Posts Tagged ‘Authors’



To make sense of this story please read Part 1 here and Part 2 here!

The journey is nearing its end………..

 A teenage girl, wearing rouge, eye liner and a clown’s nose stood on the platform. She was holding a dog lead. With no dog attached. The lead busied itself around the ghoul’s plinth.

She greeted the elderly couple as they left the train. The man was still red faced from his dalliance with a breast and a potential satan whilst the woman bent down and petted the lead saying, “Hello Bobby, you do look well!” They walked toward the station exit with  Invisible Bobby dragging its owner along.

The train guard appeared shortly after departing Widdle. He was a tall powerfully built man, his hams in particular were a sight, dressed in an ill-fitting liveried suit. He checked the imaginary ticket of my neighbour and handed it back with a smile.

I decided to hold out an imaginary ticket for inspection.

“Sorry sir, this ticket is no good.”

“Why not?” I asked. I  had a real ticket in my pocket and wished I had not been so cocky now. My neighbour rattled his translucent newspaper with purposeful indignation at my fare dodging antics.

“This takes you only as far as Piddle, two stops back. I’m afraid you’re going to have to pay a penalty fare.”

“How much?”

“Thirty pounds.”

I thought this a bit steep but looking at his stern features and enormous hams I knew there was little point in arguing. But I had an idea………

“Thanks very much sir, here’s your ticket.” The Guard handed me an invisible ticket along with a crisp real ten pound note as change for the two imaginary twenty pound notes I had handed him.

One born every minute I mused.

The Guard moved on and stopped to talk to the knitting woman, still furiously casting off. They spent a few moments in conversation before she held her design up against The Guard’s thick set arms. Perhaps her bogus knitting was for him? The colour certainly suited him. But alas I never found out. It still rankles.

A voice, Ghostly, almost ghastly to the human ear then filled the Carriage. We all turned our heads to see the evil being that uttered these sounds. The voice was accompanied by the sound of heavy chains rattling their miserable tone. A smell of rotting flesh pervaded. The wraith’s voice grew louder as it neared and spelled out its doom laden message,  “Hot drinks…….snacks…….. beverages……….peanuts?”

It was the headless Ghoul from Widdle station, mimicking the act of pushing a heavy  trolley. The Ghoul had donned a vivid red waistcoat which bore the title “Andy – Customer Service Assistant.”

My neighbour stopped him, “Tea please Andy, Everything OK?”

“Fine thanks, El Mystico. Running around like a headless chicken this morning.” He went about his business with relish,  pouring imaginary liquid into a nonexistent cup, although how he saw, being headless was beyond me.

“Milk and sugar?”

“Yes please.”

“Be careful it is very hot.”

El Mystico blew into his tea to cool it before taking a sip.

On the Ghoul trundled on, calling out in that beastly voice if anyone else wanted comestibles, the heavy chains scuffing the floor.

My bladder nearly gave out with the excitement, so I traipsed to the toilet in the adjoining carriage. A Charlie Chaplin lookalike doffed his tattered bowler and waddled up to me in that famous comic gait. He offered a cheeky grin before tripping over some invisible object only to be saved by hooking the armrest of a nearby seat with his walking cane. He repeated this several times until it became a tad tiresome.

The toilet was being vacated by a man painted silver, sporting a Tricorn hat and wearing Eighteenth Century costume. I had no idea who he was depicting, but the cubicle reeked of cigarette smoke and he had not flushed his ablutions. I gave him a beady stare as I stepped over the prone Charlie Chaplin and returned to my seat.

The train rumbled through the stations of Tinkledrop, Bladderton and Tapper, where the mother and Invisible, possibly satan, Baby Geoffrey alighted.  Andy, the Headless Ghoul Customer Service Assistant adopted a pose on each station platform presumably hoping he could earn a bob or two from passers by.

It was in the Tapper tunnel, now less than five minutes from home  that I caught my reflection in the carriage window. My face had rouge and eyeliner roughly applied and cabbage had become stuck between my teeth. Feeling liberated from the strictures of the Oral  World, I stood and pretended to climb a rope and then, despite my back injury, aped shuffling along a wall, towards the woman to enquire if she needed help with her luggage again.

“Thank you, most kind,” She said. We smiled at each other revealing the trapped vegetable matter between our teeth. I watched her stow her invisible knitting away.

“That’s coming along nicely.”

“Thank you, most kind.” She failed to tell me for whom the finished garment was intended. It still rankles.

The train pulled into our destination. Mimehead Station.

I walked to the Station car park. I don’t own a car, but in the world of The Mimico all that matters is imagination and a reasonably believable body position.

So, I fired up the Lamborghini and sped off to buy an ice cream from the van, humming Greensleeves as I drove.

There is a reason Mimehead is a silent town. But that tale will be for another day…………………………

I Hope You Enjoyed The Story – here is a musical interlude

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To make sense of this story read Part 1 here.

Our hero continues his journey to Home Town…………..

My attention was drawn away from the mackerel smack, which had begun to list heavily, by a woman who had appeared at the entrance to the carriage. She too wore white foundation and poorly applied black eyeliner and was dragging rather theatrically, a large invisible load behind her. My neighbour peered over the top of his newspaper to watch.

As befits a gentleman I stood up.

“Would you like some help?” I said.

“Thank you, most kind.” She smiled. There was a pea stuck between her front teeth.

The imaginary suitcase was much heavier than it looked and I struggled to stow it in the overhead rack, jiggling with it repeatedly to ensure a secure stowing had indeed been effected. After I had managed to do so, I dabbed my forehead with a faux handkerchief. She nodded her thanks, sat and became engrossed in imaginary knitting; casting off and pearling like a good ‘un. I think it was a scarf or maybe the arm of a jumper or cardigan. I could not be sure.

I felt a twinge in my back as a result of my muscular chivalry. Been a martyr to my back since an early age.

I looked out to Sea and noticed that the spot where once a Smack puttered homeward, was now merely a glut of dead mackerel floating on the water’s surface. Gulls swarmed around this unexpected feast. The crew were now confined to Davey Jones Locket. Or is it Locker? I always get the two mixed up!

We pulled into Piddle Station, where another human statue was located on the platform. It was Napoleon.  My favourite tyrant. The artiste bore an uncanny resemblance to the pudgy faced Corsican.

A woman boarded at Piddle. She spoke, “There, there Geoffrey, I’ll feed you in a minute.”

The woman wore rouge, eyeliner and also a shiny red clown’s nose. She carefully guided an imaginary pushchair down the aisle and spoke softly to its occupant, presumably Baby Geoffrey. Who was invisible.

She sat near the elderly couple and carefully picked up Invisible Baby Geoffrey, cooing to him, even bouncing the tot up and down, smiling as she did so. There was a baked bean stuck between her teeth. The old couple joined in and all three of them pulled strange faces and made gurgling noises at the fantasy infant.

“Do you mind if I feed him?” the woman asked.

“Not at all!” replied the old woman, although the old man flushed when it became apparent that Invisible Baby Geoffrey was still on the breast.

The old man looked at his wife and exclaimed, “Maureen look, the child carries the number of the beast!”

The skies blackened for a fleeting moment as Invisible, possibly satanic, Baby Geoffrey stared at me. If I could have seen his face no doubt I would have been very shaken.

Luckily, things settled down and the train rumbled along. The clouds were darkening further out to Sea and the terrain turned rockier and harsher. Inland was the old quarry and the ancient stone circle near Squelch where local legend tells of human sacrifices being carried out as recently as last Wednesday.

We drew into Widdle station to be greeted by the ghoulish apparition of another human statue, a dust ridden headless spectral with rusted chains sprouting around its legs and dripping from its arms. It was a very impressive display, the best one yet. I wondered where the performer’s head was in the costume and how he or she kept cool in hot weather.

Part 3 tomorrow……..


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Here’s another  Train Travel Tale for you to read. It will be in three parts. the BIG NEWS is that the title is a Spanish word!


I hope you enjoy Mimico……..

The train track hugs the coast like a coddled infant as it skirts bays, coves, inlets and headlands. At some points, trains run so close to beaches that it is possible to watch people paddling, beach combing or throwing sticks for excited dogs to chase after into the surf.

As a spur line off the main Inter City route, I am surprised that it is still going after all these years, whittled as it is to just a train from Big Town to Home Town in the morning and from Home Town to Big Town in the late afternoon. But the line thrives in its small understated way. Passengers know each other by first name, can always get a seat and even chat with the Guard enquiring after loved ones and mutual acquaintances.

I was going home after a few days in Big Town where I work in a hotel. I’d also visited the dentist for my annual check-up.  Got the all clear.

Not a lot goes on in Home Town. In fact nothing of note goes on, unless you count the ice cream van doing its rounds each Thursday. And that is only during the summer. I love the van’s Greensleeves jingle and nearly always treat myself to a 99.

The only other passengers sharing the carriage with me were an elderly couple sitting several rows in front.

The first stop on the line, Tiddle was soon reached.  There was a human statue on the platform. The ability to stand still for hours at a time is a highly under rated skill in my opinion.  As the train drew to a halt I noticed that it was The Statue of Liberty, my favourite statue.

A woman was standing on the platform. She unfurled an umbrella, even though rain wasn’t forecast and gingerly walked in a straight line, her face gripped with concentration as she carefully slid one foot directly in front of the other.

She would teeter and wobble, using the umbrella to help her balance. I was nervous for her, at one point hiding my face in my hands as she tottered violently for several seconds. Finally she stopped and flourished her brolly triumphantly to signal the success of her ground level high wire walking act.

She walked back to her starting point to repeat her actions. As the train pulled away and rounded the infamous Tiddle bend, I saw her teetering precariously once more. I worried for her.

A man appeared in the carriage. Rouge had been applied to his cheeks and liner daubed haphazardly around his eyes. A battered straw hat sat askew on his head. He was carrying a heavy load, invisible to the human eye. He came to a halt at row Row 45, opposite me, stood on the seat and heaved the invisible suitcase into the overhead shelf, jiggling with it to ensure it was safely stowed.  Stepping down, he pulled out an imaginary cloth, pedantically dusted his seat with it and then sat, protecting the crease in his trousers as he did so.

He smiled at me and mopped his brow with the faux handkerchief to signify his labours.  I noticed a piece of sweet corn stuck between his front teeth.

Once comfortable in the seat, he unfurled what appeared to be a newspaper. Of the transparent variety. He licked his right index finger to turn the pages and sighed with outrage at the information contained within.

My gaze returned to the sea, where I watched a small mackerel smack puttering its way towards Tiddle’s compact harbour.

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To make sense of this you will need to read

Part 1 here!

Part 2 here!

Waving Flags – Part 3

The Iron Duke, Wellington, arrived with a haughty demeanour one would naturally associate with the greatest living Englishman.  He inspected the Rocket, prodded wheels and tubes with his riding crop and asked questions of its construction, nature and performance to the nervous pairing of Locke and Stephenson.

After satisfying his curiosity and perhaps allaying some of his nerves, The Duke and his retinue retired down the platform to their specially prepared carriage. The crowds of people cheered such a grand presence, Napoleon’s conqueror no less,  in their shabby town of Manchester, although one or two expressed regret that the Prime Minister was not wearing his medals. For his part Wellington graciously raised his riding crop to his hat  to accept the adoration.

Locke signaled to William. Now was the time.

“All Clear. All Clear! Those journeying to Liverpool should all board now!” he shouted. He and Arnold, the would be assassin,  pushed the crowds away from the train and carriages to allow Wellington to make safe passage.

Once the Duke was safely aboard, William unfurled his flag and waved it energetically in the manner he had hoped. Stephenson standing on the footplate with the suddenly energetic Edmonds, gave him the thumbs up. The Rocket’s whistle produced a shrill blast, causing the crowds to draw breath. Once more steamed spewed from all the machine’s orifices as she began to slowly peel away from  the platform.

William realized that he had waved them off with his Red Flag, when he had intended to use Green. In the excitement he had got mixed up. A small point to most, but to a man as fastidious as William something for him to brood upon at home that night.

Locke had noticed to. He shook his head at William. There would be a reckoning.

Slowly the carriages passed by. Wellington and William caught each other’s eye. There was a look of palpable fear on the great man’s face, not even the threat of defeat at Waterloo had caused such a base fear in him as the fear of being hauled hauled by this ghastly traction contraption, conceived, designed and built by Northerners.

On iron rails!

William had intended to doff his stove pipe to the Duke, but time, circumstances and the paper lining now made that impossible.

The train was now free of the platform, puffs of steam arose from the Rocket as it chattered and cursed in its mechanical tongue and busied itself with its journey to Liverpool.

The silence of the crowd soon gave way to cheers and roars. Even Ezekiel Pardew, who endlessly preached of the ungodliness to be found in joy let alone happiness  cheered to the rafters as the world changed irrevocably in that moment. The moment a train passed from view.

William walked back to the Storeroom, his boots squeaking in accompaniment. This time he remembered to remove his hat before entering.

He was pleased. He had set the first ever passenger train on its way and his flag waving had proved a vital feature of the proceedings. Even if the flag was the wrong colour and  the Duke of Wellington looked decidedly off with the whole venture.

Quilley was once again brewing tea.

“Could have bagged him with a single shot. I could have set Ireland free. Tea?”

“Aye,” replied William. He sat, brushed a piece of stray cotton from his hat and flicked the piece of bacon still stuck between his teeth.

It had been a special day.

I hope you enjoyed the story. Here is a song called…..Waving Flags – by British Sea Power – who are brilliant!

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In  order to make sense of this you will need to;

Read Part 1 Here!

Waving Flags Part 2

William checked his pocket watch.  It was time to leave. He slung the canister over his shoulder and placed the pea free whistle in his waistcoat pocket.  Anne wiped invisible dust from his jacket lapels and looked with  pride upon her husband as he leant forward to peck her on the cheek. The stove hat fell forward covering William’s eyes, a problem soon remedied by adding paper lining to the hat to fasten it more securely to his head. Wisely, the hat was not put on until he had left the lee of the house.

Accompanied by Lottie and squeaking boot, he began the short walk to work pondering the size of his late father-in-law’s noggin but nevertheless proud of his hat and canister. Neighbours called out wishing him good luck, some with an undercurrent of jealousy that “Tippy Toes Bleasedale” as he was nicknamed, had landed such a coveted position on the Liverpool Manchester Railway.

Children followed down the street in a gaggle of ragged excitement and even Mr. Jellicoe, apron dripping from the slaughter of beasts, came to the doorway of his butcher’s shop to pass on his best wishes.

William smiled and flicked his tongue over the trapped bacon.

“This is as far as you go now Lottie, off home to mother.”

“When can I come to work with you Father?”

“Fret not child, only two years to your eighth birthday and then I’ll get you a job at the Pit.”

“Thanks Father!”

On the Station platform a plume of steam arose from the ominous engine, liveried in bright yellow, that bore the name “Rocket” on a bold brass plate. Stephenson and Locke were  fussing around the machine, staring at dials, tapping gauges, polishing brass work. Anything to pass the time. Stephenson looked above to the heavens scanning for rain clouds.

Edmonds the taciturn engine driver, selected for the task because he was taciturn, sat idly on the locomotive’s footplate, oblivious to their discussions, smoking a pipe.

Locke looked up at William as he arrived.

“Fine ‘at  William.”

“Aye Sir, was wife’s father’s afore he died. Bin savin’ it for special occasion.”

“And this is a special occasion!”  Replied Locke enthusiastically before returning to distract himself with agreeably pointless tasks around the machine.

William retired to the Storeroom, knocking his hat askew as on the lintel.  His co-worker Arnold Quilley was brewing tea, something Quilley, another veteran of Waterloo, was apt to be found doing. Brewing tea and talking sedition in the guise of Irish Republicanism were the two favourite pastimes of Arnold Quilley, native of Roscommon on the island of Ireland.

William opened the canister to retrieve the two flags. He practiced waving them in hopefully a stolid and dependable manner. Confident that the waving was up to scratch, he drank the tea Quilley had made.  The pair each smoked a pipe.

“Big day,” Quilley said.


“I could take Wellington with one shot with me musket. One shot to free Ireland from the English yoke.”

“Are you going to?”



“Go on then.”

The heads  of people, adorned in caps, bonnets or stove pipe’s, bobbed past the room’s opaque window. The pair heard gasps of astonishment from outside. Even dogs yelped when they first set eyes upon the locomotive beast.

People were accustomed to steam engines and mechanical leviathans producing the wealth that was being spewed out of the factories and mines but to see such a magnificent machine with wheels; a machine that would transport them to Liverpool in less than an hour! Well, the collective mind of the people boggled.

William thanked his luck that Locke had been in the Foundry that day as he waved a flag to inform the smelters to release the pig iron into the ingots. A grand opportunity now lay before him.

The zealot preacher Ezekiel Pardew appeared, berating the ungodly nature of the mechanical beast before them, “The Lord’s fury will by vented upon all railers!” he proclaimed and continued a speck flumed invective against contraptions, motioning machines, traction engines and a broader assault on the scientific notions of mankind before finally desisting and gawping at the activity in front of him.

At something he or no other man has set eyes upon before.

The Rocket spewed steam, cussed and strained to move. The noises were new. Never heard before. Noises created by man. In the forge, in the engine rooms, in the imagination and the art of the possible. Man had conquered nature. Bent it to his will and this is how his triumph sounded.

The mechanised world was imminent.

Part 3 tomorrow!

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Here’s a three-part Train Travel Tale – We return to the earliest days of the railways…………

Waving Flags Part 1

Manchester, England, November 1830

William Bleasedale was sure that the aroma of a frying rasher of bacon was the finest smell of all. An event so rare in his household that it guaranteed a special day was in the offing. And today was most certainly a special day.

As he made his way down the rickety stairs, the sound of children playing, fighting, or just being children filled the small cottage which was home to William, his wife Anne and their offspring, Cedric, Charles, James, Caroline, Lottie, Henrietta, Elizabeth, William and Florence.

For William, a man with a bent towards melancholy, it felt that the children occupied every nook and cranny of the house. He constantly fretted over providing enough for them and for Anne a sturdy, stoical woman who combined the duties of motherhood with working on the looms at Joseph Sander’s mighty linen mill in Newton Heath.

James took his Father by complete surprise as he clambered out of the cupboard where he slept. A boy clambering out of a cupboard was not in itself unusual, young Cedric slept in the coal scuttle, but it took William several seconds to recognise the boy as his son and thus part of their chaotic but effervescent home life.

Anne, dreaming of universal suffrage, tended the rashers and eggs sizzling in the pan. William watched her with silent ease,  pleased that the lustre of their relationship still shone as witnessed by the plethora of children but also in the quiet moments they shared when his humourous anecdotes and mimicry would cause his earnest wife of fourteen years to giggle and slap his arm in mock outrage.

“Morning!” William said.

“Morning Father!” the five children present chimed. The three eldest Elizabeth, William and Henrietta had already left for work hauling coal from the Pit whilst the youngest, three month old Florence, slept peacefully in her cot, a welcome relief from the croop that had caused Anne seemingly endless nights of interrupted sleep.

William sat in his chair by the hearth and examined his boots, left specifically there each morning. The soles were worn but the uppers remained in good condition and Charles had given them a fine polish. The promise of a fresh penny did wonders for the boy’s concentration.

“Well done Charles! I can see my face in them!” William tossed the promised penny to his son who stared at the coin as if it were treasure plundered by Drake himself from the Spaniards. The other children gazed upon the fortune in their brother’s hand.

William pulled the boots on and double knotted each lace. As usual the left shoe felt tight around the little toe, but that was a private discomfort and not for anyone else to know or care about. The boots squeaked as he stood and walked to the table.

Anne dished the rashers and eggs onto the plate. William cut himself a slice of bread and savoured the wonderful meal set before him.

“Enjoy Father.”

“I most certainly shall Mother!”  He ate with relish, giving silent celebration for the pig. A pig which had shared the couple’s bedroom all summer. He felt a pang of regret as Mr. Jellicoe, the butcher slaughtered the swine (whom had been christened Thomas by the children) for sixpence three weeks previously. But it meant that there would be meat to feed the family through the long winter that had now settled upon them.

With the exception of Charles who remained enraptured by his coin, the tots stared at their Father in the hope that he may cut a slither of bacon or egg for them to taste. Experience had taught them that this kind hearted man would usually provide one or two with a titbit. But not today. This special day.  

Having wiped the grease off the plate with his bread, William lit a pipe. A piece of bacon rind was stuck between his two back lower molars, the only molars still in his mouth. He flicked at the rind with his tongue, trying to dislodge it.

The tobacco smoke plumed and furled in the low ceilinged room like a genie leaving its clay potted lamp. The children sniffed the air and enjoyed the giddying aroma of the Virginia Leaf.

“Shall we fetch it down now Father?” Anne asked.

“Indeed Mother.”  Anne scuttled upstairs. Lottie followed her. There was clumping and bumping on the ceiling and the sound of a door hinge in need of lubrication creaking open. Before long Anne’s heavy footsteps were heard on the rickety staircase. She returned carrying a large box, nearly the same size as her. She set the box on the table, opened it and revealed a magnificent stove pipe hat, fully two feet in height.

The children were agog to see such millinery splendour in their small home and gasped  as their father still sat at the table, placed it regally upon his head.

“My, my Father, aren’t we the handsome one!”

“Thank you Mother. Not bad for an old ‘un! Did you find the pea for my whistle?”

“I’ve allowed each of the little ‘uns to lick it for their breakfast, should keep the pangs at bay for a while. Don’t forget your flags.”

“I won’t.” He smiled at her. She returned the smile and began to fuss around the kitchen, lifting pots, wiping crumbs, cleaning children’s faces with spit and a cloth. She felt nervous for him. Her man.

“Both the green and red one?”

Yes. May I say Mother, you have excelled yourself with this canister.”

The leather canister containing the flags was Anne’s idea. It was her late Father’s who claimed he had plundered it from a dead Boneapartist at Waterloo fifteen years previous (a claim that barely stood up to scrutiny given her father was in prison for eating a stolen potato peeling at the time).

How fitting that the Old Iron Duke himself, Wellington was going to grace the day. The man who had saved England from tyranny, frogs legs and the evils of metrication. Anne found the flags fitted perfectly into the canister after she had cut an inch off the flagpoles. William had not noticed. Normally he did.

He was pleased as punch. A man who carries his tools to work is definitely man of substance. Especially on a day such as today.

Part 2 Tomorrow!

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“The train goes through a six mile tunnel!”

“We thought he knew.”

“A six mile tunnel!”

“We did make sure he wore a high vis jacket.”


“And goggles. We did do a full risk assessment.”

“Well done.”


“One question.”


“A high wire act on a train?”

“The risk assessment didn’t have a section to cover that, so we thought it was OK. Afterall he did walk across Niagara Falls!”

“Where is he now?”

“In the tunnel. On the tunnel too, for that matter. We found the goggles though. And his pole. They can be used again.”

“Every cloud …..”

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He had boarded the train at Derby. Pink Floyd was playing on my Ipod when he sat next to me. If there is a better song than Wish You Were Here, then I’m a Chinaman.

As the train left the Station,  the man placed his hands to his mouth and blew through them, carefully adjusting his fingers in a daintily choreographed process.

Curious, I turned down my Ipod to listen.


Beautiful birdsong! It was like having Summer on the train. The gentle chirping carried me back to warmer, more carefree days. It was like hearing Dark Side Of The Moon for the first time. Seminal.

The Guard, a world weary man who attended to his duties with a grim relish, stopped to listen. “Fookin’ Brilliant,” he said to the man as he checked his ticket, “Like being in fookin’ aviary. Me mam had a budgie once. Fooker never said a fookin’ word.” He moved away, “Tickets from Derby please.”

The man desisted from his trilling and rummaged in his rucksack. He pulled out a number of twigs and arranged them around himself and then retrieved a small Tupperware box, opened it and ate a couple of fat, wriggling earthworms.

Most of the questions in life can be found in the lyrics of Roger Waters. If there is a better lyricist then I am a Chinaman. But even Roger would be stumped to explain a nest building, worm eating, bird impressionist on the 11.35 to Sheffield.

“Cuckoo, cuckoo.”

“Cuckoo?” I said.

“Yep! What’s this one?” He raised his hands to his mouth and  blew, his cheek and neck muscles working overtime to shape and twist the sounds.

If it had been the solos of David Gilmour it would have been another story. If there’s been a better guitarist then I’m a Chinaman.

“Robin?” I said meekly.


He went through his extensive repertoire. My lack of knowledge was cruelly exposed.







“Twit Twoo, Twit Twoo.”


“Yep! Which sort?”

“A big one?”


He chomped on a worm. He stood. He lowered  his head onto his chest, placed his legs together and waddled forward a few feet, turned and returned in the same manner, a low, skittish growl accompanied these movements.

“Need the toilet?” I asked. Worms can’t be good for the digestive tract.

“Emperor Penguin.” He sat.

His body language now carried an air of menace, “You don’t know much about Birds do you?”

“Not really.”

“OK. I’ll make it easy for you.” He repeatedly head butted the seat in front of him, stopping only to smile with a manic bloodstained leer at me before continuing with his butting frenzy. He stopped and sat back. His nose was a bloody mess. A couple of twigs had been dislodged and fallen onto the Carriage floor.

“Fookin’ Hell,” said The Guard who happened to be passing, “That is the best impression of a fookin’ Woodpecker I’ve ever seen.”


The Guard focussed on the elderly woman who was sitting in the seat the man had been butting and helped fish out the her partially swallowed top set. Her wig was also akimbo.

“What’s this then?” The man stripped naked and clambered into the overhead shelf. He levered his buttocks over the head of the elderly woman who was checking her top set for any damage and……well…….did something that make pigeons the scourge of city folk.

“You can’t fookin’ evacuate on fellow passengers. It clearly states this in Conditions of  Carriage,” The Guard said in an exasperated fashion.

“But it’s lucky to be crapped on by a pigeon!”

He escaped the clutches of The Police and roosted in the rafters of Sheffield Station. After a three day standoff  he attempted to fly to freedom. According to witnesses he flapped like a wingless, featherless titan.

The last words he uttered were, “Look! I can fl………..”

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Many thanks for all the encouraging feedback on the story.

Ma Fightback said I should post it as one complete story. So if you haven’t read it yet, make a cup of tea, grab some Lincoln Biscuits for dunking and read on….

Part 1.

He had forgotten.

He lay on the toilet floor. Time; Relative or absolute? Time along with choice are our most precious possessions. A luxury we are all afforded.

The train rumbled onwards.  At first, its mechanical voices were welcome, amplifying freedom and the beckoning ability to choose once again. But now the chatter irked.

How long had he been in here? What was he doing here? Where was the train taking him? Why was he locked in the toilet? He was confined once again. The train rumbled on. He was powerless.

The vision; Where had it come from?  Standing in a church pulpit casting down on a garishly dressed congregation of alabaster models, their faces obscured by fluorescent light, impervious to this impassioned vision of his God. The finest sermon he had ever given. Probably too clever for this congregation.

Only one face revealed itself as he spoke. An elderly man who tapped his stick on the church flagstones in a shiftless, artless fashion as the Sermon enunciated the joys of forgiveness and fortitude to this catatonic congregation.

He began to laugh and cajoled the other  lifeless figures to join him in applauding the words. None did. Instead, The alabaster figures grew into bloated, distended shapes. Sores and weal’s fixed themselves to their skins. But they remained motionless.

The old man spoke, “Bravo, Father David, Bravo. Such success in preaching cant to your flock.  I now count myself as one of your disciples. How temperate you are. How prudent! Your faith, your precious sacrosanct, conceited faith. I come to claim that faith from you Priest.”

The Priest was confused. What had he had done to deserve this?

“You already know the answer. For your own glory, your own sense of destiny, you have aborted your faith.” The old man melted from view.  The priest remained still, silent. He heard a noise.

Someone was knocking on the toilet door. The door handle moved rapidly up and down. Were they were coming for him? A wraith of fear gripped him. Thankfully the knocking stopped and the handle was becalmed.

Thirst. He stood but his legs could barely support his weight. Where was he? Panic. He had no control. No choice. He vomited.

Again there was  a knocking at the door. More insistent this time. Fear returned. His heart raced. Again he threw up, a dry, incessant heave.

He was alone, isolated from a world that had never understood him and shunned him. Only the toilet door protected him from this harsh world.  He wished he was back in his room and his choices were made for him.

The train stopped. Its clanking, harsh voices returned to torment him as it idled in rest.

For a fleeting moment, the heroin had reconfirmed his genius. Cooled the scratching madness in his mind’s eye. He could depend on it as always.

He had found Peace.

He realised he was not alone. She was there.

Part 2

She held out her hand. He noticed the self tattooed dots on each of her knuckles. He had asked her once what they represented. Her answer was, “Nothing. It seemed like a good idea at the time.” That summed her up. Live for the moment. To hell with consequences.  Not like him, a man who weighed each and every action before committing to it.

“I miss you,” he said, “Come back to me. I am nothing without you.”

She smiled. That gap toothed smile. Her green eyes sparkled. “Be still Father. Be still.” Her eyes, despite all that she had suffered still radiated kindness. Cramps rented him, but Susan remained.

“She’s come back for me!”

He had tried to help her. Find the heroin she needed. Give her life. If needs be with his life. He had started to buy it for her. To help her overcome her addiction. Get away from Luke her pusher and pimp. He could save her, his very own Magdalene.

He had found her in the Church on that distant Summer’s evening, asleep on one of the pews sporting a black eye and split lip.  Her visitation was a sign. He was sure of that.

A sign that his duty was to help her. Through his faith and his magnanimity. But it would also prove to be a test of faith. A test that he had failed. The wrap of foil and the smoke stained Biro casing lying on the floor attested to that.

At first he left her food. Sandwiches,  Tuna and Sweet corn or Cheese and Pickle. Mars Bars.  Coffee even though she preferred Coke. He began to leave small amounts of money, loose change from his pockets,  a fiver now and then.

He had asked about her parents. There were none. She was taken into care as a baby. Her mum was dead. Heroin she thought. Couldn’t be sure. Didn’t care either way.

He had told her about the night shelter in the Town Centre, but she didn’t want to go back there. Too dangerous. Besides, she liked being alone. Something a Care System never allowed. People prying into her business, her “welfare” when the only people who ever took interest in her were the men who wanted to groom and pimp her.

Here in the Church, she was alone. Safe. After all that is what churches were at the end. Havens.

She would return to Luke each morning and earn the money to pay for the heroin he sold her, but at least it was safe here in the church. And after all, she told the Priest,  one day Luke wouldn’t come looking for her and she would be free then. Then she could make some choices about her life.

The Priest was uncertain at first. It wasn’t his job. He wasn’t a Social Worker or trained in this world. He had had a quiet word with Detective Inspector O’Leary, a parishioner. “Watch her, she’s trouble that one. If you want I will sort her out for you.”

It was not the reply he had been expecting. A tad harsh. The girl was a victim of fate or at least circumstance. He should help her. More to the point he could help her. Demonstrate to her the love of His God for all people.

The train began to move. Station lights bled through the opaque glass. He tried to read the station sign but couldn’t. He threw some cold water on his face. The shock was welcome. He was on a train heading to Durham. Good, he was beginning to feel in control again.

Luke. A spindly urchin of feral design and mindset, who reeked of cannabis and Lynx body spray. At first, he was aggravated by a Priest interfering in his affairs. The Girl was popular. Cheap to run and earned him more than the other girls. He would be mad to let her go. Not until she was spent and the punters wouldn’t want her anymore. Couple of years away at least. Then she could just fuck off and the Priest would be welcome to her.

The Priest spent a month caring for her, leaving the sandwiches, drink and money. He had even sought out Luke to score for her. Small amounts to  help her wean herself off the stuff. On the third occasion, Luke had said to him, “Try it Father? I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. You seem the sort. You lot always need something to cling to.”

He refused the offer. Naturally. Heroin was dangerous. Evil. Like the asp in the Garden of Eden. At first he was impervious to its mendacious whisperings, but the voice grew louder and attached itself to him, wrapped itself around his sub-conscious.  He now saw it as a test of his faith. And if it would bring him to a closer understanding of the Girl’s struggles, then that could only be a good thing. He had given up smoking and knew he had the strength of will to refute the narcotic’s siren advances

He smoked it. Luke showed him how. He reminded himself it was to get closer to her suffering and understand what agonies she must be enduring. Why she needed to escape her life.

He had enjoyed it.


He loved it.

Fuckin’ loved it.

It instilled the peace his restless mind had always sought and brought him closer to a God who had become distant in the past few years. He forgot about her, Luke and everything else he had concerned himself with.

Heroin loved him and helped God find him again. Intellectually as well as spiritually. He had craved this insight all his life and the Girl, as if a messenger had shown him the way to enlightenment.

Luke was right.

Blackmail is a cruel trick to play.  But Luke being a shrewd business man knew that extorting a priest for two hundred a week was a much easier way to earn than scoring, pimping or robbing. He granted Susan one  night a week off as part payment. “Fair deal, your holiness!” he said without a glimmer of irony.

The train drew to a halt at another station. Through the frosted glass he made out the  comings and goings of other passengers. The train cranked and cussed as straining metal cooled.

Susan stroked his cheek. How could she have been oblivious to his feelings for her? If  he had heard once “I love you Father,” it would have been enough, even a simple thank you would have sufficed.

No, no that was wrong. He had not sought or played for the girl’s affections, she was the one at fault not he. She must have understood his life as a priest, his celibacy and his devotion to the poor rather than himself. Through his haze, he felt anger rise.

Good, an emotion. The drugs were beginning to abate.

No, it was plain to him now that she only saw him as an amusement. A conduit. Less risky, an idealistic fool who supplied her drugs for free, kept her from the clutches of Luke and the punters who beat her. Let her sleep in the church. She probably thought he was a perv. The Bitch.

Where was he? What was he doing here? Who is this girl smiling down at me?

“You have to go Susan. Can’t you see you led me to this?” She withdrew her hand. The  smile tipped from her face and in its place a scowl darkened her gaunt features. She was at fault. If only he had never met her. If only he had not taken Confession that night in the Church.

Did she not see that in this confined space, her Christian duty and duty as a woman, was to help him? What was she doing here anyway? She didn’t belong here.

She faded and the warmth of her touch returned to being a memory.

“Don’t go. Don’t leave me. Please.”

She did not reply.

Again there was a knock on the door. “Are you alright in there?” The voice outside displayed some concern.

“Yes, yes, sorry,” He replied. Guilt was his companion now. The opiate rush dulled further. The anger and confusion were replaced by the crimson shame. It had been so easy to succumb to his addiction once more. It had not been conquered, merely fettered for those months of rehabilitation.

He stood.  Stronger this time. Good. The train jerked forward. He fell towards the wash hand basin, wrapping left knuckles in the process. The pain was welcome. Real.

He opened the door and gingerly stepped out, expecting to be confronted by the impatient voice that had been knocking earlier. There was no-one there.

He cast a glance backwards. The foil wrapper lay on the floor by the flush pedal and the smoke charred pen case lay at an angle to it.

He began the unsteady journey back to his seat, stumbling into other passengers as he did so, earning agitated glances. He mumbled apologies, his pallid features and sweat matted hair presenting a disturbing, deranged portrait to other passengers who averted their gaze.

He was thankful that he would never see these people again. Thankful not to be wearing his priest’s garb.

The train slowed. The scent of asbestos lined brakes filled the carriage.

He inhaled deeply. The carbonated taste of the air brought him back to his current location.  He estimated that he had been in the cubicle for nearly four hours. The Guard announced that they were now approaching York station.

He moved through the carriage trying to remember where he had sat. Several rows away he saw a young boy furiously colouring a drawing. He remembered. He had been sitting opposite the boy and his mother.

“Look mummy, I’ve finished!” The child held up his crayon scrawl for his mother to view. She praised the boy and shot an uncertain glance at the catatonic man now sitting opposite her.

The boy sat back with a furrowed look on his face before saying, “It’s a pig mummy can’t you tell?”

“Of course it is Jake.”

“Oink! Oink!” the little boy said gleefully. His mother laughed to. She tidied the pile of coloured pictures the boy had completed on the journey. The Priest’s eyes scanned them and noticed the clowns faces peering up at him. The boy had been colouring in that one when he had left them. White faces and red noses.

A residue of vomit had collected in the corner so his mouth. He pulled out a tissue and wiped it clean. He felt his Rosary Beads in the pocket too. A memory. Of only a few hours ago. Four hours.

He thought back to the final session with Father Stephen,

“Your own conceits and half-baked assumptions about your own intellectual rigour and proximity to the seat of God were your undoing David. Most people turn to God in times of personal or national crisis. You on the other hand turned to God to seek adulation.”

“I always thought I was different Stephen, somehow set apart from everyday life. I was created for something else.”

“David, accept what you have been given and revel in that. Lose this self deluding notion of saintliness and you can still offer something to God, the Church and people.”

David ruminated on Fr Stephen’s belligerent assessment. He could admit to being a little self obsessed, he had the treatment to thank for that, but he was surprised that Stephen could still not see how different he was to everybody else.

Part 3 –Four or so hours earlier…….

Choice. Decisions. The stuff of life. Without them we would not possess happiness, sadness, regret or relief. And without these we would not experience life.

Everyday we exercise free will to determine the shape, pattern and direction of our days. Perhaps these events are of the nondescript kind, such as buying a Tuna and Sweetcorn sandwich at Taunton station.  He used to buy her Tuna and Sweetcorn sandwiches.

But being free to choose when for so long his actions have been scrutinised, monitored, prescribed, reviewed, sanctioned and judged, is a small step to the symmetrical world of decision and sanity.

Along with the sandwich, he had bought a packet of ready salted crisps for the long journey to Durham. Six hours give or take.

He  returned to Father Stephen who was checking the departure board. He hummed the now familiar tune of “Welcome Home” The Peters and Lee classic.

“Good choice. That should keep  you going until you reach Durham. Got your ticket?”

“Yes.” He patted the breast pocket of his overcoat.

The train arrived.

“Got your ticket?”


Father Stephen shook his hand vigorously.

“Well, good luck David. It’s been a pleasure to work with you. You have my number in case you need to talk but I will see you in two weeks in any case.  I won’t wave you off. I haven’t bought a ticket for the car park. Father Sidney will meet you at Durham. Give him this letter. It contains the terms of your rehabilitation up there. Safe journey.”

“Thank you. For everything.”  Both men flushed. David placed the letter in his jacket.

He boarded the train and found his seat. A table seat. Good.  A woman and a young boy sat opposite. David and the woman smiled the cautious pre-emptive smile of strangers thrown together. The child was engrossed in colouring in a picture. Clowns by the look of them. White faces and red noses. As a child, the Priest had always been afraid of the menace that lurked behind that make up.

After a short struggle, he managed to stow his case in the overhead shelf and settled in his seat, catching her eye again. Once more they smiled weakly at each other. The train pulled away. There was no sign of Father Stephen. He really was eager to avoid a fine.

David unwrapped his sandwich.

He thought of first time he had met Stephen as he bustled into David’s room/cell clutching a lever arch file. He paid scant attention for the first twenty minutes or so. This was unsettling.

His angular, busy face scanned the file notes, humming “Welcome Home” as he did so. Occasionally an eyebrow would arch at a particular detail in the file, or he would take a deepish breath after reading another snippet.  Finally he spoke in a broad Mancunian accent.

“Father Patterson, I am Father Stephen Joseph, the Society’s chief counsellor. You can call me Father Stephen, Father Joseph or anything you like really as long as it does not contain profanity.”

He  was not thinking that. He was only thinking when he would be given his Methadone.

Stephen  continued,  “Heroin addiction is very rare. Thankfully. Alcoholics, Manic Depressives and Pederasts I see plenty of, but Class A drug addicts? I believe you’re the first one I’ve dealt with.”

Where was his methadone?

“I must understand your own belief systems and those factors that underpin your faith. That is all. No more and no less. If and when I can address what committed you to a life of Christ and all that goes with that then I can, in all likelihood, find the key to rebuilding your spirituality, seek an explanation for your addiction and what led you down this path and the trouble with this…….Girl, Susan.” He studied her photo. His eyebrow arched once more.

David blanched at these words. He did not understand. Why should he? All he wanted was Methadone.

Father Stephen scribbled furiously into his notepad as he spoke. He tore the page out of the book, held it aloft and muttered, “Good legs, poor tail, that one’s not so bad.” He passed the drawing to him. It could have been one of several animals, but it was mammalian.

“Yes it is a mammal. That is a good start. Reptiles are a no-no for me I must say and as for amphibians? Don’t get me started.”

Thus the pattern was set. At the end of each of their sessions, David was handed a badly drawn animal to consider. They became a daily treat, blistering the routine of therapy and forced contemplation.

“Just think about this for tomorrow, tell me about this tomorrow,” and each morning at the start of their session they would spend five minutes discussing experiences of and feelings towards the animal so laughingly depicted.

He  admired this abstract method of communication. Clearly, Stephen  was not as intelligent as he, not many in the Society are, but his love of anecdotes, similes and metaphors made their sessions entertaining and at the very least an amiable distraction from the rote of addiction recovery and its physical manifestations or tortured abstraction.

“Is it a Gorilla?”

“No, it is a Goat. It’s not that bad is it?”

He had wondered when his methadone would be sanctioned.

The train pulled into Temple Meads Station. The kerfuffle of humanity boarding and leaving the train took him by surprise. So much nervous energy expended on such mundane tasks. Life in all its glorious pointlessness. He had missed this.

Susan.  He would love to see her again, but the gagging clause in her contract with the Diocese made that impossible. What she thought of him now he could not begin to imagine. That was the worst part not being able to apologise. And to let her apologise to him.

In the six months he had known her, he had turned his back on his Vocation to instead live a life based upon the impossible pursuit of intellectual ecstasy via opiates. All to satisfy her.

He opened the slim volume of The Collected Essays of St Thomas Aquinas. As always the book fell open at the same spot,  “In such reading I find devotion, whence I readily ascend to contemplation”.

Thick bloated raindrops began to fall against the carriage window. It would be good to feel the rain on his face. The rhythm of the train moving over the tracks instilled a sense of calm in him.

Nine months cooped up in a room containing a bed, dressing table, chair, armchair and wardrobe. No mirrors, not even a carpet and a large black crucifix hanging over the bed. The only utensils allowed in the room were the small plastic beakers. Room searches on a weekly basis.

Part Monastery. Part Prison.

It felt inspired to be amongst people once more, revelling in the anonymity and freedom from inquisition. And carpet underfoot.

His mouth felt dry. He searched for a packet of mints in his jacket. As his hand searched he felt another container in the pocket. Small, made of leather with a button fastening. His rosary beads.

He opened the case. The beads nestled comfortably. He wondered. There it was. Wedged in the bottom of the case. Enough for one smoke, in an emergency. They must have missed it.

But was this a final test from Father Stephen? His possessions had been thoroughly searched. Two wraps had been removed from the lining of his jacket. Perhaps this one had slipped through. Perhaps, it is a sign. Designed to test his faith, his resolve to keep off smack for good.

Stephen had provided him with the platform to refute her doltish advances in the future. His mental strength was such that the addiction could be controlled via a combination of  intellect, strength of will and methadone.


Nobody would know.

He knew he could give up any time he wished. He had proved that in the clinic. He had stopped smoking to. He popped the case button shut and returned it his pocket.

One more time?


Why not? I love it.

Don’t. Think of the struggle you have been through.

But the struggle shows that I can overcome it. Use it to my advantage. To reach God in that uncluttered manner.

Besides I love it.

“In such reading I find devotion, whence I readily ascend to contemplation”.

There it was again. The symmetry between free will and choice. Only this was a choice for good. For the benefit of his spiritual self. His devotion.

Fuck it.

He stood up and made his way to the toilet. The child scribbled with a toddler’s delicacy of touch and his mother, who was reading a magazine, gently stroked the boy’s back.

He glimpsed at the clowns. He and the mother smiled once more.

He recalled watching clowns on a Saturday Night Variety programme with his parents as a child. They had scared him. But he never expressed this fear. It had been a silent upbringing in so many ways.

The sign on the toilet door indicated it was occupied. But then it opened.  An old man stepped out, clattering the toilet door with a walking stick as he left. They smiled as they passed each other.

A number of sodden hand towels littered the floor. He closed and locked the door, flipped the toilet seat down and sat. The frailties returned. The guilt returned. Why was he so fragile? Weak? He needed to distance himself from these feelings. He double checked that the door was locked.

He loves it.

He  retrieved the case, removed the beads and held the wrap of heroin. The train rattled over a set of points.

Fuck it.

The heated tinfoil reduced the brown powder to an oily residue. He watched the transformation from powder to oil and thought of extreme unction. He placed the Biro casing in his mouth and drew in the fumes.

There was little reaction for a few seconds. Then the HIT.

He floated into an ether of peacefulness and stillness, sat back and let this balm cleanse. Even the train’s dullard voice failed to disturb him. It added to the intensity of the experience.  After months of enforced abstinence, the deep rich insights into the world of ecstasy and spiritual certainty returned.  His convictions were reconstituted into a set of sharp, focused reasoning’s that had eluded for so long. Tranquil subsidence and contentment seeped into him.  He began his ascent, like a glider released and tossed upon the thermals of his imagination. He was one with his soul again.

He Loves it.

Part 4 – Durham Station

David stood on the platform of Durham Station. He had been told to wait on the Platform and Father Sidney would meet him there. The cold air was a treat. The train pulled away, the whine of the engines increasing as the power fed in. Other passengers scuttled past, hunched against the mid-winter coldness.

He was relieved to be off the train. The journey had been awkward, uncomfortable. But he knew that he could control it now. Needed to find where he could score in a few days time. Just a couple of times a week to be getting on with.

He had left Aquinas on the Carriage table and wondered momentarily who would pick the book up and whether they would have the mental capacity to understand the learning’s contained within its hallowed covers. He did not really care.

The heroin made him feel good about himself and knew that his spiritual awakening leaned more in this direction rather than the teachings of a medieval scribe. He could manage his addiction to assist his spiritual growth.

He felt happy but also felt himself a liar. But he would live with these contradictions. Life is about choices.

A man walked towards him. He was in his fifties and wore a heavy wool overcoat. He was a heavyset and walked with a certainty of purpose. He waved towards David, who assuming this to be Father Sidney, his chaperone walked towards him.

They smiled at each other and shook hands. “Father David!”  Sidney beamed. His grip was firm. Perhaps a touch too firm David thought. He looked familiar, but David couldn’t place him.

“Good Trip?”

“Yes, thanks,” David replied, “I don’t mean to be rude, but have we met somewhere before?”

“A few months ago. I was the one who found you.”

“Oh. I see.” Even in the cold of the winter’s night David felt himself flush.

“Don’t be embarrassed,” Sidney said, “We all have the ability to err. It is our ability to admit our failures and overcome them that mark us out as Human. Besides, Father Stephen tells me he has every confidence in you making a full recovery and he is the best judge of character I know. He is impressed with your strength of purpose. But, we’d better hurry. I haven’t bought a ticket for the car park.”

They arrived at the car and got in. The bitter cold was painful and David was glad to be inside once again.

“Did Father Stephen have a letter for me?” Sidney asked.

“Oh yes. Sorry. I forgot.” David reached into his jacket and handed Sidney the letter. He opened it and read, humming “Welcome Home” as he did so. He folded the letter, returned it to the envelope and threw it on the dashboard.

“Just the instructions for your time with us here. You’ve had a long day, so we will do the first blood test tomorrow. Nothing to worry about.”


He had forgotten.

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Thanks for all the positive feedback on the story. You’ll be pleased to know that this is the last instalment.

If this is your first visit, welcome! and  you will need to have read the other Chapters to have any idea what is going on. So;

You can read Part 1 here

You can read Part 2 here

You can read Part 3 here

Enjoy Part 4 – Durham Station

David stood on the platform of Durham Station. He had been told to wait on the Platform and Father Sidney would meet him there. The cold air was a treat. The train pulled away, the whine of the engines increasing as the power fed in. Other passengers scuttled past, hunched against the mid-winter coldness.

He was relieved to be off the train. The journey had been awkward, uncomfortable. But he knew that he could control it now. Needed to find where he could score in a few days time. Just a couple of times a week to be getting on with.

He had left Aquinas on the Carriage table and wondered momentarily who would pick the book up and whether they would have the mental capacity to understand the learning’s contained within its hallowed covers. He did not really care.

The heroin made him feel good about himself and knew that his spiritual awakening leaned more in this direction rather than the teachings of a medieval scribe. He could manage his addiction to assist his spiritual growth.

He felt happy but also felt himself a liar. But he would live with these contradictions. Life is about choices.

A man walked towards him. He was in his fifties and wore a heavy wool overcoat. He was a heavyset and walked with a certainty of purpose. He waved towards David, who assuming this to be Father Sidney, his chaperone walked towards him.

They smiled at each other and shook hands. “Father David!”  Sidney beamed. His grip was firm. Perhaps a touch too firm David thought. He looked familiar, but David couldn’t place him.

“Good Trip?”

“Yes, thanks,” David replied, “I don’t mean to be rude, but have we met somewhere before?”

“A few months ago. I was the one who found you.”

“Oh. I see.” Even in the cold of the winter’s night David felt himself flush.

“Don’t be embarrassed,” Sidney said, “We all have the ability to err. It is our ability to admit our failures and overcome them that mark us out as Human. Besides, Father Stephen tells me he has every confidence in you making a full recovery and he is the best judge of character I know. He is impressed with your strength of purpose. But, we’d better hurry. I haven’t bought a ticket for the car park.”

They arrived at the car and got in. The bitter cold was painful and David was glad to be inside once again.

“Did Father Stephen have a letter for me?” Sidney asked.

“Oh yes. Sorry. I forgot.” David reached into his jacket and handed Sidney the letter. He opened it and read, humming “Welcome Home” as he did so. He folded the letter, returned it to the envelope and threw it on the dashboard.

“Just the instructions for your time with us here. You’ve had a long day, so we will do the first blood test tomorrow. Nothing to worry about.”


He had forgotten.

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