One Last Look

A single event can have enormous consequences.

A single event driven by fate, after Ben told his wife Charlotte he would be late home one night, he left early, and by chance discovers his wife having dinner in their favourite restaurant with another man.

A single event where it could be said Ben was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Who was this man?  Why was she having dinner with him?

A simple truth to explain the single event was all Ben required.  Instead Charlotte told him a lie.

A single event that forces Ben to question everything he thought he knew about his wife, and the people who are around her.

After a near death experience and forced retirement into a world he is unfamiliar with, Ben finds himself once again drawn back into that life of lies, violence, and intrigue.

From London, to a small village in Tuscany, little by little Ben discovers who the woman he married is, and the real reason why fate had brought them together.

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What Sets Us Apart

David is a man troubled by a past he is trying to forget.

Susan is rebelling against a life of privilege and an exasperated mother who holds a secret that will determine her daughter’s destiny.

They are two people brought together by chance.  Or was it?

When Susan discovers her mother’s secret, she goes in search of the truth that has been hidden from her since the day she was born.

When David realises her absence is more than the usual cooling off after another heated argument, he finds himself being slowly drawn back into his former world of deceit and lies.

Then, back with his former employers, David quickly discovers nothing is what it seems as he embarks on a dangerous mission to find Susan before he loses her forever.

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The Devil You Don’t

John Pennington’s life is in the doldrums.  Looking for new opportunities, prevaricating about getting married, the only joy on the horizon was an upcoming visit to his grandmother in Sorrento, Italy.

Suddenly he is left at the check in counter with a message on his phone telling him the marriage is off, and the relationship is over.

If only he hadn’t promised a friend he would do a favour for him in Rome.

At the first stop, Geneva, he has a chance encounter with Zoe, an intriguing woman who captures his imagination from the moment she boards the Savoire, and his life ventures into uncharted territory in more ways than one.

That ‘favour’ for his friend suddenly becomes a life changing event, and when Zoe, the woman who he knows is too good to be true, reappears, danger and death follows.

Shot at, lied to, seduced, and drawn into a world where nothing is what it seems, John is dragged into an adrenaline charged undertaking, where he may have been wiser to stay with the ‘devil you know’ rather than opt for the ‘devil you don’t’.

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Echoes from the Past

What happens when your past finally catches up with you?

Christmas is just around the corner, a time to be with family.  For Will Mason, an orphan since he was fourteen, it is a time for reflection on what his life could have been, and what it could be.

Until a chance encounter brings back to life the reasons for his twenty years of self imposed exile from a life only normal people could have.  From that moment Will’s life slowly starts to unravel and it’s obvious to him it’s time to move on.

This time, however, there is more at stake.

Will has broken his number one rule, don’t get involved.

With his nemesis, Eddie Jamieson, suddenly within reach, and a blossoming relationship with an office colleague, Maria, about to change everything, Will has to make a choice.  Quietly leave, or finally make a stand.

But as Will soon discovers, when other people are involved there is going to be terrible consequences no matter what choice he makes.

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Sunday in New York

“Sunday in New York” is ultimately a story about trust, and what happens when a marriage is stretched to its limits.

When Harry Steele attends a lunch with his manager, Barclay, to discuss a promotion that any junior executive would accept in a heartbeat, it is the fact his wife, Alison, who previously professed her reservations about Barclay, also agreed to attend, that casts a small element of doubt in his mind.

From that moment his life, in the company, in deciding what to do, his marriage, his very life, spirals out of control.

There is no one big factor that can prove Harry’s worst fears, that his marriage is over, just a number of small, interconnecting events, when piled on top of each other, points to a cataclysmic end to everything he had believed in.

Trust is lost firstly in his best friend and mentor, Andy, who only hints of impending disaster, Sasha, a woman whom he saved, and who appears to have motives of her own, and then in his wife, Alison, as he discovered piece by piece damning evidence she is about to leave him for another man.

Can we trust what we see with our eyes or trust what we hear?

Haven’t we all jumped to conclusions at least once in our lives?

Can Alison, a woman whose self-belief and confidence is about to be put to the ultimate test, find a way of proving their relationship is as strong as it has ever been?

As they say in the classics, read on!

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Thoughts, maybe

It’s time to look at the dreaded bucket list

 

I only say dreaded because it is a reminder of how old I am and that there are a lot of things I haven’t yet done.

Does it really matter, you ask?

Perhaps not, but now seems to be an appropriate time, past the age of 60, to take stock.

We have achieved a lot in the last 15 or so years once the children had grown up and could look after themselves.

Unlike a lot of more modern couples who are doing the travelling in their 20’s and 30’s then having children, we chose to do it the other way around.

To me it seemed easier to deal with teenagers when we were in our 40’s rather than our 60’s.  With the benefit of hindsight I can truthfully say we were right.

We were older and wiser when we travelled and more aware of the dangers around us, sometimes overlooked or ignored by a youthful devil may care attitude.

But, in saying that ….

No, I don’t think I’ll be getting to see Mt Kilimanjaro, observing the wild animals in the Serengeti, climbing Mt Everest, or seeing the ancient pyramids.

Which is a sad state of affairs given the world has changed so much in recent years and has pretty much ruled out going to a lot of places, and in particular, the middle east.

Given the state of the world, it is getting more dangerous to go to such places as Africa, Russia and Egypt.  Even places like Bangkok and Athens and other parts of Greece can be relatively unsafe.  But, whilst I have no intention of going to Thailand, I still want to go to the Greek Islands, and,

Santorini is at the top of my travel bucket list.

We’ve been to London.  We’ve been to Paris and Euro Disney.  We’ve been to Rome and seen the ancient ruins.  We’ve been to Vienna, Schonbrunn palace, and, particularly for us, a visit to Swarovski crystal world, near Innsbruck, we’ve been to Salzburg, and been on the Sound of Music tour.

We’ve been to Florence and loved it, we’ve been to Venice and loved that too, and we’ve spent a few days in the heart of Tuscany, and want to go back for longer, much longer.

In fact, that’s the second item on the travel bucket list.

We’ve also been to Singapore and Hong Kong, at first out of necessity as an airline stopover, but the we went back to see the city and tourist, and non tourist attractions.

I will not forget staying at the Hong Kong Conrad hotel as a Diamond Hhonors member.  Oh, the memories.

We’ve also stayed on the French Riviera, in a time share apartment in Antibes where every morning when out back you had a view of the shimmering Mediterranean, if the sun was out.

Nice, Cannes, Monte Carlo, the billionaires yachts in Antibes harbor, Monte Carlo and ‘that’ casino, taking the same drive along the coast as Grace Kelly did in To Catch a Thief, and feeling like James Bond arriving for a new adventure, minus the half million dollar sports car.

But, now, crashing back to earth with a very hard thump ….

Travel in the future is looking difficult for both of us, not only financially but from a health aspect.  We are both not as sprightly as we used to be.

Yet given the restraints and if it is at all possible, aside from the Greek Islands and Tuscany, the next items on the list are:

Germany, visiting both Berlin, from a cold war aspect, the Brandenburg gate springs to mind, and Munich at the time of the Octoberfest.  As a beer drinker that is also high on the bucket list.

Scotland, more so since we’ve started watching Outlander, and besides being a beer drinker, I am also partial to a good Single Malt, the Whiskey trail.

Ireland, because my wife’s previous name was Murphy and at some point in the long distant past some relatives emigrated to Australia, and she would like to visit the country of her forebears.

But with the current state of the world, our health issues, and that all important requisite money, or the lack of it, perhaps it’s time to visit other parts of our own country.

Perhaps it’s time to do a culinary trip, particularly down south.  It’s practical and achievable and safe.

And it’s a big country.

Short story writing – Revision

I have reworked the second part of the story though this part needed a few less changes than the first.

This is the new second section:

 

It had been another long day at the office for Officer Margaret O’Donnell, or, out in the streets, coping with people who either didn’t know or didn’t care about the law.

People who couldn’t cross the road where there were crossings and lights to protect them, silly girls shoplifting on a dare, and boys who thought they were men and could walk on water.

The one they scraped of the road would never get to grow up, and his mother, well, she was not doing another call on a family to give them bad news for a while.  Someone else could deal with the problem next time.

That was her day.

So far.

At the end of the day she was glad to be getting home, putting her feet up, and forgetting about everything until the next morning when it would start all over again.

Coming around that last corner, the home stretch she called it, she was directly opposite the corner shop, usually closed at this hour of the night. 

It was not.  The lights were still on.

She looked at her watch and saw it was ten minutes to midnight, and long past closing time.  She looked through the window, but from the other side of the street she could only see three heads and little else.

Damn, she thought, I’m going to have to check it out. 

She was aware of the rumors, from her co-residents and also her colleagues down at the station, rumors she hoped were not true.

 

Jack exchanged a look with the shopkeeper, who in return gave him a slight shrug, as if to say he ‘we tried and failed’.

And she was clearly scared of something, and it looked to him like it might be the shopkeeper.  He had no idea what happened before he burst into the shop, but from the tenseness in the air, it had nothing to do with the boy on the floor.

He could see the girl was not strung out on drugs, in fact she did not like a user at all.  If she had been, Jack was positive they’d both be on the floor, dead, or almost dead.

Another rumor just coming back to him, this was apparently not the first time the store had been robbed, but by the time the police arrived, the would be robbers were gone.

What was different this time?

Was it the fact the girl was just the unfortunate partner of a boy who was on drugs, and had found herself in a dangerous position, one that couldn’t be dealt with or explained away to the advantage of the shopkeeper.

Beth, his wife, had told him she didn’t like nor trust the shopkeeper and that her friend in the same apartment block had told her he had been seen selling drugs to youths who hung around just before he closed.  She had warned him it would not be safe, but he had ignored her.

It was a bit late to tell her she might be right.

He took a half step towards the door, judging the distance and time it would take to open the door and get out.

Too far, and he would be too slow, and that his reward for running would be a bullet in the back.

Perhaps another half step when she wasn’t looking.

 

The girl had long enough to think about her situation.  This was only going to end one of two ways, and she knew it.  No amount of ‘thinking’ was going to make it any better, only worse.

The shopkeeper changed his expression to a more placatory one, and said quietly to the girl, “Look, this is not this chap’s problem.”  He nodded in the direction of the customer.  “I’m sure he’d rather not be here, and you would glad of one less distraction.”

He could see she was wavering.  She was not holding the gun so steadily, and the longer this dragged on, the more nervous and unpredictable she would become.

And in the longer game, the customer would sing his praises no matter what happened if he could get him out of the shop alive and well.

This could still be a win-win situation.

 

The girl looked at Jack.  The shopkeeper was right.  If he wasn’t here this could be over, one way or another.

But there was another problem.  It didn’t look like Simmo was in any shape to get away.  In fact this was looking more like a suicide mission.

She waved the gun in his direction.  ‘Get out now, before I change my mind.’

As the gun turned to the shopkeeper, Jack wasn’t going to wait to be asked twice and started sidling towards the door.

 

Officer Margaret O’Donnell crossed the street from the corner instead of remaining on the same side of the street as she did every other night.  When she reached the other sidewalk, she was about 20 yards from the nearest window of the store.

As she crossed, she got a better view of the three people in the store, and noticed the woman, or girl, was acting oddly, as if she had something in her hand, and, from time to time looked down beside her.

A yard or two from the window she stopped, took a deep breath, and then moved slowly forward, getting a better view of the scene with each step.

Then she saw the gun in the girl’s hand, and the two men, the shopkeeper and a customer, facing her, hands out where they could be seen.

It was a convenience store robbery in progress.

She reached for her radio, but it wasn’t there.  She was off duty.  Instead, she withdrew, and called the station on her mobile phone, and reported the robbery.  The officer on the end of the phone said a car would be there in five minutes.

In five minutes there could be dead bodies.

She had to do something, and reached into her bag and pulled out a gun.  Not her service weapon, but one she carried in case of personal danger.

 

The policewoman crouched below the window shelf line so the girl wouldn’t see her, and made it to the door before standing up.  She was in dark clothes so the chances were the girl would not see her against the dark street backdrop.

Her hand was on the door handle about to push it inwards when she could feel it being yanked hard from the other side, and the momentum and surprise of it caused her to fall forward, losing balance, and crash into the man who was trying to get out.

What the hell…

A second or two later both were on the floor in a tangled mess, her gun hand caught underneath her, and a glance in the direction of the girl with the gun told her the situation had gone from bad to worse.

The girl had swung the gun around and aimed it at her and squeezed the trigger.  It was the second of two successive shots, the mini explosions  in the small room almost deafening, and definitely disorientating.

Behind her the glass door disintegrated when the bullet hit it.

Neither she or the man beside her had been hit.

Yet.

She felt a kick in the back and the tickling of glass then broke free as the man she’s run into rolled out of the way.

Quickly on her feet, she saw the girl had gone, those precious few seconds taken to get up off the floor and get out the door was long enough for the girl to disappear, as if into thin air.

She could hear a siren in the distance.

 

© Charles Heath 2016