In a word: Right

Am I right?  Or is that correct?

In the moral sense, or in answering a question?

Do I have a right to …

As an entitlement?


But right means generally to be correct, but the word itself can be used, like many others in a variety of ways

Such as, do we have any rights any more, since the government is slowly shutting down our freedoms, and, you guessed it, rights.

What about a right angle, we know this as being an angle of 90 degrees

How about I right a wrong, returning a bad situation to a good one?

Are you left-handed or right-handed?

Are you one of those people who can’t tell their left from their right?

And who was it that decided what was your left or your right, ever thought about that?  I didn’t until just now.  Good luck finding an answer on Google.

And how many times have you wished you were in the right place at the right time???

Then, of course, if English is a second language, how about confusing right with write.

Means something quite different, doesn’t it?

How about rite?  Yes, I guess if we were in the habit of chopping chicken heads off and dancing around a fire, that might be its meaning,


It too has a lot of different meanings

Are you confused yet?

Was it just another surveillance job – Episode 11

I’m back home and this story has been sitting on a back burner for a few months, waiting for some more to be written.

The trouble is, there are also other stories to write, and I’m not very good at prioritising.

But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.

Just the person to see next


I couldn’t imagine what those details were.  But if it was a setup, it was a very elaborate one, by people who knew our systems and procedures.  Naturally, the first thought that sprang to mind, someone who was working here, or used to.

Then I had another thought, what if none of us was meant to survive the operation, and hat we had been selected specifically because we were new to field operations.  At the briefing, we had been told this was simple surveillance, observe and report, nothing more.

Usually we had one experienced member and three new team members, the experienced member was there to continue on the job training and evaluation.  What worried me was that an experienced member could be taken out apparently as easy as the others.

And my money was not on the guy I’d cornered.  Of course, I could be wrong, and no doubt circumstantial evidence would go a long way towards proving that, but in my estimation, a cornered man like he was, with a thirst and talent for killing, would not have hesitated to kill me before I’d got three words out.

I believed him.  He was scared and, now that I thought about it, confused.  That was anything but the m.o. of a conscienceless killer.

The wrinkle that hadn’t been accounted for was the explosion.  No one could have predicted that, or its effect on the operation.  It might well have saved him, except that I didn’t play by the rules and reconnected with him.  Maybe he had felt safe after taking out the others, and assuming I’d been taken down by the explosion.

Except, if I didn’t think he did the killing, who did, and why?  Severin?  Just who the hell is this Severin?  There’s been no indication he wasn’t one of us.

I was pondering that question when the woman returned and sat down again.  This time her stare wasn’t quite as glacial.

“Describe this Severin.”

She opened her notebook, and had her pencil ready.  Odd that she should be taking notes in pencil.

I described him.  Five feet eight inches tall, 250 pounds, thinning black hair, making him anywhere between 35 and 50, though I thought he was mid-forties.  He wore a tweed suit, rather an odd choice for the climate, and had the aroma of cigarette smoke hanging about him.

Every free moment I saw him, he had a cigarette, so I thought he was quite possibly a chain smoker, and from that, perhaps a man with bad nerves, or who worried a lot.  Now I knew he was not one of us, that could be interpreted as thinking he might get caught.

But he was confident, and outgoing, which meant he was quite sure he wouldn’t get caught, and that meant, quite possibly there was someone within our department that was working for or with him and had covered his comings and goings.  Either that or he had a universal passcode key to come and go as he pleased.

When I finished the description I could see a flicker of recognition.  IT was possible she knew who he might be, and if so, I was betting she knew him by another name.  I asked if that was the case.

“You know who this man is, don’t you?”

The stern reproving look returned.  “What makes you think that?”

“I read faces.  Yours is not a poker face.”

“Well, that disappoints me because I like to play poker.  Perhaps the people I play with have a different view.”

“I’m usually a good judge of character.”

“It’s let you down this time.”  She stood.  “Before you go, one of the supervisors here would like a word with you.  His name is Nobbin.  He works out of another office and is coming here directly.  After that, you’re free to go.”

She didn’t wait to say goodbye, and I was glad I managed to keep a straight face long enough.

Nobbin.  Just the man I wanted to see.


© Charles Heath 2019

What would you ask a writer?

I’ve been sitting at this desk staring at the screen thinking of what to write that might interest other people.

Seems I’m not very good at it.

So I moved seats, and sit opposite the writer’s chair, taking a good long hard look at the person, the so-called writer, and conjuring up in my mind, if I was someone I’d just dragged in off the street, what would I ask?

That thought hadn’t occurred to me before, except at some time or other I might have to give an interview.

And as for being ‘dragged off the street’, most of us walk down the street trying to avoid everyone else and anything bad that might happen.

But I’m here now, so for a free cup of tea and a Doubletree cookie, I consider myself available to play the part.

Question 1:  Why on earth would you want to write when there are a billion other books out there?  Seems a complete waste of time to me.

[Answer] Good point, most days when I get out of bed or rather stare at the ceiling from under the covers, I wonder why I bother to get up.

OK, that’s the borderline manic depressive speaking, and most likely suffering from a hangover, trying to get those last 1,000 words for the day done.

Question 2: You write when you’re drunk?  That must make a lot of sense, not!

This person has found me out in two questions.

[Answer] No, a little Scotch helps to oil the wheels in the mind.

Question 3:  What do you do for inspiration?

[Answer] Thinking up new and novel ways of killing off people, I often drag people in off the street to ask me questions about myself, then kill them.  You know, it’s the old story, if I tell you I’ll have to kill you?  No, sorry, didn’t mean that.  I haven’t a mean bone in my body.  Inspiration you say?

I look around.

So does the inquisitor.  There is seven floor to ceiling bookcases full of my favorite authors, about 2,000 or so books, aside from the reference library that is mostly in e-book format which runs to about 10,000.

Question 4:  You read all of these?

[Picks up a copy of ‘Kill Me If You Can’ by James Patterson]  This one.

I nod yes.  I have read most of them.  I tell him writers must read.  Someone told me that a long time ago.  Not only thrillers and crime, but the classics.  I found War and Peace heavy going, but not so much as Madame Bovary, or Vanity Fair.

You can ask one more question.

Question 5:  Can I borrow this book [James Patterson]

As always the answer is yes.  I encourage people to read.  It doesn’t have to be my work.  It would be nice but I’m realistic enough to know there are a billion other books out there I have to compete with.

Thank God that’s over!



In a word: Key

So, as we all know, a key is used to lock or unlock a door, gate, or something else.  It’s either made of shiny metal, brass, or rusty iron, it can be small, or very, very big, as is the key to a dungeon.

We can have one key or we can have many or even a master key that unlocks everything, very handy if you have a house full of locked rooms.

People always seem to want to steal them, especially in crime shows.

There is also an item called a key card.  Not the metal thing, but a plastic thing, that opens doors.  Odd that it’s called keyless entry!

Then there’s what is known as the key to something, i.e. you might have the key to his or her heart, metaphorically speaking.

And in that metaphorical sense, it opens up pandora’s box with a plethora of different meanings.

He had the key to the puzzle.

I wish sometimes I had the key to be able to write better, that that one particular key eludes me.

There are keys on a keyboard, the ones you use on computers and calculators.  They were originally on typewriters.  You can also find keys on a piano, or an accordion, and some other musical instruments.

A key can also be a master index field, or unique identifier, in a database, particularly those kept on computers.


there’s a host of other uses for the word key, such as

roughening a surface

describing the shooting area on a basketball court

a group, or one, of small coral islets

matching words to pictures

or, you’re just too keyed up to sleep.




“Sunday in New York”, it’s a bumpy road to love

“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!


Sunday In New York

I’ve always wanted to go on a Treasure Hunt – Part 19

Here’s the thing…

Every time I close my eyes, I see something different.

I’d like to think the cinema of my dreams is playing a double feature but it’s a bit like a comedy cartoon night on Fox.

But these dreams are nothing to laugh about.

Once again there’s a new instalment of an old feature, and we’re back on the treasure hunt.


Short of jumping over the side, there was no way we were getting away.  And judging from the expression on Rico’s face, now very plain to see halfway along the pier, he knew exactly what we’d seen.

Boggs stepped off the deck and joined me, just as Rico made it to the side of the boat, just as it started rocking again, but I was too frightened to feel sick.

But a glance in the opposite direction, out towards the sandbar, showed another boat, coming in our direction very quickly, and by the shape of it, I was hoping it was the police launch.  Rico had seen it too.

“What have you done?”

“I called the police.”


The men who had been with him were now retreating back along the pier towards land, but that too, suddenly looked like there would be no escape.

A police car with its siren blaring and lights flashing just stopped at the entrance to the pier and two officers were getting out, guns in hand.

My only thought wasn’t of relief, but that Boggs and I were about to become hostages in the middle of a shootout.

Or not.

Boggs blurted out, “There’s a dead body in the cabin.”

Rico shook his head.  “Nonsense.  I’ve been gone only an hour and there wasn’t one then.” 

He looked around to see the officers coming from the land side of the pier, and the four men slowly walking back towards the boat.

Rico climbed on board, then moved to the hatch.  He lifted the hatch cover and folded it back to show an opening into the cabin.  It hadn’t been locked, it just looked like it was.  Just as the officers made it to the boat, he stepped in, then down into the cabin.

A minute later, when he came up, the police launch had arrived just off the stern.  Rico looked shaken like he’d seen a ghost.

I recognised the officer who came on board, a man called Johnson, the police chief’s deputy.  He was known to shoot first and ask questions later.

He looked at me, Rico, Boggs, then back to me.  “What’s this all about?”

“There’s a body in the cabin.”

He switched his glare to Rico.  “That true?”

Rico nodded.  “I don’t know where it came from, but it wasn’t there an hour ago.”

The seaman about the police launch slipped a rope over the bollard at the rear of our boat and then jumped on board to secure it.  Another seaman did the same at the bow.  Two more jumped on board, one covering Rico and the other going into the cabin.

When he came back up on deck he was talking into his cell phone.

I think Rico had a lot of explaining to do.

So did we.


© Charles Heath 2019

Past conversations with my cat – 4


This is Chester.  Hiding.

He is the proverbial ‘scaredy cat’.

He is in hiding, buried at the back of the shelving in our walk in robe, one of the few places he thinks the grand children don’t know about.

Think again, Chester!

He pays scant regard to the fact he moults hair all over our clothes.

Efforts to fill the hole have been met with stiff resistance, the ‘blockage’ finding its way to the floor.

A bit like the blankets he doesn’t like on his bed.

Chester is 16 years old.  He has had a tumultuous relationship with my grand children, who, at first, wanted to terrorize him, and now, older and wiser, want to make friends with him.

Sorry, no can do.  You had your chance.

But …

He’s warming to the 12 year old.  Perhaps because she is as tall as us, he is confused.

Her efforts to get him to sleep on the end of her bed have failed.

Perhaps we should switch beds, and I might win that battle after all.



How much time do we waste simply waiting?

Have you ever wondered how much of your life you have spent

a) waiting for a doctor’s surgery or hospital appointment, and

b) waiting at the end of the phone to reach customer service or a public servant

c) waiting at traffic lights

d) waiting for busses, trains, or ferries that seem to be always running late

In the first instance, I have had a lot of recent experience with injured children and spouse, and, more recently myself.

What bothers me is that they give you a time and place and issue all the threats around the place if you don’t turn up on time, but it seems to be perfectly ok if they are late.

It could be for some perfectly logical reason but most of the time they don’t tell you why they’re running late, and sometimes don’t even apologize.

Then there are the chairs they make you sit in, obviously specially designed so you do not get comfortable, especially in hospitals.

But the most infuriating aspect?  Just how small the waiting room is and how often it is overcrowded with people also waiting to see a doctor.

They ask if we remain respectful but after an hour and a half in those chairs and not treating us with that same respect they ask for, I’m surprised I have only witnessed one case of the angry patient.

In the second instance, there are two circumstances I take issue with.

The first is where you have to select from an automated phone menu and what you want isn’t one of the menu items and there’s no catch-all just disconnection, and

After waiting patiently on the line for up to thirty minutes or more you hear the connection, you think you are about to get to an agent and the call disconnects.

That is only one step removed from being connected … back at the selection menu and then sent to the back of the queue.

I’m sorry, but this technology is no advancement but I doubt if we will get back to the ‘old days’.

Of course, there is that other major advancement in telephone answering technology, voice recognition.  I’ve been on the end of it, and quite frankly, it just doesn’t understand me.

Odd, I Know, because I speak very good English with no accent.  Perhaps that’s the problem.

I can’t wait for the first humanoid robots.  I hope they can understand me better than the inhuman phones do!

Was it just another surveillance job – Episode 10

I’m back home and this story has been sitting on a back burner for a few months, waiting for some more to be written.

The trouble is, there are also other stories to write, and I’m not very good at prioritising.

But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.

An interrogation continues


“So, take it from the top, give me a detailed rundown on the operation, from the briefing to coming here.”

That was an interesting request.  My usual report would not go into so much detail, and I had been compiling it on the go because if left until the end, crucial details were always omitted.

And, with the explosion, a lot of details had been mislaid in my mind, with more important or over-arching problems, getting a more prominent place in my memory.  It was a valuable lesson learned on reporting, we’d received from a man who most of my classmates thought odd, to the point of paranoid.

“I received the text message the night before to report to the midtown office for the briefing.  The code word was Chancellor and it was recognised at the security station.  If it was bogus I would not have made it in the building.”

“You go there for all your briefings?”


“Same team?”

“For the previous five, yes.  This last one, a different team.  “One of us asked what happened to the previous team and we were told that it was none of our business.  We were given orders and sent out into the field to do a job.  That job, we were reminded, was not to ask irrelevant questions.”

“The leader told you that?”

“In no uncertain terms.”

“Go on.”

“We were given a photograph of the man that I have just given to you.  No mention was made of what he had done to warrant surveillance, only that we were to not lose him and to note everything he did.

“We were told where he might be found at a particular time, and a particular place, information that was correct.”

“Your team members?”

“Fiona Davis, Jack Venables, Walter Arbon, and me.”

“I take it you had the target under surveillance, ready to hand off to the next team member?”

“Before the explosion, yes, it was my leg.”

“You’re referring to the explosion in Church Street?”

“Yes.  I’d just past it when there was an explosion, and I was caught in the aftermath, and narrowly avoided the shrapnel raining down.  Others were not so lucky.”

“That’s where you lost him?”

“He was in front of me, thus avoiding the fallout.  It took a minute or so to get my bearings, and even then it was very hazy with the dust and carnage around me, but I did manage to see him in the distance heading towards the next person’s tag point.”

“You didn’t resume surveillance?”

“Couldn’t.  Too disoriented.  I put out an alert on the comms, but no one answered, not straight away.”

“You didn’t suspect anything?”

“Not then.,  I put it down to a malfunction from the blast.”

“You said ‘not straight away’?”

“About five minutes had passed when a voice came in my ear, asking for an update.  I didn’t think much about it at the time, because of the temporary disorientation, but it was about the time for the next team to take over.  There were two rolling teams of four.”

“Why did you think it odd?”

“Because they would know about the explosion.  Everyone within a mile radius would.  But at the time I simply said I was caught up in the aftermath and that the target was last seen heading towards the takeover point.  Then I was told the target was sighted.”

“I assume you then considered your role had ended?”

“Yes.  I’d been told to follow the advice of the medical staff on site.”

“Which was?”

“Go to the hospital for a check-up.”

“But you didn’t.”

“No.  I was heading away from the blast site when I saw the target again.  I stopped, watched, got out of sight, and waited.  He was coming back in my direction.”

“Was that an expected scenario, that he might backtrack?”

“No.  In the briefing we were told it was possible he would be moving from the point where we found him, to another for a clandestine meeting, away from the blast site.”

What did you do then?”

“Checked the position of the next member of the surveillance team. C I found him, and he was dead.  I made an assumption that the other two may have suffered a similar fate, and resumed surveillance on the target.”

“Did you report it?”

“Over the comms, yes.”

“What happened?”

“Nothing, no one answered.”

“Not even the director?”


She made a note, crossed it out and wrote another with an underline.  A thick black line repeatedly, expressing her anger.

“You maintained surveillance?”



“I’d cornered him in an alley, near a railway station.  I suspected he might head for it.  He’s seen me, and nearly dispatched me in the same manner as the others.  Luckily it was only a scratch.”

It was more than that and required 12 stitches but they didn’t need to know that.

“Then, Severin arrived, and out of nowhere, he was shot dead.”

“Did you speak to him?”

“Only to ask what he had done with the other members of my team.  He never answered.”

“Did you report that you’d caught him?”

“No.  Didn’t have to.  Severin arrived just after I had.”

“And that’s all of it?”

“In my report.  Yes.  When I get to write it, but I’ll need my phone.  It has the relevant details, except for the last part where I’d found him.”

“No name?”


“You didn’t know he was one of ours?”

“No.  That fact only came to my attention when he told me.  When you’re given a target, you don’t ask what the relevance is, or what he’s done.  I’m sure you’re fully aware of the current practices and procedures.”

That last sentence slipped out, and by the look on her face, wasn’t well received.  I’d forgotten the golden rule.  Stick to the facts.  No embellishment, no emotion.

She made another note, closed the book, and got up.  “I’d like you to stay, just for the time being while we sort through the details.”

Then she left.


© Charles Heath 2019