The Perfect Match

“Chrissake, Betty, why’d you need such a big freezer, anyhow?”

“I told you, Frank, if we get a bigger freezer, we can get much better deals on the food we eat. It’ll work out cheaper in the long run.”

The elderly couple perused the appliance store, walking slowly down the aisle together, as they had done almost 45 years before. The wife selecting carefully, the husband impatient to leave.

Ten minutes later, Betty had made her selection.

“What do you think, Frank?”

Rolling his eyes, Frank’s simple response was “Jesus, Betty, that thing is big enough to hide a body. Do we really need something that big?”

“Frank, I told you. This will give us more options to buy directly from Old Colman’s place”. Doug Colman owned the beef farm on the edge of town, and had built up a successful business, selling his own frozen meat, in bulk, directly to the public.

“Whatever…”, muttered Frank, as he started walking purposefully toward the door.

Her mind made up, Betty handed over her card, and arranged for delivery in just two days’ time.

Next day, Betty spent the entire day clearing a freezer-sized space in the garage. Again, Frank took no interest. Frank had taken less and less interest in Betty as their marriage had evolved.

The following day, shortly after 11 am, Betty’s new freezer arrived as promised. The delivery men kindly placed it directly into its new space. Betty was left alone with the instructions. The main thing, it seemed, it needed 24 hours to get down to its designated temperature, before any food could be placed inside. There was nothing left to do now but wait. She returned to the lounge, where she found Frank, in vest and underpants, studiously reading the Sports section of the newspaper.

“Frank, do you wanna come and see the new freezer?”

“Busy”, muttered Frank. “I saw the goddam thing in the shop, anyhow. I know what it looks like.”

Betty bided her time.

By dinnertime the next evening, the freezer was ready to use. Betty served Frank, who was sitting in his favourite, rust-red armchair. Ignoring her, he was concentrating on the game being played on the tv. Once she had presented his meal, Betty returned to the solitude of the kitchen. Five minutes later, Frank exclaimed:

“What is this shit? For god’s sake, you stupid woman, didn’t your mother ever teach you to season food properly? Go get some salt, for fuck’s sake. Before you choke me to death.”

Mary looked around the kitchen. She instinctively picked up the salt cellar from the worktop. She hesitated, looked around once again, and replaced the salt, instead selecting a large skillet that was sitting on the hob. She stole silently back into the lounge. Frank was still glued to the tv.

One swift, decisive blow to the back of his head, and Frank never complained again, a perfect fit for Betty’s new appliance.

Nowt Butt a Ballad

inspired by Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC) of 31 March 2021, note.

Patrick McGinty, an Irishman of note,
Fell in for a fortune and thought he’d have a goat,
Said Paddy, “Now of goat’s milk, I will have me fill”,
But when he got the nanny home, he found it was a bill.

Straight away, this is not mine. This is part of an Irish folk song I learned as a boy. Here it is, the best audio version I could find, performed by a superb Irish performer, the late, great Val Doonican.

The Other “Who Won The Week”

inspired by Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC) of 30 March 2021, slight.

It was only an hour to nightfall,
When the helmsman encountered a squall,
Though his pressure was slight
The ship veered to the right
And lodged itself into the wall.

Come on, anyone else think this was hilarious?

Secrets

She was worried about her son. His coughing had prevented much sleep the night before. While it was a typical cold, seen many times before, he was clearly in some discomfort, and her instinct was to soothe.

She stirred, sat upright, focussed on the clock face. Dawn. She silently rose, her husband still gently snoring – his night had been disturbed, too. Adorning a shawl to fend off the chill of the hour, she padded into Marcus’s bedroom. Exhausting himself, the child had finally fallen to sleep. She lightly tested his brow, hot to her touch. “No school for you today”, she thought.

Silently exiting Marcus’s bedroom, she crept downstairs. Into the lounge, where she fired up her Mac. To the kitchen, she boiled the kettle. Returning to the lounge, the computer was waiting for her.

Opening the program, she selected “New Email” and began typing.

“I’m sorry, darling. Marcus is unwell, I’m keeping him off school today. I’m going to have to postpone our liaison. Love you. Sarah.” She sealed the message with a red heart.

Hitting “Send”, her attention moved away from the computer. Retrieving her drink, she stood once again and tip-toed back into bed.


Just felt like this. No reason.

Stowaway

For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #112, where we write about this photo from the Google Photo Frame.

“One more time”, said the gnarled voice.

An impish smile on her young face, she reached under the blanket. A stern hand slapped it back.

“Focus!”, said the voice. “One more time.”

She looked at him sheepishly. “But Gregor, we have been through this so many times already. Can’t we just… ”

“Enough!”, he interrupted. “One more time.”

Submissive now, she looked into his serious eyes. Her expression became deadpan.

“At the end of work…”, he started for her.

“At the end of work”, she continued, obediently, “I queue up to exit, as normal. I make sure I am last. At the front of the queue, you will distract Frau Hoffstedtler.” Frau Hoffstedtler was the housekeeper at the house in which they both worked, Gregor as a waiter and Natalya as a maid. The house belonged to the district administrator, the most important party official thereabouts.

“I am to use the distraction to head for the wine cellar”, continued Natalya.

“Frau Hoffstedtler will return, find me gone, and assume that I returned home for the night.

“Once in the cellar, I am to empty a bottle of wine. If they come looking, the scent will distract the dogs. Then, I am to hide until you call me.

“We will go out into the garden, together.”

She hesitated. “You are sure that the train will come tonight?”

“It passes every night”, came Gregor’s response. “It leaves the main station at 11:15 and passes this way to the border.” Satisfied with his own answer, Gregor added, “Continue.”

“In the garden, we head for the footbridge. We should not expect any guards – because they patrol the perimeter, they do not patrol the garden.

“We meet Stephan at the bridge. Is Stephan still going to help us, Gregor?”

“Stephan will be there. He is being well paid for this evening.” Again, “Continue.”

“Stephan will make the train stop for us?”

“That’s right”, finished Gregor. “Stephan will mask the signal for us, and the train will stop under the footbridge. We will have just a 2 metre drop onto its roof. The train starts moving again, and carries us to the border.”

For the first time allowing himself to dream, he added, “Just think, Natalya, tonight we will cross the border. Tomorrow, we can lie together for the rest of our lives. We will be free.”

Natalya beamed back at him, enjoying his smile. Her hand fluttered under the blanket once again. This time, there was no attempt to prevent her. “Now”, she whispered, assuming control, “where were we?”

High Spirits

inspired by Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC) of 29 March 2021, method.

At the seance, his ability clear,
As participants flocked to draw near,
With his methods imperious,
He then sent them delerious,
When he made William Shakespeare appear

Who Won the Week (28 March 2021)

In response to Fandango’s Who Won the Week post, I have been looking at my own newsfeeds.


Outside the UK, you probably didn’t hear of this story, but have a look at this 30s clip:

Now, this clip happened last July. The subject might be fresh in our minds from Sarah Everard, but this happened way before that. If anything, this goes to show how nothing changes.

This footage is a guy, Oliver Banfield, assaulting a woman, Emma Homer. I imagine something must have happened leading up to this, but that’s no excuse for his behaviour. What I find particularly distressing is that his girlfriend can be heard calling his name, to calm him down.

The reason this is interesting is because the incident was reported to the authorities, who decided that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the guy. On that, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt – I’m not sure that this video had been discovered at the time the original decision was made. But it does underline what I said the other week about the authorities being unwilling to bring risky prosecutions.

Mrs Homer appealed, and the authorities changed their minds and went ahead with the prosecution. Following a very sluggish investigation, this has all come to a head in the last few weeks here. So while the actual incident happened before Sarah Everard, the court case has occurred very much in the same timeframe.

Mr Banfield was found guilty. I guess by then, this video had emerged, so it is not at all surprising.

What was surprising, however, was the sentence. Mr Banfield was sentenced to a fourteen-week curfew. Yes, he was forbidden from leaving home between 7 PM – 7 AM. And this, at a time when the UK is under lockdown anyway. And will be locked down, until June..

Now this case raises several questions, already. The sluggishness of the investigation? Perhaps, because a man assaulting a woman is regarded as a low priority? The light sentence? Perhaps because the offence is regarded as trivial?

But it gets more interesting, because Mr Banfield turns out to have been an off-duty police officer. So, perhaps the more sinister answer to these questions is that the authorities want to protect their own?

Frankly, this is why they need to be squeaky-clean. But, whatever the reasons, something smells.

The case is further complicated because the victim claims that, having discovered that she had been assaulted by a police officer, a guy sworn to protect and serve, the damage was that much worse.

In more recent events, first of all, the sentence made the case reach the news. So the UK now knows of the case. It has been all over several outlets.

That prompted Banfield’s employer, West Midlands Police, to announce that there would be a misconduct hearing. Well, it seems the least they can do, under the circumstances. But shouldn’t the charges have been the trigger for this? Not the publicity? As in, a court case decides if he broke the law; a misconduct case decides whether he came up to the police’s standards? Two different things. Surely those two bars are set at different levels? Surely the police expect something better than just “not criminal”?

Anyway, this is a long post by my standards, so I just wanted to wrap it up. Banfield won the week, because last Tuesday he resigned from the police, before they could kick him out on his ass.

In one final, bizarre twist, though, the police have decided that the misconduct hearing will happen anyway, in his absence. I’m cynical. It seems an attempt to redress some of the bad publicity, as though it isn’t the offence that’s important, but the reaction. Also, I’m not clear what teeth it has, now that the guy has already gone. But it feels a bit like the authorities started way off the pace, finally realised the “right thing to do”, and are consequently behaving like a dog with a bone, despite events having once again overtaken them. I don’t know about a sluggish investigation, they just feel sluggish all round.

Thank goodnesst at least that Mrs Homer survived to tell the tale. And thank goodness good people are around to record this stuff.

Life through the Lens (28 March 2021)

When my eyesight was still good, I was a bit of an amateur photographer. This is one of mine.

image showing a silhouette of a camera

A fallow deer youngster. Love the light,