Fandango’s One Word Challenge (6 November 2020)

for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), surmise.

I haven’t been near WordPress today. You might correctly surmise that I have been busy, since I posted some fiction first thing.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

For the last (while), I have been keeping tabs on the official COVID numbers in my village, noting them on an Excel spreadsheet. The numbers are just for my village, so they’re no good to anyone else, unless my next-door neighbour is reading!

A month or so ago, I decided that I could make these numbers public. They allay my fears, so my thinking was that they might allay other people’s fears, too. I resolved to think about it, and I’m still undecided, because even though I’m just repeating official data, I also think the fewer data sources, the better.

In the meantime, though, I wrote this little web site. It was all just static web pages – I used to have to update the numbers every day in both my spreadsheet, and on the site.

All fine. I’ve been tinkering with it these last few weeks but it was pretty much complete a couple of weeks ago.

Today, I wrote a little program which will look inside the spreadsheet, and automatically load it onto the web site. Should save me a bunch of time/typing. The less typing I do, the fewer mistakes I’ll make transcribing things!

I just got it going, that’s where I’ve been all day. Now I probably have a hundred posts to catch up on!

Anniversary Present

No reason. Just felt like writing and this is what came out.

My name is Heike Fiedler. I live with my husband, Mark, in a small town in Bavaria. On its outskirts, our town boasts a boutique hotel, set in the old castle. Far from being a medieval fortress, the castle was built in the nineteenth century. It is not authentic, but it looks the part. My best friend’s daughter, Sylvie, works there and she is forever telling us which famous name dropped by since last time, to enjoy the privacy of this luxury hideaway.

My husband is a good man, somebody I have grown to love more over the years. In front of me, I see a kind and thoughtful man, even if he has lost some of his athleticism over the years. The only people in the world that I might love more, if that were possible, are our two wonderful children. To underline his thoughtfulness, we celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary earlier this year, when Mark presented me with a weekend at this luxury retreat. “With the help of Sylvie”, he had muttered – I well knew that a night in this place cost most of my month’s salary.

On the appointed day, I had taken time off work and waited impatiently to leave our house. The hotel had said that check-in was at 2pm, and we arrived there shortly afterwards. We were able to drive the few miles to the hotel in no time at all. Our ten-year-old car looked distinctly out of place in the car park, as I saw a bright red sports car in there, already lounging about. I’m no good with cars, but this one had a horse emblem on its bonnet. There was another- the colour was striking, a real banana yellow. And, oh so big, for what looked like just two seats. “Come on”, I hurried Mark, who would happily have stayed to admire these cars, “let’s check into the room and we can find the spa”.

Sylvie had again done us proud. Though Mark had sworn that he had paid only for an “ordinary” room, we were presented with the key to the Honeymoon Suite. We left our things there – Mark would have happily watched what looked like a hundred-inch cinema-tv, but I wanted to try the spa. Sylvie was not finished yet, as when we arrived at the spa, we were told that a sea-mineral therapy had also been booked for us. As I looked at him quizzically, Mark just winked at me.

Three hours later, I looked at my watch. Almost 6 o’clock. “We’d better head back soon”, urged Mark, “we need to make ourselves presentable in time for dinner”. Reluctantly, I dragged myself away from my sunbed. “Can we go back via the car? I need to pick something up from there.”

In the car park, Mark was just locking up as we watched a limousine enter. Gleaming black, brand new, like it had just been driven from the showroom, we hung back to see whether anybody famous would emerge from behind that tinted glass. A figure emerged which I recognised as Karl Jaeger. Jaeger was famous, not in Germany, but in our next-door neighbour. In fact, as a popular, far-right career politician, he had almost become Premier in their last elections. Repeatedly, he had used the phrase, “the wolves are gathering for the feast”, a direct reference to his country’s influx of refugees, so much so that the two had become synonymous. “Come on, let’s go get ready”, I ushered Mark, Jaeger was not a man to my taste.

Two hours later, and we are ushered into the restaurant. The waiters could not be any more polite, and I was left to marvel how money could buy such lovely surroundings. As we are shown to our table, Jaeger is seated at the next table, in a party of four men. As I settle into my antique chair, the place is a who’s who of faces I recognise. Nearby I see a famous German football star, presumably out with his wife or girlfriend. Her figure does not look at all natural.

A waiter comes, serves an hors d’oeuvre. We thank him, and he responds with an accent which clearly is not German.

I cannot remember a better meal – this really is an occasion to remember – when suddenly I hear a disturbance from Jaeger’s table. The men, who had been raucous all evening seemed to have focussed their attention on our waiter. My normally quiet husband spoke up: “do you mind? We’re trying to enjoy our anniversary here.” “Relax, old man. It is only this useless waiter. Don’t you realise that he’s another one? That the wolves are gathering for the feast?” His famous catchphrase.

“Yes, I saw them gathering outside, next to your new Audi.” I have never been so proud of my husband.