Thursday, 20 September 2012
The theme of this weeks creative writing group was 'Whodunnit'; here's my effort at a short story on the topic....
A crime had been committed in Broadley Avenue last night, of that there was no doubt. What was in dispute amongst the residents was the exact nature of the said offence.
“Disturbance of the peace” proclaimed Audrey Daley from the throne of her mobility scooter. “The amount of banging and clattering that was going on in the street; my poor Roger didn’t sleep a wink.”
A small mutt gazed dolefully out of the basket, whimpering as if on cue.
“There, there Roger” said Audrey’s neighbour Eric Jones. Although Eric personally couldn’t stand dogs he’d always held something of a soft spot for the redoubtable Mrs Daley, and it was with this in mind that he forced himself to stroke the hairy beast.
“There was certainly some kind of affray;” Mr Jones declared to many nods of agreement from the crowd that was continuing to mass on the meticulously tended lawn of number 23. “Raised voices, foul language, certainly nothing I would repeat in the company of ladies. The kind of behaviour you might expect in the estates, perhaps, but certainly not what we’re used to round here.”
“I didn’t hear anything” said Patricia Fleming; “But I can tell you for a fact that there was some kind of pervert on the prowl last night. Why, I had my best undergarments hanging out to dry and when I went to fetch them in after watching the end of my soaps they’d disappeared from sight! The dirty scoundrel hadn’t touched Albert’s Y-fronts; they were only interested in my flowery bloomers!”
The thought of a pervert in their midst sent the ladies of Broadley Avenue into a chattering frenzy.
“Certainly sounds like a most unsavoury character;” proclaimed the most recent new addition to the avenue. Jacqui was a bottle blonde whose addiction to injecting botulism into her face and weakness for toyboys several decades her junior did little to mask the fact that youth was long behind her. She languidly swept her peroxide fringe out of eyes whilst pouting at Bill; something of a silver fox and although several decades older than her usual prey the only man on the street that she considered worthy of her well honed flirting skills. “And I thought this was such a lovely safe neighbourhood....”
Bill forced out a small smile, not having the heart to tell Jacqui that her talents were wasted on him. Pedro the postman had been providing Bill with a very efficient early morning service for a number of years, although they’d both cursed the day that they scrapped the second post.
“Not just an unsavoury character, Jacqueline, but an outright criminal!” butted in busybody and resident of thirty years Wendy Walker. “The most terrible damage was inflicted on my hedges last night. You all know how much time and effort I put into trimming my ornamental bush; it’s not for nothing that I won the Winfordshire Topiary Championships in 1989, 1994 and, on appeal, 1997. What kind of man would do such a thing?”
“Who’s to say that it’s definitely a man though?” pondered Bill. “It could be a woman...”
“A lady knicker pincher? Pretty unlikely I would say;” argued Patricia. “Oh, the very thought of some stranger getting his filthy hands on my drawers; it’s enough to make me shudder.”
“The thought of her drawers makes me shudder too;” whispered the long suffering Albert to his neighbour and drinking companion of many years Eric. “But not in a good way. Whoever it is that’s been on the rampage, they’re welcome to her extra extra large smalls.”
Tony and Albert’s mirth was met with disapproving stares from the assembled ladies. “Not sure what you’re laughing about;” said Wendy sternly. “This is a very serious matter.”
A wail came from five doors down. With the maximum speed possible on Zimmer frames, mobility scooters and dodgy hips, the group made towards its source.
Penny, the owner of number 11, was stood on her drive in front of a large red stain.
“I just came outside to see what was going on and; and; and this!”
“It looks like...”
Screams and gasps filled the street. “I’m calling the police!” exclaimed Wendy, fumbling in her handbag to try to find the mobile phone that her daughter had passed on to her but she never actually bothered to turn on.
“Wait a second;” said Bill; pressing a single finger to his lips. “Can you hear something?”
Ignoring him, the women kept on shrieking.
Eschewing Bill’s polite style Albert bellowed; “Look, for one godforsaken second can you ladies just shut up?!”
In an instant, silence fell on the street. A good ten seconds must have passed before Jacqui whispered “I can’t hear anything?”. The rest of the group were in the process of opening their mouths in a chorus of agreement when a loud sneeze came from inside the garage.
“He’s in there! The pervert’s in there!” Patricia cried.
“The dog disturber!”
“The noisy hoodlum!”
“The bush saboteur!”
“The murderer!” Penny shrieked hysterically.
Wendy pressed her mouth to the garage door. “The police are on their way; there’s no point in trying to escape” she shouted, although in reality she had still failed to locate her phone, and was beginning to question whether it was even in her cavernous bag at all.
“Right, let’s find out exactly who we’re dealing with;” declared Eric. “Put your hands up, whoever you are, we’re going in!”
The women gasped as the men edged forward. Eric turned the handle of the door then pushed it open with a single determined shove. Audrey, Wendy and Patricia covered their eyes, afraid of what they might see, and even Roger, who certainly would never have made a guard dog, buried his head.
Jacqui leaned forward with morbid curiosity whilst Penny peeked through her fingers, fearful of what dreadful act had been committed on her property.
“Derek?! Derek!” repeated Penny. “What are you doing here? I thought you were still working down in Banbury?! You look like you’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards!”
“Happy anniversary, love;” said Penny’s husband, stepping out of the garage sheepishly, a pale red liquid trickling between his legs. Draped from the ceiling was some DIY bunting made from some flowery material that was suspiciously familiar to Patricia; and the bucket normally used to wash the car housed a particularly feeble attempt at a flower arrangement which creatively combined some of Penny’s own begonias with the phallic horn of Wendy’s unicorn hedge. “I came back a night early to try to surprise you, but whilst I was trying to set things up I managed to get myself locked in!”
“Derek Fish, you’ve always been a tight bastard but this truly takes the biscuit!” Penny exclaimed.
“Oooh, language;” injected Eric. “Clearly runs in the family.”
“Too bloody right it does;” Derek replied; “and I was certainly cursing last at 4 o clock this morning when I tripped over that bleeding ugly garden gnome you insist on keeping guard outside your house, Eric. I’d parked round the bloody corner so Penny didn’t realise that I was home; didn’t realise that the 1 minute walk from Chapel Drive would be so fraught with danger, did I?. And the air certainly turned fifty shades of blue again when I was trying to string up this bollocking bunting that our Penny’s so fond of and managed to knock a whole crate of Mateus Rose on the floor. It’s your favourite too, isn’t it Pen?”
Blushing redder than her usual tipple of choice, Penny gave the slightest of nods.
“Well, get on your way, the lot of you, get back to your Daily Mail’s. There’s nothing more to see here;” Derek said with a dismissive wave of his hand.
“And having heard all your accusations” – he looked from face to face before landing on his wife – “I might as well prove them true. After what I’ve bleeding put meself through last night I could really MURDER a beer.”