During 1994, my wife and I were living in Mijdrecht, Netherlands and, with no paying work, were very short of money but had plenty of time to ourselves. I should explain here that although my wife’s first name is Pablita, this is her official name, while she preferred me to call her by her nickname, Aleth. During these months, Aleth told me of her childhood in great detail. Growing up in the Philippines is so different to the U.K. that an idea began to form in my mind. I decided to write a novel based on Aleth’s childhood, yet extending it into pure fiction, creating a cultural thriller. This took me eight years to write, but it was 2005 before “A Comfortable Death” was finally published. At the same time as writing this, I still enjoyed writing short stories, such as the following:
Copyright J. S. Raynor : August, 1994, 2016
Kate was waiting impatiently. She was sitting in the darkness of her living room, listening for the sound of the key turning in the door. Kate was too angry to feel sleepy as the time passed slowly by. Eleven o’clock, twelve, one. It was one twenty before the sound she had been waiting for could be heard. She could tell, by the amount of fumbling with the key, just how much her husband had been drinking and, this time, it sounded as though he was having difficulty just finding the door. She was tempted to let him in as she became more irritated by his inept attempts, but controlled herself.
After much cursing, Frank pushed the door open and almost fell flat on his face. “Oops, shteady. Musht be quiet. Mushn’t wake my boo..boo..bootiful wife. Phew, what a night! What a night!” He made an exaggerated, though unsuccessful attempt at closing the door quietly. “I know…I know, I’ll undresh down here and creep quietly upshtairs. Mushtn’t wake Kate.”
Kate watched, in tempered amusement, as her drunken husband, who hadn’t thought of switching on the light, dropped his clothes in untidy heaps as he staggered around the room, somehow miraculously missing her. When he was naked and about to sneak up the stairs, she crept up behind him and swiftly grabbed hold of his testicles. In a loud commanding voice, she ordered, “Don’t you dare move, Frank Dobson, or I’ll squeeze so hard, it’ll bring more than tears to your eyes. I might even let you find out what Mr. Bobbit felt like.”
“K..K..Kate! Er..hello love. Oh, don’t! You’re hurting!” This attack had sobered him up far quicker than any other method. “Please let go! What do you want?”
“What do I want? What the bloody hell do you think I want, you miserable, drunken, fat slob? if your paunch gets any bigger, you won’t need a bloody table to eat your meals on. You wear your old clothes all the time and go for days without shaving. You really are a disgusting slob! I would like a man who could show me some love and tenderness, not one who thinks that foreplay is three hours at the pub getting tanked up. I don’t think Desmond Morris could include you in his ‘Mankind’ series, unless you were the primitive he was comparing to man.” She gave an extra hard squeeze, causing him to let out an anguished cry, before releasing her hold. Kate switched on the lights. “My God! Just look at you! The original naked ape! I must have been crazy to marry you, you worthless pig!”
“You have such a wonderful way with words, darling. Listen, I’m tired and dying for a pee. Let’s just go to bed, eh?”
“Not bloody likely! You are not sleeping with me in that state. You’ve done this too many times before, to get away with it again. You belch and fart all night and could not care less if I can’t sleep. And then there’s your snoring. When you’ve been drinking, it sounds like a pneumatic drill in a deep puddle.”
“I can’t help snoring, you know that”, he appealed.
“You can help getting pissed! For a man who hasn’t had a job for two years, you have an uncanny talent for pouring your dole money down the toilet! If I did not have a decent job, we’d really be in a mess. Right now, listen to me. Tonight, you are not, I repeat, NOT, sleeping with me, in that awful state. The only company you’ll have tonight, is the cat – you can sleep down here on the sofa.”
“Oh, Kate, no.” Frank looked pathetic as he appealed to his wife. “Not the sofa?”
“Oh, Kate, yes. I’m absolutely sick of you going with your mates on a Friday night, spending money that you don’t have and then crawling home, at all hours, in a drunken stupor. I’ve had enough, do you hear? Enough!”
With that, Kate walked upstairs, noisily closing the bedroom door behind her and leaving Frank, still naked, lost for words. Muttering curses under his breath, he pulled some of his clothes back on, to keep warm during his enforced stay on the sofa. He had never seen his wife so angry before and did not dare ask her for bedding, but, much to his relief, the bedroom door opened briefly and pillow and blankets were thrown downstairs. This was not going to be a comfortable night for Frank, but it would prove to be a memorable one.
It was Kate who woke up first. It had been a restless night for her and the first one sleeping apart in their twenty year marriage. Through heavy eyes, she looked at the bedside clock and sat up quickly as she realised the time. “Eleven o’clock! How on earth have I slept so late? That’s Frank’s fault for keeping me awake half the night.” She quickly washed, dressed and went downstairs, only to be greeted by the sound of Frank’s deep, rumbling snores. She ignored him and went straight into the small kitchen. She switched on the radio and deliberately turned the volume up, hoping to disturb her slumbering husband. The radio was tuned to Radio Two and Brian Mathew’s warm tones were introducing ‘Sounds of the Sixties’. She made two mugs of coffee and took one to Frank.
“Come on, you dozy pig. Wake up. I’ve got some coffee for you.” Frank turned over in an attempt to ignore her calls, but she was insistent.
“Please don’t shout so loudly. I’ve a terrible head.”
“It serves you right. You’ve only got what you deserve. Now come on, take this coffee from me.”
“What time is it?” Frank asked sleepily.
“About eleven fifteen. I don’t know how I slept so late, but it’s time you were up.”
“It can’t be that time. That’s Brian Mathew on the radio and his programme finishes at ten. You must have made a mistake.”
Kate thought for a few seconds. “You’re right. It should be Judy Spires at this time. The clock on the hi-fi! What time does that say?” Without waiting for Frank to answer, she looked herself and exclaimed, “It’s only eight twenty.”
“You stupid woman! What are you doing waking me up at this time?”
This time, Kate was lost for words. “I don’t understand.” She rushed upstairs to check the bedside clock and quickly returned. “It definitely says eleven twenty.”
“Well, the clock must have stopped last night.”
“Don’t be stupid. It was after one thirty when I went to bed and it was eleven a.m. when I woke up. If you don’t believe me, go and have a look for yourself.” She followed Frank as he walked upstairs. “See! The clock’s still working.” Frank picked the clock up and shook it, as though this might correct it.
“That’s very strange.” He looked around the room and, suddenly, had an inspiration. “The portable. Switch on the television and see what’s on. I’ll go downstairs and switch the other set on.” As he called to Kate from the living room and instructed her to switch over the different channels, it soon became obvious to both of them that the programmes were not the same. Frank returned to the bedroom. “There must be a rational explanation.”
“Oh, yes? And what is that, Mr. Smart Guy?” she asked acidly.
“I don’t bloody well know.”
“Admit it, Frank. The only explanation is that something in this room has made it go into the future. This bedroom is three hours ahead of the rest of the world.”
“Oh, of course. And pigs fly, don’t they?”
“You know that is the only explanation, but you just don’t want to admit it, do you? It must be a time warp, or something like that.”
“I suppose Doctor Who is going to step out of the wardrobe at any minute,” he retorted sarcastically.
“Why can’t you have an open mind, Frank? People used to think that the world was flat, until they were proved wrong. Just think of the benefits.”
“What benefits? Just name me one advantage in having one room three hours ahead of all the others.”
She thought, but could not think of an answer. It was Frank who had the idea. “We can make ourselves very rich.”
“How? Sell our story to the Sunday Sport?”
Frank was smiling now. “No, something much easier. If this is really true, we could tell which horses are going to win and place bets on them.”
“Frank, that is probably the craziest, but the best idea you have had in twenty years. How much do you think we could win?”
“It depends on the odds, but, if we place an accumulator, then the winnings of one race are placed on another horse, then it could be many thousands of pounds.”
Kate’s eyes lit up at the thought of it. “This could be the answer to our dreams.” She paused for a thought and a serious look crossed her face. “Just promise me one thing, Frank.”
“What’s that? To send your mother on a world cruise, so she isn’t always coming round here?”
“No, you fool. Promise me that you won’t waste it on drink. If you do, I’ll leave you. And I’m not joking.”
“I promise, love. The sofa wasn’t very good as a bed. I don’t want any more nights like that. Now, the races won’t start until after two, so let’s go and get some breakfast. I’m starving.”
Over breakfast, Frank said, “What would you do, if we had plenty of money, love?”
“What would I do? Oh, there are so many things, I don’t know where to start. I’d like to move from this shoe-box of a terrace to a detached house. It doesn’t have to be a big one. I just want to live without hearing my neighbours screwing all night. A nice, but not too big a garden. I could do with a new set of clothes, too. Perhaps a good holiday – I’ve always wanted to go to Singapore. How about you, Frank? What would you really like?”
“A new car would be definite. But I don’t want a Porsche or anything fancy like that. A SAAB 900 would do me nicely. That and a good holiday would be my first choices. I’d like to go to America and see the Space Centre and EPCOT, oh, and the Everglades.” Kate and Frank talked at length about their potential wealth and what they would do with it. Shortly before eleven, they returned to the bedroom, armed with pen and paper. They sat on the bed and began to watch the horse racing on television. They were cheering on the horses which had high odds and Frank made a note of each winner’s name, the odds and the racecourse.
“Right, here’s what we’re going to do.” Frank spoke confidently as he outlined his plan. “We’ll put a hundred pounds, plus tax, to win accumulator on ‘In Love Again’, which wins at five to one in the two o’clock at Sandown. Next, ‘Manssal’, at eleven to two in the two thirty five, again at Sandown.” He paused, looking through the list of winners. “On, and we must do this one. ‘Ingozi’ at twenty to one in the three ten. Just one more, I think. Yes, this one. ‘Keen Vision’ at sixteen to one in the four fifteen.”
“How much will that all come to?” Kate was excited at the prospect of becoming wealthy.
Frank made some calculations and triumphantly exclaimed, “One million, four hundred and fifty eight thousand, six hundred pounds!”
Kate let out a shriek of delight at this vast amount of money which soon would be theirs. “Oh, Frank, that would be fantastic. We could get everything we ever wanted.”
“I still have to place the bets. Let’s go downstairs and I’ll phone the Bookies.” The couple, happier than they had been for a long time, hugged each other and went into their living room.
“Can you place your bets over the phone?”
“As long as I pay by credit card. No problem. Can you look in the directory for the number, love?” Very soon they were dialling the number, their excitement showing in their faces. “Hello, I’d like to place some bets on this afternoon’s races, please. My name? It’s Dobson. Frank Dobson. Shall I give you my credit card number first? Okay. Its 5224 5456 4888 9154. Expiry date? Er, that’s June nineteen ninety six. Now my bets. I want to place a one hundred pounds, plus tax. to win accumulator on the following horses. First, ‘In Love Again’ in the two o’clock at Sandown.” Frank paused as the person on the other end of the phone looked their racing card. “What do you mean, it isn’t racing? It has to be. Well, let’s try the next one. ‘Manssal’ in the two thirty five at Sandown.” Again, another pause and an answer which put a look of puzzlement on Frank’s face. “What about ‘Ingozi’ in the three ten at Sandown?” His manner was now becoming more anxious and Kate knew that something was wrong. “I don’t understand. All these ran, er, I mean should be running this afternoon. Are you sure? All of them? Just forget it, then. I..I must have made a mistake.” Frank’s face had turned ashen as he slowly replaced the receiver.
“What happened, Frank? Why could you not place the bets? Tell me, for God’s sake!”
“The horses did win. But, they all won yesterday. Just our bloody luck! The time warp in the bedroom isn’t three hours ahead. its twenty one hours back in time!”
Copyright J. S. Raynor, 2013, 2017
Chapter Four : A Halloween Fright
Harry and Emma were sitting at their dining table. Both looked anxious, …
Copyright J. S. Raynor, 2013, 2017
Chapter Three : A Design Flaw
A couple of days later, Harry was, as usual, sitting in his …
Copyright J. S. Raynor, 2013, 2017
Chapter Two : An introduction To Rhonda
Following Lynn’s enquiries, a Social worker, Angela, made an appointment to …