Local playwright, John Goodwin, shares his latest novella in this six-part serialisation.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Ed
Harry eats nothing more than a single piece of thin white toast for breakfast with no butter, marmalade or even bacon and egg.
Doris comments, ‘Not much appetite Harry?’
‘Fraid not,’ he replied. ‘Maybe a bit of fresh air would do me good.’
‘In your garden?’
‘No…thought I’d go down to the woods. See if the first daffodils are showing through.’
‘Brave if they are after all this rain.’
‘Maybe they can teach me a thing or two.’
‘You’ve had a nasty shock.’
‘ I won’t be long,’ he says getting up from the table.
‘Put on Edward’s thick winter coat. He won’t be needing it this morning.’
‘Are you sure?’
As soon as Harry goes, Marion comes down for breakfast.
‘No Harry?’ she asks.
‘Poor man doesn’t know which way is up.’
‘You were very good with him last night. I couldn’t have done it.’
‘All that nurse training.’
Later Doris puts on her coat and says, ‘I think one of us should see that crack. It might be our turn next.’
‘Hope it’s not.’
‘They’re closer to the sea than us…just the width of the road.’
‘We’ve got to be positive.’
‘I’m trying to be,’ says Doris with a sigh.
‘I’ll come with you,’ replies Marion giving her Mother a hug.
They’re half way across the road when they bump into suit man.
They recognise him immediately from the dismissive description of him given the previous evening by Harry.
‘I was looking for Mr Whiteley,’ he says.
‘Gone out.’ says Marion sharply.
‘Do you know when he’ll be back?’
‘Why do you ask?,’ says Marion, looking at him straight in the eyes.
Suit man clutched his briefcase tighter and said, ‘I need to help him.’
‘He needs all the help people can give him at the moment. He’s staying with us,’ says Doris attempting to thaw the frosty atmosphere between the two.
‘My responsibility is one of safety…’
‘You mean he has to lose his home?’ asks Marion.
‘I need to speak to Mr Whiteley urgently.’
‘We’ll pass your message on to him,’ says Marion as she crosses back over the road towards her own home.
‘You mean our ex-neighbour,’ Marion says once they’re in the privacy of their garden.
‘Don’t talk like that Marion.’
‘He’s a goner. They’ll condemn his house.’
‘No they won’t.’
‘Do you know if he was insured?’
‘I doubt it. He said he couldn’t afford the premium.’
‘So he’s got nothing. What will he do?’
‘Suit man will call in the police. Get them to do the eviction.’
‘I’ve told Harry he can stay with us as long as he needs to.’
Doris doesn’t see Harry come into the garden and she immediately begins to apologise, ‘Sorry I’m talking about you behind your…’
‘No need Doris. I’m going to live in Birmingham with my sister.’
‘You don’t have to do that.’
‘I was relying on selling it. That will never happen now. I can’t get off this cursed island quickly enough’
Giles is late home.
‘But you promised.’
‘Sorry something came up.’
‘But I thought we’d miss all the traffic going early.’
‘Can’t be helped…just another few minutes…half an hour at most.’
Laura begins to pace the room nearly tripping over the packed suitcases.
‘Giles you really need a break and I thought this would be a lovely weekend away in the cottage.’
‘Still can be.’
Grid lock on the A3. Cars at a standstill.
‘Pass me the map.’
‘Don’t need a map. Sat Nav says straight on.’
‘Sat Nav is wrong.’
‘It’s never wrong.’
‘Just left down that lane.’
‘That’ll be crazy.’
‘No it won’t. Got to get to Guilford…then it will clear. We’ll catch the 6.30 yet. Look you can just pull through the gap.’
‘I hope you’re right about this,’
‘Look out Giles.’
A squeal of brakes. A BMW screams to a halt. Four passengers jerk forward straining on their seat belts. A bloodhound in a cage in the boot is thrown forward and yelps in shock.
‘Idiot.. she wasn’t even looking.’
‘Christ you nearly hit her.’
Giles gives a loud blast on his horn. The woman turns and flashes him a V sign.
‘Dad what are you doing?’
‘You could have killed her.’
‘I don’t believe you just did that.’
‘That’s enough you two. Nobody was hurt.’
‘Except Vulcan…can’t you hear him still yelping or have you suddenly gone completely deaf?’
Look out for part four of John Goodwin’s six-part serialisation, Undercliff Drive: A Novella. Ed