Past conversations with my cat – 3

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This is Chester.  Back on the bed.

Another argument lost, another smug ‘I’ve got the better of you, again’ look.

Time to move on, pick a battle I think I can win.

Food.  There’s the old wives tale, that cats love fish, and it’s true to a certain extent.

Chester doesn’t believe fish live in cans or plastic packets, despite how it’s dressed up.  Fresh fish, he’s into it, but there always seems to be a measured reluctance to eat something out of a can.

I think he regards us humans with disdain when our food comes out of a can or packet.

He refuses to eat the leftovers!

Then there’s chicken, or its more expensive neighbor, turkey.

He loves turkey.

I’m sure he’d eat quail and spatchcock too, but no, he’s a cat, and cats have to get used to eating chicken.  We’ve had this discussion, one too many times.

And just for good measure, I told him if he thinks he’s coming to Italy with us, he’d better get used to the idea of eating pasta.

Of course, always with the last word, he said, quite nonchalantly, ‘then you’d better call me Garfield’.

Grrrrrrr.

A matter of life and … what’s worse than death – Episode 12

For a story that was conceived during those long boring hours flying in a steel cocoon, striving to keep away the thoughts that the plane and everyone in it could just simply disappear as planes have in the past, it has come a long way.

Whilst I have always had a fascination in what happened during the second worlds war, not the battles or fighting, but in the more obscure events that took place, I decided to pen my own little sidebar to what was a long and bitter war.

And, so, it continues…

 

I had walked quite fast in my attempt to distance myself from our pursuers if they were, in fact, chasing me.  In doing so I had tried to make my escape as quiet as possible.

Now, between Jack and I, hiding in the undergrowth, the only noise I could hear was our laboured breathing, and mine in particular.  I hadn’t been expecting to be doing this sort of exercise when I signed on for the job.

Now, I think, exercise was going to become a priority.

If I made it back alive.

A crack and I saw Jack go very still, ears cocked, and looking in what was the direction of the sound.  He’d know, better than me, where the noise came from.

Another minute before I could hear muffled voices, then as if they had stepped into a room, I could hear them.

“So, you’re telling me you let him hit you?”

“I had to, for the sake of making it look good.  I was told he was no fool.” 

The voice of the man who had orchestrated my departure.  I shook my head, very disappointed in myself for not seeing through what could have been a very cunning plan.  It also explained why they hadn’t summarily shot me.  I could see Jackerby gloating over the cleverness of his plan.

So perhaps for a few moments there, I was a fool.  Not anymore.

“What do we do if we find him?”

“We’re not supposed to find him, remember.  You were at the same meeting, or was that your ghost I saw with me?”

“Observe and report back.”

“Exactly.”

The voices were very close, and I could hear their boots of the rocky path until they stopped.

“Which way?”

The voice sounded very close, in fact, I thought they were just on the other side of the undergrowth, but that couldn’t be right, I could see through it in places, and no one was standing on the other side.

Sound must travel very good in this part of the forest.

“Follow the main river.  He won’t be looking to deviate from his objective, which by now would be to find the other members of the resistance and organise his departure.”

“And leave alone what he saw?”

“There isn’t much he could do about it.  By the time he’s reported back to London, we will have found the underground members and eliminated any threat.”

“Aha, so he’s leading us to the resistance?”

“That’s the plan.”

“And it was your idea?”

“I do have my moments, thank you.  Now, let’s get on, or he’ll get too much of a start on us, and I don’t want to be the one to explain how we lost him to Jackerby in particular.”

A minute passed, then two before I heard the sound of boots receding.  Johansson, or maybe Jackerby, had correctly guessed I might know where the other resistance members were, and, after escaping, go straight to them.

Pity, I was going to disappoint them.

 

© Charles Heath 2019

In a word: Blank

Yes, I’m drawing a blank, which means I have no idea

It seems that I do this a lot these days, perhaps one of the perils of being a writer

But…

Using blank in a story doesn’t necessarily convey the antagonist is clueless, more likely he or she just used one in a gun, put there by a person who didn’t want to get shot.

No, still drawing a blank on this one.

A blank space means there’s nothing in it, and you see a lot of these in crosswords and sudoku, even when the user has been toiling for hours

I’m thinking anyone who met me might misinterpret my blank expression, well, it’s not too expressive in the first place

Perhaps before the coin becomes a coin; it is a piece of blank metal to begin with.  How good would it be to get a one-sided coin, that’d be worth a lot?

And the very worst description of blank; having a blank piece of paper in front of you, and you really are drawing a blank!

Being Inspired – the book

Over the past year or so I have been selecting photographs I’ve taken on many travels, and put a story to them.

When I reached a milestone of 50, I decided to make them into a book, and, in doing so, I have gone through each and revised them, making some longer, and almost a short story.

50 photographs, 50 stories.  I’ve called it, “Inspiration, Maybe”

It will be available soon.

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I’ve always wanted to go on a Treasure Hunt – Part 18

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.

 

The pier had been moving gently up and down in response to a passing speed boat that had flouted the minimum speed law, like most of the speed boat owners.

On board the boat, the movement was more pronounced, and it was a bad time to remember that I get seasick, even standing on the pier.  My stomach was suddenly queasy.

Boggs was standing by the hatch that led down below.  It was locked with a big padlock so there was no way we were getting below.  Along the side of the boat was a raised section with windows, but there were curtained off, and the material was faded and looked dirty.

Boggs walked along the narrow walkway to the bow and tried the hatch in the middle of the foredeck.

I noticed the boat was tied to the pier fore and aft with some think rope and funny looking knots.  I don’t think I’d make a very good sailor.  I looked up to the top of the mast and it made me feel dizzy.  It was a long way up.

Behind me was an area where people could seat, and further back a large wheel which I assumed was how the boat was steered.  I could just see Rico standing behind it, captain’s hat on, looking all business-like.

“There’s nothing to see here,” I said, turning back towards Boggs, who was now coming along the other side of the cabin.  One slip and he’d be in the ocean.  I looked over the side and it didn’t look very deep.  I could even see some small fish swimming near the pylon that was covered below the waterline with seaweed.

Boggs stopped at the last window, then knelt down and peered in.

“What do you see?”

“There’s someone in there?”

“Rico?”

“No.  I saw him leave earlier.  Someone else.”

“You know who it is?”

“No.  Never seen him before.  A guy in a suit.  Not the sort of person I’d expect Rico to know, or have as a friend.”

“What’s he doing?”

Boggs changed his position to get a better look.  “He’s just sitting…oh my God, there’s blood.”

“Where?”

I moved quickly over to where Boggs was crouched.  “Give us a look?”  Curiosity was overtaking concern.

“Oh my God, oh my God,” Boggs said over and over.

I pulled out my phone and dialled 911.  When they asked me who I wanted, I said Police.  Then I looked over at the fishing shop and saw Rico and his friends coming back.

“Boggs.”

He ignored me, trying to get a better view.

“Boggs.  It’s Rico.”

Then the policeman answered, “What’s the nature of your emergency?”

“Dead man on a boat, Eden’s Landing, Pier 5, a boat called ‘Freedom Runner’.  And you’d better hurry.”

“Why?”

“Because the owners coming and he doesn’t look happy.”

Then to Boggs, “We got to get the hell out of here, now.”

But, by that time, there was nowhere to go.  Rico had seen us and was all but running to cut off our escape.

 

© Charles Heath 2019

“Echoes From The Past”, buried, but not deep enough

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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What happens after the action-packed start – Part 23

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 appears, his problems stem from another operation he participated in.

 

“As I understand it, you were to fly to the drop off point about two miles from the abandoned farm where the operatives were hiding, and not far from the farm, where a group of enemy soldiers had set up camp.  The plan was one team was to create a diversion, while the other rescued the operatives.”

It sounded quite simple and equally workable when said out loud, now.

But, at the time and on the ground, nothing could be further from the truth.  It had sounded equally simple when we discussed the final plan before we moved out.  My team would provide the diversion; Treen’s would affect the rescue.

“In your post operational debriefing, you said you encountered the enemy not far from the drop zone.”  He looked down at his notebook, and then up again, after checking what the question was, “but you didn’t exactly say how that affected moving forward, or whether you thought they had been informed prior to your arrival.”

“It was basically unexpected and both Treen and I had to adjust the plan on the fly so to speak.  It was a setback, but it wasn’t what might be called a show stopper.  Not initially, anyway.”

Except Treen had lost it because I soon discovered he didn’t like changes.  The plan was the plan, come what may.

“And, now, after you’ve had time to think about it?”

“I did say, at the briefing, that if the source of the ground had gone silent, it might mean he’d been caught, and if so, may have told the enemy of our intentions.”

“And this suggestion was given no credence?”

“It was left to Treen to factor that into his decision as the officer in charge.  I’m sure that decision was based on more than just my input. but, on the other hand, no one else asked seemed to consider that a possibility.  So, if it was you, would it not seem strange the enemy would let the choppers land, drop us off, and take off again, then give us time to set up before attacking.  If I’d been told anyone was coming, I’d use rockets to take out the choppers in the air, kill the raid before it started.”

Lallo had his best poker face on, so I had no idea what he thought, but he did make a note.

“Where was Treen after you landed?”

“With his group.  We’d re-worked the plan while in the air, and to minimise the choppers exposure, we were to hit the ground running.  We had different destinations, so I didn’t see him or his team.  It was dark, and not possible to see where anyone other than your immediate team members were.”

But as it turned out, their chopper had landed closer to the pickup zone, and we had enemy soldiers between us and them.  We were as soon as we landed effectively cut off from Tree, and he would not get any support from us.

“The choppers didn’t land together?”

“No.  We were a hundred yards, maybe more, apart.”

“But you knew they were close.  You said you heard shots fired not long after your chopper took off.  Was the gunfire theirs or ours?”

“All guns sound the same at night.  It was impossible to say.  It was the first indication that there was a group of enemy soldiers near the drop zone, coincidentally or otherwise, and Treen’s team had been seen.   I sent Sycamore to find out what had happened, and the rest of the team waited.  No point walking into a firefight.  I trusted Treen to get the job done whatever the circumstances.”

“Your man didn’t come back?”

“No.”

“What happened then?”

My team members disobeyed orders to stay on mission, and not wanting to remain alone in the field, I followed them on what I thought was suicide.  If the other members of their team had been killed, or, worse, captured, and it was certainly looking like it, then the odds were they were going to join them.

It’s a perfect situation where being the odd man out works in your favour.

I saw Andrews and Ledgeman go over the hill and disappear, and seconds later the sound of automatic fire.  It was exactly as I thought it would be.  I broke for cover and made it just in time to see a dozen enemy soldiers come over the hill, heading towards our drop zone.  I assumed they’d done a head count and found one was missing.

“It was over before it started.”

 

© Charles Heath 2019