I started this story on a whim. It’s gritty and urban and not to be read immediately after a meal . This is part four and Paige is in trouble…
Stupid stupid, she told herself and kept running, not daring to look back. Part of her brain told her not to go back to the arch. She ran past the turning and into the lights from the station that pooled like a stadium, hiding nothing. She was sure she could hear fast feet behind her and turned up the ramp to the platforms. Nothing moved. Trains would start again until five thirty.
Halfway up she stopped and looked back, her vantage point governing her a full three sixty view of the High Street. She breathed out, her chest heaving. Nothing. She was…
Her blood chilled as the dark bulk of the man from the passage jogged into the light. Paige pulled back and watched as the man moved across the ramp and looked up to where she stood. She knew it too well, though and knew he’d not see her unless he followed her up the slope. But she could see him, brightly back lit. He had the bulk of the serial pumper of iron. Probably five six or seven but easily two hundred and forty pounds, his jacket strained against biceps. Despite the poundage he didn’t seem out of breath. He looked left and right and then started jogging again, heading on the way Paige had been heading.
Paige counted to twenty and retraced her steps. The street was silent. In the distance an emergency vehicle shrieked plaintively on its way to some incident, possibly offering help. No one was going to help Paige. Careful now to keep close to the shadows again she moved stealthily to the alleyway that gave into the arches. Checking round every corner she took a good ten minutes waiting before crossing the road and heading to their home from home. Any moment…
She halted as if stopped by a hand on her chest. A black SUV was parked just down the side street. It hadn’t been there earlier, so who would be parking here, in something flash like that at four in the morning? The concrete block that held the sheet in place had been pushed away, thought the sheet was back where it should be. Paige eased forward, catching a whispered voice.
What was going on? Maybe she should back away and…
A noise, something between a choke and a sob brought her up short. Mia. Mia in distress but not able, or daring to cry out. Paige felt her anger begin the overcome her fear. She put down the bag and thought. There had been two men in the passage. One she knew had disappeared towards the centre so this was probably the other. And he’d spoken to Flat Larry, the man in the door who she’d stamped on. Larry knew who she was, knew where they lived. He’d have told the man where to find her.
One man. She could take one man.
Clicking her neck and rolling her shoulders, she pushed the laundry behind the wall and yanked the sheet open.
This week’s #writephoto prompt is here, now being run by KL Carey, on Sue Vincent’s behalf
The Eastwick Parish Council members took their seats and stared across at their opposite numbers. Since the merger of East and West Eastwick’s municipal functions, trying to reach any decision had proved impossible. A hung council had seemed to be the best way to start, ensuring that the old money Easterns balanced the nouveau Westerns. So far three meetings had been proposed, the first failing because the Easterns refused to agree the date proposed by the Westerns and the second for the reverse reason.
Decisions were needed, however and this impasse couldn’t continue. Barney Bloodclotte wanted his application to build an abattoir in his back garden determined, while Hugh Parsimonious declared that the diversion to the footpath that ran through his sunken hot tub needed to be decided before someone drowned. Priscilla Defaide and Percival Unguents needed the council to say if they could hold a multi-gendered mindfulness sheep shearing conflagration on the Village Green during the county’s Most Bigoted Village competition week, while Oswald Dogbreathe sought funding for the refurbishment of his unicycle to enable him to restart the ever popular peripatetic bunion donation collection scheme.
Under pressure from both communities, the eight council members applied to the county council to appoint a co-ordinator to facilitate the first meeting. Jennifer Dulle had run many meetings and considered herself an expert. She had looked at the list of issues, created an alphabetic agenda, dispatched comprehensives notes with each item setting out what she considered to be the likely points for discussion and set the time and date. Third time lucky. The venue had proven tricky since the East Eastwick scout hut and the West Eastwick church hall were both rejected as ‘reeking of unconscious bias’ hence the setting in the one place that was common to both parts of Eastwick, the village green.
Having welcomed each of the eight delegates, Jennifer moved to the end of the table and sat. ‘Ladies and…’
Two hands shot up, one from each side. ‘Yes?’
As if each had practiced with the other they both said, ‘Point of order.’
Jennifer swallowed back her irritation, knowing it was best to let these sorts of group have a little rope and then… ‘Please go ahead.’
The woman to her left began. ‘Who is…’
The woman to her right chipped in, ‘…the chair?’
Jennifer paused, nonplussed by the stupidity of the question. Still, one had to try and be patient even as one’s patience was being tried. ‘I am.’
The two women looked at each other. ‘You can’t be.’ ‘It’s not in the standing orders.’
They both nodded, almost surprised to be in agreement. A tentative smile broke across their lips.
‘I think you’ll find that as an employee of Li…’
“You’re not a resident of East Eastwick…’
‘Or West Eastwick, are you?’
‘Well, no, that is true…’
Woman number one nodded at woman number two. ‘There you are.’
Woman number two nodded back, ‘Exactly.’
‘It has to be one of us.’ ‘Not you.’
‘I. Am. The. Chair.’ Jennifer, who never went anywhere without her gavel, rapped the table. Eight pairs of eyes looked at her. She wasn’t going to be defeated by these petty minded little upstarts. ‘That all agreed?’ She was pleased that she managed to mix just the right amount of confidence with a dash of condescension.
The eight pairs of eyes exchanged glances. Eight heads nodded. The two spokeswomen stood and each rummaged in their bags. ‘On three, Dorothy?’
‘Don’t mind if I do, Daphne.’
The two woman withdrew wands and in a blink of an eye and a smattering of Latin, smoke enveloped Jennifer Dulle. When it cleared, Jennifer had disappeared. The two woman paused. Then the seat at the end of the table shook and turned an angry shade of pink. ‘How dare you?’ Jennifer’s voice emerged from the seat. ‘Let me out.’
Carefully, Daphne and Dorothy picked up the seat and moved it away. ‘Don’t worry dear,’ said one. ‘You can now be the chair for as long as you like.’ Said the other. ‘We’ve work to do,’ they said together.
There’s this police drama that is big in the UK. Line of Duty is now into its sixth series and has a tremendous reputation. One thing it doesn’t do is treat its audience as unintelligent so you have to stay alert if you want to keep up.
Last night was episode one of the new series and two things struck me. One it was grindingly slow. Bit worrying that cos one thing you don’t do with a Line of Duty episode is expect the twists to be telegraphed. In fact, it’s best not to get attached to character as they’ll probably be bumped off in the next frame.
The second were the bloody acronyms. In one piece of dialogue we had ‘We can keep it on the DL only if we have a CHIS on the MIT.’ Yep, that beat me too.
But and here’s the thing, when ‘CHIS’ was first used, I didn’t think ‘WTF’? – in this context it stands for Covert Human Intelligence Source – a sort of undercover operator. Rather my mind spun backwards to the nine year old me and a wonderful set of subversive children’s books I fell in love with written by Geoffrey Willans (gotta like the name) and illustrated by the glorious Ronald Searle that featured Nigel Molesworth and St Custards prep school. Molesworth was everything you weren’t supposed to be back then and wonderful as a result. And when things weren’t fair Molesworth would exclaim ‘chiz, chiz, chiz’.
Chiz is a real word meaning an exclamation expressing deception or inconvenience. Somehow I couldn’t quite shake off the idea that Molesworth, now grown and nearing retirement was in one of these police stations, a bumbling, largely incompetent jobsworth who knew how to do the minimum to stay employed, a character so far from those portrayed as to be an almost alien species. But how much better would this glacial first episode have been if Desk Sergeant Molesworth was involved? Corruption, organized crime, tortured souls under intolerable stress are all very well, but whatever happened to everyday incompetence, ducking and diving and being a lazy sod? Okay, it might not be commissioned for a seventh series but that would have been a twist no one saw coming.
Christopher Cholmeldley St John Plankton pinched the bridge of his nose. He would not give in to the migraine that was beginning to batter the back of his eyes. He forced himself to focus on the agenda that lay on the blotter. ‘Next, the committee have been asked to decide on the temporary closure of the Sculpture park at Badger’s Trollope arboretum on the grounds of a clear breach of the Society’s public decency rules. Perhaps Geraldine could brief…’
‘It’s Mars’ penis, isn’t it? I knew you’d make a thing about the penis.’ Martin Clodpollock glowered down the table.
Christopher looked from Martin to Geraldine and down at the agenda. ‘I wasn’t aware we have a problem with Mars’ penis…’
Martin huffed. ‘It’s all about context.’
Geraldine shuffled her bosoms, not a good sign. ‘You can’t contextualise a phallus, even on a god. And it’s not a question of context, but proportion.’
Christopher could feel his control slipping as a tsunami of pain rippled across his forehead. ‘Can we deal with…?’
Martin wasn’t listening. He had stood and was pointing at Geraldine. ‘Oh, that’s peachy. What about Venus’ breasts? Even Atlas would have a job hefting those two masterdons.’
Christopher felt sure his skull was about to fissure. ‘The issue is neither Mars’ member or Venus’ boobage.’
Martin sat with a thump. ‘It isn’t?’
‘Which god is it, then?’
‘It seems there was a misunderstanding when the sculptures were commissioned. As you will recall we asked the country’s leading sculptors to design a piece based around Holsts’ planets…’
Martin nodded. ‘Yes, yes. Given who they were they had a free hand, hence the engorged…’
‘Quite. I think we’ve dealt with that for now. Each piece was installed in one of the glades and lakes.’
Heads nodded. Everyone had said it was a splendid idea and would put them on the map.
‘We asked Sir Anthony Gormely to participate, but his people weren’t sure so we assumed he would decline. But it turned out he was keen and he asked which of the planets he could do.’
Geraldine looked at Christopher. Neither wanted to speak.
Martin drummed the table, his irritation growing. ‘And? Did he make some winged messenger like that thingy of the north everyone bangs on about? That would be fine as Mercury.’
‘I think the planetary connection might have become lost in translation as it were. I’ve checked the letter of instruction and it’s seems my Secretary misunderstood my intentions. The workmen are installing it now. It’s rather unfortunately taking central stage.’ Geraldine pushed a sheet of paper towards Christopher who read it, blanched and stumbled to his feet.
One by one it went around the table. As each trustee scanned the copy, they too stood and left the room, intent it seemed on checking for themselves. Eventually it reached Martin who glanced at it, growled, ‘Oh for pity’s sake…’ and walked out.
The sheet sat where he left it.
‘Dear Sir Anthony,
The committee are delighted you have agreed to provide us with your piece for our new installation. Given your imaginative interpretations the committee are looking forward to how you will represent your anus. We are delighted to confirm that her majesty will be at the opening…’
To give more context for those not familiar with Gormely’s work, this statue cast in bronze is part of an installation near Liverpool. The model from which all these figures were cast is Gormley himself.. he has form….
A short piece or grungy urban fiction, with some adult themes. This is part 3 and Paige Turner has left her terrified friend Mia to take the money and gun they found to put it back by the charity shop.
Paige Turner (thanks to her joker father for that name) was nearly six foot, mixed race though not so as you’d know it from her complexion and preferred women to men, though she’d not turn a guy down if he paid. She’d tried the family bit, and hated it, broken the sod’s collarbone and been set up by his mate’s who worked for the Met. Having done six months for assault and acquired a liking for skunk she found herself homeless and addicted, the former okay, the latter terrible. If it hadn’t been for a chance encounter with Mia Shusighs (six being Paige’s shoe size, Mia having such tiny feet she could easily wear children’s shoes) she’d probably have killed someone, or herself. They made an odd couple: the ultra nervous intuitive Mia and the overconfident logical Paige keeping the other from tipping over into disaster. Someone had said they were like Pooh and Piglet, not that Paige knew who the hell they were, but Mia explained. She even found the House at Pooh Corner and read it to Paige. Paige thought it daft, but it was with that she’d confessed her illiteracy and Mia had taught her to read. If only she’d had teachers as caring and cajoling as Mia rather than the mix of psychos and neurotics that had been foisted on her.
The lights of the High Street made her slow her pace. All she had to do was dump the laundry and leg it. Maybe she should keep one of the bundles of cash. Finder’s money, you know. Still, best not. They had a little spare, they didn’t really need it. Though imagine what they could do with all that? Yeah. She laughed despite herself. They’d get so high they blast into fucking orbit.
She had stayed on the far side of the High street from the passage down the side of the charity shop and slowed, hugging the shadows of the Evergreen Cafe and BetFred bookies. As she drew alongside the passage she heard voices, arguing.
Nervous now she pulled as far back as she could, straining to hear what was being said. It was angry, guttural and foreign. East European probably. Shit, those were mean dudes. Wouldn’t go with any of them, whatever they offered. Even Paige knew they’d not take prisoners, however hard she punched. Footsteps made her freeze. One of the men was hurrying up the passage towards her. She stepped back into the doorway…
Someone grabbed her ankle. Some skank was bedded down in the bookies. Instinctively she kicked back and hit something.
‘Ow! Shitting hell.’ The hand that she’d loosened grabbed at her leg again. ‘You come here, bitch.’ Terrible Terry, the stinky scouser. Just great. Bloody octopus never willingly let go.
At the same time as Paige clocked the man in the passage clocking her, she turned and punched hard down where she thought she’d seen Terry’s eye glinting in the street light. The crunch was satisfying and painful as something around her knuckle popped on contact. Never hit blind, they taught her inside, but needs must. ‘Sorry, Tel, mate,’ she hissed.
She was free but now she was in full view, watched with both curiosity and suspicion by the squat saturnine figure opposite. No longer thinking she turned and legged it back the way she’d come.
The year started dry and mild and chilled noticeably. We’re told an artic dome is expected this weekend, which sounds a tad brisk for my liking. It does mean that the early signs of seasonal spring have been held back from previous years and we have had a fair bit if rain lately, which isn’t a bad thing to keep the aquifers full.
The early plants – crocuses, snowdrops and hellebores – have faded, though the hellebores have managed a little extra. And primroses and some others have kept us amused
And while the daffodils are now well advancing and the fritillarias and tulips making statements, they have some way to go to reach full speed.
Tree blossom, in the guise of early cherry and magnolias are behind where they were last year and the year before but we do have some making progress alongside some heathers too.
And the lawn has been perky enough for a cut, though it will probably be another three weeks before we go again. I’ve ordered and aerator and four tonne of lawn dressing for Easter when the spring preparation work will commence. This year, with the family wedding set now for August, covid permitting, means I will ignore the siren voices telling me that a lawn is the worst sort of gardening abuse a man can inflict on his plot. One of our TV gardening heroes here, Monty Don has basically rubbished the trimmed lawn as being an ecological disaster, up there with dead coral reefs, microplastics and four stomached ruminants. Sorry, Minty, next year maybe I’ll revisit what I do but this year the planet will have to spin on its axis, rather than progress.