Monday, 28 July 2008

Seaside Life:

Countless human sausages all lined up in rows
Smothered in sun cream from their heads to their toes.

All stubbornly guarding their loungers and deck chairs
Eager for the sun to fry them whilst they forget about their cares.

Some prefer to simmer in the waters, being tossed by the waves
Children and adults splish and splosh until food they start to crave.

A mini army of ice-cream trucks, vans and stalls stand at the beach top.
Besieged by dry mouths and eager hands, all wanting that red lollipop.

The beach is being moved around in all those buckets and spades.
Sandcastle rise and fall, none will last these summer days.

Boats and dinghies, pedal cruisers and surf boards litter the inner seashore.
Seagulls harass the chip shops, swooping and grabbing with their ruckus caw.

Starfish, crabs and limpets are attacked by curious fingers and probing sticks.
Teenagers whether bored or stupid tomb stone for worthless kicks.

Only when the heat has passed and rain returns does this circus go.
Giving the beach back to the sea ending Nature’s seaside woe.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Summer is....

Summer is sunny days, suncream and sizzling barbeques.

Utterly clear blue skies, umbrella stands for shade not rain and ultra violet rays.

Millions of people mowing the lawn, money spent at summer sales and mingling on beaches.

Men buy sunglasses and women buy hats, melting ice-cream over hands, fingers and faces and meals eaten outside on a cool evening.

Excitable children splashing into the sea, energetic families go to centre parks and expenses are paid for those day time events that keep the children busy.

River trips upon the canal in a longboat, relaxing by pool or in the garden and rest in general to help keep you smiling through the damp and windy months ahead.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Memento


“Is Lucy asleep?”
“Yes, took nearly three stories tonight. We may have to buy some more books.”
“We’ll need them for the flight.”
“True. Just think in a few more days we will be paddling in the Spanish sea.”
“I know, Sarah’s been boasting about it to all her mates.”
“Well if she thinks she’s going to chase any of those tanned lads she has another thing coming.”
“Ah well she’s still young. I know I had the same dreams when I was her age.”
“You would actually prefer a tanned boy to me?” Dad pulled a look of rejection.
“Of course not darling.” Mum replied with a smirk reaching over for the TV remote and turned it on for the news. A pretty blonde woman wearing a pastel blue suit sat at the news desk, her eyes fixed to the front.
“In other news today Virgin Travel announces that their global flights have been cancelled at Leeds Bradford Airport for the next week due to the discovery of mechanical faults with their Boin67 aircrafts…”
“Oh no.” Both parents sat forward in their seats their faces becoming more anxious with each second.
“A spokesperson for Virgin Travel said the company sends its deepest apologies for any delay and inconvenience to customers booked to travel with them over the next few days but mechanical service must be carried out. Virgin takes its customer safety and service very seriously. For those who are affected he wishes you to call this number, now at the bottom of the screen and also on our website, in order to arrange refunds or re-arrangements to other airports for a later travel date.”
“I don’t believe this.”
“Did you get that number?”
“Yeah, I will give them a ring first thing before work tomorrow. This really is awful.”
“How are we going to tell the children?”
“With a wall between us and earplugs for the screams.” Dad gave a weak laugh running his fingers through his hair.
“Sarah is going to hit the roof.”
“Well it’s not exactly our fault. In a way Virgin are doing a good thing. I would rather fly on a safe and secure plane than one with a fault that could cause severe problems.”
“What are we going to do? Is the holiday cancelled?”
“We can still go to Dorset again. The car is our only means of transport.”
“Perhaps but we promised Sarah we would go abroad this year now she is fourteen.”
“I know love but it’s out of our hands this time.”
“Why don’t we just rearrange to leave at another airport?”
“The nearest one is Blackpool or Manchester. To be honest I think it would cause more hassle. I would prefer to just get our money back and spend it somewhere else.”
“I suppose you’re right. If you contact Virgin I will see if I can get hold of Mrs Jesse at Church Farm and see if she can fit is in for next week.”
“Dorset it is then. So, do you want to tell Sarah or shall I?”
***
“Gutted!” Rachel replied when Sarah told her the devastating news about her holiday the following day at school. The worst news since her parents refused to let her get her ears pierced until she’s sixteen.
“I know it’s so unfair. Now we’re off back to boring Dorset.”
“It is unfair.”
“We’ve been going there since I was five. Lucy may enjoy it all but I will be bored out of my mind. Stuck in an old barn on a rubbish camping bed with big spiders everywhere. Last year one crawled right across my arm whilst I slept.”
“Aw gross!”
“Yeah it was. They don’t even have a cyber café so I won’t be able to go on MSN at all whilst we’re away. Would have if we were going to that nice hotel in Spain. It has everything, cyber café, pool, discos, shops, beaches and restaurants. Mum said she would let me go with her to the Spa. I was going to come back as beautiful as Lopez. Now I won’t go there until next year.”
“No wonder you were so eager to go to Spain.”
“Yeah I was. I wanted to go anywhere else but Dorset again. God must hate me or sumthin.” Sarah groaned with teenage frustration. “Why couldn’t he make the car breakdown as well?”
“I will make sure to bring back sumthin nice for you from Greece.”
“Thanks Rach, all next week I will be wishing for it to be over and come back here.”
“Yeah straight back to school though. Half term’s only a week.”
“Even school is better than going to Dorset again.”
***
“Well troops where shall we visit today?” Dad asked at the table Monday morning his family sat around him although Sarah was already hooked up to her I-pod to blast out reality.
“The weather seems nice enough; I was thinking we could venture into the New Forest so Lucy can see the horses.” Mum suggested with a pleasant smile as she fed Lucy some more milk soaked cereal.
“Boring.” Came the ungrateful tone of Sarah.
“Mrs Jesse told me about a place called Burley there that has nice picnic areas, pubs and shops and even has a horse and cart ride.”
“They have shops Sarah; surely shopping hasn’t become boring to you?”
“They are when you have no money to spend in them.” She replied sourly back to her Dad.
“Ok then how about Mum and I give you a tenner each to keep yourself occupied whilst we take Lucy on a cart ride.”
“Fifteen.”
“Ok but that will be all your holiday money. You won’t get any more.”
“That’s fine by me.”
“Good we have a deal then.”
“Right, well you can clean Lucy up and get her dressed and I will start making a nice picnic for us then go and get the directions from Mrs Jesse.” Mum finalised handing over a milk dribbling Lucy to Dad giving Sarah a contented smile.
***
After twenty minutes travelling on the busy roads and seeing nothing out of the window but vast spaces of green shrubs and mauve pink heather ground with the occasional horse forming a dot of variety the family arrived at Burley nestled in the New Forest. Upon entering the village a family of horses passed slow and calm over the road halting the traffic for a full ten minutes. Mum, who sat in the front seat, immediately got out of the car and unbuckled Lucy from her toddler seat to bring her out to see them. Sarah just turned the volume on her I-pod up ten notches as Lucy’s squeals of delight penetrated the car windows. Once the horses had passed and trotted a few metres away from the road into the moor land to graze the traffic resumed and so the family reached the centre of Burley. Following the signs Dad drove into the car park and managed to park in the shade of a big sycamore tree.
“Ok who wants lunch?” Dad hinted getting out of the car and heading to the back.
“Do you want lunch?” Mum asked Lucy tapping her on the nose.
“Yeah lunch. Crispies.”
“Only once you’ve eaten your sandwiches young lady.”
“Would you like some pop Sarah?” Dad’s muffled voice called from the back of the car.
“Yeah.”
“Come and get it then.” There was a low mutter of complaint as she got out of the car her I-pod still firmly locked into her ears and mind. “There you go, which sandwich is yours?” Sarah didn’t answer but grabbed it for herself. “Cheer up; it’s not the end of the world you know.”
“When can I go shopping?”
“After lunch if you’re that eager. Eat first.”
A very brief lunch occurred upon the picnic blanket between Sarah and family. Before long they were giving her money, making sure she must stay within the village centre and keep her mobile on at all times and to come back to the car in an hour. With the lecture complete she skulked off, her I-pod never breaking connection with her brain.
The shops she found didn’t impress her. There were all new age, witches and wizard type shops, mainly for the benefit of tourists if anything else.
Eventually after wandering round she found herself in the Magic Cavern shop staring through the window at all the weird yet oddly cool objects on the shelves and window display. There were packs of Tarot Cards, Angel Cards, Runes, Spell books of any kind, and earrings with fairies, unicorn pendants, charm bracelets, funky fantasy pictures and a rather grand statuette of a blue dragon on the side of a smoke frothing basin. Just as she was about to move on back to the fudge shop which seemed the only thing to appeal to her she caught a glimpse of someone watching her.
He appeared to be her age but there was something, unusual about him, not the fact that his clothes were quite dark a black T-shirt with a silver howling wolf on the front and cropped black jeans with red and black striped socks on black trainers but some part of Sarah felt a twinge of fear as well as growing curiosity. Perhaps it was his very pale skin set against such deep coloured clothing or the way he seemed to be smiling at her which made Sarah blush a little.
She looked away and walked into the store, not to look or buy anything but simple to free herself from this feeling of embarrassment. Once inside she allowed herself to relax by picking a random book off the shelf and flicking through it as if interested. At the middle of the book she found a picture of faeries all dancing in a large circle around a purple fire in a wood that was full of blue bells and other wild flowers. Standing at one side of the dancers was clearly the King and Queen of the faeries. She felt a shudder along her spine.
“Please tell me you don’t believe in this rubbish?” a voice as strong yet delicate as a trickling stream spoke up behind her. She looked around and only just managed to prevent herself from screaming with fright. It was the boy.
“Erm…erm…no…” she managed to reply quickly putting the book back and casting her eyes around the now packed shop looking for an escape route.
“Good, good.” He merely said that almost visible smile returning to his face yet sparks of mischief glistened in his eyes beneath his shoulder length black hair. “My name is Nathaniel but you can just call me Nathan.”
“Erm…Sarah.” Something about his presence so close to her in the cramped shop was making speech difficult yet she felt a sense of thrill excitement swirling together with fear and suspicion in her stomach.
“Come with me, I will show you something that is a lot more fun than this place.” Without even a nod of consent Sarah found herself following him out of the shop her mind enchanted by him with curiosity.
However as they were waiting to cross the road directly outside the shop and its book wide paths they were stopped by another unexpected source.
“Nathaniel. Where do you think you’re going?” the pair of teenagers looked around for the voice, both looking equally worried by the tone of authority. Nathanial quickly caught Sarah by the hand and tugged her back into the shops entranceway.
“Where are you staying?”
“Huh?” Sarah asked completely confused and uncomfortable.
“Please tell me. Then we can meet again.”
“Erm…Church Farm. Why?”
“Right, you know the river?”
“Yeah.” She merely nodded being so overwhelmed with the anxiety in his voice
“Meet me there tomorrow night. Alone.”
“Erm…when?”
“I’ll be waiting.” With another brief smile he walked briskly out of the shop heading across the road.
“Wait!” Sarah called out running after him but halting again at the side due to traffic. “How do you know which farm I’m staying at?”
He stopped and stared over at her, a full smile brightening his face. “I live here. This is my home. I know everywhere.” Again he turned away and ran into the crowds and became invisible. Leaving Sarah with a strange sense of abandonment and the feeling a pair of eyes still lingered on her.
***
The rest of that day returned to its usual boring state but Sarah could not hide the mixed emotions churning inside and visible upon her face. Mum asked if she was feeling well or perhaps home sick but Sarah merely passed it off as deep boredom which due to her attitude before her parents could only assume as the truth.
When they returned back to the barn cottage tea time passed with little conversation other than from between Mum, Dad and Lucy playing with her new toy farm set. Sarah remained upstairs in the bedroom playing her I-pod trying to control her feelings and the nagging part of her that wanted to meet Nathanial that night. The problem was she knew she wouldn’t be able to walk down by the river without Mum or Dad accompanying her and something inside her knew she must go alone.
She didn’t have to wait long to gain the opportunity as just after seven Mrs. Jesse came over and announced that there was going to be a small firework display out at the river banks to celebrate the holiday farm’s tenth birthday and everyone was invited.
“Oh we would love to come but I think the bangs might be a bit too scary for Lucy.” Mum replied putting Lucy’s toy farm animals back into their farmhouse box.
“Can’t I still go?” Sarah interjected from her position on the stairs.
“I’d rather you didn’t go on your own dear.”
“Awww but Mum!”
“How about I go with her love? I can take the camera then and get some nice holiday snaps.” Dad offered as a compromise.
Mum paused to think before turning to Sarah. “Hummm you can go only if your Dad goes with you.”
“Thanks Mum!” Sarah yelled full of excitement rushing forwards and giving her Mum a hug.
“Hey don’t I get one for being a bodyguard?” Dad asked appearing hurt.
“No all you’re going to do is embarrass me.” Sarah answered with a smirk
“Well I’m glad that’s sorted. I will expect to see you both there then. It starts in about half an hour. Bye!” Mrs. Jesses said goodbye in her usual cheery fashion disappearing into the darkness as Dad closed the old split barn doors.
***
Sarah felt a sense of relief when she and Dad arrived at the river bank to a large crowd lining the river gathered around hot jacket potato cookers and tables where coffees and hot chocolates were being poured.
“They really are making it a celebration, fancy a hot chocolate?” Dad asked openly surveying the area but just as he finished the question he caught a glimpse of Sarah already pushing her way ahead. “Stay nearby Sarah, don’t wander off!” He yelled before shaking his head with a sigh.
Sarah wasn’t listening. She was too busy frantically looking everywhere for that boy. She had managed to work her way through to the other end of the crowds and met the opposing dark scenery the other side away from the electric hand held lamps. She stood there for a moment, rubbing her arms to keep warm and looking out across the moonlit river.
“Hello Sarah.”
She jumped inside and managed to turn around quick enough to meet the strangely unnerving smiling face of the boy.
“Erm, hi, erm, how do you know my name?” She asked suspiciously.
“Well your dad did shout it out for everyone to hear and apart from me you’re the only teenager here. Everyone else is adult.”
“Oh, right.” A sheepish smile managed to topple her nerves for a second.
“Plus you did tell me your name in Burley.”
“Did I?”
“Yes you did, now come on; let’s go over here for a bit so we can talk. I’ve been so bored recently with no one my age to chat to.”
“Erm, ok but not too far, otherwise my Dad will get panicky.”
“Of course, I wouldn’t want to worry anyone about your safety.” Nathanial turned and began a slow casual walk forwards, Sarah cautiously followed after one quick glance at the crowds behind and managed to glimpse her Dad talking to another man with a steaming mug in his hands.
They walked for a minute and then found a relatively flat patch of damp grass to sit. Nathanial graciously took off his black jacket and laid it down for Sarah to sit on.
“Thanks.”
“You’re very welcome.” He let out a relaxed almost relieved sigh as both faced out across the river. “Are you enjoying your holiday?”
“Kind of, we were meant to be going to Spain this year but due to Virgin finding problems on their planes we’ve had to come here again.”
“Oh, and what’s wrong with here?”
“Nothing I guess, but we’ve kind of seen everywhere and done everything. We’ve been coming here since I was little and I’m just getting bored of it all now.”
“Hummm. Well I can’t have you being bored in such a fair country. Would you like me to show you something that you most definitely haven’t seen before?”
Sarah looked into his eyes that sparkled and glistened like the river in the moonlight. A large bang and sparkle appeared in the sky with an almighty making her jump. The fireworks had begun. Nathanial appeared unsurprised. “Is it very far from here?”
“No, only a minute walk away, just round that corner into the field. I promise I will have you back before your Dad notices. We have time whilst everyone’s watching the fireworks.”
Sarah looked into the crowds again, now merely a mass of blackness with the odd outlines figure of light as people continued to mill about after food or drink, their heads all turned to the sky. “Erm ok, but we must be quick. Otherwise I will be grounded when we get back.”
Nathanial got up and helped Sarah also to her feet before leading her by the hand further into the darkness beyond the crowds, following the shadowy frame of the tall hedge and soon arrived at the entrance
“Wait here a moment. I will be right back.” Nathanial let her go and strode into the coal black field out of sight. The feeling of being watching swiftly returned over Sarah making her feel uncomfortable. There was a rustle of grass in the black distance and slowly Nathanial’s form reappeared with something concealed in his hands. “Now, you must promise not to scream when I show you this.”
“It’s not a spider is it? I hate spiders.”
Nathanial bellowed a laugh rich and deep. “No, no, it’s not a spider. Something much better. You ready?” Sarah nodded her arms wrapped close around herself. Nathanial slowly opened up his closed hands, a flicker of light stirred inside making Sarah give a quiet gasp of surprise until his hands revealed what was inside.
On what seemed to be a large oak leaf laid a ting creature that glowed like a candle. Its light flickered with each movement. Sarah had no doubt what it was but she still couldn’t believe it.
“Is it real?”
“As real as me and you. Would you like to hold her?”
“Hold it? Her? So it really is…”
Nathanial laughed again. “Of course it is, don’t you know anything about faeries? They’re all girls, the men look like mini moths.”
“Sounds like you know a lot of about them.”
“I guess you could say I study them. Would you like to hold her?”
Something broke the atmosphere around them. “Nathanial. You know the rules by which we live. Let the girl go. Leave her be.” It was the same voice they had both heard in Burley and like before it seemed to have no source except all around them.
“Parents, mine are as bad if not worse than yours. I best take you back to the party.” Clearly more hurried Nathanial walked swiftly away, concealing the tiny figure in his hands once more as he lead Sarah back towards the light of the crowds. “You must not breathe a word of this to anyone Sarah. This is something you must keep secret.”
“Of course Nathan, no one would believe me anyway.”
His mouth grinned brimming with mischief. “That is the wonder of myths and legends, their beautiful lies that conceal such truths. Please, take her as a gift from me to you to make your holiday a bit more enjoyable.”
“Keep her? I can’t! I don’t know how to look after a faerie? I mean what on earth do they eat?”
Her clear confusion and panic at such a proposal made Nathanial laugh. “Don’t worry Sarah; I won’t let you really keep her. No faerie should be kept as a pet. We managed to stop that happening centuries ago. No, I will let you keep her image, as a necklace perhaps?” He opened his hands from one dangled a thin gold chain which bore a very faerie like pendant. It looked like the exact mirror image of the real one.
“Wow, it’s beautiful.”
“Yes, they are such pretty creatures. Here, let me put it on.” He unclasped the link and draped it over her head and upon her neck then fastened it shut again.
“Thanks.”
“You’re welcome. Now, what do you think to coming again next year? We could be bored together then.” He gave a pleasant smirk riddled with mischief waiting to happen.
“Sarah! Sarah! Where are you?” Her Dad’s voice came booming out over the crowds.
“Erm…” She replied looking worriedly into the mass of people waiting for him to come charging over and be embarrassing.
“Promise me you will Sarah. I can show you so much more if you do.”
“Erm…ok. I will, depends on parents of course.”
“Perfect. I will look forward to our next meeting.”
“Sarah! Sarah! Oh there you are. What did I tell you about wandering too far.”
“Dad I wasn’t I was just…” Sarah turned away again but Nathanial was no longer there. She searched the darkness for his shape and thought she spotted him disappearing back around the field entrance.
“You were just nothing Sarah, come on back over here where I can keep an eye on you. It’s too dangerous to let you go wandering into the dark; you don’t know who you might run into. Come on.” With a gentle tug on her shoulder Sarah followed her Dad, one hand already fiddling with the tiny gold figure captured upon the chain.
Just before she was swallowed by the crowd she took one final glance back, her promise still repeating itself in her mind. Just at the end of her vision into the darkness she thought she made out three figures, two taller than the other who stood between them. All were finely gowned; a few sparkles came from around their necks and hands depicting possible jewels. Although their faces appeared blurred the smaller figure in the middle bore the one unmistakable smile that Sarah will never forget. And within the space of a single blink those shadowy figures had vanished. Leaving Sarah with a great sense of excitement and a new found hope for her half term holidays.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Seaside Dreams:

Beneath this golden sand lies buried treasure left by pirates.
That is if you don’t count Dad once you’ve buried him up to his neck.

Deep in this pool is a giant octopus that guards a giant pearl.
Beware the crab as they can snap your fingers or toes off.

Somewhere along the large rocks of the shore,
Mermaids frolic, playing with the dolphins.

On a stormy night great Neptune can be seen riding his chariot.
His arms stretched out holding his pronged sceptre commanding the seas.

Trapped within the white cliffs are dinosaur bones and even whole eggs!
Take one home, keep it home and you can hatch a baby T-rex before tea.

At the top of the beach is King Arthur’s castle. Many buckets high.
It has four flags flying at its four towers and a water filled moat to guard it.

All of this and much more can be seen.
You must only seek the seaside of your childhood dreams.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Nothing I've ever known - based on the Bryan Adams song

“You’re joking right?” I asked although it was quite clear he wasn’t. That spark of humour in his eyes wasn’t there.
“No I’m not Liz. I know I should have told you sooner…”
“You got that right Dan! Were you ever going to tell me?” I knew my words had stung him but I was beyond any point of caring.
“Course I was, I just… I couldn’t…”
“Don’t you dare use the ‘right time’ line Dan don’t you bloody dare! Ever since you met me it’s been the right time. And you can’t say you forgot either because no decent bloke would forget he was getting married and had two kids.” I stopped throwing my clothes into my over sized shopping bags and looked at him for the first time in pure disgust. “God I was wrong about you.”
“Ok I admit I’ve been a complete bastard keeping this from you Liz but…”
“Ugh there is no but Dan, no bloody excuse for what you’ve done.” I stopped again angry pain ceasing control of my voice. “Were you ever going to leave her for me Dan? Were you? Or did you think you could really juggle a family and me at the same time? Did you even love me?”
He looked at me, his face pale with shame and embarrassment. “I…I don’t know.”
“Jesus Christ Dan! You really took me for a ride didn’t you? I can’t believe I was fool enough to believe all this. None of it was true. None of it was love.”
“Liz…please…wait, listen, I did…I did love you.” He tried to stop me taking my mug out of the cupboard but I threw it to the floor instead.
“Love? You loved me? No you didn’t Dan. You never did. I don’t think you even know the meaning of love let alone the true value of it. Love Dan is when you stay loyal and true to one person and one person only. Not two, not three not even bloody four just the one. You made me think I was that one Dan. Now I hear that I am just a secondary lover, nothing more no less. God Dan, if you truly loved me you would be marrying me instead of her, you would have moved in with me by now, those kids would be ours! I can’t believe you lied to me for so long.”
“I am so sorry Liz, I never meant for it to happen this way.”
“For Hell’s sake Dan how did you think it was going to end? No one ever manages a relationship and family at once. No-one! I mean even if I hadn’t found out what would happen if your missus did? Do you actually think we would all get along and play happy families? You really are so stupid yet I’m the stupid one for falling for it.” Grabbing my loaded bags as best I could I made for the door. “Goodbye Dan, good luck with your perfect marriage. Send my best to your kids. I hope it all goes well for you.”
“Liz, please wait! Let’s talk this through.”
“There’s nothing to talk through Dan. You used me. To cheat on your wife and boy do I hope she finds out sooner or later and realise like me what a pathetic piece of shit you are. No woman deserves to be treated the way you treated me and her. That’s the only thing we have in common.”
“I am truly sorry Liz I never wanted to hurt you. I do care about you.”
“Ha! That means nothing to me coming from your mouth Dan, but know this. I loved you. I really, truly did with all my heart and I know for a fact I would never do this to you. I actually believed I had found a new happy life with you. Now you’ve taken that away from me and I may never find it.” With one final glance over the guy I had spent a year and half loving and laughing with I left his inner city flat and staggered into the lift with my luggage which was thankfully empty.
Once outside I managed to call a taxi, bundle my things into his boot and control my tears for the long drive home. My heart in pieces and my mind in chaos.
I didn’t know what would become of me now. Alone in a world filled with happy couples and married lovers. I felt lost in a sea of memories that felt like wasp stings inside, a swarm I couldn’t escape.
All that made sense in my mind was that I needed a strong drink when I got back in.

Bite of the Cobra

It had been nearly three hours since my man had entered the tavern. I had heard the cheers of his arrival from the shadows. Even now I could still hear the drunk’s terrible singing and the whore’s wicked laughter.
Many in my position would have been in there already. Warm and dry, contentedly drinking some ale and lying low in a corner somewhere waiting for the time required. Those who took that step were fools and all fools in this business never get the chance to make the same mistake twice. I was far better at this job than most.
So there I was, one cold and wretched night earning my way in the world. Though the rare few knew about my role in society and those who do are quick to deny it. I wrapped my cloak around me for further warmth pinning it against me with my clenched, gloved hands. My mind was already preparing the next step when at a most convenient time he finally emerged from the tavern. As I had predicted a whore or two still clinging to him, probably hoping for a warm bed that night instead of rags. I wasn’t too concerned about the whore being with him, the more practice for me was my view on things.
He was the typical type that I had been sent after. Proud, rich, popular and always full of himself. I followed him away from the tavern and into the centre of town towards the market place. I could still catch phrases whilst he continued his drunken boasts to the whore he had chosen. Each word he uttered rattled me; my daggers were desperate to whip out his tongue with anger. Maybe that’s why my colleagues often referred to me as the cobra. They all knew how good I was especially when angered.
He finally started passing through a darker and quieter part of town, away from the lights of the centre. My moment came when they walked up a dark side street in the direction of the upper quarters, hoping to be back within his richly decorated walls and fine furnishings. Ironically enough it was as he stooped to vomit that I plunged my dagger into her neck, her surprised gurgles made him think she was muttering disgust. When he stood close to up right again he found her lying face down on the floor and with his drunken perception presumed she had fainted. He actually attempted to lift her up which was quite humorous to me if to no one else. After several laborious minutes he finally gave in and turned around to meet a glistening dagger at his throat when I came up silently behind him. He froze as fear grasped him.
“Who…who are you?” he muttered.
“Not so high now are you Councillor.”
“What do you want? I have no gold on me.”
I laughed. “You would never have enough gold to satisfy me Councillor.” He attempted to turn his head but I held the dagger closer against his throat, he continued to remain motionless. “Now if you wouldn’t mind throwing away your sword over there please then we can be done with this.”
He did as he was told however reluctantly and just before his sword hit the ground so did he; two deep but clean slashes across his throat. I paused to listen but all was peaceful. I carried out my job, stripping him of all sellable possessions but as always I left my mark, two small level crosses engraved in his skin upon his chest.
***
“You sure he didn’t carry any gold C?” Jared asked me when I had returned to our den. He was busy rifling through the things I had collected roughly noting in his mind how much he could possibly sell them for.
“You know how thorough I am Jared so don’t doubt me.” I answered coolly back untying the dark cloak from my shoulders and hanging it on a blunt nail that stuck out of the rock wall.
I went across to my wardrobe and pulled out a small bottle of gin taking a quick swig before placing it back again.
“You never offer me any of that.” He complained loudly to himself.
I didn’t bother answering that remark. I took off my gloves and shoes and put on the ones that were in the wardrobe before picking out a dress and changing behind the large picture boards.
When changed I sat upon the old leather sofa I had managed to smuggle down to my lair and started cleaning and sharpening my daggers and sword. Whilst I wiped the blades back and forth with a piece of worn velvet cloth Jared came and sat opposite me upon an ancient rocking chair.
“They won’t fetch a lot but they may just sell for enough to repair your chest plate.” I instinctively looked towards the piece of armour that hung upon the wall beside my night cloak. Its dented form glistening in the candle light.
“I trust you know a metal smith who won’t ask any questions.”
“Oh yes.”
“Good.” I said in agreement holding one blade nearer a candle and inspecting for any small dents or cuts upon it. There was none. “No more job opportunities tonight?” I finally asked looking directly at my fellow under city companion. Noticing the snake green tint in his eyes.
“Not tonight no. But I will let you know if anyone contacts me with an offer.”
“Good remember to make it something worthwhile. All these assignations for rival councillors are starting to get boring. No matter how much they pay me for it.”
“I will remember that. Are you going back to the house then C?”
“Yes the housemaids should be asleep by now.”
“Very well watch your window for any news and I hope to see you again soon.”
“Goodnight Jared.” I finished opening a rusty metal door and ascending the damp stairs to the ground above, holding my red dress up to avoid marks that may cause suspicion.

Whilst out of business I had to be content with playing my cursed role of a Governors daughter, which bored me to death. Every morning I was surrounded by housemaids helping me dress, applying make up to my face turning me into a ghost. Then in the afternoon I was hounded by the towns eligible men all wanting to court me and of course not one of them was interested in me at all. They were all vain selfish aristocrats wanting nothing more but to enlarge their inheritance and that meant marrying me. All the other women of my age in this high society had already been married off, some happily and some not so happy with their match their parents chose for them. However I was lucky. I had made my father vow that I will only marry one I chose myself and he agreed to it on the condition they had to be of noble blood. Of course personally I was never going to marry; I enjoyed my privacy and my secret life too much to ever surrender it for anyone.
Well that was what I once believed until I met Guy. Guy of the Loimbards was his full term of address. The Loimbard’s gained their status due to the fact that they had great jewel mines across the country and so made their money off the back of slaves.
I first saw Guy at another boring dinner party and he immediately caught my attention. If only due to the fact that he seemed as bored as I did and when he found me alone day dreaming at the balcony one evening he did not talk about himself but enquired about me which was a rare thing in those days. He asked about my family, my childhood, my future plans as well as present. I returned by asking similar questions and we did more or less spend that whole evening discussing anything that came to mind from the towns politics to national affairs and even a bit of philosophy. He was very impressive and that night we agreed to meet again the following evening for tea and more lively discussion.
It was that night I saw the owl in the tree and was faced with a decision between social life and secret life. In the end I sent a messenger to the Loimbard mansion expressing my apologies but I am feeling unwell so pretending to be very tired I went to my room early that night. When I was sure no one was going to come and check on me I made my escape out of the window, my dress flapping in the breeze and made my way to my lair.
Jared quickly explained this was an odd job of sorts for instead of killing I was meant to watch the target against other assassins. Assassin against assassin was an extremely intriguing and unusual idea I thought but I agreed to it anyway.
For many hours I merely shadowed my target or I guess you could call him employer but I preferred to think of myself in this profession as my own boss. Watching him walk along the murky streets towards one of the more popular taverns in town. Now it was starting to get challenging as I could not just walk in there dressed as I am so I walked around the alley side of the tavern and watched from a distance through the windows. As usual whores of all kinds were flattering him and making lustful gestures but after several drinks he had enough and went to the back where the lavatories were. I quickly followed on the outside and found the small lavatory window open. Through this I watched him lean against the wall with one hand holding he penis with the other. No one else was in the room other than him.
Until one of the closet doors swung open and a figure quickly swung at him with a dagger which pierced my man straight through his neck. Blood sprayed against the wall in a fan like expression. I immediately slid through the window grabbing the other assassin’s arm and twisting it behind his back. His other hand attempted to swing behind to strike me but I was pinning his arm from a distance.
“Shall we take this outside?” I growled just before he began to seriously lash at me. Aware that it was unwise to start a battle with the bar only outside behind a corridor.
He merely nodded and stopped struggling. I foolishly let go and dashed back out the window again into the dark of the back yard. I hadn’t even turned around before he pounced on me pushing me to the ground. I fought back as best I could but he was sitting directly on top of my back so I could kick my legs as much as I wanted but I could not twist round or roll out from underneath him.
“Shall we make introductions?” he asked slyly. I knew what was coming next. He quickly ripped off my hat and tore off my mask scarf. There was nothing I could do but hope an assassin would respect a fellow assassin.
There was silence.
“Catharine?”
I was stunned. The way he said my name struck a nerve deep down inside of me. My attacker briskly got off me as if he was stung. I pulled myself up and just stared at him trying to work out who he was. Then surprisingly he took off his own mask.
“Guy?”
We both stood staring for seconds. Finally I cracked and started laughing. He was confused at first, then smirked and joined in.
That was nearly ten years ago now and life is never boring. Guy and I are happily married although to some it may be a marriage made in hell for we still go out at night to hunt in the darkness. We are now known as the Twin Cobra’s the deadliest of snakes.

Friday, 18 July 2008

I am....

When you feel your heart stop
And a shiver down your back.
That is me.
Merely testing your courage to see
If you will last another night.

When you hear a knock or tap
But each time no one is there.
It is I.
Challenging your strength as
I misbehave.

Have you ever looked the dead in the eyes
and feel you no longer know them?
Because I have been there.
Performing my destined task.

Do you still not know me?

Have you not heard the screams and
Cries upon the wind at night?
It is I.
Parading by as I come to collect.

Still do not know me?

Well listen and listen well Mortal
for many of over the ages
Have forgotten my presence and
Even fewer remember my name.

I am the glorious and beautiful
Death Bringer.
I select the bravest and most deserving of you all.
I am a Valkyrie.
And if you see me, it may be your turn to fall.

Black Prophecy: Ragnarok

All things end in death.
It is Death that ends all things.

Trees are to be burnt.
Rivers to run dry.
Seas to boil slowly away to nothing.
Leaving the earth bare to the sky.

Clouds to contain giant storms.
Their lightening to scorch earth in fire.
Their rain to drown the plains
And destroy everything you desire.

People will kill people.
Animals to kill animals.
Father against son
Until death makes all undone.

The Gods on high
And the Gods below.
Fight each other amidst
The cries of pain and woe.

All this makes a path for death
To stride in proud and tall.
With one foul touch of his poised hand
Create an ending for us all.

Yet fear not death my young ones.
For he is merely a guide to us all.
To help us reach Odin’s side.
Where we will feast and fight forever more.

Until the fated Final Day
Sleep well knowing this
That whether you die now or later.
The life beyond Death is far greater.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

One Pleasant Day

Petals of white and blue
Form clusters of colour.
Golden hue insects buzz and hum
From one pot to another.

Blackbirds forage for grubs, ants
And worms beneath the topiary.
Finches in mixed tones
Twit and chat amongst its greenery.

Fern slumbers below the crab apple tree.
Her paws twitch in the rush of dreams.
Her fur shines like jet fresh from the sea.
Her tongue is lolling across her teeth.

Blossom from the cherry tree has decorated
The grass by the artistic wind.
From the nearby field I can hear
The pheasant call and a starling sing.

Sitting still and quiet, admiring all
I wonder on such pleasant day as this
How much longer will it stay?
If only summer wasn’t as fleeting as a kiss.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

A Summer Wish:

The shimmering shade
And shafts of sunlight
Slide across bark and grass.

Bluebells bob and bounce
As the wind blows
Beneath bough and branch.

Twitters and chatters chime
Together from the canopy
Of trees converging on the sky.

Short yips and yaps herald
The playful circus
Of the fox cubs discovering the outside.

Watching with a smile
And bursts of fond laughter
You sit in this peaceful bliss.

Your watch reminds you
Of the spinning world.
For once you wish
If it could just stop
And leave this summer as it is.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Posion - a revised version of The Stranger poem under the title For Those Who Know Alcoholics

Poison

The stab of the screw causes the cork to jettison with a pop.
The crystal ring and slosh as the poison is poured into the glass.
For one more. One more sip, mouthful, glass, entire bottle. It’s never enough.
The poison makes his heart, mind, and eyes blind to what he’s losing. What he’s become.
It has burnt his heart dry, making it as empty, hollow and black as each bottle he drains.
He is oblivious to the pleading looks of his children, the tears in his wife’s eyes,
All hoping, praying, wishing, waiting,
For him to change.
To be the father that used to laugh, his eyes once filled with happiness.
To be the husband that used to smile, a heart once filled with love.
He was once all this but the poison has made him nothing more than a live-in stranger.
His former self leaves them contained in the endless empty bottles they put out to recycle

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Saving the Amazon


When I was a few years old my parents set up the Amazon Aromas Bar and Café in our little town. My Dad took care of the food in the kitchen and run the bar during the evening, he was always better at cooking than Mum. Yet my Mum was the master of the coffee machines serving delightful hot and cold drinks; from hot Mexican chocolate with sprinkles and pearl white marshmallows to frothy, bubbly milkshakes with a big dollop of ice cream churned in.
The very first milkshake I had was a Raspberry Ripple, a spiral of red and white in a tall glass with a pink curly straw. No one else could ever do such a splendid and wondrous milkshake, it truly was a well worked craft that only she alone possessed. No other milkshake but hers would make your tongue lap the liquid more lavishly, your throat tingle with the chill of enjoyment or your stomach squirm with pleasure. If Willie Wonka was real then my Mum was his female counterpart but in the drinks buisness.
On my thirteenth birthday Mum brought me a new drink as a surprise instead of a birthday cake. It was a large sundae glass, complete with a large topping of ice-cream on the top with a sparkler stood in it but what truly fascinated me was the layer beneath the vanilla ice-cream. The colours. A rainbow of colours. She had captured the essence of a rainbow and put it in a glass just for me. I simply said ‘Wow!’ It was the Amazon’s, as we all called it, fifth year running my birthday was celebrated there as a private party will all my friends and staff members. I remember looking up at Mum with the biggest smile I could manage, she returned it equally. She set it before me on my plate along with a long spoon and stepped back to lean against my Dad who simply grinned.
“What’s in it Mum?” I asked cautious even in the midst of my growing excitement.
“Why don’t you tell me once you’ve tried it, Amy?” was her encouraging answer.
I looked around all the beaming faces as curious as I was, took a breath and then plunged the spoon in, past the ice-cream and into the drink beneath. I drew it out carefully, trying my best to keep as much of the liquid rainbow on it as possible. Taking another breath I put it in my mouth. To this day I can not truly describe the taste that slowly slid onto my tongue as I took the spoon out slowly. It was like my mouth had been crammed full of exotic fruits, yet amongst all this taste there was an entirely new sensation. A fizz of bubbles, much like drinking Cola but not as harsh on the mouth. It felt like each flavour was attached to a balloon and when it burst the flavour plummeted upon my tongue as an intense explosion across my taste buds. Dad always said that as soon as it was in my mouth my eyes were as wide as saucers. I’m not surprised. After swallowing with such reluctance from my tongue I looked up to her again.
“WOW! What’s it called? It’s fantastic!”
“Fruit Fiesta I think. Do you like it?”
“I love it! The lemonade is great with it.”
“Could you tell what fruits I put in?”
“Erm, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Blueberries, Raspberries, Satsuma’s, Pears…”As my list continued Dad beckoned everyone to the buffet table, they all knew I had gone into a moment of fruit passion which was only ever shared between me and Mum.
After that birthday Fruit Fiesta became a new favourite of my school friends and in fact all the school kids who went past our café on the way to and from school. It beat Lilt and Cola hands down, there was simply nothing better.
Only when I hit sweet sixteen did Mum and Dad decide to officially integrate me into the business giving me a part time job as drinks assistant with Mum. I could not bring myself to say yes just jump up and down with pure excitement and joy. There was no place on earth I would have rather worked than with my Mum and it meant finally I would be able to learn to make and serve them myself. Until then I made them for myself at home but this job would allow me to do it professionally. Mum and me split the drinks between ourselves she would handle the coffees and hot chocolate whilst I made the milkshakes for all my friends who still visited after a day at the local college where most of them went after we finished school. I myself was content with where I was, I needed no further education but that given from Mum.
I had only been working with my friends and parents barely six months when Mum took me into the store room for the first time. The smells in there were intensely delicious. Sacks of Mexican cocoa beans, boxes and cartons of every type of fruit we use in the milkshakes, crates of African coffee beans, two large fridges full of milk and ice-creams of every flavour. To me this was a place full of edible magic. She helped me learn and memories the correct measurements of each ingredient she used and spot the beans that were a bit lower in colour, smell and texture than the rest. Mum only ever used the best to make the best and that was the only secret behind her creations.
After gathering several small tubs filled with cocoa and coffee beans she showed me how to set them in the coffee and hot chocolate machine, how long to grind them for before mixing the hot drinks correctly and adding just the right amount of milk and cocoa powder on top of the froth. She sipped it and gave me the thumbs up.
I had learnt the final lesson, how to make the perfect coffee and hot chocolate which meant that I could finally serve both hot and cold drinks as good as my own Mum. At that moment I felt like things were truly perfect and right with the world.
Eventually months became years one after the other and I continued to work and learn from my Mum. Our family run café had been serving customers for coming up to ten years. However things weren’t as they used to be, Dad announced to us both one night that the finances were struggling and had clearly dipped over the past years and with the lease coming up again we might struggle to pay it off this time. Things had to change. We had stayed the same whilst all around us the town grew and other businesses became big competition such as clubs and bars and the dreaded fast food franchise which had also arrived. The question was how could we attract more customers and new business? Sacking staff was out of the question in my Dad’s eyes but we all agreed that it would have to be done if we wanted to save up money to keep the business going. I went to bed that night determined to do something that would save the Amazon, all my thoughts focused on it making sleep slow to capture me yet it was sleep that gave the answer.
The next day I set to work, calling up old mates and former collegeus asking for their assistance, only after I made the tenth phone call did Mum ask what I was up to. I told her. She gave out a loud shriek of excitement before running off to give Dad the news. Their reaction all the more confirmed that my idea was the best course of action.
Three weeks later my plan became reality. It had taken lots of hard work from all those loyal to our cause but I had the best fun in ages. The flyers, posters and pamphlets had been handed out, word had been spread, all that we could now was prepare for the crowds we all hoped would come. So it was that summer evening everything was ready, two tanned guys wearing skirts and arm bands of leaves and holding bamboo spears stood at the door to welcome our guests, strings of fake vines and toy monkeys adorned the ceiling and flower candles were aglow on all the tables, shelves and any available surface. Everyone was wearing green and brown outfits, with flower chains hanging from their necks or in their hair in the case of the girls. In the background our home hi-fi system was playing jungle tribe music. Half an hour passed and we all shifted about anxiously looking outside every ten minutes. Our first couple arrived quite surprised by the decoration of the place and my Dad guided them warmly toward our buffet of Amazon themed edibles and Mum’s latest fruit packed cocktails which she had invented especially for this evening, another set of drinks I was eager to learn myself having sampled them all. A few more arrived not long after, then another small group until gradually we became quite full. The Amazon extravaganza had begun.
That night was one to remember not just because it was successful in raising the much needed funds and becoming a regular event enjoyed by all but amongst those numbers I met my husband, a bar manager and expert cocktail maker who still claims it was my Mum’s own cocktails that changed him. Now twenty years on we’re still here and it is me this time who teaches the next generation the secrets my Mum formerly taught me, behind Amazon Aromas.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Crossing Over


It’s a strange country, that between life and death. A place so many live in yet even more fail to recognise. No one ever recognises the truth when it’s up close to them, which is why this world of ours co exists so well within another.

It’s a way of life to me now. I’ve been doing this line of work for countless years. So it doesn’t surprise me when I find myself beside another hospital bed on another hospital ward. The beds all containing a sick or dying child, much the same age I was once a long time ago. May explain why I am always given these jobs in particular.

The bed before me has a girl, no more than twelve years old, chest monitors and tube drips clinging into her body. Her head covered in bandages and dressing and stitches. A woman in her middle ages lies across her, head wrapped in her arms. A doctor and nurse stand close behind her, the nurse resting a caring hand on the woman’s shoulder whilst the doctor’s hand halts over several buttons beneath the now blank and silent screen of the machine next to the bed.

I take my list out of my pocket and double check her name.

“Rachel. Wake up Rachel.” I call soothingly as my voice echoes around the soundless ward. No one else hears or sees me but her. I am only visible to those who I must awaken.

The girl stirs, her eyes opening slowly as if from a deep, deep sleep. She takes a quick glance around her before finding me at the end of her bed.

“Hi.” Is her simple nervous answer. Her gaze quickly returns to her mother lying across the bed but not moving. “Mum? Mum?”

“Let her rest Rachel, you’ve given her quite a scare getting hurt like this.”

Pained eyes fix back onto me. “It was…It wasn’t…I didn’t mean to.” A fearful voice replies.

“I know Rachel; I know it was your Dad. Shall we go take those bandages off? They must be uncomfortable.” I offer my hand to help her out of the bed. She seems hesitant. They all are, especially the younger ones. I have an easier time scraping off concrete then removing a toddler from their parent’s side. “It’s ok. My name is Lizzy. The nurse says I can help you clean up and then take you for an ice-cream whilst your mum rests.”

As expected she looks to the nurse and doctor standing on the other side, their heads turn, their faces smile and give a slow nod, their eyes unblinking.

“Come on, your mum will be here when we come back.” If anything it’s the worst line I have to say and I hate saying it each and every day. Mainly because I was told it once. “Promise.” I put on my childish voice and give her a motherly smile.

She turns to the nurse and doctor again who remain looking down at her with pleased smiles before she agrees. I escort her down the empty corridors towards the nearest toilets. Once inside I slowly encourage her to take the bandages off. As each wrap peels away to reveal fresh new skin her eyes widen at the sight and eyes glisten with wonder at the now vanished presence of pain. “The doctors have made you all better see. Your mum will be so happy to see this.” I say trying to suppress any rising questions or doubts she has brewing in her mind.

With a bit more trust towards me I take her down three floors to the sunny garden area outside and to the ice-cream man with his push around ice-cream trolley. With a bit more encouragement she picks mint chocolate chip whilst I settle for vanilla. I go over to a bench to sit down in the deserted garden with my ice-cream Rachel follows, her eyes still looking around with interest, suspicion and curiosity at our loneliness.

“Would you like another treat?” I ask giving my biggest friendly smile.

“What is it?”

“Ah can’t say it’s a surprise. It’s a present for being such a brave girl. Your mum wants me to give it to you. If you promise to wait here I will go get it for you?” It only took another appealing smile for her to say yes.

I walked casually away behind the large trimmed bushes bordering the top end of the garden and waited whilst an old couple walked out after me towards Rachel. I watched from just behind the leading edge of the hedge as they stopped half way looking upon her with all the love in the world. It didn’t take long for Rachel to notice them and for a solid minute she merely stared at them, her ice-cream held aloof in one hand and the other over her mouth to prevent herself from screaming.

“Grandma? Grandpa?” came a truly shaken voice.

“My dear Rachel.” The woman muttered lovingly, her voice clearly filled with longing as she took a few more steps forward towards her.

“Is it really you? You’re meant to be dead? You died. You both died.”

“Come here and see if I’m not real young miss.” The man muttered with an affectionate grin as Rachel shrugged away all doubt, fear and panic and charged into their open arms. Shrieks of delight and tears erupted out of the reunited family.

My job was done. The Grandparents will explain the situation far better than I ever could. It was going to be painful, it always is but all those who cross over must go through it if they intend to survive on the other side. As I walk away all the trio will see is a young girl. The only remaining image of me even though my mind has far outgrown my body. Perhaps one day, Rachel might become a soul guide like me and help others like I did with her.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Alternative History: 877AD A new country is born

Victory! Great Odin we have victory! We have conquered the whole of England at last! Some say due to the cunning trickery only cursed Loki could think of but it is a small shame for such a big prize! The Englishmen are desperate and cowardly and so are willing to do anything to keep hold of their precious lands. We already own most of it! Mercia, Northumbria, East Anglia even mighty and proud Jorvik is ours! And now Wessex makes our new lands complete. I can still remember the scene on that great day. Me, my brothers, all in armour and shield walled lined up as strong as a mountain and just as unmovable behind our Liege Guthrum as he rode forth with his two guards to meet the shamed King of Wessex to agree ‘terms’. Oh what fools those Englishmen were that day. He only had a handful of men compared to our great force. The former King of Wessex believe Guthrum to be pulling a quill out of his robes to sign the so called agreement, how I wish I could have been there to see his face when not a quill emerged but a dagger which went flying into his horrified head. With a roar the strength of a lions we charged down the slopes to join in the killing as Guthrum’s guards finished off the pathetic priests and monks who attended Alfred’s side. England is no longer England but our new home, this is Viking country!

The Wolf Case - Version Two


The home I had been called to belonged to one of our elderly residents in Sherwood Forest. It was seven pm and even the flowers set beneath the latticed window were still awake. They were the first sign something wasn’t right. I gestured for the flowers to be quiet as I approached the door. I twisted the door open and placed my other hand on my water pistol before taking a step forward. Twenty years in the Ladybird Squad I had yet to use it, I was hoping tonight wouldn’t break that record.
The kitchen was immaculate and simple. Everything a small country kitchen can be expected to be. Except a broken basket once containing flowers on the floor. The flowers were too late to be saved. Dainty petals revealing the trail of their fall. They had been absent from water and soil too long. I heard a noise in the next room of the small bungalow.
“Hello? This is the police. Whose there?” I shouted, quietly drawing my water pistol ready to fire. A mixture of moans and sobs answered me. “Hello?” I approached the door cautious of the flickers of movement against the light underneath. More sobs and moans then a sharp voice cried out.
“Well are you going to come in or not?”
I entered and lowered my pistol. I looked around the room once and addressed the station on my walkie talkie requesting assistance.

It was ten o clock when all were assembled in the interview room. It was tough interviewing the two witnesses at this time on the same night as the incident but I didn’t want to give their memories time to fade and exaggerate things. My partner on this case was Detective Locks (herself a former famous house-breaker turned good.) She pressed the record button on our pink stereo.
“If you wouldn’t mind Mrs Granny would you please explain the events that occurred at your house?” Locks asked gently, giving a warm comforting smile towards the old lady. Who fiddled with her red spotted hanky before beginning.
“Well my day was fairly normal before this evening Detective. It was when Mr Wolf came to visit for tea as usual that all this happened.”
“And what exactly happened?” she continued.
“Mr Wolf appeared not to be his self at all. He knocked my basket of flowers right off the table. He usually likes talking to my Buttercups. Poor things never had a chance.” Sadness shone deep within her grey eyes.
“In a normal situation he would have spoken with your flowers?” It all seemed very strange for a wolf.
“Usually yes, he was quite a keen gardener. Had such a wonderful vegetable patch growing behind his cottage. He would often bring me some ripe cucumbers or aubergines, tomatoes, carrots, you name it he grew it. I was always telling him to try selling them at market but he wouldn’t because of all the prejudice towards him.”
“Were you aware of his shady background as a former outlaw? As a member of the Paw Pack?” I asked intrigued.
“Oh yes, he told me all about his past with that horrid gang. But I truly believed he had changed and especially for his turn to vegetarianism. Ever since those three naughty pigs tricked him down a chimney. He even showed me the scars.”
That surprised me.
“What scars?” Locks asked, again ever so soft and gentle. She really could charm anything with those sky blue eyes of hers and sweet fragile voice. She had a long list of lovers as evidence for it probably longer than all the girls Charming went out with before he met Cinders. But then again you could say that was all down to the Fairy Godmother dating agency actually getting a match for once.
“His burn scars from when he fell upon the fire that those pigs lit.”
“Can you describe them to us please Mrs Granny? Where about on his body were they?” I had paper and crayon ready.
The elderly woman paused, her hands yet again playing with the hanky between her fingers.
“Quite gruesome they were if I remember correctly. I think they were underneath the base of his tail and on the souls of both his back paws. They were the first parts of his body that made contact with the fire. It is a wonder to me how he escaped so lightly from those mean little pigs.”
I scribbled it all down and went outside handing it over to Sergeant Rapunzel to take downstairs to the morgue. Her once mile long hair now mere shoulder length since she no longer lived in a tower. This was the information we needed to formally identify the body. The Paw Pack had expelled Mr Wolf since his turn to vegetarianism and they were refusing to co-operate in order to identify the lone wolf we have. They had as much trust of the squad as we did for them. That was one rule I learnt early on, never trust a wolf. If you give them a titbit they will go for the whole bone.
“What else made him seem out of character this evening Mrs Granny?” Locks continued when I had sat back down at the table.
“Everything. He was not polite. He wouldn’t drink the herbal tea I had made him. He even spat out the vegetarian sausage I cooked him. He had never behaved that way towards me before.”
“Could you possibly think why this sudden change in behaviour?”
“No I honestly can’t. I have known Mr Wolf for fifteen years and he has always been a perfect gentleman underneath all that rugged fur. Helping me around the garden and the house. Offering advice on looking after my flowers. All my plants adored him. It makes no sense as to why he would suddenly attack me. Or my poor Buttercups.”
That was when Sergeant Rapunzel tapped on the door beckoning me outside.
“What’s the matter?” I asked concerned by her worried expression.
“The wolf body downstairs has no such scars on either tail or feet.”
Those words stunned and confused me. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. The dwarves have been over every last inch of fur, found a few small scars from many years ago but no such scars that correspond with any contact with fire.”
“So we have a dead wolf that actually isn’t Mr Wolf?”
“Seems that way Big Red.”
“Well it doesn’t make any sense for Granny to lie. Something strange is happening here.”
“What do you want the team to do?”
I paused to think. “Have someone try and speak to the Pack again, see if they are acting at all suspiciously. Remind them how lenient we’ve been recently. Have a few also go up to Mr Wolf’s house search for anything unusual and out of the ordinary. Remember he is claimed to have been a strict vegetarian for fifteen years if you find anything that looks like meat send it down to the lab as evidence and have it analysed for meat content.”
“As you wish.” She agreed turning around.
“Oh bring me and Goldie another cup of cola would you, I feel its going to be a longer night than I thought. We need a sugar rush to keep awake.”
“Right on it.”
With that I entered the interview room once more, looking puzzled at the two witnesses who looked nervously back.
“It seems,” I began. “That the wolf body down in the morgue is in fact not Mr Wolf. The body bares no such scars that indicate burning. Either under his tail or under his back paws. Could either of you tell me why?”
“That’s impossible. It has to be Mr Wolf. He was wearing his usual dinner suit and hat. His tie was a bit out of place because he wouldn’t usually wear a red tie with a green suit but I have known him for so long, if anyone was to recognise him it would be me.” The old woman exclaimed.
“What about you Mr Cutter? Did you recognise the deceased as Mr Wolf?” Locks queried the rather frightened man sitting beside the old woman.
“Oh yes Ma’m I did. He is the only wolf I know but I didn’t spend a great deal looking at him when I was trying to get him off Granny.” He replied.
“Ah yes, you appeared on the scene upon hearing screams from Granny. You were walking home after work up at the logging plant. You entered the house. Saw the deceased apparently attempting to eat Granny and so hit him at the back of the head with your axe. Isn’t that right?”
“Yes Ma’m that’s correct.”
“Mr Cutter isn’t going to be charged with murder is he Detective?” Granny asked turning to me.
“So far I don’t know what we can charge him with Mrs Granny. We have a wolf attacker who appeared to be Mr Wolf, but is now proven not to be. Who was then however killed by Mr Cutter. Don’t worry about the charges yet however, we can’t do anything legal until we know exactly happened tonight and why.”
“All I know is that I was nearly eaten alive and this brave lad here saved me.”
“Indeed he did but until we can establish the identity of the deceased wolf and a logical motive for this attack then we can not move forward with this investigation.”
“Does that mean I have to spend the night here Miss?” A pair of anxious eyes looked at me.
“Perhaps, hopefully my team can establish some more evidence together to solve this puzzle and give us all a happy ending.”
For the third time that night Sergeant Rapunzel tapped on the door this time with a big grin on her face. I went outside. She immediately passed me two plastic cups filled with cola complete with curly straws.
“I’m going to guess you have some good news for me Rapunzel?” I took a greedy slurp of the fizzy brown liquid and sighed as sugar woke my brain up.
“Mr Wolf has been found. Alive and well. Tied up within his cellar. It seems the body downstairs is a member of the Pack. He and some others tied up Mr Wolf, dressed one up in his clothes and went to meet Granny at the usual time planning to kill her and bring back her body to share. He was their newest member and they classed this attack as his initiation. However as you already know their plan went wrong.”
“Good, good, this story is starting to make a lot more sense. Is Mr Wolf well enough to give a statement?”
“Yes, he is on his way over now. He also wishes to inform Granny of his deepest sympathies and is relieved to know she is well.”
“Good work Rapunzel we can finally tidy up this mess.”
I walked back into the interview room and took my place passing Goldie her drink. “There has just been an interesting development which I think will please everyone involved.” I gave a big grin at Locks who smiled contentedly back taking a big swig of cola. “First off the real Mr Wolf has been found bound and gagged in his home cellar and he sends his deepest apologies to you Mrs Granny for this set of events. It seems his former gang decided to use his guise for some rite of passage for their newest and probably last member.”
“Does that mean I’m free Ma’m?” Mr Cutter asked quickly.
“Yes, you’re both free to go as the true culprit has taken the big sleep as his punishment so we do in the end have a lot to thank you for Mr Cutter.”
“Thank you Ma’m.” An essence of pride appeared in his now smiling face.
“Oh thank you indeed my dear Marvin.” Granny cheered grasping the surprised man in a hug. “You must come over for tea tomorrow and I will give you a nice slice of apple pie as a thank you.” Granny blurted out her aged voice crackling like fireworks with delight.
Locks and I escorted the pair out, sending them both back to their homes in squad cars. When all the paper work was coloured in and handed to the bookworms to file away I retrieved my red coat from the rack and made my way out into the car park. My humble red mini waiting for me.
“Hey Big Red, me and Rapunzel are going over to Robin’s Nest tomorrow night want to come along for a milkshake?” Locks called out catching me up wearing her blue jacket and Rapunzel wearing her golden one. “Checked it with Guinevere and we have the night off duty.”
“Sure why not, they owe me a few anyway after all the times I let him off the hook.”
“Aren’t we all owed some?” Goldie added with a cunning smirk of mischief.
“You got to love those rascals though.” Rapunzel noted cheekily. “Their just big kids really. Always getting into trouble.”
“True and there is nothing wrong with annoying Nottingham now and again. I have yet to find a case where he didn’t deserve it.” I smiled at all the fond memories. “Ok I’ll be there.”
“Great see you tomorrow.”
“Night Big Red!”
“Bye girls!” I waved back as I drove down dewberry lane to my little abode at the base of a big oak tree and lived to tell another fairytale.

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