Bike 251–300

Easy As

Falling Off A Bike

Parts 251–300

by Angharad

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Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 251

I ran over to my car, Stella’s bag was still down in the foot well. I felt my eyes tear up. They had taken her.

“What the hell is going on?” Tom was stood by my side.

“They’ve got Stella.”

“Who’s got Stella?”

“Those bastards, the Russian ones.”

“How do you know?”

“I recognised the one who tried to take me.”

“Is that who was lying on the pavement by the department?”

“Yes, he was one of the ones who tried to knock me off my bike.”

“How did he get knocked out?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“Cathy, did you knock him down?”

“Yes, he pulled a gun on me… Oh shit!” I began to run towards the entrance. The big Russian was on his feet, albeit unsteadily. He was waving the gun, and people were giving him a wide berth.

“Where have they taken Stella?” I screamed at him.

“You little bitch, you think you can get the better of Ivan, huh!” He aimed the gun at me and I stood there unafraid.

“Put it down or I’ll kill you!” I screamed at him.

“No girly, I kill you.”

I pushed Tom out of the way and stepped towards him he pointed the gun at me then after the sound of pot breaking, he crumpled and fell headlong onto the flagstones. Pippa stood behind him, the remains of a Swiss cheese plant in her hands.

“Oops!” she said.

Another member of staff kicked the gun away from the limp hand which had threatened me moments ago.

I dashed forwards to hug Pippa and thank her for saving my life. She was trembling and crying, so was I. Police sirens sounded in the car park. Part of me wished they’d stayed away longer so I could extract Stella’s whereabouts from our captive, assuming we hadn’t actually killed him.

For the next two hours, I drank tea, trembled and answered questions. It seemed there was some organised crime in which Russian mobs were involved, in the Portsmouth area.

It seems that having set me up with the phone call, they took Stella, maybe they were going to anyway, but they hit a car as they were leaving, which meant their vehicle was easier to get sightings of: they were dragging a front bumper.

Of course, they abandoned the car and set fire to it to destroy evidence. Another must have met them. According to the driver of the car they hit, thankfully a big old Ford, there were two men in the Land Cruiser, one of whom seemed to be fighting with a woman.

I was led to Tom’s office to give my statement. “Oh not you!” It was the detective constable I’d met over the poison pen letters. “What’s this I hear about you laying out some Ruskie thug?”

“He wanted to pinch my bum,” I joked.

“I wondered if he’d sent you a nasty letter.”

“Is he all right?”

“I don’t think we’ll charge you with assault.”

“He got up after I hit him, admittedly a few minutes later.”

“Your secretary decked him I hear.”

“Yep, caught him with her shorthand pad, old Ninja trick.”

“Cathy, please be serious. I believe a plant pot assisted her.”

“Yes, the guy was going to shoot me. He’d had one try when I hit him.”

“You hit him?”

“No, I kicked him, Stella had been teaching me some kickboxing, it worked.”

“You laid out one of these boys before, you caught a thief, rescued a kiddie from a burning car. You don’t have an ‘S’ on your vest and wear your panties over your tights, do you?”

“No. Just lucky, I suppose.”

“Lucky! You’re a one woman anti-crime wave.”

“So what do we do now?” I asked.

“Nothing until we tell you. They have your mobile number, they’ll be in touch, probably making threats to harm Lady Cameron, the other one.”

“I’m not one yet. I have to marry Simon first, then I get the title as part of the compensation package.”

She smiled at my joke, “Is life with the elite that bad, then?”

“Nah, they’re okay, a bit undomesticated but I lay the law down when I have to.”

My phone started to ring. I froze and my stomach did back flips. I looked at the number calling, it was Simon.

“What the hell is going on?” he demanded.

“I’m still talking to the police, can I call you back?”

“Yes, why didn’t you call me earlier?”

“Simon, I’m still talking to the police, as far as I know Tom or Pippa were going to call your dad and he was going to notify you. They obviously did.”

“No I found out while on my prayer mat, of course he told me, why couldn’t you?”

“Simon, I am still with the police, the bad guys have this phone number, so will you please get off the line.”

“There is no line, it’s a mobile.”

“Simon, piss off, I’ll see you later. I have to go.” I ended the call. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s okay, he’s obviously worried about his sister,” commented the young copper.

I read my statement when she got it typed up and I signed it as being an accurate account of what I believed happened. I was just about to go, when a superintendent entered the room, a man in his late thirties with a morose expression.

“Miss Watts, on no account are you to try and deal with these people by yourself. They are extremely dangerous. Last week they killed a Russian businessman in London, and two of his bodyguards. Don’t mess with them, I mean it.”

Oh bugger! All I have to protect me is Simon and I suspect I might have to protect him, he’d either go ape and get himself killed or injured or he’d go all wuss on me.

I felt a twinge of discomfort down below, I hoped my stitches had held and I certainly would not be dilating tonight. I consoled myself with the fact that if I hadn’t fought the bloke off, I might be dead by now, so protecting my surgical wound would be irrelevant. I prayed that Stella was okay.

“What do I do if they phone?” I asked the senior officer.

“Oh my people will take care of that, we’ll tell you what to say.”

“What do you mean, exactly?”

“Oh you’ll have a couple of my officers with you at all times. They’ll use one of these eavesdropping machines, with your consent of course.”

“I have a choice?”

“Of course Miss Watts, but I can’t answer for the consequences if you don’t heed our advice, and have to warn you that it’s an imprisonable offence to obstruct the police.”

“Thanks, I really needed to know that. I’m hardly going to put my sister’s life at risk am I?”

“I didn’t know you were related.”

“She is like a sister to me and I love her as one. I wouldn’t do anything to put her at risk, assuming she is still alive.”

“One has to assume so.”

“Has the one we captured told you anything?”

“He’s in hospital with a fractured skull, you hit him harder than you thought.”

“I think my secretary may be the one who doesn’t know her own strength.”

“Perhaps, we did have a witness to your response to the gun. They said it was something out of a Kung Fu film. You’re not a licensed martial arts practitioner, by any chance?”

“No, but he was trying to kill me.”

“I doubt there’ll be any charges for your assault.”

“Charges, he had a gun on me, it was self-defence.”

“Look, I don’t make the laws, I just enforce them where I can.”

“Have you ever had someone hold a loaded gun on you?”

“Yes, once, why?”

“What did you do?”

“I shot him dead, why?”

“I would have done too, maybe you could loan me a gun?”

“Fortunately no, unless you’ve had a specified amount of training, you shouldn’t be near a gun.”

“Tell that to the bad guys and I’ll do my bit to keep away from guns too.”

“Don’t try to acquire a shotgun or anything, we’ll turn you down.”

“Oh that’s all right, I’ll just use my rocket propelled grenade and Japanese sword.”

“I hope that is sarcasm not a statement of fact.”

“Of course it is. Can I go now?”

“Yes, my men are waiting for you at Professor Agnew’s house.”

As I left, I wondered how I could arm myself. I know statistically if you carry a gun you are more likely to be shot, or stabbed if you have a knife. I’d never fired a gun in my life, I hated the things. Tom had a shotgun, I hope the police didn’t know. Duh! Of course they knew, they gave him the permit.

I had fired a bow, a recurve and a compound. The latter could be useful—I had to ditch the cops to find somewhere to buy one. The Internet maybe, or would they be tapping that too. If I used Wi-Fi they would.

On the way out, I managed to get access to Tom’s office and used his ’puter to order a bow and a dozen arrows. A compound bow with forty-pound pull could put an arrow through chain mail. I was quite good with a bow once upon a time. As a Sagittarian, maybe it feels natural to use one. Or maybe that’s just guff. Given a chance, I’d have little compunction in shooting someone with a bow to protect myself or a loved one, including Spike.

As I drove home, still worried about Stella, I smiled at the thought that my package would be delivered tomorrow—that had cost quite a bit extra. What I could use for a more concealed weapon, I didn’t know, but I took home a night vision intensifier. If they came at night, I might just see them.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 252

by Bonzi ap Angharad

I drove home and sure enough, there were two strange men there wearing a police badge over otherwise ordinary clothes. One was in a hoodie and jeans, the other was wearing jacket and trousers.

I asked if they were armed—they didn’t actually answer me, saying they were there to help me deal with any phone calls. I wasn’t sure if I found it reassuring or not.

My phone bleeped to denote a text message.

‘We will kill the woman unless you release our friend. You have 24 hours.’

I realised they didn’t do text speak. I wondered if they understood it.

“What do we do now?” I asked the police.

“You need to play for time.”

“So they can kill her?”

“They won’t.”

“If they do, can I sue you for wrongful advice?”

“I don’t think so.”

“How about I tell them their man is very sick in hospital?”

“Okay, but let me see it before you send it.”

‘Your friend is very ill in hospital. Fractured skull. He can’t be moved.’ I wrote it in full, just in case.

With the police agreement, I sent it. We waited for some time before the reply came back.

‘Release him or she dies.’

“That is brief and to the point,” I said before wanting to go berserk, preferably with a group of Russian lowlifes. I wanted to write back and threaten them, but I knew it would only inflame things. I so wanted that bow in my hands and a thug stood in front of me.

One of the coppers came back from talking to the superintendent. “Tell them you’re doing all you can.”

So that was what I wrote: ‘Doing all I can, please be patient.’

Back came the response: ‘23 hours.’

“Why don’t you lot know where these people are?” I said aggressively to one of the coppers.

“Same reason you don’t.”

“I thought you had informants all over the place.”

“Not when it comes to the Russians.”

“Why?”

“Because they have a mean streak the size of the equator.”

“So we need to kill them all then?”

“You seem rather aggressive for a woman, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

“If they’d taken someone you love, wouldn’t you be a bit pissed?”

“Yes, but I’m not sure I’d necessarily want to kill them.”

“This is the third run-in I’ve had with them. If they were all dead there wouldn’t be a fourth.”

“Couldn’t they be saying the same to you?”

“They probably are, but we need to get it in first.”

“This is a civilised country not the Wild West.”

“If it was the Wild West, I could have got myself a gun and shot them.”

“You’d still have to find them.”

“Oh I’d find them all right, and kill them.”

“They might kill you.”

“Everything has risks.”

“Miss Watts, there is risk taking and there is recklessness bordering on stupidity. Please, we do have experience of dealing with hostage situations.”

“With the Russians?”

“No, not with Russians exactly.”

“Gee whizz, that really inspires me.”

“We’ll get them, don’t you worry.”

“So will I, so don’t you worry.”

I left the room, “Miss Watts,” was called after me. I ignored it.

“Cathy, please don’t do anything silly, you could prejudice our efforts and put Lady Cameron at extra risk.”

They were right of course but I was so angry all I wanted to do was bomb a gulag or something. How the hell was I going to stay sane while they had Stella? I couldn’t settle, I couldn’t sit nor lie. I certainly couldn’t sleep yet I felt exhausted. It was awful.

Henry phoned me, “Hello Cathy darling, this must be awful for you.”

“It is Henry, I am so worried and so angry. I feel like going to the hospital and killing that big ape.”

“You can’t.”

“I know, but I’d like to.”

“You can’t.”

“I know that, it would be criminal.”

“You can’t.”

I was fed up with this, I knew I couldn’t, I’d admitted as much. “Why can’t I?”

“He died about an hour ago.”

“What! Oh no! What are we going to do?”

“We have a plan.”

“I’m glad someone does.”

“This being dealt with at the highest level, please don’t do any Girl Guide stuff to mess it up, will you darling, no matter how angry you feel.”

“Are we going to get her back?”

“I hope so.”

“Poor Henry, this is your daughter we’re talking about. I’m sorry if I’ve sounded off a bit.”

“Yes it is my favourite girl, but I’m talking to my next favourite one.”

“Henry, you old sweet talker,” I gently chided him whilst blushing.

“Keep your pecker up…”

“I can’t Henry, it’s been removed, remember?”

He roared at my interruption. “You silly girl, and you are one now, congratulations.”

“Thank you, but please go back to talking to your Russian friends and find them.”

“How did you know about that?”

“Simon told me a long time ago. I had hoped it would keep the numbers down being preoccupied with each other.”

“So did we, however, we’ll find them and very soon.”

“Is Simon with you?”

“No he’s at Heathrow with MI5 officers, can’t say anymore.”

“Tell him to be careful.”

“I will when I see him.”

He rang off and I didn’t know if I felt any better or not. At least it seemed that someone was doing something about it and I hoped they were more advanced than Henry could tell me.

Surely someone in Russia must have communications with the lot over here, someone must know. Why can’t we find out from there and then go and get them.

Wish that it were so straightforward. I suppose if they stormed the building, assuming they’re in one, the thugs would kill Stella or she could get shot in the crossfire. Oh it was too bad, I wanted to do something but I couldn’t.

I changed into jeans and a sweater, with trainers on my feet. I hoped I was better dressed for action. My hair was tied back in a ponytail and that was clipped flat to my head. I was getting ready for a fight, just in case.

Tom eventually came home and we hugged. My phone kept receiving texts reminding me it was 22 hours, then 21 and so on. The police had a machine which intercepted the calls and texts and they took over replying to them.

I was to be available in case they actually phoned to speak to me. I wondered why they couldn’t use a woman copper instead, but they said it was in case they put Stella on the line, she’d notice a difference and then things could go wrong.

That night, I tossed and turned. I lay on the bed fully clothed in case they needed me. I was up at six, having slept maybe two hours. I felt awful but my adrenalin was keeping me going.

At eight thirty, my parcel arrived. I told them it was scientific equipment and took it up to my bedroom to assemble. It felt good and the pull was about right for me.

I went out to Tom’s garden and squeezed through the hedge, then sneaked up to the nearby woodland, where I practiced for an hour. I hadn’t lost any of my previous skill. We had an archery club not far from us in Bristol, I used to target shoot quite regularly and with a compound bow did very well. I could certainly hit something man sized from about 50 yards.

They were target arrows, the only sort you can get in the UK unless you make your own heads. I wondered about modifying them but decided against it in the end. If I hit someone with one of these, it would take them down and maybe even kill them. Silent and deadly.

I recall learning that in the Napoleonic Wars, the object was to cause your opponent to flee the field not kill him. So they used cannon which made lots of noise and created havoc, plus muskets which did the same. Apparently, if they wanted to kill each other, they’d have used longbows. During the frequent Anglo-French wars, the English longbowmen could release an arrow every six seconds and fire it 300 feet or more. It was a rain of death. Hence, at Agincourt they destroyed the flower of the French aristocracy in a few hours.

Did I want to rain death upon my enemies? Part of me wanted to, I knew it was pathetic but that was how I felt. I just wanted to get Stella back safe and well and neutralise the threat so it couldn’t happen again. If that meant killing people, I would consider doing it, in theory anyway.

This dilemma was gnawing away at me, I was a liberal humanitarian at heart, I didn’t want to give way to baser human emotions. I liked to think that things are resolved by talking, by politics not warfare, yet here I was preparing possibly to kill someone. Someone had died already, how, I don’t know. Could I have killed him with one of the kicks, or did Pippa, or was it something else? Hell, I could be a killer. I just made it to the loo when my stomach evacuated its contents upwards and very rapidly. I had to admit to myself, I didn’t really have the stomach to kill.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 253

Exhausted and feeling quite ill, I lay on my bed. I needed to know what had happened to the thug who had died in hospital. Had I actually taken a human life, me the brave soul who feels upset at running over beetles in the road? I was really upset with myself.

I went to talk to Tom. He was busy in his study. I knocked and entered.

“You look like shit, go and rest.”

“I can’t, I’m too worried.”

“Can’t you lie down and worry?”

“Not at the moment, no.”

“You want to talk?”

“Is it that obvious?”

He cleared his case off the chair, “Have a seat. Now apart from Stella having been kidnapped, what’s the problem?”

“That bloke they took into hospital…”

“What about him?”

“He died.”

“Oh. How do you know?”

“Henry told me.”

“Is there anything that bloke doesn’t have a finger in?”

“I wouldn’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me.”

“So why are you telling me?”

“What if I killed him?”

“You don’t know that.”

“But what if I did?”

Tom sat silently in thought. “The easy thing would be to say he asked for it…”

“But I have maybe killed someone.”

“You don’t know that, and I hadn’t finished…”

“Sorry,” I blushed and felt my eyes filling with tears.

“As I said before, it would be easy to say he had brought it upon himself. It would also be easy to point out that you might be dead yourself if you hadn’t fought back, as Stella could be.”

“Oh, Tom, I can’t bear it. Nothing is worth the taking of life.”

“I agree, Cathy, but I’m afraid there are many who don’t. This lot are unfortunately amongst the latter group.”

“But that doesn’t give us licence to kill them.”

“Not without cause, no, and that has to be legitimate cause, not just greed or power.”

“Why did I have to kick him so hard?”

“Aren’t you prejudging the issue here, we don’t know how he died yet. To start with, Pippa bashed him after you did, so it could be her blow which hastened his demise. He may have died from any number of things including Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus—especially in a British hospital.”

“That’s not fair Tom, the hospitals are getting it under control. I mean, I survived two weeks there.”

“Yeah okay, but he didn’t.”

“And I suspect I killed him.”

“You’ll have to wait for the PM on that and the coroner’s court. You may never know what killed him or if your action hastened it.”

“I just know it.”

“So why did you want to talk to me if you knew it already. Or do you just want to get all maudlin, because I have work to do? If you don’t want to rest, I have some you could do too.”

I felt that Tom had rebuffed me. I thanked him and apologised for wasting his time. I made the police some tea, took a cup to Tom and went out into the conservatory with my own. Kiki made a fuss of me even if I was a homicidal maniac.

I got the ironing board out and ironed the laundry; it was something to do which kept my hands busy without taxing my brain too much.

“Thanks for the tea,” said one of the coppers bringing the cups back.

“You’re welcome.” He was about to leave when I stalled him, “When will they know what the Russian died from?”

“What Russian?”

“The one I helped arrest.”

“I didn’t know he was dead, how do you know?”

“I can’t tell you, sorry.”

“In which case I can’t help you as I don’t know myself.” He left the kitchen and I was back to my thoughts.

Over and over again, I heard the dead man telling me he’d like to rape me then kill me. I also heard my bravado in replying to him, then I saw myself jump and double kick him and he fell. I also heard the shot, then the smashing noise as Pippa broke the pot over his head and him crashing to the ground.

Maybe I should have gone with him, perhaps they’d have left Stella alone, but probably not. If they were wanting to frighten or intimidate Henry, they’d have to do a lot more. His ancestors fought at Waterloo—the battle not the station—in the Coldstream Guards. He’d done service in the same regiment for two or three years. Simon was the first to skip the militaristic involvement. He was also the first to be engaged to a transsexual woman.

I eventually ran out of ironing and went to see how much time we had left on the deadline for Stella.

“About an hour and a half,” said the younger of the two coppers.

“Oh no, we must try and save Stella.”

“Don’t you think everything that is possible is being done?”

“Let me text them, offer to take her place.”

“Why, so they can kill two of you instead of one?”

“It’s worth a try, you could always follow me.”

“What if they decided to shoot you from a distance?”

“Oh!”

“Please try and be brave Miss Watts. Rest assured that we are doing all we can.”

Just then, one of their phones rang and the one in the hoodie said, “I’ve gotta go.” He rose and ran off, the tyres of his car squealing as he accelerated.

“What’s he up to?”

“I have no idea.”

“Is he firearms trained?” I asked.

“Kevin? Yeah I think so, why?”

“Are you?”

“Trained but not armed.”

“Something’s up isn’t it?”

“Search me?”

I didn’t take him up on his offer.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 254

There were no more text messages from the bad guys: that was worse than receiving them. Now it was just silence and my imagination. It was a torment. I was either beating myself up for killing that bloke or worrying if they had hurt Stella. The latter made me angry then very sad. It was all my fault, everything was my fault! I was sure that original sin was probably my doing as well.

I’d never forgive myself if anything happened to Stella, why had they taken her? Mind you why did they want me—it couldn’t have been because of my blog on the BBC website about Astana cheating in the Tour de France, could it?

I made some more tea—it was something to do. Tom had fallen asleep in his study and it smelled a little of him. I suspect he’d been up all night. He was snoring to himself so I left him in peace.

I had no more ironing to do, and running the vacuum cleaner would have woken up Tom. It was now more than twenty-four hours since Stella had been taken, what was happening?

I sat and tried to talk to the cop who was manning the phone.

“Anything?”

“Not since you last asked.”

“What’s happening?”

“I don’t know.”

“Don’t they tell you anything?”

“They tell me lots.”

“Oh, about what?” I felt my spirits rise.

“How not to ask questions about delicate jobs in progress.”

“Ouch! I only ask because I’m worried about Stella.”

“We are all worried about Lady Cameron.”

“Yeah but you don’t know her like I do.” I wanted to hurt him back.

“That’s very true, however, I don’t have to know someone to feel for them. I know that she is probably very frightened, these are not nice people.”

“She is mentally quite tough.”

“I hope so.”

“Where did your mate go? I mean it’s not like they’re short of someone for school crossing patrol, is it?” I felt irritated by being kept in the dark.

“You never know these days,” he replied.

I looked out the window. A police car went flashing past, the blue emergency lights blinking as it passed. A moment later came another, then another.

“Hey, there’s something going on in Portsmouth, three blue lights have gone past.”

“Is there?” he asked casually.

“Hey, that’s not to do with Stella is it?”

“I have no idea.”

“Can’t you switch your radio thing on?”

“No, what if the kidnappers call?”

“Switch it off before we answer.”

“Sorry, no can do.”

“There’s another one!”

“Another what?”

“Police car with lights flashing.”

“So, perhaps there’s been a motorway accident.”

“Or perhaps it’s something to do with this business. I’m sick of waiting, I’m going to find out.”

“How do you propose to do that?”

“I’ll sit and wait for the next police car to come past and follow it.”

“I don’t think so,” he said.

“I beg your pardon?” I asked in disbelief.

“You aren’t going anywhere.”

“Says who?”

“My super, if you want to know.”

“What, that’s unlawful detention,” I protested.

“No, if you leave this house, I shall arrest you for obstructing a police investigation.”

“You are joking?”

“I am deadly serious.”

“So why didn’t you detain your mate then?”

“He was called out.”

“So was I, didn’t I tell you, I have to go.”

“Miss Watts, if you cross that threshold I shall arrest you and have you taken to the lockup.”

“But they need me there.”

“Where?”

“At the university.”

“Oh that’s somewhere different, what about Lady Cameron?”

“She isn’t at the university anymore.”

“Please don’t play games with me. I can arrest you and I can get you charged with obstructing the police. Please don’t make me do it.”

“I am going to report you for this.” I felt really snotty.

“That’s your privilege.”

“And I intend to use it.”

“As I said, that is your right.”

“Can I go to my room?”

“Please stay where I can see you.”

“Why can’t I go to my room?”

“Because I can’t see you there and you may try to escape.”

“This is ridiculous, I can’t even go to lie down in my own room?”

“I’m afraid not, because I don’t trust you.”

I stomped about sighing heavily and pouting like a teenager, then threw myself down in an easy chair. The copper just sat and glared at me.

“Can I at least get my computer?”

“Where is it?”

“In my bedroom.”

“Sorry. I’d prefer it if you stayed here.”

“What if they need me?”

“If that was the case, they’d have sent for you. But as we don’t know what was happening, it might be another motorway pile up or even a fire somewhere.”

“Where are the fire engines then?”

“I was suggesting alternative scenarios.”

“Oh yeah, some mad Mullah has crashed his Cessna into the Spinnaker Tower, bringing down the American Government.”

“My daughter grew out of this stage about the age of sixteen. You obviously didn’t.”

“What are you implying?” I pouted even more and sat with my arms folded across my chest.

“The spoilt brat bit, you poor little rich kids are all the same if you can’t get your own way.”

“How do you know my father is wealthy?”

“He must be if you’re marrying into the Camerons.”

“Must he, so you think I went to public school and had all the privileges associated with it?”

“Didn’t you?”

“My dad was a quantity surveyor until he had his stroke. I went to a state school in Bristol. Satisfied?”

“So, you struck lucky.”

“How dare you? I happen to love Simon, he wanted to marry me.”

“Don’t you want to marry him then, become Lady Cameron?”

“I’m not sure of anything anymore, except I want Stella to walk through that door and be safe and unharmed.”

“What do you do at the university?”

“I teach a bit and run research projects.”

“Does it pay well?”

“Not as well as the police.”

“So why don’t you join the police then?”

“I’m a biologist, I prefer dormice to rats.”

“You’re into dormice, so you know that woman on the YouTube clip with the dormouse jumping down her blouse.”

I blushed profusely.

He looked at me and held his head askew, “That’s you on the clip isn’t it?”

“How much longer are you going to detain me?”

“Wow, a YouTube celebrity! Can I have your autograph?” He laughed.

“Piss off!” I said and stormed out of the room.

Easy As Falling Off Asleep Part 255

by Bonzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzi

I went up to my room. If that dopey copper arrested me, fine. I’d plead guilty, but tell the court what happened. Court, yeah, should I get some practice in for when they charge me with killing someone.

I lay on my bed and drifted off to sleep, I awoke with a head like a bucket to Tom calling me. I jumped off the bed in the darkness and nearly fell over. A moment later, my blood pressure had stabilised and I ran downstairs.

I couldn’t believe my eyes, there with Simon was Stella, behind them was Henry. I squealed with delight, and hugged everyone. I couldn’t believe it, she was safe. It was so wonderful, I felt so happy.

I needed to wee and opened my eyes, it was dark and I was lying on my bed. A car drove past the house. It had been a lovely dream. It was after midnight—I’d slept for several hours and felt a bit better for it.

I used the toilet and went downstairs—the copper was still there. He was dozing in the chair. Tom must have been in bed because he wasn’t in his study.

I went to the kitchen and made some tea and popped some bread in the toaster. I thought about the sleeping policemen and sniggered, that was one I wouldn’t mind driving my car over. I told myself off for such nasty thoughts, then sniggered some more.

I buttered the first lot of toast while the second was browning, I poured two cups of tea and took our slumbering sentinel some tea and toast.

“Here,” I said quite loudly, putting the tray on the table.

“Uh, what!” He rubbed his eyes, “Oh thanks,” he looked at the toast and then at me. “I didn’t think we were on speaking terms.”

“You didn’t arrest me when I went upstairs.”

“I can’t tell you why I was instructed to keep you here.”

I heard the toaster ping. I went off and after buttering my toast brought it back to the dining room.

“To stop me interfering in the rescue attempt.”

“I’m not allowed to comment.”

“So have they got her yet, and is she safe?”

“I don’t know.”

“You are armed though, aren’t you?”

“How did you know?”

“There’s a bulge in your jacket and you haven’t taken it off, even though it’s warm in here.”

“Miss Clever Clogs.”

“So are you my protection?”

“Partly, there’s two more outside.”

“Armed?”

“Use your loaf for more than making toast.”

“Want me to make them a cuppa?”

“No, you’re not supposed to know about them.”

“Okay. So you three are between the mob and me?”

“Essentially, yes.”

“If you’d told me, it would have made life easier.”

“It could also have spooked you.”

“I think I killed one of them, do I sound like someone who spooks easily?”

“Probably not, you stayed pretty calm when the dormouse… erm.”

“Well then, so tell me what you know.”

“I can’t Miss Watts, I really don’t know much more than you do.”

“So how will you know if the mob gets your two buddies?”

“We have a way of warning each other.”

“So we don’t know if Stella is safe or not?”

“Afraid not.”

“But all those cars, that was a rescue attempt?”

“Probably.”

“Do you think the mob will come to get me because I killed one of theirs?”

“You haven’t killed anyone.”

“How do you know? You weren’t there.”

“He was killed being taken to hospital. They killed him themselves.”

“What, they killed their own man?”

“Yes.”

“So you lot followed them back to their lair to rescue my sister.”

“No, because they didn’t go back. The assassin was shot by a police marksman.”

“So that’s two you wasted. I could have made the first one talk.”

“What, by torture?”

“If necessary.”

“Doesn’t that make you as bad as them?”

“If it works, don’t knock it.”

“Do you know why I joined the police?”

“No, but I’m sure you’re going to tell me.”

“If you’re going to be so facile, I don’t think I’ll bother.”

“No I won’t, do tell me.”

He looked through me, then nodded. “I was an idealistic student like you, got a two one in geography. Thought about teaching but felt I should try to do something more to reward the community which had paid for me to follow my heart’s desire. I loved geography, maybe I should have taught?”

“It’s not too late.”

“It is girl, I have a sergeant’s pay and pension coming to me when I get through my twenty years. Just five more to go.”

“Are you going to stay in the police?”

“Don’t know, I’ll talk it over with the wife and kids and see how we all feel.”

“What was that?” I froze.

“I didn’t hear anything.”

“I’m sure I heard something outside, I’ll go and look.”

“No you won’t, go up stairs and wake the professor, just in case.”

I picked up the phone, it was dead. I grabbed my mobile, it didn’t work either.

“It’s them. Go upstairs and wake the prof now, go and lock your doors.”

I ran with trembling legs up the stairs and practically dragged Tom out of his bed. He grabbed his clothes and followed me into my room. While he dressed I put together my bow. He went to speak and I hushed him. I pulled on the night vision goggles. “Hide as best you can,” I told him and switched off all the lights on the stairs.

I got to the bottom of the stairs in time to see someone holding a gun to the copper’s head. Without thinking I released an arrow which from less than twenty feet hit him like a hammer between the shoulder blades. He turned around screaming and my second arrow hit him in the stomach.

The copper turned and snatched his gun, “Get down,” I hissed. He dropped like a stone.

“Cathy?” he hissed back.

“Shut up!” I hissed back.

I crept to the kitchen; the door was ajar, with the key still in it. I shut it quietly and locked it, taking the key with me. Any who were in the house now had to get past us.

I tried not to think about what I had just done, except I knew he would have killed the policeman who had a wife and family, and who was doing his legitimate job.

I checked out the rest of the ground floor, no one else was there, but the mobile phones were still being blocked.

“What about your mates?”

“It doesn’t look good if one of them got in the house. What have you got on?”

“Night sights.”

“Can I borrow them to go out and see?”

“No way, you don’t know the area, I do.”

“You’re not going out there, you can’t fight gangsters with a bow and bloody arrows.”

“I had more success than you did with a gun.”

“Touché!”

“Go and get Tom, he’s up in my room, he’s got a shotgun and he can use it.” The copper did as I suggested and two minutes later he was back with Tom. While Tom checked out his shotgun and loaded it, the copper tied up the injured mobster, who was bleeding heavily. I suspect I caught his spleen or liver. I packed it as hard as I could but we needed an ambulance.

Tom ran upstairs and opening a window, fired twice. Maybe someone will call the police, I thought, maybe they’ll just think it’s poachers and do nothing. It also told the bad guys we had a shotgun.

Just then, there was a rat-a-tat-tat against the back door. An automatic blasted away the lock and half the door. Tom lay inside the dining room covering the door from the kitchen, the copper stood just behind him to cover him as he reloaded his shotgun.

I went back upstairs and while they were busy downstairs I sneaked out onto the veranda in the shadow of the house. There was no one at the back door, a feint or were they keeping their options open.

I saw movement—someone in the bushes was watching the door, he had some sort of automatic weapon, so he certainly wasn’t the police. I decided he was my next target. I would only get one go at this and if I failed I was dead. I may be dead anyway if they got their way.

I fired. The arrow took milliseconds but he looked up as it hit his face, he screamed and fired wildly then dropped backwards. I was lucky he hadn’t fired at me.

I saw more movement and dropped behind the wall of the veranda. I loaded the bow again. Someone said something softly in Russian and I heard quiet footsteps, presumably as one of them checked out his colleague.

Peeking over the balcony, I saw a shadow moving towards the other man. I loaded my bow and waited. Just then there was firing at the front of the house the man stepped into the clear and I hit him in the neck or shoulder.

I heard Tom’s shotgun boom twice and glass shatter. I went back into the house to cover the stairs.

Police sirens sounded in the distance, and I began to hope we would be okay. A helicopter soon sounded overhead. The loud hailer was calling for someone to give themselves up. A shot was fired at the helicopter and it backed off. More sirens, more shooting.

An hour later, the police were in the house and amazingly Tom and the sergeant were still alive, so was my first target although he looked critical from blood loss. They didn’t find the one I hit in the neck or shoulder, so presumably it was his shoulder. The one I hit in the head was also still alive, but was again critical. Two ambulances carried off the injured.

Tom collected Kiki, who was hiding under the table in the conservatory. He packed himself a suitcase and I did one for myself, one for Stella and one for Simon. Then collecting my laptop and some bits and pieces, we drove off in convoy with police cars flanking us to the main police headquarters.

My bow and the eight arrows were at the bottom of my luggage. I was taking no chances. At the police HQ, we were led for a debriefing. I told them what happened as I experienced it and declared my part in it.

“Where’s the bow?”

“Safe.”

“Please surrender it.”

“I will when you can guarantee to protect me and arrest all these scumbags.”

“You may be charged with attempted murder with a deadly weapon.”

“I may counter claim incompetence. I saved one of your officers, I don’t know what happened to the other two who were supposed to be guarding us.”

“Wait here,” said the snotty young man.

I sat kicking my heels when a familiar voice said, “Hi Cathy.”

Easy As Falling Off A Log Part 256

(Isn’t that a quarter of a Gigastory?)

by Bonzi Cat & ’is Mum

I spun around in my seat, “Simon, what are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same,” he said.

“Doing a re-enactment of the Alamo. The police didn’t like the bit with live ammo.”

He stood and shook his head. “I can’t leave you alone for five minutes, can I?”

“No,” I said and hugged him. I felt his arm around me and for a moment I felt safe. I also felt safe to cry. At first, my eyes just felt as if they were burning a little and filled with tears, then the tears became rivulets running down my cheeks. In moments, I was sobbing and shaking and I didn’t know why.

Simon stood holding me, rubbing my back and saying comforting things to me. I sensed rather than saw or heard someone approach and Simon sent them away. I had missed him and his protective hugs.

When I’d calmed down a bit, he took me into the room and kissed me, it was a wonderful sensation to feel his warm lips touching mine. His strong arms held me and I was close to swooning, though I didn’t know why.

“What are you doing here?” I asked him again.

“I had to bring some business acquaintances to assist the boys in blue to deal with these ruffians.”

“Any news on Stella?”

“Oh Stella is perfectly safe.”

“What! Why didn’t anyone tell me?” I was crying for joy, and hugged him tightly.

“She’s up at the hospital getting checked over.”

“What happened?”

“We worked out where she was within hours, with some help from our friends in Russia and some intel…”

“What, the stuff in computers?” I asked blankly, what could an American silicon chip company have to do with anything, besides I preferred AMD.

“What?”

“Intel, the computer chip people.”

“No you silly goose, intel, as in intelligence. Get with the jargon girl.”

“So what happened with Stella, a swat team was it?”

“No, an SAS team rescued her.”

“Oh, I’d have thought the police would have done it.”

“They flew them in from Hereford. They sussed the job, did it and left.”

“We could have done with a few of them earlier on.”

“I heard Robin Hood helped out.”

“Ha ha,” I hugged him tighter.

“So how many did you shoot?”

“Who said I shot anyone?”

“I heard you confessed to it.”

“Confessed, I’m not guilty of attacking people’s houses with machine guns, who do you think I am, the SAS?”

He laughed, “So how many did Robin Hood shoot?”

“I think the figure of three was mentioned.” I blushed as I said it.

“I heard they only found two bodies.”

“Not the two coppers?” I gasped.

“No, they were okay, someone had called them to go elsewhere.”

“What? No wonder we were such easy meat.”

“No, the bodies had arrows in them.”

“Oh dear, have they died?” I hadn’t given it much thought until now. When I fired the arrows I didn’t care if they had killed the targets, now I did. The fact that I had deliberately hurt three people now weighed heavy on my heart.

“I don’t know, I’m just immensely proud of my little girl defending herself and her friends against overwhelming odds.”

“But I might have killed someone,” I sobbed.

“They were trying to kill you, and Tom and that copper.”

“I know, but I have no right to kill anyone.”

“Neither have they, and they started it.”

“That doesn’t make what I did right, Simon.”

“Cathy, you bought yourself a bow and arrows, if you weren’t planning on using it, why the hell did you buy it?”

“I felt safer for having it with me. I didn’t think I would ever use it. I was angry and frightened for Stella. I wanted to protect myself and Tom.”

“I didn’t know you could fire a bow.”

“Even you could hit something with a compound bow.” I realised what I’d said as the words were out of my mouth.

“Even me, huh! That says a lot about your confidence in me, Catherine Watts.”

“I’m sorry, Simon, I didn’t mean it like that. What I meant to say was, anyone could hit something with a compound bow. The cantilevers take all the weight off the string so you get to aim it better. It’s a forty-pound bow.”

“That sounds pretty powerful to me.”

“It is, from close range would probably put an arrow straight through you.” I shuddered as I saw my arrows hit the bloke in the house. How I managed to reload and fire so quickly amazed me when I thought about it. I was as quick as a British archer in the Anglo-French wars. I mean I hit him and he staggered about with an arrow in his back and I reloaded and shot him in the stomach. How could he survive two hits? But somehow he did. And that guy who took one in the face! Ugggggggh! I mean, how did he survive that? Did I blind him or hit his brain or his mouth? I felt quite ill.

“Are you okay?” asked Simon.

“Not really,” I sobbed. “I need to see Dr Thomas.”

“Ah, I’ll call her as soon as I can, but I think tonight we need to get our heads down.”

“What, here?”

“No, the hotel on Southsea, remember we have a suite there.”

“I brought a case of your clothes from the house.”

“I love you Catherine Watts.”

“I love you too,” I said sniffing. “What about Stella?”

“She’s safe for now, hopefully we’ll see her tomorrow.”

“I hope so.” I hugged him again and then let him lead me back to my car. He sat in the driver’s seat and we followed a police car to Southsea.

“Are we safe now?” I asked him when we’d snuggled down in the comfortable bed.

“I am with Ramboette protecting me.”

My hand which was near his waist dropped a little and squeezed something quite firmly.

“Jeez! Cathy, what are you doing?” he squeaked loudly and jumped but I held on.

“Rambo-ette?” I queried.

“Okay, I apologise, let them go for Pete’s sake.”

“Still feel safe?” I asked.

“From mad Russians yes, from my psycho-girlfriend, I’m not so sure.” I could feel his hand rubbing something as he soothed his injured pride.

“Well that’s all right then,” I growled at him and put the light out.

Easy As Taking Candy From A Baby Part 257

by Bonzi ’n ’er

One of the things I love about Simon is that he forgives and forgets so quickly. I wonder if his short-term memory is impaired but otherwise he remembers things, though I suppose that could be due to his Blackberry.

The next morning he winced when he dried himself in a certain place, but he didn’t hold it against me—probably too tender! I had to smirk but managed to do it unseen by him.

The hotel suite was gorgeous, a bedroom, bathroom and sitting room. We have it for a week while the repairs are made at Tom’s place. I have no idea what state the cottage is in, it’s weeks since I’ve seen it and if you remember, Stella and I were going to visit it the day before when the manure hit the environment control.

The bank is paying for our stay because they were responsible for the attack on us, as employees of theirs. In some ways, I feel that’s correct, I hadn’t declared war on Russia so it wasn’t a personal thing on my part. I am however, thinking of withdrawing our ambassador because it’s too much that foreign thugs can push their way into one’s house and then run off with one’s arrows.

As I sat in my comfortable bathrobe eating my breakfast grapefruit and melon fruit salad, I asked Simon if he thought I would be prosecuted.

“I dunno. If one of them dies I suppose it could happen.”

“I was only exercising my right to self defence.”

“I know that but with deadly force, it’s always iffy.”

“They had automatic weapons. They came prepared to kill.”

“Were you?”

“When I fired the arrows, I didn’t actually think about anything but reducing the threat.”

“So you were trying to maim or kill?”

“I was trying to eliminate a threat. I didn’t fire at anyone who didn’t have a weapon.”

“You did have the advantage of night vision goggles.”

“Yeah, a bow and arrow against Mausers or whatever they were using.”

“But a compound bow.”

I poked my tongue out at him and he tried to grab it. I jumped back. “Do you realise if I’d had anything but target arrows, we could well have been looking at three corpses. That first guy I hit, the arrow could well have gone right through him.”

“Oh come on Cathy, it’s a bow, not a Colt magnum.”

“You haven’t seen the power of a compound bow. With razor sharp barbed arrows, it would have made a real mess.” I shuddered, glad that I didn’t have access to that sort of weapon. With a shotgun, I’d probably have also killed three times. It didn’t bear thinking about.

What was happening to me? I’m not a fighter, I’m a girly girl, more adept with makeup than firearms, so how do I get into these situations? Yet on reflection, if I’d gone all girly I’d have been kidnapped and possibly murdered twice.

What is wrong with the world, when it allows thugs to wander roughshod over anyone? I felt angry again. I needed to see Dr Thomas.

At half past eight, I called her office and spoke to the receptionist. I explained that an emergency had arisen and I needed to see her as soon as I could. The receptionist took my mobile number and told me she would ask her to ring me back.

I had dressed and applied minimal makeup when my phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hello Cathy. It’s Ann Thomas, you needed to speak with me?”

“Yes, thanks for calling back. I had a couple of incidents over the last couple of days.”

“What happened?”

“Some Russian Mafiosi tried to abduct me twice, the second time they came with guns and shot up the house.”

“What, Tom Agnew’s lovely old farmhouse?”

“Yes,” I felt the tears returning and I tried to sniff them back.

“Was anyone hurt?”

“I shot three of them.”

“What, the bad guys?”

“Yes, with a compound bow.”

“What’s that when it’s at home?” she asked and I explained quickly. “Are they dead?”

“Two were taken away by ambulance, still alive, one was quite badly wounded… actually both were.”

“This was self-defence?”

“Yes, they had guns and seemed intent on killing us. They didn’t even ask us to surrender.”

“Were you trying to kill them?”

“Yes and no, yes I suppose I was… does that make me a dreadful woman?”

“How do you feel about it?”

“I don’t know, I feel a bit numb. Part of me is horrified by what happened and how I responded. Part of me realises that I’m only here because I did what I did.”

“You need to keep that in mind. Try not to think about the emotional stuff if you can help it, focus on the positive, you did what was necessary. Look, I’m tied up all day, but I’d like to see you about six if that’s possible. I’m also going to invite a colleague, Rob Redhead. He’s a psychologist who works with the police.”

“I don’t know. They’re talking about charging me with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to wound or kill.”

“He helps coppers who’ve been traumatized by terrible incidents, accidents, murders and so on. He won’t be there to criticize, but to help me do what is best for you.”

“Okay. I’ll be there at six.”

She rang off and I was left contemplating the unfairness if I’m charged with attempted murder or whatever, because I was trying to kill them, or at least I was shooting to kill. I’m ashamed of it now, but I have the luxury of the time to reflect upon it. If they’d succeeded, I suspect that wouldn’t have happened.

Simon had gone to see Henry and a little later, while I was busy trying to rewrite some of the survey protocols, they both arrived at the hotel.

“Cathy darling,” Henry rushed over to me and hugged me almost to death, kissing me several times on the cheeks. “Simon tells me you saved the day again.”

“Not really, the police did that.”

“But you took three of them out of the fight.”

“I helped to, yes.”

“According to the police, both of those thugs have serious injuries and have necessitated surgery. They’ll both live and I hope we deport them.”

“Won’t they be tried here first?”

“Probably, but I shall lobby for sending them back to the Russian authorities where they are also wanted for all sorts of gruesome crimes.”

“They killed one of their own, he was in a hospital.”

“I believe you put him there.”

“Not entirely, Pippa my secretary helped to dent his skull with a flower planter.”

“He’s still alive.”

“What? You said he was dead.”

“That was what I was told, he’d been shot by them as well as receiving injuries via the university ninja squad.”

“Ha ha!” I didn’t find that particularly funny.

“He’s still pretty ill and may not make it. We want him to testify against his colleagues, which given their attempt to kill him, he might just do.”

“I doubt it.”

“We’ll threaten him with you, if he doesn’t cooperate.”

“Henry that is sick, I’m just a feeble female.”

“Who dropped him like a sack of coal.”

“Says who?”

“Two eyewitnesses. We have statements.”

“Who’s we?”

“Our legal team, if they charge you, we’ll make them look rather silly.”

“I can’t afford barristers, they cost a fortune.”

“The ones we use do, but that is the bank’s responsibility. You were targets because you are working for us and marrying into us. So you are one of us.”

“So if I wasn’t, they wouldn’t keep trying to kill me?”

“Sorry Cathy, as far as they are concerned you are a marked woman.”

“Will it ever end?”

“Very soon, the civil war between the gangs is almost at a climax and our guys should win.”

“I’m not sure what I think about that.”

“It’s the only way Cathy, either that or keep an army of bodyguards around you all the time. If the one wipes out the other, end of problem.”

“But they are all criminals,” I protested.

“Some of them are actually undercover police and some are ordinary police, some are also bent coppers, but so long as it stops them chasing us, I really don’t care. I am tired of being a target for any old Russian with a peashooter, just because I wouldn’t allow the bank to launder his dirty money and resisted the takeover. So I’m fighting back the only way I can, encouraging dog to eat dog but making sure ours is in good condition and has the bigger teeth.”

“How is Stella?”

“Resting, she was very shocked by the abduction, and got a bit roughed up. However, she’s a tough cookie and will come through it. So I still have my two favourite girls.”

“Shouldn’t Monica feature in there somewhere?” I asked with my face blazing.

“She’s my favourite woman.”

“Oh! But Stella and I are both over twenty one.” I felt a bit indignant on one level.

“Pish, I’m nearly sixty, you’re still kids to me.”

“Okay Henry, you win,” I shrugged.

“He always does,” said Simon, who was reading the local paper. “Seems like the ‘Gunfight at the OK Corral’ got in the local rag.”

“What did they say?” I asked looking at him in astonishment.

“‘Shots were heard from a farmhouse on the outskirts of town for over an hour last night. Police eventually dealt with the offenders, who were thought to be a local gang who were squabbling amongst themselves in the field alongside the house, probably over drugs.

The occupants of the house fired a shotgun in defence of the property and the police were called. It took them an hour or more for an armed response unit to round up and disarm the offenders.

Five people were arrested, two of them with severe wounds. They are expected to be charged with possession of firearms amongst other offences, later today.’

So there you have it.”

“No mention of the Russian mafia, or Tom or us?”

“If they did, we’d have the nationals down here and then we’d have them digging and stirring things up again. We’re trying to let them forget so they leave us in peace, not pieces,” offered Henry.

“What happens if they don’t forget?” I asked knowing in my heart what the answer was.

“Enjoy yourself, life could be a finite object.”

“Gee, thanks Henry, and all because I fell for a banker’s son.”

“Yes, we’re all a bunch of bankers!” said Simon and Henry and I groaned.

Easy As Falling Down Part 258

by Angharad & Bonzi Cat

The second night in the hotel suite was even better than the first, Henry had the suite next door, which was plusher than ours, but then, he was effectively the owner.

Simon and I snuggled down in the queen-size bed. “I hope my bikes weren’t damaged,” I said, not having had a chance to check on them.

“The garage was still intact when I went there with Tom earlier, and it’s our bikes, not just yours.”

“You bought that bike then?”

“Yes I did, so if I’m not happy with it, woe betide you.”

“Woe what? If you’re not happy with it that’s your tough luck. I told you it was a good bike, I didn’t tell you to buy it. Mind you I didn’t tell you to buy me the Ruby either, but I’m glad you did, it’s a lovely bike.”

“See, you have bikes worth thousands of pounds, mine was hundreds. I feel neglected.”

“Oh my poor baby, how can I make that up to you?” I lay on top of him and started to kiss him. He began to stroke my breasts and if he was as excited as I was, this was going in one direction only.

His breathing became faster and I could feel him starting to sweat, he was becoming very excited. I reached down to his groin and began gently to squeeze his manhood. He was very, very excited and as I went to withdraw my hand, his held it there.

“I want you inside me,” I said tersely and kissed him with abandon.

“When we’re married, remember I promised you.”

“To hell with promises Simon, I want you now.” I pulled my hand away from his and grabbed him and tried to push him inside me. He pushed all right, with both hands and I rolled off him.

“I said, no, if you can’t respect that, then you can’t respect me.” He got up out of the bed.

I couldn’t believe it, I lay there in shock. I had virtually thrown myself at him and he had reacted like some mediaeval saint repelling a temptation from a succubus. Not only that, but he as good as told me I didn’t love him.

I lay there sobbing, what was wrong with him? Didn’t he love me? Did he not fancy me? Was the gender thing still an issue? Was he gay? A dozen questions ran through my aching head and it seemed farcical, I had a headache because I couldn’t get sex. Maybe the jokes about Sister Maria doing press ups in the cucumber patch weren’t so outlandish.

Simon had been to the bathroom and gone through into the sitting room, he was watching the telly, a corny old film was on. I felt I had to make my peace with him.

I pulled on a nightie, one that Stella had given me, so it was rather nice and showed a bit of cleavage, which seemed to have grown a little recently.

Simon was sitting on a settee and I sat down beside him. “Can we talk?” I asked him.

“If you want,” he said without taking his eyes off the screen.

“I’m sorry that I tried to talk you into doing something you’re not ready to do. I do respect you and love you and I am sorry.”

“Okay, thank you. Apology accepted. Please don’t do it again.”

I wanted to slap my head in frustration, nearly as much as I wanted to slap him. “Simon, I don’t know if you just don’t fancy me or what, but I was desperate for you and you ignored me. I don’t know where I stand any more or what that says about me as a woman?”

He kept looking at the television and spoke to me without once looking at me. “You know I love you and fancy you like mad, you are all the woman I’ll ever need. But I made a promise and will not break it.”

I was tempted to drop the magic three letter word that would drive him crazy, but I resisted the urge just as he had that to ravish me while I was throwing myself at him. He’s never going to get a stronger come on.

“I’m tired,” ‘of waiting for you Simon,’ “I’m off to bed, lover.”

“Okay,” he said without taking the hint, “Night,” he pecked me on the cheek like we’d been married two hundred years and I stomped off to bed and switched off the lights in the bedroom after shutting the connecting door. I was mad and was glad that exhaustion set in and I went off to sleep quite quickly. I did feel him getting into bed later and snuggled up to him, but that was all.

I awoke in the wee sma’ hours. I had recalled Dr Thomas phoning me and asking me could we postpone the meeting until tomorrow morning at eleven. That was okay, but I found myself thinking about what we’d say. I’d done some research on battle fatigue and PTSD. It seems that the US and the UK have a different approach.

In the States they tend to do it as soon as they can. In the UK we let a couple of months go by, allowing the soldiers to talk to their family and friends before medicalising them. Sometimes they don’t need psychotherapy and certainly not as much as the US soldiers get.

It was an interesting paper and perhaps said something about our cultural heritage as much as anything. Brits don’t usually make a fuss about things, Americans do much more often. Having relaxed and learned that Stella was essentially okay, I suspect I felt much better and might not actually need therapy tomorrow, which I shall say at the outset and see what the experts recommend.

I also made a mental note to speak to my GP as the hormone patches were giving me a slight rash. I wondered if there was an alternative brand or method.

After my tossing and turning, I awoke feeling exhausted and slept on. I’d asked for an alarm call and that happened at nine. They brought me up some cereal and tea and I shot in the shower, doing my hair and makeup very quickly. I pulled on some jeans to eat my breakfast and then had to take them off. I couldn’t believe it but the jeans seemed too hard in the crotch for me. Instead, I threw on a skirt suit, which meant I couldn’t wear my flat shoes.

Somehow, I managed to find a parking spot near the clinic and arrived with two minutes to spare. I waited for a few more minutes and was told to go to her room; I knocked and was bid enter.

“Ah Cathy, how good to see you, gosh you look well for someone who’s recently undergone such an ordeal.”

“Thank you.” I blushed.

“This is Dr Bob Redhead, the psychologist I wanted you to meet. I’m hoping he can teach us both a few things.”

I shook hands with her colleague, he was a man of about thirty-five and quite good looking, and although he wore glasses, they seemed to suit him. He was semi-casually dressed in an open necked shirt, cord jacket and checked trousers. I wasn’t sure about his taste in trousers, but then I wasn’t going out with him—if I was, the trousers would have to go!

Dr Thomas poured us each a cup of coffee and the caffeine helped to wake me up. I explained that I felt a bit better and wasn’t sure if I needed help.

Dr Redhead agreed with me, explaining that I probably didn’t at the moment, but if the stress wasn’t sublimated, then I would probably need to see someone eventually. It made sense to me and seemed to go with the military model I’d been reading about.

Dr Thomas wanted to know all about my ‘adventure’ but Redhead stopped me, suggesting that instead of reframing, it would stir things up when they didn’t need to be, which could alter my mood and current coping mechanism. Dr Thomas seemed to understand even if I didn’t.

I asked them about my frustration and was that possible. They both smiled a bit.

Dr Thomas then told Redhead about my actual status. “The reason Cathy is unsure of what’s normal is that she had a vaginoplasty recently and wondered if it’s reasonable to desire to use it.”

“Vaginoplasty?” repeated Dr Redhead.

“And clitoroplasty, the works,” I offered.

“You’re transsexual?” he asked in astonishment.

“I was, I’m female now, or will be when I qualify for legal recognition.”

“Goodness, I’d never have guessed. I assumed you were a regular woman, I mean a biological female.”

“Cathy is something of a star client,” said Dr Thomas bursting with pride, “Once we got her to believe in herself, she hasn’t looked back. How is Simon, apart from frustrating you?”

“He’s fine, thank you.”

“You’re still going to marry him?”

“Yes but if the Gender Recognition bit is going to take another year or more I might go for my PhD first, as I originally planned.”

“PhD, in what?”

“I’m a biologist.”

“Ah, not involved with the mammal survey stuff, I saw at my ban…” he paused and looked at me again, “That was you on the posters wasn’t it, the dormouse lady?”

I blushed and hoped he wasn’t going to mention the YouTube clip. He didn’t, Dr Thomas did.

“Oh Cathy is quite a celebrity, she’s appeared on TV with her dormouse juggling.”

I had never wanted to kill Dr Thomas before, but now it was tempting.

“Not the YouTube clip?” said Dr Redhead.

“The very same,” confirmed Dr Thomas.

“That is so funny,” he said and she agreed. I just blushed and wanted to kill them both.

Easy Street Part 259

I came away from the clinic feeling irritable. I was tired and fed up, not helped by the mirth my actions with a certain rodent had caused. I felt like going to the university and wringing the neck of said rodent. If she been a Russian hamster, I think I might well have done.

I was walking back to my car when someone approached me, a tall man who looked foreign, a bit like a younger Breshnev. His accent was also thick and his English poor. My stress levels went through the roof as I looked around for help or further assailants.

In the end it was just a misunderstanding, he was a Lithuanian visitor who wanted directions for HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship on which he died at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Once I had calmed down, sat in my locked car with the engine running, I thought a bit about Nelson. His action at Trafalgar meant that any risk of a Napoleonic invasion was nullified. Nelson’s tactics at the time were real death and glory stuff, but he took out half the French fleet in the first part of the engagement, by sailing in between their two lines and blasting both at the same time. Apparently, the Royal Navy were better equipped, trained and motivated than the enemy and Nelson made full use of it.

His death was apparently horrendous—shot by a sniper, the shot passing through his spine, a lung and further internal injuries and he took about five hours to die, fully conscious and in great pain. However, he died at the height of his fame, and hence the legends that persist about him.

Although I’d been in Portsmouth over a year, I’d never been to see Victory, something I would do one day, probably ask Simon to take me. While we were at it, try and take in the Mary Rose, one of Henry VIII’s vessels which sank sailing out to engage a French fleet in the sixteenth Century. Current theory suggests the wind and pure bad luck caused her to capsize, and the gun ports were open, allowing her to ship water. Hundreds drowned as she sank in minutes.

I shuddered, I was cold despite the car’s usually effective heater and thinking about poor men drowning in a cold sea did nothing to lift my spirits.

For something to do, I drove out to Simon’s Cottage. The garden was a bit unkempt and there was a skip full of builder’s rubbish still in the driveway, but from the outside the house looked really good. I wondered if the insurance was paying or Simon. I took some pictures with my mobile phone, to show Stella when I finally got to see her.

Thinking of her, I called the hospital. I spoke to the charge nurse on her ward and asked about visiting.

“She is still quite poorly and I don’t think friends coming to see her is a good idea.”

“She’s my sister-in-law,” I lied.

“Who are you then?”

“Lady Catherine Cameron, my husband is her brother.”

“I’d worked that much out. Hold on I’ll go and see her.” He returned a few minutes later. “She says she’d like to see you, but she is quite frail, so please don’t expect to see her for long and please don’t do anything to cause her any anxiety or other negative feeling.”

“Oh my God, she is that ill?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“What time shall I come?”

“About two?”

“That’s fine, will you be there?”

“Possibly, if I am we’ll be doing handover, but please speak to a nurse before you see her, just in case she isn’t well.”

“Very well, I shall do as you ask, thank you.” I hope that sounded sufficiently pompous to keep up the illusion. My suit was designer gear, so I should look the part. I freshened up my makeup and drove off to get some lunch.

I met up with Tom at his usual haunt, he was having a chicken curry for a change. So I had a tuna salad as they did a reasonable one there.

We chatted and I said I was going to see Stella.

“How did you manage that? They won’t even tell me how she is.”

“I stretched the truth a little, explained I was Lady Catherine her sister-in-law. You could always try it.”

“With my voice, I don’t think they’d believe I was Lady anyone.”

I shook my head, “You tell them she’s your niece or Kiki’s cousin twice removed.”

He roared and said, “I don’t think so, but as you are going there you can tell me instead.”

Neither Simon nor Henry had said how she was, except she was ‘safe’ and ‘she’ll be home in a few days.’ That now seemed unlikely. I didn’t mention my misgivings to Tom, hoping that the hospital was exaggerating the situation as hospitals sometimes do. But when he left to go back to uni at half past one, I went to the toilet and threw up most of my lunch, I felt so anxious. I touched up my makeup and on the way back to the car bought some water and peppermints to freshen my mouth, and some flowers and fruit for Stella. Had I been better organised, I could have taken her some clean nighties.

At the hospital, I bought her some toiletries and was quite laden when I got to her ward and spoke to the nurse, who promised to bring in a vase for the flowers a little later.

Stella was in a private room. I knocked and entered. She was lying propped up on several pillows and with the backrest in position. Amidst the white sheets she looked absolutely colourless and had deep dark rings around her eyes. I nearly burst into tears just seeing her.

“Hi Sis, how are you?” I said and showed her all my prezzies.

She smiled and said so quietly I could hardly hear her, “Like shit, how are you?”

“I’m okay.”

We hugged gently, “Thanks for coming,” she said.

Aware that I didn’t want to start any flashbacks to her ordeal I couldn’t ask what happened. I didn’t need to, she told me. In a very quiet, emotionless voice she recalled how they had beaten her several times, including her stomach. She’d haemorrhaged again and had thought she was going to die. After that, they left her alone, possibly expecting her to die. Fortunately, the storming of the hideout, an old house in Gosport, had happened just in time and she’d been airlifted to the hospital and had had four transfusions to date. She confided in me that she still had the odd nightmare and some psychologist chap had been to see her, Redhead, or something, she couldn’t quite recall.

The nurse came in and looked at her watch and at me. She took the flowers and I got the hint. “I’d better go, you need your rest Sis. Get well soon.” I kissed her and we hugged very gently.

I walked out in a bit of a daze, she did look quite ill and I needed to speak with Henry. I sent a text to his mobile. He returned it with a call about an hour later.

I pulled off the road and switched off the engine. “Hello Henry, I’ve just been to see Stella.”

“Oh how is she?”

“Quite ill, why didn’t you tell me?”

“To what end? You couldn’t do anything and Simon and I worrying about her was enough. I haven’t even told Monica.”

“Is she going to be okay?”

“I don’t know, lovely, it’s in the lap of the gods.”

I began to cry, “She’s got to get better, I’d miss her so much.”

“We all would, but she’s a fighter and I have high expectations of her.”

I sniffed and nodded, realising he couldn’t see me, and added a quick, “Yeah, I guess so.”

“Is there anything she needs?” he asked.

“No, I’ll pop in tomorrow and take her some clean nighties and things.”

“Good girl, see that’s the sort of things we mere males forget.”

“I told them I was Lady Catherine, they wouldn’t have let me in otherwise, I hope you don’t mind?”

“My dear girl, in my little mind, you’ve been my daughter-in-law for some time. Why don’t you get a move on with the wedding?”

“I would if I could, Henry, but I have to wait another year to qualify for the gender Recognition Panel.”

“Can’t you get one of these civil thingies?”

“No, I want to marry as a female.”

“Do you want me to see if I can pull any strings?”

“I don’t think that would work, they are quite strict about qualifying periods.”

“I’m sure I could have a word with the requisite minister.”

“No, Henry, I’d prefer it if you didn’t, I want everything to be legit when I marry. It also gives Stella more time to get well to help me plan it.”

“That’s a point, mind you Monica would be delighted to help.”

“To be honest, she terrifies me Henry.”

He laughed, “She’s harmless really but I’ll tell her to calm down around you. She thinks you’re lovely.”

“That’s what worries me.”

“Oh, I think you’re lovely too, does that frighten you as well?”

“No, I’ve got a little practice at repelling unwanted men, even Russian ones with guns.”

“So I believe. I must go dear girl, give Stella my love, won’t you?”

“Of course, future daddy-in-law.”

“I like that, hurry up and get that bit of paper!”

“I will.”

“No, you say that later.”

I blushed and simply said, “Go Henry, bye.” At which he called, ‘bye,’ and disconnected.

I did some shopping for something to do and ended up buying another pair of shoes I didn’t need. Then I went back to the hotel, had a bath and dilated—it hurt, but only a lot!

I sent Simon a text to ask if he was home for dinner and could I invite Tom?

His response was,
‘Won’t make dnnr, invt who U lik, CU 2Nit. luv S.’

I called Tom, catching him just before he was about to leave his office. I asked him to ask Pippa if she wanted to come as well, provided he didn’t mind giving her a lift. He went to ask her and she called her mum, who could babysit, so I’d have two guests for dinner at eight.

I called the restaurant, “Could I book a table for three for eight o’clock?”

“Which room is it?”

“It’s not a room per se, but a suite.”

“Ah, Lady Cameron is it?”

“Yes,” I said blushing. Simon had said, ‘The only use for a title was booking a table in a posh restaurant.’ Seemed he was right, although it helped if the family owned it.

“I have a nice one in the green room near the window.”

“That sounds perfect, thank you.”

“My pleasure, Lady Cameron.”

I looked at my watch, it was five o’clock—I requested an alarm call at six and went for a lie down and was soon fast asleep.

Queasy As Falling Off A Boat Part 260

by Hadarang

I knew I was dreaming, but I couldn’t break out of it, I couldn’t make myself wake up. I was in the hospital behind a sheet of plate glass looking into Stella’s room. She was lying on the bed, not moving but I knew she was still alive. I saw two porters bring in the mortuary trolley, they picked her up and began to put her into the trolley, I was screaming and banging on the window but they couldn’t or wouldn’t hear me. They lowered her into the trolley and began to push it out of the room. I was screaming, “She isn’t dead, she isn’t dead,” over and over but no one could hear me.

Suddenly a bell rang all around me, I jerked awake and the phone by the bed was ringing. It took me a moment to realise I’d been having a very bad dream. I answered the phone with hesitation.

“Your call, Lady Catherine.”

“Erm what?”

“You asked for an alarm call.”

“Oh yes, sorry I’m half-asleep, thank you.” I put the handset down and tried to wake myself up. I was a bath of sweat; the dream had been awful brought about no doubt, by my fears for Stella. I made myself a cup of tea and began to run a bath. Showers are all very well for getting clean but I felt in need of some pampering and my legs needed a shave.

I emptied some bath cream stuff into the water and watched it froth up: it smelt nice too. I adjusted the temperature and slipped into the welcoming water, carefully balancing my tea on the edge of the bath. Then bliss, a warm bath with a cuppa—if I’d had some romantic music say, Vaughan-Williams or Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, it would have been so nice I might just have stayed there all night.

Instead, I drank my tea and had a short soak, then shaved my legs and finally washed my hair under the shower. I dried it and my little body, and clad in my wrap, went in pursuit of something to wear in the restaurant. I felt it needed a dress and I flicked through the bare essentials I had in the wardrobe. It wasn’t very much. I nipped into Stella’s room and she had a faux leopard skin pattern dress with a cream background. I took it with me and tried it on with a cream bra and pants set. It looked very nice—since the surgery, the weight gains had been on my boobs and bum which filled the dress out rather effectively. I hoped she wouldn’t mind me borrowing it.

The shoes I’d bought were almost the same brown as the dress, and had a three inch stiletto heel. They were moderately comfortable. Sadly I didn’t have a matching bag, so had to use a small clutch bag in a darker brown, one of Stella’s cast offs, but big enough to hold my key, my purse and some makeup, together with a few tissues.

I styled my hair: actually I combed and brushed it a bit so it didn’t look too big a mess. I put on my makeup and some jewellery plus my watch, then a squirt of No 5, and I was more or less ready.

It was only half past seven, so I went into Stella’s room again and packed together a couple of nighties, her dressing gown and slippers plus one or two more intimate things. Then I left it on the bed for the morning when I would go and see her.

That had used up a quarter of an hour and after a quick check in the mirror, I went down to the Green Room to check out the table and await my friends.

It was one of the nicest tables in the room, almost out of the public gaze but positioned so it didn’t miss anything. I felt quite voyeuristic but positioned myself in the most advantageous seat, so I could see practically all that went on.

Tom and Pippa arrived a few minutes after eight—they both looked very smart. Pippa was wearing a trouser suit and Tom had his charcoal grey suit, with a grey shirt and dark rose coloured tie. They spoke to a waiter who brought them over to me. I’d warned them to use my ‘future’ name.

“You both look very smart,” I said greeting them with a hug and a kiss.

“You don’t look too bad yourself,” said Pippa and Tom nodded his agreement.

“What, this old thing?” I said and smirked.

“Okay, what’s so funny?” asked Pippa. No she didn’t ask, she demanded to know.

“This dress is actually Stella’s, I didn’t bring anything really suitable with me.”

“Watch you don’t get jam on it then!” said Pippa.

“I don’t usually, I leave that to older types you know, like ancient academics.”

“Ooh, they are the worst!” said Pippa, rolling her eyes.

“At least I don’t get toner all over me,” said Tom with a huge grin on his face.

I looked quizzically at him and then Pippa. She blushed and said, “I had a slight accident with the photocopier this morning.”

“What sort of accident?” I demanded the lowdown; at least it would be something else to talk about apart from that YouTube clip.”

“I slipped as I picked up the toner cartridge, it went everywhere.”

“I thought they were showing a rerun of the Black and White Minstrel Show.” Tom was now sniggering.

“How did you get it off?”

“I went home and showered, my clothes are ruined but I think my house insurance may cover them.”

“Check it carefully because they often don’t cover clothes at all.” How would I know, I’d never insured a property. Still what is it they say, the lesser the knowledge the stronger the opinion! I’d never let fact get in the way of my opinions.” What a hypocrite!

We ordered and I had lamb. As long as I didn’t relate it to the small woolly things bouncing around fields, I was okay. Tom had a curry, okay a beef one, but what his gut must be like I hated to think, probably asbestos lined! Pippa had a chicken dish, I’ve forgotten which one now. We also ordered a bottle of red wine, a burgundy.

“How was Stella?” asked Tom.

“Very poorly, they didn’t want me to go in to see her. She looked so weak, I had difficulty recognising her for a moment.”

Tom looked aghast and Pippa equally upset.

“She had been beaten up by those swine and it started another haemorrhage. She’s had umpteen transfusions since. I was shocked by it all.”

“Oh poor Stella, is there anything I can do to help?” Pippa looked almost ready to burst into tears.

“That goes for me too,” added Tom, now looking angry. “Why in God’s name did they have to beat her?”

“I don’t know, but the rescue was only just in time, much later and she’d have bled to death.”

“Did they get them all?” Tom had raised a serious point.

“God, I hope so, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder.”

“Might it be better if you forsook the Camerons and just disappeared?”

“Tom, how can you ask such a thing? I’m shocked!” I blushed at his question.

“I’m trying to think how you might evade these buggers, that’s all. The Camerons can’t, they are too well known.”

“I think I might be equally notorious by now.”

“Why?” asked Pippa then said, “Oh yeah, just remembered, YouTube.”

“Add BBC and various other media and it’s fairly easy to see why.” I shivered as I thought how much my face had been seen on the media, my dormouse wrestling and interviews on the news would guarantee that plenty of people knew my face, if not my name.”

I tried to turn the conversation onto other things but they kept bringing it back to Stella. I told them about my dream earlier.

“Ooh, goodness, I hope it isn’t some sort of foreboding.” Pippa looked quite worried.

“Me too, although I don’t believe in such things too much.”

“No you’re a hardened scientist, aren’t you Cathy?” Tom was in sarcastic mood. “Are you sure it wasn’t the tuna salad?”

“Positive, I read a thing recently about diet influencing dreams, it doesn’t.” I declined to add, ‘so there!’ at the end.

“So if I dream of Madras tonight?” Tom said with a twinkle in his eye.

“Ma who?” said Pippa trying to lighten the chat.

“Good one, Pip,” I said, glad that she had stopped the argument which I would probably have lost. Tom is far cleverer than I am.

Suddenly it was eleven and time for them to go home. I felt quite alone until I went up to the suite and found Simon asleep on the bed.

“Good meal?” he asked and promptly drifted back to sleep before I could answer him.

Typical, I thought, just bloody typical!

Easy As …

Part 261…

by Angh…

I snuggled up to the sleeping elephant in my bed. Well, it was trumpeting like one, in between snorts like a boar in heat and hedgehog with asthma. At least I knew he was alive from the decibels given off and for some reason tonight that gave me comfort. I didn’t really want to be alone and I didn’t want another dream like the earlier one.

Simon sleepily put his arm around me and spooned around my back. Turning onto his side stopped most of the acoustics and I began to think I might get some sleep, that then reminded me if I did, I could have bad dreams. However, the thought that Simon would help me to cope with them if they did occur, enabled me to sleep.

I heard his watch alarm go off, which in itself was unusual. It was six am. He yawned and was about to get out of bed when I said, “Hi lover, aren’t you going to wish me good morning?”

“What? You’re awake, you never wake this early?”

“I did today,” I responded.

“Why?”

“I haven’t really seen you for a day or two and I thought I’d like to say hello.”

“I need to pee,” he said romantically and went off to the toilet.

I was beginning to realise why I didn’t usually wake up that early. “Would you prefer, I didn’t?” I asked him.

“Didn’t what?” he called from the bathroom, where he was running the shower.

“Didn’t bother waking up early,” I said louder.

“Can’t hear you in the shower.”

I huffed and puffed and decided while I was awake I need to pee as well. I went and sat on the loo while he was steaming everything up with the shower. I was busy staring at the floor while I squeezed my bladder muscles when I became aware of being watched. I glanced up and he was staring at me from the shower.

“Wot you lookin’ at?” I asked as coarsely as I could.

“Nuffin’, it don’t ’ave a name on it.”

I poked my tongue at him and he reciprocated. I pulled off some loo paper and wiped myself in a fairly exhibitionist way, before pulling up my pants. I glanced at him and it was definitely having an effect on his erectile tissue. I left the bathroom sniggering.

I went back to bed and pretended to go back to sleep. He emerged from his ablutions a little later, wrapped in a towel. He sat on the edge of the bed and kissed me gently.

“Ugh!” I exclaimed, “You haven’t shaved,” I knew my skin would be going red where his bristles had rubbed me like sandpaper.

“This is your morning wake up call,” he said before kissing me again.

“You’re too late, I’ve gone back into my coma,” I said trying to keep a straight face.

“Talk in your sleep eh?”

“Sometimes,” and pretended to snore.

“Oh, sounds like you’re choking, you obviously need the hind-lick manoeuvre,” with that, he pulled back the bedclothes and kissed me on the bum.

I started to giggle, “They call it abdominal thrust these days,” I managed to get out in between giggles.

“I thought that referred to you know what,” he winked back at me.

“I think that might be pelvic thrusting,” I suggested.

“Trust me, never could tell my arse from my elbow.”

“Believe me, if you sit on your elbow, you’ll know all about it.”

“On a bike or what?”

“I don’t think it matters.”

He kissed me again and then went back to the bathroom to shave. I heard the buzzing of his electric shaver and lay back to watch for him returning again. I felt my own face, the only hair there was a sort of peach fuzz. Occasionally I got the odd proper hair and then I plucked it out.

He emerged again, this time in his underpants and socks. In his boxers he’d have looked okay, but the socks were real passion killers. I sniggered. He threw the damp towel at me and I jumped out of bed and chased him around the suite until he caught me. He just grabbed me in a bear hug and kissed me properly. I dropped the towel and would have dropped my pants too if he’d asked. He didn’t.

He dressed and I sat and watched him feeling a desire to rip off all his clothes and ravish him, however the look he gave me as I stood licking my lips said, ‘Don’t even think about it!’

“No wonder I get headaches…” I said to myself, at which he stopped doing his tie and looked at me, “…I need a good seeing to.”

His face was a picture, then he began to laugh, “I’ll call the plumber on the way out, or maybe Dyna-rod…”

I blushed but decided to call his bluff, “What about room service?” I said in a coquettish way.

He nearly fell about laughing, “Yes, very funny Cathy.” Then he killed the mirth completely, “Look I have to go, are you going to see Stella?”

“Yes, this afternoon, once I’ve checked with the ward.”

“Good, give her my love and let me know how she is.”

“Any further instructions, sahib?” I said bowing.

“Your boobs are growing, aren’t they?” He could obviously see down the front of my nightie when I leant forward.

“I didn’t know you cared, having taken a vow of chastity, or was it celibacy?”

“Very funny, not. I keep telling you that I am prepared to wait until we’re married.”

“By that time it will have healed up.”

“Good.”

“I mean the whole thing, or do I mean the hole thing?” I queried out loud.

“Very funny, I have to go. Another day another million dollars or two.”

“Is it getting harder?”

“Not in these trousers,” he laughed back at me.

“I mean the job, silly.”

“It isn’t easy at the moment, the Yanks seem to be headed for recession and we’re skating around the edge of it.”

“I don’t envy you,” I confessed.

He walked up to me and kissed me, then moving his hands said, “Yes, definitely bigger.”

“Yes, it is,” I said, touching the front of his trousers. He left blushing.

After showering and moisturising all the bits I could reach, I dressed and dried my hair, then rinsed through the dress I’d borrowed, hanging it on a hanger on the shower rail. I would tell Stella I’d borrowed it and hope she was okay about it.

I checked over her stuff again, everything I could think she might need in hospital was in the pile and I put it into her overnight bag. Then I called room service to send up some poached eggs for my breakfast while I did my makeup. I could get used to this, I thought to myself, then shook my head. No, I couldn’t. I’d prefer to get my own even if I did have to wash up afterwards.

Easy As Farting On A Bike Part 262

by Bonzi Cat

I muddled through the morning dealing with emails about the survey and then an incoming one from Rat Poo Films, which turned out to be from Des. I decided I wouldn’t answer it for a couple of days, make him sweat, until I saw he’d copied it to Henry. Damn! Now I’d have to respond.

I noticed it was nearly twelve, so I called the hospital. “Hello, it’s Cathy Cameron, Stella’s sister-in-law. Is it okay to see her this afternoon?”

“I should think so, Lady Cameron, but be aware she is still very weak and shouldn’t be over-stimulated.”

“I won’t outstay my welcome.” I promised them.

I rang off and decided I’d do some shopping on the way to the hospital until another thought crossed my mind. I hadn’t been to the room I’d been renting for months. I wondered if there was any mail plus I needed to sort out my belongings some time and give the place up.

I pulled on my coat and with my handbag over my shoulder and Stella’s overnight bag in the other hand, went down to the car. In less than half an hour, I was there and there was quite a mound of mail in the box which I dumped into a plastic bag I had in the car. I dumped it in the boot with Stella’s bag.

Inside the room, it smelt a bit musty from not having been aired but it was remarkably normal apart from some rancid milk in the fridge and some powdery ice cream in the freezer compartment. I cleaned those out and switched off the fridge wedging both doors open.

I thought the best thing to do would be to bring in some bin bags and dump most of it. I had a quick flit around checking for valuables and disconnected the old laptop which had been monitoring my post-box for months. I popped it in its bag and took it down to the car along with a few bits and pieces of clothing and shoes.

Then I went to say hello to the Patels, they hardly recognised me and insisted I stay for a cuppa. I purchased one of their sandwiches for my lunch which I ate whilst drinking the tea.

I spent a good hour with them telling them about my adventures and Stella’s misfortunes. They were enthusiastic about the good bits and sympathetic about the bad. I really did like them and decided when I did name the day, I would invite them to my wedding. I wanted some ordinary folk there as well as Simon’s friends, family and other assorted chinless wonders. My relatives would probably take up half a row, my colleagues the rest of it and my friends maybe a few more seats. His family and friends would probably take up half the church.

“So now you have had your operation, you are a proper woman,” said Mrs Patel.

“As close as a pig’s ear like me gets to a silk purse, yes.” She looked oddly at me. “It’s an old saying, ‘You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’.”

“Ah yes, I am familiar with it, it was your use of pig not sow’s ear which confused me.”

I apologised, it seemed the ladylike thing to do. She poured me another cup of tea and I ate a biscuit she offered, a chocolate Hobnob. If she hadn’t put them away, I’d have eaten several more, they are addictive.

At half past one, I walked back to my car and went off towards the hospital. I parked up, paid for a couple of hours and grabbing Stella’s bag went off to see her, via the loo. I had two cups of tea which needed relocating. I freshened up my hair and makeup and went up to the ward.

I had to wait outside along with two other women until two o’clock. The ward had a sign outside saying, ‘closed to visitors.’ At two on the dot, the door was opened and the sign removed.

“Hello Lady Cameron,” said one of the nurses.

I smiled back at her and nodded. The two women who were waiting with me gasped and one said something to the other and they both chuckled. I assumed they found the title amusing, if it was anything else, I was going to ignore it anyway.

“You know where Lady Stella is?”

“I do, thank you.” I nodded again to the nurse and after knocking entered Stella’s temporary boudoir.

“Hiya, Sis,” I said bursting in only to find she had gone to the loo and wasn’t actually in her room. I sat on the end of the bed to wait for a few minutes before scrambling a helicopter from RAF Kinloss.

I was almost about to ask where she was when she came shuffling in and almost fell into bed. I could see the bruising on her legs as she got back into bed and felt very angry. Those brutes, I hope they all paid for their wickedness.

She had weakly hugged me when she’d entered the room and I had helped her lift her feet and legs on to the bed. She felt cold and I soon had her wrapped up in the bedclothes.

“I’ve brought you three nighties, I pulled them out of the bag and put them in her locker, and I then showed her the rest of the stuff I’d brought. She smiled but was obviously exhausted.

I explained about the dress and she smiled, it wasn’t a problem to her. I was sitting on the bed talking to her and could see she was nodding off to sleep, so I hugged and kissed her and went to leave.

She squeaked, “Don’t go Cathy, stay with me while I sleep, then I know I’m safe.”

“Can I run down to the shop and grab a book to read?”

“Course you can,” she smiled.

I darted off and instead of going to the shop, I got my old laptop from the car. I thought I might do some more letters or even outline a paper I wanted to draft sometime on dormouse behaviour, but not the diving into cleavage behaviour. I also brought with me the bag of correspondence from my ‘flat.’ I had plenty to do while she slept.

On the way back in one of the two women I waited with said loudly to her friend, “Look out it’s Lady Muck again.”

I stopped, walked back to them and said, “Not quite, it’s Lady Mac, not muck. Good day to you.” Before they could react I had gone with a wave of laughter following behind. I quite enjoyed it.

I spoke to the nurse as I went back and she wasn’t entirely happy but accepted that Stella had asked me to sit with her for a while. I sat holding her cold hand until she nodded off to sleep, then I gently tucked her in again and began slowly and quietly going through my mail, using my penknife—actually a Swiss Army knife, to slit open the letters.

Most of them were junk and I ripped them in half and tucked them into a second plastic bag I had. Halfway through the pile, I had a shock.

‘You thought I’d gone and left you girly boy, but I haven’t.

Ha ha.

An Ill-wisher.’

I felt quite sick and wanted to rip it up and throw it out the window. Instead I put it back in the envelope and then got a pair of latex examination gloves from the pack by the washbasin in Stella’s room and looked through the pile for any more.

Annoyingly, the date on the postmark was almost illegible; all I could make out was ‘07’ which probably referred to last year.

I found no others and decided whoever it was had stopped sending them, perhaps because it was Mary after all, or if it wasn’t her, they had given up on the idea. However, I kept the offending piece just in case.

There was a letter from Mum’s solicitor with a nice cheque in it. I should have notified him of my different address, although I’d moved since that again anyway. I had a couple of months to cash it. Suddenly, I was a woman of substance! At least I could pay for my own wedding gown now. I’d start a building society account tomorrow, and hopefully accrue a few more pounds before I got married.

The rest of the mail was nothing much. I had to pop out and renew my parking ticket, but Stella was still asleep when I got back. It was dark outside by then and I could happily have cuddled into bed with her, instead I yawned and switched on my computer and settled down to play solitaire instead.

Easy As Being A Cat Part 263

by Bonzi >@@<

My eyes were straining to stay open as I tried to play the last game of solitaire. I really had to go back to the hotel to sleep and I had to drive there to do it. If I got any more dozy, I was in danger of having an accident. I glanced at my watch—it was after ten—the nurse must have forgotten I was there.

I closed down the laptop, and with it my winning streak of ten. Stella must have heard the click of the box as I folded it up.

“Who’s there?” she gasped.

“It’s okay Stella, it’s me, Cathy.”

“Oh Cathy, you frightened me.”

“I’m sorry, Sis, I was just packing up my old lappie.”

“You’re not going are you?”

“I have to darling, it’s after ten.”

“Can’t you stay longer?” she began to cry.

I was too tired to argue, “Okay, don’t cry, I’ll stay a bit longer.” I sat back down and pulled out my mobile and sent a text to Simon advising him where I was and why.

About ten minutes later I had one back from him.

‘Ok sta as lng as u wnt. Tlk l8a. S xxx.’

“Was that my brother?”

“Yep, he’s okay with me staying a bit longer.”

“He’s a brick.”

“I hope you said brick then,” I smiled at her.

“You know damn well I did.”

“Just checkin’, Stella, just checkin’.”

“You’re a wicked woman, Catherine.”

“Have you only just noticed?”

Her response was to poke out her tongue; at this I laughed and of course it brought in the nurse.

“How come you are still here? Visiting finished two hours ago.”

“I asked her to stay,” volunteered Stella.

“I’m sorry, but you’ll have to go,” said the nurse, which I understood.

“I want her to stay.” Stella voiced her demand loudly.

“I’m sorry Lady Cameron, but she can’t. It’s against all sorts of rules and you know it.”

“I don’t care, I want her to stay.”

“I’ll come in tomorrow, Stella.”

“I’m going to complain,” Stella was now on her high horse.

“I wouldn’t if I were you Sis. The nurse is quite right and she’s allowed us a generous overlap.”

I pulled on my coat and picked up my belongings and after hugging Stella ‘goodnight,’ and thanking the nurse, I trudged out the corridor.

The nurse walked with me, “It’s about fire regs and things. It’s only ICU and the children’s wards they allow relatives to stay.”

“It’s okay, I do understand, I’m pretty tired myself anyway. Thanks for letting me stay this long. Stella did get some rest, she is so anxious after her ordeal.”

“I forgot you were in there, maybe I’ll forget a bit tomorrow too.”

“Thanks, see you tomorrow then,” I bid her as I walked back to my car. The parking ticket had expired about an hour before, but thankfully no one had nicked me for it. The car park was practically empty and felt quite eerie. Just a month or so before I had been a patient in this hospital myself, how strange life is.

I got in the car, clicked down the locks and sent another text to Simon, saying I was on my way back. He sent one back pretending he’d just got rid of the chambermaid. He should be so lucky, but as I drove back, I supposed he’d considered it a response to my ‘room service’ joke earlier. Now I’d have to think of something even better to top that one.

It kept me amused and awake until I parked up at the hotel and made my way up in the lift to our suite.

“How is Stella?” was his opening remark.

“Well, that’s nice I’m very well thank you,” I scowled at him.

“Yeah, okay, sorry about that, hello sweetheart.” He wrapped me in an enormous hug and I held him tightly. He thought about letting me go several times but I held on to him. At that moment, I just wanted him to hold me forever.

After several minutes I relaxed my grip, and he said quietly, “Better?”

“Thank you, I needed that,” I replied.

“Want something to eat or have you eaten?”

“I’ve gone past that. I had a KitKat in the car on the way back.”

“Let’s go to bed then, you never know, it could be your lucky night.”

“I do know Simon, so please don’t tease me.”

“I’ve been thinking about that, and maybe I’ve been a bit rigid…”

I interrupted him by laughing, “At times you have lover, but I was quite happy with it. Quite a handful!” I laughed again.

“Erm yes, I didn’t quite mean that.” He was blushing like a heat lamp.

“I hate to say this Si, but I am too bloody tired. Can we just go to bed and cooch, as they say in Wales?”

“Sounds good to me,” there was almost a relief in his voice. Had I let him off the hook of breaking his promise? Probably but I was so tired if he had done anything he’d have been poking a dead fire, I would definitely have lain back and thought of England.

I washed and cleaned my teeth, then slipped on my nightdress and got into bed. Simon somehow had beaten me, but that meant the bed was warm. I kissed him and then presented my back to him, he cuddled into the back of me and his left hand caressed my left breast.

“How was Stella?” he asked.

“Covered in bruises and very frightened. She slept most of the time I was there. Part of me thinks she’d be better off back at Tom’s with me. At least she’d have me with her most of the time and Kiki would be around too. She may feel safer, if not we’ll have to hire someone to stand guard.”

“Wow, that’s a quantum leap for you, hiring someone!”

“Well, I got some money from my mother’s estate, I was going to use it to buy my wedding dress but if we need to hire someone to make Stella feel safe, so be it.”

“You’d do that for Stella?”

“If necessary, yes.”

“I love you, Cathy Watts, sorry, Lady Catherine.”

“You’re not too bad yourself, Simon wassisname.”

He kissed me on the back of my neck and it made everything down to my toes tingle. I yawned and although tired perhaps regretted turning him down. I knew however, that if I made overtures now, he’d avoid them. I nearly did just out of badness, then found it was more fitting to stay quiet and I slipped into sleep in his arms.

I must have zonked because I woke up at nearly ten o’clock and Simon had long left for work. My stomach rumbled, I hadn’t eaten anything very much for about twenty hours and felt full of wind. I made some tea with the room facilities and ate a couple of the biscuits they leave with the tea making stuff. It helped and I was glad I was on my own as my body released the gas in a series burps and farts while I was in the shower.

I dried off, a towel round my head and my bathrobe on, and sat down in a chair in the bedroom. I swear I only closed my eyes for two ticks, but when I opened them, it was nearly twelve noon.

Easy Come Easy Go

Part 22 Dozen (264)

by Bonzi Cat

I had a head like a bucket with hair like straw. I had to damp it all down again and style it. Damn, I was going to be late now—all the things I was going to do and I did none of them. I got a bit angry with myself.

While still in this mood, I poked myself in the eye with a mascara wand. It was neither a pleasant sight nor experience. I ranted and raved running around with a sore eye and a total mess of my eye makeup.

Eventually, I calmed down and realised that my pink fit had lost me even more time. That nearly set me off again, but instead some sort of cognitive override function came into play. It was weird because I could almost hear my mother standing behind me and saying loudly, “Catherine, we’ll have no more of that young lady.”

Unfortunately, she never did say it to me, but it felt as if she would have done in a parallel universe. I shivered as if someone had stepped on my grave, then went back into the bathroom to see what mess I’d made of my face. I stripped all the makeup off with one of those impregnated tissue things, not that I wear much makeup, but there was some liner and mascara, some brow pencil and blusher. I hadn’t done my lippy, so that was okay.

There was a tiny red mark in my eye, so I’d got off lightly and I apologised to the universe, parallel or otherwise for flying off the handle. I was sure it was stress or tiredness but it was certainly unladylike, more fishwife and some sort of apology was necessary before the universe could get back into equilibrium.

I nearly sniggered at my rank hubris, but that would have had similar outcomes to the previous attack on my corneas. So I took a deep breath and thought of what I could take Stella. I finished my makeup—the ophthalmic injury was barely noticeable. I had decided I would get Stella some chocolate, after all, if I was getting fatter why shouldn’t she?

I dressed in a skirt and my ancient but favourite red boots, a red top and popped on some red jewellery. It was more bling than jewels, red beads and earrings, with some red plastic bangles on my right wrist. A quick squirt of smellies and I grabbed my coat and bag and left.

I drove into Tesco on the way to the hospital and in their cafeteria had a baguette and a cup of coffee, the tea is not to my taste. I followed it up with a banana, but that was on the way back to the car. I had a bag bulging with fruit and chocolate.

Just as I was loading my purchases in the car, some lad riding a bike came past and yanked my handbag off my shoulder. I was so taken aback, I let it go. My stomach flipped, there were all sorts of things in there, keys, cards, money. Fortunately, my car keys were in my pocket and I jumped in the car and set off in pursuit.

Two minutes and some very reckless driving, later, I spotted him riding down an alleyway that displayed a ‘no cycling’ sign. I knew where that came out, so I hammered around to it and got there just as my little robber came out, minus my handbag. It didn’t stop me mounting the pavement and taking him and his bike for a ride they didn’t intend.

He rolled along the pavement and I jumped out and grabbed him. “You thieving little swine, where’s my bag?”

“Uh what?”

I was so angry, I was working up to breaking each of his bones individually. I grabbed him by the lapels of his coat and hoisted him up against a wall.

“I’ll ask you once more before I start breaking your thieving body.”

To my surprise he wet himself. I continued to scold him and threaten him, when finally he walked back to show me where he’d dumped my bag, over a wall. I made him climb over and get it.

I was astonished he didn’t try to run off, but he didn’t, he was so shaken up by my attack. He handed me back everything he’d taken and I let him go. The car had a scratch on the front where I’d hit his bike. He had a few scratches, as well as wet jeans, and his back wheel was buckled. He had to carry his bike back to whichever stone whence he had crawled.

It was now half past two, it wasn’t my day. I drove on to the hospital as I tried to allow the adrenalin to disperse, so I seemed beset by every homicidal maniac with a car in the Portsmouth area. It did nothing for my patience.

I got to the hospital, took out a mortgage to pay for the parking and sorted through the boot to collect the scattered fruit and confectionery which my earlier drive had thrown all over.

I picked up a few of each thing and put them into the bag to carry up to the ward. When I got there, I was just about to enter when the nurse called me.

“Lady Cameron, there’s a doctor in with her at the moment.”

I swore under my breath and the nurse gave me a filthy look. I smiled guiltily at her.

“He hasn’t long gone in there, why don’t you grab a cuppa in the restaurant?”

“How long is he likely to be?”

“I have no idea.”

I swore again, and then thanked her before going up to the cafeteria. I had a reasonable cup of tea, which was the only pleasant surprise of the day so far.

It was after three when I returned to the ward and was about to enter Stella’s room when the nurse intercepted me again.

“I’m sorry, but I think he’s still in there.”

My temper was now reaching ignition point. “What! What is he doing in there, a total bloody rebuild?”

With that the door opened and out popped a head, “Can you keep your…  hello Cathy, come to see Stel?”

“John, are you visiting or here officially?”

“Nah, just saying hello.”

“Come in Cathy,” called Stella from within the room.

He held the door open for me before saying to Stella he’d see her again. He then left.

“If I’d known it was him, I’d have been here half a bloody hour ago.”

“Who’s pinched your dolly?”

I sat down after taking off my coat and related the story of the day so far.

She laughed and groaned with me as I recounted my paddy in the bathroom and gasped as I told her how I regained my bag.

“Gosh Cathy, you took a chance knocking him off his bike.”

“I know, I could have damaged the car, but I just clipped him enough to bring him off.”

“You could have killed him, what would you have done then?”

“Had to look over the walls myself for my bag.”

She gave me a look of disbelief, “What? You’d have left him lying there, dead in the road?”

“Nah, I’d have dumped the body over the wall first, then the bike, then found my bag after strip searching him.”

“You silly bugger! Remember your official status, you could be sent to a male prison.”

“Oh sh… ugar!” I sat down and felt my whole body shake. It was some time before I got control of myself and was able to talk again.

“Did he get the number of your car?”

“I don’t know, he limped off with the bike without looking back as far as I know. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t get it.”

“Maybe you’d better tell the police?”

“Oh hell, do you think so?”

“I dunno, up to you girl, but if you do then at least you got your version in first. With your connections, it should be okay.”

“I did stop at the scene of the accident.”

“Accident, you did it on purpose, girl!”

“Yeah, but it was an accident he survived!”

“You silly cow!” she roared with laughter.

We chatted and it was obvious that she felt better in herself. I asked her about coming home.

“I’m not if you’re going to beat me up and throw me over walls.”

“I promise I won’t do both in the same day.”

“Oh, well, that’s all right then.”

“I need to see Tom and find out if the house is back to normal.”

“What about the cottage?” asked Stella.

“I think it’s finished but it’s a bit remote compared to Tom’s house.”

“I suppose it is. I can’t see me getting out of here for a day or two anyway.”

“I’ll go and see Tom on the way home.”

“You don’t know if he’ll be there.”

“No, not for sure, but it’s quite probable. He’s bought himself a new telly and he wants me to set it up for him.”

“What? Tom has spent some money?”

“Insurance I expect, his old one got shot.”

“Got shot! You are joking?”

“No. You know they attacked his house and tried to kill us?”

“No, no one has told me that.”

I told her the story—well, edited highlights—I didn’t say much about the bow.

“They came and shot up his house?”

“He did help, with his shotgun.”

“Oh my giddy aunt! I’m glad I wasn’t there.”

“Yeah you’d probably have been in the way.”

“And you weren’t, missy?”

“Nah, I accounted for three of them,” damn, I hadn’t meant to say that.

“How did you take out three of them?”

“You know, a door here, a chair there.”

“You mixed it with the Russian mafia?”

“Yeah, I did at the university if you remember?”

“So you did, which was why they kidnapped me!” she glared at me.

“How do you know they weren’t going to anyway, and then they’d have had both of us?”

“Hmm, that’s true. Next time it’s my turn to beat them up and yours to be abducted.”

“Gee thanks Stella, maybe I’ll just leave you here for a few more weeks, unless they transfer you to an old people’s home.”

She picked up a grape and hurled it at me.

Easy, Westy, Northy, Southy Part 265

I left at the end of visiting at eight. Stella seemed far more settled. She’d seen Dr Redhead again and his therapy was helping. She tried to explain it all to me, something about right-brain, left-brain and integrating it. I’ll stick with real science, you know, counting beans, or in my case, dormice.

The reason for going early was to see Tom, I’d called him and he said he’d be home and would I have time to look at his new telly, he was having trouble setting it up. I told Stella and she laughed.

“You said you’d have to set it up for him.”

“He can’t work the timer on the video, I have to do it for him even though it’s got that number code thing, Video plus, or whatever they call it. He still can’t do it.

“He has a new computer at work and he can’t use it properly. They got him one with Vista on it, and he complained so much they brought him an older one with XP. Can’t say I blame him. I still have to sort things for him or Pippa does, especially if it’s word processing or emails, he is hopeless.”

I got there about half eight and he welcomed me in. He made some tea while I had a look at his new flat screen monster. I always think they distort people, they look shorter and fatter like one of those fairground mirrors, but come the world track racing championships, I may overlook the distortion if I can watch them at Tom’s.

It seemed easy enough and the bloke from the shop had installed it, so it got all the terrestrial channels plus all the free view digital ones. It seemed really easy to use but he was having problems.

He showed me what he was doing and I was able to sort it very quickly. His remote was one of those ones that control everything. He was pressing the video end and waiting for the telly to alter. It wasn’t that well marked so he felt better about that.

I drank my tea and ate a couple of biscuits. I seemed to be off my food at the moment, which if I lost some weight, may not be all bad news except I bet it’ll be off my boobs!

“So Tom, are you going to allow the refugees back into your house given they caused it to be damaged before?”

“I don’t know, it’s rather nice to be able to have my house to myself.”

“Oh, okay, I’ll make arrangements to take the rest of my stuff away.” I felt this flip in my stomach.

“Fine,” he said.

“I’ll come and get some of it tomorrow.”

“Okay, I’ll be in work of course, all right for those with elastic sick notes.”

“Tom, have I done something to offend you?”

“Yes, you have.”

“Please tell me what it is, so I can make amends.”

“You spend several months here with Simon and Stella treating it like your home, but have to ask if you can come back, when I told you at the beginning you could stay as long as you wanted.”

“I didn’t like to appear to be taking you for granted.”

“This old place has had more life in it than since my daughter left home. It was lovely to have company, and such good company and you have to ask if you can come back?”

“Yes Tom, you are too special to me to ever take you for granted.”

“I suppose I should be grateful for that, but I want you to. I want you to treat me like an uncle, or extra father figure. It is so lovely to think that someone needs me again, apart from those spotty kids at the university.”

“Uncle Tom, I suppose this is your cabin.” I winked at him.

“Very funny.” He kept a straight face and I couldn’t read his body language at all. I really didn’t know what he was thinking, and I felt very unsure.

“Tom, I feel very uncertain with you tonight. Normally, I know what you’re thinking, or at least how you feel about what you’re saying. Tonight, it feels different.”

“In what way?”

“I don’t know.”

“It’s thirty years since my girl died.”

“What, today is the anniversary?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, Tom, I am sorry.” I went to sit with him on the sofa.

“Before you were born, but I can remember every detail like it was yesterday.”

“Do you want to tell me about it?”

“Not really, it’s a long time ago and I should be over it by now.”

“Why should you? Losing a child is a terrible trauma—some people never get over it.”

“You’re the expert, I take it.”

“I didn’t mean it like that. Tom, you are like an extra father to me, although I have one already, albeit a not very useful one. I would love to help fill some of the role you miss from losing your daughter, but I wouldn’t have the arrogance to try and take her place.”

“Just by being here and bringing some vitality to the house, you already bring back part of my sense of purpose.”

“But you have a university department to run, and the mapping project, doesn’t that give you purpose?”

“In part, but not in my home life, which at the end of the day is more important than work. If I died tomorrow, they’d replace me in work. Here I hope I’d be missed by my friends.”

“Oh Tom, I’ve been so busy looking after Stella’s needs, and my own which seem endless, I have overlooked yours. I am sorry.”

“That’s what daughters do, Cathy, especially these days, they live for themselves and that’s a good thing, rather than being tied to their aging relatives, as in my generation.”

“But you are important to me. I want to care about you.”

“I know girl, and I know you do care. I care about you, too, and those terrible siblings who follow you around.”

I found myself beginning to cry, and he put his arm around me and I cuddled into him. There was nothing between us except a mutual love and respect.

“It’s more than thirty years since someone cried in my arms.”

“I’m sorry, Tom.”

“Don’t apologise, it’s lovely. I actually feel needed emotionally.”

“You’ve been so good to me, ever since I came to Portsmouth. I can’t thank you enough.”

“No girl, I’m grateful to you, I’m actually living again, not just going through the motions.”

“It’s I who should be thanking you,” I sobbed.

“Just think how far you’ve come in such a short time. It really isn’t that long ago I met you in town and we had tea together. My first meeting with Cathy.”

“How can I forget? You saved my life then, and have done so quite regularly ever since.”

“I saw something special in you and you haven’t disappointed yet.”

“Special? You mean my gender thing?”

“No, Cathy, there is something special about you. I can’t put my finger on it, but you are like a catalyst, things happen around you.”

“Yeah, like gun fights and mayhem.”

“No, that is the negative element which perhaps balances the positive. You have an enormous capacity to love. Everyone who meets you falls under your spell, you charm and captivate them.”

“You’re joking?”

“I’m not, Cathy, I am deadly serious, you are a remarkable young woman, and you should use those gifts for something far more important than counting dormice or squirrels.”

“But dormice are important to me.”

“I know that, but I wonder if you could do more for them by seeing the bigger picture.”

“I don’t understand what you mean.”

“With your research and the mapping project we can build a case for environmental protection. Anyone with half a brain can do that bit, especially as you devised the protocols, they just have to get off their arses and walk their squares and tick boxes.”

“So?”

“Interpreting the data is a bit harder, but that’s what I’m there for.”

“So don’t I have a role there anymore?”

“I’m coming to that. Once the data is produced, it needs someone to sell it to the others, to politicians and the public, to industry and commerce. You are that person, Henry recognised it, which is why he wanted you for his bank.”

“He just wanted to keep things in the family.”

“No he didn’t, that picture is charming customers going to his bank. They have had to reprint the posters and leaflets once already and donations are already over a million pounds.”

“Who told you that? Henry I suppose? I wouldn’t believe much he said.”

“He sent me a copy of the bank’s own committee’s findings on the first four months of their environment project.”

“I still don’t believe it, not if Henry is involved.”

“He wants to endow a chair at the university.”

“He what?” I sat up and my head went quite dizzy. “I thought for one minute you said Henry wants to endow a chair.”

“He does, one for the protection and enhancement of the environment and all its little furry and feathered things.”

“Hence his dormouse and squirrel accounts.”

“No, that’s just a gimmick. The conservation stuff is quite real and he wants you…”

“I can’t be a professor in a chair endowed by my pa-in-law!”

“If you’d let me finish, he wants you to act as the spokesperson. You’re too young to be a professor, you need a PhD and a beard.”

I laughed and so did he.

We had some more tea and I ate some toast and bit of his extra mature Cheddar. Simon sent a text to say he wouldn’t be home, too busy.

“So why don’t you stay here tonight?”

“I suppose I could, thanks Tom.” While I ate my toast and cheese he went off and came back with a bottle of red wine.

“You can have a drop without worrying about driving back to Southsea.”

I had two glasses and dropped off to sleep like a baby.

Easy As Falling Into Bed Part 266

by Bonzi Cat in the original Miaowish

translated by Angharad!

I awoke at the sound of the front door closing; Tom was either getting the milk in, or going to work. Moments later, the Land Rover coughed into life and I knew he was off to work.

I was glad we’d had our chat, it was nice to consider him like a father figure and one who had been so accepting of my changeover. I know that generally universities are pretty good at accepting people who are different, but even so, to practically adopt me—that is something else. I guess I loved him almost as a daughter does.

Thinking about his daughter, he never says anything about her and I wondered if I could find anything in the local paper archives. I know she died in a car accident, least I think that’s what Mary had said. I was so busy then with my own thoughts, I probably didn’t listen as well as I should have done.

Why do I want to know? More than pure curiosity, I hope, though I can’t actually say what. Maybe it is just curiosity, in which case isn’t he entitled to his privacy? I mean what if she died from drug use or suicide? That would be awful. I think I’ll live with the uncertainty and perhaps one day he will tell me, least if he thinks I need to know, he will.

I got up, washed and dressed. Half my wardrobe was here, so I had plenty of choice. I hadn’t worn jeans recently because they hurt me in a place which is still healing, so I slipped on a skirt. People will think I’m going all girly—ha me, girly! Erm, okay, so I am, what of it?

I made myself an egg on toast and checked my emails with Tom’s computer. There was nothing urgent, so I washed up and went off to Southsea. An hour and a half later, I packed up all our stuff and lugged it down to the car. I thanked the staff for their kind attention and asked for the account.

“There is no account Lady Cameron.”

“What about the meals I ordered and telephone calls?”

“They are all in, the cost is absorbed by the hotel.”

“So can I leave a tip for the staff who looked after me?”

“That is not necessary either, those who look after the family get a bonus.”

“Henry thinks of everything,” I sighed.

“There is one thing you could do Lady Cameron.”

“What’s that?”

“Leave us a good comment in the visitors’ book.”

“I think I can just about manage that.” He handed me a ‘VIP Visitor’s Book.’ It’s mindboggling, how can I be a VIP? I’m just an ordinary Jo. Okay so I’m not so ordinary, but you know what I mean.

I looked over some of the other comments, so mine would be in keeping with the form used. In the end it was going to be so bland, I changed my mind and wrote, ‘My stay here was enhanced by the care and attention of a super set of staff, who met my every need almost before I had articulated it. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to friends, nor would I hesitate to commend the restaurant, whose food is a danger to health—a danger you’ll eat too much of it, it is so good. Catherine.

The manager looked it over and smiled broadly. “Thank you, Lady Cameron, you’re very generous.”

“I may need to stay here again,” I said winking, “I want to make sure I get the same level of attention.”

“You will, of that I am sure.”

I thanked him and left for Tom’s house. On the way, I bought some stewing beef and vegetables for a casserole and on reaching the farmhouse, carried in the cases and then got the meal on. I popped it in the slow oven of the Aga, knowing it would be ready for this evening, hopefully filling the house with the aroma of good food. The casserole was big enough to put potatoes in and a few dumplings, not that I like them myself, but would be willing to bet Tom and Simon did.

Then I unpacked the cases and after a light lunch went off to the hospital. Stella was in good mood, she was getting stronger all the time and it was showing.

“So when can you come home?”

“Got room in the car today?”

“What? Of course I have and there’s a beef casserole in the Aga.”

“Oh bugger!” she exclaimed, “That means I’ll have to cancel my night out with the women’s wrestling team.”

“Can’t you do that and go out with the men’s tomorrow?”

“I suppose I could, what’s for dessert?”

“Pineapple roulade.”

“Nah, too fattening, I can’t make it tonight.”

“Suit yourself,” I sneered.

“I will Little Sister, I will. Now peel me a grape.”

“Go take a running jump!”

“Sadly they won’t let me do that yet. So you’re back at Tom’s?”

“We all are, from today.”

“Oh okay. He’s okay with the fact that you trashed his house?”

“I didn’t actually damage his house at all. It was all the others. I didn’t fire a shot the whole time.”

“Only because you didn’t have a gun.”

“Very true.”

“So what else did you have?”

“Who said I had anything?”

“Someone, a little birdie who shall remain nameless, suggested something about Robin Hood.”

“Who?”

“Don’t gimme that. You know bloody well who I mean.”

“This is Portsmouth, you know, Nelson and all that. Robin Hood is Nottingham, Sherwood Forest. I know, I’ve seen the film.”

“What, ‘Men in Tights’?”

“Nah, well yes, but also the one with the Bryan Adams song.”

Prince of Thieves?”

“That’s the one, dreadful film.”

“It was, but I love the bit where he fires two arrows and shoots two things at once.”

“Stella, that is absolute rubbish, you can’t do that with a bow, they’d fly off anywhere.”

“How would you know?”

“I’ve tried it, it was dangerous and I nearly got kicked out of the Toxophily Society.”

“Get you, Toxo whatever, sounds like a bacterium. So you know about bows and arrows then?”

I began to see where this was heading. “I shot the odd one in school, why?”

“Did you shoot a gun then?”

“A gun, ugh! No I’ve never fired a gun, why?”

“So a bow and arrow would be a preferred weapon to you?”

“You’ve been watching too much Ironside, or was it Perry Mason?”

“Answer the question yes or no.”

“No. I mean no I won’t answer the question, I want to plead the fifth amendment.”

“That’s American, you dummy, you can’t do that over here.”

“Well if you’re getting all Supreme Court on me, I felt it was equally appropriate.”

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the accused has refused to answer the questions, which could indicate a degree of guilt. I suggest that you hold that in mind when finding her guilty.”

“Hang on, you don’t advise a jury to find someone guilty.”

“I’m prosecuting counsel, yes I do, doubly so because you didn’t recognise Rumpole. So before I pass sentence, have you anything to say?”

“Pass sentence, I thought you were prosecuting counsel.”

“I am, and judge and jury.”

“How can this trial be fair, if you’re doing all that?”

“Easy, simple multi-tasking, remember I’m female.”

“Implying I’m not?”

“Not at all, you’re the accused, counsel for the defence and a whole load of witnesses.”

“Oh, can I add one more?”

“Course you can, you’re a girl too. What is it?”

“Court of Appeal, and I just quashed your sentence.”

“I want a recount!” She poked out her tongue at me.

“You could always go to the House of Lords.”

“Not likely, Daddy’s probably there on the cross benches, he’ll find me a job to do.”

“He pays quite well in my experience.”

“Hmm, not me he doesn’t.”

“That’s not very fair, and I’d have thought Henry was a fair man.”

“I went into nursing against his wishes.”

“What did he want you to do?”

“Commodities broker.”

“Like Simon?”

“Sort of.”

“I can’t believe Henry wouldn’t support you in doing what you love doing.”

“He likes his own way.”

“But he’s been so nice to me.”

“Yeah, he fancies you.”

“He has no chance. Simon would kill him for starters.”

“That wouldn’t stop him.”

“I would never say yes, that will stop him.”

“We’ll see.”

“Oh geez, Stella, it’s bad enough fighting off Des, let alone your father. Maybe being a girl wasn’t such a good idea.”

“Not to mention Monica…” she began to laugh.

“That does it, I want to be a boy again…”

Easy As Purring On A Bed Part 267

by Bonzi Cat

(More Miaowish translated by Angharad)

As I drove back to Tom’s I could almost taste the stew, I was so looking forward to it. Stella’s banter had given me an appetite, or should that be, bantering with Stella had given me an appetite. My tummy growled and I patted it, almost telling it to be patient a little longer.

The traffic was heavy and driving in it was tedious to say the least. I got home and found it difficult to park: there was a plumber’s van on the drive. Considering what they charge for a call out, this must mean there was minimally a full-scale disaster, which meant the United Nations and Red Cross were on standby.

I went into the kitchen, from whence emanated voices. One was Tom’s. I presumed the other was the plumber and heating engineer.

“Hi Tom,” I hugged him and pecked him on the cheek, “What’s up?”

“It appears the Aga has had a major organ failure.”

“Oh no, I put a casserole in there earlier. I pulled open the slow over door but it was empty. I gasped, surely Kiki hadn’t managed to get hold of it?

“I think what you want is over there,” said the man in a boiler suit pointing to the table. My casserole was there and cold. It was six pm. If I whacked it in the fan oven it might be done by eight. I did exactly that.

“How long will that take, Cathy?” asked Tom.

“Two hours at least.”

“Okay, I’ll have a biccie.”

I flipped the switch down on the kettle and asked the plumber if he wanted a cuppa.

“Is the Pope a Catholic?”

“Which Pope are we discussing? Benedict, or John Paul II, because I have this theory right, which is backed up by scientists at NASA…” It was total bull, but I thought I’d enliven his life a little. …Anyway, because of the nano-particles and sub atomic radiation, mostly in the ultraviolet spectrum, the last four Popes have been imposters working for the CIA.” I beamed and hoped he didn’t ask me to repeat any of it.

“You’re taking the piss, ain’tcha?”

“Who, me? No, I desperately want my Aga repaired so I can have my boiled egg and toast soldiers each morning, which Tom brings me in bed every morning if I’ve been a good girl. Isn’t that right Tom?”

He went bright red and gave me a look that could have straightened rhubarb. Maybe I had overdone it a tad?

“Cathy, stop fooling about and make the bloody tea!” instructed Tom.

“But I forgot to mention the creatures from the ninth dimension of intergalactic parallel universes. Without that reference, none of it makes sense.”

“Tea!” barked Tom, and I stood to attention and saluted him, then boiled the kettle again.

“Is she like this often?” asked the plumber, disregarding that I was still present.

“Only when she forgets her medication. You should have seen what she did with the milkman. Mind you we get all sorts of discount now.”

I poured the hot water onto the tea bags and blushed. Tom had got his own back and how.”

“Well the parts for this are not going to be cheap, plus the labour, it’ll take at a least a day. So what sort of discount might you be looking to get with your little friend’s help of course?”

“My nympho granddaughter? No, I think we’ll spare your blushes and probably your life. The first milkman croaked, it was the second who gave us the discount.”

“I’ll have a mate with me.”

“I’m trying to wean her off it, it is working, slowly.”

“She’s quite a cracker, inshe?”

“Oh I think so, hence the chastity belt.”

“You what?”

“I got her a chastity belt, the key is in the bank deposit box. So you’re quite safe.”

“Chastity belt? You’re pulling my leg, innyer?”

With that, I turned around sharply with a tray and three mugs of tea and it hit the plumber on the arm, causing all three to cascade their contents over his waist and below.

He stood absolutely still for a moment, then began this funny dance, pulling at his clothes and swearing, occasionally at me. In two minutes, he was down to his rather shabby boxer shorts and he was splashing cold water over them.

I left the room and ran up to mine, afraid I was going to laugh. It was a pure accident, honestly! Oh well please yourself. I’ll bet if he does the job and I offer him a cup of tea, he’ll say no.

I heard his van drive off and Tom came up to my room. He knocked and entered.

“I’m disappointed with you, girl.”

“That was an accident.”

“It didn’t look like one to me.”

“Tom, I wouldn’t lie to you, it was a complete accident.”

“I’m still disappointed.”

“I’m sorry.” I hung my head in shame, I knew he wouldn’t believe me.

“You really do disappoint, do you know that?”

“So you said.” I kept my head down.

“Everyone knows the creatures come from the eighth dimension, ninth indeed!”

“What?”

“You heard.” He looked at me and sniggered. “I reckon if he’d been on Come Dancing, he’d have walked it with that funny jig he did.”

“You’re not angry with me?”

“It was an accident, he was getting closer to you to have a gawp down your top, so when you turned around he was in the way, his own fault. He admitted that after you left.”

“Will you give him the job?”

“Doubt it, the official Aga bloke is cheaper, believe it or not, and can do the job tomorrow. I just phoned him to confirm, I need you to be here to let him in etcetera.”

“Okay. Stella was nearly back to normal this afternoon, she could be home soon, I reckon.”

“Oh good, I do miss her about the place. Simon was popping in to see her on his way home.”

“Did you tell him about the stew?”

“Don’t be daft girl, any dumplings?”

“Yes I did some for you this time.”

“Oh goodie.”

I put some washing on while I waited for dinner. Tom made a fresh pot of tea and we sat and drank it in the kitchen. The ones I’d dropped had slightly marked the floor, I’d sort that out later, probably needed a mopping.

Tom decamped to his study after the cuppa, and I cleaned the floor. I wasn’t usually this house proud, but since coming back this time I almost felt a degree of ownership towards this house, because I’d lived here for several months. I felt more at home there than my father’s place.

I put on the bread maker and soon the smells emanating from the oven were blending nicely with those from the bread machine. Simon would be ecstatic as well as greedy later.

That night, he lay groaning on the bed. “God, I feel so bloated,” he sighed to me.

“Serves you right, you ate four portions of casserole and three quarters of the loaf.”

“You shouldn’t have made the two together.”

“No you shouldn’t have eaten all you did, that was pure greed. Serves you right.”

“My guts are really aching, Cathy.”

“You sure you’re not about to deliver twins, it looks big enough.”

“Where’s my sister? You are certainly no Florence Nightingale.”

“No she’s somewhat dead, and your sister is still on the receiving end of nursing care, remember? You were with her earlier.”

“Oh yeah, she’s coming home tomorrow. Can you collect her?”

“I have to wait for the Aga man to come.”

“Oh shite! I can’t do it, I have a big meeting.”

“So does Tom, professorial committee.”

“Can’t you nip out once the bloke gets here?”

“I’ll speak with the hospital tomorrow, now if you could groan more quietly, some of us are trying to sleep.”

Easy As Bathing Bonzi Part 268

by Ang(shredded)harad

Simon continued to grumble even in his sleep. He also broke wind fairly regularly. I almost felt like sleeping with my head out of the window—that wasn’t practical—but the next time I saw a gas mask in a junk shop, I thought I might buy it. In that night alone, I suspect he doubled the amount of methane in the atmosphere and I did wonder if we were at risk from explosion.

Somehow, when I finally awoke the next morning, it was to the phone ringing and banging on the front door, plus Kiki barking. The door was the engineer, the phone was Tom ringing to see if I was up and the barking was next door’s cat throwing it’s voice. Okay, I lied but you were thinking about it weren’t you?

I made the man a cuppa and more importantly, one for myself. I felt like I hadn’t slept for a week. But after a cuppa, it felt like it was only six nights. The Aga man seemed to know what he was doing, so I more or less left him to it. As he didn’t need to turn off the water or anything, I went and showered and got myself dressed.

I called the hospital to see what was what with Stella. They would probably discharge her after lunch; she had to see the consultant who was in theatre this morning. I nearly asked what play he was watching, but decided not to. Not everyone shares my sideways take on life, except maybe, Tom, Simon, Stella and half my university class.

I made some more tea and after giving some to the engineer chap, who now had Tom’s pride and joy in bits all over the kitchen, I went off and did some housework—I do occasionally. After a quick flit with the vacuum cleaner, called Dyson, I readjusted my ears. God it’s noisy but sucks the tiles off the floor let alone the dirt, and there’s carpet between the tiles and Dyson. I then did the ironing.

It was mainly Simon’s shirts, he does like to look bankerly, if there is such a word, it means clean and tidy and boring. Most of his ties are plain or with stripes. I did buy him one with a rather rakish spot pattern. I even got him one in a tartan, but he never wears them to work.

At times, I think Simon is more conservative than his namesake, who thinks he runs the Tory party, the one who rides through red lights and other cycling offences. By comparison, Dave the Chamaeleon, as the Guardian calls him, is positively radical.

Tom does most of his own ironing, which is practically nil, he hangs things up and any wrinkles left, he wears. Much of the time, if they are still damp when he hangs them, it works well. Stella does her own, some of the time, usually when her slave is too busy. As for my clothes, I do the other’s stuff first and whatever time is left over, I do my own. At uni, I wear whatever falls out of the wardrobe that will go with jeans. Or I used to, now the jeans make me sore, so I’m wearing skirts more than I used to. Seeing what I went through to be able to wear them, I suppose I should be glad I have the choice.

I checked my emails and then made myself some lunch, the bread maker had pinged to say it was ready and the Aga man succumbed to the smell of fresh bread and some Brie, with cherry tomatoes and pickled beetroot. I should have dilated, but not with a stranger in the house, tonight would do. It would have to; I think Tom had a mallet if I needed it.

After lunch, I asked the Aga man, whose name was Ken, how long he thought he would be. He told me two hours, so I went to get Stella.

She seemed back to her old self—she nagged and joked all the way back to Tom’s. I took her in and introduced her to Ken who was putting the Aga back together and about to try a test firing—I thought they did that with missiles—was this going to be the first Aga in space?

Taking Stella’s bag up to her room the silly thought entered my silly brain, Aga Ken, the Aga Ken. I sniggered to myself, he’d probably heard it before.

I started preparing the veg for dinner while Stella went up for a snooze, she had kept the engineer amused while I sorted out her washing.

“So are you the professor’s daughter?”

“Sort of,” I said and his eyebrows raised. “I’m a colleague of his but our house was damaged and we’ve stayed with Tom while it’s being renovated. He took me under his wing a couple of years ago and has been like an extra father, so I respect him like one. He’s a lovely man.”

“Oh the post came while you were out.”

“Oh thanks, I ordered a book from Amazon, so that’s probably what it was.”

“No, they always have Amazon written all over them, it’s something else. Are you Lady Catherine?”

“Sort of.”

“What for real?”

“Sort of.”

“Eh?”

“I am engaged to Simon who is Lord Cameron, Stella is Lady Stella Cameron. When I marry him, I become Lady Catherine. Some people have jumped the gun and call me it already. I don’t correct them because it only confuses the issue, as I will eventually bear the title.”

“Ah, I see. I’ve seen you somewhere before haven’t I?”

Here we go, the dormouse juggling was about to get a mention. I busied myself with peeling cabbage and shredding potatoes. I kept my back to him not to assist in his recollection.

“I’ve got it. My bank.”

“Your bank? I didn’t know you owned a bank.”

“No, it’s you on the poster for the environmental stuff the bank does, you’re holding a dormouse. It is you, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, it’s me. I advise the bank on matters biological.”

“Oh good, my wife always admires your suit.”

“Oh the YSL one.”

“The what?” He looked up from screwing some nut and bolt together.

“Yves Saint Laurent, French dress designer.”

“No wonder she likes it then, she hoped it might have been from Next or Topshop.”

“’Fraid not, but I do have some Laura Ashley stuff, you can get that on the high street.”

“Not on my pay.”

“Oh, I see. She doesn’t work then?”

“She does when I get home. We have two kids, so she goes off shelf-stacking in Tesco when I get home.”

“Still, every little helps,” I said suddenly realising that it was a Tesco jingle. Advertising was obviously better than I thought, especially as I watched so little telly.

“Yeah, I suppose it does.” He fired up the Aga and it worked. He checked out the ovens and they seemed to be working. “There you go. Get the professor to call if there’s a problem, it’s all guaranteed.”

I thanked him and gave him a bottle of wine to take with him. As he left he asked, “That wasn’t you in the clip with the dormouse was it? Going down the front…”

“That suit, yes. Do you realise if I got the Nobel Prize, they’d still go on about the dormouse clip?”

“I think they said it had received over two million hits, the clip I mean.”

“If I’d been a bloke, it wouldn’t have been quite as funny, would it?”

“Nah, unless it went up or down your trousers.”

“Yeah, I suppose.”

I went back in and busied myself with cooking the dinner, now Stella was home, she was going to get as fat as I was, I’d make sure of that.

Easy As Falling On A Bike Part 269

by Angharad (Bonzi is out—hee hee!)

As I cooked the meal, I felt so much happier that my favourite cooking device had been fixed. Things cooked in an Aga just taste better. Tomorrow, I would slow roast a leg of lamb with rosemary and mint dressing.

The kitchen felt much warmer too, which was good, it had felt strangely cool last night, mind you that was good training for sleeping with my head out the window.

I was turning the fish under the grill when Stella appeared. “Where’s the engineer blokey?”

“Finished.” I smiled broadly, “Everything works again,” I pointed at the saucepans on the top plates.

“So I see.”

“You could be more enthusiastic, Stella.”

“Sorry, was thinking about something.”

“Oh, that’s unusual for you,” I said not exactly meaning how that sounded. What I meant to say was, ‘It’s unusual for you to brood on things.’

“No, I think all the time,” she said with irritation, “which is why I don’t keep making stupid statements all the time.”

I considered myself chastised, however, I would retaliate, the next time she needed something ironed, I wouldn’t be available.

“What’s for tea?”

“Salmon.”

“Smells good,” she seemed to be wanting to move on so I left the previous remarks behind and concentrated on the present.

“Does it, I suppose it doesn’t permeate everything like Tom’s curries, but it is his house.”

“What is?” asked a male voice.

“Hi Tom,” I said and he came in and hugged me and I pecked him on the cheek.

Looking at Stella, he said, “My goodness, we have a visitor, you must introduce me to this beautiful young lady, Cathy.”

“What that old trout?” I winked at him and he glowered at me. “Oh her, that’s my future sister-in-law, assuming she doesn’t kill me before I marry her brother.”

“That’s quite possible, unless your cooking gets me first!” she riposted.

“Touché,” I said and began switching into attack mode.

“Ladies please, can we call a truce. I’ve had an awful day and a quiet evening would make me feel much more relaxed.”

“Oh dear, what happened?” I asked.

“A university is apparently more about money than excellence. We are plcs* not academic institutes. I was this close to telling them what they could do with their bloody plc.” He held his thumb and forefinger about half an inch apart.”

“But you generate quite a bit of income,” I said feeling sad for him.

“Yes, but it isn’t enough. They want us to make more.”

“I’ll have to do that film with Des, won’t I?”

“Only if we get some of the revenue from it.”

“I assumed you would.”

“Probably, but it’s all up in the air anyway until the BBC or whoever, says how much they will pay for it.”

“What about royalties? Lots of their stuff gets shown all over the world.”

“Yes but they then own it. They might sponsor the programme or arrange to buy it after viewing.”

“What if they change their minds?”

“With you writing the script and appearing in it, I don’t think that’s an issue.”

“I’m happy to write it if I have the time and to be the expert adviser. I’m not so sure about appearing in it.”

“Cathy, remember what we were talking about last night?” Tom looked quite serious.

I shook my head and looked suitably blank.

“About looking beyond the small arena.”

“Arenas? We didn’t mention anything about arenas.”

He looked exasperated and Stella switched the kettle on. She would have turned it on, but not in front of Tom.

“Do you remember what we spoke about yesterday?”

“Yeah, waiting for the Aga man.”

“No, about where I thought you should aim for the future.”

“Oh the bigger picture thing?”

“At last!” he shook his head in disbelief. “Some days I wonder if you have a twin sister.”

“She has, me!” beamed Stella.

“I don’t think so, Stella. Nice try.” Tom was patient with both of us.

I certainly didn’t want him to tell me again that he thought I was special. I’m not, I’m just the girl next door with bike and a way with dormice.

“I tried to explain to Cathy why the bank, and Henry in particular, hired her to be their adviser.”

“He fancies her,” offered Stella.

“I think it’s a little more than that. In fact I spoke to him this morning and he confirmed it.”

“What, that he fancies her?”

“No, Stella, that Cathy has special qualities.”

“Like what, being good with a bow an’ arrow?”

“No, but maybe the courage that caused her to do that, is one of them.”

“She’s got bal…, I mean she used to have them, I mean… Oh shit!” Stella blushed a beautiful crimson, which clashed with the green top she had on.

“Cathy is a master communicator. I saw her hold an audience of journalists in total thrall.”

“That was Spike. I was just there to stop her swinging on the chandeliers.”

“I thought she did swing on them, just after she went out of camera shot.” Tom smiled wickedly at me.

It took me a second to process what he had just said and I blushed even redder than Stella had. She sniggered and enjoyed my embarrassment as much as I had hers.

“What is a thrall, when it’s at home anyway?” asked Stella.

“It’s an ancient word, probably Norse, which means to hold power over someone, as one would a slave. Nowadays, with the exception of the public sector, slavery is largely extinct in this country, so it means to hold someone in total fascination—like an orator does with an audience.”

“Yep that’s me, ‘zero-rater’,” I said smirking.

“Cathy, if you are going to continue to be so silly, I’m not prepared to discuss it further. But I tell you, if you don’t make that film a success, we may not have a department once the survey money runs out.”

“What! That’s ridiculous, we are bringing in money all the time and producing good graduates.”

“Not compared to Chemical engineering, their patents are worth several million.”

“Oh!” I felt completely flat, then smiled to myself, “I bet they don’t get two million hits on YouTube!” Everyone fell about laughing, they knew what I was on about without me even having to say.

*plc = public limited company.

Easy As Biking In The Fall Part 270

by Bonzi Cat (translated by Angharad)

Simon had arrived quite a bit later and I cooked his fish with some rice and veg. I was trying to get him to lose some weight as his waistline was expanding faster than the Chinese economy. I also knew I’d have to control my own eating or I would put on too much weight. My bust had increased, but so had my belly and hips. Much more and I’d be too fat to borrow Stella’s clothes and that wouldn’t do.

Later that night, I think I had just drifted off, listening to Simon’s version of the 1812 played on a lawn mower, when I heard a shriek. I woke abruptly and lay absolutely still. There was a second and I ran into Stella’s room. She was sat up in bed crying, her head in her hands.

“What’s the matter, Sis?” I asked, sitting alongside her.

“I don’t think I can cope with this.”

“With what?” I asked gently.

“They won’t let us go.”

“Who won’t, Sis?”

“Those Russians, how did you get past them?”

“On my bike, it’s invisible, that’s why it’s called Specialized, it’s special.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Nor do they.”

“You won’t let them hurt me, will you?”

“Of course I won’t. Look, you lie down and go back to sleep and I’ll watch out for you.”

“Okay, thanks.” She lay down and was back to sleep in moments. In fact, she had been asleep the whole time, her eyes had been shut and she had accepted my preposterous story about the bike. It might be invisible at the speeds Tom Boonen rides, but not me, the plodder.

Once I was sure she was back to sound sleep, I went to get off the bed and she called me in her sleep. I got back on the bed. It was getting cold and I hadn’t brought my dressing gown with me, so I improvised. “Shove over girl,” I said quietly but firmly and got in beside her.

I must have fallen asleep because I awoke with a head on my breast and a hand draped across my stomach. I also discovered that Stella doesn’t snore, she clicks. It was just as irritating as Simon’s snoring and I had just about learned to screen that out; the clicking was a new one.

After watching the clock for half an hour and having Stella snuggle up to me even tighter, I was too warm and becoming a little fed up. I managed to get her to roll over on to her side and cuddled into the back of her. The clicking stopped, thank goodness, although she had sort of protested in her sleep until she felt me cuddle her.

I’d never really slept with a girl before and was somewhat self-conscious of where I was making contact. In some ways, the absurdity of my situation made me want to laugh. Here I was a biological male of twenty-three years never having slept with a biological female before, but then before Simon, I hadn’t slept with a male either and still hadn’t had sex with anything other than a couple of pieces of Perspex. Yes, my life was certainly different.

As I watched my life unfold in my mind’s eye, I felt myself want to blush and laugh alternately. I had a hand on Stella’s waist and was spooned into the back of her—this was crazy. I wasn’t in the slightest attracted to her in a physical sense, I hoped she knew that. I loved her but as my sister, and it was that love which was causing me to give up my own bed now. I hoped she would understand if she woke up and found me here.

I felt myself blush again, and turned over to my opposite side—our backs were now touching. She whimpered quietly, and a moment later was tucked into my back, her hand around my waist. I was too warm really, and the damned click was back, but I decided to tough it out. Three o’clock was the last occasion I recall seeing the time before I must have nodded off myself.

I awoke feeling someone squeezing my tummy, pulling me into them. For a moment I wondered if it was Simon, except his hands are bigger, then I realised where I was and with whom.

“Someone’s been sleeping in my bed,” said a quiet voice behind me.

“Yeah, I must have gone sleepwalking.”

“You tried that one once before, in the cottage.”

“Well at least you didn’t scream this time,” I said, looking at the clock. It was just coming up to nine.

“Are you a lezzie then?”

“No, are you?”

“No, course not. You’re the one who’s in my bed.”

“You don’t remember anything about last night?”

“No, why?”

“You had a bad dream.”

“Did I?”

“Yes, you screamed and I came in to check on you.”

“That was nice of you Little Sis. What else happened for you to get into my bed?”

I felt a bit uncomfortable about this, not sure why, but I did. Was she mocking me? “Well every time I went to go back to my own, you started crying again.”

“No! I wouldn’t have done that.”

“Okay you didn’t, I’m either lying or deluded, but either way, I’m getting up.” I threw back the clothes and she held on tightly to me.

“Stella, I’m trying to get up, I need to wee.”

“Did I really cry?”

“Do you think I would make that up?”

“No, not really,” her answer sounded diffident.

“Look, I didn’t get engaged to Simon so I could end up sleeping with you, even if there is more room in the bed.”

She laughed a little at that but I also heard her sniff. I pulled away again and this time she let me go. I went out to the bathroom.

I really didn’t know what she was thinking and it worried me. I didn’t care if she was gay, except it didn’t interest me, she was my sister and I loved her as such. I wondered about Monica for a moment and was about to think, like mother like daughter, when I remembered she was the wicked stepmother.

I threw on my dressing gown and went off to make some tea. After drinking a mug of the hot fluid, I took one up to Stella. She was curled up in the foetal position and crying quietly.

“Hey, what’s the matter?” I said sitting on the bed and putting her drink on the bedside table.

She didn’t answer for several moments, silently sobbing to herself. I rubbed her hair gently making, what I hoped were supportive noises.

“I’m sorry, Cathy,” she sobbed.

“What for?”

“You came to help me and I embarrassed you.”

“When was that then?”

“Just now.”

“I can’t remember it,” I said, pretending to have amnesia.

“I’m sorry.”

“There’s no need, I didn’t take offence, because I didn’t think you meant any.”

“Of course not, I am silly. I wait for twenty odd years to have a sister and when I get one, nearly drive her away.”

“I can’t believe you have such a poor opinion of me,” I offered her with a look of hurt on my face, which genuinely reflected my feelings.

“Oh, I don’t, Cathy. I think you are wonderful. Tom was right last night, you are special and I think I might just be a tad jealous.”

“Nah, he was referring to my new bike, Specialized.”

“He wasn’t, Cathy, he was talking about you. Why do you find it so difficult to believe good things about yourself?”

“Why did you think I was in your bed for the wrong reasons?”

“Touché. I’m sorry.”

“I didn’t lie to you, Stella. You were having a bad dream…”

“I know, you came to protect me from the Russians, I have a sort of fuzzy memory of it or something like it. You said you came on your bike, didn’t you?”

“Yes I did.”

“Can you forgive me?”

“I already have, now what about breakfast?”

EAFOAB Part 271

by BC&AaG

Breakfast was a little embarrassing, with Stella and I blushing every time we made eye contact. When she had finished and was going up to dress, I grabbed her and gave her a huge hug. She initially tensed, then I felt her body relax. In fact, she began to cry.

“Stella we have to get through this. Both your ordeal and what happened last night.”

“But nothing happened last night.”

“That’s what I mean. Nothing happened, so why are we behaving as if it did?”

“I don’t know, it’s not as if I wanted it to.”

“Nor me, I can’t cope with Simon.”

“Don’t tell me you’ve taken his virginity?” she squealed.

“Eh? He’s not a virgin is he?”

“I dunno, I just can’t see him getting it with any of the girls he seemed to date, unless he parted with loads of cash.”

“I can’t believe I’m the only woman who finds him attractive.”

“Maybe not in the entire universe, just on this planet.” Stella smirked as she spoke and disentangled from my embrace.

“Yes you two are siblings, all right.”

“I’m not the weirdo who finds Simon attractive,” she snorted.

“Oh come off it, he’s actually quite a good looking bloke, especially if he lost a few pounds. He seems to have gained weight since I’ve known him.”

“Your cooking.”

“Oh dear, I had a horrible feeling you were going to say that.”

“It’s true to some extent, you don’t usually do sweets, so that’s an advantage. He just stuffs all the savouries.”

“I was thinking I need to get him on a diet, I mean Henry is in good shape.”

“Daddy takes his appearance very seriously—can’t be a roué with a paunch.”

“I suppose not. Want to do something today?” I asked her.

“Not really, no energy, oh and I have to see Dr Redhead later. Could you take me?”

“I suppose so, I’ve nothing else planned. What time is the appointment?”

“Half past eleven.”

“Shall we get some lunch afterwards?”

“Could do, although I might not be very hungry afterwards.”

“We’ll play it by ear then. I’ll bring a book with me.”

“What, Cycling Weekly?”

“Oh that’s an idea, it came yesterday.” I beamed a thank you at her, I’d forgotten all about it.

“Most women I know read Cosmo or Marie Claire, my sister reads Cycling bloody Weekly!”

“Or Lance’s book.”

“Aaarrrrrrghhhhhhhhh!” screeched Stella and bashed herself on the head.

I had obviously said something which exasperated her, but I couldn’t think what—doesn’t everyone read such things?

I popped the dirty dishes in the washer and switched it on, then went up to shower. An hour later, I was back down taking the dishes out and putting them away, only now, I was dressed and ready to go out.

Stella arrived looking very smart. I was in a skirt and top and she was in a designer trouser suit. “Just remember, you are not allowed to seduce your therapist.” She poked her tongue out at me.

I drove her to the hospital and we parked up, maybe the bank should try for the franchise for these parking meters. I’d spent a fortune on them over the last week or two.

I accompanied her to the psychology department and waited reading my magazine when she was called. I was deeply into my magazine when a finger pushed the journal down. I looked up in surprise.

“It’s erm, Simon Cameron’s girl, isn’t it?” said a tall young man.

I looked at him, he was vaguely familiar. “Sorry, I can’t recall you, are you a friend of Simon’s?”

“It’s Kevin, from the garage.”

The memory came flooding back, that Kevin! I felt myself blushing like a stop light. “Sorry I don’t think so,” I lied and he knew it.

“Let me remind you,” he said and before I could say or do anything, he kissed me on the lips.

Once again I felt his animal lust and it sent electric shocks through me. I felt my panties getting moist again.

“Oh! I leave you for two seconds and you’re seducing half of Portsmouth,” boomed Stella across the waiting room.

“You didn’t join the cycling club then?”

“Erm, no not had much time, too busy with work and things.”

“You will, don’t forget now.” He turned on his heel winked at Stella and left.

Back in the car she kept on about it. “I don’t know Cathy, you have my brother, then his mate Des and now the garage man, all after you. What am I doing wrong?”

“As they seem to flirt with me, what am I doing wrong?”

“He was quite a tasty bit of rough though, wasn’t he?”

“Well if you join his cycling club, I’m sure he’d be happy to get better acquainted.”

“Only to get to you through me,” said Stella with disdain.

“I thought you were a manipulative, scheming female?”

“Yeah, so?” she snapped back.

“Well, aren’t you supposed to manipulate and scheme for him to fall madly in lust with you?”

“Not after he’s done so with you. I may be desperate but I don’t want your cast offs.”

“My what! I’ve only met him twice and on both occasions he’s forced himself upon me and stolen some kisses.”

“I didn’t see you pushing him away.”

“It was rather a shock,” I said blushing yet again.

“What him kissing you or your enjoyment of it.”

“Him recognising me, he’s only seen me once before.”

“Jeez, what do you do to these guys? They seem entirely in your thrall, as Tom said before, an’ he should know, he’s one of them.”

“What!” I gasped, “Tom is like a father figure to me.”

“Only because you wouldn’t contemplate what’s in his mind.”

“What do you mean?” I was blushing even more.

“Cathy, if you need me to spell it out, it’s you who needs the therapy—for a learning difficulty!”

She embarrassed me all the way to the restaurant where Tom has his lunch most days. He was already there and didn’t see us enter.

“These seats taken?” I asked and he looked up and smiled broadly at us.

“Cathy, Stella, what a gorgeous surprise, in fact two gorgeous surprises. Do have a seat, what can I get you to drink?”

“It’s my round Tom,” I said and walked off to the bar. I got Stella a red wine, Tom a half of Guinness, he’d already had a pint and would be asleep all afternoon. For myself, I got a soft drink.

I got back to the table and Tom said, “I’ve ordered you a tuna salad, is that okay?”

“Fine, thank you.” I passed the drinks around.

“So what have you pair been up to?”

“Our necks Tom, our necks.” I blushed as I spoke.

“Speak for yourself you floozy.”

Tom looked at her in a questioning way.

“I leave her at the waiting room while I go to see the shrink and she’s tongue wrestling with a total stranger when I come out. Not only that but when he leaves she has this far away look on her face.”

“Oh dear, does Simon know?” said Tom shaking his head.

“She is lying through her teeth,” I said pleading with my eyes.

“Am I, indeed? I only know what I saw and you were busy eating each other’s faces.”

I blushed even more and wanted the floor to open and swallow me. Tom tutted and shook his head.

Easy For Some

Part 16×17 or 17×16 (272)

by Wassername ’n ’er Cat

The salad was brought to the table, although I felt as much like tipping it over Stella as eating it. I was still blushing as she tucked into her Spanish omelette.

The conversation returned to more mundane things and my embarrassment lightened a little. I didn’t eat all my salad, my appetite had dwindled and Stella looked at me and the plate.

“Eat it all up or you won’t grow up to be big and strong.”

The first response that flashed through my brain was two words, the second of which was ‘off,’ the former deriving from old English. Instead, I ignored her.

“Not hungry?” asked Tom a few minutes later.

“Not really.” I pushed the plate towards the waitress who had arrived at our table.

“Was there anything wrong with it, madam?”

“No, I’m just not hungry today.” She nodded at my reply.

“I suppose I’d better get back to work,” said Tom picking up the bill.

“Isn’t it my turn to get that?” I challenged.

“When you’re my age yes, until then pipe down, besides you didn’t eat anything.”

“I think I’ll pop in and look at the dormice.” I said and noticed Stella wince. Of course it was where she’d been kidnapped. “Maybe another day,” I felt irritated. She had teased me all morning because of that stupid garage bloke but I had to respect her problems going near the university! Damn her.

I drove her home and decided I would go back to the university. “I’ll see you later then,” I called as she got out of the car.

“What? You’re not coming in?” she looked panic-stricken.

“What for, you’ll be okay for an hour?”

“I don’t want to be on my own, you promised me, Cathy.”

I had no idea I’d promised her anything, but she seemed to think I had and was getting extremely agitated. I pulled on the handbrake and got out of the car shutting the door less than quietly.

“I’m sorry, Cathy, but I get scared on my own.” There were tears in her eyes and I felt very guilty. At the same time I was still annoyed with her.

“It’s okay,” I said opening the door whereupon Kiki came bounding to meet us. “Shit!”

“What’s the matter?” she whimpered.

“The dog should be in the conservatory. Wait here,” I hissed at her. I grabbed Kiki and gave her to Stella to hold, along with my handbag. I quietly picked up a walking stick from the stand by the front door and went to search the house.

Each time I went into a room I tried to do something different, I pushed one door wide open, at another I tried to look through the crack of the door. A nerve-racking five minutes later I was back at the front door, there was no one there nor had there been, one of us had simply not shut the conservatory door properly. I hoped these red alerts would fade with time.

“It’s okay, false alarm.” I said and took Stella’s arm; she hugged me like her saviour and burst into tears. “It’s okay, we must have left the door open.” She was worse than I thought, so much for psychologists.

I settled her in the lounge and made her a cuppa which seemed to calm her down a little. She started yawning and I suggested she go up for a nap. Reluctantly she agreed.

A few minutes later I was letting Kiki out into the garden when there was a blood curdling scream from upstairs. My blood froze and the hairs on my neck stood on end, I shut the door and locked it, then dashed up the stairs as quickly as my skirt would let me. I burst into her room expecting to have to deal with at least a dozen hoodlums.

Stella was stood shivering by the window, she pointed at the bed, upon which a large female Tegenaria was walking. She was frightened of spiders. I wanted to laugh, but that would have been a little insensitive, “Open the window,” I instructed her. She stood looking like a dummy, “Open the bloody window!” I exhorted again and this time she did so, whereupon, I scooped up the offending arachnid in my hands and dropped her out the window.

“Okay now?” I asked closing and locking the window. She nodded and burst into tears again. I hugged her and finally she stopped shaking. I had never understood arachnophobia, but then I was a biologist, albeit one who doesn’t like rats. Hope I never meet Big Brother, because I share the same fear with Winston Smith who eventually was taken into room 101.

“Thank you,” she said very weakly and sat down on the bed.

“You going to be okay or do you want me to stay?”

“I’ll be all right, I’ll shout if I’m not.”

“Right, I’d better get Kiki in,” I could hear her barking at something. I looked out the window and saw her lunging towards and retreating from something. I assumed it was a cat or fox, then I saw a foot with a shoe. Then the leg attached to the foot kicked at her and she dodged and kept barking. “There’s someone out there, lock this door and don’t let anyone but me in, use your mobile if I’m not back in two or three minutes.”

I dashed into my room and pulled the bow from the bag in my wardrobe. Grabbing my quiver with six or seven arrows in it, I pulled that over my shoulder and assembled the bow as I ran down stairs. I tensioned it at the bottom of the stairs and loaded an arrow, which I held together with the string in one hand whilst I silently opened the door.

I lifted the bow into firing position and drew back the string, then rushed towards the place I’d seen the leg. Kiki was still barking and before me stood a youth.

“Facking hell, Maid Marion!”

“What are you doing here?” I demanded.

“What’s it to you?”

“I have seven arrows, how would you like to be kebabbed against the fence?”

“You can’t do that, this is England, not friggin’ Agincourt.”

“Don’t tempt me kid, I shot three people here last week, two of them in the head.”

“What! You’re taking the piss, you can’t go around shooting people with a bow and arrow.”

“Wanna bet?” I said and drew the bowstring a little more tightly, his face blanched.

“What’s happening, Cathy?”

“Call the police, we have an intruder.”

“I ain’t done nuthin’,” he protested.

“Too bad, just don’t make any sudden movements.”

“Cathy, behind you!” screamed Stella.

I jumped and spun around as somebody rushed at me, he knocked me over and then he and his friend decided they were going to give me a kicking.

The one who’d knocked me down walked towards me and I managed to get a foot behind his leg and one in front, he fell quite heavily holding what was probably a nasty fracture.

“You bitch, you’ll pay for that,” his little friend spat, and ran at me stopping as the bow made contact with his crotch. He made a funny noise and went very pale, giving me enough time to roll over and get up. He rushed at me again, but I sidestepped and he fell on top of his friend. I put the bow in the house and awaited the police.

When I came back, the ambulatory one had climbed back over the fence, leaving some of his trousers behind and his friend was in the act of hobbling over it. I let them go, expecting to hear from the police with regard to an assault and threatening with a dangerous weapon. Peculiarly, they didn’t come.

I ran back up the stairs once I’d got the dog in and locked the door. “Did you call the police?” I asked Stella.

“My battery’s dead.”

I nearly said something very unkind, then realised if she hadn’t stayed at the window she couldn’t have warned me, and then I might have been in bother.

“You handled that very well,” she said, hugging me.

“Not really, I should have seen the other one as well.”

“What, that was neat, rolling and tripping him like that.”

“I should have broken his leg. I must be losing my touch.”

“For a girl, you’re quite a scrapper, aren’t you?”

“As a wimpish kid, I had to learn how to defend myself. Why didn’t they just run instead of looking to fight me?”

“I don’t know, maybe they saw a pretty woman and thought… I dunno, a pushover, or even a rape. I don’t know.” She shrugged her shoulders.

“I hadn’t even thought of that, ugh!” I shuddered and looked out of the window. It was getting dark. It was perhaps, as well that I had stayed instead of going to the university, Stella would not have coped on her own, and I suspect, burglary was the motive for our two uninvited guests. I hoped that was all, and I also hoped they wouldn’t be back. I gave Kiki some dog biscuits for raising the alarm, even if she hadn’t been much help beyond that.

Easy Whizzy Let’s Get Busy

Part CCLXXIII (273)

by Angharad with improvements by Bonzi Cat

Author’s note: This episode contains scenes of mental illness.

I prepared the leg of lamb and popped it in the oven, not the slow oven as I’d intended, but the top one. It would still taste pretty good in two or three hours time, but my intentions had been distracted by the trespassers and Stella’s fears, which were like panic attacks.

I’m a biologist not a psychologist, so dealing with counting beans is fine, post traumatic thingy is not my scene at all. It pushes my buttons for some reason, probably because I need to feel in control. Given my childhood, I suppose it wouldn’t be surprising if I was stuck in the anal stage.

Thinking of my childhood made me think of a good idea. I’d take Stella up to Bristol with me. I could arrange a meeting with Des, and she’d be there to act as official gooseberry. I’d ask her when she came down from her nap.

Kiki had eaten her biscuits and got them all over the kitchen floor—how many crumbs can one Bonio produce? On the evidence, about half a skip load. “I’ll shoot you,” I said to her, whilst sweeping up the mess, she wagged her tail and licked me—ugh! I know Tom lets her lick him, but I don’t like it. I washed the wet off my hand and got on with the veg, parboiling the spuds before putting them in for roasting. The carrots were next, and I made carrot sticks, which I put in a dish with butter and put in the oven. This meal was not going to short of animal fat—better get some exercise soon.

Everything was under control in the kitchen, except possibly Kiki, nothing new there. I decided to nip out to the garage after changing into some trousers and see if I could tolerate a bike saddle. Thankfully the garage has a light in it, so I pulled the bike, the Scott, near to the wall lifted my leg over and standing over the cross bar, thought, ‘here goes.’ With that, I gently eased my bum onto the saddle and leaned against the wall with my left hand. It wasn’t too bad. It was now about six weeks since the op and it was, I suppose, about the time they say one can risk sex, not with a bicycle however. With a ladies bike, would that be lesbianism?

I smiled at my silly thought and back pedalled for a couple of minutes, it wasn’t too bad, given that I wasn’t wearing cycling shorts with the thick chamois, which is actually a gel pad these days. In those it should be easier. So I needed someone to babysit Stella while I found a few minutes to try a short ride. My fitness would be zilch, anyway.

I felt quite pleased with myself as I walked back to the house, having triple-locked the garage—there was over eleven thousand pounds worth of bikes in there. I walked into the house and a distraught Stella came rushing out to me.

“Where were you?” she shrieked.

“Out at the garage, just calm down.”

“I thought you’d left me.”

“I wouldn’t do that, and you know it.”

“But you did. I came down and you weren’t here.” She was nigh on hysterical.

“I told you where I was.”

“You weren’t here, you weren’t here.”

“Pull yourself together!” I said firmly, probably about the worst thing I could have said, because if she could have done, I’m sure she would have done. However, I was a bit tired of being blamed for everything, even if she was verging on mental illness.

“Don’t you think I would if I could? How could you leave me here on my own?” She was now ranting at me.

“Be quiet.” I said. She was getting on my nerves; I’d had a hard day too. She continued her screaming at me.

“BE QUIET!” I shouted and she stopped for a moment then went back to her tirade.

“FOR GOD’S SAKE, SHUT UP!” I shouted as loudly as I could. Kiki ran for cover and Stella actually cringed and fell silent, her body heaving with shudders as she sobbed.

“That’s better,” She went to speak again, and I hushed her. “Now, no one has left you alone, and I shut the front door so you’d be safe. I was in the garage checking out something with my bike. You are perfectly safe, so just relax. I’ll make some tea.”

I walked past her and switched the kettle on, getting out two mugs while it boiled. I was frightened by the way she was, and wondered if I’d cope with it much longer, wishing it wasn’t my problem.

Knowing she’d made me angry, she followed me, but at a distance. I suppose I was the stronger party at this moment and she was keeping me happy. I felt so inadequate, nothing had prepared me for this. It seemed ironic that Stella had been one of the most self-sufficient and confident women I knew, and look at her now! It was awful.

Simon and Tom would have to help me with her. I couldn’t cope on my own, I’d be as crazy as she was. No that wasn’t fair, she wasn’t crazy, she was ill. The ordeal she’d undergone had brought this about, and I hoped, only temporarily changed her and soon we’d have the same old Stella back again. If I met those monsters again, the ones who’d done this to her, I would show them the same sort of mercy—none.

I hoped Simon would be home tonight, I needed to talk with him about her, we needed help, professional help. Knowing him, he’d have her shipped off to the nearest Priory Clinic, which whilst it would provide a solution, I wasn’t sure was the right one.

I was caught on the horns of a dilemma again, do I do what’s best for me, or what I believe is best for Stella, after seeking medical advice?

I sat down and put the teas on the kitchen table. She had stabilised and was breathing normally. “Dinner smells good,” she said, smiling at me.

“Yes, roast lamb.”

“Oh yummy,” she said sounding like a schoolgirl. “I’m sorry I made a fuss.”

“That’s okay, it was a misunderstanding.”

“You won’t have me locked up, will you?”

“Why should I?” I lied, wondering if she was a mind reader.

“You know, my little scene out there.” I could see tears filling her eyes.

“Stella, you are my sister, I’m here to help you as much as I can, because I know you’d help me if the positions were reversed. You frightened me a little while ago, it took me by surprise. Now just trust me, I won’t leave you alone again unless there is someone suitable like Simon or Tom here to stay with you, okay?”

“You want to lock me up, don’t you?” The tears were streaming down her face.

“I just told you I don’t want to lock you up. I want you to get better.”

“Who were you talking to out there?”

“I was in the garage, on my own. I was fiddling with my bikes.”

“You were talking to them, weren’t you?”

“Who?”

“Them, the police. They’re going to section me, aren’t they?”

“Stella, please calm down, I have spoken to no one since our uninvited visitors left, except you and the dog. I do not want to see you hospitalised, but if you don’t calm down you’re going to put yourself into one.”

She stood up and flung the tea at me, “I knew I couldn’t trust you. You’re one of them.” She ran out of the kitchen and up the stairs, slamming her bedroom door and locking it.

I went upstairs and tried talking to her through the door. She yelled back obscenities at me and accusations of wanting to get her locked up. As I came downstairs, there was part of me which agreed with the latter suggestion, she as beyond my capability. I called the hospital and asked for someone to call me back.

About half an hour later, just as Tom was coming in, the phone rang. I answered it. It was the duty psychiatrist. I explained the situation and he said she needed to be hospitalised and given intensive therapy.

Whilst I couldn’t argue with the Indian sounding gentleman, I wondered if she couldn’t be treated at home. He didn’t seem to think so. I thanked him and told him I would call him back if things got worse. He wasn’t too impressed with me by the tone of his voice.

I spoke with Tom who was standing, with his eyes getting ever larger as he listened to the one-sided conversation. I brought him up to date with the two yobs and how she had gone to pieces while I was in the garage. He immediately went up to speak with her. I phoned her GP.

I just caught him before leaving his surgery and because he knew her well, he agreed to call by and see her. I hoped he could give her a shot of something to calm her down.

I tended the dinner, which was going to be a treat, but which I now didn’t feel like eating. Tom was sitting outside Stella’s door when I took him up a cup of tea, she wouldn’t let him in, but her voice from the other side of it reassured us she hadn’t tried to hurt herself.

“Let me try,” I said and he gestured to the door.

“Stella, it’s Cathy, would you like a cup of tea? I’ve just made a pot.”

“Go away.”

“Do you remember how you helped me when I was first with Simon, where once or twice I thought I wanted to be on my own, but you came and spoke with me and helped me through it?”

“So what?”

“Well I owe you one, and I’d like to help you like you helped me.”

“You’re not a nurse.”

“No, but you are. You could teach me.”

“Why should I?”

“Because I might be able to help others. Remember how we tried to help Stevie and his family? We sort of did in the end. I’d like to be able to do better next time.”

“Join the Samaritans* then!”

“Stella, I want you to teach me.”

“Why?”

“Because we’re sisters, remember? You’re my elder sister. I need you to teach me things.”

“What do you want to know?”

“Lots of things, I need you to show me how to use…” my mind went blank, what could I get her to show me, so she had to open the door, “body language. Yes you know, non-verbals.”

“What for?”

“Well, they say we communicate much more by non-verbals than we do by words, I need you to teach me about that, because you’re much better at it than I am.” This was hard work. I suddenly thought the doctor would be here in a minute and sent Tom down to let him in.

It went very quiet the other side of the door and I heard the lock click, I muttered a thanks to a God I don’t believe in and the door opened.

“Where’s that tea?” she said, and smiled at me.

* Samaritans—a charity who help people who feel desperate or suicidal.

Easy As Flying On A Bike Part 274 I think

by Super Bonz & Angharad (on a broomstick!)

Author’s note: This episode contains scenes of mental illness.

Stella and I came downstairs just as the doorbell rang, Tom went to answer it and I took Stella into the kitchen.

“Who was that at the door?” asked Stella.

“Dunno, probably someone for Tom. Do you want some tea first or do you want to eat?” the veg were done except the greens, which I dropped in the pan.

“It smells delicious, shall we eat?”

“Sure, can you watch the pan a moment, while I find out if we have another mouth to feed?”

She agreed, and I went and invited the doctor to dinner. He reluctantly agreed to my scheme that he came by to see her after she’d been discharged from hospital. He would also stay for dinner after Tom bragged about my cooking. I blushed and wished he’d kept his mouth shut.

“Who was it?” asked Stella as I came in to make the gravy.

“Some doctor bloke Tom knows. I don’t, didn’t quite catch his name, you may know him as you’re in that line.” I tried to sound casual and relaxed. If she thought I was trying to trick her she’d kill me, resuscitate me and kill me again.

I quickly made up a sponge mixture and poured it on top of some chopped apple, then popped it in the oven, from which I took the leg of lamb. It looked and smelled delicious.

I made some gravy while Stella whipped some cream for the dessert. When the veg was cooked, I placed stuff in the dishes and put them on the heated trays on the dining table. I quickly laid the table while Stella opened a bottle of wine and poured some mint sauce into a dish. Then I took the meat through and called in the two men, asking Tom to carve.

“Ben!” exclaimed Stella, “What are you doing here?” to her GP.

“See I thought you might know each other,” I said innocently.

“I’d heard you were in hospital and we got the discharge letter today, so I thought I call by and see how you were.”

“A likely tale, did Cathy or Tom call you?”

“I had never met him until this evening,” I blagged.

“No we have never met before,” confirmed Ben.

Stella looked at us both very suspiciously. Then at Tom, who shrugged his shoulders, in a nothing to do with me gesture.

“Why the suspicion?” asked Ben.

“Oh nothing,” said Stella, “I just don’t believe in coincidences.”

“Oh, they do happen you know…” he went on to tell her about some event he attended, I steered everyone to the table and Tom began carving the meat.

To cut a long story short, we all ate and drank far too much. Poor Simon, when he came home the cupboard was bare. I had to make him scrambled eggs on toast.

Tom and I were chatting about the survey and Ben and Stella decamped to the lounge. She had relaxed after a couple of glasses of wine and seemed to be telling Ben about her anxieties.

Simon arrived about an hour later and thankfully he didn’t want much to eat, so I made him the scrambled eggs I mentioned before. We chatted in the kitchen, him eating and me loading the dishwasher. I kept looking out in case Stella arrived as I hinted at what had happened.

Later he talked with Tom and they agreed between them to have a barbed wire attachment above the fence, right around the property, Simon was going to pay for half of it. Tom thought he knew someone who could do it quickly.

Finally Ben and Stella emerged from the lounge. “I’m going with Ben,” said Stella.

“What, you eloping?” said Simon.

“No, I’m going into a clinic for a few days for some psychotherapy.”

“Oh, have you packed anything?”

“I’m going to do it now,” she answered.

“I’ll come and help.”

“I can manage Cathy.”

“I know, I just want to make sure you don’t pinch anything of mine,” I joked and wanted to go with her in case she decided to lock herself in her room again, which of course she knew. However, she let me go with her.

“Isn’t Dr Redhead going to be disappointed losing his favourite patient?” I asked.

“No, he suggested it, Ben rang him.”

“Oh, as always I’m the last to hear anything.”

“You’ve been a real sister for me,” she hugged me, “I don’t know what I’d have done without you.”

“You’d have found a way, I’m sure. You’re one of life’s copers.”

“Am I?”

“Yes you are Stella.”

“I’m glad you called Ben.”

The alarm bells rang. “Who said I called him?” I felt myself get hot.

“He did, why?”

“He’s mistaken.” I was lying but I felt she was probing me.

“But you did, didn’t you?”

“Why would I do that?” I pretended to look in the wardrobe, “What are you taking then?”

“I know you did, and I’m going to kill you.” I looked into the mirror and she was advancing on me with a kitchen knife. Her eyes looked very strange, almost as if she was possessed.

I twisted and grabbed her wrist and she wriggled and spat and swore and screamed. I wrestled her to the floor, holding on to the wrist with the knife, while she screamed at me like a banshee, writhing and kicking and scratching at me.

I kept shouting at her to stop, she was calling me all sorts of name and accusing me of, ‘wanting her out the way’. Quite why, I didn’t stop to ask. Finally, someone downstairs heard the noise we were making, like two cats fighting and helped me subdue her.

My wrists were scratched and I had some scratches just below my left eye. I also had a cut on my left hand, from the knife. Ben gave her a shot of something and we waited for an ambulance, Simon helping me put together a bag for her. My face and hand were stinging and I suspected my groin might need a check up, from her kneeing me. I hoped she hadn’t split any of the stitches. She sat quietly weeping in a chair.

“Are you sectioning her?” Simon asked Ben.

“Not yet, I want her evaluated, and I’ve arranged for Dr Redhead to come and see her this evening. I’m doing this privately, is that okay?”

“Yeah, no problem. Can she discharge herself?”

“Theoretically yes, but in practice no. It’s fairly secure, but I don’t want her sectioned in case it gets on her employment record, so we’re keeping this informal. I suspect this is the stress of her ordeal coming out.”

“Stella, I didn’t want this to happen, please believe me. I love you as my sister and I want you to get well.” I stood in front of her feeling so guilty.

She stared at me with a coldness in her eyes. “I hope you die!”

“I’m sorry you feel like that Stella, but I still love you.”

She looked away from me and I felt tears roll down my face. I knew it was her illness but I felt as if I had betrayed her. Maybe I had.

The ambulance, a big estate car arrived and Stella was led out by a nurse who had come in it. She was emotionless as she left, refusing to speak or hug any of us. I felt Simon’s arm around me, he squeezed my waist and I leant against his shoulder.

“I want my Stella back, Simon,” I said as I burst into tears on his shoulder.

“Yeah, Babes, so do I, but you did the right thing.”

“She was going to stab me,” I began to shake and he escorted me back into the house. “She wanted to kill me.” The shock was coming out and I was shaking like an aspen leaf. Tom handed me a glass of brandy and I sipped it. It didn’t really help, but I took it, until it fell out of my shaking hand and smashed on the floor.

Simon embraced me in a monster hug and carried me off to bed.

Easy Come Easy Go Part 25×11 (275)

by Angharad (Bonzi as body double)

Simon carried me up to the bedroom and laid me on the bed. I was still crying. I couldn’t believe that Stella had attempted to hurt me, let alone kill me. Surely that was down to her illness, she wouldn’t hurt a fly normally. My face was stinging and I remembered that was the result of her nails. She really had meant it.

Simon was trying to wrap me up in the bedclothes and I managed to stop him. “I need to shower, Simon, I need to wash this away.” I knew I never would. I had betrayed my sister, the only person I loved as much as Simon. I could never wash that away any more than I could wash away the fact that she had attempted to kill me. If I hadn’t stopped her, she would have killed or badly injured me. It was too much and I burst into tears again.

Simon comforted me and although I felt exhausted I needed to wash myself as clean as I could. I stripped and walked naked to the shower, my clothes just dropped on the bedroom floor. I ran the water in the shower and stepped into it. Part of me wanted to punish my body for betraying my sister, by running the shower in cold or too hot water, but I managed to stifle the urge.

I don’t know how long I was in the shower, longer than normal—letting the water wash away some of the shame I felt. Then in a moment of calmness I realised that I was as strange as Stella, had I caught her madness? A chill ran through me and my body went all goose bumps.

I dried myself, and put on the nightdress that Simon had thoughtfully left out for me. I roughly dried my hair and entering the bedroom saw Simon lying in bed, reading. Bless him, he’d tidied up my mess of clothes.

I snuggled into bed, against his warm, masculine body. He put his arm around me. “Thanks,” I said and kissed him.

“You’re welcome.” He kissed me back, then he began to kiss me with more passion. I kissed him back, our tongues darting in and out of each other’s mouths. He began to stroke my breasts and I groaned in pleasure. I so badly wanted him, it hurt.

He continued to torment my body with his ministrations, pulling off my nightgown and kissing and suckling my breasts until I was almost crazy with desire. I stroked and rubbed his manhood with my hands and also ground my crotch against him.

Suddenly he was leaning on one hand and I felt a pressure at my groin, he was entering me. My eyes opened wide in surprise and shock, it bloody hurt!

“You’ll need some lubricant, darling,” I gasped as he tried again. He nodded, got off the bed and was back two ticks later. I felt him rub something on my crotch and massage it in with his fingers, it felt good, soooo good.

Then finally, he caressed and kissed me all over and tried again. I’d gone off the boil and this time it just hurt, he did manage eventually to penetrate me, this time my gasps were pain, but he couldn’t tell the difference and eventually groaned himself and I felt him discharge inside me.

I hugged him tightly because I loved him and because it stopped him rubbing a very sore part of me. Finally he shrank to nothing and slipped out, leaving a slimy trail behind, he rolled off me and I grabbed a handful of tissues and ran into the bathroom.

I washed myself in the bidet, there was some blood. It didn’t exactly surprise me. Like the rest of the day, it had been something of a disappointment. I pulled on some panties and put a pad inside them, then redressed in my nightie.

Snuggling against Simon, who had nodded off to sleep, I cried silently until I fell asleep.

Easy As Reading The Karma Sutra

Part 23 Dozen (276)

by Bonzi (Angharad too embarrassed)

I awoke long after Simon had left for work—it amazed me how he seemed able to get to work no matter how much sleep he got. I needed at least six hours or I was rubbish. I had had ten hours and awoke with a bladder telling me things urgent. I just made it before making a mess. God, I was sore and decided a warm bath would be in order. However, to make it really therapeutic, I went and made myself a cuppa.

By the time I came back with my tea, the bath was half full and at pretty well the right temperature. I poured in a little antiseptic to the water and swooshed it around. Then I got in, after putting my tea where I could reach it easily.

I was so sore down below, but the bath did ease things and I slooshed water against myself several times. I hadn’t bled a lot but my lack of dilation and Simon’s enthusiasm, plus Stella’s knee, all added to the bruising I was sure was developing. I made a mental note to use some Arnica when I got out of the bath.

As I sipped my tea I pondered on last night. What had made Simon revoke his pledge to marry a virgin? A sudden thought sailed through my mind, that he still wants to, but it is no longer me? I decided we needed to talk.

Last night’s disaster was as much my fault as his. I was up for it. Perhaps I should rephrase that, he was certainly up for it! I was in for…, maybe I’ll just say, I was as interested as he was except we forgot the lube and the second time around, it wasn’t so interesting for one of us. I hope it isn’t going to hurt like that every time, or he’s going to need a concubine, because I’m afraid the negative feedback will seriously damage my libido.

I finished my tea and patted myself dry, God it was sore. Maybe I could join a convent somewhere. I wore an old skirt with the softest, oldest knickers I could find and the softest panty pad I could find too. Walking was not much fun but neither was sitting. I called myself a ‘wimp’ but it really was very tender. I decided I probably wouldn’t go for a bike ride tonight.

After fiddling about and suffering, I called Mr O’Rourke’s secretary and asked her to ask him to call me back. After I thought about it, I was pleasantly surprised when he did, because I didn’t really expect him to.

He asked me to be at his clinic at three that afternoon. I was pleased that I had bathed. I’d had no breakfast and lunch didn’t seem terribly inviting, so I simply drank some more tea. I’d taken the Arnica and used a cream on my you know what. It was a tiny bit easier, but I was still vowing celibacy for the future unless I could get an epidural before sex every time!

Two o’clock came and I set off for the hospital, stopping to buy a Guardian on the way to read in the waiting room. Fuel was getting rather expensive and once I got better and could ride a bike to uni again, I was going to.

I parked up and paid my dues, another rip off. I booked in at the clinic and went off to read my paper. I kept yawning and could quite happily have nodded off if I could have found a comfortable seat—these were anything but.

Eventually they called my name and I went off with the nurse, was told to wait outside a room and sat there with my paper. This seat was no better than the previous one. I was still sore.

I read Polly Toynbee’s latest polemic, her writing was so passionate and I tended to agree with it much of the time. I hadn’t read it for ages, the paper, so that included my favourite columnists.

The great man poked his head around a door and called to me, “Hoi der Cathy, bring yer lovely self in here.”

How could I refuse such an offer?

I explained again how things were. I kept Stella’s involvement to a minimum, saying she’d booked herself into a clinic to work through some issues. He examined me.

“Dat’s got some awful bruisin’ and it’s sloightly torn in places.” All I knew was his exam was not very comfortable. He prescribed me some douches to use and a cream to help heal it. I also had to return in one week. I was to refrain from sex for at least a week—no problem there then—and start dilating as soon as things began to calm down. Just what I wanted to hear, I don’t think!

I drove home, getting some shopping for the evening meal on the way. I seemed to be turning into a housewife—part of me enjoyed it, part of me would be happy to get back to work.

At home I checked my emails and I felt myself blush when I saw one from Des. I opened it and wished I hadn’t.

Hi Cathy,
The bank is asking what progress we’ve made with the film. I told them we were arranging a meeting to discuss the script and shooting schedule. Can we sort a date ASAP?
love,
Des.
The good looking one 🙂

I wrote back,

Hi Des, things are a bit difficult here. Stella was abducted by Russian Mafiosi and is in hospital dealing with the PTSD it brought on. I’ll speak with Henry and see if I can get a stay of execution.
Cathy.

I called Henry’s office and left a message for him.

He called me back an hour later, just as I was cleaning some vegetables. ”Hello Cathy my darling, what can I do for you?”

“Has Simon told you that Stella is in hospital again?”

“Very briefly. Is there something I should know?”

“I don’t know if I’m betraying trusts here, but she tried to stab me yesterday.”

“What? Stella?”

“Yes Stella, my favourite sister-in-law to be.”

“What happened?”

“She was in difficulties yesterday, accusing me of abandoning her because I went out to the garage without telling her.”

“What garage, as in filling station?”

“No, Tom’s garage, I wanted to check something on a bike.”

“So you were still on the premises?”

“Yes, but because I wasn’t in the house, she got upset. I sent her off for a nap and called her GP who said he’d call by. He did and she accused me of sending for him. I denied it and the doc said he’d called by because of her discharge note from the hospital. She didn’t believe me, and finally attacked me with a knife from the kitchen.”

“Were either of you hurt?”

“No, just a few cuts and bruises.”

“Have they sectioned her?”

“Not quite, she’s supposedly a voluntary patient, but it’s a secure unit. She’s on suicide watch, too.”

“It’s worse than I thought. I’m busy all day tomorrow and I can’t postpone anything, this Northern Rock business has us all on our toes. I don’t suppose you could get in to see her?”

“Given what happened, I don’t know if that would be a good idea.”

“No, maybe not. Simon will have to go, or even Monica. If I send Monica down by train, could you drive her to the clinic?”

“Doesn’t she drive then?”

“Yes, a little too quickly for the local constabulary, she’s been banned for three months.”

“Doing over the ton then?”

“A hundred and forty.”

“What was she driving?”

“Her Porsche.”

“Oh! Let me know what time and I’ll pick her up.”

“Good girl, you’re going to be such an asset to this family.”

“As long as you don’t want grandchildren.”

“We do, oh yes, of course, you do have that little problem don’t you. Never mind, maybe we can find some for you to adopt?”

“Can we discuss that again some time? I think there are more pressing issues current.”

“Yes of course, well, is that it?”

“Not quite, look I’m under pressure from the bank to do this film with Des. Remember I am on sick leave and shouldn’t be doing anything work-related.”

“Oh of course you are. Leave it with me, I’ll grant you another month before we expect anything, how’s that?”

“That would be good, I have ideas for how to do this and have the draft of a plan which I’ll send to Des over the next few days.”

“Sounds good to me, darling girl.”

“Okay, Henry, I’ll look after Monica tomorrow. Can you remind her I’m not into women?”

“Oh yes, I’ll tell her to behave, or she’ll try to convert you.”

“I’m quite happy being a born again cyclist.”

I could hear him chortle before he rang off. I stood up from the chair and my sore bits twinged. Maybe I should go lezzie, it may not hurt as much! Nah, Simon and I will work things out, or I’ll get a chastity belt!

Easy As Falling Like Rain Part 277

by Bonzi (from the Miaowish by Angharad)

I finished preparing the meal and put it on to cook, mostly on autopilot. My mind was grappling with the idea that I’d be acting as taxi for Monica—how would I cope? Badly, if last time was anything to go by. I know Henry said he’d tell her to behave, but that doesn’t actually mean he will nor that she will listen to him.

I decided that if she starts anything, I shall object vociferously and determinedly. I wonder if Simon can get tomorrow off? Some determinedness, eh? Let’s face it, I’m a wimp when it comes to making a scene, I have to be provoked and then I go off on one. The problem is, I usually regret it afterwards. Oh boy!

I’d bought braising steak and was cooking it in a red wine sauce in the Aga. Well in a Pyrex casserole dish in the Aga, but I’m sure you all realised that anyway.

Tom came home first, I’d given up playing cook and left the meal to its own devices, I was trying to work on the film schedule, using the colonies that I’d been protecting or had set up. At least that made me think of what I was doing rather than tomorrow.

“That smells good, Cathy, you make an excellent housekeeper/daughter.”

“Thanks, Tom, it’s pretty well cooked itself. I spoke with Henry, and Monica is coming to see Stella tomorrow, and I have to taxi her about.”

“Doesn’t she drive herself?” he sounded quite surprised.

“Yes, but too quickly for the road system.”

“What do you mean?”

“She was caught doing twice the legally permitted maximum.”

“What, a hundred and forty?” he sounded like the scorer in a darts match.

“Yes.”

“What was she driving, a Porsche?”

“Yes.”

His jaw dropped, he’d been joking, but his guess had made a direct hit. In reality, he wasn’t guessing too wildly, because last year someone driving a 911 had been stopped doing over two hundred miles an hour.

He shook his head, “She’s rather silly.”

“Exactly,” I agreed. Then had a brainwave, “Tom, you don’t fancy coming with us tomorrow, do you?”

“Sorry, Cathy, I have a meeting.” He looked to be working out, which would be least enjoyable, I think coming with us had the edge on his meeting. Now I’d have to work on Simon.

A few minutes later I received a text from him,

“May b L8, gon 2 C Stel. Luv Si. xxx’.

That decreased the likelihood of him going again tomorrow. Oh pooh!

I checked the spuds and the carrots, they were cooked, so I dished up dinner for Tom and me. It had worked quite well. Tom was looking for seconds, I was looking for my appetite and a miracle. I found neither, and Kiki had most of mine.

“You need to eat, girl.”

“I had a big lunch.” I was lying, but then again, I was getting very good at it.

We chatted until at nine. Simon arrived and wolfed down his share, plus what was left over. “That was really good, Cathy, any leftovers?”

“You mean seconds?”

“No, I mean leftovers, I’d have taken them with me for warming up in the microwave for my lunch.”

“Not really, you’ve eaten it all.”

“Damn!” he cursed and looked at me as if I was to blame for not making enough.

“Don’t take that stance with me!” I said very firmly.

“Sorry Cathy, I just feel stressed. Stella isn’t very well.”

“Maybe she’ll be better tomorrow. Why not go tomorrow after a good night’s sleep?”

“She won’t; the doctors think it could take months.”

“Oh pooh! It’s all my fault.”

“How come?”

“If I hadn’t called the doctor.”

“She needed to be seen.”

“I still feel guilty,” I said, clearing up the dishes.

“That’s not fair,” suddenly voiced Tom. “You couldn’t have foreseen what would happen. Especially her picking up the knife. In fact, things could have been much worse.”

I shrugged my shoulders. They weren’t going to help me revel in guilt. “If I hadn’t called the doctor, this wouldn’t have happened.”

“You can’t know that,” said Simon.

“I’m not arguing with you two anymore,” I said a little more snottily than I intended. “I shall go up to my room.” I did, knowing Simon would be up ten minutes later.

An hour later, I’d nodded off and he woke me up! The man is a cretin, okay a loveable one, but still a cretin!

“So you have the delights of my stepmother tomorrow?”

“You woke me up to ask me that?” I said testily.

“I’m sorry, I thought you’d be awake waiting for me,” he winked and held up the lube. “See, I have thought a bit more this time.”

“You should have spoken to me before, Si, the doctor said no sex until further notice.”

“What, but why?”

“Because you split me in two last night.”

“Oh no, I didn’t did I?”

“I wouldn’t say such a thing for the sake of it.”

“No, I suppose not.”

“So you didn’t enjoy it?”

“Shall we say, I have high hopes in the future, I will.”

“You didn’t then?”

“In a word, no, but that doesn’t mean I won’t in the future.”

“I am sorry Cathy, the way you were moaning, I just thought…”

“I was squealing in pain, I saw the surgeon earlier, and he said I was all torn up inside.”

“Oh hell, I’m sorry, girl.”

“It was as much my fault as yours, I knew it would hurt, I’ve poked it with those plastic things often enough.” That was a gross exaggeration, part of the problem, was that I hadn’t poked it often enough.

Simon had tears in his eyes, “I don’t know what you must think of us. My sister tries to kill you and then I do my best to cripple you. When are you going to be able to ride a bike again, for God’s sake?”

“Soon, just as soon as this begins to heal up.”

He slipped into the bathroom and five minutes later he was snuggling up against me. I felt the warmth of his body before sliding into oblivion once again.

Easy Gum Easy Blow! Part 278

by Catwoman & Cat

I had vague recollections of Simon tucked in tight behind me during the night, but he was gone before I woke, only I didn’t wake when he got up. I think I heard Tom going because his Land Rover makes as much noise as a jumbo jet warming up. His car is ancient. Apparently, one of the pharaohs traded it in for a chariot, it’s that old. The legend goes, if it is missing, arrange for a warrant to search Indiana Jones’ garage.

I awoke at nearly nine o’clock, how was I going to function when I had to go back to work? I’d also have to go and see my GP to renew my medical certificate soon, as well. All this and Monica! I didn’t know if that was enough to wake me up or send me into a coma.

I crawled out of bed. God, I was still sore, and sat on the loo. It hurt a bit to pee. Then into the shower, wash everything. That hurt too, then dry most of me, douche myself over the bidet and apply cream, by which time, it felt as if I’d been dried with an oxyacetylene torch, in one very tender spot. I couldn’t see myself riding a bike today, as an educated guess.

I tried jeans, but had to take them off before I even got downstairs. I needed to get some softer trousers. Back to skirts and boots, I didn’t need tights with boots, so that was easier and healthier. Don’t really like tights unless it’s when I’m cycling or if the weather is very cold.

I made a quick breakfast and ate the last piece of toast while driving. I parked up and surprised Pippa.

“You still ’ere then?” I said as I walked into the department.

“Oh, look who’s talking, the ninja whinger!”

We hugged and she promised to make me a cup of tea after I’d been to see my babies. She also giggled at my wiggling walk—well I was sore and it hurt to walk very far. You try it if you don’t believe me.

Can a dormouse show affection? Dunno, not according to most animal behaviourists, but then what do they know? Sometimes I think they misunderstand what they see half the time anyway. Just think about Mad March hares, boxing and so on. Misinterpreted for years.

Anyway, back to our tale, Spike seemed happy to be handled by me, and the technicians I spoke to seemed to think she was well enough. I gave her a Brazil nut and she attacked it with vigour. Spoiled brat!

While she sat tickling my hands as she munched her way through the nut kernel, I took a quick look at the other animals in the unit. Most were still hibernating as they should be, although one or two looked as if they might be pregnant. It was too early, even with global warming, not enough food around.

Satisfied the unit could run without me for a few more weeks, I went off in search of Pippa and a cuppa. I found her in her office of all places, no sense of adventure.

“So how is Stella?”

“Not too good according to Simon, who called in last night.”

“You going to see her today?”

“No, not today, Monica is going today.”

Pippa looked at me, as if to ask several questions but I guess my, ‘don’t try it’ look halted the thought in its tracks. Instead she said, “Where does Monica live?”

“Hampstead, with Henry.”

“Oh, doesn’t she drive then?”

“Not for the moment on account of her Porsche being in for repairs.”

“She has a Porsche?”

“According to Henry, yes.”

“Goodness, lucky dab!”

“Indeed, but I think I’ll stick to my bikes, I have the equivalent of a Porsche already. You know, nought to six in four minutes.”

“You silly bugger!” said Pippa, probably summing me up succinctly, well except for the ‘B word.’ “Wouldn’t you like to try a Porsche?”

“Not especially, I don’t need a phallic compensatory device. Remember, I already have my dilators. However, it’s hard to get romantically involved with them.”

“If they drove a Porsche, it wouldn’t be.” Pippa didn’t seem to consider the total nonsense of what she’d just said. One of my dilators driving a Porsche! A bit too surreal for me.

I shook my head, it would appear working in our department had affected this nice young woman. Well, the dormice get to ya eventually, except me of course, I was mad before I met them.

Finally, I set off for the station to pick up Monica—I just couldn’t wait! That’s sarcasm, just in case you missed it. She arrived after about ten minutes, the train was late.

She wore a bright pillar-box red coat with black hat and gloves and looked quite a bit out of place. We lunched at a pub on the way to the clinic. I didn’t eat much, I was too fixated on Stella and I felt very worried for her.

Consequently, I didn’t eat very much of the omelette I ordered. It didn’t exactly worry me. Monica, on the other hand, attacked hers with gusto, and was soon eating all the bread rolls.

“Not worried about li’l ol’ me, are you, Cathy?”

“Eh? What did you say?”

“I asked if the reason for your poor appetite, was worrying about me molesting you?”

I blushed bright red and shook my head, “No, I was thinking about Stella, and how much I miss her.”

“Want me to tell her?”

“You can if you like, but see how she is first.”

“Don’t worry, I can be quite discreet,” she said, microseconds before I snorted tea all over the table.

“How is the operation doing?” She asked changing the subject.

“You mean how is it healing?”

“Well that as well?”

“As well as what?”

“You know,” she said, nudging me, “how’s your, you know?”

“Are you perchance referring to my libido and related subjects?”

“Exactly,” she grinned like a Cheshire cat.

“I’ve put my name down for a closed order convent who practise celibacy, why?”

She roared with laughter, which is quite difficult when swallowing a gin and tonic. “You are so funny,” she said when she’d finished inhaling her drink.

“I’m deadly serious, have you seen you know, Simon’s…” I coughed.

“Ooooh, is he well endowed then?”

“The cows in the field across the way always look at him with great affection.”

She was off again, roaring and giggling, half the pub was looking at us very suspiciously, sort of like we’d possibly escaped from an asylum. No matter how terrified I was of Monica’s predatory sexuality, I had to admit she entered into everything with a gusto that made me feel somewhat apathetic in comparison.

She insisted on paying for lunch, saying, “It’s Henry’s treat.”

“Does he know?”

“Oh yes, he told me to buy you lunch and told me that he hoped to be able to do it himself next time.”

“He is very sweet. Please thank him for me.”

She smiled back and nodded, and we set off to see Stella.

Easy As Reading—More Vacuous Ramblings

Part 279

I drove Monica out towards the clinic, an old mansion which had been converted into a psychiatric unit. It was private and probably cost a large amount of money to stay there. I know Simon said he’d pay the bill, but whether that meant him personally or the family, I didn’t know nor dare to ask.

The grounds are in immaculate condition with formal gardens and shrubberies, even a vegetable plot and an orchard, all of which appeared to be well maintained. Organic veg? Why not if you can afford to pay someone to grow them for you.

I parked in the car park, which was beside the house, and I decided I would stay in the car and do some more work, I had my laptop in the back.

Monica went off and I settled down to booting up my machine and dealing with some more enquiries, two of which were about dormice. Recognition at last! Not really, they wondered what sort of mouse I was holding in the poster photo. If they had taken the time to read it, they could have saved themselves an email, it says dormouse, quite clearly.

Why do these stupid spammers send emails wanting to know if I want to make my penis larger? I mean, I’ve spent the last umpteen years waiting to get rid of the same, besides which my email address is in a female name, so why send me such a thing? I just delete them, like everyone else I expect. I thought they were going to prosecute them, obviously not.

I replied to Des’s answer to my proposed schedule, he liked it, so I thanked him and sent him the draft of the narration I was thinking of writing for his film. It obviously had to fit in with what eventual video footage he had, but with editing software so clever, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem to mix things up a bit as necessary.

As I fiddled, my phone beeped to indicate a text message. I pulled out the phone from my bag and clicked through the screens to get the text message.

‘Hi Gorjus, hows Stel?
Let me know.
luv, S xxx.’

I texted back,

‘Monica is with her now, let u know when I speak 2 her. C xxxx.’

I thought of Simon and a warm sensation emanated from my heart filling my whole body, and no, I hadn’t wet myself. Part of me wished I’d made a better go of it that first time, but it was so painful.

I had desperately wanted him, to feel him inside me, to complete my rebirth as female, and it was a disaster in all but name. Not only that but I was now feeling very put off by my experience. In short, I was frightened it would hurt like hell again. I had effectively gained a month’s respite on doctor’s orders, but that didn’t include the plastic penises, blessed things. They hurt too!

I was lost to my thoughts, feeling very sad and even shedding a tear when Monica came back to the car. I had locked it, given my experience with the Russian hoodlums, and she banged on the window. It made me jump out of my skin, in fact it nearly caused me to foul myself, I jumped that much.

I opened the door and she got in. “Brrrrrr, it’s bloody cold out there, but warm in here. You’ve had the heater on.”

“If I hadn’t, you’d be still stuck out there, ’cause I’d have croaked with hypothermia.”

“I’d have thought the cold would have got you first, my girl.”

What do you say to the arrogance of ignorance? I chose to ignore it. If it went on like this, it was going to be a long day.

“How was she?” I asked.

“Yes, okay, she seemed mostly all right. She asked after you.”

“Did she clutch a machete to her breast when mentioning my name?” I asked.

“No certainly not, she was a bit down, a bit dopey, so goodness knows what medication she’s on. She wants to apologise for trying to hurt you. She wants you to go and see her.”

“Yeah, I might after I’ve spoken to the staff. I just don’t know how much I can trust her anymore. She’s moved from being my closest confidant to almost total stranger in a matter of days. And that really hurts.” I started to sob.

“Why don’t you go and see her now?”

“How can I?”

“You just go to the door and press the bell.”

I looked almost aghast at her.

“Want me to come too?”

“Would you?”

“Okay, come on, hide your laptop in the boot.”

I did as I was told, putting the machine in the boot and covering it up with various odds and sods.

Monica told me to clean up my face, and I dabbed the tears away and touched up my makeup. It would probably have been better if I’d not worn any in the first place.

We walked to the door, our high-heeled boots crunching on the fine gravel. “Lady Cameron and Lady Cameron to see Lady Cameron,” said Monica smirking broadly.

“What did you say, madam?” came back the voice from the box by the door.

“Monica and Cathy to see Stella.”

“Okay, letting you in.” The door buzzed and opened remotely. I felt like I was entering a prison, albeit a very plush one.

“Down here,” said Monica pulling my arm and we went off down a corridor. We stopped at a door and knocked, Stella’s voice bid us enter.

“Oh, you’re back, Monica,” Stella sounded surprised.

“I’ve brought another visitor for you.”

“Oh good, who?”

I stepped into the room. “Hello Stella.”

“Cathy!” she shrieked and dashed to engulf me in a monster hug. I didn’t have a chance to move, so if she’d intended me any harm, I’d have been dead or injured, so quick was the movement.

We cried all over each other begging forgiveness and so on. It was very cathartic but good. I left there drained of all energy and she sat and nodded off in the chair. I asked how long she’d be there, she shrugged her shoulders, but said she was feeling quite a bit better. I would call Simon as soon as we got home.

Easy As Writing Vacuous Ramblings Part 280

By Bonzi (back from jury service)

I sat in the car with Monica chuckling to herself. “That surprised you, didn’t it?”

I sat silently for a moment looking at my reflection in the darkening windscreen. It wasn’t a clear reflection, but once again I resembled a panda. “Yes it did.”

“Feel happier now?”

“I don’t know, yes I suppose I do, but tomorrow she may be different.”

“But so might you.”

“I’m pleased that she seemed calmer and we were able to talk about a few things, but she was on some tablets. You could see that from her constricted pupils.”

“I didn’t notice.”

“That room wasn’t exactly light, was it?”

“No dear, it wasn’t.”

“So in poor light, your pupils expand to allow extra light gathering.”

“Yes dear.”

“Well yours were, so I suspect were mine. Hers weren’t.”

“So what exactly are you trying to tell me?”

“What happens when she comes off the pills?”

“Hopefully, she’ll be fit and well again.”

“It wasn’t you she tried to kebab.”

“Ah, so you are worried that she may only have forgiven you in word rather than deed?”

“Actually, Monica, I am frightened that she still wants to stab me.”

“Oh, I don’t think she does any more.”

“Sorry, but I don’t know if I believe anyone. You weren’t there, I saw the look in her eye.”

“Come on girl, we can talk about this all night, let’s go and find somewhere to eat.”

“I need to go and clean off my makeup, I can’t go anywhere like this. Let’s go and see if Tom is home and he can come with us.”

“Oh yes, the nutty professor. Yes let’s do that. You go and clean up your face and I’ll chat to our learned friend.”

I drove back to Tom’s house feeling exhausted and also worrying about Monica preying on Tom. Okay, so he was old enough to look after himself, but against Monica? I did wonder.

We got there and Tom was home. I called out to him that I’d brought Monica back with me and that I needed to run to the bathroom.

“Weak bladder eh?” said Tom to Monica.

“No it’s a girl thing,” offered Monica.

“What!” exclaimed Tom.

“She wants to freshen her makeup.”

“Oh, you had me worried for a moment.” He smiled and she laughed. “You are such a tease, Monica.”

“Just the way you like ’em, eh Tom?”

“Hush or you’ll have me breaking my vow of chastity.” He tried to keep a straight face, but her guffaw of laughter was contagious and he laughed as well.

By the time I got down, they were both almost helpless with laughter. “Has she invited you out for dinner yet?”

“No, she’s been too busy chatting me up.”

I sighed, “Monica, the only way to Tom’s heart is via his stomach.”

“You know this for certain?” she asked me.

“Absolutely.” I nodded to emphasise my point.

“Before you go searching restaurants, I think I need to tell you that my heart is already lost to Cathy. She cooks the best roast beef in Portsmouth.”

“Does she now?”

“You had some with us remember?”

“No, that was Henry. I wasn’t with him that day.”

“No, you weren’t Monica. It was just Henry.” I recalled the day quite clearly.

“Oh, I must be getting old,” said Tom.

“We had Christmas dinner with Henry and Monica at the hotel in Southsea.”

“Yes, I recall that, and a fine meal it was.”

“We could always go there if you want,” Monica suggested.

I didn’t fancy driving all the way there and back, however good the food was.

“Yes, let’s do that, I could stay overnight in our suite and catch the train back tomorrow. Would you like to call Simon and tell him to meet us there?”

I went off to phone him. His mobile was on voicemail, so I left a message. He called back about five minutes later.

“Hi Cathy, sorry I can’t make it to Southsea. I’m going to be late but I will be home. How was Stella, did Monica say?”

“Can we talk later? I saw her, too.”

“Yes of course, I’ll see you later, don’t be too late back.”

“I’m tired, I won’t. Love you.”

“Love you too, Babes.” He rang off.

I had hoped to get Tom to drive back from the pub, but not from Southsea. He also had a few glasses of wine and nearly succumbed to Monica’s flirting while half tipsy. I had to speak sternly to him at one point. She had gone to the loo and I berated him, reminding him that she was a married woman and my future mother-in-law. “She’s practically your family, Tom. Please don’t let her lead you astray, you know you’ll regret it.”

“You, I suppose you will make sure of that?”

“Absolutely, Tom. As your ‘adopted’ daughter, it would be my duty.”

“Oh hell, why did I let you talk me into that?”

“Tom, if you were sober, you may remember that you talked me into it.”

“I did?”

“Yes, you did.”

“Damn! She is quite a looker for her age and mileage.”

“She is still family, Tom.”

“Okay, okay already.”

Although the flirting went on, I could sense it was different and I no longer worried quite so much about Tom losing his ‘virginity.’

Eventually, it was time to go home, and Monica wouldn’t hear of us offering to pay, which I was rather glad about. The meals there are very good but also very expensive.

Simon was waiting up for me, which pleased me. He hugged me and we had a quick cuppa before we went to bed. Tom had already gone, sleepy after his food and wine.

Simon pressed me about Stella but I refused to discuss it until we were in bed.

I took off my makeup and cleaned my teeth and popped on my nightie, Simon was already in bed. “So, how was Stella?” he asked.

“Stella seemed better, she asked to see me and we sort of made up a little.”

“What do you mean, sort of?”

“She was drugged up quite a bit, so I have no idea how much she will remember and how much would have been like a dream to her.”

“Are you taking Monica tomorrow?”

“Not that I’m aware of, why?”

“Well as she’s still down here, she may ask you. If she does, go with her, won’t you?”

“I suppose so.”

“If she doesn’t, will you go anyway?”

“All right, but if she does kill me, you’ll know I had reservations about it won’t you?”

“I don’t think she would try anything. That was a cry for help.”

“It was me who was screaming for help, Simon. She just had such a funny look in her eye. That was what frightened me as much as the knife. She meant it.”

“She’s hardly likely to have a knife in a place like that, is she?”

“I suppose not. Okay, I’ll go and see her.”

“Thanks Cathy, you are so good to me.”

“I know, but that’s all you’re getting, so go to sleep.”

Easy As Rambling Vacuously Part 281

by Bonzi Cat ’n Her

I heard Simon get up, break wind, and go in the shower. I was trying to decide whether I would properly wake up, or go back to sleep. I assumed it was about six o’clock and wondered how he managed to stay awake all day on so little sleep.

I felt him standing and looking at me, then he bent down to kiss me and I reached up and grabbed him. He was so surprised he fell on top of me. Having about fourteen stone land on top of my unexpecting body was traumatic to say the least. On the action replay it would be interesting to see who actually ‘oofed’ the loudest, it could well have been me.

The shock over, we both started to laugh. “I thought you were asleep,” he said.

“An’ I thought I’d say goodbye in style.”

“You certainly caught me napping.”

“No it was me who was napping, you were supposed to be awake.”

“Nah, I only wake up after I get to work.”

“Isn’t that a bit dangerous, driving a car while under the influence of Morpheus?”

“Nah, if you can have sleeping policemen, why not dozing drivers?”

I couldn’t fault his logic, except to say it was total rubbish, and at this time of the morning my own might be somewhat suspect as well. I said nothing.

“As you are awake, you coming down for a cuppa?” he asked.

“If you loved me you’d bring it up to me,” I said pouting.

“The corollary of that is also true.”

I opened my eyes widely, how had he managed to say that? I can’t get my mind around it let alone my mouth. “Coro-lory, nah that’s not right. Coal-lorry, nah, colliery, oh bugger! I can’t say it.”

“It matters not, come with me and I shall make thee a cuppa of the most splendid tea, a blend of exotic and endotic leaves, lovingly put together by craftsmen and women, for you to enjoy the subtleties of the different flavours all merging on your tongue, giving your tastebuds an orgasmic experience of the most divine sort.”

“Simon, I just wanna cuppa of rosie-lea, ’kay.” I said in my best estuarine English—Essex girl woulda been praad ommeee.

“One cuppa rosie comin’ up luv,” he said as he went through the door.

After wrestling with my conscience for five minutes—I don’t know why I bother, it always fights dirty and wins—I got out of bed and thought I ought to go and see him off. I pulled on my dressing gown, a good velour one, it’s still winter you know, and went down.

He was eating some toast and marmalade. It smelt good so I popped some bread in the toaster while he poured me a cup of tea.

“So you’re going to call by and see Stella?”

“Simon, don’t nag me, that’s role reversal, I’m supposed to nag you, remember?”

“Oh okay, I didn’t realise I was nagging.”

“Well you do now.”

“If you say so. I just wanted to know if you would go and see her today.”

“What did I say last night?” jumping as the toast popped up alongside me.

“Ha, you jumped!”

“I know I did,” I think I may have dripped in my pants too, but that was too much info for him. “You didn’t answer my question.”

“What question?”

“Simon, please get both brain cells to focus on what I am saying.”

“Do I have to?”

“Yes dear, I shall be asking questions later to see if you were listening.”

“I’m all ears,” he said.

“So Noddy said,” I couldn’t resist it.

“What?”

“Big Ears and Noddy,” I offered.

“What are you on about? Just go and see Stella, or else.”

“Or else what?” I stood with my hands on my hips and glared at him.

“Or else I’ll nag you.”

“Arrrgghhhhhhhh! If you do, I shall start calling you, Simone.”

“Je t’aime when you talk French, mon amour.”

“Eh?” he was getting stranger by the moment.

“Eh bien!”

“Voulez vous a punch on the nose?” I said to him in best schoolgirl Froglaise.

“Non mademoiselle,”

“Parle Anglaise, then!”

“Okay, okay, don’t shoot.” He stood with his hands up in the air.

“Well don’t nag then.”

“Just go and…” I threw a piece of toast at him, “Oi, watch it, that’s greasy. This suit cost a fortune.”

I picked up my remaining pieces of toast and my tea and went back up to bed. He sat there speechless. Nobody tells me who I can and can’t throw toast at! What is this world coming to, when the rights of people to throw toast are undermined. I mean, it’s actually mentioned in the worldwide declaration of human rights, supposedly upheld by the UN, part three b, subsection eight hundred and forty seven, paragraph four, line nine. ‘It is the right of all men and women and some children, to throw toast at whomsoever they please. Failure to uphold or enact this statute could result in heavier items like jars of Marmite or marmalade being thrown instead.’ See? The UN know what they are doing, sometimes!

I sat in bed eating and drinking my pre-breakfast snack. Hang on, if this was food, which as far as I’m aware toast is, then this would be breaking my fast, or break-fast. Damn, I’d have to have my cornflakes as elevenses. I’m sure all this thinking was rotting my brain. I go to university to think, I surely don’t have to do it at home as well, do I?

If I answered that, I would be.

I switched off the light and cuddled back under the covers. I heard Simon start his car and drive off. I did miss him. I’d have to try and dilate later, before things shrank any further. I didn’t relish it one bit.

I heard the front door slam, and looked at the clock, about eight forty five, that must be Tom off to work. I tried to go back to sleep, but the thought of having to dilate was so daunting that I couldn’t. I got up and ran a bath, and took my plastic bullets with me into the bathroom. I wondered if being warm and relaxed would feel any easier.

It didn’t, but making love to a piece of plastic in the bath meant I was expanding my life experiences. Well, you never know when you may have to use such expertise, or write my memoirs.

I got dressed, pulling on my pants very gingerly. I’m not sure if anything expanded, except my mind, because everything else hurt rather a lot! Much more of this and I would probably need a mallet.

I pottered about in the morning, made an appointment to see my GP later that day, and did some washing—how come men use so many clothes when they don’t actually look as if they’ve changed them for a month? Answers on a postcard etc. etc.

Finally after a light lunch, I went off to see my future sister-in-law. I sat in the car wondering if this was a good idea. It wasn’t mine. I had to remember that, if she freaked or killed me, it wasn’t my idea, it was Simon’s.

A shower of rain started and I sat in the car until it passed by, about fifteen minutes. Reluctantly, I got out of my nice warm little car and grabbing the flowers I’d bought, well there were none in her room, I walked to the door.

Getting in was easy, I walked to the room we’d been to before and she was asleep in the chair. She looked so comfortable, I sat down quietly and watched her sleeping. Then my eyes got heavy and…

I awoke with a start, the door had banged or something and she was gone! Where were my car keys? Oh no!

Easy As Falling Off A Mike Part 282

I sat silently in the chair, the one opposite was empty as was the bed. Feeling my knees shaking, I stood up and looked around. The room was empty and the little bathroom attached was equally devoid of human life forms.

My brain unfortunately didn’t just snap into action, it was too busy reeling. I could have sworn my car keys were on the side with the flowers. Both were gone and so was Stella.

What do I do now? I didn’t know. I also didn’t know what had happened while I snoozed. Had anything actually happened? I mean, had aliens come and taken her by mistake, when they’d meant to take me? Or more mad Russians, who hadn’t noticed me snoring away in the chair because I become invisible when I close my eyes—well it worked for a black cat I knew, who once he closed his eyes in the dark, he disappeared.

I decided I would wait for two more minutes and if an explanation didn’t materialise, I’d leave after enquiring where my little buddy had gone. If she’d taken my car, I would personally hunt her down and kill her. Apart from that I felt fine. I yawned and then a few moments later had to blow my nose.

The two minutes were up, could I risk another two? The dilemma was, if there was nothing wrong, I’d look a complete berk, if there was something wrong, I would look a complete berk. No change there then! I wasn’t usually indecisive, or was I, erm…

Two more minutes had ticked by, I had to do something apart from yawn, damn, I had to blow my nose again. I put the tissue back in my pocket and nearly dropped my keys.

Stunned for a moment, I put my hand back in my pocket and sure enough, there were my keys. How could I have missed them? Stupidity? Sleepiness? God knows, but at least I could get home.

I checked the chair in which Stella had been sleeping. It was still empty, so it wasn’t some form of time distortion I’d fallen through. Goodness, I’m sounding like a background character in Dr Who.

Turning to the door, I was about to pass through it, when it barged open and in walked Stella with a vase of flowers. “Oh, you’re awake are you? Thanks for the flowers, I’ve popped them in some water, but perhaps you’d better have a look, you’re better at all these girly things than I am.”

My mouth dropped open. Okay so I did usually get lumbered with putting flowers in vases, but an arranger I was not. I could probably arrange a Mozart concerto as easily, and I couldn’t do that either!

She plonked the vase down on the table in her room, “Wanna cuppa?”

“Yeah, that would be nice.” I was a bit dry mouthed.

“Okay, I’ll go and get some.”

She was no flower arranger, that was for sure. I dug in my bag and brought out the penknife I always carried. It was a present from my dad when I was a kid, about the only one I’d kept. Genuine Swiss Army variety, ‘Victorinox’ and guaranteed ‘rostfrei.’

I pulled out one or two stalks and cut them down to vary the height of things, mainly carnations and chrysanthemums. She returned just as I was finishing clearing up the mess from the stalks, putting the bits in the bin in her bathroom.

She put the cups down on the table and saw my knife. My blood ran cold as she picked it up, and I began to work out my options. Overpower her, hide in the bathroom, run for it, reason with her. Oh hell, I got all indecisive again.

“Swiss Army knife eh? I think Simon’s got one of these somewhere, course as a girl, Daddy wouldn’t let me have one.” She looked at it, the red handle contrasting with the flashing blade. “You need to clean the blade. It’s covered in goo from the flowers.”

She handed it to me, handle forward. I took it trying not to snatch it. “Thanks I’ll run it under the tap. So you don’t have one?”

“Nah, just ’cos I’m a girl, but you have one and you’re a girl. It’s not fair, is it?”

“Not really,” I called from the bathroom, I felt a trickle of sweat run down my back. For one moment, I was really quite frightened. “I’ll get you one for your birthday or Christmas. How about that?”

“The original designer bit of kit. Yeah okay, if you trust me with a knife again.”

“I have to, the kitchen is full of them. I have to turn my back to you sometime.” I wasn’t sure I felt as certain as I sounded. “Besides, it’s nigh on impossible to stab someone with a penknife, they’d close on you and cut your hand, wouldn’t they?”

“Some bloke in London stabbed a bloke with one a few years ago, don’t you remember? And I think he got off with it.”

“No I don’t, oh boy.” I sighed, this wasn’t the sort of news I needed to hear.

“Your tea’s going cold.”

“Oh yes, thanks.” I came back into her room and picked up the cup and saucer, rather cheap china with a very institutional design on it, the sort you used to get in cafeterias in hospitals and universities.

I sipped some and it tasted okay.

“Of course, I might have poisoned it,” she laughed.

I snorted and coughed and she laughed even more and shook her head. The old Stella was nearly back, and playing practical jokes would tend to suggest she was feeling better.

We sat down and finished out teas, “So are you feeling better?” I asked.

“At times, seeing you makes me feel better.”

“That’s nice to hear,” I blushed back.

“I know I’m not quite ready to come home yet, but the therapy and the pills are helping.”

“I’m really glad.”

“Of course, I could have still poisoned you, given you one of my pills which would send you to sleep on the way home.”

“I don’t think you’d do that to me.”

“But can you be sure?” She was really searching me.

I paused for a moment. I couldn’t be sure, of course I couldn’t. Common sense would tend to suggest she wouldn’t have much opportunity to get pills and doctor the teas, but she could have done. If I had really suspected she had, would I have drunk it? I don’t know. I felt queasy, but that was because she was taking me out of my comfort zone. I so needed to trust her, I loved her, if she really wanted to hurt me, she would anyway. I wasn’t responsible for her actions, only my own.

“Yes,” I replied, feeling more sweat run down my back, “because we’re sisters.”

She rushed into my arms and we hugged and wept together for several moments.

“We are sisters, Cathy, and I love you.”

“I love you too Stella. We must never let anything come between us.”

“Including Simon?” she said and snorted.

“Well, maybe we’ll make an exception for him.”

“Yeah, I suppose so,” she laughed and we hugged again.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 283

“Good Lord!” said my doctor as I explained my take on recent events.

“Heavens above!” he continued, his mouth gaping in astonishment.

“Gee whizz! And all of this happened since Christmas?”

“In the last couple of weeks.”

“You’re dangerous to know. You’re not mad and bad as well, are you?”

“That wouldn’t be for me to say.” I blushed. Maybe I was all those things and probably more as well.

We talked about my surgery and how it was going. I was candid about my dislike of dilation and my disastrous sexual experience.

“Given the injury and the relatively recent surgery, I’d be surprised if it was comfortable yet, I mean it is in a tender spot. To be honest, you have my admiration, how anyone could undergo what you have, utterly defeats me.”

“To me it was simply altering a skin flap that I used to pee.” I shrugged, it really was no big deal. I was more upset that I couldn’t ride my bike.

He gave me a local anaesthetic paste which I could use to help ease the agonies of dilation, although he wasn’t too hopeful of its effectiveness. He did think that doing it in a warm bath may help by relaxing things.

I got a couple of prescriptions and left, popping in the pharmacy at Morrison’s. I did some food shopping while they filled them. Then it was home and more cooking.

I did some baked fish in the Aga, wrapped in foil with basil and sliced tomato. While it was filling the kitchen with aromas which made my mouth salivate and my stomach rumble, I did some veg and rice and then some ironing.

At one point I speculated if it was possible to cook a flat fish on a flat iron. I didn’t reach a conclusion, because Tom arrived.

“Hmm, something smells good.”

“It’s my new deodorant, eau de halibut.”

“Is that what you’re cooking?”

“Yes, why?”

“I haven’t had it in years.”

“So I’d heard, which probably explains the bad temper.” I removed myself from range while the penny dropped.

I’m not sure it ever did. The problem with super bright people is they can be awfully thick, as my ancestors would have said. Tom frequently proved the case. Whereas, moi, being common and possessed of a significant amount of sense, made me the opposite. I didn’t want to live in an ivory tower, just rent one occasionally.

In all fairness, Tom was fairly down to earth for an academic and he enjoyed his garden. He was out there as I made him a cup of tea, while he let the dog out. Roll on the lighter nights and he could do some real gardening and I could get out on the bike. I felt a little twinge from down below. Damn, it could be a while yet!

We discussed Stella’s progress over the tea and he looked cheered by the news.

“I’m so glad you two have made it up. I really didn’t see how you would have coped without the other.”

“Hang on a minute, I coped before Stella…”

“Did you? I don’t remember it, maybe I’m getting old and forgetful.”

“Okay so she sort of precipitated my emergence from Charlie’s shadow…”

“I think she did more than precipitate it, she dragged it out of you.”

“I think I might have had a small part in all this,” I protested.

“Was that the effect of hormones?” he came back at me.

“Probably,” I offered, then, “I think I have coped pretty well since, anyway,” I pouted to emphasise my point.

“For a nadgerless girly, you have done very well indeed.”

“All girls are nadgerless!” I protested.

“Most are, I’ll give you, but you weren’t originally, and they do give a bit more assistance in assertiveness or aggression. Just look at your cycling buddy, Floyd wotisname, the Yank disqualified from the bike race.”

“Landis,” I said.

“That’s him, the one who produces synthetic testosterone, interesting case, very rare.”

He kept a straight face but I couldn’t, especially with his next remark. “Now if it had been the other Yank, the one with the prosthetic bollock, then one might expect that to produce synthetic testosterone.”

“Do we know if he has a prosthesis?” The idea was mind boggling, would he need one? I’d never thought of it before, he could have had a transplant, I’d finished with mine, so he could have had three if he’d wanted, assuming he started with one of his own.

This silly conversation was just the antidote I’d needed to some of the stress I’d suffered recently. I was almost rolling about on the floor with laughter, considering a certain TdF winner, with a pawn broker’s sign, the three balls, painted on his bike. Maybe they’d need to rename the bike from Trek to Trike.

Simon came in a short time later, looking very tired. I dished up dinner, which went down very well with a glass of rosé. I cleared up, and when I looked round, Simon had gone to bed.

I went up to check he was okay, and he was fast asleep. It seemed even he had his limits of endurance. Tom and I had another cuppa and chatted about uni stuff. There were possible cuts coming in funding.

“Does that mean you want shot of me?”

“No sweetheart, how could I sack my adopted daughter? It’s more likely they’ll sack me. I’m dearer than you.”

I was shocked. “How can they sack you? You’re running the mammal survey.”

“No, Cathy, you are. I’m dispensable, maybe even disposable.”

“If you go, so do I,” I pouted and wanted to stamp my feet in anger.

“No you don’t! You are going to save all those poor furry things, especially those tree rats, you’re so fond of. You are going to make it a success for me.”

“The hell I will,” I said trying to sound like John Wayne. It sounded more like Wayne Sleep.

“I told you, you were important in the greater scheme of things.”

“Only because I work with you.”

“My work is done. What we need now is irrefutable evidence that climate change is affecting mammal populations. Common sense should prove it, but that is never enough, so we need evidence. With your mapping techniques, we should be able to do population studies much more easily and within five or ten years prove it without doubt.”

“Anyone could do that!” I puckered my lower lip.

“If they could have done, don’t you think they would have done? You are a rare beast, a field biologist who can also do statistics and computer stuff. You can lead from the front and make this happen, save the planet before it’s too late, and in doing so save your precious dormice too.”

“You said the ‘D’ word!” I exclaimed.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 284

“Can’t they make you Emeritus Professor?” I asked.

“Not if they want to save pennies.”

“This is just so unfair,” I felt tears coming to my eyes, “I was looking forward to working with you for years to come.”

“Look, I might be prejudging the issue. They are looking to save money and we have to consider where the axe might fall.”

“So if one of their major sponsors was to lean on them, they could chop away somewhere else?”

“In theory, I suppose so. Who do you know? Oh no, not Henry?”

“The same,” I said gleefully. “He owns half of the known world and all of the unknown, I’m sure he could get the Secretary of State for Education or the minister for universities to say whatever he wants.”

“But it’s a socialist government, and he’s a Tory peer.”

“I don’t care who he pees with, he’ll do what I want if I ask him nicely.”

“What, you mean if you sleep with him?”

I blushed, “No Tom, I didn’t mean it like that, I only have to go all girly on him and he’s like putty. Watch and learn something.”

I dialled his number and Monica answered, “Hi Monica, is Henry about?”

“No Cathy, three line whip in the Lords opposing the Education Bill’s second reading.”

“He’s opposing it?”

“Yes, don’t you read the papers?”

“Not too often these days. Will it be in Tom’s Guardian?”

“I expect so, he’s leading the opposition.”

“Opposing what?”

“Bigger student fee contributions, they want the universities to cut costs instead.”

“Like cutting teaching staff?”

“If they have too many, I suppose so. Did you want me to get him to call you back tomorrow?”

“Yeah, I was just going to say about how Stella is improving.”

“Oh good, I’ll tell him you called.”

I rang off, and frowned.

“Easy was it?” Tom chuckled.

“Wait until tomorrow. By then I’ll have slept on it.”

“But not with Henry?”

“I don’t love you that much Tom, sorry.”

“I’d better start looking at my pension arrangements.”

“Don’t start hatcheting your counts,” I cautioned.

“Don’t what?” he looked perplexed.

“Before they’ve chickened.”

“What?”

“It’s an ancient shaggy dog story, which ends with the punch line, don’t hatchet your counts before they’ve chickened.”

“Oh, instead of hatching chickens, ah, I see the awful pun.”

“Yes, it’s one that you can tell for hours, then slay ’em with the pun-ch line.”

“I’d have thought there was more chance of them killing you.”

“Maybe, but remember, before I discovered Smirnoff, I thought Wan King was a town in China.”

“Cathy, maybe you should just go to bed.” He was shaking his head at my rather puerile jokes, or should that be puella jokes?

“Okay, adopted Professor,” I leant forward and pecked him on the cheek. I had great pleasure in seeing him blush.

I tossed and turned much of the night, racking my brains to come up with a solution to save Tom’s job. Simon woke me again when he went to the bathroom as he got up.

“What’s the matter with you, tossing and turning like a dancing instructor?”

“I’m worried about Tom,” I said as he disappeared in the shower.

He reappeared ten minutes later, “Worried about John who?”

“Not John, Tom. Our Tom.”

“Why is he ill? Was it your cooking?”

“Be serious, Si. He could be about to be made to retire.”

“Tom, made to do anything, except by nefarious females like you? Nah!”

“Yes, that Tom. They want to cut his post.”

“No they don’t. We sponsor them.”

“They are looking to save money.”

“If they get rid of him they won’t save that much, they’ll have to employ a successor. Besides can’t he become emeritus or whatever they call it, you know, long term ivory tower syndrome by another name?”

“He doesn’t think so. Besides, I want my PhD to be under his management.”

“Don’t you mean tutelage?”

“No, he can’t tutor me, he’s too close to me. He manages the department and it’s because of him we have the EU money as well as other private sponsors like High Street Banks plc. His reputation is enormous, and the respect he enjoys from other academics and institutions is immense.”

“Not forgetting, he’s a nice guy with a heart of gold.”

“That too. Oh Simon, what are we going to do?”

“Leave it with me.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Dunno yet, but I won’t exclude buying the university.”

“Eh?”

“Well there’s Liverpool John Moore’s University, why not Portsmouth High St Banks uni?”

“It can’t happen like that, universities cost millions to run.”

“Doh! There’s me forgetting I went to one.” He gave me an irritated look.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean it like that. I just didn’t think the bank would have that much spare to risk.”

“How do you think the bank got here, it was built on risk. Have you spoken to Dad yet?”

“No, I tried last night, he was at the Lords.”

“Oh the education thingy, well at least he’ll be primed for thinking about universities.”

“Is that a good thing?”

“Probably not. As far as he’s concerned universities are things to be exploited and their drones enslaved.”

“Don’t you mean dons?”

“No drones, the students, especially the very bright ones like you.”

“What!” I blushed, “How has he enslaved me?”

“Try fifty grand a year and marrying me.”

“Marrying you? That doesn’t tie me to either the bank or the family.”

“You’re not tied to the family?”

“Not especially, why?”

“Where did you go yesterday?”

“You know where I went, you asked me to go.”

“I rest my case.”

I sat and thought for a moment, oops! “But that’s different, that’s Stella.”

“She is a family member, least last time I looked she was. She is also a director of the bank.”

“What!”

“All members of the family are, you’ll be too when we’re married. It’s an unpaid position, but there are perks.”

“Can I refuse?”

“If you want, but Henry will send Monica to tickle you until you change your mind.”

The scenario that flashed through my mind made me think I would accept immediately. Then another one assailed me. “Does that mean I’d lose my pay, the money he gives me now?”

“No, you’d become director with environmental responsibility, which would actually mean a hike in pay to probably a hundred K or more, but with responsibility to keep us in the minds of the green lobby, as supporters of green issues.”

“Oh!” I squeaked, what was I getting into?”

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 285

Simon went off to work and I felt glad that he was going to do what he could to help. I knew his family had loads of influence, but they’d have to play it a bit carefully, or be accused of trying to influence an independent organisation.

I got up and made some breakfast for myself. I was tempted to do some bacon and eggs for Tom, but he was getting rather rotund recently, so it wouldn’t really be in his interest to continue overeating, and with the recent stuff about bacon and bowel cancer, well! It looks as if everything we eat drink, breathe or otherwise absorb can do us harm. Life seems to be that little bit we experience between being poisoned by our breakfasts or dinners.

I finished my cereal, and made some tea. Tom came down about half an hour later to the smell of coffee. He smiled at that and poured himself a mug of the black fluid. “Hmm!” he said, “Like used diesel oil, just how I like it.” I smiled and sipped my tea.

“So what are you up to today?” he asked.

“Nothing in particular. Anything you need me to do?”

“Are you going to see Stella?”

“Probably this afternoon, fancy coming?”

“I’d love to, hen, but I have yet another meeting.”

“Don’t agree to anything about your future that isn’t rosy.”

“Cathy, I’m a zoologist not a plant picker.”

I poked my tongue out at him before remembering there were probably bits of oatmeal on it. He groaned in protest. I blushed.

“What about Stella?” I asked, hoping he’d remember why he asked me.

“Stella? I thought you said you were going to see her?”

“I am. Why was it important for you to know?”

“It wasn’t particularly, I was simply asking.”

“Oh, it didn’t sound like that.”

“Didn’t it? What did it sound like then?”

“As if you wanted me to do something regarding it.”

“Well I suppose you could take her some flowers or choccies.”

“I took her flowers yesterday, I could get some chocolate.”

He fished out his wallet and handed me a tenner, “Get some nice ones for her.”

“Okay, I might nip into town then.” I hadn’t been for a week or two and there would be sales still running. I should be saving, not looking for clothes and I must not, repeat, NOT, enter any shoe shops!

We chatted until he decided to leave for work, I went up bathed, tried my smaller dildo thingy and made a half hearted attempt to dilate. It didn’t bleed this time but it still hurt. I hoped it would get easier, but I wasn’t sure.

After drying myself, I made up a sort of plug for it, wrapping a tampax in an iodine tulle dressing, I managed to insert it. I hoped it would help to minimise infection, and hold me open a little. I could see how relatively small the cotton tampon was compared to the dilator, but it was still uncomfortable. I hoped it would be relatively easy to remove, with the grease from the iodine lubricating things. It itched rather than hurt and before I left to go shopping I had to remove it. Back to the drawing board.

I checked with my bank whilst I was in town, I was well in credit—was it such a good thing to know? ‘No more shoes!’ I was almost chanting to myself as I left the bank and wandered into the shoe shop almost next door.

They had the most beautiful pair of courts in a glossy blue with a small platform sole and a sort of Cuban heel. They fitted perfectly and I even saw a bag I liked to match.

From there I went to Monsoon and fell in love with a dress, in, guess what, a blue floral design. Marks and Sparks, I bought some new underwear, all satin material. They felt so good next to my skin.

Thornton’s, the chocolate shop was next on the agenda and I bought a box of handmade choccies for young Lady Cameron. Tom would get exactly one penny change.

I browsed up and down the high street and bought a few other odds and ends I needed, like another dress and a skirt and top. I also bought Simon a new tie and Tom a new shirt.

After a cuppa and a cake, I drove off to the supermarket and bought some food for dinner, plus some bread making supplies, yeast and flour and so on.

Lunch was an omelette made with eggs I bought on the way home, from a free-range farm. I also bought a chicken for dinner tomorrow and some organic veg.

Part of me riles at the mention of ‘organic anything’, it’s another of those words which have been hi-jacked and made to mean something other than they used to. Organic, used to mean carbon based as in chemistry, or in medicine, to mean something palpable, such as an organic cause to a disease like a tumour rather than psychological etiology. Now most people these days seem to think it means vegetables which have had no artificial fertilisers near, or meat reared without chemicals or hormones and things.

Anyway my chicken, its eggs and the supporting vegetables were all organic in all senses of the word and I was still chortling to myself as I came in.

I collected the post and amongst various letters was one addressed to me from Southmead hospital. I tore it open with all haste.

‘Dear Miss Watt,

Re: Mr Derek Watt

As his designated next of kin, we would be grateful if you could contact the hospital as soon as possible, regarding your father. Telephone contact seems to have not been possible on the numbers you gave us.

Yours sincerely,

J. Burns
Hospital Administrator.’

I phoned immediately and it seemed to take a dog’s age to get through to someone I could actually talk to about the letter.

“Ah, yes, Miss Watt, he’s had a further stroke and is very poorly.”

“Can I come and see him?”

“Yes, of course. He’s on the high dependency unit.”

“I’ll be up this afternoon.”

“Very well, I’ll ask one of the staff to tell him, I believe he’s been asking for you.”

My euphoria from my shopping expedition had turned to naught, suddenly I felt very vulnerable. If he were to die, I’d be an orphan! Omigod!

I put the kettle on and while it boiled I called Stella, Simon and Tom to inform them I’d be dashing up to Bristol. Then I ran upstairs and packed a case.

A quick lunch and I virtually flew off towards Bristol which I got to some hour and a half later, despite the best efforts of the traffic to stop me.

I parked up, paid and displayed and ran to the ward, I tried to compose myself before entering, so I appeared calm to him, but inside I was quaking.

I was shown to his cubicle, he was in bed and looking very sick. His colour was very pale and he seemed to have visibly shrunk since I’d last seen him.

I walked up to him, took his hand squeezed it and kissed him, “Hello, Daddy.”

He took several seconds to open his eyes, almost as if the effort was too much bother. It took a couple more before he registered my face. He smiled and tried to speak but he only mouthed the words. It was my name.

“Yes. It’s me, Daddy. I’m here,” I squeezed his hand again, it felt so cold. “I love you, Daddy,” I said before my voice choked completely and a tear ran down my face.

He nodded his understanding and tried to say, “I love you.” He gripped my hand tightly, gave a great sigh and died. He had waited for me to get there. I screamed and fell off the chair in a faint.

Easy As Falling In Love Part 286

There were people standing over me and I felt incredibly sick. Someone was rubbing and patting my hand and I wanted them to stop. Others were asking me if I was all right. Clearly I wasn’t.

I was helped up to the seat, where I managed to squeak I felt sick, and a nurse appeared with a papier mache receiver, like a bit cut off a giant egg box. She got it to me just in time, and I up chucked my lunch into it. What a way to spend an afternoon!

After I managed to sip some of the water I felt a bit easier. I was still pale and shaky and they didn’t want to let me go, but I needed to say goodbye to my father.

I went in held his hand and kissed his forehead. He felt cold. “I’m sorry I didn’t get here earlier, Daddy. Thank you for waiting for me. It meant a lot to me. I’m sorry that you won’t be at my wedding, so I shall ask Tom to give me away. I’m sure you won’t mind. I hope you’ll be okay now and meet up with Mummy. Goodbye, I love you.” I kissed him again and with tears running down my face, I left the hospital, vowing that once I sorted out the paperwork I’d never go back there again.

I thanked the nurses and the doctor who’d given me a quick examination to make sure I was safe to drive. I told them I was only going to my parent’s house a couple of miles away.

I got out to the car and sent Simon a text.

‘Dad died, please tell everyone. Going to the house. C xxx.’

I sat in the car, tears streaming down my face and I wept and sobbed for maybe half an hour. Now I was alone, with regard to my family. I know effectively I had been that way before, but there had always been the possibility that things could improve and contact re-established, which was what had happened. That couldn’t happen now. I really was alone.

I would also have to sort out the funeral arrangements, just what I needed. I felt so alone, yet part of me wanted to be alone, to deal with my grief.

I was so wrapped in my own thoughts, that when my phone peeped for a text message, I physically jumped, and I think I may have dripped a bit too. I wiped my eyes, and dug out my phone.

‘Where r u? Tried calling Brstl. R u OK? S. xxx’

I called him. “Hi Simon, I’m okay.”

“Where are you?”

“I’m sat in the car park, getting it all together for a few minutes.”

“A few minutes? You texted me an hour ago.”

“Gosh, did I? Okay, I’m going back to the house now. I’ll call you as soon as I get there.”

“You sure you feel up to it?”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine. I’m going to get some milk and bread on the way, so give me an hour or so.”

“By then I’ll be on my way to Bristol.”

“I’m okay Simon, honestly, I’ll be all right. What about Stella, shouldn’t you see her?”

“Sorted. Tom is going after work. He’ll tell her about your dad. I’m leaving here in half an hour tops, I’ll bring us in a takeaway, you just go and rest.”

“Okay Si, love you.”

“Love you too Babes, see you soon.”

“Si,” I said anxiously.

“Yes?”

“Drive carefully.”

“I’m flying down.”

“Can I collect you?”

“No, that’s all sorted.”

“Okay, see you soon then.”

“Bye,” he made some kissing sounds and rang off.

I dithered for a further five or ten minutes before I felt organised enough to drive out of the hospital. My mind wanted to drift over all the early times, when he wasn’t a bad father and I wasn’t a challenging child. I wanted to go and visit some of the places we’d been to when I was young, but it would have to wait.

I managed to keep my concentration enough to get to the supermarket and I bought some bread and milk and some cereal, plus a few other things. I felt very detached from much of what was going on around me, and the woman behind me had to nudge me in the back as I was away in a daydream when the checkout cleared.

“I’m sorry, I was miles away,” I said and blushed.

“You okay luv, you look as if you’ve been crying.”

“My father has just died in hospital. I got there just in time.”

“Oh poor luv, no wonder you look distracted. You gonna be all right?”

“Yes, my fiancé is on his way from London.”

“Oh good. How’s your mother taking it?”

“She died last year.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“Thank you.”

I paid for my purchases and rushed out to the car. Driving off in a hurry, I came within inches of an accident. I didn’t see him, he blared his horn and shouted at me and I burst into tears. A moment later, the woman from the checkout came past and tore into him for picking on me.

“You leave her alone, her father has just died.”

“She nearly drove into my bloody car.”

“I’ll bet you was speeding.”

“No I wasn’t, you stupid old trout. Why don’t you mind your own business?”

I wanted to crawl under a stone and never come out again as the row went on and on. Finally, someone came up behind the man and beeped at him, so he left me to argue with the new arrival. I managed to reverse away and drove home. I could have done with some more fuel, but I didn’t feel up to getting it, maybe tomorrow.

Somehow, I managed to get home safely and after putting away my purchases and checking the fridge for out-of-date stuff, I made some tea and then fell asleep before drinking it.

Simon was standing before me when I opened my eyes. Sleepily, I said, “How did you get in?”

“The back door was open. I hope you opened it?”

“Erm yes, I had to put some stuff in the bin. I must have forgotten to lock it.”

“Good job you did, as you weren’t answering the front door.”

“What! Oh, Si, I am sorry,” and with that I burst into tears.

He sat alongside me on the sofa and hugged me, holding me until I stopped crying. ”I’m sorry you lost your dad.”

“I’m being such a fool,” I started crying again.

“It’s okay.”

“Thank you,” I sniffed. His response was to hug me tightly and I relaxed into his body and felt myself going off into another sleep. I was so tired, I couldn’t resist and with his strong arms around me I felt safe, safe enough to let go.

“Cathy, you’ll have to move, my arm’s going to sleep,” said the voice, Simon’s voice.

“Erm, what?” I opened my eyes and realised I’d been asleep again. It was well dark and we had no lights on.

“My arm’s got pins and needles, I need to move it and I need a pee, as well.”

“Yeah, okay.” I leant away from him and felt the cool air rush in where he’d been holding me. I yawned, it was well into the evening by the look of things.

The light from the hall, as Simon switched on the kitchen lights, showed me the clock. It was after eight. I struggled to stand up and then to stagger out to the kitchen and put the kettle on. I needed a wee too. I sighed, it was not a good day.

After going to the loo, I made the tea while Simon phoned a takeaway delivery place. He wanted pizza, I don’t actually like them that much, but that’s what he ordered. I wasn’t very hungry anyway, so it hardly mattered. I realised I had to start telling people he was dead, like his horrible sister, Doreen.

I got out the family phone book and looked up the number. She lived in Swindon so at least she wouldn’t need to stay overnight. I tapped in the numbers, it rang and she answered it.

“Hello?”

“Hello, Auntie Do?”

“Yes, who is this?”

“It’s Cathy Watts.”

“Who?”

“Derek’s daughter.”

“Who, I thought he had a son?”

“Yes, I was I’m now his daughter.”

“You what?”

“I was Charlie, I’m now Catherine, Okay!” I stressed the final word.

“Don’t you shout at me, you sound just like a woman.”

“Auntie Do, I am a woman.”

“But you’re Charlie, how can you be?”

“It’s a long story which I don’t have time to go into now. I rang to tell you Dad has died.”

“What?”

I was beginning to think she was going either deaf or daft. “Dad died this afternoon, he’d had another stroke.”

“Probably you doing this pretending to be a girl business.”

“Yeah, probably. I’ll let you know when the funeral is.”

“Well if you’re going to be there, I hope you’ll be properly dressed.”

“I will if you will.” I was growing tired of her nonsense.

“There is no need to be rude young man.”

“You don’t get it, do you? I am female now, I had an operation.”

“What, one of those sex change things?”

“Yes.”

“No wonder poor Derek is dead. Worried himself to death with your antics. I hope you are suitably ashamed of yourself.”

“No, I’m not. Dad knew all about it and was quite supportive of it. He even offered to pay for it.” ‘Stick that in your pipe and smoke it,’ I thought.

“He what?”

“I have to go, I’ll send you the details of the funeral as soon as I know them, bye.” I put the phone down.

“Difficult rellies?” said Simon holding a pizza box.

“My father’s only sister. They couldn’t stand each other. Seems she’s about the only living human who isn’t aware of my new status. Obviously the BBC doesn’t reach Swindon.”

“If she calls, let me deal with it.” Simon smiled at me.

We’d not long finished eating and were having a glass of wine when the phone rang, Simon was up and answering it before I could move.

“Hello, Watts family residence, Simon Cameron speaking. Who? Charlie? And who might you be? Arthur Porter, Doreen’s husband? No, I’m afraid Lady Cameron is indisposed. Can I be of assistance?”

I sat listening to the one side of the conversation wanting to blush and laugh at the same time. Simon was being so polite but so superior at the same time.

“Who am I? I’m her husband, Lord Simon Cameron, can I help? No, she never was Charlie, it was a mistake which has now been corrected. Of course she can have children, if not my father is going to be very disappointed. Of course he knows, the whole world knows, we did an announcement on television several months ago, you didn’t see it? She’s one of the foremost experts on mammals in the world, the country’s leading authority on European dormice. My wife is a delightful and gracious lady and I’m sure we’ll both look forward to seeing you at the funeral. As soon as the arrangements are completed we’ll get her secretary to notify you. No, not the butler, he only deals with household aspects, her secretary cum personal assistant would deal with that. Very well, good night to you.”

He came and joined me at the table, “Did you get the gist of that?”

“Lady Cameron is indisposed,” I said before being consumed with giggles. When I stopped, I said, “It’s a pity Daddy wasn’t here to listen to that, he’d have been wetting himself, she is so stuck up. So to hear a real life peer talking down to them when they thought they were going to cause trouble, is quite funny. Thanks for sorting that out.”

He winked at me, “I quite enjoyed it, anyone else I have to irritate?”

“No, not tonight. You can cuddle me instead.”

“That sounds even better.” He stood me up and carried me into the lounge and sat me on his knee. I cuddled into him and he held me in his arms. Once more I felt safe, even if it was a sad sort of happiness.

Easy As Getting Wet Part 287

(Nearly 24 Dozen or is that Two Gross?)

by Bonzi in Boots

We slept almost as soon as we got to bed, or at least I did. Despite my naps, I was exhausted. At some point during the night, I remember Simon waking me, I was crying in my sleep apparently.

It was lovely to wake with him still there, instead of dashing off to work. I looked at the clock, it was nearly eight o’clock. He was snoring gently as he lay on his back, his arm draped across my leg. I moved it gently without disturbing him and lay on my side, my head raised upon my elbow, watching him.

After a few minutes of me sending him love and yet more love, he opened one eye and said, “Wot you lookin’ at?”

“The man I love. Why, what’s it got to do with you?”

“Nuffin’ missus, just bleedin’ askin’ that’s all.”

“Well that’s all right then.”

“Good, gi’s a kiss then!”

“Can’t do that, my fiancé’s watching.”

“Soon fix that,” he shut his eyes and I leant forward and kissed him.

He put his arm around me pulling me almost on top of him, whereupon, he kissed me as passionately as ever he had. I reciprocated and after a few minutes of pausing for breath, I lay mostly on top of him and rested my head on his shoulder. He smelt musky and masculine and I tucked my nose under his arm, inhaling his scent.

Once he realised what I was doing, he made me stop, “Ugh! How could you?”

“How could I what?”

“Sniff my arm pit.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“It’s horrible, yuck! How could you?”

“Easy, want me to show you?”

“No I don’t, you, you animal!” His eyes were twinkling as he said this. “You women have one track minds, you know that? All you think about all day long is sex.”

“Hmmm,” I said and nodded.

He pushed me to one side and got out of bed, pointing at his underpants, or rather the bulge in them, “Purely toiletry needs,” he said and disappeared to the bathroom. I sniggered when I thought about how much difficulty he was going to have emptying his tank in that state.

After breakfast, the reality of the situation came back. I had to go to the hospital to get the death certificate and organise the undertaker, unless I’d done that last night. I couldn’t say, I couldn’t remember much more than a blur of sadness.

I washed up and called the same undertaker who had attended to my mother. He promised to call the hospital and see that there were no delays such as post mortems. He would call me back within the hour.

He did. I was making up the mix for the bread maker when he rang. He’d sorted it and would collect the body that morning. I would need to get the death certificate myself from the registrar. I thanked him and looked at Simon, “Ready to do the running around then?”

“That’s what I’m here for.” He stood up and pulled on his jacket.

“Is that the same one at which I threw the toast?

“Yep.”

“It’s a nice jacket, sorry.”

“Okay, I won’t kill you today.”

“Why not, you might even get a bulk order discount from the undertaker.”

“Doubt it, their business appears to be dying off.”

I groaned, “Simon, that is a first form joke.”

“Yeah, that’s where I heard it, I think, or it could have been prep school.”

“Yeah, that figures.”

“I beg your pardon, but my prep school was a very good one.”

“I’m sure it was, the best money could buy, and all that.”

“Nah, it was the same one Dad went to, he got discount.”

“What?”

“Yeah he gotta discount to do dat and dat count to do dis…”

“Simon, shut up!” I hit him on the arm and he pretended I’d hurt him. I was laughing too much, I should be sad, but I wasn’t. I was happy that my father had acknowledged me before he’d died. I was glad that he’d wanted me to visit him and that he had waited for me to get there. I was also with the man I loved, who had come to help me in my hour of need. What more could a girl want?

We spent the whole morning visiting officialdom, showing copies of the certificates to the bank, his solicitor, and sorting out any insurances. I discovered Daddy had prepaid his funeral with the undertaker I’d contacted. So that was all taken care of and would save a lot of work.

We had lunch at a pub near the solicitor’s offices in Cottham, then back home to go through any papers, notifying those who needed to know and so on. It’s exhausting and thankless toil, but it has to be done. The utilities were the worst, you’d think they could set up a temporary account until I decided what I wanted to do with the house, assuming he’d left it to me. But no they can’t, so we left them in Daddy’s name until I closed them after the will was settled and the rest of the usual.

I’d also have the job of going through his clothes and stuff and disposing of them. I’d done it for Mummy, so I suppose I’d manage for him too. Part of me knew it was a duty, part wanted to run away and let someone else do it. That was out of the question, I was an only child and it fell to me to do, a duty. I would thus do it.

The same priest who’d officiated at Mum’s funeral would do the Daddy’s, the undertaker had arranged that. He, the undertaker, was a nice man who called by during the afternoon and he took several jobs on board, like organising flowers and a notice in the local paper.

“I remember your dad, he kept on about how his son was messing things up by not helping him, yet you say you’re an only child. Have I misremembered things?”

Simon was about to answer when I stopped him. “No, Mr James, you are quite right, his son did mess things up, he turned into a woman.”

“You’re joking?”

“Sadly, I’m not.”

“You were never a boy, let alone a man,” said Mr James shaking his head. “No, I can’t believe that.”

“Okay, you must have misremembered then.”

“Yes, that’s much more likely.”

“Bless you, Mr James.”

“That’s okay, Miss Watts, soon to be Mrs Cameron, eh?”

“Yes, I am.”

“No you’re not,” said Simon, “Tell the truth Cathy.”

“Okay, it’s going to be Lady Cameron. Simon is from a titled family.”

“Gosh!” said our undertaker without any affectation. “Well congratulations anyway. If this isn’t the wrong place to say it, I hope you’ll both be very happy.”

We thanked him and he went on his way.

“So what do you want to do tomorrow?” asked Simon.

“If it’s not too much trouble, I want to go to the zoo, the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Great Britain.”

“Why?”

“Because my Daddy took me there when I was a kid and I’d like to go there again as his daughter, see what I feel, and maybe say goodbye to some memories.”

“Okay, now go and get yourself tidied up, because I’m taking you to dinner. Oh I need to buy some shirts tomorrow.”

“If you don’t mind what you’re wearing, we could grab a couple in Tesco or Asda, plus some undies and things if you like.”

“Okay, don’t see the point of spending a fortune.”

“If we hurry, Marks and Sparks will be open, too, so you can get some quality there. It isn’t Savile Row but…”

“M&S is okay, so come on, get ready.” So that’s what we did and after filling the boot of the car with underpants and socks, we went to a pub and had dinner.

“So who is going to give you away when we get married?” asked Simon over a glass of wine.

“I thought I’d ask Tom. What do you think?”

“I think he’d be overjoyed to act in loco parentis for you.”

“Yeah, I thought it was a good idea too. Now all we need is my gender recognition, which has another year to run before I can apply, according to their website.”

“Want me to see if we can pull some strings?”

“No, Simon, I’ll do this by the rules or not at all.”

“Oh, okay, I only offered.”

“I know and I appreciate it, but this is legal stuff and I don’t want to upset the powers that be. Besides I’ve had enough of registrars for now.”

“Okay, now who’s driving back?” he asked, indicating the wine bottle.

Easy As Taking Candy From A Baby

Part 24 Dozen (it is too gross!) (288)

by Angharad (Bonzi’s out killing things!)

I lay in Simon’s arms, tired but unable to sleep, unlike him. Three glasses of claret and he’s anybody’s, providing he doesn’t have to wake up for it, whatever it is. However, he had managed to put his arm around me before entering the coma. In some ways it was still enjoyable, at least he was there for me, sort of. Actually, it gave me lots of comfort to have him with me and I suppose he’d earned his night out and drinkypoos.

Stella had sent me a card, presumably chosen by Tom, but at least she had written it and ended by saying she was getting better each day. Tom had sent a card as well, so at least others were thinking of me.

Henry had sent flowers to me and a note with them. They were waiting by the front door when we got back from the restaurant. I love the way they do them now, in the plastic bag thingy which is filled with water. However, they don’t seem to last any longer, except the carnations and chrysanthemums, they last for ages.

I lay listening to Simon’s light snoring, which was like a heavy breather, or so I imagined, I’d never heard one to be honest and was quite happy to remain in ignorance.

Simon revved up a gear and the snoring went to medium loud, I tried nudging him, but he was too comatose to hear me. I got up, went to the toilet and instead of going back to bed, went to make myself a cup of tea.

I sat sipping my tea and looking at the flowers Henry and Monica had sent. They were from a different world, but they seemed to look after those they liked. I wondered if they were as thorough in the opposite direction, maltreating those they actively disliked. I decided, I never wanted to know.

I spotted a vase on the dresser my dad had bought for my mum and the tears came. I knew I’d never see either again and it felt such pain, deep in my chest there was this aching void and I wondered if I’d ever fill it. I doubted it, especially as I could never have any children of my own, as my befuddled thinking seemed to reason that was how the void was filled, with the love of the next generation.

I wondered about life after death, and my rationalist scientist took over with all my prejudices and bias. I couldn’t see how it could be. I’d read books on it assuring me they would convert me to a believer, but they didn’t. Most were so badly argued that even I would have enjoyed being on a debating team against them.

I had just finished my tea when it happened. I have mentioned before hearing my mother calling to me. I’ve also had good and bad dreams featuring her. I heard my name being called by a female voice, and immediately thought I was dreaming, except I had moments before put my mug on the table after drinking the last of its contents.

The voice I heard, whether it was real or in my head called my name and told me I was a good girl, and that she was proud of me as a daughter. The hairs on the back of my neck and on my forearms were standing on end and I swear the kitchen had got much colder. I could feel a cold sweat on my forehead.

The voice continued, “Cathy, do not be afraid we won’t hurt you, we can see how much happier you are. Take care of Simon, and make him take care of you. He loves you very much.”

The voice sounded so real, was I hallucinating?

The voice sought to reassure me. “This is not a dream or your imagination, this is real.”

“Mum?” I said out loud, “Is that you?”

“Yes Catherine, it is me.”

“What do you want?”

“To thank you for your love, even though we haven’t always deserved it.”

“You’re my mother, of course I loved you and always will.”

“Yes dear, I know. I wish we could have done things better knowing what I know now.”

“What do you know now?”

“That what you believe is only important if it helps you to live a more godly life. Despite your disillusions, you were and still are more Christian than I ever was.”

“Is this some sort of joke?” I said standing up and looking around, where in the classic ghost story do you hear of spooks and the living having discussions on theology?

I nipped up stairs and Simon was asleep snoring like a lawnmower, the old fashioned, push pull ones. I ran into my parent’s bedroom and the spare room, even the bathroom. There was no one there.

Back downstairs, I checked out the lounge and dining room, even the cloakroom. The doors and windows were locked. The voice came back.

“Catherine, I am here to say that we did love you, although not as much as we should. You are a special child…”

“Mummy, I’m twenty-three, hardly a kid anymore.”

“…to us you will always be our child. Your father is here too, although he is still tired from his recent experiences of passing.”

“Don’t tell me he’s dead tired?” I muttered to myself.

“Still the sceptic?”

“Of course I am, this is either a dream or my head playing silly games with me. It’s stress, I expect.”

“Of course it is, it would have to be an illusion to say we love you.”

“Words are cheap, whoever you are. Daddy came to accept me only because he needed me. No other reason.”

“That isn’t true, he came to see his mistake when he realised you were happier as a girl.”

“I didn’t think my happiness had anything to do with it. You were both so locked into that evangelical crap that love ceased to exist, just your judgmentalism. My existence was seen by you both as an embarrassment, which was why I tried to end it. You hurt me that badly, yet I still loved you, even with your poisoned heart and mind. This the religion of love, had only fear and hate to offer. How dare you tell me you love me? You don’t know the meaning of the word.”

“But you love me?” said the voice.

“Of course I do, you’re my mother.”

“Then forgive me.”

“Why, what difference does it make?”

“It releases me from this earthly cycle.”

“Where is all this stuff coming from?” I slapped at my ears but it made no difference, and it was now very cold in the kitchen.

“I am here and beg your forgiveness.”

“I gave it to you when you died, when you mistook me for an angel.”

“That was no mistake. You and Stella appeared to me as angels. You are an earthly angel with a purpose.”

“Oh yeah, like what? To save the earth. Mum? or whoever or whatever you are, I am not Flash Gordon.”

“Believe me, you have a purpose.”

“I’m sorry I can’t because you can’t prove to me that this isn’t some auditory hallucination created by my grief.”

“If I could, would you believe me?”

“Oh yeah, sure, God sent me to save the dormouse! Like hell!”

“That is a fortunate accident, but you will help save millions of animals in the years to come.”

“What about this ache, this void in my heart, that only children could resolve?”

“You will have children.”

“Now I know this is either a hallucination or a sick joke.”

“You will have many children, who will look upon you for love and guidance.”

“Yeah sure, I suppose I’ll have two litters a year to get the numbers up.”

“Please, do not jest about your purpose.”

“What the hell are you talking about? How can my purpose be children, I have no bloody gonads, let alone a uterus.”

“When the time is right, you will be shown what you are to do.”

“What’s going to happen then, I’ll grow wings and a harp?”

“Do not mock things you do not yet understand.”

“Pleeease, stop this nonsense. Either tell me what you want or stop messing with my head.”

“I need you to release me by forgiveness.”

“I already told you that you have it.”

“Say it with your heart not your mouth.”

“Mother, I love you, what else can I say, except to go in peace and love, go and look after Daddy.”

“Thank you my daughter. Now I can go.”

“Yeah sure.” I shook my head, maybe that wine was stronger than I thought or I was starting food poisoning.

“To prove to you that you have not imagined this, look under my dressing table, there you will find something I have left for you. Like everything in life, you will have to search for it. Goodbye, my child.”

I looked up and my mother was waving as she was sort of sucked gently or faded through the back door. I felt my jaw drop as I tried to call her. I broke down and wept for ages, I was going crazy, I had to be. Maybe I needed to get home and see Dr Thomas.

When I came out of my trance, it was nearly four in the morning. It was warmer—why? Shit! I just can’t believe that supernatural crap. I was obviously going crazy. All this forgiveness stuff, how could my twisted little brain think that up? I was exhausted and went back to bed, glad to feel the heat of Simon’s sleeping body as I snuggled alongside him. He rolled onto his side and flopped his left arm around me and the snoring stopped. I shivered and warmed off his body.

The next morning I felt like death, my eyes were sore and I was exhausted. I felt behind me—Simon was gone. I started, suddenly I had the horror that he had gone back to work, then the door pushed open and I screamed.

“What’s the matter love, did I frighten you?” He’d hurriedly dumped the cups and come to comfort me.

In the safety of his embrace, I told him about my hallucinations the night before. “Do you think I need to see my shrink?”

“That’s up to you, I suspect it’s just the stress of everything. Grief does funny things to different people.”

“But why my mother, not my father?”

“Oh the spook? I dunno, unfinished grieving?”

“It was so real.”

“So, dreams can appear real.”

“She said something about under her dressing table, she’d left something for me.”

“Okay, drink your tea and we’ll go and look.”

I did as Simon suggested and after pulling on a sweater and a skirt, led him into my parent’s bedroom. The dressing table stood in front of a window. We both got down on our knees, it came nearly to the floor and we couldn’t see much at all, it was too dark.

“I’d better go and get a torch,” I said trying to think where there was likely to be one.

“Never mind that,” and with a heave, Simon had pulled it a yard towards him. “Anything?”

“Only fluff, I’ll get the vacuum cleaner.” I trotted down the stairs and came back with the Dyson, and sucked up the rubbish.

“What would you have done if you’d found something?” said Simon heaving the dressing table a bit further for me to get at the fluff and cobwebs.

“Had to rethink quite a few things,” I chirped.

He pulled the furniture piece sideways so it stood at ninety degrees to its original position. I switched on the noisy vacuum cleaner and sucked away, suddenly there was a funny noise. I switched off. A piece of carpet about ten inches square had lifted out of the main carpet and underneath, the floorboard was screwed down differently to the normal nails.

“Oh shit!” I exclaimed and felt a cold shudder run through my entire body.

Easy As Falling Off A Cliff Part 289

by Angharad & Bonzi (he’s in tonight)

I stared at the bright metal of the brass screws holding down the ten inches of floorboard, I looked at Simon and he looked back at me.

“What do you want to do?” he asked.

“Well assuming that was my mother I saw last night, she seemed to think I needed to find whatever was under that.”

“If you have a screwdriver, I think we can try and find out.”

I rushed down the stairs and to the kitchen drawer where we kept one or two tools for fixing plugs and so on. Normally, when not rushing I can locate one in seconds, today my fingers were fumbling and it took forever, or seemed to. I grabbed at it and ran back up stairs handing it to Simon, who looked at it and shook his head.

“What’s wrong with it?” I asked.

“The screws are normal ones, this is a Phillips type.” He showed me the head of the screwdriver and it was designed for screwing cross cut headed screws. I groaned, snatched it off him and ran back downstairs, rummaged about for even longer in the drawer, found another screwdriver, checked the head, then ran back upstairs.

He took it, looked at it and then knelt down and began undoing the screws. I waited with bated breath as he undid all six screws, then levered up the piece of floorboard. Thankfully, it wasn’t tongue and groove.

“What’s in there?” I practically squealed with tension.

“Nothing,” he said peering into the cavity. “Maybe your dad removed it or didn’t get around to inserting whatever was meant to go in here.” He felt around then said, “Hang on, I’ve got something, feels like a small cash box.”

The tension was almost palpable, and I was shaking with excitement. What could it be? Jewellery, money, a treasure map?

He managed to eventually persuade the box out into the open. It was locked. He felt about for the key: it wasn’t there. I felt about, my smaller hands unable to find anything resembling a key.

“I could always force it, but somehow I don’t think we’re meant to, this has been put here quite deliberately in recent years if not months.”

I shrugged my shoulders and picked up the box—scratched on the bottom in barely discernible writing was the word, ‘Monet.’ I showed it to Simon.

“French artist, wasn’t he?”

“Yes, follow me.” I led him into the bathroom where we had a framed poster of the ‘Lily pond’. I pulled it off the wall, and taped to the back of it was a key.

Back to the bedroom and I placed the key into the lock of the cash box and it fitted. I turned it and throwing open the lid saw something wrapped in brown paper. That was all.

I dumped the box on the dressing table and frantically undid the paper, inside was another key. “What on earth?” I held the key for Simon to see. “What is this, some kind of treasure hunt?”

“I know what that is,” said Simon smugly.

“It’s a key, even I can see that.”

“Yes Babes, but I know what sort of key.”

“Looks like a padlock or filing cabinet to me, but there isn’t one in the house.”

Simon smirked and shook his head. “Uh uh!” he said.

“Well come on then, tell me.”

“What’s it worth?”

“I don’t know, until we find out what it is and what’s in there, we may never bloody know, now tell me!” I was beginning to get rather wound up.

“Is it worth a kiss?”

I felt more like slapping him than kissing him. However, in the interests of my sanity and curiosity, I pecked him on the lips.

“Call that a kiss?” He smirked again, and the temptation to whack him one grew immeasurably. Instead I played the game, and kissed him more enthusiastically. “That’s better, but still not good enough, I’m afraid.”

“Oh sod this for a game of soldiers!” I spat, and grabbed him by the short and curlies and other dangly bits. He jumped, dropped the key and squeaked.

“Okay, okay, Cathy, I’ll tell you. Just let go.”

“Uh uh!” I said and shook my head, “You first.”

“Okay, leggo,” I shook my head at his pleading and squeezed a little harder. “Okay, it’s a key to a safety deposit box. Now leggo!”

I smiled and released my grip, “Now that wasn’t so hard was it,” I said stooping down to pick up the key, whereupon he smacked me hard on the bottom. “Ouch!” I screeched and fell onto the bed.

“Sadist!” he accused me.

“Bully!” I shouted back, rubbing my bum.

“Meee? You were the one who got up close and personal,” he said loudly, while rubbing something, which made him wince a little.

I sniggered, “You shouldn’t keep secrets from me.”

“Yeah, so I see.”

“If you’d told me immediately, I’d have kissed you for being clever.”

“You can kiss something better if you like.”

“On yer bike!” I dismissed his suggestion.

“Ride a bike after what you did to me, no way Jose!”

“Try riding the cobbles in Belgium, then you’ll know what sore means.”

“Not bloody likely, dumb I may be, stupid I ain’t.”

“So what bank do you reckon?”

“Could be one of hundreds.”

“Oh, doesn’t it say?” I held it closer to the light. All it had was a number.

“It’s a British bank.”

“How do you know that?” I was impressed again.

He covered his crotch with his hand, “There’s a seven in the number and there’s no line through it as per the continent.”

“Alimentary, my dear Watson,” I said beaming at him.

“Don’t you mean, elementary?”

“No my tummy’s rumbling and I want some breakfast.” I smiled and went down stairs.

We ate and drank and a short time later after discussing where the information could be about the bank, I started taking pictures down and looking on the back of them. I almost felt like ripping the paper off the backs of them, but I knew my parents would never have done anything that required such destruction.

An hour later, we were no further advanced with our problem; in fact we were exhausted and in order to make the place tidy, had to replace all the pictures. I grabbed a duster while Simon made some tea, and as I replaced them, I dusted them first, examining the frames once again for any clues. Of course there weren’t any.

Simon called me to come and get my tea and I went down to the kitchen. “We’re never going to find this out are we?”

“I have no idea, except it would seem pointless to have gone this far and not allow you to go any farther.” He shrugged—he was good at that.

“I can’t think there is anything of great value in it anyway. Daddy wasn’t poor, but he wasn’t rich either.”

“What if he was secreting money from the tax man or something like that? We’d have to declare it.”

“Yeah, I suppose, but if it’s jewellery or something of sentimental value, I don’t think I need to then, do I?”

“I think it depends upon the material value of it.”

“Come on Mum, why did you tell me this and not finish the story?”

“What did she say exactly?”

“Something about having to work for it or search for it. Can’t remember.”

“The problem is, that we can’t just go into any bank and ask to open a deposit box.”

“They do in the films.”

“Cathy, this is real life, you know where people eat and go to the toilet, have bad teeth and ingrowing toenails.”

“Yeah, okay.”

“Didn’t your dad have somewhere he used as an office?”

“He had an office which he resigned from after the stroke wasn’t going to get better. He’d have had time to remove stuff from there. There’s a photo of it hanging up in the cloakroom.” I got up to get it to show him, just a black and white photo of an office. “See it’s just a picture of his office… and the bank next door! Oh no, I couldn’t see the wood for the trees.”

Simon looked at the photo, “It could be,” he said. He looked it up in the phone book. It was now half past ten, “They should be open, go and see if he has any bank statements, there’ll be a cost for renting it every month or two.”

I went off to the dining room where Daddy kept all his personal papers in two or three box files. I picked out the ‘finance’ one and began to go through the bank statements.

Simon came through a little later, “Sorry, that bank doesn’t do deposit boxes.”

“How do you know?”

“I just called them pretending to want to rent one.”

“Oh, that was clever of you.” I was really impressed and wouldn’t have thought to do that myself.

“Hey, what’s this,” this time I had found something. His ordinary bank was charging him for a deposit box, not only that, but it gave the number and it matched the one on the key. “Clever dick!” I said to Simon.

“Dunno about clever, it’s decidedly sore at the minute.”

“Oh dear, sorry about that, would you like me to kiss it better?” I said and winked at him.

“I think it would feel safer if you kept away from it for a little while.”

“Aw!” I said and smiled innocently at him.

Easy Way To A Cat’s Heart Part 290

by Bonzi translated by She

(yes, the cat’s mother)

“How are we going to be able to see what’s in it? The account is closed isn’t it?”

“Oh bum!” said Simon. “I thought you had power of attorney.”

“I do, but that only lasts as long as he’s alive and the account needs administering.”

“Damn! Who’s the executor?”

“His solicitor.”

“Who is?”

“Hang on,” I looked through another file, “Messrs Thompson, Short and Button.”

“What, TSB?” he laughed.

“I don’t think they would call themselves that anyway. The Trustee Savings bank is part of the Lloyd’s group as you jolly well know.”

“Just caught me on the funny bone. So which one is he with, Button, Short and who?”

“No the doctor is nothing to do with this lot.”

“Doctor? Doctor who?” he looked mystified not catching up with my joke. Sometimes he could be very thick.

“Just say that again,” I offered, hoping he’d eventually get it.

“Doctor? Doctor who?” I could see him thinking about this for several moments before he said, “Oh yes, very funny, not. Aren’t you supposed to say, ‘knock knock’ first?”

“The other partner was Thompson, and he doesn’t see any of them, he deals with a Mr Lawrence.”

“Is there a will?”

“I presume so, although it may relate to my previous name.”

“So, you have your documents to prove who you are.”

“Yes, but I get a bit embarrassed about all this. They see me as a girl, then I explain, and they look at me as if I had two heads.”

“You do, but don’t worry, they are both beautiful.”

“I suppose I need to tell the guy Daddy’s dead, anyway.”

“’Fraid so.”

I picked up a letter from the solicitors and called. “Erm, yes, my name is Cathy Watts, Derek Watts’s daughter. He was a client of Mr Lawrence. Yes, that’s right. I’m afraid he died a day or two ago, what do you need me to do?”

Apparently, I needed a death certificate and proof of my identity and I could see the man that afternoon at four.

“So are we going to get dressed today?” asked Simon.

“I am dressed.”

“You have a nightie on under those, remember.”

“Oops! I’d forgotten.” I blushed and then ran upstairs and into the shower, Simon chased after me, but I locked the bathroom door before he got there.

“Spoilsport! It’s eco-friendly to shower with a friend, and I’ll wash your back for you,” he called through the door.

“Can’t hear, I’m in the shower,” I called back, well aware of what he’d said.

He banged on the door and left. I sniggered in the shower and inhaled some water, which caused me to cough and splutter for a moment, ‘Serves me right, I suppose,’ I thought to myself.

Waltzing out wrapped in two towels, the second and smaller one around my hair, I went to the bedroom. “Hi,” I said to Simon.

“My mummy told me never to speak to strange women,” he replied sucking his thumb.

“You spoke to her,” I said hoping I wasn’t breaking any taboos.

“That’s true,” he said, “I suppose I could talk with you.”

“Please yourself,” I answered him and turned away, whereupon he grabbed the larger towel and pulled. I spun around and the towel fell to the ground, leaving me wearing little more than a smile.

“I did,” he said and smiled broadly. “If I said you had a beautiful body would you hold it against me?”

“Simon, I know it was used as a song title, but that has got to be the corniest pick up line going?”

“Have you dilated today?”

“You know I haven’t, and could I have my towel back?”

“No,” he snatched up the towel.

“Oh, okay,” I walked still damp towards my chest of drawers and wardrobe and began pulling out my underwear.

“I fancy you, Missus,” he said standing behind me and putting his arms around me, his fingers lightly brushing my breasts.

“We have things to do, we don’t have time.”

“There is always time for love,” he said sexily.

I felt my nipples growing even though I was trying to ignore his efforts.

“I’ve just showered,” I protested.

“That doesn’t mean you can’t talk dirty to me.”

I began to wonder if he’d been sniffing something. “Yes it does. I also brushed my teeth.”

“God, you bloody women are all so romantic. You complain if we poor men don’t try to turn you on, then when we try, you complain about that, too.”

“Of course, it’s all about the mystery,” I teased back.

“Mystery? Misery you mean. No wonder that bloke Allegri wrote his ‘Miserere,’ he probably hadn’t had it for weeks.”

“I suspect he was celibate anyway,” I said trying to sound intelligent.

“Yeah, that would figure, I know exactly how he felt.”

“Yesterday, you were trying to keep me away from Mr Happy.” I advanced on Simon my hands opening and closing in as menacing a manner as I could effect.

“Erm, yesterday was different,” he swallowed hard, “Maybe I’ll go and take a shower,” he said, evading my grasp and locking the bathroom door. I sat on the bed and giggled.

I dressed and dried my hair, finally putting on some makeup. I wanted to look attractive and feminine without overdoing it. I wore the blue dress I’d bought and the new shoes. The dress showed off my figure, which wasn’t bad at all. I added the fur jacket Stella had given me, then took it off and donned my raincoat. Not as warm but more professional.

Simon wore a shirt and trousers, with a pullover of my dad’s. With his car coat, he looked warm and comfortable. “You look nice,” I offered.

“If I look nice, you look delicious. Are you trying to get a discount on the fees you’ll have to pay this guy?”

I batted my eyes at him, “No, just trying to convince someone to take me out to lunch.”

“Think I’m that gullible, do ya?”

“Yes,” I purred, I walked up to him and standing on one leg, rubbed the other up and down his leg.

“Damn,” he said, “that’s another secret gone.”

I kissed him sexily, drawing his bottom lip back with my teeth. He suddenly hugged me very tight and kissed me passionately. It was lovely while it lasted, but smeared my lipstick all over my face and part of his. I did finally get some lunch.

After eating, we had a couple of hours to kill, so I directed Simon up to the Clifton suspension bridge, which was built by Brunel. He hadn’t seen it before, and was well impressed.
Clifton Suspension Bridge

I told him the story of some Victorian woman who jumped to her ‘death’ from it but apparently parachuted safely to the bottom of the gorge with her voluminous skirts and petticoats. I suspected it was something of an urban myth.

“Would you leap from here through unrequited love?” he asked peering down into the hole beneath us.

“No way, although I did consider it as one way of dealing with a problem I had some years ago.”

“I’m rather glad you didn’t.” He put his arm around me and we walked back to the car.

We arrived at the solicitors at exactly four, the clock in the church across the road was striking the hour. We sat and waited.

Finally, a young woman called us and led us through to an office, a youngish man of maybe forty stood and offered a hand to shake. I squeezed his fingers but Simon did the macho thing and nearly pumped his arm off.

“I’m Edward Lawrence. You must be Mr Watts’s daughter?”

“Yes.” I answered wondering when he’d broach the subject of gender.

“I altered the will fairly recently because your mother died. In it you father changed the main beneficiary to just C. Watts, which I presume is you?”

“I hope so, as an only child.”

“Well, as the current will supercedes any previous ones, we won’t bother with them. Essentially, apart from some bequests to neighbours and his church, he left everything to you. He asks that you don’t sell the house for at least two years, and that you will occasionally stay there. He also says something about a safety deposit box which he opened in your name at his bank.”

“In my name?” I asked.

“Yes, apparently he did it literally days after your mother died. I assume if you want to continue to use it, you’ll be liable for any charges.”

“Erm yes, I suppose so.”

“Do you have proof of identity?”

“A driving licence, will that do?”

“Oh yes that’s fine, these new ones with the photo on are great for that. Oh I have a letter here for you, too.” He handed me an envelope written in my father’s angular script.

“Thank you,” I said and took the envelope from him.

“I have no idea how much we’re talking about, but with the house, probably enough to put you into the inheritance tax bracket.”

“Two hundred and fifty thou,” said Simon.

“I think the figure was relaxed recently, but until we get things assessed, I can’t say how much, I was aware at one point of a savings account of fifty thousand, but I don’t know if that is still the same, and of course, shares and so on will need to be evaluated. I will also need to prove probate, which may need birth certificates and so on.”

“That could be awkward. I don’t have one.” I blushed furiously and avoided eye contact.

“Oh! That could be awkward.”

“Well I do, but it isn’t in this name.”

“That’s okay, as long as you have a deed poll or statutory declaration showing it is you, or was you.”

“I erm, changed more than my name, Mr Lawrence.”

“Sorry?” he looked puzzled.

“What Cathy is saying, is she used to be his son,” said Simon as I tried to shrivel up and squeeze out under the door.

“Never! You’re joking aren’t you?”

I shook my head and wanted the ground to swallow me up.

“No, we’re not,” Simon continued.

“Good lord, I’d never have believed that, so is this recent?”

“Since before my mum died. I had surgery in January. Daddy wasn’t terribly pleased at first but came round after Mummy died.”

“Wow! Erm, well I’d have thought he’d be pleased to have such a beautiful daughter. Obviously he was in the end, at least his will seems to say so.”

“Yes, I suppose so.”

“I’ll organise a copy of the will for you, and if you can give me a telephone number, I’ll be in touch once I’ve sorted things out for you.”

We shook hands again, he looked at me and shook his head, “Never have guessed it,” he mumbled.

I put the letter he gave me in my bag and we left.

Easy As Falling Off A Bike Part 291

We left the solicitor’s office and watched the rain from the porch. I was rather glad I’d worn my Mac, but I didn’t have my umbrella nor a hat, with me.

“Well, the bank is shut now anyway, but the pub is open. Let’s go over there and see if the rain stops,” suggested Simon.

As I couldn’t think of a better idea, I nodded and we both ran across the road and into the pub. It was an old building which had been fairly recently revamped so it resembled every other such pub. However, at five o’clock, it wasn’t too busy.

Simon went to get some drinks, I settled for a soft drink. I’d have preferred a cuppa, but I’d survive. Meanwhile Simon was chatting up the barmaid—why do men always seem to have to talk to women displaying large amounts of cleavage? It’s not a problem I had, which was perhaps why I was jealous. Still, I won’t need scaffolding when I get to my forties and everything goes south.

I dipped into my bag to find a tissue and saw the envelope with my father’s handwriting on it. I pulled it out and quietly tore open the envelope.

‘Dear C,

Your dear mother is dead and didn’t have a chance to mention something to you. It’s something she has kept for you for a very long time. It’s in a safe place, however, to access it you need to look beneath her dressing table and take what you find to my bank.

I’m leaving this with my solicitor so if you are reading this, I am dead too, and hopefully, with your dear mother. I hope we had a chance to make up before I died. There are many things I’ve done which were wrong. Some of them were done to you. I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me. I was doing what I thought best at the time. I now realise I was wrong. I am still your father and I do love you.

I don’t know how your future is going to be, I still feel you’re wrong to try and change your body, but if it makes you feel better, I suppose I’ll have to learn to live with it or lose you. You are all I have now, and I know we have some difficult history, but I hope we can have some sort of relationship.

Now you have this, it’s too late for aspirations, so did we make up, or are you still cursing me, and was I still puzzling about you? I hope we reconciled things.

I’m sorry, but with your mother’s death so recent, I can’t cope with the thought of losing a son as well, so I’m afraid I can’t bear to use your new name, I hope maybe with time that will change. I hope you enjoyed having your doll back. For that thank your mother, God rest her soul.

Good bye my child,

Your loving father,

Derek.’

I read the letter through watery eyes, he’d obviously written this between my mother dying and his stroke. It showed how far he’d actually come before he died. Did he really love me or did he need me? I guess I’ll never know for sure.

I gave it to Simon to read when he finally arrived with the drinks. I was too preoccupied to say something about his new friend’s assets. He read it and looked at me.

“What do you think?” he asked me.

“It looked as if he was beginning to change or pretending to.”

“I don’t see pretence there. He admits he’s having difficulty in losing his only other close relative.”

“Yeah, but words are cheap.”

“Unless you’re JK Rowling, that’s probably true, but let’s face it, he did seem to change after the stroke, and towards the end he seemed reconciled to the new you.”

“Was that with a willing heart or by dint of necessity?” I didn’t know what I felt.

“Gosh, for a really nice person, you can be quite hard at times.” Simon cut me to the core with that one.

“You didn’t feel the blows.”

“Cathy, you can’t carry the bruises forever. Let them go, he’s dead! Just let him go and let them go.”

“Yeah, maybe you’re right.”

“I don’t know if there are any rights or wrongs, and as you said, it wasn’t me who got beaten up. If it had been, I’d probably feel differently.”

“You’d have hit him back.”

“Not necessarily. I’ve had a few hidings in my time, but only twice have I got my own back, at least physically. But I’m a male, you’re not, girls don’t do the same as boys, do they?”

“I don’t know anymore. This just confuses me. What is so secret or precious that he set up a deposit box for me? It’s hardly my milk teeth, is it?”

“Depends upon what the going rate from the tooth fairy was at the time. Let’s see, fifteen years ago, interest rates would have been higher than now, so you never know. Of course they have to be inflation-proof teeth.”

I shook my head, sometimes I worried if there was truth in the rumours amongst interbreeding and the aristocracy. Simon was obviously as nutty as a fruitcake: or maybe he was sane and I was the fruitcake! At least he was sat with his back to the barmaid and her outstanding assets. If she got a chest infection, she’d need a truckload of pills!

“We can’t go to the bank until tomorrow, so let’s get some food.”

“Okay, where do you want to eat?”

“What are the options?” he asked.

“We can go home and I’ll knock something up. We could go and find somewhere to eat, or we could grab a takeaway.”

“How about the latter? I really fancy some fish and chips and mushy peas.”

“Do you know they put some E-numbers* in mushy peas?”

“I don’t care. If they were going to kill me, they’d have done so long since. We lived on E-numbers at school, sausages, burgers, tinned peas that were so green they looked like the balls off a leprechaun.”

“Simon, you have a really colourful turn of phrase.”

“Yep, green as a leprechaun’s nuts!” he smiled… no, he positively beamed, he was so pleased with himself.

“Simon, you are disgusting.”

His smile widened, he was really just a rather large schoolboy, I just hoped I didn’t get stuck in the ‘mummy’ role, too often, and I didn’t mean ancient Egyptian bandages and sarcophagi.

“Come on, I know a good fish and chip shop not too far from home.” I stood up and he finished his Guinness, then followed me.

He smiled at the barmaid and once outside, I poked him, “What’s she got that I haven’t?”

“Nothing, except quantity,” he said and walked on towards the car.

I stood for a moment, thought about what he had just said and decided one of these days I would have to kill him. But not tonight, because I didn’t really want to be alone. So he did have some uses.

As we drove, or as he drove, I asked him what we were going to do about my auntie.

“Do we have to do anything? I mean, we could probably have them cremated together, but they usually expect you to wait until they are dead.”

“No silly, you told her we’re married, we’re not. If she finds out you lied, she’ll give me hell.”

“I could make one call to Moscow and she ‘poof’,” he clicked his fingers, “ceases to be a problem.”

“‘Poof,’ just like that?” I repeated.

“No, not like that, like that.” He did his Tommy Cooper impersonation.

“Two blondes walked into a building, boom boom, you’d have thought one of them would have seen it!”

“Do you mind!” I said, “That girl’s chest has gone to your head.”

“You’re jealous,” he countered.

“I am not,” I said indignantly—course I was, but I wasn’t going to admit it in a million years.

“Yes you are. You thought I fancied her.”

“You did.”

“You’re joking, I hope. She wasn’t my type at all.”

“Eh?” Now I was confused, “So why did you spend so long talking to her, trying to chat her up?”

“Chat her up? I was trying to find out where this ’ere bank of your dad’s was, and how to get there.”

“I know where it is. Plus I have an AtoZ of Bristol somewhere in the car,” I looked in the glove compartment, drew it out and dropped it on his lap.

“Ouch, you bitch, are you trying to cripple me?”

“No,” I said innocently, although it reminded me I needed to dilate.

“Prove it.”

“Play your cards right and I might just do that… after we’ve eaten, of course.”

“We could skip the main course,” he said winking at me.

“Not on your life, besides you might need all the mushy peas you can get!” I said and ran my hand along his thigh.

* E-numbers: all food colours and flavourings, preservatives etc have a number under the EU legislation on food safety.

Easy As… Make up your own, Bonzi’s busy

Part CCXCII (292)

Simon pulled up on some double yellow lines, so it was me who had to get out and brave the rain and the cold, as well as pay for his fish and chips and blessed mushy peas.

I went and stood in the queue not paying much attention to anything except how much the prices had increased since I’d last been there. Suddenly it was my turn and as I approached the counter, my stomach flipped. Behind the counter was Malcolm Bragg, or Melvin, as we used to call him.

“Can I help you love?” he asked.

“Oh sorry, yes, fish and chips twice, and one mushy peas.”

“Right love, that’ll be eight pounds forty.”

I handed over a tenner, he took it from my hand, then he looked at me, then at my hand, then at me. “Charlie?”

I nearly fainted. He had recognised the tiniest scar on the back of my hand, mainly because he had caused it with a bow and arrow. Not the sort I shot later, but a kid’s one, with, however, a sharp enough point on the arrow to stick in the back of my hand. Boy, did I cry that day.

“It’s Melvin, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, you remember me.”

“And your bow and arrow.”

He looked at my hand and blushed. “Erm, yeah. You’ve changed rather a lot.”

“Yes, I suppose I have.”

I heard some giggling from behind, ‘It is her.’

‘Nah don’t be daft,’ more giggles.

“Excuse me,” asked a teenage girl of about sixteen. “Are you the dormouse woman?”

“Maybe, what if I am?”

“What A-levels do you need to study dormice?”

“Are you serious?”

“Yeah, course.”

“Write to the Departmental Secretary at the Faculty of Biological Sciences at Portsmouth University and ask her to send you a prospectus. If you look on the web, you’ll find an email address.”

“Cor, thanks.” She smiled and went back to her friend in the queue behind me.

“So it was you, on the film clip?”

“Yeah, ’fraid so.” I sighed and took the bag he offered.

“You still at the same place?”

“Yes for a couple of days.”

“Can I come round for a chat?”

“I suppose so…”

“Excuse me, darlin’, can you chat up yer boyfriends in yer own time.” The voice was a rather large blue-collar worker type.

“Sorry,” I said to him, “Give me a ring, it’s in the book.”

“Yeah, will do.”

I pushed my way out past the two teens, who smiled and said, “Bye.” I nodded and got in the car.

“Who was that?” asked Simon.

“A boy I knew at school.”

“You mean he recognised you?”

“No he recognised this,” I pointed to the mark just below my second finger.

“He’s got good eyesight.”

“Melvin? Yeah s’pose so. He wants to come round to talk.”

“What about the kids?”

“I don’t have any,” I said without thinking about what I was saying.

“The two in the shop.” Simon shook his head in bewilderment.

“Oh, them. They wanted to know about the university and the dormouse juggling course.”

“See, you’ve done wonders for their recruitment.”

“Yeah sure.”

“So what does Melvin want to talk about?”

“I don’t bloody know do I, probably why I’m wearing a skirt and makeup. I didn’t in junior school.”

“So was he a friend of yours?”

“What is this, the Spanish Inquisition?”

“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition…” Simon went off into one of his Monty Python sketches, for which I was quite grateful. It gave me time to think—just what did Melvin want? I had no idea.

“…and a fanatical devotion to the pope, we have three main…” Simon continued his ramblings, while I continued my daydreams and memories of Melvin in school. He knew where I lived, he’d been there a few times as a kid. Because we couldn’t get any girls to play with us, when he was Robin Hood, I had to play Maid Marion. We didn’t have a dress or anything, just a floral patterned old curtain, which formed my cloak.

It was funny that he would tie me to the line post in his garden, then leap in Errol Flynn fashion to kill all the imaginary baddies and save me from the dastardly Sheriff. I would just swoon and say, “My Hero, Robin.” We never kissed or anything like that, but he wouldn’t be Marion for me to rescue as Robin. He was far too butch for that, and he was kind of bigger than me. Come to think of it, he seemed to enjoy tying me up. Mind you, part of me did too! Oops! I felt myself blushing.

“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition… oh bugger!” Simon had completed the entire sketch from memory. Thank God I hadn’t mentioned, ‘parrot!’

We arrived home and warmed up the chips and two plates in the oven, well the fridge isn’t much use for that is it? Simon opened a bottle of Sauvignon and poured a couple of glasses.

“Now what’s with this Melvin guy?”

“Nothing, I haven’t seen him for five or six years, maybe longer. We drifted apart. I was surprised he recognised me.”

“Maybe you haven’t changed that much?”

“Oh come off it Simon! Last time he saw me I was a boy.”

“Yeah, but basic face shape and so on doesn’t change, perhaps you were a feminine-looking boy?”

“I suppose I was, at least I assume that I look okay now, so I must have been.”

“You look beautiful, and once I’ve had me mushy peas, I am going to ravish you until you beg for mercy…”

Simon was interrupted by the phone ringing. He answered it, as I was dishing up the food on the now too hot plates.

“Who? No, Mr Watts is deceased, this is Simon Cameron… Who? Charlie? No, there’s no Charlie here. What? Oh you mean Cathy, yes hang on.” He held the phone to his chest, “It’s Malcolm Bragg.”

“Oh!” I pushed my dinner back in the oven and pointed to Simon’s plate; he handed me the phone.

As I took it, there was a shout of, “Ouch! That sodding plate is hot!” Simon certainly didn’t improve with keeping.

“Hello, Cathy Watts,” I said.

“Charlie?”

“It’s Cathy now,” I corrected him, hoping he’d get the message without lengthy explanations.

“Look I can’t stop now. I’m on my break, any chance you’re around tomorrow?”

“What time? I’m trying to sort out my father’s funeral arrangements.”

“Oh, yeah, sorry to hear that. Tomorrow any time before about four, when I have to go into work.”

“I suppose so, Simon and I could meet you say for lunch.”

“Who’s Simon?” he asked a little nervously.

“My fiancé, is that a problem?”

“No, I suppose not, so you’ve gone all the way then?”

“What do you mean?” I asked, not entirely sure of his meaning.

“A sex-change thing.”

“Yes, why, is it a problem?”

“No, not at all, John Bennett always reckoned you were a girl anyway.”

“John Bennett? Oh, Gordon, since when was he especially insightful?” I’d always thought he’d thought I was gay.

“Well that’s what he told me. You were a sissy, especially when he saw us playing Robin Hood. It was his mother who was the sister on casualty when we took you down there with my arrow in your hand, remember?”

“No I don’t.”

“Yeah, an’ when she asked, like, how we done it, you said you were playing Maid Marion and Robin Hood shot you. When Bennett found out he told the whole school remember?”

“Not particular… oh, yes, I hope he’s burning in hell somewhere.”

“Nah, he’s all right. I have to go, what about the Old Fusilier Pub at one o’clock tomorrow?”

“Yeah, okay.” I got my meal from the oven and sat down at the kitchen table to eat it.

“You were right, Babes, these are ace fish and chips, and the mushies are just brill.”

“Yeah, what?” I broke out of my reverie. “He wants us to meet him for lunch tomorrow at a pub on the Gloucester Road.

“What for?”

“I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s to apologise for trying to kill me twelve years ago.”

“Come on, Babes, eat up, this stuff is like Viagra to me.”

My heart sank, a few hours ago maybe, but not now, except I hadn’t dilated, so I suppose it could save some time there and make Simon happy. Part of me wondered if I took long enough eating, and let him drink the rest of the wine, whether he’d fall asleep and I’d be spared the, you know what. I sighed and ate another chip.

Easy As Hanging Off A Cliff Part 293

by Bonzi Kiddle

Simon went to sleep with a smile on his face, I don’t know about ravish, maybe I misheard him, he might have said radish. Anyway, while it’s all vege-talk, he had his oats, and they weren’t Scott’s Porridge variety.

Me—it saved me dilating, and was less painful than last time, I really must try and make time to poke the plastic on a regular basis. By the time I’d got back from the bathroom, Simon had zonked. I, of course, was wide-awake, a wet flannel between your legs, tends to wake you up, or it does me. Still, there was no blood this time and he was very gentle and caring to me. I shouldn’t complain, but at the minute I’m not getting much out of it except discomfort. Hopefully that will improve if I keep prodding.

Tom had phoned to say he’d been to see Stella and they’d allowed him to take her out for a ride in his Land Rover. They’d apparently gone out for a cream tea, which they’d both enjoyed. Sometimes I think he’s sort of adopted all three of us.

The undertaker had left a message on the ansafone about the funeral, which was next week. I knew that Simon couldn’t stay that long, but I felt I had to do some clearing of the house, even if I had to keep it on for two years. The solicitor would deal with the probate for the will, which he thought was pretty straightforward. It was me who wasn’t.

The next morning after a poor night’s sleep, I awoke to find Simon missing again. I hoped he was making some tea, I prised open an eyelid and the clock read seven. That was an hour later than he usually got, so he’s probably quite enjoying himself.

I managed to get myself out of bed and into the loo, I was still sore and had a quick bath, which I was still running, when Simon materialised with my tea. That was pure opulence, soaking in the bath drinking a cuppa. It would have been bliss, except the warm water reminded me I was sore somewhere, so no bike riding this morning!

Simon grumbled because the bath wasn’t big enough for two, certainly not two his size. He isn’t fat, well actually he’s no longer as slim as he was, but he’s broad across the shoulders. I wondered if there’d be room for one his size.

He had a shower when my bath got cold and I was forced to get out, all white and wrinkled. He did rub some cream on my back for me, so I shouldn’t complain. It was actually quite nice, if you know what I mean. Had I not been so tender, we may have had to delay the morning’s business by an hour or so. As it was, we didn’t, but I did drop hints that I enjoyed being massaged with moisturiser. So I’ll have to wait and see if they were taken on board—probably not, but a girl can only try.

After brekkies, we set off for the bank, which was a High St one. Maybe having Simon around was an advantage. I had my driving licence plus a host of other bits of paper, including the ‘power of attorney’ bit.

We asked to see the manager, who was not available, instead seeing the snotty creep who’d met me at the hospital. As soon as he recognised me, his manner changed. I felt a power surge—when he recognised who Simon was, the manager became suddenly available. This was a new bloke, apparently the previous one took early retirement on medical grounds.

Once the manager looked into the matter, it appeared my father had set it up for me to be able to access the box, with nothing more than some ID. When I thought about it, I realised my dad was actually very organised, pity I didn’t inherit the ability, it would save me so much time.

We were led down to the vault and several doors were opened before we were left in a room where they brought the box and laid it on a table. I was to call when I wanted to be released.

I handed Simon the key and he opened the box with one turn. Inside were several things including a manilla envelope which had, ‘Please read this first,’ written on it in red felt pen.

I opened the envelope with Simon’s penknife and inside was a letter from my father.

‘Dear C,

Sorry I don’t know what you are calling yourself these days. In a small box you will find some items your mother bought for you before you were born. She was convinced she was having a girl. Maybe she was right, eventually. I wanted to dispose of them because as far as I then knew we had a son. She wouldn’t let me, supposedly in case you had a daughter, in which case they could have been passed on to her.

From what I understand, that is unlikely, so we agreed that you should have these bits and pieces. None is very valuable, except some of your grandmother’s jewellery, which your mother wouldn’t wear because she didn’t like it.

She was going to call you Charlotte if you’d been a girl at birth, hence you being called Charles. She was convinced, she really was. In the attic there is a box of linen including a christening dress which you might have worn had we known what we do now.

As you know, neither of us are very happy about it, and your mother keeps feeling because she so badly wanted a girl, that she caused you to be as you are. Either that or she saw it as a punishment for her hubris in buying girl’s clothes and things, which are all up in the attic in a trunk, the key of which is in with the other items in the box.

I’m not sure when you will get this; if I’m dead then you’ve spoken with my solicitor or somehow happened on the first box under the floor.

I want you to know despite our difficulties, we do still love you and wish you well, even though we don’t seem able to say it to your face. We don’t understand and possibly never will, but you are still our child and we do try to see beyond your actions and love you.

Love,

Mum and Dad.’

The date was about a month before my mother died. I had to sniff back the tears. I showed the letter to Simon and while he read it, I began to examine the other contents.

In a cardboard box, about the size of a small shoebox, I found a silver christening bracelet and mug, both with ‘Charlotte’ engraved on them. There were some little silver hair combs and a locket and chain. My eyes were having so much difficulty not watering. If only, I felt my mind saying. The irony, also wasn’t lost to me.

The final straw was a pair of baby shoes in soft white leather, obviously girl’s ones, they’d never been used and I felt a tear run down my nose.

I showed them to Simon and he was astonished at how small they were. Compared to his shovel-like mitts, they were tiny.

There were some letters which I would look at later at home, plus some old, but serious jewellery boxes. I opened one and gasped. A triple rope of pearls, all the real McCoy. In another a diamond and gold bracelet and matching necklace. My grandmother’s engagement ring, with a large sapphire and several diamonds.

Simon looked at them and suggested we leave them in the safe until they could be valued and insured. I wasn’t sure if I was ever likely to wear them, but as family treasures, I couldn’t sell them. Then I thought, to whom would I leave them, as I couldn’t have kids? Then my mother’s message came back to me about having lots of children. I wondered if that was just my imagination and wishful thinking.

In the end, we took the baby stuff and the letters and left the valuable stuff behind. We rang the bell and after locking the box again, carried the papers and the shoebox out with us.

The manager approached us as we were about to leave, “Miss Watts, or future Lady Cameron, if there is anything we can do to assist you, don’t hesitate to ask. I notice you don’t have an account with us. If you change your mind we would of course offer very preferential rates.”

I thanked him and we left, Simon muttering something about, ‘obsequious little toady’ as we did so. We locked my treasures into the boot of the car and set off for the pub on the Gloucester Road.

“So who was your grandmother? That was some serious jewellery,” he asked as we drove.

“It’s a bit mysterious. I think that was actually stuff from my great grandmother. Her family apparently owned a distillery or two on Skye, and of course when she met and married my great grandfather, as he was beneath her, she was disowned.”

“So how come she got to keep her rocks?”

“She didn’t. She died fairly young in childbirth, and my grandmother was given them by her grandmother after the funeral. Apparently, great great granddad was furious and tried to get them back. So they were always hidden or kept safe. I don’t know what to do with them, because they don’t seem to bring the owner any luck, do they?”

“Can’t you get them sort of ‘sterilised’ by one of these psychics, they cleanse them, remove the previous energies or something?”

“I don’t know, I’m not sure of anything anymore, except that I love you and Stella and Tom. Everything else is uncertain.”

“You’ve just lost your dad. Don’t think too deeply about things right now, just go with the flow. I mean, we don’t have to meet this plonker if you don’t want to. What do you call him?”

“Melvin, everyone in my school had a nickname.”

“Everyone?”

“Pretty well, why?” I blushed, I knew what was coming.

“So what was yours then?”

“Until the arrow and my subsequent hospital visit,” I blushed, “you don’t really want to know do you?”

“Only for background, you know.”

Oh shit! Why is it always me? Oh well. “Until I got shot in the hand, they used to call me Charlie Farley.” I was blushing furiously.

“And after?” he smiled.

Oh bugger, I paused. My face was burning with embarrassment as I blurted out, “Maid Marion.”

“Why the embarrassment? I think it suits you, especially as she was dab hand with a bow by all accounts.”

I still felt the embarrassment I experienced the day after the accident, when they all taunted me, thanks to John Bennett’s mother. I glowed all over like an atomic pile.

We didn’t say much else except me giving Simon directions to the pub. He drove the Golf into the car park.

“You don’t have to do this,” he said as we walked to the lounge bar.

“I need to lay some ghosts. After all, they all saw it on telly, so it shouldn’t be a surprise, should it?”

“I have no idea.” He grasped my hand and we walked in together. “Any messing about and I stop it. Okay?”

“Okay, Simon, but don’t make any scenes will you?”

“That will depend on them, and how many times I have to hit them before they lose consciousness.”

I stopped, “You wouldn’t, would you?”

“For you, I’d do almost anything. Including not beating the crap out of these two lowlifes.”

“We don’t know that, Simon. These were sort of friends of mine when I was a kid.”

“Okay, I’ll reserve judgment.” He squeezed my hand and we went into the pub, not the most salubrious, but possibly more real than the plastic monstrosities they clone today.

I spotted Melvin over in the corner with a pint in front of him. I waved and he waved back. I had deliberately gone for effect in my choice of clothing, wearing a tight plunge-necked top under my designer suit. I was showing as much cleavage as I could scoop up in the tight enhancer bra. If you can’t beat ’em, baffle ’em.

We walked up to Melvin, and I introduced him to Simon and so on. Simon asked if I wanted a drink. I opted for some white wine and soda. He went to get it plus his own Guinness.

I went to sit down, and Melvin who was standing, having just shaken hands with Si, helped me to sit down by moving the chair for me. I was quite touched. Maybe this wasn’t going to be so awful afterwards.

“So what you doing then?” asked Melvin, his eyes glued to my chest.

“Teaching and researching for a PhD at Portsmouth, helping with the EU mammal survey, you know.”

“Wow, an’ there’s me workin’ in a chip shop.”

Simon arrived as he spoke, and as he sat down he said, “And the finest fish and chips I’ve had for many a day. The mushy peas were out of this world.”

‘Maybe you should shoot them into orbit,’ went through my mind but I didn’t say anything.

Melvin was still examining my chest, with his eyes anyway, said, “Yeah they are good. Wow, who’da thought Maid Marion would actually turn out to be Maid Marion! You look t’riffic.”

“Well one thing won’t change then, will it, as I believe Maid Marion was an aristocrat, and Cathy, is about to become one.” Simon sipped his drink after dropping the bombshell.

“You what?” gasped Melvin.

“Catherine is about to become the Lady Catherine Cameron of Stanebury.”

“You what? Yer jokin’ in’tcha?”

I blushed and nodded, “It’s true, Mel.”

“Bleedin’ ’ell, well that’s what they call a success, I suppose. You got a castle and all that?”

“An estate in Scotland yes, with a fortified manor house and a few thousand acres of grouse moor.” Simon beamed his superiority over this peasant, he was in his element.

“Yer takin’ the piss, in ya?”

“No Melvin, it’s even been on the telly,” I sought to reassure him.

“I never watch it. Always workin’ in the evenin’s.”

“How did you recognise me?” I asked him.

“There was something about you, the way you ’esitated at the chippy, then I seen the mark on yer ’and, and well I just blurted it out. I dunno really. Little Maid Marion, I just can’t get over it.”

“She shoots a mean arrow,” said Simon making me blush again.

“What d’ya mean?”

“We were attacked by a group of mafia bandits and she shot three of them with her bow.”

“What? Like for real? Wow, ace. Wait till Gordon gets here.”

“Yes, she has a compound bow. That’s right, isn’t it Cathy darling?”

What was Bennett coming for? If he took the piss, I would slap him myself. He made me a very unhappy bunny after the arrow business. “What?” I said to Simon.

He repeated his query about the bow, and I nodded distractedly. We sort of talked for a while waiting for Bennett to arrive, but he didn’t come. I made an excuse and went to the toilet, hoping it wasn’t too smelly. It was actually well maintained, and despite being old and well worn, was spotless. We would eat here after all.

Unbeknownst to me, John ‘Gordon’ Bennett had arrived as I went to the loo. He saw Melvin who introduced him to Simon and they shook hands. “Hey, this place is looking up, talent wise. I just saw a heavenly babe go to the bogs.”

“In a blue suit?” asked Melvin.

“Yeah, bluish, flowery thing, why, you saw her too?”

“Oh yeah, we saw her too. That was Maid Marion.”

“What you talkin’ about? That was no tranny, that was a genuine angel.”

Simon spoke firmly but quietly. “Excuse me Gordon, but Cathy is no tranny. She’s all woman. Just so we understand ourselves.”

“That was Charlie Watts?” he went pale as he sank into his chair.

“No, Mr Bennett. That was my fiancée, Miss Catherine Watts,” Simon smiled menacingly.

“Soon to be Lady, what was it again?” asked Melvin gleefully. He had called Bennett the previous evening and told him he’d seen me, and that I was wearing a skirt and makeup, but he’d still recognised me. Bennett, thus expected to see some caricature of womanhood, not what he actually got.

Melvin enjoyed embarrassing his friend in true puerile fashion, and so did I when I got back to the table, as you will see.

Easy As Writing Soaps (294)

Part Two Hundred and Ninety-Four!

by Bonzi Kiddle

I grabbed the menu from the bar as I walked back to our table. We had a newcomer, which I supposed was John Bennett. He had changed. His hair was long and shaggy, he sported a dirty looking beard and his eyebrows met in the centre. Maybe he was auditioning for the lead in a remake of Rasputin. I think you catch my drift.

I decided I would sit opposite Bennett for two reasons. He’d get full effect of my charms, and if he smelt as he looked, it would be safer. As I sat down, Melvin, helped me again, which made Bennett smirk.

“Well, someone has changed for the better,” was his opening remark.

“That’s very kind of you to say so, John.” I pretended to simper at him. Simon coughed, so I handed him the menu, “Why don’t you choose something for us all to eat, darling.” He coughed again trying to stifle a laugh.

“So what ya doin’ these days apart from picking up aristocrats?”

I leant forward and said quietly, “Well Simon’s estate is rather impoverished, so we take in boarders, traffic a few spliffs and run a, how should I put it, an escort agency.”

His eyes nearly popped and Simon’s cough seemed to get worse. I had a wonderful recollection of the film, ‘Shirley Valentine’ where she meets up with an old school chum just by chance, who’s played by Joanna Lumley, who admits she’s a high class call girl. I had just done the same.

“You what!” Bennett’s eyes nearly popped, “You’re on the game?”

“I wouldn’t have put it quite like that. Why? Do you want me to see if they have a spare room here?” I said.

Simon was now trying to stop his coughing by drinking a large amount of Guinness, and peculiarly, Melvin seemed to have caught his bug, he was coughing too.

“What?” gasped Bennett.

“I’d have to add that to the cost, of course.” I kept a straight face.

“Cost?”

“Yes, you know I have to make a living you know, and the castle is in need of so much repair. It’s only five hundred plus expenses.”

“What!” His face went very pale.

“Ask Melvin. I did a special price for him, seeing as he’s saving. I think he enjoyed it.”

Melvin’s cough got worse and Simon had to go to the bar for a refill, he’d finished his drink. I think as well, he wanted to be out of earshot.

Melvin looked me in the eye and said, “Erm, you can always tell someone who’s found their calling.” His voice went a bit squeaky before he continued, “Worth every penny.” He smiled contentedly and looked at me, trying to keep his face straight.

“You did it with, erm, someone who used to be a boy?” he almost hissed at Melvin.

“Nah, she was never a boy like you an’ me, so yeah, she’s a good screw. Good as any other woman I’ve had.”

I felt that he had a fertile imagination, smelling of haddock and chips is not the best aphrodisiac I could think of, so I suspected his knowledge was limited and his experience even more so. As long as Bennett didn’t twig for a bit longer.

“Are those erm, them things,” he nodded at my chest, “are they like real?”

“Of course they are. How insulting! Melvin can attest to that, can’t you stud?”

“Hmmm,” he said coughing again.

Simon returned, “I’ve ordered smoked salmon starters, with Wiener schnitzel and asparagus. Is that okay with everyone?”

“What?” gasped both Bennett and Melvin.

“Relax, it’s cottage pie all round, okay?”

They both nodded and I nearly wet myself. Now we were all ganging up on the moron from my schooldays.

“So you’ve gotta, you know what?” asked Bennett.

I deliberately looked blank, “Know what? No I don’t.”

“Erm, you know down below…” he was blushing.

I looked under my chair and shook my head.

“A fanny,” he croaked.

“Do you mean vulva and vagina and clitoris, or did you think they were Greek islands?”

“Erm,” he choked and blushed, “I gotta run,” he said looking at his watch. That was the last we saw of him.

The cottage pie was good, although the bricks and thatched roof were a bit chewy! I’m joking of course, the food was very basic but well made and I enjoyed it.

Easy As Falling Off A Bank

Part 300-5 and counting (295)

by Angharad y Peswch*

We parted from Melvin who had thoroughly enjoyed his ‘friend’s’ discomfort. As we got in the car, Simon said, “I hadn’t realised you were such a tease.”

“I wouldn’t have said boo to a goose, before I met you and Stella.”

“That is Stella, mainly. I’m only a positive influence,” he gave me such a false smile that I slapped him on the arm.

“Sure, I suppose it was Stella who told my aunt that we were married, and so on.”

“Probably, do I know your aunt?” I hit him again, “Oh that one, well how am I to remember all your family? I mean, you peasants have such large ones.”

“Actually some of us proles come from relatively small ones, silver spoon gob!”

“Oh you cut me to the quick! My spoon was pure white gold, you know, iridium added.”

“What? 24 carat iridium?”

“No, you silly girl!” he shook his head as we drove towards my father’s house. I still thought of it as his or my parents, even though, it would soon belong to me for at least two years.

I suppose it could provide me with a bolthole if I needed one, though hopefully, I had one already with Tom, for whom I felt so much filial affection.

“Goodness, I haven’t told Margaret and Greg Soames!”

“Who are they?”

“She kept an eye on Daddy after Mummy died. She sort of kept an eye on the house too. She’s okay, although went a bit strange after I told her what I was. He doesn’t know and is such a lech.”

“Where do they live?”

“A few doors down.”

“What, from your house?”

“My parent’s house, yes.”

“It’s your house now, Babes; a woman of property. I’m impressed.”

“The will isn’t proven yet.”

“That’s simply a technicality, or so your legal bloke said.”

“He’s not mine, he was my father’s solicitor.”

“Well, it may be worth keeping him in mind if you need to do anything local, like selling it.”

“I can’t for two years, can I?”

“No, and by then you might have changed your mind anyway.”

“I know why he did that…”

“In case we fell out?”

“…because people often sell on bereavement and regret it. What?” My heart flipped, “Do you think that’s a possibility Simon?”

“How do I know? I barely understand my own mind, let alone the female variety.”

“But from how you feel about the relationship yourself?”

“I dunno, do I?”

“I don’t know what you think either.” Was he trying to tell me something? I had to know. “So are we still secure and engaged.”

“What!” he stamped on the brakes probably taking thousands of miles off the tyres.

“Like I said, are we still engaged?”

“As far as I know. Why? Are you wanting out?” A car beeped from behind us and Simon muttered something highly offensive under his breath.

“No of course not. That’s why I was asking. I love you Simon Cameron, which is why I want to be sure we’re still okay.”

Being the strong silent type, he said nothing but grabbed me and kissed me firmly but passionately. In the background I could hear several cars tooting at us, but I didn’t care.

Just then, a knock on the window caused us both to jump. A policeman was stooping at the window. “What’s going on here?”

“She seemed sort of breathless, so I was giving her some artificial respiration, officer. I think she’ll be okay now.”

I blushed profusely. The young copper shook his head, “Go on get out of ’ere.”

Simon thanked him and we drove off. Once we were suitably far away from the scene of our ‘crime’ we both sighed and I began to giggle almost uncontrollably.

Finally back at the house, I had to go and clean off my makeup, as the mascara had run. I did it again and then told Simon we should go and see Margaret and Greg.

“Why don’t we invite them over for dinner?” was his reply.

“I don’t want him sniffing around me all night.”

“Well, tell him about your op.”

“What?” I felt my temper and blood pressure rising at about the same rate. I was heading for a stroke or an attempted murder charge.

“Oh, okay, don’t tell him.”

“For all I know, his wife has told him.”

“In which case, he shouldn’t be all over you then.”

“On the other hand, I think she found it ironic that he was drooling over someone who used to be a boy. In fact, at that time, I suppose I was still one on a technical basis.”

Simon stood up and grabbed me, he held me scarily tightly. “Listen to me.” I felt a little anxious at his strength of grip, “I don’t care what sort of body you had before, you were never a boy, okay!”

I looked into his eyes, “Simon, you’re hurting me,” I whimpered.

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to,” he blushed and let me go.

I rubbed my arms where they would almost certainly be bruised tomorrow. I wondered what he was thinking when he said it, was he convincing himself that I had always been female, except for the dangly bits, because that was what he believed or, was he trying to deny he could have been attracted to a boy and thus be at best bisexual or gay?

“Am I forgiven?”

“I suppose so, kiss me and I’ll let you know for sure.”

Well, with a challenge like that, I was engulfed in this monster hug and passionate kiss. I had to forgive him.

A little later, we were knocking on the Soames’ door. Actually that is incorrect, we rang the bell, but you get the picture. Greg opened the door, “Well, hello stranger,” he said looking at me. I was still dressed to kill. “And who is this fine young man?” he asked looking at Simon.

“Greg, this is Simon, my fiancé.”

They shook hands with vigour. I was so glad it wasn’t mine that was being crushed and pumped.

“Do come in. Margaret, we have visitors.”

The upshot was they were shocked but not entirely surprised at my father’s demise. That took me a moment to get my head around. Greg of course invited us to stay for dinner and before I could say we couldn’t, I had some paint I needed to watch drying, Simon accepted for both of us. Maybe, I did need to get shot of him!

Simon sat with Greg, who opened a bottle of red wine, I went out to help Margaret, well talk to her in the kitchen.

“So, you’re engaged?”

“Yes, he’s such a lovely man.”

“That is some ring.”

“Yes he had it made. A friend of his is a jewellery designer. It’s based on some stuff my mother had.”

“That cost him a bit.”

“I didn’t ask.”

“So, he knows, does he?”

“Knows what?”

“That you’re not a woman, I mean a real one. Gay is he?”

“Margaret, I am a woman, and no, he isn’t gay. What do I have to do to prove to you that I am as much female as you now, screw Greg? Or are you worried he’d enjoy me a lot more?”

“I think you’d better leave!” she snapped.

“Don’t worry, I’m going, but I’d like the key back to my house if you don’t mind.”

She took it down off a key board on the kitchen wall and almost slapped it in my hand.

“Just because you have a vagina, it doesn’t make you a woman!” she spat at me.

“So I see,” I spat back. She nearly exploded at that and I was watching her hands. My skirt was too tight to enable any fast footwork, but if she had threatened me, I would have defended myself.

Simon was absolutely baffled as I grabbed him and dragged him away. In fact, he walked up the street still clutching his glass of wine.

* y Peswch: the cough

Easy As Falling Off A Bike

Part 300-4 (296)

by The Angbonz Consortium

I stormed into the house in an almost blind fury, slamming the door behind me. A moment later the door bell rang. If it was that woman, I was going to slap her one!

I opened the door and Simon stood there bemused holding his nose. I burst into tears and jumped on him to apologise, knocking his glass of wine all over his shirt. It obviously wasn’t my day.

The door began to slam shut and I just managed to get my foot to it, my keys were on the hall table. It would have been a locksmith job, as I’d got the spare back from that woman.

I led Simon into the house, took the glass from his hand, then stripped off his jacket and shirt, dropped the shirt in a bucket of cool soapy water, ran upstairs for a spare shirt, with a flannel and towel. I washed him, dried him and pulled his shirt on him, whilst he stood like a mannequin. To think I missed out on Barbie and Sindy.

After he was dressed, I led him to the kitchen, sat him down and poured him a glass of Dad’s whisky. He took a sip of it, coughed twice and smiled.

I kissed him gently on the tip of his nose and asked him if it hurt.

“No the kiss didn’t hurt, but that bloody door did.”

“I am so sorry my darling, I was so angry that I forgot about everything except escaping that evil woman.”

“What did she do to deserve such a powerful epithet?”

“Pity it wasn’t an epitaph!” I said back angrily.

“Look Babes, it wasn’t me who upset you, and as I wasn’t party to it, I’d like to learn the whys and wherefores.”

“She accused me of not being a proper woman,” I said and began to cry. “Do you think I’m not a proper woman?”

“Babes,” he said cuddling me, “if I didn’t think you were perfect, would I be wanting to marry you?”

“I don’t know, I don’t know anything anymore.”

“How did the conversation come up, you were only out with her two minutes?”

“She asked me if you were gay.”

“That was nice of her, the bitch!”

“When I first met her she thought Dad had a son, so the story came out.”

“Ah, I see. So she didn’t know about the surgery?”

“I don’t know. Maybe I overreacted.”

“Why? What happened?”

“I told her that I could give her husband a better shag than she could.”

Simon appeared to blush for a moment. “Was that wise?”

“I wanted her to know I could, that I wasn’t just role-playing as a woman, that I was one in most functioning elements. She got very cross.”

“I’m not entirely surprised.”

“She started it.”

“Okay, okay. I wasn’t siding with her, just seeing how your response upped the ante.”

“Yeah, I suppose so. In which case the next exchange was even worse.”

“What than being a better lover?”

“I wish I’d put it like that,” I sighed and Simon shrugged.

“How did you put it?”

“Well she told me the possession of a vagina didn’t make me female. And I responded, “So I see.” Did I do wrong?”

“Not exactly, but it wasn’t a behaviour likely to win friends.”

“I suppose not.”

“However, Stella would have been well pleased with such a short, sharp riposte.”

“Wow, the Queen of the put down! Do you think so?”

“Unlike Stella, I don’t say things for effect alone, so if I said it, I meant it.”

I sat on his lap cuddling with him, “I love you, Simon Cameron,” I said and leant over to kiss him as he picked up his Scotch. This time I left him to change his own clothes while I hid in the bedroom.

After the dinner I made, we watched some telly together, although ‘watched’ would have to have a qualified meaning, because I don’t think either of us really watched it, just followed the noise and the pictures.

When we went to bed, I avoided giving him any encouragement to think about a certain three-letter word. I mean, I told him we should be able to have a cat.

His response was quite funny, “Does that mean the next time you say you’re about to have kittens, I get the pick of the litter?”

Well, I thought it was funny… for Simon.

Easy Queasy Done A Weesie

Part 300-3 (297)

I lay in bed listening to Simon’s regular breathing. Just being with him was a delight, or it was to me. Occasionally he would jump a little or snort, then he’d roll onto his back and start to snore. I’d push him back over on his side or allow him to turn over and cuddle into my back, when he’d usually put his arm protectively around me, even though he was fast asleep.

I didn’t think I’d ever want to be single again, the loss some freedom was worth it, so far at any rate. At the same time our work would normally mean we were apart much of the day, sometimes longer. I could cope with that, providing the work was enough of a distraction. At the moment and for the foreseeable future, it was fortunately going to remain that way.

I needed to get back to work and once I’d done all that was needed here, I would go back to my projects, one of which was that blessed film, which meant meeting with Des. I wasn’t sure how much that appealed to me, which probably meant not very much at all, the meeting not the film.

Somehow I must have drifted off while thinking about the film and Des. It wasn’t the most pleasant of dreams, although maybe the term nightmare doesn’t do it justice. The fleeting bits I recall were Simon and he fighting, not over me, but about a litter of cats. They ignored me anyway, and the cat I wanted wore boots, I know, shades of Dick Whittington. But it was a dream, I hope.

The next morning, Simon was still with me when I awoke at seven. I nudged him to go and make the tea, which brought an unexpectedly vehement protest that it was my turn. I suppose it was, but that wasn’t the point—that was that he should worship me by bringing me a cuppa in the mornings. I mean it’s not that much to expect, is it?

Okay, tongue in cheek bit over, I reluctantly got out of bed and drew back the curtains, it was pretty well daylight. Simon groaned and turned over, mumbling something about coffee.

I pulled on my dressing gown and went downstairs to fill the kettle. I made some toast for both of us and took it, and the tea and coffee back to bed.

Do not eat toast in bed, it makes the sheets all scratchy, and macho men like Simon, whinge about it ever after. It’s not my fault he forgot his jammies and he refused to wear some of my father’s ones, even though they were brand new and had never been worn. I discovered he had some superstitions about dead people and things. Maybe he wasn’t as much a sceptic and secularist as he liked to have me believe.

Simon is very deep and multi-layered, and I have hardly scratched the surface. I don’t pretend to understand him any more than I do any other man, or many women, for that matter. I think I understand dormouse behaviour better than humans.

We cuddled and played before finally committing to getting up, in my case, it happened after Simon pulled the duvet completely off the bed and threw it down the stairs. If he hadn’t been so heavy, I’d have done the same to him. The pig also beat me to the shower, so I had to kick my heels waiting to get clean.

While I waited, I read my emails, including one from Tom regarding Stella. She was now back home again, and although a little frail, she seemed to be snapping back on the comments.

I was delighted to hear that Stella was bouncing back to her normal self. It was good to have her home, or it would be once we got home to Portsmouth.

I spent much of the morning ironing things which had been creased by the pressure of my wardrobes, or that I had recently washed. It struck me as absurd that my mother had a wardrobe at least twice the size of mine, which was nearly bare, whereas mine was still fairly full.

Maybe I needed to keep some of my stuff in her ’robe. I hung it all up after ironing and was ready to curl up and sleep for years. I couldn’t understand why I felt so tired all the time. There was also some of Simon’s stuff, but doing that was a pleasure more than a chore.

We were more than halfway through February, traditionally February fill-dyke and it hadn’t rained that much. Typical, get me back on my bike and it’ll start.

That was my day, boring choring. The undertaker bloke rang, addressed me as Mrs Cameron and chortled. I called him, “Mr Death!” which he didn’t seem to find funny. I told him I’d give an undertaking not to use that again. This time he laughed.

We did go for a walk and explored one or two childhood haunts of mine and the air was certainly fresh, but it was good fun and I just enjoyed walking on Simon’s arm, especially past the Soames’ house.

The enjoyment of the walk was somewhat lost when we discovered that the car had been vandalised while we were out. Some nice person had scratched ‘queer’ into it several times. We called the police, who were busy and eventually arrived, took some pictures and dusted for prints. It was going to cost some money to sort out.

I totally despise people like that, the vandals that is. I wanted to bang their heads together until they saw the light, not a very useful idea but it kept me calm.

Easy As Biking in the Fall

Part 300-2 (298)

“So who do you think could have done it?” The copper had asked and I’d related my serious spat with Mrs Soames the previous day. They went and talked with her and she was not impressed.

She came to my front door and ranted at me for several minutes.

“Margaret, please shut up.” I said this quietly but the rant continued. So I said it a little louder, still she continued her tirade. So I went for it, “SHUT UP!” I yelled and she stepped back and was quiet. “Thank you,” I said quietly, “Now you can come in and we’ll discuss this like adults or we can shout at each other like a pair of fishwives.”

She paused for a moment and came in. “Simon, put the kettle on there’s a good chap.” His jaw seemed to gape, but he did as he was told.

We went into the lounge, “Before we go any further, I have not accused you of anything,” I said. “The police asked if we had any enemies and I said no, but I had had a row with you the day before. I did add that I didn’t think it was you or Greg, because your MO is a direct approach.”

“Oh! Well I admit I think you’re a weirdo, but I don’t do damage to property.”

“Would you care for a cup of tea or coffee?” I asked. Falling out with this woman had upset me and consumed lots of energy. I had also acted in a rather common way and my mother would have been so disappointed in me, because as her daughter, it would have reflected upon her. I therefore felt a need to patch this up a little.

“Erm,” she looked at me as if I was really weird, “Coffee, please.”

“Simon, one tea, one latte, s’il vous plaît.”

“Coming up, ladies,” he called and banged about in the kitchen.

“I’m sorry I lost my temper the other day,” I said, although I didn’t really mean it.

“I suppose I was equally to blame, I was jealous of you.” She blushed and looked at the table.

“Of me? How could you be jealous of me?” I shook my head in amazement.

“You’re young and pretty with a nice body shape and lots going for you. I’m getting on and don’t like it. Besides, I’ve seen the way Greg looks at you.”

“Surely not after you put him right the other night?”

“I didn’t tell him.”

“What! You didn’t say anything?” I was astonished.

“When you first told me, I promised I’d never tell another. I may lack your education and looks, but I’m still a woman of my word.”

“Thank you, Margaret.”

At that moment Simon brought in the drinks and left, after winking at me, he’d also brought in some chocolate biscuits. I proffered them to Margaret, who took one.

“Despite what I said the other day, I’m not interested in Greg, I love one person and that is Simon, whom I shall marry in a year or two.”

“Isn’t he the son of the banker chap, Lord somebody or other?”

“Yes ,Viscount Stanebury.”

“So you’ve met his father?”

“Henry? Gosh yes, he’s a lovely guy. Mad as a hatter, but lovely.”

“And he knows about you erm…, you know?”

“Yes he knows all about my murky past, and it doesn’t seem to worry him or the rest of the family.”

“Oh!” she sat back and chewed her biscuit and sipped her coffee.

“Does that surprise you?”

“Yes and no, but what about heirs, aren’t they into carrying on the family name stuff?”

“I don’t know, if they are, they haven’t said so, but I did.”

“You did?”

“Yes I told them I couldn’t conceive or bear children.”

“Oh… it’s a pity that they can’t do something about that for you.”

This could have been a catty statement full of ironic false sympathy, but it wasn’t. It was genuine.

“Right now, just looking after Simon is enough. You know that all men are like little boys.”

“Tell me about it. Greg shouts to me from the bedroom, where did he put his socks? I mean, it’s laughable.” It was and we both chuckled.

We ate another biscuit.

“We didn’t do anything to your car you know.”

“I know. Did you see anyone around that afternoon?”

“Only some scruffy looking youth or young man.”

I described Gordon Bennett and she nodded. It figured. Maybe I’d asked for it. I would speak to Melvin, or maybe send Simon around to speak with him.

Before she left, I gave her back the key. “This isn’t meant to sound patronising, but I need someone to keep an eye on the house, as the will means I have to keep it for two years. So would you be interested, doing the sort of thing you did for Daddy? I’ll give you say twenty quid a week?”

“Yes of course I will, but don’t tell Greg you’re paying me anything.”

“Your secret is safe with me,” I said, and winked.

“Likewise,” she said.

“So what did you tell Greg about the other day?”

“I told him it was PMS.”

“And he believed you?”

“Yes, he has long memories of my mood swings.”

“Oh! Okay. I suppose that means he’ll never come near me again.”

“Exactly,” she smiled, and I nodded.

“What about the car?”

“He only knows it’s been vandalised.”

Simon poked his head around the door, “They are coming to get the car in an hour.”

“What are we going to use?” I asked.

“The courtesy car. They say they’ll need three days.”

“Fine, thanks for sorting that,” I said and he nodded back at me.

“He’s a nice looking fellow,” Margaret blushed as she showed her own fantasies.

“My Simon? Yeah, I suppose he’s not too bad for a chinless wonder.”

“What!” she exclaimed and then we both laughed.

Much to my surprise, Margaret hugged me as she left, “I’m sorry I was so rude to you the other day. You’re a very lovely young woman, and it was wrong of me.”

“I’m sure neither of us came out of that encounter with any credit, so shall we cross it off the record?”

“Let’s do that, shall we?”

We hugged again and it seemed I might have made a new friend in Bristol.

After she had left I mused on where we went next in solving the mystery of my vandalised car, eventually I decided. “Simon, how do you fancy fish and chips for tea?” I called out to my large fiancé.

Easy As Walling Up A Dyke

Part 300-1 (299)

by Bonzi and Angharad (still coughing)

I was pleased that Margaret and I had settled our differences, and I explained to Simon as he drove us in the ‘loan’ car towards the chip shop. If I’d got things wrong, we could have a long wait, but I assumed that Melvin would need to go in an hour or so before the shop opened to help get enough food ready to be able to open.

The car we’d been loaned was a Fiat Uno, and I didn’t like it. Neither did Simon, but it was better than walking. He took a newspaper with him and so I got the job of watching for Melvin. Talk about boring, it was beyond belief, making the observation of paint drying, quite exciting by comparison.

We sat there for twenty minutes, during which time, two people passed us. I wondered how passing trade would impact such a business, not very much it seemed. I was so deep in this thought that I nearly missed Melvin walking up towards the shop. It was Simon who spotted him.

As he drew level with the car, I jumped out and accosted him—well it was better than saying I solicited him, that would make me a solicitor!

“Melvin, could I have a word?” I said, which distracted him enough for Simon to cut off any retreat.

“Marion, I mean Char… Cathy!”

I moved him closer to the car. “You didn’t perchance tell Bennett where I lived, did you?”

“What, Gordon?”

“You know any others, not including the family in Pride and Prejudice?”

“Nah, not really.”

“So did you tell him?”

“I mighta done, why?”

“Did he ask what sort of car I drove?”

“I can’t remember, why?”

“Did you speak with him after the meeting in the pub?”

“What is this, the Spanish Inquisition?” he asked loudly.

I gave Simon a ‘Stella’ glance and he didn’t go straight into the Monty Python sketch. I was amazed, it proved he was capable of learning new behaviours, so why was it so difficult to get him to pick up his dirty underpants from the bathroom floor?

“Just answer the questions, Sunshine,” I said in a Michael Caine parody, which of course he missed, not a lot of people know dat.

“Yeah, he called me that night after I got off work, saying how amazing you looked and so on.”

“And?”

“He asked me what you were doing so I told him, then he asked where you were living, well I said in Portsmuff, an’ he said, ‘What? Are they commuting?’ or something similar. I said, ‘No,’ and told ’im where you lived. Did I do somethin’ wrong?”

“Somebody did about a grand’s worth of damage to my car.”

“Oh, shit!”

“We have a witness who saw ’im in the area. I just wanted to make sure it was him.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know yet.”

“You gonna tell the police?”

“I might, but then again I might just cripple him. Or I could get Simon to make one phone call and tomorrow he wouldn’t exist.”

“What? I thought you were a lady?”

“I am, which is why he isn’t dead already.”

“Jeez Cha… I mean Cathy, I didn’t think you were a bearer of grudges.”

“You didn’t see what he wrote on the car, or actually, scratched.”

“Oh shit!”

“No Melvin, it wasn’t that. He seemed to think that I may be homosexual and used the vernacular for that. Obviously, I am not lesbian, so he got that wrong as well.”

“I think he might have meant that, ’cos you are engaged to Simon.”

“Good lord, do you think so?” I was getting so good at lying, I could even feign surprise.

“Yes, you silly bugger.”

I gave him an old-fashioned look, “That is one thing you cannot accuse me of.”

He looked puzzled. “I don’t have the necessary equipment.”

The penny dropped. He laughed, “That’s very good, Char… Cathy.”

“So where might we find your erstwhile friend?”

“Erm, dunno.” It was obvious he was lying.

“Simon, could you please help Melvin remember?”

Simon, who’d been silent so far, made himself look rather larger than usual and stepped towards Melvin. Amazingly, his amnesia passed very quickly.

“Give me your mobile, Melvin,” I demanded.

He went to protest, but handed it over.

“Save us two nice pieces of plaice, won’t you? See you in about an hour. I’ll give this back then. Don’t try to call him on another phone, or Simon might start breaking bits off you instead. Do you think Bennett will look good in dresses from now on?”

“I, erm, why?”

“Well because men’s clothes will be so inappropriate after we finish with him.”

“You’re not going to hurt him, are you?”

“Only to an equivalent amount to the damage he did, about a thousand pounds, which I reckon both his testicles and the other dangly bit would cover.”

“You wouldn’t do that to him would you?”

“I won’t, Simon will. Show him the cutter, Simon.” Simon produced a farm implement from his pocket, or it looked like one. It was actually a can opener which I hadn’t been able to work out how to use. Melvin went pale. “See you later, Melvin. Remember, no phone calls unless you want your balls in batter, frying with the sausage that hangs alongside them.”

He shook his head so vigorously he made himself dizzy.

We drew up outside Bennett’s flat just in time to see him go sprinting down the street. We followed in the car. We didn’t for long. He ran out in front of a passing taxi and got thrown up into the air, landing with a rather sickening crump. We left him there as a small crowd had gathered and drove back to the chippy.

Melvin tried to avoid eye contact as he saw me enter the shop. “Plaice and chips twice, please, with a mushy peas and carton of beans.”

He told me the price and I paid him. He’d obviously fried the fish because we didn’t have to wait. As he handed them to me, I said, “We didn’t actually see Bennett. He skedaddled and got himself run over.”

“What?”

“Yeah, a taxi cab hit him, so we kinda thought someone must have called him.”

“I… I… I… it wasn’t meeee!” he said, wiping the sweat from his brow.

“I’m glad to hear it, Melvin. Oh here’s your phone.” I threw it to him and he dropped it into the fat fryer. “Oops!” I said for him.

After a little phoning around, I managed to find to which hospital Bennett had been taken. Southmead, of all places. So I sent him some flowers from the car resprayers, saying, ‘Thanks for the business.’

The fish and chips were delicious again. Must go and see Melvin again before long. I wonder if his phone still works?

Easy As Crawling Through A Pipe

Part Tri-Centenary Edition (300)

by A&B

“Cathy, how good to hear from you. When can we get together again?”

“Would you like to come around this evening?”

“Would I ever?” said Des gleefully.

“Good, I’ll tell Simon to order for three of us.”

“What?”

“We’re having a Chinese takeaway, so we can devote time to talking about the film.”

“Oh yes, the film… I’ll bring my stuff over.”

“Why else did you think I would phone?”

“No reason,” he lied in reply to my silly question.

He eventually arrived at seven thirty as invited, and the food came at eight. It was okay, I’ve tasted better but it filled a hole and enabled me to concentrate on the subject of the film.

At this stage we were considering the overall theme, that of a dormouse from its birth to maturity. Maybe even a shot of a tawny owl attacking something, and a horrible squeak.

Dormice may be protected from humans, they aren’t from predators so things that can climb or fly can theoretically take them. Owls are phenomenal hunters, able to strike by hearing alone helped by their asymmetric ears. Behind the facial disc are two ears, one is higher than the other, which gives them a sort of stereophonic hearing and an ability to judge distance with deadly accuracy. Ask any field mouse. Cats have the same sort of ability with equally amazing hearing.

Simon sat in on the meeting with some purpose. Apart from protecting ‘his’ property, he contributed to the ideas we were brainstorming. His one outing with me dormouse hunting gave him some insight, and he helped us to see things we might have missed without.

So whilst the film would show the life and times of one individual dormouse, it would also show some of our recording team doing their rounds, counting and weighing dormice, and using the trackers to see how far they ranged in their foraging.

It appeared I was going to narrate the thing, of which I was not terribly in favour. However, Henry was, so that was that. We would co-author the script and adapt it as we went along. If it showed me, it would be fleetingly, and most of the narration would be by voice-over, not with me as part of the film.

Simon got me to agree to include the dormouse juggling clip in it. Des was equally in favour. That was it, he’d now consider the direction and how he wanted to film it and then we’d start shooting.

When Des left, I crawled up to bed and nearly forgot to brush my teeth, I felt so tired. I did manage to get to bed and the last thing I remember was falling asleep with Simon tucked into the back of me and his left arm around me.

I awoke in the night—it was very dark. I lay still and listened, something had woken me. I lifted my head off the pillow and listened again.

“What’s the matter?” asked Simon sleepily.

“I don’t know, I thought I heard something.”

There was a blinding blue flash which reflected off the mirror on my wardrobe and nearly dazzled me. A short time later, a huge crash seemed to rattle the bed in which we were lying.

“Wow!” I said and snuggled close to Simon.

“You’re not scared of thunder and lightning, are you?”

“Not really, but that was very close.”

“Yeah, I know count the seconds between them,” he said, “I was in the scouts too.”

“I wasn’t. They told me to go to the guides, but I never did.”

“You could now?”

“I’m too old, silly.” I chaffed him.

“No, you nit, to be a guider, run the local group or help to.”

“How could I do that? I’ve never been to a guide meeting, let alone made a fire by rubbing two boy scouts together.”

“How about we see if I can light your fire, you know, rub you with my little boy scout?”

“Simon, you are silly, and it’s the middle of the night.”

“So?” he said and pulled me over on top of him, kissing me and stroking my breasts.

Far from feeling sleepy, I became excited, more so as he kissed me and his hand felt down to my legs and then between them. I was still tender there, but he was so gentle and a little while later we made love.

Okay so I shall be walking around with a big smile on my face for days, it was so lovely and better than anything I’d experienced before, now I was so tender and felt so hot, that I thought I could fry eggs on it.

With that post orgasmic glow, I snuggled into Simon and drifted into a relaxed sleep. It wasn’t to last.

I don’t know how much later, there was a flash and bang, followed by another and another. I was trying not to surface from my sleep, but the noise was too much. Flash crash! The whole house shook, and I swore at it.

It seemed to stop for a moment and I smirked at Simon, who sniggered. Then we had a blindingly bright flash with an almost simultaneous flat K_E_R_A_S_H, the noise was different and horribly loud.

“Jesus!” I said, something’s been hit.

“What?” said Simon as I jumped out of bed.

“Crikey, it’s the Soames’ house! The roof’s on fire, call the fire brigade.”

I threw on a jogging suit and shoes and ran off towards the house. The rain was teeming down but it wasn’t abating the fire which was looking serious.

I was banging on the door and shouting, Simon came running up behind me, “They’re on their way.”

“They’re not answering, I hope they’re okay.”

Some neighbours from across the road had arrived. The double-glazed windows and doors were beyond forcing. Someone arrived with a big screwdriver and tried to force the lock: it wouldn’t work.

I snatched it off him and struck the bottom corner of a small window, it bounced off. I hit it again even harder and the glass broke sending a big crack up the window. Another bash and the inner pane broke. Simon pushed me aside and opened the window. Thank goodness it wasn’t locked. However he was too big to get through it.

“Lift me up,” I said.

“No Cathy, you’re not going in there.”

“Lift me up, now!” He reluctantly did so and I found myself inside the cloakroom.

The lights didn’t work, I crept up the stairs, then I heard shouting, I ran into the bedroom, the roof was well alight now and the flickering flames showed me what was happening. They were pinned in their bed by a fallen timber. Margaret was screaming, Greg lay still.

I couldn’t move it by myself, so I ran down the stairs and let in some of the men. They followed me up the stairs and between us we managed to lift the wood enough for another one to drag Greg out of the bed, then we did the same with Margaret who was by now hysterical. She’d hurt her leg so someone had to carry her. Greg was manhandled down the stairs and put safely onto the lawn in the front garden of a neighbouring house.

I checked him for vitals, he had none. “Oh shit!”

I began thirty chest compressions, then two breaths and thirty more. Simon came to assist me—he did the compressions, while I did the two breaths.

Sirens and flashing blue lights announced the arrival of the fire engines, two of them. They told us to continue while they produced oxygen and a defibrillator.

“Stand clear,” said the paramedic who had now arrived to take over and Greg was zapped by the current. His body jumped or jolted—nothing. Another go and this time his heart produced a rhythm, which was irregular but at least beating.

He was taken off in the ambulance, Margaret had already gone with a suspected broken femur. The fire was extinguished after two hours, so a large part of the house was damaged. It would be uninhabitable for months.

About five in the morning, after consuming a cup of tea made by some of the neighbours, I felt exhausted—I suppose the adrenalin had stopped running. Simon and I went home and showered and dried and went back to bed. I couldn’t sleep, all I could hear were Margaret’s calls for help.

I did manage to sleep eventually; Simon of course was snoring like a pig within a relatively short time. We awoke about ten and after a quick breakfast found out that the casualties had both been taken to Southmead.

To cut a long story short, Margaret had a pin and plate in her femur, and Greg was in intensive care. He’d suffered a blow to his head, which somehow had caused the heart attack. They thought he was going to make it.

“Thank you, Cathy,” said Margaret, “You saved our lives.”

“Well, us girls have got to stick together,” I said, winking at her. She smiled and nodded.

“You, you’re a regular girl scout!” said Simon as he put his arm around me and led me back to the car park.

“Yeah, but helped by a regular boy scout, this time,” I said before I kissed him.

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