It’s a few weeks since I last posted a short story on my blog for readers to download free of charge so I sat down to write another. I don’t know where the idea came from but the words flowed quite easily:
It was Bone a Crone Night at the Coed-y-Go Country House Hotel and Constable Emlyn Davies was in the shrubbery with Mary Flynn when a chair was thrown through the ballroom windows and he heard the sound of raised voices.
Torn between Mary’s charms and his duty as a police officer, Emlyn made to pull his pants up but Mary had not been seen to for weeks and she was not letting go now. When Mary Flynn lies on you, you get up when Mary lets you and not before.
When she was done she eased back onto her haunches, reached for her pearlised hessian evening bag and took out a packet of Silk Cut.
Emlyn, an astonished look on his face, was staring into space. ‘I could do you for rape,’ he murmured.
She held out the pack. ‘Want one?’
Emlyn took a cigarette and waited for Mary to light it for him. ‘Hell of a row going on in there,’ he said. ‘I should go in and find out what’s happening.’
‘I’d let it calm down first. You’re off duty, aren’t you? If he needs help, the landlord has a phone.’
‘That could take some time. From here, he’ll call Oswestry. There’s no-one there. So the call will be switched to Shrewsbury. There won’t be anyone there, either, so it’ll route on to Telford or Wolverhampton. I can’t see any cars getting here for an hour or so.’
‘We can be gone by then. Why don’t I show you what my husband used to like?’
‘I didn’t know you’d been married.’
‘Common law. You want to try his way? Or not?’
“His way” demanded concentration. When it was over, flashing blue lights were visible in the inky blackness above Emlyn’s head. It took him a moment to realise that they really were caused by his fellow officers from West Mercia Police and not by the experience Mary had just led him through.
‘Come on,’ said Mary.
‘You want your colleagues to find you here?’
‘They’d want to know why I hadn’t done anything.’
‘We’d best go, then.’
‘They won’t be letting anyone out of the car park.’
‘Let’s take a look.’
But Emlyn had been right. When they emerged from the bushes on the edge of the car park, it was to see a note pinned under one of his windscreen wipers. ‘Constable Davies. See me.’ It was signed by an inspector Emlyn had never heard of.
‘He’s in there.’ One of the two PCs assigned to prevent cars from leaving pointed at the porticoed main door to the hotel.
‘Can I go?’ asked Mary.
‘Have you got any ID?’
Mary pointed at Emlyn’s retreating back. ‘He’s just taken down my particulars.’
‘Better clear off then. Before you get in the same mess he’s in.’
When I reached that point I was quite pleased with the way things were going but a little voice somewhere in the back of my head was becoming ever more insistent. ‘What do you think you’re doing? Sixty per cent of your readers are women. You had someone object to use of the word “slapper” in the title of Zappa’s Mam’s a Slapper. What the hell do you think they’re going to say when they read the first line of this? Okay, you know and I know that Bone a Crone is merely the local take on Grab a Granny – but your readers don’t know that. You’re asking for trouble; you’ll lose the lot of them with one story. A story you won’t even have been paid for.’
I don’t know who it belonged to but the little voice was right. I put Constable Emlyn and Mary Flynn to one side and started a new story with:
She’d known for weeks he had something to tell her. Married forty years, most of it okay and some of it – more than most people had, she thought – actually happy, you know when there’s something you’re not being told. She had a damn good idea what it was, too. What she hoped was that when he finally found the courage he’d tell her straight. Not, “I’m checking out,” sounding like Barry O’Brien when he told them he’d accepted a new job. There was no new job in prospect here. A big adventure, perhaps. Unless that turned out to be fiction, and all you did was lie there in the ground and rot. Not, “I’m a goner,” like some actor in an old time Western. She’d never forgotten that joke Terry had told her, back in the days when jokes like that weren’t told to nice girls like her. The one about the Lone Ranger being bitten by a rattlesnake right on the end of his word a young man couldn’t use in those days to a well brought up girl and he’d had to gesticulate but she’d got the message and he sends Tonto into town to find a doctor. And the doctor says the only cure for a rattlesnake bite is to suck the poison out through the same hole it went in at, and without that there is no escape from death. And Tonto rides back to camp, and when the Lone Ranger asks what the doctor said Tonto says, ‘He say you gonna die, Kemo Sabe.’
I’m pleased with where this one is heading and I’m going to stick with it. I can’t quite shake the sadness, though, that I may never know what happened after that chair came flying through the window of the Coed-y-Go Country House Hotel. Perhaps someone else will take it up and finish it for me.