Tuesday, 7 April 2020


Meanwhile, in the mid-sized city in the Pacific Northwest, Detective Lieutenant Milton Frobisher studied the autopsy report of an Uber driver who had been run over by a light rail vehicle. The cause of death was about what you would expect: run over by a train. The ME had, however, found one curious fact that didn’t fit with the other injuries - a small indentation behind the vic’s left ear, containing trace amounts of a blackish substance. The incongruously attractive science nerds of the Mid-Size City crime lab were currently trying to identify the substance.
Frobisher had checked with Uber to see who the driver’s last passenger had been - the one who had apparently shoved him out of his car and sped away. That’s when things got weird. The last trip the driver had logged was a routine trip - a regular customer had been taken from her home to her place of work. Then...nothing. All records of his work after that moment had simply vanished, along with the OnStar data for the car.

The phone on Frobisher’s desk rang. The patrolman on the switchboard said, “Lieutenant, I have a missing person’s report. I think it might be related to your Uber case.” Frobisher took the address of the reporting party. It was near the scene of the “accident”.

When he arrived at the address - a cheap apartment building - he was greeted at the door by a dowdy middle-aged woman with a thick, unidentifiable eastern European accent. She was decked out in a frowsy bathrobe of indeterminate color, and pink bunny slippers. She had curlers on her head, but her flaming red “hair” was obviously a wig. Frobisher could see her wispy, grey real hair sticking out from under the edges of the scarlet nightmare.

The woman identified herself as Svetlana...something. He asked her several times to repeat it, but couldn’t understand her. Finally he handed her his notepad and pen and asked her to write it herself. When she handed back the pad (but not his pen, he realized later), she had written it in Cyrillic letters. Oh, well, he thought. I’ll just get it translated later.

After considerable difficulty, Frobisher was able to gather that Ms. Whatever had called because one of her tenants - known to her as Rennington Hightower - had vanished without a trace, owing rent money. When she showed him the apartment, it was completely bare. Frobisher said, “You say he was here just this morning? How could he move all his stuff out so quickly? He must have had stuff, right?” Ms. Whatever replied indignantly, “Of course he was having stuffs! You are the police man - you figure it out!”

Frobisher was about to call for a lab team to come go over the unit, when the lab called him. The head lab technician said, “Frobisher, we identified the substance in the Uber driver’s indentation. It’s from a banana.”

Frobisher felt his stomach churn. “Oh, no...not again”, he thought.


Douglas flew out of the front door nearly knocking Rennie off his feet.

"RUDE." Said Rennie, trying to regain his poise in the unfamiliar kitten heels that were pinching his toes; he then looked on in horror as Douglas stole his car, which had been idling on Iris's gravel driveway.

"STOP!!" Shouted Rennie, but Douglas was already speeding out of Frigwell Crescent.

Rennie slumped down on Iris's doorstep, put his head in his hands, and then slowly pulled off the Dolly Parton wig. Why oh why had he decided to come to England disguised as Nina Mishsochlopovkovni? Why hadn't he checked the passport before blindly selecting it from his collection? He could have been anyone. He could have been John Brown - business man and candle maker, or Chuck Hudson - a salesman with a penchant for liquorice allsorts, but no, he was now saddled with being Nina Mishsochlopovkovni.

Rennie had never been to England before, and he was finding it all rather grey and squashed. How did the Brits live in these tiny little houses built so close together? He was used to wide open spaces; mountains; big trees; volcanic activity; a large bed; and driving on the right side of the road. Rennie wished he'd stayed home and felt very sorry for himself. Douglas had driven off with all his documents; his jacket; his phone; and most importantly, his connection to SpodeChode. And where was Iris? Either Iris would do right now, even the Iris-bot would be useful.

Rennie kicked off the kitten heels, and without the wig he simply looked like a man in a dress who was rather upset and lost.

"PPSSSSSSTTTTTT, over here....... are you deaf or what??"

Rennie looked up and saw a blonde woman holding a large gun beckoning him towards her house.....

Monday, 6 April 2020

The Mystery of the Sticky-back Dildo.

Meanwhile, on a back road near Harwich...

The man formerly known as "Douglas Manning," husband of Annie, pulled his car off the road and took out his Swiss Army knife.

Using the thing-for -taking-stones-out-of-horses'- hooves, he prised the bulldog clips from his car's UK licence plates, revealing NL plates. (He wondered, briefly, if he should keep them...then decided that it was unlikely he would ever be sent back to England so he frisbee'd both plates over a hedge into a scruffy copse.)

He glanced at his watch.So far, so good. He'd make his 9am ferry and be in Holland mid-afternoon. Ish. He always allowed for an "ish" eventuality. Being caught up in a particularly nasty football crowd once that involved police from three countries had taught him to plan for such exigencies. But with no matches scheduled for today, he should be fine...

He drove onto the ferry, parked his car on the car deck and went up to the lounge for some breakfast.

Like all others in his "trade" he was a people-watcher. An essential in the craft, his trainers had always impressed upon him the importance of noticing and noting the small, silly details.

And what he was noticing today was the mother with two unruly children, stuffing sugary cakes into their fat faces. Manning's eyes searched the room for a First Aid station. Someone might need that today...

He finished his coffee and walked  across to the book stall. Six hours to fill and he didn't want to appear too different from other passengers so he idly browsed the titles on the book stand. A strange volume about the origins of Tarot cards caught his eye. Its cover was bordered with a triangular device that reminded him of that Swiss confectionary ...he flicked through the pages and was tempted to buy it, but his training had taught him never to carry something that might attract unwanted attention. The last thing he needed was some daffy old woman engaging him in a lengthy discussion of horoscopic predictions. He bought a Telegraph and settled with the crossword.

The crossing uneventful, they docked at Hoek on time and cleared  customs and Manning drove away from the dock, heading for a small, nondescript shop on a back street. Parking around a corner, he donned a pair of dark-framed glasses and a worn, dark blue beret and a gaberdine coat.

The man at the counter was reading a newspaper and barely looked up when the shop bell rang.

Manning said, glancing left and right, and leaning across the counter," I'd like some sticky-backed dildo, please."

The shop man sighed, put his paper aside and reached under the counter for a tray of items...

"No! Sorry! I mean, um, Velcro."

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Things on Chairs

 Cheryl cut some half-hearted shapes on the patio as she listened to "Smooth Criminal" for the umpteenth time on her ancient Walkman.  Michael Jackson she most definitely was not.  Neil Armstrong could have done better on the actual Moon in his full astronaut get-up!  But after squeezing Scarlet's glands, she wasn't convinced she could execute a proper Moonwalk without throwing up.  Besides, the tape was crinkled and distorted after having to be painstakingly unravelled from the Walkman's innards on more than one occasion, and the resulting sound distortion played havok with her inner ear which only made things worse.
 So intent was she on not vomming as she awkwardly stumbled around on the faux Yorkstone slabs, all the while trying to avoid the stinkeye from Scarlet at the far end of the garden, that she didn't notice the figure sidling up to her from behind the laurel...

 Iris took off her glasses with one hand, unpinned her severe bun with the other, then shook her head to release her long, dark hair.  It tumbled in waves around her shoulders and halfway down her back as, almost in slow motion, she stepped forward towards the lurching, zombie-like figure.
 "Oof!" she grunted as she recoiled from the impact with the whirligig washing line.  Iris put her glasses back on and flinched.
 "Hullo, Iris."  Cheryl had turned around and was facing Iris with a look on her face that, despite her slightly narrowed eyes, could only be described as gormless.  "Why are there two of you?"
 "What?"  Iris was momentarily flummoxed.  Had Cheryl been at Martharine's cooking sherry again?  The girl was so weird.
 "You're so weird, Iris" Cheryl said matter-of-factly.  "Are you the robot one?"
 "I...  Well...  You see..."  How did she know about the Irisbot?  No one knew about the Irisbot.  Well, except for all the people who knew about it, that is.  And Cheryl was most definitely not people!  Although, the fact that she did know made what Iris was about to say next easier.  "Cheryl, I need your help."
 "Um, no."
 "No?  What?"  The flummox came back to taunt Iris.
 "I've got to show Auntie Tina out.  Bye" Cheryl said, then turned and lumbered across the patio and back into the house.
 "But..."  Iris stood in the middle of the patio for a while before realising that she was on full view should Aubrey or Martharine look out of their dining room window.  Or if Douglas Manning decided to stop doing whatever it was he was doing with the Irisbot and look out of her bedroom window which overlooked the Stoads back garden.  She moved to the side of the house and lurked near the rubbish bins while she pondered her next move.  Who else could she get to help her who was weird enough not to be believed if they blabbed about it?  Her train of thought was derailed by Cheryl's voice coming from the front.  She was saying something about cat biscuits before the front door was slammed and Tina Cruet's distinctive harsh laugh rang out.
 "Hullo, Iris."
 "Eeep!"  Iris jumped, her heart in her mouth, along with a kidney and part of her small intestines.  How had Cheryl managed to sneak up on her?
 "I can help you now."

 Ten minutes later Iris and Cheryl stood in Douglas and Annie Manning's small but spotless study.  Well, it was spotless before Cheryl had walked flakes of dried mud - and possibly dog shit -  from her green, frog-eyed Wellington boots into the pale carpet.
 "She's not here" Cheryl pointed out.
 "She must have rescued herself"  Iris muttered, mainly to herself.  Annie Manning had always struck her as a resourceful, if brassy, woman. "She's not long gone though, as her computer is still warm to the touch."
 "Is it?"  Cheryl reached out impulsively for the computer and knocked over a small vase of past-their-prime flowers with her inelegant sausage-fingers instead.  "Oops."
 "Come on.  Let's go" urged Iris.  "I need to get something from my house before we can move to stage two."
 Cheryl slammed the door shut after them as they left the Mannings' house.  Neither of them heard the Geordie-accented male voice pleading for HP sauce and a new red felt-tip pen floating down from the attic...

 Five minutes after that in Iris's spacious but dark living room, made darker and more oppressive by the heavy wood beams that crossed the ceiling, Cheryl picked her nose as she slowly turned on the spot as if in a trance.
 "He's still upstairs!"  Iris hissed appearing from the hall.
 "Huh?"  Cheryl continued to turn with her finger up her lightly freckled, round nose.
 "I can't get to my boxes - Douglas Manning is still in my bedroom with the Irisbot!"
 "Huh?"  Cheryl finally withdrew her finger and, after examining the blob on the end, rolled it between her finger and thumb then flicked it off into the darkness.  Iris winced.
 Suddenly, the sound of car tyres aggressively driven on gravel cut through their whispering.  Iris narrowed her eyes in annoyance - Whoever they were had better not be churning up her driveway!  Then rapid footsteps filtered down from above their heads.  Douglas Manning was on the move.  And he was coming down the stairs!
 "Cheryl!  We've got to go!"  Iris bundled Cheryl towards the inglenook fireplace at the far end of the room.  A dull glint of gold amongst the dust on the wine-red carpet in the corner caught Iris's eye as she made a complicated gesture with her right hand.  At the side of the inglenook, an opening appeared.
 "Huh?" said Cheryl.
 "Go!" Iris pushed Cheryl into the door-sized hole and followed her through, the hole closing behind them.  "And wipe your feet."
 Inside, a long corridor stretched off into the distance - far too long to fit within the confines of the mansion, even though it was the largest house on Frigwell Crescent.  Iris began to walk briskly down it.
 Cheryl absentmindedly wiped her wellies on the roughly bristled doormat that lay beneath her as she looked at her surroundings.  The low-lit corridor was lined with ornately carved wooden chairs - a row on either side facing inwards, with a gap of about three metres between each chair.  As Cheryl slowly followed Iris, she noticed that every chair had something on it.  Most contained books of various descriptions: The Visitors by Sally Beauman, neue möbel 6 by Gerd Hatje, The Days Are Just Packed by Bill Watterson, Fucked-up Fondues by Delilah Smythe, to name but a few.  However, as she progessed, she also saw things other than books: a neatly folded towel, a small collection of sea glass, a spindle-shaped vial of irridescent blue liquid impossibly balanced on its tip, a pink fondant fancy, an old clay pot with mould growing inside it, a universe, a bottle of greed, and the most perfect, golden Ferrero Rocher she had ever seen.  Cheryl stopped to gawp at it.  It glimmered and sparkled with every slight turn of her head.  In fact, it practically glowed.
 "Come on, Cheryl!" Iris sounded quite stern.
 The Rocher spell broken, Cheryl trudged after Iris.

Friday, 3 April 2020

Breaking New!

Body of local man found in Frigwell Wood. Father and daughter helping police with their enquiries.


Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Life After Percy

Tina Cruet tottered up the garden path of her neighbours Aubrey and Martharine Stoad, her red high heel shoes scraping on the block paving as she went along. She stopped midway to admire the beautiful old laburnum tree that has graced the Stoads garden for many a year, with it's drooping clusters of yellow flowers billowing in the gentle summer breeze, the sight of it made Tina's heart leap with gay abandon. It was the only tree in the vicinity of the small cul-de-sac of semi detached houses, built in the 1920's by builders Burke and Hare.

Tina lives at the bottom of the bag but now thanks to her new status of widow comes ambition, to move to the very top of the cul-de-sac and by hook or by crook she was going to succeed or die trying. Whilst she was admiring it's lovely branches she happened to look pass the tree at the mock Tudor mansion opposite, the only detached property in the neighbourhood, 'If I lived there' thought Tina 'I could really Queen it over everyone'  In the bedroom window of the mock Tudor mansion almost hidden by a secret veil stood the profile of Iris Green the moral watch dog of Frigwell Crescent looking directly at Tina. Iris pulled back the net and locked eyes with the fleshpot trollop. Tina gasped as she saw to her horror two flashing blue lights emitting from Iris's eyes, than laughed remembering that the old bag wore jam jar glasses and was just the sun light reflecting off them. 

Tina turned her back on the nosy cow and continued her walk up the Stoads path, plucking her knickers out from between her arse cheeks, she rang the door bell.

She was greeted at the door by Martharine, a rabbity faced woman in her late 50s with a pudding bowl haircut. "Come in and go on through to the sitting room, Cheryl's in there with daddy, as you can hear by the noise, ha-ha! she's practising for Britain's Got Talent." Martharine had a peculiar and some might say unhealthy way of addressing her husband Aubrey as 'daddy'. Tina went through to the sitting room and sat down, father and daughter together facing the bay window playing to an imaginary audience, they didn't see Tina enter. Cheryl on the recorder was playing Go and Tell Aunt Nancy accompanied by her father on the armpit. 

The Stoads dog, Scarlet, a golden retriever came bounding up to Tina for a friendly pat on the head then quickly moved away to drag it's arse back and forth along the carpet and then began to yacht in a big circle, leaving her mark behind her. "Oh Cheryl love" said Martharine. "Take Scarlet to the kitchen, she needs her glands squeezing again, better still, take her outside, be gentle, you remember what happened last time? Martharine turned to her friend Tina and mouthed "There was shit everywhere" always eager to please her parents Cheryl with the same rabbity face as her mother and the same pudding bowl haircut trudged out of the room clutching Scarlet by the collar. "and when you finished you can make us all a nice cup of tea and a slice of that chocolate cake but before you go, what do you say to Tina?" Cheryl! whispered Martharine "Say something nice to Tina she has just cremated her husband". Cheryl looked at Tina, smiled and in a drone like voice said "Hello Auntie Tina, do you want to see my knickers?" Tina wondered why Cheryl always acted so weird, she never knew what she was going to do or come out with next, it's not as if she is still a child, she 28 for fucks sake.

Aubrey lifted up his brewer's goiter with one hand and scratched the purple hued skin beneath with his other and casually sniffed his fingers. He was a short, fat man with oily looking lips, black hair combed back and held in place with Brylcreem, he wore segs on the soles of his shoes. Tina stared intently at him, her eyes bored into his like tungsten carbide cylinder drill bits and he looked genuinely surprised when she broke into a seductive mien. Was it Martharine's imagination did her husband's usually dormant bulge just give a slight twitch?

Five days ago.

Aubrey was out in his front garden taking cuttings from his unruly bush, his intention was to give everyone in Frigwell Crescent a Fallopia Japonica of their very own, an ear piercing scream coming from The Cruet's house broke Aubrey free from his day dream, he dashed immediately to Tina's assistance and was met with a teary eyed Tina "My Percy.. he's dead" was all she said before she slumped into Aubrey's masculine arms. It was Aubrey who helped Tina cope with the isolation and despair the complex feelings that grief brings, after a while they found themselves being drawn together and by the time the police and forensics had been to take away the body he had already given her one over the arm of the chair.

Did forensics find out what killed him? Martharine asked proffering a slice of chocolate cake under Tina's nose. "It was an underlying illness, his heart, it couldn't have been predicted or prevented" said Tina biting into her chocolate cake and licking her lips in Aubrey's direction. Tina stayed another 10 minutes then said her goodbyes and thanked everyone especially Aubrey for everything he had done during her difficult time. Martharine beamed with pride at her husband and noticed yet again another twitch in Aubrey's trouser department. It was Cheryl who showed Tina out and gave her some sound advice en route "A cat can have kittens in an oven, but it doesn't make them biscuits" and slammed the door in Tina's face.

Tina burst out laughing.

Annie are you okay?


Meanwhile, in the mid-sized city in the Pacific Northwest, Detective Lieutenant Milton Frobisher studied the autopsy report of an Uber drive...