Sunday, 17 June 2012

The Caretaker

The adults were checking out the stalls on the summer fete and the three boys had been racing around for some time. Finally exhausted they stopped for a rest and grabbed a glass of lemonade each from the picnic table their parents had set up on the edge of the green.

Tommy and John were twins but Tommy had always been the more daring and more boisterous of the two. Alan loved playing with them both as he was an only child and loved the company. He though it would be great to have a twin who you could play with all the time rather than just when his mum let him go over to see the twins. John was not so sure, he thought being an only child would be much more fun. Then he would have been able to read his books without being picked on all the time.

After they had got their breath back and finished their lemonade it was obvious that Tommy had got bored of racing around playing formula 1 and was looking for a new adventure. Tommy noticed Mr Carstairs the school caretaker working hard on putting the finishing touches to a banner and called the other boys around him and started to outline his plan.

Mr Carstairs had been the caretaker of Kingston Magna's elementary school for the last twenty years and had four children of his own. His children were now all in their twenties but he had learnt the body language of eight year olds up to no good a long time ago. He put the finishing touches to the banner and out the corner of his eye noticed Tommy and his little gang. Whatever they were whispering about was not going to be good. As the boys headed towards the front door of the school, which had been left open for people to use the toilets, Mr Carstairs decided he needed to put his paint away in the stores and he headed around the back of the school to the old coal bunker.

Once inside the school John started to get nervous.

'What if someone sees us?'

'We say we were going to the loo. It is allowed you know,' replied Tommy exasperated yet again by his brothers unwillingness for adventure. We need to find out what old Carstairs keeps in the room at the bottom of the corridor. It must have all the footballs and cricket ball that ever got stuck on the school roof.'

'Do you really think so Tommy?' Alan asked, excited to be involved in such a great adventure.

'But it will be locked and this will all be a waste of time,' complained John.

'It might not be. He's been busy today and might have forgotten. Let's just go and see.'  

The walk down the corridor seemed to take forever and John was praying that some adult would come in to use the toilet so they would be sent outside again, but no such luck.

Then they were outside the door. Tommy leaned forward and slowly turned the handle. It opened.

'Quick get inside before anyone sees us,' Call Tommy excited by the treasure they were about to behold. Once inside the room was very dark but there were no windows so Tommy reached up and put on the light. The office was empty, not full of hundreds of footballs and cricket balls that they had been hoping to get their pick of.

'Where are all the balls Tommy?' Alan asked, feeling very disappointed that the big adventure had all come to nothing.

'Wait they must be here somewhere.' Tommy was not about to be defeated.

They looked around the room and suddenly Tommy say at the back of the room a door.

'Look. That must be the ball cupboard.'

Tommy excitedly led the way and carefully pulled at the door. It was locked. There really was nothing he could do now.

'Right let's get out now,' John called relieved this adventure was going no further.

'Wait, look what I've found,' called Alan as he appeared from behind the lone desk in the room waving a bunch of keys.

'Well done Alan,' cheered Tommy. Alan beamed from ear to ear happy to have done something Tommy approved of.

The third key they tried opened the door. They slowly pulled the door and looked inside. No balls but instead a set of stairs descending into a basement. This was more like it. A real adventure. There was no light switch they could see but Alan soon found a torch.

'I really think we should leave now.' John insisted.

'Not so fast,' Shouted Tommy. If you want to stay in the adventurer gang you have to be brave enough to go down the stairs.'

'Come on John. You do want to be in the gang don't you?' Alan beamed up at him.

Tommy grabbed the torch and started down the stairs.

'The adventurers club starts here let's go.'

Alan happily followed him. John knew if he went back on his own people would soon ask where the others were and he was no snitch so he reluctantly followed. As they were heading down the stairs they heard scratching.

'What's that?' shuddered Alan.

'Probably just a rat,' John informed him. He may not have wanted to be there but he knew rats couldn't harm them.

Two more steps.

'Arrrrrrrrgh.' A deep moaning noise can from the bottom of the stairs.

'That was no rat,' Alan whispered

'Come on adventurer gang let's go and have a look.' Tommy called sounding a lot braver than he felt.

'Arrrrrrgh' as they got to the bottom of the stairs the moaning was getting louder.

Tommy slowly shone the torch around the basement room and the beam fell upon a sight they never expected to see.

'AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH.' Three small boys turned on their heels and raced up the stairs, no stopping until they had got out of Mr Carstairs room, along the corridor and back out into the sun. They sat at the picnic table desperately trying to get their breath back.

'W-w-what was that,' whimpered Alan desperately trying not to cry in front of his friends.

I don't know but we should never tell anyone what we have seen. It is an adventurers club secret. Okay.' Tommy whispered

'Agreed.' chorused Alan and Tommy together.

Just after the boys had made their pact Mr Carstairs reappeared besides the Head Master chuckling.

'Ah Mr Carstairs I've been looking for you. Is everything okay.' asked the Headmaster

'Oh yes everything's just fine. I just had to sort out a problem in the basement but I think everything should be okay from now on.

Monday, 11 June 2012



My name is Paris and I am a beautiful man. When your mother names you after a character from a Jilly Cooper novel you need to grow up beautiful or life can be tough. Last check in the mirror and I am ready for Friday night. I like what I see. Tall, slender, hair black as a starless night and cornflower blue eyes. When I turn on the charm they twinkle and I have yet to find a girl that can resist that. Right off we go women of Nottingham beware.

I don't know where all the babes are tonight. It is very rare I get as far as the club without pulling. I may have to lower my standards if I'm to get a shag tonight. Ah there's one. Plain but not ugly. She'll do.

'Hi there. I'm Paris.' I give her the eye twinkle and straight away I can tell she has forgotten her mates and will be mine tonight.

'Wow,' she actually said wow. This is going to be too easy.

My name is Paris and I am a beautiful man. Last check of the mirror and I am ready for Friday night. I like what I see suddenly the door bell rings. As I go down the stairs I can see what looks like two coppers through the frosted glass door.

I slowly open the door.

'Good evening officers how may I help you?'

'Are you Paris Jones?'

'Yes I am'

'Did you spend last Friday night with Suzy Sutcliffe?'

'I don't think so. Oh wait there was that girl from the nightclub. I think her name was Suzy.'

'Please accompany us to the police station.'

'I am sorry but I am meeting some people in an hour. Can I not come tomorrow? What is this all about anyway.'

'We need you to come with us now.'

'Well I can't. I am busy.' I was starting to lose my temper.

'In that case we are arresting you for the rape of Suzy Sutcliffe.'

They grabbed me, handcuffed me and manhandled me into the back of the police car.

The next few months passed in a blur. I was formally arrested and charged and somehow the whole thing went to court. I explained to the jury how Suzy had said it was okay to go back to her place and she was up for it. consensual is the term they used. Once her barrister started questioning me I did have to admit she had tried to change her mind once we got back to her place. But I knew she was just nervous. I mean look and her and look at me who wouldn't want me? I had stayed the night. Rapists don't stay the night, they attack women in alleyways and are ugly and wear anoraks.

The jury were back within the hour. I was in the clear. What did they mean guilty? How could they think I was guilty. She wanted me, I know she did.

I don't recall the sentencing it was all a blur. Apparently as I showed no remorse that made it worse for me. Five years they said with no chance of parole for at least three. One of those grim looking guards pushed me into the van to be transported to prison. Just as he turned to close the door he smiled at me

' There will be lots of people who want you now. Enjoy.' The door slammed and the real nightmare began.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Parva's Heather

Parva's Heather

It had taken months to set up and finally the day had arrived. The 3rd June 2012, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee celebrations and the residence of Windsor Crescent were having a very special party. It was only just 8am and already Mrs Sweetum was rousing all her helpers. She had been the head of the organising committee and nothing would have got done without her. Then again nothing got done in Kingston Parva without her. She had been in charge of the committee to improve street lighting, got the gritters to come off the main road into a very small village during the worst of the snow and ensured the local park had the best of everything. As is usual with this type of woman she had been a head mistress and upon retirement had decided to continue her good works for the village. It had been her friendship with the Chief Constable, from her time as a magistrate, which had ensured that the road closure request for Windsor Crescent had been approved with no questions. The fact this road was a crescent that housed only 15 houses meant it would have been approved anyway but she like things to move slightly faster than normal.

By 8.30am Mr Peters and Mr Jones were up ladders attaching bunting across the street and their respective wives were buttering bread. Mrs Aylesbury, head of the WI was about to set off to collect the home made cakes kindly baked last night and donated by the other members. The street party was for any resident of Kingston Parva to attend, of which there were only 100 but the residents of Windsor Crescent were the main workers. Through the alleyway at the back of the crescent was the school playing field and the teachers and some of the other mums and dads were setting up stalls for the afternoons entertainment. There was to be an old fashioned sports day to tie the celebration in with the London Olympics. The eggs were currently being boiled for the egg and spoon race and Mr Caruthers, school groundskeeper, was marking out the running track and getting the sacks and bean bags ready for some of the other races.

Mrs Sweetum was determined this was going to be the most perfect Jubilee celebrations ever. The lord mayor was coming and little Daisy Jones and her best friend Yvonne Peters were lined up to give the lady mayoress a beautiful bunch of posies grown in the school's garden.

Just then as Mrs Sweetum was checking her clip board Mr Caruthers came running through the alleyway with a look of horror on his face.

'Mrs Sweetum. Mrs Sweetum.' He panted.

If it hadn't have been for the fact he was bright red and panting for breath Mrs Sweetum would have thought this was one of his usual panic for no reason episodes.

'What's wrong?'

'It's the garden! All the flowers are dead.'

'What do you mean they're dead?'

'Exactly that. They have all just withered and died.'

'Mrs Jones.' Mrs Sweetum called to a rather erect and efficient looking woman. 'Can you take over here please whilst I go and check this out with Mr Caruthers?'

'Of course. Leave it with me.'

Mrs Sweetum sped off with Mr Caruthers following in her wake. When they arrived at the small plot of land behind the school building it was exactly as Mr Caruthers had said. The flowers were all dead. They looked as if they had been there for months without anyone caring about them. Yesterday there had been the most beautiful display of colour all tenderly looked after by the children. The first action of the day was to select who had grown the best flowers which would then have been picked and presented to the Lady Mayoress.

'But what's happened Caruthers? Is it those kids from over at Ashbury? You know what vandals they can be.'

'I know what you mean but these flowers have just died. As far as I can tell there hasn't been any jiggery pokery going on.'

'Well at least the garden is round the back of the school so no one will see it. I will go and see if any of the Dads have got some flowers they are will to let us dig up.' Mrs Sweetum as ever calmly assessed the situation and decided on the best course of action.

'Okay. Well I best get back to the sports hut and finish getting the kit ready for the Parva Olympics.' Mr Caruthers headed off to the shed that he quaintly called the sports hut looking very confused.

Mrs Sweetum had just finished surveying the wasteland that had previously been the school garden when she heard the most extraordinary noise coming from the sports hut. The wailing of a wounded dog wouldn't have been far off a description. She raced over followed by Mr Peters who having finished the bunting had been heading over to see where he was needed next. As they neared the shed Caruthers came out white as a sheet.

'What is it Caruthers?' Mrs Sweetum rushed over worried he was having some kind of breakdown.

'See for yourself.' He wailed pointing towards the shed.

As Mrs Sweetum and Mr Peters carefully entered the shed they discovered all the bean bags had been ripped apart and the little white beans strewn all over the shed.

'Who would do such a thing?' Mr Peters asked in disbelief.

'The same people who killed all the flowers in the garden.'

'What? The flowers have all been killed! This is vandalism. We need to call the police.'

Just then Mrs Sweetum turned and noticed that some of the beans had got stuck to the shed window.

'No I don't think we need the police. Not today. Can you take Mr Caruthers for a nice cup of tea and I will get this sorted out''

The beans made a message.

6/6/77 HW

Now I understand.' Muttered Mrs Sweetum under her breath and she lowered herself onto Mr Caruthers' chair and thought back to the last Jubilee celebrations she had organised.

It had been the morning of the 6th June 1976 and Mrs Sweetum had been Miss Allsop and the lead carer at the village nursery. The village hall had been decked out and the tables laid out with union jack table cloths and paper plates and cups so the local children could enjoy the day. The mayor of the time was to visit with his wife and the flower girls were Heather Walters and her best friend Mary Smith. By 3pm all the children had arrived in their fancy dress and everything was ready. At 3.30 the children were starting to get restless and Miss Allsop finally got notification that the mayor was running late and would be at least another 30 minutes. It was decided that the children could at least have their sandwiches and that the desert could wait until after the mayor's visit. The local mums had handed out the sandwiches and the noise had been muted to a dull roar when suddenly a scream rang out through the room. Miss Allsop turned just in time to see Heather grab Mary's hair and pour cherryade down the front of her beautiful white flower girl outfit.

'Heather Walters get to my office now,' bellowed Miss Allsop.

'It's not my fault, she started it,' Heather wailed through the tears.

'I don't care what she did that is no way to behave. I will deal with you later but I can guarantee you will not be meeting the mayor. Now get to my office.'

As Miss Allsop pointed Heather rushed out of the hall. Just as Miss Allsop and Mrs Smith were trying to console Mary they heard a screech of tyres and everyone rushed outside. There in the middle of the road was the mayor's car with Heather lying in front of it. The paramedics were amazingly fast at getting to the scene but Heather never regained consciousness.

That had been 35 years ago and what was happening today was obviously related. Mrs Sweetum guessed she was supposed to believe this was all being done by the ghost of Heather Walters but she didn't believe in such things and she knew a far more corporeal hand was involved here. But who? And why?

Suddenly she jumped out of the chair and raced over to the school. The dresses for the presentation were in the teachers' lounge and everyone was outside getting ready for the celebrations. She burst into the room just as Mrs Peters was opening a bottle of cherryade.

'Wait!' yelled Mrs Sweetum.

'Oh no youre not going to scare me with your shouting this time,' growled Mrs Peters.

'But I don't understand why are you doing this?'

'You killed Heather because all you care about is your precious Jubilee celebrations.'

'But Mary,' Mrs Sweetum hoped using her first name would calm the situation, like it does in the movies. 'I didn't kill her. Don't think I don't wish that I hadn't shouted, but Heather ran out into the road. The gate should have been locked and the mayor's driver should have been paying more attention. All these things together led to Heather's death.

'If I hadn't of pulled her hair in the first place, you wouldn't have shouted and none of this would have happened.' Mary Peters said as the tears started to flow down her cheeks.

'Oh my god, your Mary Smith.' Mrs Sweetum suddenly realised.

'Yes. Nothing was ever the same again after Heather died and my life has never seemed complete. I have been searching for something ever since.'

'Your Yvonne is going to give the posy to the lady mayoress today. Surely that is something to be proud of?'

'But I am so worried that something will happen to Yvonne.'

'Come now, the road is closed this time nothing can happen. I would like to show you something.'

Mrs Sweetum walked Mrs Peters over to where the Lord Mayor was to be received and on the wall was a small area about twelve inches by twelve inches covered by two very small curtains.

Mrs Sweetum pulled back the curtains.

"Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. In remembrance of Heather Walters. 6/6/77"

'See I have never forgotten Heather and today is a day for families to come together and remember.'

'Thank you so much.' Mrs Peters smiled through her tears. 'I am so sorry for all the trouble I have caused.'

'Nothing that can't be fixed. Let's go and finish the decorations and enjoy our day.'

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Glass Vase

Glass Vase

The Glass vase smashed into a thousand pieces as it hit the wall. The shards hitting the floor, beating out a rain tattoo on the hard wood floor, lying there twinkling in the evening sunlight like the diamonds she would have preferred. Like the diamond earrings she knew he had bought because she had seen the receipt two days before. Finally a birthday present that didn't make her feel ninety. Something that showed he though of her as a woman and not just as his wife. When he had given her the large box she has though it was some kind of joke. The large box with a smaller box inside and then a smaller box in that and so on until the small velvet jewellery box was discovered. She had though how clever he had been to make it feel heavy. And then she had opened it to find that bloody vase. He hadn't even bought any flowers to go in the bloody thing.

That had been twenty years ago and she had kept her feelings hidden and joked how he would have to buy flowers now so it got plenty of use. He had done for quite a while. Big bunch of flowers every Friday, much more attention and the sex had be fantastic. She had read somewhere that people who had affairs then also had more sex with their spouses. Why had she not left then? Why had she not confront him about the earrings as soon as she knew? She didn't know. Things had gone back to normal after about six months and she wondered if the affair had ended. Then around Christmas there had been a receipt for two bracelets. Why two? One for the lover and one for the wife? But come Christmas Day there was just the usual slippers, bathrobe and smellies.

She had convinced herself she would be no better without him and that as she didn't work she would have not been able to support herself. She had launched herself into clubs and local events and became something of a village celebrity. She didn't even notice him that much. He was a way to keep her house and in that respect was she any better than a mistress? She had never given him children and they liked it that way. No ties, they could do what they wanted when they wanted.

The receipts had continued through the years and she always made sure she bought herself something of equal value. As he earned all the money he was still buying it for her and as she got to choose the pieces were exactly to her liking. 

Today she had been on one of her charity jaunts and had ended up in an area of town she had never been too before. As she had finished her meeting early she had decided to treat herself a coffee.

'Mr Jones. How are you today?' The waiter ran passed her to great what was obviously a favoured customer.

'Very well thank you Luigi. Are the girls here yet?' That voice. It was him.

'Not yet.'

She sat at the back of the cafe in the dark so he couldn't see her. After about 5 minutes two very beautiful women appeared. He got up and kissed them each on the cheek. As she watched them it was obvious they knew each other very well. Both girls were wearing identical bracelets and one had a beautiful set of diamond earrings.

She slowly drank her coffee and then ordered another. Not wanting to leave the restaurant as she would have to have walked passed him. Just as she was thinking she couldn't hold out much longer they left.

She then signalled for the bill.

'Can you tell me who that gentleman was sat outside earlier? I am sure I know him but I can't remember where from,' She nonchalantly asked the waiter.

'That was Mr Jones and his daughters.' The waiter proudly told her. 'He comes here every week with the girls. They have been coming here for years. It was very sad when their mother died last year, but they seem to be pulling through. It is good that there are so close.'

She had smiled at the waiter, fighting back the tears and had rushed home. How could he have betrayed her like that? After all these years, those girls must have been at least twenty years old. She realised who all the gifts had been for. She had been living a lie for the last twenty years and now it was time to stop.

She packed a bag, transferred half of the money in their joint account into her savings account and started to leave. She wanted to leave to note to explain she knew what had happen but she couldn't find the words. As she picked up her car keys from the table in the hall she saw the vase and knew how to make him understand.

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