It’s raining, it’s pouring…

It’s one of those grey, dark, wet mornings where you can inadvertently sleep in because the bedroom remains dark for an extra two hours.  That could be a problem if you have a day job, but I’m one of the more fortunate, I am supposed to be retired.

Pity then the rest of the family haven’t quite got it yet.

But, today is Sunday, and there’s no pressing requirement to get up.  It’s one of those times when you are comfortable and warmly ensconced under the doona, somewhere between asleep, and in a sleepy haze.

Time to mull over the latest storyline, marshal my thoughts, write the prose in my head.

Too many storylines, and nothing to do with any of the current projects.

The rain is getting heavier, and is splashing outside; the steady waterfall of overflow from the gutters is taking away my concentration.

 

Rain, rain, go away …

 

I have two different visions.

A cold, grey day in London (is there any other sort of day in my second favourite city) waiting for a train, and seeing the woman of your dreams go past, standing in the doorway, and in that fraction of a second when your eyes meet, a connection is made.

I suspect it has fuelled many a song such as ‘The Look of Love’.

The second is on a desolate section of coastline as for north as you can go in Scotland (yes, I am a glutton for punishment), and she is standing on the cliff top gazing out to sea, hair blowing in the wind.  Silent, strong, resolute.

Hang on, I think that happened further south, Cornwall in fact, and her name is Demelza.  With red hair!

 

The rain has gone.  That degree of comfortability is now gone after a gentle nudge that reminds you, you cannot stay in bed all day.

And the cat is forcefully reminding you that he needs to be fed.  A cat that’s begging to get sent to Siberia on a very slow boat.

Notes hastily scribbled in a notebook for later reference.

Time to think about tending the garden…

“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!

Purchase:

http://tinyurl.com/Amazon-SundayInNewYork

Sunday In New York

Tomorrow never comes

I’ve often said, that can wait until tomorrow.  I mean, I don’t have the time at the moment, or more to the point, quite often I can’t be bothered.

So, how many things have I put on hold, and then forgotten about, deliberately or otherwise?  I suspect quite a few.

What is it that makes us put off something until another time, using tomorrow as an excuse?

Perhaps the point is, tomorrow never comes, does it?  By the time it’s tomorrow, it’s today again, and that onerous job can be put off yet again, until tomorrow.  So, does the fact tomorrow never comes, really mean it;’s something we don’t want to do?

I keep putting off the rest of the editing of my latest novel until tomorrow.

Does that mean I just don’t want to do it, because as we all know, editing is an onerous job we tend to put off until we have to do it, usually when the editor is turning a bright shade of purple?

Or does it mean that we don’t think the book is very good, and this is our way of expressing our feelings about it without condemning it outright?

I don’t think I’m happy with it in its current form.  But, as quite a few say, it’s better to get the words on paper, and you can always fix them later.

Tomorrow perhaps?

Perhaps it’s time to go back and have another look, screw my courage to the sticking place, and do what needs to be done.

And do it now, because if I say I’ll do it tomorrow…

Now I’m starting to feel like I’m on a merry-go-round.

Repeat after me, do it now, do it now, do it now, do it now……..

What happens after the action-packed start – Part 28

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.

 

I was escorted to a small room that adjoined the interview room, and I was separated from the main event by a one-way mirror.

It was a cliché, but not surprising.

The interrogation room was much the same as an office, with a table, two chairs, and on the side, a cabinet, closed up, and an interesting addition to what might be called a boring room.

It was currently empty, and I was the only one in this small room, sitting at a counter, looking in.  In front of me was a stack of writing pads, pens and pencils.  I wondered if I was the only party that was about to observe Lallo and the new arrival.

Five minutes passed before the door to the room next door opened and a hooded man was led in.  His hands were cuffed, and his legs had chains, standard prisoner gear.  

From the man’s manner and body language, it appeared to me as though he was surprised he was being treated so badly, and was not forcefully resistant, but wasn’t making it easy for his captors.

He was asked to sit, and when he didn’t he was forced to sit, with some force, and then his hands were locked onto the metal bar at the table.  His legs were locked to a lower bar.  A precaution in case he decided to attack his interrogator.

One thing I knew for sure, this man would not give up information willingly.

Once he was secured, one guard took up station inside the door, the other left.  That’s when Lallo made his appearance.  He came in, put a file on the desk, nodded to the guard who remove3d the hood, and then he sat.

I’d expected to see Lallo in full uniform.  He was not.  He was, if anything, dressed casually.  The man on the other side was in a cream suit, very crumpled and slightly stained as if he had not changed during the entire journey from capture to this room.

No doubt part of his conditioning.

“Mr Jacobi, that is your name isn’t it?”

The man stared at him sullenly.  I got the impression he was usually the one asking the questions, not the other way around.

The man lifted his head and stared straight at Lallo.  It was not a look I’d want to be on the end of, but Lallo, I suspect, had been on the end of a lot worse.  And a closer inspection of his face, and features, I noticed that someone had already started the harsher form of interrogation.

“You know this already.  I am an employee of the United States Government, your Government, and you will regret treating me like this.”

“That may be so, but you have failed to define what part of the Government it is you work for.  Is it the CIA?”

Another withering stare, followed by, “You people are so incompetent, the left-hand does not know what the right hand is doing.  I require a telephone so that I can contact my liaison, and this farce will stop, and you will be reprimanded very severely.”

“I seriously doubt anyone knows you are missing yet.  Maybe after a week or so, but we know you keep to yourself, and very few people know your business, a situation, I assure you, the benefits us more than it benefits you.  So I will assume you are Jacobi.”

There was a knock on the door, and Monroe came in with a small box, handed it to Lallo, and then left again.

Lallo looked in the box, then pulled out a plastic evidence bag with a mobile phone in it, and put it on the table.  “This is the phone you use to call General Bahti, your contact inside the current government.  It seems it is not registered with a telephone network in your country, but another, shall we say neutral, country.

He reached into the box and pulled out another plastic evidence bag also with mobile phone in it.  “This phone,” he held it up, “is the one you use to talk to the, shall we call them the local resistance.  It’s so much nicer than calling them rebels.”

The man’s eyes followed each bag from the box to the table.  He was almost expressionless.

Then Lallo pulled out another bag, with another phone, “This is the phone which you make and receive calls from your American contact.  It is what we call a burner phone, and was given to you, we think, on a recent visit to this country, by that contact.  I am assuming this is the person you wish to call and who will stop this farce.”

If Lallo was expecting the man to break down there and then, he was sadly mistaken.  There was little if any movement in his expression, perhaps just enough for Lallo to assume he’d got the men behind the phones correct.  That he was basically unmoved at Lallo’s revelations told me this man had a resolve Lallo was going to find hard to shake.

Lallo took the third phone out of the evidence bag and pushed it across the table towards the man.  “You can call your contact now, and you can tell him I would like to speak to him.”

 

© Charles Heath 2019

Just when you think you’ve found the right wordprocessor

It was as if Microsoft Word was sent down from that place in the universe where a group of torturers sit around a table to find new ways of making our lives just that little bit more difficult.

I mean, most of the time it works really well and behaves itself.

But…

Then there are the times, usually when you are stressed about a deadline, or you are nearly at the end of what you believe to be the most brilliant writing you have ever put on paper.

Then…

Disaster strikes.

It could be the power goes off, even for just a few seconds, but it’s enough to kill the computer.  It could be that you have reached the end and closed Word down, thinking that it had autosaved, all the while ignoring that little pop up that says, ‘do you want to save your work’?

It’s been a long day, night, or session.  You’re tired and your mind is elsewhere, as it always is at the end.

You always assume that autosave is on.  It was the last time, it has been since the day you installed it however long ago that was.

So…

When the power comes back on, you start the computer, go into Word, and it brings back all the windows you had open when the power failed, and the one with the brilliant piece you just wrote, it’s just a blank sheet.

Or up to where it last autosaved, which is nowhere near the end.

Or it didn’t save at all.

You forget the software updated recently and that always brings changes.  Usually unwanted changes.

By which time you have that sinking feeling that all is lost, deadline missed, brilliant work lost, it’s the end of the world.

You promise yourself you’re going to get Scrivener, or something else, where this doesn’t happen.

Or if you’re like me, you put the cat on the keyboard and tell him to sort the mess out.

A matter of life and … what’s worse than death – Episode 16

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 world 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…

 

The message I sent to Forster, in London, was short and to the point,

‘Castle in hands of Germans led by Thompson, others, and a further 12 soldiers parachuted in.  Defectors, our original soldiers? and villagers held captive in dungeons.  Resistance limited to five plus self.  Available resources cannot retake castle and will have difficulty in intercepting incoming package.  Suggestions?’

Marina read it and added her name before it was sent.  Now, all we could do was wait for a reply, though I was not sure what Forster would make of my request for suggestions.  I was supposed to make decisions in the field, but that was when we had a full complement of resistance fighters.  What I’d discovered was the worst-case scenario, and everyone in London was hoping that would not be the case.

I wondered what happened to the two men who had been following me, hoping I would lead them to what were now the remaining resistance members.

“Did you see the two men from the castle that had been following me?  I told the two who had captured me, a man and a woman, though the man emphatically denied he worked for the resistance, about them before the woman shot me with a tranquilizer gun.”

Martina looked puzzled.  It was obvious the two hadn’t mentioned anything about my situation to her.

“That did not come up in the debriefing.  The man is, in fact, a farmer, Leonardo, who doesn’t advertise his involvement, and only works with us if we need him.  Chiara tends to shoot first and ask questions later.  You were lucky her gun wasn’t loaded with bullets.  What is this story of yours, then?”

“One of the guards released me from my cell, and then set me free with the intention of following, not too close, to see if I led them to you.  I was hiding from them when they passed by, shortly before you people turned up.  They would have had to see them if they came from the village.”

The implications of what I just said only dawned on me after I said it.

“That might mean…” I said.

She put her hand up, not wanting me to continue.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but I will have to talk to them.  If anything, they would have avoided them or ignored them.  We don’t use that track from the village to the castle for the simple reason we might run into any of them.  Whether they were originally our allies, or not, we never trusted them.”

“Did they bring me here?”

“No.  We have a separate meeting point for intercepts like yourself and the defectors.  Then, if we think it’s safe to do so, we bring them here.  Only three of us know about this place, and two of us are here now.”

“The third?”

“You’ll meet him later when he brings some food and wine.  His name is Carlo.  He used to be a gardener at the castle, and his mother was the cook.  The Germans killed her the first time they were here, and now he hates Germans.”

Good for us, very bad for anyone at the castle, particularly if they are German.

“Pity we didn’t know about that earlier so we could organise a trap for them  We could do with two fewer adversaries, and quite possibly we might get some information out of them.  They might be still in the village.”

She stood, and put on her coat, and put a gun in the coat pocket where she could easily reach it.  “I’m going to have a word with Chiara, and warn Carlo that you’re here.  He’s a little trigger happy too.  Nothing much is going to happen until we hear back from the Colonel.  I suggest you get some rest, we have a few long days ahead.”

Carlo was a surprise.  Six foot ten, over 250 pounds, and carrying a sten gun over his shoulder, not a man to become an enemy of.  He came into the room without warning, and it was clear he was expecting to see me, and equally that I might be the enemy.

It was clear that he knew how to use the weapon, and had it ready in case he had to use it.

“You this Anderson character?”

He was more English than Italian, but could certainly pass for an Italian.

“I am.”

“From up yon castle?”

“Escaped?”

“How?”

“The lower level, where there are a few storerooms turned into cells.  The passage ran alongside the outer wall to a room that had a door to the outside.  Not one you’d easily pick.”

“Neat the communications room?”

“Probably above there.”

“You know the castle?”

“A little.  I used to be an archaeologist before this war came along, and had been to the castle before the war.  I’m familiar with the above-ground parts, but not so much below.  You were, I was told, a gardener?”

“Once.”

“Then you’d know your way around?”

“Possibly.  Why?”

“Because at some point we’re going to have to retake the place, and it would be good to have someone who knows their way around.  At least, better than I do.”

“Taking prisoners?”

“No.    We will be assuming anyone there whose not a prisoner is hostile.”

“Good.  Count me in.”

He dropped a basket he’d brought with him on the table in the corner.  “Dinner.”  Marina will be back shortly.

“You’re not staying?”

“Guard duty.  So you can eat in peace.”

With that, he was gone.  A large man, but a very quiet one.  I didn’t hear him arrive, and it was very nearly the same when he left.  A useful man in a fight indeed.

 

© Charles Heath 2019

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.

InspirationMaybe1v1