Accidently does it!
The crash resounded through the house. Without any idea of what had happened Jack and Susie stood for a few seconds taking in what they had heard. Susie put down the mixing bowl she had been about to put in the dishwasher, wiped her hands on her apron and opened the kitchen door. Stepping out into the hall she surveyed the scene. Jack looked apprehensively over her shoulder.
Dust was rising from the debris. The lights were still on and flickering. Jack reached round Susie to flick the switch off. “Better safe than sorry,” he said as if apologising for doing something suspicious. They both started coughing.
“Be careful, Jack.” Said Susie. “You could be breathing in glass particles, you know. This is terrible but we did say to Gary and Grace that the whole thing was too tall. It’s a wonder they got it inside. They were convinced they were doing us a favour. I have no idea why they went in for that silly competition when they had already booked to go to Austria. It wasn’t exactly generous to give it to us when they couldn’t use it anyway and I’m sure it could have gone to a good cause. We should have given it to that women’s refuge. They’ve got the room. Now look at it. Oh, I’ve just had a thought! Where are Jemima and Jeremy? Gary and Grace wouldn’t forgive us if anything has happened to them.”
A pitiful sound came from under the shattered objects. Jack immediately bent to lift up the large broken pot. A tabby cat covered in green needles and tinsel crawled out from the debris before limping as fast as it could to the kitchen and out through the cat flap. Susie looked worried. “Where’s Jeremy?”
The couple carefully lifted up the fallen Christmas tree, which promptly shed many of its needles all over the hall floor. There was no sign of any other cat.
They both looked very concerned. Then the sound of something squeezing through the cat flap made them turn. There stood a large ginger tom that promptly started to play with a silver bauble that had survived the fall. Susie rushed towards it. “We should never have used those glass baubles with the cats around.” She took the bauble from the cat, which looked bemused at losing its new toy. “Thank goodness he’s all right but we must check Jemima, she looked hurt.”
Jack stood in the hall scratching his head in contemplation. “Let’s clear up the decorations and then decide what to do with the tree.” Susie had not heard him as she was already in the garden cat- hunting. Jack went to find the boxes for the decorations.
By the time Susie came back in, cat in arms, whispering soothing sounds in its ear, Jack had put everything away and the tree lay bare and forlorn on the hall floor. “It’s not in too bad a state. I presume Jemima had tried climbing it but her weight pulled it over. I wonder if the refuge could still use it if they could collect it. I’ll give them a call.”
Susie had put the cat on the sofa in the lounge and called out, “Where’s the cat box Gary left us? I must take Jemima to the vet. I think her leg is really hurt.”
Jack finished his conversation on the phone before saying that he would get it from the garage. The woman from the refuge would be coming round in an hour.
Along with the cat box, Jack came back with an artificial tree about three foot high and already decorated. “This’ll be much better for us – no fuss or bother but still pretty and we can have it in its usual place in the lounge. No unattatched decorations to fall off. He helped Susie get the cat in the box before making two moves with the small tree, which sprang up, as if to life for its yearly outing. Jeremy turned tail and squeezed as quickly as he could out through the cat flap. Susie chuckled, “It wasn’t bought for a cat his size.”
Two hours later, curled up on the sofa were two humans and two cats. The flame of the gas fire flickered as it mimicked a coal fire. Susie looked up at Jack and said, “Thanks for clearing up everything. All’s well that ends well. Jemima only twisted her leg, we’ve got our own tree in the lounge again, and the refuge seemed really pleased. Artificial can be better. How would you like Christmas abroad next year? I’ll ask Gary and Grace to put the cats in a cattery if they want to go away and if they win another tree we can suggest they offer it to someone who really wants it.”
Jack gave her a gentle squeeze and answered, “I think that’s a splendid idea. I suppose we could suggest going with G and G – not sure they’d be too keen, though.” He stroked Jemima. “Sorry you got hurt old thing but you did us a favour. Sometimes accidents can be quite satisfactory.”
Rosemary Wells © 2016
Don’t eat cream or buttered toast and bread, Granny.
They’re bad for you in very many ways.
I know that Grandpa lived to be a hundred years or so –
But you wouldn’t want to spoil your final days.
Don’t you eat white bread or peel the spuds, Granny.
You wouldn’t want your bowels to seize up now!
You say you’ve kept things moving fine for ninety years or more?
With what you eat, I can’t think why or how.
Don’t eat meat or you might find you’re ill, Granny.
You can’t be sure what’s in it nowadays.
Become a vegetarian and live a longer life –
It’s really not too late to change your ways.
Don’t you take two sugars in your tea, Granny.
We all have too much sugar every day.
You’ll end up with a lot of nasty problems to resolve,
(Though you don’t have long to last out, anyway.)
Don’t put any salt in your stew, Granny.
You’re having far more of it than you should.
You wouldn’t want to suffer hypertension at your age.
It won’t do your old body any good.
Don’t you sit around and knit and read, Granny.
You should be exercising every limb.
So, Grandpa didn’t exercise at all when he was here,
But you needn’t think you’ve got to be like him!
Don’t you drink that nightcap any more, Granny.
You wouldn’t want your liver to corrode!
That tipple may have helped you get to sleep for eighty years,
But you never know when you might overload.
Don’t you shout at me and shake your fist, Granny!
I’m sorry that you think I am a pest.
All right, I’ll go and get your plate of greasy fish and chips
But I’m only saying what I think is best!
Rosemary Wells © 1993
The Find (joint winner in August)
He looked out at the rain that could be heard even above the music which was playing at full volume from the neighbouring house. It was good that with such a racket, he would be able to work unhindered as nobody would be likely to hear anything from that far away.
He sent a text to Roy, confirming he was in the right room but that it might take some time because the steel-reinforced cupboard door was stronger than they had anticipated. Hopefully, their information was correct and it wouldn’t be a waste of time.
Luckily, Roy had convinced him to bring some explosive, which he now prepared carefully, packing the lock with the putty-like substance and fixing the detonator. Then he turned the sturdy oak table on the other side of the room on its side and took refuge behind it as a precaution. When the rock music from next door reached a particularly loud point, he detonated the explosive, the lock blew and the cupboard door flew open.
When the dust settled, the torch on his phone showed a horrific scene. Inside were several skeletons, some still with flesh and all mummified because of the sealed atmosphere. They were clothed in the female fashion of the seventies, long, layered gypsy-style dresses and flowery blouses. Clearly, all were female. The smell was musty rather than disgusting, all decomposition having ended, presumably, when the air ran out.
He sent another text to Roy. Found it. 4 bodies. Arrest Harvey and Tate at party.
They had got a warrant, the housekeeper had let them in fairly willingly and it wasn’t going to be the embarrassment they had feared when having to explain the damage in the event of its being a mistake.
Out of the window, Inspector Francis could see the cars go by, no sound but the blue lights turning, which would hardly be noticed with the flashing strobes from the party.
Chief Inspector Roy Dark would be in the first car. It would be his job to inform the girls’s parents, at least, those still alive, destroying hope but bringing closure. Francis looked again at the remains of four daughters from four different families, he thought that, sometimes, hope seemed a lot more preferable.
© R. J. Wells 2016
New Year Surprises by Rosemary (Winner of the trophy January 2016)
“Can I stay up to watch the fireworks, Mum, pl…..eeese?”
Clare smiled and seemed to cheer up. She sat up straight on the sofa before answering, “Oh, I don’t think Mr Merryman would mind another one at the party. I wouldn’t mind going myself and as there’s no school, I don’t see why not. We were invited but I said you were too young to stay and see the new year in. It’s very difficult to get babysitters at New year, so I decided not to bother. I’ll tell him I’ve changed my mind.”
Harry looked crestfallen,”No, Mum. I don’t mean staying up to see next door’s fireworks. I always watch them anyway from my room. And why did you say I was too young – I’m ten in two weeks? When I stayed with Dad, he let me stay up to watch the London fireworks on TV. They’re usually fantastic.”
Harry looked so sweet and innocent that she had always found it hard to deny him what he asked for but she had really believed him too young and thought he would be bored. The fireworks would be all right for a suburban home but not comparable with London’s and the party before was not a party for children. She could ask Jenny if they could have the TV on at midnight for Harry. Before her divorce she and Dave had taken it in turns to go round on New Year’s eve, both daring to be away from home for five minutes to be together at midnight, before one rushed home again. She had never told Harry that she had had a suspicion that he hadn’t been asleep at midnight.
Pete Merryman was one of those men who thought he should live up to his name, believing himself to be a great teller of jokes but always forgetting the punch line. After an embarrassing couple of moments, his wife, Jenny would chip in with the missing line but the moment had passed and it wasn’t funny. Though, not the best of fun, the evening of unfinished jokes had got Clare out of the house to meet people. Every year the invitations went out – they wouldn’t hear of anyone else holding the party, as they had the biggest garden in the street and it was more suitable for fireworks.
The first New Year after the divorce Clare had kept Harry at Christmas, so Dave had him at New Year. She had gone next door on her own, which was rather embarrassing, as nobody would mention the elephant in the room directly to her but she was certain they whispered it’s name in the kitchen.
This effect passed and the previous year she had enjoyed herself talking to the new resident in the road, Ben Toogood. They had avoided the room with the bad jokes. He had been really nice, obviously a keen gardener with a lot of knowledge of plants and enjoyed growing them. Since then she had only seen him in passing and her hopes of an invitation to coffee were not realised. He, too, was divorced. She was afraid he might have a girlfriend already. Knowing that Pete and Jenny had invited him again, her hopes were raised once more.
It was pouring with rain, so she phoned Pete and Jenny to say that she and Harry would be going after all.
At 10pm, mother and son went next door. There were half a dozen neighbours, the Prices, Miss Fancy, the Joneses, the Fishers and Mr Hanson, a widower. Jenny took Harry into the garage where two other children were playing with Pete’s model railway set, well supervised by Pete. Harry knew Hannah and Fred Price from school and they got on reasonably well. Jenny left them to be amused by Pete and his trains.
Clare was disappointed that Ben was not there. Jenny had said he was supposed to come but hadn’t turned up yet. There was still time. Clare conversed with the Prices about children and the holidays they had all had. They were very kind about her trip to a holiday camp near Torquay, which Clare knew couldn’t possibly have compared with their South African safari but they didn’t rub it in.
11.45 and still no Ben. How disappointing. The food had been picked at and the champagne brought out of the fridge. Pete and the children emerged from the garage, Pete with an armful of boxed fireworks, which he proceeded to prepare for lift off in the garden, it having been too wet to prepare them earlier. At midnight everything was just about ready. The TV went on so the children could watch the fireworks from London if they wanted to but in the end it played to nobody, as they decided they wanted the real thing nearby after all. They could hear the gongs of Big Ben in the garden, anyway and, as they did so, everyone cheered, raised their glasses and Pete let off the first rocket. It wasn’t quite London but the children were impressed to be so close, usually watching from a distance at big displays. Afterwards the rain started and they all rushed inside to watch the London fireworks which Jenny had recorded.
The doorbell rang and, Rob, a friend of Jenny and Pete was at the door with the traditional lump of coal, that nobody understood but accepted anyway. Police cars were parked all along the road, which was odd.
“Do you know what’s going on down your road?”asked Rob. “There’s a lot of police activity. As we parked I saw a man being bundled into the back of a police car. Now they’re going in the house with all sorts of gear, probably forensic stuff.”
“No idea,” said Jenny. “Hey, that’s Ben’s house!”
Everyone came to the door and very soon gathered on the front lawn, the rain having stopped.. A policeman came across to them and Pete asked, “Can you tell us what’s going on, constable?”
“I am not at liberty to say at present except that a man is helping us with our inquiries,” replied the young man.
“Is is murder?” asked Harry, eagerly.
“I can say that it isn’t murder, young sir. If we charge the man, it will probably be in the papers tomorrow. Sorry if you’ve been disturbed. Happy New Year to you all.” He went back across the road.
The assembled friends were dumbfounded. Eventually, the Prices said they had to get the children home to bed and made their farewells. Clare did the same and Pete and Jenny went back inside in silence with mixed feelings.
In bed, as he put out the light, Pete said, “Whatever it is, I hope it won’t bring the house price down. Unlike me he doesn’t seem to have lived up to his name. Do you think we should have told them that we’re thinking of moving and the party won’t happen next year? They’ll be very disappointed.”
There was no answer from his already snoring wife.
Having settled Harry as best she could in his excitement about living near a criminal mastermind, Clare pondered the situation and considered that she seemed to have had a lucky escape but how maddening that the whole year of hope had been wasted. She turned the light out and lay down but sleep was a long time coming.
The next day, the local paper sold a few more copies than usual. There was a short report of a police raid on New Year’s Eve at a house where cannabis plants had been seized and a man had been arrested and charged.
Jenny said she always knew there was something shifty about Ben. Pete said he now understood why Ben would never lend his gardening tools. Clare noted that his plant knowledge was probably more limited than she had believed. Everyone else, especially the children, told the story with relish to everyone they met. Life might not be as interesting again.
© R J Wells 2016
The Task was to write a piece of nonsense. This sounds easy but was quite a challenge to write something that was nonsense but would keep the reader’s attention! This was Rosemary’s effort.
Salad for Lunch by Rosemary Wells
The cafe was its usual dull self. The orange and pink floor tiles shone as the sunlight through the stained glass door scattered different colours around the room like a prism.
A blue parrot perched with a red napkin in its beak by the till that stood on a large cheese. The bell announced the arrival of customers. A naked couple walked in through the glass door and took seats at a table by the window. The parrot flew off and came back with a broom and bucket of water to clean up the glass and blood.
When it had finished, it flew over to the table, dropped a napkin in the lap of the woman, flew back to the till, picked up another napkin from a pile on the cheese before flying back to drop it on the lap of the man.
” Can’t be too careful with hot food. We do our best to look after our customers,” squawked the parrot. ” Aren’t you ready to order? Our special today isn’t roasted limestone sandwiches.”
“Delicious,” said the woman and I won’t have the rubber band salad and a cup of charcoal tea, as well.”
“Good choice, squawked the parrot, and for you, sir? ”
“The worm and cockroach paninis sound not at all tasty. Do you have sour grape wine?”
“I’m sorry sir but we don’t have a licence to serve anything red or green.” ” Oh, well, I’d better not have the sawdust tea, then.”
“Would you like our express service for an extra ten sprats each?” “What’s the difference? ”
” Well, the normal service will arrive a week next Thursday but if you wish to eat sooner, the express service will serve you yesterday evening.”
“I wouldn’t like the express service. I was very hungry yesterday evening and could have well done done without it.” Said the woman quickly, before her man could reply.
“A good idea, madam, our chef will be pleased to hear that, as he was not very busy yesterday and won’t have more time to give to your food. I will be out with the drinks in a minute or would you prefer to wait until yesterday for those, too.”
“No, we won’t have them now, thank you.” said the man.
The waiter inked its beak from the squid in a tank on the table and scratched a note on the back of a tortoise before flying off to the kitchen where it landed on a rolling pin.
A large Cumberland pig was tucking into the remains of the breakfasts. It was not at all bothered about eating the bacon, as it had known its origins and knew what a tender soul the pig had been. She had produced several litters and all had been very tasty. It was determined to find another mate in the near future.
“An order for yesterday, Chef,” Squawked the parrot as it struggled to keep its balance.
It was a while before the tortoise arrived.
Chef read its back and smiled as only pigs can’t.
Lumbering up to the stove it put the worm-tails and cockroaches in a baking tray and placed them in the cold oven. The worm heads looked out from their glass tank sadly, saying farewell to their lower ends but looking forward to the day when they would have new tails again, at least for a while.
The proprietor of the cafe believed in self-sufficiency and the worms and cockroach tanks stood side by side. The cockroaches didn’t have such a good deal but were much loved while they waited to be eaten.
Chef took some worm-tails and cockroaches from a boiling cauldron which stood over a dragon’s mouth and placed them on three plates, then ladled some gravy into a duck-shaped gravy-boat. Turning to the parrot it asked, “Did you tell them that yesterday was bread-less Tuesday?”
The parrot continued its tricky footwork on the rolling pin but looked happy as it replied, “I didn’t forget but they won’t mind. Is that gravy instead?”
“Of course it isn’t, that’s why there are three plates!” exclaimed the pig. “We are out of rubber bands. String won’t have to do.”
Yesterday came quickly. The parrot flew out carrying a tray of food in its beak.
“Ah, just what we didn’t order! ” exclaimed the customers with glee.
“I won’t be back soon with your drinks, ” declared the bird, hopping down to the floor.
Before they had eaten, they announced they had finished. The woman took a couple of fish from her bag as the waiter came up from under the table where it had been eating the scraps that didn’t fall. It flew up to perch on the gravy boat.
“Not ready to pay, yet?” It asked.
“No, of course we are,” said the woman. “Have you change for a herring?”
“I’ll see what I can’t do,” said the parrot, turning bright pink.
It went to a tank in the corner and came back with two wriggling fish.
“Your change, Madam.”
“Thank you. Keep a sprat for yourself and don’t give our compliments to the chef. If it had been any worse we would have had to eat it.”
“How kind,” said the bird and changed to purple.
She turned to her taciturn slave. “Come along Napoleon, we don’t have some shopping to do. The sales are on and I want to miss out on the latest fashions. They are selling thin air in Frescos.”
“We mustn’t do this again some time, Josephine,” he said, following her obediently through the window.
The parrot flew off for a broom and bucket of water to clean up the blood. It would be very useful for gravy.
***** ***** ***** ***** *****
(The story below was the suggested group homework for May 2015 and winner of the Triceratops Trophy! )
Magic by R J Wells
She’d tried to make things happen by a wiggle of her nose, as in the old TV comedy Bewitched she’d been watching lately on TV but nothing ever did. Harry Potter’s spells proved useless or she needed some lessons and Uncle Jim’s conjuring tricks were just that, tricks, not real magic.
Molly, eight years old, going on eighteen, pondered the question of the reality of magic. She thought of all the things she could do if she could just wiggle her nose or blink.
Thinking about how a person from the middle ages would react at the sound of a radio or sight of a television or computer, Molly saw how those would seem like magic to them. Summoning help in an emergency in seconds from someone miles away would be witchcraft and mean certain death after a biased trial. Jesus Christ was lucky to get away with his miracles. Oh, no, she thought afterwards, he didn’t. But nobody called him a witch, though it must have seemed like witchcraft.
What is magic, anyway? Is it doing things that are normal for special people but not for most of the population? Molly spent a lot of time thinking, especially about magic. Computers were wonderful and she could immerse herself in life on screen but they weren’t the same. Real magic was what she wanted but, as in Harry Potter, it didn’t always lead to good things.
There was a knock on the door. Her Mum called out that dinner was being served. Thoughts could wait a little while. Her mother looked strained and Molly knew why. She worked very hard and Molly was grateful, but perhaps not grateful enough. It wasn’t her parent’s fault that she had run in the road in front of Ian Bennett’s motorbike. They had warned her all about the busy road. Somehow they blamed themselves but it wasn’t their fault. If only she could tell them.
This wasn’t what her mother had expected when she first held her baby. Now, loving hands gently connected the bag of liquified food to the tube in her stomach, then loving lips gave her a kiss on the forehead. Her father walked in. He took her mother’s hands in his and told her not to cry, then held her to him as she sobbed her heart out.
“Do you think she hears us,” asked Mum.
Yes, I do! screamed Molly inside her head.
Her father’s voice caught in his throat as he replied, ” I’m sure she
knows we’re here. I just feel it. They might let us have one of the new machines that respond to blinking. At least we’ll know then if she hears us.”
Molly was cheered by this and couldn’t wait to try the machine, if they (she presumed they referred to the hospital people) let her have it but it wasn’t magic and magic would mean she could make herself well again. She stared hard at her father’s head and tried to blink. She willed him to see how hard she was working.
“There,” said Dad, “I’m sure she’s trying to blink!”
Her mother dried her eyes and tried to focus. “Don’t get my hopes up, David. She isn’t coming back. We must accept it.”
She looked as hard as she could at her Dad. He came closer and whispered, “Come on, Molly, I know you’re in there. She tried a sigh of relief but the ventilator didn’t allow for sighs. He, at least, believed in her. All it needed was a bit of magic. Perhaps she could invent a spell.
She wouldn’t give up. Even if it were by human intervention, it would still be a magic moment when she said her first word or even voluntarily moved a finger.
Dad was still looking at her intently. He encouraged Mum, too and told her to look hard. At last, Molly managed a blink. Dad asked her to blink again. It seemed hours but was probably seconds before she managed it.
“That’s my girl; I said you’d be back.” He said, excitedly.
Molly felt a tear rolling down her face for the first time since she had woken in the bed to find herself trapped alone in an alien world, before she had created her own inside her head.
Now she really felt that she was going home – slowly – but she would get there and that really would be magic!