“Come And See”: Part Fifteen

This is the fifteenth part of a fiction serial, in 790 words.

Four weeks after the murder of George Greaves, Jo Drummond held a briefing for her team. “Okay, thanks to everyone for your hard work. We have been working on the theory that George was killed by James Walker, to stop him inheriting his mother’s money. But we have nothing on the suspect. We cannot place him at the scene, and there are no fingerprints of anyone in the flat except for George himself, and Mandy, his working girl. Young Walker has no form, and appears to be clean as a whistle. I couldn’t even get enough on him to justify a search warrant for the house. If he didn’t kill George, then we have the prospect of the famous ‘unknown stranger’, and that leaves it all wide open. The boss has told me to leave it pending for now, and for us to work on the two recent Post Office robberies. Bernie”.

Sergeant Cohen stood up. “Looks like we will have to wait until James kills someone else, and he’s sure to do that. He has a great alibi too. The receptionist and a nurse at the Edith Cavell unit both place him on Mollett ward at around the time of George’s death. Then his bird backs up him arriving home at two. But then she’s bound to do that. Anyway, on to those two robberies”.

On the day when the police had called round, Lesley had been left speechless when Jimmy had called her his fiance. He had never mentioned being in love with her, or getting engaged. She had always hoped that would come in time, and had no idea he had fallen for her so quickly. After they had left, she had been getting dinner ready, but the need to say something overwhelmed her. “Jimmy, you told that policewoman I was your fiance. Is that a proposal? Are you going to buy me a ring then?” Jimmy’s reply made her drop the cheese grater she was holding.

He said that they might as well just get married. If it was going to happen after an engagement, why not just do it now? He suggested they have a registry office wedding in about a month, to give everyone at work time to get used to the fact that they were together. After showering his face in kisses, a delighted Lesley couldn’t stop talking. “Oh they will all be convinced I am pregnant, you wait and see. Then there’s the age difference, everyone’s sure to have something to say about that”. Jimmy told her he was hungry, and she went back to finish preparing the best fish cakes with cheese sauce ever served to anyone.

Two days later, he bought her a ring in the local branch of H. Samuel. A solitaire diamond engagement ring that cost him a whopping two hundred pounds. Lesley burst into tears when the girl in the shop put one the right size on her finger. On the way home, Jimmy said he would phone the Registry Office from work tomorrow, and book the wedding. Lesley was excited, but worried. “You know I haven’t spoken to my parents for years, Jimmy. Not since that business with that horrible man I was going out with. He was my Mum’s second cousin, and he treated me like dirt. They expected me to stay with him, and we had a falling out when I said no”. Jimmy told her that he would ask Patrick Killane and his wife to be the witnesses, but there would be no party, or big cake. Then he gave her thirty pounds to buy a new dress and shoes to get married in.

Back at the house, Lesley sat admiring her ring, hardly able to believe she was about to get married. And to someone as good looking and clever as Jimmy too. He took out a very small notebook, and asked her the name of the second cousin who had been bad to her. It never occurred to her to ask why he wanted to know.

Jonathan Carrington hated being a bank manager. He hated his stupid wife too, and the greedy son who didn’t want to go to work. All he had to do was put in his time, and get the pension. Then he intended to leave the silly cow and her spoiled parasite of a son and go to live somewhere warm, like Spain. Eight more years seemed a long time. But they would soon pass.

He was thinking about drinking a beer on a beach at sunset. Or maybe some Sangria, followed by a plate of Paella. Perhaps with a dark-haired beauty by his side.

That meant he didn’t notice the young man following from a reasonable distance.

“Come And See”: Part Fourteen

This is the fourteenth part of a fiction serial, in 812 words.

Sergeant Bernie Cohen put his head around the door of Jo’s office. “I have been through that list with Derek. Four of the women are widows, and have no relatives. But the other one has a teenage son. Maybe he found out about her leaving everything to Georgy boy, and decided to make sure he wasn’t around to inherit. I have the address, do you want me and Derek to check it out?” Jo thought for a moment. “No, tell you what, Bernie. I will come with you”.

There was no reply, but Mrs Faraday had spotted the strangers outside Norah’s, and came along to find out what was going on. “Oh, Norah is in hospital. But her son Jim still lives here. He is at work though. There’s a woman living here too now, she moved in when Norah didn’t come out of hospital. I saw her bring suitcases, and a television too. She brought them in a taxi”. Jo thanked her and said, “We will come back this evening when her son is home”. As they got back in the car, Bernie smiled. “Thank heaven for nosey neighbours”.

Jimmy was doing so well at work that the head of department suggested they send him on Day Release to college once a week. He felt Jimmy should definitely work on his degree, as he seemed to have a natural talent for the job, and could go far with the right qualifications. Jimmy graciously accepted, though he was concerned that his work was going to get in the way of his need to make a difference. The next time God spoke to him through the television, he would be sure to say sorry for his slow start. Not out loud of course, but God would surely hear his thoughts.

As they walked from the bus to the house that evening, Lesley was holding Jimmy’s arm. She had been out at lunchtime and bought some nice fishcakes, and she was telling him about the cheese sauce she was going to make to serve with them. The man and woman got out of the car parked outside the house, and smiled as they both held up small wallets containing badges and identity cards. “James Walker? I am Detective Inspector Drummond. This is my colleague Sergeant Cohen. Can we come in and ask you some questions?” Jimmy smiled and nodded, taking his key from his jacket pocket.

Lesley offered them a cup of tea, but they declined. Jimmy waved a hand at the sofa, and they both sat down. The Sergeant took out a notebook, and clicked his pen, ready to write. Jo was formal, hoping to take the young man off guard. “Do you know a man named George Greaves? Your mother knows him. In fact she left him all of her money in the event of her death”. Jimmy was completely relaxed. He said he had met George once at the prayer group, and that his mother’s solicitor had told him that mum had left everything to George. But his mum was in a coma, so the same solicitor had arranged for him to have a power of attorney over her money. That was all he knew. Jimmy was still standing, and watched as the man wrote down everything he said. Then the woman continued.

“Could you tell me where you were last Sunday morning, James? Specifically around eleven-thirty to midday?” Jimmy answered without hesitation, telling her he was at home until at least eleven thirty, then he walked to the Cavell Unit of the hospital to see his mother. He told her there were no visitor records, but he was sure that the receptionist would remember him, as well as the nurse who spoke to him and suggested he have a conversation with his mum. Then he turned to Lesley sitting in the small armchair, and smiled. Jo took the hint, and said “Were you here at the time miss? Can you confirm what James has told me? What is your name by the way, and your relationship to James?”

“I’m Lesley Keane, and I can confirm everything Jimmy has told you. He was back from the hospital by two in the afternoon for dinner. It’s a long walk you know. And my relationship is, er, well, I’m his girlfriend and I am currently staying here while Norah is in hospital”. She looked up at Jimmy to see if it had been okay to say she was his girlfriend, but Jimmy was already telling the policewoman that she was his fiance, and he just hadn’t got around to buying a ring.

On the way back to the police station, Bernie turned to Jo. “What do you think?” She changed gears with a flourish as she replied.

“Creepy and weird. And what’s that with the older woman? I reckon it’s him, one hundred percent”.

“Come And See”: Part Thirteen

This is the thirteenth part of a fiction serial, in 732 words.

Patrick Killane sent Jimmy a letter about the power of attorney. He had to take it into the bank and show it to them. Lesley arranged for him to have an afternoon off, and the bank manager saw him privately, in a small office at the back of the branch. “You will be able to draw on your mother’s account should you need to, Mister Walker. Also access her deposit savings account”.

The man slid a sheet of paper across the desk. It showed that Jimmy’s mum had almost one thousand pounds in her current account, and close to eleven thousand pounds in her deposit account. Jimmy caught his breath. He could buy a small house for that much, and it intrigued him how his mum had managed to save it. He asked the bank manager if his absent father could access that money.

He smiled, and shook his head. “As I understand it, your parents are divorced. In that case, he has no claim on any money whatsoever. Please bear in mind that should your mother recover, it will be up to you and your lawyer to explain to her why you have gone ahead with the power of attorney. I trust you will not be taking out much more than you need to pay your bills and live normally?” Jimmy was rather annoyed at the man’s tone, so he thanked him for his time, and left.

After a late night and a long day, Joanne Drummond was briefing her team before they went home that evening. She had already been in to see the Chief Inspector, and he had told her to carry on with the usual routine for now.

“Okay, so we have a victim, George Greaves. His real name was George Gardiner, born in Bristol, in ninteen-nineteen. He was fity-one years old, and recently moved to the town from Birmingham, after being released from prison. He had served three years for fraud. George was well known to us, it seems. He was originally arrested as long ago as forty-two, during the war. He had been selling Army rations to black marketeers. He served time for that in military prison, before being dishonourably discharged at the end of the war”.

Jo moved away, signalling Sergeant Bernie Cohen to come up and speak. Bernie held up some papers. “Fraud, Deception, Theft, Burglary. George was a busy boy. Three more spells inside before the last one, and just occasional cash-in-hand jobs in between. According to Mandy, his regular pro, he was running a nice little scam being some sort of Evangelist. She says he used to pay her with cash from his collection box every Sunday. She also tells me he boasted about a few of the old women leaving him money or property in their wills. Derek has already looked into that, and one of the worshippers gave him a list of five women who agreed to make him a benficiary”.

Walking over to stop him continuing, Jo waved her arm. “Okay you lot, off home for now. Thanks for all your hard work so far. We will get onto that list tomorrow”.

Jimmy had something to do before Lesley got home that evening. He made a few notes in his book, then placed that in the carrier bag with the knife he had used on George. Taking the bag out to the garden shed, he lifted the grass box on the front of the lawn mower, and hid the bag underneath. No chance Lesley would find it there.

While he was waiting for her to come home and cook the dinner, Jimmy settled down with a new book he had bought in a second-hand shop. It was about the history of biological warfare, and he was fascinated to discover that the idea went back to ancient times, when rotting carcasses were used to pollute water supplies, and the tips of arrows were coated in human faeces to infect wounds. He was still reading it when she came in. “How did you get on, love? Everything okay at the bank? Dinner won’t be long, just sausages, egg, and chips tonight”.

He nodded a yes to each thing she had said, as he had got to a good bit about how Roman soldiers would place their swords into decomposed bodies, so that anyone wounded by them later would die of Tetanus.

“Come And See”: Part Twelve

This is the twelfth part of a fiction serial, in 736 words.

Detective Inspector Jo Drummond had worked hard to get where she was. Twelve years a copper, putting up with all the sex talk, and being told to make the tea, or look after lost kids. She had stuck with it, and even though most of the experienced men on her team obviously resented having a woman in charge, they had to admit she got the job done. That Sunday afternoon, she was on call, and not expecting anything much to happen in that sleepy town. So when the Control Room rang to tell her about a murder, she was as surprised as the victim had been.

The first two uniforms on scene had responded to a three-nines call from a local prostitute. She had been supposed to call on one of her regular clients, even had a key to his flat, it seemed. Jo had a chat with her outside. Mandy was pushing fifty, and had started to do house calls when street trade dropped off because of her age. She had been seeing the dead man, George Greaves, every Sunday afternoon for over a year. He had given her the key in case he was late back.

Once an officer had taken her statement, Jo let her go home. She was never going to be a suspect, and her fingerprints were on file anyway. Then Jo went upstairs to look at the scene. No sign of forced entry, and what seemed to be one stab wound to the neck. There was a lot of blood around, so she was careful not to step in it. Using the radio in her car, she requested the forensic team, and asked for the rest of her squad to be called in from home.

Jimmy made sure to talk to the receptionist at the Edith Cavell Unit, asking her for his mother’s room number. She seemed amused. “You mean what Ward, not what room. She is on Mollett ward, just along the corridor to your right. See the nurse on duty at the desk”. Jimmy thanked her politely, and soon saw the sign above the double doors halfway down. The nurse was checking drugs in a trolley, and smiled as Jimmy came in. “Mrs Walker? Oh yes, she is in the last bed on the left, by the window. Please go and see her”.

There were six beds on each side, and they were all screened off by curtains. He could hear the machines beeping at different rates as he walked along. Opening the last curtain on the left, he saw his mum lying there. Her eyes had tape on them to keep them closed, and she had an oxygen mask over her face. A tube ran from under the bedcovers to a big bag full of yellow fluid, and a glass bottle of clear fluid was hanging from a stand, a long plastic tube was leading down from it, attached to her arm with a taped-over needle of some sort. As he stared at her, the nurse’s voice behind him made him jump.

“You should talk to your mum you know. She can probably hear you, even though she is unable to respond”. The nurse injected something into the plastic tube, and went back to her desk.

Thinking he had better make it look good, Jimmy chatted to his mum. He told her that Lesley was looking after him now, and that he had been to see the solicitor about her money. Not really having a clue what else to say, he started to recite some of her favourite sections of The Bible, checking his watch to make sure he stayed long enough to convince the staff. Then some kind of alarm went off, and people rushed in to help the nurse. In all the commotion, he slipped out of the ward, making sure to say goodbye and thank you to the receptionist as he walked out.

It was only ten minutes after two when he got home, so he wasn’t that late for his Sunday dinner.

Lesley was dressed very nicely, and wearing a striped apron over her clothes to protect them as she dished up the meal. As well as the Yorkshire puddings and home-made mint sauce, she had done roast potatoes, carrots, and peas. As Jimmy tucked in heartily, Lesley beamed with satisfaction.

“There’s an apple and blackberry pie for afters. I made that myself”.

“Come And See”: Part Eleven

This is the eleventh part of a fiction serial, in 822 words.

Jimmy soon discovered that Lesley liked to watch a lot of television. She had many favourite programmes, which she also liked to talk about all the way through them. He didn’t mind too much, as every so often he would get a familiar message from the screen. One of the soap opera characters might be spouting the lines that Lesley expected to hear, but Jimmy would hear them saying “Make A Difference”, in that same voice he had heard in bed that night.

Reverend George wasn’t in the phone book. That meant Jimmy would have to go out on Sunday. He told Lesley he was going to visit his mum in the new unit. He would do that too, just so he was seen there by staff. Lesley was looking forward to cooking them a Sunday dinner. “I got a nice half leg of lamb, and I make my own mint sauce. Yourkshire puddings too, if you want. Try to be back by two, so I can time it all”.

Finding a place across the road from the hall where the prayer group met, he managed to wait out of sight on the corner. Knowing what time they usually finished, he only had to be there for a few minutes, so was unlikely to attract any attention. The scary old lady was out first, after unbolting the door, then a dozen or so followed her before George Greaves appeared and waved them goodbye. Then he locked the outside padlock, and took the key into the social club before walking away at a brisk pace.

Following at a reasonable distance, Jimmy had to be careful not to be spotted. The streets were quiet on that Sunday morning, and it would have been easy for Greaves to suddenly turn and spot him. Fortunately, he didn’t turn, keeping up his fast pace until he got to a row of shabby-looking shops that were all shuttered up. Between two of them, George stopped and let himself in with a key. Presumably, he lived in a flat above one of them, Jimmy concluded. Checking the time on his watch, he wondered if he should get on with things now, or come back another time.

In his head, he heard one of his mum’s favourite sayings. “No time like the present”.

There were two doorbells. One had a faded paper name-plate with ‘Strickland’ on it, so Jimmy pressed the other one. It took some time for George to answer, and he seemed very surprised, almost startled to see Jimmy. “What can I do for you, young James?” Jimmy explained about his mum being in the long-stay unit, and that he had hoped to talk to George about the special work that the Lord had for him. Checking his own watch, he stood back from the door. “Come on up, but I don’t have long I’m afraid”. He didn’t ask Jimmy how he knew where he lived.

Inside, the pokey flat looked nothing like a residence you might associate with a man of God. Piles of clothes covered most surfaces, and a glipmse into the kitchen as they walked past had showed that no washing up had been done for a very long time. George sat down on a greasy-looking armchair, and pointed at the one opposite. Jimmy didn’t sit. Instead, he asked George if he could use the toilet, and the man nodded. “Just by the front door, opposite the kitchen”.

In the small bathroom, Jimmy removed a plastic carrier bag from his coat pocket. It contained a knife he had brought from home, with a blade about eight inches long. He inverted the bag until it covered his hand and sleeve, then grabbed the knife through the plastic.

George was pouring himself a whisky when Jimmy returned, his right hand behind his back. Before he could offer a drink to the young man, Jimmy stabbed him once in the side of the neck, turning the blade flat as he withdrew it. As George dropped the bottle and glass, a mystifed look on his face, Jimmy stepped smartly to one side, carefully avoiding the jet of blood that spurted from the neck wound. George tried to stand, but fell forward onto his knees, the colour draining from his skin.

Leaving the reverend face down on the floor making a strange gurgling noise, Jimmy turned and went back into the bathroom. Running the plastic bag and knife under the tap, he waited until there was no chance of any blood drips, then turned the bag inside out, and put the knife back inside. Before leaving, he went to check that George was dead, waiting a full two minutes to be certain his chest wasn’t moving. Then using his sleeve on the catch, he opened the door and let himself out.

On the way to the hospital unit, the thought of that roast lamb was making his mouth water.

“Come And See”: Part Ten

This is the tenth part of a fiction serial, in 743 words.

“You know I will help you, Jimmy. I would do anything for you, you must realise that. What help do you need? Just tell me”. Lesley sounded desperate. She had been surprised by Jimmy turning down her offer of moving in permanently, and that showed in her quivering voice. He explained that he would need someone to look after him, but to ask no questions about where he went, and what he did. And if anyone came to the house asking about his movements, she was to say they were together at the time mentioned.

That sounded easy enough to Lesley, and she nodded vigorously. “I can do that, Jimmy. I will look after you, and tell anyone anything you ask me to tell them”. To seal the bargain, Jimmy led her upstairs to mum’s bedroom, and rewarded her with what he knew she liked best.

He got the afternoon off the next day, to go and see the doctor at the hospital. Lesley said she would get more things from her flat, including the television, then bring them over by taxi that evening. It was a different doctor who Jimmy was shown in to see. A young man who had already lost most of his hair, and seemed stressed during the conversation. “Well, Mister Walker. I think you are aware that there is little more that we can do for your mother at the moment. Our plan is to move her to the Edith Cavell unit, where long-stay coma patients are cared for. I would caution you to not expect to see any improvement, even in the long term”. Jimmy took the leaflet he was offered, explaining visiting times and procedures at the unit. Then he thanked the doctor and left.

On the way home, he called into Killane’s Solicitors, taking the man by surprise. “Mister Walker, I wan’t expecting you, but it just so happens I have some papers for you to sign. By the end of the month you should be able to control your mother’s money, both her current account, and deposit account too”. Jimmy told him about his mum moving to the long-stay unit, signed two documents at the bottom of the page, and then looked Killane in the eye. He said he was trusting him with all this, and sincerely hoped that it was all above board. Something in the young man’s gaze made the solicitor decidedly uneasy. “I assure you, it is all legal and straightforward”.

Lesley was flushed and excited when she turned up in the taxi. Jimmy helped her carry the portable television in, then paid the taxi fare as she dragged another large suitcase into the house. She produced a bottle of wine from her shoulder bag, and stood a carrier bag on the table. “I got us two nice steaks for tonight, and I will make some chips to have with them. I have sent my landlord a a letter giving notice on the flat, so by the end of next month it will just be you and me, living here”.

She headed off into the kitchen to peel potatoes and start preparing the meal. Calling to him from there, she sounded happy and upbeat. “I am going to have to change my address and phone number with work of course. That might cause a stir, so I thought we should say that you are renting me a room here, you know, just as a lodger. We can explain that you need the money to pay the rent once your mum’s sick pay stops. What do you think, Jimmy?”

When he didn’t reply, she carried on peeling the potatoes. Jimmy was writing down names in his notebook. George Greaves was already in there, and now he added the surname Killane, with a question mark next to it.

Over dinner, Jimmy said that the idea of her being a lodger was a good one, and they should stick to that story for now. Later on, they could start to let people know they were a couple, and it would seem like a natural progression of their relationship. Lesley loved the sound of that, imagining that she might even get an engagement ring to wear. If she had to buy it herself, she didn’t mind. With dinner over, it was still a little early to suggest going upstairs, so she had another idea.

“Why don’t we set up the telly, Jimmy? See what’s on”.

“Come And See”: Part Nine

This is the ninth part of a fiction serial, in 762 words.

Lesley wasn’t at all sure what Jimmy was on about. “Come and see. See what? What are you talking about, Jimmy?” He smiled at her, making her feel even more uneasy. Then he told her that it was just a thought he had. Something he needed to do. His mum wanted him to make a difference, and he had worked out what that meant. Lesley was relieved, presuming he was talking about charity work or something, so she went upstairs to have a bath.

Jimmy took out an old notebook, and started to jot things down.

Swords were not really an option. You didn’t exactly see many swords, and trying to buy one might be noticed. Still, big knives were like swords, and you could buy a big knife anywhere. Hunger was a possiblilty, and he would look into that. The third option was Death. That was easy enough, as it encompassed any form of death. Definitely the most flexible option. Beasts of The earth. That was a tricky one. No locusts in England to cause starvation, only one kind of poisonous snake, and no man-eating beasts outside of a zoo. But he thought of a couple of possibilities, even so.

A Fourth Of The Earth was a big ask. Even a fourth of that town was over ten thousand people. He wouldn’t have time for that, and it would sure to attract attention. He concluded that he would have to settle for what was practical. Even a few would be making a difference, and sending a warning to people to fear God into the bargain.

When Lesley came back down, she had made an effort. Hair washed, make-up on, and a nightdress that was almost transparent. She had decided that if she was to keep Jimmy’s affections, she had to make sure she looked her best. Convinced his mum was never coming out of hospital, she saw her chance to move in and be a couple. The fact he was ten years younger didn’t seem to bother him, and it certainly didn’t bother her.

He was writing in a small notebook. “What you writing about, Jimmy, is it work stuff?” She was hoping he would turn around and look at her, notice how sexy she was. But he carried on scribbling, and shook his head. He told her it was just a few ideas for a project, and if she wanted to, she could help. She was more interested in her own current project though. That of keeping Jimmy attracted to her. “Why don’t we go upstairs? We could have some fun, before an early night”.

Closing the notebook he nodded, then followed her up to his mum’s bedroom.

She was sleeping soundly when the voice woke him up, and she didn’t seem to have heard it. It was a man’s voice, in what was best described as a loud whisper. “Make A Difference”. Jimmy wasn’t remotely afraid. He knew what it was. God was finally talking to him directly, and confirming what he needed to do. He turned over and went back to sleep, a wide smile on his contented face.

There was a good library at work. Lots of books about chemicals, poisons, contaminants, and bacteria. It wasn’t permitted to take them home, but they could be read at anytime, and as a new employee, he was expected to study. Whenever he had a spare moment, he would be in the small library, making notes and flicking thorough large textbooks until he found the sort of things that interested him. The head of department even mentioned to Lesley that Jimmy was an excellent employee. Hard working, keen to learn, and no clock-watcher.

Sounding proud about that, Lesley told him what the boss had said, as they were on the bus home from work that evening.

After cooking a nice chicken dinner, Lesley cuddled close to him on the sofa. “Why don’t I bring my television from the flat? We could watch it in the evenings, maybe a film, or a nice play? I could bring it over in a taxi, it’s not very big.” Jimmy shrugged and told her she could if she wanted to, but he was going to be busy with notes on his project. Lesley pressed her advantage. “Maybe I should think about giving up my flat, and moving in here full time? It doesn’t look like your mum will be coming back to live here”. He shook his head, and told her that wasn’t going to happen.

Unless she really wanted to help him.

“Come And See”: Part Eight

This is the eighth part of a fiction serial, in 720 words.

All Jimmy knew about women was what he had learned from his one copy of Men Only magazine. In other words, he knew nothing at all about women. After thirty minutes with Lesley, he decided that the real thing was far preferable to a photo in a magazine, and she had also taught him more in that time than he had ever imagined. Following a short pause to finish the bottle of wine, she grabbed his hand and led him back upstairs.

“Your mum’s room this time, for the double bed. That tiny bed of yours will give me cramp otherwise”. Jimmy was tired long before his usual bedtime, and as Lesley curled her body around him and stroked his hair, he could feel his eyes closing. “Don’t worry, Jimmy. I am on the pill, so no little Jimmys to worry about. Not that I’m easy, you should know. There was only one before you, and he was a complete bastard”.

If she said anything else he didn’t hear it, as he was already asleep.

The next day at work, he felt awkward around her. She hadn’t bothered to make herself look nice that morning, so it was unlikely anyone suspected anything. Though on the way in, she had mentioned about packing a case again, and reminded him to get the key back from the neighbour. “And you really should ring the hospital today, and ask how your mum is”. He had almost forgotten about mum, so agreed he should do just that.

Mrs Wilby in the general office let him use the phone, and when someone was finally free to talk to him, he was told there was no change. That didn’t tell him much, but at least he had made the effort. Back in the laboratory, he told Lesley what the nurse had said. She seemed happy about that. “Oh good, I can come round tonight as planned then. I might just pick up fish and chips for dinner though, is that okay?” Jimmy was studying a slide under a microscope, so simply nodded.

Because Lesley had to go to her flat and pack, then queue for the fish and chips before she got to his house, Jimmy had plenty of time for reading when he got in from work. He was on the last chapter of the whole bible, The Book Of Revelation. Once he had finished that, he would have managed something few people have ever done. Read the whole of The Bible, Old Testament and New Testament too. Less the Minor Prophets of course, but they were probably best skipped.

He found a passage that really interested him, and read it twice.

‘And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.’

Now that was his kind of God. No messing about, take out a whole quarter of the human race, because he could. That was so much more interesting than parables, miracles, and all the ‘do unto others’ stuff he had put up with for years. A different reader might have interpreted that as a warning. Be God-fearing, or the fourth seal will be opened and Death will appear on a pale horse to punish mankind. But Jimmy wasn’t that sort of reader.

For him, it was a suggestion. Perhaps even an instruction.

When Lesley got back with her case and the fish and chips her hair was greasy, and she had no make-up on. Jimmy was hungry, and ate the food straight from the paper. She was a bit flustered, and looking at him with a worried expression. “What’s up with you, Jimmy? Sorry I’m not dressed up, but I’ve been busy. You didn’t even help with my suitcase, and I paid the taxi myself too. You have to learn to be a gentleman, to be kind. I’ve been very nice to you”. She didn’t like the strange look he gave her, when he turned round and said.

“Come and See”.

“Come And See”: Part Seven

This is the seventh part of a fiction serial, in 735 words.

Lesley was beginning to get on his nerves. As he tried to concentrate on learning the new job, all she wanted to talk about was what he liked to eat, and what his house was like. She told him not to worry if his mum never came home, as she would look after him for as long as he needed her. He had to actually ask her to talk about work instead, and he noticed that she was rather miffed at that comment.

By the time he got to Killane’s that evening, the staff had gone home, and the solicitor was waiting for him in the outer office. He treated Jimmy with respect, ignoring his age, and the fact he had no experience with legal matters. “Your mother recently changed her instructions to me. I know she is still alive of course, but given her condition, we may be looking at trying to get you a power of attorney, so you can access any finances should you need to. Are you happy for me to do this on your behalf?” Jimmy nodded, and had to sign three different pieces of paper on the line marked with an ‘X’ in pencil.

Killane was looking at him seriously. “Are you aware of your mother’s instructions in the event of her death?” Jimmy shook his head. “Well you should probably be aware that she has left everything to someone called George Greaves. She added a note that he should use the funds to continue to spread the word of God. In all honesty Mr Walker, you are in a far better situation if she remains alive, that’s the truth of it”. Jimmy didn’t find that very surprising. Though his mum had never mentioned leaving her savings to anyone else, it was just the sort of thing he would have expected.

The solicitor told him he would be in touch about the paperwork, and mentioned his own fee of course. Then he shook Jimmy’s hand and wished a speedy recovery for his mum.

It was past seven by the time Jimmy got home. Lesley opened the door for him, suggesting she had been looking out for his arrival. He would have to get mum’s key back from Mrs Faraday, he reminded himself. She had cooked a spaghetti bolognese with some garlic bread, and had a bottle of red wine open too. Jimmy had never eaten garlic bread before, nor drunk red wine, but he tried both, just to be polite. And as they ate, he noticed something different about Lesley. Her hair looked nice, she seemed to have a lot of make-up on, and her skirt was much shorter than she usually wore them at work.

He decided he should probably say something, so he thanked her for doing the cooking, and said she looked pretty. That was all he could think of.

“Well I had a wash and blow-dry on the way home from work, and bought a new outfit to wear. I’m glad you noticed, Jimmy. I can go to my flat after work tomorrow and pack a bag, presuming you would like me to stay and look after you of course”. Jimmy shrugged, and with his mouth full of pasta, settled for a nod. When they had finished eating, Lesley cleared away and went into the kitchen to do the washing up. When she went back into the living room, she was surprised to find he wasn’t there.

She found him in his bedroom, reading a huge Bible.

“That’s not very nice, leaving a girl sitting on her own downstairs. Why didn’t you tell me you were coming up to your room to read?” It hadn’t even occured to him that she had expected him to stay downstairs, so he apologised and told her he was close to the end of the New Testament, and hoping to finish it that week. “Are you Bible-crazy then, like your mum?” She seemed unhappy. Jimmy told her that he was used to being alone, and he only had The Bible to read. He wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and why his mum and her friends were so obsessed with it.

She reached over and closed the book. Slipping off her shoes, she knelt on the edge of the bed and began unbuttoning her blouse.

“Oh I think we can do better than reading that old thing, Jimmy”.

“Come And See”: Part Six

This is the sixth part of a fiction serial, in 690 words.

Jimmy checked that his mum was actually breathing. Then he rang 999 and asked for an ambulance, telling the dispatcher that his mum seemed to be unconscious. After that he ran along the street to Mrs Faraday, gave her his mum’s keys, and asked her to wait in his house for the ambulance. He told her he had to go to work, and couldn’t possibly be late. Giving her no time to argue, he headed off to the bus stop.

At the eleven o’clock tea-break, he mentioned to Lesley about his mum, and she was shocked to hear that he had still come into work. She went to tell the head of department, and he insisted that Jimmy leave work immediately, and go to the hospital. Jimmy was reluctant to go, telling his boss that he would call into the hospital after work, and see if she was still there. But with Lesley joining in, he had no alternative but to go and get the bus to The Royal Victoria.

Casualty reception was quiet that morning, and a kind older woman said she would get one of the nurses to come and speak to him. Ten minutes later, a crisp and efficient Nursing Sister appeared. She took Jimmy into an unoccupied cubicle and told him that his mum had suffered a serious stroke. She used the word ‘catastrophic’ in fact. Although she was still alive, and likely to stay alive, she would probably be unable to speak or move. She asked Jimmy about family who could help, and he told her he was it. Then she took him to see his mum in a side room.

Norah Walker looked like she was sleeping soundly. In fact, she was snoring. Jimmy looked at her, thinking she looked a lot older than she did yesterday. Behind him, the nurse talked about long-term care, possibly in a residential facility. She was sure Jimmy could never cope alone, and said the doctor would come to speak to him soon. She left Jimmy siting by the bedside, without a clue what to say or do.

The doctor looked tired. He said his name was Doctor Singh, and he was wearing a turban. But his accent was the same as Jimmy’s. He repeated what the nurse had said. Mum might never recover, but she could possibly live for many years yet, maybe as long as twenty years.

When he concluded by asking if Jimmy wanted him to try to get her into long-term care, Jimmy was nodding before he had finished speaking.

That night at home, Jimmy did something he had never done before. He went through all of his mum’s papers, which were stored neatly in a drawer in her bedroom. There was a life insurance policy, but as she was still alive, he ignored that. Then he found some papers from a solicitor in town. Patrick Killane Solicitors seemed to have dealt with all of his mum’s business, and he thought he had better contact them.

He phoned the number on the headed notepaper, and he was eventually put through to Patrick himself. He didn’t have the expected Irish accent, and spoke softly in a very cultured way. “Mister Walker, I think you should come in and see me. I have things to discuss now Norah is in this condition. Will tomorrow at six be suitable?” Jimmy confirmed that appointment, and hung up.

That night, he carried on reading the New Testament, and got as far as 1 Peter before falling asleep.

Lesley was all over him the next morning. She wasn’t talking about work at all, just telling him she would cook him dinner, even come to his house to do it if he wanted. She said he shouldn’t worry about work, as she had spoken to the boss. He was happy to give Jimmy as much time off as he needed. Norah was a long-term employee, and much valued. Lesley said that if he wanted, she could stay in a spare room at his house, and look after him.

Preoccupied with the meeting with Killane later, Jimmy just nodded, and gave her his door key.