Chapter 14. Fallen Angel

“How could this be!” I said. “I thought he had a broken leg and a few bruises? Was it a blood clot or something? Were there undiagnosed internal injuries? Did he have an aneurysm?”
“No, none of those things,” howled Flo, down the phone. “Please get over here Eva, I don't know what to do! I'll tell you the whole appalling story then.”
Well, needless to say, within a quarter of an hour I was knocking on Flo's door.
As I was standing there, waiting for Flo to let me in, I couldn't help observing her monstrous new water feature.
“I thought you said it had two angels?” I questioned, as she led me through into the kitchen.
“Sorry, Eva, what's got, two angels?”
“The water feature, you said it had two angels. I can only see one and it looks as if it is missing something. Has a jealous neighbour or someone vandalised it? I know it's hardly important right now, I'm just curious that's all. I mean, if they have. that's pretty disgusting after all you have recently been through!”
“It was Harvey, Eva, that's the thing, he fell head first onto the angels.”
“You sit down there Flo,” I instructed, motioning to the dining room table, “and then tell me everything, I shall pour us both a nice brandy, goodness knows we need it! This is all so awful! I'm very confused. How did Harvey end up falling head first onto the angels?”
Flo then went on the explain the whole series of tragic events.
“You know I told you that Harvey had taken up smoking again. Well, I just won't have smoking in the house, disgusting habit, and those plug-ins don't mask that horrible stale smell. Anyway, if Harvey needed a smoke he would hobble out into the garden on his crutches for a quick roll up, every now and then. I said to him, when he grumbled about being turfed out into the cold, stop moaning, a breath of fresh air will do you good. Oh Eva, It was all so dreadful! I saw the whole thing from the window. There was Harvey, he had just about made it over to the water feature, where he liked to have his cigarette when Nelson shot in front of him. He'd obviously seen a bird or a mouse or something. Anyway, Harvey lost his balance, both of the crutches, and then he just collapsed forward with nothing to break his fall except the hard stone of the angel carvings. I ran out to the garden and found Harvey face down in the bottom tier of the fountain. At that point, I was simply worried that he might drown. Never could I have believed that the fall would prove so instantly fatal! When I tuned Harvey over, I at first assumed that he was unconscious. After a few minutes of slapping his face, I realised that something was very wrong and the fall had killed him. Harvey was dead!
Flo started sobbing uncontrollably at this point in the tale and it took nearly half an hour before she could coherently continue with the briefing.
Then, as I sat there sobbing Nelson, came rushing back over with a bird in his mouth and dropped it on Harvey's chest, no doubt, expecting praise for his hunting prowess. I ran back into the house and telephoned for an ambulance. They arrived within ten minutes, although it felt like hours. I was in such a state of shock. The paramedics told me that Harvey would have died instantly, as if that's any conciliation.”
That night, I stayed at Flo's house.
My main duty was to hold her hand while she cried until dehydration set in and she could cry no more.
Then Flo started to reminisce for a while about Harvey's various (in her mind), endearing habits.
How he always burnt the toast because he liked it that way and every morning she walked into a kitchen clouded with smoke.
How he could never resist telling you the end of a film five minutes before it ended, if he'd seen it before, but you hadn't.
How he would sit, right there, where I was sitting right now, and cut his toenails while she was cooking, even though she'd always get quite angry about it and once one flew into a leek and potato soup she was making.
Somehow, these once rather annoying habits had now become the fodder for endearing recollections. They were Harvey's unique oddities and made Harvey the larger than life character he had been, to Flo.
“He was very superstitious, Eva,” she said.
“One being, that if you were to drop a fork on the floor, you should never pick it up, and would have to ask someone else to do it for you, or it would be very bad luck.”
I thought, Spats does that anyway, but not out of superstitions. Was Harvey actually smarter than I thought? Maybe I should adopt some superstitions myself.
Tell Spats that I believe it's bad luck to pick men's socks up off the floor or allow there to be more than two correspondent shoes kicked off under the dining room table at any one time. That three days without a person emptying their ashtray is very unlucky because that person might just get the cigarette stubs tossed on top of their evening meal as a garnish.
Another of Harvey's superstitions was that if you saw two robins at the same time, then that was particularly lucky.
Unfortunately, Flo said that Harvey had never reported such a sighting, so maybe there was something in it.
I wondered whether he had accidentally picked up his own fork recently, while Flo was out at work. If so, maybe that had been the beginning of his untimely end.
Many further tales of this ilk were told until Flo was finally all talked out. The brandy had done its work and she was face down on the table. As Flo was too heavy to be carried upstairs, I dragged her onto the sofa in the conservatory, where she slept until nearly noon of the next day.
Flo's spare room was always ready and made up for visitors, so I crashed out in there. Nelson curled up with me while I slept. At five in the morning, Nelson woke me by clawing at my hair, obviously in need of his breakfast. After opening a can of tuna ( Flo had told me it was his favourite ), I was up and roaming the dining room wondering what to do with myself. Flo's house was always so immaculate, depressingly so, I didn't know what to do with myself. There was a flat screen television attached to the wall in the dining room, so, for want of anything better to do, I turned that on.
The first channel to spring to luminescent life was airing a programme obviously aimed at pre-school children. I quickly turned the sound down for fear of waking Flo, as the noise was deafening. What an insane, fluorescent, psychedelia nightmare, of luminescence colour it was!
Honestly, the screaming, shouting, and absolute mania of the whole show was unbelievable. I couldn't help wondering how mentally healthy all this was for children. No wonder they all behaved so appallingly these days. They were being brought up to believe that acting like chimpanzee's on crack cocaine was the norm. Worse was to come, as I flicked channels.
There was some dodgy looking spiv, quite remarkably, managing to convince an unbelievably gullible audience that he was somehow in touch with their dead relatives. Poor Harvey, I thought, what If all you have to look forward to now is being harassed from the other side by some awful physic you wouldn't normally give the time of day to, pestering you with inane questions. Could this actually be the definition of hell?
Even this show wasn't the ultimate of horrors presented under the guise of entertainment...
There was an audience (who I can only assume must have been bribed or injected with stimulants), watching three selected victims yell about their hatred and suspicions of each other, while at the same time being harangued and shouted at by a man who seemed satanically possessed.
On this particular mornings show, a young man called Ron was insisting that his girlfriend Charlene (who was sitting between him and his mother, on stage), should take a paternity test. He wasn't convinced that Charlene had been entirely faithful and that the infant, whose mother he was now having to pay a proportion of his benefits to, was actually lying about his genetic connection.
Was her newborn boy, instead, the result of an affair between his girlfriend and his mate Rodger? That was the question!
Of course, their vocabulary was far more colourful than the scene I am painting here and I'm surprised that the viewers (should it have any), were up to listening to such vulgar slang quite so early in the day.
What's more, Rodger was going to be thrown into the lion's ring as well. He would be making an appearance after the advertising break! As if that wasn't enough, in the last five minutes of the show someone was going to come out onto the set and reveal the real paternity of baby Gary.
Where's the ambulance and the straight jackets, I thought, this is truly bonkers.
It turned out that it was Ron's baby after all.
You'd think that Ron would have been relieved to hear that he was indeed Gary's proud absent father. Yet, he seemed even angrier than before and stormed off the set yelling words such as slag and hussy in Charlene's direction.
The only one with a smile on his face was Rodger.
The shouty man and the audience seemed subdued and disappointed by the news and I suspect that they might have been rather hoping to see Ron and Rodger tearing each other's throats out.
At this point, I gave up on my foray into early morning TV and decided to make myself a brandy coffee. I needed to calm my nerves after suffering such a visual and mental assault.
Wandering into the living room, I took my drink over to the window where Flo had so recently borne witness to the final series of events that had felled Harvey.
I realised, that although I had known Harvey via Flo for many years now, I hadn't really known him all that well.
He had seemed like a good sort, solid, dependable, worked hard boiling up crab and lobster down at the fish market. Apart from that, he was the kind of man who kept very much to himself. According to Flo, his only real male friend was Sid, who he would meet up with at the 'Yacht and Sails' once or twice a week.
Sid kept chickens and used to give him eggs, over a pint of Hobgoblin Ale.
Flo and Harvey had been together forever, it seemed. Flo and I had been friends since junior school. In fact, Flo, Zoe, Jackie and I had all been firm friends most of our lives. We had fallen out on the odd occasion, especially in our teens, and usually over boys. However, Flo had met Harvey at the school dance when she was just sixteen and they had been together ever since. Engaged by eighteen, married by twenty, no children. I did ask on one occasion whether this was by choice or was it a matter of some sorrow. Flo said that they had just never felt the urge. They were happy in their own space, didn't want the aggravation and had never longed to hear the patter of tiny feet, or listen to demanding screams and the inevitable tantrums that came with having children.
When Flo eventually woke up, she said that for a minute she thought that she had just had an awful nightmare and then the tragic reality came crashing in.
Later that day, once her sister from Bristol had arrived, I decided it was time to go back home.
Flo had no end of arrangements to make, certificates had to be signed, an undertaker needed to be appointed and Harvey's parents and her own, were all coming down to help. Family were stepping in, so I would step away until she needed me again.
I couldn't wait to get home and see Spats. The boutique, however, would remain closed, out of respect.
Flo rang a few days later to tell me when the funeral would be held and asked me to let Zoe and Jackie know.
All relevant family, and a few friends attended. Workmates from the fish market and Sid, of course, who unconventionally, yet rather sweetly, placed a few cockerel feathers and a carton of eggs on his casket.
As funerals go it was a funeral, and it's fair to say that no one had a good time. Afterwards, we all went to the 'Yacht and Sails' to toast Harvey's memory.
Flo had arranged for some mini pasties to be placed on the bar. She hadn't wanted anyone to go back to her house as she knew she would need to be alone by that point.
I gave Flo a hug, as Spats and I left, and told her to ring me anytime, day or night, should she feel the need to do so.
Zoe, Jackie and I decided to meet up for lunch the next day so that we could mull over the implications of this tragedy on our friend Flo.
We all agreed, that when we hailed in the New Year at the Fowl and Feathers, we could never have predicted this outcome for Harvey and Flo.
Then, about four days later Flo telephoned.
“Could you come over Eva? There's something I need you to help me with. Sorry if you are busy in the shop, I just don't know who else to ask really.”

Chapter 15. Operation Fly-tip

Well, never one to neglect a friend in need, I was over there tout suite.
Flo ushered me into the living room and shut the door. I could tell in an instant that something of a top secret nature was about to be revealed.
Flo had an intense and conspiratorial look on her face.
“I've been in the attic,” she whispered, as if anyone else might overhear what she was about to tell me, which they couldn't, as there was just the two of us in the house. “There are so many of them! Piles and piles. Editions going way back. I had no idea!”
“Editions of what Flo?”
“Magazines, Eva, magazines. Probably thousands. They need to be disposed of and I need your help. There is no one else I can trust with this. It's a side to Harvey that no one knew about, not even me! It's all very embarrassing really and I want what I am about to reveal to go no further. I don't want Jackie or Zoe to know. Just telling you seems like a betrayal of my poor dear Harvey, but I can't tackle this situation alone.”
Flo then led me upstairs to the landing.
“Why are we tip-toeing?” I asked.
“I don't know,” replied Flo, “it just seems appropriate to the gravity and secrecy of the whole situation.”
A certain excitement began to well up in me as we stood beneath the pull-down metal stairs that provided access to the attic.
Flo went up first and I followed, unsure of what to expect, but suspecting that I had a pretty fair idea.
Well, who would have thought it?
Flo had not been exaggerating when she said thousands rather than hundreds.
“Christ, so many, they're certainly providing an excellent source of insulation,” I remarked. “Can't have been much heat loss in your house over the years.”
“Where do I begin, Eva?”2
Flo shook her head and let out a loud despairing sigh.
“All these will have to be taken downstairs and somehow disposed of, it's a hell of a job!”
“The best thing to do,” I suggested, “would be to chuck them all down onto the landing and then just burn the lot of them in the back garden.”
“That's no good,” said Flo rather testily.
Seemed like a pretty good idea to me.
“No,” she insisted, “there's a very high chance that the neighbours will see what we are doing, from one of their rear windows. All the smoke is sure to attract their attention. They're a nosy bunch. Also, you know how paper burns. Sometimes some of the unburned paper gets caught up in the wind and blows all over the place. What if scraps of these publications end up raining down all over the neighbourhood. What then?”
I realised that Flo had made a very good point and I could see that I was really going to have to put my thinking cap on.
“What if we bury them at the bottom of the back garden?”
Flo wasn't happy with that idea either.
“There's just too many, Eva, and what if next doors Jack Russell goes and digs some of them up, then takes them home to his owners?”
We realised that we were facing a far more difficult dilemma than we had at first imagined.
Flo suggested purchasing a large office size shredding machine. This seemed a promising idea, for a few brief moments, and then we realised that it was flawed.
There was still too much waste paper to dispose of. The recycling bag wasn't big enough and you would need about ten of them at least.
Once again, I suggested having a bonfire.
“If the magazines were shredded first,” I explained, “then any remains that haven't been quite destroyed by the fire would still be unidentifiable.”
“It would all just look too weird,” insisted Flo. “You and I, standing in the back garden, burning up tonnes of shredded paper. It would look like I was getting rid of some sort of evidence or something, which of course, I am!”
“We could leave them where they are,” I said, “and just put a top-level security lock on the attic door.”
Flo didn't rate this idea at all.
“They will still be up there, Eva, I shall still know, and what if I decide to sell the house.”
We considered the possibility of spending the next few weeks gradually feeding them into the dustbin and making sure that there was a top layer of general rubbish to cover them up in case anyone opened the lid.
Flo, though, was covering every angle and assessing every possibility of exposure.
“Supposing there's a gale, supposing the bin blows over and all its contents end up strewn along the back alley?”
“What if we put them all in the bath,” I said, “leave them soaking in water for a few days, add some wallpaper glue and then turn them into a large papier mache sculpture. We could paint it up and put it in the back garden. Giant dolphin or something. We could tell the neighbours that it is a memorial to Harvey.”
We both realised at this point that we were beginning to lose our grip on reality.
Flo finally concluded that the magazines would need to be removed from the house and out of the local vicinity. They would have to be taken to a dump somewhere several miles away.
“There is still one problem,” I reminded her, “the dumps are only open in the day. It's not as if we can go out under cover of the night. There will still be witnesses and you know what it's like down here in Penswithian. Even if we go several miles away someone who knows one or both of us, is bound to be at the dump. They will see.”
Suddenly we realised that whatever we were to do, doing it after sundown was key.
Then it came to me, the only possible solution.
“We would load all the magazines into the boot and the back seat of my car, drive them out at nightfall to an old empty barn in the middle of nowhere, where they would never be discovered, then leave them there to eventually, hopefully, rather rapidly, decompose.”
Flo thought that this idea was possibly a stroke of pure genius and although normally a modest person, I thought so too.
There was no time to waste, operation 'fly-tip', as we had decided to call it, needed to be undertaken as soon as possible.
“Let's get this done,” I said, “let's get the clean up underway this very evening.”
After an early dinner with Spats, I explained to him that I was going to be out for a few hours on a mission of the utmost secrecy.
“I'm sorry Spats,” I said, “Flo has made me swear to tell no one of what is about to take place. You're not to worry though, neither of us will be in any danger and I will be back well before midnight.”
Spats, I know, would have loved to be part of this adventure. Unfortunately, oaths had been taken and this particular mission was one that I would be required to accomplish tout seul.
As luck would have it, it was an ill-lit night with the moon and stars hidden behind heavy dark rain clouds.
With great caution, because I had turned the car lights off and could hardly see where I was going, I drove Tallulah around to the back alley behind Flo's.
While I had been at home getting ready, Flo had been spending the last few hours chucking all the magazines down from the attic and onto the landing.
Together we then piled them all up in the backyard before transferring them into every available space that Tallulah afforded.
Flo had been planning to take the barn trip with me, then we realised that the front seat would also be required for the removal of these, seemingly endless, volumes.
I would have to go it alone.
Carefully, I pulled away with what was quite a weighty cargo, making sure not to put the headlights on until I had rounded the corner.
As I drove out of town and onto the country roads, my heart was racing. Here I was, all alone on a dark wintry night, heading out to some remote part of the countryside with no back up should the car break down, or if I was to lose my way.
Just before leaving that evening for Flo's house, I had fired up the computer and clicked on Google Maps.
There seemed to be a long lane a few miles out of Penswithian leading to nothing more than a farm and a few outbuildings. This location would be far enough from Flo's and some of the buildings were bound to be empty and derelict.
At one point I thought I saw the eyes of a fox, or maybe a rabbit, I just wasn't sure. Either a bat or a branch hit the windscreen, I couldn't tell, but I kept my nerve, there was no stopping now. My progress was slow due to the additional weight Tallulah was carrying. However, It was not long before I spotted the relevant turn off that would take me down the old dirt track. What a bumpy ride that was, stones and potholes all the way. The narrow lane seemed to go on forever. As I finally reached the cluster of buildings at the end, I could see just one house with lights on. It must have been the farmhouse. This was going to be tricky. Once again, it was vital that I did not draw any attention, the headlights were turned off.
Hardly able to drive in such darkness, I managed to inch forward and pull up outside what was most certainly an empty barn. I turned in and shut off the engine. It was really rather eerie finding myself all alone in such an isolated place and I wished that Spats could have been in on the mission too. Then again, there would have been no room for him in the car anyway.
Unnerved by the sound of a barking farm dog, I moved with as much agility and speed as was possible within the confines of the barn. I had always been nervous of dogs, ever since I was three years old and one had bitten me. Farm dogs, I knew, were particularly vicious creatures, trained to be so by their territorial owners. For half an hour I lay still, just to make sure that the dogs were barking more from stupidity rather than trying to alert their owners to the presence of an intruder.
When all seemed quiet in the farm house and any noise of dogs barking had died down, I started the process of unloading.
It was a long and arduous task. In moments such as this, I was glad that I regularly attended my yoga classes, which had built up my strength and stamina. It's so true, nothing we do in our lives, nothing we learn, goes to waste.
Once the job was finally completed and Tallulah was entirely stripped of her cargo, I wended my way back up the craggy old path and out onto the well-tarmacked road that led back into town.
All evidence that had needed to be unloaded had been unloaded. Mission accomplished!
At this point, I was beginning to feel slightly giddy and light headed from the adrenalin rush.
It was not until I parked Tallulah under the street lights near my house that I noticed a few remaining volumes that had fallen from a sack on the back seat and onto the floor of the car. It had been too dark and I'd not seen them in the unloading. Still, not to worry, I thought, they can go into the shredder, then I'll put them in the bin under all the used cat litter. No one will want to delve under the cat litter to find out what Spats and I have recently discarded.
By the time I had arrived home, it very late, almost midnight. I came in, poured a warming cognac and coffee, and then gave Flo two brief rings.
This was the signal that we had agreed upon. If all had gone to plan I would use this code to let Flo know that it was all over and she could rest easy. The secret two rings were a cunning idea of Flo's. Spats might have been in and then there would have been a good chance that any late conversation between Flo and I might be overheard.
However, we need not have worried, Spats had gone to the pub, where there must have been a lock-in, otherwise, I would have expected him home by now.
After a restless night, full of fretful and disturbing dreams, I woke up, had a shower, and then headed back out to the car with some plastic bags. The remaining evidence was gathered up, put in the bags and taken indoors to be shredded. Once this was done, we really were in the all clear. Harvey's secret was safe with us. The most this man was ever going to be accused of was an overt interest in Japanese fish and crabs.
I really should have opened 'Tres Elegante' by now and given it a good hoovering.
However, the shredding came first.
Time, once again, was of the essence. I hurried into the kitchen and unexpectedly bumped into Spats, who was heading out to his shop to open up for the day. As I had not expected him to be in my flight path, and was in something of a rush, we violently collided.
One of the carrier bags fell from my grasp and the whole sorry content spilt out onto the floor.
Spats lent down and picked up the August 2003 edition, which had the headline, 'What Chicks Need & How To Ruffle Their Feather's'.
“What on earth are these!” He demanded, looking surprised and astonished.
“Nothing,” I replied, “nothing for you to concern yourself about. I'm sure it is all really just harmless fun, everyone has their peculiar little fetishes don't they. Yours is yoga pants and Harvey's was poultry.”
Spats then read aloud from the front cover.
“'Fancy Fowl', a magazine for the poultry fancier!”
Spats' expression was one of supreme amusement as he opened the first page of the magazine and read out the short description of what 'Fancy Fowl' was all about.
“'Fancy Fowl' is dedicated to the art of breeding the best fowl possible. The noblest, bright-eyed, firm winged and fantastically feathered examples of hen, duck or turkey'. It also says here, it's been established for over twenty-six years.”
“You're telling me!” I said, “and Harvey had every single edition.”
There was nothing for it, Spats would need to be told the whole story.
Once he had finally gained control of his emotions and wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes ( I think he was still slightly intoxicated from his very late night in the pub), he had but one question.
“Why all the secrecy? Is it really so bad that Harvey harboured a latent desire to rear chickens, or ducks, or whatever? Perhaps he dreamt of retiring from boiling crustaceans alive and just wanted to breed birds instead. Perhaps he thought Flo would not be at one with this idea. Maybe Harvey just liked to sit up in his attic every once in a while and indulge in this alternative dream.”
It's true, I thought, if Flo had realised Harvey's aspirations for the future were centred around setting up some smallholding, where he could devote himself to breeding, she might fly the coup herself, so to speak.
Flo's a town dweller, I couldn't visualise her out in the country surrounded by nothing but geese and chickens.
I realised that Flo and I hadn't at any point bothered to open up the publications to see what 'Fancying Fowl' was actually about. We just thought it was some magazine pandering to a weird and rather unfortunate perversion. There are so many these days, so, unfortunately, without any real investigation, we had been prepared to jump to the assumption that Harvey had been turned on by images of glossy feathered farm birds.
Admittedly, Flo had been in an emotionally traumatised state and not necessarily that rational.
Then I had simply become caught up in it all, just trying to preserve Harvey's memory, so that Flo wouldn't have to live with people talking and gossiping behind her back. I could just hear them now, 'Oh look, it's that woman whose husband died when he fell on an angels wing and didn't he also have some pervy bird fetish?'.
Spats hurried off to open his shop, still guffawing loudly and intermittently declaring that it was probably the best story he had ever heard.
Definitely still quite drunk, I thought.
I telephoned Flo.
“Drop in and see me in the shop if you can Flo, we need to discuss!”
When I explained what the magazines were about Flo seemed extremely relieved.
“It's not easy,” she said, “thinking that you spent the last twenty-odd years of your life with a man who sat up in the attic getting off on images of flightless birds.”
“The thing is Flo,” I reassured her, “life is so strange these days, with so many sexual oddities being exposed over the internet, it's hard for us to believe that most of the population, including those near and dear, aren't, deep down, keeping something in the closet.”
However, now that it seemed some humour was to be had from our recent escapades and Harvey was not a sex fiend, after all, we decided to call up Zoe and Jackie to arrange to meet up for lunch meeting within the week.
On Friday, I closed up the boutique for a few hours so that the four of us could get together and share updates on recent events.
Zoe and Jackie found the story as funny as Spats. Then Zoe remembered something a friend had told her a few days earlier.
“Oh dear!” She said, “looking half horrified and half amused. I think there might have been more fallout from your actions than you think. I've only just remembered, and now I see the obvious connection!”
“What obvious connection?”
We could tell by her expression some major gossip was
about to be revealed.
“Well,” she went on, “I bumped into my friend Kim the other day. She's good friends with this woman called Sandra, farmers wife, lives out in the middle of nowhere. She told me that Sandra had just left her husband, as she had found their barn absolutely chocker with some weird kinky magazines.
Sandra had refused to tell Kim the full details of their contents, just said he had some sort of fowl fetish, that was all. Told Kim she was far too embarrassed to divulge any further information.
“You're going to have to call Kim up!” Insisted Jackie. “Eva and Flo can't be responsible for the break-up of a marriage, that's awful!”
Flo and I weren't so sure.
“The thing is Jackie,” I explained. “It would all be rather embarrassing for me and Flo if this woman was to hear the whole story, very embarrassing indeed. It's a small world down here in Penswithian. I agree that it is very unfortunate that our actions seem to have destroyed a marriage, however, if you really think about it, how good a relationship did this couple actually have? Why did Sandra jump to the conclusion that these magazines belonged to her husband? It seems to me that Sandra must already have had doubts about the man. If I found Spats' shed full of poultry literature I wouldn't immediately assume he had some sort of secret lusting for bantam hens or perverse rooster fetish, would I?”
“You and Flo thought Harvey did,” Jackie reminded us.
I felt compelled to explain to Jackie, that Flo and I had been under a great deal of stress and heartbreak at the time and could not be held responsible for any of our actions.
“Well,” argued Jackie, “you can't blame Sandra for jumping to the conclusion that the magazines belonged to her husband, as she did come across them in his barn. She would hardly assume that someone would have driven out in the middle of the night and planted them there!”
“OK then,” I retaliated, “I'll give you that, answer me this though, the husband is a farmer and these magazines are about chickens and the like. Why would she find it strange that he had them?”
“Perhaps because she was married to him, had never seen them before, had not seen him ever reading them, and they were all stuffed in an out-building. Along with the fact that when confronted, he denied all knowledge of their existence, as if there was something embarrassing about their discovery. Also, I have to say, 'Fancy Fowl' is rather an odd name for a magazine. Why not call it 'Farm Birds Monthly' or 'Poultry today'? Maybe, 'Breeding Fowl', that would be better.”
“Let's compromise then,” I suggested, “Zoe can ring up her friend Kim and tell her the whole story. What Zoe must not do is divulge the true names of those involved, i.e., me and Flo.”
We then discussed Harvey for a while and asked how Flo was managing to cope with his so sudden death.
“I'm very lonely and miss him dreadfully. The wardrobe is full of his clothes, his shoes are still in the hall and every time one of his favourite television series comes on I just can't believe he isn't here to watch it and won't ever get to find out how it ends. Sounds daft, I know, but I just can't get my head around the fact that I shall never see him again and he will never see anything ever again either. It's all over. The other day I opened the freezer and there was his favourite Freezerland pizza. The pepperoni with cheese stuffed crust. My heart just broke, I couldn't stop crying.”
Then Flo couldn't stop crying again, so I took her back to my house and insisted she stayed the night. We sat up until the early hours as Flo reminisced over the very best times that she and Harvey had enjoyed together.
A couple of days later, I bumped into Zoe again and asked if she had had time to telephone Kim with our full confession. I must admit, I was by now feeling very guilty about my part in this Sandra woman's ruined marriage.
Zoe said that indeed she had telephoned Kim, and Kim in turn, had telephoned her friend Sandra. The whole tale was told and we weren't to worry as she had not revealed our true identities. However, Sandra hadn't believed a word of it and thought that maybe her husband had contacted Kim and asked her to make up this ludicrous story, in the hope of winning her back. Apparently, Sandra said it was the most ridiculous load of fictitious nonsense she had ever heard and that the whole tale was totally unbelievable from beginning to end, further insisting, that two grown women would not have come up with such a bizarre and pathetic plan of action.
Oh well, I thought, it really does sound like the marriage would not have lasted anyway. This Sandra person was obviously hell-bent on believing the worst of her husband, so we could do no more.

 Another great book!
Comic fiction

So, you want front page news coverage?
Then you need to put on a show.
In this case, a fashion show.
With much to organise and excitement mounting, we follow Eva, the owner of a small town boutique, through the highs (and a fair amount of lows), as she works her way from booking the venue, right through to the final performance.
It's a comedy of errors.
So will it be all right on the night?
What do the papers say when the stardust settles?
Read all about it!