moderately interesting exercise; this is a word-count of the books I’ve had published
under the pen-names of Nik Morton, Ross Morton, Robert Morton and Robin Moreton.
at Bethesda Falls – 34,500
Wears No Mask * - 96,000
Chance Saloon – 40,000
Prague Manuscript * - 84,000
Justice at Wedlock – 38,400
Tehran Transmission * - 90,900
$300 Man – 40.018
Kilimanjaro – 80,900
for a Ballot – 31,900
Guns – 37,250
is Another Life * - 81,200
Shoes and Medals (biog) – 38,300
a Western in 30 Days (nonfic) – 49,700
the Flowers are in Bloom (anthology) * - 39,900
of the Dragon Trees – 79,800
Eye - 51,900
Vengeance – 58,500
Magnificent Mendozas – 40,500
of the Overlord (due September) – 106,600
(due December) – 54,700
word-count, 1 million, 174 thousand, 950 words – since 2007. That’s not a lot
by the standards of many prolific authors. James Reasoner usually aims to write
that many words per year!
my published words in book format, of course. The actual word-count of books
produced (including those discarded, and those not published [yet]) will
doubtless add to another million.
writer some years back commented that you really need to write a million words
before you reach competency as an author. The search for the writer who said
that is an intriguing one, and may have been Ray Bradbury or John D. McDonald;
see this interesting article on the subject:
In a departure from the norm for our regular weekly slot, the
following ‘story’ hasn’t been published in this format before.
In 1995, I wrote a couple of novellas featuring a nun, Sister
Hannah – A Sign of Grace and Silenced in Darkness. Prior to joining
the order of nuns, she’d been a cop in New York. The mother house was situated
in Stockbridge – of Norman Rockwell fame. Silenced in Darkness was written in a day and was a runner-up in the One Day Novel Writing Competition, 1995.
Some years later, while responding to a writers’ circle
prompt - My life’s most important work – I decided to incorporate something
about Sister Hannah, extracted in letter format from the fledgling novel. (These scenes do not appear in the two novellas, only the novel).
novel eventually transmogrified from its setting in the US to UK, swapping Sister
Hannah for Sister Rose, and exchanging New York and Charleston, South Carolina with Newcastle
Upon Tyne and London! I also changed it from third person to first person.
Quite a rewrite, really. The first chapters of the new version won the Harry Bowling prize in 2006.
I hope it’s of interest, anyway.
Dear Reverend Mother,
I appreciate you asking me to send
you an epistle from time to time.I’m
only sorry that there is so little time to spare here to write more regularly. I
hope the snows are not too severe at Stockbridge.Of course I miss the other sisters at the
Mother House, but I console myself with the thought that each day I am doing my
life’s most important work.
It is strange, how before I took
the veil I thought having children would be the most important work in my life,
to nurture them and to teach them responsibility and the wonders of the world
all around them.But sadly after that
terrible experience while I was a cop, I was never destined to become
pregnant.If I wanted to have children,
then they would be adopted, and there, on reflection, I have been blessed.
we novices were sent out to our various missions, I was apprehensive about
coming to Peru.It’s so unlike the life I was used to.Still, the months I’ve spent here may have
been harrowing yet they have also been most enriching.
I worked hard and long,
in the mud, in the rain, in the strength-sapping heat and in the mind-numbing
the hot months I wore the white cotton habit, and in the cold the black serge.
I endured the bites of mites and lice and more than once had to dig out fleas
that burrowed under my toenails to lay their eggs.
the first few weeks I wondered how Saint Francis Solano, a seventeenth century
Andalusian priest, survived twenty years among the Indians and Spanish
colonists. Like him, I learned a number of Indian dialects, but was never going
to be in his league - the possessor of a ‘supernatural gift of tongues’.
first, too, I never thought I’d become accustomed to the variety of unpleasant
smells: burned grease, onions, smoke, and mildew, body odour, faeces and
urine.The comb of eucalyptus trees,
planted to break the tearing Andean winds, offered some relief.
Colette - named after the fourteenth century nun, not the French writer - was
the Mother Superior of the mountain-side white-washed adobe mission.She was frail of body but strong in spirit;
she was untiring, wise and full of good humour.
of my white habit rolled up, I hoed the hard sun-baked red earth.
me worked four villagers, all resplendent in their bright coloured clothes,
weathered faces creased by their harsh existence in the mountains.
a moment, I paused and straightened up to massage my lower back.The secret was to stop frequently, to change
the body's position.
mountains were glorious at this time of year. Purples and rich greens, cleft
with mauve shadows, surrounded by white fleecy clouds and brilliant blue
sky.And the air I gulped in was a heady
concoction, delightful, filling my chest with a fresh invigorating tang.I felt I could almost touch the sky from here
- or even God.
the training at Stockbridge hadn't prepared me for the real thing: nothing
could.For the hard work, the dirt and
smells were all mitigated by the generosity of spirit these native people
exhibited.Their loyalty and innocent
humour carried me through many a mood-swing - as did prayer, of course.
that I had adapted I found it difficult to recall my existence before coming
here: the time at Stockbridge and in New
York seemed a very distant memory, almost a
I came to this mountainside village as a novice, my hands had hardened so no
longer broke out in blisters. Occasionally, a stray vain thought made me wonder
if I would ever be rid of the calluses.But time will heal, I reminded herself.Time was already building a fresh veneer over my New York trauma and tragedy.Thankfully, the nightmares were less
called from the tall trees that skirted the field.The sowing would have to be carefully done if
those sinister birds were not to enjoy a free lunch!
the terraced fields were finally flush with maize, I sat in the warm breeze on
an outcrop and experienced a pleasant glow of satisfaction.The crop was good for a change.
don't think God will mind you feeling pleased with yourself, Sister,’ said
Mother Superior gently.
I stood up and turned.
Colette was smiling.‘Yes, indeed, my
dear.In the fields of the Lord, truly it
is a labour of love.’
months later, during an abortive attack by four Shining Path terrorists, the
old lady was fatally wounded.
Isaiah, Therefore have I set my face like
a flint, I stoically buried Sister Colette while the nasal five-note songs
of the Andean Indians - in Spanish - echoed the loneliness of their bleak
mountain country and the lostness of a people stripped and despoiled.
the aid of the villagers and a little cunning, we beat off the next assault
and, surprisingly, thereafter came to arrange an uneasy truce with the
terrorists. For the remaining eight months until a relief arrived, I was in
charge of the mission.
that time I was strengthened by my own faith and the people's belief in my
ability; I bargained with and cajoled the authorities to get medicines and to
protect the villagers' meagre lands; and I taught the children.
stands of trees, palm and banana, often shrouded by vines and air plants,
presented a gorgeous natural cathedral for our prayers.I will always be able to picture the
villagers milling around the huge boles of those trees, their heads bowed, the
men in their wool ponchos and the women in their heavy shawls, the bright
colors of their clothing vying with that of the lush flora.
the time comes for me to depart - the people from all around have already
pleaded for me to stay - I know I will be truly reluctant to go.But Obedience decrees that I must.
must close now, the children are asking for their history lessons.They have such a thirst for knowledge.It’s wonderful.
God be with you,
novel became Pain Wears No Mask and was
published in 2007; it is now out of print.
If you liked
this, you might like the first person narrative in Spanish Eye, published by Crooked Cat. Leon Cazador,
private eye, half-English, half-Spanish, ‘in his own words’.
P J Tracy is a mother and daughter writing team, Patricia
and Traci Lambrecht, the authors of this debut novel (2003). To avoid awkward
sentences I’ll refer to them as one author. The title of this book in the US is
has a marvellous grasp of crackling dialogue, some great characters and some
very moving scenes. Set in Minneapolis,
it introduces us to Grace MacBride, a beautiful yet strangely damaged
games-creator and local detectives Magozzi and Rolseth.
Grace discovers that two recent murders are exact copies of
those in a game she’s designing – the prototype is already out there on the
web.And as the game has twenty
differing levels, that’s a total of twenty murders.The trouble is, she and her computer-whiz
team are also in the frame for the murders.Her company was called Monkeewrench – which was the book’s title in the US.
Somebody from their past seems to be putting a spanner in
their company’s works – but it’s something Grace and the team won’t talk
about.Whatever it was, now Grace never
goes anywhere without carrying a weapon, preferably two.
But the stars of the books are undoubtedly Leo Magozzi and
Gino Rolseth.The detectives’ banter and
slant on life make for some great laughs and also some sombre moments. The cops
are dedicated and cool and sound real; whether that’s Chief Malcherson (who
wears a suit to reflect the mood) or several essential patrolmen, they all have
a distinctive voice and attitude to life.Grace’s team have aliases – Roadrunner, Harley Davidson and so on - and
according to traceable records they didn’t exist prior to ten years ago.
Somehow the Monkeewrench game copycat murders seem linked to
the death of an old couple in the church of a little Wisconsin
town. It needs patient detective work
and Grace’s computer wizardry to get to the bottom of the case – before the
deaths mount up into double figures.The
ending is fast-paced and poignant.
Due to her traumatic past, Grace hasn’t allowed anyone close
to her for over ten years.So Magozzi’s
relationship with her is tentative at best, but he can’t resist her.He too is one of the walking wounded, a
Powerful writing when it comes to death and loss and
There will be confusion about this book’s title and some other
P.J. Tracy books.
The titles are:
Live Bait (2004)
Dead Run (2005) Snow Blind (2006) Shoot to Thrill
(UK title, Play to Kill) (2010) Off the Grid (UK
title, Two Evils) (2012)
number of prisoners in Spanish jails is an illuminating indicator of the types
of criminals detected in the peninsula.
Police handcuffs - Wikipedia commons
to the Interior Ministry’s annual report, the numbers incarcerated has fallen
in the past five years by 22 percent. There were 76,079 in 2009 and in 2013
there were 66,765. Why this has happened is a moot point, perhaps: either
people are more law-abiding, or they aren’t being caught or the judges are more
in three prisoners in Spanish jails is a foreigner, a quarter of them from
Morocco (5,773), followed in this nefarious league table by individuals from
Romania (2,275), Colombia (2,257) and Ecuador (1,555) out of a total number of
thirty countries being represented behind bars.
3,707 people are in prison for homicide or murder, of which 255 are women. The
number serving time for crimes against sexual freedom are 3,087 and for
domestic violence there are 3,937.
jailed for terrorism amount to 494 people (61 of them women) and of these 41
belonged to ETA and 42 were allied to Islamic terrorist organisations.
houses the most prisoners (15,190), with Cataluna imprisoning 9,797 and Madrid
While all crime is of concern, because there are always victims, some crimes highlighted here seem particularly worrying - the murders and the terrorist elements in particular.
Domestic violence has risen in recent years - again, this could be as a result of a change in the reporting of the incidents, the success of the prosecution or more public awareness.
Crimes against sexual freedom can be construed as child sexual abuse, adolescent and dependent individual sexual abuse, homosexual actions with minors and prostitution of minors. Recent reports in the news (Rotherham, UK) suggest that this appalling type of offence is more prevalent than thought.
second novel in the ‘Avenging Cat’ series for Crooked Cat Publishing, to follow Catalyst (due for release probably this December), is entitled Catacomb. I’m working on it now. Quite a
fair bit of the story takes place in Morocco.
are a couple of snippets of current news from that country.
a continuing and unrelenting surge of migrants seeking access to Europe. One of
the potential conduits is through the two Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta
in North Africa. Both enclaves have a border with Morocco.Although Morocco gained its independence in
1956, Spain claims a historical right to these two enclaves. Oddly, Spain does
not recognise any such historical British right to control Gibraltar.
over a week ago, migrants made seven attempts to rush the fence in the span of
four days. After two months of relative calm, about 1,500 migrants tried to
cross the border into Melilla; some eighty managed to make it past the six-metre
(20ft) razor-wire border fence, but were later apprehended.
authorities have raided makeshift camps, mostly while the ‘residents’ are
sleeping. Everything was flattened or destroyed – plastic tents, food and spare
clothing. Hundreds of migrants were put on buses to Fez and Rabat. Apparently,
they are then abandoned in the street and end up begging for money to return to
another report, human rights individuals claim the Spanish police have beaten
migrants and illegally forced them back into Morocco when they tried to climb
over the border into Melilla. They’re called ‘illegal pushbacks’ and ‘illegal
expulsions’ of ‘migrants’.
usually possess documentation, to prove identity, for example. Some potential
immigrants go so far as to erase fingerprints or destroy ID documents. The pressure
has been mounting for years in this area – people trying to reach Europe to
escape war, oppression or hardship in the benighted continent; though latterly,
there may be other less humanitarian reasons to infiltrate into Europe.
the other side of the coin, Spanish government officials have praised the ‘exemplary
and humanitarian conduct’ of the border guards and also admit there is ‘dramatic
migratory pressure’ on Europe’s borders.
the meantime, if you’d like to read one of my other books, these are available
from Crooked Cat Publishing http://crookedcatpublishing.com/ - or a number of outlets, viz:
I've just seen the latest edition of a local weekly newspaper, The Coastrider and was very pleased to see a review of my book Sudden Vengeance (published by Crooked Cat). Here is the full review, below (click on the image and the text should be legible).
I particularly liked the phrasing 'Sudden Vengeance is one of those books that is difficult to put down but is unsettling at the same time.' Because the subject does tend to be a controversial issue, especially in recent times.
Please drop by. Catriona's eighth Craig crime novel is out in November from Crooked Cat, and her ninth in the spring, 2015. The latest (7th) is The Coercion Key and readers don't need to be coerced to buy it, they're doing so in droves already. Join the queue of admirers!
DI Craig crime series: A Limited Justice The Grass Tattoo The Visitor The Waiting Room The Broken Shore The Slowest Cut The Coercion Key The Careless Word (coming November 2014) The History Suite (coming 2015)
immigrants are never far from the news reports these days. The conflict in the
Middle East and North Africa contribute to the vast numbers of stateless
persons, but there are those who have travelled from as far off as Afghanistan.
The tide, it seems, barely can be stemmed. The perceived attractions of Europe
beckon. The tragedy is that so many individuals are duped into taking the risk
of entering another country illegally – and the risk is great. They part with
large sums of money, believing the traffickers will settle them incognito in
another land where financial benefits can be obtained. The stark truth is
different, of course: the illegals will end up dead in transit, or as virtual
slaves on arrival.
a few years now, Spain has deployed a sophisticated radar system that tracks
illegal boat people. As recent as last week, some 1,219 crossed the Straits of
Gibraltar in 125 boats – and that was in just 72 hours. Of this number, 98 were
women and 30 were children. They were taken to the Tarifa sports centre for Red
Cross medical checks; this venue is being used as the local immigration
temporary holding centre is already full.
is a build-up along the coast of Tangier of people seeking a means to cross the
Straits – despite Morocco’s attempts at seizing them; it was even reported that
the numbers were so great that the authorities turned a blind eye for 48 hours
in order to reduce the numbers!
on the Costa Blanca last week three boats were intercepted, holding 13 adults
and six children, Moroccans or Algerians. Usually, after medical checks – the
main problem is dehydration – they are sent to centres for internment of
foreigners in Murcia or Valencia. The children are sent to a child protection
course, besides the increased load on receiving countries’ infrastructure –
hospitals, schools, police – there is the very real concern that among these
illegal immigrants may be individuals intent on doing great harm; and latterly,
there is now the concern over the spread of the dreaded Ebola disease.
short story ‘Adopted Country’ touches on this subject:
was a motley collection of humanity: pregnant women with hypothermia, children
whose ribcages were visible through the taut skin, and once-strong lithe men
with exhausted faces and wary eyes. A short distance, but often a treacherous
journey. Even though they were staring down the barrels of guns, these were the
lucky ones. Countless people died making the crossing every year. Desperation
my country’s agreement with Morocco and the erection of barbed wire along the
common border, it is now virtually impossible to enter Spain through the Ceuta
route. So thousands go further along the North African coast and pay their
entire savings to board any old boat that will sail for Tarifa or some other
beach along the southern coast of Spain. Thousands even attempt the seven
hundred mile crossing to the Canary Islands, and many more perish in the
Spanish Eye, p27.
the beginning of my novel Blood of the Dragon
Trees shows the arrival of a boat-load of illegal immigrants – and later
reveals the consequences they face:
His face shaded by a Norfolk hat, Andrew Kirby
studied the crowd of holidaymakers and locals gathered on the edge of the Los
Cristianos dockside, opposite the many expensive yachts and luxury cruisers. A
few tourists pointed digital cameras and camcorders.
him – on the official side of an area cordoned-off by police tape – stood
Lieutenant Vargas. Beneath his olive green cap, Vargas’s dark eyes scanned the
area from behind designer sunglasses. Vargas gestured at the beach. ‘As
you can see, Mr Kirby, I have my hands full these days.’ He spoke in English as
Kirby had confessed his Spanish wasn’t too good.
‘Yes, I can see
only too well,’ Kirby replied. Tall, blond, tanned and dressed in khaki shirt
and shorts, Kirby felt rather unkempt next to Vargas, who was immaculate in his
avocado green uniform with its two gold star shoulder-flashes. Vargas had thick lips, a prominent chin and slightly
protruding ears. He exuded competence and authority.
Kirby looked out to sea. Offshore, the
twin diesels of the Guardia Civil boat Rio Palma purred, perhaps
reflecting the satisfaction of its crew.
African illegal immigrants were being helped ashore from their dilapidated
30ft-long open boat. The immigrants struggled to stand, their legs unused to
firm ground after a seven hundred mile sea journey. Policemen wore protective
facemasks and paper bodysuits and, with practiced ease, they stripped the
Africans of their filthy clothing and dressed them in garish shell-suits and
flip-flops. A mobile field hospital was drawn up on the dockside. Ambulances
started ferrying the few who were being brought ashore on stretchers.
handful of onlookers moved closer then hastily backed off, their faces
revealing disgust and shock.
just seen and smelled death,’ Vargas said, eyeing Kirby. ‘Coastguard radioed
there were two dead still onboard – five had been thrown into the sea two days
ago. Already this year, we’ve handled over two thousand of these boat people –
though perhaps that same number perished at sea also.’
‘They seek a
better life. Instead, they die at sea or end up for weeks in our internment
center at Las Raíces, which is already over-subscribed.’ - pp10/11
David Clement, the Transport Minister, offered his best
politician's smile – a bit toothy yet still attractive. Sympathetic, but
strictly provisional. He stepped out to face the protesters, staff, press and
curious guests in the hotel lobby. A dark-haired bearded man in a red anorak
launched into an angry tirade and David overheard Mason from The Mirror comment about ‘red rags and
bull’ but he bit back a retort and kept calm this time. David’s outburst about
speeding in built-up areas last week had made the front pages. His tenuous lead
in the pre-election polls suggested he should be more prudent as the majority
of voters drove cars and were disenchanted with the law-abiding majority being
tarred with the same brush as the reckless minority. So instead he made
mollifying sounds and absently took the offered bulging document wallet off the
man. ‘I’ll see what I can do,’ he said. His eyes hardly lingered on the irate
petitioner but peered over the man’s shoulder, drawn to the blonde woman
carrying another bundle of petitions.
saying something about the need to curb speeding on the road that passed her
house. The road's name rang a vague bell, but he wasn't listening properly
because he was mesmerised by her startling light blue eyes.
an earnestness in her gentle voice, with none of the usual rude shrill of
self-interest groups he normally faced. She was luminous. There was no other
word to describe her. Classic oval face, high cheek-bones, an alabaster
complexion, and those glorious big eyes - emphasised by her smart ivory-white
jacket and long pleated skirt. She didn’t seem to be the standard bimbo some
groups wheeled out to draw the attention of the television cameras to grab
extra sound-bites for their cause.
hubbub, the shouts of "Over here, Mr. Clement!" and flash-cameras
firing, he whispered, "What did you say your name was?"
but now she said, "Sade Revenant," pronouncing it sh-ar-day reven-awn.
like the singer? What was the song?"
her answer as they were jostled apart but he caught her charming smile, cheeks
minutes later after fielding further questions on the sorry state of the
railways, he pushed through the crowd towards Sade. "I'll talk about your
petition," he whispered, "but it's too public here - meet me at the
Trattoria - ."
elated at this rash decision, he offered the usual bromides to everybody else
then strode off with his secretary Joan trailing behind with his bulging
pleased with himself. At this morning's Party Conference he roundly castigated
every transport minister since the invention of the car, bemoaning the lack of
political will over increased traffic pollution, fast cars and over-weight
juggernauts. He condemned the easy-option money-grabbing speed-traps, arguing
for sensible policing instead. The public loved it, which was more than could
be said of his fellow MPs, who were probably jealous of his current popularity.
Yet his rational side kept reminding himself: you'll be a ten-minute-wonder,
Sade sat in a corner booth. Beside her he felt positively
dowdy in his cavalry twill suit.
"No."She eyed the pile of petitions beside her on
the bench seat. "I'm not hungry."
"Oh."He tried to hide the crestfallen look on his
face. On the way he had fantasised that she might be attracted to him. Few
women were, he reminded himself, so why should she be any different? He was
considerably older than her and now at that vulnerable age where his paunch
threatened to shorten his life if he didn’t cut down on the alcohol and
Her glance at the petitions
reminded him of her purpose. She’d make a good politician, he thought.
you want to arrange a photographer?" he asked.
She looked askance at him.
the papers - you handing me the petition?" He smiled. "I won't
mind..." he ended feebly.
thank you. Just take them when you go, if that's all right, Mr. Clement."
Clearly, I was being too cynical. She just wants me to take the petitions. No
ulterior motive... “I won't forget them, Miss Revenant. Is that a French
be. Call me Sade. Please."
suddenly raced. "Sade," he repeated stupidly. Then, after faltering
for a second, he managed, "You can call me Dave."
she said, shaking her head.
His heart sank.
"I rather like David. It
from ear to ear. "Can I tempt you with a coffee, some dessert? It's
awfully good, their Death by Chocolate!" So much for the paunch...
words she lowered her eyes and for a fleeting second colour suffused her
alabaster cheeks. "No, thank you. Adam's ale will be fine."
Oh, yes - water." He ordered a Perrier and a glass of orange and tonic,
reluctantly forgoing the gin.Must lose
weight, he chided himself and tried not to pull a face when he tasted the
non-alcoholic drink. No gain without pain.
Ordinary Love,” she said out of the blue.
of course. I didn’t know if you’d heard.”
David. Do you, though?”
himself flushing under her direct scrutiny. “I try, but sometimes... well, you
know how it is...”
sympathise, David. Truly.”
truly. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”
warmed to her. She got a divorce five years ago when her daughter Rachel was
two. She really seemed to enjoy his few anecdotes about the Corridors of Power.
She'd read many of the books he'd enjoyed – including C P Snow’s monumental
series - and disliked the same violent, foul-mouthed films he detested.
petition was to reduce the speeding throughout the county, she explained, not
just her road.
Guiltily he recalled Sade's first
letter - some six months back. He'd asked Joan to spike it with the others, all
doubtless well-intentioned but too demanding on his precious time. He’d wanted
to steer clear of controversy – until today’s Party Conference, when it seemed
as though he was inspired, perhaps subconsciously recalling those spiked pleas.
She talked about her daughter – a
friend was watching over her tonight, she explained.
The place was closing when he
said he wanted to see her again.
Only too aware how intrusive the
press could be, he suggested meeting Sade in a quiet restaurant but she turned
him down. “Oh,” he said.
go to the park.”
public, he thought, but shook hands on it – hers was cool and light.
As he waved
her off in the taxi, David suddenly realised that for the first time in his
life he was in love. The fact that at fifty-two he was at least fifteen years
her senior didn't matter. Amazingly, the attraction seemed mutual.
She was waiting for him by the lake, kneeling beside a girl
of about seven with the same hair and complexion. He hailed Sade.
David!” she stood, hand on the girl’s shoulder. “This is Rachel.”
He knelt on
one knee and shook the girl’s cool gentle hand. “Pleased to meet you,” he said.
Mr. Clement. Would you like to feed the ducks with me?” she asked, offering him
a paper bag filled with pieces of bread.
an idyllic hour strolling by the lake, watching the ducks, geese and pelicans.
They were walking along Birdcage Walk when Rachel surprised him by saying, “I’m
glad they let all the birds go.”
confusion, Sade laughed.“Rachel’s
talking about Charles II putting an aviary along the edge here.”
Hence the street’s name. Silly of me,” he allowed. “I agree, Rachel, it’s much
better to see the birds flying free...”
fly into the sky!” Rachel giggled.
would you like to do when you grow up, then? Be an airline pilot, flying like
she mumbled, turning serious.
you. An honourable profession, teaching.” He ignored the little girl’s puzzled
look and left them in the park to get back to work.
David discovered how empty his life seemed before he met
Sade and her daughter.Although he was
attracted to Sade, it wasn’t merely sexual chemistry. He’d had plenty of
dalliances – discreet but short-lived, but this was something quite different.
secretary Joan found him at his desk one morning, pleased with himself. "I
think this'll make a perfectly smooth and hopefully speedy journey through the House." He handed her the scribbled
Private Member's Bill.
done the poor lady proud, sir." Sitting at her computer desk, Joan smiled
sadly. "A fitting memorial to them."
lurched. "What are you talking about?"
came tumbling out. About six months ago, a week after writing her plea to him,
Sade and her daughter Rachel were hit by a speeding car and killed in her road.
but that's not possible!"He
clutched at a straw. “What did you say her name was?”
a sigh of relief and felt his heart start again. “That’s not her, then. Same
first name, I grant you, but my Sade is called Revenant.”
petitioner I met.”Who also happened to
have a daughter called Rachel.
is a strange name, isn’t it?It sounds
French to me,” Joan observed while accessing an Internet search engine.
said that too.”
chilly sensation skittered down his spine. He glanced over her shoulder. The
definition was quite clear: A person who
has returned, esp. supposedly from the dead.
joked his way out of the discussion. Must be a mistake.
but Sade never kept any of their usual appointments.
by himself in the lonely apartment, in his heart he knew the truth of it. The
cool touch of her hand. Always dressed in white. Her open-eyed innocence, her
tinkling laugh, her loving smile... And Rachel’s behaviour made weird sense
too. She hadn’t wanted to teach. She meant her future was academic now, because
she didn’t have one...
eerie force of will Sade had shown him, ever so eloquently, what she and her
daughter had missed through being killed by a thoughtless driver - love,
laughter, tenderness, the enriching of other people's lives by their very
presence. All swept away. But, he vowed, not forgotten.
loved her and would strive to his dying day to make the roads safer.
curved in the ghost of a smile. Like the song said, this was no ordinary love.
in The New Coastal Press, 2010.
Copyright Nik Morton,
you liked this story, you might like my collection of crime tales, Spanish Eye, published by Crooked Cat, which
features 22 cases from Leon Cazador, private eye, ‘in his own words’.He is also featured in the story
‘Processionary Penitents’ in the Crooked Cat Collection of twenty tales, Crooked Cats’ Tales.
Spanish Eye, released by Crooked Cat Publishing is available as a paperback and as