Tag Archives: Serials


Chapter 8

He sat for a long time in the darkness of the little pathway.  It was still and quiet. Now and again a car on the main road would assault the silence or a night bird would cry into the gloom.  He thought of the girl resting now.  There was no doubt that what he had done was right, she would no longer have to sell herself.  There was no more need for the sordid things that she had done, the dirty scrabbling in alleyways with perverts and scumbags. 

Why the client had wanted her cleaned up didn’t really matter.  He didn’t think about that side of the thing very often.  The clients contacted him through his small network and told him the location, provided a photograph, it was all he needed to know.  That they were all prostitutes was important, vital, they were the ones who needed his help.  There were drug addicts, thieves, drunks and adulterers but they weren’t his concern, it was the ones like his mother that he had to help.  He wasn’t a common murderer after all, he was a redeemer, atoning for his crime and saving the women. 

When Gran had taken him away he had been very young, but later, when he was a teenager, when he was old enough to understand, she had come to him. 

Tears fell on his hands where they lay on his lap.  He could still hear her pleading with him to help.

“You talk to her Peter, she listens to you.  She’ll help me if you ask her to; just tell her I’ve got nowhere to go. I’ve got no money Peter.” He was selfish though, he wanted Gran to himself, he understood that now, he knew his feelings had been wrong, he’d let the memory of neglect from his childhood harden his heart. 

“No, I can’t ask her, she said I shouldn’t talk to you.” It was a lie, a dreadful lie, Gran had been searching trying to find her, and of course she would have helped.  Her heart was as big as the planet she would have taken her daughter back and made a space in their lives for her.  It had been him, all him.  He didn’t want her there, his life was clean and safe, his home was warm and precious. He didn’t want her sullying it. 

He’d watched her walk away, shoulders slumped.  If he closed his eyes now in the darkness of the car he could conjure up the picture of her, skinny legs in tight pants, her hair, dyed too often, hanging like knotted strands over her bony back.  She had trailed away up the street; he’d known she was crying.  He could have stopped her then, brought her in, saved her life but he didn’t he just watched her go and held the knowledge of her situation locked away.  Three weeks later she was dead, drugged, debauched, and ruined lying in the squat. 

When the police had come they asked for someone to identify the body.  Gran hadn’t wanted him to go but he had insisted, cried and pleaded, and in the end he had gone.  He expected to feel some sort of justification for what he’d done.  He thought that the sight of her would expunge the residual guilt. 

They had her in the hospital, not at the morgue; she was lying in a chapel.  There were flowers, and soft music.  It was inter-denominational and he remembered wondering if the deities minded sharing space.  It had been a strange thought conjured from fear while they waited in the anti room.  His mother though, he wasn’t prepared for his mother.  They had dressed her in a white gown with long sleeves, they had combed her hair and someone had tied it back with a white ribbon.  A sheet covered most of her wasted body but her hands were on top, crossed at her waist.  She had been a Catholic and someone had wound a rosary between the clasped fingers. She looked Angelic, absolutely at peace and more beautiful than she had ever been in life.  Her long lashes brushed pale cheeks and her lips, though cold and stiff as he kissed them, were almost smiling. 

The knowledge of what it all meant was some time becoming clear but when it did he had felt so much more whole than ever in his life.  He understood without any doubt that, though he had let his mother down, turned her away in sadness, he could help other girls in the same situation, he could find them the same peace. 

The first time had gone badly he hadn’t planned it right.  He had found a girl at random and she hadn’t realised that he was helping her, had fought with him and made it violent.  It had been very difficult.  He had planned the mechanics of it, the knife, such a cleansing weapon.  The location, far away from the lights of the town centre, in the back of the park, and he had planned the disposal.  That part of his scheme had worked out well. He was confident that the parts of her would never be found, the car was destroyed so very completely, the great jaws of the crusher turning it into a small square of scrap metal with her deep inside wrapped in plastic in the boot.  He had been dissatisfied though it wasn’t how he wanted them to end up, they needed a burial, a place to sleep, and that was when he had thought about the graveyards.

Leave a comment

Filed under Serials


Chapter 6

The front door of the pub was brightly lit. Punters swaggered in and out, she smiled at them.  Their reaction to her depended on the makeup of the group; gangs of youths would generally come back with course comments, lewd jokes and laughter.  Couples would scurry past, wanting her to become invisible. They were unwilling to let her into their pleasant evening, a scab on their romance.  Some single blokes were kind and would spare her a quick smile and a shake of the head.  Then there were the others, those who would stop, glance around and if they were unobserved would question her, “How much dahlin’?  What are ya offerin’?” 

“Twenty five here.  I can go with you though.”

“Don’t you have a place?”  She would shake her head when they asked her that.  She didn’t even have a place to lay her head that was hers and hers alone, how could she have a place to take them? They didn’t understand. They didn’t care. This was a momentary temptation for some of them, but the thought of dirty sex in an alley beside the pub didn’t hole enough appeal and so they’d sneer at her and return to their quest for alcohol and football. 

As he watched her he felt sad. He thought about the life that she’d been forced to lead, the masters that she answered to and the sordid and demeaning way that she was made to behave.   It was time for him to move now and as he began the job he was warmed by the thought of taking her away from this.  He would end this need to sell her body, finish this, sleazy, unseemly existence.  She wouldn’t end up like his mum, drunk and drugged, spending her last moments choking on vomit in a grimy squat.  No, he would save this girl.  It was what made it all worthwhile, the hours of planning, the effort and the pollution of his soul that these jobs required.

The money was useful, the money made his gran comfortable, but even if there was no payment he knew that this would have been his life’s work.  He was their saviour, the avenging seraph for these shades in their doorways.

She came to him easily as he had known she would. He had called to her quietly, “In the alley sweetheart, over here.” She twisted her head towards the sound, her eyes were wary but lit with a glimmer of hope.  He’d lit a cigarette and as he sucked on it the red glow at the end drew her in, a moth to his flame.  She came to him softly, hutching the little bag higher on a bony shoulder her stacked heels stuttering a little on the dark paving,.  “’Ello, where are you.  I can’t see you.” 

“Here in the alley, over here, come on.  I don’t want my mates to see me.”  She laughed a little.

“Oh so, shy boy you, yes?”

“That’s it, will you come to my car?  I don’t want to do it in an alley.  I’ll pay you extra.”  She shrugged. It wasn’t an unusual request, it was warmer in a car anyway, more comfortable and if he had a car then he would probably have some money. 

“Yes, is okay.  Where is car, it is in car park, here by the pub?”

“No, it’s over here, a bit away.  Come on I’ll walk you there.”  By now she had come alongside him but in the dark could see only the light of his face and the glow of the cigarette as he handed it to her, letting her take a drag.   His arm snaked around the narrow waist and he pulled her close, she struggled a little, trying to draw away, trying to keep control until she could see him properly.

“Aw come on love, it’s not far.”  He used the pressure from his encircling arm to drive her forward, she was willing but some sixth sense tensed her body. He knew the action now had to be quick, to keep her moving on.  “Come on dahlin’ get a move on, You’ve got me hot.  How much do you charge?”

“In your car I charge more, in your car is thirty pounds.”

“Okay, great.”  By now they were moving forward at a fair pace.  He kept slightly behind, pushing her ahead.  She tried to turn and look at him but he moved her faster.  Now they were nearing the car, parked in the dark street, “There, that car there. Okay?”

She nodded and scuttled on, could feel him tense beside her. He’d be quick, was already excited. She grinned to herself, maybe her luck was in, it could be over quickly and then he might walk her back to the pub.  It was dark here and she didn’t fancy being on her own.  “You walk me back after, yes?”

“Yes, I’ll look after you afterwards, don’t you worry.”

With the reassurance, she relaxed a little, took longer strides and covered the distance to the car in less than a minute.  She turned to him, leaning back against the metal, starting to slide the denim skirt up over skinny thighs. 

At first the reality didn’t register. That there was something wrong connected with some deeper part of her brain but for a moment it was simply an instinctive, animal fear.  Then she saw the glint of the blade. The sight of it followed so very quickly with the flood of warm fluid on her belly informed her and with the knowledge came brief, profound pain. 

He had been quick though, merciful.  He was surprisingly strong, the stringy muscles flexed and tensed as he dragged the knife across her stomach.  There was a gush of blood and he sprung back away from the surge.  Reaching, stretching his arms he lowered her gently, steadying her dying body as it slid down the smooth metal of the car side.  She sprawled in the gutter and he bent and cut again twice, slicing through the aorta, speeding the thing along.  “Hush now, hush, soon be over, don’t be afraid nearly done.”

Her fear filled eyes bulged with tears for a moment but it didn’t last long, the light in them faded quickly and she was gone.  It had been clean and easy and now the real work began.  He stored away the smell of blood and the sight of her panicked face.  He would recall them later, when the rest of the business was finished.  He knew that he could close his eyes and bring it all back and then, safe in his room he would take the pleasure from it.

For now though he worked smoothly, professionally. First of all he had to take a picture. He was always glad when this part was over. The instant of bright light from the phone was one of the most dangerous moments but he had to have proof. His clients needed proof and he would send the image off via many servers to an adress he had been given. That done the boot lid popped open and he reached inside.  First he took out a great roll of catering weight cling film.  He knelt behind her, the roll in his right hand.  He kept away from most of the blood, propped her against his knees and then, starting at her head, he began to roll it round and round the body.  As the flesh was firmed by the enrobing of plastic film it became easier to handle, she was thin and small and by the time he reached her legs she had become a firm cylinder, he could move her without too much trouble.  The arms had crossed over the torso a little as he wrapped and rolled the plastic. Her face was twisted and distorted by the pressure, the nose pressed sideways towards flattened cheeks.  It took three rolls to encompass the whole body.  He had wrapped her bag into the parcel and he included the shoes, forcing them back onto her feet from where they had fallen.  Everything was inside the package now and he hoisted it into the boot. The polythene was already spread and he swaddled her, folding and tucking.  Because of the amount of blood on her top half he had wrapped many layers around her upper body and the film was almost opaque with just a glint of pink in the creases.  Round her lower parts the wrapping was thinner and the legs had only enough to keep them together, part of the whole, and to make it easier later.  He took a moment, breathed deeply, it had gone well. 

He reached over the top of her and grabbed the fifty litre container of liquid. As he splashed it out into the gutter the smell of bleach wafted to him.  He used the flow of the water to usher the pink fluid towards the drain.  He had parked near to the grid and the sound of the tinkling water evidenced this part of the cleaning exercise.  Once the gutter was sluiced he released the hand brake and pushed the car forward.  The big torch made a bright cone of light and he didn’t want to use it for long but had to check round quickly.  It was unlikely that anyone would search here but there was no point taking chances.  He was sure he’d been quick. There hadn’t been a chance to drop anything and he was still covered completely with his overalls, bloodied now but serving to contain any fibres or hairs loosened by the activity.  As sure as he could be that there was nothing left he lay down a small square of plastic carpet protector, he stood on it before he ripped off the coveralls and overshoes.  He wrapped the whole together with plastic film before tucking them inside the polythene with the girl.  He climbed into the car and started the engine; slowly he drew away, first gear.  At hearse speed he bore her away, his cling wrapped victim, stowed in the boot.  He had checked the weather forecast before finally deciding on tonight. There would be rain before morning. By the time they began to search, if they ever did, then nature would have finished the job completely. There would be no evidence of her, no reminder of her brief terror.  Now though he had the rest to do and he needed to move, there were many miles to cover and he had to be finished while it was still dark

Leave a comment

Filed under Serials, Shorts and Stuff

My Father’s Name – Chapter 9

All these things happening, a slow drip of strange occurrences and I didn’t act. I didn’t do much at all. Apart from telling Frances about the letter, I just pushed the rest of it away.

Then I got the text. It was short, ‘I’m sorry if the flowers upset you. I meant well..’ That was it, a withheld number, no signature.

It seemed like a nice sort of message, an apology. I was puzzled of course, but it didn’t upset me. I just thought that, okay maybe Frances was right. Maybe there really was someone interested in a relationship, or a date perhaps. Just a date. After I read it, I glanced around the office. It’s quite large and we don’t have dividers or anything. It’s a good workspace and you can see and speak to colleagues. I tried to hide the fact that I was looking at all the blokes, but it didn’t really matter because none of them was looking at me. I felt heat creep up my neck and turned back to my work. I was being stupid, like a kid.

I slid my phone back into my pocket, I wasn’t worried or upset, just a little bit excited.

The next day was a Wednesday and I delayed leaving home for an extra half an hour but there were no flowers. I told myself I hadn’t really expected any but – well – I had.

They turned up later, at work. A beautiful bunch left in reception. The girl behind the desk asked if it was my birthday. The card had a printed message. I hope you like these.

I wasn’t sure now how I felt. If it was somebody from work then, yes that might be nice, but why hadn’t he signed it. Of course, come lunchtime I phoned Frances and told her about it. She wasn’t the least bit thrilled for me.

“I’m coming round to yours tonight, girl. We need to talk about this.”

She wanted me to go to the police. I thought she was making too much fuss and to be honest I still hoped it was something innocent, maybe even something nice. But after we spoke for a while, I saw that she was probably right and anyone wanting some any kind of relationship wouldn’t be so mysterious. Though in the back of my mind I wondered if it was just someone who wanted to pique my interest before declaring themselves. A sort of game. I was a fool. We are all fools at times. I don’t think we should have to pay so dearly for being fools.

I refused to take it to the authorities though. I couldn’t face the embarrassment, to be honest. It seemed such a small thing and I hate to be seen as making a fuss.

It was the day after that I had the phone call.

My first thought was that it was sales but when you have children there is always the fear in the back of your mind that something has happened to them. The school number is in my contacts list of course but I find it hard to ignore my mobile, just in case.

“Is that Melanie?”

“Speaking. Who is this?”

“You don’t know me, Melanie.”

“Who is this?”

“Okay, cards on the table…” in the short silence that followed I felt fear, a glitch in my stomach. I lifted the phone away from my ear and looked at it. I almost cut the call – almost.”

“Melanie. My name is John.”

I waited but there was nothing.

“John Wright.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t know you. Is this about Suzie? Is my daughter alright?” I could have kicked myself as I said it, I knew that was wrong, giving out personal information. I stopped again.

“My name means nothing to you?”

Again, I almost cut the call. It was so weird, and I was unnerved. I have wondered since, many times, I’ve wondered at which point I could have changed everything that happened. Maybe this was it, maybe if I’d just turned off my phone and carried on with my life it would all have turned out differently.

But I didn’t.

“I’m sorry, no. I don’t know who you are. Have we met?”

“No. I thought maybe your mother would have mentioned me, my name at least. I was a friend of hers, a while ago.”

I knew at that point. Yes, I’m sure I did. I remember holding my breath, waiting for what he was about to say next, dreading it in a way, but believing I knew what it would be.

“No matter. I wonder if you would agree to meet with me?”

 “Who are you exactly?” I asked. I knew but still, I asked.

He didn’t say it.

“I’d rather talk to you face to face. Look, will you just meet me for a cup of coffee. I don’t even mind if you want to bring someone along with you. Though to be honest I’d rather you didn’t.”

Another moment when I could have changed the future, wasn’t it? And I didn’t.

Leave a comment

Filed under Serials, Serials, Shorts and Stuff

My Father’s Name – Chapter 7

I intended to go to the police. I wasn’t going to call them to the house or anything. That was too much fuss. I intended to go into the local station on the way to work.  As the morning went on, with breakfast and packing our bags for the day and hustling Suzie along, I began to believe there was no point. The time to act had been in the early hours when the fear was still raw when there was a possibility that they could have found the person who had been behind my fence.

At the school gates, the talk was all about the gale, the damage that it had caused. Plastic wheelie bins had blown about, covers from garden furniture had been ripped away, the tarpaulins from trampolines lifted and spread over gardens. I decided it was something like that I had seen from the window, a piece of plastic caught by the wind, a tree branch perhaps. Now, in the light of a pretty morning with other people around me amidst the flurry of the playground, my fear seemed ridiculous.

I didn’t even bother to mention it to Frances.

Two days later I got the letter. It was a plain white envelope. The address was handwritten in ball pen, it had been sent with a first class stamp. It was so very ordinary. I picked it up from the mat along with everything else and threw it onto the table in the kitchen. There had been quite a few condolence cards after mum had died and then letters of thanks for the party. It wasn’t unusual even though most people had opted for emails, the older friends had still taken the time to put pen to paper.

I made tea for Suzie and Dylan, helped them with their English homework and then after Frances had collected her boy, I went through the usual routine of bath, story time, and bed. It was a normal evening. Calm and really rather dull.

I don’t think there are that many people who would ever be able to understand how I felt when I read the letter.

Unless you have been in a similar situation, and surely there are not many of us, then it is impossible to explain. I can use ordinary words, ‘amazed, shocked, disbelieving,’ even ‘horrified’ and I think that is the one that comes closest. Even that one isn’t big enough.

I had spent almost forty years believing that my father was long gone. That he had been a small point in my mother’s life, a passing fling that had, as with my own beloved little girl, resulted in a pregnancy. I admit it, a complication at first and then very quickly a wonderful, precious gift. I hadn’t seen Suzie’s father for ages. He had no interest in his daughter and I’d been clear from the very beginning that I wanted nothing from him on condition he kept away from us. I had occasionally pondered what I would do when the inevitable moment came, and she asked me about him. But, my mother had simply told me that my father wasn’t important, that he wasn’t a part of our life and that she had more than enough love for two parents anyway. I hadn’t decided if that would be my approach with Suzie. Probably something more modern and I suppose I would have agreed to let them meet if they had both wanted to. But that was in the future for me.

But now here it was. Communication from someone who said he was my father. I had never had a father, I had never even had a grandfather, uncles, brother. There had been me and mum. A unit whole and complete, and then there had been me and Mum and Suzie.

I remember my hands shook so much that the paper rattled and I had to put the letter onto the table top so that I could read it again. I read it over and over. He told me he had worked away for many years and had only recently come back to the UK. He had Googled my mother’s name and there it had been, the death announcement.

I remember I pushed it away, crumpled it up and then straightened it out again. I cried, I can’t say why I cried but I did. I stood up and paced the kitchen, coming back to stare at the creased and tattered pages again. I picked it up and carried it through to the living room and sat on the settee. There was a picture of mum on the shelf in the corner. I went and stood in front of it and stared down at her face.

I could not form a coherent thought. Not enough to decide what to do, not enough to even wonder if it was true. That sounds insane now. I’m an intelligent, modern woman. I work with people, sorting out their problems. I think that I’m clued up and switched on. I was so shocked that I was unable to properly function. I went through denial, and anger and really what I can only describe as bewilderment.

I didn’t connect the other odd things that had happened. I couldn’t get as far as wondering what I should do. In that letter he didn’t ask to meet, he just said that he wanted me to know that he would have wanted to know me but my mother had made it impossible. I think that was the thing that hurt the most, this criticism of the woman who had been my world for as long as I could remember.

I tried to sleep that night. It was impossible. I tossed and turned for a while and eventually, I got up and went downstairs to sit in the dark and wait for the morning.

I talked to my mum, I verbalised some of the questions that filled my mind and when the light outside started to turn grey and I heard the first of the cars on the road I was no further forward than when I had sat at the kitchen table reading the words for the first time.

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 – 17

The intruder stepped back one pace, flicked her head back and forth. Her breath came quickly, she clasped her hands nervously in front of her, the fingers wringing and twisting. Jean walked forward a little way, pulling the door closed behind her. She held out a hand, as you would when trying to calm a skittish horse, spoke, quietly, “Hello. I’m Jean. Did you need something?”

A quick glance behind, another step backwards from the other woman. Then she raised her hand, pointed towards the bar of light shining through the edge of the kitchen door. Jean glanced backwards, turned again to the stranger, her head tipped to one side, questioning. She shrugged her shoulders. The whisper was so low and quiet that Jean had to lean forward to hear it.

“My cat. My cat has gone into your house.”

“Has it?” Jean had seen Slumpy from the upstairs room and he had certainly seemed jumpy, nervy. Had there been another cat? One that had climbed through the window and was even now helping himself to biscuits?

She took another couple of steps into the darkness. “When? How do you know he’s in there?” She gestured behind her with a waved hand.

“I saw him, just now. He was playing in the grass and now he’s gone in there.”

It was like speaking to a child, though the woman was obviously an adult and her voice was mature the delivery of speech was juvenile, innocent somehow.

Jean smiled and shook her head. “No, no that was Slumpy. That was my cat. I was watching him.”

There was a snort of air and then the young woman shook her head back and forth, “No, no, that was Goldie. He’s mine. He was a present. I didn’t know where he’d gone. I had to come and look for him.” She nodded vigorously, “Yes, mine. Goldie,” she pointed again to the door, “In your house. Can you get him for me please? I have to go home.”

Jean had to give this person the benefit of the doubt, she seemed so very sure. “Come on then. Come in. My cat is in there, Slumpy. Maybe they’re friends?” She knew she was humouring the woman, it was instinctive.

By now Lesley had opened the door and stood just inside the kitchen, Slumpy held in her arms, the light shining behind her. The young woman stretched out a hand, the index finger pointing. “Goldie, there’s Goldie.”

Jean shook her head, “No, that’s Slumpy, he’s my cat. He lives with me, at my own house.”

“He’s my present. He was given to me.” The young woman’s voice had risen, a sense of hysteria building, she walked forward both arms reaching. Jean moved to intercept her. The cat had leapt from Lesley’s arms and disappeared into the room.  There was a strange atmosphere, Jean knew, of course she did, who the cat belonged to, Lesley knew without a doubt but here was this woman, insistent, obviously convinced that things were not that way at all. Lesley spoke. “I’m sorry love, you’ve made a mistake. You need to go now. It’s late, you should get off home.”

There was a small whisper in response, “Mine. He’s mine. Stanley gave him to me.” And with that she lowered her face and began to cry.

“Oh, I see what has happened, I understand I think.” As she spoke Jean walked nearer to the woman and reached to touch her arm. “Stanley, do you mean Stanley Lipscow.”

There was no response. She carried on. “I think what has happened is that Stanley, Mr Lipscow thought Slumpy was a stray. He wasn’t. He went too far, probably got lost, but he was never a stray, he is mine. No, this has been a mistake.” The woman was sobbing louder now and murmuring over and over “Goldie, Goldie.” It was pitiful. Jean’s heart was torn. She tried to calm the situation, offer some consolation.

“I’ll bet if you tell Stanley what happened he can find you another cat. One just as nice as this one. A kitten, that’s best. You can have a kitten so that it will be yours completely, not like taking a grown cat. You should ask him. But, really, Slumpy is mine.”

They heard the car, they saw the flash of headlights lighting the shrubs and trees, the screech of brakes, the slam of a door. The distraught stranger turned as the bulky figure of Stanley Lipscow appeared at the end of the drive. They expected that she would run to him. Mentally Jean prepared to do battle, to fight her corner in the face of both of them but, before any of that could happen, the woman gave a small scream, little more than a syllable of shock, and pushed through the bushes beside the path and tore away across the field.

Stanley Lipscow took a few steps into the garden, his eyes were dark flashes in the moonlight. He stared for a moment at Jean and Lesley standing beside the half open door. He turned to peer across the shadowed field from where they could make out the dull thud of feet on the shorn grass. He threw his hands into the air, spun on his heels, and ran back to his car. Moments later they heard the engine, the squeal of brakes as he drove backwards and forwards in the lane executing a three-point turn, and then watched as the bouncing beams of his headlights lit the trees and walls around them. In moments he had gone and there was nothing but the quiet of the country night and the faint sound of the television in the living room.

Lesley spoke first, “What the hell was all that about?”

Jean shook her head slowly, “I don’t know but it was terribly sad, sad and really rather frightening. And who is that. His wife is supposed to be away somewhere, and it certainly wasn’t his daughter.”

Lesley ignored the question, “Bloody hell, what on earth is going on here. This used to be a quiet little holiday place, it’s like a sodding nut house these days. The sooner we get out of here the better. Roll on the weekend.” And with these final words she ushered her sister into the house, slammed the door and stomped through the hall and into the warmth and cosiness of the living room.

1 Comment

Filed under Serials, Shorts and Stuff