Bert felt jealous, cheated on, and blue. Then he discovered he could morph into a giant nightmarish slug...
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On Wednesdays and Sundays I’m blogging nibble-sized chunks of new ‘Life in the Clouds’ novellas. You can check in regularly and read them bit for bit, or leave a message in my 'contact' page, and I'll send the entire digital story to you for free when published.
Life in the Clouds #6: Take a Slug ® James Field.
One week later, someone knocked brashly on Mr Styles’ office door and opened it enough to push her head through. He smiled at Olive, dropped his pen, and waved her in.
Mr Styles, owner of The Stables, forced his ageing back to sit up straighter and blinked his dry eyes rapidly to moisten them. He had a narrow face, with a long chin and nose. He never wore a suit or tie, preferring instead baggy trousers suspended with braces and warm pullovers, mostly hand-knitted by his wife.
“Won’t keep you a minute,” said Olive. She strode into the office, leaving the door open behind her.
It didn’t take Mr Styles more than a glimpse to see Olive wasn’t well. Her nose glowed red, her eyes were dull, and a look of suffering replaced her usual smile. “Come in and sit yourself,” he said, false teeth clicking.
Olive flopped into the chair and placed her right hand on her forehead. “I can feel one of my migraines coming on. Mind if I go home early?”
Mr Styles didn’t like the sound of that. Today was Wednesday. The next day was payday.
“I’ve got all the pay envelopes ready,” said Olive. “So there won’t be any problem tomorrow.”
“Off you go then. Try to get a good night’s sleep and stay home tomorrow, that's the best cure for migraine. My secretary can deal out the wages.” Mr styles linked his fingers on the desk and glanced down at them. He couldn’t remember a time when Olive worked an entire week. She had migraine attacks, or a dicky tummy, or the flu, or toothache. Her excuses were boundless. But he liked her and her bubbly, flirtatious spirit. She made him feel thirty years younger.
Olive puckered her lips, blew a kiss, and strolled from the office, her generous hips swaying.
One hour later, someone else tapped on his door. “Come in,” he called.
Olive’s twin sister Penelope stepped in, bringing with her a smell of musty somberness. Mr Styles had seen Penelope only once before, and on that occasion too, by coincidence, Olive had been absent, out of town.
“Your sister is at home,” said Mr Styles. “The poor creature has a nasty headache. Hope she gets over it. She’s popular here. You ought to be proud of her. What can I help you with?”
As he spoke, Mr Styles looked Penelope over. Once or twice, Olive had spoken of the remarkable likeness between herself and her twin sister. But Styles saw little closeness. The features of the two were alike, but Penelope carried an expression of chronic spiritual indigestion. She also had an unfriendly manner, and her hair was unkempt and lifeless brown. Olive’s was sleek black, or curly blond, or streaked with green or whatever the trend was. Mr Styles dry washed his hands. He disliked Penelope as much as he liked Olive.
To be continued…
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Like to know more about Alf, Bert and the rest of the gang? You can read their chaotic history in What on Earth.
Image by squarefrog from Pixabay
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The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
There’s a lot to like and a lot to dislike in this story. I like that it’s cosy, funny, and heart-warming. The plot, however, is a tragedy. There are two murders, and every character in the book, of which there are many, has a motif. With so many twists, turns, and red herrings throughout the narrative, it lost me in a virtual maze.
But the author commits the gravest crime: he introduces a new, guilty character right at the end of the story. Tut, tut, naughty.
View all my reviews