CrowdFunding: Short Story Collection: Publush: I Need Your Help.

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You are reading this thinking to yourself, “This bloke writes interesting stories. I get a lot of fun out of reading them. I wish he had a wider audience.”

I know how you feel.

I’m patient. I can wait as people discover this website, but I’m not going to live forever so I need to get on with it.

To that end, I published my first novella THE LONG WEEKEND and it caused a major sensation in the publishing world [not really, I made that bit up........ I do write fiction after all].

I would like to keep the ball rolling so I have put together a collection of short stories [you know how I love to write short stories]. This collection majors on those stories that demanded a ‘part two’ and occasionally a ‘part three’.

Self publishing is expensive; especially if you do it right.

It doesn’t cost a fortune but it does cost.

I design my own covers but the stories need to be proofread and the manuscript needs to be formatted for eBook distribution. Then there is the cost of producing paperback copies. I never feel like it is a book until I can hold it in my hand and smell the print. I don’t order very many paper copies but the few that I do order cost a lot.

I have two more novels and another collection of short stories in the works and I would like to release them into the world but the out-of-pocket expenses is a killer, so it will have to be one project at a time.

Which brings me to “Passerby and other stories”, which I hope to release by the end of the month.

I have signed up to a crowd funding site which specialises in promoting authors.

I have set my goal at the minimum they will allow [$501] and if I achieve this it will pay the up front expenses. This needs to happen because the chances of selling enough copies to cover expenses is slim. Apart from you guys, no one knows that I can write, so it will take time to build a following, the same as it has here on WP.

The campaign will accept as little as a dollar [ but the price of a cup of coffee seems better]. There are the usual ‘rewards’ built in depending on the amount you pledge, from a simple thank you note through to a signed paper back delivered anywhere in the world.

If you enjoy what I do, please consider following the link and jumping on my bandwagon. If you are ‘doing it hard’ then don’t dare put in any money. Only those who can afford to give up a few dollars are allowed to contribute.

Whether you contribute to my campaign or not please know that I appreciate that you take the time to read my stories………… it means a great deal to me. Thank you.

Terry.

https://pubslush.com/project/3764

Number 20

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When I was a very little bloke, one of my greatest joys was to run out and open this gate so that my dad, who rode his bike to work every day, could ride effortlessly through and into the yard without having to step off his bike. I had already unlocked the side gate so he would sail on through to the shed in the back yard where he stored his bike. I’d be diligently closing and locking gates behind him as he went.

It seemed like an important job to me at the time.

Dad arrived home at about the same time every night. Working men did that back then. He was a union man and that meant that you gave the boss a good days work and when it was time to go home, you went home!

A few years after my dad took this shot [this is an enlargement of a larger, wider shot] he pulled this fence down and built a shorter, more ‘modern’ fence. Personally, I like this one, and as fashions go, a lot of the houses in the area are putting back the original fences………. everything changes, everything goes in cycles………. and everything stays the same.

If you look very closely, you can see that one of the horizontal wires on the gate has been bent down. That is probably because I liked to swing on the gate when my dad wasn’t looking.

The house is still there but my family no longer owns it. It is now about eighty years old.

Every couple of years I drive up that street just to remember what it felt like to live my younger life. Every year it changes and becomes less and less like the street I remember. This is not a bad thing. Everything has its time.

Number twenty Erin street will always live in my heart.

Airstream: Fully Loaded.

1970-21

Property Sergeant Karl Stippich had learned, long ago, that too much knowledge only got you into trouble.

He was eighteen-months from retirement and his goal was to keep his head down and dream of being retired.

He was still young enough to enjoy it and his missus had the whole thing planned. They bought a very cool old Airstream caravan at a police auction.

It had previously belonged to a nefarious character who moved drugs for a Melbourne gang.

This bloke and his missus drove up and down the Hume Highway between Melbourne and Sydney at least twice a week. The gang paid him five thousand dollars per trip, and that was one trip in each direction. Drugs went up and cash came down. Twenty thousand dollars per week. Even when you took petrol, tyres and wear and tear into account, that was a good weekly wage.

They had been at it for about eighteen months when an officer, who was stationed in Albury, wondered why he kept seeing the same vintage Airstream caravan, week in and week out.

The nefarious character and his wife had spent many happy days in Albury in their youth, so they rather foolishly stopped there every time they made the trip north.

The constable didn’t mention it immediately, but after he saw them a few more times he told his sergeant.

The Police waited for the polished aluminium caravan to arrive one more time and nabbed the older couple and several kilograms of cannabis.

The arresting officers were from the Drug Squad and the eagle-eyed traffic constable didn’t receive any credit.

His sergeant thought this was grossly unfair and wrote to the Commissioner on his behalf.

The young constable’s commendation arrived ten days after he drowned trying to save two teenage girls who had unwisely gone swimming in the flood swollen Murray River.

He lingered for more than a day before succumbing.

His wife accepted the award on his behalf. She spoke to reporters about his courage and his desire to help others, but secretly she wished he had been a bit selfish and had waited for help to arrive instead of diving in and leaving her alone. In time, she would have a bravery award to add to the memories of her brave, young husband.

The Drug Squad were very pleased with their haul and it made for good television. The gleaming silver vintage caravan and a large pile of ‘grass’. The old couple did not bother to hide the loot, they simply loaded it into their caravan and threw a blanket or two over the pile.

No one ever asked to look inside the van.

The loot was carried ‘in plain sight’ so a comprehensive search of the vehicle seemed like a waste of time, at least that was the opinion of the top brass and despite the protests of the detective in charge the word came down from on high. “A waste of Police resources. Stick it into impound and get on with your next case.”

When Karl Stippich towed the van home from the auction his wife was very excited but she said that the inside had a strange smell. Karl just laughed and said the smell would go away.

It didn’t.

Karl was a handy sort of bloke so he decided to service the van himself and save a bit more money.

Once he had jacked up the van to get the wheels off, he packed the wheel bearings, put the wheels back on and was about to let the jacks down when he decided to check under the floor. The body was aluminium but the floor pan was probably steel — and steel can rust.

Considering its age there was very little rust, but there was a series of bolted-on compartments that most probably were not original spec’.

Karl tried undoing the bolts on one of the compartments and they came away easily. There was at least ten thousand dollars in that one and about the same in the others.

It didn’t make sense to Karl.

The detectives were sure that the couple simply loaded the drugs into the van and covered it and did the same with the cash.

So what was this money about?

Karl was no fool. He was going to give this a bit of thought before he did anything rash like handing it in.

In the coming weeks, restoration work carried out by officer Karl revealed several hidden compartments inside the van. When Karl ran out of hiding places he had amassed slightly more than a quarter of a million dollars.

Mrs Karl voted to keep the money.

“It’s probably their personal stash and they are not going to live long enough to get out of jail and come looking for us. And anyway, what are they going to do? Beat us to death with their Zimmer Frames?”

Mrs Karl was wide-eyed and full of plans for spending their bonanza.

Karl agreed and surmised that the couple probably thought that the police had found their stash of cash. He suggested that they wait until he retired, and if no one showed up asking about the van, they were probably in the clear.

They were right and they got to safely keep the money, but money strangely accrued can have a peculiar effect on those doing the accruing, and Karl and his missus didn’t relax until news eventually came that the old couple had died in prison.

Hop On.

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For some reason this shot makes me feel strange. Not bad strange — just strange — kinda sad — not sure why. I love photos that you can disappear into. Amazing that there are no cars on the roundabout — pure fluke — only took one shot — was drinking coffee and talking to my wife and walking the dog — a long way from where we live —- still not sure why it makes me sad.

So Much Depends On A Red Wheelbarrow.

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“So much depends on a red wheelbarrow glazed by rainwater beside the white chickens.”
William Carlos Williams.

Without it I would not have been able to move the body.

I’d always taken it for granted — the wheelbarrow, not the dead body.

It had always been there, leaning up against the shed or sitting quietly, filled with weeds or split fire-wood — just waiting for the task to be completed.

It was ‘on special’ at the hardware store on the high street.

The shop went out of business not long after, but I remember the wheelbarrows all lined up outside with a huge sign saying how much they were and how much I would be saving if I bought one.

The sign had the desired effect.

I’d needed a wheelbarrow for some time and the first one in the stack was red.

The gentleman who served me was happy to make the sale but worried about how I was going to get it home.

“Have you got a ‘ute’ lady?”

“No, why? Is it a requirement for owning a wheelbarrow?”

He looked at me for a moment. I could tell that he was wondering if I was ‘winding him up’.

He decided that I was.

“No, but she’s a big bugger, and she probably won’t fit across the back seat of your car.”

“I don’t own a car. I walked here, and I’m planning to drive her home. I’ll park her outside the supermarket and load her up with my weekly shopping, and away I go.”

“Fair enough, but she really is a bloody big wheelbarrow. Are you sure you wouldn’t like a smaller one? You can still give the grand-kiddies a ride in a smaller one. The one you picked is big enough to fit a large dead body in.”

He must have thought that he had gone a bit too far because he looked up and gave an embarrassed smile. I wasn’t worried about the ‘dead body’ crack but I was considering running over his foot for the grandmother comment.

“Is the smaller wheelbarrow on special as well?” I said.

“No, just these huge industrial buggers that I got stuck with when I bought the business.”

“Well then; I have the right barrow, don’t I?”

I smiled and staggered off down the footpath scattering pedestrians in my wake.

I didn’t stop to buy groceries; that was just me ‘getting carried away’ with the hardware store owner.

Every time I go past his old shop I wonder what happened to him.

His shop became a Noodle Shop, then a $2 Shop, then a Tattoo Parlour, then a Bakery, then an empty shop with a strange collection of bits and pieces lying in the middle of the tiled floor.

It looked like someone had swept up after the last tenants, and never came back to throw out the collection of flotsam.

I’ve always wondered what the orange penis-shaped thing was.

I’m sure that it’s not an orange penis but there has never been anyone at the shop for me to ask; which is just as well, because I think I would be too embarrassed to make that particular enquiry.

Gardening is not my favourite pastime, but since my husband died I have had to work up the enthusiasm.

Bill was the love of my life and I miss him so very much.

He left me suddenly — an industrial accident. Everyone was very kind, especially his business partner Ambrose Kruis.

Bill and Ambrose built the business up from nothing and when Bill died Ambrose inherited the business; it was part of their partnership agreement. I understood; I wasn’t upset. They were engaged in high risk construction and if one of the partners died it would put the whole business in jeopardy, so it was only fair that the surviving partner benefit.

It also explained the massive payout that Ambrose received as a result of the ‘partners insurance’.

He was not under any obligation, but he helped me anyway.

He knew that Bill put all his capital into the business and consequently, there wasn’t any life insurance.

I had some savings but they were for a ‘rainy day’, as Bill used to say.

Ambrose was very generous when the roof needed replacing and when the plumbing packed it in.

I knew that I could not rely on him forever, but up until I made a surprise visit to his office he had looked after me financially.

I arrived early on a Wednesday morning and his secretary let me wait in his office. “He won’t be long. He’s at a breakfast meeting with the bankers.”

I decided to make the most of my time and write a couple of letters.

I do send emails but I still prefer the personal touch of sending a letter.

I stepped behind what used to be Bill’s desk and opened the top drawer looking for note paper.

Two more drawers were opened before I found some, and that’s not all that I found.

The writing paper was not lying flat in the drawer.

There seemed to be something small and bulky under the ream of paper. I removed the paper and the sunlight coming in low through the office window reflected off the polished silver surface of an antique Victorian hip flask.

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You might be wondering why I knew what it was.

I’d given this flask to my husband on our wedding night.

It belonged to my grandfather.

It was some twenty-years old when he bought it upon arriving in England in 1915.

He was a young Lieutenant on his way to the front.

The flask saw a lot of action and no doubt helped to dull the terror that trench warfare brought to all those involved.

I recognised the flask from the inscription and by the dent on the top corner. It was caused by a German sniper’s bullet.

After surviving at the front for all those years, one moment of lost concentration and my grandfather’s war came to an end, only months from the close of hostilities.

The notice of his death arrived on the day that the Armistice took effect. 

The flask was returned to the family along with his other belongings.

Obviously I was aware that the flask was missing from my husbands effects but I put it out of my mind. He had it with him on the day he died; he always had it with him.

I’m not that bright but I didn’t need a degree in Physics to figure out that something was terribly wrong.

Ambros had murdered my husband so that he could get control of the company and collect the insurance. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was all about the insurance and he probably expected to sell the failing business for the value of its component parts. But, to his surprise, the business survived, mainly because my husband had set it up well and the business had an excellent reputation. Its employees loved him and worked their arses off to keep the company going.

It helped that Ambrose was a bit of a womaniser and that he would often disappear for several days at a time when he was on a ‘bender’.

I invited him around to the house for a meal — something that I had done a dozen times.

During the desert course I excused myself, “Just need to visit the ladies room.” I came back with an old shovel that my husband used to dig the veggie patch — the irony was not lost on me.

I struck Ambrose twice on the back of the head. He went down and apart from his lemon-meringue-pie landing on the floor, he did not make much of a mess.

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Moving the body proved to be a bit of a chore but the trusty red wheelbarrow was up to the task.

I didn’t own a car so Ambrose was going to have to travel in the wheelbarrow for the two kilometre ride to the construction site that Ambrose’s business owned. There was a concrete pour scheduled for the morning.

I’m not sure what I would have said if someone had stopped me, and I’m pretty sure that I looked hilarious as I struggled along with this huge red wheelbarrow filled with an Ambrose.

I was completely exhausted when I got him there and dumped him into a pit and covered him with gravel, but I still had to get the wheelbarrow back to my house without being seen.

I was in the lap of the gods on both halves of this deadly journey but the gods smiled on me and I made it safely home.

I slept for fifteen hours straight.

I cleaned up the blood and the lemon-meringue-pie when I woke up, and waited for the police to arrive.

They never did, and what’s more, it turned out that the partnership agreement had a clause covering the eventuality of both partners dying within ten years of each other.

The business went equally to the wives of the partners.

Ambrose wasn’t married.

I had to wait seven years before Ambrose was declared dead but I didn’t mind — the money and the business weren’t the point.

That old red wheelbarrow is very ancient and rust and a little red paint are about the only things holding it together now, but there is absolutely no way I am ever going to throw it away.

Every time I look at it I’m reminded of everything I’ve lost and also of the revenge that was mine to take.

So much depends on a red wheelbarrow.      

Talk Like A Pirate.

Christmas gnome self-portrait. Thanks to Annie for the improvised headgear. - B&W

My great-aunt Agnes was a pain in the arse; possibly even a grumpy old hag.

At least that’s what I thought when I was seven years old.

As a family we visited her house a number of times be before she died, aged 103.

I was too young to go to the funeral.

I stayed home and played with my Matchbox car collection, and kicked a football in the backyard with my older cousin who was designated to keep and eye on me.

Great Aunt Agnes smelt nice, which was unusual.

When you are a kid old people smell strange.

My world was full of old people at the time, and thinking about them now memories of antique dust, woollen jumpers, eucalyptus lollies, disapproval, annoyance, mothballs, walking sticks, furniture polish and old dogs, come flooding back.

Great aunt Agnes had a walking stick and I’m pretty sure that she poked me with it at least once — possibly twice.

She obviously liked expensive perfume and she had a great name— Agnes. In all my many years I’ve only known two people named Agnes, and only one of them actually existed. The non-existent one was really named Rachael. Her brother was my friend and he nicknamed her Agnes just to annoy her — it worked, so he kept it going. I was never sure why she was insulted by being called Agnes, I liked the name.

I didn’t realise how cool my great-aunt Agnes was — I was young.

All little boys love pirates — Captain Blood, Bluebeard, Captain Hook. They all spell adventure, but they all lived so long ago; so far from the world of a twentieth century little boy.

At least, that’s what I thought.

Great aunt Agnes had a huge, carved wooden box at the end of her enormous bed. The lid was almost too heavy for a young boy to lift, but not quite.

All small children are born with an inbuilt sense of the right time to go exploring. My great-aunt would produce the ‘good china tea service’ and brew a pot of fragrant tea. Plates of biscuits and cakes would magically appear and I knew better than to reach for one of these sweet delights before the adults had placed a selection on matching plates and had begun to sip from their elegant cups.

There was always the temptation to hang around for ‘seconds’, but if I did that I would miss ‘the moment’.

The moment when all parents feel that their children are displaying the appropriate behaviour for visiting relatives.

The window of opportunity was small and the possibility of adventure beckoned.

Great aunt Agnes’s bedroom was at the other end of the hall and the box at the end of the bed was full of wondrous things but most of them were incomprehensible to a seven-year old boy.

One item caught my eye.

It was a tattered old journal.

The leather-bound hard cover looked like it had been dragged behind a horse and cart, the way that cowboys often were on TV.

It was thick and heavy and the page edges were marbled so that when the book was closed there was a swirly, colourful pattern visible.

I’d never seen such a book.

I opened the cover and inhaled that beautiful dusty book smell that all lovers of old books will recognise.

Inside the front cover there was an ornate ‘ex libris’ plate. The script was probably in Latin but I recognised the name Agnes Annabel Leigh. My great aunt’s name was Armstrong, just like mine, but I was old enough to know that women changed their surname when they married.

This journal was from a time before she married my great-uncle, who had died many years before I was born.

The first page was blank but the next page contained the beginning of a story about a girl who falls in love an impoverished young man — not exactly interesting for a seven-year old boy, but it did occur to me that there might be other stories that would appeal to me.

The next story was also about another girl falling in love followed by a story about a horse, which was a bit more interesting, followed by a story about a cruel aunt and an orphaned little girl — boring!

Then I hit the motherload; a story about a pirate — bingo, now we’re talking.

I almost skipped over it because I was expecting more of the same.

But no, it really was a story about a pirate.

There was a note at the beginning saying that the story was inspired by letters my aunt had read which belonged to one of her ancestors.

Say what?

She had an ancestor who fell in love with a pirate?

It didn’t take me long to work out that this meant that I was related to someone who fell in love with a pirate.

My seven-year old brain was well advanced for its age but it was not up to imagining little illegitimate pirate children running around on the Poop Deck — but I am.

The story was long and exciting and I hung on every sentence.

Despite my fear of being discovered by my parents or my great aunt, I was instantly transported into the story; probably as one of the pirate ship’s crew.

I was prepared to put up with all the ‘lovey-dovey’ stuff because the story was so well written and the descriptions were dripping with salty spray. I imagined my callused hands from pulling on the wet ropes. I could hear the songs that the crew members sang. I could taste the salty food and I could feel the roll of the ship.

I didn’t get caught but it broke my heart having to put the book back in the box.

There were more stories to read and I wanted to know more about my pirate consorting ancestor.

But, not long after my discovery, my great-aunt died and I had missed my opportunity to ask her about her youthful writing pursuits. I never got to find out why she wrote such exciting stories and never showed them to anyone. I never found out why the journal was so heavily worn. Did she take it out every night and read about young love and salty adventures?

I couldn’t bring up the subject with my parents without giving myself away.

I was too young to know what happened next but I guess that my great aunt’s stuff got divided up or thrown out; that’s usually what happens. I never found out who got the big wooden box and when I bought up the subject many years later, no one seemed to know.

Some idiot relative probably sold the box to a dealer and threw out the contents. My pirate story most likely ended up as land fill. I can see the pages fluttering in the cool afternoon breeze.

So much of life is luck.

I found the stories but was too young to be able to do anything about it. My great aunt’s talent lay hidden in a trunk because she was born at a time when women were not expected to do anything other than look after their boring husbands.

Not everyone can lay claim to a pirate as an ancestor; I can but I just can’t prove it.

Once a year, at about this time, I celebrate ‘talk like a pirate day’.

Everyone has a great time and a lot of parrot jokes do the rounds, but for me it means a lot more.

Once a year my timbers are shivered and my plank gets walked.

Great aunt Agnes might have been a grumpy old bastard, but she had a very good reason for being that way, and somewhere there is a pirate who is wondering why no one remembers him.

.

Author’s note:
My talented son and I celebrate ‘Talk Like A Pirate Day’ every year at this time. This year he suggested that I write a Pirate story. So I did. Part of it was written on a very fast-moving train and part was written while waiting for my wife to finish work so we could celebrate my son’s birthday, and the final bit was written while sitting in bed with my two dogs waiting for my wife to come home from the ballet. So this story has travelled a bit. I hope you enjoyed it and I say thank you to Matt for inspiring its creation.
Terry

http://www.talklikeapirate.com/

Book Review: The Long Weekend: Creative Frontiers.

The following is a book review from the kind souls at Creative Frontiers……. thanks folks.

Buy ‘The Long Weekend’. Soon. OK?

The Long WeekendTerry Barca’s introductory novella about Sam and Scarlett Bennet wafts us around the bars and restaurants of Melbourne very much in the old Hammett style.

We’ve got plenty here: a dead body (mysterious circumstances, of course); a flat-footed dick; a glamorous, wise-cracking couple in direct descent from Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man; doses of single malt and lots more.

And all crammed into a novella.

Phew.

Just as the Pelecanos books have you reaching for a map of DC to follow the action, and the Crais books do the same for LA, Barca’s trawl around Melbourne has you itching for Google Maps so you can join in the action.

Sam’s the star, because he’s cool, solves the murder and already has the beautiful girl, but Melbourne puts in a competent challenge. Here also, The Long Weekend, plugs into crime-thriller literary tradition as illustrated, for example, by McBain’s star billing for New York.

The dialogue crackles on the page like bacon in the pan. The descriptives illustrate that unique Barca style as found in other posts on Creative Frontiers. Read’em and weep .. with envy.

But for all this talk of tradition, The Long Weekend’s architecture corresponds to the modern style of crime work, text or movie. We have a beginning and an end, but the middle bathes us in the kaleidoscopic light formed by different aspects of Sam’s life, Scarlett’s and their relationship. In the end, although we get satisfaction by knowing the murderer’s identity, it’s almost the mint at the end of a thoroughly indulgent dinner.

C’mon, Terry. Send this dynamic duo away for another weekend break soon, please.

 

You can find The Long Weekend for sale on Smashwords and Amazon.

See also here and here.

Terry relaxing with friends

Socks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA lot of things have changed since I took this photo.

Some of those socks have gone missing.

The deck has been replaced.

The ancient ‘walk around phone’, that my son is using was eventually ‘put out to pasture’.

The possum that made the scratches on the wall above the washing machine has been evicted from our roof and now lives in a possum box on the side of the house.

The roof has been replaced as well, but it is just out of sight in this shot.

Two and half grandchildren have begun their existence.

All of our children have moved out of home, and a second dog moved in.

We lost a neighbour and are about to gain a new set.

A lot of things haven’t changed though. We still live here, in this amazing little tumbling down house and we are very happy…………… oh yes…….. and the ghost moved on………. he loved the house as much as we do, but he had to go.

Blue Smoke.

Blue_Smoke_by_shandorj

This story leads on from these two stories and it will enhance your reading pleasure if you read them first…..

https://araneus1.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/rufus-goes-to-the-country/

https://araneus1.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/rufus-finds-a-body/

I didn’t tell her straight away.

How do you tell your mistress that her boss, the person who helps her to get the money to buy dog food, pushed someone out of a window.

I have no idea why he did it, and it probably wouldn’t help even if I did.

Dogs understand that killing is serious. We only kill to obtain food and to protect our pack.

Humans, on the other hand, seem to kill for all sorts of reasons; sometimes, even for fun.

That I will never understand.

After I found the body in the garden all hell broke loose.

Pretty soon the house and the gardens were swarming with men in uniform.

I heard someone say that they were policeman.

I’d only met one policeman up until then.

His name was Officer Eric, and he was very kind. He worked in the police station in the village where we lived.

He knew my mistress and he saved me from the new dog catcher.

The old dog catcher knew me very well and he would scratch me behind the ears when he saw me walking by. He knew that I always went home when I was finished traveling, and he also knew that I don’t cause trouble.

The new bloke didn’t know me from Adam; or Eric, for that matter.

He grabbed me.

Now, normally I wouldn’t let anyone get that close without giving them a ‘back off’ bark, but he confused me. He smelled like the old dog catcher; he must have been wearing his uniform; that’s why he got close enough to grab me. I would have bitten the bastard but he had this long stick with a loop of rope on the end and I couldn’t get at him.

Officer Eric must have been driving by when all this kicked off because he came over and said something to the new dog catcher.

He had to raise his voice a bit and point to his policeman’s badge but eventually the new dog catcher let me go. That was my opportunity to bite the cheeky bastard but I thought better of it and went and sat next to Officer Eric. He gave me a pat and told me it was going to be okay. The new dog catcher gave me one of those looks, and I knew I was going to have to keep an eye on him in the future.

Officer Eric gave me a ride in his police car.

I love riding in cars.

He even turned on the siren which made me howl.

I wasn’t upset or anything, I just need to howl when I hear a siren.

Officer Eric often turns on his siren when he comes to visit, just to watch me howl. Sometimes he even joins in.

I like Officer Eric. He saved me, and one day I will get to return the favour.

Officer Eric wasn’t called to the house with the dead body but a lot of other policemen were.

They asked a lot of questions, but they didn’t sniff anyone which seemed silly to me.

It took me a little while to find the person I had sniffed when everyone came to see the body.

I’m still a bit annoyed that they would not let me keep it; I found it after all.

My mistress explained that humans don’t think like dogs, and dead bodies have to be examined [whatever that means] and then buried in the ground.

That bit I understood.

If you don’t bury stuff in the ground other dogs might come along and steal your stuff; so at least humans understand that bit.

I got to thinking about how long it would take to dig  a hole big enough to bury a human in and I worked out that it would take at least half a day. That’s a lot of time, and I think that I would be very sleepy and very hungry by the time I had finished. Fortunately, they didn’t ask me to bury anyone; even though I could have if they’d asked me.

By the time that the short, chubby, French sounding gentleman with the funny moustache had gathered everyone together in the library most of the humans had changed clothes and bathed.

This made my job a lot harder; but not impossible.

On a good day, if you breathed on me after eating Spaghetti Bolognese, I could tell you what all the ingredients were, and whether or not you used enough Oregano.

I’m that good.

I thought I had narrowed it down to two people but I was hampered by not being allowed to wander around while the short French-speaking gentleman was talking. He got quite annoyed when someone called him ‘an annoying little frog’. Personally, I didn’t think that he looked like a frog at all.

I thought he looked more like a large possum but apparently he thought that he looked like ‘an annoying little Belgian’.

I’m not sure, but I think that is some sort of Hedgehog.

I was a bit confused by all this, but very soon I got my man.

I heard it before I sniffed it.

The sound was very soft.

The sort of sound that only dogs can hear.

My mistresses’ publisher farted.

My mistress calls farts ‘blue smoke’, which is silly because they don’t have a colour but they do tell you a lot about the person, or dog, who lets one go.

Roast beef, potatoes, peas, rice pudding, and a Cuban Cigar for ‘afters'; not to mention a rather nice Port.

But it was the Cigar that gave him away.

It was the same as the smell that I picked up when I found the body.

He was the only one who smoked a cigar that night.

I remember him making a big deal out of how much they cost.

“One of these would keep you in dog biscuits for a month boy”, he said to me. I considered peeing on his shoe, but I thought better of it.

I wanted to warn my mistress, but in the end I didn’t need to.

The little Belgian shaped person actually asked me who I thought had committed the murder.

I looked at my mistress and she said, “It’s okay Rufus, you can tell him”.

So I did.

I walked over and put my paw on the publisher. He looked at me with a mixture of amusement and horror.

The small Belgian shaped person said that he agreed with me and went on talking about it for fifteen minutes after which two policemen took the publisher outside.

Amazingly, the small Belgian shaped person never once mentioned how the killer smelled.

I just don’t understand humans.

My mistress was very happy with me and we went on an extra long walk.

I thought that she might be a bit upset that her publisher was the murderer, but she said that she was happy because it meant that she didn’t have to write anymore annoying romance novels. Now she could write crime novels and her first effort would be based on this weekend.

“We are going to be able to afford the large bag of dog biscuits when my new book gets published Rufus.”

I was very pleased to hear this but I wondered who was going to publish this book if her publisher was in Goal.

I didn’t wonder for long because that’s not my job.

My job is to protect my mistress, and I had done my job well.

I could hardly wait to get home and tell the other dogs in our neighbourhood about our adventure.

But first there would be that delicious ride in my mistresses’ Lagonda.

Only this time I had to ride in the back because the little Belgian shaped person was coming with us.

He needed a ride back to town.

I wanted to ask him what a Belgian was but it would have taken too long, so I let it go.

I wasn’t very happy sitting in the back seat, but what can you do?

 

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By now, you probably know that Rufus has an interesting life for a small black dog. He has been on many adventures and you can find some of the here…..

http://barcaupthewrongtree.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/rufus-and-millie-not-a-love-story/

https://araneus1.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/rufus-goes-to-the-country/

http://barcaupthewrongtree.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/rufus-finds-a-body/

https://araneus1.wordpress.com/2014/08/14/rufus-and-the-mysterious-case-of-the-missing-dog-biscuits/

https://araneus1.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/3-minutes/

https://araneus1.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/rufus-and-the-blackbird/

What Came First?

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It’s hard to say.

I’m pretty sure that the chicken was there when we arrived.

I’m not sure if I was the prop, or the chicken was there to make me look good.

Either way it didn’t work; for either of us.

Obviously someone thought it was funny.

I didn’t; I was fed up and I don’t think the chicken was any too pleased either.

I’d been in what was laughingly called ‘show business’ for a bit over eighteen months.

It was my mum’s idea.

She entered me into one of those baby contests that were all the rage back then and I aced it.

You probably think that the cigarette was a prop; part of the gag, but it wasn’t.

I was a two pack a day kid by then.

Everyone thought it was so cute.

They didn’t have to put up with the cough.

Frankly, I preferred cigars, but my mum said I looked ridiculous.

This shot is an ‘out-take’ of sorts, and also the only shot that survives from the session that seemed to take forever.

I still don’t know how they got the chicken to stay in frame for so long. Personally, I think it was pissed.

I remember that Hitchcock had a lot of the birds drugged with grain soaked in alcohol.

I’ll bet that this chicken was on single malt whisky.

Her fee was more than I was getting for making silent movies and I was a star.

A very small star, mind you, but a star none-the-less.

I guess cute little kids were easier to find than a chicken who would stand still for hours and take direction.

She didn’t even need a dressing room and there was a bloke employed just to clean up after her.

What a life.

Permanently off her face on expensive whisky; she must have enjoyed being a chicken.

I, on the other hand, was fed up with show business.

I’d made twenty-eight movies that year alone and it was only August. My dead-beat-dad would run off with a script girl in a few months and take with him, all the money I had earned.

A few years later they found him naked and passed out next to a dead starlet in an expensive house in the Hollywood hills. The starlet was wearing only a smile and the studio paid a fortune to hush it all up.

My dead-beat-dad took the rap and died in prison when a very large convict fell on him during a particularly rowdy bout of Yoga.

I made a couple of hundred movies the next year but my career went down hill when sound came in.

Apparently my voice sounded strange, and mix that together with my growth spurt and I was out of a job.

I limped along for a couple of years doing cigarette commercials but it wasn’t the same.

I missed the big-time.

Within ten years I’d been forgotten and most of my movies went up in flames when the studio used them for special effects in ‘The Burning Of Rome’.

The photo you see here is pretty much all that is left of my early career. There are still a few old posters floating around but none of my films survived.

I heard that the chicken’s owner invested wisely and ended up running the largest chicken ranch in the south-east.

I’m gonna look him up and see if I can get a job.

I like chickens and it seems that they like me.