Asian Angel

The door opened and Dax strode into the office, twirling his trademark gold-topped cane, immaculately clad in an expensive Armani suit with a mauve open-necked shirt. With his sleeked back black hair, he exuded power and arrogance, befitting the son of the most feared crime lord in the city. He sat down and looked over at his two subordinates seated in chairs on the other side of the desk. Fleck, slim, with short bleached blonde hair. His favourite weapons, knives he kept sheathed on his belt. A cold-blooded psychopathic killer.

He was picking at a nail with one of his knives.

“Must you?” Dax said reprovingly.

Fleck put the knife away

In the other chair, sat Ox. Befitting his name, a big muscular man, huge hands resting on equally huge thighs. He rarely spoke. He was Dax’s designated bodyguard.

“Well?” Dax said.

Fleck hauled a briefcase up from next to his chair and placed it on the desk.

“Any problems?” Dax asked.

Fleck shook his head, then said, “We didn’t get anything from Mrs Tan. She wasn’t there. The kid said she’d rushed off to the hospital. Sick or dying mother.”

Dax raised his eyebrows.

“You told us not to do anything. Just let you know when we don’t get payment,” Fleck reminded him.

“So I did. Glad you listened. Alright, we can’t say we’re not sympathetic. We’ll go around there tomorrow night. Now, let’s go to the club.”

Dax owned a nightclub in the city. One of the most popular, where he could get his pick of beautiful women, some willing, some not. He liked the unwilling ones best. It was so much more satisfying when he bent them to his will.

He picked up the briefcase and strode out of the room, his men trailing in his wake.

At exactly 8 pm the next night, a sleek black Mercedes drew up in front of the little Asian grocer. Fleck jumped out and opened the back door. Dax emerged and strode into the shop with his cane. Fleck followed, Ox stood watch at the door. The young man behind the counter looked up from the tablet he was perusing. Remarkably, he showed no surprise.

Dax glanced around the shop. There was only one customer. A young Asian woman wearing a black coat, looking at something she had picked up off one of the shelves. He ignored her and said to the young man, “And how is Mrs Tan’s mother?”

“Dying,” came the reply.

“That’s too bad. However, we do have an agreement with her. Did she leave a package for us?”

The young man shook his head.

“Who are you?” asked Dax.

“I’m her nephew, Yen,” the young man told him.

“I see,” Dax responded.

“That’s unfortunate. You see, Yen, our agreement stipulates that any violation means that your aunt is no longer under our protection. Which also means that all sorts of bad things can happen.”

He looked at Fleck who picked up a large jar of pickles from the counter.

“Excuse me,” a voice intruded.

Dax swung around.

The Asian woman was standing behind them, holding a bag of rice in her hands.

“I’d like to pay for this, please.”

“We’re in the middle of a discussion. I’m sure the young man is quite happy for you to have it,” Dax said, with a pointed look at Yen.

“I prefer to pay,” the woman said firmly.

“I don’t take anything that doesn’t belong to me.”

“I’ll pay for it,” Dax volunteered.

“Consider it a gift.”

“I don’t take gifts from people I don’t know,” came the reply.

Dax looked at her. Not particularly attractive, he thought. Why am I bothering? The women at the club were a lot more beautiful.

He lost patience, and said, “Just get out of here.”

“Yeah, bitch. Piss off,” Fleck said, put down the jar and pulled out a knife.

The next moment, he gave a muffled shriek, as with one swift movement, she had twisted the knife out of his hand and plunged it into his chest. As he dropped to the floor, Dax reacted and twisted the knob of his cane, freeing a sword. The woman had pulled the knife out of the dying Fleck’s chest and now flicked it into Dax’s throat. He gave a gasping cough, dropped the sword and clutched at his throat.

Belatedly, Ox reacted. He gave a roar and charged. The woman pulled a gun out of her coat pocket. It gave a silenced cough through the suppressor attached to it. A hole appeared between Ox’s close-set two eyes, and he dropped to the floor on top of his dying boss. Yen had watched the scene unfold with fascinated wide-eyed wonder, then said quietly, “Thank you, Angel.”

She nodded.

“I’m going now. You go as well, out the back door. My men will be in in a minute to clean up. This never happened.”

She stepped over the bodies, pausing briefly to pull the keys to the Mercedes out of Ox’s pocket, and went out of the front door, flipping the sign to ‘closed.’

Soon the Mercedes glided away from the kerb and disappeared down the street. Her destination, the home of the crime boss, where the late Dax had resided. Her task this night was not yet complete.

A short while later, after a brief detour, she stopped at the gate to an imposing mansion in an exclusive suburb. The sensor in the Mercedes activated the gate and it slid aside. She drove up the winding driveway. Anyone seeing the car would assume it was Dax. She set the cruise control, opened the door and rolled out the car as it headed for the six-car garage. She sprinted for the side of the house and was soon clambering up a downpipe. As she reached a window, she pulled out her phone. The car crashed into the garage door, and she pressed a button on her phone. With a tremendous roar, the car exploded, taking with it, a Lamborghini and a Rolls Royce and collapsing part of the garage. At the same time, she broke the window, sure the sound would not be heard over the noise of the explosion. She heard shouts as men came running from everywhere.

She clambered inside and swiftly walked towards the main bedroom. The door opened and a bullfrog of a man emerged, pulling on a dressing gown. She flattened herself against a wall. She knew him well, his image ingrained in her memory. He didn’t notice her and stood at the head of the stairs looking down. She walked up behind him and with tremendous thrust, pushed him down the stairs. She watched as he tumbled over and over. His head hit one of the treads with a sickening thud. She looked on with satisfaction as he lay with his head at an unnatural angle. She retreated back to the window, carefully climbed down the pipe, and headed for a large tree. She scaled it and lowered herself over the wall. A black BMW came slowly down the road. It stopped and she got inside and sat back with a sigh of satisfaction. Many months in the planning, a good night’s work for an avenging Asian angel.


Alien Equaliser

Mal shifted in his seat. His bum hurt. Happens when you sit for a long time, worse when it was a twenty-year clunker made before the era of airbags even. But he was on a stakeout. He couldn’t move until there was some sign of activity in the house he was surveilling, hopefully discreetly, just down the street. Suddenly, he sat up and watched as the garage door slid up. A black Lexus reversed down the driveway. It paused as it entered the street and the garage door came down again. It drove down the street and slowed as it drew level with him. The driver’s side window slid down. A hand came out, middle finger extended, and a voice yelled, “Hey Arsehole!” and the car accelerated into the distance.

Mal slumped in his seat and swore to himself. Bastard. What a waste of time. He’d obviously been made. He wondered what gave him away, but it could have been anything. It was depressing. To quote Detective Roger Murtaugh in the ‘Lethal Weapon’ movies, he was getting too old for this shit. The guy he had been watching was quite low on the drug dealing food chain anyway, not too low judging by the car, but the tip-off he had received indicated he might have led to someone more important.

Mal’s client would not be happy. Concerned his youngest daughter had fallen in with a crowd heavily into drugs, he’d hired Mal to do some snooping. Thus far, his investigation had led to this lowlife called Manny. So he’d been watching him.

Well, that idea was shot to hell. May as well go home. He turned the key, and with a sinking feeling, all he heard was a click. The battery had died. Shit.

Now he would have to ring roadside assistance to get him going. To top it all off, the oppressive clouds that had hung around most of the day decided that now was the time to release the deluge that had been promised so many hours before and rain bucketed down. He fished for his phone, and could not believe what he saw. Nothing, the screen was blank, the phone too was dead. He felt like screaming out loud in frustration. But he was a fifty-year adult, a male to boot. Men didn’t do that sort of stuff. But he did it anyway. The noise of the downpour muffled the sound of the ear-splitting shriek he let out. Nobody heard him, at least, nobody human.

Hidden above the dense rain cloud, by sheer chance, hovering just above Mal’s car, was an alien spacecraft, spherical in shape, containing an amorphous entity. Mal’s shriek was picked up by the craft’s external sensors. Driven by curiosity to determine what the noise was and where it emanated from, the entity left its craft and transported its amorphous form down through the cloud. It hovered above Mal’s car, then entered it. Mal, unable to believe the noise that had just come out of his own mouth, almost crapped himself when the entity materialised in the seat beside him.

“What the hell? Who and what the hell are you?” he stuttered.

There was no answer.

“Are you a ghost or something?”

There was still no response.

Mal’s heart was pounding in his chest.

A tendril reached out towards him. Terrified, he grabbed at the door handle and tugged at it. The door wouldn’t open. The tendril swirled closer, he shrank against the door, then mercifully, passed out.

Mal came to. He felt distinctly weird. But his mind was as clear as a bell. His body had been invaded, no, enhanced by an entity from another world. He felt an awareness that he now had powers that he’d never had before. Maybe like superman or some of the other superheroes like the Avengers he’d read about, and seen in the movies.

This alien appeared intent on helping him, unlike movie aliens who always seemed to be hellbent on destroying the human race, a sentiment with which he sometimes agreed. He looked forward to finding out what those powers were. Did they have any limits?. He wondered if someone shot him, for example, would he die? Now that would be handy to know!

And did the alien have a spaceship? Must have. If so, where was it? Secreted on earth or parked undetected in space somewhere. And were there more of them? He had lots of questions swirling around in his head. Hopefully, as time went by, he’d get some answers. All in all, though, he felt remarkably sanguine about everything that had just happened to him.

He reached for the ignition key and turned it. The car purred into life. The battery had been recharged. Was that the alien’s doing? He had a sense that it probably had been.

He turned on the car headlights. The downpour had passed. He eased away from the curb. As he headed down the street, a car passed going the other way.

“That’s that jerk, Manny,” Mal said aloud.

Now was as good a time as any to put whatever powers he had to the test.

He did a careful U-turn on the wet road and followed the other vehicle. It turned into the driveway of the house from which it had earlier emerged. The garage door went up, and the car drove in. Mal followed, pulling up right behind him. Before Manny could get out of the car, Mal was at his door. He yanked him out by his collar, and with a strength, he hadn’t had before, sent him sprawling to the floor of the garage. Increased physical ability, good to know.

Manny looked up at him with a mixture of fear and outrage.

“What the hell are you doing? I’ll have you charged with assault, you, you…”

He stopped.

Mal looked down at him, then pulled him up, held him in the air, then said mildly, “Ok, Manny, how about we go inside and have a chat.”

Manny looked down at him, then said meekly, “Ok.”

He led the way into the house through an interior door from the garage. He’d left the lights on earlier, and ushered Mal into a well-equipped kitchen. He sat down at the table. Mal seated himself across from him.

“So, you’re gonna tell me everything about your drug dealing, but first, how did you clock me? Never mind,” he said. Actually, Manny didn’t need to say anything. Mal could pretty much sense the thoughts running around in his head. Was that one of his new powers? Had to be. He was chuffed. Even Superman couldn’t read minds!

Manny looked at him in confusion and opened his mouth.

Mal held up his hand to silence him, closed his eyes and concentrated. A jumble of Manny’s thoughts crowded into his head. After a moment, he opened his eyes.

“You really are a scumbag, aren’t you. You’ve ruined so many lives. Even got your own nephew hooked so badly he killed himself. He O’D. Don’t know how many others.”

Manny goggled at him, open mouthed.

“How, how,” he stuttered.

Mal got to his feet.

“You’re done. I know you feel really bad about your nephew, but it hasn’t stopped you.

I know all about you now, who you deal with, where you get the stuff, how much dough you got stashed away, even which banks you got all your accounts in. The cops will get all that info. You’d save everyone a heap of trouble if you just topped yourself before they get you,” he told him brutally.

He turned on his heel, walked out of the kitchen, through the garage and got into his car. He found he was shaking with rage. Manny was just a low-level dealer but look at the carnage he’d left in his wake, the lives he’d ruined. He started the car and backed down the driveway. He decided to go home. It was quite late. He had a lot of thinking to do.

What to tell his client for example.

But now, he had enhanced physical strength and apparently could read minds, for starters. The stuff he got out of Manny’s head gave him plenty to work with. He wouldn’t tell the cops anything. He’d go after them himself. He looked forward to finding what else he was capable of and how he could best utilise whatever he had to right wrongs, and exact justice. What was that Denzel Washington movie? The Equaliser.

That’s what he’d do. Become an Alien Equaliser!


AK 47

Heston curled his finger around the trigger of the AK 47. He loved the feel of it and the sense of power it gave him. He looked at his target through the sights. He really couldn’t miss at this range. It could fire ten rounds per second. More than enough to do the job. Overkill really. After all, his target was only one man. No wonder it was illegal to buy unless you knew where to get it. Which he did. Cost a bit. But he knew someone. Got a good deal. It came with a box of ammo. He had loaded it. He really hadn’t known how until he googled it. Amazing what you could find on the internet.

Now, he had finally tracked down his quarry, Hilton Dearden. His little hideaway, this cabin, more a shack really, miles off the beaten track had been in the family for generations. When he dropped off the face of the earth, it had taken a while to locate him. He had gone to ground, just after Heston had got out of prison, obviously fearing for his safety. Rightly so. But finally, a google search had revealed the fact that his family had it and also its location. This had to be it. And some discreet surveillance had verified that he was here.

So now, he was ready. He was well within firing range. A line of trees hid him from view. Dearden had disappeared around the side of the cabin. But he was a patient man, he would wait till he came out again.

He thought, with quiet fury, of the circumstances that led up to this point. Unremarkably perhaps, it was a double-cross. He had approached Dearden with a proposal. He had researched a high-end jewellery store run by a wealthy widow. He knew exactly what he wanted. Rings and bracelets worth over five hundred thousand dollars. He needed a wheel-man, Dearden had a good rep. He was one of the best. It took some persuasion. He had declared he was going straight, but the lure of a hundred k as his share changed his mind. Of course, Heston had no intention of giving him anything.

So on the day, Dearden pulled up just down the street, and waited, engine running. Heston went in. They were about to close. No customers were inside. He showed the woman his gun and pointed to what he wanted. She pulled out the tray. At the same time, cops burst in behind him, guns drawn. He knew he’d been shopped. He swore he’d get Dearden. The fact that he was going to screw him over, had nothing to do with anything.

He got seven years. The gun he’d used was real. He had previous convictions. He was out after four and a half with good behaviour. It was while he was inside that he’d become fascinated with the AK 47. He’d come across a book about it in the prison library.

Now, he looked once more down the sights. He drew a breath. Dearden had company. It was the widow who owned the jewellery store! No wonder he shopped him. How had the two of them got together? Before or after? He didn’t care. He’d get them both. There was plenty of ammo to go around. He steadied himself against a wall. His finger caressed the trigger, then he pulled it. It blew up in his face and he fell to the ground.

As he lay there dying, his last thoughts were, ‘no wonder I got such a good deal. The damn thing was defective.’ Ironically, his fascination with the AK 47 had killed him.


Accidental Hero.

Danny lay on his bed. He sighed heavily as he stared at the ceiling. He had just returned from another day of unsuccessful interviews. Well, not the whole day. After all, he’d only had one. The first one they’d said they’d let him know, but he could tell, they wouldn’t bother. At least, he’d got an interview, they hadn’t just ignored his application, like so many of his others had been. And the second one was way across town. By the time he got there by public transport, he’d been 20 minutes late, so they refused to see him. He’d sat despondently on a park bench outside for quite a while before wearily making his way home. He’d gone straight to his room and laid on his bed. He drifted off.


He awoke with a start. His mother was standing over him. She was angry, he could just tell. He struggled to sit up.


“You forgot to bring in the washing. It’s rained, and everything’s wet!”

“Sorry,” he mumbled.

“And you promised to wash the dishes, and clean the kitchen, it’s disgusting! And your room’s a mess. I keep asking you to tidy it, but that’s obviously too much for you, And I suppose you forgot to pick up bread and milk as you walked past that milk bar too, didn’t you. God, you’re useless!”

She turned on her heel and stormed out of the room. He stared after her resentfully.

“I’ve had a bad day too, Mum,” he felt like shouting but refrained. He knew he was at fault. He had promised to do all these things, but still. That was no reason for her to yell at him like that. He got up. He’d go for a walk just to calm himself down. He donned his hoodie and headed for the front door. His mother’s bedroom door was closed, but he was too angry to tell her he was going anyway. He opened the door and was tempted to slam it, then thought better of it. It had a stained glass pane in it. It wasn’t the best, but she had made it when she was attending a class once. She would be enraged if he broke it. So he closed the door gently and set off. It was drizzling slightly, and almost dark. It didn’t deter him and he set off, head bent.

He walked in the direction of the Main Street. There was a pub further along. Maybe he’d shout himself a beer, but he realised rather ruefully, that he only had about twenty-five dollars in cash and probably not much more than that in his account. Still, at this moment, he didn’t care. As he turned into the Main Street, someone cannoned into him. He staggered slightly, but the other person, a man, went down heavily. He must have twisted his knee. He gave a yell. He dropped a bag he was carrying, rolled over, looked at Danny, then back past him up the street, scrambled up and hobbled off, leaving the bag behind. Danny picked it up. It was a woman’s handbag.

Realisation dawned. He must have stolen it. He looked up the street. In the distance, he could see a woman. She was leaning against a car. As he watched, she opened the passenger door, and sat down, leaving the door open. He headed for her. The car was a Lexus, he noted. The drizzle had eased. He approached the car, and asked hesitantly, “Are you ok?”

The woman looked at him. She seemed unfocused.


“Are you ok,” he asked again.

“No, I’m not, young man,” she answered.

“I’ve just been mugged, I think. That’s what you call it, isn’t it? Some man grabbed my bag as I was walking back from that atm up the road. There were no parking spaces any closer, that’s why I had to walk so far. He just came up behind me and grabbed my bag and ran. I got such a fright!”

She was almost gabbling, but he thought, ‘Poor thing, she must be in shock.’

She was an older lady, very well dressed, and he could smell her perfume, probably very expensive, he thought. She was sitting in a Lexus after all.

“Is this your bag?” he asked, holding it up.

“Oh my goodness, yes!” she cried.

“Did you see what happened and catch him? My purse is in it and my phone, so I couldn’t ring the police or anything. Thank you, thank you.”

She took the bag, rummaged in it and said excitedly, “Everything’s still here. You’re a hero!”

About to tell her what actually happened, he thought, ‘I’m a hero!

How often is anyone going to call me that. Never! I’m taking it!’

So he shrugged self deprecatingly, “Well, I tackled him, but he got away.”

It was sort of true.

“Thank you again young man, I am most grateful.”

She opened her purse and thrust two fifty dollar notes at him.

“I hope you don’t mind but I’d like to reward you for your bravery and honesty.”

He stared at the money, then said reluctantly, “Oh, I couldn’t take it.”

In his head, he heard, ‘You idiot! Of course you can. You need it. Take it.’

“I insist,” the woman said.

So he took the money, thrust it into his pocket, and said, “Thank you, although it isn’t necessary.”

“Money is always necessary,” she said. “It’s how the world works. Now, is there any other way I can help you?”

Without thinking, he said, “Well, if you can find me a job, that would be good. I’m in between at the moment.”

She looked at him, then said, “I just might at that.”

He stared back at her, then stammered, “Sorry, that just came out, but did you say you might be able to?”

She rummaged in her bag again, then handed him a card.

“My son runs an online business. He’s looking for delivery people. He was only complaining to me today, that his last one just left him in the lurch. So would that be suitable? He supplies the van and a phone, so he told me.”

“That would be great,” Danny said, putting the card in his pocket.

“Good, go and see him in the morning. I’ll tell him you’re coming.”

She added with a laugh, “I suppose it helps if I know my hero’s name?”

Danny squirmed, “It’s Danny Taylor.”

She put out her hand.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Danny Taylor. I’m Helen Thompson.”

They shook hands, then she said, “Just help me out of the car please, Danny. I can get in but getting out is a bit of an issue.”

He helped her out, shut the door, then escorted her around to the other side and opened the door for her. She got in. He closed the door. She put the key in the ignition and lowered the window.

“Thank you again, Danny. I’m sure I’ll see you again sometime.”

He nodded, walked around the car to the pavement and watched her slowly drive away. He walked in the direction of the pub, his mind in a whirl. He could well afford that drink now. A bit of money and the prospect of a job. He could hardly believe it.

A few moments later, he was downing a welcome beer. He thought about his mother. She was justified in having a go at him, he supposed. Normally even-tempered, she must have had a hard day at work to lash out at him. But he did need to pull his weight a bit more.

He confined himself to one beer, then wandered through the poker machine area. He could afford to put the last twenty dollars through. After all, he had a hundred dollars he didn’t have before he left home. He was down to his last three dollars when it happened. Flashing lights, bells, and envious looks from other patrons, and a dazed Danny was walking home with $2400 in his pocket. He remembered to buy milk and bread at the milk bar as he was passing. It was just closing.

He walked into the house. His mother was sitting at the kitchen table, several papers in front of her. They looked like bills. He put the bread and milk on the bench and sat down next to her.

“Sorry Mum,” he said.

“It’s ok,” she said quietly.

Her face was tired and drawn.

“Bills?” He pointed at the papers.

She said tiredly, “Nothing for you to worry about,”

He pulled his winnings out of his pocket, laid it on the table, and with a broad smile, said, “Will this help?”

Wide eyed, she looked at him, and said, “Did you rob a bank?”

So he told her all about his evening, his winnings, his new job prospect and his $100 reward. All because he had just been an accidental hero.


The Car

The car took the corner on two wheels, leaving smoke in its wake. It flashed past a minivan driven by a nun. She instinctively braked, her little vehicle sliding sideways, ending up among the rose bushes in the front yard of a startled elderly lady gardener.

The car careered down the street and sped past a police car, which instantly turned on sirens and lights and took off in pursuit. The car weaved its way through the early morning traffic, slowed as it came to an intersection, allowing the police car to catch up, turned on its right turn signal, then abruptly turned left. The police car, about to turn right, skidded across the intersection and crashed into an inconveniently parked garbage truck. The car continued on its merry way, passing trucks and cars as if they were standing still.

Alarmed police called for air support and a helicopter was soon in the air. It picked up the car as it turned onto the freeway and shadowed it as it turned north, passing traffic at around two hundred kilometres an hour. Startled motorists were immediately on their phones, and two television station helicopters joined the chase in short order. They were instructed to keep a safe distance from the police chopper but were soon streaming live coverage to thousands of avid television and other media watchers. Meanwhile, authorities were trying to establish where the car had come from and why it was travelling at such speed. Nobody seemed to know. It just appeared. Ahead of the car, more police vehicles entered the freeway and were travelling in a convoy. Alerted by the helicopter of the car’s approach, they travelled abreast along the road blocking its path. The car did not slow. Fearing a rear-end crash, one police car slowed. The car flashed through the gap, police cars in pursuit.

The car had heavily tinted windows, including, unusually, the front windscreen so it was impossible to see the driver. Also, it was an unrecognisable make, and it was a shimmery colour, quite hard to describe. Some television and radio callers claimed have seen the car earlier in the day. It had been motoring through the suburbs at normal speeds. It had drawn attention because of its shimmery colour and tinted windscreen. One caller claimed that the car had sped up when it passed a church and a hearse had emerged and come up behind it. Whether there was any reason to believe this had any bearing on subsequent events was impossible to know.

Meanwhile, the car continued on its way up the freeway, destination unknown. The police helicopter kept up its aerial pursuit, the police in their cars a discreet distance behind it. A hundred-kilometre stretch lay ahead. A convoy of trucks entered the freeway and was deployed to travel three abreast on the three-lane freeway. A much more formidable obstacle than the police cars. The car approached, still travelling at over two hundred kilometres an hour. The trucks slowed, still side by side. The car reached the rear of the right-hand side truck, unbelievably tilted on two side wheels and shot past the trucks. It bounced back on four wheels and continued on up the freeway.

The media helicopters excitedly relayed the vision back to an increasing audience. The police helicopter had to call off its pursuit to refuel. The media helicopters keep authorities abreast of the car’s progress. More on the road police vehicles joined the chase. As best they could, police tried to clear traffic ahead to avoid a major catastrophe.

By now, the pursuit had been on for about three hours. Trailed by the police convoy, the car sped on. Then an off-ramp appeared, curving sharply to the left onto a bridge crossing a wide fast-flowing river. Without slowing, the car took the off-ramp and flew onto the bridge. Luckily, there was no oncoming traffic as it bounced onto the wrong side of the road. It hit the railing and burst through it. It plummeted over the edge and cartwheeled down into the river, hitting the water with an almighty splash, every second recorded by the media helicopters. It sank swiftly and disappeared from view, presumably being washed downstream by the fast-flowing waters. The helicopters hovered low but could see nothing. Squads of police cars pulled up on the bridge, but apart from the broken and twisted railing, there was nothing to see.

A protracted and intense search of the river found no trace of the car or its occupants. The media coverage was intense. The speculation, discussion, and wild theories went on for weeks. But gradually and inevitably, it faded, to replaced by other news. However, the strange appearance and equally baffling disappearance of the car remains an unsolved mystery to this day.


Lucifer’s Disciples.

The two motorcycles eased to a stop on the crest of the ill-lit road. It wound its way down towards the woods and passed the only hotel for miles around, but one that was bypassed by anyone who had any sense. Why? Because it was well known as the headquarters of the infamous Lucifer’s Disciples motorcycle gang, the scourge of the state. They were behind almost every major crime committed in the state. No one dared cross them, many had tried, many had disappeared without a trace. They had informants everywhere, police raids left with nothing. It seemed they reigned with impunity, under the leadership of big Jake, powerful, cunning and ruthless.

The two motorcycles eased down the road, their headlights cutting twin swathes of light through the darkness. They were whisper-quiet, both powered by electric motors, sacrilegious to a true biker. A motorcycle with no sound was no motorcycle. The hotel was a hubbub of noise. Bikers spilled out onto the front verandah, those still reasonably alert, noticed the lights of the two machines approaching. It was with utter astonishment that they saw the two ease to a halt in front of the hotel, and both riders dismount. The astonishment increased tenfold when they removed their helmets and turned out to be two blonde-haired women, each wearing a long leather coat, and knee-high boots. They deposited their helmets on their bike handlebars, mounted the steps to the verandah, swept past the gaping bikers and entered the bar. Women only ever entered the hotel by invitation, as guests or appendages of the men. There were a few sprinkled around the room, who gawped, as the men did, as the two women stepped up to the bar.

The room fell silent. It was like an old time western movie when a stranger walked into a saloon.

“Two beers please,” one woman requested in a low melodious voice.

The bartender stuttered and looked around apprehensively.

“Is there a problem?” the same melodious voice asked.

The bartender shook his head, then asked, “Glass or schooner?”

“Glass please.”

He poured the beers and pushed them over the bar towards them. They paid him. There was a murmuring of voices, then the front doors crashed open and big Jake strode in. As befitting his name, he was a big man, around 130 kg, most of it muscle, long grey hair tied in a ponytail, an equally long grey beard, two gold earrings, dressed in his usual garb of black jeans, black cowboy boots, black tee-shirt and vest. Surprisingly, he only had one tattoo, an ornate L carved into his left cheek. He strode up to the two women, who looked at him with disinterest, as they sipped their beer. He stopped, looked them up and down, and said mildly, “Are those your bikes outside?”

“Yes,” one answered.

“You’re going to have to move them. They’re in my space.”

“Oh, we weren’t aware that the space was reserved.”

“Well, now you do.”

“Do you mind if we finish our drinks?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Isn’t that a bit unreasonable?”

“I really don’t give a damn. I want you to move your bikes. Now!”



“No. We will finish our drinks, then we will move our bikes.”

“I’m not going to ask you again.”

“Then the consequences will be on your head.”

“What the hell does that mean.”

“I have a feeling you are about to find out.”

Big Jake stepped forward. The next minute he staggered back as blonde number one whipped out a taser and thrust it into his chest. He gave a squeal and collapsed to the floor. Blonde number two took out a laser-like weapon, aimed it up at the ceiling and the light went out. There was a scramble as bikers fell over each other while the two women donned night vision glasses and calmly walked out of the bar. Outside they discarded them. They purposefully moved to their machines and removed an assortment of weapons from their panniers. Flare guns were fired into the rows of motorcycles which were soon ablaze. Yells came from the hotel as bikers tumbled out of the hotel to find their bikes on fire, and frantically ran around looking for ways to extinguish the fires. Then the two women calmly lobbed flashbangs into the hotel through the front doors and windows. They had no wish to unnecessarily hurt anyone, however, they would defend themselves if the need arose. But the place needed to be taken down. It had served as a den of iniquity for too long. They mounted their bikes and noiselessly rode to the back of the building. Several gas bottles stood next to one of the back walls. They would do nicely. Two expertly placed bullets fired from a short distance away saw the tanks explode against the back walls which were soon ablaze. A call and the police and fire brigade were on the way. Hopefully, the damage would be enough to put a serious dent in their activities. Satisfied with their night’s work, the two rode off into the night.

Thirty minutes later, the two borrowed electric motorcycles had been returned to their rightful owners. Blonde wigs had been discarded, and Julie and Vanessa, both serving police officers, whose policemen husbands had been injured in clashes with the gang drank a quiet toast to what they considered to be a good night’s work. They had taken the law into their own hands but it seemed the only way. Hopefully, their actions had put a dent in the actions of Lucifer’s Disciples.


Following Elliot

He was being followed. Elliott was sure of it. He had a prickly feeling in the back of his neck. Or it was just the result of an overactive imagination. He had been reading a lot of spy thrillers lately. But he was feeling quite mellow. He had just had dinner in a rather posh restaurant with his old mate Hadley. Okay, so they weren’t really in the same league anymore. He worked on the railway station in the ticket office, Hadley was a high flying corporate lawyer, but they had known each other since high school. It wasn’t his fault he had to leave school early because Dad had died and they needed the extra income while Hadley went to university and into the world of corporate law.

But they had stayed in touch, mainly, he suspected for Hadley to boast about his high flying life, his role in corporate takeovers, how many companies they had sent to the wall, and generally what a prick and arsehole he was. Elliott’s description, not his. And as long as he was willing to entertain him to a lavish meal now and again, he wasn’t complaining. He always wore his best suit, courtesy of the op-shop. Amazing the good gear you could buy if you went to op-shops in the more affluent areas.

He had decided to walk home. He needed to, just to kid himself he was getting rid of the extra kilos he’d just put on.

Now, what had he read about what people did if they thought they were being followed. Let’s see, slow down, pretend to look in shop windows. No good. He was walking along the esplanade next to the river. No shops. A few other people were wandering around. He could stop and look at a boat cruising by. So he did, surreptitiously glancing back, but he couldn’t tell which of the people he saw were the ones following him. He could stop and sit on one of the benches, but they could do the same further back, so that wouldn’t help either.

Alright, he would walk up one of the side streets. If someone followed him, that would narrow the possibilities a bit. So he crossed the road and walked quickly up the first side street. Halfway up, he had a brainwave. He stopped in front of a house with a low front wall, sat down and pulled off his shoe. He shook it as if to dislodge a pebble and idly looked back down the street. A young woman who was walking up behind him, momentarily slowed, then kept coming. Could it be her? Emboldened by the few glasses of wine he had imbibed, courtesy of Hadley, he decided to ask her. As she drew level with him, he said,” Hi.”

Startled, she looked at him.

“Hi,”she responded.

He grinned disarmingly, he hoped.

“Are you following me?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Are you following me?” he repeated.

“Why on earth would I be following you?”

“I don’t know, I just had a feeling someone was.”

“So you decided it was me. Are you in the habit of imagining that people are following you?”

“No,” he said hastily. He pulled his shoe back on and stood up. She stepped back. He held up his hands.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”

“You don’t. I know how to take care of myself. Do you live in this street?” “No,”he confessed.

“So why? Oh, I see. You wanted to check if anyone was following you!”

He nodded.

“Well, it wasn’t me, so is it okay if I go home now?”

He was mortified.

“I’m really sorry.”

She shook her head and walked past him. Head down, he walked back down the street.

‘What an idiot,’ he thought as he reached the corner and kept walking along the esplanade. The feeling of being followed was gone, or if it was there, he firmly ignored it. He kept walking until, closer to home, he slowed. He was feeling tired. So he didn’t register footfalls rapidly approaching behind him. A violent push in the back sent him sprawling. He hit the ground with a thud, hitting his head which momentarily stunned him. Hands expertly removed his wallet and then he vaguely heard footsteps running away. Groggily, he sat up, holding his head. He was bleeding from a gash, and it hurt, but he felt oddly vindicated. He had been right! He had been followed. There was no one around.

The thief was going to be in for a surprise. Knowing he was going to walk, he had put an old wallet his back pocket, just for the comfort of carrying one, and some cash for the cab to the restaurant. The wallet was empty. He hadn’t even taken his phone, because he had forgotten it, just as well as it turned out. He struggled to his feet. He supposed the thief, seeing a well-dressed man, leaving an expensive restaurant made an assessment that he might make a worthwhile mark. He smiled in satisfaction. He was sure wrong about that!

Painfully, he made his way home. Pointless reporting it. He hadn’t seen the person who robbed him, had lost nothing anyway. He was okay apart from a gash and a headache. And a perverse sense of satisfaction that his sense that he was being followed had been right.


The Pensioner

Ben adjusted his seat and wriggled his body to settle himself more comfortably. The bus was equipped with seat belts and he adjusted his to sit more comfortably across his chest. Buses were certainly more comfortable now than they used to be, he mused, as he returned to the novel on his kindle. It was backlit, so he didn’t need any light, which was just as well as the bus lights had been extinguished earlier, it being past midnight. The woman next to him was asleep. It amused him when an occasional burbling noise escaped from her mouth. The bus was half full.

The trip itself didn’t cost nearly as much as it could have. He was now a pensioner, the proud possessor of a pension card. This was his first trip since his retirement six months ago. He was doing it solo. Not that he would have it any other way. Dora had up and left him some eight years ago now. Good riddance too. She was such a nag. Knowing her, she had probably snagged some other poor fool. She was a real looker, beautiful big blue eyes, a gorgeous figure, he had to admit, even after three kids. But the constant nagging drove him nuts. She was pregnant by the time he realised how bad it was. And then those beguiling blue eyes and the beautiful body drew him back in. Thirty years later, he had still been suffering, until she put him out of his misery and left him. He was just too boring for words, she told him. She wanted some excitement in her life before she died. He wished her luck and gleefully waved her goodbye. Of course, she got half of everything, but it was a small price to pay. The kids were all grown up, had lives of their own and had the good sense to move far away from her. At least, he hoped it was just her and not him too. Had to be her. After all, his daughter had invited him to visit her, her partner and their new baby. He was not a baby person, but it was his first grandchild after all.

The bus trundled along quietly. It was pitch dark. He seemed to be the only one awake. But he had always been a night person. And he was reading one of his favourite Mills and Boon authors. Alright, so it wasn’t a guy thing to do. But he was so sick of death and destruction, and serial killers and mad bombers. He enjoyed reading about plucky heroines and manly heroes with ripped six-packs. Right now, the plucky heroine had got herself cornered by the ruthless billionaire villain. Time to see how she got herself out of that tricky situation.

The bus braked hard and came to a screeching stop. The bus lights came on. Startled, he looked up to see the bus driver, who had introduced himself as Jim, releasing the bus door lock, opening his door and leaping out.

Ben immediately undid his seatbelt, and walked to the door and jumped out, leaving behind a hubbub of enquiring voices as awakening passengers wanted to know what the hell was going on. In the headlights of the bus, Ben saw Jim running towards a car that appeared to have run off the road. It was on its side, wheels still spinning. An agile young man, he hopped up on the car and was wrenching at the door. Ben arrived just as he managed to prise it open.

“Can you get up here to hold it while I check out inside?” he called to him.

Ben scrambled up as best he could and held the door. Jim leaned into the car. After a few moments, he called out, “Two people in here. They seem okay. I’ll try and help them out.”

He braced himself and soon hauled out a young woman who seemed none the worse for wear. She jumped to the ground and found herself surrounded by the other passengers who had arrived, and were making solicitous noises. Jim disappeared into the car and after a few minutes, he boosted up a dark-haired young man. He hoisted himself up and jumped to the ground. The girl rushed over to him.

“Are you are okay?” she asked.

“No thanks to you,” he retorted.

“Told you you were driving too fast.”

“Oh piss off,” she told him.

“You were the one who told me we were in a hurry.”

They glared at each to the bemusement of the passengers. Ben and Jim jumped down from the car. Jim said briskly, “If you guys are okay, we can drop you off at the next town. Get your gear from the car, and you’d better report the accident to the cops.”

They looked at each other uncertainly and the girl said, “I’ll report it, you get our stuff out of the car.”

She walked off, pulled a phone out of her pocket and put it to her ear. He looked at her for a moment, wandered over the car, prised open the back door and pulled out two backpacks. The passengers struggled back to the bus. Shortly, they were on their way. The two newcomers sat together at the back of the bus. Soon, everyone had drifted off to sleep. Except for Ben. And his now wide awake companion. She looked at him and inclined her head.

She whispered,” What do think about those two?”

He was uncertain how to respond.

“Not sure,”he murmured.

He had been an insurance assessor. He had interviewed many people who had submitted all sorts of claims and had developed an instinct. An instinct that told him something was amiss with those two. But what could it be? He offered his hand.

“I’m Ben.”

“Eve.” She shook his hand.

“I’m on my way to visit my sister.”

“My daughter, and my first granddaughter.”

“How lovely for you,!” she exclaimed.

He pulled a face.

“I’m not a baby person,” he confessed.

“Wait till you see her. You’ll change your mind. Bet on it.”

“I wouldn’t take your money.”

He looked at her. She was older than he had thought. An attractive woman with dark hair, and arresting brown eyes with a full figure, who looked at him with barely concealed sceptical amusement. Not that he could see that much of her anymore now that Jim had turned off the lights.

Hastily, he whispered,”Back to those two. I have a feeling they’re running away from something. It wouldn’t surprise me if she only pretended to report the accident.”

“Do you really think so?”she whispered back.

He shrugged.

“Who knows. We may never find out.”

He settled back in his seat, belatedly put on his seat belt and took out his kindle that he had placed in the pocket of the seat in front of him.

“What are you reading?” she whispered.

In the dark, his face reddened.

“Oh just something light,” he replied.

Should he confess he was addicted to trashy love novels? What sort of impression would that give? Did it really matter? He’d likely never see her again anyway. But, suddenly, he thought. Why not? Tell her. Dora had been less than complimentary when she found out. He showed her.

“It’s a Mills & Boon story.”

“Really? I used to love reading those. I actually tried my hand at writing one once. Even sent it in. Got rejected. Not enough substance, they said.”

She giggled.

“Can you believe that? Not enough substance, in an M & B novel.”

He said loftily, “As an expert, I assure you they have lots of substance. As you should know if you read as many as you claimed. For example, my heroine has got herself into a tricky situation with a billionaire villain. It will take ingenious plotting skills to get her out of it. That’s substance right there.”

She leaned closer and he caught a whiff of a familiar perfume. He couldn’t resist.

“Are you wearing ‘obsession’? “he asked.

She sat back.


“Obsession. It was my ex-wife’s favourite perfume.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. It’s the only thing I liked about her.”

She giggled again. He quite liked the sound of it.

“She was a nagger.”

“I don’t nag,”she informed him.

“I cajole.”

“Oh?And there’s a difference?”

“Indeed there is. Just ask my late husband. Oh wait, you can’t. He’s dead.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m not,”she said.

“He was a horrible man. A bore and a bully.”

He winced. He hadn’t been a bully, but Dora had often told him he was a bore. He didn’t know what else to say. Eve leaned over and put a hand on his arm.

“Did I just put a damper on this lovely conversation we’ve been having?”

“Oh no,” he said hastily.

“Liar,” she said cheerfully.

“I’m pretty forthright. Some men find that off-putting. So I’ll tell you upfront. I enjoy talking to you. I.”

She stopped. Unnoticed by either of them, the young man in the back had crept up to the front of the bus and was standing over Jim. Their raised voices had now drawn their attention. He wanted him to stop, they could see him shaking his head. The girl now rushed from the back to join him. Suddenly, he produced a knife and brandished it. Jim started slowing down, and said quietly, “There’s nowhere to stop on the road. I have to find somewhere to pull off.”

“I don’t care!” the young man yelled.

“Stop the damned bus!”

Jim complied, jamming on his brakes. The young man lurched, lost his footing and fell onto the girl standing on the steps at the door. In a trice, Ben had released his seat belt. He ran up the aisle and grasped the man’s knife hand with both his and twisted. The knife dropped to the floor. Ben scoped it up and placed his knee in the back of the young man who was half lying on top of his companion who was screaming at him to get off her. Jim released the brakes and continued driving.

” I can’t stop here. Too dangerous,” he called to Ben who nodded in agreement.

By now, several of the male passengers had joined him. He handed one the knife who took it gingerly.

“Just keep still,” Ben told the squirming young man, the girl still yelling imprecations.

“Be quiet!” he thundered at her.

She stopped.

“How far to the next town?” he asked Jim.

“Ten minutes.” was the reply.

“Good. Call the police, ” he told the man to whom he had given the knife.

“Tell them to meet us when we get to town.”

The man looked at him blankly.

“Just ring 000.” Ben said patiently.

Ten minutes later, the bus was met by two police cars In front of the only pub in a small town and the two miscreants were taken into custody. It transpired that they had stolen the car that they had crashed. It had only just been reported, and if they hadn’t created a scene by trying to get off the bus, they might never have been caught. The formalities completed, and statements were taken, everyone trooped back on the bus and broke into spontaneous applause as Ben made his way to his seat. He ducked his head in embarrassment and sat down next to Eve who looked at him with amusement.

“My hero,” she cooed.

He looked at her with a mix of embarrassment and chagrin.

“You’re just like the hero in one of your novels,” she proclaimed. “

‘Twas nothing, milady,” he responded.

“Seriously, that was a brave thing to do. What made you do it?”

He shrugged.

“I dunno, just instinct.”

The bus recommenced its journey and Jim dimmed the lights. Eve leaned towards him and whispered,”I think such bravery should be rewarded.” and kissed him.

Taken by surprise, Ben stiffened, then enthusiastically kissed her back.

“Get a room, you two.” an amused gruff voice spoke from somewhere behind them.

They drew apart, then Eve whispered,”Best idea I’ve heard all night.”

Ben, momentarily taken aback, took her hand in his. This first trip had certainly turned up some surprises. He had lived a little adventure by thwarting a bus hijacking, and seemed to have made an unexpected new friend. Of course, he hadn’t finished his novel, but this was so much better. Not bad for a pensioner.


The Best Laid Plans

Jimmy smiled with satisfaction. He had done it again. Re-elected mayor for the second time. Alright, so it was just a little one horse town, but there were some rich pickings to be had. He had already availed himself of some. He had been here for just on five years. A bit longer than he had anticipated. A seasoned operator, he had soon found out the lay of the land. He was an expert, knowledge gained from years of nefarious activities in other parts of the country. Things had gotten a bit hot out there, hence his decision to lay low in this country town for a few years.

He leaned back in his plush specially designed office chair. He patted his expansive belly under his trademark flowered waistcoat. He had gotten a mixed reaction at his official reception a few days ago. He didn’t really care.

They could hate him as much as they liked. The fact remained. He got re-elected and there wasn’t much they could do about it. It was time to put the last phase of his plan into place, then he would be off.

There was a knock on the door.

“Come in,” he called.

Danielle, the newest member of his staff entered, carrying a large manilla envelope.

“You asked for this to be brought to you as soon as it arrived,” she said diffidently.

He looked at her intently. She was an attractive young woman, dark haired and slim, just the kind he liked to have among his staff. He had not had a chance to get close to her yet. His attention had been fully focused on getting re-elected. But soon. Right now he had other important matters that claimed his attention, namely, the contents of the envelope. She approached and laid it on his desk. He smiled broadly at her, and said an effusive ‘thank you’. She nodded politely in return and walked out of the office. He watched her trim behind with appreciation then turned his attention to the envelope’s contents. If it contained what he expected, then he could put that last phase into operation.

Eagerly, he scanned the documents. Yes! It was exactly what he’d paid good money to secure. Instead of having it emailed to him, where it possibly could have been hacked, he’d had a hard copy hand delivered. It was, in essence, the proposals for a highway bypass through land, some council owned, but a huge tract that wasn’t. The land would be compulsorily acquired by a jointly funded state and federal government project. Whoever owned the land potentially stood to make millions. Approaches would be made to the council, his council, within the next few months. Plenty of time to buy up the land, obviously not in his own name of course. There were plenty of ways to get around that little obstacle. He had it all worked out, he had people in place, greased the wheels, and he anticipated no impediments to his plan. At the end of it all, he was going to be able to live the rest of his life in wealth and luxury.

First things first. He picked up the phone on his desk.

“Gavin, would you come in here please?”

“Sorry, Mr Mayor, he’s not at his desk right now,” a voice said apologetically.

Intent on his thoughts, he had not waited for a response. In irritation, he barked, “When you see him, tell him to get his arse in here,” and hung up.

Kevin, who had picked up the phone, winced. He wondered where Gavin had got to. Quiet, efficient, soft spoken Gavin. His lip curled in a slight sneer of disdain. He didn’t like the man. He was honest enough with himself to admit it was the efficient bit he didn’t like. The guy didn’t know how to pace himself, a skill he’d learnt a long time ago, and one Gavin had yet to acquire.

He liked the newly re-elected mayor even less. How could he possibly have got in again? Nobody liked him. ‘Must have laid out a fair bit of coin in all the right places,’ he thought. How come nobody had offered him any? He was a ratepayer. Not high enough on the food chain probably. Would he have taken it if they had? Most likely. Everyone else was on the take, so why not?

Except Gavin perhaps, who had just entered the room. He intercepted him and with a jerk of his head, said, “Mr Mayor wants to see you, pronto.”

Gavin acknowledged him with a nod, and headed back out. He walked up the stairs to the mayoral office, and knocked on the door.

“Come in.”

He entered. Jimmy waved at a chair.

“Gotta job for you. I heard on the grapevine the big boys might be interested in acquiring some of our land west of here. Not sure what for,” he lied.

“Big boys? You mean developers?” Gavin asked.

“Maybe, or it could be state or federal. My source wasn’t sure. At any rate, I want you to go out and do some surveying. That’s what you do isn’t it? Then I can get the valuers on to it and find out what it’s worth to us.”

Gavin said apologetically, “I do have a project I’m working on at the moment.”

“Don’t worry about that. I’ll clear it with Wayne. It shouldn’t take long, but I’d like it done asap.”

Wayne was the department head.

“I’ll need some details, “ Gavin said.

Jimmy thrust a piece of paper at him.

“Here’s the area I want you to look at.”

Gavin took the paper. It was highly irregular. A scrap of paper? No work order? He decided not to question it. Not yet anyway. He got to his feet and left.

Jimmy stared at the door after he had gone. He had some slight misgivings about using Gavin, but he was highly efficient, unlike some of the other drones who pretended to work around the place. Hopefully, he’d be long gone before any hint of impropriety surfaced. He picked up the phone and had a terse word to Wayne, who knew where his loyalties lay. Then decided it was time for lunch. As far as he was concerned, the only restaurant worth eating at was an hour’s drive away, located in a four star resort hotel. So that’s where he would go. He felt like celebrating. He’d ring Bobbi to meet him for a bit of afternoon delight. She worked nights at a bar, so she would be available. She’d better be. He’d spent plenty of money on her. He would ring her when he was on his way. Darlene, his wife was away visiting her fat sister. They were talking about going on a cruise from which she would no doubt return even fatter.

He put on his jacket and walked out of his office. Bradley sat in the outer office at the reception desk.

“Going to lunch, Boss?” he asked cheerfully

Jimmy nodded curtly. He always felt uncomfortable around Bradley and walked out without saying anything. A few moments later, he was in the mayoral BMW, acquired not without considerable resistance from those who thought there was nothing wrong with previous Mayor’s three year old Ford.

He felt the car befitted the mayoral office, and prevailed. He decided to go home and get his own car. It wouldn’t do for the mayor’s car to be spotted somewhere it shouldn’t be. He always met Bobbi in a small motel just out of town.

Gavin had also decided it was time for lunch, after which he would go and carry out his assignment. Wayne had actually rung him to confirm his permission, which he found a little curious. Unlike the mayor, all he had were his sandwiches which he was going to have with a bottle of water, sitting at a table in the council offices courtyard. He took his tablet with him to save having to go back to the office.

As he sat down, he saw Danielle emerging from the building. He gave her a wave, she waved back with a friendly smile and set off down the street. He watched her go, then opened his packet of sandwiches. He gave a start when a voice said teasingly, “So when are you going to make a move on her?”

He turned. It was Diane, one of his colleagues. She seated herself next to him, laughed and said, “You’ve been lusting after her ever since she started work. Don’t you think it’s time?”

Diane was heavily pregnant with her second child and was due to go on maternity leave in the next few weeks. She unpacked her lunch, an enormous sandwich twice the size of his. She saw his look.

“I am eating for two, you know,” she told him.

“I didn’t say anything,” he protested.

“You looked. Anyway, how about it. She’s a sweet girl, she’s single. You need to grab her before some one else snaps her up.”

“How do you know she’s single?”

“She told me of course. The last guy cheated on her. We women talk to each other, you know.”

Diane was a warm, attractive no nonsense person, with a witty sense of humour. He had grown fond of her in the time they had worked together.

He was going to miss her.

“Do you think she’d be interested if I asked her out?”

“You’ll find out when you ask her, won’t you? Do you want me to put in a good word for you?” she asked mischievously.

He wasn’t sure how to respond, then said, “No, I think I’ll take my chances.”

She didn’t tell him she’d already done more than that. She liked Gavin, and thought they’d be good for each other. She wasn’t above doing a bit of matchmaking.

“So where are you off to this afternoon?”

“I’ve got to do some surveying for the mayor.”

She frowned.

“I wonder what he’s up to. Nothing good, I’ll bet.”

He finished his sandwich, drained the last of his water, and got up.

Impulsively, he kissed her on the cheek, and made his way to his car.

Several hours later, he had finished his assignment. Curiously, quite a large section of the land he had surveyed was not owned by council. Like Diane, he wondered why the mayor wanted the information. He had entered all his findings into his tablet. He would present it to his mayorship on his return to the office.

Earlier, Jimmy had dropped off the BMW and picked up his own car. He had rung Bobbi. She had sounded quite reluctant, but when he ordered her to secure the room at the motel, she had acquiesced. He enjoyed a sumptuous lunch and allowed himself only one glass of expensive champagne. It would put a bit of a crimp in his plans if he were to be picked up for being over the limit at this juncture. He put it all on his mayoral credit card as a business expense.

Feeling very mellow, and now rather randy in anticipation, he drove circuitously to the motel, parking a discreet distance away. Bobbi had text him the motel room number. He walked up, knocked on the door and entered. She was sitting in bed wearing his favourite black negligee, the one he would soon be stripping off her and donning himself. It was just one of his little fetishes. He kissed her perfunctorily, taking no notice of her muted response. Soon, he was lying on his back on the bed, negligee covering him to his crotch, hands secured to either side of the bedpost with fur covered handcuffs. Bobbi was doing what she did best. She had given him a long look before she commenced her ministrations. He didn’t understand the look, just impatiently told her to get on with it. He was soon writhing in ecstasy, eyes closed.

He didn’t hear the door open quietly. His eyes only opened when Bobbi stopped.

“Don’t stop now,” he groaned, then they widened in horror as he looked into the angry but triumphant eyes of his wife Darlene.

Bobbi had disappeared. He opened his mouth but nothing came out. He immediately wilted. Darlene held up her smartphone. He knew what that meant. She had recorded it all. No wonder Bobbi had been so reluctant. There really was nothing he could say. He had been caught literally with his pants down. Darlene had still not spoken. She advanced to the bed, picked up the handcuff key and unlocked one of the handcuffs. She walked to the door through which he only vaguely noticed Bobbi leaving. She said, almost sadly, “I want you gone by tonight. You will quit as mayor. I don’t care what excuse you use. The house and everything in it and the car is mine. Also what’s in the bank. I don’t want any of your ill gotten loot that you’ve no doubt got stashed somewhere. Otherwise,” she waved the phone, “You know where this will go. Bobbi’s head was turned, nobody knows who she is, but everyone knows you. I never want to see you again, you bastard!”

Then she was gone.

Jimmy lay there stunned. Thoughts in his head tumbled round and round. How had this happened? He had always been so careful. Obviously not careful enough. His dream of retiring in wealth and luxury had just flown out of the window. And Bobbi. How could she? Darlene had gotten to her and they had set him up. He swore violently. Then he freed himself and was soon driving off to face a very uncertain future, his best laid plans in tatters.


Hearing Aid

Joe sat quietly in the doctors waiting room. He was early, but he had nothing else to do that day. He looked around at the other waiting patients and wondered idly, as he always did, what their stories were. Everyone had a story didn’t they, just like him. He watched them go in one after the other. He hoped they all got the help they wanted.

Then it was his turn. In the consulting room, he warmly shook the doctor’s hand. They had known each other for a long time. In fact, they had met in Vietnam, Joe as a platoon commander, Lewis as a medico who pulled shrapnel out of his leg. They had remained friends and kept in touch long after the war had ended.

Now, Lewis eyed his friend critically, and said, “There’s not anything wrong is there?”

Joe shrugged.

“Depends how you define wrong. I think my family’s trying to kill me.”

”What? That’s ridiculous. Why do you say that?”

“You know I got me this new hearing aid? I didn’t tell them I got it. They still think I’m deaf. I heard them talking. They said it quite openly. They’re going to get rid of the old bastard. That’s me.”

Lewis said, “I’m sure you’re wrong Joe. They love you. There’s no way they would want to kill you.”

“I know what I heard, ” Joe said stubbornly.

“Getting rid of doesn’t necessarily mean kill. They may have meant putting you in an aged care facility or something.”

“I’ve already told them there’s no way I’m going into one of those places.”

“So who exactly said this?”

“Danny, my son. He said it to Claire and Sylvia.”

“Joe, I can’t believe for a moment the girls would be a party to this. Your daughter in law and your daughter? It’s absurd. You must know that. You misheard. It could have been a problem with the audio in your hearing aid.”

“I suppose so, ” Joe admitted.

“Anyway, now I’m here, you may as well do my usual annual physical.”

”Sure, take off your shirt.”

Ten minutes later, dressed again, Joe said, “Well?”

“You’re as fit as I am, considering how old we are. Don’t know about your mental state though. I mean, thinking your kids are planning to kill you. Really?”

“Yeah? Well, if something does happen to me, you’ll look into it won’t you?”

“For god’s sake, Joe, nothing’s going to happen to you. You misheard. Your family loves you.”

Joe got to his feet, gripped his friend’s hand, and said, “Thanks. Come to dinner next Saturday. I’m sure the family would love to see you.”

“What, the same family that’s trying to kill you?”

With a grin, Joe said, “They want to kill me, not you.”

Relieved he was no longer taking the matter seriously, Lewis clapped him on the shoulder and ushered him out.

It was with a profound sense of shock that he received a call from Sylvia, Joe’s daughter three days later. She was hysterical, crying uncontrollably. Joe was dead. A massive heart attack. He had died in seconds, according to paramedics whom they had called immediately it happened. He sat back in his chair, numb and with a huge sense of loss. He had given Joe a clean bill of health only days before. Reality and experience told him heart attacks were unpredictable. They could happen to anyone at any time. He recalled Joe’s concern. His family wanted to get rid of him. Had they succeeded? It was highly improbable. It was sheer coincidence that this had happened so soon after their conversation.

There was a deep and abiding love in their family that he had always admired and envied. Unlike his own fractured one, with a bitter ex-wife, and two children who barely spoke to him, let alone each other. No, he was convinced Joe had misheard. It probably was the hearing aid. But he would make discreet inquiries. There would be an autopsy. The cause of death would be on the death certificate. There was no way in the world he would ever tell them what Joe had thought he heard.

The funeral was five days later. The death certificate confirmed Joe had died of a heart attack. Lewis had been asked to speak as well as quite a few others. Joe had been well-liked by many. Lewis shared wordless, heartfelt and teary embraces with each family member. It was a short simple ceremony, just as Joe would have wanted. The chapel was packed. Lewis said his piece, as did the others. The cremation would be private, the ashes eventually to be scattered at the river mouth near Joe’s favourite fishing spot. There would be a celebratory gathering back at the house with plenty of food and drink.

Lewis wandered around the house, drink in hand, trying to get used to the fact that his friend would no longer be there. The door to the garage was open and he walked in and admired Joe’s specially imported Ford Mustang. There had been many a Sunday drive over the years, the only day he drove it. He supposed it would go to Danny, although the boy had an identical one. They had bought them together.

An arm slipped through his. It was Sylvia, her face drawn, eyes shadowed with grief. She was the spitting image of Rose, Joe’s late wife. He put his arm around her and gently hugged her. She laid her head on his shoulder and in a muffled voice, said, “This is mine now, you know, ” waving at the car.


”Yes. Dad wanted me to have it. Danny’s got his own. Will you come for drives with me?”

“Of course. I’d love to. How are you holding up?”

“Oh Lewis, I miss him so much. What am I going to do?”

She cried silently. He held her, not saying anything. It was still very raw, but, like everything else, time would pass and life would go on.

She pulled out of his arms and said shakily, “God, I must look a wreck. I’ll have to go and patch myself up a bit.”

He said in a comforting tone, “I wouldn’t worry, I don’t think anyone would expect you to be at your best today.”

Arm in arm, they started to walk out of the garage. She stopped and pointed to a shelf.

“Look at that. It’s the old wicker basket Dad used when he took mum on their first-ever picnic. It’s disintegrating. We were just saying the other day we need to get rid of it. I don’t think I could bear to part with it now.”

She continued on into the house. Lewis stood staring at it. Involuntarily, he looked up and said aloud, “You silly bugger. I told you it was your hearing aid!”