New Job

After the unfortunate incident while on the bin rounds, the whole crew got the sack unexpectedly; luckily there was always plenty of work around for fit and strong young men and they started the new job together at first light on Monday morning.

“Are you sure you know where we’re going?” Barry asked Tom, the only one with a HGV drivers licence.

“Yeah man, don’t fret, its cool.” Tom was always so laid back.

Barry had his usual swagger on, he loved being the leader of the gang, none of the others really cared, except his brother Neville sitting in the back hoping he’d get a dry seat on their return.

After a good half hours drive they finally pulled up on the roadside next to the most massive pot hole they’d ever seen.

“Quiet around here, isn’t it?” Barry lit his pre work fag and surveyed the scenery, clement for the time of year, the weak sun made the days task less arduous already.

“How long will this take, you reckon?” Barry was looking for a dodge.

“Be done by lunch, easy.” Tom replied, three men for one hole, a doddle!

Neville was trying to warm his frozen bones up and started unloading the gear, silently grumbling while the others had yet another smoke.

“What’s Up Nev?” Barry called over, he could see the expression on his brothers face and knew he was the opposite to happy.

“I don’t know about you two but I want to get this job done fast and get back to the depot, its bloody freezing.” Grumbled Nev, who didn’t own a warm overcoat, well not until payday comes anyway.

“Ok, ok don’t get your knickers in a twist bro.” Barry had a cruel streak, especially where his older brother was concerned, probably from years of childhood resentment being the small one.

“What are we shovelling first, the sand or the hardcore?” Tom didn’t know, and neither did the others; they’d all fibbed on their application forms about past experience, they didn’t have a clue so made a guess.

“I’ll do a few barrows of sand and you get the hardcore.” Barry ordered confidently, although neither was the lighter task, the sand took longer to shovel being so fine.

A bit of teamwork and they’d got into a good rhythm, the winter sun warmed their backs as they paced their mornings workload.

Then the chat turned to the fairer sex and Nev went quiet, he’d been back a few months now and still hadn’t met anyone; none of Sindy’s friends liked men with beards and with his odd ways, they thought he was a strange one.

Poor Neville

“So the holes filled in, now what?”

They all looked at each other for the answer.

“Get it flat?”

“Oh… yeah, maybe?”

All morning the road had been deserted but in the distance a lone figure walked steadily towards them.

Neville was the first to spot her.

A vision of leather clad loveliness, her haughty expression seemed to stare straight past the bright orange overalled lads, as she steadily marched onwards.

“So you reckon we should shovel some of this back then?” Barry questioned, Tom nodded and they started digging out the pile again.

“It’s a road not a mountain, you daft git.” Tom chuckled deeply.

Neville couldn’t help himself staring, like an enchantment had come over him.

He thought she was beauty personified and he was totally smitten; if there was such a thing as love at first sight, this would be the closest he’d ever got to it.

Aloof yet enticing, incurious and beguiling, she was the woman of his dreams.

“Good morning Miss.” He had to say something, anything to get her attention.

“Do you need a hand there?”

“Nein danke.” She retorted, glancing at him for an instant.

“Ah, bist du Deutscher?” Neville had picked up her accent immediately.

“Ja, ich bin Deutsch.” She seemed pleased.

“I lived in German for a while, Berlin then….” He trailed off as she popped her letter into the Post box and turned to go.

“Er…have you got any…odd jobs that need doing?” Was all he could think to say, it seemed to work as she stopped and turned to inspect him closer.

“Ja.. yes, can you mend ze blocked sink?” She stared into his very soul with her deep dark eyes.

“Of course I can, Miss.”

“Gut, then come to ze house…zat one,” she pointed through the leafless trees to a large concealed mansion and with those abrupt instruction she turned and marched off.

Neville stood enraptured, starting after her and relished the last of the sunlight glinting in her chestnut hair as the click clack of her heels faded up the road.

All this was duly noticed by the other two, who nudged and winked at each other, ginning widely Barry couldn’t help but feel a bit proud of his elder brother, fast work indeed!

“Nice one Nev, you’re a dark horse, I didn’t even know you’d been to Germany!” Said Barry while giving him a big pat on the back.

Neville didn’t really talk much, even to his own brother, about his past life travelling the world after the army, he was a very private man.

“Yes, but it was a pretty dark time and I don’t really remember much.” He suddenly came over extra quiet as the flashbacks smashed around his head like ping pong balls and made him shudder.

The hole was filled in and even a bit of extra sand on top so the lads were pleased their mornings task was completed.

“Who forgot the broom?” Barry moaned.

“You did.” Tom and Nev shouted in unison.

So much for taking turns, Barry loved his brother but not as much as he loved his comfort; it was a cold bumpy drive back to the depot. Barry hoped they’ll get allocated some power tools soon and do some proper digging with loads of noise.

Later that afternoon, eager Neville had biked over to the mysterious mansion in the trees, up the long crunchy gravel drive and stood nervously by the front door.

It seemed to take a long time to be opened after he’d knocked, he could hear her heels click clack steadily along an echoey hallway and what he thought was a distant scream.

“Come, enter….follow me to zee kitchen.”

“I’m Neville…” he stammered nervously although she didn’t seem to be interested in introductions.

The corridor was indeed long with many closed doors and dark passages leading off in every direction; as he walked swiftly behind the stoic Fräulein, Neville had the uncanny feeling he was being watched.

What is in this house and who is this mysterious German lady?

I hope you are brave enough to find out.

©Juliette Dodd 2020

The Hairdressers

Alphonso had been a ladies hairdresser for a long time now; his early career as a male model for the London Fashion Houses had come to an abrupt end when he hit the grand old age of 30.

He had won prestigious Hair awards, had film star clients and been featured in all the hair magazines in his heyday; now he was getting tired and suffered with varicose veins, he longed to retire to Morocco with his long time companion Raymond.

The busy High Street Salon was gradually less so, with a drop in regular weekly appointments hitting the profits and his retirement fund in a worrying way. Alphonso didn’t like to admit that his business was getting a bit dated – just like his signature hair style.

So dated, he totally missed the swinging sixties altogether!

He adored the glamour of the fifties and occasionally exulted himself with a full swirl for those extra special occasions, with lashings of hair lacquer.

Ladies would come in asking for the Pixie Cut, the asymmetrical Bob or a Jean Shrimpton – but they all left with a Doris Day and copious amounts of hairspray.

Eventually Alphonso had to bite the bullet and placed an advert in his window reading:

‘Apprentice Wanted – must be prompt, polite and willing to learn – Apply within’

This notice immediately caught the keen eye of an eager young man, he started work the following Monday.

His name was Ken.

Ken was a fast learner, the ladies loved his gentle ways and he idolised Alphonso, following his every word, like a father figure.

Things couldn’t have gone better and all was harmonious in the Salon.

It didn’t take long before Ken’s appointment book was getting so full they had to turn customers away, his regulars were spreading the word.

Ken was a natural, he snipped and shaped, couffered and curled; as well as being very handsome and charismatic, of course he was instantly popular.

Ken just loved hearing all about the ladies holidays in Morecambe, St. Ives and Clackmannonshire; he even learnt a few dark secrets and juicy stories; the goings on at No. 69 were regularly discussed, amid shocked gasps and stifled giggles.

Alphonso had heard them all before, he only dreamed of the azure sea and sun tanning.

“You are an artist, young Ken.” Alphonso took all the credit for his young protégé.

“Thanks Alf.” it slipped out without him thinking as he was thrown a dark disapproving scowl.

“Sorry, Alphonso.”

“I have a proposition for you but we’ll speak later.” as he was mid way through some highlights and needed exact timing.

Ken waited excitedly, he had a proposition too.

Old Mrs Sindy had always had ‘problem’ hair and today was no exception. Alphonso was a genius and could always tame her barnet, although nothing lasted long in the dank English weather and it eventually frizzed up again. She was his best customer.

Ken was a wizz with the curlers and almost legendary at creating magnificent permanent waves to rival even Alphonso’s mastery (and that was saying something!)

“Pass us that magazine, theres a love.” called Old Mrs Sindy.

“Oh thats not a magazine, its my new book.” Ken replied as he shoved a handful of Woman’s Weeklys onto her lap. He’d been studying the crisp pages for weeks now and itching to have a go himself .

The morning rush had died down at the Salon when Ken summoned up the courage to show Alphonso.

“Why don’t we cut mens hair as well as ladies, Alphonso?”

“Huh?”

“I’ve been reading this book and think it would bring in loads more customers, we could sell hair cream and beard oil as well as a whole range of shampoo …and offer male perms and sideburn trimming…” Ken was so excited he ranted on and on until at last he stopped as Alphonso let out a sad sigh.

“I’m too old for all that.” Alphonso had a far away expression on his perfectly moisturised face.

Ken was crestfallen and turned to retreat into the back room.

“Wait Ken, now hear my proposition,” as he held out the shop keys,

“You take them, I’m giving you my business, I haven’t got an heir but if I had one I’d like it to be you.”

“What do you say?”

Ken for once, was speechless.

“Oh yes, yes please, oh me, oh my, oh goodness…ooooh!”

“Lets shake on it then, I’ll have my solicitor write up the transfer, my Empire is now yours, to do with as you please.”

With a huge sigh of relief Alphonso had already planned his departure to sunny lands, of sipping sundowners on warm beaches; leaving behind the mounting bills and leaky roof, not to mention the lease was ending soon…but that won’t be his problem for long.

Two months later, a refit, a rename and a relaunch of the High Streets very first unisex hair salon.

It was so modern, so trendy and odds on to become a roaring success.

Ken was the happiest man alive.

©Juliette Dodd 2020

New Year – part 2

In the early hours of New Years day, a raucous car load of drunken revellers sang on their way home; too far intoxicated to blush at the filthy sailors songs, the girls cackled and joined in at the chorus….

“Friggin’ in the riggin’,

“Friggin’ in the riggin’….”

Oh dear was that…yes, the familiar sound of a distant siren!

As the flashing lights got brighter, Burt stomach sunk as he slowed down and stopped…they were only a half mile from home too, bugger.

“‘Ello, ‘ello….been to a party have we?”

Burt wound his window down and tried to act sober.

Barry also wound his window down and waved a bottle of Pomagne out, offering it to the Policemen jovially.

That didn’t help the situation one little bit.

“Can you all step out of the vehicle please.” The policeman wasn’t in a jovial mood, having to do the worst night of the week.

The inebriated gang of party goers tumbled out of the car into the cold night air, grumbling and arguing, they were so close to home as well!

“How many drink have you had this evening Sir?”

Burt honestly had no idea, he was an old sailor and counting was for wimps or the army.

“Just blow into this for me Sir…until I say stop.”

“I’ve had 15 bottles….Happy New Year.” slurred Barry as he clumsily stumbled over grabbing the policeman sleeve while still tightly holding onto the open bottle with the other hand.

“Want a swig?” he kindly proffered before swinging around and staggering over to the car.

Meanwhile the girls had cornered the fresh faced young constable, being new to the beat, he’d been allocated tonights duty ‘for experience’ purposes.

“Oh, you’re so young?”

“…and handsome.”

“Can I try on your helmet, oh isn’t it heavy?”

“Let’s feel your muscles….what a big boy!”

“Madam!” he shrieked, “Remove your hand at once.”

As the ladies drunkenly tussled over the helmet this suddenly without warning escalated into a full on cat fight.

All was all becoming too much for poor Barry as his head spun with the still flashing lights and screaming, not to mention the evenings mixture of beer, cocktails and Pomagne.

“Man down.” Burt shouted as he grabbed Barry just in time, the girls immediately forgot their squabble and rushed to help their fallen comrade.

“Right, you’re all nicked, down the station with you.”

The girls wailed and used some very foul language indeed, even Burt was shocked.

It wasn’t long until they were all under the fierce unforgiving fluorescent lights of the Police station, slightly swaying as they steadied each other, Sindy and Barbie listened to the officer recount their recent behaviour.

Shamefaced they realised there would be consequences, Sindy’s mother would be informed, they may even be mentioned in the local newspaper.

Tears welled but to no avail.

‘And what have you got to say for yourself, my good man?”

Burt was getting his turn, he knew by past experience to not say anything, he didn’t want any more trouble than he was already in.

Barry was surprisingly still standing, although not very steadily.

The misdemeanours were listed aloud as Burt listened silently, wishing they’d booked a taxi but it was too late for ifs and buts.

Barry could contain himself no more and made full use of the complementary police issue bucket, much to the disgust of the young Police constable, who almost gagged along with him.

“With the breathalyser result as well as your statement, I have no other option than to charge you, but being your first offence in this county the court may be lenient.

Burt, you’ve let us all down.

Burt – charged with being drunk in charge of a vehicle and speeding.

Barry – charged with being drunk and disorderly and vomiting on a Police officer.

Barbie – charged with sexual assault of a Police officer and disorderly conduct.

Sindy – Disorderly conduct

Happy New Year

A fool learns by their own mistakes and wise man learns by others – Don’t Drink and Drive.

©Juliette Dodd 2020

Old Year – part 1

The end of another year, Burt reflected on all his past adventures as he travelled back from an emotional London trip, visiting the old family. This was the first Christmas he didn’t have a lady companion around for a very long time.

He had tried to get into the festive spirit but there was only one kind that warmed his lonely heart tonight.

Meanwhile at Sindy’s house, she’d woken up especially early to get the sprouts on before Barry came round for Christmas dinner. Everything was prepared, Sindy was very organised and wanted to impress her boyfriend with her culinary skills.

Barry duly arrived bringing gifts and became very excited at the prospect of carving the turkey: he really wanted to impress Sindy with his manly knife skills.

“Oh Barry.” Sindy was certainly impressed ( and maybe even a little scared) as he brandished the sharpened blade before deftly slicing the (slightly dry) breast, brushing away the turkey crumbs until he had quite a few almost whole slices to display.

Barry tried hard to disguise his look of sheer repulsion at Sindy’s slightly brown coloured greens, he wasn’t quite sure what vegetable they were originally but hoped the gravy will help.

Meanwhile in another part of town, Max and Barbie were breaking up, tensions were fraught and emotions were heightened by the pre luncheon alcohol consumption.

He didn’t get her the gift she had been hinting heavily at the last month and she was too spoilt and selfish (apparently!)

Christmas was over

Just before the old year ended there was one last chance to grab a bit of happiness and that was at the New Years Eve party.

Barry sang in the shower as he splashed on his new Christmas aftershave, it wasn’t quite ‘The best a man can get’ or even the one that ‘Drives women wild’, not the ‘Mark of a Man’ because Barry is a man who doesn’t have to try too hard.

The party was swinging

Music and dancing as the revellers toasted each other and the New Year.

Barry’s brother Neville surprised everyone by bringing his saxophone for some mellow jazz.

An impromptu accompaniment from Tom’s acoustic guitar; he always had a few adoring groupies, being very popular with the alternative ladies.

Not to be outdone, Burt got his horn out, he couldn’t resist showing what a real man could do.

Catching the eye (and ear) of a lonely love sick lady who was a teeny bit drunk already, steamy suggestive glances were exchanged.

As the evening progressed more toasts where made, Ken and his Hair salon girls turned up late, better late than never Barry toasted, even though he didn’t particularly like Ken, it was New Years after all!

The room stopped chattering as Stacey loudly marched in with a serious drum roll as the clock struck 12 to jubilant shouts and whoops from the excited revellers.

“Happy New Year!” Burt was the first to grab the two willowy girls for a big bear hug and copious kisses, always an opportunist, he was being greedy.

Mindy ( Sindy’s best friend) had her date all sorted, she hadn’t let him out of sight all evening as the rumour Barbie was single was scary enough to take drastic precautions.

“Happy New Year!” Barry and Sindy toasted each other, then the rest of the room as the drunken happiness spread to everyone for the first of January had begun.

Stacey kept on banging that drum as she marched off first footing down the road, her Scottish tradition to spread luck and prosperity as well as a few more drinkies on route (this party was nearly dry!)

To be continued in – New Year – part 2

©Juliette Dodd 2020

SHIP WRECK

Barry’s big brother Neville had been staying over for a few nights but he was beginning to feel restless and confined, preferring open spaces and seeing the stars than four walls and a ceiling

His constant pacing around like a caged animal was beginning to get on Barry’s nerves, even when he was quiet, he wasn’t – forever sniffing, coughing and mumbling to himself.

“Come on Nev, lets go down the pub?”

“Ok, thats a good plan Baz…but I’m a bit short at the moment.” As he emptied his pockets, 15p and half a pack of dusty Woodbines tumbled out.

“My shout, you can owe me one.” Barry said knowing that may not happen for a long while.

“I’ll try and get you on the bins with me, we’re a lad down since Arthurs accident.”

“Cheers.” Although Neville was hoping for a musical related job rather than hard graft.

In the back bar of ‘The Jolly Sailor’ sat Burt quietly mulling over the remnants of his last pint, he perked up when the boys burst in.

“Two pints of Best, Cheryl….and a pint for my mate Burt” Barry was feeling generous, it was the day after payday and he still had a wad in his pocket.

Burt, Barry and Neville toasted each other, awkwardly the conversations started then stumbled as Neville was only giving one word answers, eventually Barry asked Burt a leading question to rev up his storytelling yarns.

“Have you ever been shipwrecked Burt?”

“Have I ever….it was late summer when a freak storm hit our boat….”

*FLASHBACK CAMERA WOBBLES*

As the salty sea waves crashed over the crude raft, a recumbent figure was drenched for the umpteenth time. Not a flicker of life was to be seen as the sea birds circled above hoping for a tasty titbit.

Dawn had broken revealing a calm horizon after the furious tempest that raged all last night.

Burt was lying unconscious, as the raft was gently carried on the prevailing tides, he had no idea how long he’d drifted; only aware of his gnawing hunger and overwhelming fatigue as each day gradually became night.

As if in the far distance, the familiar sea sounds drastically changed as he fell in and out of consciousness, the waves became louder as they rhythmically pummelled the soft yielding sand and withdrew fulfilled swirling spume and shingle until the next one rushed in.

Over the beach the girls playfully chased and dodged each other while they enjoyed the first day of their weekend break.

Giggling and splashing along the shoreline in the soft sand and shallow warm waters, they stopped in their tracks at the strange sight; half scared and half inquisitive the girls approached the raft, desperately hoping not to see a gruesome sight.

“Is he dead?”

“How should I know, poke him.”

“No you poke him”

The recumbent figure didn’t look dead, just very wet and a bit sunburnt, as the girls argued about what to do now, whether to call the police or coastguard?

His head felt heavy and was throbbing incessantly, the high pitched sounds pierced his eardrums as Burt gradually came to with a grunt.

The noise continued as the girls squealed their surprise at his sudden movement.

“Oh my gosh, he’s alive!”

“Are you alright?”

“No,” grunted Burt hoarsely, he suddenly became aware of how thirsty he was, his mouth was drier than a crisp packet.

All Burt could see was a lithe pair of firm tanned female thighs.

‘Am I in Heaven?’ He blinked tightly and tried to focus again.

“Oh you poor thing.”

“Let us help you.”

Burt was so weak and his legs were wobbly, between both the strong strapping girls they managed to support his manly form and slowly he limped back to their beach encampment.

Stacey was quietly reading her book when she spied her friends returning.

“What the devil! You girls are fast worker.” She chuckled, thinking at first Burt was drunk.

“We saved him!”

“Yes, he would have died if we hadn’t have rescued him.”They seemed very pleased with themselves, although Burt was close to collapsing again.

” Wat – er… water.” He whispered weakly.

“Oh dear, we’ve only got beer and some bottles of Lambrini.”

Then Burt knew he really had died and this was his heaven. Glugging down a small bottle of beer, then another and another to quench his incessant thirst was the last thing he remembered.

“Aw, he’s gone to sleep and we don’t even know his name.”

“He must have an exciting tale to tell, wonder where he comes from?”

“Do you think he’s a natural blonde, lets check?”

“Barbie! Leave him alone.”

Burt suddenly sat bolt upright and alert,

“Where am I? How did I get here?”

“We were going to ask you that.”

“…and where is my shirt?” Barbie just tittered while she rubbed sun lotion into his arms and back, “Oh what firm muscles you have.”

” …and that’s how I first met Stacey.”

“What happed then?” Barry was curious, Neville was silent.

“Er, well that’s the tricky part.” Burt explained, “I was reported as missing presumed dead…and I still am where the official records are concerned.”

“Oh!”

“Bit like me, under the radar.” Muttered Neville, more to himself than a general statement.

©Juliette Dodd 2019

BIG BROTHER RETURNS

Barry was up early for his new job on the bins, he’d been doing it for a few weeks, pushing the intensive pain barrier to the limit and at his peak fitness level. Barry actually quite enjoyed the camaraderie with the other lads, it was almost like being in the army again.

Early starts and early finishes, he was usually done by lunch time with the rest of the day his own.

“You do the odds, I’ll get the evens.” Bernie nodded and winked, Barry wasn’t sure what that was about but did as he was told.

Numbers 67 and 69 had really long drive ways and both were uphill.

“The jammy sod!’ muttered Barry as he had to carry the heavy bins further to the dust cart.

The gravel was slippery and he stumbled…crash! Bang! Rattle!

“Bugger! What a mess.” He cursed as the contents spilled out.

Following the bin mens code he made the drive tidy, Christmas bonuses were a serious perk of this job.

Number 69, the big red house on the hill.

“Excuse me…wait.” The lady called from the open door as he examined the bin and its unusually heavy contents.

Waving another empty bottle she shimmied over to Barry.

“I forgot to throw this in.”

“Been having a party then?” He commented, luckily Barry was fit and strong as this bin was full of clanking glass.

“Oh, just one of my soirées.” She laughed, gazing at him in an appraising way, studying his form as you would a prize race horse.

Barry couldn’t but help notice she wasn’t wearing very much and her tiny negligee was practically see through; feeling flustered, he clattered the bin lid down loudly.

“Oh you are SO strong, you must come around one evening and show me your muscles.”

Barry mumbled some incoherent excuse about keeping the others waiting and quickly dragged the bin loudly clanking along the gravel drive.

He wished there were wheels on these things, that would make his job so much easier!

The notorious man eater at Number 69 watched her chosen prey disappear behind the hedge before sheepishly returning her now empty bin and bidding her good day.

“Mmmm…new blood.” She thought lustfully, licking her luscious lips.

The other bin men winked and nudged each other while they waited for Barry to return, they had all been initiated when they first joined the crew.

A couple of hours later Sindy was waiting impatiently in ‘The Jolly Sailor’ pub, Barry was usually here by now, ‘What could be keeping him?’ she wondered.

The pub door swung open with a bang and a whistle as Barry swaggered in still in his work gear and looking a bit hot under the collar; Sindy beckoned impatiently from the bar, making it obvious she was annoyed he was late.

“What do you want Barry dear, your usual?”

He nodded.

“You haven’t changed clothes?” She wrinkled her pretty nose as if there was a nasty smell (which may have been partially true)

“We had er…delays this morning.” Was all he replied, there was really no need to explain, what she didn’t know would mean a quiet life for him.

Barry scanned the pub which was busy for a weekday afternoon, he nodded to Burt at the other end of the bar, deep in conversation with…what was her name again, that redhead he was knocking around with?

Casey or Stacy, something like that.

Then there was that Ken with another one, drinking cocktails and giggling by the dartboard.

Barry wasn’t a fan, he couldn’t work out what all the girls saw in Ken, apart from being a hairdresser and liking fashion and musicals.

The street door opened quietly.

Carrying his heavy case and looking hot and tired, a stranger entered the cool pub, he seemed road weary as his thirsty eyes sought the draught beer selection while licking his lips in anticipation.

It was almost the same look that Ken and his companion gave this handsome bearded stranger, they instantly stopped gossiping and relished his full manly physique from his worn out walking boots to battered cowboy hat (and all the bits in between)

One nudged the other to talk to him first, while the stranger was busy relieving himself of his heavy load unaware he was the object of their attention.

Catching the barmaids eye, he nudged between the customers to lean in thirstily requesting,

“A pint of best, please Miss.”

Barry immediately recognised his voice and spun around in shocked disbelief.

“NEV!”

“BAZ!”

“When?… What?….Where have you…? It’s been years!” Barry could hardly contain his shock and surprised questions blurted out.

“It’s a long story little brother.” replied Neville with a deep sigh. “I’m back now and its good to see you.”

The emotional reunion was almost too much for Barry, the brothers grappled and hugged, no words could describe all the feelings that overwhelmed them.

Sindy stood open mouthed at the sight of her recent hitch hiker…no wonder he looked so familiar!

Burt remembered Barry mention his wayward older brother who disappeared a long time ago, no denying they certainly looked like brothers.

Ken and his chum exchanged knowing glances with pursed lips, nods and cheeky winks.

“But where have you been?”

“All over the place Barry, just back from America, its crazy out there.”

“How long are you here for? You must stay with me.”

“Yes sure, it’s good to be back, at least this town never changes.”

Burt remembered the old rumours about Neville and wondered if that was how he got his nickname ‘Neville the Devil’?

“You stink little brother!” Neville got a pungent whiff of Barry’s recent occupational residue.

“You’re a bit ripe yourself, Nev.” Laughed Barry as the brothers hugged again smiling.

“Beer!”

“Cheers.”

Sindy coughed delicately so as not to be forgotten.

“Ah, this is my best girl, Sindy.” Barry introduced.

“We’ve already met.” She replied smugly as Neville nodded.

“How do again and thanks for the lift.” he winked at Barry, “You lucky boy.”

This made both Sindy and Barry smile, soon enough it was drinks all round and loud chatting with so many years to catch up on.

But why did he go?

We will have to wait to find out.

©Juliette Dodd 2019

JUNGLE TALES

Burt was having a friend for a sleepover, while they laughed and relaxed in his Trophy room, Stacey sipped her scotch and looked around this intensely masculine space.

Filled with trinkets and souvenirs from Burt’s extensive travels, she laughed at the funny looking hat slung up on some stag antlers and asked to try it on.

“Ahh, my old Pith Helmet.” Burt exclaimed fondly,

“It’s for keeping your head cool in hot climates.”

“Tell me a story Burt.” Stacey knew exactly how to press his buttons, her quiet and reserved companion would once again become a man of action and adventure when recalling his past deeds.

“Well that was a few years ago now, deep in the African Congo, just before the rains….”

Burt smiled as he recalled the oppressive humidity as well as the sounds of the jungle.

Although mainly prickly and uncomfortable, if his memory was correct, there was nothing cosy in that intense warm wetness and he had immediately regretted taking on his one man mission. He’d either pulled the short straw or had drunkenly volunteered, he’d forgotten exactly how he got here but…. duty called.

Burt wasn’t even a hundred yards inside the lush jungle, there was no way he’d back out now and lose face amongst his fellow explorers; the crack team of experts sent by the Royal Society were renown throughout the world for their excellence and endurance. Every uncharted inch of the Globe had been searched except this one, Burt had a lot of eyes watching his progress – at this exact moment, none of them human.

Strange noises and rustlings high in the canopy unnerved Burt, he hadn’t come very well armed as this was a scientific mission; all his senses were hyper alert, including his imagination, making every branch look like a deadly snake.

Surrounded by weird and exotic flowers that reminded him of toilet brushes and parrots beaks, he suddenly realised how ill prepared he was for this foray, he had no idea what was poisonous or deadly so tried not to touch any of them.

The heady smell of scented perfume, almost intoxicating, wafted through the air and what at first looked like snow was actually a carpet of fallen blooms on the dank jungle floor; as he peered down millions of ants were busy amongst the flowers so the whole place writhed with life.

His heart was pumping now in excitement as he rushed up to…oh its just some flowers, crestfallen Burt carried on his seemingly endless march, careful not to pick up any unwanted passengers, aiming towards the bright light ahead.

Under his helmet was sweaty and a bit itchy as he stopped to brushed off some stray ants,

‘The little buggers bite too!’

Loud bird calls filled the jungle with eerie sounds, some seemed quite close although he couldn’t see any, this was beginning to feel a bit oppressive.

Were they birds or was something more sinister following his trail?

An open mind was needed for this adventure, brave Burt thought nothing could phase him but this tree shook the bejeebers out of his very core.

“Blooming’ heck.” he muttered, quickly side stepping a squirming mass of slimy black snakes.

‘Just roots!’

The whole tree was as rough and unholy as Satan’s tail, he quickly marched on towards a open clearing leaving the evil squawks echoing in the heavy darkness behind him.

“Oh my Burt, you are so brave, I would have been terrified.” His pretty companion shuddered at the thought of all those creepy crawlies.

As she refilled his glass, the tale continued….

“I had no idea how long that jungle trek had taken, an hour or an afternoon, time is different in Africa.”

“Oh gosh, what happened next?”

“But I did know I was getting close as all these giant carnivorous plants surrounded the clearing, like Triffids waiting to pounce.” He said, mainly for effect as she grabbed his hand in suspense.

It must have been the perfect time because the whole clearing was filled with vermillion butterflies flittering in the air; leading Burt a merry dance to capture one, he dashed to and fro, tripping and swishing his net furiously.

Success at last, a fine specimen was captured with only a small amount of swearing; although beautiful, this species wasn’t his mission, he couldn’t go back until he’d caught the holy grail of Lepidopterology.

With biting gnats and rogue ants invading his boots as well as soggy socks and blisters, all things African were taking their toll on his morale; not to be defeated Burt mustered his deep reserve of endurance and got back to the task at hand.

There it was, the Brenton Blue, one of the rarest butterflies in the world, Burt had only ever seen drawings of it but it was unmistakable by the incredible electric blue colour.

This wasn’t as easy as he’d imagined for as soon as it landed and closed its wings the creature seemed to totally disappear; Burt furtively ran around and around until he was completely puffed out.

Heat and thirst tried in vain to beat him but sheer determination drove him on.

Mustering up his last reserve of energy, egged on with the thought of fame and fortune, nothing would stop him.

Standing as still as he could in the clearing, camouflaged except for his net, held at half mast, softly softly catchee Monkey ( or in this case, butterfly)

“Get in there you little bugger.” Muttered the victorious hunter rapturously.

Either the icing on the cake or taking the Micky – depending on whether you are an optimist or a pessimist, Burt was just gobsmacked.

No matter what he did they just wouldn’t leave him alone,

‘And I thought these were supposed to be rare?’ He muttered while collecting a few more specimens.

“Wow thats incredible, what happened then?”

“One of them was a strange new sub species, it was bigger than the rest so they named it after me – the Blue Burt – look here.”

“I love your tall stories Burt, lets go to bed…. and bring the pith helmet!”

©Juliette Dodd 2019

BIG BROTHER

Its been a long day walking many, many miles in the summer heat, Neville had forgotten what is was like back in England after all the places he’d visited.

He couldn’t even remember what year he’d left, it was just after the tragic events when he was discharged from the forces, something must have tripped his brain….or was it the drugs?

He finally stopped for a rest and the music was on him in an instant, whipping out his guitar he sang his lonesome tune to the hedgerow ….releasing his blue desperation to the birds and buzzing things.

“Woke up this morning…fried egg on my plate…my woman had left me ….”

Neville had spent quite a while in the deep South, amongst his travels he’d picked up many a riff and loved to mix and match.

He was just a slave to the rhythm,

“Play that funky music, hey boy…play it till you die..”

Neville had been in many, many bands but he wasn’t really a people person or even a team player, he just couldn’t mix well with others although he didn’t really try, was always on the move and drifting.

This time he’d had an urge to visit his source, his hometown and he was on a mission to make amends with the past, no matter what.

The distant sound of a car approaching perked him up.

Sindy was visiting her old Auntie in the country, it was such a lovely day for a drive out; her boyfriend Barry had got a new job but he was always tired or working so she jumped at the offer of lunch out to relieve the boredom.

‘Best thumb forward’ was his motto for today, Neville lived in hope although more than likely they drove on by, only the odd trucker stopped but now he was on some God forsaken ‘B’ road or maybe even a ‘C’ road, if there was such a thing?

Lunch was boiled eggs and lettuce, Sindy wasn’t impressed and made her excuses as quickly as she could while promising Auntie to call back soon and bring her lovely young man for a visit.

She was still cross the little buggers in her street had pulled her wing mirrors off,

‘ I know I didn’t use them but they were handy for checking out who was looking at me.’

” A car…here goes” Neville put on his ‘I’m a cool guy’ look, although in reality, he was rather hot and bothered and fancied a pint. He had no idea how far away he was from his destination, especially as he hadn’t got a map.

Sindy was bored and he really did look such a soulful figure standing by the roadside in the middle of nowhere.

‘A Musician too by the looks’, she thought as she slowed down to get a better view.

Sindy was known to drive off quickly if she thought the hitchhikers would be smelly but this time she stopped her car.

“Where are you heading?” She called through the open window.

“The next town, Miss.”

“Hop in then.” She commanded rather than offered.

“Cheers.”

She gazed questioningly at Neville’s slightly weathered but so familiar face, it was on the tip of her tongue where she knew him from but she just couldn’t place him.

“Are you local?” Sindy asked this handsome stranger.

“I used to be, a long time ago.” He answered wistfully.

” Oh…it’s just you look so …. I’m sure I know you?”

“Nope, never met you before Miss, I’ve been away… travelling, probably near on ten years now.”

“Jump in, I haven’t got all day.” It was bugging her now, where did she know him from?

With a heave and a ho, Neville loaded the back seat with his belongings while Sindy revved the engine impatiently.

” Thanks Miss.”

“So what brings you to these parts?” Sindy was fishing for clues, she liked the cut of his jib plus he must be a sensitive soul as he was obviously musical.

“Are you in a band? Do you write your own songs?” Questions, questions and he hadn’t even shut the car door yet!

“I’m in search of my muse.”

Oh Sindy loved the thought of him being so deep and mystical, oh what piercing blue eyes, oh…oh..she’d suddenly come over all unmentionable!

“I do hope you find her.” She answered almost bashfully.

“I will.”

To be continued very soon..

©Juliette Dodd 2019

A Few Dollies More

Burt was staying in lodgings at the very respectable Guest House run by Miss Sindy.

Stiff Men’s Creek wasn’t all rough and uncouth, it’s very religious Towns Women Guild was growing in numbers with new members joining almost daily; the word had spread fast it was a safe haven for ladies who had once fallen.

With a tasty portion of cow pie on his plate Burt could hardly wait to begin.

“Not before you say Grace Mr Burt, this is a God fearing household” Miss Sindy chastised her guest piously.

Miss Belinda also lodged here, she’d paid in gold four months in advance, no questions asked, Miss Sindy was very discrete.

“Do you get many male guests? He asked as he drunk his second cup of coffee.

“Not really only you, all the men head straight for that house of shame across the street, next to the Saloon.” She tutted at its very existence.

Burt wanted to track down the whereabouts of an evil Bandit called ‘The Butcher’, some deeper investigation was needed.

In the cool of the Saloon bar, amid the company of the rough and ready towns men, Burt joined in a friendly card game.

Murray Steel eyed this newcomer with suspicion,

“We don’t want no trouble makers around her…I mean here.” He was a very jealous man and knew where Burt was staying.

“I’m just a passing through buddy, on my way to find me a fortune.”

They all laughed at their shared common goal, every man wanted a fortune, whatever it took.

There was a sudden silence at the bar followed by hushed worried voices.

“Mutter mutter…bandit…mutter…just arrived…mutter…in town…”

“The Butcher!” squealed Cowboy Ken loudly as the others shushed him quickly by slapping his hand.

Tension was rising as their game was reaching its climax, gradually the stakes were raised waiting for the cards to be turned.

Burt was being reckless and bid all his hard earned cash on this last hand, he had an inkling he might be coming into some fresh funds pretty soon.

“Four Aces does it …thank you boys.” Fanning out his winning cards on the table, Burt was quietly pleased at this unexpected bonus.

Just then the doorway darkened as a large figure loomed briefly, a pair of dark squinting eyes surveyed the motley customers within, seemingly satisfied he moved on letting a stream of sunlight pierce the gloom.

As his heavy foot steps headed off next door, the scared whispers at the bar got louder; Burt cooly collected his winnings and bid ‘Good day’ to his fellow gamblers.

Barry had gone back to meet his prospective father-in-law Chief Howlin’ Wolf, to tell the truth Burt preferred working alone, especially as Barry was so drunk and miserable.

Next door to the busy Saloon on the only street in Stiff Men’s Creek was the infamous house of Sin, Madame Barbie’s Bawdy Bordello; with its plush furnishings and comely companions, this was the most popular place in town.

A tall dark, heavily built figure loitered impatiently in the lobby.

‘”Come on lover, I’m worth more than that, especially after what I just did to you…none of the other girls would!” Mad Kate hustled her John.

“Why did you throw my boot outa the window, you silly mare?”

Mad Kate didn’t get her nickname for nothing.

Madame Barbie’s best girls were on hand to tempt this big burly stranger and relieve him of his heavy coin pouch.

One wanton harlot flashed her knees in a bid to get his exclusive attention, he uttered a low long animalistic growl at the sight of her shapely and sleek legs.

Mad Kate promised him some of her special sticky peachy fun as she wafted a jar of preserves around in a titillating way.

He grunted and shook his head, no way, not after the last time when she did the chilli pepper trick.

Mad Kate would go too far even for this mean Bandit.

While they disappeared into the back room, Mad Kate leisurely supped from a bottle of the best while humming a popular Music hall ditty,

“A little bit of what you fancy does you goooood…”

Then she rubbed honey inside his hat ( the nutty tart!)

Later that day, on the outskirts of the strangely sedate town of Stiff Men’s Creek, at the very edge of the arid desert, two hard nosed adversaries eyeballed each other next to a long dead tree.

No one could miss ‘The Butcher’ with his distinctive hat and unfortunate flatulence problem, as he stood his ground against this new antagonist, lots of flies and bees seemed to be drawn to him too, not to mention ants.

Being on the ‘Most Wanted’ list was becoming a bit of a pain, forever on the move with young bucks trying their luck to claim the bounty price on his head.

“What do you want Gringo?”

“I want you to come with me to the Sheriff’s office.” That was a simple answer to the question.

“Why would I do that Gringo, do I look like a fool hahaha?”

“No Mister, you look like one hundred thousand dollars!”

“Go to hell.” He shouted back, spitting out a big lump of chewing baccy and puffing out his chest in a show of masculine dominance.

“Dead or alive the poster said, you choose your own fate.”

It was all over quicker than a hummingbird’s poop, two gunshots echoed through the gully and only one man stood tall.

“Bugger!” Muttered Burt, who had only mean to aim for his leg.

‘Now I’ve gotta get his big ol’ carcass back to town before the coyotes and buzzards come to feed.’ Burt’s annoyance was only quelled by the thought of the massive reward money.

THE END

“Cut!”

“It’s a wrap folks, see you all at the premier.” Called the Director, sweating under the hot sun, “May you all get an Oscar darlings.”

Burt gave Butch a hand up,

“I’m parched!”

“Yoo Hoo, boys.” Waving seductively from a short distance off set were the delicious twins Mali and Boo.

“We thought you’d never get that last bit right, 15 takes to fall down, Butchy baby you are a one!” They chaffed, giggling.

“Haha, thank goodness it was sand else my ass would be black n’ Blue.”

“We’ve been trying to keep the cocktails cold.”

“Cheers everyone”

( You must know by now I don’t do nasty stories!)

©Juliette Dodd 2019

A Fistful of Dollies

Big Gun Barry was in love, his wild and roaming heart had been skilfully lassoed by the charms of Big Chief Howling Wolf’s twin daughters ( Big Gun Barry wasn’t fussed which sister he married to tell the whole truth y’all!)

After many a Pow Wow and quite a lot of liquid fire water persuasion followed by some serious sessions on the peace pipe, Big Gun Barry had agreed to become a Brave; the only way the Chief would let him marry his beloved daughter(s)

Once the initiation period was over the wedding ceremony would commence, in three moons time – on the condition of a large dowry payment of course; daughters were a precious commodity.

Big Gun Barry was, as usual, broke.

Pretty Pocaharder was eager for the sacred matrimonial ceremony, Pocalonger couldn’t wait for the nuptials.

Big Gun Barry was beside himself with frustration, he needed some mega bucks and fast.

Time to seek out his old partner.

The man with one name ~ BURT

The deadliest and quietest gunslinger in the West.

“Beautiful mornin’ Ladies.” Always the perfect gentleman, Burt doffed his hat to the respectable towns women of this busy trading outpost called Stiff Men’s Creek.

Half way between the plains and the Mountains and not too far from the desert, this far flung ramshackle town was always full of roaming settlers, prospectors and sometimes even outlaws!

Barry had to drop his rootin’ tooting’ cowboy name and take on a new tribal one (it was part of his initiation)

He wasn’t very happy to be re-Christened ‘Little Gecko,’ it just didn’t have the same connotations but it was the first animal to be seen at the naming ceremony, so be it.

“If that’s what you want?” Burt was a bit surprised at how far Barry would go to get a bride (or two).

“Yeah, but I still need to make some big dollars quick, any ideas Burt?”

“We’ll have to go back to Bounty hunting ‘cos I know you hate mining.”

The God fearing Church going ladies were chatting loudly about the gallery of villains on all the ‘Wanted’ posters, so very ugly, what awful crimes and how they should find redemption if they only saw the light and mended their thieving ways.

“Why, I do believe you’re not a real Injun?” One lady questioned Barry who was busy trying to find the bottom of the bottle.

He just growled his annoyance, he wasn’t a happy Barry!

‘What is the New World coming to?’ thought Burt, as he saw so many females on the posters, Pear Heart, Della Rose, he was sure he’d had a dalliance with at least one of these naughty ladies.

‘Belle Starr!’ Burt whistled at the $750 reward, she sure looked familiar!

“She’d sort our finances out a treat.” He quietly folded up her poster for later viewing.

In his despondent stupor Barry wasn’t convinced, he had a double dowry to find; Burt thought he was just being a little bit greedy.

“This is more like it, $100,000 for ‘The Butcher’, what a nasty piece of work, I’ve heard all the terrible tales about him.” Barry needed big funds and quickly.

He longingly thought of affording a third bride to rub his feet while the twins were tending his other areas.

Naughty Barry!

“Good afternoon Miss.” Greeted Burt as the very prim but very pretty School Teacher walked past; Barry was too lost in his own personal bourbon fuelled fantasy to notice.

The school house was right next to the Church, although mostly empty as this town had no children at present.

As he sat drinking coffee and studying the poster it suddenly clicked, Burt was sure he knew the teacher’s friend, she looked a little too familiar but he just couldn’t place where from.

He now recalled she used to have dark haired, although that was a very bad picture of her and it was a while ago back in Frisco.

Meanwhile in a secluded stable behind the school house, the stealthy figure of Murray Steel was silently saddling up a fresh steed.

( Tongue twister, the faster the better)

Murray was her willing slave, he adored his Mistress more than words could say, he would do anything she asked.

Love is the only motive.

Dressed in matching jeans and shirts, her real identity heavily shielded, this mysterious and deadly female was on a mission to rob the next stage coach before it even reached Stiff Men’s Creek.

Gold and plenty of it, the only real commodity way out in the wild West; you could buy a thousand acres, you could buy a whole town, no one messes with the highest payer.

“Be careful Belle.” Murray called as she galloped off through the sparse trees.

He would take the rap for her, thats how much he loved that wicked, wicked lady.

Burt turned a blind eye at the School house stables when a very fast horse and rider swiftly dismounted inside the gloom, he wasn’t a vindictive man and Belle had been mighty kind to him when they were ‘friends.’

A short while later that same day, two very respectable Church going Ladies walked along the empty one street town towards the deserted school house.

“Careful Belinda, I hear footsteps.” Alerted the School teacher to her companion.

They began loudly singing hymns to cover the chink chink of gold coins.

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me….”

“Good day to ya.” Greeted the rough handed cowboys.

“May the good Lord be with you boys.”

“I once was lost but now I’m found….”

“..was blind but now I see….”

And the school house door slammed shut.

….To be continued…..

©Juliette Dodd 2019