“One Last Look”, nothing is what it seems

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 favorite 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.



Conversations with my cat – 32


This is Chester.  I’ve just told him we will be going away for a few days.

What, again?  You do nothing but go away these days!  That look of disdain is meant to move me, but, sorry, it doesn’t.

It is retirement, you know, I say.  I’ve waited for 65 years so that I can do what I want.

Poor you!  Any idea how old you think I am?

15, mate, and lucky to have lived that long, despite the fact you’ve tried to escape.

That’s a matter of opinion, but not cat years, fool, human years.

I’d never quite worked that out.  We had a dog once, and I know that for every dog year it’s seven human years, so it was, in human terms, rather old.

But cats?

I’ll look it up on the internet.

Interesting.  The first two years are worth 24 human years and 4 years for each successive year.  That makes you, wow, 76.

A smug expression takes over.  Old, he says, you don’t know what it is to be old.

Except at your age, you’re too old to be travelling.

He wanders off, the tail indicating his annoyance.  I don’t think it was what he wanted to hear.


#AtoZChallenge — T is for tap


There is nothing worse than, when lying in bed unable to get to sleep, you hear every noise in the house and out, but none worse than a dripping tap.

Its often not because someone forgot to turn the tap off, but a washer is on its last legs.

There are taps for the fallen brave, but aside from the fact that is the name of a piece of music, I think it’s also the title of a film.  But taps itself is a bugle call at dusk, and also played at military funerals.

Then there’s that income stream that you can tap into, other than your next door neighbours power supply.

But what would be far more interesting than to tap into a phone line and listen in?  Despite the fact that eavesdroppers never hear anything good about themselves, you could learn something you didn’t want to know.

Then we can go back to the 1930s and a series of films that starred one of my favourite actors Fred Astaire, who was, of course, a tap dancer, along with Ginger Rogers.

In fact, my middle granddaughter is quite a good tap dancer.

And, lastly, was that a tap on the door, or a tap in the window?

That helicopter story that kept me awake – Part 17

Our hero knows he’s in serious trouble.

The problem is, there are familiar faces and a question of who is a friend and who is foe made all the more difficult because of the enemy if it was the enemy, simply because it didn’t look or sound or act like the enemy.

Now it looks like he’s been renditioned by his own people.


Seeing Colonel Bamfield made my blood run cold.

This wasn’t an old commanding officer coming to see one of his protégés after being almost killed in a bad accident.

This was a man checking up on me, and whether or not I had relayed any of the details of my incarceration at the mystery camp in the desert.

The thing is, he didn’t have to come calling if I had said anything Breeman would have reported it directly to her superiors.

No, he was here for another reason, and one I had no doubt I was not going to like.

Firstly, it was apparent the feelings of dislike and mistrust ran deep between the two, and I could see, on first sight, there had been something between them once, and it had exploded on someone, and I suspect it was Breeman.

Male officers of Bamfield rank rarely got into trouble for fraternising with lower ranked female officers.  It was, I was told once, a man’s army, not for women.

And I expect Bamfield was old school.

He looked at me then at her.  “How is our patient?”

Our patient?  How did he have anything to do with me, unless he was reclaiming me for his command.

“Sergeant Digwater has a name, and he is not your patient.”  The accompanying look on her face told me that Bamfield better be ready for war.

“Perhaps that might be the case for now, but I have given orders to temporarily detach Sergeant Digwater from this command and assign him temporally to mine so that he can be sent to our medical facility in Germany before being sent home.  The sergeant has done enough for his country.”

Had I?  It was customary to patch soldiers like me up if the injuries were not life-threatening, and then send them back to the front line.  I had, as far as I was aware, a few broken bones, and nothing that a month or two of physical therapy wouldn’t put straight.

Besides, as a loner, I had made the Army my home, and where most of the people I knew were.  As a civilian, I would be like a fish out of water.

“Do I get to choose what happens to me?”  I spoke for the first time, directly at both of them.

Bamfield answered.  “No.”  Then gave me a genial look.  “How are you, Sam.  I’ve spoken to the doctors, and they say all you need is rest and recuperation and you’ll be as good as new.  But I want to know how you feel?”

I gave him a measured look.  “I would have to say a lot worse than a few days ago.”

His expression changed as a result of those words.  Breeman’s expression was a lot more interesting, processing what that statement might mean.

She was about to ask when he interrupted her.  “Understandable, since you were found unconscious in the cabin of the crashed aircraft.  A case perhaps of a delayed reaction.  You should tell the medics you need more pain killers.”  He then turned to Breeman.  “The sergeant will be evacuated at 0800 hours tomorrow morning.  Until then, no one is to visit him until he is debriefed.  Am I clear?”

Breeman stood.  She was a good six inches shorter than Bamfield in stature, and at least 100 pound in weight.  Still, she projected a formidable opponent.

“I take it that does not include me?”

“What part of everyone did you not understand?”

Fighting words and she was ready to take up the battle.  Except, I think she knew she was outranked, and if push came to shove, it was not worth losing her command over the visiting of a lowly Sergeant.  This was pulling rank at its worst.

“Something’s not right here,” she said.  “And you can be assured I will get to the bottom of it.”  A final glare in his direction and she left, almost slamming the ward door behind her.

Bamfield waited a moment to make sure she had left, then addressed me.

“What have you said about your time missing?”

“Nothing.  If anything I was almost sure you’d turn up.  I had no intention of telling her what happened to me because I’m not sure myself.  I don’t remember having any broken bones.”

“You had to look like you were in a crash, not sitting in a cell for the time you were missing.  I suggest you keep our discussion to yourself, and remember, we could have sent you back in a body bag.  The debriefing crew will be here in an hour or so.”

“What am I supposed to tell them?”

“Whatever you want.  It won’t go any further than them because they are assigned to me.  Now, I have to work to get back to.  I might see you again in Germany, but if I don’t, enjoy the rest of your life.”

The way he said it, I didn’t think this visit would be the last time I saw him.  Like Breeman said, something was not right.

He had a brief word to the guard, another soldier he had brought with him, and left him on guard outside the ward door.  It looked to me like he didn’t take Breeman at her word she wouldn’t return.


© Charles Heath 2019

#AtoZChallenge — S is for second


It would be very interesting if duelling was still allowed.  There are a few people I’d like to stand toe to toe with, take ten paces, then test my ability to shoot with an old style flint duelling pistol.

What’s this got to do with anything?

It’s where our word of the day comes in.  If I lose my nerve, or I know my opposite number is a better shot, my second would have to stand in my place.

It’s,  if anything, an older use of the word.

Of course, it mainly means, on one hand, coming second in a race or a competition, not exactly the place you really want to be, simply because no one really remembers who came second.

It plays host to a plethora of statements using second as part of the saying, such as,

Second rate, second hand, even if it had more than one owner, second best.

But then there’s a few more that mean something else like a second look, mainly because you didn’t trust your eyes, second nature, it’s been drilled into you (a rather painful idiom if it truly was) and second sight, though this might not necessarily be a verifiable attribute.

And, of lesser note, I’m not necessarily sure I’m second to none.

On the other hand, and pardon the pun using this definition, it also describes a length of time, very short in fact, and it takes 60 of them to make a minute.

Hang on, it’ll only take a second.  Yes, we often use the word in vain.  I doubt there is any one of us who could do anything useful in a second.

Getting words on paper, easy to say, not so easy to do!

Everything I’ve read, and understand, about this writing ‘thing’ is that it’s better to get words on paper, even if none of it fits the story.

Go to keep up the word count.

But, to me, it has to make sense.  I’ve written 2,000 words or four pieces of paper, or 20 sheets longhand in a notebook, but it doesn’t feel right.

It doesn’t make any sense, it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t progress the story, they are just words on a piece of paper.

For example:


My life was going nowhere.  If I took a step back and took a good, long, hard look at it, what could I say was the one defining moment?

There was no defining moment.

I’d bounced around schools till the day I decided I was not cut out to learn anything more, or perhaps the teachers had given up trying to impart knowledge.  Whatever the reason, I dropped out of college, and drifted.  Seasonal laborer, farm hand, factory worker, night watchman.

At least now I had a uniform and looked like I’d made something of myself.

Until I went home.

My parents were distinctly disappointed I was not married with children.

My overachieving brother always said I was a loser, and would never make anything of myself.

My ultra successful sister, married into a very wealthy family, had the regulation 2.4 children, and lived in the lap of luxury, mostly pretended I didn’t exist, didn’t invite me to the wedding, and I had yet to meet the husband and children.  I guess she was ashamed of me.

This year I was avoiding going home.

This year I volunteered to work the holidays.


It’s about as gloomy and depressing as it gets.  We’re supposed to entertain, take people out of their humdrum, mundane lives, put them in the passenger seat of a car, bus, or truck careening out of control.

Yep, time to walk away and do something entirely different, like wrapping Christmas presents, my second favorite job to mowing the lawn.  Maybe if I contrive an accident with the lawn mower …

Back in front of the words, some hours later, an idea pops into my head.  The story continues:


It was 3 a.m. and it was like standing on the exact epicenter of the South Pole.  I’d just stepped from the warehouse into the car park.

The car was covered in snow.  The weather was clear now, but more snow was coming.

A white Christmas?  That’s all I needed.  I hoped I remembered to put the anti freeze in my radiator this time.

As I approached my car, the light went on in a SUV parked next to my car.  The door opened and what looked to be a woman was getting out of the car.


It was a voice I was familiar with, though I hadn’t heard it for a long time.

My ultra successful sister, Penelope.  She was leaning against her car door, and from what I could see, didn’t look too well.

“What do you want?”


My help, I was the last person to help her, or anyone for that matter.  But curiosity got the better of me.  “Why?”

“Because my husband is trying to kill me.”

With that said, she slid down the side of the car, and I could see, in the arc lamps lighting the car park, a trail of blood.


OK, so not such a good idea to cut close to the bone here, but rivalries do make for great thrillers.  Even if they are not your own!

Maybe it’s not such a bad day after all.

In a word: Spark

So, as far as I’m concerned the word ‘spark’ is something that is created by a fire, and can create havoc.


Another meaning is that a ‘spark’ is created by a ‘spark plug’ in order to force the pistons of an engine to drive the crankshaft

This leads to…

There is no spark in this relationship, so perhaps it’s going nowhere.  No, we’re not looking for a fiery spark, but a small amount of very intense feeling


I was watching God Friended Me last night and I’m sure like many others we were waiting to see that spark that would change their relationship from the friend zone, to something else.


I think it was there.  Of course, we’ll have to wait till next week to find out.

As for the word spark, well there several different meanings, one of which I am familiar with when I was young.

Being called a ‘bright spark’

Depending on who used that remark, it could either mean you were clever or you were a smart ass, which I suspect was the reference to me.

Then, moving on

Saying something inflammatory ‘sparked’ the crowd into action.  A single remark can be equated to a literal ‘spark’ that can ignite a reaction.

A lynching perhaps?

And what about, once upon a time, a ship’s radio officer, he was called ‘sparks’ or ‘sparkie’, also a name that sometimes refers to an electrician.

I can see plenty of uses for this word in a story.