Tuesday, 28 March 2017

The Village Tales of Fekenham Swarberry - Book 4 and a bit - Hand In Glove (Chapter 21)


Image courtesy of Amberstock

The following morning, having spent an entertaining evening with Debbie and Miles, which had delighted Adam who feared Hilary and Debbie clashing, and an even better night making love with Hilary, Adam had called Vesper asking her to meet him on the corner of her road at ten. It was eight when he made the call but he wanted to accompany Hilary to the hospital to visit Mrs MacCrumpet. He also needed Vesper to be close at hand at all times now.
The elderly housecleaner was still under observation. She was conscious when they arrived but had little to say, drifting in and out of sleep. Adam and Hilary had spoken with the ward sister who had said to give Mrs MacCrumpet time. “She is old,”  she explained, "and has been through an awful ordeal but you’d be surprised how tough she is.”
Adam had left Hilary by the bedside, leaving her with money for a cab. Then he had called Debbie.
“If you’re not busy could you do me a favour?”
“Not busy this morning but I am this afternoon. Miles is taking me out shopping.”
“He must have more money than sense,” replied Lazarus, tongue in cheek.
“Blooming sauce,” said Debbie. “And you want me to do you a favour ?”
“Hilary is visiting her housekeeper. The nurse says the old lady is fine but I know Hilary blames herself.”
“You want me to keep an eye on Hilary. Make sure she’s alright.”
“If you wouldn’t mind.”
Debbie made a pantomime sigh that seemed far too loud to be real.
“Oh well, seeing as it’s you and neatly forgetting I’d like you to be shagging me downstairs in the basement instead of lucky Hilary I guess I ‘d better help.”
Lazarus guffawed.
“You saw us then?”
“I didn’t so much see as hear. Hilary makes quite a racket doesn’t she, a bit like a train racing through a tunnel? I do like her even though I thought I’d hate her.”
“I’m glad to hear it. I’m also grateful to you for being so understanding.”
With that Lazarus said goodbye leaving Debbie thinking how wrong he was. Yes, she did really like Hilary but she was deeply envious of her. No matter how much Adam loved Hilary, Debbie still loved Adam. The only half-sensible thing to do in such a situation, especially with Hilary sharing the house with them, was to make an effort.
Adam picked Vesper up at nine fifty seven. She was looking exceptionally nice today but Lazarus thought it best to say nothing. Paying her a compliment following her trying to kiss him might be misinterpreted.
“Where are we off to guv?” asked Vesper as Adam drove.
“I want to speak with Martin Tickpant again. I found out yesterday that he is the father of Sam Grimstain.”
“The murdered woman Jean Grimstain’s son?”
“That’s the one.”
“And you think that gives motive to Tickpant as you think she had been blackmailing him?”
“Precisely, but also Agatha Nosebag, I think she also knew who the boy’s father was. I think Tickpant killed them both as he didn’t want his wife finding out.”
Vesper seemed unsure.
“The only fault I can find with that, sir, is this: why would Martin Tickpant care what his wife thought? No disrespect, sir, but the wife has obvious problems. I would have thought Mister Tickpant could have easily made excuses his wife would have accepted.”
Lazarus bit a nail. It was a counter theory he too had been struggling with.
“Yes, I know. I cannot explain that but until I can I need to apply pressure to the Tickpants. I think we should bring him in for questioning.”
“You are going to arrest him now on suspicion? That might be a bit tricky sir.”
“I don’t think so but we’ll see. If I talk to Martin can you keep his wife calm? I don’t want to upset her more than I have to. ”
“No problem, sir.”
They drove the rest of the way in silence with Lazarus taking in the scenery and Vesper doing her best to keep her eyes off him. She knew she was being foolish but she couldn’t help finding him attractive. Right from the moment she had first seen him, having been called in as replacement for the departing Debbie Sundae, she liked being with him. The fact he didn’t reciprocate her attraction not only caused resentment, it also aroused her all the more.
She felt him swell inside her. it felt as though it filled her as his hot breath fell upon her and his tongue raced across her neck.
As the car rolled next to Birchtickle pond Vesper put the thoughts she was having away. Focus, she thought, focus.
Lazarus hammered on the farm house front door. Alice opened it, smiling, then, upon seeing who it was, blushed and appeared uncomfortable.
“Hello Alice, may we speak with Martin please?”
She looked Adam up and down as though considering what to do. Then she looked at Vesper.
“He’s not here,” she said.
“Where is he then?” asked Lazarus, sensing a reluctance to help them.
“He’s not here,” Alice repeated, this time more aggressively.
From the barn came a sound of metal against wood. Someone was using an axe. Lazarus nodded at Vesper to follow him.
“Thanks Alice, I think we know where he is.”
In the barn Martin Tickpant was chopping tree limbs into logs. He saw the two police officers walk in and greeted them icily.
“What do you want?”
The axe blade fell with a dull thud.
“You haven’t been honest with us, Mister Tickpant, have you?” asked Lazarus mildly.
“I’ve answered all the questions you put me honestly.”
“Perhaps but you still didn’t disclose everything did you?”
“If I didn’t then it was not your business to know it.”
“I am investigating a murder, two in fact.”
“My private life is my affair and has no bearing on these murders whatsoever.”
“Let me be the judge of that Mister Tickpant.”
The axe fell again, this time cleanly severing a section of branch. Martin Tickpant looked up at Lazarus but remained silent. He then brushed his hand across his forehead, wiping the sweat from his eyes.
Lazarus spoke.
“Sam Grimstain is your son isn’t he, Mister Tickpant?”
The axe fell again but this time missed its target. Martin Tickpant remained silent.
“Isn’t he Mister Tickpant? If you don’t want to answer questions here perhaps you’d rather we conducted the interview down at the station?”
Martin Tickpant rested the axe on a log then leant on the wooden handle.
“I had an affair, a brief, wonderful, affair fifteen years ago with Jean. It was when she first moved to Birchtickle. Yes, the boy is my son. What of it? I look after him don’t I? He doesn’t want for anything.”
“She was blackmailing you wasn’t she?” asked Lazarus, standing his ground but keeping well away from the axe.
“No, she wasn’t. We had cross words about her wanting more, more than I could afford but no, she wasn’t blackmailing me.”
“And Agatha Nosebag, she knew about your affair didn’t she?”
Martin Tickpant laid the axe down on the ground then moved toward the two police officers, wiping his hands on an old cloth.
“Agatha knew everyone’s business so maybe she did. I hadn’t told her, and neither had Jean but she may have found out but, before you go suggesting she was blackmailing, then stop. She wasn’t. We didn’t get on. She didn’t like me and I didn’t like her but she never blackmailed me, no really. I paid her money for helping out a bit.”
“What does your wife think of your relationship with Jean Grimstain, sir?” asked Vesper.
“Do you have any idea of what it is like being married to someone like my wife? Oh, I know I was wrong to have married, wrong to have let myself stoop to such a low degree but I have come to love her. I love Alice even though there are some that would say otherwise. I had an affair, Sergeant, that’s all. It was wrong and I’ve felt guilty ever since; guilty for Alice, guilty for Jean and guilty for Sam, my son. Guilt doesn’t make you kill though. That’s what you are here for isn’t it? You think I killed both Agatha and Jean.”
“You have motive, opportunity and means and the fact you were paying Mrs Nosebag money, even if you say it wasn’t, sounds like blackmail to me,” said Lazarus.
Tickpant smiled then shook his head, his large forehead still beaded with tiny drops of sweat.
“I didn’t kill Agatha nor did I kill Jean.”
“If not you, then who?”
As the words left Adam’s mouth the barn door flew open and Alice charged in wielding a knife. She ran straight at Lazarus, brandishing the blade before her. Vesper Highlot leapt forward and stuck her foot out. Alice tripped over it, dropped the knife on the straw covered barn floor and then clattered onto the ground in a heap. As she got up, Vesper took hold of her right arm, dragging it round her back.
Alice roared then tried to throw Vesper off. The police detective clung on as Martin Tickpant moved in front of his wife.
“Alice, Alice, love, calm down, calm down.”
Alice visibly relaxed. Vesper let go her hold on her arm which Alice started rubbing vigorously.
“It was me,” said Alice, me. I killed them both. I killed Nosebag and Jean Grimstain.”
Vesper took the steaming mug of coffee Lazarus gave her.
“Thanks,” she said stretching her left leg and rubbing it.
It had been a long day. She and Lazarus had interviewed both Martin and Alice Tickpant separately, often as a team but occasionally on their own. Lazarus had felt that his presence with Alice made her unwilling to reveal or say anything of potential worth. She seemed to have trouble with all men apart from her husband.
Martin stuck to his guns. He stoutly denied murdering either Agatha Nosebag or Jean Grimstain.
“Why would I kill Jean for? She looked after our son. Who is going to have him now?”
“You are missing the point,” remarked Lazarus. “We believe you had a motive. We believe you were being blackmailed. When Jean Grimstain’s demands became too much, and you thought she would reveal you as being Sam’s father, a fact you didn’t want your wife to know, you killed her.”
“Rubbish. I didn’t kill her even if we had argued.”
“And do you still deny that Agatha Nosebag was blackmailing you?”
Finally the pressure took its toll and Martin Tickpant gave vent to it, spitting as he shouted.
“Yes, yes, yes, alright, she was blackmailing me but I swear I didn’t kill her. I am not that stupid.”
Of course what the investigation needed was either a confession, which was what Lazarus was hoping for, or for new incriminating evidence, proof factual, that Martin was the guilty party.
Vesper took a different approach with Alice. The woman was na├»ve but that naivety, if not carefully handled, could, in the hands of a good defence council, be used against the Crown. Very subtly, Vesper began to befriend Martin Tickpant’s wife. She demonstrated how she could be trusted and how she was really on Alice’s side. It took a while but Alice began to trust Vesper.
“You and Martin have lived in Birchtickle longer than anyone else. You must love it there?”
Agatha forced a reluctant smile to her face, nodding vigorously.
“I was born in Birchtickle. I love it there,” replied Alice.
Vesper smiled back, observing Alice’s’ movements which seemed clumsy when compared to her own. It was obvious once you had been in Alice’s presence a short while that something was not quite right. Her speech was fine, if a little slow, but it was her eyes that revealed more. They registered things a lot slower than normal. Alice digested what was being said but then took an uncommonly long time to assess and understand a given question unless it was put in the simplest terms.
“When I was young I used to love playing noughts and crosses with my Dad. Did you have a game you liked?”
Alice stared momentarily at Vesper then her face broke into a broad smile.
“I spy. Daddy played I spy with me. I like I spy.”
“Do you play it with Martin?”
“Sometimes but he’s not very good at it.”
“I guess he’s always hard at work on the farm.”
Alice nodded again with the same repeated bobbing of her head.
“I think a farm must be hard work. I know I couldn’t do it. Do you help?”
“Sometimes; I help with lambing and feeding the geese. I am not allowed to drive farm vehicles.”
“Would you like to?”
Alice’s eyes lit up. She became very animated.
“Not much!” she expressed her desire using slang. “Especially the big tractors. I’d drive them round and round the field just like they were racing cars.”
She started to giggle. Her laughter was child-like but infectious. Vesper felt herself laughing too.
“Would you like to go for a drive in a police car?”
“Oh yeah, with the lights flashing and sirens making that funny noise?”
“Absolutely. Once this is over we shall do it.”
Seeing her now, this middle-aged woman, acting like a teenager, gave Vesper an entirely different perspective of Alice.
“Do you and Martin ever go for a drive, in his car I mean?”
“Every Sunday.”
“He takes you to church?”
“No. Martin doesn’t believe in God.”
“I see. What about you, do you believe?”
“Yes. My Daddy said God made everything, even stupidity. Martin’s not stupid though.”
Vesper took a sip of water.
“Where else does Martin drive you?”
“We go to Muckleford sometimes, market days mostly. Sometimes we go to the tea rooms in Fekenham. Once we went to Winchester. I liked it there. I like history.”
“What about walks? Do you and Martin ever walk anywhere?”
“Do you ever walk around the pond? That’s got history hasn’t it?”
“Yes. They used to tie witches to a chair and then drown them in the pond.”
“Not very nice was it?”
“People were like that back then.”
“Do you ever go out walking on your own?”
“Not if Martin’s not with me, no.”
“I see.” Vesper took another sip of water then placed the cup back on the table. ”I bet you are getting bored with all this aren’t you? Shall I see if it’s okay for you to go home?”
“With Martin?”
“Let me find out. Stay there for a minute, okay?”
Vesper left the interview room, walked the short distance down the corridor to where Adam Lazarus was sitting opposite Martin Tickpant. Judging by the pair’s facial expressions things were not going smoothly.
“Guv, can I have a word?”
Lazarus scraped the chair back then left the room. Outside Vesper leant her back against the wall.
“What’s up?” asked Lazarus, moving over to where a coffee vending machine stood. He pumped a shilling into the slot, pressed a button then watched as coffee poured over the grille and onto the floor. Lazarus pulled a face. Vesper Highlot grinned.
“Don’t you just love those things?”
“What’s up?” repeated Lazarus again. “Why’d you interrupt my interview?”
He looked tense, edgy. She could see he was struggling to get a confession.
“There is no way Alice Tickpant could have killed anyone. Not unless she was accompanied.”
“What makes you say that?” asked Lazarus.
“Whenever she goes out she has someone with her. That someone is usually Martin Tickpant.”
Lazarus pulled a face then leant in near to Vesper.
“It isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that he went with her, put the shears in her hand and let her do his dirty work is it?”
“Possible maybe but highly improbable.”
“She needs help doing virtually anything apart from the simplest tasks, sir, she  isn’t capable.”
Lazarus sighed deeply, pushed himself away from the wall then strode down the corridor back towards the interview room and Martin Tickpant. He turned, walked part way back toward his junior officer.
“Okay. I accept what you’re saying. In that case it must be him who killed them. Christ knows how we can prove that?”
That had been several hours ago. Now Vesper clutched the coffee Lazarus had given her. Lazarus had wanted to keep Martin Tickpant in a cell overnight but he had no justifiable cause and so had let husband and wife go. He wasn’t happy about that. He sipped at his coffee morosely.
“What do we do now, guv?” asked Vesper.
“Nothing. We need to have something concrete to go on and we have sweet F.A. Besides, if I’m honest, I’m not sure if it is Martin Tickpant who is guilty.”
“Who then? We don’t have anyone else in the frame. There are no other suspects?”
“There’s the other residents.”
“What the sexual deviants?”
“Yes, them, I still think there is something I am missing. You dismissed the Brethren business, those other killings, but you were wrong. I am convinced that somehow that case and this are connected.”
Vesper couldn’t help but show her annoyance. She didn’t like making mistakes, especially ones that may have caused the death of a colleague.
“I said sorry before about getting it wrong, guv, I can’t keep on apologising. Hasn’t Hilary Leatherbarrow got any evidence for you?”
“She’s had issues of her own to contend with. Having her lab burnt down being one, the other her housekeeper being injured in the blaze. I take your point about the Brethren though. Now I need you to look again at all the facts.”
“Where are you going?” asked Vesper.
“I am going to talk with Doctor Leatherbarrow and see if she’s okay. Will you be alright on your own?”
“I spent three years in the military in Special Forces. I was trained to work on my own as much as in teams. I’ll be fine.”
Lazarus stopped to pick up his comwand. Upon hearing Vesper he looked back at her with a frown creasing his forehead.
“Don’t work too late,” chided Lazarus as he left
The kiss had come unexpectedly. Hilary and Debbie had been looking at the records that Adam kept. There were extensive notes of all the cases he had been involved in. There was also a host of cases he had never worked on but ones that remained unsolved.
Over the course of the last week, what with Mrs MacCrumpet still in recovery and the way Debbie had rallied round to help Hilary, the two of them had become close. It now was quite common for Adam, Hilary and Debbie, when Miles was busy, to spend an evening together. It was at first strange but the intimacy that all three shared now seemed perfectly natural.
Hilary had continued using the basement for her painting but also, on the insistence of Miles and only as an interim measure, she had been doing some minor forensic work out of there.
Her intention was, once the insurance money came through, to have a state of the art workplace built specifically for her. The old one had been good but she wanted something better. The basement was at best okay but did not afford easy access and besides having corpses in a house was not only an unpleasant thought, it was illegal.
So Hilary continued to use the lower floor for her paintings. There were many down there now leant against the walls.
Hilary had finished her latest piece and had gone up to Adam’s room. Debbie was in there rifling through some case notes.
It was as Hilary stretched up to take hold of a file that caught her eye that Debbie had done the same. Their hands had touched fleetingly and as they did they both felt a sudden shock like a current of electricity course through them.
Hilary had looked at Debbie and, as she had, the dark haired police woman had leant close and kissed her. It had been as unexpected as it was spontaneous. They had embraced then kissed again. Hilary felt her head filled with a conflict of emotions but she followed Debbie, who had taken hold of her hand, to the bedroom.
    She undid the final button on the blouse and let it fall to the floor, then watched as Hilary’s breasts rose and fell as her breathing became heavy. Hilary’s breasts were larger than her own but not overly so. They were still firm and had lost none of their shape. She saw the nipples, pale compared to her own, pink and hard and longing to be caressed, longing for the tug of clenched teeth or the tender twist of thumb and forefinger. Less long than her own but alert and erect. Hilary’s stomach was an undulating curve that led down to her waist, slightly fuller, fleshier than her own and bordered by a skirt. Debbie undid Hilary's skirt and watched it slide onto the floor. She took in the curve of the hips that gently pushed out against the ample skin. She then slid her fingers into Hilary's underwear and peeled it from her skin. Debbie saw the dark triangle of pubic hair that lay above Hilary's vagina. Debbie imagined its perfume and its folds of darker pink skin that kept hidden her inner sex the bud of her clitoris.
After their passion had been fulfilled and they had slept the pleasant sleep of the exhausted, they had awoken with ravenous rumblings in their stomachs. Still naked and holding each other’s hands they had wandered from the Adam’s room into the kitchen. Aware of their nudity, Hilary had pulled drawn the curtains to prevent the world outside the dimpled glass from gazing in.
They had gone through the cupboards, giggling like schoolgirls, dismissing the foodstuffs that they saw. Finally they had come across and settled on the remains of a large fruitcake which Debbie had sliced into two large chunks.
    They had sat cross-legged on the cold tile floor and had hissed in protest as the chill pinched their pale behinds, then they had set to laughing again at the sheer burlesque quality of their situation.
    They sat in front of each other with two large slices of fruit cake which they both consumed with an almost animal voracity. Crumbs tumbling down between their breasts then falling like autumn leaves into their laps. They laughed all the time, lost in the narcotic-like atmosphere of the moment, high on lust and love and somehow totally liberated by their recent act.
   Debbie, through a mouthful of cake, rose to her feet saying, "I need a drink to wash this cake down with. Where will I find some milk?"
    Hilary watched her rise and noted again how small she was; how small and yet so perfectly formed. Tight buttocks, almost boy-like, that flowed down into sculptured thighs and calves. Her ankles were exquisite and Hilary felt her sleeping desire crawl its way back into her crutch at the thought of planting kisses on those divinely chiselled bones. Kissing and licking from ankle to knee from thigh to the moist heart of her lover’s being.
    "There should be a jug of milk in the cupboard directly above your head."
    Hilary too now rose and walked over on silent toes to Debbie's side. Debbie had already found the jug and was pouring milk into two chunky tumblers. She passed one to Hilary and guzzled from her own glass. Hilary watched her, fascinated by this impetuous woman/child who always seemed to act on instinct and intuition. She watched her drink the milk and observed as the residue slid from her mouth and down her chin. She no longer cared much less thought, about this, her first lesbian encounter she just followed her instinct.
Rivulets of milk trailed down her chin and dribbled down her neck falling in drips onto her collarbone. They both giggled again and Hilary passed a tea towel to Debbie for her to wipe her mouth on whilst she, Hilary, took a gentle sip from her own glass.
    Debbie had seen something in the cupboard that had taken her interest and she stretched up to collect it. Her breast flattened in the attempt and Hilary noticed again how pert and shapely her sweet bosoms were and how dark those delicious nipples; dark brown and pointed.
    "A tin of golden syrup, look there is a tin of golden syrup."
    Hilary smiled. "Yes, I have a passion for sponge pudding. A passion that ruins my figure but I find it irresistible.  Adam got it for me when I moved in. Why, would you like some?"
    "Yes. Yes I would. Do you have a pastry brush?" asked Debbie, puzzling Hilary with the oddness of the query.
    "Middle drawer. You will find all manner of kitchen utensils in there, why?"
    Debbie ignored her friend and fussed around inside the draw until she found three pastry brushes; one new and two a little used.
    She gave one to Hilary and dipped the other into the tin of golden syrup.
    "I beg your pardon?"
     Debbie repeated her demand.
     "Pout, as though you were about to apply lipstick."
     Hilary did as requested pushing her lips out into a dry kiss. Debbie brushed syrup onto Hilary’s lips coating them with the golden liquid and then she kissed her, their lips gluing together in a sticky, tacky osculation. The sensation was odd but also sensual, leaving Hilary feeling highly aroused..
    Debbie licked the syrup off her own lips and then, by using her mouth gently and seductively she sucked the residue of the sugary substance off her lover’s lips. With slow nibbles her mouth nuzzled Hilary’s lips, drawing them into her mouth and then moving down and over them.
    "Now stick your tongue out, as far as it will go, like a dog panting."
    Hilary again did as commanded and pushed her tongue hard out from her mouth.
    Debbie poured the syrup onto Hilary's tongue coating it with a thick layer and then, placing the tin and the brush by her naked feet she took Hilary's mouth into her own and sucked upon it. She embraced Hilary's body wrapping one leg around and behind Hilary’s legs whilst her hand caressed the back of Hilary's neck.
    She sucked on Hilary's tongue until all traces of syrup were gone. She felt herself grow damp with ardour as she placed her hand onto Hilary's vulva then ran her fingers over the velvet bed of pubic hair onto her labia..
    "Now it’s your turn."
    Hilary picked up the tin and the brush and dipped the one into the other. Then she brush-stroked the amber fluid onto Debbie’s dark and pointed nipple, turning it a sticky, honey colour, The nipple stood long and tall, a monument to lust and longing. She continued to paint a journey of descent across Debbie's belly and over her sable mink and musky mound.
    "Lay down my sweet and open your thighs wide for me."
    Debbie's breathing came deep and heavy as if her heart and mind had flown to somewhere deeply exotic and faraway. She complied, lying herself down onto the cold tiles of the floor and parting her legs, revealing her warm self.
    Hilary's brush strokes fell with slow sensuous grace as tactile horse hair flowed over Debbie's deeply flushed and darkly pink labia coating her in an amber gloss. Firstly she painted one of the lips and then the other and, as Debbie's breathing started to come in ever shallower gasps, she painted her clitoral hood and watched as her vagina opened to her revealing its vibrant glory. The brush, oh so painfully and slowly, moved down and away from the centre of Debbie's arousal and down to her sensitive perineum and then onto her puckered anus. The anus twitched involuntarily and Debbie released an audible "Oh."
    Over and around then back to repeat the motion onto Debbie's inflamed clitoris. Debbie bit hard into the back of her hand and her eyes screwed shut in deep pleasure. Slow strokes, long strokes. Delicate and exquisite almost playful strokes ran across her, inflaming her passions and opening her pink cleft.
    Debbie felt her climax grow and as she felt herself about to explode into an unrestrained orgasm Hilary’s mouth attached itself to her, devouring her; lips, tongue and teeth eating at her, lapping and gobbling each sweet centimetre of her womanhood. Debbie felt heaven’s doors open in a flood of potent feeling.
    Hilary followed the sticky trail up from Debbie's crutch and over her dark skinned belly with her mouth attaching itself to her long nipple. She sucked and tongue stroked her areola. Then she covered Debbie's exposed throat with kisses and bites. Their lips met and their tongues busied themselves within each other’s’ mouths. Then Hilary lifted herself up and over Debbie's body and lowered her wanton longing onto Debbie's tongue.
    It was night when much later they had finished with each other, passion spent they left the kitchen to be tidied up in the morning and so retired to bed. This was how Adam found them when he came home from work. Miles was out and the house was in darkness.
At first he felt a tremor of jealousy tickle his heart then, seeing them both naked and wrapped in each other’s arms he felt himself grow aroused. He didn’t let this sensation rule his emotions but quietly turned to walk away. As he did Debbie spoke.
“Don’t go. Please stay. It’s a big bed, big enough for all three of us.”
He turned then saw both Debbie and Hilary looking at him. Debbie’s hair was a mess, matted where the syrup had collected which made her look all the more seductive. Did Hilary look a little guilty? Did she feel concerned that he might not be happy with this state of affairs? He thought perhaps she did but then she extended her hand to him. He took it, squeezed it as much to say it was okay, to assure her as to say I love you. He then undressed and climbed in between them both.

They didn’t make love then. All three of them were tired so they slept until early morning. Hilary dreamed though and her dreams were of that first moment with Debbie when all that had been was suddenly and quite wonderfully turned upon its head.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Me and Squid at the Movies - "Beauty and the Beast"

Quite why Squidy calls me Father Jenkins I have yet to fully fathom. That she does is both a joy and a mystery. It also causes one or two odd looks from passers by. For instance,  when we are shopping in Waterstone's or HMV, she calls out to me, 'Father Jenkins, look at this!' a half dozen heads or so all turn in my direction expecting to see, or so I suspect, the local priest standing frozen to the spot, either that or some upper-class person dressed in tweeds. What they see is me,  a peasant of the first water unfit for papal duties and as unlikely a candidate for upper anything let alone class.

As long as Squid gets to eat regularly, this includes lunch, tea and a little smackeral of something - Nandos is a favourite haunt - she is as happy as a pig in poo. Today supplied all of that, well, not so much they day as me, but also a visit to the cinema to see "Beauty and the Beast."

It has to be said that this has long been a favourite Disney film of mine and at least two of my children. We used to drag a large duvet down the stairs to our living room, pull on some P.J's, grab a bucket full of sweets along with a generous supply of Coca-Cola, wrap our collective selves up in aforementioned duvet and slip the cassette, (this was back in the 90's so long before DVD's) and watch whatever Disney movie we had recently purchased. We also did it with the 'Harry Potter' franchise and 'Pirates of the Carribean.'  Wonderful memories.

So, our approach to this latest Disney offering was one of reserved welcome. Would Disney had tried to re-invent their previous production of would they, much as they did with 'The Jungle Book,' stick largely to the original's format. Much to our joy the 2017 interpretation steadfastly remains true to the 1991 version.

Squid seems to think some of the songs are new but I thought they all were the same including the delightful title track. Okay, there is no Anglea Lansbury but hey, Emma Thompson does an incredible job as Mrs Potts with her colourful cockneyesque accent.

Seeing Emma Watson, now an attractive woman was surprise enough, bearing in mind the last film I saw her in was the final 'Harry Potter.'  Here we have a woman rather than a girl and one who has a voice. This girl can sing!

The film is a faithful recreation of a classic animation. There is probably too much CGI in modern films but here the craft comes into its own. The songs sound as good now as they did then. The unchanged story has lost none of its magic. Luke Evans portrayal of Gaston keeps the unwholesome, if amusing at times, vanity, nay the sheer unadulterated self-love of the man, bubbling away with comic tension.

it was and still is a musical of the highest order. It really is hard to find any fault with it.

Yeah, me and Squid loved it. Squid gives it five stars.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The Return of Miracleman?

We can but hope.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Village Tales of Fekenham Swarberry - Book 4 and a bit - Hand In Glove (Chapter 20)


Morning in Fekenham, thought Lazarus as he drove his car into the village, had a certain quality that mornings in Winchester somehow didn’t. The light was crisper; the air sweeter; the pace of life slower and there was a feeling of working to live rather than living to work. It was a far gentler way and as far removed from town or city life as could be imagined.
He had seen again, when on the outskirts, Ethel Blowvalve driving her pig drawn carriage. Both pig and driver looked to have put on weight. The gig had been re-built and looked far sturdier than the last model. It had also been painted in garish colours so that now it resembled a gypsy caravan or a canal narrow boat. He had waved at Ethel as he passed her but she obviously had either not seen or hadn’t recognised him. She had not returned his greeting. Ethel’s failure to respond didn’t bother Lazarus. All the villagers, as welcoming as they were once they knew you, were suspicious of anyone they were unfamiliar with.
Adam now pulled up outside the first of two communal meeting places: Molly Sharptack’s Tea Rooms. It was a shop much loved by the locals but also by visitors. During the summer season the old shop was to be found bursting at the edges with tourists. The other place was Arthur Bentwhistle’s ‘Frog and Radiator,’ a public house that was the embodiment of Fekenham. Adam did not feel inclined to visit the pub first hoping that a cake and a coffee might negate the need for a pie and a pint of which he had no appetite for at this hour. And besides, the pub wouldn’t open for another two. With luck he would find the person he needed to talk to before then, the one person who might be able to shed some light on Martin Tickpants extra marital affairs.
As Lazarus left and locked his car so an off duty Cyril Updike, along with wife Cybil came along pushing a baby perambulator. Cybil had her arm hooked through Cyril’s. Cyril was pushing the carriage. For such a tall man he looked a little incongruous. The couple smiled when they saw Adam Lazarus.
“Mornin’ Sir,” said Cyril.
“Hello Inspector Lazarus,” said Cybil.
“What a picture,” laughed the policeman, “The perfect image of family life. It suits you both. You Cybil, if I may be so bold, look ravishing but you Cyril don’t!”
All three of them chuckled.
“It must be all the attention your sergeant keeps giving me. I know it won’t last!”
Lazarus smiled. “Grab it while you can then is my motto.”
Cyril looked down at his son who was sleeping soundly. Then he turned his eyes to Lazarus.
“What are you doing here sir? It’s a bit out of your way.”
“The ‘Hand In Glove’ case has been solved but there are still one or two loose ends to tie up. I’m here to speak with, or if memory serves me well, listen to. Millie Meade. You haven’t seen her have you”
“You’re in luck,” said Cybil pointing at the tea room window. “She’s just taken a seat in Molly’s”
Lazarus grinned. “I’ll be damned, so she has. Best be on my way then. You three take care.”
They said their goodbye’s before going their separate ways. Cybil, Cyril and baby Jonah back to the post office and Adam into the tea rooms.
Although not as busy as when in high season the team rooms still bustled with activity. Many of the people Lazarus saw were those he had briefly met months ago. Their names he had forgotten but their faces remained firmly fixed within his mind. At a table in the corner sitting with two other women was Millie Meade. She had the appearance of a cotton bud. Her ball of frizzy hair sat privet like upon her thin, long face which flowed down her thin, long neck and into her thin, long body.
Upon seeing the police detective’s approach she let out a loud exclamation of surprise.
“What’s he done, my Bert that is?”
The two women with her turned to stare at Lazarus who smiled at them.
“As far as I know, nothing, it’s you I wanted to speak to. Do you have a minute?”
Millie’s face blanched. The tea cup rattled upon the saucer as she held it in her trembling hand.
“I suppose so.”
Seeing that the situation seemed serious, Millie’s two friends got up and walked to another table saying they would leave Millie and the policeman alone to discuss whatever it was they had to talk about.
Millie looked slightly abashed by the thought of having to talk to Lazarus. She, much like many people, had an overriding sense of guilt even though in this case she was guiltless. She desperately tried to remain calm.
“Would you like some tea?” she asked flashing her yellowing teeth.
“That would be nice,” responded Lazarus. “I tell you what, let me pay for this. What about a slice of cake. I fancy a Bakewell Tart. How about you?”
Still flustered Millie said “Angel Cake if’n you please, sir,” She instantly regretted sounding subservient but licked her lips at the thought of some cake.
Lazarus motioned to a waitress who smartly crossed over and took their order. Millie looked at Lazarus expectantly. Her face was flushed. She looked like a naughty school girl. Lazarus thought it best to allay any fears she might have.
“I wanted to speak with you as you are probably the only person I know who can help.”
“But I don’t know nothing.”
Lazarus smiled. “You Millie are the sort of person the police force could do with. You are vigilant, inquisitive, intelligent and with a mind like a computer.”
Millie did a sort of shuffle in her seat in the way a chicken or a pigeon might when they plump themselves up.
“How can I help?” Millie asked as the waitress returned carrying a tray with two portions of cake upon it. She seemed to have become suddenly coquettish. Her eyelids fluttered their pale, gingery hairs.
“Martin Tickpant had an affair some years back, didn’t he? Do you know who with? Do you know when?”
Suddenly filled with a sense of her own self-importance Millie’s ego sent a message to her brain triggering the release of high octane fuel to her tongue. It was a rich infusion. She started speaking rapidly, her mouth motoring down hearsay highway.
“Martin Tickpant started comin’ t’ the village as a teenager, He used t’ cycle over here on the lookout for girls. He was a nice enough lad, or so I’m told as I was only young meself back then. He’s a tad older than me, see? When I was about thirteen I used to see him making eyes at Hilda Hemlock, mind you she were older than him by three year. He also took a fancy to Ivy, Ivy Rankwortle that is but she was already going steady. Then, just as he turned eighteen, this would have been about 1968, he started courting that simple soul Alice. I can’t rightly remember her surname now.
“Most folks, my parents for sure, thought it all a bit suspect but then again there ain’t naught as queer as folk. I mean take the Merryfeather Sister’s, they not related at all.”
Seeing the diatribe was heading down a cul-de-sac, Lazarus interrupted.
“Fascinating Millie, really fascinating but tell me more about Martin Tickpant. You said on the local TV news that he had an affair with Dame Fatleaf and they had an illegitimate son.”
Millie looked furious. She always did when someone misquoted the gossip she had so generously supplied.
“No I never said that. That silly beggar ‘snipped and stuck,’ or whatever the expression is, what I said to fit neatly into his broadcast. I never said Martin and Dame Fatleaf had an affair, if they did I didn’t know about it. What I did say was this: Jean Grimstain and Martin Tickpant had a fling. It was Jean’s boy that Martin fathered.”
Lazarus stroked his chin thoughtfully.
“Is there anyone else you know who might be able to verify this?”
Millie Meade laughed revealing a crooked set of teeth.
“Try Arthur Bentwhistle. He used t’ spend time with the pair of them.”
The information given by Millie Meade had been of enormous value. The Fekenham gossip had confirmed that Martin Tickpant had fathered Sam Grimstain. This now proved a motive, or at least the possibility of one. If Agatha Nosebag had known this fact and Lazarus suspected she did and if she had been blackmailing Martin Tickpant to prevent her revealing the truth then the motive to kill the hamlet’s nosey neighbour was obvious.
The same motive could also be applied to Jean Grimstain who for years had kept her sons fathers name secret but who had then, finding herself in desperate needs of money, threatened to reveal all if Martin Tickpant didn’t increase the money he gave her.
Martin Tickpant was now the prime suspect. He had motive, means and ability to perform the gruesome deed of thrusting garden shears through the victim’s mouths. He was certainly strong enough.
At this stage Millie Meade’s evidence needed corroboration. To this end there was another Fekenham villager Lazarus needed to interview; Arthur Bentwhistle. Lazarus had met the man before and although suspected he was a bit of a rogue he liked him.
Parking his car outside the Frog and Radiator he walked to see Arthur and his wife Lupini working behind the bar.
At this time of day the pub was quiet. As the day progressed so business would pick up. Adam strode up to where Lupini, an attractive woman with dark hair, streaked with grey greeted him.
“Inspector, what can I get you?”
“I’ll have a larger-shandy please.”
.“Pint or half?”
“Half please Mrs Bentwhistle.”
“Lupini, please.”
“Lupini it is.”
Lupini poured the drink with expertise then passed it over to Lazarus.
“What do I owe you Lupini?”
“It’s on the house.”
Lazarus grinned from ear to ear.
“Why thank, that’s very kind of you.”
Turning to Arthur he asked if he would join him as he was investigating a murder at Birchtickle.
“I thought you’d nicked old Harry?” said the trombone-voiced publican.
“I have but that was a different case. I have another and I think you might be able to help me. Can you spare a minute or two?”
“Course I can. You’ll be okay if’n me ‘n the inspector have a chat won’t you Lupini.”
Lupini nodded smiling at Lazarus as she did.
“Go on then. I’ll shout if I need you.”
The two men crossed into the snug where they say down opposite each other. Lazarus began the conversation.
“What do you know about Martin Tickpant’s relationship with Jean Grimstain. I’ve been reliably told they had an affair and that Jean bore Martin a son.”
Arthur let out a huge sigh then shook his head.
“I’ve lived in this village all me born days and I still marvel at that woman’s tongue. Millie never did know how t’ keep a secret. Yes, I knew Martin, if only briefly. I couldn’t tell you if young Sam is Martin’s bastard though.”
Lazarus took a swig at his drink.
“How did you get to meet? It seems strange that you should socialise with a couple?”
Arthur made a curious noise with his mouth, a sort of cross between clucking and sucking then he lowered his voice.
“I ‘aven’t always been the pillar of good virtue you now see seated afore you. I once had an affair, many years ago now, with a girl called Candice Barr. She and I used to meet up with Martin and Jean and go out together.”
Lazarus ran his fingers through his hair then looked at the table as he traced a circle on its surface.
“Just the two of you, no others?”
“Yes, there was another couple: Mavis Mufftickle and Harry Hertlasp. They were an item at the time. Harry broke it off and Mavis’s heart with it. Now if’n you want confirmation ‘n not gossip that Sam Grimstain is indeed Martin’s son then the man who surely could tell you is old Harry himself.”
Lazarus poured the remains of the shandy down his throat, stood up, shook Arthur’s hand and thanked him.
“Our conversation was in strictest confidence right?” asked Arthur with a wink.
Lazarus smiled. “You have my word.”
Lazarus didn’t like visiting prisons, sometimes though it was inevitable especially when cases involving previously convicted criminals came to light. Such was the situation with Harry Hertlasp.
Lazarus needed confirmation that Martin Tickpant had indeed fathered Jean’s son Sam. Lazarus had put a call into the prison requesting he be allowed to interview one of the inmates who he knew could help with a murder investigation.
Harry sat waiting as Adam entered the room.
“Hello, Harry.”
“How’s prison life treating you?”
“The mundane day to day existence is tolerable even if many of my fellow inmates aren’t.”
“If you are having trouble with anyone in here let the warden know.”
Harry shook his head vigorously.
“I’m not. I just find some of them unpleasant people to be around.”
“That, sadly, is the nature of prisons.”
Harry tapped his fingers on the table. Then he sat back and blew heavily. Lazarus thought he had suddenly gone very pale.
“Harry, are you alright?”
“Yes, got a bit of indigestion.”
Lazarus frowned then continued with his questions.
“You and Mavis Mufftickle used to socialise with Arthur Bentwhistle, Candice Barr but also martin Tickpant and Jean Grimstain.”
“That’s right," said Hertlasp now sweating profusely.
“So you would know if Jean’s son Sam is Martin’s?”
Hertlasp seemed to be having trouble concentrating.
“I have no idea. I heard the rumours but I really don’t know.”
Harry clutched at his arm and moaned. Lazarus thought he knew what was happening.
“Harry, are you okay, do you need a doctor?”
“Feel odd, pains in my arm and chest. It’s like bad indigestion.”
Lazarus watched the rapid decline of what had seemed a perfectly healthy man into one sweating profusely and complaining of pains. Recognising, or thinking he did, the symptoms of a heart attack, Lazarus sprang to his feet calling for the guard.
“Call an ambulance, quick. This man is having a coronary.”
Within minutes the prison doctor was beside Harry Hertlasp.
“Ambulance is on its way. I have administered a drug that should help until the boys get him into hospital.”
“A drug?” said Lazarus.
“I have ‘Thrombolysised’ him. That is to say injected him with a thrombolytic drug used for myocardial infarction. It reduces any clotting there might be.”
Lazarus nodded.
“It was all so sudden. One minute he was talking to and the next gripping his arm in pain. May I speak with him?”
“Make it brief. He’s in no fit state for lengthy conversations.”
Lazarus moved to where Harry lay. Looking down at the man Lazarus saw he had the aspect of a grey corpse. His face was drawn, his skin colour ashen and his eyes sunken. He looked like a man close to death. Lazarus leant in close.
“Harry, I’m sorry to have to ask you at a time like this but it is imperative I find out who killed Agatha and Jean. Who else could confirm if Sam is Martin’s son?”
Hertlasp looked as though whatever drug he had been given had made him woozy. When the name arrived it came from a voice that struggled to speak.
“Mavis knows, Mavis Mufftickle.”
Mavis had not been expecting a call from a policeman. She of course knew of Adam Lazarus having met him when Sally and Billy had been kidnapped. He was just an inspector then but that of course was before his promotion. Chief Inspector Adam Lazarus stood in front of her now hands in pockets, his blonde hair flapping in the breeze. He was a good looking man thought Mavis chastising herself almost as soon as the notion arrived. He’s far too young for you.
“Chief Inspector, how nice to see you again, what can I do for you?”
She had no idea why he had knocked but she was glad he had. He took one hand out of his pocket then ran it through his hair. He had the look of someone going about official business.
“I wondered if I might come in, there are some questions I need answering and you might be able to help me?”
Mavis frowned. She did not like the sound of having to answer questions for it immediately made her feel guilty even though she had nothing to be guilty about. She gave a hesitant smile but beckoned Lazarus in.
He followed her to her living room where a fire had burnt low.
“I feel the cold,” she said amiably. “I always, no matter what time of year, have a fire on. It’s not too hot for you in here is it?”
Lazarus removed his raincoat, folded it then placed it on his lap as he sat down.
“Not at all,” he replied. “My mother is just the same.”
Mavis didn’t like to be thought of as being of a similar age to the policeman’s mother but smiled indulgently.
“You said you had some questions for me. It all sounds rather ominous.”
Lazarus smiled taking in the greying hairs of the woman, her neck that had the signs of sagging, her face, square with thinning lips, lined but not unpleasant. He could easily see why Harry Hertlasp had fallen for her. She must have been quite pretty in her day.
“I understand you were friends with Martin Tickpant and Jean Grimstain?”
The change in Mavis was instant. Her gracious smile went replaced by a tight mouthed line that forced words to gemmy themselves out in clipped fashion.
“Yes, that is correct.”
“Could you tell me about that relationship?”
“Do I have too?”
“No, you don’t but you should be aware that I am conducting a murder enquiry and your knowledge of the couple is germane to my investigations.”
A flicker of hidden thoughts flashed across Mavis’s face. She obviously was uncomfortable with being asked these questions but at the same time did not want to be perceived as being awkward or of holding something back. She took a deep breath then answered Lazarus in a staccato voice.
“I had a relationship with Harry Hertlasp who I know you have recently arrested,” at this point, she looked up at Lazarus to see if her point had registered. It had.
“News travels fast in Fekenham inspector especially when aided by Millie Meade.”
Lazarus indicated that he understood.
“During this time both he and I saw a lot of Jean and Martin. They became friends of ours. We shared many good times together.”
“How or why did the friendship end?” asked Lazarus.
“It didn’t really. What ended was my relationship with Harry. Once we stopped seeing each other there was no longer any reason for seeing Jean or Martin.”
“I see,” said Lazarus, sensing Mavis’s desire to say little or nothing about her affair with Harry. “I really don’t need to talk about you and Harry. It is none of my business nor is it relevant to this enquiry. What I do need to know and what is of vital importance is this: is Martin Tickpant Sam Grimstain’s father?”
For a moment Lazarus thought Mavis Mufftickle had either not heard him or was refusing to answer him. He was about to ask the question again when she, if not a little reluctantly, responded.
“Yes, Martin is Sam’s father.”
Having concluded his interviews Lazarus made his way back to the office. A catch-up meeting with Superintendent Pearight was long overdue. The fact his senior office had called him twice already only for Lazarus to decline using workload as an excuse no longer held water. It was rare for his boss to sound anything but calm and relaxed but the last call had been edgy. Pearight wanted to know what was going on; to be kept abreast of events. Lazarus had neglected to do that and the old man was fuming.
“Come in Inspector,” said Pearight in a clipped tone.
Lazarus strode in trying to look unconcerned. He knew by the way he was not invited to sit that this was to be a formal exchange.
“The last time we spoke during the only de-briefing we had, things seemed to be under some sort of control. Since then bodies are mounting, murders increasing and my superiors are, not to put too fine a point on it, kicking my arse. I need results Lazarus and I need them now but more importantly I must be kept up-to-date. I now understand we have had a colleague murdered. What are you doing about it and why was I not informed?”
Lazarus had no excuses to offer so apologised. He then explained why he had been so uncommunicative and what had been occurring. By the time he finished Pearight was wiping his brow with a handkerchief.
“What a god awful mess. Two dead from this Hertlasp chap, old news, of course, cold case stuff really, then the two women in Birchtickle horrendously murdered, all these other assassinations. What makes you think they are connected? I am damned if I can see any link.”
Lazarus shuffled on his feet. Pearight indicated he should sit. The ticking-off was obviously over.
“I don’t know sir. I have no proof of course but something, some gut instinct tells me they are related somehow.”
The Superintendent smoothed his moustache frowning all the while.
“I am not one for gut feelings. I prefer to have facts, something substantial to work with. You will need to interview the remaining families of course, the couples that seem to enjoy such perverse pleasure seeking pastimes. If I were a man of instinct then they would be right in the frame.”
“I agree sir. I’ll get right onto it.”
Pearight coughed. It sounded contrived as though he were somehow embarrassed by what he had to say.
“I said before Adam, you are a fine detective. You may work in a different way to me but you get results. I understand that you and that doctor we hire, that forensic pathologist, are somewhat of an item. None of my business of course but be careful there won’t you? I also heard from a little bird that Sergeant Sundae is back. Did you know she has requested returning to Winchester CID? Anyway, in future keep me in the picture. Now off you go and have a good evening”
Miles greeted Adam as he walked into the house. Debbie’s brother noticed a certain self-satisfied about the detective’s manner. It was as though he had either a very good day or discovered something, some vital clue to a case, that made him seem alert, assured and confident.
Lazarus smiled at the man he considered not only his best friend but also his confidante. Miles smiled back.
“You look like the cat who found not only the cream but also a fresh fish on a golden platter.” quipped Miles.
“I don’t think cats care for gold plates.” replied Adam grinning.
Miles nodded his head knowingly. “I take it you have had a rewarding day?”
“Very. I had a bit of a bollocking from the old man but he soon forgave me. I think I might have found the link I have been looking for. I am sure I know who did what and why.”
“I detect a ‘but’,” queried the crippled athlete.
Lazarus knew he was unable to hide anything from his friend. The only other person who knew him as well was Debbie, Miles sister. Even though Lazarus was falling in love with Hilary they, as a partnership, hadn’t yet forged the link that only time could make.
“Where’s Hilary?” asked Adam ignoring Miles question.
“In the basement painting.”
“Painting?” asked an astonished Lazarus.
“Yes, not decorating but painting. You know, slapping oil onto a canvas.”
Adam stared back blankly at the former Olympic athlete. “I had no idea she painted.”
“Well, she does and is rather good at it too, or so I am told. She’s been at it all day. Debbie didn’t like to intrude but when she heard Hilary was down there went and spoke with her. Apparently she has taken the arson attack rather badly; especially how her housekeeper has been injured and in an attempt to come to terms went out early, bought what she needed then headed down stairs to paint. Debbie is really impressed.”
Adam felt bemused by the whole thing and told Miles so.
“They’ve met then?”
“You didn’t think they wouldn’t did you? You can’t invite someone, your lover in this case, into a home you share with your ex and her brother and not expect them to bump into each other.”
“I suppose not. I had rather hoped I could have introduced them.”
“That would have been both clumsy and embarrassing. Far better this way. As far as I gather they got on like a house on fire.”
Lazarus laughed loudly.
“In view of recent events that is possibly not a good metaphor.”
Miles blanched then apologised.
“Where are they now?” asked Lazarus.
“Debbie’s went out to visit an old friend and Hilary’s still downstairs. I have put the oven on and dinner will be ready in about thirty minutes. Debbie should be back by then. There is plenty enough for all four of us. It might be a good thing to invite Hilary to dine with us. We don’t want her mopping about do we?  It won’t do either her or us any good at all.”
Lazarus left Miles to his culinary chores then made his way down stairs to the basement. It was a large room converted into a workspace that was lit by a series of fluorescent lights. The walls were painted cream. It was utilitarian but perfect for Hilary’s purposes.
Hilary stood, dressed in an old pair of jeans with a paint-splattered T-shirt. Her feet were bare and, much to his surprise and delight she patently wasn’t wearing a bra.
“Hi, Hilary, how’s your day been?”
Hearing his voice she stopped what she had been doing which seemed to Lazarus nothing more than throwing drops of paint from the end of a brush onto an already painted canvas. The effect was good. Lazarus knew little of art but this reminded him of Jackson Pollock.
Hilary smiled at him, wrapped the brush into a cloth then walked over and kissed him lightly on the cheek.
“I’m okay now. Painting helps. It allows me to clear my mind. I’d like to visit Mrs MacCrumpet tonight if that’s alright with you. Will you come with me?”
“Of course I will. I like what you’ve done. I had no idea you painted.”
“It’s a release. When you spend your days cutting up dead bodies you need somewhere else to go to refresh spirit and soul. Painting does that for me.”
Together they walked over to the large canvas that Hilary had been working on. Lazarus looked at it taking in the detail, the way larger spots of paint and formed little tails that criss-crossed with other similar blobs and splashes of different colours and shapes.
“It’s all a bit abstract isn’t it?” he said. “Does it mean anything to you?”
“Perhaps. I’m not sure. I think the feelings I have when I paint somehow transfer to the shapes and colours. Maybe it reflects my moods. I don’t know.”
“I like it, I like it very much but then again I am all at sea when it comes to art,” said Lazarus his hand upon Hilary’s shoulder. Feeling the warmth of his hand she shifted her weight so that her body leant into his his.
“I don’t think you need to think about art. You should just feel it. If it appeals to you, if it connects at some level then it has done its job.”
Lazarus laughed softly/ “Oh it appeals to me but not half so much as you appeal to me right now.”
Hilary half turned smiling up at Adam. “Is that so?” she sighed.
She felt him touch her, his hand brushing her face, his thumb tracing the circled O of her mouth before it silently slipped away from her parted lips and onto her throat, caressing her neck with his firm fingers so that she felt a sudden thrill of electricity spark through her.
His kisses were soft as she parted her lips as he would later part her legs. It was a tender passion that made her shudder with delight. Their mouths met and she felt him nibble then gently suck upon her lips before he pushed his tongue against hers.
He ran his hand up her T-shirt cupping her breast with his strong hand. The same thumb that had brushed against her mouth now massaged her nipple making it rise firm and erect. A sigh escaped her mouth as he continued to run his fingertips down and across her stomach. He stopped at her navel then drew phantom circles around it with the slowest, softest of touches. She felt herself grow wet from desire for him.
She tried kissing him but could only manage clumsy efforts as she faced away from him. He put a finger to her mouth to silence and calm her as his other hand unzipped her jeans. Undone the denim slid down her legs as she kicked them away.
His hands were on her knees as he slowly parted her thighs. She opened herself to him like a summer flower opens to the bee. Adam stroked the inner softness of her thighs and she trembled in anticipation.
Hilary felt his mouth fall upon her sex, felt the electric shock of wanting him envelope her as his tongue lapped at her, felt the dizzying explosion of her first orgasm. Then they made love as though they were about to die, as though this was their last time together and their last moment on this earth was this one.
He was the moon and she the tide that dragged and pulled each thrust into her. With each movement she lifted her hips to greet him. Their teeth clashed as though they were feral beasts caught in a carnal embrace. She climaxed again. This time it felt as though the sun had fallen from the sky to burn its glory within her loins.
They fell apart panting. Both of them were covered in a soft sheen of sweat. Miles’ voice calling them for dinner broke the spell. Rising up quickly at the sound of footsteps, pulling her jeans back on as she did Hilary turned to Adam.
“I’d better go and have a quick shower. I can’t sit down to eat looking like this.”
Debbie entered the basement and overheard Hilary. She didn’t see Adam zipping up his flies or if she did she made no comment.
“Don’t be daft. You look fine. We don’t stand on ceremony here. Come on up, dinners ready.”
Adam took hold of Hilary’s hand. “Best do as we are told. Miles gets a bit precious about his cuisine.”
Later, when alone, they would make love again without the fear or thrill of discovery.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.