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silky4015
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PostSubject: Short stories   Sat Nov 03, 2012 9:00 pm

Anyone done any writing of short stories? If so then place there here for to read and enjoy.

To start us off, here is one of mine.

John

THE EXPEDITION

“Captain.” Bellowed the general.
The captain, who was sitting at his desk, knocked over his chair as he jumped to his full height of two metres.
“Yes General Sir.”
“Ha, there you are. Assemble the men on the parade ground and stop hiding behind that candlestick, I can’t see you.”
“Yes sir, right away sir,”
Leaving the chair laying on the floor, the captain picked up his cap and swagger stick from his desk and marched out of the office.
After buttoning his immaculately ironed tunic over his large round belly, the General looked at his reflection in the full-length distorted mirror. His one metre sixty turned to one metre eighty. What a fine figure of a man he thought, as he turned to leave the office and headed for the parade ground.
The parade ground was the large open market square by the main city gate. The captain, having mustered the troops, now watched out of the corner of his eye for the general to appear. On seeing the general, he called the troops to attention. Placing the swagger stick under his left armpit, he grasped its large silver knob in his left hand and marched across the square. Halting three paces away from the general and called out. “The troops are ready for your inspection sir.” At the same time he gave the general a smart salute. Returning the salute the general inquired. “Inspection! What inspection?”
“Your inspection sir, you always inspect the troops when you call a parade.”
“Yes yes captain that would normally be right, but not today. Today is different. Today…we are going out of the city.”
“Out of the city! You can’t mean that,” exclaimed the captain;
his eyes wide open in astonishment. “Why? Only the farmers go out of the city, and they only farm by the city wall. If we go out there we could be eaten by an Eleroceros.”
“Rubbish captain rubbish, there’s no such thing as eleroceros, that’s something the mothers tell their children to stop them playing on the city walls. Anyway, not only are we going out of the city, but we are going to march to the world’s end, and look over the edge.”
“Look over the edge! The men won’t like that sir;
I think you should ask for volunteers.” squealed the captain in a high voice, as he turned white with fear.
“Your quite right captain. I’ll only take the ten most stout-hearted men there are.”
“Ten men? You can’t have ten men;
there are only nine men in the whole army.”
The general smiled, “Fantastically good, I’ll take those nine men and yourself to make up the numbers. It’s ever so good of you all to volunteer like that.”
“But General Sir...
“No buts,” snapped the general, cutting the captain short in mid sentence. “Let’s get started.”
At that moment, the mayor entered the square followed by more of the city residents.
“I say general, what’s this I hear? You’re deserting the city? Taking away the troops? Who’ll defend us if you go?”
“Defend you! Why the city has never been attacked since the day it was founded, so you don’t need defending, do you?”
“But general…”
“Tut tut your worship, you sound more like my captain every day. Anyway, it doesn’t matter what you say, the men and I, are going to the end of the world. Open the gates captain we must be away.”
The general, marching at the head of his troops, lead them through the city gates. They in turn were followed by the now curious city folk.
The baker, walking at the side of the mayor asked, “How far is it to the end of the world?”
Smelling the aroma of fresh baked bread on the baker’s apron, the mayor pointing forward with his finger saying, “See that tree over there, the one on its own, by its self, and no others with it? Well, from the city wall, all you can see beyond that tree is sky. So that must be the edge of the world.”
“Oh!” exclaimed the baker.
Just short of the trees, the troops started to slow down by taking shorter steps. Halting the troop, the general did a smart about-turn to address them.
“Come on now you men, there’s nothing to be afraid of. You there corporal, you’re not afraid are you?”
“Me sir, no sir, not I sir, I would follow you to the ends of the...” here his words faltered, “You know what I mean sir?”
“Good man, I knew I could depend on you. I’ll give you a medal when we get back.”
“A medal sir, for me, oh yes please Sir that would be fantastic.”
The rest of the troops remained quite;
shuffling about from one foot to another and none of them looking in the general’s direction.
“Well men, here is my plan. I will go forward to the tree and you lot can follow me later, okay?” getting no answer he continued, “Well then, here I go.”
The general marched the last few paces to the tree. Standing at its side he peered over the edge of the world. The troop and city dwellers, gasped in amazement at this brave deed. The general turned to face them, and with beckoning arms, he waved them forward. His gesturing was so wild that he lost his balance and fell backwards over the world’s end.
The soldiers looked at each other in stunned silence. The city women burst into tears and the mayor said, “I knew it, I knew it, - I knew he’d fall over the edge.”
The captain called for quiet and in the stillness that followed. A voice, faint, and far away, was heard to be calling.
“Can you hear me, helloooo, youeeee, can you hear me?”
The captain, now on his belly, crawled forward to look over the edge of the world. He couldn’t believe his eyes. What he saw before him, was a long slopping grassy incline that levelled out at the bottom, into a flat meadow. The meadow was covered in wild flowers and there was a small stream meandering through it. The general was attempting to ascend the grassy slope. He lost his footing and rolled back down again, turning head over heels until he came to a stop at the bottom. Picking himself up, he dusted off his uniform, feeling the gritty dirt beneath his hands. Looking back up the slope he saw the face of the captain peering down at him.
“Hello captain, come on down, roll over and over as I did. It’s wonderful;
marvellous, absolutely fantastic.”
The captain, now joined by everyone else, called down to the general
“No thank you sir, you come back up here, it’s safer.”
“I can’t, every time I try I roll back down again. It to steep for me to climb.”
“Then how are we going to get you back up again?”
The general thought for a moment then hit on a great idea. Shouting to the captain he said, “Order the men to remove their shirts, tie them together and I can use it like a rope.”
Removing their shirts, the troops tied all the arms together and the corporal handed the bungle of shirts to the captain. Keeping a firm hold of one end, he tossed the shirts down to the general. Tying the other end around his large waist, the general started his ascent.
The troops, now standing in line, began to pull on the shirts to assist the general in reaching the top.
“The strain’s to much,” called out the corporal, “the shirts are going to tear!”
“No they’re not,” shouted back the captain, “they’re just stretching a little, keep on pulling.”
Now back on top of the world. The general was having his hand shaken by the mayor.
“Well done general well done. I knew all along that you could do it, you’re such a brave fellow.”
The troops also congratulated the general on his great feat of bravery, by patting him on the back.
Happy and smiling, the general and the residents set off back to the city. The captain and the troops bring up the rear, their now elongated shirt sleeves, trailing in the dust.
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bigsavak
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PostSubject: Re: Short stories   Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:26 pm

Lovely story but I'm only a reader never been any good at writting anything.
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Chris
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PostSubject: Re: Short stories   Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:41 pm

We did have a short story / poetry competition earlier this year, with the winning entries to be published in a book and the proceeds of the book sales going to the Silistra Orphanage fund:
[url:22yioxjj]http:
//www.
ourbulgariaforum.
com/viewtopic.
php?f=101&
t=4704&
p=43270&
hilit=short+story#p43270[/url:22yioxjj]
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silky4015
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PostSubject: Re: Short stories   Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:45 pm

Chris wrote:
We did have a short story / poetry competition earlier this year, with the winning entries to be published in a book and the proceeds of the book sales going to the Silistra Orphanage fund:
[url:2v40c32n]http:
//www.
ourbulgariaforum.
com/viewtopic.
php?f=101&
t=4704&
p=43270&
hilit=short+story#p43270[/url:2v40c32n]


Hi Chris and thanks for pointing out about the stories and poems however, I’m sorry to say that it did not come to past. The reason being, I only received a few entries, but that doesn’t mean I’ve given up on the idea.

John
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Blink
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PostSubject: Re: Short stories   Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:20 pm

Very nice story and something to make you think a little, I wish I was able to write like this but it takes me all my time to write to my son back in the uk.
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chrisbriggs
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PostSubject: Re: Short stories   Sat Nov 10, 2012 5:52 am

Talking of short stories I have just finished my first book, and next week I am going to colour another one.....
Sorry couldnt resist that.. I am more of a reader than a writer and enjoyed silkys story.
Ray g
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Equinus
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PostSubject: Re: Short stories   Mon Nov 12, 2012 6:40 pm

I would not call myself a writer, as I was taught absolute basics at school, but this I have written for my mother.

The Pendent Returns
With only a slight glint of light coming through the partially opened curtains of the room the cupboard door creaked open and the treasure box was pulled from the upper shelf of the cupboard. Whilst teetering on a stool the boy felt around with one foot to try and find the safety of terra firma. He held tightly onto the box that he had just retrieved, afraid of dropping it and risking spilling its contents, but more importantly the risk of him being heard from those downstairs. Once feeling the warmth of the carpet between his toes he knew the he was safe and he loosened the tight grip on the box.

As he quietly walked across the room avoided the creaky floorboard beneath the carpet that risked him being heard he edged towards the door to check once again that the door was fully closed. Holding onto the round brown Bakelite door handle it slipped in his sweaty hand, but pulling at it his rapidly beating heart quickly slowed down as he now realised the door was securely closed.

Now calmer the boy knelt beside the large double bed of his parents and slowly placed the box onto the candlewick bedspread. Pausing briefly, listening for any footsteps on the stairs he then wiped his hands on his shirt to remove the sweat from his perspiring hands to enable him to open the clasp of the box easily. As he prised open the brass clasp of the box he mentally prepared himself for the next stage of the task which not only required dexterity but more importantly speed. As fast as he could he lifted the lid of the box to which the first few notes of Beethoven's Fur Elise echoed from beneath the box as the teeth of the metal comb were slowly plucked by the raised points of the barrel as it turned. Pushing the box deep into the candlewick bedspread it muffled the sound of the music to enable him to be momentarily entranced by the ballerina in the box to dance to the muffled sound. As she spun round in her discoloured tutu her legs sporadically flicked as she bobbed up and down on her ballerina shoes. She was duplicated in multiple mirrors encased in the lid of the box giving the impression of many ballerinas dancing in unison. The speed of her dance began to slow as did the muffled music indicating the music box needed to be re-wound. As the last few notes were played, the boy knew soon the final note would be played and then silence would once again pervade within the room. Finally the ballerina stood still with an enigmatic smile on her face and the boy was able to lift the box from the bed as it was now silent.
Excitedly the boy moved the box so that the shaft of light from the window could be refracted on the mirrors in the lid of the box to shed more light in the box itself. Moving the box this way and that way eventually he decided the best position for the box to be placed to obtain maximum illumination of the box and its contents. On each side of the area where the ballerina stood now still were sunken wells lined with faded pink velvet in which one of them contained the treasure that he was looking for. One of the wells contained a variety of rings and other items of jewellery, but he knew that the well on the left contained more items and hid what he was looking for. Slowly lifting an entanglement of gold and tarnished silver chains, some broken, some knotted he placed them one by one on the bed and then he gasped in awe as he caught the first glimpse of what he was looking for. Each time that he had carried out this same procedure of which he had done many times his reaction was always the same when first seeing it. As far as he was concerned its brilliance outshone anything that it shared within the confines of his mothers musical box. Gently the boy prised the treasure from the remaining chains in the box and as it was pulled from the box its full brilliance shone in his widened eyes. Holding the pendent in his hand he gazed at it, totally mesmerised by its beauty. Within the silver teardrop pendant was encased a blue butterfly wing. The iridescent azurite wing changed in its brilliance as he moved it in his hand with the intensity to the blue dancing in ever changing hues as it caught the light from the window. To try and increase the brilliance of the colour of the wing he constantly wiped the glass cover of the pendant that protected the wing on his shirt and readjusted the position of the pendant. Gazing at the intricate veining within the wing that traced its way across the glistening sea of blue on the wing he remained entranced by the natural beauty, but the spell was suddenly broken by the creaking sound from the stairs on the other side of the door. Quickly he replaced the pendant and all the other contents of the musical box that lay upon the bed and closed the lid of the box, placing the treasures and the ballerina in darkness once more. After replacing the box back in the cupboard the boy stood motionless with his ear to the door listening for any sound. Hearing only the muffled sound of the radio from living room downstairs he knew it was safe to leave the bedroom.
After the boy had grown up and left home, his parents house was burgled and the pendent along with other items from the musical box were stolen in the middle of the night. He was saddened by the news, not only had a precious item of his mothers been taken , but also part of the his childhood had been stolen as well.

Years later as a grey haired man's glasses began to clear as they had misted up due to him walking in from the cold into the tropical climate of the building, images of his childhood came flooding back. Although he had worked at the zoo for many years, this was the first time that he had entered the Butterfly House and with tears streaming down his face he grabbed onto the moss laden fence post to regain himself as he watched what he saw in front of him. He was entranced once again as he was when he was a little boy by the azurite blue wings of not a pendant, but a multitude of blue butterflies as they danced through the emerald green foliage of the glass house that they kept in. The tears were of joy as images of his youth had been re-ignited, but also for sadness for what his mother had lost, for no matter how many dancing butterflies there were her memories and what the pendant meant could not be recaptured for her.

Modern technology has its uses and as the thought of the lost pendant burned constantly in the thoughts of the grey haired man each time he went to the butterfly house he used it begin a search for his mother. Finally after many hours searching, there amongst many other offers was one lone vintage antique pendant of a similar design and shape as his mothers lost pendant , but this pendant was only available via an on-line auction.

He placed bids for the pendant, but each time he was outbid. and so he waited until the last moments of the auction. Sitting alone in the dark during the final hours of the internet auction and as the clock counted down for the final bid he with pounding heart placed the bid far above what was required desperate to procure the trophy for his mother. Shaking he clicked the return button on the computer keyboard with seconds left before bidding was closed. Waiting for those few seconds seemed to last forever with his heart beating so fast and uncontrollably the tension was too much, had he achieved his goal for the prize of all prizes to him and then the clock counted down six, five, four, three, two, one, zero and then as brilliantly as the butterfly wing pendant the screen on the computer lit up to say he had won the auction. The pendant was his.

Some say it is not possible to achieve mortality but as the grey-haired man later received his prize, on removing it from the package in moments its beauty once again mesmerised him and threw him back to his childhood. Afterwards placing it back into its final package he prepared it for its final journey to return back to the waiting ballerina in the musical box who has stood so silent for so many years. It may not be the original pendant, but the memories it carries are still the same as the original one, so who knows maybe the ballerina will smile to herself as the pendent returns back home.

Mr Eq

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silky4015
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PostSubject: Re: Short stories   Mon Nov 12, 2012 7:11 pm

Hi there Equinus,

As a writer this is what is known as the first draft. It has all the makes of a good story. What you need to do now is take out all the words that are not needed (these words are known as weasel words with the trade) and correct the few minor typos i.e. mothers should be mother’s

I have sent you a PM

John
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PostSubject: Re: Short stories   Thu Nov 22, 2012 9:14 am

Here’s another short story and this one is for the garden lovers among you.

John

GARDEN POLITICS

“Not only do we grow to be the tallest in the garden,” said the runner bean, “but we also have leaves that are a most attractive shade of green. Our pretty red and white flowers complement our foliage, and the crowning glory of our beauty lies in our long succulent bean pods.”
“You are all braggadocio,” announced the leading cabbage, as he stood at the top of one of many regimented rows, “where would you be without our protection? At least we don’t need canes to support us.”
“Quite right,” stated cauliflower. “Those beans are always trying to rise above their station.”
“Thank you white heart.” answered the cabbage, as he unruffled his leaves, “and furthermore, without those long canes to help support...”
“For climbing on.” interrupted the runner bean.
“For support.”
“For climbing on.”
“For support.” insisted cabbage. “If you didn’t have that scaffolding to cling to, you’d be like...like...”
“Us!” muttered the peas quietly.
“Yes, like the peas,” continued the cabbage. “All gangly and...and...”
“Sweet and pretty?” suggested the peas shyly.
“Quite right.” agreed the cabbage.
Over by the compost heap, the gourds were sobbing quietly. “We are so ugly,” they lamented, “Look at us, we grow to be so knobbly and misshapen.”
“Hey Inglese.” shouted the calabrese, his green beret sitting at a rakish angle. “Look at whata you do now. You no savvy?”
“Savoy, actually.” interjected the indignant cabbage.
Kale, who had been observing the whole proceedings from behind the beetroot, snorted in disgust.
“What! Did you say something curly?” enquired the cabbage in an authoritative voice.
“I think.” said an elegant sweetcorn, “that curly was expressing his complete disapproval of such senseless arguments. Why, everyone has their own elements of beauty within themselves, even the gourds are handsome in their own way.”
“We are?” chortled the elated gourds, who began to cheer up and comfort the tearful onions.
“Yes, you are,” continued sweetcorn with an almost ecclesiastical reverence. “I have to concede that the runner bean is also beautiful.”
“You all heard that,” called out the runner bean. “I told you that we are beautiful.”
“Be quiet!” commanded sweetcorn
“Humph.” said curly, in total agreement.
While cabbage almost turn red in anger.
Sweetcorn continued. “Cauliflower has a heart that is pure and white, therein lays its beauty. The cabbage has a hard heart...”
“Hold on there a minute...” interrupted the leading cabbage.
“Please let me finish,” said sweetcorn.
Cabbage mumbled angrily under his leaves, disturbing a slumbering potato.
“What’s all the commotion about?” inquired the potato, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
A cacophony of voices engulfed the garden.
“Please, please everyone.” said sweetcorn. “Sire, we were discussing the beauty of each individual plant.”
“Oh!” said the potato.
Sweetcorn continued. “Yes, even you sire, are beautiful.”
The potato remained silent, but appeared to be keeping an eye on the proceedings.
“You are the king of this garden and beautiful in your own right. If I may be so bold as to say so. Your flower though small, has a childlike beauty that transcends all of our ambitious displays. Its petite golden crown surrounded with small white petals is magnificent.”
King Edward approved and promptly resumed snoring.
“As I was saying,” continued sweetcorn in a hushed voice, so as not to disturb the King again. “The cabbage does have a hard heart, but his beauty lies in its courage. Where would we be without their staunch support which protects us from the cold north winds?”
The Cabbage appeared to be content with the explanation and settled down again.
“So you see,” continued Sweetcorn. “We all have beauty, hidden or otherwise. We are all equal within the garden.”
There was a general murmur of agreement, before everything settled down in the garden again.
“I’m still good looking.” muttered the Runner Bean.
No one answered.
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PostSubject: Re: Short stories   Sat Dec 08, 2012 2:37 pm

Fab! T John

When you and J came to visit us to bring us all those coloring books and pens for our shoeboxes in the summer you also left lots of your poetry books - Now a friend of my is very interested in poetry and he belongs to the British Bulgarian Society, would you mind if I send him a book as he may publish one or two in their Newsletter.

So Guys you remember John already published a book of poetry in 2011 and John donated all the proceeds to the Silistra Orphanage. He has been trying to put together another one but has not had the material to do so. So guys, can we help John to complete his second book of short stories. If you think you can than please submitted them here [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.].uk T

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PostSubject: Re: Short stories   Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:50 pm

Hi oddball, Jan always like visiting your place, as she doesn’t get out too much with her being semi invalided, plus we stop somewhere on the way back home and have a slap up meal. (She loves spending my money) g

As for my book ‘A Pocketful of Poetry’ by all means send a copy to your friend and he has my permission to publish any of them in his newsletter. If you require any more books let me know and I will send you some.

Can I obtain a copy of the newsletter and if so, how do I go about getting a copy?

John
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PostSubject: Re: Short stories   Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:16 pm

silky4015 wrote:


Can I obtain a copy of the newsletter and if so, how do I go about getting a copy?

John

I will send Frank a copy and advise him of your approval. You have to be a member of the society to obtain their Newsletter, but if any of your poems are published I will let you know. If you are on the facebook I will connect you with him. You will get along famously

John always a pleasure to see you both plus I get the opportunity to eat cake in the afternoon H

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PostSubject: Re: Short stories   Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:00 pm

Here’s my last story for this year. This one won me a £50 M&
S voucher. It had to be under 750 words and contain the words, ‘That’s another fine mess.’

John

THE SEARCH

“Now look what you’ve done! That’s another fine mess you’ve got me into Stanley.”
“I’m sorry Livingstone;
I didn’t mean to do it.”
“It’s all very well for you to say you’re sorry, but what about me? I came to Africa to find a perfect hiding place, and what do you do? Not only do you follow me, but you write a story about it, and sell it to the World’s Press. Now everyone knows where I am.”
“How was I to know you were trying to hide? The whole civilized world thought that you were lost, so I set out to find you.”
“Rubbish, Stanley, rubbish, you are a typical American Journalist. Me, me, me, that’s all you fellows ever think about. You set out to find a story, scribe it with your own interpretations, print it with your by-line, and hope to become famous from it. Possibly get yourself etched into the annals of history. Then you sit back and make a fortune from dinner talks.”
“Now hold on old chap, you may be the great David Livingstone and me just a lowly reporter called Henry Stanley, but it’s my job to get the news, and you my dear man, are just that. It’s you that went off into the jungle without telling anyone. People back home are worried about you, it’s not only me that’s looking for you. There must be at least fifty others out there still looking. But it was I that found you. Oh, and by the way, from whom or what are you hiding?
“I’m not telling you that. Anyway, that’s another story.”
“Another story, good, I’ll just jot down a few details.”
“Oh no you don’t! You’ve got me into enough trouble as it is.”
“I’ll tell you what David;
you don’t mind me calling you David, do you? It will take us at least a week to return to civilization. If you tell me your secret I promise not to print it.”
“You expect me to believe that?”
“Of course I do, I give you my word of honour.”
“Your word of honour.”
“Yes, that’s right, my word of honour, I will not print one single word of what you tell me.”
“Weeell, all right then. Now where should I begin? I know. Do you happen to know Miss Priscilla Rosebud Bloomington?”
“You mean the angel of the London debutantes, the one who is described in the New York Times as having long blond hair, green eyes and a wonderful figure?”
“Yes, that’s the one.”
“My God man, why should you be running away from someone like that?”
“I can see that you’ve never met her Henry. She may be a human form of Aphrodite, but her vocal power would put a tuba to shame. It’s akin to fingernails drawn over glass. It sets your whole nerves on edge. The blessed woman was following me all over London. I couldn’t get away from her, I’m sure she was after my body.”
“Tell me Livingstone, do you know who sparked off this search for your safe return?”
“Know, how would I know? I’ve not seen a newspaper for months.”
“Well I’ll tell you, it was Mrs. Priscilla Rosebud Blenkingsop. She’s a great admirer of your crusade to educate these poor souls out here. She was following you to give you a personal invitation to her wedding.”
“You mean she wasn’t after me?”
“That’s right old boy, not after your body, but only after your attendance at her wedding. So you see, five minutes with her, would have saved you six months of jungle fever.”
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PostSubject: Re: Short stories   Sat Dec 22, 2012 2:05 pm

Well done John! that is fab!!!! g

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PostSubject: Re: Short stories   Thu Jan 24, 2013 3:33 pm

RETRIBUTION

“Don’t die… Oh God, please don’t let her die.”
Tony felt a hand on his shoulder.
“It’s okay mate,” said a voice, “I’ve phoned the emergency services, they’ll be here soon.”
Tony didn’t even thank the man. He just sat cradling his injured wife while rocking to and fro.
He‘d left Joan in the clothing department of the Superstore. She’d given him a playful punch at his comment about small black and lacy.
They had completed their weekly grocery shopping and rather than suffer embarrassment in the women’s clothing section, he decided to take their two heavy shopping bags to the car.
The warm afternoon sun cast a long shadow in front of him, as he crossed the pedestrian precinct to the car park. On reaching his Volvo estate car, he placed the bags on the ground.
Rubbing his hands together created a tingling sensation as the circulation returned to the deep white grooves in his fingers that the heavy bags had made.
Removing the car keys from his trouser pocket he unlocked the rear door. The keys, still in the lock, jingled together as the door rose on its spring-loaded hinges. Again he felt the handles bite into his fingers as he picked up one of the bags and placed it in the vehicle.
Suddenly the roar of a car’s engine shattered the afternoon quietness as the driver floored the pedal making the wheels squeal as he made a quick getaway. This noise was soon followed by a dull thud.
Glancing over his shoulder, Tony saw a blue car speeding across the pedestrian precinct towards him. He caught a glimpse of the driver as the vehicle bounced over the small kerbstone that surrounding the car park. A flash of reflected light made him blink as the car sped off through the exit.
“Silly young fool.” muttered Tony, as he bent to retrieve the second bag of groceries. Standing up he half turned to look into the precinct. A crowd had gathered, some staring at the ground while others looked in his direction. An elderly lady was pointing to him.
Suddenly an uneasy feeling stirred within him. The hairs on his neck stood up. A sickly feeling knotted his stomach and a cold shiver ran through his body. It was the same emotions he’d felt on the streets of Northern Ireland when he thought that he was under observation. His military training once more took over his body. He began to recognise things that most people would not even notice. Everyone appeared to be standing still and looking in one direction. It then registered that he couldn’t see Jean anywhere. His stomach tightened
Throwing the second bag into the car, he ran towards the crowd.
The shopping bag hit the floor of the boot and fell over spilling its contents. A large glass bottle of Heinz tomato ketchup rolled out of the car to smash on the floor. Its red stain mirrored what he saw as he fought his way through the crowd of onlookers.
A number of the onlookers turned their heads at the sound of a siren. A police car, followed by an ambulance crossed the precinct.
Two officers clambered from the car as it stopped. One moved among the crowd asking for witnesses while the other pushed his way to Tony’s side. A paramedic followed him with his colleague in tow pulling a stretcher.
“Come on sir!” said the constable as he bent over Tony, “let the paramedic help the lady.”
Tony still clasped his wife to his chest.
The paramedic, kneeling on the other side of Joan, firmly but gently removed Tony’s arm from her shattered form.
“Please sir, let me have the lady, I can help!”
Reluctantly, Tony released her.
The constable helped him to his feet.
“Is this your wife sir?” inquired the officer.
“Yes… yes it is.”
“Then can I have your name and address?”
Tony’s mind drifted. Watching the paramedic at work reminded him of the medics during his time in Northern Ireland and the Falklands Conflict. Good lads he thought. Saved lots of lives they did.
The constable interrupted Tony’s reverie with a slight cough.
“Sorry officer, what did you say?”
“Can I have your name and address sir?”
“Yes of course,” said Tony apologetically. “It’s Ashby. Anthony Ashby.” He waited for the constable to finish writing, “My address is 26 Beech wood Drive.”
“And your wife’s name sir?”
“Joan,” he answered in a low voice.
“Thank you sir, that will do for now, I’ll take a full statement from you later.”
A description of Tony automatically passed through the constable’s mind, his keen eye for detail taking note: aged mid-fifties, nearly six feet tall with a good head of brown hair. A small scar sits above the left eye and the nose appeared to have been broken at some time. He has blue eyes and full lips. Smartly dressed, clean-shaven, and his stance gave off an air of authority, even in a crisis. Possibly ex-serviceman.
Joan, now covered with a red blanket, lay on the stretcher.
“We’re taking your wife to hospital sir,” said the paramedic, “do you wish to travel with us?”
“Yes,” answered Tony. Then as an afterthought, he turned to the constable, “My car, it’s still unlocked.”
“Give me the keys sir, I’ll lock it for you and return them to you later.”
Tony pointed into the car park, “It’s that Volvo estate over there, the one with the rear door open, the keys are in the lock.”
“Leave it with me sir. Now you get off to the hospital with your wife.”
Climbing into the back of the ambulance, Tony sat looking at the still unconscious Joan. The driver closed the rear doors and within seconds, the ambulance was moving forward with sirens blaring.

* * *

On arrival at the hospital the rear doors were flung open and a team of waiting nurses removed Joan from the vehicle. By the time Tony climbed out, she was on her way to the casualty department. He arrived as after a count of three, Joan was lifted onto a central table and a doctor shone a light into her eyes.
“Excuse me sir,” said a young nurse, “you’re only in the way here, why don’t you let me show you to the waiting room, the doctor will speak to you as soon as he can.”
Knowing the nurse to be right, he followed her to a small private waiting room.
“There’s a food and drinks machine down the corridor,” she said, pointing in their general direction. Then with a comforting smile she left.
Tony looked at his watch, sixteen – 0 – two.
Four easy chairs occupied the room, while a small table cluttered with old magazines sat centrally. The pastel coloured wall appeared to restrict Tony as he paced the room like a caged animal. He opened the door and gazed down the corridor: nothing.
Closing the door, he once more glanced at his watch sixteen – 0 – four, “What’s taking so long?” he sobbed.
His back was to the door when he heard it opened, turning he recognised the face of the constable.
“Your key’s sir, your car is locked and secure. How is your wife?”
“I don’t know the doctors are with her now.”
“Why don’t you sit down and try to relax sir? I need to take a statement from you.”
Tony sat staring at the floor with his elbows on his knees.
“Would you like a cup of tea?” asked the officer, who had been through this routine many times before.
“No thank you.”
“I think you should sir, it will help you think a little more clearly.”
“Okay, but coffee please.”
The constable called to his colleague who was standing by the door, “Three coffees Bill, one with extra sugar.”
Looking up Tony saw the other officer for the first time.
He gave Tony a nod before departing for the drinks machine.
Tony was finishing his statement when the officer returned with three plastic cups.
“I only got a glimpse of the driver, but I know I’d recognise him again.”
The waiting room door opened to reveal the doctor. His facial expression spoke volumes.
Tony’s mind went blank. From a distance he heard a voice saying, “I’m sorry Mr. Ashby, we did all we could.”
Tony heard no more, he saw the doctor’s lips moving, but the words didn’t register.
“Mr. Ashby… Mr. Ashby, are you all right?” inquired the doctor.
“What? Yes… I’ll be okay in a minute.”

* * *

Tony opened the bedroom curtains and was temporarily blinded by the Saturday morning sunlight. Later he would go down town to purchase flowers for Joan’s grave.
The last few weeks had been long and lonely. Even after extensive investigations, the police had not made an arrest.
The Napoleon mantel clock chimed ten-thirty as Tony closed and locked the front door.
The drive into town was uneventful. Parking the car, he stood waiting for another vehicle to reverse out of its space. The driver crossed his hands over the steering wheel and a flash of light shone into his eyes. It triggered an image that had been etched in his mind since that fatal day. He bent to look at the driver. The picture was complete, it was the same man! The light had reflected off his stainless steel wrist watch.
The car drove off with Tony running after it.
Sensing the futility of his actions he ran back to his car. Accelerating out of the car park, he saw the car further down the road. He followed it at a discrete distance and noted its registration.
Turning into a side street the car parked and the driver climbed out and entered a house. Driving past the house, he logged the house number in his memory with the vehicle registration.
At the end of the street he turned his car round and parked. He sat there for a long time cogitating on what he was going to do to this person who had taken the life of his wife.
Though seething with anger and a wish to rip out the man’s heart, he knew that Joan would not have wanted him to do anything stupid. Though she was gone, there were still the children and grandchildren to think of, so he decided to let the police deal with the matter.

* * *
At the police station he spent nearly an hour with the superintendent, who informed him that the man had been questioned and that he had witnesses who could prove that he was miles away at the time of the accident. Lacking hard evidence, it was Tony’s word against the man and his friends.
Tony left the station annoyed and frustrated, the superintendent’s last words still ringing in his ears. “Don’t take the law into your own hands.”
He felt that he had to bring this man to justice.
Once home, he sat down to work out a military type plan of revenge.
The clock chimed six-fifteen as a smile played across his lips. The plan for Operation Retribution was finalised. For it to be successful he would need assistance. Picking up the telephoned he called one of his old army buddies whom he’d kept in touch with over the years.
“Hi Fred, Tony here.”
“Hello Tony, long time since we heard from you, sorry we couldn’t make the funeral, how are you?”
“Fred I need your help.” He then explained what he wanted.
“No problem mate I’ll be there when you want me and I’ll get Albert and Dave to give us a hand it will be easier.”
“Thanks Fred, I give you more information later. Bye for now.”
“Bye Tony keep you chin up, see you later.”
For the next four weeks, Tony followed this quarry like a private detective, photographing him and noting his itinerary. He wasn’t working, therefore his days were never the same? However, at nineteen hundred hours on a Friday night, the man started his weekend drinking in the Rose and Crown.
Today was Friday the thirteenth, the day for Operation Retribution to commence. At eighteen thirty hours Tony and his three friends left the house. Each had been briefed on their task and each was armed with a mobile phone and a picture of the man.
Tony, Dave and Fred set off walking into town while Albert drove his car to the man’s house to keep him under surveillance.
In the town centre, Fred left the other two and made his way to the Red Lion while Tony and Dave continued to the Rose and Crown.
They were playing pool when Tony’s mobile rang.
“Hello?”
“Tony! Albert here, he’s on his way. I’ll follow in the car as planned. See you in the pub car park. Is that a Roger?”
“It’s a Roger Albert, over and out.”
Minutes later the man walked into the pub as Tony potted the black ball to win the game. Finishing his drink, Dave walked over and placed his empty glass on the bar. The man looked at Dave and their eyes met, Dave nodded, “Good evening.” Turning back to Tony he said “Thank for the game, I’ll see you later.” He then left the pub.
Tony inserted more money in the pool table. As he placed the balls on the table the young man called out.
“Fancy a game old-timer?”
“Okay, but I break.”
His new opponent swaggered across the room and responded with a grin, “Fine by me mate.”
Tony smashed the triangle of balls with more force than was necessary.
“Bloody hell mate! Are you trying to crack the balls in two?” asked the youth as he selected a cue from the rack.
When he bent over the table to take his shot, Tony scrutinised him more closely. His long greasy hair hung down to his shoulders, and his face was a little short of ugly. The forehead was too low, his eyes pig-like, the nose was too big and his lips…well there were none, just a gash of a mouth. Aloud, Tony said, “Sorry about that, I tend to get a little angry at times.”
The man played his shot and a ball rolled into a side pocket, “Why’s that then?” he enquired, as he moved around the table to take his next shot.
Tony gave a deep sigh. “Five months ago, someone in a car killed my wife on the precinct. They never found the driver responsible, but I’d like to find him, if only to let him know that one day he too is going to die.”
The man stopped playing;
he stood looking at Tony with eyes wide open and what lips he had, trembled. He dropped the pool cue on the table, “I’m not feeling very well, I have to go.” He then ran out of the pub, barging into a young couple that were entering.
Smiling, Tony whispered. “The seed is sown.” He bid the landlord goodnight and left.
Outside, he crossed the car park to Albert’s car, settling into the passenger seat his mobile rang.
“Tony! Fred here, he’s just arrived in the Red Lion.”
“Thanks Fred, I’ll send Dave over, keep an eye on him and follow if necessary. Roger?”
“Roger it is, over and out,” Just like old times thought Fred as he switches off his mobile.
Dave spoke into his phone. I’m at the top of the High Street as arranged. Good! Red Lion, okay, see you later, Roger over and out.”
Entering the Red Lion, Dave saw the man at the bar. Manoeuvring to his side he ordered a drink, then turning to face him. “Hello there, you didn’t stay long in the Rose and Crown, was it Tony? That man can be like a bear with a sore head at time, while at other times, I think he could kill just for the pleasure of it.”
Giving Dave a quick glance, the man fled from the pub.
Out on the street, Fred followed the man for a short distance before phoning Tony.
“He’s heading for the Hare and Hounds.”
“Good, Albert and I will drive round there now, I’ll be inside;
you wait in the car with Albert, see you later, over and out.”
With his back to the main door, Tony stood at the far end of the bar. The man, now pale and drawn, entered the pub and ordered a double brandy.
“Here you are Sam, one double bandy. It’s not like you to drink spirits, but then again you don’t look well, are you okay?”
“Not really Betty, there’s someone out to kill me, he’s threatened me once tonight, he told me I was going to die.”
Sam drank his brandy in one gulp and ordered another.
“Kill you?” queried Betty as she place his fresh drink in front of him.
“Yes, that’s right, kill me.” Sam grasped his glass so hard that his knuckles turned white.
Turning to face the man, Tony smiled and asked, “Fancy a game of pool mate?”
Sam dropped his glass, spilling the contents across the bar, “That’s him,” he screamed, pointing a finger at Tony. “He’s the one that wants to kill me! Call the police.”
“Don’t be daft son. I never said that I was going to kill you. You’re imagining things. Maybe it’s because it’s Friday the thirteenth. You know, the day of retribution.”
Others in the pub watched in amazement as once more Sam called out, “Get the police Betty get the police.” Then he broke down sobbing.

* * *

“Well Mister Ashby,” said the superintendent, “not only has he confessed to causing your wife’s death, he’s also confessed to several other crimes as well. So I think he’ll be going down for a long stretch. He still maintains that you followed him. Though the pub landlord’s state that you were in the pub when he arrived, so technically, he was following you. He’s also adamant that you threatened to kill him!”
“No superintendent, what I implied was that he one day he would die.”
“Isn’t that the same thing Mister Ashby?”
“No superintendent, not at all, we’re all born to die.”
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