(a muse upon human destruction of each other and Mother Earth)

her privileged refuge, a diminished station

on an island illusion, up high in the beyond

through a telescope mounted upon tripod

picking out gaps inside the crepuscular rays

an impatient sun had lacerated, ripped open

in the cloak of meandering, anorexic clouds

she surveys Last Day’s blooded field of battle

fought upon a once lush green meadow below

she dons a simple crown of wild white poppies

poppies in harmony with a revived insensitivity

formerly she boastfully held humanity’s sure fate

in the palm of her neat hand, sowed life’s seeds

though as of now, chooses sterilization of volition

her heavenly body not deserving of fertility’s gift

yet, just what is it she sees under the mare’s tail?

certainly, the cinders of conflict have at last cooled

a tangled web of scorched, disfigured mortal scraps

the symmetry in rigor mortis eyes pegged wide open

upon Armageddon, only the full bellied blasé magpies

claim triumph, their penchant for carrion duly satisfied



In times of war there is no such thing as a fashionable venue.  Fortunately, the long years of combat were at last over. Sadly, and of dire necessity in the fall of 1944 during the month-long bombardment in order to gain access to the port facilities at Antwerp, The Allies had, albeit successfully, pounded the living daylights out of Belgium’s coastal regions, the net result of which had rather taken the gloss off Léon Stynen’s art deco masterpiece, namely the Grand Casino at Knokke Heist.  Even so, the municipality of Knokke Heist, stripped almost bare of its original charm at wars end, was once more sneaking back into favour. Some of the cafes had reopened, a few of the fabled sea view apartments with admirable balconies were available to rent again, plus natures survival instinct had guaranteed the silver sand beach was still intact.

At water’s edge, as she hoisted up her skirt a little and dipped a most reluctant big toe into the forever ice cold North Sea, the whispered words of a ‘brave beyond sensibility’ Canadian couple in bathing costumes, in close proximity had allowed her to eavesdrop.

“Word has it, my dear that the surrealist master René Magritte himself is to create a giant mural as part of the casino’s renovation.”

“Oh, that’s good, darling. About time too.”

As pleasing as that news was, for she had always liked a flutter in a prestigious setting a distinctly more pressing task occupied her, for she had had the good fortune to have identified her mark, that being the one who had consigned her foetus to a better fate than being alive. That he was a despicable article, his crimes against humanity repugnant beyond measure ensured her fixed enthusiasm for the task at hand. Moreover, she was well aware of the chink in his armour, namely a fondness for the ladies, the looser the better by all accounts. After all, it was in the sick circumstances of his warped minded creation they had first engaged. She, the abused captive on the occasion of that tortuous adventure.

It was close to midnight, in a resurrected piano bar on the sea front she made her presence known. Dressed to the nines, cleavage, black lace, fishnets and heels, in essence the consummate tart, it came as no great shock that making his salivating acquaintance was as easy as pie.  Additionally, it helped that he was already in his cups when slipping him the Mickey Finn.  She was more than a little vexed that he failed to recognize her from her time in the death camp, given that he had chosen her out of the crowd, claiming ownership of, “This one…I’ll take this…the one of rarest worthless pedigree.”

Back in his hotel room, immediately prior to his terminal incapacitation she felt compelled to remind  the pig that once she was pregnant. A short-lived thing. Circumstances and mental paralysis of his contrivance saw to that. Whatever, the drug she slipped him in the bar was well chosen. As a pre-requisite to slipping his mortal coil, his awareness subsisted, yet his entirety became wholly immobile. As he lay fixed upon the bed, he could hear clearly the reading of his ebbing fortune. She found that just sufficient, given that her contented smiling face was the last thing he would ever see save for the checkmate kiss goodbye she blew.

That her employers had been most specific in wanting him brought in alive in order to stand trial at Nuremberg, a pity.  Better for one and all, her summary justice born of personal testimony. Regardless, she had been minded since accepting the mission to sweet talk her way out of any minor complications and blandishment was her forte.


under the radar

I have a pile of mostly irksome ‘periphery of life’ bits and pieces I have let build up to mammoth proportions to attend to as a matter of mundane urgency. The net result is that I need to escape under the blogging radar for a week or two, otherwise I will find myself crushed under the weighty burden of being. The only bonus is that my dear wife, ‘she who must be obeyed’ will be off my case!

I shall return soon, no doubt unrefreshed, yet in the meantime the very best of good fortune to one and all.






“Well Shehanne, luv…or may I call you Shey…I can? Nice one. Thanks for the cuppa.  I must say strong tea, when combined with a generous slice of your very own homemade Dundee Cake provides a real treat for the taste buds, although inevitably the cake doesn’t dunk like what my preferred Garibaldi biscuits do. Never mind though. 

To the point. You’d be amazed at the number of issues you romantic novelists have with your central heating pumps…beats me, but there you have it!  Still all sorted now.  The problemo was none other than a jammed propeller due to foreign stuff in the central heating seeping into to your all-important pump. May I ask you a question?  Tell me, do you keep rodents?” 

“I do actually, my hamsters” 

“Well there’s your answer. Hamsters, or should I say, rodents belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae, are famous for storing grub they don’t want to scoff immediately in their cheek pouches. When the cheek pouches reach overload, the little blighters look elsewhere for a place to secretly conceal any glut. Your cunning devils choose your central heating system!  Still all sorted now, although I do feel you are glazing over a tad.” 

“No, I’m fine, really” 

“Anyway, you’re not alone. Only last week I was down at Jane Austin’s gaff in Hampshire…my God, that place chucked up something rotten, what with her letting her pet pig, Lady Ambrosia have a complete run of the home…you’d think she’d have it house-trained…but, oh no, too much hard work! I don’t know how that poker-faced bint finds time to write, she’s forever on her mobile texting away. Changing the subject, is that all the books what you have writ on the coffee table over there? May I cop a gander?”

“You may” she1

“By the cringe, there’s some tasty girls on the covers, that’s for sure. Oh, I like this cover…this one, the one you said was your new book, ‘The Writer and The Rake’.  I’ll lay odds that bloke’s never done a day’s plumbing in his life, and the bird with the come-hither eyes…if you get my drift…well, I’ll go to the foot of our stairs, I know her. That’s none other than young Mavis who used to work the counter in The Spa shop down The Mile End Road by day, spending most nights hanging around the lamppost outside it. I heard she’d moved to Scotland. They always said she’d follow a bloke in a kilt anywhere. Doesn’t she scrub up nice though? By the way, when you made the booking you said you wrote ‘smexy’ romance. What’s all that about luv?” 

“Jonny, what a gent you are that you don’t know. Of course, I can tell you are a gent and a gem and probably a little smexy yourself, it that’s any help to you. Now, don’t look so modest. In any kind of conversation, it means one thing. Smart’n sexy. That was two. Sorry.” 

“Stroll on luv, I’ve never been called smexy before…I’ll take it, mind…I do believe such accolade is giving rise to a stirring in me parts! So how come you got to knocking out smexy romance books then?” 

“Hmm? Simple answer, I was desperate.  A girl can only take knocking on so many doors and meeting with the usual dreaded R letter.  So being smart I decided to put the historical fiction with the cast of the ten commandments on hold and visit the drawing board. That’s why I did it.  AS to how? I had to study the genre. I mean me? Write romance? Let’s not kid I even knew the first thing about it.” 

“Good on you, luv. You’ve wetted me whistle, and now me cement is wet, you have to tell more.” 

“Now Jonny, I am sure a man of the world like you can guess and needs no lessons from me on this score.  But I would add that me being me, you can forget the lovey-dovey stuff. I am deeply drawn to flawed characters. Ones who like a great deal of space and everything their way.  These are bad boys and they need a bad girl to sort them out. Of course, there’s certain scenes of a certain nature. Ones that might require the cold tap on the shower to be working. However, I would say that what interests me most is the dynamic between a particular hero and heroine. What draws one to the other. What makes that work and what makes you believe that they can do this, they are right for each other, they can be together, to quote my new heroine, ‘till the day turns to dust.’”

“Well you chose proper good having Mavis on the cover, they always said she was the girl all the bad geezers wanted. So, give us the low down on the new story then.”

she3she2“Well, The Writer and The Rake is about just that, a writer and a rake, except she’s from the present day and he’s not.  It’s a time travel about a dynasty whose members are somewhat cursed that way and it’s a follow on from my last book The Viking and The Courtesan.  The heroine is the Courtesan’s grandmother as a young woman, a pretty heavy smoking, drinking, clubbing young woman who finds herself back in Georgian England, pitted against a hero who can’t quite get his head round her. Having ballsed up his life…much as she’s doing with hers…he needs a wife in order to inherit. He just doesn’t quite bank on the loose cannon she is.  I liked exploring the business of taking this high-octane woman and placing her in this alien world.  I try to send my characters on a journey around a theme. In Loving Lady Lazuli, it was the idea of whether you can let go of the past when it has destroyed your present.  In the Unravelling of Lady Fury, it was whether sex can be reduced to a business transaction when it has once been anything but.  With His Judas Bride, it was just how much of your life can you mess up by getting into this passionate tangle when you just shouldn’t.  The Viking and the Courtesan is about the stages by which you might let everything you know go and step into the unknown.”


“Cor, look at this cover…this one, The Unravelling of Lady Fury. I wouldn’t say no to unravelling her, lovely girl that she is. I’m guessing she wouldn’t fancy a plumber, they never do…I call it the plumbers curse.”

“Oh, I don’t know she lives on a pirate ship. I bet there’s leaks galore.”

“True enough luv. Still, time and plumbing waits for no man, and Nancy Mitford is next on me list…her French Bulldog’s stuck in the U-Bend again! Got to be on me way. Hope ‘The Writer and The Rake’ sells in shedloads luv…whoops, I meant Shey. I better be off now, and keep those hamsters of yours away from the central heating system in future!” 

“Thanks ever so much Jonny, you really are a living legend.”


“I hope you don’t mind an extract Jonny it concerns the hero and how looks and clothes can be deceptive….” 

“No worries on that front luv…it’s probably for the best I have a read of it in the motor though…you never know, what with it being of a smexy nature I have very real fears I might not be able to cope in the company of a proper lady like what you are.”


She stopped. Pale stone walls, on which the light danced with soft shoes, beautiful blue-lit windows rising in golden amber arches to the roof. A faint smell of old stone. Across the dusting of withered leaves, a stone dais in ancient sandstone. Her heart missed a beat. What was this place exactly? The reason Gabriella didn’t like him?

“Not a place I come to often, I admit, being too far gone down the road of badness for that, but nonetheless, a place that is ideal for spending your days in the kind of prayer and contemplation you told the servants you did.”

“Me? Oh, I think you’ve got that all wrong, darling.”

“Not at all.” His feet echoed softly on the pale stone floor. “There’s the altar—”

“That was only for the servants’ benefit. You see—”

Admit she didn’t know how to direct a tiresome bunch of servants on their jam making, or whatever Georgian servants did? Especially when it might be worse if she did instruct them and made it obvious she hadn’t a bloody clue? She waited as the withered leaves rustled in their silent corners. “I just hadn’t thought is all.”

He glanced around. “Good you have now though. Anyone chancing in here will see how devotional you are. I’m just sorry the floor is stone and there’s no pews.”

“Oh. Don’t worry about it because—”

“I’m not.”

“That’s two of us then. At least, I think it is.”

“I know I must look wealthy to you in my fine clothes, Miss Carter, but that’s for show. The truth is two winters ago I’d to strip the pews out and burn them for firewood after a particularly brutal run-in with Christian and Clarence.”

“I can’t imagine what over.”

“Which I don’t think you understand about.”

“Believe me, I’m trying.”

“I couldn’t agree more. Unless, of course, you want to rethink the business of the servants and show them you can run this house, smoothly, perfectly?”

She stopped fiddling with her hair and glanced round. Mentioning his sex life with Gabriella was a mistake. Already she’d no fags, no voddie and damn all food obviously because of other run-ins with Christian. 1765 had bugger all to recommend it. So obviously, she should at least try to say a few words to the servants. One, or two, no more. In fact, feeling the chill on her bones, she’d as good as decided. But, this strange place, if he was going to leave her alone here? This place was perfect to find the portal from. For that matter it might even be here.

Her breath shortened. “Hell, no.” She padded down the steps, let the dried leaves rustle about her bare feet. “I think I’d rather stay here.”

1765 had bugger all to recommend it.

He saw her coming. If he’d known her effect he’d have walked away.

When it comes to doing it all, hard coated ‘wild child’ writer, Brittany Carter ticks every box. Having it all is a different thing though, what with her need to thwart an ex fiancé, and herself transported from the present to Georgian times. But then, so long as she can find her way back to her world of fame, and promised fortune, what’s there to worry about?

Georgian bad boy Mitchell Killgower is at the center of an inheritance dispute and he needs Brittany as his obedient, country mouse wife. Or rather he needs her like a hole in the head. In and out of his bed he’s never known a woman like her. A woman who can disappear and reappear like her either.

And when his coolly contained anarchist, who is anything but, learns how to return to her world and stay there, will having it all be enough, or does she underestimate him…and herself?













the day after the day after

heroic, not as yet battle weary

Northumbrians and circumspect

trundling, rumbling Cromwell tanks

liberate a barely blemished Bayeux

embroidered tapestry reflecting

perhaps a more advantageous

Norman fray, pristine, still intact

was the day she cast aside

all conceivable apprehension

let weakest knees carry her

to the conceivably oldest

of Notre Dame Cathedrals

her motive a conundrum

for she had given up prayer

the day her wish came true

once beyond the great oak door

by lonely votive candlelight, alone

she foraged for crucifix abandoned

four arduous summers previous

found it where she left it

left it where she found it

to the unsettled sanctuary of providence

outside, now a little drunk

on Calvados, deliverance

and revived freshest air

satisfied all was as was

lost in a fool’s paradise

she, at first, at least, nearly, failed

to notice the uniformed blind giant

inadvertently blocking her path

shabby white stick in one hand

bouquet of white tea roses in the other

“Parles vous Anglais?”

“Oui” her little person, potentially polemic reaction

“Pardon” his baffled, ‘wish I could speak the lingo’ riposte

“Yes, I do speak English,” taking him for a bumbling fool, and spoken in perfect Anglais

“Then these flowers are for you,” the plain words of an ever so proud sightless giant

“Merci” she accepts his unlikely gift, with a curtsy, a girlish beam his dead eyes disregard

jumps up upon the biggest man, legs wrapped around his slim waist

holds on tight to his ears, kisses him upon the lips, cheeks and forehead

in a berserk frenzy of today’s untamed, come tomorrows forgotten passion

suddenly a passive realization, that for she and Bayeux, the War is over

life can once more be as before

this day, the 12th June 1944




The zest of a lemon, a sugar-coated wafer, foul odour, euphoric aroma and the emptiness of the barren void. Unstimulating insignificance, turmoil, sudden cramps, heartache for reasons unknown and pulsating vital organs. Rough textures from smooth; smooth from rough, the pleasure that gravity affords. Heedless of the nature of sex and sexuality. Two directional manipulation by way of touch. The perception of longitudinal and transverse waves communicating as best they can. These, and these alone, were all I believed I ever knew. These were the pittance, delusions had endowed. Yet all this was when I was God, God of all I could evaluate, sat august on my throne and out of reach. That was when I was the entire universe.  That was when elation was what fatalistic happenstance brought forth.

Perhaps I exaggerate a little. A new-found enthusiasm does that. It would be an idiocy to say I was not alive to the existence of anything else. Breathing phenomenon’s whose presence outside of me would add to my alien self. For instance, they applied heavy wrappings that warmed me when cold, flimsy ones that served to cool me when too hot. As to exactly what living things they might be, I had not the vaguest concept save that they might have been the viable flotsam and jetsam serving my continuum. Whatever, those who breathed delivered sustenance and cleanliness.

Whether she found me, or had been gifted me I have yet to determine. All I know is that prior to the event I was that macrocosm, just a solitary star in a curved and bent blackened retreat. Cold hearted instinct had declared I was a pulsating, living thing, seemingly born into a realm of muddled isolation.  Of that I was chaotically aware. That aside, an eternal abyss of my own making was my possessor and only possession. That, I believe, is the way of God wherever one might find Him.

Come her perfume, all would change. She has shown me that within her realm of balance I cannot speak, nor hear, nor see, whereas in her equivalent such senses are taken for granted. Now I am savvy to the simple verifiable truth that I am no God. That I would find the legendary unicorn alive and well, an easier thing than unravelling the puzzle of impossible omnipotence.

Through touch and tangled tongue, she has transposed images of her past and current, her hopes and dreams as clearly as if I had eyes that see. I do not think she is aware she has this capacity within her. Her words of knowledge sit inside the library she has contrived inside my head. Were I not mute I would tell her of her energy. I perceive visions of her life through hopeless eyes. I hear her speak on stage in a theatre named Cerebrum.  Could I conjure spoken words and viable replies I would debate with her. No longer am I deserted, left to fend alone in an enclave of instability, unaware of predators and poisonous plants.

If I could live out the simplicity of my flawless dream then I would climb the highest mountain, cast my net and harvest a sky full of storm clouds, hide them away and gift her, her very own wild blue yonder.




in waking moments she often climbed Jacob’s ladder

why? she knew not, cared not if the truth be told

yet she could testify first hand to all who might listen

that atop this puffed-up earthly domain all there was

was a place barren of hidden desires and emotions

a tedious realm of ‘in your face’ grinning do-gooders

and a whiffy care home for the reluctantly unspoiled

her preference for as long as she could remember

was a bandaged whereabouts where realities purity

was indistinguishable from the abstract, namely

the immaculate cloud cuckoo land of deepest sleep

her pronouncements upon waking

were both sought after and legendry

they earned her a pretty penny

from those seeking imperial predictions

those others questing direct messages

from the ghosts of loved and hated ones

indeed, she had oft considered the fact

that the offerings of her mind surpassed

the tiresome eternal male pursuit

for her, admittedly pleasing body

something of a hoot

“Illusory, bizarre, fearsome, exhilarating, mysterious, wistful, daredevil, carnal. Why would I trade my dreams for what you call the tangible?”

Be that as it may

not that long after the Fall of Rome

her mouth-watering dreams swiftly abated

conscious thoughts of tiresome Odovacar

the dullard leader of The Goths

the first King of a trampled Italy

laid waste her nocturnal involuntary arcadia

defiled her dead to the world risqué darkest imaginings

her dependable across the counter revelations also

the dreamer’s worst affliction

insomnia had struck

that he was an abject bore of the first order

had the manners and foul odour of a pig

the penchant for cruellest random brutality

effectively killed that gifted genius

the one she had relied upon since lucid vanity

had waved its ‘I’m so sorry’ goodbye

puerile Odovacar in flight of fancy’s fancy

was determined to wed and a bed a dreamer

it was thus, born of reluctant desire

and the need for a few shekels more

she made love to the repugnant first King of Italy

following which she slept as deep forest log

after the ‘event’ she poisoned him, of course

a sweetened blend of deadly nightshade and mandrake

written upon next day’s tablets and yelled by the crier

Odovacar’s demise fortuitously labelled “Natural causes”

the simple-minded punters came back in droves

and the Sandman greeted her each twilight

with a perfect kiss



(18 hours of my life)

She, the one upon whose bare bottom I have nibbled upon each new morn since the beginning of time, my superlative lover, my delicious muse, my idolized wife has betrayed me. Henceforth and forthwith let her be known as Delilah.  How so, this turning of the worm?

A full pentagram of seasons has passed since she begged of me to grow my locks so that they, once more, were as they were in those halcyon days of curry and lager. I acceded, of course I acceded. What else could I do?

Yet just the day previous to this, my mane tied per her definitive wish, in the form of a long flowing ponytail, she lay in wait, crept upon me from the rear. Armed with just long blade scissors she held back in wait for the perfect moment and, catching me unawares, at a single stroke snipped off a baker’s dozen of inches of this latter-day Samson’s barnet.  Dangled her prize in the face of this now forlorn, once mighty soul. Her eyes had a certain madness about them.

“Why the fuck did you do that?” My, quite reasonable opening gambit.

“I don’t know really, I just did. It seemed like a good idea. Sorry” 

“It’s taken me a fucking age to grow it out this long. Good idea? It must have been pre-meditated?” 

“It wasn’t and I said sorry, and anyway, it could have been worse.”

Yes, it certainly could have been worse. My how we laughed. For a moment, at least. It was only then, as the stark reality of it all sunk in, I christened her the Delilah that she is.

What of me? In the mirror, I gazed. I immediately made note of the blunt fact that one side of my new-found coiffure was several inches longer than the other. This prompted the melancholy thought that I had attained the characteristics of the young Boy George. I found myself humming his 1970’s Hit Parade number one Karma Chameleon and felt most sick. Certainly, there was much hair still attached to my person, yet so very different I looked. A dead ringer perhaps for one Matthew Hopkins, The Witchfinder General from days of yore, or perhaps a stereotypical trooper in Cromwell’s Model Army. In short, I found that I looked an accomplished prat and in an instance got the right royal hump!

Whatever, it was thus that earlier this day I donned my trusty old fedora (a necessity of circumstance) and set out to find one who, although plainly unable to make me as I was before, could perhaps dress my hair in a manner that did not make me look the fool, the village idiot. So, to the local barbers I went.

I explained my predicament in some depth. The barber, a young man with a shaven head, the bare breasted torso of one who likely was either his partner, or perhaps his first victim, tattooed upon his neck (a thing that did not bode well, yet needs must when the devil drives) asked what style of haircut might take my fancy. He even lead me to me a galaxy of posters set upon the wall of his establishment. Even, suggested certain styles that he felt might suit.

“Well, young man,” said I, “All the chaps in your pictures either look like mass murderers, bank robbers or child molesters, so I have to say, ‘none of the above’ please.” At that, a look of anger, or was it hate, enhanced with a soupcon of disappointment, betrayed his true feelings. Nevertheless, he offered to thumb through his various catalogues with me until I discovered my new haircut. I declined the offer and requested of him to do his level best to make me look less like an inmate of Bedlam.

As of now, all is well. I may be taken for an average bore, yet can cope (just).  A bore I might be, never average. As to my dear Delilah, and to prove I hold no grudge, below is a copy of the note I wrote her (the original she carries with her always) a few years gone, it reads;

She talks of family planning with spiders; gives advice to dogs on the subject of manners; compliments flowers on their beauty; discusses pesticides with bumblebees; speaks of romance with butterflies; lectures cats on their toilet habits, and, mostly, she just tells off the wasps.   Wasps are the Hell’s Angels of her garden.   When hot, she undresses, when cold she wears layer upon layer.  Rarely is she colour co-ordinated.  She looks best naked.  This one is of the earth. 

Whilst idling in the open air she has shown me many things from nature that being held a hostage of concrete and tarmac had denied me.  

She takes in waifs and strays and gives a ray of hope to the unfortunate with kind words.   We are lovers, parents, husband and wife.   Confidants over thirty years woven together in love this past twenty or so.    As just friends there were never secrets.  We have no secrets even now.   I call her my ‘child bride’ as I am nearly eight years her senior.   We are over one hundred years between us – and counting.   When the mood takes her she may prey upon the weaknesses of pretentious humanity.   In days of yore, in drink, she sometimes destroyed such beings.   She is blessed with great, cutting wit and cries giant tears, like crystal balls made of morning dew when laughing.    She laughs a lot.   She does not ride that savage downhill slalom of melancholy that is my want, although if left alone too long she climbs the walls of tedium.   Her smile can illuminate a cathedral, her frown may slam shut its Gothic doors and herald the crepuscular certainty of nightfall.   She is blond, her hair fine and long, her body nectarious.    A brave one, she has the small scars of childhood recklessness about her limbs.    Accident prone, she bruises her body with regularity, yet never her heart.   To her there is no calamity in her clumsiness.   The regular breakage of man-made objects matters not a jot.   She says such things are replaceable anyway.   Those mortals who cause the pain born of malice she would lock away forever.   She calls small children and the very old, ‘My angel’.   Infants would follow her to the ends of the earth.   Sometimes she has the mouth of a navvy, sometimes the eloquence of a bard. 

She conceived our child in the Polynesian suite of a French chateau in the Loire Valley.   As is her way, a certain savoir-faire.   When, all those years now past, giving birth to her George she sweltered in the body heat of her own endeavour.   Nearly a day in labour, and oblivious to the comings and goings of others, she insisted the midwife undress her.   Enthrallingly naked, she bore her son.   Natural instinct is second nature to those of the earth, those impish daughters of Eve.   Fate wed us; eternity binds us.    My Celtic lady is out of step with the rest, captivatingly mad, yet with no comprehension that this is so.   She has emboldened me.   I think I am her rock. 

Her name is Shirley.  Shirley is ‘off the wall’ most times. 



(regarding the legend behind female figureheads on ships)

under the fraudulent cover of a soporific oh, so slender decresent moon

a harem of brazenly snooping sparkling stars affording sufficient glow

the small craft makes light work of glinting, inconsequential ripples

carrying she of captivating looks and charming demeanour away

surrendering the hustle and bustle of Tripoli’s manic harbour

for El Mina’s gulf and sanctuary of this resting rover’s ship

the overmuch amorous sheik back in Bagdad overlooked

her talent of foresight, seeking to tether both she and

her cloaked duplicitous affections by draping her in

opulent golden bangles as article of ostentation

bangles by insistence she declared should be

set permanent, fixed about her petite wrists

oft glimpsed ankles and much kissed neck

no stinking rich emir ever the match

for a Machiavellian mademoiselle

bent upon profit and swift

getaway on her mind

golden adornments

travelling as part

of her brazen


I knew full well that laying claim to the lives of the unsuspecting and seeking out untried antidotes for seasickness were masked by titanic beauty beyond measure, false manners beyond refute.  Still I cared not a jot, my promise of safe passage back to Tilbury for the price of just a worthwhile few shavings of gold, sufficient. Not so my superstitious crew, believing as they did the old adage that a girl on board ship angered intemperate seas that would take out perilous retribution.

Safely outside the Pillars of Hercules, north into Biscay’s Bay the seas turned foul, tempest beyond measure, the ghost of Jonah nod. Yet, leaving the relative safety of her quarters, she took to the deck

unperturbed by ill looks of fearful mariners of unfounded fears.  Seemingly satisfied as to the general state of affairs, she returned below deck.  As if by magic, the storm abated, all was quiet, Davy Jones downhearted.

Later, from the warm comfort of my captain’s cabin, “You have no figurehead captain?” she observed over a salted beef dinner, adding, “Surely, you’ve heard tell the bare breasts of a women perched on the bow of the ship, ‘shames the stormy seas into calm and her open eyes guides all seamen to safety’?” Plainly I responded by advising that of course I knew, yet put it down to an old wives’ tale.  “Then you really know nothing, do you? Back in London you will forego your golden fee, instead I shall model for your figurehead. An equitable arrangement do you not agree?” I found such overture impossible to refuse, she had me in her spell. Even my crew thought well of her proposal, notwithstanding lost income.

Regardless, model she did, our heroine she became. It was a good likeness and over time her figurehead became the very spirit of the vessel of 1,000 more violent commotions adrift.  Upon departing for ‘wherever’, I felt compelled to ask of her, “That night of the storm, you made for the bow I recall…you didn’t…surely not…did you?” Her riposte, “I’ll leave that to your imagination.”  I never saw or heard of her again.



The uninvited weasel, occupying appropriated lodgings had had better days. Certainly, none worse. So much for the mouth-watering anticipation of red light potential and the sheer delight snapshots of ‘spring again’ tulips would bring to loved ones back home.

Deathly quiet within four walls, yet in the street below the sissing of cyclists, the chitter-chatter of panicking stale bread hunters was broken only by the blunt decrees of the hard-nosed uniformed playmaker directing gun totting subordinates toward likely attics and basements where the fearful hid or were hidden, the clatter of jackboots upon cobblestone and the odd terrorized scream of female distress. 1942 in Amsterdam, a place where those not quislings, were either taken on a free train ride, left weeping or resisting the best they knew how.

She could not help but to absorb the grandeur of his purloined surroundings.  Albeit that he was a high-ranking officer, he was, in the global plan of things of arguable consequence, he had certainly done alright for himself. Highest ceilings flaunting crystal chandeliers she would, in different circumstances readily swing from, delicious sweeping views of the city from the balcony, a Dutch Master or two adorning aesthetically pleasing walls.

Ever the compassionate assassin, that he was on his knees, hands tied fast behind his back, feet tethered similar, her revolver as good as glued to his temple, she had afforded him the decency of retaining his socks. That that small modesty made him look ridiculous pleased her. Apt revenge for the evil he had orchestrated? She believed that to be the case, besides if God was reticent in coming out to play, then she would play God.

A little earlier, more out of boredom than anything else, she had, with painstaking care, removed from the bridge of his debatable Aryan nose his wire framed spectacles, placed them upon the sumptuous carpet, then, with the heel of his own forsaken boot, smashed them to smithereens before his screwed-up, searching eyes.

She already had all his secrets, and some more. The chapter was near complete. Tilting her head mockingly, her giveaway violet eyes drawn to his near unsighted equivalents, “You really are not as I imagined. All sinewy, half blind, a skinny little fully paid-up member of the self-proclaimed master race.”

Now looking sheepishly at the floor, he mumbled as would a small child caught scrumping apples, “They’ll catch you and kill you…you know that?” 

“Maybe, maybe not.”

Without the benefit of lenses, his now reluctant eyes struggled to interpret exactly what she was up to as she slipped on a rubberised glove, upon the palm of which she placed a thin-walled glass oval capsule, the size of a pea. “Stick out your tongue like a good soldier if you wouldn’t mind.” Although now aware of what was coming, his overwhelming desire to cling to dear life just a little longer ensured he almost voluntarily complied. With theatrical aplomb, her rubber protected thumb crushed the cyanide pill against his tongue. Insofar as she allowed, he squirmed a moment as she slammed shut his mouth, holding on tight, locking his jaw. Within just minutes’ consciousness had taken its leave for someplace else. Shortly thereafter the heartbeat followed on behind.

Bagging up his clothing she paused to take a last look at her dead adversary.  The thought struck that for his gestapo uniform to be complete, to be authentic, she needed the socks. A pity really, her artistry spoiled. Needs must when the devil drives, the socks she had to have.

It was evening when she returned to the scabby garret we shared on the other side of town.

“Success?” I asked.

“Of course, here, a genuine gestapo officers uniform, boots and all, for your chums in the Resistance for covert activities.”

“Did you get it out of him as to just how much he knows of our whereabouts and operational plans?”   

“You wish to debrief me so soon?” 

“What do you think?”

A long and not unpleasant post-witching hour sharing both privileged information and each other came to pass. In times of war, I found, as did she, one takes what one can get tout de suite.