Tea with the Reaper

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Nichole felt the cool breeze on her skin, so she pulled the light bed sheet over her exposed flesh. Normally, sleeping with one leg out was most comfortable, but tonight she felt a coldness creeping over her. Lifting her head and glancing with one, half open sleepy eye, she looked at the window. Satisfied it was closed and the wind was not blowing into the room Nichol laid back.

Perhaps, she thought, it was an already forgotten dream which woke her.

Nichole buried her head deep into the soft down of her pillow, tucked the loose sheet tightly about her and closed her eyes.

That was when the sound came.

A rasping, or maybe heavy fabric being dragged over the floorboards, or slothernly footsteps, lazy feet sliding along, scuffing the ground.

Nichole sat bolt upright. Her own breathing heavy with anxiety smothering any other noise. Holding her breath, trying to be a still and as silent as possible, she strained to listen, seeking the sound again.

Nothing.

All was quiet. The house was still.

Nichole’s lungs were to the point of bursting before she exhaled with an almighty sigh. Falling back onto her bed in relief, she noticed how her breath hung in the air, a wispy cloud slowly evaporating.

How could it be so cold in the house.

It was never that cold, not inside, not indoors. Unless the heating was off, broken. Maybe the boiler was out? Maybe that was what woke her, the coldness, not a breeze, not the wind blowing over her naked skin.

Maybe.

But the noise.

She heard it after she woke, didn’t she? Did she? Nichole was uncertain.

Laying her head back onto the downy comfort of the feather pillow once again, she pulled the sheet up to her neck and, as she closed her eyes, decided she would check the boiler in the morning. Right now, all she wanted to do was get back to sleep. Morning was still a few hours away, at least the civilized morning.

But sleep did not come. Each time Nichole began to drift off she would jump awake, almost startling herself with the suddenness, until she woke one too many times. Annoyed with her own restlessness she got out of bed and padded across the bedroom, grabbing her nightgown on the way to the door.

She was half way down the stairs, still dragging her gown behind her, when she heard another sound, this one coming from the kitchen. Nichole froze and listened. There was a muffled sound; someone was in her kitchen creeping about, trying to be quiet.

She wrapped her robe around her and tied the belt tightly, before cautiously creeping towards the kitchen. Poking her head around the doorway Nichole looked into the room. She could see no one, just the digital clock on the microwave. It read Three-thirty four precisely.

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Three steps and she was at the dining table.

This was weird. She was certain she heard someone moving about. The kettle began to gurgle as it came to the boil. Nichole stared at it in disbelief.

The voice came from behind her “Sit down Nichole, join me in a cup of tea?”

Spinning around, she saw a tall dark figure looming over her and felt the same icy chill which woke her earlier. In shock, Nichole stepped backwards, coming to an abrupt halt as she met the table’s edge.

“Sit, sit” said the dark figure gesturing for Nichole to take a chair. “We can have a cosy chat together.”

Nichole walked backwards around the table, feeling her way to the chair, not daring to take her eyes from the figure. She felt her mouth drying and her heart pumping against her ribs as realisation dawned on her of who he was.

“One sugar or two?” he asked, glancing over his shoulder towards her.

“Um… I… um.” Nicole could not form a single coherent word.

The dark figure placed the cups on the table and the sugar bowl in the centre. “Maybe you just help yourself, ehh?”

Nichole sensed the figure was smiling at her, but because of the cowl covering his head his face was in deep shadow.

“Are you… are you… him?” Nichole asked.

“Him? Him who?”

“Um… Death. Have you come for me?”

To Nichole’s surprise the dark figure laughed. It was a deep throaty chuckle, not the evil echoing howl she would have expected.

“Drink” he said, lifting his own cup from the table.

Nichole could not help but notice the way he crooked his pale, bony, almost skeletal little finger as he raised his cup from the saucer.

She took a sip from her cup. It really was a good brew. “I asked if you were… were Death?”

The figure looked over the rim of his cup. “Some call me that, others ‘Old Father time’ or ‘The Reaper’ even the ‘The Grim Reaper’, although I object to that. I am not grim at all”. He let another chuckle tumble from the shadows of his hood.

“So, am I to die today, are you hear to take me?” Nichole asked.

“You see, this is what people don’t understand” he said, gesturing by waving both arms in the air, “I don’t take a person’s life. I don’t kill people.”

“Then why are people frightened of you?”

“Books, the movies, ignorance, conjecture, propaganda, who knows?” He shrugged his words away dismissively.

Nichol sipped her tea. “If you don’t take people’s lives, what do you do?”

“I take their souls. More tea?”

Nichole nodded. She was stunned by the ambiguity of it all. Here she was, sitting at her kitchen table chatting with the Reaper while drinking tea, not knowing if this was the last thing she would do before she died. Although she had certain apprehensions, as anyone would, she felt no fear, she did not feel threatened as one would imagine.

Perhaps that was how things worked? He lulled his victims into a sense of false security and then…. whack. Maybe, maybe not.

“But surely people must die? I mean, people must be dead before you take their souls?” Nichole asked.

“Yes, well sort of… at least for the most part. I gather their souls as soon as they die. You see, we cannot have thousands of lost souls wandering about aimlessly. Goodness me, what chaos and confusion that would beget.

So, I collect them and take them to the boatman for the crossing. That is the plan, at least that would be the way it worked, in an ideal world.”

“And this is not an ideal world?” As macabre as it was, Nichole found herself enjoying the conversation.

“Far from it. Have you any biscuits, digestive or a custard creams perhaps?”

Nichole brought the biscuit tin to the table. Sliding it towards the Reaper she said, “Help yourself.”

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“Thank you my dear. Now where were we? Oh yes… This is far from an ideal world. There are far too many people now. It is making my job extremely difficult.”

“How is that?”

“I have to be everywhere at once, I even have to stop time to get a little rest, some respite, like now.” The reaper pointed to the clock.

It still read three thirty-four, precisely the time Nichole entered the kitchen, when the reaper was boiling the kettle.

“Surely if you can stop time, then you have enough time to do whatever you need to do?” Nichole suggested.

“Ha, ha. Oh, I wish it was so simple. Time stops for them, for you, the people like you, not for me. That’s why I am exhausted, shattered. I have not had a good night’s sleep for years.”

“But now, I am talking with you, time hasn’t stopped for me.”

“No, but only because I want it that way” the reaper said.

“Why?” Nichole was curious.

“Oh, I was bored. I felt like some company. I don’t get much of that these days you know” again the Reaper laughed.

Despite the situation Nichole could not help but laugh with him. “I’ll make us a fresh pot of tea” she said, “unless you have to get back to work already?”

“No, another cup will be fine, thank you.” The Reaper lifted his head. Once again Nichole felt a smile, although she still could not see his face.

As she filled the kettle, she asked, “why are you here, in my house tonight?” Nichole was uncertain she wanted to know the answer, but then again, it was probably better to know the truth than not.

“I have come to collect a soul.” The reapers voice was factual. All joviality gone.

“I thought so. Tell me, how am I to die. Will it be painful?”

“I have no idea, no idea at all” the Reaper answered.

“But if you have to take my soul, surely I must die and, as you are here, you must know.”

“Not necessarily. Things have changed over the years. It’s all about efficiency now. It is not like the old days, then things were far more relaxed.” The reaper took the tea pot from Nichole and set it in the centre of the table. “Give it a minute or two to brew, I find it is best if it sits a while” he said.

Nichol sat back down, facing the Reaper. In a strange way she felt herself warming to this strange and somewhat unnerving character.

“So what’s changed?” she asked.

“What hasn’t” he snorted, continuing, “I have been told to be pro-active. To collect souls ‘in advance.’ Have you ever heard anything so bloody ridiculous? It will save time in the long run, blah, blah, blah.” The Reaper grunted in distain.

“I mean, if I do that, say if I collected your soul tonight, what would be left for you? You would have to live a soulless life. That’s not my job. It is not my job to make people’s lives a misery.”

“I wouldn’t like that” Nichol said. “I want to live a long and happy life.”

“Exactly, that is why I refuse. I am not like that devil Lucifer. I would never lower myself to his level. Did you know he is just an uppity, fallen angel? Now pour the tea. Do you want a digestive or a custard cream?”

Nichole chose a digestive, which she dunked into her tea. “If you are not after my soul, I have to ask why you are here. I live alone, there is no one else in this house.”

The reaper placed his cup down carefully on the saucer. “That’s where you are wrong Nichole. I have a choice of souls here.”

Nichole could not help but look around the room. There was no one else here.  There was no one else in the house. Unless the Reaper had brought someone with him.

The reaper stood and walked around the table. A slender bony hand gripped Nichole’s elbow, encouraging her to stand. ‘Well, if this is it’ she thought to herself, there was no use fighting inevitability.

She stood, but did not expect the Reaper to slide his hand under her robe. She shivered as the coldness of his palm pressed against her stomach.

“There is the first soul. Five days old. I bet you didn’t know, did you?” the Reaper asked.

Nichole gasped. Pregnant. Five days. Oh my god, that must have been Tommy. She and Tommy had… well, they had… “Please, no. Not if I am pregnant. Please don’t take my baby” Nichole was crying with the thought.

“Did you know everybody’s soul is the same size, right from the first moment of life, from the point of conception?”

“No. I have never thought about it before. Please, not my child’s. Take mine if you must, but not my baby’s.”

“What chance would your child have if I took your soul Nichole? Imagine a child growing up with a soulless, self-centred, heartless mother. A bitch, a drug taking abusive whore of a mother. That’s no life for any child is it?”

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“No, no, I suppose not.” Nichole was crying, confused and angry. She tore the Reapers hand from her stomach and pushed him away. Re-fastening her gown she shouted, “get out, get the fuck away from me.”

The Reaper laughed again. “I have not come for you or your infant’s soul. Now sit, finish your tea before it gets cold.”

Nichole was still shaking. Part fear, part anger, but mostly frustration. “What do you want here” her voice was harsher now, demanding.

“I am sorry if I upset you” the Reaper spoke softly. “I guess I have lost my social skills over the years, it is so very rare for me to talk to anybody nowadays.”

Despite herself, Nichole could not help but snigger. “I guess you have.”

“Well, it is time I got back to work” the Reaper announced.

“Wait” said Nichole loudly, “you haven’t told me why you are here, in my home. Whose soul you are to collect?”

“Oh yes, maybe I should have made it clear earlier. Only you surprised me when you walked in the kitchen. I wasn’t expecting you.”

“You were not expecting me. I was not expecting you. You frightened the life from me… although that is probably not the best phrase to use under this circumstance.” Nichole giggled at her own joke.

“I should have said I am here to collect the soul of the previous tenant. They called him Mr Abrahams. The poor man died over a year ago and has been wandering about ever since, in limbo… that’s the technical term. You might say spirit or ghost, or something like that.”

“The truth is, I am catching up on a backlog. Do you know, if they stay uncollected for too long people’s souls can become a little pesky, a bit troublesome? That is when they start banging about and chucking things around, when they get called poltergeist, manifestations and apparitions.”

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“So those noises I have been hearing, that wasn’t you?”

“No, it was Mr. Abrahams getting bored. So, if you will excuse me, I have work to do, or I’ll get even further behind. Charon gets a bit cranky if he doesn’t have a full boatload each trip.” The Reaper held out his bony hand with those elongated cold fingers. ”Thank you for the tea and the chat, I have quite enjoyed myself. Goodbye Nichole.”

Nichole grasped the Reapers gnarled hand “In a strange way, I am glad to have met you. If you ever want to drop in for tea again and have another chat…..”

“I might just do that. Having Death as a friend isn’t all that bad, you know.”

 

© Paul White 2015

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If you enjoyed that story you might like to read some more of my short works? Check out ‘Tales of Crime & Violence’. This is a three volume collection of shorts and flash fiction.

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Eyes like a ghost

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I play with Blake.

Sometimes, when it is sunny we play in the garden. Sometimes we play catch or we dig the dirt up and make mud pies and find worms and stuff.

My mummy and Blake’s mummy sit at the garden table, drink wine and smoke and talk. They talk a lot.

Most times though and when it is raining, we have to play indoors. That is when we get the cars and soldiers and animals out of the toy box.

Sometimes the soldiers ride the animals and sometime the animals drive the cars.

We play at the end of the room, under the big window.

My mummy says we have plenty of room here and Blake’s mommy says it saves us getting under their feet. But I am too big to get under her feet. My head is as high as her waist, well nearly. Blake is a bit shorter than me, but not so much as he could be stepped on.

We are not allowed out of the big room… ever.

Especially not at night when it is dark. Unless it is to go to bed or to use the toilet.

My mummy and Blake’s mummy talk all the time. Even when they are not in the kitchen they sit at the dining table and talk. Sometimes they laugh. It makes me jump when mummy laughs because she is so loud it hurts my ears.

But they do not laugh very often.

Most times they are angry about something “I would not understand” and sometimes Blake’s mummy cries. In fact, she cries a lot. My mummy cries when Blake’s mummy cries.

They say rude words too. I pretend I do not hear them and make a growling noise as the sergeant falls off the hippopotamus and bangs his head on the truck.

“Shhush, Crystal” my mommy says, “the kids will hear.”

“Fuck the kids” Blake’s mommy says, glancing at us. “They’re fine. “She lights another cigarette. ‘Fags‘ she calls them.

My mommy pours more wine into their glasses.

I drank some once. The glass was on the table and I was thirsty, so I took a big gulp. It looked like Ribena but tasted horrible. I spat it out.

I don’t know why my mummy drinks it. I once heard her say it was like piss. But she and Blake’s mummy always have a bottle of wine when they come to the house.

They come to the house a lot.

Nearly every day, now.

I am glad they come here, because I do not like where Blake lives.

He lives very high up, near the sky.

To get to Blake’s house you have to stand in a silver box that smell like a toilet. My mummy says it is called a lift, but I know its name is Otis because it says so above the number 20.

The number 20 is the one you have to push to get to Blake’s house.

Once Otis did not get to Bake’s house. I cried because I did not like it inside Otis and the smell made me sick. Mummy was cross because my being sick made her sick too. All her dress was covered in my sick and her sick and when the men opened the doors you could see they were not happy either because they looked at us funny.

Mummy washed me in Blake’s house and I had to wear some of his clothes. He laughed at me wearing boy’s stuff. Mummy washed too and put on some of Blake’s mummy’s clothes. It was funny because we looked strange dressed like that.

The other reason I do not like to go to where Blake lives is the men. There are lots of men. They stand near where you get inside Otis and they say rude and nasty things about mummy. Sometimes they grab her and sometimes they push her against the wall and put their hands inside her clothes. They say, “you like that, don’t you?” and they say, “how about a freebie, little slut” and other bad words I am not allowed to repeat.

Once a man took me from her and held a knife up saying he would pop my eyes out. I did not like that man and did not want him to pop my eyes out. The man made mummy kneel on the floor in front of him and open her mouth. Blake’s mummy came running up to us shouting and saying lots of rude words and screaming at the men and hitting them with a big stick. The men laughed and ran away. The man holding me dropped me and mummy had to take me to hospital to see a doctor. He said I was lucky I had not broken my arm.

But it hurt forever and I do not think that is lucky.

That is why I don’t like going to Blake’s house, even though you can see a long way from his windows. From his house, everything looks small and quiet, like a map. But I think I am going to fall out of the window or the building will fall down and it’s a long way down. It is scary and it is not nice.

So, I like that Blake comes to my house. None of the other mummies bring any children when they come. I don’t think any of them have children.

Our house is a really big house, but I am only allowed in this room, the big room, the toilet and the small room at the back, behind the kitchen, where mummy and I sleep. The rest is ‘out-of-bounds’ because it is where the other mummies work.

Aunty Caroline organises everybody. Every now and then she comes into the big room and calls my mummy away. “She will be back soon” Caroline says, “mummy has some work to do.”

“Soon girl” she points at me. “Soon girl you’ll have work too. I got some fellers wanting to get to know you while you’re still fresh.”

My mummy does not like Caroline when she says that. She shouts, “shut your fucking face.” Caroline just laughs.

Even Blake’s mummy has to work when she comes here. Caroline shouts “Crystal, get your nigger arse out here girl, I got men waiting on you.”

Caroline does not like Blake’s mummy. She does not like Blake. “Little black bastard” she calls him. I don’t know why, because Blake is not black, he is brown, like me when I have been playing in the garden when its sunny. But Blake is like that all the time.

Blakes mummy is a darker brown than Blake. But she is still not black. I think Aunty Caroline has something wrong with her eyes.

That’s why I don’t look at Caroline. She has nasty eyes like a ghost, a bad ghost.

 

© Paul White 2017 


Read more of my short, and not so short, stories in Tales of Crime & Violence, a three oie_transparentvolume collection.

Tales of Crime & Violence do not contain standard stories of theft, greed and wrongdoings, as one might expect. Far from it. Tales of Crimes & Violence looks deeper into the human psyche, the mind and spirits of those involved.

Are they the perpetrators or the victims?

The innocent caught in the crossfire, or is there more to their presence than meets the eye? Maybe they are willing participants, or have they been forced, or coerced into taking part? Or perhaps circumstance has colluded to force their actions?

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Toothache drops

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“Johnny” shouted Marjory, her voice carrying the length of the garden. “Johnny, stop running about. Go sit with your Grandfather.”

Sluggishly, Johnny dawdled along the garden path towards the small arbour where his Grandfather sat. As he walked he ran a stick along the fencing so it made a clackety-clack sound.

Most adults found the noise annoying, but Grandfather Eddie clapped his hands together, jumped from his seat and said “Go back a bit Johnny, go back and do that again.”

Johnny liked his Grandfather, he was funny. He did lots of stupid things and told jokes which his mother called, ‘only nearly funny‘. That was when he wasn’t grumpy.

Not that Grandfather Eddie was ever grumpy for long, he had his special sweets, his toothache drops. If he felt bad, he ate two or three of those and he was smiling and laughing again in no time.

Johnny often wondered why Grandfather Eddie did not go and see the dentist more if his teeth hurt. Surely a dentist could make the pain stop, or he could take Grandfathers tooth away altogether?

Grandfather wrote songs. Not old songs like he was old and Nanna was old, but songs you hear on the radio. He knew all the stars and artists. Grandfather had even been on television and had trophies for writing, on display inside the house, next to his collection of guitars.

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Sometimes the famous people came to eat dinner at Grandfathers house, or to have a barbecue. Some of them were coming today. Which is why Johnny had to be on his best behaviour. Although, when you heard and saw all the things these people did, Johnny wondered why he had to behave when no one else did?

Adults can be strange at times. Most times.

Johnny sat opposite Grandfather Eddie and, looking directly at his face, watched as he tapped away on the laptop key board. His Mother said, “Don’t disturb you Grandfather when his typing.” So, Johnny waited patiently.

“That’s it” Grandfather said, a big grin spreading across his face as he shut the laptop. “So, Johnny, that’s the Vampire Dunkin Monkeys next big hit in the bag. That’s the Grunge-punk awards won for this year and it’s all down to you and your clackety-clacking.”

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“I could have done more Clacking, but the Lemon tree is in the way” said Johnny.

“You have done quite enough young man, I shall reward you handsomely, when the record become a big hit.”

“Can I have a fast car, an orange one, with silver wheels?”

Grandfather Eddie laughed. “When you are old enough you can have all the cars you want.”

“Eddie” it was Nanas voice. “They are arriving.”

“Right, Johnny.” said Grandfather Eddie, “Let’s go to work, let’s get that fast Orange car for you, shall we?”

“Go to work? I thought they were your friends?”images

 

“My friends are Alexander Hamilton, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Franklin, William McKinley and Grover Cleveland. You would do well to make their acquaintance too, young man.”

Grandfather Eddie popped two toothache drops into his mouth as they walked towards the house.

When they met their guests, Grandfather Eddie was chatting and buzzing like a teenager.

END.


Check out my novel, ‘The Abduction of Rupert DeVille’ right HERE

Hitchhiker

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I am old school.

From a time when life seemed simpler, less hectic, less complicated.

It was not.

It was just different.

Some will say that, ‘way back when’, life was safer, people were happier, times were better.

They were not.

Life was simply lived at a slower pace.

But there was less fear.

Less anxiety and more acquiescence.

I think life was more honest.

We were more honest.

With ourselves.

Life holds risks. You have to live with that.

Take your chances. Accept the possibilities.

Face the consequences.

That is how it goes.

We recognised that fact.

We did not fight it, we acknowledged it.

That is what made life simpler.

 

Like hitchhiking.

Like the figure I see ahead of me now. Checked shirt, blue jeans, backpack, thumb-out.

Quite rare nowadays, hitchhikers.

Too much fear. Mostly unwarranted.

Phobia, nurtured and spread by the media.

But who should hold that apprehension.

The driver?

I could drive on past. No one will make me stop.

Is the hiker a danger? A mass murderer?

A Rapist?

Is their thumb a lure for the unsuspecting?

Or

The Hiker?

Simply travelling home.

Should they get into the car?

Could I be a psychotic killer?

Could I be the Rapist?

Is my car a trap?

 

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As I get closer, I see the expectant look on the hiker’s face.

A bright smile.

Willing me to slow.

To stop.

I feel a compulsion.

An obligation to a fellow human.

I have been there myself. Thumb out. Waiting, hoping.

Praying for the next car to stop.

To give me a ride.

A ride to somewhere warm. Somewhere with hot coffee.

The hiker looks clean. Normal.

Conventional.

I slow. Maneuver towards the roadside.

Stop, a few yards beyond.

Looking in my mirror.

Watching.

 

The hiker picks up a small rucksack.

Running towards me.

I lock the doors.

Clunk. Safe.

I can leave. Go.

Put my foot on the accelerator.

Speed away.

The hiker is close now.

My last chance.

Decision time.

A smiling face appears at the window.

I smile back.

Still time.

Go?

Stay?

 

I press a switch.

The window hums. Open.

Half open.

I hear my voice. “Heading North” it says.

“Me too” the hiker replies.

I nod.

The hiker smiles.

Expectancy.

I smile back.

Trepidation.

Time stands still.

Momentarily.

 

Click.

I unlock the doors.

My own thumb jerks, a backward motion.

“Put your bag in the back” my voice speaks again.

Autonomously.

The bag lands on the rear seats.

Drive away, I think.

Take the bag.

Go.

Now.

What is in the bag.

Some clothing.

An iPad.

Money.

Or the hiker’s life?

Their entire possessions.

A lifetime or memories.

Lost loves, lost mother.

A bag of dreams, hopes for the future?

Is that where they are heading now?

The future.

Thiers. Mine. Ours?

Has this moment inexorably entwined our lives?

Left an indelible mark.

Or just a scratch. Unnoticeable, hidden.

One that will fade, become rubbed out as life progresses?

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The door opens.

Blue eyes, bright teeth, pale skin.

The hiker sits next to me.

“Thank you” she says.

“That’s okay” I reply.

I put the car in gear, heading North.

Our lives are meshed. At least for the next one hundred miles.

If she makes it that far.

If I make it that far.

Who knows?

Life holds risks. You have to live with that.

Take your chances. Accept the possibilities.

Face the consequences.

That is how it goes.

You see, I am old school.

I know what makes life simple.

 

 © Paul White 2016


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Andromeda’s tears

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My yacht, Cetus, gently rises and falls with the sea swell. It is a motion I find comforting, a feeling further enhanced by the occasional sound of muted splashes as the sea laps against the hull.

The sun is low, an orange globe, slowly sinking towards the far horizon; the one we crossed earlier in the day, when the sun was at its zenith.

It was hot then. Oppressively hot.

The raw heat sucked the moisture from our skin, from our mouths, from our lungs, like a vampire drains the blood from its victims. Leaving nothing but shrivelled carcasses of dried parchment in its wake.

Now, I sit on the quarter deck. A flame from the spout of a small Aladdin style genie lamp flickers in the faint breeze; its feeble light still reflects and refracts from the etched glasses and the silver of the pot, from which Cassiopeia is serving sweet Moroccan mint tea.

Casablanca is lost to us, far behind in the darkness, beyond that far horizon. Ahead, barely visible in the dwindling light, is another. One we shall sail over in the morrow, as we make headway for the island of Seriphos.

Upon whose shores Andromeda awaits for our arrival.

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Phineas, has let his mouth become quarrelsome with his head once more. The promise of marriage fades, tears run down Andromeda’s cheeks.

Cassiopeia demanded we make this passage, before Poseidon becomes enraged with Andromeda’s words and lets loose the wrath of his jealousy upon the innocence of the young girl.

Which is what brings us here, to the centre of the sea as the night falls.

The sun, I am sure will hiss and splutter as it dips itself into the dark waters of the Mediterranean. Perhaps not, but that is how it seems from my vantage point on this deck.

The mint tea is refreshing, revitalising. It replenishes that which the sun has drained from my body and Sucked from my skin and eyes.

I lean back, the night air is still and warm. It hangs almost immobile, just brushed by the lightest of night breezes. The silence it brings forms an accompanying peace.

All is well with my world, for this moment.

Cassiopeia settles into the seat next to me, she rests her head against my shoulder.

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“Will we make landfall tomorrow, Cepheus?” she asks.

“If the winds be to our favour” I reply.

“Then I shall dry Andromedas tears” she says, kissing my neck gently.

.

While you are here why not check out my website, there you can see my books, blogs & works in progress. Feel free to contact me, ask questions and comment. http://paulznewpostbox.wixsite.com/paul-white

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Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

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The following story was inspired by this image. 


He watched as she trotted backwards and forwards and all around the house. Naked, except for her shoes and the small gold pendent dangling between her breasts.

Those stupid four-inch stiletto heels, tapping an irritating Morse code each time she passed him by and, this was even more annoying, leaving dimples in the linoleum and the parquet flooring.

She knew he disliked her flitting about wearing nothing but those ridiculously expensive Christian Louboutin. Which is why she was wearing them now.

It was her way of saying, ‘Fuck you’.

Her way of saying, ‘I’ll do what I want, when I want’.

He gritted his teeth. It was not worth attempting to speak with her, especially when she was in this mood.

She stood a few feet in front of him, eyes fixed on his, challenging him.

He stared back, trying not to show any emotion on his face. ‘Let her think what she will’, he thought.

A flick of her head sent the mane of golden blond hair from her face, over her shoulder. She tipped the small bottle of perfume, letting a droplet onto her finger tip. Slowly, seductively she dotted the scent behind her ears. Another finger full ran from under her chin, down her throat and between her breast.

She never took her eyes from his. The next trail of perfume was teasingly spread along the crease where her legs joined her torso, her fingers dabbing the scent in a line alongside her smooth, freshly waxed virginal mound.

Two more dots. One behind each kneecap, completed her task. She walked closer, smiling. Not a happy smile, not a loving smile, just a smarmy grin.

“He likes this one” she said, sniffing her wrist, breathing in the aroma of the perfume. “He says it compliments my own smell, especially when I get… hot”. Again, the sickly smile spread across her face. “Oh, I forgot to say, he is coming here this time. You’ll get a chance to see him after all”.

With that, she turned and sauntered out of the room. Not looking back Not even an over the shoulder glance.

He was sickened by the way she treated him. Yet what could he do? This was her revenge, her punishing him for all his misdemeanours and lies and dalliances of the past.

Some might say he was lucky she did not kill him when it all came to light. But he knew this was a fate worse than death. Something few believe possible.

He clung to one hope; this situation could not go on for much longer. He was sure she would become bored by the whole thing pretty soon. Nothing and no one held her attentions for long, not even him and that was then, let alone how they were now.

This had lasted much longer than it should have. To continue would be, at the least, inhumane. Although her knew that fact would not bother her. Boredom was his only hope, the only true conclusion he could wish for.

Two hours of hearing glasses tinkle with ice, soft music and constant chatter, followed by giggles and laughter. He wished he could move away, out of earshot. Even with his eyes closed he could not sleep.

It was the noise, the music, their voices. Mostly it was the expectation. The images of imagination playing in his mind which prevented sleep.

Not much would be left to his imagination now the door to the lounge was opened. Their voices becoming louder.

“No, no.” He heard her say. “In here”.

The door, which was ajar, swung open and they came staggering in. Glasses of red wine in their hands.

They should not be in here, in his study, his private sanctuary, especially drunk and with red wine. He knew there would be spillages. The bitch.

She plonked herself down on the large leather foot stool. He noticed her steal a surreptitious look at him, a flashing, covert glance.

“I want you, now” She said to the young man kneeling beside her.

“Here?” He asked.

“Right here, right now”.

“I need to… um …go…first” He said leaving the room.

She stood and walked over to him, bending slightly so her head was level with his.

“You can watch this. You had better watch this. If I see your eyes closed, even once, I’ll cut your fucking eyelids off”.

The young man came back into the room. “who are you talking too?”

“No one, silly. I was singing” she said. “Now, this is for you” She deftly unzipped the back of her frock and let it slither to the ground.

Underneath she was totally naked, except for her four-inch heeled Christian Louboutin, which she crossed over the young man’s back, pulling him closer and the small gold pendent nestled between her breasts.

He watched her, watching him. Besides closing his eyes and risking his eyelids, he had no choice. After all, his head was not joined to anything. It was not as if he could move it.

She gasped. Finger nails digging into her partners back, white teeth biting down into the flesh of the young man’s shoulder. Yet, only for one small insignificant moment, as her body jerked with pleasure, did she glance away, did her own eyes close for a moment.

Laying these few feet in front of him, her eyes fixed on his, she was challenging him.

It was her way of saying ‘Fuck you’.

Her way of saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”.

 

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© Paul White 2017

 

 

Fixing the Thingamabob

 

This is the short story I recently read aloud to a public gathering. It was not a random act on my part, but part of Tale Spinners’, a literary initiative of Neil King and Richard Avery, AKA Other Lives Productions.

Loosely based on the literary, non-profit organisation, ‘The Moth which was founded in 1997 by poet and novelist George Dawes Green.

Neil and Richard have created a British group, Tale Spinners, and intend to grow the group on a similar basis.

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I had a job to do which needed more than a screwdriver and a pair of pliers.

So, I wandered down the garden to my shed, in order to find the whatchamacallit, which I knew was in the wooden box, under the shelf between the screw box and the other thing.

My wife has been nagging me for eons regarding fixing the thingamabob, which started to rattle and shake several months ago.

As it happened today was sunny, bright and warm. Just the type of day I like to attend to those pesky little jobs which stack up over time.

Also, I was in the mood for tinkering, which was a big plus!

Once I had the whatchamacallit in my hand, I wandered back to the house, placed the thingamabob on the kitchen table and started to dismantle it.

Personally, I would have ditched this old machine years ago and replaced it with a new, up-to-date, all singing, all dancing, micro chipped, high tech thingamabob. But, because this old rusting must have some sort of sentimental attachment, my wife was certain I could fix it and all would be well for another thirty years.

I was not so sure.

Especially now I had umpteen bits and bobs scattered on sheets of newspaper spread over the table top.

I was unsure if they all belonged to the thingamabob, or if some pieces had tumbled from the small jars of screws, washers and odd bits I had kept for repairing such items.

Besides the springs, there were a few plastic doodahs of indiscriminate origin, a strange angular thingummy with various sized holes and a host of………bits…..loose sort-of-screw(ish) pieces along with some flange brackets.

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Still, I was quietly confident I would not have to fork out a fistful of klebies to purchase a new whatchamacallit, because despite the number of random odd and sods before me, I had all the key parts, in separate saucers, spread over the newspaper covering the kitchen table.

The rest I could figure out during re-assembly.

Having got thus far, I decided a fresh brew was in order and proceeded to stand from the kitchen stool. That was when my knee came in painful contact with the underside of the table top, sending all the random and carefully separated odds and ends flying into the air, most of which came crashing down onto the stone tiled floor.

As I have said, being an organised sort of bloke the several saucers I was using, to keep the whatsits from rolling all over the place, thus avoiding the chance of mixing them up with other doodahs or losing them altogether, belonged to my wife’s favourite crockery set.

Now, not only were all these jumbled-up with the rest of the bits and bobs, but my wife’s best saucers were now splintered shards on the kitchen floor, mixed among the plastic and metal thingamajigs.

Hummphhhh. I was in a pickle!

Luckily, I am not the sort of fellow who panics over such unfortunate accidents. That may be because I am a clumsy fool, at least according to my wife and so I am used to such calamities.

No doubt, had my wife been at home when this happened there would have been a bit of a kafuffle, but as I was alone and all was quiet and peaceful. I made a pot of tea and laced it with a tot, or two, of a fine whiskey.

Sitting back, I surveyed the scene, which was one of utter chaos, while I decided on the best plan of action.

*** 

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Four hours later, my wife arrived home.

I was in the garden, relaxing in a deck chair, admiring the garden plants and soaking the up the late afternoon sunshine.

On entering the kitchen my wife was greeted to the sight of a brand new, up-to-date, all singing, all dancing, micro chipped, high tech thingamabob.

What on earth is this” she shouted down the length of the garden towards me. I surreptitiously grinned to myself before walking into the kitchen.

That old one was knackered” I lied. “I called a few places for parts, but they would have cost more than a new one and, there was no guarantee it would even work, once I had attempted the repair; so, I took it to the dump and got you a brand spanking new one“.

My wife was overjoyed.

I was relieved.

I was off the hook, at least with regards to the thingamabob. My only concern now were those dammed saucers I had smashed.

***

You see, after I drank my whiskey infused tea, I cleaned the kitchen, tipping the hoojamaflips and whatsits that lay on the floor, along with the shards of porcelain from my wife’s saucers, into the waste bin, which I dutifully emptied into the large dustbin in the yard, burying the evidence of calamity under a heap of other garbage.

Once the kitchen was tidied, I drove into town in my old jalopy, where I purchased a new whatchamacallit and a set of saucers, identical to those which I had inadvertently smashed.

On my return home, I placed the said crockery into the dishwasher, along with the matching cups, sugar bowl and milk jug.

When my wife asked me to make a pot of tea, I made a huge drama of getting the newly washed cups and saucers from the dishwasher. This earned me extra brownie points as my wife commented on how unusual, but nice, it was of me to help with the household chores.

I was elated. I had hidden my clumsiness and avoided her wrath!cdbad99d6fc92d188b79e6ea0c24f93b

However, as we sat drinking our tea, my wife suggested we ‘go shopping this coming weekend, for a new set of cups and saucers, because these cups had lost their glaze, besides my wife wanted some which looked ‘a little more modern’.

 

Reluctantly, I have promised to mend the whatjumacallit in our utility room tomorrow.

I wonder what excitement lay in store when I start that job?

 

© Paul White 2015

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