Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – #Music, Nessie, #Thai Curry Pastes, New Books, #Reviews, #Health and #Humour


Welcome to the round up of the week’s posts. It only seems a couple of days since I posted the last one! However, we have had a busy week with plenty going on off screen including the renovation of the front garden. All the tree stumps are now all dug up and David survived the process. I have been supervising…. and providing sustenance of course in a timely fashion. He has also dug over all the ground, removed smaller roots and raked it over.

Hopefully the lawn man who promised to come in a couple of weeks a month ago will appreciate that 75% of the job he quoted for is now done and he only has to lay the lawn.

We are also waiting on the guy to come and fix our electronic gate.. He said Wednesday but neglected to tell us which Wednesday. It is frustrating when people say that they will turn up and then do not bother. We have stayed in three times now in the last couple of weeks in anticipation and it is disappointing and frankly unprofessional. The papers are full of how business is not as good as it should be…. I wonder why!

Anyway.. sorry for the little rant!  One thing I can never complain about, is the consistency and commitment by those who contribute to the blog each week with columns and to those of you who tune in regularly to like, comment and share. I really am very grateful.

Time to share the posts from the week that you might have missed…..

The Music Column with William Price King – Josh Groban Part Four.

More hits from this exceptional artist with some of his most recognisable hits that William has provided background to.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/13/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-with-william-price-king-josh-groban-part-four/

Paul Andruss – Writer in Residence.

No post from Paul this week but I always like to reblog from his own site as it is always interesting.. this week.. Nessie… the Loch Ness Monster has been the subject of many scientific studies.. but it is it a myth or a reality?

From the film ‘The Water Horse- Legend of the Deep’

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/smorgasbord-reblog-fantastic-beasts-where-to-5-nessie-by-paul-andruss/

The Cookery and Food Column with Carol Taylor – Thai curry pastes from scratch.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/13/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-cookery-and-food-column-with-carol-taylor-thai-curry-pastes-and-recipes/

The Literary Column with Jessica Norrie – Blast Off! – Memorable first lines of books.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/16/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-literary-column-blast-off-opening-lines-by-jessica-norrie/

Getting to Know You Sunday Interview with Annette Rochelle Aben

Welcome to Getting to Know You where guests pick five questions that reveal a little more about their personality and background. This week my guest is Miss Personality as far as I am concerned. You don’t have to be in the same room with Annette Rochelle Aben to know that she is funny, compassionate, empathetic and generous. That all shines through in her blog posts, social media comments and radio podcasts. And as you will find out… it also shines bright as day in her interview.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/17/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-getting-to-know-you-with-annette-rochelle-aben/

Personal Stuff – Odd Jobs and Characters

I leave my job as housekeeper/cook of the boarding school and hop a train all the way to North Wales where I start a new position at a swanky hotel. Arriving late at night at this gothic mansion was not the best start to a new job I have had!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/14/smorgasbord-posts-from-my-archives-odd-jobs-and-characters-hotel-senior-receptionist-ghostly-arrival-and-a-quick-promotion/

Letters from America – 100 degrees, Key Lime Pie and Adverts

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/14/smorgasbord-letters-from-america-texas-1985-1987-100-degrees-key-lime-pie-and-adverts/

Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story – Serialisation

Chapter One – In the Beginning

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/16/sam-a-shaggy-dog-story-chapter-one-in-the-beginning-by-sally-cronin/

Chapter Two – My New Home.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/17/sam-a-shaggy-dog-story-chapter-two-my-new-home-by-sally-cronin/

A new story written as a guest post for Noelle Granger’s blog – Charlie the Junkyard Dog.

Charlie was a junkyard dog and had the scars to prove it. He was head of security of this fenced off mass of scrap metal, dotted with mounds of old tyres he called home, and he took his job very seriously. During the day, he was chained up next to the beat-up old trailer, where his human would shout loudly at other humans; sometimes throwing things at the thin metal walls. In bad weather Charlie would retreat into a rough scrap wood shelter; resting his bony body on a ragged old corn sack on the hard concrete floor as the water dripped in through the roof.

https://saylingaway.wordpress.com/2018/06/12/charlie-the-junkyard-dog-by-sally-cronin/

Poetry – Haiku

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/smorgasbord-poetry-haiku-the-daredevil-with-tofino-photography/

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist – 1974

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/sallys-drive-time-playlist-music-to-get-the-weekend-started-1974-tiger-feet-by-mud-devil-gate-drive-by-suzi-quatro/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-the-contract-by-john-w-howell-and-gwen-m-plano/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/14/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-cusp-of-night-hodes-hill-series-by-mae-clair/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/16/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-extra-innings-can-you-go-home-again-by-don-massenzio/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/17/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-book-on-the-shelves-secret-dumfries-by-mary-smith-and-photographer-keith-kirk/

Cafe and Bookstore Author Updates

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-tony-riches-jane-risdon-and-brigid-p-gallagher/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-karen-ingalls-deborah-jay-and-alethea-kehas/

Meet the Reviewers

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/13/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-meet-the-reviewers-james-j-cudney-for-angie-dokos-judith-barrow-rbrt-for-jj-toner-and-m-j-mallon-for-carrot-ranch-anthology/

Smorgasbord Health Column – The Summer Fruit Salad

fruit and veg banner

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/12/smorgasbord-health-column-make-the-most-of-summer-fruit-salad/

The Candida Albicans Shopping List

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/smorgasbord-health-column-candida-albicans-the-shopping-list/

Alternative Therapies – The Alexander Technique

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/12/smorgasbord-health-column-alternative-therapies-the-alexander-technique-part-three-standing-sitting-and-walking-correctly/

Humour and Afternoon Videos

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/11/smorgasbord-afternoon-video-animals-and-sports-the-waterskiing-dog/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/12/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-romance-bars-golf-and-irish-pub-signs/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/13/smorgasbord-afternoon-video-animals-and-sport-highdiving-dog/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/14/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-pearly-gate-dilemmas-finding-the-fs-and-passwords/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/smorgasbord-afternoon-video-animals-and-sport-skateboarding-bulldog/

 

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Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – Albert, The Perfect Candidate by Sally Cronin


It is time for the final story from my collection Flights of Fancy.. Next weekend I will start sharing Sam, A Shaggy Dog Story which I hope you will enjoy.

Albert, The Perfect Candidate by Sally Cronin

On Friday night, Albert sat in the white walled room, his eyes closed against the glare from the fluorescent lighting and his hands over his ears to shut out the infernal racket from the wall-mounted television. He did not have to watch the screen to see what images it displayed. Twenty-four hours a day, it brought the fear and disasters of the world into each room in every house and workplace around the country. Terrorism, financial and natural catastrophes and of course superbugs were all guaranteed to make the headlines. He shook his head. Where did all the ‘good news’ stories go?

His mobile telephone had rung several times in the last hour and he knew that it was Marjorie, his partner, no doubt reminding him for the fiftieth time that he must not be late for dinner.

He opened his eyes, switched off his phone and thought about the pile of folders still unopened on his desk. There was also an e-mail from his boss demanding that he should be in his office first thing on Monday morning. Why do they do that? Under normal circumstances Albert would have spent the whole weekend desperately worried in case he was going to be fired. He had every reason to be stressed out anyway – he was late with this month’s mortgage payments, his doctor had told him his cholesterol and blood pressure were through the roof and his blood sugar was not far behind.

He didn’t need the doctor to tell him he was six stone overweight, needed to give up smoking and drinking and was a candidate for a heart attack. He only had to look at his face in the mirror every morning to see that he fell neatly into the 95% of the population who suffered from a lifestyle induced health crisis.

Everyone he knew amongst family and friends was equally unfit. Most of them were on pills of one sort or another and it seemed that once you were put on medication you were on it for life. Sure, most of the major diseases had been eradicated in the last fifty years, but it was easier and quicker to give you tablets to control your blood pressure and cholesterol than go to all the trouble of showing you how to change your lifestyle.

Anyway, what pleasure was there in life if you couldn’t eat a whole pizza with a bottle of wine two or three nights a week? Besides Albert hated fruit and vegetables. Who needed to stand out in a crowd? When all your friends and family and even your doctor were fat and unhealthy too, why change? Still, he wished he could remember a time when he had felt well enough to get up in the mornings.

He looked around him and smiled wryly. At least in one very important aspect he had been extremely successful. He was a perfect example of modern man and this was precisely what they had wanted. All his financial problems would be solved now that he had been accepted into the programme. Marjorie would be well taken care of should the worst happen, and best of all, he was contracted not to make any improvements to his lifestyle for the duration of his lifetime. Bring on the Pizza!

Animal testing had finally become redundant. Eventually it became impossible to recreate, in animals, the levels of physical, mental and emotional stress that humans suffered after prolonged exposure to their modern lifestyle and diet. Scientists could no longer manipulate the gap between species to obtain reliable test subjects without compromising the safety of human trials. Medical records were accessed, and from the millions of suitable candidates, the most qualified specimens were recruited.

The door opened and two lab technicians wearing masks and surgical scrubs walked in wheeling a trolley containing medical instruments.

“Hi Albert,” one of them smiled at him. “This is not going to hurt a bit.”

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – The Psychic Parrot by Sally Cronin


This is a bit of fluffy fiction… about love of an avian kind from my short story collection Flights of Fancy.

The Psychic Parrot by Sally Cronin

I wasn’t sure how I was going to break the news to my husband Simon that I had managed to add another dent to my car. Living in Spain had many advantages — such as the glorious weather, but the roads were not the safest, and parking had its dangers too.

My car was only three months old and already there were scrape marks down one side, two dents in one of the rear doors and this morning I had been involved in an accident with another car. It was not my fault; I was driving slowly down the exit lane from the supermarket when a blue Seat shot out of a side parking area straight into the front passenger door. The impact had jerked me into the steering wheel and I had banged my head on the side window.

The young man driving the Seat had reversed and driven off without stopping leaving me shaking and clutching my head tightly in both hands. Luckily, a lovely couple stopped and came round to my side of the car and helped me out into the blazing mid-day sun. I have only lived in Madrid for a few months and my Spanish is still embarrassingly limited but the man spoke some English and insisted that the police and an ambulance were called immediately. The woman had made a note of the other car’s number plate and they offered to act as witnesses to the accident.

The police and the paramedics arrived within minutes of each other and I sat in the back of the ambulance being examined while the car was checked by the police officers. I don’t know what was more upsetting, my pounding headache or the prospect of Simon’s anger and recriminations. He had been more than scathing about my two previous encounters; one with a concrete post in a parking garage and the other with the metal side of our gate.  I dreaded his reaction to what was turning into a major incident.

The car was drivable but the paramedics wanted me to go to hospital, as they were concerned about my head injury. The police moved my car under some covered parking and handed my keys and handbag to me before driving off with promises of contact when they had found the hit-and-run driver. I thanked the kind couple who had offered me so much assistance and they gave me their card with a request for an update when I felt up to it.

At that moment, I felt like death – my head pounded and the heat seemed to have leached every, last ounce of energy from my bruised body. I lay back on the stretcher and heard the siren wailing above me as we manoeuvred through the busy motorway traffic.

—000—

To be honest I have no idea how I ended up here on my terrace, looking over the garden. The last thing that I remember is wishing that the infernal wailing sound would stop so that my head would be clear enough to come up with a plausible story for the new damage to the car. Simon hates being the centre of attention and he was not going to like the fact that the police were now involved and that word might get back to the Spanish company that he worked for, as an accountant.

My head still ached but I can only assume that they must have given me some painkillers when I got to the hospital. Perhaps they had called Simon and he brought me home, but if that was the case where was he now and how did I get out here onto the terrace?

Wouldn’t he have put me to bed or at least on one of the sofas in the lounge?

I have to say that it was rather pleasant lying out here on a lounger with my feet up even if my head and body still felt painful and lifeless. I couldn’t seem to move my hands or my feet and a dreadful thought occurred to me as I realised that perhaps I was paralysed, but dismissed this as ridiculous. If that were the case then I would still be in hospital under medical care.

I could just about move my neck, which seemed to be trapped in a rigid muscular spasm. My eyes scanned the long terrace on the side of the house and I looked into the garden through the dark metal fencing. A movement caught my eye halfway along the railings and a grey object started moving sideways along the metal. At first, the image was blurred and I could feel fear building up in my chest as it shuffled closer. Within a couple of moments my eyes managed to focus and to my astonishment I found myself staring into a piercingly bright eye surrounded by pearly white skin.

I am not an expert on birds but even I could recognise a parrot when I saw one. The bird cocked its head to one side and we examined each other carefully. I have to say that it looked much more attractive than I felt. A mixture of dark and pearl grey feathers covered its body and in contrast to the white skin around the eyes, the black beak looked almost menacing.

I must have been holding my breath as I suddenly felt as though I was suffocating and frighteningly I heard strange voices speaking in Spanish in my already aching head. The urgency in the voices rose to a crescendo and then faded back down again as I let out a breath, releasing the tension in my body. I felt myself slipping away into sleep and I welcomed the sensation; I knew the pain would be gone and I would not have to explain myself to Simon. I almost smiled with relief as I drifted away closing my eyes against the glare of the light streaming through the railings onto my sun bed. I had not noticed how bright the light was but the strange thing was that the light was getting stronger rather than fading as I slipped into sleep.

“Wake up, wake up.” A forceful voice shook me out of my peaceful descent into rest.
My eyes shot open and I found myself staring right into the parrot’s face as it sat on my chest. I panicked as I couldn’t move to defend myself and I was convinced that this bird was going to peck my eyes out or worse, without me being able to doing anything to prevent it.

“Don’t panic, it’s alright. But don’t go to sleep. Okay!” The voice sounded rather cultured and somewhat familiar and I relaxed a little as the intent behind the words managed to calm my fears.

“You and I need to have a chat and you can’t listen to me if you are asleep.” I realised that the parrot was trying to hold a conversation with me but I found it very difficult to grasp the reality of the situation. How could I be lying on my terrace with a grey parrot on my chest giving me orders about whether I should go to sleep or not.

I managed to open my mouth and croak in its direction. “You’re not real are you?” I tried to focus on the fact that it might be a wind-up toy that Simon had brought home for a practical joke. This I dismissed as unlikely bearing in mind his total lack of a sense of humour.

“I am very real Susan and I need you to concentrate because I am going to help you.”
I blinked my eyes wearily as this was simply not acceptable. I just wanted to close my eyelids and drift off peacefully to sleep.

“Susan, open your eyes and pay attention.” The bird snapped at me as it moved impatiently around on my breasts. It paced back and forth, rocking its head and making hissing sounds under its breath.

“You always do this when there is a problem, run away, hide your feelings rather than confront issues. And look where it has got you.” My eyes jerked open and I stared at a parrot who dared to tell me how ineffectual I was. It was bad enough that I had a husband who constantly criticised and belittled me; I certainly did not need a vermin ridden avian to have a go at me too.

“Don’t get in a huff, just because you know it’s true,” The bird walked right up to my face and glared at me. “You have allowed that husband of yours to get away with bullying you for years now and here you are about to disappear without telling him how you feel.”

It was hard to feel righteous anger at the bird’s words, as I knew, deep in my bruised chest, that it was speaking the truth.

“How do you know all this,” I croaked quietly.

“I am a psychic African Grey Parrot and I can read your mind! You have got one you know.”

I was finding it incredibly difficult to take all of this in and could only assume that they had given me some form of hallucinogenic drugs at the hospital. That would explain everything and all I needed to do was relax and go along with everything that happened, because it was an illusion.

“It is not a hallucination,” the parrot continued, “in fact this is one of the most important moments of your life and you need to experience everything.”

“You have spent the last fifteen years of your life with a man who not only belittles you at every opportunity but has also been unfaithful on several occasions.”

I gasped expelling the breath from my body as I felt two incredible shocks thunder through my chest.

“That is simply not true, Simon loves me he would never do that to me.” My whispered denials fell on deaf ears.”

“You know it’s true but you have shut your eyes to his infidelity and the way he treats you because he has made you feel worthless,” the parrot continued as it walked back and forth across my chest.

“You used to be so bright and enthusiastic, so full of life. But he has sucked you dry until you are now lying here helpless and unwilling to help yourself.”

I wanted to get up and punch this obnoxious bird’s lights out. I couldn’t remember when I had felt so enraged and indignant. I squeezed my eyes shut and willed my body to respond.

“That’s it, show me what you’ve got, haven’t felt as alive as this for a while have you?”

I could sense through my tightly clenched eyelids that there was a presence up very close and personal. I opened my eyes and found myself drawn deep down into the bright face in front of me.

“Keep fighting Susan, great things are waiting for you and you will miss out on a wonderful life if you go to sleep. I will be here and we are going to do all the things that you have wanted to do, but never dared, as soon as you are on your feet again.” With that, the parrot flew away from my chest and swooped over the railings and into the garden.

As it left, I could just hear its voice on the hot afternoon air. “Don’t let me down Susan, open your eyes and see what a wonderful life you could have.”

“Come back, come back,” I cried as I watched the bird fly into the sun-dappled trees at the edge of the garden. Funnily enough, despite the dreadful things that the bird had said to me, I felt a tremendous sense of loss. It was as though I was saying goodbye to an old friend, someone I had known a long time ago who had returned for a brief moment.

Then I heard other voices. A Spanish man who was talking calmly and a voice I recognised raised in anger. “Señor, I really must ask you to keep your voice down as your wife is very ill. We nearly lost her twice and we are still uncertain of the extent of her head injury.” I could sense the voices moving away into the distance.

“I am sure that your wife will be able to tell you what has happened when she regains consciousness but now is not the time to try and disturb her with angry questions.”

Then all was quiet and for the first time in many years, I felt a sense of peace wash through my body. However, it was not just calmness that swept over me, but also a sense of purpose and a determination that I thought had deserted me long ago. I was not afraid to sleep now; I needed my rest as I had a great deal ahead of me.

—000—

It is just over a year later and I am lying on my lounger on the terrace of my house. It is not as large or grand as my previous home but it is all mine, as is the rather battered car parked in my driveway. I am no longer in exotic Madrid but in the picturesque village of Hamble, a stone’s throw from the river. Despite Simon’s initial blustering and his ridicule about my ability to care for myself, I had, with the help of a very efficient lawyer, negotiated sufficient funds for me to buy this modest house and provide a reasonable standard of living. I was not however, planning on being dependent on Simon for the rest of my life, as I had put several plans in motion.

I have just finished writing my first novel and it is being published in a few months. I have a new and very able personal assistant who in fact was the inspiration for the title of the book.

I looked over to the corner of the terrace where Cleo was rolling around with some toys, enthusiastically screeching in pretended anger. Suddenly she stopped and flew through the air, landing lightly on my chest.

“I told you so, I told you so.”

“Yes, you certainly did Cleo; you are a very clever parrot indeed.”

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

 

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – The Sewing Circle Part Four by Sally Cronin


Here is the final part of my novella. The Sewing Circle from my short story collection Flights of Fancy. You can find part three, with links to one and two here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/04/smorgasbord-short-stories-flights-of-fancy-the-sewing-circle-part-three-by-sally-cronin/

The Sewing Circle Part Four

The next morning the rumours started within the various communities around the estate.
Sharon Jackson was having an affair with a police officer from the narcotic division.

Nobody suspected that the whispers that infested the bingo hall, corner shop, post office and surgery waiting room, were started by five old women as they went about their business. Those who dealt drugs on the estate were understandably nervous, and tried to find out more information; without much success. This only served to make them even more paranoid, and soon the rumour mill was working overtime on the stairways until news of it reached the ears of Sharon Jackson.

She was furious, but didn’t have the intelligence to work out how to combat the growing tide of speculation, or the false accusations about her. The one thing she did have, was a healthy respect for her husband’s fists, and as the days passed, she became increasingly terrified that word would reach Archie. Even though he was banged up inside, she knew he had a long reach; time was not on her side.

She was definitely right about that one. A week after the gossip started, Sylvia Ross left the estate and took a taxi to the Docklands. In a wine bar there, she met with an elderly man who despite his walking stick, still strode confidently across the floor to the table where she sat, beautifully dressed and made-up.

An hour later Sylvia left and returned to a meeting at Betty’s flat. She said little but she nodded to Big Sal, and they both knew that the toughest part of their plan was in play.

Three weeks later Sharon Jackson went missing. A concerned elderly woman rang the social services, mentioning that there were four young children living alone in a flat in Grange House. By the end of the day, with no sign of their mother, the police had been informed and the children were taken into temporary care. Darren, who was still at his aunt’s house in Epping Forest, was alerted by one of his gang members, and he got his cousin to bring him home on his bike, where he let himself into the now deserted flat.

He was not bothered by losing his entire family in the slightest. He now had the freedom to live and do as he pleased, even though Sharon’s idea of parenting had been relaxed to say the least. He could get up when he wanted, eat what and when he liked and best of all he could drink his favourite tipple, vodka, all day without his mother sharing the contents of the bottle. His friends all came round to sample the delights of the new gang headquarters, and the neighbours were subjected to noisy parties into the small hours, and harassment on the walkways and stairs.

The social workers came around, but their hands were tied, as Darren had turned sixteen while away at his aunts, and could not be persuaded to give up his freedom and go into some form of care. The council promised to re-house the boy, as he couldn’t remain in a three bed roomed flat on his own, but were not sure how quickly this would happen. On the fourth day, two large men in suits appeared and the residents on that landing assumed that they were from the council, who had been called that morning with further complaints and requests for assistance.

The two men knocked on the door to the Jackson’s flat and one of Darren’s mates, on his way out to collect more vodka, inadvertently opened it and admitted them into the confined hall. He took one look at their faces and hurriedly left, glancing nervously over his shoulder as he ran down the landing. Within minutes he was followed by the rest of the gang, one of them nursing his right ear; trying to hold back unmanly tears.

The neighbours on each side of the flat listened with ears pressed to their lounge walls but they couldn’t hear a word. They were beginning to doubt that the two men were from the council after all, and their suspicions were confirmed when sounds of a more physical nature were heard from the Jackson’s living room.

Twenty minutes later, the two men left; carefully closing the door of the flat behind them. All was silent and the neighbours on either side settled down to enjoy their after lunch television programmes and well-deserved nap.

Several hours passed and just as they were settling down again for the evening, the neighbours heard someone falling around inside the Jacksons’ flat. It sounded as though furniture and ornaments were being knocked over, and then a crash as something heavy such as a television smashed to the floor. Not wishing to get involved in anything to do with the family, the police were not called and about half an hour later they heard the front door being opened. On both sides of the flat, curtains were twitched and eyes followed the progress of the figure that emerged onto the landing.

It was an astonishing sight. It was Darren, but barely recognisable, as he stumbled in high-heeled shoes, drunkenly down the landing. He was wearing a tight satin dress, fishnet tights and he was wearing make-up and jewellery. The neighbours found themselves tittering and laughing at the spectacle as Darren staggered towards the stairs. A man returning from work stood one of the stairwells, transfixed by the vision before him. Darren stared glassily back at him and then grabbing the handrail almost slid to the bottom of the steps. He didn’t even appear to see the man in front of him, and tottering on his stilettos, he swung around the corner and down the next flight.

Unfortunately for Darren, he was inexperienced in the management of high heels and as he reached the top of the last flight of stairs leading to the car park, he slipped and fell untidily to the bottom landing in a crumpled heap.

He lay motionless as a crowd of residents clustered around him. One daring soul prodded the supine body with the toe of his shoe and then leapt back as the body began to twitch and jerk before going rigid and collapsing back onto the dusty surface of the pavement.

The post mortem showed that Darren had a great deal of alcohol in his system as well as a considerable amount of recreational drugs. No one else was suspected in his death although the residents of the estate had their own ideas. Darren’s gang were not bothered by the nature of Darren’s death, but were mortified to think that their leader, and the terror of the neighbourhood, was secretly a lover of fine clothes, high heels, make up and jewellery.

Those gang members that lived on other estates were never seen again, and those that remained on the Redgrave kept a very low profile. Some even went as far as to go to school on a regular basis and one graduated to college where he trained as a social worker.

000000

A month after Sharon’s disappearance and Darren’s death, Archie Jackson apparently slipped on a bar of soap in the prison shower and hit his head on the tiles. His death was ruled as accidental by the authorities.

The sewing circle continued to meet although they were not only missing the lovely Flo, but Sylvia too on some occasions. In the weeks following their successful campaign, she could be seen getting into an elegant black car one or two mornings a week. One day as the friends sat around working on their latest projects, she looked up and smiled at them gently.

“I have some news.” They all turned to her expectantly.

“I am getting married.” She announced to her open-mouthed audience.

“It’s someone I have known for years, a widower living in Chingford. He has got a lovely house and he says it is too big and empty for him on his own.”

She drew a handful of envelopes out of her handbag and distributed them around the stunned women.

“I hope you will all come to the wedding, and be my bridesmaids, and when we get back from honeymoon, I would like you to come out to me every week for our meetings as I don’t want to give them up.”

Big Sal who was sitting next to Sylvia, grabbed her in her ample embrace and kissed her resoundingly on her powdered cheek.

“You just try and stop us you sly old floozy. Perhaps you can set us all up with mates of his at the wedding? We could all do with a bit of a fling!”

The others all laughed and Betty rushed to the kitchen for the sherry bottle and five glasses.

As they toasted the future Mrs Mitchell, they also raised their glasses to their beloved friend Flo and prayed that she could now rest in peace.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – The Sewing Circle Part Three by Sally Cronin


Welcome to part three of my novella The Sewing Circle from Flights of Fancy.  In yesterday’s episode the sewing circle are united in the grief at the loss of their friend.  The final part of the story is tomorrow…

Part two of the story with link to part one: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/03/smorgasbord-short-stories-flights-of-fancy-the-sewing-circle-part-two-by-sally-cronin/

The Sewing Circle – Part Three by Sally Cronin

The next afternoon, instead of sitting around completing sewing projects, the women sat quietly as each held a memento in their laps. The objects were neither expensive nor necessarily attractive, but they all reminded the women of some different aspect of Flo’s personality. Big Sal cradled a little ceramic dog that had obviously been lovingly handled over the years.

“Flo bought this when her little Yorkie died,” she wiped a tear from her cheek. “She was a feisty one that Flo and I bet if she was here she would have a thing or two to say about those bastard Jacksons.”

Sylvia examined her manicured nails and then looked up at the rest of the circle.

“I know if it had been one of us Flo would have marched up to that Sharon Jackson and given her one over the head with her brolly.”

The thought of the tiny Flo giving slovenly Sharon a good slapping made her friends laugh, and within minutes they started to throw in other suggestions of what evil might befall the Jackson clan. As the proposed retribution became more and more virulent, the laughter died away and slowly the five women began to look at each other in silence.

Big Sal picked up her copious black handbag and extracted a pencil and a piece of paper. On the back of an old shopping list she jotted down some of the ideas already mentioned and sat hand poised to record any more.

Maggie Baxter, who was proudly conversant with the entire Bible, clapped her hands and grabbed everyone’s attention.

“Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins.” Maggie smiled at them all. “That book of Leviticus was sure clear about making those poor Israelites pay and I guess what was good enough for them is good enough for those Jackson’s”

Mary Jones who was the frailest of the group looked worriedly at her friends.

“But what can we do, we are only a few old ladies and those Jacksons have a big family and they are all thugs and thieves.”

Big Sal reached over and patted her hand gently.

“Don’t worry love; I think we can bank on a few recruits from the other residents and what we don’t have in brawn we will make up for in brains.”

Sylvia sat silently, wiping the odd tear from her heavily made up face. What the other members of the sewing circle didn’t know, was that Flo and Sylvia shared a secret from the past, making this violent loss even more poignant.

In her twenties, Sylvia had been vibrantly attractive and had met and married Davy Ross, a minor name in the East End. He had worked for Mike Mitchell who ran an extensive extortion and prostitution racket in the fifties and sixties and Davy was known for his temper, and his ability to collect money with menaces.

Unfortunately for Sylvia, Davy liked to take his work home with him, and she spent quite a bit of time in the casualty department of the local hospital, having ‘bumped into’ fixed objects in her home. Friends tried to persuade her to leave him, but Sylvia knew that he would find her and kill her if she left.

A job had been planned at a large high street bank, and at the last minute, a member of the gang got nicked and a replacement had to be found. Mike Mitchell who had masterminded the job recruited Davy into the team, a little reluctantly bearing in mind his unpredictable temper. He was right to be concerned, as the night watchman at the bank, ended up getting more of a hiding than he might have done with the original set up. Unfortunately for Davy, the guard survived and was able to give the police an accurate description of his assailant. Davy knew the score and accepted his ten years inside without grassing up either the other members of the gang or his boss, who honoured the unspoken code of the East End, by making sure Sylvia was taken care of.

Sylvia knew that with good behaviour, her violent husband might be out in five or six years. She prayed that his temper, and his inability to keep his fists to himself, would ensure he served the full sentence. She had originally trained as a hairdresser and she opened a little shop close to her home and began to live a new life of freedom.

Flo was one of her regular customers, and being from the area was fully aware of Sylvia’s past troubles, although they were never mentioned. Neither was the increasingly frequent visits to the shop by Mike Mitchell, who was crossing the bounds of the accepted code of behaviour by fancying the wife of one of his own men; serving time for one of his jobs.
Sylvia was wary at first, as she knew the man’s reputation, but he was good looking and charming and began to show her a life that she did not know existed. Fancy restaurants and weekends in the country; away from the prying eyes of the East End, and Mike’s wife; definitely clouded her judgement, and she found herself falling in love with the mobster.

Their affair lasted two years, and in that time, Sylvia neither wrote nor visited Davy in prison despite his constant demands. Unfortunately, nature stepped in and Sylvia found herself telling Mike that he was going to be a father in seven months’ time. This fact did not overly please him, as he already had four children and a wife who would take him to the cleaners if she found out. Despite being a hard man, Mike loved his family and had to convince Sylvia that if she kept the child it would have to remain a secret. Not only that, but Davy was not going to be happy about finding out, which would be very dangerous for both Sylvia and the child.

This proved to be the case, when a woman who lived in Sylvia’s street, decided to inform her husband on a prison visit of the local gossip, and that Sylvia was expecting. The man got a broken jaw for his trouble when he passed the information onto Davy, and within days, a message was passed to the outside.

Sylvia was locking up her hairdressers for the night, when two men grabbed her from behind and dragged her into a nearby alley. Two hours later Flo was passing on her way to the Bingo hall, when she heard what she thought sounded like a frightened kitten in the narrow gap between the buildings. She ventured a little way into the darkness and saw an arm protruding from behind a heap of rubbish bags. She rushed forward, completely oblivious to her own safety and found Sylvia curled up holding her stomach with one arm, bleeding across the dirty cobblestones.

Flo rushed back into the street, persuading a passing man to go to the nearest phone box and call for the police and ambulance. She returned to cradle Sylvia’s head in her lap while they waited for help. She went with her to the hospital and was by her bedside when she regained consciousness after her operation. Sylvia suffered a broken nose, crushed pelvis, fractured skull, and had lost her baby. As she looked down into the bruised and battered face, Flo knew that this was not the end. That Davy was not going to let it rest and would no doubt finish the job when he finally got out of prison.

Mike Mitchell was also aware that this beating was just an instalment. It was really no surprise to anyone that a week later, Davy Ross unfortunately slipped on some soap in the shower and banged his head. He was dead when the guards found him. Sylvia was notified as she lay in her hospital bed coming to terms with the loss of her baby. She also knew that Mike Mitchell could now never come near her again, in case he was implicated in her husband’s death.

Flo understood, being the mother of so many children herself, and having lost one or two in early pregnancy, how Sylvia must be feeling. She was holding her hand firmly when the doctors told her that due to the beating she had received, she would never be able to have any more children in the future. Over the next few years, Flo and Sylvia became close friends but the events surrounding the beating and death of Davy were never discussed again.

Even the other members of the sewing circle were unaware of the shared past of two of their closest friends, and although they knew that Flo and Sylvia went back a long way, they were taken by surprise at the level of grief that Sylvia experienced. She had cried for two days, refusing to leave her flat or even get dressed in one of her elegant but out-dated suits. She finally appeared at Betty’s flat and sat silently as mourners came and went with their offerings. Eventually her friends gave up trying to get her to talk, taking it in turns to sit beside her, leaning in so that she could feel their comfort.

As a memento of her beloved friend, Sylvia had chosen a pale yellow silk scarf that Flo had worn often. She now ran the scarf through her fingers time after time before looking around at the others as they sat quietly remembering their friend.

“It would be lovely to see the Jacksons brought down and all sorts of evil things done to them, but we have to be realistic about what we can do ourselves.” She sighed wearily as her friends listened intently.

“The younger kids are not to blame but they shouldn’t be with that mother of theirs. They deserve a chance to live a decent life.” She paused and looked down at the scarf wound through her fingers.

“Sharon Jackson and that son of hers deserve everything they get and we need to make sure that they never do this to anyone else again.” She gave a tight smile.

“We have to get to Archie Jackson inside and feed him a story about Sharon and he will take care of her for us.” Her friends listened in fascination as Sylvia displayed a side of her they had never even imagined before. “After that he needs taking care off so that he can have nothing more to do with his kids as they grow up.”

“As for that Darren, he is past redeeming and needs to be got rid of like any other vermin on the estate and we have to get him to do the job on himself.”

The others looked at each other, realising that if they were to undertake this revenge on the Jacksons, they were reverting to the old life that they had known young women living in the East End. They also knew, that if they didn’t do something, then the Jacksons would continue to terrorise this estate and any others they moved to. The key was to cut the head off the clan in the form of Sharon Jackson. Without her around, and Archie taken care of in prison, the younger members of the family would be put into care and unlikely though it seemed, that might give them a chance of a better life than remaining with their mother and father. Darren however had to go, as they knew, without any doubt, that he had cold bloodedly killed Flo. He now had power and he would use it against people for the rest of his life.

The final part of the story is tomorrow….

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Weekly Round Up – With friends – William Price King, Paul Andruss, Carol Taylor, Esme, Billy Ray Chitwood and other brilliant writers.


Welcome to the weekly round up and the posts that you might have missed.  I am finding it hard to believe we are into June already and I have to say we have had an amazing week as far as weather is concerned here in the south east of Ireland. A little overcast today but we have been spared the terrible thunderstorms and flash flooding suffered by our friends across the Irish Sea. Our first crop of sparrow babies is now fledged and that usually means that mum and dad will be producing a second clutch of eggs. Judging my the noise they are making at dawn, they have already made a start on that project!

We have a water bath for the birds and the starlings take full advantage, and no sooner than I have refilled it (several times a day) they are in their splashing and preening. The bird feeding tree and bath were our joint Christmas presents to each other this year, and I have to say that it is a gift that keeps giving. The view from our kitchen window is entertaining and heart warming.

As always a massive thank you to the regular contributors who share their expertise with us.  And to you for dropping in and showing your support by liking, commenting and sharing.

Here are the posts from the week.

William Price King shares the early successes of Josh Groban who won the hearts of his fans and stormed up the charts within months of his debut album being released.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/30/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-music-column-with-william-price-king-josh-groban-part-two/

Paul Andruss our Writer in Residence, with a post on his own blog which is well worth you reading, especially if you are a classical music lover… Frederick Delius

Please head over and read on Paul’s blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/freds-amanuensis/

Carol Taylor took one of our most popular proteins and gave Chicken a makeover in her weekly column.. Thai Basil, Lemon, Jerk seasoning and Tarragon are the stars.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/30/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-the-cookery-and-food-column-with-carol-taylor-a-veritable-feast-of-chicken/

Esme’s Party Piece – Predictions for June

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/smorgasborg-blog-magazine-esmes-party-piece-monthly-forecast-june-2018/

Getting to Know You – Sunday Interview with Billy Ray Chitwood.

Welcome to the Sunday interview and this week my guest is author Billy Ray Chitwood.  Before we find out which of the questions Billy Ray has chosen to respond to including something he lost, his favourite music, Mountains or Beach and his alternative career path.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/03/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-getting-to-know-you-author-billy-ray-chitwood/comment-page-1/#comment-147305

Personal Stuff..

Odd Jobs and Characters – some of the jobs that were featured in my novel Just an Odd Job Girl. This week, I am  the landlady of a pub at the entrance to Cowes Harbour… Saturday nights the booze cruises would come over from Southampton with interesting results.

 

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/smorgasbord-posts-from-my-archives-odd-jobs-and-ch-pub-landlady-saturday-night-shenanigans-cowesaracters/

Letters from America – July 1985 – and a visit to Hanna Barbara Land with three young children and lilo racing!

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/smorgasbord-letters-from-america-1985-1987-hanna-barbara-land-bbq-and-lilo-races/

Sally’s Drive Time Playlist. – 1972.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/sallys-drive-time-playlist-music-to-get-the-weekend-started-1972-elton-john-and-johnny-nash/

Sally’s Cafe and BookstoreNew on the Shelves

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-new-on-the-shelves-scout-pilot-of-the-free-union-spaceopera-by-will-macmillan-jones/

Author Update – Reviews

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-reviews-stevie-turner-d-g-kaye-terry-tyler-and-bette-a-stevens/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-author-update-teri-polen-marina-osipova-amy-m-reade-and-pamela-s-wight/

Smorgasbord Short Stories

Flights of Fancy – The Sewing Circle  Part one and Two.

A group of elderly women have formed a sewing circle that meet regularly. They offer support, friendship and love to each other on an estate that is being plagued by hooligans.

Part One

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/02/smorgasbord-short-stories-flights-of-fancy-the-sewing-circle-part-one-by-sally-cronin/

Part Two

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/03/smorgasbord-short-stories-flights-of-fancy-the-sewing-circle-part-two-by-sally-cronin/

Health Column

The five part digestive system series.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/smorgasbord-health-column-the-digestive-system-part-one-it-begins-in-the-mouth-by-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/smorgasbord-health-column-the-digestive-system-part-two-the-oesophagus-acid-reflux-and-stomach-by-sally-cronin/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/30/smorgasbord-health-column-the-digestive-system-part-three-the-liver-largest-waste-organ-inside-the-body/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/smorgasbord-health-column-the-digestive-system-part-four-liver-diseases/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/smorgasbord-health-column-the-digestive-system-the-pancreas-gallbladder-and-intestines/

Nutrients the body needs – Vitamin E.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/smorgasbord-health-column-nutrients-the-body-needs-vitamin-e-tocopheral-brain-health-circulatory-and-immune-systems/

Food in the news – Research is showing that you do need the good carbohydrates that are whole grain and contain essential nutrients.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/smorgasbord-health-column-food-in-the-news-carbs-dont-throw-out-the-good-ones/

Alternative Therapies – The Alexander Technique – Introduction.

A technique used by performers all over the world to improve their posture and open up their lungs and strengthen muscles.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/30/smorgasbord-health-columns-alternative-healing-therapies-the-alexander-technique-part-one-backpain-headaches-posture/

Humour and Afternoon Videos

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/smorgasbord-afternoon-video-lets-all-have-a-mud-bath/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-one-liners-marathon-part-two-31-60/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/30/smorgasbord-afternoon-video-a-compilation-of-unusual-animal-friendships/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/31/smorgasbord-laughter-lines-one-liners-part-three-feel-free-to-groan/

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/smorgasbord-afternoon-video-anyone-for-table-tennis-the-cats-whiskers/

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – The Sewing Circle Part Two by Sally Cronin


Welcome to Part two of this novella. In the previous chapter we met the members of the Sewing Circle and discovered that their happy retirement was marred by the presence on one particularly disruptive family on the estate.

Part one of the story: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/06/02/smorgasbord-short-stories-flights-of-fancy-the-sewing-circle-part-one-by-sally-cronin/

One Wednesday evening Flo Miles won over £500 on the bingo. She was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to share her news with her closest friends in the sewing circle. One of her bingo pals owned a mobile phone, and with great delight, Flo called Betty to tell her the news. What she didn’t know was that Sharon Jackson and her sister were sitting right behind her, and had made note of the substantial win.

Betty suggested that her friend come round for a sherry to celebrate. Flo decided to call it a night and get a taxi back to the estate straight away. She left the bingo hall, looking up and down the street for one of the cabs that normally parked outside. Unfortunately, there was still two hours to go of the evening bingo session, and the usual line of cars was not to be seen.

Flo was so elated by her win, she decided she wouldn’t hang about any longer, and would walk the short distance home, something she had done many times. She was blissfully unaware that at precisely the same time, Sharon Jackson was on her mobile phone, setting Flo up for another surprise tonight.

Despite being on probation, Sharon’s eldest son Darren had made little effort to control his violent and anti-social behaviour. When his mother had rung him, he was hanging out on one of the stairwells with two of his mates from his previous address. They had been drinking vodka and smoking shoplifted cigarettes as they sat on the steps leading to the top landing; fired up and ready for trouble.

Darren snapped shut his mobile phone and looked at his mates. “Mum says some old bitch has just won over five big ones at the bingo and is on her way home.” He smiled evilly showing brown discoloured teeth. “She says I can have half if I get the cash without being seen! Anyone fancy a laugh?”

With his two mates in tow, Darren scurried rat-like down the darkened stairs to the parking area below. Flo was just entering the estate from the main road, trying to move as quickly as possible in and out of the shadows, lurking outside the reach of the street lamps. She was looking warily around her but held her head up high, marching determinedly in the direction of the flats.

As she approached the entrance to Betty’s block, she had to pass some dumpsters on her left and failed to notice the movement in the darkened recesses between the bins. Suddenly a hand was clamped over her mouth and her bag, which was held tightly under her arm, was ripped away. She struggled as she fought for breath and she found herself on the ground feeling the jagged gravel through her clothing. Her eyes widened as she put her hands up to try and pry loose the hand around her mouth, and she looked pleadingly up into the hard eyes of her attacker, who she recognised immediately.

Darren knew that the old bitch had made him and he had a decision to make. Should he do a runner with his mates, with the bag, and wait for the coppers to catch up with him? He was already on probation, but this would certainly get him inside some juvenile detention centre. On the other hand, he could finish the job here and now. He held his hand tightly cupped over Flo’s nose and mouth, pressing down steadily as her struggles weakened and finally stopped. Satisfied that he had eliminated his victim, and witness to his crime, he slid back into the shadows where his friends waited in breathless admiration.

Betty laid out the sherry glasses and some special crisps that she had bought for the next sewing circle meeting. After half an hour, she became worried that Flo had still not appeared and crossed to her lounge window overlooking the parking lot. At first, she saw little but as her eyes adjusted to the dark outside, she noticed a heap of what appeared to be clothing lying by the dumpsters. For some reason a feeling of dread clutched at her heart, and she rushed to the phone to call Big Sal who lived two floors up from her.

“Sal, can you come down, I think something has happened to Flo and I don’t want to go outside alone.”

Within minutes Sal was at the door, and the two elderly women cautiously walked hand in hand towards the dark shape lying motionless on the ground. As they got closer they saw a hand, palm up stretched pleadingly in their direction. Hearts beating rapidly they drew closer and looked down at the frail face of their beloved friend. Betty immediately knelt down and touched Flo’s face.

“She’s still breathing Sal. Quickly, go and call an ambulance from my flat while I stay with her.”

She handed her keys to Sal who hesitated for a moment tears pouring down her face. “Hurry Sal, don’t worry I will be fine.”

As Sal hurried inside, Betty cradled Flo’s head in her lap and leaned as close as she could to her motionless friend. As she bent forward, she thought she heard a whisper coming from the bruised lips.

“Flo, it’s me Betty, what is it love?” She gently stroked Flo’s forehead.

“Jackson……boy…..” With that, Flo breathed softly and for the last time.

By the time the police and ambulance arrived on the scene, Darren Jackson was on the back of his cousin’s motorbike; halfway to his aunt’s house on the edge of Epping Forest. He was celebrating his elevation to hardened criminal by replaying the incident repeatedly as he clasped his cousin around his waist. Little did he realise that like his father before him, he had botched a job.

The Jackson family were well known by the police, and it was not long before Sharon’s sister found a number of coppers on her doorstep with a warrant. They found a newly scrubbed Darren, wearing his cousin’s clothes, and smirking as his alibi was established by his extended family; and a few of their mates for good measure. Without forensic evidence, and with their only witness lying in the mortuary at a South London hospital, the investigation stalled.

Everyone knew who had murdered their beloved Flo, and even families on the Redgrave who had never spoken to the old lady, stopped at Betty’s flat with shop-bought cakes and sympathy. The other members of the sewing circle sat in vigil with their distraught friend as she repeatedly relived finding Flo in that crumpled heap in the dark.

The police officer in charge of the investigation came from the area and knew both the Redgrave and the Jacksons well. He could only promise that he would not close the case but would watch and wait for Darren to return to his mother’s flat and get back with his little gang again. The detective was convinced that Darren would be unable to keep his mouth shut, and would end up boasting about his first major excursion into his father’s violent world. When he did, the detective was sure that his informants in the area would find out, and they would get Darren eventually.

The members of the sewing circle were united in their grief and spent the next week together in Betty’s flat, from early morning until late at night. The funeral was eventually arranged by Flo’s extended family and her close friends were all included at every stage. On the afternoon of the service, the sun shone in defiance and the five friends left Betty’s flat together walking proudly towards the waiting black cab that Flo’s family had laid on. They were all smartly dressed, wearing their best hats in honour of the occasion. The service was lovely and the five elderly women held hands as they watched the hearse taking Flo to the crematorium glide sedately pass them outside the church.

After the tea at a local pub, Flo’s eldest son took them home personally in his people carrier walking them to the door of Betty’s flat.

“My mum would have wanted you to have first pick of her special things, so why don’t I come back tomorrow morning, and you can come up with me and choose something to remember her by.” With a hug for them all, he left and the five filed into Betty’s kitchen to drink more tea and to reminisce into the night about their lost friend.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – The Sewing Circle – Part One by Sally Cronin


Welcome to another story from Flights of Fancy .. this is novella length so I will be spreading it over several days. I hope you enjoy.


The Sewing Circle – Part One

The sewing circle met at Betty’s flat on the ground floor of Malcolm House, every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon. There were six regular members, and the odd person who dropped in, who appreciated the group was the source of gossip and information about the Redgrave Estate.

Copious cups of tea were provided with members taking it in turn to produce homemade cakes that were judged critically during the course of the afternoon. Recipes were swapped and toppings envied as the ladies knitted and embroidered the hours away. All of the members were over eighty and had lived varied and sometimes tragic lives. They had been born and brought up in this deprived area of South London, and the fact that they still participated so fully in their lives, was a testament to their strength of character.

The tenant of the flat, and gracious hostess, was Betty Smith. She had been lucky in as much as her husband had lived long enough to enjoy ten years of retirement with her. They had lived in the annexe of their son’s lovely house near Chelmsford, but after Arthur’s death, Betty felt lonely and isolated, especially with her son and daughter-in-law out at work every day. She moved into the flats five years ago, and was delighted to find that several of her old friends were not only still alive, but resident on the estate. She was now eighty-six and a firm favourite with the younger children on the Redgrave; eager recipients of her cupcakes.

Mary Jones was eighty-three, had lost two husbands in the Second World War, three children as babies, and had toiled into her seventies as a cleaner at an office block in the heart of the City. Her wrinkled face identified a life-long affair with nicotine and her skin had the patina of a well-polished piece of walnut. Mary was the matinee-jacket expert, having knitted for four generations of the offspring of her two surviving daughters. Her eyesight was not all that it used to be but her loving family forgave her the odd dropped stitch. Arthritis made it difficult for her to get out on her own. The other more mobile members of the circle would walk with her to the post office to collect her pension on Thursdays and to the convenience store on the corner of the estate. She had recently started using a wheeled stroller and was very pleased with her new-found independence. With the help of her neighbour, she had even made it down to the Red Lion pub for the pensioner’s special one week, and was planning to make this a regular outing.

Sylvia Ross, the youngest member of the circle, was a bit of a mystery as she always changed the subject when asked about her early years. She had no family it would seem, and even when firmly pressed, refused to give details of where she was born or brought up. She once let slip that she had been married, but then changed the subject, which of course elevated the curiosity of her fellow members to extraordinary levels. This resulted in a certain amount of behind the scenes digging, and once or twice snippets of an enticing nature were ferreted out, only to fizzle away from lack of information. She was just eighty and extremely elegant. She always wore a smart suit to the sewing circle, although it was obvious that the classic clothes were decades old.

Her blonde hair was touched up every month by the hairdresser in the high street and her nails were the envy of all the teenage girls in her block. The circle marvelled at her ability to embroider with her extended, red talons, but liked her too much to pass comment. They doubted that they would ever get to the bottom of the mystery, but Sylvia was a lively and generous member of the group who was always there if one of them was ill or needed assistance. She truly had a heart of gold.

Maggie Baxter was originally from Jamaica, and had married a seaman from Hackney in the fifties. She had the most wonderful laugh and her generous spirit was well known throughout the estate. A trained nurse, she had acted as the community midwife for over twenty-five years, and even now, at eighty-five, was called upon regularly by the young mother’s on the estate, for help and guidance during and after their frequent pregnancies. Nothing shocked Maggie, and she could be relied on to keep a secret. She was not above giving some of the younger, more obnoxious, residents of the estate a quick smack if they got out of hand on the stairwells, but on the whole even the toughest of adolescent boys who roamed the estate, jobless and bored, knew that Maggie Baxter would be there any time of night or day.

Her friends in the sewing circle warned her that she needed to be careful when out and about in the area. In recent months, several new families had been housed on the estate and their rowdy kids were an unknown quantity. In fact, petty crime was on the increase, despite the fact that they had their own community police presence, and on two occasions recently elderly residents had been mugged and injured on their way back from the local shops.

The frailest of the group was Flo Miles, a tiny little woman who had amazingly borne twelve children, all of whom had survived wars and sickness. She had thirty-six grandchildren, fifteen great grandchildren, and at ninety years old was considered the queen of the Redgrave. She had lived there since it was built, twenty years earlier, and knew every little bit of gossip there was to be had about the residents. The other members even suspected she knew more that she was telling about Sylvia Ross, but on this subject, she was strangely close-mouthed. She was also fearless, and despite her fragile appearance, walked herself to and from the local Bingo Hall; despite her friends’ insistence that she go by taxi. The fact that she was a prolific winner also worried the members of the sewing circle. She did make the compromise, that on nights that she won money; she would get a cab home, getting the driver to walk her to her ground floor flat, conveniently close to the parking area.

Sarah Dempsey, or big Sal, as she was known to her friends and neighbours, was a gregarious and fun loving Irish woman, who had come over to London as a spinster of thirty-eight, in the late 1950’s. She had cared for her parents until their death and then found herself evicted from her family home by her brother who had inherited the lot. He had begrudgingly given her forty pounds and bought her a one-way ticket to England. Luckily, Sal found a job as a waitress in a large department store in Knightsbridge, and being the hard worker that she was, she remained in that job for over thirty years. She had a lovely little pension as well as her state benefits, and she adored giving unusual and unexpected gifts to every one of her acquaintance. She was treasured by everyone, especially when she burst into song at quiz nights, and other functions held in the community centre.

So, here was the sewing circle, a group of friends who were independent and who took care of each other lovingly. All very different, but all intent on one thing, ending their lives with dignity, and in the company of people they cared for.

There was just one problem, and that was the Jackson family. The Jacksons had moved onto the estate after being moved from two other communities because of their unreasonable behaviour. Archie Jackson was in prison for violent offences more than he was out, and his wife Sharon was a loud-mouthed harridan who could be heard through the thin walls of the flats, shouting and swearing throughout the day and long into the night. They had five children; although it was a mystery to everyone, how she had so many, bearing in mind that Archie was inside most of the seventeen years they had been married. The more uncharitable amongst the residents speculated on the difference in look and colour between the offspring, and there were certainly enough suspicions to cast doubts on Archie’s participation in some of their conceptions.

Everyone on the estate gave the Jacksons a wide berth. Since their arrival, petty crime on the estate had risen dramatically, and the residents’ committee had even requested a meeting with the Police representative, to try to stem the tide of thefts and muggings that suddenly affected the area. The police did what they could, and in fact, they did catch the older Jackson boy, Darren, red handed shoplifting from the corner shop. But because he was only fifteen he was let off with probation. Next, the committee tried the council who said that having moved the Jackson’s twice already they were running out of options. There were suggestions from some of the residents, that a prison ship or deserted island would be a suitable place to move the family, but in the end, the council promised to try to find alternative accommodation away from the Redgrave.

Hoping that a resolution was only a matter of weeks away everyone on the estate held their collective breath, trusting that not too much damage would be inflicted on property, or themselves, in the meantime.

This wish was not to be granted, and for one of the members of the sewing circle, life was about to take a desperate turn.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Over the Rainbow by Sally Cronin


A couple of people suggested a title change… for those who have dropped by already today…

Over the Rainbow by Sally Cronin

‘It’s not bad here is it?’

‘No it’s not, and I was quite surprised. I expected that with all the hype about the place, we’d be disappointed’.

‘I was amazed to see so many familiar faces; it’s been fun catching up, and I must say that Bella is looking particularly fit.’

‘You have a one track mind; I thought you had the snip when you and your lady decided  enough was enough?’

‘I did, but that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate a feisty, good-looking female, does it?’

‘No, I suppose not, you sly old dog. Are you going to the match tonight at the park? I hear that there’ll be a big turnout for the end of season five aside.’

‘Are you kidding me, of course I am, wouldn’t miss it for the world. Thank goodness the brochure was telling the truth about the surroundings and the sports facilities. Almost seems like home doesn’t it?

‘I suppose, but there are still some things that you can’t get here. For instance, I haven’t had a decent back rub since we arrived. What about you, is there anything you miss?’

‘Well, I do wish that I hadn’t been forced to leave the family behind. I know that they said that it was for the best, and I would have plenty of mates for company, but I loved all that fuss and attention they gave me. The long walks with the kids and curling up on the sofa on a winter’s night, having a cuddle with the missus.

‘We shouldn’t talk about it, it only makes me sad. I know they were upset about us moving here too. I have seen their posts on that face thingy.’

‘Look, they feel better knowing that we are here, with old and new friends, enjoying life to the full.’ They’ll always have us in their hearts. And you know, that for most of us, it’s not forever, Jane was picked up just the other day; I saw her going off with a woman who was bawling her eyes out.’

‘I still worry that we’ve been forgotten’

‘Don’t be daft, and that book you wrote about your life still makes people laugh and say nice things about you. Time will fly by, you just wait and see. One day, your Sally will be calling to you from the bridge into the park and you’ll be together again. Off into the big wide yonder, happy as Larry.’

‘I know that’s the plan. Sorry to be so maudlin.’

‘It’s alright mate. I tell you what, let’s head over and enjoy the ball game, and then I’ll  treat you to an ‘all you can eat buffet’ at the Bolshy Cat cafe. We better hurry though, as Bella said she would save us a good spot on the sidelines, and I don’t want some other fellah getting my spot, if you know what I mean!’

‘You’re on… and I’ll treat you both to a pig’s ear at half time. Oh, and something to cheer us up. I hear that my old friend Abby is providing the pre-match entertainment and is singing Over the Rainbow.’

 

 

©SallyCronin 2018

Short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy – Mañana, Mañana by Sally Cronin


Welcome to the next story from my collection Flights of Fancy… a cheating husband and a dash to a remote beach… what could to wrong… or right?

Mañana, Mañana by Sally Cronin

The hot sun burnt her already tanned legs and she moved them slightly into the shade of the large umbrella overhead. She felt a small trickle of perspiration slide between her breasts and decided that it was not really that uncomfortable a sensation. In fact, it felt rather sensuous.

She looked out across the summer-bleached grass in front of the small villa and waited, her lower lip caught gently between her teeth. Any minute now, any minute now. Yes, there he was. She released her lip with a sharp intake of breath as he walked out of the water and onto the small patch of white sand at the bottom of the garden. He flicked his head and his long, wet black hair erupted into shining droplets of water in the hot air.

He was breath taking. From his arrogant, hawkish face down to his perfectly proportioned feet, he oozed masculinity. His work in the garden had honed his shoulder and chest muscles into sleek male hardness and her hands waved vaguely in the air in remembrance. His waist was small and his hips flared slightly before plunging into long muscular legs.

As he walked back up the beach towards her, she shook her head in disbelief. Just two months ago she had been sobbing her heart out in the kitchen of her luxury house in Chelmsford. Her husband of twenty years had announced, completely out of the blue, that he had just found someone else. To be honest it turned out he had not just found her, but had been enjoying her dubious company for the last five years.

If it had not been for Marjorie Hamilton, and her puncture, she would never have found out about it and would still be living in blissful ignorance. Well, perhaps blissful was a bit strong a word to use for the rather listless state of their marriage, but then again, she really had not had anything to compare it to. Until now!

Anyway, back to Marjorie and her puncture. After a trip to the supermarket, and with a laden boot of shopping, one of the rear tyres on her brand new car had suddenly deflated, right in the middle of the high street. Marjorie had got out and having discovered the cause of the sudden tilt to the right began to prepare her “little girl, I’m helpless look” that had worked so well for her in the past. Glancing around, in hopes of finding an available and suitably impressed gentleman, she spied Gregory Davenport at a table in the window of an Indian restaurant. This in itself was not a shocking revelation but the fact that his hand was gently cupping a chin that was definitely not his wife’s, was.

Marjorie was wearing an oiled rain hat and pulling this lower over her forehead she approached obliquely along the wall of the restaurant. Gregory had his back to her and she had a very good view of his companion. Shockingly, she recognised the chin that was being rapturously held by Gregory’s hand. It was Melanie Blake, her own next-door neighbour, a divorcee and supposed best friend to Gregory’s wife Elizabeth.

Marjorie had backed up the high street towards her car where she found a policeman about to write a ticket. In the ensuing pleading, begging and eventual satisfactory tyre change by the rather handsome young officer, Marjorie almost forgot the wonderfully juicy revelation she had been privy to. Almost, but not quite. By dinnertime that night the secret was out and Elizabeth Davenport had received several commiserating telephone calls.

Hence the tears in the kitchen. Gregory was gone, presumably to obtain sympathy from his paramour, now that he had been forcibly ejected from the marital home. Elizabeth had thrown the appallingly dreadful dinner service, that his mother had given them for a wedding present, at his head when he had proposed that he have his cake and eat it. She now contemplated the shattered crockery and thought it rather nicely summed up her marriage.

There were some compensations. Her children were both very well adjusted and intelligent girls, at university in their first and second years. They rather flummoxed her by not being surprised at the news, and Elizabeth was mortified to think that they had known about their father’s affair and had kept it to themselves. In fact, it appeared that they were not the only ones with prior knowledge, as more and more people rang to commiserate with her and to glean any further gossip that might have slipped through the normal channels.

Something else began to rankle and that was the realisation that up to now, she, Elisabeth, had participated rather vigorously in this community news machine that was now focused on her, and she did not like it one bit.

She had been the perfect wife, looked after the children and Gregory, always making sure that their needs came first. She had not looked at another man since she had become engaged. Well, perhaps that was an exaggeration. She had looked, but she had certainly not touched. This was her reward and a lonely old age beckoned. She was forty-five years old and on the scrap heap. Well, he was going to have to pay, and first thing in the morning she would be contacting her solicitor.

Elizabeth stretched like a cat in the warm sun as she continued to follow the progress of the Adonis up the beach. There was a small wooden gate that separated the sand from the lawn of her villa. He opened it and suddenly noticed her looking in his direction. The dazzle from his white-toothed smile nearly scorched her already overheated skin.

Following her rather emotional but productive meeting with her solicitor, Elizabeth had rung her cousin Susan. Susan had been through the same life-changing situation two years ago and had been lucky enough to retain a rather basic but lovely holiday villa in the south of Spain. It was on an undeveloped part of the coastline, near a small fishing village with a couple of restaurants and a small grocery shop. There were no golf courses in the area, no tourist attractions and it was a perfect hideaway to retreat to, especially as Gregory would no doubt be desperate to speak to her when he received the first broadside from the lawyers.

It was bit laborious to get to the village but once there, Elizabeth unpacked and took to her bed. The sun-bed! Two months later and here she was, still bedridden, but it was hardly due to grief and desperation.

What her cousin had failed to tell her was that the house came with a sitting tenant. In exchange for gardening and keeping an eye on the villa in its owner’s absence, a young musician called Ramon was ensconced in the spare bedroom.

He had been out on the evening that Elizabeth arrived and so they did not collide until the next morning when they both attempted to shower at the same time. Ramon was only clothed in a very small towel and Elizabeth was just wearing a smile. Fleeing to her bedroom she only had time to hear a wonderfully rich laugh coming from the bathroom before locking her door and throwing herself on the bed and under the covers.

Two days later and they had progressed to verbal intimacy. This had not been easy as Ramon’s English was broken and Elizabeth insisted on speaking her half-remembered school French to him, as that was the only foreign language she had ever tried to learn.

That an understanding was reached was largely due to the chemistry that sprang up between them. Elizabeth felt that she was in a permanent state of shock, with stomach churning, weak-kneed anticipation every time she was near him. He, for some reason, found her fascinating and they would sit closer and closer together as they tried to communicate.

Finally, on the third day, the inevitable happened and for the first time in her life, Elizabeth Davenport visited foreign delights that she never knew existed. If she thought her husband’s affair had been a revelation it was knocked into insignificance by far more explosive forces. Life in England, the divorce and any thoughts of the future were dismissed as she threw herself wholeheartedly into this new and wonderful adventure.

As Ramon approached her across the brown grass, Elizabeth smiled at him and extended her hand towards him. She could see drops of seawater clinging to his oiled brown skin and she knew that it would take several hours to dry him thoroughly.

Elizabeth woke with a start and heard her daughter coming up behind her.

“Mum you’ve let your tea get cold again”. Jane was a good girl and Elizabeth was staying with her while she recovered from a replacement hip operation. Seventy-five years old and they had said that she would have a new lease of life, the new hip good for at least fifteen years. That was a bit optimistic but it she lived to ninety she would not have any complaints.

“Don’t worry darling, I was getting a bit hot and bothered out here in the conservatory and I think a glass of that lovely chilled Cava would be much nicer”.

As Jane went off to the kitchen, Elizabeth closed her eyes briefly to see if she could recapture that wonderful and breath-taking interlude all those years ago. It was gone but she knew that it would come back to her. She was returning to Spain soon, having made an excellent recovery. Back to the villa that she had bought from Susan with some of the proceeds from her divorce.

Of course thirty years on, apartments and hotels surrounded it, but it was still a little oasis with access to the now public beach. It had been lovingly renovated over the years and the garden was absolutely wonderful. Ramon adored growing her flowers and bringing them to her when he came home from the hotel he managed in Marbella. They had never married, but the fifteen years age difference between them had not made the slightest dent in their passion or love for each other.

Elizabeth smiled to herself. Soon she would be lying on her sunbed on the patio watching Ramon come out of the sea and across the sand towards her. Her breath caught in anticipation.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Other short story anthologies.

You can find all my books at these links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sally-Cronin/e/B0096REZM2

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Georgina-Cronin/e/B003B7O0T6

Smashwords for Epub: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SallyGCronin

More reviews can be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7979187.Sally_Cronin

Thank you for dropping in and as always I value your feedback. Sally.