Saturday, 8 August 2020

Itchy Feet

        

        I must have been born with itchy feet. 

        Since I can remember, I've been on the go. For me, it started early; earlier than I remember. My Mom told me this story.

        I was one; perhaps one-and-a-half, and she decided to take me to the beach. When she got there she laid out a blanket and hoisted me out of my fourteen-stone pram. I've seen some photos and I can tell you I looked like an Elizabethan, lady-in-waiting, bonnet and all. (The shame of it!)

        No sooner had Mom laid me down than I was off! With my terry-cloth-clad-arse wobbling in the air, I scooted for freedom, on my year-old hands and knees. Like all good Moms, mine scooped me up and put me back on the blanket but I wasn't having that; not for a second! The world was out there and I was having it!

        If you've locked horns with a toddler you'll know, there will only be one winner. This was the epitome of an unstoppable entity desiring an immovable object. I was getting in that water if it killed me, which it probably would. Eight, even ten times, she retrieved me before she decided to say, "Sod it." 

    I crawled over wave-smoothed gravel and sun-warmed sand, until the water was an inch away. She expected me to stop as soon as it hit my fingers, but she was wrong. I plowed on until the waves lapped my chin, and showed no sign of stopping. She could bear no more and scooped me from a watery death, and carried me back to shore. I howled and cried all the way up the beach. 

        From nowhere, a voice called out to my mother. "Hay, Missus!" She turned to see an ancient man watching the whole debacle from the promenade; he was beside himself with laughter. "Are yea training that yoke for the Olympics, or what?" he said, and howled some more. My Mom was so embarrassed she hightailed it for home. 

        Me? I take it as a complement. I can't say I've changed that much. I still have an unnatural attraction for the sea and have a desire to know what's over the next hill. Honestly, I think this is a gift I got from my Mom. We are both inquisitive creatures.  

        So from both of us; charge toward the horizon, and try the unknown. Life lived at it's fullest will never be regretted. 

        

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner.

After work today I stopped off to buy a Lottery ticket. I don’t often do it but the jackpot has gone over one-hundred-and-thirty-million Euro. Oh man, imagine that? Imagine if I beat the odds and hit it. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! But don’t get me wrong, I’m not a gambler. I just enjoy the daydream. That’s worth seven Euro, surely?

So, the evening passed as normal, well, the new normal. I ate dinner, did some laundry, and settled down to watch a movie. During a break, an advert for an online casino appeared and it made me glance at the ticket poking from the top of my wallet. Was I being a fool? It took me a microsecond to make up my mind I wasn’t. I was simply paying a very reasonable fee for some entertainment. But it got the question of chance into my mind.

This weekend, some Irish pubs have opened their doors for the first time since March. I love the intimacy of strangers in a place where tomorrow seems a lifetime away. I'm a social being by nature, and choice. But tonight, I’m sitting in, watching Independence Day, with the hounds. You see, subconsciously I'd made a calculation, like when buying the Lotto ticket. Now, when I look on the choice I can consider the odds. If I chose to go out and mingle with others, what will I risk? 

If catch C-19, I've a one-in-five chance of having serous breathing problems and needing some sort of hospital assistance. If I was really unlucky, I could be part of the 2% that die. Let’s put that into perspective. My chances of winning the Euro Lottery is one in one-hundred-thirty-nine million. My chance of having long term health issues from Covid-19 is one-in-twenty. Chance of death is, one-in-fifty.

We’ve established I’m a gambler but how much of a gambler am I?

I don’t believe we can hide from all the dangers the world throws at us. I actually believe that some dangers make living more enjoyable. If Covid-19 was a long-term reality of life, would I hide away perpetually? I don’t think I would, not if it was just me. You see, I have side-bets to consider. I have two parents who I interact with daily. If I gamble and lose, their chance dying is one-in-four. ONE IN FOUR!

Am I willing to gamble my family for a few hours of mindless pleasure?

 

Not on your life!


Sunday, 3 May 2020

Book Review: Persuader by Lee Child

n's Reviews > Persuader

Persuader by Lee Child

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really liked it

I was going to give this book a 3, but the ending brought it back up a half notch, to 3.5 which I rounded up to an Ok 4.

I've read a few Reacher books so I knew what I was getting into. Jack is a man men imagine being and someone women might dream of bedding; but he has been blown out of all practical proportions. I know that description would seem to be a little stereotypical, but that is what he is. The stereotypical daydream of a reluctant hero.

This is not completely a bad thing because most of us pick up a Reacher book for a little escapism. Even though some of the action is far fetched, we will ourselves to believe for the sake of the dream. As always, this book starts with Jack acting like a puffed-up, cock-sure, know-it-all. It is only as the story moves into its final stages did I actually start to warm to him. Things should not always go the way of the hero in my opinion, because that is life. I think less than perfect characters are more likable, but in Jack R's case, even his failings are ones glossed in glory.

The start was good, very good in fact, but the story soon began to waddle like an overweight banker. We hashed and rehased a frankly unbelievable incursion into a criminals household where, Reacher, was neither liked or trusted at any stage.

Then came the endless list of gun specks. They meant not a jot to me. I have held a rifle and a shotgun, and fired both proficiently, but there my interest and knowledge ends. I found all this details boring to begin with and when the twists began to come, the details still didn't seem that important. I get it, there are lots of different kinds of guns.

So back to the good stuff. The ending. From the moment Reacher decides to make his move, Lee Child is back doing what he's great at. He grabs you by the scruff of the neck and drags you helplessly through a melee of violence you cant tear your eyes from. It is in this part of the book that Reacher stops being an overstuffed character and becomes someone you might actually hold up in admiration. It certainly rescued the book for me.

I do like Lee Childs' writing and I enjoy Reacher, but I don't think this was one of his best.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Proof Of Heaven


His head rests in the crook of my arm as I cradle him. I look down, and despite his pain, his eyes are filled with trust. He is my best friend, my closest companion, my family and the love of my life; he is more than I deserve.  

“It’ll be all right,” I assure him as my fingers stroke his silky fur. He blinks once, trying to understand, then gives my passing thumb an exhausted lick. “It will be all right,” I say again. He sighs and closes his eyes, letting the full weight of his head hang on my arm.  I look up and try to compose myself. I’m holding myself together, barely, because a grown-ass man just can’t be seen blubbering in between the displays of cat toys and rubber bones. I swallow down a lump in my throat and force my self to look away from him.

The girl behind the counter is looking down; writing or texting. I know she is doing it so she won’t have to look at me. It’s not because she is not nice; she is, it’s because she’s been witness to the journey we’ve made together. She was here on our first day, when he was only a speed-ball of fluff. She’d knelt down to rub his puppy-tummy and made such a fuss of him. That day seemed like only yesterday. How has the time gone so quickly? I guess love is the answer. He filled my days, my hours, with love; making them skip past in the blink of an eye.

The door at the end of the corridor opens and the man nods, telling me it's time. Somehow I manage to find my feet and the girl looks up from what she is doing. She watches us cross the room and my friend lifts his head. I can feel the warm, soft, weight of him shift in my arms. He's looking at her; probably hoping for a treat or a belly rub. As I draw level with her desk she stretches out a hand to him and I pause while she rubs him behind his ear; that special place. His tongue pokes out, once, twice…but he is too tired to manage a third air kiss for her. She takes her hand back and looks at me with sad eyes and I know all she wants to say, but can’t.

I shake myself mentally and move on. He holds the door open for us and I see the bed he's made on the table. It’s one of the new ones from the shop, with a fur blanket folded neatly beside it. As I pass, he rests a hand on my shoulder, as if I’m the one he is tending to, not my friend. I lay him down gently and tuck the blanket around him. He looks up at me with his huge brown eyes and I wonder if he knows what’s coming. I think he might because he always seems to know what is going on in my head, even when I don’t know myself. 

'It's for the best' I reminded myself. I'd heard all the reasons a thousand times but I just don’t want him to go. I couldn't face it without him, just couldn't. I want to scoop him up and run far far away, where old age and sickness can’t find us. I'd have done it too if I thought it would work. But this is the real world, where saying goodbye to your dog won't get you a day off work. A world where people expect you to suck it up and stop acting like a drama queen. And I could do it too, if only he was going to be there to help me.

I nod at the man who is standing by with the syringe, but I won’t look at him. I just keep rubbing my buddies head. As the needle pricks his skin, his eyes find mine and I knew he knew. I could see it. He was frightened and I didn't know what to do. I felt sucked into his eyes, as if he was staring into my soul. That was when something miraculous happened. I could feel his thoughts like I so often believed he could feel mine. I realised that all the time I thought I was minding him, he was actually minding me. His fear wasn't for him, it was for me.

I leaned close and whispered in his ear, "It's Ok, boy, I can manage it from here."

I swear he smiled at me. There was no anger, no resentment, no regret in him; just all the best things God ever created, wrapped up in a blanket of fur. His eyes flicked closed once, then once more, then opened no more.

Monday, 30 December 2019

Dead Man's Grip - Book Review - Author: Peter James





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48002747
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really liked it
Read 2 times. Last read December 30, 2019.

This was my first read of a Peter James book and I liked it.

Out of the gate he had his hooks in me, always a good thing. Slick opening chapters painted an interesting backstory with a few well chosen lines. I much prefer this to a fifty page build up. Just show me the outline, I'll add my own colours.

Into the meat of the book now. Mr James clearly knows the in's and out's of a police station...just saying...think what you like :) I enjoyed it for the most part, but I did find a few moments repetitive. I know it might be realistic but I get enough of that in my normal day. I did like the characters and I thought they were fairly realistic. Tooth is a weird, but I guess that worked in his favour.

So why did I mark it down a star?

As we were reaching the conclusion of the book, I didn't like they way they found where Tooth was holding the kid. It was an illogical jump of savant proportions. But what followed was a thumping good race to save a life, which I loved, right up to the moment the Tooth came face to face with a British Bobby!

Biff, boff; it was done and I was scratching my head. How did a world class killer and master of unarmed combat get bested like that?

It smells to me like the author was told to come in on a word count and cut a few corners to get us to the end.

I my opinion, this book could easily be a five star read, if it was given a little more elbow room at the end, and a tummy tuck in the middle, but I will be sure to read a few more of this man's books.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Under Fire.



I hated having to travel by coach, but it was either this or thumb. A student nurse's wage doesn't go far, all you have to do is look in my purse to confirm that. I could have taken the train from York to London, but it would have cost me an extra forty quid. Five hours on a bus was worth the pain, as long as I got to see my family. I missed home so much.

As the journey neared its end, I gazed at the outskirts of my city while it passed outside the glass. Tower blocks and trees, all bathed in the orange glow of sodium lights. I watched London course over the head of the little old lady who slept peacefully in the window seat, while Dizzee Rascal played in my earphones.  Four hours forty-three minutes, not long to go now. The little old lady stirred and yawned herself awake. She winced as she tried to straighten her neck and kneaded it with a knotty hand.

“These journeys are getting harder and harder on my old bones,” she said, turning toward me and smiling broadly. With her cherub cheeks and sparkling blue eyes, she was the picture of jolly decrepitude.

“A crick is a curse,” I said, then offered her my scarf to make into a neck pillow.

“Have we far to go?” she asked when she had found a comfortable way to sit.

“Twenty minutes I think, but the traffic is heavy. It might be a bit more,” I offered, noting the sluggish way the bus was weaving its way into the heart of the city. Although I had grown up here, there were so many parts of London I'd never seen, and judging by this part, I wasn’t missing much. A squad car screamed passed the traffic; half on, half off the footpath, and vanished into the distance. I watched the old lady's eyes follow it, but like any seasoned Londoner, she kept her opinions to herself.

A couple of minutes later, the bus braked hard; stalled in the middle of a one-way traffic flow. Nothing was moving and soon horns started to bay the drivers’ frustrations. I raised myself up and tried to see what the hold up was. Up ahead, people were spilling out onto the road, and they weren’t walking, they were running. Hundreds of people were running in all directions, panic written large in every movement they made, and we were stuck right in the middle of whatever was coming. A murmur of concern started in the front of the bus where the passengers had the best view.

“What is it, my dear?” asked the lady, resting a fragile hand on my arm.

“I’m not sure but something is going on up ahead,” I said, not wanting to worry her. That was when I saw the policemen appear, all of them rushing forward in riot gear. There were even coppers on horseback.

“The police are coming,” I said to the old lady, and I could see her relax a little. I felt better for seeing them as well, that was until I realised, they were running away from something, not toward it. A wall of hoodie-wearing bodies crashed into the street, hot on the tail of the police. I knew we were in serous trouble. They were throwing anything they could lay their hands on, and smashing what they couldn’t lift. Worst of all, they were coming right at us.

The bus driver mustn’t have liked the look of it either as he slammed the bus into reverse and began backing up. He got a few feet when a blaring horn and a crash of metal stopped him. We were boxed in and the mob was nearly on us. A brick hit the windscreen and shattered it into a million pieces.

I grabbed the old lady and pulled her away from the window, saying, “Mind your face.” All along the outside of the bus, fists and boots beat against the metal, while more windows imploded. I moved the old lady into my seat and covered her face with my arms in case our window was next. I looked down the coach to see the bus driver abandon his seat and rush toward me. He hurdled my legs in his haste to get to the back of the bus, and then I saw why. Three guys were climbing through the broken windscreen. They looked young, lean and mean and were dressed like LA rappers, despite being as pasty as vampires. They began demanding money from the people, speaking in that weird kind of ghetto talk I'd heard in the hospital emergency room. If the passengers weren’t fast enough handing over their stuff, the yobs speeded up the operation with a threat, or a blow. As they moved closer, I felt real terror for the first time. Then he was standing over me as I cowered in the aisle, trying to shelter the old lady behind me.

“Purse!” he yelled, shaking the piece of timber he was holding for emphasis.

As I scrabbled for my coat pocket, I heard myself say, “Just don’t hurt me.” I could feel the old lady’s hands on me, as if she were trying to pull me away from the man. It wasn’t until one of her veiny legs dropped in front of me that I realised she was actually climbing over me.

She stood right in front of him, looking even tinier than she had earlier, and glared up at him. “You should be ashamed of yourself,” she said, her voice controlled and unwavering.

“Fuck off, Grandma, before you get a hurt,” snarled the thug, and tried to shove her aside, but she braced herself against the seats and held her ground. I saw the guy cock his arm and I knew he was going to bash her with the stick. He could kill her. I jumped up and threw my arms out past her head and screamed, “Noooo!”

His arm was still cocked, but the blow didn’t come. Outside the bus, the riot continued full steam, but inside a hush fell over everyone. The other two marauders were standing there, watching, waiting for something to happen, and it did.

“You should be ashamed of yourselves! All of you!” barked the old lady, but this time she was not looking at the spotty-foreheaded man, holding a rod above her head. She was lambasting the other passengers on the bus. “I’m eighty-one years old! Should it be me standing up to this animal?” she demanded.

The yob clearly didn’t like the word and began to draw his hand back afresh. Instead of cringing from the blow, she thrust her face forward. The unexpectedness of the move stopped the guy a second time.

“Go on so, hit me! You won’t be the first to try,” she said, as I tried to pull the old lady to safety. She struggled out of my grip and advanced on the thug, her fists balled at her sides, her back ram-rod straight. The man was forced to take a step back when a voice came from behind.

“That bitch be crazy,” said one of the hoodlums, as he plucked a handbag from a woman’s arms. But the woman snatched the bag back and held it to her chest. Then, she too rose and faced down her attacker. When a man a few seats away got to his feet, a wave of rebellion found life in defiance. One by one, all the passengers stood, silently confronting the enemy, like a terracotta army.  I saw confusion flicker across the eyes of the man in front of me, then I too let my hands fall to my sides, standing behind the old lady who was brave enough to tell these crooks…no.

 I would not cower, I would not yield, and if this kid laid one finger on the lady in front of me, I would scratch his god-damn eyes out.The thief nearest the front of the bus turned and ran. Now there were only two. The weight of our glares grew heavy on them, and the second buckled. He lept through the windscreen, calling for his mate to follow. But right there on a intercity coach, good and evil were locked in battle. The little old lady acted first. She used one finger to push her glasses higher on her nose, then asked, “Well?”

“Bitch be crazy,” said the man quietly, lowering his baton, then he vanished the way of his friends.

A few seconds passed as everyone came to grips with what had just happened. The old lady turned to face me. Her hands were rock steady, but the colour in her cheeks had risen far beyond rosy.
 
“Oh my God!” I squealed, as I held my face in my hands and danced with exhilaration.

The old lady smiled at the fool I was making of myself, then said, “He was right you know?”

“Right?” I asked, confused.

“This bitch be crazy,” she said with a conspiratorial wink, then simply retook her seat.

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Braveheart



“Come on so, you fat bastard!” I yelled, and he was a fat bastard. Hog-beast fat, with a triple-ring neck. Ok, he was bigger than me, but I was fit. He didn’t stand a chance. Particularly seeing as there were four of us, and only one of him. There were hands on me, my friends’ hands, stopping me from doing too much damage. The stupid thing was he could have avoided it all. All he had to do was apologise for knocking into me, and spilling my beer...then buying another of course.

“You total knob!” he said, and gave me the finger. I couldn't believe the gall of him, after all, I was the one who had been wronged. I started to struggle in earnest. Before, I might have been saying Let me go, while thinking, hold me back, but now I wanted at him for real. Its hard to describe how I felt; I was shaking, and I was buzzing with excitement. Everything was heightened, my body seemed to be swelling up on adrenaline and anger. I'd never felt anything like it. It was...I was...awesome. 

“At least I’ve seen mine recently,” I sneered, and looked down my nose at him.

“What did you say?” he demanded.

“You heard me, Shamu.” That one really got him. He reared back, his jaw trying to grind his teeth to dust.  

“Fuck you,” the big ape roared, then hocked a ball of spit right in my face. I was frozen for a second. I couldn’t believe it. Then the red mist descended. I slipped through my friends’ fingers and launched what could only be described as a majestic punch. I had every ounce of my strength behind it and I swear it actually whistled as it cut through the air. I threw myself into battle with a roar William Wallace would have been proud of. This was going to be as easy as hitting a barn door.

But then the door moved. Really really quickly as it happened. My hand was still arching toward him when I felt his knuckles connect with the tip of my chin. Things moved so quickly, they seemed to happen at once. His pudgy fingers were surprisingly solid on the underside of my jaw, jackhammering my teeth together. I was lucky not to have my tongue amputated. The bones in my legs seemed to dissolve and the power of my punch dragged me forward. His next blow found the end of my nose, and after that...well...let’s leave it there. 

My mates dragged me to safety, apologising to Shamu as they went. So, here I am, sitting outside a chipper with a blood-stained shirt and a sore nose. My mates are simultaneously concerned for me and angry at me. I don’t want to talk about it, because honestly, I thought it would have gone differently. I know you might expect me to feel shaken, or frightened, or ashamed; and I do...a little. But that was my first ever fight and I survived. I’d taken a punch…a real one, and I was still ticking. I guess like all normal people, I was trained to avoid violence; fed stories of one-punch killings and lives spent behind bars. But that was behind me now. The shackles of fear have been cast from my wrists.

As my friends yakked, I sat and rubbed my nose. They gave me guarded looks, wondering what was going on in my brain. I think they would have been surprised to find; I was looking forward to the next fat bastard who dared spit in my face.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Violet


Violet’s finger pinged off the alarm and flopped back on the pillow. She didn’t have to open her eyes; she was a snooze-button ninja. For ten minutes she floated in a narcotic state; half in, half out of sleep. When the chime sounded a second time, she knew she had to get up.

She threw back the curtains to be treated to a near perfect sunrise peeping over the trees. Three years she’d had this view and it still made her smile. To anyone else it was just a back garden. A strip of grass with a water feature and a deck. The difference was, it was her back garden.

Violet. She never liked the name, but didn’t have the nerve to do anything about it. She’d grown up in a family where little was expected of her, and in fairness, she did little to dissuade them from the idea. It was easy to hid in the shadow of her siblings’ ambitions, but she never counted on being there forever. Every day she bowed under the yoke of her name, the more imbedded in her skin it became.

The ghosts of her past made her shiver. She threw them off, along with her night-wear, and headed for the shower. She dressed quickly; added just a touch of makeup, then tied her hair in a ponytail. She looked at herself in the mirror and wondered for the millionth time – who is that girl? She could easily pass for nineteen, not her actual twenty-nine. Her eyes were a touch to big, making her look innocent or startled. Her face was slim; her cheeks held a thimble-full of shadow, without appearing gaunt. Nothing on her face stood out, making her…ok.

She flicked a stray hair out of her face and wondered what Jim saw in her? Ok, was never an adjective to be used on him. He was tall, towering a full foot over her. He could talk to anyone; and that smile? That man was a knee melter. But he wasn’t perfect. Oh no! He was a little full of himself; cock-sure her mother would say. He could act like a spoilt teenager when he didn’t get his way. Mind you, she didn’t mind letting others take the limelight, never had. 

The only time she ever put her foot down was over this house. Jim had wanted to invest in a studio apartment in the city centre; all shiny surfaces and exposed brick, but it was as big as a shoe-box.

“It will double our money in no time,” he’d said. To her, and his, surprise, she flat out refused to consider it. If they were putting money into anything, it was going to be a house. She never let Jim in on her reasoning, but she refused to budge. Every time he tried to talk her around, she just looked at him with her eyes wide open, and her lips clamped shut. Eventually he gave in, and they started looking at three bed semis in the suburbs.

The driving force behind this defiance was simple. All her life she had to share a room. First with her older sister, then the younger. Even when she moved to the city she had to share. That claustrophobia was what pushed her into working two jobs, and Jim’s arms.

It was a seedy place, all dark corners and loud music, but beggars couldn’t be choosers. The owners were just about staying on the right side of the law by offering a never-used food menu on the alcohol-soaked counter. She knew they must have been paying off someone or else they’d never get away with running a nightclub on a restaurant licence. The very first night she bumped into Jim; literally. 

She was rushing around a corner with a crate of Heineken when she crashed into him. It was like running into a wall. She bounced off him and landed on her ass while he seemed to barely feel the impact. He rushed forward and scooped her from the ground, his forehead lined by concern.

“I’m so sorry! Are you alright?” he asked, as he deposited her back on her feet. She was covered in dust and before she could say anything, he was swiping away the smudges. It was clear he wasn’t thinking about what he was doing, because the fingers sliding over her legs felt just like her mother’s. Then it clicked with him and his face went red. He jumped back a step, the hand he’d been using on her, held up in surrender.

“I wasn’t…” he said, and then his words faltered. Whether he was, or wasn’t, didn’t matter. She wasn’t going to make a fuss about it. Not on her first night.

“I know,” she said and smiled. She picked up the crate, checked she’d broken none of them, then said, “Got to go,” and scooted past. As she rounded the corner she glanced over her shoulder and saw he was staring after her, his hand still held up; which was sweet. Despite his black security jacket, she thought he looked like a college kid, only XXL size.  

After that, he always seemed to be around, calling over for a chat, keeping an extra eye out when the punters worse for wear. Violet thought he was like that with everyone, she never for a minute thought he was interested in her, not her. Some of the other girls started teasing her about her, Bodyguard, but she only said, “Get away, would you,” and blushed intensely.  When he did ask her out, he had to do it four times because she kept saying, “You’re messing,” and walking away.

They had a date, then another, and then they slept together. It was still dark when he left her that morning. She sat for ages in her bed with a growing sense of doom.

“He’s got what he wanted now. That’s the last I’ll see of him,” she said, burying her head under a pillow. She didn’t hear from him all day. Not even a text. The walk to the club that night was the longest she ever had to make, and her heart sank when she didn’t see him standing at the door. She’d been right, he’d legged it. She nearly turned around and went home but she needed the money.

Inside, the music was already deafening but the crowd was sparse. She searched for him, but he wasn’t there. Probably out with some other girl, or laughing about her with his mates. She took her coat off and handed it in at the cloakroom. The girl behind the counter smiled and gave her a naughty wink.

Jesus, she knows! Oh God, I’m such an idiot! she thought, and hurried away. Money or no money, she wasn’t sure she could bare the humiliation of the whole place laughing at her. She ducked under the bar hatch and was stopped dead in her tracks. Beside her till was a huge bouquet of flowers, and even from here she could see the lettering on the card.  Love Jim.” Her heart nearly burst.

That had been five years ago, and they were five good years. They’d had rough patches, every couple did, but Jim was always there for her, looking out for her, protecting her, loving her, and she felt so damn lucky.
***

The front door opened and she heard keys clatter into the bowl. She looked out and watched him lean against the wall as he kicked off his shoes. His shirt had two buttons open and his clip-on tie was hanging from the pocket of his jacket. “You’re late,” she said, and he looked up.

“Yea,” he said, tiredly. “Another lock in! I’m getting sick of it.” His shoes are off but his jacket is still on. He looks tired, but not the grey kind. There was colour in his cheeks to counter the bags under his eyes.

“Why didn’t you leave them at it and come home?”

“I couldn’t, could I? What if it kicked off? And it’s not like we don’t need the money,” he said, rubbing his hands through his hair as he passed her.

She felt the sting of that last comment. Jim always maintained the house was too expensive and that she spent too much doing it up. He might be right about that, but…she couldn’t explain what it meant to her, even though she had tried a few times.

“Why don’t I take on some shifts again,” she said, sipping her coffee and reaching out a hand to touch his shoulder.

“No,” he said, moving out of her reach as he took another step toward the stairs.

“Why, no? The bills are my responsibility as well.”

He stopped and turned toward her, his face stern and set. “I told you before, I’ll take care of it. You do enough already. People will say I’m sponging off yea if they see you working two jobs.”

“I don’t care what people say.”

“But I do. Look – I’m tired. I’m going to shower and sleep,” he said. The words were sharp enough to sting but not shock. She reverted back to a habit of a lifetime and clamped her mouth shut and looked at him with Bamby eyes. “Don’t do that,” he said, partly annoyed at himself, partly at her. She looked down into the mug and sipped again. His stocking feet thread softly up the stairs and after a few minutes the shower started. She sipped her cooling drink and stared into space.

She could go upstairs and look through his pockets but what was the point in that. She’d seen the smudge of foundation on his collar and a hint of Opium in the air that swirled around him. Always Opium. She hated that God-Damn perfume. Searching pockets would give her nothing because she already knew everything, everything except a name. In reality, she didn’t need another name to hate, her own was enough.

She never told anyone Jim was cheating because she knew what they would say. They’d make reassuring noises and say, stay strong. They'd ask aloud how Jim could do such a thing, while inside they would wonder why it took so long. Violet didn’t need to hear any of that, she didn’t need false reassurances or pity, because above all things she was a realist. She knew that Jim believed he was saving her from the heartache of watching him leave. Truth is, he’d been gone a long time, only his body stayed behind.

He might stay a month, he might stay a year, but he already has one foot out the door. And that was ok. The thing was, Jim never really understood her, neither did her mother, her father…the world. She might look innocent and crushable, she might be the picture of a shrinking violet, but she wasn’t. She was much tougher than that. They should have called her Edel, like the Edelwiss. That survived in the harshest environments, put up with being trampled and crushed, spent nine months droning in snow and still it bloomed. That was the flower for her.

She flipped off the light switch, stroking the wall lovingly before leaving for another day at the grindstone.   

Sunday, 30 June 2019

Mrs Right


Heart to Heart Dating



Name:  Darren K                                                              Interested in - Ladies: 30/45
Status:  Divorced                                                              Build: Athletic
Smoker: No                                                                      Pets: Must love Dogs
Looking for: Serous Relationship                                    Drinker: Social

Intro:
Hello everyone. I’m Darren. I’m a forty-seven-year-old, divorced dad of two. I enjoy eating out, walks on the beach, and cosy nights in. I’m adventurous and active. I’m looking for someone to share life’s challenges with.  I have a great sense of humour, and if you love to laugh, then I can’t wait to meet you.

I know it’s a bit cheesy, but I still believe in love and hope that someone out there believes in it too.

Messages to:        Darren K
Sugarfairy35:     Love your profile pic. 😊 Call by my page and let’s see what happens??? LOL

LovelyLucy:       I love Dogs!! And Walks on the Beach!! Where’ve you been all my Life!

GuestUser125:   Dear Darren,

When I saw your photo, I was kinda shocked. To be honest, I didn’t know what to do. But the long and the short of it is, you deserve love, and I hope you find what you are looking for.

However,

There are one or two minor discrepancies, that I think you should clear up, before anyone reading this decides to take up your offer of, a cosy night in.

The first one is easy. Darren, you’re fifty-two, not forty-seven. Perhaps it’s the blackouts? If you added all those up, you could easily be excused for mislaying five years. I’m delighted you’ve seen the error of your ways, and knocked the benders on the head. If you hadn’t, I’m sure your liver would have imploded.

I have to say, I was touched you acknowledged the boys so prominently. Like a great Dad, you put them first. If I had known that signing up to on-line dating was going to have this effect, I would have encouraged you to do it way sooner. Billy says, Hi. He’s the five-year-old…remember. He was so upset you couldn’t make his birthday. He kept you a slice of cake.

I did spot one other thing you should fix on your profile. Whether you like it or not, Darren, you’re still married…to me! Hell, we only separated three weeks ago. I can’t believe you’re out there, looking to jump into bed with the first bimbo you can lay your hands on! God bless whoever that will be! Unless things have changed drastically, she’s in for the most mundane ten minutes of her life.   

So, that’s all I have to say on the matter. Best of luck finding the next Mrs K. To expedite your search, I’ll be contacting our lawyer in the morning, and get the ball rolling on the divorce. While I’m at it, I’ll ask him to remind you that you haven’t paid as much as a penny for the kids’ food, clothes or housing, since you walked out. You deadbeat!

Hugs and kisses,
Your Missus.

Sugarfairy35:  BURN!!!!!!!!!   LOL

Friday, 12 April 2019

Retribution

There was a hint of dawn in the sky. Tom should have been stiff from hours of sitting, or bored from watching the empty sidewalk in the side-mirror of his van, but he wasn't. He'd thought about this moment for seventeen-years. He'd planned it, dreamt of it, obsessed of it and today it was going to happen.

He stretched his fingers inside the black leather driving gloves, making sure they would not slip when the time came. A folding sunscreen filled the windscreen, hiding him from the front and tinted side windows made him basically invisible inside the cab of the van. He was content to wait, that's what prison had given him. Time to be patient.

A flash of movement in the wing-mirror attracted his attention. Tom knew it was the Judge by the way he moved. He half-jogged, half wobbled down the street. His extended gut swinging around inside an expensive Lycra exercise suit. Even though the day had still to begin he was wearing sunglasses, because in the Judge's opinion, important people should see, not be seen. As the Judge neared, Tom could see the last seventeen-years had aged the man who had taken his life apart, but that would buy him no sympathy. It was too little too late.

Tom rested his hand on the door-handle and waited. The Judge slowly closed in on the van, his head thrown back, looking down on the world as he passed. Three strides away, two, one...Tom threw the van door open nearly knocking the man into a hedge.

"Hay! Watch what you're doing, idiot!" the Judge yelled before properly looking at Tom, and when he did the shock showed in his face even though Tom couldn't see the man's eyes. He tried to get past the door but there wasn't enough room.

"What do you want?" the Judge cried, shrinking back from the man in the mask who was closing in on him.

"Justice," said Tom, quietly then rammed the tazer into the man’s chest and pulled the trigger.
***
Tom didn't know how long it would take the Judge to come around. He had poured a vial of Rohypnol into the man's mouth after he went down on the pavement, and at least some of it went in. It made transporting the Judge easy and quiet. Now he waited and watched the man move fitfully on the hard-concrete floor.

It was evening when the man finally sat up and rubbed his face, trying to get his brain to clear. Tom sat across from him, the warehouse was vast and bare. The Judge wasn't tied or gagged, but he was as caged as Tom had ever been. Slowly, the Judge started putting things together. Tom stood and moved to a spot where the Judge could see him.

"What have you done to me?" he asked, his voice slurred like a drunk.

"The same thing you did to me, taken away your freedom," Tom said, the mask he was wearing reflecting some of his words back at him making his voice sound...different.

"What do you mean?" asked the Judge, his mind still battling the drugs.

"You locked me up, now I've done the same to you."

"No way I'm staying here," the Judge said struggling to his feet. His fat-packed thighs were ridged from lying on the rough concrete floor. The Judge staggered toward the door and Tom did nothing to stop him. He simply waited. 

After ten minutes of pointless tugging, the Judge gave up trying to force the door and began searching for another way out. Tom knew he was wasting his time. The windows were twelve feet up the wall and there was only one door. Eventually the Judge returned to where Tom stood, some of his superior attitude starting to return.

"What is your name? Do you know how much trouble you're in?" Tom didn't dignify either question with a reply.

"I haven't seen your face, it’s not too late to let me go and walk away from all this."

"You took seventeen years of my life! How can I just forget that?"

"I was only doing my Job, if every..."

"NO! If you'd been doing your job, you would have seen that the case against me was bullshit! All you saw was a black man, a poor black man, which I am, but I'm also an innocent black man!"

"So, you came for revenge?"

"Exactly."

"If you're going to kill me, why didn't you do it back on the street. Why bring me here?" asked the Judge and Tom wondered if he was trying to logic his way into a better place than he stood?

"I'm not going to kill you," Tom said, and in his head the words sounded more than generous. 

"So why?"

Tom strode up and down before the Judge, enjoying having the power he'd been denied for so long. "Did you know that the first prisons came into existence in Babylon? Before that, justice was extracted through...retribution. An eye for an eye, a life for a life. You took my freedom, now I want yours."

"You can't leave me locked in here!"

"I can, and I will," said Tom. "But I'm not as cruel as you. Firstly, you have your own cell, and one much bigger than the one I had to call home. And second, I've left you a way out." Tom pointed at a manhole cover, slightly ajar.

"Down there?" he asked incredulously.

"It's another thing I learnt during my forced stay inside. During Roman times, prisoners were kept under the city, in the sewers. So, you've a choice. You can stay in here, with no food, no water. I think you might last two weeks, or even a month. It's up to you, but I'll tell you this, a minute down there is going to feel like a year," Tom said pointing at the manhole.

With nothing else to say, Tom walked to the door and unlocked the padlock. He heard the Judge rushing toward him. He swivelled and drew his tazer. 

"Back!" he said, stopping the Judge a few feet away. With the weapon trained on the Judge's chest, he unhooked the lock and opened the sliding door just enough to step outside. With one swift movement the door clanged shut. The Judge hammered the inside of the door, crying for release, but Tom knew he wouldn't be heard. There was nobody to hear him. The only thing that came through here was thousands of tonnes of human waste from the city in the background.

Tom opened the back of the van and threw his mask, gloves and black jacket inside. He removed the false plates and tossed them in. They clanged off the portable welder as they vanished. Tom looked at the line of manhole lids stretching away into the distance. Each one welded shut. That fat human turd was going where he belonged, The Judge might make it out, he might not, either would be fine by Tom because he had his retribution at last.