The Men In The Shadows is almost finished and the last few chapters will be published soon. But in the meantime heres a little short story…
Seven miles to go. He was making good time. The road was empty and the car was behaving itself. The radio was playing “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. He took this as a good sign. Today would be a happy day.
Six miles to go. He knew exactly what he’d do when he got there. He’d park the car and walk along the old footpath that led to the hill. From there it was just a ten minute walk uphill and then he’d see it. It was a special place. A secret place. Their place.
Five miles to go. He thought back to how they first met. The walking holiday. Both of them single. Both of them wanting and hoping they might meet someone with the same interests. The endless jokes about her rucksack. He said it was bigger than she was and he was right. She was so petite.
Four miles to go. They’d swapped numbers. He called her as soon as he got home. They arranged to meet. Georgios in the city. He had pizza. She had Carbonara. She wanted to pay but he was having none of it. He was the man and that’s what men did. He kissed her for the first time that night. She tasted of cheese sauce and bacon. Two things he loved most in the world.
Three miles to go. Within a month she’d moved into his flat. They became inseparable. They did everything together and every year on September 14th they went to their special place. It was the place where he’d first plucked up courage to talk to her. They’d been walking and stopped at a large Oak tree on a hill. He offered her a liver sausage and onion sandwich. She accepted and laughed at his choice of fillings.
Two miles to go. He couldn’t really pin point the day it all started to go wrong. It just did. Little things started to irritate her. She said she didn’t like him picking out her clothes for her. Stupid really because he just wanted her to look her best. Suddenly she decided she wasn’t happy being at home all the time. But he’d made her give up her job because she always looked so tired. Besides, a womans place was in the home. All she had to do was clean and cook.
One mile to go. She said he was controlling. What did that mean? He had no idea. If making all the decisions on the home, holidays, food, clothes, her hair and make up was controlling, then perhaps he was. But it was just to make her life a lot easier. She didn’t have to worry about anything. Just have his tea on the table at 17.57 every evening and that was it.
Half a mile to go. Almost there. He was sure that by now she would have come to her senses. She left on a Wednesday. He’d come home from work and she was gone. No note. Nothing. It was a shock. No tea ready. He had to get fish and chips that night. Which was upsetting because they only had fish and chips on a Friday! That was six months ago. Today was September 14th. Their day. He knew she’d be here.
He pulled into the car park and stopped by the Pay and Display machine. He bought a ticket. It was fifty pence but she was worth it.
He started his journey up the hill and was soon in sight of their special place. He could see a small figure standing at the top of the hill. He smiled. He knew she’d be here.
As he got closer he realised something was different. Something was wrong. Then he realised. The Oak tree was gone. It didn’t matter. At least she was there.
He was less than six feet away from the small framed figure in front of him. The person was looking down at the ground where the Oak tree had fallen. Sawdust was everywhere.
He spoke her name.
The figure turned. To his surprise it wasn’t Doris at all. It was an old man in his seventies. The old man spoke.
“Scandalous isn’t it. Beautiful tree like this vandalised. Someone came here in the early hours of this morning with a chain saw and cut the thing down.”