Tag Archives: murder

Well Head Cottage – Conclusion

As they clambered out of the car, Carl leaned towards Jean, still in the driving seat. “We’ll go for a walk. I’ve got my phone. If you need us at all just let it ring three times and we’ll come straight back.” Jean nodded and as they turned towards the gate, she waved at the farmer’s wife and managed a small smile.

She didn’t fall into the trap of asking how the other woman felt, it was obvious from the ravaged expression on her face, the constant pulling and tweaking at her coat and the tears that welled in her eyes only to be dashed away impatiently.

“Come inside Doris. Do you want tea, coffee?”

Doris shook her head. “I’m floating on tea. It’s all anyone wants to do. Give me tea. I want to talk.”


Doris wouldn’t remove her coat, though she kicked off her muddy shoes on the floor mat. Country habits, dyed in the wool. “I won’t beat about the bush Mrs Duncan.” Jean was surprised at the strength in the woman’s voice. She had expected the tears but, here in the living room, Doris obviously steeled herself to accomplish what she had to do.

“You talked to her, that young woman?”


“Did you talk to Lipscow as well? How much did he say?”

Jean slid her arms out of her jacket sleeves, placed it in a bundle on the floor. She was filled with sympathy but needed to keep control of the situation. Though she would try to be truthful she didn’t want to add to the woman’s hurt.

“It was all very difficult, Doris. I was very frightened, it was…” she struggled to find a suitable word. “it was tense and scary.”

“Yes, I’m sure but you talked to her? You had a conversation?”

There was something off here, Jean sensed it. This wasn’t just a grieving woman looking for answers to help her cope, but it was impossible to know just what was going on.

“Yes, I talked to her, here.” She raised a finger, indicated the room they were sitting in. “And in the shed. She came into the shed and we talked there.”

“And him.”

“Not so much, he ranted at me a bit, shouted instructions. He did say some things about what he was afraid of, for her, for his wife. I’m not sure I could recall all the exact words. Doris, do you think this is really going to help. I imagine a lot of it will come out at the inquest anyway and it seems that it’s just tormenting yourself. Of course, I’ll tell you what I can but, you know…”

“Did she tell you when she met him, Ted. Did she tell you how long they had been seeing each other?”

Jean thought it all became clear now, “Oh Doris, I don’t think they were ‘seeing’ each other. Not like that. I don’t think there was anything except a sort of wish for something, a wish by Flora, she’d sort of made up a story about the two of them.”

“Well, why then? Why was he there. Why was Ted visiting her, and why did he kill him? Why did that pig of a man kill my husband if him and her weren’t having an affair?”

Jean was lost for words. She didn’t know how much it would be safe to say. The police hadn’t told Doris what they knew. Not yet. She didn’t know whether it was her place. Surely it wasn’t. She shook her head. She couldn’t lie.

Doris was speaking more quietly, muttering to herself, her eyes lowered, “I can’t believe it, after all we’d been through, all the problems and I can’t help wondering, how much of the time he was going behind my back.” She raised her head “Do you know, Mrs Duncan, do you know how long?”

“Doris. I think you should wait. What have the police told you?”

“Oh them, nothing. They keep saying I have to wait, I have to wait until they talk to Lipscow, he’s not talking. I don’t know if he’ll ever talk again, neither do they. That’s why I’m asking you.”

I think you should ask the police these questions. I don’t know how much it will be alright for me to tell you.”

“Oh, come on, you must see I have a right to know? I was standing by him, I thought we were in it together and all the time he was playing away.”



Jean couldn’t leave it like this, couldn’t see the poor woman falling apart under the belief that her husband had been unfaithful.

“He wasn’t having an affair. She thought he cared for her. I know that for a fact because she told me. But, Doris she was fragile and damaged, it was mostly in her head. From what she said I don’t think Ted had done anything wrong. I truly believe that all he was trying to do was to sort things out. Tell me though, had you really, you and your husband, had you really tried to stand in the way of them expanding and diversifying, at the other farm? That was one of the things Stanley said, it was why he was so bitter.”

Doris pressed her lips together, she looked down at her hands folded on her lap. “Ted said that there wasn’t room for two of us. Lipscow wanted to open a caravan site, wanted a shop. Well you can see there wasn’t room for two shops. The caravan site would have changed things, made it like bloody Rhyll or somewhere. We didn’t want the place treating like a theme park. Kids running riot, gates left open, footpaths and stiles broken and damaged. No, this is our place, our land. We did it for the best. We were here first. He came back when his dad died, trying to muscle in, wanting to change everything.”  She stopped, looked a little ashamed. “But if that was why, that’s no reason to kill my Ted. God, I hope that’s not why. No, no that can’t be why.”

“Do you know about the chickens, about the sheep and the shop?”

Doris shook her head, “What do you mean?”

“That was why Ted was there Doris, at their farm. He went over because he thought that Stanley Lipscow was responsible for all of that. It wasn’t anything to do with an affair, he was just questioning Flora because he thought he could find out the truth from her. I think he flattered her a bit, to make her tell him what he wanted to know. What he would have done with the information, I don’t know but…” she shrugged.

Doris was quiet for a while, her head tipped to one side, eyes flicking back and forth unseeing across the room.”

“Is that why he killed him then? Is that why he killed my husband, to protect himself? Because of what he’d done to us?”

Jean couldn’t let it go on any longer. “I don’t believe that he did. From what I was told I don’t believe that Stanley Lipscow killed your husband.” Nobody had told her that she had to lie, to hide the truth and what difference would it make anyway, it would all come out in the end.

“I don’t understand. Of course, he did. My Ted is there, he’s still there, in that horrible place. I can’t see him, they haven’t even brought him out. Not until they have gathered what they want. He’s still there. He didn’t just fall down, and die, did he? Stanley Lipscow killed his wife and he killed my husband and he’s got to be locked up for it. Don’t you go now saying that you don’t think he did it. Well, it’s ridiculous. Don’t you go feeling sorry for him.” As her voice rose in anguish, Doris pointed and jabbed with a finger towards Jean.

She tried to keep calm, the woman was distraught, riven with grief but she had to speak out. She took a breath. “Flora killed Ted. I truly believe that, Doris. She killed him because he wouldn’t take her away. Well in truth I think she killed him because she was unhinged, she never should have been allowed to live at the farm, it wasn’t safe.

“But…” Jean watched as Ted’s wife tried to process this bombshell of information. “But, he killed her. I know, everyone knows. He strangled her, right in front of your eyes. There’s some that think you should take some of the blame for that.”

Jean relived the scene in the pub, the strange atmosphere. A lump filled her throat, she had to swallow hard before she could speak. It had never occurred to her that people could lay blame at her door. But did they have a point? The thought turned her stomach. “We couldn’t do anything Doris. We tried, we tried so bloody hard, but it was no good. He killed her because he knew they would take her away. I really think that. He knew she would be locked up forever and he couldn’t bear it. But, we couldn’t do anything. We were trying to keep him there, until the police came. God, do you imagine for one minute that we would have left her alone with him if there had been any other way?”

They were both crying now, both shocked and lost in their own horror. Jean was the first to speak. “I think you should go, Doris. I don’t think this is doing any good. If you have any more questions, ask the police. I’m sorry, I really am.”

As she fastened her coat buttons and pushed up from the chair Doris turned and looked directly into Jean’s swamped eyes. “I wish you’d never come here.  I had some hope. Before you came and poked your nose in, I had some hope. Alright, he would never have come back, I know that now. But at least I had hope, I could have found a way to live with that. You took that from me and it was all I had.”

I’m so sorry, Doris. I would never have wanted to cause you hurt. I thought we were friends.”

Doris turned and stood for a moment staring down at Jean. “Friends. Friends are the people who leave their warm homes to help you get the flock in when the snow comes early. They lend you money when the subsidies are held up and they run you into town to pick up bits for the tractor when your car’s not available. No, Mrs Duncan, you and your kind. You’re not friends. You’re just a means to an end, helping us to keep the wolf from the door.”

With those final devastating words, she turned and stalked from the room. Jean heard her sliding her feet into the shoes in the hall and then the thud of a door and the tramp of feet on the path.

She pulled her phone from the pocket in her jacket and dialled Carl’s number. “Come and get me Carl. Please just come and take me home.”


They slammed the door behind them and walked down the narrow path to the cars waiting at the gate. Jean didn’t glance back, she left behind the broken memories and tried to hold on to the echoes of happiness.


Jean had to go to the inquest but avoided Ted Smart’s funeral. There was no reason to go, she had no friends there after all. Doris listened dry eyed to the evidence, shown no reaction when Jean related the heart-breaking words of the tragic, Flora. She walked from the court leaning on the arm of her daughter. In spite of their last meeting Jean was desperately sorry for the woman but none of it had been her fault and all she could do was tell the truth as she knew it. Carl and Dave were there to give their own evidence and Lesley had come along, though she had no part in the real drama, and they hadn’t needed her to speak. Jean had a feeling her sister was a little disappointed.

When Diana Turnbull mentioned, months later, that she had sold the cottage to a holiday company Jean felt no real emotion. The same company had bought Hawks Farm and were turning it all into a holiday centre and caravan park. Well Head Cottage was just another place to rent in a pretty part of the country, the name changed to Bluebird House, to try and wipe away the stain of what had happened. Stanley Lipscow was in the sort of institution he had saved his wife from. He was still uncommunicative. They didn’t know if he would ever be well enough to stand trial. Maybe it was for the best, Jean had no doubt that he had loved his damaged wife and maybe, wherever he was hiding in his broken mind, they were together, and they were happy. She hoped so.


The End






Filed under Serials, Serials, Shorts and Stuff

Well Head Cottage – 34

It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but it was worse that Jean was expecting. The police hadn’t been overly destructive or careless, hadn’t turned out cupboards. They hadn’t left the cushions thrown around in the living room, dragged out drawers or any of the other things she had been dreading. But, from the moment they pushed open the boarded-up kitchen door she was overwhelmed by memories. She heard Stanley Lipscow’s voice in her head, roaring at them that he would break in. She walked into the hall and the small door to the cloaks cupboard swung on its hinges and she imagined again, Flora, eyes wide and terrified, scuttling in to hide.

The surfaces in the living room were smeared with finger print powder and the rugs were tangled and rolled. She didn’t know whether this was as they had been when Lipscow had carried her bodily from the room, or whether it was all a result of the police search.

She thought that, maybe, it had been a mistake to come back but then Carl called from upstairs, “It’s not so bad up here Aunty Jean, not much mess. Slumpy’s on your bed. He said hello.” Dave called through from the kitchen that he was putting on the kettle and did she want tea or coffee. It was enough to ground her and calm her.

They went through the fridge. There was cold meat, sausages that Jean slammed into the Aga without allowing herself to reflect on where she had bought them. She cooked a big pan of pasta and made a salad, used all the bits and pieces that she could find. They opened the wine and lit candles and tried not to mention the dead girl, the guilt they all felt and the dreadful feeling of ‘if only’. They would, she knew that, and more than once and for a long time but tonight they left it alone.

Jean assumed that the boys, being younger, were processing the things better than she. They came in at the end of the horror after all and, though they had been through an ordeal, it wasn’t her ordeal. The hospital’s dressing felt rough, when she ran her finger over her wrists. When she looked in the mirror she saw the scratches and bruises discolouring her face. Her legs and back ached constantly. She swallowed painkillers and, followed them up with wine.

They were hungry though and the food was devoured quickly in the warm little kitchen. She didn’t know whether they had planned it, but the boys sat facing the damaged door, so she didn’t have to see the broken panes.

Slowly the tension eased, a result of drugs and booze but welcome anyway and when they went through to the living room she felt better. The boys made her laugh with stories of college and they talked well into the night. None of them could face the upstairs, lying alone in dark rooms listening to the silence. In the end Jean brought down quilts and pillows and they bunked down in the living room

It wasn’t a good night, but they got through it and there was bacon for breakfast. Jean tried to ignore the damage to her body but she hurt. She was stiff and sore everywhere, scratched, bruised and battered. She swallowed more pills, pushed the physical stuff aside. They had to leave today. Until she was back in her own home she didn’t think she could start the long process of dealing with this trauma.

Carl and Dave cleared out the kitchen cupboards and tidied the living room. Usually they would leave all of it for Doris Smart. She came in after every renting to give clear out and clean. Jean couldn’t begin to imagine what that poor woman would be going through but it didn’t seem likely she would be coming back to Well Head Cottage any time soon, if ever.

She supposed that Sandra would be back on duty as guardian and companion and the Smart’s daughter would be heading up to be with her mum, if she wasn’t there already.

It would be the last onerous task and though she really didn’t want to face it, she knew that it was necessary if she was to draw a line under the whole business. She would go in the afternoon and talk to the Smarts.

“Shall we go to the pub for lunch?” Carl and Dave were quick to agree and once the cases were packed and ready, Jean drove them all into the village.

All heads turned towards them as they walked into the dim space. It was understandable but Jean wished she had thought of it beforehand. Now, they were committed and had no choice but to try and carry on and ignore the sideways glances, the muttering.

“I’ll drive you back to the cottage and then I need to go to Hawks Farm. If you want to get off I’ll be alright now, it’s all done.” She tried to put on a brave face in front of Carl and his mate.

She wasn’t surprised when her nephew answered and in truth she was relieved. “Don’t be daft. We’ll go back and wait for you. I don’t suppose you want us to come with you?”

“No, I don’t want to overwhelm her. I can’t imagine what sort of state she’ll be in.”

As they turned into the cottage gate her heart jumped, Doris Smart sat on the bench outside the door, alone.

Leave a comment

Filed under Serials, Serials, Shorts and Stuff

Well Head Cottage – 31

For a while Stanley continued to rail and curse at them. He hammered against the doors, the walls, and reached through the window space, tearing at the edges, trying to make the hole bigger.

Jean ran to the gate, searching for the police. Surely, by now, they should at least be able to hear the sirens. There was nothing

When he gave up the assault on the walls and door of the shed, his desperate clawing at the window frame, the quiet was more disturbing than his shouting and thumping about had been. As for the watchers in the yard there was nothing yet for them to say to each other. They stood in the growing light, breath clouding around their faces. They shifted and shuffled, shoes scuffing the soil and gravel, mumbled at each other, ‘Are you okay’, ‘Where are the sodding cops’, ‘What a bloody mess’. Meaningless words to fight the shock and fear, to keep themselves together. Carl had wrapped his arm around his aunty’s shoulders. Dave stomped his feet and banged at his arms, too cold in the light jacket he had worn. The dog paced back and forth at the end of his chain, whimpering pathetically but when Jean pulled away from the group and took a step towards him he bared his teeth and lowered back on his haunches. She turned away unable to do anything for him.

They heard nothing from Flora and assumed she was still curled in a desperate ball in the corner.

“We have to try and talk to him. We have to get to his wife.” Jean muttered quietly, no-one answered. Gathered together, impotent, frustrated and frightened, all they could do was stare back and forth at each other and wait. Jean shivered with the cold, she was dressed only in the soft lounging clothes from the evening in the cottage, her dressing gown was thick but she was damp and shocked. Her teeth chattered together, partly from shock, and Carl draped his coat around her shoulders, pulling it close under her chin. The warmth was comforting, she pushed her arms into the sleeves. It engulfed her, and she wrapped it tightly around her aching body.

Carl, gave her a quick hug and then moved to the side of the shed and leaned his head towards the wood. He looked across at them and grimaced. The sounds inside were indistinct, scraping and thudding and he heard their voices. He called to the others. “They’re talking, so I guess she’s okay. I can’t hear what they’re saying but I think she’s crying. If the police don’t hurry up we’re going to have to get in to her.”

He held up a hand to the others, holding off the questions. He leaned closer and then shook his head. It was impossible to make sense of the growing disturbance inside the shed.

Splashing through the puddles he walked around to where the damaged Perspex lay on the grass, surrounded by shards of plant pot. He kicked the junk to one side and, bracing his hands against the wall, he leaned to peer through the small square hole. “NO!” His desperate scream rang out into the quiet of the farmyard. The dog ran from his kennel straining at the end of the piece of chain. Jean and Dave leapt instinctively towards Carl. He spun on his heel and ran to the door where he dragged and pulled at the heap of debris they had used as a wedge. “He’s killing her, he’s killing her.” The desperate words were followed by sobs and groans as he bent to the pile of rubbish. The others joined in pushing aside the wood and metal.

Jean gasped out her question. “What is it? what is he doing?”

Carl glanced at her, as he threw a great plank aside, sending it skidding and sliding across the mud. “She’s on the floor, he’s got his hands round her throat. Christ we’ve got to get in. hurry up!”

They fought their way through the barricade they had concocted such a short time ago and, with a roar, Carl launched himself through the doorway. With something between a leap and a fall he reached Stanley Lipscow who was kneeling on the floor, sobbing, his great hands locked around the narrow, fragile neck of his wife. The keening sound he made was something that would stay with Jean forever. Flora herself was wide eyed, staring, her arms throw out motionless at her sides. Though the carpet covering of the grave was tangled and bunched where her feet had flailed and kicked, her legs were still, her feet splayed outwards, one small soft shoe lying alone near the wall, the other still hanging on the ends of her toes.

The two boys dragged him away. He didn’t want to let go, and he shook his shoulders, leaned towards his wife, kicked out at them with his heavy boots. Together they managed to pry his hands from around her throat. They knocked him to the floor, Dave flung his leg over the barrel chest and sat astride the heaving body, but the sounds now were sobbing, and the only struggle from the big farmer was that of him gasping and choking as he tried to breathe.

He didn’t fight them anymore, he didn’t speak, couldn’t speak, for the great gulping sobs and groans that shook his body as he lay on the top of Ted Smart’s grave.

At last there was the scream of a siren in the distance. Jean had run to where Flora lay and begun to attempt mouth to mouth resuscitation, checking the airway, the position of the head and, as tears streaked her cheeks, she tried to breathe life back into the slack, unresponsive body.

1 Comment

Filed under Serials, Serials, Shorts and Stuff

Well head Cottage – 30

The threat of him filled the small space, he breathed hard and heavy. There was nothing in his hands, no weapon, but Jean knew he didn’t need anything. He was powerful, and he was surely deranged. Not as sick as the woman whimpering in the corner but not sane, not ‘normal’.

Jean held up her hands, arms outstretched, palms towards him, defensive. She shook her head. Her knees had turned to water and she felt vomit rise in her throat. She swallowed hard. “Don’t. Don’t do anything to make this worse.”

He gave a gruff laugh. “Worse, how the hell can any of this be worse? They’ll take her away, I’ll never see her again. They’ll likely lock me up. The farm’ll rot. It’ll all be over for me, for us. No, it can’t get any worse. We’ll have to go. This place,” He swept a hand behind him. He was close now, she could smell his breath, feel the heat from his body. “This place was mine. Me and the old man, we didn’t get on, couldn’t live together but it were mine by rights and, I knew, that if I could just get it going, I could make it pay. But it were too hard with Hawks Farm fighting me every step of the way. Planning permission for caravans turned down. No bugger willing to trade with me. I even tried to get a garden centre to come in, but they didn’t want to know. Not enough catchment. Farming! farming’s done now. Too many forms, too much officialdom. Every bugger is on the edge, all the time one step away from the end. You need to do other stuff, there’s no choice. I just wanted my turn that’s all.”

Jean knew the arguments, knew that making a good living in the country was hard and you had to have luck and determination but right now, with him looming over her, wasn’t the time for debate about fairness and honesty. She could see the glint of moisture in his eyes. It was hard to say whether the tears were anger, sadness for himself or some other emotion that she just couldn’t fathom.

She was pressed back against the wall as far as she could go. There was nothing to hand with which to fight and he was beyond reasoning with. She would fight though, she braced herself, fisted her hands, stood with her legs tensed to kick, to run if she had the opportunity. Adrenalin replaced terror and all there was now was the instinct to fight or run.

There was a roar of anger, a whirlwind of movement. Chaos. Confusion.

Stanley Lipscow’s eyes widened with shock as his knees buckled and he toppled forward landing on Jean, dragging her screaming to the ground.

Violent light exploded in Jean’s brain as her head hit the floor, a great brick of pain turned her stomach. Darkness threatened the edges of her reality, but she fought back. Squealing and sobbing she squirmed and twisted, thrashed out with her legs, and pushed with her hands on the dirty floor, freeing herself of the bulk and weight of him. She rolled to her knees and crawled on all fours away from where he lay, half on top of the grave. The walls of the hut moved and swayed in front of her and she lowered her head into her hands for a couple of seconds, until the dizziness past.

“Aunty Jean, Jean. Are you okay?” She felt warm hands on shoulders, heard her nephew’s voice panicked and urgent. It didn’t make any sense.

She opened her eyes and looked up. “What are you doing?”

“Come on, come on let’s get out of here. Dave’s called the police.” As he spoke Carl grabbed Jean’s hands and pulled her to her feet. He threw his arms around her shoulders and began to usher her towards the door, away from the hulk of Stanley Lipscow who was groaning and beginning to move, bending his legs and bracing his hands, pushing himself away from the dirt and the filthy piece of carpet. Lying on the floor, where Carl had dropped it was a huge shovel, the blade filthy, heavy steel.

“Why are you here Carl. What happened?” Jean was dizzy and confused, her feet dragging as Carl struggled to move her to safety.

“I’ve been worried about you. There was just something off about the whole situation and then I rang you earlier and you didn’t answer. You remember we put a tracker on your phone, for when you keep losing it? So, I just used that. It didn’t make any sense that you were here. I had to come.  Dave drove me.” They had reached the door and another young man stepped forward and grabbed Jean’s other arm, steadying her as she crossed the threshold. Carl was speaking quickly, looking back constantly to where the farmer was regaining his senses, beginning to growl with anger. “We checked the cottage and the door was damaged. We arrived here just in time to see him coming into the shed. We heard him yelling. Look there’s time enough for that later. Let’s get him locked in. The police won’t be long.” He glanced at his friend who nodded confirmation.

I haven’t got it, my phone, it’s in his pocket, Jean was mumbling, still working to clear her mind. Suddenly she tried to free herself, pushing and struggling against the two boys. “No, Flora. Flora is in there. We can’t leave her with him. Anyway, I broke the window.”

“Yes, I saw that, it won’t matter, he’d never get through it.”

“But Flora. We have to get Flora.” As her voice rose in panic Jean tried to turn and re-enter the shed, Carl dragged her away. Lipscow was upright, furious and staggering towards them. Carl jumped back, slammed the door shut and leaned his weight against it. “Dave, grab that barrow, those blocks, anything. We have to fix this door. If he gets out, he’ll be away. Jean help him.” They pushed a big barrow at an angle against the wood, wedging the rusting metal edges against the ground, they slid building blocks across the yard, wedged planks and rolled a half bale of hay clumsily forward. Jean felt weak and disoriented, she puffed and slipped and fell to her knees with the effort. Dave and Carl were both strong and fit and though the door creaked and cracked they managed to secure it as a confused and weakened Stanley roared and thundered inside the small space.

Leave a comment

Filed under Serials, Serials, Shorts and Stuff

Well Head Cottage – 28

Jean pressed back against the wall, beside the door. She would be hidden when he stepped inside. She hoped, that Stanley Lipscow would be caught off guard when he didn’t see her, slumped in the corner, her hands bound. It might just be possible for her to run, maybe slam the door, trap him inside and get away. As she waited she gripped the leather belt, the buckle rattling softly with each movement. She would hit him with it, she would. God, she didn’t want to, but she would.

“Hello. Mrs Duncan?” The tentative whisper, the thin fingers wrapped around the old wood of the doorframe, the slow movement, all of this stilled her hand. She knew immediately that it was Flora and not her brutish husband.

Jean stepped from the corner. “Flora, are you alright?”

The younger woman gasped, hesitated and then dragged the door closed behind her. She turned a frightened face towards Jean, still in the corner. “He tied you up. He told me you were tied up.” As she spoke she looked around, fearful and confused, saw the broken window. She raised her hands, held them across her face, eyes wide and shocked. She took one small step towards the ruined wall. “What have you done? Why have you done that? He’s going to be so mad. He’ll be very mad with you.”

Jean grabbed Flora by the arm, “Where is he? What are you doing here? Come on Flora, let me out. Come with me. We’ll go and get some help.”

Already Flora was shaking her head. “No. You can’t go. He said he was going to keep you here. He said he was going to sort you out.” She nodded now, “Yes that’s what he said.”

“But where is he?”

“He had to lie down. He can’t see. He’s having one of his headaches. He can’t stand up, he’s been sick.”

“Right. Migraine. Is it migraine? Thank God.” As she spoke, swept with relief at this unlooked for mercy, Jean stepped towards the door. If the other woman wouldn’t come with her, so be it. For now, all she could do was save herself. She had to get away and tell the authorities just what had happened. Let them know what had gone on here.

Before she could slide past Flora, out into the open, the girl realised what was happening. She took a step. Standing with her back to the door, blocking the exit, she shook her head again, “No, no. You can’t go anywhere. Not until he has sorted you out. That’s what he said. I just came to say hello. I brought you this.” She held out a small bar of chocolate. “I thought you might be hungry. Are you hungry?”

“Yes, Flora I am. I am really hungry and cold. And you know what else? I really need a wee. Can you let me go to the house and have a wee?”

If she could make it into the open she would be away, she would run, she would get some help.

Flora shook her head. “No, no. You can’t go out. Anyway, you don’t need to, look. Over there in the corner.” With her back to the door she pointed to the bucket upturned on the dirt floor. “You can use that. I sometimes do. When I don’t want to go out of here. I like it here. It’s quiet and I can talk. I can talk to Ted.”

Jean had dropped the belt quietly to the ground. She didn’t want to alarm this nervous woman but now she bent. If she had to fight with her then she would. She would hate it, knew that it was an unfair competition. Okay Flora was younger, but she was slight and frail. Jean was fit and half a head taller, she could knock her aside she was sure. She braced herself. It had to be now.

“You can talk to Ted if you like. He won’t talk back, of course not. He can’t talk anymore, but I talk to him. Stanley says I shouldn’t even come in here but it’s dark and it’s cold and he was so kind. He was always kind to me.” The big frightened eyes filled with tears, Flora wiped them away with the back of her hand. “Did you know him? You did, didn’t you? He was so handsome. I liked him such a lot. Don’t say anything to Stanley but I liked Ted the best and I think he liked me, I think he loved me. He was always coming here, always when Stanley was away. I think that means he liked me, don’t you?” She sighed now, again the shake of her head, the long hair sweeping back and forth. “I’m not sure though, not anymore. When I asked him to take me away, Ted, he said he couldn’t. He said he had to stay with his wife. I don’t know why, she’s not as pretty as me and she used to yell at him. He told me that once. They had rows. He said it was Stanley’s fault that they had rows. He said that he was going to tell the police about what Stanley had done. He kept coming around, over and over, asking me questions about the shop, about the sheep, the chickens. I tried to make him see that it didn’t matter. When the chickens were all dead and the sheep and the shop was burned down then we could just go away. But he wouldn’t. Even though he told me he liked me he wouldn’t. I couldn’t let him go to the police then could I. He said they would lock Stanley up. if they did that I would have nowhere to go.

“He was so handsome and strong. I loved him. I loved him more than I love Stanley and that’s bad because Stanley is my husband. But he shouts, and he gets mad. He has his headaches and then he’s horrible. Ted was never horrible, not until that last time.”

Jean’s mouth had dried, the things that she was hearing shocked her to the core. She glanced back at the threadbare rug on the floor, the wilted blooms.

“Flora, is that Ted’s grave?”

“Yes, I told you it was. You mustn’t tell anyone though.” She reached out clasped Jeans damaged wrists with her thin bony fingers. “You mustn’t tell. We would get into trouble if you tell.”

She had to ask, had to know. “Flora, did Stanley have anything to do with Ted Smart’s death?”

The answer was a definite shake of the head, “No, no. He didn’t. It was an accident and Stanley just said that we had to bury him here, so we wouldn’t get into any trouble. He said that later, afterwards we could maybe take him and put him in the graveyard but not yet. Not until everyone has forgotten. I think they would have forgotten but you found the car, where Stanley hid it. You found it and now Stanley is upset again, and he keeps having his headaches. That’s your fault really.”

Jean laid a hand over Flora’s eased the grip on her aching arms. She believed that she already knew that answer but the next question had to come out. “Flora, did Stanley kill Ted? Even if it was an accident, was it Stanley’s fault?”

The laugh when it came was high, on the edge of hysteria, Jean pulled back. “No, no silly. Of course, he didn’t. He was cross, when he found out that Ted had been coming round here, asking me questions and nosing about. He was cross when I said he loved me. He said I was a stupid girl. I suppose I was.”

“But he didn’t kill him?”

“No, he just wrapped him up and put him in here.”

“But how, Flora? How did he do that?”

“Well, we had to do something. We couldn’t just leave him where he was could we. We had to move him out of the kitchen. We had to clean up.”

“What happened Flora. Did he have an accident?”

“Well, sort of.”

The truth was unimaginable and yet there it was staring her in the face, she had to know. “Flora did you kill him? Did you kill Ted?”

1 Comment

Filed under Serials, Serials, Shorts and Stuff

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



Filed under Books

Poor Untitled thing – Nothing Had Changed

Chapter 20

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.”


Leave a comment

Filed under Serials, Serials, Shorts and Stuff

Bus Stop – Chapter 59


Thanks as always for the support with this work.  I have taken it down now as it is with the Publisher awaiting a decision.

If you have read the serial and missed the last few episodes do get in touch and I’l arrange to send you the final chapters.


Thanks again and fingers crossed that it makes the cut.




Filed under Serials, Serials, Shorts and Stuff

Bread and Chicken

The pain was indescribable. First had been shock, then horror, then endless moments of disbelief and now all that was left was pain.

When she had found the body, seen the blood and the wreckage her mind was crystal. She had registered the crimson dripping from the back of the sofa onto the pale boards, pooling and slipping slowly to the skirting where it ran in a narrow river, slowly, slowly as the life force left him. She had seen Steve’s pale, pale face and the dreadful, ghastly black burn marks around the bullet hole all sharp and focused. Then there had been the scream, like nothing she had ever heard before, a high keening screech of sound whirling away from her until she realised that it came from her own throat, from the deepest darkest part of her soul. Once it registered that it came from her she had stopped it, turned it off in an instant and fallen towards him, his body.

Now though, how much later? Impossible to tell, she was divorced from it, there was noise and movement all around her. Police, paramedics even the landlord had muscled in on the scene.

“No he hadn’t heard anything, not even the gunshot. No, he hadn’t seen anything. No, he didn’t know anything.” Well why the hell was he there then, the thought forced itself into her agonised reality. Bloody landlord never there when the toilet blocked or the rats scuttered around the bins but there now, his eyes popping and his chest swelling with self importance. Had he been there earlier, well probably but it didn’t matter now, he wouldn’t meet her eyes though. May he rot in hell for his part in this.

They had known that there was a risk of this happening, they had been told not to come here to this lawless place but they were young and indestructible and nothing could happen to them could it.

A soft voice at her shoulder brought her back from the void, “We’re taking him now. Is there anywhere you can go, somewhere you can stay. You can’t stay here , we have a lot to do, work you know.”

“What, go no. I don’t know anyone, there’s nowhere. We were only here for a month, I…” The ability to speak left her as the gurney with the sheet covered body was wheeled past the chair and on towards the door. “No, no wait.” The paramedics stopped, looking back over their shoulders at the blonde in the chair. “Please, I have to, I need to see him.” The tears soaked her cheeks as they threw the sheet back from his face. He was sleeping, it was all a mistake, he was pale yes, but surely, surely he was just sleeping. Stretching out a hand she touched his cooling cheek, no not sleeping.

“Do you have any idea who might have done this?” What a ludicrous question, ridiculous. She turned the full force of her anguished gaze on the policemen. How could they all pretend, how can you help people who blind themselves to the truth.

Shaking her head almost imperceptibly she reached out to grab her bag and the camera case. “Wait, we have questions, you need to stay, you need to help us.” The raised voice was white noise as she slammed from the flat and hurtled down the stairs. There was no way anyone was going to help her she knew that. They had been fully aware when they came here that they were on their own, that was what had made the whole thing so attractive, tempting. They were vigilantes weren’t they, crusaders. No, not they, there was no they now, now it was just her only her against the whole rotten corrupt state because she had gone out for bread hadn’t she. Just bread, they wanted hot bread to eat with their chicken and so she had gone.

That was when they had come and shot him, and she was left alone now, left to fight on without him but it had been so close, so very close and so she knew that she had been spared for a reason. Not for bread and chicken but for the fight and so she would fight on alone, for Steve and for the victims and in recognition of the hand of fate.

1 Comment

Filed under Serials, Shorts and Stuff

My Best Seller is free on Amazon from today

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.


Just a few of the reviews on Amazon

Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a terrific, gripping, page-turning novella with twists and turns at each chapter. The unusualness of the story keeps it interesting and the lead character is scary and creepy, yet you find yourself rooting for her even as you learn more and more about her. And then, halfway through, everything changes. Horror, emotion and then more horror. You never know what’s going to happen next. At points I was so involved in the story, and so tense, I found myself shouting “No! Don’t do it!” at the book. Great stuff. Highly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Creepy and gripping 26 Feb 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read the book in less than 24 hours. Every time I thought I knew where the story was going there was another twist, taking the plot in a different direction. I did not like the main character, who also narrates the first part of the story, but I still could not stop reading. Worth reading
4.0 out of 5 stars Who follows. 4 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read this when I should have been working but couldn’t put it down. I love the slow way it opens with just the casual hint of the way her new partner would have to change her ways as they begin to live together. At once the character is sweet and diffident yet with subtle overtones of unspeakable cruelty. Loved it.
Also available in paperback.

Also available in paperback.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books