Tag Archives: short story

Who Shall I Kill Next?

 

 

Betty sipped her coffee hot

And watched the scene below

It was a busy market day

And the crowd was all aglow.

Children were laughing and running

Between the shopping stalls.

Mothers with prams were trying

To manoeuvre makeshift walls

Nearby long-suffering fathers

Were trying to look so cool.

Or at the very least

Not appear the fool.

Betty could see the thieves

Trying to work the crowd

They tried to be unnoticed

Their work was not allowed

Then the Ladies of the Night

Came looking for a score

It looked like easy pickings

As they peaked around a door

Now Betty had a code

That she followed to a T

She could not bring herself

To hurt a child you see

So she would stay away

From the mothers that were there

The fathers on the other hand

Who said life was fair

Though it might be easy.

But it really was a thought.

Men could be the target

She wondered if she ought

She was getting bored.

Somebody had to die.

Should they be deserving

or one who caught her eye

 

The sun was setting for the night

Soon the light would dim

Work was needed to be done

It’s not a silly whim

She heaved a sigh, and flexed her arms

And prepared to take a life.

Perhaps she’d use some poison

Or perhaps just with a knife . . .

. . . Chapter One . . .

Five Shots for The Broken Anchor

 

Andrew heaved a sigh of relief. It had been a busy night but now the bar was empty and he was looking forward to cashing out and going home. Not bad for a summer gig but it was exhausting work. As he turned around to polish down the bar one more time he noticed a man sitting at the end.

“Hey man I didn’t see you sitting there, sorry about that. What can I get you?” Andrew looked expectantly at the man and wondered if he’d seen him somewhere before. He looked familiar.

The party in question raised his head slightly and quietly said “beer, whatever you got on tap”.

Andrew hurried to comply. The sooner this guy drank up his beer the sooner Andrew could get out of here. As the bartender turned back to his patron he noticed the man looking at the five shots of rum that were always kept at the end of the bar.

Ever a friendly sort Andrew proceeded to explain. “There’s a cool story about those shots of rum. The original owner of the bar and his four shipmates went down at sea in a storm. These are to honour them. Cool story don’t you think?” Andrew expected this patron to react the way everyone else did: to smile and then to go on to talk about something else. No one likes to talk about death too often it’s, well, depressing.

“It was’na cool, it was cold. Bitterly cold. You have’na got the story right.” The person speaking barely raised his head and he spoke so quietly that Andrew had to stop what he was doing and pay attention.

“Only four died that night. Tonight. 100 years ago tonight there was a storm. They thought they were safe. They anchored in a small bay and left one on watch to make sure everything was okay. Everything wasn’t okay. It was cold. Just one quick little sip of gin would warm you up. Problem is one little sip ended up becoming a whole bottle. It was a bugger of storm. But sailors are used to sleeping when the boat rolls. They count on their shipmate on watch to let them know if there’s any danger. But he fell asleep. Too much grog. When the big wave hit he got tossed into the drink. Saved his life. Shipmates were asleep below deck. The sea took ‘em. The sea doesn’t give back what she takes. She’s a jealous mistress.”

Andrew was stunned. “How do you know this? How do you know what happened? And what happened to the fifth guy that went overboard?”

The man looked up and Andrew could see his face and realized that he was an old man. He looked broken and sad. Andrew looked a little more closely and realized where he’d seen his face before. He took a step back and watched.

“Insurance money paid for this bar and its name tells the story of what happened that night: The Broken Anchor. One man survived and lived with the guilt of what he had done. He lived and for the next 40 years made a toast to his four shipmates every night with four tots of rum. Their ghosts can’t drink them but everybody should know how they died.”

“Cecil. His name was Cecil. I remember now. He was buried at sea. When he died he asked that the name of the bar never be changed and a measure of rum be added to the others so that there are now five. I love the history of the area and that one is definitely one for the books. Man that is so cool! You must be a relative, you look just like the picture in the office. ” Andrew was excited and turned away to grab a pen and a piece paper to write down this newfound knowledge. When he turned back the party he had been speaking to was gone. There was water pooling on the stool and the floor. There was another damp spot on the bar along with a piece of seaweed and an empty shot glass.

At first he was confused thinking he’d imagined all of this but when he looked to the end of the bar the remaining four shots of rum were also gone, emptied. A chill went up Andrew’s back and for the first time in a very long time he grew afraid of the dark.

At that precise moment he heard the local church bell ring 2 o’clock in the morning. Gusts of wind rattled the panes of glass in the front window and Andrew for just a moment was sure he heard several men singing. He couldn’t quite make out the words but was pretty sure he heard the name Cecil B. That was the name of the boat!

 

 

 

Dream Walker

Have you ever awoken from a deep sleep with your lips pulsating as if from a lover’s kiss? Have you ever been alone in the middle of the night and yet awoken gasping and wet as if from an intimate embrace? Dreams. In the middle of the night our defences are at their weakest. We cannot protect ourselves from the dreams that enter our minds when we are asleep. The experts say that we dream constantly, that our minds are solving complex problems that we cannot contend with when conscious. That would explain many dreams but not all of them. Some people do not remember their dreams. Some awaken feeling as if something wonderful has happened but they have no recollection of what. Others awaken with the dream intact.

 

Dreams are not reality. Or are they? What if they are manifestations of a different reality? What if dreams are engineered by a person or persons with more powerful minds than the average dreamer? What if . . . . .

 

***************

 

Jeremy laid his head on the pillow. He sighed. It had been an exhausting day and he needed his sleep desperately. Preferably eight blissfully uninterrupted hours of unconsciousness. Then he could start this nonsense all over again. His eyes closed, his body relaxed.

 

There was a gentle breeze wafting through the glen. That seemed to keep the temperature comfortable although he couldn’t actually feel it. He knew it was there by watching the long grasses moving as if to a gentle love ballad. Jeremy didn’t know where he was. He did know that he was at peace here; the rest of the world was far away and unimportant. And then he saw her.

 

A tall slender figure slowly materialized out of the dense forest. They say that beauty is quantifiable, that there are certain effects that are the difference between beautiful and merely attractive. They say that our visual understanding is predicated on our past experiences and that our interpretation of what we see is primal. Jeremy had no words to speak or even to think of as she walked towards him. His body betrayed him; he leaned forward as if to embrace her and she stopped. Even the words she spoke touched his heart as if a gentle kiss brushed his lips. He waited. His breath came quicker as he watched her. He wanted her. He wanted to embrace her. He wanted to rest his head on her lap like a child and feel safe. He did feel safe. He felt as if this is where he was meant to be.

 

***************

 

Anna didn’t want to fall asleep, yet she felt the strong pull of her bed. She had been up too long, working too hard on too many projects. She needed the relief of nothingness, the mindless abandonment of sleep. She turned out the lights and rolled into a more comfortable position. Anna sighed.

 

The elevator doors opened quickly, she darted inside. She had to be in time, she had to catch him. With a slight jolt the elevator began it’s decent. Ninety floors, it would take too long, she had to stop him. Anna glanced at the floor indicator, it was moving as if in a free fall. Bullet Elevator. She remembered. It was the new Bullet Elevator that moved three times faster than the fastest elevator in use. She was going to make it. Before she had finished her next thought, the elevator doors opened on the ground floor and Anna began looking for him, the man she cared for. She knew he was headed for the parking lot and it was a bit of a walk. There were two routes he could take: underground via a shopping concourse or outside across a courtyard and a street. There was a turnstile ahead and a tall, slender woman taking tickets. Tickets! Anna didn’t have a ticket. She looked down at her hand and at the necessary ticket. The slender woman smiled as she accepted the ticket. Anna moved quickly, she would catch John and everything would be all right.

 

***************

 

Car fumes, she could smell car fumes. Madelaine tried to turn over. She was lying on her side and she was painfully aware of the very hard surface beneath her. What the hell was she doing in a parking garage? That’s where she was, an underground parking garage. Sue. She was here with Sue. They were practicing with the sword. Why? Sue had purchased a very old sword of some obscure parentage and she wanted to practice with it. Her apartment held too many breakables to risk swinging a potentially deadly weapon so the garage it was. Kidnapped! She remembered, Sue has been kidnapped! She had to reach a phone, call the police, but there was still one of the kidnappers in the garage. A woman, a tall, slender woman and she had a gun. Madelaine was the target, she had tried to protect Sue and now she was in trouble. She was hiding beneath a car, she was frightened, confused. There were footsteps coming towards her, they stopped. Madelaine held her breath.

 

5:00 am came much too early in the morning to suit Madelaine but it was what her job required. It hadn’t been a restful night. She had a nagging head ache behind her eyes and she was exhausted. Madeline sighed, someone had to be at the office first and she had been nominated. Oh well, it paid the bills.

 

***************

 

Do you ever awakened from a dream and wonder about the people you have just met? You swear you have never seen them before and yet they are familiar to you. Does the same person show up in many of your dreams, sort of a recurring figure and yet you don’t know them, or do you? Is it a tall slender woman with a warm smile or perhaps a solid, stocky man with a glint in his eye? Maybe both. What actually happens in our dreams? It is almost like entertainment. Entertainment for whom? Is it for our benefit or for someone else’s, someone with the ability to insert themselves into our minds and follow or perhaps control our dreams? Interesting thought. Oh and pleasant dreams. Maybe I’ll see you there.

April’s Showers

Ok, so, yes I seemed to have posted this every year since I started posting. but . . . I like it. And I have had a rough week. I caught an infection and then bruised my . . er . . bum which makes everything hurtful! So I am wimping out and posting, again, my April story. Stay tuned for next week when I wax philosophically on Reality TV. Hee hee hee!

 

April’s Showers

She hated her name, she hated this month, and above all she hated this rain! April clutched her handbag a little tighter to her chest as well as her slightly damp newspaper. It was just a few more steps before she could get out of this relentless rain and into her nice, warm coffee shop.

With a sigh April sat down at her usual table and smiled at the waitress. She knew what April always ordered and she would bring her a coffee and a warm croissant just like yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. When her coffee arrived April wrapped her chilly hands around the cup and breathed in the hot steaming aroma of freshly brewed coffee. It was coffee, it wasn’t a Grande non-fat latte with soy milk and half fat hazelnut vanilla shavings or something else bizarre. It was just coffee: good, old, black, strong coffee. For the first time that day she sighed and allowed herself to relax.

This was the time of day April enjoy above all else. She could sit and relax over her cup of coffee, she could read the paper, and she could think about the day’s events: what she wanted to do, what she should do, and what she had done. As she was sipping her coffee and nibbling on her croissant the door opened and with it came a nasty, cold wet wind. And all April could do was think about how much she hated this month and shiver.

The person that came through the door and intruded on April’s musing was a man. Physically he was an attractive man: tall, well-built, muscular. But he had one glaring imperfection: he was smiling! The first words out of his mouth were the dreaded words that April had been hearing her whole life:

“April showers bring May flowers!” The man smiled and shook his umbrella causing more drops of cold water to infest the room. “I would like a cup of very hot, very strong, very ordinary coffee, if I may.”

April cringed, he was a happy man.

“I must admit I absolutely love the April showers.” The man positively exuded well-being. “The rain washes the world clean and leaves it smelling like spring. What could be more uplifting than a rainy day in spring?”

The waitress behind the counter chuckled to herself. She glanced over at April knowing full well that April was not a happy person in the morning and she didn’t enjoy other people being happy in the morning either. It seemed to interfere with her most comfortable state of miserable.

If the gentleman in question had simply picked up his coffee and exited the café, the day would have continued in exactly the same manner as it always had. But this gentleman decided to stay and enjoy his coffee. He looked around the room and saw only one customer. Like a predator sensing fresh meat he moved towards April’s table.

“Excuse me Miss may I join you?” He asked pleasantly enough.

Without raising her head she replied, “I prefer to be alone, thank you.” Her answer was curt but not impolite.

“Nonsense, no one should drink their coffee alone.” And the man sat.

April looked up, too shocked to actually say anything. For the first time in her life her mind was blank. There was no witty retort on the tip of her tongue to spew forth and lash at this intrusive stranger. All she could do was stare and hope that the disdain on her face was clearly visible.

“As I said no one should drink their coffee alone and certainly not a beautiful woman.” He was still smiling. “And my name is Bill.”

April couldn’t stop staring. She knew that in polite company she should smile demurely and offer him her name. But she couldn’t do it. If she told him her name he would say what a thousand other people have said to her in that same happy tone: ‘April showers bring May flowers!’ She hated her name! She did consider coming up with an alias on the spot, something like Hermione or Persephone. But she couldn’t do it. She sighed, it was her lot in life and she was honest enough to accept the consequences.

“My name is April.”

As she said her name, April looked down at her coffee, her half eaten croissant and her unopened paper. She didn’t want to see the look on his face as he said those horrible words she had grown to hate. But one second turned in to two and then three and still he said nothing. So April raised her head and looked at him.

“I know what it’s like to have a name that is used in other contexts. I get called the bill collector, or asked if I have heard the joke about the Billboard. I could use the named William but it gives people pleasure to make silly little jokes about my name and it doesn’t cost me anything. People need a little silly in their lives and I am actually quite honoured that I can put a smile on someone’s face. It does get a little tedious sometimes but it’s still a smile.

April grimaced, “I find it tedious all the time! The rain is unceasing. The damp makes my hair frizzy, my clothes get wet, my feet are constantly cold and for someone to come up to me and sing that silly song about showers and May flowers it’s horrible!”

Bill took a sip of his steaming coffee and pondered what she had said for just a moment.

“Actually I think it’s quite wonderful that you remind people of the beauty that comes about because of the rain in April. You could say you’re an icon that helps people to remember the beauty that’s out there and that will soon be all around us because it’s the beginning of spring. I would think you’d be quite pleased.”

April heaved a sigh and shook her head.

“How can you be so happy with such horrible things going on in the world? People are dying in other countries for political agendas we can’t fully understand. People are getting mugged on the street for $20 in their wallet. There are starving children in this city not just in other countries of the world and we sit here drinking our coffee as if nothing was wrong. How can you justify that?”

Bill’s smile wavered just a fraction and he shook his head. “You can never justify the horrible things that are going on in the world. You can support the agencies that help those who are most in need. And you can honour those who are fighting to protect our way of life. You can live your life to the fullest and never forget that there were those who gave up their lives so that you and I could sit here and drink a cup of coffee in relative peace and security.”

April grasped her almost empty coffee cup tighter, her croissant and paper completely forgotten. “I can’t just shut off my mind with all the horrible things that are going on outside that door.” April was exasperated that this man didn’t understand. What right did she have to be happy?

Bill stared at this obviously distraught woman. There was more wrong here than just an individual’s dislike of a song. She was so caught up in what was wrong, evil, and hateful that she was missing the most important thing of all. He couldn’t leave this woman wallowing in this state, he had to open her eyes and make her see.

“April, I have just met you. Out of the blue I chose to walk into this café to sit at this table and to speak to you. Don’t you find it interesting that I would choose to come in today? I’ve walked by this café, a hundred times and never thought twice about coming in. But today of all days, I did. Maybe it was the rain that brought me in. Maybe you and I were meant to meet. Maybe in 50 years we will be telling our grandchildren about how I picked you up in a café.” Bill’s smile was quite lopsided at this point.

At first April was too stunned to respond. But somewhere deep inside her she did respond to this very strange, very attractive man. Somewhere deep inside her a smile was trying to burst through.

“Grandchildren? Now how do I know you’ve got the right stuff?”

Bill’s smile became even bigger. He knew he had made inroads.

“Is that a smile I see creeping up the side of your mouth? If it is, it is, I know it is, April you are smiling!”

April was almost smiling. Her hands were clutched around her coffee cup as if she was holding onto an anchor, trying desperately not to give in. She took a sip, and then looked up at her table companion.

“I know I tend to see the negative side of things, but we can never forget that the negative does exists.”

For the first time since he sat down at the table Bill stopped smiling.

“You are absolutely right April, we can never forget what horrible things are going on in this world. But it’s also very important that we never forget what an incredible world we actually have. There are good people here. Everywhere you turn. We should never turn a blind eye to what is bad in the world. In the same token, we must never turn a blind eye or be afraid to acknowledge that beautiful things exist. The simple act of the sun rising in the morning and its rays reflecting off the dew on a rose petal should make us give thanks.”

April looked at this strange man, this strange intruder, and she did smile. Maybe he was right. Maybe we need to be aware of the bad things in the world and focus on the good. It was raining today and it was cold. Maybe tomorrow the sun would shine. Maybe today was not the best of all days, but tomorrow might be. Maybe the showers did bring something good, something positive. There’s another song that April thought of at that moment. She didn’t remember the name of the song or who sang it. But there was one line: “. . . accentuate the positive.” That was a good thought.

Just at that moment, the rain stopped, and a ray of sunshine poked through the clouds. The sun and the rain work hand-in-hand. Just like we all should.

Two strangers met at a table in a café on a rainy April day, but parted as friends, smiling.

Smugglers’ Cove . . .Between

Because of some SERIOUS requests I have written another chapter for Smuggler’s Cove. If you insist on another one I may comply but I will kill them . . . horribly! hee hee hee

The surface of the river was still, almost glass like. Looking deep you could see the current running swiftly down stream. Hungry birds circled overhead, looking for a meal. A small fish leapt above the safety of the river narrowly missing becoming lunch. For a moment the world was quiet.

And then chaos. . . .

“John! Help! I can’t . . .” For only a few seconds a woman’s head broke the surface before she was dragged back down into the darkness. The unforgiving depths do not like to give back.

“Oh, my God! I’m coming! Please God don’t let her drown! Anna!”

Mere seconds behind the struggling woman was a man in a canoe. The terror on his face spoke volumes. More time went by as he searched for any sign of this woman that had enchanted his heart, his soul. He had to find her!

“Anna! Anna!” He shouted loudly.

“ Please God, save her.” He whispered to the universe. “Please!”

Two gentle souls had found each other in an out-of-way park and without meaning to, had fallen in love. John could not believe they would be separated so soon after finding each other. He felt the tears at the back of his eyes welling. His shoulders ached from the desperate paddling, his eyes searching for his heart.

“Please, plea . . . Anna!”

He spied her flowing red hair glistening in the morning light. The only movement was with the water’s drift trying to tug it free from a branch.

Another foot and he could see a shoulder. It was deathly pale.

“Please . . .”

When the canoe was within reach John jumped out next to the body of his beloved. Immediately he felt the water dragging at his clothes, determined to pull him down. The canoe, caught by another branch, floated nearby. John’s hands trembled, unsure, desperate to know.

“Anna…” He barely breathed . . .

As he turned her body over an eyelid flickered. She was alive!

With that almost imperceptible movement John reacted. His training took over his actions. He checked her pulse: strong. Breathing: shallow but steady. Pupils: reactive. Small contusion on forehead. She was safe to move. She needed to be warm and monitored. He needed to check for other possible injuries.

The next few minutes became a blur. John was able to disentangle Anna and get her to shore. It may only have been a few feet but it felt like miles. He made sure she was safe and returned for the canoe. Those supplies could make the difference between living and dying.

When John and Anna made the decision to run away they left behind their lives as well as their cell phones. They were on their own now.

It took a little time but John was able to make a fire, make Anna comfortable and put water on to boil. He cleaned her wounds. They were minor and should pose no future problems. Her breathing was stronger but still she slept. John agonized over whether to leave her to find help or to stay. A little tea should help. While he busied himself with the mundane tasks of finding the tea and cups he was able to calm down. They would survive this. She would survive this.

His head was down, diligently measuring tea leaves into a strainer when he heard a sound. He quickly looked to Anna, still she slumbered. He raised his eyes to the forest a few meters away. His heart stopped. There, just beside a very full tree was the largest wolf he had ever seen. John had seen hundreds in his years in the Parks Services but never one this close and this . . .alive. He was afraid to breath! And then it moved.

Wolves have a reputation as efficient killers, vicious animals that maul the unwary for fun. Nothing could be further from the truth. Wolves are intelligent pack animals who care deeply for their young and avoid people as much as possible. And yet here was a magnificent specimen silently staring at . . .Anna? Normally an adversary keeps his eyes on an opponent but that didn’t seem to be the case here. Why? Before John had finished his thought the wolf took a step forward and then another. Then it did the strangest thing: it sat. With it’s head cocked to one side and it’s tongue hanging out it look just like a family pet.

John sat back on his heals. The movement didn’t disturb the wolf at all. It’s gaze never left Anna. It didn’t seem to be aggressive, more . . . supportive? Was John dreaming? After what seemed to be hours the wolf slowly returned to the forest. At that moment the water started boiling furiously. John was reminded of his duties and returned to them.

The hours did pass. John tried to stay awake to tend to the fire and to worry about the wolf but the inevitable did happen. The stress, fear and fatigue took hold and John slept.

He was dreaming. He felt cool water on his face, he was drowning! With a yell he force his way up, clawing for the surface!

“John!”

With blinking eyes the man in question came awake. He was confused. He quickly looked to where Anna lay and she was gone!

“Anna?”

“I’m right here John, I’m fine. Look someone’s dog has come for a visit.”

Someone’s dog? John came awake in a hurry with that comment. He looked towards the sound of his beloved’s voice and saw her with a huge wolf gently accepting her ministrations. She was petting him and tugging at his ears and he seemed to like it!

“Anna, Anna . . that’s a wolf! A wild animal! You have to get away from him!”

Anna didn’t move except to give her newfound friend a hug.

“I had such awful dreams and then I felt this warmth embrace me. I felt such love. Then I felt a wet tongue on my face and it was Samson. He sat by me while you slept. I think he was keeping an eye on us both.

“You named a wild animal Samson?”

John started to laugh. It was so abrupt that both Anna and Samson were startled. Then they both joined in. Or, at least one did, the other gave the impression he was enjoying the process.

When the laughter died down the release was apparent. Then both John and Anna started to speak at the same time …

“I’m sorry!” “I’m sorry!”

“It was an accident. We’re both ok and we seemed to have gained a companion.”

Anna smiled at their new friend who promptly rolled on his back and presented his stomach for a rub.

John grinned at the two of them. A wild animal and a beautiful writer. What could be more incongruous and more appropriate? Perhaps Anna would write about a tame wolf named Samson in their new life. He would find an out-of-the-way park in which to work and Anna would write stories for children. All would be well. They had each other.

The end

Smuggler’s Cove . . . again

img_1090

Anita sat back, she was tired but she still smiled as she remembered. Today was an anniversary of sorts. Thirty one years ago today she was reborn.   She remembered the woman she had been, fondly. Actually, if she had not been the woman she was then, she would not be the woman she was today.

With a quiet chuckle Anita stood up and approached the bed where the object of her remembrances lay sleeping. She laid a gentle hand on his brow and he stirred for just a moment. But his breathing was deep, he would not wake for some time yet. So she sat back down and once again remembered.

*******************

‘John cupped her face in his hand, her beautiful face. She wore no make-up, she didn’t need any. There was no artifice to her. Everything she felt showed on her face. Right now it showed her dismay at alarming people and something else. John wondered what she was thinking, feeling. He took her elbow and helped her to stand.’

It was at that moment that the woman, who used to be known as Anna, knew her destiny. This man was her future. She once swore that she would never allow another man to get too close to her heart. But John had sneaked in under her radar. And she was glad. John too was having an epiphany. As he helped her to stand he could feel the weight of her heart in his hands. John knew that his future rested with this woman.

Anita sighed and shook her head. It had all happened so quickly. Without a word the two had gripped hands and decided to leave together. The woman who was Anna had never considered herself spontaneous. But here in the blink of an eye she was running away from a life that she had, with a man that she barely knew. But her heart was full and her conscience was clear. John too was leaving behind nothing that meant anything to him. He was not running away from life, he was running to it and taking with him all that had meaning.

*******************

All those years ago John had already been planning his escape. He loved the park, he really did, but he could never escape who he really was. Jonathan Edward Bellamy III was a curse, an albatross that John wore around his neck. So to that end John had been preparing for his escape for many months. Money had been secreted away, a temporary hideaway had been prepared, and all that was still needed was a push. Anna provided the final reason. So the two left the park quietly in a canoe that John kept in Smugglers Cove.

******************

Anita’s eyes flew open; she had heard a noise from the bed.

“John? John?” The concern in her voice was evident, but there was no response from the object of her concern. She felt his brow and it was cool, not fevered as it had been for several days. Anita was sure the danger had now passed. She wanted to weep as a release for her pent up fears. She had been so afraid she was going to lose him: this man she had loved for thirty-one years.

***************

“Woman, you are starting to annoy me!” The voice was gruff but the eyes still twinkled with love and with humour.

“The Doctor said you were to take it . . . “

“The Doctor can take his advice and . . .”

“John! Don’t you dare finish that sentence!”

On one side of the room was a slight, red haired lady with her hands firmly planted on her hips and a scowl on her face. On the other side of the room was a tall, pale man who was still recovering from a recent illness. The battle of wills was about to be waged and there was little doubt as to the victor.

“Okay, okay, you win! I promise to avoid marathons and mountain climbing for at least a month. Just remove the scowl from that beautiful face, please?”

“John. . .” Anita spoke lowly and crossed the room to put her arms around her patient. “I was so very afraid, I can’t lose you.”

John raised his arms and encircled his beloved. “You will never lose me.”

*************

Later that night Anita once again thought through all the years they had been together.

It hadn’t always been easy but the one thing they never lost sight of was each other. That first night in the canoe had been amusing. They were acting like high school students, running away. It was a bit tricky canoeing with a cane and she would not give up her laptop computer, but they managed. They only had to go a few miles by canoe and in some ways it was quite exciting. She never regretted what she had done. She did always wondered what everyone thought about the two of them. They slept for the first night in an old rundown cottage that someone had left unlocked. Or perhaps John was just good at breaking and entering, she didn’t ask. It had taken them almost a week of traveling to finally reach their hideaway. John had planned well. There was a vehicle, there was food, and there was a place to sleep. Of course he had only planned on one person on the run not two, but they made do.

Perhaps the first month was the most difficult. They had to discover each other and had to come to terms with the lives they had left behind. Anita felt that she had not left anything important behind but she thought John had. After all he came from a family with money and position, how you give that up? But John thought about it differently. He hated who he had been and by definition the people who had forced him to be that person. But he had prepared well. They chose new identities and set about planning their life together. But there was always one thing in the back in Anita’s mind: returning to Smugglers Cove.

The money John had saved only lasted a few months but both were prepared to work to support their new lives. Perhaps it was nostalgia, perhaps it was guilt but Anita chose to write children’s stories that were quite successful. John once again took a position in an out of the way park. They had what they needed in life and they had each other. It was a good life.

*******************

‘He saw clearly in the sand the imprint of a man’s feet and right beside them a smaller pair: a woman’s. He look out into darkness, they were here . . . again.’

 

Smuggler’s Cove

 

img_1090         Jonathan Edward Bellamy III. A name destined to sit in the Supreme Court after a spotless career as a criminal lawyer, or perhaps the head of a multi-national banking conglomerate with a profit margin in the tens of millions. Well perhaps Jonathan might have gone that route but not John. John was sitting in a ten year old truck wondering if his rent cheque was going to bounce, and that truck was sitting on a mountain pass that overlooked a pristine national park which that Supreme Court judge would kill to see. John figured he was the wealthier of the two.

Being born into a wealthy and prominent family brought with it a great many obligations that John had always balked at. People who knew he came from money were either anxious to be his new best friend or hated him for his presumed privileges. It had been hard trying to fit into that world. John didn’t like the phoney debutants or their mothers trying to make ‘good’ matches for them. He just didn’t belong to that world. He belonged here, where the air was fresh, the people were real and where one worried about rent cheques. When John walked away from the privileged life he also walked away from his wealth. That was fine with him. Money should be earned not inherited.

Today John was thinking about that rent cheque but he was also thinking about the tourists. Today was the first day of summer vacation and it had always been a trial in the park. High School kids brought booze, which was banned, and College kids brought drugs, which were worse. Parents brought small children and expected the Rangers and Park Attendants to be babysitters.   Couples brought their pets and were indignant when they were turned away. They didn’t seem to understand that this was a Wild Lands Park with wild animals, animals that might mistake ‘Spot’ for lunch. It had happened. Not often fortunately. It really was amazing just how dumb some people could be.

It was almost time. The Park opened at 10 am and it was almost that now. John turned his ignition on and started for the main gates.   It wasn’t all bad; there were a lot of good, decent people who genuinely wanted to learn about the bears, the deer, and the other inhabitants of the forest. They were the ones that made everything worthwhile.

As John approached the main gates he could see the people waiting patiently for the gates to open. Not everyone was waiting patiently of course: he could see a couple of cars of what appeared to be college students. We had better flag that group. Maybe they will turn out to be biology students with a real love for the forest and it’s inhabitants, and maybe not. John heaved a quiet sigh; it could be a long summer.

He watched the cars entering the park. Movement near the lodge caught his eye. Red. Specifically: red hair, long silky, red hair. It belonged to a single woman who had booked a month at the lodge that was adjacent to the park. She was quite a looker Miss Anna Wilson. Now there was an interesting story. Young, attractive, women did not spend a month at an out of the way park alone. She didn’t seem to be meeting anyone and she wandered the forest trails quite often. Always alone.   She used a cane and carried a laptop computer. Why? Jessica at the lodge said she was a very nice, quiet woman. She seemed sad some how. What was she running from? She had been here a week and John had spoken to her often, going out of his way to do so. She was intelligent, but not forthcoming about her past. Everyone was entitled to their privacy. Except John was curious.

* * * * * * * * *

It had been a very long week. There was the two year old who had burrowed underneath the showers rather successfully. That took a couple of hours and several staff members to bring to a satisfactory conclusion. Mom wanted to go home NOW. Then there was the diamond necklace that went missing. Why anyone would bring an expensive bauble to a park went beyond dumb. It was located in the husband’s jacket pocket. He was playing a trick on his wife. As for those college students, they really were here to study the local flora and fauna. Unfortunately they were also studying the effects of some of their own personal flora, which was definitely illegal. They agreed to leave quietly, without the illegal plants. Another one for the burn pile.

********************

John stood at the top of the trail and looked down. It was steep, an awkward climb even for him. There was no way a woman with a cane could manoeuvre down to the cove. It was one of John’s favourite spots. Here, alone, he could think without any interruptions from tourists. He scanned the small beach and started to turn away. Out of the corner of his eye he caught a shape that did not belong. It was a woman. A woman with red hair and she wasn’t moving. Her hair was splayed out behind her as if she had fallen backwards. John started to run. It took him a full minute to reach her but she didn’t move. He looked for signs of an injury and softly called her name once, twice, three times. She stirred, eyes sleepy. She stretched like a cat. John sat back on his heels and pulled out his cell phone.

“Central, this is John. The package has been located and verified. All is well. Out.”

Anna sat up, confused. “What are you doing here?”

“Looking for you.” John snapped. He was angry. This blasted woman had the unmitigated gall to make him fall in love with her, to disappear for a full day and then not even have the decency to be injured or, or, whatever. He had been worried sick and she was fine.

The object of his silent tirade was completely unaware of the effect she was having on him or the situation away from her little cove. For that is how she thought of this idyllic spot, as hers.

“John, did you know about this spot? It’s wonderful! It is quiet and serene. I have been able to write here so easily, it is almost as if . . . .John? What’s wrong?”

Anna had finally noticed the look on John’s face. The anger was apparent, and something more, concern?

“Anna you have been gone for almost 7 hours. Jessica is worried sick.   Rangers have been out looking for you ever since you failed to show up at the lodge for lunch. And how the hell did you get down here anyway?” As he spoke John’s voice grew in volume until he was almost shouting and his teeth were clenched.

Anna smiled. She tried to hide her grin but failed miserably. Of course this made John even angrier. She stopped listening to his lecture on the dangers of the Park and instead watched his face. It was a good face, clean-shaven with a slight nick under his jaw line. He was probably distracted this morning, thinking about the latest batch of tourists. He was always concerned that each individual reap the most from their stay at the campgrounds. He wanted everyone to love the park as he did, just as she had come to do. Anna had come to the park to escape her life. She didn’t want to end her life she just didn’t want to live it any more. Yes John had a good face, strong, his eyes were brown, a deep inviting brown. And his body, well…. Yes he was definitely nice to look at and his voice, well he could read a phone book out loud and still enthral a crowd. At least a crowd of one. Anna stopped smiling. Was she falling in love with this paragon of manhood? She could not allow that. That was a dangerous trail she would never venture down again.

John noticed the change in Anna’s face. Had he been too hard on her? Dammit he worried about her!

“Anna?”

“I. . . I’m sorry I worried you, I lost track of time.” Her eyes were downcast, her voice cracked slightly.

John cupped her face in his hand, her beautiful face. She wore no make-up, she didn’t need any. There was no artifice to her. Everything she felt showed on her face. Right now it showed her dismay at alarming people and something else. John wondered what she was thinking, feeling. He took her elbow and helped her to stand.

Anna looked up the path. “It wasn’t so hard coming down, really, just slow. But it was definitely worth the effort.”

John looked at this woman that he had come to care for. They were both lonely people looking to escape their lives. Perhaps they were both here on this spot for a reason.

*********************

Coach Adamson wondered if he was doing the right thing bringing these boys to this park for the weekend. They didn’t know what had happened here, on this spot, thirty-eight years ago. Actually no one really knew what happened. Two people were gone. What they had found all those years ago was an abandoned truck and a sweater that had belonged to a park visitor. His father’s little sister. Had two lonely people run away together or had an accident claimed their lives? Coach looked out at the river, now shrouded in darkness. He had been warned that the currents near the centre of the river could be deadly. Had they been thirty-eight years ago?

“Hey Coach, does that Ranger want us to put out the fire?”

The Coach turned back to the bonfire and his charges, “What Ranger?”

“The Ranger you were just talking to with that hot chick. Wow I guess there are perks to working in an out of the way Park like this! The boys laughed and turned back to their fire and their questionable jokes.

The Coach turned back to look at the water’s edge. He saw clearly in the sand the imprint of a man’s feet and right beside them a smaller pair: a woman’s. He look out into darkness, they were here . . . again.

TELL ME A TALE IN 120 WORDS

I thought I would try TELL ME A TALE IN 120 WORDS.  Without the prompt, the story is 120 words.  Hey!  Me being pithy!  Go figure.  Check it out: https://rantingalong.wordpress.com

tmat120

…the dinosaur bending down to eat me, mouth open, hot saliva dripping on my bed, teeth the size of my head reaching toward me.

 

 

I tried to scream, fear had closed my throat. My mouth stretched in horror. I could feel it’s breath like a furnace licking at my eyes. I was caught. Something had gripped me tight. I couldn’t get free. Help me, please! I don’t want to die! I tried to force air into my starving lungs. It hurt so much. The tears sliding out of my eyes dried almost immediately. I couldn’t even cry. No. No! I would fight! I will not submit! I dragged hot air into my lungs and with a burst of adrenalin I lunged forward! Freedom! I wrestled that pillow and the fearsome blankets that had held prisoner, to their defeat. I was free. I would sleep.

Dream Walker

black-bird

Have you ever awoken from a deep sleep with your lips pulsating as if from a lover’s kiss? Have you ever been alone in the middle of the night and yet awoken gasping and wet as if from an intimate embrace? Dreams. In the middle of the night our defences are at their weakest. We cannot protect ourselves from the dreams that enter our minds when we are asleep. The experts say that we dream constantly, that our minds are solving complex problems that we cannot contend with when conscious. That would explain many dreams but not all of them. Some people do not remember their dreams. Some awaken feeling as if something wonderful has happened but they have no recollection of what. Others awaken with the dream intact.

Dreams are not reality. Or are they? What if they are manifestations of a different reality? What if dreams are engineered by a person or persons with more powerful minds than the average dreamer? What if . . . . .

***************

Jeremy laid his head on the pillow. He sighed. It had been an exhausting day and he needed his sleep desperately. Preferably eight blissfully uninterrupted hours of unconsciousness. Then he could start this nonsense all over again. His eyes closed, his body relaxed.

There was a gentle breeze wafting through the glen. That seemed to keep the temperature comfortable although he couldn’t actually feel it. He knew it was there by watching the long grasses moving as if to a gentle love ballad. Jeremy didn’t know where he was. He did know that he was at peace here; the rest of the world was far away and unimportant. And then he saw her.

A tall slender figure slowly materialized out of the dense forest. They say that beauty is quantifiable, that there are certain effects that are the difference between beautiful and merely attractive. They say that our visual understanding is predicated on our past experiences and that our interpretation of what we see is primal. Jeremy had no words to speak or even to think of as she walked towards him. His body betrayed him; he leaned forward as if to embrace her and she stopped. Even the words she spoke touched his heart as if a gentle kiss brushed his lips. He waited. His breath came quicker as he watched her. He wanted her. He wanted to embrace her. He wanted to rest his head on her lap like a child and feel safe. He did feel safe. He felt as if this is where he was meant to be.

***************

Anna didn’t want to fall asleep, yet she felt the strong pull of her bed. She had been up too long, working too hard on too many projects. She needed the relief of nothingness, the mindless abandonment of sleep. She turned out the lights and rolled into a more comfortable position. Anna sighed.

The elevator doors opened quickly, she darted inside. She had to be in time, she had to catch him. With a slight jolt the elevator began it’s decent. Ninety floors, it would take too long, she had to stop him. Anna glanced at the floor indicator, it was moving as if in a free fall. Bullet Elevator. She remembered. It was the new Bullet Elevator that moved three times faster than the fastest elevator in use. She was going to make it. Before she had finished her next thought, the elevator doors opened on the ground floor and Anna began looking for him, the man she cared for. She knew he was headed for the parking lot and it was a bit of a walk. There were two routes he could take: underground via a shopping concourse or outside across a courtyard and a street. There was a turnstile ahead and a tall, slender woman taking tickets. Tickets! Anna didn’t have a ticket. She looked down at her hand and at the necessary ticket. The slender woman smiled as she accepted the ticket. Anna moved quickly, she would catch John and everything would be all right.

***************

Car fumes, she could smell car fumes. Madelaine tried to turn over. She was lying on her side and she was painfully aware of the very hard surface beneath her. What the hell was she doing in a parking garage? That’s where she was, an underground parking garage. Sue. She was here with Sue. They were practicing with the sword. Why? Sue had purchased a very old sword of some obscure parentage and she wanted to practice with it. Her apartment held too many breakables to risk swinging a potentially deadly weapon so the garage it was. Kidnapped! She remembered, Sue has been kidnapped! She had to reach a phone, call the police, but there was still one of the kidnappers in the garage. A woman, a tall, slender woman and she had a gun. Madelaine was the target, she had tried to protect Sue and now she was in trouble. She was hiding beneath a car, she was frightened, confused. There were footsteps coming towards her, they stopped. Madelaine held her breath.

5:00 am came much too early in the morning to suit Madelaine but it was what her job required. It hadn’t been a restful night. She had a nagging head ache behind her eyes and she was exhausted. Madeline sighed, someone had to be at the office first and she had been nominated. Oh well, it paid the bills.

***************

Do you ever awakened from a dream and wonder about the people you have just met? You swear you have never seen them before and yet they are familiar to you. Does the same person show up in many of your dreams, sort of a recurring figure and yet you don’t know them, or do you? Is it a tall slender woman with a warm smile or perhaps a solid, stocky man with a glint in his eye? Maybe both. What actually happens in our dreams? It is almost like entertainment. Entertainment for whom? Is it for our benefit or for someone else’s, someone with the ability to insert themselves into our minds and follow or perhaps control our dreams? Interesting thought. Oh and pleasant dreams. Maybe I’ll see you there.

 

 

 

Animal Tails

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Dog eats bird: Breaking News Ten Years Later

As a child I had a fascination with animals: all kinds of animals. At one time or another I had turtles, fish, birds, cats, and dogs. I always wanted white mice but my mother put her foot down over that one. Over the years I have had many birds along with the family dogs. One episode in particular happened while I was at school. I came home to find my mother at the door with a sad look on her face. My bird had died. My mother, being the kind soul that she was, buried the bird. I never thought to ask why I wasn’t invited to the funeral, or how the bird died. My mom wouldn’t lie to me or lead me astray, would she? Read on.

Ten years later my mother is regaling a friend with the story of this clever bird that would open its cage door and dive bomb our poodle. One day the bird attacked the family dog and, well, the dog grabbed the bird. The bird died. It gives a whole new understanding of the expression ‘dog’s breakfast’. The story continued. Evidently the feathers were so thick in the air you could have cut them with a machete. Ten years later and I burst into tears. Ten years. The poodle in question was sleeping on the floor at my feet. My mother didn’t want me to hate our dog so she told me the bird had just died. She didn’t actually lie; she just didn’t tell me the whole truth. The only reason I even knew the bird had died was because my mother couldn’t find another one to replace it. And she did try. Now I can appreciate why she would want to protect the child. Childhood is a fragile time. I understood death but not killing. Especially by someone I loved. And I did love that dog, killer that he was. Moms are so smart, I can’t remember the name of that bird but the dog was called Beau Brummel and I still miss him.

Beau Brummel

When we were growing up we used to take a drive almost every Sunday after Church. It was a great way to see what was beyond the boundaries of our home. On one such trip we stopped for lunch at a small diner in a town near Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Canada. After eating, my brother (11) and sister (9) wandered away and found a phone book. They returned to the table to inform my father that there was a dog kennel in town and that he had promised them a dog. That is how we ended up in a kennel looking at a litter of poodles frolicking on the floor at our feet. My father wanted a Shepard but the owner would not sell a Shepard to a family with small children because of possible biting problems with the breed. So we watched these poodle pups for a minute. In the midst of the ruckus was a slightly older puppy, 8 months old. No one wanted him because his front legs had been broken as a small pup and not set properly. As a result his front legs were not straight. He walked and ran just fine. His lineage may have been good but he wasn’t perfect, except to us. Beau lived to be 17 years old and he was a valuable thread that weaved through all our lives.

 

I hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse into my past  . . . .