The Affair of the Dartymuir Dog. Part Two

The adventures of Piglock Homes and his sidekick Doctor Bearson

‘Mister Homes. Please come quickly. There’s murder afoot on Dartymuir. Signed Inspector E. E. Yore.’

Bearson had to admit the words meant little to him, but he was satisfied by the change in his best little chum from amoral turpitude to intellectual rigour. 

Homes showed his teeth in a feral grin.

“You’d be more interested if you read the Thunderer instead of your dreadful publication full of bones and innards.”

He passed Bearson a copy of the newspaper which he had folded to display a headline and and a short article about a series of strange happenings in the wilds of Dartymuir. The headline read ‘Dogged by the Dartymuir Dog’. According to the somewhat sensationalised account, one of the oldest families in the shire was being persecuted to the extent that its scions lived in fear of their lives. That, combined with the Inspector’s telegraph message, certainly seemed enough to pique the interest of the formerly torpid pig.

“Are we off to Dartymuir, Homes?”

“Oh yes. I think so. Consult your Bradshaw’s for train times and have Mrs Cangar pack some hunny sandwiches. I don’t think we will be home for tea.”

Bearson ascertained train times. “There is a fast train leaving at three thirty, but we will scarcely make that one. Or a stopper which departs at five.”

Homes nodded, and Bearson went off to negotiate with their formidable housekeeper. When he returned, coated and booted, Homes was busily ferreting in an old steamer trunk beside the bay window.

“Aha,” he exclaimed, “got you you little blackguard.”

He emerged triumphantly with a large brass whistle on a lanyard, which he hung about his neck.

“Are you not ready yet Bearson old chap?”

“Very nearly Homes.”

“Good man. Do not by any means neglect to bring your service revolver with you.”

Bearson tapped the pocket of his Ulster. “It’s right here, old thing.”

A knock on the door heralded the arrival of their cab.

As they claimed aboard, Homes passed the driver a shilling. “There’s half a crown in it for you if we make the three-thirty train to Dumplingshire.”

The jarvey whipped up his pony and they were off.

Piglock Homes and his sidekick Doctor Bearson will continue their investigation into The Affair of the Dartymuir Dog next week

Jane Jago

Writing Right

Simile and metaphor
Is kinda difficult to ignore
They are the building blocks of seeing
Hearing, thinking, tasting being
Without their sturdy helpful syllables
How would we know who is killable
So okay the grass is green
But green in many guises seen
Or is the grass a thing of silk
Soft and warm and cool as milk
Without the help of metaphor and simile
We’d fall flat and just be a facsimile
To answer the question I’m not able
So I’ll shove some doggerel on the table

©️jj 2020 

Weekend Wind Down – Meeting Sam Nero

This is an excerpt from the notebooks of Anastasia Throbb, ace reporter, and presenter of the prime-time magazine show The Throbbing City.

Sam Nero didn’t want to meet with me. It took six months of poking and prodding, and outright bribery before I found a man who was both willing and able to lean on this most archetypal of private investigators and make him talk to me. In the end, a friend of a friend introduced me to a man who goes by the name of O’Halleran, who promised me an hour of Sam’s time. Rather to my surprise, it even seemed as if he was going to deliver.

He sent two huge mutes to my office and they escorted me to a back-street diner where a sullen-faced waitress stuck me in a booth and stopped chewing gum for long enough to mouth “sit”. I sat and waited, concealing my growing impatience as best as possible. I was just about to make as dignified an exit as I could when a shadow fell across the table.
“Miss Throbb, I presume.” The voice was lazily amused.
I turned and got my first look at Sam Nero in the flesh. He was about six three, maybe six four, wide at the shoulder and narrow at the hip, and his face looked as if it had been designed to meet the expectations of every pre-pubescent female in the city. It was hard, and sculpted, and sported what I could only assume was a permanent five o’clock shadow. I turned my attention to his companion, a lush-bodied bottle blonde who looked at me as if she could discern my innermost secrets. I think I hated her on sight.

They slipped into the booth opposite me, and something about the pair of them set the hairs on the back of my neck prickling. For a moment I was floundering, then I realised what had spooked me. There were two of them, but only one shadow. While my flesh was still crawling, the waitress appeared with a pot of coffee and two tall mugs. She put a mug in front of Nero and one in front of me before favouring me with a sneer and sloping off.
“Doesn’t your lady friend get coffee?”
The voice that responded was feminine and breathy and sounded to me as if it had been honed over a lot of years of practice.
“I never touch the stuff. Ruins the complexion.”
Then Nero laughed. It was a deep sound that sent little shivers running around all sorts of inappropriate parts of my anatomy.
“Be nice.”
“I was being nice, Sam. You should know that.”
She laid a red-nailed and possessive paw on his forearm and he smiled.
“Sure you were being nice, Sugar. I’d just like to keep it that way.”
“Sugar?” I think my voice went up an octave, I mean what sort of a prehistoric monster calls his woman sugar?
“It’s my name. Sugar Kane. That’s Miss Kane to you.”
Mentally cursing my luck I turned my most winsome smile on Mister Nero.
“Sam,” I said. “May I call you Sam?”
He raised a lazy eyebrow and looked me up and down for a moment before laughing that damnably sexy laugh again.
“I guess so. It’s what Ma Nero named her little boy.”
“Is it really? I mean I can find no record of a family called Nero, let alone a male child called. Samuel?”
“Nah. Just Sam. And where I was born nobody keeps records.”
“And Miss Kane. Where and when was your sidekick born?”
“That ain’t the sort of question a gentleman asks a lady. Not if he wants to keep wearing his face. You can ask if you are that stupid.”
I looked into his companion’s icy eyes and quickly framed another question.
“The first record I can find of a Sam Nero is about four decades ago when a licence to operate as a private detective was granted. Would that be you?”
“Maybe.”
“The age of the applicant is stated as being forty-two.”
“Sounds a responsible sort of age to me. What say you Sugar?”
They exchanged a look of such naked trust that for a second even I felt de trop. But I pressed on.
“But that can’t be you, Mister Nero. If it was you would be in your eighties by now. And you don’t look like an eighty-year-old man to me.”
“Neither he does.” The blonde seemed to be laughing at me, and I didn’t like the sensation one little bit.
I made my voice hard and assertive.

“In my book, Mister Nero, that makes you an impostor. I’m sure the authorities would love to look at my findings and throw you into jail for a good long time.” I leaned forward and slapped the palms of my hands on the table hard enough to sting.
Nero laughed.
“Think again, sweetheart. The authorities as you so sweetly call them know precisely who I am. Next question.”
He took a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes out of his pocket and lit up.
I coughed.
“I do not care for tobacco smoke,” I said icily.
Nero sneered at me.
“Door’s over there. Make sure it doesn’t hit your ass on the way out.”
I was incensed, but some vestige of intelligence stopped me leaving. This was my only chance to persuade an icon of old-school cops and robbers violence onto my show so I swallowed my bile and tried for a forgiving smile. The obnoxious Sugar shrugged her shoulders and her rather overblown assets jiggled.
“I think the lady has decided to forgive you.”
He grinned lazily, and twitched a mobile eyebrow, sending my hormone count soaring yet again. This man was hot, hot and dangerous. I needed him to boost my flagging ratings, and maybe for the odd other job or two.

I set myself to charm him, sipping my coffee and running my tongue along my lower lip. He watched with what I can only describe as detached amusement, and I felt my anger begin to rise up once more.

“What’s with you Nero?” I snapped. “You come here sneering, and looking down your nose at me…”
He leaned back and crossed his long long legs.
“Wasn’t me asked for this meet. Suck it up.”
I drew in a breath and tried for calm.
“Fair point Mister Nero. I asked to meet you.”
The blonde bombshell laughed huskily.
“I think the lady is after your body, Sam.”
“Why’d that be Sugar?”
“As if you didn’t know, big boy.”
“And as if you didn’t know old Sam’s heart is yours alone.”

It seemed to me as if they had completely forgotten my existence and I rapped my nails against the crazed china of my mug.
“I’m still here,” I grated.
“Why so you are.” Nero looked me up and down a bit more, and the silent insult in his stare had the blood rushing to my face and I blushed for possibly the first time in two decades.
“Why are you being like this? You have been chauvinistic, unpleasant and downright rude. Why? What have I ever done to you?”
He got up from his seat and looked down at me with a most peculiar expression on his face.
“It’s not always about you. I am what I am. How I was made…”
Then he was gone, and the woman went with him. Two entities with one shadow…

The Sam Nero PI collection of the Sam Nero Stories by Jane Jago, is now available.

Images

Nowadays lives are all lived most virtually
Virtual pictures with filters applied
Everyone now can be kept in a pixel
And our photo albums in small phones reside

I recall times that we lived in monochrome
Black and white telly, and black and white snaps
Black and white memories stare from the photographs
Black and white moments our lifetime maps

Back before then they all lived in sepia
Sepia pictures in sepia frames
Formally posed with hands in laps folded
Gazing from history, lost – without names

Further before that they lived life in oil paint
Brilliant colours that spring from the past
Glorious scenes of magnificent ancestors
Whose mighty deeds will our own deeds outlast.

E.M. Swift-Hook

Madam Pendulica’s Perceptive Profiles of the Properties and Propensities of Persons Propagated in each of the Twelve Zodiacal Houses – Musical Musings

The Working Title crew bring you the exclusive opportunity to enjoy more wisdom from the mysteriously enigmatic Madam Pendulica… You can listen to this on YouTube too.

Aries. 

This sign sheepishly admits to being peopled by lovers of light opera and Europop.

Favourite tune: Fernando by Abba

Taurus.

Slow and stately, this sign is fond of Germanic opera of the sort that takes most of a day to listen to.

Favourite tune: Welch’ wunderbar Erwarten  from Das Liebesverbot

Gemini.

Any kind of a duet will suit Gemini. The soppier and more romantic the better.

Favourite tune: Save Your Love by Renee and Renato 

Cancer.

In spite of the characteristic sideways scuttle of this most crepuscular of signs they are drawn to the musical excitement of the female marching band.

Favourite tune: Congratulations – played on the xylophone 

Leo.

Lions are creatures that deeply value their sleep therefore any lullaby will do.

Favourite tune: O mio babbino caro

Virgo.

The primness of the Virgo psyche is perfectly matched by the innocence of nineteen fifties popular music.

Favourite tune: Gilly Gilly Ossenfeffer Katzenellen Bogen By The Sea, by Max Bygraves

Libra.

Weighing up the relative merits of styles of music has been a Libran preoccupation for many years culminating in a passion for Amazonian nose flute terpsichory.

Favourite tune: Anything nasal

Scorpio.

The Scorpio affinity with fast motorcycles, black leather and bad boy sex means that nothing but rock will do.

Favourite tune: Born to be Wild by Steppenwolf  

Sagittarius.

The Sagittarian equineness predisposes them to the enjoyment of intensely rhythmic music. Notably that of Germanic extraction.

Favourite tune: A Walk in the Black Forest by Horst Jankowski

Capricorn.

Capricorn is the rock and roll sign, and the zodiacal goat can be pacified in almost any situation by the application of Elvis Presley.

Favourite tune: Jailhouse Rock by the above gentleman

Aquarius.

Aquarians like smooth flowing watering music. 

Favourite tune: Orinoco Flow by Enya

Pisces.

Pisceans have surprisingly catholic musical tastes. They will listen to anything as long as it is loud and immersive.

Favourite tune: Brown Sugar by The Rolling Stones

Madame Pendulica predicts she will return…

Jane Jago’s Drabbles – Four Hundred and Eighty-Nine

Knobsie was in the cabbage patch sobbing. He had lost his tiny pink winkle and he was inconsolable.

“Where did you lose it?”

“Me doesn’t know. It just gone.”

Which, in an acre and a half of garden, wasn’t much help.

The gnomes tried, but it was close to impossible, a one centimetre piece of pink plaster wasn’t going to be found unless they got very lucky indeed. 

A week later, a sparrow overflew Bertha and dropped something at her feet.

As she superglued Knobsie back together she chuckled. “It’s a good job your winkle looks like a worm’s nose.” 

©️jj 2021

Coffee Break Read – Uninvited

Leo and Mike would have quite liked to forget the body in the river, and the teenagers with the weird women, but life wasn’t going to let them do that.
The first intimation of this came when they had a visit from a very smooth operator with an educated Transatlantic accent rendered oddly theatrical by more than a whiff of trailer trash in his vowels. He looked like everyone’s mental image of the archetypal WASP from his smooth blonde hair to his horn-rimmed spectacles, and his Brooks Brothers brogues. He introduced himself as the Reverend Amos Summersby, and stated his reason for visiting was to thank them for their care of the girls. But it didn’t ring true. While he drank tea and ate Ro’s excellent fruit cake Mike could feel him watching her from the corners of his eyes. It was a feeling she didn’t much relish. It wasn’t to go on for long, though, because Leo put a stop to it with uncompromising savagery.
‘Keep your eyes off my woman’ he snarled ‘or I’ll pull them out and make you eat them.’
Summersby recoiled in genuine surprise. ‘That is not what I have come to expect from an English gentleman’ he said in a voice of gentle reproof.
Leo was scathing. ‘I’m neither English nor a gentleman. And I don’t make idle threats. So just say whatever it is you came here to say and leave while you still have the use of your legs.’
Summersby’s fear appeared to Mike to be the first genuine thing in his visit; all the colour left his cheeks and he floundered about in a morass of half-sentences.
‘Hurry up, man. You are wearing my patience thin.’
‘Very well. I was simply instructed to find out what those naughty little girls may have said about their school.’
‘To us. Nothing’ Leo bit the words off sharply. ‘We noticed they didn’t much care for their keepers but that was just ordinary observation.’
‘And yet the police wouldn’t let the girls return to school in the minibus?’
‘I would suspect that is standard procedure. They had, after all, just discovered themselves to be swimming with a dead body. I’m sure that’s exactly what a group of teenage girls needs to make a camping trip complete.’ Leo’s sarcasm was biting.
The ‘reverend’ stared into Leo’s angry eyes, then sighed.
‘I fear we have been misinformed. Will you accept my apology?’
Leo looked at Mike, who shook her head.
‘No. Now we’d very much appreciate the air you are using.’

Ro appeared as if she had been listening at the door (which she probably had) and escorted the uninvited visitor to where his car waited in the street.
‘Nasty piece of work that is’ she said when she returned. Then she sat and poured herself a cup of tea. Leo raised an eyebrow.
‘I found stuff out.’
‘Such as?’
‘The ‘church’ calls itself The Apostolic Gospel of The Lord. It seems to have originated in America. No surprise there, but what is surprising is that they now have control of three schools in the UK. There’s one in Somerset and two in Greater London, and the police are quite interested in them because there is some question of providing underage girls for a form of ‘marriage’. Or so I’m told.’
‘And how did you get told?’
She grinned. ‘Sex. That’s how I get told most things. Wasn’t even unpleasant.’
Mike laughed in genuine amusement. ‘Ro. You are bad! Who?’
‘A detective from the smoke. His name would mean nothing to you even if I could be arsed to remember it. But a combination of a blow job and a bottle of Ma’s sloe gin got him to part with all of his knowledge of the subject.’
‘You really should be careful’ Leo put in. ‘You can’t just go around importuning coppers for information.’
Ro grinned. ‘You’re right. I can’t. But I didn’t. He started it. I was helping out at the chippy when this long streak of piss comes in and gets all flirty. Uncle Bob gives me the high sign he’s a copper, so I agree to meet him for a drink. I reckon he still thinks he weaselled info out of me.’

From Shall we gather at the river? by Jane Jago

Ian Bristow Inspires – 8

The writing that inspired this art by Ian Bristow

They rode out under cloudy skies without a backwards glance.
The countryside swept down from their village to where the River Wyvern wove its way along the bottom of the vale. It was the picture of peace and rustic harmony, with cottages and houses dotting the landscape, roofs tiled with the blue flecked slate from local quarries and walls built from the dark grey rock brought down from the mountains. 
The mountains themselves lurked like ominous misshapen giants, stretching fingers or lifting shoulders towards the sky. From the gentle slopes of the vale, they rose to bleak and desolate heights.
The two barrel-shaped hill-ponies seemed happy enough to set a smart pace. Poll had managed to find his old dragonhide targe which he looped over his back and Hepsy was pleased to see the gemstone set in the pommel of his dagger was not glowing. Maybe things were not so desperate as they thought? Maybe it was all rumour and no truth? Maybe…

E.M. Swift-Hook

Ian is an awesome artist and cover designer, you can find his work at Bristow Design or watch him in action creating this piece on ART with IAN

Mrs Jago’s Handy Guide to the Meaning Behind Typographical Errors Part. XXXIII

… or ‘How To Speak Typo’ by Jane Jago

abjective (adjective) – crap at describing things and very apologetic about it

asrisk (noun) – a very chancy bet

bedeffen (verb) – of folk singers the act of blocking the ears before singing 

cormflack (verb) – abuse from the seed of an orchid 

downstaris (noun) – small marsupial found in the understairs cupboards of suburbia

eafle (noun) – unimpressive bird of prey

lement (adjective) – of underwear being prone to crawl between the bum cheeks

nadke (adjective) – of clothing, becoming transparent when wet

nppli (adjective) – bumpy and prone to the cold

reabi reder (noun + adjective) – trainee preacher whose sole function is to recite the scriptures during dull bits in the service

rgeat (noun) – green cheese with bits of gravel in it

sayrt (noun) – tongue in cheek folk wisdom

shatreted (verb – past participle) – having rubbed diahorreah on one’s spouse in a fit of pique

ther emay (proper noun) – any one of many fuzzy-haired wannabe guitar legends – natural habitat social media

vitupus (noun) – the excretions of angry acne

wharever (conjunction) – southern Belle speak for wherever

yaest (adjective) – liberally bedaubed in marmite 

Jane Jago’s Drabbles – Four Hundred and Eighty-Eight

Big Bertha had a headache, which meant that most of the gnomes were walking carefully. But there’s always one idiot. 

Today it was Norbert, who was voicing the latest conspiracy theories loudly and nasally. He had got to the lizards in human costume who were invading somewhere called the White House when Bertha appeared. She stomped over and squirted something between his teeth. 

The ensuing silence reigned unbroken until Bertha disappeared.

“Superglue,” someone whispered. “He’ll be okay in a year or two. If he learns his lesson. Don’t piss off Bertha. And. Listening to biggers is deleterious to gnomely health…”

©️jj 2021

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