Archive | August, 2014


31 Aug

old church photo: Old abandoned church. IMG_2426.jpg14.

“I think we’d better go,” muttered Royston, “we can’t stand around here gossiping all day, much as we’d like to…”
“No, we can’t,” added Angelina, clinging on to his arm. Somewhere, she knew, there would be a warm sun shining, almost certainly back home, which wasn’t all that far away – but this wretched blasted place, this was no place for any sun to waste its energy … this was the very anteroom of Hell itself!
“But you must come with me…” crowed the stranger, “for only by accompanying me will you retrieve your lost and precious eyeglass… and yes, you can have it, once the magic has been done…”
“Magic? Are you some kind of loony?” asked Royston.
“Now that’s not nice,” hissed the stranger, “and so that you don’t find it necessary to insult me any more I’d best tell you my name. You can call me Mr Smith if you like, but I’d prefer it if you called me Gabriel…”
“Gabriel? Is that your real name?” asked Angelina, and Royston grinned behind her back.
“I have had myself baptised in that name,” almost cooed the man. “Now come with me, the two of you, and see what you must see…”
And from a pocket in his uniform he pulled out a small pistol, more like a water pistol that a gun save for the way the dim light of day managed to glint dully from its surface.
“Hey! You can put that thing away!” barked Royston, taking half a step towards him. But only half a step because the small pistol spat a slug of lead so close to his left ear that he could feel the whish of its passing. Another millimetre, he thought, and I’d be a goner.
“There’s no need for that!” he exploded, and he felt the world receding from him as he collapsed onto the gravel road.
“Now you’ve done it!” shouted Angelina, and she knelt by Royston, patting his cheeks and pushing one hand on his chest in a gentle rhythm that may or may not have had curative properties.
“You’ve killed him!” she hissed at Gabriel Smith. “Look, you’ve shot him!”
“I missed,” declared Smith, but she noticed a waver in his voice as if the confidence he’d been displaying to them had been wafer thin.
Royston moaned, then he groaned, then he moaned again.
Slowly he moved, and even more slowly stood up. He was used to the fainting fits he was prone to, and knew how best to come out of them.
“I feel … woozy…” he groaned.
“I’ll take care of you,” whispered Angelina, and she held him to her, pulling him with one hand firmly on his buttocks.
“Oh dear…” he moaned, enjoying the intimate contact.
“I think he’s just about recovered,” Angelina told the stranger, “but I warn you – if he collapses again you might find yourself in very serious trouble with the law!”
“There is no law around here,” muttered Gabriel, but he still didn’t seem to want to look her in the eye.
“Just be careful,” Angelina told him, firmly.
“If you are … vertical, then come with me,” repeated the man called Smith. “I have no intention of harming you, but if you do not do as I tell you then I will be obliged to shoot you. It’s as simple as that…”
“But why us?” stammered Angelina.
“It was you who returned the eyeglass to me. Don’t you see that? Can’t you see how important that makes you? Somewhere in the cosmos there’s a saint waiting for you…”
“It was Blinky!” shouted Royston. “It was the blind man! That eyeglass had very little to do with either of us! We’re just charged with retrieving it and returning it to its rightful owner, a young policeman of our town!”
“That’s enough!” barked he who called himself Gabriel. “No more talk of policemen, young or old, I order you! Now come!”
He indicated that they should walk in front of him with a flick of the muzzle of his pistol, and they did as they were told. It is, thought Royston, useless using words against a madman with a gun…
The day was still gloomy, but they were made to walk down a narrow road, and it was barely easier than walking over the broken moors, for there were potholes all along it, and some of the potholes contained deeper potholes of their own.
After a while the bleak scenery gave way to a village of squat stone houses, many of which looked deserted and on the verge of tumbling down themselves, to match Brainache Castle which, by then, lay hidden in a kind of swirling mist behind them.
They were made to walk down what must have been a main street. Part way down a pub sign slowly rocked from side to side, and Royston wondered where the breeze that blew it was blowing to and from. He couldn’t feel even the least breath of moving air.
Then they came to a church, and the two strangers were made to stop.
“Inside!” hissed Gabriel.
There was nothing for it but to go into a building that was every bit as derelict as the rest of the village.
“Come!” hissed Gabriel, and he moved in front of them, to lead the way. They followed him. It seemed pointless doing anything else. If they tried to run off he would quite easily have shot both of them, though why their presence or their lives was so important to him they had no idea.
He marched to the front of the church and there they noticed a strange wooden contraption, obviously jerry-built out of scrap materials. If anything could be called frail, it’s this,” thought Royston
“We are here!” crowed Gabriel Smith.
“Where?” asked Royston, trying to sound braver than he felt. Somewhere at the back of his mind there was a woolly cloud threatening to descend on his consciousness once again, and he fought against it.
“Here!” repeated Gabriel, and he stood before the weird wooden contraption.
“Behold!” he added, and he reached into his pocket and removed the loupe he had stolen from Blinky Curmudgen.
“This will focus the rays of the sun onto the coffin beneath the floor, and my Auntie Gladys will receive warmth and life from the sun, her heart will beat again and she will become alive!”
“What sun?” asked Angelina.
“It will shine,” nodded Gabriel. “I have decreed that it will shine!”
And carefully, theatrically, he placed the loupe in the wooden cradle he had made for it.
How many hours it had taken to craft that fragile thing, they had no idea, but the wooden bits and pieces, lined up to perfection so that the loupe would be held perfectly focussed onto the mound where apparently he had buried his aunt, looked more fragile than a house made of matchsticks.
And it was.
“Halt!” boomed a voice from the door, and a shot rang out.
The two from 221c knew that voice all right.
It was Blinky Curmudgeon, and he was facing the wrong way and trying to look threatening as the golden eyeglass tinkled from its disintegrating cradle to the stone floor of the old church..
© Peter Rogerson 31.08.14

30 Aug




SHORT SKIRT GIRL photo: Caution caution.jpg13.

There’s nothing drearier, nothing more depressing, than the wild, unkempt moorland where the ancients of medieval military mayhem decided to build Brainache Castle, and where, centuries after it was first built, reinforcements made it an ideal bastion of one side and then the other during the Civil War that raged during the seventeenth century. Though the accounts of those battles have been lost to history, more blood flowed on that foul land than anywhere else.
Even the skies are dreary, a mottled grey that occasionally weeps tears of sorrow upon all who wretchedly try to shelter on the lands below.
And as for shelter, there is none. Any woodland that had existed in primeval times was destroyed as woodsmen and carpenters worked upon them and crafted first one fortification and then, later, a second one of stone, and because of the poverty in the soil, the trees never replaced themselves. Instead, a thorny kind of heather, dull as ditch-water even in high summer, seemed to blanket the ground, covering rocks and crevices like a magic invisibility cloak.
And it was there that Royston and Angelina stood, staring wretchedly at a world that might never have been had medieval warns raged more soundly. But world it was, and the crumbling remnants of an ancient castle did nothing to increase its beauty, especially bearing in mind the knowledge in both of their heads that an assortment of old bones had been piled underground, waiting for historians to gloat over them and count their vertebrae.
“It’s horrid,” shivered Angelina, “and so cold… I wish I’d put more clothes on.”
Royston shivered. “It was sunny back at 221c,” he reminded her, “and it looked as if it was going to stay that way. But here, in the wretched fringes of life … I’m cold too!”
“I thought this little skirt that I chose would lighten things,” sighed Angelina, “I thought it would help make the sun shine if I wore a nice colourful cotton skirt… but I feel wretched, and my knees are shivering along with the rest of me…”
“If it helps, I think you look lovely,” muttered Royston, a lump in his throat. “If it wasn’t for the way you shine I reckon I’d be doing myself in right here and now!”
“Do I shine?” whispered Angelina.
“Do you shine? There’s nobody brighter, not here, not back home, nowhere!” declared Royston. “I think … Angelina, I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but I think you’re the most beautiful creature on this entire planet!”
“You can say nice things like that as often as you want,” sighed the young woman. “It never does any harm for a girl to be told that she’s appreciated.”
“Well you most certainly are, and if you’re cold I’ll lend you my jacket,” he said stoutly.
“No. There’s not need for that. Just snuggle up to me,” whispered Angelina, “and I am glad that old Blinky isn’t here. Even with his non-existent eyesight he’d put the dampers on anything remotely … intimate.”
“Do you want to be remotely intimate?” whispered Angelina.
“If it helps.” His voice was shivering, but it wasn’t the cold.
“It helps.” the sound of her voice was dressed in silence. Her eyes spoke loud as thunderclaps. Hold me tight in this depressing place, they shouted, take me in your arms, Royston, and cuddle me … that’ll make this whole adventure all right!
“Now then, now then, now then, what’s going on here?” came a voice through the daylit gloom of the dreadful moor. They remembered it so well: the guard or whatever he was who had, according to Blinky, stolen the loupe. “We can’t have hanky-panky here, no we cannot! This is a sacred place where the gods forbid naughtiness!”
“There’s nothing naughty about comforting a lady in distress and if any gods ever trod on this revolting land they can’t have been up to much … and hey, we’ve come to see you!”
It certainly was the peak-capped uniformed guard who they had seen during their last visit. He was quite clearly of the breed of men who likes power over others, whose whole life is guided by who he can obstruct and in whatever way he can find to do it. Mean he would have been as an infant in arms, biting the teat that fed him with embryonic teeth and staring with vicious baby eyes into the face of its adoring mother, and mean he was now, needing to dominate but with a minuscule amount of power with which to do it. He was little more than the attendant of an unused car-park, and that offered him precious little opportunity to exercise his power.
“Haha!” called Angelina, snuggling close to Royston, “the very man! We have been sent to retrieve what you stole from out boss!”
“I never steal,” grated the guard, “I take what is rightfully mine, and I guess it was the eyeglass you believe I stole? Well, it was mine, left to me in her will by my aunty Gladys, and when I detected it in the blind man’s pocket I resolved to reclaim it! No man should be denied what is truly his, by right. I then took myself to the late lamented aunty’s graveside, and I said a little prayer. Oh, yes I did! I prayed that she be reunited with her precious eyeglass because it has brought me nothing but ill-luck since she bequeathed it to me!”
“Tattle!” declared Royston, “that worthless lump of glass and metal had nothing to do with you!”
“How dared you!” almost exploded the guard. “When I saw it deep in the blind man’s pocked, glinting at me, I knew what it was! It was my inheritance, and I did the only right thing! I stood by her grave, the grass beginning to grow in tufts where it had been filled in, and I knelt as if in prayer. But it was no prayer! Oh no! Before it was stolen from me I had placed a curse on it. I had danced at midnight under the moon, naked on the moor, willy flapping about like a wild thing, and I had beseeched the spirits of the underworld to wrap themselves inside its shiny metal structure, and go magically from there to the old lady in her grave, and touch her still and decomposing heart until it beat again…
“I had cast a spell than no man could break!”
Angelina and Royston stared at him in horror. Before them stood a man who was so clearly insane that they feared his madness might go beyond imaginary spells and weird incantations, and come forth as a threat before them in that direful place.
And the light in his eyes confirmed that might be a truly justified fear.
© Peter Rogerson


26 Aug


POLICEWOMAN photo: Betty Boop Policewoman IMG_7926.png12.

“Well, that was a turn-up for the books!” declared Blinky Curmudgeon when they were back at 221C. It was already late morning and a groaning in Royston’s stomach suggested it might be almost time to break for lunch. But Blinky continued. “Who would have thought it: that loupe we treasured so much no more than a cheap piece of souvenir tat!” he muttered.
“I had my suspicions…” murmured Angelina. “But when I did my research…”
“Where did you do that?” demanded Royston.
“A few contacts from my days in uniform … and on the Internet,” sighed Angelina. “Oh, I know the web is full of dis-information and downright lies, but I had to start somewhere, and what with my proper job…”
“Proper job?” interrupted Blinky, “what proper job? Isn’t this your proper job? How can a seventy year-old woman with a bad back and fallen arches hold down two high pressure jobs at the same time?”
Angelina groaned and shook her head. “Tell him, Royston,” she whispered.
“Tell him what?” demanded Blinky. “I hope you haven’t been keeping secrets from me! After all, I am your employer and one word from me will put you in the dole queue!”
Royston coughed. “She’s not seventy, sir,” he said quietly, “she’s not even almost seventy. She’s not sixty or fifty or forty … I’m not sure how old she is, but she makes love like a twenty year-old!”
“That’s nice,” purred Angelina, “very generous and has earned you quite a few brownie points. Twenty year-old. I like it!”
“Not seventy!” exploded Blinky. “You mean, she lied on her application? You mean I thought I had a competent secretary when all I’ve got is a slip of a lass with no sense? And makes love? What do you know about the way she makes love?”
“I’m the same secretary as I was when you thought I had one foot in the grave,” retorted Angelina, “and if you want to know why I’ve confused you about my age let me say it’s all your fault!”
“What is? Lies? My fault that you tell downright filthy lies?” bawled Blinky.
“It certainly is. Sir.” She was adamant. He could hear it in her voice. It was like a texture in the atmosphere in the room, an inflexible, almost caustic texture.
“And how do you work that out?” he demanded.
“Do you recall, sir, before that pistol exploded in your face?” she reminded him. “Do you remember that lady police constable with what you referred to as interesting boobs and eye-catching legs, the one who wore a skirt you used to like to allow your hands drift up?”
“I did no such thing!” boomed Curmudgeon. “I never would! It’s disgusting!”
She nodded, though he couldn’t see. “It is, sir,” she replied, “and the lady who most knows how disgusting it is must surely be the lady assaulted in that way, and that lady, sir, was me!”
There was a silence during which an observer might have counted up to ten nice and slowly.
“You were a policewoman?” asked Curmudgeon, his voice strangled as if an unseen foe had tied something made of barbed wire round his neck, and was pulling on both ends. “You were that policewoman? You were that pretty little sex kitten with the come-to-bed eyes and a gorgeous bottom? You’re not a seventy year-old harridan with wrinkles and sagging breasts? Oh, lordy me, why have you made such a fool of me?”
“Mr Curmudgeon,” she replied, “the shape and texture of my eyes were both surely in your own mind in much the same way as your groping fingers were up my skirt when you thought nobody was looking! You might have got a clue how I felt about it from the way I slapped you away! And if anyone’s made a fool of you it’s you yourself! I never told you my age and left it up to you to draw your own conclusions when I was encouraged to apply for the job as your secretary. The County Force look upon you as their responsibility and needed to put someone they could trust in your office, and it was they who chose me. That was behind your back, of course. You see, they knew that I blame myself for the accident that robbed you of your sight, barging into the firing range like I did when maybe I should have waited before interrupting you… but it’s all in the past and I don’t think I was really to blame.” It had been a long speech, and she sighed as she sat down.
“Well, well, well…” muttered Royston. “Up your skirt, eh?” His stomach rumbled audibly as he spoke, and he scraped one foot on the floor in the hope the sound would cover it up. It didn’t.
“Amongst other places,” she replied, but she grinned at him and rubbed her own stomach as if to suggest she understood..
“It must have been a misunderstanding…” began Blinky, who was oblivious to anything else. “I would never behave in such a reprehensible way…”
“Wouldn’t you?” she asked, tellingly.
“Sod it, maybe once in a blue moon!” he blustered. “But I don’t do it now! You’ve got to admit that much! I haven’t laid a hand on you since you joined me here at 221C! This is another time, another place – and I’m another man, for goodness’ sake!”
“Because you think I’m past it…” murmured Angelina. “In your head, seventy’s past it… you wait until I tell my Auntie Josephine… she’ll likely want to show you a thing or two!”
“Miss Parr’s no way past it,” sighed Royston without thinking, and the young woman kicked his shin, though with what amounted to gentle force.
“The case!” rasped Curmudgeon. “We must pay due attention to the case, because it’s not solved, not by any means!”
“I doubt we’re up against the Mafia, though,” muttered Royston, “it’s a simple case of pick-pocketing if you ask me and not a gang of desperadoes after a priceless treasure.”
“Pick-pocketing is a crime,” said Angelina, “and pick-pockets probably graduate to armed robbery given half a chance.”
“True, too true,” muttered Blinky, “so we must do something about it. We must get Tiny’s loupe back and show the scumbags that we won’t stand for that kind of criminal nonsense!”
“Then it’ll mean another trip to Brainache Castle…” sighed Royston. “I found it … not so pleasant an environment for a sensitive soul like Miss Parr to have to breathe the noxious air of dead bones and … you know what I mean.” He was waffling, and knew it.
“Bones or no bones, I need to recover what was stolen from me,” interjected Blinky. “And if you two are in my employ you can come with me. You see, you may not have noticed but I’m a little short-sighted.” He turned to Angelina, “that’s probably why I mistook your skirt for something … else,” he added, lamely.
“That’s a novel excuse,” she replied, glibly, “seeing as at the time you had 20/20 vision!”
“What are we doing, then?” asked Royston, “I’m getting peckish already and that fish and chip shop we went to, Angelina, was a bit of all right!”
“We’re going back to Brainache!” decided Inspector Curmudgeon. “We’ll get a bite to eat and then we’ll be off! And we won’t return until that loupe is safely back in my pocket!”
“About time too,” sighed Royston, and his stomach emitted another rattle, like distant thunder.
© Peter Rogerson 26.08.14


25 Aug


INFLATABLE DOLL photo: doll s25.jpg

“He just fell down like a sack of potatoes!” exclaimed Tiny Bloxam as he tried to lift up the dead weight of Royston Williams from where he lay prone on his doorstep.
“He thought you were dead,” snapped Angelina in an unkindly voice as she ran, panting towards the groaning Royston. “That’s a thoughtless thing to do to a man with a weak heart,” she added viciously, “standing there as large as life when he thought you were dead. You should be ashamed of yourself!”
“Hey! What’s going on?” roared Blinky from the car. “Have you got into the place? I hear no shots! Is it lousy with scumbags bristling with semi-automatic armaments all primed and ready to go, go go? Are you being kidnapped?”
“It’s Tiny!” called back Angelina.
“What? Haven’t they carted his corpse off yet?” shouted Blinky. “That’s what I call inconsiderate, letting the flesh of a good officer decompose in the open street! Why, he could have been mauled by any number of cats! Dogs could have had a field day, tearing his flesh from his bones! I smell cat here and now, a tabby by its stink! I hate cats.”
“He’s alive!” called Angelina, and “sir,” she added as a slightly offensive afterthought.
“Nonsense!” boomed Blinky. “We were told of his demise only yesterday!”
“I am, sir, alive…” put in a confused Tiny Bloxam. “… and well,” he added as a form of confirmation.
“No you’re not. You’re dead!” woofed Blinky, “and when I say you’re dead that’s exactly what you are! I will not be contradicted! Why, man, we’ve spent the last twenty-four hours working out how best to get the swine who shot you! We were quite prepared to put our own lives on the line – at least the other two were! So do us all a favour, will you, and lie down and be dead!”
“Take no notice of him,” whispered Angelina. “He’s blind as a bat and twice as stupid,” she added, wondering if bats really were stupid or just pretended to be.
“It’s old Curmudgeon, isn’t it?” asked Tiny, “I’d know that voice anywhere! He’s a swine … they all say that, all the coppers across the county! I even went to his so-called open day in order to see just how ridiculous he is … I like a good joke, you know … they don’t call me Teasing Tiny for nothing!”
“Teasing Tiny, eh? Anyway, I saw you there,” hissed Angelina.
“Of course you did! I recognise you now! How are you? I thought you were the most beautiful creature on God’s Earth … or on any earth come to think of it… I had wonderful dreams about you that night, the sort of dreams no man should explain to a lovely lady for fear of causing her head to swell and her underwear to fall off … but you left such an impression on me and I hardly got a wink of proper sleep that night. I even had to blow up my inflatable doll as a substitute…”
“And that’s meant to be flattering?” gasped Angelina. “Inflatable doll indeed! But before I slap your face I think we should do something about the Sergeant here…”
Royston groaned and stirred. He’d had quite enough of lying on the cold concrete of Tiny’s doorstep and would have struggled to his feet earlier had he not been too fascinated about the bit about inflatable dolls, when he found himself wondering where a man in need might buy one.
“Is he armed?” shouted Blinky from the car. “Do we need back-up? Have they shot the Sergeant? Swines if they have! And get that Tiny Bloxam to lie down and be dead! We can’t have indiscipline in the ranks!”
“Don’t worry. I’m paid to make sure he doesn’t do anything too rash,” whispered Angelina. “He’s not a bad old stick really, if only he’d realise that blind men can’t see … but he doesn’t seem to have got that message yet!”
“I’d do something really rash if you were paid to watch over me!” chortled Tiny. “I’d have those panties off you in no time flat, see if I wouldn’t! They don’t call me Bum-smacking Bloxam for nothing!”
“Just you wash your mouth out, constable!” rapped Angelina tartly. “I won’t have that kind of talk in the presence of Royston here!”
“Then tell him to wander off…” smirked Tiny. “Leave just you and me in the world, baby…”
Royston struggled to his feet and shook his head in order to dislodge any stray cobwebs that may have remained after his collapse.
“Why were we told by ambulance men and police and the like that you’d been murdered?” he asked. “It’s been a shock to us, finding you alive and from what I’ve heard of your lascivious thoughts it may have been better if you had been done away with!”
“It was an episode of Crimewatch*,” sighed Tiny, “and they paid handsomely to use my house in a reconstruction of a murder in a similar area… I’m going for a fortnight in the Seychelles on the proceeds, and I’ve got money for two if the young lady wishes to accompany me … sea, sun and sex … and all sorts of things!”
“You are a disgrace to your uniform!” snapped Angelina, though secretly she felt flattered.
“So you’re not dead then?” sighed Royston. “It’s all been a big hoax?”
“Hoax is the wrong word, but it wasn’t real,” giggled Tiny. “Anyway, why did you want me in the first place?”
“Well,” began Royston, “you were at the Open Day organised by Inspector Curmudgeon not so long ago, and we’re trying to contact everyone who was there. We found an … artefact … that someone left behind and we’re making enquiries…”
“My loupe!” crowed the young constable, “you found my loupe! I wondered where on Earth it had got to! I’ve gone over the places I’ve been to up to finding it missing, but must have forgotten the none-event you call an open Day! I’ve even been examining my poo in case I swallowed it by mistake after a night on the sauce!”
“Your … loupe…?” stammered Royston.
“Yes! The same!” chortled Bloxam. “My auntie Hilda gave it me for my ninth birthday after I said I wanted to be a jewel thief when I grew up! She said I’d best learn how to recognise quality if I saw any and that a jewellers eyeglass would help! Oh, I’m so happy that you’ve found it!”
“Just a minute,” growled Royston, “how do we know it’s yours?”
“It’s been coated in something that looks like gold but isn’t,” smirked Bloxam, “she had it done because it’s only a cheap one and she thought it would look better yellow!”
“You’ll have to identify it, though,” said Angelina. “In all honesty we’ll be glad to have it off our hands even though we really believed it was a priceless relic from Egyptian times.”
“Oh, it is Egyptian,” chirruped Tiny, “made a few years ago in a small factory just outside Cairo! Auntie Hilda bought it there when she was trying to find a souvenir fit to offer a handsome young nephew like me! That’s when she also bought me my inflatable doll, though I haven’t blown it up too many times recently…”
“You’re disgusting,” Royston told him.
“I know,” he grinned. “So can I have my loupe, please?”
“You would be able to,” said Royston, beginning to enjoy himself, “if it hadn’t been stolen from the pocket of Inspector Curmudgeon during the course of the investigation.”
And he slowly, ever so slowly, collapsed back onto the concrete doorstep as his world went black yet again.
© Peter Rogerson 25.08.14

*Crimewatch: a BBC television programme in which reconstructions of high profile crimes are presented to the public in the hope that something may ring bells in the minds of the public. The trouble is, they’re all watching television and so used to a diet of crime drama they get easily confused…


24 Aug


green door photo: Door Company LondondoorCompanyGreenSmoke.jpg

“Another day is another day!” growled Blinky Curmudgeon, sitting behind his desk. at an awkward angle and addressing a lamp standard. “Today we go to investigate the demise of poor young Bloxam, may he rest in peace…”
“Ahem,” coughed Sergeant (retired) Royston Williams. “I’m over here, sir, and raring to go. I have my little pistol firmly gripped in the waistband of my underpants and nobody can stop me now!”
“And what underpants,” sighed Angelina Parr. “I was never more delighted than when I came face to face with that particular waistband…”
“Shush!” hissed Royston, not wanting echoes of what he and she had done during the night made too public. But the truth of the matter was they had shared the same bed and Angelina was the sort of young woman to whom the sharing of a bed must inevitably lead to only one thing.
He was only too please to hear Blinky continue as if he hadn’t heard anything about underpants and their waistbands.
“Then off we go, comrades, and one word first.” He coughed and prepared to say more than the one word because he was the sort of man to whom one word would never do if he could use a dozen, “If we should fall in battle, then the cause is good,” he enunciated in sombre tones. “If we should be filled with enemy lead then so be it. We are going on a cause worthy of the highest motives of our race, into a mighty battle at the late PC Bloxam’s house. So off we go, and may the best man remain standing!”
Royston felt a tear forming in the corner of one eye, and it might have been joined by one in the corner of the other eye had he not caught the expression on Miss Parr’s face. It was one of almost joyful amusement at a speech designed to stir bold thoughts in any man anywhere. But she wasn’t a man and found it very easy seeing into the heart of most things masculine.
They trooped out to the car, Royston’s older vehicle seeing that he had little faith in the shiny self-driving one favoured by his boss who, being blind, needed the kind of interface offered by futuristic technology, or they would all have died before they reached the first corner.
It wasn’t too far to the home of the recently murdered PC Tiny Bloxam, and Royston decided to drive slowly out of respect for his demise. So he pulled into the middle of the road and reduced his speed to five miles an hour, holding his head still and sober as he drove sedately down the road, which would have been all well and good had his been the only vehicle on the road, but it wasn’t. What followed hard on his decision for pomp came a fanfare of hooters as other cars wanted to pass, but couldn’t.
“Don’t be silly,” hissed Angelina, “you’re drawing attention to us!”
“Come on! It seems all right to me!” exclaimed Blinky, blindly.
“Put your foot down,” urged Angelina, craning her neck to look through the rear window, “I don’t like the look on the face of that bloke behind us one little bit!”
“Oh, all right,” sighed Royston, and as a peevish contrast he accelerated to exceed the speed limit and pulled away from the centre of the road.
They arrived at Tiny Bloxam’s house. The last time they had been there it had been surrounded by emergency vehicles with their excited occupants milling around. Now the road was still and quiet.
“Like a graveyard,” muttered Blinky, whose eyesight might have been made non-existent and hearing had certainly been enfeebled by the blast that had all-but killed him – but the latter worked, sometimes curiously well, despite the need for hearing aids.
“On a Sunday afternoon,” added Angelina. “What are we going to do?”
“We need to take a good look around – and by we I mean you two,” decided Blinky. “There’s no way I can actually look anywhere, though I can do some thinking while you’re at the sharp end of investigation.”
“There won’t be any gunmen here,” sighed Royston. “They’ll have packed up and gone ages ago. I’ll go and knock the door just in case, though. He may have relatives clearing up for him. The poor sod hasn’t been dead for twenty-four hours and they’ll be wanted to scrub any sign of his existence from the face of the planet!”
“There’s no decency any more,” put in Angelina, “no respect for our elders and betters.”
“He wasn’t your elder…” began Blinky, who still believed that the woman was a septuagenarian and wanted to remind her that Tiny had been a very young constable. His own degraded hearing imposed an old person’s waver onto the young woman’s voice, and his blindness did the rest.
“I’ll take a peek, then,” said Royston. “I’ll be careful and ready to dodge out of the way at the first sign of trouble…”
“There won’t be any!” boomed Blinky, confidently
Royston made his way to the front door of the late Tiny’s home. Yesterday, when they’d been here, it had been surrounded by policemen and ambulance crew, all milling around, all trying desperately to save the man’s life according to the officer they’d asked.
He was in good hands, sighed Royston as he reached the green front door with its plastic 23 shining silvery in the morning sunlight. At least everything will have been done that could have been done… it’s impressive what they can do these days, almost waken the dead if they get to them fast enough … but poor young Tiny…
He pressed the doorbell and he heard it playing the pompous the grand old Duke of York somewhere in the house.
That was my favourite tune when I was a kid, he remembered. I had military tendencies back then … but not any more! I’m all for a peaceful life and what happened to poor old Tiny – I mean poor young Tiny – is evidence of the wisdom of that attitude!
To his surprise he heard the tread of someone inside the house, someone walking positively towards the door and preparing to open it.
I thought Tiny lived on his own, he thought. Maybe he had a wife tucked somewhere and never mentioned her … maybe it’s just that I’m out of touch…
Someone on the inside gabbed hold of the handle and the door opened.
Someone stood there, and Royston ducked at what he thought was a gun in the hands of a desperado.
But it wasn’t a gun and it wasn’t a desperado.
Tiny Bloxam stood there, blinking and very obviously alive, and he was holding a rolled-up copy of the Daily Telegraph as if he was preparing to swat a fly.
Dead men don’t read papers, thought Royston, and he blacked out in that old familiar way he had.
© Peter Rogerson 24.08.14


21 Aug


smoking gun photo: gun guns-21.jpg


Where’s that wretched loupe?” asked Blinky Curmudgeon, drinking water from his own false teeth beaker in the mistaken impression it was tea. “Ugh! Cold!” he added with a wry expression on his face. They were back in 221c Butcher Close, had examined the minor scratches left on the front door by the gunfire reported by the Inspector and were having refreshment. After examining the evidence Royston privately wondered whether it was a pea-shooter that had been used in the assault.

You had it, sir,” said Angelina, meaning the loupe. She was grinning and glad he couldn’t see the grin. After all, it’s a bit cruel to mock a blind man when he’s drinking from the wrong mug, she thought generously.

I had it?” he barked. “Are you sure? Where the deuce did I have it?”

In your pocket. I’m sure you had it in your pocket,” she murmured.

I ought to have employed a younger secretary with something about her!” barked Curmudgeon, living up to his name. “A younger woman would have had eyes all over me and know exactly what I’m up to, but you, no offence intended, are as blind as a bat and almost as useless as one!”

That’s not fair!” put in Royston, hotly.

Sshh,” hissed Angelina, and: “you had, it sir, when we were in that dreadful bones dungeon! I saw your hand in your pocket and the flash of gold reflecting the glimmer of Sergeant Williams’ little torch as you twiddled with it!”

It’ll be in my pocket, then,” growled the Inspector, “and, by Jove, it isn’t!”

You may have dropped it?” suggested Royston.

I don’t do stupid things like dropping priceless artefacts!” roared the blind man, losing patience with himself and the other two present in turn. “I’m famous for keeping things that matter exactly where I know them to be!”

I hope you have lost the damned thing,” muttered Royston, “more trouble than it was worth, if you ask me.”

It’s worth a king’s ransom!” exclaimed Angelina. “I don’t know that it was more trouble than that.”

What we should do is go round and look for clues at Tiny Bloxam’s place,” said Royston. “He’s a man, for Goodness’ sake, a man who’s been killed, and that’s more important than any artefact, priceless or otherwise!”

No. We must go back to Brainache Castle,” decided Angelina, “or at least, one of us must. If the loupe’s anywhere it’s got to be there, and everything, the murder, the attack on this place, revolves around the lost treasure..”

Not today…” muttered Royston, “it’ll be dark soon anyway. It took ages to get there…”

Tomorrow, first thing,” said Angelina, who seemed to be in charge of everything despite her relative youth and the fact that the other two were experienced police officers.

Then the least we can do today is check out the late lamented PC Bloxam’s place?” suggested Royston again. “I’m absolutely certain that his death has just got to be connected to that wretched loupe.”

Well, team, we seem to have a few ideas,” put in Blinky. “I agree with both of you but I will tell you one thing for absolute certain. I may have lost that damned golden eyeglass, but the word lost is the wrong one. If it left my person it did so because someone decided to pick my pocket!

You mean, that guard or whoever he was?” asked Angelina. “If it wasn’t one of us,” she added, meaning Royston and herself.

Well, I didn’t see anyone else there…”

You didn’t see anyone, thought Royston meanly.

Exactly. My eyesight might not be what it was but I am aware of proximity and that damned bloke stood a little bit too close to me, made me feel uncomfortable…”

I’ll check who he is,” murmured Angelina, “and, for what it’s worth, sir, I think you may be right.”

If that man had anything to do with things and if he targeted the eyeglass because that’s what he wanted and yet still got there before us it can only mean one thing,” said Royston slowly.

And that is?” asked Blinky, frowning under his blacked-out spectacles.

This place must be bugged,” concluded Royston slowly. “Whoever it is was forewarned of our intentions. Yes, we must be bugged.”

You mean, listening devices?” whispered Angelina.

And seeing ones, for video. Who can tell. They’re all so small yet powerful these days. Tell me, has anyone come in who you weren’t expecting?”

I only started today,” began Royston, “and it’s been one hell of a first day!”

There were the open day few,” suggested Blinky. “Yes: we didn’t know who to expect! It might well have been the Open Day few… or one of them! They had free rein of the place, for goodness’ sake…”

And the policeman, Tiny Bloxam, may have seen one of the others…” said Royston slowly. “He might have noticed, out of the corner of his eye …”

I think you’ve got it,” replied Blinky, slowly, “and if you’re right we’re being listened to, maybe even watched, at this very moment! This isn’t the time or place for us to make any more plans because whoever it is behind everything will know what we’re doing before we do it!”

They won’t be interested any more,” sighed Royston. “They’ve got your damned eyeglass and that’s most likely all they wanted, especially if it’s what you say and worth a king’s ransom.”

Angelina shook her head so slightly Royston barely noticed it.

I need to go to the loo,” she said, and she beckoned him to follow as she sidled out of the room. “Won’t be long,” she called back.

Hey! Are you both going?” hissed Blinky.

Sshh!” whispered Angelina, annoyed, “pretend,” she added, barely audibly.

But Blinky was no fool and he got the message. “Well then,” he said to himself as though he were addressing a room full of people, “I’ll leave it up to you two, it’s been a long day and I’m rather in need of a rest before the assault on Brainache tomorrow!”

Yes sir,” almost cooed Angelina from the other side of the door.

It should be some day tomorrow,” continued the Inspector. “I do hope there are no guns involved because, well, I’m an ace shot and I don’t fancy seeing any more flesh and blood human beings falling to my bullets – even if they are scumbags!”

Outside the room Angelina grabbed Royston by his lapel. “Say nothing,” she whispered, “but when we leave this place, come to my flat with me. We’ll make any plans in your car on the way. My flat may be bugged too. In fact, it would be fun if it was!”

Why?” he asked, innocently.

Because I’m a young woman in need of … comfort,” she breathed into his ear. “And spome of the things I’m likely to talk you into doing might well sound sort of … spicy! Come on, let’s get back to Mr Curmudgeon before he becomes disorientated and falls down!”

The blind man was still standing where he had been.

We’re off, sir,” said Angelina. “It’s past my bed time and Sergeant Williams is going to give me a lift home.”

We’ll reconvene tomorrow, then,” growled the Inspector.

You should be all right now the eyeglass has gone, sir,” she added.

I’ll be safe enough here anyway,” was his reply. “Goodnight the pair of you, and Miss Parr, get a good night’s sleep. We need more rest when we’re not so young as we were, don’t you think?”

Yes sir,” sighed Angelina.

Blinky stiffly made his way out of the room. Royston watched him go, and shook his head sadly.

I know,” breathed Angelina, “he’s not the man he was. But he’ll be fighting fit tomorrow, or die in the attempt. Come on, take me to your car.”

© Peter Rogerson 21.08.14


18 Aug


moorland photo: BleakWilderness.jpg


“You mean … all these bones?” stammered Angelina, her face white and horrified.

“Bones? There are no bones!” growled Blinky, seeping the chamber with his blind eyes, “just the playthings of a child’s imagination! I would come down here, down the very steps we have just come down, and I would harangue my foe until they screamed for mercy…”

“And this mausoleum of death?” asked Royston weakly. “You didn’t cause this?”

Blinky was about to reply when a shuffling of footsteps and an officious cough told them that someone new was on the scene. Who else could possibly have a reason to be in this blasted wasteland was beyond Royston’s understanding, but clearly someone was there.

“Hello, hello, hello,” came a man’s voice just behind them, “didn’t you read the signs? No admittance!”

“What?” blurted Blinky, “I was always allowed down here! As a boy, I mean, years ago … my parents locked me in down here, to play while they went to the pub…”

“Locked you in? You poor little sod,” growled the stranger. “But it’s not allowed any more so you’ve got to get out.”

“It’s horrible,” shivered Angelina, “All those bones, all those poor people… did you kill them, Mr Curmudgeon?”

The stranger laughed before Blinky could reply. “He’d have to be bloody old if he’d had a hand in the business!” he boomed, “these are the remnants of a mass grave we found quite recently while clearing part of the site, and they’ve been put here for the experts to write and waffle about!”

“Mass grave?” asked Angelina, shivering even more. “What mass grave?”

“This castle, miss, was a Civil War stronghold,” said the man, “but first, I’ve got to get you up these stairs and on the other side of that there door! It shouldn’t have been opened, you know, it was supposed to be kept fast shut!”

“I want to go back up,” whispered Angelina, “it’s horrible down here…”

They turned round, Blinky with some difficulty, slipping and sliding on ancient worn steps that were invisible to his sightless eyes. Eventually they found themselves back in the depressing, blasted world of the moorland landscape with its piles of crumbling stones and weathered arches. Royston looked around him, and shook his head. There was a notice on the door, small, faded ink but forbidding entrance, not the sort of notice that a stranger might be expected to see unless he looked hard for it.

“Nasty place,” growled the stranger, who they could now see wore a uniform of sorts, a peaked hat and blue serge slightly crumpled suit. “Now then, what are you doing here, may I ask?”

“I came as a child … it was my favourite playground…” whispered Blinky. “I thought we’d be safe here… what scoundrel would come to this foul place if he wanted to do his foe great harm? What evil scum would even think of it? So I came for safety, for me and my sighted friends are under attack…”

“It’s no longer open to the public, and I see no desperadoes attacking you!” began the uniformed man, his peaked cap glinting as the least ray of sunlight touched it before vanishing into the gloom from whence it had come.

“I saw no notice to that effect,” began Royston.

The other shook his head. “It’s probably blown away,” he muttered. “The site’s unsafe and so badly degraded that renovation isn’t possible. They decided to keep it as a tourist site, you know, people stop in their cars, take a few photos of groups of old stones, and move on. So it’s being made safe enough for that. And when they were preparing the car-park they came upon those fellows down there. They’ve been under the ground since the 1640s when there was one hell of a skirmish round here, and a great number of men were slaughtered in bloody battle all those years ago. Terrible, it must have been. Anyway, the powers that be decided that the dungeon you spotted them in could be used as a sort of temporary charnel house until the history wallahs have done their bit.”

“I used to play make-believe games down there when I was in short pants,” whispered Blinky. “I wanted to see it again, but I can’t see anything any more – so I suppose it doesn’t really matter.”

“Is that why you brought us here, to relive mad moments in a wretched childhood?” demanded Angelina, “because if it is you’ve certainly abused your position!”

“No: no: it seemed a safe place to me,” replied Blinky. “I remember, so long ago, you know, the games I played – and there was never anyone around. And down in the dungeon, sometimes locked in for my own safety, for hours on end until I was scared of my own shadow – but it did me good. I was left with a candle and only once did it burn down before they came for me…”

The site warden or whoever he was told them he would leave them, but they really ought to find somewhere else to pass the time. Royston agreed, and he and Angelina guided Blinky back to the car.

“I know it can drive itself, but if you don’t mind I’ll take the controls,” he said, firmly. He really hadn’t enjoyed racing along at seventy miles an hour in a car with nobody touching the steering wheel.

Surprisingly, Blinky agreed, and he sat alone in the back whilst Angelina joined Royston in the front seat.

“We’re going back home,” decided Royston. “If 221c was being shot at I want to see what evidence there is – the bullets, the kind of weapon that might have been used. And I want to follow up on that young policeman who was murdered – what’s his name? Tiny. Tiny Bloxam.”

“But we must be safe…” wavered the Inspector, sounding more like the child he’d once been than the man he was today. “Tiny Bloxam wasn’t safe,” he added.

“I think it all comes back to the loupe,” put in Angelina.

“You mean, it’s as simple as a group of criminals wanting it because of its huge value?” suggested Royston.

She shook her head. “It had a huge value,” she conceded, “until it was stolen. Then its only value is in the gold it’s made of. As an artefact, nobody in their right mind will want to buy it because what can they do with it? Lock it in a safe? Keep it as a secret treasure? Crooks even find famous works of art difficult to dispose of because of their fame, and a work of art can be displayed, however privately, and enjoyed. But a golden trinket? One that doesn’t even look Egyptian? With a lens in it that we didn’t realise the ancient Egyptians knew how to grind? It could have been made anywhen – even yesterday – so no crook’s going to want to show it off because he’d probably find himself the laughing stock of the underworld!”

“So what do you think?” asked Royston.

“I think there’s another game afoot, noting to do with the loupe. I don’t know what it is, but young Tiny didn’t get killed for nothing. If I had to guess I’d think drugs. Narcotics. But on a big scale. And Tiny got wind of it and was taken out as a consequence.”

A snoring sound from the back seat told its own story. Blinky Curmudgeon had been awake for long enough, and so gone to sleep.

“Tiny was only a junior copper,” sighed Royston. “He can’t have known much about anything.”

“Yes, I know. But two things may have happened at our open day. Remember, that’s when the golden eyeglass was left for me to find. And for some reason a young constable, for no good reason, seems to have turned up for tea and cakes with us. No, he wasn’t in our target clientèle. We were expecting older people with personal problems needing spouses investigating, that kind of thing. At a rough guess I’d say he accidentally stumbled on something that led him to the open day, and that’s why he was shot. One or maybe more of the other guests must have seem him as a danger to them and taken him out before he could rock their boat.”

“You seem quite positive, Angelina.”

The snoring from the back seat became louder and she smiled at him. “I am,” she said quietly. “It’s my job to be positive. But it doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy life too!”

And to his sudden shock she rubbed his thigh with a firm hand. The way the car swerved at the contact might have caused an accident, but didn’t if only because the road ahead was clear.

“Now just slow down and let me … think,” she whispered. “I know what cheers men up, and the feel of something firm in my grasp does help me concentrate…”

Royston sighed, and to be quite certain he wouldn’t inadvertently collide with another user of the road, he pulled into a lay-by and sighed.

“Let’s wait until we get home,” he whispered, and she kissed him.

© Peter Rogerson 18.08.14