Retrieving lost items is often a matter of waiting for them to turn up, which they almost always do — almost. I sometimes think that particular objects hide on purpose. Maybe they are forcing me to not make a fool of myself, who knows?
Losing things is also a red flag for me — a kind of ‘something is wrong with the way your consciousness is working, you’d better slow down, or you are going to find yourself inside one of your stories’.
Susan’s dilemma is slightly different from mine. Her ‘loss’ was forced on her, and now she MUST find a way to retrieve her ‘lost’ possessions.
My grandfather loved books, and I think he loved me almost as much.
I know I loved him.
I can still remember the feeling of squashing down next to him in that comfortable ancient armchair.
No one sat in that chair except my grandfather. It wasn’t because we were scared of him or anything like that, it was just that it was his chair and to sit there without him in it, didn’t seem right.
I was working overseas when my grandparents died; one after the other with only days between them.
It wasn’t the kind of job that I could up and leave, so by the time I was back in the country, there wasn’t a physical sign that they had ever been here on this Earth. Their ashes had been scattered, and their house emptied and sold.
Indecent haste was how I phrased it.
“Where the fuck were you while all the work was being done?” was their reply. I guess I pissed my father off because he wouldn’t tell me what had happened to my grandparent’s furniture. It was the armchair that I was really interested in, but I guess it was landfill or in some op-shop warehouse somewhere. I hoped that it had been purchased by a house full of uni students. I could see a nineteen-year-old female English Literature student curled up with a tattered old copy of something by Somerset Maugham. Possibly, ‘The Razor’s Edge’. Yes, that would be good.
My grandfather introduced me to the delights of Enid Blyton and Robert Louis Stephenson in equal measure. He didn’t treat me like a little girl, he saw only a curious, young person who had fallen in love with the worlds that existed between the pages of a book.
He had the most beautiful husky voice, and sitting close to him was like sitting in an old dusty closet. He was warm even in winter, and I got the feeling that it was because of some kind of inner glow caused by his love of books.
He always read me books that were a bit above my understanding, and I think that was on purpose. He would smile when I asked him what a particular word meant, and he would sometimes get me to run my finger over the word as he explained its meaning.
I collect bookmarks because he did.
I give books as presents because he said it was a wise thing to do.
His heroes were authors, and mine are too.
He thought that reading was as essential as writing, and so do I.
We will meet again someday, but for now, I have to be the person he wanted me to be, and I need to find a comfortable old armchair so I can sit and read and remember.
Susan, a bereaved daughter, stumbles upon her grandmother’s journals. Stories hidden from the family of adventures, spies, a mysterious discarded toy, lost loves and revenge flash before her eyes sparking a desire to escape her ordinary life.
In a dusty attic, Susan holds her sadness in check as she attempts to organise her mother’s stored memories. Boxes of journals written by her grandmother reveal a hidden secret life lived out during the modern world’s most dangerous conflict. Time slows down as the young woman relives her ancestor’s exciting life. The quiet dismissive old lady that she knew does not fit with the vibrant idealistic young woman she reads about in these journals. The identity of the mysterious ‘Keeper Of Secrets’ is ultimately revealed and this revelation leads Susan to a decision — she is going to escape from her ‘ordinary life’ and live a secret life of her own. BOOK TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2OHQd7X_Jo
So BORIS has an official launch date, December 22nd 2018. This will be the cover for the audiobook and the middle bit is the book cover. It is available now for pre-order.
Boris lives in the KEEPER OF SECRETS universe.
Susan encounters him in the first book of the series and in SECRETS KEPT we get to know a bit more about him.
He is always there when Susan meets with ‘Backdoor Barry’, silently doing his job. Sometimes lipreading the mute old TV set, sometimes tending to his bartender duties. A quiet observer of everything that goes on at the Rising Sun Hotel.
When I finished the second book in this series, I couldn’t help wondering what was happening in Boris’ life when we were not around. Has he been a part of Barry’s adventures? Was he around when that chair acquired its famous bullet hole? Does he have a romantic interest?
As you can see, these questions needed to be answered.
Boris is more than just a bit part player in Susan Smith’s adventurous life — Boris has a life of his own.
I emptied the contents of my hand onto the time-worn table.
We inhabited this pub during happier times, and I guess we never broke the habit.
“What is that?” asked Harry, my former workmate. Harry and I once were warriors in the halls of finance. We slashed and burned our way to enormous profits — profits we saw very little of. That sounds like sour grapes, and I guess it is. We were paid very well and on at least one occasion, our Christmas bonus equalled the deposit on an expensive flat overlooking the river — I loved that view.
We thought we were invincible.
“That, my dear Harry is a pile of thank you,” I said with an air of mystery — I do a good mystery.
“Come again, young Charles?” Everyone at the firm called me young Charles. It made it easier, and even when older Charles left the company, I continued to be young Charles.
“It’s a moderately long story, do you want another pint before I begin?”
“Nah, I’ll make this one last.”
“You know that big old RAF greatcoat I used to wear?”
“The one that is hanging on the coat stand over there?”
“That’s the one.”
“I think I will get that drink. I get the feeling that this is going to be epic — you want one?”
“No, save your money. I’m pleasantly toasted, and it should last until lunchtime.”
In the old days, we didn’t have to worry about such things — money was always there, and just like everything else in life, we expected it to stay that way.
I watched Harry make his way to the bar. The girl behind the counter was new, and Harry fancied his chances — their conversation continued for some minutes. As Harry turned to come back to our table, I watched the young lady flash her eyes and run her fingers through her hair.
“I think I’m in there,” said Harry as he sat down. From what I saw, I’d say he probably was.
“It must be your Scotish charm.”
“They all want to know what is under the kilt.”
“You’re not wearing a kilt, Harry.”
“You know what I mean.”
“No, I don’t, but one day I’m sure you will enlighten me.”
We had both travelled a long way to come to London and make our fortune, and now we could not imagine going home with our tails between our legs. My hometown is Melbourne — on the other side of the world.
“So, if you’re sitting comfortably, I’ll begin.”
“Extremely comfy, thank you.”
“You know the park across from my flat?”
“Your old flat or the new one?”
“There is only a railway line across from my current abode.” I glared at him for reminding me of how far I had come down.
“On my days off —“
“Which you have a large number of nowadays,” interrupted Harry.
“Yes, thank you for reminding me. On my days off I would take my stale bread to the park and feed the birds. I wasn’t particular, anything with feathers got a fair share.”
“That was very egalitarian of you,” said Harry.
“Thank you — one must maintain standards. So, this went on for many weeks when I discovered the substance you see before you, in the pocket of my greatcoat.”
Harry ran a cautious finger through the pile of what looked like very fine gravel lying on the well-worn table.
“I didn’t pay it any attention at first. I assumed that it had fallen out of a tree, or I had brushed up against something as I walked through the park.”
“A reasonable assumption.”
“Agreed — then the amount of gravel got progressively larger until it reached the proportion you see before you.”
“So, what is it? I know you are dying to tell me.”
“I took a sample to a girl I was penetrating at that time, and between bouts of passion, I asked her if she knew what it was. This girl loves a mystery, so she leapt out of bed, stark naked, and put a couple of grains under her microscope.”
“You have to love a naked woman who has a microscope.”
“My thoughts exactly. It turns out that she was not only good at all forms of coitus, but she was an excellent botanist as well.”
“Coitus beats Botanist though.”
“I agree, but on this occasion, she was both — result!”
“Well, it turns out that they are the tops of tiny acorn like seeds — just the tops, and they are very sought after by the little birds that live in that park.”
“Little birds, is that their botanical name?”
“She did tell me, but in my defence, she was naked, and I imagined all the things I could do to her before I had to go to work. Smoothest thighs you have ever seen and spectacular breasts.”
“Fair enough. Any man could forget a Latin name under such circumstances — you’re forgiven.”
“Anyway, these little birds spend hours looking for the caps off the seeds. They use them to make a sort of paste. They mix it with mud and sticks and make a very sturdy nest — a bit like adding gravel to cement. These tiny nut caps are their most treasured possession — they will fight other birds who try to move in on their supply.”
“And, they give them to you?”
“Yes. I’m just as amazed as you are.”
“How do they manage to get them into your pocket without you noticing?”
“Good question. I guess it’s because I’m in a kind of meditative state — sitting by the lake, watching the birds. It was then, and still is, a kind of escape. But after the encounter with the naked Botanist, I watched them out of the corner of my eye. My coat pocket bends open just a bit as I sit and they come up from behind me and drop them in, one at a time.”
“Wow. It must take a while to deposit enough to make a pile like this.”
“I’m touched that they want to thank me. I guess they appreciate the food. Pickings must be very slim in the winter, especially if you have extra mouths to feed. Often, I would be the only one in the park, particularly on wet rainy days. That old greatcoat comes in handy. I turn up the collar and tuck in a scarf, and I’m warm as toast.”
“What about your head?”
“Large woollen fisherman’s hat.”
“I feel bad taking their most treasured possession, so I sneak back and sprinkle them under a nearby tree and hope that they don’t notice.”
“Boy, are you going to feel dumb if they turn out to be a cure for cancer.”
“I’ll risk it.”
We both went quiet for a while, the way that good friends can. We sat and drank our beer and thought back to those heady days when the world was ours for the taking.
Harry is the only friend I have left from those days. I remember the morning we turned up to work only to find the front doors chained and padlocked. I wondered how they were able to do that; then I remembered that our firm owned the whole building. The security guards were no help — I just wanted to get my stuff out of my desk — never happened — probably ended up in a skip.
As I remember, Harry and I walked to this pub and made a few calls before our work phones went silent. A couple of the directors had been fiddling the books. They knew that we were surviving on reputation and bugger all else. They packed a serious amount of cash into the company jet and headed for a warmer country. We should have seen it coming, but we were young, and thought we knew our worth — we were invincible.
The naked botanist stopped fucking me as soon as I could no longer squire her to important parties. The flat went after a few months — I wandered along in denial, thinking that the world needed my skill set, but whenever they read the name of the firm I had most recently been employed by, the answer was always the same — no room at the inn.
The blokes who came to throw me out of my flat were very good about it.
“Just take whatever you can carry mate, we’ll look the other way.”
Jolly decent of them really. It was the middle of the day, and they broke for lunch after changing the locks on my former flat.
“Can we buy you lunch young fella? Don’t take it too hard. We see a lot of this, especially nowadays. You can curl up and die, or you can come back stronger — it’s your choice.”
They were right, and I worked for them part-time for a while, but that life was not for me.
I’ve got a tiny flat with a view of a railway line, a warm coat and a good friend. My bank account will see me right for a few more months.
When I met Marcel, I was wearing a slinky gown that reached to the ground. It hugged me in all the right places, and every penny I had spent on my spectacular body was on display. My breasts aren’t large, but they are pretty. My dress caressed them and exposed just enough. I wasn’t wearing panties or a bra because it would have ruined the fall of the dress —the dress I purchased only for this occasion.
One of my husband’s friends was receiving an award so the banquet hall would be full of uncomfortably dressed men imitating penguins and fabulously dressed women, all trying to impress each other while comparing their husband’s incomes.
When I first saw him, the dining hall was receiving its finishing touches. None of the bustling staff paid me any attention — one more weepy woman — what did I have to be unhappy about? An observant person would say my life looked perfect. The girls, earning minimum wage, while arranging crystal wine glasses, probably wanted to be me.
My husband disappeared into his career a long time ago, but he still expected me to adore him even though he’s a stranger. If he had found a woman who was prepared to play his game I’m sure he would have left me, but instead, we occupy the same house, and our schedules mean that we occasionally bump into each other.
Marcel was dressed like a penguin also, but he wasn’t a guest he was working — a hired gun, so to speak — an experienced chef moonlighting as a head waiter — just for the night.
“You are unhappy, beautiful lady?”
“Just a bit — nothing to worry about,” I said.
“Why are you alone?”
“I’m not. My husband is in the other room — networking.”
The anteroom was full of well-dressed people exchanging business cards.
“If you were with me, I wouldn’t leave you alone for a moment.”
I lowered my eyes as I smiled demurely. I searched for something to say, but his words took me by surprise. I’ve had men say such things to me in the past, but there was always an edge to their voice that made me uncomfortable.
I sensed a gentle sincerity in Marcel — he meant what he said. That’s not to say that he wasn’t trying his luck — trying to get into the pants that I wasn’t wearing.
He moved closer, and I lowered my eyes a little more. He leaned into my personal space, and I could feel his breath on my bare shoulders.
“You are very forward for a waiter,” I said as I finally found my voice. I didn’t move away from him as a married woman should have while spurning an unwanted advance. Instead, I looked up into his eyes and my rebuke held no venom.
“I am many things and a waiter for only one night. I am also a man who recognises an unhappy woman. I can make you happy,” he said with a devilish smile.
“I doubt that my husband would like to hear you say those words.”
“You are a woman who should be cherished. Your every wish should be granted. Your man should put his hands on you and show you what heaven looks like.”
“And I suppose that you are a man who can achieve that for a woman?”
His attention was arousing me. I didn’t see the harm in encouraging him; I wouldn’t see him again after this night — we come from different worlds.
“I would take you anywhere you want to go,” he said with that same smile.
I had butterflies in my tummy, and I was moist. A trip to the ‘ladies’ would be necessary before we sat down for dinner.
I went to find my husband to tell him of my cheeky adventure, but he was deep in conversation with a couple of penguins — he ignored me, once again, so I stood by until we were called for dinner.
The banquet hall buzzed with conversation. The food was good, and the wine was better than expected. The hotel staff hovered around the table and made sure that we were well looked after. Marcel found any excuse to service my end of the table. He smiled at me constantly. He made funny faces and caught my eye. No one noticed his interest in me, but I loved the attention even though I did my best to look as though I was discouraging him — he saw through me.
Despite my beauty and position in society, no one had shown me this kind of blatant interest. I swear he would have made love to me there and then if I had let him.
“Hello, Elizabeth. Are you still sad?”
I was going through my notes for the lecture I was to give the next day — I was glad of the distraction. I recognised his voice, but I made him work for my attention.
“I’m sorry, I don’t know to whom I am speaking.”
“It’s Marcel, from last night’s banquet. Tall, dark, handsome in an irresistible way. Marcel, the head waiter,” he sounded cheeky, but a bit disappointed that I did not immediately know who he was.
“What can I do for you Marcel the head waiter?”
“You can meet me for coffee.”
“Will you be wearing your Tux? I meet so many handsome men. How will I recognise you out of uniform?”
There was a moment of silence. Maybe he was trying to work out if I was kidding him or not.
“The Tasty Cafe at about three tomorrow. I know you will recognise me because I remember the way you looked at me.”
“I might be able to drag myself away — we’ll see.”
I hung up the phone before he had time to answer. I felt like a naughty school girl planning to cut classes for the day.