The Letter

Sometimes a letter can change everything...

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“Only one more,” Jim said firmly, “she never warmed up properly, so three’s the limit. Any requests?”
Mrs Jackson piped up, with a bit of a quaver in her voice. “You wouldn’t happen to know The Road to the Isles would you?”
Jim nodded and started to play. By the time the song was over, the old lady had tears running down her cheeks. “Thank you,” she said. “That was my husband’s favourite song.”
Anna and Bonnie went over to Mrs J and while Anna mopped her tears with one of Sam’s big soft hankies, Bonnie laid a consoling head on her knee. The old lady grasped Anna’s wrist and essayed a smile.
“Thank you all. I’ve had a lovely time. And not once have I felt like the old lady invited along to make everyone else feel good about themselves.”
“Well. That’s because you aren’t,” Patsy said from the other side of the room. “Anna doesn’t do shit like that, and from what I’ve seen of him neither does Sam.”
“True,” Sandra agreed in her soft voice, “none of us are like that, I hope. Anyway, you aren’t old inside, and that’s where it counts.’

Mrs Jackson positively beamed, then looked at her watch. “It’s past eleven o’clock. I’m missing my beauty sleep. Geordie. Can you give Gary the Cab a buzz?”
“Aye,” he nodded and ambled out to the hallway to call in the relative quiet. He was back quickly.
“Ten minutes.’

Patsy and Jim had been having a whispered conversation and Jim held up his hands for some hush. Which he got immediately.
“Since this is such a special occasion, I’m gonna let Pats sing one more time. This one’s for Anna and Sam.”

He put the harmonica to his lips and the familiar melody of  Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine filled the room. Then Patsy lifted her voice. She looked at Anna as she sung the first verses, but finished the song with her eyes locked on Jim. The room went mental, to such an extent that they almost didn’t hear Mrs J’s cabbie at the door.

Sam ran to let him in.
“Sorry. She’s not quite ready. Been listening to some music.”
“That’s OK. I heard it as I was walking up the drive. Whoever that is has a truly amazing voice.”
“Doesn’t she just.”

Sam fetched Mrs Jackson’s coat, and while he was helping her into it, Anna scooted off to the kitchen returning with a small white box in her hand.
“Wedding cake,” she explained, bending to kiss her departing guest on the cheek. “Not traditional, though. Needs to be eaten in the next couple of days.”
“Thank you. Can I come and see you again soon?”
“Of course you can. Just give us a call.”

Geordie offered his arm, on one side and Gary took the other. They progressed down the drive at a stately pace. This effectively broke up the party, with those who lived locally making their way home in various states of merriness. Those who were overnighting, gathered in the kitchen for a quick nightcap before heading for bed.
“Where are the little men?” Sam asked.
“They faded a couple hours ago, so their Daddy carried them to bed. Incidentally, they were enchanted by the bunks. She turned her blue orbs on Jamie. Have you had any booze?”
“No Mum.”
“Would you like a nightcap?”
“If there’s an amnesty I’d like a glass of red wine.”
Patsy nodded, and Anna handed him a big glass of Zinfandel. He sampled it and grinned widely.
“You tried this, mum?”
“No.”
“Well you should. I think you’ll like it.”
He passed his glass and Patsy took a sip.
“It is good,” she grinned. “Got any more Anna?”
“I reckon I could find a dribble…”

In the end, the kitchen party went on very late.
As Anna and Sam prepared for the night Bonnie wandered in from the garden.
“Guard duties done?” Sam asked and she wagged tiredly at him.
“Bedtime, everyone,” Anna said with a tired smile of her own.

As he was undressing, Sam looked over at his wife. “Excellent party, wasn’t it?”
“It was.”
“And as for Patsy. What a voice. Why haven’t I heard her in concert at the Albert Hall?”
“Because she sings purely for pleasure. Says making it her job would kill the joy.”
“I get that. I really get that. So that makes it even more of a privilege to have heard her tonight.”
“It does, as she only sings among real friends.”
“She’s a lot more complicated than she looks, ain’t she? But did you enjoy seeing her as much as you thought you would?”
“More.”
“When you seeing her again?”
“I dunno. A lot depends on you. If you want to be friends with Pats and Jim…”
“Course I do. I like Jim immensely and I’m beginning to like Patsy too. She’s such an amazing mum, and I also like her sense of humour. So… Maybe the first step is asking them to stay for lunch tomorrow. If that ain’t a big bother.”
“Oh Sam. I’d love it. But would you like it?”
“Yeah. I reckon I’d like them as friends.”
Then he smirked at Anna: “Any idea what they might be up to now?”
“Oh yeah. Noisily.” Anna’s smile was positively wicked.
Sam pulled her into his arms.
“Tell me about noisily…”
He bent his handsome head and nibbled Anna’s neck. She giggled.
Bonnie give them a reproachful look from her bed in the corner of the room.
And so, between lust and laughter, Sam and Anna made love noisily and fell asleep still entwined together.

Jane Jago

Jane Jago’s Daily Drabble – Fifty

She loved him. It was that simple. Plain, dumpy Annie loved her handsome husband.

So why was she crying as she peeled potatoes?

She gave an unladylike sniff as he breezed through the door bringing an earthy smell and a hint of snow. He came up behind her and nuzzled her neck. 

Annie turned into his embrace and allowed herself to be seduced by his kiss. 

He took her hand and slid something shiny on her finger.

“Diamonds last forever,” he smiled down into her bemused eyes. “And that’s about how long I’ll love you.”

He kissed her tears away…

©️jj 2018

Unwanted Gift

I didn’t ask to be born, and yet here am I
Gifted with life, but knowing I’ll die.

The thrice tainted gift that none can refuse
Brings suffering: fear, pain and abuse.
And so we must strive to keep those at bay
There can be no rest, just fight every day.

For how can you sleep at peace in your bed
Knowing another still needs to be fed?
How can you lie to yourself with each breath,
And feel any joy when another fears death?
Oh why do we live each in silent enclave
And not have a care for those we enslave?

For our lives are lived on the backs of the weak,
The poor, the downtrodden, those forced to be meek.
We claim to be proud and clever and strong,
But still do not see what we do is so wrong.

I didn’t ask to be born, and yet here am I
Gifted with life, but knowing I’ll die…

 

Weekend Wind Down – The Puritan’s Wife 2

They did not meet again until it was time to sup, when they sat at a small table set in the parlour where the curtains were closed against the evening chill and a small fire of aromatic pine cones scented the air.
Once William had taken the edge off his hunger he smiled at Mary.
“It seems,” he said kindly, “that you are to be complimented on your stewardship of this household.”
Mary felt a blush heating her cheeks. “I did what I could within the constraints of…” then she could not continue speaking.
“Within the constraints of your father and brother wasting every penny the estate could be squeezed to provide?”
Mary hung her head. “Yes,” she whispered miserably.
“You have no need to reproach yourself, my wife. You have worked miracles. And you have had none to assist you. Save the servants, each of whom would, I think, lay down his or her life in your service.”
Mary felt her sense of humour returning and dared a small sally. “I think they mostly like me because I am unlikely to be groping anybody on the stairs.”
William narrowed his eyes and for a second she feared she had gone too far, but his brow cleared and he grinned. “It is,” he said genially, “a great relief to find a female who chooses sense above sensibility, and realism above fairy stories. And talking of fairy stories, what shall we do about your cousin?”
“That, sir, is a moot question. I know what would be best, but I do not know if it is possible.”
“Tell me what it is and we shall see.”
“Catherine has a brother, Charles, who is, I believe, in the Low Countries with… Umm with…”
“With the King, do you mean?”
Mary nodded, round eyed with amazement.
“You did not expect me to call him thus, did you?”
“No. I did not. I had heard…”
“It is confession time. I am not such a good Parliamentarian as to have a grudge against the rightful King of England. I believe in the values of the Protestant Church, I am a nephew to Thomas Fairfax, and I was a school friend of Richard Cromwell. I fought for the cause because of my family and my friend, but I would not have voted to execute the previous King and neither do I feel any animosity towards his son.”
Mary digested this information then smiled, disclosing, if she could but have seen it, a furtive dimple at the corner of her mouth.
“Perhaps I should make my own confession. My father and brother may have been Catholic, although I would doubt that either had any religious beliefs, but my mother and I always held by heretical tenets. And you should also know that the manor came from my mother’s family so it is not properly Ashleigh land at all.”
He looked solemn. “Truthfully, then, the land was not your father’s to lose, nor your brother’s to play ducks and drakes with.”
“Oh, I think it was. Mother gave it into my father’s hands on the day she was foolish enough to wed him. I have made a much better bargain of a husband, and if I have any claim to the land I choose to give that to him as a wedding gift.”
William sat silent for a very long time. Long enough so that Mary was beginning to think she had made a dreadful mistake and wondering what she might do to mend things. But then his gaze switched back from wherever he had been and he reached for her hand where it lay on the table.
“Thank you wife,” he lifted her small work roughened hand to his lips. “I swear that you shall not live to regret your trust in me.”
It was some six weeks later and a full moon lit the gardens with its eerie silver radiance. Mary stood in the shelter of William’s arms and fretted a little.
“Are you sure they will come?”
William just laughed indulgently. “Listen.”
The sound of muffled hoofbeats announced the imminent arrival of nocturnal visitors and Mary turned her face to where the manor gardens met the dyke-crossed fens. There were six horses and a riderless pony coming at a careful pace through the treacherous peat bogs. A figure materialised at the iron gate and ushered the riders in. Their guide and two others waited just inside the gate, leaving three riders to drop their reins and dismount on the sloping lawn. Mary recognised her cousin Charles as he strode over to where she stood. He was very obviously one of the King’s men, from his plumed hat to his gleaming top boots, although Mary could not help noticing how shabby and threadbare he was. He grinned unrepentantly, removed his extravagantly feathered hat, and bowed floridly.
“Mary it is good to see you well.” He turned his attention to William. “William Fairfax, as I live and breathe. I never thought to see you again. Not after Naseby.”
The two men grasped arms like the staunchest of friends, and Mary was left wondering how many more secrets her husband harboured.
Charles looked about him. “I see my sister is not here to greet me. Where is the jade? Still abed?”
“She changed her mind this afternoon,” Mary said dully, “says she isn’t going with you.”
“Oh but she is. I have too much affection for you, and too much respect for your husband to leave that black-hearted trollop here spreading her poison. I take it she has already started.”
“Oh indeed. I was barely in the door.”
Charles laughed although it wasn’t an entirely pleasant sound. “Where is she?”
“The yellow bedchamber. But I think she has locked the door.”
Charles indicated the surly looking giant at his shoulder. “I have a key.”
The two men walked purposefully into the house while their companion smiled at Mary. “Anthony Babbage at your service ma’am. Betrothed, so they remind me, to a certain Catherine Ashleigh. Big belly and all.” He dropped the fashionable drawl and gave Mary a shrewd look. “Do we have any idea at all who is responsible?”
“Honestly. No. She claims a rape, which may or may not be true.”
He lifted a shoulder in what seemed to Mary to be a strangely feminine gesture. “Whatever the truth, it solves a looming problem. And my servant Gregory will know how to keep her in order.”
Mary had been hearing a series of muffled crashes and one single scream of rage before footfalls could be heard descending the stairs. Charles carried an unwieldy bundle of clothing and the big man had Catherine over his shoulder. She was quiet and still and Mary felt worried until Charles reassured her.
“She’s just unconscious. We couldn’t ride across the fens in the dead of night with a screaming virago in our midst.”
He slapped palms with William who passed him a small leather pouch.
“Thank you. I am doubly in your debt now.”
The oddly assorted quartet went back to where their horses waited and Charles tied the ungainly bundle of clothing to the pony’s saddle while the silent Gregory mounted his huge horse, holding Catherine against his chest. Charles and Anthony lifted their hands, then the small cavalcade faded into the mist that was coming down to envelop the fens. Mary shivered and William drew her to him for comfort – and somewhat else.
Ten years later and a fine June morning. The family Fairfax sat at breakfast with the early sun catching the auburn lights in the hair that William had passed to all five of his sons. The man himself sat reading a letter from London and his sandy brows drew together in a frown. Recognising the signs of an impending explosion, Mary sent the children off with their nursemaid. She shut the door firmly behind them and held out her hand for the letter. Almost against his will, William handed it over grimacing as he did so. Mary read, stumbling through the legal language and the overly ornate script.
“Well we are not having that are we. Our marriage annulled, our children bastardised and me given to some ‘cousin’ of whom I have never heard. I think not.”
Looking into her husband’s eyes she saw something unclench in him and passed a hand over her own eyes before stamping one small foot.
“William Fairfax, you didn’t think for one minute that I would even consider this revolting scheme, did you?”
“No. Not really. But I gave you no option but to marry me.”
“And so? That was a decade ago. You are my husband, and the father of my children, and my life, and my love.”
William’s chair hit the floor as he leapt to his feet. He dragged Mary into a mad embrace and swung her around and around until she was completely dizzy. When he set her on her feet she had to clutch hold of his shirt front to stop herself from falling.
“What?” She said a bit crossly.
He took her smooth peachy face in his big hands and held it for a long moment before claiming her lips in a tender kiss.
“Oh Mary,” he said in a voice so deep and tender that it all but stole her breath, “do you know how long I have waited to hear you say those words?”
“What words?”
“That you love me.”
“Oh. Those words. I thought you knew. I thought you must know, but I always thought you didn’t love me…”
This time his kiss burned with quite the fire of the sunset over the fens and his hug all but crushed the breath from her body.
“Of course I love you, Mary mine, I think I fell the moment you turned your trusting little face up to mine as we walked home from our wedding.”
It was Mary’s turn to say something but she couldn’t speak, so she pulled his head down to where she could cover his face with tiny, biting kisses.
He groaned. “Do you have any pressing business, my wife?”
She laughed up into his eyes. “None more pressing that the love I have for you, my husband. Shall we see if we can make the daughter your heart desires?”

Jane Jago

Jane Jago’s Daily Drabble – Forty-Nine

If I ever get drunk again will you please duct tape my mouth and send me home in an Uber. 

In London, with a bellyful of tequila, it sounded simple. Ten large to prove or disprove the existence of forest spirits. 

But now? Now I was spreadeagled naked on the damp leafy soil in the middle of a forest in the middle of the freaking countryside and I wasn’t so sure. Still it was almost dawn…

A twig cracked and I turned my head to see a goat-headed being approaching me. It looked entirely too pleased to see me.

©️jj 2018

If I Tweet

If I tweet
Will my feet
Compete
If I fart
Will the art
Depart
If I sneeze
Will my knees
Freeze
If I poo
What will you
Do
If I twitter
Is the babysitter
Bitter
If I read
Will I need
Feed
If I critique
Will I speak
Greek
If I rhyme
May I waste
Time

© jane jago

Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV’s Review of ‘Interview with the Vampire’

It was a wet weekend so I was poking through the crumbling and dusty ancient tomes in Mumsie’s personal library, some of which even date back in history to before the early 1990s, in search of something worthy of my attention. As I pulled out a slender volume of poetry, a rather wide and heavy paperback was dislodged and fell from the shelf to impact my naked toes.

After I had finished hopping around and cursing my maternal parent for the disorganised teetering piles of books she has adorning her shelves, I picked up the book and examined it. In the absence of anything else appealing, I decided to read it.

Review of Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

The first thing I noticed is that all the major characters in the book are dead. Which one would think might mean they were thus safer than those who were alive. Indeed, the few who first appear alive usually do wind up dead, but those who are dead also end up deader. Confusing? I think it is meant to be.

For example, there is a little girl who starts being alive, then is dead but still a character active in the book – and then is dead and no longer a character active in the book. Except in the past tense where she remains very active.

The hero of the book is truly Byronesque, bemoaning the nature of the human condition – for those humans who are dead as he is. His nobility is the only saving grace of this book. That and the erotic elements. And Lestat.

Read it if you have a wet weekend that needs filling and have no boxed sets left to binge on.

Two stars – one for each day of that wet weekend it filled and a bonus star for the attractiveness of the real hero, Lestat.

Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV

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Jane Jago’s Daily Drabble – Forty-Eight

Dragon dropped out of the sky to where a plump white virgin was shackled against a rock wall. She shrieked squeakily… 

“Halt foul beast.” The voice was more shaky than commanding, and it emanated from a steel-clad knight astride a bored-looking destrier. Horse and dragon eyed each other, and horse offered the equine equivalent of a shrug.

The maiden clasped her hands across her ample bosom as the young knight hefted his broadsword in an unsteady hand.

“Boo…” dragon laughed.

Horse took matters into his own hooves. And bolted.

Dragon ate the virgin. 

He belched a single flame…

©️jj 2018

  

Coffee Break Read – Dark Angel

It’s difficult being good, because bad girls have all the fun.

Which is probably why I found myself sitting on the pavement outside the Dog and Duck late one Saturday night. I blinked owlishly at the long denim-clad legs that blocked my vision. Came a deep-chested chuckle and I looked up, and then up some more to find myself looking into the amused face of a very tall man with a blond beard. He grinned down at me.
“How’d I get out here?”
“On my back…”
I must have looked disbelieving because he crouched down in front of me.
“Stand up and have a look inside.”

I don’t usually do what people tell me but there was something compelling about the big guy so I heaved myself onto my feet and walked to the pub doorway. Inside it was chaos. There were punches and bottles being thrown, and the floor was a mess of beer and blood. I automatically looked towards my usual table, to see my friends bending over something on the floor. There were tears and snot running down their faces and they seemed unusually distraught.

I felt the big man come stand beside me and his body heat was surprisingly comfortable. I turned my head.
“What’s on the floor?”
He put his hands on my waist and lifted me so I could look down onto the dirty floor in front of the red leatherette banquette.

What I saw all but defied belief. I shook my head, blinked twice, then fisted my eyes and looked again. It didn’t get any better. My friends were standing around a humped pile of clothing and hair, only it was my clothing and my hair. I screwed my head around and looked down on the blond head of the man who held me in the air. I wriggled and he set me down.

He smiled, not entirely kindly.
“Yes that is you in there on the floor. And yes you are dead.”
I considered that for a moment.
“The me in there is dead. But the me out here don’t seem to be in too much trouble. Why’s that? And who are you?”
“Your body is inside. But your spirit is out here.” His smile had the cutting edge of a razor and he ran a hand along the bare skin of my arm. Then he sobered “Who am I? That’s a bit more complicated…”
“Try me…”
He seemed to be struggling for words, but I can be patient so I waited quietly.
“Do you believe in God?”
That seemed to me like an odd question, but it was an odd sort of an evening so I played along.
“Mostly. Sort of.”
“And Angels.”
“You telling me you’re an Angel?”
This time his grin was genuinely amused.
“No. I’m the opposite.”
“Demon then?”
“Sort of. Although we don’t like that word.”
“Okay. What do you like to be called?”
“Dark Angels.”
I was vaguely surprised by how well I was handling this conversation, but I smiled at him anyway.
“You got wings?”
He moved his shoulders and I saw a pair of huge black feathered wings for the briefest of instants before they disappeared.
“Yup.”
“Right. I’m probably hallucinating, but just in case I’m not what do you want with me?”
“You have a choice to make.”
“I do?”
“You do. Mostly when people die there is a clear path to the light or into the dark. But in a very few cases it isn’t clear cut and the deceased gets to make a choice. Gabriel or Lucifer. Good or evil. Heaven or hell.”
He stared deeply into my eyes and whatever he saw there made his grin widen.
“You really are considering, aren’t you?”
I lifted a shoulder.
“I shouldn’t be?”
“No. You should be. But most of he newly dead are in hysterics right about now.”
I snorted.
“So why is it only you here? Shouldn’t there be somebody batting for the other team.”
He jerked his chin and I looked to where a skinny bloke lay unconscious on the deck.
“Who cold cocked him?”
A new voice spoke. Icily. “That’s a very good question.”
My head snapped around as if on elastic and I found my eyes assaulted by a bright whiteness that hurt my teeth it was so shiny.
I put a hand over my eyes. “Sheesh, Angel Wossname, turn the brightness down a tad, you’re blinding me.”
The voice that responded was both patronising and didactic. “Better to be blinded by the servant of God than beguiled by the servant of the Devil.”
For some reason this arrogance got on my nerves.
“Turn it down or bugger off. The choice is yours.”
After a second of affronted silence the white apparition disappeared.
My demon whistled admiringly.
“I’ve never seen that before.”
I shrugged. “It got on my tits. Now. How many lies have you told me?”
“None. So far. Lying to candidates is frowned on.”
“If I go with you, what?”
“You become one of us. A Dark Angel.”
“And if I choose the other path?”
“I don’t know. But you can bet your sweet ass it will be boring…”
I think he was going to say more but I held up a hand for silence.
“Fire and brimstone and eternal torment?”
“Only for murderers and child molesters. They go to The Pit. But that has nothing to do with us.”
I glowered at him.
“You aren’t giving me a lot of confidence. Explain further.”
He looked at me as if reassessing his options. Then he showed his teeth.
“My lord Lucifer wants you. So here’s the deal. There are five places the dead can go. There’s heaven, where you eventually get to be a white angel. There’s the waiting room where you go if you are to be reborn. There’s purgatory where you go to expunge your sins before being reborn. There is hell where you get to be a dark angel. And there’s the pit, where all the torments Lucifer and Gabriel can devise are heaped on your head.”
“This far I’m just about buying it.”
“Good. It’s the unvarnished truth.”
“It is,” the melodious voice came from just behind my right ear. I resisted the temptation to jump and cuss, instead turning my head to look at the new arrival.

He was white and gold and beauty incarnate, and his smile all but melted my heart.

“What Gor neglected to mention was that there hasn’t been a choice for ten of your generations until tonight. Which makes you a very important soul.”

I shrugged.
“Gor. May I see your true form.”
The Dark Angel flowed out of his simulacrum of human skin and stood before me, coal black and naked. He was mighty fine. I stared at them for a long moment before speaking.

“So what you are really asking me to choose between is two sides of the same coin.”

They both beamed at me and Gor went so far as to wink.

I held out my hand to the Dark Angel.
“Take me to your leader…”

© jane jago 2017

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