Life wasn’t easy. Nothing new, there. It never had been for him.

He moodily watched the passersby.Should he jump out and shout BOO? Scare ‘em silly? But he knew that even as the word echoed and re-echoed, bouncing off the dingy brick buildings lining the dark street, they would think it a Halloween trick. They wouldn’t know the genuine article if it slapped them round the face like a wet towel…or smacked them on the head like a hammer…

Poor choice of words… A wet towel would surprise, shock, get the old brain cells going, whereas a smack with a hammer would also be a surprise, a shock, but would shut the brain cells down. He should know.

Coming up to Halloween wasn’t the best of times to visit his old haunts, the streets where he had grown up.Everything was different…things had changed, and not for the better. But nothing was ever the same was it, when you came back…not anywhere.

He remembered his Mam saying if she missed going into town for a week she wondered if she’d made a mistake and gone to the wrong place. Her favourite coffee bar had changed into a betting shop, and other places had closed down, including the cut-price clothing store.

If you’re going to nick stuff, he’d told her, chose somewhere upmarket and make it worthwhile.

She’d taken his advice. When he’d visited her in prison she yelled angrily that she wasn’t going to speak to him ever again. Seems upmarket stores had sophisticated security systems to safeguard their expensive stock.

He’d trudged home in the rain, in the dark, down this very street, feeling guilty, thinking ‘not to worry, she’ll come round…’ when wham! A whack on the head had blacked him out.

‘How had she known she’d never speak to me again?’ was the last thought trailing through his brain before it spilled on the pavement—

And here he was, a shadow of his former self [ha-ha. Joke] watching the world go by.

The ghost envied the orange pumpkins with carved faces and light glowing from inside….now they really did look scary!

He wondered if he could somehow arrange to have interior lighting himself.

Copyright ©2014
Photo by courtesy of tome123

THE COTTAGE is an ebook only.

What to do in the TV ads…

nemali cat
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It’s amazing what you can do in the ads break, I thought, eyes glued to the story unfolding on the TV screen. It was beginning to move from boring to interesting. This chap, Glen, was watching a gripping drama with his wife. When the ads came on, he had calmly slipped from the room. The cat’s head jerked up, alert and watchful. In sharp contrast to his wife who didn’t even notice, dozy cow. She was engrossed in a wash powder ad.

As if!

Glen had gone next door, quietly entered via the unlocked kitchen door. Ominous background music swelled as he selected a knife from the block on the counter, and crept up behind Eliza’s chair. Sensing him, she turned. He had smiled at his lover. The camera panned in as she smiled back, and wham, he plunged her own carving knife in her chest. He’d muttered ‘sorry’, and stealthily retraced his steps. He was back in his chair just in time to see the last ad touting an exotic holiday, and make a casual remark about going there…

He wasn’t even out of breath, I thought irritably. I waited for the wife to ask where he’d been, but no, she simpered at him and whined about wanting to go to that beautiful place… The scriptwriters must be bonkers!

I scowled at the screen as the film abruptly changed to ads. Oddly enough, a similar beautiful beach at some holiday resort or other. I wouldn’t mind going there.

I smoothly rose from my chair, emulating the fictitious Jason…

“Where are you going?” my wife asked.

“Next door to murder my neighbour,” I said. “Have you ever seen such rubbish!”

She laughed. “Why would you want to do that? It’s a dead cert you’re not having an affair with cranky old Frank, and worrying that he’ll tell me!”

“Isn’t there anything better on?”

“We’ll have to watch the end, to find out what happened.”

“His stupid wife will give him an alibi and he’ll get away with it, you’ll see.”

“His fingerprints will be all over the knife…”

“He put surgical gloves on before he touched the back door. Didn’t you notice? All that ominous music was a tip-off that something bad was going to happen.

“It was too dark. I don’t like films that are dark and I can’t tell who is who…”

“For God’s sake! There was only him!”

“Or tell what’s happening… you didn’t let me finish. And I don’t like you towering over me!”

“I was going to make a cuppa. Now I won’t have time.”

“Of course you will. If Jason can nip around doing a murder in the ad break, I’m sure you’ll manage!”

“Would you give me an alibi?” I called from the kitchen.

“An alibi for what?”

“Imagine I was Jason,” I said coming back with coffee and the biscuit tin. “I’ve just nipped out and murdered someone… would you give me an alibi and say I was with you all the time, even though I wasn’t?”

“But she thought he was, didn’t she? She never noticed him go.”

“The cat looked up straight away, just as you did when I stood up, so why didn’t she notice he did?”

“Don’t ask me! Maybe she was pretending she didn’t know about his affair. Y’know, ignore it, and it isn’t happening.”

“I can’t imagine you doing that,” I said. “You’d probably be the one knifing her! Or me!”

“Are you trying to tell me something?”

“Of course not. It’s just that her behaviour is so stupid, not real….”

“Maybe she’s deaf and didn’t hear him,” she said.

“You don’t need to see to know someone’s moved! You were looking at the telly, how did you know I’d moved?”

“I suppose I sensed you had.”


“It’s no use falling out with me! That story is make-believe, remember?”

“And entirely rubbish,” I said. “It’s dragged on and on about their boring life, and now, when it’s near the end, it’s thrown the murder in. The detectives won’t stand a chance of sorting it out in the time left…”

“Don’t be silly! It will skip a few weeks and show him being arrested and sentenced…”

“Walking free, more like, I can’t imagine the cat giving evidence! Besides the detecting bit is always the best… us knowing what happened and watching Homicide running around chasing red herrings. Although, it is better if we don’t know who did it and try to solve it before the cops.”

“Is it an adaptation from a book?” she asked.

“Don’t know,” I said, reaching for the daily paper. “Remind me not to buy it!”

“I was going to say that adaptations often don’t slavishly follow the book.”

“You mean they’ve cut out the good bits and left the drivel?” I said derisively.

“If they’d left everything in maybe the film would be too long. They work to budgets, remember The scenery’s nice, though, isn’t it?”

“I’ve a good mind to sue for false pretences,” I said, tossing the newspaper back on the floor. “It says here it’s a thrilling murder mystery. The only mystery is why the film was made in the first place!”

“Quit whining! You got your murder…”

“It’s like a goal in the closing stages of a match,” I said.

“Almost too late. How can the murderer be caught and brought to justice in ten minutes or so?”

“I do wish you’d stop going on! Don’t watch if you don’t like it…”

“Just think, if this was a book and all the crap had been edited out, you’d be left with about twenty pages… Hey, hang on!” I gaped at the TV screen. “It’s over! The credits are rolling. Did you notice what happened to Jason?”

Photo by courtesy of nemali

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See Vee Hammer

“You’re useless!” Veronica screeched. “Know that? Abso-bloody-lutely useless!”

Ten-year old Richard, crouched at her feet, stared up at his mother. Her wide-open mouth displayed big horse-like teeth, and spittle flew as she yelled at him. He gripped the hammer tightly and gave the nail protruding slightly from the floorboards another whack.

“Abso-bloody-lutely useless!” she repeated, grabbing the hammer from him.

He cowered as she raised it above her head. It smashed down on the nail, driving it deep and leaving a dent in the floorboard. He felt the floor reverberate with the force of the blow. His mother’s hair, tied in a bun on the top of her head, bounced, and tendrils fell round her angry flushed face.

“That’ll stop the damn’ floor creaking,” she said, glowering at him. “Try harder next time!”

“Yes, mother.”

“And stop snivelling!”

He didn’t answer. He knew that anything he said when she was in one of her moods, would enrage her. Even something as simple as ‘good morning.’ And today’s start was far from good.

“What are you doing?” she asked sharply, as he rose from his crouch.

“B-breakfast,” he whispered. “Getting breakfast.”

“Did I say you could have breakfast? And speak up!”

“Yes, mother. I mean, no…”

“Just like your useless father. Weak, forever changing his mind. You know quite well that now he’s gone you have to do his jobs. So, today, go and weed the veg patch. When you’ve done, then you can have breakfast. Can’t have them killing off the seedlings. Off you go! Chop, chop!”

Richard obediently scurried outside into the chill morning air. His father had at least made his mind up to go, but he wished he’d taken him with him. Three months it had been now… It seemed more like three hundred years ago when he’d come downstairs in the morning to find Dad wasn’t there.

“Where’s Dad?” he’d asked, eager to go on their long-planned fishing trip.

“Gone,” his mother had said, not even looking up from scrubbing the kitchen floor. The brush scritch-scratched on the black and white tiles, spreading sudsy water. “Good riddance!”

“But we were going fishing today. He promised!”

“Tough!” she snapped, concentrating on scrubbing between the tiles. “Take that bag of rubbish to the bin. You should know your no-good father by now. Unreliable.”

Richard had known better than to argue, not when she was in a mood, and did as he was told. Just like he had today, shivering without his fleece jacket. The one Dad had bought him, supporting his favourite football team.  He bent and began tugging the weeds from the heavy damp soil. Be quicker if he used a hoe. He was wrenching at the shed door when his mother’s voice bellowed from the house.

“Richard? What the hell are you doing? You’re supposed to be weeding.”

“Getting the hoe, but the door’s stuck.”

“It’s locked, stupid! Been a few thefts from sheds, lately. Anyway, you don’t need a hoe for half a dozen weeds. Just get on with it!”

He trudged back to the muddy plot and tugged at the weeds with cold fingers. The quicker he finished the sooner he’d get breakfast. His stomach rumbled. Only last week, he’d taken too long to rake the gravel on the drive and his mother had declared it was too late for breakfast, he’d have to wait for dinner. He wished Dad would come back home…but until he did, it would be a good idea to get in his mother’s good books. Please her… How about spreading fertiliser between the rows of vegetables?. Help them grow big. He shifted this idea back and forth in his mind, Seemed good to him, so when he’d yanked the last weed free he tossed them on top of the compost heap.

He grabbed the spade leaning against the heap and tackled the pile as he’d seen Dad do.

He needed  the rotted stuff from underneath. He jabbed the spade in about a foot from the bottom just as Dad did and heaved down on the handle. This was harder to do than he’d expected. He’d made a break in the pile and decided to make a little tunnel and scrape the stuff out. It would be easier than digging. He wanted to get this done before his mother caught him and spoilt his surprise…

It wasn’t long before he hit a snag. The spade had hit something solid which refused to be scraped out . He changed tactics and demolished the little tunnel, and dragged the compost clear.  A trainer. How had a trainer got mixed with the compost? His mother would go mental! One eye on the house door, he feverishly increased his speed.

Definitely a trainer. He bent to take a firm grip and pull it free. It must be caught on something, he thought, having another go with the spade. He exposed more of the trainer…a stretch of sock and blue jeans. He got quite a jolt when he recognised the sock. He’d bought them last year. A Father’s Day gift, To The Worlds Best Dad.

What did he do now? Tell his mother he’d found Dad?

Then he remembered the night Dad had disappeared. The way he’d put his head under the covers to block out the loud voices downstairs. His mother’s high screechy voice and his father’s low rumble. Then silence.  The way she’d been scrubbing the floor the next morning—

He slowly got to his feet, clutching the spade, and tiptoed the few yards to the door. The radio was on. He carefully opened the door, eased through. His mother was sitting at the kitchen table. Her back was to him. She was leafing through a magazine while she sipped her tea.

He raised the spade high. “This is for Dad!” he yelled.

She turned, just as he smashed the spade down with all his strength.

“For Dad,” he repeated, using her bun of hair as a target. “For Dad! For Dad!”

She slumped across the table. The magazine slowly turned red.

Richard backed up to the fridge, staring at his mother. The spade clattered on the floor. His legs refused to hold him up and he slid to the floor.

“You killed dad,” he whispered. “Now you now what being dead feels like!”


Photo by courtesy of See Vee



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“For goodness sake, Becky, give it a rest! You’re not the only girl in the world to be jilted!”

“Correction!” Her hand slammed  on the breakfast table, making the crockery rattle. “He didn’t jilt me. I jilted him! Do you think I’d let that little— little—”

Margaret didn’t answer. The angry glitter in her daughter’s eyes gave her a Lady Macbeth look. Mad.

She didn’t like it. Sometimes she felt quite afraid of her daughter. Of what she might do.

As a child, Becky had always thrown a paddy if things didn’t go her way.  Stamping her feet and screaming blue murder. Smashing her toys, ripping pages from her books—

Margaret would never forget finding five-year old Becky’s favourite doll at the top of the stairs. Beheaded, stomach ripped open and the white stuffing scattered on the red carpet. Poor Raggedy-Anne had paid the price for a  trip to the Zoo being cancelled because of rain. A chill had run down Margaret’s spine and her shocked mind had reversed the colours—White carpet— Red stuffing— Blood. For a split second Raggedy-Anne had morphed into Rag’s , their miniature Yorkshire terrier.

He would put up a fight, of course, probably bite Becky… She couldn’t risk either scenario happening and the next day Rags had gone to live with her mother.

‘Just while Granddad’s in hospital,’ she had told her screaming daughter, wincing when a Beatrix Potter mug had flown past her head and smashed against the fridge door.  ‘Becky, that’s naughty…’

The crash of breaking crockery seemed like an echo from the past, and Margaret lurched to her feet to stop Becky hurling a second cup at the wall. Coffee dribbled down the white tiles.

“Really, Becky! Control yourself!  No man’s worth getting into such a hissy fit!”

“He is,” she yelled, short hair bouncing. “I love the two-timing jerk! He’ll regret dumping me…”

Ha, Margaret thought, so he had dumped her… all this posturing and temper was hurt pride.

“How about we hit the sales? We can pick our outfits for your cousin’s wedding—”

Ooops, not the wisest of suggestions, she thought, as Becky’s arm swept across the table sending  crockery to the floor. Toast and sugar soaked up the spilled milk.

“Enough! You’re not a child any more.  The new adult you can start by buying me a tea service to replace the one you’ve trashed.”

“You’ve had it for ever,” she said sulkily. “It’s old-fashioned.”

“I liked it. And  you can’t destroy other peoples property, willy-nilly, just because you’re in a bad mood. Maybe you should restart the Anger Management classes. Have you taken your tablets today?”

“The ones that turn me into a zombie, you mean? Stop me thinking for myself?”

“They just smooth the edges, keep you level headed when you’re upset, and losing your boyfriend…well, I understand, darling, you’re forced to feel upset…”

“WILL YOU JUST SHUT UP!” Becky’s chair overturned as she sprang up from the table to loom over her mother. “You don’t understand at all!”

Margaret flinched. “Now, darling…”

“I’ve asked him to call round, talk things through—”

“You’ve WHAT?”

“ —like a civilised person. Not skulk around like a coward.  That’ll be him now,” she added when the doorbell chimed.

“I think this is a really bad idea,” Margaret said, as she answered the door. “You should go, Dan—”

“Come on in,” Becky said, reaching past her mother and hauling Dan in by a handful of shirt. “You’re going to really regret cheating on me—”

“Becky, listen,” he said, doubling over, gasping, when she kneed him in the groin. She followed up by plunging the breadknife in his back.

She was cradling his bleeding body, rocking to and fro, crying, when the ambulance arrived, followed closely by the police.

“My daughter—” Margaret , white and trembling,  latched on to the nearest police officer. “You must understand, she’s not well…”


Photo bt courtesy of matchstick

Bad Friday

old sign +gas lamp rgbstockFriday is a bad day for Sam. He dreaded them coming round. Everything bad in his life had happened on a Friday.  And not just Friday the thirteenth, any old Friday would do. He’d never been able to work out why this should be.

He’d spent a night in the cells after a drunken night out with the lads; and the following week he’d broken his leg trying to do a flip and twist on a friend’s skateboard. Both Fridays.  But it was being late at the airport and watching the Ibiza flight leave without him, which had given him the idea of avoiding Friday by staying in bed, out of the way. But he had still felt Friday pressing around him, waiting to pounce the minute he poked his head from under the covers.  The third time he’d done this, it had cost him his job at the Pizza Palace.

All this bad Friday business had started when he was eight years old. He’d been taken into care on a Friday, the day his Dad was arrested for beating the shit out of his Mum. Bawling his eyes out, he’d watched Dad being loaded into a police car, Mum into an ambulance, and the Social Services lady had hugged him and whispered: “Don’t worry, Sam, everything will be all right!”

“A right stupid cow, she was!” he thought, slouching along the street, aiming to get home in time to watch the Friday Soaps. “I should’ve known better than believe her. She should’ve been ashamed of herself, lying to an eight-year old!”

This episode in his childhood had coloured his take on women in general. He considered all women were liars, born and bred, which hadn’t helped in the romance stakes. Most of the breakups had occurred on a Friday night, when he was gearing up for a good weekend.

He’d best hurry, he though quickening his pace. He’d maybe just catch the weather forecast.  He was playing in a big rugby match tomorrow, he hoped it wouldn’t be rained off. He rounded the corner and slowed to a halt. How had he managed to miss his way? He backed up to glance back down the street. Nope, he was on course…

He’d taken this short cut millions of times…but this time it looked kind of different. Dim and spooky— Ah! It was the lights—either the timers were on the blink or hooligans had smashed the bulbs. Which was nigh on impossible with the tall swan-necked lamps towering towards the sky.  Where the hell had they gone? His gaze drifted down and settled on a stubby gas lamp.

Had the council lost their tiny minds, replacing modern with old-fashioned junk? It wasn’t even lit. He fumbled in his pocket for a box of matches, as he vaguely looked round for the lamplighter who hadn’t done his job.

A woman came round the opposite corner, hurrying, her long skirt flapped round her ankles. Frequently glancing over her shoulder, she stumbled.

“She’d best watch out,” Sam thought. “Or she’ll be having a Friday Fall!”

He thought this amusing until he noticed her face. She looked afraid.

“Are you all right, miss?” he called. “Can I help you?”

She didn’t answer. Then a man rounded the corner. His long strides rapidly closed the gap between them. His arm reached out and grabbed her trailing hair—

“Hey!” Sam yelled, as the woman jerked to a halt. “Knock it off!”

The man didn’t take a blind bit of notice. Sam pounded down the street and rugby tackled the man’s legs. He was surprised when his shoulder smashed into the pavement, followed by his head…doi—ng-doi—ing—

Blast! The man must have fast reflexes…that move had never failed before. Sam raised his aching head and was astounded to see the woman sprawled on the pavement —no way had he tackled her by mistake! The man bent over her, arm raised. She held her hands in front of her face, twisting to get away. The man’s arm came down, a knife flashed and blood spurted from the woman’s throat.

“Hey!” Sam said, making a grab at the man’s leg, braced for the knife to slash at his arm. The bastard wasn’t going to get away with this. “Murderer! POLICE! HELP!”

It was several minutes later when Sam felt the vibration of running footsteps, heard excited voices. He prised his cheek from the pavement and squinted up at the faces above him. He became aware of the tall street lamp blinding him. No stubby gas light.

Glancing sideways, he realised that the woman had gone. No blood spread across the pavement… the murder he had witnessed had been completely silent…

He shivered. “My shoulder. I think it’s broken…”

Someone draped a coat over him, another under his head, and crouched around him, fussing. He was glad when the ambulance arrived.

Friday had caught him again.


Photo by courtesy of


Danger … part 4

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Danger Part 4

Dan stared at the round black hole levelled at his forehead. His bowels turned to water. He’d never felt so afraid in his life. Thoughts rushed through his head too quickly to register—except that he didn’t want to die. Not here—like this. Not knowing why— or what was going on—knowing damn all about anything—

The man holding the gun was tall and thin. Dressed in black, his eyes glinted behind a black balaclava facemask.  He jerked his head at his accomplice curled on the floor like a foetus.  The gun wobbled. Making Dan even more nervous… He stepped in front of Shona. Not that it would do much good—

“What y’done to him, eh?” the newcomer asked. “He’s not gonna be best pleased.”

Dan couldn’t place the accent, but a talking thug was marginally less scary than a silent one.

“What’s going on?” he asked, trying to sound in control. “What do you want?”

“She’s not told you then? Just hand over the cash and we’ll be out of your hair…”

Dan felt a flood of relief. He’d been right to draw dosh from the cash machine. His silly cow of a sister was obviously at odds with a moneylender. Their scare ‘em silly collecting method was way over the top, though.

He reached for his inside pocket. The gun smashed across his knuckles, making them bleed.

“Hey!” he said, snatching his hand back to cradle it against his chest. “That fucking hurt!”

“Hands in sight at all times, boyo. No unexpected surprises that way.”

“I was getting the money out,” he said stiffly, eyes narrowed, trying to look menacing. “I think you’ve broken my fingers. You’ve not heard the last of this. ”

“Cant wait!” He reached forward and fumbled the fold of notes from Dan’s inner pocket. He looked at them in disbelief. Flicked through them, muttering under his breath.

“Aaaargh!” he yelled tossing them in the air. “This your idea of a joke? Where’s the rest?”

Dan watched the tens and twenties and a couple of fives flutter to rest by their feet.

“I don’t know what you mean,” he said.

“Twenty thou!” He pushed Dan aside so he could yell in Shona’s face. “You stupid or what?”

She cowered back, sobbing.

“Twenty—what?” Dan asked.

“Twenty thousand in used notes. Thems nowhere near enough—an’ they’re brand new!”

“Two hundred was my limit at the cash machine,” Dan said, wondering why he was explaining. “Not that there’s much left in my account,” he added in case the man had ideas. “About fifty quid.”

“Fifty quid!” he snarled, tapping the gun on Shona’s forehead. “Fifty —fucking— quid!”

“Don’t!” she wailed, hiding behind her hands, tousled hair swinging forward. “Please, don’t!”

“Leave her alone!” Dan shouted, knocking the gun barrel upwards.

The gunman spun round and jabbed it in his chest. Vicious jabs, which hurt. Dan prayed his finger wouldn’t tighten on the trigger.

“Let’s keep calm,” he said, which was hard, at the receiving end of a gun. “Talk things through. Twenty thousand…”

“I’m trying to be reasonable, here, mate.” Jab. Jab. “Twenty thou, we asked for. Twenty thou, we get. Okay?”

“We don’t have twenty thou.”

“Pull the other one! She’s loaded.” He waved the gun at Shona. “Twenty thou’s loose change.”

“Danny, he thinks I’m Katrina Proust,” Shona said.  “The pop star.”

Head on one side, he studied his sister. In a good light, tarted up, a few layers of makeup…he could see the resemblance.  Several people had remarked on it. Only she couldn’t sing.

“Give him a few bars of the latest record,” he suggested. “Convince him you’re not.”

“Let’s stop bullshitting about!” The black shrouded face almost touched his. “She’s Katrina Proust.”

“You’re barmy, know that?” He knew he’d said the wrong thing when the gun jabbed his chest again.

“Think this isn’t loaded?”

Swinging the gun round in an arc, he fired at random.  Splinters flew up from the floor by the head of his fallen comrade. He jerked, cursed and sat up, looking round blearily. Bits of floorboard clung to his woollen facemask.

“Wozz going on? Why’d’ya shoot at me?”

He raised his hand to his head. Dan held his breath. Was he going to reveal his face? If he did—he and Shona were goners.  They wouldn’t be left alive to describe him to the police.

“Stop! Leave it on!” the gunman said sharply. “He didn’t bring the cash. Say’s it’s not her….”

“She wozz on TV at that awards thing.” He got unsteadily to feet to peer at Shona. She shrank back. “It’s her, all right. Just needs a slinky red frock and a bit of slap to hide the bruises.”

“The awards thing was on tonight,” Dan said. “I was watching it when Shona rang.”

“I spotted her come out of the pizza shop. Couldn’t believe me luck. A chance to share the cash out a bit—”

Dan noticed he’d dropped his Bug’s Bunny voice. A bad sign. Or maybe he’d just forgotten to use it.

“The show was tonight. Live. From London. Two hundred miles away.  So how could Katrina Proust be coming out of a pizza shop here?”

“Cut the bullshit! Them shows are always recorded.” The gunman waved the gun between Shona and Dan.  “Come up with the twenty thou! Just to remind you to be quick!”

Another random shot shattered the microwave.

Shona screamed and the first man lunged forward and slapped her. “Shut the fuck up, bitch!”

“Leave her alone!” Dan grabbed the man’s arm.

The punch in his face knocked him backwards. He fell heavily, banging his head on the table.

Shona screamed again. The gun blasted again. Dan waited for the sting of the bullet.

When it didn’t come he cautiously sat up. He mopped the blood from his nose with his sleeve.

He was outnumbered.  Guile was needed before this pair of psychos went completely of their rockers…

“I don’t have that amount of cash laying around the house,” he said. “Do you?”

Shona gaped at him. Behind their masks, he imagined the gunmen were doing the same.

“I’ll have to sell stocks and shares, instruct my broker. He needs both our signature, so we’ll be off. It’s out of hours, right now.” He consulted his off-the-market designer watch. “Tomorrow, do?”

“Bullshit again! The gunman fired two rapid shots at the ceiling. Plaster showered down. There was an unearthly yowl of pain.

“Y’said this place was empty!” the gunman said into the shocked silence.

Dan heard the approaching wail of a police siren.

“Coppers!” the gunman said. Within minutes both of them were gone.

“Police!” roared a voice outside. “Stop! Police.”

“Police!” called a second voice. “Coming in!” A head poked round the door. “The neighbours reported gunshots. You’re covered in blood, sir—”

“We’re both okay ,” Dan said. “Just shocked and a bit battered. But I think that little fella got hit.”

The officer turned to watch the grey tabby limp across the room. Blood dripped from it’s flank.

“Hey, puss,” he said, crouching. “I’ll get you to the vet!”



Danger … part 3

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He gaped in disbelief at Shona’s pale, beaten up face.

“Why, you!” he yelled, pivoting, ready to throw a punch at the bastard who’d hurt his sister. Freezing, as a knife was held to his face. Light glinted off the blade. The tip pricked his skin. He felt a trickle of blood.

Rough hands spun him round, an arm clamped across his throat, pulling him tight against a hard chest. He could feel the man’s heart beating in sync with his own.  Thud. Thud. Thud. Probably with excitement, not his own sick fear—

He couldn’t believe this was happening. Not to him. Not to his sister. They were just ordinary folk living a boring life— but she must’ve pissed somebody off, big time—

Shona made a little mewling sound. He met her terrified eyes. He must get them out of this mess—

Surprise was his only weapon.

A sharp elbow jab to the ribs, should do it. Jab, duck to avoid the knife, twist round and head-butt to the stomach—while the louse was doubled over, deliver a clenched hands rabbit chop at the back of his neck— he’d seen it on TV so many times—It’d be over in minutes—

While the man was down, he’d grab Shona and run like hell—

He had a problem. A stealthy preparatory move tightened the hold round his neck, jerked his head back.  No way could he move, never mind duck. His head was likely to be ripped off.

“Who the hell are you?” he asked, not expecting an answer. The man hadn’t spoken at all. Was it someone he knew?  “What d’you want?”

His head was jerked up another notch, making him retch. He tugged at the arm with feeble fingers. “Can’t breath,” he croaked, and sagged like a sack of spuds. “Bad heart…”

The grip loosened. He hammed it up, coughing and choking, patting his chest.

“Danny!” Shona screamed, bouncing on her chair. The legs scraped on the floor. “Danny!”

“Shut the fuck up!” the man snarled, in a high Bugs Bunny falsetto.

Danny saw his chance. He wrenched free, spun, head butted as hard as he could. The man yelled in surprise and folded. Dan slammed his clenched hands on the back of his neck.  He seemed to topple in slow motion. If anything, Dan was more surprised than his victim. He hoped he hadn’t killed him.

“It worked, it worked, it worked!” he chanted, dashing round the table to his sister. “Come on!”

“I can’t,” she said. “I’m tied to the chair.”

He was dismayed to see nylon cord was knotted round her ankles and waist. He picked at the knots, swearing. He hadn’t time to mess about.

“I’ll get his knife.  We have to be sharpish. He won’t be out for long. Sharpish. Knife. Get it?” he said, hoping to bring a smile to her face.

“Danny,” she whispered, her frightened eyes focused behind him. “Danny…”

He heard a click by his ear, and straightened quickly, ready to do his head butt technique again.

He found himself staring down the barrel of a revolver.


Photo by courtesy of



Ooop! Apologies…Danger …. part 2

Part two of this mini-serial was published on my blog on 6th Dec… Today I noticed that it had less readers than parts one, three and four, which were equal in number. I was surprised when I checked the site to find that the blog had vanished. So here it is [again] to keep you in the loop! Sorry, I’ve no idea how this happened.

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Here is the continuation of yesterday’s short story…

Dan has attracted too much action and I have updated it from short story to  mini-serial…

As he neared the door, the cat rose. Did it live here, he wondered. It looked well fed. Number twenty-seven, his sister had said.  A grimy white plastic seven hung upside down, the top screw was missing. No wonder he hadn’t been able to make it out.

Danger, be careful’ played through his mind.

He glanced over his shoulder. A man with a dog strolled past, and a boy on a bike headed in the opposite direction. No one spared him a glance. The bushes looked harmless—nobody lurked —

About to knock on the door, he changed his mind. He stooped to peer through the letterbox. A dim light shone from a room at the end of a dark hallway.

“Shona,” he whispered. “ Open the door. It’s me.”

Without warning,  the door  swung open. With a startled cry, he teetered, off-balance. A hand gripped the back of his jacket, hauled him inside and dropped him on the floor. He landed painfully on his hands and knees.

He tried to gather his wits. What the hell was going on? The shabby trainers too close to his fingers looked ready to stamp. Too big to be Shona’s. His eyes travelled upwards…well-worn black  jeans, black sweater…no head. No head? That threw him, until he realized eyes were glinting at him through holes in a black balaclava.

He sat back on his heels and glared up at his assailant. “What the hell are you playing at? And where’s my sister?”

In answer, the man jerked his head towards the end of the hall— at the dim oblong of light.

Dan, adrenaline flooding through him , rose slowly, stiffly, to his feet.  He wasn’t a fighter, he needed guile to get the better of this thug. Although his wince wasn’t entirely playacting; his knees throbbed.

“Well?” he asked. “Where is she?”

Another jerk of the black-shrouded head sent him in the direction of the light.  He limped along, hand at the base of his spine. Talk about menace! Just looking at this guy increased his pulse rate…

He halted in the doorway. His sister was sitting at the kitchen table, hands in front of her.

“Come on, sis. What gives? What’s with all this cloak and dagger stuff? Come and give me a hug!”

“Danny,” she whispered, not moving. “Danny….”

“Let’s have some proper light,” he said swatting the switch at his shoulder. “That cooker thing’s not much good.”

The harsh light revealed his sister’s hands were tied, her face bruised and swollen.  Blood trickled from a split lip.


Photo by courtesy of


A kiss from God …

kiss in the sky facebook

He stomped down the road in a bad mood. Don’t argue, walk out and cool down, his anger therapist had advised. Anger therapist! Just because he lost his rag from time to time didn’t make him a monster, but his girlfriend had given him an ultimation.

“It’s your temper or me,” she’d said, the last time he’d pushed her against the wall, making the crockery rattle on the table.

She’d gone on and on and on about his nights out with the lads and he’d lost it—Slammed her against the wall and yelled: “Shut the hell up!” right in her face. She’d looked frightened, but so what? He would never hurt her, never. He’d told her this.

“Control your temper or I walk,” she’d threatened. “Get it?”

He got it, hence the anger therapist. The reason he was walking along in the dark, fighting with his conscience. Couples argued all the time, didn’t they? It would be a dull old world if they didn’t.

Tonight, she’d started as soon as they got out of the pub. Right there, standing on the pavement.

“I hate this place! Why don’t we ever go somewhere alone, just the two of us?”

“We need to discus rugby tactics,” I said, calm and reasonable. “We want to win the next game.”

“I’m sick and tired of being ignored while you down pint after pint!”

“I don’t ignore you. I buy you drink for drink—don’t blame me if you can’t keep up!”

“I hate your sweaty, smelly friends and their simpering girlfriends!”

“Hey, lighten up! Don’t you like me any more? Feel free to simper!”

“I absolutely hate you!” she snarled, with a swinging slap that made my ears buzz.

I automatically raised my hand to belt her back—just in time I heard my therapist’s voice in my head: ‘Walk away, keep your cool, calm down.’ I spun on my heel and walked away.

But maybe I shouldn’t have left her standing on the street surrounded by staring passersby. Left her alone…anything could happen to a girl at this time of night, when pubs were disgorging drunks…

Should I go back? I dug my mobile out to tell her I was on my way. No damn signal. I was almost home; I could ring her from there…

I quickened my step and raised my face in the general direction of God, asking him to keep her safe.

High flying jets had left vapour trials and the moon was balanced on a tight rope…no, it was trapped in a pair of pincers…then a thread of sentiment rose from my depths. Not a pair of pincers, but a kiss. A kiss in the sky. Surely that was a good omen?

I broke into a jog.

She was home. The light in the lounge shone like a beacon guiding me home.

The minute she heard my key in the lock, she was in the hall.

“I’m sorry I hit you,” she said.

“Me, too. So sorry for leaving you standing…”

“At least you kept your temper…”

“Come outside,” I said. “I’ve something to show you.”

Side by side, arms round each other, we gazed up at the sky.

“It’s an omen,” I said. “A kiss from God.”



A morning on the beach …

lonely beach sloopjohnb rgb

There was a man walking.

No sign of Yetta.

The tide darted raggedly up the beach. The man sidestepped the frothy frill of water, agile, like a dancer. Don continued down the narrow cliff path.

Last night, clinging to him in the strobe-pierced darkness of the club, she had begged him to meet her on the beach. Early. Her laughing face had looked haggard in the changing colour of the lights sweeping across the crowd, making him unsure of her age. He wasn’t even sure of her hair colour…it could have been blonde…or pink…or purple…

But he’d know her voice. Recognise the little hitch, the giveaway that English wasn’t her native language. He had wondered if she was an illegal…

“Why do girls meet the boys on the beaches,” she had asked, in a husky whisper.

He’d shrugged, nuzzling her ear.

He was well past the age of ‘boy’. Maybe it was the lighting…or her eyesight was off.

He perched on a rock. The walking man had rounded the headland and the beach was deserted in either direction. He idly watched the sea making inroads into the sand, bringing in more seaweed.

How many times had he sat on this very rock waiting for a girl, he wondered. Or helped his friends make a bonfire of driftwood as the sun sank into the sea. Happy days…

Pebbles rattled behind him and he started to turn—Yetta.

Something smashed into the back of his head, sending him face down in the sand. For a few moments he lay dazed, then began to rise, spitting sand. A heavy foot between his shoulder blades slammed him down again.

Not Yetta. Hurry up, girl—but what use would she be against a thug? If only he could get up, fight, he stood a sporting chance—he prayed the walking man would return—

“What do you want?” he mumbled into the sand. “I haven’t any money. I don’t carry cash on the beach—”

The foot moved to the back of his neck in answer, and ground down on his spine.

“Just go,” Don said. “And we’ll say no more about it…”

At least two men burst into guttural laughter. He was outnumbered.

He was surprised when a soft hand gently stroked the gritty sand from his face and a husky voice whispered in his ear. “Marry me.”

A proposal? He wondered if the blow on his head had mashed his brain.“Yetta?”

The laughter rang out again. “Don’t you get it, loser? Yetta?  Yet another one?”

“No,” Don said.

“We need to stay in this country,” a harsh voice hissed in his ear. “This way, we all stay as family. One big happy family. Yes?”


“I think yes!” A boot crashed into his ribs.  Once. Twice. “Say yes, yes!”


Blows rained down. He heard bones crack. Felt blood trickling down his face. He stopped caring. Just wished it to be over…

They took his watch, rifled through his pockets, then dragged his bleeding body to the water’s edge, and left him for dead.

The cold, incoming tide washed against Don’s face and part-revived him, made his wounds sting. He squinted through swollen eyes at the three men as they turned to walk away. And Yetta. He must be able to describe them… The water pushed him forward a few inches, then dragged him back. His fingers scrabbles at the sand.

In the other direction, the walking man returned round the headland, idly poking at the debris the tide had brought in. Further along, something lifted and fell in the waves. Could be clothes, he thought. Some unlucky bather had lost their gear…

Then he saw the arm reaching out—and ran—


Photo by courtesy of sloopjohnb