CJ’s Writing

I’ve always been keen to share my ideas and read other people’s, but until I retired my writing had always been factual. But I love reading and can’t get enough crime fiction, so trying my hand at writing crime stories seemed a natural progression. It was great to have the freedom to invent characters and make things happen rather than record actual events. Moving over to writing stories has been a very satisfying experience and provided the opportunity to meet some fascinating writers and readers.

Below is a sample of my writing, starting with a short story that was runner up in the Cremona Crime Competition in 2013.

HAPPINESS QUOTIENT

 

images ‘Kill the Pigs! Kill the Pigs! Kill the Pigs!’

WPC Tania Greene had never felt so exhausted. The chanting was so loud it must be    damaging her brain. She knew riot dispersal gear had to be heavy, but in her new riot helmet her head felt like it was trapped in a vice.

She was trying hard not to feel terrified or intimidated. After all she’d been trained for this at the Police Training College. But there the rioters were trainee police officers. Through the smoke from the petrol bombs it was hard to distinguish fellow officers from protesters.

She wasn’t going to take it personally. These people were just misguided; they probably needed help. Then a large brick ricocheted off the edge of her shield and smashed into her visor.

Back at the police station Tania examined her face. It was bruised and swollen and there was blood on her uniform, but it was only a cut and she didn’t want to be thought a sissy. Bryan, one of the male officers she’d trained with caught her looking in the mirror, ‘Spoilt our pretty uniform have we?’

The other officers, all male and more experienced laughed and pretended to adjust their uniforms too. Tania sighed. Being the only woman officer in the team was hard to cope with. She was never invited her to go to the pub or play for the Bournemouth Officers’ soccer team despite representing her county at woman’s rugby. She couldn’t wait to begin her firearms’ training and was waiting for the day when another WPC would join the unit. It was no fun being the token women.

Tania got on with her main task of updating the Missing Person’s notice board. She felt sad as she looked at the photographs of the smiling young men and women missing around Bournemouth. They had left home to go out and enjoy themselves and never returned.

She sometimes talked to the photographs of the missing when she didn’t think the other officers could hear her. She particularly liked the one of Jenny Matthews who looked a bit like her and had a sympathetic smile. She seemed to understand how hard it could be as a woman police officer. Sometimes she told Jenny about Sebastian. He was the good thing in her life: the perfect boyfriend – and he’d just booked them in at The Cremona: her favourite place for a weekend break.

Three hours later she was soaking off the mud and soothing her injuries in one of The Cremona’s huge baths with a chilled glass of her favourite white wine being massaged by expert hands.

‘Feeling better now?’

Tania smiled back into Sebastian’s understanding eyes.

‘I was terrified you were going to be crushed to death,’ he said bending over to kiss her cheek. ‘You’re so brave but you know I worry about you doing that job.’

It was the one thing about Sebastian that irritated her. He wanted to wrap her up in cotton wool. It was the last thing she needed but she tried to sound appreciative.

‘I was fine. I’ve trained for things like that.’

But the caress of his fingers soon swept away her annoyance. Feeling guilty she reached out to squeeze his hand, ‘I love the way you’re always so thoughtful, Seb.’

But something was niggling so she said, ‘How did you know I’d be at the demonstration?’

Sebastian grinned, ‘It was an amazing coincidence I was just walking along the sea front when I heard all the noise. I couldn’t believe it when I saw you there. Does it matter? The important thing was that you weren’t badly hurt.’

She lay back enjoying the comfort of his touch thinking how lucky she was and how silly to be cross with him.

‘I love the way you take me to my favourite places and buy all my favourite things. How you always know what I like.’

‘It’s the Happiness Quotient,’ he said as he dried his hands and topped up her wine. But before she could ask him to explain he went on, ‘And now I’m going down to ask the Cremona’s chef to cook your favourite meal.’

Tania sank back into the bubbles and wished the men she worked with were more like Sebastian. He was so considerate and always giving her surprises like this romantic hotel break.

She was dozing in his arms when his mobile rang. Sebastian moved her gently aside and went to answer it.

‘It’s my editor, he wants me to interview a minor celebrity but she’ll only be at Heathrow another couple of hours. I won’t go if you want me to stay with you.’

If she didn’t accept the demands of his work how could she expect him to tolerate hers. ‘Of course you must go.’ This was said through a long lingering kiss which made Tania wished she hadn’t been so ready to agree to him going out.

She woke with a start. The rain was lashing at the windows and Sebastian would be tired when he got in. It was a rare opportunity to do something for him for a change. He was always so particular about his clothes and he hadn’t had time to unpack so she started to do it for him. At the bottom of the case was a shirt with a dark red stain. As she picked it up a dog-eared file fell out labelled ‘Happiness Quotient’. Inside were lots of different coloured files, each labelled with a different woman’s name. She was about to put it back when she saw one of the names was hers.

Intrigued, she opened it and found it was divided into sections headed Favourite Music, Favourite Food, Dream Holidays, Special Activities and Favourite Hobbies. In Dream Holidays she found the details of their recent weekend in Paris with receipts for the flight and hotel neatly stapled together next to some photographs of them together in the bedroom. Even more curious, she checked through the other files and found Sally Kingston’s Dream Holiday was a Spa Retreat in Thailand. There were details of hobbies, favourite music, places and food. But it was the file with a photograph of a dark haired woman with a lovely smile that really worried her. Jenny Matthews’ Favourite Hobby was oil painting together with receipts for an expensive painting holiday.

Tania remembered another photograph of Jenny Matthews pinned to the notice board at the police station in the Missing Person’s Section at the same time as she received a text, ‘Just up the road – back soon.’ There was no way she could re-pack his clothes before Sebastian found her. She dialled the special number for Officer in Trouble. For once, she couldn’t wait to see her fellow police officers.

Bryan answered promptly, ‘Don’t worry, girl, we’re just round the corner at the chippies. We’ll be there in two minutes. In the meantime, why not try out your karate kicks? I’ve still got bruises from the training exercise.’

She stood by the office door, breathing calmly, perfectly balanced to move in on Sebastian and smiling because at last she knew she’d got their respect.

THE END

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Comments
  1. Christine Partington says:

    Great story – plenty of menace building up but then a surprise denoument! If this was the Runner Up in the competition, how scary was the winner? (Only joking)

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