Some said his name was Erns, and others that it was Orin. No one actually knew, nor did they ask him. But, day after day, he sat in the same seat in the tavern as life went on around him.
Now, don’t get the wrong impression. This was not some dark, brooding, hooded character sitting in a shadowed corner. He was actually a man of average proportions that sat at a central table with his back to the bar, and facing the door. He wore no armour, nor did he carry any visible weaponry.
Each day he would watch and listen to the interactions of others while never getting involved. He would have a glass of red wine, and eat a plate of stew everyday except Thirday and Fifthday when he would have cold mutton and mashed turnips. He would then nurse a tankard of ale until an hour before the bell. He would get up, tap a coin on the table, nod to the serving wench and leave.
Ernest, as that was his name, would walk silently home and light the lamp on the table next his bed. He would then remove his boots and sit before the waiting parchment and spin tales based upon his eavesdropping of the night. His yarns were known throughout the realm, though all imagined him to be some scholar in a lofty tower, or a noble in a stately home recounting his own past glories. Ernest was, however, the son of a waggoner He was asimple author: the observer of life, and the weaver of other’s saccounts into intricate stories that spoke to all. Ernest might have been quiet, but his message was heard by all.
One person’s trash is another’s treasure. This maxim is an undeniable truth in my life. In the early 1960’s, my mother called for me to investigate a strange object she could see in the yard. I went to see what it was with the expectation, as she had suggested, that it might be a turtle (tortoise). What it proved to be was a homemade Baba Looey which was made from a pre-printed fabric, cut and then suffed with what I later found to be ruined stockings. It was probably dropped there when the gargage collectors were emptying the neighbourhood bins [back then they emptied the metal cans into large burlap sheets and bundled them like Santa sacks to take them to the “garbage truck”]. It was, however, in my pre-school aged mind a present directly from God. My mom wasn’t keen, but the necessary washings and repairs were made and this little doll became my constant sleep companion at night, even continuing with me [albeit in my pillow case] into my teenage years. Later when i went into the forces and married it was kept safe in my parent’s home until I was nearly 60. Now the Hanna-Barbera superstar resides on my dressing table. Treasure is in the eye of the beholder.
It is said that the devil took the form of a serpent in the Garden of Eden, and that Lon Chaney was the man with a thousand faces, but both pale in comparison with Angie Ferris. She and she alone is the shape-shifter par excellence. She comes across all unassuming, and soon is ingraciated by whatever community she likes. Then she strikes.
Now, I have made her sound like a con artist or other felon, but the truth is that she is something even more damaging. She is a best friend stealer. That’s right, she will step right into the middle of a flurishing friendship then break it up, only to discard her new “bestie” for greener pastures and new conquests. What makes it worse is that she always leaves a rift of mistrust behind in the original friendship pair.
Angie is indeed a piece of work, and I can only imagine the damage she will leave behind when she gets to “big school” next year. Oh, didn’t I mention that Angie is eleven?
The corridors looked the same and the fact that the doors bore the names of the occupants rather than numbers didn’t help matters. Leon was fairly certain that he was on the seventeenth floor, though the ramp between eight and nine seemed a bit longer than he had expected. Might this therefore be the eighteenth? All he knew for sure was that the walls were blue and the floor tiles cream, unlike the adjoining hallway which was beige and green. How did he get himself into this? Surely he should but his losses and try to work his way back to the entrance. Mr K. Smith, Floor Seventeen – Orange was just going to have to go without his pizza. After all, was going to have to pay for it out of his own pocket anyway, it being at least fifteen minutes late. Hopefully Smith of 17- Orange didn’t order anchovies. Leon hated anchovies.
To have called Davie Cook average would a complement. Most people saw him as a light weight with his only true potential being the ability to fill a position until someone more dynamic or at least useful could be found. It was precisely in that capacity that the company kept him on, and after sixteen years they were finding it difficult to justify keeping him. Certainly, new hires would be a cheaper way to get Davie’s menial functions completed.
It was a frosty February morning when Cook arrived at the mail room in the basement of the corporate headquarters. It was nine a.m. sharp and most employees were just settling into their desks. Davie was about to begin his rounds of emptying “out baskets” on the upper floors in order to have the out-going post franked and ready for the early collection at 10:15, when four masked gunmen burst into the lobby and took out the security guard and two receptionists.
The intruders quickly secured the front doors with a bicycle chain and took the security pass from the body of the guard. They then locked the surviving receptionist into a closet and headed upstairs. One of the masked men headed to the IT room and quickly disabled the company’s main servers. The others burst onto the office floors and ordered everyone to throw their phones into a pile before herding them into conference rooms.
Davie hearing the shots crept up the access stairway to find the dead security man and the two severely wounded receptionists. He administered some medical care that he had learned during his brief stint as the company first aider, and then returned to the basement where he retrieved a bolt cutter from a utility closet he had used while on the maintenance team. He then returned to the lobby and cutting the lock from the doors he dragged the two injured employees to safety, before getting a passer by to call the authorities. He then returned to the building and freed the remaining receptionist who ran to safety outdoors.
Davie then went to the back up CCTV monitor he knew of from his time as a company night watchmen, and using his mobile phone contacted the police himself and gave a detailed description of the situation, and clear instructions of the access points to the building, and little known avenues of approach he had learned as a janitor, and health and safety monitor for the firm.
It did not take long for the SWAT team to secure the premises and free the hostages with the “light weight’s” aid.
Wanda had always wondered why there was a rule that no one, under any circumstance, could ever go into Granny Hall’s attic. It had really irked her to be forbidden from doing something without as much as an explanation as to why.
Well today was her chance. Mum had taken Granny to the hospital and Wanda was allowed to stay at Granny’s place to water the plants and feed Boris, the beagle.
Once the car had left, she slowly went to the attic stair door and tried the handle. It was unlocked, but the door creaked loudly as she pulled it open. She ascended the stair to spy an empty attic. Well not exactly empty as there were a few letters, and other papers, as well as a small box seemingly glued to the ceiling. As she stepped into the space she was suddenly swept upwards, as if the gravity of the room was reversed.
She struck the ceiling with considerable force, and it took her a moment to catch her breath and weigh the situation. She was being drawn to the ceiling as if it were the floor. It was then that she noted that one of the letters on the ceiling was addressed to her grandmother by her maiden-name: Emily Newton. There seemed to be more to her heritage than she suspected, and a family secret that she was yet to learn.
Private Jordan Hudson sharpened his knife and dreamed of glory. Ever since basic training he knew he was destined for greatness. He was prepared to sacrifice all to prove his dedication and skill. No mission was going to be beyond his ability to complete. No foe greater than his ability to master.
“Hudson,” a harsh voice barked.
“Those potatoes aren’t going to peel themselves,” the mess sergeant scolded. “You better be getting on with it.”