Archive for January 2nd, 2008

Spence in Petal Park by Michael Allen

January 2, 2008

This is the first of Michael Allen’s Mystery/Crime stories we have read. After reading Colin Forbes book “Blood Storm” Allen’s book was sheer delight. Murder, blackmail, seduction build up an intriguing crime for Det. Sup. Spence to solve. There are plenty of suspects, after all, the victim is a rich young man with a shady life-style. He’s involved in dubious business practices and has too much interest in the pupils at the local private school for girls. Love and hate for the dead man, are woven into an intriguing picture of how the victim lived before meeting his brutal death.All the characters are believable and not OTT, which is what I like. Any of the suspects had good reason to kill the man but I have to admit, I failed to guess the culprit.My husband’s comment,  “A good mystery, and reads well.” As an afterthought, he added, “In a few places, repetition of names within paragraphs was annoying.” (You notice this more when reading aloud.)Well, we are both looking forward to another Spence novel by Michael Allen. (And we have two more to read.)   

Short story — Sting in the Tale

January 2, 2008

A Sting In The Tale.

 

‘I’m sorry, he’s gone.’

What the hell does he mean ‘He’s gone?’

            ‘I’m right here, mate. Can’t you see me?’

            My wife is wailing. ‘Oh Tom, Tom, why have you left me?’

            ‘Shut up, woman. I haven’t left anyone. I only left my bed for a pee.’

            Can’t she hear or see me either? Damn it, I’m standing next to the bloody doctor! Wait a minute. Who is that in my hospital bed? Good heavens, he’s a pale faced impostor as dead as a doornail.

            ‘It’s okay, Judy. He’s not me. Don’t know what that devil’s doing in my bed. You can’t even go to the loo without someone leaping under your sheets and playing the fool.

            ‘Get out! Do you hear me? Get out of my bed. I was here first — find your own bloody plot to die in.’

            Wait a minute. Why are they ignoring me? Why can’t they see me?

            ‘He was an old devil but I loved him.’

            What’s that? My Judy loved that old geyser occupying my bed? Huh! Wait till I get her home. She’ll be sorry, don’t you fret.

            ‘Mrs Lincoln, there is something I need to ask you?’

            ‘I know what you are going to say, doctor. You want my husband’s body for experiments. Not much good for anything else. You take him with pleasure. Save me funeral expenses.’

            Wait a minute, who is that in my bed? I think I’m getting the bloody picture.

            ‘Hey, you lot, I might be having a bit of a wander from my body, but I’m still here, you know. Don’t you dare start chopping me up. I’ll sue the bloody lot of you. Hey, don’t wheel me off, I’ve got to get back inside before you get your knives out.’

            Hell, I sure do feel odd. Must stay with it. Must…

 

‘We pulled that off nicely.’

            ‘You’re great, Harry. Better get Mr Lincoln’s heart beating again before his condition becomes permanent.’

            ‘Syringe ready?’

            ‘Ready and waiting. Do you think they will want to see the body again before we commence operations?’

            ‘Push it in just here. What was that, Mary? Oh, I doubt it. We’ll have to knock him out again if that old biddy comes back.’

            What are they saying? Hell, I feel ill. What’s bloody going on?

            ‘How long do you think you can keep him alive, Harry? I mean, once we start rejuvenating his bits and pieces before we remove them? You’ve got that heart operation next week, but his kidneys are needed in a couple of days. His liver will have to be removed same day as his heart. At least his corneas can be frozen if there’s no call for them now. I was hoping to get his scalp. Golly what a mop of hair… make me a lovely wig.’

            What’s going on? Hell, what’s all those bottles hanging up there? They’re going to put all that lot in my arm.

            ‘Help! Help!’ They can’t bloody hear me. No noise coming out of my mouth. Hell, I can’t move either. I must be paralysed. What’s that stuff going into me? I’m bloody scared. Judy! Judy! Judy!’

            ‘Right, Mary. Stay with him while I get the instruments ready in theatre — we can take his scrotum today, I’ve a patient waiting in ward ten. I think we’d better both scrub up. We don’t want infections at this stage of the proceedings.’

            ‘Do you think he’s aware of what’s happening?’

            ‘Maybe, but can’t knock him out a second time or he’ll die on us proper. But don’t worry, Mary, he won’t feel a thing when we cut into him. Right, I’ll just have a word with Mrs Lincoln before we go any further — she’s waiting in Reception — then I’ll get ready with the scalpel.’

            ‘Help! Help! Judy, come and help me. They’re going to bloody cut me up. Where are you, you stupid cow? Get me out of here!’

 

 ‘Mrs Lincoln, you can pick your cheque up at the information desk.’

            ‘Thank you, Dr Harry. I’m getting married again next month. Usual arrangement?’

 

Short stories — Laura’s story

January 2, 2008

Laura’s story.

A healing of the heart

 

It was now the Sunday before Christmas and I still had to prepare for a funeral the following day — Christmas Eve — and organise a Christmas morning service at a daughter church. I had no idea what I was going to preach. All my church activity was mingled with domestic duties associated with the season of goodwill. To make matters worse, because of a stupid dispute with my vicar he was giving orders but refusing to discuss anything that really mattered to me. I was feeling so alone. Was it time to pack it in?

Hurrying home after a busy morning in the church, I looked up at the sky and saw a ray of sunlight pierce the dark clouds to illuminate my path by its radiance. A line from psalm 119 entered my head.

“Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

I knew that, although I felt so very alone in my ministry, I was not alone — He was with me. All would be well.

One-thirty of the following day I had a very special funeral to conduct at the local crematorium. The deceased was a lady from a residential home where I took services and offered pastoral care. It was special because I had been asked by the bereaved daughter to somehow bring her dead father into the service too. Evidently, a year previously her dad had died and the funeral, as far as the bereaved were concerned, had been a disaster. The family had not recognised the man the minister had spoken about; what’s more, strong words were said about those not keeping the faith. There had been no healing — only more grief. Although the elderly couple had been separated in their last years, they had retained their first-love. Even if there was only one body in the coffin, I was determined that the couple would come together both in the address and in the prayer-with-thanksgiving part of the service.

The following day at 7.45am, I arrived for Morning Prayer as usual. We went through the motions and then drifted off, some home for breakfast, me to the office to get on with odd jobs. The bereaved family was on my mind: I was worried I would let them down. I knew I must have faith that the Holy Spirit would be strong in my weakness, but it seemed I had been wrong about many things. Who was I to promise healing at a funeral service? Who was I to be conducting a funeral in the first place? But all others had gone so very well, wasn’t that proof of my calling to minister to others? I was well prepared, I must simply trust.

Arriving at the crematorium where all the services I had conducted had been appreciated without question, I began feeling better about myself. Soon I was robed and waiting by the door for the mourners to arrive. As the first car pulled up I walked forward to smile in greeting and warmly offer my hand. Within minutes, I was leading the flower-bedecked coffin, followed by mourners, through the open doors and into the chapel.

“Jesus said, I am the resurrection, and I am the life…”

And so, forgetting doubts and personal sorrows I assumed the role granted to me by the bishop, and in which I felt so much at home. As we went through the service, I sensed the Spirit’s presence illuminating minds and comforting sad hearts. Then came the last hymn. “Abide with me” is a deeply moving hymn and it is important not to let it drag. I took the lead and sang up; this was not the time for sadness and weeping:

“Where is death’s sting? Where grave thy victory?

I triumph still, if thou abide with me.”

We finally arrived at the Committal. Here, with the following prayers, the much-loved husband of the deceased was again included.

The organ played and I led the adults and children out. Smiles greeted me by the door. The only wet eyes were those of the daughter’s husband.

“Thank you, Mrs Smith. That was truly beautiful, all is now healed.”

 

I too had found an inner healing, an assurance that I was where God wanted me to be.