Tag Archives: Short stories

Amnesia

New Year 2015

The New Year’s party was in full swing. Queen was blasting out Bohemian Rhapsody and then someone turned the music down and turned on the TV just in time to catch Big Ben booming the first strokes of midnight. A chorus of ‘Happy New Year!’ started up around the room and the bubbly flowed even more freely. Party-poppers popped, and the party goers launched into a slightly slurred rendition of Auld Lang Syne.

It was after three when the last two guests stepped out of the farmhouse door.

‘So you lucky sods are off skiing,’ said Geoff Harding, who owned the farm across the valley from the Blakelocks, ‘Where did you say you were going?’

‘Austria, we’re driving.’ Simon Blakelock pointed over to the new silver BMW X5 with the ski-rack perched on top and two sets of skis in smart zipped carry bags. ‘Linda hates flying and we’ve got plenty of time.’

‘I can’t wait,’ said Linda, sliding an arm round her husband’s waist and grinning up at him with huge blue eyes.

‘You’re lucky to have found that one,’ said Sue Harding attempting to wave a finger in Linda’s direction as she listed slightly and grabbed Geoff’s arm for support.

‘Don’t I know it!’ laughed Simon just a smidge too heartily.

‘Who else would put up with you!’ giggled Sue.

Geoff steadied Sue as she nearly missed the next step, ‘Come on,’ he said, ‘Just because he’s been married a dozen times doesn’t mean he’s that bad.’ He let out a huge guffaw.

Simon hugged Linda too him, ‘Hey! Steady on! She’s only number four!’

‘Well you guys have a great time, we’ll see you in a couple of weeks,’ said Geoff.

‘Send us a postcard,’ burbled Sue as Geoff guided her to their car.

‘Come on darling,’ said Linda, ‘There’s a lot of cleaning up to do before we leave.

Three Weeks Later

Simon came round slowly. There were bright lights. Someone was shining a torch in his eyes. What the hell …

‘Simon?’ said a pleasant male voice, ‘Mr Blakelock?’

Simon came to a bit more. His vision cleared. The man with the pleasant voice was wearing a white coat and had a stethoscope around his neck. Then he realised he was in a hospital bed.

‘What’s happened?’ he stuttered in a panic.

‘It’s OK Simon, you’re going to be fine, you’re in hospital. My name is Doctor Zigler, and you have had a bit of an accident, a pretty bad bang on the head in fact.’

‘I … I don’t remember!’

‘That’s not entirely unusual with a head injury,’ reassured Dr Zigler.

‘But I don’t remember anything!’ said Simon.

‘Not even your name?’

‘No.’

‘Your home – where you live?’

‘Nothing.’

‘OK. Well the worst thing to do is to worry, and stress yourself, because that won’t help your recovery. I can tell you that your name is Simon Blakelock and you live at Foxburn Farm, just outside Foxton. You’re forty-six. Two days ago you were on your bicycle when you had a collision with the post van. Apparently your brakes were in bad shape and you shot out into the road from your farm drive and into the path of the van.’

‘Lordy!’ mumbled Simon. ‘So when will my memory come back?’

‘That’s impossible to say. You’ve had quite a severe injury. The CT scan shows slight bruising to your brain. Some people can take quite a while to regain all of their memory; it often comes back a bit at a time.’

‘Hello!’ said a voice. Dr Zigler looked around and Simon looked up. A woman with a cheery smile and a shock of dark hair had poked her head through the curtain surrounding the bed.

‘Ah, Mrs Harding,’ said the doctor, ‘Simon, this is Mrs Harding, she and her husband are your neighbours. They’ve been keeping an eye on things at the farm for you. I must get on now. Maybe you two would like to have a little chat.’ He turned to Sue Harding, ‘Simon is suffering from memory loss, thanks to his bump on the head, maybe you could try and fill in a few blanks.’ Sue’s face dropped. Simon looked at her blankly. Why did the doctor’s request seem so unwelcome? ‘I’ll see you again tomorrow morning,’ said Dr Zigler.

After he’d left Sue Harding eased herself onto the edge of Simon’s bed.

‘Hi,’ said Simon.

‘Hi Simon, we – Geoff and I – didn’t know about the memory loss. What do you remember?’

‘Nothing, absolutely nothing. Not the accident or anything before it.’

‘Shit,’ muttered Sue.

More bad news surmised Simon. Could things get any worse? ‘Please,’ he said, ‘Tell me, whatever it is, just tell me. I need to know. I’m living in a massive blank at the moment.’

Sue drew in a huge breath. Why me, she thought. But someone was going to have to tell him. She moved onto the visitors chair next to the bed and took one of Simon’s hands in hers. Very bad news thought Simon.

‘OK, your name is … ‘

‘The doc has filled me in with name, age and address,’ he said quickly.

‘Right, OK. So … you were married Simon, last year you married Linda. Then at new year you guys drove to Austria and went on a skiing trip. Because you were both experienced skiers you went off-piste in the glacier area. You shouldn’t have been there, but you both love a bit of risk taking. There was a terrible accident and Linda lost control and fell into a crevasse, a deep crevasse. Bottomless. There was no hope of reaching her.’

Simon’s voice trembled, ‘My wife is dead?’

‘I’m so sorry Simon. You came back from Austria in pieces. Nothing would comfort you. You were still trying to get your head round it all when this accident with the bike happened. You’ve just not been with it.’

‘Have I got any kids?’

‘A son from your first marriage, but he’s in Canada.’

‘Parents?’

‘Your dad died some years ago, your mum is in a home.’

‘Great.’

‘Geoff and I have the farm across the valley from you,’ said Sue kindly, ‘We’re going to help you as much as we can.’

September 2015 – Eight months later

Simon poured himself a second cup of coffee and stared out of the window. Harvest was over. Sue and Geoff had been great this year, helped him with the farm and filled him in on various bits of missing memory, but there were still some great big holes. ‘A memory like bloody Swiss cheese,’ he muttered. The gleaming yellow of the stubble field in the distance beckoned in the sun. He must get the plough out; start preparing to get the winter wheat sown. He sighed and shrugged off a sense of loneliness. How could he be lonely for someone he only knew by name, and from information given to him by friends. Emotions were all still a blank. He finished his coffee and went to get his coat. Might as well get the ploughing done.

It was just after lunch, the big tractor droned steadily in a nice straight line as the plough turned the moist earth into orderly furrows. A small flock of seagulls had come inland and were following the plough, scavenging for worms and any other grubs and insects. A few rooks had joined them. Simon liked the birds. Not only the feathered kind he mused to himself. He must find himself a new woman. What if he wanted to marry again? Did the law require him to wait a certain number of years because his wife’s body couldn’t be found? He had no idea. He chuckled, if he met a fit bird he’d just have to live in sin. It was at that point that the birds behind the plough suddenly became seriously active, diving and wheeling and squawking excitedly. Simon heard them and looked back. Something pink – material of some sort. The birds were going crazy. Simon stopped the tractor, hopped down and walked back to whatever it was that had them so excited. He got within a few yards and stopped dead with shock. A mess of partially shredded pink material lay exposed above the earth. Entangled in it was a skeletal human hand.

‘Jesus Christ!’ Simon just stared, eyes fixed in horror. Then he dug out his mobile phone and phoned the police.

Some weeks later – in the Foxton Gazette

Farmer With Memory Loss Ploughs Up Wife He Murdered!

Simon Blakelock told friends and family that his wife had fallen into a crevasse while skiing in Austria, but detectives have proved that no such incident took place. Blakelock murdered his wife and buried her in one of his fields. It’s believed that he would come into a large inheritance on his wife’s death. Police are looking into the deaths of his three previous wives.

Beware the Dust Bunnies! (a short story)

June 2017

Canada:

It started suddenly without rhyme or reason. No one knew why. It was like the beginning of life, when the first creatures crawled out of the sea. Only this time they were born from dust.

Every night it grew. The whispering. Every night as Teresa slept. It was so faint that even the the old dog and the ginger cat couldn’t hear the dust bunnies communicating their terrible message under the bed.

‘Grow!’ breathed Fred gently, he was the biggest and hairiest of all. And at his command tiny particles of fluff and dust and hair gravitated towards them. And they grew bigger.

France:

The woman of the house had become obsessed with writing and for too long had ignored the housework. The vacuum cleaner, unemployed for weeks, had allowed the dust-bunnies to congregate. They had received messages on the air. Messages from the grand master hundreds of miles away in Canada. Now they grew softly, surreptitiously, under the beds, couch, and easy chairs, pulsing gently, whispering. Spiders gave them a wide berth, terrified of being caught up and fluffocated.

Australia:

Bruce lived alone in the outback. He was a simple man with simple ways. His ancient broom was dragged out every so often to do a minimalistic sweep around the kitchen while his arthritic knees defied any attempt at cleaning beneath anything. His guests, only one or two old mates a year, were hardly going to be peeping under the furniture. The dust bunnies picked up Fred’s message which reached them on the Australian breezes. The grand master must be obeyed.

Two years later

And so it was nearly everywhere in the world, under anything that could harbour them, the dust bunnies waited. Inconspicuously and stealthily they listened for the call. Compacted now, condensed, and hidden, crammed under any available shelter, they were ready.

In Canada Teresa had just got up when it happened, it was eight o’clock and she was sipping her first coffee. In France it was five in the evening and Jude was on the computer trying to think of a plot for a short story. In south-west Australia it was eleven o’clock and Bruce was sitting on his porch, eyeing the stars, his old sheepdog by his side and a cold beer in his hand. They all stopped what they were doing at the same moment and listened. A strange groaning was sounding throughout their houses, a creaking and a stretching and then the sharp splintering of wood. The dust bunnies were free at last.

Bruce glanced back over his shoulder at the open front door, wondering what the noise was. His jaw dropped. All he could see was grey fluff – a huge compacted writhing ball trying to force its way out onto the porch. His dog whined and cowered beside him. Bruce got unsteadily out of his chair, wondering how many beers he’d had, and backed across the yard, eyes glued to the front door.

The monster bunny was squeezing and squeezing, pulsating and pushing. Suddenly it burst forth and rolled out into the yard, rocking gently and expanding by the second to astronomical proportions as Bruce stared up at it. ‘Christ! It’s breathing!’ he said. It could engulf his house! But it didn’t. It suddenly took off, rising fast into the night sky, as though pulled by some unseen force, and in a flash it was gone. Bruce shook his head. Had he been on the whisky before the beer? Had it been a bad dream? He walked cautiously back to the house, put the TV on and sat down. The TV was showing a news bulletin; film of large balls of something in the sky, videos shot with mobile phones from all over the country. Then the newsreader was back, animated and excited.

‘These same sights are being reported from around the world. From just about every corner of the earth we are witnessing enormous balls of something, initially thought to be fluff, bigger than houses, travelling across the sky. Reports would suggest that they are all heading towards north America but nobody knows why. Fighter aircraft, scrambled in the U.K the U.S, here in Australia and in a number of other countries have reported that the balls don’t in any way appear to be dangerous – unless they fall on you!’ The newsman chuckled at his own joke. ‘Stay on this channel for further reports on what are being called the ‘Behemoth dust bunnies!’

Bruce was right, he hadn’t had too many beers! And it hadn’t been a bad dream.

Teresa, bare-foot, stepped through her shattered front door and gazed up in horror at the thing that had obviously been lurking under her bed – now overturned in a corner of the bedroom. It hung in the sky, a pulsating hairy monster, expanding by the second, blocking out the morning sun as it grew. All the neighbours were out gawking. ‘Mrs Clean’, as she was known, from three doors down, was in the street staring up in fascination.

‘Looks like a dirty great dust bunny, to me!’ she laughed, ‘I wonder where it came from.’

Apparently you could eat your supper off ‘Mrs Clean’s floor, it was that clean.

‘Who knows,’ muttered Teresa. Certainly not from under your bed she thought. She went back into the kitchen and picked up her phone. The front door needed fixing where the monster had burst through it. She watched the news on the TV in the corner while she waited.

The Breakfast News had just started.

‘The Behemoth Dust Bunnies appear to be heading right here!’ said the newsreader, ‘Reports say they are joining together at times to form even bigger balls.’ And almost as she said this the light faded. Screams from outside made Teresa drop the phone and rush to the door. Bumping and crackling sounds were coming from the sky as more giant bunnies came in fast from all directions. Open-mouthed the people in the street stared up in stunned silence as the new arrivals merged with Fred the master. And they kept coming. And a great shadow fell over the earth. And there was darkness.

The world held its breath. And then light, faint at first, started to return as the dust bunny as big as planet earth itself slowly rose, higher and higher, way past the clouds, further and further. And then it suddenly it gathered speed and in a flash it was gone.

Teresa stared up in awed relief as the sun fell on her face. She brushed some fluff off her bare feet and cursed the dog for nicking her slippers again. Then she went back in to phone the repairman.

Six Months Later

Teresa put her coffee on the table and switched on the TV. Someone was interviewing an astronomer called Bill Moon.

‘And you discovered this last night?’ asked the interviewer eagerly.

‘Yes, yes! It’s quite phenomenal,’ said Bill who was being photographed next to the biggest telescope in the world, ‘I’m really just an amateur, but sometimes I do get lucky and spot something really good. I discovered it last night, right at the end of the Milky Way. It’s the fluffiest planet I’ve ever seen! I got some rather amazing close-ups.’

The TV camera zoomed in and Bill’s close up filled Teresa’s TV screen.

‘It appears to be made of fine hairs, feathers, cobwebs and many other fibres,’ said Bill, ‘What I’m not sure about are those two small, but prominent, bright pink protrusions on the left hand side there.’

The camera zoomed in for an even closer shot.

Teresa sat bolt upright, and nearly spilled her coffee.

‘Those are my frigging slippers!’ she cried.

SHOT! (a short story).

SHOT!

The Volvo estate pulled into the lay-by at the edge of the wood. An old blue Renault 12 was also parked, but the driver wasn’t in the car. The woman who got out of the Volvo was in her early fifties, she wore a loose-fitting blue top over a flowery gathered skirt, and flat shoes. She looked around quickly before taking a narrow path into the wood.

The man with the gun parked in the lay-by opposite, three or four minutes later. He locked his Land Rover and hurried across to the wood, taking the same path as the woman.

The man who owned the Renault was forty something and in no way handsome. He was a maths teacher, and dressed like one. But he was a passionate maths teacher; not in-love but harbouring a great lust. He waited expectantly in a secluded glade fringed with tall ferns. The woman in the flowered skirt ran the last few steps towards him, throwing herself into his open arms and kissing him with unbridled passion. They tore hungrily at each others clothes and sank into the ferns.

The man with the gun was a silent hunter. He was ex-SAS and schooled in stealth. Slipping like a shadow through the trees he took in every movement, every sound. Almost invisible in his camouflage gear.

The couple, coupled in the ferns, were in a world of their own. Bits of clothing scattered carelessly around them. Her red silk knickers, his corduroy jacket with the elbow patches.

The man with the gun spotted his quarry. Just as he’d suspected they were in the same place as last week. Same time of day. He smiled to himself and slowly raised his gun.

The couple, ignorant of the man in the woods were going for seconds already. His cords now down round his knees, and her matching red brassiere had joined her knickers. Wild cries and sighs, and moans and groans emanated from the ferns as passions peaked.

The man with the gun squeezed the trigger. He was an ex-SAS sniper. He never missed a target. There was a loud crack as the rifle fired once and then again, and a terrible scream rent the stillness of the wood. Damn! He’d have to use his knife to finish the job.

A minute or two later he was walking back to his car when a man tore past him, attempting to carry a jacket in one hand and hold his trousers up with the other. Close behind the man was a woman in a flowery skirt, white-faced and clutching something red to her chest, part of which tumbled to the ground as she fled past.

The man with the gun set down the brace of rabbits he was carrying and picked up what the woman had dropped. A pair of red silk knickers. It was too late to stop her. She and the man had disappeared from view. He shook his head and grinned as he heard two cars start-up somewhere ahead, then he hung the knickers on a hazel bush at the edge of the path, picked up his rabbits, and headed to the Land Rover.

Marjorie’s Revenge

Another short story that may give you chuckle or two. Enjoy!

Marjorie’s Revenge

Under cover of darkness Marjorie Butterworth slipped out of her back door. The night was starless and the autumnal fog hung low as she scurried along the road. She pulled the hood of her hoodie further down over her face whenever she passed a lighted window, head down and hands deep in the pockets of her camouflage trousers. Mrs Butterworth was nearly seventy and not a hoodie or a camouflage type of person, she was in fact an upstanding member of the community and a member of the parish council. But she’d been pushed too far.

The recent council meeting had done it. George bloody Blair! Again! Mrs Fairweather, the butcher’s wife, had brought up the subject of dog-fouling and ways of controlling it, and Blair, the pompous old sod, had jumped in and raged on about dog owners, and why did they want dogs anyway, all they did was shit and bark, and little old ladies should have budgies if they wanted pets instead of rats on strings! The chairman had looked suitably miffed at the outburst and George had sunk back into his tweed waistcoat and wound his handlebar moustache back in.

Marjorie became more furious as she made her way through the churchyard. How dare that bastard allude to her dear little Binky, a most beautiful pekingese, as a rat on a string! George Blair needed to be taught a lesson, him and his unbending, bombastic, military attitude. He was intolerable and intolerant. He’d recently tried to stop planning permission for an extension on a cottage in the village simply because the owners were gay, and now refused to buy his papers from the village shop because the new owners were Indian. The man was a dinosaur.

Marjorie hurried down Brook Lane, George Blair’s house was at the very end, a lovely old Cotswold stone building with wonderful views of open farmland – except he’d only be able to see them from upstairs. The back garden was surrounded by high walls, with ivy trailing over the top. If Marjorie’s plan was to succeed she had to get into that garden. Her cunning plan was to raid George’s pumpkin patch. The old blighter had done nothing but brag about the pumpkin he’d grown for the Harvest Festival Pumpkin Competition and at every parish council meeting his pumpkin got bigger, and was now apparently a pumpkin of Olympic proportions. Marjorie was going to prick his balloon. By way of nabbing his pumpkin.

Blair’s side gate creaked hideously. Marjorie held her breath. The mist swirled around her. After a minute she continued on tiptoeing up the path to the tall arched doorway that opened into the back garden. At least she needn’t worry about a dog hearing her. The big old wrought iron handle on the door was well-oiled and turned easily. She pulled the heavy door open and slipped inside, quickly taking in the perfectly mowed lawn, edged with flowerbeds, and at the far end of the garden she could make out a good sized potting shed. Keeping to the edge of the lawn and ducking under various small trees she hurried down to the shed and dodged behind it. To her delight she found she was standing in the vegetable garden right next to the old git’s pumpkin patch!

Best check all was clear before she got to work. She peered round the shed. A downstairs light had come on. Not a worry. Probably having one of his hideously expensive whiskies he was always bragging about. ‘Give me a pint of Guinness any day,’ she muttered. Marjorie dug in her pockets for her little penlight torch. The small beam quickly picked out an enormous orange blob in the middle of the patch. ‘Good lord!’ she muttered when she stood beside it and took in the size, ‘The mother of all pumpkins!’ Blair hadn’t been exaggerating after all. It wasn’t going to be easy getting this monster home, in fact it was going to be nigh on impossible without a wheelbarrow, and she only had a sack. There was no way she could carry it. But she could still ruin his day. In a few minutes she was getting down and dirty beside the pumpkin with her penknife, carving out an enormous wedge. The moon slipped out from behind a cloud as she manhandled the pumpkin piece into her sack, stood up, and slung it over her shoulder. She was just going to set off when she thought she heard a cough. She froze. Had she imagined it? Cautiously she crept back to the side of the shed and peered at the house. Across the lawn the patio doors were open and the downstairs light was still on. But no sign of anyone. She decided to get out now. Leg it!

Marjorie pulled her hoodie well down over her face and taking a firm grip on her sack she launched herself from behind the shed.

She collided heavily with a tall blonde woman coming from the opposite direction.

‘Aagh!’ they both yelled.

Marjorie, who had lost her balance, and ended up on her ample backside, peered up from under her hood at the blonde in the moonlight. She didn’t get it. Blair had never talked of a wife or girlfriend. The dirty old sod had kept this quiet! The blonde was looking equally shocked. Marjorie noticed she was wearing a bright pink ballroom dancing dress and silver high heels. Her gaze travelled up to the woman’s face – a dreadful make-up job from what she could see between the strands of long blonde hair. Two puddles of black mascara and … a handlebar moustache!

‘George?’ gasped Marjorie in amazement.

George Blair grabbed at a set of earphones which snagged in the blonde hair and whipped the wig off with them. Marjorie caught a few brief strains of James Last’s ‘Somewhere My Love‘.

‘Please Marjorie, I’m begging you!’ George’s voice was stricken with panic.

Marjorie got up, smiling. ‘Dancing round the garden in drag to James Last George. What will the neighbours think?’

‘Please! … Marjorie! … I’ll do anything!’

‘I’m sure you will George. From now on I’m sure you will!’

Marjorie picked up the sack and slung it over her shoulder, the pumpkin would make a nice bunch of pies for the Harvest Festival.

In a Walled Garden …

I haven’t done any creative writing for ages due to so much time spent converting my four e-Books to paperback. But recently I’ve been spurred to get back into practise by a few of my fellow writer/bloggers.  I don’t know where this idea came from, I dreamt it up when we were in the car recently.

In a Walled Garden …

Sunday Morning

A commotion below in the old walled garden disturbed the nest-building jackdaws. One of them peered down from the chimney top, a twig in its beak, head cocked and one blue eye fixed on the woman. A young woman, standing on the lawn with her arms wrapped tightly around her, as though if she let go she would break into a million pieces.

The bird wasn’t disturbed by the sight of the woman but by the splintering crash of a Waterford crystal wine glass as it shattered on the patio, followed by the hoarse shouting of the woman’s husband.

‘You will not leave me! You will never leave me!’ Words steeped in rage and laced with alcohol.

The woman turned slowly, raising her chin and pulling herself up as though to strengthen herself against the fury in his voice.

‘It’s over,’ she said, and she unwrapped her arms, ripped off her wedding ring and flung it across the garden. It hit the old wall and pinged back into the rose bed. It was too much for the man.

The jackdaw watched intently as he charged across the grass roaring in some sort of demented anguish. He was a big man and when he threw himself at her it took them both down; his hands around her throat.

‘I’ll kill you!’ he bawled as they wrestled on the ground.

‘I’ll … see you … in hell!’ The woman choked out the words as she clawed at his face. He tightened his grip, he was too strong for her, too full of black fury and out of control. Her vision began to blur. Light was fading, but she managed to stare up into his eyes as he bent over her, those very blue eyes that she had once lost herself in. He was triumphant now, so pumped by his power over her that he allowed a slight relaxing of his grip. Her life in his hands. It felt glorious. It gave her the chance to suck in one last breath.

‘I’ll come back,’ she rasped, ‘And I’ll haunt you … you bastard … ‘.

A few minutes later she lay still. The husband stood up, pale and sweating, muttering curses and staring around. Thank god they lived in an isolated spot. Then he dragged the woman across the grass, into the potting shed and shut the door.

Sunday night

The man couldn’t sleep even though he was dog-tired; too much on his mind. The work had been hard – lifting the floor of the shed, and then the digging. So much digging that his hands were blistered. But it was done. He finished the whisky in the Waterford crystal tumbler. A shame she’d made him smash the wine glass; ruined the set. It would probably cost him fifty quid to replace it. Bitch. He eased his legs up onto the sofa and leaned back against the cushions. She was staring down at him from the photograph on the mantelpiece over the old fireplace. He’d smash that tomorrow. That picture of the three of them; her, himself, and his best friend Antonio. Friends since college, until now. Now that he’d found out about about the affair. She’d always fancied bloody Antonio with his Spanish good looks, charm oozing from every slimy Latin pore. ‘Bastard,’ he mumbled, curling his lip, ‘Wait till I get my hands on you.’ And then he closed his eyes.

The old grandfather clock in the hall struck three, it’s heavy tones resounding through the downstairs, and then a few seconds later there was another sound, a clink-clink-ping-clink-clingle- ping-ding- clingle-clink … . The man on the sofa woke up. The moon was shining in the window where he hadn’t quite pulled the curtains together. He sat up and rubbed a hand across his face and wondered what had woken him. His eyes were drawn to the little path of moonlight which ended in front of the old fireplace. There was something there, sparkling. He didn’t remember dropping anything. He eased himself off the sofa, heavy-headed, and padded across the carpet. A jolt went through him and he reared back at the sight of a ring. Her wedding ring. He’d know it anywhere, even in moonlight in the middle of the night; the bespoke design he’d paid a small fortune for. How … ? ‘I’ll haunt you, you bastard!’ Her last words slithered into his mind and an irrational fear slammed into his chest and squeezed, squeezed so hard he couldn’t breathe. Squeezed so hard that he toppled forwards and fell with a crash into the fireplace.

Three days later

The doctor watched the men from the mortuary load the body-bag into the sleek black van. He shook his head sadly. Poor bugger he thought, massive heart failure and dying alone like that. He wondered if the police had tracked his wife down. What a dreadful shock it was going to be for her. Maybe she was in Spain, she often took trips there. He looked up as a jackdaw on the roof suddenly gave a shrill cry. It was staring down, eye-balling him. It wasn’t happy. It had found a wonderful shiny treasure in the rose bed a few days ago and carried it up to the nest in the old chimney. His new wife was thrilled with it. They had placed it carefully between the twigs. The next day it was gone.