The art of dying


“I’ve only had one affair. She should count herself lucky.”

Needless to say, I choked on my coffee. Who wouldn’t? It’s not the kind of thing you expect to hear in a village coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon. Is it?

I dabbed my lips with the edge of my napkin, sneaking a quick look at the two men sitting at the table next to mine. Large cappucinos – check. Pains au chocolat – check. Deceptively understated chunky knit sweaters – check. Levis, artfully worn at the seams  – check. Floppy dark hair, slices of silver gray enhancing rugged good looks – check.

The usual suspects.

The speaker’s confidant nodded in agreement. “Damn right she should.”

I couldn’t help myself. In two ticks I was by their side, towering over their conspiratorial forms. They looked up in unison, shadows of guilt passing over their faces. I’d seen it before, but in entirely different surroundings. Big city pubs and bars were more my usual haunts, but needs must.

“Only one affair?” I demanded, trying to hide my grin. The question always put them on the back foot.

“Err, yeah. Not that it’s any of your business,” The Cheater, caught unawares turned defensive.

“Oh don’t worry! I’m not judging – except that really, if you’re going to cheat once, you might as well do it again and again and again. Carry on where you left off, right?” I let the question hang in the air, watching confusion reign over both of them.

“Piss off, love, why don’t you. My marriage is none of your business.” The Cheater made as if to stand up and I backed off.

“OK, OK. I’m going…”

I backed off, and sat down at my table again, making like I was absorbed in a phone call. I’d have made a fantastic actress.

“Biggest mistake of my life, Andy, to be honest. Once is once too often, I reckon.”

The Confidant nodded in agreement once more. “Yeah mate, she’s a good one, your Sarah.”

My work was done.

Special sauce


“I like hats.”

That’s what Donald said the day before Sally was murdered..

It seemed like a totally random comment, unless you knew Donald, and indeed, unless you knew Sally. You see, she would never, ever, not in a million years, ever wear a hat. Don’t laugh, she often said she wouldn’t be seen dead in one. Which, unfortunately for her and her nearest and dearest, she was.

Artfully arranged on the kitchen floor of Mo’s Diner she was, looking so darned relaxed, even pretty, except for the pool of blackened blood that had turned sticky and gelatinous what with the heat blasting out from the grimy old range cooker and all. She’d been fixing up a Mexican chili when she had a slice taken right out of her. Shame. I’d have loved to dig in, but it was evidence, according to Officer Gonzalez. Yeah, right. Evidence of his expanding waste-line, the smear of tomato sauce at the side of his mouth and settling in the creases of his fat forefinger.

The hat, the offending accessory that Sally just couldn’t get past was one of those cloches, you know, like from the 1920s. It perfectly suited her short, graduated bob – the deep red of the felt set off the jet black sheen of her hair so darned well. Such a shame. She’d have owned that look, for sure.

Donald’s wife wore hats, but she didn’t suit them. And I knew that Donald was offended that his favourite women’s accessory made his wife look like a bulldog at a fancy dress party (my words, not his, but still, he was a sensitive and passionate man, so I reckon he’d have agreed with my assessment). I think that was the problem. Plus, Margaret had this habit of spitting. God alone knew why and how on earth they’d managed to get hitched and stay that way for so long.

Margaret’s brother Morgan on the other hand was elegance personified. And whilst I don’t think that Donald was that way inclined, I do remember his face softening in some kind of brotherly desire every time Morgan donned his fedora and tilted it to a jaunty angle. Such a dashing, beautiful man.

And I wanted him, so, so badly. Trouble was, Morgan wanted Sally, Sally wanted Donald, but he couldn’t get past the hat thing.

And Margaret knew that. And I owed her, big time. So, you know, the old switcheroo with the kitchen knives, it was easy enough to lay a trail straight back to Donald.

Margaret knew what Donald’s opinion was of her, she knew I’d swiped a few hundred from the tills, she knew I couldn’t bear to have Morgan find out I was nothing more than a common thief.

But you know what? Sticking a knife into Sally’s side felt kinda familiar. Like slicing brisket for her famous Mexican chili.

Officer Gonzalez really enjoyed that by the way. I wonder if it was the fine brisket, or the slice of Sally that set his tastebuds a-jangling?

Guess we’ll never know.

SoCS March 26/16 – real


‘The truth of the matter is that there is no one reality. We all see and remember events through the filter of our own perception’.

Callie remembered when she heard that bald statement as a rookie, a wet behind the ears, oh so very green new recruit at the Security Force training college. It was far too many years ago now to even want to remember how young she had been then, but it still resonated every time she sat down in the windowless room to scrutinise the latest batch of security footage.

Once upon a time, the films had been grainy and only rendered in colour if you were lucky, with no sound at all. Many places were blind spots, with no security cameras in evidence for vast swathes of the country. Now, highly detailed sound and vision was the order of the day, every street, every field, every mountain recorded for posterity. Yes, actual posterity. There was no escape. The media lauded the fact that this sceptred isle was by far the most surveilled place on earth, that no crime would ever go unpunished again, for even the sacred space of home was on the record. All citizens were safe. Apparently.

Callie sighed, rubbing her gritty eyes in frustration. This wasn’t what she had trained for. This didn’t fit her admittedly naive idea of truth and justice.

Yes, the cameras filmed everyone, everywhere. But perception, reason, justification, reality meant nothing to these digital, soulless entities. They couldn’t understand or interpret human emotion. A camera was judge, jury and executioner these days. So much for innocent until proven guilty.

She took a deep breath, and turned off the camera scrutinising her as she worked. She had 3 minutes to destroy the footage she was analysing. Enough was enough. Their reality was no longer hers.


Here’s this week’s entry into Stream of Consciousness Saturday! Those who know my writing, will understand that often as not, I like to head to the dark side. I think that this qualifies!

Please head on over to Linda’s blog to read all the delicious creativity that can be found there.

Thank you once again to Linda for creating this vibrant community!