My Latest in the Singhing Detective Series THE GODFATHERS OF LONDON.
It is already in the top 10 must read list recommended by NetGalley. How good is that?
I just found out that I am one of the books of the week at Tesco Romford for the second week. Please look under leaflets and posters for the picture. How fab is that!!
I had a book signing in Tesco. Romford Essex. Clover at Tesco. Really looked after me. A photographer from the Romford Recorder was there to take pictures
AND.... I had an interview in Barking and Dagenham Post. So did Uppy who is my inspiration for Jazz. How good is that.
BBC Radio Essex interview today with Steve Scruton. I attach link for interview. Hope I did ok
The English Book Shop made "The Singhing Detective" crime book of the month. I am truly proud of that.
Well done Kevin Mitchell the Dagenham Destroyer. He won his fight last night. My claim to fame is that my book was on the bum of a boxer. My book logo as seen to your left is on his shorts. How fab is that? Please See Copy of press release under my leaflets posters.
I have given out advanced copies and it has gone down fantastically well. People are reading it and talking about it.
Metropolitan Life (Police magazine) are writing an article in October edition. Page 4. Please take a look
FIRST IN A SERIES OF BOOKS ENTITLED:
THE SINGHING DETECTIVE -
I am proud to show you my latest book. A bit about the novel is as follows:
Jaswinder Singh, known as the Jazz Singher, and Jazz to his friends and enemies is hoisted out of his now comfort zone in Manchester to be sent back to his old grounds in the East End of London. It started with the murder of a little old lady and spiralled out of control into multi- murders, lies, duplicity and treachery culminating in the murder of a rookie Detective Constable on Jazz’s team and his own near death . Jaswinder Singh was the catalyst. Was he a Saviour or a demon? Time would tell.
He had left under a cloud that had caused the start of a nervous breakdown, to be seconded to Manchester Police. Now that he was fitter, leaner and working smarter, the Met Police wanted him back. He was a Sikh but brought up in East London he knew it like the back of his hand. He was one of the lads who enjoyed fish and chips on a Saturday night, a few beers and watching cricket. Too many currys made him sick. What the Met Police do not realise is that Jazz returns with one of his demons still in place; drink.
The Viets gang had come to town and were working quietly setting up cannabis factories in the East End . They had always been careful not to upset the Holy Trinity ; the Snakeheads, Triad and Bam Bam. These three gangs controlled most of East London from Romford to Bow. They had been watching the Viets but no one had touched them yet. The death of Alice, a sweet little old lady who knew nothing about such things caused the start of the biggest war in the East End since the Krays. Jazz knew Alice and she had been part of his childhood in Newbury Park. Her murder was personal and he went on a rampage to find her murderers.
This is the first book in a series about Jaswinder Singh, know as The Jazz Singher.
See below where I have put the first chapter...
SOME OF MY ARTICLES BELOW PUBLISHED ON CRIME AND LIFE EXPERIENCES - please take a look. These are the ones published on the internet, there are many that were paper published. Some of my short stories I have read on Felixstowe Radio can be found on their website under my name M C Dutton.
I won the short story competion on Artillery of Words called "Winter Folly" and it is published in their book "Mulled Words: A Winter Anthology" in the shops for Christmas 2010. Their website is: http://theartilleryofwords.weebly.com/
HELLO, Thank you very much for looking at my website. Writing is an adventure and I have loved every minute of the time I have spent writing. The adventure goes on ..
SOME INTERNET ARTICLES PUBLISHED
The Artillery of Words have published another story of mine called "Fairy Tales". They left it until December because they said it was an appropriate and good story for Christmas. I wonder if you will like it. Take a look, its under: December 3rd section down.
The Artillery of Words have published another story of mine "Mother Knows Best" in their October edition. I attached the internet version. It will also go into the hard copy magazine at the end of the Month. I have also entered their competition called "Winter". I have, I hope, written a different type of story. We will see how it goes. Well it went very well. I won the short story competition and I feel pretty good about that.
The Artillery of words have published my article "There are no Calories in Writing" on their first page and on the third page they have printed one of my short stories "Its good to talk". They are printing a magazine and the articles will go in the hard copy too.This is September copy now under October web address:
Viv magazine have published my article called Defining Moments on their website and it may also go into their magazine later -
Here is a direct link your VIV Moment in the Sept/Oct issue for you to share! To read the entire VIV Moment, you'll see a bar to use to scroll up or down to the right of the page. This was a very private and personal article to write.
Selling Books put my interview on their website. They asked questions about my books and I enjoyed talking with them.
San Franscisco Senital and Newsblaze have published my article
The Good The Bad and The Criminal -
MY LATEST BOOK IS AVAILABLE IN THE SHOPS, ON AMAZON, WITH TROUBADOR (link below), AND ALL LEADING STOCKISTS. Also on American Amazon.
I am a new author and have two books self published "The Devil's Tears", and "Silent Night I write thrillers with a twist at the end. If you enjoy reading a book that is a page turner, gritty, funny and full of character, please give me a try. I would love feedback
I would love emails from you. Your feedback is really important and I would be most grateful to receive it. my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
The second book published "Silent Night" was published on 4th January 2010. Waterstones, W.H. Smith, Amazon and others have already put in orders. It seems to be doing ok.
My American Publicity Company Smith Publicity, have been great and my book is mentioned on various websites of radio stations. I have given quite a few interviews. I have to say they were fabulous. American presenters have such good manners and they made what was quite a scary experience warm and friendly and put me at ease. I found Smith Publicity a wonderful rollacoaster ride as they worked hard to showcase me in America. I will certainly use them again.
There is so much to do in producing a new book. It has to be copied, edited, proof read , a cover created and agreed and all the other bits and pieces organised before it can go to press. I really enjoyed designing the cover with Richard Charles. I know the saying is "dont judge a book by its cover " but I think an interesting cover is very important. If I am browsing I tend to pick up books with bright interesting covers. Now does that say something about me I wonder? :)
The third book working title "The Singhing Detective" is now finished. I have my three readers who I will give a working copy to read through for me. They are diverse and avid readers, If they like and enjoy reading The Singhing detective, I will work towards getting this published. I am working through my fourth book called The Godfather. It is still part of the Singhing Detective series. You can tell my titles are original :) but they are relevant.
Love Maureen xx
The Devil's Tears was published in November 2008 and can be found on quite a few book websites including Amazon, Waterstones, W.H. Smith, Tescos, Asda, Foyles. You can also buy copies in Waterstones, W.H. Smith and a selection of other bookshops. Matador Publishing (part of Troubador Publishing) also sell my book .
I have had good feedback on The Devil's Tears. It is a page turner. It is a thriller with supernatural twist. It has murder, torture, rape, duplicity, honour and pure love running through it. Let me know what you think.
A BRIEF BIT ABOUT THE BOOKS
SILENT NIGHT - Will it be over by morning?
-Published on 4th January 2010 What do you think of the cover? Richard Charles and I sat down and thought about the book and came up with the cover. A brilliant graphic designer put the finishing touches to it; I think he did a great job.
I want to thank Richard Charles very much. He is great to brain storm with for ideas on the graphics and always comes up with what I want. He helps me with promotions too. When you are self published you have to do everything yourself, there is no big machine to organise things.
I love Waterstones and they have been really good locally and I hope to do a few books signings for them. Richard Charles will help me with the promotions for that I hope. He is a talented chap.
He was resigned to the fact he would be dead by the morning. Did he deserve to die? What sort of fucking stupid question was that? He would have given himself a slap for being so ridiculous if he could. He might as well ask himself if he was a good father, which was as useful a question as the last one. He needed to think clearly and sensibly. He was scared, he conceded, but that was shitty as well, he was terrified and it was about time he owned up to that. He had to confront the thing that terrorised him, and continually tortured him. It was not death itself, but that promised state of creative, exquisite deep, relentless, unforgiving pain that would make him beg to be killed and released from his agony.
They had promised him, in barbed, urgent whispers, that he would be begging and screaming for death, that he would give them every penny he had, and he would willingly beg, borrow or steal, more money for the right to die quickly. He wished he had what they wanted, it would have been so much easier to give it to them, but that was not possible now. He mentally beat himself with the thought of how did he get to be so stupid; he was an intelligent man, or so he thought, but right now he really did not know what sort of man he was
He had been born into an old farming family, not quite landed gentry but good enough to have a name in the county. They were rich enough for it to be the norm to send the two sons to good private boarding schools and employ 10 full-time staff to help run the farm and maintain the house. Christopher Cross was the youngest of the two brothers. He was by far the better looking, tall and erect, he was often thought to be ex-military in later life, but of course, he was not - discipline was not his best subject. So how did a well spoken, good looking, reasonably intelligent, and by most standards, a rich man, get himself into this deadly mess.
He had plenty of time to think about it, to unravel the tenuous threads that started in his childhood. He knew it was too late now to change anything, but he could try and make some sense out of it. He supposed this was part of his own torture to see how through his life he had been a complete, blinkered, and perhaps, a little selfish, arrogant bastard. How could he, and the thought brought tears of frustration to his eyes, have believed so implicitly that money could change his life, that money earned as easily as possible would make him a better person. Once again, if he could have, he would have kicked himself but he was tightly bound. He had always wanted adventure, but this was too big for him, too dangerous, and he had been caught. “If only “ had become his saying and it was driving him mad.
He was alone in this hellhole by choice. He walked round him rubbing his chin and looking into his face, he was still breathing hard from the beating he had just given Christopher. Swooning from the stinging pain to his face and the deep, hard pain he felt in his stomach and chest, Christopher was being forced to listen. He had never heard such kind words said with threatening menace. He said they wanted him to ring a friend to help him, that they only wanted what was best for him. He knew he could not have done this alone, so why should he have all the aggravation. A slap across the face punctuated each sentence, making each word stingingly clear, and hard enough to keep him alert. He said he just wanted to help him resolve this difficult situation. Christopher listened but was certain that there was no way he would drag her into this, it was his problem, she might have gone along with it but she didn’t make him do it. One of them had roughed him up a bit to get him to talk. It was pretty frightening and it hurt like hell, but he wasn’t going to involve anyone else in this.
They didn’t believe him at first, but Alice had nothing to do with this. It may be a loveless marriage but he would make sure she was not harmed, it was the least he could do; she didn’t deserve that. He realised his children needed their mother, they did not need him. It was too late to feel sorry about that he told himself but it didn’t stop the ache in his chest at this realisation.
He would never involve Neil, who was probably one of the only people who was in a position to help him. Neil was his best friend and was too good a person to be hauled innocently into this mess. Neil’s family was worth at least a billion pounds but Christopher could not, and certainly would not, ask them for money; he could not put them in such a position. Passionately he thought he would rather die than involve his friend in this mess. The humour of this struck him and he smiled to himself at the stupidity of such a thought. Christopher’s only consolation in this terrifying and deadly game was he still had a semblance of honour left.
He thought there were four of them in this room. Only one had seemed to be asking the questions and administering the beating. Christopher wondered now who the hell the others were. Bastard number 1, as Christopher called his tormentor had tightly covered his mouth with masking tape, leaving just enough room for him to breathe through his nose. In a tone more reminiscent of a soothing lover, he had caressed Christopher’s cheek and bent forward and intimately whispered his fervent wish that Christopher would not tell him what he wanted to hear . He explained he loved playing games and looked forward to hearing Christopher scream for mercy. He asked that Christopher would not disappoint him. They were going to give him a few hours to think things over and suggested he think long and hard and come up with the right answer. With that chilling whisper, and a gentle slap to his face, Bastard number 1 and the silent watchers left him to the dark and his own thoughts.
Left in this dark and dank place he could hear distant noises, which he tried to identify. He thought he was underground and near a tube line because he could hear trains rumbling and as the sound got louder he could feel his chair shake gently. He hadn’t heard any trains for some time and supposed it was after 12 midnight when the trains stopped for the night. The odd squeak and rustle of rats didn’t bother him too much. What bothered him more was his mind, which seemed to be vomiting up every horrific and frightening scenario he must have stored there. He felt on a collision course that would turn him into a gibbering wreck. They were going to killed him he did not doubt, but the twisted torture of what they might do to him before they killed him was more than he could cope with. It had been implied they were going to enjoy watching him suffer more pain than he could cope with. He was left with the implied knowledge that they were good at torture and were happy in their work. They were Pacific Rim types, either Malaysian, Burmese, or such like, he had heard how these types had ways of administering torture. He had read books or seen something on the television about Japanese torture. The beating had been administered without emotion and he was assured of more interestingly painful ways to get him to talk. He shuddered in despair at the thought. . They wanted the money and that was all that had spared his life so far.
He needed to gain some control over his thoughts. He wasn’t a wimp, he wouldn’t give them the satisfaction of seeing him out of control. He didn’t have the money anymore. He couldn’t pay them, even if he wanted to, but they didn’t know that yet. He had taken what was not his and someone had taken it from him. Once again, he could feel himself smiling at the irony of such a thing. The smile turned to frustrated anger quickly and shocked him. He needed to keep his mind off such treachery. Now was not the time to consider who was the more treacherous; himself or her. The frustrated anger surfaced again at the thought that he was utterly, totally stupid and it would cost him his life. Tears began to sting his eyes and he decided enough was enough of this pathetic display of feeling sorry for himself.
Christopher booted all self-pity out of his mind and returned to the area that was his to control. His memories would keep him sane and he would use this to keep himself together. He realised that somehow he had lived a life without reflecting on who he was and what he had to offer anyone. He had the time,so he would journey back to his earliest memories to find out how he had got to be him. Ironically, he thought, with nothing better to do, thinking about himself seemed a good way to spend an hour or so. Christopher realised that many of his thoughts had made him smile and he wondered if, at this belated hour, he was developing a sense of humour. To leave this “mortal coil” laughing seemed a good way to go. The tears welled up at this thought and he gave in to a few minutes of snotty, salty discomfort. That was enough of that he told himself and settled down to thinking back on his life.
THE DEVIL'S TEARS - Published November 2008
CHAPTER ONE - CAPTURE
The Guardians peered down intensely at him, they tried unsuccessfully to sit back and wait until he had calmed down but each were agitated and their tutting and groaning and mutterings of oh dear just increased the tension around. They asked each other why he was panicking so much and why he just didn’t sit still and wait. He was like a wasp in a jam jar, all fury and posture but no where to go, he was beaten, they asked why he couldn’t see that for himself. They found it so frustrating; Their hands were tied, and They were not able to help him at that moment. They were desperate to calm him down to make him feel at ease and safe, this was too horrible to endure. They questioned their role, over and over again in bringing him here. That, alone, had been a difficult and scary time in the no mans land of the lost. They were considered experts in this line of work but each time was different and held perils not experienced before. The anguish of seeing him so scared and fighting made them wish they had an easier role.
After what seemed ages, and to their immense relief, they could see he was beginning to calm down. He had used up all his energy and stood slightly swaying and breathing deeply and fast, they were fearful he was on the point of collapse and they could do nothing for him. They knew in the end it was for the best, that he would be all right, but they hated seeing any being in such distress. They were the Guardians and mistakes were rare, but they wondered if he would be up to the challenge. It was a deep worry for them. They would help him as best they could but, and it was a big but, they were very aware that he had to succeed. Again they questioned if he was the man for the job? It required that he felt a deep bond with her, that was not a concern to them, but a calm, clear head, and an understanding of events was definitely going to be a problem. Looking at him fighting every inch of the way, exhausted now, but still defiant, swearing and shouting at thin air, they were very sceptical, and a little depressed at the thought that he may not be up to the challenge.
He was in a strange room and he couldn’t remember how he had got here. Where he was before he couldn’t remember, all he knew with certainty was it wasn’t this place. He was scared and panicking and all his senses were geared up ready to fight, but there was nothing to fight. After rushing round and raising enough adrenaline to fuel an army, he ran out of breath, energy, and hope. He was sick of never feeling in control, never quite knowing what was going to happen next.
Now he had stopped rushing around he realised the saying “blind panic” meant just that, he had seen nothing, knew nothing. He looked around and tried to note where he was, to see if anything was familiar. He had never experienced a place like this. It could only be described as white but that was not right. It was stunningly bright but it did not hurt his eyes. He had to make some sense of all this. Something, someone, wanted him to stay here and he was going to have none of it. He was no sheep to be led to the slaughter. He was confused about everything but he was sure about one thing, this was not right. He wasn’t sure what he wanted or where he wanted to be but it certainly was not here. Whatever might be trying to disorientate him he would fight it and keep control. He was Michael Angelo, Angel to his friends and these bastards would not get their way. He stood still, fists clenched, legs apart he was ready for anything.
He closed his eyes and forced himself to start again, slowly and calmly. This area, he knew it must be a room but the light didn’t give it any shape. There were no corners or angles and his vision wasn’t able to penetrate further than 4 meters in any direction. It was spookily still, his heart pounded loudly jostling for sound space with his breathing. He shouted "Hello" but nothing bounced back at him. Like a thick fog it absorbed the sound. At this point he fought again for control of his senses as he started to descend into that state of panic which made the hairs on his body stand to attention. He badly wanted to scratch his arms. Again he looked around and he knew this place was all wrong. His breathing, which had nearly returned to normal, was descending again into that deep and fast rhythm which would trigger the dizzy feeling.
He moved forward, fists clenched, his legs screamed at the command to run faster, they wobbled and strained at the weight they had to carry. After what seemed an age, he stopped, his legs buckling through exhaustion and his lungs losing the battle to get enough air. He looked around and saw nothing had changed. He knew he had run for longer than he had ever run before, but everything still looked the same. His hands extended out in front of him, but there was nothing to touch and the room, damn it! he knew it was a room, had no edges. Just as he was about to be overwhelmed with more fear than his brain could hold, he saw a chair. It was the first solid thing he had seen and it had the effect of relaxing him. He went to the chair, touched it and felt how thick and firm the wood felt. Memories of people, sounds and smells hung in a hazy mist, tantalisingly and frustratingly just out of his reach. His eyes pricked and he could feel tears very close to spilling.
He thought he heard but realised he felt someone tell him to sit down. He was hot and tired and surprisingly emotional and for a second all he wanted to do was sit and rest. But then, of course, that was how they wanted him to feel, he was getting angry now; and wanted to know why They were playing games with him. He looked around and shouted at the fog “Who the hell do you think you are telling me to do anything you Fuck you and go to hell”.
He could feel the rage boiling inside him and the last thing he was going to do was sit down for those scum suckers. He stood swaying for sometime, then a warm, yellow cloud engulfed his senses and a sense of calm overtook him. The rage dispersed and he decided, on reflection, he was tired, “so what the hell” He told himself he could do with the rest he knew that was his decision not theirs. He needed his strength to fight them and he chose to sit down. The chair felt good, the ache in his back and legs felt easier. He felt mesmerised and comfortable his eyes focussed ahead and all he could hear was his own urgent breathing.
Something was going to happen. The tension in the air and a muffled quiet sound in the distance like an orchestra tuning up for the start of a show made him alert and ready for what was to come. . His frustration was that with knowledge of everything so close he could almost taste it, but with every snatch it sidestepped him just out of reach. Acceptance was part of his new existence. He still had a problem with that. Everything had to be learned the hard way. He looked around, took a deep breath and shouted defiantly "Fuck you!" He knew it wouldn’t make any difference but he it made him feel good. He promised himself that they, who ever they were, would not have everything their own way.
The Guardians watching him sighed. This all felt so unnecessary, they wanted to tell him everything but he would never cope with it at the moment. There was so much to learn, All they could hope for was that in time, he would understand and work with them. The inner film would start playing soon. He must watch, learn and remember. With his resistance on hold, he waited as the film rewound and started over a lifetime ago.
He sat up straight and looked at what was a big screen ahead of him. A buzzing feeling surge through him. The face, big and close up on the screen, was someone he thought he recognised, a mist curled around her face obscuring her features then clearing again. It was tantalising and infuriating. He knew her, and spat at the screen “Goddam it! Let me see her clearly” He agonised and stared hard hoping the mist would clear. They heard him and made the picture clear. He fidgeted, peering closer his forehead knitted as he struggled to remember. She was familiar, he had been close to her, maybe even loved her, but who was she? . He licked his lips and concentrated trying to remember more, trying to see right into her to find the answers he wanted and needed. The beautiful young girl he saw on the film was skipping across a field. He leaned forward to look more closely, craning his head this way and that trying to see into her eyes, to catch a mannerism that would give him her name. “God!” he thought, “she was so beautiful and carefree”.
It came to him in a sudden unexpected moment. “Maria”. She was called Maria. He felt excited and fidgeted on his chair, repeating her name like a mantra. “Maria, you’re called Maria, who are you Maria? Are you the person I am searching for? Maria, Maria”. The more he said her name the more something was stirring in his head. He could not take his eyes off the screen in front of him, the answers were there and he knew he would have to be patient. The tears were waiting in the wings again as he realised this was the first time in all his memory that he did not feel afraid or quite so lonely. The thing he was searching for was here and Maria was part of it.
THE SINGHING DETECTIVE - To be published October 2011.
She watered her plant above the sink with a shaky hand. There were things that had to be done every day and in the right order. She had washed her breakfast things and before she dried up, she would water the miniature Azalea bush she had bought in Sainsburys last month. It had beautiful mauve flowers that looked so cheery and pretty on her kitchen window ledge above the sink. When she had dried up she would have that cup of tea she had promised herself; her throat was gasping for a nice cuppa. She liked to sit and watch Jeremy Kyle with her cup of tea. He was such a good man trying to help those angry and sad people on his programme. Their tales of woe both shocked her and made her laugh to hear such shenanigans going on.
She was 85 years old and it was her birthday today. Tonight she would have a glass of special sherry. Harveys Bristol Cream was her favourite. With a piece of fresh salmon for her tea she would have a meal fit for the queen. There was no one to visit her but she always had her imaginary friend, Cissie. Alice had a school friend called Cissie but they lost touch during the war. She was telling Cissie about her Freddie who had died 30 years ago. He had one of those heart attacks and just died. He had got up to go and tell next doors dog to shut up. It had been barking for hours, no one ever never knew why this dog barked so much. She recalled how Freddie had gone puce with rage, and startled her when he got out of his chair and stood so angrily. He had shouted at the door how he was going to kick that dog up the arse until it choked on its balls.
“My Freddie was not a man to mess with” She told Cissie in a shaky dry voice. “He was not very tall but he was big built with a barrel chest that he puffed out proudly when he walked down the street”. She smiled at the thought and wistfully recalled. “He would take my arm and we walked like a pair of toffs” She paused for a moment remembering him arm in arm with her. The days had seemed sunny and bright all those years ago. With a sigh, she continued her story with her imaginary friend. “So Freddie was very angry now and said he was going to give the neighbours a piece of his mind. Apparently, he knocked at their house and when they came to the door to see who was there, Freddie opened his mouth, went bright red and keeled over. Of course they ran and got me but I could see he was dead when I got there”. Alice paused for a moment, her eyes pricked remembering clearly that horrible day. “They took his false teeth out Cissie, and I don’t know why they did that, he was dead after all. It made him look old without them and that was not how I wanted to remember him”. Alice blinked and let go of the memory. She sighed, it was a long time ago and she had got used to being alone. He had never been much of a talker anyway, but it was nice to have someone to watch telly with. She had Nettie the cat but she didn’t come in much these days. “Still,” she added warmly, “I am pleased to have you here Cissie. We can sit and watch Jeremy Kyle together but you had better cover your ears, they say some very bad things”. Alice smiled and thought oh yes, Cissie and her had some laughs together. It was time to put the kettle on.
The first Indian family moved into the street just after Freddie died. They lived opposite her. Alice was upset that Freddie didn’t meet them. Freddie had been somewhere near India during his time with the merchant navy and he just loved a curry. Alice could never make them. Freddie told Alice about his time in India and how different and wonderful it was. She had a wooden carved elephant he had brought back from one of his trips. He would have loved the Indian family, he always talked fondly about his time in India. She got talking to Amereen and Jaswinder and she watched little Jaswinder grow into a big lad. They could never get Alice to try a curry though. After many attempts to get her to try a spoonful, Alice had said, courteously begging their pardon for being so blunt, that she thought curry smelt like shit and there was no way she could eat that stuff. She always said her Freddie would have loved it though. This was accepted by the Singh family and never mentioned again.
Alice and Mr and Mrs Singh formed a close and warm friendship which lasted many years. Mr Singh died 10 years ago and that was sad. Mrs Singh died 2 years ago and Alice missed her. Little Jaswinder was big now and had left home a long time ago and joined the Police force. Mr Singh lived long enough to see little Jaswinder join the police force and saw him rise through the ranks. They were very proud of their son. It was a great source of sadness to Amereen that Mr Singh died just before Jaswinder or Jazz as he was now known, became a Detective Sergeant, When Jazz came back for the funeral of his mother Alice saw him looking taller and leaner than most of the other family members she saw go into the house. She was shocked to see he had shaved his head. He laughed when she asked why he had done that. As a boy he had thick black hair with a beautiful wave through it. He had laughed off her comments and said it was the worry of having had 2 wives. Alice hoped he hadn’t had them at the same time. He assured her that one wife at a time was enough for him. What he didn’t tell her was the marriage breakup, the pressure of the job and that time back in Ilford had caused his hair to fall out. He liked Alice who he knew was a sweet, kind and naïve old lady from an era that has long since passed. She didn’t need to know what was out there in the real world.
Strange things were happening in Alice’s house. She had told Cissie about it but Cissie never had an opinion about anything. Alice had whispered that she thought she might be haunted. There were strange noises that happened like clockwork. In the morning, lunchtime and afternoon and in the middle of the night. The evening didn’t seem so bad because the TV was on in her room but the strange noises in the middle of the night frightened her. Her walls in her living room were really hot. If someone had lived next door she would have thought it was their heating but no one lived next door. It wasn’t winter anyway so why would next door have their heating on she wondered. It also occurred to her that her house was a bit warm too. It wasn’t that hot outside and although she did like a bit of warmth , it wasn’t right and it didn’t make any sense. There could only be one reason she concluded.
Alice listened and thought and what she eventually decided was that she wasn’t haunted but next door was. It was very frightening. The noises she heard were not voices, more like moans. The walls adjoining next door were hot to touch. She knew it must be the devil in there. She had taken to getting all the crosses she had in her drawers out and putting them on and trying to put them near the wall next door. There was the crucifix her mother left her, another from a visit to a church in Kent, and another which was for her to wear. She had it in her jewellery box but now she had taken to wearing it all the time. She found an old bible in a cupboard and put that beside her bed.
Next door had been bought about 6 months ago. It was a Chinese family she thought, well they looked kind of Chinese. Freddie would have told her off for saying that. To Alice if you looked a bit oriental you were Chinese. Freddie said there were lots of oriental people some were Chinese but some were Japanese, or even Vietnamese. Alice remembered she used to say, well they all end with ese so Chinese will do. Freddie was much more worldly than she was. She did missed him. He would know what to do about the Chinese house next door, he always knew what was best. The Chinese people had done some work in the house but then they stopped and left. Occasionally she saw someone go back in for a few hours but no one seemed to lived there. It was the end house so sometimes a car would be driven down the sideway and she never saw who had come to visit.
Alice didn’t know what to make of it all. She was frightened by the thought that all the noise and heat could be the devil’s work. She had to do something and after considering everything, she had decided that when the Chinese persons next came to the house, she would knock and ask them if the house was haunted and was that why they didn’t live there. She was going to suggest they had it exorcised. She had seen a programme about it on Jeremy Kyle and that sounded the best idea. She would watch every day so she didn’t miss them arriving. The car going down the sideway meant no one went in the front door, they went in the side door and unless she was vigilant, she might miss them.
She watched Jeremy Kyle with her cup of tea and was amazed at how people spoke to each other on the TV. She would never have had words with Mr Watson in public. They had more pride. Sometimes Freddie would say something quite sharply and she would raise her eyebrows at him. That seemed to settle him down and that was about as bad as it got between them. He was a gentleman, and would never have raised his voice at her in private, let alone in public. People were different all those years ago. Today, she was shocked to see the woman hitting and shouting at a man on The Jeremy Kyle Show. Goodness me, she thought, whatever is the world coming to.
After Jeremy Kyle, Alice got up to start her daily chores. It was Monday so washing had to be done. She had a few personal bits to wash and the towels and bed linen would go in her washing machine. She bought an automatic washing machine with Amereen about 15 years ago. They had both gone to the electricity shop and ordered it. Amereen had been such a good friend to her. The washing machine had changed her life. Up until then Alice had a washing machine that just washed. You had to take the clothes out at the top all soapy and rinse everything There had been a wringer attached to the top of the washing machine and all the clothes were put through the ringer. It had been considered very posh when she first bought the Hoover washing machine, but as she got older it was hard work especially when washing sheets and the towels weighed so much full of soapy water. Her arms and shoulders used to ache. Amereen had suggested an automatic machine. Well, Alice thought that as there was only her it wasn’t worth the money. But, goodness, was she glad she got it. It was now 15 years old and still going strong and there wasn’t a scratch on it. Nothing wore out in her house, except herself of course. She laughed at that thought.
Yes, she missed Amereen very much. They would sit and chat, each hardly knowing what the other was saying. Amereen had a very confusing accent and her English was still a bit limited. Alice had a strong cockney accent that Amereen found hard to understand. But they laughed and chatted together and looked out for each other. When little Jaswinder left home to work away in Manchester, Amereen was very sad and lost. She had relatives that lived up North but their visits were rare these days. Alice visited every day for months bringing Amereen’s favourite chocolate digestives to have with a cup of tea. Eventually Amereen felt better and was not so sad. When Alice had a fall and was bed bound for 3 weeks, Amereen made her a casserole, cooked her chicken, bought her fish and chips on a Friday and kept her company. Alice was very appreciative of Amereen’s help and she didn’t cook any of that foreign curry stuff for her to eat which was very nice of her. Everyone she cared about seemed to have gone. Still, it would be her turn soon she thought and then they would all be together again.
Her washing was out on the line. She loved to see it blowing in the wind. It gave her so much pleasure. In fact, if it was a nice Monday she would wash anything and everything so she could see it blowing on the line. Today was a lovely day to sit in the garden. When she had finished her chores she would have her lunch in the garden and watch the birds. She was looking forward to her sherry tonight. Alice liked a sherry but confined herself to special occasions only. Her parents had been Methodists and didn’t drink at all. Freddie liked his rum and said that the odd sherry would do no harm so Alice allowed herself such a delicious pleasure every now and then.
This little old lady who had lived an uneventful life was about to be responsible for starting a war between gang members which would result in the death of at least 6 men.
Today Alice changed her routine. Instead of cleaning the bedroom which was a Monday job, she decided to weed the front garden. She thought that next door might appear and she would notice more if she was outside. She remembered it was always on a Monday that the Chinese gentlemen usually appeared. Alice should have had her Sherry at lunchtime, by tea time she would be dead.
‘John, John, John,’ he said to himself almost absentmindedly whilst gently swirling his whiskey in a glass choked full of ice. Previously most of his evenings had been full of laughter and adoration, but since the court case they had been silent, with only the constant staccato of chinking ice to keep him company.
He had spent the month recuperating. The court case had worn him out somewhat. The questions had been specific and awkward, and the attention from the public distasteful and unsophisticated. As a professor who lectured in English Literature,specialising in poetry, he considered himself a bard who wrote a few worthy, meaningful and (he hoped) legendary verses to be preserved in the annals of time. His female students always loved to sit with him as he recited his poetry for their pleasure. He found this excited them and although never openly acknowledged, it was his best seductive line. Now all the students were kept away from him, and this depressed him. He needed to feel the warmth of love and adoration; he needed someone to caress, someone to be taken willingly to bed and loved expertly and intensely. He wanted the enthusiasm and refreshment of youth between his sheets.
Laura had been a mistake, he conceded. He had the pick of umpteen girls, better looking and more willing than Laura. He still couldn’t figure out why he’d wanted her so much. She had been dowdy: a pretty girl, he forced himself to admit, but she dressed a little too ordinarily for him. He liked his girls in tight jeans with skimpy tops that just covered delicious places he wanted to explore. Laura had been like one of those clumsy puppies that want to love you but don’t know how. She had followed him around, hanging on his every word. It seemed to him that wherever he was he would turn and bump into a pair of adoring eyes just following him around the room. If he needed a pen, a tissue, anything, she rushed up and offered it. He was used to being adored but this was something else. He’d often mused that if he told her to jump off the top of the building, she would have done it for him. It was a heady and addictive pleasure that consumed him. He knew she was a virgin and it became his goal to take her virginity as his own.
Thinking back, he wondered how he could have been so taken in by her. He knew it wasn’t an egotistical thing. She had cast a spell on him. He was, after all, only a man and she was using all her womanly guile to ensnare him, but she was the devil incarnate. She was never going to give away her virginity willingly; he’d tried, and she had stopped him. Everyone knew an inflamed man couldn’t have his passion quashed. She was goading him and teasing him, and it had driven him mad.
That night had been difficult. He knew for certain she wanted to be taken. Some women were like that; they couldn’t say yes but they didn’t mean no. He took her virginity in a flurry of spittle and screams, with an urgency that ripped her clothes and left bite marks on her beautifully budding tits and neck. It was wonderful and glorious. He loved the fight but she wasn’t strong; she whimpered and screamed, and this made him thrust harder. He climaxed magnificently and shouted in pleasure. This had been the best he’d ever had.
She lay still, silently crying. At first he was surprised, then angry. What the fuck was she crying for? She’d been taken by the best lover in the land. She would never find another so exciting and so proficient. Yet she accused him of rape. He sat up, shocked and amazed at such an assumption. He had no need to rape anyone, he told her; he could have at least ten women at any time just by clicking his fingers – and he flicked them in her face, angry now. He could see she was scared, and this made him even angrier. When he asked what she was going to do, she said she wanted to go home to her parents; she wanted her mum. He could see she would tell all, and it wouldn’t be the truth. He hadn’t raped her! It was a game she had been playing; he knew these games
She got up and arranged her clothes, crying louder and telling him he had no right to do what he did. He was scared and angry, and they argued violently. He still didn’t know what made him pick up the bronze statue of Wordsworth that sat close by, but when she said fiercely that she would tell the police what he’d done, he picked up the heavy statue and hit her across the back of the head. She fell across the bed – and he could see she was dead.
It had been a terrible time for him. He hadn’t meant to kill her. He wasn’t that sort of manand he was upset that she had died. She wouldn’t listen to him and this had made him so angry he’d done something he didn’t think he was capable of. It took him an hour of shaking before he could pull himself together and dispose of the body. He still shuddered at the thought. He’d wrapped her in bedding and carried her to his car. It was late, she was heavy, and he grunted and groaned with the effort. But no one was around and he took her to Hainault.
He knew he’d done wrong but it wasn’t his fault. If only she had listened to him and been honest with him, they would never have been in that situation. He’d told the court they were lovers, and that she’d been a very energetic lover, which accounted for the internal bruising and that on her thighs. He had to protect himself; no one would understand, so he permitted himself to lie a little. He couldn’t admit to killing her. It was a kind of accident; he would never have picked up the statue if she’d been more sophisticated, and just talked to him instead of screaming and threatening him. The jury found him not guilty and he was grateful for that. At the moment he was on garden leave but he expected to be reinstated as a lecturer when everything had calmed down a bit. For the moment he just idled away his time in alcoholic contemplation – until he got his calling.
The knock on his door at 11 p.m. was unexpected and interesting. He hoped that one of his girly students had decided to ignore the ban and seek him out. Full of sexual anticipation, he went to the door: it was a shaft of brightness in a dark hour.He opened the door with an expectant smile that drained from his face when he saw four men there, standing very close to the threshold. The man in front was smiling, asking brightly if he was John Carpenter. But the smile didn’t reach his eyes, which were sizing him up coldly. The two strangers at the back kept glancing behind them, seeming quite edgy and anxious, while the third man just stared at him in a manner that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Guardedly, he asked why they wanted him.
Their answer was swift and deadly. Of course they knew who he was; they had watched him for days. In seconds the door was closed and he was marched back into his flat, and roughly thrown to the floor. The acid down his throat stopped the screams and the last thing he saw before it took his sight was the face of his attacker frowning intently as he carefully squirted the contents of the bottle – the burning, painful, life-destroying liquid – into each of his eyes. Never again would he feel anything other than the exquisitely deep intense pain created by the acid as it burned through his voice box and then the corneas of his eyes. It was the start of a fear and panic that seemed impossible for a human being to live through.
A heavy object, a club hammer, crashed down on his shoulders, breaking them in one blow. The pain was so intense it took his breath away, and then the hammer fell with force onto his arms, breaking them. The pain reached an intensity that caused him to black out. He didn’t feel his legs being broken. Now limp and lifeless, he was lifted unconscious out of the flat and into the waiting car. The journey took them to Epping Forest. No one spoke for the whole journey. The men were used to these sorts of jobs but the very specific instructions they’d received had taken them by surprise. No one had ever requested something this gruesome before and it wasn’t pleasant.
They had to carry him some distance into the forest. The instructions had specified a particular area. They crashed through the forest, shining large torches to find their way. It took just one of them to carry him; he was slight and limp, able to be thrown over a shoulder and carried with ease. They found the spot, where a white sheet hung from a tree. Dropping him onto the ground, they took down the white sheet. As instructed, they waited until he became conscious. It took some time and they paced up and down, anxious to leave. Four cigarettes later, they noticed him stir.
He looked pathetic; trying to make a noise but nothing happening; his arms and legs didn’t belong to him and nothing moved. It was dark but he was blind. As instructed one of the men leaned over him and said,
‘You are in the middle of Epping Forest. No one will find you for days. You are blind, you can’t shout, your arms and legs are broken and you can’t move. All you can do is listen and feel. When we have gone, the animals will come out and find you and it is hoped you will rot in hell.
With that, they all left, glad to be going back to the car, and off to get a stiff drink.
He lay there, suspended between hell and madness. A crack of a twig, a rustle of a leaf: he heard it all. The first touch, the first bite, the first hairy creature he felt, caused a chasm of fear that could not be breached. He wished he could die and be out of it but his senses kept him wide awake and alert. He wanted out of this hellhole but his body was on crisis alert and would not let him rest. He felt every little bite that tore through him as his flesh was ripped into. It took three days for him to die, by which time insanity had invaded his mind with a fear of everything living. He died in an intensity of pain and a suicidal depression of fear and forgotten-ness. He died knowing no one loved him and he was alone.
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