hell are you doing? How did you get in?”
“Down the back alley, the side gate. It doesn’t matter!”
“I didn’t know there was a back alley.”
She screeched at him, “I said it doesn’t bloody matter – What the hell is this?”
Simon turned his head to glance at the mess behind him, he didn’t know how to begin. In the time he took, Gloria reached out and picked up the butcher’s knife. “No, it’s okay, you don’t need to do that – really you don’t it’s okay.” Fear came from her in waves, fear and anger.
“Okay – how can this be okay?” She had taken several steps into the room by now and was an arm’s length away from where Simon stood, struggling for words.”
“It’s not as bad as it looks.” He stopped, he sounded ludicrous. He reached a hand towards her. She raised the knife. “Why are you here Gloria, why have you come?”
“You didn’t bring a coat, I watched you walk down the alley and then it began to rain. I brought a coat.” Tears filled her eyes as she spoke to him, she brushed them away with her free hand and glanced around. “You haven’t done anything. You haven’t decorated, where’s all the stuff that you ordered? It’s just the same.”
Any answer that he might make was negated by a bout of coughing from Stephen behind him. Gloria slid past, still holding the knife in front of her. She flicked her glance between the semi-conscious man sagging against the wall and Simon who raised his hands, palms towards her in helplessness and surrender.
She knelt now beside Hardcastle who appeared to be drifting in and out of consciousness. “Bloody hell, what happened to him?” She glanced up. “He stinks, he’s shit himself. We need to get him to the hospital, we need an ambulance. What happened to his head? He’s got concussion or something.” She reached out to take Stephen’s hand and it was only then that she noticed the cuffs, the chains. “What the hell!” She pulled at them, jangling and shaking the metal links. “My God, what have you done? What the hell have you done?”
“I can explain, I can. I’ll tell you all about it. It’s not what you think.”
“How the hell do you know what I think – Christ even I don’t even know what I think! Who is this, who is this bloke?”
A faint whisper slipped between Stephen’s lips, “Help me, please. Don’t let him kill me, don’t leave me.”
“Shush, shush, it’s okay. Don’t worry I’m not leaving you. I’m going to get you an ambulance.”
“No. No don’t – just take me home. I’ll be okay if you just take me home.” Simon had moved forward to stand beside Gloria, she still gripped the big knife and raised it as she leaned back to peer up at him.
“I can explain Gloria. I was going to take him home. I just needed him to tell me first.”
“Tell you what?”
“Can we talk later? Look I’ll get him home now.”
“What do you mean?”
“How are you going to get him home. Are you going to ring a taxi, are you going to take him on the bus? Look at the state of him.”
“I need a van, I was going to go and…”
“Ah, just going to go and get a van, and some poor sod was going to have his vehicle stolen.”
“Well, I hadn’t expected to be doing this now. Look I know it looks bad, shit it is bad, of course it is but let me try to explain.”
“Tommy, Tommy take me home – please.”
“He’s delirious, he doesn’t know who we are. We really need to get him to the hospital.”
“No, he’s not delirious. It’s me. I’m Tommy. They changed my name, when I came out.”
“Oh, oh okay. Yeah of course they did. So, you’re Tommy – Tommy Fulton or? …”
“Webb, I’m Tommy Webb.” He watched as she sifted through her memory, saw recognition dawn and listened as she whispered his name.
“Tommy Webb – Sandie Webb’s brother.” There was nothing for him to do now but to nod and give her space to let the knowledge sink in.
The silence stretched between them until it was broken by another groan from Hardcastle as he tried to push himself into a more comfortable position.
Gloria turned to him and then spun her head back towards Simon. She jagged the knife at him, go and stand over there. Go and stand in the corner. Does this thing,” She reached and jangled the chain, “have any keys or whatever, how do I get them off him.”
“I’ve got them, here let me.”
“Don’t try anything, I will slash you, just move slowly. Unfasten him.”
“It’s okay, honestly Gloria, it’s okay. I won’t hurt him. I won’t hurt you. I promise.”
“Unfasten him then. Unfasten him and then take those stinking clothes off him.
“Right, right. Okay.”
The job was nasty and difficult for them all but in the end Stephen was laid on top of the blankets with towels wrapped around him. The blood had been wiped from his face and though he still shook with tremors he was calm.
Simon kicked the wet and stinking clothes in towards the wall. “No, pick em up.”
“Pick those up and stick em in that plastic bag.”
“There’s no need. I can sort them out later.”
“Either pick them up now or you’re going to have to sit in that mess.”
Simon shook his head, his face creased in puzzlement until Gloria’s plan became clear. “Sit in the… No, look Gloria there’s no need. Honestly I promise I won’t hurt you, I won’t hurt him.”
She jagged the knife at him, “Move the mess and then sit down. Give me the keys for those things, what are they, shackles? Cuffs? Anyway it doesn’t matter, just give me the keys.” He held them out towards her.
“You don’t need to, really.” But as he spoke he kicked the things together and then, bundled them into a bag.
“Sit down.” He turned and began to speak again but as she stood before him, her legs braced and the knife held at arm’s length he just shook his head and lowered to the floor.
“Right, put those things on your feet.” He clicked on the shackles. She threw the key to him, “Lock them.”
“Gloria, please. Look I promise I’ll stay here, I won’t move unless you tell me to.” She stopped, began to take stock of the whole situation. She realised that leaning towards him and forcing his hands into the cuffs and then locking them afterwards was going to be too dangerous and probably impossible for her to achieve.
He saw confusion now in her eyes and the wrinkle of the skin on her brow. “Gloria, let me help you, let me help you get him home.” She glanced down at Stephen, the bulk of him, his semi-conscious state.
“Okay, okay.” My car is in the road. Where is the key for this place?”
“It’s here in my pocket.” She held out her hand.
Her choices were limited but the main thing was to get help for the sick man. “I’m going to get the car.” She ran from the room now and the two men heard the locks thumping into place. Hardcastle whimpered, now that he was alone with Simon, the fear resurging.
“It’s alright Stephen, you’ve been bloody lucky. She’ll help you now.”
He could take her. He could hide behind the door and when she came back in, he could have her in a heartbeat but Simon sat on the floor and listened as her car rumbled into the yard. He waited until Gloria came back, holding the knife before her, a hammer from the car’s toolbox another weapon in her other hand.
She kicked open the door and let it bounce against the wall and only when she saw that he was still on the floor did she move into the room.
“Right let’s get him to the hospital. Help me take him to the car.”
“No, not the hospital. I don’t want to go to the hospital.” Hardcastle knew the hospital would involve the police and he obviously wanted to avoid it at all costs. “Take me home.”
“You can’t go home.” She turned her head, “Who is it, what’s his name?”
“Stephen, Stephen Hardcastle.”
“Look Stephen you can’t go home. Tell you what, why don’t I take you back to my place.”
“Yes, oh yes please.” He reached out and gripped her hand, he was obviously becoming stronger and at the end of the day it was his choice.
“Okay, come on let’s get you in the car. We’ll go back to my place. Come on Simon, give me a hand, but I’ve still got this, and I’ll use it.” She waved the knife in the air in front of her.
“It’s okay Gloria, I promise. It’s okay. I’ll help you now.”
“Samuel struggled through the roots and brambles; he tripped often and grovelled in the dark tearing his trousers on the thorns. In time he reached the place, down on the bank, where the ground was damp and smelled of moss and decay. At the base of a massive willow he threw his load to the ground and paused to catch his breath.
When he knew for sure that he was untracked he bent to the task. The moon shone silver through dark branches as he turned the sod. With each swing of the long-handled pick a grunt escaped his gut, deep and guttural in the quiet. Muscles in his back and shoulders flexed and strained and he stopped often to wipe the dirty sweat that ran across his brow and stung his eyes. He stood back occasionally to assess the work shaking his head at the small results of his efforts.
Though time was short he had to have it deep enough to deny access to the wild things. The arc of the pick glinted as it caught the moonlight over and over and the ground opened a great maw that took him in further than his knees, further than his hips. He was getting there. Now he used the spade, the better to scoop the dank soil and toss it onto the growing heap.
A shrill note tore into the silence, sharp and shocking. He thrust again with the blade and again the noise rang out assaulting the silence as metal struck stone. He peered into the murk to see a boulder gleaming, bone white, like a half-erupted tooth in a blackened and decaying gum-line.
With a grunt of impatience he knelt in the soggy pit and groped at the boulder digging and pulling till his nails tore and his fingers bled. The mud and the blood congealed clubbing the ends of his fingers and he wiped them on the tail of his shirt, cursing as the sticky gobbets smeared the sweat drenched fabric.”
Meet Samuel and peer into The Grave – Free on Amazon Kindle
Leaving George has been having a lovely time giving itself away for free on Amazon. So if you fancy a freebie, set in Cornwall with some peril and a couple of cuddly moments !!!! Don’t miss the chance. (It is available on all the Amazon platforms so this link is to .com but just stick in your own extension – phnar phnar -ooh missus)
Who Follows :-
A passing glance leads to obsession in this dark story of love, loneliness and secrets.
From the very first glance nothing is as it seems. Lies and obsession lurk beneath the surface and as the relationships develop disaster seems inevitable.